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Tuesday, 27 September 1904

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I do not care to use the term " deserters."

Sir William Lyne - We are better than the traitors on the Government side of the Chamber.

Mr McLEAN - The object of that meeting was to find a pretext to justify honorable members in deserting their leader, abandoning their election pledges, and joining forces with the Labour Party.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Why did the leader of the protectionists accept terms that were' previously rejected?

Mr McLEAN - The present Government was not formed, and, if I am not mistaken, the Prime Minister had not even been sent for to form the present Administration, when the honorable and learned member commenced negotiations with the Labour Party to re-open the Tariff.

Mr Mauger - The Minister is wrong - it was afterwards.

Mr McLEAN - Was not that the object of the alliance that was entered into - will my honorable friend deny it?

Mr Reid - It was something else. It was another crutch.

Mr McLEAN - I believe that there were three planks in the platform of the seceders, and they were very important ones. I would be the very last to underrate their significance. One of the planks was the revision of the Tariff ; another referred to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ; and the third had reference to preferential trade. If my honorable friends had fought for these provisions, I could have understood their action. No doubt they did fight for them, but what did they get? So far as the public can ascertain from all the published statements and from the manifesto of the alliance which has been issued, they did not obtain a single concession in return for their support of the Labour Party, except immunity from opposition at the coming election. I think it is' only fair to the honorable and learned member for Indi to say that he could not have been thinking of himself when he stipulated for that condition, because we know perfectly well that the Labour Party could not affect his chances in his own constituency.

Mr Isaacs - How does the Minister know that I made any such stipulation? It is a mere assumption upon his part.

Mr McLEAN - Stipulated for what?

Mr Isaacs - For immunity from opposition.

Mr Spence - They did not make that stipulation.

Mr Reid - The stipulation is contained in the document.

Mr McLEAN - At any rate, I think it is a. reasonable assumption, . when we know that the stipulation is contained in the manifesto, and when we have had a recent admission from the leader of the Opposition that he had no right to put it there without consulting his masters outside.

Mr Isaacs - I never heard that admission from the leader of the Opposition.

Mr McLEAN - My honorable friend should have attended the meeting which was held on Sunday at the Queen's Hall, and he would have heard something very like it.

Mr McDonald - The Minister was not present anyhow.

Mr McLEAN - No; I do not attend political meetings on Sunday. I think that six days a week are ample to devote to politics. A man must be a glutton who would give up the seventh day to a political discussion.

Mr Isaacs - Then why did the Minister advise me to attend ?

Mr McLEAN - I did not. I should have respected my honorable friends - although it was in violation of their election pledges - if they had insisted on the concessions which they demanded upon the three great questions to which I have referred. But when I find that they surrendered their claims without receiving any consideration other than that which I have stated, I am forced to the conclusion that there was some other motive for their action, which has not been divulged. It is not for me to suggest the nature of that consideration. Every honorable member can fill in the blank according to his own imagination. I would remind my honorable friends in the first place that their action constituted a distinct violation of their hustings pledges. I am aware that the honorable and learned member for Indi was not opposed at the last election, and probably he gave no pledge. But the utterances of several honorable members in the Opposition corner, including the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member, for Bourke, and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs-

Mr Groom - I was not opposed.

Mr McLEAN - But the honorable and learned member made a statement which I am sure he will not deny.

Mr Groom - Hear, hear !

Mr McLEAN - The only other member of the party who spoke during the course of the debate was the honorable and learned member for Corio. He manfully admitted that he had pledged himself to his constitutents in favour of fiscal peace. He informed us that he . released himself from that pledge on the ground that there had been a change of Government. What that circumstance had to do with the deliberate violation of an election' pledge I have yet to learn. However, that is a matter between himself and his constituents. My point is that the honorable and learned member admits that he pledged himself to fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament. We also know that the leaders of the three parties in the House immediately after it assembled, declared that the result of the general elections had been to secure fiscal peace during this Parliament. I may be pardoned, perhaps, if I read a few extracts bearing upon this point. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -

The fiscal issue is dead and buried during this Parliament, at all events.

