Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 8 June 1906

Mr REID - I hope that my honorable friend will not impute that the Sydney Morning Herald would garble a telegraphic report of a speech of the Prime Minister. The honorable gentleman will hardly say that ?

M,r. Ewing. - They, will do what is necessary.

Mr REID - I think that if any one will do what is necessary up to a degrading point, it is the honorable the Vice-President of the Executive Council. This is the statement made in the newspaper; it may have been an invention, but I decline to believe it -

The Prime Minister said he had offered to make arrangements with them -

That is the Labour Party - with a view to the business of the rest of the session -

Mr Deakin - That was after the Labour Ministry was formed.

Mr REID - Oh ; then I must add the' rest of it - and the Labour Party refused.

They refused. So this is some other negotiation we have heard nothing about. This negotiation never came before the public.

Mr Deakin - It did often, and it has been often referred to in this House.

Mr REID - Then all I can say is that I have missed the reference, that is all.

Mr Watson - The right honorable gentleman was away a lot, he must remember.

Mr REID - This is news to me. I wish to point out that when the Labour Government came into power after supporting the Deakin Government and their friends for three years, the first thing that the Deakin party did, including the honorable and learned member forInd, and the honorable member for Hume, the Minister of Trade and Customs, was this : The very first day after the Labour Government took possession of the Treasury benches, and began their career, those who had been supported by them, and who had held office owing to their support for three years, crowded us out on this side of the House.

Sir William Lyne - That is not correct. Mr. REID. - Well, I got a bit crushed, I remember, by the Prime Minister. There was scarcely room for both of us on this chair. I remember that so eager was my honorable and learned friend to assume the position of a political opponent of the Labour Party that I had actually to fight for the chair which I had occupied for three long weary years. These are simply preliminary observations, with reference to the more serious position, which is aggravated to-day. The position of affairs which existed then has become ten times worse today. The Deakin Government is only a shadow of what it was in those days, when Sir Edmund Barton and the right honorable member for Adelaide, Mr. Kingston, were members of the Government. Both in point of numbers and in point ofability, the present Deakin Government is a wretched shadow - I do not mean physical ly - of the Government which existed in the earlier days of Federation..

Mr Deakin - What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue."

Mr REID - The Labour Party had only been in possession for about two weeks of the benches which the Prime Minister and those associated with him had occupied for three years by their support when, on the roth of May, the honorable and learned gentleman expressed these views. Either they were the sincere expressions of convictions which he had entertained for a long period, or they were expressions which were manufactured to suit the cold shades of Opposition. I prefer as I think we all should, to believe that they represented the sincere convictions of the honorable gentleman. We all know that he can play with words as dicers can play with oaths but we will give him credit for expressing his sincere convictions when addressing the people of Australia. Speaking in the Town Hall, Melbourne, this is what he said of a state of things that had been existing so long, and had become painfully acute when he was thrown out, and his labour allies took his place -

I am perfectly certain that a mind as clear as that of Mr. Watson, fully recognises what has been termed the practically impossible position of parties in Parliament. It is three months since I took occasion to call attention to the matter in the most open manner that was then possible. I pointed out then that there were three parties in existence, and that if "two is company and three's none," -

Before and after the honorable gentleman has found three parties all right - two parties mean constitutional government, and three are just about equal to none.

Here we have the solemn, sincere statement of the competent Prime Minister that two parties mean constitutional government and three are about equal to none. I adopt those expressions; I believe the Prime Minister was right, and, using his words, I say that the most serious feature of the political situation is that under present conditions parliamentary government is impossible. I know the figures will not be very pleasant to honorable members opposite, but I think I am entitled to show that the present state of affairs is infinitely worsethan any that previously existed in this House. Take the position of the Government in reference to its supporters in both Chambers : We find, first of all, that among the representatives of the four States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, the Government have not one single supporter in the Senate.

Mr Page - What about Senator Drake?

Mr REID - I hope that the honorable member will speak for himself.

