1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DEAKIN laid on the table the following papers : -
Report of Commissioner appointed to inquire into the foreign labour contract question in Western Australia.
Ordered to be printed.
Correspondence with the Premier of New South Wales with regard to the Federal Electoral Bill.
– There seems to be a general desire on the part of honorable members to know what work remains to be done before the close of the session. I understood from the information previously supplied to us, that no new business except the Estimates was to be introduced, and that the. Judiciary Bill and High Court Procedure Bill were not to be pressed this session. It is desirable that we should have some definite idea as to what remains to be done in order that we may make our arrangements for some little time ahead. We recognise, of course, that the business will depend to some extent upon the work done in another Chamber, but, independently of that, I should like the Acting Prime Minister to giveus some assurance regarding the actual work that is expected of us.
– I shall be very glad to endeavour to make an authoritative statement after the next Cabinet meeting. So far as I know no measure of importance except those in the business-paper can be proceeded with during this session, but there are one or two purely mechanical measures of a few clauses, chiefly relating to the Treasurer’s Budget, with which we shall ask honorable members to deal.
– We shall not be asked to consider the Judiciary Bill?
– I have had honorable members canvassed twice witha view to ascertain their feeling, and on both occasions have received the assurance that they are not prepared to pass the Judiciary Bill at all, or without very prolonged debate. I shall deeply regret having to consent to the postponement of that measure, but, unfortunately, it may be necessary. I shall make an authoritative statement after the next Cabinet meeting. The Loan Bill is one of the measures that will depend upon the Budget, and it is impossible just now to say whether this and one or two other measures will be proceeded with.
– I desire to know whether it will be possible for the Treasurer to deliver his Budget speech early next month, instead of holding it over until October?
– I do not know where the honorable member got the idea that I intended to defer the delivery of the Budget until October.
– The statement was made in the press.
– Then it is incorrect. The Budget statement will be made as soon as possible - I hope not later than the middle of September.
– Weought to get rid of a few of the civil servants if they are incapable of preparing the Estimates of three departments before that time.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs when the further action promised in connexion with the selection of the site of the federal capital will be taken. I desire also to know whether his attention has been given to the fact that the considerable expenditure incurred in connexion with the visits of inspection to the proposed sites by honorable members may prove futile if the selection of the site is not made by this Parliament ?
– The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the Cabinet, or the one following. I quite recognise that unless further action is taken, and a further report is obtained during recess, so that the site may be selected by this Parliament, a groat dealof money already expended will have been wasted.
– I desire to know whether the Acting Minister for Defence is prepared to lay on the table the report furnished to him with reference to the appointment of ten additional drill instructors for the military forces of South Australia ?
– I think I have the report with me, and I shall lay it upon the table a little later on.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Acting Minister for Defence to a telegram from Adelaide which appeared in to-day’s newspapers, andwhich reads as follows : -
The local military forces expected that under federation their pay would be increased so as to bring it up to that in the other States ; but instead, ageneral order just issuedannounces that “ special pay “ will be stopped. Hitherto the men received special pay for guards of honour and other special duties, the buglers and band men for practising, and non-coms. for giving instructions outside their own company, and officers for various duties. Under the new regulationsa captain who subscribes to the military club will be about 10s. better off than a private, anda lieutenant will be £1 worse.
I wish also to direct his attention to the scale of pay of officers and men of the South Australian forces which, I understand, is by this regulation reduced by one-third. A private in the South Australian defence forces receives £5 per annum as against £7 10s. paid to privates in the Victorian defence force. A corporal receives £5 5s., as against £10 in Victoria, a sergeant £5 10s. comparedwith £11 5s., a lieutenant £6 against £15, a captain £7 10s. as against £22 10s., a major £10 contrasted with £30, and a lieutenant-colonel £15. I have not been able to ascertain the Victorian rate of pay for the last-mentioned grade of officer. The horse allowance in South Australia is £4 per annum, whereas in Victoria it is understood to be £30 per annum. In view of these facts, Iask the Minister whether he considers it fair to reduce the rate of pay of the South Australian forces by one-third.
-It is rather unfair to expect me to answer without notice a question such as the honorable member has submitted. I presume that the present rates of pay in South Australia are the same as prevailed before the defence forces were taken over by the Commonwealth Government. The rates paid in South Australia were lower than those in force in either Victoria or New South Wales; and I think also below those paid in Queensland. If the honorable member will give notice of his question as to the regulation, I shall be glad to furnish him with an answer as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister quite unaware of the fact that the pay for special duties hitherto given to the military forces of South Australia by the State Government, has been disallowed by the Commonwealth authorities?
– I presume that the honorable member’s question refers to the regulation mentioned by the honorable member for South Australia (Mr. Poynton). I cannot be expected to keep every detail in my mind.
– This is hardly a detail.
– I think it is, considering the thousands of questions and the number of regulations which are placed before me. I will give the honorable member the information desired as soon as possible.
– Can the Treasurer inform us whether, when military officers are transferred from one State to another - as in the case of the drill instructors recently appointed for the South Australian military forces - the expenditure involved is treated as new expenditure, or is debited to the State to which the officers are sent ?
– That matter has not been brought under my notice for decision, but if the honorable member gives notice of his question I shall have it looked into.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister if the Government are prepared to be guided by Judge Dashwood’s report on the pearl-shelling industry, and if the exemption’s already granted with regard to the employment of coloured crews and divers will be made permanent, so that an industry which now yields £25,000 per annum to the State revenue may be preserved?
– Although I have found time to read the report of Judge Dashwood, I have not been able to look at the evidence on which it is based. Several of my colleagues are in the same position. When the members of the Ministry have had an opportunity of considering the reports of Judge Dashwood and Mr. Warton, and the evidence upon which they are based, I shall be prepared to make a statement to the House.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a statement which appeared in the Argus a few days ago regarding the report of Judge Dashwood, and is it the intention of the Government to issue any more permits?
– The statement made in the Argus had reference to the concessions granted by the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, when the whole matter of the pearl-shelling industry was referred to Judge Dashwood and to Mr. Warton. An exemption was given for three months, and this expired about six weeks ago. Since then those exemptions have not been granted, nor is it proposed to grant more.
– I desire to ask whether the Minister for Trade and Customs proposes to charge duty upon Australian wheat exported and afterwards re-introduced into the Commonwealth ?
– There is a provision in the Customs Act which permits Australian produce to be re-introduced free of duty, subject to two conditions. I think these are, first, thatan export entry shall have been passed, and second, that the produce shall be re-introduced within two years of the date of export.
– I wish to ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether his attention has been directed to the following statement which appeared in to-day’s Age . -
The work of creating new billets for military men under the Commonwealth Government must have been going forward at a merry pace during the past few months. There are already more than 300 officers - commissioned and noncommissioned - on the salaries and wages list.
– I did read that statement, and I was very much surprised that an article containing so many inaccuracies should have been published in the Age. The statement that the work of creating new billets has been going forward at a merry pace in the Defence department is entirely incorrect. There have been no new billets created in the sense that the number of permanently employed officers and noncommissioned officers has been increased beyond the number existing at the time the departments were taken over by the Commonwealth. The contrary is the fact. Instead of the permanent appointments being increased, they are being considerably decreased. The number of commissioned officers, even when the General and his staff are included, will . be at least 1 5 less than the number which existed last year. With the retirements now made it is actually 31 less at the present moment. The number of warrant officers - instructors - will be 48 less. The total numberof permanently employed commissioned officers provided for last year was 132, and of warrant officers, permanent instructors, 253. The numbers being provided for this year are - officers 117, instructors 205. There are sixteen vacancies at present, and some of these may be filled and some may not. In the naval forces the officers have also been reduced in number, the services of seven permanently employed officers having been terminated.
– I wish to know if the Acting Prime Minister can inform us whether any correspondence has passed between the Federal Government and the Imperial Government relative to the petition to the Throne from certain kanakas in Queensland, and, if so, whether he has any objection to lay the correspondence upon the table?
– I do not remember any correspondence. The only reference I have seen to the petition was contained in a cablegram published in the press last week. I shall, however, assure myself on the point to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has obtained copies of the correspondence which has passed between the New South Wales Government and the Secretary of State for the Colonies with regard to the occupation of Government-house, Sydney, by His Excellency the Governor-General.
– Yes. I will hand it to the honorable member presently.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state -
The return will be tabled within the next few days.
asked the Acting Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I beg to state -
In addition to the foregoing, there are seven permanently employed sergeants-major returning from South Africa. By not filling vacancies, however, the total establishment of warrant and non-commissioned will be cut down to 205.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In how many of the States does a similar law operate ?
– In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. There is a somewhat similar Act in force in Canada, and the same end is attained - though by different means - in the mother country. There is no lack of. precedents in this connexion. Every line of the measure is well buttressed by them, as can be shown upon further investigation.
– I suppose there is no desire to proceed with this measure immediately?
– Not if honorable members do not wish it.
– I see no reason for delay if the Attorney-General desires to proceed with the Bill. There are one or two small matters to which attention might be drawn in committee, but it is scarcely worth while delaying the second reading of the Bill to point them out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Whenever the Governor-General, by letters patent under the great seal of the Commonwealth, issues a commission to any persons to make any inquiry, the president or chairman of the commission, or the sole commissioner, as the case may be, may, by writing under his hand, summon any person to attend the commission at a time and place named in the summons, and then and there to give evidence, and to produce any books, documents, or writings in his custody or control material to the subject matter of the inquiry.
– This clause does not apply to the Royal commission which is already in existence. If it were wanted in that connexion, it appears to me it would be necessary to constitute the commission afresh by the issue of letters patent. The provisions of the clause as drafted clearly have reference to the future, and cannot possibly be deemed to be retrospective.
– I confess that the point raised by the honorable and learned member is open to some doubt. However, as I did not see the necessity for the provision applying to the commission already in existence, I allowed the clause to stand in its present form.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Any of the commissioners may administer a n oa th to any person appealing as a wit- n ess before the commission, whether the witness has been summoned, or appears without being summoned, and may examine the witness upon oath.
– In some of the States the commissioners do not examine witnesses upon oath.
– Provision is made in the next clause for allowing a witness to make an affirmation in lieu of taking an oath.
– I do not understand the necessity for examining a witness upon oath. Of course the penalties attaching to perjury are equally applicable to any false declaration. It appears to me that the practice of examining a witness upon oath is a rather peculiar one. It is not the South Australian practice.
– It is the practice in vogue in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Penalty for failing to attend or produce documents).
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I would point out that this clause provides that if any person summoned to attend the commission fails to produce any documents or writings in his custody or control, which he was required by the summons to produce, he is liable to a penalty of £50. No provision is made by means of which a witness can claim privilege. This proposal really goes further than does either the common law procedure or the States Acts, which preserve to witnesses the right to refuse to produce documents which are privileged.
– Does not paragraph 2 of clause 7 cover that ?
– Perhaps it does.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
– It is somewhat doubtful whether the word “ protection” does cover the question of privilege to which I have previously alluded.
– Look at the words “ reasonable excuse” which are contained in clause 5.Surely anything that constitutes “ privilege” is a “ reasonable excuse.”
– Perhaps those words have the effect indicated.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
In Committee :
– I move -
That an expenditure upon Government-houses of £5,500 a year, and upon the Federal Executive Council of £1,925 a year, as submitted in the statement ordered to be printed on the 7th inst., is approved.
– I did not understand that we had gone into committee upon this motion.
– We carried a motion to that effect the other night.
– I do not remember any such motion having been moved, although I understood that we were to deal with this matter in committee.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the House has already determined that this committee shall consider to-day the motion before it.
– I really do not remember any such motion being submitted. I wished to raise a question of order, and I did not desire to take that course of action in committee.
– I would point out that on Thursday, the 21st instant, the following resolution, which was proposed by the Attorney-General, was agreed to : -
That the House onTuesday resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider the following motion : - “That an expenditure upon Governmenthouse of £5,500 a year, and upon the Federal Executive Council of £1,925 a year, as submitted in the statement ordered to be’ printed on the 7th instant, is approved.”
– I was under the impression that before the House went into committee the motion would have to be moved - “ That the Speaker do now leave the chair.”
– Not under our standing orders.
– That is the procedure to which I have always been accustomed. The point of order which I desire to raise is one of sufficient importance to warrant its determination by Mr. Speaker;
Now, however, that object cannot be achieved unless I move that the committee dissent from the ruling of the Chairman, and request him to refer the point at issue to Mr. Speaker. I think that the AttorneyGeneral will realize that the matter to which I intend to refer is one which should be dealt with in the House. Standing Order 125 reads : - ‘
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative.
I maintain that upon the 30th of April last a Bill was introduced to. this House, in which substantially the same question as that under discussion was involved. That Bill provided that there should be granted to the Governor-General the sum of £8,000 annually for the upkeep of his establishment. The motion which is now under discussion contemplates making a similar provision, though the amount has been reduced to £5,500. When clause 2 of the Bill in question was under consideration upon the 2nd of May, an amendment was proposed - “ That all the words after ‘establishment 1 be omitted.” The words which it was proposed to omit had reference to making an annual allowance of £8,000 to the Governor-General for the upkeep of the vice-regal establishment, and the question then put from the Chair was - “That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.” The committee decided that they should not stand part of the question and inserted in lieu of them a provision that £10,000 should be granted to the Governor-General to cover the extraordinary expenditure which he had incurred in connexion with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. The committee distinctly refused to vote an annual sum of £8,000 for the upkeep of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment. I maintain that the motion now before the Chair is substantially the- same proposal that was contained in the Bill which was considered in the month of May last. On page 264 of the tenth edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice, 1 find it stated -
Nor can a motion be brought forward which is the same, in substance, as a question which, during the current session, has been decided in the affirmative or negative.
There have ‘ been cases in which attempts have been made to evade this rule by the alteration of the wording of a motion, but it has been repeatedly ruled in the House of Commons that a mere alteration of the wording of” a motion cannot be permitted to enable it t;o evade the rule. Those decisions are referred to in May on page 288, where it is stated that -
A mere alteration of the words of a question without any substantial change in its object will not be sufficient to evade this rule. On the 7th July, 1840, Mr. Speaker called attention to a motion for a Bill to relieve dissenters from the payment of church rates, before he proposed the question from the Chair. Its form and words were different from those of a previous motion, hut the object was substantially the same ; and the House agreed that it was irregular, and ought not to be proposed from the Chair. Again, on the 16th Ma3’, I860, the order for the second reading of the Charity Trustees Bill was withdrawn, ns it was discovered to be substantially the same sis the Endowed Schools Bill, which the House had already put off for six months. So, also, on the 17th May, 1870, a motion for an address in favour of emigration was not allowed to be made, being substantially the same as a resolution which had been negatived in the same session. On the 0th May, .1882, it was ruled by Mr. Speaker that a motion affirming the necessity of legislation to enable members duly elected to take their seats was inadmissible, as an amendment to the same effect, but in different words, had been negatived on the 7th March.
If the practice of allowing questions which have been settled by the House to be brought up for discussion again in the same* session were allowed, it would produce endless confusion and trouble ; ana we might have two or three contradictory resolutions on the same question. On page 289 of May there appears this very emphatic statement -
Nor can a proposal contained in an amendment which lias been practically negatived by a decision of the House, whereby it was determined that the words of the original motion, on which that amendment was moved, shall “stand part of the question,” be again submitted to the House during the same session.
I have raised this point of order quite apart from the merits of the proposal before us, because I think that the procedure which I wish to prevent is a bad one. The point is sustained by Bourinot and by Todd, though, no doubt, both writers availed themselves largely of the precedents to be found in May. It seems to me that the object of the motion before us is practically the same as that of the Governor-General’s. Establishment Bill. It may be argued that, inasmuch as the motion also makes provision for the expenditure of £1,925 in connexion with the executive, the question is a different one ; but I would point out that the House in dealing with the Estimates has already determined upon that expenditure.
– Not for this year.
– In any case, I maintain that it would be to trifle with the question to argue that, because a slight addition has been added to- the motion, it is therefore substantially a different motion. If that contention were allowed, the parliamentary rule to which May refers could be evaded in every case by merely tacking on to a motion some paltry addition.
– I admit that.
– It may be argued, too, that the Governor-General’s Establishment Bill was a measure for the appropriation of money, whereas what we are now considering is merely a bald motion which may or may not have effect.
– I shall not take that point.
– I maintain that the motion before us deals with substantially the same question as was dealt with during the consideration of the Governor-General’s Establishment Bill, and that it therefore is out of order.
– I do not take any exception to the doctrine which the honorable “.member has laid down, nor to the authorities whom he has cited in support of it ; my whole point is that neither it nor they have any reference to the case before us. When the measure providing for the appropriation of £8,000 a year for the Governor-General’s establish- * ment was submitted it was pointed out that about one-half of the sum would be spent upon entertainments, and that of the balance, part would be expended in defraying the salaries of His Excellency’s staff, and another part in paying for fuel, lighting, and other et ceteras connected with the upkeep of the Government-houses ; but the whole amount was in addition to the sum which appeared on the Estimates for the ordinary upkeep of the Government-houses, the items of which were carefully detailed. The vote then proposed was for purposes quite different from those which the sum now proposed is intended to cover. There was on the Estimates a larger sum than that now submitted to meet the various requirements of the Governor-General’s household, but those requirements were quite different from those which were to be covered by the £8,000. None of them have been revived. The Government are not submitting any proposal to cover expenditure for entertainments, salaries of staff, fuel, or any of the charges which were to be covered by the £8,000. The honorable member is a careful custodian of the rights of the House, but he has overlooked that point. If he had referred to the speech made by the Prime Minister i& introducing the Governor-General’s Establishment Bill, he would have seen that the objection which he has raised, although a good one under other circumstances, does not apply in this case.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member for Kennedy, and to consider the remarks of the Attorney-General altogether beside the question. The point we have to deal with is whether the motion now before us is sub- stantially the same question as that submitted to us on a former occasion. If reference is made to the Governor-General’s Establishment Bill, it will be seen that it is entitled - “A Bill to make provision for the Governor-General’s establishment,” while this is a motion to provide an allowance for the upkeep of the Government-houses. If it can be shown that there is a distinction between the one and the other, the Attorney-General’s contention is a good one, but, unless the distinction can be made, the point raised by the honorable member for Kennedy must be upheld. If it is permissible for us to reopen this question on the plea that some of the details connected with it were not considered on a former occasion, it is competent for us to re-open the consideration of the electoral measure which we have just disposed of, and, if we like, to resurrect every other political question with which we have dealt during the session. I maintain that the question now before the committee has, in substance, been discussed and dealt with in this chamber during the present session.
– While I accept the exposition of the honorable member for Kennedy of the practice of Parliament, I hold that that practice is not applicable to the case under discussion. If Parliament has agreed to give the GovernorGeneral a carriage - which we may take to represent the salary of £10,000 provided for in the Constitution - and a greyhound - which we may take to represent the £13,000 set down on the Estimates - but has refused to give him a yacht - which we may take to represent the special allowance of £8,000 a year which we declined to grant - I think it is straining the application of the parliamentary rule to say that the motion now before us deals substantially with a question which we have already considered. The £8,000 which it was proposed the other day to give the Governor-General was to be given him for entirely different purposes - of which the House was cognisant - from those for which an amount was set down in the Estimates. There have been three distinct payments to the Governor-General proposed. No doubt in the long run they would all have the effect of relieving his purse, but that is not the point. The point is that they are distinct. Without going into the merits of the proposal now before us, I may say I am going to vote against some of the items, but I submit that the motion is in order.
– I was unfortunately absent during the last debate, but as I understand the position it is this : The Government proposed the granting of £8,000 a year to the Governor-General in addition to the salary of £10,000 a year provided for by the Constitution, while in the Estimates a further sum was provided for the up-keep of the Government-houses in Sydney and Melbourne, and to cover other expenses. The House rejected the proposal to grant an extra £8,000 a year, and substituted for it the grant of a specific sum to defray the expenses of His Excellency during the visit to Australia of the Prince and Princess of Wales. We are now asked to consider the advisability of granting money to cover expenses which were not provided for by the proposed grant of £8,000. Unfortunately there has been a great deal of misunderstanding as to the real intentions of the Government in this matter. The Estimates were placed upon the table, and the Treasurer had circulated an explanatory statement showing how the various items were made up. But when the matter came to be dealt with, so much time had elapsed since the laying on the table of the explanatory statement that honorable members had forgotten all about it, and therefore there was a great deal of misunderstanding. To my mind, whatever decision we may arrive at with regard to the motion it is not intended to cover any of the expenditure which the £8,000 was to cover, and therefore I think it is not out of order.
