Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 5 October 1904

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) - During this debate the House finds itself in a peculiar position, arising out of the attempt of certain honorable members to try to- create two parties. The House was constituted by the electors ' into three parties, which, as we know, were practically equal. Certain honorable members, however, seemed to think that such a state of affairs was absolutely fatal to the administration of responsible government under our Constitution. We know that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in a speech he made before the House met, declared as a fundamental principle, that we must have two parties. Those who stood as members of each of the three parties took up a certain attitude with respect to their constituents when they were elected, and now it is sought by artificial means to try to compel honorable members who have found themselves bound by certain pledges to range themselves in two parties. The attempt to a certain extent has been successful, and the result is that during the last few days we have had a series of recriminations arid attacks made upon persons for trying to adapt themselves to the conditions of two parties. Honorable members seem to think that two-party Government was a magnificent thing so long as they had two of the opposite parties sitting on one side of the House. But a number of honorable members find that by reason of the _ pledges and promises they gave they cannot adapt themselves to the position of sitting behind the right honorable member for East Sydney. Honorable members have also been inclined to express the belief that the present state of the House indicates a certain weakness in the Constitution. I for one do not share that opinion in the slightest degree. That great instrument of government which was created by the people of this Continent is as stable and solid a piece of governmental legislation as was ever devised by any intelligent people. We have a Constitution giving us ample powers of legislation, and conveying to us splendid powers of administration. But what is wanted in the Commonwealth is a party with confidence in the powers of government conveyed in the Constitution, and prepared to frame and stand by a policv on good strong national lines. I believe that the electors throughout Australia 'spoke in favour of such a policy, as I think I shall be able to show. However, the issue before us to-night is a simple one, and it is whether or not the Administration which has been formed by the right honorable member for East Sydney commands' the confidence of the House. I am not desirous of making any personal remarks during my speech. The Prime Minister seems to think that our feeling towards him is very much like that of the son-in-law, who on receiving a telegram informing him that his mother-in-law was dead, and asking whether she was to be embalmed, and buried, or cremated, wired back, " Do all three, lest there should be any mistake." I can assure the right honorable gentleman that that is not the feeling which is entertained for him by honorable members on this side of the House. He has declaimed as strongly as did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that we should have two parties in the House, that we should have party government, that we should go back to those great principles of responsible government under which Great Britain became what she is. And if, as a result of his efforts, honorable members find themselves ranged on each side, I am perfectly sure that he will allow us that same right of conscience which he has claimed - that he will not continue the line of remark which he employed in Adelaide the other day, when he said that the alliance on this side savours of office-seeking.

Mr Reid - What alliance does not?

Mr GROOM - If the right honorable gentleman's alliance did savour of officeseeking - and he says that all alliances do - I can assure him that on this side that is not the intention of the alliance.

Mr Reid - No Opposition ever does look after office ! It is the " other fellows " always.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman, however, has made use of that expression, which perhaps was only used in a press interview, and was not intended to be published.

Mr Reid - It is an honorable ambition. No one should be ashamed of it ; I am not.

Mr GROOM - As the result of the efforts of the right honorable gentleman and honorable members opposite, two parties have been created. On the very evening when the fatal amendment was passed, which brought about the defeat of the Watson Administration, the honorable member for Gippsland declared in the most emphatic terms that as a result of that division two parties had been created. Speaking to the press on Saturday, 13th August, he said - 1 look upon the division on Friday evening as a line drawn between two distinct parties in the House of Representatives. The combination that voted against the Ministry with Mr. Reid is a solid party. Its members are united on all questions except that of the Tariff, upon which a truce has been declared for the life of the present Parliament. As I remarked before, the party that voted against the Ministry on Friday is a solid one. Two parties have emerged from the chaotic state of the House, the line has been drawn, and if it stops at all it must stop so as to add a few more members to the Opposition parties.

Mr Wilks - We have three parties here yet, for we have the Cameron party.

Mr GROOM - That is a solid party. I think there is no " yes-no " about it. Seeing that both parties are trying, as it were, to create this system of responsible government, we can afford, I think, to be generous towards each other in our criticisms. The issue, however, is, have we confidence in the present Administration? Speaking on behalf of this side, I say absolutely no.

Mr Reid - I never knew an Opposition that had.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman has. had three experiences in opposition in this House, and I suppose that he can speak with more authority than any other honorable member. ' Why are we opposed to the Administration? In the first place, I regard the Ministry as one under the lead of a free-trade Prime Minister. I believe that he has still a firm belief in those principles which he has declared all his life are the most cherished convictions of his heart. The policy announced by him to the electors was defeated absolutely ; therefore, I am against him on the ground that the people of the Commonwealth pronounced against him as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister. I am against him because on all the measures which _ he criticised, the people pronounced against him, and in favour of their administration by sympathetic persons. I am also against him, because I am still in favour of all those principles which were advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and which were opposed by the right honorable gentleman.

Mr Reid - No, no; there were many I did not oppose.

Mr GROOM - I am opposed to this Administration, because we were entitled, even at this stage, not to a complete declaration of policy, but to a declaration of leading principles.

Mr Reid - The little I have given the honorable and learned member does not agree with him. He is not strong enough yet to take a good dose.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman will be strong enough before he is done. I am also opposed to the Administration because I do not believe in the methods by which it obtained possession of the Treasury bench. I am not speaking personally, nor do I wish to insinuate that there has been anything dishonorable ; I am speaking merely of the political methods by which they obtained their places on the Treasury bench. What was the policy announced by the Prime Minister when he stood before the electors of the Commonwealth last year? He stood, first of all, as an outandout free-trader. He would not accept fiscal peace, or a fiscal truce, the proposal for which he described as a specious barrier, raised by the protectionists to fight behind, and a ruse to enable them to win a certain number of free-trade votes. He stood out firmly for the principles of freetrade, for which he had fought during his whole life. He declared that if he had been ready to abandon them, he would then have been at the head of an almost irresistible party; but he could not sacrifice them. ' He was not going to give way upon principles which had brought him honours in the shape of Cobden medals.

Mr Reid - Only one.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable member deserved two, one for "Yes," and the other for "No." When he went to Queensland, he condemned men like Mr. Philp, who were free-traders, but who dared not fight for the principles of freetrade; who raised the cry of the classes versus the masses when they should have stood up for the great and glorious doctrine which he professed? I do not believe that the right honorable member has sunk his free-trade principles. He has been "Yes-No" upon every subject except freetrade. I do not know sufficient about his State career to say what his attitude has been on all subjects.

Mr Reid - I have been more consistent than most of those who criticise me.

Mr GROOM - I can speak of the right honorable gentleman only as. I have found him in this House, and I know that he has taken up a "Yes-No" attitude on many matters. He also fought during the elections against preferential trade. He was not going to raise duties against the mother-land. He did not believe in attempts to bind Australia to England by commercial ties. The great tie of relationship was strong enough. He would throw open all Australia, not only to the goods of Great Britain, but to the goods of America, France, and every other country as well, so full of love was his heart. Therefore he would oppose preferential trade. Those were the two chief matters of policy upon which he spoke ; but he went further, and dealt with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, as exemplified by the six hatters' case. He said that that legislation was " utterly mean, disloyal, and unnatural," and that he would make an effort to repeal it if he got a chance to do so. He took up the stand that the Act was one which should be administered in a proper way, and he condemned the administration of Sir Edmund Barton. He ridiculed the treatment meted out to the six hatters, though it seems to me impossible to distinguish that case from the six potters' case.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr Reid - Honorable members ought all to be ashamed of themselves.

Mr SPEAKER - Not only are inter jections across the Chamber decidedly disorderly, but it is also disorderly for honorable members generally to make so much noise that the speaker cannot proceed. I hope that both causes of disorder will be discontinued.

Mr GROOM - I shall set out the facts: I do not wish to be unfair.

Mr Reid - Has not the honorable and learned member a word of condemnation for the false charges which' have been made ?

Mr Robinson - The statement to which the honorable and learned member refers was one of the dirtiest that has ever been made here.

