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Thursday, 20 June 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) - - I should like to commence by offering my congratulations to Senator Gardiner upon the success and ease with which he displayed his capacity for the playing of many parts. When the honorable senator yesterday commenced to make eulogistic remarks concerning the Government - so eulogistic indeed that he was nearly bringing a blush to the hardened cheek of Senator McGregor, and on one occasion even caused Senator Pearce to wear a far-away look as he studied the pattern upon the wall - I was wondering whether this was the same Senator Gardiner who only a session ago enlivened our proceedings by some of the most caustic criticisms upon the present Government that I ever listened to. I was fairly puzzled when I heard the honorable senator describe this Government as the best that ever existed in Australia. I wondered what sort of a strain would be placed upon the Standing Orders if ever the honorable senator were called upon to criticise what he would call the worst Government, seeing that on two or three occasions the business of this Chamber was suspended whilst he poured out the vials of his wrath upon the Government he supported yesterday. In the course of his speech the honorable senator extended one invitation to which I desire to respond. He said that the Government had done things, and had been guilty of omissions for which they deserved adverse criticism. Recognising that the Government deserved that criticism he extended a cordial invitation to honorable senators on this side to discharge a duty which he felt ought to be discharged, but which, as a party man, he was unable to discharge himself. I propose to respond to that invitation.

It is fortunate, indeed, that, under our Standing Orders, on a motion of this kind we are not limited to the subject-matter of the question stated from the Chair. Otherwise I must admit that I can see nothing in the speech itself which would require more than a very few observations from any member of this Chamber. A document which contains so many words to express so little it has never before been my lot to peruse. There is much which can be, found almost word for word in a similar document presented two years ago. There is a revival of the same hopes, a renewal of the same protestations, but, as for any substantial proposition, any indication of a desire or an intention on the part of the Government to deal with the big outstanding national problems which face Australia, the GovernorGeneral's Speech is singularly silent. That consideration enables me with greater freedom to turn to matters which occurred during the past recess and during the period when this Parliament has been in existence. It does seem to me, in view of the absence of any material proposition in the GovernorGeneral's Speech, that we may properly regard the life of this Parliament as virtually at an end. For all legislative purposes, two-thirds of its allotted career has run ; and, judging from the Speech, we may take it for granted that we have nothing to do now but to wait for the time when we shall go back to the electors. Two-thirds of the life of this Government has gone, and I want to take a retrospective glance at many of the events that have happened since this Parliament and this Government were called into existence. I am prompted to do so largely by a remark made by the Prime Minister when receiving a deputation from the Chambers of Commerce a little while ago. Mr. Fisher said on that occasion that he wanted to know " what the people were thinking about." I cannot believe that Mr. Fisher is ignorant as to what they are thinking about, although he may profess such a desire for knowledge. They have had several opportunities during . the last few months, and there have been several occasions since this Parliament was elected, of showing the Prime Minister what they are thinking about. The electors are indicating a stronglymarked tendency to reverse the verdict which they gave two years ago. Let me remind the Senate of what has occurred. In the first instance, may I remind honorable senators of the conditions under which this Government came into office. It came in, as Senator Gardiner frankly admitted yesterday, with a grant of public power more generous than has been accorded to any other Federal Government that has ever existed. Senator Gardiner admitted that when he affirmed that the present Government had been enabled to carry out things that would have Been impossible to any other Government not possessed of the substantial majority in both Houses of the Legislature with which the electors had favoured it. That consideration has made the task of this Government remarkably easy." I may also allude to what Senator E. J. Russell said, and quite correctly, that this Government took office during a time of unparalleled prosperity. I do not think any one will dispute the accuracy of that remark. Those two factors - the more than a working majority in both Houses, and the magnificent seasons which have given abounding prosperity to the country - have, I say again, made the task of conducting the ship of State an abundantly easy one. They should have enabled this Government to carry out their promises, and -the promises which their supporters made before the electors. As to whether they have done so may be indicated by a long series of events. Only two years ago, by an overwhelming majority, the people responded to the appeal of the Labour party - the (Government party - , to give them an opportunity of demonstrating their capacity to take charge of the affairs of this country. Now, with one single exception, on every occasion since then, when the people have been appealed to, they have shown a tendency to reverse that verdict. Those several occasions were these : First of all, we had, immediately following the Federal elections, a State election in New South Wales. At the Federal election in that State, seventeen supporters of the Labour party were returned to eight Liberals. Those figures were changed at the State elections. If the same men and women had retained their belief in the Labour party they would have returned sixty-one supporters of it to the State Legislative Assembly, as compared with twenty-nine members of the Opposition. That would have given the Labour party a majority of thirty-two. But, instead of a majority of thirty-two, the electors gave the Labour party a bare majority of t.wo - a majority which Mr. Holman figuratively said on one occasion "fell over the bannisters." The next event was the Federal referendum. On that occasion no less than fifty-eight electorates, as against seventeen, decided adversely to the Government proposals. Five States to one returned the same verdict. On that occasion the same men and women who had returned this Government to power declined to intrust them with the extra powers which they asked for. We come to the next event - the Boothby election. There, in the short space of eighteen months after the Federalelections, a Labour majority of 4,000 was turned into a minority of 3,000, a turnover of 7,000 votes in eighteen months. At the Victorian State elections the Liberal Government went back stronger than ever. The same process occurred in South Australia. There, when the State elections took place, a Labour Government had an opportunity of appealing to the people on one of the strongest questions that can be raised in Australia, one involving a conflict be> tween the popular House and the Legislative Council. No more attractive political war-cry can be raised in this country than that. Yet the Labour party went back after the appeal in a minority. Again, in Queensland, at the State elections, an overwhelming majority was returned in favour of the Liberal party, and that in a State which, at the Federal elections, had returned three Labour senators and a majority of representatives in the other House in support of the same party. I come now to the Werriwa election. I must express my admiration of the discretion and restraint exhibited bv Senator Gardiner, which induced him to maintain a magnificent and monumental silence in reference to that event. I should have thought that, as he was the generalissimo - as he was the commanderinchief there - he would have had something to say as to the procedure by which a Labour majority of 1,800 was converted into one of 300. The silence of the honorable senator strikes me as being more singular even than the change of opinion which the figures indicate. In connexion with the Werriwa election several incidents call for criticism. The first is the phenomenal delay which occurred between the creation of the vacancy in the electorate and the issue of the writ. I see that an attempt has been made to forestall criticism on that point by the publication of the statement that the election was delayed in order to give a number of persons who had recently gone to reside in Werriwa an opportunity of taking part in it. If that statement be correct, the Government are entitled to be congratulated upon the coincidental events which saved them from defeat. It is entirely owing to the long delay which elapsed between the creation of the vacancy and the issue of the writ that that defeat was averted, and we are entitled to say that the cause of that delay, mainly to afford an opportunity to a large number of men to get on to the rolls, introduces a regrettable element into the preparations for elections.

