1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Sir EDMUND BARTON presented five petitions from certain electors of theHunter, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Mr. DEAKIN presented a similar petition from certain electors of Ballarat.
Mr. M AUGER presented x similar petition from certain electors of Melbourne Torts.
Mr. GLYNN presented a similar petition from certain electors of South Australia.
Sir LANGDON BONYTHON presented a similar petition from certain electors of South Australia.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH presented a similar petition from certain residents of Hobart.
Mr.V. L. SOLOMON presented three similar petitions from certain electors of South Australia.
Mr. BATCHELOR presented a similar petition from certain residents of South Australia.
– Has the Prime Minister made any arrangement, and, if so, what, for the performance of the duties of the Minister for Trade and Customs during the vacancy of that office?
– I have requested the Treasurer to perform the work of the office until an appointment is made.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Federal Government ; and, if so, does the PostmasterGeneral intend to carry on these unremunerative branches should the profitable ones be resumed by the State ?
Banks from the post-office to State buildings will lead to much public inconvenience, as well as to a diminution in the postal revenue, will the Postmaster-General endeavour to induce the Western Aiistraliau Government to reconsider their action ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. No ; provided the division of the States is determined at an early date.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia was asked yesterday by telegram for a full . report in connexion with the matters referred to, and as soon as a report is received a reply will be furnished.
In Committee :
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.
– Will the Attorney-General, in view of the great public importance of this measure, allow a fair interval of time to elapse between the delivery of his speech upon the second reading and the resumption of the debate 1 It is, of course, very important that his speech in explanation of the provisions of the measure should be delivered at the earliest moment possible, and go forth to the public together with the Bill itself, which did not become public property until the day before yesterday. I in no way desire to delay Government business, but I think that sufficient time should be given to honorable members and to the public to make themselves acquainted with the provisions of the measure before its second reading is dealt with. We have the Budget debate to go on with.
– There have been unavoidable delays in connexion with this -measure, and I therefore desire that no more time shall be lost than is absolutely necessary. I do not propose to ask the House to resume the second-reading debate until next week, nor to conclude the debate until the week following. I think, however, that there are a number of honorable members whose familiarity with the subject will enable them to commence the debate next week, and to continue it until such time as other honorable members who may desire a longer period for consideration are ready. The discussion of the Budget will be resumed next Tuesday.
– I should like to know what the administration of the proposed Bill is likely to cost ? If an expensive system is provided for, there are many of us who would like to suggest a cheaperway of carrying out its provisions.
– Any expense would be less than the cost of the strikes which the Bill will prevent.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member, but I think that the Ministry should let us know what, in their opinion, is the probable cost of the administration of the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Although ordinarily I should feel the responsibility of the charge of a measure of this kind, even if it were only temporary, as a sufficient reward for any labour involved, I cannot undertake it to-day without a feeling, which I am sure the House will share, of the deepest regret that it should be my lot to introduce this Bill instead of the light honorable member whose name has been associated with such measures from their very inception in Australia. No one more ardently wishes that the right honorable and learned gentleman had stood in his place to afford further evidence of his mastery of all that relates to this subject, though no further proof of his sincerity in the cause could be given in this or in any other fashion. But since it falls to me, and without that complete preparedness which I should desire, to step into the breach created, I will ask the House to look with an indulgent eye upon some of the drafting of the measure. My right honorable and learned friend had concerned himself with all the questions of substance and the main question of form, but he had, as is usual and practically inevitable, deferred his final revision of the Bill until all prior matters had been disposed of. The time at my disposal for performing that necessary task has been extremely short. I may therefore have to indicate a few clauses in which I think the sense can be more tersely or aptly expressed. But feeling as I did that this measure had already been postponed as much as was at all reasonable, I thought it better to lay it before the House immediately. Because, after ail, any changes that I have to propose will be few, will be small, and will relate only to drafting. I merely indicate the matter now, in order that it may not be supposed that some little obvious imperfections have been overlooked. The House will, perhaps, in this matter look fii-st at the charter of its authority. It will be found in sub-section (35) of section 51 of the Constitution. We are endowed with power to deal with this question in the following terms : -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of -industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Two or three important questions may arise in respect to this endowment ; first, as to whether the conciliation and the arbitration, both the prevention and settlement of disputes, are to be taken together. That is to say, whether the final provison, “ extending beyond the limits of any one State,” requires to be read as relating to the conciliation and prevention of disputes as well as to the arbitration and settlement. It undoubtedly relates to the arbitration and settlement. So far as I can judge, it also relates to prevention, but that is a matter open for argument, because it may be said that as the object was to deal with disputes extending beyond a State any preliminary step which may have the effect of preventing that dispute from arising at all might be taken under this sub-section. That is an extreme reading which I do not venture to adopt. The last words of this sub-section “extending beyond the limits of any one State” are, of course, very difficult to define with absolute exactitude. Every day light gives place to darkness, but the task of determining at what particular stroke of the pendulum darkness may be said to cease and light to begin, is a problem of another character. I believe that in Mohammedan countries it is determined by the moment at which one can distinguish a white thread from a black thread, and then the prayers of the faithful begin.
– That will depend on the eyesight.
– That, as the honorable member aptly says, will . depend on the eyesight.
– And on the opinion of the speaker.
– Without attempting to lay down any rule as to the precise instant at which any dispute may be said to extend beyond any State-
– It must exist in fact before it can extend beyond any State.
– Exactly, there can be no doubt about that.
– We are entitled to prevent.
– Before attempting to define that it has to be noted that these words of limitation “ extending beyond the limits of any one State/’ relate to the whole endowment of power, and are, therefore, repeated in the second clause of the Bill. By so repeating these words we, of course, do not add anything to, or take away anything from, the law already existing.
– The honorable and learned gentleman has not repeated them literally. The word “ prevention “ is left out.
– Because we speak of industrial disputes, that includes prevention. There has to be an industrial dispute, and we can therefore omit the former word withou? affecting the meaning of the sub-section, which is repeated. Practically these words- are placed here as several other phrases are placed in this measure, in order to call the pointed attention, in the first place, of the House in dealing with the measure, and hereafter of the public, in considering it, to the necessary limitation under which we legislate. In the definition in the sixth clause of “Industrial Dispute” we again repeat the words at its close “ extending beyond the limits of any one State.” So that it is made as plain as draftsmanship can make it that the whole of this measure and all pertaining to it relates only to those disputes with which under the Constitution we are qualified to cope. It may not be out of place to remark that those who have scanned the Bill will have seen that its Federal character obtains not only in consequence of that limitation, but by reason of the particular provisions which are made to enable the Federal tribunal here created to co-operate with local tribunals where they exist, and to be relieved by them of some of the duties cast upon it, where they are capable, to some extent, at all events, of being locally disposed of. Honorable members will find, also, the authority or privilege conferred upon States without such tribunals, or which already possess them, to utilize this Commonwealth creation. In all these aspects, therefore, the measure, drawn upon broad lines, is Federal in all its characteristics.
– Is the last aspect put by the Minister constitutional ?
– I take it that it is in all those cases in which disputes extend beyond any one State. If no authority at present exists in a particular State for such devolution it rests with its Parliament to take advantage of it or otherwise. At all events, we place it as far as possible beyond dispute that the intention is to create a court which will be able to work with and for the tribunals of the States, or for the States without tribunals.
– And not instead of such tribunals ?
– Yes, instead of the State tribunals in cases in which the State concerned so wills.
– The operation of the Bill is limited to disputes which extend beyond any one State, and therefore the provisions of the Bill must be read with due regard to the constitutional aspect.
– Necessarily. In regard to the authority we at once assume to ourselves, we have placed in the very forefront the Constitution limitations, whilst in respect to matters which may be considered beyond those limitations we take such power as can be exercised with the cooperation of the States. Consequently, we seek in this measure to prepare for all emergencies with which such a tribunal as this is now competent or may be made competent . to deal. Certainly, of industrial disputes, if of anything, it may be truly and wisely said that “ Prevention is better than cure.” If, hereafter, under the power of reference which they possess the States shall see fit to qualify this tribunal to act with or without their own tribunals - as they have undoubtedly authority to do under sub-section (37) of section 51 of the Constitution - we shall have such opportunities of prevention that, when added to the power of cure given in the Bill, they will probably enable us to establish throughout the Commonwealth an entirely effective means of dealing with industrial disputes extending beyond any one State or otherwise. It has been thought well to have that outlook for the future with the conciliation endowments already expressly conferred.
– Could a State Executive give the necessary authority without consulting Parliament?
– No. Sub-section (37) of section 51 provides -
Matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States, but so that the law shall: extend only to States by whose Parliament thematter is referred, or which afterwards adopt thelaw.
The States are left perfectly free to avail! themselves, or not to avail themselves, of the provisions of the Bill. But, at all events, we are here providing a tribunal which, as far as we could do so, is equipped with the necessary endowment.
– The Constitutiongives the States power to adopt the Federal statute.
– Yes, it does.
– Does not the order of leave limit the scope of the Bill to thesettlement of industrial disputes which) extend beyond the limits of any one State ?
– Yes; so far as we are concerned. But there is nothingcontrary to the principle of the Bill in providing that the States which, under the Constitution, have also a power of endowment, may exercise it.
– But can they exercise it. under the Bill ?
– No. But they can exercise it on their own motion under their own laws. I would ask honorable members, at the outset, to turn to clause 4 of the Bill, which, although it confers no power and is not, in fact, legislation, supplies, atthe very outset, a convenient summary of the whole measure, and expresses in very few words the pui-poses of the Bill by which it will be judged here and outside of this. House -
The chief objects of this Act are - (i.) To prevent lock-outs and strikes in rela tion to industrial disputes ; (ii.) To constitute a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration having; jurisdiction for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes ; (iii.) To provide for the exercise of the jurisdiction of the court by conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, between the parties ; (iv.) In default of . amicable agreement between the parties to provide for the exercise of the jurisdiction of thecourt by equitable award ; (v.) To enable States to refer industrial disputes to the court and to permit theworking of the court and of State industrial authorities in aid of each, other ; (VI..) To facilitate and encourage the organization of representative oodies of employers and employes and the submission ot industrial disputes to the court by organizations and to permit representative bodies of employers and employes to be declared organizations for the purposes of this Act ; (vii.) To provide for the making and enforcement of industrial agreements between employers and employes in relation to industrial disputes.
The whole plan, scope, and nature of the measure is outlined in that clause, and if honorable members will look at the definition of industrial disputes and industrial matters, which are practically parts of one interpretation, they will gather that the measure is drawn upon lines parallel to those with which some of the States are familiar. Still the provisions of the Bill possess a distinctive oharauter, besides covering at least as large an area as any State measure; taking into account always the Federal conditions under which we are legislating. Honorable members will see that our proposition is not that of South Australia, where there exists a Conciliation Court or Board, but no Arbitration Court, and not as in New South “Wales, where there exists an Arbitratio.n Court but no Conciliation Board. We provide for both conciliation and arbitration by means of the same tribunal. In Nesv Zealand and Western Australia there are Boards of Conciliation distinct altogether from the central tribunal. But where Conciliation Boards are separated from Arbitration Courts they are rarely resorted to, and have been able to achieve but little of that which was hoped from them. The main purpose of the Bill is to adopt methods of conciliation as far as possible. It has been made clear that the first duty of the court is conciliation. ‘ The parties who come before it will know that they will not be subjected to the cost of a double application first to the one body for conciliation and then to another body for arbitration, the second body being unaware of the proceedings before the first. All proceedings will be conducted by the one body, which will have a weight in bringing about an amicable agreement that no other body at present created can exert. If the powers of conciliation fail, the same court will take up the arbitration, and whatever investigation has been made will reduce the inquiry that is still necessary, and thus save expense.
This proposal of my right honorable and learned friend and late colleague constitutes, as it appears to me, one of the cardinal advantages of this Bill over any similar measure with which I have had an opportunity of comparing it. It makes for conciliation, and simultaneously it makes that conciliation real. It prevents conciliation from being the mere Casual resort of parties, and from being employed by any one of them for purposes of delay. It brings them to business at once, but at the same time, by preference, it pursues methods whieb will enable the parties themselves to settle their differences - with some assistance from impartial onlookers - without the necessitj’ for putting into operation the compulsory provisions of the law. Yet the compulsory power behind that conciliation will probably prove one of the most important factors in bringing . about many amicable agreements. In the absence of that power, the amicable agreements made elsewhere have been very few indeed. Perhaps, in strictly logical order, I ought first to have said that this measure legalizes provisions for the settlement of disputes which I think few in these days will fail to regard as most reasonable. It legalizes industrial agreements made between employers and employes quite independently of the court. It legalizes and registers them. Here again the very existence of such a court will form a strong inducement to considerable bodies outside of its judicial operations or even of its conciliatory intervention, to make as between themselves agreements in regard to the conduct of the particular trade or business in which they are engagedThen this Act will bind them.
– Are the agreements binding if they are not registered ?
– Industrial agreements, which are not registered, may be binding to a certain extent; but they require to be provided for in the Commonwealth, where as yet we have no law relating to that matter. But the great point is not merely that when such agreements are made they shall be binding, but that, under this Bill, they are enabled to be put in force in a much more efficient manner than they otherwise could be. That is the first advantage which this measure confers - a better opportunity of making industrial agreements, and an easier way of enforcing them when they have been made. We enforce industrial agreements which have been voluntarily made when they are registered under this Bill.. That is the first step, because in this connexion the court does not appear, though its very existence will undoubtedly exercise a great deal of influence in bringing about amicable agreements. After dealing with these perfectly optional and voluntary industrial agreements, which simply receive the sanction of the court, the Bill provides the procedure to be adopted by way of conciliation - by way of amicable agreement before the court. Then that tribunal intervenes simply for the purpose of bringing the parties together, pronouncing no judgment, but, by clarifying the issue, and enabling it to be considered in a temperate fashion, it facilitates the coming together of the opposing forces, and assists them to make, as between themselves, an amicable agreement, which is then registered by the court. Only after these two methods are exhausted do the compulsory provisions.of the Bill come into play. Then those who cannot hy conciliation settle their disputes between themselves are required, subject to the limitations of this Bill, to allow the terms of a settlement to be laid down by. an impartial tribunal, which hears both parties to the matter in dispute, and delivers a decision which is binding for some specified term within a particular area, or with any other qualifications that may be necessary to enable effect to be given to its decision, without undue interference with the conduct of the industry concerned.” That is as comprehensive a general sketch of the measure as I feel myself able to present to the House without unduly detaining honorable members. I do not seek to disguise from them in making these propositionsespecially in regard to the compulsory part of the Bill, which is the propelling power behind it, and without which it would be a mere expression of excellent intentions which would rarely be carried into effect - that to make this measure for conciliation and arbitration real, large powers are necessary, and, in some cases, those powers must be exercised. Nor do I wish to conceal from honorable members that any proposals of this nature would not only be regarded as novel in many parts of the world, but that they have made their advent to the legislative sphere only within a comparatively short period. Hitherto, individual has been pitted against individual, or numbers upon the one sideagainst a class or classes upon the other, while the only means of arriving at a. determination of the matters in dispute between the parties has been by recourse to force and strife. We now substitute a new regime for the reign of violence by endowing the State - which in itself possesses a strength greater than that of either or both of the contestants - with power to impose within the limits of reason, justice, and constitutional government, its deliberatewill upon the parties to industrial disputes. At- the present time we have unions of employers upon the one side and of employe’s upon the other. Up to this time they have- . practically been bodies whose purposes, have been beneficial in regard to their several members, but belligerent and hostile to one another. This measure proposes towork an entire transformation in them, and to convert them from contesting parties ranged in battle array into organized assistants by which the principles embodied in it shall be brought into play. Thus theunions of employers will no longer exist to wage war with the unions of employes, but each will study and prepare its cose, just as a. litigant does before a court of justice. Each will be responsible to its own membersfor its action, and also responsible for them - because the “ organizations,” as they are here termed, speaking of the unions both of employers and employes, are made agencies of the - court. We enlist in support of theprinciples of the Bill, not only the ordinary power of the State, but those unions, created by the contesting parties, hithertoused only in their own selfish interests -^-taking the word “selfish” in-its legitimatemeaning. They are no longer to be employed merely in their own interest, but also in the public interest as aids to the court and as means for giving effect to this measure. That transformation is important enough in itself, but even with the assistance of these organizations the task which confronts this House in the creation of this tribunal is. undoubtedly of a most momentous character - one which is not to be lightly undertaken, and one which when it is undertaken can never be relinquished. It marks the beginning of a new era in industrial matters, not only because of its main object, the prohibition of strikes and lock-outs, but because it brings into play a new force - the force of an. impartial tribunal with the Statebehind it - and by that means calls into- operation principles other than those which have hitherto acted upon organizations, or through them upon the industries affected. It must be at once clear that however much Parliament might desire to take into its own hands the immediate regulation of industrial affairs, and to provide for the suppression of their vendettas, it would be incompetent to do so, notwithstanding all its authority, by reason of the immense complexity of the task cast upon it. It would be incompetent to do so, because of the impossibility of drafting provisions, however well devised, so that they would meet all the contingencies, changes, and difficulties of different industries, which are subject in themselves to continuous alteration. We are touching some of the springs upon which the working of society depends. We are seeking to control them without interfering with what may be broadly described as legitimate business methods. Parliament is thus intervening in most critical and delicate operations. It is intervening in issues which do not ariseout of a society conceived, as it used to be conceived, as a machine of definite construction whose wheels always revolve in the same direction, if not always at the same rate, and in which the whole play of each part can be absolutely foreseen, and requires to be foreseen, in order that it may work exactly in the same manner day after day, year after year, and generation after generation. We realize now-a-days that society is a living organism in every sense of the term’. In all its capacities of adaptation, in its changefulness, and in its varieties of action, it partakes- of the nature of the living beings who compose it. They, too, are under the influence of various motives, inspirations and aims, passions, interests, and prejudices, and, although human history may be said to repeat itself, we find that it repeats itself with infinite variety, and never twice in quite the same fashion. The rigid provisions of legislation, therefore, must necessarily be ineffective in dealing with a living society. The only way to cope with the ever-changing, ever developing needs and forms of unfoldment in society and its industries is to create some authority of independent minds-, able to follow its workings so far as their knowledge and ability permit, and to assist its progress by adapting forces to foster growth, not once, but from time to time. The honorable member for Wentworth indicates thathe realizes the enormous complexity of that task. He indicates, also, some scepticism as to the ability of courts, even of this “type, to enable us to deal with the work. But, with all respect to his judgment, I would point out that history, after all, is not an entirely discouraging record. It does show us vast achievements, that must have appeared absolutely impossible to the people of former generations. We are accustomed now-a-days to what we term, as regards society, the reign of law. Our own remote ancestors, before the historic period, lived in a time in which private feuds and personal lawlessness prevented all possibility of social progress or political development. They were then in what may be termed the Papuan stage. They had reached the status of the natives living beyond the reach of white government, in our new dependency, where every little village is at war with every other village, and speaks its own dialect. In such conditions progress was impossible.
Mr.Reid. - There werenolawyers amongst them then.
– The appearance of lawyers marks one of the first stages in social development. It marked the laying aside of the lethal weapons of strife, which involve bloodshed, for the weapons of argument, the application of tradition, and of rule, by which the same disputes are settled, sometimes in an. expensive, but always in a less expensive and more satisfactory way than ever before. The history of our mother country discloses times when baronial wars were waged ; when each city required to protect itself ; when the justice that is now administered in our courts, imperfect as it may be, would have seemed an impossible social ideal, and when what came to be called the King’s Peace, which required citizens under the King’s control to submit their disputes to the adjudication of a legal tribunal, would have appeared just as impossible a dream as this does apparently to the honorable member for Wentworth.
– What have I said?
– The honorable member’s expression was quite sufficient. An interjection was unnecessary. In Sheridan’s play, Lord Burleigh by a single nod is supposed toconvey halfa page of comment.
– I have not given expression to any opinion in regard to this matter.
