2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. LEE presented a petition from the Archbishop of Sydney praying the House to insert in the Papua Bill a clause prohibiting the importation and sale of intoxicating drinks for beverage purposes into New Guinea.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has arrived at any decision with regard to the holding of Revision Courts prior to arranging for a redistribution! of seats?
– I have already expressed my desire that where expenditure, as in connexion with the matter referred to by the honorable member, is likely to be considerable, every effort should be made to prevent it from becoming excessive. When the matter of holding Revision Courts was recently debated, a number of honorable members expressed the view that a redistribution scheme could not be accepted, unless the new rolls were printed, whilst some honorable members appeared to iii ink that revised rolls were necessary. I regard a redistribution of seats as vital, and as, if the position indicated were maintained by honorable members, the expense of holding Revision Courts and reprinting the rolls would have to be incurred sooner or later I have since been considering whether the desires of honorable members can be met, at a reduced cost. I have not yet finally considered the matter; but I shall be able, in the course of a day or two, to inform the House of the determination arrived at.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question respecting the New Hebrides. From statements published in this morning’s newspapers it would appear that the Government have made representations to the Imperial authorities with regard to promoting settlement in the New Hebrides, and increasing trading facilities between Australia and those islands,, and that, as a result, some action has been taken. I wish to know whether the Prime Minister has any information beyond that published in the press.
– As the honorable member must know, the difficulties in the New Hebrides fall more particularly within the sphere of diplomacy between the Governments of Great Britain and France. So far as the Australian Governments are concerned - and I speak for all those which have held office since Federa tion was established - there has been a uniform desire to bring the utmost possible pressure to bear upon the Imperial Government to alleviate the most unsatisfactory conditions which undoubtedly prevail in this group of the South Sea Islands. I am sorry to say that we have not yet received any definite or satisfactory information on the subject. The difficulty which seems to be experienced by the two Governments is evidenced by the fact that although they have been able to satisfactorily settle all the old and almost inveterate disputes which have existed for the last two or three hundred years between the two Powers, they have not, in reference to this particular question, been fortunate enough to arrive at a similar agreement: A mutual arrangement has, however, been made that one of the most serious troubles, namely, that with reference to the tenure of land in the New Hebrides, shall be dealt with by a joint Commission. We have been pressing upon the Imperial Government the very great importance of that matter also, expressing the earnest desire that the Commission should be appointed with the least possible delay, and we have received information through the Governor-General, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which satisfies us that the Imperial Government’ are using every possible effort to bring about the early establishment of that Court of Inquiry.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that a Bill intituled the Centennial Park Sale Act 1904, has lately been passed through the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and will be submitted for the concurrence of t’he Legislative Council to-day, and that the area proposed to be sold under the authority of this Bill includes the alternative barrack site called the Centennial Park site, regarding which the Commonwealth Government has been in communication with’ the Government of New South Wales. If so, will he take immediate steps to ask the Premier of New South Wales to insure that the passing of the Bill shall not prevent the Commonwealth from at any future time taking over the proposed site in lieu of that now occupied by the Victoria Barracks?
– Until the honorable member informed me of the fact I was not aware that the Bill to which ‘he referred affected the question of the alternative site proposed for the Victoria Barracks in Sydney. But now that my attention has been drawn to the matter, I shall ask the Prime Minister to communicate with the Premier of New South Wales to-day, and endeavour to arrange to have the matter stayed for a sufficient time to allow of the completion of the investigations now proceeding on behalf of the Defence Department with reference to the acquisition of the Park site in lieu of that at present occupied.
Mr. REID laid upon the table the following paper : -
Banking returns of the various States of the Commonwealth and of New’ Zealand for the years 1901, 1902, and 1903.
– I desire to know from the Minister of Home Affairs when tenders will be called for the proposed additions to the post-office at Mount Gambier?
– Plans for the proposed additions have been adopted, after reconsideration, caused by certain objections raised to the first proposal. Instructions have been given that tenders shall be called at the earliest possible moment, and as soon as the specifications are ready that course will be adopted.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is he yet in a position to inform this House whether it is correct, as stated by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Robinson), that successful tenderers not resident in Australia have not to pay Customs duties on goods used in carrying out their contracts, while duty is paid on the goods used in a like manner by Australian successful tenderers for Commonwealth contracts?
– The . answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General has now received replies from all the States respecting this matter, and proposes to have a statement prepared dealing with the whole subject, which he will cause to be laid on the table for the information of honorable members.
– On behalf of the honorable and learned member for Indi, I would ask that the following question, standing in his name, be postponed until to-morrow : -
– I should like to mention that I am in a position to give the House some information with reference to the question, and I should not wish to defer my statement until to-morrow, merely because of the absence of the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– The honorable and learned member desires that the question be postponed.
– I would suggest that the questions upon notice should be proceeded with in the ordinary way. If, when the questions have been disposed of, the Prime Minister desires to make a statement of the nature he has indicated, I am sure that honorable members will be pleased to listen to him.
– In asking the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What publications are proposed to be published by the Patent Office, and when, at’ what prices and intervals, and with what contents?
I need not remind him that in the United States of America, which has the model patent office in the world, the publications are manifold, frequent, and extremely cheap. We need not look further than the neighbouring colony of New Zealand, where two sets of publications can be obtained at the small cost of 1 OS. annually. If the Commonwealth Patent Office is to fulfil’ its purpose, information regarding the procedure from time to time in regard to new applications and patents granted should be easily accessible all over Australia. Under these circumstances, I venture to press the question.
– I have received the following reply from the Patents Office: -
It is the intention to publish, for the information of the public and inventors, full and complete information relating to proceedings in the Patent Office. The first work to be produced will be_ a Concordance Index of Inventions patented in the States. This is in itself a work of very considerable magnitude, and will take some time to execute. The subject-matter indexes, when taken over, were in a very faulty condition, a fact well known - see Mr. Deakin’s statements relating thereto in Hansard, pages 5507 ‘and 5508- and for a period of several years in some States- existed in manuscript only.’ Details of price’s, intervals, and contents of publications cannot be definitely stated at present. As the cost of printing will be very heavy, it is considered necessary that, with a view to avoid undue expense, the matter for printing should be carefully prepared in the first instance.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In reference to the letter of Sergeant J. F. Simmons, late 3rd N.S.W. Mounted Rifles, who fought to save South Africa for the British rule in the recent war, in the London Daily Chronicle of the 19th October -
Will he inquire from the Governments of Natal and Cape Colony why this Australian soldier was refused a landing a’t Durban and Capetown ?
Is it true that these South African colonies refuse to allow Australian white men to land unless they have , £20 in their possession?
Will he protest, on behalf of all Australians, against the continued existence of a law which permits pauper Chinese to be received into those colonies, but will not allow Australians under no contract, and of good character, to land?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
No complaint has been made to me on behalf of the gentleman named, nor have I seen the letter which the honorable gentleman says was published in the London Daily Chronicle of the 19th ultimo. I think, under the circumstances, I Can scarcely be expected to take the action suggested by questions 1 and 3.
As to 2, I am not aware; but I do happen to know that the laws of the Cape Colony specially exempt from the immigration restrictions persons who have served in any of His Majesty’s Volunteer Forces in South Africa who have received good discharges.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is proposed to prosecute certain fish importers of Melbourne for evading the payment of the duty on New Zealand fish ?
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
If, in view of his announcement that he has been unable to enter into any contracts with the present oversea mail companies, he will direct that, so soon as the new poundage arrangements are resorted to, the dates of arrival of mails in London will be regularly published, in order that the time occupied in their conveyance may be publicly known?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Under an existing arrangement, the date of the arrival of mails in London is telegraphed to each State, and is available for publication. This will be extended to the arrival of any mails sent to London under a poundage system, and the dates of the arrival will be furnished to the newspapers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If correct, will the Prime Minister inform the House as to what are the terms and conditions of the arrangement as to -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The British Government agrees to coin the silver required by the Commonwealth, and charge for the coins supplied the actual cost thereof instead of the face value as at present. The expense of making good the depreciation occasioned by the wear and tear of the coin so issued will be borne by the Commonwealth. 3 and 4. The Commonwealth is to bear the expense of replacing all worn gold coins of future issues by Australian mints.
– Wherever they are used?
– I am afraid it would be impossible to differentiate between the Australian coins which are, and those which are not, used in Australia, as they travel all round the world. It is very difficult to draw a distinction of that sort. I may say, however, that the arrangement to which the Imperial Government have agreed will result in a considerable profit to the Commonwealth; because, instead of charging Australia the face value of the silver coins as has been the case heretofore, they will debit us with the actual cost only. As honorable members are aware, the difference- between the face value of silver and its actual value is very considerable, and under this arrangement, the Commonwealth will receive the benefit of that difference. The reply to question No. 5 is -
All correspondence, reports,and other papers relating to this matter will be laid on the Library table.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will state in what order the Government propose to proceed with the public business.
– Perhaps I may be allowed to take advantage of this opportunity to make a statement to the House. As honorable members are aware, great anxiety has been exhibited in some quarters regarding the appointment of the Tariff Commission. I wish to say that the Government, so far from desiring to make those appointments during the recess, have been devoting their special attention to the subject, and I am very sanguine that I shall be able to make an announcement to t’he House as to the personnel of the Commission upon Tuesday next. That announcement will probably take the form of a Gazette, published upon that date. In reply to the question of the leader of the Opposition, I do not wis’h to obstruct the very important business which we shall enter upon today in reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but my attention has been called by the representative of the Government in the Senate to the fact that that Chamber does not desire to suffer from any lack of work. I think honorable members will admit that it ‘has undergone that experience too frequently during the current session, and I should, therefore, be very glad if the House would co-operate with the Government in an attempt to avoid its repetition, by allowing me, first, to state our attitude in Committee in reference to the Senate’s amendments upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Time could then be afforded honorable members to consider my statement, and the discussion of the measure could be resumed tomorrow. In the interval, we might arrange to send the Papua Bill’ to the Senate. The last stage in the consideration of that measure has now been reached, the only proposal remaining to be dealt with being the new clause submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I should very much like to forward that Bill to the Senate, and - if we have time to finish it - the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. We could then resume the discussion upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill tomorrow, and continue its consideration until it is disposed of.
– Why, that will occupy six weeks.
– Oh, no.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 - “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters -
arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employees on the other part, or
certified by the Registrar as proper in the public interest to be dealt with by the Court - and extending beyond the limits of any one State, including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways, or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State; but it does not include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit;
Senate’s amendment - Leave out “but it does not include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit.”
– With the consent of the Committee, I should like to make a general statement in reference to the whole of the amendments which have been inserted in this Bill by the Senate.
– Will honorable members be afforded an opportunity of discussing the matter generally ?
– Yes. My object in making this statement is that honorable members shall be afforded the same amount of latitude. In the first place, I think that I represent not only the views of every member of the Government, but also of the vast majority of this Committee, when I say that there is an earnest desire that the arduous and protracted labours which have been devoted to this highly difficult and important subject during the present session shall not be thrown away. I know that there are one or two honorable members who, in their antagonism to the main principles of this Bill, go so far as to openly declare their readiness to vote this way or that way in order to defeat it. That is a matter for which they must accept full responsibility. But I feel perfectly sure that there are very few honorable members who take up that position. I am thoroughly convinced that upon both sides of the House there is an overwhelming majority of honorable members who honestly desire to pass a measure of :his kind into law. I trust that there will be no misapprehension upon that point either inside the House or outside of its walls. It is quite true that there have been -keen differences of opinion upon some very important provisions of this measure, but when we consider the novel and difficult problems with which it deals, I do not think, the fact that there have been such difficulties can excite surprise. I believe that these difficulties of opinion have been honestly fought out on the part of a very large number of honorable members of this Chamber. I do not think a better proof of that fact can be found than is afforded by the circumstance that the members of the Senate - most of them highly competent to judge of the merits of a measure of this character, both from practical and general experience - in spite of the number of large questions of great novelty and difficulty which are involved in legislation of this nature, have found - owing to the thorough revision of the Bill by the House - it necessary to make only four amendments in the whole measure. I think that I may fairly give both Houses credit for having clone their work well when their labours have been attended by the striking result that there are only four differences of opinion existing between a majority of the members of each Chamber. It shows that the conflict of opinion by which the consideration of the Bill has been marked, and the close examination given to it from its introduction to its latest stage, have produced a measure about which there are singularly few differences of opinion on the part of the two Houses.
– They are very important differences.
– No one underrates their importance. I may also be allowed to make the further remark of a preliminary nature that, so far as this matter is concerned, it has never been a question of the Senate or of the House of Representatives toeing in antagonism to the principle involved. It has never been a case of that sort. The great majority of the members of another place, like the great majority of honorable members of this House, have had a most earnest and sincere desire to see some measure of this kind passed into law. The honorable member is perfectly correct in saying that the differences of opinion disclosed by the amendments made by another place are very important. With one exception, they certainly are. But there is one of these amendment which the Government see no difficulty in accepting. I do not know that it would have any very serious operation.
– That is why the Government are prepared to accept it.
– The fact that it would have no very serious operation shows that .there could not be much objection to it on the part of any one. Only an honorable member who is of a peculiarity pugnacious disposition and does not fully realize the value of time - and especially the time of the Parliament - would raise serious objection to matters of no moment. I have no sort of objection to the amendment to which I have referred.
– What is the amendment?
– It is amendment No. 4 in the schedule.
– A farce.
– I do not understand the honorable member. I am speaking of an amendment made by another place, and I certainly do not accuse the Senate of perpetrating a farce by making the amendment in question. I think that the remark made by the honorable member constitutes a reflection, which is entirely undeserved, upon the Senate.
– They would not do it willingly.
– The Government, at all events, are prepared to accept a proposal when it is made in an honest spirit, and from a desire to place a particular part of the Bill upon an equitable footing.
– I say that it is a farce for the Government to accept only that amendment.
– I am glad that the honorable members has profited by the instruction he has just received. These little whispers often produce sensible results in the most unexpected quarters.
– I am following the right honorable member’s example.
– I trust that the honorable member will not take up too much time in this way. He occupies quite sufficient time when he is inflicting suffering upon us, without giving us instalments of the cause of that suffering at an unseasonable time.
– Will the right honorable member read the amendment which the Government are prepared to accept? I do not think the schedule is available.
– I refer to the fourth amendment in the schedule, which has been distributed. It applies to employers’ organizations, in effect, the principle which applies to industrial organizations having a political character.
– Would the right honorable member be in favour of applying the principle to an individual employer?
– If the honorable member will allow me I would remind him that the most important duty I have at present to discharge is that of indicating the attitude of the Government with reference to the amendments made by another place. With experience I am sure the honorable .member will realize that when a Minister is making a statement upon definite propositions of an important character, it is most inconvenient for , him to be led away to consider side issues that are not before the Committee. At present I am making only a general statement; but I shall be glad later on to answer any question with reference to any matter bearing upon the four amendments which have been made by another place. The Government do not propose to raise any opposition to the acceptance of the fourth amendment. Coming to the others, I take the first and second - I refer to the amendment relating to persons engaged in agricultural and other rural pursuits, and that relating to persons engaged in domestic service - as practically raising the same question. In considering these proposals it is necessary that I should direct the attention of the Committee to what seems to me to be the main scope of a measure of this kind. I suppose there is no man who carries his desire for such legislation so far as to conceive it possible for a Conciliation and Arbitration Court to settle all the disputes which occur between individual workers and individual employers.
– It has to deal with organizations.
– Exactly. I was about to refer to .that point. This Bill, so far from aiming at a sort of benevolent despotism, which would enable every man working for another, or every employer having an individual in his service, to bring his individual grievance before the Court, has a totally different object. No person is attempting to create what I should call a domestic jurisdiction of that kind. No Court on earth, could grapple with the individual disputes of persons throughout the whole range of industrial employment. The main object, and the main effort, of this new departure, as I understand it - and even in. this aspect I have looked upon the proposal as one involving many difficulties - is to deal with organized bodies, both of employers and workers, and especially with bodies relating to industries where the conditions are uniform, or approach uniformity. -We can neve; forget that we are dealing with the industrial life and effort of a comparatively small number of human beings, scattered over a continent embracing an area of 3,000,000 square miles. Any attempt to follow individual difficulties in industries round the whole continent would commend itself only to some person not quite in possession of his faculties. From the very first mention of a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act, I think that every one, both in the Conventions and out of them, has kept steadily in mind the view that it would apply to large bodies, the conditions of whose employment are practically the same throughout the States - that it would apply to such disputes as those affecting persons engaged’ in maritime pursuits’, shearers-
– And upon the railways.
– This Bill, as it is, will relate to disputes affecting railway employes. It will also affect disputes concerning large industries, such as the iron trades, which are . of very great importance, and in which the conditions of employment are very much the same right throughout the Commonwealth. But the view which the Government take with reference to the inclusion of persons working in agricultural industries is to be expressed under one or two very simple heads. In the first place, we consider - and in so considering we remember the vast variety of conditions which prevail owing to climate, owing to seasons, owing to the varying capacities of the soil - the infinite variety of conditions affecting labour and employment, and remuneration, which are presented by an attempt to bring persons engaged in the rural industries of Australia under the scope of a measure of this kind.
– But they are human beings are they not?
– They are; and so are clerks, but they are not included in this Bill.
– They are not excluded.
– There are large bodies of persons for whom this Bill was professedly never intended from the first. The term “ industrial organizations “ shows that.
– Not as persons, but they may be included as associations.
– I hope that I shall not have to take up time by admitting that they are human beings ; but I wish to point out that the Arbitration Court, in our opinion, will have a sufficiently, formidable task, even to deal with these highly-organized industries, whose conditions of employment are practically the same all over the Commonwealth, without entering upon an attempt to deal with difficulties of the character to which I have referred. That is one observation which I have to make. The second observation which I have to make is this : There have been Arbitration Acts in force, as we know, in various parts of Australia - in New South Wales, not so long in Western Australia, but for a good many years, and in New Zealand.
– Longer in Western Australia.
– Is that so? I thought the Western Australian Act was more recent. Then I understand that the Western Australian Act has been in existence even longer than the New South Wales Act?
– I think so.
– So that we have the fact that Compulsory Arbitration Acts have been in force in New Zealand, Western Australia, and New South Wales for some . years past. So far as I know, there is not a single union in existence in connexion with these rural industries throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I believe that is an accurate statement. No union of any kind has been organized in New Zealand which embraces persons who come under the definition of persons employed in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.
– They are not- shut out by the States Acts.
– That is a question upon which even lawyers may differ.
– There is no difference of opinion about it.
– I only say - without forgetting that lawyers can differ about any thing - that, so far as the structure of the New Zealand Act is concerned - the Western Australian Act is not quite so clear either one way or the other-
– There is no exemption.
– That strengthens the position I take up.
– They are not excluded under the New South Wales Act.