Senator Long - To enable a larger expression of opinion than could have been obtained otherwise.

Senator MILLEN - If writs. are to be delayed to suit party convenience, to enable men to crowd into an electorate and get on to the rolls, we are going to break down that desire to get purity in the administration of our Electoral Acts which we have hitherto professed. There was another factor in connexion with the Werriwa election which is worthy of consideration. The Government party secured a majority of 339. Now, whatever may be said in reference to the action of the Government last session in abolishing the postal vote - whatever may be said as to the morality of the proceeding - that they showed their wisdom from the point of view of party tactics in destroying the postal vote, is illustrated by the Werriwa instance. In that electorate, two years ago, there were 431 postal votes for the Liberal candidate and 245 for the Labour representative. If the postal vote had been in operation at the last election the Labour majority of 339 would have been reduced to 150. All these factors must cause the people, and must even cause members of the Government and their supporters, reason for serious consideration. I know that attempts will be made, and have been made, to belittle the occurrences to which I have alluded, and especially the result of the Werriwa election ; but we have the testimony of Mr. Holman, by no means a novice in electioneering matters, and one who is not in sympathy with this side in politics - we have his plain declaration - that a change is coming which is menacing for Labour, and which cannot be ignored. All these factors indicate an evaporation of the support which the Government commanded two years' ago. It is necessary to remember that that falling away in support is not on the part of Liberals, who have never had confidence in this Government. It must be their own supporters who have dropped away, realizing, as it seems to me, that the. promises made so lavishly two years ago are not being met by performances to-day. Let us look at what some of these promises were. The first promise to which I will refer, especially as Senator Gardiner is here, was one made in regard to land supply and immigration. All over Australia the proposal of the Labour party with regard to land supply did more to secure votes than did any other plank in their platform, or any other promise made by a spokesman. It - was a twofold promise. First of all the Labour party undertook to cheapen land, to break up what they called the land monopoly. They were going to make it easier for a person to acquire land, and easier for a person to work it when it was acquired. They also set out that they would stop immigration until the land supply became so abundant that all those persons who were already in the country and desired to secure a block would have an ample opportunity to do so. I do not suppose that any one will dispute for a moment the statement I have' made as to the attitude of the Labour party at that time. But in order to anticipate any objection, to stop any quibbling, let me read a passage from the Government manifesto itself. After stating that a population of less than 5,000,000 cannot obtain land for its own requirements, the manifesto said - .

Such conditions are unnatural ; they make foi degeneration, they invite disaster, they make healthy progress impossible. We must get the bulk of the people on the land. To do that we must kill land monopoly.

Then in regard to immigration the manifesto said -

We want more people to develop Australia ; we want more people to help us to defend it. But it is useless and even dangerous to invite people to a country unless we make preparations «/ receive them. In the over-crowded cities immigrants are a drug on the labour market, a menace to the worker, a burden to the community. They create no new wealth, benefit no one, not even themselves, and by the reports of their misfortune give the country a bad name. But settled on the land, every white immigrant may be welcomed with open arms_; he is an asset to the nation's wealth, an additional guarantee of the nation's safety.

The manifesto went on to declare that the only way to bring -about these two results was to shatter land monopoly at one blow. I want to see how far that dual promise has been redeemed. Every one will remember how, from a thousand platforms, it was represented that the effort then being made by the Liberal Government .to encourage immigration was a mere device to provide cheap labour for capitalists in Australia. No one was more eloquent and indignant than was Senator Findley on the floor of this chamber when he pointed to the number of applicants there were for single blocks offered in New South Wales, and stated that there was no room on the land for immigrants. Before looking into the facts of the case, let me draw attention to the gross misstatement in the Government manifesto that 50 per cent, of the people of Australia were massed in the State capitals. There is no such thing. This only shows with what recklessness the Labour party will attempt to play upon the want of knowledge and the credulity of electors. The percentage of the people in the capitals at that time was 38 per cent., not 50 per cent. But if there is "any force in the contention that this crowding of people into the cities is a danger and a degradation, that there can be no healthy progress while it exists, and that the land tax was to stop it, we are able by a very simple expedient to test the efficacy of that tax as a means of diverting people from the cities to the country by asking to-day whether the population of the cities is less or more. Unquestionably not only do statistics show, but every one Knows that there is a greater percentage of the population in the cities to-day than there was then. Has this panacea cured the evil to which the Government manifesto drew attention? Let me quote these words again, because, if they were true then, if they were not merely" used for electioneering purposes, if they represented the sound and matured judgment of the Labour- party, the indictment which they launched then against their opponents .can be launched with added force against themselves today -

Such conditions are unnatural ; they make for degeneration, they invite disaster, they make healthy progress impossible.

As one of the results of the land tax policy of the Labour party, they have added to that evil instead of lessening it. Not a member on the other side can dispute the contention that to-day the evil which they set out to cure has become worse under their government and their laws. That was what the Government contended when they sought votes, but what did they do immediately after the votes were cast and they found themselves on the Treasury benches? The Senate will recollect, because I quoted from it before, a pamphlet which the Labour Government issued a few weeks after they took office, and which is circulated broadcast amongst the farmers and farm labourers of Great Britain. It was probably not intended for distribution in Australia, but it found its way into the hands of members of this Senate, and I have taken every possible opportunity to make it known to the electors of my State. This Government, which declared that Australia was being strangled by land monopoly when it wanted votes, had no sooner got votes than it sent this message to those in Great Britain who were likely to become immigrants -

An enormous area of wheat land has been made available to the selector by the construction of spur railways, and when those lines which it is_ intended to construct are completed, a further large area will be opened.

It tells the newcomer - of the opportunities that exist to secure on easy terms an area of fair size.

I challenge any one to quote a statement like that made at the last general election. The statements then made were of a totally different character. The pamphlet continues -

There are available for settlement in - all States large tracts of partially cleared and improved land which can be prepared for cropping at trifling cost and without any delay for burning off.

One more quotation and I have finished with the pamphlet -

There are small allotments within easy reach of big markets, and areas of marvellously rich alluvial soil on the banks of permanent watercourses can be procured without difficulty.

These are the statements which were made the moment the Government took office.

When I brought the matter before the Senate, the answer given to me was, "That is the position which will exist the moment the land tax is in operation." Obviously, the answer does not square with the facts. I ask the Government to indicate where areas of marvellously rich soil on the banks of watercourses are to be obtained without difficulty. Can they give any indication or proof that land has become cheaper to the people, or easier to obtain? The real facts are that land in Australia was never so dear as it is now, that, so far as being a means of breaking up big estates and providing land for settlement, the land tax has been an abject failure. I do not ask the Senate to accept my statement on this point. I intend to quote an authority with which, perhaps, my honorable friends will be less inclined to quarrel, and that is Mr. Beeby, the Labour Minister of Lands in New South Wales. Speaking so recently as the 5th June at Dubbo, he said -

He was determined that those big holdings should cease.