– In expression my honorable friend is no inferior to Lord Burleigh. The growth of the King’s Peace, which, after all, was the basis of the civilization we now enjoy, once appeared impossible, lt was a matter of State regulation such as this is. This Bill marks, in my opinion, the beginning of a new phase of civilization. It begins the establishment of the People’s Peace, under which the conduct of industrial affairs in the future may be guided. lt is not a matter of to-day or of to-morrow - of the success of a single measure or device. It is the introduction of a new principle, which, when it has found its proper means of working and of exerting its influence, will comprehend necessarily as great a transformation in the features of industrial society as the creation of the King’s Peace brought about in civil society. The one is the necessary complement of the other. Even those who mook and jeer at the legal profession will recognise that, imperfect as our legal system may be, it is a distinct gain to transfer to the realm of reason and argument those industrial convulsions which have hitherto involved, not only loss of capital, but loss of life, liberty, comfort, and opportunities of well-being. It is to avoid these losses that we are prepared to face the task which I am not now under-estimating. Let me point out that this measure, strong as it may appear, and strong as I believe it to be, has not been drafted or presented without a due sense of the immense difficulties by which it is likely to be confronted. The object of this measure is to prevent. strikes. Strikes and locks-out are familiar names, and were defined in the tersest and yet most expressive manner by one of the greatest captains of modern times - Von Moltke - when he said, “ War is destruction.” War is that, and nothing else - destruction of life, of property, of the means of happiness and progress. Lockouts and strikes equally involve destruction - destruction of labour, of machinery, of capital, of social relations and of social peace. The Bill makes a gallant effort to cope with these great evils of modern industrialism. Hitherto its battles have been regarded as wholly personal, and, so long as the police regulations of the community have not been infringed, have been fought out by the individuals and unions engaged in them without interference, the State acting, so .to speak, asstakeholder, and keeping a ring. It is proposed by the Bill to transform thewhole situation. Surely there is a justification for that. Can any strike or lock-out be” pointed to in which Only the persons engaged were the sufferers^’ Has it ever been possible to draw sucha circle round the combatants as to allow of the settlement of their differences, without peril and loss to the whole community? Is not the main justification for the action now proposed the fact that thewhole community has suffered again and again, and that thousands of persons, at first unrelated to a particular dispute, have been deeply and injuriously affected by its. continuance? Has it not been proved beyond question that every strike and lockout is a breach of social peace which meansdisorder, destruction, and loss ? For what does the State exist if not to maintain social order and, so far as possible, to> protect its innocent citizens ? In the interests not merely of the combatants,, but of the whole community, it is heresought to prevent and repress industrial strikes by the authority of the whole community. Hitherto, there has been but onemethod of dealing with, strikes and lockouts, and one inevitable result. The strongest party has always prevailed. The cause was not in question ; thematter in dispute was not weighed. Giveto one side numbers and means now, and it wins. The cause counts for nothing ; power counts for everything ; might makesright. Under the new system - and here isthe revolution - a different aim will operate. Might is not to make right. But. as soon as it can be discerned and determined,. right is to make might. The thought which has hitherto been set aside is now to bemade the determining factor of the situation. It will not be asked which side commands the greatest capital, the greatest number of hands, or the greatest number of” sympathizers, or can strike the community the most deadly blow to force its opponent into surrender.
– Does not. public opinion do that ?
– Public opinion alwaysoperates more or less, but only fitfully, uncertainly, and spasmodically. Public opinionwill be crystallized and expressed in the- provisions of this Bill. Here we have the introduction of a new test. The question will be, not which side has the might, but which has the right 1 What is the fair settlement of the particular dispute ? There is an enormous difference between the method of procedure proposed, and that which wonld be adopted if we sought, by rigid legislation, to cope with the ever changing conditions of an inconceivably complex society.
– The High Court will be a drab-coloured institution compared with the Arbitration Court.
– I hope that the High Court will lend the Arbitration Court efficient assistance. If my honorable friend employs the word “ drab “ to symbolize the least expensive colour, I hope that both institutions will clothe themselves with it, and that it will be found a good wearing hue. There will be no endeavour to settle disputes in anticipation. In this case, as in the administration of civil justice, particular disputes will be settled as they arise between particular parties. The parties will come before the. court, and, in most cases, only obtain the settlement of their particular dispute. But when it is seen that a difficulty is general, and that the principle applied to the solution of a particular dispute is capable of general application, a wider scope may be given to it, just as in law a decision given in one case is regarded as a precedent, and binds Judges in future litigation. The decisions of the Arbitration Court will always be framed in regard to the particular dispute under review, but power is given in the Billto make them operate, when necessary, wherever any other parties are pinched in the same manner. It is to be borne in mind that only particular difficulties are to be dealt with, and they are not to be dealt with in a revolutionary way by the introduction of principles laid down by Parliament, dictating to employers and employes how they shall conduct their business. There is no desire to do that. The obligation upon the court is to consider each dispute upon its merits, and to deal with it according to equity and good conscience. The court accepts the existing state of affairs, the existing social conditions, the ruling rates of wages, the prevailing hours of work. It takes all the composite facts that make up the circumstances out of which the dispute has arisen, and alters or confirms such of them as may be necessary for its settlement.
That is a very different and much less dangerous provision than to endeavour to prescribe beforehand, by rigid rule, what is to be done in particular cases. Here is a court which, with the least disturbance of business methods, takes into consideration, in each case, what the industry concerned can afford, what competition it is subjected to, what is the nature of the work which those engaged in it are called upon to undertake, what are its risks and hazards to health, and what are the circumstances under which it is carried on. After considering al] these details, which are practical details, it gives just the practical decision, and that only, which will enable the trade to be carried on thereafter as between employer and employes without the disputes which have ‘ arisen. It removes friction where friction occurs, but it does not authorize or justify an interference where there is. no friction, nor does it authorize or .justify any greater interference than is necessary to remove the friction. By these means, therefore, taking our industrial operations, multifarious as they may be, the court only interferes as an engineer may be seen, in many cases, interfering, by carrying round an oil-can, from which drops the necessary conciliation to cool any heated bearings.
– Or to regulate the governor.
– Or the court goes a little further, as my honorable friend suggests. When it arbitrates, it regulates the governor, unloosens screws or tightens them, or performs some other function of the engineer which I am not competent to describe. It does not interfere more than is necessary.
– It does not stir the coals, up.
– No. Drastic as this: measure may appear to be. and as it requires to be in its general provisions, in order to be able to meet the most extreme cases which can be imagined, in order to be able to deal with the strongest combination of employers em the one side, or the massed ranks of thousands of employes on the other; in order to deal with corporations, no matter how wealthy, and powerful, and with bodies of men, no matter how resolute and strongly banded together - in order to deal with all these, we require to put into our measure of authority sufficient power to cope with the- greatest disturbance that can occur. But this power is to be exercised by a court of reasonable and impartial men, who are authorized only to interfere so far as may be absolutely essential to dispose of the special dispute arising, and who, therefore, come to the discharge of their task with the intention, not of making revolutions, but of, as far as possible, smoothing the industrial path, removing industrial obstacles, and leaving a free field for the development of the productive powers of their country.
-Will each decision apply only to a particular case?
– It may be just as wide or as narrow as the court thinks fit. All these great powers are taken. It reminds one of the elephant’s trunk, that can pick up a pin or lift an enormous load. We require to put a power into the measure to enable the enormous load to be lifted. Honorable members will find that the Bill is so drafted - and if it can be improved we shall welcome improvement - that one of the chief objects is to make it applicable to a dispute of the smallest description extending beyond a State as well as to the largest. I was about to add that this Bill represents in an up-to-date form a series of measures which for more than a century have been discussed by philanthropic minds. They commenced in one of the noblest efforts of a great business man, Robert Owen, in Lanarkshire, when he sought to solve many, if not all, of the problems by which we are now confronted by means of his doctrine of co-operation.
– And did not succeed.
– And undoubtedly succeeded.
– A doctrine which applied in certain favorable circumstances has been a superb success, but, speaking generally, has not succeeded outside of favorably-circumstanced localities. After co-operation, which is still in effective operation in the mother country and in France, we find the profit-sharing schemes which in Paris and elsewhere to-day are doing small, but admirable work. Then for a time the English public were charmed by the prospect of voluntary arbitration, and the famous Lord St. Leonard’s Act was introduced with the highest expectations. But so far as my knowledge extends it was left to Australia to perceive that the only possible solution in the direction of these efforts was to be found in an arbitration which should be voluntary if possible, but if not possible voluntarily, should be made compulsory. To my right honorable and learned friend and late colleague will always belong the honour that so long ago as 1890 he brought forward in his own State the first proposal for the establishment of Courts of Arbitration. In 1894 the right honorable gentleman passed a measure which, though failing in many of its ends, has contributed to some signal successes in the field of conciliation.
– And has been the basis upon which all the others have been framed.
– It has furnished not only the basis but a great deal of the actual statutory expression of most of the other measures of the kind which have followed. Of course the neigbouring colony of New Zealand offers us the best field of experience, because it has been longest, amongst other considerations, under the operation of a similar measure. The New Zealand Bill, introduced in 1894, and modelled closely on the lines of the South Australian proposal, took a more ambitious flight, and, in happier circumstances, achieved a greater success. It was amended from time to time, until 1900, when it was consolidated, and now represents what will always remain one of the most remarkable pieces of practical legislation which Australia or any other country has ever witnessed, for which Mr. Pember Reeves deserves the highest honour. We then find in Western Australia, in the same year, a measure based upon that of New Zealand adopted, and, finally, in New South Wales, in 1901, we have, in Mr. Wise’s ‘Bill, the most advanced and complete piece of legislation of this kind which has yet found its way upon a statute-book. It has been, therefore, from these actual experiences, these experiments under our own eyes in our own country, that this Bill has been drafted.
– We cannot say that the experience of any of them has been a long one.
– We have the experience of the New Zealand Act since 1894. The experience of none of them goes further back than that. But it cannot be denied that the experience gained in these States and in the colony of New Zealand has been invaluable. Those who wish to appreciate not only the measures themselves, but their differences and lessons, can do so most readily by consulting the second volume of Mr. Pember Reeves’ book upon State Experiments in Australia, lately published, in which the whole subject i3 dealt with in a most masterly and lucid fashion.
– We should like to see the other side also.
– I am content with Mr. Pember Reeves’ summary. It is not for me to detain the Committee by repeating here what is so admirably explained in the work to which I refer honorable members.
– It is a onesided reference.
– There is no other side in New Zealand.
– Is there not ? That is all the honorable member knows about it.
– Most valuable assistance was given by Mr. Wise in connexion with the preparation of the present Bill.
– Exactly. I should have said, and would have said, that not only is this Bill based upon the measures that have been passed and framed in the light of their working, but with the assistance of suggestions from Mr. Wise and others whom my late right honorable colleague consulted, and who have been concerned in the working of similar legislation elsewhere. The experience in New Zealand, and in the States in which similar legislation has been brought into operation, is that strikes and locks-out have ceased. There have been only some half-dozen trumpery outbreaks in New Zealand in more than as many years.
– But there has been continual irritation.
– Continual irritation existed previously, and from time to time culminated in volcanic outbursts. Even if the irritation remains, the outbursts have ceased, and members of the community, generally, are not injured, or are not aware that they are injured. Surely something has been accomplished if only that has been done. Without claiming that such legislation has fulfilled, as yet, every object which was set before their Parliaments by its advocates, it certainly has accomplished what its opponents professed to regard as impossibilities. It has assisted to give security to the investment of capita], it has given stability to the interests of labour, it has prevented those inflammatory conflagrations which previously spread from the parties immediately interested to those concerned only by way of sympathy in carrying on what may be termed martial operations. It has narrowed the area of disputes, and has brought them before the tribunal of common sense ; it has enabled a great number of disputes to be settled to the satisfaction of both parties, and all to be settled to the satisfaction of one party - and that it as much as we can expect from any court of law. Consequently we are justified in claiming that, as a measure for the maintenance and extension of social order, the scheme now submitted, based upon experience, is worthy of the most favorable consideration at the hands of honorable members and of the public outside. Such legislation multiplies the opportunities of the masses for obtaining those reasonable concessions which, hitherto too often required to be wrung from reluctant hands under the pressure “of storm and stress and devastation. On the other hand, it enables employers to settle many minor difficulties which might become magnified into great causes of disturbance and dispute, and to dispose piecemeal of causes of irritation which, if allowed to accumulate, would break out into social festers, requiring more radical, if not surgical, treatment. In NewSouth Wales, last year, 36,000 employes and 1,000 employers are estimated to have shared in the benefits of the Arbitration Act in operation in that State.
– Is each company counted as one employer ?
– I cannot say. I can only give the figures as I find them. In New South Wales the large number of cases set down for hearing is riot regarded as proving the inefficacy of the Act. On the contrary, the patience with which the hearing of causes has been awaited, the confidence felt that even if justice is not done at one stage it- will be achieved in the end, and the effect of the Act in allaying irritation, have been remarkable. Those concerned await the hearing of their cases, and accept the decisions of the court. What more could be asked - what more is necessary?
– What else could they do ?
– It was thought when the Act was “first brought into play that the court would have a great deal more to overcome. It was prophesied that it would prove ineffective, because no measure of the kind could control powerful corporations on the one hand, or numerous unions on the o’ther ; but it has been proved that law-abiding people, such as Australians are, when furnished with the means of preserving order, and at the same time of securing a reasonable redress of grievances are perfectly content to abide by the law even where the decisions given are not favorable to themselves.
– Are not all litigants patiently awaiting the hearing of their cases in the law courts 1
– Yes ; but it has taken centuries to educate them up to that frame of mind, whereas in the case of the arbitration Acts only a few years of training has been possible. Therefore, I venture to submit that the experience of Australia justifies us in claiming that that great essential, social order, can be secured without unduly - and this is an important matter - interfering with the course of trade and business. No one recognises better than those who study the subject what a large proportion of the energy and ability of modern man is diverted almost entirely into business channels, and the extent to which the whole population of the world depends on the conduct of enormous enterprises, whether by crowds of employers ‘or by the great captains of industry. No One can view the circumstances of Australia, or of any civilized country to-day, without realizing how true it is that the modern warfare which is most constant, and is sometimes most disastrous, is that which is being waged by nations in the field of commerce. We recognise the enormous importance to each people of all lucrative industries for its manhood and womanhood, whose tens of thousands earn their bread by them.. We realize to the full that by the peaceful means of industry and the ceaseless operations of commerce there are now performeddaily what would formerly have been termed miracles in the feeding and clothing of the masses, and the supply of their wants. Recognising fully the extent to which our civilization, its faults as well as its virtues, is based on industrial and commercial conditions, and desiring to further, by every ‘possible means, the development of our country, we are not afraid to say that great as are these achievements,’ immense as is the importance of material prosperity, and loth as we are to take any step which would seem to imperil the prospects of employment and profit, yet there are some considerations vital to the national life which cannot be subordinated even to them. The attainment in some measure, and possibly in a rude fashion, of social justice is as absolutely essential as material prosperity. Permanent prosperity can only be based upon institutions which are cemented by social justice. Under the influence of a sense of injustice, of inequality, unfairness, and helplessness, the working population of the world cannot be expected to submit to their lot. There must be held out to them the prospect of betterment and advancement for the individual, the family, and the class, as well as for the nation as a whole. We do not desire to see a pyramid like that of Egypt reared on the abject misery, ignorance, and helplessness of the masses. We feel that the ideals of our faith and culture and many of the objects of our government imply as a fundamental condition the wellbeing of the masses of the people. No measures ever submitted to any legislature offer greater prospects of the establishment of social justice and of the removal of inequalities than those which are based upon the principle of conciliation and arbitration.
– If the principle is so good why exclude the public service and the railway employes from its operation ?
– I will deal with that subject . in a few moments. No one desires more than I do to see the application to Australian industry of that marvellous quickness of intellect, that zeal, energy, and devotion to the particular objects in view, which characterize the American people, who are so closely akin to ou reives in many respects. Without speaking of their social conditions, which I believe are as good as those to be found elsewhere, one cannot fail to be struckupon a perusal of the reports of the Mosley Commission with the superb inducements offered by American employers to their employes, to give them the very best of their ability, energy, and inventiveness. Surely one of the finest features of modern industrial life is to be found in that great country where the most potent capitalists and corporations are willing to encourage all - even those in the lowest ranks of their employ - to step up higher and . higher, just as the manager of the great steel works there has lifted himself from the lowest ranks of the iron industry to the enjoyment of a salary which is larger than the total salaries it is proposed to pay to all the J udges of the High Court of Australia and all their staff and expenses to boot.
– That has not been a a matter of compulsion.
– It has not been a matter of compulsion, but, in passing, I wish to to show that nothing in this measure, while it endeavours to provide equitable social condition’s and to heal disputes, in any way militates against the full operation of that system of American encouragement by which the best brains of their workmen are developed, and by which the marvels of modern industry are being achieved. Nothing in this Bill restricts the right of the employe to choose his employer, or of the employer to choose his employes, except so far as he may be required to select them from a particular organization. If I arn not detaining the House at undue length, I hope to show that any provisions, apparently restricting the choice of the employer as between the members of a union and those who are outside of it, do not operate as a restriction upon the conduct of an industry, or prevent an employer from obtaining the men of his choice. They may require him, under certain conditions) to make that choice within limited areas, but «till his choice will be so wide, and the conditions under which it is to be made can be so varied, as to individuals throughout Australia, that any apparent infringement upon that freedom is more nominal than real. Both the employer and the employe are practically free. There is nothing to prevent the operation of that American system of encouragement by which, at some sacrifice, enormous results are obtained, and by which those amongst the working classes who possess a capacity for higher industrial things are given an opportunity of attaining them. What is here sought is not to dictate to employer or <employe. What is sought is, by the examination of particular industrial pursuits, to discover any element of unfairness that may lurk in them and to remove them - to assist employers by enabling them, for the first time, without lock-outs, to enforce any conclusion of the court which may be in their favour, and- to give to employes a similar power to gradually establish general conditions of labour throughout the community. The .broad, though improved, conditions for employers and employes leaves ample room for the exercise of freedom of choice upon either side.
– Could a £10,000-a-year man be chosen if a unionist were ready to take his place 1
– Unless the court declared that for good cause shown the members of a union were entitled to receive a preference. Cases of that sort have occurred in New South Wales. I remember one in which it was shown that a certain company had wrongfully dismissed its employes, who were trades unionists, because they had made what subsequently proved to be a reasonable demand. That company, after dismissing its old employes, engaged men outside the ranks of the trades union concerned. But when the case on behalf of the men was shown to be just, and their demands reasonable, the company was Ordered, not only to conform to certain conditions in the future, but to re-engage their former hands who had lost their employment because they had staked it upon a reasonable claim.
– The employes were also ordered by the court to supply a sufficient quantity of labour.
– Yes, there was the correlative obligation that the unions must furnish the requisite number of men.
– In the coal trade the court made an order that the men should be dismissed in the order of their last engagement; Does that principle allow the employer any choice?
– All the men in question were chosen by the company, and therefore, in the opinion of the company, were fit to do the work which they were performing. These men were employed by the company of their own free will upon piece-work. It became necessary to reduce the number of hands. In -order to accomplish that, and to prevent partiality being exercised, the court, cast about it for some principle which could be applied with justice to everybody. Consequently it ordered the company to do what every private employer would dp in similar circumstances. The men being of about equal ability; a private employer would naturally retain’ his oldest hands. The last to enter his employ would be the first to go.
– Where does his choice come in there 1
– The employer had exercised his option in choosing and retaining the men. He was simply asked to continue the option which he had previously chosen in the same order,
– Under such a principle, if the man who last entered his service were a talented individual, he would have to dismiss him.
– That is so. But the isolated instances in which such a thing would occur are compensated by the introduction of a principle which the men themselves, dismissed by its operation, must feel to be just.
– It is absolute tyranny.
– Let me call the attention of honorable members to the only directions which this Bill proposes to give to the court. They will be found in clauses 46 and 47. Clause 46 provides that any dispute shall be decided according to the merits and substantial justice of the case. Clause 47 sets out that -
In the hearing and determination of every industrial dispute the court shall act according to equity, good conscience, and the substantial merits of the case…..
Beyond that no compulsion upon the court exists in this Bill. It is made as impartial as is any court of justice in the land, to give any proper decision in any particular direction. This Bill contains nothing in favour of the employe any more than in favour of the employer. Their unions are both classed in the same way. Every privilege given to the one is given to the other ; every liability imposed upon the one is imposed upon the other. They are placed in a position of equality before the law. We have a tribunal which is under no obligation, save to do justice as between man and man. No attempt is made to enforce any theory or doctrine. The court is asked to do justice, and no more than justice.
– ‘One man is to have the whole matter in his hands.
– It may be one, but the honorable member’s own business interests, which are great, and his life and liberty which to him are greater, may be placed in the hands of one man in our courts of law. Consequences far more vital than can ever ensue in an industrial dispute often ensue in courts pf law because a man’s life and reputation are often both at stake. I admit the force of the interjection which was made a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Mel* bourne. I admit that the absence of all but general instructions to the court has both advantages and disadvantages. Its advantages are that we do not unduly, and perhaps unwisely, interfere. What may be called its disadvantages, from an ideal stand-point, are that the standard of the court in these matters must develop just as the standards of the courts dealing with civil matters are developed. It will grow and slowly. And so it ought to be. Therestraining force which will impress acourt of three men charged to decide these questions will be the general way of thinking to which the honorable member referred. No such court will fly in the faceof public opinion clearly, distinctly, and calmly pronounced.
