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Thursday, 13 October 1904


Mr SPEAKER - Does the honorable member think this has anything to do with the no-confidence motion ?


Mr BAMFORD - Yes, sir; I say that honorable members opposite are influenced by the press, and I give this as an illustration of the way in which the influence of the press is exerted. The Chief Justice further said -

The hours of sitting of the Courts had been arranged by the Judges so as to be suitable, as they thought, for the public convenience, and for the convenience of counsel and solicitors, who were the public's agents. The business of the Courts could not go on like a machine, and yet it should not be supposed that the Judges simply consulted their own ease and convenience. Speaking for himself, he would, while he was able, sit as long as necessary. He knew all about the difficulties that counsel experienced in being unable to make appointments with their clients, and he knew absolutely all about the work that had to be done outside of the Court, and that, if counsel and solicitors had not the time to arrange the work that had to be done outside the Courts, the business of the Courts would be strung out, and time wasted, and the public would complain.

One of the counsel at the table here interjected, "No one takes any notice of the press.''

The Chief Justice (with warmth). - That is one of the evils of these times. Every one says that no one takes any notice of the press, and yet e\ery one does take' notice of it, and says what the press says. Statements have been made bv a section of the press, in an outrageously unfair and grossly offensive manner, as to the' way in which the business of the Courts is attended to by the Judges, and I am determined that they shall have no possible ground for saving such things of me at any rate.

These are the remarks of the Chief Justice of an important State like Victoria.

They were made, not at a smoke concert, or at any festive function, but from his seat on the Bench, and we are accustomed to look upon remarks made from the Bench as entitled to the greatest possible weight and consideration. Chief Justice Madden in these remarks acknowledges that to do as the press dictates would inconvenience the public, solicitors, and counsel, who are the agents of the public, and would cause a waste of time, and yet he deliberately obeys the dictates of the press. This should conclusively demonstrate that the press really exerts the influence of which I speak. I ' submit that honorable members on the other side are amenable to that influence, and that, when they speak of the machine regulating the conduct of honorable members on this side, they forget that the machine which regulates their conduct is far more drastic in its operations, is more secret in every way, and arrives at its conclusions in a manner which is not conducive to the best interests of the people, and which certainly reflects no credit upon those who have to bow to its decision. The attitude taken up here the other day by the honorable member for Perth is a most complete refutation of the argument that the machine is relentless in its operations. He showed most conclusively quite the reverse. His complaint was that the organizations were not sufficiently powerful, that whilst he was willing to bow to the dictates of the organizations, other members of the party declined to do so. I submit that in the face of that fact the assertion made by honorable members opposite, that we are in the grip of a machine from which there is no escape, is totally unfounded. When the Prime Minister was discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill he made a statement regarding the number of men who were outside the organizations, and who would be influenced by a decision given in favour of a few persons, thereby creating minority rule. I forget the date on which he made that statement, but I know that on more than one occasion he has said that the majority would be subject to the dictates of the minority. I have obtained some figures which prove directly the contrary. The figures have been supplied by Mr. A. B. Spence, Secretary of the New South Wales Breadcarters' Union, by whom they were taken from the Statistical Register of New South Wales for 1903.


Mr McWilliams - Has the honorable member the statistics for all Australia?


Mr BAMFORD - No; only the figures which Mr. Coghlan has given for New South Wales, to which the Prime Minister particularly referred as being the most populous State, and having the largest number of workers. I did not attempt to get the figures in regard to other States.

The actual adult workers of the State number 423,592, ranging from the age of 17½ years to 65 years, and in order to classify these workers, and find out how many of them are unionists, and how many are not unionists who might, should, or could be, I must give the figures of the professions, trades, and callings, which, under present circumstances, it is almost impossible to bring under the influences of the Arbitration Act.

 


Mr Wilson - Are they all in unions ?


Mr BAMFORD - No; these are the persons who cannot become unionists under ordinary circumstances, and have to be deducted from the total number of workers in the State between the age of 17½ years and' the age of 65 years.


Mr Wilson - Has the honorable member got the figures for the Female Cooks' Union ?


Mr BAMFORD - These figures do not apply to unions at all.


Mr Batchelor - Has the honorable member got the figures for the Doctors' Union ?


Mr BAMFORD - Even the figures for the medical profession are not mentioned in this work.


Mr Mcwilliams - If the majority of the workers are in the unions interested why does the honorable member object to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella?


Mr BAMFORD - We object to the amendment because we consider that it would be impracticable in its operation.


Mr McCay - The honorable member is mistaken.


Mr BAMFORD - Events will, I think, prove conclusively that we are right.


Mr McCay - Let us await the event.


Mr Mcwilliams - The honorable member will have to make out a much stronger case than that against the amendment.


