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Tuesday, 20 September 1904


Mr REID - Could I be beaten before? That interjection only shows the unhappyposition which a Prime Minister is placed in. I am blamed for having said after the election what could not have been said before !


Mr Mauger - What I meant was, that the right honorable gentleman would not accept the truce before.


Mr REID - Now, Mr. Speaker, I' think that amid all our personal controversies, something is due in the way of information to the great mass of the people outside, in the light of two statements made by the leader of the Opposition - one at the opening of the House after the election, and the other at Wagga Wagga only a month or two ago. I think I am entitled to ask my honorable friend whether he has promised the honorable and learned member for Indi that he will consent to the re-opening of the Tariff in this Parliament in order to make it more protective.


Mr Watson - I am sticking to the alliance programme.


Mr REID - There is a fearless public man who always says what he means ! He is sticking to a long document drawn up by a clever lawyer ! I will read what, fhe document says presently, if my honorable friend will resort to a lawyer's subtleties.


Mr Watson - I will take advantage of my opportunity in reply to say a word or two.


Mr REID - I shall not have an opportunity to reply then. The leader of the Opposition before the election, in a speech on 12th November, said -

He would not, under any circumstances, be a party to the disturbance of the fiscal peace now reached.

That was a statement made by the honorable member when he was addressing men whom he asked to vote for him on the faith of his honour as a public man. Are members to write out these promises that they intend to keep, and sign and seal them, so that there may be no mistake, as to the promises which they intend to keep, and the promises which they do not? Are not the electors entitled to accept such a statement from any honorable member, especially from a fearless, straightforward member such as my friend has always been? I am absolutely sure that the leader of the Opposition, in making that statement, honestly and honorably meant it; I am not throwing any doubt on that for one moment. When the House met, the leader of the Opposition again spoke, and though I am not quoting his exact words, honorable members will remember that he rejoiced that the fiscal question was dead, for this Parliament at any rate. On the 9th August, not much more than a month ago, the honorable member, as Prime Minister, spoke at the same place, Wagga, where he had given the promise to which I have referred. It is a double promise - a promise made by a man seeking the trust of the electors, and a promise by the Prime Minister of Australia, addressing the men who had trusted him. On that occasion the leader of the Opposition said -

I believe there is no probability of any appeal for the alteration of the Tariff being responded to during this present Parliament.

By the 9th August, we had heard wails of distress from the wailing member for Bourke, who, on a motion for the adjournment of the House, gave us a number of statements about the bad effects of the Tariff. I suppose the Prime Minister had heard that lengthy speech ; but, at any rate, if he was not present, he must have heard something about it, and, knowing of those statements from the corner, he went to his electors and said what I have just quoted. Now I come to this compact. The honorable member will not give me, or rather the public, an answer; I am not entitled to an answer, while the public are.


Mr Watson - The public will get an answer.


Mr REID - Then I ask the honorable member not to wait too many days, because the public are entitled to the latest information.


Mr Watson - Yes, from those in authority.


Mr REID - This compact in writing is what the public have got from the honorable member.

Legislation (including Tariff legislation)-


Mr Groom - Read it all.


Mr REID - Do not hurry me too much. The honorable and learned member may have written this paragraph, and is listening with the pride of a parent. The paragraph is as follows: -

14.   Legislation (including Tariff legislation), shown to be necessary -

(1)   To develop Australian resources;

(2)   To preserve, encourage, and benefit Australian industries, primary and secondary;

(3)   To secure fair conditions of labour - and so on. A free-trader can read those words in a free-trade sense just as easily as a protectionist can read them in a protectionist sense.


Mr Mauger - Then why worry over it?


Mr REID - I am coming to something more important. I am not worrying; it is the honorable member who will worry before all is over. I am beginning the worry, that is all. Those are words which speak to the ear in a double sense. Freetraders champion low duties, because they believe - they may be wrong, but they honestly believe - that a system of low duties helps to stimulate the great industries of Australia. The protectionist takes an opposite view, and thinks that a high scale of duties is necessary to that end. And, as I have said, a free-trader and a protectionist can read that paragraph as having opposite meanings. This is a clever legal document - strictly legal - but it is not the sort of information the public desire. The public do not wish for legal subtleties in matters affecting their vital interests ; they want straightforward declarations. I am not saying that some honorable members have not publicly stated their position, so that there is no doubt where they are. They have made their statements openly to the House and to the country ; and I am speaking now in reference to some gentlemen who do not belong to the Protectionist Party, holding altogether a different political faith on the fiscal question. There is the provision later on in the document, that - ..... Any member of either party may, as to any specific proposals -

(a)   Agree with the members of his own party, and be bound by their joint determination ; or

(b)   Decide for himself how far the particular circumstances prove the necessity - that is to say, the necessity has to be proved to my free-trade friends in the Labour Party- prove the necessity or the extent to which the proposal should be carried.


Mr Mauger - Hear, hear !


Mr REID - If the honorable member is satisfied with that-


Mr Mauger - The right honorable member will be satisfied with the result all right.


Mr REID - Has not the leader of the Labour Party distinctly told the honorable and learned member for Indi that that party will never vote for the revision of the Tariff in a protectionist sense? Will the honorable and learned member answer that? Has no free-trade member of the Labour Party told him that he will not vote for any alteration of the Tariff in a protectionist sense?


Mr Isaacs - None.


Mr REID - Now we are in the position that the honorable and learned member has been led by the free-traders in the Labour Party to believe that they are prepared to destroy their principles. This matter may become the sport of these alliances ; but the people outside regard it pretty seriously, because it affects them. I have now the information that the honorable and learned member for Indi, and his friends, have had no sort of communication from the freetrade members of the Labour Party as to their supporting or opposing such an alteration of the Tariff.


Mr Isaacs - That is not what the right honorable member asked.


Mr REID - Then I ask that question. I want the honorable and learned member to remember that I am not now troubling about protectionist members, with whom I have no concern, and who are entitled to say and do what they like.


Mr Isaacs - I shall give the right honorable gentlemen and the country a full statement by and by, but I can say that T understand there will be a loyal adhesion to the terms of the alliance.


Mr REID - What is "loyal adhesion" to a rope of sand ? What does " loyal adhesion " to that compact matter, when honorable members may believe there is a necessity, or may believe there is no necessity, for an alteration?


Mr Poynton - -Why call it a " rope of sand " ?


Mr REID - I shall tell the honorable member why - because there is the pretence behind this alliance that it is to bring relief to distressed workers in the Melbourne factories. Surely we need not play with the miseries and distress of the workers in these compacts. Surely, if these compacts achieve the personal end at which they are aimed, there is something behind them as a guarantee that that mischief is going to be dealt with. Will it be dealt with by an agreement like this?


Mr Mauger - We shall see whom the people will trust to deal with it.


