Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 13 October 1904

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) - It is with a certain . amount of diffidence that I enter upon this debate, and I feel my position somewhat more because of the specially able addresses which were delivered yesterday by those two oratorical giants, the honorable and learned members for Indi and Ballarat I think, however, that on a very important occasion such as this, when a motion involving the fate of the Ministry, with, perhaps, a dissolution and a general election to follow, is under discussion - because I would remind honorable members opposite that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip, and that accidents will occur in the best regulated political families - every honorable member is justified in expressing his views upon the situation. I am -not able to make any such interesting revelations as have come from honorable members on both sides of the Chamber during the debate, because the caucus of the Labour Party is an open meeting compared with the caucuses of the other parties which were held just prior to the assumption of office by the present Ministry. What we have heard, however, is now, tq some extent, ancient history, and after the exhaustive speech of the) honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I do not desire to say anything more on the subject. I think that every honorable member will agree with me that it is a matter of regret that this Chamber has been transformed into a laundry for the washing of the dirty political linen of New South Wales. The honorable member for Lang has told the House that the motion was dictated by hatred of and personal malice to the Prime Minister. Nothing of the sort. I profess to know as much as do other honorable members about the feeling generally in regard to the right honorablegentleman, because I have fraternized with honorable members of all parties, and I have, heard him discussed most freely and candidly by many, but I have never heard an unkind word said of him personally. I do not think that we have any reason to dislike him, though we distrust him politically. We have no faith in his political promises, and we think that his political career justifies us in viewing with a certain amount of suspicion his declarations as to his motives. I admit that he has said uncomplimentary and unkind things of the members of the Labour Party. His reference to the ship being steered from the steerage, although he has subsequently treated it in the lightest manner, was not intended to be complimentary, nor was his statement that, the Labour Party is a party whose members never laboured. He has made other uncomplimentary, and ungenerous remarks about us, both since we have been sitting on the Opposition benches, and when we were on the Ministerial benches and the Ministerial cross-benches; but I do not think that thefacts justified the honorable member for Lang in attributing the present motion of want of confidence to personal animus or hatred, because the right honorable gentleman has said far more unkind, ungenerous, and severe things about many who now belong to. his own party, such as his colleagues, the Ministers for Trade and Customs and Defence, the honorable member for Echuca, and the right honorable member for Swan. Did any one imagine, a few months ago, that the honorable member for Gippsland and the right honorablemember for East Sydney would ever be joined in the unholy bonds of political matrimony by becoming members of the same Cabinet ?

Mr Hutchison - There is bound to be an early divorce.

Mr BAMFORD - No doubt it is coming. We heard them hurling invectives and abuse against each other on many occasions.

Mr McLean - I have differed from the right honorable gentleman ; but I have never, spoken a harsh or unkind word about him.

Mr BAMFORD - What a' pleasing thing it- is to have a short memory. I think that I could refute the honorable member's statement by referring to Hansard,' but I do not propose to do so. Yet,, notwithstanding the close political allianceto which I have referred, I think that it will not be long before one of the contracting parties will find that the other has beeneating biscuits in the nuptial couch. Onlyyesterday the honorable member " for Gippsland was reported in the Argus as-, having expressed an opinion on the fiscal situation which I am certain his leaderwould not indorse.' Consequently, I think that trouble is brewing, and that it W1 not be long before fermentation sets in. The Prime Minister a few days ago, speaking across the table, said that he would be willing to accept the support of any one, even of Old Nick. I should like to know whom he had in hismind when he made that statement. Was it the Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Denison, or the honorable member for Echuca? We do not know, but evidently the .remark was intended to have a special personal application. It would be interesting to know what was in the right honorable gentleman's mind.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Perhaps he meant the honorable member for Herbert.

