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Tuesday, 18 October 1910


Mr SPEAKER - This matter has already been brought under my attention. It appears to me that both Bills are so much involved one with the other that it is not possible for me to confine the debate strictly to either. In the circumstances, I shall allow as much latitude as is possible.


Mr HUGHES - The measures that now challenge the attention of the House are of the greatest possible importance. It is suggested to amend the Constitution in several1 particulars. The subject-matter and scope of the proposed amendments alike demand the attention of honorable members and of the citizens generally. Since the criticism that will be directed against this proposal has and will come largely from one direction, I may be permitted, very briefly, to review the nature of our Constitution, and the effect of these amendments upon it.

It has first to be observed that our Federal Constitution, like all, or nearly all, other Federal Constitutions, contemplates amendment ; that, as a matter of fact, it has already been twice amended, and submitted to. the people for amendment three times. It will be contended - it has, indeed, already been put forward as a sort of advance criticism of these proposals - that these amendments directly aim at bringing about Unification. There is not a shadow of justification for such an assertion. I want to show briefly the true position, and I trust honorable members will bear with me the while, because it is very proper and very necessary that we should clearly understand where we are, and that the citizens should realize both the nature and scope and importance of the task in which we are now engaged, and in which I hope we shall shortly ask them to perform their part. Briefly, the nature of the Federal compact may be described as follows : The essential feature is the existence of two powers, one national, and the other provincial or State, each sovereign or quasi-sovereign in its own sphere. Anything that impairs the independence of either within the ambit of its sphere is fatal to the spirit of the Federal system. There are, of course, other features common to most Federations, but these are net essential to the Federal form of government. There are at present five examples of Federal Government - those of the United States, Canada, the German Empire, Switzerland, and Australia. I propose, very rapidly, to glance over such features of these as call for remark, in order that honorable members may see, amongst many differences, that feature common to them all, and essential to every Federal system. We shall see, as a result of our review of these examples of Federal government, that which cannot be abandoned' and Federal government still maintained, arid that which, removed, leaves the spirit and virility of the Federal system unimpaired.

It has first to be observed that the provisions securing the stability of the Constitution are a common but not invariable feature in all Federations. That body which in the United States of America and in Australia is peculiarly charged with the duty of acting as guardian of the Constitution does not exist in all. The High Court in this country and the Supreme Court of the United States of America are at once arbiters between States and Commonwealth, pressing back with judicial arm National or State Government when either oversteps those shadowy but, nevertheless, very real boundaries which separate the ambit of the one from that of the other, and is the guardian of the Constitution. Yet such a tribunal, regarded by some as essential to the Federal system, exists neither in the German Empire, nor in Switzerland. In both these countries one may see a Federal Constitution unguarded by any judiciary specially charged with the duty of watching with Argus eye the every act of National and States Governments. Yet these are both examples of a form of government truly Federal in its nature, and which can be amended.

There is no such thing as unconstitutionality of a German or Swiss national law. Once the Reichstag has passed an Act, it takes effect in exactly the same way as does any other law. No tribunal can question its validity. It is very important to note this fact, for it has a distinct bearing upon the question with which we are now dealing. Stability in a Constitution is one thing ; rigidity quite another. We do not want to be swept hither and thither bv every passing wave of public feeling. There must be something fixed and definite in a Federal form of government to which the two parties to the compact can cling. The very essence of true progress is that it should be tempered by wise Conservatism. But any form of government which, in order to prevent too rapid changes, prevents all changes is clearly quite incompatible with democratic government. If the people have made up their minds, not swayed by passing passion, but in an orderly, deliberate, and constitutional way, that they require a certain law, any system, no matter by what name it be called, that stands in the way is neither democratic nor compatible with a progressive state of society. The condition of things in a State where there is a tendency towards democratic legislation and democratic ideals, as in America, but where the rigidity of the Constitution sets itself up between the people and their way, has been provocative of most notable and undesirable consequence"!.

The bloodiest war of the nineteenth century, threatening not merely to dismember the Federation, but to absolutely annihilate the very spirit of American nationalism, arose from this very cause. And to-day the American Congress and the State Legislatures are, owing to the extreme rigidity of the Federal Constitution, alike powerless to deal with a danger no less real than that which led to the great Civil War - I mean the operations of the great corporations and trusts, whose colossal wealth and influence, growing with each day, threaten the liberties, welfare, and very existence of the nation.