Mr REID - I want to know whether the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will trust the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to deal with the fiscal question ? I think he will probably assert his own individuality in the matter. There is another gentleman who is positive and clear in his enunciation - I allude to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. When this Parliament met that honorable and learned member, according to Hansard, said -

Another question which has been definitely settled, so far as Queensland is concerned, is that there shall be no alteration of the Tariff.

Here is a trusted representative of the public coming back from his constituents, and placing on the parliamentary records what his commission was, and stating that the decision of Queensland - not of himself, not of his corner - was that " there shall be. no alteration of the Tariff." The honorable and learned member further said -

I think the people have declared that it is desirable that until the bookkeeping period has closed we should adhere to the existing Tariff.

That is to say, until 1911. Here we have voices from Victoria, the Prime Minister of the time, of the Melbourne Age, of the late Prime Minister in New South Wales, and in this House, twice repeated; and the voice of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, all declaring this public trust and this public decision, arid yet the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs now busies himself with a movement which is either a ghastly deception or is a betrayal of the people of Queensland. Now I come to the honorable and learned member for Indi, who was in the happy position of being returned unopposed at the last election. I think that his good fortune in that respect is not likely to happen to him again. But he is very much to be congratulated upon it, because it is a source of honour to any man to be returned by his constituents unopposed.

I can.not quote an election speech of the honorable member's, but he knows what it means to stand by and hear a number of men making public statements as to a fact, without- contradicting or correcting them. My honorable and learned friend has been marvellously conscientious and industrious during these four years. If an honorable member ever got up and was guilty of the slightest inaccuracy the honorable and learned member for Indi was swift to correct him.


Mr Isaacs - I must correct that inaccuracy.


Mr REID - I shall not quarrel over a trifle of that sort, but I wish to say that the honorable and learned member did not get up in this House and say anything contrary to the declarations to which 1 have referred. I desire to say that while the alleged distresses in the factories were going on, the honorable and learned member for Indi sat on the Ministerial dove-cot like a little dove full of love and good nature. One Government went out and another Government came in, but the little dove was on the dove-cot all the time. Why did not the honorable and learned member tell the late Government, or the preceding Government, about this necessity for Tariff revision? He is not a marionette used by a great daily organ that writes up a number of alarming statements, after which he jumps into the arena. -We know he is not that. We know he is not worked in that way. All I say about the honorable and learned member is this- - and this will not be denied - that for four years he sat steadily in his place, nearly always accepting all the Government said or did, and that, after that period of time, when some one else has come into office, he is suddenly so active that a soldier ant on a gridiron is lazy compared to the honorable and learned member. All at once that dense, philosophic calm, and that dignified complacency which has made him the admiration even of the galleries, are completely gone. There is no more rest for the honorable and learned member for Indi. Everything this Government even thinks of is wrong. Everything it talks of is wrong; and there is no man in this Chamber to-day who is more full of stratagem, and fire, and fury - still somewhat concealedthan is that calm, philosophical follower of past Ministries. The honorable and learned* member has never been accused, even by his bitterest enemies, of an extravagance of rashness or impulse, and he is probably intent on this Tariff revision which he has put before the public- and I believe he is, I believe that that is his motive, however sudden it is, however mysterious it is, still it is there, though it sprang up in a night - I say that the honorable and learned member who stands before the people of Victoria particularly as a man who has formed an alliance in the interests of Tariff revision, and who . cannot tell them that those with whom he is allied are prepared to support him in it, is fooling the people of this State. How do we stand now? I do not think the honorable member for Wilmot is likely to be converted to protectionist doctrines, and I am, therefore, including the honorable member on this point with Ministerialists. We are, therefore, thirty-eight, whilst there are thirty-six on the other side. I presume that my honorable friends opposite, who hold principles absolutely opposed to those of the honorable and learned member for Indi, have not consented to forget them on this question of Tariff revision? There are on the other side, eight honorable members who are, I will not say free-traders, but revenue Tariffists, anti-protectionists, staunch men whom I need not name. They are members of the Labour Party with whom the honorable and learned member for Indi is in alliance, and if only one or two of those eight, or none of them, support him, he can never have his Tariff revision in this Parliament. Is there one honorable member who represents the protection.!ists under the loyal flag, under the flag raised before the elections-


Mr Mauger - What colour is it?


Mr REID - There was no party flag hung up when the chief of protection stood before the people of Victoria.


Mr Mauger - He called the right honorable member and his supporters foreign traders in the same speech.


Mr REID - I should like to know from the then Prime Minister, when he addresses the House, if he does, whether one of these gentlemen remonstrated with him .on the line of policy .he was taking?


Mr Mauger - Did the right honorable gentleman remonstrate with him ?


Mr REID - - If they did they are free. But I say that if any man allows his leader to make a manifesto to the people of Australia, and does not contradict what he says, as to what his course is going to be, he leaves himself in a false position to say the least of it. I wish to refer to this aspect of the question for another reason. Honorable members have heard the derisive cheers when I spoke of betraying a cause. These honorable members who sit so quietly opposite in fiscal peace with protectionists - the honorable member for Wide Bay for example-


Mr Fisher - What about him?


Mr REID - I say the honorable gentleman was sitting in a Ministry with four protectionists, and did any one accuse him of betraying his fiscal creed?


Mr Fisher - I never in my life declared a fiscal creed to be greater than the labour movement.


Mr REID - Then I leave the honorable gentleman out. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney also took his seat in a Ministry with four protectionists, and did any one ever accuse him of betraying his fiscal faith ?


Mr Hughes - No, because, as the right honorable gentleman is aware, I am a labour man first, and everything else a long way afterwards.


Mr REID - But always going straight on the fiscal question?


Mr Hughes - The right honorable gentleman does not understand or appreciate what going straight means, on any question.


Mr REID - I think that before I have done, I shall deal with that observation.


Mr Hughes - I hope so. If the honorable gentleman does not, I shall.


Mr REID - It must be very painful to the honorable and learned member, who sat behind me, with nothing but admiration for eight years of my public life.


Mr Hughes - Eight years?


Mr REID - Eight or ten years.


Mr Hughes - I was one of those who took a chief part in throwing the right honorable gentleman out.


Mr REID - That was afterwards.


Mr Hughes - After what? After I had some experience of what the right honorable gentleman was.


Mr REID - The honorable and learned member might, at least, be fair. Did I endeavour to shirk the fiscal question when we were before the electors? I did not accept the easy part then. I took up the fighting part, and went all round Australia endeavouring to convince the people that the Commonwealth Tariff should be lowered, and lowered in a revenue Tariff sense. But the verdict of the people was against me.


Mr Mauger - And yet the right honor- . able gentleman says that there is a fiscal truce.


