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Thursday, 22 September 1904


Mr FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) - We can now, I presume, get back to the subject under discussion. I have gathered from the remarks of the honorable member for New England that the Ministerialists at the present time have a serious objection to raise against the methods of the Opposition, whom they accuse of having resorted to unfair tactics. Coming as it does from the lips of those who have lately been engaged in actions which have won for them the unenviable distinction of being called " a gang of political sand-baggers," I think that if the honorable member was speaking on behalf of honorable members opposite his remarks might be described as similar to " Satan sermonizing on sin." I wish for a few moments to contrast the position of the members of the Opposition and the attitude they have adopted in this Parliament with those that have been adopted by those who are sitting on the Ministerial side of the House. The leader of the Opposition in expressing his dissatisfaction with the present Administration, did not resort to the methods that were adopted by the present Prime Minister when he was seeking office. The leader of the Opposition has come down with a definite want of confidence motion, and has given every honorable member an opportunity to express his opinions clearly, distinctly, and fully, so that there may be no doubt about the position in which we all stand. But what was the course adopted by the Prime Minister? He came to the House in March, when the Deakin Government was in office, and said that they were in a minority, and were depending for their political existence on the votes of those who were then sitting on the corner benches. There was a serious difference of opinion with regard to the inclusion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill of the public servants. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was aware that the party to which I belong were pledged to the inclusion of those persons. Being defeated upon that question, he relinquished office. At that time the present Prime Minister voted with the Deakin Government. But from statements, which were made by him to the press, we were led to believe that he was very glad that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had retired from office. Certainly, a number of his present supporters voted against the Deakin Government. When asked why he did not get his supporters to save the Deakin Government, the) Prime Minister stated, in justification, that he did not wish to coerce the votes of those who believed in the inclusion of the public servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. No one would ask him to do that. But what about the conduct of those gentlemen who have been proclaimed as wreckers? What, for instance, about the honorable member for New England, the honorable member for Lang, and the honorable member for Wil- mot? What influence did he use upon those members of his party ?


Mr Kelly - The present Prime Minister used no influence in that direction.


Mr FRAZER - Absolutely none ! But there is reason to believe that the right honorable member was very well pleased at the defeat of the Deakin Administration. The Watson Government then assumed the responsibilities of office. At that time there was a serious difference of opinion between honorable members opposite. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, leading one section of the Opposition, said that it was necessary that a majority should be secured. That was satisfactory. No one could find fault with his position. But the Prime Minister, speaking subsequently, said that if it were a question of majority rule, the Labour Party had as much right to sit upon the Government benches as had the Deakin Government during the previous three years. It is fair to assume horn that remark that the right honorable gentleman was anticipating a time when he might be sitting upon the Ministerial benches without having a majority. Subsequently the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated that one thing which must be considered in .the matter of an agreement between two parties was that the members of those parties must not be found flying at each other's throats at the next election. We heard quite a different expression of opinion from the .right honorable member for East Sydney, He stated that to make compacts with another party when an election was imminent was legitimate, but that a compact made now as to what was to happen at the next election merited the strongest condemnation. Consequently, the actions of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat at that time, in the opinion of the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, merited the strongest condemnation. Now, it is necessary to deal for a brief time with a few of the opinions which members of the two groups on the Government side of the House have held concerning one another at different periods during their political career. I do not wish to go back to ancient history, or to deal with what the Prime Minister did or said ten years ago in the New South Wales Parliament. I am prepared to content myself with his actions since he has been a member of this Parliament. Speaking at the Town Hall, Melbourne, on 30th October, concerning the Deakin

Administration, the right honorable gentleman used these words -

The Government introduced- the Electoral Bill in the Senate, with a provision for minority representation.. That was the main provision of the measure. The Senate knocked it out. Then the Senate put in a provision against plumping. The other House removed it, and the changes were running between the two Houses, in which several Ministers voted in several ways during the several stages of the Bill. Mr. Deakin said last night that that Bill gave manhood and womanhood suffrage to Australia. I say that this Government, to serve its political interests, robbed hundreds and thousands of electors of their just rights

I wonder how honorable members opposite like to have those matters brought under their notice at this particular time, when they are clasping one another to their bosoms, and think neither can do any wrong. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -

This nefarious act in the interests of one political party may be committed in the interests of another.


