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Thursday, 3 October 1912

Senator BLAKEY (Victoria) .- I am pleased to know that this measure will soon be the law of the land. Considering that but a few weeks have elapsed since its introduction was first mooted by the Prime Minister, it is most interesting to note the volte face which has been executed by Senators McColl and St. Ledger.

Senator McColl - I have not said a word yet.

Senator BLAKEY - When the Bill was first brought forward by the Prime Minister, there was a howl, a whoop, and a shriek from those so-called ladies like Lady Way who belong to the Women's " Fashionable" League. Apparently, Senators St. Ledger and McColl were anxious to ascertain how the cat jumped, and, accordingly, they fell into line with those persons who uttered these shrieks According to the press reports of their addresses in the country, they denounced the Bill in the most scathing terms.

Senator St Ledger - I did not wait for an utterance from anybody.

Senator BLAKEY - In another place, the members of the Opposition had not the moral courage to call for a division upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I think that the same thing may happen in this Chamber. Before the Opposition held a caucus meeting last week, when it was decided to support the measure

Senator McColl - I was not present at any caucus meeting.

Senator BLAKEY - Nevertheless, the honorable senator is bound by its decision. He is reported as having said, in a speech delivered in the country, that the Bill represented a dirty, low-down, political dodge.

Senator McColl - I did not say " dirty."

Senator BLAKEY - I confess that the honorable senator is a past-master in the art of political dodgery, so that he can speak on that aspect of the matter with some degree of authority. I hold in my hand what is apparently a verbatim report of certain statements which were made by Senator St. Ledger at a public meeting that was held in the western portion of this State. In referring to the maternity allowance, he said-

When speaking in Ballarat about three weeks ago he characterized the maternity bonus, so far as they knew its administration and policy, as a sop to profligacy, both in the moral and economic sense. He had weighed his words, as every one could see and hear, before he said them again that' night. He now deliberately and solemnly, and with a sense of all the responsibility and conclusions that might attach to it, repeated again, so far as they knew of the policy of that Bill it was a sop to profligacy in the moral and economic sense. The Prime Minister and his colleagues glorified in the utterance that in the distribution of that bonus the question of legitimacy or illegitimacy would not be taken into consideration. That was where the sop to profligacy came in.

Senator St Ledger - That report is absolutely correct.

Senator BLAKEY - I am very pleased that the Government have not attempted to differentiate between legitimate and socalled illegitimate children. We should be doing a wrong to the women of the Commonwealth if we sought to draw a dividing line between those who have been unfortunate enough to become mothers before they are married and those who have been differently placed.

Senator Chataway - Does the honorable senator really mean that?

Senator BLAKEY - I do. I hope that honorable senators opposite will not be so cruel as to deny to the women who are most in need of assistance the allowance which is provided for in this Bill. The statements of certain opponents of the measure have been backed up by the Council of Churches, by those who are supposed to stand up for Christianity - by disciples of the carpenter of Nazareth, who took Mary Magdalene into his confidence-

Senator Chataway - Is the honorable senator prepared to base his whole argument on those premises?

Senator BLAKEY - I am endeavouring to deal with the statements which have been made on public platforms by Senators

McColl and St. Ledger. Apparently, they spoke before they had fully weighed their words.

Senator St Ledger - I had weighed my words, and I will repeat them.

Senator BLAKEY - I hope that the opponents of the Bill will have the temerity to divide the Senate upon it. If so, they are apparently going in opposition to their colleagues in another' place.

Senator Chataway - Does my honorable friend really believe that he stands in the same position as Jesus Christ?

The PRESIDENT - Order !

Senator Chataway - Why should I not say that?

Senator BLAKEY - I am not by any means the Simon Pure of the Senate. From the experience I have gained as a man of the world, I know that it is absolutely essential that this allowance should be given to the sisters of the submerged tenth. Yet, if we can accept the press report of a deputation to the Prime Minister from the Council of Churches, we find this legislation denounced by whited sepulchres. These men, who are supposed to be disciples of the doctrines taught by the Founder of Christianity, are a disgraceful laughing stock for the broad-minded people of the Commonwealth. When we find a man such as Professor Adam, or a so-called reverend gentleman like Worrall, who is not a Christian, but a churchman, whose god is more the god of Mammon, who chases the three-penny bits more than anything else; when we find gentlemen who are supposed to be acting in the interests

Df humanity- and Christianity, and to be uplifting the submerged brothers and sisters who have fallen in the battle of life, going to the Prime Minister, and smugly and glibly talking with their tongues in their cheek, it is no wonder that the proletariat of the Commonwealth do not take any notice of them, or the statements that they make in connexion with the doctrines of Christ and Christianity.

