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Wednesday, 21 September 1904


Mr HIGGINS - I have said that no one party is more to blame than another; but as an outsider I do not think that it adds to the dignity of our debates to have discussions between former leaders of parties in New South Wales as to who was right and who was wrong on some particular occasion. There is something which I feel bound to say at the 'beginning of my remarks, because I find that there has been some misconception. Personally, I am strongly and intensely in favour of an alliance. I feel that anything which will tend to bring the progressive parties of Australia together is something which I should support, and one of the best means I see for bringing together the progressive parties of Australia is an alliance of this sort. There must be differences between men who think for themselves. When there is a general body of sentiment in favour of legislating for the benefit of the people, those who believe in State interference should be ranged on one side, whilst those who are opposed to it should be arrayed on the other. After a good deal of thought, trouble, and worry, I have come to a conclusion diametrically opposite to that indicated by the honorable member for Parramatta. He is subject to that unfortunate, and, to my mind, miserable, feeling that the only hope for humanity is to be found in following the dictates of greed.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nothing of the kind ; I repudiate that entirely.


Mr HIGGINS - The honorable member apparently holds that the only way for humanity to be prosperous is to follow the lines of competition and to be submissive to the laws of greed- I stand amazed when I think that the best things which humanity has done have been accomplished, not under the impulse! of greed, but under influences operating in the opposite direction. It was not in any -spirit of competition that Isaac Newton made his discoveries; it was not in order to gain money that Faraday made his contributions to science, nor was it any such me'an motive that impelled John Howard to do as he did. I believe that the honorable member started out on his political career with a desire to help the people, and that that is still his object; but he has unfortunately strayed into the wrong path. I think, with all respect to him, that owing to those associations to which I need not refer, for fear that I should be called to order, he has diverged into a wrong course, and has adopted wrong principles. In justice to my late colleagues, and to the party who supported them so loyally, I feel impelled - without at all violating Cabinet secrets - to tell honorable members my experience of those with whom I was associated in office. The Prime Minister has several times alluded in the most pointed manner to the late Ministry as a caucus-tied Labour Administration. What he means by that, if he means anything, is that the Ministry as an Executive body, a Cabinet responsible to the country, deliberating for the benefit of the country, could not act freely without consulting the labour caucus. Now, if any one is in a position to say whether that is true or false, I think it is myself, because I was the only member of that Administration who was not a member of the caucus. I should have felt the position intolerable if I had been called upon to discuss with my colleagues matters in which T felt that they were not free agents.


Mr Wilks - They submitted matters to the caucus before they discussed them in Cabinet,


Mr HIGGINS - The honorable member is quite wrong. I do- not intend to use words similar to those employed by the Prime Minister, but content myself by saying that the honorable member is absolutely wrong. As tie knows, I cannot go further into detail, but I may say that there was never a case for discussion in which I did not feel that my colleagues were absolutely free agents - willing, ready, and able to listen to reason, and willing, ready, and able to be bound by it. Whatever may happen hereafter, I should be a coward and a poltroon if, having had that experience, I were not to say that the statements made and repeated, particularly on the platform, by the right honorable gentleman, are absolutely without foundation.


Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member was very fortunate, because his colleagues always followed him.


Mr HIGGINS - The right honorable gentleman is quite wrong. I did not occupy a position similar to that which he filled in Western Australia, where the Parliament followed him abjectly for ten years, and no one dared to say him nay. My relations with the members of the Cabinet extended over only three or four months, and I can testify that there was perfect harmony, and complete independence and freedom of discussion amongst us. I think that this debate will do good in one respect, if in no other. Although it seems to wander a great deal,, and although from one point of view there is not very much discussion of principle, still, it is gradually forcing on public attention the nature of the labour pledge-; and the more that is emphasized, the better. Those who will not read the pledge have assumed that a labour member is bound by any decision of the caucus. I am free to speak independently upon this subject, and I ask any fair-minded man whether the pledge means what has been urged against it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honorable and learned member signed the pledge?


Mr HIGGINS - I have already stated_ that I have not signed it, and it is because" of that fact that I am the more free to speak regarding it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable and learned member has no objection to the pledge, why does he not sign it?


Mr HIGGINS - That is my business.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I admit that that is an answer.