Mr BAMFORD - But I am not a supporter of the right honorable gentleman, and I am not likely to become one. During the course of this debate a good deal has been said with regard to the unfair tactics adopted by Ministers and their supporters towards the late Government. Their conduct has been characterized as unfair, but some honorable members have claimed that parliamentary practice justified the adoption of any tactics to oust the late Government. I have always held that the methods adopted were unfair. I do not propose to use the strong language that has been used by some other members, but I think that it will be sufficient to describe the treatment to which the late Government was subjected as ungentlemanly and unfair. It has been said that, no matter how the division had resulted, the ultimate effect would have been the same; that if the 48th clause had been recommitted members would have voted as they had done previously upon the amendment proposed by the Minister of Defence, and that the Government, after having declared their intention to resign unless that vote were reversed, would have been compelled to leave the Treasury bench. I contend, however, that the result would have been very different. Although the Prime Minister declined to allow the 48th clause of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to be recommitted, on the ground that that course was unnecessary, he adopted a different attitude in regard to the Papua (British New .Guinea) Bill. When that Bill was being passed through Committee, I will not say with indecent haste, but, certainly, in a hasty manner, I asked the right honorable gentleman whether, in view of the fact that the clauses were being agreed to without sufficient consideration - honorable members not having had time to look up the Bill, or having forgotten what had transpired previously - he would allow any of the clauses to be recommitted. He said " certainly, if honorable members so desire, any of the clauses may be recommitted." Thereby he acknowledged that it was only fair that clauses which had not been sufficiently considered should be again submitted to ' the Committee. Possibly the right honorable gentleman saw his chance in connexion with the motion for the recommittal of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He may have been afraid1 that the office which had previously been almost within his grasp, might again elude him, and he took the opportunity, unfair though it was, to oust the Ministry from office. He recognised that there was a possibility of his not being able to secure a majority upon a straight-out motion of want of confidence. He said that the circumstances under which the vote was taken made no difference, because if he lost the vote of the Chairman of Committees, he would gain the support of the honorable member for Barker. It is to be remembered, however, that in view of the fact that the latter honorable member had not, up to that time, declared how he intended to vote, there was nothing to justify the Prime Minister in arriving at that conclusion. If the Watson Ministry had been beaten fairly in Committee upon the amendment proposed' by the Minister of Defence, the present debate would never have taken place. The late Government would have accepted defeat with a good grace, and there would have been no factious opposition ' to the measures introduced by their successors. The time wasted - and I use the term advisedly - in connexion with this debate, and the possibility of a dissolution to follow would have been avoided. Therefore the results would not have been the same, and the right honorable gentleman's assumption was not justified. I ask the Minister of Defence whether it would not have been better if the late Government had been defeated upon a straight-out issue .instead of being beaten as they were?

Mr McCay - I think they were defeated on a straight-out issue.

Mir. BAMFORD. - Then we differ in opinion. I think the country will agree with me when it is asked to express its view of the matter.

Mr Poynton - And that will come about very soon.

Mr BAMFORD - The honorable and learned member for Bendigo is one of those who hold that the result would have been the same. But I ask him whether he could honestly recommend the Amalgamated Miners' Association to register under the Bill in the form in which it has been sent to .the Senate, embodying, as it does, the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence ?

Sir John Quick - Most decidedly.

Mr Thomas - Does the honorable and learned member think that they will register?

Sir John Quick - Yes, if they honestly want arbitration they will.

Mr BAMFORD - I am quite certain that they will not register, and, further, that no other union will do so.

Sir John Quick - Honorable members opposite are endeavouring ta. persuade them against doing so.

Mr BAMFORD - One of the reasons why we object to the Prime Minister's control of the affairs of the Commonwealth is that we distrust him and his policy. As one of those directly and deeply interested in the maintenance of a White Australia, I hold that that policy is not safe in the hands of the right honorable gentleman. As affording evidence of the soundness of that view, I shall read one or two extracts from his speeches and from newspapers which are evidently of opinion that the right honorable gentleman is, at any rate, "squeezable." It is most unfortunate that the destinies of this Commonwealth should be controlled by a man who is not trusted by the people, whose word is not taken, and who is understood to have no particular political faith.

Mr Wilks - He brings to this House seventeen supporters from New South Wales, where he is best known, and also six supporters from that State in the Senate.

