2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m. pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Clerk announced that he had re ceived returns to the writs issued for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
The Usher of the Black Rod being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message, that the Commissioner appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General requested the immediate attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned :
The Clerk informed the House that His Excellency the Governor-General had been pleased to issue a Commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, P.C., G.C.M.G, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Commissioner having entered the chamber,
The Clerk read the Commission.
The following honorable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance : -
Bamford, Frederick William (Herbert,Queensland).
Batchelor, Egerton Lee (Boothby, South
Blackwood, Robert Officer (Riverina, New South Wales).
Bonython, Sir John Langdon (Barker, South Australia).
Brown, Thomas (Canobolas, New South Wales).
Carpenter, William Henry (Fremantle, Western Australia).
Chapman, Hon. Austin (Eden-Monaro, New South Wales).
Conroy, Alfred Hugh (Werriwa, New South Wales).
Cook, James Newton Haxton Hume (Bourke, Victoria).
Cook,. Joseph (Parramatta, New South’ Wales).
Crouch, Richard Armstrong (Corio, Victoria).
Culpin, Millice (Brisbane, Queensland).
Deakin, Hon. Alfred (Ballarat, Victoria).
Edwards, George Bertrand (South Sydney, New South Wales).
Edwards, Richard (Oxley, Queensland).
Ewing, Thomas Thomson (Richmond, New South Wales).
Fisher, Andrew (Wide Bay, Queensland).
Forrest,. Rt. Hon. Sir John, P.C., G.C.M.G. (Swan, Western Australia).
Fowler, James MacKinnon (Perth, Western Australia).
Frazer, Charles Edward (Kalgoorlie, Western Australia).
Fuller, George Warburton (Illawarra, New South Wales).
Fysh, Hon. Sir Philip Oakley, K.C.M.G. (Denison, Tasmania).
Gibb, James (Flinders, Victoria),.
Glynn, Patrick McMahon (Angas, South Australia).
Groom, Littleton Ernest(Darling Downs, Queensland).
Harper, Robert (Mernda, Victoria).
Higgins, Henry Bournes, K.C. (Northern Melbourne, Victoria).
Holder, Hon. Sir Frederick William, K.C.M.G. (Wakefield, South Australia).
Hutchison, James (Hindmarsh, South Australia).
Isaacs’, Hon. Isaac Alfred, K.C. (Indi, Victoria).
Johnson, William Elliot (Lang, New South Wales).
Kelly, William Henry (Wentworth, New South Wales).
Kennedy, Thomas (Moira, Victoria).
Kingston, Rt. Hon. Charles Cameron, P.C., K.C. (Adelaide, South Australia).
Knox, William (Kooyong, Victoria).
Lee, Henry William (Cowper, New South Wales).
Liddell, Frank (Hunter, New South Wales).
Lyne, Hon. Sir William John, K.C.M.G. (Hume, New South Wales).
Mahon, Hugh (Coolgardie, Western Australia).
Mauger, Samuel (Melbourne Ports,Victoria).
McGay, Hon. James Whiteside (Corinella, Victoria).
McColl, Hon. James Hiers (Echuca, Victoria).
McDonald, Charles (Kennedy, Queensland).
McEacharn, Sir Malcolm Donald (Melbourne, Victoria).’
McLean, Hon. Allan (Gippsland, Victoria).
McWilliams, William James (Franklin, Tasmania).
O’Malley, King (Darwin, Tasmania).
Page, James (Maranoa, Queensland).
Phillips, Pharez Hon. (Wimmera, Victoria).
Poynton, Alexander (Grey, South Australia).
Quick, Sir John (Bendigo, Victoria).
Reid, Rt. Hon. George Houston, P.C., K.C. (East Sydney, New South Wales).
Robinson, Arthur (Wannon, Victoria).
Ronald, James Black (Southern Melbourne, Victoria).
Salmon, Hon. Charles Carty (Laanecoorie, Victoria).
Skene, Thomas (Grampians, Victoria).
Smith, Hon. Sydney (Macquarie, New South Wales).
Spence, William Guthrie (Darling, New South Wales).
Storrer, David (Bass, Tasmania).
Thomas, Josiah (Barrier, New South Wales).
Thomson, David Alexander (Capricornia,Queensland).
Thomson, Dugald (North Sydney, New South Wales).
Tudor, Frank Gwynne (Yarra, Victoria).
Turner, Rt. Hon. Sir George, P.C., K.C.M.G. (Balaclava, Victoria).
Watkins, David (Newcastle, New South Wales).
Watson, John Christian (Bland, New South Wales).
Webster, William (Gwydir, New South Wales).
Wilkinson, James (Moreton, Queensland).
Wilks, William Henry (Dalley, New South Wales).
Willis, Henry (Robertson, New South Wales).
Wilson, John Gratton (Corangamite, Victoria).
The Commissioner then withdrew.
– I move -
That the Hon. Sir Frederick William Holder, K.C.M.G., do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
The precedent of other Parliaments, already followed by this House, is that the nomination of the Speaker shall be made and supported by members not holding office; but as I understand that there is no likelihood of opposition being offered to the election of the honorable gentleman who has hitherto filled that high position, it seems to me fitting that our choice should be expressed in a manner somewhat more formal than has been customary. In this honorable members with whom I have consulted have agreed. In submitting the motion I need not add a single word in its support addressed to those who were members of the late Parliament. To those who have to-day, for the first time, entered this House, I may say that absolute equity, as well as marked and -masterly ability, has been displayed by Sir Frederick Holder in the discharge of the duties of Speaker. I have, therefore, the greatest pleasure in submitting the motion.
– I have great pleasure in seconding the motion. I am gratified to be able to say that the Speaker in the first Federal Parliament was successful in earning the entire confidence and approval of honorable members belonging to all political parties. I may, perhaps, be permitted to add that in the midst of the congratulations which I shall presently offer to the Speaker on his re-election there will be a certain tinge of regret, because I feel that the distinguished capacity for public affairs of the honorable member who is the subJect of the present motion, is such that his removal from the arena of active politics will be a great loss to the people of Australia. Whilst, however, I feel that sensation of regret in the midst Of our unanimity of praise and congratulation, I wish also to say that honorable members on this side of the House view, with great pleasure and satisfaction, the confidence which the second Federal Parliament is now showing in the Speaker of the first Federal Parliament.
– On behalf of the members of the Labour Party I have great pleasure in supporting the motion. I have not had that experience of Parliamentary affairs which has fallen to the share of the mover and the seconder of the motion, but I have been sufficiently long in Parliament to be ‘able to appreciate the advantage both to the public and to the Parliament of having as a Speaker a man of conspicuous fairness and ability such as Sir Frederick Holder, and I trust that he may long be available to exercise those powers which he so ably devoted to the discharge of the duties of his high office in the past Parliament.