I would remind my honorable friends on the other side that this is not the first time that Mr. Beeby has given a similar warning to land-owners -

If the land tax was not going to put them on the market, then pressure in some other way would have to be brought to bear on the owners. No man should be permitted to hold land out of proper use which was fit for closer settlement.

Mr. Beebywent on to say that the land tax having failed to do what was expected, if the land-owners themselves would not take the hint, and watch the signs of the times --he was not giving them a threat, but a warning^ f they would not voluntarily subdivide, the State Government would have to take some action to compel them to do so. That is the best evidence that, as a means of breaking up large estates, and bringing land into profitable use, the land tax has absolutely failed. Whatever it may have done to contribute revenue to an extravagant Government is quite another fact, but as regards the primary purpose for which its imposition was advocated, it has not realized the anticipations of its advocates. Let me mention here that, roughly speaking, two-thirds of the contributions to the land tax come from city land. It must be remembered that we never heard of the advantage of a progressive tax on city lands until after the Land Tax Bill was brought in, and the Government found themselves face to face with a constitutional difficulty. The whole plea then was that the tax would force land into use and cultivation, but of this revenue of £1,400,000 which is being raised, twothirds are paid by city lands. Do honorable senators think that the land-owners are paying this tax?

Senator Lynch - Are you quite sure that that is the proportion?

Senator MILLEN --! am quite sure that, approximately, the proportion is what I have said. Whatever may be the effect of a land tax in country districts, as far as city properties are concerned the effect is easily traceable, and is most marked. Does any one suppose for a moment' that a business firm like Anthony Hordern and Sons does anything else but pass on the land tax ? The same thing happens with other business enterprises in Sydney, as well as in other cities. It is rather curious that not long ago a deputation waited upon the Premier of New South Wales to complain' that rents in Sydney had gone up. He said that he could not understand the com.plaint, but he would appoint a Commission to find out why the rents had gone up. So far as city lands are concerned, the land tax is largely responsible for the increases in rents, and I unhesitatingly say that, in regard to all business concerns, the land tax is paid, not by the nominal owners, but by those who do business with the houses. I mentioned just now that, on one occasion, Senator Findley tried to move the feelings of the Senate by quoting the number of applicants there were for single blocks of land made available in New South Wales prior to the advent of this monopolydestroying Government. Here are some figures given by Mr. Beeby on the occasion to which I referred : He said he found that for twelve blocks in the Parkes districts there were 1,000 applicants, and for eight blocks on the Wingadee leases 570 applicants. Will Senator Gardiner and others have the nerve to stand up here and declare that, as a result of their policy, land has been made available and cheap for all those who desire to obtain it? I place Mr. Beeby in the witness-box to answer these ridiculous boasts and claims made by the apologists for the Government.

I have dealt so far with the failure of the Government to redeem their promise to provide "cheap land," Let us see if they have been more successful in their efforts to provide " cheap money " - the next promise which they gave to the electors. I suppose that nothing they said was more successful, or was more certain to elicit a responsive cheer, than when they talked of establishing a National bank, and led the people to believe that there would then be a means by which every honest and hardworking citizen could get cheap money when wanted. Is anybody getting cheap money yet? Senator Gardiner made reference yesterday to a speech I delivered at Paddington, and I interjected that he was only quoting a portion of what I said. I should like to supply the omission. What I was saying was that, prior to the elections, the representatives of the party headed by the Government had promised the people a National bank, which was to provide cheap money for the citizens of this country. I went on to renmark that the Times had dismissed criticism by saying that this bank was framed on most Conservative lines, and that the net result of the. Government's action was not to create a National bank which was going to give cheap money, but merely to add a twenty-fourth bank to the twentythree existing institutions. That is exactly what will happen. Whilst the twentyfourth bank added to the others may be an advantage to commercial people in this country, though I do not think it will, it is not in any sense going to act as a redemption of the promise so freely given that the people were to have" created a people's bank, which would attend to their financial requirements on the ' most modest of terms. If any criticism were required of the Government bank, which although nominally started, merely has an office and an office boy somewhere, it is supplied by the failure of the Prime Minister to get a firstclass banker to take charge of the institution, notwithstanding that he was willing to pay almost any salary, and by the fact that, after waiting six months, he was obliged to accept the services of a secondrate man. I do not wish to belittle Mr. Miller in any way- he may be a most competent man - but he does not stand in the front rank of bankers in Australia. I say that without making any reflection upon his abilities, which time will give him an opportunity to reveal. But I do say that if a poll had been taken of the bankers of Australia, with a view to securing the most eligible man for this important position, Mr. Miller's name would not have figured on the ballot-paper. As a matter of fact, that gentleman stood about fifth in order of seniority in the bank with which he was connected; and yet he declined to associate himself with the Commonwealth Bank until he had received an offer of a salary about four times as large as that which he had previously enjoyed. Mr. Fisher has been understood to say that he was willing to pay as high a salary as ^10,000 a year to secure a suitable man for the post. Is it not more than passing strange that an offer of that seductive nature had to go begging for such a long period?- Evidently the Prime Minister recognised that, in order to give the institution even a reasonable chance of success, he had to place it under the control of a competent banker; but the competent bankers of Australia were not prepared to jeopardize their reputations by associating themselves with the Government scheme. Consequently, the Ministry had to accept the services of a man by no means in the front rank of bankers, and to pay him the highest salary that is being paid to any governmental officer in Australia. The gentleman who has control of the railways of New South Wales - an asset representing ^50,000,000 or .^60,000,000 - which have an enormous turnover, does not receive as large a salary as the Government have had to pay to Mr. Miller totake charge of this diminutive undertaking. Similarly, the Chief Justice of the High Court does not get the salary which the Government were compelled to pay before they could bribe a man to accept the position of Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. Surely no stronger criticism isnecessary than is supplied by the fact that a doubt exists in the minds of those whoare most competent to judge as to the future of this institution. It is curiousthat, after all we were told to the effect that the savings bank portion of theundertaking was to be the subsidiary part, that portion should be the first to> which Mr. Miller is directing his attention. The Government are evidently anxious todraw in the savings of the people, believing that the institution will have a betterchance of success with them than it will" have with the commercial section of thecommunity. In regard to the savings bank: aspect of this question, I can hardly understand how Labour representatives from myown State can view the proposal of the Government with equanimity. When welast discussed the matter there was a possibility of some arrangement being arrived' at which would prevent conflict between the State Government Savings Banks and," the Commonwealth Bank'. But that possibility has now disappeared, and the Commonwealth and the State Savings Banks are out to fight to a finish. That is the position to-day. From time to time we hear a good deal to the effect that the Labour party is the one political party which has a definite programme. But I would like to ask my Labour friends from New South Wales whether it is not a fact that they are equally pledged to support the State programme with the Federal programme? Are not the New South Wales Labour Leagues equally interested in both? I cannot understand how they can be consistent when they put Mr. Fisher into power to attack the New South Wales Government Savings Bank, seeing that they have previously declared for the State Government control of that institution. The State platform provides that the moneys in the State Savings Bank shall be available as advances to settlers in New South Wales. To my mind, the State Savings Banks will not be destroyed as a result of the advent of the Commonwealth Bank. The Governments of the different States - irrespective of whether they be . Liberal or Labour - have indicated that they are not prepared to have the funds of those institutions mopped up for Federal purposes. They are the sources from which they have hitherto financed farmers and settlers, and upon which they have drawn largely for the purpose -of carrying on developmental work. The result is that they are going to enter into competition with the Commonwealth Bank, and the effect of that competition must be prejudicial, both to those who lend and those who borrow. Competition must necessarily run up the rate of expense to their customers. It is doing that in New South Wales, in Victoria, and in the other States. In New South Wales, which previously enjoyed the use of the post-offices for Savings Bank purposes at a nominal figure, the Government to-day are either buying or renting other premises to enable those institutions to conduct their business. This additional expenditure must either come out of the pockets of the depositors or be met by charging a higher rate of interest to the borrower. These facts are beginning to sink into the minds of those who have hitherto done business with the State Savings Banks. The farmers are finding that it is harder for them to get accommodation, and that they have to pay more for it. Thus, notwithstanding the promise of the