Mr BAMFORD - The honorable member knows very well - better than I do - how that support was obtained. However the right honorable member may be trusted by the people of New South Wales he does not possess the confidence of the people of other parts of the Commonwealth. Just prior to the last Federal election the Prime Minister, in addressing an audience at the Protestant Hall, Sydney, upon the White Australia policy, declared that he was the author of the " White Austral ia " phrase. He made that statement subsequently to the Ministerial declaration of policy by Sir Edmund Barton at Maitland. I do not know the date upon which the meeting was held, but the chair was occupied by the Mayor of Sydney, and those upon the platform included Sir William McMillan, Dr. Cullen, Mr. R. Jones, and a number of others of the same political belief. Upon that occasion t'he right honorable gentleman said -

I would like to say that there is one subject Mr. Barton took up that there can be uo difference of opinion upon - and I feel delighted that the Federal Ministry has taken up every item of the policy which I advocated for years.

Honorable members will notice how firm he is upon the matter. He continued -

I do not quarrel with them for doing it, as it is a grand thing to have your opponents doing your work - (laughter) - and *hat subj'ect is a "White Australia." (Cheers.) When Mr. Bartor talks about a "White Australia," may I say that I had the honour of inventing that expression some years ago? (Loud cheers.)

That statement was subsequently contradicted by the late Mr. W. H. Groom, who was an honoured member of this Chamber, and who affirmed that the author of the expression a "White Australia" was the late Mr. John Murtagh Macrossan.

The great leaders of the Free-trade Party have held to it, and it has been the watchword of responsible politicians who have carried out legislation in New South Wales on its lines when they passed the Chinese Restriction Act, which ileal t with the coloured races of the world. (Cheers.) So on that subject we are delighted to find Mr. Barton true to liberal traditions.

These are the utterances of the right honorable gentleman who stands here and condemns alien restriction.


Mr BAMFORD - He has publicly declared that he intends to repeal certain sections of the Immigration Restriction Act.

Mr Lonsdale - What are the sections?

Mr BAMFORD - I repeat that he has announced his intention of repealing certain provisions in that Act which deal with the coloured races of the world. He does not confine his declaration to the exclusion of Chinese.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why, in New South Wales in 1896 he passed a law for the exclusion of aliens. He was the first man in Australia to take action in that direction.

Mr BAMFORD - That is exactly what I am saying. Yet he now repudiates his own action. That is what the present Prime Minister said in Sydney just .prior to the first elections for this Parliament. Honorable members will observe what a determined attitude he assumed upon the question. There were no " ifs " or " buts " in .his speech then. He was emphatic upon the question of a White Australia.


Mr BAMFORD - I shall show presently whether that is so.

Mr Thomas - Then he has held to one opinion for a long time.

Sir William Lyne - It: was the late Sir Henry Parkes who introduced the Chinese Restriction Act.

Mr BAMFORD - Shortly after having delivered the speech from which I have quoted, the right honorable gentleman visited Toowoomba. Mark the different opinion which he developed immediately he passed the Queensland border. Speaking at Toowoomba in connexion with this question, the late Mr. W. H. Groom said -

Now, Mr. Barton spoke at Maitland of a "White Australia." When Mr. Reid replied to him at Sydney, he stated that he was very glad to see that Mr. Barton had taken up the liberal traditions of ten years ago, and had adopted his (Mr. Reid's) phrase, " A White Australia." It was useful sometimes for an outsider whose memory was not altogether treacherous, to give a few facts from history. Now, long before Mr. Reid or Mr. Barton thought of entering public life, the words "White Australia" were used in the Queensland Parliament, and that by no less a person than the late Hon. John Macrossan.

That quotation has no particular reference to the subject at issue } it merely goes to show that other persons laid claim to being the author of the expression " White Australia." In order that there may be no dispute as to the context, I propose to quote in full an extract from the report of the right honorable gentleman's speech at Toowoomba on 16th March, 1901, bearing upon this question. He said -

Now, he supposed that some of them would be waiting for his views on the coloured labour question. He had always been one of the strongest advocates for what is called a White Australia, and, viewing the danger to be apprehended from the nearness to Australia of the native lands of many undesirable aliens - and especially this part of Australia - he looked upon a White Australia as a prime national necessity.