Mr BAMFORD

If you take 301,660 from 423,592, it leaves 121,932 persons to be divided amongst the different trades and callings throughout our State, and of that number about 75,000 have their names on the rolls of the different unions. Now, should you deduct 75,000 from 121,932, it leaves Mr. G. H. Reid and his verifier the grand total of 46,932, in proof of the statement that members of unions are only one-sixth of the wage-earners. I have not the time to classify the 46.932. Sufficient for me to say they are spread over the whole of the State, and take in hotel-keepers, watchmakers and jewellers, cabmen, market gardeners, orchardists, nightmen, Chinamen, chemists, and others.

So that the Prime Minister, in making the statement to which I have referred, was not speaking by the card. I propose now to make a few remarks concerning the Tariff. In the first place, I wish to define my own position. On the first occasion I addressed the House I described myself as a fiscal atheist. I am no longer a fiscal atheist. I am a convert I have come down heavily on the protectionist side of the fence. I expect that the party to which I belong will be compelled to come off the fence before very long, not individually, but collectively. I feel that it will not be left to its members to say what they are going to do. I believe that they will not be allowed much longer to straddle the fence in regard to the fiscal question any more than in regard to any other question. In my opinion they will have to take a decided attitude. Labour members will be pointedly asked by the people of this continent to say whether they are protectionists or freetraders, and they willhave to answer yea or nay. I wish to refer to the attitude which has been taken up by honorable members on the opposite side! concerning what they call fiscal peace. It is all very well for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to say that he went to the country on the policy of fiscal peace, that he told the people that it would be inadvisable to disturb the Tariff for some time, because the commercial community desired fiscal peace for another year or two. But for the honorable and learned meinber to say that the electors indorsed that declaration of policy is to say what is not correct. How does he know that, if he had had the courage to ask them to vote for protection, they would not have done so ? If he had gone to the country with a protectionist policy, he would probably have come back with as strong a following as he obtained in consequence of his declaration for fiscal peace.


Mr Tudor - That is so. His party lost more than anv other at the elections.


Mr BAMFORD - Yes, owing, no doubt, to his vacillation on the fiscal question. The result might have been different had he, like the right honorable member for East Sydney, nailed his flag to the mash Then, instead of having followers of the shandygaff order in regard to fiscalism - and I admit that that was once -my position - he would have been supported by straight-out protectionists. The right honorable member for East Sydney went to the . country under the flag of free-trade, and was beaten. But the curious thing is that the man who was returned with a majority has now entered into a coalition with his defeated enemy. That seems to me to be a most cowardly action. The free-trader is at work all the time. The flag of truce may be flying, but be is organizing his forces in Victoria and in New South Wales, so that he can recommence the fight as soon as opportunity offers. What would be said of a general 'who allowed his country to be raided, and his supplies to be cut off. under a flag of truce? Yet. although the Victorian industries are said to be languishing under the Tariff, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is content to sit quietly under a flag of truce. The honorable member for Gippsland is in no better position. Although he is in the forefront of the protectionist movement, he, too, is content to sit quietly under a flag of truce while the enemy is knocking at the gates.


Mr McLean - Does not the honorable member believe in keeping election pledges ? I pledged myself to support fiscal peace.


Mr BAMFORD - That is a most Christian policy. If any one smote the honorable member on the cheek, I suppose he would turn the other to the smiter ? In my opinion, if the protectionists had had the courage to ask the country to vote for protection, they would have done as well as they have done by their declaration for fiscal peace. I cannot understand the honorable member's reference to the breaking of pledges, when I know that in other instances election pledges have not been kept.


Mr McLean - Honorable members opposite have a very convenient doctrine; they can absolve themselves from their election pledges.


Mr BAMFORD - The Labour Party is more true to its pledges than is any other party in politics.


Mr McCay - The honorable member, if he thinks that, should read the articles on the alliance in the Tocsin.


Mr BAMFORD - The Labour Party in forming this alliance broke no pledge.


Mr Kennedy - The Labour. Party is the only Simon Pure in politics.


Mr BAMFORD - I take that as a compliment. It seems to me extraordinary for protectionists to declare for fiscal peace when native industries are being destroyed. The right honorable member for East Sydney, during the debates on the "Tariff, tore a passion to tatters in his endeavour to prove to the people of this continent that protection is an absolute curse to them. He spoke of the fetters which cruelly torture the fair limbs of young Australia. Now, however, he is taking a different position. He does not know that there are any fetters, and is willing to appoint a Commission to see if they exist. Both the members of the alliance and the members of the coalition have devoted some attention to the question of an iron bonus, and the Prime Minister has consented to allow the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to move in the matter. He has promised, I believe, to give him a week for its discussion. But why has he not the courage of his opinions in regard to it? He has expressed the opinion that it is desirable to grant a bonus to establish the iron industry ; but now that he has an opportunity to do so, he shirks the question, and leaves it to a private member. As the matter particularly interests the honorable member for Parramatta, I ask him if he can tell me why the Prime Minister has done this?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not in his confidence.