Mr REID - The honorable member can see that the truce was not mine; it was a truce made between the protectionists and the people of Australia. I wished to carry on the fight. The electors heard us both, and declared a truce by returning a larger number of members who believed in a truce than were returned to follow me in making a fight. I ask any fair-minded man if, having done my best to carry out the principles for which I have fought all my life - principles which were put into practice in New South Wales when I had the power - if, having done my best to achieve the triumph of those principles throughout Australia, and the verdict of the people being unmistakably against me, I should be accused of treason ; if when I have been overwhelmingly defeated I should be charged with betraying my cause? I wish now to come to that calm and critical intellect, the honorable and learned member for Indi. He made no speeches during the elections, but fortunately he the other day committed himself to a definition of fiscal peace. I am grateful to him for that. I will read two passages from his speech, which occur within thirty lines of each other, and I will ask the House to reconcile them. Speaking of the electors, he said -

They declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the protectionists and the free-traders, and that the protectionist flag should still continue to wave.

That is quite true. The Tariff had been passed. It was a protectionist Tariff., and by decreeing a fiscal truce during this Parliament the electors decreed that tha protectionist Tariff should continue as it was, that, in that sense, the protectionist flag should continue to wave. The honorable and learned member in that passage said, not that the free-traders were finally defeated and annihilated, but that there was a pause, that the electors had declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the .protectionists and the free-traders. Did that mean annihilation and defeat? Yet fifteen lines above the passage which I have just, quoted the honorable and learned member is reported to have said -

I shall tell honorable members what that fiscal peace meant. It meant this, that the contest in Australia between the policy of free-trade on the one side, and the policy of protection on the other, was decided. There was to be no more struggling as to which policy was to be triumphant.

In the one breath the honorable and learned member spoke of there being a pause between the two great warring camps, and in the next he spoke of the final overthrow of free-trade. How can those statements be reconciled ? In the one breath he said that free-trade was finally vanquished, that it was dead, while in the next he declared that the verdict of the electors was that there should be a pause between the two great antagonists. The latter is the true description of the- circumstances.


Mr Isaacs - Will the right honorable gentleman kindly read the sentence immediately following the first quotation?


Mr REID - I will read it all. I had a reason for not being too frank about my authority for the quotation, because I did not know that I should be in order in making it. However, I will read all that the honorable and learned member said about the fiscal peace.


Mr Isaacs - I do not ask the right honorable gentleman to do that ; it will be sufficient if he reads the sentence which follows the first quotation.


Mr REID - The speech from which I am quoting will be found on page 4457 of the Hansard report. 1 \s I have stated, the second sentence was uttered before the first, but I will now quote .the whole passage. It reads as follows : -

I shall tell honorable members what that fiscal peace meant. It meant this, that the contest in Australia between the policy of free-trade on the one side, and the policy of protection on the other, was decided. There was to be no more struggling as to which policy was to be triumphant. We had erected the standard of protection, and that flag was to fly all over Australia. When the Prime Minister, in Sydney, taunted the protectionists of Australia, and said that they had that " tired feeling," and that they dared not raise the protectionist flag before the people of Australia, we dared to do so, and the people supported us.

The honorable and learned member was unopposed. I do not know where he did it. :I did not hear of him speaking anywhere -

They declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the protectionists and the free-traders, and that the protectionist flag should still continue to wave.

That is the Tariff. We admit that the Tariff is to continue to wave.


Mr Isaacs - Will the right honorable member read the next sentence ?


Mr REID - I ask my honorable and learned friend how can it be said that one army has been totally annihilated if, when the two great armies are face to face, there is a pause? How can one of the armies be destroyed when there is a pause, and no fighting is taking place? The sentence upon which the honorable and learned member relies is this -

But they never said that in this declaration of peace .between two warring camps any details of protection should remain unattended to.

What are the details of protection? The putting up of duties. Is not that the reopening of the Tariff contest? Coes it not strike across a free-trade principle? What did all our fighting over a 10, 12 J, or 1 5 per cent, duty on machinery mean ? Do honorable members recollect the conflict between the two Houses which resulted in a duty of 12 J per cent, being fixed upon as a compromise? What are the details of the Tariff but the determination of the question whether a duty is to be 16, 20, or 30 per cent. ? It does not matter what policy I put before the electors, but it matters what the verdict of the electors was. It matters what the candidates who went before them promised the people. If I had come back with a majority, I should have been bound to fight the battle to a finish ; but I was beaten at the polls, so that I could, not fight it. My honorable friends opposite have remained loyal to their obligations, and to the pledges which they made to the people ; but I do not think that my honorable friends on the corner benches have done the same.


Mr Crouch - Before the right honorable member leaves the fiscal question, will he deal with the question of starch?


Mr REID - That is included in the fiscal truce. But if there is one thing which the honorable and learned member needs, it is a little more starch. I shall probably be attacked for the next two or three weeks to come. That is a luxury of my position, which I must take with the honour attaching to it. But I wish to anticipate one or two of the most unfair attacks which may be repeated, attacks made on the ground of my abandonment of principle. It is so easy to charge a man with abandoning his principles. When I fought the free-trade fight, and was vanquished, I did not abandon my principles in accepting the verdict of the electors. What sensible man would ask honorable members to prove false to their convictions and to their pledge to the electors? That would be an infamous attempt, if I made it, and also an insane one. When I was before the electors I denounced, and I denounce still, that provision in the Post and Telegraph Act under which coloured crews cannot be employed upon the steamers carrying the mails to Australia.


Mr Mauger - When is the right honorable member going to amend it?


Mr REID - I shall give the honorable member my answer ; he will get no quibbling from me. I went all over Australia denouncing that clause. I said then, as I say now, that if the people returned a sufficient number of members to enable me to effect a change, I should bring it about.


Mr Mauger - The right honorable gentleman should have made an effort in that direction.


Mr REID - I have great duties to perform to the people of Australia. Am I to be debarred from public life, because the people of Australia differ from me upon that subject ?


Mr Crouch - Or upon any other subject.


Mr REID - I had run a fair course in public life when the honorable member was in knickerbockers - and, probably, he never could keep them clean.


Mr Poynton - That is a statesman-like utterance.


Mr REID - Little Turveydrop is always worrying. There is another matter that I denounced all over Australia, in regard to which I tried to secure a majority. I am quite in sympathy, as my whole life has shown, with the White Australia movement. Honorable members opposite should not talk about a White Australia policy as if they had invented it. The whole of the party to which I belong, in New South Wales, which was led" by Sir Henry Parkes, passed measures to secure a White Australia twenty years ago, and that party has stood steadily to that policy through all these years. I took a position as strong even as that assumed by the Labour Party with regard to that policy, and I went beyond the Government when the Bill was before us. With regard to employment upon the ocean, however, I say that we have no right to make the oceans of the world white. We should be guilty of the grossest tyranny and' injustice if we did so.


Mr Cameron - We cannot do it.


