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Wednesday, 13 September 1911

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Of course it is forced upon the honorable senator, and that is what I am bound to point out. What is the reason for this attitude? One reason is that he has given certain votes which he knows well the people of this State will never forgive him for. He is more than ever anxious that they shall forget, above all other things, that it was his vote which fixed the site of the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is too bad ; I claim that honour.

Senator McColl - I should vote in the same way again and again.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Whilst Senator W. Russell may desire to claim the credit, at all events he has been a little consistent in regard to that site. But what has been the attitude of Senator McColl? Did he favour Yass-Canberra? Did he "believe that it was the best site? Was he anxious that the Federal Parliament should meet there, or did the exigencies of party at the time compel him to give a vote of which he has been ashamed ever since?

Senator McColl - I have never been ashamed of my vote. Mr. President, I think that that is hardly parliamentary language.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I want to point out to Senator Millen, who, I think, ought to give me credit for taking this attitude

Senator Millen - I do, because you bring up this subject every time you speak.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - If the honorable senator will only listen to me, I do not think that we shall be found in opposition now. In the last speech I made here in regard to the Capital, I said that as two Parliaments had decided that it should be established at Yass-Canberra I should no longer offer any opposition to that site. I do not know whether the honorable senator takes any exception to my attitude.

Senator Millen - I shall see what it is later.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - What has been the attitude of Senator McColl ? He gave the vote which fixed the site after trying to hide his head under the banner of Tumut. But ever since that day he has been crying in the Chamber and objecting to the voting of any money to carry out the determination of Parliament.

Senator McColl - It is quite untrue to say that I have been crying ever since.

Senator McGregor - You were crying to-night.

Senator McColl - I do not look very much like it, do I?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - It must be a case of misunderstanding.

The- PRESIDENT.- Senator McColl is entitled to remark that a statement is not correct, but the use of the word " untrue " is out of order.

Senator McColl - The statement is incorrect. The whole thing is too paltry to worry about.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I would like to look at the honorable senator when he is pleasant, if he was not crying to-night. The position he has taken up has been that of consistently trying to delay the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra. He has asked the Senate repeatedly - and I do not think that he will deny my statement - to delay, and not to spend money. Even to-night he has asked that no money shall be spent on the Site.

Senator McColl - Not " no money." I admit that I opposed any heavy expenditure.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - What is the position taken up by the honorable senator?

Senator McColl - I took exception tonight because the Government have spent £30,000 more than was voted.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - If the amount is 30s. the honorable senator is against the site. The Parliament determined on the site, and if the Ministry did not carry out its instruction, and proceed with the erection of the Capital there, he would be one of the first to denounce them.

Senator McColl - That is pure assumption on your part.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I do sometimes assume things which are not always correct. I plead guilty; but for pure assumption and audacity I think that the honorable senator is unequalled in this Chamber.

Senator McColl - Thanks, very much".

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Well, trie honorable senator assumes to be all virtue on this question.

Senator McColl - No.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - This evening again pointed references were made to the question of Protection. What has been the attitude of the Government? They promised to look into anomalies in the Tariff. I am a Protectionist, and I am satisfied that the Government mean to redeem that promise. If they do not, the honorable senator will find me voting, when the proper time comes, to secure those amendments which we believe to be necessary for the welfare of this State. He sneers at the Government for not re-opening the Tariff, but he surely cannot forget that not many months ago he joined with some of the most prominent Free Trade members of this Parliament in a fusion which, if it had any object at all, was intended to wipe out Protection. The honorable senator also said that the people of this country believed at the last election that the Labour party were the real Protectionist party, and that they would bring in amendments of the Tariff. Well, as far as I am concerned, I did make such a promise,' and I shall endeavour to redeem it. But. he" should also remember that when his partly was crying Protection from the housetops the people refused to believe them. That was because the people knew that' two-thirds of his party were absolute Free Traders.