– The honorable member is quite right; though domestic servants are expressly excluded. That strengthens the remark I wish to make. We will take it as indisputable that there is nothing to prevent persons engaged in the agricultural and the other industries mentioned from forming unions in New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia, and getting the benefit of the compulsory arbitration law. Now, I say that the fact that, having the opportunity to avail themselves of such laws, the agricultural workers of New Zealand and New South Wales and Western Australia have never made the slightest effort to form a union for the purpose of getting the advantages of such legislation, is surely one of the strongest proofs that we need not be so desperately anxious about them with reference to a measure of Federal concern.
– They ought not to be excluded.
– I hope that my honorable friends opposite will recollect that I am aware that, in what I am saying, they are entirely opposed to me, and they need not give any evidence of that fact by way of interruption. I know it, and admit it. I only point to the notorious fact that, in spite of the zeal - the creditable zeal - which has been shown in the organization of trade unionism throughout Australia, by forming as many trade unions as possible, the agricultural workers have not been organized. So far as I am concerned I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a thorough believer in that form of organization. I believe that, in times long gone by, the advantages of combined action were altogether in favour of different classes and different interests, and the position of the workers in past ages was very much owing to the absence of this development of trade unionism which exists to-day.
– Now the right honorable gentleman wants to cripple it.
– I will explain my attitude presently, and in doing that the honorable member cannot help me. So far as I am concerned, the spread of trade unionism throughout Australia is a development that I heartily believe in, and that I have no sort of grudge against or opposition to. But I want to point out, as the strongest proof of the vast difference between the conditions which attend the sailors, who have a very grand union, and the shearers, who have a grand union, and the engineers, who have a grand trade union, and the iron trades - all having grand trade unions -the strongest proof, I say, of the inherent difference between these industries and the rural industries, is that, whereas we see a magnificent development of trade unions in the uniform and highly organized trades to which I have referred, so far as the rural industries are concerned there has either been no attempt - which is in itself a recognition by the Trades Hall authorities of what I say - to form them into unions, or, if there has been an attempt to form them into unions, it has been an absolute failure.
– They are all busy making money, and have no time to bother about anything el seu
– I put that fact that there has not been an attempt at a trade union in connexion with the farming and agricultural industries on the part of the workers, as the strongest confirmation of the view which I take ; and it seems to me, in view of that fact within the sphere of State compulsory arbitration, that this matter, upon w’hich I hold strong views, and upon which a large number of honorable members in this Chamber hold strong views, is not one of the practical importance which the other questions at issue possess. First of all, there has not been an attempt to form a trade union ; and, secondly, that is an acknowledgment of the impossibility of applying conditions of the sort contemplated, after investigation by this kind of j judicial authority, to the varieties of circumstance and want of uniformity which exist in connexion with the agricultural industries. I wish to say that the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– Is it worth while to make that exception ?
– The Government have made a lot of capital out of it up to now.
– I am simply announcing the fact, and I think I may be permitted to do so, that the Government cannot accept that amendment.
– The two amendments?
– I am coming to the other.-
– The right honorable gentleman took the’ two together.
– I am now coming to the second branch of the subject, and if the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will not be so impatient, he will find that I shall deal with every thing before I sit down. The next matter to which I proposed to refer was with reference to the inclusion of domestic servants. I wish tosay that all the remarks which I have made with respect to the inclusion of labourers engaged in our rural industries, apply witheven greater force to the inclusion of domestic servants. They have been included in the Act in New Zealand, I am told by honorable (members opposite, and in Western Australia.
– Recently. It was not in the first Act ; but in the second, whichis an amendment of the first Act.
– When the mistake of leaving them out had been discovered.
– I confess that I am a little more interested in the affairs of Australia than in those of New Zealand. I have too’ much to attend to in studying different movements in Australia to have been able so far to give much time to the affairs of. New Zealand.
An Honorable Member. - The right honorable member for Swan referred to. Western Australia.
– During the recess, I intend to make myself acquainted with all the ramifications of States laws upon every conceivable subject. I am obliged to the right honorable member for Swan for the information he gives me, that in Western Australia domestic servants have only recently been included in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
– They are included generally, and not specifically, in the present Act. They were not included in the Bill I introduced.
– I must again ask honorable members, in considering this question of the inclusion of domestic servants, not to forget that our only jurisdiction, except by consent, is over disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State. It -does seem to me a strong demand, I will not say upon the common sense, but upon the imagination of any legislator, to conceive of a. dispute between a mistress and her maid assuming Inter-State importance. In the first place, there must be an industrial organization before the dispute could have any sort of cognizance by this tribunal.
– Domestic disorganization.
-Very much so. In the first place, the domestic servants must organize themselves into an industrial organization before this Bill can be of the slightest service to them, and then there must be a dispute which extends beyond the limits of one State into another. I do not deny that highly experienced political diplomatists could invent a condition of things which might spread disputes over every conceivable area. But we are not dealing here with conflagrations, lighted by incendiary means, but with honest disputes between people who have honest grievances. We are not dealing with persons who have a mere desire to extend the area of industrial misunderstanding. In the first place, I say that we cannot accept the inclusion of domestic servants for the reasons which I gave in dealing with the inclusion of those engaged in rural industries, and I think that the argument is even stronger, if that were necessary, against the inclusion of domestic servants. In connexion with the history of this particular measure, it must not be forgotten that there was an express provision in this Bill when it was introduced by the Barton Government, excepting domestic servants from its operation.
– That was a mistake.
– It was a fact, and not only that, but when the Watson Government came into power and took up the Bill, they gave notice of a number of amendments they intended to move upon it, and if I am correctly informed, in the schedule of amendments submitted by that Administration, there was no proposal to remove the exclusion of domestic servants. So that we had not only the Barton and Deakin Governments recognising, as I think, the common sense of the situation by expressly excluding domestic servants, whilst not excluding hotel servants and persons engaged in occupations of that sort which might be capable of some regular and uniform arrangement, but the Watson Government also showed their common sense by taking up precisely the same attitude as their predecessors and submitting no proposal to remove that exclusion.
– They all voted for it.
– It was the honorable member for Kennedy who supplied the statesmanship to suggest the alteration, and the Watson Government accepted the honorable member’s leadership in the matter, though it was not within their plan of campaign. I do not at all complain of that, because they were perfectly at liberty to take any course they pleased upon any amendment that might be moved. But, as a matter of fact, the Watson Government did not propose to do this, while the honorable member for Kennedy did propose it, and then, no doubt, the Watson Government very heartily supported it. That involved a change of their policy on this particular matter. So far as this question is concerned we take up the position we took up before, when this matter was submitted to the whole Committee, and when both the rural industries and domestic service were, by deliberate and very considerable majorities, removed from the sphere of this scheme of national arbitration.
-The Alliance Party voted with us on those points.
– Certain honorable members, of course, exercised their own independent judgment. It is quite proper that members of the Labour Party, in accordance with their organization, should vote together upon matters contained in the labour platform. I am not canvassing that at all. They must act in accordance with their rules, but so far as other honorable members on the opposite side are concerned’, I believe they exercised their independent judgment honestly in voting against the inclusion of those engaged in the rural industries, and of domestic servants.
– Some honorable members of the Labour Party voted against their inclusion.
-I am very glad to hear that. Honorable members of the Labour Party who took that course must have held very strong views upon the subject. I recognise that all these votes which took place in Committee represent the honest convictions of a large majority of honorable members of this House. I now come to the third matter - the question of preference. I suppose we all have a keen recollection of the long debates on this subject, and the results which followed from the expression of the opinion of the majority of the Committee, and, again, from the expression of the opinion of the majority of the House. I can only say that, so far asthe Government is concerned, we see no reason whatever to change the attitude we took up when sitting on the other side. We are just as firm in the view we take as we were when we had not the responsibility of government, and, as a result, the Government find it impossible to ask the House to agree to the three important amendments made by the Senate.
– Does this betoken an anxiety on the part of the Government to get the Bill through?
– If the honorable member will allow me, I am about to make a remark quite in line with what he says. It might be said at first sight, just as the leader of the Opposition has said across the table, “ You profess an anxiety to get this Bill through; the Senate has made three important suggestions “ - I leave the other amendment out of account - “ and you do not accept any one of those; how can you say that you are making an honest effort to arrive at some terms of compromise with the Senate?” I think I can dispose of that position without any difficulty.
– It would not be the right honorable gentleman if he could not do so !
– I hope I shall do so upon grounds of reason, which will recommend themselves even to the intelligence of my worthy friend who interjects.
– The Prime Minister knows that he has the numbers.
– In the first place, I think I am correct in saying that, in respect of those three differences between the Senate and this House, the majority of the members of the Senate, and of honorable members sitting opposite, are one party, sailing in the same boat. That is a fact which has to be remembered.
– Not all of them.
– Well, they have strong affinities.
– Hear, hear.
– We have an example of the attraction ‘ of the law of gravitation applying to bodies in near juxtaposition.
– The right honorable gentleman said the same when the Tariff was before Parliament.
– It shows how consistent I am.
– For once !
– I desire to point out that the body of opinion expressed in those three proposed amendments represents the battleground of honorable members opposite - no more and no less. The Labour Party, as we all know, is in strong evidence in both Houses. But it is the same party - it is the same body, and the same struggle ; and when honorable members wish to make out that, instead of the old battle coming on again in the same quarter, it is some impartial and august distant tribunal which is appealing for the revision of our views, I say, with every respect to honorable members in another place, that the fight which was fought out on this floor is the same fight repeated in the Senate by the three amendments.
– Yes, but the result is entirely different.
– 1 think the right honorable gentleman’s remark applies more particularly to one amendment.
– Yes; I think the honorable member for. Hume is perfectly right when he suggests that my remark applies more particularly to the preference amendment. As to that amendment, and also with regard to the inclusion of States’ public servants, it must be recollected that honorable members who sit on this side have, many of them, made most serious concessions in order that this Bill may be brought into operation. It .is an unusual fact, but it is a fact that one Prime Minister, who was in charge of the measure, felt it his duty to do the incredible thing, namely, to resign his distinguished position ; and that gentleman, and others on this side who also held similarly strong opinions against the inclusion of State public servants, are now allowing the Bill to go through, so far as they are concerned, with this provision to which they have such serious objection. I do not think that that concession is to be underrated. If those mischievous tactics, to which honorable members refer, of men voting against their principles in order to achieve a certain object, were put in vogue, it would be only necessary for one or two of those who have strong opinions against the inclusion of States public servants, to do a pretty good stroke of business in the way of wrecking the Bill by changing their vote.
– They are not strong enough in the other House.
– Mischief-makers are often strong enough.
– The mischief-makers are all on the other side.
– I thought that honorable members opposite were not even to slumber so long as this Government remained in office. It is difficult for my friends of the Opposition to realize that other human beings are as capable as themselves of taking disinterested views of public matters. They have been so accustomed to consider themselves as representing a new gospel of political rectitude and disinterestedness, that it is very difficult for them to believe that other mortals are cast in an equally conscientious mould.
– The right honorable gentleman is giving us a shock.
– I gave honorable members opposite a shock, from which they have never recovered ; it has been a case of shock, and something more than shock, ever since. But I do not object tq the restlessness of my friends opposite, because it is a sign that things are going well ; it is one of those familiar signs which I am. well able to appreciate. I believe honorable members opposite would be much more disappointed if I were to accept the three amendments.
– Try it !
– I believe honorable members opposite would be infinitely more disappointed if the Government were to accept these amendments.
– Try it!
– Great as my desire is to make any fair and reasonable concession, I take up the position that the three matters dealt with in these amendments are of too great importance for the Government to surrender upon. That is the view which the Governnent take ; and they take it, of course, on the responsibility which devolves upon them. But I should like to point out another sacrifice that a very large number of members are making in order that this Bill may be passed into law. It will be remembered that the question as to whether there should be any preference at all to unionists, was the subject of difference of opinion, and that a large number of honorable members on this side - not by any means a majority of the House, I admit; but a considerable minority - took a view against preference. The majority of the House decided in favour of preference, which is provided for in the Bill ; and although we do not approve of the principle of preference, we are accepting it as a sacrifice we are willing to make in order that the measure may become law.
– Honorable members opposite are sacrificing nothing according to the present position. 12 d 2
– I shall wait for these interruptions to cease before I proceed with my statement.
– The Prime Minister does not seem, to like the interjections.
– I do not mind interjections at another stage; but when a Government statement is> being made on important matters which are before us for consideration, there ought to be a certain amount of order, especially on the part of those who are familiar with the traditions of office. I was saying that this very provision for preference represents a sacrifice of the strong opinions of a large number of honorable members of the House.
– How could the right honorable gentleman help it ?
– I am acting now in a way in which I could help it. My honorable friend naturally makes that interjection ; he belongs to the helpless school of politicians. But I have many ways of helping things which I disapprove of. In the interests of passing this measure, we should do our best, as far as we conscientiously can, to surrender our individual views.
– In the interests of party government.
– I have always thought, and I now think, that I am expressing the views of honorable members opposite as faithfully as my own. They have always appealed to the people, and appeal to Parliament, in favour of a -compulsory arbitration law, on this ground - that strife has pushed physical endurance on the part of employers and physical endurance on the part of the workers to .the last stage, involving tens of thousands of innocent persons in suffering and misery, and that the peaceful arbitrament of these trials of brute strength in a Court of equity was a noble object.
– That is what we have not got.
– I am delighted to hear an acknowledgment of what should be a notorious fact. The very soul of this Bill is not to serve any one’s individual interest in business, whether unionist or employer, ‘not to make trade unions popular, or to force men to join them. That is not the sphere of a Court of justice; that is not the duty of a judicial tribunal. The main object of t’his Bill upon which the people of Australia and those who are in favour of it, rely, is not a selfish one. Why should the powers of legislation, why should the time of a national Parliament, be taken up with- trade disputes? Would not our Constitution become a source of degradation ; would it not stink in the nostrils of the world, if we used our powers of legislation and our. Judiciary to serve the interests of one man in preference to those of another, to pick out individuals except on some sort of principle? I am against preference, but I accept that golden rule which has solved so many practical troubles in politics - I accept the principle of majority rule. Many of the most difficult questions which have divided individuals have been solved by that rough, and ready method. And in the interests of this great measure and the noble object which it has in view, we accept loyally! and ‘honestly the principle of preference to unionists. The next point is that the late Government acknowledged the difficulty attending this matter. I suppose that the members of that Government will not forget their corporate conscience and intellect now that they sit in opposition. Did not the corporate conscience and intelligence of the Watson Cabinet arrive at the conclusion that this principle of preference must be regulated ? Did they not admit that in the interest of truth, right, and justice?
– As a compromise.
– I hope that honorable members will not attempt to deny notorious facts.
– That is not a fact. We are prepared to trust the Court to regulate the principle.
– I must refresh the memory of my honorable friend. I have ringing in my ears a suggested proposal that preference to unionists should not be given-
– That was never before the House.
– It is a sore spot, but I intend to finish my sentence. I have ringing in my ears a suggested proposal that the Judge should not be forbidden to grant preference to unionists unless he was satisfied that both in numbers and competence there was a substantial number of all those engaged in the calling-
– We preferred that proposal to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– I shall hear the honorable and learned member’s explanation afterwards. I am dealing with facts at present.
– “ Substantially represented.”
– That. is so. It was, in effect, proposed that no preference at all should be given, because if it be a principle there is no limitation of it. But, as the Watson Government were prepared to accept the Bill, the principle of preference to unionists was absolutely destroyed, and they were prepared to say : “ We shall not ask for this as a principle ; but we are prepared to limit its operation, and it shall not be granted unless the party before the Court substantially represents in numbers and competence not only the trade unionists but all the workers engaged) in that calling throughout the Commonwealth.” It is notorious that the late Prime Minister, with all the responsibilities of his high office upon him, explained to -this Committee and to the country that there was no substantial difference between his amendment and that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– I absolutely deny it; I never said anything of the sort.
– I think I could show the honorable gentleman that he did; but I accept his denial, leaving it, as I have stated, that he was willing to give up the principle of preference.
– Not at all.
– He was willing to leave it to the Court.
– I have not the actual words of the honorable gentleman, but I think honorable members will recollect, as I do, that he explained that his real objection to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was that the Court would not be able to ascertain whether there was a majority or not.
– His only objection.
– The Prime Minister urged that objection himself.
– That may be; but it does not affect my statement of what the late Prime Minister did. If my honorable friends could only get to some principle of logical operation we should be saved a number of interjections. I think it will be in the recollection of every honorable member that the main objection urged to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was the difficulty which a Judge would have in ascertaining whether there was or was not a majority in the trade favorable to the application. As honorable members who are more familiar with the law than the leader of the Opposition is pointed out, the amendment did not cast on the Court as a matter of judicial know- ledge the fact that there was a majority. It put the Court in the position of a jury, and it said, “ If, in the opinion of the jury - that is the Judge presiding - there is a majority favorable to the application, preference should be granted.” So that the difference between the attitude of the late Government and the attitude of the House was a very small one. I point that out to show £hat the greatest possible concession was made in the interests of the trade unions that could fairly be made. Surely it is a great concession, if a Court of Justice is empowered to give preference to one man Over another in the opportunities of earning his living? If a majority in a calling are willing to place a man in that privileged position, surely that is a large concession to the personal interests,, and the trade interests of trade unions. Much as one admires the spirit of trade unions, much as one recognises the grand work which they have done in elevating the masses in Australia, even the highest and the greatest in the land must be regulated by some consideration for the rights of other persons. And with every desire in the world to help the cause of the trade unions, when we are asked, without any safeguard at all, and in spite of a majority of those in the calling being against it, to create a state of things under which perhaps 250 men in a trade union in Sydney or Melbourne, might get a preference over hundreds and hundreds of their fellow-workmen in the same industry,, that in my mind- does not represent a. substantial regard for the position and wishes of the people in those industries. I do not desire at this stage to make any longer statement than is absolutely necessary. I acknowledge with great satisfaction the fact - and a very valuable fact it is - that the Senate has upheld the attitude which this House took with reference to the political character of trade unions. I do not wish to diminish the significance of that fact, and, in view of its acceptance of that provision, the least we can do is to accept a similar provision with reference to the employers. What I suggest to the leader of the Opposition is that the Committee should have some time to consider my statement.
– I wish to say a word or two first.
– That is perfectly right. After the leader of the Opposition, has been heard, I suggest that we should go into Committee on the Papua Bill, and’ resume the discussion of this matter tomorrow.
– The action of the Prime Minister .in going beyond a mere Ministerial statement, and entering into the argumentative aspect of the subject before us, renders it necessary for me to say a word or two, although- I do not wish to take up any great amount of time. I must express my sense of disappointment that, after assuring the House and the country of the anxiety felt by every member of the Government, and those sitting behind it, to have the Bill passed, the right honorable gentleman should appear so little alive to the importance of the position assumed by the Senate, and should evince so little recognition Of what is due to that body* as to be prepared to accept only amendments relating to what he has admitted to be matters of absolutely no importance. He spoke of the sacrifice which he and those with him have made in regard to preference, but I would point out that the provision for preference in this measure is but the most vile of pretences. It professes to give to the unionists, the organizations on which, as he has admitted, the Bill is based-
– I do not admit it.