– I do not rise with the object of striking any discordant note at this stage ; but I think that the House ought to be made aware of what I believe to be a constitutional impediment to the occupancy by Sir Frederick Holder, not merely of the office of Speaker, but of the position of a member of this House. It is with considerable regret that I- direct attention to this matter, because no one recognises more fully than I do the impartiality and ability displayed by Sir Frederick Holder. But it is quite clear from the facts which I shall have the honour to submit that the honourable member has contravened a section of the Constitution. On the 23rd November, 1903, the last House of Representatives was dissolved, and Sir Frederick Holder then ceased to be a member ; and, having ceased to be a member, he ceased to be Speaker. On the 3rd December Sir Frederick Holder was re-elected as a member of this Parliament. During the interval between the dates mentioned Sir Frederick Holder drew the usual allowance made to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, although at the time he was neither Speaker nor a- member of this House. I do not wish to delay the House, and therefore do not propose to do more than make a brief statement with the object of recalling to the minds of honorable members the terms of section 45 of the, Constitution, which reads as follows : -
If a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives . . . directly or indirectly takes ot agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth … his place shall thereupon become vacant. .
To my mind, three points are worthy of attention. In the first place, we have to ascertain the exact meaning of the words “ fee or honorarium,” and in the second place to consider what is implied by the phrase “ services rendered to the Commonwealth.” Webster’s Dictionary defines a “fee” as a reward for services performed, or to be performed, and “ hon;orarium “ as a fee offered to a professional man for his services. I hold the view that by accepting an allowance or fee between the two dates to which I have referred, when he was neither Speaker nor member of Parliament, Sir Frederick Holder has contravened the section of the Constitution from which I have quoted.
– But how’ does that section affect the case when Sir Frederick Holder was not a member of this House?
– I have not quite arrived at that point. I wish to direct honorable members’ attention to the meaning of the phrase “ services rendered to the Commonwealth.” I take it that any service rendered to this House is a service to the Commonwealth; and if Sir Frederick Holder, during the interval referred to, performed any official duty at all, he must have rendered a service to the Commonwealth. It could not have been a service to the last House of Representatives, because that House had ceased to exist, and it could not have been a service to this House, because this House had not come into existence. Therefore, I hold that if Sir Frederick Holder performed any service as Speaker, or any service such as is usually performed by a
Speaker, such service must have been rendered to the Commonwealth, and I respectfully submit that in accepting a fee or honorarium for it he has contravened the Constitution.
– But on the honorable member’s own showing, he was not’ a member of Parliament at the time.
– On the 3rd December he again became a member of Parliament, and the allowance which he drew covered not only the interval between the 23rd November, but the whole period up to the end of December.
– How could we settle this question without a Chairman ?
– I presume that no settlement could be arrived at to-day ; but, having made this discovery, I considered it my duty to place it before the House at the earliest possible moment. There is one more question to be considered. Is the vote which was passed by this House in the Appropriation Bill,’ in the extraordinary form of a note not recognised in the text of the measure, strictly constitutional ? I do not wish to argue that point now. But whether or not the House did right in voting the Speaker a certain sum as payment for services rendered, I do hold that Sir Frederick Holder, by receiving the money, has forfeited his seat as a member of this House. To my mind there can be no reasonable doubt upon that point. Any contention that the money was given as a gratuity I shall be prepared to rebut by proof at a later stage, and I apprehend that some ulterior action is desirable, both in the interests of the House and of the honorable member concerned. I do not wish to interfere with the election of the Speaker, but I consider that a matter which many honorable members regard as a constitutional impediment to Sir Frederick Holder’s occupancy of the office, and of the position of a member ot this House, should receive early attention.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - I think that the honorable member for Coolgardie, holding the opinion he does has taken a proper course. After having listened to him, and having glanced at the Constitution, I would point out that if his argument is good it goes a great deal further than, perhaps, he realizes. That may or may not be an argument in favour of its soundness. If his argument is pushed to the full extent, it might be difficult to find any authority in the Constitution for the payment of any allowance to the Speaker or Chairman.
– I am relying upon section 45.
– However, as I say, the honorable member has taken his course, and since he has called attentionto the matter it will receive the fullest consideration. At the same time, whatever weight may attach to the case made out by the honorable member, affects not the action now proposed to be taken, but the position of Sir Frederick Holder as a member of this House. That is not a matter with which this House is competent to deal, but must be remitted to the High Court.
– I submit myself to the will of the House.
Members of the House calling Sir Frederick Holder, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Deakin and Mr. Reid, and conducted to the Chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - May I say that I feel very deeply the honour which has been conferred upon me in the House once more calling me to occcupy this extremely important position. When last I was chosen to fill this Chair very few honorable members knew much of me. Their disposition must have been that of hopefulness. To-day I have been once more chosen, but this time by the will and by the voice of those who have some knowledge of what I have done in the office of Speaker. I feel, therefore, that the action taken to-day is even a greater compliment to me than that of three years ago. I can only hope that, with the aid of individual members, and of all parties in the House, I may be able to raise the tone of debate and the reputation of the Chamber to such a level that they may compare favourably with those of any Parlliament in any part of the world. If by our co-operation we can secure the attainment of that result and its maintenance I think we shall have done somewhat for the country we love so well. I need only say, further, that I hope every member, and especially those who are now entering for the first time upon parliamentary life, will ever feel that I am the friend of honorable members. Irrespective of the question which may be under consideration, every honorable member has the right to seek from me such help as may be available in, the preparation of questions for the House, in accordance with the rules laid down by and the practice under our Standing Orders, and. I shall be pleased at all times to facilitate the work of any honorable member in that direction. I tender my most hearty thanks to the honorable the Prime Minister, to the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, and to honorable members generally-.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - Mr. Speaker, it becomes my privilege to address you for the first time by your official title in this Parliament, and desire to congratulate you upon the splendid unanimity with which you have been called to your position. As you have pointed out, your choice by former members of this House was not based upon knowledge. After three years’ experience we all share the conviction that the great rights and privileges of Parliament which are to a large extent intrusted to the Speaker could not be placed in better hands. Whilst felicitating you, I feel that congratulation is really due to the House, which has done honour to itself by the choice which it has made in again placing you in the position of the First Commoner of the Commonwealth.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I also heartily congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your re-election to your high and honorable office. If I may be permitted to make one more observation I should like, without any disparagement of Speakers of other Legislative bodies to say that as a rather old Parliamentary hand I have especially admired the way in which you, whilst wisely administering the rules of the House, have exercised greater severity towards old offenders like myself than towards younger members.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I need add nothing to what has already been stated, beyond congratulating you, Mr. Speaker, and assuring you of the earnest support of every member of the ‘labour party in any step that may be considered necessary to maintain the dignity of Parliament.
