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Friday, 8 September 1911

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - This seems to be the season for congratulations, and I may be pardoned for commencing by indulging in a word of that character. I have to congratulate the members of the Ministry who have returned from the Old Country, on having acquitted themselves there so creditably, not only as representatives of the people of Aus tralia, but as genuine Australians. I think there is no instance on record of three envoys from this country having returned under circumstances in which their conduct has been so highly appreciated by all classes. The rank and file of the democracy throughout Australia were delighted to read the manly utterance of Mr. Fisher when he met a deputation of landowners at the Hotel Cecil. On that occasion he showed the true Scottish granite that is in his nature. He showed furthermore that Australia had at last a representative who was prepared to tell those who might have financial interests in Australia, what the true position of affairs was, and not hide himself behind any subterfuge as to what they might expect in the future. He told them that they would get a fair deal, and that his sympathies were with those who had speculated in Australian enterprises j but at the same time he reminded them that there were other things to be considered apart from the interests of speculators, namely, the true interests of the people of Australia, of which he was the chief custodian. I think that that reply deserves to be written in letters of gold, because it made plain to the members of this deputation exactly what they might expect in the future, and, above all, what had to be rigidly and jealously safeguarded so far as the people of this country are concerned.

Senator St Ledger - Some persons at the deputation pointed out that, in their view, they were getting an unfair deal, and the Prime Minister seems to have lost his temper; that is the trouble.

Senator LYNCH - There was no discussion at all about that. In fact, Mr. Fisher would have played a role quite foreign to his character' if he had given expression to any other sentiment than he did on that occasion. He acted the part of Prime Minister of the Labour party in every detail, especially when he made that reply. As regards anything else which he may have said, or may be alleged to have said, that single reply is enough to stamp him with the highest degree of statesmanship, and as the truest representative of Australian sentiment on that subject.

Senator St Ledger - Pardon me, he is Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, not Prime Minister of the Labour party, as you said.

Senator LYNCH - Well, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, he lived up to his position, and he was frank, honest, and manly enough to tell these persons exactly what feeling is entertained in Australia by the vast body of its inhabitants. Turning to the opening Speech, one thing I have to refer to at the outset of my remarks is the remarkable utterance of the Leader of the Opposition. We expected that, after an unavoidable term of cogitation, he would at least have arranged, from his point of view, a very strong indictment of the Labour party ; but we find that, after these eight or nine months of incubation, instead of directing his attack at the policy and the administration of the Government, he focussed the whole strength of his mind on a messenger who attended the Minister who proceeded to England. A mountain of labour brought forth only a mouse. With this opportunity, which the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition always has of forging in real or imaginary terms an attack on the Government, it would seem that he concentrated his attention entirely on a poor, unfortunate messenger. What is the position? I had not the opportunity of being present when Senator Pearce replied to the attack, but I have heard that his reply was to the effect that his own expenses in connexion with the Coronation and Imperial Conference amounted to £700, and that that sum was less than the expenses of the representative of a former Government who went to London when there was no Coronation at all.

Senator St Ledger - Senator Millen made it clear that he was not complaining about the expenses at all.

Senator LYNCH - Senator Millen disappointed my high expectations when he, as the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition here, descended to the paltry depth of referring to the attendance of a messenger on Ministers of the Crown.

Senator Walker - I forgot to mention in my speech that Senator Millen was under a misapprehension about Sir Edmund Barton, because the latter was at the Coronation in 1903.

Senator LYNCH - It was an insidious attempt to point out chat we, the members of the Labour party, who have been recognised as the party of economy, which rightly rails against the useless expenditure of public money in any direction, were not consistent.

Senator Millen - I wanted to point out the inconsistency of your party, that was all.

Senator LYNCH - After the honorable' senator had mustered all his alleged facts, the only object he could concentrate them upon was the unfortunate messenger whohappened to attend three Ministers on a voyage to the Old Country. Let us compare things. If the honorable senator had wanted to be honestly critical, he could have learned that the visit of at least one member of the Ministry, who can speak for himself, and that is Senator Pearce,, actually cost the taxpayers of Australia less than did the visit of the representative of another Government when there w7as no Coronation. The honorable senator could' also have satisfied himself, if he had wanted to be honestly critical, that the visit of the Prime Minister to the Old Country, notwithstanding the fact that he was attended by a messenger - the sole source of annoyance to the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition - will cost some hundreds of pounds less than the amount which was paid by the taxpayers when Sir Edmund Barton went to London.