There is no ambiguity about that statement. The report continues -

He had, therefore, always taken up a position to legislate in that direction. He understood that Queensland had now an increasing number of Chinese and Japanese on the northern coasts, and, although their number was perhaps not very great, yet, if they left a hole in the dyke, the little trickle of to-day might become the flood of to-morrow.

All these sentiments I can thoroughly indorse. The right honorable gentleman proceeded -

Therefore, the necessity was apparent for a rigid policy of restriction to coloured aliens throughout Australia.

That was the " yes " ; now we come to the wobble -

However, since he had come to Queensland he had been treated with some figures, which, he must say, fairly astounded him. It had been stated to him that there were seven millions sterling invested in the plantations which were worked by kanakas. He confessed that he scarcely credited the statement ; he could not believe it to be true. But he would tell them what he was determined to do. He had been asked by some men, whom he respected, to go and study this thing for himself. Well, he thought it was the least that he could do. He would not at all conceal the strong views he held on the question, but he would £0 and study this problem for himself, and he hoped to go next April. (Applause.)

Evidently, as soon as he reached Queensland, some of those interested in the sugar industry in the north of that State interviewed him, and pointed out- the sum of money which was invested in it. He at once put upon one side his desire for a White Australia - put aside his humanitarian principles - and came to the conclusion that he mus[ make an investigation. Consequently he wobbled. He said -

Let them just look at the beautiful way in which Mr. Barton said nothing on a subject - (laughter) - of this kind. He told the meeting that " The Federal Government would approach and secure the abolition of the kanaka traffic by just and wise legislation without any undue delay." That sounded just beautiful. (Laughter.)

It sounded beautiful, and was beautiful. In that particular instance, at any rate, the Barton Government kept its word. He continued -

Well, lie would say, "ditto." But he would not think much of their intelligence if they were satisfied with a statement like that. (Laughter and applause.) They knew he held strong views on the subject, but the -least thing a responsible man in Australia could do before he gave his final decision about it, was to go and study the problem for himself. He hoped to go to the canefields in the north, as he said - and he hoped to go further north than Bundaberg. He intended to go right through the bulk of the sugar plantations.

Which, by the way, he never did. Finding after this Parliament assembled that the Queensland representatives were in hearty sympathy with the White Australia policy upon which he had expressed such decided opinions, he found it convenient to assume a strong attitude upon it, and' accordingly supported the policy initiated by the Barton Administration, which was afterwards carried into law. I now wish to show the opinion which is held by the people of Australia regarding the right honorable gentleman - a point upon which I was contradicted just now by the honorable member for Dalley. They believe that the right honorable gentleman's professions are dictated more by the exigencies of the moment than by any denned opinions which he holds. They regard him as insincere - as one who, whenever he finds it convenient to alter his views, is ready to do so. altogether oblivious of anything which he may have previously uttered to the contrary. In this connexion I desire to quote from a newspaper which is published in one of the sugar districts of Northern Queensland - I refer to the Mackay Chronicle of 30th September of the present year. That issue of the journal in question contains a report of the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, at which a letter was read by its president from the Townsville Chamber of Commerce as follows: -

In view of thelate utterances of the Federal Prime Minister on the subject of the black labour conditions inserted in the Australian mail contract, it is thought that he, and his Government, may be more disposed than their predecessors to listen to representations from tropical Queensland on the subject of the continuance of South Sea Island labour in connexion with the sugar industry, and with this idea in view, this Chamber is endeavouring to arrange for a conference here of representatives from the various sugar districts in the tropics. I therefore approach you with a request to arrange for some one or more representative men to come here and discuss the position, and assist in petitioning the Federal Government for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into and report upon the future of the sugar industry.

It is significant that the right honorable gentleman had scarcely been comfortably seated in office before these people came to the conclusion that he was- the man for their ticket, that he was the individual whom it was possible to squeeze in their own interests, and that therefore they should approach him at once, with a view to securing an alteration of the White Australia Legislation.