Mr BAMFORD - Theoretically the right honorable gentleman is opposed to bonuses and bounties ; but he has expressed himself in favour of the granting of a bonus for the production of iron. Let me read what he is reported to have said on this question -

The Minister of Trade and Customs was simply immense upon a policy which he hopes to introduce at some future date in reference to the iron industry. - I have always been one who would like to. see the iron industry firmly established, but my method of effecting this would be by giving' it direct encouragement from the national exchequer. My reason for so doing would be that, as it is a national industry, the nation should pay the expense of encouraging it. The man who uses the iron ought not to be compelled to do that. A national benefit should be paid for out of the national funds. Why should not the whole community pay this bonus to the iron industry if the establishment of that industry confers a national benefit? Why should the man who is encouraging the industry, and who is buying the material, be the only person to pay for this national advantage? The' Government proposal puts the burden upon the wrong shoulders. That is one of the radical fallacies of a policy of protection. A national advantage should be paid for out of the national exchequer, and not out of the pockets of the particular individual who happens to encourage the production of a particular article. Such an individual is encouraging trade. He is buying what others produce. Why should he be the only man to bear the burden?

The right honorable gentleman said a great deal more in the same strain, but T do not propose to trouble the House further bv quoting from his speech. I think that what I have read is sufficient to show conclusively that, despite all the Prime Minister may have said to the contrary, he is in favour of granting bonuses for the encouragement of the iron industry. Although so much contumely has been heaped upon the leader of the Opposition for having suggested that we should nationalize the tobacco industry, the Prime Minister has himself confessed that a great deal of money is annually being sent away from Australia to enrich the American firm which controls that branch of enterprise amongst us. Speaking upon the motion of censure moved by himself on 15th October, 1901, he said -

The effect of the Government proposal will be practically to kill the importation of cigarettes, and about ^30,000 will probably be lost to the revenue in the year. We must remember that persons are making enormous fortunes out of this industry as it is, and that one-half of the sum which that big company of Cameron's draws - I am afraid to mention the amount, so enormous is it - goes straight away to New York every year. Half the capital is in the hands of Mr. R. W. Cameron, of New York; he takes an enormous sum out of Australia every year, and it is calculated that on these proposals, as to tobacco especially, his enormous revenue from Australia will be doubled.

I ask why the Prime Minister should, under these" circumstances, take exception to the proposal of the leader of the Opposition. Should he not as a patriot endeavour to keep that money in the country rather than permit it to be sent abroad ? I desire to read a passage from an article published in Life of January last, which will show the sort of "stuff" - I can characterize it in no other way - which the Prime Minister doles out to the people of New South Wales upon the subject of free-trade. In the journal to which I refer appears an article which forms one of a series entitled " How it is done." The right honorable gentleman, there points out that humour has a certain value in enabling a speaker to point an argument, and .as an illustration of how humourous illustrations "catch on," he relates the following story : -

Some of the people whom I am addressing have families, or, at any rate, they know of families in which there is a member who never seems to be able to keep any employment he gets, but generally manages to live on his friends. Well, one of these gentlemen heard a protectionist orator one night dilating upon the benefits of protection. When he came home, he said to his brother, with whom he was living, and who was a very successful tradesman : - " I say, Bill, things will be all right now, I have got something to do. I am going to start a colonial industry. I am going to make the boots for you, and the wife, and the children. I am not used to it yet, and you mustn't expect them to fit as well as the other fellow's; and you will have to pay me more. But you see, Bill, the beauty of it is we will keep the money in the family." But Bill happened to have heard a free-trade orator, and he saw through the fallacy, so he said - " Well, Tom, don't you think the money will be kept in the family just as well if I keep it in my own pocket?"

This is the drivelling idiocy to which the people of New South Wales are treated from the free-trade platform. The Prime Minister, who has occupied a prominent position in New South Wales politics for many years past, confesses that he has talked utter rubbish to the people. He said, in the first place, that the man who offered to make the boots was being kept by his brother. Presumably his brother would have to keep him, whether he worked or not. In the second place, it is represented that the boots would cost more than they would if they were otherwise supplied, but no evidence is adduced to show that they would be more expensive or of less value than boots made by others. The greatest fallacy of all, however, is contained in the statement that " Bill " intended to keep the money in his own pocket. Of course, if he did so, he would have to go barefooted. That is the kind of "stuff " which the people of New South Wales are content to swallow from the right honorable gentleman.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They are a poor lot of folks in New South Wales.


