2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has read the cable message published in the Melbourne newspapers of the 18th inst., to the effect that the sales of 700,000 cases- of Tasmanian and Australian apples, which had been imported this season, had resulted in a loss of , £50,000, and, if so, whether he will take steps to inquire, into the causes of the loss and consider the possibility of preventing its recurrence by providing for proper Federal supervision.
– I noticed the cable message referred to, but the only Department in’ the Commonwealth that could take an interest in the matter at present is that presided over by my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs. Of course, the whole question as- to how far we might . take an interest in matters of this description rests largely upon the result of the discussion upon the motion that the honorable and learned member now has on the business-paper. I have reason to believe that a portion of the loss incurred this year, if not the whole of it, is attributable to exceptional causes. The apples grown during the extremely wet season recently experienced in Tasmania did not . possess the keeping, qualities of fruit grown during drier periods. Then again there was some question with regard to the conditions under which the steamship companies carried the fruit shipments - as to whether a proper temperature was maintained.
– A number of new steamers were introduced into the trade.
– The whole matter of affording expert advice to those engaged in the export of perishables, and of assisting them in regard to the grading of products, is at present under the control of the States Governments, but I think that the matter is one in regard to which the Federal Government might, with advantage, take some steps with a view to assist the State authorities. .
– The answer given by the Postmaster-General yesterday to my question with reference to the extra duties performed by postmasters in New South Wales did not contain all the particulars I desired. The officers referred to have to perform work connected with the registration of births and deaths, and also in connexion with the State Electoral Act, and I should like to know’ whether they are being paid for such work by the State or Federal Governments, and, if not, whether the Postmaster- General will see that the officers are compensated for the extra work.
– I was under the impression that all the information required by the honorable member had been furnished by my reply, but I shall look into the matter again, and, if necessary, supplement it.
– I wish to ask the Minister. of External Affairs whether he has yet come to a final decision with regard to the regulations for the employment of aliens in the pearling industry.
– I have not yet come to any decision other than that which I communicated to the House a few days ago. I then stated that no further permits would be issued without special reference to myself. Certain applications have been made, which are now receiving attention, and the matter will be decided this afternoon. I do not now intend to absolutely refuse further permits, but rather to surround their issue with restrictions, with which I am sure the right honorable gentleman will heartily agree. 6 c 2
– I wish to know if the Postmaster-General is yet in a position to furnish a reply to the question asked by me some two months ago with regard to the telegraph construction overseers in New South Wales, whose services have been dispensed with.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question was ready, but owing to his absence from the House I was not in the position to communicate it. The honorable member asked whether the services of telegraph construction overseers in New South Wales had been dispensed with. The answer is: -
No; but a number of temporary construction overseers have not been employed, as it was not considered desirable to intrust the supervision of such important work as the construction and repair of telegraph lines to temporary employes. This decision was arrived at in consequence of serious irregularities having been discovered in connexion with work that had been passed by a temporary overseer, and the fact that the Department had not sufficient control over temporary men engaged in this capacity.
The honorable member also asked how the work formerly done by these overseers was being performed. The answer is: -
By line repairers stationed in the locality where such .works are being carried out, and who are officers on the permanent staff of the Department, and by inspectors of construction, who examine and pass the work on completion.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is yet in the possession of the information for which I asked some days ago, as to the number of persons in the Commonwealth who are in charge of post-offices, who are required to be continuously in attendance during office hours, and who receive a salary of only £36.
– I have not yet been placed in possession of all the details.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that an inspection of the Upper Murray country is to be made by honorable members in connexion with the selection of the site for the Federal Capital, he will arrange for contour surveys of and reports upon the areas to be visited, as in ‘the case of the sites suggested in the Southern Monaro and Tumut districts. I also desire to know whether he will postpone the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill in Committee until the information indicated has been received and placed in possession of honorable members.
– I am sorry to say that I cannot see my way clear to do as the right honorable gentleman suggests. I admit that the .information afforded by contour surveys in respect to the other sites has a degree of value in helping honorable members to arrive at a decision. I still think that it is not absolutely essential to have these surveys made before we come to a decision as to the district in which the site of the Federal Capital shall be located. Our suggestion is that the districts in which the proposed sites are situated should be voted upon, leaving the determination of the actual site within the area chosen to future action by the Government through our administrative officers. It does not seem necessary to delay the decision of Parliament on this matter for the purpose indicated.
– Will Mr. Surveyor Chesterman accompany honor-, able members on their visit to Tooma? It seems to me that he should do so, because of the information which he could supply.
– No arrangements have been made to enable Mr. Surveyor Chesterman to accompany honorable members; but I agree with the right honorable member that it is desirable that he should do so, if his duties as a State officer will permit of it.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home. Affairs if a Federal electoral roll is at the present time being collected in the various States- of the Commonwealth ?
– Yes, in most of the States, and in some of them the work is rapidly approaching completion. Instructions for the collection of a Federal roll have been issued for each of the States; but in one or two cases there have been disagreements as to the terms of employment. These are not serious, and I think will be settled within a day or two.
– Is a Federal roll’ now being prepared in New South Wales? If so, is it true that postmasters who also occupy the positions of railway station-masters are expected, in’ compiling the lists, to recopy the State rolls, omitting from them the names of those who have removed from the district, or have died since the State rolls were compiled ? If so, are the men thus employed to receive compensation for the laborious work which has -been put upon them ?
– My reply to all three questions is “ Yes.”
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, all necessarysteps should be taken, before any general election, to pass a Bill for the alteration of the Constitution, to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to enact uniform industrial laws, so that at the time of the election the Bill might be inexpensively submitted to the electors, as provided in section 128 of the Constitution.
At the very beginning of Federation, the fact forced itself upon the minds of, a number of people interested in our various industries, and also upon the minds of several members of the Federal Parliament, that a very great mistake had been made in not providing in the Constitution for the enactment by this Parliament of uniform industrial laws, just as provision was made for the enactment of uniform Customs duties. It was felt that a Parliament which was fitted to deal with the fiscal question, should also have power to pass laws pertaining to the industries which are so largely the result of the fiscal policy. The feeling took concrete form in the following motion, moved by the present AttorneyGeneral, on the 28th June, .1901 -
That in the opinion of this House it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to acquire (if the State Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 51, sub-section XXXVII. of the Constitution Act), full power to make laws for Australia as to wages and hours and conditions of labour.
In moving that motion he pointed out that, even at that early stage of Federation, the manufacturers of Victoria were beginning to suffer from what they regarded as unfair competition, and he urged that steps should be taken to ask the various State Parliaments to hand over to the Commonwealth Parliament the power to make uniform industrial laws. The Governments of the States were accordingly communicated with, with the following results : Tasmania thought it undesirable to surrender its own right to legislate.
– It’s right to sweat.’
– It is very remarkable that that State, which was looked upon as one of the unfair competitors of Victorian manufacturers, should be the first to object to give up this right, which I have yet to learn has been exercised in the interests of industrial fair play. I have received many complaints about the sad condition of many of the employes in Tasmanian industries ; but I know of no laws passed in that State to protect its workers. South Australia did not consider it expedient to take action in the matter. Unfortunately that State not only does not deem it expedient to take action in regard to handing over this power to the Commonwealth, but it also does not deem it expedient to exercise the power itself, for the protection of the industrial employes within its own borders. I have received within the last few weeks many bitter complaints about the terrible condition of things in the various branches of industrial life in that State. I have it oh the authority of the Tailoresses’ Union, and of the Sempstresses’ Union, that the prices paid for garments made in South Australia are as low as, if not lower than, those paid in Victoria in the worst days of the sweating here. My informants tell me that unavailing efforts have been made time and again to get the Legislative Council of the State to pass regulations which would cause the Factories Act to become operative. For want of those regulations that Act is now really a dead letter. It is a matter for very great regret that the operatives of South Australia, who are, at the same time, subjects of the Commonwealth, should be in this unfortunate position. New South Wales thought that the question should be left to each State to determine. I take it that the Government; of that State, meant, by its reply, that it was prepared to abide by the result of a referendum, and to accept the decision arrived at by its people, as provided for by the Constitution. I rejoice to know that since this answer was given, New South Wales has come into line, and that employers in many of the leading industries there, who were at that time competing very unfairly with Victorian manufacturers, are paying, in the larger, number of instances, higher wages than those ruling under the Victorian Wages Board system. No definite reply was received from any of the other States Governments. The point which I desire to make is that there appears to be no very strong opposition to the proposal. The two States Governments that have definitely refused to consider it are those which are causing the trouble in the industrial life of the Commonwealth. Shortly prior to the last Victorian State election, at the instigation of the Anti- Sweating League, questions were sent to every candidate for the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly, asking whether he would vote, if returned to Parliament, to remit the whole of the industrial legislation of the State to the Commonwealth Legislature, and I am pleased to say that the majority of the present members of the Legislative Assembly of. Victoria are pledged to do so. They feel, as I have urged, that’ the Parliament which has the regulation of the Tariff should also have the power to regulate the wages which rule as the result of that Tariff. The motion submitted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was supported by Sir William McMillan, who then represented the electorate of Wentworth, and the remarks made by him are peculiarly interesting, and, indeed, instructive at the present juncture. I say that they are instructive because the right honorable member for East Sydney, in discussing the policy and attitude of the present Government, urged that one of the planks of their platform - -uniformity of industrial legislation - was socialistic, unfair, and unreasonable, and said that all right-thinking men should do their very best to oppose it. It is a striking commentary on that attitude that when a similar motion to this was proposed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, Sir William McMillan, who was the acting leader of the Opposition, seconded it, and made some forcible and telling remarks which I would submit to the careful and earnest consideration of the House. They are exceedingly pertinent, and, coming from such a quarter, must carry great weight.