The present Prime Minister said - '

I recognise that that is the verdict of the constituencies.

The honorable member for Bland said -

I share the gratification of the Prime Minister that with the last election, the issue, as between free-trade and protection, has disappeared for some time to come, at any rate, so far as the Tariff is concerned.

Further on he said -

Practically the fiscal issue is dead, at any rate, so far as this Parliament is concerned.

Again, on the 12th November, he said that under no circumstances would he be a party to the disturbance of the fiscal peace now reached. Speaking at Wagga on the 91b

August last-

M.r. Reid. - Why, that was only last month.

Mr McLEAN - Speaking at Wagga upon the 9th August, the honorable member said -

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

T admit at once that if honorable members subsequently received information which, in their opinion, justified them in reopening the question in the interests of the country, they would be warranted in doing so. But before taking such action, I certainly think that they should take their constituents into their confidence. They should resign their seats. The honorable' member for Melbourne Ports ' laughs at the idea of resigning his seat. I can quite understand that that laugh comes from his very heart. If my honorable friends felt so strongly upon this question, how is it that they entered into an alliance with the Labour Party, by giving up every tittle of what they claimed ? Not a single- shred of comfort for them is contained in the manifesto which has been issued concerning either of the three questions to which I have referred. In regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, every honorable member of the alliance is to have " freedom of action as to method of control." Inotherwords he, is to be at liberty to do exactly as he likes. When my honorable friends agreed to that they knew perfectly well that the Labour Party, which outnumbers them by two or three to one, would; to a man, favour State control, notwithstanding the fact that the States will not nationalize the industry.

Mr McDonald - Do not be too sure of that; one State in the group is very likely to take the matter up.

Mr Reid - Is that Fiji?

Mr McLEAN - Then it is provided that preferential trade is to be " discussed by the joint parties." What a definite, forward movement that is ! Then the Tariff is to be "inquired into." The greatest opponent of the revision of the Tariff might agree to those conditions without abating one jot of his convictions. I believe that the free-traders would not be more averse to an inquiry than would the protectionists.

Mr Isaacs - There .is provision for something more than an inquiry.

Mr Reid - lt is not worth more than a ticket for a soup kitchen.

Mr McLEAN - Let us hear the magnificent provision which follows: -

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 fairer conditions for labour for all engaged in every form of industrial enterprise, and to advance their interests and well-being without distinction of class or social status.

Mr Reid - - Indi again !

Mr McLEAN - That is magnificent. But what follows?

(4)   As to any regulation arising under this paragraph only, any member of either party may, as to any specific proposal -

Now listen to this -

(a)   Agree with the members of his own party to be bound by their joint determination, or (£) Decide for himself how far the particular circumstances prove necessity, or the extent to which the proposal shall be carried.

A lot of magnificent proposals are laid down, and then we have "a" and "b" taking any particular starch or benefit out of them. I must say that when I read this document, I thanked my stars, for the sake of my old friend, the honorable and learned member for Indi, that he had not gone any further in alphabetical order. If he gave up everything he had contended for in the two initial letters of the alphabet, it would be sad to contemplate what he might have done when he had reached the letter " s." I fancy I can hear the honorable and learned member bargaining, not for himself - I admit that he has no necessity to do that - but for some of his followers, with the leader of the . Opposition, to 'spare them at :the election. I 'can imagine that I hear the polite and gentlemanly leader of the Opposition telling him in the language of the poet -

I will place thee in a sylvan bower And guard thee like a tender flower.