Mr Wilks - Why re-open those old sores ?


Mr FRAZER - This is a sore which immediately concerns the present position in Parliament, and does not concern the position of certain gentlemen in New South Wales about ten years ago. With the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I am heartily sick of hearing about those old squabbles in New South Wales. Any stranger coming into the galleries of this House would believe that the Commonwealth consisted of New South Wales, and New South Wales only


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why did the honorable member not make a protest when the subject was raised?


Mr FRAZER - I am making my protest now when I am in order, but the honorable member in interjecting is out of order. The speech, from which I am quoting, proceeded -

Let us, while we stand on the brink of the momentous developments of this Australian nation, try to keep it from the political corruption we see in other great democracies. My strongest charge against this Government is that -they have broken their duty to the people, and broken the laws of the country for a selfish motive, and they have defiled and debased the ballot-box of Australia.

I wonder how the head of the' present Government, who, with his equal in all things, occupies the front Ministerial benches, feels now when he finds himself a partner with those who took a prominent part in debasing and defiling the ballot-box of Australia?

A similar question might be asked as to the right honorable and learned member for Balaclava. I wonder if that gentleman feels at peace with the head of the Government, by whom he was slandered on the public platform, and who has ridden on his back into prominence in this Parliament. We find, however, that, despite those serious differences of opinion - I am safe, I think, in thus referring to the position - the present Government, and their supporters have agreed on one point, viz., that the Labour Party of this country must be checked and " downed." One of the first reasons which honorable members opposite advance for their present stand is that we on this side obtain our political positions by the assistance of a machine which they intend to remove. I should like for a moment to refer to this so-called political machine, which honorable members on the other side take a particular delight in denouncing. The mode in which all honorable members on this side enter this Chamber may not be altogether the same, but is very nearly the same in all portions of Australia. Before a man is permitted to be a candidate under our flag he . must be a member of a trade union or a labour league; and in that matter there are no restrictions. There is no member in this House who, if he desires to join the leagues, may not do so. There is no clique; the party is not reserved for a few, but is open to all who desire to enter. When it is agreed that a labour man shall be nominated for a certain constituency, the candidate must possess the goodwill of a majority of those who know him best, and he must subscribe to the platform. But what is the course adopted by the Free-trade Party? As an illustration, I might point to my interjecting friend the honorable member for Wentworth. If he had not had the good grace of the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, and had not been placed on the free-trade ticket, what chance would he have had of being a member of this Parliament ? If the honorable member had not had behind him the influence of the great Sydney newspapers-


Mr Kelly - I never met the honorable and learned member for East Sydney before I announced myself as a candidate.


Mr FRAZER - That is a vastly different matter. What chance would the honorable member have had had his name not appeared on the free-trade ticket? As I say, our candidates have to submit them selves to the goodwill of those who know them best. On the other side, the particular gentleman who is at the head of the free-trade organization obtains the assistance of the great daily newspapers, in Sydney, for instance, for certain candidates, with the result that these gentlemen are entirely at his mercy. As an illustration of the method adopted by the Labour Party, I may take the case' of Senator de Largie in Western Australia. That gentleman was nominated by the Labour Party for the Senate, and a plebiscite was taken of trade unionists and members of labour organizations generally in Western Australia, with the result that at the preliminary poll Senator de Largie was selected as the candidate by about 8,500 votes. I ask the right honorable member for Swan, who selected the protectionist candidate's for the Senate in Western Australia ?


Mr King O'malley - The right honorable member himself.


Mr FRAZER - The protectionist candidates were selected by the right honorable member for Swan and Dr. Hackett, the head of the West Australian newspaper.


Sir John Forrest - Dr. Hackett had nothing to do with the selection.


Mr FRAZER - Did the right honorable .member not select the candidates, if Dr. Hackett did not do so?


Sir John Forrest - I supported the candidates.


Mr FRAZER - On the one hand, we see that 8,500 electors, who knew Senator de Largie intimately, selected him as their candidate, while, on the other hand, candidates were selected by one man, and foisted on the electors.


Sir John Forrest - I did not select the candidates..


