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Wednesday, 1 October 1913


Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - After listening to what has been said here for many weeks, one might conclude that the debate on the AddressinReply was somewhat thrashed out. What has astonished me most is that, while there is a considerable number of measures to be discussed as men should discuss them in Parliament, the tendency of the newspapers is to regard the Senate as keeping back the legislation of Australia. We have waited patiently for measures to come from another place. I believe that one solitary little measure of about three clauses has found its way here. That is really all the legislation we have before us at the present time; yet, strange to say, the newspapers in this and the other States abuse the Senate in unmeasured terms for blocking the business of the Commonwealth. If we took up the Audit Bill to-night, we should be able, I have no doubt, to pass it before we adjourned, and, if we did so, apparently, we should not any longer be liable to the charge made against us. But we should then have to return to our homes, and have another adjournment while we were waiting for further measures to come from another place. I mention this in order to direct attention to the unfair statement of the position published by the newspapers throughout Australia. They barrack for one side only, instead of placing honestly before their readers the true position of political affairs. They shut their eyes and close their ears to everything that comes from the side of Labour, and they shut their eyes, also, to all the evils on the other side. Our friends opposite have boasted that some 800 newspapers barrack for them throughout Australia, and they reason that, because a newspaper ' is on their side, therefore the truth is on their side. That is a conclusion that will not stand analysis. We- know just why the newspapers are on the side of the present Government. It is because the Government represent the Capitalist party pure and simple. They are the upholders of what is known as " law and order," and law and order generally is on the side of wealth, and not on the side of poverty. Senator Gould knows well that law and order is always on the side of the man who has the fattest purse, just as Napoleon said that God was on the side of the biggest battalions. I entered this Chamber as a new member, without a bias, expecting to find in our honorable friends opposite opponents whom I might reasonably regard as men who would take up a true position.


Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - The honorable senator did not hope to convert them?


Senator SENIOR - I did not for a moment; but I expected to find that they would make statements which, upon examination would be confirmed by the truth. I little expected to hear, as I have heard since I entered this Chamber, statements made by honorable senators representing the Government that are contrary to fact, and to the reports of their own officers. These statements have been repeated without qualification, and there has been no intention to withdraw them expressed. I say that that is contrary to the code of ethics that is observed outside Parliament. When proceedings in Parliament have sunk to such a nethermost depth, there must be something radically wrong with the party that can only support itself by the adoption of such tactics.

Sitting suspended from G.SO to S p.m.


Senator SENIOR - At the adjournment for dinner I was dealing with the attitude of Ministers with respect to statements made during and subsequent to the last elections, and involving charges against the party to which I have the honour to belong. These charges were not merely preferred against the Labour party, but hurled at it in 'such a way as to indicate that there was not a shadow of a doubt as to their truth. They were of such a character that if there had been a shadow of doubt as to their truth, they would have justly called down the anger of the people of Australia upon that party. Early this session Senator Russell directed attention to certain remarks made by Senator McColl, but since that date the statements he complained of have been repeated, not only by Senator McColl, but, on the authority of his high position, by other speakers in every part of Australia. We know that Senator Russell showed unmistakably that there was not only little ground for them, but distinct evidence that they should never have been made until :at least Senator McColl had assured himself and reassured himself that the charges he was making were true.


Senator Mullan - -The honorable senator is repeating them even now.


Senator SENIOR - I thank the honorable senator for the interjection, because I wish to direct attention to that fact. Looking up Hansard. I find that on the 10th September Senator McColl withdrew these statements.


Senator McColl - No, I only withdrew one.


Senator SENIOR - I regret that in order to clear myself I must quote the honorable senator. He said -

I have heard of some cases, but I must say I cannot prove them, and, therefore, I withdraw the statement.


Senator McColl - That referred to one point only. Let the honorable senator be fair.


Senator SENIOR - I am sure that I shall in the circumstances be permitted to clear myself absolutely by showing that the honorable senator made no such qualification. He said -

The next statement I made at Fitzroy was that even the dead had been resurrected to vote. I may have been a little hasty in making that statement. I think there was a good deal of talk, as there is at the present moment. I have heard of some cases, but I must say that I cannot prove them, and, therefore, I withdraw the statement.


Senator McColl - That is the only statement 1 withdrew.


Senator SENIOR - Then I am to understand that the honorable senator's statement that 180,000 persons impersonated is not untrue.