The rigidity of the American Constitution has been, and is, a continual danger ; its amendment is an extremely complicated and difficult business. Under ordinary circumstances, the American Constitution is not supposed to be susceptible of amendment ; but it has been amended, yet under special circumstances, three or four times. Altogether, there have been some fifteen amendments, the first batch almost immediately after Federation, a batch of three or four at the time of the Civil War, and a few others of minor importance since. The framers of the Australian Constitution, realizing that it was unwise to bind a democratic people so rigidly, did not follow too slavishly the American example in this respect, but provided an easier method of amendment. This method is so relatively easy, as compared with the American Constitution - although really difficult - that we have already amended the Constitution twice. In two successive Parliaments the people have been asked to amend the Constitution, and on each occasion they have done so. Certainly, then, this Federal Constitution and the framers of it contemplated amendment ; and the extreme rigidity which marks the American Constitution was deliberately avoided.

We come now to another feature - not affected or even threatened by these proposed amendments - that is regarded by our critics as an essential of Federation - equal State representation in the Senate. We find that this is not a feature of the Canadian 01 the German Constitution, both of which are well-defined examples of Federal government. Whatever, then, may be necessary to the Federal system, equal representation of the States is not; nor is a judiciary, nor - and I emphasize this point - is a fundamental distinction between the manner of altering ordinary laws and altering constitutional laws so called. For I have already pointed out that in Germany any law that has the support of a majority of the Reichstag becomes law in exactly the same way. whether it be a constitutional law or an ordinary law. An Act for the supervision of dairies in Germany passes exactly in the same way as in England; that is to say, an Act for the amendment of the Constitution, or any one which does not, in fact, alter the representation of the provinces or kingdoms and the National Government, is passed in the same way as any ordinary Act. All laws pass in the same manner; nor is there any body in existence, judicial or otherwise, to declare that a law once passed is unconstitutional. And the same condition of things obtains in Switzerland.

We see, then, that excessive rigidity was deliberately rejected by the framers of our Constitution ; that it is susceptible of amendment, and has been already twice amended. We see, further, that the idea, which has of late become very prevalent in certain quarters, that the Constitution is sacrosanct, and must not be touched, is one not essential to the Federal system, and that it exists neither in Switzerland, Germany, nor Canada. In the Dominion, which has a system equally Federal with that of Australia, the National Government is practically supreme, although not supreme in the sense that a unified form of government is supreme. I shall contrast, in a moment or two, all Federal systems with that of South Africa, and show clearly what the difference between Unification and Federation really is.

In Canada, then, there is no equal representation of the States. There is, it is true, a Court charged with the duty of looking after the rights of the States and the rights of the National Government. On the other hand, it must be observed that the Governor-General of Canada appoints all the LieutenantGovernors of the States, who, in their turn, decide whether a law of a State is constitutional or not, subject to the decision of the Governor-General. There, then, we have .a complete dependence of the provinces of Canada on the National Government, in that the authority which decides whether a law shall pass or not is an authority created and appointed by the Central Government. Clearly, then, the States in Canada have not the status that the States have in Australia. Yet the system in Canada is a true Federal form of government. The National Government in Canada may not overstep its powers any more than may the National Government here. But Canada has gone many steps along that road the first step on which, honorable members on the other side declare, means the irretrievable destruction of the Federal system and the practical creation of Unification; yet the system in Canada is a true system of Federal government.