– Is the time during which an award is to operate fixed in the Bill 1
– Five years is the maximum in the case of an award, and three years is the limit to an agreement. The court itself is not only left free to act, but in these matters it must necessarily bo affected to a larger extent than courts of law can be by public opinion and the existing conditions of the case. A court of law has before it an Act of Parliament, and be it wise or otherwise - if there ever was an unwise Act of Parliament - it must obey its provisions, provided that they are sufficiently clear and precise. In itsbusiness this tribunal will be much less trammelled. Much more is to be left to the conscience and judgment of the men composing it, and they are properly to bo affected to a greater degree by the circumstances surrounding each suit. What is a fair rate to pay for coal hewing does not depend upon any declaration in an Act of Parliament. It depends- upon the country in which the rule is to apply, the average wages paid to men .in similar employment, the prices ruling on the coal fields, and the cost of obtaining the coal and placing it on the market. It depends on many circumstances’ which will confine the judgment of the Judge just as much, if not more, than would an absolute written law with its direct dictates. But their judgment will be confined by the facts in a reasonable manner, so that the decision on,any point at issue will be arrived at in view of the actual conditions which prevail. It will be given not in obedience to dogma, theory, or dictation, but according to the reason and’ justice of each case. Consequently the general or local circumstances and practical details will in this court be effective factors by which its decisions will be determined. We are necessarily required to take the court with the knowledge that it must be given free play, in regard to the differences between one disputant and another, adjusting the circumstances of both to the general standard of the people. We could ask no more; we do ask no more, but we believe that the standard of living will be seen steadily and surely rising. I propose now to ask honorable members to join me in taking a bird’s-eye view of the provisions by which it is sought to achieve these ends. The first of importance is to be found in clause 9.
– What about clause 4 %
– I have already referred to that clause. The whole purport of this measure is as distinctly shown by clause 4 as by any other provisions in the Bill.
– The honorable gentleman has not referred to clause 3.
– That deals with exclusions. I wish t6 deal first of all with inclusions. Clause 9 provides that -
No person shall on account of any industrial dispute for the prevention or settlement of which the court has jurisdiction, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any look-out or strike.
Penalty : One thousand pounds.
The same penalty is provided in the New South Wales Act. In this clause lies the keynote of the Bill. It has as its first direct object the prohibition of strikes and locks-out. Then, in clauses 16, 17, 18, and 19, we find the authority which is to prohibit these strikes and locks-out. It is to be a Court of Record, with a Justice of the High Court as its President. One of its remaining members is to represent the employers, and the other is to be a representative of the employes. The methods of their choice follow. Three arbitrators are to be appointed, and the decision of the majority is to rule, when that majority includes the President.
– That means that practically one man is to rule.
– The Bill requires the President to obtain the support, if possible, of both, but always of one, of his colleagues. Honorable members will find, from’ clause 34, that the President has more than judicial duties. He is charged with the duty - at all times by all lawful ways aud means to reconcile the parties to industrial disputes, and to prevent and settle industrial disputes, whether or not the court has cognisance of them. . . .
That is his individual duty. Wherever it appears possible that the intervention of an entirely impartial man, apart from his judicial power, can be effective, it will be the duty of the President to put himself in communication with those who are being subjected to an industrial dispute. Honorable members will see in clause 43, the authority for the court to inquire. It is provided that -
The court shall, in such manner as it thinks fit carefully and expeditiously inquire into and investigate every industrial dispute of which it has cognisance and all matters affecting the merits of the dispute and the right settlement thereof.
The parties themselves cannot confine the court by their pleading. If, as an impartial tribunal, it believes it necessary to go beyond these - if it believes that other persons are’ affected and that the real root of the difficulty before it lies beyond the point actually submitted - it has authority to go further. In clauses 44 and 45 is provided, very simply, the course which is to be pursued in regard to conciliation if no industrial agreement has- been registered. In the course of its inquiry and investigation - the court shall make all such suggestions and do all such things as appear to it to oe right and proper to be made or done for reconciling the parties aud for inducing the settlement of the dispute by amicable agreement.
Under clause 45, if they do so the agreement is reduced to a memorandum, certified by the President, filed, and- then has the full legal effect of an award. Only when no industrial agreement exists, when conciliation has been sought and has failed, comes the third stage, when an award is pronounced according to the merits and substantial justice of the case. This power of the President to interfere for the purpose of conciliation is taken from the South Australian Act of 1894, and has been utilized in that State on several occasions with happy results. The award when once given has practically the force of a judgment in every court of the Commonwealth and of the States.
– Who takes the initiative in regard to conciliation?
-The President may interfere on his own volition. If he does not do so the Registrar, who is the chief officer of the court, may bring the matter forward, and, if he does not do so, any registered organization may do so. Lastly, subject to my former remarks as to constitutional necessity, a State industrial authority or a State may remit a matter. Under clause 50, an award shall continue in force for any term not exceeding five years. Clause 63, which is one of the most important provisions in the measure, lays down the conditions under which awards must be pronounced. The court hears and determines the dispute in the manner prescribed, makes any order or award, or gives any direction in ‘pursuance of its hearing or determination, affixes penalties for a breach or non-observance of any term of an order or award, and may declare that -
Any practice, regulation, rule, custom, term of agreement, condition of employment, or dealing whatsoever in relation to any industrial matter shall be a common rule of any. industry affected by the award.
This common rule, within the limits set out in paragraph (e), will obtain throughout the industry affected, subject to such conditions and exceptions as to the people engaged in that industry as the court may decide. A common rule will not necessarily be a common rule throughout Australia. It need not be a common rule outside a particular locality or State affected. In all but the extremely rare cases in which the conditions of several industries are similar in some particular regard, it will not a.pply outside the industry affected. The term “ common rule “ is employed because the rule is made common to others than the parties to the particular dispute in which it is first enforced.
– In New Zealand they make common rules to apply to industries in which there has been no dispute.
– If the particular industry in which a dispute has occurred is, so far as the nature of that dispute is concerned, on all fours with other industries in which no dispute has occurred, the court may make the common rule apply to those industries. There might, for instance, be a dispute amongst the weavers in regard to the hours of labour, and the court in makingan award might say that, inasmuch as thesame conditions obtained amongst weavers, spinners, and carders, it would’ anticipatea dispute in the spinning and carding industries by making the common rule apply iilso to them.
– Does the Bill provide forthe settlement of a dispute between shearersand pastoralists, supposing the shearershave not become employes, but decline togo to work.
– Yes. The employers’ organization could bring the matter before-‘ the court, and if the shearers belonged to aregistered organization, as they no doubt would, they could be dealt with. If they were not organized, the court could compel them to register as an organization, and then deal with them.
– But they would not beemployes, because they had not been employed, and therefore there could be nostrike.
– I know of nothing in the Bill which requires that men shall haveactually entered upon any particular work, where, as in the case of shearers, that workis intermittent, and does not continuethroughout the year.
– An industrial dispute isdefined in clause 6 as a dispute arising between an employer or an organization of employers- and an organization of employes. The men to whom I refer would not beemployes.
– No; but they would come under the provisions of the Bill as an organization of erapktyes.
– Supposing it were announced’ that a shed was ready to shear on a particular date, and no applications for employment were made by the shearers, could anything be done?
– If there is a dispute, the court will be able to investigateand deal with it ; and if any alteration of the clauses is necessary to make it clear that the court has power to interfere in such a case, I shall be ready to make it. Of course, . if there were no dispute,, and individual shearers chose to stop away from work, the court could not interfere.. But where the action of the shearers, amounts to a strike, the court can interfere.
– Parliament has powerunder the Constitution to deal with thematter, and I hope that we shall deal with it-
– It is intended to deal with such cases, and I believe that the Bill does so. To return to the common rule. It may apply to a large or to a small area, to one industry or to more than one, to one locality or throughout Australia. To my mind, the chief recommendation of the measure is the flexibility which enables it to be applied to the smallest as well as to the largest matters. With the exceptions to which I now propose to draw attention, the Bill is unlimited in its operation, and includes all employments of every kind. But if honorable members will turn to-clause 3, they will find it there stated that -
This Act shall not apply to the public service of the Common-wealth or of a State, or of any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.
A public authority constituted under a State means such bodies as the Railway Commissioners and the Harbor Commissioners of the States. The public servants of the Commonwealth are excluded from the operation of the measure on two grounds. The first is that they are the employes of the whole people and of Parliament. This Parliament is open to them if they wish for redress, and itself constitutes a Court of Arbitration from whose decisions so far none have demurred. I hope that there will be no demur in the future from the main body of the public servants. It is’ unnecessary for Parliament to remit to a body of its own creation a task which it is perfectly competent to discharge itself, and which I think it will always discharge with the equity and good conscience it would require from another tribunal. Furthermore, I have heard no word of request from the public servants of the Commonwealth to be brought under the operation of this measure. With regard to the public servants of a State, we have excepted them for Federal reasons. If a State Parliament exists for anything, it is to control the public servants of its State.
– If they are properly represented.
– However the State Parliament may provide for the representation of its people, it is chosen by its people, and the appropriations which it makes for the payment of its public servants are thus authorized by its constituents, or by a majority of them. I wish honorable members who object to this provision to ask themselves these questions :
What would be the position of a State Parliament whose Appropriation Act was subject to the decisions of a Federal tribunal over which it had no control ? When the State Parliament has fixed the salaries, wages, and conditions of its employés with the approbation of its citizens, is it consonant with its responsibilities and the maintenance of State independence that they should be subject to review by a nonelected body appointed by the Federal authorities ?
– Will the Government tolerate industrial war extending overmore than one State?
– I hope not ; but if a Parliament of a State refused to comply with the decision of a Federal tribunal which required it to pay its servants highersalaries or wages than were provided for by its Appropriation Act, how could the Court enforce its decision ?
– The Court enforces its decision in New South Wales.
– Yes ; but the New South Wales Court was created by the Parliament of that State, and that Parliament can at any time repeal its own Act. But it would have no such power in regard to the legislation of the Commonwealth. It would be helpless. Assuming that some of the officers of the Chief Secretary’s Department of Victoria/ say the warders in the asylums or the gaols were being paid at certain rates, and the Federal industrial tribunal said - “You are paying your warders too highly, you must reduce their pay in order to bring it into consonance with our previous decisions,” would the State be bound to cut down its Estimates ? Who would enforce the decision of the court? Suppose, on the other hand, that the Federal tribunal said - “ You must raise your rates of pay,” and the State Parliament said - “We shall not vote the money.” What course could be taken ?
– What is the High Court intended for?
– To enforce its decisions against all citizens and all States as far as it can, but I think that the bailiffs of the High Court would find it a difficult task tocontrol the Chief Secretary’s Department in Victoria.
– Is not this power- incidental to the exercise of our functions ?
– I shall never willingly confess that any power is not within
Federal functions. I do not deny that such a power is within the- Federal functions, but am giving reasons why, assuming it to be within our functions, we should not exercise it by establishing a body whose decrees might be set at nought, and might also be bitterly resented by the great body of the people of a State.
– Suppose a strike occurred on one of the States railways. “Would it be constitutional for the Federal Court to interfere?
Mr.DEAKIN. - Not unless the dispute extended beyond the limits of the State.
– How could a railway dispute, say in New South Wales, extend beyond the limits of that State ?
– It could not so extend unless a sympathetic railway strike occurred in Victoria or in some other State. Assuming that the power of interference is possessed by us, we should need, by express words, to take authority to deal with such disputes, because it might be contended that State employes were employes of the Crown. The Crown, under a Federal Government, operates through different agencies, and if we set out on the adventure of bringing the whole of the States civil servants under the control of a Federal tribunal, we should lay up for ourselves mora trouble than I care to face at this stage of our history.
– Suppose that certain navvies employed on the New South Wales railways were to strike. Would they come under the operation of this Bill?
– Not so far as they are employed in the public service. I have very grave doubts whether this clause carries us any distance. I have considerable doubt whether, if this clause were not included, the public servants of. the States could be brought within the jurisdiction of the Federal tribunal, but I inserted the clause, because I thought it was due to the House to tell them frankly what the effect of the law would be, whether the clause were inserted or not.
– Have the representations of the Irvine Government had their effect ?
– The clause was inserted, not because it was needed, but because there was a difference of legal opinion whether, if it were not inserted, the Stnste public servants would be controlled or not. The clause has been inserted in order to invite the opinion of honorable members. Now I come to the very difficult question to which I owe the misfortune of having to introduce this Bill. By referring to clause 6 honorable members will see that “industry” is defined to mean any-
Business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service or emplo3’ment by land or in British ships trading solely between places iu Australia.
Here, again, the Government have adopted the plan of including words indicating what they believe would have been the result of the clause if such words had not been inserted. I adopted somewhat too hurriedly the words “ ships trading solely between places in Australia “ as an equivalent for the language of the Constitution ; but, on consideration, am inclined to think that they are too narrow ; and if any words are inserted, the exact terms of the Constitution should be used. I think, therefore, that the clause would better express the views of the Government if it read” “ or in British ships - the Queen’s ships of war excepted - whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.” It was owing to a difference of opinion in reference to including some words, that we inserted these in order to invite the attention of honorable members. The Government believe that, if the words, were not there,- the effect of the clause would be precisely the same ; it would extend to exactly the same people, and would omit no one. It would extend to all seamen employed in Australian ships, and under Australian agreements, including ships registered in Australia, and it would also apply - although this is not quite so certain - to all British ships coming within the definition of the Constitution, “ whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.” There may be some not unreasonable doubt whether it even, applies to all ships of the latter class, because this ia a Bill which seeks; so far as they are concerned, to regulate wages, and to provide for industrial agreements, whereas all, or practically all, of the British seamen on- such ships work under industrial agreements entered into- in London, Liverpool, or other British ports. It is questionable whether the clause would, apply to such British ships, but, in view of the elear words of the Constitution, it does apply, in my opinion, and, therefore, I have here inserted the words.
– If all our coastal traders were registered in Germany they would place themselves beyond our jurisdiction.
– Would the award of the Arbitration Court follow a ship beyond our jurisdiction t
– It would in all Australian ships, because they are registered within our jurisdiction, and I believe that it would also apply to British ships coming within the definition given in the Constitution. I hold, however, that we cannot exercise any authority over British ships not coming within that definition, or over foreign ships ; further, that we cannot extend the authority of the court to either class of ships under this Bill. I take that ground for several reasons. The matter is one of extreme complexity, one upon which differences of opinion may obviously exist since that high authority, my esteemed friend, the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, does not agree with, my colleagues and myself. I shall ‘endeavour to explain our reasons for drawing this distinction. The extent of maritime jurisdiction has always been in dispute. The last great case which I remember involving maritime questions was that of the Queen v. Keyn, reported in II. Law Reports, Exchequer Division. That was a case in which fourteen Judges, including the Chief Justice of England, sat upon the Bench, and upon which every one of the Judges, except one who died, delivered a judgment. The report extends over nearly 150 pages, and those who have the curiosity to study the intricacies of such a case - which was decided by only a comparatively small majority - will gain some idea of the complexity of the issues involved when local laws are sought to be applied to vessels registered abroad. The cose to which I have referred was much clearer than that which now presents itself to us, because it related to a matter of criminal law, which has always been recognised as operating to some extent on foreign ships. The Franconia, a German ship, ran down an English ship within the three miles limit of Great Britain, and the captain was tried for manslaughter. The question arose whether the court had jurisdiction, and upon appeal it was decided that it had not. Therefore, although Keyn was found guilty, he escaped the consequences of the criminal sentence, because he was the subject of a foreign power, and therefore could not be brought within the jurisdiction of the English Courts: I should not dream of wearying honorable members by endeavouring to state the various points upon which this judgment indirectly bears upon the matter in hand. The case does not cover the whole of the difficulties we have to face, but it shows most clearly how largely jurisdiction depends, among other things, upon legislation. That is to say that even if it be granted that Great Britain has jurisdiction over the sea within the three miles limit in criminal matters, the powers of the courts must largely depend upon the legislation which confers jurisdiction upon them. Where the jurisdiction is clearly conferred the courts will always exercise it, but they require that it should be established most distinctly by legislation. It does not suffice that this legislation should be of a general character. In the language of a distinguished text writer, Mr. Hall, in his Foreign Jurisdiction of the British Crown, “ it requires to be express.” He points out that there are only three classes of cases in which Great Britain claims to exercise jurisdiction on the high seas or in reference to acts committed there. The first relates to instances in which it is exercised over British subjects, the next to cases in which it is exercised over British vessels, and the third to instances in which jurisdiction is exercised over foreigners, irrespective of the national character of the vessel in which they are, on the ground of protective necessity. In alluding to these matters, and summing up the effect’ of the case to which I have just referred, Mr. Hall says -
Limited as the range obviously is, there is a rale of English law which reduces its extent within a narrower space than on a cursory reading of the Acts it might seem to cover. It is a presumption of the courts that Parliament is unlikely to intend to legislate for rights or liabilities of foreigners who are in no way within the jurisdiction of Great Britain, and that to overcome the presumption the words of an Act must be express, or the context exceedingly clear. When, therefore, “the language of a statute is general and may include foreigners so circumstanced or not, the true canon of construction is to assume that the Legislature has not so enacted as toviolate the rights of other nations. “
The judgment in that oft-quoted bigamy case The Attorney-General qf New South
Wales versus MoLeod, is to the same effect. In addition to that, there are two or three references which I shall make for the benefit of the legal members of the House who may discuss this question. One of them is to be found in the fourth edition of Hall’s International Law, page 267. There the last words of the footnote are -
Subject to the isolated practice mentioned in the text, the laws of a State can only run outside its territorial waters against the vessels and subjects of another State with the express or tacit consent of the latter.
– Outside its territorial waters.
– The honorable and learned member will see the application of that principle presently.’ Finally, I find in Sir Henry Jenkins’ British Rule and Jurisdiction Beyond the Seas, page 131, d quotation from Halleck - a very high au- thority - who, in his International Law, says-
This jurisdiction of a nation over its vessels while lying in the port of another is wholly exclusive. For any unlawful acts done by her while thus lying in the port of another State, and for all contracts entered into while there by her masters or owners, she is made answerable to the laws of the place. Nor if her master or crew while on board in such port break the peace of the community by the commission of crimes can exemption from the local laws be claimed for them. But the comity and practice of nations have established the rule of international law that such vessel so situated is for the general purpose of governing and regulating the rights, duties, and obligations Of those on board, to be considered as a part of the territory of the nation bo which she belongs.
Matters of wages, I take it, especially under an agreement, are matters which clearly regulate the “ rights, duties, and obligations “ of those on board, a vessel, in which regard they are considered part of the territory of the nation to which such vessel belongs, Halleck proceeds thus -
It therefore, follows that, with respect to facts happening on board which do not concern the tranquility of the port or persons foreign to the crew, or acts committed on board while such vessel was on the high seas, they are not amenable to the territorial justice, and that all such matters are justiciable only by the courts of the country to which the vessel belongs. So firmly is this doctrine incorporated into the practice of nations that the French regard it sis a positive rule of international law.
These are all the authorities, indirect as they are, bearing upon this case which, in the short time at my disposal, I have been able to find.
– None of them would bind our municipal courts.
– None would bind our municipal courts except in the interpretation which would be given to this law. One of the most important features of the Bill is the proposal that, subject to the Constitution, no award shall be appealed against in any court whatever. Of course, that does not prevent any award of the court which may exceed its jurisdiction from being dealt with as null and void. Consequently, to that extent an award could always be attacked in any court. But what we have to consider is the position of seamen upon British ships, and of foreign seamen upon foreign ships, which do not come within the provision of the Constitution. Clearly, the great bulk of this measure - practically all but a fragment of it - cannot apply to them. These men cannot form organizations, and their employers who are absent cannot.form themselves into organizations. Their industrial agreement they already have. It has been made in London, or it may be In Hamburg. That industrial agreement cannot come before us for conciliation or for an award. - Let us suppose that a seaman came before the court and obtained an award. The court has powers which, according to the language used, might be taken to mean that it could make an award affecting British or foreign sailors under British or foreign agreements. But, as a matter of fact, taking the case of the foreigners as the stronger, and in order to avoid duplication, what would prevent the legal enforcement of such an award *1 There would be the fact that we were seeking to apply an award to citizens of another country, under an agreement made abroad, and between whom no dispute in the ordinary sense had occurred, simply because it had been made applicable between other parties here. That, it must be confessed, would bean extremely indirect way of attaining the object in view. It would be bringing foreign seamen under the Act, so to speak, by “allusion” only, and without any regard to international relations or difficulties. Consequently, I venture to hold that any court before which such an extension of this measure was considered, would interpret it to relate only to those to whom it clearly relates - our own seamen or British seamen.
– Even if the terms were definitely expressed.
– Even if the terms were clear and express - even if we employed some such language as the following - “ Such award shall be binding upon foreign seamen engaged on foreign ships under industrial agreements made abroad.”
– What about the Customs seals case?
– I shall come to that presently. On the presumption of law to which . Hall alludes, and which is well established, the whole leaning of the courts would be towards interpreting the Act as relating only to those over whom we undoubtedly have control. Just as in the case cf the Attorney.-Genercd of New South Wales versus McLeod, the court held that bigamy committed “anywhere” did not mean anywhere in the world, but anywhere in New South Wales, so a similar construction would be put upon any express language which we might use in this Bill..
– The Attorney-General might inform us of the number of Judges who entertained that view.
– The Judges were divided. They took different views.
– New South Wales only had power to legislate for its own territorial area, but our powers extend beyond that.