Mr REID - We are trying as much as we can. Iri connexion with our mail services there is one little chance of trying to do it. By-the-bye, our friends who will not allow the British subjects of the Indian Empire to be employed on the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's steamers are proposing to amend the terms of our land mail contracts in order to permit of our own coloured people being employed in connexion with them. That is surely a very proper thing to do; but under the Post and Telegraph Act the men who owned Australia, or their children, are debarred from performing this work. That is a lovely extreme to push a great principle to. Upon the oceans of the world, which are as .much their property as ours, the coloured subjects of the great Indian Empire should occupy as good a position as any Australian. Now I come to She matter of contract labour. I am. absolutely in sympathy with the intention of the clause as expressed at the time it was adopted. We do not want any use made of contract labour at strike time, nor do we want any frauds or impositions to be practised upon people in distant countries with regard to terms of labour and wages. I am with honorable members opposite upon that point. But it is absurd to say that a man who, instead of coming out here as a pauper, without a prospect, secures a job before he starts, comes out here in shackles. Does that not sound like Tom Mann and Socialism ? The "shackles of wagedom." These matters have stirred me to the greatest depths, and it has been a source of the greatest disappointment to me that I have not had an opportunity of dealing with them. I have, however, had to put up with the position, and now I have had to form an alliance with gentlemen who differ from me on that point, which I did not consider of sufficient importance - in view of the fact that the people had decided against me - to block the coalition. How can it be said that I have abandoned my principles ? Why is this abuse reserved for me ? 'I have sat silent for years under a cloud of infamous abuse, involving my own personal honour. Only the other day, the honorable and learned member for Corio published, in the Melbourne Age. a letter addressed to the farmers of Victoria, in which he attacked me personally. He made some reference to my lavish expenditure. Upon that point I may say that during my last two years of office in New South' Wales the expenditure was less by ^12,000,000 than during the two years following my retirement from office. I shall not, however, touch upon that point.


Mr Crouch - The board appointed to inquire into the matter decided that the expenditure was not less.


Mr REID - I am happy to say that 1 have in my hand a letter from that board, which I shall read to the House. I do not care about the imputation with regard to lavish expenditure, but I do care about the imputations cast upon my personal character.


Mr Crouch - I have a letter from the chairman of the board, Mr. Dibbs, in which he says that the right honorable gentleman's accounts were cooked.


Mr REID - I only wish to say that tonight I am going to bring evidence before this House and Australia, both inside and outside. The accounts of a great State are not signed bv the Treasurer alone, but also by the higher officials in his Department, and if there has been some dishonest manipulation of the accounts, there is an accomplice in the Treasury.


Mr Fisher - They need not necessarily be dishonest manipulations.


Mr REID - I do not mind statements that do not convey that impression. I shall read the letter of the honorable and learned member, and I shall ask whether any honorable member would remain silent under such imputations.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why bother about them ?


Mr REID - Because other people behind the honorable and learned member have been doing the same thing ; because this poison has been circulated in Victoria with the deliberate object of crippling my usefulness in the great public fight in which I am engaged. In New South Wales, where I am known, where I have lived nearly all my life, and where I have stood before the public all my life, I need not waste my time, because I never stood stronger in the public estimation in that State than I* do to-day. These miserable slanders outside of my own country may run their wicked course, but, in my own State. I am happy to say that I have received marks of the confidence and the respect of the people which I think no other public man in Australia ever received. I shall pass by the matter of lavish expenditure referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corio. I do not care about that, because it does not involve any personal imputation. The honorable and learned member says in his letter -

It is notorious that his accounts were publicly condemned as cooked ; and that a disinterested 8 b board, appointed by the Government, consisting of the general managers of the leading banks in Sydney, supported this criticism by finding that public moneys had been misused, accounts doctored, and balances wrongly applied.

I say that if that were true, I should have no right to stand in any public assembly of honorable men. I have had these things, in a milder form, hurled at me, but never in that form. In view of the use that is being made of these slanders, which are being employed, not to defame me as a man, but to injure me as a public man, I have felt it to be my duty to bring evidence to bear on the subject. I shall first read a letter from the gentleman who was accountant to the Treasury during the whole term of my office. In order to show the standing of this gentleman, I may tell' honorable members that my successors - I do not know whether it was the Administration of the honorable member for Hume or that of Sir John See - promoted him to the high position of AuditorGeneral of New South Wales. That shows he was a man of high standing.


Mr Crouch - Why does not the right honorable gentleman read the finding of the board ?


Mr REID - I propose to read a letter from the board, with regard to these slanders. I submitted them to the board, and I have their letter signed by ever)' member. The honorable and learned member's letter appeared in the Age of the 9th September. The first letter in reply to my inquiries, which I will read, is dated the 13th September, and reads - -

Auditor-General's Department,

Sydney, 13th September, 1904.

My Dear Sir,

In reply to your favour received this morning, I am pleased to express my opinion, which is formed on my own personal knowledge, that at no time during your occupancy of the Treasury in this State was there any interference on your part, or on the part of any member of your Ministry, with the preparation of the public accounts of this State, and that the balances as published and used by you were as prepared and presented to you by the officers of the Treasury, and were in all respects statutorily correct ; and no suggestion as to any alteration thereof, with a view of showing different results, was at any time ever made to me as accountant for the Treasury -

And I ask honorable members to listen to what follows, because it constitutes the most absolute vindication of all - and also, that the accounts, as subsequently published, exhibited in all and every respect the same figures and results as when they were first laid before you by me, acting as accountant to the Treasury.

Yours faithfully,

J.   Vernon, Auditor-General.

That officer was the accountant, who signed every statement which I submitted to Parliament. I shall now read a letter from the Under-Secretary to the Treasury, a gentleman who has occupied that position for many years, and who still fills it. He says -

Treasury, New South Wales,

Sydney, 13th September, 1904.

Dear Mr. Reid,

I am in receipt of your note of 10th inst., and regret very much to hear of the baseless charges levelled against you in respect of your administration of the finances of New South Wales -

I sent a copy of the charges to each of these gentlemen.


Mr Crouch - I sent them.


Mr REID - Surely the honorable and learned member might begin to be ashamed of himself.

The charges could only have been made by persons utterly ignorant of the facts, and also of the terms of the report furnished by the committee appointed by your successor at the Treasury. To your inquiry as to whether you ever suggested, or- endeavoured to do anything at variance with the highest standard of political honour and integrity, I can only answer, emphatically, "No."

Trusting that you are well, with kindest regards,

Yours, very truly,

F.   Kirkpatrick.

Those gentlemen are no longer under my control. They are absolutely outside my sphere of influence. The next letter which I propose to read to the House is from the gentleman who became Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales when the honorable member for Hume quitted State politics and who continued in that office for four years. I vacated the position in 1899, and Mr. Waddell became Colonial Treasurer in 1900, and retained office until 1904. Mr. Waddell says - 14th September, 1904.

Dear Mr. Reid,

Owing to pressure of work, I have got behind in my correspondence, and only just opened your letter, and read the extract which it contains, which you say appeared in a letter in the Melbourne Age of the 9th inst. When you ask my opinion of the statements or charges contained in the extract, I feel bound, in fairness to you, to say that no one is justified in making such charges, and I feel sure that whoever has made them, will, in his calmer moments, withdraw them unreservedly.

