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Wednesday, 11 December 1912


Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - We have six Bills before us - a very fair number to deal with at once - and I am very pleased to have a few words to say upon them. There is, I admit, little to be said after the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I should have preferred to hear more speeches from the Government side before being called upon to speak, but as certain arrangements have been made, I am prepared to step into the breach now. We ought to hark back a little, and reflect what the people of the Commonwealth would have s'aid before the initiation of Federation if we had asked for the powers that are now asked for in these Bills. I can remember the great fight that we had when Federation was carried, and I believe that if those powers had been asked for then, we should not have had a Federal Parliament sitting to-day. Why are we asked to give these increased powers to the Commonwealth Parliament? Simply because members of the Government side have reached a cul de sac. They say they can go no further, unless they get extended powers. The people of the country have not asked for those powers. A little over twelve months ago, when they were asked to vote upon this question, they distinctly said, by the largest majority ever recorded in Australia, that they would refuse 'to grant such powers. Who has asked for them? The gentlemen occupying the Treasury benches. I do not believe in giving these powers to any Federal Parliament, for I am- assured - and have thorough belief in the assurance - that the State Parliaments have full powers to meet all that is being asked for. The State Parliaments have full power to deal with any of these matters that arise within any of their own States. A great many people, rightly or wrongly, believe that the object aimed at in asking for these powers is Unification. Several members of Parliament in both Houses on the Government side have pledged themselves to Unification. The Government, however, are not prepared to propose it openly, although they want to get it by side issues. There are gentlemen connected with the Labour party who hold exactly the same opinion as members on this side with regard to these proposals. What does Mr. McGowen, the Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales say -

These amendments are fraught with grave possibilities, and, if carried, will result in endless confusion and conflict between the States and Federal Parliament.

That is the opinion of a gentleman who not long ago was held in great esteem by the Labour party in New South Wales.


Senator Rae - He is still.


Senator SAYERS - I have heard others say that he is not, and that they can do without him now. I do not know whether they can or not, but he holds the highest position in his State, and surely his opinions are worth listening to. He further says -

I object to these Federal Referenda, because I do not believe that the industrial powers can be administered properly by the Federal Government.

Is not that a valuable admission to come from a gentleman occupying Mr. McGowen's position? If he believes that, it is allowable for honorable senators on this side to believe it also, though it is equally allowable for honorable senators opposite to disbelieve it. Mr. McGowen likewise said -

Granting the powers asked for will mean that all industrial laws now operating in the States will pass to the Federal Administration. What is demanded is too sweeping.

I am of the same opinion. The States themselves are quite competent to deal with these matters when difficulties arise. If the day should come when it is discovered that the States are not competent to deal with them, it will be ample time to give to this Parliament extended powers. Senator Millen referred to a case that has been before the Courts in which the Government failed. But he showed that if the Government had proceeded under another Act of Parliament they would probably have been successful. They preferred to proceed under an Act six years old. If there is any blame to be attached to any one for what occurred, it lies at the door of the Government, because they did not proceed under the1910 Act. Passing from that point, I may refer to what has been said by Mr. Justice Higgins. Hesaid, dealing with a proposition in regard to the exercise by the Federal Parliament of extended powers -

If the argument for the Crown is right, the results are certainly extraordinarily big with confusion. If it is right, the Federal Parliament is in a position to frame a new system of libel laws applicable to newspapers owned by corporations, while the State law of libel would, have to remain applicable to newspapers owned by individuals. If it is right, the Federal Parliament is competent to enact licensing Acts, creating a new scheme of administration and of offences applicable only to hotels belonging to corporations.

If it is right, the Federal Parliament can enact that no officer of a corporation shall be an Atheist or a Baptist, or that all must be teetotallers. If it is right, the Federal Parliament can repeal the Statute of Frauds for contracts of a corporation, or may make some new Statute of Limitations applicable only to corporations.