Senator Chataway - We are not talking of the doctrines of Christ.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator Blakey is addressing the Chamber, and has a right to be heard without interruption.

Senator BLAKEY - I know quite well what I am saying on this question. I am speaking clearly and deliberately, knowing that my remarks will be recorded in Hansard, and in the press of this State. The men who approached the Prime Minister, and made utterances such as

Professor Adam is reported to have made, when he alluded to the woman who had fallen as " that kind of woman," are a disgrace to the so-called Christianity of the twentieth century. It is a pity that these men, who designate themselves representatives of the Council of Churches, should be so lacking in Christianity, if not in Churchianity, that they should make these statements in cold blood. I am glad to know from the reports in the daily press that these gentlemen, who call themselves the mouthpieces of the Council of Churches, did not represent many of the great Christian or ecclesiastical organizations of the State. Apparently, there were at the deputation no representatives of the Anglican Church or the Catholic Church. I notice that the Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church have repudiated the representations that were made to the Prime Minister by that deputation last month. There is another argument why this bonus should be granted indiscriminately to women, whether married or not. In Victoria, and I think in the other States, there is no restriction placed upon the education of a child when it has attained the age when, under the law, it is necessary that it should go to a State school. We find that the education laws do not place any bar or restriction upon the education of a child, whether it be illegitimate or legitimate. Why, then, should any restriction be placed upon a mother who brings a child into the world out of wedlock ? Why should any restriction be placed upon any woman who has to suffer the same pains, pangs, and penalties, whether married or single? A few moments ago, Senator Needham read an extract, as published in the Age, from a statement made by Lady Way at the School Children's Council. She used the same old gag that has been the stockintrade of honorable senators on the other, side since the inception of the Labour party -

There could be little doubt that the marriage tie would be greatly weakened, and the sanctity of the home life would be invaded.

Honorable senators on this side have been used to this parrot-cry. We know quite well that it is one of the arguments which are used throughout the Commonwealth. Yet. we find an individual - I could not say a woman - who is addressed by the title of Lady, saying that, if this maternity bonus is enacted, there is no doubt that the marriage tie will be greatly weakened, and the sanctity of the home will be invaded. That has been the battle-cry of the Jezebels of the Australian Women's " Fashionable" League since 1901. It is their battle-cry to-day.

Senator Chataway - It has been said that every woman of genius in the history of the world has been a prostitute.

Senator BLAKEY - I am not dealing with statements made by any person unless they are strictly apropos to the Bill. I am dealing with statements which appeared in the newspapers from so-called leaders of society, who are trying to influence the public mind in a particular direction. We find this so-called lady trying to inflame the minds of the good mothers, the .good daughters, and the good sisters, of the Commonwealth, and to lead them to believe that, if this Government has the audacity to bring in or put through this legislation, whereby a Magdalene will benefit exactly the same as a woman who has been married, there is something strictly wrong. I wish to raise my voice in protest against that suggestion. It is a pity that, in this enlightened community, there should be found so-called disciples of Christianity who are advocating that a ban should be placed on the Scarlet She ; that a woman who has sinned and suffered should be placed as something apart, and not allowed to participate in the benefits that may fall to the lot of her more- favoured sisters.

Senator St Ledger - May I ask who advanced that proposition against her?

Senator BLAKEY - It was advanced by some of the principal speakers at the deputation from the self-designated Council of Churches, who waited upon the Prime Minister. It was also, in effect, advanced by Senator St. Ledger when he said that this allowance was nothing more or less than a sop to profligacy.

Senator St Ledger - I did not say that.

Senator Chataway - He is not telling the truth.

The PRESIDENT - Order f I must ask Senator Chataway to withdraw his interjection that Senator Blakey was not telling the truth.

Senator Chataway - I withdraw it, sir. I still hold my opinion on the point.

The PRESIDENT - Order I The honorable senator must withdraw the statement unconditionally.