– It is a pity that the right honorable member for East Sydney is not present.
– ft is. He would have realized, after hearing the views of the gentleman who was formerly the honorable member for Wentworth, that he has not kept himself in touch with contemporary history. Sir William McMillan, in seconding the motion, made the following remarks : -
I hold generally that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial life of the community - ought to be in the hands of the national Parliament. I have seen since that Convention certain attempts at legislation in some of the local Parliaments. I am not going to say whether that legislation is sound or not -
I shall have something to say on the subject - but it certainly is of such a far-reaching character with regard to the liberties of the people in their industrial life - and, after all, Australia is an industrial community - that I do not think those great subjects should be settled except by a national Parliament.
That was the opinion of the then acting leader of the Opposition, and yet we were told a few weeks ago by the present leader of the free-trade Opposition, the right honorable member for East Sydney, that such a proposal is socialistic and unjust, and that in its incidence it would be unfair to both manufacturers and operatives. Soon after the motion submitted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne had been considered by the House, the Tariff Bill was introduced, and Inter-State free-trade became an accomplished fact. This was in October, 1901, and a strong and almost successful effort was then made to suspend, if not to abrogate, the whole of the Victorian industrial legislation relating to Wages Boards. The Argus week after week advocated the abrogation of these boards, and even the Age, to which we are so largely indebted for our industrial legislation, wavered. I am glad to say, however, that it wavered for only a short time, and that it has since been as loya! as ever it was to the Wages Board system. There were some reasons for this tendency to waver. It was felt that, as the wages of operatives in no less than twenty-six trades, covering 25,000 employes, were regulated by legislative machinery in Victoria, local manufacturers’ who were subjected to this kind of legislative restriction could not compete with employers in the same industries in the closely allied States who were working under the same Tariff, but were free to pay whatever wages they pleased, to work their operatives whatever hours they chose, and were unrestricted by health regulations similar to those imposed in many instances . under the Victorian State Acts. Had it not been for the persistent efforts of those who knew the value of those Acts, the Wages Boards of Victoria would have been abrogated, with such disastrous results that one does not care to contemplate them. Those who supported the system contended that, instead of returning to the days of industrial anarchy, Victoria should act as a missionary, and by means of trades unions and similar organizations in New South Wales and other States, urge on the Legislatures of those States the desirableness of passing similar legislation to raise their industrial standard to that of Victoria. Before alluding to the changes which have taken place in the other States, I should like to inform the House of the development of this class of legislation in Victoria. At its inception it was regarded with a considerable degree of jealousy and misgiving. What is known as the Conservative Party opposed it very bitterly. It was urged that industries would be driven from Victoria; that capital would not be invested here, and that it was impossible to legislate for the fixing of a standard of wages or for the regulation of industry in the way proposed. One of the most, I will not say bitter, but persistent opponents of the Wages Board system was the late Premier of Victoria, Mr. Irvine. Those of us who are privileged to be acquainted with him know his value as a student of sociology, and, however much we may differ from his views, recognise that he is a straightforward and earnest statesman. He was always a strong opponent of factory legislation, and. urged that legislation for the fixing of wages must prove disastrous. I am very happy to say that when Mr. Irvine delivered his last Ministerial statement of policy to the people of Victoria, he told them in plain words that he had been under a wrong impression in regard to this question ; that he had entirely changed his opinion, and had found that this class of industrial legislation had raised wages, and brought about a very great change, to the advantage of the industrial classes of Victoria.
– He was the AttorneyGeneral in a Government which in the course of about eleven months brought some twentythree trades under the Wages Board system.
– That is so, and we were very much obliged to him for his action. But there were other influences in the Cabinet which were stronger than his, and there were also strong forces at work in the House itself, which impelled that course of action. On the occasion to which I have referred, he said -
The boards have had the effect of increasing the wages paid to those businesses - the lowest and! sweating wages, and bettering the condition of the workers, without hampering the development of the industries, or lessening the output or employment.
A statement of that kind from such an authority is of very great value. A little later Mr. Irvine said -
We believe that sweating is an evil that can be successfully combated by legislation. This is a matter which, in my mind, was very long open to doubt.
But as to that he is now quite satisfied. That also is an indication of the very great step forward in industrial legislation.. But there have been strong efforts to prevent such legislation, and I am in a position to say that those efforts will be renewed when it is proposed to re-enact the Victorian Shops and Factories Act, which is only tentatively on the statutebook, and expires in the course of twelve or fifteen months. Some twelve or eighteen months ago this Act was opposed on the ground that there was no similar legislation in Tasmania, South Australia, or Queensland, and it was contended that, at any rate, the men operatives, who come under the operation of the Wages- Board, should be exempted - that there should be freedom of industrial life so far . as the men are concerned. But what would have been the effect? I have a most interesting list here to which I am sure honorable members will do me the honour of listening. Prior to Wages Boards being appointed, the average weekly wage of bootmakers in Victoria was j£i 6s. iod., as compared with an average weekly wage last year of £1 15s. id., showing an increase under the Wages Board system of 8s. 3d. per week. Prior to 1896 bakers were paid £1 12s. 6d. per week, as compared with an average weekly wage last year of £2 2s. iod., showing an increase of 10s. 4d. per week. Butchers under the old system were paid £1 17s. 8d. per week, as compared with their present wage of £2 os. 4d., or an increase of 2s. 8d. per week. The list goes on to show that for confectioners, wages have increased 5s. 6d. per week ; for jewellers, 7s. nd. ; for potters, 8s. id.; for saddlers, 9s. 9d. ; for stone-cutters, 8s. 9d. ; for tanners, 3s. 9d. ; for woodworkers, 10s. 6d. ; and for printers, 3s. 6d. within the metropolis, and outside the metropolis, 6s. 7d. It will be seen that right through this list no high rate of wages is shown. The very highest is £2 5s. 8d., so that it cannot be said that any artificial wages have been created through the operations of the Wages Boards. I ask honorable members to kindly note that the statement that has been frequently made by those who oppose this kind of legislation, namely, that the minimum wage becomes the maximum, has not been borne out by Victorian experience. In illustration of this I shall quote some figures, for which I am indebted to the Chief Inspector of Factories for Victoria. In the boot trade the average wage in 1902 - the latest year for which figures are available - was 45s., while now it is 46s. 4d. In the- same trade the minimum wage for females was formerly 20s. per week, whereas it is now 21s. 8d. In the baking trade, the average wage was formerly 50s., as against 51s. 8d. at the present time; in the clothing trade, for females, the wage was 20s. as against 22s. 4d. ; in the coopering trade, 56s. as against 57s. 3d. ; in the European furniture trade, 48s. as against 51s. id. ; in the jam-making trade, 30s. as against 33s. 4d. ; and in the saddlery trade, 48s. as against 50s. 7d. I ask honorable members to try to realize what these 32,000 operatives, in Victoria who are at present working under these Wages Boards stand to lose should they be deprived of the beneficial protection they now enjoy. That they do stand to lose that protection, unless this industrial legislation be made uniform, must be apparent to all who have given any thought to industrial matters in the State of Victoria. What was the experience in . regard to one particular trade, to which I have alluded before in this House - an experience which illustrates the menace to industrial life in Victoria in the absence of uniform legislation ? In the brush trade the Wages Board determined that the wages for piece work and weekly work should be the same for female as for male operatives, provided the same quality and quantity of work was turned out by each class. That was a reasonable decision, in view of the inroads which female labour is making on industries hitherto carried on by male labour. What was done? The proprietor of the only factory in the State where female labour was employed, took his machinery and employes to Tasmania, and defied the Victorian law. For some considerable time this manufacturer exported brushes from Tasmania to Victoria in competition with manufacturers who were working under the operation of the Wages Boards. Surely no honorable member would contend for a moment that such a practice is reasonable or fair, or can possibly be allowed to continue. In South Australia, as I have indicated’, there is no protection for operatives; and it is well known that in the boot trade and the cigar trade - in the latter trade especially - the effect of low wages and different conditions has already been detrimental to Victorian industries. .