Mr Page - The right honorable member is making a misstatement, and I wish to correct him. Senator Drake was returned as a supporter of the Barton Government.

Mr REID - I am talking of the present state of things. The honorable member complained a few minutes ago that I was dealing with ancient history, yet he is now twisting the history of to-day into that of former times.

Mr Page - Senator Drake has not been before his constituents since the time to which I refer.

Mr REID - I believe I am correct in stating that Senator Drake is not a supporter of .the present Administration ; I do not think that statement calls for contradiction. I repeat that not one senator representing New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, or Western Australia is a supporter of the Government. The Government have one supporter from Tasmania, and three from Victoria, or, including Ministers, six supporters in the Senate, out of a membership of thirty-six. A Government possessing executive -power over the Commonwealth that is so situated is in a worse position than any ever occupied by an Administration in. Australia. I come now to the position of affairs in the House of Representatives. Taking again the four States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia we find that only two of their representatives in this House support the present Administration, while Tasmania gives them one, so that they have only three supporters among the representatives of the five States. Finally, Victoria gives them eight supporters. I am giving the Ministry all the representatives of this State sitting upon the other side of the House, excluding only the honorable member for Echuca, who, I believe, has crossed over to this side. The figures I have quoted show that the Government have a total of eleven supporters in this Chamber. Inclusive of seven Ministers, they have a party of eighteen in a House with a membership of seventy-five, or, taking both Houses, a party of twenty-four in a Parliament of in members.

Mr Deakin - " Four-and-twenty blackbirds."

Mr REID - I think they are going into the pie very soon, and that two " cooks " will assist in the operation.

Mr Deakin - They will then begin to sing.

Mr REID - I merely wish to point out that the position of affairs is now infinitely worse, and that the eminently wise remarks made bv the Prime Minister on the occasion to which' I refer are still more potent. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say -

I look upon the acceptance of the responsibility of the majority as the most pressing importance that awaits us, and the revival of parliamentary methods as a matter of urgency.

Thus for three years constitutional parliamentary method's had been destroyed, and the moment the honorable gentleman left office he found their revival a matter of urgency -

Moreover, I feel convinced that parliamentary methods cannot be revived unless constitutional principles are given free play.

So that again the honorable gentleman admits we had not been living under constitutional principles for three years, and he suddenly found it a matter of great urgency that we should recover our parliamentary system of government -

At present they are not given free play from the whole of the House, because, although they may operate upon some portions of it, they play upon an imperiuminimperio, and they have to deal with Mr. Watson's party, lt draws outlines without considering expedients, and with regard to wh'ich it puts everything beyond its pale, and it makes all those who are not within it against it, because they are without it, and if that policy has to be pursued, Mr. Watson will have lo take his place, not upon the Treasury benches, but upon the Opposition side of the House.

This statement was made within two weeks after those who had supported' him for three years had taken office. After theLabour Party had been in office for a fortnight, the Prime Minister practically gave them a notice to quit; for it is weltknown that the Labour Party cannot receive any addition to its ranks unless candidates are prepared to take the pledge and to submit to the caucus system. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who is as close a friend of the Labour Party as any man could be, is not in the 'party because of that simple consideration. The Prime Minister went on to say -

Does the rule of the majority at present obtain in Australia? (Cries of "No.") What threefourths of th" country is suffering from is want of organization. What the other part suffersfrom is over-organization.

So that, according to the Prime Minister, three-fourths of Australians are outside of the Labour Party, because threefourthssuffer from want of organization and onefourth from over-organization.

Mr Hutchison - They will all be inside of the Labour Party after next election.

Mr REID - Well, they will be inside of something. I .am using these words because they describe my view of the present situation more forcibly and more eloquently than I could do.

I say there can be nothing more derogatory lo a representative or injurious to his standing in Parliament than to see a body of men required to pledge themselves to vote and act as their judgment would not direct them to.

There is a direct arraignment of the methods of the Labour Party.