Mr. SPEAKER, accompanied by honorable members, proceeded to the Library to be presented to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and having returned to the Chamber, said : - I have to inform the House that, having waited with a number of honorable members upon His Excellency the Governor-General, I informed him of the fact of my election to the office of Speaker, whereupon His Excellency was kind enough to offer me his congratulations.
The Usher of the Black Rod being announced was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber.
Mr. SPEAKER and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
bill presented by Mr. Deakin, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the second reading of this Bill be made an order of the day for Tuesday next.
– I desire to know whether the Bill just presented is the Bill with which we are to be asked to deal.
– We have the complete Bill here?
– I am led to ask this question because at the opening of the last Parliament measures were formally introduced which consisted, in reality, of mere blank sheets of paper, and alterations were subsequently made. No objection was raised at the time, although I did not consider that the course then adopted was correct. I certainly do not desire to see on this occasion a repetition of that procedure.
– This Bill has been associated with the Navigation Bill, and the two are intended to be intimately connected. I desire, therefore, to know when we shall have an opportunity to examine the Navigation Bill?
– The Navigation Bill will be introduced, and will be the first measure to be dealt with in another place. The two measures will practically be before Parliament at the same time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Regulations under the Defence Act 1903.
Regulations under the Excise Act 1901.
Provisional regulations under the Patents Act 1903.
Bonuses for Manufacturers Bill - Report of the Royal Commission, together with the proceedings, minutes of evidence, and appendices.
Treasurers Conference - States debts, transferred properties, immigration, &c.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following papers : -
Audit Act 1901 - Schedule of transfers.
General Election, 16th December, 1903 - Statistics in regard to.
Public Service Act 1902 - Amendment of Regulations.
The Clerk laid upon the table copies of the following petitions received by him from the High Court, under section 202 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act: -
Chanter, J. M. v. Blackwood, R. O. (Riverina).
Maloney, W. v. McEacharn, Sir M. D. (Melbourne),.
Hirsch, M. v. Phillips, Hon. P.(Wimmera).
– I now rise, by leave, to ask the House to accept a resolution which I am sure will be unanimously, although regretfully, indorsed. I beg to move -
That this House desires to record its profound regret at the loss which the Commonwealth suffers in the death of the Right Honorable Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry Braddon, P.C., K.C.M.G., Member of the House of Representatives, and expresses its sincere condolence with his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
That Mr. Speaker be requested to convey the foregoing resolution to Lady Braddon.
Although as late associates of the right honorable gentleman in this Parliament, we had long been aware that the demands which he made upon his physical strength were in excess of those that could be safely borne, none of us had anticipated that after his recent successful campaign he would have been called from us before we had enjoyed the advantage of his presence in this. House. His death removes” from us one of the most marked and picturesque figures in the whole field of Australian politics. He came to us with a reputation as an administrator, earned under other skies, and from a high position which he had won solely by his own prowess and capacity. He stepped into the breach in an hour of danger in Hindustan, and it was by the signal force of character which he displayed at the time of its Great Mutiny that he was able to take the first steps in that career which afterwards became illustrious on this side ofthe world. He rapidly rose to the highest position in the island State in which he made his residence, speedily rising into notenot only for his achievements inlocal legislation, but from the fact that from its very inception he was one of the active leaders of the
Federal movement. As a member of the National Convention which drafted the Constitution under which the Commonwealth came into existence, and subsequently as a member of this House, and one of the leading lieutenants of the Opposition, he played a part signalized throughout by extreme courtesy to all his fellow members, coupled with a parliamentary ability which merited for him the high place he gained in the esteem and respect of the House. We can ill afford to part with men of affairs of such great and varied experience, men of scholarly and literary tastes, who have also made their mark in the field of practical achievement. They could ill be spared from any representative assembly in the world. His was a figure which any assembly must have been proud to possess, one which Ave shall long remember, and whose loss we all deplore.
– I think that the Government in taking the course they have followed, and the Prime Minister by the remarks which he has made in submitting this motion, have both pursued a line of conduct which commends itself to the feelings of the House. I desire to add but a few words to the graceful references which the honorable gentleman has made. It can be well understood, Mr. Speaker, that we deeply feel the loss which we on this side of the House have sustained, in common, .as the Prime Minister has justly said, with the House generally, and the whole of the people of Australia. A more loyal friend and ally - and I think I shall command the concurrence of all honorable members opposite, when I say a more honorable opponent - than the late right honorable member never lived.
– I believe that his history will fill a conspicuous place in the annals not only of the Commonwealth, but of the Empire. His was a singularly attractive and signally useful career. I am sure that we all feel reluctant to invade the sacred sorrow which must fill that home, in which he was loved so well, by the side of the Tasman Sea ; and yet we consider that it is our duty to place upon the records of the House an enduring monument to the worth of the departed statesman, and a record of our unfeigned sympathy with his widow and children.
– I am sure that all members of the House will join in the expressions of regret to which utterance has just been given by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. I do not suppose there is one honorable member, no matter to what party he may belong, who does not deeply deplore the removal from our midst of a gentleman so distinguished in politics, and, in other respects, in the Empire’s history, as was the late Sir Edward Braddon. I am sure that we all feel a desire that we may have many more men in the history of the British Empire who, in many different capacities, will help as the late right honorable member has done, to advance the name of Englishmen among the nations of the world. I join with those who have just spoken in expressing the deepest possible regret at his departure from amongst us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have to report to the House that I have attended in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency the GovernorGeneral was pleased to make a speech setting out the reasons’ why this Parliament has been summoned. As copies of His Excellency’s speech will be handed to honorable members presently, I will assume that it is their desire that it be taken as read.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That a committee consisting of Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr. Mauger, Sir Malcolm McEacharn, and Mr. Storrer, be appointed to prepare an Address in Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of Parliament.
The committee retired, and having reentered the chamber, presented the proposed address.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That on Friday in each week, unless otherwise ordered, general business shall be called on in tlie following order, viz. : -
On one Friday -
Notices of motion.
Orders of the day.
On the alternate Friday -
Orders of the day.
Notices of motion.
– I object to this motion, because it is well known that on Fridays many members leave Melbourne, so that any one who has private business on the notice-paper has no opportunity to get it discussed. I think that, as in the Senate,
Wednesday afternoons should be set apart for the discussion of private members’ business.
– Will the motion, if passed, compel us to sit on Fridays ?
– No; it merely determines the order of business on Fridays should the House be sitting.
– I hope that the House will not sit more than three days a week.