Mr GROOM - I wish to be allowed to set out the facts in my own way. If I speak unfairly, I shall be willing to' withdraw what I say. I think that I have always acted fairly in this House. Without referring to matters of administration at all,I say that the facts in the six potters' case are very much the same as the facts in the six hatters' case. What was the position of the six hatters? They came here under contract, and no application for exemption was made ontheir behalf. They were, therefore, not allowed to land, and stayed on board the ship which brought them. It was not until later that application for an exemption was made by the person who imported them. When the facts were put before the Minister of External

Affairs, Sir Edmund Barton, he heard the whole of the evidence, and came to the opinion that the men should be allowed to land. Yet the right honorable gentleman declared that his administration of the Act had brought discredit on the Commonwealth. What are' the facts in regard to the six potters? It is admitted that they came here under contract, and they were allowed to land, notwithstanding.

Mr Reid - Nothing has been proved yet. The matter is being inquired into. There is considerable doubt about their position, and the caseis coming before the Court.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman condemned' in unmitigated language the application of the law of the Immigration Restriction Act to the six hatters; but he had not the slightest foundation for his criticism.

Mr Reid - They were exempted,- which showed that they did not properly come within the law.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman said, when his action was challenged, that he had sworn to obey the law ; but he did not allow that defence to be raised on behalf of Sir Edmund Barton.

Mr Reid - The six hatters were exempt under the law, and were therefore admitted into Australia.

Mr GROOM - It was the action of Sir Edmund Barton in administering the Act which was criticised. We were told that his administration was a disgrace to the Commonwealth. That was one of the points upon which the right honorable gentleman worked strongly. He told the people that if he were Prime Minister he would not administer the Act in that spirit.

Mr Reid - The Act must be administered.

Mr GROOM - It was Sir Edmund Barton's administration of the Act that the right honorable gentleman criticised.

Mr Reid - One could not break, the law by administering it.

Mr GROOM - Quite true; but it is a pity that the right honorable gentleman did not think of that when he was criticising the administration of Sir Edmund Barton. Why did he allow telegrams to be sent across the seas condemning that administration? Why did he not rather say, " I do not believe in the Act ; but Sir Edmund Barton did his duty " ?

Mr Robinson - Why did not the honorable and learned member denounce the fabrication about the six potters?

Mr GROOM - The honorable and learned member for Wannon recently delivered a lecture to a. large audience of ladies in his constituency, demonstrating on the blackboard the method of voting. At the end, one of the ladies asked, " Now that we know how to vote, for whom ought we . to vote?" His answer was, "My native modesty prevents me from telling you." My native modesty prevents me from answering the honorable and learned member's question. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government also condemned the section of the Post and Telegraph Act which prohibits the employment of black labour on mail steamers.

Mr Reid - Hear, hear.

Mr Kennedy - The right honorable gentleman was in opposition then.

Mr GROOM - Of course, that is a question of policy upon which it is permissible to hold different views. I find no fault with the right honorable gentleman for holding that view. At the elections he also sounded his trumpet very loudly about the terrible gerrymandering which had taken place in this House in regard to the redistribution of seats. I have gone through all his speeches, and the matters which I have mentioned were the chief issues which he put before the people. What was their answer? Did they authorize him to pass a free-trade Tariff? Did they reject the preferential proposals which he opposed ? Did they authorize him to repeal the Immigration Restriction Act and certain sections of the Post and Telegraph Act? Did they, as a whole, pronounce against the men who were responsible for our electoral legislation ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They reduced their numbers.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman was utterly and hopelessly beaten on every issue.

Mr Reid - Wait until next time.

Mr GROOM - Next time the right honorable gentleman will no doubt have the zeal of a convert, and I shall be pleased to congratulate Him upon his conversion. It will be one of .the most interesting episodes in our political history if he is able to say, "After sitting in close counsel with the Ministers of Trade and Customs and Defence, I see the error of my ways, and declare for protection." We can imagine the rejoicings which will take place across the seas when Mr. Chamberlain receives a telegram' informing him that the right honorable gentleman has been appointed a member of the

Imperial Conference to advocate preferential trade for Australia. These are possibilities which appear to loom before us. The right honorable gentleman at the elections was hopelessly beaten on every issue. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat had a clear constructive policy. Throughout the Convention, and ever since, he has believed in the Constitution. He knows the great powers which the nation possesses under it, and he went before the electors with a policy which he believed would do something to build up industries in Australia. He recognised that the first Federal Parliament, although there were three parties in the House, had laid a great many splendid foundation stones. That Parliament passed machinery measures, none of which have yet been subjected to serious criticism. It established a White Australia, enacted an excellent Electoral Act, with a splendid franchise, instituted a Federal Judiciary, framed a Tariff, and passed the legislation necessary for the proper administration of the great Departments of the Commonwealth. None of these measures was subjected to any serious criticism. The honorable and learned gentleman's remarks were confined to the case of the six hatters.

Mr Reid - I spoke of other matters, too.

Mr GROOM - Nearly all the laws passed by this Parliament have stood, and will stand, the test of time. The first Ministry has been subjected to a good deal of abuse ; but I believe that in years to come, when things are seen in better perspective, Australians will be proud of it. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat went to the constituencies with a clearly defined policy. He believed in this principle of protection.

Mr Reid - Fiscal peace.

Mr GROOM - I am coming to that point. He also believed in preferential trade, and he stood up for it. I suppose that no finer speeches were' ever delivered in Queensland than those of the honorable and learned member upon the subject of preferential trade. He told the people that preferential trade would present great opportunities for the . producers of Australia. He believed that there was an unlimited market in the old country, and that, by means of preferential trade, that market could be secured .for us.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is very comforting for the farmers of Great Britain.

Mr GROOM - He believed, further, that tEe establishment of preferential trade would result in bringing together all parts of the Empire, not in the did spirit of Imperialism, but by binding them together foi the advancement of mutual interests as members of a common stock, as a people speaking a common tongue,' reading a common literature, and having the same traditions of Government, and I am confident that in this House and throughout the "Commonwealth there is a strong feeling in support of his ideas.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And yet" the honorable member voted against him.

Mr GROOM - The honorable member's interruption is both irrelevant and incorrect. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat put before the people the principles of protection and also advocated fiscal peace. He believed that we should stand by the existing Tariff, and the majority of the people of Australia agreed with him in the view that he put forward. He argued for fiscal peace, not as the mere suspension of the Tariff. He regarded the issue as being not between fiscal peace and fiscal war, but between national trade and foreign trade, between preferential trade and the rejection of the offers -made to us. Protection, in his view, did not mean the mere collection of duties at the Custom House, but an attitude of mind favorable to legislation in the direction of building up industries upon a firm basis, establishing satisfactory conditions between employer and employed, and providing that all persons in the community should receive fair remuneration for their services. He expressed his reliance in our magnificent resources. He pointed to the fact that we had great deposits of minerals scattered throughout the Commonwealth, and an almost unlimited area of agricultural land, and the question, to his mind, was how we were to secure the best results, and obtain the best conditions for our people. Now, on the other hand, the Prime Minister's idea is that we should repeal all the Customs . duties, and let everything come about spontaneously. Perhaps he also leans to the view expressed by the honorable member for Lang, who thinks that the standard of intelligence can be raised, and improved conditions can be secured by imposing a land tax - that all the blessings that we could desire would flow from the imposition of such a tax. The constructive clement characterized the whole of the policy of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He said we must, first of all, ascertain how we could give the people of the Commonwealth a market for their produce, and he indicated preferential trade as one of the means. Then he advocated the establishment of a Department within the Commonwealth, by means of which those engaged in the producing industries might be so guided that they would be enabled to secure the best results from their efforts. That led up to the idea of establishing a Department of Agriculture. He also considered it necessary to assist our producers by obtaining information with regard- to markets across the seas, and with that end in view he pressed for the appointment of a High Commissioner. He believed in establishing proper conditions of employment, but wished to avoid industrial strife, and, therefore, proposed that protection should be afforded to the workers by means of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. His was essentially a constructive policy, whereas that of the Prime Minister is entirely destitute of that element.

Mr Reid - And yet the honorable and learned member deserted his leader in favour of the honorable and learned member 5or indi.