Yours sincerely,

T.   Waddell.

Further, as the Under-Secretary to the Treasury tells us, the statement that the report of the committee of leading bankers, which was appointed by the Government, arrived at findings which supported these infamous charges is absolutely opposed to the truth. I wrote to Mr. French, being under the impression that he was chairman of the committee in question.


Mr Crouch - Mr. Dibbs was the chairman.


Mr REID - One would think that the honorable and learned member for Corio was making this explanation. I repeat that I wrote to Mr. French personally, thinking that he acted as chairman of the committee. He informed me, however, that he did not so act, but that Mr. Dibbs was the chairman. He interviewed Mr. Dibbs and Mr. Yarwood, the other members of the committee. Mr. Dibbs, I may add, was the general manager of the Commercial Bank ; Mr. Russell French, the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales ; and Mr. Yarwood was an accountant. These three gentlemen have written me the following letter : -

Sydney, 17th September, 1904.

Dear Mr. Reid,

Referring to your note of 10th inst. to Mr. J. Russell French, covering extract from a letter published in the Melbourne Age, our report, which is referred to, speaks for itself, and should not have given rise to any misapprehension.

In view, however, of the remarks in the extract in question, it is but just to you to state that we made no reflection whatever on your personal honour or integrity, nor did we intend to suggest any improper manipulation of the Treasury accounts by yourself or the Treasury officials, as would seem to be implied by the terms " cooked " or " doctored " - which appear in the letter.

Yours faithfully,

 


Mr Fuller - Can the honorable and learned member for Corio produce Mr. Dibbs' letter stating that the accounts were " cooked " ?


Mr REID - I have simply to ask the House to pardon me for introducing this personal matter. I think that every honorable member in the Chamber will feel sufficient sympathy with me - after the infamous slanders which have been circulated against me for so many years - to admit that I should at last take notice of them, not because I need to clear my reputation in New South Wales, or perhaps even in Australia, but because I have the interests of Australia in my hands now, and I do not wish to see any man occupying this position against whom such accusations can be justly uttered. Passing from that matter I should like to point out that there is a statement due to the public of Australia, which I hope will be made by the honorable and learned member for Indi, if not by the leader of the Opposition, as to whether this alliance is a mere piece pf legal network, from which any honorable member can escape, or whether it has a solid business meaning. We are all entitled to know that.


Mr Mahon - The right honorable member is very much interested.


Mr REID - Are we not all interested? Is it not a fair subject for criticism ?


Mr Hughes - Is not the right honorable member criticising it?

Mr.REID. - Yes, and I am entitled to do so. If honorable members opposite complain as little as I do, they will not complain very much. I have been accused of engaging in all sorts of intrigues to bring about the defeat of the late Administration in connexion with the Arbitration Bill. There are a number of my supporters here who know exactly the position which I assumed upon that matter. I have been quoted as saying that nobody would receive any black looks from me, if they voted against the Deakin Administration upon that Bill. I wish to explain exactly how that statement came to be made, because it is so easy to quote an isolated utterance without giving the context of it. In a leading article which appeared in one of the great journals of Sydney I was called upon to exercise my authority to coerce my supporters-


Mr Wilks - Which the right honorable member would not attempt to do.


Mr Fisher - When the right honorable member came to Victoria to enter into an alliance with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, he said that he would answer for every one of them.


Mr REID - Because they had accepted it. I must now lift the curtain to explain that matter. I do not in the least mind lifting it. Before I entered upon those negotiations I had sounded the members of my party as to whether they were in favour of my doing so.


Mr Groom - To what coalition does the right honorable member refer?


Mr REID - To the coalition with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I sounded my followers as to whether they were in favour of the adoption of that course. I suppose that was a fair thing to do. They are not cattle, to be bought and sold at Smithfield. When I learned that they were thoroughly in favour of a move of that sort, I felt very great confidence in my dealings with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.


Mr Spence - Were they unanimous?


Mr REID - I do not know. They were unanimous at the meeting which was held, with the exception of the honorable member for Dalley, who . did not express any objection to the negptiations.


Mr Wilks - I was not in favour of the coalition, but I would not join the Labour Party.


Mr REID - With the exception of the honorable member for Dalley, all my supporters were unreservedly in favour of the coalition. The night that the article in question appeared, I happened to be addressing a public audience, and I said that I would not influence my supporters in connexion with the Arbitration Bill either one way or the other. Many, including my honorable friend, had pledged themselves to the electors on the question of the inclusion of the railway servants of the States. I said, " I am not going; to use any such influence at all." I naturally said, " If any member is to be deflected from his principles in order to save the Government, why should I be picked out? Why should I be selected to save the Government?" I thought that if anything was to be done in that way my honorable friend ought to set to work among his own followers. ' It was foolish to ask me to do such a thing.


Mr Kelly - The right honorable gentleman certainly did not attempt to influence the members of his party.


Mr REID - One or two honorable members of my party asked my opinion ; but I declined to advise them in the slightest degree, either in one way or the other. I can quote one instance of this, which the honorable member for Grey will be able to corroborate. When the party held a meeting at the opening of the present Parliament, I spoke so strongly in support of the stand taken by the then Prime Minister, that the honorable member for Grey rose after I had resumed my seat and Said he wished it to be distinctly understood that honorable members of the party were to have a free hand.


Mr Bamford - Was that a caucus meeting?


Mr REID - It was not, because I am able to tell the House what occurred at it, while a member of tlie Labour Party is never in a position to say what transpires at a meeting of their caucus.


Mr Poynton - I told the right honorable gentleman that I could not follow him in his public utterances.


Mr REID - That is quite true, and no one expected the honorable member to do so. I am sure the honorable member is perfectly fair, and he will do me the justice to corroborate that which I have said - that I expressed my own individual view as being strongly in favour of the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.


Mr Poynton - That is so.


Mr REID - Therefore, so far from there being any of this miserable intriguing, I left my honorable friends - the members of my party- - absolutely free. At a meeting of the party, I earnestly expressed my view in favour of the course taken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. How is it that I am singled out for these attacks? I do not think that any other man is picked out in the same way. I merely mention the matter now, because it has been imputed to me that I have been manipulating the votes of honorable members in every possible way. I defy any man to single out one honorable member of' this House whom I have ever approached since this Parliament met with a view to induce him to vote in any other way than he wished to do.


Mr Poynton - How many members of the right honorable gentleman's party knew that the present Minister of Defence had his support in moving the amendment in regard to' clause 48 ?


Mr REID - There was no bond of secrecy associated with the moving of that amendment. This is another pitiable complaint, and it seems to me to be utterly childish. Is this House so constructed that when important matters are to be decided, the proper course is to go into Committee, where a representative of the people is deprived of his vote ? Is it a democratic idea that a vital matter shall be decided when one honorable member is necessarily prevented from casting his vote?