Mr HIGGINS - I decline to attach to ultimate theories the same amount of importance that I do to matters that are within the range of present action. If I. agree with every present purpose of a party I am ready to try to act with it. I do not mind if the members of that party happen to differ from me as to the ultimate goal to be attained. 1 believe that in practical politics it is ten times more important to see that one agrees with his comrades in their present proposals, rather than that he should assure himself that his ultimate ideas and theirs are upon all fours. The labour pledge, to which I have referred, reads as follows : -

I hereby pledge myself .... if elected to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly-constituted caucus meeting.


Sir John Forrest - Who is the judge as to what affects the labour platform?


Mr HIGGINS - The labour platform contains, for instance, a plank relating to the "maintenance of a White Australia." That is the first item that catches my eye. No man need sign the platform, of which that is a plank, unless he believes it is a proper thing; but if he signs it, the question of the machinery to be employed in order to effect the object is a mere matter of detail. So far as that plank is concerned, all that a member of the party binds himself to do is to act, as the majority of the caucus may decide, in regard to all questions affecting the maintenance of a White Australia. It is a mere question as to how the object is to be best attained, and a man must be pig-headed if, on a question of machinery, he is not willing to submit his judgment to that of the majority of his comrades. That has to be done in the Army, and in business, and in every other walk of life.


Mr Page - The right honorable member for Swan had to do that in the Cabinet.


Mr HIGGINS - The advantage in the case of the Labour Party is that they have a written as distinct from an unwritten platform, and I think that honorable members will agree that they have been wise in adopting a written platform. So far as I. have been able to watch the labour movement, it has been the only safeguard of the party.If they had not had a written platform, and had not compelled their selected candidates to sign it, they would have had a number of false friends, who would have edged round, and said, " We did not mean this or that," and who would have made all sorts of qualifications. As far as I can judge, the Labour Party internally is freer than is the party which is led by the Prime Minister. What do we find? Every one of the New South Wales representatives who came here to vote with the right honorable gentleman still votes with him, and when some of them attempted to speak upon the occasion of the recent crisis, they were not allowed to do so. They were pulled down by the tails of their coats. Upon the other hand, we find the honorable member for Perth differed from the late Administration upon the wisdom or otherwise of making the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill applicable to oversea shipping, and voted against the Government proposal. Upon the question of free-trade versus protection, the members of the Labour Party are at liberty to vote as they choose. Can the same be said of honorable members who,, with the Prime Minister, come from New South Wales ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It can.


Mr HIGGINS - Can it be said of those honorable members who follow the honorable and learned member for Ballarat? They were pledged to fiscalism in that case-


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that, individually, those members always voted with their party ?


Mr HIGGINS - No. I say that the only member from New South Wales who was kicking over the traces was brought into line by the framing of a motion which suited him. I refer to the honorable member for Dalley, who is now Government whip. He could not support the Prime Minister until a motion was framed for which he could vote.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How often did the " bridge-builders " frame motions ?


Mr HIGGINS - I have nothing to do with bridge-builders. I say that, if there is a party which is bound so tightly that it cannot move without the permission of its leader, it is the band of twenty-two or twenty-three members who have come into the House with the Prime Minister, as the representatives of New South Wales.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Upon two occasions they saved the Barton Government from defeat on important questions.


Mr HIGGINS - I am not discussing the doings of the Barton Administration at the present time. The Prime Minister - and I say this with all respect to him - has done a great deal to embitter debate in this House, and in the country. I never knew a more skilful coiner of phrases than he is, and I never knew of any case in which epithets were so virulently coined, with a design that they should sting. I have heard him speak of a body of honorable men as " political puppets." I have heard him say to the members of a Ministry, which consisted chiefly of men who had been wageearners, when their supporters were addressing the House - "Another day's pay!" That remark was withdrawn, it is true, but only when it was too late. The wasp had put in his sting.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honorable and learned member never noticed what is said by honorable members opposite ?


Mr HIGGINS - Nothing was so vulgar, mean, or contemptible as a taunt of that character, thrown across the floor of the House. That sort of thing will never be forgotten. Nothing in the way of retaliation bv honorable members upon this side of the Chamber could equal it. I will mention another kind of expression which the Prime Minister thinks will sweeten discussion in this House. I invite honorable members to notice how he concludes his manifesto to the electors of New South Wales. I presume that he thinks he can say to them what he would not say to the people of Australia. He declares -

I want to rescue Australian politics from the grasp of an arrogant minority which seeks to bend national power to selfish ends.