Mr GROOM - If the right honorable gentleman held the same views as does the honorable and learned member for Indi he might be worthy to lead even the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. ITe honorable and learned member for Indi can claim that he has consistently stood up for his principles right through the piece. He has fought the fight from the beginning, and has no reason to be ashamed of the results. He has stood up for his principles, whilst many of those who should have supported him have arrayed themselves against him, and he has emerged from the struggle triumphant. We have no reason to be ashamed to sit behind' him, 01 to be afraid to follow him, because his record in this House has been one of honour. Reverting to the policy of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I would point out that he believed that we should initiate an immigration policy, that we should encourage the development of our iron industry, that we should assist our producers by means of bonuses, and that we should pass a Navigation Bill to protect the seamen and others engaged in trading along our coasts. He also believed in the Western Australian railway. The only difference between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister upon the last-named subject was that the Prime Minister was at one time in favour of merely drawing a straight line across the map .from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and allowing the railway line to be constructed straight ahead without any inquiry. That, at any rate, was the attitude he assumed when he was in Western Australia.

Mr Mahon - But when he came to Victoria he forgot all about it.

Mr GROOM - He now has some one sitting behind him who will take good care that he -does not forget it. The views I have indicated were those which were placed before the people of Australia by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I say that they show that, between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister, there is an absolute difference of method in approaching the solution of political questions. The Prime Minister is an individualist who believes in conciliation and arbitration only because the workers have asked for it. While offering to grant it to them, he reminded them of the fact that they would be subjecting themselves to legislation which would involve the abandonment of all the glorious -liberties, including the right to strike, which they now enjoyed.

Mr Reid - I commended them for it.

Mr GROOM - But the right honorable gentleman reminded them of? the rights which they were surrendering.

Mr Reid - What sort of criticism is this ?

Mr GROOM - I should say that it is very pungent criticism.

Mr Reid - How could I praise men without telling them what I was praising them for?

Mr GROOM - It is quite true that the right honorable gentleman praised the unions. He said -

It seems to me that it reflect infinite credit upon the labour bodies of Austn.Ua that they are willing to entrust their liberty --ave, even their subsistence - to judicial decision. It is. in my opinion, one of the grandest displays of intelligence and a readiness to sacrifice the one weapon which labour has, that certainly has no parallel in any other part of the world.

Mr Reid - Hear, hear.

Mr GROOM - I do not deny that the right honorable gentleman praised tthem, but his attitude throughout has been that of an individualist. His frame of mind throughout his political life has been similar to that of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. There were two policies before the country, and that of the right honorable gentleman was rejected, whilst the honorable and learned mem ber for Ballarat was returned here with a large following. There was another party in this House which also had a policy, embracing many of the proposals announced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Their programme was - (i) Maintenance of a White Austra lia, (2) Compulsory arbitration, (3) Oldage pensions, (4) Nationalization of monopolies, (5) Citizen defence force, (6) Restriction of public borrowing, (7) Navigation laws. If honorable members analyze the programmes put forward they will see that the party represented by the free-traders in this House had practically no support in the community.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was the largest party returned.

Mr GROOM - Of course, it had some support, but its representation in this House did not embrace more than one-third of the members.

Mr McCay - But they substantially represent the voters.

Mr GROOM - Perhaps they do in competence, but not in numbers.

Mr Reid - I think that everything is turning out very well.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman will be turned out very well presently. An examination of the programmes to which I have referred will show that if fair opportunities had been afforded a great deal of useful legislation might have been carried out. But those honorable members who were anxious to give all the assistance they could to the community by means of legislative enactments were blocked by certain combinations. A majority of honorable members were pledged to carry out a number of definite proposals which would have afforded great relief to the people of Australia, but by reason of the changes which have taken place, all their efforts in that direction have been blocked.

Mr Kennedy - And the honorable and learned member is sitting with the majority who turned out the Deakin Government.

Mr GROOM - What about the freetraders oh the Government side of the House? Did they .support the Deakin Ministry ?

Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member and his associates turned us out.

Mr GROOM - That is not so, but I shall come to that presently. So far as the Arbitration Bill was concerned, there was only one real point of difference between the Labour Party and the members of the party led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, which prevented that piece of legislation from being placed upon our statute-book. That question had reference to the inclusion of States servants within the scope of the Bill. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was entitled to take up the attitude he assumed upon that question, but 1 think that he made a mistake, and that subsequent events have proved it.

Sir John Forrest - We do not think so.

Mr GROOM - So far as we can judge, there was only one point of difference between the two parties at that time to prevent the House from carrying on business, and passing a number of the leading measures advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. But, owing to the action of the Free-trade Party, the will of the people has been absolutely frustrated, and after a good deal of political engineering, the Free-trade Party have taken possession of the Treasury bench. After six months of inactivity, brought about by their action, we are here to-day. We are not following their bad example. We held that as soon as we found ourselves face to face with a Government policy with which we could not agree, we should, instead of blocking business, and intriguing, and whittling away this amendment, and that amendment, come straight out into the open, and say, " We cannot support you. If you have a majority, show it by your numbers, and then proceed to deal with the legislation required by the country." Why did not the Prime Minister take up that position ? If, when the House met six months ago, the right honorable gentleman thought he could command the confidence of the House, why did he not table a motion of want of confidence, and show exactly what his strength was? Instead of that, he allowed legislation to go on, and amendment after amendment to be moved, so as to block legislation, and eventually endeavoured to remove the Ministry from the Treasury bench by a subterfuge. I think that the actions of the right honorable gentleman have been such that this House should condemn them in anticipation of the displeasure of the electors which will be visited upon him when he meets them. Now, I desire to say a few words as to the means adopted by the right honorable gentleman to obtain power. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat met the House, he knew that there was trouble ahead in connexion with the provision for including the public servants of the States within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.

Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member for Indi was with him.

Mr GROOM - So was the right hon"orable gentleman, then. I am not denying that the honorable and learned member for Indi was following the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I wish the right honorable gentleman would confine himself to relevant interjections. The then Prime Minister proceeded with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and was met by an adverse vote. What position did the present Prime Minister take up with regard to that very important question?

Sir John Forrest - He voted with us, whilst the honorable and learned member did not, and would not do so if he had a chance.

Mr GROOM - I did vote with him. This is the view which the Prime Minister then expressed -

So far as I am concerned, I say I most unhesitatingly adopt the attitude which the Government has assumed on this question. I have an absolutely clear view - it may be mistaken, but it is absolutely clear - that any such course as is now proposed would be a breach of the Constitution, and would be a serious - a most serious - assault on the integrity of a national compact in its most vital provisions.

The honorable and learned member for Indi entertained a somewhat similar view in that whilst he confessed that he was uncertain as to the constitutionality of the provision, he had no doubts as to its expediency. The present Prime Minister upon that occasion said -

I feel, and I wish my position at the present time to be one of absolute clearness, that, if I were in the position of Prime Minister to-morrow, I should just as fearlessly and resolutely, to the very last, take up the position which has been taken-up.

He said that he would resolutely take up that position and maintain it to the very last. Where is he now? Why, he is advocating the Bill now with the clause he condemned in it. He brought the measure before the House, but did not ask for its recommittal. Now that he is Prime Minister, why does he not do so?

Mr Reid - I have a better half.

Mr GROOM - It shows that he is quite willing to adopt anything, so long as he is permitted to gratify his very laudable ambition to be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. He urged the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to take up a certain position. He declared, " I would do the same, if I were in your place." Then, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was defeated, the right honorable member walked across the Chamber, and took his seat, without any qualms of conscience whatever. Is there to be no such thing as consistency? Can the public have any confidence in that method of dealing with important acts of legislation? Is there to be no definiteness and certainty in our expressions of opinion? The right honorable 'member accuses us. of a breach of faith. What has he to say upon this question ?

Sir John Forrest - What is the honorable and learned member's attitude?

Mr GROOM - My attitude upon this Bill has been perfectly clear and logical throughout. Last year I voted in favour of including the railway servants within its provisions. Subsequently I went before my constituents,. and I was not called upon to deliver a single speech. I made no promises to them. I was returned unopposed. Consequently, I felt that I was in duty bound to repeat any vote Which I had recorded in this House. I voted with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat against the inclusion of States servants generally. Therefore, the interjection of the right honorable member for Swan is not very relevant. I still believe, however, that the general policy advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was the correct one. But, seeing that two members of his Cabinet accepted office in the present Administration after that provision had been inserted in the Bill, it is to be regretted that at the time they did not advise him that in their opinion he was making a mistake. .

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable and learned member for Indi mean to excise that provision ?

Mr GROOM - It is not a question of confidence in the honorable and learned member for Indi, -but of confidence in the Government. We have waited for several weeks to hear some defence of their administration, but none has been forthcoming. There has been nothing tout an attack upon the alliance. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat resigned his position the present Prime Minister was not sent for by the Governor-General. It was a national loss to this continent when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat took up that position.

