1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. REID subscribed the oath, and signed the roll as member for the electoral district of East Sydney.
Mr. TUDOR presented a petition from certain electors of Victoria, praying thoHouse to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, so that its provisions shall apply to railway servants in the employ of the States. Petition received.
– I desire togive notice that I will move on Tuesday week -
Perhaps honorable members will allow meat this juncture to make a abort statement as to a conversation which I have had with the Premier of New South Wales on thesubject with which that motion deals. I found that he is ready and willing to assist in every way this Parliament in coming toand in carrying out a determination as to the site of the Federal Capital, and that there will bo no difficulty about the allotment of the minimum area of territory surrounding the seat of government - 100 square miles - provided for in the Constitution, but that any additional area will have to be the subject of negotiation between this Government and the Government of New South Wales. The legal questions involved received some consideration, but my primary object, and I think that of the Premier of New South Wales, was to arrive at a suitable agreement, and to obtain suitable assistance on each side without too much regard to legal technicalities. I may add that I received the assurance from the New South Wales Premier that “ any choice that the Federal Parliament comes to out of the areas reported on by the Commission will be supported, and, to the best of their ability, carried into effect, by the Government of New South Wales.”
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill - Order op Business.
– I desire to make a statement in regard ‘ to a decision which was arrived at by honorable members last night when the House was in Committee upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Upon moving to report progress, I stated that the Government considered the vote which had been given to be of some gravity, and that I felt that I should be best consulting the interests of Parliament and of the public if I said at once that we could not proceed with further business until we had considered the situation. We have now considered it, and honorable members, if they do me the kindness to refer to the notice-paper, will find there an indication of the result of that consideration. Our position is this : A determination has been come to on a matter affecting the Bill which we consider of the utmost importance. The Bill as introduced made aclear distinction between the employes of the Government of the Commonwealth and of Governments of the States and the employes of private companies and individuals. As was explained by the Attorney-General, clause 3 was inserted in the measure for the express purpose of obtaining an expression of opinion from honorable members upon that proposal, and as we now find that they are opposed to the form which we desire the Bill to take, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot accept the amendment or proceed with the Billas amended. It is therefore our intention to ask Parliament to proceed with the Budget debate and the Estimates, and to give attention to some of the more urgent matters which I am about to specify. We think that the remainder of the business of the session, apart from the Budget debate and the consideration of the Estimates, should be confined to the final consideration of the Electoral Divisions Bill, the Defence Bill, and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company’s Agreement, which are now before the Senate ; the Patents and Naturalization Bills, which have been passed by the Senate, and have been set down for their second reading in this House ; and the motion for the determination of the site of the Federal Capital, of which I have given notice this afternoon.
– Is the Federal Capital motion to be the last to be considered ?
– I did not mention it last so that it might be inferred that it would be dealt with last, but because it is the only matter which has not yet been considered by either House. We may possibly have time to consider, too, although I doubt that we shall be able to do so, because a long debate is likely to occur upon it, the report of the Royal Commission upon the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
– What about the Standing Orders ?
– As I have said on previous occasions, the consideration of the Standing Orders depends upon the time available. I doubt whether there will be time to deal with them, though I should like to see them dealt’ with. I wish to odd that I do not intend to proceed with the Papua Bill, because I am convinced that there are subjects connected with it, in regard to some of which amendments have already been made in the measure, and as to which further consideration should be given after inquiries have been instituted in New Guinea.
– Is that because Messrs. Burns, Philp and Co. have intervened?
– No. I do not think that they have influenced me in the matter in the slightest degree.
– I observe in the statement of the Prime Minister one defect which seems to me to show a lack of that candour which should characterize Ministerial utterances such as he has just made. I have not heard from him in so many words the decision, if any such has been arrived at, on the part of the Government to drop the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I suppose that such decisions can be couched in such diplomatic language that one has to search for some indication of the intention of the Ministry. T took the statement to mean that the Bill would be dropped; but it seems to me that there has not been proper candour in regard to that important matter.
– The Government never intended to pass the Bill.
– If the Ministry have decided to drop the Bill, I think the least the Prime Minister should have done was to say ;so in so many words. His expressions did not quite come up to the necessities of the situation. The Government put forward the Bill as one of the noblest and most important measures of human legislation, and announced their absolute determination to pass it atall hazards. A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to it under circumstances of grave suspicion. L say grave suspicion, because I never yet knew the Government Whip at fault on an important occasion as to how the votes would be recorded. When there was a proposed alteration of the Naval Agreement Bill, the Government took a perfectly candid attitude. The Prime Minister then spoke in no uncertain language. He did then what it was his duty to the House 1o do, not perhaps on ‘that occasion, because it was a trivial one, but in regard to all important measures. At the time I, although a member of the Opposition, was sitting behind him, and he said - “ We shall regard most seriously any attempt to alter this agreement.” Surely, in view of the deep importance which is attached to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the generous support which the Government have had from all parties in the Chamber in the consideration of this great national measure, the Minister owed it to those who have the interest of the Bill at heart to let them have some faint indication of the gravity with which he viewed the proposed amendment. On this occasion I am .not suggesting a course of conduct for the Prime Minister which I have not myself followed on a somewhat memorable occasion. In New South Walesthere was before Parliament a Bill of considerable importance, although not the great question of the day, namely,, a measure for the establishment of local Government. The honorable membersbelonging to the Labour Party introduced an amendment which was carried, and which I regarded as one - in the same way that the present Government regard the amendment of last night - that called for seriousconsideration. The Cabinet gave the matter serious consideration, and in view of theimportance of the measure, and of the fact that we believed that a large majority of honorable members were anxious to pass, some such legislation, we intimated that we proposed to ask the House to again go intoCommittee on the Bill, and that if honorable members still remained of “the opinion that the amendment was vital to the Bill - putting aside all questions as to the other advantages of the Bill without the amendment - the Government would have to abandon it. We went into Committee under ‘ these conditions. The Committee would not reverseits decision, and we dropped the Bill. TheConciliation and Arbitration Bill was not a party measure. It was just as much theproperty of the Opposition as of the Government. I stood up here and supported the second reading of the Bill, and a large number of my friends beside me did the same. . In the case of a Bill of such importance, supported on all sides of the Chamber, there should not be any ‘ suspicion whatever of party action, and I am bound to say that thecourse adopted by the Government convinces me that they regard the Bill as one that endangers their position at the approaching elections, and that their action is designed toget rid of it.
– That isutterly untrue. Perhaps without entering into argument or debate I may be permitted to answer the right honorable gentleman’s, question as to whether I definitely stated that the Government intended to drop the Bill. I was not aware that I had given theHouse only a faint indication of the intentions of the Government. If the righthonorable gentleman has misapprehended me, I wish to say that I intended to makemy statement clear enough, and I believethat no other honorable member of the House has misunderstood me. I intended to say that we could not proceed with the
Bill as amended last night, and that we intended to drop it.
– That is plain enough.
– The suggestion that we wish to drop the Bill, owing to our fear regarding the result of the general elections, is a wholly unwarranted assumption. It will be found that at the elections “the Bill, as we desire to pass it, will form a part of the Government programme.
– I have received an intimation from the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney, that he desires to move the adjournment of the House, to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The proposed action of the Government in dropping the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I think that this is almost the first occasion upon which I have moved the adjournment of the House in this Parliament. My desire in doing so is to afford honorable members an opportunity to deal with the present situation. As honorable members are aware, by the strict Parliamentary rules there can be only a statement by the Prime Minister pf the Ministerial intentions, and a reply on the part of the Leader of the Opposition. No other honorable member is afforded an opportunity to express his views. I felt that this was an occasion when every honorable member of this Chamber should have an opportunity to define his position. I say that the conduct of the Government in making the amendment agreed to last night a vital question, without an intimation in the faintest way to the House that the carrying of the amendment would destroy the Bill, showed a want of candour. I admit that that is quite a matter of opinion, because I recognise that there is a feeling that what is called cracking the Ministerial whip is a proceeding to be sometimes deprecated. There is no doubt about that, and it should not be resorted to except on the rarest occasions. I think I should take up a sounder position if, without censuring the Government at all for not indicating the true significance of the vote on the amendment, I stated that the Government certainly showed a want of candour - if they were really in earnest about the Bill, and I am assuming that they were - in not bringing the matter before the House again so that honorable members might, in the light of the possible loss of the measure, know what they were doing. That is the complaint I have to make against the Government.
– The Attorney-General distinctly stated that the Bill was not to be regarded as of a party character.
– I am informed that the Attorney-General stated that the proposal was not to be dealt with as a party matter. Now the Government has taken this Bill out of the hands of the House without giving honorable members an opportunity to reconsider their position. This will place many honorable members in a false position when they appeal to the people. The Government have not a sufficient interest in the Bill to bring it here and take honorable members into their confidence so that they may appreciate the true position, and have an opportunity to exercise their discretion. If, with the issue of the loss of the Bill before them, the Committee still adhered to the amendment, the Government would be upon sound ground, and those who supported the amendment would take the responsibility attached to the loss of the measure. The Government might then fairly go to the country and say - “ We did all we could to pass the Bill, but an amendment was inserted which rendered it impossible for us to proceed with the measure. We asked the House to reconsider their vote and, in order that something should be done - that enormous good which Ministers on their own Bill predicted would come to pass - to abandon the amendment and take the Bill as it stood. The action of the Government does not affect me, but it will place a large number of honorable members of this House in a false position, because the supporters of the Government who may be opposing the members of the Labour Party - and the members of the Labour Party will have sufficient to contend with at the next election - will be able to denounce them for having wrecked the Bill. I say that the Government have deliberately wrecked their own Bill without giving those who believed in it heart and soul a chance of reconsidering their decision.
– All the leaders of the House supported it.
– Yes, I supported it. No nian could say that the Bill was not more or less an experiment, but I regarded it upon broad national grounds. I said that the Bill ran counter to many of my ingrained political convictions, but I set against all those the grand issue of settling vital and great disputes between capital and labour, not by the weapons of human misery and want and strife, but by the arbitrament of a Court of Justice. That was the basic principle of the Bill. Some honorable members in favour of the amendment might, in view of the great good that would be achieved by the Bill without the amendment, feel inclined to abandon their original purpose. They might recognise that the)’ would have to choose between the good that was in the Bill, and the greater good which they wished to achieve by extending its operation. The action of the Government -does not very much affect the party on this side, but it will place a large number of honorable members in an absolutely false position before the country. I desire, in submitting this motion, to give other honorable members an opportunity to express their opinions in the same way that I, by virtue of my position, have been permitted to do.
– At the outset it is fair to allude to the charge of want of candour - a charge which comes from an honorable gentleman, who, in dealing with this question in what he deemed to be an approving spirit, absolutely made no reference whatever to the two chief subjects in dispute in connexion “with the . Bill, namely, that dealt with hy the amendment of last night, and the extension of the provisions of the Bill to oversea shipping. The charge of want of Candour comes with ill grace from such a source. We do expect political leaders to express their opinions upon the most important matters dealt with in the measures submitted - the very gravamen of them - and not, after omitting all reference to such principles, to bring charges of want of candour against others. So much for the charge of want of candour. If the AttorneyGeneral or I had made any statement which, in the least degree, indicated that the
Government would have to consider its position or the position of the Bill in the event of the amendment being carried, no voice would have been shriller than that of my right honorable friend, if he had been here, in denouncing us for threatening the House. It is obvious that the Government cannot do right. If it does not openly state the consequences of agreeing to an amendment, it is charged with want of candour, whereas if it does indicate the consequences it is hounded down for threatening the House. The AttorneyGeneral, in- his speech, repeatedly called attention to the seriousness of the matter, and if anything had been required to direct the attention of the House to its importance, that want was supplied by the statement that the Government had purposely inserted the clause in the Bill with the object of inviting a decision upon it, knowing that, if the Bill were passed without any such provision, it could not operate to bind the Crown. The terms of an Act of Parliament, which are absolutely general in their application, do not bind the Crown or the authorities under the Crown, unless there is something, either by way of express statement or necessary implication, showing the intention of Parliament. Therefore, if the Bill had been silent upon the subject of the clause it would not have bound the Crown, and the provision was inserted, not to challenge honorable members in any unfriendly way, but to invite them to express their opinions and come to a decision. When a Minister of the Crown stands up and offers such an explanation, it becomes absurd to say that he is affording the House no conception of the seriousness of the position. There are two charges possible in such a case. The Government may be charged with threatening the House if it take3 one course, or with want of candour if it takes the other. No matter what the Government may do, they are always open to one charge or the other. It is part of the game, and we can, therefore, afford to smile at such charges. We are charged with want of candour in not bringing the clause before the House for reconsideration. Although there was not a large attendance of members last night, a considerable number were accounted for in the division and pair list. We have had an opportunity to investigate the matter, and we are far from satisfied that it would be possible to reverse the position. If we had been satisfied that that would have been possible, we should certainly have asked the House to agree to a test division on the question whether the clause should stand part of the Bill, because the clause as amended would .have afforded a fair .battle-ground. But our investigations showed us that we ought to accept the decision of the Committee as a deliberate expression of opinion by this House. It is nothing to me to be told that there was an honorable member here or there who did not fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. Surely the matter was one upon which honorable members should have’ made up their minds, lt is not for a Government to threaten or cajole at any stage of a debate. When I am derided by the leader of the Opposition for the course which I took in connexion with the Naval Agreement Bill, what, 1 may ask, is there that he will not deride me for, and how far are his utterances to be regarded as sincere. Of course I can understand what sort of situation is being developed. An attempt is being made to manufacture . public opinion in one place and in another. If the attempt fails outside of this House, then it can be tried inside of it, and that is the process which is now going on. The Government are prepared to stand by their decision with the full knowledge of the risk which it involves. If the leader of the Opposition desires to ascertain the opinion of the House upon the matter, why does he take advantage of the cover afforded by a paltry motion for adjournment ‘
– Because the capital sites question has not yet been disposed of.