In that passage Mr. Justice Higgins showed the confusion that will result by placing these powers in the hands of the Commonwealth. Laws will be passed by the State and Federal Parliaments which will come into conflict.


Senator Guthrie - The Federal laws must prevail.


Senator SAYERS - Honorable senators opposite want to take away from the States the right to make theselaws.


Senator Guthrie - There will be no conflict then.


Senator SAYERS - There will be a conflict, because there are State laws already in operation with which the new Federal laws will conflict. When Federation was accomplished, certain powers were intrusted to the Federal Parliament. Other powers were left to the State Parliaments. Each authority was supreme within its own ambit. It is now urged that the State Parliaments have not exercised the powers left to them. Butno proof has been given. I am assured, on very good authority, that the State Governments are able to exercise the powers effectively under State laws. The Federal Parliament has not been in all cases too successful with respect to those Departments which have been transferred to its control. It is true that in regard to defence we have done pretty well. Before Federation, each. State had a small pettifogging Army and Navy. The people of Australia desired that defence should be under the direction of the central Government. We have now established an Army and a Navy, and: I hope that in a short time we shall derive very good results from them. But we certainly have not been so successful in other directions. In the Post and Telegraph Department matters have not been proceeding too well. Day after day, and month after month, the officers of that Department have expressed their dissatisfaction with Commonwealth rule.


Senator Ready - The condition of things is a good deal better than it was in the State days.


Senator SAYERS - That is questionable. Certainly, the Post Office is not a happy family at present. Officers have told me that they are in a worse condition now than they were under State control.


Senator Ready - In Queensland?


Senator SAYERS - Yes. When they complain, very little attention is paid to their grievances. They are simply referred to the Arbitration Court. If we are to assume further powers, we should first prove to the people of Australia that we have exercised well and wisely the powers we already have. Some men in the Service state that their earnings were comparatively higher before Federation than they are to-day. They make out a very good case. They say that the extra cost of living, since we passed the last Tariff, means that they are worse off than they were before. Their increases of salary have not been commensurate with the rise in the price of commodities. We hear frequent cries about the condition of the working men. Surely the postal officials are working men, even though they do not work with pick and shovel. Yet we ignore their complaints, and say that if they do not like their treatment they can go to the Arbitration Court. Surely we should put our own house in order before we attempt to interfere with the functions of the States. References are continually made to the state of affairs existing in America. America is, of course, a country of great things. We are told, " Look at what is occurring in America under the rule of the trusts ; do not let them occur in Australia." I am not frightened of anything of the kind occurring in this country. Australia has been settled practically entirely by British people. In America, I suppose, for every one springing from the British-speaking race ten have sprung from other nationalities. Tens of thousands of immigrants to that country are unable to speak English. Politically they are controlled by " bosses." Their votes are manipulated in blocks. They do not understand the politics of the country. Our people, however, are wide awake. If they saw that anything was occurring here such as has sprung up in America, they would scotch it very quickly. Another factor in American politics to account for the great combines which have sprung up in the country is the enormous Tariff wall. I believe in Protection, but not in prohibition ; and that is practically what they have in the United States of America. Trusts and combines flourish under very high Protection. Even in this country, when the Tariff was last amended, a certain section secured Protection to the extent of nearly 50 per cent. They immediately formed a combine, and about halfadozen men, whose names I could mention if I chose, made great fortunes. They shut out all competition. It is by such means that combines are created ; and it is only in countries like America, or where the Tariff is very high, that combines can exist. I do not believe that they will ever flourish to any extent in this country.


Senator Rae - There are a few combines in Free Trade England.


