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Wednesday, 1 October 1913


Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - As my honorable friend, Senator Barnes, remarked, this AddressinReply debate has been running on for so many weeks that it may be considered a little stale. But, at the same time, it allows one to express sentiments which would be likely to be out of order on other occasions. During the spasmodic and intermittent sittings of the Senate this session, I have made only a few remarks, and I consider that this is an opportune time to express my views a little more fully. I have said all along that, in my opinion, the present Government would never have been brought into existence if it had fought the fight fairly at the last election - that it was by the most flagrant misrepresentation, by the most audacious actions and utterances from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, that they secured their narrow and precarious majority in another place, and failed even to hold their own in the Senate.


Senator Bakhap - They came over to this side; that is something.


Senator RAE - It is possibly all that the honorable senator, and those associated with him, care for. What they chiefly regard is the side where they happen to sit. I quite understand the level of the honorable senator's political morality. It is the place where he is sitting, and not the principles at stake, that is important to him.


Senator Bakhap - We have to sit here to carry out our principles.


Senator Barker - The honorable senator has no principles to carry out.


Senator RAE - In the statement of policy issued by the Government there are several proposals which, in my opinion, are so absolutely reactionary as utterly to belie their title to Liberalism. Not one of the members of the Government believes in good true Liberalism. I quite realize that, while political parties exist, there will always be some who are not prepared to go as far as others. The Labour party, tinged, as it undoubtedly is, with Socialism, will consequently be very far in advance "of even the genuine Liberal. I can well understand that, in Great Britain, where the Conservative party has, at any rate, the merit of labelling itself by its proper designation, those who differ from it, and yet do not go the whole way with Labour aims, may well be members of the true Liberal party, and not of the old Conservative and Tory party 'that governed Great Britain for so long. But in this community, where the only really advanced political party is the Labour party, manifestly all those who cannot ally themselves with that party, and all those whose self-interest and Conservative ideas make them afraid to venture on, to them, unknown paths of true Liberalism, ally themselves with the party that sails under the false name of the Liberal party in this country. Those who are, from the lowest motives of selfinterest, the land monopolists and manu facturing sweaters, and all who attach more importance to their own interests than to the good of humanity, naturally ally themselves with the party that will travel as short a distance as possible on the road to progress. So that even though some, having Liberal instincts, join the ranks of the party, we know that the sections that will find the money, and will call the tune, will support only reactionary legislation. We know that only such legislation can be expected from those who sail under the name of Liberalism in this country. I am very sorry that a name which has such splendid traditions behind it should be so degraded as it is by being associated in this country with those who are the high priests of reaction. Their programme is quite sufficient to prove the truth of my assertion. Senator Barnes and others who have preceded me have exposed a number of fallacies connected with the proposed alleged amendments of the electoral law. I venture to say that 99 per cent, of the talk about a desire for clean rolls, which has been repeated until it has become a party shibboleth, is arrant humbug. In the first place, I say that if the rolls, instead of being inflated by some 175,000 names, as we are told, contained names amounting to double the number of electors in the Commonwealth, that would not disconcert me in any way whatever. I should not care if every man and woman in Australia had their names down twenty times on the rolls. It is infinitely better that an elector should have his name on halfadozen rolls than that those who desire to vote should be disfranchised by not having them on any roll at all. Apart from the extra cost of printing, I cannot see that any wrong whatever is done by the mere duplication of names on our electoral rolls. I have met many persons whose names have appeared on more than one roll; but I contend that, instead of regarding that as implying something corrupt, and about which our hands should be held up in holy horror, it is something that should be commended. I repeat that it is infinitely better that a man should have his name on half-a-dozen rolls than that he should neglect to have it placed upon any roll at all. I have no sympathy whatever with the talk about clean rolls in the sense of striking off the rolls every name the enrolment of which cannot be absolutely justified on the ground that some person might vote twice.


Senator Bakhap - Surely the honorable senator does not desire to give facilities for duplicate voting?


Senator RAE - I do not; but I say that duplicate enrolment does not necessarily imply duplicate voting.


Senator Bakhap - It gives the opportunity for it.


Senator RAE - It has very little effect of that kind. We know, as a matter of fact, that there is very little duplicate voting, and duplicate enrolment does not offer any great temptation to or opportunity for it. We should consider the matter not from the point of view of the most extreme case which might conceivably happen with duplicate enrolment, but from the point of view of what we know really does happen. The number of electors required to constitute an electoral division for the House of Representatives averages about 30,000. Every sane individual must be aware that his vote must represent so small a matter out of a possible 30,000 votes that he would take a very big risk for a very small result if he tried to record it more than once. In other words, to take no higher ground, he must know that the game is not worth the candle. A man will not render himself liable to prosecution, fine, and imprisonment by recording more votes than one, when he knows that it will probably exercise no material influence -upon the result. That is a risk the average man will not take. What have we found from practical experience hitherto? We have found that a large proportion of the electors cannot be prevailed upon to record any vote at all. It has been necessary to provide for compulsory enrolment to overcome this Australian carelessness, and many persons have been driven to advocate compulsory voting because of the number who, from time to time, profess political opinions, and decline to give effect to them by recording their votes. Our trouble is not that people vote twice, but that they take so little interest in politics that a large number, will not vote once. In the circumstances, all this talk to which I refer is manufactured, and spurious, and it is clear that there is no considerable number of the citizens of this country who have any desire to record more votes than one. In a joking way, people will sometimes say, " I believe in voting early and often, on the good old American system," but we know that the practice is non-existent in Australia. I think that we should compliment the people of Australia on their honesty in political matters. It would be well if the same could be said of the political organizations that, to some extent, control politics in this country. But what do we find? We find that the members of the alleged Liberal party were mainly returned by false representations to the public. This was very largely due to the organizations which provided the money, and issued the political literature of the party. The result was achieved, not merely by false assertions, but by imputations and innuendoes which were worse than the actual lies that were uttered. I am glad to see Senator Oakes present. The honorable senator was associated with a party which was responsible for the issue of a large amount of literature, some of which was almost incredibly false. The party with which the honorable senator is associated, last year, iu another place, attacked the party to which I have the honour to belong, by asserting that the Australian Workers Union had engaged my colleagues and myself as political organizers, and that we had won our seats by that means. If to retort is any defence, what must we think of the case of Senator Oakes, who almost immediately after he ceased to be an Honorary Minister in the Wade Administration in New South Wales, was an organizer for the alleged Liberal organization of that State.


Senator Oakes - Is the honorable senator ashamed to be an organizer for his party ?


Senator RAE - I 'am not.


Senator Oakes - Neither am I.


Senator de largie - Has Senator Oakes been a paid agitator?


Senator Oakes - I have been a paid organizer.