Sir John Forrest - Why did the honorable and learned member vote against him?

Mr GROOM - I not do So. It is a great pity that the right honorable member was a member of his Cabinet. It could not have been a very harmonious one.

Sir John Forrest - I did not assist to turn him out of office.

Mr GROOM - But the light'- honorable member assisted to turn out a very good man, the right honorable member for Adelaide, from that Cabinet.

Mr Austin Chapman - Why rake up memories of that unpleasant time ?

Mr GROOM - Upon the defeat of the Deakin Administration His Excellency saw fit to send for the honorable member for Bland, and not for the present Prime Minister. The latter then stated that it was absolutely unconstitutional for the honorable member for Bland to accept the position. I think that he had authority for acting as he did. In this connexion, I propose to quote from Hearn's Government of England, in which .the writer says -

Those persons who overthrow any Administration may expect to be required by the King to assist him in the room of those officers whom, in consequence of their proceedings, he has displaced. Nor is a statesman who is summoned at liberty to refuse. He has taken upon himself the responsibility of obstructing the Government of the country. If he desires to save himself from the imputation of mere faction, he must endeavour to set up in its place a belter Government.

Then, upon page 552, he says -

We thus arrive at a further check. Since the Queen's Government must be carried on, those persons who have overthrown one Administration must be prepared to provide a substitute. From the nature of the case they must, in doing so, be subject to unsparing criticism. Thus, -if the Ministry be responsible, an equal responsibility rests with the Opposition. They oppose, knowing that they are liable to be required to substantiate their statements. They cannot merely harass or displace their opponents. They must take those opponents' places, and give "practical effect to their doctrines.

The present Prime Minister declared that the honorable member for Bland had no authority for accepting the position of leader of the House. I say -that in doing so he showed that he had a keen appreciation of the important position in which he had placed himself. He occupied practically the position of leader of honorable members upon the Opposition side of the House. But what can be said of the free-traders who voted with him? Here was an important provision which the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had contended was of vital importance to the States. They urged that it struck at the very foundations of the Federal compact. The party upon this side of the House disagreed with them. They held that it was in their power to insert the provision in question, and they exercised that power in the interests of good government. How many free-traders sat upon this side of the Chamber then ? I think there were some fifteen or sixteen. Those honorable members, upon a matterwhich it was argued involved the whole Constitution, were prepared to overthrow the Deakin Administration.

Mr Reid - Will not the honorable and learned member give credit to those who voted for their principles?

Mr GROOM - A certain number of honorable members voted according to their consciences, but others deliberately voted to displace the Deakin Government.

Mr Reid - Only two.

Mr GROOM - I do not cast discredit upon those who voted according to their consciences. The present Prime Minister declared that the honorable member for Bland, in accepting office, acted unconstitutionally. I have quoted from a constitutional authority to show that the duty was cast, not only upon the honorable member, but upon those who assisted to displace the Deakin Administration, of seeing that responsible government was carried on. Honorable members opposite talk about responsible government, but do not cite authorities in support of their statements. We all know that the Watson Administration carried on for about three and a half months, and that members of the two parties, led by the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, sat upon the Opposition side of the House. It was not long, however, before it became patent to everybody that there were forces at work which were extremely hostile to the Government, and to the particular piece of legislation to which every party was pledged. Whenever an opportunity presented itself of whittling away the powers conferred by the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, it was eagerly grasped. I do not find fault with honorable members for so acting, but I say that it was remarkable that a great many who were keen advocates of industrial arbitration quickly began to see that the foundations upon which they originally rested were of a very weak and untenable nature.

Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member voted against the Bill.

Mr GROOM - I did vote for certain amendments upon some occasions. I did my best to give effect to the wishes of this House. In the interests of industrial peace, I desired to see an arbitration law placed upon our statutebook. I repeat that parties began to manifest their presence in this House, and certain honorable members of the section led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat were found constantly acting with members of the Free-trade Party. By association, I suppose, their ideas became assimilated, and that condition, perhaps, constituted the beginning of the coalition between the two great parties, which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was so anxious to establish. Those honorable members, who formerly sat in the Opposition corner, and who are admittedlv conservative, were always found ' voting with these Deakinites. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Moira, two as true democrats as are to be found in this House, from time to time voted with the free-traders. Unfortunately, their fears were appealed to, and in the end, they supported the amendment of the honorable and learned- member for Corinella, which resulted in the downfall of the Watson Government.


Mr GROOM - I scarcely think that the honorable member for Parramatta himself is fully in sympathy with the present Administration. It is a most extraordinary combination. Honorable members sitting upon this side of the House are in agreement upon a great many things, and upon the general trend of legislation. Wherever, in the interests of the public, they believe that the State ought to exercise its power, they intend that it shall be exercised.

Mr Reid - But your masters seem to be falling out over 'you.

Mr GROOM - I do not know who is the right honorable member's master at the present time.

Mr Reid - He is my better half.

Mr GROOM - I should say that the talkative better half is not the honorable member for Gippsland. He is the silent member, but he may be the managing director, so that it is quite possible we may obtain protection and preferential trade just the same.

Mr Reid - When will the honorable and learned member for Indi say a word?

Mr GROOM - Why all this trouble about the honorable and learned member for' Indi? Is it because he is not sitting behind the Government? The Watson Administration, I repeat, were defeated upon an amendment which was moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. That amendment was really a test one, and one which divided the parties in this House upon the true principles of legislation. Honorable members were elected to pass an industrial Arbitration Bill. Was it to be a mockery and a sham, or a piece of legislation which would give effect to the wishes of the people who sent us here? It was intended that it should' promote industrial peace. It was not to be a Bill passed purely in the interests of either the employers or the employes. The public were to receive first consideration, because a strike falls more severely upon the people than it does upon -the parties who are immediately concerned in it. The electors sent us here to enact a law which would provide that strikes should cease, and that a Court of Arbitration should be used for the settlement of industrial disputes. Some honorable members urge that we should have only voluntary arbitration. They do not believe in compulsion. That is a logical position to take up. But I say that when we come to deal with compulsory industrial arbitration, the Court, when once constituted, should have the same liberty of action as is. possessed by a voluntary arbitration board, when it undertakes to settle a dispute. What is the present position? We have a number of organized trade unions. Those organizations are faced by employers' associations. We know that disputes of many kinds can arise between them, but one of the "most fertile sources of dispute is to be found in preference to unionists. That question is one which may be left to a voluntary board of conciliation and arbitration. I wish now to refer to a passage from Mitchell's Organized Labour, dealing with these unions. It reads -

The British textile workers insist upon the employment of union men only ; but, in this and in other trades, the exclusion has become so complete that it has almost ceased to be felt. A union card is a matter of course, and a matter of absolute necessity to a man desiring to engage in many British trades, and membership in a union is considered a privilege and not a burden.

Mr Watson - In New South Wales at least twenty agreements granting preference have been voluntarily arrived at.

Mr GROOM - So that in the United States the position which the unions take up is that for arbitration to be effective the unions must have preference right through. I am not saying that I favour that position. I am simply pointing out existing facts; and from the statements made by Mr. Mitchell himself in this book, it is clear that in England preference to unionists is a principle that is readily admitted by very many persons connected with industry. To create an Arbitration Court, and not give it the power to grant a preference to unionists, is really to deprive the men belonging to those unions of a right which they have at the present time. It is a right which is clearly admitted in law, that people can combine and refuse to work with any person if they choose to do so. There is no dispute about that. Whether they are morally justified in giving effect to that principle is quite another question. But when you come to take away from men their right to settle disputes by the old method of voluntary arbitration, I say that whatever disputes they can submit to a voluntary arbitration board, ought to be capable of being submitted to the compulsory Arbitration Court. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill merely allows that ; and, as it was introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, it gave the Court, in any dispute arising between employers and employed as to whether preference should be granted, the right to decide that question for itself. I found when I was over in New South Wales that, owing to the remarks made in this House, many people there believed that the Court to be established under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would be bound to give a preference to unionists. That is an absolute misrepresentation. The Court will have only a discretionary power.

Mr Frazer - It was a wilful misrepresentation.