– This is a resolution to justify expenditure, not for the present year only, but for successive years. A proposal of that kind should be contained in a Bill.
– I will make an explanation on that point when I deal with the motion itself.
– As the Constitution provides that the Governor-General’s salary shall not be altered during his tenure of office, the Government could not propose an addition to that salary. Therefore the £8,000 a year which they proposed to give him was a grant by way of allowance. What they are proposing now is a similar grant by way of allowance, although the amount, instead of being £8,000, is £5,500.
– But the purposes are altogether different.
– That is not the point. Whatever the expenditure is to cover, it must be expenditure by way of allowance. The proposed grant of £8,000 would have been unconstitutional if it had been proposed as an addition to the GovernorGeneral’s salary, and was, therefore, also a grant by way of allowance. Are we being asked to pass this resolution in order to enable the Government to introduce a Bill ? I should like to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether he proposes to follow up this resolution by the introduction of a Bill founded upon it?
– I shall explain that when I speak.
– I have no desire to instruct the honorable gentleman, but I point out that, if he does not, he will still be proposing the passing of an Estimate for more than one year, and that is unconstitutional. Our Estimates generally are Estimates for the current year, and they are variable from year to year. I say, therefore, that this is not a regular authority to put a certain amount upon the Estimates, but is rather a direction from the House to the Government to introduce a Bill. I do not care which view is taken. If the motion is proposed as a direction to put a certain amount per annum upon the Estimates, it is wrong; and if it is proposed to authorize the introduction of a Bill, it will certainly be dealing with a matter which has already been considered by the House. I think there is far more reason in the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy than some honorable members opposite are prepared to admit.
– The figures proposed in this resolution are so extremely reasonable that I should have been only too willing, under other circumstances, to support it ; but, however anxious I might have been to support it, I am afraid that the point of order raised by the honorable member for Kennedy is a sound one. There can, I think, be no question that a decision has already been arrived at by this House upon this question, though that decision did not meet with my entire approval. Are we to go back upon the sound parliamentary rule, and permit this matter to be discussed again ? I think that a Bill would require to be introduced to give effect to this resolution.
– That question may be raised later on ; but it is not at present before the Chair.
– Unless I hear some statement from the Acting Prime Minister which will relieve my doubts, I shall feel compelled to support the honorable member for Kennedy in the point of order he has raised. The Government might advance the ground that these buildings for the time being are Federal property, but thesame objection would arise then, so far as the Parliament is concerned, as we might prefer to allow them to fall into disrepair.
– It seems to me that the Acting Prime Minister is, in the language of the turf, ringing the changes on us. There can be no question that, in substance and in reality, this is the same little bit of business that was before this House on a previous occasion, when the proposal to grant allowances amounting to £8,000 a year was made. The honorable and learned member for Corinella drew a fine distinction. He told us that the £8,000 had nothing whatever to do with this. But was the £5,500 a year in the rear waiting in case the Government were outvoted on the proposal to grant £8,000? It seems to me like starting one crook and a real racer in the same race. This is the dark horse, and he has been kept waiting until a convenient opportunity to trot him out. Is it not all a question of allowances ? In my opinion it certainly is. This recalls to my mind a passage from the Scriptures wherein it is stated that a certain king, with the advice of his inexperienced counsellors, said to his people - “ My father has laid upon you a heavy yoke, and I will add to your burdens.” That is precisely what is being done with us to-day. I support the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy.
– The honorable member for Kennedy in raising the point of order has referred me to Standing Order 125, which says -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative.
I have given the matter consideration, and, in my opinion, there is a sufficient difference between the motion now before the committee and the Bill previously discussed in this House to enable me to rule the present motion in order.
– I do not intend to move that the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from, for the reason that the motion means nothing. If there were anything in it, and if it meant the appropriation of money, I should take further action.
– It is a pulse-feeler.
– That is all. It is a proposal to feel the pulse of the committee. As it stands at present there is nothing in the resolution, even if it be carried, and I shall, therefore, take no further action at the present time.
– I do not wish to take advantage of the honorable member’s statement in any way, but I can assure him that this resolution means a great deal. Though it does not in itself authorize the payment of a single shilling, if carried in this form it would express a deliberate judgment of the committee with a view to that being conveyed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, so that the future GovernorGeneral of Australia will know exactly what sum this Parliament or future Parliaments of the Commonwealth will provide for him.
– Not future Parliaments.
– I suppose that the honorable gentleman means that it will impose an honorable obligation.
– It is perfectly true that the carrying of the resolution will not impose a legal obligation even upon this Parliament, but it certainly will impose an honorable obligation upon this Parliament, and one which I am perfectly certain future Parliaments would also consider binding.
– That is during the term of office of the next Governor-General.
– Exactly. The reason why I do not make this resolution the foundation of a Bill at the present time, is becausethere has been very great difficulty, indeed, in arriving at a correct estimate as to what the expense under these several heads will be. None of this money will be paid to the Governor-General. It will be paid for the upkeep of Government-houses which are not absolutely our own freehold property to deal with as we please, but which have been handed over to us by the great generosity of the States. We are therefore under an obligation to maintain them with the same appliances and furniture, and in the order and condition in which they were when the State Governments entrusted them to us. We have arrived at the lowest possible estimate of cost, but it will require at least a year’s experience before we should commit ourselves to a statement of this sum in a Bill which would become an Act, and which would then bind us until it was repealed. This resolution indicates the intention of the Government to submit this sum upon the Estimates in the hope that after twelve months’ experience of the control of the Government-houses it will be found to be sufficient. They have, until recently, been under the management of the Public Works, or other departments of the States, but have now been taken over by the Department of Home Affairs, under a most capable officer (Major Miller), who has had previous experience in dealing with the establishment of a State Governor. Under the circumstances, he has thought it necessary to have 12 months’ practical experience before he binds himself to this sum as being adequate. There is every reason to suppose that it will be found adequate; because, although some of the items may fall short of the required expenditure, a lesser amount required in connexion with other items may be found to balance the amount.
– Who proposes that this sum should be asked for twelve months?
- Major Miller advises that, without twelve months’ experience, he would not like to commit himself absolutely to these figures.
– Do the Government propose to alter this every twelve months?
– No, they propose to submit this sum on the Estimates for this year. At the end of this year they or their successors will, no doubt, think it desirable to include a fixed sum in a Bill.
– The honorable gentleman brings this forward in order that he may be able to acquaint the Secretary of State.
– In the meantime a Governor-General is appointed, and the question of his allowances again crops up.
– The honorable member is too previous, as the Americans say. Unquestionably, if we carry this, then, during the term of office of the next Governor-General, the amount paid to him during his term of office cannot be less. his House may choose, upon further considering the matter, to slightly increase the amount here proposed.
– If experience shows that more will be required we shall have to provide more?
– No. But I think Parliament would be likely to do so. We will be under an obligation to place the matter before the House in the form of a Bill, in order that we may fix, once and for all, a limit to the expense to be incurred by the Commonwealth in the maintenance of the Government-houses occupied by the GovernorGeneral, in order that during the term of any given Governor-General no discussion shall take place regarding the amount to be paid on his account. During his term of office, of course, it will be always possible to reconsider the question as affecting the next Governor-General. But during the term of office of a Governor-General, who accepts thepositionupon a certain given statement, the amount can not be reduced. I have every reason tohope that the amount here proposed will not require to be increased. At the same time, it has been felt that it is only fair, in view of the difficulties with which this question has been surrounded, and in view of the warning I have received from the officer who will be chargedwith the control of the expenditure to ask that we should be given twelve months’ experience before we absolutely pledge ourselves to these figures.
– Where will the Government get the money required to pay railway fares ?
– I shall deal with that in a moment. I hope that honorable members have grasped the position, that this proposal requires none of the extraordinary expenditure in connexion with the Governor-General, which was proposed to be made by a special grant from this House of £8,000 a year. That extraordinary expenditure has been abolished once and for all, and this proposal is only to cover the expenses of the upkeep of the Government-houses which have appeared on the Estimates already for last year, which will appear for this year, and on the Estimates in each succeeding year. The total cost to the Commonwealth is to be fixed after this year’s experience, if not once and for all, at least for each term of office of a Governor-General, and, at all events, for the term of office of any GovernorGeneral who may accept the position on the given statement. Honorable members will see that this proposal is brought before the House to enable a new appointment of a Governor-General to be made without any possibility of a misunderstanding on his part as regards future expenses.
– It binds the House to future Estimates.
– It binds the House to provide a certain sum for a certain time. If the honorable and learned member can find any objection to that, I shall be glad to hear him on the point.
– Why not go through the whole of the Estimates in the same way ?
– Because the general Estimates relate to people whose rights are safeguarded, so far as we are concerned, by a Public Service Act. That can be dealt with under the provisions of the Act. The Governor-General, however,- can be provided for only in this way. He is the head of the State, and it would be unfair to refuse to give to him the same guarantee that we extend to all the members of our public service.
– What right have we to pay this money at all ?
– That is another question that will be discussed at the proper time. We should be .acting unjustly if we refused to extend to the Governor-General the same treatment that is accorded to every officer under the Public Service Act.
– Is he employed. by us “
– No ; but it is now sought to place him in the same position of security as is every public servant. Those who object to our present proposal are entitled to do so, but they must confess that they would be establishing a precedent entirely new in Australia.
– No ; this is the new precedent.
– The honorable member would have done credit to the profession to which I belong ; but he has exhausted his subtleties unavailingly in this case. .1 would remind him that in every State provision is made for items exactly similar to those now before honorable members, and the sums of money voted to cover them amount year by year in the States of New South Wales and Victoria to a greater sum for each of the States Governors than is now asked on behalf of the Governor-General of the whole of Australia. A larger amount is set apart in Canada - partly by special appropriation - and a larger amount is provided in two of the States of Australia, whilst an almost equal amount is appropriated in one or two of the other States. The amount for which we are asking represents, in my opinion, the bed-rock of economy. It provides simply for the cost of the upkeep of the residences of the Governor-General, the offices and their necessary appurtenances connected with the discharge of his duties. I hope that when we come to consider, as we shall do very shortly, the various items included in the Estimates, honorable members will closely scrutinize them. I challenge them, however, to find any serious fault on the score of want of economy or simplicity.
– I should agree with the Minister if the provision for the second Governmenthouse were struck, out.
– I would remind the honorable and learned member that both in New South Wales and Victoria a second Government-house is provided for the State Governor. In South Australia, also, as the honorable and learned member must be aware, a large sum of money has been expended in providing a country residence for the State Governor. In our proposals there is no mention of a country house for the Governor-General, and if we give His Excellency a second establishment, we shall provide for nothing more than is already enjoyed by the Governors of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.
An Honorable Member. - It is purely an accident that the second residence should be situated in Sydney.
– No ; it is not an accident at all ; it is intentional.
– Has the Minister copies of the correspondence with reference to the occupancy of the Government-house, Sydney, by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral?
– Unfortunately I have only two copies.’ The choice of Sydney Government-house as a residence for His Excellency the Governor-General dates back to a period prior to the birth of the Commonwealth. As some honorable members appeared to suppose that there was a mystery in connexion with the negotiations which led up to that, I asked and obtained from the New South Wales’ Government the papers relating to the case. These I have now laid upon the table for the perusal of honorable members. At a very early period the Government of New South Wales were naturally concerned to see that at the birth of the Commonwealth the importance of New South Wales and of its metropolis, Sydney, were recognised. It was generally admitted throughout the Commonwealth that in view of the peculiar circumstances in regard to Sydney, and of the disability imposed by the terms of the Constitution upon that bright and beautiful city, its prominence and importance should be recognised by holding the inaugural celebration of the Commonwealth there. The celebration took place at Sydney, and was distinguished by a regal magnificence which will live in the memories of all who witnessed it. The action of the State of New South Wales was most generous, and no nation ever had its existence more fittingly inaugurated than did this Commonwealth on the 1st of January, 1901. Honorable members must recollect that on the very first day in the history of the Commonwealth we found the GovernorGeneral in occupation of Government-house, Sydney.
– Yes, and it cost the New South Wales Government £20,000 to fit it up for him.
– The letters and telegrams exchanged between the Premier of New South Wales, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, are now before honorable members. These show a legitimate desire on the part of New South
Wales, when it undertook the burden of conducting the celebrations at the birth of the Commonwealth, to be allowed to make provision for the residence of His Excellency the Governor-General in Sydney.
– That was “bossed” by Sir William Lyne.
– Yes, and very well, too. As I have stated, the GovernorGeneral was in occupation of the Governmenthouse at Sydney at the time that the Commonwealth was inaugurated, and nothing was more natural than that the Government of New South Wales should invite him to stay in Sydney for at least a part of the time during which he was not detained in Melbourne by his parliamentary duties. That was a perfectly legitimate aspiration, one that is shared by every capital city in the Union, which ought to be gratified in every possible way. The only distinction between Sydney and Melbourne and other capitals lies in the fact that they are the two great centres of population, influence, commerce, and wealth of this Commonwealth. These two great cities are so much larger than any others within the Commonwealth that it is but natural that the Governor-General should be expected, in order to make the acquaintance of the people, to spend a longer time in these centres than in remote districts. The great metropolis, Sydney, no longer belongs to New South Wales, except in a narrow and restricted sense, but it constitutes the centre of a great part of this Commonwealth. It is an Australian city of which Australia is proud. The recognition of its importance is not due to the fact that it happens to be the great centre of a wealthy and enterprising State, but to the circumstance that it is one of the vital centres of the Commonwealth. We can no more ignore Sydney as a great power and population because of State sub-divisions, than we could ignore a large and important city within a State because of municipal subdivisions. It appears to be abundantly easy, without taking into account the many charms which that metropolitan city can claim to possess, to justify the choice of Sydney as a place of residence of the Governor-General. No country house will be provided for His Excellency the Governor - General, but it is inevitable that he should visit Sydney, and spend a good deal of time there. It is desirable therefore, that he should be, so to speak, the master of his own house when he is there. As a matter of fact, of course, his residence in Sydney will not be his own house, because it is lent to us by the State Government rent free. We pay nothing but the bare cost of maintaining it. The State of New South Wales, like that of Victoria! has to pay rent for the residence set apart for its own Governor, in order that it may be enabled to extend this liberal concession to the Commonwealth. Not only is it not gracious to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I think we should show the highest appreciation of the generosity of the States of New South Wales and Victoria in placing their magnificent buildings at our disposal free of rent. In Victoria we pay nothing but the bare cost of the upkeep of that all too large Governmenthouse on the banks of the Yarra, and we are also occupying Parliament-house on the same singularly favorable terms. In Sydney we stand in just the same relation with regard to Government-house, and we must not forget that we owe all these advantages to the generosity of the States.
– Would the Government accept the use of other State Governmenthouses upon the same terms 1
– That is not a practical question. For a considerable period of the year the Governor-General will be tied to Melbourne, because Parliament will be sitting there, and during the recess he will necessarily have to pay a visit to New South Wales, which, on account of -its large population and importance, is entitled to some share of his attention. After this has been done, His Excellency will have very little time left in which to visit more than one other State in turn during the recess. He can fairly expect to occupy for a considerable time the Governmenthouses in Sydney and Melbourne, whereas he would need to use other Governmenthouses at irregular intervals only. There is a difference between maintaining residences in which His Excellency will assuredly spend a certain portion of his time every year, and keeping up residences in which he would live only occasionally. It is part of the duty of the Commonwealth to provide for the accommodation of His Excellency in any State in which he may live. The matter of providing the GovernorGeneral, with a residence in Sydney resolves itself into a question of voting about £2,000. The papers which I have laid upon the table, and which have been before another place for two months, explain the exact position. They show that, on 18th June last year, the Prime Minister wrote to the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, and in each case asked them to consider the question of the occupancy of the State Government-house by His Excellency the Governor-General. It was stated that it would probably be necessary to arrange for the occupation of these residences for a term of three or five years. On 8th August the Premier of Victoria replied that the Government were prepared to allow Governmenthouse, Melbourne, to be occupied by the Governor-General for either three or five years, free of cost to the Federal Government, subject to the conditions already mentioned, and upon an undertaking being given that the buildings, offices, and grounds should be handed over in the same order and condition as at the commencement of the tenancy. After some delay, the Premier of New South Wales placed the Government-house in Sydney at the disposal of His Excellency the Governor-General on precisely the same terms as those mentioned by the Premier of Victoria in regard to Government-house, Melbourne. Now .we have possession of both Government-houses, and are enabled to point in these letters which constitute . an agreement between the Commonwealth Ministry and the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria up to the end of next year. Having regard to the extremely handsome manner in which the Commonwealth has been treated by New South Wales, and to the magnitude of the interests represented in Sydney, I trust that honorable members - even if they take an adverse view in the distant future - will concur in confirming the arrangement into which the Government have entered, and from which I hope they will not see .any necessity to withdraw until the federal capital has been established. Even then it may be necessary for the Governor-General to make occasional visits to the great cities of the Commonwealth, but until we are in a position to offer him his own residence in the future federal capital, the least we can do is to place at his disposal the two Government-houses in the two principal centres of population, which we are in a position to offer him through the courtesy and generosity of the States. I do not know that I need to labour this point. No doubt it will be suggested that economy should be exercised, but I claim that any one who peruses the paper which was ordered to be printed upon the 7th of August, will admit that in regard to the maintenance of the vice-regal establishments in Sydney and Melbourne we have pared down to the bone. If it be possible to maintain those establishments for a less sum, it will be done ; but I doubt whether it can be done. The most careful analysis of the outgoings shows that if the amounts which are now proposed do cover the expenses - and I think they will - they will allow of a very scanty margin indeed. Honorable members have only to compare those amounts with the liberal appropriations made by this House in 1901, in order to realize the great reductions which have been made. Of course, the sums specified in this motion are only in the nature of estimates, but there is no reason to suppose that they will be exceeded by more than a little, if they are exceeded at all. Taking it for granted that the question of the desirableness of maintaining a second Governmenthouse is the one to be debated, I hope honorable members will remember that after all there are considerations which have an utilitarian bearing upon it, although they may not appear to do so. The GovernorGeneral is the chief officer and representative of the Commonwealth in Australia, and it is not becoming that he should occupy an inferior position to the Governors of the States through which he passes, or in which he lives. If we insist that the chief officer of the Crown in Australia, whilst residing in Victoria or spending a portion of his time in New South Wales, shall, in discharging the duties and maintaining the dignities of his office, be confined to a much narrower expenditure than the States Governor are we shall be placing ourselves in a very invidious position indeed. Those who lessen the standing and impressiveness of the Governor-General, should remember that they are lessening the standing and impressiveness of the Commonwealth. I admit that the utmost impressiveness is consistent with extreme simplicity.
– Surely President Rooseveldt is as big a man as the GovernorGeneral of Australia.
– What amount does he receive ?
– 10,000, and no more.
– The honorable member ought to know better. According to the United States Estimates for 1901, he not only receives a salary of £10,000, but a further sum of £20,000 for office allowances.
– He does not receive a single penny for the maintenance of the White House.
– The honorable member is in error. A recent number of a very excellent American magazine, The World’s Work - a semi-scientific publication - contains an article upon the White House, and goes to show that to light it and the grounds alone costs £2,600, whilst the other expenditure upon that residence amounts to £6,000 more.
– That money is voted in connexion with certain offices.
– There are offices in the Government-houses at Sydney and Melbourne in which work is transacted, for which money is voted in the United States. In addition to the salary of £10,000 which the President of the United States receives, I find that a further sum of £10,000 is provided to cover the salaries of officers who work at White House - such officers as the Private Secretary to the President, who has two assistant private secretaries. In fact, the United States Government pays for the President’s staff.
– Is not the AttorneyGeneral speaking of the Internal department ?
– No, I am speaking of the private secretaries to the President. I have no wish, however, to compare a country containing a population of 70,000,000 with one containing only 4,000,000.
– The two cases are not analogous.
– No; but they are analogous to this extent- that though the Constitution of the United States casts far heavier duties upon its President than are imposed by our Constitution upon our Governor-General, yet in spite of the limitation of the salary of the former, it has been found necessary to provide allowances which actually include his carriage horses.
– That is the Internal department.
– The President of the United States has horses and grooms provided forhim.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral leave the decision of the question to the American Consul (Mr. Bray) ?
– I am indebted to Mr. Bray for these figures. The Appropriation Act passed by Congress last year set apart £20,000 for expenditure upon White House, and in connexion with the President.
– An additional £25,000 has to be credited to other departments.
– I do not desire to compare America with Australia, but whenever an undue expenditure is cast upon the President of the United States on account of special entertainments, Congress makes special provision for them, just as this House voted a sum to compensate the GovernorGeneral for the extraordinary outlay incurred by him in connexion with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. Of course, it is impossible to compare a nation which has developed such greatness as ha s the United States with a young community of yesterday - the Commonwealth of Australia.