Senator Millen - And some hundreds of pounds more than the amount allowed to Mr. Deakin.

Senator de Largie - Mr. Deakin did not go to a Coronation.

Senator LYNCH - I am not praising Mr. Deakin, because I remember well that on one occasion he rose to such an altitude of virtue as to return to the Treasury of Victoria a certain portion of the money, which had been allowed to him by the taxpayers, and that in so doing he played a very nasty trick on his co-delegates to Westminster^ who were expected to uphold an equal degree of dignity. What I wish to direct attention to is the fact that Senator Millen, can see a necessity for finding fault with the present Ministry for doing a thing which, when compared in the last resort with things which other Ministers did. shows that they have been saving and economical in the extreme. So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, his visit will, I am sure, cost hundreds of pounds short of the amount which was paid to Sir Edmund Barton on one occasion.

Senator Millen - And hundreds of pounds more than what was paid to another Prime Minister.

Senator LYNCH - This brings me to enter a protest against the only means which the Australian people can be made aware of what happens here. As every man takes up his morning newspaper^ he expects to find an account of the happenings of the previous day, and particularly what has happened in this Parliament. We find that at least one organ, which claims to hold the balance fairly as between contending parties, headed a sub-leader with the words, " The Prime Minister attended by an Eastern retinue." It was, of course, a mere copy of Senator Millen's words. Whilst it was quite entitled to give verbatim his words in criticism of the Government, it should also, in common fairness, give, in the fullest terms, the reply of the responsible Minister, Senator Pearce. It did not do that, however, and that is why I have to enter a protest against the action of the press in suppressing a fair defence in a case in which a serious charge has been made. We were 'charged in an insidious way with lavishly spending the taxpayers' money, and the responsible Minister's reply to the charge, which could not be substantiated, should have been given in full.

Senator St Ledger - Was it not the most expensive delegation which ever went Home from Australia ?

Senator Millen - The statement is substantiated now that Mr. Fisher is the first Prime Minister who ever deemed it necessary to take a personal attendant.

Senator LYNCH - I do not object to the Prime Minister taking an attendant to see that his luggage and other personal effects were not mislaid, because he and his colleagues had very much more important matters to engage their minds than the custody of personal effects on a voyage. If their only sin was the taking of a messenger with them, all I can say is that the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition has not very much to complain about. The vote at the recent referenda seems to be a source of peculiar joy to the honorable senator ; but, after all, I was not very much surprised at the result; in fact, I was surprised that we polled so remarkably well, considering the extraordinary agencies which were, at work against us. I felt that, as on previous occasions, every strand was strained, so to speak, to pull the strings against us. The people in the East, for instance, were told by Mr. Deakin that it was not a party question. They were also told by him that, if the proposals were carried, it would mean handing over the control of the purely domestic affairs of a State like Victoria to the people of Western Australia. We were told in Western Australia, on the other hand, that if the referenda were carried, it would mean handing over its domestic affairs to be controlled and run entirely by the Eastern people.

Senator Millen - Not entirely. Senator LYNCH.- Yes, entirely. The substance of all authority, so far as the State Parliaments were concerned, would have vanished, and nothing would remain but an empty shell, according to the doctrine of Mr. Wilson and Sir John Forrest. If these men of proved honesty and consistency were right in setting forth contradictory positions, why are they entitled to complain about the Labour party, which was consistent right through? We asked merely for the giving to the Federal Parliament of those powers which it had been found from hard experience could not be exercised with advantage, and, in some cases, not at all, by State Governments. When our opponents addressed themselves to the task of striving to bring about, not the downfall of the Labour party or its proposals, which they now claim credit for, but the withholding of necessary powers from this Parliament, they set up one position in Victoria and another position in Western Australia.

Senator Millen - Exactly the same.

Senator LYNCH - They told one tale to the people in New South Wales and quite a different tale to the people in Western Australia.

Senator St Ledger - We were fighting different positions.

Senator Needham - That is an honest admission.

Senator LYNCH - It was no wonder that the average elector got bewildered when he was told one thing in the North or the East and another thing in the West.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator must see that the argument was the same - that, under the proposals, each State was asked to hand over certain powers which it had possessed to be controlled by the people of other States.