Senator RAE - Just so; but I should be ashamed if I carried on the work of organization in the same way as the honorable senator. I should be ashamed to be associated with the issue of false political literature. I should be ashamed to be an organizer of a party if I carried round and distributed literature that teemed with misrepresentations and overflowed with mendacity. The important matter is not the contribution of money to a political cause, and speaking and organizing in its behalf, but the way in which the duties of the organizer are carried out. The Australian Workers Union, the organization to which, I am proud to say, I have belonged for more than half my lifetime, and ever since it came into existence, has spent its money, and only a small amount at that, honestly and openly for the work of organization. The 'organizers are paid to advocate the cause of Labour on the definite programme laid down in our printed platform. The Australian Workers Union have never gone any further than that, and have always acted openly in the light of day. They have sought by no misrepresentation or objectionable means to further their aims. But what do we find in connexion with the boasted Liberal organization? Senator Oakes has said that he is not ashamed of being a Liberal organizer. I wonder if the honorable senator was ever ashamed of any of the literature which, as an organizer ' of the party, he was called upon to father. I have a leaflet here, printed by Madgwick and Sons, printers, 528 Kent-street, Sydney. It is " authorized by Archdale Parkhill, General Secretary, 108 Pittstreet, Sydney," so that our friends cannot repudiate it. It is headed in large letters -

Tammany Hall Tactics - The Hidden Meaning of the Referenda- Cogent Reasons why Electors should vote "No" to the Proposals - A Covert Attack on the Liberties and Privileges of the Nation. Then it proceeds -

If the Federal Government should succeed in its long premeditated assault on the civic liberties, the self-governing privileges, and the propertied assets of the nation, and bludgeon the electors into affirming its nefarious Referenda proposals, the destinies of the Commonwealth will pass entirely under the control and direction, not of Parliament, as stated, but of the Caucus.

That is the little preface to the leaflet. Here is what it says, amongst other things, about what " will irrevocably happen." As I have stated before, their campaign was one of mud-slinging from beginning to end. I recollect, earlier in this session, making the statement that Mr. Archdale Parkhill, the general secretary of the Liberal organization in New South Wales, at one time, under a misapprehension, wrote to a Labour newspaper, believing it to be a Liberal newspaper, and advised the editor, amongst other things: "Our policy should be to throw plenty of mud at the Labour party, because some of it is bound to stick."


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Mr. Archdale Parkhill denies that, absolutely.


Senator RAE - Very likely he does. He is capable of denying anything, just as he is capable of saying anything. We shall see what he says in this leaflet. This leaflet furnishes one instance of where he did, to a large extent, indulge in mudslinging. It is all very well for Senator Gould to say that Mr. Archdale Parkhill denies it. The best proof as to whether a statement was made by him or not is whether his general conduct carries out that policy, and, if it does, it really does not matter whether he denies the statement or not. The second paragraph reads -

Unification will necessarily follow, and the several State Parliaments will be degraded to the status of a Mutual Admiration Society.

While there are Labour men who believe in Unification, it is an absolute misrepresentation of facts to say that Unification would necessarily follow the carrying of our referenda proposals. If they mean by Unification the entire abolition of the State Governments, I, for one, do not believe in it. I do not consider that one Parliament could satisfactorily carry out the whole of the legislative and administrative work of this continent ; and, therefore, whatever may be said in favour of a reconstruction of the States or the State Governments, I, as meaning complete control by this Parliament only of all legislation throughout Australia, do hot believe in it, and I know many more who do not believe in it. Not one shred of evidence has ever been brought forward to show that Unification in that sense would necessarily follow the adoption of our referenda proposals. The next statement in the leaflet reads -

Unrestrained by an ineffectual public opinion, Caucus will continue its insane policy of piling up taxation and spending millions of money extorted from the earnings of the worker upon undertakings of the most chimerical type.


Senator Oakes - Hear, hear !


Senator RAE - " Hear, hear," says the honorable senator. I really think that one ought to be more tolerant of honorable senators opposite than I am, because I believe that their understanding is so obtuse, that they are so morally blind, that they cannot conceive even of the infamy and iniquity of the statements which their organizers make. In the leaflet, "piling up taxation" is printed in large letters. In what instance did the Federal Labour Government impose additional taxation which extorts money from the earnings of the worker? Where is this boasted organizer now?


Senator Oakes - The fact that, with a Labour Government in power in the Commonwealth and in your State, taxation is higher now than ever it was.


Senator RAE - That is how my honorable friend boxes things up. He says that, because a Labour Government was in power in my State-


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - And in the Commonwealth at the same time.


Senator RAE - Senator Gould knows, as well as I do, that there is absolutely no bond between the two parties .in the administration of the separate Governments. Our honorable friends opposite claim to be the Liberal party, both State and Federal, but does the honorable senator say that the Federal Government would for a moment take any responsibility for the taxation imposed by the Wade Government?


Senator Oakes - They would have to take it. It damns the party just the same.


Senator RAE - We have our separate spheres of influence, and consequently, in carrying out our respective duties and functions, no blame should necessarily be cast on the party in the State for anything which the party in the Federation has done, and viceversa.


Senator Bakhap - Why did your party set us the example of sending senators and representatives to take part in the State election in Tasmania?


Senator RAE - If the honorable senator wants to make a speech, I shall give him an opportunity- I have taken part in State fights, and have no objection to others doing so; but, nevertheless, every Government has to stand or fall on its own merits. While the political principles may be the same, acts of administration or taxation are purely local matters, and it is absolutely impossible for the Federal Parliament to control the legislation or the taxation imposed by any other Parliament. This party has not placed any taxation on the workers. During its three years in office, it did not increase the taxation except by the imposition of the land tax; and any growth in revenue was due to the national growth in population and wealth, and not to any measures passed by us. This kind of thing is falsehood by innuendo, and the innuendo is that, while Senator Oakes might be meaning the State Parliament,, he was seeking to convince the people that they should vote against the Federal Labour people, because, as he alleged, the State had done something, for even he cannot allege that the Federal Labourparty did it. I do not want, however, to enlarge on that. Another paragraph of this leaflet reads -

Under the circumstances, the cost of living must continue to increase in proportionate ratio to the Fiscal Insobriety of Caucus. " Fiscal Insobriety of Caucus " is a striking phrase.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould.. - Whose expression is it?


Senator RAE - It is used by Mr.. Parkhill in his circular letter.


Senator Bakhap - Then he is a smart man.


Senator RAE - He is as smart as a, wood-heap. We all know that the increased cost of living is a world-wide* phenomenon. All authorities worthy of the name have said that there are many factors which go to produce that increased . cost of living, and that legislation has had remarkably little to do with it. On theother hand, the legislation which we would have submitted had our referendaproposals been carried, would have struck a blow at the causes that go to make upthe increased cost of living, . and a blow of such vital import that the fear of it led to the vested interests uniting to support Liberals and putting them into Parliament. Let me give some more instances of this mud-slinging -

The existing era of jobbery, corruption, and maladministration will be continued in the interests of the supporters of the Labour Party.

This statement relates purely to the Federal elections, and cannot, therefore, be held to have anything to do with State parties or State legislation.


Senator Bakhap - There is a bit of snap in it.


Senator RAE - If the honorable senator thinks that wallowing in the gutter, or using absolutely false and abusive statements, is snap, he is welcome to all that kind of snap. We shall never propose to nationalize that. Is there an honorable senator on the other side who is prepared to adopt this snappy document? Is there an honorable senator opposite who is game to state one instance of jobbery, corruption, or maladministration during our three years of office.


Senator Bakhap - Ask the Printing Committee to get the document printed and circulated.


Senator RAE - I ask the honorable senator, if he cannot talk sense, for Heaven's sake to hold his tongue for a little while. Will an honorable senator on the other side name one instance of jobbery which was committed 'by the Federal Labour party when in office? Can he show where one instance of corruption existed, or where there was any maladministration in any one of the Departments? That challenge must necessarily go unanswered. If our opponents had had any suspicion of anything of the kind existing, no doubt it would have been made the most of long ago.


