1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WATSON presented a petition from certain employers at Townsville, Queensland, in opposition to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he has seen the reports published from time to time as to the ghastly butcheries perpetrated in the Balkans. If so, will he consider the advisability of cabling to the Imperial authorities a protest, on behalf of Australia, against their continuance and urging those authorities to strain every nerve, conjointly with the other European powers, to speedily bring them to an end ?
– Every reader of the daily press must have noticed the reports received referring to what I think the honorable member has properly termed the ghastly tragedies in the south-east of Europe. There exists in that corner of the Continent a condition of affairs which one would rather expect to find in the centre of darkest Africa, or in some other hopelessly uncivilized country. I am perfectly sure that the unanimous sympathy of Australia is with the honorable member in his desire that these tragedies should speedily be brought to a conclusion.
– The Right Honorable A. J. Balfour says that there are faults on both sides.
– Probably there are. I never knew a case to which that remark would not apply in some degree. It is, however, obvious that the main burden of the blame for the atrocities which have been committed rests upon those who are not of the same blood and faith as the people of the rest of Europe. I am sure that the feeling of Australia is unanimous in this matter, but hesitate to telegraph an expression of sympathylest our action might be considered due to a suspicion on our part that the Governments of Great Britain and of the other nations of Europe are not just as alive as we are to the deplorable conditions which obtain and to the necessity for altering them. I trust that the present unsatisfactory state of affairs will speedily be brought to a close.
– I think we had better mind our own business.
– I desire to know from the Minister for Defence what changes are in progress in connexion with the control of the Military Forces in South Australia?
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me of his intention to ask this question. The General Officer Commanding has made a certain recommendation which would result in the transfer of Colonel Lyster from the command of the South Australian forces to a position on the staff in New South Wales. No decision has, however, been arrived at up to the present.
– If it be intended to remove Colonel Lyster from South Australia, in what way can the Commonwealth derive gain from that officer touring South Australia with the object of obtaining the information necessary to enable him to more effectively administer defence matters in that State?
– That point will be considered when the matter comes up for decision. Colonel Lyster has been recommended by the General Officer Commanding for transfer to New South Wales, but certain other changes are in contemplation, and the whole matter will be considered. I shall be in a position to inform the honorable member of the results within a few days.
– I desire to know whether the recommendation for the transfer of Colonel Lyster to New South Wales is by way of promotion ; and, if so, whether that is regarded as in accordance with the finding of the Drayton Grange Commission ?
– No ; it is not by way of promotion.
– Is it the reverse?
– Well, it is not by way of promotion, at any rate. If the right honorable and learned member will give notice of his question for Tuesday, I shall be very glad to supply him with information as to what is being done.
– In view of the possibility of Colonel Lyster being transferred to another State, will the Minister for Defence take steps to prevent further money being wasted by that officer in travelling through the State of South Australia ?
– It is my intention to prevent waste of money in every way possible. I cannot, however, deal with possibilities until they assume the form of probabilities.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence what has been done towards placing the rifle clubs of Western Australia upon the same footing as those in other States, pending the passing of the Defence Bill ?
– The honorable member was good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question, the answer to which is as follows : -
The rifle clubs in Western Australia have not hitherto been enrolled under any regulations, and therefore have no official standing. Steps are now being taken to gazette these clubs under the Commonwealth Rifle Club Regulations. An arrangement was made by Sir John Forrest, prior to these regulations coming into force, by which these rifle clubs in Western Australia, voluntarily formed, but which are affiliated with the National Rifle Association, were able to acquire certain issue of ammunition ; and in order to avoid discouragement, pending the gazetting of these clubs under the new regulations, and therefore bringing them into line with all other rifle clubs in the Commonwealth, the Commandant of Western Australia has been authorized to continue the issue of ammunition within reasonable limits to those clubs which have applied in the regular manner to come under the new regulations.
– With the permission of the House, I desire to move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to determine the seat of the government of the Commonwealth.
It is proposed to proceed with the second reading of the Bill on Tuesday next.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I should be the last to suggest any delay in this matter, but I wish to point out that
Monday is a holiday, and that, perhaps, it might be inconvenient for some honorable members to attend on Tuesday.
– The question as to the date to be fixed for the second reading will come on for consideration at a later stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish, to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether any additional correspondence has passed between the Federal Government and the Government, of South Australia with regard to the proposed railway to Perth ?
– No reply, I believe, has been received to our last communication to the South Australian Government.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs, without notice, when he expects to have ready for distribution the regulations under the Electoral Act 1 I also desire to know, in connexion with the forthcoming elections, whether the honorable gentleman intends to utilize the services of the officers who conducted the last Federal elections, and whose services it is customary to use at State elections ; or whether he intends to confine this work entirely, or as far as possible, to members of the Federal Public Service 1
– I hope within a. few days to have the regulations ready for use. In regard to the officers who are toconduct the elections, I have already informed honorable members that the desire of the Government is to utilize, as far as possible, Commonwealth officers. Of course it will not be possible to do that in all cases. In some instances we shall use those officers who have hitherto conducted elections ; but, generally speaking, we shall as. far as possible utilize the services of Commonwealth officers.
– Seeing that the Ministershave to-day introduced a Bill dealing with a very important matter, I should like toask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it would not be desirable to issue a writ for the election of a member for the electorate of Hunter, in c order to give the electors in that portion. of New South Wales an opportunity to exercise a voice in the matter ?
– When I have seen the Bill referred to I shall be able to decide whether steps should be token to issue a writ.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether he has considered the point which I brought under his attention yesterday with regard to the alterations suggested by the Senate to be made in the Public Service Regulations, and whether he has any intention of giving effect to those alterations?
– I asked for the regulations to be brought before me to-day, but owing to the number of callers and the quantity of correspondence I had to deal with, I was unable to read them. I will look into the matter as soon as I have a moment’s leisure.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Home Affairs, without notice, whether he will make inquiries as to the number of hours overtime that the young lady typists in his Department have been working ; and whether he will remove the very great strain that has been put upon these employes ? I am quite aware that at times overtime work is necessary. But I am quite sure that a great strain has been put upon both the male and the female employes, and I believe that in some instances the health of the female typists has broken down. While we desire to be as economical as possible, we do not want to kill our employes. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will inquire into the matter.
– I shall be very glad to make inquiries, but I have not heard anything about the subject alluded to. It is astonishing what information the honorable member is able to obtain concerning matters in my Department of which I know nothing. I have seen some of the young ladies, and it did not seem to me that their health was being injured ; but probably the honorable member is a better judge of that than I am. However, I shall be very glad to make inquiries.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether there is any chance of an opportunity being given to discuss Notice of Motion No. 1, in favour of a reward being given, open to the world, for the discovery of some new scientific method by which fresh fruit can be preserved in a merchantable condition and transported at reasonable rates to European countries. If not, will the Government consider the suggestion ?
– I fear that there is no chance of an opportunity being given to discuss the motion this session ; but I shall be very glad to receive any suggestion or information relating to the subject.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following are , the answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Minister f or Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I beg to state : -
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– Will the Prime Minister make arrangements for the vote of the House on the Bill relating to the selection of the Capital site not to be taken until Wednesday next?