Senator LYNCH - If Mr. Deakin was right in stating that Victoria and its interests would be controlled to a. very appreciable extent by the representatives of the Western State, what fault could be found in Western Australia about its interests being controlled by the Eastern States, as alleged by Mr. Deakin? On the other hand, what justification was there for Mr. Wilson and Sir John Forrest saying, in Western Australia, that it could be controlled by Victoria, when Mr. Deakin disclaimed that Victoria could be controlled by Western Australia?

Senator Millen - It seems to me to be perfectly consistent that each State was asked to hand over to the other States a power which it then enjoyed.

Senator LYNCH - This plausible statement, unfortunately, did do very ignoble service for the Opposition. They did carry their point, and now we are told by Senator Vardon that the opinion in England was that the Government should have resigned. Although previously the electors throughout Australia were told by Mr. Deakin that it was not a party question, still the honorable senator interpreted English opinion to the effect that it was a party question; and, therefore, on the defeat of the referenda, the party should resign ; whereas his leader in the other House said that it was no such thing, and that, whether the battle was won or lost, it did not, and should not, affect any party. Where is the need for this inconsistent talk?

Senator Millen - We said that it ought not to be a party question, but you tried to make it one.

Senator LYNCH - Nor was it a party question. Why does the honorable senator allow his lieutenant to make the statement that this party should resign? Senator Vardon re-echoed with approval English opinion, that on the defeat of their proposals at the referenda the Labour Government should have resigned, because they formed part of their policy, although his own leader had declared on more than one occasion that the result of- the referenda could have no party significance. The members of our party reiterated many times that the proposals were not party questions.

Senator Millen - Then, why try to compel solidarity amongst the party?

Senator LYNCH - The different sections of the party have their liberty still, and have manifested that in a. very emphatic way.

Senator Millen - And some have been carpeted for it.

Senator LYNCH - I repeat that Senator Vardon took occasion to refer to the defeat of their proposals at the referenda as a reason why the Ministerial benches should be abandoned by the Labour Government, although it has never been held by Mr. Deakin, or by the Labour members, that the referenda, had any party significance. The carrying of the proposals sub mitted would have meant merely the giving effect to proposals, one or other of which had, at different times, been advocated even by members of the Fusion party. Even Mr. W. H. Irvine went ninetenths of the way in advocating those proposals. I admit that he drew the line sharply at the inclusion of the proposal to bring State servants within the power of the Federal Parliament, but on all the other questions he held that it was necessary to enlarge the powers of this Parliament. To the honorable member's credit be it said he held to his views for some time, but in order to secure the solidarity of his party, and bring confusion upon the Labour Ministry, he subsequently declined to go as far in support of the proposals as he was prepared to do in another place. The honorable member for Angas, Mr. Glynn, announced that this Parliament possessed insufficient powers, and mentioned two cases in which it could not interfere. This prominent constitutional authority clearly agreed that the powers possessed by the Parliament are wholly inadequate to enable it to deal with certain questions. I mention these facts to show that members of the Labour party, who, in common with myself, claim that the referenda was not a party matter, have been consistent throughout. These considerations however have not prevented men like Senator Vardon, or the Acting Premier of Western Australia, who is a most virulent opponent of the Labour party, from saying that the Labour Ministry should have resigned, because their policy was rejected at the referenda.

Senator Millen - The Acting Premier of Western Australia must be a humorist if he thought they would resign.

Senator LYNCH - I do not think he can claim to be even a third rate humorist. Dealing with the tactics resorted to by our opponents, all sorts of things were threatened in Western Australia if the proposals were carried. We had Sir John Forrest telling the electors that the small tradesmen round the corner would be liable to have his business run and controlled by the Federal Government at any moment if the proposals were carried. The lolly shop round the corner was to go as well as the sugar refining business in Queensland. We also had the independence and integrity of municipalities threatened, and were told that the railways would be handed over, holus-bolus, to the Federal authority ; and that there would not be a shred of independence left to any governing body in Western Australia if the proposals were carried. But in spite of threats, misrepresentations, and lies, sedulously circulated throughout the States, I am pleased to be able to say that Western Australia was the one State in the group that showed itself prepared to trust the Federal Parliament to the full extent proposed. The questions will be repeated, otherwise I should be disposed to doubt the steadfastness of purpose of our party, and when they are, I feel sure that the other five States will follow the lead of Western Australia, and give to this Parliament the powers desired. I notice, from the Governor-General's Speech, that Ministers are living up to the professions of the party as the party of reform. A Bill is promised to establish a Commonwealth bank, and uniform banking laws throughout Australia. We shall have a later opportunity to deal with the proposals for the establishment of a Commonwealth bank, but I should like to say here, that the proposal to introduce a uniform banking law may be heartily greeted by every section in this chamber. We have had some unfortunate experiences in the past of banks, established under charter or special Acts of Parliament, that have failed to recognise their obligation. In the early nineties some of these banks, that had the confidence of the people, grossly abused the trust reposed in them, brought many men and women to the verge of starvation, and kept them there for many years. In view of the fact that the law under which they operated still remains the time is surely rotten ripe for the introduction of such a measure as is here proposed. We cannot afford to live in a fool's paradise any longer, and permit the possibility of a repetition of the unfortunate events of the early nineties. I remember that, on that occasion, within my own circle of acquaintances, persons lost the whole of their earnings.