Government to make money available to them more cheaply, the net result is that to-day it is dearer than it has been in Australia for many years.

Whilst dealing with this financial question, I should like to say a word in reference to the note issue. It was rather curious to hear those honorable senators who spoke yesterday claiming credit for the fact that there is .£4,500,000 in gold in the Treasury to meet the issue of £9,500,000 worth of notes, lt is not their fault that there is £4,500,000 by way of a gold reserve there. They fought hard to reduce that reserve, and it was only due to the vigorous action of the Opposition that that reserve was not considerably cut down. Honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber have never disputed the possibility of securing a sound Government paper currency. What we have held is that with such a currency there is always a danger that the Government will eat into the metallic reserve. We were told at the time the Notes Bill was under consideration that our predictions would be falsified. But within the short space of twelve months Mr. Fisher himself justified those predictions. He came down to Parliament with a proposal that the gold reserve should be reduced to 25 per cent. The fact that there are £4,500,000 in the form of a gold reserve in the Treasury is now being displayed by honorable senators opposite for spectacular purposes. But its presence there is not due either to the Government or their supporters. It is entirely due to the circumstance that a promise was wrung from the Prime Minister by the Opposition that he would not, until after the next election, reduce the gold reserve below 40 per cent. If the Ministry had been freed from that pledge, instead of there being £4,500,000 in gold in the Treasury, there would be something like £2,250,000. The danger is that whilst a metallic reserve of 25 per cent, may be quite sufficient for a normal issue of notes, that reserve is not sufficient when the issue becomes abnormal. The experience of Australia indicates that a note issue of £7,000,000 represents the high-water mark of our normal requirements. I mean to say that when Australia is running along smoothly, not under the influence of abounding prosperity such as we have recently enjoyed, nor under a depression caused by drought, but in normal times, a £7,000,000 note issue is about a safe issue. Mr. Fisher himself recognised that when the issue became abnormal it was necessary to make special provision to meet it, because the Commonwealth Notes Bill provided for a gold reserve of 25 per cent, up to a note issue of ,£7,000,000, and for a £1 for £1 reserve afterwards. Our note issue, has now reached £10,000,000, because, under the favorable seasons experienced, there has been more business to do, and more currency was required to do it. But what will happen if business slumps in the future? What will happen if, instead of £10,000,000 being required to carry on the ordinary commercial undertakings of Australia, £7,000,000 is again found to be sufficient? Obviously, the £3,000,000 worth of notes will then flow back to the Treasury. They represent the surplus notes, which are only required for surplus times. In such circumstances, Mr. Fisher would either have to break his own law or dishonour those notes. We all know that people do become scared the moment they feel they will experience a difficulty in converting the paper money which they hold. In the financial crisis which occurred in 1893 the people naturally wanted solid sovereigns in preference to paper money. They therefore presented their notes and demanded the gold. I repeat that there can be no danger in a Government note issue provided the Government can resist the temptation, to which they are already yielding, to tamper with a safe metallic reserve. However, the Ministry have to accept, as the net result of their financial operations, the undeniable fact that to-day people are paying more for their money, both in private and public concerns, than they have been charged hitherto. Cheap land is not obtainable, nor is cheap money.

I pass now to another promise with which the Government regaled the electors a little while ago. I wish to deal with their attitude towards trusts. This is one of the subjects which they have always trotted out for the edification of electors. They have led the people of this country to believe that trusts were squeezing the life-blood out of it, and that it was their special mission to curb and control them. From the manifesto which was issued by the Prime Minister, and which cannot be disputed, I extract the following -

Already we have in Australia the sugar monopoly, the tobacco combine, the coastal shipping; ring, the coal vend, and various minor business combinations of a character detrimental to the public.

