House of Representatives
15 December 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 8589

QUESTION

ENGLISH MAIL SERVICES

Mr GLYNN:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– It is stated in this morning’s Argus that the Peninsular and Oriental Company contemplate dropping their Australian mail contracts, and that the Orient Company’s vessels are in future not to make Largs Bay a place of call. Seeing that the misapplication of the White Australia policy in connexion’ with the administration of the Postal Department will involve an exceptional burden on South Australia, because, instead of being a day in advance, that State will be, if this arrangement is carried into effect, a day behind Melbourne in communications with England, while the expense to which she has gone in providing an outer harbor at Largs Bay will be useless, will the Government consider the ad visability of either repealing the section of the Post and Telegraph Act, -which is responsible for this extra expense, or providing that all the States shall share equally the additional cost of applying it?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– There is a good deal of correspondence in the Department from Mr. Anderson, of the OrientCompany, in reference to the White Australia provision in the Post and Telegraph Act.

Mr McLean:

– The White Ocean provision.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Yes. Mr. Anderson states that that provision has not caused the company to increase the price named in its tenders, because if lascars were employed on their boats, although their wages would be smaller than those of white men, twice as many men would have to be employed, and twice as much accommodation would have to be allotted to them.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Did he say anything about their reliability?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I believe that he did, though I do not think that he dwelt at length on that subject. The Government, having taken the whole matter into consideration, are of opinion that they would not be justified in paying the large sum asked by the Orient Company for the performance of the service. Since 1888 the two companies named have been receiving ^72,000 a year, and we are now asked to pay j£i 50,000 a vear, although the export trade of Australia in perishable produce and general goods has increased largely.

Mr THOMAS:
BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is it a fact that English letters could be delivered in Melbourne more quickly if the vessels of the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient companies, instead of landing .their mails at Largs Bay, to be forwarded by train from Adelaide, brought them here direct?

Mr Glynn:

– The honorable member is thinking only of the convenience of Melbourne.

Mr THOMAS:

– I am thinking of the convenience of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. I admit that such an arrangement would delay the delivery of English mails in Adelaide.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I shall be only too glad to make what arrangements I can to enable the vessels to continue to call at Largs Bay. In answer to the honorable member’s question. I do not think there would be much difference.

Mr GLYNN:

– In view of the fact that the Post and Telegraph Act does not touch the substance of the White Australia principle, and is being used merely as a pretext for forcing unfair charges on the Commonwealth, will the PostmasterGeneral see that, by repealing the provision, that pretext is removed?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The matter is one for the Government to determine; but I do not think that any action of that kind will be taken at the present time.

page 8590

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVANTS’ INCREMENTS

Mr BROWN:
CANOBOLAS, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The Prime Minister stated the other night that authority had been given for the payment of increments accruing to public servants in receipt of less than £160 per annum. Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a considerable number of officers in the general division in his Department have not yet been paid their increments? Will he endeavour to expedite the payments, so that they may receive their money before the end of the present month ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The matter was brought under my notice during the consideration of the Estimates, and I gave instructions that expedition should^ be used in the payment of these increments. I understand that a large number of officers in New South Wales have been paid, and I hope that those who have not yet received their increments will obtain them before the end of the year. The Department will do all it can to expedite the matter.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I would point out to the Postmaster-General that the complaint which I have repeatedly made concerning the non-payment of officers in the clerical division has not yet been rectified, although the amounts should have been paid six months ago. Will the PostmasterGeneral promise - I know that, if he does, we can rely upon the promise being fulfilled - that the matter shall be rectified?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I cannot make any definite promise, because certain inquiries have to be made. The Public Service Act requires certificates from the Public Service Commissioner in these cases. I know, however, that that officer is as anxious as are honorable members that the men shall be paid before the end of the year. I shall send another reminder to him, and will do all I can to expedite the payments.

page 8590

QUESTION

APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES

– In view v-f the fact that the Postmaster-General’s

Department has just appointed a detective to the Sydney Post Office from outside the service, and that in several other instances officers of the lower ranks have been debarred from promotion by similar appointments, does he propose to take the same course when permanently filling the position of Deputy Postmaster-General and other higher offices?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– For some considerable time the Postal Department has employed a detective, with a view to meeting some of the difficulties which present themselves in connexion with the management of our various offices; but men will not be appointed from outside the service unless there are no suitable .officers available within the service.

Mr BROWN:

– Can the PostmasterGeneral inform the House when the position of Deputy Postmaster-General at Sydney, and various inspectorships which are now occupied by temporary officers, will be permanently filled?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If the honorable member would give, notice of his question, there would be ample time for me to frame a reply before our next meeting ; but in view of the courteous way in which he asks these questions, I have no hesitation in replying that the question of filling permanently the position of Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Sydney will be dealt with by the Public Service Commissioner as soon as possible. It was decided by the AttorneyGeneral that it is a matter for Parliament, and not for the Public Service Commissioner, to fix the salaries of the Deputy Postmasters-General, and, therefore, this matter has been deferred until Parliament could deal with the Estimates. Now that the Appropriation Bill has been passed, there will be no further delay.

page 8590

BOTTLING OF BULK SPIRITS

Mr. HUTCHISON__ I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if the Government have taken into consideration the suggestion which* I made some time ago, that all imported bulk spirits should be bottled in bond, and the fact certified to on their labels, so as to protect the revenue, and prevent cheap and adulterated spirits from being sold as imported case whisky.

Mr. -McLEAN. - My honorable friend mentioned the matter to ‘ me, but I have not yet had an opportunity to deal with it;

page 8591

QUESTION

ENGLISH MAIL CONTRACT

Mr KNOX:
KOOYONG, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question with reference to the oversea mail contract. The Minister must be aware that grave anxiety prevails throughout mercantile circles upon this question, and I would ask him to give us an assurance that he will keep the public advised as to the steps he is taking to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion. The matter is one of very serious consequence to the whole community?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that my honorable friend agrees with the view which the Government take as to the excessive amount of the subsidy asked for by the Orient Steamship Company. He has already communicated with the Department officially to that effect, and therefore thoroughly realizes the difficult position in which we are placed. This matter has been receiving the attention of the Government for some considerable time. past, and I have already convened a conference of the Deputy Postmasters-General, which will meet to-day with a view to looking into the question, and seeing how Ave can best overcome the difficulty that has arisen through no fault of our own, but owing to the very large amount asked for by the only tenderer for the mail service.

Mr THOMAS:

– I would ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the attempt now being made by the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Steam Navigation Companies to coerce the Commonwealth into the payment of heavy mall subsidies, he will consider the advisability of appointing a Royal Commission, quite outside of Parliament, to inquire as to the advisability of the Commonwealth Government acquiring a fleet of steamers for the purpose of carrying on their own mail services ?

Mr REID:
Minister for External Affairs · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · Free Trade

– I shall refer the matter to my honorable colleague, the PostmasterGeneral.

page 8591

QUESTION

FOREIGN TENDERERS : EXEMPTION FROM DUTY

Mr FISHER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND

– As long ago as 8th Novermber last, I asked the PostmasterGeneral : -

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?

I have repeated this question again and again, and upon the last occasion the Postmaster-General said that he would lay the papers on the table of the House before the session closed. We have now reached the last day of the session, and as the matter is of some importance, and special attention has been directed to it by the Auditor-General, I think that honorable members should be furnished with information regarding it to-day.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I had practically prepared a reply to lay upon the table to-day, but it has not yet come to hand. I may inform the honorable member that as long ago as 1902 a question was raised whether duty should be paid upon goods imported by contractors for use by the Commonwealth Department. Under the Customs Tariff Act goods imported by and for the use of the Government of the Commonwealth are exempted from duty, and the question whether this provision applied to goods imported by contractors to the Government was referred to the then Attorney - General, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He expressed the opinion that it did not apply to the cases of goods imported by contractors; but it appears that the right honorable member for Adelaide, when occupying the position of Minister of Customs, arranged that under the special circumstances the duty should, not be paid by the contractors. That practice was adhered to for some considerable time. Then the question arose in connexion with supplies imported for the Postal Department, and in January last instructions were issued that the duty should be charged to the contractors. The matter was re-opened, I think, in August last by the Customs Department, and it was referred to the late Prime Minister, who wrote a minute stating that in view of the fact that the payment of duties would increase the cost of the goods to the Department, the duty should not be charged, but should be debited to the Department.

Mr Watson:

– I refused to alter the existing practice.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Exactly. Whilst I realized that the addition of the duty would increase the expense to the Department, I was anxious to follow a strictly legal course, and I referred the whole matter for the opinion of the present AttorneyGeneral, who confirmed the view taken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that it would be illegal to allow goods imported by contractors to the

Government to escape the payment of duty. The Government accepted that decision, and they intend to insist upon the law being carried out.

page 8592

QUESTION

REORGANIZATION OF ELECTORAL DEPARTMENT

Mr WATSON:

– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he can inform the House as to the arrangements that are contemplated in connexion with the Electoral Department. I understand that it was agreed some time ago that the Chief Electoral Officer should retire at the end of this year, and I should like to know if that arrangement is to be carried out, and, generally, whetherany alteration is to be made?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
Minister for Home Affairs · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It has been pressed upon me that the reorganization of the Department is highly necessary, and that an opportunity in that direction will be afforded by the contemplated retirement of the Chief Electoral Officer, not at the end of this year, because I find that the agreement under which he occupies the position practically gives him a tenure to the end of May next, but at the expiry of that period. In the meantime, my attention will be directed to the reorganization of the Department, and the adoption of the best system of conducting it in the future.

page 8592

QUESTION

BANKING AND INSURANCE LAWS

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the attention of the Government has yet been directed to the very important question of the assimilation of the laws relating to banking and insurance in the various States. Soon after the establishment of the Commonwealth it was pointed out by persons interested in insurance business, that the community were labouring under great disabilities in connexion with the assignment of policies, because of the great differences existing between thelaws affecting insurance in the various States. I understand that something was done by the last Government towards collecting data, with a view to assimilating the measures now in existence, upon banking and insurance. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister intends during the recess to collect material from the best authorities, with a view to effecting that assimilation.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– The Treasurer has had theseimportant matters - certainly that of the banking laws - under his consideration for some time past. I quite agree with the honorable and learnedmember that it is of the greatest importance that we should, as soon as possible, assimilate the laws in operation in the different States by means of Commonwealth legislation. I think that it is a matter of very practical importance. I confess that lately I had overlooked it, and I am glad that the honorableand learned member has again brought it under the attention of the Government.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will the Minister, during recess, take steps to collect the necessary material ?