– Will the honorable member for Parramatta tell me that if the leader of the Opposition thought he had a chance he would not press this motion to a division ? It has been pointed out to me - and I am supported by my own recollection of the matter - that the Government have been consistently abused for not having submitted the question of the selection of the capital site at an earlier stage of the session. Upon their own showing, those who vent that abuse upon us would scarcely be likely to stay their hands upon that account. It is rather another reason -why they should challenge the action of the Government, and thus get the capital sites question into their own hands. In his speeches last night the AttorneyGeneral clearly laid down what were the characteristics of clause 3 of the Bill, and of the amendment. He pointed out how far those proposals affected the whole policy which the Government had endeavoured tolay down in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. If the facts as stated by him did not suggest that the question was one of serious import, it is difficult to understand how, by any means, the position could be brought home to honorable members and made intelligible to them. It has been said that the Government have wrecked this Bill. They have done nothing of the sort. They have fought to their utmost against the insertion in it of a provision which is in direct opposition to the policy which they have enunciated. They are bound toaccept the decision of the House, and they also accept the responsibility of openly declaring that they will not proceed with a measure which contains such a provision. At the same time they will, if they remain in power, re-assert their belief in the principles of the Bill. They can do no more, and they should do no less. Had the Government not adopted the course which they have followed they would have been unworthy of the trust which has been reposed in them, by the country. Certainly I should haverefused to remain in a Government which acted otherwise, with the usual consequencesof the head of a Government handing in his resignation. That is the position set up in this matter. I disdain and deny any charge that the Government have paltered with this measure, and there are a numberof honorable members who know personally from me how warm and deep is the interest which I feel in it, and how strongly I have always expressed my desire to see its principles carried into effect, .although one or two propositions have been put forward in this connexion with which it was necessary for me to* say in obedience to my conscience that I could not agree. The action of theleader of the Opposition, I may add, is in harmony with that sort of demonstration which has characterized his recent proceedings.
– I think that, the conduct of the Government in this matter is in the highest degree unsatisfactory. So far as appearances go, there isevery justification for a charge of absolute insincerity being levelled against them. Honorable members must recollect that this Bill was included in the programme which wasput forward by the Government at Maitland nearly three years ago. It was approved by » vast majority of the candidates who solicited the suffrages of the electors for both Houses of this Parliament. After an extremely arduous session we had a long recess, during which’ Ministers were supposed to be incubating this measure. Every opportunity Vas given them to introduce it -at the earliest moment after the reassembling of Parliament. What happened 1 First we were told that the Bill had not been drafted. Then a difference of -opinion occurred amongst the members of the Cabinet, and finally the measure was introduced at the fag end of the session. In my desire to get it passed into law, I was prepared to sacrifice a very great deal. I have remained silent with the object of doing all that I possibly could to expedite its progress. So far I have refrained from any public comment upon the .action of the Government, who, I think, cannot have had the interests of this Bill seriously at heart. As regards the immediate cause of the present trouble, the Attorney-General, when introducing the Bill, definitely stated ti ‘at the provision in question was inserted practically to test the feeling of the House. I say that that constituted an invitation to honorable members to exercise their own judgments. I am glad to know that a majority pronounced in favour of the operation of the Bill being extended to every individual in the community. The AttorneyGeneral also added that no party question was involved in its consideration. With two deliberate statements of that nature before honorable members what reason was there to believe that that provision would be made the crucial point of the measure? There was no justification for honorable members entertaining the idea that anything more was at stake than the opinion - probably the earnest opinion - of the members of the Cabinet as individuals. On the immediate question of whether the Govern- ment servants should be brought under the -operation of the Bill, it seems to me that we have reached rather a peculiar stage in connexion with responsible government. I know that the old idea of responsible government was that unless a Ministry were given their own way in every particular they were not justified in retaining office. Personally I have never shared that view. I contend that so long as the main principles of the policy which is adopted by a Governmnent are not affected by the decisions pf the House, they can afford to defer to the opinions of the majority in matters of detail. It is scarcely necessary for me to point out that in regard to two important matters in connexion with the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill, the opinion of this House has been flouted. And upon this question we are told by the Government that we have no right to come to any decision other than that which has been arrived at by themselves. If that principle is to be followed there is no necessity to have a Committee stage in the consideration of any Bill. The Government might just as well bring forward their measures, and the House agree to them without any qualification. We have now . reached a period when it is very problematical whether this Bill could be put through during the current session, owing to the delay which has taken place. The blame for that delay lies at the door of the Government. It is very doubtful whether the measure could be passed through both Houses in the time at our disposal before the elections take place. The whole of the blame for that delay lies at the door of the Ministry.
– The Opposition did not help the progress of the measure;
– I can only say that the party with which I am associated have lent their best assistance to its passage through this House. They have even remained silent upon matters which vitally affect their own electorates rather than delay its progress. All that sacrifice, however, has been in vain, because the Government, having delayed its introduction, are now prepared to drop the Bill upon entirely inadequate grounds. We are bound within a very short period to face the electors, and I believe that the feeling of the country in favour of the principle of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes extends far beyond its application merely to the employes of private individuals. I believe that the country will support the decision of the House last night, and that, irrespective of what Government may be in office after the next elections, it will be necessary, in obedience to the voice of the community, to make provision to extend the benefits conferred by that principle to all employes. I intend to take every opportunity which presents itself to put that matter clearly before the people of Australia.
– It is quite refreshing to find that the Government are displaying a little backbone; but unfortunately that display comes a little too late to have much effect upon this House. The Ministry have ambled through the whole of this Parliament, have repeatedly recast their measures at the bidding of the House, and have time and again altered their policy in vital particulars to suit the passing moods of honorable members. Now at its close, when they have succeeded in fastening a protective policy upon the country, they have nothing but disrespect for honorable members who assisted them to place that policy upon the statutebook. The action taken by many honorable members was prompted not so much by a desire to see a protective policy foisted upon the Commonwealth, as by the belief that the Government would give them this measure which they now refuse to give them. That has been the conduct of the. Ministry all through the present Parliament. While we may be glad to witness an occasional departure to the old path of strictly responsible government, the action of the Ministry comes with ill-grace from those who have ignored responsible government for three years. The Prime Minister has said a great deal in reference to the two main points .of this measure. He has declared that the House knew that there were two storm centres in connexion with the Bill - one relating to its application to civil servants, and the other to oversea shipping. Is it to evade the second point that Ministers intend to drop the Bill upon the first question’! I say again that we shall look in vain for any symptoms of sincerity on the part of the Government in connexion with oversea shipping. Whilst they refuse to subject foreign ships to the same conditions as are applicable to Australian vessels, they still declare that they intend, at a later stage, to submit a measure which will have the effect of driving all foreign shipping from our shores.
– It will not be in order in the course of this debate to make any reference to the details of a Bill which is still upon the notice-paper. I cannot allow any discussion of its provisions. The question which is now under consideration is the action of the Government in dropping the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and therefore anything relating to the question whether the Bill should be proceeded with immediately or dropped is open to discussion, but certainly not any question that touches the details of the Bill, that being a> matter for future debate.
– I referred to thedetails incidentally in connexion with the question we are now debating. I apprehended that it would be quite in order torefer to any matter which is affected by the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and that is all I am endeavouring to do. ThePrime Minister introduced the question.
– As long as the honorable member was clearly making but an incidental reference to the details I did not interrupt him. But when it appeared to me that he was proceeding to discuss thepoints involved, I felt bound to call his. attention to the fact.
– I referred to thematter in order to show that, while the Government strains at the gnat represented by oversea shipping, it is prepared to swallow the whole camel in the shape of the shipping of the world, which it proposes later onto drive away altogether fi om our coasts. If there is one measure more than another to which this Government has deeply pledged itself it is a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The leading members of the Government were among the most prominent members of the Convention, and they began by inserting a provision in the Constitution enabling the Federal Parliament to deal with the question. When later on they made their bow to the people of Australia at the first Federal, election, they put Conciliation and Arbitration in the forefront of their programme.. This is what the Prime Minister said in his Maitland manifesto -
Among the powers of the legislature of theCommonwealth is that of conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. This is a power, the necessity for the exercise of which, it is to be hoped, wilt seldom arise ; but on this subject, in order to beprepared, Mr. Kingston will introduce a Bill. We realize that it is better to be prepared and. to provide legislation to meet such cases ratherthan have a Serious and prolonged dispute sprungupon the country.
If I remember rightly, that manifesto was. described by the honorable member for Wentworth as a most statesmanlike utterance, but he now takes strong objection tothe proposal which has led to the defeat of the Bill. When, later on, the Government proceeded to frame their measures for submission to Parliament, they did not ‘ forget the question of Conciliation and Arbitration, and prominence was given to it in the speech delivered by the Governor-General at the opening of each session of the Parliament. On the last occasion we were told that the Ministry had framed the Bill, and that they hoped shortly to introduce it. They congratulated the House on the steady growth of public opinion in favour of the principle of conciliation and arbitration, but if we are to exclude the railways and the shipping of this Commonwealth from the provisions of this measure, what will the Court have to do ? Here, it seems to me, is apparent the farce of the whole Governmental proceeding. They have from time to time made much of the Bill. Upon the promise that they would deal with the question, they have obtained the undivided and unequivocal support of the members of the Labour Party. But it seems that they never intended to give the country real Conciliation and Arbitration law. They intended rather to introduce a measure so emasculated that the Court to be created under it could not possibly have any active functions. Actions speak louder than words, and when the Prime Minister tells us, as he has again to-day, that the Government are going to stand by the provisions of this Bill - that they are going to take it to the country, and to pass it on the lines he has suggested - I contend that he proposes to give the country a Bill which will never become operative. The Court to be created under it will have nothing whatever to do, and therefore he might with greater advantage proceed with measures which will have some relation to the activities of the Commonwealth. If we are to exclude from the Bill these essentially inter-related trades of the Commonwealth - the shipping trade and the railways - the Court will have no purpose to serve. It seems, therefore, that the. Prime Minister from the first has been posing in the limelight, and indulging in mere theatrical gasconade. He has been flaunting the Court before the public, knowing that at the right time he would strip it of its vital functions. The moment he is face to face with all the frictional elements associated with the principle which he has belauded and bespattered with his praise, he shirks his duty. He declines to do anything which will hurt any one’s feelings, or cause trouble to arise outside. He has enjoyed the limelight to the full; he has repeated his promises from time to time, and now that he is asked to carry them out he forsakes the task which he set himself, and plays a deliberate trick upon the House. It is idle for the right honorable gentleman to say that he gave the House notice that the Government would object to an amendment such as was passed last night. No such notice was ever given, although it was the least that might have been done in regard to a matter of so much importance, affecting as it does the very existence of the Government. The right honorable gentleman may rest assured that, if it were not for the question of the Federal capita] site, which has yet to be determined,’ his Government would be at once turned out of office for its action in this matter. I venture to say that the House would not allow the Government, after the way in which they have treated it, to palter on with the other measures which the right honorable gentleman has to-day outlined.
– Could not the honorable member trust his own side to deal with the capital site question?
– We should like to have the chance to deal with it.
– The honorable member is frightened to take it.
– We do not desire to go to the country before the site of the capital has been selected. That is the trouble, and the Prime Minister knows it. He is responsible for this difficulty, and it must be frankly admitted that at the present moment he has the Opposition in a corner.
– But he has not the Labour Party in a corner.
– It may be a laughing matter for honorable members representing constituencies in this State, but it is of supreme importance to the representatives of New South Wales.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– What is the motion, Mr. Speaker?
– The terms of the motion are - “That the House do now adjourn,” and the right honorable member who moved it gave notice that he did so in order to enable the House to discuss “ the action of the Government in dropping the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.”
– I simply desire to point out that the Government would not be allowed to drop this Bill, and to proceed with the other measures to which reference has been made by the
Prime Minister, if it were not for the fact that the vital question of the selection of the Federal -capital, site lias not yet been determined. I deeply regret that that question is not to be considered unifil very late in the session. It seems .to me ito be only .another instance of a deeply laid scheme on the part of the Government to deal with all the business they can which will help them at the general election, and to avoid all those measures which would in any way interfere with their success at the poll. The Government have known from the first’ meeting of the Parliament the opinion .held by the Legislature in regard to the -question which has led to the withdrawal of the Bill. I assert that there never has been any misgiving on the part of the Government as to what the attitude of the House would be in -relation to it. Is it not a cowardly thing for us to compel .ail the private employers and employes of the Commonwealth Ed .resort to .a Conciliation and Arbitration Court for the settlement of their disputes when we are not prepared to allow -the -Governments ,-and their employes to be dealt with by the .same tribu-. nal. I do not intend to detain the House any longer. I .simply make my protest against the action of the Government in adopting this theatrical way of disposing of a most important question. They have not extended to the House that courtesy which is its due. They are escaping from am obligation, all the kudos attaching to which they .have enjoyed for three years. They have accepted the support of certain honorable members who have voted with them time after time - often against their own political convictions - simply because of their desire to secure the passing of measures such :as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill .; and now, having taken that support, they are kicking it away and repudiating the legislation in which those honorable members are so much interested. Such conduct may seem to the Prime Minister to be politically fair, but I venture to say that he will discover in the long run that it is better to play a .fair, square, and straight game with those who support, him than to treat them in the way he has done on this occasion. I voted last night in favour of the amendment, because I believed that if the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is to be of any service, it should deal with the .settlement of great Inter-State disputes. The States Courts oan deal with all other matters.
– But the Bill provides that they shall be dealt with by the Federal Court.
– I do not think so.
– Certainly it does.