Mr FRAZER - We find that the democracy of Western Australia on that occasion, by an immense majority, returned labour senators at the head of the poll. It is said that the Labour Party are class representatives; but I do not think that a more striking exhibition of class representation could be witnessed than that afforded us by the honorable and learned member for Wannon last night. From start to finish the one question in that honorable and learned member's mind was - "How is this going to affect the farmer? How are my constituents going to get on ?"


Mr Kelly - Is it not his duty to consider his constituents?


Mr FRAZER - Yes, but not at the ex- pense of other portions of the Commonwealth, not when it means an injustice to thousands of others who do not happen to live in the constituency of Wannon. As to the Arbitration Bill and the inclusion of agricultural labourers, who are the class advocates in this Chamber? The object of the Labour Party is to make that Bill apply to the industries of the country as a whole, and we are met with the cry, "Oh, save the poor farmer and the poor fruit-grower !" The other day we had from the Minister of Trade and Customs a statement that the policy of the Labour Party is to tax the producer off the land. Am I correctly representing what the Minister said?


Mr McLean - The honorable member is quite right.


Mr FRAZER - If the Minister of Trade and Customs seriously entertains that opinion he is suffering from an unpardonable lack of knowledge as to the intentions of honorable members on this side. The policy that the party with which I am associated intend to adopt is one of the utmost consideration for the men who are producing wealth from the soil. The man we want to tax is he who is not producing, but is keeping the land locked up from those who want to produce. A few months ago it was Stated in the Tocsin, and the statement has not been disputed, because it is indisputable, that there are 2,560,000 acres of the most fertile land in Victoria which are locked up by great landlords,, and which support only 7869 persons. That is the sort of thing we desire to stop. We desire that those men shall be compelled to hand the land over to those who, under present conditions, are forced to go elsewhere in order to settle.


Mr Kennedy - Does the honorable member propose that the land shall be paid for ?


Mr FRAZER - Of course; our policy is not a policy of confiscation in regard to land or any other property. But when the welfare of the people is being seriously jeopardized owing to the fact that a few men have millions of acres locked up, it is time for State interference, in order to make them part with that land, whether they like to do so or not.


Mr Kelly - How is the money to be raised for the purchase?


Mr FRAZER - I shall tell the honorable member about the financial proposals piesently.


Mr Kennedy - The present Minister of Trade and Customs was the first, as a State

Minister, to encourage settlement on a large scale in Victoria.


Mr FRAZER - Then it is a wonder that the honorable gentleman, at that time, allowed his gaze to miss this awful exhibition of a few people holding millions of acres of fertile land locked up.


Mr McLean - The State Government, of which I was the head, resumed and distributed amongst the people nearly all the estates that have been resumed for settlement in Victoria.


Mr FRAZER - If that be so, and I have no reason to doubt the honorable gentleman's word, I can only say that he was on the right track, and that it is a pity he was not allowed to stay in the State Parliament and continue the good work. T should like to lay before honorable members the opinions which were expressed by the present head of the Government in regard to the farmers at a particular time. The right honorable gentleman, at Warragul and Kyneton, delivered brilliant addresses and aroused his audiences to a high pitch of enthusiasm. It would appear that of late his one mission in life is to remove any illfeeling which may have existed between the residents of Victoria and the residents of New South Wales, and to that end he is going to clasp the farmers to his bosom, At the present juncture, it is interesting to note - and I should like his understudy in the House to listen to this - what he said in the Melbourne Town Hall in December, 1899. On that occasion he said -

That door which was open in the mother colony always was going to be open in all Australia.

How does that suit the Minister of Trade and Customs?

With all these barriers down, the stock f fatteners and wheat farmers would feel the cold southerly wind of a world's competition.


Mr Kennedy - The right honorable gentleman is of the same opinion still.