Mr REID:
Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Following up my first question, I desire to ask whether, in view of the very great importance and far-reaching consequences of legislation upon those two important branches of commerce, insurance and banking, the Prime Minister will consider the advisability of appointing a Royal Commission, consisting of persons quite outside Parliament, and interested directly in the businesses referred to, to take evidence upon the subject with a view to affording a guide in the drafting of the necessary measures.

Mr REID:

– I really feel that we must endeavour to adopt some other means of dealing with the matter.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not know how the Government will otherwise be able to obtain the necessary information.

Mr REID:

– I.think it is highly probable that the great institutions interested in these matters will be only too ready to afford us the fullest information.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It will be necessary to consult the general public too.

Mr REID:

– I shall meet the wishes of the honorable and learned member in every way I can, but I think we shall have to put a stop to the appointment of Royal Commissions. A very expensive Commission - the Tariff Commission - will shortly begin its work.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It would not be necessary to pay the members of the Commission referred to.

Mr REID:

– Somehow, these. Commissions cost money, and I am afraid I cannot hold out any hope that a Royal Commission will be appointed to consider the matters referred to.

page 8592

QUESTION

IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION ACT : PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS

Mr McDONALD:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND

– In view of the prospect of our entering upon a long recess, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will cause to be sent to members the reports furnished by the officers administering the Immigration Restriction Act, with reference to the number of coloured aliens admitted into the Commonwealth either as residents or merely as tourists? I understand that the returns required under the Act will be laid upon the table when Parliament meets, but as they are really due in January next, I would ask that they should be forwarded to honorable members as soon as possible after they are received by the Department.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I shall certainly be glad to comply with the request. I think that I might take advantage of this opportunity to ask honorable members informally for an expression of opinion upon the subject of the publication of papers. As honorable members know, there is a Parliamentary tradition that documents that are to be laid upon the table shall not be published until they have been placed before Parliament.

Mr Fisher:

– They always are.

Mr REID:

– I think that the Government will pursue a course which will meet with the approval of honorable members if, during the recess, they make public any reports of special interest and importance which, in the ordinary course, would be laid upon the table before publication. I may add that, even during the recess, Ministers will answer questions without notice, if honorable members will address communications to them upon matters in which they are interested, just as faithfully as if they were on the gridiron every day.

page 8593

QUESTION

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS

Mr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– In view of the number of important motions - many of which have been very fully discussed - which are still on the business paper, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he could appoint some hour this afternoon, say 2 o’clock, at which divisions could be taken, without discussion, upon some of the more important matters.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– During the rest of the morning I shall take the matter into consideration. There are one or two short notices upon the paper, one having reference to the Japanese, and the other standing in the name of the honorable member for Darwin, which might possibly be taken. I have every sympathy with the honorable member.

page 8593

TEMPORARY STANDING ORDERS: LAPSED BILLS

Mr REID:
Minister of External Affairs · East Sydney · Free Trade

– I move-

That, until permanent Standing Orders be adopted, the following be temporary Standing Orders of this House : - 214a. If, in any session the proceedings on any

Bill shall have been interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament, the House may, in the next succeeding session, by resolution, order such proceedings to be resumed at the stage to which the Bill had been advanced in the previous session, provided a periodical election for the House has not taken place between such two sessions. 214b. Any such Bill may be sent to the Senate as if it had been produced and passed by the House in the second session.

I may explain that a similar standing order is in force in some of the State Parliaments, and also in the Senate. Obviously it is a very useful one. Its object is to prevent the necessity for honorable members doing a second time the whole of the work in connexion with the preliminary stages of any Bill.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– I have heard this matter discussed in other Parliaments, and I have come to the conclusion that the adoption of such a standing order is not desirable. Of course, the proviso contained in the motion in regard to the intervention of a general election is intended to safeguard the representative character of Parliament. But, unfortunately, it is possible that circumstances may arise during a recess which would alter thepersonnel of the Legislature, and it is easy to conceive that the new Parliament would have its hands tied in regard to a Bill which might have been carried in the preceding session by a majority of only one or two votes, and despite the fact that the consensus of opinion upon it may be entirely changed. That, I claim, would affect the representative character of the Legislature. Moreover, the motion assumes that honorable members never become wiser, and that even after a long recess they entertain the belief that no improvement can be suggested in any measure with which they have previously dealt.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No.

Mr FISHER:

– Then what does it mean? Surely the advantages to be gained from it are not such as to justify the adoption of a standing order of this character, especially upon the last day of the session.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– A similar standing order has been in operation in New South

Wales for many years, and no objection has ever been taken to it.

Mr FISHER:

– I should be sorry to discount in any way a rule which prevails in the New South Wales Parliament, but I should be equally reluctant to accept that body as a legislative model. Other Parliaments, in the absence of a provision of this kind, have transacted their business quite as successfully as have the Legislatures of New South Wales and Victoria. If no change had’ occurred in the personnel of Parliament during a recess I should not entertain such a strong objection to the motion, even though I do not think that it can be commended to favorable consideration from a democratic stand-point.

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I would point out to the honorable member for Wide Bay that a similar standing order has been in force in the Victorian Parliament for some years, and that it has been found to work admirably. I do not think that any great weight attaches to his argument regarding a possible alteration in the personnel of the House between sessions, because, under the circumstances suggested by the honorable member, it would be impossible to carry the necessary resolution to give effect to the standing order.

Mr Fisher:

– What is the objection to giving effect to it after a general election ?

Mr SALMON:

– The proposed standing order is intended for the convenience of Parliament. One of its advantages would be that it would afford private members a better opportunity of getting any business in which they may be specially interested dealt with.

Mr McLean:

– In t’he Victorian Parliament a very important measure, the Tramways Act, was passed, as the result of the operation of a similar standing order.

Mr SALMON:

– Yes. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has assured us that for some years this standing order has worked successfully in New South Wales. Consequently I appeal to those who desire that private members shall be afforded an opportunity to carry to a conclusion useful legislation to agree to this motion.

Mjr. MALONEY (Melbourne).- I intend to support the proposal of the Prime Minister. In the Victorian Legislature this standing order has tended to diminish the “ slaughter of the innocents “ at the close of each session. The honorable member for Wide Bay has asked why it should not apply after a general election?

My reply is because a new Parliament would then have been constituted. I claim that after a Bill has been advanced to a certain stage, it is the acme of absurdity to suggest that we should perform the whole of our work again. No public company which conducted its business upon similar lines could successfully carry on operations. Some of t’he most democratic measures have been placed upon the Victorian Statutebook as the result of the operation of this standing order. To a certain extent it has had the effect of removing the infamy against which the Labour Party in this State were always declaiming, namely, the loss of time occasioned in discussing measures which were ruthlessly slaughtered at the close of the session. I shall always vote to minimize that slaughter as much as possible.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I think’ that a standing order of this kind is of such importance that it is scarcely fair to ask honorable members to agree to it upon the final day of the session.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The same course has been followed in every other session.

Mr ROBINSON:

– If that be so, there is no reason why that fact should be regarded as a precedent. In my opinion Australia suffers from too much hasty legislation. It is in the highest degree desirable that the speed with which our laws are enacted should be lessened and not accelerated. I scarcely think” that the analogy which was drawn by the honorable member for Laanecoorie was a very good one.

Mr Salmon:

– Does the ‘honorable and learned member know of a single instance in which this standing order has worked badly ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I think that most” legislation is bad. Its effect usually is to provide more work for the legal profession, and I do not regard that result as altogether a desirable one. In this House private members’ business is practically i minus quantity. In my judgment we have already devoted far too much time to the consideration of that class of business during the current session, and the adoption of the standing order proposed would probably lead1 to measures which ought to be submitted to the Government being introduced by private members. Our Standing Orders seem to require very considerable revision, if only with a view to prevent the exhaustive debate which’ hai taken place during the past three or four months. But whilst I am prepared to assist in any general revision of the Standing Orders I am not willing to vote for their amendment upon the last day of the session.

Mr McLean:

– The object of this proposal is to curtail debate - to prevent the duplication of discussion.