Senator McColl - I never made such a statement. What I said was that there had been inflation to the extent of 180,000.


Senator SENIOR - I shall deal with the question of inflation, but I am dealing now with the references to impersonation and the duplication of votes.


Senator McColl - The honorable senator is putting words into my mouth which I never used.


Senator SENIOR - I find that when honorable senators opposite are cornered in this matter they immediately withdraw this, that, or the other, or qualify or stultify their previous remarks. But the newspapers throughout the length and breadth of the land continue to publish them without correction. I say that, as honorable men, we have no right to make statements in this Chamber which we cannot prove, and if we have made such statements we should, as honest men, withdraw them.


Senator McColl - I stand by the statement I made.


Senator SENIOR - I say that the honorable senator cannot prove the statements which were referred to by Senator Russell.


Senator McColl - I have the proof here.


Senator SENIOR - I remind the honorable senator, when he says that the rolls were inflated, that the percentage of voters at the last election was greater than at any previous election, and an inflation of the rolls and a larger percentage of voters cannot exist together.


Senator McColl - Look at the return by Mr. Knibbs, which was laid on the table last week.


Senator SENIOR - The return referred to does not concern this question at all. I say that an inflation of the rolls and an increased percentage of voters are self-destructive. In this connexion, also, honorable senators must bear in mind that, although there was an increased percentage of voters at the last election, the argument was advanced by our opponents that 70,000 or 80,000 voters were disfranchised by the Labour party by the abolition of the postal vote. All these statements cannot be correct. It is impossible for any one to substantiate the whole of them, and so I say that the arguments advanced by honorable senators on the Fusion side are absolutely without foundation. Senator McColl received a good lashing, which, I believe, he well merited, and at the time Senator Russell submitted his motion, he made no defence worthy of the name. A little later we found Senator Millen, the Minister of Defence, making similar outrageous statements, and in the face of the report from his own officials he neither withdraws nor qualifies them. Again and again he has said that he does not withdraw nor qualify them. These are the leaders of the Senate, who stand for the defence of the Government, and they are the men to whom Australia is looking for probity, truthfulness, and honesty in politics.


Senator Mullan - They will look to them in vam.


Senator SENIOR - My honorable friend is right. They will look in vain to that quarter for such qualities.


Senator McColl - Honorable senators opposite are the only pure crowd.


Senator SENIOR - Senator McColl cannot escape in that way. It is very easy for him to say that we are the only pure crowd, but I venture to assert that the entry of the Labour party into politics has done more to purify politics than anything that ever previously occurred in Australia. That is the reason our honorable friends object to Labour. There is another question which I wish to bring forward, and I am sorry that Senator Millen is not here. I was waiting last week for an opportunity to find the honorable senator in his place, but, if I mistake not, he was here only once last week. To-day we have a repetition of the same thing.


Senator Clemons - That is ungenerous, because Senator Millen is engaged upon public matters, I assure the honorable senator.


Senator SENIOR - We are considering public matters, and this is the day appointed for the Senate to discuss them. Are we to wait until it pleases Senator Millen to come here? The statements to which I allude had reference to the appointments made by the late Government. I wish to deal especially with a statement made respecting one appointment, which I consider is most unjust and cruel. It was made in the' absence of the man, and where he had no opportunity to defend himself. I refer to his statement in regard to Mr. Donald Campbell. He said that practically the only qualification Mr. Campbell possessed was that of being a member of the Labour party. That in itself is a good qualification, and one which, at one time, Senator Millen was -proud to possess, and which won him the confidence of those with whom he was associated to such an extent that he was elected to honorable positions.


Senator Russell - He was never a Labour man; he was only a Labour aspirant.


Senator SENIOR - I believe that, at one time, unless Hansard is incorrect, Senator Millen was a representative at a Labour Conference that was held in Sydney. That proves my statement that he received the confidence of those who, at that time, believed him to be sound in heart and true in faith, but he was neither.


Senator Long - What a narrow escape our party had.


