2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.3c p.m., and read prayers.
Count Out : Resumption of Committee
– I desire to ask the concurrence of the House to submit a motion which will enable the Estimates to be proceeded with to-day. Honorable members will recollect that, unfortunately, last evening we were just short of a quorum, with the result that the Estimates lapsed, and Supply has fallen from, the business-paper. . It is quite competent for the House, upon motion, if it so desires, to restore that business to the notice-paper, when it will occupy the same position as it did last night when we were dealing with the Estimates.
– What is the number of the standing order which relates to the matter ?
– We can, with the concurrence of the House, deal with any matter without notice. Of course, any honorable member can object to granting me the necessary leave to submit a motion without notice. Under the circumstances, perhaps I had better seek the concurrence of the House first.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Treasurer have leave to move- a motion without notice?
– I object.
– Then I desire to move -
That standing orders Nos. 108 and 235 be suspended, in order to allow a motion to be made for the resumption of the Committee of Supply without notice.
This motion will require the support’ of thirty-eight honorable members to give it any effect.
– I would point out that the motion which the Treasurer has submitted will simply suspend the Standing Orders so far as notice is concerned. It it be carried, the Treasurer, I imagine,’ will then move’ the motion which he desired’ to submit just now.
– It seems to me that, the ordinary course under the Standing Orders may very well be followed upon the present occasion. That course renders it necessary’ for the Treasurer to give notice of his motion for to-morrow. There will then be no objection- to restoring the’ lapsed business to the paper. The count-out last night was solely the fault of the Government.
– There were more members of the Opposition present than there were Government supporters.
– I do not see why the Ministry should not follow the ordinary course prescribed by the Standing Orders.
– That will involve a waste of time.
– Why was not the right honorable member present last night?
– Honorable members who interject across the Chamber are grossly disorderly.
– I did calculate upon the concurrence of the Opposition in facilitating the despatch of public business by adopting the shortest possible method of averting the. inconvenience which has arisen from an accident. Many such accidents might have happened upon former occasions if the present tactics of the Opposition had been followed. However, I . am perfectly satisfied to leave the matter to the objection which has been raised bv the leader of the Opposition. I. recognise that we can only carry the motion with the concurrence’ of the Opposition, because thirty-eight honorable members are required to give it any effect Consequently, I advise the Treasurer to withdraw the motion, and to give the usual notice.
– Let us divide upon the matter.
– In order to expedite the despatch of public business, I do not see why we should not restore the Estimates to the business-paper to-day. I do not see why -we should not proceed with the consideration of Supply simply because, owing to a ball which was given by the Governor-General, a count-out occurred last evening. I think that we ought to proceed with the- work’ which yet remains to be done. Personally I care very little who occupies the Treasury benches so ‘long as we perform some good service. I hope that the House ‘will see its way clear to allow the Ministry to proceed with business.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Treasurer have leave to withdraw his motion?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
-! think that I caught your eye, sir, before leave to with draw ‘ the motion had been granted. I ‘ wished to advance reasons, why the Treasurer should not be’ allowed to withdraw the motion.
– It was quite competent for the honorable member to object to the withdrawal of the motion, but I had certainly put the question before he rose.
– I had risen, I think.
– If the honorable and learned member Had risen I could not have avoided seeing him, because he occupies a seat directly in front of me. I can assure him that I had obtained the leave of the House to withdraw the. motion before he rose.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister of External Affairs, a question having reference to an answer which he ‘ was good enough to give me some little time ago. Upon the occasion referred to 1 asked him whether he could find a trace of any pledges given by the British Government to the Hindoo races regarding their admission to all parts of the British Empire- 1 p ledges which are contained in proclamations or otherwise. He replied that he was not aware of any such pledges having been given. I based my question upon a despatch from Sir Arthur Lawley, Governor of the Transvaal, to Sir Alfred Milner, who is practically Governor-General of South Africa. The following is a sample passage from that despatch : -
When bringing the Indian Peninsula under the Sovereignty of the British Crown the Imperial Government pledged itself to make no distinction in law either in favour of or against any races or colour. Pledges such as those contained in the Proclamation of Sir Charles Napier were made at a time when large sections of the British nation had sot come into touch with coloured races as they have to-day.
May I ask whether the right honorable gentleman will be good enough to make further inquiry into the matter? If need be, I shall be glad to supply h:m with a copy of the despatch in’ question, as it is reported in .the newspapers dated the 13th April of the present year. It is important, and it would be of interest to the House, and to the country, to know what pledges have been given in this connexion.
– With every desire to do what my honorable and learned friend wishes, it does not appear to me that it is incumbent upon this Government to make any inquiries as to any pledges, real or imaginary, which may have been made in some other part of the Empire. I do not myself feel called upon to investigate whether or not such pledges exist. All that I am concerned with is to see that the legislation of the Commonwealth is respected.
– I should like to ask. the Prime: Minister, without notice, a question having reference to’ the important constitutional case of Lyne and Deakin v. The Commissioner of Taxes of Victoria, with respect, to the taxation of Federal agencies. I draw the attention of the right honorable gentleman to the fact that the Chief Justice of the High Court has stated that only a fragmentary portion of the judgment has been published in the press, and I would ask whether the right honorable gentleman will confer with the AttorneyGeneral, and consider whether arrangements should not be made for the publication of the full text of that important judgment for the information, not only of Parliament, but also. of. public men and. citi.zens. generally throughout the Commonwealth ?
– I shall be glad to facilitate the full publication of that very important judgment. I think that probably the shortest course would be to procure a copy of the full text of the judgment, and lay it upon the table, of the House.
– Are not all records of the High Court’s decisions being published ?
– Yes-; there are full CommonwealthLaw Reports published.
– That would be a somewhat indirect method of attaining the object of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I think that what is desired would be better met by the special step to which I have referred”.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the scheme of defence which he placed so clearly before us yesterday has been reported on by the General Officer Commanding. If so, is the report to be placed before . honorable members ; and if there has been no such report made, can the Minister inform honorable members whether the scheme which he has put forward” is in accord or otherwise with the views of the General Officer- Commanding?
– Before coming to any decision on the matter referred to, I naturally asked for the opinion of the General Officer Commanding, or; to be quite accurate, I asked for his opinion on the scheme- which, was prepared by a committee under the authority of my predecessor, and which- was very nearly the same and. involved the same principle as that which I explained,, and the General Officer Commanding reported adversely to it. I have no. objection, to honorable- members seeing that report, and I shall see that it is laid on the table.
Mr. SPEAKER laid on the table a report from the Joint Library Committee.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Memorandum by the honorable member for Kooyong as to a proposal to establish a Council of Finance for the Commonwealth.
Memorandum by the Minister of Defence on the administration and control of the Defence Forces.
Memorandum by the General Officer Commanding on the result of the deliberations of a. Committee held upon the command and administration of the Military and Naval Forces of the Commonwealth.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer if he is prepared to lay on. the table all minutes or statements which may be submitted to him by private members similar to that which has been prepared by the honorable member for Koovong ?
– If the matter dealt with be of importance I. shall certainly have no objection to do so.
– Who is to be the judge ?
– I am prepared to leave it to the House.
– The right honorable gentleman is not leaving it to the House in this- instance, because he has had the paper printed.
– My honorable friend is wrong there. I have not had the paper printed. It was suggested to me that, as the matter in question is very important, it- would ibe well that these proposals of the honorable member for Kooyong should- be included as part of the records of the House. I saw no objection to following that course, and in any similar case I shall have no objection to having important proposals included amongst the records of our proceedings.
– Any honorable member may .bring forward a report in the same way.
– I shall be very glad to consider every case of the kind.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer by what authority the paper which has been referred to has been already printed ? I notice that its contents have been circulated this morning in the press.
– I cannot answer that question. All I can say is that the printing was not done by my authority, or by the authority of my Department.
– I suppose the honorable member for Kooyong paid for it.
– If the honorable member for Grey will give notice of the question for to-morrow, I shall have the necessary inquiries made from the Government Printer.
– I desire to ask the honorable member for Kooyong by what authority the paper has been printed?
– After consultation with Mr. Speaker, I went to ‘ the Government Printer, and- made myself personally responsible for all expenses connected with the printing of the paper,
– It is very irregular for all that.
– The Government Printer will be found quite prepared to verify what I say.
– I desire to ask the Prime “Minister whether he is now- in a position, or when he will be in a position, to let honorable members know what ‘ has been the result of the mail tenders ?
– I was going to ask the same question.
– As honorable members have, I think, come to know, the result of the second effort to obtain suitable offers for carrying out the ocean mail- service, under the new condition of things brought about bv the enactment of a certain provision in the Post and Telegraph Act, has been that one tender has been sent in by the Orient Steam Navigation Company. That tender is for a sum of .£150,000, which was also the amount of the tender received on a former occasion, but there is this difference, that whereas in the former tender there wei e certain provision for refrigerating chambers incidental to the service, the new tender which we have received omits all reference to those highly desirable conditions. In the new offer there is no proposal made for any accommodation for perishable products, consequently the second offer received is distinctly more unfavorable than the first. In the circumstances, the Cabinet had no hesitation whatever in deciding as they did to-day to reject the tender.
– Following upon the’ answer given by the Prime Minister, I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has yet elaborated a scheme for the carriage of mails from the end of the year, or whenever the present contract runs out?
– The question of the mail contract ‘ was considered by the Cabinet only to-day. I may say that the details of the action which will be taken by the Government in the future have not yet been determined upon. The Government are quite prepared to deal with the question, and to do the best they can in the public interest. I admit that there is not much time to spare, but it must be remembered that although the matter has been under consideration for a considerable period, we have not been in office very long, and the matter only came under our notice quite recently. The tender was rejected on the ground mentioned by the Prime Minister, and the whole question is now being looked into, with a view to arrive at the best possible arrangement.
– What is the other arrangement to which the Minister has referred?
– In view of the fact that we have not received a satisfactory tender, it becomes the duty of the Government to ascertain what other means there are of carrying on the mail service in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
– The Prime Minister, in his reply, referred to certain new conditions that had been imposed, consequent on the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act relative to the employment of coloured labour on mail steamers. I should like 10 ask whether there was any indication in the tender submitted by the Orient Steam Navigation Company that the increased price asked for was due to that provision?
– I was referring to the fact that the provision mentioned prevented the co-operation between Great Britain and the Commonwealth which had been in force prior to its enactment.
– Will the Prime Minister lay the tender upon the table of the House ?
– I do not think there is any objection tothat. If my honorable colleague the Postmaster-General consents, I have no objection.
– I would ask the PostmasterGeneral if he has any objection to lay the tender on the table ?
– I see no objection. .
– I desire to- ask the Prime Minister whether he will cause inquiries to be made with regard to the conditions under which a number of Italian boys are being introduced into Victoria. These boys are making profit for some one, by acting as flower-sellers and street musicians, and are not only troublesome to the police authorities, but constitute a menace to the morality of the community.
– I do not know whether this matter comes within my province as Minister of External Affairs. I suppose it does, but I have not had the matter brought before me in any shape up to the present time.
– It has been before the Police Courts.
– I have not had time to read! the records of the Police Courts. I am obliged to my honorable friend for showing an interest in these matters, and I shall endeavour to obtain some information on the subject.
– A state of affairs sitr.ilar to that mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports prevails in South Australia, where a large number of Italian boys have recently been introduced. These boys cannot speak a word of English, and some curiosity has been manifested as to how they obtain admission to the Commonwealth, seeing that they could not possibly pass an examination such as would be required under the Immigration Restriction Act. I shall be glad if the Prime Minister will make inquiries in this regard, which will cover the whole of the States.
– I do not mind making inquiries on the subject.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he kindly furnish the number of coloured men employed by the Orient Company on their Australian mail boats?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
There is no information in the Department as to the number of coloured men employed by the Orient Company on their Australian mail boats; the manager of the company has, however, in answer to an inquiry., stated verbally that the number of coloured men so employed varies from So to 100, according to the size of the mail boat.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable -
To establish by Act of Parliament a Council of Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia composed of representatives to be appointed by the Commonwealth and by the States.
That such Council of Finance shall be constituted for the purposes following : -
To manage the public debts of the States and the Commonwealth.
To effect the consolidation, conversion, or renewal of the existing public debts of the States of the Commonwealth.
To undertake the flotation of new loans authorized by the Parliaments of the Commonwealth or the States of the Commonwealth.
To undertake other work being incidental or cognate to the foregoing purposes.
That the Treasurer invite the approval and co-operation of the States, with the view of obtaining through the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the States the necessary constitutional and statutory authorities to give effect to the foregoing.
I recognise that I am extremely fortunate in being able to ask honorable members to consider this motion so soon after having given notice of it. I should like to express my thanks to the Treasurer) who has voluntarily - certainly without my knowledge - been kind enough to lay upon the table as an official paper the memorandum prepared by me. When I issued the memorandum in the form of a circular, I desired to place in the hands of honorable members in as condensed and connected a form as possible a statement of my views on this important matter, and consequently was only too glad to undertake any expense that might be entailed in doing so. When I was in London at the beginning of last year, steps were being taken to float a Victorian conversion loan, and I was very much impressed by the fact that it would have been greatly to the advantage of that State if the Commonwealth or some other authority had been appointed to undertake the conversion. Had steps been taken in that direction some two or three years ago, in the earlier days of the Commonwealth, it might reasonably have been expected that the imprimatur of the Commonwealth would have possessed considerable value, whereas at present I am afraid that no special advantage would follow from the Commonwealth instead of an individual State undertaking the operation. I wish to say at once that I can add practically nothing to the very able memorandum which the Treasurer submitted to the Conference of States Treasurers. The right honorable gentleman dealt exhaustively with the whole of the difficulties that surround the very important matter of the transfer of the States loans to the Commonwealth. I shall not unnecessarily go over ground which the right) honorable gentleman has so ably covered; but inasmuch as I disagree with his opinions upon two very important points, I wish to state the nature of my disagreement. In the first place. I do not take the sanguine view which he holds of the willingness of the States individually or collectively to submit themselves entirely to
Commonwealth control and authority. In the second place, I think that the difficulties of the situation are very great. Every one who reads the right honorable gentleman’s memorandum, together with the reports of the discussions at the Conference, and makes an examination of the whole question, will see that it is surrounded with complications and difficulties requiring for their settlement some such authority as that which I am now suggesting. The Treasurer has indicated that he thinks, that the Commonwealth Treasurer should be that authority ; but I differ from him. there, because I believe that we should have an independent authority, since the States will not entirely surrender their control, and submit themselves to the Commonwealth. I ask the attention of honorable members to section 105 of the Constitution, which gives the Commonwealth power to take over the debts of the States. It- is as follows : -
The Parliament may take over from the States their public debts as existing at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or a proportion thereof, according to the respective numbers of their people as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, and may convert, renew, or consolidate such debts, or any part thereof ; and the States shall indemnif y the Commonwealth in respect of the debts taken over, and thereafter the interest payable in respect of the debts shall be deducted and retained from the portions of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth payable to the several States, or if such surplus is insufficient, or if there is no surplus, then the deficiency of the whole amount shall be paid by the: several States.
Then section 51 provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to : - (xxxvii.) Matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States, but so that the law shall extend only to States by whose- Parliaments the matter is referred, or which afterwards adopt the law..
It will be seen that section 105 gives the Parliament an arbitrary power, whereas under paragraph xxxvii. of section 51 the debts can be taken over with the approval of the States. I should like to recall to honorable members the history of the consideration of this matter. It was first dealt with so far back as 1891 by theConvention which then sat in Sydney. The members of that Convention were firmly of opinion that one great object of union was the consolidation of the debts of the States. Then in 1897, in. Adelaide, to quote from the monumental work of Quick and Garran on the Constitution -
There was much diversity of opinion- upon the whole subject. Mr. Reid had nothing to say, so long as no compulsory proposition was made. Sir George Turner would have liked a compulsory taking over of all the debts, but, in view of Mr. Reid’s strong objection, he did not press this. Still, he thought that the power should be to take all the debts of the States, and he objected to the consent of the States being required. Mr. Holder and Mr. McMillan pointed out that compulsory consolidation meant making a present of the Federal security to the bondholders ; but they approved of giving the Parliament power to act without the consent of the States. Some thought that the power should be limited to existing debts ; others thought that it ought to extend to future debts. Some thought that future State borrowing should be restricted; others that this was impossible. Eventually, on Sir George Turner’s motion. Ohe requirement of the consent of the State Parliaments was omitted, on division, by twenty to fifteen, and the power was limited to “ the whole, or. a rateable proportion of the public debts of the States as existing at the establishment of the Commonwealth.” The provision requiring any savings mads to be spent in reduction of interest, was negatived, and Mr. Higgins added a declaration that the “ rateable proportion “ should be calculated on a population basis. . . . At Melbourne, Mr. Glynn moved an amendment providing for compulsory consolidation of debts, each State indemnifying the Commonwealth for any excess of its debts over the average indebtedness. This, after a long debate, was negatived. Mr. Holder, for Mr. McMillan, then moved to insert, after “ Parliament,” the words “ may take over the whole or any part of the debt of the State, subject to the consent of the State.” On this, Sir George Turner moved the substitution of “ shall “ for “ may,” which was carried by twenty-five votes to eight; a division, w’hich, coming as it did after the rejection of the guarantees, signified a desire on the part of the Convention to make some definite provision with regard to the threefold problem of the debts, the railways, and the guarantees. Mr. Holder lamented this “ unfortunate vote,” on the ground that it would at least put our worse securities on a level with our best, and would make a’ present of millions to the bondholders; whilst Mr. Reid (who had been absent when the vote was taken) objected on the ground that it dictated a high Tariff. The Convention, after some debate, showed a disposition to reverse the effect of its vote. The amendment was consequently amended by the omission of all words after “shall take over;” but t-he proposal to insert these words in the clause was negatived on division.
I wish to place this information on the records, as establishing the fundamental fact that there existed in the minds of the representatives of the States at* each of the Federal Conventions, including the Convention held as far back as 1891, an appreciation of the very great difficulties which surround this question. Having impressed honorable members with that view, I shall proceed to quote’ certain figures which I have collected, and which I think will be found very interesting. It is held by one important financial authority that borrowing, as long as it is justly and prudently undertaken, is one of the great indications of industrial progress throughout the world. I have ventured to believe that the House may be interested in a table, which I have taken from the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, showing the principal public debts of the world in 1900, but I do’ not propose to weary honorable members by elaborating the figures. In 1900, the world’s debt, in t’he shape of public loans, amounted to £6,152,841,525. It is significant that, according to this authority, New Zealand, at the date named, had . a total debt of £47,874,452, and stood, so far as capital responsibility per head of its population was concerned, at the very top of the list, its public debt amounting to £58 12s. per head.
– Part of that debt was contracted through the Maori war.
– I intend to refer to that fact at a later stage. I do not desire to make any unfair comparison, and shall be glad to have my attention drawn to any statement which, in the opinion of honorable members, may be erroneous. The Australian States are second on this table, to which, although it is not quite up to date, I intend to adhere, in order that we may have a uniform comparison. The total debts of the Australian States is set down at £195,324,717, or a capital responsibility of £52 13s. per head of the population. We know, however, that the public indebtedness of. Australia has been largely increased since 1900, and that it now amounts to over £222,000,000.
– To over £230,000,000.
– The table shows that at the date named, Canada had a debt of £53,254,689, showing a capital responsibility of only £10 per head of the population, that the United Kingdom is eleventh on the list, with a responsibility of , £15 7s. 6d. per head of the population, or a total indebtedness of £628,978,782 ; and that the United States of America had a responsibility of only £3 15s. 6d. per head of the population, their total debt being £292,216,265. I do not intend to ‘make any further quotations from this table, but I shall be pleased to hand it to honorable members, because I think that it conveys some significant lessons which we might well take to ourselves. I have no desire to overlook the fact that portion of the indebtedness of New Zealand was contracted during the Maori war in the early days, nor do I think we should fail to recognise that, as against our capital responsibility per head of the population, we have a magnificent asset to show in the shape of our railways, which, with one or two exceptions, have been constructed by the States, [t is true there are a few privately-owned railways in the States, but speaking generally, Australia’s large indebtedness is represented by a magnificent public asset, which is revenue producing. If we deducted the railway expenditure of the different States, and placed them on the one basis, we should probably present a very much better position than we have hitherto done. The people of other countries do not take the trouble to inquire what led to our incurring this large indebtedness. They do not stop to inquire what were the special circumstances of its creation. They probably assume that it has been incurred as the result of wars and various social disturbances ; but the people of Australia know that the system adopted by the States of building their own railways has been mainly responsible for it. I intend now to deal with later figures, relying chiefly upon Coghlan, and upon statements ‘ submitted to the Treasurers’ Conference by my right honorable friend, the Treasurer, whose memoranda, I would repeat, afford us all the information we require upon this subject. I find that the total indebtedness of Australia is. ,£222,871, 765.
– Those figures are more than twelve months old, now.
– That is so. Of course the Treasurer will understand that in order to make comparisons, I am obliged to accept statistics as they existed upon a common date; and for that purpose, I have adopted the figures which are presented in the last issue of Coghlan, page 829. There I find that the indebtedness of Australia is made up of ,£212,028,000 worth of inscribed stock and debentures, and a floating debt of ,£10,843,000. It may be interesting to honorable members to know that at the period to which I refer, the States bore an annual burden in the shape of interest of ,£8,090,788, equal to ,£2 is. 5d. per head of the. population.