Mr Watson - Not at all. I agree with that.

Mr REID - I suppose that the minority obtained by some miraculous process suddenly become convinced when they are defeated.

Mr Watson - We never have a minority on important questions.

Mr REID - I want to go a little further. Before the Labour Ministry were in power for one month, the present Prime Minister was associated with me in conference to arrive at an understanding which would enable us to eject them from office. My position as leader of the Opposition was a perfectly fair and straightforward one. I suppose that even this Opposition will be allowed the right to put out the Government if it can. The moment the Labour members took their places upon the Treasury Bench the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who had been separated from me for a long time - we had never worked together before in our political career - salt down with me to plan their overthrow, and we succeeded in accomplishing it.

Mr Thomas - And the honorable member for Flinders says that you were too ambitious.

Mr REID - That is the infirmity of noble minds, and the misery of inferior minds. The Prime Minister co-operated with me loyally in putting out the Labour Government. I have nothing to complain of in that regard. He was unceasing in his anxiety to secure their defeat, and by his able instrumentality I was able to eject the Labour Party from office. The honorable and learned member afterwards went to Ballarat to establish a national league - against the Labour Party of Australia - and in his statement there he spoke with great plainness. He pointed out the serious position of affairs in Australia. He said -

Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude, and perhaps to social slavery, we want to rally to our flag those in favour of responsible government, to restore majority rule, and to maintain that priceless heritage which our forefathers have handed down to us, and which we should preserve, or perish.

Grand language ! But the honorable and learned member has sacrificed that "priceless heritage " for a miserable mess of pottage. He has sacrificed the opportunity of arresting the downward path of Australia; he has assisted those whom he has de nounced as rushing Australia over a ruinous precipice: Mind, it may suit the Labour Party. I do not complain of their position at all. They are entitled to get support from any one who will give it. It is not for them to inquire what his motives are. If Mephistopheles himself were to vote for me, I should think that for once he had done a good action. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say -

Whatis more, you must swallow them whole. If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and in other States, to assert your individuality, if you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects, or in relation to party arrangements, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.

Mr Fisher - Arabian Nights!

Mr REID - I do not know about that; but in the Arabian Nights there is not a scene that can suggest a more grotesque alliance than that which exists, in view of these utterances, between the Prime Minister and the Labour Party to-day.

Mr Hutchison - But he has not swallowed much of our programme yet.

Mr REID - In the most vivid descriptions of the romances in the Arabian Nights there was always some suggestion of an honest attachment. There might be too many attachments - attachments might, perhaps, have reached a degree which was not quite consistent with a proper self-respect - but right through the wonderful lovemaking of the characters in the Arabian Nights there was always some suggestion of a more or less romantic attachment. There can be no honest attachment between a public leader and the Labour Party when he denounces them as the enemies of the Constitution, as the destroyers of parliamentary government. The honorable and learned gentleman did not confine these remarks to the convivial surroundings of the Town Hall luncheon. He, in the presence of the Labour Party in this House, made the following statement only a few months after the Labour Ministry had taken office: -

Those most closely allied with the Labour Party, those who make the greatest sacrifices for them, who stand closest to them, and who

I most wish to help them, are always the first to be sacrificed by them. One may help the Labour Party for one month, two months, three months, or four months, but the moment one stops or makes a single independent step, he is treated as a bitterenemy. After having been apparently trusted, he will be treated as if suspected from the first moment; he will be condemned as if he had attacked them' from the outset. That 'is the treatment which follows alliances with political machines. . . .

Ill the Arabian Nights there is nothing about an alliance of that sort. If I - the man whom the Labour Party in New South Wales supported in office for five years - were to use one-half of these epithets, my honorable friends would denounce me in the strongest possible language. I am very glad to say that, when my honorable friends of the Labour Party thought fit to put me out of office in New South Wales, I never complained of it or abused them; and to this day they quote the record I put upon the annals of Parliament of the honorable methods which they had adopted through the whole of their alliance with me.