Mr GROOM - Whether the misrepresentation was wilful or not I do not know, but the power proposed to be granted by the Bill is purely a discretionary one. The Court will have to consider all the terms and conditions surrounding an industry, and then to determine whether or not pre- ference to unionists shall be granted. It is well known that in many voluntary agreements, which have been registered, preference was readily granted. I do not hesitate to say that, personally, I do not like the preference provision. But I can conceive of cases in which preference ought to be granted. I therefore believe that it is only right and just - seeing that at the present time such a preference can be given under a voluntary agreement - that we should not tie the hands of the Judge but allow him to give the same judgment as can be given by a voluntary arbitration board. Take, for instance, the great shearers' strike which occurred in Queensland some years ago. Honorable members know the terrible confusion that existed in our great State in consequence of that dispute. They know of the sufferings that the people had to endure in consequence of it, and they are aware of the class hatred that sprung up, and which is still rankling in the minds of the parties to that strike. What was the cause of it? The shearers made a claim to have their unions recognised. The squatters turned round and said, " We claim the right to employ whom we please." The shearers asked for a conference, but the squatters said, "No, we will not have any conference on any conditions." That was the essence of the dispute.

Mr Fisher - The squatters wanted the shearers to give up their right to speak as a union.

Mr GROOM - That is so. That great strike threw the whole community into confusion. Would not honorable members give the Court appointed to decide disputes of that kind the right to decide whether preference should be given to unionists? Is it not better that the Court should have such power than that the community should be subjected to a loss of tens of thousands of pounds, that bitterness should be stirred up to such an extent that the military should have to be called out, and that almost a state of revolution should be produced ? I am not taking the part of either the shearers or the squatters, although I think that the shearers' demand for a conference ought to have been conceded, because by means of free discussion a public conscience is aroused, which sooner or later is brought to bear upon the parties to a dispute. The late Government was defeated upon an amendment moved by the Minister of Defence. I must confess that, of the two amendments then before the House, there is not the slightest doubt that that proposed by the then Ministry was infinitely better than the amendment of the Minister of Defence. I am not prepared to say that if even the amendment of the Government had been considered in a fair and impartial way, something better might not have been devised. But what I do claim is that honorable members opposite took up a rigid attitude, and refused to allow the late Government the courtesy of an opportunity to submit a further amendment. It may be urged that there have been other cases in which the House has refused to recommit, but I do not know of any case where this House as a House wilfully and deliberately took the business out of the hands of the Ministry expressly for the purpose of humiliating them. There has been no precedent in this House for such a course as that. Honorable members who wished to bring about a change of Ministry were no doubt perfectly justified in adopting that attitude. Some honorable members voted against the recommital be* cause they wished to take the control of affairs out of the hands of the late Government. The right honorable member for East Sydney certainly was not enamoured of them, because he was constantly reported to be going about with a noconfidence motion in his pocket, which was always to be moved " next day." That "next day" was never reached, but he was evidently prepared to take advantage of any opportunity to turn out the Government. ' I say again that the amendment prepared by the late Government was far better than the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which provided that preference should only be granted to unionists if in the opinion, of the Judge a majority of the persons affected in the industry who had interests in common were in favour of that preference.

Mr McCay - That is moderately correct.

Mr GROOM - The purport of it was that a majority of the persons affected by an award, and having interests in common, must be in favour of preference being granted. A man has to go into Court ' and make, his application. Before he went into Court at all, what evidence would he have to submit? He would have to submit the evidence of the majority of the persons who were affected by an award. Who are the persons affected by an award ? Are they only the persons who are immediately affected? Who are the persons whose interests are "in common"? Are they the persons who alone are interested in the award? The terms of the provision are uncertain, but still more uncertain is the "opinion of the Court" concerning the majority of the persons affected. No man would care to go into Court until he had the strongest possible evidence - obtained quite possibly by a ballot of the unionists affected, as well as of the nonunionists - in order to get the decision of the Court in favour of preference. When we consider that we are- dealing, not with matters in connexion with some little area under a Factories Act, but with the whole of the vast continent of Australia, what would be the meaning of "opinion of the Court," under a vague and illusive term like that used in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella? Because it must be remembered that it is only a matter of the opinion of the Judge. It is a question as to which there could be no appeal from his decision. It is purely a matter of opinion. If in the Judge's opinion there was a majority, preference might be given. As a rule,' a Judge, seeing this language used in an Act of Parliament, would say - " It is the intention of the Legislature that I must be satisfied in my own mind that there is a majority." That opinion would have to be formed on what kind of evidence? It is quite true that the Judge could act upon any evidence. The good conscience clause comes in there. But no matter whether it was hearsay evidence or written evidence, the Judge would require that it should be very strong indeed, and I am quite clear that he would almost certainly ask for statistics concerning the persons engaged . in the industries affected in the Commonwealth. Imagine the difficulty of getting those statistics concerning all the persons who might be interested in an award in this Commonwealth? The whole thing is impracticable and unworkable.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Thehonorable member assumes that we shall have a noodle of a Judge.

Mr McCay - How does article 1 of the alliance alter the position?

Mr GROOM - The honorable member is much concerned with the alliance, but at present I am not troubling about it.

Mr McCay - We hear about the Bill being made unworkable, because of my amendment, and I say that the alliance would leave the Bill as it stands.

Mr GROOM - Suppose that the alliance did so?

Mr McCay - Honorable members opposite attack us for doing a thing when thev are willing to do the same.

Mr GROOM - The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government took the Bill, as it stood, unworkable as it is, although it contained what he had described as unconstitutional clauses. Yet we find him and his colleagues still sitting there.

Mr Watson - They have swallowed it.

Mr GROOM - No self-respecting Ministry, after such declarations, would sit in office and support a Bill containing such clauses.

Mr McCay - The Court will see to those provisions.

Mr GROOM - If our attitude is not correct, the attitude of honorable members opposite is just the same. But the attitude of the alliance is clearly this - that we are quite prepared -to take the Bill back into Committee, and have a free discussion upon it. The alliance will never object to a free discussion upon any clause in any Bill. The other proposal before the House was as to whether the amendment indicated by the honorable member for Bland should be accepted. I say that that amendment was essentially a judicious and a wise one. It was a wise amendment, for this reason - that it was no mere empirical legislation; it was not an impracticable idea sprung upon the House,' but an amendment based upon the experience of the working of the Arbitration Act in New South Wales. It has proved, in common practice, to work out well. There have been no complaints against it. Mr. Justice Cohen said that there had been some complaints in the newspapers, but they had never come before the Court, and there was no substantial evidence submitted to him as to its unsatisfactorines's. I say, therefore, that it was a workable amendment based on experience, and one which the House might have done the late Prime Minister the courtesy to consider. But it is evident that advantage was taken of the opportunity to " clown " the late Ministry. The present Prime Minister did not move a noconfidence motion, because there was a belief that such a motion, if submitted by him would not- succeed. However, the effect was just the same. The Watson Government went out of office, and we then had brought into being the present Administration. It has been said that our alliance on this side was formed in a holeandcorner sort of way, and without due consideration with our colleagues.

Sir John Forrest - That is so.

Mr GROOM - That is the charge which is made. When the protectionists met as a party,' we were asked whether we would accept a coalition which involved the present Prime Minister as leader, and, as a party, we unanimously decided that no coalition would be satisfactory to us that did not retain the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as leader. Did we mean that, or was it but a foolish statement ? I contend that, as a party, we meant it, and it was our desire that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should retain that position.

Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned gentleman would not accept it.

Mr GROOM - I did accept it. That decision was communicated to the present Prime Minister, and, surely, it was an intimation to that right honorable gentleman that as a party we declined to place ourselves under a freetrade leader. So eager was the present Prime Minister for an alliance that, in reply to that notification,* the tight honorable gentleman said he was prepared to concede the leadership to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Then we met again.

Sir John Forrest - We did not consider that.

Mr GROOM - I have no desire to go into private conversations, or to state what took place in caucus.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It has all come out already.

Mr GROOM - In that connexion, I say that it is a very unfortunate thing that when the members of a political party have met together to deliberate privately on matters of importance, statements should afterwards be made with respect to what took place at their meeting.

Sir John Forrest - Who made them?

Mr GROOM - A great many of us can say that we did not make them. I believe that I am entitled to make use of what has appeared in the press, and by that means it has been made public that we as a party decided to preserve our integrity, and declined to have any coalition or alliance of any description. Then we went into Opposition.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And immediately bolted away from that: decision.