Senator SAYERS - I should like the honorable senator to mention them. I have heard something about a combine in the sewing cotton industry, which, I believe, was started by four or five Paisley weavers. There is no system of protec tion in the Old Country, and any person is at liberty to start any industry there. I do not see how, under the circumstances, there can be said to be combines in England. People have the same opportunities also in Australia to carry on any industries which they think they will be able to operate successfully. I may at this stage be permitted to refer to the attitude adopted by the Labour party to the Coal Vend. At the time I entered the Senate some important speeches dealing with this matter were made by Mr. Watson, a former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, the present member for Newcastle, and other leading members of the Labour party. They claimed that the Coal Vend, instead of being a detrimental combination, operated for the benefit of the miners of Newcastle. The various coal mine owners were cutting each other's throats in competing for the coal trade. The wages of the miners were reduced to the lowest possible rate until an agreement was come to by the mineowners to sell coal only at a certain price. An arrangement was made at the same time to increase the wages of the miners. The combination of the mine-owners was therefore at once beneficial to themselves and to the miners; but we hear now that the Coal Vend is not a beneficent combine. This indicates a considerable change in the views of members of the Labour party. Why should the miners of Newcastle be asked to work for 5s. or 6s. a day merely because the mine-owners were competing against each other? Where it can be shown that by combination those engaged in a particular industry can avoid competition amongst themselves, and benefit thousands of employes, without doing any material injury to the public, how can any one contend that such combinations are injurious to the interests of the Commonwealth ? I have before me a short statement made by Senator Henderson on the subject of the Coal Vend. He said -

It has materially increased the selling price of coal, and also the wages of the men who produce it. The coal combine has done much good service up to the present time.


Senator Henderson - I say the same thing now.


Senator SAYERS - And I agree with the statement which the honorable senator made. Speaking in1906, Mr. Watson said -

We should take care that nothing is done to prevent such legitimate combination amongst the coal mine-owners as may enable them to get a fair profit on the capital they have invested, and Insure fair wages to their employes.

I agree with that statement also.


Senator Henderson - That is quite right. Up to that time the public were receiving what the miners were receiving.


Senator SAYERS - Before the establishment of the Coal Vend there was cutthroat competition between the mineowners, whilst the men had to accept starvation wages, and the consumers of coal were very little benefited. Mr. Watson further said -

The Newcastle miners have gone out on strike to get a general agreement with the coal mine proprietors, and endeavour to Bring them into :i combination so as to put the business on a fair basis.

We have recently heard a great deal of the injury which the Coal Vend has done. We have heard this from members of the Labour party, particularly in another place. I have quoted from statements made by gentlemen who have occupied high positions in the Federal Labour party to show that they considered the Coal Vend was beneficial to the country as a whole. I have quoted Mr. Watson as saying that the men went out on strike to compel the coal miners to combine. We are told by the Government that they are not able at the present time to deal with combinations. I have no doubt that Senator Guthrie with me remembers the time when the steam-ship companies carrying on services on the Australian coast were engaged in a cut-throat competition with each other. They paid no dividend from year to year, and it was possible to pet a passage from Brisbane to Sydney for

53.   The wages of officers, sailors, and firemen were screwed down to the lowest possible rate. But since those days the shipping companies have formed a combine.


Senator Guthrie - No.


Senator SAYERS - I maintain thar they have formed a combine pure and simple. They came to the conclusion that it was useless for them to be fighting each other in the interests of the public.


Senator Guthrie - I say that there is no combination between the shipping companies and the seamen. We had to go to the Court to fight them.


Senator Millen - There is an honorable understanding to share the swag that they take from the public.


Senator SAYERS - I am aware that the seamen went to the Court. What 1 say is that the shipping companies came to the conclusion that it was of no use for them to continue their competition with each other. They came to an agreement, and subsequently made arrangements to better the condition of their crews. They have done so, and fares have gone up in consequence. When the matter was before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court the representative of the shipping .companies said to Mr. Justice Higgins, " If Your Honour says that we must pay ,£80,000 or £\ 00,000 a year more to our employes, we are only common carriers, and the public will have to pay.'"' That is the whole thing in a nutshell. The seamen are behind the shipping companies in this matter, because they know that if they are to be paid better wages the shipping companies must make higher profits, and these must be obtained from, the public.