Mr BAMFORD - They are, if they are gulled by such trash as that. I shall conclude by making a suggestion in all seriousness. I frankly confess that I am not hankering after a dissolution, and I admit, further, that I do not see any positive necessity for going to the country., even though the Government may be defeated. But a short time has elapsed since the last election, and I believe that the public has confidence in the House, as a whole. I do not believe that any honorable member really desires a dissolution - not even the Minister of Defence.


Mr McCay - I should not mind it very much, although I should prefer to do without, it.


Mr BAMFORD - If the Minister desires an election, I understand that the challenge of the honorable member for Melbourne is still open. I cannot understand how the Ministry can retain office under the humiliating circumstances in which they find themselves placed. The honorable member for Wilmot expressed his utter contempt for the Government, showed that he despised them, and almost spat upon them, and yet the Prime Minister is willing to accept his support, and retain office. So envenomed was the honorable member, that he described the Prime Minister as Fatima. The right honorable gentleman is always quoting the examples of Gladstone, Disraelli, Lord Salisburyand Mr. Balfour, and what has been done in the mother of Parliaments, and I fail to understand how be can continue in office under ' existing conditions. I should' like to know whether the honorable and' learned member for Parkes, who is alwaysreminding us of the higher atmosphere in which we move in this' Parliament, appreciates the position of the Government which he is supporting. I think it is the bounden duty of the Prime Minister, if he has a shred of self-respect left, if he possesses any courage or manliness whatever, to tender his resignation.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - For an hour the honorable member has been attempting to show that he does not possess one of those attributes.


Mr BAMFORD - Even if the Prime Minister should tender his resignation, I do not see any necessity for a genera] election. The country has perfect confidence in this House. The right honorable gentleman, I repeat, should tender his resignation, and this Chamber should elect a Government to conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth. That is my proposition, and I think it is one which is deserving of every consideration. The right honorable gentleman ought not to hold office under such humiliating circumstances. It has been stated in the press, and in this House, that the Opposition desire to force a dissolution at the present juncture, because they believe that they would strengthen their numbers, by reason of the fact that the farmers will shortly be engaged in harvesting operations, and would therefore be unable to record their votes. I give that statement an unqualified denial, and I shall quote a few figures in support of my contention. The last general election took place whilst harvesting operations were in progress, and yet I find that in the city and suburban electorates of Victoria . the percentage of votes recorded was only slightly in excess of that recorded in the country. In the farming districts of Corio, Echuca, Corangamite, Flinders, Grampians, Laanecoorie, Moira, Wannon, and Wimmera, the average number of electors who recorded their votes was 51*64, whereas in the electorates of Bendigo, Bourke, Melbourne, Melbourne Ports, Mernda, North' Melbourne, South Melbourne, Kooyong, and Yarra, the average was 54.59. In other words, only 2.95 more of the electors in city and suburban constituencies exercised the franchise, notwithstanding the additional polling facilities which they enjoyed. In New South Wales, however, the figures were all in favour of the country constituencies. For example, in the seven farming electorates of Bland, Cowper, Hume, Hunter, Macquarie, Riverina, and New England, the average number of electors who recorded their votes was 50.42, whereas in the constituencies of Barrier, Dalley, East Syd ney, Newcastle, Parkes, West Sydnev. and South Sydney, the average was only 47.52, or nearly 3 per cent, less than in the country constituencies. Therefore the argument that we wish to force a dissolution because the farmers will shortly be engaged in harvesting operations, falls absolutely to the ground. So far as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is concerned, the Labour Party - desirous as they are of seeing it passed - do not for a moment hope- that it will effect an industrial revolution, or give that peace to industrial classes which every honorable member sincerely wishes to see brought about. We feel that all legislation is of a tentative and experimental nature. No one can foresee how certain Acts will operate when thev become law. They may operate in a manner quite different from that which was intended. For the most part we are groping in the dark. Sometimes we strike a fingerpost of truth, sometimes we obtain a glimmer of light, and sometimes we lay hold of a solid fact. Most of us are but as children ever climbing upon the ruins ofa yesterday to grasp at a brighter tomorrow. Whatever our hopes may be ii regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, for my own part, I do not think that it will confer so much benefit as some honorable members upon this side of the House anticipate. It is legislation of a purely experimental and tentative character. We on this side are certainly not actuated by any feelings of personal aggrandisement. Both the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have declared that when thev were supported by the Labour Party there was never any question of self-seeking on our part. They acknowledge that our support was freely given, and that nothing was asked in return. We are here in the interests of the community, as a whole; we endeavour to do our best for that community, according to our lights, and if we fail, we fail in a good cause.







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