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Wednesday, 6 February 1929

Mr ANSTEY (Bourke) .- As you have merely pointed to me, Mr. Parkes, without giving me my name, am I to take it that you do not now know me ? I have been acquainted with you for a long time, and have always treated you with courtesy. At times, too, in the chamber and in the lobbies, you have condescended to notice me. I have been a member of this House so long that it should be unnecessary for you to have to indicate me in the way in which you have done. I can understand that you may have felt under some difficulty, for lack of knowledge of their antecedents, concerning the honorable members at whom you had already pointed your finger, as if in scorn. For your information, therefore, I say that the mover of the motion was Mr. Bowden, who represents the division of Parramatta, a learned and distinguished lawyer who was formerly a member of the Government, but lost his job for reasons essentially connected with the welfare of the Commonwealth and the Empire. The honorable member at whom you next pointed your finger was Mr. Prowse. He represents an electoral division in Western Australia. If you do not know him let me introduce him to you as a fairly decent person. Who I am I shall tell you later.

It is only right that some information should be given to the new members of this House concerning the procedure observed in the appointment of a Speaker to preside over the destinies of this great and distinguished assembly. But, first, let me read some comments that appeared in the Melbourne Herald about a month ago, under the heading -

Sib Littleton Groom and the Red Shadow. The name " Groom " is quite commonplace and ordinary, such as might belong to one of the proletariat. I knew the father of the honorable member for Darling as plain Mr. Groom. Littleton with Groom gave aristocratic distinction, which was increased by the bestowal of the title Sir. As the honorable member for Parramatta has said, Sir Littleton Groom has held many high and distinguished positions in the government of this country. It is true also that the honorable member is one of the kindliest men who ever occupied a seat in this House. He would not hurt anybody's feelings by refusing anything.

In those outbursts of loyalty to which sometimes I give expression, I speak as a member of the Opposition. But I am not like the Prime Minister, who, early in the morning, before breakfast, and at all hours of the day, gives utterance to sentiments of loyalty in the belief that their constant reiteration assures the safety of the Empire. Now this is what the Melbourne Herald had to say about me -

Mr. Ansteyrightly interprets the feelings of the great majority of the people of this country when he expresses his gratitude for all that the Empire has done in the past and will do in the future.

Those words, I remind honorable members, refer not to Mr. Bruce but to me. My imperial sentiments are sound. I understand, as the right honorable gentleman does, how much the safety of the Empire depends upon having as Speaker one who will uphold the traditions of the Empire, and give fair decisions - except when the fate of the Empire, or the party to which he belongs, demands otherwise. The Melbourne Herald goes on to say -

The question of the integrity of Empire is paramount. This question must arise when the appointment of Speaker for the new Parliament takes place. The person who is appointed to the exalted position must be a man whose loyalty to Empire is beyond doubt. Sir Littleton Groom has been suggested. Left to himself Sir Littleton Groom is a mild, moderate safe man; but he must be judged by the company he keeps.

I remember that a statement couched in similar terms was made not long ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) concerning Mr. Scullin, the

Leader of my party. Mr. Bruce, on that occasion, expressed the opinion that Mr. Scullin was an honorable man, but. kept dishonorable company. The Melbourne Herald, in its further references to Sir Littleton Groom, said -

Hia association with men who accept red money for Australian wool to the detriment of the Empire and his association with a political party which permits red agents to enter our country to buy our wool in competition with the Empire is not only a grave reflection upon our patriotism, but is a matter for severe censure. So for Sir Littleton has not made one word of protest or repudiated his evil associates. Until he does he is a proper subject of patriotic suspicion, and upon him the dignity of Speaker cannot be safely conferred.

I ask Sir Littleton Groom, when he accepts the honour which this House will unanimously bestow upon him, to do something in the way of repudiation of the Red Menace, which others have been called upon to do.