Mr McDonald:

– Very frequently its adoption does not lead to that result.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I would remind the Minister that very frequently it does not produce the desired result. Under this proposal, those who were opposed to any particular Bill would naturally take care to ventilate their views as fully upon the motion necessary to bring the standing order into operation as they would upon the measure itself. Speaking from memory, under the Standing Orders of the Victorian Parliament, it is impossible, by resolution, to advance a Bill beyond the second-reading stage. That means that a Bill considered in Committee during the previous session, must be taken through Committee once more, and I think it is a more sensible provision than the one which we are now asked to accept. I regard this motion with some apprehension. It proposes an important departure from the present practice, and I do not think that contentious matters of this kind should be introduced in the closing hours of the session. I am reminded that it is just a year ago to-day since we were all wondering what our fate would be at the polls. I think that we ought to refer the whole of the Standing Orders to the Standing Orders Committee, so that we may obtain a thoroughly up-to-date set, which, while preventing tedious repetition, would give honorable members every opportunity for free and open debate. At present I am opposed to the proposed Standing Orders.

Mr THOMAS:
Barrier

– I do not know that I am opposed to the principle which we are asked to affirm, but I certainly object to the passing of the motion at this stage. A matter of such importance should not be dealt with until we are called upon to consider the Standing Orders as a whole. The one great objection which I have, particularly at the present moment, to the passing of this motion, is that a number of honorable members discussed certain measures during the session, with the knowledge that under the present Standing Orders t.hey would lapse with the prorogation of Parliament, and that we should commence their consideration de novo next session. I believe that the debate which took place on one particular measure was limited to a material extent because of that fact. We are now- asked to pass a motion which would vary the existing practice, and which practically says that that measure, as well as two or three others, shall be taken up next session at the stage at which they were dropped. If /the question be deferred until we are asked to deal with the Standing Orders next session, it is quite possible that I shall support the principle involved, but I think that it would be unwise and unjust to deal with the matter at the present time.

Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie

– I entirely agree with the principle embodied in the motion. It is very desirable that we should have such Standing Orders so that a tedious repetition of debates on bills which have been considered this session, should not take place when we resume after the recess. It is inevitable that with the closing of the session, some Bills must go to the wall. We have had a rather unsatisfactory experience in dealing with certain matters under the provisional Standing Orders, for in several cases debates have been prolonged obviously with the object of preventing any decision upon the question at issue. The members of this or of any other Parliament should be prepared to accept the responsibility of vot ing on any question submitted to. them. We all hope that there will be no change in the personnel of the House when we re-assemble. Our views on questions which have been discussed during the present session are not likely to undergo any material change during the recess, so that when Ave return we should be prepared to give a vote on measures that are taken up under these proposed Standing Orders, without debating them a second time. I think that the provision that proceedings in respect of any Bills which have been interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament shall be resumed at the stage to which they were advanced in the previous session ; only upon resolution of the House, will be a sufficient safeguard. If we find that we cannot reasonably stand by the opinions that Ave have expressed on a previous occa- sion, Ave shall be able to vote against the I motion. Although holding these views, I must confess that, in my opinion, the Government should have made an effort to pass some ‘of the measures on the notice- paper. The state of the business-paper to- day ought to force upon any reasonable Government the desirability of dealing with some of the measures that have been partly considered before we prorogue. We were assured a few days ago that certain Bills would be passed before the prorogation, and that every opportunity would be given to honorable members to deal with certain motions. It seems to me that the Appropriation Bill has been pushed through almost under false pretences. As soon as it had been passed by another place, we received an intimation that the Government intended to bring the session to a close, irrespective of any consideration for measures that had been partly dealt with. This motion will compel some of those who are opposed to it to come into the open. If the proposed new Standing Orders be agreed to, they will be compelled to express their opinions, as soon as the next session opens, on measures that have been partly considered ; they will not be able to evade the responsibility of giving an open vote on measures which might otherwise be among the slaughtered innocents.

Mr McDonald:

– Would these Standing Orders apply to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill ?

Mr FRAZER:

– Unfortunately, I believe that measure is not likely to be passed this session. But take the case of the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill. Certain amendments have been made by the Senate, and it isobvious that if we are not prepared to at once agree to them, we shall not be able to place that measure on the Statute-book during the present session. Some honorable members have been seeking to evade the responsibility of casting a vote on other matters of considerable importance, such as the preferential trade proposals and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.

Mr Watson:

– We have had a division on the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.

Mr FRAZER:

– There is also a notice of motion standing on the business-paper in the name of the Prime Minister with reference to a proposal that the Commonwealth shall contribute to the Queen Victoria Memorial Fund. It was stated in the public press that it was considered necessary that an expression of opinion on the part of the Parliament should be obtained in respect of that proposal.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would remind the honorable member that the motion relates, not to resolutions, but to Bills, so that the matter which he is now discussing is beyond the scope of the debate.

Mr FRAZER:

– That is so, sir, but such a resolution, if passed, would have been followed by a Bill. I have only to say in conclusion that if these Standing Orders be adopted, they will assist us to finally dispose of various measures, and will compel honorable members to take the responsibility of voting on all questions submitted to the House. I hail the motion with satisfaction, and shall certainly vote for it.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– The honorable member is in error in thinking that the proposed Standing Orders would facilitate the business of the House to any material extent. For some three years it has been the desire of honorable members that permanent Standing Orders should be adopted, but, although the Standing Orders Committee went to considerable trouble in framing a draft set, no Government has yet seen fit to take the responsibility of moving their adoption. The provisional Standing Orders under which the business of the House is conducted are undoubtedly most unsatisfactory, but it would be most unwise for us to deal with the matter in this way. The Prime Minister should endeavour to pass the whole of the draft Standing Orders, including the two covered by this motion, as soon as we re-assemble. While I have no strong objection to these two Standing Orders, I would point out that they are not altogether what they seem. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie appears to think that they would do away with the repetition of second-reading speeches upon measures to which they applied, and would thus conserve the time of the House. That would not be the case.

Mr Frazer:

– That is only the honorable member’s opinion.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is a question, not of opinion, but of fact. If the honorable member turns to the different State Hansards, he will find that my assertion is correct. A second reading debate often takes place on the motion that the proceedings on a Bill be resumed atthe stage to which it was advanced inthe previous session. I might refer to many cases in which such a motion has been debated at greater length than was the original motion for the second reading of the Bill to which it related.

Mr Maloney:

– That has not been the experience of the Victorian Parliament.

Mr McDONALD:

– I cannot speak of the experience of the Legislature of this State, but I have. correctly stated the position, so far as the Sout’h Australian Parliament is concerned.

Mr King O’malley:

– No.

Mr Poynton:

– In the case of South Australia, the matter was dealt with by Act of Parliament.

Mr Mcdonald:

– That is so. An attempt was made to deal with it in the same way in the Queensland Parliament, but without success. It would constitute an important change in the procedure of t’ho House, and I think that we should not deal hastily with the question. The Government should take up the Standing Orders at the earliest possible date, and give the House an opportunity to deal with them. If we rush these Standing Orders through the House, it is quite possible that we may lay up a store of trouble for ourselves. I say, without fear of contradiction, that if a motion be submitted next session to restore the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to the notice-paper at the stage at which it at present stands, the debate upon it will be equally as long as that which has taken place

Oil the motion for the second reading. Nearly one-third of the members of this House, at the beginning of this session, were new members, and they are never thoroughly acquainted with the forms of procedure, and the methods of obtaining information.

Mr Frazer:

– The proposed new Standing Orders would not apply after a general election.

Mr McDONALD:

– That is so ; but there are frequently new members. Besides, these Standing Orders will not necessarily save time, because there might be practically a second reading debate on the motion to restore business to the noticepaper. The proposed new Standing Orders, however, will deprive this House of the control which it would otherwise have over the business of Parliament. If thev are passed, we can do nothing more in regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill until it is returned to us by the Senate. I do not wish to occupy time unduly now, because there is an important motion on the business-paper, which I understand honorable members desire to discuss; but I think that it would be better to deal with this subject when considering permanent Standing Orders. It is not right to consider it at this stage of the session.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
Darwin

– I consider the motion a wise and proper one,, and I am heartily in favour of it. The honorable member for Kennedy says that there might be practically second-reading speeches on the motion to restore business to the notice-paper, but you, Mr. Speaker, will remember that when, in the South Australian House, I had the Testamentary Disposition of Property Bill re-instated, although there had been a tremendous debate in the previous session, it went through without opposition. An ounce of practice is worth 1,000 pounds of theory. The honorable and learned member for Wannon described the proposal as an innovation. . I admit that it is, but innovations are the foundations of human progress.

Mr Robinson:

– I have heard that before.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Exactly, but not from, the honorable member for Wannon. I think that the Prime Minister is right in trying to prevent the repetition of second-reading speeches, when measures are brought forward again in a new session. Are honorable members so impressed with their intellectual importance and mental concentration, that they think it necessary to make second-reading speeches whenever a Bill is brought forward? I think it would be better, when a Bill has been debated in one session and comes up in the next, to run it through without talk.

Mr Johnson:

– - That would be very rough on the honorable member for Gwydir.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– There is no question about that; but the House has a right to muzzle both the honorable member for Gwydir and the Honorable member for Lang when they interfere with the progress of business. The honorable member for Wide Bay said that members might change their opinions between session and session. No doubt there may be changes during the next six months. After suffering twelve or fifteen months of starvation, some honorable members may die from the effect of relaxation during the recess. I was nevertheless astounded at the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay. Had my eyes been shut, I would have thought that I was listening to a real conservative, instead of to a democrat.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable member has been muzzled during the greater part of this session.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– No ; I have been a free-lance. I have had nothing to fight for. If my friends had stayed on the Treasury benches,_ I would have fought for them.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member must discuss the question.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– I hope that the motion will be carried”. I am in favour of applying the proposed new Standing Orders to motions as well as to Bills, because I should like to get my old-age pension motion through.