Senator SENIOR - We havĀ« had many narrow escapes; and God is good. Harking back to the appointment of Mr. Donald Campbell, he was a member of the Labour party, and proud to be a member of it. I was his colleague for six years in the South Australian Parliament, and I would be less than a man, hearing what Senator Millen said, if I did not defend him here. So far as intelligence is concerned, a glowworm might as well criticise the sun for its light as Senator Millen criticise the ability of Mr. Campbell. The latter is well able to hold his own where he is, and will be a credit to the Commonwealth in the position in which it has placed him. For Senator Millen to prejudge Mr. Campbell is simply on a par With a great deal of the prejudgment which was made in regard to the Labour party. It ill becomes our honorable friends opposite, who are so ready to imitate our example to criticise us as they do. They very often judge a thing before it takes place, and say, " This or that will not work out as you anticipate " ; but when we have proved distinctly that what we assumed would turn out, they follow in our wake and say, "Oh, yes, buE you did not do it all yourselves." That argument was brought forward here this afternoon, with regard to old-age pensions. It was said that that scheme was not of Labour origination; that the Labour party could not have carried the system ; but our honorable friends know full well that it could not have been carried without the help of the Labour party. They know, also, that it was on the platform of the Labour party, and that every Labour man was pledged to carry it out.


Senator Bakhap - They know full well that the power to legislate on the subject was in the Constitution originally.


Senator SENIOR - I do not doubt that.


Senator Bakhap - At the Federal Convention there was only one member-


Senator SENIOR - My honorable friend resembles very much some of those volcanoes near which one can never build. They become eruptive when it is least expected. Like a volcano, the honorable senator gushes forth with tremendous force; but, after all, there is only a lot of splutter. Out of all the appointments which were made by the previous Government, it ill becomes our honorable friends to take exception to six or seven important positions, two of which fell to the lot of Labour men. Men who had Labour sympathies were able to fulfil the duties cast upon them. If we are to take the results of the last elections, we find that a majority of the electors in the Commonwealth have Labour sympathies, and are a majority of Labour sympathizers


Senator Bakhap - The majority put us on this side-


Senator SENIOR - Let me finish my sentence, then the volcano can break out again. Are the majority of Labour sympathizers disqualified from positions of that kind if they have the ability to hold them ? Such a proposition on the part of our honorable friends is shameful, I think. For fifty years or more in the politics of Australia they held full sway; for fifty years they worked their own sweet will; for fifty years their own supporters were placed in positions of responsibility; and because a breach was made, and that but a small one, they immediately raised the cry, " We are the people, and wisdom will die with us." My honorable friend opposite points that argument at me; but surely it ill becomes him now to say we think we are the wisest, seeing that they have tried to demonstrate that they only are the possessors of all true wisdom. I want to refer to another position which was taken up here, and that is with regard to Liberalism itself. It has ignored all its traditions. There is no such thing as Liberalism in the Fusion crowd to-day.


Senator Long - The Fusion party.


Senator SENIOR - Or, if my honorable friend likes, the Fusion party. I admit that they masquerade under the garb of Liberalism.


Senator Long - You adopted the slang of Senator McColl, who refers to us as a crowd.


Senator SENIOR - I could adopt, if I wished, a term from the lips of the man who was chosen Premier of South Australia, which is just as slangy as that; but I prefer not to use that kind of language. Has Liberalism, as it styles itself, proved that it is worthy of the name? I know a case where a man chose to affix on the door of the establishment in which he worked a placard. It was only a small one, for Labour men have not much money to spend in that way, nor have we much money to spend on such articles as that which was read here by an honorable senator to-day. It was also a very innocent one. The placard announced that a Labour meeting would be held at a certain time, and would be addressed by certain gentleman with Labour sympathies. What did his master, a prominent member of the Liberal Union, do? Immediately he stormed, and said, " Whoever put the placard "there, I will dismiss him on sight," and he did.


Senator Henderson - That is Liberalism.


Senator SENIOR - That is Liberalism.


Senator Long - He will go and talk about freedom.


Senator SENIOR - Liberals mouth those two words, but I ask my honorable friends opposite if they think that the action I have mentioned was in keeping with British fair play?


Senator Bakhap - No. What have you to say now!


Senator SENIOR - I have to mention another thing. I have in my pocket a letter from a man who moved a vote of thanks to the three Senate candidates at the last election. Within a week from that time he was called into the office, and discharged. What have my honorable friends opposite to say now?


Senator Bakhap - I say that it is not right, and that people who do that sort of thing do not understand Liberalism.


Senator SENIOR - The man who had to leave a position for doing such a simple thing as that shifted to another town, where he got work, but very quickly he was told that work was falling off yet his place was filled by another man. It is patent to my mind that for a man to-day to hold Labour views and sympathies is to immediately lose his means of livelihood.


Senator Bakhap - What will you ; say about a Labour landlord who raised the rents of his Liberal tenants because he found that they were supporters of the Liberal party?