I notice that the Prime Minister did not sponsor the motion before the House. Is there anything between Sir Littleton Groom and the Prime Minister to account for that? Let me read what the Age once said about the Prime Minister -

There was once a Premier of New South Wales who had a subject for eloquence to which he could turn in each and every embarrassment. When he was met with a particularly awkward question of local interest he began to denounce the Commonwealth Government and point to the grievous injustice suffered by Sydney. Thus he hoped to stifle all other grievances and bring the malcontents into cordial agreement. When placed in a similar position a more recent type of politician produces a flag and calls for three cheers for the Empire. To his not wholly disinterested view, enthusiasm for what he is sometimes pleased to call the "eeeempiah" excuses every political delinquency and answers all arguments.

Because I do not make frequent use of the word " Empire " I have been accused by the Prime Minister of not being sufficiently loyal to this country. I am prepared to support the motion, because I believe that in spite of everything that has been said against the Honorable Sir Littleton Groom by his associates, he will carry out his duties to the best of his ability. I ask him when in the chair to keep one eye on other honorable members, and one eye on me. Despite what my enemies have said about me, I am a believer in the Empire; but, unlike this coalition Government, I do not believe that we can solve all our difficulties merely by the frequent mention of the word "Empire". This Government is led by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The Treasurer calls it the Bruce-Page Government, and the Prime Minister refers to it as "My Government". The Age continues -

He seems to be perpetually laying traps for his opponents iu order that they may be induced to say something about the Empire that will astound him with horror and outrage the feelings of the loyal people.

The Prime Minister has made the Public Service Commission a thing of clay that can be moulded to his hand. When he wished to have Julian Simpson placed in the Public Service, he violated all rules, regulations, and principles of the Service to put him there over the heads of thousands. Mr. Simpson left the Public Service to uphold the cause of Mr. Bruce and the Empire against the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West). The Public Service Commissioners, when appointed, were supposed to be free from political influence. But the Prime Minister has made the commission his creature. He said to the Commissioners, "Put Simpson back in the Public Service." Mr. Skewes, trembling before the Prime Minister, asked, "Yes, but what position shall I give him and what salary?" The Prime Minister replied, " Give him the job that he had before and the same salary." That was done in defiance of the rules of the Public Service and of every code of honour, decency and loyalty. When any objection is made to this kind of thing, the person objecting is accused of disloyalty and failure to support hia country. The Prime Minister waves the flag and says, " Three cheers for the Empire," vainly imagining that to be a sufficient answer to criticism. The Age continues -

His own acts are all Imperial virtues. The acts of his political rivals are always clouded with Imperial suspicion. When his rivals are silent he is overcome with indignation because of the thought that they will not say one word for the Empire. When they speak, even about a proposal to make a new road, he is appalled that the Empire takes so small a place in their thoughts and language.

Who is this person? Is he, as some one has said, our greatest statesman? When he found an opponent and critic in the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) the Prime Minister at once said to him, " Come here. Take this and shut up." When he discovered another critic in the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) he said, "Come here. Take this and shut up." The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), who some say is the Prime Minister's left hand, has been overlooked. He has been left hanging in the air. Other Ministers have been dropped. But to all critics the Prime Minister replies, " You do not love your Empire." The Prime Minister is supposed to be Australia's greatest statesman and the upholder of the honour of this country. This is the man who claims to understand the psychology of the working class. During the election campaign the Prime Minister decided that something had to be done to gain votes, so it was arranged that a man had to be put out at every meeting. When the poor old lady in the green bonnet appeared the Prime Minister would say, " Ah, there she is again." That poor woman could change her dress and wear any colour, blue, green or yellow, but her bonnet had to be green, so that the Prime Minister could, at every meeting, pointing his finger at her, say, " There is that woman in the green bonnet." The Age continues -

Amongst decent citizens there are certain things that can be taken for granted. The challenges on the score of Empire so often issued in Parliament and on the platform create the assumption that in this country there is a considerable section of people who are anxious to break the imperial connexions - that there is an immediate danger of this section becoming a majority and gaining the power to fulfil its dastardly intentions. Were that idea to get abroad, can anybody imagine anything more mischievous to Australia or more prejudicial to the very interests of the Empire about which this voluble imperialist is jealous. The assumption is false. Of all the communities within the Empire, Australia, with its 97 per cent. of British stock, is the most British. Were every Dominion and dependency under the Crown as sound in its allegiance as is the Commonwealth, it would be folly to speak of danger . . Putting aside the cant of imperialism and anti-imperialism can they not think the thoughts of Australia.