– The request which the right honorable member makes is, that under the circumstances the vote on the Bill relating to the selection of the Federal Capital Site shall not be taken before Wednesday next. I do not think there need be the least difficulty about that under- taking. But I wish the House to be prepared to commence the discussion on Tuesday; it will certainly be Wednesday before we can come to a decision. To prevent any loss of time it will be necessary to commence dealing with the’ question on Tuesday, though there is no prospect, I am afraid, of concluding the debate on that day.
– The Prime Minister is now asking us to pass the third reading of the Appropriation Bill. I think that before we do so we should have an assurance from him that the Capital site matter will be carried to a definiteconclusion before Parliament rises. What I mean by a definite conclusion is that either the site shall be selected, or that the mattershall reach the deadlock stage, at which it will be absolutely impossible to select a sitethis session. I gather that it is the honorable and learned gentleman’s intention to try to attain a definite conclusion, but I wish to hear a statement made by him before the Appropriation Bill receives our assent.
– We certainly will endeavour to reduce the Capital sites to two- - one chosen by this House and one by the Senate ; and if it be possible we will bring; about an agreement between both Houses.
– I should like to know what violent hurry there is for the passage of this Bill 1
– The Senate must have a fair opportunity to deal with it.
– Undoubtedly the Senate will have an opportunity. I haveno doubt that that House will deal with itas quickly, perhaps, as we did. We put theBill through in almost as many minutes asthere are stages. I have never seen an Appropriation Bill which received less consideration than this one has had.
– The Estimates took a longtime to consider, and this Bill will be considered from the stand-point of Estimatesin another place.
– I wish to knowwhether there is any special need for urgency^ at the present time.
– Yes, because while thisHouse is dealing with the question of the Capital site we wish to give the Senate an opportunity to deal with the Estimates which are embodied in this Bill. It mustbe remembered that from the point of view of the Senate the discussion on this Bill is equivalent to our discussion on the Estimates. The Appropriation Bill is the only measure that gives the Senate an opportunity to consider the Estimates for theyear.
– This is the one measure which we ought not to surrender too hurriedly to the Senate. We ought not to give them the Appropriation Bill whenever they think fit. There are obvious reasons why an Appropriation Bill is held back in all Parliaments. How do we know what is going to result in connexion with the selection of the Capital sites? No one can see the end of that troublesome business, and none of us knows precisely what is going to eventuate between the two Houses.
– If we pass this Bill we shall soon know the end.
– We have been promised that we should see the end of this business ever since we commenced to consider it. But we seem to be progressing backwards. I believe that on the first consideration in the Senate there was only a difference of one vote between the two parties. But we have progressed so much in regard to the solution of this difficult matter that, last night, there was a difference of seven votes on a division. That does not augur a speedy and definite settlement of this matter. I wish that I could be as optimistic in regardto its discision as some honorable members appear to be.I do not think that this Bill ought to pass its third reading until the Capital site has been selected, or at any rate until some promise of finality has been reached.Under the circumstances I would ask the Ministry to defer the third reading of the measure for at least a week. Certainly it ought not to be sanctioned until the important business which is before the two branches of the Legislature is in a fair way of being determined. That is one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary government. I would urge upon the Ministry to agree to the course which I have suggested, and to postpone the third reading of the Bill for aweek.
– I do not blame the Government for attempting to get this measure passed as early as possible. To get the Appropriation Bill out of the way is a wise proceeding on the part of any Ministry, because it places them in the position of being able to settle with Parliament whenever they may think fit. Of course there is something to be said in favour of the early passage of the measure through this House, because of the position of the Senate under the Constitution. The other Chamber naturally desires time to consider it. Nevertheless, as was stated by the late Prime Minister, the determination of the Capital site is one of the most important questions with which this Parliament has been called upon to deal. It is quite unusual for a subject of such magnitude to be decided after Supply has been granted to the Government for the full period of the year. At the same time if the Opposition do not think it worth while to enter a protest against the adoption of the course which is proposed, no charge of haste can be laid against the door of the Government.
Mr. G. B.EDWARDS (South Sydney).I quite indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Wide Bay. According to my parliamentary experience, the Appropriation Bill is the very last measure which should be passed by Parliament. Seeing that the selection of the Capital site constitutes the most important business with which we have had to deal during the present session, that question ought certainly to be decided before this Bill is disposed of. Generally speaking, the Appropriation Bill is finally dealt with only a few hours before the prorogation of Parliament. I admit that our Constitution is somewhat different from the Constitution of the States, and that some deference must be paid to that difference. That fact in itself, however, is not sufficient to justify the passage of an Appropriation Bill at the present juncture. Throughout the session I have constantly blamed the Ministry for neglect in failing to submit for our early consideration the question of the selection of the Capital site. But despite the gravity of the present position I think that the reputation of the Prime Minister is such that the House will be prepared to accept his assurance that the list of eligible sites will be reduced to two, and, if possible, to one, before the session closes. It is only upon that under standing that I am prepared to allow the third reading of this measure to pass.
– It was only to be expected that the Government would endeavour to push this very important measure to its final conclusion as soon as possible. To my mind, however, there is no immediate hurry to pass its third reading. Several other measures are awaiting our attention. Despite the fact that the question of the selection of the Federal Capital site has been given considerable prominence from the very inception of this Parliament, its consideration has been deferred till the closing days of the present session, and very little time is now available in which to deal with that matter. Moreover, present appearances point to the probability of future complications with the other Chamber which must inevitably result in further delay. I repeat that there are other important measures which have still to engage our attention - notably the Patents Bill and the Defence Bill. If we agree to the passing of this measure, it means that we shall lose control over the Government. The latter will then be able to close the session at any time they choose without consulting the House. But so long as the Appropriation Bill is held in abeyance, honorable members are in a position to exercise a controlling influence upon our procedure. I do not think that it is unreasonable to ask that the third reading of this Bill should be deferred a little longer. The adoption of such a course will not inflict any hardship upon the public servants, and, therefore, there is no need whatever to unduly hurry the passing of the measure, unless the Government desire to bring the session to a close at an earlier stage than Parliament would be disposed to approve of in view of the incomplete state of the business upon hand. I would strongly urge the Ministry to consider the request which has been preferred by some members of the Opposition.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has certainly given the members of the Opposition a very timely reminder of their duty. He has declared that, whilst it is to the interests of the Government to secure the early passage of this Bill, if members of the Opposition are alive to their responsibility they will insist on its further consideration being deferred. I thoroughly agree with his remarks. In view of the fact that the Federal Capital site has not yet been selected, I hold that it would be unwise to sanction the third reading of this measure. As has already been pointed out, several important measures have yet to be passed. How would honorable members feel to-morrow morning if, when they arrived at the House, they found the parliamentary shutters up 1 Immediately the Appropriation Bill is passed, the Government will be in a position to flout the will of Parliament, and to close its doors. I feel strongly tempted to submit an amendment which will have the effect of compelling the Treasurer to furnish us with some information in regard to this matter. If the Treasurer now replies the debate will be closed.
– That being the case, it is unnecessary for me, at this stage, to move an amendment in order that honorable members may have full opportunity to discuss this question. I trust that the Treasurer will make a statement to the House, as requested by the honorable member for Parramatta. At a most critical stage in her history, New South Wales to-day finds herself without her full measure of representation in either House, and if the leader of the Opposition were present I should hope to hear him strongly oppose the third reading of this Bill, pending the settlement of the Capital site question. We have received an assurance from the Prime Minister that the matter will be dealt with, but we know that the Victorian press arid various public meetings held in this State have bitterly opposed the selection of a site, and therefore there is a danger of the question being shelved for this session. B3’ preventing the third reading.of this Bill today we shall be able to avert the anticipated danger, and it is my duty to join with other honorable members in exercising that power. I ask the Treasurer to say that he will not press the passing of this Bill through its remaining stages before New South Wales has secured her full measure of representation in the Federal Parliament.