– It provides only for the settlement of disputes extending beyond the limits of amy one State, and if it is to be shorn of the special functions which it was really set .up to deal with, it will be so much waste paper. It will be of no real service when it is most required. For these reasons I voted last night in favour of the amendment, and I would do so again to-morrow. It will fee for the Prime Minister to show what functions the Court will have to perform if it is stripped, as he intends to strip it, of the right to deal with the great and pressing matters relating to Federal disputes. The right honorable gentleman said that he could afford to smile at the criticism of the Opposition. No doubt be is in a position to do so, ‘and as a matter of fact lie looks more gay to-day than he has .appeared to be during the whole of the session. ‘
-The right honorable gentleman is .all smiles to-day, but it is impossible to say what may be the underlying source of his gaiety. Tt is said that those smile best who win. T suppose the Prime Minister has won for the moment in this game of check. He has accepted all the support that the Labour Party and others from time to time , could give him. They have helped him to build up his protective policy, -and now he is simply kicking away the ladder by which he climbed to a position in which he has been -enabled to create for the Commonwealth what lie describes :as a condition of fiscal peace. I congratulate him upon his happy frame of mind, but I do not congratulate him upon the means which he has adopted to achieve the position now occupied by .him.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).I rise for the purpose of indorsing the emphatic protests which have emanated from all parts of the House with regard to the action of the Government in this matter, and I am prepared to indorse that protest in any constitutional way which is open to me. What is the position 1 We have made this question of conciliation :a leading feature. It was, when I had the pleasure of being a member of the .Government, the leading feature in their policy. In one way or another we were prevented from bringing it forward earlier than we did. But, however much we may be excused for the delay, there is no doubt that we had no right whatever to bring it before the House in the shape we did, for in that shape it was nothing more than a mockery - the term I felt called upon to employ in my correspondence with the Prime Minister. Why ? Because it was wanting in regard to the industry which stood pre-eminently in need of it. Although Federal legislation is so urgently required for the protection of the Australian shipping industry, and Australians are crying out for relief from the competition of oversea shipping and foreigners-, the Government did nothing to put an end to the prevalence of cheap rates, black labour, and everything which we have deprecated in connexion with our immigration restriction legislation. Instead of saying that this should not be at all, it was to be tolerated, permitted, and encouraged. The shipping industry was to be free from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court.. Bonds were to be placed, not upon the hands of those who required them, but upon Australian shipowners, who are only too glad to do what they can to pay fairly and honorably the wages which their seamen earn.. I felt that I could not stay in a Ministry which would do an. act of that sort. If there is one industry above all in connexion with which the legislation which I suggest is wanted, it is the shipping industry. A circular which I have received from the Chamber of Commerce in Sydney - the chief shipping port of the Commonwealth - containsthe strongest testimony in support of that statement. It seems to me that they put their case too strongly when they say that no other industry can be benefited by the measure ; butin saying that the shipping industry chiefly requires such legislation, they take up a position of undoubted strength. These are the words they use -
Such a measure is unnecessary, and would be inany case uncalled for in regard to any industry except the shipping industry.
– I ask the right honorable member not to debatethe Bill.
– I do not propose to do so ; but I was justified in calling the action of the Government a farce, and in leaving the Ministerial post I occupied, for the purpose of fighting for the measure on the floor of the House, and in speaking upon it untrammeled, as I am doing now,, so that the country might get an honest Bill, and the matter might not be trifled with. I left the Ministry to work for the measure, and. to do all I could for it. The Government, as I feared they would, have given a further proof of their insincerity by adopting the most trifling pretext for sacrificing it, and preventing it from becoming the law of the country, notwithstanding the responsibility they undertook in regard to it when they carried the second reading.. What was the position yesterday ? I may hold different views from those of a good many who spoke upon the subject ; but I think that. I am right in this statement of the position : The Committee were in no way interfering with any grave principle of the measure. We were in no way interfering with the autonomy of the States.. We were simply providing that, where the States could not exercise jurisdiction in industrial matters, the Commonwealth should exercise such jurisdiction for the benefit of the entire community, and should assist theStates in preventing the troubles which we all deprecate. The result of what we did. was to provide that where the States could not stop a strike, having no jurisdiction, we would do so. Who would advocate the limiting of the exercise of power by the Federal Parliament for the stoppage of strikes with which the States do not possess the power to deal ?. I do not think that it is of any use to further trifle with the matter. The failure of the Government to realise the gravity of the question was shown in the first instance by the nature of the Bill they introduced, and. now we see it further exhibited: by the fact that they seize the flimsiest pretext for abandoning the whole policy, including that which they should have adopted in connexion with the Bill.
. The right honorable member for South Australia was a “ little more than kin,” he is now a little “less than kind.” He owed it to his late colleagues, for no one was better qualified to do it, to reply to the charges of delay brought against the Government- by the leader of the Labour Party. No one knows better than he the reason for that delay.
– That I was fighting my colleagues on the question. The AttorneyGeneral knows that that is so.
– Exactly. It has been stated that the Government delayed to avoid dealing with the Bill, and the right honorable member was in a position to say that lie knew of his own knowledge that his colleagues did not seek for a single moment to avoid dealing with it, but that the delay was all inevitable and part of it because of honest differences of opinion in the Cabinet.
– I did not charge the delay against the Government, and the honorable and learned member knows that that is so.
– The right honorable member left it to be inferred.
– It did not rest with any present member of the Government to make that reply. It ought to have come from outside the Cabinet. My right honorable friend endeavours here, as he endeavoured within the cabinet-
– The honorable and learned member should keep Cabinet matters out of the discussion.
– I thank the leader of the Opposition for so original a suggestion. The right honorable member for South Australia endeavours here, as in the Cabinet - he has told the House of this before - to erect into a question of principle the omission to deal with foreign seamen and seamen on oversea ships. As the Government have had occasion to point out time and again, the question was not whether we should deal with foreign seamen or oversea ships, but whether we should deal with them in this Bill or in the Bill which the Government have repeatedly pledged themselves to introduce at the commencement of next session. The difference is not one of principle. It is clear that it will be necessary to apply this Bill, as well as the terms of the Navigation Bill, to oversea shipping, including foreign ships. It was only a question of the time, as my right honorable friend well knows, at which it should be so applied. It is unfair to present to the House as a question of principle what is merely a question of time and of means. “We are told that the critical nature of the two provisions of the Bill to which attention has been called was sprung upon the House. ‘They were the only two provisions which, in introducing the measure, I explained at length, putting in the strongest form the objections which the Government entertained to any attempt to apply the Bill to public servants,.ind adina railway servants, and to seamen on oversea ships, largely for the reason that, in our opinion, such attempts must constitutionally fail. The opinions of the Government upon those provisions were expressed by me in unequivocal language, and although, as the leader of the Labour Party has said, it was indicated that clause 3 had been inserted in order to test the feeling of the House, it was indicated with equal plainness and emphasis that the Government took a decided view on both subjects, and was resolute in insisting upon its proposals in regard to them.
– I do not remember that anything was said in regard to the Public Service.
– Both matters were mentioned. The time now at my disposal under the standing order will not allow me to go fully into the subject, but I refer the honorable member to the report of my speech, in which I dealt with both the public servants and the seamen on oversea ships in the most absolute manner. The Government felt bound to put its position upon those questions before honorable members with all possible force. Last night I not only argued against the amendment three times, but pleaded with the Committee not to adopt it. I said again and again that I assumed that we had legal power to control the States, but that there were risks in accepting that view or undertaking the task. I pointed out that it was inconsistent, incongruous, and foreign to the nature and purposes of the Bill, and that if carried, would have the most serious consequences.
– The Government made the same statement with regard to the Judiciary Bill and the Go vernor -General’s Allowance Bill. .
– If the Judiciary Bill had not been passed, the Government would not have been in office to-day. The Government .decided before the Judiciary Bill was introduced, and our late colleague knows this, that the Government would rather resign than permit the Judiciary Bill, the Naval Defence Bill, or this Bill, to be altered in any material particular.. It was not desirable that we should crack the whip over our followers. It was only a chance incident which, when it had reached the Committee stage, drew from the Prime Minister a statement with reference to the Naval Defence Bill. The leader of the Opposition, who seeks to impart to us a measure of his own candour, pointedly omitted from the speech in which he accepted this Bill all reference to the two matters upon which the Government had announced their intention to challenge the views of honorable members. The measure as he supported it excluded the public servants and the oversea seamen, but he now declares that Bill to be a mere empty form because they were not included.
– We do not know what his views are on this point, because he has never stated them.
– The measure which he now states to be absolutely useless because those two classes of employes are not included within the scope of its operation was that which he distinctly approved without referring to either of them. It has been my privilege, though an unfortunate one, to be directly, associated with the measure. I should have preferred that my late colleague, who has made the subject his own, .arid whose draftmanship in all but a few particulars the Bill discovers, to remain in charge of it. He knows, as the House knows, that the members of the Government threw themselves with enthusiasm into the task of preparing and proposing the measure. I myself described it as one of the greatest and most hopeful experiments that could be made in legislation. Although much of the way we proposed to tread .was yet untrodden, and many of the examples we had to rely upon were of short date, i dwelt upon the essential excellence -of the aims of the measure, and stated that its substitution for the barbarous method of strikes of the higher method of a judicial tribunal for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes was an ideal for which we were prepared to make great sacrifices.
– The Government are now prepared to sacrifice the Bill.
– We are not sacrificing the Bill, but -only resisting attempts to strain it beyond its powers. If we remain in office it will be again presented to Parliament, side by side with the Navigation Bill, and the two measures will deal efficiently and constitutionally with the employment of seamen on oversea shipping. The difference which exists to-day, and which separated us from my right honorable friend, will then no longer exist.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral still say that foreign shipping cannot be dealt with in this Bill ?
– Tes, unless we include in it a small Navigation Bill. It can, however, be dealt with effectively in a Navigation Bill of six or eight clauses, and if that is done we shall have, not the mere pretence and name, but an enforceable reality of equality of wages, numbers, and treatment among all the seamen employed on our coast. I venture to say that the advantages to be derived by the seamen of Australia from the amendment of the right honorable and learned member for South Australia is wholly illusory, because the provision could not be enforced against the owners or masters of foreign ships. It would’ “ keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope.” On the other hand if we impose conditions upon foreign or other ships trading upon our coasts that will be enforceable within our jurisdiction, we can provide machinery by which we shall afford our own seaman the fullest protection, and, at the same time, occupy perfectly safe ground. The proposal of the right honorable member would throw the seamen upon the mercies of a Court, which, if it were created within the next month could not hope to exercise its powers in their behalf earlier that if a Navigation Bill were introduced next year. The problem with regard to oversea seamen will disappear next year. That is merely a temporary difficulty. The proposal submitted to the Committee last night, however, was of an entirely different order. The objection to that will remain next year in the same degree that it exists to-day. For the reasons I have already given, I see no objection to the States, of their own accord, remitting the decision of industrial disputes between themselves and their public servants to the Federal Arbitration Court. I see everything to recommend that course. But for this Parliament, even if in the exercise of undoubted powers - although that issue is surrounded with difficulty - to force its jurisdiction upon the States to intervene between them and their employes, and to affect the revenue and expenditure fixed by their people through their representatives, would be unfederal and unwise. However their inclusion may present itself to us in the future none can now predict, but it can at the present juncture take one shape only, namely, that of practically a declaration . of war against the States. It would create friction that we ought to avoid, lt would strew the
Federal path with obstacles of our own making, in addition to those which we must inevitably encounter. As to the sincerity of the Government in this matter there can be no possible question. Nothing lay nearer to my heart, or to the hearts of my colleagues, than the desire to be the first Ministers to frame a Bill for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes by an impartial tribunal, in place of the desperate method .of strikes. In order to accomplish that ideal we are ‘ willing to encounter obstacles both legal and constitutional, and to face innumerable industaial difficulties. All these things we are prepared to do. Whether we live as a Government or not, there will not be found in this House, or in the country, more whole-hearted or sincere supporters of any reasonable proposals for compulsory conciliation and arbitration than the members of the present Government.
– The Attorney-General has presumably put before this House and the country the best possible defence of the action of the Government. Stirred as he undoubtedly is with the importance of the occasion, his ready mind would hardly fail to find every available and legitimate argument which could be used from his own stand-point. And yet his case has proved weak indeed. The Prime Minister says that the position assumed by the Government is the necessary corollary of the action taken by the Committee last night. It might have been in other circumstances and with another Government. We remember, however, that this is only the second time in the history of the Government, although other measures equally important have been presented for our consideration, that they have ever dared to hint to this House that it would not be free to do what it pleased with the provisions of any Bill in Committee. In the case of the Naval Agreement Bill, the Prime Minister, after the Opposition had openly declared its readiness to support him, plucked up courage to openly announce his determination to stand or fall by the measure. We were told by the AttorneyGeneral that the matter upon which the right honorable and learned member for South Australia resigned his office was not one of principle, but of procedure. Now, for the first time, we learn that the amendment proposed last night, which the AttorneyGeneral regarded as of less importance than the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for South Australia, MrKingston, was a matter of principle. I fail to see why any such distinction should be made. In connexion with theJudiciary Bill, the number of Judges to be appointed, the extent of their jurisdiction, the amount of their salaries, their tenure of office, and their pensions, wereall matters of principle, but in all these things the Government bowed to thesweet will of -the Committee! Yet we are now . told that the Government propose tothrow out the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill because we have ventured to makean amendment. The Attorney-General told us in the plainest possible terms that thiswas not to be regarded as a party measure, and that the Committee were free to do with, it as they pleased. The honorable gentleman, argued the case at great length, but he was not as convincing as usual. I cannot helpthinking that the Government simply rodefor a fall last night, and got it. Nothing is. clearer to my mind, and I do not think anything could be clearer to any man’s mind,, than that the Government deliberately invited defeat so that they might have an opportunity, as the honorable and learned’, member for South Australia and the honorable member for Parramatta, have pointed out, to avoid the still greater troublethat loomed ahead. The position, so faras I am concerned, is rather a serious one. The party to which I belonghave given the Government cordial support in connexion with their programme, apart from protection. Now I. find myself’ at the end of the most barren session, through which it has been my lot to pass.. We have done nothing. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was to be at once thecrowning effort of our parliamentary existence, and the solatium for all our failures. The Attorney-General delivered a speech extending over twenty-six pages of Hansard, in which he declared the Bill to be the most important that it had been his lot to introduce,, and the most important that could possibly be introduced into any Parliament ; and yet the Government are prepared, without any kind of notice or hint to honorable members, to throw over the Bill. This crowning effort of civilization, this experiment which was intended to electrify the nations and bring about industrial peace henceforth and for ever, is to be thrust on oneside, because we desire to carry industrial peace into the realms where the State is the- employer and the public servants are the employes. The Government seem to be afraid of their own remedy of industrial peace. No hint was given that the clause amended last night was to be converted into a sword to cut the Gordian knot of the amendment to be proposed in a subsequent clause, but apparently the Government so designed it, or if they did not so design it they elected to so use it. We all admired the admirable speech of the Attorney -General when introducing the Bill, and appreciated the manner in which he must have ransacked the latest unabridged dictionary in order to enable him to lavish panegyric upon its principles. Now, however, he stands up and says that if the Government last through the next election and meet the next Parliament, they will again introduce the Bill. I would ask is the Bill to again meet with the same fate? Apparently it is to be accompanied by a Navigation Bill, and side by side these two bantlings are to come and go ; have we any assurance that they will not both meet the fate of the recent measure? In the Ministry, according to the Attorney-General, we have a band of enthusiasts with only one soul and only one mind. They have been moved by the most noble aspirations for industrial peace, and yet, because they receive a slap as light as the touch of -a lady’s hand upon their faces compared with the blows on the point of the jaw which theyhave suffered in connexion with other measures, down they go. Is the present situation the result of an accident, or is it due to a latent susceptibility of conscience that has only recently been exercised, or to a deliberate design on the part of the Government to avoid other dangers? I can have no further confidence in a Government which has played such a part. I can no longer place reliance in their promises in regard to their intentions respecting this measure next session. I desire very much to see the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill passed. I would have it, even though its benefits were not extended to the public servants of the States or to the seamen ; although, as I have said before, I will fight as hard as I know how to make provision for both these classes of workers. After calmly telling us that the Bill would not benefit the seamen, and that they do not want it to affect the public servants, it remains for the Government to say to whom it is to apply. They have been told that an industrial dispute looms in the future. The right honorable and learned member for South Australia declared that he resigned his position in the Ministry, because he knew that an industrial dispute was looming in the distance, and deemed it necessary to take steps to avert it. The Government know whether that is true or not. At any rate, they deemed it necessary to make the Bill an urgent matter, and now they are attributing the delay to the right honorable and learned member. The delay rests with the Government. It is idle for them to attempt to place upon the shoulders of theright honorable gentleman the responsibility which, by constitutional and parliamentary usage, must rest upon their own. They have us in a corner. With some honorable members the Electoral Divisions Bill is used as a means of securing support. With others the Capital Sites question is employed to secure reluctant compliance, and with others the Estimates and the Appropriation Bill are adopted as a means of persuasion. We are entangled hand and foot, and we cannot do more than sit idly down, and go through a miserable pretence to the end. For my part, I decline to be made a party to any travesty of legislation. For me the session is at an end. There are some things which remain to be done, and which the Government have taken good care should remain to be done. We are caught in the toils. To serve purposes of their own, they have suddenly agreed to regard as an important principle that which they formerly declared to be merely a matter of opinion. If that is the alternative to party government which they present to us by all means let us hear the crack of the whip. That at any rate will be open and above board. Of course a child can see the game that has been played. For my own part I have no sympathy with those who have played it, nor shall I have any regard for them in the future. I certainly do not think that they will do any better in a future Parliament than they have done in this. Upon this measure, the most important which has yet been promulgated in Australia to insure industrial peace, they have elected, merely for party purposes, to throw a unique opportunity to the winds, and to invite industrial confusion and war.