– The objection I have to the motion is that it will make the setting down of business by private members a farce. If private members are to have an opportunity to bring business before the House, it should be afforded on Thursday afternoons, between the hours of half-past 2 and 6 o’clock, at which hour Government business could take precedence, giving Fridays up also to Government business. If Friday be a Government day, a good attendance will be insured; but if it be set apart for private members’ business, the experience of the previous sessions will be’ repeated, and representatives living in New South Wales and South Australia, who can conveniently et away to their homes at the week end, will do so, making it impossible to take private members’ business for want of a quorum. In m, opinion it would be better to give no opportunity for the discussion of private members’ business than to make a farce of the matter by setting apart Fridays. I hope that Thursday afternoons will be set apart for private business, and I should like to move an amendment to that effect.
– As it seems likely that the motion will be discussed at some length, I think that the debate had better be adjourned until it can be resumed in connexion with the consideration of other similar motions of which I have given notice.- Perhaps some honorable member will move the adjournment ‘of the debate until then.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Watkins) adjourned.
Motions (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Committees, Mr. Kingston, Mr. McCay, Mr. McDonald, Mr. McLean, and Mr. Reid be members of the Standing Orders Committee; three to be the guorum
That Mr. Speaker, Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr. Glynn, Mr. Groom, Mr. Isaacs, Mr. Bruce Smith, and Mr. Spence be members of the Library Committee ; three to be the quorum.
That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Knox, Sir Malcolm McEacharn, Mr. Page, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and Mr. Salmon be members of the House Committee; three to be the quorum.
That Mr. Ewing, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Harper-, Mr. Poynton, Sir John Quick, Mr. Watkins, and Mr. Mahon be members of the Printing Committee; three to be the quorum.
The Address in Reply was read by the Clerk as follows: -
May it please Your Excellency,
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I move -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
I should like, at the outset, to heartily reciprocate, on behalf of honorable members, the good wishes expressed in the speech of His Excellency. I am sure that we all trust that the bountiful harvest to which he has alluded, and the good times which he has predicted, may be enjoyed by himself and his good lady, as well as by the community generally. I am sure, too, that honorable members join with the Government in the hope expressed that the war between Japan and Russia may soon terminate, and that the neutrality of Great Britain may be maintained. I agree that it is the duty of the Government to learn as much as possible from the experience of other nations, and I therefore hope that the intention to send an experienced military officer to the seat of war will be carried into effect. I trust, however, that the officer chosen will be an Australian. I am sorry that there has been an inclination on the part of those in authority to rather keep back officers of Australian, birth and training, and I hope, therefore, that the Government will require that an Australian soldier shall be sent on this important mission. I heartily congratulate the Treasurer upon the good work which he did in connexion with the recent Conference between him and the Treasurers of the States. The difficulties in the way of funding the debts of the States are exceedingly great, because the interests at stake vary so much, and the problems to be solved are so intricate. Still, a matter is in good hands when the righthonorable gentleman has charge of it, and although a great deal has not yet been accomplished, .1 look forward to the time when this work will be consummated. I hope that the Treasurer will have the honour of having brought about its consummation.
I have heard with pleasure the anticipation of the Government that the settlement of the question will lead to the early establishment of old-age pensions. Such an event is to be heartily welcomed, and I hope that the present Government will bring it about, so that we may have something more than a mere promise. Although there are Government Old-age Pensions Departments in some of the States, they are not all working satisfactorily, while there are States in which this great privilege - or right, as I should rather call it - is denied to the people.
– It is either a right or they have no claim to a pension at all.
– Surely every honorable member must have been pained to learn that a large number of old and worthy colonists cannot obtain pensions because they are living in parts of the Commonwealth other than those in which they were born. There has been quite a number of such cases, and there will be no satisfactory settlement of the difficulty until we’ establish a national system of pensions, making the pensions a right and not a mere dole. I am reminded by the Minister for Defence that the Minister for Home Affairs when in power there gave New South Wales its OldAge Pension Act. I hope that he will determine that the Cabinet of which he is now a member shall confer a similar benefit upon the Commonwealth. I heartily join in the congratulations expressed by the GovernorGeneral in regard to the bountiful harvest.
– Is there to be any legislation for that?
– More should be done to make proper use of this harvest. Water is now being allowed to waste and grass to wither which might be conserved with a view to prevent the recurrence of distress such as that which the community has recently experienced, and which, without such conservation, will assuredly overtake us again inthe future. It must be recognised by all who have travelled through the country that the fruits of the recent good season are not being conserved as they should be.
– The protectionists would not allow the farmers to obtain the machines necessary to do this work.
– What is required is foresight. The machinery now at our disposal is not being properly used in this direction. His Excellency’s speech introduced the all-important but controversial question of preferential trade. The Government believe that they have the people behind them in their desire to arrange for some system of preferential trade, and I think that they are right in that belief. Although New South Wales has returned many memberspledged to free-trade, some of her erstwhile free-traders are now in the van of those who support preferential trade:
– Erstwhile !
– I used the word “erstwhile” because they recognised that they were on the wrong track, and think this is a splendid opportunity to get upon the right one.
– What is the proposal of the Government?
– The Government are quite rightly waiting for a proposal. I am sure that the country is behind them.
– Yes, in waiting.
– They are prepared to assist the Imperial Government in every practicable way in bringing about this desirable end, and the country is behind them in that.
– How much will they reduce the duties on hats, boots, and shoes ? Are they prepared to reduce them by 5 per cent?
– I expected that question, and I am voicing the opinion of leading protectionists when I say that we shall be prepared to give preference to Great Britain not only by increasing, but also by decreasing duties.
– That is a new departure.
– I am quite sure that there is no desire to make any one-sided arrangement.
– How much duty would the honorable member place on hats and boots ?
– I must ask the right honorable member to allow me to proceed. The idea in the mind of free-traders that we are only anxious to avail ourselves of this opportunity for the purpose of obtaining increased protection without making any concession, is altogether erroneous. We are prepared, after due and careful consideration, to make concessions to the old country, and I am sure that by mutual concessions and mutual consideration a very great deal can be done to foster, not only the industries and agriculture of the Commonwealth, but also the industries and agriculture of the old country.
– Will the honorable member take 10 per cent. off the duty on hats?