Senator O'Keefe - -They did not mean it. It was only their playful way of putting it.


Senator RAE - To what degradation must the politics of this country sink when honorable senators will sit there, even without blushing, and back up statements of that kind !


Senator Bakhap - I will read you a few leaflets, if you want that sort of plea.sureif you want an instance of what the Labour party will descend to.


Senator RAE - If they were all on record, it would do no harm to show the depth of lying to which the Liberal party will descend The leaflet further says -

Nepotism and favoritism will be rife, confiscation and repudiation become part and parcel of Labour's policy, and the most vicious practices of Tammany Hall resorted to as a necessary corollary to the policy of " Spoils to the Victors."

I want to say a little about the question of " Spoils to the Victors." I have heard some men say - I have heard some of our own supporters say - that the spoils to the victors policy is right.


Senator Bakhap - There you are.


Senator RAE - I have heard, I said, some men say that.


Senator McGregor - But they always practised it in the past.


Senator Bakhap - You justify that leaflet.


Senator RAE - I am not saying for a moment that I have heard members of this party make the statement; but I say that I have heard supporters do so. Since I was able to know anything, I have known that the party opposite has practised that policy whenever it has had the chance. So far as the opportunities went, the Public Service of Victoria, and every other State, has been filled by the supporters of the party in .power in past times. Whenever there was a vacancy they crowded a man into it. When did an intelligent worker or Labour man ever get a chance from the party?


Senator Bakhap - Intelligent workers have been Premiers ! What are you talking about?


Senator RAE -r-Yes, after they had learned to sell their conscience, but not before. The only instance of the kind I know of is that of a man who worked his way up o.n Labour politics, kicked away the ladder by which he had climbed, and, by unparalleled treachery, at last succeeded in reaching the Prime Ministership. There is that historical instance. But these are not the workers I am speaking of. While he remains in the ranks of the toilers no honest man ever gets a look in a.t any position, however fit he may be. Senator Millen denounced our Administration for hav* ing appointed certain men to positions in the Northern Territory, and elsewhere, against whom not one single shred of testimony could be brought, either as to incapacity or as to want of character. These men were denounced as having been appointed to positions for which, I believe, they were all eminently fitted, simply because they were Labour men; because they happened to be, some of them, members of a Political Labour League in New South Wales or Queensland. What would be thought if one accused any individual member of the Liberal party of being guilty of the practices of Tammany Hall? This leaflet reeks with statements, any one of which, if made outside, apart from the privileges of the Senate, would render the person uttering it liable to prosecution and severe penalties.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Were not these documents spread broadcast through the country?


Senator RAE - They were by the Liberal organizers.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. -Yet you say that no man would do it.


Senator RAE - The honorable senator, as a lawyer, cannot fool me in that way. He knows very well that general statements can be made about an organization which, if made against an individual, would render the person making them liable to prosecution and severe penalties.


Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - They are not game to make them against individuals.


Senator RAE - An organization cannot, of itself, be guilty of anything. If the Labour Ministry carried out the most vicious practices of Tammany Hall, if it brought about an era of jobbery, corruption, and maladministration, there must be individuals whose moral sense is so low that they combined together to commit those actions. A general statement of the character to which I have referred is not merely malicious, but cowardly, because we know that Ave cannot pin its authors down to any specific charge against an individual. The whole of this malodorous charge is allowed to re3t on the entire party, because of the frequency of such statements. They wind up this beautiful circular by saying -

Finally, the hidden intent of the referenda is to destroy the rights of private property, to confiscate the hard-earned business interests of the citizens, to establish a premium on incapacity and inefficiency, and to make the liberty and property of the people the plaything of Caucus in its merriest gerrymandering moods.

That is the kind of political ammunition which the organizations that support my honorable friends opposite fired broadcast throughout the Commonwealth. As evidencing the hollowness of their statements, let me point to what they said in regard to the referenda proposals. In some of the small States they said, " If you carry these amendments of the Constitution, the big States of Hew South Wales and Victoria will swallow up all your rights and liberties. The little States will be at the mercy of the larger ones." In the big States they said exactly the opposite. In New South Wales they told us continually that if the proposals were carried we would be at the mercy of the little States, like Tasmania and South Australia, which would be able to rob us of our free institutions - that we should be at the mercy of an undemocratic Senate and the machinations of the small States.


Senator Ready - In Tasmania they told us that we would lose equal representation in the Senate.


Senator RAE - Yet, without an Imperial Act, it is impossible to deprive the States of equal representation in the Senate.


Senator Ready - A prominent lawyer in Tasmania made the statement.


Senator Bakhap - And I do not know that he was far wrong. The honorable senator's party is not in favour of this Chamber.


Senator RAE - The Government propose to 'amend the Arbitration Act by abolishing preference to unionists under the plea that trade unions generally associate themselves with political effort. While we do not regard arbitration as a perfect means of settling disputes, while we are not very much concerned whether preference to many industries is withdrawn or not, because it has not been practically applied to them, I do say that no more reactionary proposal could be made by any Government. It would be more honest on the part of the Ministry, and more acceptable to me personally, if they proposed to wipe out the Arbitration Act in its entirety. Under the existing law, the organization to which I belong has not secured a preference. We are about 70,000 strong, we are the biggest union in Australia, and we embrace in our sphere of operations every State of the ^Commonwealth. We have done far more than has any other single industrial organization in advocating political reform, and in working for the return of Labour representatives to the State and Federal Parliaments. So long aa our organization retains its virility it will see that it gets preference to unionists by the strength of its own strong right arm. We are not in the least concerned as to whether this reactionary proposal is carried or not. We will have preference as long as we think fit, and we will secure it by seeing that those who do not do their share in sustaining our organization shall not obtain a share of the work which that organization has under its control. The Government cannot wipe our organization out of existence, and if it attempts to do so it will take on a bigger contract than it dreams of. Quite recently we have amalgamated with the young and comparatively weak Rural Workers Union, and we shall very soon win for its members what we have won for other branches of the organization. Law or no law, we have justice on our side, and the strength which numbers and influence give. No proposals of the Government can do other than strengthen and consolidate trade unionism by making its members realize what we have often told them, namely, that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The blessings which they now enjoy can be taken from them if they allow their political rights to sink into disuse far more easily than they were gained. Even in its highest form, Liberalism means merely political equality, and in the present age we have advanced beyond that. "We not only enact that every man and woman of twenty-one years of age shall have a vote, but we are realizing more and more, as education spreads, that, in itself, a vote is of no use. Not to exercise a vote places an elector in the same position as if he did not possess one. That political implement must be used to alter economic conditions if political freedom is to mean complete freedom. Complete freedom can only be brought about by educating the people to realize that, so far as the law can, it will secure to them a more equal distribution of the wealth of the world than obtains at present. That is the function of the Labour party. We are absolutely the Democratic party. We believe in the rule of the people. The workers are in the majority. Hitherto they have been under the control of small ruling classes who, by monopolizing political power, have monopolized the greater part of the products of wealth for their own enjoyment. By means of wealth they have secured for themselves a higher education, and all the blessings of civilization. These blessings we desire to see distributed amongst the great body of the people. To accomplish that, we must get economic justice. We must see that no individual's rights are used to deprive others of their rights, and to corner the wealth of this country in such a way a3 to further enrich the already rich, whilst allowing the poor to become poorer still. Any temporary relapse, such as we experienced at the last election - a relapse due to the power of the press and the unblushing mendacity of so-called Liberal organizations - is one from which I have no doubt we shall recover in the near future. I am only sorry that the Government have not even more reactionary proposals to put before us. It is just as well that the people shall see them iu all their iniquity. Take their proposal to exempt rural workers from the operation of the Arbi tration Act. I have no doubt that there are many thousands of persons engaged in farming occupations and in orchard work in Australia. Consequents, whilst the membership of the Rural Workers Union is a very small minority of those persons, it will in time embrace the greater part of them. We are told that people are to be encouraged to go on the land, and that an undue proportion of our population is to be found in our cities. We know that, in the rural industries in Victoria, where wages are lower than they are in New South Wales, the population of many of the counties has been declining year by year. The same thing obtains in New South Wales to some extent, so that every redistribution of seats scheme, either for the State Parliaments or the Federal Parliament, results in more members being returned for the metropolitan area, and in fewer members being returned for country districts. What is the reason for this ? There need be no mystery about it. A great deal of the work done on the farms and stations to-day is practically being done in the cities. Machinery now plays an important part in the operations of the farm, and we know that those engaged in the manufacture of that machinery are practically assisting in the work of the farm. Whereas formerly thousands of men were required to bind and stook and stack, modern harvesting machinery has concentrated those persons in the cities who, years ago, under the primitive methods then in vogue, would have been engaged ' in harvesting the crop. There is still another factor to be recognised, namely, that the enjoyment of good wages, of decent hours, and of all the luxuries and pleasures incidental to civilization has naturally concentrated more persons in the towns than in the country. If we wish to see our rural districts populated, we must offer great inducements, not merely to the men who own the land, but to the men who actually work in the primary industries - to the wage-earners. Consequently, the Ministry are taking a step backward. They are going to remove what little protection might have been given to these men under the Arbitration Act, and to place them on a different plane from the mechanic or artisan in the city. What is the reason which they advance for their action ? When, in the last Parliament, a proposal was submitted to bring the rural workers under the Arbitration Act, honorable senators opposite fought it on the plea that, while the manufacturer could pass on to his commodities the increased cost of their production, the primary producer could not do so, because the prices of his products were fixed in the markets of the world.


