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Wednesday, 13 September 1911

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator knows that interjections are disorderly, and there has been nothing but a constant fire of interjections during -the last twenty minutes. I did not hear the expression to which he takes exception.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I take exception to being classed as a " Thug." Senator McCoIl described me as the " Thug" of my party.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! If Senator McColl used that expression, I ask him to withdraw it.

Senator McCOLL - The honorable senator also used a very nasty expression towards me. However, I withdraw, and leave it to his own good sense as to whether he will withdraw the statement which he made about me.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - You withdraw the expression that I am the ferret of my party, and I will withdraw the statement that I am not the fox.

Senator McCOLL - I observe from the Vice-Regal Speech that it is proposed to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. What lines the amendment will follow I do not know. I was very disappointed when I heard an honorable senator deprecating the idea of industrial peace. We know that early in the present year strikes appeared to be stirred up in all directions. Some gentlemen who ought to have been advocates of industrial peace were striving to create dissension everywhere. If we desire the good of Australia, we ought to do our utmost to insure industrial peace. Year after year we have been amending our Conciliation and Arbitration Act and introducing Wages Boards, with a view to bettering the position of the worker. But all our efforts have been in vain. Take the case of the Newcastle strike, which occurred in 1909. That was a monstrous strike, and it was started by the leader of the Labour party, the late Acting Prime Minister. He moved the resolution which brought it about. Then when the Coercion Act became law in New South Wales, and prominent members of the party became afraid of being gaoled, they sneaked out of the trouble, and allowed Peter Bowling to bear the brunt of it. I am glad to note that the development of the Northern Territory is to be taken in hand. I look upon the settlement of that Territory as the most serious problem which we have to face. I opposed the transfer of it to the Commonwealth, because I did hot believe in the conditions surounding the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.

Senator Needham - The honorable senator turned turtle on the Federal Capital site question, anyhow.

Senator McCOLL - I did nothing of the kind. If these interjections continue, I shall be prompted to make some very nasty remarks. It will be very difficult to induce white people to settle in the Northern Territory and to cultivate it as it ought to be cultivated. I am sorry we have not a: Federal Bureau of Agriculture, so that the Government might send experts there and establish experimental farms. These will require to be established upon dry fanning lines, if they are to be a success. Hitherto all the great systems of agriculture have been formulated and carried on under moist conditions; but a system of dry land agriculture has not yet been formulated, though' they are doing it in America now. It is a most serious problem - the problem of whether white men, and especially white women, will be able to make a living there. I do hope that the Government will have the whole question investigated, so that we may get the very best results from the land which is to be settled. A great responsibility rests upon the Ministry, and I am sure that any proposals of a sound and reasonable character will be acceptable to all parties.

Senator de Largie - Surely the honorable senator does not say that there is ho dry farming in Australia?

Senator McCOLL - No; I am . aware that there is a good deal of dry farming carried on in Australia. What I am saying is that the question of how the Northern Territory is to be administered and settled is one of the most important which the Government have to consider. If they desire people to go there, take up land, and work it as farms, they must establish experimental farms in advance of settlement in order that the settlers may be informed as to what they ought to do, otherwise we shall have failure after failure. The Northern Territory is the danger zone of Australia. There are only 1,200 white people there, and it is not more than five or six days steam distant from Japan and China. I lately had the pleasure of listening to a gentleman who came from China and Japan two or three months ago. He made the statement that the changes taking place in China at the present time are enormous.- The Chinese are doing away with their old educational institutions, and are now running their schools on European lines. The latest implements of warfare are to be found there, and a Chinese Parliament will meet in 1913. The most important social, industrial, military and religious changes are taking place there, and very shortly the country, instead of being governed by the