Senator Millen - Are they all Protectionists in the honorable senator's party ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I never affirmed that they were, and the honorable senator will find a difficulty in pointing to any speech of mine in which I made such a statement. Senator McColl has, however, been endeavouring by all the means in his power to cloud the issue in order to avoid the same fate as befel his colleagues on the 13th April, 1910. He has not the courage to face the electors on the same issue and take the consequences, as his colleagues had to do on that occasion. He hopes that the slight reverse to the Labour party which occurred on the 26th' April--

Senator Chataway - Slight ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Well, the wholesale reverse, if that word will suit the honorable senator better. Senator McColl hopes that that reverse will be repeated at the next election, but I may assure him that the people are waiting to mete out to him and others the same fate as they gave to his colleagues in the previous year.

Senator Millen - As a prophet, the honorable senator is at a discount after the 26th April.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - There were distinct issues upon which the members of the Fusion party were judged. The people of this State condemned them wholesale. It was a lucky thing for Senator McColl that he had not to be judged on that day, for he knows what would have ocurred to him if he had been; and it is because he is really anxious to dissociate himself from the principles of the Fusion party, which brought his colleagues to grief, that he drags the personal issue in on every occasion.

Senator McColl - I appear to be a heavy trouble to the honorable senator.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Senator McCollis no trouble to me, but it is troublesome to the people of this State to know what his political opinions are. He has also aired his eloquence on the subject of the prosperity of the country under the Labour party. If good government cannot insure prosperity to a country, it is, at all events, true that bad government can drive prosperity out; and the worst records to be found in the history of this State are those of the period when the honorable senator was a member of a Ministry. There has been no time in Victoria's history when so many men had to walk the streets as was the case then. In face of what then occurred, the honorable senator now poses as an authority on banking and of the risks which a Commonwealth bank would entail. The honorable senator is well aware, as a Victorian Minister at the time to which I am referring, that his Government did things of which he is ashamed to-day. People were not permitted to receive the deposits which they had put in the banks because of the action of his Government. . He ought to remember his association with some of those institutions when he speaks of what a Commonwealth bank might possibly do. The honorable senator said that the Government of the time could have saved every one of the banks. If the State could have saved those rotten institutions, which crumbled one after the other, surely the Commonwealth is six times as powerful as any individual State, and could guarantee the stability of an institution established by itself.

Senator McColl - We are wiser to-day than we were then.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - It is well to know that the honorable senator attains wisdom sometimes. I was a little confused as to whether Senator McColl made one of his remarks on his own responsibility or attributed it to a school teacher ; but I understood him to say that if he had a boy he would not permit him to undergo military training because of its demoralizing effects.

Senator McColl - No; I said I would not allow a boy to go out for night drills. I have a boy who is a senior cadet now. I said that, sooner than allow a boy of fourteen to go out on night drills and mix with nil sorts of people, I would pay the fine or send him out of the country.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator is a striker then. He is no better than a trade unionist.

Senator McColl - But I would send my boy to day drills. Every parent will agree with me, too.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator reflects on trade unionists when they do not obey the law, but he says that he himself would go on strike against the law of the land, and would also incite his boy to resist it.

Senator Findley - This is mutiny!

Senator McColl - Humbug !

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - When a trade unionist, in spite of black lists, and in spite of his name being given to employers as a person who should not be employed, has the courage to go on strike, he is ah offender against the laws of the country ; but when Senator McColl refuses to obey the law it is conduct of quite another description.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator justifies such conduct in the one case, but takes exception to it in the other.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am not justifying any one, but am pointing out an inconsistency. Senator McColl may break the law with impunity, but another person must not.

Senator Millen - When did the honorable senator ever denounce an industrial strike ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I have denounced strikes on more than one occasion, but I have never, on any occasion, advocated the total abolition of strikes, and never will. I do not believe that we have yet reached a stage of civilization when that can be done.