– That is not the point we are at present discussing, and there are numerous other articles besides hats on which an increased duty of 10 per cent. might be placed, or in regard to which there might be a reduction in the tariff. However, it is interesting to note in this particular that in the year 1901 - which is the latest year from which I can secure returns - Australia imported food and drink from foreign countries, but which ought to have been imported from Great Britain, to the amount of£2, 315,000. In the same year Australia imported from foreign countries raw material to the value of , £910,000, and manufactures to the value of no less than £9,211.000. It is urged that we cannotexpect Great Britainto give us any preference, in view of our “ Highwall Tariff “ - that we continually shut out British manufactures, extending them no preference whatever, and that therefore we have no right to look for any concessions or help from Great Britain. But there is a striking fact or two which I desire to lay before honorable members. I have here a return prepared by the Board of Trade, and based on the latest Custom House reports of Great Britain, showing “the estimated average ad valorem equivalent import duties levied by the undermentioned countries on the principal articles of British export from Great Britain. Acording to this report, the duties levied by Russia amount to 131 per cent., by the United States to 73 per cent., by Austria-Hungary to 35 per cent., by France to 34 per cent., by Italy to 37 per cent., by Germany to 35 per cent, by Belgium to 13 per cent., and by Australia, the lowest of all, to a little over 6 per cent. Notwithstanding the fact that Russia imposes duties amounting to 131 per cent., I find that the United Kingdom, in 1902, imported from Russia goods which I think ought to have been imported from Australia, in the shape of food-stuffs to the value of £13,500,000, and raw material to the value of £10,000,000.
– Why did Australia not supply these goods?
– Because we had not made arrangements by which the goods could be supplied by Australia, though there is no doubt we ought to supply them. In addition, the United Kingdom imported from Russia manufactures to the value of £195,000, semi-manufactures to the value of £205,000, and other articles to the value of £1,170,000. This gives a total of £25,000,000 worth of imports into Great Britain from Russia, a country which imposes duties to the extent of 131 per cent.
– Those are picked items.
– I am giving the returns as prepared by the Board of Trade, which shows the duties on articles imported from Great Britain, and does not give a general average.
– Was not the average of duties in South Africa 7 per cent., and in Australia, 6 per cent. ?
– That may be so.
– Why, that is a free-trade tariff !
– It is nearly so.
– No wonder colonial industries are suffering.
– Colonial industries are suffering, as I shall show directly.
– The 6 per cent. might be reduced.
– What I am quoting from is a table showing the “estimated average ad valorem equivalent import duties levied by the undermentioned countries on the principle articles of British export from the United Kingdom.”
– Exported, not imported.
– If they are exported there they are imported here.
– That may not be so.
– I beg the right honorable member’s pardon, but that is the case. In Russia the duties on these articles amount to 131 per cent., whereas in Australia they amount to 7 per cent., and my point is that, notwithstanding the high duties imposed in Russia, Great Britain in 1901 imported from that country £25,000,000 worth of goods.
– What does that return prove ?
– It proves that any addition to the duties imposed at present by the Commonwealth would not in any way prevent trade with Great Britain. It further proves that Russia took £14,000,000 worth of goods from the United Kingdom in the same year, thus showing that these duties do not in any way interfere with trade. The imports to which I have alluded embrace a large number of articles in which our farmers and producers are deeply interested. The returns show that from British possessions in 1902 there wasimported £2,534,286 worth of butter, while from foreign countries there was imported no less than £17,992,404 worth. Icontend that by proper arrangements a large percentage of. this trade ought to be se cured to the Commonwealth, and not allowed to go to Russia and other foreign countries.
– Great Britain looks to Denmark for butter.
– Surely Denmark is a foreign country ?
– It is not proposed to shut Danish goods out of England.
– But it is proposed to give us a preference which we are. anxious to secure. I am confident that whether the gentleman who is leading the movement in England is successful on the first occasion or not - and I ask honorable members to view the proposal on its merits, irrespective of the statesman who makes it - the Commonwealth and Great Britain must and will be in the near future brought more closely together on the lines which that gentleman has indicated, and to which the Government have alluded. I notice that the Government propose giving assistance to farmers by means of bonuses and speedier and cheaper transit. That proposal is very rightly placed ‘ before the succeeding paragraph. I am sure that the most practical way to secure population is to make the present population as thriving, industrious, and successful, as possible. If we can encourage our own farmers and extend our manufactures we shall do more than we should by any action in Great Britain, to increase our population in the way desired by the Government. At the same time, I am quite with the Government in their desire to increase the population of the Commonwealth, and to make known to Great Britain and the other older countries the facilities which the Commonwealth offers in the particular directions indicated ; and I hope the Government will do their best to co-operate with the States Governments in this matter.
– Does the honorable member really mean that?
– I notice that the Government have already taken the first step towards redeeming their promise to introduce an Industrial Arbitration and Conciliation Bill. I hope that the measure will be successfully piloted through, and that the workers will reap the benefit of its provisions. I observe that the Employers’ Union have been meeting in New South Wales, and that, notwithstanding the fact that the country has proclaimed emphatically in favour of this very desirable measure, they propose entering a protest against it becoming law. All I can say is that I am sure the Government, in introducing the Bill, have the country behind them, and that the employers have nothing to fear from the working of such a measure, which must tend to the benefit of the employes and the country generally.
– Railway servants as well ?
– My friend hopes so, and I am sure that I am earnestly with him in that hope. I desire to briefly allude to the fact that the Government have promised to introduce an Iron Bonus .Bill, and to direct the attention, especially of New South Wales members, to the circumstance that since such a measure has been before the country the ironworkers of New South Wales have waited on the Government of that State in order to urge the calling of tenders for locomotives to be manufactured within the State. I should like also to direct the attention of the honorable member for Parramatta to the fact that the trades unions, representatives of which formed the larger part of the deputation, urged that the Government should, even at considerable expense, take steps to have the engines manufactured in New South Wales. The deputation . pointed out the desirability of confining tenders to the State, and the Premier, Sir John See, in replying, said that he intended to give a bonus in order to have the engines manufactured in the State, and that he hoped the effect would be the development of the iron deposits to. be there found.
– The honorable member is putting the case quite wrongly.
– There is a Royal Commission inquiring into the question in New South Wales at the present time.
– Honorable members, say that I am wrong in my statements, but I have here the report of the speech of the Premier of New South Wales, who said distinctly - “Yes, I am prepared to give a bonus, for the” reason that we will give employment to our own people, and circulate a large amount’ of wages throughout the community. ‘ ‘
– But the deputation did not ask for a bonus.
- Mr. McGowan and Mr. Hollis. who were with the deputation, stated that they were anxious for the locomotives to be manufactured by the Government if possible, but, failing that, they desired them to be manufactured within the State; and to this end they were prepared to support the giving of a higher price to local tenderers than to foreign tenderers.
– These were not the views of the deputation.
– Of course I do not know the views of the individual members of the deputation, but I know that Mr. McGowan is the leader of the, New South Wales Labour Party, of which Mr. Hollis is a representative member, and their clear and definite opinion, as expressed, is that it is to the highest and best interests of the community that these locomotives should be manufactured within the State - that, seeing there is no chance of the Government undertaking the manufacture, the Government should go to the extent of offering a considerably enhanced price to the manufacturer who undertakes the work.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting the whole case.