– That is the gross amount of the interest, without taking into consideration the earnings of the different public works.
– Certainly. As the Treasurer points out, that is the gross amount of interest which has to be paid to the bondholders, irrespective of the revenue which we receive from various public works. Perhaps I may be permitted to direct special attention to the enormous increase which has occurred in the public indebtedness of these States. Between 1861 and 1871, there was an increase in that indebtedness of £19,000,000 ; between 1871 and 1881, an addition of ,£36,000,000; and between 1881 and 1891 an increase of £89,000,000. The last-named decade was one in which the whole world seemed to incur large liabilities; and an Victoria it was known as the great “ boom “ period. Between 1891 and 1902-3, notwithstanding the adverse conditions which succeeded the boom, Australia increased her indebtedness by £67,000,000. We all hope that such a gigantic addition to our liabilities will never be witnessed again. Had there been an adequate increase in our population, that increased indebtedness might have been justified. But what do I find? That in 1861 the population of Australia was 1,153,000; during the next ten years it had increased to 1,668,000 ; in 1881 it aggregated 2,252,000; in 1891, 3,183.237 ; and in.” 1901-2, 3,773,248. Thus between 1861 and 1881 we doubled our population ; and between 1881 and 1902 we increased it to 3,773,000. But unfortunately our national indebtedness per head’ increased in a much greater ratio. For example, in 1861 it was £9 13s. Sd -. in 187 1 it had increased to £17 13s. 11d ; in 1881 to £28 1 os. 9d. ; in 1891 to £47 14s. id. ; in 1901-2 to ,£55 3s. lod. ; and in 1902-3 to £57 is. 5d. Thus -the burden upon the people increased enormously, whilst our . population advanced slowly. I would point out that in New Zealand the national indebtedness is ,£551899,019; but in this connexion, as in others, that country has shown a good example to Australia by accumulating a sinking fund of £^2,3 13,239. I have no means of ascertaining how that fund is being administered, or whether it is meeting with the same unsatisfactory treatment which has been meted out to similar funds by some of the Australian States. But what is our position in Australia? As against our enormous indebtedness of .£222, 000,000 we have a total sinking fund of only £[2,139,021. I do not wish to differentiate between the States, but I fail to discover’ any evidence that their sinking funds have been properly protected. My object in quoting these figures is to support my statements in regard to the enormous task which will have to toe undertaken by one authority, that authority being either the Commonwealth or the independent tribunal which I propose. There is only one other set of figures - affecting as it does the constitutional powers of the House - with which I shall trouble honorable members. I have already pointed out that the total indebtedness of the States exceeds £[222,000,000. The loans existing at the establishment of the Commonwealth totalled £198,722,854, all of which can be taken over under the provisions of the Constitution. Upon the 30th June, 1903, the “new “ loans which can be taken over by the Commonwealth only after an amendment has been effected in the Constitution, or, provided that the States unite in requesting the Commonwealth to adopt that course, amounted to £2*4, 000,000 odd. Subject to correction by legal members of the House, that is the position as I understand it.
– The latter way would be much more simple.
– That is so, but there would be more difficulty in securing unanimity in favour of the adoption of that course. Strange to say, if the States debts are taken over as a whole, there need be no consideration as to individual inhabitants of the various States - and this is where the inconsistency comes in - because if we decide to take over only a portion of the enormous debt we are bound to do so on the per capita basis of the population of the respective States. The matter is so complex that I may be pardoned for quoting a few words from my own memorandum on the subject -
The effect of this limitation does not appear to have been fully realized by the framers of the Constitution, for the indebtedness per capita at per State is so unequal that considerable amounts must remain with the States; otherwise, the per capita capital obligations, and per capita interest payments would be quite unfairly apportioned as between the States. Moreover, the rates of interest vary, and the ‘per capita incidence would be also unequal and unfair.
– But does anybody propose to pay interest on loans on a per capita basis?
– Assuming that all the debts were taken over?
– No; I Hold and I trust the Treasurer will agree with me, that we can never arrive at an equitable basis for the transfer of States debts until we have had an actuarial report of the position of the debts at any one given date, and at, say, a 3 per cent, rate of interest. The right honorable gentleman is aware that these loans vary considerably in respect of the rate of interest at which they have been secured. Of the total indebtedness of the States, £[47,7.16,774 have been borrowed at 3 per cent; ,£67,216,369’ at 3^ per cent. ; £89,649,503 at 4 per cent.; and ,£5,075,100 at 4J per cent. Without discriminating between the various States, T wish to show that these varying rates of interest at which money has been borrowed constitute a diversity in the claims of the different States. That is why I say that we shall never be able to equitably adjust the position without some actuarial consideration of the whole matter on some common basis. That view is unimportant, probably, compared with the future control and management of the debts, inasmuch as we are all one people and are operating for the one object. As to the new loans to which I have referred, I would point out that while the pre-, sent position of affairs is allowed to continue, without some decision as to control of borrowing, the complication of the question of the transfer of States debts will increase from year by year. Since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, the additional liabilities incurred by . the States by way of loans ‘ amount, as I have said, to .£24,796,963, and there is this difficulty that New South Wales has borrowed no less than £13,000,000. as against ,£1 1,000.000 borrowed by all the other States put together. It must be quite clear, that as time goes on, unless there is a common authority controlling the matter on a common basis, we shall only be increasing the complications in the way of bringing about an equitable agreement as to the amount to be transferred, and the responsibility which is to be assumed by the Commonwealth Government.
– Is the honorable member putting, it as an increasing difficulty for the Commonwealth or for the States?
– For the Commonwealth.
– Is it not a much more serious difficulty for the States?
– Of course it is a serious difficulty’ from the point of view of the States, but my object is rather to suggest that it is going to be an increasing difficulty for ‘whatever authority is constituted for the control of the transferred debts, whether it be the Federal Treasurer or the authority which I have had the honour to suggest for the consideration of the House. I have’ not ventured in any way to say whether the States have been justified in their borrowing. The matter is one for the consideration of the .Parliaments of the various States. Loans have been properly assented to by the States Legislatures, and the manner in which; they have been put on the market has been a matter for the consideration of the States Governments concerned. I am endeavouring to point out the great work which is before the controlling authority, however constituted, and I am trying to show that the difficulty in the way of that authority is being increased the longer the determination of the matter is delayed. Now, as to future borrowing, the matter also presents difficulties. The Treasurer took up the position at the Conference of insisting that the whole of . the borrowing -of the future should be done absolutely through the Commonwealth. As I have pointed out, we differ as to the authority that should be constituted ‘ to control the matter. My right honorable friend says that it should be the Commonwealth, and I submit that it should preferably be a competent; independent authority. I entirely agree with him that whatever authority is constituted should have the control of -all future borrowing. I desire to point out that one of the great troubles that the States now have to contend with, and which will be accentuated in the future, arises from the growing competition between those who desire to borrow money upon the London market.- We find different States deliberately offering .all- kinds of inducements to investors to take up their bonds. One State is undertaking to repay the principal practically wherever the bondholders like, and increased facilities are being offered for the transfer of bonds, and for the payment of interest. Therefore, the interjection made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat merits serious consideration. In my memorandum which has been handed to honorable members I have indicated the difficulties and complications that are increasing year by year, and I now desire to direct honorable members’ attention to the position occupied by the States. I have already stated that I cannot join the Treasurer in the sanguine view which he takes of the probable outcome of the forthcoming Conference of the Prime Minister with the States Premiers. The right honorable gentleman, the Treasurer, hopes that he will be able to bring all the Stares Treasurers into line with the views which He has expressed.
– The only real question between us is as to future borrowing, and we ought to be able to solve that difficulty somehow.
– If the States agree that the whole of the future borrowing shall be left in the hands of the Commonwealth, I have nothing more to say ; but my belief is that they will not give up much more of their revenue, or of the powers which they now possess.
– They agreed to hand over the gross railway revenue to the Commonwealth upon the conditions I proposed. There was no objection to that, but. my stipulation with regard to future borrowing was the rock upon which we split.
– If the States, agree to allow the interest payments to become a floating charge upon the railway revenue we shall be greatly assisted. I do not think, however, that they will surrender the financial control of the .States railways to the Commonwealth, or that they will place the gross railway revenue in the hands of the Federal Treasurer. The Treasurer, however, states that they agreed to that.
– Yes, just towards the end of the Conference; but it was understood that the .Federal Treasurer would not take over the railway revenue un- til the necessity arose, and that a fair opportunity would first be given to the States to pay over the money .for which they were liable in regard to interest charges.
– I understand that the Federal Treasurer would not ask for the money until it was absolutely necessary. It seems to me that the States Treasurers must go that far at least.
– Yes, that is the rninimum.
– The States of the Commonwealth are ‘ in a favorable and strong position, owing to the value of the assets which they possess in the shape of the railways and other revenue-producing public works, and it is unlikely that they will hand over the’ sole control of the railways to the Commonwealth unless special inducements
Are offered to them. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has been given the control of the duties of Customs and Excise, and may be relieved of the necessity of giving over three-fourths of their revenue to the States at the- expiration of the tenyears’ period. To the extent to which the States are deprived of their Customs revenue the value of the securities to their bondholders has been decreased, and it appears to me that the States can best protect themselves by transferring to the Commonwealth a sufficient amount of their loan obligations to absorb in interest payments the three-fourths of their Customs revenue which, at the end of the ten-years’ period, might otherwise be devoted by the Commonwealth to other purposes. If the State loans are taken over by the Commonwealth the States will be in a position to deliver a Commonwealth bond in place of a State bond. You, Mr. Speaker, gave us the benefit of a most important paper, representing the advantages attached to the issue of Commonwealth bonds. I am unable to agree with you to the full as to the additional value that will attach to a Commonwealth bond as compared with a State bond. At the same time, it- must be manifest that a Commonwealth bond would be a better security than a bond issued by any individual State, because the bondholders would have their loans practically guaranteed by six underwriters instead of one. It appears to me that the additional value that would attach to a Commonwealth bond is one of the principal inducements to the States to consent to the transfer and conversion of. their loans when the proper opportunity presents itself.
– The States would be able to obtain a better price for future loans if they borrowed through the Commonwealth, because of the better security that .would be offered.
– Exactly. If a State borrowed through the Commonwealth its bonds would have the imprimatur of the Commonwealth.
– Cook. - What is that imprimatur worth?
– At the inauguration of the Commonwealth,’ it would have meant a great deal. But the effect of our legislation has been to considerably lessen its value, so that I question whether to-day there would be any appreciable difference between the imprimatur of the Commonwealth and that of a- State:
– Does the honorable member attribute that solely to our legislation ?
– I- do not wholly.
– There hasbeen a decline in values all over the world.
– I acknowledge that there has been a great falling off in trade and commerce in Great Britain and the United States, on the Continent of Europe, and in Australia; but, deducting the factor of reduced commercial activity, I say, having a knowledge of the mind of prominent .financial men in London, that the tendency of Commonwealth legislation has been to depress the value of our securities, and we are suffering in consequence.
– To what legislation does the honorable member, refer?
– No legislation has done us more harm than that which prevents persons of our own blood and. colour from freely entering the Commonwealth. . That provision has done us an incalculable amount of harm.
– It is the misrepresentation of our legislation which has done us harm.
– I have- said, before that we should have proper representation in London, and that we should have had itlong ago. The tendency there is to twist, and to put_a wrong face on our legislation. I was in London last year, and the year before, and everywhere I heard of nothing but the six hatters case. If honorable mern hers- will refer to Hansard, they will see that I have expressed the view that no man should be brought here from abroad to interfere in our labour troubles, or to cause the reduction of wages, or the lowering of the condition pf pur workers.
– Does not the honorable member think that to bring men here under contract would often create trouble?
– If men were brought here under contract for the purposes to which I have just referred, I should join with my honorable friend in preventing their admission; but no white man should be excluded merely because he is under contract. The section of the Immigration Restriction Act under which such men have been excluded has done us incalculable harm. There is nothing in the world more sensitive than capital.
– Is not the decline in British securities proportionate to the decline in Australian securities?
– It is nothing like so great. I have to-day been supplied by the Chairman of the Stock Exchange with the latest figures, and intend to deal with that subject. Capital being so sensitive that it readily takes fright, the (Commonwealth should have a proper representative in- London to rebut statements which may be made there to our disadvantage.
– Yet the honorable member is supporting a Government which has postponed the High Commissionership Bill.
– If the honorable member will refer to Hansard, he will see that on that point I took exception to the Prime Minister’s programme.
– No doubt, as soon as the High Commissioner is appointed, our stocks will go up 10 per cent.
– I hope so, though I do not think it is likely. The remaining reasons why I think that the establishment of a Council of Finance will induce the States to consent to the transfer of their debts are that by the establishment of a Commonwealth authority, competition amongst the States in borrowing will be superseded by friendly co-operation and common understanding; the States will secure a highly competent central authority, fully informed and created for this great financial objective, and with a uniform policy ; and, lastly, they will be represented in this authority. Let me now show the advantage to be gained by having this separate and independent Department. During the past seven months we have had as Treasurer, first, the right honorable member for Balaclava, then the honorable member for Bland, and then the right honorable member for Balaclava again. Surely, considering the enormous interests involved, which- require such complete knowledge and detailed management, there should be some consistency of policy. The control of so great and important a work should be placed in the hands of some one above all party considerations - some one who would not care whether the right honorable member for Balaclava or the honorable member for Bland was the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, but would be actuated only by a desire to do the very best for the people of the Commonwealth, in dealing with all our loans. Surely that is a business in itself. It is unnecessary for me to say that the work is one which requires to have the highest skill and ability brought to bear upon it. No one appreciates more than I do the work performed by the Treasurer, as a member of the Victorian Legislature, as well as a member’ of the Commonwealth Parliament; but if he were at the head of such an independent body, as I suggest, he would be in an infinitely better position than he is as Federal Treasurer. In his capacity, as a Minister, he has to attend in this House day after day to answer questions* and deal with various phases of Government business, whereas the magnitude of the special work which devolves upon him as Treasurer of the Commonwealth really demands consistent and constant attention.
– Is the Council, which the honorable member proposes to create, to be only advisory, or is it to have absolute control, independent of Parliament? That is the point which troubles me.
– I shall deal with that matter in the course of a few moments. In order that I may conclude my remarks as speedily as possible, I shall pass over one or two matters to which I had intended to allude, and deal with the constitution of the Council. I propose that there shall be one representative appointed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and also a representative appointed by the various States. I have already shown that the last-named representative could be properly appointed by a conference of delegates selected for that duty, and I have ventured to suggest that if it were possible it would be desirable in the first instance to appoint the Chief Justice of the High Court, as the highest Judicial authority in the Commonwealth, to act as Chairman of the Council. I recognise that under the Judiciary Act, that distinguished jurist is precluded at present from accepting such a position.
– He may not be a great financial authority
– The question of his being a great financial authority does not concern me so much ‘at the present time as does the desire that we should have as Chairman of the Council, in the first instance, a gentleman who would be able to act in a judicial capacity in laying down the precedure as between the States and the Commonwealth. The Chairman would be practically called upon to interpret the instrument upon which the authority had been established. I do not fail to realize that the very interpretation of the authorities under which he might be acting as a member of the Council, might conflict with his duties as a Justice of the High Court ; but I feel impressed with the importance of having the whole machinery of the Council placed on such a sound and equitable basis as would commend it to the States individually, and to the people, of the whole Commonwealth. It is absolutely necessary that we should have an impartial and judicial chairman.
– Supposing a question arose as between any one State and the Commonwealth, what would be his position ?
– He would of course be called upon to act under the powers conferred on him by the enabling Act.
– Then he could not act as a Justice of the High Court?
– No; but the full Court could act.
– Still, it would mean the appointment of another Judge?
– Even if it did involve the appointment of another Judge, the expense incurred would be infinitesimal as compared with the advantages which would accrue from the occupation by such an authority of the office of Chairman of the Council. By the proper judicious handling of even one loan in the London money market we should save more than sufficient to pay the whole of the cost of maintaining the Council.
– But we have to depend on our financial adviser in London in regard to the manipulation of the market. It is in Lond’on that we need the services of a good man.
– That is where we require a council.
– The financial circle in London is a verv limited one, notwithstanding that we find there the greatest financial centre in the world. A few men - a few firms - practically control the whole of the financial operations of the market. The Treasurer must know from experience that these large financial operations are extended over a number of markets, and that the Colonial market is handled by a few astute, able gentlemen - mostly Scotchmen - who might be interviewed in the course of an afternoon. Our representative in London would be in constant touch with these men, and if he were in need of advice or guidance would merely have to send for them. They would be only too glad to give him the information and assistance he sought, knowing that the busi ness which he contemplated would necessarily fall to them. As the Treasurer is aware, the Bank of England acts for one of the States in the matter of the flotation of loans, and the London and Westminster Bank acts for Victoria and other States.
– It acts for several States.
– That is so, but some of the States loans are dealt with direct by the Agents-General.
– Why could not the representative of the Commonwealth act for all the States?.
– My honorable friend must remember that even if we appointed the highest competent financial authority as High Commissioner, he would find life too short to allow of his breaking down the general system on which great financial operations in London are conducted. The prospect of his breaking through them would be altogether too remote to allow of his attempting such a thing. The High Commissioner, whoever he may be, will have to seek advice and assistance in the projection of any large loan. Let me remind the House of the position in regard’ to the last Victorian loan floated in London. The men who underwrote that loan are still carrying a very large proportion of it. It has not been digested, the people have not absorbed it, and the underwriters consequently have not been able to get rid of it. The Victorian Government pay a certain commission amounting, I think, to per cent, to the London and Westminster Bank, and another commission of per cent, has also to be paid1, while an agreement is usually made to grant the underwriters a discount of, say, 5 or 6 per cent., according to the state of the market. While I think that the office of the High Commissioner will be the centre of all Australian financial operations for many years to come, that official will be unable to ignore the conditions at present obtaining in London. He will still have to make use of existing agencies there to assist him in the flotation of our loans. Some honorable members entertain the idea that we can dispense with the aid of the banks, but I do not share that opinion. We shall require their assistance for very many years. I do hope that at the outset it will be possible to devise some method by “which we can utilize the services upon this Council of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, although I am aware that many objections can be urged against the adoption of that course. The Treasurer has questioned me as to the . functions of. this tribunal. He wishes to know whether it is to be merely an advisory board or a body possessed of authoritative powers. I have designedly termed it a “Council” of Finance, because a Council is an advisory body. But I would point out that it must possess specific executive authority, and it will be necessary to endow it with originating powers in respect of future loans. It will not be long before New South Wales and Victoria will require to undertake further conversions. Within the next three, five, or seven years loans will mature which will require to be rearranged. Of course we are all aware that, practically, national loans are never liquidated, because new investors merely take the place of the old bond-holders. I repeat that the authority must primarily be of ah advisory character. Consequently, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth and the States to indicate what powers they wish to transfer to their representatives. As the Council gains the confidence of the people it will naturally acquire larger powers.
– How much does the honorable member estimate that it. will cost ?
– I have attempted to show that even if it costs £[5,000 or £7,000 a vear, the whole expenditure would be defrayed by the successful conversion of one loan.
– We are not going to sanction the flotation of any more loans.
– Practically this body will become a .transferred Department. I admit that. the success of the whole scheme will depend upon the appointment of only .first class men, They should be well paid for their services, but beyond that payment no expenditure other than that which is incurred at the present time should be necessary. The proposed authority would have a continuous policy in regard to the “ handling of our loans. The Council would be empowered amongst other things to become trustees, and to manage existing loans authorized by the Constitution to be. transferred, also to issue a Commonwealth ‘stock to replace State debentures, when possible. Of course, I recognise that we have no power to compel our bond-holders to accept Commonwealth stock in lieu of ‘State debentures. It is quite conceivable that a bond-holder may say, “ The debenture which I hold will not mature for twenty years, and I am quite satis- fied with it. I have no wish to part with it.”i But I would point out that we can offer him some inducement to do so. In this connexion, perhaps, I may be permitted, to give the House some particulars of the great Goschen conversion. 1
– In that case the Government had the power to enforce the conversion, whereas we have no such power.
– I admit that. At the same time, we can offer a better security to the present bond-holders - a security which is based upon the credit of the whole of Australia as against that of an individual State, and upon prospects of appreciation.
– The bond-holder merely looks at the interest which he will receive.