I would like to direct attention to the fact that in that manifesto, which was signed by Mr. Fisher, but which was clearly written by Mr. Hughes, there is a declaration that we have four combines in this country acting prejudicially to the people. One of these was the Coal Vend. Now, one of the reasons why people are beginning to doubt the bona fides of the Government is that, not long before the issue of that manifesto, Mr. Hughes, over his own signature in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, himself declared that the Coal Vend was a public benefit, and marked a distinct advance in economic development. Is it any wonder that people are asking, " Where do the Government stand in regard to trusts ? " They have not denied that they have denounced trusts, but I invite any honorable senator opposite to point to a single instance in which they have attempted to curb a trust. This Government has been in office for two years, and has had full control of all the legal machinery of the Commonwealth. We have had in New South Wales a State Government with control of the legal machinery of that State. The members of that Government and their supporters have equally denounced trusts and combines as being responsible for the increased cost of living. One would think that if those who made those statements believed in them, the first thing they would do would be to pass some law, or to enforce some existing law, which would enable them to deal with those trusts and combines. But beyond denouncing them, neither this Government nor the New South Wales Government have clone a single thing to cope with them. Prosecutions, it is true, have taken place against the Coal Vend and the Shipping Combine, but in this connexion I direct attention to two facts. The first is that the Government could not avoid those prosecutions, seeing that the initial steps had been taken by their predecessors. The papers were in the office of the Attorney-General's Department when this Government took office, and they were unable to avoid the responsibility their predecessors had left them by initiating these proceedings. The answer to the question whether the present Government have been sincerely anxious to carry those prosecutions through is revealed by the remarkable and sinister attitude taken up in the Law Court by the legal gentleman instructed by the Government. Only the other day, after the Court had heard the charges against the trust and combine proved, an appeal was launched. The appeal was listed to come on for hearing, and the Coal Vend and Shipping Combine, by their legal representatives, asked for an adjournment. And, will any one credit the fact that the Government which professed to be anxious to deal with and stop the operation of these trusts acquiesced in that application for an adjournment ? The Chief Justice was himself so struck by this that he declined to accede to the application, because he said that, to grant the postponement asked for and acquiesced in by this trust-talking Government, would mean a delay of twelve months. I say that this was just what the Government wanted. They desired to be able to tie this thing up for twelve months in order to use the same bogy as they previously used, at the next Federal election and for the purposes of the next referenda. If they honestly desired to control and deal with trusts they would not have acquiesced in an appeal for an adjournment, which the Chief Justice himself declined to grant. There is surely something wrong when both parties to an application are in agreement, and the Chief Justice, after some stinging remarks, declines to accede to the doubly-supported request. The only inference is that this Government were not anxious to settle the matter by having the charges proved and dealt with in one way or another, but desired to hang it up that they might once more be able to use the bogy as they did twelve months ago, and even more successfully two years ago. I say that the Government, though pledged to destroy trusts, have by their action and inaction proved themselves to be the best friends the trusts ever had. I take another instance, the facts concerning which become absolutely sinister when we remember the public utterances of the Go"vernment and their supporters. I refer now to the way in which the Government have dealt with the inquiry into the sugar industry.' When the last Government were leaving office, they had communicated with certain gentlemen, and a Royal Commission was practically constituted. -There was some delay in the appointment, due to the fact that Mr. Justice Cohen declined, on the ground of ill-health, to act on the Commission. One would have thought that this Government, anxious to deal with trusts, would at once have taken up the work where their predecessors left it. But they never moved a single hand in the matter until they (vere forced to do so by the disastrous sugar strike in Queensland. Not until then did they move, and when they did move they appointed a Commission which I unhesitatingly say is a strong partisan body. This is no reflection upon the gentlemen who have been appointed, because their position in the life of the community, and their views> were known. The blame is with- the Government who appointed to the Commission a gentleman intimately connected with the Jam Combine, Mr. Anderson. He is either chairman or a director of the Jam. Combine, and is deeply interested in it. They appointed also a gentleman who had declared himself to be in entire sympathy with the ideas and platform of the Labour party, Mr. Hinchcliffe, the business manager of the Brisbane Worker. He is a member of the Labour party, pledged to the policy of nationalization of industries. They ap-" pointed as a third member of the Commission one of the defeated Labour candidates- - for whom they appear to have a very strong partiality - in the person of Mr. Shannon. This accounts for three out of" five members of the Commission, and when.- we have three out of five-

Senator St Ledger - The numbers arey up.

Senator MILLEN - The numbers are up, and it is of no use to go any further. If necessary, I could say a word or two about the other members of that Commission. Honorable senators know very well what has happened. The Government selected as the head of the Commission a Judge who has earned the unenviable distinction of being the first man in such a position to call a witness who came before him " a liar," as Mr. Justice Gordon did. A gentleman who exhibits such a want of control over his own feelings proves that he does not possess the judicial faculty, and on the Sugar Commission he has associated with him three men, two of whom are openly pledged to support a distinct policy, whilst the third is deeply interested in a Jam Combine, from the members of which we could not look for an impartial verdict as to what the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was doing. The Government have constituted a Commission, which I think I am entitled to say is a packed jury. This is what the Government have done in regard to this particular trust, and they moved in the matter after a delay of twelve months, and only after the industry had been thrown back by a strike, which I say would have been averted if the Commission had been appointed twelve months earlier.

I have said that the Government show a peculiar appreciation of defeated Labour candidates, and I propose to refer to' some appointments which have been made during the recess.

It has been the proud boast of people in Australia that hitherto we have avoided the system that prevails in America and is known as " The spoils to the victors." We can make that boast no longer. The Government have shown, not in one or two instances, but in several, that the key to open the door to our Public Service is not merit alone, but party services - assistance given to the party represented by the Government of the day.

Senator St Ledger - That is the corollary of preference to unionists.

Senator MILLEN - It is more than that ; it is carrying that principle to a more dangerous extent. I propose to pass in review some appointments which this Government have made The first is one to which I should not have referred if it had stood alone. It is an appointment made to the position of accountant to the Military College. Senator McGregor, when questioned on the matter last session, explained that the reason why no advertisement was inserted inviting applications for this position was that if that course had been followed there would have been a thousand applications sent in. The honorable senator asked us to consider all the trouble that would be involved in going through all these applications to select the best man. As a matter of fact, only six applications were considered, and these were put in because in some mysterious and unknown way somebody found out that a billet was to be filled. It is plain, therefore, on Senator McGregor's own showing, that 994 people were deprived of an opportunity, which undoubtedly they should have had, of applying for a public position. In some mysterious way the Government appointed a gentleman whose name I have forgotten, and no one else was given a chance to obtain the position. To come to more recent times, it was announced a little while ago that the Government intended, I believe at the request of the High Commissioner, to send Home a journalist to assist him in dealing with communications to the press and answering letters and comments detrimental to Australian interests. The Government, first of all, offered the position to a gentleman who, I believe, was employed on the Sydney Worker. One might have passed that if the matter rested there. The gentleman to whom the position was first offered declined it, and the Government then offered it to a gentleman employed on a newspaper published in the Labour interest in Adelaide. The inference is this :

Either the two men in Australia best qualified for that position happened by some strange coincidence to be employed on newspapers supporting the Government, or party favoritism was at work. I come to the next appointment - a more important one still. I refer to the appointment of Mr. Campbell to the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the resources of the various parts of the Empire with a view to promoting trade relations between them. This Commission is based upon the result of deliberations by the ' Imperial Conference, which was attended, about twelve months ago, by Mr Fisher and two of his colleagues. One would say that the man required to represent Australia on a Commission to inquire into the resources of the various parts of the Empire, with a view to promoting trade relations between them, should be a man of wide business experience and proved capacity. To appoint some one who had not that business knowledge and capacity would be to suggest that it was thought that the Commission would prove a wasted effort, and that the result of its deliberations would be but little profit either to Australia or to the rest of the Empire. Who was appointed? A gentleman named Campbell, a defeated Labour candidate at the last South Australian elections. I readily admit that the mere fact that a man has been a defeated Labour or any other candidate should not act as a bar to his applying for any public position that may be vacant, but, on the other hand, the mere fact that he was a defeated Labour candidate should not, and could not, constitute his sole qualification for that position. Mr. Campbell himself hastened to disclose in the course of a newspaper interview how illfitted he was for the office. Only a day- or two after his appointment had been announced, he was interviewed by representatives of the South Australian newspapers, and told them that as the Commission would not commence its duties for some time he was going to spend the intervening time in travelling about Australia in order to make himself familiar with its resources. This Commission was appointed for the purpose of ascertaining the resources of the various parts of the Empire. Was Australia so poverty-stricken in the matter of capable men at the time that it could not find a representative who knew the resources of his own country before proceeding to join the representatives of other parts of the Empire ? Mr. Campbell frankly admitted that he knew so little about the resources of the Commonwealth that before he took his place on that Commission he was going to hurry round the country in order to "cram " some information concerning it in the few weeks at his disposal. In view of that admission I am justified in believing that if he had not been a supporter of the Labour party - and a defeated one at that - his name would never have been heard of in this connexion. I come now to the appointment offered to Mr. Nielsen. Here we have a whole series of events which can be described only by the one word " sinister." Mr. Nielsen was a member of the State Labour party of New South Wales, and held office as Minister of Lands in the State Labour Government. He resigned because, as he frankly and openly stated, he thought that the Government were not carrying out the pledges they had given to the electors - that they were not carrying out the programme upon which they had been elected. Having resigned office, Mr. Nielsen removed from the Treasury bench, and those who know anything' of parliamentary matters will recognise that he was a mighty awkward man for the Government to have floating about the House. His very presence anywhere but on the Treasury bench was a reproach on the Government. One had only to look at him to be reminded that he had resigned from the Ministry because he charged them with a breach of the pledges they had given to the electors. The Government had therefore the strongest incentive to get rid of him, and just at this stage, by ways of which I have no knowledge, the friendly hand of the Federal Government appeared. Mr. Nielsen was offered by the Federal Government an appointment of Director of Lands, which he accepted for the time being. Meanwhile, he was sent to America on a mission. We know that there is in the State Constitution, as there is in that of the Commonwealth, a section which prevents a member of Parliament accepting an office of profit under the Crown. In other words, no member of Parliament can take a billet in the Public Service which carries with it a salary. Little trifles like Constitutions however, do not trouble some Governments when they want to get rid of an awkward member, and the result is that we find Mr. Nielsen, not openly and honestly receiving payment for services he is supposed to render in accepting a position in the Public