Mr Mcwilliams - The honorable member would not be afraid of a Royal Commission ?

Mr BAMFORD - Not at all; I never was afraid of any commission of inquiry. But at the time the Kanaka Bill was being discussed and a Royal Commission was proposed, I recognised that the proposal was only intended to delay legislation.

Mr Mcwilliams - But now that . there is legislation, the honorable member is not afraid of a Royal Commission?

Mr BAMFORD - I am not, because, on this as on the Tariff question, I feel sure that we on this side have nothing to fear from the finding of a Royal Commission. A man who opposes the appointment of a Royal Commission from the fear of light being thrown upon a subject takes up an unjustifiable position. In view of such opinions as I have indicated, it is not in the highest interests of the Commonwealth, or to the credit of the Prime Minister himself, that he should retain office. I now wish to say a few words in regard to the attitude taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. After Parliament met, the honorable and learned member, both in this House and at many places outside, expressed the opinion that responsible government must be restored - that it was highly advisable that parties in the House should be reduced to two. There was a great deal of scheming and intriguing, in order to bring about that desired result ; but, after all the underground engineering - after all the conclaves, caucuses., and secret meetings in a cave by the sea-side - we have not two parties, but five parties. There are two parties on the Government side of the House, and two parties on this side, and the honorable member for Wilmot holds the balance of power. In past times members who have since transplanted themselves to the benches opposite, used to complain, in season and out of season, of a party of sixteenmen who sat in the corners and held the balance of power. At the present time, however, those honorable members have not a word to say against the one man who now strides the political fulcrum and determines which side shall go down. The position which has been arrived at . by the machinations of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat must be extremely gratifying to that gentleman. After much trouble and waste of good breath in his efforts to establish what he calls responsible government - though for my part I entirely fail to see any particular virtue in two parties - he has succeeded in establishing five parties instead of three. The honorable and learned (member, especially in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, takes up what., in my opinion,' is a most Quixotic attitude, and. his Sancho Panza is the right honorable and learned member for Balaclava. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat took up a most decided position on that clause of the Arbitration Bill which provided for the inclusion of public servants. The Bill, as we know, has already wrecked two Ministries, and it is very likely indeed that it will wreck another.

Mr McCay - Let us hope not !

Mr BAMFORD - I am not prophetic, but there is something in the atmosphere which compels me to conjecture that that Bill may wreck another Government - whether the present Government, or one to follow, I do not know.

Mr McCay - The honorable member is looking a long way ahead !

Mr BAMFORD - I hope the honorable and learned member for Corinella does not think I am looking a long way ahead, because quite the reverse is the fact.

Mr Wilks - The honorable member is quite a Jeremiah !

Mr BAMFORD - I am looking at the immediate future. The previous Ministry was wrecked over this particular Bill ; and when speaking on the motion of the honorable member for Wide Bay to include public servants, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat on the 19th April spoke as follows : -

I am not addressing the High Court, a Court of Appeal, or a Court of first instance. I am addressing a House of Parliament, which, though it contains a number of professional men, approaches these questions on grounds which include the legal and the constitutional, but which also embrace political considerations. Consequently, I have no complaint to offer, because the honorable member who moved this amendment thought fit to avoid what really will be the crux of this question - the strictly legal and constitutional issue - which must certainly be raised. I regard that issue as of immense importance; I regard the principle embodied in this amendment as lying at the very foundation of our Federal form of Government; if that be destroyed, in my opinion it will bring to inevitable wreck and ruin, the whole superstructure, so far as it is Federal.

Those statements are of the most decided character. The honorable and learned member, without any hesitation or qualification, expressed the opinion that the inclusion of public servants under the operation of the Arbitration Bill would wreck the Feder:il structure. The honorable and learned member went so far in his opposition that he resigned office and wrecked his Ministry ; he at the same time has practically wrecked the party which followed him, and has divided the protectionists into two parties in this House. One section of the protectionists have no cohesion,, though I am pleased to say that on this side of the House they are a solid little body : and every credit 'must be given to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for the faithful manner in which he has upheld the flag. After sacrificing himself and his Ministry, and splitting up his party in such a way as to prevent its being reunited for some considerable time, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat came into the Chamber and swallowed the whole Bill at one gulp. I do not know by what motives the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was actuated, but he allowed the third reading of the Bill to pass without one word of protest against the inclusion of public servants. The honorable and learned member's attitude is most inconsistent - his attitude on this question has throughout been most Quixotic.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He acted just as did the alliance.