Again, in Switzerland, not only is there no judiciary to declare a law unconstitutional, but there may be an amendment of the Constitution in spite of Parliament. If 50,000 electors decide to amend the Constitution, they can, by exercising the initiative, demand an amendment. The Assembly must pass a law to that effect, and present it to the people for approval by referendum ; and if a majority of the people in a majority of the States, just as in Australia, decide in the affirmative, the amendment becomes law. But as there is no provision in the Swiss Constitution for declaring a law unconstitutional, therefore, anything that the Assembly says is constitutional is constitutional, subject, of course, to the approval of the people. And I know of no rule of government or politics more in conformity with Democracy than this - that if the elect of the people declare a law to be good, subject to reference to the people, and the people themselves, after a prescribed interval, express a matured approval, it is sufficient to establish constitutionality. We have thought fit in this country to create a tribunal charged with the special duty of declaring what legislation is constitutional, and what is not. But neither the existence of- a judiciary, equal State representation, nor special provisions for amending constitutional as distinguished from ordinary laws, are necessary to Federation. We see, therefore, that the proposed amendments leave the Federal system in effective operation and its virtues unimpaired.

I come now to another matter, the scope and delineation of the powers allotted to the National and State Governments respectively. The invariable principle, as I have already pointed out, is to apportion these, and to give both Federal and State Governments independent control over those allotted to them. In some cases certain powers are granted to the National Government, and the remainder reserved to the States; in others powers are granted to the States, and the residue reserved to the National Government. In our case, certain powers have been granted to the National Government, and all others reserved to the States; while in Canada, certain powers have been granted to the Provinces, and all others reserved to the Central Go vernment. Whether out of a hundred possible powers, the Central Government has fifty and the States fifty, or whether the Central Government has twenty and the States eighty, is not material. What is essential is that within the scope of its powers each body shall be independent of the other, so that nothing done by the Central Government shall impair the authority, independence, or quasi-sovereignty of the States ; and nothing done or to be done by the States shall impair the sovereignty of the National Government. This is the one essential feature of Federation ;. all others of which mention has been madeare not essential ; Federations may and doexist without them.

As to the scope of our powers, we have followed with slavish imitation, and almost fatal consequences,' the model of the American Constitution, particularly in regard to the trade, commerce, and industry powers, which are daily becoming more important.. In Canada, the commerce power is enjoyed by the National Government to the fullest extent. There is no commercial matter cn which it may not legislate. The fact that some of the operations of commerce are wholly within a State, others between States, and others between Canada and other countries, does not affect the power of the National Parliament. It may follow commerce wherever it goes throughout the Commonwealth, and deal with it from wherever it comes. And the German National Government's powers are still wider. It has full authority to make laws dealing with all matters relating to trade, commerce, and industry. This fact needs special emphasis. After a long experience of a loose form of confederation, in which each State was a law unto itself, resulting in endless clashing and confusion, the progressive German nation deliberately adopted a system under which the National Government has plenary power over all matters connected with commerce, trade, and industry - the most important subjects of legislation in modern days. Although the enumerated powers are not increased in number, yet owing to the development of the sphere in which these powers fall, the scope of the National Government is an ever extending one. And there is nothing which the National Government may not do within the extensive and ever-increasing sphere of its powers. Yet this is a Federal system, and Germany is a progressive nation.

Contrast our position with that of Germany. How do we stand in the matter?

When our friends opposite speak of Unification as resulting from amendments such as are suggested, they speak without regard to facts which have existed for a considerable time, and still exist, in respect to other Federations. It is emphatically not true that- such amendments as are contemplated, or even much wider amendments of the same kind, would in the least affect the virility, or impair the virtues, of the Federal coinpact. Only one kind of amendments can do that, those aimed at the independence of the States within their own sphere. We might take from the States some of the powers which they now exercise, or they might take some of our powers, without "affecting the Federal system. The wisdom of a re-allotment and readjustment of powers is a matter for careful discussion. But that . is not now in question. What is in question is the advisability of clothing the National Government with national functions. Our present impotence forces itself upon the attention of every honorable member and every citizen of the Commonwealth. The question is whether the National Government should be supreme in its own sphere, and clothed with full power to legislate upon every part of all the matters already enumerated in section 51 of the Constitution. That is the question. The question of Unification versus Federation is not under consideration. It was the Unification bogy which my honorable friends brought forward when the Labour party declined to amend the Constitution to provide for the perpetual payment of 25s. -per capita to the States. They were then in favour of amending the Constitution, and we were opposed to it. Yet they declared they were Federalists and we were Unificationists. We who wished not to amend the Constitution declared that its amendment would impair the national powers, while they said that by refusing to amend it we were aiming at Unification !