Mr Poynton - Does not that frequently occur?


Mr REID - It is not a democratic idea. This explains the true soreness of honorable members opposite. The true soreness associated with the vote in question was due to the fact that honorable members opposite could not prevent one honorable member from expressing his. honest convictions by putting him in the chair in Committee.


Mr Fisher - The least said about that matter the better. Honorable members on the Treasury benches know that that is so.


Mr McCay - The least said the better in the interests of the Opposition.


Mr Fisher - No.


Mr REID - I do not complain of it. I think I may fairly say that the present leader of the Opposition took up the position that under our party and parliamentary systems we pushed to its extreme the practice of making questions vital. I believe that has been the objection raised by the honorable member. He has urged that there is too much of this system of party government, and of the lives of Governments depending on questions that come before the House.


Mr Mahon - The right honorable gentleman will make nothing vital to the life of his Government.


Mr REID - May I ask the ex-Minister to allow me, an actual Minister, to make a little Ministerial statement? It is a sore business, but I had to submit to it for four years, and now the Opposition have to undergo the same experience. I merely desire a few months, that is all. The present leader 'of the Opposition, in referring in the course of his Ministerial statement to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, made the following remarks, which are to be found at page 1268 of Hansard: -

In September last, when the Bill introduced last session was dropped by the late Administration, I took the stand that they had no right to make a matter of detail a Government question.

In other words, he urged that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in standing by, as a vital matter, the position that the extension of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to States servants was unconstitutional, and a gross interference with the rights of the States, did wrong, because it was after all only a matter of detail. We see the difference sometimes in the views held by men when they hold positions of responsibility as compared with those which they express when they do not. An honorable member had asked the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for Bland, if he would regard a vote against the extension of the provisions of the Bill to States servants as vital, and, in reply, the honorable gentleman made the statement which I have just read. A little later on, he said -

For my own part, I expressed the view as far back as six or seven months ago that the matter was one of detail, and, therefore, if occasion arises, I shall be free to take any course without going back upon principles already enunciated.

That is my .point. The honorable member took a most liberal view of what was due to himslf . " You have terrible objections to these clauses ; but they are to be taken as a matter of detail." That was his advice to the honorable and learned member. for Ballarat. "Do not mind," he said; "but go on with the Bill." The scene changed. The honorable member, who advised the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to sink his views of political honour as a Prime Minister, came into office. He occupied the same responsible position, and-


Mr Poynton - What did the right honorable gentleman say ?


Mr REID - This matter has nothing to do with the honorable member, except in so far as he is a listener.


Mr Poynton - It has a good deal to do with me.


Mr REID - I trust that the honorable member will bear with me. I come now to the question on which the late Government shipwrecked themselves. The House will remember that the Committee decided by a majority of five to insert in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill a provision that the Court, before granting preference to unionists, should be satisfied that a majority in the industry affected was favorable to the making of such an award. The Government said, " We will ask the Committee to reconsider that decision." But before they did that .they made the statement that if the Committee would not eat their own words, and go back from, their decision, as expressed in the Bill, the Government would take the view that their services were not required. That was done by the Prime Minister. Yet when we came to the recommittal, consider the view which the Prime Minister took of the difference between what was in the Bill and what was proposed to be put in tHe Bill. He did not think of resigning at first, and I do not blame him for that. If a decision is a close thing there is a tendency that way. Here is what the Prime Minister said when this proposal to recommit was challenged by the honorable and learned member for Corinella -

If anything approaching a majority apply for a preference, the Judge may reasonably hold that they substantially represent all engaged in the industry.

That is to say, if any number approaching a majority applied for preference, the Judge might reasonably know that they represented substantially all engaged in the industry. Then the honorable member went on - the remarks are reported in Hansard, page 4047 -

Under the proposal of the honorable and learned member, the Court could not dispense with rigid proof of the existence of a majority in favour of the granting of a preference, while, under our proposal, if they were reasonably assured of the fact, it would not have to be mathematically demonstrated to them. That is the only difference between the two proposals.

That means there is precious little difference between the two, and that the honorable member's previous view was absolutely wrong. The Judge, in interpreting a measure of this sort, would not be required to have mathematical demonstration. That would be absolutely ridiculous. The provision must be read in reference to the subjectmatter. Mathematical demonstration would mean a plebiscite all over Australia - in every hamlet in Australia. The thing is absurd. The Judge to be " satisfied." meant that he was satisfied from information before him - reasonable information- - that such a majority existed.


Mr Deakin - The words are, " in the opinion of the Court."


Mr REID - That is much weaker still. The word " satisfied " is a much stronger word. I want to point out that the man who was so careless about the political honour and integrity and independence of his predecessor, was so scrupulously tender about his own as to stake his existence - on what ? Did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat ask the House to undo something which it had done, and state that if it would not undo it, he would resign? Nothing of the kind. He said, " I cannot allow that to be put in the Bill " -a very different thing.- His successor said, "It being in the Bill - the House having affirmed it, and decided it - you must stultify yourselves, or we will have nothing more to do with it. ' ' That is carrying matters, I do not say to an unfair extreme ; I do not, for a moment, say that the honorable member was not justified in doing that - I only say that his views have altered very much since he expressed an opinion on the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.


Mr Hughes - The point was a peculiar one. We came into office on this very Bill.


Mr REID - I wish now to point out the extraordinary circumstance, that before the late Government resigned there was only this one thing upon which they were at issue with the House. But the moment they resigned and I took up the Bill as they left it, they called it a fraud. Well, then, they have been engineering a fraud.


Mr Bamford - It is a fraud' with the amendment of the honorable' and learned member for Corinella in it.


Mr REID - May. I take it that the fraud consisted in that? I want to put. it in the fairest way. We will say, then, that what made the Bill a fraud was that alteration. Now I will ask the House and the country to notice where the disinterestedness of these gentlemen comes in, the extent of their democratic principles, and whether their regard is for all the manhood of Australia, and not for a section of it branded "trade unionists." Because what was this provision? It was a provision singling out a worthy lot of men - a grand lot of men - probably the elite of the working classes of Australia. No matter how good they are, I object just the same. It was picking them out for a judicial administration, favouring one worker at the expense of another. That is the great point on which we say that this is a selfish provision. Fight your battles as you will in the industrial sphere. There is room for all. But when you come to the administration of the public affairs of a nation, and of legislation for the benefit of the whole nation, and the equal administration of public justice, I say that to single out any man for preference is wrong. A number of my honorable friends have gone further than I would go in this matter, but I was defeated. They have taken up a position that, should have satisfied any reasonable trades unionist. My honorable friends said, " Before this tremendous preference is given - this favour - this preference of one worker over another - we must be satisfied that there is a majority of the men who are agreeable to it." That was a much milder position than mine. But even that, we are told, makes this Bill a fraud. That reveals the selfishness of the combination, and the power behind it. My honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, stands here, and makes that speech of his, but does he represent the inner circle of the great labour movement ? He is a gentleman to whose! views we all listen with the greatest respect. From the manner in which he 'expresses himself, he might just as well be the leader of my party as of the party opposite. But we must look deeper than that. We are not blind to the real operations of the great labour bodies of Australia, Workers do not, as a rule, throw their money away on paid missionaries. They have little enough. They cannot throw their money about much. How is it that this gentleman, Mr. Tom Mann, who preaches rank Socialism and the destruction of private ownership and private industry^


Mr Ronald - No.