Senator Givens - For every extra shilling which they pay in wages they charge the public as.


Senator SAYERS - I shall not argue that matter, because I have not seen the shipping companies' books, and am unable to say whether that is so or not.


Senator Guthrie - If the seamen worked for nothing, would the freights be lower ?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Yes, they were lower when the wages were lower.


Senator Guthrie - No, they were higher.


Senator Millen - Senator Guthrie is willing that the freights shall be increased by 2s. per ton so long as those whom he represents get half of it.


Senator SAYERS - Senator Guthrie agreed with me as to what took place years ago, and I ask him to say whether if the cut-throat competition between the shipping companies were continued he believes that the seamen would have secured increased wages?


Senator Guthrie - Yes, they would. If you set one company against another you can expect to get higher wages. When all the companies are in combination against you you cannot expect higher wages.


Senator SAYERS - It is of no use for Senator Guthrie to try 'to gull me or the public. No man who knows what was the condition of affairs in connexion with the shipping industry thirty or forty years ago will deny my statement that the companies were then in competition with each other, that they sweated their employes, and that it was possible, as I have said, to secure a passage from Brisbane to Sydney for 53. Since then the shipping companies have combined, the seamen have been able to get better terms, and the public have had to pay all the time.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator thinks that the public should not have to pay anything.


Senator SAYERS - No, I believe that the public should pay their fair share. But I say that every extra shilling added to the wages that have to be paid in an industry results in an increase in the price of the products of that industry which the public must buy. If I go into u grocer's shop in which there are several men employed, and tell the proprietor that he must pay them from 1.0s. to £1 per week extra, he will get the money out of the general public.


Senator Guthrie - The same applies to rent.


Senator SAYERS - That is so. If a man has to pay £,600 to build a house which he could have built for .£500 some time ago, he asks a higher rent for it than he would have asked if he could have built it ait the lower price. This is all in accordance with the natural law, which applies all round, and which no legislation which this Parliament can pass will ever alter. We are invited to believe that under one of these proposals submitted it will be possible, in the near future, for the Government of the Commonwealth to regulate prices. That is the most ridiculous nonsense that was ever uttered. How will it be possible for the Government to tell every town and country storekeeper in a continent like Australia what prices he shall charge for the goods he sells?


Senator Guthrie - We do it now in connexion with the Post Office, and in connexion with the railways.


Senator SAYERS - If Senator Guthrie had read history, he would know that in ancient times Governments have sought to exercise this power. They have said, for instance, that the 4-lb. loaf of bread should be sold for a certain price. All these experiments were tried hundreds of years ago, and they broke down. It is evident that the present Federal Government have learned nothing from the experience of the past. They are now proposing a trial of experiments which will not, in my opinion, be in the best interests of the Commonwealth. I do not say, with a previous speaker, that the Labour Government should not be given the power to fix prices, but I say that no Government should be given such powers as are asked for in these measures. It will be time enough to ask for these powers for the Commonwealth Parliament when it is shown that the State Parliaments have not such powers, if they choose to exercise them. I wish now to make some reference to the Bill which deals with railways, the property of a State. In my opinion, that is one of the worst of the measures which have recently been submitted. The people of the States have built their railways, and the different State Governments have had to find the money for their construction. They have had to regulate the freights charged upon them to meet, to some extent, the expense of running them in the interests of the people. Yet in this proposal the Commonwealth Government say to the States, " We will take over the control of your railway servants."


Senator Givens - They do not say anything of the kind.


Senator SAYERS - Practically it amounts to that.


Senator Givens - No ; it subjects them to the same law as everybody else.


Senator SAYERS - Practically it means that the Governments of the States cannot manage their own affairs.


Senator Guthrie - Your party proposed to take over the whole of the railways,.


Senator SAYERS - I am not dealing with the party.


Senator Millen - The party did not do so. It is only Senator Guthrie who says that- it did.