I support the candidature of Sir Littleton Groom for the Speakership because of the honorable member's manifold virtues and kindly manner, and if, later, he should, in recognition, offer me a cup of tea, I shall take it.

You, Mr. Parkes, as I have said, pointed your finger at me, and pretended not to know me, as, of course, you do. If you did not, you should know of me, because of the publicity I have secured in the newspapers, by pictures and paragraphs, and in other ways. You must have seen illustrations of Anstey standing, Anstey sitting, Anstey sideways, and also Anstey rear view. I have been shown from every angle. Not only that ; you have noticed my type of propaganda. Here is an account of one day's strenuous work : -

Mr. Ansteyhad a strenuous day yesterday. He commenced at Pascoe Vale at 10.30 in a dark brown suit, dark brown hat, tie to match. Before arrival at Merlyston he retired behind a pillar box, disrobed, and in three minutes emerged in a blue suit, blue felt hat, tie to match. Mr. Anstey then caught the BrunswickCoburg express. On the way he disrobed behind a newspaper and emerged in a grey suit, grey felt hat, grey top boots, soft grey shirt, tie to match. The majority of passengers who landed at Albion were tired, dusty and perspiring. Mr. Anstey landed calm, cool and composed. It is this ready adaptability to every change of climate or of circumstance which distinguishes this honorable gentleman from the common herd.

He adapts himself to every change of circumstances,à laMr. Bruce -

After his meeting at Albion, Mr. Anstey departed for Moreland. On the way he retired behind a post and in three minutes appeared in a black suit, tall black hat, tie to match. From Moreland he went to the Hoffman Brickworks. He disappeared behind the baths, disrobed and in three minutes emerged in a rough tweed suit, hob-nailed boots and tie to match. At night Mr. Anstey appeared at the Brunswick town hall in a dark striped suit, tie to match. The next day the Melbourne Herald said - "Mr. Anstey - loyalist, imperialist, and empire builder - was perfectly groomed, perfectly tailored, perfectly mannered. A perfect figure in a perfect background - the end of a perfect day. A strenuous day, yet not too strenuous for such a perfect man in such perfect physical and mental condition."

This boosting of my clothes was not vanity. It was done to divert public attention from matters of public policy. One might think this a description of the proceedings of the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, not of myself ; but it is Mr. Anstey who was always perfectly groomed, perfectly polished, perfectly mannered, a perfect figure against a perfect background. Now you know me. Here is the end of a perfect day -a strenuous day, yet not too strenuous for such a perfect man under such perfect conditions. Attention has been directed to my clothes to distract public attention from public matters of importance. In my speeches I have stated that we must have loyalty to the Throne, to the King and to ihe Empire. We must have co-operation, co-ordination, and collaboration without which we cannot help to solve the threefold problems of men, money and markets. In addition to that we must have love of the King and of Empire.

Mr Beasley - What about love of mankind ?