– If the House agrees to the third reading of the Bill it will create a very dangerous precedent. It is the duty of every honorable member to protest against the adoption of such a course. The moment we agree to the third reading of the Bill our power over the Ministry will disappear. We know that important legislation materially affecting all the States still remains to be dealt with by us, and if we allowed this Bill to pass we should have no means to combat an attempt made by the Government on some flimsy pretext to shelve that legislation. I think that every honorable member should protest against the granting of such a power to the Ministry. I have never heard of the adoption of this practice in the House of Commons, or in any Legislature in Australia. Of course, if the House is foolish enough to acquiesce in the Government proposal, the Treasurer cannot be blamed for making it. If it is necessary that another place should have ample time to deal with the Estimates, an arrangement should have been made to enable it to consider them as soon as they left this Chamber, the Appropriation Bill meanwhile being kept back until the last moment. In that way we should have been able to overcome the difficulty suggested by the Treasurer. This is a very serious matter, and if a division is called for I shall certainly vote against the motion. I feel inclined to move that the debate be adjourned until next week : but in any event I think that the Government should give us some assurance that they will not seek to pass the Bill through its remaining stages for at least another week.
– I quite admit that the practice usually followed in the States Parliaments is to keep back the Appropriation Bill until all other measures have been dealt with. We must not forget, however, that we are working under a new Constitution, and that the position of the Senate is altogether different from that of the Legislative Councils of the States. The Senate has a right to request the reduction of any item in the Appropriation Bill, and it is therefore only fair that it should have a reasonable time to consider the Estimates, and to obtain the fullest explanation in regard to them. In these circumstances we cannot adopt the practice of the States Governments, and hold back this Bill until the last moment. That practice works very well in the States Legislatures, because the Legislative Councils of the States can simply reject or accept an Appropriation Bill, and, as a rule, they agree to such measures as a matter of course. This House, if it doubted the promise given by the Prime Minister, would be justified in refusing to pass the Bill at this stage. The only object which honorable members could have in view in adopting that course would be to retain control over the Government. But, as my honorable and learned leader has given a definite and distinct pledge to the House that the Federal Capital question will be advanced this session as nearly as possible to finality, even if it is impossible to finally settle it, I fail to see why any opposition should be shown to the Bill being read a third time to-day. An Appropriation Bill is held back, as a rule, simply to enable the House to have a check upon the Government, The honorable member for Dalley is afraid that if this Bill be passed to-day he may find to-morrow that Parliament has been prorogued, and that the question of the Federal Capital has been shelved. I am astonished that he should make such a suggestion.
– My only fear is that the Government will not be able to control another place.
– The honorable member did not base his objection on that ground. He said he was afraid that if we passed this Bill to-day he would find to-morrow that the doors of Parliament had been closed, and that the Government had failed to invite the House to proceed with the consideration of the Capital site. If we held back this Bill until both Houses had dealt with that question, we should have to send it to another place at a time when it would be impossible for honorable senators to give it proper consideration. In view of the pledge given by the Prime Minister - which I am certain is accepted by the majority of honorable members- I see no reason why we should not now agree to the Bill being read a third time, and thus give another place a fair opportunity to discuss it.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).No doubt the Government will endeavour to keep the promise made to-day by the Prime Minister, but we cannot overlook the fact that they have no control over another place. I occupied a seat in the gallery of another place yesterday, and, whilst there, saw the will of the Government flouted by the majority of the members of that Chamber. Doubtless if they considered their purpose would be served by again taking up that attitude they would not hesitate to do so. I do not think that the Government will fail to make an effort to carry out their promise to this House, but we have no guarantee that they will be able to do so. If we allow this Bill to pass we shall part with our control over the Government. I contend that it is the duty of representatives of New South Wales to see that this measure does not pass through its remaining stages until the question of the site of the Federal Capital has been dealt with. The Treasurer urges that another place must be given ample time to consider the Appropriation Bill. Let us remain here in order . that it may have an opportunity to do so. Let honorable members of this House be the sufferers. I therefore feel inclined to move that the debate be now adjourned.
– The honorable member, having spoken to the motion, cannot move the adjournment of the debate.
– Then I suggest that the adjournment should be moved by the Government. It is necessary for the representatives of New South Wales to see that the interests of that State are conserved.
We shall be placed in a very unenviable position if we have to return to our constituents and to say that we allowed the Appropriation Bill to pass before the Capital Site question was dealt with. I ask the Government, in order that they may be protected against action which may be taken in another place, to consent to the adjournment of the debate until the Capital question has been dealt with.
-I desire to emphasize, if it be necessary, the remarks of the last speaker and of other honorable members as to the need for an adjournment of the debate. As has been well pointed out, no control can be exercised by the Government over the members of another place, nor indeed can they exercise an effective control over the members of this House after the Appropriation Bill has been passed. Whilst I have every confidence in the honesty of the Government, their intentions are one thing, and the intentions and acts of their supporters here and of the members of another House are quite another thing. The representatives of theStateof New South Wales in this House are entirely at the mercy of honorable gentlemen who, not to put too fine a point upon it, are not exactly eager for the selection of the Federal Capital. They would not bother very much if it were not selected this session, could view with equanimity the possibility of its not being selected during the first session of next Parliament, and doubtless would sleep well if they knew that it would never be selected at all. Therefore, as the Government cannot effectively control the members of this House, and have no control whatever over members of another place, I think that they should agree to the suggested adjournment of the debate, at any rate until an opportunity has been given to this House to decide the Capital question. I do not think that we are asking too much in making that request. The Government cannot state definitely that they will not prorogue until the matter has been dealt with, because they have no means of carrying that promise into effect.
– I confess to being unable to follow the line of reasoning adopted by honorable members who ask for the adjournment of the debate upon the ground that we shall have no control over the members of another place if we pass the Appropriation Bill through all its stages in this House. Their suggestion amounts to this : That we should not send the Appropriation Bill to the Senate until the members of that body have concurred with us in the selection of a site for the Federal capital.
– Until we have tried to obtain their concurrence.
– Suppose we keep back the Appropriation Bill, and ask the concurrence of the Senate in the selection of a certain site, but that they decline to concur with us, what advantage shall we have gained ; unless it is argued that we should say to them - “ We shall not send you the Appropriation Bill until you will concur with us “? I do not think honorable members could seriously entertain the suggestion. But the only inference to be drawn from their arguments is that that position should be assumed.
– What control shall we have over the Government if we pass the Appropriation Bill ?
– Parliament will have no control over the Government after the Appropriation Bill has become law. With regard to the suggestion of the honorable member that we should keep back the Appropriation Bill, and endeavour to make some arrangement which will enable the members of the Senate to discuss the Estimates of Expenditure in some other form, I think that this House has given away already too much of its control of the purse. I shall never be a party to increasing the powers of the Senate in connexion with financial matters. The members of the Senate are entitled under the Constitution to consider the items in the Estimates as they cannot be considered by the Legislative Council of a State, and to enable them to exercise that power they must obtain the Appropriation Bill before the last moment of the session.