– Therefore, we ought to pay less.
– I have no desire to institute any comparisons. At the same time, the United States cannot be quoted as an instance of greater economy than we are proposing to adopt if the conditions are considered. On the contrary, if all the circumstances are taken into account, it will be found that in this, as in every other respect, the United States exhibits a magnificent determination to maintain its prestige amongst the nations of the world. The question of the Governor-General’s railway travelling has been referred to by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton. In this connexion, I would say that if all the States Governors have hitherto been accorded the privilege of free railway travelling, I see no reason why that concession should be withdrawn. I decline to believe that it will be withdrawn.
– Have the Government received an assurance that they will not be charged for the Governor-General’s railway travelling ?
– If it is withdrawn, the effect will be that the Governor-General would go nowhere in Australia other than to those places to which his official duties call him. If he is charged for that portion of his, railway-travelling, the expense will be borne by the Commonwealth. There is a small sum included in the £1,000 which is set apart for official printing,&c., which would cover any slight outlay to which the Governor-General would be liable in that respect.
– Is it not a fact that the Government have already been billed for the Governor-General’s railway travelling ?
– Yes ; and when the States Governments have been informed that they must render those accounts to the Governor-General in person, and that they would be paid out of his private purse, they have withdrawn them. I have no reason to suppose that any new practice will be introduced in regard to this matter.Indeed I am confident that the same privilege which has been extended to the State Governors will also be extended to the Governor-General.
– Every visitor from England with a title receives a free pass over the railways.
– I anticipate that the Governor-General will always receive the same courtesy as has been meted out to the State Governors, and that the difficulty suggested will not arise. If it does, the Governor-General will travel nowhere but where his official duties call him, and then his expenses will be paid by the Commonwealth. But the cardinal question at issue is whether it is desirable to maintain a second Government-house in Sydney, when normal sessions of Parliament take the place of this extraordinary session, which I am informed by somebody with an historical turn of mind, surpasses in length any session, except that of the Long Parliament itself. Under the circumstances honorable members will realize that a second Government-house is no more than the status of the Governor-General of Australia demands, and no more than its people ought to provide. If they desire the position of the Commonwealth and of the chief representative of the Crown in Australia to be recognised throughout the States, they will at all events pay him the compliment of allowing him a second residence, such as many of the Governors of the States already enjoy.
– I confess that I have no fault to find with the manner in which this matter has been introduced. It is questionable whether the provision which it is sought to make for the maintenance of two Governmenthouses should be immediately embodied in a Bill, or whether we should agree to the suggestion of the Attorney-General to await the results of a year’s experience before deciding to place it within a statutory appropriation. No honorable member representing New South Wales can find fault with the kind and generous tone of the Attorney-General’s address in referring to the necessity for the upkeep of a Governmenthouse in Sydney. Indeed, this preliminary debate ought not to be necessary, because most of us agree that in connexion with the Governor-General’s position some allowances must be voted. But it is very clear from the apologetic utterance of the Attorney-General, and from a great many murmurings which we have heard during the past few weeks, that an attempt is to be made to eliminate from these Estimates the amount necessary for the upkeep of a Government-house in Sydney. In to-day’s newspapers there appears a sort of inspired paragraph, in which it is stated that a member of this House says that he intends to uproot the whole of this matter, and to go into the correspondence between the Minister for Home Affairs, when Prime Minister of New South Wales, and the Imperial Government. Of course he will be perfectly within his rights in doing that. In my opinion, the time has arrived for taking an historical retrospect of.the whole matter. I. have always deplored the fact that federation did not come about as the result of the first referendum. I believe that a great many of the difficulties which beset us now in regard to the upkeep of the Governmenthouses of Sydney and Melbourne, and the establishment here of the departmental and Parliamentary offices, would have been obviated if the people of New South Wales could have been prevailed upon to accept the Constitution Bill on the first referendum. By not doing so, and by insisting upon a Constitution which is not the complete embodiment of the views of the Convention in which the various States were represented, they for the first time in the history of this movement condescended to bargaining.
– The whole thing was a bargain.
– Very little has, in my private opinion, come of the bargaining. But whether it was right or wrong, a bargain was made, the chief compact in which was that the federal capital should be situated in the State of New South Wales, and, inferentially, that the Commonwealth Government should be carried on from there. There are provisions in the Constitution which - although we have the right, by following a certain course of procedure, and obtaining the popular approval, to amend - could not be changed without committing a dishonorable breach of the arrangements between the States. One cannot imagine the possibility of a ref erend um for dissolving the un ion , nor can we imagine a referendum for altering that provision in the Constitution which says that no territory shall be taken from a State to form another State without the consent of its people. Certain provisions of the Constitution are compacts between the States, affecting their rights qua States, which must be honourably observed, and which we cannot think would be amended. I ask honorable members now to consider the question with which we are dealing as a compact with New South Wales. There can be no doubt thatif that compact had not been made, the first Parliament would have met in New South Wales. The position of that State was recognised by the fact that the Governor-General first landed there, and that the Commonwealth was inaugurated there. In order that the GovernorGeneral might have a fitting reception, and that proper arrangements might be made for his stay there, the then Premier of the State - the Minister for Home Affairs - placed the Government-house in Sydney at his disposal.
– The State Governor gave up his residence there so that it might be done.
– Yes. I have felt, as no doubt many other honorable members have done, that this particular compact would bring about some curious results. I want honorable members, however, to understand the whole position, in order to bring them back to the true federal feeling in the matter. We have been told that federation has enlarged our powers of selfgovernment; I hope that it has enlarged our ideas of self-government. We knew directly it was decided that the first Parliament should meet in Melbourne that the Executive offices must be established there. Has there been one grumble from New South Wales because the whole administrative machinery of the Commonwealth has been directed from Melbourne? The only growl that we have heard has come from a member of another place, who objected to the furnishing of a very humble edifice in Sydney to house Commonwealth Ministers when they happened to be doing executive duty there. That unfederal spirit is deplorable. It is our duty to foster in every way the federal spirit. We are here, not merely to pass laws for the Government of the Commonwealth, but also to give life and instinct to the federal spirit. I have been glad to notice during the fifteen months for which we have been sitting, that there has been no attempt by the representatives of the larger States to do anything unfair in the interests of the smaller States. On the contrary, the most generous disposition has been shown towards the interests of Queensland and Tasmania - Western Australia, because of her Tariff arrangements, not having been so greatly concerned. In the consideration of the question now before us we are, to some extent, affected by the fact that this session is apparently interminable ; but does any one imagine that we shall ever have another like it? Is it not fair to suppose that in the future the extreme duration ofa session will be not more than six months ? Of course, the Executive Government and its officers must, during the session, be where Parliament is sitting ; but during the recess, if the spirit and, I think, the letter of the compact is carried out, Parliament should be only too glad to allow the Governor-General to reside in that State in which the future federal capital is to be. It must be remembered that this is not a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. But, in any case,theamountinvolvedisonlyabout£2,000, and if it is the desire of the people of New South Wales that the Governor-General shall reside in their State during part of the year, we ought to freely grant the money. There was a clear compact, and it has been clearly understood. The expenditure for the up-keep of the Government-houses has been reduced to, I think, as small an amount as the expenditure of the States in that direction. It must not be forgotten that the Governor of New South Wales, instead of living in the original Government-house, has removed to another residence provided by the State. While it is desirable that the site of the federal capital should be determined upon as soon as possible, a certain period must elapse even after itis determined upon, and perhaps, after Parliamenthas begun to meet there, before a residence for the Governor-General can be provided there; and as New South Wales has agreed that Parliament shall, in the meantime, sit in Melbourne, and that the whole machinery of the Commonwealth shall be managed from Melbourne, it would be contemptible to refuse to vote the paltry sum of £2,000 for the up-keep of the Government-house at the metropolis of that State, which is the most populous, and, in many respects, because of its area and position, the most important. It may be said that the Executive Council meetings can be held only where the Governor-General happens to be residing. But honorable members know that Executive Council meetings may be held anywhere without deranging the machinery of government. Then, too, it is our boast that modern appliances have almost annihilated space, and we know that the Governor-General could leave Sydney one evening and be here in Melbourne to attend a meeting of the Executive Council next morning if necessary. Then, again, although the Executive may have their offices in Melbourne, Ministers will have to visit New South Wales to deal with many important matters. I am willing to say that this sum should be voted merely on the ground that the people of New South Wales desire that the Governor-General shall reside in their State for a portion of the year.
– They have a right to require that.
– Yes. We want to foster the federal spirit throughout Australia. Federation could not have taken place if New South Wales had refused to join the union. That State, however, accepted the Constitution upon certain terms, one of which was that the federal capital should be situated in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney - a very unfortunate limitation. Could any one have imagined, eighteen months ago, that this Parliament would refuse to recognise the status of New South Wales, and decline to vote a sum of money for the up-keep of the Government-house in Sydney, upon which the Government of New South Wales have spent £20,000? If we do not vote this sum, we may place ourselves in a very undignified and reprehensible position. We cannot prevent the Governor-General from travelling, as he may think it his duty to do, throughout the States, or from residing in New South Wales, norcan we prevent the New South Wales Government from offering to him any accommodation they may think fit. It was contended a short time ago that it would be undignified for the Governor - General to accept an allowance from a State Parliament. The contention in Victoria when a similar Bill was introduced was, that if a Governmenthouse had to be maintained anywhere it was the Federal, and not the State Government that should maintain ; that the Governor-General, in his position, ought not to be beholden to any State for that kind of hospitality ; and that our dignity and our position necessitated the other course. Now, what are we doing ? We are going back upon our own principles. After having scouted the proposal of New South Wales because we, forsooth, were willing to provide the money, we are saying now that, having stopped that little arrangement, we do not intend to do anything ourselves.
– What about the constitutional right of New South Wales ?
– The constitutional right of New South Wales is to the capital site, whenever that is decided. I do not know that, as a matter of hard logic, we can deduce anything with regard to Government-house in Sydney to which there could not be an answer. But I do not think we ought to deal with the question in that pettifogging way. We haveto deal with this question from a purely federal stand-point, in view of the understanding which was come to, and which to a large extent brought about federation, and we have to deal with it from the highest point of view with a knowledge of the sensitive feelings of the people of the great mother State of Australia. Because - and this is the last word I shall say upon this matter - I would warn honorable members that if by their vote they refuse to carry this small sum for the upkeep of Government-house in Sydney, they will cause an extreme feeling of irritation in that State. There have been many things to create a feeling of irritation there up to the present time. I can say for myself that that is no threat or anything of that kind, because I am one of those federalists who believe that no matter what has happened, and no matter what could happen, union, above all things, is necessary for our national existence. Therefore, while it makes no difference to me as a federalist, I say the duty of this Parliament and of this Government should be to do everything that will allay any feeling of irritation, which, in many respects, is unavoidable in bringing into operation a new system such as that of the Commonwealth. When it is considered that, in allaying the irritation of the people of New South Wales, we shall be carrying out a compact, and that the carrying out of that compact will involve an expense of only £2,000 a year, the question is scarcely arguable.
– The essence of this question is whether, in the opinion of this Parliament, it is desirable that the Commonwealth shall be made chargeable with the upkeep of more than one Government-house for its Governor-General. When I spoke about this matter on a previous occasion, I very warmly advocated the claim then put forward by the Government, that the residence or residences of the GovernorGeneral, which were given to us rent free by the States, should be kept in a thorough and complete state of repair at the expense of the Commonwealth. Ever since this question has been before the Chamber, I have endeavoured to discover why it was thought necessary that, anterior to the establishment of the federal capital, there should be more than one residence provided for the Governor-General. I have my own opinion about it - an opinion formed upon knowledge which came to me in a certain capacity - that previous to the setting out of the GovernorGeneral from England, it was his intention to land at Melbourne. There is no doubt that it was the intention of Lord Hopetoun to land at Melbourne, but after he left England certain pressure was brought to bear upon the Home Government which caused an alteration in his plans.
– This Parliament is not responsible for that, because it was not in existence at the time.
– Certainly not; and I am very anxious that this Parliament should not be placed in the position of being compelled to accept a responsibility which it did not incur. I asked for certain papers to be placed before honorable members. Those papers for a long time were not available ; but they are available to-day, or, I should say, that a certain number of them are available. I regret that owing to circumstances, over which we have absolutely no control, we have not been able to get the whole of the correspondence that took place between the Prime Minister, the Governor of New South Wales, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with regard to the residences of the Governor-General, his landing, and so forth. But it is patent from the papers that we have at our disposal, that there were two conditions made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The first condition was that the whole of the States interested should be agreeable, and the second condition was that the extra expense should be borne by the States interested. The first of these conditions was carried out. Communications were opened up between the Premier of New South Wales and the Premiers of the other States of the Commonwealth, and, without exception, the new arrangements with regard to landing, the issue of the proclamation, and so on, were agreed to by the States, and perhaps also the question of residence hanging upon that. The second condition, however, was fulfilled only by the State of New South Wales. In the State of Victoria a Bill was brought down for the purpose, but it was rejected on its second reading, and it would have been rejected by a very much larger majority than it was, had it not been for the existence of the feeling of fellowship and comradeship amongst the States which the honorable member for Wentworth desires so much to have expressed.
– Did that Bill contain a specific reference to Government-house in Sydney ?
– It proposed a certain sum to make up £10,000.
– It was for the set purpose of providing a proportion of the amount estimated to be required for the Governor-General’s establishment. In New South Wales the Act passed provided for a sum of over £2,000.
– I should like to know from the honorable member what papers are missing.
– If the Minister for Home Affairs will read the letter from the Governor of New South Wales, he will see that the letters are not complete.
– Where are they?
– I am sure I do not know; I wish I did. Perhaps the Minister for Home Affairs can tell us more of the matter than any one else, because he happened to be Premier of New South Wales at the time the correspondence took place.
– I can tell the honorable member that these papers are very nearly, if not quite, complete. I have read them through and through. There may be one or two more letters in the correspondence ; they are not important, and I do not know that there are any more.
-I would ask the honorable gentleman to read the papers, and he will see that they do not present a continuous history of the negotiations which must have been going on. I must say that I had some experience of the Minister for Home Affairs when in office as Premier of New South Wales at this particular time, and New South Wales never had a more valiant champion, or one more watchful of her interests, than she had at that time in the honorable gentleman. We thought that we in Victoria were pretty smart, but we found ourselves, on this occasion, at all events, completely outpaced by the then Premier of New South Wales.
– The honorable member is trying to make up for it now by opposing this proposal.
– The honorable member is in error in supposing that. I say that the second condition imposed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies has not been complied with. That right honorable gentleman made it perfectcy clear that there were two things to be done before a second residence would be agreed to. Only one of those things has been done.
– Which is the other?
– The condition that the necessary money should be provided.
– It is provided by an Act of the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Have the New South Wales Government ever paid it ?
– No; because the Commonwealth Government objected to it.
– Exactly ; the Commonwealth Government took it upon themselves to break the bargain entered into between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Premier of New South Wales. That is really what it amounts to. Now we are implored not to break an implied contract entered into between a previous Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Reid, and a Premier of Victoria, Sir George Turner.
– And provisionally entered into by the Federal Government.
– By the signing of a certain document?
– By undertaking the responsibility for the up-keep of Governmenthouse.
– They did that, I know, but, in doing so, in my opinion, they broke the spirit of the agreement made between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Premier of New South Wales.
– The same people will have to pay in any case.
– I am quite aware of that. The honorable member for Wentworth again fell into the error of quoting the Constitution as making provision for the seat of government for the Commonwealth in Sydney. But the Constitution, in section 125, expressly forbids the seat of government to be in Sydney. In contending that the rights of New South Wales in this particular must be regarded by the up-keep of a second establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney for a certain period of the year, and by the styling of Sydney as “ the seat of government,” we are contending for something which is not contained in the Constitution.
– No one is contending for that.
– The honorable member for Wentworth indicated that in his argument. Perhaps the honorable member for Parramatta has never said that Sydney should be the seat of government during the time when Parliament is not sitting 1
– I will say it to give the honorable member a start.
– I knew that so loyal a son of New South Wales would say it, but I have heard it said over and over again by different honorable members, and especially by honorable members from New South Wales. I do not intend to labour this question. - 1 feel that a mistake has been made by the Government in arranging for more than one residence for the Governor-General. This is entirely opposed to the compact entered into between the Colonial-office and the Premier of New South Wales, and it is against the spirit of the bargain made in connexion with the establishment of the seat of government. No one objects more strongly than I do to the bargain that was made by the State Premiers between the first referendum and the second. That understanding ought never to have been entered into. I would rather have seen federation deferred for years, than that the work of the convention should have been broken up by the resolution arrived at at an illegal meeting.
– The honorable member is an anti-federalist.
– The honorable memberknows better than that. I am not an anti.federalist but at the same time I am not’ a federalist at any price, and I never was. I prize the federal union very highly, and I hope that it will be long continued. But in order that it may be based upon a solid foundation, I hope to see greater interchanges of friendliness between the States than have taken place recently. The honorable member for Wentworth took it upon himself to warn us that the cup of irritation was full in New South Wales.
– So it is, full to the brim.
– I would remind the honorable member that there are many ardent federalists in Victoria who never believed for a moment that so little sympathy would be shown towards our industries, and towards our bone and sinew by the representatives pf the other States. We have not asked for the expenditure of public money upon the maintenance of Government-houses, but we have desired the continuance of the support and assistance our industrial workers enjoyed in the past, which we had a right to expect from the federation. Before the honorable member for Wentworth takes upon himself the mantle of a modern Jeremiah he should remember what has been done by honorable members from his own State to irritate the manufacturers and operatives of Victoria almost beyond the point of endurance by denying them the right to live within the Commonwealth, and by attempting to take their occupations from them. I honour and respect the State of New South Wales. I recognise the magnificent work she has done, and I shall always look upon her as the parent State.’ Some Victorians object to this title. They are content that New South Wales should be regarded as the “ senior “ or even as the “ original “ State, but they object to her being called the parent State. Personally, I am prepared to give to New South Wales all that respect and regard that any one would give to a parent, but at the same time I ask that more consideration should be shown to the other States by her representatives. I can assure the honorable member for Wentworth that his action, and that of honorable members associated with him, has done more than anything else to make the federal union distasteful to the people of Victoria. I desire to deal with these questions in the interests of the whole Commonwealth, and I should be very sorry to assist one State at the expense of the others. I do not consider that the appropriations proposed by the Government are excessive. I agree with the Acting Prime Minister that we have at last got down to bed-rock in the matter of these expenses, but I regret that I shall have to vote in support of my opinion that it is not desirable that there should be more than one residence for the GovernorGeneral within the Commonwealth. If it were desired, to-morrow, to remove the residence of His Excellency from Melbourne to Sydney, I should not offer any opposition.
– Does the honorable member wish His Excellency to live in a hotel when he is in Sydney ?
– No, but I regard the principle embodied in the proposal that the Governor-General shall have two residences as opposed to the Constitution, and, also, to the well-being of the Commonwealth, and I shall have to vote against it. Apart from this, the Government proposals are as economical as we could expect, and I am sorry to find myself called upon to record what may be regarded as an anti-federal vote. It is not with any anti-federal spirit thatmy vote will be given, because if Melbourne, instead of Sydney, were affected, I should act in exactly the same way.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie, who professes to be a federalist, has expressed regret that he should be called upon to give what may seem to be. an anti-federal vote, but his reasons for his action do not seem to be sufficient. He evidently bases his objection to the proposed vote for the maintenance of Government-house at Sydney as a second residence for the Governor-General upon the factthat, although one portion of the compact between the States has been kept, the second part has not been carried out. New South Wales has always been ready to carry out her part of the compact, under which the States were to contribute £10,000 towards the expenses of the GovernorGeneral ; but Victoria has been found wanting in this respect.
– Victoria made no compact.
– If the honorable member reads the correspondence laid upon the table by the Minister he will find that there was a compact, because in the communications sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies it was stated that the States would provide £10,000.
– There is not one word in the correspondence regarding any compact having been entered into by the Government of Victoria.
– It is stated that thesum of £10,000 would be contributed by the States.
– That is not what the honorable member stated, and he should not make a serious charge against any State without having the best of evidence.