– The right honorable gentleman has done so. He used that fact as an argument against the inclusion of agricultural labourers and domestic servants. He said, “They have no organizations, ergo, it is impossible to apply the provisions of the measure to them.” He also said that every member knows that the Bill is based entirely upon organizations. But where organizations do exist, he is not prepared1 to admit the need for preserving them, so that the Court may have some machinery by which to carry its awards into effect, and to give value to them.
– Because the organizations themselves will not deal justly.
– The honorable member speaks from his enormous experience of trade unions, from his frequent contact with strikes and industrial disputes ! He is as ignorant on this subject as is the newborn babe. Does he not know that, only a couple of days ago, the Trades-hall Council in Sydney refused, by a large majority, to consider a motion which sought to impugn a decision of the Court in respect to thisvery question of preference to unionists?
He ignores a signal instance of that kind. He says nothing of the anxiety of labour bodies to take a just attitude. I do not assert that they always assume a just attitude; but even the honorable member can hardly claim perfection in regard to the conduct of life.
– If he could, he would not be on the Ministerial side of the Chamber.
– Probably not. The Prime Minister stated that the Watson Administration accepted the position that pre1 ference, as a principle, was to go by the board, that we were prepared to accept something very similar to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– The honorable member was prepared to limit preference.
– We were prepared, as a compromise - since the Committee was not ready to trust the Court, and we wished to give evidence of our anxiety to have the Bill passed in a workable shape - not to stand to the letter of our original proposal. When the right honorable gentleman said that there was no noticeable difference between the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella and that which I suggested, but which I did not get an opportunity to have considered, he must have forgotten that we thought the difference of sufficient (importance to take a course which I do not think he has ever taken on any similar occasion during his political life, that of resigning our positions as Ministers. That action would seem to imply, in our opinion, a considerable distinction between the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella and my proposal. There is not a word in the statement which I made when putting I that proposal forward which can be con- j strued into the expression of a desire to limit the duty of the Court to decide on the question of preference on the evidence before it. From the start I have taken up the position that if the Court can be intrusted with the dutv of declaring what hours shall be worked, and what wages shall be paid - matters wherein its decision might ruin an employer - it can be safely intrusted with a minor matter, such as the duty, of saying whether unionists shall or shall not receive preference. That position has never been departed from by me, nor by those associated with me in this struggle for an Arbitration Bill. I do not know that I need say much more .at this stage. I hope that honorable members will evince a greater anxiety to have this measure passed than is indicated by the statement of the Prime Minister. I should be sorry to believe that what he has suggested is the most that will be done in order to get the Bill passed. I had hoped that there was a reasonable probability of dealing with the measure this session, but,. that idea receives no encouragement when we find that the Government are pre-‘ ‘ pared to accept nothing of any importance, but are insisting that the Senate, or any other body of men who differ from themselves, shall swallow their opinions, if they wish the Bill to become law-.
– Does the honorable member stand upon the Senate’s amendments, or has he any alternative to suggest.?
– That is a matter we can discuss to-morrow, or whenever the Bill is again brought under discussion.
– It would help us a great’ deal if we had a chance in the meantime to consider any proposals.
– I do not know that I. am justified in affording opportunities for more thimble-rigging at present.
– I desire only to save’ time.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again to-, morrow.
– In view of the peculiar turn that affairs have taken, l’ hardly think that, we should allow the re- spite asked for by the Prime Minister. The Papua Bill is not nearly so important as the measure now before us, and I do not think the Chairman should leave the Chair until the Government are prepared to make some concession to the views of honorable members on this side of the Chamber. We are no nearer a solution of the difficulty than when the Bill was sent to the Senate. I am satisfied that the Government are unwilling to concede anything that will prove satisfactory to the people who have sent us here. The Prime Minister has made some flippant remarks with regard to the impossibility of organizing domestic servants and agricultural labourers to the extent necessary to enable them to take advantage off the provisions of the Bill. He has expressed his willingness to place employers’ associations upon the same basis as the labour organizations, so far as political objects are concerned. The concession he is prepared to make is of very little, if any, value, and, even if he proceeded to the length of agreeing to the inclusion of agricultural labourers and domestic servants, those who desire to see a practical measure passed would not be satisfied. If we are to attach any importance to the opinions of the Prime Minister with regard to the practical value of the Bill, he is asking us to accept a measure that will be of little or no use. The Prime Minister says, in effect, that he is now offering the labour unions that for which they have been asking for many years, namely, majority rule. The right honorable gentleman knows very well that he is conceding the advantage of majority rule only in instances in which it will be impossible to decide whether there is a majority. He says that the Senate has done its duty marvellously well, and yet he is not prepared to accept the results of their labours. We are not prepared to accept legislation which will prove ineffective. No Bill would be better than a bad one. I recognise that the Prime Minister is very anxious to get into recess, and that he would be happy to see this troublesome Bill out of the road. I can assure him that all his fervent appeals to the patriotism of trade unionists, and his expressions of admiration for them, will have no effect when he tells them that,, although they ask for bread, he is prepared to give them only a stone. The history of this measure does not reflect much credit upon some of those honorable members who have professed to support it. The Deakin Government went out of office because they would not accept the provision for bringing the public servants of the States within the scope of the measure. The Prime Minister was one of those who voted against the inclusion of the railway servants, and yet he is now ready to swallow a Bill containing that provision, and, at the same time, lay down a rule which will prevent the measure from being applied with any satisfactory results to the great majority of our industrial workers. I shall not be content to allow the Bill to pass until we receive some assurance from the Prime Minister that our labours are not to end in smoke. This is really the only practical measure that has been under consideration this session, and we are now being asked to accept it in a form in which it will be useless. I shall oppose the motion until some more definite assurance has been given by the Prime Minister.
– I am rather surprised at the action of the Government.
– Is the honorable member ever anything but surprised?
– I am not surprised at anything that the right honorable gentleman may do, because his political record has been of such an extraordinary character that no one need feel astonished at any course he may adopt. I think it is desirable that we should proceed to deal with the. Bil] at once. No advantage can result from delay. The measure has been very fully debated, both in this Chamber and in the Senate, and no new arguments are likely to be brought to bear upon it. Therefore, a postponement can result in only waste of time. The fact is that the Prime Minister is not prepared to proceed with the consideration of the Senate’s amendments in this Bill, because he has not a majority present. Indeed, if the members of the Opposition sit tight it is very questionable whether he can command a majority in favour of an adjournment of this debate. In endeavouring to defer . the consideration of the Bill until to-morrow, he is acting very shrewdly. Personally, I would rather see the measure discussed, and, if need be, thrown out this afternoon. I notice that there is a conference between the Prime Minister and the Government whip. Probably the latter has informed the right honorable gentleman that he has not a majority present.
– He has told me the very opposite.
– As a matter of fact, the reason the Prime Minister does not desire to proceed with the Bill this afternoon is . that he cannot command a majority.
– I spoke to the leader of the Opposition in regard to the Bill some twenty-four hours ago, and the result of our conversation was published in this morning’s newspapers.
– The Prime Minister is aware that his majority in the person of the honorable member for Wilmot is absent, and that the honorable member for Laanecoorie is in the chair. That reduces the voting strength of the Government by three, whereas I am the only member of the Opposition who cannot vote upon the present occasion, because I happen to be paired. It is unfair thai the Government should propose to postpone the consideration of this Bill in order that other business might be proceeded with.. Those who are most interested in the Papua Bill will probably be absent for hours, under the impression that the debate upon the Senate’s amendments in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will occupy some time.
– I think that the Prime Minister will agree that up to the present time I have occupied very little time in discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I can assure honorable members, however, that the inclusion of domestic servants within its scope commands my whole-souled support. Hitherto the term “ slaveys “ has to a great extent been warranted by reason of the extremely long hours which this class of employes have been compelled to work. I admit that in Australia they enjoy a little more freedom than they do in England, and that they are better treated, though they do not receive t’he consideration which they deserve. But I would point out to the Prime Minister that in the constituency of Melbourne 40 per cent, of the domestic servants who were entitled to vote at the last election were practically disfranchised. In many cases they were most severely treated by their mistresses, who drove them to th’e polling booths and took good care to ascertain how they voted. I claim that it is unjust to make any distinction asbetween citizen and citizen. I agree with the honorable member for Kennedy that it is idle to traverse old ground in discussing this measure. If the numbers are up, I am perfectly prepared to come to a division without delay, and to rely upon the Senate, which has proved itself to be the more democratic Chamber of the two, to again return the amendments which it has already inserted in this measure. If we cannot then come to an agreement, I think that there should be an appeal to the country. Personally, I should be very loth to see that course adopted. The Prime Minister can readily understand that any person who has been compelled to contest two elections and a suit before the High Court within four and a half months is not particularly anxious to see a general election. Nevertheless, I feel so strongly upon this matter that I am prepared to face that ordeal, if necessary. I trust that the conflict upon this measure will be short, sharp, and decisive.
Question - That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again to-morrow - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23rd November, vide page 7356) :
Proposed new clause 20 a -
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 dispensed 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.
Upon which Mr. Bamford had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ except,” line 3, the words “ under Government control “ be inserted.
– We have been called upon somewhat suddenly to give further consideration to this Bill. We receive no information as to the business with which the Government intend to proceed, tout from time to time are invited to consider any legislation with which they deem it fit to occupy a spare hour.
– But it was understood that the Bill would be dealt with to-day.
Mr.WEBSTER. - Theproposed new clause, with which I was dealing when progress was reported on Wednesday last, provides for prohibition in Papua, while the further amendment moved by the honorable member for Herbert would place the drink traffic in the Territory under Government control. It seems to me that the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Cowper and others who support the proposed hew clause will not hold water. To seek to apply a prohibition law to such a. territory as that of British New Guinea would be to endeavour to do something absolutely . impracticable. With a coast-line and borders that can be approached from any point, British New Guinea would offer considerable inducements to smuggling and to the illicit distillation of liquors. It must also be remembered that the island of New Guinea does not belong entirely to the Commonwealth. There are two portions of it which are under the control of Germany and Holland. Consequently, it would be exceedingly difficult to apply a prohibitive law effectively to that portion of the island which is under our own control. If I could see that it would be possible to administer prohibition effectively I might be more favorably disposed towards the proposal.
– The honorable member must debate the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, involving the question of Government control.
– Other honorable members have spoken on the general question of prohibition, but it appears that the moving of the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert prevents me from discussing the question on broad grounds. As to the matter of Government control, it must be remembered that we have in British New Guinea a very small number of whites - about 250, I believe - together with 300,000 or 400,000 coloured people. The advocates of absolute prohibition overlook the fact that the coloured population includes a fairly large proportion of Malays and Polynesians, who have to some extent adopted the habits of civilized communities, and desire to consume liquor. Unfortunately, we have no reliable statistics on the subject: If we had it would no doubt be shown that liquor is consumed in British New Guinea both by coloured people and whites. There is no better way to control the traffic than to put it under Government management. I am satisfied that that is the safest plan which we can adopt. The opinions of missionaries who have been in the island from five to seventeen or eighteen years show us that it would not be safe to prohibit the importation of liquor absolutely. The amendment of the honorable member for Herbert would permit of its use for medicinal purposes, and under the instructions of medical men. We ought to regard the opinions of such people as missionaries and doctors, and who all tell us that liquor is essential in such a climate as prevails in the Possession.
– Why do not the blacks use it, then?
– Presumably they have other articles of consumption which serve the same purpose, and which they like better than the liquor which is drunk by civilized communities. Those who are living on the spot are far better qualified to give an opinion on the subject than we are. We must give them credit for being sincere and honest in their opinions. The reports show that the missionaries, by tento one, are against prohibition and in favour of State control. If these gentlemen were in favour of prohibition the supporters of that movement would be amongst the first to quote them. They would be glad of the testimony of missionaries and doctors in favour of any proposal which they put forward. But they are prepared to overlook that testimony because it happens to be opposed to their view.
– The honorable member does not accept it on other questions.
– I accept any reasonable opinion expressed without bias, by persons possessing local information. I should not be opposed to prohibition as generally understood by its advocates, if I could be convinced that such a law could be applied in this case. I maintainthat under the conditions which prevail in New Guinea, we should establish a system of Government control, because that would be more effective; it would better secure the object which we have in legislating for such people as are the natives of the Territory, and it would largely minimize, or prevent the smuggling which must grow up under a system of prohibition applied to such a country. These gentlemen have indicated in their evidence that a prohibitive law would be such an incentive to smuggling, that it would result in the introduction of a far worse evil than any which exists in the Territory at the present time, because the natives would be persuaded to assist in the illicit introduction of liquor.
– Will the honorable member read what they say about land settlement?
– That has nothing to do with the matter before the Committee. I am beginning to understand how far one can go in discussing matters in Committee, and I should not be allowed to discuss the question of land settlement on the amendment now before us. I shall oppose the application to the Territory of prohibition.
– There is much to recommend the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and also .the amendment upon it moved by the honorable member for Herbert. When this Bill was before the last Parliament, it will be found on reference to page 2995 of Hansard, that on the 4th August, 1903, I moved an amendment in the following words : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any ordinance there shall be no sale or dealing in intoxicating liquor or opium in the Territory, except by the agents of the Lieutenant-Governor, and the receipts therefrom shall go into the Treasury of the Territory.
I still hold the opinions which I then submitted, the reasons for which will be found in Hansard of that date; and when I had- the honour to administer the Department of External Affairs, differences of opinion as to the wisdom either of prohibiting or assigning to the State weighed so much with the Department that I decided to lay the Bill before the House practically as it now stands. Personally I am, and always shall be, in favour of having this traffic under the direct control of the State. I prefer that to prohibition, because I consider that the reason for prohibition, which I admit is usually tenfold strong where one has to deal with native races, is absent in this particular case, since, as I am credibly informed, the natives of New Guinea have absolutely no leaning towards liquor in any shape -or form. “ “
– Does not the honorable and learned member think- that it would be wise to keep it away from them, in order that they might be prevented from acquiring a taste for it?
– They now have as ample opportunities for getting liquor as have the aborigines of Australia. If the honorable member for Lang has any experience of the blacks of this country,1 he must be aware that, in spite of the law, which is very stringent, a blackfellow can and will get drink, and does get opium.
– I have seen the blacks on the Fly River take liquor as fast as it was given to them.
– My experience in Australia has been that opium or liquor can be bought at any time in this country in spite of the law. Liquor can be secured by black or white* on Sundays or week days, and in spite of Customs law or climate. I am told, and I must believe the statement, rhat, as a matter of fact, the natives of- New Guinea have no desire for liquor, and I hope they never will have such a desire. I am exceedingly thankful to be able to say that personally I have no desire for it, and I believe that those people who have an unquenchable desire for liquor are perhaps more to be pitied than is any class of people on the face of God’s earth. I do not believe that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Herbert will be effective to attain the object which the honorable member desires, and I therefore propose to submit a new clause in the form of the amendment which I moved on the 4th August of last year, and which I have already quoted. The honorable member for Herbert proposes that-
No intoxicant or opium shall be allowed to be imported into or manufactured or sold or otherwise disposed of in the Territory, except under Government control. “Government control” there might mean nothing more than Government supervision. That is to say that the Government might appoint any person to sell liquor, just as persons, are appointed to sell stamps. What I believe the honorable member wants, and what I ‘desire, is to make the Government itself the sole purveyor, manufacturer, and importer of these articles. I believe that would be provided for by the amendment I suggest. Any delegation of the power of the Government to any individual would, under the amendment I suggest, be effectually prevented. “Government control” may mean nothing more than the Government control now exercised. Everything is now under Government control, and the Government may take away or grant any licence. It must be remembered that the Government, as here understood, is not only the Cabinet or Executive, but also any subordinate body authorized to act on behalf of the Government. In my view, the amendment presents the question, prohibition versus the present condition of things. The honorable member for Lang is very earnest in this matter; but I presume that he would infinitely prefer effective regulation and control to the present loose, unsatisfactory method. Whether that be so or not, it ought to be pointed out that the effect of the amendment is merely to permit !the present system to continue. Do I understand you, sir, to rule that it would be out of order to move the new clause I had suggested ?
– I think that the new clause would be sufficiently near to an amendment previously disposed of to prevent its being discussed. It is impossible for the Committee to go oyer ground already traversed ; and if the Committee came to the decision that they would not agree to the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, it would mean that honorable members were against Government or State control. Honorable members will understand that I am not supposed to give decisions with regard to legal interpretation, but only to state what, in my opinion, would be the effect of certain words if they were incorporated in the Bill. I am afraid that I shall be compelled to rule that the suggested new clause has already been discussed by the Committee, and a decision arrived at. The suggestion has’ been made that the Committee might decide the principle on this amendment, and that it would then be competent for the Committee to further amend the clause in the direction suggested, because that would be quite in consonance with the amendment arrived at.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Herbert that he should insert the word “ direct “ before “ control,” which would indicate with sufficient clearness to the Committee what the amendment would serve to do. If the amendment of the honorable member for’ Melbourne Ports should be defeated, and the clause as amended by ‘thehonorable member for Herbert accepted, then we might, as the Chairman has suggested, introdupe such other words as would give effect to our intention.
– I am quite willing ‘to accept the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I ask the permission of the Committee to amend my amendment by inserting the word “ direct ‘ ‘ before the word “control.”
– Some honorable members, including myself, do not desire the clause to be adopted in the shape proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but should like to see substituted the provision I outlined the other night.
– I have no objection to the honorable member for Herbert altering his amendment, if that honorable member has no objection to my altering my amendment. My desire is merely to express in legal phraseology the principle I propose.
– There is no objection to that.
– I objected the other night to the amendment presented to the Committee by the honorable member for Cowper. . Do I understand now that that honorable member desires to substitute for the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports the amend: ment which was outlined the other evening?
– Then I object to the alteration, because I believe that the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, give the Committee an opportunity to vote on the direct question. Getting the amendments into line is a matter for subsequent consideration, when the principle has been affirmed. I desire to say a word against the proposal submitted for bringing about a drastic alteration regarding the drink traffic in New Guinea. I have always understood that when alterations of the kind are suggested, it is customary to give some consideration to the wishes of the people affected, and to endeavour to obtain from them an expression of opinion. The Government have gone to considerable expense in getting information from missionaries and resident officers in New Guinea.
– I raise quite a friendly point of order. Had we not better settle whether we are to allow the honorable member for Herbert to alter his amendment?
– That point is settled; it is quite sufficient if one honorable member objects, and that has been done.
– I understood the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to state that in the event of any objection being withdrawn to an alteration in his proposal, he would withdraw his objection to any alteration in the proposal of the honorable member for Herbert.
– I did not put that forward as a condition.