The amendments now contemplated in no way affect the Federal system. In no sense of the word are they even a step in the direction of Unification. In the light of what I have been saying, I invite the attention of the House to the South African Act of Union. The preamble to 9, Edward VII., cap. 9, contains these words -

Whereas it is desirable for the welfare and future progress of South Africa that the several British Colonies therein should be united under one Government in a legislative union under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland. . . .

And whereas it is expedient to make provision for the establishment of provinces with powers of legislation and administration in local matters.

Section 59 says -

Parliament shall have full power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government pf the Union.

The South African National Parliament has full powers to mate laws in any direction. No one may say it nay, or declare its legislation to be unconstitutional. Section 85 defines the powers of the provincial council in these words -

Subject to the provisions of this Act and the assent of the Governor-General in Council as hereinafter provided, the provincial council may make ordinances in relation to matters coming within the following classes of subjects.

Whatever ordinances the provincial Legislatures make are subject to the GovernorGeneral's assent; they do not enact laws; they only pass ordinances upon a very limited range of subjects, all of which may be disallowed by the National Executive. In short, their position is similar to that of the municipalities of this country, whose by-laws may be declared ultra vires, and whose powers may be altered by a State Act. There is nothing which the provincial councils can do except in fields not already occupied by the National Legislature, and where their action is not prohibited by it. The provincial councils may not make laws at all, save on a very few subjects, and the making of laws on these subjects is subject to the approval of the National Legislature. Section 86 provides that -

Any ordinance made by a provincial council shall have effect in and for the province as long as and as far only as it is nol repugnant to any Act of Parliament.

This is the one instance of a unified Government in the British Empire, and so far as I know, in the world. The South African Constitution shows in the clearest way the dominance of the central Government and the impotence of the provincial Governments. There is nothing which the central Government may not do, and nothing which the provincial Governments may do, except with its permission. This is Unification, and it differs from the Federal system as black differs from white. The distinction is vital. In one the National Government is supreme, unlimited in the number and scope of its powers. In the other the National Government is confined to a certain sphere which it may not transcend, and the States enjoy independence in their own spheres. In Australia, as in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and Germany, the powers of the National Government are defined by the Constitution, and it may not impair in the slightest the independence of the State, nor, on the other hand, may a state intrude upon the National domain.

This is the Federal principle, and we do not propose any amendment affecting the principle of Federation. I have dwelt at this length on the subject because, in spite of the many and real reasons for the legislation proposed, we have to fight one cry, and one only, and that is "This means Unification." The words were thought, during the last Federal campaign, to be more potent than that " blessed word Mesopotamia." They were the one answer to our every question, the one charge against all our reforms. The beast of Revelations was not more ghastly or terrible, and if I have dehorned this monster as I hope I have, I have done useful work.

I come now to the consideration of our present position. This Parliament has been in existence for ten years, and has done good national work; but we cannot rest on our laurels. If we say, " Look at what we have done," instead of saying " Look at what we are doing and intend to do," the people will have good reason to reply, " We have no use for a Parliament in which there is dignity but not power. We want not mere shadowy forms, but real entities endowed with power."

What " is our position ? What can the National Parliament do? . We see in section 51 of the Constitution that imposing array of powers with which we are clothed, and I am not going to say one word to belittle the very many and real opportunities for useful legislation there set forth. But when we exempt from them the powers which we have already practically exhausted by existing Commonwealth legislation - when we take away our powers with respect to Cus- toms taxation and defence - we may well ask, "What is left?" So far as mere phraseology, language, and reiteration are concerned, there is much ; so far as actualities are concerned, in the light of the decisions of the High Court and of our experience, we find there is little or nothing that is of national or vital moment. A National Parliament ought to deal with national matters. If our ambition aims merely at a glorified shire council uttering and re-uttering pious ejaculations concerning national sentiments about one flag and one destiny, no doubt the Constitution clothes us with more than ample power. But I take it that our desires lie in quite another direction. We desire to give legislative and administrative effect to the national aspirations of the people of the Commonwealth. But what is the position? We have power to make laws with respect to many matters, useful, necessary, if you like, but in the wide- sense of the term, not truly national. We have power to make laws, for example, with respect to divorce and weights and measures, and no one will deny that both in their way are very useful. But a National Parliament cannot live by legislation upon those matters alone. Was this Federation created merely as a Customs union or as a means for defence ? I do not deny the utility of a Zollverein or of a union for defence. Both are very necessary, and I should not hesitate to approve of any sensible proposals for united action for these purposes alone. But it was not for those purposes only that this Federation and present Parliament was created. Surely very different reasons were eloquently urged by those who persuaded us to enter the Federation. We were told that it was a new nation that we were ushering into the family of the nations. We accept, and have always accepted, that doctrine. We are here, then, as a National Parliament to give expression to national sentiments and to place on the statutebook national desires. We must perform some useful work to justify our existence.