– The honorable members who represent Victoria seem to think that New South Wales should be prepared to make all sorts of sacrifices, but that the compact with reference to the maintenance of the residence for the Governor-General in Sydney should not be carried out because £10,000 is not forthcoming from the States. For the sake of the paltry £2,000 which is required for the upkeep of Governmenthouse in Sydney, the Governor-General is to be placed in an invidious position and faith is to be broken with New South Wales. The Government of that State spent £20,000 in renovating Governmenthouse in Sydney to fit it for the accommodation of the Governor-General, and provided another residence for the State Governor. Government-house in Sydney has been placed in the possession of the Commonwealth Government, and whether we like it or not we shall have to pay for the upkeep of the establishment. The fact of the matter is that the people of Melbourne do not wishtolose theGovernor-General. Theydonot wishtohavemorethanone residence provided for him, and they are basing their objections upon the ground of the expense that will be involved. The Victorians utter the federal cry only when it suits them, and they fight for their own State entirely. I now propose to take a lesson from them, and to uphold the rights of the State which I represent. I do not care whether my action is regarded as federal or anti-federal. When the Minister for Home Affairs established the federal offices in Sydney, a great outcry was raised in this House and in the Melbourne press, but I am glad that the Minister was true to the interests of the Commonwealth. The motion now before us is evidently intended to feel the pulse of the House.
– Is not that a proper thing to do?
– No, not in this way. The Ministry should take the responsibility of placing the proposed vote upon the Estimates in the ordinary way. We have heard a great deal about federalism, but that the mantle of the greatest federalist whom Australia has known - I refer to the late Sir Henry Parkes - has not fallen upon the shoulders of the Prime Minister is evidenced by his action in recently proposing that an annual allowance of £8,000 should be granted to the Governor-General. If any State is entitled to grumble, because of the neglect to carry out the federal compact, undoubtedly it is New South Wales. If any city throughout the Commonwealth made great sacrifices in order that New South Wales might join the Union, certainly it was Sydney. In this connexion I would remind those who taunt New South Wales, that it is from that State that we derive the biggest share of our revenue. Indeed, the State of New South Wales stands before the world as the banker of the Union. I do not wish to raise the cry of New South Wales versus Victoria, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that both the representatives and press of Victoria are endeavouring, by every means possible, to retain the residence of the Governor-General in this State. If they do not openly declare themselves, they suggest that we should have the federal capital established upon the movable tent system. If that system be adopted I am quite sure that the representatives of South Australia will want to know where Adelaide comes in. At the inauguration of the Commonwealth the Governor-General landed in New South Wales, and took up his residence there. His establishment was furnished by an outlay of £20,000 on the part of the State Government. That expenditure was incurred not simply for the purpose of providing him with a residence for a day or two, but of providing him with a residence during the recess. Naturally whilst Parliament is in session he will reside in Melbourne, so that under ordinary circumstances the people of Victoria would have had the benefit of his presence for a clear period of sixteen months. Now, however, that the people of the Commonwealth are asked to provide £2,077 to maintain’ the vice-regal establishment in Sydney, some honorable members object. I am satisfied that their opposition to the proposal is not the result of the outlay which it involves. They do not want a second residence.
– We object to the principle of maintaining two residences, irrespective of where they may be located.
– I am satisfied that the average elector does not care where the Governor-General resides. He does not share in vice-regal entertainments. He is not amongst the chosen few who frequent Government-house. But I object to any abrogation of the federal compact. My reasons for believing that such a compact was made are : that the present Minister for Home Affairs arranged that the GovernorGeneral should land in New South Wales ; that the Commonwealth should be inaugurated there; that £20,000 should be expended in furnishing the State Governmenthouse; and that His Excellency should reside there when Parliament was not in session. These facts were within the knowledge of every State Parliament throughout the Commonwealth.
– Why did New South Wales not provide the money necessary for the upkeep of the establishment ?
– She did, and she now offers to contribute a larger sum for that purpose than is asked from the remainder of the Commonwealth. The Government, however, have informed the Imperial authorities, in a despatch, that they will not allow any of the States to specially contribute to the maintenance of the Governor-General’s establishment. The largest share of the £2,000 required for the up-keep of the Sydney residence will bo exacted from New South Wales. Personally, I am satisfied that if we allow the Governor-General to remove his residence from that State, we shall hinder the establishment of the federal capital. The opposition to> this proposal springs from a desire to prevent the speedy settlement of the federal capital site. It was a condition embodied in the Constitution that the capital should be in New South Wales territory, and naturally that State is grieved to find that after eighteen months, apart from two little trips to the country, nothing whatever has been done to carry out the terms of that compact. Is it surprising that I feel warm upon this “subject? I noticed in the newspapers of to-day the following statement by a writer in the London Times : -
A suggestion has, I believe, been made that Lord Tennyson should spend part of his time as Acting Governor-General in Sydney. Here I must speak guardedly, because I have nothing but rumour to go upon ; but among the people in parliamentary circles who are interested in colonial affairs it is reported that a communication has been made by the Colonial-office to the State Government to the effect that, inasmuch iia the Federal Government object to the GovernorGeneral receiving; any ‘payment except from the Commonwealth Government, the Imperial authorities do not think that he ought to be called upon to keep up two Government-houses on his present salary.
Apparently, in those circles which are in touch with the Colonial-office, the impression is that the Governor-General cannot maintain two residences upon an annual salary of £10,000. Hence the reason why the Ministry desire to obtain an expression of opinion upon the matter by this House. I desire that the two vice-regal establishments shall be maintained in order that the creation of the federal capital shall be expedited. At the same time I am very sorry that the Attorney-General has adopted this method of ascertaining the pulse of the committee upon the matter. To my mind, the Government should have adopted the bold course of placing the necessary amount upon the Estimates, relying upon honorable members to vote it.
– I regret that on r friends from the great State of New South Wales have again raised the question of sectionalism, because there is no intention whatever on the part of this committee to do an injustice to that State. I can assure them that no honorable member intends to do anything which would cause the weakest child in New South Wales to shed a tear. I may further add that Tasmania is not anxious that the Governor-General shall reside in that State, for while he will always be a most estimable gentleman, he is undoubtedly a most expensive “ show.” He is a good deal like a man in America who owned a menagerie. After the menagerie had passed into the possession of the sheriff, the latter had to search out the owner and request him to take the elephants, snakes, Ac., off his hands, as he did not know what to do with them. Similarly, Tasmania would not know what to do with the GovernorGeneral. There is something about the utterances of the Attorney-General which fairly electrfies the House. There is an indescribable fascination about his eloquence. But I wish to correct his statements with regard to the expenditure upon the White House. The White House belongs to the Internal department. The President of the United States is allowed a salary of £10,000 a year, out of which he entertains the foreign ambassadors, his Ministers, and other important persons ; but the beautiful grounds round the White House, and the building itself, are maintained at -the expense of the Government. In the same way, the Commonwealth should undertakethe upkeep of the Government-house here. I oppose their present proposal, however, because of the way in which they have gone about the whole thing. If the motion is carried, no honorable member will be able in the future to criticise the actions or conduct of the Governor-General ; but, as members of this House, we are the custodians of the people’s purse, and, therefore, should not be debarred from criticising the conduct of any official in the Commonwealth service, from the Governor-General down to the door-keeper of Parliament House. I shall never allow myself to be deprived of that right. It is a right given to us by the Constitution, and a right fought for by our forefathers, and won at such places as Bunker Hill and Lexington. Only a few days ago the papers announced that His Majesty the King had given a feast to 500,000 paupers, gathered together from the four corners of London. All honour to the King for his charity. But the conditions which produced those paupers should not be allowed to obtain in the Commonwealth. It is one of the curses of Australia that we have allowed to be introduced here feudalistic titles and all the despotism of privilege. We are to-day struggling against the spirit which democracy has for years vainly endeavoured to destroy - against a monster generated by corruption and nursed on the bosom of privilege. These grants mean the upholding of caste and rank, and it is caste and rank which have damned and blasted the European nations, so that now they are falling behind in the progress of the world. I am going to oppose this proposal, but if it is determined to provide for the upkeep of the Government house in Melbourne, I shall not vote against the proposal to provide .for the upkeep of Government-house” in Sydney, because I think an agreement ought to be kept. But these antiquated systems which we are introducing will plunge us into a bondage more terrible than the darkness of Egypt. Like conditions everywhere produce like results.We have no pauperism in Australia now, because we are younger and bigger than other countries. But danger is lurking ahead. In my opinion it would be better to wipe the whole show out, and let any business man be Governor. McAlister, the Governor of Toronto, and the best man they have had, gets only £2,000 a year. The Governor of New York gets only £3,000 a year, although there are 7,000,000 people in that State ; while the President of the Republic of Switzerland upholds the dignity of his State on a salary of £540 a year. The great curse of these aristocratic and quasi-aristocratic countries is that they must pile up the agony. They must gild the rooster, and have the diamonds glittering, or else they think they cannot have dignity. I look upon all institutions for the development of caste and rank as nothing less than gilded, stagnant lakes into which the rivers of privilege empty.
– I am afraid that the discussion is becoming rather academic. In the first place, I am of opinion that the House is bound by the arrangement entered into by the Government with the Government of New South Wales, and that for three years at least we must vote such a sum as will provide for the upkeep of the Sydney Government-house. It must be admitted, I think, that we shall have to provide for the upkeep of at least one Governmenthouse, and it cannot be said that the amountset down forexpenditure in connexion with the Melbourne Government-house is too large. It must be remembered that the house and grounds must be kept in good order whether the Governor-General resides there or not, because a valuable State property cannot be allowed to fall into disrepair. I find that the whole amount set down for the maintenance of the Melbourne Government-house is only £3,100 a year, whereas the maintenance of these buildings and the adjacent gardens costs something like £4,000 a year. With regard to the Sydney Government-house, I am aware that some honorable members object to any expenditure there, upon the principle that there should not be two houses provided for the Governor-General. I understand that that is the position taken by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. But it must be recollected that an arrangement was entered into by this Government from which we can hardly draw back. I am not now discussing whether it was a good or a bad arrangement; but, as the executive determined, before this Parliament was elected, to lease the building for three years, we must carry out the contract. Even if I thought that no contract had been entered into, but was informed that the people of New South Wales would feel that we were breaking faith with them if we did not agree to this expenditure, I would say that it is too trivial an amount to quarrel about. After all, it is merely a matter of bookkeeping. The people have to find the money in any case, whether it is paid by the State or by the Commonwealth Government. In my opinion the people of Sydney will think that faith has been broken with them to some extent if this expenditure is not sanctioned.
– I do not think that one man in six will trouble his head about the matter.
– I am very glad to hear the honorable member say that, but there may be some cavil on the part of those who would have liked to see the Federal site chosen quickly, and who think that there has been undue delay in that matter. They will think that it will involve a still further delay, and that will give rise to irritation out of all proportion, in my opinion, to the object to be achieved. If after the establishment of the federal capital in New South Wales it were suggested that a Government-house should be provided at Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, or Perth, at a cost of £2,000 or £3,000 a year for each place, I should not dream for a moment of opposing it, if I were informed it would make the people of those States believe that faith was being kept with them. What honorable member on either side would oppose the expenditure of even £50,000 if he were assured that it would create harmony amongst the people of the Commonwealth ? If after the establishment of the federal capital I were to be informed that the people of Victoria desired to have a Governor-General’s residence established in Melbourne at a cost of £2,000 or £3,000, I should be inclined to say that if the expenditure of that small sum of money were necessary to induce half-a-million of people in this city, and three-quarters of a million around them, to be satisfied that they were getting a fair share of attention, and that no provincialism was actuating the Government, I should be ready to vote for such a proposal. The question as to whether there should be only one Governor-General’s residence is one which may be left to the debating schools. I am sure that if honorable members opposite understand that the effect of this proposal will be to remove discontent they will be prepared to, vote for it. Though the honorable member for Laanecoorie and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne may object on principle to the establishment of two residences for the GovernorGeneral, they will be prepared to waive, that objection if they are assured that it is necessary to do so in order to bring about content. To carry out an existing arrangement the establish ment of a Government-house is asked for in the case of New South Wales, and I think that the Federal Government, whether it likes it or not, will be bound to pay this sum. We must remember that although we are keeping up a Government-house in Melbourne and another in Sydney, we are not paying a single penny of interest on the cost of construction of those houses. I suppose that the cost of construction of the Melbourne Government-house alone amounts to over £500,000. It has been placed at our disposal rent free, and it is surely not too much to ask that the Federal Government should bear the expense of maintaining it. Government-house in Sydney must have cost an equally large sum, and it is not too much to ask that the Federal Government should pay merely for maintenance and repairs. After all, is it not absolutely a matter of bookkeeping? The money will have to come from the people whether it is paid by the State or the Commonwealth Government. The time has gone past when we should deal with States as having separate interests in these matters. We as Federal members should recognise that a tax collected by a State is a tax paid by a citizen of the Commonwealth, and that a tax collected .by the Commonwealth is at the same time a tax paid by a citizen of one of the States. I think the Estimates submitted in the resolution are extremely moderate, and no objection has been taken to either of them even by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. When the honorable member is assured by honorable members from New South Wales that any departure from the agreement which has been made will be looked upon in that State as a breach of faith, he will not, I think, insist upon striking out the allowance for keeping up the Government-house in Sydney.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).This appears to me to be a very simple matter. It is not a question of whether we are in favour of two Government-houses or one. To my mind it is a question whether this Parliament is going to keep an honorable engagement entered into by the Federal Government. Let honorable members consider for a moment what has occurred : In New South Wales it was agreed that the Governor-General should be allowed to use Government-house in Sydney. That agreement was accepted by the Federal Government. There is an agreement extending over three years with the right of renewal for a further term of two years. Already a year’s payment has been made on that account and on that basis, and no dissentient voice was raised in this House about the payment of that money. Not a single sound was heard in condemnation of the proposal until now, when honorable members suddenly wake up to find that they never have been in favour of the maintenance of two Government-houses, and that they never have been in favour as they say of the maintenance of the Governmenthouse and grounds in Sydney. Is this the time when they should raise their protest 1 It seems to me that they have allowed the whole thing to go by the board. After eighteen months of actual occupation of the Government-house in Sydney they wake up to find that they do not approve of the agreement when one-half of its course has run.
– We never knew before that there was any such bargain as an agreement to take the house for three years or five years.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to tell me that he has never, seen the correspondence that passed between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales relative to Government-house, Sydney ?
– Not until to-day.
– I am amazed to hear such a statement from the honorable and learned member. It is a singular omission on his part. It has been a matter of public notoriety. It has been published by the newspapers, and every newspaper in Melbourne has animadverted upon it.
– If weare to believe all we see in the newspapers where shall we be?
– The honorable member will find that the matter has been referred to repeatedly in this House, and I venture to say that he is the only honorable member of the committee who has not been aware of it.
Several Honorable Members. - No
– It is most unfortunate that a matter of public notoriety for eighteen months, and as to which questions have been multiplied in this House on many occasions, should not be known to the honorable member. It is a singular thing that honorable members, who are usually so wide awake, should not be acquainted with the details of this agreement. However, there it is in black and white, and the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Cabinet, has undertaken the upkeep of Governmenthouse in Sydney for three years, with the right of renewing the agreement for another two years if necessary. On the faith of that agreement, the New SouthWales Government have taken another large house for the State Governor.
– That is a very strong point.
Mr.Deakin. - Another house has been taken for the State Governor inVictoria also.
– For a definite term, too?
– Yes, for a definite term, and they have gone to great expense in refurnishing it and making it a suitable residence for the State Governor. If these circumstances do not constitute an absolutely binding agreement as between the Federal Government and the State of New South Wales, I should like to know what honorable members would regard as a binding agreement.
– Would the honorable member always approve of what the Cabinet does ?
– No, the moment I find the Cabinet doing what I do not believe in, I take the proper steps to challenge their action. I do not allow them to get away with a matter for eighteen months, and after an arrangement has become almost hoary with age, then begin to repudiate it. It is useless to do so in the first place, and it seems to me that if the House should take the extreme step of not consenting to this agreement entered into by the Federal Government, there is only one thing which that Government can do as honorable men, and that is to throw the responsibility upon the House of taking no further steps in regard to that agreement. Could any self-respecting Government carry on in the face of a vote like that? An agreement was entered into by the Federal Government, and there were numberless comments upon it in all the Melbourne newspapers, and I am surprised that honorable members living in Melbourne had not heard of it before. The question is, are we to faithfully carry out the agreement entered into between the Federal Government and New South Wales? This compact was made on account of the peculiar position New South Wales occupied in regard to the federal bargain. The Constitution does not provide that the seat of Government shall be in Melbourne. The whole of the arrangements for the meeting of Parliament in Melbourne, for the residence of the Governor-General there while Parliament is sitting, and for having the executive and administrative offices also situated there were dictated by convenience and were suggested by the temporary difficulty of fixing upon the site of the federal capital in New South Wales. The Constitution does not provide that the GovernorGeneral shall reside in Melbourne, but it implies that a Government-house shall be maintained in Sydney, although this is not obligatory until the federal site is fixed within that State. The Federal Parliament is to meet in Melbourne only until all the final arrangements for locating it in its permanent home can be made, and the present arrangements are clearly of a temporary character. It is because of that portion of the bargain, by virtue of which New South Wales claims to have the federal capital situated within her territory, and the Governor-General resident in Sydney, that the arrangement for the temporary residence of His Excellency in Sydney was made, and we shall not carry out the spirit and intention of the Constitution unless we abide by that compact. I can scarcely bring myself to believe that the representatives of Victoria would be parties to any abrogation of the bargain entered into with New South Wales. I could understand it if the representatives of some of the smaller States were rather critical, but it does not lie in the mouths of the representatives of Victoria to cavil at the Government proposals. An agreement has been made by this Parliament through the Government which it supports. A large expenditure has been incurred by the Government of New South Wales on the faith of that agreement, and I confidently appeal to honorable members to carry out the manifest spirit and intention of the Constitution. .
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I think the expressions used in the motion now before us ought to be carefully considered, because I understand that certain action is to betaken by the Government upon the strength of it. We are told that our decision is to be conveyed . to the Secretary of State f or the Colonies, and that it will no doubt be communicated to those gentlemen who may be offered the position of Governor-General. The motion commits us to the maintenance of at least two residences for the GovernorGeneral, without any limit as to time. It also - through the papers to which it refers - commits us to the establishment of the new office of Secretary to the Federal Executive Council, a proposal which has not previously been discussed here.
– I do not see why that provision should be included in the proposals.
– It is placed there for the information of honorable members.
– I feel also that the Government have carefully avoided pledging themselves not to ask for further votes.
– I explained why the motion was framed in its present form.
– I had not the advantage of hearing the Minister explaining that point. I hope that he quite understands I do not make the statement offensively ; but there is nothing in the wording of the resolution to prevent the Government from coming down in a few months’ time, and saying that the money voted is not sufficient for the purpose, and asking for a further appropriation. I feel that there is a great deal of force in the view put forward by the honorable member for Parramatta, namely, that the Federal Government is committed by the agreement entered into with the Government of New South Wales to the maintenance of Government-house at Sydney for a period of three, or, perhaps, five years. I heard of this for the first time to-day, because I much prefer to depend upon official communications than upon news published in the newspapers one day and perhaps withdrawn the next. The Government have practically taken over Government-house in Sydney from 1st January, 1901, rent free, but subject to an obligation to maintain it in good order. Speaking with all respect, I think this was a mistake on the part of the Government. But it is not for us, unless we are prepared to take the extreme course of punishing the Government, to repudiate the bargain made by them. Under the circumstances, therefore, I suggest that we should ease the position, if we could limit the operation of the motion to the period ending December 31st, 1903. lain opposed to the maintenance of two Government-houses outof the Commonwealth funds. At the same time, I wish to assure some honorable members from New South Wales that they are mistaken in supposing that there is a desire on our part to keep the federal capital in Victoria. I speak with a good deal of knowledge when I say that it is not the desire of Victorians to keep the capital in their State. So far as I can gather from most of those with whom I come in contact, they would far rather have the capital in- Sydney than create a new capital in the bush, as is now provided for under the Constitution.
– I object to that. Let us adhere to the Constitution.