– I understood the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to do so ; at any rate, it is a point apart from the question before us. We find that although expressions of opinion by missionaries and Government officers have been laid before us, the opinions of men who have been resident in the Territory for periods ranging from five to twenty years, and who know the conditions thoroughly, are thrown aside. Those men are opposed to the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and it is only right- that, as they will be affected by any radical alteration, their opinion should receive consideration. Any reform of the kind, if -reform it be, must, in order to be permanent, bo based on the concurrence of those affected. We find that a number of honorable members say to the 600 white residents of the Territory, “ Upon no consideration shall you have liquor, unless you are sick. Although you may be prospecting in those wild lands, and may run the risk of catching malarial fever, yet until such time as it is contracted, you are not .to be permitted to get liquor.” The honorable member for Franklin is laughing; but did not the honorable member for Melbourne Ports propose that until a man got sick, and required liquor for medicinal purposes, it should not be obtainable? I desire to enable a prospector to take with him) a small supply of brandy and quinine. I do not desire a ‘man to get sick from- the want of a little brandy at the right time, or to be put to the expense of sending for a doctor in order to get a stimulant.
– The proposed new clause, as amended, will allow him to do that.
– That is a whittlingdown of the original proposal, with the hope of capturing a majority.
– I object to any whit.tlingdown of the original proposal until the question of principle has been settled. It is generally admitted in the Chamber that the natives of the Territory are not getting liquor to any considerable extent - if at all. The Arms, Liquor, and Opium Prohibition Ordinance of 1888. imposes very severe restrictions upon the white population as regards supplying drink to the natives. In section 1, it says - “ Native “ shall mean and include in its reference every person in the Possession not of European descent.
It will be generally admitted that that definition covers most of the residents in British New Guinea. Section 2 of the Ordinance says -
No person shall, except as hereinafter permitted., supply to any native by sale, gift, or in any other way, either directly or indirectly, any firearm, ammunition, explosive, intoxicating liquor, or opium ; and any person offending against any provision of this section, shall, on conviction in a summary manner, be liable to a fine of not less than ^20 and not exceeding ^200, and to imprisonment for any term not less than one month and not exceeding -two years.
My honorable friends will admit that the restriction contained in that section is a pretty severe one. The conditions upon which drink may be supplied to a native are laid down in section 7, which reads as follows : -
It shall not be an offence under this ordinance for any person to give to any native, for any urgent cause or necessity, and without recompense or remuneration, any intoxicating liquor when such intoxicating liquor is given solely and purely for medical purposes, but it will rest with the person giving such intoxicating liquor to prove to the satisfaction of the Court the existence of such urgent necessity, and failing such proof, in a clear and conclusive manner, such person shall be liable to the penalty provided in section 3 hereof.
In face of the barriers against the natives getting drink, and the statements from the missionaries that the natives do not get drink, and have no desire to get it, we should not impose restrictions upon men who desire to get a reasonable supply of liquor without first getting an expression of opinion from them. If the majority of the people in this Territory were ‘ to express directly their opposition to the admission of drink, I should say that their will ought to be respected. Until that opinion is obtained the proposal for Government control gives good security that the trade will not be abused. All the evidence indicates that the natives of New Guinea are not getting drink under the present control.
– I have seen them the worse for liquor.
– The honorable member has seen something which the missionaries who have been there for twenty-five years have not seen.
– I have seen them in that state.
– I appeal to honorable members to consider the lives and welfare of those persons who are to be primarily affected by this legislation. My honorable friends must know that it is difficult for white men to live for any length of time in this Territory. It has been proved by past experience that no other remedy for malarial fever is so speedy as quinine and brandy. On the island, quinine is an absolute necessity to a white man, and it cannot be properly administered without brandy. I should not be so greatly opposed to this proposal if a man were permitted to take a supply of brandy with him when going to the interior. In outside places, where there is no medical practitioner, men often get sick and require liquor for medicinal purposes. Let me appeal to my honorable friends, who under ordinary circumstances are intelligent men, to pay some regard to the wishes of those who live in New Guinea. If they are democrats, surely they will be prepared to submit this question to the people there at a local Option poll.
– How is it to be done?
– I do not say that it will be possible to obtain an expression of the opinions of the white residents of New Guinea on any one day, but the Government have responsible officers who within a reasonable time could ascertain how the whites in that Territory view this proposal. If they declaredi themselves in favour of it, I would support it. But to rush wildly into the unknown is always dangerous. I hope that my honorable friends who are supporting the proposed new clause will take a more reasonable’ view of the situation, and allow the matter to be decided by those whom our legislation will affect.
– The speech to which we have just listened is of a type which we must all of us have heard and listened to on many occasions.
– Now we are going to have another.
– Yes, on the other side. Those who are against this proposal to prohibit the importation of liquor into New Guinea say that they are speaking entirely in the interests of the people there.
That is also the attitude of those of us who advocate prohibition. But do honorable members opposite put the desires of 400 or 500 whites before the absolute welfare of 300,000 or 400,000 natives?
– Has the honorable member any information from the natives that his policy is that of which they approve ?
– I have no information worth speaking of . to show that either the present system is required or that the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports should be adopted.
– Do not the missionaries speak for the natives ?
– Would the honorable member take the opinion of the missionaries on the land question? Are not honorable members opposite desirous of taking their opinion only when it suits their case?
– Missionaries may be authorities on questions of morals, but not on land questions.
– They may be good authorities on the effects of liquor, too. There is a black page in the history of Australia which I do not wish to see repeated in the history of New Guinea. What has been the stigma upon Great Britain’s administration of , countries inhabited by black populations? Has it not been a by-word with atheists that we have sent the missionary with the Bible in his hand and the trader with the rum bottle to civilize the native races off the face of the earth? Should we not be satisfied with having swept the aborigines from some of our States, and with the fact that they are fast disappearing from the others ? Are those who have read the early history of Australia, and our treatment of the native races here, prepared to accept the responsibility of allowing the free sale of grog in New Guinea?
– The statements in regard to the treatment of Australian natives are very much” exaggerated.
– Those of us who have been in the interior of this country know that it is impossible to restrict the sale of liquor there. We have heard it said to-day that there have been no cases in which natives of New Guinea have taken to liquor, and that it is possible to provide against them getting it, and yet, in the first report on the Territory, it is stated that a native policeman was prosecuted’ for having’ purchased liquor and become intoxicated.
– Procured, not purchased. It might have been given to him.
– For the purposes of my argument it does not matter whether he bought it, stole it, or had it given to him. Those who oppose prohibition say that the natives of New Guinea do not take liquor, and that therefore it is safe to allow publichouses to be opened there. Others say, “We are prepared to allow the sale of liquor under Government control.” In a new territory like New Guinea I have no more faith in the system of State control than in the system under which a private man, who may be better and more honest than a Government agent, sells under a licence.
– A licensed publican would have an incentive to sell drink which a Government officer would not have.
– There would always be an incentive to sell. Does the honorable member think that absolutely perfect men would go into the wilds of New Guinea to act as Government agents for the sale of liquor ? We know that if permission to sell is given it must be given to the ordinary traders, to those who have been bargaining and trafficking in the islands for years, and who, in many cases, have been a curse to the natives. I am not willing that the natives should be placed at their mercy. I shall not discuss the question of prohibition now as I would discuss it if it were proposed to apply it to the Commonwealth. If the Federal Parliament had the power to make laws relating to the sale of intoxicants, it would be a fair question to raise here. Modern scientific investigation has shown that alcoholic liquors are not absolutely required in any part of the world. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie spoke about the medical testimony on this subject, but if he will take the writings of some of the ablest men who have investigated it - men like Dr. Richardson - he will find that his theories are somewhat like the medicines of the celebrated Dr. Muggins, who “came in haste” and “suited his physic to his patients’ taste.” We have to take into consideration, not the drinking habits of 400 or 500 whites, but the future welfare of 300,000 or 400,000 natives. When the Federal Parliament - in my opinion very unwisely - took over the control of New Guinea, it assumed the greatest ‘ responsibility that it is likely to have for many vears to come.. The welfare of the natives of that Territory is now absolutely under our control, and I, for one, am not prepared to take the responsibility of allowing liquor to be sold there as it is sold here, with the effect, perhaps, of wiping them out of existence. I think the safest plan is to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquor ii New Guinea, excepting under the safeguards which are provided. There is not a man to whom alcoholic liquor in any form has become a necessity who would, under the proposed amendment, be deprived of it. We wish, however, to prevent the free sale of intoxicating liquor to the whites, and consequently, as a matter of actual practice, to the blacks also. We prohibit the sale of liquor to our aborigines, and yet will any honorable member say that the law has provedf effective.
– Except in the towns it is practically effective.
-It would not be possible for us to so police Papua as to prevent the sale of liquor to the natives. We should require to keep white policemen stationed in the neighbourhood of every licensed House.
– Black policemen, and not white policemen, would be required.
– If the honorable member had read one report of the Administrator he would know that black policemen are paid at the rate of £1 per annum, and that in no instance has a native policeman laid a complaint against any one in his own village. Prosecutions have been entered upon at the instance of others.
– Does the honorable member suspect that orgies have been going on ?
-I suspect that black policemen would be no better than white policemen, so far as the suppression of the illicit trade in liquor is concerned.
– The honorable member is putting his suspicion against the whole weight of the evidence.
– The honorable member adduced some evidence, which I think he would have done better to leave alone. He quoted the opinion of one missionary, to the effect that the natives would not acquire a taste for liquor, but that if they once did so, nothing but absolute prohibition would save them.
– I think that he said, “If the liquor got to them.”
– Yet the honorable member has’ quoted that evidence in support of his argument in favour of taking the liquor to the natives.
– It is stated that liquor does not reach the natives at present.
– The testimony of the missionary in question was to the effect that the natives do not like liquor, but that if they once did take to it, nothing but prohibition would save the race. Now, the honorable member for Wentworth is practically advocating that we should first of all afford opportunities to the natives for acquiring a taste for liquor, and becoming drunkards, and afterwards prohibit its sale in the Possession. I intend . to vote for . the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, with a view to preventing, as far as possible, any liquor reaching the natives.. State control, so far as this matter is concerned, would be an absolute farce, because the liquor sold by Government agents would prove as deleterious as that supplied by private persons.
– What inducement would be offered to Government agents to sell liquor to the natives?
– The Government agent would make his own profit on the sale of the liquor, and would have plenty of inducements to engage in illicit trade. I believe that any proper system of control over the liquor traffic in British New Guinea would prove too costly, and, therefore, I think that we had better prohibit its introduction into the Possession.
– I find myself in a . rather awkward position, owing to the amendment moved by the honorable member for . Herbert. Generally, I am a strong advocate for the State control of the liquor traffic, not only in British New Guinea, but throughout the Commonwealth. In regard to New Guinea, however, I strongly favour absolute prohibition. As an alternative, I should be disposed to support the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, but I find’ that I shall be precluded from adopting that course. Therefore, I intend to support the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I think that liquor, except so far as it may be required for medicinal purposes, should be excluded from British New Guinea. If provision is made in that direction, the white residents will be able to obtain all the liquor that is good for them, and we must trust the supervision exercised to prevent abuses. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said that we should accept the opinions of the missionaries upon this matter; but I attach no value to them. In the first place, the missionaries expressed an opinion with regard to the land question, which, if it had been followed, would have entirely changed the character of our legislation on that subject. In the second place, they have to keep on good terms with the few white residents in the Possession, because the population is not sufficiently large to enable them to occupy an independent position. The honorable member for Fremantle has expressed himself in favour of local option. That is another principle in which I believe; but I do not see how it can be applied to the circumstances of British New Guinea. If we granted local option to the mere handful of white people who are settled in the Territory, the traffic carried on with thenapproval might prove . highly prejudicial to the natives. The natives could not express a proper opinion on a traffic they did not know much about. It is all very well to say that at present the natives no not obtain liquor, but I feel sure that the experience gained in every other country with an inferior native population will, sooner or later, be repeated in New Guinea. In South Australia hotel-keepers and others are prohibited from supplying liquor to aboriginals, but aboriginals the worse for liquor are frequently seen.
– That occurs only in a very few cases.
– If the right honorable gentleman went to Thursday Island, where the restrictions upon the sale of liquor are very drastic, he would find the kanakas openly frequenting the publichouses, right under the eyes of the police officials.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– The honorable member cannot know what he is speaking of if he says that.
– Has the honorable member ever been there?
– I contend that ample proof has been afforded of the correctness of my statement. Perhaps the honorable member will say that the kanakas at Bundaberg have not acquired a taste for liquor? They actually take charge of the town at times. I feel sure the honorable member for Herbert will admit that the restrictions imposed upon the sale of liquor are being abused at Thursday Island. As a matter of fact, they are being abused in every capital throughout the Commonwealth. In view of the fact that we cannot adequately police such a large territory as New Guinea, the unrestricted importation of intoxicants into the Possession must prove disastrous in the extreme. I look upon the natives of that Territory just as I do upon my own children. So far as the liquor traffic is concerned, they are absolutely unsophisticated. They do not know the effects of strong drink, and it behoves us who do to see that the evils which have been perpetuated in other parts of the Empire do not obtain root there. I cannot vote in favour of local option, or of a proposal to bring the traffic under State control, seeing that there is an opportunity to obtain prohibition.
– When this matter was formerly under discussion it was debated at considerable length upon the information which was then at our disposal. We are now in possession of further information in the shape of reports from various missionaries in New Guinea, who ought to be specially interested in the question. The striking feature in connexion with these reports is that, with one or two exceptions, their authors-, are absolutely opposed to prohibition. They seem to think that such a system could not be enforced, and they certainly possess local knowledge to which honorable members cannot lay claim.
– Their statements in regara to land-leasing are also based upon their local knowledge.
– But I am dealing with the question of liquor traffic. Whilst it is true that we must pay a certain amount of regard to the interests of the 600 white settlers in New Guinea, we have a special duty to perform towards the 460,900 natives of that Territory. I do not think that the strongest opponent of the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will argue that intoxicating drink is good for the natives. Although it may be urged! that it is beneficial to the white population, and that climatic conditions are such as to require the use of a stimulant, it is our duty if possible to prevent the introduction of the drink curse amongst the natives of New Guinea. We cannot fail to recognise that every inferior race with which we have been associated- and Anglo-Saxons have been the greatest colonizing influence of modern times - has gone down before us. In Australia we have very striking evidence of the dire effects of the drink traffic. The native population of this continent - ‘ although they occupied’ a very low position in the scale of civilization - were not addicted to the drink habit in any shape or form. But as soon as they came into contact with the white races they acquired the habit as if they had behind them the hereditary tendency of centuries. The result is that they have completely disappeared from centres which, within the memory of white people, were densely populated by them. What reason have we to suppose that similar re- suits will not follow the introduction of intoxicants into New Guinea? Some honorable members would have us believe that the natives of the Possession are differently constituted from those of other places. I refuse to believe that. They will be degraded and demoralized by drink just as readily as were the aboriginal natives of Australia. I know that, in the early days, drink was frequently employed in Australia for the purpose of purchasing aboriginal labour.
– Has the honorable member any evidence that there was much of that sort of thing?
– There was a good deal of it.
– I do not think so.
– I know that in the early days the services of aborigines upon stations were paid for not in money but in rum.
– In my own State.
– More natives died from disease than from drink.
– There is no doubt that disease claimed a certain number of victims, but the fact remains that drink was the more potent influence in demoralizing and destroying the natives. I do not desire ‘ that there shall be a repetition in New Guinea of that which any one may see taking place wherever aborigines are to be found in Australia. I have met with hundreds of natives in my time, but in the whole of my experience have known of only a native here and there who was not addicted to drink, and prepared to sell his soul for a glass of grog. I do not desire a repetition of this state of affairs in Papua, and I therefore propose to repeat the vote for prohibition which I gave when the Bill was before us last session.. It may be true that the principle cannot be enforced in Papua ; but no one can speak authoritatively on the point until we have given it a fair trial. If as the result of our experience we find that pro- hibition cannot be applied to the Territory, it will toe open to us to adopt some other system to cope with the evil. I believe that the most effective course to adopt would be that of placing the traffic under State control. Whilst the missionaries, whose evidence has been placed before us, are opposed to prohibition, they show that the present system is far from what could be desired. They claim “that the drink traffic has not extended to any perceptible degree to the coloured races, but they admit that it is having a demoralizing effect on the white residents, and therefore its indirect influence on the natives must also be demoralizing. They tell us of scenes that are enacted on the gold-fields which certainly are not creditable, and I think we should endeavour to put an end to them. In the interests of the coloured races of British New Guinea I propose to vote for prohibition. If the experiment proves to be a failure, I shall then be ready to join with others in an effort to meet the evil in some other way.
– I should not have spoken, but for the statement made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that at Thursday Island and Bundaberg there were kanakas in charge of hotels. I wish to deny that assertion. The liquor laws of Queensland are even stricter than are those of Victoria: From many years’ experience as a licensing magistrate, I can say that a license is not issued to either a kanaka or any other coloured person in Queensland. When this Bill was before us last session I voted for the proposed new clause, and I intend to do so again, unless it be withdrawn in favour of that foreshadowed by the honorable member for Cowper.
– We agree to the honorable member for Cowper’s proposal.
– I understood on Friday last that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports had withdrawn his amendment.
– I was not allowed to do so.
– Perhaps the proposed new clause foreshadowed by the honorable member for Cowper would be an improvement on that moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, although I think that the latter would carry out the object that we have in view. The principle of prohibition, which we have been discussing, has been advocated for many years, and I regard it as a very important one. We are now passing a law for the administration of a new Territory, and I think we should avail ourselves of the opportunity to put the principle to the test, and see how it will work. Papua, so far, is inhabited by a few hundred white persons, and some hundreds of thousands of native races, and I think that we ought to put the principle of prohibition to the test before any vested interests are created there. It would be difficult, for instance, to apply prohibition to Victoria, because of vested interests.
– And it would, be inconvenient for many of us.
– No doubt it would. Like the right honorable member for Swan, I occasionally take spirits for medicinal purposes. We are told in the Scriptures that we should use a . little wine for our stomachs’ sakes. I hope that honorable members will vote as they did last session for the proposed new clause, for I believe that it would improve the Bill to a very great extent.
Question - that the words “ under Government control ‘ ‘ proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I hope that we shall not take a vote upon the question now before the Committee under a misapprehension. Some honorable members voted in the last division in favour of State control as an alternative to prohibition. I have previously indicated’ .that I desire to see the principle of local option applied in British New Guinea. We shall thus ascertain the opinion of those who are most concerned, and who have the right to say whether liquor shall be introduced or not. The white population of New Guinea ought to be consulted. I desire, therefore, to move an amendment, with the object of providing that a poll of the white inhabitants shall be taken in order to ascertain their wishes. I move -
That after the word “except” the words “by consent of the European residents” be inserted.
I think that on that amendment we can test the question as to whether local option should be allowed.
– The honorable member will not test local option by his amendment.
– I think I shall, and if the honorable member for Barrier does not believe that my amendment will cover the question he can move some other. I believe that we should consult the white residents of the Territory before we impose upon them something which we would not permit any one to impose upon us without our consent first being asked.