If that statement means anything at all, it means that the Labour Party is endeavouring to use the power of the Australian Government for the selfish ends of its members. If it does not mean that, the Prime Minister should speak more explicitly. When he describes these men as "selfish," I wish to know what becomes of the grand theory advanced by the last speaker that the only motive power of industry is selfishness. As far as I understand, if there be anything at the root of the Labour Party, it is a desire to inculcate unselfishness. They may be right or they may be wrong, but to say that these men, who are as honorable as the Prime Minister himself - although they have not the title of "right" before their names - are simply working for selfish ends, is a grotesque parody upon veracity.


Sir John Forrest - He did not mean it personally.


Mr HIGGINS - Then what does his statement mean? I have known clever twisters of phrases, but I have never met the equal of the Prime Minister in that respect.

An Honorable Member. - He is a perfect wriggler.


Mr HIGGINS - The honorable member for Parramatta declared just now that it was characteristic of the Prime Minister to put the best construction upon everything that everybody else did. It was for that reason, I suppose, that he spoke of the members of the late Administration as working for " another day's pay," as being "political puppets " - which means that they can be pulled in any way the strings may be pulled - and as " an arrogant minority working for selfish ends." The Prime Minister, for the purposes of this debate, and of obtaining the vote of the most reactionary party in Australia, has accused the Labour Party and the late Government of being Socialists.


Mr Mauger - What is that ?


Mr HIGGINS - May I say that it scarcely lies in the mouth of the right honorable gentleman to abuse this thing called

Socialism? I have never gone so far in my expressions in regard to Socialism as he has. What did he say recently?

My quarrel is not with the theory of Socialism.

Let honorable members reflect upon the meaning of those words. . The Prime Minister acted as chairman of a meeting at the Athenaeum Hall at which Mr. Max Hirsch delivered a lecture. In the course of his remarks the right honorable gentleman said -

He admitted that there were socialistic things which were among the best things in Australia to-day. Such were their post and telegraph offices and railways.

I suppose that the control of these Departments by the State will be admitted to be socialistic in character by all honorable members save the honorable member for Parramatta. The Prime Minister affirms that his quarrel is not with the theory of Socialism. That means that he is open to be convinced as to this or that method of improving the condition of the people by means of State initiative. The statement that he has no quarrel with the theory of Socialism was made in one of those speeches in which the right honorable member has sought so unfairly to reflect upon the Labour Party and its friends, and to gather round himself certain anti-progressive sympathies. I trust that he will be fixed to it. It is veryhard to pin him down to anything, but at least let us fix him to that assertion. Veryfew of us have gone so far as he did in making it. The right honorable gentleman went on to say at this meeting that -

He was open to be convinced as to this or that method of improving the condition of the people by means of State initiative.

Let us compare the two statements - that he has no quarrel with the theory of Socialism and that he is open to conviction. Open to conviction by what or by whom? Does he mean that he is open to conviction by votes or by reason? If he means that he is open to conviction by the number of votes he can obtain, I have only to say that a person who can employ language of that sort is the most dangerous kind of politician that Australia could have. He went on to say, in answer to the Question, " Why don't you join the Labour Party ? " that -

He wanted to be satisfied, in each case, that the change proposed would be a good one.

I have never known even the most extreme member of the Labour Party - and I have watched their doings very closely for a long time - to go further than that. The right honorable gentleman is open to fee convinced, but he desires to be convinced that in each case the change proposed would be a good one. Although in this speech he pro- nounced so strongly in favour of Socialism, the whole tenor of his attack - and it was a bitter attack - on the Labour Party last night was that the members of it were socialistic. In which speech was he really giving us his mind ? Is the right honorable gentleman a Doctor Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde? Has he two personalities, so that when speaking in the Athenaeum he is socialistic, and when speaking in this Chamber, in an attack on the Labour Party, he is antisocialistic? He says that Socialism means the-

Destruction of private enterprise, destruction of individual liberty.