Senator Senior - The same argument will apply to the mining industry, as well as to wheat-growing.


Senator RAE - That is so. I thank the honorable senator for his interjection.


Senator McGregor - And also to woolgrowing.


Senator RAE - Yes. The price of wool is regulated by the world's markets. Under an award given by Mr. Justice O'Connor in the first place, and more recently by Mr. Justice Higgins, the wages paid in the pastoral industry have been increased by more than £300,000 per annum. Increased wages are paid to those engaged in the pastoral industry for the few months of the year during which shearing prevails; as compared with the wages paid formerly. But do we find the pastoral industry slumping by reason of that? Undoubtedly, the profits previously were abnormally high ; but once the new arrangements as to wages got into working order there was no more trouble; and from the employer's point of view the industry gained considerably from the settled conditions, and from the fact that the highest class of labour was kept in the industry instead of seeking employment elsewhere. Even from that point of view, the increased wages did not represent a loss to the pastoralists themselves. I doubt whether many of them would be prepared to go back to the old chaotic conditions which prevailed when strikes and disturbances of various kinds were infinitely more common than they are to-day. The benefit is not all on one side. The same must apply to other rural industries. Take farming and fruit-growing. In the district where I am engaged in that industry there is a continual outcry about there not being sufficient highly skilled labour. I have said over and over again to my neighbours, " No wonder ; for -many years you paid such miserable wages that you drove independent and energetic men into other fields of employment, where they could earn more. When you pay good wages you will get a good class df workmen, and the men will stay -in the industry. "But they will not do so unless they work under proper civilized conditions. ' ' I recollect when I was farming in the Riverina, and before that, when I was working as a labourer in Victoria, labourers used to have to work ten and eleven hours a day for 5s. a day. In one case we had a strike because the boss thought we should work as long as we could see. There was a full moon that night, and I thought it about time to throw up the job. The argument that the rural industries will suffer from allowing the rural workers' claims to be adjudicated upon by the Arbitration Court is absolutely fallacious. I know that during the elections our opponents made great capital out of the rural workers' log, which they circulated broadcast, and about which they said, " If you give the Labour party a majority in Parliament these demands will automatically become law." That was the kind of lying statement which was freely made all over Australia. The more ignorant people were convinced that if the Labour party obtained a majority the rural workers' log would automatically come into operation. The most extravagant statements were made about it. It was believed that abnormal rates would have to be paid by every employer. I am well aware that we are faced with the fallacy that the rural industries of this country are dependent upon the markets of the world. But, as a matter of fact, if you compare London prices with Australian prices for any commodity, it will be seen that these prices are practically fixed by the exporting countries. That is to say, prices are not fixed by what the particular consumer in England is prepared to pay for these productions, but they are fixed by the cost of production. We know that labour in Australia is aided by machinery, and -that the standard of intelligence here is higher than in other parts of the world. There are also other causes which enable us to compete very favorably with the underpaid labour of India or Russia. The prices for our primary products are not fixed by the British consumer, but are regulated by the cost of production in the producing country. If our rural workers are employed under an award which insures them fair wages and a decent living, I am satisfied that prices will regulate themselves accordingly. At all events, it must be recognised that an industry must pay good wages before it pays big profits and high interest -to -banks and financial institutions. The care of the worker must be the first consideration of a civilized people. The worker must be able to earn enough to keep himself and his family, and to lay by sufficient for his old age. Until that is secured, our civilization is only a pretence, and our political institutions are a sham, because they fail to accomplish what is required of them. Do the opponents of' the rural workers in this regard desire that they shall work under such conditions as prevail in India, in Russia, or in Siberia? Do they desire that their wages shall be fixed by cut-throat competition amongst themselves? If so, they misread the signs of the times absolutely, and the triumph which they are now enjoying will be as short lived as it is precarious. I should like to refer briefly to one or two other proposals in the Government programme. It is stated that inquiries are being made, and material gathered for the formulation of a comprehensive scheme of national insurance on a contributory basis. First of all, honorable members opposite must realize that ib is a hollow sham to put this proposal forward at all, because they cannot enforce any such scheme, even if they could carry ib into law, for lack of constitutional power. I believe that Senator Gould, for instance, does not seriously contend that the Commonwealth has any power whatever to enforce a scheme of the kind. To do so would be an interference with the constitutional ' rights of individuals and of States. But we are told that the scheme is to be on a contributory basis. Let us suppose that it is on a voluntary basis. If that is the case, how are the contributions to be collected ? Who is to prevent a man from dropping out, if he ever goes in for the scheme at all ? It would be an absolute farce if on a voluntary basis, because it would be simply establishing an enlarged friendly society.


Senator Ready - The Government are not so anxious about the scheme as they were, because -the friendly societies are kicking so much.