– Before referring to the’ Goschen conversion, I would point out that the term “ Consols “ is simply an abbre-viation for “consolidated fund’s.” In 1888 the total amount of these funds in the United Kingdom .amounted to £558.006,000. Mr. Goschen, after formulating his scheme, said to the bondholders, “ I intend to give you 3 per cent.1 upon your loan for one year. During the next fourteen years I shall pay you 2f per cent., and during the following twenty years 2J per cent. This loan shall be irredeemable until 1923, when I shall have power to say to you, ‘ I am about to make you another offer, and if you do not accept it I shall pay you off.’ “ What was the result? Nearly all the bondholders accepted the offer, and only £[19,000,000 had1 to be paid in cash. If we had been, in a position to give the State bonds the imprimatur of the Commonwealth, we might have been able to derive advantages similar to those secured by Mr.Goschen on the higher interest loans. Foc the first fourteen years he saved the people of Great Britain £[1,400,000 per annum, and at the termination of that period’ he doubled the saving, which amounted to £2,800,000 annually.” In Great Britain there is a. Commission which is appointed for the purpose of reducing the national’ debt, and this body has taken full advantage _ of every opportunity of- saving the public money. ‘ At present, we do not possess the power that Mr. Goschen was able to exercise ; but if we could give the States bonds the imprimatur of the Commonwealth’ we should be able to effect a; very substantial saving.
– Those who hold < 4 per cent, bonds of ten years currency 1 would not exchange them for Commonwealth ! bonds at 3 per cent., and the only chance of conversion will occur when the bonds are about to fall due.
– Quite so. We cannot hope to make any impression upon those who hold 4 per cent, bonds, but we might offer a strong inducement to those who hold the 3 i per cent, bonds. Although the States bonds may be quoted at a discount, there has never been any doubt as to the solidity of the guarantee attached to them. The bondholders have been able to rely not only upon the good faith of the people, but also upon the solid revenue-producing securities to which I have referred.
– There is an annual loss on the whole of our railways.
– Perhaps so; but if they were handled by some Commission of the kind I have referred to. different results might be brought about.
– I suggest that the time having arrived for the calling on of orders of the day, the honorable member should ask leave to continue his remarks upon another occasion. He has certainly afforded us a great deal of valuable information, and I am certain honorable members will be very glad to hear anything further he. may have to say.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 20th October (vide page 5873), on motion by Sir John Quick -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order ‘ to promote the primary industries of Australia, , a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be established at an early date.
– I do not intend to occupy more than a few minutes in speaking upon this motion. The thanks of the House are due to the honorable and learned member’ for Bendigo for the persistency with which he has brought this, matter forward again and again, and also for his very excellent statement of what may be termed the Commonwealth law on the subject. “That statement is the more to be appreciated because there appears to have been some doubt as to whether any authority was conferred by the Constitution for the establishment of an Agricultural Department under Commonwealth auspices, and the hon orable and learned member has been good enough to present to us what I conceive to be a very fair and clear exposition of the law relating to the powers of this Parliament. I think,, too, that his history of the development of agriculture is deserving of the attention of honorable members. He has also made four or five suggestions as to the work which should be undertaken by a Commonwealth Agricultural Department, and, although I do not fully agree with the proposition placed before the House, I could not help admiring the- skill and ability with which the honorable mem- ‘ ber presented his case. Generally, I do not think we are yet ripe, for the establishment of a Commonwealth Depart^ ment of Agriculture. It is true the hon* orable and learned member for Bendigo indicated that he did not wish the Commonwealth to launch out upon the same large scale as have the United States- and Canada. I would point out, however, that in connexion with all new departments
I there is a. strong tendency to increase ex- I penditure, to amplify the scope of the work, and to create and multiply, the reasons for its extension. I think, that we might achieve the end the honorable and learned member, has in- view by means of the alternative proposal presented in the Opposition Alliance ‘ programme,, namely, by the establishment of a Standing: Committee of Trade and ‘ Agriculture. No great expense would be involved, and I believe that such a Committee would accomplish much more than the honorable and learned member contemplates-. It would be able to take steps in the direction of. promoting not merely our primary industries, but also our secondary industries, and, by harmonizing the work, in these directions, attain better results, than could be achieved by a special authority created to deal solely with agricultural matters. Almost at the outset of the consideration of this question, we are called, upon to recognise that the States have already devoted a large amount of money to the development of their agricultural resources, and that in almost every State there is a Department of Lands and Agriculture, supplemented by agricultural colleges, agricultural farms, laboratories, and other aids .to landed pursuits. Unsparing, efforts have been made to promote the primary industries of the States by the States themselves, and I do not think that we should be justified in taking over; at. one sweep, the whole of the work performed; for the most p_ar.t very well, by these States Departments. Although in this respect Victoria may not be quite so far advanced as are some of the other States, much useful work has been done, and great benefits have been conferred upon our agriculturists. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that possibly it would be better to endeavour to bring about a division of the work between the States and the Commonwealth under such conditions as would prevent any conflict between the two authorities, and yield greater benefits than are conferred upon, our producers at the present time. I think the States might be asked to continue to perform a very large portion of the work they are now doing, and that they might also be called upon to furnish to the Commonwealth authority, however constituted, information as to the areas of land available for settlement, the character of the soil, and the purposes for which such land might be used. They might also prepare for the use of the central authority information with regard to all matters connected with water supply, rainfall, irrigation, means of communication, facilities for transport, and the nearness of the lands available to centres of population, whether large or small. In my judgment, all these matters might very well be left to the States. The Commonwealth must naturally deal with the matter more from the business point of view. It is our function to frame the Tariff, and to determine some at least of the conditions under which agriculture shall be carried on. It is also our business to obtain information with regard to the markets, whether foreign for inter- State, available for our producers. The Honorable and learned member for Bendigo appears to rely wholly upon foreign markets, but my aim would be to facilitate the operations of and offer to our producers as large a market as possible within our own boundaries. I believe . it is par.t of the duty of the Commonwealth to afford all the information possible to our producers upon the subject of the markets available to them. It might also be regarded as within our province to supply particulars with regard to means of transport, freight rates, and shipping conditions. All these are business matters with which the Commonwealth could, deal. I read or heard it stated recently - I do not know whether by Dr. Rowan, who has recently returned from there, or by another - that a Government guarantee is worth a great -deal in the South African market, and that American manufacturers have, to use their own term, “scooped the pool” - that is, have found an immense sale for their goods there, because their importations, whether of meat, fruit, or other articles, have been branded and certified to by the American Government as of a certain quality. We, in Australia, have not yet devoted much attention to such matters as branding, packing, and a Government certificate ; but it seems to me that it would be a very good thing to have a Commonwealth brand for our products.
– It should not be left lying about, then.
– I hope that it would be better looked after than were the butter brands used on behalf of the Government of Victoria.
– The Victorian brand must have been regarded as of value, or exporters would not have taken the trouble to try to duplicate it.
– The fact that there was bad1 management in regard to the export of Victorian butter does not detract from the inherent goodness of the scheme. On the scientific side, there are a number of matters which ihe Commonwealth might take in hand. 1 acknowledge that some of the States laboratories have done an immense amount of good work, but I think that original research in connexion with the preservation of products, the right use of manures, fertilization, and crossfertilization, variation of crops, and other scientific questions would be better undertaken by a central Commonwealth Department. If that were done, the Governments of the States would attend to matters which are purely local, while the Commonwealth would deal with matters of wider concern, such as the markets and facilities for transport on the business side, and with original research and analysis, on the lines I have indicated, on the scientific side. An investigation of methods of preservation of produce might well be undertaken bv the Commonwealth, more especially in connexion with the management of the cool storage arrangements of the shipping companies, and the general regulations respecting shipping and transport. I think that the Department might go a little further, and endeavour on behalf of producers to prevent the severe losses which now occur in the export of Australian pro- duce to London, by establishing there a receiving agent, under the High Commissioner, or some other duly constituted authority, who would look after goods as they arrived. The Agent-General for Victoria, it is stated in to-day’s newspaper, has made that suggestion.
– He made it some months ago.
– It did not come under my notice until this morning, though personally I have advocated the proposal for some time, i think that it would pay handsomely to appoint such an agent, London being our chief market. Goods might be sent to him, and their sale might be managed and controlled by him. This, and the other matters of which I speak, are subjects for the investigation of- Commonwealth officials, who would obtain the latest information, and disseminate it amongst those who are engaged in our various industries. Turning to another phase of the question, I wish to say that I have experienced the greatest satisfaction from reading the publications of the Agricultural Departments of Victoria, and more especially of New South Wales, which contain a vast fund of information on a great variety of topics, and I have obtained from them a great deal of useful knowledge in regard to fruitgrowing, in which I am more particularly interested. If the collection and publication of this information could be centralized and co-ordinated, it would be of incalculable advantage ro all who are interested or concerned in the industries to which it relates. A central Commonwealth Department might also deal very advantageously with new primary industries. Victoria has made various intermittent experiments in this direction, in. connexion with such industries as tobacco growing, scent farming, and silk culture; but I do not think that those experiments were backed up by the latest scientific knowledge obtainable, or that the best areas were chosen in which to carry them cut. Had there been a central Commonwealth Department to give up-to-date and reliable information to all Australia, the probabilities are that new industries of permanent benefit would have been established. We have heard a great deal about the wisdom and necessity of growing cotton in Australia. I have no great knowledge on the subject, though I have a sincere desire to see something done in that direction ; but were I thinking of engaging in the industry I should like to be assured by such a competent and reliable authority as a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture should be, that I could obtain from it the latest information as to methods of production, and could learn how to successfully conduct my operations. I mention the cotton growing industry only by way of example, because the possibility of increasing our primary industries is almost unlimited. Silk growing is another industry which might be established here. It is a domestic industry, in a sense, and, if one may believe all that is written about it, an exceedingly profitable one, which would enable numbers of persons whose capital is limited to obtain a good livelihood. Now, the motion has been admirably debated from almost every point of view, and 1 should hardly have ventured to occupy time in discussing it had I not wished to em= phasize the need for a division of labour in this matter between the States and the Commonwealth, so that we may achievewhat we desire without friction or overlapping. I ask the House to proceed cautiously, by the adoption of some such proposal as that of the Opposition for a standing committee of trade and agriculture.
– That would be only an advisory board.
– What is intended is something more than an advisory board. We wish’ to do something of permanent benefit for those connected with the primary industries of this country, without, excessive or unnecessary expenditure, and without conflict with the States.
– One Commonwealth Department would be cheaper than six State Departments.
– Yes; but until we have persuaded the States to transfer to the Commonwealth what they are now doing in regard to agriculture, which we cannot do off-hand, we had better undertake operations of which the States approve, and in regard to which we n.ay expect their co-operation. The proposed Standing Committee would, in the first place, take cognizance of our trade relationships, and would deal, not only with agriculture, but with all the industries of Australia, endeavouring to build up, not merely our primary industries, but also our secondary_ and manufacturing industries. We should avoid over-specialization, and the notion that it is only in foreign markets that we can sell our products. The Committee would do this work in a thorough and reliable fashion, and would give those who are now engaged in industries, as well as those who are thinking of embarking in them, information both accurate and scientific. We need more population, but it is utterly idle for us to endeavour to secure further settlement upon the lands unless we can assure those who settle on them that there will be a ready and profitable sale for the goods they will produce. That is, of course, a truism ; but if we are to do the right thing by Australia, we shall require to attract population of two classes - those who are to be primary producers, and those to be engaged in manufactures and secondary industries: If this is to be done, we shall need the inter-State markets of which I have spoken ; but with these requirements satisfied, and such incontrovertible scientific information as this Department would collect, given to our agriculturists, we should be able to proceed with the work with satisfaction to ourselves and satisfaction to those for whom we are about to legislate.
– After the very admirable series of speeches which have been delivered on this question, very little remains to be said ; but I have so great an interest in this subject, believing it to be the most important that, could be considered by the Parliament, that I desire to make a few observations in regard to it. I should like, first of all, to express the gratitude I feel to the honorable and learned member Tor Bendigo for the manner in which he submitted the motion. In introducing it he gave not only the House, but the whole country, information of a far-reaching and valuable character, and placed’ it on a plane so far above party considerations that it may be considered with no other object in view than that of the benefit of the whole Commonwealth. When the proposal has been brought to a successful issue, as I hope it will be in the near future, I trust that the efforts of the honorable and learned member will be remembered with gratitude bv the whole of the people. It was pointed out by the honorable and learned member that it was not has desire that the Commonwealth should launch into anything like so great an undertaking as is the Agricultural Bureau of the United States of America. Although he quoted telling instances of the magnificent assistance which the bureau has given to the advancement of the United States, he wisely recognised that lit would be better for the Commonwealth to found the Department on moderate lines, and to allow it to grow as the needs of the Commonwealth should direct. In the United States of America over 1,000,000 per annum are spent in connexion with the work of the Agricultural Bureau, and the Federal Government do not look for any immediate return from this outlay. They realize that the value received from it filters bacl: through so many channels - many of them wholly unobserved - that it would be unwise, and, indeed, useless, to attempt to make any computation of the actual gain derived. I think that we can best follow in their steps if we profit by our knowledge of the enormous waste in this direction which is at present occurring in the Commonwealth. The laudable efforts made by the Agricultural Departments of the several States have resulted, and are resulting, in very substantial progress, but the saving in energy and money which would be made if the work were brought under Commonwealth authority would more than justify the adoption of the motion,, and action being immediately taken upon it. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in enumerating the various branches of work carried out by the Agricultural Bureau of the United States of America, dealt with them in such a way as would appeal, I think, even to those who have had no connexion whatever with the agricultural industry of Australia. But I prefer rather to call attention to the good work that might be accomplished by a fusion of the forces at present operating in the Commonwealth, and to the saving of expenditure which might in that way be effected. I need only point to one matter in which uniform action would be of immense value. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent within the last few years by the several States in endeavouring to secure an effective system of quarantine ; but the work could be carried out to much greater advantage by a central authority. I need only allude, to the disastrous outbreak, known as tick fever which attacked’ the herds of Queensland a few years ago, to recall to the minds of honorable members the enormous losses which accrued to Australia as the result of an incomplete observance of the necessary precautions in regard to the quarantining of stock. From time to time, arbitrary lines were drawn by Queensland; but after the precautions laid down by regulations had been observed for a certain time, alterations in the boundary lines were made for some reason or other, and, in short, marked inefficiency was shown in carrying out what otherwise would have been a verylaudable and desirable work. Varying regulations were also drawn up by New South Wales and Victoria to cope with the same outbreak. The southern States were affected by it in no small degree, and had to take precautions against the introduction, not only of infected stock, but also of infected hides from the northern State. In dealing with this pest, there was a great waste of. effort, and even if the Commonwealth took over only this branch, a great saving would be secured. I need not allude to the various insect pests from which the orchards and cultivated lands of Australia have suffered from time to time, nor to the different measures which have been taken by the several States to deal with them. These pests have had a marked effect upon our markets abroad, and the fruit industry, of Victoria more especially, has suffered seriously owing to the want of a proper uniform system of dealing with them. It seems to me that the Commonwealth ‘Department now proposed to be created would be able to do much which individual State agencies cannot do in opening up foreign markets. We ought to have not only in the United Kingdom, but on the Continent, and especially in the Far East, accredited agents thoroughly familiar with all our branches of production, and prepared to open up markets, not for the benefit of a single State, but for the advancement of the whole Commonwealth. At present the representatives of the different States frequently come into competition with each other. We know perfectly well that when competition between commercial travellers takes place, one invariably proceeds to praise his own particular line, and .to decry the products of his competitor, and such proceedings -un the part of the representatives of the different States cannot fail to have a very bad effect upon the products of the Commonwealth as a whole. We require to send representatives of the whole Commonwealth abroad, whose business it will be not to take advantage of the misfortune of any one State, but to endeavour to open, up markets for the producers of Australia as a whole. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo dealt at length with the matter of transport, and I would remind ,the House that in Victoria we have recently had an illustration of what may be done, and what ought not to be done in regard to transport arrangements. The Department which it is proposed’ .to create would undertake the work of making transport arrangements for our produce its own special care. We should then have’ an assurance of a regular system of transport, of which aid our producers would be able , to take full advantage, instead of their being placed entirely at the mercy of those who trade upon the seas. Arrangements in regard to freights could be made much more advantageously by the Commonwealth than by the individual States. Hitherto the States which have been doing a large business with the great ocean-going steam-ship companies, have been able to secure much better terms than have the smaller States. Tasmania, for example, has not been nearly so well treated as has the larger State of Victoria, and Queensland has also had some very grave cause for complaint in this regard. Under a Commonwealth system this varying treatment would be abolished. We should have uniform rates, the producers of the Commonwealth would be placed on an equal footing, and we should get rid of ‘that cutthroat competition which has had such prejudicial effects upon our primary industries. There is no doubt that those who have settled upon our lands are in need of assistance. I entirely approve of the suggestion that we should endeavour to secure the settlement of a great population, provided that we take care to place the people on land which will yield them a livelihood, but I am specially anxious in regard to those who are already settled on it. We have primary producers who stand at the very forefront of their calling for laborious industry, and for the intelligent handling of their land and its products, and it seems to me that it should be our aim to assist them by giving them advice with regard to the constituents of the soil which they are endeavouring to work, and as to the products for which it is best suited. I have to admit, with deep regret, that in Victoria we have lagged far behind so far as this matter is concerned, but in Queensland a magnificent system is in force, 1 under which chemistry is brought into the very home of the farmer. An opportunity is afforded him to obtain information regarding the nature of the soil which he tills such as, I venture to say, is no-t given in any other State in the union. I should like the Commonwealth to take up this work, and to establish laboratories all over Australia, so that those engaged in tilling the soil may be able to obtain full information as to what can best be produced on their land. I do not wish to occupy the time of the House, because I feel that we are all at one as to the desirableness of carrying this motion. It is only because of the deep interest which I take in agriculture, having been connected with it from my earliest youth, that I venture to address myself to the question. It is our bounden duty not merely to pass the motion, but to impress upon the Government the necessity to take active steps to carry it into effect. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo and those who have so ably followed him have expressed a desire that this matter should be treated as one of the very first importance. It affects every member of the community. It affects the city worker just as intimately as it does the individual upon the land, because the former is one of the first to benefit from the increased production which the adoption of improved methods of agriculture insures. The individual who resides at Port Darwin is just as much interested in these matters as is the resident of the southern extremity of Tasmania. Therefore, I feel that ‘ the . Government should not be permitted to allow this motion to be relegated to the limbo of forgotten resolutions, but that there should be some practical outcome of this most interesting and instructive debate, in the direction of placing the producers of the Commonwealth, and those who are dependent upon them for their food supplies, in a very much better position than they occupy at the present time.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).There is no doubt that this motion is one of very great interest to the people of this country, because upon our primary productions our prosperity must, to a very large extent, depend. Whether the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture, by combining the existing State Departments, would prove a greater success than have the latter institutions themselves, is a question which can only be determined by experience. Personally, I do not hold the opinion that we always derive the very best results from centralization. If each State of the union administered its Department of Agriculture in a proper manner, there can be no doubt that the farmer would be benefited very materially. In New South Wales most valuable object lessons have been afforded the producers by the Department of Agriculture - object lessons which should enable them to conduct their operations in future more successfully than they have done hitherto. For example, the Government farm at Wagga, which is situated in dry country, has produced by cultivation a very much larger yield of wheat than have the surrounding farms. Upon the outside farms the wheat was sown broadcast, and weeds were permitted to grow up with it, whereas upon the Government farm the seed was sown by means of drills, and the weeds were kept down. The result was that the extra yield considerably more than compensated for the additional amount of work involved. In this way Government farms have afforded object lessons to our agriculturists regarding the best methods of production. Of course, we are frequently assured that we need a large population, and there is no doubt that we do. If we numbered a few more millions we should not constantly need to trouble ourselves about the development of our manufactures. These would develop themselves. Our difficulty is that we have not a sufficient demand for that which we can produce, and until we secure the necessary population, we shall always experience that trouble. Sometimes I feel amused when I hear honorable members clamouring about the necessity for obtaining foreign markets for our produce, because these very gentlemen are constantly condemning the importation of foreign products. They frequently counsel the Government to send commercial travellers into the Far East, and to every other portion of the earth, for the purpose of gaining trade for Australia, and to enable us to dispose of our products there. If they understand anything about trade relations they must know that if foreign countries purchase our goods, we must be satisfied to accept their products in return. If we sell our commodities to the despised races of the East, we must import the goods of these cheap labour countries in return. I say at once that we must trade everywhere, but it is amusing to listen to the arguments advanced by some honorable members in favour of the develop- ment of a great trade outside our own borders. If the individuals to whom I refer advocated the retention of all our own products, so as to exclude those of other countries, I could understand their position. Surely they must recognise that there is only one way of obtaining payment for our exports, namely, by accepting imports in exchange. I have heard a good deal recently in reference to the hard cash which we have to pay away.
– I should like to see a little of it.
– So should I. I have heard it stated that the British Empire pays away £800,000,000 annually in hard cash for its imports. The gentlemen who talk like that cannot understand that when England exports goods it must accept the goods of other countries in return. If the value of her imports exceeds that of her exports the difference represents “so much profit to her.
-A large proportion of our exports represents interest upon loans.
– I have heard something to the effect that if Great Britain offers Australia some trade advantages, our loyaltv is so great that we are prepared to concede her similar advantages, but not otherwise. Yet individuals like myself have been charged with’ dislovalty. Personally, , I am in favour of the establishment of a Department of Agriculture. I believe in giving the primary producers every assistance, but I should like thos.e who advocate the development of foreign markets to realize that if we do a large trade with Japan, or with any other country, we must accept its goods in exchange. We cannot obtain gold from them. We are producers of gold. If we send our wool, or wheat, to Japan, we must accept goods from that country in return.