Mr McDonald:

– Then why not move an amendment to include motions.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– I will do so. I move -

That after the word “ Bill,” line 5, the words “or motion” be inserted.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– The bringing forward of this motion is further evidence of the demoralized state of this Parliament. To mv mind, it is a motion to further political log-rolling. Proposed new temporary standing order No. 214B, which reads -

Any such Bill may be sent to the Senate as if it had been introduced and passed by the House in the second session, has, in my opinion, been moved in order to confer a favour on a supporter of the Ministry. I take it that if a Bill were dealt with next session, and an attempt were made to resuscitate it in. the third session, that attempt would fail, because the proposed Standing Orders would not apply. The Government appear to be too weak to resist the pressure put upon them by their supporters. In South Australia Bills were revived under the provisions of an Act of Parliament.

Mr McDonald:

– The practice now proposed is not followed in the House of Commons.

Mr POYNTON:

– I do not know what their practice is, but in South Australia measures which have passed their second reading in one session can be revived in the next under the provisions of the Lapsed Bill Continuance Act, if, in the meantime, there has been no general election. In my opinion, this measure has been introduced to please the honorable’ member for Eden-Monaro, and to let him advance the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. This political log-rolling should not be allowed. I would point out that if the motion is agreed to, it will be impossible to prevent a very full discussion on the motion for resuscitation. I shall vote against the proposals of the Prime Minister, and divide the House upon them as a protest against the political log-rolling which has been practised this session.

Mr McCAY:
Minister of Defence · Corinella · Protectionist

– I ask the honorable member for Darwin not to press his amendment, because it is entirely useless. It might be thought that if a motion were debated very fully one session and restored to the businesspaper at the beginning of the next session, the speeches previously made would not be repeated. I would point out, however, that the restoration has to be effected by resolution, and that any honorable member could say all that he desired upon the motion to restore the business to the noticepaper. Therefore, nothing would be gained by including motions in the Standing Orders. With Bills the position is very different. For instance, if a Bill were advanced to its third reading, and prorogation took place, it could be restored to the business-paper by resolution at the stage at which it was dropped in the previous session. Therefore, only one stage would have to be gone through, in order to bring the Bill back to the position in which it was previously left. This would result in a considerable saving of public time. One honorable member has referred to the motion- being intended specially to meet the case of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, but he is in error. A similar standing order is in force in all the State Parliaments.

Mr McDonald:

– Only in three of them.

Mr Robinson:

– The House of Commons do not follow the practice proposed.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not know that the House of Commons presents a perfect model to us, so far as the saving of time is concerned. A similar standing order is in operation in three States Parliaments, and also in the Senate, and I think that from the point of view of saving the public time it is a most desirable one. It has never worked any harm.

Mr McDonald:

– It has not done much good.

Mr McCAY:

– In Victoria it was first proposed to initiate the practice now contemplated by means of the Lapsed Bills Continuation Bill. That measure passed the Legislative Assembly, but was lost in the Legislative Council, and the Assembly then adopted a standing, order similar in terms to that now under discussion. Whatever view honorable members may take of this matter, I would ask them to deal with it promptly for the reason that the next matter on the notice-paper is the Papua Bill, and as there are a number of amendments to be considered it is urgently necessary that at least a couple of hours should be available for the reprinting of the Bill before it is presented for the Royal assent.

Mr Fisher:

– Is it necessary to reprint it?

Mr McCAY:

– We must have a clean copy of some kind to present for the Royal assent.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– I support the proposal because I think that it is businesslike in character. In 1893 the Victorian Parliamentary Procedure Commission recommended among other things that a standing order similar to that now before us should be adopted. I suggest that the order might be made to apply to Bills that are received by this House from the Senate.

Mr McCay:

– There is some doubt as to whether we could do that.

Mr ISAACS:

– There may be a difficulty. I quite agree with the remarks of the Minister with regard to the inclusion of motions within the proposed Standing Orders. There may be other difficulties in addition to those which have been pointed out. For instance, it might be impossible for the honorable member in charge of a motion to again speak upon it, and furnish honorable members with much desired information. That would, in many cases, prove detrimental.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 8599

PAPUA (BRITISH NEW GUINEA) BILL

In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :

Clause 21 -

No intoxicants or opium shall be allowed to be imported into, or manufactured or sold, or otherwise disposed of in the Territory except as hereinafter mentioned -

No intoxicants or opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory except by written permission of a person duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor, and 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.

Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out clause 21, and insert the following new clause in lieu thereof : “ Intoxicants may be purchased, imported into, manufactured and sold in the Territory only by the Lieutenant-Governor or by officers duly appointed in that behalf, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the LieutenantGovernor, relating to the purchase, importation, manufacture, and sale thereof. “ No person other than as provided in the immediately preceding paragraph shall import into, manufacture, or sell in the Territory any intoxicants. “ Penalty : , £100. “ Intoxicants for the purposes of this section shall mean any wine, spirits, ale, beer, porter, cider, perry, or other spirituous or fermented liquor of an intoxicating nature.”

Mr McCAY:
Minister of Defence · Corinella · Protectionist

– The clause, as it now stands, was inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports whenthe Bill was previously before us, and was agreed to by a substantial majority. The clause absolutely forbids the importation or manufacture of intoxicants or opium, except by the Lieutenant-Governor, or persons duly authorized by him, and further provides that no intoxicants shall be supplied within the Territory, except upon the order of a medical practitioner, or some other person duly authorized. The Senate propose to omit that clause, and insert in lieu thereof a provision which is a substantial repetition of that now contained iri the Bill, with’ the important exception that once the importation or manufacture of intoxicants is permitted, all restriction upon the disposal of the liquor, so far as white residents are concerned, will be removed. That is to say, it will be no longer necessary to sell the liquor solely for medicinal purposes. The difficulty is this : It is very desirable that we should have a Constitution for Papua. At present, legislation in regard to the Possession is at a standstill. Its affairs are in the transition stage. The administration can be carried on, but legislation is blocked.

The alternatives before the Committee are, first, to insist upon the original clause, and to run the risk of losing the Bill, and, secondly, to suggest that the manufacture and sale of intoxicants shall be governed n~t by regulations, but by ordinance passed by the Executive Council in the Possession. If the traffic be regulated by ordinance, that provision, in conjunction, -.with (the clause which provides that ordinances relating to the sale of liquor to the natives shall be reserved for the assent of the Governor-General, will give the Executive Government of the Commonwealth full control of the matter. The third alternative is for .the two Houses to abandon their respective positions, and to entirely omit from this Constitution any provision regarding the sale of intoxicants. As honorable members are aware, I entertain very strong views upon this matter. But. despite those strong convictions, I cannot fail to recognise the urgent necessity of granting a Constitution to New Guinea, in order that the development of the Possession may proceed. I trust that we shall arrive at some conclusion which will enable us to pass the Bill this session.

Mr REID:
Minister of External Affairs · East Sydney · Free Trade

– I must very strongly indorse the appeal which has been made by my honorable colleague in regard’ to this matter. If honorable members will glance at the preamble to the measure, I think they will understand the situation. This Parliament has already adopted two resolutions, affirming its readiness to take over the administration of New Guinea. But until this measure becomes law, it is impossible to do that. At present the government is carried on under Royal Letters Patent by an Administrator, representing not the Commonwealth, but the British Government. Thus, in a roundabout way, we are really exercising authority through the King’s representative, who is in no way responsible to us. I repeat, we have passed two resolutions affirming our willingness to take over and govern the Territory. In consequence of those resolutions - as is recited in the preamble - the King, by Letters Patent, has provided1 that as soon as this Parliament enacts laws for the government of the Possession, a proclamation will be issued, under which its control will pass to the Commonwealth. We simply cannot allow the matter .to remain in the present position. If honorable members cannot see their way to accept any compromise con cerning the control of the liquor traffic, they might at least allow us .to obtain a measure which will bring the authority of the Commonwealth into force in regard to the Possession. The question as to the restrictions which should surround .the sale of intoxicants could be dealt with in a measure separate from this Bill. The ordinances now in operation in the Territory strictly prohibit the supply of intoxicants to the aborigines. Heavy penalties are provided for any offence in this direction, and I am assured that the law is being well administered. I would seriously appeal to honorable members to allow the Bill to pass, so that we may take over the government of the Possession. I need scarcely point out that the moment its administration passes to the authority of the Commonwealth, the whole of its government, and even its legislation, will be under (he control of this Parliament.

Mr Watson:

– Is the Prime Minister aware of the reason which has prompted the Senate to emit clauses 22 and 2^ from the Bill?

Mr REID:

– I am not. I .thoroughly respect the strong opinions which are entertained by honorable members with regard to the liquor traffic as it affects the natives of New Guinea. I do not ask them to sacrifice their principles to a greater extent than is fair, by way of compromise. If, however, they find it impossible to make any compromise, I appeal to them to eliminate the controversial element from the measure, in order that we may become responsible for the government of the Territory.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Does the Prime Minister intend to submit a motion?

Mr REID:

– We are merely discussing the matter at present, and1 I apprehend that it u not necessary to submit a motion at this stage.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I cam assur.j the Prime Minister that it is necessary to do so. Possibly, he may be disposed to move “ That the amendments of the Senate be now considered seriatim.”

Mr REID:

– I thought it was unnecessary to move any such motion, inasmuch as the House has resolved itself into Committee for the purpose of considering those amendments.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The course which I suggest is necessary under our Standing Orders.

Mr REID:

– Then, I move-

That the amendments be considered seriatim.