– Let us at least try the arrangement proposed.
– I do not feel sanguine about the success of any arrangement with another place which will not involve the abandonment of further rights of this House. My view is that we have already gone further in parting with our rights in connexion with financial measures than we should have gone.
– The honorable and learned member is now furnishing excellent reasons for the view taken by those who urge the adjournment of the debate.
– I fail to see that I am. Honorable members who urge the keeping “back of the Appropriation Bill are labouring under a delusion. We must rely upon the good faith of the Government so far as our relations with the Senate are concerned. The position of the Appropriation Bill will not have any effect in bringing the Senate into line -with the House of Representatives upon the Capital site question. Besides, we cannot keep back the Appropriation Bill indefinitely. Therefore there is no force in the veiled threat that would be made by taking the course of action suggested. I do not wish to leave the House to the uncontrolled mercies of any Ministry, but we must either accept or decline the assurance of the Prime Minister. If we accept his assurance it will not matter to us where the Appropriation Bill is, and so far as the Senate is concerned, it does not matter where it is, because we cannot in the least degree control the actions of the members of that body.
– What did the honorable and learned member understand the assurance of the Prime Minister to be 1
– That the Capital question would be dealt with in this House before the end of the session, and that he would try to have it dealt with in the other House.
– That he would do all he could to have it settled between the two Houses.
– Yes. That is as much as !he could do, whatever the position of the Appropriation Bill.
– He assured us that the “Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would be passed this session, but where is it %
– If the honorable mem”be.r doubts the sincerity of the promise given, that is another matter. I do. not see how the position of the Appropriation Bill can possibly affect the question in view of the relations between the two Houses, and the fact that we must, sooner or later, send on the Appropriation Bill, and that we must also hold the elections at the .same time that the Senate elections are being held.
– I fail to follow the honorable and learned member for Corinella in his observations. I did not understand that it was suggested that we should hold the Appropriation Bill for the purpose of bringing pressure to bear on the Senate or anything of that kind. Who suggested it ]
– It was suggested.
– No one suggested it.
– I listened very carefully to the remarks ‘of honorable members, and I did not hear any suggestion of the kind. If it had been made it would have at once struck my notice as a most startling proposition. What I understand is that the retention of the Appropriation Bill undoubtedly affords the House the most powerful means of exercising control over the Government. Of course, we can go on as long as we like passing Supply Bills in order that the affairs of the State may be carried on from month to month, but once we pass an Appropriation Bill which provides for the expenditure for the remainder of the financial year, we lose our constitutional power so farasit relates to the control of the finances and of the Government. I think that that is a proposition of the most elementary character, and I do not see how it is possible to put the matter of retaining the Appropriation Bill other than as bearing upon the control which this House exercises over the Government. With regard to the action which should be taken by us, I think that we ought to settle the question of the Capital site as soon as we possibly can. I venture to say that honorable members are sick of it, that Australia is sick of it, and that the most mischievous consequences would ensue if we had to go to the elections before finally settling the matter. I hope that in the early stages of the next Parliament two matters will be removed from our consideration - two matters which have troubled us too long. I hope that the fiscal issue will be settled once and for all - or, at any rate, for a considerable period - upon the basis of the continuance of the Tariff now in operation, and also that the Capital site question will be disposed of.
– I thought the right honorable and learned member wished to see preferential trade brought about 1
– Of course 1 do.
– Then how does the right honorable gentleman reconcile his statement as to the settlement of the fiscal question with that desire?
– Does the honorable member suppose that the whole fiscal question will have to be re-opened in order to deal with that matter ?
– It must be.
– I hope not. Honorable members need not lay that flattering unction to their souls. I do not think that the fiscal peace which honorable members desire to see maintained will be disturbed bv the consideration of the question of preferential trade. We can easily give effect to that principle without reopening the whole fiscal controversy. I am indeed sanguine that when we meet next year both these questions will be out of the way. I would beg of the Government to spare no pains whatever to get the Capital site question settled this session.
– Hear, hear; that is our intention.
– We suggest that in the meantime the Government shall hold this Bill over for one week.
– If the Government are agreeable to comply with that request, well and good, but I do not think I should be prepared to give a vote which would press the matter upon them if they are disinclined to accede to what honorable members ask.
– The Senate will have no work for next week except the consideration of this Bill.
– Then the sooner they get it the better. Let the Government keep their noses to it. Judging from the Prime Minister’s statements, I think that he is fully seized with the importance of removing from the constant notice of the Parliament and the people this question, which ought to be settled and which has all too long remained unsettled. I hope, therefore, that he will do all that is necessary to insure that both Houses shall express their choice ; that he will persevere, and not be induced by any desire to get into the haven of recess to spare any pains. As I believe that the Government will do all they can - Appropriation Bill or no Appropriation Bill - and that they will carry out what is the undoubted wish of this House, I am prepared to assist them in doing what they propose.
– They have given an absolute promise.
– Yes. They have not shilly-shallied with the question : they have not adopted terms of dubious meaning, but have pledged themselves as absolutely as any Government could do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) pro posed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– With reference to what has been said on the Capital site question, I desire to point out that no one on this side of the House questions the sincerity of the Government. We do, however, doubt their ability, with the Appropriation Bill out. of the way, to carry the determination of the Capital site to a conclusion. We have known Governments to make promises before. I need scarcely remind honorable members of the statement recently made by a right honorable gentleman no longer a member of this House, in perfect good faith, concerning a matter of vital importance, and of the fact that within one short month a course exactly opposite to that indicated by him was taken. That statement was made in the same good faith as the statement of the Prime Minister in reference to the Capital site. No one doubts his sincerity, or that it is his intention to carry his promise into effect. In politics, however, no one knows what a day or an hour may bring forth, and there is nothing like being ready for emergencies. Therefore I urge that the consideration of the Capital question should be postponed for a week, or until we can see how matters are likely to shape themselves between the two Houses. All the talk about the Senate having no work to do next week is quite beside the question. The Senate has had many holidays extending over a week during the present session. They had one recently because there was nothing for them todo, and therefore there is nothing novel in the other Chamber being able to go away for a week. In view of the fact that this is the most vitally important matter which we have been called upon to consider this session, I would urge the Government even now to leave the consideration of this Bill over in order that we may see what kaleidoscopic changes may take place. We cast no reflection upon the Government or the Prime Minister, but we say that, as has happened before, political eventualities may cause the Prime Minister to take action contrary to the solemn promise which he has just made to the House. We have had recent experience that this is possible in politics, even assuming good faith, and all the like. We have seen that these political turnovers can take place, and what has happened will probably occur again. I therefore ask the Government to allow this Bill to stand over for a week at least.
– I rise to elicit some information from the Prime Minister at this juncture. There has just been handed to honorable members a document containing the minutes of evidence taken by the Royal Commission on Capital Sites. .
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing a matter that is not connected with the Appropriation Bill.
– Some reference has been made to the Capital Sites question.
– Quite so; the honorable member will understand that the reference which has been made to that question has been by way of a suggestion that this Bill should not now pass, but that the third reading should be taken at a later stage. Any reference to any printed paper concerning the Capital Site would be quite out of order in discussing the third reading of this Bill.