– Goods are paid for by goods.
– Of course they are. There are many ways in which the farmers can be assisted. In this connexion I read two very good articles which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Saturday last.
– That journal does not know everything.
– Those articles dealt with the question of the advancement of agriculture. They contained extracts from scientific contributions upon the subject. One extract described how the productiveness of land can be wonderfully improved by means of bacteria. It explained that the free nitrogen of the air can be attracted1 to the earth by means of bacteria. Scientists have succeeded in so developing these organisms, that they can be cultivated by the farmer for the purpose of enriching his soil. As honorable members are aware, nitrate manures are very expensive, but this method of increasing the productiveness of the land is a very inexpensive one. Incidentally I may mention that a German scientist formed a company to place this product upon the market, but soon ascertained that the bacteria did not successfully serve the purpose for which it was cultivated. A scientific agriculturist in America thereupon took the matter up, and. he has made of it a success. It now appears that the German scientist had treated his bacteria too well. He fed them too luxuriously, and like- all things which are being constantly supported, they did not properly discharge their functions. The American scientist, however, has developed in these organisms a strength which has added to the. productiveness of the soil in the way that was desired. We sometimes indulge in too much “coddling,” and the bacteria cultivated by the German suffered in that way. I do not know that I need say much more upon this motion. I realize that anything which we can do to assist our agriculturists, when they cannot assist themselves, is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, we ought to avoid any suggestion of too much “coddling.” By so doing, we shall develop a better class of citizens. It is indisputable that industries which have been established without anv artificial aids, have flourished much better than those which have been constantly afforded those aids in the form of State assistance.
– I do not think that there is an honorable member of this House who does not sympathize with the object of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. Even the most antisocialistic Governments in the past have exhibited a desire to “coddle” the farmer. Personally, I think that that coddling has been quite justifiable. It has been recognised that in Australia our conditions differ materially from those of the older parts of the world, so that it is necessary for would-be agriculturists to unlearn the knowledge which they have acquired elsewhere. For some years, a large proportion of the farmers of New South Wales were engaged in sheep raising, and, consequently had no opportunity of studying the agricultural conditions obtaining in their own country. These circumstances, in my view, justify to the full the efforts put forward by various Ministries in the past to inform our agriculturists of the latest and most scientific developments, and as to how far it is possible for them to adapt themselves to the conditions natural to Australia. I give way to no one in my anxiety to exercise the functions which we are called upon to discharge by the Constitution by the direct agency of the Federal Parliament. I believe that we should attempt to .control, by the decision and action of the Federal Parliament, whatever has been handed’- over to us. This, however, is one of the matters that has not been handed over. Therefore, it seems to me that while in other respects we are not justified in attempting to shoulder the responsibility of the States Governments, we shall in this matter also, which has been largely retained in their control, be justified in seeking to co-operate with them rather than in attempting to supplant them. I think every one who has studied the growth of administrative Departments will admit that whenever a new Department is . established, there is danger of its functions overlapping, and of an abnormal growth being encouraged, especially by the officers who are placed in control. ‘ They naturally seek to magnify the importance of the work in which, they are engaged, and the tendency of the Departments is to grow abnormally. This is especially the case where a Department is in charge of a Minister who has not the tactical knowledge necessary to enable him not only to direct’ in the best possible way the work that is being engaged in, but also to check that desire for expansion which is so characteristic of public servants. My feeling with regard to this specific proposal is that we do not need to overlap the work in which the States are engaged. There are, however, ‘ some features of that work which I think could be managed more economically, and with much more satisfaction if they were under the control of one central authority. I think that the States Governments might very well be approached with a view to ascertaining how far they are prepared to authorize the Commonwealth - and there is plenty nf power under the Constitution to enable them to ;do that - to take up that portion of the work which is not peculiar to one State, but common to. all:. I refer par- ticularly to the encouragement and control of exports generally. So far as the analysis of the soil and the application of methods to particular conditions are concerned, I think that while the Agricultural Departments remain under the control of the States such matters may very well be left to them. Local conditions differ so much throughout Australia that it would be unwise for us, at the present stage of development anyhow, to attempt to take over general control of the Agricultural Departments as they exist in the various States: Whilst verv temporarily occupying office some time ago, I had brought under my consideration the suggestion put forward by the Victorian Agent-General a few months ago in regard to establishing a Federal depot in London. Whilst circularizing the various States Premiers, with respect to the office of High Commissioner, I took advantage of Mr. Taverner’s suggestion to lay before them the possibility of their allowing the Federal authorities, in conjunction with the High Commissioner’s office, to take’ in hand the matter of controlling the disposal of the exportable produce of Australia. I dare say that by this time my successor will have formed some idea of the feeling of the States authorities in that regard. Perhaps, however, it may be one of the matters that the Prime Minister’ proposes to discuss at his conference with the States Premiers, which I understand is to be held in February next. It seems to me. in that regard there is the possibility, with’ the assistance of the States Governments, of substantially helping the producers of Australia. It appears to me to be a mistake to permit exhibits of Australian produce to be scattered over the metropolis of the world - the metropolis, at least, so far as the markets of the world are concerned - and that it would be a great advantage if these exhibits could be concentrated under the control of some central authority, with a continuous idea as to the line of policy to be pursued. With that authority from the States, we might go a great deal’ further than is now proposed with respect to the disposal of our produce. Sufficient evidence has been adduced in connexion ‘with the Butter Commission in Victoria to convince honorable members and the community generally that there is need for some better and more effective method of supervision, not only in regard to butter, but, over every commodity we send from Australia.
– Every perishable product, at least. ‘
– Exactly. Possibly it was- because butter is a perishable product that matters were arranged to the advantage of’ the middleman in the fashion indicated by. the evidence given, before the Commission. I certainly think that the Commonweal th. could undertake, the general supervision of all our .exports, insist that proper brands and proper descriptions shall be used, and’ .that the grading - of those which permit of grading - shall be done in such a way as to facilitate their disposal. I would go to the full extent of appointing a State agent, and doing away with the middleman altogether so far as these perishables are concerned. I do not suppose that all honorable members will concur in the idea that we should attempt, per medium of State or Federal officials, to eliminate the middleman as between the producer and the cons amer. But, personally, I should be prepared to go any distance in’ that direction with a view to insure that the producer should get the full value of what he is able to export. I am quite in sympathy with the general object of the motion, but I should not care to have it thought that ‘we were going to establish a Department of Agriculture in regard to which there would be a risk of our overlapping the various Departments of the States.
– I carefully guarded myself on that point in my opening speech, in- which I urged that there should be no duplication. That would be a matter for the Government to arrange.
– I quite . admit . that. Having that always in. view, I think there can be no harm in passing the motion. The question whether we should establish a Department, pure and simple, is a matter for detailed consideration later on. In the meantime I would strongly commend to the Government the necessity of endeavouring to make some arrangement with the States in regard to this matter, which has not been specifically handed over to us, with a view to facilitating, so far as we can, the dis- posa of our products in the mother country.
– - I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion, which I think is a step in the right direction. A Department of Agriculture, under the control of the Commonwealth, would be in a position to afford very valuable assistance to cur farmers. In New South Wales we have agricultural farms, by means of which information of a technical and practical character is furnished to our settlers. Of course, the work carried on at these institutions ds of an experimental character, and no farmer could afford to carry on his operations upon quite the same expensive lines. They are of value, however, in so far that farmers can see for themselves the way in which work should be done. In the same way that in our technical schools youths are taught the right way in which to proceed about their work - to saw a piece of wood, or to mark out a line - so our farmers are taught, through the instrumentality of experimental farms, . to appreciate the advantage of carrying on their operations according to the most approved methods. Whilst we are considering this subject; we must pay due attention to the fact that our farmers - I speak more particularly of New South Wales - object to any State interference in carrying out their work. They are averse to the coddling to which some honorable members have referred, and desire to work out their own salvation. They have hewn out their own pathway to success so far, and all they expect is the assistance of the States in affording them ready and cheap access to the markets of the world. A Commonwealth Department #of Agriculture would prove ot great1 benefit by working in that direction. I do not for a moment wish to say one word against the methods adopted by the Victorian Government to encourage the dairying industry. No doubt the butter bonus gave a great impetus to dairy farming in Victoria. In New South Wales, however, our dairymen, without any such stimulus, have been able to hold their own and have placed their products upon the world’s markets with results quite as satisfactory as those which have attended exportations from Victoria.
– Our butter does not bring such a high price as that produced in New Zealand, where the closest State supervision is exercised.
– In- New Zealand they have a d’rastic and very beneficial Dairy Act. I am a strong believer in co-operation, and T am sure that the revelations which have been made in connexion with the Butter- Commission ‘ will prove a strong incentive to the dairy farmers of the Commonwealth 1o apply the co-operative principle to a far greater extent in connexion with their factory operations, with a view to controlling the industry from the stage at which the cream is separated from the milk until the butter is disposed of in the markets of the world. In New South Wales the co-operative principle has been adopted to a very large degree, and the dairy farmers -there recently decided to conduct their own export business, thereby entirely dispensing with middlemen. I believe that the Victorian dairy farmers will take to heart the lessons taught by the Butter Commission, and adopt a similar course.
An Honorable Member. - There is an Export Board in New South Wales.
– Yes. When the present Prime Minister came into office as Premier of New South Wales, he appointed an Export Board, not for the purpose of supervising or interfering with the export of produce, but with a view to opening up markets, instructing exporters as to the best methods to be adopted, and cheapening freights for therm That board in its early days did yeoman service, but it broke down when those appointed to it were persons interested in these matters themselves. I am not a great believer in commercial agents. I know of one case in which a commercial agent telegraphed from Japan that there was a good market there for lead at so much a ton, but when the authorities made the information known to the persons interested in Australia, they said that they -were already supplying Japan at £i a ton more. So far as the dairying industry is concerned, such agents give no assistance to the farmers, whose produce is purchased by persons who come out here from London, and make arrangements for the supply of the home market. What our farmers require are experts in whom they will have confidence, practical men who can show them where they are wrong, and what they should do to be right. I think, however, that the motion is a good one. j-here should be no interference with the farmers; but they should be assisted with technical knowledge, which they cannot obtain for themselves, for the development of their industry. Similarly, other industries, such as silk culture, which has been started on the Clarence River, and olive growing, might be assisted. At the present time, Queensland is using for the raising of cattle land which, if it were under cultivation by intelligent farmers, would be producing much more wealth than is obtained from it in its present stage of development. I shall support the motion.
– The honorable members for Cowper and New England seem to be in favour of carrying the motion, but to’ be opposed to ‘ putting it into operation. They wish the farmer* te bt left alone. Every farmer in New South Wales, however, would be glad of the information which would be available to him from the experiments of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. So far as I can see, the Commonwealth cannot deal with this matter in its detailed branches without the concurrence of the States. If it did so, it would be against the Constitution; but a Federal Department of Agriculture, though the term is almost a misnomer, would be of assistance to our producers in finding markets for our produce outside Australia, and in giving them information as to the channels through which their produce could be best disposed of. In addition, it could inform them of new inventions, and give other information which would assist them. That is what the motion has in view, and therefore it is absurd for honorable members to ride the high horse, and to say that the farmers do not want anything. Some are, at times, very glad to accept seed-wheat and other assistance from the Governments of the States, and are quite justified in accepting it after the terrible series of droughts experienced; and they would1 be equally glad to obtain information from the Commonwealth which would enable them to increase their production of wheat, potatoes, bananas, or anything else. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo wishes to establish a Department which will provide our farmers with information which, in their position of isolation, they cannot obtain for themselves. In Canada the work of the Federal Department extends to the work done by the States here. . It is a large Department, and does an immense amount of work. The last Prime Minister opened negotiations with the States to see if they would co-operate with us, and I hope that the present Prime Minister will dosomething more in the matter. If we have only States Departments, one may act in one direction and one in another r but with one central Federal Department harmony of action can be secured. If the honorable member for Cowper is correct in saying that the farmersdo not require assistance, why does the Farmers’ and Selectors’ Association of New South Wales-, which is at all times in correspondence with the Government, approach the Minister after their meetings, and ask for information and consideration ? The establishment of the Hawkesbury College, of the Wagga Agricultural Farm, of the
Murray Viticultural Farm*, and of the other experimental farms which are scattered over the State, was due to the agitation of the farmers and selectors of New South Wales. At present the farmers can obtain information, not only in regard to agriculture, but also in regard to viticulture, horticulture, and other kindred subjects. The farmers require all the information they can get. The honorable member for New England, speaking of the Wagga Agricultural Farm, said that it produces more than could be produced from any other farm of its size, having the same class of soil. No doubt that is so ; but it is because the farm has been worked on scientific lines by very able men. If, however, a farmer who was just commencing tried to work his farm on those lines, he wouldfind it very expensive at first.
– Mr. Valder told me that he could make the Wagga farm a commercial success, and could do better with it than was done bv any farmer outside.
– I do not dispute the truth of that statement. It must be remembered, however, that that farm has now been in existence for many years. Although the soil is comparatively poor, and the climate dry, experience has shown the value of constant working. As a rule, farmers do not plough more than once, or, at most, twice, before sowing their crops; but Mr. Valder and his successor have kept the land constantly moving in order to enrich it. Furthermore, they take advantage of the new machinery which is now obtainable for the drilling in of wheat. I represent probably the largest wheat-producing district in Australia, and, -during the last election, I was interested to find on many occasions that, where there were two fields of wheat similarly situated, and with the same soil, on opposite sides of the road, the crop which had been drilled in was sometimes producing two bags an acre more than that which had been sown broadcast. The use of phosphate manures has also increased our production. I should like to remark, however, that so-called manures are being sold to our farmers which are of no value at all, and the States Governments should take steps for the testing of all manure sold, to prevent such imposition.
– Arrangements for that have been made in Victoria.
– Complaints are still being made in this State.
– An amending Bill has been brought in.
– It is very necessary to prevent spurious manures from being sold, because the farmers who use them not only lose their money, but their crops and time too.
– Sometimes half of these so-called manures is sand.
– I, therefore, would, strongly impress upon the Governments of the States the need for a thorough inspection and testing of manures. Let inspectors put their mark on manures which are to be sold to the general public.
– That is to be done under the Victorian legislation.
– That is proposed. I believe. Competition is now so keen, and the price of wheat is sometimes so low, that it is essential that our producers should get good results, and they cannot do that if they obtain useless manures, whose vendors, if they know what they are selling, are nothing better than swindlers. I shall support the motion, and I urge” the Prime Minister to see if it is not possible to get the States to co-operate with the Federal Government, in order that we mav have united action, that Government establishing a Department to deal with outside matters. I presume that this Department would ob. tain information in regard to the latest and most improved agricultural machinery. During a debate in this House a few days ago, reference was made to the harvesters which are manufactured in Victoria, and which, although invented in this State, are also being made in other parts of the world. It seems to me that information that would enable the farmers to secure “the best machinery of this kind at the cheapest rate would be of the greatest value to them. We know, as a matter of fact, that a class of harvesters which may be purchased in certain parts of the world at about £20 are imported to Australia and sold for something like £70 or £80 each. That is an unreasonable profit for any one to make.
– That is the result of the duty.
– When we have a Tariff which will afford the manufacturers reasonable protection, such machinery will be locally produced at lower prices than those at which the imported implements are obtainable.- ‘The importers, supported by their strong financial position, can regulate prices where there is no local competition, but as soon as we secure local competition under a good Tariff the price of agricultural machinery must decrease rather than increase.
– Harvesters are already being made in Victoria, and exported to all parts of the world.
– I believe that many are being exported to South America ; but how is it that the industry is struggling at the present time?
– Nonsense !
– It is all very well for a young politician to “ poohpooh “ such a statement, but I can prove it.
An Honorable Member. - I saw fortyfour trucks laden with harvesters leaving Melbourne a few days ago.
– I have seen many leaving Victoria, where the manufacturers were protected to a reasonable extent under the State Tariff, for New South Wales. Nearly the whole of the agricultural machinery, including ploughs, harrows, and other implements, used in my electorate come from this State. Under the system of protection which prevailed in Victoria, the farmers in my electorate knew that they could obtain good machinery here, and they were able-to buy it at a lower rate than in New South Wales, where importers’ “rings:” were operating.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I have perhaps been led off the track by interjections, but I am alwavs ready to discuss the Tariff question. I desire, in conclusion, to emphasize my opinion that the motion is one of the greatest importance, and that on its being passed it should’ not be thrown in the waste-paper basket, so to speak, but that action should at once be taken to carry ii into ‘effect. I trust that whatever Government may be in power will not ignore the necessity to do something in this direction, and’ to do it without delay.
– Irise to express my sympathy with the object of the motion,, but I am inclined to think that as it stands it is not calculated to inspire confidence on’ the part’ of the States or to secure that co-operation which we seek. My idea ‘ is that there should be some co-operation- between the Governments of the States and- of the Commonwealth, and that the motion- should’ be so framed as to ‘invite the- Federal Govern ment to call a conference of the Ministers of Agriculture in the various States to consider the advisableness of establishing a Federal Department of Agriculture. We should be careful not to pass any motion that might give offence or prejudice in any way our chance of making” a satisfactory arrangement in this direction..
– Does the honorable member suggest that the wording of the motion will offend the States Governments?
– We cannot disguise the fact that to carry this motion into effect would be to establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. The people of the States already complain that we are duplicating the work of some of their departments; and whilst I believe that there is some chance of our securing the cooperation of the States in this matter, I think it is necessary for us, at the present time, to approach them in a very gingerly fashion. At one time we might have had no hesitation in passing a motion of this kind ; but judging by the opinions expressed by various States Ministers, they are not inclined to part with any of their powers. It must be admitted that we have no power under the Constitution to take over the States Departments of Agriculture, and we certainly should not seek to duplicate them. We should, at all events, endeavour to make a satisfactory arrangement with the States Governments. If the amendment were worded as- I suggest, thr6wing upon the Government the onus to bring the proposal under the direct notice of the States Governments-, and inviting a conference, much better results would ‘be secured. At such a conference, the representative of the Commonwealth would be in a position to disabuse the minds of the States delegates of any feeling that we desired to usurp their powers, and in that way much good would be done.- I do not propose to move an amendment, but I think it would be well to so amend the motion that it would read -
That, in the opinion of. this House, the Federal Government at an early date should invite a Conference of the States Ministers of Agriculture for the purpose of considering the advisability of establishing a Federal Department of Agriculture.
This would prevent any misconception as to our intentions on the part of the States. I think the honorable and learned member for Bendigo should consent to the motion being so amended as to allow of such a conference taking- place.
– That will’ follow later on.
– I shall have to vote against the motion, unless the honorable and learned member is prepared to amend it. I am not going to vote for the creation of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture until some effort has been made to arrive at an amicable agreement with the States. There is already too much duplication of work in connexion 1 with .the Departments we have taken over, and it seems to me that, by consultation with the representatives of the States Governments, we should be able to carry on some of our Departments at a much lower cost than at present. The steady growth of new Departments will be strongly resented by the States. I_have the . interests of the .primary producers as much at heart as has any honorable member, and I should be very loth to do anything that might be detrimental to them ; but it appears to .me that the motion does not propose the right means to give effect .to our ideas in “regard to this matter. In’ Canada immense grants of land were made in connexion with the establishment of a Department ; ‘ but we shall be in an altogether different position. The very money_ necessary to enable us to create this Department will have to be kept back from the States. It seems to me that a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture might be created to work in unison with those of the States, to their mutual advantage; but the honorable and learned member’s proposal suggests taking the bull by the horns. It invites opposition on the part of the States .before we take any action. The people of the States are not prepared to allow us to usurp any powers which we do not possess under the Constitution, and in these circumstances, although I am second to none in my desire to do everything that is possible in the interests of the primary producers, I shall feel compelled to vote against the motion as introduced.
– I am in distinct sympathy with the view put forward by the leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Grey, that we ought to utilize the States Departments of Agriculture as much as possible. . When the honorable and learned member for Bendigo first brought this proposal before the House, in 1 901,. his motion was framed in a somewhat different form.
– That was more than three years ago, and yet there has been no objection on the part of the States.
– That is so; but at that time it appeared to me to be necessary to move such an amendment as has been indicated by the honorable member for Grey. The amendment which I then moved was -
That the following words be added : - ‘ And that steps should be taken to ascertain whether the State Parliaments will co-operate to the extent, in the meantime, of placing the services of their Agricultural Departments at the disposal of the Commonwealth Department, in so far as they may be an aid to the carrying out of those matters appertaining -to agricultural interests, which will shortly come under the exclusive control of the Commonwealth.”
Honorable members will recognise that the amendment embodied a proposal on the very lines on which the honorable member for Grey would have us proceed. The motion now before us is so worded, however, that I think the course proposed may well precede any negotiations with the States. I am prepared, after careful consideration, to vote for it, as submitted, and I trust that the honorable’ member for Grey will yet see fit to support it. I hope he will recognise that it is quite within our province, without giving any offence to 1he States, to say that we should now establish a Department of Agriculture. Having arrived at that decision, we may then request the States Departments to assist us to focus the whole of their work, and the whole of the information at their disposal. We may have a Conference, if it be thought necessary ; but let us first decide to establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. There is no necessity for us to interfere in the slightest degree with the work of the States in this connexion. We may ask them in the most friendly way to supply us with all necessary information, and that information can be focussed in the Federal Department, where it will be available to the people of the six States.