The honorable and learned member for Indi, in his facetious manner, went on to describe the parties sitting on this side of the House as a " sexless ' ' combination. I can only say that if my honorable friend, in his negotiations with, and his final surrender to, the leader of the Opposition, showed any political sex it certainly was not the masculine sex. The honorable and learned member promised to " love, honour, and obey " the leader of the Opposition on condition of receiving what the weaker vessel always receives, even in a savage land, from her lord and master - personal protection. But the honorable and learned member went on, and promised the leader of the Opposition a very numerous family, which, in his own graphic language, was to comprise " all the progressive forces of the Commonwealth." We can imagine " all the progressive forces of the Commonwealth " being galvanized into life, and action being taken on such a soul-stirring plank as that preferential trade is to be "discussed." The honorable and learned member went still further. He agreed to .constitute himself a sort of decoy duck to lure any erring spirits from this side of the House to the labour fold. Really, the appeal he made the other evening to honorable members to cross the floor was most touching - it was made with all the blandishments that my honorable and learned friend can command. I presume the reason he called us a "sexless" lot was that there was not a rush to cross. I am sure he must have realized during all these trying negotiations the truth of the lines - '

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive.

In the same spirit, on the very day that the motion of no-confidence was tabled, the honorable and learned member perpetrated a most magnificent farce. He rose, and in austere manner, and; with an air of pristine innocence and almost vestal purity, gave notice of his intention to move, next day, for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the present Tariff. I need hardly say that that idea was borrowed from the Minister of Defence, who had expressed an opinion in that direction, in a press interview, ' some days before. That, however, is not the important point. When the honorable and learned member for Indi gave notice of that motion, he knew that as soon as he sat down the leader of the Opposition would give notice of a motion which would arrest all business - a motion which my honorable friend had no doubt helped to frame, and which, if successful, was intended to result in a general election. That is what the late Government asked the Governor-General to grant them, and what they were working for. But if the motion of which the leader of the Opposition at that time was prepared to give notice were successful, my honorable and learned friend knew that it would be utterly impossible ever to reach the question involved in his motion. Of course it was a splendid electioneering cry. My honorable friends opposite seem to be adepts at that sort of thing. I know that my honorable and learned friend has great ability, and I am sure that there are very few honorable members who respect him more highly than I do. But. in matters of this kind we have to speak out plainly ; and I must say that my honorable and learned friend displayed a capacity for acting which I never gave him credit for. The whole thing was about as clever a piece of acting as it "has ever been my good fortune to see. It may have been a little overdone. For instance, the anguish that my honorable and learned friend expressed at the havoc that was being wrought by the present Tariff was, I think, a little overdrawn ; and the indignation that he expressed against the protectionists on this side of the House was perhaps a little too terrible when we remember that both of those emotions had slumbered peacefully for the previous nine months, and had only been suddenly galvanized into existence when the Labour Government were turned out of office. I am reminded forcibly of a countryman of my own, who, having failed to see the point of a joke, racked his brains for two days in the effort to discover it. At last, having found a wrong and not the real point of the joke, he laughed most heartily, and said, "Eh, mon, it was guid." And then he added, "And it flashed on me a' 0 a sudden." This necessity for an immediate revision of the Tariff must have flashed on my honorable and learned friend "a' o' a sudden " when the Labour Party went out of office. My honorable and learned friend referred in rather scathing terms- to the reactionaries and conservatives on this side of the House. Any one who will express any serious fear of an influx of the conservative element into a Parliament which is elected on the most democratic franchise that the world has ever seen must be trying - I do not care to use harsh terms, but he certainly cannot be very sincere in his denunciation. Honorable gentlemen who are so ready to denounce what they call the conservative element know perfectly well that if four, five, or half-a-dozen persons having conservative leanings get into a House of seventy-five members, it is the utmost that can be expected under such a franchise as we have. They know also that those persons cannot possibly do any harm. They cannot retard progressive legislation.

Mr Spence - If they hold the balance of power they can.

Mr McLEAN - At the same time our honorable friends know that honorable members opposite, who are quite as exclusive as is the most crusty conservative, are a much more dangerous body.

Mr Reid - Hear, hear; a Masonic Lodge.