– It is on the point to which you have referred, sir, that I wish to elicit information. I wish to point out that one reason why the Bill should not now be disposed of is that we have been promised certain additional information bearing upon the Capital sites, and that, in accordance with that promise, we have to-day received documents containing a report of the evidence. But we were also informed that we should be supplied with the minutes of the proceedings of the Commission.
– I would point out to the honorable member that that matter might have been brought up in the form of a question earlier in the proceedings today, and it may be brought up at a later stage, on the motion for the adjournment of the House ; but I do not see how the honorable member can connect it with the measure now under discussion.
– I wish to urge the postponement of this Bill, for the reason that, so far, honorable members have not been supplied with full information bearing upon the Capital Sites inquiry. A postponement would enable us to get that information, and we should be in a better position to deal with the sites. I hope the Government will see their way not to take from the House the power which we possess, as they will do by putting through this measure. There is no immediate hurry for it. I trust that they will accede to the wish of the Opposition in allowing it to stand over for at least a few days, so that we may be better able to see our way with respect to other matters which the Government have asked the House to consider.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).Whilst 1 quite recognise all that has been said in connexion with the desirability, under ordinary circumstances, of not giving the Government the Appropriation Bill until the principal business of Parliament has been transacted, I also recognise the claim that the Senate should be allowed time for the consideration of the Bill, which covers the Estimates for the entire year. While I think that the Government could, allowing for all that, have left over this Bill for another week, I also recognise that we can hardly go to the extent of resisting the.proposals of the Government so far as not to assent to the third reading of the measure until the Capital site and all the other business of Parliament has been absolutely cleared up. Since we have to agree to send the Bill to the Senate before other business is concluded, I felt that the best thing we can do is to obtain from the Prime Minister an absolute promise as to the carrying out of the principal item of business that remains to be transacted before Parliament is prorogued. There has been some doubt as to what the Prime Minister actually promised. To me his promise was not capable of doubt, and I will now state what I understood it to be. I understood the Prime Minister to promise that before Parliament is prorogued there shall be, if possible, a selection by the two Chambers of one site ; or, if that is not possible, that there shall be a selection of one site by each Chamber. Those words are plain enough, and are easily understood.
– “ If possible.”
– It is not “if possible “ ; there is to be a selection of one site “if possible,” and if not, there is to be a selection of a site by each Chamber.
– Would not the Prime Minister’s promise extend to endeavouring to make the two Houses agree 1
– Hear, hear !
– I understand that that is part of the promise - that the Government will endeavour to arrive at the selection of one site by both Chambers.
– Hear, hear !
– The Prime Minister accepts that; but if it is not possible to secure an agreement between the two Houses, he promises that there shall be a selection by each Chamber of a site.
– “If possible.”
– The promise of the Prime Minister is an absolute one, and is a stronger hold upon the Government than retaining the Appropriation Bill. I, for one, am prepared to accept the Prime Minister’s absolute promise, because I think we can get nothing stronger by taking any other course that we have the power to adopt. It is our power that we must consider as well as our desire. I have confidence that the Prime Minister will see that his promise is fulfilled, not only to the letter, but in the spirit.
– I hesitate to address myself again to this question, but if I did not, a misconception might possibly be allowed to take root. No promise has been made by me with regard to this matter that did not express the intention adopted long ago as part of the policy of the Government. I intended from the first to take a course which would settle this vexed question ; and cordially re-echo and agree with the remarks of my right honorable friend the member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, that the whole Continent, as well as the State of NewSouth Wales, desires to see it settled once and for all. As far as lies in our power, what we proposed to do originally, and what we still propose to do, is to commence next week in this House, and endeavour, if possible, before its end, to get a conclusion arrived at by honorable members in regard to the selection of the site. If we are fortunate enough to succeed in that, the proposal of this House would then be put before the other Chamber the week after. The Senate will have the whole of next week to dispose of the various Appropriation Bills before them - the principal Appropriation Bill, that relating to works and buildings, and the two minor Bills relating to arrears. Those measures will occupy the time of the Senate during next week. If this House is fortunate enough to make its selection of the site - as I hope will be the case ; if necessary sitting late and long for that purpose - then, in the week following, the members of another place will have an opportunity of agreeing or of disagreeing with us ; whilst we on our part shall take up the Defence Bill, and the minor measures that are still before Parliament. That business will occupy us while the Senate is considering the question of the site. If the Senate agrees with what we have done, practically the work of the session is over, and we shall depart. If the Senate does not agree - though I cordially hope they will - we shall take steps to endeavour to arrive at some harmonious agreement. Nothing will be lacking on the part of the Ministry to arrive at such a conclusion. It is possible, of course, that the Senate may refuse to come to any decision. It is also possible that this House may do the same ; although I think, from my knowledge of the feeling of honorable members on both sides, and of public sentiment in the country, neither House will receive any encouragement to prolong the indefinite and unsatisfactory state in which this matter stands. The Government desire to get the question settled and out of the way as speedily as possible. It has been part of their policy from the first to remove this vexed question from the arena of politics, and I hope that the policy we shall submit to the country will not be interfered with by the intrusion of any other issue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented (by Sir William Lyne) and read a first time.
Resolutions of W ays and Means to make good supply granted for the services of the years 1901-2 and 1902-3 adopted.
Bill presented (by Sir George Turner) and passed through all its stages.
Bill presented (by Sir George Turner) and passed through all its stages.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 30th September, vide page 5626) :
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “119a. It shall be the duty of all patentees and their assigns and legal representatives and of allpersons making or vending any patented article, for or under them, to give sufficient notice to the public that the same is patented, either by fixing thereon the word ‘ patented ‘ together with the day and year the patent was granted and the number of the patent ; or when from the character of the article this cannot be done, by fixing to it or to the package wherein one or more of them is enclosed a label containing the like notice ; and in any suit for infringement by the part)’ failing so to mark, no damages shall be recovered by the plaintiff except on proof that the defendant was duly notified of the infringement, and continued after such notice to make use or vend the article so patented.”
The object of this clause is to prevent any action for an infringement of a patent being taken by a patentee unless he marks upon the patent the fact that it is patented. The provision is taken from the revised statutes in America, where it has been found to work admirably. Hitherto a number of bogus patents have been issued, and held in ierrorem over people who have been using inventions which they did not know were patented. I have adopted the provision in vogue in America, with one variation, which was in the nature of a suggestion that I saw in the Law Quarterly Review of July last. As the Prime Minister does not oppose the amendment, it is unnecessary for me to say anything further.
– I should like to know the exact meaning of this clause. For instance, it is declared that the word “ patented “ shall not appear on an article unless it be patented. But where is it to be patented ?
– This relates, of course, to patents taken out in the Commonwealth.
– The word “patented” might appear on an article which had been patented not in the Commonwealth, but, for example, in the United States of America, and I desire to know whether any difficulty will be created.
– If an article patented elsewhere is imported into Australia with the word “ patented “ upon it, will this provision interfere with the sale of it?
– If the honorable member looks at the interpretation clause he will see that it is there provided that “ patented article “ means an article patented in the Commonwealth, and the whole of this clause turns on patented articles.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 9a (1) The Commissioner may, in relation to any particular matters or class of matters or to any particular State or part of the Commonwealth, by writing under his hand, delegate all or any of his powers under this Act (except this power of delegation) to a Deputy Commissioner, so that the delegated powers may be exercised by him with respect to the matters or class of matters or the State or part of the Commonwealth specified in the instrument of delegation. “ (2) Every delegation under this section shall be revocable at will, and no delegation shall prevent the exercise of any power by the Commissioner.”