Senator SENIOR - - I would say that he is imbued with too much of what is called Liberal principles.


Senator Bakhap - I could give you instances of that sort.


Senator SENIOR - Wait a moment. Another case which came under my notice was that of a man who was simply a worker under a district council. For six months after he took the secretaryship of the Labour branch in the place he could not obtain another day's work under the council, which was composed of members of the Liberal unions. These things abound all over the country. Instead of honorable senators making statements such as were called attention to here, instead of making statements which they cannot substantiate, they should raise their voices against the want of Liberalism that is displayed. .A man should be as free to hold his political faith as he is to hold his religious faith. We have fought to win one right, and we shall fight to win the other. Liberalism, should hold to the traditions of the past, and allow other persons to live just as well as it seeks to live. Coming to the policy statement of the Government, it opens by simply saying that the existing electoral law has not been found to work satisfactorily. That strikes me as a sentence which is incomplete. If the Government had said that the electoral law had not been found to work satisfactorily according to the views of the Liberal Union, or the Fusion policy, they would have stated a truth.


Senator Oakes - Seeing that we got rid of your majority of eleven, it worked pretty satisfactorily.


Senator SENIOR - Then why did the Government say that the electoral law has not been found to work satisfactorily? How can the honorable senator defend his leader's statement, and make his own? These gentlemen, who possess wonderful wisdom, will not speak, if it can be helped, where their arguments can be met, but where there is a crowd of people, who are not keen in politics, immediately they make statements, because they know that they will not be called in question. The electoral law that is called attention to in the Ministerial policy statement was operating in South Australia, and, under its provisions, three Labour senators were returned to the Senate.


Senator Oakes - We got a double dose of Labour in New South Wales.


Senator SENIOR - Like many bad logicians, my honorable friend is going to draw a conclusion from one single premise. Is he going to draw the conclusion that the electoral law has not been found to work satisfactorily in South Australia ?


Senator Oakes - No. I say that we got a double dose of Labour in New South Wales.


Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator reminds me of a Frenchman who went travelling on one occasion. In his own view, he was rather wise, 'and he thought he would take notes as he went round. In conversation, one evening, he complained of having a cold, and some one said to him that a salt -herring was a very good thing for a cold. He put that down in his note- book as something which was good. He got the advice from an Englishman, and therefore thought it should be good. The Englishman avowed that it would cure a cold on any occasion. When the Frenchman got back to France, he recommended the remedy to a friend, but a fatal result followed, and so he put a note in his note-book that a salt herring would cure an Englishman, but kill a Frenchman. My honorable friend opposite seems to be drawing the conclusion that the existing electoral law will return Labour men in South Australia, but Fusionists in New South Wales.


Senator Bakhap - You are drawing a red herring across the track.


Senator SENIOR - Possibly there were other circumstances and other factors, of which my honorable friend is not taking due cognisance. Seeing that he gained a majority in New South Wales, why is he dissatisfied with our existing electoral law? If it has proved satisfactory to him, why not let it alone? If it works out all right in New South Wales, surely there is not so much difference between the climate or the physique of men as to deter him from allowing it to be tried in South Australia?


Senator Oakes - I am in favour of giving the sick and infirm an opportunity to vote.


Senator SENIOR - Judging by the men who were returned to this Parliament in New South Wales, there must have been a lot of sick and infirm people there. I notice that our opponents are very ready to criticise our electoral law because it did not work satisfactorily to them, but they are not just enough to direct attention to the record of the late Ministry. They are not prepared to acknowledge that it was a good one; that it was better than that of any of their predecessors. They will not admit that the Fisher Government dealt with more national questions-


Senator Oakes - And imposed higher taxation.


Senator SENIOR - Will the honorable senator indicate in what way they increased taxation? I decline to accept his bald statement on the matter. His cry about higher taxation reminds me of that blessed word "Mesopotamia." It is simply a cry, and nothing but a cry. It reminds me of the work of shaving pigs - there is very little wool and a lot of squeak. But on whom has higher taxation fallen?


Senator Oakes - On the working classes.


Senator SENIOR - Let me ask my honorable friend in what way the working classes have paid higher taxation. Have their incomes exceeded the exemption under the income tax? As the honorable senator does not reply, I must conclude that he has no defence. He knows well enough that the only additional taxation imposed at the instance of the late Government was the progressive land tax, and he cannot truthfully say that that tax fell upon the working man. So that this cry, after all, has nothing in it.