Senator Millen - Why should not Senator McColl be allowed to strike as well as any one else?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am objecting to his assumption of virtue in his own case, whilst he is ready to denounce breaches of law in others. He has also referred to Canada, with its glorious progress and its four transcontinental railway lines. Yetthe same honorable senator voted against the only transcontinental Survey Bill which has been introduced into this Parliament - a measure, not for the purpose of building a railway, but merely for the making of a preliminary survey. He tells us that if his party were in power we should probably have transcontinental railways all over the country.

Senator McColl - I never said anything of the kind.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Has not the honorable senator been recommending the Government to copy Canada and its transcontinental lines ? Otherwise, what was the use of quoting the Canadian example?

Senator McColl - I was quoting Canada as a market for our produce.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - And the honorable senator voted against every effort that has been made in this Parliament to copy the methods of Canada in reference to the development of the country. It is just as well, if we believe in what Canada has done to develop her territory by means of transcontinental railways, and thus to open up the country for settlers, that we should advocate the same policy for Australia. The honorable senator was very ready with his denunciation of the legislation and administration of the Government; but I should like to ask him which of the fortytwo measures placed upon the statute-book last year he would like to repeal ? Which would he repeal if his party came into power? Would he repeal the land tax?

Senator Chataway - Are the Labour party in New South Wales going la repeal the Coercion Act?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Yes, at the earliest opportunity. Which of the fortytwo measures would Senator McColl like to repeal?

Senator Millen - Did the Government pass forty-two measures last session?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Yes, they did.

Senator Millen - They did more mischief than I thought.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Which of them has the honorable senator the courage to come out and say that he would promise to repeal ?

Senator Millen - Probably the whole lot.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Is the whole party opposite content to make vague insinuations, and to adopt the same method as Senator McColl has adopted, by suggesting that everything resulting from that legislation is bad, whilst refusing to specify any particular measure? Would Senator McColl repeal the land tax or penny postage, or the Australian Notes Act? If not, what is he complaining about?

Senator St Ledger - We made the Notes Act for the honorable senator's party. We built it up for them.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am learning something.

Senator St Ledger - The Government adopted what we suggested.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - This Government has been denounced for its iniquitous legislation. Well, I ask Senator McColl again which piece of our legislation would he repeal?

Senator Henderson - Do not ask him to be too definite.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I do not ask any man to be definite who finds himself in an awkward corner, but if Senator McColl has not the courage to answer the- question here, the electors will take care, when he denounces the Labour party, that they know which piece of our legislation he wishes to repeal.

Senator Millen - How could we repeal the Australian Notes Act when the Government have lent money for a fixed term?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - It is possible to repeal any piece of legislation if it is working badly.

Senator Millen - You cannot always retrace an evil step, as the honorable senator has probably found out.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - While I admire the honorable senator's cleverness, I wish to observe that if the country is pros perous in spite of our legislation, honorable senators opposite could, if they had the courage, soon find a way of repealing that which was working badly. When we, on one occasion, did not like a financial measure passed by a previous Government - the Naval Loan Act - we had the courage to repeal it as soon as we came into power.

Senator Chataway - We had not borrowed under that Act. If we had borrowed under it the Act could not have been repealed.

Senator Millen - If action had been taken under that Act, it could not have been repealed. Action has been taken under the Australian Notes Act, and the proceeds have been let out for fixed terms. How could we repeal it, therefore?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator would like me to go into details ?

Senator Millen - I should like a simple answer.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I cannot enter into details at the present moment, but I say again that if any of our legislation is bad, it cannot be contended for a moment that it would be impossible if not to repeal it immediately, to stop the further issue of Commonwealth notes, and gradually to redeem them as the loans fell due. Is that an impracticable proposition ?