– Only in a particular way. I submit that the words used in the Bill do not give the Court power to make awards in the case of foreign ships or seamen, any more than if they were not mentioned at all. This is a measure to provide for conciliation and arbitration. It offers all the means for conciliation and arbitration in any dispute in which we have jurisdiction. In such a measure I take it that it is not competent to introduce a condition which shall be inferentially applicable to foreign ships and foreign seamen.
– What about a common rule ?
– No common rule would apply to it. What other power has this Parliament in the matter of the wages paid and the conditions obtaining upon British or foreign ships trading in our waters ? In my view it has every power. In sub-section (1) of section 51 of the Constitution the power of the Commonwealth over trade and commerce is unlimited. In section 98 that power is expressly defined to extend to navigation and shipping. This House, therefore, has power to pass a Navigation and
Shipping Bill dealing with any and all matters within its own territory. What are the matters within its own territory? Amongst others are the loading and unloading of ships with its own goods, and between its own ports - what is customarily called the coastal trade. In my view the power of the Commonwealth over that trade is absolute, and in result, though perhaps not in fact, we have power over British and all other ships engaged in our coastal trade, even when they are outside the three-mile limit. We deal with them when they enter our ports. Our power therefore over the costal trade is absolute, because we can prescribe the conditions under which it shall be carried on by Australian,- British, or foreign ships. The most recent authority ‘ for that statement is the decision of the Privy Council in the case of Kingston versus Gadd. The older authority was the judgment in the case of the Anapolis, in which the doctrine was laid down, in the most emphatic manner, that every people controls its own coastal trade. We have power to say to any ship engaged in our coastal trade that we give an exclusive right to that trade to all ships which pay acertain rate of wages, which employ a certain number of seamen, which adopt certain provisions for the safety of passengers, and which provide a certain equipment. We impose a whole set of conditions. Our control over all vessels engaged in that trade is. derived from the fact that without that compliance’ they cannot load and unload from port to port. Tims, in a Navigation Bill, we should undoubtedly have absolute power to deal with this question, and absolute power incidentally to make all foreign ships subject to our Arbitration Court and its awards. The point is, in my opinion, that we must first create our jurisdiction by passing a Navigation Bill. That having been done, we could bring in our Arbitration Court, and apply it to these foreign ships. Once we had made our coastal trade exclusive ; once we had imposed our conditions and exercised our power under a Navigation and Shipping Act. it would be perfectly within our competence to give our Arbitration Court control. It would be the proper body to step in at that stage. This is just what the Government propose to do. What was done in New Zealand? Have honorable - members looked at the New Zealand law in regard to this question ? Is it to be found in an Arbitration Act ? No ; it exists in the Shipping and Seamen’s Act. It has been suggested that New South Wales is exercising a certain power over foreign seamen through its Arbitration Court, but it does so in virtue of certain provisions in its Navigation Act and other measures. I understand that although nothing definite has been done in regard to the stevedores and certain competition to which they are subject, the Arbitration Court of New South Wales has expressed an opinion upon the matter. When coastal jurisdiction has been conferred by an Act of Parliament, the Arbitration Court will be allowed to carry out that jurisdiction. There is no better body - no body so good - as the Arbitration Court to deal with a question such as this. That court is the essential corollary to a navigation and shipping law. Under a navigation and shipping law we can, directly we act under express words, give foreign ships, as well as others, power to enter our coastal trade;- we can lay down conditions on which that trade shall be carried on, and we can enforce them, because we can get them in port. That, in my opinion, is the difference. Having obtained our jurisdiction, and being able to exercise the jurisdiction through the Arbitration Court, is altogether different from the indirect method proposed of merely giving the court power to deal with a particular matter, while not dealing with the trade as a whole, by simply saying that foreign seamen are to be subjected to the awards of the court. In my view the only way in which the object which my right honorable friend seeks to accomplish can be achieved is by putting into this measure what would amount practically to a small Navigation Bill, in this regard, by laying down the conditions of the coastal trade, and making this a condition.
– Is not the honorable and learned member’s argument rather against the inclusion of British ships in this sub-clause?
– I inserted those words in order to challenge the opinion of the House. I do not think they take us any further. If we have jurisdiction, as I think we have, the words mean nothing. If we have no jurisdiction, even in regard to British ships, then these words will not give it to us. That is my view.
– The . honorable gentleman calls this an amicable disagree- ment.
– It seems to be an attenuated one.
– It is necessary that the explanation should be in order that the matter may be made perfectly clear. The disagreement- is attenuated. The disagreement arose because my right, honorable friend, while probably satisfied to employ the same language in the Bill as his colleagues could use, would have told the House, in all candour and fairness, that it included foreign seamen. His colleagues, on the other hand, would have been obliged to inform honorable members that, in their opinion, it would not cover them. In such circumstances, what position would the House have been placed in ? Consequently, it is the frankest and more straightforward way to challenge the opinion of the House, and particularly the opinion of honorable members who belong to the legal profession, upon this question. I think I have done so at sufficient length. To my mind the character of this Bill, the order of leave, and all connected with it, prevent us from inserting in it . what would be really the provisions of a Navigation Bill. I think that nothing but a Navigation Bill could put into this measure the power which would enable us to deal with all British and foreign ships.
– Is the honorable gentleman relying on the order of leave ?
– He ought not to do so.
– Why ? .
– Because he had the whole matter in his own hands.
– But the right honorable member for South Australia who drew it holds that such a provision can be included in this Bill.
– If that is the position taken up by the honorable gentleman we may have to move a vote of censure.
– The honorable member may move whatever motion he pleases, but he ought to be careful to understand what is said. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, prepared the order of leave, and he holds that it covers these matters.
– If it does not do so it may be altered.
– Yes, but I think that neither it nor the Bill can be altered so as to meet the requirements of the case. It would be a different measure altogether if it dealt with the coastal trade of Australia, and laid down its conditions. In my view, that could not be done by altering the order of leave.
– That is our opinion.
– Why rely on the order of leave.
– In my opinion the Bill does not relate to foreign seamen. That is the difference between us.Icontend that just as we cannot bind the Crown unless we use express words, so we cannot deal with foreign ships except by legislating expressly and directly. Unless in an Act dealing with the Crown, we make it clear that we are dealing with it, the Crown is not affected. The parallel case holds good in regard to international questions relating to foreign ships and seamen. I submit that we cannot deal with them except in express words - which in this case would have to follow - under the jurisdiction which this House has, and can exercise by means of a Navigation Bill.
– How can Great Britain have power over foreign ships
– That is the distinction in Kingston v. Gadd. In that case the master of the ship came in with his seals broken. The Victorian Court put aside the question of whether or not it was an offence to break the seals on the high seas ; but if a ship comes into port with its seals broken we have power to make that an offence. Of course that provision was in a revenue law. In the same way, inNavigation Bill, we may make it an offence for a ship engaged in the Australian trade to fail to pay seamen the wages determined by the Arbitration Court. But if we sought to do so by means of award, Kingston v. Gadd would not help us. You wish to deal with the wages paid on the high seas. You seek to deal not with something done in port, but with something done on the high seas. If foreign ships could be brought within this Bill by the words desired to be used, the probability is that the court would say that they related only to the time during which those vessels were lying in port, or were within the three miles limit. That is quite conceivable. In point of fact, therefore, I submit that Kingston v. Gadd would not apply until we had secured our jurisdiction by means of a Navigation Act. The other exclusion relates to persons engaged -in domestic service. That is the New South Wales exclusion. I do not know if any one imagines that a strike of domestic servants extending beyond one State is likely to occur.
– There is a movement now to organize them.
– Before the Attorney-General deals with that matter, I should like to ask him a question. If a steamer after trading along the coast for three months went’ to India, and returning, again engaged in coastal trading, would she be treated as being in the coastal trade.
– I have some doubt on the point, and therefore, as mentioned before, I am going to adopt the words of the Constitution - “ First port of clearance and port of destination.” Those words will cover the case.
– Will clause 9 apply to every dispute ?
– A dispute must extend beyond one State before we can take cognisance of it. ‘
– Who is to decide that?
– Under clause 41, the certificate of the registrar is to be taken as primd facie evidence that the fact is as stated, and the question will be argued in court.
– In such circumstances, a person ignorant of the true facts might be liable to a penalty.
– No court would impose a penalty unless it was in regard to an industrial dispute extending beyond one State. Men cannot be punished for doing something which they are entitled to do within any one State.
– This Bill goes much be-> yond the New South Wales and New Zealand Acts so far as it relates to industries.
-I do not think that, so far as industries are concerned, it goes beyond the provisions of the New South Wales Act. In one sense it does not go so far, because it does not include the Commonwealth Public Service or the bodies under it. The New South Wales Act does so. It also excludes domestic servants, but’ no other body of servants, so far as I am aware.
– Does it include agricultural industries ?
– Yes, all classes of employment.
– How does the Bill define “domestic servant?”
– I think that the meaning of domestic service is fairly well known.
– It might be held to refer to grooms or gardeners.
– Persons engaged in those occupations have their special designation. A question to which an honorable member called attention, some time ago, related to preferential employment. Preferential employment is referred to in the definition of “ industrial matters “ in clause 6, which sets forth that “industrial matters “ include -
All matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employes, and the employment, preferential employment, dismissal, or nonemployment of any particular person or of persons of any particular sex or age, or being or not being members of any organization, body, or society.
In paragraph (c) of clause 63, where the common rule and its limits are dealt with, it will be observed that there is power to deal with persons employed in an industry -
Whether as employers or employes, and whether members of an organization or not, and to fix penalties for any breach or non-observance of the common rule so declared, and to specify to whom they are to be paid.
There is also a valuable power in paragraph (/’), which enables the court to dismiss merely trivial disputes, so that its time may not be wasted. It will be observed that clause 64 provides that the court may exercise all its powers on its own motion. A guarantee that this course will not be unduly taken in regard to any matter determined is given by the words at the end of the clause which provides that -
No order or award shall be varied and no submission shall be re-opened except on the application of an organization or person affected or agreed by the order or award
In clause 65 there is express power to prescribe the minimum rate of wages or other remuneration, and to direct that as between the members of organizations and others preference shall be given to such members. Power is also given to appoint a tribunal to decide in what cases employment shall be given or refused, so that, so far as I am aware, no necessary power included in any Australian measure to which I have referred is absent from the Bill. But there are a few points in which new departures are taken. Among the most important provisions in that respect are clauses 26 and 27. It must be remembered at every stage that the court is to be a Federal Court, to operate in a Federal manner. Therefore it is clearly impossible to unduly centralize its administration. It is necessary to make it possible for the court to deal with disputes occurring contemporaneously at widely distant places, provided that they each extend beyond the limits of a State. To this end provisions have been introduced into the Bill, which are not contained in any of the State Acts. Clause 26, for instance, gives power to appoint additional members for particular disputes in cases where special knowledge is required. “ Special knowledge courts “ may be appointed by the reinforcement of the ordinary court in any part of the Commonwealth. Where any subsidiary matter is to be considered, provision is made for the appointment of these additional members to what may be termed subsidiary courts, of which the chairman will be either a Justice of the High Court or a Justice of the Supreme Court of a State. These subsidiary courts can be appointed to sit in any part of the Commonwealth to deal with an industrial dispute which has arisen at a time when the main court is fully occupied. Clauses 26’ and 27, therefore, contain elastic provisions for the creation of deputy courts, and under clause 28 the President may appoint some person to be his deputy in any part of the Commonwealth. Under clause 37, any State industrial authority may request the court to deal with any industrial dispute, and under clause 40, the court may require any State industrial authority to cease hearing an industrial dispute, so that it may be disposed of by the Federal Court. Thus we avoid having the -same dispute judged by two authorities, perhaps sitting in different places. The effect of that provision should be to secure co-operation between the States Courts and the Federal Court, which will be advantageous to both. The State Court, if so empowered by the Parliament of its State, may transmit what is really a Federal dispute to the Federal Court. Under clause 38, when there is no State industrial authority the Governor of the State may request the court to deal with an industrial dispute. Under clause 56 the court may temporarily refer, any matters before it to a Conciliation Committee appointed by itself. That provision is inserted so that the court may make arrangements for the carrying out of work to which it is not able’ to attend because it is otherwise engaged. The power is an important one, but parallel provisions exist in the legislation of two of the States. Clause 60 is important. Under it the court may disembarrass itself of a dispute which appears to it not to extend beyond a State, and can be better dealt with by a local board. It may transfer a dispute to a local industrial board for investigation and report, and supervise its findings.
– What is meant by supervising its findings ?
– The court may give to a local industrial board merely the powerof investigation without the power of decision. The board may take evidence, and where the matter is one of conciliation it may be allowed to settle the dispute by amicable agreement. Owing to the immense area over which inquiries will have to be conducted, it is provided in clause 62 that the court may depute any qualified person to take evidence on its behalf. Honorable gentlemen will see how thoroughly the Federal principle is recognised throughout the Bill, and how the vastness of the Commonwealth territory is realized. The court is enabled by every possible device to obtain and to give assistance for the settlement of industrial disputes everywhere. It is not compelled to visit every place at which a dispute occurs, or to take itself all the evidence it requires, or even to decide all disputes, but may work in connexion with the States authorities, or may appoint others to act on its behalf. Paragraphs (a) and (c) of clause 65 provide that when the court has given its award it may leave its execution in regard to technical and other particular points to minor tribunals. Under clause 104 authority is .given to persons making an industrial agreement to provide in it for a tribunal foi1 its interpretation in case of dispute, but if they do not make such provision, its interpretation will fall to the court. All provision possible has been made to avoid unnecessary expense and delay in travelling by requiring the court to deal on the spot with every matter coming before it. It can brush aside trivial disputes, refer small matters to sudsidiary courts, -take evidence by deputy, and then pronounce its decision. A very important part of the measure is that which relates to the organizations of employers and employes. It is by means of such a provision that the excellent work which has been done in New Zealand has been accomplished. Any person employing over 100 persons, or any body of employes exceeding 100, may be registered as an organization, and under clause 82 any persons lawfully associated for the purpose of furthering or protecting the interests of employers or employes may be so- registered. Every organization registered under the Act is under clause 87 given perpetual succession, a common seal, and power to hold property. Under clause 88 organizations may sue and be sued, with the protection given by the New South Wales Act, that organizations are to be liable to be sued only in connexion with disputes arising “under the Bill. Bv clause 92 power is conferred to deal with those who seek to avoid coming under the provisions of the measure by neglecting to organize. This is a reserve power, and, though rarely required, may be brought into use in such cases as have been suggested by interjections, when the real parties to a dispute try to put themselves beyond the law by not organizing and registering. In such cases the GovernorGeneral may, on the recommendation of the President, and only on his recommendation, by proclamation, declare that the measure applies to any trade, union, or association, which shall then be deemed to be an organization under the Bill. Clause 95 gives the GovernorGeneral power, on the recommendation of the President, to revoke such proclamation, and clauses 96 and 97 provide for the refusal to register organisations under certain circumstances, and for the cancellation of registration ; but applications for the cancellation of registration are, under clause 98, subject to appeal to the President. In schedule B will be found the conditions to be complied with by organizations applying for registration. Part VII. of the Bill provides for the enforcement of the decisions of the court. Under clause 15, in Part II., the President receives control of proposed prosecutions arising under clauses 11 and 13, which prohibit employers from dismissing employes and employes from ceasing to work on account of awards. Proceedings in such cases can be taken only with the leave of the President. Underclause 54, the President may require security if he has reason to believe that any appeal is being made to him for a vexatious purpose, and he desires to be satisfied of the bona fides of the parties. Under clause 55 no security required shall exceed £200, or £100 where the organization of employes does not exceed 100 members. Clause 69 supplies the chief means for the enforcement of awards. These awards are binding on all courts of the Commonwealth and of the States. Clause 70 contains a limitation as to the issue of process for the enforcement of an award, and clause 73 enables the court to proceed, if other methods fail, by means of an order in the nature of a mandamus or injunction to compel compliance with and to restrain breaches of awards under pain of imprisonment. Another clause also deals with imprisonment. Under clause 8 a person convicted of an offence for which a pecuniary penalty is provided may be directed not to continue or repeat it under pain of imprisonment.
– Would that provision apply if a man determined to close his business rather than comply with the decision of the court?
– I do not suppose it would. Everything would depend upon the circumstances under which the business was closed. Clause 117 provides for the recovery of penalties in any court of summary jurisdiction. Some of the penalties provided for are large, but they must be large because they are for extreme offences committed by rich and powerful bodies and organizations.
– Where a penalty is named, is it the maximum penalty?
– Yes; that is provided in clause 7. In regard to this measure, as in regard to any other, he who wishes the end wishes the means. A Bill without penalties and sanctions would be idle. The penalties look severe, but they are provided only for those who resist, or are recalcitrant, or defy the law. The provisions of the Bill must be asserted or they become a dead letter. There is a minor matter to which I should like to call attention. It was originally proposed to prohibit members of the legal profession from appearing before the court. That is done in New Zealand but not in New South Wales, and the Chairman of the New South Wales Court, Mr. Justice Cohen, has permitted me to say that he has many times found cases to be shortened, and expense saved, because he had before him professional men who understood at once the effect of some decision as to evidence, or on some other point which showed them the hopelessness of proceeding further in a certain direction. It is not a vital matter, but as my latehonorable colleague entertains certain viewson this question, and as provision has not been made in the Bill, it is only fair to mention it. I have directed attention to every important clause, and do not think it is required of me toendeavour to draw any further deduction or to make any other appeal. The patience with which members have been good enough to listen to a lengthy exposition is of itself a sufficient evidence that they areapproaching this question in all seriousness. We realize the immensity of the task with which we are grappling, and believethat the means recommended for its accomplishment are not insufficient. Large as isthe claim made by this Bill, and extreme as may be theadvance it marks, yet, so far as foresight enables us to judge, we have provided authority and power for every contingency that can arise. For this, as I havealready indicated, we are chiefly indebted to the profound knowledge of the whole subject possessed by my right honorable and learned friend, Mr.Kingston. But weare all deeply concerned in the successof this measure, and any amendment which can be suggested in Committee to makedubious points more clear or to render themeasure more distinctly effective will be welcome. Our object is to place upon thestatutebook an Act upon which the Federal Legislature of the future may rely. Undoubtedly the Bill will hereafter need amendment, and undoubtedly it will need additions, but we believe that the schemeupon which it is framed is broad enough, and that its outlines are clear enough topermit of these amendments being made in the future, not only without altering its spirit, but without noticeably altering its form. Wehope to accomplish all that is now possible in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Wehope to provide tribunals which may be found capable of any task submitted tothem or of enduring any strain that domestic difficulties may possibly impose. The measure aims at a gradual, slow, but sure achievement, of fair hours, fair wages, and fair conditions of labour. It seeks to accomplish this by steps taken in consonance with the circumstances of the country, and with its industrial advance. Its object is to place employers on the samefooting one with another so that the most scrupulous and the most generous - as many of them are - shall not be hampered by such qualities in the struggle to maintain themselves against the competition of less worthy men. It aims at placing employes under obligations and control that will prevent the rebellious breaking away of unruly unionists, in consequence of their dislike of any award. It seeks to bring both employer and employes into line, and to connect them by amicable agreements or equitable awards. As such, this is a measure of the first importance to the Commonwealth - of the first importance to industrial workers all the world over. When the Federal suffrage was extended throughout this great continent, heart and hope were given to the supporters of the feminine movement in other parts of the world, and a Federal Industrial Act, applying as far as we can make . it apply, will give equal heart and courage to workers and employers in every land. The task here commenced will be long and painful. There will be painful incidents, there will be the inevitable swing of the pendulum, and many obstacles will have to be surmounted. But, at least, the aim with which we have commenced is high, and, at least, the desire with which we have framed this measure is honest. Social justice is a lofty aim. It has not been sought to enforce it in any special form upon any special class, or in the interests of any one class. The Bill has been drawn from, first to last, looking upon the employer and employ^ with strictly equal eyes, with a view to bringing them before the Bar of a tribunal where in consonance with the principles dear to all British people, they shall have meted out to them even-handed justice - an even-handed justice whose fruits shall go home with them, affecting their lives, and those of their families, felt in all their surroundings, and opening up to them prospects of true profit and advancement. We have trusted for centuries to the various tribunals erected for the administration of civil justice, and I hope that we shall begin from this day forth to trust to these courts for industrial justice.
Debate (on motion by Sir William McMillan) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th July, vide page 2802) :
Clauses 10 to 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 -
There shall be a Public Seal of the Territory, to be kept arid used by the Lieutenant-Governor for sealing all things that pass the Public Seal.
Until a Public Seal of the Territory is provided, the Seal of the Lieutenant-Governor shall be used- as the Public Seal of the Territory.
– I think that until a public seal is provided the seal of the Territory, in use before the Bill was passed, should continue to be employed. Therefore, I move -
That the word “ public” be inserted before the word “ seal,” line o, and that the M’ords “ LieutenantGovernor,” line 5, be omitted with a view to insert the words “ Possession of British New Guinea in use before this Act. “
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17. - (Appointment of officers.)