– As one who has adopted a different attitude’ from that of most honorable members who have spoken upon the Conciliation and
Arbitration Bill I wish to say a few words. My opposition to that measure was chiefly influenced by the fact that in my opinion it attempted to go beyond the limits of the Constitution, and to carry control by Federal authority into the industries of Australia to a degree which would not be beneficial either to employers or employed. But, whilst taking up that attitude, I have not sought in any way to obstruct the progress of the Bill. I was quite prepared to fight out in Committee the principles which were involved - -irrespective of whether or not I differed from the Government proposals. I was content to support them if I thought they were right, and to oppose them if I deemed them to be wrong. I am not one of those who think that upon an important amendment such as was submitted last night, the Government should refuse to accept responsibility. If ever there was a case in which they should accept full responsibility, it was in a matter of that sort. But, when the Ministry choose to take their proper share of responsibility in connexion with any proposal, it seems to me that they are bound in their own interests - and in the interests of those who support them - to fight for victory. Now, if their attitude last evening constituted a fight, it was the weakest fight that I have ever witnessed ‘in any Parliament. If the Ministry had not the whole of their supporters present - and the figures show that they had not - why did they not adjourn the debate till to-day so as to enable them to gather their forces together, and by that means secure a victory t
– There is such a thing as riding for a fall.
– As a member of the OpPoSitiOn who crossed the floor and supported the Ministry, I have some reason to complain - and so have Ministerial supporters - that, having recognised their responsibility in connexion with the proposal submitted, they did not bring all their forces into the’ field to resist the attempt which was made to alter an important provision of the Bill. Surely that devolved upon them. I say, further, that whilst the whip should not be cracked more than is necessary, it is only right when Ministers have determined to abandon any measure that they should at some stage give honorable members an opportunity to consider it in the light of full knowledge. We know that that course was adopted in connexion with the Judiciary
Bill. A whip was made upon that basis. It was freely stated that a Minister, if not the whole of the Ministry, would resign unless that Bill were carried. Why was an exception made in the present instance? Why was the weakest possible defence made last night ?
– I spoke upon three occasions last night, and was told by the Committee that I was occupying too much time.
– Will the honorablemember allow me to tell him what he said ? I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable and learned member. To avoid that I have applied for the official report of his speech, but I find that I cannot secure it to-day^ Substantially, the Attorney-General said that clause 3 was inserted in the Bill so that Parliament might have an opportunity toconsider it. Does that look as if it wereregarded as a vital matter ?
– But think of what I said afterwards.
– As I have previously remarked, I should have been very glad to have access to the official report of the Attorney-General’s speeches. At the conclusion of his remarks, I was astonished to find that the Ministry regarded the amendment as of such small importance.
– I hope the honorable member will read what I did say, and then I think he will be obliged to reconsider that statement.
– I can only say that I was surpised that the Attorney-General should have placed his views before the Committee as he did. It had the appearance of saying to Parliament - “ Well, this is our view. There it is for your consideration, and we will accept your decision in -the matter.” That is the impression which I gathered from his utterancesThere was no indication whatever - as there was when the Judiciary Bill was under consideration - that the measure would be abandoned if the proposal of the Government were defeated. There was an utter absence of that caution which, when responsibility was undertaken, should have marked the procedure of a Government, especially if it entertained any real desire to pass the clause as it appeared in the Bill. Was the statement not made, last night that honorable members were absent who would vote with the Government had they been present ? Was it not within the power of the Ministry, if they wished to secure a victory, to have adjourned the debate until their additional forces were available ? I do not attribute motives to the Government.
– Every stop was taken that could be taken. Every point which the honorable member has mentioned was considered.
– In the case of the Judiciary Bill honorable members were approached directly. But no action was taken by the Government to secure the extra support which it is alleged could have been obtained by delaying the division which was taken last night.
– It was not enough.
– I am inclined to differ from the Attorney-General. With the additional recruits which the Ministry could have secured with a general knowledge of the serious consequences which would arise from the adoption of the amendment, I think that they could have carried their proposal.
– The honorable member should ask the Government whip. He will tell him differently.
– I have seen a good many divisions in Parliament, and I have «een a good many whips. I acknowledge the efficiency of the Government whip ; but I never saw a weaker attempt to secure the passage of an item in a Government policy than was made last night. A member of -the Opposition is generally impelled to vote with his own party. A good deal of inducement requires to be forthcoming before he will cross the floor of the House and support the Ministry. Yet some members of the Opposition did that last night. I was one of them, and I have a right to complain that so little effort was put forth to secure the adoption of the principle which the Government favoured.
– The Government have been subjected to a very severe roasting this afternoon, not from members of the Opposition, but from their own ardent supporters. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, who for a prolonged period was a member of the Cabinet, and a source of strength to Ministers outside, has openly charged them with insincerity in this matter. The honorable member for Bland has also avowed his doubts as to their sincerity. Then the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has affirmed that he will not trust them in the future. Surely no additional condemnation is needed. The AttorneyGeneral has tried to excuse the Government and to secure a placard for the coming elections. He has, however, forgotten to tell the country the full effect of his second reading speech upon this Bill. He said that it was a Bill which was drawn for the future. Honorable members can now understand the prophetic meaning of his language in that connexion. He stated distinctly that clause 3 was inserted merely to test the opinion of the House. Yet he now declares that if it had not been carried, conflict would have been produced between the State and Federal authorities. Altogether the Bill has had an historical career. In the first place the Government lost the Minister who had charge of it. Had the right honorable member for South Australia remained in charge of it, probably the people of the Commonwealth would have had more faith in the sincerity of the Government. That appears to be the position. It seems to me that it was due to the fact that the Government knew that their late colleague could succeed in passing an effective measure that they adopted an attitude which led to his retirement from the Ministry. They contend now, that in refusing to proceed with the Bill .is amended, they are acting in accordance with the true ideals of responsible Government. They have not always taken up that position. When the Bill relating to the Governor-General’s salary was under consideration, they paid no regard to the duties of responsible Ministers. The Prime Minister allowed the honorable and and learned member for Northern Melbourne to practically take the Bill out of the hands of the Government, and permitted the Committee to amend it as they pleased. Are we to understand that the Ministry consider that the position of a GovernorGeneral is of more concern to the people of Australia than are questions which closely affect the welfare of every man and woman in the Commonwealth ? When dealing with the Bill relating to the GovernorGeneral’s salary, which applied to only one man, they never dreamt of setting up a high standard of Ministerial responsibility, and it is’ only now that they have become conscious of the duties of a Government.
The history of the Bill has been- “Bill introduced : Kingston out ; Bill laid aside ; public requests disregarded.” May I inquire what Ls the power behind the throne which has led to the present situation? There certainly must be some reason other than that which has been disclosed for the action of the Government. There must have been some power behind the Cabinet which led it to take up an attitude that compelled the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, to hand his resignation to the Prime Minister; and apparently the same power has moved the Government to abandon the measure. In many cases when a clause has been omitted from a Bill aginst the’ wish of the Government, they have not hesitated to move its reinsertion in the Senate. They apparently consider that such a course could not be adopted in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I strongly favour the amendment which was made last night, for T believe that if the Bill did not apply to Government employes and to oversea shipping, it would be nothing but a sham and a mockery. The right honorable member for South Australia has made a serious charge of insincerity against the Government, and it seems to me that it is unnecessary for honorable members of the Opposition to discuss the matter at further length. The only defence offered by the Attorney-General for the action of the Government is that they have adopted a high standard of Ministerial responsibility. When the Papua Bill was before the Committee some weeks ago, two very vital amendments were made against the will of the Government, but the Minister in charge of the measure did not think of announcing that he would proceed no further with it. It has appeared day after day on the notice-paper, and it was only this afternoon that we learned- that the Government did not propose to proceed with it. They have posted their placard to-day, but they have put it upside down ; and I am satisfied that the public will recognise that they are not serious in the matter. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was ruthlessly set aside pending the consideration of the Electoral Divisions Bill, the Government attaching far more importance to the position of some of their supporters than to the passing’ of this measure. The AttorneyGeneral has not answered the statement made by the honorable member for Bland, that in moving the second . reading of? the Bill he intimated that the clause in question was inserted only to test theopinion of the House in regard to it. It seems to me that the Government consider it better now to scuttle the ship than to allow it to be wrecked later on on the- “ oversea shipping” rock. In my opinion they were afraid that the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, would succeed in carrying hisamendment applying the provisions of the Bill to oversea shipping, and thought that it would be far better to drop the measure at this stage than to risk defeat at thehands of their late colleague. We are told that if the Government are in office next session they will again introduce the Bill :. but if it is not to apply to the public servants of Australia and to oversea shipping itwill be nothing but a mockery. I feel confident that the public will not support theaction of the Government in this matterEvidently some great power behind theCabinet which is absolutely opposed to theprinciple of conciliation and arbitration has impelled it to take this stand, and the samepower, in my opinion, was responsible forthe retirement of the right honorable and. learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, from the Ministry. I should not like to say that this power centres in theMinister for Home Affairs, but it is a significant fact that he is very much in evidence’ whenever the Bill is under discussion.- TheGovernment, for months and months, havereceived the support of the Labour Party because of their promise to deal with this question, .and. it seems to me that members, of that party must now go to the country as their opponents.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- Under theStanding Orders, I have but five minutes in which to reply, so that I can offer but a veryfew observations. I wish to say that, when I propose to challenge the position of the G Government. I shall give them fair notice. I havefrom the first announced my desire that the Government should go to the country, and that I should meet them there. We all know that their position at the presentmoment is not a very strong one ; but I donot wish to take advantage of this particular opportunity to expose the weakness of it. I am satisfied - especially in the presentstate of public business - to reserve my right to take the sense of the House at another time upon the action of the Ministry. L have a great objection to snatch votes, which carry with them a suspicion of want of -candour, and leave behind them an abiding irritation due to a feeling that the Government have been taken at a disadvantage. I shall not on this occasion call for any division. I have no desire to take a sudden vote upon this question. I wish merely to intimate that at a later opportunity I may find it my duty to take the sense of the House in regard to this matter. In reference to the apology which the Government have set up, I wish to say that it does not agree with the facts of their history. This Government have on more than one occasion descended to the depths of humiliation in their endeavour to escape defeat. On the present occasion they have shown a suspicious easiness in the presence of defeat on a matter which they took to be vital ‘ to this Bill, and that, coupled with their history in relation to the measure - coupled with the fact that it was introduced at a time when it was humanly impossible for it to have an honorable end - shows that the Government knew that they were approaching an election, and that they could not face the large vested interests of Australia, that they could not face the great body of opinion on which they have hitherto depended for their strength in the country districts, principally of Victoria, with the least suspicion of a connexion with the Labour Party. Having used the Labour Party for three years - and I admit that that party ‘has taken full advantage of the situation to use the Government - they see that, in view of the coming elections, the alliance is not a good political investment, and they are treating their old allies in a manner which is not only unnecessary, but shabby. I consider that from a public point of view, and quite apart from the political aspect or the party complexion of this matter, the action of the Government is only another evidence of their insincerity. They have now, at any rate, descended to a level at which their manifesto and their principles are entirely subordinate to the political exigencies of the situation. I hope that never in ray experience, as a possible Minister of the Commonwealth, shall I adopt a course that will compel an old and honorable colleague to denounce me as the Government were denounced this afternoon by the right honorable member for South Australia,’ Mr. Kingston.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as folio w : -
Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 4393), on motion by Sir George Turner -
That the first item on the Estimates (the Senate - £6,782) be agreed to.
