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Thursday, 22 September 1904

Mr LONSDALE (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that I have said anything about Tasmania; if so, I apologise to that State. I was referring to the charges which have been levelled against the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Wide Bay may be a little facetious if he chooses, but that will not prevent me from saying what I desire to say.

Mr Frazer - Does the honorable member think that it is possible to get away from old political squabbles in New South Wales ?

Mr LONSDALE - It is only honorable members opposite who wish to revive those squabbles. Certain charges have been made against the Prime Minister, and I have p perfect right to make clear the character of his administration whilst occupying Ministerial office in New South Wales. Those charges have been made merely for the purpose of damaging the Government.

Mr Frazer - Does not the honorable member think that the Prime Minister is capable of defending himself?

Mr LONSDALE - I know all the circumstances of the case, and I should be recreant to every principle of honour if I allowed charges of maladministration made for which there is not the slightest justification. I have no desire to labour this question. I merely wish to put honorable members in possession of accurate information so that if these charges are repeated it mustbe with a full knowledge of the facts.

Mr Thomas - Is the honorable member a financial expert ?

Mr LONSDALE - I am as good a financial expert as is the honorable member, and I hope that he will cease his insane ejaculations. Concerning the explanation which has been made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I desire to say that I have every sympathy with the position taken up by him. As a free-trader I insist that no preference should be given to any manufacturer. No administrative act should be in- the direction of altering the policy of the country.' That should foe altered by Parliament alone. The position taken up by the honorable member for Coolgardie is the correct one, and I am fair enough to commend him for it. During the course of this debate the statement has been made that the policy of the present Government is a colourless one. From what we have been told it appears that honorable members opposite are the men to save the country. They are going to uplift the masses, better their conditions, and give them larger opportunities for improving themselves. But when we come to analyse their proposals we find that these claims cannot be sustained. They declare that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in its present form is a fraud, and should not have been passed by this House. Yet they -were prepared to forward that measure to the Senate despite all its alleged blemishes. They were ready to transmit it to the other Chamber without making it what they wished that it should be. What is the difference between the Bill in its present form and that in which honorable members opposite desired it ? They were anxious that clause 48 should provide that if any union substantially represented those engaged in a particular industry it should be competent for the President of the Arbitration Court to grant a preference to unionists, whereas the Bill provides that such a preference shall be extended only when a union contains a majority of the workers engaged in the industry directly concerned. The distinction really lies between what constituted a " majority " and " substantial representation."

Mr Poynton - That is not the clause at all.

Mr LONSDALE - I may not have quoted the exact provision in the clause, but what I have stated constitutes the sole difference between us. I claim that that difference is a very slight one. The honorable member for Bland admitted that the Court would expect a substantial representation to include a majority, and if that be so, there was no difference in the Bill as sent- up to the Senate by the present Ministerial party, and as it would have been sent up by the party which has recently retired from office.

Mr Poynton - If that is so, why did honorable members opposite vote against the proposal of - the late Ministry ?

Mr LONSDALE - Simply because we determined that the reference to a majorityshould remain in the Bill. In order that the Court might not have any difference of opinion or difficulty in the matter, we proposed to declare in the Bill that there must be a majority in order to secure preference. I say that we' were justified in determining that the provision should remain in that form. We are told that honorable members opposite now represent a Liberal Protectionist Alliance. I do not know how they define "Liberalism"; but it sounds strange to me to call men " Liberals " who are prepared to put restrictions upon people in every direction. If honorable members opposite, instead of calling themselves " Liberal Protectionists," were to call themselves "Liberal Restrictionists," I could understand it.

Mr Watson - That is one for some honorable members on the Government side.'

Mr LONSDALE - I do not care whom it hits; I stand here in support of the principles I have advocated. If I support the present Ministerial party, it is because I think there is less danger to what I believe to be right to be expected from this side than from honorable members opposite, and because I. think we are more likely to get good legislation in the interests of the whole of the people from this side, than from honorable members opposite. I am here to defend my own personal views, and I shall not allow any one to control me in that direction. I should not be surprised if honorable members opposite called themselves " Liberal Restrictionists," although I cannot understand how a " restrictionist " can in any circumstances be called a " Liberal." The terms are opposed to each other. I believe in giving men freedom.

Mr Watson - Is factory legislation restriction ?

Mr LONSDALE - Yes, it is, to some extent.

Mr Watson - We know that the Liberals in England were in favour of that.

Mr LONSDALE - I believe in giving every man the fullest freedom compatible with the freedom of every other man. I refuse to be a party to restricting a man in doing what does no injury to other men. I believe in giving every man the fullest individual freedom it is possible to give him. The nation to which we belong has been developed by following those lines. The honorable member for Perth, in speaking last night referred to Socialism as being the best thing for the community. If J understand the honorable member aright, what he believes in is that public utilities shall be controlled by the public.

Mr Fowler - Hear, hear ; that is Socialism.

Mr LONSDALE - If that is all the honorable member's Socialism amounts to, I am prepared to go so far with him. I am a Socialist to that extent. I wish to make my position perfectly clear. I believe in public utilities being controlled by the public. And I believe that as strongly as does any honorable member of this House. But I do not believe in the tobacco industry being controlled by the public.

Mr Watson - The honorable member is not a smoker.

Mr LONSDALE - At all events. I am not a Socialist of that brand. I believe in the Melbourne trams belonging to the Melbourne people, if honorable members please. But the honorable member for Bland, speaking at Wagga, and also in this House, I will not say misrepresented, but did not put this matter quite correctly.

Mr Watson - I believe I put it quite correctly. I saw the honorable member's letter, and it was absolutely incorrect.

Mr LONSDALE - I propose to put the case as I have it. In order to show the difference between public control and Socialism, the honorable member made the statement that the fare on the Melbourne trams was 3d., whilst the fare on the Sydney trams was id. That was correct so far as t went, but it was still a misrepresentation of the facts, because if you pay a fare of 3d. at one end of a line here in Melbourne, you can go right through for that fare.

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