– My own opinion, and that of most of those with whom I have discussed this matter, is that the amendment of the Constitution made by the Premiers was.weak, pawky, and inexpedient, and that, looking at the question broadly, it would have been much better had it been left to the Federal Parliament to decide upon the site of the federal capital. However, that is a matter of opinion. It is a pity that at the inception of our Commonwealth, when our finances are not in a particularly flourishing condition, we should be forced to incur the huge expense involved in creating a new federal capital. Another misapprehension which I desire to correct is one upon which the honorable member for Dalley laid great stress. He said that the Government of Victoria had repudiated a bargain into which they had entered with the Government of New South Wales for the contribution of £3,000 per annum towards the maintenance of the establishments of the GovernorGeneral. There was no such bargain. I have the correspondence here, and there is no mention of any such compact on the part of the States Premiers. The alleged bargain has been referred to upon the public platforms in many parts of New South Wales, but there is no evidence whatever to support the statement that such a compact was entered into. Some negotiations took place between the Premier of New South Wales and the Secretary of State for the Colonies with regard to the residence for the Governor-General being established in Sydney. Then there was some communication between Sir Edmund Barton, who was in London as a delegate from Australia at the time, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies as to the provision that should be made for the upkeep of the residence. Some correspondence took place between Sir Edmund Barton and the States Premiers, and eventually it would seem that the Premiers of the various States expressed themselves as not entertaining any objection to the Governor-General residing in Sydney when Parliament was not in session.
– But did not the Premier of Victoria submit to. the State Parliament a Bill providing for a contribution by Victoria towards the expenses of the Governor-General’s establishment?
– I am speaking of a bargain.
– Was there not an arrangement between the Premiers that they should submit Bills to their respective Parliaments providing for the contributions?
– Where is the bargain ?
SirWilliam McMillan. - The fact that the Premiers submitted Bills to their respective Parliaments shows that there was some arrangement.
– We have now before us, presumably, the whole of the correspondence, and it does not disclose the slightest shadow of a bargain. The New South Wales Parliament voted £3,000 towards the expenses of the Governor-General’s establishment, and a Bill providing for the payment of a similar sum was brought forward in the Victorian Parliament, and defeated by a verylarge majority. There was no bargain entered into between the States. The fact of a Minister introducing a Bill into Parliament does not necessarily imply that any bargain had been entered into to make any payment. The only fact of which the honorable member is sure is that a Bill was introduced. It may be that the Premier of Victoria promised to submit such a Bill, but that did not pledge the State Parliament to pass it. I want those honorable members who declare that a bargain was made to point to the bargain. Where is it? It is very antifederal, and it is certainly very galling to those who desire to keep faith with New South Wales to find such accusations continually being made. So far as I am concerned, although I disapproved of the provision which was inserted in the Constitution with regard to the federal capital, I am bound in honour to expedite the carrying out of that arrangement. I amquite sure that is our only duty. I am very glad that the Government have declined to allow the GovernorGeneral to accept a special contribution from any State Government. I believe that in New South Wales a Bill was passed under which that State would have contributed £3,000 annually towards the vice-regal establishment. The preamble to the measure is - “ Whereas it is thought desirable that this colony should contribute to raise the amount to be received by the Governor-General to £20,000,” &c. May I ask the Attorney-General if any part of that sum of £3,000 has been received ?
– I am very glad. The Governor-General’s duties are towards the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth should be his sole paymaster. I am pleased indeed that the Ministry have refused to sanction a special contribution from any State Government. Even had the offer emanated from all the States it ought to have been rejected. I agree with the Attorney-General that the sum which we are asked to vote in connexion with the upkeep of the Sydney Government-house constitutes paring to the bone.” There is no doubt that £2,077 is a very small sum for the maintenance of a huge establishment like that in Sydney. But it has been my invariable experience that, if one “pares to the bone,” he has to spend more money afterwards. I believe in the old adage that “a stitch in time saves nine.” If we sanction the expenditure of this £2,077 for the maintenance of the vice-regal establishment in Sydney, I am of opinion that the Government will subsequently come down and say - “ It has been found that we cannot keep up the establishment for the amount voted; the committee have already affirmed the principle that there shall be two Governmenthouses, and we are under a moral obligation to maintain the Government-house at Sydney in good condition for so many years.” Last year I find that £2,500 was expended in the maintenance of and repairs to that establishment. This year, however, it is proposed to spend only £250 upon its maintenance. If that amount is sufficient for the purpose, how is it that £2,500 was expended last year, especially in view of the fact that £20,000 had been expended by the New South Wales Government in the first instance?
– But that amount includes the maintenance of the groundsand cost of caretakers.
– That fact is not set out. I should like to compare the viceRegal establishment in Melbourne also. The. repairs in connexion with the former cost £2,000 as against £500 expended upon its maintenance. The fittings and furniture cost £900 during one year, and £600 during the following year. Are these figures based upon expert evidence ?
– The establishments now are under the control of the department of Home Affairs, and each item has been carefully examined with the results which are before honorable members. I think that the amounts provided will be sufficient, but if they are not, they will be very nearly so.
-With regard to the proposed Secretary to the Executive Council, I would point out that hitherto there has been no such office. If we pass this motion unqualified, I should like to know whether we are committed to the office ?
– I think that we ought to be.
– That item ought to be omitted. It is foreign to the others.
– It seems to me to be foreign to them. To my mind, that proposal should be discussed upon its merits in committee of supply. Perhaps the Attorney-General may see his way clear to limit the operation of this resolution to the end of 1903. I am against the maintenance of two Government-houses, but at the same time I think that the Government have committed us to a bargain until the expiration of three years from the inauguration of the Commonwealth. I think we are in duty bound to carry out their promise.
– If the honorable and learned member will recollect, the object in submitting this proposal in anticipation of the Estimates is that it may form the basis of information to whoever may accent the officeofGovernor-Generalinsuccessionto the present Acting Governor-General. Consequently, if any limitation is attached to it, I hope it will be one which is applicable to the term of office of the next GovernorGeneral. Parliament will then be free to revise the arrangement during his tenure in respect to. his successor. The object in bringing the matter forward at the present time is to enable the Secretary of State for the Colonies to undertake the task of securing the most competent man whom he can persuade to accept the position. Before any person accepted it he would naturally desire to know what conditions are attached to it. If an alteration is made it will, of course, come before the Secretary of State for the Colonies ; but it would be very much more satisfactory if the motion were agreed to in its present form.
– I would point out to the Attorney-General that the fact of an officer having to keep up two Governmenthouses is no inducement to him to accept the position. We shall have no difficulty in securing a suitable occupant of the office, if it is clearly understood that he is not expected to maintain two vice-regal establishments after 1903. At the same time he ought to be given an intimation that if only one Government-house is to be maintained the allowances will be so and so. To be required to keep up two distinct establishments will deter men from accepting the position. I submit that £2,077will be found altogether insufficient for the upkeep of the Governmenthouse, Sydney. I do not care where the vice - regal establishment is located, but I desire to see only one house maintained by the Commonwealth.
– Is not that shunting the whole thing in another way?
– I can assure the honorable member that if a vote were taken upon the bare issue of whether a second Governmenthouse ought to be kept up by the Commonwealth he would be badly defeated. I feel that themajority of the people are against the maintenance of two Governmenthouses, although they do not care where the Goveror-General resides so long as he is properly housed.
– But the Governmenthouse where Parliament is sitting must be kept up.
– Very likely. If a person gets hold of the foal, of course the mare will follow.
– The honorable and learned member says that he does not care where the vice-regal establishment is located, because he knows that the GovernorGeneral must reside in Melbourne, whilst the Parliament is in session.
– That matter, however, was not decided by me. The honorable member advocated the adoption of a Constitution which compels the Parliament to sit in Melbourne. I opposed it, and, therefore, the honorable member, and not myself, is responsible.
– I think that the committee ought to arrive at a vote as soon as possible. I have listened to the debate this afternoon with a considerable amount of pain, and I certainly am of opinion that we cannot expect the federal feeling to grow amongst the people unless we show a better example of it in this Chamber. At the end of sixteen months surely we ought to have got a little nearer to each other than the sentiments which have been expressed today appear to indicate. I trust, however, that the feeling which has been evinced is only upon the surface, and that deep down in our hearts we are prepared to act in a more federal spirit. I am at a loss to understand the opposition to this proposal. No one has said that he opposes the expenditure for reasons of economy, which are the only reasons upon which I think it could be opposed. I hold that the arrangements made anterior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, and the great expense gone to by the Government of New South Wales in improving the accommodation at the Government-house, Sydney, upon the understanding that it would be used by the Governor-General, bind us as men of honour to agree to this expenditure. I feel that if I did not vote for the present proposals of the Government I should be guilty of an act of repudiation. The point raised that the expenditure should be provided for in some other way is only a question of tweedledum and tweedledee. The Government are justified under the circumstances in ascertaining what, in the opinionof honorable members, is the basis upon which the Governor-General should be expected to take up his residence amongst us. We should not grudge the proposed expenditure to our friends in New South Wales. During the consideration of the Tariff, we have had some hard battles here ; but now that the session is coming to a close we might gracefully pass this grant without a division, so that there may be a better spirit between the representatives of New South Wales and ‘Victoria. We have heard too much of both States in the past, and I hope that the comparisons which have been so frequent will at length be dropped. But, while I wish to see every compact entered into by the Commonwealth Government honourably carried out, I could not at the present time vote for the expenditure of any large sum of money upon the building of afederal capital. Rather than do that, I would be prepared to agree to a proposal for the meeting of the Federal Parliament in Sydney for a time. We have waterworks and other large undertakings to carry out before we shall be justified in spending huge sums of money in the erection of unreproductive buildings out in the bush. But we who represent Victoria must, in considering this matter, put ourselves in the position of the representatives of New South Wales. I think that if we were in their position, we should act as they are acting. If I were a member of the New South Wales Parliament, and had heard this debate, I would go back to the Premier of that State, and say - “ Do not take this money. Let us rather provide the expenditure from our own revenue.” If the State of New South Wales did that, the Commonwealth would be humiliated. I trust that the motion will be passed with very little further discussion.
– I strongly object to the remarks of the last speaker, who said that those who opposed this grant are antifederalists.
– A great many of the speeches which have been made have been anti-federal.
– The acting leader of the Opposition, in strongly supporting the motion attempting to set up Sydney as a seat of government against the wording of the Constitution, showed as narrow and provincial a spirit as has been displayed in any debate that has taken place since this. Parliament first met. He is strongly in favour of Sydney being made a federal centre. But if Sydney is to be regarded as a federal centre, and is to be given money to entertain the GovernorGeneral there, why should not other cities be similarly treated ? As Melbourne is the federal capital for the time being, Sydney is merely a provincial centre, and Hobart, Geelong, Ballarat, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth, as other provincial centres, have equal rights with Sydney. The honorable member for Wentworth is advocating the interests of his own State in opposition to the interests of the whole Commonwealth. I resent the statement of the honorable member for Echuca, that those who oppose this motion do so foi’ anti-federal reasons. If any State capital has a right to be specially considered in this connexion, it is the former federal capital of Australia - Hobart - where the Federal Council met for years. If the rights of provincial centres are to be considered, Hobart has far better claims than Sydney has in connexion with this matter. I regret, however, that these provincial claims have been brought forward. It has been said that a compact has been made with the people of New South Wales, but that compact, -if made, was made by duress and misrepresentation, and therefore is not binding. I say that it was made by duress, because the people of Sydney, in opposition to the interests of New South Wales and of Australia, used their strong position to force the other States to agree to a federal union under certain conditions. New South Wales held the revolver at the heads of the other States by saying that she would not join the union if she did not get her own way. Sydney played for her own hand absolutely, against the interests of Australia, in order to secure a State advantage. Furthermore, the compact was brought about by misrepresentation. The people of Victoria, who accepted the Bill as amended by the Premiers’ Conference, never heard of the compact to which reference has been made. If they had known that they were being deceived, that the Constitution Bill which was presented for their acceptance was not the real bargain, but that there was a secret compact in favour of Sydney, and that the rights of Victoria had been abandoned during the conference of the Premiers, they would not have voted for the union of the States with as much enthusiasm as they did. The honorable member for Wentworth, if he knew of the misrepresentation which then took place, was a party to it; but if he did not know of it, lie cannot say now that any compact was entered into.
– Will the honorable and learned member express his disapproval of the action of the Government by voting to turn them out 1
– I am willing to vote against this motion, and, if the honorable and learned member think,* as I do, he should vote with me. I trust that the proposal of the Government will be defeated, and that, if we cannot prevent the .expenditure of the £5,500 proposed, we should at least reduce it to £3,100.
– The honorable member for Echuca said that he regretted to note the existence of an antifederal spirit in the House. I deny that any such spirit exists here, though there is cause for it in the action of the Government in the whole of this business. The Government seems on every occasion to have adopted the wrong way of dealing with the matter. A few months a,go a Bill was introduced to provide for expenditure in connexion with the Governor-General’s establishment, which should have been provided for on the Estimates. That Bill was very much altered, but ever since then the Government have made a continuous series of blunders with regard to the whole question. It has been stated to-day that an arrangement was made between the States about the keeping up of two Government-houses, but I remember distinctly that when it was stated in the daily newspapers that the Parliament of New South Wales had voted a certain sum of money towards making good an additional grant of £10,000 to the Governor-General, the South Australian Premier of the day was asked in Parliament if he had been consulted about the matter, and his answer was that he knew nothing about it except what he had read in the newspapers. Yet we are told to-day that the various States Governments agreed to this arrangement.
– That is a mistake. There was no such agreement.
– The honorable member for Echuca said that he could understand an objection to this proposal on the ground of economy. But I say unhesitatingly that the sum proposed is not a large one. Does the Acting Prime Minister really think that we shall not be asked within a short time to supplement it?
– I do not think that we shall.
– Shall we not later on be billed by the States with accounts for the railway travelling of the GovernorGeneral? The Government have had time since the matter was first brought before us to ascertain definitely what the States intend to do. We have no assurance from them that they do not intend to charge us for the railway travelling of the Governor - General. That being so, we may within the next twelve months be called upon to foot a pretty heavy bill for railway travelling. As a matter of fact, the Government have already been billed, and, although they have refused to settle the account, that does not end the matter. Later on we shall be told that there has been a breach of an agreement ; that the arrangement for the upkeep of two Government - houses implied an undertaking to pay for the travelling between them. The amount set down here is within the estimate which was arrived at by the Conventioin in 1898, though there was then no intent on of providing for two establishments. If there had been that intention, the estimate would have been very much larger. Are we to understand that the Sydney Government-house is to be retained by the Commonwealth for all time ? I do not know that I have much more to say upon this proposal. I intend to vote against the whole thing as a protest against the method which the Government has adopted in dealing with this question generally. Their course of action has been a series of bungles from start to finish. We had more discussion of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment than there would have been any necessity for if the Government had dealt with the matter in a statesmanlike manner.By the action of the Government the House has been placed in a false position. Before we are many years older those who will be in this Chamber will be told that they are in honour bound to support further votes proposed in connexion with the establishment of the Governor-General. I do not believe that it is possible to keep up the two establishments in Melbourne and Sydney for the sum proposed. I remind honorable members that the proposal implies, in addition to the sum stated, a fair claim upon the Parliament for railway charges between the two establishments. Those who will later on be called upon to foot the bill will be told that it must have been clearly understood that when two establishments were provided - one in Sydney, and the other in Melbourne-there must be some means of communication between the two ; and the expense of that communication will be submitted as being only a fair charge, and a natural corollary of the agreement entered into.
– As this proposal stands at present, I intend to vote against it. I shall vote for the Government proposal only on the condition that the charge for the maintenance of the two houses shall be limited to the term mentioned in the agreement already entered into. It is not altogether to the amount involved that I take exception, though I venture to say that the Acting Prime Minister, with his experience, will not attempt to demonstrate that the sum proposed in the resolution will be sufficient for the upkeep of these two establishments. The honorable gentleman has himself told the committee that the States of New South Wales and Victoria have each paid more for the maintenance and upkeep of Government-house in their respective States than he proposes under this resolution to expend upon the upkeep of the two. How utterly absurd it is, therefore, to imagine that this sum is going to be sufficient to maintain both. It is simply burking the whole question. The introduction of the proposal in this way is getting in the thin edge of the wedge, and when a further request is made to pay up arrears, the House of Representatives will be told that the money is spent. We have had too much of that way of doing business, and, as I havepreviouslystated, theonly wayin which we can prevent this expense is by refusing to vote the money. I point out that we are here setting up a standard for all and sundry to follow. As I understand the Constitution, the effect will be to make it more expensive for future Governors-General, as they will be obliged to maintain a residence in Sydney and in Melbourne, practically for the whole year. Later on we shall no doubt have the Federal Government coming down with a proposal for the establishment of federal offices in Sydney and in all the other State capitals. The proposal to my mind, is utterly absurd, and I shall vote against it unless it is limited to the term of the agreement which has been entered into, when it is probable that the
Federal Government will have a home of its own.
– I should like to say, with regard to the proposal to limit the operation of the resolution, that it seems to me that we should be true to ourselves as a business Chamber. If the proposal of the Government is anything at all, it is a proposal to enable them to communicate with the Home authorities as to the actual financial position regarding the establishment of future Governors-General. It seems to me to be a very reasonable and sensible proposal. If we carry out the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and confine the operation of the resolution to a period of three years, can we expect that a Governor-General will come here under conditions which may be altered during his term of office? I think it would be far better to deal with the matter on the good faith of the Government. They have decided that this is to be taken as an interim provision, subject to alteration in the light of further experience. There are many things which we are doing in this Commonwealth in connexion with which it is impossible for any one to know all the conditions and expenses involved. It would certainly be more- businesslike to have a proposal which will undergo no change during the term of office of a Governor-General. I am sure that, for the sake of the honour of this House and the credit of its business capacity, honorable members will not consent to a proposal limiting the operation of this resolution to a period of three years, when a Governor-General may be in the middle of his term of office.
– One of the matters which should be considered in dealing with this question is the extent to which the State and people of New South Wales were induced to look to the Commonwealth Government for some arrangement of this character. I know it has been denied that there was anything in the nature of an agreement between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth, or between the State of New South Wales and the State of Victoria, regarding this matter. Whilst it is probable that there is nothing in the Federal Constitution relating to the matter, and that there may be nothing in the nature of a formal agreement between the States bearing upon it, I still think there was a certain understanding anterior to federation . between the people and Government of New South Wales and the peoples and Governments of the other States, and particularly of Victoria, who were engaged in negotiations which finally led up to the acceptance of the Constitution by the people of New South Wales.
– Sir George Turner, as Premier of Victoria at the time, has denied it.
– I have not heard his denial, and I should like to be sure that he denies that there was any understanding of that character.
– He does deny it.
– I have it now from the Acting Prime Minister that Sir George Turner does deny it, and that being so, I am bound to say that the people of New South Wales were under a misapprehension in regard to the matter. When the Constitution was defeated on the first referendum, there were negotiations between the Premiers of the States which led up to what was known in New South Wales as “ the secret conference,” a conference of the Premiers representing the different States in which certain agreements were arrived at. How they were arrived at is kept secret, because the meetings were not open to the press, and the press and the public were only informed that certain conclusions had been arrived at. These were embodied as alterations in the Constitution, which was then submitted to a referendum vote, not only of the people of New South Wales, but of the peoples of the other States who had approved of the original Constitution, with the difference, of course, that on the second occasion Queensland was induced to come in. That State took no part in the first referendum, and at that stage appeared to have made up her mind to stand outside of the federal movement for the time being. It was represented to the people of New South Wales that, as the result of the Premiers’ conference, certain arrangements were to be made, and, amongst others, that the federal capital should be located in New South Wales, subject to certainlimitations, and that in the meantime the Federal Parliament should meet in Melbourne. What the people of New South Wales were led to believe, and what many of them now believe, was that the understanding arrived at by the conference was that, whilst the Commonwealth Parliament should meet in Melbourne, it should be necessary for the Governor-General to reside in that city, and it was therefore necessary that the State of Victoria should make provision for his residence. It was also understood that during the recess, when honorable members had returned to their respective States, the Governor-General, if he chose, should reside in the chief city of New South Wales. That was one position placed before the people of New South Wales prior to the taking of the referendum.
– Does the honorable member say that any federal leader in New South Wales asserted that that was an understanding?