Mr GROOM - And as the honorable member has interjected, certain honorable members bolted away from the decision, and we found honorable members who were pledged to the Protectionist Party openly doing all. they could in the House, and out- 8 u side as well, to assist a free-trade leader. As soon as the Watson Ministry was defeated, the following remarks were made by the present Prime Minister : -

Nothing has given me greater pleasure during the trying time we have gone through, than the gradual but steady growth of the feeling of comradeship and alliance between the members of my own party and those of Mr. Deakin's party.

Mr Watson - What was the date of that?

Mr GROOM - That appeared in the press on the very evening on which the Watson Government was defeated. Those remarks were not made in the House;, but they appear in the form of a press interview' with the right honorable gentleman. That shows kinship and friendship.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is there not friendship between u.s all?

Mr GROOM - I know that some honorable members opposite have shown a great deal of friendship to many of us. We know that subsequent to this the House separated, and honorable members went all over the Commonwealth, but on the Monday following the defeat of the Watson Ministry we found that the right honorable member for Balaclava, who was one of the partypledged never to leave us, had already agreed to help the present Prime Minister to form a Ministry. Shortly after that my very esteemed friend, the honorable member for Gippsland, was also found to be in alliance with the right honorable member for East Sydney, and in two or three days time the whole of the members of the Mini,stry were announced.

Mr Watson - But was not the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in agreement with what was done?

Mr GROOM - The Prime Minister stated that he had' been to see the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and that honorable and learned gentleman would have nothing to do with the formation of the Ministry.

Mr Watson - But he agreed to the other members of his party joining the present Prime Minister.

Mr GROOM - I have stated the way in which the Prime Minister put it, and to do him justice I have quoted from the Argus.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is at the back of the coalition now.

Mr GROOM - Is he? I should prefer the honorable and learned gentleman to say that for himself. I have no desire to express the opinions of any person who U free to express them for himself. We know that the honorable members who sat with us in conference, without consulting the party, and without calling the party together to consider the. serious position which had arisen, absolutely went straight- over to the other side and enrolled themselves under the free-trade banner. Did they do that without any coalition, or without any understanding ?

Mr McLean - Honorable members of the party opposite had left . them before they did that.

Mr GROOM - No; that is not a fact. That is absolutely incorrect.

Sir John Forrest - Practically they had.

Mr McLean - I saw the whole thing before. I consented.

Mr GROOM - What did the honorable gentleman see?

Mr McLean - The account of the meeting of honorable members opposite.

Mr GROOM - I should like to know in what newspaper the honorable gentleman saw it. I can say that I never heard of it. The first I heard of any alliance being proposed or suggested was when we were forced to take some steps by reason of certain honorable members of the party enrolling themselves under the free-trade banner. In view of the deep interests of the people of the Commonwealth involved in the proper exercise of the powers given us under the Constitution, we felt we were bound to come together to resist what promised to be a conservative alliance. When we saw honorable gentlemen taking office contrary to their own agreement, what other course was open to us but to see whether something could not be done to check what was in progress?

Sir John Quick - Why not have called a: meeting of the party ?

Mr GROOM - I say that a meeting of the party was called, and it would have been but a proper proceeding if, before any member of our party took office, he had approached our late leader and suggested to him that the party should meet in order to discuss the situation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How does the honorable and learned member know that that was not done?

Mr GROOM - I know that it was not done, because no such meeting was called

Mr McLean - What about the counterblast - the round-robin?

Mr GROOM - We have been told that there was a round-robin, signed by fourteen members of the party, before a single thing had been done on this side in the way of forming an alliance. Where is that roundrobin? Who were the signatories to it? Who are the fourteen honorable members who put their names to that document.

Mr Kennedy - There is no such document in existence.

Mr GROOM - I am very glad to hear it. It was stated in the Argus that there was such a round-robin, and the Age stated that the honorable member for EdenMonaro had it in his possession. I am gla'd to hear that it does not exist. No one ever found fault with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for lack of constructive capacity.

Mr Austin Chapman - The honorable and learned member is good at destructive work, but he is not game to admit it.

Mr GROOM - My present policy is one of destruction of- the present Ministry, and I think I am justified in it, for the reasons I have given. I regret that a good democrat like my friend the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is not here, where he ought to- be, helping me. However, the position is that there has been clearly expressed by the people of the Commonwealth a belief in democratic legislation. They have expressed the belief that' we should exercise the powers' of the Constitution, in accordance with the democratic policies' which have been announced. I say that the alliance proposes to give effect to that. The parties to the alliance have been drawn together because I believe they have sympathies in common, though there may be some differences of opinion with respect to the means to be adopted to give effect to them. What is the position with honorable members opposite? What is the bond of cohesion between them? They find fault with trieparty on this side because, in their opinion, it has put forward a vague and indefinite agreement. Let us consider what is their position. The Prime Minister has said that there was an agreement drawn up in no secret way, in no cave away down at Queenscliff, but at the residence of the ex-Opposition whip. What' does that agreement contain?

Tt might be said that all parties in Parliament could have Keen invited to unite, so far as their principles would allow, for the purpose, of carrying on the Government. Unfortunately, the party now in office, quite apart from any question relating to its programme, maintains a control of its minority by its majority, and an . antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organizations and decisions which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members on any terms of equality, even on the present exceptional conditions.

We know that part of that is quite incorrect, because we have approached this party

On terms of equality and of mutual recognition of our respective parties, and we have formed an alliance which I believe will be found to be for the good' of the Commonwealth, to be practicable, and, to some extent, permanent. Opposition to that party is the sole connecting bond with honorable members opposite. That is very clear from their agreement -

It is neither desirable nor necessary to make any other question the subject of a binding party agreement outside the Legislative Chambers, in which members should always be, as far as possible, free to deal with proposals on their merits.

There is to be -no cohesion amongst them. The honorable member for Lang is to be still at liberty to advocate his land tax, and to propose that we should heavily tax the farmers in the Richmond district. I hope that when the honorable: member for Richmond sets out on his election campaign he will take the honorable member for Lang with him, to explain to the farmers the virtue of a land tax. Perhaps he will also get the honorable members for Parramatta and New England to assist him.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Or the honorable member for Barrier.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of the honorable member for Canobolas.

Mr GROOM - And when the honorable member for Parramatta goes to address his constituency, and to advocate democratic legislation, he will, no doubt, be attended by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who will stand out strongly for arbitration and conciliation, and who will probably tell the electors that he believes that the general trend now is towards Socialism. On the great question of preferential trade, we may have the two heads

Of the Ministry on the same platform. The honorable member for Gippsland may say " Yes " to those on one side of the platform, while the right honorable member for East Sydney says " No " to those On the other side. The free-traders may be told to get behind this screen, while the protectionists getbehind that, and they will be given anything they ask. Ministers will be able to Say to them, "You can get anything you like, gentlemen. There is nothing vital in our programme. We shall give a land tax to those who believe in it, and industrial arbitration to those who believe in it; and we are prepared to give an iron bonus to the honorable member. for Eden-Monaro, although we do not ourselves advocate anything of the kind." The right honorable member for East Sydney may denounce the proposal, and then say " I have spoken. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will follow me, and will explain the virtues of this proposal." What is the position in which honorable members opposite find themselves under their agreement. They have clearly only one policy at the present time, and that is to get into recess. Then we come to a most important question. The Prime Minister will not condemn Socialism. That would never do. . The right honorable gentleman believes in a modified Socialism; he disagrees with extreme Socialism.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How far does the honorable and learned member go?

Mr GROOM - I intend to explain my position, but at present I am not being attacked - I am attacking. The Prime Minister defines the matter in this way -

His ideal was to use the national power in every conceivable way to advance the happiness and welfare of the whole community, and this second ideal was to leave individual energies and powers of the members of the community as free as they could consistently with proper national legislation. This mistake of the Socialist was that he went to a suicidal extreme, but he did not condemn the Socialist if he would confine his projects within proper limits.

The honorable and learned member for Angas did not go to the socialistic extreme, but confined his Socialism within proper limits. This is an interesting part of the Prime Minister's statement -

As far as any exercise of the power of government or legislation was concerned, he stood for no dogma at all.