Senator Millen - I always thought the honorable senator, and his friends, were capitalists.

Senator LYNCH - Unfortunately, in the eyes of our honorable friends opposite, a person who does not save is held to be wanting in thrift, and is objected to on that account, and now it appears that if a man does save a little he is also found fault with.

Senator Millen - I was not finding fault, but congratulating the honorable senator and his friends.

Senator LYNCH - Flog high or low we cannot suit honorable senators opposite. I can well remember that in the trying times to which I refer, the failure of the banks to make sufficient provision to meet their obligations, was the direct means of bringing a large number of our people to the verge of starvation. In some cases depositors, who lost their all, were driven to despair and suicide. I can recollect a seafaring man walking his deck up and down, as if he were a dipsomaniac, and the secret of his unrest was that one of the banks had closed for ever upon his life's savings, and left him without a cent in the world. When we remember that under the existing law such a state of affairs might occur again we can welcome this tardy attempt to put our banking institutions in a thoroughly solvent state, and compel them to fulfil their obligations to the last farthing. Legislation in regard to the Northern Territory should receive the earliest consideration from the Senate. I have communications from the discoverer of the Tanami gold-fields, in which he lays stress on the lack of postal facilities, the supply of water in dry seasons, and other advantages which might be secured by Government agency in the Northern Territory, where he is at the present time. Mr. Lawrie, the gentleman to whom I refer, is well known in the mining world of Australia, and in this connexion I may say I agree with Senator Walker that it is not necessary that we should wait until the Commonwealth Government can submit a well-thought-out policy for the all round development of the Northern Territory. We can well afford to make an immediate advance by placing a substantial sum on the Estimates to encourage mining development in the Territory. Mining has been the pioneering industry in every State., and it has been by mining pioneers that the resources of the several States have been brought to light. Even in the northern part of Western Australia, before ever a pastoral area was selected, or any stock taken there, the mining pioneers revealed to the world the nature of the country. They penetrated to the interior, and after undergoing all the hardships of pioneering located Hall's Creek, now the famous Kimberley gold-fields. After them came the people who took up the land as pastoral areas. These have been amply rewarded, and to-day, in Western Australia, they are the only wealthy class in the community. They have received cent, per cent, upon their investments, whereas the early pioneers, who revealed to the world the possibilities of the district, are, perhaps, left without even a Government reward. This is a matter which can be commended to the Government.

Senator Millen - Is it not necessary that, before a reward is offered for the discovery of a gold-field, we should determine the tenure to be offered to those who desire to go to the Territory?

Senator LYNCH - I suppose that would give prospectors some additional assurance that their trouble would not be in vain.

Senator Millen - We must determine the land policy first, whether it be leasehold or freehold, and the terms and conditions on which land is to be held.

Senator LYNCH - I hope this Parliament will never be so insane as to give a freehold for any mining property. The existing conditions under the law of South Australia should be guaranteed to prospectors. What demands immediate attention is that we should hold out adequate inducement to men to go to the Northern Territory to look for minerals and open up a country whose possibilities we are not at present fully aware of. The Government should be prepared to meet all the expenses necessary to provide camels, and render every assistance to prospectors in the Territory.

Sitting suspended from i to 2.30 p.m.

Senator LYNCH - When the sitting was suspended, I was referring to the policy which ought to be adopted in regard to the development of the Northern Territory. I cannot too strongly emphasize that it is undesirable that the Government should wait until a well-thought-out policy for its general development has been evolved before placing upon the Estimates a substantial sum for the purpose of ascertaining what mineral wealth lies hidden there. I have received a letter from Mr. Lawrie, the discoverer of Tanami, in which lie complains bitterly of lack of assistance on the part of the Government. I feel convinced that the Ministry will not lag behind the State Governments in this connexion. In Western Australia the practice has long been in vogue of supplying with rations, camels, and all manner of outfit, men who are willing to go into the interior of that State to prospect for minerals.