Mr Hutchison - Some of us denounced the Prime Minister for that.

Mr REID - I am glad to hear that ; but it is only a matrimonial quarrel. The Prime Minister has developed a craze for alliances for which no parallel can be found except in that interesting work of fiction to which reference has been made. After the interchanges between ourselves, and his opinions of the Labour Party, one would scarcely expect that; when he opened his campaign with a speech in 'Ballarat, a short time ago, he would" make this statement: -

We must either have an alliance with Mr. Reid or an understanding with Mr. Watson.

Note the shade of difference ! I am worthy of an honest, dose alliance, but the Labour Party are only entitled to an understanding. ' To that offer of an alliance with either or, I suppose, both, the honourble and learned gentleman attached a condition which was impossible. The Prime Minister asked that either the party -which I have the honour to lead, or the party which the honorable member for Bland has the honour to lead, should pledge itself to a high Tariff as the price of cooperation. The honorable and learned Prime Minister ought to know that that condition is equally impossible in the case of the Opposition and in the case of the Labour Party. He ought to know that the Labour Party is on a basis which enables honest free-traders and honest protectionists to form one great party. It is an insult to the Opposition, or most of them, and it is an insult to those members of the Labour Party who are freetraders, to offer an alliance as the price of the sacrifice of political conviction. But the Prime Minister at Camperdown went even further. He directed his attention to the free-trade members of the Labour Party. I do not know whether this is another invention of the enemy, but I can only trust to the newspapers, and the Prime Minister is reported to have said, speaking of the free-trade members of the Labour Party-

They put themselves, by neglecting protection, in the position of the man who saws off the bough on which he has been sitting.

What sort of conception of political principles is there in the mind of a man who appeals to men like the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Kennedy, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Wide Bay, and the honorable member for Canobolas, who are honestly attached to the principle of, at any rate, a revenue Tariff as against a protective Tariff-

Mr Fisher - I am not in favour of a revenue Tariff.

Mr REID - Then I shall leave the honorable member for Wide Bay out of the list. I know that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Canobolas, the honorable member for Maranoa, and .the honorable member for Kennedy have shown their beliefs very forcibly ; and to ask those honorable members to sacrifice any of their political principles, which their own party does not ask them to sacrifice, and to suggest that they are destroying themselves by adhering to those principles, is, I think, to occupy a position unworthy of a public leader.

Mr Wilks - The honorable member for East Sydney has omitted to mention the honorable member for Perth.

Mr REID - Then I beg that honorable member's pardon. The omission is a mere accident; I do not pretend to mention all the honorable members so situated, but merely some of those I see in front of me. I want to point out that the offer I have indicated is not a fair offer for any public man to make as the price of an alliance - an alliance, not for a truce, but in order that free-traders shall sacrifice their principles, and become, not moderate protectionists, but rabid protectionists. It is not a fair offer, and the Prime Minister ought not to think that it will be accepted. The Prime Minister indulged in the same sort of remark in Adelaide when he appealed to the Labour Party to vote solidly for a high Tariff. The honorable gentleman must see that even to satisfy his morbid craze for political alliances people are not prepared to sacrifice principles of great moment. It is quite possible to meet, as the Prime Minister and I met, on the basis of a fiscal truce. That is quite conceivable, and, I think, quite proper; and it is the basis on which the Labour Party stand to-day. But to ask us to hoist the enemy's flag is asking too much, and' it is quite impossible that the offer can ever be accepted. With reference to the suggestion which has been made that we clear the Tariff difficulties out of the way by putting the Tariff right before the elections - well, I came in on a policy of fiscal war. I am not bound, as some honorable members, especially the Prime Minister, are bound, in reference to these matters. I do not forget the statements the Prime Minister made, and I shall watch with interest the attitude he will assume. So far as I am concerned', and most of the honorable members on this side, and a number of members of the Labour Party, we cannot be expected to carry out any such policy as. that of a high Tariff, whilst I think we are all prepared to help the Government in dealing with any reports of the Royal Commission.