Mr FRAZER - If that be so, the right honorable gentleman is disguising or keeping that opinion in the background. When addressing them of late, he has not promised them " cold, southerly winds," but the warmth of his own bosom. Honorable members opposite denounce the political machine as a serious evil, when it is used by our party ; but they intend to bring into existence another machine. I do not say that the members of the Ministry . are sending organizers around, but their supporters, and also the merchants, and members of. the Employers' Federation - those who are responsible for sweating young girls in Melbourne, by paying them 2s. 66. per week, and then deducting 2$d. for insurance - are organizing leagues throughout Victoria and the other States. They intend to go to extremes in their endeavour to defeat the Labour Party at the next election; and, peculiarly enough, they are calling in the assistance of the ladies. At the Masonic Hall, Collins-street, Melbourne, the other night, at a fullypacked meeting ready to cheer the Prime Minister when he cracked some of his familiar jokes, that gentleman when he had delivered his vigorous denunciation of the Labour Party, said : - " In this hall, there must be no society distinctions. The ' missus ' must grasp to- her bosom the ' Mary ' that works the gridiron." To the women of the Commonwealth he looked to save the country from the extremes of labour legislation. But if the right honorable gentleman had so much consideration for the interests of the females of this country, if he was so anxious that they should exercise the franchise, and should make their influence felt upon the policv of the Commonwealth, how it is that, during the five years that he was in office in New South Wales, he refused to give the women of that State the right to vote ?


Mr Kennedy - Is not the fact equally a reflection upon the party by which he was kept in power?


Mr FRAZER - The right honorable member for Swan, who is another of those who are foremost now in addressing meetings of females, was at the head of a Ministry for ten years without giving them a vote. I believe that the honorable member for Gippsland stands in a similar position.


Mr McLean - I advocated woman's suffrage before the honorable member was born.


Mr Maloney - Yet the honorable member left me in want of a seconder when I first proposed it.


Mr FRAZER - The honorable member for Gippsland may have stated on the hustings his belief in woman's franchise, but, although he was Premier of Victoria for a considerable time, he did not introduce a Bill to give effect to that belief.


Mr McLean - It was one of the principal planks in our platform.


Mr FRAZER - Then the honorable gentleman ought to have placed it upon the statute-book. It has been in the platform of the Labour Party as long as I remember, and if it had not been continually advocated by that party, the ladies of Aus tralia would never have obtained the right to vote. When honorable members opposite are addressing meetings of ladies, their auditors know that it is the Labour Party whom they have to thank for their right to vote, and I believe that their gratitude will cause them not to forget us when the time to vote comes. Another statement of the Prime Minister of which notice must be taken, because of the high position which he occupies, though it may be only temporarily, was that the Labour Party wish for the creation of an Arbitration Court in order to starve the wives and children of non-unionists. That is one of the greatest misrepresentations of our desires that has been put before the people of Australia.


Mr Webster - It is a slander.


Mr FRAZER - Yes. Our experience of existing arbitration legislation has enabled us to gauge pretty accurately what is required to make a Commonwealth arbitration measure successful. Arbitration Acts are in force in two of the States, but it has been found in Western Australia that a provision giving preference to unionists is necessary, and the Government of that State propose to amend the Act by the insertion of such a provision. We have always maintained that for the successful administration of an Arbitration Act, and to secure the industrial peace of Australia, it is necessary that those who are banded together in organizations should have some interest in supporting that legislation; that some return should be made to them for their action in foregoing the right to strike when dissatisfied with their conditions, and for undertaking the expense of conducting cases before the Arbitration Courts. We say that those who belong to unions should be placed in as good a position as those who ,are not members of unions, who are put to no expense, who do not give evidence before the Arbitration Courts, and yet who benefit by all their awards. To speak of " preference to unionists " is a misnomer. What we desire should be termed " security to unionists." It is the bitter experience of unionists in all parts of Australia that those who have taken a prominent part in conducting the affairs of unions, either by appearing before Courts of Arbitration, or in other ways, have often afterwards found that their positions have been filled by others, although they had hitherto done their work with entire satisfaction to their employers. We know that blackballing exists in connexion with the employers' unions of Australia, and it is therefore necessary that there should be some legislation which will give security to those who are responsible for the conduct of the affairs of the Labour organizations. It is a slander to say that we wish to starve the wives and children of non-unionists. On the contrary, the Labour Party has, from its inception to the present time, consistently tried to bring about better conditions for the people of Australia. Our reputation, however, is such that we need not fear such slanders. Incidentally, I would point out that during the present debate we have had the expression of the views of only one-half of the head of the Government Apparently, the Ministry are reserving themselves for a final rush before the division bell rings; but probably the result will be like what is happening to the Japanese at Port Arthur, that when they make it, they will suffer very severely. The final objection of the Prime Minister to the Labour Party is that we are a pack of extremists. Honorable members opposite refer to themselves as a combination of - moderates, and I am very pleased to obtain from their own lips a name by which I mav refer to them. They are certainly very moderate in their attendance in this Chamber at the present time. I should like to know how far their moderation will carry them. Is the moderation of the honorable member for Gippsland the same thing as that of the honorable member for Kooyong, of the honorable member foi New England, and of the honorable member for Lang? Are the other members of the party prepared to go as far as the Prime Minister wishes to go, and to remove from the Immigration Restriction Act the provision relating to contract labour, and from the Post and Telegraph Act the provision relating to the employment of black labour on mail boats ? I think that their moderation is likely to carry them backwards in more senses than one. Not only will they be retrogressive in their legislation, but their policy will carry them back to this side of the Chamber with which they are more familiar. The Prime Minister was elected as a freetrader, but he declared, when speaking on the Address-in-Reply, that, so far as the fiscal situation was concerned, there was an armed truce. How long is that armed truce to last? Will it continue as long as the present- coalition remains in office ? Is it not rather a truce for the burial of the dead? Has not the right honorable member now got rid of the obstacle which for so long prevented him from obtaining office? There is nothing very contentious in the programme of the Government. Their chief plank is to get into recess as soon as possible.