Emperor, his Council, and Viceroys, will be governed by representatives elected by the people themselves. They are now building their Parliament Houses, and in 1913 a Chinese Parliament will meet. We have to bear in mind that China, with her 435,000,000 of people, is to-day a very different China from what she was a few years ago. The Chinese are a peaceful nation, but when people begin to realize their strength, they are sometimes disinclined to continue to be peaceful. A few years ago, the Chinese were asked by the British Government to refrain from dealing in opium; a term of ten years was arranged for the cessation of the traffic in opium, and -to-day there are whole provinces in China in which a poppy plant is not to be seen. In a few years now the traffic will be at an end. The whole condition of China is altered, and we must have the Northern Territory settled, or we may have to deal with a people who, by sheer weight of numbers, might overbear not only Japan, but this country as easily as possible. I am very glad to see that the Government are proposing reciprocal - trade relations with Canada and New Zealand. It will be of great advantage to this country if we establish trade relations with Canada. We have to depend on our primary products from the soil for our prosperity, and we must increase the markets for those engaged in our primary industries. There is no market that seems to me more tempting than the Canadian market. There will be soon running into Vancouver four great lines of railway ; the seasons in Canada dovetail into ours, and if we could get our fruit carried there, -we should for three or four months of the year command the Canadian market. If we wish our people to be settled on the land, it is our duty to find markets for. their produce, and we should require a direct line of steamers from each port. There are enormous opportunities for trade in Canada; there are 7,500,000 people there, whilst we have only 4,500,000. Canada has only 7,250,000 -cattle, whilst we have 11,250,000, and Canada has only 3,000,000 sheep, whilst we have no less than 92,000,000. There is room for a great trade with that country, in frozen meat, dairy products, and fruit. I. hope, therefore, that the Government promise to establish reciprocal trade with Canada will be given effect. -We must have direct lines of steamers from each of our large ports. Hitherto, exports to Canada have had to be transhipped al; Sydney, and this has in volved a great deal of unnecessary expense. It is a drawback and a danger to Australia that boats running between this country and Canada should call at New Zealand. In one case, I know that sixteen Americans who were coming over with the object of settling in Australia were intercepted in New Zealand, and they remained there. I know also that some undergraduates from Pueblo, Colorado, coming to -this country stopped at New Zealand, and were persuaded to remain there.

Sitting suspended from 6-36 to 8 p.m.

Senator McCOLL - I have said that there are. four lines of railway now running into Vancouver. They . are the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific, the Canadian Pacific, and the Grand Trunk lines.

Senator Pearce - They do not jib at one transcontinental railway in Canada.

Senator St Ledger - No ; but they leave the building of railways to syndicates there.

Senator McCOLL - The Government do not pay for them either.

Senator Lynch - Should not the land given to the companies be regarded as pay- ment ?

Senator McCOLL - It is part payment, of course, but I am not discussing that question just now. I am speaking of Canada as a market for our produce. I am showing how the country is being opened up, and that there is there a great scarcity in the local production of fruit, butter, and mutton.- Mutton is almost unknown in Canada, because of the very small number of sheep there. I hope the Government will keep these matters in view. I am aware that an order was received some time ago in Victoria from Canada for 50,000 cases of apples, but, because of lack of space on the boats, they could not be supplied. I may inform honorable senators that Washington imports peaches under cold storage from South Africa, and their fruits bring high prices in Washington and in London. Our seasons dovetail into the Canadian seasons, and we ought to make a. big effort to get into- the Canadian market. The land tax is referred to in the GovernorGeneral's Speech as having cheapened land and induced settlement. ' It has not cheapened land, nor do I think it will do so, but I believe that it will have some effect in the breaking up of large estates, and so will induce settlement later on. It is, however, too early yet to take credit for the land tax for any increased settlement. A reference is made to the trip to Papua.