– I do not wish to interfere with the progress of business, but I had not the remotest idea when I came into the Chamber to-day that the Budget would be the subject of debate, as no notice had been given of the intention of the Government to bring the matter forward. It is impossible for me to address the Committee without the papers which contain the results of my investigation into the Treasurer’s statements and returns, and I therefore claim from him the indulgence to be allowed to defer until to-morrow the observations which I desire to- make.
– There are other honorable members who are ready to speak.
– I do not desire to prevent others from speaking, but I wish to point out that without the delay for which I ask I shall be unable to address myself to -the subject now before the Committee, and I am sure that my right honorable friend docs not wish to prevent me from doing so.
– I think it is most unfair to go on with the Budget debate now, because hardly any honorable member present is ready to speak. We thought that this week, and a great part of next week, would be occupied in the discussion of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Owing to a treacherous act on the part of the Government, we cannot now proceed with that Bill.
– The honorable member must withdraw that expression.
– Call it a questionable act.
– In obedience to the parliamentary rule, I withdraw the expression. The action of the Government is certainly questionable. The Budget discussion was on a former occasion sandwiched between the consideration of other matters.
– And brought forward when it was unexpected by honorable members.
– The honorable member was thereby forced to deliver a speech when he was unprepared. I hope that the Treasurer will consent to postpone this discussion until Tuesday next.
– When the Budget was last under discussion, I told honorable members that I should have to takewhat opportunities I could get to have it dealt with, and I asked them to be good enough to be prepared to go on with it whenever it was called on. 1 have no wish to prevent discussion, because I am only too glad to hear the opinions of honorable members who have had experience in regard tofinancial matters, and from whom I may obtain advice which will be of advantage to the community. I am prepared, therefore, if honorable members will proceed with the discussion now, to consent to an adjournment of the debate at the dinner hour.
– It will takeme some little time to refresh my memory in regard to the provisions of the Naturalization Bill, but if honorable members will discuss until the dinner hour the motion now before the Committee, I shall be ready then to proceed with the second reading debate upon that measure.
– Does the right honorable member expect to deal with it thissession 1
– Yes, because it is- a very short measure, and I think I shall be able to propose amendments which will meet the wishes of honorable members.
– I wish to call attention to the series of propositions for choosing the Federal Capital site which the Prime Minister has put before honorable members.
– The Prime Minister to-day gave notice of a motion on that subject, therefore the honorable member cannot deal with it.
– There is no notice of the motion upon the business-paper.
– May I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that, in your official position, you can have no knowledge of what has transpired in the House, unless you are instructed in regard to certain facts. I would alsopoint out that there is no rule with which I am acquainted which prevents the discussion of any conceivable subject when the Budget is under consideration. Theconstruction of the Federal Capital will cause considerable expense, and, therefore, the matter to which the honorable member for Parramatta wishes to draw attention is directly involved in the Budget proposals. It would be a dangerous limitation of the rights of honorable members if there were any restriction in regard to the subjects to be discussed in a Committee such as this. If you rule, sir, that the honorable member for Parramatta will not be in order, it might be possible, merely by giving notice of motions dealing with the subject, to gag honorable members when a proposal for the expenditure of an immense sum, or for an increase of taxation, was involved in the Budget.
– I desire to point out, in the first place, that no expense is involved in the mere choosing of the capital site. The honorable member for Parramatta is bound by the unwritten rule of Parliament to hand to you, Mr. Chairman, the paper which he holds, and when he does so it will be seen that the motion in regard to which he wishes to speak involves no expenditure. He is also bound to say, if you ask him the question, that he heard notice given of my intention to move that motion. That being so, he is now asking a Committee of the Whole, which is subordinate to the House, to discuss a matter which it is intended to discuss in the House. If the rule were otherwise, it might happen that when a motion of the highest importance was down for discussion in the House, and perhaps had been adjourned, it could be discussed in Committee. I think that the honorable member’s desire to discuss this matter conflicts with the parliamentary rule that the discussion of a subject of which notice has been given shall not be anticipated, and that no subject shall be twice debated in the same session. I submit, therefore, that the course proposed is quite indefensible. So far as I am personally concerned I do not care to what extent the motion is discussed, so long as it is dealt with at a proper time. I wish to see it very fairly and fully debated, but at the same time I do not think that the various points for and against it can fairly be discussed in Committee of Supply.
– This is a matter of great importance. I submit that whatever rights honorable members may have to discuss questions falling within the purview of the Budget cannot be taken away by the action of any honorable member in the House. No action taken in the House can abridge the rights of discussion in Committee of Supply. The very object of the discussion upon the Budget is to enable honorable members to deal with all matters of public importance, and especially with grievances. That is the inalienable right of every honorable member. It might, perhaps, be open to argument whether we could take from the House the motion relating to the Federal Capital, and discuss it in- . connexion with the Budget. But that is altogether apart from the right of honorable members to discuss the question of the capital sites. Suppose that the motion had not been tabled by the Prime Minister, surely an honorable member would be perfectly free to discuss the question of the capital sites, because that is dealt with in the Estimates. If the notice of motion had not been given, clearly honorable members would have had the right to discuss the question, and such a right- could not be taken away by anything done in the House I am sure that you, Mr. Chairman, will not rule that because a notice of motion has been given with regard to any particular matter honorable members will be prevented from discussing that question during the debate upon the Budget. If that were so it would be open to honorable members, by tabling a series of notices of motion, to remove from the scope of the Budget discussion such a large number of important questions that there would really be little or nothing left to debate. I do not wish to press upon you anything which I do not regard as absolutely sound, and I am not prepared to say unhesitatingly that the right to which I refer exists, but I am inclined to think . that it does. I believe that in this Committee any matter within the scope of the Budget may be discussed. But I cannot say that there is no difficulty in deciding the question whether we could discuss the motion of which notice has been given in reference to the Federal Capital.
– The Standing Orders are very clear. Standing order No. 242 provides that -
The order of the day being read for the Committee of Supply, accounts and Estimates are re-ferred,and the House resolves itself into a Committee, and the Committee proceeds to consider the matters to it referred.
That is our position now. Another standing order bearing upon the same subject is No. 274, which provides that -
No member shall digress from the subject of an3’ matter under discussion; nor anticipate the discussion of any other subject which appears on the notice-paper.
I take it for granted that as a notice of motion has been given by the Prime Minister in the ordinary way, and handed to the clerk, I am justified in regarding the motion as practically appearing on the notice paper. It has been customary, by courtesy, to permit a general discussion to take place on the first item of the Estimates. But the discussion must ‘ be confined to the matters dealt with in the Estimates before the Committee. I cannot find any item in the Estimates under which honorable members would be enabled to discuss the motion relating to the selection of the Federal Capital site. Therefore, whilst I shall not apply the rules strictly to the extent of preventing any reference to the Federal Capital sites, if any attempt be made to deal in detail with the motion of which notice has been given, I shall be bound to rule it out of order.
– I should like to ask whether it is not competent to discuss the fact that no provision is made in the Estimates for a number of important pur- j poses.
– It is only by cour:tesy of the “House, and with the general concurrence of honorable members’, that 1 discussions can range beyond . the item immediately before the Committee. The question at present before the Committee is ‘ the first item of the Estimates. If I were to rule strictly, I should have to confine the discussion to that item. But I have no such desire. I shall allow discussion of any matter covered by the Estimates, and whilst I shall not object to references to the question of the Federal Capital sites, it would be out of order to anticipate the discussion upon any motion appearing an the notice-, paper.
– I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you will not rule that, strictly speaking, we are not entitled to discuss anything beyond the matter immediately before the Chair. I understood you to say that it was only with the general concurrence of members that the discussion could be permitted to travel beyond the subject immediately before us. But I submit that we are not indebted to the general concurrence of .honorable members for our liberty to discuss matters outside of the naked proposition before the Committee. The practice of Parliament has all the force of law, and no honorable member could possibly stifle discussion in connexion with the Budget. Some of the most important discussions that have ever taken place upon ‘ matters of public policy in the House of Commons have occured in connexion with votes for a paltry £50 to some officer. Just as the Treasurer is entitled to discuss matters of public finance in the widest possible manner, so have we the right to discuss such questions, not owing to the courtesy of honorable members, but owing to a right which has been recognised from time immemorial. During the discussion of the first item of the Estimates honorable members of the House of Commons have often expressed convictions which had outraged the feelings of the majority of their fellow-members, and it could scarcely be said that they were permitted to do so with the general concurrence of other honorable members. The rights of honorable members in this respect depend upon something far stronger than the mere forbearance of the House.
– It would be very convenient for the Chairman if he could be a law unto himself. But the Standing Orders are adopted by the House and are intended to guide the Chairman. I have never given a ruling which would have the effect of confining discussion upon the first item of the Estimates to the immediate subject before the Committee. At the same time, I cannot take any notice of any custom that may in the opinion of some honorable members be taken to have the effect of law. The law is represented by the Standing Orders, and when the Committee have expressed a desire that the Standing Orders should be departed from inorder that a certain latitude of discussion may be allowed, I have never disregarded their wishes, and I am not likely to do so.
– Although no doubt, Mr. Chairman, you are technically right so far as the matter now before the House is concerned, it has been the practice to deliver the Budget Speech in Committee, instead of in the House in order to permit of a wider range of discussion. It is true that, strictly speaking, the Chairman can only be guided by the Standing Orders ; but, at the same time, regard should be paid to the general understanding which has prevailed. I have always been of opinion that it would be better to have the discussion upon the Budget Statement in the House, and not in Committee. I think that, under the circumstances, and in view of the practice which has hitherto been followed we ‘should be at liberty to discuss almost anything upon the first item of the Estimates. If we are to be debarred! from, discussing matters, regarding which, notices of motion have been tabled the discussion of a subject might be burked by giving notice of a- motion which might never1 be- proceeded! with. I hope that the previous practice will be followed, and that the fullest liberty of discussion will be permitted.
– It is rather startling to hear that what we have regarded as. an established custom really has no existence in fact. I was under the impression; that we might roam at our own sweet will over the whole political field upon the question of granting supplies to’ the Crown. As the leader of the Opposition has said, the practice of Parliament in this regard has become crystallized into a law which is hundreds of years old, and I now hear for the first time that that is a mere chimera. If the Chairman’s view be correct it affords another reason why we should consider the advisability of adopting the new Standing Orders. I should like to know what has become- of them. I understand that the Speaker and the Standing Orders Committee have been considering them for nearly three years, and yet they seem no nearer completion than at the outset. In that respect the other Chamber has set us an example which we might with advantage emulate. At the same time, this House cannot be blamed, because no opportunity has- been afforded it to discuss the Standing Orders. I understand that those orders are concealed somewhere in the vaults of the building. However, I chiefly rose to call attention to the inadequate nature- of the provision which has been made by the Government in reference to the selection of the Federal Capital site. Altogether, the treatment of this important question by the Ministry is deserving of the most serious condemnation. “We are now approaching the close of the first Parliament of the Com- monwealth, and yet no steps have been taken by either House to effectively deal with that question. In the GovernorGeneral’s opening speech we were assured that the proposals relating to its settlement would be submitted at an early date. Yet at the ‘ end of the second session of this- Parliament with the shadow of a dissolution upon us, we have not even debated it. I should like to- ascertain from’ the Prim© Minister whether the resolutions of which he has given notice cannot be discussed before the expiration- of another1 fortnight 1 The Government have been incubating those proposals for three1 weeks, and yet they are not to be considered’ until a fortnight later. Thus, five weeks will1 elapse between the time when the Prime Minister began t© draft those resolutions and the period: when they will be discussed.. The more one looks at the question the more one is impressed by the strange want of energy which the Government are bestowing upon it. It is only when we have nothing else to- do that they will give- the slightest attention to it. Having dropped the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill1, cannot the Government proceed with the- selection- of the capital site without any further delay?
– I must get my Budget through.
– Whilst the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before the Chamber, not a single word was heard about the need for hurry in connexion with the Budget. But now that that measure has been cast aside, we are told that the Budget is terribly urgent. I submit that its consideration can very well be delayed’ till after the selection of the capital site-. I am really very anxious about that matter, because I foresee the possibility that it may not be considered by this Parliament. There is absolutely no excuse for the delay which is taking place. Had the slightest energy been infused into the question, it would have been settled long ago. Whilst this dilatoriness is being exhibited by the Government, there is in “Victoria a steadily-increasing opposition to its settlement. The whole of the Commonwealth is being deluged by pamphlets from the people of Maffra. The conduct of the Government in regard to the resolutions of which notice was given to-day has not been what it ought to be. Ministers now propose to free- themselves of all responsibility in regard to- the selection of the site1. They intend to surrender the whole subject into the hands of Mr. President and Mr. Speaker. One cannot help thinking that they might have consulted Mr: President and Mr. Speaker long ago, and have formulated some plan for dealing with the matter. But after the site has been selected-, what is to happen 1 It seems to me that we then approach the vitally-important part of the question. If we simply select a site in New South Wales, we shall have a very empty bargain upon which to go to the country. What we require is some assurance that the erection of the necessary buildings will be proceeded with without delay. I hold that this Parliament should, as speedily as possible, secure a home of its own. The only provision which has been made upon the Estimates in connexion with this matter is represented by the trumpery sum of £1,500.
– That is a continuation of the vote which has appeared upon the Estimates each year previously.
– Not a penny has been provided for the erection of necessary public buildings. That is my complaint. I maintain that a substantial sum should be placed upon the Estimates, so that when a site has been selected, building operations may be proceeded with. Otherwise we shall forfeit our right to deal with these financial matters for another year. The Prime Minister has already told the people that he contemplates spending 500,000 upon the capital within the next ten years.
– I said that that expenditure would suffice for ten years.
– Then the right honorable gentleman contemplates spending the money much earlier than that. Under the circumstances I think that he should make a statement to the House as to the source from which he proposes to obtain the necessary ways and ‘ means. Does he contemplate raising the sum required for the erection of buildings from loans, or from the ordinary revenue of the country? What scheme has he in contemplation ? If he lias any definite proposal, why is not some statement made regarding it ? Why is the question of cost not associated with the Bill for the selection of a site ? That would provide a guarantee that we meant business, and were not content merely to select a site. The declaration of the Prime Minister, coupled with the statements which are made from time to time by’ the Attorney-General and others when they assure the electors .that no proposal involving a great expenditure is contemplated, compels one to wonder what the proposals of the Government really are. To merely select the site, without erecting a local habitation upon it, would be a barren proceeding. I protest against the needless delay which is taking place.