– I notice that the title Lieutenant-Governor is used as applying to the Administrator of the Territory, and I desire to know whether there is any special object in using that title instead of that of Governor.
– Under the old regime, the Lieutenant-Governor of British New Guinea w.as sometimes known as the Administrator, but was more generally addressed by his proper title. My object in adopting the title of LieutenantGovernor was to make some distinction between the Governors of the States and the Governor of the Territory. To my mind it is better to give him that designation than to call him “ Governor “ before the Territory has assumed the functions of a State. Of course, when the Territory becomes a State, he will obtain the title of “ Governor “ as a matter of course.
– What about the case of Canada ?
– The relations between the provinces in Canada are very different from those of these States under our Constitution. In Canada the provinces are much more subordinate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
The Lieutenant Government may, in pursuance of any ordinance, make and execute, under the public seal of the Territory, in the name and on behalf of the King, grants and dispositions of any land within the Territory which may be granted or disposed of in the name of the King in conformity with the laws, of the Territory.
– I hope that honorable members will negative this clause. If that is done I shall move the insertion of another clause which provides that no land at present held by the Crown in New Guinea, or which may afterwards be acquired there, shall be alienated. My object is to prevent, as far as possible, the private ownership of land. At the same time I desire to bring that principle into operation without inflicting injustice upon the present holders. I claim that it would be wise if the community could adopt some measure by which they could appropriate to themselves the increment which is given to land by the increase of population. Dining the Federal elections the question of the future capital site was discussed at considerable length, and candidates were frequently questioned as to whether they would oppose the alienation of the fee simple of Commonwealth territory. A large number of them declared themselves in favour of the leasing system. The same principle is embodied in my proposal. I am1 aware that one objection is frequently raised to this principle, which nearly everybody regards as theoretically sound. It is urged that it would be unfair to the holders of land in settled communities to impose a tax which would have the effect of appropriating for State purposes the whole of its unimproved value. In New Guinea, however, we are making a fresh start, and the time, therefore, is singularly opportune for putting this principle into operation. It is true that its present white population numbers only 500, but possibly in 50 or “100 years’ time it will contain as many white inhabitants as does the Commonwealth to-day. Most assuredly, when the land is cleared and properly drained, and when science is able to combat some of the evils which naturally attach to a tropical climate, the population will considerably increase. In my judgment it is to be deplored that the authorities in Australia did not early adopt the principle which I am advocating. Had they done so, we should now be receiving a revenue from the land which would be far in excess of the expenditure necessary for the purposes of Government. According to Coghlan the unimproved value of the privately-owned land in Australia aggregates £350,000,000, or 38 per cent, of the value of all the land within the Commonwealth. The principle of private ownership is one towhich honorable members have paid a good deal of attention. Most of them feel that, as the country was alienated in the first instance, very little can now be done towardscarrying out their ideal of a leasing system in the Commonwealth. In the case of New Guinea, however, we are in a position to attain that ideal, and therefore I submit theamendment.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the present clause is merely a machinery provision. It gives the LieutenantGovernor power in pursuance of any ordinance to execute grants and dispositions of land in the Territory which may begranted or disposed of under the Government in the name of the King, and in conformity with the laws of the Territory. Some such provision would have to find a place . in the Bill under any circumstances to enable the Lieutenant-Governor to carry outany law that might be passed in referenceto the disposal of Crown lands, whether by grant or lease. If this clause be retained, it will not affect the honorable member’s” proposal. It is not a provision with regard to the alienation of Crown lands ; it is a mere matter of machinery. If the clausebe retained the honorable member will stilL have an opportunity of submitting his new clause, and, of course, that, if carried, would govern the operation of the one under consideration. I ask the honorable member to allow the provision toremain in its present form. Then, if hewishes to make a substantive proposal: governing the Crown lands of the Territory,, he can do so as the Opportunity presents itself, either as a new clause or otherwiseI am not urging anything in opposition tohis proposal, but simply pointing out whatis necessary in the drafting of a measure of this kind. At the same time I ask him to hesitate before pressing his amendment, notwithstanding that he bases it upon the claim that the principle involved is identical with that which we hope to see adopted iri connexion with the Federal capital siteThat matter, however, occupies rather a. different position from that of a Territorylike New Guinea. It is true that it affordsan opportunity - as does this - for the initiation of a new policy in regard to land law,, but there is another consideration which is worth noting, namely, that in a new
Territory such as New Guinea, people are very chary about taking up land. Until means of communication are ample and the appliances of civilization spread, they are not as a rule disposed to take up land.
– The settler is not disposed to do so, but the speculator i3 always ready.
– That is a reason not for prohibiting the sale of land, but for preventing it from being so disposed of, that it will fall into the maw of the speculator.
– Is land alienation indispensable to settlement 1
– I am merely pointing out that in this instance it is not desirable to insist upon non-alienation. In unsettled communities such as British New Guinea men will exercise their preferences, and if they cannot obtain land in the way that they desire they will probably take none. In a case like this it is necessary that there should be at any rate some temptation to a man to settle, otherwise he will not brave the dangers from the savages, the perils of the climate, and the various other drawbacks which one need not mention. In our experience of the Territory we find that there has been a very great hesitation to take up land there. Methods may have been followed similar to those which are always observed in young communities, but nevertheless that hesitation has been most pronounced. It is true that efforts have been made by parties, such as the Somers Vine Syndicate to secure more land than ought to be allowed to any one person or few persons, but that is a matter which may be dealt with by legislation. I would suggest that the matter should be left as open as possible, full scope being given to the leasing system, in order that people may have an opportunity to settle if they prefer long leases to freehold terms ; but I favour making the areas of which the freeholds may be secured smaller than they are at present. I would hesitate very much to lay down any one system in such a way that if persons would not take up land under it, British New Guinea would remain largely unoccupied, and its progress would be stagnated. I do not think that any one desires to see such a state of things.
– I find that the words “ in pursuance of any ordinance “ appear in the clause. 7 k
– The words refer to any ordinance now passed, or which may hereafter be passed. It is proposed to preserve the existing ordinances, save so far as they may be altered by any fresh law of the Territory or the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth Parliament is virtually the custodian of these lands, and has a right to see what is done with them. If we do not ‘ see these ordinances we cannot exercise that control.
– The ordinances, with the exception of some of the later ones, are contained in a publication entitled The Laws and Ordinances of British New Guinea, which is to be found in the Library. It was published under the auspices of the Government of Queensland in 1S98. Even if we do . not pass this Bill, there will still be power to legislate in Papua by way of ordinance. .We propose to allow that power to be exercised, and to be exercised, I hope, by a liberalized Legislative Council. We propose to continue that power, because with regard to most matters of internal government those on the spot will in the main exercise better judgment “than we can hope to do, inasmuch as we have never been on - the island, and are living at a great distance from it. I have already explained that every ordinance which may be passed by the Legislative Council of the Territory can be disallowed or vetoed by the GovernorGeneral, acting with the advice of his Ministers, so that we shall have in our hands the complete power to legislate as we please with reference to this Possession, supposing we think that the circumstances are such as to demand legislation by us. Thus there is no danger in a machinery provision of this kind. I think it is desirable that the laws and ordinances of the Territory should make ample and liberal provisions for leasing, but I should be sorry to see the Bill made so restrictive as to other forms of occupation that, if the leasing system failed, we should not be able to secure any other class of settlement. , We wish to prevent large purchases of land or “land grabs,” and those who desire to prevent that kind of thing will find in me a faithful ally.
– Does the Prime Minister contemplate settling British New Guinea with white people 1
– By as many as may desire to go there. I am quite at one with the honorable member in thinking that for a long time to come the main settlement must in any event relate to natives of the soil, and I shall not be a party to anything which tends to the effacement of the natives. I desire our policy to be such as to enable the races to live side by side in comfort.
– Is the Government proposing to reserve any area, of land for the special purposes of the natives?
– I understand that there are ordinances dealing with that matter. If I find that they are not sufficient I shall use my influence in the direction of securing their improvement. It must not be forgotten that the legislation of the Possession can be influenced so far as it is legitimate to do so by the responsible advisers of the Crown.
– Does the Prime Minister accept the amendment indicated by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn ?
– I have accepted both of his amendments. If we can set up two policies side by side in regard to the acquirement of land, we should do so. I should not like to make the one policy so exclusive that if it failed settlement would stagnate.
-Where the option is given, leasing will always fail.
– That is as much as to say that the leasing policy is one which the people do not like. It seems to me that we might make the terms of leasing so satisfactory - the time has not yet come for rack-renting - as to induce the people to prefer it. That is what I have proposed. But in the event of the leasing system failing, we should require the power of sale.
– Let us give leasing a trial.
– We should give both systems a trial on terms which should lead men to prefer the leasing system. There is another objection which I have to urge to any proposal of thy kind. I wish to point out that this measure is intended to provide a Constitution for Papua. It is not intended to comprise a body of laws. It is altogether of the nature of a machinery Bill, and in my own proposals I have disencumbered it of anything which might provoke controversy as to the laws of the Possession. This is to be the Constitution of the Possession, so far as it can be a Constitution, and it is not a very drastic one. Specific laws may be passed by the Legislative Council.
– The same argument would shut out the proposal that we should prohibit the sale of spirits in the Possession.
– It would not matter if it did so ; because it would be quite competent for Parliament to pass a Bill to-morrow if it chose to do so to shut out alcohol from the island. I contend, however, that this Bill is not a proper one for enactments for the better government of the Possession. It is simply a machinery Bill by which the government of the Possession is to be carried on. The laws are to be passed, after this Constitution has been acquired, either by the Legislative Council of the Territory, or, in cases where we care to assert our supreme authority, by ourselves. It is better not to break into that principle of legislation which, as the honorable member knows, is to be commended. There is an ordinance as to the sale of alcohol which, although it does not apply to the white population, is very drastic in its application to the natives. I have not heard a single complaint as to the blacks being supplied with liquor in British New Guinea.
– Is not that complained of ?
– The administration has been good in the past because there has been a succession of Governors - including Sir William McGregor, one of the finest Governors of a Crown colony we have ever known - whose administration, although. very mild and pacific in relation to the blacks, has yet been firm. I suggest that, as this is a machinery clause, it should be allowed to remain, even if the honorable member subsequently carries his proposal. I have often announced my approval of ieasing as a.pplied to Federal territory. I think it is a most businesslike proposal. But, on the other hand, I doubt whether it would be a businesslike proposal to apply at the present moment to this Possession. I do not think we ought to retard the advancement of this young Territory by arresting settlement. I wish to ask honorable members not to endeavour to load this Bill with proposals which should relate to subsequent enactments. If they bring forward such proposals they will receive my best attention, but they should be embodied in subsequent measures. If I find that the ordinance as to liquor is not working well, I will have the matter brought under the notice of the LieutenantGovernor by the Governor-General, with the view to some ordinance of a more drastic character being passed. If measures of that kind are to be undertaken, I think that the opportunity should first be given to the self-governing machinery of the Territory to deal with them. If that anachinery fails to do what we contemplate, we shall still have in reserve the power of the ComiBonwealth to legislate in the way that it thinks fit.
– I think the Prime Minister is perfectly correct in his contention- that it would not, be light to insert the amendment at the point proposed, and that the clause is absolutely necessary as a machinery one. Whether we lease or grant the fee-simple, we must have a clause to dispose of the Crown lands. They must be disposed of either by lease or by Crown grant.
– The word “ grant “ is also a term used by conveyancers in regard to the issue of leases.
– Yes. If a lease is granted there must be some document in connexion with it. But when the right honorable and learned gentleman touched on the main principle, I think he ‘ was entirely wrong. If I am not mistaken, he is entirely opposed to the consensus of opinion of this Committee, that the Bill should provide for the non-alienation, of the feesimple of the land of this Territory. When we remember the experience of the States, and of other countries where land has been taken -from aboriginal races, we must admit that great disadvantages have arisen through its alienation in fee simple to private holders, and that great benefits could have been secured if the principle of leasing had been adopted. The Prime Minister said that the principle of leasing, with which he seems to be somewhat in sympathy, ought not to be provided for in this Bill.
– Not exclusively at first.
– The Commonwealth by this Bill is taking over territory and providing for its Government, and one of the first matters to be considered in connexion with such a transaction is the agrarian question. We should from the first prevent the alienation of land in fee simple. When the Prime Minister was in England, and the Attorney-General was acting for him, I suggested, during the discussion upon the Estimates of the proposed annual grant of £20,000 for the administration of British New Guinea, that the sale of Crown land there should be stopped, and he appeared to be in accord with me on the subject, but referred to the difficulty of inducing settlers to go to New Guinea if they could not purchase land there. He told the Committee that there is no disposition on the part of people residing elsewhere to go to New Guinea, and that we must offer inducements for the settlement of the country. But, in my opinion, we can better afford to allow the Territory to remain as it is for the next 50 years than allow the ordinary speculator to buy up the land. I think that a great part of the argument of the Prime Minister can be disposed of by the consideration that if we adopt the principle of leasing - and I do not care how liberal the terms upon which the land is leased may be - it will be easy, if afterwards thought desirable, to revert to to the system of selling. But, if in the first instance we part with the fee simple of the land, we cannot get it back for the purpose of leasing it, except by the costly process of resumption. Personally I do not think that we shall gain much by taking over British New Guinea, and to my mind the Territory will be a white elephant for many years to come. However, as Australia has accepted the burden on behalf of the Empire, I think we should look ahead, and try to induce settlement rather by offering the land for lease on very liberal terms than by endeavouring to raise money for the development of the Territory by the alienation of its land. It will be better for ourselves, for the Empire, and for the native population of New Guinea if we adopt the principle of leasing, even if we have to increase our annual subsidy, than if we alienate the land to land speculators, who would do nothing for its development until an increase in the settlement, or other circumstances, gave them an opportunity to obtain a profit by trafficking in it. I am in sympathy with the object of the mover of the amendment, though I think, that as drafted, it cannot very well be inserted in the clause. Some proviso, however, should be added to the clause, or a new clause be inserted, to express the wish of the Committee that the lands of the territory shall be leased and not sold. In my opinion such a provision is necessary in the interests of the natives of New G Mines If the idea of obtaining au immediate increase of revenue by the sale of these lands is enter- tained, an act of gross and harsh injustice to the natives will be perpetrated, whereas the system of leasing can be carried out with proper consideration for their interests. The whole matter is one of vital importance, and its humanitarian aspect is no less important than its commercial aspect. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has. pointed out how much better off the people of the States would be if the principle of leasing had been adopted from the first. That principle was adopted in Tasmania, the land being sold subject to a quit rent ; but the first Legislature of Tasmania commuted these quit rents in the interests of its own members.
– The first grants were in fee simple.
– Some of them were ; but subsequently, nearly all the land was alienated subject to the payment of a quit rent. We should endeavour to prevent the enactment of laws for the alienation of the land of New Guinea. To do so is to follow a principle which is sound commercially, on humanitarian grounds, and for the future development of the Territory, and its adoption will be the best thing in the long run for the Commonwealth and the Territory.
– I do not agree with the attitude of the Prime Minister in regard to the inadvisability of providing in the Bill for the nonalienation of the lands of New Guinea. In my opinion, we cannot begin too early in such a matter, and, in a Bill of this kind, it is one of our first duties to make a declaration regarding the principles of ‘land tenure to obtain in the Territory. I agree with the right honorable gentleman, however, that it is not to be expected that we shall have a very large number of settlers who intend to acquire land and remain in New Guinea for many years to come. But the absence of persons anxious to obtain land in fee-simple, in order to settle upon it and work it, is an advantage to those who want to acquire it’ for the purposes of speculation, because they are thus enabled to secure it at low prices, owing to the want of competition. It- is, therefore, urgently necessary that we should, from the beginning, prohibit the alienation of land in Papua. The leasing system is the better one to adopt in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I think will also prove better in the interestsof settlers than the system of sale. It must be recognised that if we make the; terms upon which land can be leased sufficiently liberal, people will be as ready tolease land as to purchase it. We are in a position to give liberal terms, and we can best conserve the interests of the natives of New Guinea, who should receive our first consideration, by adopting the principle of leasing. In leasing the land we can not only secure to them their present rights, but can afford them opportunities to ascend the scale of civilization by preventing the speculator from trafficking in it. We have been told that the Territory contains enormous mineral wealth, and that its soil will grow with marked success all kinds of tropical products. But if the land can be sold in fee simple, large areas of it may be acquired and held by speculators, who may prevent persons desiring to cultivate or to use it in other ways from obtaining possession of it. Furthermore, the conditions of the natives undersuch circumstances will practically amount to a state of semi-slavery. The industrial legislation passed by this House would’ beevaded, and our desires frustrated, if these tropical products were raised by the labourof the natives, exploited by the speculator. Not only will the practice of selling theland give opportunities to exploit the country, but its unfortunate aboriginal inhabitants will be dispossessed of their property, and will become virtually the bond’ slaves of those who acquire it.
– The existing land’ ordinances protect the natives.
– But if large areas of land got into the hands of a few people, who desired to take advantage of the labour of the natives - a condition of things neveryet seen in Australia, and one which we donot wish to see in any part of the British dominions over which we have control - all sorts of evils might happen. I think that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie mightvery well draft a- short proviso to carryout the wishes of the Committee, to beadded to the clause. It would still be possible for the Government -of New Guinea to- lease the land, and to do everything necessary to induce settlement; but it would make it absolutely impossible for it to pass ordinances for its alienation in fee simple.
-The clause provides that the Lieutenant-Governor may, in pursuance of any ordinance, make and execute grants and dispositions of any land. Therefore, it appears that the land may be disposed of by means of an ordinance, of which we as a Parliament may have no knowledge. I think that we might insert after the word “ordinance” “or any law of the Commonwealth.”
– The honorable member’s object would be better achieved by omitting the words “in pursuance of any ordinance” and inserting the word “lawfully” before the word “granted.”
Amendments (by Mr. Ewing) agreed to -
That the words “in pursuance of tiny ordinance” be omitted, and that the word “ lawfully” be inserted befoie the word “granted.”
Amendment (by Sir Edmund Barton) agreed to -
That the words “in conformity with the laws of the Territory “ be omitted.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie). - I accept the Prime Minister’s assurance that there is nothing in the clause inimical to my atnendaxient, and therefore I move -
That the following words beadded - “But land lield by the Crown, whether at present in possession or hereafter acquired, shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of except upon an annual a’ental based on its unimproved value.”
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I should like to support the amendment, but I do not think that it will have the’ desired effect. The honorable member’s desire is to prevent any grant of the absol ute freehold ; but the amendment will have the effect of pre- ‘ venting the sale only, and we must be careful to use words which will not only convey our meaning, but achieve our purpose. I would suggest that we should provide that there shall be no grant of Crown lands for any freehold estate, and that, except as permitted by proclamation by the GovernorGeneral, no lease of Crown lands shall be given. Under’ such a provision, no alienation could take place, whilst in the case of leaseholds, the form of the lease, its conditions, and the assessment upon the unimproved value, if such assessment bedesirable, would be subject to the control of the Government of the Commonwealth, which would be responsible to this Parliament. Before the proclamation could have effect it would have to lie upon the table of this House for a certain time in order to afford us an opportunity of indicating our wishes.
– The honorable, and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has suggested an amendment to clause 37 to which I have consented, and which, I think, covers the ground desired by the honorable and learned member.
– The. proposal of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is not sufficient, because he proposes that land may be alienated subject only to the ordinance for the alienation being laid before Parliament. My object is to provide that there shall be no alienation for freehold, and that leaseholds shall be granted in pursuance of regulations to be framed by the GovernorGeneral, so that we may exercise the ultimate control.
– Of course the honorable and learned member would be prepared to leave the details as to the rentals to be fixed to the local administration.
– Yes, I want the local administration to make the proposals subject to our final approval. Personally, I am in favour of the view of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I know that two objections might be taken. It might be urged that, as we are framing a Constitution for” Papua, this Bill is not the place in which to make the provision now proposed. I do not, however, see any force in that objection. There is a great difference between dealing with a country such as Australia, which is under a free Parliament, and with a country which isnotunderafree Parliament, but which is inhabited mostly by natives who are helpless. Under these conditions it is reasonable that we should provide that the LieutenantGovernor and a few official advisers should have constitutional powet- to permanently alienate land. It has been urged that unless we allow the fee-simple to be alienated no inducement will be offered to settlement. That is an absolute mistake. For the past fifteen years power has existed to alienate the lands of British New Guinea at a very low price. Yet in the year 1901-2 the total revenue derived from the sale and leasing of land was only £698 17s. 10d.,
– That was mostly obtained from leases.
