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Thursday, 7 December 1905

Senator STEWART (Queensland) - I wish to say a few words in support of Senator Higgs' motion. As an ardent supporter of collectivism, I am bound to express my disappointment at the failure which up to date appears to have dogged the footsteps of the Pacific Cable. There can be no doubt, I think, that, under existing conditions, in many departments, privately managed businesses are very much more successful than are those which are publicly managed. But there is no reason under the sun why that state of , affairs , . should continue. I believe that it is as . possible to have good business management on behalf of the community as it is on behalf of a joint stock company. Holding that opinion, I think that the Senate ought to support the Government in every possible way to improve the system under which the Pacific Cable is working. We pay high salaries to officials. If they are not capable of conducting the business in a satisfactory manner, they ought ┬░to be dealt with in exactly the same way as a private com1 pany would deal with its officers. If a private company were managed in such a manner that its manager year after year presented a balance-sheet showing a miserable failure, whilst a rival company that had probably had not nearly so many advantages, constantly showed a big balance on the right side, and paid handsome divid'ends, I think the first company would very soon get rid of its manager, and appoint some one else who would be able to conduct its affairs by more up-to-date methods. The chief defect in connexion with a State or Commonwealth managed business is that no individual seems to take a personal interest in pushing it.

Senator Gray - Except to draw his own salary.

Senator STEWART - Just so. These failures are advanced by the opponents of collectivism as an unanswerable reason why that principle should not be adopted. To mv mind it is no reason. What is possible in the case of private companies is possible in the case of businesses managed in the interests of the community. What we have to do is to point out to the men who are engaged in the management of our businesses that if they do not make them a success .they will have to give place to others who will.

Senator Gray - ' Then their friends in Parliament will speak up for them.

Senator STEWART - I want to crush all that sort of thing remorselessly. As one who believes that in the direction of collectivism lies the ultimate redemption of the human race, I am prepared to trample down any one who stands in the way of the adoption of that system. If one set of officers cannot, or will not, carry on their business as it ought to be carried on, let us replace them, and have other officers. Let us exhaust every possible means of making this system a success, as I believe it ought to be. It has been pointed out by speaker after speaker how inadequate and out-of-date' in its methods the management of the Pacific Cable is. It has also been pointed out that the Eastern Extension Company is one of the most pushing affairs of its kind in the world. Surely the Government will poke up these people who are mismanaging the Pacific Cable. I hope it will. If it does not, the members of the Senate ought to poke up the Government. I am prepared to poke any Government out of office which will not do its duty in connexion with these matters. The Pacific Cable, instead of presenting a deficit at the end of each year, ought to be paying its way. If I were a member of the Government, I should certainly demand to know why it was not doing so. I trust that not only will Senator Higgs' motion be carried, but that every member of the Senate will consider it to be his duty to bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Government, so that they may be induced to take all the necessary steps to make this concern a success.

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