– I must really beg the honorable member’s pardon. I shall not detain the House by reading the full report of the deputation, but I can assure honorable members that I am not misrepresenting the case in any way.
– The Government did tender through the Government workshops.
– And I believe that was the lowest tender received.
– And a Royal Commission is now inquiring into the whole matter.
– That does not affect my argument.
– The object of the deputation was to insist on the locomotives being made in the Government workshops.
– The report of the deputation sets out quite an opposite view. The Premier of New South Wales is reported as saying -
Practically we offer a bonus for the manufacture of the engines within the State. I have every reason to believe that they can be made just as well and as cheaply asthose imported. In support of that statement. I may remark that a shipping company with which I am connected, imported a steamer and machinery in sections. After she was put together a larger steamer was locally built at a less cost in proportion to its greater size than the imported vessel.
Then the Premier was asked - “ Is the Cabinet encouraged to take this step by reason of the Federal Tariff ? “ To this he replied -
I do not say so necessarily. It does seem to me to be a common-sense proceeding to encourage our own skilled workmen rather than those of another country.
The Premier also said that he was quite prepared to undertake the manufacture of the engines or to give an enhanced price for the locally made article.
Also the leaders of the Labour Party were most emphatic in their assertion that they wanted these engines made in the country.
– In the Government workshops.
– I will hand to my honorable friend the newspaper reports of the deputation, and from them he will see that he is wrong. While the leaders of the Labour Partywere anxious to have the engines manufactured in the Government workshops, they were still more anxious to have them manufactured in the country. They were prepared to give a bonus rather than that the locomotives should not be manufactured in the country at all. That fact strengthens very much the position taken up by the report of the Royal Commission on Iron Bonuses, and it also demonstrates clearly the important fact that the workmen of the Commonwealth are. beginning to recognise that it is the first duty of the Government to find employment for our people, and not by means of imports, to employ foreign workmen while our
Own workmen are standing idle.
– Where does Great Britain come in, in regard to a preference on iron ?
– There are plenty of things on which we can give a preference to Great Britain; and if my honorable friend is in earnest in his remark he will be willing to join with us to secure that object. There are, for instance, such things as motor cars and cotton goods in regard to which a preference can be given to Great Britain without in any way destroying or retarding our own industrial progress.
– The manufacture of iron is a staple industry of Great Britain.
– Notwithstanding that, the largest proportion of our imports of iron come not from Great Britain but from foreign countries; so that in establishing our own industries we shall not be injuring Great Britain, but shall be taking trade from foreign countries. I also want to allude to the question of ocean mail contracts, and topoint out that it is a very remarkable fact that although the Leader of the Opposition has been offering strong opposition to the attitude assumed by the Government in determining to carry out the wish of this House, yet the very same position was arrived at by two Postal Coferences held prior to the Commonwealth being established. The honorable member for Parramatta was a member of the Postal Conference heldin Tasmania, which unanimously resolved that it was the duty of the States Governments to pay no further bonuses or bounties to ships that were not worked by white labour. The same resolution was arrived at when the honorable member was chairman of a conference which sat in New South Wales, and I suppose that that resolution was assented to by the head of. the Government of which he was a member.
– Does the honorable member ?
– If it was not assented to by the right honorable member, it was not objected to by him.
– Is the Premier of a State bound by the decision of an Intercolonial Conference of Postmasters-General?
– I should say that the Premier of a State was bound by the acts of his Ministers, and was responsible for them.
– He did not repudiate them.
– I am not responsible for a lot of things.
– I have yet to learn that my right honorable friend disputed what was done or even raised his voice against it.
– I had sense enough to know that it would never come to anything.
– Were the resolutions passed with the intention that they should not come to anything, or did the right honorable member’s colleague intend that they should come to nothing ?
– I never read those documents. I was too busy. I never heard of them until the subject was mentioned a month or two ago.
– But the right honorable member knows full well that he never raised any objection to the resolutions, which expressed the unanimous wish of the Conference long before the Commonwealth was established.
– The leader of the Opposition was questioned about the matter at the time in the New South Wales Parliament.
– I am glad, to hear it. I have no recollection of it.
– I have no doubt that my right honorable friend knows all about it. He is very innocent, but he is not so innocent as he looks. The fact remains, that he never repudiated the act of his colleague. The Parliament of the Commonwealth only did its duty when it ratified the decision of the Conference to which I have referred, and although we have not been able to arrive at any satisfactory solution, I am satisfied that’ this House is just as determined as ever that it will not subsidize steamers that carry any but white labour. I am quite sure that, rather than yield that principle, we would put up with all the inconveniences of a poundage system. ‘ A great deal of nonsense has been talked about “ a white ocean.” The position which this House has taken up is this : That we will refuse to subsidize ships that carry other than white labour. Surely that is a tenable;, a reasonable, and a just position to take up. We do not object to black men earning their living, but we do object to subsidize boats which use black men with the effect of degrading white labour.
– We do not lose anything by the contract; the amount is made up by the increased rates charged.
– We pay a great deal if we, do not lose anything. Another matter to which I should like to direct attention is the question of the employment of Chinese labour in South Africa. I should like to congratulate the Government heartily upon the stand they took up and upon the protest they made against the employment of Chinese labour in the South African mines. I also notice with pleasure that the British Government, in replying to the Premier of New Zealand, acknowledges that that colony and the Commonwealth of Australia are quite within their rights when they enter these protests.
– Who says that?
– It is contained in the letter sent by the home authorities to the Premier of New Zealand, in. which the Colonial Secretary says -
I fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning colonies to explain their views on so important a question, and especially of those who, like New Zealand, rendered memorable service in the South African war.
Our right to enter a protest is acknowledged by the home authorities, who say that the fact that New Zealand and the Commonwealth sacrificed so much in money and lives in connexion with the war is a sufficiently strong reason for their expressing their views.
– Not for entering a protest ; for expressing an opinion.
– That is only another way of doing practically the same thing. I do .not think that there is very much difference between saying that we are entirely opposed to the employment of Chinese labour in South Africa and formally protesting. against it. In my belief, this matter of the employment of cheap labour in the mines of South Africa has been coming to a head for a very long time past, and I would direct the attention of honorable members to a very significant article upon the subject.
– The honorable member would not have the same objection to the employment of the natives of the country?
– No, but I want to direct some attention to that phase of the question. A very striking article appeared in the Nineteenth Century of November last from the pen of Sir Harry Johnston, in which he makes these striking statements - White men are expensive and too unruly. The kaffir requires £3 a month. The natives of Central Africa are accustomed to receive 3s. a month, and would think themselves well paid with £1 to 30s. a month. More than i» hours a day should be prohibited, and Sunday should ~be regarded as a day of reasonable liberty. The minimum wage should be £1, and only 10 per cent, paid to the men as pocket money during service.