Senator RAE - Mr. Lloyd-George, in Great Britain, is considered to be a Radical, and we are told by our opponents that this is not only a Liberal, but an extremely Radical, proposal. In the first place, I would observe that what is Radicalism in England would be extremely wishy-washy Liberalism here. Furthermore, the conditions in Great Britain are immeasurably different from those in Australia. There you have a country with 45,000,000 of people squeezed into an area little more than a third the size of New South Wales. There it is comparatively easy to reach everybody. A larger proportion are engaged in regular employment in settled districts than is the case in Australia. People in Great Britain do not- travel about as freely as we do in Australia. Here no wonderment is expressed if one working man meets a fellow-working man in Melbourne to-day, and meets him again in two months' time in Brisbane, Broken Hill, or Kalgoorlie. We travel about to a greater extent than any other people on the face of the earth. Consequently, it would be an enormous task to keep in touch with the insured persons.


Senator McGregor - 1 know a man who put in a crop in Western Australia, dug spuds in Ballarat, and is now cutting cane at Mosman, all within this year.


Senator RAE - I know several cases of the kind. I am sure that every honorable senator would believe. that there are many such instances. It is a common experience for men to travel all over this country for work. ' Some of them take in New Zealand and Fiji. That is one reason why a scheme which might be workable in England would be unworkable here.


Senator Oakes - The Australian Workers Union can keep in touch with its men.


Senator RAE - That is done by the magnificent spirit of self-sacrifice, and the voluntary discipline which prevails amongst the members. There is perfect co-operation and self-government amongst them to carry out their scheme of organization, and to amend it to suit their varying conditions. Furthermore, in the Australian Workers Union we make the employers, by paying higher wages, pay for the organizers, which makes the working of the system all the more acceptable to us. Furthermore, a contributory scheme of insurance would be absolutely undemocratic and unnecessary. It must be remembered that the whole Consolidated Revenue is contributed to, more or less, by every individual in the community. The mere act of consuming imported goods is responsible -for a person contributing to the Consolidated Revenue - often to -a greater extent than he likes. In one form or another our people find the whole revenue of the country. If the Government are going to make this scheme for a few, well and good; but that would not be carrying out what they forecast. If. however, it is meant to be a universal scheme, what sense is there in making every citizen pay a special contribution to a fund out of which every, individual will in time reap certain benefits? Is it not infinitely more economical, and more in accordance with .the dictates of common sense for every one to pay, as every one is now paying, through taxation, and then for the benefits to be given out of the Consolidated Revenue? This contributory scheme is an emanation of the most ignorant phase of the Conservative fancy of our opponents. They seem to suppose that they are going to get something out of nothing by making every one pay to a fund out of which every one will benefit. If these contributions have to be made by the people as a whole, why not make them to a fund to which the people as a whole contribute in the form of the Consolidated Revenue, and have the payments made to the people from the same fund ? That is to say, -every one should pay, and every one should receive his share from the one Consolidated Revenue Fund.


Senator Ready - Lady Somerset, the well-known English philanthropist, describes the English Act as a legislative fraud.


Senator RAE - I would remind honorable senators that Lloyd-George's scheme does not meet, by any means, with the undivided support of the thinking portion of British Democracy. It means that the worker is practically contributing the whole of the amount. The payments are contributed from three sources - the employe, the employer, and the State. The portion contributed by the State has been provided by the whole of the people through their payments to the revenue. That, therefore, is only a redistribution of money to which the worker has already contributed his share. In the second place, the contribution by the employer is frequently deducted from the wages of the employe.


Senator Mullan - It is simply part of his profits.


Senator RAE - It is part of his profits, and he meets the contribution by deducting the money from his workers, or by employing men at a lower wage. He may meet it in two ways. First, by putting up prices where he can, and then by reducing the wages of his employes, and thus taking the contribution directly from them. We see, therefore, that the worker first of all pays his own contribution straight out; secondly, he pays the contribution of the State, because he creates the wealth of the State; and by the payment of higher prices, or by the fact that he receives lower wages, he finds the money for the contribution of the employer. The system is a transparent fraud, on the face of it, and is only a Conservative and Tory device for extracting money from the pockets of the workers in order to save the employers from the responsibilities and risks of their position. I say, therefore, that the system stands self -condemned by every Democrat and thinker in the community; and, apart from its obvious and vital demerits, it would be entirely unworkable in this country of huge areas and scattered population. In regard to the maternity allowance, I say that, while it may be a good thing that it should be supplemented by State provision for maternity homes and hospitals, so far as it goes it is legislation based on right lines; and if the Labour party had been in power at the time our Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act was introduced, it would have been based upon similar lines, and on the principle that those who want the pension should have it.


Senator Oakes - Does the honorable senator say that a man having £1,000 a year should get it?


Senator RAE - Yes; or a man having £10,000 or £1,000,000 a year, if the honorable senator pleases. But if the party to which I belong held the same ideas as I do, there would be no millionaires, because the distribution of wealth would be better managed than to allow any such modern monstrosity to exist.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - There would be a new distribution periodically.


Senator RAE - The honorable senator must know that that is a discredited gag. No Socialist ever yet proposed the distribution of wealth. All socialistic enterprises are in direct opposition to distribution, and are collective in their operation. The working expenses of the Act under the Ministerial proposal would be so much increased that some of the savings which it is anticipated would be made, would be dissipated in a way which is not defensible. Our honorable friends talk a lot about their desire for clean rolls, and I suppose that they would like to see all our laws cleanly administered. But I ask whether there could be any greater incentive to fraud than to impose a property qualification for the receipt of national benefits. If Sir Samuel McCaughey, to whom Senator Long referred this afternoon, liked to draw an old-age pension, I should let him have it, but I should see that the taxation he paid was sufficient to cover a hundred old-age pensions. Some time ago I stated that I believed in taxing the rich for the benefit of the poor. I remembered that Senator Gould at the time said that there would not be any rich left. For the benefit of the honorable senator,I may say that I recently copied a statement from the work of an authority, entitled " A Short History of English Liberalism."


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Who is the authority?


Senator RAE - A gentleman who is a most devout Liberal, and not a Labour man. I refer to Mr. Lyon Blease. He wrote -

The money required to improve the condition of the poor must be taken from the rich if it is to be of any practical use.

I say the same.


Senator Findley - The Liberals would crucify him.

SenatorRAE. - Nevertheless, he is a leading Liberal So long as we act upon the principle of taxing the rich, the simplest way in which we can administer a law of this kind is to allow all those who wish to do so to draw the benefits from this national legislation. We should thus avoid all danger of fraud in the falsification of the amount of property possessed, and the intricate problems which arise in the adminstration of our Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act in deciding whether persons claiming pensions are entitled to them or not. Under such a system the only qualifications would be age and residence. By introducing the maternity allowance on those lines, we showed that we were prepared to do what our opponents never do other than talk about, and that is to do away with class legislation and apply the benefits proposed to every citizen in the country. Now we have an odious form of class legislation proposed by the present Government. By the proposed amendment of the Maternity Allowance

Act, restricting the allowance only to necessitous cases, thousands of those who most require relief will be most reluctant to claim it. Sensitive persons who may have been previously in a happier position, and will most urgently require relief, will be prevented from obtaining it, because they will shrink from exposing their personal and private affairs under the inquisitorial system which must result from the Government proposal.


Senator Oakes - Our honorable friends do nob distribute union funds on that basis.