Mr Webster - No matter how high the suggested duties mav be?

Mr REID - I have pointed out that, from the nature of the Royal Commission, it is impossible that there can be a protectionist report.

Mr Mauger - The whole thing is a farce.

Mr REID - The honorable member must understand that this matter was fully put before the House and the public before the Royal Commission was appointed. I must say that I had the cordial assistance of the Prime Minister in fixing up that Commission.

Mr Mauger - There was a protest made.

Mr REID - I cannot remember that the Prime Minister ever expressed to me any opinion in favour of other appointments, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports may toe perfectly right.

Mr Deakin - I expressed none.

Mr REID - I may have forgotten a number of interviews in reference to the names of the members of the Commission. However, from first to last, the Prime Minister never suggested to me. before the Commission was appointed, either that he disapproved of it or that it would have any serious bearing on our arrangement. But I make no complaint ; these are personal matters, and my desire is to keep entirely to broad grounds as they affect the position of Parliament to-day.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister said in Svdney that he knew at the time "it would burst you up."

Mr REID - The Prime Minister was asked by an elector in Ballarat what he expected to gain by his alliance with Mr. Reid. That was a .very plain question, and the Prime Minister, for once, gave a definite reply when he said, " I expected to gain breathing time until June, 1906." So that the Prime Minister entered into an alliance with me in order to recover his wind for a fight to the death between us. All I can say is that this may be another invention of the newspapers - I do not know; but here is the statement which was made in reply to a question asked by an elector at Ballarat. I now desire to come to another point. In any British community the head of the Government and the members of the Government are looked to as the chief guides of public opinion. On large political questions they are supposed to have opinions, and to express them ; and I should like to test the Prime Minister and his Ministry on a question which, whatever honorable members here may say, is the burning question of the day right throughout Australia. That is the question of Socialism. I have addressed a large number of audiences on the subject, and I think I am stating the literal truth when I say that the one subject on which the people were anxious to be enlightened was this burning question.

Mr Hutchison - And thev will not be any more enlightened after the speech of the honorable member.

Mr REID - That is a matter of opinion. I am not answering for the honorable member's friend's. I am not answering for the degree of intelligence which exists in certain circles; I can only say that there are a number of people who have sufficient intelligence to understand.

Mr Hutchison - But the honorable member has not put the matter to them vet.

Mr REID - I must ask the honorable member to recollect that I have a much more important subject to deal with than himself. I wish.' to test the leadership of the Prime Minister on the burning question of the day. When the honorable gentleman was still supposed to be an ally of mine, in June, 1905, he made a statement on this subject at Ballarat.

Mr Deakin - Why does not the right honorable member refer to the previous Ballarat speech of 1904?

Mr REID - When was that? Mr. Deakin. - When I struck out all reference to Socialism in the resolution which I was asked to move.

Mr REID - I am much obliged to the honorable gentleman for his remark, which reminds me of something I had overlooked. The honorable gentleman did strike out of a resolution something of that sort, but he went up there on that occasion on the direct basis of rules drawn up for that league - rules which I had the honour of seeing - rules which were an absolute counterpoise, so far as the political movement was concerned, to the Labour Party. The restoration of parliamentary government was one of the chief rules of this league. How could it be restored with the continuation of a system such as we see to-day? We were then marching under the same flag. I believe that my honorable friend, the ex-Minister of Customs, Mr. McLean, was at that meeting. It was held on the 2nd August, 1904. At any rate, on one occasion he was there. That meeting was called for the purpose of establishing a league in alliance with myself - a league against the Labour Party of Australia. And at that time, the socialistic objective had not been adopted by the Inter-State Conference. It was not adopted until July, 1905. At that time, the Prime Minister might fairly say, " You have no need to have that in your programme." But in July, 1905, the Inter-State Conference, by 35 votes to i, adopted the socialistic objective, and made it an Australian question by that overwhelming majority. Well, the honorable gentleman at Ballarat just before that said that he was at the opposite pole from the Socialists; that if they desired to supplant private enterprise bv means of Government industries, he differed from them as widely as. the North Pole differs from the South. That was before the Inter-State objective. But a few days afterwards, by 35 votes to t, the Labour Party of Australia adopted the socialistic objective. From that time to this, my honorable friend has been a sealed oyster. At all his meetings he has avoided taking the public into his confidence on the one subject; the public is interested in.