– I am not prepared now to name any federal leader who asserted that, but I think I can be borne out in the statement that that impression was prevalent in New South Wales. So faras I am personally concerned, that consideration had no weight with me, because when the question of remitting the decision as to the seat of the Federal Government to the Premiers’ conference was proposed in the State Parliament of New South Wales, I was one of the few who voted against it. I considered that there were other issues, of far greater importance, which should receive attention. But in battling against the acceptance of the Constitution on the second referendum, I was met with this argument at nearly every meeting I addressed : It was contended that there would be no injustice done to New South Wales under the arrangement that the Governor-General should divide his residence in the Commonwealth between that State and Victoria during the time preceding the allocation of the federal territory. This was an important consideration in the minds of the people of New South Wales, and was urged very strongly as an inducement to them to adopt the Constitution. There were indications of some general understanding, because the Government of New South Wales initiated legislation making provision for a contribution by that State towards the expenses of the Governor-General’s establishment. The Premier of Victoria introduced similar legislation into the Parliament of that State, and if he had been sufficiently supported, Victoria would have stood committed to a contribution of £3,000 per annum . Now we are told that this acti on was taken quite apart from any understanding arrived at by the Premiers of the States. I am bound to accept the assurance of the Acting Prime Minister that there was no understanding, but it is difficult to conceive how such a strong impression could have been created in the minds of the legislators and the people generally of New South Wales in the absence of some compact such as has been referred to. The Premier of Victoria, at least, thought at one time that an arrangement of this kind should be entered into, and there must have been some common inspiration for his action, and that taken by the Premiers in other States. We were not informed in New South Wales that the course adopted by the Government of New South Wales was the result of despatches received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but we were led to believe that it was due to an understanding arrived at between the Premiers at the conference held by them some little time before. The matter has now reached such a stage that thisParliament is in duty bound to adopt the Government proposals. If the people of New South Wales were misled, their misapprehension should have been corrected before this, as it is rather late in the day to disillusionise them. It will be difficult to induce them to believe that there was no understanding,and any attempt to vary the arrangements for the residence of the Governor-General in Sydney will be regarded by them as a manifestation of an anti-federal spirit. I do not see that there is any great objection to the GovernorGeneral visiting the capitals of the Commonwealth. It is not desirable that the Governor-General should be tied to Melbourne while the seat of government is in that city, or that, when the Federal Parliament is established in its permanent home, we should place a ring fence around the capital and prevent the GovernorGeneral from visiting the capitals of the various States.
– Would the honorable member be in favour of maintaining six. establishments - one in each of the capitals?
– I am prepared to grant to His Excellency every facility for visiting the States, and if the Government of South Australia will place a residence at his disposal, I am willing that that State should be treated in exactly the same way as the others. The honorable member for Tasmania,
Mr.O’Malley, has stated that there is no necessity for a Governor-General in a’ democracy, hut that question should have been dealt with when the Constitution was being framed. It is all very well to talk about the appointment of a Governor - General being inimical to a true democracy, but if the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, will turn to the United States, he will see that the people there have been ground down by multimillionaires to a far greater extent than have the people under our system of government. If the honorable member wishes to do away with those elements in the community that are detrimental to the best interests of democracy he will require to turn his attention first to the abolition of multimillionaires and trusts. As a federation under the Crown we must have some one representing the Crown. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne denied that there was any question of federal feeling involved in this matter, and he stated that he would be loth to do anything that would convey the impression to the people of New South Wales that the opposition to the residence of the GovernorGeneral in Sydney was due to the existence of an anti-federal spirit in Victoria. At the same time the honorable and learned member wishes to limit the operation of the motion to the period for which the Ministers have entered into an arrangement with the Government of New South Wales. I would point out, however, that if it is a good thing to ratify the arrangement entered into for that period it should be just as desirable to continue it until such time as the Federal Parliament is located in its permanent home.
– Does not the honorable member see that the motion provides for the residence of the Governor-General in Sydney for all time 1
– I do not” agree with the honorable member. It simply provides for the residence of the Governor-General in Sydney during the period which must elapse before the federal capital is established. When the residence of the GovernorGeneral has been established within federal territory, it will be open to this Parliament to decide whether the present arrangement in respect of Melbourne, and the proposed arrangement in respect of Sydney, or any of the other State capitals shall continue. Honorable members should recollect that in anticipation of that compact being honorably carried out, the Government of New South Wales, at considerable expense to themselves, have handed over the State Government-house for the accommodation of the Governor - General. They have arranged for the accommodation of the State Governor elsewhere. Are thev how to be told that that arrangement was made upon their own initiative, ‘and that the federal authorities are under no obligation in respect to it ? That would be an unfair position to assume towards the Government or people of New South Wales. I intend to support the proposal which has been submitted by the Attorney-General, because I believe that it loyally carries out pre-federal arrangements. Instead of the people of New South Wales forcing this matter on by misrepresentation, it seems to me that if the compact is not carried out they will have every right to complain.
– In listening to this debate, I was very much surprised at the statement made by some honorable members from across the border that in New South Wales the Constitution was carried because it was understood that the GovernorGeneral was to reside there for a few months in each of a few years. Without doubting the veracity of any honorable member, that statement appears to me to be almost incredible. There was no State in the Union in which the Constitution in all its bearings was so fully discussed as it was in New South Wales, and under those circumstances I can scarcely realize that such a comparatively unimportant matter as where the Crown’s representatives should reside during a few of the earlier years of the federation carried so much weight. But leaving out of consideration what was the understanding, it seems to me that this is not a question of whether Victoria or New South Wales is to hold up the body of the Governor-General for a few years as the spoils of war. The question is whether we are to establish a good or bad precedent regarding the expenditure of moneys belonging to the public, who we know are insistent that this Parliament shall exercise economy in every possible direction.
– Let us have a speedy settlement of the capital site.
– I have not the slightest objection to the adoption of that course. I think it was a huge mistake to insert in the Constitution the provision relating to that matter, and to bar all the other State capitals from becoming the future federal capital. The 100-miles ring around Sydney is not nearly as big as is the ring around the other capitals. I should be perfectly willing to put the names of Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide in a hat, and to draw lots as to which should be the capital. But, after all, the determination of this question, or of the temporary residence of the Governor-General, is of small importance compared with the great matters at issue in connexion with the federation. I cannot assume that the people of New South Wales would believe that that State had been wronged if Parliament declined to vote an annual sum of £2,000 for the maintenance of the vice-regal establishment in Sydney. The real question at issue is, whether in expending this money, we are setting a good example in regard to economies which must be exercised by this Parliament in all sorts of directions’ for years to come, if the States are to be assisted in keeping down unnecessary expenditure. It has been said, and certainly the correspondence was laid upon the table to-day induces the belief, that we have entered into a sort of tenancy in respect of the Government-houses in Sydney and Melbourne. Granting that that is so, I cannot see why we should ask the people of the Commonwealth to continue’ that tenancy any longer than is necessary. In each case the contract expires at the end of 1903, and I do not see why it should continue one moment longer. In certain despatches it is even suggested that when the Federal capital is established a third residence, should be provided for the Governor-General. Apparently we are to have one residence at the Federal capital, another at Melbourne, and a third at Sydney. When the Federal capital has been established within Commonwealth territory, I shall certainly refuse to vote for the maintenance of any vice-Regal residence, either in Melbourne or Sydney. I would not now vote for the upkeep of the Government-house in Melbourne, if Parliament were not sitting here. But where Parliament is in session, there the Governor-General must be located. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that the Governor - General should have an establishment in Melbourne. That is unavoidable in the carrying on of the Government of the country, and that is the reason why I distinguish between the two portions of this motion. I am satisfied that the possibility of having the GovernorGeneral’s presence in Melbourne for a few months each year did not induce the people of Victoria to accept the Federal Constitution. They accepted it–
– Because they thought it was a good bargain.
– I am sure that if they entertained that impression they are very much disappointed. But the fact is that they accepted it because they believed that Victoria, like the rest of Australia, would benefit by the union, and in spite of all that has been said, I think that most of us believe that this great machine, so soon as its bearings get into proper order, will work smoothly. There was bound to be trouble at the beginning, and that trouble has been accentuated by the great drought which has overtaken Australia. I do not think that New South Wales will consider that she has been grievously wronged if Governmenthouse is not kept open for the occupation of the Governor-General during four or five months in each year. It is because I feel that the maintenance of two vice-Regal establishments constitutes an example of unnecessary expenditure in high places that I cannot support the proposal of the Government. In discussing matters of this kind, the people seize upon points here and there. They will be only too ready to say - “ You have spent so many thousands of pounds in connexion with the GovernorGeneral, and yet you refuse to expend a thousand pence to assist certain people who are in very much more need of it.” In spite of the moral effect which the presence of His Excellency might have upon Sydney, I think that its natural attractions are quite sufficient. I feel, bound to abide by the bargain which I consider has been made, and which must continue for three years from the date of the inauguration of the Commonwealth, much as I disapprove of it. It would be quite useless, however, to continue that arrangement until just after the beginning of a Governor-General’s term of office. I hold that the Government should not have made such an arrangement until it had ascertained the wishes of Parliament in this matter. Occasionally, however, the Government have assumed too much and have discovered that their ideas concerning the wishes of this House have been very much at fault.
I I feel bound to express my disapproval of the motion, and in the performance of what 1 conceive to be my duty, but in no spirit «»£ hostility to mv friends across the border, to vote against it.
-! think that something should be said by the representatives of New South Wales in regard to the proposal of the Government to expend £5,500 upon the up-keep of the Government-houses in Sydney and Melbourne, because honorable gentlemen opposite appear to have overlooked the fact that an agreement was entered into with the Government of New South Wales to lease the Government-house in Sydney for a period of three years, .with the .right of renewal for another two years. In view of that agreement, the Government of New South Wales spent £20,000 in adding to the building, and another £7,000 in providing a residence for the State Governor. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite tell us that they did not know of any such agreement.
– Was not the expenditure to which the honorable member refers entered into before the agreement was made 1
– It was incurred in view of the possibility of Governmenthouse being used by the Governor-General.
– The Federal Government had not committed themselves at the time.
– I think there was an understanding that the GovernorGeneral should reside in Sydney for a certain period of the year. If the honorable member is of the opinion that £20,000 was spent upon the building because it was in a state of disrepair, I would like to inform him that only a short time previously something like £7,000 was spent in renovating it for the reception of Lord Beauchamp, and that every year a large sum of money is voted for its maintenance. Had there been no agreement with the Federal Government it would not have been necessary to provide a residence for the State Governor, but as that has been done, and as the New South Wales Government have spent a large sum in adding to and improving the old Government-house, because of the agreement with the Federal Government, it is the duty of this Parliament to see that the agreement is honorably kept. There is no inclination on the part of the Government to withdraw from it, but some of their supporters seem to be unable to find a reason for supporting them on this occasion. I would point out to the representatives of Victoria that the agreement in regard to the Government-house, Melbourne, is no more binding than the agreement in regard to the Government-house, Sydney. That being so, why should they wish the Government to withdraw from one and to fulfil the other 1 The attitude of those honorable gentlemen is a display of that provincialism of which we have heard so much. There may be a feeling on their part that, if the Governor-General resides in Sydney, the occupancy of Government-house, Melbourne, may be on a less firm and lasting footing. I do not wish to-see the GovernorGeneral continue to reside in Melbourne, because another compact was entered into with New South Wales, and that was that the federal capital and the permanent residence of the Governor-General should be within the borders of that State; but until the federal capital is chosen I think the Governor-General- should live part of the year in Sydney, and part of the year in Melbourne. Apparently provision has been made for the occupancy of the Sydney Government-house for four months in the year. The representatives of Victoria cannot find much to grumble at in that, seeing that he will reside eight months in Melbourne. New South Wales is being called upon to occupy a position second to that of South Australia in this matter, because Lord Tennyson, since he has been Acting Governor-General, has made several trips to Adelaide, while he has not been to Sydney at all, and we have no guarantee that that state of things will not continue.
– Why should there, not be a Commonwealth Government-house in Adelaide ?
– I have no objection to the Governor-General visiting Adelaide. In my opinion it is his duty to make himself seen and known in every State capital. When I was in Canada, I was informed that the Dufferin-mansion, at Quebec, is occupied for a period every year by the Governor-General of the Dominion, and the representatives of New South Wales ask that Government-house, Sydney, shall be similarly occupied by the GovernorGeneral of Australia. Sydney is the most important city in the union.
– Not in point of population !
– In commerce and in wealth, while the State of New South Wales occupies the enviable position of containing one-third of the population of Australia. Is it not reasonable that the Governor-General should reside for part of the year in so important a State - the State which will be the home of all future GovernorsGeneral 1 The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne says that he has no desire to see the capital remain in Victoria, but I am inclined to think that among Victorian representatives he is very much alone in that opinion.-
Honorable Members.- - No
– I am glad to hear honorable gentlemen say “ No.” It indicates a desire to do the correct thing, and the first step to be taken in that direction is to honorably keep the compact entered into in . regard to the occupancy of the Sydney Government-house.
– If the Sydney people see as much of the Governor-General as the Melbourne people do, they may become satisfied, and not push forward the federal capital question.
– I do not think there is any fear of that. Perhaps, individually, the people of New South Wales do not regard this matter as of much importance, but they wish to see the position of Governor-General properly maintained, and they consider that for the proper maintenance of the position it is necessary that he should reside for at- least one- third of the year in Sydney. A great deal has been said about the expense of this arrangement, but it must not be forgotten that at least £1,000, or more than a third of the whole amount, will be provided by the people of New South Wales, and, as they have already spent so large a sum in providing for the accommodation of the Governor-General in Sydney, surely the people of the other States will not hesitate to make up the balance of the expenditure.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).When a somewhat similar question was before Parliament on a previous occasion honorable members took up an attitude in connexion with it which I think has met with the approval of the people outside. Our attitude then was that we desired to see the” office of the Governor-General upheld with dignity, and were willing to provide a reasonable allowance to that end. But we wished it to be distinctly understood th.it the occupancy of the position should be in accordance with the ideals of the Commonwealth, which were ideals of simplicity and of economy. The proposal to expend £13,030 upon the upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishment has now been reduced to £5,500, which shows that ‘the Government are taking their lesson to heart.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that the amount now set down will cover the whole cost?
– We have been informed by the Acting Prime Minister that Commonwealth officials have inquired carefully into the whole matter, and think that the sum set down is sufficient. It is possible that there may be some increase, but the reduction already made is very great.
– Did not the Acting Prime Minister state as a reason why a Bill was not introduced that he was not sure that this sum would be found sufficient ?
– No. I understood the honorable gentleman to say that this proposal would be taken as a working basis, and that if it was afterwards found to require revision it could be revised. But it does not follow that the amount is going to be increased from £5,000 to £13,000. As the Commonwealth grows there is no doubt that our expenditure will increase ; but I shall not be a party to any very great increase over and above the amount of £5,500 now proposed for this purpose. I intend to support the proposal to maintain both Governmenthouses. The matter has been stated in several ways. It has been argued that there should be but one establishment maintained for the Governor-General, and that until the federal site is formed, that establishment should be maintained in Melbourne. To my mind there are two possible sites for the Governor-General’s residence, and if it is decided that we should have only one, the question arises whether there is to be a fair run between Sydney and Melbourne.
– Another point is, whether two residences are to be continued.
– That is another aspect of the question. Here we are asked to lay down the principle that there shall be two residences, and honorable members from States other than New South Wales, and particularly from Victoria, have said that there should be only one, and that that should be Melbourne. In my opinion, if the whole question is viewed fairly, we are bound to continue for some considerable time the two residences which have been selected. The honorable and learned member for Corinella seemed to say that if it were a question of the Commonwealth being legally bound to New South Wales, he would be inclined to accept the position. Then he said afterwards that he could not accept a half-way arrangement He did not put his position verv clearly, but the impression he -left upon my mind was that, if he were satisfied that an agreement had been made between the Federal Government and the Government of New South Wales, he would be prepared to abide by that agreement. While honorable members have been speaking, I have gone carefully through the correspondence, and I have come to the conclusion, as regards the making of a contract, that if this were a contract between two private individuals, and brought before a court of equity, on the correspondence which has taken place, together with the acts of possession and ownership exercised over the property in New South Wales, the court would decree specific performance in the case of either party to the contract. The correspondence starts as early as 18th June, 1901, when the Prime Minister writes as follows to the Premier of New South Wales : -
I shall be gUid if you will kindly take into your early consideration the question of the occupancy of Government-house, Sydney, by the Government of the Commonwealth, for the purpose of a residence for His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. It will probably be necessary to arrange for the occupation of the buildings and grounds for a term oi three or five years, and I shall be pleased to receive any proposals you may have to make upon the subject. The Commonwealth Government will, as a matter of course, maintain the house, offices, grounds, &c, and effect any repairs which may become necessary during the term of occupancy.
After that letter was written a similar letter was written to the Premier of Victoria, and the correspondence shows that the head of the Government, acting evidently upon Executive authority, entered into a contract with the Commonwealth through its Executive officers. We may disapprove of the conditions of a particular contract, but when it has been entered into by the persons whom we have placed in a position to make contracts on our behalf, the Commonwealth, as a whole, will fee! itself bound by the act of its Executive officers. We oan only act through agents, and we are bound by their acts, although we may disapprove of particular terms of a contract. It will be found that ultimately the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth wrote to the Premier of New South Wales asking whether the Government of New South Wales were prepared to lend Governmenthouse in Sydney to the Commonwealth for the purpose of residence by the Governor-General, upon the same terms and conditions as Government-house in Victoria had been lent by the Government of that State. It will be seen from the correspondence that the -Premier of New South Wales was agreeable to the occupancy of Governmenthouse in Sydney upon the same terms. Throughout the correspondence it will be seen that definite terms are set out, and that a draft of a lease was before the two Cabinets. Then the Premier of New South Wales accepted it, and the Commonwealth Government accepted it. Not only did they do that, but the Commonwealth Government absolutely entered into possession of the building, and exercised effective ownership by appointing their own caretakers and making the repairs. On the other hand, the State Government of New South Wales ceased to exercise any control whatever over it, and became parties to another lease, making provision, at great expense, for a residence for the State Governor for a long term of years. If honorable members » ere, through an agent, parties to a contract with a private individual, established under the terms of the contract agreed to by the Federal Government, they would feel that they had bound themselves to take Governmenthouse in Sydney for a definite term of years.
– The approval of Parliament is always a condition.
– No, it is not always a condition. A hundred and one contracts are made by administrative officers, and if the approval of Parliament were always a’ condition,’ it would be impossible for Ministers to carry on the work of their departments, involving, as they do, the making of numerous small contracts. It is true that Parliament may exercise its power by refusing to appropriate money for certain purposes, but Parliament will very rarely inflict a hardship upon persons who have entered into a contract with the Government. Looking at the question purely as a question of law, I am of opinion that as regards New South Wales and the Commonwealth,, we have entered into a binding contract with the Government of New South Wales to occupy Government-house at Sydney for three years, and, whether the GovernorGeneral resides there or .not, we are under an obligation to maintain it, to look after the grounds, to keep the property in repair, and to keep it properly insured, or at all events to be responsible for it, and at the end of the term to hand it over in as good condition as when we entered it. That being so, I feel that it is necessary that we should vote for the amount set down in this proposed estimate. I put the matter now upon another ground, and I say that we owe a duty to New South Wales to carry out what may be really only an understanding. We know that these understandings cannot be enforced in a court of law. Honorable members from New South Wales do not ask for that, but they appeal to the court of honour, and ask honorable members of this House to agree to their request. What they ask is, to my mind, fair and just. They do not allege that this understanding induced New South Wales to enter the federation, but that the people of New South Wales believed that the Governor-General, as representing the sovereign power and authority underlying federation, and as the figure-head of the Commonwealth, would reside for a certain time in their capital city. If we deprive them of that which they would regard as an honour they will be aggrieved. They, in my opinion, have had reason to believe that the Governor-General would reside in their capital city during a certain portion of the year, and I think that the Commonwealth is in duty bound to carry out the understanding. I understand that the New South Wales members do not ask for this because of any provincial feeling, but because they think that in the first stages of the existence of the Commonwealth the people of the different States should live as a happy and united family, and that there should be a kindly and brotherly feeling pervading the Commonwealth.
– They say - “ Give us what we want and we will be federal in spirit.”
– No, they do not ask that we should give them what they want, but the people of New South Wales believed that this promise would be fulfilled, and they will feel aggrieved if it is not fulfilled. Though as free-traders and protectionists we may differ in this House, we know that the federal feeling exists amongst us, and I understand that it is upon this high ground that this matter is put by the honorable members from New South Wales.
– We shall have to get upon high ground in Queensland, and have an establishment in Brisbane.
– We may have to fight for the federal feeling, and I believe we shall have the assistance and sympathy of honorable members of this House if the contention is urged in a federal spirit, which I think is a spirit characteristic of honorable members from our State. I have looked through the correspondence also with respect to the second point - as to whether the people of New South Wales had any reasonable ground for believing that Sydney was to be a place of residence for the Governor-General even for a certain time. In my opinion, the correspondence shows that they had every reason to believe that. In the first place, we know that the proclamation was to be issued in Sydney, and on looking through the correspondence and cablegrams dealing with the matter, it would seem as if the Premiers of Australia some time prior to the 7th July, 1900, were consulted upon the matter. They, of course, had no legal power to bind their Parliaments, but they were looked to as persons who, from the positions they occupied, were competent to express the public opinion of their States.
An Honorable Member. - They deny that.
