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Friday, 17 November 1905

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must not refer to that.

Senator STEWART - I regret that I was led off the track by the interjection of Senator de Largie. I was referring to the need for a largely increased population. If we are to pursue our present socialistic policy - and I hope that we shall - we must inevitably incur the hatred and enmity of the capitalistically -governed countries of the old world. We* know that in Great Britain, for instance, when a cooperative institution is started, the people engaged in private enterprise make such an assault upon it that very frequently they bring about its downfall. If Australia con tinues to pursue her present policy, she will incur the hostility of the older countries of the world, which are governed under the capitalistic system, and in which private enterprise runs riot. Here again, is a reason - and a very strong one - why our population should be enormously increased at as early a period as possible.

Senator Turley - Is the honorable senator suggesting any steps to increase the population?

Senator STEWART -I : am suggesting, to the Government a policy,, the adoption of which would be the means of very largely increasing the population of this country, and which would not only increase the population, but would make the people whom we have here more active, virile, selfreliant, and independent. I have alreadypointed out that we ought to take the question of the Tariff into consideration. I might also add that it is the bounden duty of the National Parliament, charged as it is with national interests, to see that something is done to break down the land monopoly which has driven the people out of several States. What can the Parliament of the Commonwealth do? No doubt, I shall be met with the objection that it possesses no power over the lands of the States. I am quite aware that we have nodirect power over them, but I would point out that indirect influence very frequently exercises a much greater effect than doesdirect influence. I submit that if this Parliament passed! a prohibitive Tariff, and in that way cut down the revenue which is: now being derived from the Customs, it would compel the Parliaments of the various States to impose such direct taxation as would break down land mono.poly. Here is a policy composed of two planks, whichI submit with aSl deference to the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth - protection, on the one hand, and land values taxation on the other. A policy of protection would create new industries, and maintain those which are already in. existence, whilst land values taxation would break 'down land monopolies and increase the. opportunities for settling our people upon the soil. Protection would shield us from the cheap labour of other countries, and land values taxation would protect us against the exactions of the local monopolist. Such a policv would shield us from the enemy without as well as from the enemy within, and I am surethat it ought to commend itself to so ardent a patriot as Senator Pulsford. . Some time ago he interjected that protection would kill our industries.

Senator Givens - Every industry in England was built up under protection.

Senator STEWART - Quite so. I wish to ask Senator Pulsford how the United States of America has become the chief manufacturing country in the world? Is it not because of her protective policy? How is Canada able to manufacture harvesters and to sell them in Australia at a profit? That industry has been built up under the Canadian protective Tariff. Looking all round the globe, I cannot find a single country which has established a great industrial system upon a free-trade basis - not even Great Britain. If my honorable friend knows anything about Great Britain, he must know that at one period of her history she was one of tlie most rabid protectionist countries in the world. But we need not trouble ourselves about the policy of Great Britain or of any other country. What we have to decide is, "What is the best policy for Australia?" Can we establish manufacturing industries in the face of the clumping tactics of the United States, of Canada, of Germany, and of Great Britain?

Senator Gray - Has not Victoria had the advantage of a protective Tariff long enough ?

Senator STEWART - Victoria has enjoyed protection for some years. Had it not been for her protective policy, instead of having lost 150,000 people during the past ten or twelve years, .she would have lost 300,000. I know that the argument of the average free-trader, so far as Victoria 'is concerned, is that people have been driven out of the country by reason of her protective policy.