Mr McLEAN - But it is a safe thing to rail at a weak party, and it is probably a prudent thing to speak well of what is really a rising party. The leader of the Opposition complained bitterly of the remark I made to the effect that the Labour Party represented only a section of a class. I should be very sorry indeed to misrepresent my honorable friends in. any way. I can assure them that so far as the personnel of the party is concerned no one has more respect for them than I have, or more friendly feelings towards them. But I spoke from the evidence of my own senses in this House what I believed then, and what I still believe, to be literally and absolutely true.

Mr Spence - How could we get here without being elected in the same way as "other honorable members?

Mr McLEAN - I do not mean to say that persons of no other class vote for my honorable friends opposite. I know perfectly well that they do. But when my honorable friends enter this House what consideration do- they show those other persons who vote for- them ? Whom do they represent outside ? Trade unionists ? They certainly do not represent the free labourers.


Mr McLEAN - This is most extraordinary.

Mr Spence - We desire fair play for everybody.

Mr McLEAN - And yet my honorable friends support legislation which would rob the free labourer of his means of living.

Mr Webster - That is not correct.

Mr McLEAN - They do more. They abuse them in language which I hardly like to repeat. Such terms as " scab," " blackleg," and " members of the criminal classes," are the epithets that are hurled by members of the Labour Party at free labourers.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - The free-traders have called the protectionists robbers?

Mr McCay - What did the honorable member call the Labour Party?

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I am sorry to have to mention the name of the Minister of Defence, but this is the second time he has offended. I must ask that these interjections across the Chamber shall be absolutely' repressed.

Mr McLEAN - With the exception pf a few days given to the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill, the Labour Government while in office, devoted practically the , whole of their time to the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I was a constant attendant in the House, and I never heard a member of that party advocate any provision from the employers stand-point.

Mr Spence - There was no need for that. They had plenty of friends to do that for them.

Mr McLEAN - Honorable members opposite cannot claim to represent them. They cannot claim to represent the free labourers. I should, therefore, like to know whom my honorable friends opposite represent outside trade unionists?

Mr Spence - We are prepared to give everybody fair play, and that should be all that is needed.

Mr McLEAN - I admit that they represent trade unionists well. Thev are certainly true to their pledges to those people. I have never known them desert trade unionists on anv occasion whatever. I still say, judging from all that I have seen, that whoever may support them at the elections, when they come into this House honorable members of the Labour Party represent only one section of the workers, and that is the trade unionists. During this debate we have heard a good deal about Socialism. I have been a little exercised about my honorable friends' eagerness to deny that they' sympathize with Socialism.

Mr King O'malley - Nobody here denies it. I am a Socialist from my toes to my nose.

Mr McLEAN - What is a Socialist? All authorities I have read on the subject assert that the ultimate end of Socialism is the nationalization of land, of capital, and of industries.- I think my honorable friends opposite will admit that.

Mr Webster - They will admit anything.

Mr McLEAN - It is on that point that I join issue with them. As for their present milk-and-water programme, there is no great harm in it. I am sure I should have been quite willing to have let my friends opposite remain in possession of the. Treasury bench while dealing with their milk-and-water legislation. I do not know that I should have been wise in doing so, because when we know that men are travelling on a dangerous road to a goal that we know would be destructive to the best interests of the country, the sooner their progress is arrested the better it will be for all concerned.

Mr Thomas - That is why we have proposed' a motion of want of confidence in honorable gentlemen opposite.

Mr McLEAN -- When tha honorable member for Darling, whom we all respect, beamed on us the other day for five solid hours, he devoted his time to teaching us the beauties of Socialism, and the great attractions and advantages of State control. The honorable member even went so far as to tell us that in regard to the care of children the mother is not in it with the State.

Mr Spence - I did not. I merely quoted facts.

Mr McLEAN - My honorable friend told us that children that were farmed out by the State were infinitely better cared for than those under the care of any mother.

Mr Spence - I did not. I said that in South Australia the record of babies farmed out is a favorable one. That is merely a fact which can be ascertained by any honorable member.