– - The honorable member would establish the Department first, and consult the’ States ‘ afterwards.
– In establishing a central bureau of this character, no antagonism need be aroused. I am quite” in accord with the object of the honorable member for Grey, but I do not think that the holding of a Conference need be antecedent to the adoption of a motion of this’ character.
– I think that the honorable member for Grampians has taken the correct view in regard to the opinion of the honorable member for Grey. The latter has fallen into a slight error if he imagines that the adoption of this motion wil be tantamount to establishing a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. Instead, it merely expresses an opinion in favour of the creation of such a Department. It is true that the establishment of that Department will follow as a practical step upon the expression of opinion by this House. But there will be a sufficient interval between the two things to enable the Government to get into close touch with the Governments of the different States. As honorable members are aware, one of the leading features of the proposals of the present Government is a Conference with the Premiers of the States, with a view to discussing a number of matters of mutual concern - matters in which, in some cases, the powers of one Government overlap those of the other. I am very sanguine that the overtures which have been made by the present Government will be received in the same friendly spirit in which they have been offered. When we speak of the “ Federal spirit “ we ought to remember that such a spirit involves a just recognition of the rights and powers of the States. Within their own jurisdiction they are just as independent Commonwealths as is the Commonwealth of Australia within its jurisdiction.
– Who denies that ?
– Nobody denies it, but the point is that we should all strive to act up to it. When we use such a term as “ Federal spirit,” it should be interpreted to mean the most cordial and friendly desire to recognise the powers of the States, and to work in harmony with them in matters of mutual concern. That has been the motive, I think, of every other human being in the universe, and I am only desirous of adding that it is the motive of the present Government.
– As it was of the last Government.
– I included them in the general phrase “ every human being in the universe.” I thought that that was wide enough to include even the late Administration. Just as I desire to cultivate the most cordial relations with the other States, I have no wish to disparage the efforts of previous Governments in the same direction. To the extent that I am following a good example, I hope that my hands will be strengthened by those who have con trolled the Government in the past. Whether rightly or wrongly, there has been a great deal of sensitiveness on the part of the Governments of the States, and a number of complaints have been made, whether ill or well founded, as to the absence of such a disposition on the part of the Commonwealth Government. I do not for a moment suggest that such views are correct, but as a practical man, my anxiety is - irrespective of whether they are correct or not - to endeavour to remove them. If I thought that this motion was objectionable in any way, I should certainly advise the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to modify it. But I see nothing in it to which anybody can take exception. I accept it as the Minister of Trade arid Customs did at the beginning of this able arid valuable discussion. The Government accept it as entirely in a line with, perhaps, the greatest work which any Government can perform. It is one phase, and a very important one, of one of the most useful opportunities which can present themselves to a Federal Government. But, feeling deeply that any work of a Federal character which overlaps State jurisdiction will be imperfect unless there is a cordial co-operation between the two authorities, we should use every effort in our power to bring about that harmonious action. I heartily assent to this resolution, and I hope that in the few minutes remaining before the dinner adjournment the House will be able to agree to it.
– I have no desire to make an address in the nature of a reply, because the time at our disposal is nearly exhausted, and I should like honorable members to be afforded an opportunity of coming to a vote upon this matter. This motion has now stood upon the businesspaper practically for three years. Public attention has been directed to it, and honorable members have had an opportunity of listening to the arguments which have been advanced in its favour. The States Governments have also been afforded an opportunity of entering their protest against the proposal, if they had thought fit to do so, but no such protest has been entered. I desire to express my warmest recognition of the manner in which the resolution has been received, and especially of the sympathetic support which has been accorded to it this afternoon by the leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. It is a motion which all may join in supporting, subject to the qualifications which have been expressed upon both sides of the House, and subject to the common desire that, in establishing such a Department, we should avoid duplication and work in harmony with the States Governments to foster those primary industries which are the backbone of Australian prosperity.
Question resolved in the affirmative. “
Order of the day read and discharged.
– Before the House adjourns for dinner, I should like to inform honorable members that this evening we propose to proceed with the Papua Bill.
– Why not take the business in .the order in which it appears upon the paper?
– I would point out to the honorable member that only one-half an ordinary sitting remains to us, and I do not think we could dispose of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill within that period, although I am of opinion that we should be able to finish the consideration of the Papua Bill.
– We could deal with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and afterwards proceed with the consideration of the Papua Bill.
– I see no chance of doing that to-night.
– I think that the Prime Minister ought not to treat the Bill authorizing the survey of the Transcontinental Railway in the unfair way that he proposes.
– It is rather early to accuse me of unfairness. I do not intend to play with that measure. I wish to put it through this House when I take it up.
– That Bill has stood at the head of the business-paper for some time past - if we except the Estimates - and consequently it should be the next business considered. The* Government have already adjourned it to allow private members to occupy Government time in discussing a Bill to which the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues are bitterly opposed. When we find that that is the case, we have a right to complain. As the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill stands first upon the businesspaper, and as no question of importance in it remains to be decided-
– I know a great deal more of that than does the honorable member.
– Outside of one amendment, of which notice has been given, there is no reason why the measure in question should provoke very much discussion. I repeat that there is every prospect that we should be able to get the Bill through Committee this evening, and then we could devote the remainder of the sitting to the consideration of the Papua Bill. The Prime Minister would have consulted the interests of honorable members, and particularly of those who represent Western Australia, if he had allowed the orders of the day to be dealt with as they stand on the business-paper.
– I would point out to the honorable member that this is an emergency which Has arisen entirely owing to an accident which occurred last evening. I quite admit the responsibility of the Government for keeping a House together, and, as some of us were neglecting our duty last night, perhaps we deserve to be punished for it. We wish to resume the consideration of the Estimates to-morrow- morning, and as I came to the conclusion that we could not dispose of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill ‘this evening I thought we could probably make the best use of the two or three hours still remaining at our disposal by practically completing the consideration of the Papua Bill. I can assure the honorable member that my desire is just as strong as is his to see the measure to which he has referred passed through this House and sent on to the other Chamber.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 18th October, vide page 5703).
Postponed clause 23 (Meetings of Executive Council).
– This is a clause which I overlooked on the last occasion. It is of no great importance. It simply provides that the Executive Council shall not proceed to the despatch of business unless summoned by authority of the LieutenantGovernor. “Then provision is made for a quorum. The provision is similar to that contained in all Constitutions, whether of self-governing or Crown Colonies.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 28 -
Provided that the total number of non-official members shall not exceed twelve.
-I desire to amend the clause so as to provide that the three non-official members of the Legislative Council shall be elected by the white residents. The Legislative Council is to consist of the members of the Executive Council, which is to comprise not less than six persons, to be appointed ‘by the GovernorGeneral, and of three non-official members. “I do not know the exact number of white residents in the Territory at the present time, but in view of the dissatisfaction that exists among them, and the manner in which the affairs of the Territory have been administered, I think it is only right that they should have some direct representation in the Legislative Council. If the amendment be carried it will be necessary to make some provision for the elections. I move -
That all the words in sub-clause 2 after the word “ as,” line 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ may be elected at any election by adult suffrage of the white resident population.”
– I hope the Committee will not adopt the amendment. Our first duty is to protect the natives of New Guinea; and, as their interests may in many cases conflict with those of the white residents, I . think that it is undesirable that we should provide for the direct representation of the latter in the Legislative Council. Upon the drink question, for instance, as upon this, the interests of the white residents might be absolutely opposed to those of the natives; and we must hold steadily in view the necessity of protecting the natives as far as possible.
– I am sorry I cannot accept the amendment. I hope the time will come when some form of election, will be used in connexion with the government of this interesting dependency, but as matters stand we have to remember that the great mass of the people in Papua belong to the native race, and are subject in many respects to the domination of a few white people. We all know that where a small number of white people are living under white institutions with a very large number of black people, the questions which arise between the blacks and the white’s often involve a conflict between,, the direct money interests of the whites, and- the just rights of the blacks. In view of the enormous preponderance of the. black population, none of whom will be allowed to take part in- the proposed election, I do not think we should adopt the elective principle. The main object of the Government is to exercise the most beneficent influence upon the natives.
– Can the right honorable gentleman furnish us with any example of the way in which the United States or Canada have dealt with similar cases’?
– I am very sorry I cannot do so. It would be very interesting to follow’ out the development of cases in which a similar state of affairs has existed, but I am afraid that even if we studied such valuable precedents as ‘might thus be presented, we should find that, a number of features in Papua were quite different from those existing in the countries referred to. The white people in New Guinea constitute practically a white aristocracy, and my feeling is that it would not be wise to give them too much power- over the immense black population.
– We are legislating for years ahead.
– I do not regard the matter in that light. I look upon this measure as making a start in regard to a very difficult subject, and- I look forward to the time when we shall greatly improve on the Constitution provided for in the Bill. I do not see my way to accept the elective principle at the beginning of this experiment ; although it may be worthy of consideration later on. In starting this dependency, I think that it is safer for us to follow the lines which” have been carefully thought out by two previous Governments.
– We are legislating in the dark on this question.
– That is a difficulty which attends almost any new departure. I should like to mention the latest figures relating to the white and black population of the Territory. According to the Australian Year-Booh, there are 500 white residents in British New Guinea, and 460,000 blacks. In the light of these figures, I cannot recognise the claim of the white population to any special representation which is denied to the half-million of blacks. The theory of the Ministry is - and I hope that effect will always be given to it - that the interests of the black people of this Territory shall be safeguarded by a paternal Government. In maintaining our sway over these uncivilized blacks, it would be an odious thing to regard the Government as anything but their friend and protector.
– The Prime Minister knows that it has been otherwise.
– Yes, and the manner in which the blacks have been treated by the dominant whites, constitutes some of the worst pages in history. We can easily conceive that representatives elected by the white elite, whose business interests may often conflict with the welfare of the black races, might really form a body antagonistic to the general interests of the population. If the few white residents in British New Guinea were granted three representatives in the Legislative Council, they would possess an enormous power. Further, the white population consists merely of birds of passage. No white man settles in New Guinea with the idea of spending his whole lifetime there. I quite appreciate the motive of the honorable member for Kennedy. This Bill, however, follows the lines of all British precedents in the way of colonization, and marks the first stage in an experiment which is surrounded with very great difficulty. I would further point out that the officials have no business interests, as opposed to the interests of the natives, whereas the traders have:
– It is the officials against whom I wish to guard.
– If the officials are worthy’ of their positions they will not be objectionable.
– The Prime Minister has seen what has taken place from time to time.
– I have read of one regrettable occurrence, amidst untold instances of humane treatment by the authorities.
We know of only one instance of a lapse of judgment, which led to deplorable consequences. An emergency arose which tried the presence of mind of an unfortunate man beyond his strength, and which led to tragic results. But from all I know of the Government of New Guinea, I say that it has been marked by a degree of humanity and consideration for the natives which will contrast favorably with any similar administration elsewhere. The spirit exhibited by the Government has always been a benevolent, paternal, and protecting one. I am afraid, that it would be unwise to give the few white residents of this Territory the proposed share of representation in the local Parliament. I am very sorry that I shall be obliged to oppose the amendment.
– I intend to support the amendment, but, in view of the statements of the Prime Minister, I ask the honorable member for Kennedy to modify it, so as to provide that some of the non-official members of the Legislative Council shall be elected and others appointed. I take it that the non-official members should occupy an independent position. Certainly the Legislative Council should contain some representatives of the white people. I can recall two or three places in the British Empire where there are non-official members in the local . Parliament.
– Non-official members are provided for under this Bill.
– But they are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, and to that extent they are not independent. It necessarily follows that their appointment must be recommended by some resident of the Territory. In order to meet the views of the Prime Minister, perhaps the honorable member for Kennedy might modify his amendment so as to provide for the election of one non-official member of the Legislative Council.
– The adoption of such a proposal would involve the use of expensive machinery for the sake of one man.
– I venture to say that we should look to that individual for a true expression of the opinions entertained by the white settlers. Probably he would also prove the best protector of the natives to be found in the community. I can recall three places in the British Empire where non-official members of the Legislature are appointed by the Lieutenant*-
Governor. I venture to say that in the Transvaal there is a larger proportion of black people to white residents than there is in New Guinea.
– There are not 900 times as many.
– At any rate in the Transvaal there is a majority of black people. The promise has been made that as soon as that country is settled, the white members of the community shall elect nonofficial members to the Legislative Council. Similarly, at Malta there are nine nonofficial members who are elected by the Italian population, as against the British residents. A little time ago, when a difficulty occurred there in regard to the language question, in order to demonstrate the opinion of a majority of the people, these nine non-official members resigned their positions, and were elected again and again. Similarly, at Singapore, even Chinese are elected as non-official, members of the local Council. In my judgment, there should be one man in the Legislative Council of New Guinea representative of the white residents, who should be able to express a non-official view. I shall support the amendment, but I should like it to be amended in the direction which I have indicated.
– To my mind, the arguments advanced by the honorable and learned member for Corio cut in exactly the opposite direction to that which he intended. He speaks of the Italian residents of Malta electing non-official members to the Legislative Council there, in opposition to the British race. If there is any virtue in his argument, it appears to me. that the natives of New Guinea should elect the non-official members to the Legislative Council to represent them. To give 500 white residents a representation of three members in the Legislative Council seems to me to be altogether out of proportion-
– Surely they are entitled to some representation.
– Surely it is the natives who are entitled to representation. The honorable member for Maranoa spoke of the manner in which the white races had treated the blacks. I quite agree with every word that he uttered in that direction, and consequently I hold that a greater measure of protection should be provided for the natives of New Guinea. We talk about maintaining a White Australia. Do honorable members desire to secure a” White New Guinea by deporting the natives from that Terri tory? As the white population of British New Guinea is so numerically small, I am of opinion that it would be better to pass the Bill in its present form.
– I think that the Prime Minister might very well agree to a compromise under which three representatives of the Legislative Council would be chosen by the residents of New Guinea. All that the honorable member for Kennedy desires is that the white residents shall be directly represented by some non-official members of that body. I admit that the clause would have to be amended further down, because I do not think that the honorable member for Kennedy desires that the non-official members should increase, as provided for in subclause 3, since, if they did, they would outvote the official members. If we provide for the representation of the white population, we shall do, I think, all that is desired.
– This subject was considered by the late Government, who came to the conclusion that to insist upon an election in this instance would be to carry principle to a pedantic extreme. I would ask my honorable friends . to remember that the appointment of non-official members must be made by the Governor-General, which virtually means by the Ministry responsible to this House, so that we can insist upon the adequate representation of the miners, and other white residents, and see that effect is given to the expression of the popular voice. I feel that we should not provide for elections without taking every precaution against fraud ; but it would not be possible in this instance to provide all the machinery in the way of rolls, polling-booths, scrutineers, and returning officers, necessary for the proper conduct of an election. There is a good deal to be said in favour of the honorable member’s proposal, because there is too great a tendency in Governments of this kind to consider only the wishes and ideas of the Governor, and the clique sur roundings him; but, having regard to the fact that the Ministry advising the GovernorGeneral will be responsible to this House, I do not . think we need go any further.
– I am in sympathy with the’ honorable member’s proposal ; but I, too, see difficulties in the way of carrying it into effect. I think, however, that it would be better to do without non-official members than to create an anomaly. The Bill establishes a clear and definite relationship between the non-official members of ‘the Council and the white population. It is clearly intended that they shall be regarded as representing the white population. Inasmuch, however, as it is impossible to give the white residents an opportunity to select their own representatives, it is an undesirable anomaly to appoint as their representatives men in whose selection they have had no voice.
– I cannot see how effect can be given to the amendment, though, of course, it is natural to desire, in enacting a Constitution for a new country, to preserve the best features of our own system of government. Despite the difficulties with which a white population has to struggle in a tropical country like New Guinea, if gold were discovered there in payable quantities, there would soon be a large population settled in the Territory, and I think we should make some provision for that event. I do not agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that it would be well to abolish the non-official members of the Legislative Council. They are provided for as a safeguard for the interests of both the white and the native inhabitants. I should like, however, to see provision made for a definite number. They will be able to hold the balance between the official members, who may be bound up with too much red tape, or inclined to dominate tod much. I think that in view of a possible expansion of population, the Bill should operate for a limited period, say, ten years.
– It can always be amended.
– Yes; but it is difficult to secure the amendment of a Constitution. If, however, the measure had effect for a limited period only, its operation would come up for review at the end of that time, and it could then, if necessary, be amended without any trouble. The measure is a very crude one.
– I think that ir is. The right honorable gentleman knows nothing of New Guinea.
– I lived for many years in a Crown Colony, and was a member of the Executive Council there.
– We hope that the natives of New Guinea will be treated more humanely than the natives of some ot our Crown Colonies have been. But, although we are trying to provide every safeguard, we are legislating in the ‘dark, as we have very little information about the Territory. I think it would have been money well spent if the Government had appointed a Commission to inquire into the condition of affairs there, before proposing any legislation; but as they and their predecessors regard the measure as one of urgency, I shall not oppose it. I should vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Kennedy if it could be carried into effect ; but as I think it cannot, I shall support the clause as it stands, hoping that a time limit will be placed upon the operation of the Bill.
– I realize that New Guinea is in a very different position from Australia, or any other country where the majority of the population belongs to our own race; but I think that the Prime Minister might consider whether it is not possible to meet to some extent the veryproper anxiety of the honorable member for Kennedy. While for many years to come, the Commonwealth will be constrained to keep the government of the Territory ‘in its own hands, for the protection of the native population, I do not see why the white population should not have representation on the Council. It would be very hard to debar them from expressing their opinions on matters of concern to them - opinions which would frequently be of value. I think, therefore, that the Government of the day might be allowed to prescribe the method of securing such representation. We might be content with enacting that at least one member of the Council shall be non-official, and chosen by the white residents, as prescribed by regulation.
– By the regulations of the New Guinea Government, or of the Commonwealth Government ?
– The Commonwealth Government would be responsible; but the New Guinea Government would have to afford the detailed information on which the regulations were based.
– I am inclined to favour the clause as it stands, recognising that the measure is a temporary expedient. The power which causes this Constitution to come into existence will be able at any time to alter it. The white population of British New Guinea is so small that I think that even their interests, as well as those of the natives, would be much safer in the hands of the Governor-General - and Governor-General, I presume, means “ the Governor-General in Council “-
– Hear, hear.
– Than they would be in the hands of a few nomadic settlers, who might go to British New Guinea as prospectors, intending to make it merely a temporary abode. We know that there is a precedent in the Empire for the course we propose to adopt. In India, for example, native races under the Crown are not allowed to exercise the franchise as British subjects in other parts of the Empire, where there is responsible government, are able to do. British New Guinea is as yet in its infancy. It is not a State of the Commonwealth, but simply a territory on whose development we are expending a considerable sum. At present the white men in the Territory may fitly be described as visitors rather than settlers. They have gone there to see if they can make a rise for themselves, and I am rather inclined to think that in their interests, as well as in the interests of the natives, it is well that we should allow the clause to remain as it stands.
– I think we shall act wisely in passing the clause as it stands. As a matter of fact, it provides for something slightly more liberal than the usual’ Crown Colony form of government, inasmuch as there is to be a larger number of non-official nominee members of the Council than is usual. The interests of the natives will be quite as secure in the hands of a Council, consisting of members nominated by “ the Governor-General, and with the Commonwealth Parliament ready at any time to step in to remedy any defects, as they would be if representatives of the few white inhabitants of the Territory were elected to it. Fiji is administered under the usual Crown Colony type of government, an.1 its Legislative Council consists of the Governor and six official, and six non-official members. The Constitution with which we propose to endow British New Guinea is similar to that which all of the Australian States had at their foundation. When a colony is founded, it is granted, the Crown Colony form of government of the severe type in which all the members of the Legislative Council are nominated. As its population increases, however, nominee and elective members, in addition to the official members are returned to the Council, and finally it is granted what ds called responsible government, such as that under which we live. Considering that there are only about 250 British white subjects in New Guinea, I fail to understand why there should be any desire to introduce the elective system at this early stage in its career, and I do not think that’ it is necessary in the interest of the native population to do so. The Crown Colonies of the Em-, pire, such as Ceylon, Mauritius, the West Indies, Fiji, the Straits Settlements, and several others, are governed under a very similar system to that proposed in the Bill, and no one would say that in Crown Colonies the interests of the natives are not safeguarded. On the contrary, the complaint is often made that they are safeguarded to too great an extent, and that the white population do not receive the- consideration they deserve. I think that the proposal to introduce an elective system of representation into the Government of this Territory in the early stages of its career would be regarded as rather Quixotic. Local residents will be recommended to the Governor-General for appointment to the Council. We may be sure that proper inquiries will be made before any appointment is made, and that the gentlemen nominated as members will be largely interested in the development and progress of the Territory. I therefore see no reason for taking exception to the clause.