He said himself that he approved of the Post and Telegraph Department being administered by the State, and also of the railways being administered by the State, and he admits that they are socialistic enterprises.


Mr Wilks - He also said that the Railway Commissioners were emblematic of individualism.


Mr HIGGINS - I am not going to mention everything that the right honorable gentleman has said. It is difficult to pin him down to anything in particular, but here we have a clear statement made by him.


Mr Wilks - He said that the railways should be conducted by Railway Commissioners on business lines.


Mr HIGGINS - I am not going to be diverted by the honorable member from the point with which I arn dealing. The Prime Minister approves of the railways and the Post and Telegraph Department being administered by the State, and admits that they are socialistic enterprises. Notwithstanding this admission, he condemned Socialism as being destructive of private enterprise, and destructive of individual liberty. If he meant destructive of private enterprise, so far as private enterprise is injurious !'to the public, I should be socialistic ; if he meant destructive of individual liberty, so. far as individual liberty means anarchy or injury to the public interest I, too, should be socialistic. But what is the use of this mere phrasing ? Not only is the leader of the Government socialistic in principle according to his own statement, but I have heard the Minister of Defence say, in this Chamber, "lama collectivism sir."


Mr McCay - I know what the honorable and learned member is referring to, but he is not quite correct.


Mr HIGGINS - I am sure that the honorable and learned member will not contradict my statement.


Mr McCay - It is not quite accurate.


Mr HIGGINS - I was sitting on the same bench as the honorable and learned member on the occasion in question, and was startled to hear him say, "I am a collectivism sir." I have never known him publicly to renounce that principle. The main difference that I have been able to discover between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition is that when the latter is beaten upon a proposal he continues to fight on upon the same lines to attain his object; but when the Prime Minister is beaten he takes up the proposals of the other side and fights for them. Let us take, for instance, the insertion of the provision in the oversea mail contracts that the steamers engaged in the service shall employ only white labour. Let us also take the matter of the six hatters and the fiscal issue. If there was anything which characterized the right honorable gentleman's utterances before the elections it was his aversion from protection, his hatred of the clause in the mail contracts providing for the employment of only white labour, and his hatred also of the prohibition against the introduction of contract labour into Australia. According to the Argus of 10th December last, he said that -

He was not going to have any fiscal peace until he had pulled down the present high duties.

He now whines for fiscal peace. Then, again, on 14th December last, he spoke against the provision for the employment of only white labour on mail steamers and against the way in which the six hatters had been treated. I particularly desire to support this motion, in order to relieve the right honorable gentleman from a very painful position. He is expected, as Minister of External Affairs, to carry out a law of which he disapproves. I do not think that it is fair to place him in such a position ; his conscience is "too tender to let him rightly administer that law. I listened to-day to the explanation which he made with a show of much indignation, and the sum and substance of it was, " I did not carry out the law with regard to the six potters; it was carried out by the late Minister of External Affairs." If he did not carry out the law he ought to have done, and he must do it. ' And it is because we do not trust the right honorable gentleman to act against his conscience in this matter that we1 want to remove him from office. I was very careful to ask the right honorable gentleman on the 3rd September a question as to wha't he would do in a case like! that of the six hatters, and he said explicitly -

If I have the power to alter the Act in a certain direction -

Of course he was referring to the contract provision -

I will do so the moment I discover the fact.

The point is this : Are we safe in allowing a man to administer the Immigration Restriction Act against his own conscience?


Sir John Forrest - He said last night that he was not against the law at all.


Mr HIGGINS - I say that he is against the section with regard to contract labour.


Mr McLean - Does the honorable and learned member think it is sa'fe to trust a free-trader to administer protectionist doctrines in the Customs Department?


Mr HIGGINS - I shall leave that question to be answered by the honorable member, who put a similar question with regard to the present Minister of Trade and Customs. I say also that it is not right to allow a Ministry to hold office who deliberately permitted an ill-framed and illdrafted clause to remain in a Bill when conducting the business of the House. I refer of course to clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The present Ministry will go down to posterity as "the shortlived clause 48 Ministry." The whole of their policy is a proviso to clause 48. They got into office by refusing to allow that clause to be recommitted so as to be amended. It is admitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who is nothing if he is not frank, that that proviso is ill-drafted and difficult of interpretation. That statement is contained in Hansard of the 12th August, page 4233. Although the honorable and learned member admitted that the clause was likely to lead to difficulties of interpretation, he would not allow it to be brought into Committee to be amended.