Senator SAYERS - Senator Guthrie may make a statement, but I am not bound to accept it. I hold that to take over the permanent railway servants of the States, and not to allow the people of the States through their Parliaments to decide whether in a dispute the men are right or wrong, is to take away power from the States. I consider that the Federal Parliament has no more right to interfere with the servants of a State Government than a. State Government has to interfere with the servants of the Federal Parliament. What right have we to arrogate to ourselves that power ?


Senator Givens - We have given to our own servants the right of appeal to the Arbitration Court.


Senator SAYERS - My honorable friends did give that right, but the public servants did not want it.


Senator Millen - It is one thing to do what you like with your own servants, but another thing to deal with servants of other people.


Senator SAYERS - The Federal Government are trying to deprive the States of the control they have over their servants. The Commonwealth will not have to pay the wages of these men, but through the Government it is seeking for power to prescribe the conditions under which they shall work. Is this proposal really feasible? Surely the people of a State like Queensland or New South Wales or Victoria are competent to judge of what is good for their own State, and also what is good for its employes, without the Federal Parliament, representing the six States, intervening.


Senator Guthrie - Yes, but is it good for the Commonwealth?


Senator SAYERS - I challenge the right of the Commonwealth to attempt to interfere with the local government of the States.


Senator Guthrie - It is not interfering with the local government, but with an industry.


Senator SAYERS - The members of the State Parliaments are elected on the same franchise as are the honorable senator and myself.


Senator Guthrie - No.


Senator SAYERS - A majority of the other States might want to coerce a State. That is wrong. Have the people of the States asked the Commonwealth Government to take this course? I want to know who has asked the Commonwealth Parliament to do this thing. The public servants of the Commonwealth kicked up a row, and wrote to nearly every member of the Senate when we forced them to go to the Arbitration Court, instead of the Government dealing in an open and manly way with them, as they ought to have done, hearing their grievances, and, if desirable, redressing them. Our public servants objected to this Parliament driving them into the Arbitration Court; and now honorable senators opposite want to take power to drive the State employes to the sameCourt.


Senator Long - The State servants tried to go.


Senator SAYERS - My honorable friends opposite want to give them the right to go there.


Senator Givens - If they want to go.


Senator SAYERS - I think that we should mind our own business, and allow the States to mind their business.


Senator Givens - Suppose that the railway service of a State was disorganized through a dispute, would it not affect the whole of the Commonwealth?


Senator SAYERS - It might, and the Commonwealth Government might be the means of starting the dispute. We have known such things to be done before.


Senator Givens - Where?


Senator SAYERS - We know very well that there was a strike in progress, and that honorable senators believing in that strike subscribed money.


Senator Givens - Do you call that a strike ?


Senator SAYERS - The Prime Minister subscribed towards the strike fund.


Senator Givens - He did not cause the strike.


Senator SAYERS - He helped the strikers. There are various ways and means of proceeding. A man does not always do a thing openly. I think that if I subscribe to a movement I indicate that I sympathize with it. When men find that they have the sympathy of the gentleman at the head of the Commonwealth Government, they think that the best thing they can do is to continue the strike.


Senator Givens - Suppose that a man subscribes to the Mount Lyell Disaster Fund, could it be said that he caused the disaster at Mount Lyell ? That is all that your argument amounts to.


Senator SAYERS - No. Because I saw the honorable senator's name down for a subscription of £1 is to the strike fund, that does not show that he believed in the strike.


Senator de Largie - That is more than any man can charge you with doing.


Senator SAYERS - Yes, as regards a strike; but I believe that as to anything else I am a little more liberal than is the honorable senator. I do not believe, and I never have believed, in strikes.


Senator Guthrie - Hear, hear ! Nobody else does.


Senator SAYERS - It seems that some persons do.


Senator Givens - We want to give the right of appeal to the Arbitration Court.