Mr BAMFORD - The honorable member for Parramatta, is welcome to his opinion, but I contend that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was not justified in speaking as he did last night. After the determined attitude he assumed, he should certainly have attempted to defeat the Bill on the third reading.

Mr Mcwilliams - A man cannot always be fighting.

Mr BAMFORD - A man is sent here to fight for his principles all the time, and not to haul down his flag immediately he suffers one defeat.

Mr Wilks - Why did the Labour Partyaccept the Bill when it was mutilated?

Mr BAMFORD - We did not accept the Bill ; we washed our hands of all responsibility. We refused to accept it. We hold that the Bill is of no substantial use, and are quite convinced that in its present form it can never come into practical operation. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was addressing himself to this question last night, and spoke of the communications which had passed between himself and the Labour Party regarding a possible alliance, he did not tell the House what was the real objection to an alliance between two parties from our point of view. At one time there was every probability of an alliance being effected. But the one point upon which the two parties did not agree was the inclusion of the States servants under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. If the honorable and learned member had then accepted the support of the only friends he ever had in this Parliament, apart from his own immediate fol- lowers - the Labour Party - he might have been in office at this time, and the business of the session would have been concluded. I daresay that wiser counsels would have prevailed if he had realized what was likely to follow from his course of action. The only difference between him and the Labour Party at that time was what I have explained. He has since accepted the Bill containing the amendment upon which we insisted. If he had accepted our view at the time there would have been a coalition, which would have been for the benefit of this Parliament and of the Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite are continually twitting us that we do not say anything about the alliance which has been formed. For my own part, I am in hearty accord with the alliance, thinking that the results which may accrue from it will be of the utmost value to us as a party, and to the Commonwealth as a whole.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Tom Mann says that the Labour Party are simply smoothing the way.

Mr.BAMFORD. - I have a high respect for Mr. Mann, but he does not know everything. Honorable member s who sit on this side of the House are bound together by ties of homogeneity of political principles. There is very little difference in matters of opinion between the Labour Party and those whom I may describe as the sound, solid, wholesome Protectionist Party. But there aie some remarkable differences between honorable members opposite. Take, for instance, the honorable member for Dalley and the honorable member for Grampians. Fancy any political bond existing between them ! Again, is there anything in common between the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Wentworth? Throughout the ranks of honorable members opposite there are similar gulfs dividing member from member. No differences of that sort divide us on this side of the House.

Mr Mcwilliams - What about the tariff ?

Mr BAMFORD - The statement made the other day by the honorable member for Maranoa clearly indicates the position of the Opposition party in reference to the tariff. We are willing to listen to reason. Indeed, there is only one honorable member in the whole Chamber who holds what may be described as positive fiscal opinions, and who makes rabid utterances concerning them. I allude to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. Even he, according to his latest utterances, is willing to listen to reason on the subject. The greatest credit is due to the Prime Minister's engineering abilities for having bridged the chasm between the sections of honorable members opposite even by means of such a temporary and flimsy bridge as he has erected. His engineering instincts have been taxed to the utmost. But the bridge is not likely to last long. As soon as any stress comes upon it down it will go. Much has been said regarding the caucuses of the Labour Party. The honorable merr.ber for Mernda, some days ago, repudiated the idea that caucuses were held by his party. He said, " Oh, no ; nothing of the sort. We merely hold some party meet < ings." The word caucus has been in use for a great many years. It was used before I was born. I have a very old dictionary at home which says that a caucus is " a meeting for party or political purposes." It does not matter how the honorable member for Mernda interprets the word, the fact remains that a meeting of a party in politics is evidently, according to recognised authorities, a caucus. It has been said that the caucus exerts so much pressure on us that we have to bow to it. Let me read an extract from the Melbourne Herald of 28th June of this year. It refers to the candidature of Mr. Beazley for the speakership of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It will be remembered that there was considerable discussion upon the subject, Mr. Beazley, the former Speaker, having been rejected, and another gentleman elected to the position. I refer to the incident to show the pressure that is brought to bear in other parties besides the Labour Party. The Herald paragraph says -