Mr McLEAN - My honorable friend went on to point out the beauties and advantages of land nationalization. He told us that when the State secured possession of the land', it would have so much money coming in from it that the Government could remit taxation in every direction, and could run railways free for the convenience of the people. But the honorable member never once told us how the State is to get possession of the land. Surely there are only two ways by which the State can get possession of the land - by purchase or by confiscation? The honorable member for Darling would not, I believe, advocate confiscation. I am only saying that there are two ways of obtaining possession.

Mr Spence - I did not advocate either.

Mr McLEAN - I understand from my honorable friends opposite that they have no sympathy with the confiscation of private property. Is not that so? Well, then, my honorable friends must intend to buy the land. Am I right there ?

Mr Reid - Tax it first.

Mr McLEAN - That shows the unfortunate position of gentlemen who have no knowledge whatever of business matters. It looks splendid- - most attractive. But let us come closer to the question. In order to buy the land you must, in the first place, borrow the money to buy it with.

Mr Spence - It is unnecessary to do that.

Mr McLEAN - Take the case of Victoria. Victoria has, I think - speaking from memory - 24.000,000 or 25,000,000 acres of alienated land. If, leaving out city land, we put the value down at, say £4 per acre - that is, I think, a moderate estimate of the value - we should have, in the first place, to borrow about £100,000,000 to buy out the Victorian privatelyowned land. How is the value of land ascertained ? The real value of land is the capitalization of its net income, computed at the current rate of interest. That is the rental value of land, the tenant paying all local taxes. The rental value of land should represent the annual interest. Therefore the rent that my honorable friends would receive - even if they got the highest rent that the most grasping private land-owner could get, and tenants will not give more than the interest represented by the profits from the land-

Mr Spence - Why, then, did the honorable gentleman advocate compulsory land resumption ?

Mr McLEAN - I advocated a very different kind of land resumption. I will tell my honorable friend later what I advocated, but I will deal with this question first. There would be no money left from the rents to go to the State. But the State would have to provide for the interest connected with it. The State would also have to provide' the enormous expenditure involved in supervision - the supervision that is at present exercised by 'the individual land-owner, and that would amount to an enormous sum. What then becomes of my honorable friends' millions that are to be rolling in, and which will enable them to abolish the freights on the railways? Another phase of this question of Stateowned land is this : Every one who understands the question knows that land that has been cultivated by a tenant, unless it is cultivated under the most stringent conditions and the most careful supervision, will, in the course of a few years, be exhausted. It is absolutely necessary to give back to the land the' properties that are extracted from it by cultivation. We can imagine therefore the amount of supervision that would be necessary on the part of the State in order to keep the land from being, impoverished or exhausted by the tenants.

Mr Batchelor - Is this part of the Government policy?

Mr McLEAN - It is part of my honorable friends' policy, and I am showing what they are working towards and what constitutes a very serious menace to the future prospect of Australia if they become strong enough to govern.

Mr Spence - Yet the honorable gentleman supported it himself?

Mr McLEAN - I will tell my honorable friend what I supported. I supported the purchase of land for the purpose of dividing it into small holdings and planting a peasant proprietary on the soil, and I looked to the purchasers being able to pay for that land by the labour that they put into it each year. My anticipations in that -respect have been thoroughly justified by the experiments we have made. I believe that it is a sound policy to plant an industrious yeomanry on the soil.

Mr Webster - That is our policy.

Mr McLEAN - No. My honorable friend's policy is that of the tenant and the landlord, the State being the landlord, and the people who work the land the tenants, who are personally interested in taking ail they can extract, and giving back as little as possible in return.

Mr Webster - The honorable gentleman's policy is that of the mortgagee and the borrower.

Mr McLEAN - The policy of closer settlement is, I believe, a sound and healthy one. I should like to see all the good productive land of Australia in the hands of small holders, who would have a personal interest in preserving it from impoverishment and exhaustion. These men would be the best colonists we could have.' They would have a vested interest in the country, and would do nothing to endanger its welfare or progress.