– And the same mav be said of the baking trade and the cabinetmaking trade, the conditions being worse in the former than those in the latter.
– But the baking trade scarcely comes into competition. I learn now by an interjection, that the condition of affairs in’ connexion with the baking trade in South Australia is most deplorable ; and while that fact may not affect the argument I am now advancing, it surely is a reason for providing uniform industrial legislation. Why should not the national Parliament protect struggling, underpaid, and overworked bakers in South Australia, in the same way as. the Victorian Parliament protects similar operatives in that State? If the people’s representatives in South Australia cannot enact such legislation, surely it is the duty’ of the national Parliament to see that operatives in that State are protected ? But I was alluding more especially to those trades which come into competition with those Victorian industries which are protected by the Wages Boards. A similar kind of competition exists in Queensland, in relation to the industries of New South Wales. As honorable members are aware, New South Wales is quite in line with, and in many instances, I think, ahead of Victoria in regard to industrial legislation, as the result of the operation of the State Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In New South Wales, in the baking trade,the bootmaking trade, and the clothing trade, higher wages have been awarded by the Arbitration Court, than have been fixed by the Wages Boards in Victoria, and there is no reason whatever to complain of unfair competition in this respect. But New South Wales has very good solid ground for complaint in regard to the competition of the unprotected industries in Queensland. It is a notorious fact that in the clothing trade, and the boot trade especially”; New South Wales manufacturers find themselves so severely handicapped, that it pays them better to manufacture for the Queensland trade in Queensland, than to manufacture in New South Wales, and export to the sister State. Of course, Queensland has a right to her share of the manufacturing industries of the Commonwealth, but she has no right to that share at an unfair advantage.
An Honorable Member. - Hear, hear.
– The honorable member who interjects will agree that it is not fair that the Queensland bootmakers, who are competing with New South Wales manufacturers for the trade of the Commonwealth, should be allowed to pay£1 15s. or £2 a week to men who work nine or ten hours a day, while New South Wales manufacturers are compelled to pay a wage of £2 5s. for a week’s work of forty-eight hours. It would be quite impossible for them to compete under the handicap of such conditions, and while each State should have a right to demand and try to secure its fair share of the industrial trade of the Commonwealth, the manufacturers should compete, not in flesh and blood, but in quality of manufactures, and with the best and highest class of machinery.
– Why does not the State of Queensland see that its operatives receive proper wages, as” has been done in Victoria and New South Wales?
– Having secured proper wages and conditions in Victoria, our duty is to try to maintain tham; and unless Ave do so. New South Wales, which is neglectful of its duty, will acquire a large amount of the trade which ought to belong to Victoria.
– The Federal Parliament did not secure those rates of wages to Victorian operatives, but the State Parliament did.
– Inasmuch as the States have neglected to do their duty, the Federal Parliament should interpose.
– Why not wipe out the States ?
– There are some persons who would be willing to do that; but I would not. I am urging that the national Parliament, which gives to the manufacturers in Queensland the protection of a 30 per cent, duty on boots, should compel them to have their boots made under humane conditions, such as exist in New South Wales and Victoria. And seeing that the Tariff applies to all the States, whether they, have industrial legislation or not, it is the duty of this House,- which gives to the manufacturers their protection, to say to the State of Queensland that if it will not do its duty, it will extend a moiety of that protection to the workers in various industries which have been established through the operation of the Tariff. That is the position in Queensland. Take the case of Tasmania, where we were threatened - and the threat was carried out in regard to the brush and jam trades - the disparity between the wages in that State and those paid in Victoria is most striking. Seeing that Tasmania reaps the advantages pertaining to the Tariff, we contend that it should be compelled to secure to its operatives fair wages and reasonable hours of work. The Parliament,- which possesses the power to protect manufacturers and secure to them the home market, should also have the power to insist on the workers receiving, through industrial legislation, their fair share of the benefits of such a policy. I need not detain the House by describing the process which would have to be gone through in order to vest in this Parliament the power to legislate in this direction, as it must be familiar to honorable members. All I ask is that the industrial workers, with other electors, should be afforded an opportunity of saying whether this great industrial question, which is so much affected by our legislation, should not be handed over to the Commonwealth Parliament to be dealt with in a comprehensive and common way. I have been urging reasons in the interests of the employ6, and I now wish to submit reasons in the interests of the manufacturer. I hold that it is most unfair to ask manufacturers in Victoria, after having received the benefit of Inter-State free-trade, to compete with manufacturers in other States who have not to comply with industrial regulations, such as exist in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. The simpler and the fewer these laws are, the better it will be for the employer as well as for the employed I quite agree with those who say that there is a very great danger of the Federal and States Arbitration Acts overlapping, and thus causing confusion and trouble; The more effective and universal in their operation these laws can be made, the better it will be for the consumers, the manufacturers, and the workmen.
– Does not the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill propose to do that ?
– Only in exceptional and isolated instances, as the honorable member knows.
– When the dispute goes outside the State.
– It goes beyond that.
– In a problematical sort of way it does.
– If it is constitutional it does.
– If the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is to be as far-reaching and comprehensive-
– As the clauses provide.
– If it is to be as farreaching and as comprehensive as my honorable friend appears to anticipate, my object will have been accomplished, because the States will then have been brought under the operation of one Federal Act, which would be decidedly to the benefit of manufacturers, employes, and people generally. But I am inclined to think that my honorable friend is too optimistic.
– No; I do not say that it is constitutional ; but the Bill provides for that.
– If it is not constitutional, the point of my argument is not lessened in any way.
– I do not know that it is constitutional.
– There are some persons who hope that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will, to a great extent, accomplish what I have in view in submitting this motion. I wish I could think that it would. I know that it is the declared intention of a number of persons to test the constitutionality of the law. Not only is it contended that it is- unconstitutional to bring the railway employes under its provisions, but the various Chambers of Commerce and Chambers of Manufactures have urged that it is ultra vires, and, therefore, unconstitutional.
– Not all of the measure.
– Yes. They contend that we have no power under the Constitution, as it is framed, to put the measure into force, and we know that they intend to contest its constitutionality. If it should be proved to be as comprehensive and effective as my honorable friend anticipates, I shall be more than satisfied, but I am afraid that it will not. Supposing, however, that it should, will not he, as a thoughtful business man, agree with me that the fewer of these laws we possess, if they are effective, and the fewer the complications, the better it will be for everybody concerned ?
– Hear, hear.