– I shall support the amendment, which embodies a proposal that I voiced in the last Parliament. At that time, in view of the limited information at our disposal, it was considered that it would be unwise for us to concede this measure of self-government to the white settlers of the Territory ; but . upon inquiry I feel more .strongly than before that the proposition is a sound one. The white population of British New Guinea consists mostly of miners and traders who are realty pioneers developing what no doubt will become an important part of the Commonwealth. These persons have been trained in the exercise of the powers of selfgovernment in the States from which they come, and we need have no fear in granting them a power which they have already enjoyed.’ I believe that the interests of the Crownand of the natives are amply safeguarded by the Bill. There is to be a Legislative Council, consisting of six members, nominated, in the first instance, by the Lientenant-Governor, .and approved by the Governor-General. It is now proposed that there shall be three other members of the
Council to represent the white population, which I understand consists of about 600 whites.
– They are not all British subjects.
– I admit that the white population is scattered, but in the mining centres a considerable number are to be found. The objection has been taken that it would be very difficult to secure such an expression of opinion on the part of the white settlers as would lead to their being fairly represented.
– That is one of the smallest objections that have been mentioned.
– I am glad to learn that the Government regard that objection as a trivial one; because in the last Parliament it was considered a very serious objection. I agree with the Prime Minister’s view, because wherever there is a fair population it will be just as easy to take a poll, as it is in our back-block districts.
– That is rather farfetched.
– I do not know that it is. I have never visited New Guinea, but those who have assure me- that no more difficulty would be experienced in taking a poll in the mining centres there than in the back- blocks of Australia. As to those living in isolated districts, why should we not permit them to vote through the post, just as we allow settlers in, the remote parts of the Commonwealth to do?
– The system might be abused.
– I do. not think it would. It seems to me that. the white settlers would do their utmost, to secure the proper expression of their views at the ballot-box. Until the population of British New Guinea exceeds 2,000 it would be impossible under this proposal for them to exercise any greater voice in the management of the affairs of the Territory than they would, at the present time. It is provided that for every increase of 1,000 in the population after the limit of 2,000 has been passed one additional member shall be elected, until a total of twelve representatives shall have been returned. When that stage is reached the white population will probablv be large enough to warrant some alteration of the Constitution. In view of the fact that there is no insurmountable difficulty in the way of securing a vote of the people, I think that they should be given some opportunity to select the men who are to specially represent them. No injury would be done to the native population; on the contrary, it seems to me that their interests would be more likely to be safeguarded by a Council constituted as the honorable member for Kennedy proposes than they would be by a purely nominee Council.
– As I have already said, the object which the honorable member for Kennedy has in view is a very good one, and I think it can be substantially obtained under the system provided in the Bill. His object, in so far at it tends to independent representation in the Legislative Council, is a good one. I would point out, however, that the object of having non-official members is not that we may secure some echo of the official members. If that were the principle of the Bill it would be a mere waste of effort. The principle underlying this proposal is that these non-official members of the Legislative Council shall really be different from the official members in the sense . that they will to a greater degree represent the nonofficial elements in the community. I am thoroughly with . the honorable member in regard to that, and I think I can meet his views in this way. First of all, the responsibility will rest upon the Government of the day to see that the non-official members are of the right sort. That will be one direct hold which the House will have upon any Government which may bring this Bill into operation, or exercise any powers under this particular section. It will1 be the constant desire of the Government of the day here, and I think also of the Government in Papua, that . the non-official members shall, in the fullest and highest possible sense represent the best independent elements of the community. We have many methods of attaining that end. For instance, the Lieut. -Governor cannot make an appointment under the Seal, of the Territory, except with the consent of the GovernorGeneral, who will, of course, act under the advice of his Ministers. Therefore, it will be the duty of the Government of the day to see that the three non-official members are of the class that the honorable member has in view, and that, I think, we all desire to see recognised in these appointments. An election under the extreme conditions of the problem to which I have referred would by no means secure the object of the honorable member. The white residents in New Guinea do not form a settled community; but comprise a number of nomads who have gone there for the purpose of making all they can out of. the blacks, and otherwise. That is the plain English of the matter. No man desires to go into such dangerous parts of the world, except for the purposes of personal gain. I am speaking of the average man, and not of those heroic spirits who have existed in every age. The main impulse is, in most cases, gain.
– That is the basis of all British settlement.
– I suppose it is, and 1 am not underrating it, but I am pointing it out as a disqualification for a high-spirited Legislative Council dealing with the fate of half-a-million blacks. If this were a business concern some of these keen spirits might make the best kind of directors ; but in view of the paternal Government we have in view7, we must impose some check upon the kind of .men who are returned. In a constituency of this kind, very limited, and with strong conditions of selfishness surrounding its enterprises, it would not be impossible for some person to be elected who would be the last man my honorable friend or any one else would desire to place in such a position. I submit that we have a far higher duty to the 500,000 blacks in Papua than to The 506 whites. The latter can look after themselves much better than the blacks can. If a white man has a grievance, he can induce honorable members to champion his cause, and to endeavour to have his wild charges published at the public expense. He has always at his command methods of ventilating his grievances.
– But he is not assured of justice.
– Perhaps not ; but his position is far better than that of the blacks. The honorable member for Kennedy can take my assurance that the anxiety of the Government will be to appoint men who shall be just what we all desire them to be - independent, good men, who will faithfully reflect the opinions of the independent members of the community.
– How does the right honorable gentleman expect to secure that result?
– That will be a matter for us to consider with a full sense of our responsibility. I do not propose to work out that problem on the spur of the moment. I can, however, assure the Com mittee that our best efforts will be devoted to working out some method, short of a cumbrous elective process, for securing the appointment of three thoroughly representative men.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with the idea underlying the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kennedy, but I can clearly see that under present conditions the difficulties of putting it’ into operation are insurmountable. Of course honorable members must recollect that the conditions in Papua are ‘very different from those which prevail here. I think there is some merit in the proposal that a limit should be fixed for the operation of the proposed system of government. At the expiration of a specified period the present arrangement might, if it were thought desirable, be continued for a further term, or it might be superseded by a better one”.- ‘Some reference was made to the Constitution of Fiji, and the manner in which the Government there is conducted. I have no official information relating to .the matter, but a book recently published under the title of Sunshine and Surf, and written by Mr. Douglas Hall and Lord Albert Osborne, makes some reference to it. This book describes a cruise among the South Sea Islands, and the statements made by the authors can be regarded only as ex parte declarations of tourists. Still, the authors seem- to be fairly well informed, and what they say with regard to the experience of Fiji is not particularly in favour of th” form of Constitution which is now proposed for Papua. At page 225 they say -
Fiji, as many know, is a Crown Colony of a most rigorous type. The whole Government is vested in the hands of the particular colonial official who happens to be appointed Governor. His council, who assist him in making the laws, is composed of the six heads of Government Departments, and six presumably leading white inhabitants appointed by the Governor, but only during “ good behaviour.”
The present Governor decided that the six Government officials were bound to vote with the Governor on any measure which he might bring forward, thus one can see at a glance that, as he , has a casting vote, with his six satellites, he can carry any measure for taxation or for the spending’ of the revenue he chooses. The present Governor is a man with very strong ideas, which are not always successful, and it was commonly reported to us that if a deputation of merchants or others came to see him on any subject he scarcely received them with decent politeness.
They quote a number of glaring cases of governmental tyranny under the Fijian system, and remark further -
As a white merchant here said to me once, “ We are thousands of miles away from England. Even the Governor’s salary is now paid by the Colony, and nothing of any sort about Fiji ever goes up before Parliament. We know nobody in authority in England, and nobody to take our part.”
They are absolutely under the autocratic thumb of the Governor appointed by the Colonial Office, and the only way his acts can be criticised, I presume, would be when the Colonial Office estimates are brought forward ; but, no doubt, any members who spoke or asked questions about Fiji would get as their sole reward a caricature of themselves in Punch, dressed as a half-naked Fijian, with a club in his hand, dancing a wardance.
Of course, this has reference to the form of Government in a Crown Colony, which is far removed from the sphere of English parliamentary influence. Papua is very differently situated, because it is located within 100 miles of our coast, and its Government will be under the immediate supervision of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– We know as much about Fiji as we do about Papua.
– But the conditions of Papua and Fiji will be entirely different, because we shall have the whole of the Government under our immediate observation. At some future time it mav be advisable to proceed upon the lines proposed by the honorable member for Kennedy; but, at present, I am sure that his scheme would be absolutely impracticable.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy). - The Prime Minister has assured us that the appointments to the Legislative Council will lie made upon a principle very different from that followed in connexion with appointments made up to the present time; but the whole administration of Papua has been so unsatisfactorythat I think some radical change should be made. I have had scores of letters from miners, who state that the conditions there are very far from what could be desired. It is true that the miners who go to Papua resort there for the purposes of personal gain ; but at the same time they are performing valuable development work, which is not likely to be undertaken by anv other class of settlers. But in doing that, they incur an enormous risk. It is that risk which makes it possible for othersto subsequently settle there, and to live in comparative comfort. Under the circumstances, I think that these men should receive better treatment than has been meted out to them. I can assure the Minister that the mining population of British New Guinea is very much dissatisfied with the manner in which the administration of the Territory has been conducted. One of the principal things of which they complain is that a little band of residents who are located around Port Moresby practically controls the whole island. Whilst all sorts of concessions can be obtained by settlers in the vicinity of that port, the miners who desire that pathways should be cut to the different mining centres - and honorable members must recollect that the jungle of New Guinea is almost impenetrable - experience great difficulty in getting their requirements attended to. When it was proposed to take over . the administration of this Territory, I voiced the opinion that we were embarking upon a very dangerous course, inasmuch as we were undertaking the control of 500,000 blacks, some of whom are of a very warlike disposition. I quite agree with the Prime Minister, that the black residents of the Possession should be protected in every possible way, and I trust that the scandals which have occurred in connexion with the treatment of Australian aborigines will- not be repeated there. The way in which our own natives have been treated constitutes one of the blackest pages in our history. In the northern portion of Queensland they have been shamefully treated.
– -They are being badly treated there at the present time.
– I will not say that. The Queensland Government has done a great deal to alleviate their sufferings. But whilst we should protect the natives of New Guinea, we should also encourage our white settlers to develop its resources. It has occurred to me that if we granted them direct representation in the Legislative Council, thatbody would necessarily gain a better knowledge of their requirements. Of course, I realize the difficulty that would be experienced in conducting an election in which only 500 voters were interested.
– Of course, there would be nothing to prevent the white residents of the Territory from sending in a memorial in favour of the appointment of any particular individual to the Legislative Council. That would be an informal way in which they might express . their opinion.
– The suggestion of the Prime Minister would certainly be an improvement upon the proposal contained in this Bill. They might very easily send in a memorial expressing their desire that some particular individual should be appointed to represent them.
– That would overcome the difficulty without any necessity for legal formalities.
– Ifwe appoint ; a number of officials as members of the Legislative Council, I can foresee that they will be reluctant to take up a position which is hostile . to the Administrator.
– They will be independent of him.
– If we appoint six or seven officials, they must, to a large extent, give effect to the wishes of the Administrator. If they did not do so, a conflict would immediately arise, and the Administrator might see that some of them were removed.
– That would be a risky move upon his part.
– But such things do take place.
– A member of the Legislative Council could not be removed without the approval of the Governor-General in Council.
– At any rate, there is always an unconscious leaning on the part of officials towards the view which is entertained by their superior officers, and that leaning might induce them to give decisions which they would not give if they were independent of him.
– This is not a new system.
– I am aware of that. Nevertheless, it is a system which has not worked well. Take the case of the Transvaal as an example. There, the Legislative Council system is regarded as most unsatisfactory by all those who are directly interested. But seeing that we cannot obtain a_ better system, I intend to withdraw my amendment. Before doing so, I would point out that the members of the Legislative Council of New Guinea will be elected for life.
– No; the non-official members are to” be appointed for six years,- but upon the expiry of that term they may be reappointed.
Mr.McDONALD.- When these persons, are about tobe appointed, I think that’ their names should be laid upon the table of the House, so as to allow us to obtain some expression of opinion from the white residents of British New Guinea as to whether their appointment would prove acceptable. When once they have been appointed they cannot be removed -
– The Government may remove them at any time.
– Not unless some specific charge is proved against them.
– Every non-official member can be removed at any time.
– I think that my suggestion is a reasonable one, and that it would be a fair compromise under the circumstances.
– I recognise that some difficulty would be experienced in giving effect to the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy. At the same time I think that the Prime Minister should see whether some system cannotbe devised whereby the white population of the Territory will be directly represented. In the Transvaal the Legislative Council is appointed in the same manner that it is proposed to constitute it in New Guinea. I find from a dispatch by Sir Arthur Lawley, the Governor of the Transvaal, that the white population of that country are up in arms against the Legislative Council - so much so that he is afraid to use his majority in that Council to carry out the policy of the British Parliament. That fact evidences the necessity for having the white population in a Crown Colony directly represented. The proposal in the Bill practically amounts to this : If the Governor is dissatisfied with the action of any member of the Legislative Council, he may remove him at any time. Consequently, its members are merely his puppets. The official members of the Council well know that a word from the Governor will be sufficient to deprive them of their positions. In the Transvaal we know that it is proposed to apply a test in regard . to immigrants, not only in the English but in the Indian language, because there is a very large Indian population settled there. Indeed, in Petersburg there is not a single white storekeeper to-day. The Indians have acquired control of the entire trade there, and so ‘incensed have the ‘white population become as the result of having no direct voice in the matter that the local bodies have taken the law into their own hands-
– Does the honorable member intend to connect this with the clause ?
– Certainly. I ‘was going to say that precisely the same thing would occur with regard to the white population in New Guinea.
– What about the black population? Is the honorable member going to prevent them from becoming storekeepers ?
– They are living very happily now, and will not be improved by coming into contact with white people. If the honorable member knows anything about the history of Natal, he must be aware that, not only have the coloured races there been contaminated, but the white race is deteriorating.
– The contamination of races has nothing to do with the question before the Chamber.
– It has everything to do with the subject under discussion.
– I must be allowed to be the judge, temporarily, at any rate, and I fail to see any connexion. I therefore ask the honorable member not to refer to that matter.
– I should not have done so had it not been for the interjection of the honorable member for New England. There is great danger of dissatisfaction arising among the white residents of New Guinea, and, in fact, many complaints have already been made of the present Administration. If the white population were given at least one direct representative, a great deal would be done to prevent irritation, and to secure the good government of the Territory. I am sorry that the honorable member for Kennedy is prepared to withdraw the amendment. I urge the Prime Minister to make provision for the appointment of at least one member of the Council to directly represent the white population of the Territory. . I should be quite satisfied .with the appointment of a non-official member, on a .memorial from the white population.
Mn BROWN (Canobolas).- I do not [think that the honorable member for Kennedy has -secured any very great concession. I should be prepared to- allow the clause to pass as- it stands, if the experience 10 q 2 of the various British possessions where this system of Government has been tried had not shown that it has not been -an unqualified success. Although in the initial stages of colonization it has been thought necessary to adopt this form of government, it has not been regarded by those who have lived under it as very desirable. If it could be shown that a nominee Council would safeguard the interests of the blacks better than an elective or partially elective Council, my position would be different ; but our experience in Australia has been that the blacks have suffered the greatest amount of injustice, not under representative government, but under a government similar to that which is proposed- for New Guinea. An opportunity should be given to the white population of the Territory-
– They number only 500 persons.
– I suppose that they will increase, and multiply.
– Provision is made for that.
– Provision is made for an additional non-official member of the Council for every increase of 1,000 persons to the white population, until a maximum of twelve non-official members has been reached, when, I presume, it is considered that other legislation will be needed to meet the altered conditions. We have no evidence to show that this system has in the past operated in the interests of either the black population or the white population engaged in the pioneering work of developing new countries.
– Why should we develop New Guinea? Is there not room for development in Australia?
– Would the honorable member haul down the British flag?
– No; but I would leave New Guinea to the natives who are there.
– I do riot think that that is the policy of the Power which’ controls the situation. If there were no white population in New Guinea’ there would, of .course, be no elective member on the Council. I wish, however, to provide machinery which will enable the residential white population to express its voice in the Government of the Territory, if not by electing a representative,” by nominating one for appointment. At . all events, I should like to have a vote of the Committee on the question, and for that reason I object to the withdrawal of the amendment. ‘
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir). - I move-
That the word “ three,” line 13, be left out, with a view to the insertion of the word “ six.”
If any system of representation by election be desired, we should balance, as far as possible the representation of the respective interests in the Council. It has been stated that in one of the Crown Colonies there are six official and six non-official members of the Council.
– The statement made by the Prime Minister as to the position of the white and coloured races in Papua reminds one of the situation in India. India has a population of some 350,000,000 coloured1 British subjects, and I doubt if there are as many hundred thousand whites to be found there; but neither the white nor coloured races are allowed to exercise the franchise. We know, however, that in two small districts in the peninsula - Chandernagore, and Pondicherry - which belong to France,, the people have the privilege of electing a member to the Chamber of Deputies, and . the Senate in Paris. I -mentionthis only as. showing that one European nation, at all events, allows representatives to be elected in respect of a small part of the peninsula of Hindustan, whilst 350,000,000 highly civilized human beings in the main part of the penin sula, are not permitted to exercise the franchise.
– Does that justify this amendment?
– It shows that . the white settlers in Papua should have representation.
– But the amendment means something more than that; it says in effect that the whites shall exercise half the power of the Legislature - 600 whites against half-a-million blacks.
– Not necessarily.
– In reality that will be the position.
– The white races will have some measure of representation, but unless the number of members be increased from three to six, they will not be properly represented. Australian sentiment is that the white races should have proper representation, and I intend to vote for the amendment.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 22
Noes … … … 20
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The Prime Minister has succeeded in resisting both the attempts which have been made to amend the clause, because he has given honorable members an assurance that the Government will be responsible for any appointments that may be made. I would point out, however, that sub-clause 2 provides that the appointments shall be made by: the Governor-General, under the seal of the Commonwealth, or by the LieutenantGovernor in pursuance of instructions from the Governor-General. If these instructions are of a general character, and are issued immediately the Bill is brought into operation, any subsequent Governments will be relieved of the responsibility . for the directions given by their predecessors. I should like the Prime Minister to consider the advisability of amending the clause by providing that special instructions shall be given in every case.In that event, the Government of the day will be directly responsible to Parliament for any action that may be taken.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 20A. No intoxicants or opium shall be allowed to be imported into or manufactured or sold or otherwise disposed of in the Territory except for medicinal purposes to be disnensed on the order of a medical practitioner, or person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and any ordinance passed before the commencement of this Act providing for such introduction or sale is hereby repealed.
I have considerably altered the scope of the clause since it was last submitted to the House. When the Bill was before us last session, it was provided that no intoxicants should be sold except for medicinal purposes on the order of a medical practitioner, but honorable members will notice that I now propose . that liquors shall be dispensed by a medical practitioner “or person duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor.” I desire to direct attention to the objections raised by Sir Edmund Barton upon a’ former occasion, and also to the information gleaned by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat from residents in Papua. Sir Edmund Barton, in opposing the clause which was previously agreed to, laid special emphasis on two points. In the first place, he stated that a considerable loss of revenue would result from the prohibition of the sale of liquor, and, in the second place, pointed out that the precautions taken to prevent the sale of liquor to natives had proved thoroughly effective; and that no real danger was to be apprehended. He directed attention to the fact that the ordinary licensee was allowed to sell liquor only for consumption off the premises, or for consumption on the premises by bonâ fide residents in such premises, and that the conditions were such as to preclude the natives from obtainingliquor. He represented that the loss of revenue would amount to something like! £3,263, and said, further, that there were fourteen licensees to meet the requiremnts of 500 white people. The opinions expressed in the paper laid upon the table, which gives the answers to a series of question submitted to residents of the Territory by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, were offered in respect. to the clause as it was embodied in the former Bill, which precluded any one but a medical practitioner from dispensing spirits for medicinal purposes. The evidence of the missionaries was particularly based upon that restricted provision. I would direct the attention of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to the fact that some of the statements made are of the most remarkable character. In the first place, the Acting-Administrator admits that he does not know the number of licences issued.
– That is hardly a fair way of putting it.
– I shall quote his own words. He says - i regret to say i am not yet in possession of the results of the Government Secretary’s inquiries as to the number of licences in force. They are granted by the Resident Magistrate in each division, but no general record of them has been kept at head-quarters.
Therefore the Administrator has so little control over the issue of these licences that he knows practically nothing about them.The statement that there are only fourteen licences is proved to be wrong, because there are actually twenty. A further remark is made by the ActingAdministratorto the effect that if the proposed prohibitionbe carried out neither missionary nor miner on’ the gold-fields will be able to procure a bottle of spirits to alleviate pressing sickness except on a certificate from a medical officer, and he points out that there is only one medical officer at Port Moresby, and another at some place far removed from the gold-fields. The clause ‘ as it is now framed meets. the objection based upon the ground that spirits can be dispensed only by a medical’ practitioner. It will be competent for the Government to arrange for spirits to be dispensed by any person, subject to proper supervision. Sir Edmund Barton stated that no less a sum than £3,130 8s. 5d. was collected annually in the shape of liquor duties.
– The white residents must have a verv big thirst.