Wie do not claim all the powers that are now exercised by the States, but what we have a right to claim is that everything that is in the true sense national should be exercised by this Legislature. In particular, we have a right to claim that we should be permitted to exercise in reality the powers which we thought . we possessed to the full when we entered Federation, but which experience and the decisions of the High Court have shown that we do not possess.

The people of this country are entitled to something more than endless litigation. It was not merely - and I say this with very great deference - to encourage the legal profession that this Parliament was established, nor was it created merely for the elucidation of fine constitutional points. We are here to give expression to national desires. We are here to express ourselves no longer provincially but nationally, and to do that we must be clothed in a clear, unambiguous way with national powers. The delimitation of the powers of the States and of those of the Commonwealth must' be clearly defined. And here I come to the crux of the whole contention. As the powers of the Parliament are at present set forth, the very essence and essential feature of Federation is violated. The Federal system demands that the powers of each Government should be . exercised independently of the other, and in order that this may be done it is necessary there should be such a clear line of demarcation separating them, that there shall be neither clashing nor danger of clashing. Now the sub-sections of section 5,1 dealing with the trade and commerce powers and corporations and industrial matters violate both of these principles.

What is our position in regard to trade and commerce, corporations, companies, industrial matters, combines, and monopolies ? Paragraph 1, section 51, which deals with trade and commerce, violates every one of the canons of effective Federation. There is no clear line of demarcation, but rather endless clashing and ambiguity. There is no certainty, either legally or politically, as to what our position really is. " Commerce" properly belongs not to a State, but to a nation. It is not a function confined within any one particular place. " Commerce " is intercourse, and therefore must necessarily cease only where intercourse ceases. There is nothing that can logically distinguish commerce between Albury and Wodonga from commerce between Albury and Wagga. Why should there be? The conditions which govern commerce between Albury and Wodonga govern commerce between Albury and Wagga. Yet, while we may exercise control over commerce between Albury a.nd Wodonga, we may do absolutely nothing in regard to commerce between Albury and Wagga. While we may deal with commerce between Melbourne and Sydney, we may say nothing at all in regard to commerce between Melbourne and Ballarat. Whilst we have on the face of it a trade and commerce power, and that power is plenary, yet there is a sphere, and a very wide one, inside which we may not operate at all. And this prevents us not only from dealing with commerce within the prohibited sphere, but hampers us from dealing with commerce inside the sphere that the Constitution allows. We may not deal with commerce inside a State, but only with trade and commerce between the States. The result is we cannot deal effectively with commerce at all. That is the result of a slavish imitation of the Constitution of the United States of America. The American Constitution cases show in the clearest possible way to what a hopeless condition those who have attempted to reconcile irreconcilable things have been reduced.- The cases, of which I shall quote very few, set forth that any attempt to distinguish between Intra-State and Inter-State commerce - that is- to say, commerce within a State and commerce between States - must lead to endless confusion, in some instances stopping little short of the absurd. " Commerce," as defined by the American Courts, " includes purchase, sale, and exchange of commodities, but not manufacture." That principle was laid down in the case of the Addyston Pipe Company v. United States, 175, U.S.., 241. It has also been held that it includes transportation by land and water, and the navigation of public waters for that purpose. In the case of the Daniel Ball, 10 Wall 557, and Norfolk R. Co. v. Pennsylvania, 136 U.S., 114, it was held that a carrier wholly within the State is engaged in Inter-State trade so far as he is a link in a through line; while in the case of Hartley v. Kansas City R. Company, it was held that transportation between two points in a State, which passes outside a State en route is Inter-State. As to the duration and end of Federal control over merchandise transported from one State to another, the position, shortly stated, is that it begins when transportation begins, continues during transit, is not interrupted by temporary stoppage, and ends when the goods are " intermingled in the goods of the State in which they arrive." The attempt to distinguish between Inter-State and Intra-State trade in respect of goods that enter a country has led to endless confusion. In one of the great cases in which the law is laid down - that of Brown v. Maryland - it was held that sale after arrival in original packages is Inter-State commerce, but if the packages are broken then it is not. Bottles are original packages if separately addressed. Some very ingenious people iti the United States of America, under cover of this decision, proceeded to sell bottles over a bar, and other ingenious gentlemen opened them there and then and drank the contents, which, we may assume, were not entirely red ink. That was held to be Intra-State, and not Inter-State, commerce. The attempt to reconcile these conflicting judgments - to say where Inter- State commerce ends and where Intra-State commerce begins - has led to endless litigation. There must necessarily be endless litigation in the endeavour to allot to two different authorities a subject which, in its very essence, is susceptible of being dealt with only as a whole.