Personally, I think it was a useless waste of money. The members of this Parliament who took part in it no doubt had a very good trip, but they could not have obtained much information, and their visit will, I think, be of very little use to the country. A reference is also made to penny postage, and it is claimed that if the Federal Government err in anything it is not in administration, I do not think the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department was ever worse than it is at the present time. The whole service is rife with complaints. I wish particularly to call attention to the way in which country services and post-offices are being treated. When the revenue from country services does not equal the cost of running them, the Government are making the people pay the difference, unless it amounts to less than £5. The Department threatened to discontinue a service in one of the northern districts of Victoria because the revenue derived from it was £6 7s. id. short of what was expended. I came down specially to Melbourne to try to induce the Department to alter its determination. If the difference had been £4 19s. 6d., the people would not have been charged anything, but as it amounted to £6 7s. id. they were asked to pay up that amount, or the service would be discontinued.

Senator Millen - The whole of it, or the difference between that amount and £5?

Senator McCOLL - The whole of it. A number of people are dependent upon the service for mail facilities, and the district is a remote country one. I wrote to the Department, and offered to guarantee the amount required, but the authorities would not accept my guarantee, and, in order to keep the service going I gave my cheque, and hold a receipt for the amount now in my possession. -I think this is cutting matters a little too fine. It seems to me that where there is a large population, and a big voting strength, the people get every consideration, whilst scattered settlements in our back districts receive no consideration at all. I intend to test the feeling of the Senate as to whether this sort of thing should be continued. In pre- Federal days there was nothing of this sort. Districts were not charged with any shortage in the revenue from public services. In many cases post-offices were kept open where the cost amounted to a shilling apiece for the delivery of letters. We are continually preaching to the people that they should go upon the land, and yet the Government are depriving them of the ordinary advantages of citizenship, unless they pay personally for the cost of the services they enjoy. In many cases the payments to persons in charge of allowance post-offices have been cut down. I have a letter from another part of the northern district of Victoria, from a man who is being paid £5 a year for keeping a post-office. He has been given notice that from the 1st July last his remuneration will only be at the rate of £3 a year. It is not a very big post-office certainly, but the man is required to be always in attendance. The postage is stated to be 708 letters and 276 packets, and he receives 2,484 letters and 1,500 packets. He is allowed the privilege of selling stamps, provided he pays cash for the stamps beforehand, and he is then given a commission of 6d. in the £1 on their sale.

Senator Millen - Does he find office accommodation ?

Senator McCOLL - He has to find all the necessary office accommodation. The Department does not pay a single penny for that. He is required also to do parcel post work, to make up mails, register letters, and keep the office open to the public all the year round for a payment of 2 1/2 d. a day.

Senator Henderson - Did he do this f °r £5 a year ?

Senator McCOLL - He did, and is prepared to continue to do so, but he is now to get only £3 a year.

Senator Henderson - After doing that work for £5 a year, he should be compelled to do it for nothing.

Senator McCOLL - It is difficult to get people to take charge of these post offices in remote country districts on the terms fixed by the Post and Telegraph Department. If the number of letters dealt with is 600 to 1,000, the payment made is £1 ; if 1,000 to 2,000, £2 ; 2,000 to 3,000, £l J 3>000 to 4,000, £4 ; 4,000 to 5,000, £5 > 5»°°o to 6,000, £6 ; 6,000 to 7,000, £7 ; and 7,000 to 8,000 £8, which is the maximum amount paid for what are called allowance post offices. I think that a stop should be put to that sort of thing at once. It is cruel to treat the country districts in such a way. I intend to submit a motion to the Senate dealing with country mail services, and the payments made to country postmasters. Another step taken by the Department which I look upon as distinctly retrograde is the closing of post and telegraph offices at 6 p.m. This has been, on many occasions, a serious inconvenience to me, and it must be of very great inconvenience to the public at large throughout Australia. I notice that a large deputation waited upon the Minister yesterday in connexion" with this matter, but they got rather cold comfort from him. He is disposed apparently to look at it from the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view only. He has said that only so many telegrams are received after 6 p.m., and the offices cannot therefore be kept open.

Senator Millen - On that argument we should close up the Pacific cable.