Service of the State, But, while retaining his position as a member of the State Parliament and drawing his salary of £300 a year, being sent away to Canada with a living allowance of £4 4s. per day, to carry out some more or less mythical undertaking there. This in itself is sufficient to set people thinking. But, in addition, at this stage the Federal Government came along and offered him the position of Director of Lands in the Northern Territory. Is he the only gentleman in Australia capable of discharging these duties, that two Labour Governments should be found competing for his services? At all events, he accepted the position offered him by the Federal Government, and later on declined it. It would be interesting to know the reason for his refusal. I do not know whether he gave the Government any, but if he did they should tell the Senate and the country what they were. I cannot conceive of his turning down the offer of this appointment, the salary relating to which, according to the newspapers, was brought up to his own terms, unless he offered the Government a reason for doing so, and the Senate is entitled to know the reason. I shall listen with interest to the Minister when he replies, to see if the information will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, let me predict that Mr. Nielsen will no longer stand as a candidate for any constituency - that he has already had offered, and secured to him by the State Government, although the announcement is not yet made, a permanent position carrying with it a very high emolument. Time alone will show whether or not my prediction is correct. Meantime I invite the Government to furnish the Senate with the reasons offered by Mr. Nielsen for declining the Federal appointment. I do not wish, however, that the attention of honorable senators should be diverted from my first point, namely, that the Government have shown a strong inclination to bestow the patronage in their hands upon men whose services they want to reward, or whose position they fear. In the newspapers recently we have seen an intimation as to further contemplated appointments by the Federal Government. The first of these is the appointment of Mr. Ryland, a defeated Labour candidate for the representation of Gympie at the recent Queensland election, to the position of Lands Director in the Northern Territory - the position which Mr. Nielsen declined to accept. I do not know how he stands as an authority on land matters, coming, as he does, from a mining township, but I venture to say that his name was never heard of anywhere else. I do not hesitate to affirm that Mr. Ryland would never have been in the running for the position but for the fact that he stood there in the interests of the party which has the bestowal of this office. Then we have the appointment of Dr. Jensen to an important position in the Northern Territory. I desire to ask whether this gentleman, who is going to the Northern Territory as a soil expert, or something of the sort, is identical with a gentleman of the same name who is a member of the executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales ? That is a question which the Minister can answer. Here we have no less than five appointments, all to important positions of considerable responsibility, to which public attention is necessarily directed, and all of which are open to the accusation of being purely and simply partisan appointments. There is another appointment which, perhaps, does not come within that category, but to which I must direct attention. The Government have appointed Mr. Clarke, of the Agricultural Department of New South Wales, Director of Agriculture in the Northern Territory. J forget for the moment the exact title of his office, but I think it is that which I have mentioned. I venture to say that Mr. Clarke, whilst he has proved an excellent office man, has shown no capacity - indeed, he has had no opportunity of snowing his capacity - and has had no experience to fit him for, the class of work that he is called upon to undertake. He was originally a clerk in the Agricultural Department of New South Wales, and has never had any practical or scientific training relating to lands or agriculture. At the time of his appointment he was editor of the Agricultural Gazette but the editorship of that journal does not involve the writing of articles, since all those published are supplied by the experts attached >o the agricultural colleges and farms, and by other authorities on the subjects dealt with. It simply involves the putting together of a certain quantity of matter and the handing of it to the printer. The whole of the literary work relating to the Gazette is done entirely outside what may be called the editor's office. Mr. Clarke was not called upon to edit the Agricultural Gazette in the ordinary sense in which editorship is understood. He had merely to see that a certain number of ai tides filled a certain space in each issue. This Government are courting disaster in sending to the Northern Territory, with all the problems that confront it, a gentleman who, whatever his office experience may be, has no practical or scientific knowledge of the matters with which he has to deal. All "these appointments, taken together, indicate an intention on the part of the Government to use the power which the electors gave them, not in the interests of the country, but for the furtherance of the interests of those who support them. It is interesting to note that this pernicious system, introduced and adopted by the Federal Government, has not stopped there. The Labour Government in 'New South Wales has been just as much remiss in this respect ; and, although we have no immediate concern with what is done by a State Government, it is, nevertheless, interesting and instructive to notice that this pernicious system of patronage has also marked the administration of the Labour Government in the State arena. There we have had the notorious case of a Ministry, for the first time in the history of constitutional government in this country, as far as I am aware, absolutely dispensing with the services of a member of the Water and Sewerage Board - Mr. Garrard - and placing upon it instead a gentleman whose only claim seems to be that- he had been chairman of Mr. McGowen's election committee. Yet another extraordinary appointment has been made. Mr. Griffith, a member of the Ministry, started State brickworks. It is not necessary for me to argue on the present occasion whether it is desirable or undesirable that State brickworks should be established, but I challenge contradiction when I say that, whether public or private brickworks be started, it is the first essential for their success that they shall be placed in the control of a man who is familiar with the business, and who has shown that he has the capacity to carry it to a successful issue. The gentleman appointed to that' position in New South Wales had never made a brick in his life, and had never had anything to do with' handling bricks, but he had been connected with Mr. James McGowen in relation to some building enterprises in Sydney. I am not going to extend these references, but the fact remains that, no sooner does this Government come into office, the members of which, while in Opposition, were extremely critical of the acts of their opponents, than they absolutely besmirch the purity of our public administration by using the power which the electors have given to them to further the interests of their party supporters, in the hope of, in that way, strengthening their political . position.