Mr Deakin - And the right honorable member says that in face of the 1905 speech, several pages of the report of which are occupied with Socialism and antiSocialism !

Mr REID - I was not provided with a revised copy of the speech of the honorable gentleman, and if I had been, I' should probably prefer the newspaper report.

Mr Deakin - No doubt. It suits the right honorable gentleman to use the incomplete report.

Mr Fisher - Will the right honorable member quote the reference to Socialism in the objective, so that it may go into HHansard?

Mr REID - I am going to do so presently ; but I should like first to quote from the Prime Minister's speech a passage which seems to me to warrant what I have said. At Ballarat, in March last, -the Prime Minister said -

I scarcely need discuss Socialism with you tonight. I have laid that down before.

Mr Deakin - On the previous occasion, when I spoke in Ballarat.

Mr REID - What time was that?

Mr Deakin - In the speech just before the. meeting of Parliament last year.

Mr REID - That is the one I am quoting from.

Mr Deakin - The right honorable member is quoting from the one in March.

Mr.- REID.-In the speech of July, 1905, just before the meeting of Parliament - I have just quoted it-

Mr Deakin - Why not that of 1904?

Mr REID - In that speech the honorable gentleman said that his views as to Socialism were what I have just said.

Mr Deakin - I would not explain what Socialism ' was supposed to be, or what anti-Socialism was supposed to be, 'as I had previously exactly defined my attitude to both.

Mr REID - Then I am delighted at this admission. The honorable gentleman does know what Socialism means, and does know what anti-Socialism means. I have never bean able to get that admission from" any of the leading politicians opposite.

Mr Hutchison - I wish the right honorable member would' tell us what he thinks they mean.

Mr REID - I have been endeavouring to illuminate the intelligence of a number of distinguished public men on the difference between Socialism and anti-Socialism.

Mr Deakin - That is what has confused them all ! I know what Socialism is, and I know what anti-Socialism is, but I have never known what the right honorable member means by either.

Mr REID - I quite admit that the Prime Minister does not, because he is always on a curve, and I am always on a straight rail. I presume that this statement may be accepted -

I scarcely need discuss Socialism with you tonight. I have laid that down before.

The honorable gentleman says that he has explained what Socialism and antiSocialism are - though scarcely in the picturesque language of the. Vice-President of the Executive Council. But now I go on to the Sydney speech. The Sydney people were very anxious to hear the Prime Minister's views on this subject, and this is what he said. Of course, I am quoting the pith of it. The remark 'that the honorable gentleman made in Sydney was this-

I have not used the word Socialism or antiSocialism, but for those who do not know my policy, I can tell them that I am on the side of the Australian party.

What a gush of illumination that was. Mr. Speaker !

Mr Deakin - That was a reply to an interjection, which is omitted.

Mr REID - I suppose that an interjection does not distort the intelligence of the honorable and learned gentleman ?

Mr Deakin - It distorts the reply though, if the interjection is not quoted with it.

Mr REID - I suppose the honorable and learned gentleman will admit that what he did say was substantially this -

For those who do not know my policy, I can tell them that I am on the side of the Australian party.

Mr Deakin - The interjection was with reference to the speech I had been making, and I naturally pointed out. that the whole of it was devoted to the policy of the Australian party. I was asked if I was expounding the policy of Socialism or antiSocialism, and I said that my whole speech, and the policy I had described, had reference to the Australian policy of the party just formed in Sydney, at whose invitation I was speaking.