Senator RAE - The honorable member speaks of something that is not relevant to the matter under discussion, and also of something about which he knows nothing. We never distribute our funds at all ; we keep them for fighting purposes, in order to beat the frauds and fakirs who otherwise would run this country.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - That is how so much money from those funds mysteriously disappears.


Senator RAE - I know that Senator Gould personally shrinks from this kind of thing, bub his political associations compel him occasionally to make these insinuations. When he says that is how so much money mysteriously disappears from our funds, I challenge him to set side by side what the organization to which he belongs does with its money with what we do with our money.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - I do not know what the Liberal organization does with its money.


Senator RAE - It would not be safe for the honorable senator to repudiate the doings of the Liberal organization in New South Wales. If he did so, his name would be " Mud " at the next election. The honorable senator accepts the assistance of the organization, and yet he says he does not know anything about it. I inform the honorable senator that our industrial organizations publish balance sheets, in which they account for every cent of their expenditure.


Senator Oakes - The State Statistician of New South Wales does not say so.


Senator RAE - What about the political organizers of the Liberal leagues in New South Wales, and the fact that they regulate their statements, when they are engaged in organizing work, according to the lack of intelligence and the credulity of their listeners. When they are amongst people who know something they are very moderate in their statements, but when they get amongst people who will believe anything, they tell them anything. I say that the Maternity Allowance Act must be allowed to remain as it is. . It will not be altered this year, anyhow, whatever may happen in the future. The Government have absolutely no chance of repealing that legislation, if they have to depend on the Senate for assistance to do so. I do not believe that they would be able to carry its repeal in another place. One of the most scandalous proposals that has been made is this proposal of the Government to subject a section of the community to inquiries of the most inquisitorial kind, in order to discover whether women have funds of their own, whether their husbands are out of work, drink their money, or play "two-up," or the aristocratic bridge.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT Gould - The Old-Age Pensions Act is framed in very much the same way.


Senator RAE - We did not frame it.


Senator Bakhap - But honorable senators opposite claim credit for it.


Senator RAE - This is. another of Senator Bakhap's irrelevant remarks.. We claim that without) our collective influence the Act would not have become law, but we accept no responsibility for the way in which the measure was drafted,, because our party was not in power at the time. This talk about our. claiming the credit for certain legislation, whilst Ave are not prepared to father its defects, is a fraudulent sort of criticism at the best. When a party holding the balance of power asserts the influence of its numbers, it cannot be throwing the Government out every day or every week. It has to support the Government from which it can get most. No one knows better than do honorable senators opposite that it cannot dictate every detail of legislation. When the Labour party held office, by general consent of the people of Australia, they accomplished so much-


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That they were turned out.


Senator RAE - They accomplished so much that they could not reasonably be expected to tackle every problem, and especially those which demanded such. big1 financial adjustments as the alteration of the Old-Age Pensions Act would have done. While I admit that we did not recast the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act on just the lines Ave desired, the alterations we made were on the lines in which Ave believe, and the new legislation which we introduced, in the shape of the Maternity Allowance Act, was framed on those lines. In our amendment of the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act we abolished the provision which made the value of a pensioner's home a charge against the pension, and so far as opportunity and funds permitted Ave legislated to bring about the equality of citizenship which is embodied in the Maternity Allowance Act.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - You never attempted to depart from the principle laid down, in the Old-age Pensions Act years ago.


Senator RAE - We considerably modified the effect of that principle by our amendments.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT Gould - But adhered to the principle.


Senator RAE - In one short period of three years Ave did not profess, to. reform- all the bad legislation we inherited from, the Conservative party during the- lastcentury. We could not proceed at. lightning speed. But had. Ave the opportunity of carrying a law of that kind, undoubtedly, it would have been on the lines of the maternity allowance- --that is, to raise the revenue Ave require by taxing those who are able to pay, and allow any one qualified by age and residence to claim his share. That is the true kind of legislation, which puts all classes on an equality, because it compels those who are best able to pay to find the money, and' then all who desire draw their proportionate share. There is no semblance of charity or pauper about it. I have no fear that this legislation will be seriously interfered with during the next year or two, at the latest. If our honorable friends opposite would take a little Arise advice, for their own sake, they would drop the proposal before they again go before the country. I Avant.now to deal with the proposal for developing the Northern Territory Avith great speed, and all that sort of thing. In its policy-statement, the Ministry say -

A Land Bill will be introduced to bake the place of the present Ordinance.

I think that that is necessary.

One of the principles of the measure will be the granting to settlers of the freehold of a generous living area with adequate safeguards against aggregation.

Another of their political farces - a generous living area. The two things are contradictory. There can be no freehold, in the full sense of the term, if a man is surrounded with restrictions and conditions it is necessary to comply with before lie can deal with the land. If the Government say that a man is to have land, and it is to be his own for ever, that he is nob to sell it to another man, that limitation of freehold logically destroys the very meaning of the term.


Senator Clemons - The other man is not there to buy.


Senator RAE - If the honorable senator was the only person who had money, and was, therefore, the only man able to buy my holding, and I could not sell to him because he had the maximum area allowed by law, I would not be free to sell, for there would be no buyer available. It would be a hollow freehold - quite compatible with alleged Liberal principles, I admit, but not a freehold in the sense generally understood.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - I should like to hear your definition of a freehold.


Senator RAE - Whatever the legal definition may be, there is a commonly accepted and understood meaning of the term. It means freedom for a man to buy and sell land, and, while he has it, to call it his own.


Senator Bakhap - I hope that you will vote for that principle; it is a good, sound one.


Senator RAE - I am quite sure that I will not. At any rate, it is quite inapplicable to the Northern Territory. On many occasions I have heard the statement, "Oh, yes, the leasehold principle, by which the State would reap the whole rental value of the land, would have been a splendid thing if we had only initiated it when the country was first settled, but it is too late now to apply it: There is a number of freeholders, and if you are going to create different classes, some allowed to hold freehold and some condemned to obtain leasehold, you will bring in a system which will not work. If you could only start in a new country, the leasehold principle is one which would command my support." I have heard Liberals on many occasions talk in that way. Now, here is an opportunity to try the principle in a country which is comparatively new and unsettled.. ' I should like to point out the great distinction to which even those who do not believe in leasehold as against freehold must, if they are thinking people at. all,, give consideration. You can at any time change leasehold into freehold, but. you cannot, without paying compensation, change freehold back to leasehold. One system is alterable at will, while the other is fixed, inasmuch as it immediately creates vested interests which must be compensated before they can be extinguished. What would be a generous- living area at the present time might be an enormously large area, blocking effective settlement in the comparatively near future. I ask honorable senators' to seriously consider my statement, not as a mere party utterance-, but as a working objection to give freeholds in what they would call generous living areas. That must mean generous as applied to present day conditions, and a freehold of a generous living area to-day may, in hundreds of cases, mean an estate large enough to- block settlement in the comparatively near future. The progress of events in the world is likely to become more rapid as time goes on, because as the waste places become filled up,, this country, while not the best, will probably be attractive enough to induce a fairlylarge settlement within a generation. Therefore, what the Ministry propose to give as no more than a sufficient living area under existing conditions may be an enormously large estate under the conditions which may exist in less than a generation, and consequently effectively block settlement, or else mean a huge financial outlay for resumption, such as is now being carried on in Victoria and other States.


Senator Bakhap - Every age must solve its own problems.


Senator RAE - That might be politics, but it is not statesmanship.