Mr Kennedy - Does the honorable member blame them ?


Mr FRAZER - No; because it is their only hope of remaining in office. I would blame honorable members' on this side, however, if they did not take the first opportunity to toss them out of office. Although honorable members opposite differ on many things ; but they are in absolute agreement upon the first plank of their platform.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the honorable member's party are in agreement upon a second plank - that the Ministry shall not get into recess.


Mr FRAZER - Quite so. To show why they should not get into recess, I will refer to a few remarks which we have heard from them on other occasions, and to the methods which they adopted for obtaining office. Both the' Prime Minister and his better-half declared that it would be unconstitutional to bring the public servants of the States and of the Commonwealth under the Arbitration Bill. If it were not unconstitutional, they declared that it was inexpedient - that it would cause considerable dissatisfaction amongst the State's, and that it involved a very serious encroachment upon State rights. Indeed, the 'honorable and learned member for Ballarat affirmed that it was the first step towards wrecking the Federation. But the present Government, since their advent to office, practically say, "We are quite prepared to ignore! the inclusion of the public servants of the States within the scope of the Bill, and to disregard the injury which will be done to State rights if we can only get into recess."


Mr Kennedy - Could honorable members go back upon their votes?


Mr FRAZER - The Government could have declared, as did the honorable member for Bland, that they were prepared to adopt the Bill in a certain form, and that if the House declined to allow them to do so, they would relinquish office. Instead of taking up that attitude, they stand convicted of having passed a measure with which they absolutely disagree.


Mr Kennedy - No.


Mr FRAZER - I maintain that that is so. Let me briefly traverse ii few of the items which are contained hh what the

Government have been pleased to dub a " policy." The first matter to which I shall direct attention is the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. As a representative of Western Australia, I am not ungrateful to honorable members opposite for the votes which they cast in favour of obtaining the latest possible data, so that we may justify that great national project. . But when we find the Ministry filling their so-called programme with noncontentious measures, it is only right that we should criticise their action. I now wish to refer to a telegram which appears in the Argus this morning, and which was despatched to Western Australia by the right honorable member for Swan.


Mr Fowler - I think that an important debate of this kind demands a better attendance of honorable members in the Chamber. [Quorum formed.]


Mr FRAZER - In the Argus of to-day I find the following telegram, which is headed "Trans-Australian Railway": -

KALGOORLIE, Wednesday.- The secretary of the roads board sent a telegraphic message of congratulation to Sir John Forrest last Saturday, in the terms of the resolution passed at the meeting of the board, held on the previous evening, as to the Trans-Australian Railway Survey Bill. Yesterday Sir John despatched the following reply from Melbourne : - " Very gratified at your earnest message. Owing to "the Labour Party precipitating a no-confidence motion, which would have been just as effective in a week's time, the Bill is postponed indefinitely. Regret senseless tactics just when success was assured."