Senator Millen - Yes.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - If ever the Labour party, as the result of experience, arrive at the conclusion that the note issue is a bad thing for Australia, they will soon show the honorable senator a method by which the legislation authorizing it can be repealed. Senator McColl must have been a very busy man during the recess. He was not able to visit Papua with the parliamentary party of inspection, and consequently he denounces the trip as a pure waste of money. I will let the honorable senator into a secret. Almost at the last moment, I found that it would be very inconvenient for me to accompany the party, and, consequently, I decided to abandon the visit. But on my way into the city one morning, I purchased a newspaper from which I gleaned that the whole of the members of the Opposition in this Chamber and another place, as the result of a round robin, had ratted upon their promises to visit Papua. As I did not wish to be bracketed with them, I resolved, at considerable personal inconvenience, to make the trip.

Senator McColl - Did 1 promise to go?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I have never mistaken the honorable senator for the whole of his party.

Senator McColl - I did not hand in my name as one who was willing to make the trip.

Senator Millen - Senator E.J. Russell said that the whole of the members of the Opposition in this Parliament ratted upon their promise to go.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Then I will correct my statement by saying that severalmembers of the Opposition in this Chamber and in another place, after handing in their names as amongst those who were desirous of visiting Papua, withdrew at the eleventh hour for the purpose of gaining a mere party advantage. Personally, I had a very pleasant trip.

Senator Millen - We do not doubt that.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - lt might have been still more pleasant if the Leader of the Opposition had accompanied us. As the result of that visit, I believe that a certain number of members in this Parliament are in possession of information upon many matters which will prove of great value to the Commonwealth. Surely, it will not be urged that it is possible to get as accurate information concerning a country by any other means as it is by obtaining a first-hand acquaintance with the conditions which prevail there. Is it a waste of time for legislators who are charged with the responsibility of administering the affairs of Papua to personally ascertain the position of its native inhabitants, so that we may be able to prevent them being exploited by the white man ? I believe that the trip will prove of great benefit to the Commonwealth. We found that the natives of Papua are capable of being educated up to a very high standard. I have school books in my possession which prove that native children up to twelve and thirteen years of age are quite as capable of assimilating knowledge as are children of similar age attending our own State schools. I confess that previously I had entertained the idea that the natives fell far short of the standard of excellence which I found amongst them. It may interest Senator McColl to learn that in a New Guinea plantation we saw the natives of that country handling a plough almost as well as a white man could handle it. We learnt that they were engaged in various forms of agriculture, and that they do not depend upon the white man for food, but produce all their own foodstuffs.Seeing that the honorable senator admires thrift so much, let me inform him that indifferent parts of the island we saw storehouses in which were stored from 200 -to 400 tons of potatoes for future consumption.

Senator St Ledger - They were cornering the market.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - No. There were no Fusionists there. I have never heard of any complaint by a native of Papua - either man, woman, or child - that he or she lacked the necessaries of life. Consequently, we have to ask ourselves the question, " Why do these people work for the white man?" They do so simply because they desire to obtain tobacco and a few luxuries. But wherever they are so employed, their health suffers, and they receive less of the food to which they are accustomed than they would otherwise do. So far as housing and living are concerned, the great majority occupy a position of comparative comfort. They do not require to work in large numbers for the white man. But the latter is particularly anxious to secure native labour by taxing them, notwithstanding, that the natives, as the result of the tobacco which they smoke, already contribute 70 per cent, of the revenue of the country. Consequently, the white planter can have only one object in compelling them to work for him, namely, a desire to exploit them. These are serious problems which must demand our earnest attention, in the near future. T admit that, so far I have not matured ideas upon them. But I feel sure that if a proposal to compel the natives to work for the white planters were submitted to this Parliament Senator McColl, had he visited Papua, would have been better able to cast -a wise vote upon it than he is at present. But simply because the newspapers of this State opposed the trip, he lacked the courage to make it, and to learn first-hand the con,ditions which obtain there.

Senator McColl - It is simply childish to talk like that. I neither lacked the courage nor the means to go.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does not the honorable senator honestly think that men are benefited by travel and by visiting conntries other than their own ? I will undertake to say that the sixteen members of this Parliament who journeyed to Papua are better able to deal with the problems connected with that country now than they were before they visited it.

Senator McColl - When honorable senators take pleasure trips, they ought to pay their own expenses.

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