Mr Watkins - The Prime Minister said the same.


Mr HIGGINS - That was the question upon which the recent crisis occurred. I cannot understand why any honorable member should have refused to allow the clause to be recommitted so as to improve it unless there was some other reason. The only reason for refusing to recommit the clause was in order to put out the Ministry.


Mr Wilks - The late Prime Minister said that the clause as proposed to be amended was exactly the same as the clause as it previously stood.


Mr HIGGINS - Yes, but the Committee were not bound to adopt the amendment tabled by the Government. That amendment might never have been moved. The point is that there was admittedly a faulty clause, which ought to have gone back into Committee so as to be amended. But honorable members opposite were afraid to do that, because - I say it with all respect - they knew that if that were done they could not get the vote of the honorable member for Dalley. Not only that, but the honorable member for Moira, who is a man of practical experience, and knows how these provisions would apply, say, amongst shearers and others, spoke with great thought and care upon the amendment of the present Minister of Defence. He said, as reported on page 2640 of Hansard, that he had looked into the amendment and thought it was unworkable.


Mr Kennedy - I said that I had not looked into it.


Mr HIGGINS - No; with all respect, the honorable member said this : - i have said that I have not studied the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but, from what I have heard of it, it would be open to objection, inasmuch as it would make it necessary to obtain the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry .

So far as the matter was vital the honorable member perfectly understood the proposal. He understood that it would mean that it would be necessary to ascertain the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry ; but he said - '

If people are compelled to go beyond that to find out the absolute number of workers in any particular industry that they may be able to prove to the Court that they have a majority of those employed in the industry behind them, their task would appear to be an almost impossible one.

That is just what we have said right through. It is because we felt that the task would be impossible, and that the proviso would render the Bill a sham, that we said that we would insist upon taking it back into Committee. The point with regard to Ministers - and it has been put in various forms - is that they have no common principle. We sometimes hear of a rope of sand. I cannot find even a rope of sand in the case of the honorable gentlemen upon the Treasury bench.


Mr Tudor - They have no principles.


Mr HIGGINS - I will not say that they have no principles, but they have no distinctive principle. They have splendid principles - especially the Prime Minister - only their principles are upon opposite sides, and are exerted upon opposite occasions. There has been a great deal of talk with regard to fiscal peace. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in speaking to the electors as Prime Minister, put before them "very distinctly the policy of fiscal peace and preferential trade for a White Australia. The Prime Minister complains that he is not allowed to get fiscal peace. What right has he to complain? He was against fiscal peace. He only begins to complain that he has not got fiscal peace when he finds that he is beaten. What happened, so far as I understand it, was this : That the honorable and learned member for Ballarat put before the people of Australia the policy of fiscal peace. The Prime Minister said, " Let us have no fiscal peace; let us fight." Therefore, unfortunately for the repose of this House, and for its chance of doing good work, we had to look to a revival of the Tariff question. A number of members were elected in New South Wales upon issues quite different from those which prevailed in the rest of Australia. The country being, rightly or wrongly, mainly protectionist, sent to Parliament a majority of protectionists. Then when the Prime Minister found that there was a danger of the Tariff being disturbed from the protectionist side he said, "Let us have fiscal peace."


Mr McLean - A great many of the fiscal peace advocates were free-traders.


Mr HIGGINS - That is not so in the case of Victoria, but in the case of New South Wales the vast bulk of the members elected were against fiscal peace, and for what is called free-trade, but what is really anti-protection. The position reminds me of nothing so much as of a little boy flicking a big boy with a whip. When the big hoy asks for peace and does not get it, he takes the whip and uses it. Then the small boy begins to whine for peace. So far as I am concerned, I do not feel in any way bound to leave the Tariff as it stands. If I find that injury is being done to any industry by the Tariff, I feel perfectly free to act in the direction which shall seem best for that industry. I am decidedly in favour of fiscal peace; but the difficulty 'is that the other side would not give fiscal peace. The country had to send protectionists into this Parliament, and that having been done, the House is in a most disordered state in this respect. So far as I am concerned, I am perfectly free. If a man will not accept a compromise, I am in no way bound by it. In conclusion, I may say that I do not like these crisis debates; but one of the great objects I have in voting for the motion is to get a dissolution.