Senator de Largie - Does Mr. Lawrie refer to the Commonwealth Government?

Senator LYNCH - His general complaint is, that in the Territory he seems to be abandoned, so far as any assistance from Governments is concerned. He finds himself a negligible quantity there. The Government will be lacking in its duty if it does not provide assistance to men of that stamp, who are prepared to incur all the risks attendant upon the hardy work of a pioneer. I trust that Ministers will take particular heed of my suggestion that there is no need to wait for the evolution of a well-thought-out policy for the development of the Territory before attempting to discover the hidden mineral resources of that country. Then, we have also to face the problem of developing a tropical area. Before that can be clone, it is very necessary that those persons who intend to Spend their capital in the Territory should be assured of some degree of success. Consequently, I would suggest to the Government the expediency of appointing a board of practical experts---of men drawn, say, from the southern States of America, whose conditions very closely resemble those which obtain in the TerritoryHie advise us of the class of land there which is suitable for tropical culture, and of the area which is adapted to the cultivation of particular products. For instance, a person may have an idea of growing tobacco, rice, or sugar, in the Territory, and, in such circumstances, he will naturally desire to have some knowledge of the success that is likely to attend his efforts. We cannot afford to initiate a policy of development in the Territory by disappointing those who go there. The best way to avoid that state of things is to secure the advice of persons, who, under similar conditions in other parts of the world; have undertaken the cultivation of tropical products. The Board should consist of practical experts, men who have spent their lives in tropical cultivation in similar latitudes elsewhere. That is all I have to say in regard to the Northern Territory. But there is another matter mentioned in the Vice-Regal Speech to which I wish to direct attention. I refer to our Meteorological Department. In this island continent We are, Unfortunately, visited from time' to time with very destructive storms. We have a Meteorological Department iri embryo, which provides our producers with a little assistance, perhaps, but which is hampered very much in its operations on account of the lack of funds available. The pressing need for getting into touch with the islands surrounding Australia, for the purpose of warning our people of the approach of storms which may cause serious damage, is generally recognised. On the north-west coast of Western Australia a whole township was recently wrecked, a number of boats were destroyed, and a number of lives lost, owing to the lack of means of communication.

Senator St Ledger - Was that due to want of telegraphic communication?

Senator LYNCH - Largely. To the north of Australia, in the China Sea, and amongst the islands surrounding Japan, there is a perfect network of communication for meteorological purposes- So perfect is it that when a steamer leaves Japan on her journey southward, she can be kept posted throughout the voyage in regard to the location of any destructive storm. If, by the payment of a small sum by way of subsidy, similar stations upon the islands surrounding Australia could be established, that money would be well spent. I recollect that some time ago a violent storm destroyed the township of Cairns, in Queensland. Had a meteorological station been established in Papua, and another on an island on the eastern seaboard of Queensland, the people of that town would have been able to put their property in some sort of security before the arrival of the disturbance. I would like the Government to take this question seriously into consideration. At present -we spend only about £15,000 or £20,000 annually in meteorological work, and in disseminating weather forecasts throughout the Commonwealth. Our Department is far from being that useful institution which it might be. In the past our settlers have suffered very much for want of timely notice of the approach of storms and of bad weather which has injuriously affected their crops. These evils might easily be remedied by improving our Meteorological Department, and by making it work more in harmony with the Postal Department, as is done in the United States. There, so perfect is the system, that even the letter-carriers going out upon their morning rounds can drop warnings of approaching weather disturbances. This information is highly valued by the settlers, and is frequently the means of saving the life's earnings of those engaged in production. But here the producer often has to wait a week for the arrival of a newspaper containing an intimation of the approach of a storm which has already passed him. So that the system which is in vogue in the United States is one which might be advantageously copied in Australia, especially when we consider that it would not cost a further single farthing in additional taxation. The remark which I made in reference to the approach of storms is equally applicable to frosts and other atmospheric visitations which affect primary production. I am glad to observe from the Vice-Regal utterance that Western Australia is at last to be linked up with the eastern States by means of a railway. This undertaking marks an attempt to keep faith with the understanding which was arrived at between a very large number of people in Western Australia and those of the eastern States. While I do not say that the promise of that railway was the chief cause which induced Western Australia to join the Federation, I do say that a well-founded belief that a transcontinental line would be constructed to Western Australia determined very many persons in that State to vote for the Constitution Bill. I am pleased that the Government are about to redeem that substantial promise. In the construction of that railway, as well as in the construction of the line to Port Darwin, which must be undertaken by the Commonwealth sooner or later, we shall be faced with the need for obtaining a considerable quantity of timber. A very large number of sleepers will be required for those two lines, and if we live up to our professions we must pursue a vigorous policy of development in the Northern Territory, not only for our own sake, but for the purpose of warding off any danger which may threaten our future possession of it. In the Federal Territory, too, an enormous quantity of timber will be required for the construction of bridges, wharfs, jetties, and buildings of various descriptions. That being so, the Government should recognise the position in time, and, by securing a good piece of forest" country in one of the States, they should provide the raw material for our future requirements.