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– I _ trust that the remarks of the Prime Minister will carry some weight with honorable members. So far as I am able to ascertain, the whole development of New Guinea - even the interests of the natives themselves - will be seriously affected by the absence of legislation of this character. The officials there have nothing to guide them in the discharge of their public functions, in default of a declaration from this Parliament as to what are its intentions concerning the Territory. The land which .already belongs to the Crown, and which in some instances has been purchased from the natives, cannot be utilized in any reasonable way until this Bill has been placed upon the Statute-book. In view of that fact, and also of the circumstance that no party considerations are involved in the measure, I trust that honorable members will see fit to forego at least some portion of their convictions, so as to bring about the desired result. Personally, I cannot see that those who constitute a majority of the Committee, and who have taken up a very decided attitude regarding the sale of intoxicants in the Possession, have anything to lose by agreeing to the Senate’s amendment. I take it that their primary object is to safeguard the interests of the natives, and, surely, it cannot be urged that the position of the latter will be any worse than it is at present, if the supply of intoxicants be placed in the hands of a Government official. In. my judgment, the reverse will be the case. I would further point out that if, as the result of insistence upon our own views, the Bill be lost or withdrawn, the control of the liquor traffic will continue in the hands of private individuals, at all events until legislation dealing with that matter has been enacted. I think that honorable members ought to be content either to effect a compromise in the direction of placing the control of the traffic in the hands of the Commonwealth, or to entirely drop the provision which is in dispute. Personally, I am at a loss to understand why the Senate proposes to eliminate clauses 22 and 23. It is true that there is a saving provision in each of those clauses, which would be superfluous in the light of the amendment which has been made by the other Chamber. I trust, however, that honorable members will recognise the urgent necessity which exists for passing some measure conferring a Constitution upon New Guinea.

Mr LEE:
Cowper

– I have carefully listened to the remarks both of the Prime Minister and of the leader of the Opposition in regard to this question. They have strongly urged that a constitution should be granted to British New Guinea without any further delay. The obstacle in the way of that being done appears to be a difference of opinion between the Senate and this Chamber. I fail to see why the members of the Committee should give way any more than should the members of another place. An important question of principle is involved, and upon matters of principle we cannot compromise. I do not think that any satisfactory argument has been advanced in support of the view that we should agree to the Senate’s amendment. Honorable members should not forget that the principle of prohibition in relation to British New Guinea has been affirmed, not only by the present House of Representatives, but by the House of Representatives of the first Parliament. If the Ministry are anxious to secure the passing of the Bill they must take a decided stand on one side or the other. If a double dissolution takes place as the result of our opposition to the amendment of the Senate, the supporters of the new clause will be quite prepared to face the music.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Does the honorable member recommend that there should be a dissolution to settle the question?

Mr LEE:

– I should be quite prepared to go before the country upon this question. The supporters of the principle intend to stand by their guns.

Mr Bamford:

– The result will be that they will leave things as they are.

Mr LEE:

– The present ordinance is an excellent one, and if strictly administered, would be far better than the proposal which we are now asked to accept.

Mr Bamford:

– That is an argument against the honorable member’s own case. What about the remainder of the Bill ?

Mr LEE:

– All that I said was that the present ordinance is better than the system which the Senate propose. I believe, however, that prohibition would be the best of all, and the House would stultify itself if it gave way on the point. As a matter of fact the principle embodied in the amendment made by another place was fully discussed in this Chamber on an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Herbert, and was rejected by a majority of eight or ten votes. I am opposed’ to the State playing the role of publican. We know that the system has been tried in Western Australia by the opening of a State hotel at Gwalia, and that the people of that State were led to believe that it would be attended by excellent results. A member of the Western Australian Parliament recently submitted a motion in the State Legislature, asking for information in regard to the State hotel at Gwalia, and I take the following statement from the West Australian, of 24th November, 1904, showing the particulars which were subsequently submitted to Parliament: -

The following is the complete statement of accounts that was recently laid on the table of the Legislative Council, in compliance with a motion by Dr. Hackett : -

GWALIA STATE HOTEL.

Re Notice of Motion by Dr. Hackett :

I have the honour to forward herewith the information asked for, with the exception of that in paragraph 1. I explained in the answer the hotel was only opened in June, 1903, so the balance-sheet is made up from 3rd June, 1903, to 30th June, 1904.

S. King, Secretary for Mines. 15th November, 1904.

RE STATE HOTEL, GWALIA.

Re Notice of Motion by Dr. J. W. Hackett :

The balance-sheet of the Gwalia State Hotel up to the year ending 30th June, 1903.

Reply. - The Gwalia Hotel was only opened in June, 1903, consequently balance-sheet not prepared for the few days embraced in this request.

The balance-sheet for the year ending 30th June, 1904, distinguishing between the receipts derived respectively from the bar and from the hotel proper.

Reply. - Balance-sheet and profit and loss account from opening of hotel (June, 1903) to 30th June, 1904, herewith, which supplies the information asked for.

The amounts spent during these periods in salaries and wages, and in the general upkeep of the hotel.

Reply. - See profit and loss account and analysis and expenditure herewith.

The tariff of rates charged for drinks, meals, and bedrooms.

Reply. - Single room, per day, board and lodging, 12s. ; single room, per week, board and lodging,£3 3s. ; double room, per week, board and lodging, £6 6s. ; double room, per day, board and lodging, 24s. ; board only, per week, £2 2s., being at the rate of 2s. per meal ; single meal, 3s; single bed, 3s.

This is the result of State control. The State hotel at Gwalia is the only licensed house in the district.

Mr Watson:

– But drinks are sold there at1s. per glass.

Mr LEE:

-The report continues -

All drinks are retailed at1s. per glass, excepting aerated waters and colonial ale, which are sold at 6d. per glass or pint.

I read a statement a few months ago to the effect that the Premier of Western Australia had said that the system had proved a great success. These figures to my mind show that it has not. The West Australian points out that -

The total cost of building and furnishing, together with a few extras, was ,£6,748 9s. gd., and the hotel is indebted to the Colonial Treasurer for that amount. In any discussion upon the financial outlook the matter of depreciation has to be kept in sight. It has been calculated that a year’s depreciation would fairly represent, as regards £1,103 worth of furniture, ^220 ; as regards ,£276 worth of glass, crockery, linen, &c, ,£92 ; and as regards the hotel building - in view of its dependence on the uncertain returns from a mining district - a sum of ^320. The three amounts, ^220, ^92, and £320, make a total for depreciation of £632. It is not claimed that the latter figure represents the position with absolute accuracy, but the basis of computation in each case must be regarded as fair and reasonable. It becomes apparent, therefore, that the paper profit of £588 is entirely swallowed up by the amount representing annual depreciation, and that instead of a gain for the year under notice there has been a loss totalling something like ^44. It has to be borne in mind, moreover, that a merchant would expect a return of 6 or 8 per cent, on his outlay after all expenses - including allowance for depreciation - has been met. It appears, then, that the expenditure of Government money on this project has not been a commercially profitable venture; that instead of there being any tangible gain, there has been a loss on the first year that must equal at least ^400 or £500.

Mr Watson:

– Is not that a consolation to the honorable member ?

Mr LEE:

– Only to the extent that I hope it may lead honorable members to decide against State control of the liquor traffic in British New Guinea.

Mr Watson:

– Surely the honorable member derives consolation from the fact that the quantity of liquor sold at the State hotel in Western Australia is insufficient to make it a payable concern.

Mr LEE:

– The report shows that the State has entered upon a traffic in which it should not be engaged.

Mr Robinson:

– Oh !

Mr LEE:

– It is all very well for the honorable and learned member to take the side of the publican.

Mr Robinson:

– I object, Mr. Chairman, to the gross reflection which the honorable member has cast upon me. I do not touch intoxicating liquor, and am not on the side of the publican.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I did not hear the honorable member for Cowper cast any reflection on the honorable and learned member, but if he did I am sure that he will withdraw the remark.

Mr LEE:

– I do not know that I have cast any reflection on the honorable member.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member must not forget that publicans are against State control of the traffic.

Mr LEE:

– I am opposed to State control in this respect. If strong drink is to be sold, and the people are to be demoralized by it, the State certainly ought not to have anything to do with the traffic. We ought to stand by the principle which two successive Houses of Representatives have ratified. I can understand the anxiety of the Prime Minister that the Bill should be passed, and I think it augurs well that the first Constitution which we as a Parliament have had a hand in framing contains a provision for prohibition. I gave way to thu Minister of Defence on the canteen question, in order that he might secure the speedy passing of the amending Defence

Bill, but on this question I do not intend to give up anything. We must stand to our guns, and keep the prohibition flag flying. I disagree with the amendment, and hope that the clause will be carried as passed by us on a previous occasion.