Australian commerce is at least coterminous with the boundaries of this continent. Indeed, it goes beyond them, and any attempt to slit it up into six or more portions, and to say that there shall be seven laws in respect of commerce - that we shall make laws with respect to commerce between the States, but not within a State - must lead, not only to confusion, but to a condition bordering perilously upon chaos. It has led to confusion, to litigation, to uncertainty, and to a paralysis of our national legislative capacity, and is likely to lead to more. It is consonant neither with the dignity of the National Parliament, nor an effective control of the commerce power that this should continue. We need to have in regard to trade and commerce the power that the Canadian Parliament has. That Legislature has full power to make laws with respect to trade and commerce. The Constitution, as it stands at present, says that we are to have power to make laws in regard to trade and commerce with other untries and amongst the States ; but it has been held by the High Court that that excludes commerce within a State. I shall deal with that point further when we come to consider the law as it affects corporations. It will be sufficient now to remember that precisely those limitations which hamper American legislation hamper us.

It is proposed to strike out the words of limitation in the Constitution, and to give the Commonwealth Parliament power over trade and commerce. We shall then have power over all trade and all commerce, and there can be no mistake, no clashing of rival jurisdictions, no uncertainty, and no confusion. We shall not have to go to the Court every time an endeavour is made to enforce an existing law. There will be no necessity to go to the Court to find out whether or not we have the power. If we have the whole power without ambiguity - and words of limitation are dangerous - we shall know where we are, and the States will know how they stand. There will be no impairment of State Rights. The States will still have within their own spheres the independent and quasisovereign powers that they have to-day. I have said commerce is naturally a matter of national concern. It cannot now - if it ever could - be adequately dealt with by the several States. It is absolutely essential that the National Government should have control of commerce. Commerce, which was at one time but a series of tiny rivulets, tended by individual adventurers or merchants, is to-day a torrent sweeping along well-defined channels and increasing in volume with every passing day. Formerly each individual carried on business without regard either to the requirements of the community or to his competitors, but to-day there is systematization, there is control, there is order.

The commerce power is essentially a national one, for it concerns vitally the -welfare of every human being in the community. Those who control trade and commerce control those who have to live by it. That is to say, they control the whole community, and to assert that the National Government must not have control of the well-spring from which all must perforce drink or die - to say that we are to dip our pannikins in the stream, but are not to divert or control it - is to reduce the National Government to a condition of impotence, and to grievously' imperil the welfare of every individual in the community. These restrictions upon the National Government in this matter might have been justified when Federation was created in America in the century before last, but in the twentieth century it is no longer possible to give the control of commerce to any but the whole people. In the interests of the nation, of Democracy, and of Federation itself, it is necessary that we should be clothed, in unambiguous words, with the whole control of the trade an'1, commerce power.

I come now to corporations. Here again we find our powers shorn by the High Court interpretations of the Constitution. We thought that we had power with regard to making laws regulating corporations, because paragraph xx. of section 51 of the Constitution says that we can make laws with respect to -

Foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth.

