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Tuesday, 21 August 1906

Mr BAMFORD - No. Honorable members speak as though the people of Tasmania were paying more now in connexion with the sugar industry than they were paying prior to Federation, whereas they are paying £8,000 a year less, the position of the people of Queensland being relatively worse than their position prior to Federation, and the position of the people of Tasmania being better. I do not think it fair that this wilful perversion of facts should be persisted in so continually. It has also been made to appear that r.o benefit has resulted from the payment of the sugar bounty ; but that is not so. The figures put before us bv the Treasurer show that the position of the sugar industry is better now than it has been heretofore. Not only has the number of white farmers increased, but the acreage under white labour has also increased. It is estimated that, of 131,000 acres under sugar this year, 96,000 acres, or 70 per cent., are being cultivated by white labour; while about the same percentage of the sugar produced is being produced by white labour. Therefore, it is wrong to say that no benefit has accrued from trie sugar bounty. I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the proposed land tax. The honorable members for New England and Lang, who are professed single-taxers, condemn the proposal of the Labour Party as not extreme enough, although generally it is considered as too extreme. The honorable member for New England said the other night that it is silly to think that the proposed tax would break up the large estates, because it would be inefficient and abortive. The leader of the Opposition, however, and some of his followers, have objected to our proposal on the ground that it is the introduction of the thin end of the wedge, and, as such, it should commend itself to the honorable members to whom I have referred. Only recently the Melbourne newspapers of two consecutive days contained two very remarkable statements. It was stated, in the first instance, in the Argus that the estates belonging to Sir Rupert Clarke at Keilor Plains, Sunbury, and another the name of which I forget, comprising over 100,000 acres, had been offered to the Victorian Government, and these estates were valued' for taxation purposes at £98,000. Next day, however, it was stated in the Age that the land in question is estimated to be worth something like £1,000,000. Those two statements show, first, that land is being held in very large blocks, so that many who desire to settle upon it are unable to do so, and, secondly, that the country is being defrauded of legitimate revenue because taxation is not paid upon fair valuations. Some of this land is worth from £15 to £20 per acre, and the whole of it is good land. The honorable member for Wilmot claims to be the son of a pioneer - one of those men who, during the time that the blacks were very aggressive, carried their lives in their hands. No doubt they had to put up with many hardships, but they have had the advantage of a very good thing for a sufficiently long time, and should be content to let some one else have a look in. The Labour Party have put forward their land taxation proposal, because the States Parliaments have not the courage to legislate in the desired direc- tion, or have not the power to do so. So long as the States Legislative Councils are representative of the propertied classes, it will be impossible to carry through a reasonable measure of land taxation, and it, therefore, rests upon this democratic Parliament to fill the breach. Thirty years ago there was a much larger population in some of the western counties of Victoria than is to be found there to-day. In the interval, millions of pounds have been spent in building railways and affording' better means of communication and improved facilities for the carriage of produce. The honorable member for Wilmot says that if we need the land now held by private individuals, we should pay them the market price. I would point out, however, that the additional value has been given to the land by the construction of railways and other public works, and the people are asked to buy this land at a high price, the added value being created by the people themselves. For example, who created the City of Melbourne and the high values of property in that metropolitan centre to-day ? When the site of the city was first sold, the land realized £273,000. To-day it is valued at between £9,000,000 and £[10, 000,000. Who gave it that added value? Not the people living on the land, not the purchasers of the property, but the general public.

Mr Reid - That does not justify a tax varying according to the area of land held - a progressive land tax is not justified from that point of view.

Mr BAMFORD - I fail to see how the honorable and learned member can take that view.

Mr Mcwilliams - The honorable member is arguing for the nationalization of land.

Mr BAMFORD - The honorable member never heard me mention anything about nationalization of land.

Mr Reid - The honorable member may not have said it, but that is what it meant.

Mr BAMFORD - The right honorable gentleman is now doing that which he strongly objects to on the part of others. He is putting words into the mouths ofthe Labour Party.

Mr Reid - I was going to quote the New South Wales Labour platform, which has, as one of its special planks, the nationalization of land.

Mr BAMFORD - The Labour Party in this House is the Federal Labour Party, and we are responsible for our own platform, and for no other.

Mr Mcwilliams - But the gun is a double-barrelled one all the same.

Mr BAMFORD - Yes ; and I think that it will go off. Now I wish to say a few words with regard to the right honorable member for East Sydney. He has been good enough to visit the electorates of Wide Bay and Capricornia, and has also done me the honour to visit my electorate

Mr Reid - Not on the honorable member's account. I wanted to see a little of Queensland.