– The honorable member is making the delay longer.
– If the Prime Minister will make some definite statement upon the matter, I shall be glad to resume my seat at this moment.
– Am I to understand, sir, by the ruling which you have recently _ given, that if an honorable member discovers a mistake upon the Estimates he is not at liberty to point it out ?
– The honorable member is under an entire misapprehension. I gave no such ruling. My ruling was that, by the courtesy of the Committee, it was competent for any honorable member upon this item to discuss anything which is contained in the Estimates.
– In going through the yearly statement submitted by the Treasurer, I find several items which I cannot regard as accurate, because they do not agree with other statements in the Budget. For instance, in table 16, the Treasurer shows that he has effected a saving upon expenditure as compared with the Estimates which were submitted last year of £350,147. In table 1, he states that he has received revenue in excess of the Estimates to the amount of £535,774. Adding these two amounts together we have a surplus over last year’s estimate of £885,921. If these figures be correct one would naturally conclude that the States received that sum in excess of the amount which it was estimated would be returned to them last year. But such was not the case. Turing to last year’s Estimates we find that the amount which the Treasurer estimated to return to the States was £7,501,787 ; but in closing the year’s accounts we actually paid over to them £8,200,457, an excess of £698,670.
– From what page of the Budget papers is the honorable member quoting?
– I am quoting from Table 55 which sets forth the payments made to the States.’ The difference between these two amounts is £187,251. I, as a member of this House, desire to know what . ( has become of the money which that “ i difference represents, because the balance in the Treasury when accounts were closed was only £5,738. We have either dealt unjustly with the States, and returned them less than should be handed over to them, or the statements submitted by the Treasurer are inaccurate. If I might be allowed to refer to the Hansard report of the Treasurer’s financial statement, I would point out that at page 2631 it is set forth that the estimated expenditure amounts to £4,251,906. In checking these figures, I have discovered another remarkable fact. In several of the financial statements, which were circulated by the right honorable gentleman in connexion with last year’s Budget, it was set forth that the total expenditure was estimated at £3,924,764.
– This includes the expenditure on works and buildings, onaccount of special appropriations, and also the sugar rebate which was not included before.
– I assure the Committee that those figures comprise every penny of “other expenditure but as a matter of fact they do not include the arrears. We find that in one paper the estimated expenditure was stated to be £3,924,764, and in another that it was given as £4,007,967, while in the last financial statement made by the Treasurer it was said to be £4,251,906. These various estimates cannot all be right.
– They are not on the same basis. One set of figures relates to the actual expenditure during the year, and the other represents what would be the cost for the year if everything, including arrears, were paid.
– I do not think that the right honorable gentleman knows what is the correct amount. The Only figures which we can accept are those set forth in the estimate which is given in the Consolidated Revenue Account, namely, £4,007,967. Deducting the actual expenditure, namely £3,901,759, which is perfectly correct, we find that the unexpended balance is not £350,000, but £106,208.
– I had the £350,000 wherever1 it came from.
– I think the Treasurer will find when he looks into the matter that he has quoted a wrong statement, because it falsifies several other sets of figures. We find that the Treasurer estimated to receive £11,510,104, and that the revenue actually collected was £12,105,876, showing a net surplus of £595,774.
– No, £535,000.
– The amount is £595,774. If we add the £106,208, representing the saving of expenditure, and the £595,774, representing the excess of revenue over estimates, we have a total of £701,982.
– But where does the honorable member obtain his figures as to the excess of revenue over estimates, which he declares to be £595,774!
– The Treasurer has included, in his estimate the sum of £60,000, which ought not to appear in it. The amount which he estimated to receive was £11,510,104, but he has brought the amount forward to the extent of £60,000 in excess of what it ought to be.
– But the £60,000 is taken into account in regard to the actual receipts. If the honorable member deducts that amount from one item he must deduct it from the other, and the balance must thus be exactly the same.
– The honorable member has dealt with that item of £60,000 in so many different ways that I do not think the Department knows where it is.
– It is in the pockets of the sugar-growers.
– Unless we grant that a mistake has been made in the figures, these accounts cannot be made to agree. The saving in expenditure amounts to £106,208, and the excess of revenue over estimates to £595,774, making a total of £701,982. If we deduct the amount retained by the Treasurer out of this year’s revenue, namely, £3,312, which represents the difference between the balance of £2,426 with which the year commenced, and the sum of £5,738, we have a sum of £698,670 or the exact amount of revenue paid to the States in excess of the Treasurer’s estimate. When we find inaccuracies of this kind appearing in the Budget papers, what are we to do 1 If the Treasurer turns to page 2631 of Hansard, he will see that the details of the amounts provided, and the amounts expended, are set forth opposite the name of each State. The amounts mentioned were not “provided,” but were actually paid. I do not blame the Treasurer for these inaccuracies, but the responsibility rests with his staff.
– No ; I am responsible for any errors. I have checked every figure in the Budget statement, and I accept the whole responsibility for them.
– The only item which is of any value in the accounts must agree with table 55 in the Budget papers. If it does not, that table must be altogether wrong. My objection to the Budget is that while a great deal of attention is paid to the work of elaborating mere calculations or statistics, which are of no real value to the House, the really important figures of the balance-sheet are not verified. Thus this mistake has arisen. If the Treasurer compares table 36 in last year’s Budget papers with table 55 in the Budget papers for the current year, he will find that my statement is absolutely correct. Attempts to reconcile the difference by means of geometrical signs are absolutely ridiculous. I have no desire to take up the time of the Committee by discussing the items in detail. I think it is extremely important that our accounts should be so framed that every one will be able to understand them. The explanation in regard to the varying figures given as to the estimated expenditure is that one set fails to include “other expenditure,” while both items omit the arrears. When the Treasurer, in the course of his speech, mentioned the savings in expenditure which he had effected, I made a note of his figures, and resolved to ascertain whether the States had received all this surplus revenue. I have reconciled the varying statements which have been submitted to us, but it is impossible to do so unless we admit that a mistake has been made in the figures. JJ a mistake has been made in relation to these two items, I think that some apology should be offered to the Committee.
– I guarantee the correctness of the statements submitted by me.
– There is only one other point to which I desire to allude. The ‘ position of the Postmaster-General’s account is extremely satisfactory, for much doubt was expressed as to what would be the result of the alterations made by the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill. As compared with the returns for the previous years, the receipts from the sale of stamps show an- increase of £55,969. The shortage on private bags amounted to £612 ; on commission, money orders, £5,903 ; and miscellaneous, £17,665, making a total shortage of £2.4,180. That leaves a net surplus as compared with the return for the previous year of £31,789. The position is, therefore, exceedingly hopeful. The reduced telegraphic rates had been in force for notless than eight months prior to the close of the financial year, and if they had operated injuriously they must have seriously affected the revenue. I consider that the Treasurershould require the, use of special stamps for telegrams
– I am getting the Department to keep a separate account of the telegraphic receipts.
– That should bedone, otherwise the Post-office will becredited with receipts which have really been derived from the transmission of telegramsProgress reported.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definition).
– Thereappear to be some omissions from the Bill. For instance, the English Naturalization Act of 1870 makes provision for the renunciation of nationality by foreigners who become naturalized under it, and similarprovision foi* the renunciation of British nationality by British persons who becomenaturalized abroad. I suppose that thereason for the omissions is that the English Act applies here. Although it is not expressly declared to be applicable, the wordsused in it are “ British Dominions.” If itdoes not apply, I think that a provision’ should be inserted to make good the omissions to which I have referred.
– The English Naturalization Act of 1870 is, with the exception of certain provisions which are obviously intended to apply to the Empire generally, restricted in its applicatian to the United Kingdom. The exceptions are section 16, which deals with the “power of Colonies to legislate in respect to naturalization,” section 3 and the second part of section 6, which relate to the declaration of alienage, and the method in which it is made in the Colonies, and section 8 which provides for the jurisdiction of Governors to readmit statutory aliens. In my opinion the remaining provisions of the Act do not applyhere. Doubt arose as to whether the provisions of the earlier Act, 7 and 8 Victoria cap.. 66, extended, to the Queen’s possessions abroad, and it was declared, by section 3 of the Act, 10 and. 11
Vic, cap. 83, that it was not intended to apply to possessions abroad. Both Acts were repealed by the Act of 1870, section 7 of which restricts the application of the measure to the United Kingdom, except in regard to the provisions to which I have referred.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
A person who has obtained in a State or in a colony which has become a State, a certificate of naturalization or letters of naturalization shall be deemed to be naturalized.
– This clause, which was inserted after the Bill was introduced into the Senate, provides that all persons already naturalized in a State or in a colony which has become a State shall be deemed to be naturalized in the Commonwealth. The intention of the Government was to give discretion in the matter to the Governor - General in Council, which, of course, meant the Minister charged with the administration of the Act. It was not intended that there should be a refusal to allow Commonwealth naturalization in ordinary cases where persons had been naturalized in a State, but we thought it. proper to provide for the exercise of discretion in regard to certain classes of persons who have been naturalized in the States, and who might apply to be naturalized in the Commonwealth. The Senate, however, were of opinion that all persons, whether white or coloured aliens, who have been naturalized in a State, or in a Colony which may hereafter become a State, should be deemed to be naturalized in the Commonwealth. In the next clause, which determines what persons may apply for certificates of naturalization, they inserted the limitation - not being an aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific, excepting New Zealand - in order to exclude coloured persons. In that matter, again, the Government thought it better to allow for the exercise of discretion by the Minister in accordance with the -well understood policy of the Commonwealth. For my own part, I doubt if the change is an . improvement. No doubt, all persons naturalized in the States, except those belonging to the classes specifically mentioned in clause 5, would have been allowed to become naturalized under the Commonwealth ; but the Government wished to leave some discretion to the Ministers responsible to Parliament for the proper administration of the measure. “While there may be something to be said for clause 4, I am not sure that it is an advantage to specifically draw the colour-line, as it has been drawn by the amendment of the Senate in clause 5.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I understand that the clause is meant to apply to those who, before the passing of the measure, obtained a certificate or letters of naturalization from a State or in a Colony which has become a State. The Act is to commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation. Is it clear that persons who become naturalized in a State between the passing of the measure and the date upon which it commences, acquire Commonwealth naturalization ? I observe that the words “ certificate of naturalization “ are used. A certificate of naturalization is defined under clause 3 to be a “ certificate of naturalization granted under this Act,” unless the contrary appears. If the policy embodied in the clause is to be adhered to, it would be as well to insert after the word “has” the words “ before the passing of this Act.” It would be better to have the matter plainly set forth. It seems strange that all persons, coloured or not coloured, should be entitled to become naturalized citizens of the Commonwealth. I should like to have some information as to the number of coloured persons who’ have been granted certificates of naturalization. I believe that very few certificates have been issued in Victoria. But I do not know whether that would apply to the other States. Perhaps the Prime Minister could afford us some information as to the number of persons who would be affected, and, if necessary, allow the clause to be recommitted.
– I undertake that if any facts of an alarming nature are disclosed I shall bring them before the Committee.
– I do not think that we should incur any very great danger in passing the clause. So far as the Northern Territory is concerned, it has been the practice to refuse letters of naturalization to Chinamen, and I do not think we need apprehend any trouble on that score.
Amendment (by Mr. Higgins) agreed to -
That after the word “has,” line 1, the words “ before the passing of this Act” be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
A person resident in the Commonwealth, nob being a British subject, and not being an aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific, excepting New Zealand, who intends to settle in the Commonwealth, and who -
– I think we may as well consider whether we should adopt the step ‘ taken elsewhere, to insert a specific colour line in the Bill. I know that some honorable members entertain very strong views upon this subject, but I suggest that perhaps it would be better to carry out our object in such a way as not to cause any embarrassment to the Imperial Government. My opinion is that, in view of the control exercised by Parliament, the Minister administering the Act would not be likely to admit objectionable persons to the citizenship of the Commonwealth, and that we might safely leave the discretion in his hands. We should thereby avoid the necessity for inserting a provision which might cause friction.
– Would this Bill be reserved for His Majesty’s assent if the clause were passed in its present form?
– I take it that the Governor- General would not reserve any Acts which would not, in some sense or other, involve embarrassment in the internal or external relations of the Empire. The direct exclusion from the right of naturalization of persons belonging to India, or of the subjects of an Empire with which Great Britain has entered into an alliance, might result in the Bill being reserved for His Majesty’s assent.
– But the clause expressly omits British subjects from the exclusion.
– Yes ; British subjects would not come directly under this clause, but a subject of Japan - an Empire with which Great Britain has entered into an alliance - would be affected by it, and the natives of the independent States of India which are not under the Empire would also be involved. It is for honorable members to consider whether we should adopt a course which may result in hanging up this legislation for a time, or effect our object in some other way. The 16th section of the Imperial Naturalization Act of 1870 reads as follows : -
All laws, statutes, and ordinances which may be duly made by the Legislature of any British possession for imparting to any person the privileges, or any of the privileges, of naturalization, to be enjoyed by such person within the limits of such possession, shall within such limits have the authority of law, but shall be subject to be confirmed or disallowed by Her Majesty in the same manner and subject to thesame rales in and subject to which Her Majesty has power to confirm or disallow any other laws, statutes, or ordinances in that possession.
That is only the ordinary power of reservation, but I think that, under all the circumstances, it would be better to leave matters to the discretion of the Minister under the control of both Houses. I therefore move -
That the words “ and not being: an aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific excepting New Zealand “ be omitted.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).Does not the Prime Minister think it preferable in a matter of this kind to lay down a general rule, rather than to depend upon a. practice which may vary with the whim of each succeeding Minister. I believe that if we laid down the general principle embodied in the Bill as it stands, it would prove more acceptable. I desire to limit as far as possible the opportunities for admission to Australian citizenship, and I think that that object can be best achieved by laying down a distinct rule.