Senator McCOLL - On that argument we might justify the closing of a number of services. The Government are concerned about a paltry saving in one direction whilst they are pouring out money in another. It is like pouring out the contents of a barrel at the bung-hole and saving them at the spigot.

Senator Lynch - The closing of post offices after 6 p.m. applies only to Victoria.

Senator McCOLL - It applies- also in New South Wales. I was in that State a little time ago, and could not send a telegram after 6 p.m.

Senator Henderson - In Western Australia the offices have never been opened after 6 o'clock.

Senator McCOLL - Western Australia is not developed yet. If a person has never enjoyed a privilege he does not feel the lack of it. But people who have been accustomed to a privilege all their lives feel the lack of it very keenly when they are deprived of it. I see that the progressive land tax is spoken of as. having had some effect in attracting immigrants. That is rather far fetched. I think that it has had very little effect in increasing land settlement up to the present, and the statement that it has attracted immigrants is merely a tarradiddle. The immigrants who have been coming to Australia within the last year or two have been induced to come here through the exertions of the State Governments who have been making special efforts to introduce people.

Senator Findley - Why does not the honorable senator give some credit to the High Commissioner's Office?

Senator McCOLL - The High Commissioner is not the land tax, and, though his efforts may have had some effect, he has not been very long in the position, nor has he very much money at his disposal, to further emigration to Australia. It has recently been due to State agencies, and let me tell honorable senators opposite that the main factors in stopping emigration to" this country are the Trades Unions and Political Labour Councils.

Senator Henderson - What rot !

Senator McCOLL - There is not one Labour programme which has been issued during the last nine years in which immigration was a plank. I have the programmes for 1903, 1906, and 1909.

Senator Henderson - Is there any programme in which immigration was denounced"?

Senator McCOLL - No; but there have been plenty of meetings and gatherings at which immigration has been denounced. What has stopped persons from coming here from the Old Country has been these warnings as to the state of the labour market, and the alleged conditions here, which have been constantly transmitted from political labour councils and trades unions.

Senator Givens - The Age is continually objecting to the importation of military officers, and why should not the workers object to the importation of men to compete with them?

Senator McCOLL - The bodies I have mentioned have been subsidizing demagogues at Home to put articles in their newspapers. In Wales the Prime Minister told a body of men that in Australia there was work for those who chose to come, and the workers here are bringing him to book for doing that.

Senator Henderson - The " stinking fish " party is doing more to prevent immigration than is any one else.

Senator McCOLL - The Labour party; is the "stinking fish" party which is keeping persons from coming to Australia. Perhaps the honorable senator will believe what John Burns says. When exception was taken, at the Congress of 1907, to the operations of the Immigration Bureau in England, he stated that what was stopping emigration to this country more than anything else was the reports sent Home about the conditions of the labour market here by private, semi-private, and public bodies. Honorable senators on the other side have only to look at their own newspapers to find the proof of what I say. If you want to get the mind of a party, do not" go by its addresses, but read its press. Where will )'Ou find any Labour press in advocacy of immigration to this country? Yet that is our one great want. You will find men like Ben Tillett and Tom Mann continually running down this country, which treated them well. In the Daily Mail a year or two ago, Ben Tillett had a paragraph put in stating that in Victoria there were 100,000 men, women, and children in a state of absolute destitution. Will . any one say that that was true ? Senator Henderson. - You will admit that at one time there was an immense number of destitute persons in Victoria. I am not prepared to say that the number was' 1 00; 000.

Senator McCOLL - Do not try to excuse a statement of this kind.

Senator Henderson - I have seen the streets crowded with such persons.

Senator McCOLL - So have I, and gone through them; but that occurred a very long time ago.

Senator Henderson - Perhaps the occasion to which you refer occurred a long time ago.