Mr McCOLL:
Echuca

– The honorable member for Cowper stated several times that two Parliaments have passed this prohibition clause. That is not correct. It has been passed by only” a section of the Parliament. If two Parliaments had passed it, it would have become law. I supported the prohibition of liquor in NewGuinea when it was first proposed in this Chamber, and ever since, and pledged myself at the last election to support it. But I am now faced with this difficulty : The Commonwealth has taken control of the Territory, but until a Constitution is enacted, and things are brought into proper working order, that control cannot be complete, and the administration of affairs is not as satisfactory as it should be. The honorable member for Herbert has very pertinently inquired, “ Why not pass the rest of the Bill ?” The question we have to ask ourselves is, Are we justified, since we cannot at present enforce the particular principle of which we are in favour, in keeping affairs in New Guinea in a state of chaos from year to year? The Senate, as at present constituted, is no more likely to go back on its vote than we are. These are very serious considerations, whatever may be our views on the liquor traffic. It seems to me that if we wish to fulfil our responsibilities to the people of the Territory our wisest course is, in the meantime, to pass the Bill without the prohibition. If we reject it because the Senate will not comply with our request for prohibition, we shall gain nothing, while we shall lose nothing if we let the Bill pass without prohibition, and deal with this question again next session. No doubt the Government will give time for its consideration then, and if we can get the members of the Senate to change their minds on the subject, as I hope we shall, our object will have been attained, without in the meanwhile keeping the administration of affairs in New Guinea in a state of chaos. After the statements made by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, who, having been in charge of the Department of External Affairs, must be better acquainted with the facts relating to this Possession than is any other honorable member, it seems to me best to pass the Bill as amended by the Senate, leaving the liquor question to stand over until next session. I will support a compromise to that effect.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– The honorable member for Echuca, as an old Parliamentarian, must know that ‘ the arguments used by the Government in regard to this Bill are used by every Government which wishes to get rid of difficulties. What is done is to bring the Bill forward at a late period of the session, and then to say to those who are supporting some particular principle, “You have the alternative of sticking to your principle, or risking the loss of a very important and necessary measure.” If this Bill is as important as it is said to be, and as I believe it to be, why was it not introduced earlier in the session, so that it could be properly discussed ?

Mr McColl:

– The Government of which the honorable member was a Minister had an opportunity to have it dealt with.

Mr FISHER:

– I did my best to have it brought forward. It is now nearly three years since we passed the resolution in favour of taking over New Guinea. Do honorable members say that the Territory will suffer if we defer for a little longer the enactment of a Constitution for it?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
Minister for Home Affairs · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– We admit our incapacity to govern if we cannot pass a Bill of t’his kind to deal with the Territory.

Mr FISHER:

– The measure should have been introduced by Ministers at the proper time. Seeing that this is the first Constitution that we have been asked to pass, it would have been more statesmanlike to have had a special session for its consideration, than to ask honorable members to go back on their principles in regard to it, because of the urgency of passing it before this session closes. I have no objection to the State control of the liquor traffic. In my opinion, that is better than private control. I have, however, given certain pledges to my constituents in regard to this matter, and if I must decide whether the Bill shall pass, or whether I shall stand by my principles, I will choose the latter alternative. I would rather resign my seat, and contest the election again, in order that those who are the fountain of power may give their verdict on this question, than break my pledges.

Mr Bamford:

– What about the people in New Guinea?

Mr FISHER:

– It is unfortunate that they have to be legislated for by a Parliament which they have not elected. But have we any more right to pass any other provision relating to .them than we have to pass the provision prohibiting the introduction of intoxicants into the Territory ?

Mr Bamford:

– That is the most drastic provision in .the Bill.

Mr FISHER:

– It lias not been opposed with the virulence and unanimity that has characterized the opposition to the clause dealing with the alienation of land. I have great sympathy with those who differ from me, but there has been too much sneering on this subject. Although the Women’s Christian Temperance Union may take an interest in the question, it must not be forgotten that the members of that anion are citizens of the Commonwealth, and have a sincere regard’ for both our responsibilities and the interests of New Guinea. At the same time, their influence, though powerful, is not so strong as the vested interests of the liquor trade. I do not complain because those who are interested in the trade wish to safeguard their interests. They are carrying on an industry which is sanctioned by the laws of the Commonwealth, and they have a right to protect themselves in every lawful way. But in rreply to the statement of the honorable member for Echuca, that the Prime Minister will allow us to decide this question next ‘session, I warn honorable members that if it is not effectively dealt with in the Bill, it will be- a long time before we have another opportunity to discuss and settle it. I feel bound to stand by my old position, even if the Bill must be sacrificed in consequence. After all, it is only delaving for another session the enactment of this Constitution, which, though of great importance, should be a measure which will stand for years. It has been said that in times of emergency a quarter of an hour mav be as valuable as four or five years on other occasions. But this is not a national crisis which requires us to suddenly change our opinions to save the national honour or position. We are dealing merely with a machinery Bill whose enactment may be deferred without any great disturbance of the interests of either the Commonwealth or New Guinea.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– I do not feel disposed to retreat from the attitude which

I assumed in regard to this question when the measure was last before us, although I have every desire to assist the Prime Minister in passing the Bill. I am faced with this position, that I must either break an absolute and definite pledge given to my constituents, or, perhaps, allow the Bill to be sacrificed. The alternative is not a very pleasing one. While I wish to see the Bill pass, I am desirous of keeping faith with my constituents, and I feel that I cannot give way on a matter of principle. This question to me, whatever it may be to other honorable members, is vital. I fail to see that any good would come from adopting the suggestion of the Prime Minister, that we should let the Bill pass without this provision, discussing the matter again next session. We are now concerned in framing a Constitution for British New Guinea, under which the people will govern themselves, and if we passed the Bill without the provision inserted by this House, we should, when the subject comes up for consideration at a future date, be met with the objection, “The Constitution already passed by this Parliament allows the importation of liquor into New Guinea, and it would be unfair to deprive the people of the Territory of the rights which they are enjoying.” Having promised to vote for prohibition, I must not recede from the position which I previously took up.

Mr Reid:

– The honorable member’s pledge did not amount to a refusal to assent to any form of government unless effect was given to this provision in the present session. Why not pass the Bill as it stands, and renew the fight on the liquor question next session? Nothing will be gained by those who are in favour of prohibiting the introduction of liquor into British New Guinea if the passing of the Bill is postponed for another six months, while without the Bill chaos in the administration of the affairs of that country must continue.

Mr JOHNSON:

– There is a great deal of force in that contention, but as I have promised definitely to vote for prohibition, I must repeat the vote which I have already given.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).My views on this question are as strong as those of any member of the House, and if it were possible to prevent the use of intoxicating liquor anywhere, I would do so. I voted for the prohibition clause in the Bill. I believe that prohibition may be made effective in civilized communities; but whether it could be applied to the circumstances of Papua is an open question. I voted for prohibition without any great enthusiasm, because I recognised that much of the testimony that was brought to bear on the subject showed that it was very difficult to control the liquor traffic in the Possession. I am a prohibitionist, but I do not consider that I shall violate my principles by adopting the course I now intend to follow. I do not believe in State control, but the conditions in Papua are of an exceptional character, and we are called upon to do our best for the people there, and particularly for the natives. We are told that the present ordinance works very well. I cannot quite agree with that statement, because it appears to me that an immense quantity of liquor is consumed there. At the same time, if the liquor traffic be controlled by ordinance, we shall be able to hold the Government directly responsible for any abuses that may arise,, and it will be open to us at any time to introduce such modifications as may be suggested by experience. The question for us to consider is whether we shall risk the loss of the Bill - which contains a number of admirable provisions - by insisting upon absolute prohibition. Personally, I am prepared to compromise, and to concede the wishes of the Senate.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I think that it is incumbent upon us to do all we can to prevent the natives of New Guinea from obtaining intoxicants, and this end can be achieved only by exercising the very strictest control over the traffic.

Mr Reid:

– The present law works very well.

Mr KNOX:

– I shall vote as I did on a former occasion. It would be a calamity if machinery were not provided for properly controlling the liquor traffic in New Guinea.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I am a strong advocate of the prohibition of the drink traffic; but I must admit that the weight of the evidence tends to show that it is almost impossible to effectively prohibit the sale of liquor in British New Guinea. Failing prohibition, we should aim at insuring the most effective control. I believe that the Bill provides for exercising a more complete supervision over the traffic than that which at present exists, and doubtless it would largely eliminate the element of private gain. The conditions under which Papua is administered cannot be as satisfactory as we could wish, or we should not be invited to pass this measure. We are dealing not only with the drink traffic, but with the civil control of affairs in the Possession. In other words, we are giving Papua a constitution under which the Government is to be administered. I gather that the proposed constitution fairly meets the conditions, although I should have preferred to see provision for an elective Council. We are asked by the prohibitionists to sacrifice the whole of the other interests that, are affected by the Bill, in order to pass a clause which will be fully satisfactory to them ; but that would be pushing matters to extremes. Whilst we are strongly in favour of prohibition, the Senate favours a system of State control, and I think that under the circumstances we should proceed along the line of least resistance. There will be nothing to prevent our passing the Bill in the form desired by the Senate, and afterwards introducing an> amending Bill to deal specially with the drink traffic. We have embodied in this measure the most important principle of the nationalization of .the lands of the Possession, and that in itself is worth enacting, apart from every other consideration that may be involved in the measure. I am quite prepared to meet the Senate in this matter.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr REID:

– I think I can now make a proposal which will meet the views of most honorable members. The first proposal to come before the Committee under the Senate’s amendment will he .that clause 21 be left out. The omission of the clause would simply throw us back upon the existing stringent prohibitory law against the supply of liquor to the natives, which provides for inflicting heavy penalties, including imprisonment. If we start the legislative machine provided for in the Bill, it will be necessary under clause 43 to reserve for the assent of the Governor-General any laws which may be passed by the Legislative Council relating to the supply of intoxicants to the natives. Under these circumstances, the Governor-General’s advisers will become directly responsible to Parliament if they allow the present salutary laws to be altered. If honorable members agree to omit the present prohibitory clause, I snail not ask them to accept the clause proposed by the Senate to be inserted in lieu of it.

Mr Watson:

– Will that be acceptable to the Senate?