Senator Bakhap - Posterity must do the same as we have been doing.


Senator RAE - We are not solving our own problems, but the problems of our ignorant ancestors, of Tory misgovernment in the past. It is not its own problems which any community is ever called upon to solve, but the problems createdby the ignorance and misgovernment of past generations.


Senator Bakhap - Every system is good in its day.


Senator RAE - I wish that the honorable senator, with his cheap platitudes, would behave well in his day. Whatever may be its merits or demerits as an abstract principle, the contention I have raised is an eminently practical one, and one that should receive consideration by every person, apart from doctrinaire or academic politics.


Senator Oakes - Do you believe in giving a man more than a living area ?


Senator RAE - You have now to give a man for a living area infinitely more than what will be a living area in the days to come.


Senator Oakes - That is only a living area to-day.


Senator RAE - That is so.


Senator Oakes - Your party proposed to give a man the right to take up 2,000 square miles in the Northern Territory.


Senator Henderson - And your party allowed men to take up 11,000,000 square miles.


Senator RAE - It is inevitable that the resumption fund required must be enormous, because you would only require to resume in the event of the population having given the land a value. That value would be so great as to cripple the finances of the Northern Territory.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - You will never get a population there unless you give some inducement.


Senator RAE - The best inducement to offer is to give some kind of easy tenure. The mere giving of the freehold, as long as there is no great population there, will not at the present day give any substantial benefit to the holder ; but, on the other hand, .will build up a crop of troubles in the future when the land does become valuable. The early pioneers, whom my honorable friends opposite have chiefly in view, will not then be alive, in the majority of cases, to reap the benefits which they profess to offer them. What is the use of granting a freehold title of little value to-day, which, when it becomes really valuable, will belong to another generation ? On the one hand, the possession of the freehold will not be of any material value to the present settlers, because it will not be a realizable asset until the country does carry a big population. On the other hand, by the time the country does carry a big population, and the land has a real or high value, the present holders will be all dead and gone, and, consequently, it is not the pioneers who will benefit by the grant of a generous freehold. It is a system which, on the one hand, may benefit the speculator, and on the other hand retard settlement in the future. I do not wish to monopolize the time, but I want to point out that the proposal to carry out public works by contract in the future is another reactionary step. While I quite admit that it is a debatable question, I think we have already proved by practical experience in many parts of this country that the day-labour system is well worthy of retention, and of being tried on a much larger scale. I' am quite willing to admit that there may be abuses, and in some cases have been abuses. I am not making that remark in regard to Federal concerns, but generally. What is the cause of abuses? It is the want of efficient supervision. The whole secret of effective day labour is efficient supervision.


Senator Oakes - And you will never get it.


Senator RAE - One moment; it is not safe to prophesy unless you know.


Senator Oakes - Experience tells us that.


Senator RAE - Not universally. Let me point out one or two of the practical difficulties, which are in the way of being removed, to the effectiveness of the system. Let it be borne in mind that efficient supervision is responsible for the success of the day-labour system when it is carried on by a private contractor. The two systems are put in juxtaposition as though they were contradictory. As a matter of fact, the contract system generally means that the actual work is carried out on the day-labour principle. If I am a contractor for a railway or a building I generally employ my men by the day, and, consequently, the work is really done by day labour. I, as a contractor, have a vital interest in seeing that they do as much work as they can, and as quickly as possible, and, therefore, I try to supervise the work. But let me ask honorable senators opposite, Does any contractor personally supervise tha details of every man's work on a big railway contract? No. It would be humanly impossible for him to do anything of the kind, and therefore he engages foremen, gangers, and others, who, paid by him, supervise the respective branches of the work. Consequently it is on paid supervision that the contractor has to depend. If the private contractor can secure good supervisors, why cannot the State?


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - The only point is that the State does not get them.


Senator RAE - I wish to say that in all the States the contract system has been generally in force. Consequently the staffs of our Works Departments have grown up familiar with that system, but unfamiliar with the day-labour system Hence it is that, while efficient supervision has produced good results in some places, in others the State has .been unable to find men competent to carry out works under the day-labour system. To my mind, Government circumlocution and red-tapism are largely responsible for the failure to produce a staff of supervisors competent to carry out works by means of that system. However, the matter is not one which is incapable of adjustment. Experience in many instances has shown the value of day labour. Its failures have been held up to public reprobation to such an extent that its successes have been largely obscured. In many walks .of life, where organized labour has had no preponderating influence, the day-labour system has been adopted with magnificent results. In the building of Hordern's Emporium, after the fire a few years ago, 10,000,000 bricks were used, every one of which was laid by day labour.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Under whose supervision ?


Senator RAE - I do not know.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Under the supervision of the representative of Mr. Hordern.


Senator RAE - But the work was done by day labour. Mr. Hordern himself could not, personally, supervise it. He had to depend upon hired supervisors. If Anthony Hordern and Sons can engage competent supervisors, surely the State can do the same.


Senator Bakhap - How did the phrase " Government stroke " originate? What is its genesis?


Senator RAE - I cannot tell the honorable member; but in a few years' time I shall probably be able to tell him how he got his exodus. The phrase to which he refers originated many years before the Labour party came into existence. In addition to the fact that the contract system has frequently resulted in sweating - although this evil may be curbed by

Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards awards - it undoubtedly tends to bad workmanship. Some of the very worst scandals conceivable have been associated with the nature of the material and the workmanship which have been put into contract jobs. Honorable senators will, doubtless, recollect that terrible tragedy in Great Britain - the Tay Bridge disaster - which has been attributed to bad workmanship in the castings of the. bridge.


Senator Needham - And it was not built By day labour.


Senator RAE - No. I believe that the Carnegie Pittsburg Steel Works were responsible for some of the piers or girders in that bridge, the failure of which led to the disaster. We know that in concrete work, in bridge building, &c, there is a constant effort on the part of many contractors to put in less than the prescribed quantity of cement. Hence, supervision is required on the part of the Government, and, as sometimes the supervisors themselves may be "squared," it is necessary to have some one else to supervise them. All this supervision adds enormously to the cost, but these charges are not included in a comparison of the cost of the respective methods of carrying . out public works. When we get material from the Old Country, we know that we have to provide a highly-paid and efficient engineer to supervise the work done there. The cost of the clerical staff which he has to employ is a charge against the work, and all these costs are pitted against the lower cost of contract labour. I do hope that the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and also the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, will be constructed by means of day labour, in order to insure that the nien will be adequately paid, and the workmanship be of the best. I come now to the proposal to place the Postal Department under a board of Commissioners. That proposal has my hostility. No worse proposition could be made.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It would relieve the Minister of responsibility.


Senator RAE - If we are going to put the Postal Department under a board of Commissioners, we might as well place the whole country under a Commission. Indeed, I do not know that the latter would be an unworkable scheme. I do not know that a scheme could not be devised for running the country by means of a Commission, just as some of the cities in America are run by Commissions. But unless we are prepared to go the whole hog, there is a fallacy underlying the idea that we should place certain of our Government Departments under a Commission. What can such a body do which Parliament cannot do better? If the Commission is to be a managing body, it should be directly responsible to the PostmasterGeneral, who should, as at present, exercise Ministerial control. I object to a Department of such vital importance to present-day development as the Post Office being placed under a Commission, which would have some set idea that it should be conducted as a business concern. For one thing, I object absolutely to the perpetuation of some of the present disabilities to which country settlers are subject. A Commission would be more likely to increase than to remove those disabilities.It would probably provide additional facilities in the towns and cities where the Department is a paying concern. But where great lengths of country have to be traversed, and where settlement is sparse, the interests of those districts would be more neglected than they are at present.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - I doubt it.