Ministerialists who, in caucus, voted against the principle of spoils to the victors, state openlv that they regret that they have, in loyalty to their party, to vote against Mr. Beazley. If their hands were free they would support him, as he had done nothing to merit being thrust aside. One Ministerialist, it is said, did not sleep for two nights after the decision of the caucus, because he thought he would be going against what his conscience dictated in voting against Mr. Beazley.

Another matter to which the honorable member referred was the influence of the machine. He described the machine as something so relentless that every cog, pivot, and lever in its construction was there for the express purpose of crushing the initiative and the individuality out of every member belonging to this party. The organization, or the machine, is, on the contrary, so constituted as to merit the approbation of every man in Australia. At stated intervals a conference is held in one of the States, at which delegates from every one of the labour unions are entitled to be present. It is practically a parliament. It is open to the press and the public, and all its proceedings are conducted in the light of day. Persons who may subsequently become members of Parliament, and persons who are at the time members of Parliament, may be present at these conferences, and they have an opportunity of deciding for themselves what the machine is to be, by which, it is said, they are subsequently to be crushed. Various resolutions are carried by these conferences, often after very long and sometimes heated discussions. These subsequently become the platform of the party.

Mr Mcwilliams - The conferences select candidates.

Mr BAMFORD - No; it is the local organizations that select the candidates. Though a great deal has been said about the Trades Hall Councils in this connexion, they do not frame any policy whatever, and have nothing whatever to do with the framing of the policy of the party. It is framed at these conferences, at which, as I say, delegates from every labour union are entitled to be present, if the unions desire to be represented.

Mr Mcwilliams - And honorable members have to support the programme approved at a conference.

Mr BAMFORD - We have to support a programme which, as I have shown, many of us may have been instrumental in framing. I wish to compare " the machine," as it has been called, with the organization which supports honorable members opposite. Whilst we have an organization constituted as I have said, and carrying on its proceedings in such a public way, the organization supporting honorable members opposite is a secret organization of, perhaps, one ot two persons meeting in an editorial sanctum. Honorable members opposite, and especially those coming from New South Wales, dare not brave the opposition of the press, and they cannot call their political souls their own.

An Honorable Member. - That is the free-trade section, not the labour section.

Mr BAMFORD - Of course I refer to the free-trade section.

Mr Wilks - They would all " dare to be Daniels" if they wished.

Mr BAMFORD - Then, evidently, they do not wish to be. Not one of them dares to act in opposition to the dictates of the New South Wales press.

Mr Poynton - Especially if it has a vellow cover.

Mr BAMFORD - No, I do not say that. I make no reference to sectarian matters. The influence of the press is felt not only in New South Wales, but also in Victoria. I have here an extract from the Argus of 18th March last, which, in my opinion, is very applicable to the present situation, and which shows the influence exerted by the press, not only upon the members of political parties, but even upon persons in a higher sphere of life. The extract is from a report of a speech by the Chief Justice of Victoria, which was made evidently in reply to some press criticisms upon the delays of the law. The matter is referred to in this way -

The Chief Justice took the opportunity yesterday afternoon of replying to criticisms that have appeared in certain quarters on the work of the Judges in the Courts. The usual hour for adjourning had passed, but his Honor intimated his intention of continuing the case before him.

In reply to an observation of counsel, that late sittings led to inconvenience to clients,

The Chief Justice said that a good deal had been said by a section of the press as to the way in which the work of the Courts was being attended to. The press, he thought, said a good deal about things which they knew nothing of, and, in regard to the conduct of legal business, the press did not know what it was talking about. But, as nobody said anything to the contrary, hi: thought it a Judge's duty to keep on sitting, even to the inconvenience of others.

Suggest corrections