Senator SAYERS - The reason why the Government seek power to deal with the railways of the States is because they say that a dispute may extend to one or two States ; but I want to know what right we have to interfere with a State in this way ? Assuming that we have such a right, how is it proposed to compel the railway servants to accept an Arbitration award? We know very well that after Mr. Justice Higgins gave his award in a certain case the men refused to accept it. Suppose (hat the railway men should refuse to accept an award of that Judge, we shall be exactly where we started from.


Senator Givens - The Broken Hill Proprietary Company did the same thing.


Senator SAYERS - Very likely. I am not excusing that company for what it did, but showing the difficulties which will have to be contended with if this power is obtained from the people, and how it will break down. If Mr. Justice Higgins, or any other Judge, were to give an award affecting 20,000 or 30,000 railway employes in two or three States, and it was unsatisfactory to them, what power should we have to compel them to accept the award? None.


Senator Ready - What power have we to stop a man from thieving?


Senator SAYERS - - We can put a thief, on conviction, in gaol, but we could not imprison 20,000 or 30,000 men, simply because we have not the gaols available. The exercise of the desired power would simply lead to revolution, as it has done in other countries, because we could not enforce a decision against 20,000 or 30,000 men. That is a moral impossibility.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Would you put a man in gaol because he would not accept a wages award?


Senator SAYERS - I do not wish the honorable senator to put that statement into my mouth. I said, in answer to an interjection, that we have not gaols to accommodate 20,000 or 30,000 men. I do not, like Senator Ready, put a man on the same footing as a thief because he goes on strike, because the former thinks that he has no right to be compelled to work unless he gets his own terms. The law recognises that every man has the right to go about without working, if he can afford to do so, until he gets his own terms. But if a man thieves, he has broken a law of the country, and he is, on conviction, sent to gaol. But there is no law to the effect that Senator Ready, or any one else, must work. If he has means to keep himself, he is at liberty to walk about until he gets the remuneration to which he ' thinks he is entitled for his work


Senator Ready - There is a law to fine a man if he breaks an industrial agreement.


Senator SAYERS - It is all very well for the honorable senator to make that statement ; but we have heard, not once or twice, but dozens of times, that an industrial agreement has been broken, and no community is able to punish the men who do that thing.


Senator Guthrie - There has been no breach of the Federal law.


Senator SAYERS - Yes ; and this afternoon Senator Millen proved that up to the hilt to the satisfaction of any man who is willing to listen to reason.


Senator Ready - How many strikes have there been under our Act?


Senator SAYERS - In Queensland we have at present seventy-four W ages Boards. Surely they are as competent to deal with these matters as are any Wages Boards created by the Commonwealth?


Senator Guthrie - Look at the wreckage of the Clerks' Wages Board in Victoria.


Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator can always see something wrong.


Senator Lynch - Is it open to every worker to go to a Wages Board in Queensland?


Senator SAYERS - Yes.


Senator Guthrie - No. The Act does not apply to the Waterside Workers Union.


Senator SAYERS - The Waterside Workers Union has been to the Arbitration Court, and does not want a Wages Board.


Senator Guthrie - The Act does not apply to the men engaged in the coasting trade of Queensland


Senator SAYERS - No, because the men have not asked for a Wages Board, but it is always open to them to do so.


Senator Guthrie - They have no power to ask for a Wages Board.


Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator knows that if the waterside workers wish to have a Wages Board they can get one appointed to-morrow.


Senator Givens - That shows that they do not believe in the Wages Board system, but would rather go to the Arbitration Court.


Senator SAYERS - The strongest organizations of the waterside workers are in Sydney and Melbourne. In Queensland the organization is small, and that is why the men have not asked for the appointment of a Wages Board. Any body of men who want a Wages Board have only to make an application, and a Board, comprising representatives of the employes and employers, with an impartial chairman, will be established. What fairer tribunal is it possible to have?


Senator Ready - In Tasmania the men applied for Wages Boards, but Parliament refused to establish them.