– I understand that the Prime Minister’s idea is that the matter of the admission of Asiatics to the citizenship of the Commonwealth should be left in the hands of the Executive.Coghlan, in his Seven Colonies of Australasia, says that the States Governments are refusing to grant certificates of naturalization to Asiatics. In looking through the statistics for 1902 for Queensland I find that, during that year, 337 aliens were admitted to naturalization, of whom 153 were Germans. Of course these persons would become immediately entitled to citizenship of the Commonwealth under the Bill now before us. It appears further that twenty-one Chinese were also admitted, notwithstanding the supposed rule that Asiatics should not be admitted to naturalization. I think, therefore, that it would be preferable to lay down a’ distinct policy in the Bill as regards Asiatics. We have Federal legislation on this subject already. The Act of the .Federal Council was passed to enable persons who were naturalized in Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland to have reciprocal rights. It may be remembered that a decision was given, under which land taken up in New South Wales by a person who was naturalized in Victoria, became escheated to the Crown because he happened to be an alien. The late Hon. T. J. Bryne, Premier of Queensland, brought the matter of naturalization before the Federal Council in 1S97, and an Act was passed which provided that a certificate of naturalization issued only to persons of European descent in one State, should, under certain conditions, admit them to citizenship in other States. That was a distinct declaration of the Australian policy that the advantages of Australian citizenship should be conferred only upon persons of European blood.
– Is that the Queensland law t
Mr.L. E. GROOM. - No; I am speaking of the provision which finds a place in the Act of the Federal Council applicable to Victoria and Queensland. It was the first Federal declaration which we had upon the subject. The Prime Minister has intimated that if the Committee’ adopted a certain line of policy it might possibly result in the Bill being reserved for the Royal Assent. I do not think that we need apprehend any very serious danger of that. Probably the right honorable gentleman will recollect that the Parliament of New South Wales has expressly declined to admit Chinese to naturalization. It has thus excluded them directly from the exercise of the franchise, so that it is utterly impossible for them to become full-fledged citizens. Regarding the other portion of the Bill, I think it is only just that those persons of European descent who have been naturalized in a State shall be deemed to be naturalized for the Commonwealth, and as such shall be admitted to citizenship. There we have large numbers of Germans who have been naturalized under the original Bill. The moment these excellent citizens crossed the border of New South Wales they became aliens. To show how important it is, I may mention that last year alone 153 Germans and over 60 Danes were naturalized in Queensland. _ The Bill in its present form does away with the strong complaint justly made against it in Queensland.
– I attach great weight to the remarks of the PrimeMinister, and I think that in the majority of cases we might safely leave this matter tothe administration of the Government of the day, subject to the control of Parliament. At the same time, the other Chamber has. expressed a strong opinion upon the matter, and there is just one consideration which I desire to put to the Prime Minister. Arewe not, to a large extent, relieved of thedanger of giving offence to any Power with which we may be in treaty t If this Bill were intended to limit the right of entry into Australia - as does the Immigration Restriction Act - I think we should be very guarded in our expressions of intention. This Bill, however, does not do that. It merely provides an avenue by which persons may leave the country of their origin and cease to becitizens of that country. In the act of detaching themselves from anotherpower they will become citizens of of the Commonwealth. I scarcely think that we shall incur very much risk of offending a foreign Power by refusing to offer full opportunity to its citizens to detach themselves from it. Probably that was the consideration which led to the introduction of similar words in the Act of the FederalCouncil.
– Is the honorable and learnedmember sure that under the Bill in its present form an Afghan or Japanese could be naturalized?
– Under this Bill an Afghan or a Japanese could not be naturalized, because he would be an aboriginal native of Asia.
– Where, then, is the inducement of which the honorable and learnedmember spoke 1
– The inducement would be provided by the omission of the words proposed. That course of action would offer facilities to members of foreign nations tolink themselves with our citizenship. No nation could complain of our action if we said to its citizens, “Remain members of your own nation.” That is a consideration’ which I offer to the Prime Minister.
– I think there is a great deal of force in the distinction which has been drawn, by thehonorable and learned member for Indi. I cannot imagine that any such serious complication could arise, because of the terms upon which we admit to our nationality, as might arise because of the conditions of admission to our shores. That being so, I think that we might arrive at 4i settlement of this matter by adopting the language used in the Act of the Federal Council. It would conform to the view which has been expressed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, if my amendment were carried, so as to create a blank, and if the words “ not being of European descent “ were then inserted.
– How far back would that provision extend ?
– I do not think there is any disposition to contend that an American is not of European descent. It is not likely, therefore, that confusion will arise with respect to any other person. If European descent had to be traced out to the uttermost limits of ancestry, it might be found that a great many people were not of European descent.
– I am rather enamoured of the Prime Minister’s own words, “ an aboriginal native.”
– It cannot be denied that the words “ not being of European descent “ would operate somewhat more stringently in respect of the races which would be excluded than would the original words. However, I take no exception to that, because my objection to the words which have been inserted by the Senate is. based upon the effect which they are likely to have upon the harmony of our relationships.
– I really cannot imagine that much harm will be done by the omission of these words. Clause 8 of the Bill provides that a person who is naturalized shall be entitled to all political rights and privileges to which a natural born British subject is entitled. Paragraph 2 of section 4 of the Franchise Act states that no aboriginal native of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific, except New Zealand, shall be entitled to have his name placed upon the Electoral Roll unless he is so entitled under section 41 of the Con- stitution. In other words, if he has acquired the right under a State Act it cannot be taken away from him. Moreover there is not much chance of any alien entering this House unless he renounced his double allegiance. For example, if a Japanese obtained letters of naturalization in Australia he might retain his nationality as a Japanese, but he would have to renounce his nationality before he would be qualified to sit in this Parliament. However, that is purely a subsidiary matter. If we were dealing with the right of these persons to sit in Parliament, we have already barred that right under the terms of the Franchise Act.
– I think that although de jure the honorable and learned member for South Australia may be correct in his assertion as to the existing rights of naturalized subjects, de facto he is wrong. A short time ago a man resident in my electorate complained to me that, although he had taken out letters of naturalization in Queensland and had subsequently secured employment in the railway service of New South Wales, he had been told by the Railway Commissioners that he would have to cease work because he was not a naturalized British subject. In that respect, therefore, he certainly suffered some disability. I informed the man that he would have to wait for the passing of this measure, which, I felt sure, would recognise the naturalization papers which he had obtained under the Queensland law, and that under this Bill he would be enrolled as a naturalized subject of the Commonwealth. With regard to the point more immediately under discussion, I desire to say that I favour the Prime Minister’s proposal to omit the words mentioned by him, but that I fail to see any reason for inserting any other words. I was a strong advocate of the measure designed to prevent the immigration of this class of people into the Commonwealth, but I consider that in our own interests, as well as in the interests of those who have been admitted into the Commonwealth and have qualified themselves in other respects, as provided for by subsequent clauses in this Bill, no obstacle should be placed in the way of their naturalization under the Federal law. Once having admitted them to the Commonwealth, it would be unjust to place any embargo upon them.
– This provision applies chiefly to the future.
– But there are many of these people in the Commonwealth, and from day to day they will be applying for naturalization under this law. Notwithstanding what has been said by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs as to the number of people who are being naturalized, I feel confident that in New South Wales many applications for naturalization papers have been refused, chiefly on the ground that the Commonwealth Parliament are dealing with this subject, and that in the meantime the State Government think it unnecessary to issue any certificates. Many of these people are reputable citizens permanently established here, and it would be a gross injustice to refuse the privileges which they seek.
– This Bill will not take away their privileges.
– I fear that if these words are allowed to remain they will prevent many people from applying for naturalization papers. Under clause 7 the Governor-General may for good reason withhold a certificate of naturalization, and that appears to me to be a sufficient protection against the naturalization of an undesirable person. It would be grossly unjust on the ground of their nationality to refuse letters of naturalization to fit persons whom we have .already admitted into the Commonwealth, notwithstanding that we may have declined to al low -any other people of like nationality to enter Australia.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I trust that the Prime Minister will reconsider his proposal to omit the words relating to aboriginals. As the clause stands we except clearly specified classes whom we desire to except, but if we say that any person who is of “European descent” may apply for a certificate of naturalization, a number of difficulties may arise. ‘ There are some, very excellent members of this House who cannot claim to be of European descent. I have been asked whether a Turk - and a Turk is hardly likely to come here - is of European descent, and it seems to me that he is essentially an Asiatic. In the circumstances I think it would be safer to allow these words to stand. Under clause 8, unless there be a specific Act of Parliament limiting the rights of voting, and the rights of naturalized subjects-
– I have been discussing that matter with the honorable and learned member for Indi, and we think the clause might be advantageously amended so as to preserve the application of States laws.
– I am particularly anxious that obscure words as to persons of European descent shall not be substituted for the very clear words in the clause referring to aboriginal natives.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
– As the Bill was introduced in another place, it was provided in paragraph 6, sub-clause 1 of clause- 6, that an applicant, in addition to his own statutory declaration, should produce in support of his application -
A certificate signed by a Justice of the Peacethat the applicant is known to him, and is to thebest of his knowledge and belief a person of good repute.
The words “ to the best of his knowledgeand belief “ were omitted by the -Senate. I do not think that much need be said on that amendment ; but I desire to draw attention to a further amendment, made’ by another place, providing that the certificate should be signed by a justice of the peace - or by three electors, whose addresses are stated on the certificate, that the applicant is known tohim or them, and is a person of good repute.
I am not quite sure whether, in all the circumstances, a question of this kind should practically be determined, so far as the quantum of evidence is concerned, by a certificate signed by any three electors.
– They might bethree burglars.
– They might at least be three worthless persons. It requires no stretch of imagination to suggest that a person who doubted his competency to obtain a certificate of naturalization with the assistance of reputable citizens, might apply to persons whom he knew to be disreputable to aid him to secure it. I think the Committee will agree with me that, as the clause stands, it ia rather lax.
– Ha-s not the applicant tomake a statutory declaration ? And can he not be punished if that declaration is untrue?
– It is often very difficult to trace and punish those who make false declarations. I would point out also that the declaration required under thisclause relates merely to the name, age, birthplace, occupation, and residence of the applicant, the length of his residence in Australia, and his intention to settle in the Commonwealth. The question involved in paragraph b is whether the applicant is of good repute, and that question ought not to be settled by the certificate of any three persons whom the applicant might chance to meet. The paragraph originally provided that the certificate should be signed by a justice of the peace. If any other authority is to give a certificate of character, I think it should be some one else occupying an official position ; or, if we allow any number of electors to act, -we should require them to make statutory declarations.
– Would not that increase the expense 1
– The . fee of 10s. originally provided for has been abolished, and it is almost inconceivable that an applicant would not be able to pay one shilling each for the two or three declarations required to be furnished by him. The whole Bill is so very liberal that I do not think objection could be made to such a requirement.
– It appears that the provision as to the certificate being signed by three electors was inserted in order to meet the case of persons living in districts in which the services of a justice of the peace are not available. If we required the three electors to make a statutory declaration, that declaration would have to be made before a justice.
– I admit that the position is difficult, but I should like to see the paragraph amended, so as to render it impossible for an undesirable person to get three other equally undesirable persons to certify as to a repute which may be nonexistent. We might provide that the certificate shall be signed by a justice of the peace. A justice would require no fee, and without seeking to disparage the Commission of the Peace, I may say that we are -fill aware that there are a large number of justices to be found in the Commonwealth. If we returned it to the form in which it originally stood we might do more justice to those reputable persons who require certificates by protecting them from the company of those who do not deserve them.
– I am sorry to disagree with the Prime Minister in regard to this question, but his remarks were based on the assumption that there are so many justices of the peace in all parts of the Commonwealth that a foreigner who desires to be naturalized would have no difficulty in obtaining a certificate from one who was ‘acquainted with him. Among a shifting population such as we find on the gold-fields of Western Australia-
– How would it do to provide that the certificate shall be signed by a postmaster ?
– I was going to suggest that we amend the clause so as to provide that the certificate shall be signed by a justice of the peace, a teacher of a public school, an official postmaster, or an officer of police.
– If my honorable friendly will move accordingly, I will accept his proposal.
– I would rather not take the responsibility of moving such an amendment, because I am satisfied with the clause as it stands. If the right honorable gentleman moves it, I feel assured that no objection will be offered.
Amendments -(by Sir Edmund Barton) agreed to-
That after the word “Peace” line 5, the words “ a postmaster, a teacher of a State school, oran officer of police “be inserted.”
That the words “or by three electors whose addresses are stated on the certificate,” lines Sand 6, and “or them “ line 7, be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 (Governor-General may grant or withhold certificate).
– May not a difficulty, similar to that just dealt with, arise under this clause in regard to the oath or affirmation of allegiance which has to be certified to by a Justice of the High Court, Judge of a State Court, police, stipendiary, or special magistrate? The honorable member for Coolgardie has pointed out that even justices of the peace, whom we thought are everywhere -
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks In Vallombrosa, are very difficult to find in some parts of the Commonwealth.
– In this case the difficulty is not so great, because, ordinarily speaking, the applicant will apply in person to obtain his letters of naturalization, and, in doing so, must come to some place where he can at least find a police, stipendiary, or special magistrate. I think that it would be to relax due precautions too much to make any alteration in the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Subject to any laws for the time being in force relating to the qualification of Members of the Parliament and of electors of Members of the Parliament, a person to whom a certificate of naturalization is granted shall in the Commonwealth be entitled to all political and other rights, powers, and privileges, and be subject to all obligations to which a natural-born British subject is entitled or subject in the Commonwealth.
– The clause provides that, subject to any laws relating to the qualifications of members of the Commonwealth Parliament, and electors of members of that Parliament, the person to whom a certificate of naturalization is granted shall have all the political and other rights, powers, and privileges of a natural born British subject in the Commonwealth. That’ provision might be held to qualify a naturalized person for membership of a- State Parliament, or as an elector for members of the State Parliament, notwithstanding any State law to the contrary. If it did so, it would bring him within section 41 of the Constitution, and would take him out of the provision of the Franchise Act to which the honorable and learned member for South Australia has referred- Therefore I move -
That the following words be added: - “Provided that this section shall not apply to any law of a State relating to the qualification of members or electors of members of Parliament of a State.”
The States might fairly resent a provision which, although inadvertently, extended the qualification of membership and electorship in a State.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that we can confer rights except in regard to Commonwealth elections ?