– I do not care whether they deny it or not. I am pointing out that such facts as these would lead to the belief in the minds of the people of New South Wales that an agreement or understanding of some kind existed. On the 7th July, 1900, Earl Beauchamp, who was then Governor of New South Wales, sent the following telegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies : - lie your telegram of 6th July - My Prime Minister desires to introduce next week Bill dealing with the question o£ State Governors after federation. He is anxious to have your permission to state that you desired Barton to inquire where Governor-General should reside, and chafe in answer to your request Prime Ministers o£ federating colonies consulted and agreed to New South Wales.
– That is denied.
– Assuming that it is denied, the question is whether the people of New South W ales had any reason for believing that an arrangement had been entered into, and I am showing that persons in very high positions in New South Wales entertained this idea.
– Then we should have their testimony upon the subject.
– It is not a question of testimony. The point is whether the people of New South Wales had any reason to believe that a compact had been made, and I am pointing out that they had. I can rely only upon the evidence before us. It may be misleading, but it is vouched for by very high authorities,and must be accepted until we have some stronger written testimony to set against it. There are further telegrams on the same question in which expressions similar to those quoted by me will be found. We know that there was some communication with the Home Government when the Secretary of State for the Colonies issued a despatch dealing with the provision to be made for the residences of the Governor- General in New South Wales and Victoria, and prior to that despatch the Parliament of New South Wales, evidently acting upon some understanding, passed a Bill providing for a contribution by the State to the expenses of the Governor-General. The Parliament of New South Wales believed that the Governor-General was to reside in Sydney, and everything was directed to that end. Through every act that was performed by persons in authority - by the Parliament, by the State Governor, and by the Secretary of State for the Colonies - the people of New South Wales had held out to them the expectation that, for a certain time at least, the Governor-General would reside in Sydney.
– Solely in that State ?
– No, for a certain time only.
– But they had no such impression prior to the second referendum.
– I do not know that the referendum has anything to do with this particular promise. The people accepted the Constitution because they thought thatNewSouth Wales was tohavethefederal capital located within her territory. The people of that State will feel that they have a substantial grievance if the arrangement which they believed to have been entered into is not carried out. They have spent large sums of money in fitting up Governmenthouse as a residence for the GovernorGeneral, and they will have just reason to complain if we do not keep faith with them. If it were open to me to decide from the beginning, I should be strongly opposed to the maintenance of two residences for His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. I should much prefer one residence for His Excellency, and that adequate provision should be made for him to travel through the whole of the States. His occasional presence in the various cities would help materially to strengthen the federal feeling. The States which are more remote from the centres of federal activity do not receive many visits from those in authority and those who represent authorityin the Commonwealth, and in this way federal influence is weakened. I regard the proposals of’ the Government generally as just and reasonable, and as economical to an extent which will meet with the approval of honorable members. I shall, therefore, cordially support them.
– The views expressed by the honorable member for Darling Downs would lead to the conclusion that for all time there must be a GovernorGeneral’s residence in Sydney. Nothing else will meet the logic of his arguments, because he has told us that in his view there has been a compact or agreement made - by whom we do not know, and when and where we are not told. The details of this agreement are delightfully vague and nebulous, and all that the honorable member can tell us is that it was made at some place by some one. Does any one believe that it was ever supposed that Sydney should be the sole place of residence for the GovernorGeneral for all time? Yet this is the conclusion that my honorable and learned friend desiresus to indorse. We are asked to believe that it was agreed that the residence of the Governor-General should be in New South Wales, and that is the bargain which my honorable and learned friend says could be enforced in a court of law.
– No ; I did not say that. The honorable and learned member is mixing up two entirely different questions.
– I should like to know if any court would compel the GovernorGeneral to live in any particular State. This matter ought to be determined upon other grounds. than those advanced here tonight. The Government have done right in asking for an expression of opinion from honorable members as to their desires with regard to the basis upon which the GovernorGeneral’s establishment shall be founded. We are asked under the terms of the motion to say that two Governmenthouses shall be maintained at an annual expenditure of £5,500. The Acting Prime Minister has very fairly, and very properly, put it to us that, until they obtain an expression of opinion from honorable members, the Government will not be in a position to inform the Home Government as to what the future Governor-General may expect, and therefore it is right that they should bring down their proposals at the earliest possible moment.
– I am prepared to add to the motion words providing that it shall apply during the term of office of the next Governor-General.
– That may be in perfect keeping with the view which the Acting Prime Minister has presented, but I do not agree with it. It goes further than I am disposed to follow, but it is a fair proposal to make to the House, and the Government are adopting a proper method of procedure. Speaking for myself, however, I am not disposed to go further than to ratify the bargain which has been actually made by the Government. Ministers ought to be supported to the extent to which they have committed the honour of the Commonwealth in the bargain made with the New South Wales Government up to the end of the year 1903. I am prepared to support them thus far, but beyond that I am not going, because I cannot see where we should be able to stop. If we adopt the suggestion of the Acting Prime Minister, and limit the operation of the motion to the term of office of the next Governor-General, we might reasonably be called upon afterwards to continue the arrangement for all time. Why should not the Governor-General following enjoy the same advantages as were conferred upon his immediate predecessor? Our friends from New South Wales have taken up a position which we scarcely expected them to adopt. If they had argued that the Governor-General could not perform his duties without a residence in Sydney, I could understand their point. I am not, however, disposed to agree with them that because
Sydney is said to be the greatest city in Australia, and more wealthy and important and more fortunate than any other we should call upon the other less fortunate States to contribute to its still further aggrandizement. We should be careful to see that there is only one establishment for the Governor-General in Australia. I may not be here when the time comes to carry out that view, but I think that it would be distinctly improper to have a Governor-General’s establishment in either Melbourne or Sydney, when the federal capital is established. I should be opposed to any such proposal. At the same time, I do not think that, even in view of the revilings Victoria has received at the hands of the honorable member for Dalley - who has done more to damage the cause of New South Wales than any other honorable member in this Chamber - we should depart from the strict path of duty by failing to support the Government in carrying out the compact into which they have entered with the Government of New South Wales. There would, however, be no justification for asking Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland to’ help in maintaining an unnecessary establishment for the Governor - General in another State. The Governor - General has to visit other parts of the Commonwealth, and when he goes to Perth, or Brisbane, or Hobart he is able to make adequate arrangements for his comfort and for carrying out his duties. Surely similar provision can be made in Sydney for housing him as becomes his position. T can see no reason, therefore, for making any distinction in favour of either Sydney or Melbourne. Only one sound reason has been advanced for the maintenance of a second establishment for the Governor-General, and that is that a compact has been made with the New South Wales Government for a period of three years, ending in December, 1903. That is a valid ground for supporting the Government to that limit, but I must decline to carry the matter any further. Upon one side will be found some honorable members who take that view, and upon the other those who do not. Everything, however, will centre round this question - “ What justification is there for expending Commonwealth money in the establishment and maintenance of a needless GovernorGeneral’s establishment?” I do not believe that New South Wales is very rauch concerned in the maintenance by the Commonwealth of the vice-regal residence in Sydney. I think that the people of that State are worthy of every proper consideration, and that they are above entertaining the petty considerations with which they have been credited.
– I cannot support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, because I do not agree with what has been said by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The latter has, with his usual fairness, put the view that if the Ministery enter into a compact we are bound to abide by it. But I would point out that there are limits to compacts imposed by the Constitution. It is not for us to ratify agreements made outside of the provisions of that Constitution. If the Ministry had entered into compacts with the Government of New South Wales, an d with the Governments of the other States, to provide a residence for the GovernorGeneral in each of them, surely the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs would not argue that we should be bound to abide by them. ‘ They are not prescribed by the Constitution. Whilst I should be prepared to support any action of the Ministry, which, upon a fair construction, is in accordance with the constitutional powers that they ought to administer, I will not be bound by every foolish compact into which they may enter. I decline to have my judgment forestalled bv any executive act. The Ministry ought not to have entered into the arrangement revealed. In addition to that, the Government of New South Wales ought to have known what the Constitution prescribed. For that additional reason, we are under no moral obligation to support this compact. It must have been known that it was purely provisional, and the Government of New South Wales were very foolish to attempt to forestall our judgment by an expenditure ©f £20,000, because they must have known that to extend the residences of the Governor-General was not one of the powers regularly arising under the Constitution. Surely the essence of the prescription in the Constitution is that the seat of Government shall be where Parliament is sitting. I am aware that it is not expressly declared that Parliament must sit at the seat of Government. All that is set out is that until it meets at the seat of Government, Parliament shall sit in Melbourne. But, although it is not expressly stated, we know that it is implied that the moment we have a permanent seat of Government the Parliament and the Executive must be located there. It might suit the convenience of Ministers to have a second seat of the Executive in Sydney for five or six months during the year, lt might suit the Prime Minister, who comes from New South Wales, to remain there for several months each year, and have the Governor at his elbow. But we are not bound to bring about such conditions for the convenience of Ministers. If we agree to the principle laid down in this motion, we may have one set of Ministers in Victoria, and another in New South Wales. Was that ever intended 1 In the very resolutions adopted by the Premier’s’ conference, the words “seat of Government” were not used. The word “capital” was used to indicate the seat of the Executive and of Parliament. Where is the capital now? Undoubtedly it is in Melbourne, and the Executive ought to be here. All Ministers should be here. They must accept the temporary inconvenience which attaches to their positious. We should be placing ourselves in an exceedingly false position if we allowed the Treasurer and the Attorney-General to administer their departments in Melbourne, two other members of the Government to perform their duties in Sydney, and the Postmaster-General to control his department from Brisbane. We should have to get an ambulatory GovernorGeneral, put him in a balloon, and members provide him with gas. There is another aspect of this question, namely, “ Should we be quite considerate to the Governor-General himself under the proposal of the Government?” The sum of £2,000 is a very small one to vote for the upkeep of the Sydney Government-house. It almost approaches to parsimony. I do not begrudge the expenditure of that amount, but if we compel His Excellency to reside in Sydney during five or six months of ‘ the year, we shall increase the sum which he will be required to pay out of his salary of £10,000. If he has to reside for a certain period in Sydney, he will certainly have to reciprocate the courtesies extended to him, and thus we shall increase, if we do not duplicate, the number of entertainments which he will be called upon to provide. What will follow? Simply added prestige to New South Wales.Surely the prestige for what it is worth ought to belong to the Commonwealth. Under the Government proposal, it is true that a few more social coteries would be entertained, but that will mean a considerable increase in the private expenditure of the GovernorGeneral . He cannot remove his necessary attendants without incurring an outlay above that which he would be called upon to bear if he resided in only one Governmenthouse. Considering that we have cut down the allowances of the GovernorGeneral almost to the bolder of niggardliness, we ought not to add to his expenditure. For that reason I cannot support the duplication of the Vice-Regal establishment. I admit that any obligations imposed upon the Commonwealth by the Premiers’ conference should be carried out as speedily as. possible. Personally, I regret that the Federal capital cannot be established in Sydney. In regard to that matter I entertain so very little feeling, that if a proposition were made to-morrow to amend the Constitutionby cancelling the 100 miles limit provision, I should support it. It was an exceedingly bad condition to impose, and originated only in the petty rival jealousies of two of the States. The Constitution has been somewhat marred by that provision, which emanated from the narrow parochialism of certain persons in Victoria and New South Wales - a parochialism which is shared by politicians more than by the people. I object to the duplication of the Vice-Regal establishments, not because of the expenditure involved, but because it is unnecessary and inexpedient, and is not an obligation cast upon us by any compact which we ought to respect.
– In listening to this debate, the one point which has struck me is that those who support the Government proposal urge that as it does not constitute a very great lapse from the path of economy, we might very well sanction it, especially as we have the assurance that the mistake will not be repeated. I cannot accept any such excuse for a departure from what, to my mind, involves a very important principle, namely, that theGovernor-General’s residence shall be established at the seat of Government. I do not concede that any other arrangement was ever intended by the people of Australia when they expressed themselves as willing to join the
Commonwealth. As far as Western Australia is concerned, it comes with a great deal of surprise to myself and others to discover that proposals were made of such a definite nature as those which have been placed before Parliament in regard to the establishment of the Governor-General in Sydney. I have to ask myself only one or two simple questions in order to arrive at a decision upon this matter. The first is, “Do the people of New South Wales as a whole really demand that His Excellency should spend a portion of his time in their capital?” I cannotfindanyevidencethattheydo. Neither can I discover that the people of Sydney, as a whole, are anxious that that course should be followed. Then I have to ask myself whether, if the question were put to him, any Governor-General would prefer to remain in any one city during a portion of the year, and to spend the balance of his time in another? I can understand that he would be naturally anxious to visit different parts of the Commonwealth, but I feel certain that he would emphatically declare that he would be better circumstanced if he were required to maintain only one ViceRegal establishment. Therefore, I fail to discover that any useful purpose will be served by the adoption of the Government proposal. We have heard a great deal about the maintenance of a federal spirit requiring the proposed arrangement. But would not the maintenance of that spirit cover similar proposals with regard to the other States ? If we are to provide two residences for the Governor-General, why should we not provide six ? No reason has been alleged why we should be restricted to two. Of course we are told that Sydney and Melbourne are the two populous cities of the Commonwealth. If the claim of a State to have the GovernorGeneral residing there is to depend upon its population, surely all the States are entitled, in greater or lesser degree, to that privilege, though, perhaps, in the case of a sparsely populated State, like Western Australia, we might have to be content with having the Governor-General’s court dress sent over to us now and again. We hope that the Governor-General will visit us occasionally, and that the members of this Parliament will come, too. But we shall not worry very much if no special expenditure is voted to provide for his or their accommodation, and if they come they will experience no inconvenience because of that fact. I do not see my way to support the proposal of the Government, because I have heard no good reasons for voting against that economical administration which it is claimed is part of the federal policy, and which, I am sorry to sa)*, has not been so much in evidence since this Parliament met as I think it should have been.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).The honorable member for Perth says that no good reasons have been advanced why a residence for the Governor-General should be provided in Sydney. To my mind very strong reasons have been urged why he should be provided with a residence there, but the trouble is that those reasons apply with almost equal force to all the other cities of Australia. It has been said, for instance, that Sydney is a very nice place to live in, and lias a very fine climate ; but there are many hundreds of thousands of square miles of country in Australia which enjoy just as good a climate. I suppose it may be assumed that Parliament will sit in Melbourne during the winter, and be in recess during the summer, and that the Governor-General will, during the session, reside in Melbourne. But would it be humane to freeze him in Melbourne during the winter, and to boil him in Sydney in the summer? It has also been urged by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs and others that the GovernorGeneral should reside in Sydney’ because of the strong anti-federal spirit there.
– As a sort of soothing syrup?
– Yes. But is there not a much greater need for the administration of such a syrup in other parts of the Commonwealth - for instance, in Brisbane, where no very violent Federal spirit is being exhibited at the present time? The honorable member for Dalley has pointed out that many acts of the Commonwealth Government have created great irritation in Sydney, and that the presence of the Governor-General there would allay that irritation. But I point out that there is a similar irritation in all the States, and that his argument applies to Adelaide and Brisbane quite as much as to Sydney. Another reason advanced is that there are more people in Sydney than in any other city in Australia; but it would be more reasonable to send the Governor-General and his family to Adelaide or to Perth, I where the population is not so large, and their presence would be more- noticeable.
– And the person selected as Governor-General should have a good big family.
– Yes; from that point of view. Then, again, Sydney is said to be wealthier and more important than the other cities. But if, as appears to be the case, she is suffering from an embarrassment of riches, that seems a good reason for expending this money in other parts of the Commonwealth which are not so well off. I would remind the representatives of New South Wales that the President of the United States resides only at the Whitehouse in Washington, and that no claim has been made by the people of New York, or by the people of Chicago, ,to have official residences established there because of their wealth and greater population. Lastly, we are told that the Government are committed to this expenditure. But it is Parliament that has to decide what money shall be expended in providing for the Governor-General’s accommodation, and I do not think we should recognise any compacts which have been entered into without our consent. What the people of New South Wales were chiefly concerned about was that the Governor - General should land first at Sydney, and that the inauguration of the Commonwealth should be proclaimed there. They got that, and Sydney had her great day of glorification. All Australia journeyed there to help her make holiday, and was, treated right royally. But the proposal to keep up a residence for the Governor. General in Sydney is merely an attempt to feed parochial vanity. It has been said that if the people of New South Wales had known that they would not get this concession, they would not have joined the Union ; but I cannot believe that. Surely they do not grudge Victoria the presence ‘ of the Governor-General in Melbourne for the few years during which Parliament must continue to sit here, until the Federal capital is .built. The Constitution provides that the federal, capital shall be in New South Wales, and no one has objected to that provision . The other States might have claimed the privilege, but they did not trouble to do so. I shall vote for the maintenance of only one Government-house. I am glad that the Government have decided to deal with this matter, because it was unfair that a certain sum should be set down as the salary of the Governor-General, when that amount was not absolutely at his disposal. If the salary provided is too big, it should be cut down ; but whatever is given should be a clear salary.
– At this late hour I do not intend to take up the time of the committee at any length ; butI feel that it is a pity that the matter has occupied the attention of honorable members at all. It will be seen from the correspondence which was laid on the table of the House to-day by the Acting Prime Minister, that the Minister for Home Affairs, when Premier of New South Wales, suggested to the Colonialoffice that, as the Federal Parliament would meet in Melbourne, it was desirable to determine that the, official residence of the Governor-General should be in Sydney when Parliament was not sitting. Mr. Chamberlain, in reply to that representation, said that he had no objection to the arrangement if the federating States agreed to it, if the Federal Government when it came into existence approved of it, and if the necessary provision were made to carry it out. As a matter of fact, however, the federating States did not agree to it, and the Federal Government, in failing to act on the suggestion of Mr. Chamberlain to obtain the opinion of Parliament on the subject at the earliest moment, have caused all the trouble which has occurred in the past, and the discussion which has taken place to-day. Personally, I feel rather in a difficulty. I in no way object to the amount the Government are asking for in this resolution. I think the sum proposed is very reasonable indeed ; nor do I object that that money should be expended both in Sydney and in Melbourne. But I feel that we as a Parliament should be very careful to do nothing by which it might seem to be incumbent upon the Governor-General to maintain two establishments. With the greatest possible readiness I shall be prepared to give the amount of money asked for in this resolution, in addition to the £10,000 provided in the Constitution as the salary of the Governor-General, but I desire that there should be the clearest understanding that the Govern or- General is expected to have only one establishment, and that he can reside elsewhere as may be convenient to himself. Of course, I realize that in practice the Governor- General will reside in
Melbourne when Parliament is in session, and that he will reside in Sydney for the most part when Parliament is not sitting, but I think honorable members should be very careful indeed not to affirm that there should be two Government residences, because if any affirmation of that kind is made, we may depend upon it that the amountasked for to-night will be only a part of the amount which will be asked for in future years.
– Any one who has followed the debate to-night must have thought that the people of New South Wales are simply yearning to have the Governor-General amongst them, and that as a matter of fact they came into the Federation only on the understanding that he should reside in that State for a certain time.
– They may yearn that an undertaking should be carried out.
– I think that the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. G lynn, is the correct one, and the committee should take it seriously into consideration. The whole desire seems to be that, because certain members of the Government are residents of New South Wales, the location of the executive authority should be divided between New South Wales and Victoria, merely to suit the convenience of those Ministers. It appears to me that honorable members of this committee, as well as Ministers, should be considered. Some honorable members, owing to the peculiar position in which they are placed, have been forcedpractically to abandon their homes and reside in Melbourne. If the executive authority is to be divided, and some Ministers are to reside in Sydney, while others reside in Melbourne, and probably one in Brisbane, honorable members in conducting the business of their constituents may have to be chasing Ministers all over the Commonwealth. That is not a desirable state of affairs. When we have the federal capital established, I presume that it will be regarded as the place of residence of the Governor-General and the seat of government. But until the federal capital is established Melbourne should be accepted as the capital for the time being, and the Governor-General should reside here and nowhere else. On these grounds I intend to vote against any proposal for the establishment of a second residence for the Governor-General. I shall do so, though I would personally prefer that Parliament should sit in Sydney. Though a native of Victoria, I prefer New South Wales to this State. Apart from these considerations I am against this increase of £5,500. I think that the £10,000 a vear should be sufficient to cover the whole expense. We are told that it was never expected that the Governor-General should meet all expenses out of the £10,000 a year salary. But I am of opinion that the general impression was - at all events it was so in Queensland - that the£10,000a year was to cover all expensesin connexion with the GovernorGeneral’s establishment, just in the same way that it was generally expected that £400 a year was to cover the expenses of honorable members in attending this Parliament. If the salary of £10,000 is not sufficient for the Governor-General, and it is proper that the Government should make further provision, it would be right on just the same grounds that they should meet ‘the expense of house rent, fuel, and light incurred by members of the Federal Parliament. I do not say that I believe that that should be done, but that it would be a logical thing to do if it is right that it should be done for the GovernorGeneral. I protest .that all through these proceedings the Government have attempted to keep something back. The whole matter is kept practically in the dark for eighteen months, and then we are informed that certain compacts have been entered into. I think that is wrong, and hope a similar state of affairs will not occur again. Nearly every honorable member who has spoken to-day has complained on this account, ,but not one seems to be prepared to take any further action. These matters, though small in themselves, may lead to the House being asked to approve transactions of a much more important character, simply because the Government have given promises in some secret way.