According to the dictum of the right honorable member for Swan everything with which he does not agree is "senseless." Upon the question of the construction of the Trans-Continental Railway I venture to say that no honorable member doubts the loyalty of the whole of the representatives of Western Australia, and nobody will seriously cavil at their earnestness in endeavouring to secure a majority in favour of that undertaking. But when I find the right honorable member for Swan urging that the Labour Party have precipitated a crisis which imperils the passage of the Bill relating to the survey of that line, it is only right that I should call attention to his own attitude upon that measure. As is well known the last three Administrations have placed that Bill in the very forefront of their programmes. Had the honorable member for Bland not been hurled from office in a most unceremonious and undignified manner by the present Ministerial supporters, it is practically certain that that measure would have been passed by this House immediately the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill had been disposed of. I need scarcely remind honorable members that the right honorable member for Swan voted against the Watson Administration. He did not pay any attention to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, when the honorable and learned member for Corinella submitted his memorable amendment. No. There was to be a re-shuffJe of the political cards, and the passage of that measure was not so urgent then. When the right honorable member blames the Labour Party for delaying the passage of that Bill, I would remind him that only four out of the twenty-two honorable members who opposed the motion having reference to the survey of the proposed route, are members of the Labour Party.


Mr Tudor - How many, members of the Ministerial Party opposed it?


Mr FRAZER - I did not carefully analyze the figures.


Mr Tudor - About ten.


Mr FRAZER - As is well known, it is customary for the Senate to adjourn immediately notice of a no-confidence motion is given in this House. Consequently, even if the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill had been passed by this Chamber its passage would have been delayed elsewhere by the motion which is now under consideration. I think I have shown conclusively that there is no justification whatever for the charge which has been mads against the Labour Party by the right honorable member for Swan, and which is calculated to create in the minds of a small minority in Western Australia, the impression that we desire to shelve that Bill'. Regarding the other items in the Government programme, the Prime Minister has declared his intention to proceed with the Papua Bill, which contains no contentious matter; but he proposes to defer the introduction of the High Commissioner Bill, until the various States Governments have been consulted. I say that, in view of the charges which have been levelled against the Commonwealth in London, the appointment of a High Commissioner who is familiar with our legislation, and in. sympathy with the aspirations of the Australian people, is absolutely urgent. The expenditure which his appointment would involve is infinitesimal, as compared with the good which would result to this country.. I admit that it is advisable, after the Central Office has been established to make every provision for effecting economies in the States Departments. The policy of the Government, however, is, to continue to allow our legislation to he misunderstood by people abroad. In regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, the Government propose; to pursue the good old policy of regarding nothing in it as vital.


Mr Kennedy - Did the Watson Government , make it vital?


Mr FRAZER - No, because it was not included in the platform upon which we were elected. It is a very significant circumstance that, in making his declaration of policy, the Prime Minister entirely forgot to mention the matter of old-age pensions. The desire to alleviate the sufferings of our aged poor was of such vital concern to him that he completely overlooked the question. From a second instalment of the Ministerial policy, delivered at a subsequent sitting, we. learned that he proposes to consult the States Governments in regard to it. I admit that it is desirable that the Commonwealth should work amicably with the States, but when the Prime Minister proposes ' to make the comfort of the declining years of the aged poor dependent upon the decision of the States Governments, I must cross swords with him. A vast majority of honorable members are pledged to old-age pensions, and must accept responsibility foi imposing any extra taxation which the carrying out of such a scheme may render necessary. So far as the electors represented by the Labour Party are concerned, we are prepared to pledge them to that additional taxation, in order to bring about an improvement in the condition of our aged poor. I, for one, will never sanction the welfare of these persons being intrusted, say, to the decision of the Premier of Victoria - to give a specific instance.


Mr Kennedy - What does the alliance say upon that question ?


Mr FRAZER - It says that it will introduce a measure providing for old-age pensions, as soon as possible.


Mr McCay - The alliance does not say that, but it might mean it.