– The total quantity’ of land which has been alienated is only 1,155 acres, of which 538 acres have been given to the missions, and 617 acres to other people. At the present time there are no less than 696,421 acres of ungranted land as against only 1,155 acres which have been alienated. I repeat that though the power to acquire the fee-simple of this country has existed for many years apparently nobody is disposed to purchase it. Naturally people are disinclined to buy land in a barbarous and malarial country which enjoys scarcely any means of communication. But as soon as a rush sets in to New Guinea speculators will buy up the land and practically levy tribute upon the workers. I know of cases in which most valuable Crown lands, capable of supporting a dense population, had been held by speculative individuals, who have thus retarded the development of a whole district. Within fifty miles of Melbourne some splendid localities for seaside residences have been kept idle, simply because they are in the hands of speculators. The truth is that the granting in fee simple to everybody who will buy has the effect of retarding settlement. But whatever we may think of the rights and wrongs of the alienation which has taken place in Australia, where we have a free people and a free Parliament, we must be careful not to part with country upon which there are aboriginal natives who are unable to look after their own interests. To my mind, one of the most abominable features in our colonization is that these men are frequently left without a foot of land in the home of their fathers. I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie j but, if he will permit me to do so, I should like to substitute some words which I think will achieve his purpose better than those which he has used. I suggest that the following words should be added -
Provided that no grant of Crown lands for any freehold estate shall oe made, and, except as permitted by proclamation to be made by the GovernorGeneral,’ no lease or other alienation of Crown lands shall be given.
– I am very pleased to find that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, whom we all recognise as a constitutional authority in this House, is in sympathy with the amendment submitted. That proposal merely places a limitation upon the powers conferred under this measure, which is really a Constitution Bill. It merely seeks to lay down a general principle, leaving the administration of itsdetails to the local authorities in New Guinea. In my judgment, under the new conditions of government, that Territory islikely to be settled in a few years much morethan it has been heretofore. It appears to me that of all places it is the one where weshould provide against the alienation of thefeesimple of the land, because we must paydue regard to its Very considerable nativepopulation. So far only a portion of that population is sufficiently civilized to render it safe for a white man to reside amongst them, and, to the extent that we deprive them of land, we shall compel them, to live upon smaller areas. Under the system of selling land, I hold that it isimpossible to keep out the speculator. I very much doubt whether the PrimeMinister is so innocent as to think thatwe can prevent syndicates from obtaining; large areas, even though the law may limit the area to be sold. An arrangement might very easily be made to dummy it.. It is absolutely impossible to prevent theaggregation of large estates. I think thatthe Prime Minister would be acting wisely if he framed a clause which would carry outwhat is evidently the feeling of the Committee. Prom the point of view presented by the right .honorable gentleman, I am strongly of opinion that the Territory ismore likely to be developed under the land-leasing system than it is by parting; with the fee-simple.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Altogether apart from the question of’ principle involved in the amendment, there is another aspect of this matter which appeals to me very strongly.. My chief consideration in connexion with New Guinea is how we can best preserveits lands to the natives. I have no desireto develop the extraordinary white settlement which some honorable members seem: so anxious to establish there, because themoment that extensive settlement commences our troubles with that countrywill begin. I agree that we should takeover the control of British, New Guinea,, but I trust that the main object of our administration of that Territory will be tocontrol it in the interests of the natives. ] It is their home, and we should permit as-. little interference as possible on the part of the white people. I regard the acquisition of the Territory as valuable, only because it gives us control over land which might otherwise be regarded as a menace to Australia. That is the chief point of view from which we should regard it. .Any one who has read the reports relating to New Guinea from time to time, must know that troubles are already budding forth, owing to the demands which are being made by the settlers already there for an increased expenditure upon the development of the country. The reports of the surveyors are flooded with recommendations relating to complaints of settlers who desire roads and tracks to be made for them. It seems to me that all this will open the way to an endless succession of troubles for Australia. I do not know that there is any occasion to encourage our population to go to such a place. So far as we can learn, it is an inhospitable region; the natives themselves are in a condition of semi-savagery, and altogether a momentous problem presents itself for the future consideration of Australia. I think it will be quite time enough to lay down conditions calculated to induce settlement in that country when we have peopled Australia with white settlers to a greater extent than at present, and have made all our resources available to them. I do not think we should do anything which would induce people to go to Papua to settle and to open up the country. We shall best conserve the interests of Australia by doing everything we can to make the natives of the Possession contented and to keep them in their own homes.
– I find myself in thorough accord with the honorable member for Parramatta. I hope that the Government will adopt the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and supported so ably by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. There is no question that, unless we do something in this direction, land aggrandizement and land gambling will be the result.
– And absenteeism.
– Yes. In the course of conversation with a missionary within the precincts of this House during the present week, I was assured that capitalists were waiting for a “land grab” in British New Guinea. The fertility of the soil, and the possibilities of agriculture and of general development there are so great, that we should only be offering a premium for speculation if we allowed the lands of .the Possession to be alienated. A very great trust is reposed in us, and it is our duty to see that it is not abused. We hold the Territory, not for the purpose of advancing our own social interests, but to protect us from foreign aggrandizement, and to help, if possible, the natives of the island. We cannot help them by encouraging land aggrandizement and land gambling.
– I do not think there is much chance of that in New Guinea.
– That being so, there can be no objection to this amendment. I contend that there is very much to be gained, and that we should at this early stage in our history determine that we will not encourage trafficking in land.
– I differ from the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta as to the desirableness of taking over the Possession. When the resolution for the acquisition of New Guinea was before the House some time ago, I expressed my doubts as to the wisdom of spreading the Australian area, which would require- to be defended by taking over a Territory which is beyond the actual bounds of the Commonwealth. 1 still hold that view. I do not think the Possession is of much benefit to us from the standpoint that it provides us with a base for defence purposes, inasmuch as the Germans aud the Dutch have also a footing . in New Guinea. If the Territory is to cost us £22,000 a year at present, and a little more in the future, I think that we should endeavour to secure the utilization of what is now practically waste land. I understand that there are nearly 750,000 acres already under the control of the Government, which are not used by the natives or any one else, and I think it would be a matter for regret if we did not seek to recoup ourselves for this expenditure by seeing that that land is utilized. I sympathize with the principle involved in the amendment that there shall be no alienation of land. It seems to me, however, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has indicated, that there has been.no extraordinary rush to secure land on freehold terms in New Guinea. According to the pamphlet written by Senator Smith, after a visit to New
Guinea, the whole township of Samarai, which is the only centre of population, is held on leasehold tenure, and the number of .acres sold, although the charge for agricultural land is only 2s. 6d. per acre, is inconsiderable. Therefore, it doe’s not seem that the possibility of gaining a freehold has so far constituted any big attraction to intending settlers. I believe that we have as good a chance of settling those areas by means of granting reasonably long leases at low rentals as by any other system. Even if that system had the effect of somewhat retarding settlement for a time, I should still be inclined to insist upon adherence to the principle of nonalienation. We can all appreciate what would have been the position of Australia to-day if the Imperial Parliament, when granting a Constitution to New South Wales and the other States, had inserted a clause preventing the alienation of land. That would have been one of the best grandmotherly acts of legislation that could have been adopted so far as the people of this country are concerned. I would point out to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that there seems something in the objection to his amendment which has been suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. I do not think that we should induce people to take up land on lease in Papua if the rental was to be re-appraised annually.
– No one would touch it.
– I do not think so. A person taking up land in British New Guinea would expect to be granted a fairly long tenure at a low rental, and I should be prepared to give a tenure of 40 or 50 years at a peppercorn rental. If the country is to be developed, the men who do the pioneering work deserve some consideration, and as long as the interests of the next generation as well as of the natives are upheld, we shall be justified in giving reasonably long leases at low rentals for some time to come. I suggest to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that he should consider whether it would be wise to insist upon annual re-appraisements. While I agree with the general principle, I think that is one of the details which we might leave to the local Legislative Council, subject, of course, to the concurrence of this Parliament. Whilst we lay down, as we should lay down, in this Bill the provision that no alienation shall take place, I believe that we might leave to the local Legislative Council the method of leasing, the size of the areas, and the questions of rentals and re-appraisements. Any law passed by the Council would have to be with the concurrence of this Parliament, and would not come into operation until it had lain on the table for a certain period.
– I am somewhat surprised at the sentiments which have just fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Bland. I have heard practically the same views expressed by people whose political ideas are very much opposed to those of the honorable member. In Western Australia, for example, we used to be told in the early days that the pioneers were entitled to some advantages, and that there was not likely to be any great rush for land for many years to come. What has taken place there1! Some of our most valuable assets have been handed over at peppercorn rentals to foreign capitalists who are now exploiting the community of Western Australia. I refer particularly to our magnificent jarrah forests which were leased, in some cases, at a peppercorn rental. Now the people of Western Australia have to pay more for their jarrah timber than have the people of Adelaide.
– Is there anything in the system of leasing which makes dummying more difficult than it is in regard to freeholds 1
– Yes, I think so. The idea that the early settlers are entitled to special consideration has resulted in very large areas being alienated in Western Australia.
– Not very large.
– I think the Committee should recollect that we are not legislating for to-morrow but for what must be a considerable period. Whatever may be the position of Papua at the present time, it is likely to be very materially altered in the direction of offering inducements to capitalists to take over these lands. The principle of annual valuation is so fair and reasonable that I cannot understand why any one should take exception to. it. There is no attempt to exact rent on anything but the actual value caused by the gradual influx of settlement. If that settlement does not raise the value of land - in other words, if the settlers do not make a present of a certain increased land value to the leaseholders - there will be no increase of rent.
The unimproved value of land is a totally different thing from its commercial value - from the commercial value created by the people who go on the land and improve it. There is to be no tax whatever on improvements. All that is demanded is that whatever increased value is given to the land by the exertions of the community, a slight proportion of it shall be returned, either in the shape of taxation or as rental, to the treasury of the Territory. For my own part I see a great deal in the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie which commends it to our acceptance, and very little in it to which objection can be taken.
– With other honorable members, I wish to urge upon the Prime Minister the desirability of accepting the principle contained in the Amendment.
– One amendment provides for valuation at the expiration of each period of lease, and the other for annual appraisements of value. To which does the honorable member refer ?
– I am not now concerned with the details of the amendments, but with the principle which underlies them. What I ask is that the Prime Minister should allow a test vote to be taken to ascertain the desire of the Committee on this matter, and that then the draftsman who prepared the Bill should draw up a provision embodying that desire. What we want to do is to prevent the alienation of land in New Guinea in fee simple, and to provide that persons who obtain possession of it may hold it only under some system of lease. The objection of the Prime Minister to any amendment is that this is merely a Constitution Bill, and that, therefore, a provision dealing with land tenure would be out of place in it. In my opinion, however, that is not. so. We wish to keep New Guinea for the Commonwealth, and to prevent speculators from exploiting it. The Prime Minister said that it might be possible to deal with this matter in another Bill, and to provide there for in alternative proposal - to provide for both leasing and sale. But when in Victoria we tried that arrangement in regard to our great Mallee province, it was found that not much of the land was taken up under lease. That happened because an alternative was given - and because those who were called upon, to administer our land legislation did not offer sufficient inducement to take up land under lease. Freehold land will always be in demand, because it can be dealt with by speculators, and pressure is continualty brought to bear upon the Government to alienate land in fee simple. Therefore, I hope that no alternative will be given in New Guinea. In my opinion, the land there should not be alienated in fee simple at all. But I would rather allow such alienation than provide for leasing, with sale as an alternative, because such an arrangement would wreck the cause which we have at heart. Unless we put some such provision as that now before the Committee into the Bill, the Legislative Council of New Guinea will probably do’ almost as it pleases in regard to the internal administration of the Territory, and although we retain the right of, so to speak, overriding its legislation, the mischief might be done before we knew anything about it, and it might then be almost too late to repair the damage. For that reason we should put a limitation upon the powers of the Legislative Council in the Bill itself, just as limitations upon our powers have been placed in the Constitution of the Commonwealth. I understand that at the present time no land in New Guinea can be purchased from the natives except by the Administrator, who purchases it, not for his own use, but in the public interest, and that this land can then be leased or sold. I understand, too, that when this Constitution has been put into operation the ordinances of the Territory will not continue in force, and that the Legislative Council will be under no obligation to sustain them or to make them conform to the views of this Parliament. I am afraid that the Legislative Council may even go further, and, by overriding the ordinances now in force, practically do what it pleases in respect to the lands of the Territory. Of course, this Parliament could step in at any time and try to repair the breach, but it might then be too late. There is one other subject to which I wish to refer, and that is the advisability of making a special reservation of land for the exclusive use of the natives. We know that in other countries the aboriginals have been gradually deprived of their land, and have ultimately found themselves without any patrimony at all. The Commonwealth in taking over the responsibility of governing New Guinea, is taking over the responsibility for the care of its inhabitants, and it is only fair and just that we should secure to them in perpetuity at least some portion of the lands which they at present possess.
– Are we justified in taking awav any of their land 1
– Yes ; because we give them a quid pro quo, in the shape of our protection and other advantages. I hope that the Prime Minister will take a a note of my suggestion in this matter, and allow a provision which will carry it into effect to be drawn up by the person who drafted the Rill, so that if it, finds favour with the Committee, it too may be incorporated in the measure.
– I do not like to see such sweeping provisions as that now proposed agreed to when we have such a limited knowledge of the actual conditions of this new Territory. I believe in the non-alienation of land under certain circumstances, and, on one occasion, when it was attempted to extend the free-selection principle to the great western areas of New South Wales, I opposed the attempt, with the result that free selection is now confined within narrow limits to the districts surrounding the towns. But, although honorable members may give vent to their doctrinaire opinions here, it must be remembered that we have to dea with rt practical situation, and to pro vide for the settlement of New Guinea. I take it that in the future there will be no opportunity for any exploitation of the Territory such as was * proposed by an English syndicate some years ago ; but it will be almost impossible to settle it if we insist that none of its land shall bealienated in fee simple. The land question is at the bottom of the whole matter, and are we without exact information to pass a sweeping provision declaring that no land shall under any circumstances be alienated in fee simple? Any one would think that at the present time we had sufficient knowledge of New Guinea to be able to deal with this question properly. But it seems to me that the Prime Minister will give his assurance that the question of land occupation will be gone into by the new Council, and that no drastic measures in regard to alienation will be adopted until a report upon the subject has been placed before this House, we might well abstain from passing a provision such as that now before- the Committee.
– There is no intention to sanction any wholesale alienation of freehold in New Guinea.
SirWILLIAM McMILLAN. - I know that, but at the present time we have nothing before us in the way of a graduated proposal for dealing with land in different areas and under different conditions, and I suggest that before coming to any determination on the subject we should be fully informed by reports from the LieutenantGovernor and his Council in regard to all the conditions surrounding it. I object tothis Parliament passing a sweeping provision preventing the alienation of land in New Guinea without having sufficientknowledge of the conditions of the country to enable us to properly deal with the question.
– The amendmentwould apply even to the alienation of town lots.
– Exactly. I have always deplored the fact that the rigid land system of New South Wales did. not provide those facilities for dealing with different classes of people and different conditions which have been so well provided for in Canada and in other parts of the world. The climate is most unfavorable to white people, and it will be necessary to offer special inducements to settlers. It is absurd for us to deal in this wholesale way with the question of alienation without any regard to the character of the leaseholds which are to be substituted for grants in fee simple.
– We can amend our leasing system, but if we once adopted the policy of alienation we could not goback on it.
– I do not suppose that honorable members would be frightened if a few small town allotmentswere alienated.
– Oh, yes, we should. That is just the point.
– Then I understand that the object is to introducethe principle of absolute non-alienation of land, and that that is to be done withoutany regard for the conditions or terms of the leases to be granted.
– That is a matter for afterconsideration.
– Thecourse now proposed appears to me to bea very imperfect method of dealing with this question. It would be better to ask the Prime Minister to give us an assurance that a comprehensive inquiry will be made with a view to ascertain the land system best adapted to the circumstances of the Territory. I understand that the object of some members is to prevent any land from being alienated ; but it seems to me that this Parliament would adopt a very narrow policy if, without any knowledge of the conditions, and before the appointment of the Council which is to be created, it decreed that the principle of non-alienation should be applied to .the land of New Guinea. That principle is not applied to any land in Australia in such a wholesale way. I believe in applying the principle of non-alienation under certain conditions, and I regret that a large portion of the lands of New South Wales should have been parted with in fee simple. But the leasing system may not be at all adapted to the conditions prevailing in New Guinea, and it is ridiculous to lay down a hard-and-fast rule which may have the effect of retarding settlement, and interfering seriously wi th the development of the Territory.
– I do not intend to discuss the ethics of land legislation, although the temptation is very strong. We have to deal with a very practical matter. The honorable member for Wentworth has stated that there is no chance of the lands of New Guinea being exploited by speculators ; but only a few years ago we had to put forth our strongest efforts to prevent the alienation of large tracts of country in that Territory in connexion with a scheme conceived by Sir Somers Vine. We have had ample experience in Australia of the evils of land alienation, and it seems to me that we may very well avail ourselves of this opportunity to apply the principle of non-alienation until we find out that it is absolutely unsuited to the conditions of the country. It has been suggested that we should do everything we could to encourage the natives to settle upon the soil, but from what I can learn they are busily engaged in settling themselves under the soil - not with spades, but with tomahawks. Perhaps, however, they may later on evince a desire to direct their efforts into more serviceable channels, and to turn the lands to better account. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has stated that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will not effect its object, and if any alteration is required to make its purpose absolutely clear I should be glad tosee it modified. There need be no difficulty with regard to the definition of “ unimproved values,” because that term is now generally understood, and is universally adopted. If we find that the leasing system is a failureit will be easy enough for us to abandon itand sell our lands, but if we once ‘ parted with our lands in fee simple, we should not beable to revert to leasing system except at great cost-. Our experience in Australia should be sufficient to demonstrate thewisdom of proceeding cautiously. I understand that there are only 500 white peoplein New Guinea at the present time. There were about that number in Australia 10(> or 107 years ago, and we can very well1 imagine the relation between land values in New Guinea to-day and those which will obtain 100 years hence. We should not run the risk of making the sameblunder in New Guinea that has been committed in Australia in regard to thepublic estate. I shall support the amendment because I regard it as a reasonableand practicable proposition. I cannot conceive that any danger will result from embodying the leasing principle in theConstitution of the Territory. On the otherhand I think that -it will prove sound, and1 capable of advantageous application.
–! think that the Prime Minister might verv well accept the amendment, or, at any rate, agree to embody its principle in the Bill. We have been told that we should! delay action until we obtain reports regarding the land system which would be best adapted to the conditions of the Territory, but in the meantime thousands of acres of land might be alienated. We should from the outset lay down th& principle which we regard as soundest and safest until we are made fully aware of the conditions for which we shall have to legislate. In some of the principal centres of Western Australia land was given away for a mere song in the old days. In one case, a timber company was induced to start operations in that State by means of grantsof land in the cities and towns which they afterwards sold for £o or £6 per block. At present some of these blocks are worth thousands of pounds, and if they had been retained by the Government, would have constituted a splendid asset. We have also had experience of the leasing system in London, and we know what huge fortunes have been realized by those who have steadily set their faces against parting with the fee simple, and have consistently leased their properties. We do not know what developments may take place in New Guinea, and, therefore, we should proceed slowly in connexion with our land legislation. I shall support the amendment.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).We often hear it stated that a proposal is a very good one, but that the time at which it is brought forward is inopportune. I can scarcely conceive an occasion upon which such an argument could be advanced with less effect than in regard to the amendment now before us. There could be no time more opportune than the present for adopting the principle of non-alienation of land in regard to this Territory. The honorable member for Wentworth has told us that we should not allow doctrinaire proposals to engage our attention, but that we should be strictly practical in this matter. It seems to me that we are severely practical when we propose to adopt a principle calculated to conserve the best interests of the Territory and of the settlers there. The honorable member stated that the leasing system had not been applied in a wholesale manner to any land in Australia. But that is scarcely correct. The Legislative Assembly of South Australia recently agreed to a motion in favour of the non-alienation of Crown lands, which, however, did not pass the Legislative Council. At the same time the perpetual leasing principle is applied in that State to all the working men’s blocks, which are located principally in the suburbs. The whole of these blocks are upon lands which have been repurchased.
– What is the difference between selling the laud and perpetually leasing it?
– There is this difference, that if the State does not part . with its land it is always entitled to levy rent charges.
– But it does not always get the rent.
– The Minister for Defence is evidently not familiar with the conditions which obtain in South Australia, or he would know that the holders of working men’s blocks pay their rents with remarkable promptitude. There is a very small percentage of arrears indeed in connexion with lands held under perpetual lease. The chief advantages conferred by that form of lease are that the State obtains a regular rental for its land, instead of a lump sum which, if experience counts for anything, would only be squandered. At the same time neither party to the contract relinquishes its capital. The State retains its land, which constitutes its capital, and the settler devotes his money to effecting necessary improvements. The Minister also declared that the idea of including town allotments in the proposal submitted was absurd. It seems to me that the chief value of the principle would result from its application to those allotments. I know that the right honorable gentleman has heard of the South Australian Company which, in the early days of South Australia, acquired a considerable quantity of agricultural land there. Practically it has erected a ringfence round the city of Adelaide. The effect of its action is that on the western side of Adelaide to-day, there is a square mile of vacant land with a dense population around it. Thus all the people who are resident in the western portion of the city are compelled to travel an additional mile past vacant land which is held simply for speculative purposes. At intervals a few acres are sold at an enormously high price. The pioneers have had to pay pretty heavily for conferring advantages upon this absentee company. What has that Company ever done for the State which I have the honour to represent ?