Mr ANSTEY - That, too, is essential. This glorious Empire must be maintained and the different portions of the Empire must work side by side in perfect harmony. In the cultured tones in which the Prime Minister said of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) " He is an honorable man buthe keeps dishonorable company," I should like to ask Sir Littleton Groom, "Are you loyal? Have you made your threefold genuflexions before the altar of the Empire?". I have not noticed it. Before you are elected to the speakership, we should have some exhibition of your loyalty. We want to know where you stand in connexion with the Reds. Are you going to be associated with the Reds, who are spending five millions of Russian money in purchasing Queensland wool? If you are, you should not occupy the position to which you are about to be elected. I said at Stanthorpe, where I met those who are conversant with the problems facing us, that we have to explain that problems have their angles and that we must educate the people concerning all these angles, and when these are understood the problems will be settled. That is what I, as a statesman, told the people. I am a man of vision and wisdom. I am not an ordinary tripy politician. At Bendigo I said that the Leader of the Opposition would not say one word against the Empire, and that he who did not love his Empire was a wretched, dishonorable scoundrel. I then went to Eaglehawk and said that Mr. Scullin would not say a word about the Empire. He was afraid; he was a coward and would not denounce the Reds. I went to Kyneton and said that Mr. Scullin had no courage, as he would not fight these Communist wretches. He was not doing what the Prime Minister would not do. All the right honorable gentleman did was to talk against them and then subsidize them under the lap. At Colac, I said he was a coward, a cur and afraid to do anything. At Colac, I said that Mr. Scullin was a very honorable man but for the company he kept, and I would say it now but the elections are over, and I do not want too much criticism to be brought against me. We know the old assumption was that people who are poor must also be dishonorable. I would not say that when charges were made against me. I would say, "What an absurdity to charge me with being associated with anything that is wrong." I have so much money that there is no need for me to do anything dishonest - just like the Abraham brothers. I am a polite gentleman, a polished gentleman; but I say of others "You are ignorant, you are crude, you display too much pretence, you get down into the gutter. You are a political profligate; a man of low moral calibre." We are told that Labour is not trustworthy, that it is not represented by men of the right calibre, that its activities are inspired by Moscow and that it is infected with the virus of Communism. As a statesman and as an upright, honorable man, I now ask those of whom I have said they were the enemies of their country to get together and endeavour to secure peace in industry. You might think therefore that I was a liar before the elections, but no, I was only adapting myself to the circumstances of the hour. Certain persons were evil and malign creatures before the election; they were honorable men afterwards.

Mr Watt - What is the use of exhausting all your ammunition in the first skirmish ?

Mr ANSTEY - I might be dead tomorrow, and I would not then have the opportunity. I am pleased that Sir Littleton Groom is about to be appointed Speaker. I believe that he will discharge his duties with fairness. I presume that when elected he will regard himself, not as the custodian of the rights of one side only, but know no party, that he will apply the law and will hold the scales of justice fairly.

I take it that when he sits in the Speaker's chair, and listens to men who lie to the discredit of the country, he will regard it as his duty to tell them that they are doing so. I hope that when he hears members say that the Government sold the Commonwealth Woollen Mills for the country's good, he will remind them that that same Government is now buying the products of those mills at prices from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, higher than they paid previously. Referring to the Peace in Industry Conference, Mr. Bruce said that there was an idea among the workmen that the employers were getting too much, and the workmen too little. Let Sir Littleton Groom remind the Prime Minister that he also said: "I want to be fair; I do not wish to express an opinion one way or another; I merely wish to say that, in my opinion, the workers are getting a fair deal." Apparently all this getting-together business was merely for the purpose of explaining to the workmen that they .were already receiving enough.

I also hope that when honorable members speak in this House about the malcontents in the coal-mining industry, and the go-slow policy of the workers, Sir Littleton Groom will remind them that the miners are paid only for what they produce. I hope that he will point out also that in the centre of the Empire itself there are more than 300,000 miners practically starving, and living under conditions so horrible that even the Prince of Wales was horror stricken at the sight of them. I hope that he will point out to honorable members that, many of the miners are working 16 hours a day in an endeavour to keep body and soul together; that they are producing coal which is imported into this country at one-third of the freight rates charged on ordinary cargo, thus lowering the standard of living in Australia. I hope that the Speaker will make it clear that the Government, by its appointments to the

Arbitration Court, is seeking to degrade the workers in Australia, and to drag them down to the same low level at which the miners are struggling in England; that he will point out that the employers in England sought, by reducing their workers to a condition of semi-starvation, to reconquer the markets of the world, but that they were unable to do so.

I believe that the party which sits on this side of the chamber will abide loyally by the decisions of the Chair even though these may be against them, and that they will support him in every way they can.

Members of the House then unanimously calling Sir Littleton Groom to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Bowden and Mr. Prowse and conducted to the chair.

Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - I thank honorable members for the honour which they have conferred upon me. It will be my endeavour in the future, as it has been in the past, to administer my office with impartiality, and to preserve the rights, privileges and dignity of Parliament.

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