Mr FRAZER - I beg the Minister's pardon. The alliance programme contains the following plank: - "Old-age pensions, on a basis fair and equitable to the States." Do honorable members opposite anticipate that we are prepared to enact legislation which is not fair and equitable? Do they imagine that we are willing to sanction a scheme which will starve one man and feed another? The difference between the programme of the alliance and that of honorable members opposite is, that whilst we are determined to place upon the statute-book a measure providing foi the payment of oldage pensions, they wish to shelve the question.


Mr Groom - They will promise it.


Mr FRAZER - They would promise anything to enable them to get into recess. We have been urged by some honorable members to state our objections to the present Administration and the present Prime Minister.


Sir John Forrest - Hear, hear.


Mr FRAZER - I think that if the right honorable member for Swan had been here he would not have urged that upon me. I have stated my reasons as emphatically as I know how. The reason I do not like the present Prime Minister of Australia is because I do not trust him politically.


Sir John Forrest - What is the difference between politically and privately; if the honorable member does not trust a man politically I suppose he would not trust him privately ?

An Honorable Member. - The right honorable member for Swan would not trust the Prime Minister politically a little time ago.


Mr FRAZER -- I should not like to say that I think the Prime Minister would try to steal anything from my pocket. I certainly do not wish to convey that impression to any one. but I do say that, politically, in the administration of the public departments, and in a position of responsibility for the preparation of legislation for the welfare of the people of the country I have no trust whatever in the right honorable gentleman. There are specific reasons why we can have no trust in him. The right honorable gentleman has said, " When I get into a position to do so I shall remove from the Immigration Restriction Act that obnoxious clause which prevents the introduction of contract labour to Australia."


Sir John Forrest - Is it not much better that a man should say straightforwardly what be will do?


Mr FRAZER -- Quite so. It is infinitely better that a man should say what he proposes to do when he gets into a position of power, but in the case of the Prime Minister we find that, instead of endeavouring to do what he has pledged himself to do, he is careful to say nothing about it at the present time.


Mr McCay - The Prime Minister said that it was not the policy of the present Ministry to do that.


Mr FRAZER - Are we to understand that the right honorable gentleman has withdrawn the pledge he gave to the people in that connexion?


Mr Kennedy - The right honorable gentleman has not got the numbers; that is the trouble.


Mr FRAZER - No, and the right honorable gentleman does not propose to go on with that or any other contentious matter until he knows that he has the numbers behind him. That is a fine manly and open programme. The right honorable gentleman, at the close of his political career in Australia, says, " I have adopted a policy which will get me into recess, and which will give me the numbers behind me, and until I have them I shall not make any attempt to interfere with existing legislation."


Sir John Forrest - You cannot go at a thing like a bull at a gate. That would never do.


Mr FRAZER - The Prime Minister stated publicly that he would remove the section of the Immigrants Restriction Act, to which I have referred, when he was in a position to do so. If he is ever to be in such a position, surely now, when he is at the head of the Federal Government should be the time ? If he is not prepared to endeavour to remove that section of the Immigration Restriction Act and the section of the Post and Telegraph Act prohibiting the employment of lascars on mail boats subsidized by the Commonwealth, the right honorable gentleman, having betrayed the pledges he has given to the people of the country, is not a fit person to be administering its legislation.


Mr Kennedy - The right honorable gentleman said that the electors at the last election did not give him the numbers to carry out his own desire.


Mr FRAZER - If the honorable gentleman is beaten on one occasion, does he turn his back upon proposals of which he has previously expressed approval. and offer to fight no more, or does he fight on ?


Mr Spence - It depends upon the tactics of the time.


Mr FRAZER - At the present time it depends upon whether a recess is in view. Dealing with the tobacco monopoly, the right honorable gentleman has stated thai a proposal has been introduced by the Labour Party, which would have the effect of taking that industry out of the control of private enterprise, and placing it in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, and he is against such a proposal. I regret very sincerely that a notice of motion on the business-paper, of business yet to come before the House, prevents me from going as exhaustively as I intended into the question of the tobacco monopoly, and its effects on the people of the Commonwealth. I must, however, say in connexion with that matter, that I hope to have the privilege a little later on of proving to the members of this House that the net profit which is likely to come into! the hands of the people of the State, as the result of nationalizing this one monopoly, is estimated on the most reliable figures which it is possible to obtain at the present time at no less than .£673,454 per annum.