– It will be exceedingly undesirable to have, as undoubtedly we should, States and Federal arbitration laws over-lapping in a way which would bring difficulty and danger to our industrial life. I have no desire to shorten the debate on the motion. I realize that there is no chance of the House coming to a determination on the matter this afternoon, but I sincerely hope that it will receive from honorable members very earnest and careful consideration. I am confident that those who are most directly interested are in favour of the change proposed, and I earnestly hope that the House will adopt the motion.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has done me the honour of asking me to second this motion, which I do with pleasure, because I conceive that it is submitted in a proper spirit, and that if it be carried into effect it is calculated to promote industry in the Commonwealth. I agree with the honorable member that the authority which has the right for the most part to regulate trade and commerce in respect to Customs, Excise, bounties, and other matters, should also have the right to pass factory or industrial legislation. I do not wish -to pose as one of those who desire that the whole of the work of the States Parliaments shall be gradually withdrawn, and that eventually we shall arrive at what may be called an amalgamated state of affairs. I believe in Federation, but not in doing away with the States. And though I support this motion, I would not be prepared to support every other proposition on similar lines, which would have the effect of whittling away the powers of the States. This is one of the questions which are so intimately connected with Federal business that it ought to have been from the very beginning our privilege to deal with it. Since this Parliament has the right to deal with Customs, Excise, and bounties, as they touch trade and commerce in every relationship, I contend that it ought also to have the right to legislate in respect to social matters, as they affect trade and commerce. It should be borne in mind that this Parliament is also endowed with the right to legislate in respect of aliens, navigation, and shipping, and various matters which affect trade, quite apart from the other three matters to which I have referred. Altogether, the more closely we study the subject, the more clearly do we see that in almost every line affecting our industrial affairs, this Parliament has the right to interfere, except in connexion with the one line’ indicated by -the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. In Victoria, when we had to legislate only for this State, and our own Tariff applied to its commercial affairs, we had of course the right to do whatever we pleased with respect to our social laws. We extended protection to manufacturers to such an extent that they were enabled to build up successful businesses, and to carry on a vast field of various and useful operations. We were enabled in other directions to protect the well-being of the commercial and industrial life of this State. Those who were insistent upon giving privileges to the manufacturers, at a later stage saw the necessity of extending protection to the employes, and they gave effect to that policy. ‘ But in the Federal Parliament we are in the unfortunate position of being able to give protection to the employers, but scarcely any protection of any kind whatever to the employes. That is to say, we are enabled by means of our Customs and Excise, by our laws excluding aliens, by our navigation laws, and by measures of a cognate character, to hold out support to persons engaged in businesses which are affected, but we are scarcely able to do anything for the men employed, or to affect the conditions which obtain with respect to their employment. That is a mistake which ought to be remedied. I think that when the States themselves realize the actual position of affairs, they will be quite willing to hand over this kind of industrial legislation to the Federal Parliament. Of course, I am aware, as is every honorable member, that the States are particularly jealous of parting with any of their rights and privileges. I know, too, that a resolution has been passed at the instance of the present Attorney-General, inviting the States to hand over this branch of legislation to the Federal Parliament. The response to that invitation- has been very scanty indeed. But the fact that one effort of the kind has not resulted in what we desire ‘ought not to deter us from doing what we think ought to be done. In all the circumstances, it appears to me that we should persist in the effort until eventually we convince those who are opposing us that what we desire is the right thing to do. From the employers’ point of view there is also something to be said. Like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I am not here simply to advocate the claims of the employes. I feel that the commercial life of some of our States is threatened by reason of the fact that there is no uniformity in respect of our industrial laws. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to what has happened in Queensland. I wish to emphasize what he has said. In connexion with the boot and leather trade, Queensland possesses great advantages. Queensland . has to-day, I suppose, the greatest cattle trade in Australia. She exports an enormous quantity of meat. The hides from the beasts that are slaughtered can either be exported as raw hides, or converted into leather. Having converted them into leather, Queensland has special advantages in connexion with the manufacture of boots. Those great natural advantages in connexion with the . boot and leather trade in Queensland will be sure to be made use of at no distant date. Indeed, as I have reason to know, the State has already begun to take advantage of her opportunities. If, in addition, the Queensland manufacturers can obtain the services of workmen at very much lower rates of wages than rule in Victoria and New South Wales, it will be seen at once that her manufacturers can bring their goods into the markets of Australia, and sweep out of existence industries which have been built up at very great expense. In Victoria, after a number of years, and with the expenditure of a great amount of capital, we have at last succeeded in establishing a fairly flourishing boot industry. If, after the attack which has been made upon that industry through the operation of the Tariff, further attacks are to be made by. Queenslanders, who take advantage of the fact that they are not controlled by Factories Acts, there will be a very serious state of affairs, and it will affect the manufacturers . both in this State and in New South Wales. The same observation applies to other industries in relation to the competition of other States. It ‘ seems to me to be more and more clearly apparent that there is an absolute necessity for this Parliament to have power to deal with the social aspect of trade and commerce. I have said that some of us have been advocating protection, both for the employers and the employes. I am glad to think that in Australia we are much farther advanced in respect to social conditions than are some other countries. I wish to see further progress made. I wish to see our rates of wages and methods of business in advance of anything else of the same kind in the world. That object can be secured if we look to ourselves, develop our own re sources, mind our own business, and take care that there is no unfair or improper competition amongst us. If, however, what we have complained of is allowed to continue, the social legislation which has been enacted will be swept aside, and we shall have a return to the competition under which the weakest went to the wall, whilst the strongest, and perhaps the most unscrupulous, got to the top. Some reference has been made to the re-enactment of the Factories Act in Victoria. I am not sure when the present Act expires. I think it continues in operation for twelve months longer. But I do know, having been for some years connected with the AntiSweating League of Victoria, that every time an effort has been made to re-enact that measure, we have had to face the fiercest opposition, and have had the most unscrupulous attacks to overcome. If it be learnt, as it will be learnt sooner or later, that Victorian manufacturers are at a disadvantage as compared with those of other States in carrying on industrial operations, that fact will be extensively used as a reason for the non-re-enactment of that legislation. Indeed I am very much afraid that those who have hitherto helped us to carry on our campaign in favour of the Act, because it extends a measure of protection to the workmen, will not give us their assistance when they see that Victoria has to maintain rates of wages and conditions of employment that are not expected in other States, and that we. shall, under these disadvantages, be called upon to compete with rival manufacturers in other parts of the Commonwealth. Under all the circumstances, we require to obtain the consent of the several States to deal with this subject in a broad and comprehensive way. I do not urge that exactly the same conditions should apply to all the States. We have to recognise that the conditions of life vary very much. The difference in climatic conditions, the distances of certain localities from the large centres of population, the means of communication by rail or sea, and a number of other considerations must be taken into account. I think, however, that if this Parliament were intrusted with the task of passing uniform industrial laws, it would, as in the case of the Arbitration Bill, make fair provision for the varying conditions of life which already exist, and which must be further developed as the nation progresses. It would be far better for us. to have one body charged with the duty of dealing with all industries, from both the commercial and the social point of view. I need not take up any further time in citing instances to prove the necessity for the . action proposed. I have pleasure in seconding the motion, and I hope that it will meet with the generous consideration of honorable members
Debate (on motion by Mr. Batchelor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14th July (vide page 3275), on motion by Mr. Mcwilliams -
That, in the opinion of this House, any clauses relating to navigation proposed to be added to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill should be remitted to the Royal Commission appointed to take evidence in connexion with the proposed Navigation Bill for consideration and report.
Upon which Mr. McDonald had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added, “That the resolution be forwarded to the Senate for their concurrence.”
– Instead of referring the clauses mentioned in the motion to the Navigation Bill Commission, I should prefer, now that they have been eliminated from the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, to see them embodied in a short measure introduced by the Government. The desire of the honorable member for Franklin is to afford the ship-owners an opportunity to present their case to this House, but I think that we are sufficiently acquainted with the conditions of the shipping trade to enable us to pass legislation calculated to protect the interests of both our ship-owners and seamen. The ship-owners could present their case to the Court, with an assurance that justice would be meted out to them. No proof has been afforded that any injustice would be done to any of the States bv adopting the Government proposals. We have been told that the mail steamers would probably cease to call at Fremantle, but I do not think that such legislation as that suggested would have the slightest effect upon the mail companies.
– A number of persons in Western Australia believe that it will seriously affect them.
– I am quite sure that the seamen of Western Australia will not approve of the action of those hon orable members who voted against the clauses being embodied in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It has been stated that the oversea ship-owners would evade the proposed law by signing-on their sailors at a fixed sum for the round, trip. Any ship-owners that attempted to do such a thing could be regarded only as evaders of the law, and the suggestion that they would adopt that line of action affords a peculiarly strong argument in favour of extending the fullest protection to local ship-owners. I have no doubt that the oversea ship-owners will endeavour to evade the law ; but I question whether they will succeed. The honorable member for Franklin stated that the only advantages conferred upon his State by Federation were those which it derived from the establishment of Inter-State free-trade. He pointed to the fact that a loss of£12,000 to£14,000 had been incurred in connexion, with the Tasmanian Post Office Department. The honorable member did not, however, explain that this might be to some extent accounted for by the fact that the newspaper postage in that State has been reduced. I do not think that the proposed clauses would operate to the disadvantage of our producers. , I have here an interesting report of the proceedings of a Conference, attended by representatives of the States Navigation Departments, held in Sydney in April, 1903. The Conference considered a number of important matters relating to our shipping trade. It was constituted of the following officials : - Captain James Edie, Superintendent of the Department of Navigation, New South Wales ; Mr. C. W. Maclean, member of the Marine Board, and Engineer-in-Charge of Ports and Harbors, Victoria; Captain J. Mackay, Portmaster and Chairman of the Marine Board, Brisbane; and Mr. Arthur Searcy, President of - the Marine Board, South Australia. Dr. Wollaston also attended as the representative of the Commonwealth. I think that honorable members will agree that these gentlemen are perhaps the most competent that could be found within the Commonwealth to deal with such a question. The report states -
After most careful inquiries, we arrived at the unanimous opinion that no enactment by the Federal Parliament in regard to this subject could be considered adequate or satisfactory which did not make complete provision for the following matters, viz. : -
The efficient manning of ships in regard to both officers and crew.