If honorable members turn to clause 12 they will see that we have omitted paragraph (e), which gave the Commissioner the right to delegate any of his powers to a Deputy Commissioner. It seemed to be too important a power to include with the Commissioner’s authority to summon witnesses and receive evidence, and accordingly it has been placed in this special clause. We have particularized it so that in delegating any authority the Commissioner will indicate the particular matters, or class of matters, or the particular part of the Commonwealth to which his delegation is to extend. The power is the same as that originally provided in clause 12, save that the Commissioner is now given an opportunity to adjust it to the necessities of each case. It might otherwise have been assumed that “ delegation of powers” meant a delegation of all powers over all the Commonwealth. This delegation probably will be chiefly used, in the first instance at all events, in the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner in each State, who, until the whole system becomes completely unified, will be able to act in such matters as the Commissioner thinks fit to intrust to him.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “18a A patent may be transferred in the form and in the manner prescribed by indorsement on the back thereof, signed by the proprietor and the transferee, and on the production of such patent so indorsed the Commissioner shall cause the transfer to be registered.”
The object of my amendment is to facilitate the transfer of patent rights. At present the cost of transfer is, in some cases, far greater than the cost of taking out the patent itself. In very many instances holders of patents who may happen to be impecunious are utterly prohibited from transferring a right which may be of some value, although not valuable enough to justify the large expenditure at times involved in preparing the various deeds necessary to enable a transfer to be made. I wrote to the late Minister for Trade and Customs some time ago, suggesting that when he was drafting this Bill he should embody in it some such simple reform as this. The right honorable member apparently did not think it worth while to adopt my suggestion, but I would remind the Committee that the reform, if it is a reform, is one which we have carried out in relation to transfers involving very much larger suras than are usually associated with the transfer of a patent. It has been introduced into our land laws by what is known as the Torrens transfer system. One can transfer property of very great value at a cost of about ten shillings, exclusive of the tax. Life assurance policies may also be transferred by indorsement, while one scrip, perhaps of the value of £100,000, may be transferred by a duly witnessed indorsement. It seems to me that we might well adopt this very simple expedient in order to facilitate the transfer of patents. It would be a very great concession to poor holders of patents, who have already received much consideration at the hands of the Committee.
– How would the amendment operate where a patentee had assigned his interest in some patent ?
– There are other provisions in the Bill which deal with assignments.
– But how would it operate if a patentee desired to assign only a proportion of his interest in a patent?
– I am not a lawyer, but I think that the patentee in such a case would require to have a deed drawn up setting forth the interests of the several parties. But if a man were the original patentee, and still held the patent right, he would beable under this amendment to transfer it at a cost of 5s. or 10s. I was obliged on one occasion to take over some patents in New South Wales, and in one case the transfer cost me over £20. I had to go to the Patent Office - just as one was called upon to visit the Titles Office in connexion with the transfer of land under the old system - with a bundle of documents tracing the holders of the patent from first to last, and showing the various releases and liens upon it. We should have a system under which patents would be retained in the office of the Registrar, and a certificate issued setting forth that “ A.B.” is the holder of letters patent, giving him the privilege of a certain invention. Under that system, if “A.B.” wished to dispose of his rights, he would simply have to write on the back of the certificate a statement of transfer to “C.D.,” who would have the transfer registered for a small fee, and thus complete the transaction. At present transfers have to pass through the hands of lawyers, who are called upon to display much ability in tracing the various holders of the patent rights, and in drawing up long deeds of recital. The adoption of my proposal will confer a great boon upon a very large number of holders of patents, who are unable at present to do anything with them because of the cost of the transfer.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “42a. (1) An appeal shall lie to the High Court or the Supreme Court from any decision of the Commissioner under the preceding section. “(2) The Court shall hear the applicant and the Commissioner, and shall decide whether and subject to what conditions, if any, the application and specification shall be accepted.”
Clause 42 did not provide for an appeal from the decision of the Commissioner. The amended clause embodies most of the provisions of clauses 42 and 43, with the exception of sub-clause b of clause 43, in regard to which I shall submit a proposal at another sitting.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 82a. Every patent shall be granted subject to the following conditions : -
That if the patented article is reasonably capable of beingcommercially constructed ormanufactured,or the in ven tion patented is reasonably capable of being commercially worked in Australia, the patentee or some person authorized by him shall within five years after the date thereof commence and after such commencement continuously carry on in Australia the construction or manufacture of the patented article or the working of the invention patented in such a manner that any person may obtain the patented article or the use of the invention at a reasonable price : and
What is desired is that when a monopoly is granted in the Commonwealth the patentee, or some person authorized by him, shall, if required, commence and continuously carry on the construction or manufacture of the patented article within Australia. The enormous development of chemical manufactories in Germany, now one of the most prosperous elements of the trade of that country, is largely due to the restrictive provisions of the German patent law. Formerly Great Britain controlled many of the most valuable and profitable chemical manufactories, but when the patentees found that they were under no restriction to manufacture in that country, while they were required to manufacture in Germany, they were induced to remove their operations to the latter country, to which they have proved one of the most prolific sources of wealth. Another illustration of the same result is the manufacture of linotypes, the patent rights in which, owing te the provisions in the German law, were purchased for about £150,000 in that country as compared with something like £800,000 paid for the patent rights in the United Kingdom, and possibly some of its dependencies, and it is understood that the development of linotype manufactories in that country is largely due to the provisions of its patent law. The principle underlying the clause is so important that, in order to insure its acceptance, I have introduced conditions which will make it operative only in cases in which it is evidently not injurious to the legitimate interests of the patentee. For instance, the patented article must be reasonably capable of being commercially constructed or manufactured, or the invention patented reasonably capable of being commercially worked within the Commonwealth. The condition as to the working of a patent within the Commonwealth need not be complied with if the consumption of the patented article within Australia would be too small, or if some necessary element would be so expensive that its manufacture here would be an injury to the patentee, and involve an increase in the price of the article.
– Who is to determine that 1
– It would be determined by the Commissioner in the first case, and, on appeal, by the Court.
– Such a provision will supply a splendid lot of problems for the High Court.
– It might be made conditional upon trades of a similar character being carried on within the Commonwealth.
– I do not think it desirable to narrow the provision in that way. It might be possible to establish a new industry upon conditions favourable to the patentee, and it would be unwise to impose any restriction such as the honorable and learned member suggests. There is no desire, under this power, to extract anything more then can reasonably be claimed. Surely when a person is being granted a monopoly, it is reasonable for us to say - “Take your monopoly and enjoy it, but if you can manufacture your patent with commercial success within the Commonwealth you will be called upon, in return for the monopoly you enjoy, to supply the requirements of the community by manufacturing here.” That seems to be only reasonable, and the conditions under which it is proposed to make the demand of the patentee, appear to remove the chief objections which apparently led honorable members in another place to strike out the clause. These amendments I propose will require to be embodied twice within the clause and also in the patent itself . With safeguards which I have indicated to honorable members, I believe that the provision will afford a means of legitimately increasing the productions of the Commonwealth, that it will result in advantage to our industries and to our people, and, at the same time, inflict no undue hardship upon the patentees.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- The Prime Minister did not mention that the amendments agreed to in clause 83 almost dispense with the necessity for this new clause.