Mr REID - It is precisely the ground of my criticism that the honorable and learned gentleman did not deal with Socialism. He is only confirming my accusation ; because my accusation is that when the Prime Minister goes before a .great Svdney audience - and he is not there often - he does not address himself seriously to the burning question of the day. Why ? Because the honorable and learned gentleman, instead of having the Ballarat National League behind him, has the Labour Party behind him. That is the difference. If the Prime Minister were over here, side by side with me, if he were on good terms with the league he founded, would he not discuss with the fullest earnestness this great question ? We know that he would surround it with a glow of rhetoric which would, at any rate, stir the feelings if it did not enlighten the understanding. I want now to come to another position that the Prime Minister takes up. When in Sydney he asked the people to accept a high Tariff. I will read the report. He said that-

The first and most proper immigration measure would be a proper protective Tariff, such a Tariff as would encourage employment.

The Attorney-General appeals to the people of Australia to increase duties to provide work for our own starving artisans ; the Prime Minister appeals to the people to establish a high Tariff to encourage artisans to emigrate from other countries, to enter into competition with these starving artisans whom the Attorney-General wishes to provide for. How can a high Tariff be a proper measure to encourage immigration if it does not lead to the immigration of artisans, and if it does lead to their immigration how will it help our starving artisans - if there are any here in Melbourne?

Mr Kennedy - It would provide employment.

Mr REID - Would it provide employment to bring more artisans here ? It might provide some employment, but it would not be for the men whom the immigrants displaced. I have never concealed my view that any attempt to bring artisans to Sydney or Melbourne - to these over-gorged centres of population - would be a project which no sensible man should encourage. I look to an entirely different stream of immigration, consisting, not of farmers alone, but of agricultural labourers. I am not aristocratic enough to draw the line at the introduction of farmers. I think there is room for thousands of agricultural' labourers, quite apart from the land-holders.

Mr Kennedy - There is room for millions here.

Mr REID - That is the kind of immigration which we all favour. Now I come to the cry of "Australia for the Australians." At the last general election the cry raised by the Prime Minister was " Australia for the Empire, and the Empire for Australia." The honorable and learned gentleman went before the electors with the white flag of fiscal peace and prefer211ti.1l trade. He indulged in a number of beautiful perorations, which represented the various parts of the British Empire as a vast problem, the only solution of which was to be found in drawing them together by closer ties, by the freest intercourse. But now the honorable gentleman's cry is "Australia for the Australians." Surely every one is in favour of every legitimate opportunity being given to the people of our own country, but I say that the cry of " Australia for the Australians " is an unpatriotic cry. I claim that Australia was given to us by the people of the Mother Country, and that we ought always to look upon Australia as not only a place for Australians, but, at least, a place also for the people of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I draw no geographical line between the members of the great Anglo-Saxon family of the British Empire. I do not find along the map any single line of latitude or longitude at which I would establish a distinction. I admit that each country must be allowed to work out its own destiny in its own way, but whilst that is so we should never fly a wretched flag of that sort. This cry is being carried even into a matter upon which the lives of our people depend. This 'pernicious cry is being carried even into the region of military efficiency. In the Governor-General's speech we are told that in future we shall provide 'our military leaders from the ranks of Australian officers, and the Minister of Defence has said that he has a man who is thoroughly competent to fill the highest position in the Commonwealth Forces. If that be so, there is not a man in Australia who will not rejoice to hear it. We would all rejoice to learn that we have an Australian who is competent to fill such a position, and if we have, every man will applaud to the echo the Minister's 'choice. But if the question whether an officer is Australian or British is to enter into the determination of the matter- -if that is to be considered - the basest treason is perpetrated against our system of defence. The very Jives of our soldiers - and of our men, women, and children as well - depend upon our having the greatest possible efficiency in the command of our system of defence.

Mr Fisher - I understood the Minister to say that no further outsiders would be brought in.