Senator SAYERS - We know that, but Tasmania is a little behind the times. They will come along in time, and since we have given them ,£500,000, I hope that they will make more, rapid strides than they have hitherto done. In New Zealand a Royal Commission was appointed to report 011 the cost of living and wages. It consisted of the following gentlemen -

Mr. EdwardTregear, I.S.O., ex-Secretary of Labour, Wellington.

Mr. AndrewFairbairn, merchant, Christchurch.

Mr.Edwain Hall, Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Association, Auckland.

Mr. JamesHight, M.A., Litt.D., F.R.E.S., Professor of History and Economics, Canterbury College, Christchurch.

Mr. GeorgeWilliam Leadley, farmer, Ashburton.

Mr. WilliamGeorge Macdonald, solicitor, Westport.

Mr. Hon.Robertson, M.P., Levin.

Mr. WilliamAndrew Veitch, M.P., Wanganui.

After holding an exhaustive inquiry, what did the Commission say was the cause of a great deal of the unrest in the Dominion? To show that it is not exactly what honorable senators opposite have tried, and will try, to make out, I shall read an extract from the report -

The Commission, after close inquiry, is of the opinion that highly-protected industries have increased the cost of living to 95 per cent, of the people, and that the duties, especially on the common necessaries of life, should be abolished. They recognise, however, that the encouragement given by the Government has induced many of these industries to operate in New Zealand, and that it would almost amount to confiscation if the protection afforded were suddenly abolished, but they believe it is in the best interests of the community as a whole that no further encouragement be given in the form of protective duties. It is their opinion that a system of bounties is more satisfactory in every way, which would give all the encouragement necessary to help any useful industry into active being.

We have often been told here that, we should look to New Zealand for an example in the shape of Wages Boards or an Arbitration Court or anything else of the kind that was good.


Senator Barker - That was long ago.


Senator SAYERS - No, because New Zealand still has these high duties.


Senator Givens - Are you arguing in favour of Free Trade now?


Senator SAYERS - No; I am arguing: that the higher the duties are raised the higher will be the cost of living and therates of wages. I was told on the floor of the Senate, in 1907 or 1908, that the higher we made the Tariff the cheaper would be the necessaries of life to the consumers.


Senator Stewart - What about beef?' Is there any duty on meat ?


Senator SAYERS - I shall deal withbeef directly.


Senator Givens - It is too dear to deal with it now.


Senator SAYERS - It is not dear in the honorable senator's part of Queensland or in my part.


Senator Givens - It is.


Senator SAYERS - It is not too dearyet in my part of the State. This New Zealand Commission says that it does not wish to see any higher Protection. Weknow that we have men in our midst who would go for prohibition, but they must takethis into consideration - that the higher you make the duties the higher will be thewages of the men, and that upon every shilling of duty that you impose, the purchaser has to pay a profit. That is exemplified by a case which wasbrought under my notice the other day. A business man told me that when he imported ^8,000 worth of goods,, by the time he paid freight, commission,, and charges, as well as a 40 per cent, duty, they cost him ,£12,000 landed at his warehouse. He charges a profit on that. £12,000, and the people have to pay it. I believe in giving an industry a fair start, and then letting it go on its own.


Senator Lynch - That is not one of the chief causes mentioned by the New Zealand Commission. There are four othersbefore the one you mentioned.


Senator SAYERS - I am giving this one, and it was given to me by a member of theother Chamber on the same side as the honorable senator - Mr. Mathews. You canhardly accept the report of every Commission that is issued, because those on theCommission are, to a certain extent, biased ; but there is one thing we have to acknowledge, and that is, the higher you make the cost of living the higher wages will have to he, and the greater will be the unrest in thecountry. If a man is being paid, say, 45s. a week, which is regarded as an ordinary living wage, he begins to agitate for more.. The more he gets the higher prices go, and!