– That was because I did not desire to enter into the whole question again.
– Clause 83, as amended last night, provides that the Court shall decide whether the price at which a patent is sold is a reasonable one. If it is found that it is sold at an oppressive or unreasonable price, after two years from the ‘time of issuing the patent, a compulsory licence may be granted so that any person in the Commonwealth may manufacture it. The Court also has power to absolutely revoke the patent. Notwithstanding that drastic alteration which goes far beyond the English law, the Prime Minister now asks us to agree to a provision which is not to be found in any Patent Acts except those of Canada and Germany. I am informed that the provision in the Canadian Act has proved a dead letter. A similar provision was embodied in some of the South Australian Patent Acts, but proved inoperative. It was recognised that if it were enforced, it could only lead to an increase in the price of the patented article. For instance, honorable members must realize that it would not pay the Singer Manufacturing Company to manufacture their sewing machines within the Commonwealth. The same remark would apply to the manufacture of linotypes. It is only by centralizing their work that these great manufacturing firms can turn out an article at a small cost. The Singer Manufacturing Company have been able to establish a successful branch in only one place, namely, Scotland. There is no necessity for this provision, which amounts to protection and nothing else. It is not required to tone down the effects of the monopoly granted by a patent, but is an attempt to enforce the local manufacture of articles in respect of which we have granted patent rights. Although no working conditions are imposed upon patentees in the United States, the greater part of the time of the SupremeCourt is taken up in dealing with actions relating to patents. There is no doubt that during the last twenty or thirty years an enormous number of patent actions have been dealt with in America. Nearly the whole of the jurisdiction of some of the district Courts is monopolised by patent actions, and similar results would be brought about here. Among other questions which the Courts would be called upon to determine here would be the question, for instance, whether a patent machine could be manufactured at a fair price, and such questions must lead to endless litigation. The patentees would be subjected to continual harassment, and I hope that honorable members will not consent to pass such an anomalous and drastic provision.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I should have thought that every possible security - more than was desirable - had been afforded by the amendments which were accepted last night. Under the provisions referred to by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, if a foreign patentee did not consider it desirable to manufacture in the Commonwealth, it would be competent for any one whothought he could successfully manufacture the article to apply for a compulsory” licence to enable him to do so. Now we are asked to insert another provision which would have this effect. . If it did not pay any one in the Commonwealth to apply for a compulsory licence, and it did not pay the patentee himself to manufacture within the Commonwealth, the patent might be revoked. That would mean that any person manufacturing in a place where there was no patent law, such as Holland, could gain the advantage of the patent in our market, in spite of the money spent by the patentee in registering the patent within the Commonwealth.
– The Attorney-General must be satisfied that there is injury tq the trade or manufactures of the Commonwealth before proceedings for revocation of the patent are taken. That is provided for in Clause 82b, which imposes a restriction upon the proceedings.
– That does not affect my argument. We know that many patents do not assume any great value until after the patentee has spent many years in creating demand, and that frequently it is only during the lastyear or so of the period for which the patent is issued that the patentee receives any return for his ingenuity and enterprise. In other words, the patentee has. to work his patent into repute. It is now proposed that if at the end of that period the patentee has achieved success and worked up a demand for his article in the Commonwealth, the patent shall be subject to revocation. A patent may be revoked before the patentee has been able to secure sufficient outlet to permit of his establishing works within the Commonwealth. I donot think that is a fair provision. Moreover, it is to be left to the Court to decide whether a patent can be commercially and profitably manufactured within the Commonwealth. That is a very delicate question to be decided by any court.
The patent may be essential to the carrying on of certain industries, and if the cost of manufacture is increased through the requirement that it shall be made within the Commonwealth serious injury may be inflicted. The decision of the Court may have the effect of impeding the progress of industry. If a patent were not manufactured in Australia, more than sufficient security would be given to the public, because any person could obtain the right to manufacture under a compulsory licence. I object to the provision in the first place, because there is no necessity for it; secondly, because the High Court would be called upon to settle very delicate and difficult questions; and thirdly, because it would operate, not only unjustly towards the patentees, but injuriously to the best interests of the Commonwealth.
– I thoroughly sympathize with the views expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney. There are many classes of patented plant and machinery which must be obtained from abroad. For instance, the plant used in meat works is in nearly all cases imported from America. Most of the machinery has been patented in America, and is also protected by patent rights throughout Australia. The Americansare very sharp business people, and if they found it to their advantage to make this machinery in the Commonwealth they would do so apart from any legislation. If we enacted that all patented machinery should be made within the Commonwealth, we should practically prohibit the introduction of much valuable plant, and thus make a very grave mistake. If an attempt were made to manufacture within the Commonwealth all the machinery we required, the cost would be very largely increased, and I do not see that any good object would be served by passing the clause.
– I wish to add my protest to the objections which have already been urged against this clause being restored to the Bill. It was very properly rejected in another Chamber.
– But the honorable member must not forget that I am modifying it.
– I cannot quite follow the modifications, because they do not appear in print. It would be difficult for me to conceive of any modifications that would remove the objections which I have to the clause. It seems to me that any such provision would result in increasing the cost of patented machinery, and that the effects would be the reverse of beneficial to our industries. In a great many instances patentees have been unable to get their patented articles manufactured within the Commonwealth except at a much greater expense. As has been already pointed out, the community is largely protected by the clauses to which the Committee agreed at a previous sitting. I therefore hope that the proposal of the Prime Minister will be rejected.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority… … … 3
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “82b. No proceedings shall be institutedfor the revocation of a patent for any breach of the provisions of the preceding section except in the High Court and by the Attorney-General, and then only in case the Attorney - General is satisfied that the breach is injurious to the trade or manufacturers of the Commonwealth.”
First schedule consequentially amended and agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for
External Affairs). - As the House has dealt so generously with the Government, I have pleasure in moving -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next, upon the understanding that on that day honorable members will come prepared to debate at once and finally the question of the proposed seat of government of the Commonwealth. Of course it will be impossible to take a vote upon the matter on Tuesday evening, but I trust there will be no delay upon any grounds whatever in arriving at a decision. I hope that the two questions - the method to be adopted in selecting the site, and the relative merits of the different sites - will be dealt with at once.
– It may be necessary to adopt that coarse later, but it will not be necessary to do so upon the first night. If, in the meantime, honorable members will be good enough to address themselves to the information which is contained in the report which was circulated to-day they will be in a position to recommend to the House the sites which they feel they ought to recommend. When we commence to vote upon the sites, I hope it will be agreed that there shall be no more debate.
– Has the Bill been circulated yet?
– It will be circulated tonight. It consists of only one clause, and contains a blank which the House will be asked to fill.
– Why do the Government themselves not accept the responsibility of filling in the blank?
– I am perfectly prepared to accept that responsibility, but do not think it would be a proper course to adopt in this case. No question of Ministerial prestige, influence, or any personal consideration whatever, should be involved in the determination of this question. I trust that honorable members will mark the order of their preference for the different sites, viewing the matter from an Australian stand-point. When we have decided the method of selection to be adopted, I trust that an exhaustive discussion will then take place upon the respective merits of the different sites, and that we shall then proceed to vote, vote, vote, until we have reached finality. If we mingle the two questions - that is to say, take a vote on one site and then have a discussion upon the merits of other sites, take another vote and have a further discussion - we shall never reach finality. But if honorable members will be content to at once debate the merits of the sites finally - and I trust that we shall have attentive Houses throughout -when the discussion is finished we ought to be in a position to vote and to continue voting until we get an absolute majority in favour of one site.