– I desire to raise the question whether the amendment moved by the honorable member will not interfere with the amendment of which I have already given notice.
– The honorable member for Cowper has circulated a new clause. Does the honorable member desire to move his new clause as an amendment upon the clause before the Committee? I point out to the honorable member that after the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fremantle is disposed of, it will be quite competent for him, if that amendment is not carried, to move his proposed new clause, with a slight alteration, as an amendment of the clause before the Committee.
– I understood the honorable member for Cowper to suggest that his proposed new clause might be taken as an amendment of the clause before the Committee. If I remember rightly, it was so framed as to suggest the omission of al) the words after the word “ that “ in this clause, with a view of inserting the words which the honorable member proposes.
– I point out to the honorable member for Parramatta that, by a division on an amendment submitted to the Committee, the words of the clause before the Committee down to the word “ except,” have been agreed to, and, under ourStanding Orders, it is not competent for an honorable member to move an amendment on a previous part of the clause.
– It is surely a wellknown rule that a prior amendment should be given preference.
– I point out to the honorable member that I have in my hand the proposed new clause circulated by the honorable member for Cowper, and it is not to be submitted as an amendment uponthe clause proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– I am opposed to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Fremantle, because of the use of the” word “European.” The drink question is of as much importance to the black people in New Guinea as it is toEuropeans.
– Under the existing law the giving of drink to the blacks is prohibited.
– If the word “European” is left out of the amendment, I shall be prepared to support it.
– I am for prohibition so far as the natives are concerned.
– I am not prepared to allow the 600 whites who are said to be resident in New Guinea to vote on this question, if a vote on it is denied to the 460,000 natives to whom the matter is of just as much importance. I am not opposed to the principle of local option, but I do not think the amendment will give effect to that principle.
– The honorable member for Barrier has thrown a new light upon democracy in suggesting the exercise of local option by the natives of New Guinea. I have considerable sympathy with the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Fremantle, that there should be some, form of local option amongst the white residents of New Guinea. I think, however, that it must be confined to the white residents. I had drawn up an amendment on much the same lines by way of addition to the clause proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. In framing legislation, we should look, not only to what has gone before, but to what is likely to follow, and I remind the Committee that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has circulated an amendment, which it is proposed to move later on, providing that no liquor of any kind shall under any circumstances be distributed amongst the black population.
– We can all support that.
– I am satisfied that the honorable member will be prepared to support that, and I hope that support will be given to the honorable member’s amendment.
– I have some doubt whether the amendment proposed by the honorable member’ for Fremantle will take in the whole of the white residents in New Guinea. The amendment appears to me to limit the local option vote to Europeans. I am aware that there are American citizens resident in New Guinea who would not thank any one wiho referred to them as Europeans. If the honorable member proposed that the consent of all white residents, or of all residents of European descent must be obtained, if might overcome my objection. I believe that the amendment as submitted does not cover all the ground that should be covered.
– The amendment is absolutely, impracticable. It would be impossible to take a local option vote of the white population of New Guinea under existing conditions.
– Could it not be done by the post?
– It could not be done, because the white population is so scattered, and special machinery would have to be provided. I would ask honorable members to consider how long it would take to secure a vote of the white residents of the Territory. It would take about twelve months to have a poll, but if it only took a week, a day, or an hour, what about, the 460,000 other people who ought to be considered - the native population whom it is our bounden duty to protect from the drink evil? It is all very well to talk about local option, but the black people who will be affected have as much right to consideration as have the whites. I am surprised to hear a proposal to give control to a small minority of white people in a matter so closely related to the physical and moral welfare of the large majority of the inhabitants of the country.
– Does the honorable member favour a poll of the natives?
– No ; because the natives would not know what they were voting about. The proposal before us is a farce.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I am very sorry, indeed, to have to again call honorable members’ attention to the fact that it is very exhausting to be continually calling them to order. I do not know why this question should cause so much excitement, and I hope honorable members will discuss it calmly.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- With all respect, I must say that I regard the proposal as a travesty upon local option. It is proposed to give 500 or 600 white people in New Guinea the right to decide the liquor problem for half a million other residents.
– The proposal is that the white people shall decide the matter for themselves only.
– How can the question be limited to the white people? The only point is as to how the liquor traffic is likely to affect the black population; if the proposal be confined to the whites there is no problem to solve. We have to look after the interests of the black population, which numbers about 1500,000, as against 500 white settlers. When the House was asked a little while ago to give the white population the right to elect members of the Legislative Council, we were told that it would be impossible, owing to the scattered settlement of the white population, to secure anything like a proper expression of opinion.
– Did the honorable member vote against giving that power to the white population ?
– No ; I am prepared to give the system a trial, but I am not prepared to allow 500 people to legislate for 500,000.
– The white people will legislate only for themselves; there is no question asto the inadvisableness of supplying the natives with liquor.
– If that can be guaranteed, I shall be prepared to fall in with the proposal, but I am not clear on the point.
– A clause could be inserted to that effect.
– As to the suggested new clause by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, what does it mean but the regulations which obtain at the present time? When Ihave regard to the great mass of the population of New Guinea, in regard to whom we have special responsibilities, the proposal presents itself to me as a travesty upon local option.
– Wehave got into a mixed condition in regard to the amendments before us. Honorable members are unanimously in favour of prohibiting the sale to the coloured population, who could not reasonably be consulted as to whether they should or should not be permitted to drink.
– The sale of drink to natives is at present prohibited by law.
– And consequently the natives are not in a position to judge from experience whether drink is good or bad for them. It is also very well known that the coloured residents do not encourage the visits of white men.
– Except for cannibalistic purposes.
– A few white men were tasted, and were judged to be very acceptable. The natives have very decided alien restriction legislation, so that there is very little inducement for visits from white men. One adult one vote is a sound democratic principle, but it appears that we have to give it up because of our inability to reconcile it with other legislation we have passed. I agree with the honorable member for Canobolas, that it seems rather extraordinary that we should have refused the white residents the power to elect their own Government and deal with their own affairs, while in the matter of the liquor traffic we are invited to allow them to decide for themselves. I voted previously for the State control of the liquor traffic, because I thought that the most practicable method ; and the mover of the amendment, if he favours a vote of the white people - which I am not disposed to oppose - ought to provide that they shall decide whether , there should be State control. If the power be given to the white residents, I desire to see it provided that they may decide whether there shall be prohibition or State control of the liquor traffic, though they have already been denied a measure of selfgovernment. I am sure that none of us would like any outside body to interfere with the liquor traffic so far as it concerns ourselves, because, while such interference might not affect all of us personally, there is a principle involved. I am opposed to an unrestricted liquor traffic in New Guinea, and desire it to be made clear that no drink shall be sold to the natives.
– I think it is quite clear, from the last division, what is the sense of the Committee, and I hope we shall not waste any more time.
– With all respect to the Prime Minister, this is such a serious question, having regard to New Guinea and its development, that while we certainly should not waste time-
– Does the honorable member think that the development of. New Guinea depends on whisky?
– Not on whisky alone; but, judging by the evidence of those who know New Guinea, as neither myself nor the honorable member does, it is evident that they think the point of immense importance.
– They said the same about the land question - that if we dealt with that question as we proposed, we might as well “ shut up “ New Guinea.
– I do not think they have said that.
– I can assure the honorable member that they have.
– This law will not be unalterable.
– I suppose not. But whilst it is not necessary to waste time, I think that the suggestion that a poll of the white residents of New Guinea should be taken might be reasonably considered by those who desire that liquor shall not be imported into the Territory. Whether it be limited to them or not is a matter of detail, though I do not think that there is any practicable value in the suggestion of the honorable member. With regard to the remarks of the honorable member for Canobolas, the law at present prohibits the supplying of liquor to natives, and if local option is carried it can be made clear that the prohibition affecting natives will still be retained in the Constitution. I hope that honorable members will take this matter into earnest consideration. What we are concerned with is not so much the giving of effect to an abstract idea as the practical working out of the destinies of New Guinea.
– We do not know exactly what the amendment is.
– The effect of the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle is that prohibition shall not be operative unless approved by a majority of the white residents of New Guinea.
– European residents ! That will shut out Australians.
– That is a quibble which I did not anticipate from the honorable member. We can, however, speedily remedy that mistake.
– I hope that the Committee will not accept the amendment. We have obtained the opinions of white men in the Territory in regard to both this question and. the land question, and it is notorious that the opposition to the proposals of the Government in regard to the land question embodied in the Bill is so strong that that expression of opinion has not been printed.
– I do not think that that is so, from what I have heard.
– I am stating a fact.
– I do not think that it is a fact.
– The views of the settlers in regard to the liquor question have been published, but not those in regard to the land question. Has the honorable member for Bland seen them?
– I have ‘ ascertained that the majority of the people there have taken no action in these matters.
– If the honorable member will go through the papers he will see that my statement, that the opinions expressed against the leasing of land are so strong that the Government have refrained from publishing them, is correct.
– How many expressed an opinion ?
– As many as expressed an opinion on the liquor question.
– That is very few.
– There are even more important questions than the liquor question in regard to which we are voting without first asking the opinion of the white residents of New Guinea, whom our legislation will affect. As New Guinea is a black man’s and not a white man’s land, it is our first duty to preserve the native population, and I hope the Committee will reject the amendment in order to secure the object which we have in view, the prohibition of the importation of liquor.
– The speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was marked by that lack of reasoning, and that absence of logic which has characterized the speeches of those who have advocated the policy with which he is associated. He tried to show an analogy between a land policy and what is a matter of personal taste. The question of land alienation is one with which we can deal broadly in the interests of the natives, of the white population of New Guinea, and of Australia as a whole. The liquor question, however, is a different matter. I think that any reasonable community will agree that the individual should decide for himself whether he will drink alcoholic beverages, or be contented with water, and I intend, therefore, to support the honorable member for Fremantle in proposing what I thought embodied the whole principle for which reasonable teetotallers have fought.
– I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Fremantle will be carried, and that the Committee will not allow themselves to be bluffed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, or led astray by the honorable member for Canobolas. The clauses of which the honorable member for Bendigo has given notice should be sufficiently stringent to please the most restrictiveminded individual in the community. The first of those clauses prohibits the supplying of liquor to the natives, and the second empowers any Government officer to confiscate liquor found in the possession of the natives, while there are penalties ranging up to two years’ imprisonment for any infraction of these provisions. Surely those who are to be affected by this legislation should be permitted to express their opinion upon it. Could anything be more unreasonable than for seventy-five men who are never likely to go to New Guinea to say what the white persons there are to eat or drink?
– What about the other provisions in the Bill?
– For the past nine months the honorable member for Lang and one or two others have been asking for unrestricted liberty, but when one scratches the Russian he discovers the Tartar, and we now find that no one is more desirous of putting restrictions upon individual liberty than are .these honorable gentlemen.
It is a most astonishing thing to me to find the honorable members for Lang and Cowper advocating the most extreme restrictionist policy which could be imagined. The extent to which they are carrying their ideas is indicated by the fact that they are prepared to prevent white settlers from having any voice as to what liquor they shall consume. Notwithstanding that a Local Option Bill has been described as a measure to permit one man to prevent another man from having a glass of grog, yet there is a good deal to be said in favour of the principle. But those honorable members do not believe in local option. All they wish to do is to prevent other persons from satisfying a natural desire.
– An unnatural desire.
– Wherever the honorable member can rope a man in and pin him fast to some idea, he will. It saddens me to see my honorable friends on this side who have been such ardent champions for liberty refusing to grant ordinary liberty to the people of New Guinea. I am informed that those on this side who voted for the prohibition amendment say, “ In this Constitution, we have refused a vote to the white settlers,” and on that analogy they attempt to argue that therefore prohibition is necessary on the island, A more confused idea of logic I have never yet heard.
– If honorable members will not give the people of the island a vote for everything, why give them a vote with respect to one thing?
– I am quite prepared to trust the Executive council of the Territory ; but the honorable member will not go to that length. Any one who ‘has read the printed evidence carefully and dispassionately must come to the conclusion that the existing restrictions are sufficient for any reasonable-minded man; with one exception, every clergyman and missionary said that they are. A considerable number of missionaries and clergymen said that, although they had been strict teetotallers on the Continent, yet the climate of the island was such that a glass of alcoholic liquor under some circumstances was absolutely essential. In spite of that evidence, honorable members insist upon thrusting their ideas on the people of New Guinea. Like most ‘honorable members, I was approached at the last general election by the party advocating prohibition, and this local option amendment meets exactly the views which I then advocated.
– The temperance party in Victoria is against anything of the kind. It is confusing principles when the honorable and learned member’ says that this is a local option amendment.
– When I was questioned at the last general election as to this vote, I took an attitude which I can fit in exactly with this local option amendment. I said that I should allow the white residents to decide whether they should have liquor or not, but that I would prohibit liquor being supplied in any form to the natives, and empower the Government to fine in the heaviest possible manner any person found guilty of that offence, and to confiscate the liquor. The amendment before the Chamber carries out the idea here. I then expressed myself as being in favor of local option, and the amendment, which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has given notice of will carry out the other idea. Those who believe in temperate living, and in a temperate consumption of alcoholic liquor as I do, ought to support the amendment. Only upon one occasion since I have been a Member of Parliament, which has been for about three years, have I consumed liquor in Parliament House, and that was when three gentlemen who have just voted for total prohibition, persuaded me to join them.
– What did thev have?
– They had whisky, and I had a “soft” drink. While I am temperate in the consumption of liquor, I am also temperate in applying my temperance principles to other persons. When I joined those three prohibitionists, I did not seek to force my will upon them. They wanted alcoholic drink, and I let them have it. All I asked for was that I should be allowed to. have a temperance drink, and I took it. The amendment of the honorable member for Fremantle ought to be supported by reasonable-minded men who believe in temperance, live temperately, and wish to see other people doing the same Coupled with the amendment given notice of by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, it should remove all reasonable ground for suspicion that the natives might be injured by the consumption of liquor in any shape or form.
– I intend to oppose the amendment, because, on general principles, I am in favour of local option. If it were to be applied to Australia, I should be quite satisfied; but the Prime
Minister stated the other day that .we. in Australia would have to consider the welfare of the 400,000 natives in British New Guinea, and not the 600 white settlers, who had gone there principally to do the best they could for, and who were quite prepared to look after, themselves. I take it that the country belongs to the natives, and that if drink is likely to injure them in any form, we should not sanction the” introduction of drink, merely for the sake of pleasing the 600 w’hite settlers. The recent division indicated very plainly the opinion of the Committee on this subject. I do not speak merely as a total abstainer, but I look upon this question as one which demands that we shall pay regard to the interests of the majority of the people concerned. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has stated that the majority of the people are entitled to have their wishes respected. In this case we represent the majority of the people - the 400,000 natives who live in the Possession - and we are bound to legislate in their interests. We are told that the natives are not able to obtain drink, and that there is no danger of opportunities being presented to them for cultivating a. taste for it. We have evidence, however, that some of the natives do obtain drink.
– Only one case of that kind is reported.
– No doubt there have been many others, because, as has been pointed out, it would have been impossible for the white residents in Papua to consume all the liquor imported into the Possession. It is a pity that confusion should have arisen, and that honorable members were not free to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert as an alternative to the proposal contained in the clause as proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I trust that whatever may be the opinions of honorable members with regard to local option as a broad’ principle, they will npt ‘think of applying it to the case of New Guinea, but that they will fully consider the claims of the blacks to protection from the evils of the drink traffic.
– If the local option principle were applied to the case of New Guinea, the 600 white residents would have the right to impose drink upon the 400,000 natives.
– No ; there is an ordinance at present prohibiting the sale of liquor to the natives.
– Am I to understand that the 400,000 blacks are to have votes - that the missionaries in the stomachs of the cannibals will be entitled to vote on this question? The white residents should not be permitted to shape and mar the destinies of the 400,000 natives. The white residents went to New Guinea to better their financial positions. They did not go there for their health, or because of their love of country, or of the blacks. They went there to make a profit out of the blackfellows, and they are entitled to exactly the same rights as the natives enjoy, and no more.
– Are the red Indians in the United States entitled to vote?
– No; and they are not allowed to have drink.
– Nor are the natives of British New Guinea.
– If any man supplies an Indian with drink, he is very quickly transferred to dry Tartugas. There is no analogy between the cases in the United States which embraces a welladministered territory 4.000 miles long by 3,400 miles broad, and that of Papua. British New Guinea is far removed from the centre of government, and we should not permit the few white people there to run the country. I shall vote against permitting 600 white men to poison 400,000 natives. If the white settlers are not satisfied to live in New Guinea they should leave it.
– I do not wish’ to prolong the debate, but I have heard so much with regard to the dire results to the natives that are expected to follow the sale of intoxicants to white persons in British New Guinea, that I desire to say a word or two. I believe that for every aboriginal who has died in Australia from the effects of alcohol fully a hundred have succumbed to diseases brought here by the white race. I have had some experience, and I have lived long enough to know how the aborigines in the settled districts of Western Australia were almost removed from the face of the earth. If other honorable members are old enough to remember the conditions under which the aboriginalsin other States have been decimated, they will bear me out when I say that the evils of drink, so far as they apply to the aborigines, although regrettable, have been overstated. I remember that, when I was a boy, many hundreds of aborigines died from a very severe epidemic of measles. Influenza also carries them off in large numbers every year. The havoc wrought amongst them by disease has been far greater than that which has resulted from the use of strong drink. Of course, in some of the towns decrepit and demoralized aborigines are to be seen, but these bear no comparison to the many hundreds of aborigines to be found in other parts of the State, who know little about strong drink. In the northern parts of Western Australia, of which I have personal knowledge, except for a few aborigines who are to be found in the towns, the natives obtain no strong drink whatever. The natives along the north-west coast and in the Kimberley district, except in a few towns, have no means whatever of obtaining intoxicants, and the laws are very stringent in punishing any one supplying it to them. It is very easy to make sweeping statements to the effect that our aborigines have been decimated owing to the excessive use of intoxicants, but in comparison with other influences which have tended to thin their ranks far fewer deaths can be attributed to the drink evil. Statements have been made, which I do not care to pass unchallenged, in reference to the .terrible cruelties practised’ upon the aborigines by the pioneers of this continent. I should like to place those wise-acres who talk so glibly in that manner in the position of the early settlers of Australia, and to see how they would act in face of the trials, difficulties, and dangers by which they were confronted. It is all very well for the honorable member for Franklin to talk about a “ black page “ in our history, but he should recollect that in making observations of that character he is reflecting upon those whom we are most proud of. I have no sympathy with the desire of the total abstainers in this House, who wish to apply their theories to the far-off country of New Guinea. I think it would be much more reasonable if they sought to give effect to their principles much nearer home. Most, of us possess very little knowledge of New Guinea, and apparently some honorable members are not prepared to respect the opinions of those who have had experience of it. I regard the proposal under, discussion as altogether too drastic in character. I do not see why we should prohibit the importation of intoxicants into the Territory, for the use of the white population.’ seeing that in other parts of the Pacific Ocean, where the aborigines have come into contact with white men under British rule, effect has not been given to such an extreme proposal. 1 do not knowthat the Fijians have been decimated owing to intoxicants being sold to white persons in the islands which they inhabit, under strict supervision. Of course, nobody desires that the natives should be allowed to obtain drink, nor does any one wish to see the aborigines injured. I am very glad indeed to find that honorable members are animated by such a strong feeling of brotherly love for the natives of New Guinea. It, however, contrasts strangely with the sentiments which I have heard so often expressed upon previous occasions with regard to coloured races. Personally, I see no reason why a resident of New Guinea should be absolutely prevented from keeping within his own house whatever wines, spirits, or beer he may require.