Mr REID - I say he does; how is it that he is being paid to go all round Australia preaching this extreme form of Socialism? My honorable friends opposite must know that there is a labour organ in Melbourne called the Toe sim. I have not got before me the particular extract to which I wish to refer, but it makes no secret of the policy of the party behind my honorable friend the leader of the Opposition. It means that the State must own all the factories, all the lands, and all the ships. I have here a newspaper, to which the late Prime Minister sent a congratulatory telegram, expressing his appreciation of the educative work which it was doing. That paper is the Brisbane Worker, which has a very large circulation, and of which, no doubt, .honorable members have heard.


Mr King O'malley - -A good Christian organ.


Mr REID - I shall read a little of its Christianity. I got this extract in rather a round-about way. I do not happen to subscribe to the Brisbane Worker, but I get newspaper cuttings from the old country. Amongst those received was this, from the St. James' Gazette, which- had extracted it from the Worker; and it shows how we are " boomed " at Home by these organs. This was published in the Worker just a month or two after the Federal election -

Political power has been won in the Federal domain..... The question now is, What next ? and the answer, Economic Revolution.

The wage system holds us as firmly as ever in its vampire clutch. . . . "Wage system!" "Vampire clutch!" No more wages ! All Government salaries.

The great work now awaiting us is the utilization of political power to economic advantages. The vote must be used as a bar to strike the shackles from our limbs.

What fearful slavery there must be in Queensland ! And a Labour Government, or very nearly a Labour Government, is in office ! What a fearful state of things the people of Queensland must have to contend against ! The extract goes on -

The Capitalist State must go. . . . There can be no peace, no happiness, whilst civilization continues to be based upon the system of barbarism - a Master-caste whipping slave-masses to labour for private gain.

That sounds all right, does it not? Just fancy the mild and conservative leader of the Opposition using language like that ! The leader of the Opposition is the right man in this Parliament, but that extract shows the work which is going on outside -

The Co-operative Commonweclth alone is worthy of this age of science and invention.

What does the "Co-operative Commonwealth' ' mean? The destruction of private enterprise, and the destruction of individual liberty. That is the true inspiration of the power behind the labour representatives. There is an ingenious way of working this Socialism. It does not pay to prescribe it too suddenly. The first thing is, as the leader of the Opposition has done, to speak of the evil of monopolies and combines. In that I quite agree with him. We, on this side,' are as willing as he and his Government were, to introduce legislation to suppress any abuses of that sort. But each individual abuse is made an excuse for the introduction of the thin end of the wedge for the nationalization of the private industries of the country. It is tobacco to-day ; it is something else to-morrow. Senator Pearce, speaking of the full socialistic programme at a public meeting, said, " We cannot do all this at once; but there are some plums ready for plucking now, and one is the tobacco monopoly." Those steps towards revolution we will oppose. There are other matters on which I could have spoken, but I shall confine myself to one before I sit down. Honorable members must understand, as was expressed in the basis of agreement drawn up between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself, that our coming together was not under the precise terms of that memorandum. As I say, the honorable gentleman's supporters did not, as a party, accept the understanding, and it was never subsequently submitted to any other body of members. The policy of the Government is, therefore, a policy which they themselves have put forward, but, of course, in view of the fact that I and the honorable and learned member for Balaclava are in the Government, and were parties to that agreement, and that we have colleagues who assented to it, the result is practically' the same. But I want to say to the leader of the Opposition that it is absolutely unjust to put us before the people of Australia as if we were indifferent to the interests of the producers - as if we were idle about water conservation or about advertising the resources of Australia in the mother country.


Mr Higgins - The right honorable gentleman is merely a different kind of Socialist.


Mr REID - That is an expression which reveals the difficulty, which I admit, of arriving at a fine distinction. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has evidently seen some reference of mine to Socialism, and it is perfectly true that I believe there are some aspects of what is called Socialism which are absolutely worthy of approval. But I can draw a line, and the difference between the Socialism of honorable members opposite and the view I hold is shown when one of the best principles in the world - when the principle of using the national power for ends of national good - is pushed so far as to convert the whole nation into an army of civil servants, destroying the initiative, the ability, the prospects, the property, and the opportunities of human beings with their intellects - their varying degrees of mental strength. There are some public services, such as those performed by our post-offices, which, we are all agreed, should be a national concern. By the way, some people, including myself, used to look on State railways as another phase of Socialism, but, on closer inquiry, State railways are shown to be an absolute negation of Socialism.


Mr Mauger - The right honorable member will come round all right.


Mr REID - Is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports an extreme Socialist?


Mr Mauger - Never mind !


Mr REID - We only want to know where to place the honorable member, who, after a bit of a fright, has since been out of the rain. I am afraid he will have to come out into the rain again. The taking of the railways from parliamentary control, and placing them under the control of business men, to be' run as independent business enterprises, is a practical proof of the failure of Socialism as applied to great industrial concerns. There is no Socialism about the Commissioners of Railways. The Tocsins and the Brisbane Workers do not do much with such gentlemen, who work those great concerns on the strictest business principles, beyond the control of the national authority. I want to point out that in the memorandum which was drawn up some months ago between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and imyself, my attitude and his, with regard to those matters, was stated with perfect clearness. I should like to read some extracts on the question of old-age pensions, for instance -

It is highly desirable that a uniform system of old-age pensions throughout Australia should be adopted as soon as possible, and that steps should be taken to accomplish this in co-operation with the States.

I do not know whether the leader of the Opposition has seriously thought this matter over. He says to the States, " If you will not join us we shall go on without you." Are we going to raise£4,000,000 through the Customs, in order to get £1, 000,000 for a national old-age pension system ?


Mr Thomas - Why not a land tax?-


Mr REID - Now we understand where the money is to come from. I am very glad to have this disclosure. I understand now where the millions are to come from.


Mr Thomas - I am a free-trader.


Mr REID - The honorable member is a very free trader. He will take anything he can lay his hands on.


Mr Isaacs - That is in accord with the free-trade system; we do not agree with it.


Mr REID - There is no secrecy about the policy of the party to which the honorable and learned member for Indi belonged for many years. The honorable and learned member has not suddenly changed his coat on that policy ? Honorable members who followed the Barton Government and the Deakin Government for three or four years were pledged to the declared policy of the party, that, so far as the. Federation was concerned,we should raise taxation only through the Customs.


Mr Thomas - Is that a free-trade idea?