I do not see where there is to be an end of it. If a business man. has to pay more for his goods, he will pass that on. If he has to pay increased wages to his employes, he will pass that on, and the consumer has to bear the burden all the time. We have been told that the Canadian system- of government is better than ours, but I do not think it is. In Canada, senators are appointed for life, and that I regard as a blemish on the Canadian system of government. In South Africa, you must possess £500 worth of property before you can even become a candidate, and if you are elected you hold your seat for ten years. I regard the period of office as too long, and I do not see why a man must have ^500 worth of property before he can become a candidate- Here we are more democratic. Any man can become a candidate for the Federal Parliament, whether he has £50° -or only 5d.


Senator Givens - We may be far more democratic, but we have far less power.


Senator SAYERS - I say we have not. What power have the people of Canada -over their senators once those senators are appointed ? No power whatever. Those senators can be as autocratic as they like, and can defy the people of Canada. Here, every three years, half the senators and all the members of the House of Representatives have to go up for re-election, and if the people think we are not doing our duty they can reject us>. In the United States of America there is a different system again. The senators are elected by what we should regard here as the State Parliaments. I do not believe in that. I believe that we have the freest and best system, and if we use wisely and well the powers that the people have granted to us, we shall be doing very good work' indeed. We should let matters remain as they are until the people of Australia are satisfied either that the States have not the necessary powers, or are not using «them wisely and well, and then they will themselves cry out for this remedy. The original intention was that the Senate should look after the interests of the States, and see that the Federal Government in the House of Representatives did not encroach on the powers of the States; but have we done our duty in that respect? I say we have not. If these extraordinary powers are granted to us, what action will be taken by the States? Is the State of New South' Wales, with nearly 2,000,000 of people, going to be satisfied with six representatives in the Senate, when Tasmania, with under 200,000, has the same number of representatives? No. They would be foolish if they were. Will the State of Victoria, with 1,500,000 of people be satisfied to have the same representation in this Chamber as the smallest State? Then, again, Queensland is growing, and will that State, in a few years, be satisfied with such a condition of things ? No. If we take these powers, we shall compel those States, for their own protection, to demand larger representation. It seems absurd that we should want to encroach on the powers of the States. Great Britain might as well seek to get the same powers in respect of Canada, and say, "You have no right to self-government." You can get to Canada from Great Britain in less time than you can get from the Capital site, or Melbourne, to parts of Australia, and yet we want to control the whole of Australia. Why was it that New . South Wales did not continue to govern the whole of Australia? Because people found that, being so remotely situated, they could not get justice from the people of New South Wales. They cried out for Parliaments of their own, and now, instead of Australia being one huge State, as it was then, we have six Governments. Yet it is sought now to take away the power of selfgovernment from people who are living thousands of miles away from the Federal Capital. If that be done, you will have the people crying out for local government, and saying that they want home rule. We see that all the world over. Do not the people in north, south, and central Queensland know their requirements better than people residing in this part, although the people down here have a preponderance of representation because they have a larger population? Is it fair to take away from the States of Western Australia, ' South Australia, and Tasmania the right to govern themselves? I say it is not. We know there is an agitation going on- in Ireland for Home Rule, although the journey from England to Ireland occupies a few hours only, and there are members of this Parliament who strongly advocate the granting of Home Rule to Ireland.


Senator de Largie - Are you a Home Ruler?


Senator SAYERS - Yes; I am a home ruler for Queensland. I have extracts to show that a number of members of the Government party were great advocates of

Home Rule, but here we want to take home rule away from our people. The people of Australia are not foolish, and they will retain the power which they have to govern themselves locally when a vote is taken on these proposals. I arn sorry that the vote is to be taken at a time when political feeling will be running high, but I am sure that the people of Australia will do as they did on the last occasion, and will say, "We will retain our powers of self-government. If we find we are not able to rule ourselves, we will ask you to do so, but till then we request you to mind your own business, and we will mind ours."







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