Mr REID - I should like to say- and I think the' honorable member for Wide Bay will agree .with me - that in our system of military defence above all other questions, the .great point is to secure the best soldier that we can for the money we can afford to spend. If we have the best soldier we shall all acclaim him, and if we have the best soldier, why should the Minister of Defence say yesterday - " Oh, the Forces will get on without inspection for a little time. They will get on just as well without it " ?' If we have a man who is fitted to fill the. position of Inspector-General, why should he not be put into that office at once ? Whyshould we not be privileged to know who this distinguished Australian officer is? I altogether despise this unpatriotic endeavour to create lines between the different branches of the British people Bythebye4 the Prime Minister, in that eloquent speech which he devoted to preferential trade, depicted the British Empire as one in "unity of action, in sympathy in aims." He said -

This may surely be reckoned amongst the vastest of human ambitions.

Magnificent sentiments, but they are like the illustrations of the bill-sticker. Honorable members will have frequently noticed upon the hoardings of our cities, beautiful pictures. The bill-sticker comes along every three or four weeks, passes his brush oyer them, and plasters upon them fresh pictures. The Prime Minister is the billsticker of Australian politics. He isalways pasting up beautiful pictures on sign-boards, which attract the admiration of the people, but do not confer one atom of good upon any single human being. At one moment' he raises a . patriotic cry about preferential trade; at another heutters the cry of "Australia for the Australians." "All I can say is that in. the State where he 'has been the leading public man for so many years, it has been every other country but Victoria for the Vic- torians. Why, during the past ten years 110,000 persons in excess of the arrivals have left this 'State. We all .regret that. Nobody could rejoice in a fact of that sort. We are thankful to know that these grand people have not all left Australia, but that most of them are advancing the fortunes of other portions of the Commonwealth. But it is a lamentable fact all the same.

Mr Deakin - New South Wales lost population whilst the right honorable member was in power there.

Mr REID - New South Wales, during my term of office, doubled her acreage under wheat, and increased the hands employed in her factories at a rate not known in Victoria during twenty years. But I do not wish to go into these local allusions.

Mr Deakin - But the right honorable gentleman was talking about Victoria.

Mr REID - Only in reference to the position taken up by the Prime Minister.

Mr Deakin - And I was speaking only in regard to the attitude adopted by the right honorable member in New South Wales.

Mr REID - Now I wish to come to another practical point. The leader of the Labour Party has put two definite demands before the Government, and I wish to know what is the position which they take up in reference to them. One of those demands is for a constitutional amendm'ent - I do not know whether the particular monopoly was mentioned - to enable the tobacco industry to be nationalized, and the other is for the imposition of a progressive land tax.

Mr Wilks - The Treasurer squelched that.

Mr REID - I wish that my honorable friend would not take away my points as I proceed. I am coming to that matter. He may be quite sure that I shall not forget it. The honorable member is so genial and apt in all his interjections that one does not care to complain of them. With reference to the question of the tobacco monopoly, I think that the Prime Minister has sufficiently answered the demand for its nationalization, because in Adelaide he said : - "

The Tobacco Commission, so far as the facts have been disclosed, has, I think, even in the opinion of many of the Labour Party, only made out a case for the regulation of that monopoly, not for its nationalization.

Mr Hutchison - I do not know one member of the party who holds that view.

Mr REID - I hope that the newspaper in which the report appears is not again inventing something. The statement which appears in the press is that in the view of the Prime Minister and that of many members of the Labour Party, the evidence taken by the Tobacco Commission had not disclosed a case which required anything more than regulation. I accept that intimation as sufficient to show that the Prime Minister does not favour the proposed amendment. I come now to the progressive land tax. At Ballarat, in March last, one elector asked the Prime Minister, very categorically, his views upon this subject, and this was the conversation that ensued between them : -

Elector.- What about the land-tax?

I believe that the Prime Minister rubbed his head a little, and then said -

What land tax?

Elector. - Mr. Watson'* land-tax.

Suggest corrections