– It founded the country.
– It very nearly “ foundered “ it. A great deal of the best agricultural land in South Australia is still held by that Company, though the German and other settlers who occupy it have paid in rent the amount represented by the purchase-money over and over again. However, I want to consider the position in New Guinea.
– It is quite a different country.
– In what respect is it different ? It is hot and malarial.
– What about the 90,000,000 acres of land which South Australia proposes to give away?
– The Minister is referring to the passage of a Bill through the State Parliament since I ceased to be a member of it. I believe, however, that the right honorable gentleman himself conferred grants of land upon companies in Western Australia in return for the construction of railways, and that subsequently the land in question had to be repurchased at an enormously increased price.
– That is utterly wrong. The other people were glad to get rid of it.
-I ask the Committee not to allow the land in New Guinea to be alienated. It seems to me absurd to suggest that we should defer action in this matter until the Legislative Council has reported upon it. With the Government 1 presume it is purely a question of principle that is involved. The system of the non-alienation of State lands has worked well wherever it has been tried, and the fact that many individuals who took up leaseholds desire to acquire the feesimple does not prove that it is in the interests of the State that they should possess it. Naturally, people wish to obtain as much as they can for themselves. A great many of those who have taken up leasehold lands clamour for the freehold, because they desire to cut up their land and to become speculators.
– Would the honorable member take a leasehold if he could obtain a freehold ?
– For once the honorable member for Wentworth happens to have made a mistake. I hold a perpetual lease, and under the South Australian land laws an opportunity is granted to that class of lessee to obtain a covenant of purchase, although I have not taken advantage of that provision.
– Can the honorable member inform me how frequently the rent is re-appraised?
– Perpetual leases are not re-appraised, but are subject to the land.tax, which is assessed triennially. Personally I do not believe in the perpetual leasing system unless the leases are subject to a periodical re-valuation. I cannot altogether agree with the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to institute annual appraisements. It seems to me that the lessees must be given a sufficient security of tenure, otherwise they will be chary of effecting improvements.
– Under the amendment the rent would not be increased by’ reason of improvements.
– But there is a tendency to take into account the value of improvements, especially in the case of land which was originally forest, but which has. been cleared. I heartily support the proposal of the honorable member, but I scarcely think it will be wise to insist upon, annual valuations.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie). - As the result of conversation with the honorableand learned member for Northern Melbourne, I desire to withdraw my amendment, with a view to submit another proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) proposed -
That the following words be added: - “Provided that no grant of Crown land shall b» made for any freehold estate.”
– If the descriptions which I have heard of the climate of New Guinea be correct, I am afraid that it will matter little what form of alienation we prescribe, for I do hot think that there will be any great effort on the part of the people to settle there. On the merits of the question I may say that nodoubt the leasehold system is a very attractive one. We generally find the principle advocated by those who have had the least, experience of it. My own opinion is thatthe most desirable system of tenure which any Parliament can devise is one which will yield the best results to the country, which will insure the best settlement, and also the very best use of the land. I had something to do with the settlement of the Mallee in Victoria. When we were dealing with it for the first time we made provision both for alienation by leasehold and freehold ; but as I was strongly opposed to speculation, I inserted a provision in the Bill which T introduced, to-‘ prevent any person from holding more than . a certain area of freehold land. We provided that, no matter how the land fell into a man’s hands - whether it was willed to him or otherwise - he should not hold more than the area specified. That prevented undue speculation ; ‘but if honorable members look at the Mallee now, and compare the freehold holdings with those thathave been taken up on the perpetual leasing system, they will gain an instructive lesson. They ‘will find that whilst the free- hold lands are fairly well improved and fenced and boast of comfortable residences, the leasehold properties can show nothing better than miserable shanties, scarcely fit to be used as cowsheds.
– What were the terms of the leases 1
– They were subjected to periodical re-appraisements. If a person is dealing with a property which he knows will one day become his own, he will not only improve it, but will be careful not to exhaust the land. Land exhaustion is one of the greatest dangers incidental to the leasing of property. When a man rents a piece of land he seeks to get as much as he can out of it before he throws it up. If a private owner leases land he imposes stringent conditions and sees that they are observed in order to prevent the undue exhaustion of his property. It may be said that the State can take the same precautions ; but have honorable members considered what would be the cost of supervision ? The freehold system is the simplest way of dealing with the land, because every owner will see that it is well cared for, that its productive properties are well preserved, and that anything which he extracts from the soil by means o,f cultivation is restored to it in the shape of artificial fertilizers. The country reaps the benefit of such a system. It matters little what the occupation is as long as the land itself is put to the best use. I am with those who object to speculation in land. There is no doubt that there is always a danger of that - practice being followed in a new territory for the reason that the land is worth very little, that there is no settlement to speak of, and that as soon as an inrush of population takes place, property increases in value. But we can always prevent a person from obtaining an area of undue size, and if we wish to promote settlement and keep the land in a condition in which it will give the best return to the country, the freehold is better than the leasehold system. I can quite understand my honorable friend from South Australia urging the claims of the perpetual leasing system when there are no re-appraisements for rent. In the cases to which he referred the land is obtained for a peppercorn rental, so that the. system is really equal, to the granting of freeholds.
– But the leaseholder has to pay a land tax.
– The freeholder has also to do so.
– There is no land tax in Victoria, except for sheep-bearing lands.
– The honorable and learned member is right. The land is appraised in accordance with its grazing capabilities. That is a very absurd system. But there is a land tax in Victoria, a nd I might tell the Committee that the owner of a large area of poor land in this State is subject to what is perhaps one of the severest land taxes that prevails in any part of the world. I have known land sold at -£1 17s. 6d. per acre - and of course honorable members know what the annual value would be - to be subject to a land tax of 9d. per acre per annum, which is more than 50 per cent, of the gross annual value. We know that where land taxation is resorted to, freehold lands are generally subject to a tax, just as are lands held under perpetual lease ; but I am sure that annual appraisements, as suggested by the honorable member, would be a failure.
– The honorable member says that there should be some appraisement.
– There seems to be a strong majority of honorable members in favour of the leasehold system, and I would suggest that, if the proposal be carried, the re-appraisements should take place at fairly long intervals. No man would take up land in New Guinea if he knew that as soon as he improved it his rental would be increased.
– We speak of the unimproved value.
– But after a man has occupied a piece of land for some years - when he has fenced and drained it, and effected other improvements - how can any one say what was its original value 1 Supposing that what is a mere swamp is drained and afterwards farmed where is the evidence .of that fact to be found a few years later on 1 One might level cranholey bucketty land, and lay it down with grass, and the valuer who came along years after would find it impossible to determine its original value. If we wish to give the leasing system a fair trial we should provide that the adjustment of rentals shall be at fairly distant intervals. I do not think that in a territory like New Guinea, in connexion with which honorable members desire to hold out every inducement for settlement, the first re-appraisement should take place within 20 or 25 years. After that we might have the land appraised at an interval of from ten to seven years. I should certainly give the first settler the benefit of an exceedingly low rental and a reasonable occupancy in order to encourage him to take up the land. But there is no comparison between the freehold and the leasing system, even when the very best terms that can be made are given in connexion with the latter. If we were to take two areas, each consisting of 1,000,000 acres of equally valuable land, and alienate one on the leasing system and the other on the freehold system, we should find, if we were able to return half a century later, that the land held under freehold was in infinitely better condition, and had proved much more productive to the State than the area held under lease.
– Objection has been taken to this proposal by the Prime Minister on the ground that the Bill before the Committee is really a machinery measure conferring a constitution upon Papua, and that the question of dealing with the lands of the Territory should be left to the local Legislative Council, subject to the approval of the Bederal Parliament. If the dual form of tenure, known as the old fee-simple or freehold system, and the leasing system is to obtain in New Guinea, just as it prevails in the Commonwealth, the contention of the Prime Minister is a good and substantial one. On the other hand, if there is to be a departure from this accepted method of dealing with the land in the direction of providing that it shall ‘be leased perpetually, or for stated periods, then I hold that this is the Bill in which to lay down that principle. Despite the very eloquent speech made by the honorable member for Gippsland in support of the freehold system, the experience of Australia generally does not very strongly commend, as a means of promoting legitimate settlement, either the freehold system or the dual freehold and leasehold systems working side by side. There was a time, not so very long ago, in the history of the different States of the Commonwealth, when their lands were in a condition similar to those of New Guinea. They were practically valueless; and although the conditions were more favorable in some parts than in others, they did not seem to invite settlementveryreadily.
It was only when the great resources of Australia, and particularly its mineral resources, became known that a large influx of population occurred, and with the increase of settlement land values rose. It is quite possible that that will happen” again in New Guinea. At the present time there are only something like 500 white persons residing there, and the Prime Minister has told us that only a very inconsiderable area of the land has been sold. But the land which is being sold is being alienated for the small sum of 2s. 6d. an acre for agricultural land, and 6cl. ah acre for grazing land. There was a time in the history of Australia when its best land was probably not worth more than those prices. The history of the land settlement of this country affords us an object lesson1 which we should bear in mind in providing a land system for New Guinea. Instead of the much vaunted system of alienation in fee simple having promoted settlement in Australia, it has been a millstone round the neck of settlement. The land speculator has always got ahead of the settler, and by securing the fee-simple of the best lands at a nominal price, he is able to keep them out of occupation until the growing needs of the community compel the people to pay tribute to him, and give him an opportunity to exploit them at great profit. The Minister for Defence has asked what is the difference between a freehold title and a leasehold title. There is a great difference. A free hold title enables the freeholder to keep the unearned incremfent created by the exertions of the whole community, and to convert it to his own use, while the leasehold system secures that unearned increment to the State. In New South Wales nearly 50,000,000 acres of land have been alienated, or are in course of alienation. Since our great statesman, the late Sir John Robertson, passed the Free Selection Act of 1861, the policy of New South Wales has been to encourage settlement, and land has been made available under conditions which allow settlers to obtain the freehold by deferred payments extending over a period of 32 years.
– If the honorable member had talked to Sir John Robertson about obtaining small settlement by leasing the land he would have had a fit.
– If Sir John Robertson had lived to the present time, and understood the land question from its economic point of view as it is understood to-day, I doubt if he would have taken a fit. When toward the close of his career he was taunted with the fact that instead of settling a healthy, thriving yeomanry upon the lands of the State, his Act had been a failure, he said that the failure was due, not to its imperfections, but to the fact that he had had too many rogues to deal with,
– Hundreds of people could never have secured land but for his Act.
– Quite so. But although I make that admission, I think that the land legislation of New South Wales’ hasbeen a failure, largely because it provided for the alienation of the public estate in fee simple. Speculators have been enabled to secure the land for their own purposes, and to withhold it from occupation until the demand for it has increased its value. In New South Wales, and in the other States to perhaps in an almost equal degree, immense sums of money have been borrowed, not for the legitimate object of developing the latent resources of the country, but to secure a freehold title in land. It was estimated, a few years ago, that in the central division of New South Wales, the smallest of the three divisions into which that State is divided, something like £30,000,000 of English capital had been expended, not in improving the land, but in buying it from the Government. A great deal of that land is not returning interest on the money expended on its purchase, but those who have bought it hope that when the population of the State increases, and it becomes great and prosperous, they will get back not only their interest and principal, but will make a substantial profit upon the investment. We are told that we must encourage the pioneers of New Guinea; but what encouragement did the pioneers of settlement in the Commonwealth get? They were beset by all kinds of natural difficulties, and after they had shown where the latent wealth of the country was, and made it suitable for habitation, instead of getting their reward, adroit speculators, with more money and less energy, secured the fee-simple of the land, and reaped the advantages of their labour and perseverance. On the right of the Chairman are a large number of honorable gentlemen who believe that the adoption of the policy of protection will bring prosperity to the Commonwealth, while on this side of the Chamber honorable gentlemen think that the adoption of the policy of free-trade would do so ; but, giving to those policies all the importance which their advocates claim for them, I say that the land question is of still greater importance, and has still more to do with the prosperity of the country. It is because the agricultural lands of Australia, which ought to be carrying a dense population, are being held for speculative purposes, that the Commonwealth lacks the prosperity which it should have. There are, to-day, hundreds of young men leaving Australia to seek openings for their energies elsewhere. They would have remained here, whatever our fiscal policy, if they had been’ given reasonable opportunities to settle upon the land ; and, while such opportunities are denied them, we shall find it impossible to invent any fiscal policy which will keep them here. It is because I feel so strongly upon the matter that I wish to see different conditions provided for in Papua. I find from late statistics in Coghlan that the alienation of land in New South Wales amounts to something like 50,000,000 acres, in Victoria to about 23,000,000 acres, in Queensland to about 16,000,000 acres, in South Australia to about 14,000,000 acres, in Western Australia to about 6,000,000 acres, and in Tasmania to about 4,000,000 acres; or to about 114,000,000 acres in the whole Commonwealth. That area is sufficiently large to more than provide for the requirements of our present population ; but how is it distributed among our people ? In New South Wales 357 individuals hold some 17,476,000 acres, while 5,522 individuals, with less than 5,000 acres each, hold 18,468,000 acres; and 64,950 individuals, with less than 1,000 acres each, hold something like 10,673,000 acres. The leasing of land by private holders is not as great in New South Wales as in some of the other States, because the opportunities of securing land from the Government have not been so restricted there as elsewhere; but at the present time there are about 4,000,000 acres of private land under lease, and other large areas in the agricultural districts, are rented out under the halves system, whereby the owner of the land takes half the crop and obtains some other advantages. In South Australia, where the facilities for obtaining suitable land have not been so great as they have been in New South Wales, I find, by reference to Coghlan, that 10,720,000 acres, or 66 per cent, of the total alienated country lands are leased by the holders to tenants. That shows the tendency, so far as settlement is concerned. Despite legislation passed in New South Wales from 1861 up to the present time with a view to promote settlement, statistics recently compiled show that 91 per cent, of the agricultural holdings acquired from the Crown by conditional purchase have been transferred, and have for the most part become merged into big estates. The honorable member for Gippsland has instituted some comparison between the lands held in fee simple and those which are held under lease, with a view to demonstrate the superiority of the former class of holdings over the latter. In New South Wales those who took up Crown lands were required to live for five years upon their holdings before they could transfer, and were also compelled to make certain improvements, originally, to the value of £1 per acre. At one. time homes were dotted over the whole of the vast agricultural districts of that State, and there was every appearance of prosperity ; but a few years afterwards nothing but the ruins of once comfortable homes were to be seen. The original holders had disappeared, after having practically acted as dummies for the big squatters, and the lands became incorporated in large estates. Instead of providing homes for a thriving population, these lands are now awaiting the time when the English moneylender is ready to assert his proprietary rights, and tp levy tribute upon those who desire to occupy them. It has been urged “ that the principle of non-alienation should not be applied to the town lands in the Territory, but it should be enforced in regard to that portion of the public estate above all, if it is to have any appreciable effect. Within less than 100 miles of this Chamber, land that was sold by the Government for £3,600 many years ago, was recently valued at £19,000,000, and similar marvellous increases in value’ have taken place in many cases in Sydney. The people who are building up our communities, who are contributing to our wealth, and who are sustaining our industries, do not own the buildings in which they conduct their operations. Our industries are not thriving because of any advantage resulting from the present system, but in spite of the burdens imposed by it. In settling the conditions on which the Territory is to be administered, I think we shall act wisely if we lay down the principle that the State shall not part with any of its lands in fee simple. I am glad to notice that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been altered, so that those who are in sympathy with him on the main principle may support him. I believe that the basis of the rentals should be the unimproved value of the land. In New South Wales the selector, after five years’ occupation, had his title deeds given to him, but the deeds did not confer the fee-simple. They contained the condition that the land should be held by a residential occupier, and the further condition that it should be subject to a rental of 2½ per cent, of the unimproved value, which was to be determined by periodical reappraisements of every ten years. I think that we should act wisely if we adopted a similar provision, . although in opening up a new country I should be content with a very small rental for the first 25 years, without any condition as to re-appraisement during that period. If we lay down a hardandfast rule in regard to annual reappraisements, we shall render it necessary to adopt an unduly expensive system of supervision, and defeat the purposes we have in view. It is far better to have the appraisements made at ‘ certain periods sufficiently far apart to obviate the necessity of providing expensive machinery. It should also be our aim to offer a certain amount of security to those who take up land. As the freehold and dual systems of dealing with lands have failed so miserably, I think we should give the leasing system, pure and simple, a fair trial. The conditions of occupancy should be such as would encourage settlement and the rentals should be upon a very . moderate scale.
Mr. EWING (Richmond). - I have only a word or two to say, by way of warning, to a large number of honorable members who seem to be affected by the hallucination that the single tax will cure corns and bunions, avert drought, and insure general prosperity. The remarks of the honorable member for Canobolas convey the idea that if the leasing system had been adopted throughout New South Wales the recent devastating drought, which has brought death and desolation to parts of that country, would not have occurred. Political principles may be very important, but material conditions should receive the fullest consideration when we are legislating with a view to laying down the foundations for a sound national existence.
– No one spoke about the single tax.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, had he been asked if his amendment was based upon that principle, must have replied in the affirmative. In fact, it is obvious that the principle underlying the amendment is that of the single tax. There is much to be said in support of the arguments used by some honorable members who have contended that the “ State should receive the benefit of the unearned increment in connexion with the public estate, “ but before adopting such a drastic amendment as that now proposed, I should like to know the material conditions with which we have to deal in British New Guinea. The question of land administration can be dealt with comprehensively only in the light of the fullest knowledge of the conditions for which we have to legislate. We are at present working in the dark, and. we should be much wiser if we were to call upon the Government to inquire into the whole matter rather than lay down hard and fast principles by means of a snatch vote, such as might be taken this evening. Those ‘ honorable members who are such strong advocates of the single tax, and who regard it as a sort of universal panacea, have not expressed the slightest objection to thieving from the Papuans. It does not trouble them that the lands in the Territory belong to the black man. They are fully prepared to deal with lands to which we have not proved our just title. They desire to apply the principle of non-alienation to lands which we do not own, and to a Territory to which none of them will probably ever be inclined to go. We cannot overestimate the value of pioneering work with regard to the broader development of the nation or with regard to new lands, but in respect to all new enterprises. Pioneers know they do good work, and they require good pay. Men will not go out into the wilds of this continent or of New Guinea for nothing, and therefore we have to offer them special inducements. In times past these inducements took the form of grants of land which were not considered to be of much value at the time, but which subsequently became of great importance. Thus, our communities have found, perhaps 50 years after the death of such pioneers, that a mistake was made in parting with our public estate. Still the pioneers of any country perform the most valuable service to the community. They have to lead the way for those timid unfortunates who are afraid to be the first in any movement. Others gradually cluster around those who have gone in advance and form villages in localities to which they would not have dared to penetrate unless bolder and better men had preceded them. The pioneer, in industrial matters, in art, science, and everything else may be liberally paid by the nation in the form in which he elects to take his reward. In our case the reward happened to be rather a larger cut into the public estate than we now think we were justified in giving him. We hear a great deal about the value of corner allotments in Collins-street, and of the men who have made money out of land speculation, but I undertake to say that there has been as much money lost in land speculation as has been made by that means, and that, generally speaking, those who have invested their money in land would have done better if they had selected some safe investment at 5 per cent. If all lands were good there would be no difficulty, and little risk, but the conditions of settlement all over the world are, as a rule, not satisfactory. Nature and the seasons apply to the back of the farmer a lash more severe than that which was laid upon the Israelites during their term of bondage in Egypt. The honorable member for Gippsland pointed out the special value of having a man in charge of land who really cares for it. Any one who has watched the development of our own country knows that the system of leasing land, whether from the State or the individual, frequently proves unsatisfactory. We all know that one end which the tenant naturally and reasonably has in view is to make as much as possible out of the land during his occupancy.
– Has not the same thing occurred in connexion with pastoral lands?
– Exactly the same thing. The land in Papua we are told is fitted for the cultivation of sugar-cane and tropical products, which make large demands upon its nutritious ingredients. It is an entirely different matter from leasing land for grazing purposes. The cane exhausts the plant food in the soil very rapidly. If the land be leased without conditions in Pa.pua to sugar-growers, it may be handed back within fifteen years practically valueless.
– It would becheap enough at its freehold value to enable the holders to abandon it after a few years.
– If it were the property of the honorable member he would take care that, if it were possible, it became perpetually a home for a portion of the people. I do not deny that I approve of the general principle contained in the amendment. At the same time, it is unwise to place the bar sinister upon the Constitution of New Guinea. Let us defer action in this matter until we thoroughly understand the conditions which obtain in that territory’. My chief object in rising was to address a few words to the single taxers in this House.
– This proposal is not one for the imposition of the single-tax.