– Yes. Sir Edmund Barton also stated that, no retail licences were issued, and that no intoxicating spirits were sold, except in bottles, for consumption off the premises. The Acting-Administrator states, however, that -
Your Excellency will have observed that Section IV. of “The Liquor Ordinance of 1891 “ does not authorize what is generally known as a “ bar trade,” but such a trade seems to have been permitted, and the hotels at Port Moresby and Samarai and the stores in the more remote places sell liquor by the glass under the licence granted them.
This shows conclusively that the conditions of the licences at present issued are being evaded, and that liquor is being sold apparently without any restriction. Now let me quote the opinions of some of the missionaries, to which great prominence is given in the papers laid before the House. The Bishop of the Church of England Mission says -
The laws dealing with the sale of alcoholic liquor generally have been observed, so far as the authority and influence of the Government officers have extended, but there are stores on the gold-fields, and at least one township where at times no officer is present, and then excessive drinking has been resorted to. The present unrestricted sale of alcoholic liquors, bringing large gains to the vendor, or to the licensed victualler, or storekeeper, whom he represents, needs immediate attention. It has led to unchecked orgies, which have disgraced and lowered the white race in the eyes of the native, and while the ‘state of Samarai in this respect has greatly improved during the last five years, in more remote places disgraceful scenes have occurred more recently.
Another missionary says-
The morals and health of the white community and natives would probably, as a whole, be slightly improved, but members of the former would perhaps be driven to dishonest, acts to procure spirits.
The fear is expressed by most of them that liquor will not be obtainable for medicinal purposes, and their objection is based upon that ground. They agree that the morals and the health, of the people will be greatly- improved. Another missionary remarks -
The laws of the Possession arrange for bottle licences, and forbid liquor to be drunk on the premises where it is sold. This prohibition is universally disregarded. Every place where liquor is sold by licence has a bar at which it is drunk.
Sir Edmund Barton made a strong point of the fact that the native residents could not obtain drink except for consumption off the premises, and ‘ stated that there were no licensed houses in the sense in which we understood the term in Australia. Another missionary testifies that -
Natives have undoubtedly obtained drink. The sources at present are : the stores, private individuals (whites), hotels, and kanakas. I don’t think that natives get it from the stores with the knowledge of the storekeepers. Private individuals are not always careful to lock up their whisky bottles. Hotels have, it is supposed, supplied kanakas, with or without permit, secretly. It will be impossible to safeguard the supply to natives unless kanakas are placed absolutely on the same footing as the Papuan, and the sale of drink taken over by Government, and no licences issued to private individuals.
Although prohibition on the lines indicated in the clause as previously adopted is condemned, all the missionaries agree that if prohibition could be made effective it would be in the best interests not only of the natives, but of the white residents.
– Are they all abstainers ?
– I wish that they were.
– Because it would be better for them and for the cause which they desire to serve. Another remarkable objection which is urged by the missionaries is that they cannot get wine for sacramental purposes. One would really think that the time had gone by when such an argument would be advanced. Why, there are thousands of churches all over Christendom in which non-intoxicating wine is used for sacramental purposes, and many others in which no wine is used whatever. I recognise too well the value of missionary work to say one word which would reflect upon missionary sacrifice. But I cannot refrain from’ declaring that the whole of the evidence which is advanced by the missionaries in this Parliamentary paper is about upon a par with the statement to which I have referred. Then again, great prominence is given by the missionaries and the officials to the question of revenue. I should like to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that this matter was recently discussed in the New Zealand Parliament, which found it necessary, in the King country and Cook Islands, to absolutely prohibit the use of intoxicating drinks except for medicinal purposes. Mr.
Seddon, in addressing himself to this question, said -
I say that the clause at all events should have met wilh the general support of the members of the House. Then, coming to the question with respect to the Cook Islands, I tell you now that unless you pass this clause it will be a bad day’s work that was done for the natives when those islands were taken over.
– To what clause did he refer?
– To a clause prohibiting the sale of liquor except for medicinal purposes.
– Will the honorable member be good enough to read the clause ?
– I cannot put my hand upon it just now, but I can assure the Minister that its effect is absolutely prohibitive. Continuing, Mr. Seddon is reported to have said -
There were, during the year 1901-2, 4,271- bottles of spirits consumed at the Cook Islands amongst less than eighty whites, including Chines: and women and children. The women and children number thirty. This, added to 11 respectable quantity of wine and beer, is a bad record. Where you have a state of things like this, wilh schooners coming about with grog, and going in and out amongst them, you are faced with great difficulties. We stopped that to some extent by making only one port of entry, thus gaining control, and we provide that no liquor shall be introduced except as specified here.
– But how is it specified ?
– It is specified upon the lines that I have indicated.
– Then another member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Fowlds, speaking upon the same question, said -
I admit it is not possible for any one to go there with the eyes and ears open and not come away with the knowledge of the fact that a good deal of illicit trade in liquor is going on. At the same time, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the picture that is frequently drawn of the condition of things in the King country - and especially if we compare it with other similar places, where licences exist - is over-drawn. I go to other places where there are a- number of natives, and where there is a licenced house, and almost any time I go to these places I see more evidence of native drunkenness and demoralization round about the licenced houses than I have ever been able to see on any visit to the King country. It is true that the police and the magistrate have done their duty as well as possible under the law they have to operate, but it has to be remembered we have never had applicable to the King country the same law that is applicable to districts where no licence has been carried in other parts of the colony.
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– From the New Zealand Ilansard. The same speaker proceeded -
The condition of things existing there will be very greatly improved by the adoption of the clauses in this Bill, or the provisions applicable in other districts, where no licence has been carried.
It will thus be seen that provision is made for supplying liquor only for medicinal purposes. In urging that we should not grant responsible government to the white residents of New Guinea, the Prime Minister declared- that their business interests might very possibly come into conflict with the interests of the native blacks. I quite agree with him, and I claim that it is apparent from this document, that the interests of the storekeepers of New Guinea are regarded as of infinitely more importance than are those of its black population.
– If the white residents could control New Guinea, the honorable member would not secure teetotalism there.
– Having very carefully examined this parliamentary paper, I say that the case for prohibition has been very much1 strengthened. It is patent thai the licensing conditions are being evaded, and that liquor is being retailed to the natives. I contend that we ought to discharge our duty to these people. Like the honorable member for Parramatta, I do not think that it matters very much whether we develop New Guinea or not. It is of importance, however, that we should not carry our vices to the natives of that Territory, and ruin them in the same way that we have ruined the Australian aborigines. We should absolutely prohibit the sale of intoxicants in the Possession except for medicinal purposes.
– I think that the Committee will sympathize with the object of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in submitting this amendment. But while sympathizing with him most cordially, I differ from him entirely as to the means by which he hopes to serve the cause of temperance. As the honorable member remarked, whilst presiding over the Department for External Affairs, it fell to my lot to institute some inquiries into this question. I did so with every desire to arrive at conclusions somewhat similar to his own. The results of that investigation are now in the hands of honorable members, and I am content to allow them to draw their Own conclusions from them. The overwhelming impression which that inquiry left upon my mind Ti in absolute conflict with the views of the honorable member. I think that he would have done well had he reminded the Committee of the area which is embraced by British New Guinea. One would suppose, from the manner in which he dealt with the matter, that he was alluding to a suburban district, or a small country area like the King Country in New Zealand, which, relatively speaking,’ is easily controlled by the authorities. But there is absolutely no parallel between the King Country and New Guinea, and very little parallel between that Territory and the Cook Islands. Honorable members should recollect that the largest of those islands is about twenty miles in circumference. They are situated to the north of New Zealand, in a tropical climate, and contain a population of between 5,000 and 6,000. There is only one port at which vessels can call, and consequently it is comparatively easy to deal with them. The contrast between the physical conditions which obtain there and those which prevail in New Guinea is absolute. Prohibition is simply impossible. Papua, it should not be. forgotten, comprises an area larger than the whole of Victoria. It is a country without railways, roads, or tracks. Paths only have been cut through the jungle. There are no beasts of burden there, and all the transport is undertaken, by the natives themselves. There are handfuls of white miners scattered over great areas, in the valleys, leading to German from British New Guinea. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports appears to be shocked by the number of licences issued in the Territory, and by the fact that no complete record is available at short notice. If he will remember that at every camp there is necessarily a store which is usually licensed, he will readily comprehend why, in a country as mountainous as Gippsland-
– It is much more mountainous.
– I admit that the mountains of New Guinea are of greater magnitude than are those of Gippsland. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports appreciated the difficulties of transit and the tardiness of communication, in New Guinea, he would understand why the officers of Port Moresby cannot keep themselves informed of every, little licence granted in other portions of that Territory.
– Those conditions should render illicit trading much more difficult.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. The honorable member for Kennedy a few moments ago drew a fair picture of the conditions of the white residents of New Guinea. He pointed out that they are scattered, living at great distances from settlements, and earning a precarious livelihood in a climate of which those who have not lived for a period in tropical countries, as I have done, both in the South’ Seas and elsewhere, can have very little conception.
– Governor McGregor takes my side of the question.
– I am sure he would not have supported the honorable member’s proposal.
– He has spoken very emphatically about the effect of drink upon both whites and natives.
– I have not said a word which would imply that I think the drinking of alcohol more necessary in the tropics than elsewhere. I know that there is greater temptation to drink there, but believe that it is even more injurious to do so than in temperate climates. Neither have I said a word in defence of any proposition which would make it easier for the natives to obtain alcohol. But if we recollect the circumstances of the country, we begin to comprehend why there are so many licences, why, when one expires, another is gt anted, and why they are given now to one store, and now to two. The honorable member appeared to think that this implies defective control. The control is not defective, but the best that can be obtained for the money that we spend. I am not going to dwell on the loss of £3,000 a year to the revenue, though that is a very large sum in New Guinea, and honorable members will pull a long face when thev are asked to vote an extra £5,000 to make up that loss and the additional expenditure involved in the attempt to put the honorable member’s proposal into force.
– Surely the honorable and learned member would not seriously advance that argument, when the existence of a whole race is in> question ?
– No; but it is preposterous to say that the existence of the race is in question. All the testimony is to the effect that, with the exception of a few
Papuans, who have been engaged in the pearling industry, the race has not acquired the taste for alcohol.
– Every missionary says that they are acquiring it.
– No. The Administrator, after having made inquiries, has assured us that he has not discovered a single authenticated case in which a native has been supplied with liquor without having been detected, and the white person responsible punished.
– How does he know that ?
– Because he is in touch with his officers and with the white traders, whose interest it is to keep liquor from the natives, not only because the penalty for supplying them with it is very heavy, but because the continuance of their trade depends upon keeping drink from the natives. I have conversed with representatives of all the missions in New Guinea, and their testimony is that they know of no abuse and no use of alcohol by the natives. They were unable to give me more than isolated cases in which the natives consume alcohol, and in every case those natives were pear] divers, or had been engaged in occupations outside New Guinea. I am with the honorable member in the object which he desires to secure ; but he does not realize the effect of his proposition even on the white population. The evils to which he has referred are neither numerous nor surprising, considering the circumstances in Papua. I regret to say that they occur too frequently in our own country, and any proposal he might make for curing them would have the sympathetic consideration of the Committee/
– One cannot play with fire without being burnt.
– I wish to know why the honorable member, and those who are supporting him, voted to enfranchise the white population of New Guinea, and now will not permit them to have a voice in this matter ?
– They would have a voice in the matter, if the honorable and learned member would enfranchise them.
– If the honorable member proposed a system of local option for the whites of New Guinea, I would support it, allowing a majority of them to decide whether any, and if so how many, licences should be issued. I would go further, and support a proposal to allow a sweeping majority there to absolutely prohibit the introduction of liquor. We are asked now to legislate for men who have no representation, here in regard to a matter upon which, sofar as they have expressed their opinions,’ they are all hostile to this proposal.
– W;e are not consulting them in regard to any other -matter.
– No; but it is inconsistent for those who voted- to enfranchise, them on matters of minor concern to despotically override their wishes.
– The honorable and learned member was opposed to enfranchising them.
– I think that it would be unprofitable to enfranchise them politically, at the present moment. The Bill under discussion is merely a tentative and temporary measure for continuing the existing form of Government. If the honorable member proposed to give local option to the white residents of New Guinea, or the right to prohibit the introduction of liquor into the Territory, I would vote with him. We should, however, hesitate to legislate for white men absolutely against their will.
– The expressions of opinion to which the honorable and learned member refers have been put forward by interested persons.
– That is an incorrect statement, which I challenge the honorable, member to substantiate. Every missionary and public officer from New Guinea whom I have questioned has told me that the miners to a man are opposed: to the prohibition which the honorable member desires.
– The missionaries are in favour of the amendment.
– The testimony of the missionaries is equally emphatic against this plan.
– Why does not the honorable and learned member adopt “their views in regard to a White Australia?
– That is quite an irrelevant question. I am taking this side with great reluctance, because both missionaries and miners unanimously declare against the proposed prohibition. So keenly do I feel in this matter that, if it be necessary to give the miners political enfranchisement to secure their control of the liquor trade, I would vote for it now. Enfranchisement must come, though I think that at the present time the number of whites in the Territory is not sufficient to justify us in providing for it. I go the whole length of saying that the white population of NewGuinea should have complete control of the liquor traffic there. I think that the bulk of them would be in favour of restrictions which would prevent all the evils to which the honorable member has alluded.
– The experience of” the world is that the only prevention is prohibition.
– We have not applied prohibition to our own people, and why, then, should we apply it to others who are not represented here, and who oppose it strongly ?
– Because this is a black man’s country, of which we have taken charge.
– It is very easy for us who live comfortably in this country to dictate to men who have no representation here, and whose wishes we disregard.
– We shall hav,e prohibition here in time.
– Yes, but with the consent of the people to whom it applies.
– We should have prohibition in New Guinea if we took the views of the majority of the population. It is a black man’s, and not a white man’s country.
– The task of governing New Guinea, which is already difficult enough, will be rendered infinitely harder if the whole white population become opposed to us on this question, and are encouraged by our action, not to obey the law, but to surreptitiously undermine its administration. It goes much against my grain to argue this side of the question. I wish that the facts were the other way.
– There at present exists a greater inducement to smuggling than would exist if the traffic were prohibited.
– I have put first the arguments which affect me least - the loss of revenue, and the difficulties of the whites. I agree that Papua is more a black man’s than a white man’s country, and that the black man is to be considered first and last. Fortunately, the natives are by nature practically models of sobriety, the exceptions being so rare that they are not worth mentioning. Our object is to protect them against the liquor habit. At the present time the penalty for supplying liquor to natives is very high, it being possible to impose a fine up to £200, with imprisonment up to six weeks. If the honorable member thinks that those penalties are not effective; the Committee may support him in imposing more effective penalties, and better supervision if it be needed.
– I hope that the Com’mittee will prohibit the introduction of liquor into New Guinea.
– If honorable members” do so they must take the responsibility. No more serious blow could be delivered at the sobriety of the Papuans. The miners, no doubt, consume, for their numbers, a great deal of liquor, which is a misfortune ; but it is certain that so long as there are’ miners in that country a large number of them will insist upon having alcohol. When they get gold, the first thing many buy will, be alcohol. The prohibition of gold mining would be more effective than the proposal of the honorable member. I would rather face that at once. How does he hope to prohibit the introduction of liquor into Papua ? He must, to make the prohibition effective, first guard the German and Dutch borders, because alcohol is imported into those possessions practically free of duty. Then he must watch a coastline of 3,600 miles, full of bays and estuaries.. Papua is a country larger than Victoria,, supervized by eight magistrates, who control immense trackless districts, and who in the discharge of their judicial duties are half their time away from the stations at, which, according to the honorable member’s scheme, alcohol is to be kept. It must either be left under lock and key, and inaccessible when required for medical purposes, or the key would Have to be left with some black assistant. In a country with a coast-line of 3,600 miles, and having only eight magistrates,, who spend half their time in travelling, how are we .to prevent smuggling, more especially when we remember the large supplies of cheap liquor that are available in the foreign settlements?
– How do we prevent smuggling in Papua at the present time?
– Because it is not to the interest of the traders at present to smuggle. They deal with recognised firms at recognised ports, and carry their goods along recognised tracks. At present it does not pay them to smuggle.
– Still these recognised routes might be used for an illicit trade.
– But they would not be employed for .the illicit trade. The traders would not take the usual routes under the prohibition proposed by the honorable member. They would take new paths from various inlets that pass through districts peopled by native tribes. The stricter our supervision, the higher would be the price of the alcohol to the men who had the gold-dust to pay for it, and the more they would pay for smuggled drink. In these circumstances, what would be the result of amending the clause as proposed? It would not only lead to the natives being set an example; which they have not hitherto had, of white men defying the law, but would make it worth the natives’ while to assist them to defy it.
– The whites, even now, defy the law in this respect.
– Only in isolated cases.
– It is said to be general.
– Only an individual here and there, who is not under control, defies the law at the present time. If we passed this amendment we should have practically the whole white community intriguing through the natives for surreptitious supplies of smuggled alcohol, and should run a greater risk of demoralizing the natives of Papua by the liquor traffic than by any other means we could adopt. My opinion on the subject is worth nothing. I am merely repeating the evidence which has been expressed to me by magistrates, missionaries, and representative miners in Papua. They al! tell the same story. They all admit that it would be absolutely impossible to prevent smuggling. We have not such a staff there, nor could we maintain such a staff as would be necessary to prevent the practice. The miners will have the liquor, and if we decide for prohibition, the only result will be to sacrifice revenue, and compel them to smuggle their supplies through the natives, instead of obtaining them, as at present, from the whites at Port Moresby. On behalf of the natives, and in their interests, I would emphasize the views that have been expressed by representative and independent men in Papua. I consulted no persons interested in the liquor traffic, but many others, including total abstainers, and in every case the verdict was that there was a much smaller risk to the natives now than would result from the encouraging of smuggling It must be remembered that in Papua there is a penalty for supplying any person who is not a European with alcohol. Alcohol must not be supplied, either to the natives of the country, or to any kanaka, Malay, or other native who. may be brought there.
– But they are supplied with liquor at the present time:
– No. A penalty of £200 and six weeks’ imprisonment may be imposed for supplying alcohol to persons other than Europeans.
– The reports show that the kanakas are continually being supplied with alcohol.
– That statement refers not to kanakas living on the island, but to those who fish off the coast and occasionally put in there. There are practically no kanakas resident in the Territory. This is not a question of having to weigh reason against reason, or fact against fact. The whole weight of testimony secured by me is that it would be impossible to carry out this proposal. That is why - although I am. in sympathy with the object which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has in view, and would naturally wish to be on the same side with him - I find it my painful duty to oppose his proposition. Having gone into the question thoroughly, I feel it my duty to speak as decisively as I now do against the amendment, and’ to wash my hands of all responsibility for what will be the consequences of carrying it.
– What responsibility ?
– The responsibility for the evil which will be done the natives by making them smugglers, and then victims of alcohol.
– No regulation against regulation.
– That, argument might be urged against every law in the Decalogue.
– My honorable friend cannot point to any country which is more unfortunately .situated in this respect than is Papua. I assure the honorable member that unless every missionary, every miner, and every official whose testimony I Have heard, be wrong, no one will more regret the course he has taken with the best of intentions than he will. I can understand my honorable friend’s devotion to his principle. With him it has been a life-long devotion, and in this State I have always been able to work side by side with him in giving effect to itBut I object to the despotic exercise of power to enforce a restriction which will not be obeyed, and which will be defeated by the white settlers at the expense of the native population, and at the cost of their moral ruin.
– The ho horable and learned member for Ballarat has dis- cussed what is really a temperance question with considerable warmth.
– I should rather be speaking on the other side if I could do so.
– I should prefer to see the honorable and learned member voting for the amendment. His arguments against it are that he fears, first of all, that if the sale of alcohol in British New Guinea were prohibited, there would be a considerable loss of revenue - -
– That is the slightest objection of all.
– Then the honorable and learned member says that if we do not allow alcohol to be sold there, smuggling will be sure to take place. Assuming that his argument be correct, the loss of revenue which this proposal would involve would amount to only £3,000 per annum. The honorable and learned member, however, has forgotten to put the other side of the question. He has quite overlooked the fact that as long as we continue to allow alcohol to be sold in the Territory, we shall be put to the expense of “ policing “ the islands, and maintaining gaols. We have heard a great deal to-night about the coloured races, and I think it is as well that we should pay some attention to the position of the white settlers in the Island. If the 600 white settlers consume the whole of the liquor which, according to the official returns, is annually introduced into the Territory, I can only say they are the thirstiest individuals of whom I have ever heard. We are told that the liquor is conveyed to the Territory in schooners, and I am inclined to think that the white settlers there must drink it in “ schooners.” In 1902-3, the 500 white residents of New Guinea consumed 1,600 gallons of whisky, 800 gallons of brandy, 140 gallons of gin, 600 gallons of rum, 300 gallons of bottled beer, 4,200 gallons of draught beer, 1,000 gallons of wine, 64 gallons of sparkling wine, and 290 gallons of other liquor. There is a fine liquor bill for 500 whites. If the people of Melbourne and suburbs had the same drinking capacity to the square inch as honorable members would have us believe the white residents in Papua possess, the shares in brewing companies would be of much greater value than they are at present.