Upon that assumption the Anti-Trust Act was passed, sections 5 and 8 of which were drafted with a view to dealing, in what was hoped would prove effective fashion, with monopolies, and to prevent the people of this country from being entirely at the mercy of persons who control the means wherebv we live. It was found, however, in the Huddart-Parker case, that we had no such . power, that paragraph xx. did not mean what it said, and that practically the only power we have is the power to deal with corporations before they commence operations. Once they have commenced operations we can do nothing whatever with them. The absurdity of this position becomes clearer when we look more closely into the judgment. We have power to prohibit corporations from engaging in any business at all, but we have no power to direct their operations when once they are launched in any business. We can apparently say to any corporation about to start, " You shall' not do anything," but directly it starts it may do anything it pleases for all that we can do to it. Practically, then, we have the shadow of a power; the reality is taken from us. We thought that paragraph xx. gave us complete power, and we had reason for that opinion, for the power which that paragraph purports to give was novel, and did not exist in any other Federal Constitution. It was put into the Constitution to give us, as it was thought, an added power. But it gives u's nothing, or. nothing of value. It is as though we had the power to deal with education, and found that under it all that we could do in the way of directing or providing for the education of the people was to forbid them being educated at all ! According to the dissenting judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs, the trade and commerce section of the Constitution gave us all the power that the majority of the Court decided paragraph xx. gave us. We had a right to believe we had the power of dealing with corporations. We have not got it, and we must have it. I say that deliberately.

The National Parliament must have this power of dealing with corporations. Consider the position. Corporations are clearly a national matter. Is not the distinguishing feature of modern production the great and ever- increasing power, extent, and influence of combines? All the world over-, this question is compelling the attention of every Legislature and of every thinking man. If we allow corporations, whose ramifications extend over the whole of the continent and beyond it, to be in the hands of State Assemblies, it is perfectly clear that we yield up, not only our power, but all power to deal with them effectively at all. It is impossible for State Governments to deal effectively with corporations whose operations extend all over Australia. The effort has been made repeatedly. The statute-books of the State Legislatures of America are full of Acts and amending Acts dealing with these giants of production and commerce. And nowhere in the world do they flourish so abundantly. The Congress of the United States has endeavoured, with their restricted powers, to control them and failed. In our own States, where the effort has been made, it has obviously failed.

We may not deal with corporations ; the States cannot deal with them. Are we then to sit down impotently and do nothing in face of the greatest menace of modern days? Are we raising the wages and improving the conditions of workmen, and at the same time bowing in abject or impotent submission to those who regulate prices?. I hope not. It would be infinitely better to say at once, " What is the use of bothering about raising wages? Why pretend to the workmen that we can do anything, when, as fast as we take out from the heap that the workers have made the wages that belong to them, there is taken from their pockets each week an equivalent amount in increased prices?"

Is not the problem of the cause of the increased cost of living a world-wide one? America has appointed a Commission to inquire into it. Every country is on the alert in respect to it. No nation has escaped the influences that make for increased cost of living. Every day we see or hear of some great disturbance or of widespread distress from this same cause ? Was not the great strike in France, which is but to-day, as it were, slowly sinking in its ashes, provoked by this very cause? In England, in America, here at our doors, have not prices increased? What is the cause ? There may be many ; but I do not hesitate to declare that one of the chief causes, if not the chief cause, is the existence of combines, trusts - call them what you will - which fix prices to suit themselves and nobody else. The tendency of the age is towards widening the sphere of commercial operations and manufactures, and reducing the number of individuals controlling trade. This is so well known that my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General in the late Government prepared a memorandum on the subject, from which I shall read some extracts.


Mr Deakin - It was confidential; but I want it published. I hope the honorable member will lay the whole of it on the table.


Mr HUGHES - Certainly ; but I do not want to read it all. I am quoting from it with the consent and approval of my honorable friend, who referred me to it.


Mr Glynn - I shall be only too pleased, if it contributes anything to the subject.


Mr HUGHES - This question has forced itself on the attention of every country. No thinking man can escape the conviction, or, at any rate the fear, that these corporations, unless they are mastered by the people, will master them. My honorable friend heads his memorandum as follows -







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