Mr Wilks - Honorable members over there seem very " struck " on dissolutions.


Mr HIGGINS - I am afraid that the honorable member for Dalley will have to look forward to a very early and peaceful dissolution, so far as regards his politics. The three parties in this House are nearly ยป even, and there is a most unstable equilibrium.


Mr KING O'MALLEY (DARWIN, TASMANIA) - There are five parties.


Mr HIGGINS - If this Parliament lasts much longer we shall have five or six parties. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in his speech made early this year, said that the system of three parties would not do; but I' venture to say, with all kindness and respect, that if he had chosen to accept the position as. it was, we could have got on very well. He could have continued to lead the Government^ with the support of a consistent and powerful body in the Corner. The honorable and learned member will, I think, bear me out in the statement that I deprecated his making the question of the inclusion of the public servants in the Concilia- tion and Arbitration Bill a vital one. I may be wrong, but I think that from his point of view he was of opinion that the clause, if inserted, would be invalid. But if so, what harm could there1 be? Why should the clause not have been left in the Bill? At all events, the' position is as we find it. The honorable and learned member has been in this Parliament the King-maker - King-maker Deakin. He was able to oust the late Government, and he is able to oust this Government by throwing his weight in the scale. There are! no prophets so successful as those who can bring about the fulfilment of their own prophesies - those who arrange the inevitable ; and if the honorable and learned member adopts the principle for the rest of this Parliament of always voting against the1 Government in a crisis, he can show that his prophesies are right. But although the honorable and learned member had not a majority of absolute followers from the beginning of this Parliament, there were a number of men who would have assisted him in any reasonable progressive measures. For my part I feel that the honorable and learned member has the root in him - that he has good, progressive principles, and has always been a friend of progressive legislation. As one who has followed him on previous occasions, I should be only too happy to se'e him leading, as he ought to lead, a really progressive Ministry. I desire, so far as I can, to have parties rearranged into the progressive party and the retrogressive party - into the party who want to obtain good conditions of life for all - not merely for the workers - and the party who are at the present time timid with regard to State interference. The only thing now is for the electors to determine whom they will have. Let us get a good, healthy whiff from the country over this House of ours ; we want fresh air in several respects, but in nothing so much as in our proceedings. What amazes me is that in the veryfirst speech the present Prime Minister made after taking office, he admitted that a speedy dissolution was imperative - that the House could not be carried on without a dissolution. The only excuse for his taking office was that he could carry on the business of the country with this House; yet at the very first chance, when he met the House, he said that the business could not be carried on unless there was an appeal to the people.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was under certain conditions.


Mr Watson - Unless at the mercy of the Opposition, he could not carry on - that was the Prime Minister's statement.


Mr HIGGINS - Most honorable members, I think, have come to the conclusion that there must be a dissolution very soon, and the Prime Minister, in all fairness, ought to hand over the responsibilities of office before the dissolution takes place. The right honorable gentleman obtained office on the representation that he could carry on in the present House, and he has no right to get a dissolution and hold office, and " call the tune " to the country.


Sir John Forrest - The late Government held office without a majority.


Mr HIGGINS - We had a majority on. the issue on which we got in.


Sir John Forrest - The late Government never had a majority.


Mr HIGGINS - We had a majority on the issue on which we got office. What

I say is that it is the duty of the present Prime Minister, who got office on the distinct representation that he was able to carry on in the present House, to put this House into the same position as it was in before he took the responsibilities of office, and let the new Ministry say whether or mot there shall be a dissolution.


Sir John Forrest - Who will be the new Ministry?


Mr HIGGINS - The right honorable member for Swan is, I think, hardly interjecting fairly- I have not the responsibility of saying who shall be the new Ministry ; and the right honorable member, with his ten years' experience in Western Australia, ought to remember that it was not for him to say, nominally, who were to be the Ministry in that State. I only say that we should have a dissolution soon, so that the country may determine whether we are to have a sham Arbitration Bill or a real Arbitration Bill, and whether we are to have a sham White Australia or a real White Australia?







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