– No strikes there !
– No. Then I want to direct attention to a very important conference of the Society of Architects and Engineers which took place in China last year. Mr. Stuart, a member of the Society, said -
As a result of a rather long experience in superintending Chinese labour, he had great respect for Chinese workmen. He could not perform so much work in a given time as the white man because he was not so strong, but he made some amends for this by working on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. His working year contained about 15 per cent, more working hours than the British workman’s, and he seldom went on strike. I hold that this has to do with Australian and British workmen, inasmuch as it lowers the standard of living, and is degrading to all white labour.
– The same thing has been going on in Central Africa for ages. It is a horrible thing.
- Mr. Herfoot, at the same conference, said -
The previous speaker had undoubtedly proved that the Chinamen were from 40 per cent, to 50 per cent, cheaper in most industries than white’ labour. Taking his own industry, cotton spinning, comparing Chinese with Lancashire operatives, who were the best in the world, he found that for similar work the Chinese were from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, cheaper. An additional reason why Chinese labour should be more and more utilized, =not only in the mines, but in all industries, is set forth thus -
The young people were coming into the mills at nine and ten years of age, and would make the labour cheaper still.
In view of such observations, and in view of the fact that we did so much in regard to the South African war, we are quite within the range of our business when we enter an emphatic protest against introducing Chinese labour into the mines of South Africa. I would briefly allude to the proclamation of the Defence Act, and would say that to me it is a matter of regret that this Act did not incorporate a Council of Defence, such as I advocated on the floor of this House. Great Britain has recently adopted such a Council, and has abrogated the old system of governing the army through a Commander-in-Chief.
– Is that due to the honorable member’s advocacy?
– At any rate, it has been adopted since the question was discussed here. It will also be noticed that the United States Government has done the same thing, and that e%’en Japan has got rid of her Generalissimo, or CommanderinChief, and has adopted such a Council. I do not wish to cast any reflection on any gentleman at present occupying a high post in connexion with our defence forces, but I do hope that before any future appointments are made the Government will consider the subject, and review the whole staff system, with a view of bringing our forces more into line with the idea of a citizen soldiery.
– But there is Sir John still in the Cabinet.
– But the right honorable gentleman referred to will not dominate in the wrong direction. In regard to the white labour question in Queensland, we all rejoice to know that the amount of ‘white labour employed upon the sugar plantations is increasing. Facilities ought to be afforded for all the planters who want to employ white labour to obtain it at the places where it is wanted as cheaply as possible. The Queensland authorities, I am glad to know, are doing much to facilitate the attainment of that object, and that fact ought to be made known as widely as possible.
– There is plenty of white labour there now.
– I am glad to know that it is being recognised that the contention that the growing of sugar could not be done by means of white labour is now disproved. That is demonstrated by the fact that it has been done, and is being done, and by the probability that it will be done to an increasing, extent as further experience is gained. I also notice that the Government are proposing to deal with another question which was raised in this House last, session, in regard to land tenure and the liquor traffic in New Guinea. I am quite sure that the Government will recognise the decisions given by this House in regard to both of those questions. I notice that. the Government are making inquiries. I hope that they are making inquiries from the right people. I- have not much confidence in official reports; and I trust that no step will be taken until the House has again had an opportunity of debating and. reviewing the decisions they arrived at. I wish to make a final allusion to the question of Electoral reform, lt has been stated on behalf of the Government that they are going to make use of the experience gained at the recent elections. I hope that they will. While I recognise fully the magnitude of the work which had to be done, I cannot help thinking that the desire to be over-economical tended to a great extent to make the difficulties greater than they would otherwise have been. A number of men were put into positions in which they knew less about the work than the work knew about them. In many instances these men, if they were not sweated, were paid miserable pittances for the work which they did. Poll clerks were paid 15/ for a day of something like 16 hours. The State always paid something over £1 for similar work. I hope that the Government will do something more than rectify mistakes. It is a great reflection upon the people of the Commonwealth that not one half of them recorded their votes.
– I could not record mine, for the simple reason that I was not on the roll.
– Why did not the honorable member see that his name was on the roll ? He was entirely to blame for the omission.
– No, I was not; because my name, after being placed on the roll, was taken off again.
– Whilst there may have been many omissions from the rolls, a great reflection still rests upon the people of Australia in that they were so much engrossed with provincial affairs or the pursuit of pleasure that they did not record their votes. I hope, also, that the Government will try to provide some machinery by which majority representation may be secured. We have heard a great deal about minority representation, and I find that of the sixteen “Victor; ian constituencies in which there was a contest at the last elections, eight returned representatives of minorities.
– The honorable member is responsible for that.
– Who says so?
– The Government.
– The honorable member is a new member, and does not know any better. He is placing the responsibility upon the wrong shoulders. Eight or nine of the Victorian constituencies’ are represented by gentlemen who were returned by minorities, and this ought not to be permitted. In Germany they have overcome the difficulty by means of a second ballot, and I hope that the Government will give the introduction of some system with a similar object their earnest and careful consideration. Whilst we are anxious to conserve the rights of minorities, we should see’ that effect is given to the wishes of the majorities in the constituencies. I have great pleasure in submitting the motion.
– I desire to second the motion. The honorable member for. Melbourne Ports has traversed the ground so fully that he has not left me much to say, and I have no wish to repeat what he has said. I cordially indorse the sentiments to which expression is given in His Excellency’s speech, and I hope that the predictions uttered will be fulfilled. It is a matter for congratulation that the drought has passed away, arid that the past year hasbeen one of plenty. The State from which I come has suffered, not from drought, but’ from too much water, which has to a very large extent spoiled our harvest. This abundance of moisture has, however, contributed to the prosperity of the mainland, and although it has resulted in misfortune to us, we must all feel gratified that a good year has been passed in the majority of the States. It is a matter for regret that twogreat nations should have entered upon a war ; and I trust we shall be spared the consequences of any interference by Great Britain in the struggle now proceeding. I amglad, to see that a proposal is made with regard to the transfer of the States debts to theCommonwealth. I consider that steps might have been taken in this direction at an earlier stage. I contend that it was our duty to take over the whole of the debts of the Statesas soon as the Commonwealth was established.