Mr Isaacs - Indirect taxation - Customs and Excise.


Mr REID - Just so, Customs and Excise. That policy was also, with equal publicity, announced by myself as the leader of the other party in the Commonwealth at that time.


Mr Thomas - As leader of the Freetrade Party?


Mr REID - Yes. The view I took was that in matters of land and other direct taxation every State should be left to work out its own policy as it pleased.


Mr Thomas - The right honorable gentlemen could not expect every freetrader to subscribe to that.


Mr REID - Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to answer one question before he asks another. What I desire to say in reference to that is that we all agree that the national taxing power should be used through the Customs House, and that all direct taxation should come through the powers of the States Parliaments. That would leave the people of each State to work out their own system of direct taxation for themselves, and if there were a majority in a State in favour of a land tax there would then be no obstacle in the way. But it was felt that it would lead to immense confusion if we were to attempt to raise direct taxation, and for many years to come. So far as I am concerned, I think it will always be better to leave to the States their individual freedom to work out their own destinies in this respect, and that the Federation should use the national power of taxation through the Customs only. But now we can understand the levity with which our honorable friends opposite look forward to flouting the States in reference to this question, which particularly affects two of them. There are two of the States in which already laws have been passed relating to old-age pensions.


Mr KING O'MALLEY (DARWIN, TASMANIA) - They are charity doles.

An Honorable Member. - They are rotten laws.


Mr REID - Still they are laws, and that is all I said. I said that they were laws, but I did not say the precise condition of preservation which they are in. There are such laws in New South Wales and Victoria, whilst none of the other States have passed such' legislation. Now, if we had a friendly conference with the Premiers of those States' we could get their authority to bring this system in without raising£4,000,000 through the Customs when we require only£1,000,000.


Mr Isaacs - In that the right honorable gentleman agrees with us.


Mr REID - I do not mind agreeing with the honorable and learned member sometimes, but I point out that I expressed that view years ago. I said that it could not be done through the Federation, but my honorable friend representing the Opposition now says, " We do not care what the States say, we will have it." The honorable member does not mean to oppress the people by raising ^4,000,000 when only _£:r, 000,000 will do. The honorable member has not become editor of the Tocsin yet, but he will get his .£1,000,000 out of direct taxation. I admit that we are getting daylight in connexion with this matter. The honorable, and learned member for Indi thought he had made a tremendous point in a criticism recently of the terms of the memorandum drawn up by the honorable and learned members for Ballarat and Balaclava, in conjunction with the honorable member for Macquarie and myself. We agreed on this -

The Tariff ,not to be altered in any respect during the present Parliament without the consent of both parties in the Ministry.

My honorable and learned friend professed to look upon that as an admission that we could alter the Tariff. But that is simply ratifying the truce which both admitted had been declared, instead of a provision giving liberty to break it. Just fancy our wing of the party agreeing to bringing in protective duties ! There was another understanding - concerning preferential trade. We took up a position which is most excellently expressed by the Melbourne Age, of 30th October, just after the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The Age said -

But on this point there is no need whatever for Australia to leap before she comes to the fence. Details at this stage are premature. Mr. Chamberlain may not succeed in his mission.

That looks very likely just now.

That is a matter which rests in the future. Should he carry the mind of England with him it cannot be done for the next twelve months. Therefore, any overtures from Australia would be completely out of place. . . .

One thing is certain, the protectionists will never permit the preferential Tariff to undermine the Federal policy of protection.


Mr Mauger - Hear, hear.


Mr REID - That is right; let the English people know that. That will be another encouragement ' to them to agree to a tax upon food.


Mr Mauger - The English people do know that.


Mr REID - The Age further said-

Mr. Chamberlainhas distinctly stated he is satisfied to work on that basis. Mr. Deakin' s preferential policy is crystallized in a sentence.

Everything is crystallized in an Age leader - " Great Britain must make the first move." That is the sound position to assume.

We all assume it; but because I agree with it I am the enemy of the Australian farmer ! Since that article was written another obstacle has occurred. The Imperial Government has categorically rejected the policy of taxation on food and on raw materials. The piesent Imperial Government has distinctly said that that is no part of its policy. Is not this new anxiety about preferential trade more an attempt to create mischief, than anything else? The fact is, that my strong objections to preferential trade are from the point of view, that it would be most seriously injurious to the Mother country herself. I believe that if the Mother country were to adopt that policy, she would be injuring herself in a most- serious way.


Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Would it be beneficial to Australia?


Mr REID - I expressed these views only the other day. Before I became Prime Minister, I was asked to send a contribution to a book which is coming out on Mr. Chamberlain's life and projects, and in the article I contributed, I expressed in the strongest way my belief that it would not be a good thing for the people of England.


Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Will it benefit Australia?


Mr REID - If the people of England come to the conclusion that it will be a good thing for them - and I admit that they know a little more about the matter than I can pretend to know - and if they do come forward with proposals, as I have already said, their proposals will receive from this Government as fair consideration as they could receive from any Government. But if it comes to a point at which I have to choose between adhering to and surrendering my views on fiscal questions, only one thing can happen. If any emergency occurs, and we are unable to come to a reasonable view on any matter of moment which arises, we must be prepared to give our honorable friends opposite a chance. But we are not going to make troubles out of things that are in the future. We are not going, in an unbusinesslike way to create points of discord. Our enemies wish us to do that. 'They wish us to muddle public affairs; to do everything at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. We are here, not to oblige them, but to do our best in the public interest. I think I fairly represent even honorable members who do not belong to the party, which I lead, when I say that if the fiscal question had remained for this Parliament to deal with, it would have been impossible for us to come together. The people, however, removed that question from this Parliament, and the main bond of union between us is this : We are absolutely opposed to the political methods of the Labour Party, and to the authority which their organizations have over members of Parliament, and we are absolutely opposed to their extreme socialistic designs. It is very easy for newspapers in Australia to publish articles, such as that which I have read, and which are republished in the great newspapers of the Empire; but I wish honorable gentlemen to recollect that these revolutions which undermine the security for property and enterprise, these threats of turning our industrial system upside down, come at a bad time. They help to aggravate the state of unrest and of want of confidence which is paralyzing the industrial expansion of Australia. Labour' Socialists talk of a time to come, when the workers will all be happy, when they will all be employed in a Government factory ; but attempts to carry such views to a violent extreme - an extreme which makes the very basis upon which property, enterprise, and labour rest insecure - are the worst things that can happen for that great mass of the workers who have to live by the expansion of industry under conditions of confidence and trust.


Mr Fowler - I wish to make a personal explanation. The Prime Minister read amongst other things., the following passage, from the report of an address which I delivered in Melbourne, on Sunday night : -

Those members felt it was unnecessary and objectionable, and their ideas had at least received the assent of a majority of their colleagues.

It is evident that the word " majority " slipped in' accidentally. The passage should read -

Their ideas had at least received the assent of a minority of their colleagues.

Otherwise, the report is substantially correct.







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