Mr BAMFORD - The ostensible purpose of the right honorable gentleman was to arouse the people to the necessity of going to the poll. He besought them to go to the poll, and record their votes, whether they voted in'" favour of his party or some other.

Mr Reid - Was not that perfectly right?

Mr BAMFORD - -Yes, but I wish to point out that the right honorable gentleman ought to have stayed at home and aroused the electors of East Sydney. He went into the Wide Bay electorate, where 67.26 per cent, of the electors on the roll recorded their votes. This was the highest proportion in the Commonwealth. Then he visited the electorate of Capricornia, where 59 per cent, of the electors on the roll recorded their votes. After having aroused the people there, he extended his travels to my electorate.

Mr Reid - The honorable member will never forgive me for that.

Mr BAMFORD - I bear the right honorable member no enmity. If his visit has the effect of inducing a larger number of persons to vote, they will probably render my majority all the larger, and, therefore, I can freely give him my blessing. The right honorable gentleman went up to North Queensland, where the climate is supposed to be so warm that the people have not sufficient energy to even take a drink, in order to beseech the electors to go to the poll. Although the electors in Herbert have no facilities such as exist in more populous localities for reaching the polling places, and have no trams or omnibuses to convey them from place to place, the second largest average of votes was recorded - 63.23 per cent, of the electors on the roll went to the ^ poll. The third highest record was obtained in the Wentworth electorate, in which 62.62 per cent, of the electors voted. There, however, they have every facility for reaching the polling places. Now, I wish to point out how much more profitable it would have been for the right honorable gentleman to have remained in his own electorate to awaken the people there to the necessity of exercising the franchise. At the last election for East Sydney, only 38.76 per cent, of the electors recorded their votes.

Mr Reid - I ran a bye - there was no serious opposition.

Mr BAMFORD - There was no bye about it.

Mr Reid - The opposition was not good enough to "extend" me.

Mr BAMFORD - The right honorable gentleman polled 6,191 votes, and Mr. Harry Foran polled 2,139 votes. There were two other candidates named Cleary and Toomey. The right honorable gentleman, who is always complaining about representatives being returned to this House by minority votes, was supported on the occasion referred to by only 23.14 per cent, of the electors on the roll. Under these circumstances, I think that he would have spent his time to greater advantage by impressing upon the electors of East Sydney the desirability of performing their duties as citizens.

Mr Reid - I intend fo rouse them up, too.

Mr BAMFORD - Honorable members may recollect when the right honorable gentleman approached the Speaker in the most dignified manner, and handed in his resignation, declaring that no longer would he put up with the gerrymandering operations of the Government, who were making such a hash of things that the elections could not be fought out upon a fair basis. Then he went to East Sydney, and banged' the political drum for all it was worth. The honorable member for Macquarie was sent for to assist in bringing electors to the poll. And what was the result ? What had the Sydney Morning Herald to say about it? In their issue of the 25th August. 1903, these head-lines appeared in regard to the honorable member's opening meeting -

Great Concourse of People : Tremendous Enthusiasm : The Electorate's Bungling. Scathing Indictment of the Government.

Then it was stated that the meeting was to start at eight o'clock, but - by half-past seven the Town Hal! was more than crammed with humanity. From that time onwards the seemingly impossible task of compressing some hundreds of people into a space which was already strained to the utmost proceeded.

Then the following phrases were used : -

Whole-hearted Electrifying Enthusiasm : Magic Power of Swaying Audiences.

After the election, the Herald stated that a much larger vote had been expected, but explained that probably the deficiency was. accounted for to some extent by the fact that the polling day was not a holiday. Now, let us see what the results were. There were 13, 763 "electors on the roll, and after all the electoral drum-beating that had been going on, how many votes do honorable members think were polled?

Mr Reid - I had no one worth mentioning against me.

Mr BAMFORD - The right honorable gentleman had two opponents^ one named Macguire, and another named Blake. The former polled 259 votes, and the latter 96 votes, whilst the right honorable gentleman had 1,697 votes cast in his favour. Yet he had the temerity to go into my electorate with a view to inducing the electors to take some interest in the elections.

Mr Henry Willis - He won by six votes to one.

Mr Reid - Yes, and I was perfectly satisfied. The honorable member will not secure such a sweeping majority.

Mr BAMFORD - I would counsel the right honorable gentleman to give a little more attention to his own electorate, and to leave alone those in which a much higher percentage of votes has been recorded.

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