I am one of those who favour the idea that the Federal authorities should take over the whole of the functions of Government, and thus do away with the necessity for incurring expense in maintaining’ States Parliaments and Administrations. I hope now that initial steps have been taken by the States Treasurers in regard to the transfer of the States debts, a further Conference will be held at an early date, and that such progress will be made as will fully compensate for the delay that has taken place. I am very glad to see that the finances of the Commonwealth are in a satisfactory condition, and that steps are to be taken to deal with the question of old-age pensions. I believe that before Federation it was the duty of every State to make provision for its aged poor, and now that we have established the Commonwealth, it becomes our duty to look after the interests of indigent old people, no matter in what part of the Commonwealth they may be located. As an offshoot of the British nation, we consider ourselves to be an enlightened people, and, perhaps, more advanced in civilization than most other nations, but we shall not be able to fully sustain our claim in that regard unless we provide for our poor in their own homes, instead of requiring them to seek a refuge in charitable institutions. I trust that an old-age pension scheme will be adopted at an early date. No doubt it will involve a tax upon the people, but those who are young and able to work should esteem it a privilege to contribute towards the support of those who have passed the age at which they are able to sustain themselves. The question of assisting farmers and other producers has been so fully dealt with by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that it is not necessary for me to dilate upon it. In connexion with the question of preferential trade, it has been asked what benefit we could confer upon the old country. In this connexion I would point out that at present we are importing very largely from foreign countries, and are building up their industries and giving employment to their people instead of affording encouragement and employment to the manhood of our own nation, who have to fight our battles and to stand up in defence of our liberties. In order to avoid this we should levy higher duties upon foreign goods than upon those imported from Great Britain. The old country has stood by r.s in the past, and will continue to befriend us, and therefore, by giving preference to her products, we shall not only, confer an advantage upon our fellow-subjects in the old land, but contribute to our own protection. I am glad to see that some attention has been given to the subject of encouraging farmers and other producers by providing markets for their produce. This should be done in regard to every industry in the Commonwealth. Australia can produce a great many articles that would be of service to the old country, and it is our clear duty to afford every facility for their transmission to the home markets. I am very glad to see that a proposal is made to have only one Agent-General for the Commonwealth. I could never see the necessity for having so many representatives of Australia in the old country. Surely one good AgentGeneral, with assistants under him, could adequately represent the Commonwealth as a whole. I hope that the suggestion of the Government will be acted upon. Like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I am a strong advocate of the principle of conciliation and arbitration. I hope, that the day will come when the great nations will realize that it is better to settle their disputes by arbitration rather than by the shedding of blood, and the infliction of hardships upon many who are not immediately concerned. In connexion with strikes, it is not only the strikers who suffer, but thousands of innocent women and children, and, in fact, the whole community. I trust that the Arbitration Bill will be passed into law, and that such things as strikes will be unknown in our midst. It is desirable that we should pass a measure for the better regulation of navigation and shipping generally, and therefore I am (riad that’ a’ proposal in this direction is to be submitted to us. It would be a good thing for the Com-‘ monwealth if special measures were adopted to encourage the iron industry. We have iron deposits in Australia, and it is surely far preferable that we should avail ourselves of our resources in this respect than send abroad for the iron that we require. It is satisfactory to find that the revenue received from Customs has realised the expectations of. the Treasurer, and I am glad to see also that the estimates of expenditure are to be framed with” economy. I think we should study economy in every way. There has been too much extravagance in the States, and perhaps also under the Commonwealth administration, and I am glad that the Government have resolved to carry on our business with due- regard for economy. I fully indorse the action of the Government in reference to the message sent from the Commonwealth to the old country, regarding the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal. I do not go the whole length with some of my friends in reference to prohibiting the introduction of Chinamen, but after Australians and Canadians, and, in fact, the men of all the British dominions have shed their blood in the Transvaal in defence of the rights of British subjects, it is not right that Chinamen should be imported., fo perform work which should be given to our fellow white subjects. I trust, therefore, that our interference in what may be regarded in some .quarters as other’ people’s business will have ;Some effect, and that the importation of Chinamen into the Transvaal will not be persisted in, but that British subjects will be employed in recovering gold from the mines there. If Chinamen are imported into the Transvaal, they will take back all the money they can, and thus enrich their own country.
– The mine-owners will not allow them to take away much money.
– I know that the idea of the mine-owners’ is to procure cheap labour, but the mines should be so worked as to’ enable a fair .day’s wage to be paid for a fair day’s work. That is the only way in which a prosperous community can be built up, I do not intend to refer to the question of the selection of the Federal Capital site, because that will be more fully discussed later on. I am glad to see. that the Defence Forces in the various States are to be placed upon a. uniform footing. I regret that, owing to some misunderstanding last year, some of the Tasmanian volunteers were not paid at the same rates as were the men in other States.
– The Tasmanian Government objected to their receiving the higher scale of pay.
– I do not know whether that can be proved. I have not yet seen any documents upon the subject, and I do not know anything about it. At any rate, I am not responsible for the acts of the Tasmanian Government. I hold that all the men connected with the Defence Forces should be placed upon the same footing, irrespective of any wish expressed by a State Government. I am glad to learn that there is no longer ground for complaint, and that the forces in all the States are to be treated upon a uniform basis. I note that a conference of representatives of the Governments interested in the Pacific cable is shortly to be held in London, and I trust that one result of its deliberations will be to place Tasmania upon- the same footing as that occupied by the other five States of the Commonwealth. I utterly fail to see why its people should be required to pay telegraphic rates which are in excess of those charged in other portions of the Commonwealth. To be compelled to pay an additional halfpenny upon “every word which is contained in messages despatched to and from that State constitutes a very great hardship, especially so far as the- Press is concerned. Surely if Federation be worth anything, the States in .this matter should be placed upon an equality. I trust, therefore, that the existing evil will be speedily remedied, and that in future Tasmania will be granted a fair field. Its people ask for no’ favour. The inequalities and anomalies which have discovered themselves iri our Electoral Act will, I hope, be quickly remedied. Personally, I am in favour of our elections being conducted under the Hare system. I have never yet found any one who has investigated the merits of that system and who has had experience of its working who does not prefer it to the block system which operated in connexion with the recent Senate elections. Under these circumstances I am exceedingly hopeful that the’ Hare system will be con-, sidered when we are amending the Electoral Act. I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply.
– I think that my honorable friends who moved and seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply had an opportunity afforded them to see His- Excellency the Governor-General’s speech before honorable members listened to it in the Senate- Chamber. I had not that advantage, and I feel that it is only right I should hav: some little opportunity to consider that speech, which was a long and very important one. Under these circumstances, and following the usual practice, I move -
That this debate be adjourned until to-morrow.
– An adjournment of the first day’s debate upon the Address in Reply is a courtesy which iri the Victorian Parliament - and I think in the .Parliaments of some of the other States - is invariably extended to the leader of the Opposition, and I have pleasure in complying with his request
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.-
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow, at2. 30 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if copies of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be obtainable by honorable members tomorrow?
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for
External Affairs). - The Bill has been ordered to be circulated, and I presume, therefore, that honorable members will receive it to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 6.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 March 1904, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040302_reps_2_18/>.