Safety, and ccmfort of passengers, officers, and seamen.
Thorough and frequent survey and inspection of all classes of vessels in reference to their general efficiency and seaworthiness, especially in regard to equipment, as defined in the Draft Bill.
Encouragement of the Australian shipping trade, and of employment of British subjects on board Australian ships.
Prevention of undue competition with
The Conference had before it the report of the Select Committee appointed by the Im”perial Parliament to consider questions relating to Navigation, which is referred to as follows : -
In introducing to the House of Commons a ‘very comprehensive and greatly ramified extension of our factory legislation on the 1st March, 1895, the Home Secretary said - “The Bill is framed in what has animated the whole’ of our factory legislation, the aim and intention of which, I understand, to be to provide for all classes of workers to whom it applies those reasonable conditions for the safety of life and health, which are, in fact, observed by wise employers and well-conducted undertakings. This view was readily acquiesced in by the House of Commons, irrespective of party, and we accept it as furnishing us with a guide, if guidance be necessary, in the preparation of their report, and in framing the proposals which it will be found to embody.- Our inquiry has developed no reasons for attempting to do more than to secure for, seamen and firemen in our Mercantile Marine those reasonable conditions for the safety of life and health, which are, in fact, observed by wise employers and well-conducted undertakings. To do less than this for our countrymen whose lives are spent afloat under the supreme control of the master of the ship, for the time being, and far away from those opportunities of self -protection which life ashore affords, would be to withhold from men who run great risks, and to whom redress is difficult, that legislative protection which is freely accorded to men whose risks are smaller, and who have the means of redress always at hand.”
Thus precisely the same view was taken with regard to the protection of shipping that is entertained, by a large section of the Australian public. The report goes on to say -
In connexion with this branch of the subject, the following points had to be considered, and especially the limits to which our legislation should go in each case : -
Employment of foreigners in British ships, both as officers and seamen.
The competition to which Australian- owned ships are now subject, owing to the intrusion into the Australian coastal trade of -
British ships subsidized or paying less wages to their crews than Australian ships.
Foreign ships of the same kind,
The extent in which our legislation should go in regard to -
British ships not entering into the Australian coastal trade, but carrying pas sengers and cargo from Australian ports to any other ports outside Australia.
Foreign ships not engaging in the coast in trade, but carrying passengers or cargo to any port in the British Dominions.
The same, carrying cargo and passengers from any port in Australia to any other port.
We are of opinion in regard to 1 that provision should be made that no person other than a British subject should go as an officer of a British’ ship sailing out of any port in Australia, and that of the whole ship’s company not less than threefourths of the seamen should be British subjects. We have provided accordingly, and no seaman should be shipped as an A.B. who cannot understand the English language.
I think honorable members will admit that this is a very valuable and interesting report, and that it shows that the whole question was exhaustively considered. It’ is sufficient, in my opinion, to prove that the motion now before us is unnecessary. The report further states -
As to 11 (a) and (b), we are already of opinion that all vessels, whether British or foreign, which carry passengers or cargo from any port in Australia to any other port therein, should be treated without exception in the same manner, and come under the same laws and regulations, i.e., whatever wages are paid in Australian ships’ should bc paid in those ships, and whatever is required from the other classes of ships mentioned.
We have been told that foreign oversea vessels do not really compete with our local steamships, but I shall show that not only is the competition very severe, but almost intolerable. The London Select Committee on Steam-shipping Subsidies stated in their report that the German line of steamers trading to Australia received a subsidy of £115,000 per annum for its Australian service, that the Messageries Maritimes also received a large subsidy, the amount of which could not be ascertained, beside other preferential advantages, and that other foreign countries gave subsidies to vessels trading outside their dominions. I think that all this points to the necessity for immediate action on the part of the Government in the direction I have suggested. I propose to give one instance of the nature of the competition to whichI have referred. A French vessel, on a voyage lasting eleven months and twenty-two days, earned only £300, but the bounty amounted to no less than £3,579, so that a profit of 22 per cent, was declared. Owing to the mileage bounty, the French competition against British vessels is exceptionallv severe in the long distance trade, and will be greatly felt in the Australian trade, unless we take means to protect the local owners.’ Another very interesting paragraph from the report is as follows : -
The present is a suitable time for the consideration of the question of allowing foreign-owned ships to engage in our local coastal trade. The report already quoted contains the following paragraph : - “ The next contributory cause with foreign subsidies affecting British trade, is the reservation by foreign nations of their coasting trade to their own ships. Indeed, in many quarters this is regarded as an indirect subvention or subsidy. Although British coasting trade is absolutely open to vessels of all nations, many nations reserve their trade between their own ports to their own vessels. A list of foreign countries, with particulars whether their coasting trade is reserved or open to British vessels, prepared by the Foreign Office, is printed in Appendix (1902). This class of restriction appears to be on the increase, so that the field for British trading throughout the world is becoming gradually but surely circumscribed. The United States extend the doctrine so as to declare a voyage from New York round Cape Horn to San Francisco, or from San Francisco to Honolulu, to be a “ coasting voyage,” and as such they restrict it to vessels carrying the United States flag. Similarly, France refuses to allow any but French vessels to trade between French ports and Algeria; and Russia, in reserving its coasting trade to its own flag, includes in its restriction the navigation between Russian ports in the Baltic and the Black Sea, and between all Russian ports and Vladivostock, in the far east of Siberia. Such restrictions have seriously affected British trade.”
That statement should make it evident that unless we put all vessels engaged in the Australian trade on the same footing, the local ship-owners will seriously suffer. The report continues : -
The gist of this report of the Subsidies Commission, is that the adoption of sound principles and uniform laws applicable to the shipping of ali nations in British ports is necessary, and this statement has received large support from the shipowners of Great Britain. Thus the Liverpool Shipowners’ Association, representing nearly 3,0001,000 tons of shipping, complain that they are handicapped, not only by the protection and assistance given to foreign competitors by the laws of their country, but also by the unfair advantage given to foreign ships in the home (that is British) ports; and it seems clear that this unequal contest must ultimately tell against British shipping in a serious way-
There is much valuable information in this document, and I hope that it will shortly be made available to honorable members. If they read it carefully, I feel satisfied that they will agree with me that to refer the clauses which it was proposed to insert in the Arbitration Bill to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill is only to waste time, and to run the risk of creat ing another great maritime strike. We have been told by those who opposed the insertion of the clauses in the Arbitration Bill that the local ship-owners are making splendid profits, and are quite able to pay good wages. If that is so, the recent reduction of 1 os. a month was most unfair, and pur seamen are not likely to stand that sort of thing very long. It may be that, if we refer these clauses to the Royal Commission, we shall plunge Australia into an in-‘ dustrial dispute whose consequences will be disastrous to employers, employes, and the public alike. For that reason I am strongly opposed to the motion.
– I refrained from speaking on the motion when it was first introduced, and upon the proposal to insert in the Arbitration Bill the new clauses to which it refers, because I am a member of the Commission to which the Navigation Bill has been remitted for report. But now that honorable members have decided not to insert these clauses in the Arbitration Bill, my way is clear to support the motion now before us. It seems to me,’ too, that as these clauses are not to be inserted in the Arbitration Bill, what the honorable member for Hindmarsh desires could be best obtained, if obtained at all, by remitting them to the Commission for consideration. The question is much bigger and wider than most of those who have addressed themselves to it appear to think. One of the chief troubles in the industrial world to-day is how to regulate the severe competition among shipowners which is caused by the practice of foreign Governments of supplementing by bonuses the earnings of their shipping companies. At the present time there is sitting in the United States a Commission, which has admitted in its progress reports that all that has been done to foster the shipping business of that country, and to protect it from the effects of competition, has utterly failed. It seems to me, therefore, that we must look further than the example of America, and that what has been said about the great loss caused to the people of the United Kingdom by foreigncompetition is beside the mark, in view of the fact that that country, notwithstanding the great advance made by Germany, France and the United States, still maintains a preeminent position in regard to the carrying trade of the world. Notwithstanding that the shipping of the United States has enjoyed all the protection and all the fostering that the ingenuity of politicians and publicists could devise, the fact remains that 90 per cent, of the trade of that country is carried in foreign bottoms.