It is true he stands for no dogma at all, so far as Government legislation is concerned. We can now, to some extent, understand the right honorable gentleman's "Yes-No" attitude. Referring to the coalition, I should like honorable members who are protectionists, to consider the arrangements which the right honorable gentleman made with the Labour Party, because I think we ought to judge the Prime Minister by his own utterances. Speaking recently in Victoria, he said -

During five years in New South Wales the Labour Party had held him practically in the hollow of their hands, but 'the result was that he had got his Tariff Bill passed by protectionistlabour men. They could always go to him on a deal of that sort. He did not believe in the principles of the caucus, but the direction of their vole had his entire approval.

The right honorable gentleman now condemns the caucus, but when it gave its vote as he wished, he did not.

The Labour Party had turned him out because he had got too slow for them after he had got what he wanted.

I am afraid that as soon as the Prime Minister has got what he has wanted he will find that my protectionist friends on the other side are too slow for him. When you enter into an alliance with a party you act in honour and good faith, and you do not expect to be told after five years' faithful service that you are too slow for them. But, when the Prime Minister goes before his constituents he will warn them of the dangers of Socialism; he will touch the pocket nerve; he will tell them to be careful lest what they have in their pockets should be taken away; he will describe Socialism as meaning the nationalization of all industry, and will refer to the way in which the policy has operated in the States. I wish to mention, as a corrective, a statement made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in Brisbane. The National Liberal Union issued a platform, containing this plank - 5 - " Opposition to all legislation of a dangerous socialistic character." By this phrase is meant opposition to that class of legislation advocated by the Labour Party throughout Australia, which aims at the nationalization of the primary industries, the abolition of the private ownership of property, and the destruction of individual idea.

That was the programme which was opposed to the Deakin Government and the Labour Party. The National Liberal Union said that if they favored anybody they favored the right honorable member for East Sydney. What did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat say with respect to this paragraph? Speaking in Brisbane, on the 7th November- he said -

He saw in another paragraph of the programme what appeared to him to be a misunderstanding of the respective spheres of the Commonwealth ind State Parliaments. The clause he referred 10 suggested opposition (o all legislation of a dangerous socialistic character, and amongst these were included measures relating to the nationalization of industries. Well, over industries the Commonwealth had no control, except fiscally. Then it referred to. measures for the abolition of private ownership - with private ownership the Commonwealth had nothing to do, except when it took .1 man's land and paid him for it for public purposes. And then allusion was made to the- destruction of individual ideas. Well, he did not know that either the State or the Commonwealth could be successful in accomplishing that end if they attempted it, but he did know there was nothing in the Commonwealth charter authorizing the Commonwealth to attempt it.

What is the meaning of all this talk abou! Socialism in this House ? The Labour Party is attacked because its members are Socialists, and yet a member on the opposite side says that, under the Constitution, there is not a single socialistic measure which can be passed. We can pass democratic legislation; we can pass a number of measures which have a socialistic tendency, and which must relate to the carrying on of the public Departments. But we, as a Commonwealth, have no right to go and nationalize the land. These state ments are intended for the purpose of deluding the electors. . Honorable members say they know that under the Constitution we have no power to deal with land.

Mr McLean - Cannot we tax the land to the point of confiscation?

Mr GROOM - Is that Socialism? We, as a Commonwealth, can only acquire land with the consent of the State. We cannot take land except for public purposes. It is ridiculous ito raise these issues. The right honorable member for East . Sydney accused me of a breach of faith in respect of fiscal peace. Now, what was the issue in Queensland? Was it a fiscal issue? I do not intend to give my opinion, but to quote the statement of the Prime Minister as to the issues which were raised, and I do not think that he can find fault with me if I ask him to accept his own version,. He said in the debate on the AddressinReply

In Queensland we saw the great questions, what- _ ever they may be, of national politics in this Commonwealth all swept into the background, whilst one issue, and that alone, was fought, the issue between the classes and the masses.

How did he speak on the fiscal issue? - '

I am not going to enter into a criticism as to which man or which party is to blame for this, but I will say when the free-traders of Queensland never could find room for the fiscal issue, when men like Mr.. Philp, the Premier of that State, a known free-trader, and other free-traders would not organize upon broad national lines of principle, but called meetings for' the purpose of securing ^10,000 to fight an election for a class - such men, although they may pose as men of intelligence, as men of light anc? leading, expose themselves to criticism. And they have obtained their deserts. Whenever a class issue is raised . between the classes and the masses, we need not inquire into the rights of it, because we all know what will be the result. No one sympathizes with men of the classes who raise their own selfish interests in the politics of this country.

What is the issue now before the House? The Prime Minister has condemned freetraders in Queensland for not raising the fiscal issue, and for raising a dispute between the classes and the masses. But when we refer to his programme we find that in many respects it is almost the same as that of the National Liberal Union, which raised the issues in respect of which he spoke. He has opened a war between the classes and the masses. He on that side is leading the classes while we on this side are standing for the masses. It can only have one result, he says here, and that result can only tend to his displacement from power. The last ground on which I condemn the right honorable gentleman is because he has no policy. We are entitled to have' from him a statement with respect to his future actions. What does he ask 11s to do? He asks us to allow him to go into recess for a period of six or seven months - practically at his pleasure. He is seeking to have control of the administration of all these Acts of Parliament which he has condemned. He is asking us to give him power with respect to a great many matters of negotiation. I contend that inasmuch as he was condemned by the electors of the Commonwealth, we should not be justified in allowing the session to close without a protest.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Which Acts does the honorable and learned member refer to?

Mr GROOM - I refer to the Immigration Restriction Act, th; Post and Telegraph Act-, and even to the Electoral Act. What is the policy that the Prime Minister has put before the House? For some weeks he was delivering great speeches declaring to the public what he thought ought to be done. Speaking at the Royal Agricultural Society's luncheon, he made this magnificent statement -

My view is that, having put into the Constitution the most advanced principles of political equality, we can now afford to spend the same talents, energy, and pugnacity upon the great industrial problems of Australia, with which are inseparably bound up all our real solid progress and prosperity.

He was speaking to the farmers, producers, and manufacturers of Australia - to men who look forward to getting some assistance in the building up of the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and what do they get now ? A Trade Marks Act ! That is the way in which he is going to relieve them and to increase the industrial prosperity of the country.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In New South Wales he passed a White Australia Act before the honorable and learned member ever thought about the question.

Mr GROOM - That is an alarming discovery. My honorable friend is so mixed up in the politics of New South Wales, so persistent in bringing them before the House, that I am afraid he thinks he is still there, and perhaps it would be a good thing for the House if he were.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member has been raising them a good deal during this discussion. That is all he has been building upon.

Mr GROOM - All I know is that in New South Wales the Prime Minister passed an educational test, and' that when he came here and thought he could put out the Government on the White Australia policy he abandoned his view, and voted for the honorable member for Bland's amendment, which wiped OUT the test. At that time the right honorable gentleman was " steering from the steerage," as he termed it. He was doing all he could to get control of the Labour Party. He was always reminding his dear friends of that splendid alliance five years ago, and saying how he cherished the friendships which sprang up between them, quite forgetting, however, to mention the fact that ultimately he got too slow for them. In fact, they almost found him so slow that they never trusted him afterwards.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The people always trusted him, returning him by a large majority at each election.

Mr GROOM - In Sydney they did, and it is very consoling to know that a man of his ability can command a majority. Let us see what is the Ministerial policy. First of all, the Prime Minister announced in .the House that preferential trade . was a matter of Ministerial policy. But later on he said he was going to deal with the matter when it was suggested by the Imperial Government. Then the honorable member for Gippsland said that in dealing with the matter they were going to stand by their pledges ; and finally we had a statement by the Prime Minister that if it involved any sacrifice of his fiscal faith he was going to dissolve the Cabinet. That is practically his position. That is as clearly defined an attitude on preferential trade as we could expect to get from the party. Then he adopts the Conciliation and Arbitration' Bill, and charges us with breach of faith and inconsistency. But what is his position as regards conciliation and arbitration? First of all, he voted against preference to unionists. He used some very strong language on the subject -

As I said on the second reading, there is a greater violation done in this Bill to the individual liberties and rights of citizens of a civilized country than I know of in any other legislation in the British Empire.