Mr Spence - The honorable gentleman is on the same platform as we are.

Mr McLEAN - When the leader of the Opposition was twitting the Government with its intention to confer with the States Governments during the recess, he told us, in a high-handed manner, that he would not treat with the States Governments, but would appoint a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth straight away, and trust to public opinion compelling them to transfer to him the work which the AgentsGeneral are now performing.

Mr Webster - Where did he say that?

Mr McLEAN - He used words to that effect.

Mr Webster - Let the honorable gentleman quote his words.

Mr McLEAN - How can I quote' the exact words? My honorable friend will find the words in Hansard, and the honorable member for Bland will not deny that he used them. He is too honorable and straightforward to deny what he said.

Mr Thomas - No one would care; to deny what he said; we only ask the honorable gentleman to quote his words.

Mr McLEAN - Those are his words, as nearly as I can remember them.

Mr Thomas - As nearly !

Mr McLEAN - He said that he would appoint a High Commissioner during the present session, and he added that public opinion would compel the States Governments to come into line at once.

Mr Spence - That is, those who refused to come in by negotiation.

Mr McLEAN - Negotiating with a pistol held at their Reads.

Mr Spence - Hear, hear; a good way too, sometimes.

Mr McLEAN - That statement showed a want of business tact and diplomatic skill which, in ray judgment, would utterly unfit any person holding those opinions for the leadership of the Government of the Commonwealth.

Mr Fisher - I think that the honorable gentleman is doing the leader of the Opposition an injustice. What he said was that the appointment of a High Commissioner was necessary, and, no doubt, the States would see to their own affairs.

Mr McLEAN - The leader of the Opposition said that public opinion would compel the States to come into line. I distinctly remember him using those words.

Mr Spence - That was in answer to an interjection.

Mr McLEAN - That was dealing with the States Governments, who have rights under the Constitution, in precisely the same way that the honorable gentleman tried to deal with the House when he held out a threat if we did not eat our own words and reverse our vote he would go out of office.

Mr Webster - He said that if the Opposition did not give his Government time to discuss the question he would go out of office.

Mr McLEAN - The honorable member can give his own version. The leader of the Opposition ridiculed our idea of conferring with the States Governments with a view to -have a uniform system of old-age pensions for the Commonwealth in place of the systems now in operation in New South Wales and Victoria. He told us that he would pass an Old-Age Pensions Bill, irrespective of the" views of the States. Is not that a threat?

Mr Thomas - He said he would establish old-age pensions whether the States would agree or not.

Mr McLEAN - What sort of a' position should we be in to negotiate with the States Governments if we told them beforehand, " We are going to negotiate with you, but unless you do exactly as we tell you we shall proceed without you ? "

Mr Thomas - He' did not say any such thing.

Mr McLEAN - That is the inevitable inference ' to be drawn.

Mr Thomas - That is not correct, and the honorable gentleman knows it is not. He is most unfair, and I am surprised at him.

Mr McLEAN - What construction would any one put on the honorable gentleman's statement, but that he would proceed with an Old-Age Pensions Bill whether the States would agree' to his proposal or not ?

Mr Thomas - Will this' Government give us old-age pensions ?

Mr McLEAN - When the honorable member rises he can speak about the Government. I am speaking about the leader of the Opposition.

Mr Frazer - We will admit that much.

Mr McLEAN - I am glad that my honorable friend admits it.

Mr Frazer - Only that much.

Mr McLEAN - Whenever we spoke of our honorable friends opposite as being under the domination of outside organiza tions, we were invariably met with a contradiction from their side. We were told that they were absolutely independent of outside organizations. When we mentioned that the minority must bow to the decision of the majority in caucus, that was denied, in spite of the fact that we had before us the pledge that every member of the. party has to sign before he goes up for election. When speaking to their masters outside-

Mr Thomas - Are not the people outside the honorable gentleman's masters as well as ours ?