Mr REID:

– I shall have to risk that. I shall expect them to view the matter in the same light that we do. I feel that I ought not to ask the House to consent to carry out the views of the Senate, which are directly in conflict with those of a majority of honorable members. I propose that we should omit the present clause, and disagree with the Senate’s proposal to substitute another, and that we shall consequentially also omit other clauses. I therefore move -

That the amendment leaving cut clause 21 be agreed to.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– Unless a more satisfactory statement is forthcoming from the Prime Minister upon this question, I am not prepared to allow the Bill to pass. To my mind the Government are adopting a most unfair and undignified attitude. By a large majority this Committee decided to insert in the Bill a clause relating to the sale of intoxicants in New Guinea. What position does the Prime Minister now take up in regard to that provision? He does not say, “The Government refuse to agree with the Senate’s amendment,” but he proposes to accept that portion of it which eliminates the prohibition upon the sale of intoxicants which we inserted. He adds that he is prepared to allow the blank thus created to remain in the Bill, so that the matter may be open to further consideration. That means that the right honorable gentleman would gain his end by defeating not only prohibition, but also the State control of the liquor traffic.

Mr McColl:

– That is not a fair way of putting the matter.

Mr McDONALD:

– That is absolutely the position which the Prime Minister has taken up. It is idle to suggest that this subject could be brought forward by a private member next session. Unless the Prime Minister is prepared to make the question of the prohibition of the sale of intoxicants in British New Guinea the subject of a Government measure next session it will not be dealt with.

Mr Reid:

– I thought that the honorable member was so very much in earnest about’ the Government of British New Guinea.

Mr McDONALD:

– So I am.

Mr Reid:

– Then why not grant a Constitution to the Possession?

Mr McDONALD:

– I wish to make that Constitution as perfect as possible.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Let us come to a vote upon the matter.

Mr McDONALD:

– I do not think that that suggestion is altogether, a fair one. Honorable members will recollect that, a little while ago, there was a majority of thirteen in favour of imposing a prohibition upon the sale of intoxicants in British New Guinea.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Some honorable members have gone over to the other side since then.

Mr McDONALD:

– I can understand the position of those who say, “ There is no possibility of this Bill being passed into law, whilst it contains a provision in reference to prohibition, but there is a prospect of passing it if we subject the liquor traffic to State control.”

Mr Wilson:

– We have State control of the traffic under present ordinances.

Mr McDONALD:

– Only to a very limited extent. Drink is being supplied to the natives of the Territory in a wholesale fashion.

Mr Wilson:

– The missionaries deny that statement.

Mr McDONALD:

– The missionaries admit that they are in favour of State control of the traffic; but they acknowledge that the present system of control is inadequate. Under the circumstances, the proper course for us to adopt is either to accept or reject the Senate’s amendment. It has been urged that New Guinea must be granted a Constitution. I think that two years or more have elapsed since this Bill was originally introduced, but it is only now that an urgent appeal is made to grant thePossession a Constitution. Seeing that it has waited two years for a Constitution, surely it can wait another six months. The Prime Minister would then be in a position to take up this Bill during the first week of next session, and to deal with it thoroughly.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella - Minister of Defence). - I think that some misapprehension exists in regard to the exact position of affairs in connexion with this Bill. I speak as one who supported, and who strongly believes, in prohibition. But the fact is that in New Guinea things are just now in a state of transition. The Possession has not yet fully passed to our control. The result is that we are only able to carry on its administration under existing ordinances. It is true that this Bill was introduced two years ago, but every month which has since elapsed has rendered it more necessary that the existing state of affairs in the Possession should be ended. By 35 votes to 22 the Committee approved of a proposal to prohibit the sale of intoxicants there. The Senate by a majority of 21. to 13, inclusive of pairs, declined to accept that proposal. The position is that if the Bill contains no provision in reference to the sale of intoxicating liquors in New Guinea, the ordinances relating to that traffic, which are at present in force, will continue in operation. Those ordinances are very stringent-

Mr Isaacs:

– They may be altered at once.

Mr McCAY:

– Not without the consent of the Executive Government of the Commonwealth. Clause 43 provides that -

The Lieutenant-Governor shall not assent to any ordinance of any of the following clauses, unless the ordinance contains a clause suspending its operation until the signification of the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure thereon : -

any ordinance relating to the supply of arms, ammunition, explosive, intoxicants, or opium to the natives.

There can be no alteration of the existing law without the consent of the Executive.

Mr Isaacs:

– But without the intervention of this Parliament, it can be altered at once.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable and learned member seems to forget that the Executive should be left with some little responsibility, otherwise it would be useless. His views upon the responsibility of the Executive have undergone a very marked change during the past five years.

Mr Isaacs:

– Certainly not.

Mr McCAY:

– I recollect the time when the honorable and learned , member was a Minister of the Crown, and when he entertained very much stronger views than he now does upon this question.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will the Minister inform the Committee what is the precise effect of the Senate’s amendment?

Mr McCAY:

– I will deal with that matter presently. Clause 6 provides -

Every Ordinance of the said Possession, or Act or Statute of the State of Queensland adopted as an Ordinance of the Possession, relating to any of the matters enumerated in section 43 of this Act -

That includes the supplies of intoxicants and opium to the natives - shall be forthwith submitted to the GovernorGeneral, who may disallow any such Ordinance within three months from such submission, and such disallowance on being made known by the Lieutenant-Governor by Proclamation 01 by noti fication in the Gazette of the Territory shall annul the Ordinance from the day when the disallowance is so made known.

Consequently if we find that there is any ordinance in existence which offers facilities for the sale of liquor to the natives, the Commonwealth Executive may disallow it forthwith. If we do not insert in the Bill any provision regarding the control of the liquor traffic, we shall secure a Constitution under which no increased facilities for obtaining intoxicants can be provided without the consent of the Executive, and if any such facilities are accorded by the present ordinances they may be disallowed by the Governor-General. Knowing the strong opinion which is entertained by Parliament upon this matter, is it likely that the Executive would grant such facilities?

Mr Reid:

– In any case, it would be a disgraceful thing to do. .

Mr McCAY:

– The amendment made by the Senate does not provide for State control at all. It really constitutes a licence clause. It provides -

Intoxicants may bc purchased, imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory only by the Lieutenant-Governor or by officers duly appointed in that behalf, and under resolutions and conditions to be prescribed by the LieutenantGovernor relating to the purchase, importation, manufacture, and sale thereof.

Mr Isaacs:

– Under that amendment, would a private person be empowered to purchase liquor ?

Mr McCAY:

– I do not say that any private person could purchase liquor unless he was duly appointed by the GovernorGeneral. “‘State control “ is a phrase which is ordinarily used to apply to ownership and sale by some State agency.

Mr Isaacs:

– -Could any person purchase liquor for his own personal use under this amendment ?

Mr McCAY:

– - That is another matter. In the first place, I desire to deal with the intention of the Senate. Practically that Chamber has not prohibited the sale of liquor at all.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why, nobody can purchase it under this amendment except the officials there.

Mr McCAY:

– Exactly. That point had previously escaped my attention. Under the Bill, as it has been amended by the Senate, I find that no person could obtain a drink even upon a doctor’s order for medicinal purposes. That is an impossible situation. I do not think that we can agree to any such proposal. It is clear that we can- not accept that amendment as it stands. We may say to the Senate, “ We will leave out our prohibition clause, which is not nearly so stringent as your own. The amendment made by you is so stringent that a sick man would have to be appointed an officer before he could obtain alcohol.”

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is the honorable and learned gentleman arguing against the amendment ?

Mr McCAY:

– Against the Senate’s amendment. We desire to secure this Constitution for Papua. If we pass it without any clause relating to the liquor traffic, we shall allow the operation of the ordinances with all these safeguards mentioned in clauses 6 and 43. We must either agree to omit the prohibition clause from the Bill, and trust to the ordinances to safeguard the liquor traffic, or the Bill will not be passed.

Mr Johnson:

– There is no chance for the medicine chest under the Senate’s proposal.

Mr McCAY:

– There is not.Theliquor question is one of the few upon which I hold very strong views. I say with a full recognition of my responsibility as a temperance man, that 1 feel that we ought not to insist upon the clause as originally passed by the Committee when the alternative is the loss of the measure. I find that the Senate’s amendment does not express in the least degree what it was intended to express, but imposes a prohibition. The Senate meant to provide that the sellers should be controlled, but it has practically prohibited the trade.

Mr Knox:

– If the Bill be found unsatisfactory, will the Government give the House an opportunity in the coming session to reconsider the question?

Mr McCAY:

– It is always possible for any honorable member to bring in a Bill.

Mr Reid:

– We could not give any definite time, in view of the possibility of stone-walling, but we could allow reasonable time for the consideration of such a matter.

Mr McCAY:

– If our proposal be accepted, the Government will undertake to give reasonable time to consider an amending Bill in the early part of next session, so that the House may be able to fight out this question again. This will not settle the question for good and all. We can amend the Constitution of Papua at any time, and the Government undertake to give a reasonable time in the early part of the coming session for the consideration of this question, so that honorable members may thresh it out as between themselves and another place. I therefore urge honorable members to accede, not only to the wishes of the Prime Minister, whose view of this question is the opposite of my own, but to those of members of the Government who share the view of the majority on this question. We ask them to adopt this course, in order that we may set to work with our legislative arrangements for the development of the Possession. It is on these grounds that I make any appeal to the Committee.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I do not think the Government know where they are in this matter. The Prime Minister desires that clause 21 shall be struck out, but ] hope that the Committee will stand by its previous decision. The question of State control of the liquor traffic of Papua was fought out on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Herbert - which was defeated by eight votes - and the clause was finally carried by a majority of thirteen votes. The proposal of the Government that the traffic should be left under a sort of State control is one of so socialistic a character that if it had been made by any other Ministry there would have been a loud outcry against it. I do not know why we should prorogue to-day.

