no previous
no next

Mr. W.J. Lyne (Leader of the Opposition)

Mr. W. J. Lyne, M.L.A., who was received with applause, said that when following the Premier he generally had to criticise Mr. Reid's actions, but to-day the subject was one which had been raised above the arena of party polities. (Hear, hear.) This Convention was composed of representatives of all shades of political belief. They were willing to sink party considerations for the common good, and this augured well for the cause for which they were fighting. Before proceeding further he would like to make reference to the death of an old friend of Federation. They would be sorry to learn that a telegram had been received announcing the death of Mr. J. P. Garvan. He was always a friend to the cause, and had he lived and been in good health he would probably have been one of the members of the Convention. (Applause.) The Premier had said that the Convention of 1891 was


  ― 94 ―
not one that emanated directly from the community. That might be, or might not be, but the thanks of the community were due to that Convention for bringing about the Commonwealth Bill, so many clauses of which the Bathurst Convention had agreed to. That bill had done much to assist in the discussion of Federation, and had even been the basis on which the discussions of that Convention had taken place. That bill must also be the basis of any future Convention on the question of Federation. The Convention of 1891 was said to be of a too conservative character, but the next Convention would be more diversified in its views. On the present occasion there were Conservatives, Liberals, ultra-Radicals, and even Republicans present — (hear, hear) and yet the speeches he had heard would do credit to any debate which could be raised on the question under consideration. Credit was due to those who had inaugurated the gathering, and he thought that the educative character of the meetings would be of great value. The question was now being debated by the energy of private citizens, and he thought that other centres of population would do well to follow the example of Bathurst, and create a federal feeling throughout Australia. No doubt in Bathurst the cause of Federation would be advanced to a great extent, for there had been large assemblages of the public at the meetings of the Convention. This would lead to criticism and discussion, and if they went no further the object of the Convention would be achieved. But the work of the Convention would, he believed, have more far-reaching effects. Good would be done to Australia generally, as the ideas expressed would be made known through the Press from one end of the colonies to the other. Three years ago a convention was held at Corowa, and the feeling from that district permeated for hundreds of miles around, and Bathurst was now doing a similar work, only in a larger degree. He desired to draw attention to the action which had been taken in the past in the cause of Federation. No one should detract from the importance of that pioneer work; but no sooner had one corner stone been laid, with the idea that it was going to be the foundation stone of Australian unity, than another had been hewn, and the old one cast aside. He was now sorry that an attempt was not made to build up a federation from the Federal Council; but it was not to be. That foundation stone was now cast aside, and other stones were laid. The lesson which had been taught was that the will of the community must be ascertained, and upon that will stone after stone and brick after brick must be laid, until the result was the unity of Australia. (Cheers.) He hoped to see this brought about within his own lifetime, and neither he nor his party had ever attempted to obstruct Federation. (Applause.) He hoped, now, that the last foundation stone had been laid, and that those who came afterwards would build upon it. They should build higher and higher, and the partial stoppage of the work which had taken place should be of use to them. They should climb the ladder of Federation step by step,


  ― 95 ―
until their end was reached. Let the leaders of the movement sink self, and let them not want to take all the credit themselves, but allow others to have a share of the praise. The question had in the past been held back by the foremost politicians pushing themselves forward, thinking only of themselves and caring nothing for others. Cardinal Moran had that morning made one of the finest speeches on the subject he had ever heard, and the addresses by Mr. Barton and Mr. Reid were also valuable contributions to the cause. The Premier's speech was most diplomatic. There was an interjection during his delivery that diplomacy took time, and so it did. Federation must be brought about either by diplomacy or some sudden calamity drawing the colonies together. He therefore said, God speed to the Premier in reference to his diplomatic mission. He hoped that he would be able to bring Queensland into the union. (Loud applause.) If all the colonies would not join, he would then go in with those who would. (Applause.) Those who stood out could not complain. They would have to join the federation some day, and then they would have to come in without having previously taken part in the bill under which they would be federated. They would have to leave the fiscal question to the federation. There could be no previous stipulation on the part of New South Wales as to what the fiscal policy of that federation was to be.

Mr. Barton: That would be federation in fetters. (Laughter and applause.)

Mr. Lyne (continuing) said that he must take it for granted that the Premier was prepared to withdraw from the speeches he had previously made on the question, and agree that he would join the federation. His action now seemed to be that he would do so, allowing all questions of fiscal matters to be dealt with by the Federal Parliament. He was sorry that Queensland had not taken similar action to the other colonies, as it would be regrettable if that colony did not come in with us. Having travelled over that colony, he had a knowledge of the alien labour question. Probably there was distrust of joining the convention until it was known what was to be done in relation to that question. Speaking from a North Queensland point of view, he thought there was a fear there in connection with alien labour. He thought that there was a fear in North Queensland that if they consented to federate without some condition as to alien labour their interests might be affected. He mentioned this to show that it was not all plain sailing in that direction, and he hoped the Premier would take this matter into consideration. Were Queensland separated, he thought there would be no hesitancy on the part of the southerners to join in the federation, but even Northern Queensland ought to make up its mind on the question and resolve at once to join the union. (Hear, hear.) On the question of State rights he did not intend to speak at length. He thought they ought to define what the Senate should deal with, and leave the States to deal with what was not so


  ― 96 ―
defined. (Applause.) On the matter of railways he thought it would be sufficient to hand over only the trunk lines to the Federation. The whole of the Australian debts, and probably also the whole of the Australian assets, would in time be taken over by the Federation. On the question of a republic he agreed with the Premier that we must for a long time yet remain under the English flag. (Applause.) He also believed with the Cardinal that we were already really the freest republic in the world. (Cheers.) In building up our Constitution we ought to follow a scheme we were well acquainted with. He referred to the necessity of not being led away to have only one House of Parliament. We required a second Chamber. Such a Chamber only stayed hasty legislation for a while, and did not permanently prevent legislation. He did not desire to see a scheme adopted which would lead us into trouble in the future. He had pinned his faith to the federation of the colonies. (Cheers.) Let them at any rate do away with the barriers between the Australian colonies. (Applause.) Let them carry their banners high and fight hard, and there need be no fear for a successful result. Let their leaders in political and social life advocate the cause, and then the people would obtain what they sought at an early date. (Loud applause.)

no previous
no next