Senator Oakes - Mr. J.C. Watson made the statement at the last Eight Hours banquet.


Senator SENIOR - I am not concerned with what Mr. Watson, or any other individual, may say. This is the place where we have to debate legislative measures. When my honorable friend says that the Labour party are responsible for higher taxation, it is incumbent upon him to prove his statement. To my mind, honorable senators opposite must have a distorted political vision. They see evils in others which exist most largely in themselves. They are only too ready to -

Compound the sins they feel inclined to,

By damning those they have no mind to.

They blame the Labour party for having increased taxation, when they know perfectly well that we have not increased it. They know that taxation has increased only through the Customs House. The figures of the Commonwealth Statistician prove that our protective policy is not high enough, and that, as a result, we are consuming more imported goods than we used to consume. In that way only has taxation increased. But that is not the fault of the Labour party. Honorable senators know that in this Chamber the new Protection, which would have paved the way to a lowering of taxation to the consumer was most strongly resisted by my honorable friends opposite. Another point which strikes me is that the very first line of the statement in the Ministerial declaration of policy relating to the recent elections begs the whole question. Evidently honorable senators opposite first draw their conclusions, and then shape the premises from which they can make a logical syllogism. At the last general election a larger number of electors exercised the franchise than exercised it at any previous election in the Commonwealth, and every vote was cast in the presence of an electoral officer and scrutineers. Yet the Government say that our electoral system has been found to work unsatisfactorily. If my honorable friends opposite are prepared to back up that statement, they will merely prove that they are in favour of a lax electoral law, under which there will be no power to see that votes are cast righteously. They will merely prove that they desire to do away with a system which provides absolutely necessary safeguards. Notwithstanding that they declaim against duplication of votes, impersonation, the undue inflation of rolls, and the disfranchisement of thousands, they must acknowledge that at the last elections more 'scrutiny was exercised over the votes cast than had been exercised, at any previous election. Their charges of electoral irregularities have not been proved. How could thousands of persons be disfranchised and yet a larger percentage of electors vote 1 It is about time that these charges were thoroughly investigated. We have heard again and again that this Senate is undemocratic. Why? For the simple reason that it returns Democrats. If by any accident a majority of Fusionists were returned to this Chamber, we should hear no more about the Senate being undemocratic. It would be the most glorious institution- that was ever invented. But because so many Labour representatives are here, it is not democratic. To draw conclusions of that character seems to me to savour of mental insolvency. The public are responsible for the present political situation, and when members of this Parliament at their week-ends raise a hue-and-cry about it, they are reflecting on the intelligence of their masters. I wish to ask them, ' ' Are not the electors at perfect liberty to choose whom they will as their representatives?"


Senator Bakhap - I hope so.


Senator SENIOR - I would like the honorable senator to say that they are.


Senator Bakhap - That is a self-evident proposition.