– I am not sure that the adoption of the amendment will prevent the question being raised.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).While I agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi that there should be an exception such as he has proposed, some ambiguity is created by the proviso which he has added. The amendment might be carried now, and if, upon reconsideration, it is thought well to recast it, we might deal with the matter again.
– The amendment may be open to the criticism of my honorable and learned friend, and I hope his suggestionwill be accepted.
– If there isany good reason, I shall move the recommittal of the clause to enable the amendment to be reconsidered.
– I trust that before the Bill is placed on the statute-book the Prime Minister will exercise his’ ingenuity in putting the clause into shape. It is not very pleasing now, beginning as it does with the words “ subject to any laws,” and ending with a proviso.
– I am not sure that the lay members of the Committee thoroughly understand the position and the effect of the amendment ; I am certain that I do not. The impression which the average foreigner will obtain from the clause is that the Commonwealth in conferring citizenship upon him endows him with all the rights of a natural born British subject, who, of course, is entitled to vote for members of a State Parliament as well as for members of the Commonwealth Parliament. If my interpretation of the clause be correct, however, foreigners who become naturalized will find that, although they are qualified to vote for members of the Commonwealth Parliament, they have not acquired the right to vote for members of tine Parliaments of the States.
– That happens in Victoria now in regard to the public servants of the State.
– That is a different matter. The public servants of this State are at least acquainted with all the political developments in their case. The foreigner, however, who has paid his money, and gone to the trouble to acquire a certificate of naturalization, may regard himself as the victim of a sort of confidence trick, if he is not given the full rights which those whoare nominally his fellow subjects possess. I ask the Prime Minister whether, if the clause does not confer upon naturalized subjects the right to vote for members of the Parliaments of the States, the fact should not be clearly stated, so that the intention of Parliament may be made evident ?
– That is what is intended by the amendment.
– If that be so, I would. - ask what is the reason for the limitation of his right ? I should like, further, to know what more a foreigner who has become naturalized in the Commonwealth can do to obtain the qualification of an elector or of -a member of the Parliament of a State.
– The position is this : We have in the Constitution the provision that -
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues. be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
From that it follows that any one who has or in the future gains the right to vote for members of the Legislative Assembly of any State has, and cannot be prevented from enjoying, the right to vote at all Commonwealth elections. The clause appears to the honorable and learned member for Indi to have the effect of conferring upon persons to whom certificates of naturalization are granted the right to vote at elections for members of the Parliaments of the States, and therefore the members of ^either House of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Subject to any laws for the time being in force relating to the qualification of members of the Commonwealth Parliament and of electors of mem bers of that Parliament.
– The clause is to some extent limited by those words. It goes on to provide that the naturalized person - £hall in the Commonwealth be entitled to political and other rights …. to which a naturalborn British subject is entitled….. in the
From the use of the words “in the Commonwealth “ it is perhaps fair to deduce that the intention is not to grant the rights except in respect to the Commonwealth itself. I think that these matters should be placed beyond all doubt, and that we should not unnecessarily expose ourselves to criticism on the part of the States. Therefore, I am willing to accept the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Indi.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs.)I presume that the object of this clause is simply to create Commonwealth citizenship for Commonwealth purposes, and that the term “ Parliament” means the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– When the different States come to deal with their electoral laws a question will arise as to the definition of a naturalized subject Am I right in inferring that it is not intended to interfere with the definitions of the rights of electors or members in the States ?
– We do not wish to do that, and it is as well that we should make our intention clear.
– The question is whether we are attempting to lay down a general definition of a naturalized subject which will apply to all the States electoral laws. It must be understood that if the Bill is passed the Naturalization laws of the States will cease to operate so far as they may be inconsistent with the Federal Act.
– After the Bill has been passed, none of the States will have the power to issue certificates of naturalization.
– Exactly. Therefore we shall alter the whole foundation of the laws of the States to the extent to which they may be inconsistent with the Federal law. The definition of “naturalized subject” under the Electoral law of Queensland is a naturalized subject under the Imperial Naturalization Act or under the Queensland Act. The Naturalization Act of Queensland will cease to operate when the Bill becomes an Act.
– The Queensland Naturalization Act will not be swept away, but it will not be competent for the Queensland Government to issue further naturalization certificates under it.
– I desire to point out that, if the States desire to adopt the Naturalization law of the Commonwealth as the basis of their electoral rights, they will have to pass fresh legislation defining the privileges of a naturalized citizen. It should be made clear that we are not attempting to affect the laws which the States may choose to pass relating to the qualifications of electors or of candidates for election to their Legislatures.
– I see no reason why we should insert this clause. It is for the States to declare what the consequences of naturalization will be in the States. We cannot for all purposes. We are making provision for the naturalization of aliens, but we cannot -declare what incidental rights will attach to naturalization in each of the States. This is a copy of the section of the Imperial Act, in which it is necessary to ‘declare the position of naturalized subjects. In 1870, when they emancipated aliens, they had to define the status acquired by naturalization. Here all we are asked to do is to declare what are the conditions of naturalization, and it is for the States to declare what rights shall follow from naturalization. “We have already declared in our Franchise Act the qualifications that shall attach to naturalization so far as the purposes of the Commonwealth are concerned.
– Would the honorable member allow the States to restrict the rights conferred by the naturalization certificate issued by the Commonwealth?
– I think that all that we are required to do is to frame laws under which applications may be made by aliens to become naturalized British subjects.
– But we must give naturalized subjects something more than a name.
– We have no right to say what consequences will follow from naturalization so far as the States are concerned. All we can do is to specify the conditions under which an alien may be hall-marked as a British subject. Therefore I consider that it is not necessary to insert the clause.
– I take it that by conferring citizenship upon aliens who become naturalized we admit their right to be elected as members of the Commonwealth Parliament. When they undertake the responsibilities of Commonwealth citizenship they become entitled to the rights enjoyed by natural-born British subjects. It seems rather strange that we should admit naturalized subjects to the privilege of membership of the Federal Parliament, whilst under the law of Queensland, they are excluded from membership of the State Legislature. I. think that we should take care that the rights of Commonwealth citizenship are not in any way interfered with by any subordinate powers. We know that many aliens who have been debarred from becoming representatives in the States Parliaments are among the best citizens we have, and we should not allow any restriction to be placed upon the freedom of the citizenship which we grant.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 -
A woman who, not being a British subject, marries a British subject, shall in the Commonwealth be naturalized, and have the same rights and privileges, and be subject to the same obligations, as a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization.
– I would invite the attention of the Prime Minister to the wording of this clause. It is provided that a woman who, not being a British subject, marries a British subject, shall be naturalized. I think it would be preferable touse the words “ shall be deemed to be naturalized.” That would render thewording of the clause uniform with the phraseology adopted in clause 4, and would more clearly express our intention.
– I see that according to this clause a woman marrying a British subject and becoming naturalized is subject to the same obligations as a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization. The clauses dealing with persons who obtain certificatesof naturalization impose no obligationsupon them beyond that of taking the necessary steps to become naturalized. If that be so, there seems to be no reason whatever for the retention of the words. “ and be subject to the same obligations.”
– That is a phrase which is used in clause 8.
– Exactly ; but the obligations which are referred to in clause 8 differ from those which are imposed upon persons who obtain certificates of naturalization. At any rate, if the words in question are not mere surplusage it is very doubtful what obligations are imposed by this clause. It might be worth the while of the Prime Minister to look into the matter.
– I will do so.
– Of course the idea underlying this proposal is to make naturalization follow upon the act of” marriage. The honorable and learned member for Indi has suggested the insertion of the words “deemed to be” after the word “be.”’ I think it would be better to make the clauseread “ deemed to be thereby,” and I, therefore, move -
That after the word “ be,” line 3, the words “ deemed to be thereby “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 -
An infant not being a natural-born British subject
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This clause raises some difficulties of substance, and I cannot exactly understand the principle upon which it has been adopted by the other Chamber. If one looks at it closely, one will see that it must inevitably lead to conflicts as to allegiance. We ought to be very careful to lay down a distinct policy which will prevent people from owing a double allegiance. Otherwise, in case of difficulty, we shall not know to which Sovereign they owe fealty. As the Prime Minister is aware, during the war with America in 1812, nothing produced so much irritation as the fact that a man who had emigrated to the States from England, and had taken the oath of allegiance there, was liable to be hanged, drawn, and quartered if he served upon an American privateer or a manofwar. The result of that law was that, until 1870, England would admit no British subject to divest himself of his nationality. Paragraph a of this clause must lead to a very curious division of allegiance. Take the case of a German lady who becomes naturalized in Australia with the intention of permanently residing here. If she returns to Germany, and marries a German officer there, it will follow that although a child may be born in Germany, and be German in essence and sympathies, if that child accompanies his father or mother to Australia upon a visit, he will owe allegiance to the King of England, and will be liable to be hanged if he engages in any
Avar against that Sovereign. I could understand the other Chamber laying down, as a definite principle, that a child should follow his father’s allegiance, but I cannot conceive why a child should follow either his father’s or his mother’s allegiance. This provision means that if a child has a German father and an Australian mother he will owe allegiance in Germany to his father’s
Emperor, and in Australia to his mother’s King.
– That is very frequently the case.
– It may be so, but the fewer instances there are of the kind the better. I think that some explanation should be given of the reason which prompted the insertion of this provision. At this stage I do not venture to submit an amendment because, possibly, the Prime Minister may have some explanation to offer regarding it.
– In order to follow the form in which this clause at present appears it is necessary to refer to one or two other provisions which were contained in the Bill, as it was submitted to the Senate. This clause originally read -
An infant, not being a natural-bom British subject, whose father or whose mother (being a widow or divorced) has obtained a certificate of naturalization, and who has at any time resided in Australia with such father or mother, shall, in the Commonwealth, during infancy, be naturalized.
– I cannot understand the application of the clause to the children of widows or divorced persons.
– The position occupied by married women under this Bill has been entirely altered from what it was originally. In that connexion I must invite the attention of the honorable and learned member to clause 5 of the measure. The provision originally read -
An applicant under paragraph c of the preceding section shall produce in support of his application -
An applicant who is a woman shall also produce in support of her application her own statutory declaration that she is not married.
The provisions referring to naturalization during infancy, and to women, were struck out in the Senate. The object of that amendment was to place a woman on the same footing as a man. The result appears to be that there are now two ways in which women may be naturalized, namely, by application under clause 5, or by marrying a British subject. No doubt, that provision establishes an exception to the principle which prevails in other parts of the Empire, and it is quite possible that, it may create difficulties hereafter if an effort be- made to secure reciprocity in matters affecting the Empire. Further, the amendment in clause 5 allows British women who marry nonnaturalized aliens to retain their nationality. Clause 5, when read in conjunction with clause 10, would enable either parent to naturalize all their children during infancy against the wish of the other. The omission of the words “ being a widow or divorced “ was a consequential amendment. Under this particular provision a married woman may herself obtain letters of naturalization. I quite admit the difficulty of the subject. I do not mean to suggest that it is unworkable- or unjust, but it is exceedingly intricate.
– It looks as if a mother could - naturalize her children in Australia against the step-father’s will.
– That is so.
– Would it not be well to postpone the consideration of this clause ?
– I am quite prepared to recommit it at a later stage. I move - ‘
That after the word “he,” line 11, the words “ deemed to be “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 1 1 (Revocation of certificate).
– There is only one point in relation to this clause, which deals with the revocation of certificates, that I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister. By preceding clauses certain rights arc given, which would include, among others,, the right to .hold land to holders of certificates of naturalization ; but the words in regard to revocation are very wide. It is declared in this clause that in certain circumstances the Governor-General may revoke a certificate - which shall thereupon be and be taken to have been of no effect.
– That voids the certificate from the beginning.
– I should like to see some words inserted saving at all events the rights of other persons.
– If the honorable and learned member has any suggestion to make I shall be happy to consider it. I admit that the question is not a simple one, and in the circumstances I think I hod better postpone the clause ; it may require considerable revision.
– A certificate may be revoked under this clause when a person has obtained it by any untrue statement of fact or intention. The word “ intention,” I presume, refers to the intention of the foreigner to settle in the Commonwealth.
– I think that is. the only matter of that kind referred to in the preceding clauses.
– How would it be possible to prove that a man did not intend to reside in the Commonwealth 1
– We might prove that he falsely stated that he intended to settle in the Commonwealth, when he had no intention to do so. There are cases in which such proof could be given,- although I admit that the matter is a difficult one.
– After applying for a certificate a man might legitimately change his mind, but he would probably experience great difficulty in proving to an independent authority that he had bond fide altered his intentions. ‘
– The burden of ‘ proof would be on the person who challenged him. The charge would have to be very clearly proved before it could be of any avail.
– Is anything to be gained by the retention of these words f
– I think it would be well to retain them. They may be found, of value in certain cases.
Clause 12 (Record of certificate and fees).
– The clause originally provided for payment of a fee of £1. The provision was struck out by the Senate, and I do not propose to disturb that decision.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
– As there is a postponed clause to be considered, I think we had better report progress.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- The only suggestion which I have to offer at this juncture in regard to clause 11 is that the Prime
Minister might consider the desirableness of inserting after the words “ thereupon “ the words “ except as to any rights created in other persons.” They are not very artistic, but they sufficiently indicate our intention, and may perhaps form the basis of a suitable provision.
– In moving
That the House do now adjourn,
I trust that honorable members will understand that, although a concession was granted to-night in reference to the resumption of the debate on the Budget, it is the desire of the Treasurer that we should proceed with it to-morrow and on Friday. It is very necessary that some progress should be mode with it.
– The Government do not propose to deal with the Patents Bill this week?
– We shall not take it before Thursday next, if we take it then.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I wish to know whether the Prime Minister has received any communication with respect to the Rhodes scholarships; and, if so, whether he is prepared to place it before the House?
Sir EDMUND BARTON (HunterMinister for External Affairs). -I have received no official communication, and have not had anything addressed to me as Prime Minister on the subject. But, when in England,. I renewed my acquaintance with Dr. Parkin, who is the representative of the trustees. I had some conversation with him in regard to the scholarships, and am now in correspondence with him, but I am afraid that the correspondence is not of a public character. What I have thought of doing is to make some communication to the Chancellors of the States Universities with reference to Dr. Parkin’s desire. I am sure that his objects will commend themselves to every one of us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at9.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 September 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030909_reps_1_16/>.