– One Capital site, one speech.
– Exactly. I sincerely trust that honorable members will meet next week with a determination to dispose of this exceedingly vexed question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I trust that we shall all be prepared, on Tuesday next, to give earnest consideration to the question of the selection of the capital site, with the full intention of carrying it through to a conclusion.
– Not with only half a House.
– It cannot be determined by a thin House, because it is thoroughly understood by all of us that we are not to proceed to a vote until Wednesday at the earliest.
– We are to vote after Tuesday.
– Yes ; that is, on Wednesday next, or subsequently.
– We may hope to have a full House on Wednesday next, when we shall probably enter upon the consideration of this question with a view to its final determination. I have had nothing to say so far in relation to this matter, but as one of the members of the Conference of Premiers at which it was agreed to insert the provision in the Constitution relating to the site of the capital, I feel that it is especially my duty to see that nothing is done to baulk the intention of the people as pronounced by their vote on the Constitution Bill. We have to think not only of New South Wales, but of Victoria, to both of whom we are pledged, and to both of whom, I hope, we shall show that we have the fullest intention to keep the bond.
– Inwhat way are we pledged to Victoria ?
– Although there is nothing in the Constitution to show that we are pledged to Victoria, we. are indirectly pledged to her in so far as we have agreed that the capital site shall be not less than 100 miles from Sydney. I understand that that was a concession made to a feeling on the part of Victoria.
– And some of the other States.
– I do not understand the statement made by the Prime Minister that we shall have to consider, on Tuesday next, the method in which the vote shall be taken. I was under the impression that the House had practically settled that question by resolution.
– I hope so ; but the method of selection provided for in the resolution to which the right honorable gentleman refers was to be adopted at a Conference of both Houses. We shall probably have to agree to adopt the same course, or a course which will be practically the same.
– I trust that the question will be finally dealt with within the next few days.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he can furnish the House with more information with respect to the suggested sites than has already been supplied to honorable members. The honorable and learned gentleman’s predecessor promised that, in addition to the evidence taken by the Commission of experts, the minutes of their meetings and certain exhibits handed in by witnesses should also be furnished to the House. I wish to know whether that promise is to be fulfilled.
– If there is one question more than another which ought to be considered when we are determining the site of the Federal Capital, it is the question of cost. But, so far as I have been able to discover, the papers which have been circulated give no estimate of what will be the cost of the Capital. I understand that the late Prime Minister, in reply to a deputation representing the Shire Councils of Victoria which recently waited upon him, stated that the cost would not exceed £500,000; but in the course of the discussion of this question which took place on a motion submitted to the House some days ago, it was said that it would be £10,000,000. That estimate was generally accepted. I should like the Treasurer to give us an estimate of what the cost is likely to be before we are asked to decide this question. It would be very unfair to call upon honorable members to make a selection in the absence of information as to whether the cost will be £500,000, £10,000,000, or more. The question of cost will certainly affect my vote. If the cost is to amount to £10,000,000,I do not think that we should at present select a site, and that is the position which many honorable members may take up. I would ask the Prime Minister to say whether it is not possible to put before the House a definite statement as to the expenditure to be incurred, and how the necessary funds are to be raised. It will be difficult for us to determine the site of the Capital next week, unless we know how the necessary funds are to be raised. I do not think that we could now provide £10,000,000 for such a work, and I trust that before a selection is made the Treasurer will furnish us with an. estimate of the cost. Unless he does so we shall be very much in the dark in deciding this question.
– The only bearing which the question of expense at this stage can have upon the proposals to be submitted to the House next week is in so far as it relates to the consideration whether the Federal buildings would cost more at one site than at another. Some people speak anxiously of the cost of the Federal Capital ; but that depends upon what it will comprise. It may consist merely of two simple Chambers in which Parliament will meet, with the necessary Government offices, and, somewhere near at hand, accommodation for. honorable members. Those buildings may be constructed of any material. They may be of the utmost simplicity, or they may be designed to last for any time. The question of what shall be spent upon the capital will rest entirely with the people of Australia and their representatives. The representatives of the people will spend as little or as much as the people please to authorize ; but no one can now offer a precise opinion that would be worthy of a moment’s consideration as to the actual cost of the capital until we have determined its size, its area, the nature of its buildings, the date at which we shall go there, the water supply, temporary or permanent, to he obtained, and the communication, if any, to be established. Each of these items requires to be considered before we come to any estimate of cost.
– We are to make a selection regardless of the cost ?
– In making a selection we shall regard the cost of the land. We have information bearing upon that point as well as general information as to the cost of providing a water supply. The site, however, will be selected without reference to the kind of Federal city which is to be erected upon it. The question whether it shall be of the bark -hut order of architecture, or consist of marble halls, will rest with the people. The only matter to be determined next week is where the Federal city - whatever it is, and whenever it is to be occupied - shall be.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he will cause the estimates of the cost of the resumption of land within the several suggested areas to be printed ? The late Prime Minister promised to have that information put before the House.
– They are not very lengthy documents, and I think that they can be printed by Tuesday next. That is one element of expense which we shall have to consider ; it depends on the area to be acquired.
– Are we going to determine the area to be taken over?
– We are to deal with one question at a time. We are first of all to determine the site of the capital ; the next question for our consideration will be the exact area to be acquired.
– How and when do the Government propose to deal with the second question?
– The question of area cannot be dealt with this session, because it will give rise to a number of other considerations as to the sources of water supply, their development, and so forth. It may also raise the question of communication.
– The question of the area to be taken over may affect the selection of a site.
– We shall have before us reports as to the areas of Crown lands which are available, and honorable members will be entitled to take those reports into consideration. We ought also to consider, at all events, whatever our authority may be in the matter, the willingness of New South
Wales to part with any larger area than that to which we are absolutely entitled under the Constitution. It might be desirable in some cases to take over a very much larger area than that named in the Constitution. I hope we shall.
– Would New South Wales be able to prevent our buying land ?
– The Government do not anticipate that there will be very much Crown land within the site selected ?
– There are fairlylarge areas of Crown lands within or just beyond some of the proposed sites.
– These are at present all secondary considerations. Once we have determined where the capital shall be, we shall have to consider its area and the land to be taken over, the date of occupation, the question of water supply, the means of communication, and a variety of other issues. But we must first fix the site of the capital. The question to be determined next week is where the capital shall be. Once we have dealt with that matter we shall be on the high road to a full and free discussion upon the other issues.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that the question of area has some bearing on the question of site ?
– Indirectly only.
– It would influence my vote.
– It can have only an indirect bearing on the general question of the site. We surely cannot commence to debate the question whether we shall take over 1 00 or 1,000 square miles before we decide where the capital shall be? Having determined that question with some regard to all these other matters, but without attempting to finally dispose of them, we shall have to consider what we are to spend upon the capital, and when and how we shall expend it.
– After making a selection, we might be disposed to hark back on account of the decision as to area.
Mr.DEAKIN.- That is possible, although very improbable. The honorable member for Canobolas inquired for certain information as to the minutes of the meetings of the Commission of Experts, and, in accordance with the promise of the late Prime Minister, I shall have them laid on the table of the House when they are procured.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19031001_reps_1_17/>.