He was then speaking, not of the modified preference to unionists, but of the principle of preference to unionists. Again, when the question of political unions came up, he said he did not believe in political unions even being entitled to register under the Act. We remember in what scathing terms he denounced political unions. He did not mind if a union were formed for industrial purposes only, and yet we find now that the clause is in the Bill which allows political unions to register, but will not allow them to have a preference. Again, he accepted the provision in regard to the inclusion of State servants. Did honorable members ever see such a " swallowing " policy as this ? Here are three matters which he mentioned as absolutely vital - preference to unionists, which was a piece of legislation practically unknown to the Empire; political unions, which was a gross abuse and attempt to use the judicial machinery for party purposes; and the inclusion ot State servants, which was absolutely unconstitutional. He comes in now, and says he is quite prepared to accept the Bill with all those three provisions. He was very vigorous in opposition, when he was on this side, but now that he is on the other side he says, in effect, " Oh, I am so complaisant that I am prepared to adopt anything you like to put in. So long as you Will allow me to sit here, I shall let you pass anything you want."

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the attitude of other honorable members.

Mr GROOM - That is the attitude now of responsible government under our Constitution ! The Prime Minister says the High Commissioner Bill is to be postponed. He will adopt the proposal for the survey of the Transcontinental Railway, even as proposed by the Labour Government. The Naviga-> tion Bill was introduced by the Labour Government, and referred to a Royal Commission, and, therefore, he will accept the measure. The Papua Bill contains some clauses in respect of non-alienation, which he does not like, and he will accept that too. He will also take the Trade Marks Bill.

He is willing to negotiate under the Seat of Government Act. But in regard to the Iron Bonus Bill, at last his back stiffens, and he is going to be firm. The Government will not take charge of the Bill, but will allow a private member to do so, and when a division is taken Ministers will vote as they think fit. That is the position in this National Parliament, where we have only laid, as it were, the foundation stones of a great edifice. People are waiting expectantly to see on what lines this great Commonwealth is to develop. They ask 'for a policy. For over three years the right honorable gentleman has been criticising the administration of affairs. He has told us that he has a scheme for developing the Commonwealth, that he can set things right, and restore public confidence. Now that he has come into power, what does he do? He has adopted a few of the minor measures introduced by his predecessors, and is willing to swallow anything, so long as he is allowed to stay there. He offers no single piece of original legislation to the people. He says to them, " Parliament has been in session for six months, and has done nothing; therefore let it do nothing more, but go into recess." Who was responsible for displacing the Deakin and Watson Administrations? Was it not the right honorable gentleman who now wishes to do nothing but get into recess? That is his first and only plan. There are other important matters with which I should like to deal, but I feel that the hour is getting late. We have sought from this coalition a justification for its formation, but what justification have we got? Not a single member of it has been able 10 justify it. All that has been done has been to attack the alliance; and particularly the members of it who sit in this corner. Why are we so bitterly attacked? If three or four of us were to transfer our allegiance to the. other side we should be perfectly safe; but because we do not do so we are subjected to all sorts of attacks and ridicule. During the whole debate honorable members opposite have tried to ridicule the terms of the alliance; but we are not ashamed or aft aid of their attacks, which have left us unscathed.

Mr Isaacs - And it is not we who ate afraid.

Mr GROOM - I have been attacked for breaking my pledges to my constituents, though I have not done so. I have all along taken up the position that there should be fiscal peace; but that does not mean the absolute cessation of legislation. In Queensland the great sugar question remains to be dealt with. To show the attitude of some of the Queensland people on that subject, I will read the following extract from the National Liberal programme. Speaking of the sugar bounty, they say -

We do not propose to alter this law at the present time. In view, however, of the fact that the period allotted for the test is too short to enable it to be effectively made, we advocate an extension of the period for the payment of the bonus. If the bonus is not maintained, then the industry will languish, and the employment of white men in the sugar industry, and in other industries dependent upon the production of sugar will be very limited. "

The Act expires on the 1st January, 1907, during the currency of the present Parliament. Will fiscal peace prevent us from dealing with that important question, which strikes at the root of an industry which gives employment to thousands of people, and, according to present indications, appears likely to be one of the greatest and most profitable industries in the Commonwealth? It would be monstrous to say that, because the people have declared that the time of this Parliament shall not be taken up with Tariff details, that important question is not to be dealt with. The sugar bounty is paid out of the excise duty on sugar. Although I believe in a fiscal truce, if it be shown that persons are famishing for. want . of employment, that industries are being sacrificed, and capital is going out of use, I think that Parliament should give such remedy as an investigation into the matter suggests. I state that on the ground of pure humanity, and I do not fear the effect of such action on my constituents. I was elected without opposition, and. did not address a meeting before the election. I promised the then Prime Minister a general support. Beyond that I gave no pledges to my constituents ; but referring to this matter afterwards 1 said -

I would vote for all those duties which would protect existing industries and tend to the development of the magnificent resources of Australia. I spoke on those lines, and voted on those lines, and if the matter comes up again I shall continue to fight on those lines, because I have faith in this Continent. I have faith in the young men and women who are natives of this Continent, as well as in our fathers who are working equally well for the development and advancement of the Continent. Now that we have an instrument of Government which gives us the powers of a nation, it would be wrong of us not to exercise our powers to build up our strength, so that in time of need we can stand by the mother country.

That was a clear and definite statement. I believe that the people of Queensland do not wish the Tariff to be re-opened. The finances of no State have suffered more under Federation than have those of Queensland, and if there were a movement on foot which would bring in more' revenue to the States, the people of Queensland would be glad of it. It is unfortunate that the financial provisions of the Constitution are inextricably interwoven with the finances of the States, and that the present revenue Tariff is every year tending to decrease the Queensland revenue. Last year there was a considerable falling off. and apparently this year Queensland will suffer a further loss of at least £70,000.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The higher the duties, the more Queensland will suffer.

Mr GROOM - The honorable member's leader voted against the tea duty, which, unfortunately for Queensland, was not agreed to. For these reasons, the Commonwealth is restricted in its public works expenditure, because it is afraid that by reducing their revenue it may cause trouble and confusion to the States. But, although a larger revenue would be welcome to Queensland, a continual tinkering with the Tariff, and a perpetual alteration of the incidence of its duties, would undoubtedly cause confusion to the States Treasurers, because they could not properly estimate what was coming to them. The Prime Minister, however, did not accept the proposal for a fiscal peace, an9 now he calls it a fiscal truce, because he knows that a truce is merely a cessation of warfare, and he is ready, when the session is closed, to fight for free-trade again. Already the alliance has done a wonderful amount of conversion. A Select Committee was suggested by this side of the House for the investigation of the operations of the Tariff in regard to such industries as the House might specify, and the proposal was spoken of as a breach of faith. But now those who sit behind the Government are so complacent that they have found a new plank for their platform, and are prepared to give us a Tariff Commission.

Mr Isaacs - And immediate legislation.

Mr GROOM - Honorable members like the honorable member for Laanecoorie are prepared to give immediate relief. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, on one occasion, after he had been made a Minister, suggested the appointment of a Tariff Commission. He thought that it would be a good thing; but that the results would' be a matter for future consideration. It did not, however, become a matter of Ministerial policy until it had been warmly taken up by the people and by the alliance. Then the Ministry thought it was good enough to make it a plank in their platform. This took place after all the talk we had heard about fiscal peace. So far as the alliance is concerned, we have nothing to be ashamed of. It has been suggested that the provision as to immunity from opposition on the part of the Labour Party at the forthcoming election is of a corrupt character. We do not consider it is corrupt, and we do not wish to suggest that the Prime Minister acted corruptly when he signed an agreement by which he undertook to allot four portfolios to members of the Protectionist Party as a condition precedent to the formation of the coalition. I do not suggest that that was a corrupt action on the part of the right honorable gentleman, and I do not think it was fair for him to say, as he did in Sydney, that liberal members of the alliance practically arranged upon a price with the Labour Party.

Mr Poynton - He offered to afford the same immunity to the members of the Labour Party.

Mr GROOM - The terms of the alliance have been published throughout the Commonwealth. We do not consider that we are bound as a party to formulate a policy, but we have indicated our determination to unite our forces against the Free-trade Party. There is a paper bond between the two sections of the alliance, but in addition to that there is a bond of sympathy which. I believe, will tend to good results. I know that we have all suffered from the strife we have gone through, but we can lay the blame for the fact that nothing has been done in the past six months at the door of the Free-trade Party. There has been strife amongst us, it is true, but I believe that-

There shall come from out this noise of strife and groaning

A broader and a juster brotherhood ;

A deep equality of aim, postponing

All selfish seeking to the general good.

Suggest corrections