Senator St Ledger - Buy it, or lease it?

Senator LYNCH - I am not particular which, so long as the Government obtains possession of a sufficient area to provide for the future necessities of the Commonwealth, so as to prevent us paying an excessive price for sleepers. In this State, and in other States, sleepers are to-day from 80 to 100 per cent, dearer than they were a few years ago. We do not know whether the present price is stationary or on the upward grade, but we do know that the quantity of hardwood in the world is limited ; and if we are to be wise in time, and are to make proper use of our national resources, instead of being put to the necessity of paying exorbitant prices later on, we should approach some of the State Governments with a view to acquiring good timber land, so as to provide ourselves with raw material for railway construction in the future.

Senator St Ledger - In Queensland the Government are building railways absolutely for that purpose.

Senator LYNCH - That being the case, there is no reason why the Federal Government should not follow the good example. We shall require a considerable quantity of hardwood, not only for public works upon which we have already entered, but for other works which are in contemplation. I do not wish to say much concerning the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act, except that I welcome the changes foreshadowed. At present there are great advantages on the side of those who have money to lavish at election time. The Act as at present drafted, although it was designed to render powerless any person who wished to reach this Parliament by reason of his wealth, still confers favours upon the man who has unlimited cash to spend. We had examples during the recent referendum, when there was undoubted evidence of the fact that money was spent almost without heed as long as it achieved the purpose of deluding the electors.

Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator say that the people were corrupted ?

Senator LYNCH - The honorable seator can call it corruption, or he can use any term he pleases ; but I say that we have undoubted evidence which should convince us that we need to shut down hard and fast and for ever on any set of men being allowed to spend money to get their views pressed upon the public, or to secure the return of themselves or their candidates to this Parliament by reason of the fact that they have more money than others.

Senator St Ledger - A man has a right to spend his money, but not corruptly.

Senator LYNCH - Call it corruption, or whatever you please; but it should not be within the power of any man to spend unlimited money to spread his own opinions or to secure the return of candidates to Parliament. We know that money was spent during the referenda campaign to buy newspaper proprietors against their will - to induce them to insert printed matter for the purpose of deluding the electors. Article after article in stereotype form appeared, because newspaper proprietors were paid to insert the matter in their journals, with the object of inducing the electors to vote against their own true interests, and those of the Australian community.

Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator call that corruption ?

Senator LYNCH - I am not particular about terms ; if the honorable senator chooses to call it corruption, he can do so.

Senator Chataway - The remedy seems to be to register political associations, and to audit their accounts.

Senator LYNCH - A large amount of money was also spent on hiring motor cars. That should be stopped.

Senator St Ledger - What about the cash used on the honorable senator's own side?

Senator LYNCH - The cash that is spent by my party can always be accounted for. I am hopeful that the honorable senator will be equally frank as to the disposal of cash on his own side. In connexion with the Labour party, the expenditure is always audited, and we can show how the last farthing contributed was spent. Let Senator St. Ledger, if he can, or if he dare, make the same frank and honest avowal as to how money was spent by his party. I am reminded by Senator E. J. Russell of the large amount of money that was spent by the Opposition in Victoria. It is that kind of financial smuggling that has been responsible for the attitude of a large section of the press of this country.

Senator Chataway - Does the Labour party publish accounts?