– A number of non-resident traders obtain their- supplies of liquor at Port Moresby and other ports in Papua.
– When it suits the leader of the Opposition he describes Papua as a distant island which no one ever visits, but now he would have us believe that it is a place of call for thousands of people who require to replenish their stores of liquor. He will next tell us that it is’ in New Guinea that the Japanese procure their extra supplies. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that 100 traders called at New Guinea every year, and obtained supplies of liquor, that would bring up the number of white consumers to 600. Even though the average consumption were in that way reduced by one-sixth, I cannot conceive it to be possible for such a small number of persons to consume such a large quantity of liquor. The white population in Papua require a little protection at our hands. We should endeavour to break them off the excessive “drunk” in which they have apparently been indulging. I do not know whether their excessive drinking habits are due to the climate or to malaria, or whether they are accounted for by the fact that some of the more thirsty souls from Australia have gravitated there. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said he did not like the idea of doing anything that would be calculated to encourage smuggling or illicit distillation. But the arguments used by the honorable member might, with equal force, apply to the circumstances of every State in the Commonwealth. “I can assure the honorable and learned member that he would be astonished if he knew of the large quantities of illicitly distilled spirits which pass down the throats of liquor consumers in the Commonwealth. This is not so much due to dishonesty on the part of hotel-keepers as to malpractice by brewers and wine and spirit merchants. I am not a professional teetotaler in the sense that I belong to any temperance society, but I have from conviction been a total abstainer for many years. Still, I have a very good idea of the drinking capacity of the average man, and I feel convinced that the small number of white residents in Papua could not consume the quantity of liquor imported into that country. The only conclusion at which I can arrive is that a large proportion finds its way into the possession of the natives. You, Mr. Chairman, ardently supported the honorable member for Melbourne Ports when he made a proposal of this kind on a former occasion, and I heartily wish that you were in a position to assist us in fighting the opposition which is now being directed to the proposal before us. We all know that the population of many of the South Sea Islands has been decimated owing to the fact that liquor has been sold to the natives, and we should be careful not to do anything that would bring about similar results in New Guinea, or increase the difficulty of dealing with the native problem in that Territory. If we permit the natives to obtain liquor, and their taste for it is cultivated, we shall have great trouble with them, and will probably have to incur very heavy expense in maintaining order among them. We have, at various times, heard a great deal with reference to temperance reform, and I believe that if we could make our people more temperate we should effect a great improvement in their condition. The leader of the Opposition, and those honorable members who support him, profess to be very anxious to elevate the masses, and they could adopt no surer means of bringing about that result than that of making them more temperate. We now have presented to us an opportunity of experimenting in Papua, and if we adopt the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports we may be in a position, within a short time, to point to that Territory as a glorious’ example of the benefits of prohibition. I have much pleasure in supporting the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and I trust that the Committee will repeat the vote which it recorded upon this matter upon a “previous occasion. The only reason which has been urged against the adoption of the proposal is that it will be difficult to give effect to it. But I would point out that the same trouble, is experienced upon the mainland to-day. Smuggling is rife upon our coastline. Some honorable member with a fair degree of mathematical skill has calculated the consumption of whisky, brandy, and gin per head per annum amongst the population of British New Guinea. I do not .propose to quote .these figures, but they prove ‘ incontestably that the bulk of the liquor which is consumed there is not consumed bv the white population, but by the black. The present affords a splendid opportunity for carrying out an experiment in temperance reform, without any risk nf injury to more than a few people.
– I think that we may congratulate ourselves upon the brevity with which honorable members have addressed themselves, to this question. It is one -which ] has been before us for some years, and I propose to imitate the excellent examplewhich has. been set, by making only a very few remarks. I am as thoroughly in sympathy with the good object of the’ honorable member for Melbourne Ports as anybody can be ; but I confess that the weight of the evidence which has been collected from all sources is so overwhelming that I cannot see any possible- justification for the amendment which has been submitted. It is urged that the proposal is made in the interests of the natives themselves. That would be a most serious matter to consider if it were necessary to do so. But the evidence which has been obtained from every conceivable authority in New Guinea - I do not propose to detain the Committee by making a number of quotations - shows that there is absolutely no abuse in the consumption of intoxicants by the natives of New Guinea, except on the part of a few “pearl fishers. The great mass of the natives of the Territory indulge in no sort of traffic in spirits, and the laws which are in force in the Possession are absolutely effective. Testimony to that effect is borne by a cloud of witnesses, including missionaries and storekeepers. The District Committee of the London Missionary Society, at a special meeting, dated 16th March,” unanimously passed a series of resolutions for the consideration of the Commonwealth Government having reference to the liquor laws. These refer to the subject of prohibition, with the general principle of which many of the missionaries agree. I shall quote the final sentence of those resolutions. It reads thus -
We are resident in New Guinea solely for the well-being and good of the natives, and in their interests, and for their sakes, we wish to deprecate the passing of this law -
That is, the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports-
– No; it was a different proposal then.
– It was “practically the same proposal, because it is intended to supersede the local ordinance by an amendment in the direction of prohibition. The resolution says -
We are resident in New Guinea, solely for the well-being and good of the natives’, and in their interests, and for their sakes, we wish to depre-cate the passing of this law, which, we believe, would lead to the very evil we are all anxious to prevent.
I put against the views of the honorable member for Melbourne’ Ports, whose motives we all respect, but whose experience upon- the subject in this particular part of the world is limited, this recommendation of the missionaries in New Guinea. I say that this formal resolution, which was passed by the District Committee of the = London Missionary Society, and which is signed by Mr. W. G. Lawes, who has had thirty years’ experience of missionary work >in the Possession - especially when it is considered in conjunction with the testimony of other witnesses, which is set forth in this Parliamentary paper - shows that the dreadful evils which the honorable member anticipates do not exist ; that the liquor law is sufficiently effective to prevent- them ; and that the natives of New Guinea - like most other members of the aboriginal races - do not seem to possess any taste for intoxicants.
– They will soon acquire it.
– It is a taste that can~ be acquired very suddenly, even by white people. In support of the views which are entertained by the District Committee of the London Missionary Society, I shall quote only two witnesses. One .of these is Mr. Lawes, who is perhaps one of the most eminent authorities in New Guinea, where he has been located as a missionary for thirty years. He says that the present law is good, that no liquor is sold to natives under it, and that none is consumed by natives at the present time.
– Yet in the same report there is a list of fines imposed for breaches of the law.
– Of course, Mr. Lawes does not pretend to be omniscient, but that is the result of his thirty years experience. One of the Roman Catholic missionaries, who has been in New Guinea for ten years, declares that there is no such thing as the sale of liquor to the natives. He says -
The laws of the Possession dealing with the sale of alcoholic liquors generally, have been carefully observed ; and especially concerning the sale to the natives, I do not remember any example of violations of the same prohibition, at least in our district at Mekeo.
That gentleman says that to his knowledge there is no sale of liquor to the natives, and that the law in this respect has been exactly observed. He goes on to say -
I know not of a single case of a white man giving alcoholic liquor to natives, except once or twice to a dying man. In this district the natives do not consume any alcohol.
That sort of testimony runs right through the evidence, and it supports the recommendations of the Lieutenant-Governor and his predecessor,- and- also those of the London Missionary Society’s committee.
– Who. consumes all the liquor?
– If there are white people about, especially in a country of this sort, that would account for the enormous consumption of liquor. The honorable member does nol suppose that the missionaries are making false statements in order to conceal a traffic which is destructive to the bodies and souls of the New Guinea natives? That is a spirit of teetotal intemperance with which I have no sympathy.
– The right honorable gen’tleman would not follow the missionaries’ advice in the matter of a White Australia?
– This is a question of fact. The missionaries are asked if this poison is destroying the New Guinea blacks, and the answer is that the natives do not drink - that there is no sale of liquor to them. Surely the honorable member has some respect for the veracity of the men whose names I have mentioned, although his own views may not be helped by the testimony. The plain English of the matter is that some of our friends desire to make an experiment of despotism and tyranny over their white fellow-subjects of the King in New Guinea - to bring about a state of tilings which does not exist in any part of the British Empire to-day. I have no sympathy with such a desire.
– What about Clutha, in New Zealand ?
– That is local option ; give the New Guinea people local option, and let them act for themselves.
– I have never believed in the right of any number of people to decide whether a man shall or shall not drink. We should not like to give any people such a power over ourselves. However, the object in view is such a noble one that we can have no impatience with temperance advocates. Every one must have the greatest admiration for the good results which have attended the patriotic labours of the temperance bodies. No one feels more keenly that I do the great services those bodies have rendered to humanity. But in dealing with this particular position, we must follow the lines of policy, so far as the whites of New Guinea are concerned, that we follow for ourselves. We must not interfere with personal liberty, except under the proper exercise of political power. What is suggested is a despotic exercise of power in regard to the private wants of individuals, and that is a power which no democratic Parliament should exercise over white men, or over black men for that matter.
– What about the matter of the franchise which was mentioned just now ?
– In the matter of the personal consumption of a- liquid, the rights of men ought to be considered as well as the rights of Parliament. The proposal, in my opinion, interferes with the right of a man to his own liberty. I admit there are numbers who do not agree with me, and who think that the extent and the importance of the good achieved warrants an invasion of liberty. But my point is that we have taken no such step in regard to Australia, and we have no right to perform; this heroic experiment on a few whites in New Guinea, simply because we happen to have the power. Why not go a little further, and create a dietary scale or a system of healthy clothing?
– Or insist on vaccination ?
– All sorts of laws of the kind might be taken in hand. As honorable members know, members of the Government have previously voted on this question as private members, and, of course, they must be allowed on this . occasion to vote as they did when acting as individuals. I would not ask any colleague of mine, who had voted in accordance with his convictions as a private member, to so far sacrifice his principles as to now vote as I do. Each member of the Ministry will vote as he previously voted. We are giving to this dependency legislative and administrative power, and I think we may safely leave this matter to the authorities there. Accor ling to the reports and evidence, the Local management of the liquor traffic has worked for good. It appears that there has been practically no abuse of the traffic in reg;ird to the natives, and that is the main point. The fact that the administration of the law has proved good in its effects is a strong practical reason for leaving this matter to the bodies we have constituted for dealing with the internal affairs of the dependency
– I do not desire to delay the Committee, because, in the first place, it seems to me that the arguments for the side on which I intend to vote have been put by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in as clear and summary a manner as is possible. The honorable and learned member has had a longer experience in office than have most of us in the Cham ber, and, therefore, has had an opportunity to make himself acquainted with the official facts to a greater extent than has the present Prime Minister or other honorable members. I think that the honorable and learned .member put the arguments against this proposition well j and all I desire to do is to emphasize the vote I gave on the last occasion. I then entered somewhat lengthily into the subject, and expressed the opinion that apart altogether from the desirability or otherwise of enforcing prohibition - especially in a territory such as New Guim a, with a large black population - there is. the absolute certainty, if we are to judge by results of similar legislation elsewhere, that smuggling would be encouraged to such an extent that nothing effective in the way of prohibition could be accomplished. We all have the utmost anxiety that the natives shall riot be in any way deteriorated by the consumption of liquor. It is a duty we owe to the natives not to subject them to temptation, but, at the same time,, we haveto recognise that in New Guinea we have a totally new or different ‘ set of circumstances, compared with those which exist upon the mainland of Australia. There we have a long coast-line to begirt with. We have the proximity of the Dutch and German territories,’ and we have islands within a very short distance. Take our own State of Queensland, where liquor is obtainable in any quantity, and can be conveyed across to British New Guinea in a. few hours. Is it likely that, when men are anxious for liquor, and when there are opportunities of obtaining it, they will foregoits use? A premium will be put upon smuggling, and in a district like that, wherethere are very few whites, it is almost impossible to prevent it. In regard to any’ proposal such as the prohibition of the saleof liquor, it is almost impossible, it seemsto me, even in highly civilized communities, and with all the forces of the Government, and with the assistance of the’ police, anc? everything of that kind, to enforce it satisfactorily, unless you have public opinionwith you. In New Guinea what public sentiment there is is distinctly against the proposal to enforce prohibition. The .whitepeople have declared against the idea. Leaving the officials out of the account, becausethey are bound by their oaths to administer their offices, the bulk of the white population will see no moral offence whatever in getting liquor if they can ; and, naturally, they will get it under existing conditions. I think a very grave error will be permitted if Parliament passes a law as proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I can sympathize with the object he has in view, and, if anything can be done to safeguard the interests of the black population against intoxicating liquors, I shall be quite prepared to help to the fullest degree. But I see no hope of that being done effectively by the methods proposed. Indeed, I rather think they will have the opposite effect, and that injury rather than good will result from the present proposal.
– For once I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and I certainly do not share the pessimistic views which have been expressed by the honorable members who have opposed this proposal. In regard to the question of smuggling, upon which so much stress has been laid, I would point out that that is a risk which will have to be taken in any case. As a matter of fact, smuggling now goes on to a very large extent, and it will go on under any system. As to the Prime Minister’s argument, based upon the report which he read, I wish to point out that, so far from those arguments appearing to me to be against prohibition, they seem to be in favour of it, because they show that there will be a minimum amount of opposition to the principle owing to the alleged abstemiousness of the white population. What we need to do is not to wait until these evils arise, and then attack them, but to prevent them from arising if we possibly can. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that this is a black man’s question. It certainly is. It is the native population that we require to protect in a special degree. The argument that they are not addicted to the use of alcoholic stimulants at present, to my mind, ought not to be used as it has been employed as a reason for putting temptation in their way. The black races are naturally abstemious, although they acquire the drinking habit from the white population very readily- We need to place as many obstacles as possible in the way of their securing drink. The best thing we can do is to prohibit the introduction of alcoholic stimulants to New Guinea. The same applies to the opium traffic. This policy will afford us an opportunity to watch the practical results of prohibition. The very fact that the climate of British New Guinea is tropical is an argument for prohibition, because every one knows that a tropical climate is disastrous to those who are in the habit of using alcohol to any extent. Now that we have an opportunity to prohibit the use of alcohol in British New Guinea, we should avail ourselves of it. It is very desirable to make the experiment. When the white population increases, if that experiment is not successful, they will be able to make an effective demand for the repeal of the law. As against the reports which have been quoted by the Prime Minister, other reports of a totally different character might be mentioned. I do not intend to go into these in extenso, but I will read an extract from one report, which is typical of many. The Rev. E. Pryce Jones, who has hadfive years’ experience as a missionary, says -
The present law is too lax in the prosecution of drunken kanakas, and such like
Evidently kanakas are able to get intoxicants now.
– They come from the fishing boats.
These men have native wives, and in every way are identified with native life, and the danger of the spread of drinking habits among the Papuans is here. Also the kanaka etiquette, which forbids the refusal to share with their fellows, is a cause of the others obtaining drink.
Then in regard to prohibition, this gentle man says -
The result of prohibition will be to decrease the revenue, which, in view of the grave dangers of drink, is of little consequence.
I share that view. The loss of revenue is of very little importance in the light of the evils against which we have to guard.
For medical purposes prohibition does not touch alcohol. The use of alcoholic drink as a beverage in hospitals depends on the principle, favorable or otherwise, of the medical officer in charge.
The proposed amendment intends to go beyond the medical officer, and to allow other properly appointed persons to grant permission for the use of alcohol. That would overcome the difficulty that has been mentioned about obtaining medical sanction in every case owing to there being only two medical practitioners in the Territory.
Prohibition will create a sense of injustice in the minds of those who feel alcohol to be a necessity of their life, even as opium, eaters will, but it will be an undoubted blessing to them notwithstanding. This does not refer to the miners only, but to many others who are not so employed, who are evidently, destroying themselves by excess.
Prohibition would place one more difficulty in the way of getting alcohol.
The more difficulties are placed in the way of getting it the better it will be for the population, whether white or black -
In order to carry out such a law, it would be necessary to see that the Government officials who would have to administer the law were sympathetic with its principles. Those officials, who may themselves be habitual inebriates, could hardly be expected to be zealous in the administration of such a law. It would be necessary also, I think, to extend the law to Torres Straits and Northern Queensland. It would be necessary to increase the staff of sympathetic Government magistrates, and, having done this, experiment alone would prove effectual or otherwise.
There would be a slight lessening of revenue as a result of its adoption.
The tendency would be to improve, possibly the morals, really the health, of the excessive drinker.
I have set forward the views of these missionaries in opposition to the opinions expressed by admittedly equally good authorities on the other side. The subject has exercised the minds of a very large body of my constituents, and in supporting the amendment I am endeavouring to give effect, not only to their opinion, but also to the pledges which T gave during my recent electoral campaign.
– As we are to have an early sitting to-morrow, and a number of honorable members wish’ to speak on this subject, I shall not ask the Committee to deal with the amendment to-night.
Coaling of Warships. - Report of the General Officer Commanding on Defence Proposals.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a matter of some importance to a section of the people of Fremantle. Honorable members may have read a few days ago press reports of a disturbance which occurred at that port in connexion with the visit of the flagship of the Australian Squadron. It was only by the exercise of great care by. the leaders of the Lumpers’ Union there that a serious strike was averted. The facts are these: The Euryalus, under Vice-Admiral Fanshaw visited the port of Fremantle, and was to take some 2,000 tons of coal from the Adelaide Steam-ship Company’s Winfield, which was brought there for the purpose. Eighty or a hundred of the lumpers of the port were engaged by the foreman of that company to transfer the coal from the Winfield to the Euryalus, and having that engagement they refused other work. On presenting themselves at the appointed time, however, they were surprised to learn that the Admiral had issued orders that his bluejackets were to do the work. If that has been the practice at other Australian ports, it is not generally known. I do not say that the Admiral has not the right to issue such an order, though there is a difference between an ordinary coaling in Sydney Harbor and a coaling at a port like Fremantle. If, however, there is any general rule, it should be made known, so that there may be no repetition of the occurrence of which I complain. When interviewed by a press reporter, the Vice-Admiral made sarcastic remarks about his own men looking on while a few gentlemen smoked their pipes and passed the coal in deliberately. I do not think that he need have gone out of his way to make reflections on the members of the Fremantle Lumpers’ Union. I am aware that the Squadron is not under our direct control ; but, seeing that we pay a subsidy of ^200,000 a year towards its upkeep-
– And get value for the money.
– I do not dispute that. I wish, however, to avoid a repetition of what might lead to serious disturbances, and, therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to take steps to ascertain why this order was given, and whether there is any rule in connexion with the matter. If there is such a rule it should be made widely known. It might also be suggested to the Vice-Admiral that, as it has been the practice in Australian ports for shore labour to be employed in the transfer of cargoes from ship to wharf, and from ship to ship, he might adopt a similar practice in connexion with the loading of vessels of war.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether he is agreeable that the report of the General Officer Commanding on the defence proposals of .the Government should be printed ? It is very inconvenient that there should be only one copy of the report for honorable members to refer to. I should like to have a copy for my1 own use, that I might be able to read it carefully, and I know that some other honorable members desire it also. I have no wish to press the matter, but if there is no objection, I should1 be very much obliged if the report could be printed.
– I have not previously suggested that the report in question should be printed, but knowing that the right honorable member for Swan and other honorable members desire to be supplied with copies of it, I shall make such arrangements as may be necessary to provide copies of the report without incurring unnecessary expense.
– I really do not feel on terms of sufficient intimacy with the Admiral in command of the Squadron, either in my official or private capacity, to make all the suggestions to him which the honororable member for Fremantle has submitted. I do not claim the right to communicate with the Admiral on any of the subjects mentioned. I would suggest that if any inconvenience is being caused to any body of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their honorable avocations, it might occur to themselves to ascertain what the practice in these matters is to be.
– Surely it is the place of the Government to take action in such a matter ?
– It is entirely a business matter between business members of the community and the Admiral commanding the Squadron, and I cannot consent to become the intermediary between him and them. I do not propose to interfere in any matter in connexion with which I have not some authority. There are a number of other persons who might make the representations to which the honorable member has referred. These are not matters which concern the Federal Government in any sense. The question of the coal supply at any port, or the labour used in conveying coal from one port to another, is not one which concerns the Federal Government.
– The Squadron is engaged by the Federal Government.
– It is a- very great mistake to say that the Squadron is engaged by the Federal Government. My honorable friend should remember that the Federal Government does not secure control of His Majesty’s Fleets by the payment of a subsidy of , £200,000 a year.
– I am not saying that they do.
– Then why does the honorable member use the word “ control “ ?
– I said that we had no control over the Squadron.
– I am ready at all times to do anything in reason, but I really feel that these are representations which I should not be asked to make. The business authorities of the port could make them very much better. The Coal Lumpers’ Union is a very influential businesslike body, having branches in all’ the ports of Australia, and I am sure that in connexion with any matter concerning their own business the Admiral commanding the Squadron would be very ready to give them the fullest information, in order that they might not be exposedto any inconvenience in the future.
– Is . not the matter one of public importance?
– They would get no better information if I were to take it up. Their right to a courteous consideration of a matter affecting their own business interests will be fully recognised by’the officer in command of the Squadron, and he will give them all the information they require. They have not asked me to represent them in any way, and the fact that the honorable member has askedme to interfere in the matter does not make it my business to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative
House adjourned at 11. 14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041103_reps_2_23/>.