– I feel impelled to vote with the Government upon this matter, notwithstanding the very weighty speeches we have heard in opposition, and especially from the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. Both those honorable and learned members appear to have ignored the true position. It is clear that the Executive of the Commonwealth has entered into a distinct bargain with the State of New South Wales. We cannot ignore that fact. I fully admit that the Government have been to blame. They possibly should have told honorable members much earlier what they were doing. But upon that point I would remind honorable members that they are constantly asking questions upon paragraphs appearing in the press. If I may be permitted to say so, I think that this practice is too generally adopted. No sooner do honorable members see a paragraph in a newspaper affecting some portion of their States than they immediately come forward with a question. It has been well known for some time that the Governmenthouse in Sydney was prepared for the Governor-General, and that a separate building was provided by that State for the State Governor, and yet no question upon the subject has been asked in this House, and no pressure has been brought to bear upon the Government in the matter. Honorable members are now complaining of secrecy, and that the Government have not taken the House into their confidence. I might ask why the honorable member for Kennedy did not come forward with questions upon the subject night after night, as he would have done if the matter affected the kanaka question, the question of the pearl-shelling industry in Torres Straits, or the number of Italians introduced into his State. If the honorable member felt this to be such a burning question, why did he not bring it before the House night after night in order that the hand of the Government might be forced 1 I think it would be a very serious thing for the committee to ignore a distinct compact made by our Executive authority with the Executive of New South Wales. Undoubtedly the Commonwealth is passing through troubled waters. There has been a great deal of friction, and if we now ignore the action of our Executive from some fear of constituting a precedent, deciding whether the Governor-General shall live hereafter in one or more States, we shall emphasize the feeling of irritation which I fear already exists in New South Wales. In answer to the honorable member for Perth, I would remind him that the people of New South Wales did vote money through their State Parliament, the only voice with which they can speak, in order that the Governor-General might live in Sydney during a portion of the year.
– That vote was disapproved of in many quarters.
– That may be said with regard to the decisions of any Parliament. The New South Wales Parliament was theonly voice through which the opinions of the electors could be expressed at that time, and they voted money for the maintenance of the Governor- General’s establishment in Sydney. As the acting leader of the Opposition has stated, it would be humiliating for this Parliament, and for the Governor-General, if New South Wales, upon finding that this Parliament refused to supply the necessary money, were to undertake to maintain at their own cost an establishment for the GovernorGeneral in Sydney. I ask honorable members to consider the question from that aspect. I listened very carefully to the arguments adduced by honorable members, and I was very much influenced by the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable and learned member for South Australia, . Mr. Glynn, but we have staring us in the face the fact that if we do not agree to support the Government in this matter we shall be accused of a breach of faith.
– I desire to propose an amendment omitting from the motion the words “ and upon the Federal Executive Council of £1,925 a year.” I do not see any necessary relation between the Governor-General’s establishment and the Federal Executive Council, and there is no more reason why we should express our approval of this proposed expenditure than that we should sanction expenditure in the department of Home Affairs.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I have a prior amendment. I move -
That the motion be amended by the omission of the figures “ £5,500,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ £3,101.”
My object is to omit from the motion the provision for the maintenance of a second establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney.
– I desire to say a word or two with regard to the general motion before the committee, and particularly in reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta. Honorablemembers will understand that the amendment of the honorable member for Kennedy would not only omit the provision for the maintenance of Government-house in Sydney, but would also prevent us from keeping the engagement into which we have entered with the Government of New South Wales up to the end of next year. I trust that whatever views honorable members may entertain as to the expediency of continuing the occupation of Government-house in Sydney, they will at no time be willing to throw upon the hands of the Government of New South Wales, who have treated us so generously, the building which they have placed at our disposal, and for which they have provided an expensive substitute as a residence for the State Governor. I propose to add to the motion the words, “during the term of office of the next Governor-General.” The Governor-General is appointed practically for five years, and the object of bringing this matter before the committee at present is to enable the Secretary of State for the Colonies to communicate to the gentleman to whom the position of Governor-General may be offered the conditions which willattach to his occupancy of the office. The honorable member for Parramatta will see that it is for this reason that the alteration proposed to be made in the provision for the Executive Council is here introduced. Hitherto we have been content to pay a nominal sum to the officer who has discharged the duties of Clerk of the Executive Council. The work attaching to that office is of the most responsible character, although comparatively simple. It includes the safe custody of the. records, and attendance at the meetings of the executive, and precision in the entries is the chief requirement. In addition to that, it has been the practice to rely upon some member or members of the Governor-General’s staff to carry out a number of transactions of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth. Every communication from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Commonwealth Government, or from the Government to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or through him to any of his colleagues, or to the representatives of any foreign power, or the other great dependencies of the Empire, requires to be intrusted to some member of His Excellency’s staff. The Governor-General chooses his staff for his own reasons, sometimes on account of relationship, and in other instances because of his desire to have about him gentlemen with whom he has already established friendly relations. I have no desire to criticise the Governor-General’s choice, but it is undesirable, and on some occasions very unsatisfactory, that the business of the Commonwealth should be intrusted to those who are attached to His Excellency’s staff. We may be compelled to rely for the safe despatch, and for the coding and decoding of important telegrams relating to the Commonwealth, upon some young gentleman who, whilst being actuated by the best intentions in the world, has his mind occupied by social engagements. In Canada it has been found desirable to separate these functions from those which more properly belong to the members of His Excellency’s staff, and intrust them to an officer directly employed by the Government. We therefore propose that the office shall be altered from that of Clerk to the Executive Council to that of Secretary of the Executive Council. In the custody of this officer will be placed the whole of the despatches, confidential and general, which pass between this Government and any other governments, and he will be held responsible for their despatch and for their coding and decoding where necessary.
– Why should this provision be made here ?
– Because it is necessary that the future Governor-General should know that he will not be required to make provision on his staff for oneor other of the aides-de-camp by whom these duties have hitherto been discharged. For obvious reasons it is difficult to discuss this matter in detail, but I have already told honorable members that on one occasion a loss of some thousands of pounds was caused by an unintentional error on the part of an amiable young gentleman who was called upon as aide-de-camp to a Governor to deal with an important despatch. Other instances might be cited in support of the change proposed.
– Will this officer be on the staff of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral?
– Not in this capacity ; he will be an officer of the Commonwealth, although he will be associated with His Excellency in a most confidential manner.
– Is it not a fact that the Government will provide in this way for the private secretary to His Excellency the Governor-General ?
– No; His Excellency will have his own private secretary, who will be a member of his personal staff.
– Could it not be explained to His Excellency that the members of his staff would have nothing to do with the work of the Executive Council?
– It is necessary for us to provide for the payment of this responsible officer, who, although he will be on the most confidential terms with His Excellency, will be in this position entirely independent of the Governor-General’s staff, and directly responsible to us.
– Cannot the Governor- General be informed of that without our being called upon to pass this motion ?
– One of the matters to which attention was called in the original despatches from the Secretary of State for the Colonies was that in Canada an arrangement similar to that now proposed had been made, and had been found advantageous both to the GovernorGeneral and to the Government. It is necessary to inform the new Governor-General of the change now proposed, so that he can make his own arrangements.
– What is the £325 provided for ?
– That is for the payment of the officer whom we have at present. It is his duty to perform all kinds of clerical work, including typewriting, the making ing of duplicates of telegrams and various other documents.
– He must have a mighty lot to do.
– He is very well occupied. I had much the same impression as the honorable member, but on inquiry found that this officer’s time was amply occupied. Ithink that the criticism of the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, was an excellent one, and beg to assure him that there is no desire on the part of the Government to imply that the Governor-General is required to undertake anything more in connexion with his establishments than his own good judgment may induce him to think necessary. We do not desire to convey any impression that we wish to involve the GovernorGeneral in any additional expense. He will be informed that, in addition to the Governmenthouse at Melbourne, there will be another residence available for him in Sydney, which is rent free, and for which we find the necessary maintenance money, so that when he thinks it necessary to go to Sydney he may have a fitting house at his disposal. I agree with the honorable member for South Australia that there should be nothing that would imply any obligation.
An Honorable Member. -Will the GovernorGeneral appoint this officer ?
– Certainly not.
– Is Captain Wallington to be selected?
– So far as I am personally concerned, I should very strongly favour the appointment of Captain Wallington, because he has a greater knowledge of Australia, of the duties of the office, the functions of our Governors, and of our constitutional practice, than any one else of whom I know.
– Hear, hear - an excellent man.
– Personally, I shall be prepared to justify the selection of Captain Wallington for the position, but at present we are making provision for the office, and not for the man. I trust that what I have stated will induce the honorable member for Parramatta notto press his amendment, and that the honorable memberfor Kennedy, will also withdraw his proposal. I shall be prepared as soon as possible to move the amendment indicated. This will limit the operation of the motion, and doubtless at the end of the term specified, or perhaps before then, the whole question will be reconsidered in view of the early establishment of the federal capital.
SirWILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I think that the honorable member for Parramatta has taken the right course. We are not dealing with the schedule submitted by the Government, which I understand to have been presented solely for our information. We are called upon to vote the amount proposed in a lump sum, and I do not see any objection to that. We understand, of course, that when we discuss the items we may reduce one amount and correspondingly increase another if we think they need adjustment. It would be difficult at this stage to say how much should be voted upon each item for the Governor-General’s establishment. We are in a different position, however, in dealing with the proposed votes for the Federal Executive Council, That matter should be treated in detail, and each item should be discussed on the Estimates.
– So they will be.
– Yes ; but if we pass this vote now we shall practically sanction the expenditure and leave it to the Government to carry out the details. The argument of the Minister is weak, because if we separate the expenditure upon the Executive Council from the allowances to be made to His Excellency for the maintenance of his establishments, there can be no necessity for incorporating the former items in this motion. It would be very easy for the Government tosay to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that the Governor-General is not expected to pay for any of the duties performed in connexion with the work of the Executive Council. Mr. Chamberlain could easily be informed that a secretary to the Executive would be appointed, and that the whole of the expenditure connected with the Governor-General’s establishment is contained in the other items. Accordingly, I shall support the honorable member for Parramatta should he persevere with the amendment which he has indicated. I am extremely sorry that the honorable member for Kennedy intends to divide the committee upon this question. I think that less feeling would be excited, and that it would be more conducive to the dignity and magnanimity of this Chamber if we allowed a matter in which another State is interested, and concerning which the weight of argument is in favour of carrying out the distinct compact made by the Government, to pass upon the voices.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).After the speech of the Attorney-General, I am more determined than ever to press my proposal. The honorable gentleman succeeded in showing the absolute folly of appointing a highly salaried officer as secretary to the Executive Council, because when I asked him what were the duties of the subordinate officer who is to receive a salary of £325 a year, he replied that the latter would have to do the work.
– He will have to do the copying and typewriting.
– Then I submit that the secretary of the Department for External Affairs should be able to do all the additional work that is required to be done. Surely he is the man who should undertake the confidential work. He should have charge of the strictly confidential documents which have been referred to, just as the undersecretaries have in all the States at the present time.
– In New South Wales there is a secretary to the Executive Council who receives the same salary.
– Yes ; but he has not a clerk to do the work for him, as the Attorney-General proposes. I am not quarrelling with the appointment, but I do say that it ought not to be mixed up with the Gevernor - General’s establishment. With regard to the confidential work, I repeat that it could well be undertaken by the private secretary to the GovernorGeneral, in conjunction with Mr. Atlee Hunt. If those officers cannot manage it we must surely be hard up both for ability and trustworthiness. Apart from that consideration, however, I submit that the item in question is an ordinary one which is connected with ordinary expenditure, and should therefore be discussed upon the Estimates.
– I am amazed that the honorable member for Parramatta should take exception to an officer who is to receive £600 a year having a clerk in receipt of an annual salary of £325 to do the work for him. Officers in receipt of more than £600 a year usually have a subordinate to do their work. They are merely engaged to do the “ bossing.”
Question - That the figures proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The committe divided.
Ayes … … … 23
Noes … … … 9
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words - “And upon the Federal Executive Council of £1,925 a year,” be omitted.
– In any case this matter will come before the committee again, when the Estimates are under consideration. Therefore, I do not intend to discuss it, beyond saying that it is a matter upon which the future Governor-General ought to be informed before he accepts office. He ought to know that he would not be expected to take upon his staff a person to discharge functions which, in the interests of the Commonwealth, should be -discharged by a Commonwealth officer.
– I wish to say in reply to the Attorney-General that he himself has told us that this secretary to the Executive Council will be directly under the control of the Government, and that the Governor-General will neither appoint him nor have anything to do with his appointment, nor have any responsibility whatever with regard to him - that it will be an ordinary executive appointment. As such it should be left over for consideration on the Estimates.
– It will be dealt with on the Estimates.
– I am surprised to see this item included on the schedule. I suggest that it is desirable that it should come before us on the Estimates.
– It will come before the committee on the Estimates.
– Then why place it here 1
– Because it is part of the information we wish to supply to the future Governor-General.
– Will he require to know that an officer will be appointed for this purpose ?
– Yes ; and that he need not include on his staff any person to perform these duties.
– That is a matter of information which can be afforded to the Governor-General without any resolution at this time. I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will reconsider the matter. The committee has dealt very generously with the proposals of the Government as a whole, and we are not asking too much when we request that this matter shall be eliminated from the resolution and dealt with as part of the ordinary estimates. I feel sure that if the Government are convinced that it is absolutely necessary that an officer shall be appointed for this work, Parliament will have no objection to voting an adequate sum of money.
– Why cannot we decide now as well as later on 1
– This is not the time when this committee should decide about making new appointments, and additions to the public service. We have been preaching economy, and endeavouring to cut down the expenditure of the Government, and surely it is not a fair thing that we should have an absolutely new appointment inaugurated upon a resolution, the object of which is quite distinct from what is now proposed. The object of the resolution is ostensibly for the settlement of the Governor-General’s establishment, and not for the appointment of a new officer, who is to be no part of the Governor-General’s establishment, but is to be an executive officer under the Crown, who is to be amenable to Parliament, and under the control and direction of Parliament, although for the purpose of convenience I presume that he will be lent to the Governor-General to perform certain duties which will come within the purview of the Crown’s representative. We are told that this officer is to be the Secretary to the Executive Council, because it is considered desirable that certain communications which have to pass between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government should not be in the hands of an irresponsible and uncontrollable person, but that the officer who will have charge of them should be a Commonwealth officer. If that be so, it is not necessary that the officer should be especially mentioned as a member of the staff of the Governor-General, and provided for on his establishment. He should be provided for as part of the staff of the Executive Council. We have already provided means whereby officers can be paid who have work to do in connexion with the Executive Council, and I hope that the Government in order to preserve that somewhat overlauded uniformity of which we hear so much, will follow the usual course and have this officer’s salary placed upon the ordinary Estimates, and eliminate it from this resolution.
– I should like to say to the Acting Prime Minister that we are now asked to decide what is really a very different matter from the one that has been under discussion. We are obviously asked to provide an officer whose duty it will be to act as secretary to the Executive Council, instead of our pursuing the existing practice of making an allowance to an officer already in the service for performing those duties. It may be that it may be found necessary to have a new officer. I shall regret it if it is so, because the Executive Council as a whole does not take up very much of the time of an officer, and whoever discharges these functions will have a clerk at £325 a year to’ assist him.’ It may be, however, that this separate officer will be necessary if the Federal Executive is going . to start upon a peripatetic career throughout the Commonwealth. But, at any rate, we are asked to determine whether an officer whose duties at present are discharged hy some one in the service, shall be appointed to perform those duties. I urge that that question is not involved in the question whether Parliament will provide funds for the carrying out of the duties of clerk to the Executive Council. That is taken for granted, but the question here is as to an alteration of the mode of carrying out the duties, and the consequent increase in the expenditure of the Commonwealth.
– The question really is whether we are to pay for a private secretary to the Governor-General.
– If the officer is to be a private secretary to the Governor-General he is wrongly described in these particulars. From whatever point of view we look at it we are not now settling the question whether the Commonwealth shall pay this man, or what amount the Commonwealth will pay him. Those are very different matters indeed.
– There seems to be some difference of opinion as to what the exact duties of this proposed new officer will be. I was under the impression that the officer proposed to be appointed would have a certain amount of work of a confidential nature to do in regard to the establishment of the Governor-General, between the Government and the Governor-General. If that be so, I take it that the officer would be distinct from a mere clerk to the Executive Council, whose sole functions would be the registering of decisions.
– That is correct.
– If that is so, it is of no use arguing that the officer will be one who will carry out the duties which the clerk of the Executive Council has previously had to do. He will be a distinct individual.
– Is it of any use arguing whether he could very well be done without ?
– That may or may not be so, but it is of no use confusing the position. I cannot say whether such an officer can or cannot be done without. Never having been a member of any Executive Council, I cannot say what necessity there is for having such an official. But I do say that, if the Ministry assure us that it is necessary, for the efficient working of the service, to have some such officer - and I am assuming that to bo correct, and can only take the word of Ministers in that regard - we have no right to sacrifice that efficiency to any false economy, so far as concerns £600 a year, or even £6,000 a year.
– Does the honorable member think that such an officer should be part of the Governor-General’s establishment?
– I do not understand that he is to be so altogether. The position that this officer will occupy is somewhat complicated, and for that reason it is hard to define whether he will be a portion of the Gpvernor-General’s establishment, or an ordinary member of the civil service.
– The AttorneyGeneral says that the Governor-General will have nothing to do with him.
– That is, I understand, as to his direction and control, but I understood the Acting Prime Minister some weeks ago, when laying this schedule upon the table, to say that the officer will have a great deal to do with the Governor-General.
– Some honorable members have obviously made up their minds to vote against this proposal without a sufficient appreciation of the interests involved. I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta, who has moved the amendment, safeguarded himself by saying that he would be quite prepared to consider the question upon its merits when the Estimates were being dealt with. His contention is that the expenditure should not be provided for here. My reply is that it should be here, not because it concerns the GovernorGeneral’s establishment, but because it is a matter of which future Governors-General should be informed. As I do not wish to prejudice the case by forcing it to a premature decision, I am willing to consent to the omission of the words “and upon the Federal Executive Council of £1,925.”
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the following words be added - “during the term of office of the next Governor-General.”
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- In order that I may have an opportunity of voting upon this question, without being placed in the position of voting to leave the arrangement one made for an indefinite period, I move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words - ‘ ‘ of office of the next GovernorGeneral “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ ending 31st December, 1903.”
That covers the term for which the arrangement has been made between the Federal Government and the States Governments.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- Do the Government consent to this amendment of the amendment ?
– Honorable members appear to be anxious to save themselves from having to give a vote against the Government, although they have disapproved of what the Government have done. They are, therefore, willing to ratify the agreement which has been made, up to the last minute for which the Government is pledged, but no further. This, I suppose, is an exhibition of what would be termed by honorable members opposite a fine federal spirit, though I can see only the most intense provincialism in such a pettifogging action. The agreement was made in good faith, and it ought to be kept. At the end of 1903, we shall be in the same difficulty as we are in now, though two years later we might be in a very different position. There will, however, probably be more bitterness imported into the discussion of the matter a year hence than we have had to-night, and more bitterness will probably be felt outside about the decision arrived at. Since the Government are committed to this arrangement, why seek to bring it to a conclusion perhaps a year before it can come to an end in the ordinary course of events ?
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the amendment - put.The committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Amendment of amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - as amended - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved - That an expenditure upon Governmenthouse of ?5,500 a year, as submitted in the statement ordered to be printed on the 7th instant, is approved during the term of office of the next Governor-General.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table
Report by the General Officer Commanding, in reference to the appointment of drill instructors in South Australia.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In submitting the motion, I beg to inform honorable members that after the disposal of the formal stages of the Royal Commission Bill to-morrow the business will probably be the Bonus Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 August 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020826_reps_1_12/>.