Senator SENIOR - Then it is selfevident that when members of this Parliament reflect upon its composition they are reflecting upon the intelligence of the people who sent them here. If an unworkable situation has arisen, and we immediately rush back to our masters and say, " Here. you have made a blunder," we confess that we are not prepared to perform the duty that we were sent here to perform. On our file of Bills to-day is one solitary measure which has come to us from the other Chamber. We have now been in session for ten or eleven weeks, and yet that is the total legislative product. In this Senate there are thirtysix members who have been sent here by the people to work. The Government have power to initiate Bills in this Cham ber. But they have not followed that course, and the Labour party have been slated again and again by the press, as if they were responsible for the present position. I say that we are not. We are ready to proceed with work as soon as it is provided for us. Honorable senators opposite are those who are responsible for the present position. I charge them with having neglected the duty that they were sent here to perform. It is their duty to see that this branch of the Legislature, as well as the other branch of it, is kept at work. The Government have taken exception to the rolls. They say that there has been undue inflation, and that the rolls must be purified. The word " purification," coming from the source that it does, reminds me very much of what took place in times past. I have seen something before of this roll-purifying, at the suggestion of political societies. I know full well that it means the removal of an immense number of Labour votes from the rolls, and diffculty in restoring them. The only names that will be removed by honorable senators opposite will be Labour names. All sorts of others will be left on, and no attention will be paid to them. But let a Labour voter go away to shear, let his wife go to visit her mother, and their names will be struck off the roll. Let a Labour voter remove from one street to another, although he may continue in the same subdivision, and his name will be struck off. Advantage will be taken of every little excuse. Every man and woman over twenty-one years of age in Australia has a right to be on the electoral roll, and the name of no man or woman ought to be removed without his knowledge. We should not take it upon ourselves to strike off the name of any person who has a right to vote. We exceed our duty when we attempt any such action. To go on to the platform and talk about purifying the roll is to use a nice catchy phrase, but we know what it means. It must not be assumed by our opponents that there is no desire on our part to have a pure roll; but we want to insure that every elector in Australia shall have an opportunity of recording his vote. I am very pleased with one piece of work done by the previous Government. I allude to the provision for compulsory enrolment. I believe that that change led to the very much larger poll at the last election than at any previous time. There were many persons who thought their names were on the roll, and who, perhaps, might have been a little indifferent about it. But they were waited upon, their names were obtained, they were placed on the roll, and certainty gave place to doubt. There is one provision of the electoral scheme of the Government to which, T think, exception should be :aken. I allude to the provision that a man's name shall not be placed on the roll within thirty days of the issue of the writ. Suppose a by-election takes place. Very often these things come suddenly. Those who have experience of political warfare know that it is not until an election becomes imminent that some people will take the trouble to see whether their names are on the roll. A person may remove from one subdivision to another, or even from one division to another, and may not take the trouble to see that his name is transferred. Under this thirty days' provision, I venture to say that a large number of persons will be disfranchised, because more names are put on the roll within the last thirty days than during the previous sixty days. Practically, the Government say to an elector: "It is your duty to enroll, and there is a section of the Act which compels you to do so, but for thirty days you shall not be allowed to enroll." The Government are going to stultify a previous Act of this Parliament. By one provision they say that a person has a right to be enrolled, and that it is his duty to get enrolled; and by another provision that he shall not exercise his right. The whole spirit of the original provision is being reversed. I wish to say one or two things about the postal vote, and what I have seen in connexion with it


Senator Findley - The -restoration of the postal vote is the " national policy " of the Government.