– I would remind the right honorable member that the proposal under consideration has reference to local option.
– I prefer local option to no option at all, and, therefore, I shall support any proposal in preference to one for the enforcement of absolute prohibition.
Mr. WILKINSON (Moreton).- It seems to me that this question resolves itself into whether seventy-five members of this House - most of whom know little or nothing of the conditions obtaining in New Guinea - are going to declare that intoxicants shall not be introduced into the Territory, or whether the 500 or 600 white residents there shall be allowed to determine the matter for themselves. I am of opinion that it. would be safer to adopt the latter course, and consequently I shall support the ‘amendment of the honorable member for Fremantle A great deal of false sentiment has been uttered in reference to this question. As an Australian of fifty years’ standing, I repudiate a good deal of what has been said concerning the treatment of the aborigines, and, in this connexion, I can indorse most of the remarks of the right honorable member for Swan. When we speak of loving these people, I should like to ask what love they have exhibited for us ? We have taken their country from them, and the universal law of the survival of the fittest has prevailed. Despite all the sentiment in which we may indulge, the fact remains’ that the white man has gained permanent possession of Australia and of New Guinea. I have no desire to unduly hurry the departure of the black man. On the contrary, I wish to see him accorded all the privileges to which he is entitled; but, at the same time, I cannot fail to recognise that the doctrine of the survival of the fittest must assert itself, despite any legislation which we may enact. I do not think that the proposal of the honorable member for Fremantle covers all the ground, but, in my judgment, it offers the best possible solution of a difficult problem, and consequently I intend to support it.
– It seems to me extraordinary that theorists who cannot give effect to their principles in Australia under highly-civilized conditions should attempt to force them upon the people of New Guinea, although they are absolutely ignorant of the conditions obtaining there. It is admitted that at the present time a very heavy penalty is imposed for supplying intoxicants to the native races, for whom we hear so much sympathy expressed. What is to prevent this Committee from enacting the continuance of that penalty under the provisions of this Bill? Why should we attempt to enforce our theories as to the conditions under which whites shall settle in British New Guinea, and give them no opportunity to say what those conditions should be? Are we going to allow things to drift, or to place difficulties in the way of the development of the Territory ? It appears to me that some honorable’ members would give effect to their individual opinions, even if they knew that the result would be to retard the settlement of the Territory. The missionaries say that it is unnecessary at present to do anything in the direction of prohibition, and those who are inclined to support that view are twitted as to the position they took up in regard to land settlement. I am amongst those who regret very much that the Government in charge of the measure at the time gave way to theorists in the matter of land settlement in British New Guinea. ; but it is not to be said that, because we have failed in one duty we should fail in another. I think it is a reasonable proposal to allow the white people who settle in the Territory to say under what conditions they desire to live. It is unlikely that men will go to Papua in search of a perpetual holiday ; they will go there for their material welfare.
– We are thinking of the spiritual welfare of the coloured races.
– Those who are directly charged with the duty of looking after the spiritual welfare of the coloured races of Papua have given us the best possible evidence that the fad proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would not tend to their spiritual welfare.
– The honorable member is referring to a wholly different amendment.
– They say that the conditions at present prevailing are fairly satisfactory.
– Thev do not. ‘
– They state, at all events, in general terms that an attempt to apply prohibition to British New Guinea would completely fail.
– They do not even say that.
– That is the effect of- their statement.
– They say that it would be dangerous to the object we are seeking, to attain.
– The objects of the temperance party may be good and worthy, but amongst its members, as in other bodies, there are many with whom it is impossible to reason. If some of them saw a cork or an empty bottle on the roadside they would be prepared to build upon. it a monument of human wrecks. Those of the party who are most sincere will admit that their cause is often discredited by the actions of cranks. I think that the proposal made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is a fad, and those who support it are attempting to reduce their theory to practice under conditions of which they know nothing. Why not endeavour to apply prohibition here.
– We shall make an effort in that direction.
– Some persons have been anxious to do so for a long time, but no sane individual would support the proposal. I shall vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fiemantle, assuming that it will cover all white residents in British New Guinea, and will not necessarily be restricted to those of European extraction.
Question - That the words “ by consent of the European residents,” proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. LEE (Cowper). - I move -
That all the words after the word “ except,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ as hereinafter mentioned - No intoxicants ir opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory except under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor, including a provision that such importation or manufacture shall be for medicinal purposes only, and no intoxicants or opium shall be sold or otherwise disposed of in the Territory except for medicinal purposes, and on the order of a medical practitioner or person duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor. The penalty for contravention of this section is forfeiture of any goods illegally imported, manufactured, or sold, and a fine of not less than £5 or more than ^100. Every ordinance passed before the commencement of this Act, providing for or permitting the importation, manufacture, sale, or disposal of intoxicants or opium in New Guinea, is hereby repealed.”
I think this amendment puts the intention of the. Committee in a clear enough light. There can be no mistake about its meaning. The intention is to impose penalties upon any persons who contravene this provision. The amendment cannot be mis understood, and it will show clearly what the wishes of Parliament are. A great deal has been said about the hardship involved in white people not being able to get spirituous liquors if they are required. My amendment enables them to be obtained in certain cases.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin). - I must oppose this amendment. In the first place, the honorable member for Cowper submits the proposition that if a medical practitioner signs a prescription, a man in New Guinea can have all the whisky he desires. We might as well start a staggerjuicery up there at once. A provision of this sort was the very curse of the States of Maine, Vermont, and Kansas. The doctors used to prescribe whisky for almost every disease. . In the old days, the doctors bled their patients for everything. If a soldier had his leg shot off, the doctor came along and bled him in the other leg. They now prescribe alcohol for all kinds of complaints. With all due respect, and even reverence for medical men,. I maintain that the whole progress in medical science has been accomplished by the patients, and not by the doctors. This provision puts too great a power in the hands of the medical practitioner. It simply means that the doctors in New Guinea can grant a man the right to have all the whisky he wants. If we pass the amendment we shall simply turn British New Guinea into a whisky saloon to be run by doctors. If my honorable friend the member for Cowper had been in the American prohibition States in former days he would see the weakness of his idea. In the State of Maine the power to grant permission to use alcoholic liquors has now been intrusted to a Government Commissioner. In the same way, we should intrust the power to the Government Resident, or the resident magistrate. To that I should offer no opposition.
– When we are framing a Constitution for British New Guinea, and that I understand is the object of this Bill, we should deal with the matter in a sensible fashion, and honorable members should not attempt to impose upon the citizens of the Territory disabilities which they would not inflict upon the citizens of Australia. The chief argument used in favour of the clause is that if we leave to men the means by which they may become intemperate, they will be guilty of intemperance; but, on exactly the same grounds, it might be argued that if we do not deprive all men of the means of being incontinent, they will be guilty of incontinence. It is too absurd that we should have to listen to such arguments in this Chamber. Other members of the Committee are just as anxious as are honorable members who are advocating temperance that no liquor should be supplied to the natives. The regulations already in existence provide for that. In these days a man can purchase a still for£25, and these stills can be set up in New Guinea in a scrub through half-a-mile of which honorable members could not walk in a day. It will be impossible to prevent illicit distillation in New Guinea. We are telling the white residents of New Guinea, who are largely miners, who do not care twopence for laws of which they do not approve, that they shall not be able to get a glass of liquor, and as a result there will be many illicit stills established in the Territory, and twenty times as much liquor will be sold to natives as would otherwise have been sold. I object that honorable members who advocate temperance, and whose votes have shown how intemperate they really are, should suggest that other honorable members are not as anxious to prevent the sale of liquor to the natives of the Territory. It is, in my opinion, disgraceful that we should propose laws of this restrictive character. In New South Wales some twenty odd years ago, the duty on liquor was raised from 12s. to 14s. a gallon. I was surveying at the time, and I am in a ppsition to say that as the result of the increase of the duty, twelve months afterwards I could have pointed . to illicit stills throughout the district in which I was engaged which had never previously existed. We are to-day continually hearing of persons in the settled portions of Victoria and of New South Wales being fined up to £100 for having illicit stills. In some cases the attempt to promote temperance has had exactly the opposite effect, and it has led to the illicit distillation of bad spirits, which has been detrimental to the health of the people, as well as to the revenue. If the Committee is really in earnest in desiring to promote temperance amongst the natives . of British New Guinea, they will do nothing which will lead to illicit distillation. I remind honorable members that there is an inland border, extending for 800 or 900 miles between Dutch New Guinea and British New Guinea, and it will be impossible to prevent natives being engaged in the smuggling of spirits across that border. In the circumstances, if is absolutely ridiculous for us to insist on passing this clause. I have no hesitation in affirming that it will lead to an absolute disregard of the law, and will result in twenty times the quantity of liquor being sold to natives that is likely’ to be sold to them under existing conditions.
– The honorable and learned member suggests that if we make it more difficult for the whites to get liquor, we shall make it easier for the blacks to get it.
– I suggest that if we make silly laws against the sense of the white people of the community, the result will be disastrous.
– Are they all lawbreakers, then?
– I can assure the honorable member that he can find an illicit still in Waverley, near Sydney, to-day. I happened to hear from one of the inspectors who was appointed a short time ago that they knew of the existence of one there, but could not find it. I do not intend to further labour the matter. The majority of honorable members have just recorded a vote in what I have no doubt is an earnest desire to promote temperance; but the experience of half-a-dozen years will show a directly contrary effect. It will be seen that the vote to-night has inflicted a great injury on the community, in meting out to the citizens of one portion of the Commonwealth treatment different to that accorded to the people on the mainland. In view of the opinions expressed by the Bishop and missionaries of various churches against total prohibition, it will be seen that the Committee have made a serious mistake. Whatever the desire of honorable members may be in this direction, this Bill is not the place in which to express it. This ought to be a matter for regulations drawn up by the Lieutenant-Governor, and, perhaps, approved by this Parliament. That would, at any rate, have been a fair attempt to deal with the matter - an attempt by men who understand the question, and not by a lot of infants, whose action may have exactly the opposite result from that intended.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier).- I am very glad that the honorable member for Darwin has drawn attention to the effect of a portion of this amendment; and I was surprised to find the words referred to. I had been prepared to follow blindly the honorable member for Cowper ; so much so that I had not taken the trouble to peruse the proposal, really thinking that the honorable member for Cowper was sincere and honest on the question. Some time ago I had, perhaps, some little doubt as to whether it would be advisable to prohibit liquor in the case of those engaged in prospecting and kindred pursuits; but we were informed by the honorable member for Cowper that Dr. Livingstone, Stanley, and others had stated that drink under such circumstances is not necessary - that such work is better done without intoxicants. Yet here we have the honorable member for Cowper practically giving away the whole case, and prepared to permit doctors, or any other persons duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor, to dispense drink as medicine. Such a condition of things I regard as worse than State control, against which a number of us voted a little while ago. The present Prime Minister and his two predecessors are all in ‘favour of allowing intoxicants under certain conditions, on the ground that it is practically impossible for white people to live in such . a country without such stimulants. I am in favour of State control of things in general, and local option ; but now, after we have voted against State control and local option, we are led astray by the honorable member for Cowper.
– This is excellent fooling, and spends the time very, pleasantly ; but I remind the honorable member for Barrier that his strictures are entirely uncalled for. The language to which he takes exception is in the clause for which himself voted a short time ago.
– But, as I say, I voted blindly.
– The main clause provides that liquor may be dispensed for medicinal purposes by the order of a medical practitioner, or any other person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and the proposal before us does not in any way enlarge its operation - the words are a mere repetition, for the purpose, I suppose, of greater legal accuracy. If honorable members have the slightest regard to the value of public time, I make an earnest appeal to them to recollect the length of the discussion which has already taken place. The present proceedings do not add any dignity to the cause of temperance, or to any other cause, whatever it may be, involved in the matter. I make an earnest appeal to the Committee, in the interests of public business, to allow the question to be settled.
– The penalty of is, in my opinion,too small. I beg to move -
That the word “ five “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
– I am prepared to accept the amendment.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin). - I ask the honorable member for Cowper whether he will accept an amendment to omit the words “except for medicinal purposes “ ?
– That amendment cannot be proposed now.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports). - I should like to be permitted to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper. The honorable member’s proposal is the same as my own, but set out in legal phraseology.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I wish to point out that a technical offence might be met by the imposition of a very light fine. The hands of the magistrates are sufficiently tied by this proposal. If an offence were such as to demand the infliction of a higher fine than£5, the magistrate would be free to act accordingly. I submit that technical offences should not be so severely punished as is proposed, and that a certain amount of discretion should be left to the magistrate. I hope that the honorable member for Cowper will not accept the amendment to make the minimum penalty£5.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he believes that we are acting consistently in placing this new clause in the Bill? Shall we not infringe the provision which says that trade, commerce, and intercourse shall be absolutely free if we insert such a provision in the Bill? If we have not the power to insert it we are merely wasting time.
– I give my honorable and learned friend my solemn assurance that we have the power.
Amendment agreed to.
Question. - That the proposed new clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I have been asked by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to propose the insertion of the two new clauses, of which he has given notice. The clause which has just been inserted provides that no liquor shall be imported into the Territory, and imposes certain fines upon any person who has been convicted of selling liquor therein. The object of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is to insure that if liquor by any chance, in spite of the clause we have just passed, finds its way into New Guinea, none of it shall come into the hands of the natives there.
– Do not the proposed new clauses duplicate what we have already passed ?
– No. Under the clause just passed the ‘ordinances at present in force in New Guinea to prevent the natives getting intoxicants are repealed.
– I mean the clause just added.
– That does not deal with this matter. That clause provides certain penalties only in the event of intoxicants being imported or sold illegally to whites or blacks. Viewed from the point of view of protecting the latter, these penalties are not so severe as those which have so far proved so efficacious. We desire to insure that the protection in this regard which the natives at present enjoy will not unthinkingly be decreased by the prohibition proposal just passed.
– The proposed new clauses improve the Bill. The Government is prepared to accept them.
– Are they not a copy of the old ordinances?
– They are a copy of the ordinances at present in force.
– With the difference that they are now made permanent.
– Yes. I am sure that the Committee will support the proposals of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I have great pleasure in moving, without further remark -
That the following new clauses be added : - “ 20B. No person shall except under the pro visions of this Act, supply to any native by sale, gift, or in any other way, either directly or indirectly, any intoxicating liquor or opium, and any person offending against the provisions of this section shall be liable, on conviction, in a summary manner, to a fine of not less than Twenty pounds and not exceeding Two hundred pounds, and to imprisonment for any term not less than one month and not exceeding two years.” “ 20C. It shall not be lawful save under the provisions of this Act for any native to have in his possession any intoxicating liquor or opium and any such articles found in the possession of any native contrary to this section may be seized by any officer in the service of the Government, and be brought before any officer exercising judicial functions, who shall in a summary way direct that it be confiscated and that it be disposed of according to his discretion.”
Proposed new clauses agreed to.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- Before the Bill is reported, I wish to move the addition of the following sub-clause to the clause inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports : -
The foregoing section shall not preclude the Lieutenant-Governor arranging for the manufacture, importation, or sale of intoxicants or opium by his agents, and the receipts therefrom shall go into the Treasury of the Territory.
It may be found by experience that the new clause which was agreed to on- division, works injuriously to the natives of New Guinea. We, who voted against it, did so because we believe that it will create a greater evil than that which it seeks to remedy, in that it will cause the natives to enter upon the illicit manufacture of intoxicating liquor, or to become smugglers from German and Dutch New Guinea. I therefore desire it to be left to the Lieutenant-Governor to say whether the law is operating perniciously,. and if he is of opinion that it is, to give him power by the enforcement of this provision to negative the ill results. We are at ‘ present confessedly legislating in the dark, on theoretical, rather than on practical grounds. Those who are great adherents of temperance reform have no knowledge of the effect of applying this principle to the conditions of New Guinea, and therefore I think it would be wise to adopt some such safeguard as I now propose.
– What the honorable member proposes, if adopted, would reverse the decision of the Committee.
– No. My contention is that if the provision already carried proves pernicious, as I feel certain that it will, the application of the provision which I wish to insert will be a safeguard.
– The proviso is one which should have been moved as an addition to clause 20a.
– Cannot I move to insert it as a new clause ?
– It would be competent to move it as a new clause, if it did not limit the operation of a clause already in the Bill.
– Do you, sir, say that it does flmit another clause?
– I fail to see that it has that effect.
– The Committee have just passed a clause absolutely prohibiting the manufacture of spirits in the Territory. .
– I submit that the honorable member cannot insert the provision, because the Committee has decided against State control.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to recommitting the Bill, to give me an opportunity to do what I wish ?
– The honorable member’s proposal sets up an alternative which practically negatives the policy just agreed to by the Committee, so that I am afraid that a number of points of order would be raised if I consented to the recommittal. I would, however, remind him that the consideration of the Senate’s amendments in the Arbitration Bill was deferred until to-morrow in order that we might get through this Bill to-night, and send it on to the Senate.
– Then I shall not press the matter now, but endeavour to have the amendmentmoved in the Senate.
Preamble and title agreed, to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th October, vide page 5629) :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Power to make survey of route).
– It is with considerable regret that I rise to propose an amendment in a Bill in which a number of honorable members, including the right honorable member for Swan, take so keen an interest. I find myself in this position : I voted originally for the consideration of the measure, and afterwards for the second reading, because I wished to test in Committee the question which is at the bottom of my amendment. I have voted for the Bill so far, although I am opposed to the construction of the railway, because I wish now to prove whether or not the Western Australian representatives think that the verdict of the survey will be favorable to the construction of the line.
– The honorable member is not asked to vote for the construction of the railway now.
– Surely, if I am opposed to the construction of the railway, I must also, in order to be consistent, oppose the initial expenditure now contemplated ? I merely wish now to ascertain whether the representatives of Western Australia are prepared to back their opinion that the railway will prove a great success as a business undertaking. I move -
That the following proviso be added : - “ Provided that the States of Western Australia and South Australia, collectively or individually, undertake to refund to the Commonwealth the cost of this survey, in the event of the Commonwealth not deciding within two (2) years of the completion to construct the said railway.”
– Thank you, for nothing.