Mr McLEAN - Not in the same sense. We are not the bondsmen of certain organizations outside. What did the leader of the Opposition say on Sunday night, when he addressed the audience that assembled in the Queen's Hall, Melbourne? -

It was true the labour Members of Parliament were the result of organizations, were governed by the rules of organizations, worked by a platform prepared by organizations, and had to abide by decisions in caucus.

That is all we ever asserted about the Labour Party.

Mr Tudor - No.

Mr McLEAN - I never heard any one go further than that.

Mr Thomas - Nonsense.

Mr McLEAN - I do not see how itwould be possible for any one to go further, because the honorable member for Bland admits that the Labour Party are the creation of these organizations, are governed by their rules, and are compelled to abide by the decision of a majority in caucus-

Mr Thomas - On the platform.

Mr McLEAN - On matters affecting the platform, which is a very much wider thing.

Mr Webster - Honorable members on the other side are in the same fix.

Mr McLEAN - If we were all in the same fix, I could tell the honorable member how the House would be situated at the present time. If we had a caucus, and the majority could compel the minority to sit with them, speak with them, and vote with them, the honorable and learned member for Indi and his friends would be here, in their proper place, supporting us.

Mr Mauger - The caucus decided against the honorable gentleman, and he knows that it did.

Mr McLEAN - My honorable friends opposite admit that the members on this side constitute a majority of the Protectionist Party.

Mr Isaacs - If we had all kept our pledges, the honorable gentleman would be still on this side of the House.

Mr McLEAN - I do not know whom my honorable and learned friend means by "we."

Mr Mauger - The majority of the caucus, and the honorable member knows it.

Mr McLEAN - I did not accuse the honorable and learned member for Indi of breaking his pledges.

Mr Kennedy - Were we not free to vote as we thought fit?

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable members for Moira and Echuca, and I think the Prime Minister, though the Minister of Trade and Customs being in front of him I could not hear distinctly, have been guilty of an offence to which I have drawn attention two or three times, that is, of conversing- across the chamber.. I would also remind the honorable and- learned member for Indi, and the honorable member for Melbourne1 Ports, that they will both have an opportunity to speak later on, and therefore I hope that they will not continue their interjections.

Mr McLEAN - All the members now sitting in the Opposition corner should be supporting the Government with voice and vote, and would then be doing a much wiser thing for themselves and their country than they are now doing. ' I wish to say in conclusion - because the hour is late, and I have spoken longer than I intended - that it is the earnest desire of this Government, and all our actions will be devoted to that end, to make Australia a land worth living in. and not a place to be avoided. We believe that the best way to do that will be to stimulate and to encourage primary production and industrial enterprise by every legitimate means in our power.

Mr Isaacs - That is our platform.

Mr McLEAN - The honorable and learned member and those with him have given that up with their " a " and " b " provisions. We make no such surrender. We shall endeavour to secure to every man and woman in the Commonwealth the legitimate reward of their honest toil.

Mr Spence - By what means?

Mr McLEAN - By the means which we have announced in our platform, and by other legislation on the same lines. In the true spirit of the Constitution, which provides that every man and woman in the Commonwealth shall have an equal voice in framing the law, we shall endeavour to make them equal before the law.

Mr Frazer - When speaking to the motion now before the House, I said -

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.

I was led to make that statement because of my knowledge that the women of this State are not enfranchised under the Victorian law, and the Minister did not correct me at the time.

Mr McLean - Yes, I did.

Mr Frazer - The honorable gentleman has since repudiated the charge, and on looking through the records of the Victorian Parliament when he was in office, I have ascertained that he introduced a Bill, and then a second Bill, providing for thesubmission of the question to a referendum of the people. I wish, therefore, to unreservedly withdraw my former statement, and to ask the Minister and the House to accept my assurance that when I made it I believed it to be correct.

Mr McLean - Hear, hear. That is manly.

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