– Would not the position of affairs have been worse if America had not adopted protective measures?
– I fail to see how it could be worse. These facts are pressing themselves upon the attention of earnest men, who are giving consideration to the subject. It is being admitted that the American system is wanting in some respects.
– The subsidized steamers of other nations, have knocked out the American steamers.
– If the subsidized steamers of other nations have knocked out the American steamers, which have been protected, why have they not also knocked out the British steamers, which have not been protected?
– They are fast knocking them out.
– My mind is quite open upon the question, and I think the best thing the House can do is to remit it to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill. The members of the Commission will, no doubt, consider it, even if there is no special remission of it to them, because it comes naturally within the scope of their inquiries. When the Commission has taken all the evidence obtainable in regard to the matter. Parliament will be better able to determine as to the wisdom of taking measures to preserve our carrying interests. It seems to me that some of the proposals which have recently been made in this Chamber would have the effect, not of improving the carrying trade of the Empire, but of retarding it. If honorable members opposite were content to propose repressive measures in regard to foreign vessels only, their position could be understood, though I do not know that I would vote for such legislation. It seems absurd to think that the prestige which Great Britain has enjoyed for centuries in her control of the shipping trade of the world should be diminished by the act of dependencies in passing repressive legislation applying to British, as well as to foreign shipping. It is to our interests to have the greatest facility of communication with other parts of the civilized world, and any measure which will interfere with that communication will act prejudicially upon the Commonwealth. I am content that full inquiry should be made, with a view to ascertain how far it is possible to remedy the evils which arise from the unfair competition to which British vessels are subjected, by reason of the high subsidies paid by foreign Governments to foreign vessels. For that reason, I think the consideration of these clauses should be remitted to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, whose members will give every attention to the important and startling facts which the honorable member for Hindmarsh has laid before the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether this motion should appear on the notice-paper.
– The House has already determined that the debate on this motion shall be adjourned, and the only question is the date to which it shall be adjourned. On the point of order, I would say that the House has not discussed this question, except on the motion itself ; what may be done in regard to a Bill in Committee is an entirely different matter.
Motion (by Mr. G. B. Edwards) agreed to-
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday next.
Motion (by Mr. Batchelor) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next.
– I would ask the Minister to explain why it is proposed to adjourn until Tuesday next? It is most unfortunate that, simply because of a proposal on the part of a number of honorable members to inspect one of the sites proposed for the Federal Capital, the whole of the business of the House should be suspended for two days. I do not know whether this is to be the last of the series of trips responsible for the suspension of Friday sittings. We have already had reports on, and visits of inspection to, eleven different sites in the Hume electorate, namely, Gadara, Lacmalac, Ellerslie, Mundongo, Tumut, Table Top, Batlow, Wyangle, Red Hill, Bondo, and Toomoorama, and now we are asked to visit another. A promise was made by the Prime Minister that reasonable opportunities would be afforded honor able members to inspect any site within the three districts already selected, Bombala, Tumut, and Lyndhurst, but the site now proposed to be inspected does not come within that category. If honorable members look at the map in the Library, they will find that Tooma is outside the area of 900 square miles proposed to be included in the Tumut site, so that the Government are now consenting to the inspection of sites outside those selected1 last session. If it is the intention of the Ministry to allow every possible site in the electorate of Hume to be inspected, it is just as well that the House should be informed of that fact. We have been in session since the 2nd of March .last, and have passed only one short measure - the Acts Interpretation Act Amendment Bill - and it is time that we pushed on with the public business of the country. I postponed business engagements for tomorrow, because I was under the impression that the House would meet as usual.
– It was announced in the House yesterday that there would be no sitting on Friday.
-I was not aware of it, and I do not think that such an announcement should have been made. Business arrangements cannot be altered at short notice.
– Does <the honorable and learned member mean to say that no intimation of the proposed adjournment should have been given - that it should have been sprung on honorable members?
– No ; I say that we should meet as usual to-morrow, but having agreed to an adjournment this afternoon the Government should have given us more than two days’ notice. The business of the Parliament should not be completely suspended because of this projected trip. Three or four measures are set down for their second reading, but not one of them has yet been reached. I do not know why the honorable member for Hume should be able to secure the suspension of the business of the country in order that new sites in his electorate may be inspected. As I have mentioned, we have already inspected eleven, and not one of them has a ghost of a show, but the honorable member now proposes to increase the list to the fatal number of thirteen. If I could obtain an assurance from the Minister that the trip to Tooma would be the last of these inspections, which involve a considerable expenditure, I should be satisfied; but it is about’ time that the protest made a fortnight ago against these early adjournments was repeated by honorable members, and respected by the Government.
– There are fifteen sites in the Hume electorate. The honorable and learned member for Corio has not mentioned Albury.
– Albury is not considered to be in the running. In common with other honorable members, I have to remain in Melbourne, and am anxious that the business of the Parliament shall be dealt with, and that the session shall be a little more productive than it appears likely to be.
– I hope that the utterances of the honorable and learned member for Corio are not a mere phonographic record of the views of the honorable member for Eden-Bombala, but it seems to me that they suggest something of the sort. I do not imagine that anything I might do would please the honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat, for ever since a certain date he has endeavoured to find fault with every proposal that I have made
– What date?
– I dare say that it will come out. I do not regard the remarks of the honorable and learned member in a serious light, although they have sometimes been very rude.
– I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the statement by the honorable member, that I am sometimes verv rude. It is distinctly ‘ offensive. The honorable member does not appear to know what he is saying.
– If the honorable and learned member feels hurt, I have no doubt that the honorable member for Hume will withdraw the remark.
– I do not ask for its withdrawal on that ground. I contend that it is distinctly unparliamentary to accuse an honorable member of rudeness.
– I have never .known an honorable member to be compelled to withdraw such a remark, but if the honorable and learned member for Corio feels hurt by it I am sure that the honorable member for Hume will withdraw it.
– No, I do not feel hurt bv it.
– As the honorable member takes exception to the remark,
I shall withdraw it. In dealing with this question he, like one or two other honorable members, has made a few mistakes. There are not thirteen or fourteen, or’ even fifteen, different sites under consideration in my electorate, and it is not proposed to ask honorable members to visit two new sites. The various localities to which the honorable and learned member has referred bear different names, but for the most part they are within a radius of four or five miles. Some persons speak of the Tooma site as the Welaregang site, but the site proposed is, I understand, between the two places named.
– We decided last session that the site of the. Capital should be within twenty-five miles of Tumut.
– I am aware that the right honorable member succeeded in securing the insertion of some impossible stipulation in the Bill.
– The honorable member agreed to it.
– I did not, and I told the right honorable member at the time that I did not agree to it. The site now proposed to be inspected is within the territory prescribed in the Bill which was before the last Parliament. The extension of the area from Tumut to the Murrumbidgee was made at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who considered that the territory within which it was proposed to build the Capital should be extended as far as Yass, inasmuch as it was proposed to extend it as far south as the Murray. I was not the first to urge the inspection of the Tooma site. When the matter was under consideration last session the honorable member for Grampians, as honorable members, will recollect, was most persistent in his desire that it should be inspected. I said then that the only reason why I did not feel justified in supporting that proposal was that I considered the site was too far south to come within the spirit of the Constitution. It was not because I was not familiar with the characteristics of the country that I refrained from urging its inclusion.
– I said then that it was not further south than was Alburv.
– Quite so. I now find that it is nearly fifty miles further north than is Bombala, and twentysix miles further north than is Dalgety. By referring to the map, honorable members will see for themselves that this is so. 6d
– But it is not so near to Sydney as is Dalgety.
– I would remind honorable members that it is not in order to discuss, even on a motion of this kind, any order of the day which appears on the notice-paper. As there is an order of -the day relating to the Seat . of Government Bill on the notice-paper, I must ask the honorable member not to discuss it.