SenatorRAE. - Whenever country members are sufficiently resolute, they can bring sufficient pressure to bear to compel a large modification of the existing system. We now have a direct control over the Postal Department. But if we place it under a Commission for a term of years, I know what will happen. Senator Gould must recollect our experiences in the New South Wales Parliament when we desired to learn anything about railway administration. The Minister of Railways would rise in his place and say, " In reply to the honorable member's question, so-and-so is the case; but I am utterly unable to deal with it. It is under the Railways Act, and comes within the purview of the Railways Commissioners." He would sometimes admit that a flagrant injustice was being done; but he would plead, " I cannot interfere; and, unless you are prepared to alter our Railways Act, I can do nothing." He was a mere figurehead, so far as the control of his Department was concerned. That is the position to which the PostmasterGeneral would be reduced if the Government proposal were carried out.

Honorable senators would be absolutely at the mercy of, probably, three Commissioners appointed by Ministerial Act to preside over the destinies of the Post and Telegraph. Department of a whole continent. These Commissioners would be entirely beyond the reach of the people's representatives.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - They would be subject to the control of Parliament.


Senator RAE - The honorable senator knows that it is very much easier to get a legitimate grievance redressed by influence over a Minister than by the alteration of an Act of Parliament. There is no reason why we should not have just as continuous a policy in the Post Office, even though its Ministers come and go, as we have in matters of naval and military defence, notwithstanding that Defence Ministers come and go. We shall not improve matters by handing over the control of the Postal Department to three Commissioners. We know that the rapid growth of the business of the Department makes it absolutely impossible to compare it with any private business. I have seen press writers urge that the Department should be conducted uponbusiness lines. They have said, " If three of the mercantile men of our large cities had charge of it they would make a big reform in a week." These writers are, so to speak, "talking through their hats." What business is there in the world which goes in for the enormous amount of detail which characterizes the Post and Telegraph Department? Absolutely none. There is nothing like it in private enterprise. It is not the kind of business which commercial men are trained to undertake. A growing Department of this kind ought to be under the constant supervision of Parliament, so that in regard to details as well as principles we can frequently bring effective pressure to bear for the removal of grievances. I apologize for taking up the time of the Senate for so long in dealingwith a matter which has an air of unreality about it. It is as well to remind the Government that there are two Houses of Legislature. It may be that measures which are outlined in the Government programme may be passed in another place, although I admit that that is rather a remote contingency. But even so, to the extent that they conflict with the principles of the party in opposition, they will be unceremoniously rejected here. Honorable members opposite realize that they cannot pass any measure through the Senate which is in opposition to the principles of the Labour party.


Senator Bakhap - Give us a little ceremony !


Senator RAE - If the honorable senator likes ceremony at a death-bed, he may have some, but the sooner this Government dies the better. It is sometimes urged that the Senate is an undemocratic Chamber, and is elected on a wrong basis.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - So said Mr. Hughes.


Senator RAE - I am not going into ancient history. If Mr. Hughes said so, I remember that I was an anti-Billite myself. I did my best to secure the rejection of the Commonwealth Constitution. I voted against it for many reasons. Many of the defects which I observed in the Constitution have since clearly revealed themselves. I voted against it because, as originally brought before the New South Wales Parliament by Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton, it contained many Tory conditions which were afterwards eliminated. 1 believed that by waiting we could get an even better Bill. I believed that the rapid progress of democratic ideas would secure improvements in many directions. But the Constitution was accepted, as a compromise, at the earnest solicitation of Senator Gould, amongst others.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - No, I voted against it.


Senator Bakhap - What a number of people who voted against the Constitution have managed to get into this Parliament.


Senator RAE - There is nothing in that point. Sir William Lyne was a strong opponent of the Constitution, and yet he was asked by the Governor- General to form the first Commonwealth Ministry. At any rate, the Constitution was adopted at the solicitation of many ardent Federalists on the ground that while they did not themselves believe in giving the smaller States the same number of senators as the larger ones had, yet that was the only way of securing Federation, and they were prepared to accept it on those terms. They agreed to a provision that under no circumstances should the principle of equal representation be altered, except at the wish of the States affected. Consequently, the Constitution in that re spect cannot be amended without the consent of the smaller States. Such being the case, why should Senator Clemons and Senator Bakhap, who represent a small State, associate themselves with senators and others who are now crying out against the principle of equal representation, seeing that they would not bo prepared to accept the surrender of that principle?


Senator Bakhap - Hear, hear!


Senator RAE - The representatives of the smaller States would, if they value their political lives, have to fight to the last gasp against any surrender of the principle of equal representation. What sincerity can there be then in members of the same party who happen to live in New South Wales or Victoria trying to raise the cry of the Senate being an undemocratic body ?


Senator Bakhap - That is a question which is quite irrelevant to the principles of Liberalism.


Senator RAE - The. honorable senator cannot dispose of the matter in that light and airy way. It becomes avital part of the so-called Liberal party if those with whom he is politically associated seek to justify the legislation which they propose on the ground that it is accepted by the popular Chamber, whilst we, an undemocratic and reactionary body, refuse to ratify it. Honorable senators cannot play fast and loose with this matter. They cannot fight against the principle which gives the smaller States the same power in the Senate as the larger ones, and at the same time say that they are upholding the Constitution.


Senator Oakes - That has nothing to do with a double dissolution.


Senator RAE - I am glad that the honorable senator manifests such a desire to go back to his constituents. But there can be no doubt that a' double dissolution would not benefit honorable senators opposite. Whilst we, on this side, are not looking for a double dissolution, because we can jog along tolerably well on a basis of twenty-nine to seven, still, I must confess that I should like to see the numbers more nearly equal, so that we could have more substantial foes to fight. But I warn honorable senators opposite that they stand to gain nothing by a double dissolution unless they can get the conditions altered to such an extent as to give them a majority here. They must remember that they are not merely fighting the majority which the Labour party secured three years ago. We obtained a majority of senators at the last election also.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - But honorable senators opposite obtained a minority of the votes of all Australia.


Senator RAE - There is no ground for that conclusion. It is regrettable that we have not yet the full figures relating to the last election. If we had them, I am convinced that it would be seen that we secured an absolute majority of the votes cast for the Senate in the Commonwealth as a whole. But my point is that a double dissolution would not benefit the Ministerial party at all. I quite agree that a double dissolution would suit our opponents better than a single one; but, though they may think that a double dissolution would answer their purpose, it would not do so ultimately. I believe that the people of this country at the last election were to a large extent caught napping, and that, as a matter of fact, the actions of the late Ministry met with such universal commendation from the vast majority of the people that they thought our Government was absolutely safe to come back with a majority. Overcertainty was largely responsible for our downfall. I am quite convinced that there is such an overwhelming feeling in favour of the democratic policy associated with the Labour party, and of the legislation which we placed upon the statutebook during the time our Government was in office, that at the next election our party will come back more solid than ever, and will be strengthened with the means to carry out those referenda proposals for which we have fought in the past.







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