Senator LYNCH - Every penny of our money is accounted for ; but I challenge honorable senators opposite to produce accounts as to how the money raised on their side was spent. I am pleased that an effort is to be made to amend the Electoral Act for the reasons that I have given, and am glad that it is to be made by the only party that can draft legislation to give us clean politics, though I recognise that it will be difficult, 6y any human ingenuity, to frame an Act capable of checking the tendency of a section of the community to foist their views upon the public by means of money. A reference is made in the Governor-General's Speech to a contemplated amendment of the Old-age Pensions Act. In the first instance, we were anxious to have that Act passed, although in an imperfect form, but experience of its working has revealed several defects in it that are removable. Those defects concern not only those who are receiving pensions under the scheme, but also those who have the none too easy task of administering the measure. The task of holding the scales evenly is sometimes very hard for those w"ho have finer fibres in their nature. I confess that I do not like to see the proposal to amend that Act appearing alongside proposals to amend some other measures which are not nearly so urgent. There is, for example, a proposal to amend the Public Service Act, and another to amend the Papua Act. I dare say both are wanted, but I am sure that an amendment of the Old-age Pensions Act is of vital importance, especially to those who are receiving the trifling share of benefit that accrues to them at the present time. One direction in which I should like to see an amendment made is by taking out of the Act the provision relating to the value of the house that may be occupied by a pensioner. At present the amount of £100 value is the limit. Under that very drastic provision we find that very many people have had their pensions reduced because their houses were above the stipulated value. I hope that the time will come when* no matter what the value of a pensioner's home may be, no amount will be deducted from the pension on account of it. It seems to me to be an absurdity to make a deduction because of what a man's or a woman's house may be worth. Pensioners who have a home of their own should be allowed to continue to occupy it without any regard being had to its value. Then there is a question affecting income derivable from personal exertion and from contributions made by the children of pensioners. I am sure that the Government will take into consideration the necessity of wiping out deductions which are made in those respects. The Act at present requires that the amount derived by a father or mother from a son or daughter shall be deducted. To do so, however, is to lay a penalty upon family affection, upon that filial regard which every son or daughter should have for father and mother if he or she is possessed of any true human feeling.

To draw a distinction between a father and mother who receive benefits from their children, and another whose children are such degraded specimens that they will contribute nothing towards the support of their parents, is an absurdity, and constitutes a blemish upon the Act. As to the provision which requires account to be taken of earnings from personal exertion, I wish to point out that we have in Western Australia men on the gold-fields who have sufficient vitality to wish to earn a little by fossicking. But if a man earns a small sum in that way, a deduction is made from his pension to the extent of his earnings. That is foolish in the extreme, as it places an embargo upon any man who wants to engage in a little industry in the later years of his life. An old-age pensioner should not be compelled to sit still. It is particularly foolish in such a. case, because an old man who finds a few pennyweights of gold by fossicking is entering into no form of competition with others in the labour market. He is engaging in a light form of employment, which suits him, and tends to conserve his health. The Act, in this way, has a retrogressive effect. I have to express my satisfaction with the very progressive policy that the Government have placed before this Parliament. Although last session we put forth a harvest of progressive legislation of the best kind, which is already bringing forth valuable fruit, no one can deny that we need to make further progress if we :*.re to attain the goal upon which we have set our hearts. I trust, therefore, that the Government will vigorously pursue the progressive policy which they have initiated. There is no sham about our policy. To quote language used by Sir George Reid in Perth a few years ago, if there is one outstanding feature about the Labour party, it is that they place their policy before the electors in the most unmistakable way, so that there is no misunderstanding what they mean. Our policy is one by which we are prepared to stand or fall. There is no obscurity about it. I am pleased to think that the electors of this country have recognised the frankness of our party, ai-d have at length forsaken the leaders by whom they have been so long deluded in favour of a party that is responsible for a policy from which substantial effects have already accrued. I am glad, therefore, that a second instalment of that policy is assuming shape, and that along with the instalment already embodied on the statute-book, not to be removed, but perhaps later even to be improved upon and developed, it will also find a sure and abiding place there. I can only sympathize with the Opposition in their attempt to find fault with the present Administration, because after all they cannot get out of that curious habit of opposing things whether right or wrong. Since they cannot find anything else more substantial to pit against the Government than the poor messenger who attended the three Ministers to the Old Country, they are indeed bankrupt of grievances. I only hope that our programme will be_ supplemented to the full in the Speech which we are to hear next session. For the present I am quite content with the very radical reform which is outlined in many ways in the present programme. I feel certain that the people throughout Australia will receive with acclamation the second instalment as they did the instalment presented to them last session.

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