Mr Kennedy - Is that allowing for Excise'?


Mr FRAZER - That is allowing for everything in connexion with the payment of Excise, and the manufacture and preparation of the tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes consumed in the Commonwealth. I candidly confess that I leave the discussion of this subject to-day with very considerable regret. This amount of £673,454 added to. the £600,000, or about that sum, at present returned as surplus revenue to the States, would amount to the tidy sum of about £1,300,000. On the statistics supplied by Mr. Coghlan, the most reliable it is possible to secure at the present time, such a sum would go far to make up the amount which would be required for a Commonwealth scheme of oldage pensions. The Labour Party expect very considerable assistance from this source in finding the money necessary to give effect to that most laudable proposal. In connexion with the constitution of the Cabinet, a matter in connexion with which I could exert no influence when it was formed. I remind honorable members that I expressed by way of interjection my opinion that in the formation of the Ministry the right honorable member for East Sydney was up to his old games, and would probably do what would amount almost to an insult to the people of Australia. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. I say that in the appointment of the honorable member for Gippsland as a member of the Cabinet, and by the announcement that he was a good protectionist, and was being appointed to preside over the Customs administration, there was almost an admission on the part of the Prime Minister that he did not think the citizens of Australia would trust him. if he placed a free-trader in that position. We had from the honorable member for Parramatta last night the statement that he does not think that a protectionist should have been placed in the position. That would make it appear that that honorable member also believes that the people of Australia would be justified! in coming to the conclusion to which I have referred. I have just a word to say with regard to the right honorable member for Swan. From a Western Australian point of view, another serious question arises in connexion with the formation of the present Ministry. I am again placed in a most unfortunate position, because, as is usual when an honorable member desires to say anything to the right honorable member for East Sydney, he happens to be out of the Chamber. That appears to be a chronic complaint.


Mr Page - The right honorable gentleman was always accusing Sir Edmund Barton of the same thing when he was Prime Minister.


Mr FRAZER - In forming his Cabinet the Prime Minister stated that he proposed to select its members irrespective of the States from which they came, and to select only the most competent men for the vacant positions. In doing so, the right honorable gentleman has established a precedent which is not likely to develop a patriotic sentiment in all portions of Australia. But, if we accept the right honorable gentleman's statement, and consider the Cabinet he has formed, it does not pay a very high compliment to the right honorable member for Swan. It is a most remarkable thing that that right honorable gentleman should have been left out of the present Ministerial combination. I cannot read the thoughts of the right Honorable member for East Sydney, and I am, therefore, unable to say whyhe has not included a representative of Western Australia in his Cabinet ; but if its members were selected on the ground of ability, knowledge of the various public Departments, and a strong hand to administer, the right honorable member for Swan has not much for which to thank the present Prime Minister.


Mr McDonald - Especially when the right honorable gentleman has dropped the High Commissioner Bill.


Mr FRAZER - Western Australia is cut off from representation in the present Cabinet. Though there is a prospect of communication in the future which will bring us closer-together, we are now in that State far from the stir of eastern life. The Prime Minister has treated us as though we were at a great distance, and as though he had not much to expect from our State. Not only has the right honorable gentleman left us without a representative in this Government, but when he was delivering his addresses to the people of Australia, he forgot all about us, and it was only after he had written his letter that it occurred to him to mention us in the postscript. . The right honorable gentleman said' that Western Australia had no representative in the Cabinet, but he asked the people of that State to accept him as their representative. I expect that the Prime Minister intended that to be regarded as a joke. Politically, he has been a joker all his life. When he went over to Western Australia at the beginning of last year, to be present at the opening of the Coolgardie water scheme, he made a number of speeches in that State, and these were followed by the result that every man who stood upon his ticket after he had been over to the State to assist the party went down with a sickening thud. I say that we have but little to thank the right honorable gentleman for. Politically, I distrust him, and I think Western Australia distrusts him. We have not been well treated in the formation of his Cabinet. The vast majority of the representatives of that State are on this side of the House, and so far as I am concerned I shall take advantage of every opportunity and every legitimate political means to have the right honorable gentleman removed from his present office, and to secure the removal from positions of power and responsibility in this country of other Ministers who are, I believe, the enemies of progress.







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