– I do not wish to discuss that matter. It was simply my desire to reply to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Corio, and, if I may be permitted to answer an interjection, I would point out that it was at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that the extension from Tumut to the Mumimbidgee was made.
– No; I said that as it was proposed to acquire so large a territory, we should extend the area from Tumut to the Tweed River- that we might as well extend the area to the Queensland border.
– I have no desire to disregard the Standing Orders; but I would point out that if the inspection of sites this session had been strictly limited to those selected by the two Houses of the Parliament, Lyndhurst could not have been visited. No one objected, however, when it was proposed some weeks ago to afford honorable members facilities to inspect thai site. As a matter of fact, I assisted those who wished to secure its inspection. If it could be shown that the best site had nor yet been seemed, I think that we should bewarranted in inspecting even fifty sites, if necessary, in order to arrive at the best possible result.
– There has been noinspection of Lyndhurst since the last Parliament.
– The right honorable member and others inspected it.
– Not officially.
– The right honorable member for Swan is mistaken. There have been two inspections of the Lyndhurst site since then.
– I was referring to inspections by surveyors.
– The Lyndhurst site has not been inspected by surveyors during this session, but a large party of honorable members recently visited it. The right honorable member and one or two others also did so.
– All the remaining sites were to be inspected, and Lyndhurst is one of them.
– It was first intended that the only sites to be considered should be those that were definitely left in the running after the Seat of Government Bill had been considered by the last Parliament. I refer to Tumut and Bombala.
– That was the distinct intention. I presume, however, that no one would object to the inspection of other sites which were considered more desirable. This question should not be dealt with from party motives. There are good sites in the electorate which I represent, but I trust that in dealing with this question I shall always be influenced by a desire to do only that which is right and fair. If I found that there was a more desirable site than any in my electorate, I hope that I should be sufficiently broadminded and public-spirited to vote for it rather than support the selection of a site of which I did not approve, merely because it happened to be in my own constituency.
– Why did not the honorable member vote for Albury ?
– I agree that Albury would be an excellent site, but -when there is no likelihood of securing its selection it is useless for one to throw away his vote. Some honorable members, and especially the honorable and learned member for Corio, appear to be anxious to makecutting observations in reference to myself, but I can assure them that their utterances do not cut very deeply. I am only doing what I should do for any other honorable member in arranging this inspection. I know the district well, and, in the absence of large hotel accommodation, the residents, who are my constituents, would. I dare say, do a little more to help me with a large party than they would to help a stranger.
– I should be the last to place any obstacle in the way of an inspection of any site likely to prove suitable. My complaint is that the Government, while urging us. to settle the question of the Federal Capital’ are at the same time offering facilities for the examination of new areas. This question has been under consideration for a couple of years, and was fully discussed last session; and, in the face of the decision which was then arrived at, and after all the visits of inspection and the numerous reports which we have received, it is hardly fair to now confront us with a new site.
– We are not confronted with a new site.
– If further visits of inspection have to take place, it is only reasonable to ask that the final decision be deferred for some time in order that we may be in possession of the fullest information. I cannot understand the Government offering facilities for the examination of fresh sites, and thus complicating the question, in view of their appeals to the House to settle the matter promptly. When the proper, time comes I shall urge that the matter be deferred, and some time allowed to elapse before we are asked to decide.
– The right honorable member had better move an amendment on the motion for the second reading.
-I do not wish to do anything of the sort; all I desire is thatwe may have reasonable time in which to consider this new phase of the question. The honorable member for Hume knows the district well, and had ample time in which to suggest all the sites he considered suitable; but, although he himself had charge of the Bill last session, and supported the selection of Tumut, or some site within twenty-five miles of Tumut, it is only now at the eleventh hour that Tooma is suggested. Those of us who . have made up our minds as to the site we favour are now asked to reconsider the whole question. I am quite willing to examine this site, or a dozen other sites, so long as we are not “rushed” in Committee, and asked to come to a conclusion in the absence of adequate information. I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Corio that the habit which this House appears to be getting into of sitting only two or three days a week is becoming rather troublesome. For the last three weeks we have not met on Fridays, and sometimes have not sat on Thursdays; and, seeing that we have been five months in session, and have done very little, we should not only sit the full four sitting days, but ought to consider the desirableness of extending the sittings, if that be necessary, to enable the business of the country to be done.
– I take the full responsibility, not only for having pressed this site on the attention of the House last session, but also for having asked the honorable member for Hume to arrange the proposed party of inspection. When the sites were being considered on the first occasion, I suggested that Tooma should be inspected along with Tumut, and Dalgety along with Bombala; but the Minister said that my suggestion was not practicable. Nevertheless, Dalgety was inspected, though Tooma did not receive a visit.
– The reason was that the House had decided on a site within twentv-five miles of Tumut.
– That may be so. Having heard of the Tooma site from men in whom I have thorough confidence, I considered it was a place which ought to be inspected. An inspection I have made, and further information received only strengthens that opinion. I agree with the right honorable member for Swan that it would be well to have a more detailed report on the district before we go into Committee on the Seat of Government Bill. The report by Mr. Chesterman is certainly a very good one; but the Government would, only be doing justice to themselves if they called for more details. Personally, although I voted for the Tumut site last session, I should not do so again, unless the Tooma site were included. In the absence of any adverse report, I shall feel it my duty to vote for that part of the country in which Tooma is situated as against any other area which I have seen, or of which I have neard. I presume we all agree that we should first select a certain area, within which the site of the Federal Capital shall be situated.
– If we go off the track like that, there aremany sites nearer Sydney which we may have to examine.
– I do not know of any more suitable site nearer Sydney ; I had pretty well in my own mind exhausted the sites before I voted for Tumut.
– The country at Tooma has been settled for forty years, and has scarcely made anv advance in that time.
– I can only say that three years ago, in connexion with some starving stock on the Murrumbidgee-
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the merits of any site.
– I think the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is wrong in saying that this district has not advanced. The country there is magnificent ; certainly much better than on any proposed area which I have seen or of which I have heard.
– I should not have risen but for the extraordinary allegation made by the honorable member for Hume, that I was in favour of having the area of the Tumut site extended to the Murrumbidgee. On referring to Hansard, I find that when the honorable member himself made a suggestion to that effect, I asked - .
Why not take it to the Tweed River ; that would be one of the limits naturally, because it is on the Queensland border.
I protested against the extension of the territory as making the whole Bill a farce - as a proposal not likely to be listened to for one moment by the people of New South Wales. I think the honorable member for Hume must have confused me with the honorable member for Canobolas, who did make some suggestion about the Murrumbidgee, though, I believe, that that suggestion was made with the same object as was my own, namely, to show the absolute absurdity of the whole proposal. If it is thought fit, as a reward for the votes of the honorable, member for Hume, that this picnic should be arranged, well and good ; but let the honorable member boldly say, “I have a right to go on this picnic, because of my votes in the House.” For three years the honorable member for Hume was Minister, and he knew of this district, but we never heard one word about it as a proposed Capital site. If he had taken honorable members to the site on a visit of inspection, it is probable they would have regarded their time as wasted; but three years afterwards, the honorable member comes forward with a suggestion to visit this district, which, although in some parts very nice, is in others heavily timbered, the climate not being the most pleasant in the world. It is extraordinary that, with the whole of the honorable member’s electors making suggestions as to where the Capital should be, no one once mentioned this site. If Tooma should turn out to be the best place, I have no objection to its being chosen ; but it would be a distinct departure from the real spirit of the agreement that-
– I must ask the honorable and learned member not to discuss the Bill.
– I was only going to say that it would be a distinct departure from the agreement arrived at with New South Wales. I regret that the honorable member for Hume should have made use of my name, when I was not the one from whom the suggestion came, to extend the area to the Mumimbidgee ; and I further regret that he does not see fit to withdraw the statement.
– What I said will be found in Hansard.
– I have referred to Hansard, and I am certain the honorable member never heard me make such a suggestion.
– I take exception to the suggestion of the honorable member for Hume that the honorable and learned member for Corio was simply my phonograph.
– I said I hoped that the honorable and learned member for Corio was not the honorable member’s phonograph.