I wish now to refer to the claim which has been so freely made as to whose policy is being carried out to-day in connexion with the defence of this country. Originally, when these statements were made a year or two ago, I treated them as hardly worth answering; but, in view of the fact that honorable senators opposite are reiterating them, until I am afraid they have almost induced themselves to believe that they are accurate, it seems to me to be necessary to state the facts - to give day and date, chapter and verse - in order to show whose policy is being carried out to-day. Senator Gardiner actually used the term " audacious " in reference to the claim made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber in associating their party with the present defence scheme. Now, as a matter of fact, the Defence Act of 1909 was, as a Bill, introduced into the House of Representatives by Mr. Joseph Cook, and was introduced by myself in the Senate. That Bill became an Act, on being assented to by the Governor- General, on the 13th December, 1909; and if Senator Gardiner, or any one else, will turn to the 125th section, he will find that that provision, for the first time in Australia, introduced the principle of compulsory training.

Senator de Largie - Mr. Joseph Cook was an out-and-out opponent of that principle when Mr. Hughes contended for it in the -House of Representatives.

Senator MILLEN - And the Labour party, at another time, voted for cutting down the Defence Estimates by , £200,000, and declared that the defence expenditure of this country ought not to exceed £600,000.

Senator Gardiner - Mr. Joseph Cook voted for that.

Senator MILLEN - He did not; that was one of the assertions for which, I believe, Mr. Watson was responsible. If one turns to a statement published under Mr. Watson's authority in a Sydney journal, it will be found that there were at the time referred to two propositions to reduce the Defence Estimates, one by £200,000, and another by £130,000. The Government -assented to the £130,000 reduction, and Mr. Cook supported that. This instance only shows how easy it is to take a division list from Hansard and twist and turn about its meaning.

Senator Gardiner - I would rather take Chris. Watson's word than that of Mr. Cook, . or of the honorable senator either.

Senator MILLEN - It is immaterial whose word the honorable senator prefers to take. I am not appealing to his credulity, but to his common sense. Let him turn to Hansard, where he will read what occurred, and then let him tell us whether he believes Mr. Watson's word or mine on this matter. As I have said, the Defence Act was passed in December, 1909. That Act embodied the principle of compulsory training up to the age of twenty. Mr. Cook, in introducing the measure in another place, announced that the Government of the day had invited the Imperial authorities to send out an officer to advise us in Australia. They sent out Lord Kitchener, and Mr. Cook, in announcing his policy, said that if Lord Kitchener came, and, in reporting, advised that we should carry our training period beyond that age, he pledged himself and his Government to follow Lord Kitchener's advice. That was the attitude of the Fusion Government. Yef Senator Pearce is going about this country pretending that he is the author of this system, knowing full well that it was introduced by his predecessor. I say now, as I said yesterday by way of interjection, that if there had never been a Fisher Government, and if there had never been a Senator Pearce as. Minister of Defence, and the Fusion Government had remained in office, every part of the Defence policy now in operation would have been working. It was all provided for in the Defence Act passed in 1909. What was provided for in the Bill subsequently introduced by Senator Pearce, was as to what shall happen in regard to compulsory training after 19 15. The system up to that date was already provided for upon the statute-book. Senator Pearce's Bill provided for a longer period of compulsory training after 1915. That means to say, that his Bill need not have been passed until just before 1915. It is inoperative to-day, and only commences to operate when the Act passed at the instance of Mr. Joseph Cook will have completed its allotted work. Senator Pearce may say that he introduced his scheme prior to 1909, and he has put forward claims on that account. It is unfortunate for him that he did. Senator

Pearce put forward the same scheme as Mr. Fisher did at Gympie in the Ministerial speech. He and his leader both made it clear that their object was to make the period of training from eighteen years to twenty-one compulsory, and that it was to be voluntary training up to the age of thirty years. His principal claim was as to the rates which are being paid to-day. Yet, his scheme provided for 10s. a week up to nineteen years of age, Mr. Fisher, and later on Senator Pearce, put forward that proposal of 10s. per week up to nineteen years of age, and 12s. 6s. per week after. To now say that the minimum of 3s. and 4s. a day, and 8s. a day at the later age, was part of their scheme is to tax the credulity of honorable senators far too much. There is another way of testing the claim that is now being made by the Labour party with reference to the compulsory training scheme. Mr. Fisher declared that the cost of the system would be £1,200,000 per annum, and that its maximum cost would not exceed £1,400,000. What is the cost of the scheme that is now being carried out? One has only to turn to the figures to see. that one of two things has happened. Either the scheme now in operation is not the scheme of the Fisher Government, or there has been gross extravagance in connexion with the expenditure of public money, because, as a matter of fact, we are spending much more than Mr. Fisher declared to be the maximum cost of his scheme. Take another factor about which we hear a good deal - the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. What had the Labour' party to do with that? It was Sir Thomas Ewing, when Minister of Defence, who selected the site, and it was Mr. Joseph Cook who accepted the tenders for the supply of the plant. This Government has done nothing more than pay out the money on account of requirements which followed from the decisions of the present Minister's predecessors. It was the same with the Cordite Factory. Sir Thomas Ewing had arranged and fixed all that. I should like to ask Labour senators what part of the defence scheme they do claim. They have been saying that it is all theirs, but I ask them now to mention one thing which is their own. It is not compulsory training; that was put on the statute-book by the Deakin-Cook Administration. It is not the present rates of pay ; the Labour party's scheme was 10s. . a week. It is not the creation of the Small

Arms Factory; that was done by Sir Thomas Ewing and Mr. Cook. It is not the Cordite Factory; with that they had nothing to do.

Now let us turn to the naval side, for they claim also that that is Labour's policy. Here, fortunately, I can quote from Imperial records to show whose policy it is. At Gympie Mr. Fisher unfolded his scheme. It consisted of twenty-three vessels - nineteen torpedo boats and four destroyers. Now, let us see what the Imperial Conference said upon the Fisher scheme. I quote from this report, because, with audacious recklessness, our friends affirm that the Imperial authorities approved of their scheme. They did nothing of the kind. Here - is what they did say -

Under certain conditions the establishment of local defence flotillas, consisting of torpedo craft and submarines, might be of assistance in time of war to the operations of the fleet, but such flotillas cannot co-operate on the high seas in the wider duties of protection of trade and preventing attacks from hostile cruisers and squadrons. ... A scheme limited to torpedo craft would not in itself, moreover, be a good means of gradually developing a self-contained fleet capable of both offence and defence. Unless a naval force - whatever its size - complies with this condition it can never take its proper place in the organization of an Imperial NaVy.

They then go on to say -

The Fleet unit to be aimed at should, therefore, in the opinion of the Admiralty, consist at least of the following : - i armoured cruiser (new Indomitable class, which is of the Dreadnought type), 3 unarmoured cruisers (Bristol class), 6 destroyers, 3 submarines.