Senator Chataway - I withdraw it unconditionally. It will come in useful another time.

Senator BLAKEY - Before Senator Chataway was so properly called to order for making an unseemly interjection, Senator St. Ledger stated that he had never made the statement that the maternity allowance was a sop to profligacy.

Senator St Ledger - No; you are not quoting me correctly.

Senator BLAKEY - I read the whole of the statement which the honorable senator made at Hamilton, on the 2nd August.

Senator St Ledger - Yes, but that is not quite correct.

Senator BLAKEY - And which he accepted as being accurate. He now says, " I never made that statement." I do not want to be tedious.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - He said more. He said that he gloried in the fact.

Senator BLAKEY - I hope that Senator St. Ledger will accept the full responsibility of his words. Senator McColl has characterized this measure as " a low-down political dodge." The logical sequence of these remarks is that these honorable senators cannot honestly vote for a Bill of this kind. I do not think that they are game to oppose its passage. When they made these statements early in August, when they got out under the aegis of the Women's " Fashionable " League, screeched and raved on the platform, and denounced this proposal with all those scathing terms of which they are past-masters and experts, they did not know that a wave of public opinion was going to arise in favour of the Bill. I am glad to say that public opinion is strongly in favour of the grant of this allowance, because there are many men, and infinitely more women, who know that it will be a means of salvation and succour in the hour of direst need.

Senator Vardon - Oh, rubbish.

Senator BLAKEY - It is not rubbish.

Senator Vardon - How do you know that it is not?

Senator BLAKEY - I may not know from personal experience, but from conversations with others, and from my knowledge of what is going on in the under world, I know that it will not be rubbish to these poor unfortunate women who, whether married or single, are going to receive some assistance to get the necessaries of life at the time when they are linking one generation to another. Yet we find the president of the Liberal League of South

Australia interjecting that it is rubbish, that these women do not want the assistance.

Senator Vardon - I say so again.

Senator BLAKEY - They do want the money, and I trust that the Labour party will pass more legislation in this direction. I would sooner vote to spend . £400,000 or£500,000 a year under a Maternity Bonus Bill than vote to spend £2,000,000 or , £3,000,000 on defence.

Senator Needham - Maternity allowance.

Senator BLAKEY - The interjection reminds me of the fact that the moment this idea was promulgated there was a cry of " A Baby Bonus Bill." It is nothing of the kind, because, as has been pointed out, the Bill, which was introduced in another place, is a Maternity Allowance Bill. It is a maternity allowance, not a bonus, to a woman at the time when she needs assistance, whether it be financial or otherwise. I feel pretty sure that this Bill - one of the most humane measures which have been introduced in this session - will be carried without a division. I. think that I can throw down the gauntlet to honorable senators on the other side, and say that, although they may stand up here and say, as was said in another place, that they do not favour this measure, because it does not embrace the question of national insurance, and those various questions which they are so capable of craftily embodying in amendments, they will not be game, knowing what the opinion of the people is to-day, to oppose the measure. Even if Senator McColl and Senator St. Ledger, under the domination of their party, may have to eat their own words, they know perfectly well that they will be losing votes if they oppose the measure. Apparently, honorable senators opposite have given the matter very careful consideration. They know perfectly well that they dare not, as Senator McColl has done, denounce this Bill as a " dirty dodge to catch votes."

Senator McColl - Be careful.

Senator BLAKEY - Well, perhaps what he said was a " low-down political dodge."

Senator Mccoll - That is right; I stand to everythingI said.

Senator BLAKEY - I fail to see much distinction between " dirty " and " low down." If this is a " low-down dodge to catch votes," why are honorable senators opposite prepared to support it? As a matter of fact, there is no ulterior motive behind this Bill. The whole of the legislation of the Labour party has been directed towards doing something for the benefit of suffering humanity.

Senator Chataway - " Suffering humanity !" That is a nice phrase !

Senator BLAKEY - Of course, we know that the honorable senator does not care for suffering humanity. He stands for black labour every time. At all events, honorable senators opposite are satisfied by this time that the measure is in accordance with the cherished principles and wishes of the great majority of the people of this country. I am glad to know that the trend of Australian thought is working in the direction of assisting those who need it, and. of raising taxation from those who can best afford to pay it, with the object of assisting in the enactment of humane legislation.

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