– The States concerned will, under my amendment, have an opportunity of proving that the railway is likely to be a good Commonwealth invesfment. They tell us it will prove of such a nature. But we are not here to carelessly accept their assurances. We are here as the trustees of the Commonwealth, and we are not entitled to spend money contributed by the whole of the States upon a work of this kind, unless we have some guarantee such as will be afforded by the proviso. . This Bill, although almost universally unpopular, has been pushed to the forefront because the representatives of Western Australia have consistently presented a solid front in advocating it. Successive Governments have felt themselves compelled1, owing to the exigencies of the political situation, to push forward the measure. The Bill, instead of being where it would long ago have been deposited if the feeling of the people of Australia could have been properly sounded, namely, in the waste-paper basket, has been in the forefront of every Government programme. Honorable members who are advocating the railway, say that it will prove a good business investment. If their views are found to be well founded, my proviso will have no effect, because it will come into force only in the event of the Commonwealth deciding not to construct the line. That is the main point upon which I depend for support.Surely we should not be called upon to pay for an experiment which, in the event of our afterwards not being prepared to construct the line, would not have conferred any benefit upon any but the two States immediately concerned. If we build the railway, we pay for the survey ; if we do not build the railway, the States whose representatives misled the Commonwealth into expending this money are to reimburse the amount - that is my proviso. The right honorable member for Swan and other representatives of Western Australia have told us that it is not only upon the ground of the cost involved that they appeal to this Parliament. They have informed us time and again that Western Australia cannot make any progress in this matter, because South Australia will not join in making the survey. I would point out, however, that if South Australia objects to the construction of the line, the Commonwealth will be powerless to proceed with the work.Subsection xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution confers upon the Commonwealth power to construct railways through the territory of any State with the consent of that State. Inferentially,” therefore, the Commonwealth cannot construct railways without the consent of the State or States through whose territory they will pass. And if we cannot construct- a railway, how can we constitutionally undertake the initial expenses of that railway?
– We can construct railways for defence purposes, and this line is required in that connexion.
– If the line is to be constructed solely for defence purposes, it has very small claim to our consideration, because the best authority that we had in the Commonwealth, the late General Officer Commanding, expressed the opinion that if we had to despatch troops to defend Western Australia, we should require to send forces such as do not exist in the Commonwealth at present.
– But surely we shall have such forces before the railway is completed ?
– Are, then, my honorable labour friends from Western Australia contemplating the establishment and maintenance of a huge standing army? I think that they are extending their arguments in favour of the railway to a ridiculous extreme.
– Will the honorable member’s object be accomplished if one of the States undertakes to refund the cost of the survey ?
– Yes. My amendment provides for the States collectively or individually undertaking to refund the cost. In view of the anxiety which the people of Western Australia have displayed to have the line constructed, I am sure that they will not hesitate to guarantee, in the event of their optimism proving unfounded, the repayment of a paltry£20,000. Therefore, I submit the amendment with the utmost confidence.
– The honorable member, for Wentworth has been very brief in placing his views before the Committee, and I shall endeavour to imitate his good example. I do not think that any State would care to have the principle which he wishes to establish applied to proposals for public works within its borders. To my mind, that principle is an utterly objectionable one. To provide that either South Australia or Western Australia, or both, should refund this money, if the line were not authorized within two years, would practically impose a legal obligation upon those States, from which they could not escape. I say that we should either throw this Bill out, or treat Western Australia as we would treat any other State of the Union.
– Will the Prime Minister make it his policy to compel the Commonwealth to pay for the railways of other States?
– I should be very sorry to give a blank promissory note on behalf of the public when I would not give one upon my own account. I can assure the honorable member that every proposal will receive my best consideration. By a large majority the House has affirmed the principle involved in the proposed survey. In Committee expression was given to the view that a certain area of land should be reserved upon either side of the proposed route, and the Parliament of Western Australia has given effect to our wishes in a way which I have never seen equalled. Both Houses of the State Legislature have guaranteed that an area of twenty-five miles on either side of the projected route shall be reserved.
– What about South Australia ?
– That is where the hardship comes in. There is a strong belief that in South Australia there are elements of opposition to the project which might lead to a practical denial of this survey, if it were dependent upon South Australian consent.
– That State ought to know its own business.
– Of course it ought. But I would point out to the honorable member that I am proposing this Bill from a national point of view. I entertain a very strong feeling in regard to it. I was very much gratified with the decision of the Committee to sanction the survey, with a view to ascertaining whether the enterprise is likely to prove justifiable from an Australian standpoint. The indirect results arising from an examination of this route may prove of vast importance. As honorable members are aware, some of our richest mineral discoveries have been made in the most hideous and unsightly spots on this continent. The survey proposed will cover a great stretch of country, and it is quite possible that it may lead to the discovery of valuable mineral resources.
– Would not an objection on the part of South Australia be fatal to the survey ?
– I am not going to search for obstacles in the path which I wish to follow.I desire to see this survey carried out. It cannot be carried unless we pass this Bill. If we authorize the survey, I do not anticipate that South Australia will play any unfriendly part by attempting to thwart our legislation.
– The Prime Minister has put the position very clearly from a Western Australian stand-point. He claims to represent that State, and accordingly “battles” for it. I represent a por- tion of Queensland, and therefore I intend to “battle” for it.
– The honorable member favours the payment of a bonus upon sugar.
– If the honorable and learned member for Parkes will propose to abolish the bonus I shall be found supporting him. Why should the Commonwealth be asked to construct a railway to Western Australia through South Australia, seeing that all the other States have had to bear the expenditure of constructing their own lines? At the present time the Treasurer of Queensland does not know where to turn to obtain his next £100, and yet Western Australia and South Australia wish to take ,£3,000 out of the coffers of that State to enable this survey to be undertaken. The proposal is nothing more nor less than political burglary. The right honorable member for Swan has repeatedly talked about the profits, amounting to millions of pounds, which are annually derived from the mines of Western Australia. Why does not that State expend a portion of that money for the purposes of the proposed survey?
– Within two years Queensland will have received £50,000 from Western Australia in respect of sugar.
– How much has Western Australia received from the other States of the Union? It cannot be denied that it obtains value for its money, otherwise it would take its business elsewhere. If the projected railway is likely to prove a financial success, Western Australia and South Australia should have no compunction whatever in giving this guarantee.
– Why should not they back their opinions?
– Exactly. It is like the right honorable member for Swan counselling me to invest money in a certain enterprise in which he does not care to risk anything himself. If the limitation of time proposed’ by the/ honorably member for Wentworth is too brief, I am quite prepared to see it extended to three, or even five years. I am sorry that the second reading of the Bill has been carried. It would not have been agreed to but for the personal popularity of the Western Australian representatives. They are pastmasters in the art of lobbying.
– That is not correct.
– I can assure the right honorable member that several of his colleagues have done a good deal of lobbying in con- 12 e nexion with this matter, and that some honorable members have supported the Bill out of pure friendship for them. I have a duty to perform to my constituents, and I cannot consent to calling upon Queensland to contribute £3,000 towards the survey of this projected line. I am not in favour’ of its construction, and I hold that if we vote for this Bill we shall practically commit ourselves to the support of that railway. ‘ I would’ urge honorable members to accept the amendment. If the Prime Minister thinks that the time limit fixed is too short, I am sure that the honorable member for Wentworth will agree to alter it from two years to five years. If the railway be not constructed within the next five years, I do not think that it will be built in our time. I trust that the survey will not be made, but .that the South Australian Government will continue to hold out for their constitutional rights.
– The honorable member is a great Federalist.
– I am such a Federalist that I do not propose to see the State which’ I represent robbed for the benefit of Western Australia. The right honorable member says that the mines of Western Australia show an annual profit of £6,000,000, and yet the Government of that State are now coming to us, cap in hand, and asking us to call upon a State which, can ill-afford it, to bear portion of the cost of making the survey. I trust that the amendment will be carried.
– I am by no means an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal to construct this railway. If I were asked to-night to express a definite and permanent opinion upon it, I should give a distinct negative. Mv personal opinion, founded upon a variety of .evidence, which I have had the opportunity to gather from different sources, is that the proposed line would run through a desert. But there are other considerations which touch this preliminary proposal. When the Bill was before .the House some weeks ago, I expressed the opinion that before we consented to the expenditure of £20,000 on the survey, we should hav.» some earnest from the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia as to their desire that the railway should be constructed, and I then expressed the opinion sufficiently plainly ‘that the Governments of those States should be asked to specially reserve the whole of the land for twenty-five miles on either side of the proposed line. I understand from the right honorable member for Swan, and also from communications which are open to the Committee that since that debate a resolution has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament of Western Australia specially reserving the whole of the land for twenty-five miles on either side of the line.
– In their own State.
– Our only object was that the land should be reserved, so that-
– I think the honorable and learned member is anticipating a further amendment. We are not dealing now with the question of reservation of land.
– I merely wish to show generally what I intended to convey on the occasion in question. I then expressed the opinion that we should either require the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia to find the money necessary to make this survey in the first place, on the understanding that it would be refunded in the event df the Commonwealth Parliament determining to construct the line; or that they should, as I have said, reserve the land for a distance of twenty-five miles on either side of the proposed route.
– Does the honorable and learned member know the monetary equivalent of this reservation of the land on either side?
– I do not think that any one knows.
– At its maximum value the land on the Western Australian side of the border would yield only£7,200 per annum.
– But the honorable member does not yet know with certainty the nature of the country. That is our difficulty. We are aware that a committee of engineers, including Mr. Deane, the EngineerinChief for New South Wales, has expressed the opinion that in a very few years the railway would pay, and that the country through which it would run is of such a character as to make it at least worth while to carry out a . survey. If, as the right honorable member for Swan reports, the lands which have been reserved will become valuable when the railway is constructed, we should be able to stipulate when the Bill providing for the construction of the line comes before the House, that the proceeds derived from the reservation be paid into a trust fund to recoup the Commonwealth for any loss upon the railway. That being so, I am perfectly satisfied now to support this Bill, providing for an expenditure of£20,000 on the survey, without the stipulation for which the honorable member for Wentworth asks. I mention this only to show that I have not changed my opinion, but that I ithink that the Western Australian Government, in so quickly responding to the wish expressed by the House, have given a substantial earnest of their desire for the construction of the line. We shall be able by-and-by, if the survey proves a very satisfactory one, to stipulate for some substantial guarantee from both States in consideration of their having so large a sum of money expended upon the survey.
– Although very strongly opposed to this proposed survey at the present time, I have hitherto preserved silence, out of deference to the feelings of the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Perth. The amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Wentworth certainly ought to be carried:. We have been told by the honorable and learned” member for Parkes that some great consideration has been extended to the Commonwealth.
– No; I said that the Government of Western Australia had shown some earnest of their desire.
– Some earnest of their intentions, by reserving the land- on either side of the proposed route. I should like honorable members to understand what this wonderful reservation really means. The distance between Kalgoorlie and the border is 450 miles, and a stretch of country 450 miles long by 50 miles wide covers an area of 14,400,000 acres. At the present time all this land may be taken up on lease for 10s. per thousand . acres per annum, but there are no takers. As an honorable and gallant member of another place has said, it is such confounded goat country that the State Government cannot get takers at that price. It is really not sheep but goat country. Honorable members who have read the reports issued by the various survey parties in Western Australia will know that the land is of very poor character. If the whole of the 14,400,000 acres were leased at a rental of 10s. per thousand acres per annum the revenue derived from it would be only ,£7,200 per annum. /The most sanguine estimate is that, at the outset, the loss on the running of the railway would be £70,000 per annum, so that even if we secured the revenue from the lease of the reservation we should still have to face a loss of over ,£60,000 a year. If South Australia adopted the same course the loss would be reduced by another ,£7,000 or ,£8,000 per annum, leaving a total loss of between £50,000 and £60,000 a year, if the whole of the land on either side of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta were reserved and leased in this way. These facts cannot be gainsaid. The Government of Western Australia offer liberal conditions to those who wish to take up land, and yet no one will touch this part of the country. The reservation, therefore, is practically of very little value.
– It is a sprat to .catch a mackerel.
– Exactly. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Wentworth would protect the revenue of the other States, and I am sure that hose who favour it would accept the suggestion made by the honorable member for Maranoa, ‘hat the time limit be altered from two to five years. I desire to move several amendments, which, I believe, will meet with the approval of the Committee. First of all, I would strike out the words “collectively or individually,” and insert the words “or one of those States.” That would be in accordance with the suggestion which has been made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. Then I would strike out the word “ two,” and substitute the word “five”; and after the word “completion “ I would insert the word “ thereof. “ The proposed proviso would then read -
Provided that the States of Western Australia and South Australia, .or one of these States, undertake to repay to the Commonwealth the cost of this survey, in the event of the Commonwealth not deciding within five years of the completion thereof to construct the said railway.
The honorable member for Wentworth has intimated that he will accept these amendments. The proviso as amended will embody a very modest request. We have heard much about what the other States have got out of the Union. All the States expected that they would get something out of Federation. But that is beside the question. Here is a new and totally unfore 12 e 2 seen expenditure, which we are asked to incur at the instance of the richest State in Australia - a State which, indeed, if we are to believe the right honorable member for Swan, is one of the richest in the world’.
– What has Victoria got out of Western Australia?
– Not a solitary copper. There is’ no income tax in Western Australia, such as we in the other States have to pay. Why does not the Western Australian Government take advantage of the advice of the Bulletin, and other newspapers, and impose proper taxation? Why does Western Australia need to come here and ask us for £20,000 ? I really think that the people of that State will take it as an insult if we vote this money. That is how I feel upon the subject, and it is only my high esteem for the representatives of Western Australia that has kept me quiet so long. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ collectively or individually,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ or one of these States “ ; that the word “ two “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “five”; and that after the word “completion” the word “thereof” be inserted.
– May I ask whether the vote on the amendments of the amendment will decide the whole question ?
– No ; these are merely verbal amendments, which do not touch the principle of the proviso, the insertion of which has been moved by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– Could we not decide the whole question by a vote upon the first of the amendments of the honorable and learned member for Wannon?
– I prefer to have a vote taken on the proviso, as amended.
Amendments of the amendment agreed to.
– I am very sorry that I should have to speak upon the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth. My inclination is altogether against doing so, seeing that the subject has been so fully debated on other occasions. I feel, however, that if I were to remain silent, my action and that of other representatives of Western Australia might be misrepresented. I -regret verymuch that the honorable member for Wentworth has moved the insertion of this proviso. It is a very small proposal to make in regard to a very big question - probably one of the biggest questions that this Parliament will have to deal with. To insert such an amendment’ would be to deal with the question in a’ very paltry spirit. If the Transcontinental Railway were intended merely for the benefit of the two States mentioned in the proviso, there might not be so. much objection to it. ;
– What other States will, benefit ? fi
– The honorable member for Maranoa has sat in this Chamber, and has heard me on many occasions point out that the railway is a great national project closely connected with the very Federation of Australia. I have said, times out of number, that there can be ; no real ‘Federation without this railway. Why did Western Australia enter the Union, if she is to be isolated, and is to have’ no direct means of communication by land with the eastern States? We might just as well expect New Z’ealand to join the Federation. Do honorable members think that the Western Australian people are content with a Federation merely in name?. Is it supposed that they are content to live in isolation,? That is not the Federation that we expected and desired.
– Is not this proposal an un- Federal act towards South Australia?
– I think that the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth is un-Federal. It is a small way of dealing with a big question, and is not worthy of this Parliament. Western, Australia before Federation was accomplished was always ready to join in any Federal project. There has not been a subject for which a Federal contribution was required to which Western Australia was not ‘always ready to contribute. She has been a good friend to many of the other States, and especially to Victoria. I have had occasion to say before that during the last ten years she has presented £2,000,000 to Victoria.
– And she has had 200,000 added to her population.
– The men who earned that money sent it to people in Victoria, who in ordinary circumstances might have been expected to expend it in Western Australia.
– They did £4,006,000 worth of work for it.
– Honorable members do not follow me. Men earn money in Victoria, but they do not send it to Western Australia; they spend it here.
– Are not 200,000 people of more value than £2,000,000?
– I am not saying anything about the people. Under ordinary conditions men spend’ their money in the State in which they earn it. What I say is that during ten years people resident in Western Australia have sent £2,000,000 to be spent in Victoria.
– Good luck to them !
– So I say, too ; but Victoria has benefited by their work in Western Australia.
– How much did they earn for Western Australia?
– I do not propose to enter into a controversy in support of a truism. I should have thought that it would have been clear to honorable members that if people working in Victoria sent their money to some other State, instead of spending it here, the other State would gain an advantage. If these hard-working men had gone away from Victoria to a place where they were unable to save money they could not have sent £2,000,000 back to their families in Victoria, as has, I am pleased to say, been the case with those who went to Western Australia. Western Australia is contributing without demur to the sugar bounty. When the Act dealing with the matter expires in two years’ time, Western Australia will have contributed £50,000 to the States of Queensland and1 New South Wales. I have heard no demur to that in Western Australia, because it is considered a national matter to which it is right we should all contribute. But when we come to deal with another matter >f great national importance for the benefit, not of Western Australia alone, but of the whole Commonwealth, some honorable members appear to desire to enter into some little pettifogging bargain about it.
– What does the right honorable gentleman call “ pettifogging ?” He does not want thousands, but millions.
– To show how the people of Western Australia view this matter, I may remind honorable members that they have undertaken to leave to this Parliament the sole decision as to the routs, and as to the gauge of the proposed railway. They have also undertaken to alter the gauge of the existing railway between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle, extending over 387 miles, to that decided upon by this Parliament for the proposed railway. It is estimated that it will probably cost £750,000 to alter the gauge, and put down heavy srails on the line between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle - an expenditure which is ‘really not necessary in the interests of Western Australia. The Western Australian railway gauge is 3ft. 6in., but, recognising that this is a great national trunk-line, the people of that State are prepared to undertake a large expenditure to secure a uniform gauge for this main line. I have spoken often on this matter, and have dealt with it on every occasion as. a national, and not as a parochial, question. I have no desire to deal with it in any other way. I have pointed out that this railway is necessary in the interests of Federation itself, because without it the Federation can never be anything but a name. I say deliberately that I would prefer that Western Australia should not be in the Federation rather than that she should remain isolated, as she is at present. Every one must admit that such a thing as that was never contemplated. We know the difficulties that surround the question.
– The right honorable gentleman must not discuss the main question. I must ask him to discuss the amendment.