Senator McCOLL - In this paragraph it was stated, at the instance of Ben Tillett, that in Victoria 8,000 or 9,000 children died each year from the want of food. That is the sort of information which is sent Home, and stops persons from coming out. The workers in Canada and America do not do that. America has been getting 1,000,000 immigrants a year for the last twenty or thirty years. She raises no protest against persons entering her territory, because she knows that the more persons come, the more work there will be for everybody. Let honorable senators on the other side read their Labour newspapers, and see what they have published on this subject. ' I want now to refer to the difficulties which appear' to be in the way of the Minister of Defence in regard to carrying out his scheme. I notice that in some parts pf the. country, especially in Broken Hill, some extraordinary resolutions have been passed. In a newspaper of the 5th inst. I read the following resolution: -

That, whereas under the existing compulsory military law, the youths and young men, from 14 years to 26 years, who are being, or are to be, disciplined by officiating flunkeys of a financing faction, may be called upon in the future to put the quietus on the aims and activities of organized labour, we, the members of the Barrier branch of the A.M. A., register our protest against the 'politically-propped military scheme, and pledge ourselves to use every means, legitimate or otherwise, to frustrate the side of mad-frenzied Australian jingoism that at the present juncture is being fostered by the political misgivings of all parties.

Further, we call upon all unionists who are fathers of conscripts to counteract the damning influence of military officers by inculcating the spirit of independence and proletarian principles- ia their sons, so that they will always instinctively know where their class interests be, and incidentally where to turn their rifles in the event of industrial unrest, whenever and wherever the powers that be decree that ball cartridges be resorted to. And that all members of this association be asked to refrain from allowing their sons to be trained under the Compulsory Military Act, and in the event of any member being prosecuted, this association offers its moral and practical support.

That this .association is also in favour of the general strike as a means to prevent war.

They say that they will support no Labour member who does not vote for wiping out the Defence Act. And further, they withdrew their support from the HospitalSunday movement -

The meeting decided to send the resolution tothe local Federal member (Mr. Thomas), requesting him to bring it before Parliament. It was also resolved that members of the association refrain from supporting Labour membersof Parliament who do not vote for wiping out the Defence Act. A committee of twelve wasappointed to prepare a manifesto in opposition to the Act, and to conduct a campaign against it. Another resolution adopted was to the effectthat the association refrain from taking any part in the coming Hospital Sunday demonstration if the cadets are to take part.

The general public refuse to take the resolutions seriously. The association officially reports that its meeting was crowded, and that, the resolutions were unanimously adopted, but. outsiders, including many unionists, assert tha*, the resolutions were the creation of the Socialists in the association.

In a newspaper of the nth inst. I read-

Submitting to the request of a deputation fromthe Amalgamated Miners' Association's antimilitary campaign committee, the Hospital Sunday demonstration committee last night decided to recall the invitation given to the cadets totake part in the Hospital Sunday procession. The deputation promised that if the cadets were not allowed to march the association would turn out in strong numbers. The decision to excludethe cadets was carried by 16 votes to 10.

Senator Millen - I do not think much of the Committee then.

Senator McCOLL - Yes ; but that is theposition. What is the Minister of Defence going to do? Will he have the pluck totackle that sort of thing, or will he liedown to it? If he does not act properly,, then good-bye to our Cadet system.; because that sort of feeling will spread.

Senator Henderson - Do not troubleabout it.

Senator McCOLL - The honorable senator is a man of peace, and does not likethis sort of thing. That is all I have to say. The Government, apparently, are not in a hurry to get on with work ; but I hope- (that we shall have a pleasant and useful session, and that our legislation will be for the benefit of the country.

Senator E. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) J8.20I. - I feel somewhat at a disadvantage in having to follow an honorable senator who possesses all the virtues, both political and otherwise, while he considers that anything which may come, ..from this side can :be of no use, ornamentally or otherwise, or of practical effect in politics. I have .been pondering for some considerable time to discover what could be his motive. I must admit that generally he is friendly outside the Chamber, but whenever he rises here it seems impossible for him to do anything but endeavour to create personal conflicts for some ulterior object.

Senator McColl - Never until it is forced upon me.

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