Senator Gray - To a certain extent. "Senator STEWART.- It is truly wonderful how one man draws certain conclusions from a particular set of circumstances, whilst another individual draws exactly the opposite conclusions. My contention is that Victoria has lost population because of her land monopoly. Is not the State Government' now buying back land? Why is it doing so? If there is not a scarcity of land, why are the national resources being utilized to buy back from private owners land upon which to place settlers? If there were no land monopoly1 - if an artificial scarcity had not been produced by this monopoly - there would be no necessity for the State Government to pursue its present policy. The sons of Victorian farmers are going up to Queensland, over to New South Wales, and indeed anywhere and everywhere in a mad hunt for land. If an area is thrown open for selection in any one of the States, wehear of hundred's of' applicants literally stamping each other down in their mad haste to obtain possession _ of a piece of country on which to settle. And yet Australia is the most sparsely-populated country under the sun. The more I think of this question, the more important does it appear to me. Here we have a country which, I say advisedly, is "one of the richest in the world. It is a country capable of sustaining a large population, but having only one person to the square mile, and we have a more fictitious land1 monopoly than exists in any other portion of the globe. We have a land monopoly brought about by misgovernment in the past ; a land monopoly which, if Australia is to progress, must be broken down. This question transcends in importance any other question that could be brought before the Parliament of the Commonwealth at the present moment. Australia is but a child. But, infant in arms as she is, she has ceased to grow. What would any father or mother think of a child if, instead of putting on weight, or increasing in height, at, say, two years of age, it began to shrink ? The parents would immediately come to the conclusion that the body of the child had been invaded with some serious disorder, and they would get the verv best medical advice. .That is exactly the position in which Australia stands to-day. The child has ceased to grow It has become the victim of some dreadful disorder, and as legislators of Australia. - as men who are responsible to the electors of the Commonwealth - it is our duty to discover the disorder, and apply the remedy. We should apply that remedy without the slightest compunction, and without the slightest respect for any vested interests that mav exist. The common good, as we were told yesterday, is the supreme law. If a land monopoly exists, if. in other words, there is scarcity in the presence of plenty, it is the duty of this Parliament to take such steps as will bring about a proper state of affairs. We 'had Mr. Deakin, some time ago. discussing the question of immigration, and, as is his usual habit talking largely, loosely, and finely. On reading his speech, I compared him, in my own mind, to a windmill out of gear, which continually whirls round! and round, but does not pump any water. I did not see any business in his speech. It consisted of large, loose, general talk, as to the necessity of securing an increase of population, a(nd the statement that the Commonwealth was prepared to do something in that direction when the States would make a move. I submit that we have the key to the position in our own hands. If we adopt the policy that I have outlined, we can compel the States to impose direct taxation.

Senator Givens - Is the honorable senator prepared to advocate that the Commonwealth should apply the remedy ?

Senator STEWART - That is a very fair question. As doctors differ, so on this occasion, I suppose, there must be a slight difference of opinion between Senator Givens and myself.

Senator Givens - I think that if it is necessary to take a certain step, and we can take it, we ought not to wait for the other fellow to do so.

Senator STEWART - I have been pointing out that we have power to apply the remedy indirectly by increasing the Tariff to such an extent-

Senator Givens - The honorable senator desires a roundabout way to be adopted.

Senator STEWART - A roundabout way is very often the nearest road home. We have a majority in both Chambers in favour of a much more highly prohibitive Tariff than we now have, and if the Government took up the position I have advocated we could have such a Tariff imposed within the next twelve months. The result would be a large shrinkage in the Customs revenue. When we decrease the Customs revenue the States must look in another direction for funds, and the only direction, so far as I can see, in which they can possibly look is that of land values taxation. It seems to me at present that that would be the readiest method of achieving the object to which I have referred. It is the duty of the States to impose direct taxation, because it is extremely desirable that their finances should be absolutely distinct from those of the Commonwealth. If we adopted Senator Givens' suggestion, and imposed direct taxation, as well as Customs taxation, what would be the result? The States now are complaining that they are in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament, and *do not know really where they are.

Senator Givens - They are largely in the hands of the Jews.

Senator STEWART - They axe in the hands of the Jews, and of the Commonwealth Parliament. They say that they can do nothing, that their finances are upset, and so forth; but if, in addition to levying Customs duties, we imposed direct taxation, we should increase the difficulty of the situation.

Senator Givens - The honorable senator is not an advocate of raising revenue bv Customs taxation?

Senator STEWART - I am not an advocate of the raising of revenue through the Customs if that system can be done away with ; but the honorable senator knows as well as I do that it would be absolutely impossible for us at once to do without Customs revenue. In any case, I have no desire to see the whole of our Customs revenue abolished. It will always be desirable to tax spirits, narcotics-

Senator Givens - The honorable senator does not smoke, whilst I do, so that he is not so heavily taxed as I am.

Senator STEWART - I refrained from mentioning * tobacco. I do not see why a man who smokes should pay taxation, which the non-smoker is not called upon to pay. We ought to try to arrive at a scientific form of taxation.

Senator Drake - The honorable senator's remark as to the imposition of a duty on tobacco would apply also to the spirit duties.

Senator STEWART - But not to the same extent.

Senator Gray - Then the honorable senator favours direct taxation.

Senator STEWART - I favour a direct system of taxation.

Senator Playford.- I wish honorable senators would refrain from interjecting.

The PRESIDENT - I am sure that the honorable senator would have concluded his speech before now but for the interruptions to which he has been subjected.

Senator STEWART - Out of deference to the Minister of Defence, I (-hall bring my remarks to a speedy close. I think that we ought to try to get down to a scientific system of taxation - a system which. would not draw upon a man because of what he ate, or drank, or wore, but would call upon every citizen, to contribute to the cost of government in proportion to his capacity to bear that cost. Having said so much, I shall refrain from other observations which I had intended' to make, as I do not desire to unduly interfere with the opportunity of the leader of the Government in this Chamber to deliver his Budget statement.

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