– I think the amendment opens up a very wide question, but I shall try to confine my remarks to the matter immediately in hand. I consider the amendment quite unnecessary, and I hope that, having succeeded in prolonging the debate, in causing myself and others to speak when we did not desire to do so, and in obtaining the little notoriety which he probably desires, the honorable member for Wentworth will now withdraw his amendment.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is making this a parochial question. Probably I can see more plainly than do other members of the Committee that honorable members of this generation must die and a new generation be born before this Parliament will become national. Every question discussed in this House is discussed from the village blacksmith stand-point. The honorable member for Maranoa talks of the great State of Queensland being in a state of starvation. Other honorable members are talking of what Victoria has done for Western Australia. I say that, ten or twelve years ago, Western Australia was’ a god-send to Victoria. That State was the promised land, flowing with milk and honey, and people from Victoria went over there by every boat they could get to carry them. Many of them filled their pockets with gold and sent it back to their wives and children in this State. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been sent through the post-office from Western Australia to Victoria, and Victorians should be the last to oppose this proposal, involving a paltry £20,000. If he were imbued, with a truly national spirit, the honorable member for Wentworth would think nothing of paying the amount out of his own pocket. I remind honorable members that men and women who are subject to seasickness must, in existing circumstances, refrain from going to Western Australia. Years ago, when, in the United States, they started the Union Pacific Railway across the continent, no one was ever heard to oppose it. Every man and woman on the American continent helped to build it, because it was a national work, and meant connecting and cementing the people of all parts of the United States.
– Is that a Government work?
– The United States Government put millions of pounds into the Union Pacific Road. If they had not subsidized it the railway would never have been built.
– It is a private road through some of the richest country in the world.
– When the railway was being built people did not know that it was a rich country. There was, on the route, a thousand miles of desert as bad as the desert of Sahara. But the genius of the American people enabled them to strike the magic rock, water was poured forth, and that country was made one of the most productive in the world. We ought to awaken from our sleep, and make the country between Fort Augusta and Kalgoorlie smile and blossom like the rose. I was amazed to hear the honorable member for Wentworth suggest that Western Australia should, in a certain contingency, repay this money. Suppose this Parliament, in its wisdom, or unwisdom, should in a few years decide not to carry on t’he work, would that be the fault of Western Australia? Will honorable members pledge themselves to build this railway if the survey should be favorable ?
– We are doing that now.
– No ; there is no agreement beyond the survey. Honorable members ought to be consistent, or devote themselves to village politics. When the States entered Federation, they knew why they took that step.
– It was not for the purpose of a Western Australian railway.
– Victoria and every other State were very willing to give promises, but what we want now is some fulfilment. I represent a State which cannot possibly benefit from a transcontinental railway, unless it be a submarine railway; and yet, though I stand alone, I shall every time vote for the construction of a line between east and west. I am continental - I belong to the whole Commonwealth, and not only to the State of Tasmania.
– The honorable member is “talking out” the Bill.
– Why should I”talk out “ the Bill ?
– Let us vote, then.
– At the same time, we want to know that we “ have the numbers “ before we come to vote. If I were sure we “ had the numbers,” I should be prepared to sit down at once, but I understood from the member for Corangamite that things “ look a bit blue.” I am in favour of this railway, or any other proposal which will tend to bring the people together, and consolidate the Commonwealth. It is nonsense for honorable members to talk about their States and pauperism; the States were able to carry on before those honorable members were born, and when they are dead and their spirits fluttering around the lit gilt of the New Jerusalem, the States will still go on without them.
– I regard the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth as exceedingly fair, and it would be accepted by the representatives of Western Australia if there was any real earnestness on their part, or they had the slightest faith in the success of the proposed railway. The proposal before us is to vote a certain amount in order to carry out a survey ; and is it deliberately proposed that we are to stop there? If the survey is a favorable one, and Parliament is then not” prepared to proceed with the work, the vote now asked for. will be absolutely wasted.
– That will be the fault of Parliament.
– There are honorable members voting for the survey who have no intention to vote for the construction of the railway. We have a perfect right to ask that Western Australia and South Australia shall give some proof of their bona fides.
– Those States have spent thousands of pounds already.
– Those States ought to provide every penny for the survey, and show this Parliament that they believe the project will be a profitable one, which the States might be asked to carry out.
– Western Australia and South Australia will next be asked to construct the railway, and hand it over to the Commonwealth.
– I do not desire that the railway should be constructed and handed over to the Commonwealth. That is a question which I cannot debate on the present amendment, but it is the height of absurdity for the Commonwealth to build a railway for comparatively few miles, dovetailed in between railways owned by the States. Are we prepared, as a general policy for the Commonwealth, to carry out public works in States without the slightest responsibility being assumed by those States? Western Australian members have appealed to us to-night to accept the whole of the responsibility, in order that the energies and industries of their State may be developed. But there are other States the natural development of which is absolutely retarded, because of the want of money caused by Federation. I am in perfect sympathy with the speech made by the honorable member for Maranoa to-night, because every word he said in regard to Queensland is applicable to Tasmania.
– What about the subsidy, on the shipping line between Victoria and Tasmania ?
– I am opposed to that subsidy.
– But Tasmania gets the benefit of the subsidy, and also of the cable, for which the other States pay.
– I think my views on the question of subsidies are fairly well known. I never was a supporter of a subsidy on a shipping line to Tasmania, and unless my views materially alter, I never shall be.
– Is it not a fact that Tasmania gets that money ?
– It is a fact.
– Then it does not matter whether the honorable member is opposed or is not opposed to the subsidy.
– I was not in the Federal Parliament at the time, but had I been, I should not have supported . that subsidy. We are not asked to be just, but to be generous, to Western Australia, and it is also right that we should be just and generous to the rest of theCommon wealth. If there were a proposal to continue railway communication from the terminus in Queensland to the far North or the far West, would it receive the support of Western Australian representatives? In my opinion, it is all clap-trap to talk of this Inter-State line as necessary for defence purposes; I do not believe that is a fair and honest view. If we are prepared to give direct railway communication with Western Australia, let us do so with our eyes open ; but do not let honorable members say that this proposed vote is part of the defence expenditure.
– That is one of the reasons for the construction of the railway, but not the only reason.
– One of the claims which were put forward by the right honorable member for Swan why we should not insert the amendment, and should carry the Bill as it stands, was that some thousands of persons had gone from Victoria to Western Australia, and were maintaining their families here. I am one of those who say that in the matter of that exodus Western Australia has had the best of the deal. Since Western Australia received the best men of Victoria, even if they do send a portion of their earnings to their families, it is decidedly the gainer, and to that extent Victoria is the loser. I think that the people of Victoria and their representatives would not be sorry to see some thousands of able-bodied men come from other States, and earn good wages here, even if they did send remittances to their families.
– They would come if Victoria had good laws such as Western Australia has.
– The honorable member for Darwin will bear me out when I say that some thousands of able-bodied Victorians came to the West Coast of Tasmania, and did there exactly what the right honorable member for Swan says Victorians are doing in Western Australia. I consider that there, too, Tasmania had the best of the deal. If the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth are in earnest, this vote is being passed with a distinct determination to construct the railway if the report on the survey be favorable. But if it is simply, as the honorable and learned member for Wannon said, a political or personal proposal, the Committee has no right to pass it, unless, of course, it is intended to construct the railway if the report on the survey be favorable. If the report be favorable, and the railway be constructed, Western Australia will never be asked to contribute a shilling, towards its cost. It is not fair to handicap States like Queensland and Tasmania - in which public works are stopped, if not absolutely, to a very considerable extent, because of the condition of the finances - with what is not, I hold, a legitimate charge upon the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Darwin has given us a glowing picture of what has happened in the United States. But he did not mention how many years the States had been federated before that railway was undertaken, nor did he say that it was undertaken by a company for which the Government are not responsible, and over which the people have no control, except by means of the sections which are in’ every Railway Construction Act.
– They were robbed of millions.
– The conditions are not at all similar. This is distinctly a matter between the States which are directly interested. The people of the Commonwealth have no more right to be called upon to construct a railway in Western Australia, or South Australia, than a railway in Victoria or Queensland.
– That will be done some day.
-If that is to be the recognised policy of the Commonwealth, let it be confessed at once. It is not proposed, however, that it shall be done. It is merely proposed . to pass a special vote because certain promises were made by some irresponsible men prior to Federation.
– Does the honorable member say that the then Premiers of the States were irresponsible men?
– They were irresp.onsible men when they attempted to pledge a Parliament of which they were not members at the time.
– They were leaders of public opinion, . and of the Federal movement.
– I doubt very much whether some of the Premiers did lead public opinion. I believe that if the people could be consulted; my view would be indorsed. I shall support the amendment because it is a fair one, and the representatives of Western Australia ought to be satisfied to accept the vote on those conditions.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I propose to answer the speech of the right honorable member for Swan as briefly as I think it deserves, and to reply to some other remarks, especially those from the Prime Minister. Surely the right honorable member for Swan should appreciate the fact that this amendment was not moved in any petty spirit. I made my position perfectly clear to the Committee.
– He does not mean it.
– I do not believe that the right honorable member means it now, but he certainly meant it when he spoke.
– The whole thing is very small.
– What are the right honorable gentleman’s arguments ? He says, that the railway is not intended for the sole benefit of Western Australia and South Australia. Certainly, it is not intended for the sole benefit of South Australia, because she will not have anything to do with it.
– The honorable member does not know anything about the matter.
– The Government of South Australia, which is almost as good an authority as the honorable member, has not yet made any move ; indeed, it has thrown every obstacle in the way of this proposal. To proceed, we were also told that the railway is required for defence purposes ; but that argument has been thoroughly dispelled. We were further told that this railway is essential for the existence of the Federation. Our right honorable friend has paraded this phase of the question on all possible occasions. He tells us that this railway was promised at the Conference of Premiers. If that was so, why, then, was it not included in the Constitution, like the sliding scald? All we know “is that the right honorable gentleman stumped Western Australia and told the people that they were to get this railway if they federated. It is very much to his credit that he now comes forward and tries to redeem that promise, which he personally made to his own State; but that is a question solely betweenhimself and the people of that State. It is not a subject for this House necessarily to take into consideration.
– A promise was definitely made by the honorable member’.s leader, time and again.
– At that particular time?
– Certainly the proposals of the right honorable member for East Sydney could not bind the Commonwealth. The Constitution alone could do that. Mr. Reid could merely express his own opinion of what would happen. He is quite at liberty to hold his’ opinion, as we all are. We, ‘however, are now here to express the opinions of our constituents as to the” expenditureinvolved in this proposal. I am taking this attitude-
– In opposition to the Government, I suppose?
– Certainly not. I arn here as the representative of my constituency, and am now carrying out a promise I made to that constituency to oppose this railway. It would surely be lamentable if every honorable member who rose to oppose anything upon which the right honorable member had set his heart should be subject to such exhibitions as that to which I was subjected a few moments ago.
– The whole thing is small.
– The right honorable member himself objects to interjections.
– The right honorable member objects most strongly to any one interjecting when he is speaking, but when I was speaking the other day, I would like to remind him that Hansard shows that his interjections were in places more frequent than my remarks, so much so that the Chairman had to call him to order on several occasions. But I was not overbearing to him then. I did not turn on him as if he deserved rending. I am full of good nature and Christian charity. To return to the subject of the railway, however, which is of more importance than the right honorable gentleman’s advocacy of it, we have been told that Western Australia is quite prepared to alter the gauge. Does this prove anything, beyond the fact that that State, is very much in the position of a man who does not care what shape a present takes so Jong as he gets it? We all know that the proposed railway, if constructed, would enormously benefit Western Australia.
– How is that?
– Why does the right honorable member advocate its construction if he does not think that it will benefit Western Australia? Is he advocating it in the interests of the eastern States?
– In the interests of Australia as a whole.
– In the interests of Australia as a whole, then he need not object to my amendment. My amendment has been drafted, however, to meet a contingency which, according to the right honorable member, will never arise.
– The honorable member is opposed to the Bill altogether.
– The honorable member ought not to say. that now. I am opposed to the Bill only if 1 cannot get the proposed new clause inserted; but, certainly, in that event I shall oppose the third reading to the utmost of my ability. I have moved this amendment to give Western Australian representatives a chance of proving their bona fides. They, however, shirk the whole question. The facts remain that if their contentions are. right, my proviso will never come into effect. If the railway is thought likely to prove a boon to the Commonwealth, the proviso will not operate ; but if the survey shows that the line would not prove successful, the States concerned should pay the cost.
– The verdict should carry costs.
– Yes, even in this case. The Prime Minister has told us that there are issues involved which are quite apart from the railway. I agree with him in that. But if the reports of the surveyors show that the construction of the railway would not be of advantage to the Commonwealth, even though the survey may result in the discovery of mineral or other resources, and the exploitation of the’ country traversed, why should the eastern States pay for that from which they will have got on benefit? Is there not good country in the eastern States, and in the southeastern portion, of South Australia, which offers a far likelier field for exploitation and development than that through which the proposed railway would pass? Why, then, is it not proposed to explore it at the expense of the Commonwealth? I have given my reasons for my proposal as briefly as possible, and I hope that the Committee will soon come to a vote on this amendment.
– I have no desire to prolong the discussion, but I wish to reaffirm my contention that the proposed survey is unwarrantable at the present time, more particularly in view of the fact that one of the States through which the line, if constructed, would pass has not yet consented to allow the Commonwealth to interfere in the matter.
– That State is asking for more information.
– Yes, but she is not prepared to pay for it. That is the question raised by the proposed new clause. The honorable member for Wentworth proposes that, in the event of the railway not being proceeded with, the two States concerned should bear the cost of the survey. To my mind, there is nothing unreasonable in that proposal. I shall not deal with the general question again, because I have already expressed my opinions on the subject, but it is strange that this proposal should be brought forward at a time when funds are not very plentiful, and that it should be supported by honorable members who, from the inception of this Parliament, have posed as economists. The position is one which I cannot, at first glance, understand.
– We have a good case.
– The merits of the case have not altered. We have to-day practically no more information than we had two and a half years ago. The reports of the railway authorities of the States confirm the information which was at our disposal when the proposal was first mooted, that is, that under the most favorable estimate there would be a considerable loss on the working of the line for a number of years to come. The suggestion that the line is required for the defence of Australia has been shattered by the best military authority we have had.
– He only said that our Forces should be called into existence first.
– We know the temper of the House in regard to military expenditure; the desire is to economize in every direction. Surely it is hardly necessary to build a railway for the carriage of troops when we are not disposed to vote money for their maintenance. However, I am willing to abide by the will of the majority, though I see no justification either for the construction of the proposed railwav or for the proposed survey. If a survey is necessary, the two States immediately concerned should be willing to bear the cost of it. One of the States concerned refuses its assent in any shape or form, and, even if the proposed railway were favorably reported upon, we could not feel assured that South Australia would consent to the construction of the Une. I do not wish to debate this matter any further. I am prepared to abide by the will of a majority; but I shall certainly support the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I shall act with perfect consistency in this matter by supporting the amendment, because I have been opposed to the expenditure of any money upon the proposed railway. I promised my constituents that I would oppose the construction of the line, until the Commonwealth took over the whole of the States railways and the States debts.
– Hear hear ; that is straight enough.
– We have heard a great deal about the necessity for conserving the rights of the States ; but I think that we shall encroach upon the rights of South Australia if we make the proposed survey through her territory without her consent.
– She has given her consent to the survey.
– I realize that if we incur an expenditure of ,£20,000 upon the survey, we shall probably be committed to the construction of the railway, and the further outlay of £4,000,000, or £5,000,000 which that work will involve. Almost invariably the reports upon proposed railways are of a favorable character, and the results are generally disappointing, particularly in cases where the line has to pass through country such as that which will be traversed by the proposed line.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa).- The right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Darwin have had a great deal to say with regard to the profit which Victorians have derived from Western Australia. I should like to know whether the people of Western Australia were in such a philanthropic mood that they did not require the people of Victoria to earn all the money they have derived from the western State.
– They could not have earned the same amount of money in any other part of Australia.
– If they come up to Queensland we will find for them equally profitable employment. We want population.
– Queensland wants men to’ work to produce her subsidized sugar.
– The honorable member wants them to work upon his subsidized railway. He is prepared to rob the other States of the Commonwealth of about £5,000,000. The £20,000 will not represent the only expenditure. Even whenthe railway is built, we shall not have reached the end of our liability, because there is very little doubt that from the day of .its completion to the end of our livesit will prove a drag upon the whole Commonwealth.
– It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to say “ No “ ; but figures can be made to prove anything. I would ask how many of the working miners at Kalgoorlie are likely . to travel over the proposed line to Sydney or Brisbane ?
– Thousands and thou- sands.
– Many thousands will continue to travel by steamer. Some honorable members have cavilled at the sugar bonus, but I would tell them that Queensland gives the other States full value for the money they contribute. If the people of the other States could get cheaper sugar elsewhere, they would not consume the Queensland product. A large quantity of glucose is imported into Western Australia. I should like to know whether it is used for blasting purposes, or as a substitute for sugar? If Western Australia did not receive full value for her money she would not maintain such a large number of Victorians and others from the eastern! States.
– We have never said anything to the contrary.
– The honorable member for Swan has contended that Western Australia has been very good to the other States, but there are two ‘sides to that question. ‘If the [amendment ‘does no good, it can do no harm. It will tend to protect the revenues of the States, and if the railway is likely to prove the good thing that the representatives of Western Australia would have us believe, they should be prepared to adopt it.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. . The Committee divided.
Majority … . .. 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
– As honorable members are aware, I . have previously given notice of an amendment to this clause, having reference to the reservation of a certain area of land upon either side of the projected railway. The Western Australian Parliament has already agreed to such a reservation being made, but the South Australian Government has not done so. I have no desire to penalize Western Australia because of the neglect of South Australia in this connexion. It is obvious that the railway, if constructed, will increase the value of the land through which it passes, and it seems to me that it would be most unreasonable to allow that land to be open for private exploitation.
– The South Australian Parliament is not in session just now.
– But I understand that the Premier of that State is adverse to my proposal. I fail to see why the eastern States should be called upon to contribute towards the cost of this line - to give an enhanced value to the lands through which the railway will pass - without obtaining anything whatever in the nature of a return. When the Bill authorizing its construction is under consideration, I shall submit an amendment in the direction which I have already outlined,, but at the present time I shall not press it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report, adopted.
– I would ask honorable members to allow . this measure, to pass its third . reading, so that it may be transmitted to the Senate without delay. Accordingly, I move -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … … 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Artillery Practice at Fort Gellibrand.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to a matter of importance. I have before me a copy of a notice which has been served on residents of Williamstown, stating that artillery practice will take place at Fort Gellibrand between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on certain dates. A previous occupant of the office of Minister of Defence visited Williamstown, and was impressed by the very great destruction of property caused by the firing of the guns in the fort. Some attempt was made to meet the difficulty by regulatingthe character of the firing, but I would urge the Minister to take action to deal with the evil. Houses and their contents are being destroyed, owing to the vibration caused by the discharge of the guns. It is a very serious matter to propertyowners in the neighbourhood, many of whom are poor persons, and I trust that the Minister will do what he can to minimize the trouble.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall institute full inquiries tomorrow to ascertain, both the extent of the damage, and what steps are possible to avoid further injury to property.
– What about the firing on an Inter-State steamer?
– So far I have no official knowledge of that incident.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041129_reps_2_24/>.