– I should like to say that I had no conversation with the honorable and learned member for Corio, nor did I suggest that he should take thi step which he did; and I ask the honorable member for Hume not to “measure my coin” with his “bushel.” I have no objection to the proposed visit to Tooma, because, after all, our only desire is to select the best site. I hope that the site selected will be the one which is the most suitable; but, in order that the best may. be done for Australia, it is desirable that honorable members should see all the suggested areas. I feel sure that the Government would extend to me the same privilege that they have extended to the honorable member for Hume, if I desired that honorable members should inspect any fresh site in the district which I represent. [ cannot accept the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that the action of the Government is likely to be changed or dominated by the fact that an honorable member accords them his support.
– That was not what I suggested. What I said was that the honorable member for Hume had been voting in a certain way in order to get this picnic arranged for him.
– That is an unworthy suggestion.
– It is not a bit more unworthy than the suggestion which the honorable and learned member for Hume made in regard to myself.
– I think the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is mistaken in regard to the honorable member for Hume- But it would be only fair to me, and to the House* if, in the event of the debate on the second reading of the Bill continuing, as it is likely to do* until next Thursday, a number of honorable members express a desire to inspect another portion of my district,’ namely, Twofold Bay, that another adjournment should be granted.
– What new site does the honorable member propose?
– I hold that Twofold Bay is the port for any site in the Monaro district. I stand by the site which I advocated here in the first instance, but of course I should be ruled out of order if I were to attempt to discuss its merits. This proposal to vote for districts will place a serious handicap on Southern Monaro and Lyndhurst. In the district in which the site to be inspected is situated, fourteen other sites have already been reported on. If those sites were to get only three votes apiece; if they were to be massed together, that circumstance would give the district a support in. the House sufficient to enable it to win. I hope that every facility for inspection will be given to honorable members by the Government, and as far as I can, I shall take every possible advantage of the rules of the House to block any attempt to come to a vote on sites which have not been subjected to a similar scrutiny. I remember sites which have been visited where there were running streams, and in connexion with which no information as to the water supply was given to honorable members. Some of these sites look very well on paper, until the official information is supplied. I consider that the right- honorable member for Swan is quite right when he says that we require to have further information. I think that the Government have shown a very laudable desire to allow honorable members to see as many of the sites as possible, and to get information. But let us have complete information, and act with our eyes open. Any action of this kind means postponing the decision on this question. If there is any possible chance of our making a mistake in selecting a site, it would be wiser to take the course suggested by the honorable member, and to get all the information which is wanted. It is a remarkable thing that that information has not been previously asked for by so energetic and regular an attendant as the honorable member for Grampians.
– I have been asking for it for two or three years.
– The honorable member could not have wanted the information very badly. If he desired an inspection of this place for two or three years, he would probably have succeeded in attaining his object.
– Look at Hansard.
– The approaching departure of the train prevents me from saying all I would like to say. I shall avail myself of another opportunity. I hope that when we come to the question of selection the best site available will be chosen. I trust that those who are going to make this visit of inspection will have a pleasant trip, and all those who have the leisure ought to go. I hope that next week the Government will afford me similar facilities, so that we may go to Twofold Bay to see the port. That, I think, would be only reasonable, if a number of honorable members should desire to go.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I only rise to support the contention of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. It was very unfair of the honorable member for Hume to say that that honorable and learned member was responsible for the proposal which is now submitted.
– It might have been only a slip of memory, and he did not correct it.
– We all know that the honorable and learned member was a strong advocate of the Lyndhurst site, and supported its selection right through, except in the case of his first vote, which was cast for Lake George. On every other occasion he spoke strongly in favour of and cast his vote for the Lyndhurst site, and against the contention put forward by the honorable member for Hume.
– At the time I pointed out objections to Tumut, and now the whole House agrees with me.
– I do not desire to delay those honorable members who have to catch a train, and, therefore, I shall reserve the expression of my views until next week.
– The right honorable member for Swan finds fault- with the Government because, he says, they are introducing new sites for the consideration of the House. and by that action rendering it difficult for honorable members to come to a decision. That charge is not accurate, and if the right honorable gentleman will take the trouble to refer to the only speech I made on this question last session he will find that I voted for the selection of Tumut, because, as I explained, it included this particular territory, and for no other reason. So that with me it is by no means a new site. It is the only site which at that time I thought was suitable.
– That was the selection of the territory, not the site of the Capital.
– Of course it was the selection of the territory, and the right honorable member must recollect that our measure embraces not only the actual site of the Seat of Government, but also the Federal Territory. When the question of visiting any other sites, and of getting reports from Mr. Chesterman, Mr. Scrivener, or any other surveyor, was raised in the House this session, I stated that the Government would be prepared to give honorable members every facility for inspecting any of the sites and of getting a report up to the stage when the Bill was to be introduced, but that no inspection of a site or obtaining of a report would be allowed to delay its introduction. The measure is now before the House; and a very considerable number of honorable members have expressed a desire to see the Tooma site. It is, above all things, desirable that the House should select absolutely the best site. Even supposing that the proposed adjournment may delay public business for a few hours, surely that is not going to be urged against the Government? The honorable and learned member for Corio put it very strongly, that we “should not have pro poses this adjournment to-day, but in my opinion the Government would have acted very wrongly when such a large number of honorable members expressed a wish to see the Tooma site, before coming to a vote, if they had said, “ No, you shall have no opportunity ; you shall go on and select a site now.” I think the House will exonerate the Government as regards another charge which has been made by an honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now. adjourn.
Next week I shall ask honorable members I to pass a Supply Bill for the payment of the ordinary services for the month of July. As I indicated some time ago, I have not been able this year to advance the preparations for the delivery of the Budget as rapidly as was the case last year, owing to the late period at which the scheme for the classification of the Public Service was presented to the Government and Parliament. Therefore, next week I shall be under the necessity of asking that a Supply Bill shall be passed. It will not contain any items other than those which are necessary for carrying on the ordinary services for this month, on the basis of last year’s pay-, ments.
– What other business will be taken next week?
– The Seat of Government Bill.
– All the week?
– Until . it is finished with.
– When shall we see any amendments which Ministers intend to propose on the recommittal of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– I hope to have those amendments- ready for the printer by Tuesday next. But in any case the reconsideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be proceeded with as soon as the Seat of Government Bill has been finished with - unless, of course, the debate on that measure should last until a few hours before the House would ordinarily conclude its sittings for the week.
– It is reported in the newspapers that Brigadier-General Finn is to be appointed to the command of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. I have nothing personal to say against that gentleman, who, I understand, is a capable, experienced officer ; but I would ask the Ministry to pause before they make this appointment, because it will have to be made for a definite time, and that will mean the extinction, of any hope of an Australian officer ever being appointed to the position. Of course, the Minister of Defence is acting on the statements made by the General Officer Commanding in his last annual report, in which he writes strongly against Australian . officers. But I wish the Minister to rememberthat in his previous report that officer said -
The distance and isolation of Australia render it absolutely indispensable that, in training and equipment, the defence system of Australia should be independent of outside assistance. … In times of peace it is most inadvisable for Australia to rely upon the assistance of Imperial officers to lead and train its troops, or upon the Imperial resources to obtain equipment and ammunition for their use. In time of national emergency it would be impracticable.
I wish the Prime Minister to realize that he is now creating a precedent. For the first time since the Forces have been united and placed under a Defence Act, it has been possible to appoint a General Officer Commanding or an Inspector-General; and we find that the system of importing Imperial officers is to be continued. Supposing that we were to import the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, or the Premiers of the States, how would it be possible, I ask the honorable member for Bland, for Australian sentiment to assert itself? Or how would it be possible for that sentiment ever to grow, or for Australia ever to be self-contained? I urge the honorable gentleman, not only in this case, but in others, to consider what the appointment of outsiders to official positions will mean. It will simply have the effect of destroying any Australian sentiment. I’ hope that there will be another opportunity to discuss this matter. I wish the Government to consider that no officer, unless he has had an Australian training and possesses local knowledge, can fitly lead our Forces. The United States has not to go outside for a Commandant. Canada, I am glad to say, is giving up the practice of importing an Imperial Commandant. I believe that, in the future, the office will be held by a Canadian officer. I understand that the Government are to make an appointment on Tuesday next, but I would earnestly ask them to delay taking any action until the House has had an opportunity to express its opinion.
– The only action which has been decided upon as far as BrigadierGeneral Finn is concerned is that he shall be re-appointed to his present position for a further term. So far as concerns the appointment of an Inspector-General of the Forces, the matter has yet to be definitely decided. Before any decision is arrived at, the very fullest consideration will be given to the whole subject, and to the points which the honorable and learned member has mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 July 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040721_reps_2_20/>.