There is the clear opinion, plainly expressed, of the Imperial authorities that the coastal flotilla might be of use to a fleet if there was a fleet about, but by itself would be practically useless, and instead of a flotilla of twenty-three vessels, which was Mr. Fisher's policy, they recommend thirteen vessels, including an armoured cruiser, three unarmoured cruisers, and the balance made up of smaller vessels. As a great deal hasbeen said about a Dreadnought, and the term seems to amuse my honorable friends opposite, let me give them one more quotation -

As the armoured cruiser is the essential part of the Fleet unit, it is important that an Indomitable of the Dreadnought type should be the first vessel to be built in commencing the formation of a Fleet unit.

The Government claim it as their scheme. Wherever did they provide for a Dreadnought, which the Imperial authorities said should be the first' ship to be built? It was the essential part of the unit, and they turned down the essential part, and in its place substituted this little tin-pot navy, this mosquito fleet. Now they have the audacity to turn round and claim that the recommendation of the Imperial authorities is their policy, and not that of their opponents. In connexion with the Navy, however, they have all the responsibility and credit for not carrying out the policy which they are claiming as their own. Their speakers who go about this country talk about the Navy they have built out of revenue. Where is the Navy ? They have been in office now two years, and have been going about the country denouncing their predecessors for what they proposed to do. They say, "We have built a Navy out of revenue." Again, I ask, "Where is the Navy?" I will tell them what ought to have been in existence to-day, and would have been in existence if the Government had shown ordinary business capacity. In the same document the Admiralty set out this-

The construction of the armoured cruiser should be undertaken as soon as possible, and the remaining vessels should be constructed under conditions which would ensure their completion, as nearly as possible, simultaneously with the completion and readiness for service of the armoured cruiser, which, it is understood, would be in about 2^ years.

That was written three years ago. But how dp we stand with regard to all those smaller vessels which this Government undertook to get constructed, and which, according to that suggestion, and according to common sense, should all be completed about the one time ? I see by a recent paper that the Government, after a great deal of struggle and effort, have managed to complete a contract with the New South Wales Labour Government for the building, in twenty-two months' time, of the cruiser Brisbane and the destroyers which ought to be completed now. According to this original proposal, which the Government now claim to be their policy, the time for those vessels to be completed is up, and yet we find they are only now letting a contract to build, in twenty-two months, vessels which to-day ought to be sailing over the waters around, our coasts. I want to make them a present of all the credit that they can see in having so managed matters that there is this unconscionable delay in the construction of the fleet.

I should like to say a few words upon one of our big national problems - the Northern Territory. I do not propose to go into the question in any detail now, because one would naturally like to know a little more of what the Go vernment are thinking of doing. So far they have done practically nothing, except delay. It is many months now since everybody knew that the Territory was going topass into the hands of the National Government. It is many months since the Government had an opportunity of preparing for the work which they knew was awaiting them, and it is many months since the absolute legal control of the Territory passed to us. Yet, to-day, I defy any one to show anything which the Government have done to help forward the practical settlement of the Territory, or the practical solution of the difficulties that are there.

Senator Blakey - If the honorable senator had gone there, he would have seen for himself what has been done.

Senator MILLEN - I should have seen, that the Government had sent a number of legislators up there, who have brought back very divergent reports. The report of Mr. Ozanne, M.P., does not square with that of Senator McDougall. In fact, there is a very wide difference between them. I do not need to go there to know whether or not the Government are pressing forward the solution of this big national difficulty with some expedition, and in the right direction. If we look over the history of our own anc? other nations, we shall find that always one of two methods has been adopted for colonizing and settling new territories. There has been the British method of" inviting the people to come in and solve the problem for themselves, and there has been the continental method of putting in an army of officials to rule and control them. We know that the only method of colonization which has been successful has been the British method. The other has invariably failed; yet the Government are evidently bent on following the failures of which Germany, France, and other European nations have furnished us with so many evidences. They seem to think they will settle the country by sending up Government officials, who are no sooner there than they come back again. If they are going to trifle with the matter in this way, and expect to people the country by manning it with an army of public functionaries, whose business it is to direct the settlers what to do when they do come, they are courting a ghastly failure. Their duty was at the earliest moment to have developed a- sound land policy, to throw the lands of the country open, and to invite on the most advantageous terms possible any settlers throughout Australia, or from other parts of the world, to come in, and take up the

Territory, but they have done nothing but announce the fact that they are adopting the leasehold system. When we know the difficult struggle that is taking place down here, and that is going to end, in my judgment, in favour of the freehold system, we may be perfectly certain that there will never be any successful and contented settlement in the Northern Territory, unless the people whom we ask to go there and make their homes there, are assured that, with reasonable conditions, they will be able to claim those homes as their own. I was not a little amused by the statement of the Minister of External Affairs, on his return from the Territory, that he hopes that the Australian aboriginals there will be of some service in its development. His great "white hope" is the black man, after all ! With the kindest feelings towards the aboriginals, I say that if we have to wait until we get substantial and practical assistance from them, we shall have to write failure across that part of Australia.

Last session I drew attention to what I regarded as likely to become a great public evil, and to create public scandal, namely, the system under which private lands are resumed for Commonwealth purposes. I attack the system though I do not say that anything undesirable has yet happened under it. I understand that recently the Minister of Home Affairs carried through a resumption of land in Western Australia costing nearly £200,000. Under the State Governments, such resumptions take place in accordance with an open procedure provided for by Parliament; here they are made by the Minister behind the closed doors of his office, Parliament merely footing the bill. Although, hitherto, the best bargains may have been made for the Commonwealth, the system lends itself to suspicion, and would not be tolerated 'under any other Government. Should the Minister adhere to it, and subsequently be unfortunate enough to make a bad bargain, he will have only himself to blame if the public regard it, not as a mistake of judgment, but as something much worse. He adheres to the present system against public sentiment, and, I believe, in opposition to the recommendations of his officers, because I do not think any one would say that he acts wisely in carrying out these resumptions privately.

In the course of my speech I have run over a lot of ground, but we are now debating a motion which is made to afford opportunities for criticism of the Administration. I commenced by saying that, in my judgment, public opinion is swinging away from the Labour party, and 1 have endeavoured to trace some of the reasons for this. The militant trade unionists are probably as solid as ever, but Labour won the last election by a sympathetic unattached vote which is now falling away. The prediction of Senator Givens eighteen months ago, that a Labour Government would not live long, and the briefer and more emphatic statement of the honorable member for Bourke, that the Labour party is "marching to its Sedan," are, in my opinion, about to be realized. I say so, not for the purposes of a political address, but because I cannot help recognising the fact. In view of the many matters to which I have referred, the people are looking for an opportunity to reinstate a Liberal Administration, believing that only in that way will they obtain justice in legislation, and purity in administration.

Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.

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