Senator SENIOR - I know what the postal vote is. I have seen it in operation, and know how it works. I have here a list of postal votes recorded in South Australia. I will read the numbers, and mention the streets in which the persons lived. This is what occurred. No. 413 lived in Grey-street, Mount Gambier, which is within less than a quarter of a mile of the post-office.' Yet the postal vote of No. 413 was issued at a little post-office 5 miles away. No. 409, a different person, lived in the same street. No. 395 and No. 393 lived in the next street, Elizabeth-street, and No. 394 lived in Grey-street. Nos. 396, 389, 371, and 370 lived in Claraville, a suburb of Mount Gambier. These voters were living 5 miles away from the postoffice the stamp of which was used, although they were within half-a-mile of the Mount Gambier Post-office. No. 369 was on the Penola-road at Mount Gambier, less than 2 miles away from the Mount Gambier Post-office. No. 398 lived within 400 yards of another post-office, but 5 miles away from the postoffice the stamp of which was used. Of course, our opponents are anxious to reinstitute the postal vote, which enabled them to do this kind of thing. I have evidence as to two others living at Sutton Town, and yet the stamp of a post-office 5 miles away was used on their postal votes. I believe that the postmistress herself used it. The stamp was sent round in a buggy. I called attention at the time to the fact that the stamp of the post u mee that was nearest to these electors was not used. I wrote to the Deputy Postmaster-Genera] in Adelaide about it, but nothing could be done. Our friends opposite want to introduce provisions which will enable that kind of thing to be done in open daylight, and yet they are talking about impersonation. Where is their consistency and their honesty in the matter? They know full well that a system of that kind lends itself to all kinds of fraud. When the system was established in South Australia, the condition was laid down that a person applying for a postal vote should send in an application, when the votingpaper was forwarded to him, " care of Blank." The "Blank" was usually a canvasser for the Liberal Union. I have seen a canvasser march into the Mount Gambier Post-office with five or six votes, and I saw him supervise them while they recorded their votes in the little compartments where telegrams are written. It was no business of the postmaster to interfere, because the election was a State election, and he was not a State officer. Yet our opponents wish to re-institute a system which offers such facilities for fraud, and for the destruction of the secrecy of the ballot. They will go before the country and say that they demand a pure voting system. Why all this hypocrisy ? Why not say straight out what they really desire ? What is the real meaning of this sinister proposal about signing a numbered butt, but a desire to see how a man votes, and thus to carry out the victimization policy by making people suffer for their political opinions? The whole proposal is a sham and a delusion. The Government are endeavouring to throw dust in the eyes of the people, whilst all the time they want to introduce a system of voting by which they can use every possible means of impersonation and victimization. They profess to be anxious that every man shall have an opportunity of recording his vote, and yet they want to make people suffer for the way in which they use their right. I might deal with other proposals in the beautiful policy which nas been brought before us. Ministers say that they are opposed to any preference or favoritism in the Public Service. I suppose they mean that they are opposed to preference to unionists. I have shown that, while Ministers say this, those who support them are pretty careful to indicate that they very much favour the men who are on their side of the political fence. It must be admitted that a strong Opposition is just as necessary as a strong Government party, in order to get good legislation. Surely we on this side of politics have as much political truth as our opponents, and we have a right to voice our opinions, and to carry them into law if we can secure a majority. While Ministers profess that they are opposed to favoritism in the Public Service, and have " taken steps to provide that competency and merit shall be the basis of employment and preferment iu public works," how do they propose to carry out this grandiloquent phrase? They propose to amend the law with regard to conciliation and arbitration to provide that there shall be ah exemption operating against rural workers. Here are people who profess that they do not believe in preference, and that they do believe in purity, and so forth, and yet they propose to legislate to debar rural workers from the same privileges as are enjoyed by other workmen. Is not the rural worker a competent man? Surely he has as much right as any other man to the protection of the law. Why ostracise him from _ its operation ? Why make him practically a helot in our community? Why make his position one which should be shunned rather than de- sired ? Our friends opposite forget that the primary producer is to-day calling out that he can get no labour. For years past that has been the cry of the farmer and producer in South Australia. Why is it that labour for the farmer is scarce? There was a time when a man employed on a farm lived on it, and reared his family on it. It was partly his home, and his children were born there, and received their education at the nearest school. As time went on the man became a farmer himself, but to-day the position of the rural worker is so reduced that ali his life he can look forward only to be a "hand," and never a soul. He knows that he is to be taken up only when he is wanted, and for the briefest possible time. Machinery is displacing him on every side, and yet the farmers are crying out for workers. For how long do they require them ? In the earlier days the rural worker was on the farm for the ploughing and seeding. He was there when the crop was grown, and had to be reaped. He was there when the corn was thrashed.


Senator Bakhap - He seems to have been there all the time.


Senator SENIOR - Yes, he was there all the time, but now he is not required either at the ploughing or the reaping, though he may be wanted for a short time to lift the wheat bags into waggons. Yet he 'is expected to be waiting for the farmer when the farmer wants him, and is not to be given the protection which other men have. He is to be denied the right to combine with others in a union. I would like to know why this direct set is made by the Government against preference to unionists. Preference to unionists, we know, largely means preference to the best men engaged in any industry. The best tradesmen in any trade are to be found in the union associated with that trade. If we consider the history of unionism we shall find that unionists have never been lacking in self-sacrifice. Not long ago I read an account of an incident that occurred, I believe, in Ballarat, where a man saw his mate in danger, and, although he knew that the fuse had been lit, and was urged to leave, he did not do so, but drew his mate away from the danger zone at the risk of his own life. He was a unionist. Only a few months ago the case was reported of a seaman, a member of a union, who held to the wheel, as it was his duty to do, until the "boat struck the shore, and risked and lost his own life in order to save the lives of others. 1 might multiply cases of the kind exhibiting the highest self-sacrifice and the noblest and highest attributes of the human race in the ranks of unionists. Yet to-day the Government apparently desire that men shall be kept outside unions and denied the help of their fellow-men in times of stress and struggle. I would ask whether the farmers do not join unions? Are they not all raked into the Liberal Union by the political agitators? Are our friends consistent in this matter, and do they tell the master that he must not join a union because his servant is not to be allowed to join, a union ? Our honorable friends acknowledge that these are good things, but apparently they desire that all the good things should be enjoyed by one side only. I have no wish to labour the question. I have had my say, but I wish to repeat, as a newcomer here, that I hope " we shall in future be spared such exhibitions as we have had from the Ministerial benches, and that Ministers, when they go forth to enlighten the public, will take care that the statements they make are founded on fact, and will not, in their indignation against the party opposed to them, make statements which are due to their imagination rather than to their regard for the facts of the case.







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