– “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Presuming honorable members believe that a State acts wisely which leases its lands, what ought we to do if we desire to establish that principle? Undoubtedly we should try the experiment under the most- favorable conditions. If a man wishes to show the wisdom of marriage he chobses as goodlooking a woman as he can persuade to be sufficiently unwise-
– I rise to a point of order. I do not object to the honorable member wandering over the regions of the whole earth for the purpose of finding illustrations in connexion with land settlement, but I should like to ask in what way the question of marriage is relevant to that which we are now discussing ?
The CH AIRMAN. - I am waiting for the honorable member to apply his illustration.
– My argument is that if we wish to prove that the State should not part with the fee-simple of its lands, we should choose as the field for that experiment a territory which would probably be prosperous under such conditions. In my judgment, settlement in New Guinea cannot possibly be prosperous under any conditions. If we desire to make an experiment in connexion with land settlement, let us not choose a countiy such as New Guinea, with its languorous but rather hungry inhabitants - a land of sandflies and malaria, because whatever system of land legislation we adopt there, occupation will probably prove a failure.
– That was said of Western Australia ten years ago.
– The honorable member must know that the very environment of New Guinea makes it an unsuitable home for men accustomed to temperate regions. It is not fair to the principle involved in the amendment to make the proposed experiment without investigation, without consideration, and under such circumstances that for all time everybody with conservative tendencies will say - “The Commonwealth Parliament, which was composed of a large number of men who did not know exactly what they were doing, who were, not wise in their generation, chose as a field in which to demonstrate their magnificent theories concerning land legislation, an island to the north of Australia, where satisfactory settlement could not succeed under any circumstances.” It would be wise for honorable members to agree that the Government should look into the whole question of land legislation for New Guinea with a view to bringingit before us upon a future occasion.
– I have followed the interesting excursion from the early history of New South Wales to the single-tax and matrimony, and from the United States to Queensland, New South Wales, Yictoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania, not to mention Egypt and sundry other portions of the earth. To my mind it is time we came to the present day and to New Guinea. I agree with the honorable member that the most important question upon which we can legislate in reference to that Territory is not whether the country which has been alienated from the natives should be leased or sold, but upon what conditions land may be acquired from the natives. I hope that in carrying out the trust which we have undertaken, we shall at least endeavour to free our administration from the improper acquisition of native lands which has done so much to injure some of the black races with whom our people have come into contact. I should have liked to see - as the honorable member for Wentworth suggested - some legislation dealing with the question of the transfer of land from the natives. When once it has become Crown land, the natives are deprived of it under whatever system of tenure we may allow it to be occupied. They cannot make use of it if it is leased, any more than they can if it is sold. If we force the tribes from their own settlements back upon tribes which are at enmity with them, and massacres ensue, the responsibility will rest upon our shoulders. I should prefer to see the whole question of the land policy of New Guinea dealt with by a separate measure in >this Parliament at as early a date as possible. After the land in the Territory has been alienated from the natives, I am quite willing to leave to its local Council - whose ordinances will come under our supervision - the task of determining the best methods of dealing with that land. In my opinion, as regards its agricultural lands, there will be very little unearned increment. If a man settles upon the island, and devotes the years to tropical agriculture which he must if he is to prove successful - because a long time elapses before many of the crops yield anything - I hold that if he paid nothing for his land he has derived no unearned increment. Any increment will have been hardly earned if he is alive at the end of the period. I am not in favour of the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie so far as it relates to annual re-appraisements. I am quite prepared to allow the Legislative Council, subject to our control, to determine the periods of lease which should be applicable to the lands of the Territory. I am perfectly willing that it should be empowered to fix the rentals, but, under the circumstances which obtain in New Guinea, I do not think it is fair to re-appraise its lands upon the basis of the unimproved value of adjacent lands, and that is practically what the unimproved assessment represents.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to that system ?
– I shall explain. Let us consider for a moment the application of the principle to agricultural land situated in the coastal districts of New Guinea, and subject to malarial and other troubles. For years the only result of the labour of a pioneer who went on that land might be disappointment and loss of money. If he were persistent enough, and lived long enough - and life is an uncertain quantity in such a climate - he might succeed after some years in discovering the class of production to which the laud was best suited, and the methods which would give him the best return. Having made that discovery, he would of course establish a value for the surrounding land. As a result of his energy, and as the outcome of his losses, the adjacent land would become of value to other people.
– Would he not reap the value in having established a monopoly for a time 1
– What monopoly? The monopoly of losing money? I am sure the honorable member would not take this land and work it even if he could get it for nothing.
– The honorable member has said that the pioneer would discover the best way to utilize the land to his advantage.
– He would make that discovery after periods of loss, and perhaps after his health had been impaired in the attempt.
– There are no such philanthropists.
– There is no question of philanthropy involved. Such things frequently occur in tropica] countries. If the pioneer succeeded his rental would increase with the unimproved value of the adjoining land to which his industry had given a value. . We should take all the circumstances into consideration. There may be some land which should be leased, if that system, is to be adopted, on such a tenure, but to ‘say that all the land which has come into the possession of the Crown should be rented only on these conditions, might prevent its use, and be unfair to the person who endeavoured to create an industry upon it. The honorable member would have very grave doubts about undertaking so big a task if he did not know the rental that he would have to pay . for a certain period. If he were taking up land under the terms suggested, he would not be certain as to what would be the increased assessment placed upon it. On the other hand, if the increased assessment were named in the first instance, he would be prepared to face it. Of course, some method must be provided for the acquirement of land in the first instance by the Crown from the natives. That is the point which needs most careful attention. I do not think that we ought to consider the white settlers to the detriment of the natives of New Guinea. The natives themselves should have our first consideration. So far as we know they are not a declining race. We believe that their numbers are being maintained - possibly they are increasing - and I should bechary about dispossessing the natives of any land unless it was felt that it would not be required for their use. I am willing to leave the leasing system to the local Legislative Council, subject to our supervision of the ordinances which they might pass in regard to the occupation of the land.
– I do not desire at this stage to unduly prolong the debate. As the last speaker has said, we have had a dissertation upon the single-tax and the principles of taxation generally, but I think we must ask ourselves the question - “ Why have we taken over the Possession ?” For what reason have we taken it over beyond the fact that we consider that, in view of its proximity to our shores, it should not fall into the hands of a foreign power? I do not think that there is any question of earth hunger on the part of the Federal Government in regard to this matter. Surely, with our millions and hundreds of millions of acres of unoccupied land which we cannot dispose of upon any terms, we do not desire to control the Possession simply for the purpose of obtaining further areas which will be perfectly useless to us ? I spent a goodly portion of my life in the tropical parts of Australia, °and I have had some experience in regard to this matter. Some of my most valued friends went to New Guinea, and most of them succumbed to malarial fever.
– Did they go there as gold miners ?
– They went up the Fly River to prospect for gold, and four out of the five who went died.
– Virgin tropical country is always malarial.
– If we wish to secure some return for our money, let us at once get rid of this fanciful notion of non-alienation of the lands of British New Guinea. The sooner we do so the better it will be. What has been our experience in Northern Queensland, in the north-western parts of Western Australia, and the northern portion of South Australia ? There we have hundreds of millions of acres that we cannot even give away.
– Western Australia is today throwing away a valuable patrimony, and her action will be. repented of some few years hence.
– Western Australia is endeavouring to induce settlement by means of most liberal land’ laws. She is profiting by the folly of other countries and endeavouring to obtain the best class of settlers - the people who own their own holdings. What has been our experience in South Australia? We established a new system known as the blockers’ agricultural holdings, under which land was handed over to the settlers on perpetual lease. But before many years had elapsed the very men who had been hungering for these areas and advocating the leasing system succeeded in inducing a fairly democratic Parliament to reverse their decision, and to give them ‘the right of purchase. Our experience in other directions has been the same. The fear that some one may make money has always been a curse to the country, both in regard to pastoral and agricultural pursuits. So far as pastoral pursuits in South Australia were concerned, the trouble was that we failed to give those interested’ in the industy a sufficient length of tenure, and refused to give them terms sufficiently libera] to enable them to make the best use of their holdings. The result was that they overstocked their land, neglected to fence their holdings, and made no attempt at water conservation, and after two or three dry seasons the pastoral industry was ruined. A little later on the advanced views that are now being put forward here, were advocated in South Australia. We had members of the South Australian Legislature asserting that the squatters were monopolizing too much country, and that the areas held by them should be resumed and cut into smaller holdings and leased to farmers. Large sections of the Northern Areas were cut up in that way, and farmers were placed on them, with the result that many of them have been starving and begging for seed-wheat ever since.
– The trouble was that the Government did not place them on the good land.
– It seems to me that the theory .is that we should confiscate the good land which has been proven by those who hold it, and put other people on to it. The South Australian Government thought that the land to which I am referring was of good quality. They cut up a certain portion north of Goyder’s line of rainfall, and they peopled it with farmers, who now owe them a’little over £100,000 for seed wheat, and are still starving. In view of the fact that large areas in the northern part of South Australia are going begging, it seems to me to be farcical to make such proposals as these in regard to New Guinea.e In 1890 a law was passed in South Australia giving the right to a person to select 360 acres of land before survey in the Northern Territory. A good deal of the land was connected by rail with centres of population, and the whole of it had telegraph and postal facilities. Notwithstanding these facts, the price charged was only ls. 3d. per acre, payable in five yearly instalments of 3d., and very liberal terms were allowed as to the area to be cultivated. But although the South Australian Government has millions of acres of land of this kind, none of it has been taken up. Under an. Act which was recently passed, South Australia is to-day offering’ 90,000,000 acres to any syndicate which will construct a railway. That is a fairly large slice of land, representing as it does an area quite as large as Victoria. All that the Government ask in return is that they shall have a right to purchase the railway at a valuation ; but people do not seem to be tumbling over one another in their anxiety to close with the offer. In view of these facts, all this “ hifalutin “ - for it is nothing more- is mere trash.
– If it is “ hifalutin “ it is advocated in one of the most ancient books in the world - the Bible. It is the basis of the old Mosaic dispensation.
– I find also that under the old Mosaic dispensation the greatest promise given to the children of Israel was that they should go to a land flowing with milk and honey, and that they should possess and enjoy it in perpetuity.
– On leasehold 1
– There may have been some labour agitators and single taxers in those times, but I have not heard of them. The position to-day in regard to the northern parts of Australia most adjacent to New Guinea’ is that there are millions of acres which are almost unoccupied even for pastoral purposes. The Governments of those parts of the country are only too anxious to afford facilities for settlement. In face of that fact, we are talking of imposing absurd conditions for the settlement of New Guinea.
– The honorable member must not forget that the very land upon which this building is erected was unoccupied 70 years ago.
– But the climatic conditions that prevail in latitude 13 south are entirely different from those prevailing in the southern portions of Australia. Behind all this talk about hanging up New Guinea and doing nothing with it, there is really the idea of preventing the employment of black labour there. Is not the larger question involved? If we settle New Guinea, are we prepared to allow the tropical products of that country to be grown by black labour, natives of the island, whilst we debar the employment of black labour in the northern portions of the other States of Australia ? In my opinion the most northern portions of Australia can only be cultivated effectually with the aid of black labour.
– “What is the white population of Northern Queensland t
– I do not know, but I know that if New Guinea is to be settled its products can consist only of the results of tropical agriculture. If we intend to permit the cultivation of the magnificent tropical country of New Guinea by black labour, we shall introduce an element of considerable difficulty as affecting the white Australian question.
– That has nothing to do with the land tenure.
– But it affects the whole matter. What is to be done with the land in New Guinea if it is not to be cultivated ? Is it to be leased or sold, or how is it to be utilized 1 If it is to be utilized for tropical agriculture by native races - to whom we profess that we are going to show such magnanimity - what is to be the condition of the rest of tropical Australia 1 Are we going to permit sugar and tobacco to be grown by black labour in New Guinea, and bar the production of those articles by black labour in tropical Australia ? How is our policy with regard to both countries to be squared 1
– What does the honorable member suggest1?
– I certainly do not suggest the sale of the land, because I do not think that we can get any one to buy it. A man can buy in Northern Queensland or the northern portion of the Northern Territory of South Australia as many acres as he wants. My own opinion is that we do not need t© utilize the land of New Guinea at all. We do not want to settle it. It is generally admitted that we have taken the portion of the island which is under our jurisdiction purely for protective purposes - lest it might be a meance to us in the hands of some other power. Let us frankly admit that we are prepared to pay for that protection without any question of settlement whatever.
– Then it would be better to provide that no one shall be allowed to settle in New Guinea.
– If we pass such an amendment as that now before the Committee we shall be effectually providing that no one shall settle in New Guinea. But we do not require to vote for anything of that kind. We need to understand clearly what our object is. We retain British New Guinea because of the danger to Australia if the island should fall completely into other hands. In other words, by means of this Bill we are assuming the government of an enormous tract of country which we do not want for purposes of settlement - because we have plenty of land of our own that we cannot get rid of - but for purposes of defence. I shall not vote for the amendment, but shall support the the Bill as it stands. I see no danger in it. If this question of the land tenure ‘has to be determined, let it be dealt with 1 by aseparate motion, or by a separate Bill when we know something more about the land than we do now.
– As a general rule it is a good thing to do what one desires to do at the first opportunity that presents itself. We are now .dealing with a measure that permits of an amendment of this kind being introduced into it, and I trust that the Committee will not allow to pass the opportunity of doing what I believe the majority of honorable members desire to do. The tirade of the honorable member who has just sat down regarding Northern Queensland shows that he has no knowledge of the class of people who have developed that portion of the country which I represent. The whole of the Queensland coastline, from Bowen to Thursday Island, is Occupied by 25,000 white adults, as the honorable member should know ; because the honorable member for Herbert sits in this House for that particular strip of country. Yet the honorable member suggests that Northern Queensland can be developed only by the black races. His statement may not be wilful misrepresentation, but for all practical purposes it goes forth as a misrepresentation of the state of affairs in Queensland.
– No such statement has been made.
– The honorable gentleman said that the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia and the Northern Territory of South Australia would have to be developed by black labour.
– Nothing of the ‘ kind.
– Well, that is the impression which the honorable member’s remarks left upon my mind.
– I said that the far northern portion of Australia will never be developed for agricultural purposes except by black labour.
– No doubt the honorable member has a great knowledge of tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory of South Australia ; but he should have been very careful to say exactly what he meant. I think that most of the members of the Committee were of opinion that his remarks referred to the whole of the northern portion of Australia, which, of course, includes the northern part of Queensland. Does he not know that the whole of the northern part of Queensland has been developed by white labour ?
– Not one acre in 1,000, and probably not one acre in 10,000 has been developed by white labour. I do not allude to the few small sugar plantations on the coast, but to the many thousands of acres in the interior.
– There is very little of that land which is not under occupation by pastoralists and others. During the past two years it has been some of the best grazing land in the State. It is to the Gulf country, and to the extreme northern districts, that we look for the stock which is to replenish our wasted herds.
– I spoke about agricultural development. Why does the honorable gentleman persist in misrepresenting my statements ?
– The honorable gentleman is continually shifting his ground. He has designated the amendment of the honor able member for Kalgoorlie as “hifalutin,”an expression which hardly befits what has been called the rarer atmosphere of Federal politics.
– Perhaps I should have said electioneering.
– The honorable member also made use of a stronger statement which I shall not repeat. It is not “ high-falutin “ to endeavour to carry out what he himself has admitted to be the right policy, the preservation to the natives of New Guinea of the land whish they now occupy. What has been the history of New Guinea since it was annexed by Great Britain ? One British syndicate after another has endeavoured to obtain large slices of that country’ in fee-simple. Year after year they have made applications £or land, and they have not yet withdrawn from their position.
– But they have not been successful in getting the land ?
– Why? If the majority of the people of Australia had been of the honorable member’s way of thinking, they would have been successful. It is only because there were in politics a sufficient number of men of the party against which honorable gentlemen rail, who were determined that no undue advantages should be secured in New Guinea by syndicates from other parts of the world, that those syndicates were unsuccessful.
– One may be in favour of the alienation in freehold of reasonable areas, and yet be opposed to the exploitation of the Territory.
– That is quite true. When speaking upon the motion affirming the determination of the Commonwealth to accept the responsibility of administering New Guinea,. I pointed out that application had been made for some 200,000 acres of freehold. .
– 50,000 acres is the maximum area which can be obtained under the present regulations.
– That ordinance was made after the application of the syndicate had been granted by the New Guinea authorities.
– The honorable member is now speaking of something that occurred in the past. What danger is there of the Commonwealth allowing such large alienations ?
– In my opinion, this Parliament should not lose the opportunity to prevent by a specific enactment the possibility of such an occurrence. Have honorable members who speak with such authority upon the climate and soil of New Guinea, read the latest report upon the Territory? The Lieutenant-Governor, writing a summary of the report of the Government Surveyor, who is also Commissioner for Lands, Works, and Mines, says -
The report deals with the grazing capabilities of parts of the Possession. On this point, perhaps, the report is a little optimistic.
The Surveyor-General is an expert in regard to land matters, and yet his superior takes it upon himself to edit his report for our benefit.
– Why should he not do so ?
– What would be thought if we asked a specialist to prepare a report on some subject, and the Governor-General submitted to us his opinions in regard to the matter ?
– We must rely greatly on the Lieutenant-Governor’s opinions in regard to these matters.
– I do not object to the Lieutenant-Governor giving his opinions, but what is the use of having a specialist to make a report if his superior officer, who is not a specialist, can substitute for that report his opinion upon it? The report proceeds -
The greater and more constant rainfall is certainly one advantage which this country possesses over the inland plains of Australia. Cattle and horses running in the grassy forest lands behind Port. Moresby, which for New Gninea is a dry district, do keep in good condition even when there is a long’ spell of dry weather ; but there are tracts of swamp which furnish feed when the grass of the dry lands gets scanty.
Here we’ have pictured a perfect paradise compared with some.” parts of Australia, and yet one honorable member after another has told us that it is almost impossible for white people to exist there. I think it would be a good thing if the greater portion of this report were published in Hansard. It is further stated that -
During the year 70 applications for land were received, of which sixteen were from the missions. Of the mission applications, fifteen were granted and one refused. Of the other applications, nine were withdrawn, six refused, seventeen granted, and 23 were still under consideration. Many of these latter applications were for land owned by natives at a distance from any European settlement, and the land wanted could not be granted before an officer was able to visit and purchase it. Some applicants are fond of applying for small islands in the South-Eastern archipelagos, which, from a business point of view, are of hardly any value, but which ore absolutely necessary for tho support of their native owners, and which the Government, therefore, decline to permit the natives to part with. The total area of lands granted was 1,155 acres, being 538 to missions and 617 to other applicants. The total area applied for was 202,529 acres, but the bulk of this was represented by two or three applications for very large blocks, which the Government were not able to deal with definitely.
We have often been told that large areas of this land are useless, and yet every year sinue I have known anything of New Guinea, large tracts of it have been applied for. It is to be assumed that the applicants intend to put it’ to some profitable use. ‘ It is pointed out very clearly that there is a very small area of land available beyond that which belongs to the natives. Tables showing the land acquired and alienated’ or leased are attached to the report, and we are told that -
From these it appears that the ascertained Crown lands of the possession amounted, at the ond of the financial year, to 696,421 acres. These lands have cither been purchased from the natives, or have under statutory authority, boon appropriated by the Crown as Crown lands, beqouse no one owned them, and they were not needed by the natives. If a demand for land in this possession arose, the Government would have no difficulty in adding largely to its ascertained lands.
The whole of the land in possession of the Crown, apart from that held* by. natives, amounts to only 696,421 acres, and yet we are asked to allow the local administration to deal with that area in any way that it pleases. I submit that the amendment is a proper one, and if its sole effect is to prevent land monopoly to the disadvantage of tho natives I shall be very well pleased. It has been stated that we took over New Guinea partly with a view to safeguarding ourselves from attacks by foreign Powers, and that our object should be to establish a numerous white ‘population within the Territory. But I think that our purpose would be equally well served if we directed our attention to promoting the welfare of the natives. I hope that we shall never do anything to injure the natives of the eountry, and thus ‘ bring reproach upon ourselves. There are between 300,000 and 500,000 natives who are now making some progress, and surely our first consideration should be their protection and welfare. For that and other reasons, I very strongly press upon honorable members the desirableness of supporting the amendment.
This is the time at which we should, lay down a sound policy for the Commonwealth. We should not defer action until some later period, because the utmost mischief might be done in’ the meantime.
– I move -
That the House do nowadjourn.
To-morrow it is proposed to continue the discussion in Committee of the Papua Bill. I heard an ejaculation to the effect that the adjournment of the House is to be moved to-morrow, but in any ease l think we shall be able to deal with the particular question which has been before us to-night. There are one or two clauses which . 1 desire to look into, but we shall proceed with the Bill as far as we possibly con to-morrow. Whatever time there may be to spare will be devoted to the Defence Bill in Committee.
– I informed the Minister for Home Affairs that I intend to move the adjournment of the House to-morrow in order to consider the question of the representation of Queensland in this House and the re-arrangement of seats. But I do not think the motion need occupy much time. Personally, I shall not detain the House more than a few minutes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030730_reps_1_15/>.