The CHAIRMAN:

– That is not the question before the Chair.

Mr CROUCH:

– I am very sorry that we have not made one more determined effort to shift this crowd.

Mr Reid:

– The honorable member will shortly.be shifted to Corio for six months.

Mr CROUCH:

– It is lamentable that a Government which is so much distrusted should be allowed to go into recess to administer the affairs of the country for the next six months. The Minister has said that this is a vital part of the Bill. If the Government are prepared to make it a vital question, let us make one final effort.I wish the Government to protect the rights of the House by standing by the prohibition clause, which was carried by a majority of thirteen votes. I shall vote for that clause, and trust that the honorable member for Cowper will stand by it. This will be practically our last opportunity to bring the principle of prohibition into operation in Papua, and even if it is only by way of protest against the action of the Govern ment, I trust that the matter will be pressed to a division.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– The Minister has pointed to certain provisions in this Bill; and while I think that there is a good deal of force in some of his observations, I do not consider that they go far enough. It is quite true that under clause 6 the laws in force will remain until altered, and that under clause 43 any ordinance relating to the supply of arms, ammunition, explosives, intoxicants, or opium to the natives requires the signification of .the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure. But that leaves tlx door entirely open. It leaves the LieutenantGovernor perfectly free to make any order he likes, without the assent of the Governor-General, as to the supply of liquor to any persons other than natives. The moment that is done, the door will be left wide open. He will be able to make any order he. likes, at the discretion of the white residents, to allow persons who are not natives to obtain it.

Mr Reid:

– He may import a thousand hogsheads of whisky to give to the natives ; he may do all sorts of extraordinary things.

Mr ISAACS:

– Then he is not the only one who does extraordinary things. I think it is the duty of the Parliament to. check such a power.

Mr Reid:

– Some of the honorable and learned member’s extraordinary things have not come off.

Mr ISAACS:

– Our duty is to do the best we can, without leaving any loop-hole, for the natives of Papua. I do not think we should leave it open to this or any other Government to exercise its discretion as it may think best, with regard to any ordinance that may come from the LieutenantGovernor. It would be a very serious thing for the Commonwealth to veto an order of the Lieutenant-Govenor of the Territory. Another point which I think is pertinent to the question raised by the Minister of De- . fence is that I am not sure whether, in our hurry to pass this Constitution, we are not doing something that is ultra vires; I am not sure that we can delegate such enormous legislative powers as are sought to be delegated by this Bill. I think it will be a> matter for judicial interpretation, if this Bill be passed, whether we have not gone too far. Under section 122 of the Constitution, we have power to make laws for the government of the Territory ; but whether we can delegate the power to make laws in a legislative sense is a very important consideration. The provisions for carrying out the present ordinances in relation to liquor are not sufficient to give effect to the present intention of the Committee. If we are of the same mind as we were before - if we still think that the clause is a proper one to insert in the Constitution - we ought to stand by it.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
Minister for Home Affairs · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Then we shall leave things as they are.

Mr ISAACS:

– But the point is-

Mr McCay:

– Without the Bill the Lieutenant-Governor could do all the heinous things the honorable and learned member says he could do if the Bill became law.

Mr ISAACS:

– I do not think that he could. We are purporting to give him far more extensive powers. We are framing a Constitution for Papua, and it seems to me that we should not shirk the responsibility of adhering to a very great principle, and of fulfilling a duty, which I conceive to be of a very high character, with regard to the natives of the island.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I trust that in the closing hours of the session there will be some show of temperance on the part of the supporters of the principle at issue. The position seems to me that at present the Lieutenant-Governor has power, among other things, to impose ordinances regarding the sale of liquor. But it this Bill be not passed, he will continue to have that power. There is no possibility of securing the Senate’s acceptance of the clause as passed by this Chamber. The Senate has unmistakably indicated that it has adopted what it conceives to be a better way, in the interests of. true temperance, to restrict the sale of liqour in the Territory. At present there are ordinances in force which, on the testimony of missionaries and others, have been shown’ to be effective to a very great extent in checking the sale of liquor. Tf we pass the Bill without the clause relating to the liquor traffic, those ordinances will remain m force, while if we pass the Bill as amended by the Senate, there will be a still greater restriction of the traffic. I am prepared either to leave things as they are, or to agree to the Senate’s amendment.

Mr Isaacs:

– Or to vote for the clause as passed by us?

Mr ROBINSON:

– The honorable and learned member must recognise that it is impossible during the present session to secure the acceptance of that clause by another place. An hour and a half hence the Governor-General will, attend to knock the proceedings of this session on the head –much to the relief of the public of Victoria.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss that matter.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Then perhaps I had better say that the Governor-General will attend to bring the proceedings of the session to a close, not to the relief of the people of this State.

Mr Crouch:

– Is the honorable Member in order in intimidating the Committee by a threat that if we do not do a certain thing the Governor-General will proroguethe Parliament ?

The CHAIRMAN:

– I do not think that any remark made by the honorable and learned member was in the nature of intimidation.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I shall not detain the Committee longer. I ask that in the interests of temperance we may be allowed to come to a settlement of this question.

Mr HUTCHISON:
Hindmarsh

– I do not like the idea of losing the Bill, but I do not think that we shall lose the Bill by insisting on our amendment. The Senate have shown their willingness to accept an even more drastic provision. They would even prevent a sick man from obtaining liquor to be used medicinally.

Mr McCay:

– They would agree to an amendment which would remedy that mistake.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– I do not wish to give way in regard to an amendment which was carried in this Chamber by a substantial majority. The attitude of the Senate seems to show that they could not have given the question proper consideration. It is all very well to say that the ordinances are drastic, and that we should obtain State control ; but, although I am in favour of State control, New Guinea is about the last place wherein I should like to try the experiment. I ask the Committee to give the Senate another opportunity to see the absurdity of their own amendment. Then, perhaps, they will accept our clause.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I cannot congratulate the Government on their attitude in regard to this matter. The Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition seem tohave formed an unholy combination, to be revenged on the honorable member for Cowper, the new leader whom we are proud to follow on this question.

Mr Robinson:

– He agreed to a compromise early this morning, and now he wishes to get out of it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We have, by an overwhelming majority, agreed toapply the principle of prohibition to Papua, and the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence have permitted as much time to be occupied this morning in discussing their proposal to disagree to the Senate’s amendment as would have allowed us to send back the Bill to the Senate to ascertain their further views on the subject. As we have pronounced by such a large majority in a certain direction, we should send the Bill back to the Senate with the least delay. Then, if the Senate insist on their amendment, it will be for us to consider whether we should give way, or sacrifice the Bill. The Government should, however, first exhaust the constitutional resources at its command, to try to give effect to the will of this Chamber. That has not yet been done.

Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- The Government have not met the Committee in a proper spirit. Last Parliament the prohibition clause was carried by an overwhelming majority, and the Barton. Government, because they did not approve of that clause, consigned the measure to the waste-paper basket. We received no intimation then that it was absolutely necessary to at once pass a Constitution for New Guinea. We were not told that the Territory was yearning for a Constitution. Then the Bill was re-introduced, and honorable members showed more determination than before in regard to this question. Now, however, the Senate has made an amendment, and we are asked to go back on whatwe have resolved. If we agree to a portion of the Senate’s amendment, honorable members in another place will have totake the question into consideration again. Is it not reasonable to suppose that, as the Senate passed its clause with a large majority, it will not back down?

Mr McCay:

– Members there are as reasonable as we are.

Mr McDONALD:

– I regard this as a cunning move on the part of the Government. They will then be able to send the Bill back to the Senate, and in the event of a further disagreement between the Houses, they could, if they wished to do so, force a double dissolution. Of course, thev might not consider the measure of sufficient importance to do that, but it would be always within their power to do it. I am prepared to take a vote on the first amendment; but if we are defeated in regard to it, I shall be ready to go even to the length of stone-walling the Bill until the hour of prorogation arrives.

Mr. KNOX (Kooyong).- The Prime Minister has given the assurance that if we are not successful in enforcing our amendment, which we carried by an overwhelming majority on two occasions, we might agree to the excision of the clause in order that a Constitution may be given to New Guinea, allowing the matter to be considered again next session. The ordinances now controlling the liquor traffic there will still continue in force, and I therefore suggest’ that we should vote against the amendment of the Senate, with a view to retaining our original proposal. If we fail, we can vote for the omission of the clause. We shall be then in no worse position than we should be if the Bill were talked out. I suggest that we stick to our original provision, and if we do not obtain what we want, let us rely on the assurance of the Government that they will bring in an amending Bill next session.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I wish to know from the Minister of Defence if his promise will be as well kept as that made by the Prime Minister on the 8th December, when he said that honorable members would be afforded an opportunity to discuss the scope of the Tariff Commission before Parliament prorogued?

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member, in addressing himself to the question before the Chair, is, of course, allowed incidentally to ask questions of Ministers; but it is not in order to ask a categorical question of this kind in regard to an irrelevant matter.

Question - That clause 21 be left out - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 21

NOES: 20

Majority……… 1

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed) -

That the amendment inserting new clause in lieu of clause 21 be disagreed to.

Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie

– I sincerely hope that the Government will not precipitate a disagreement with the Senate upon this important question. The Committee have adopted the sensible course of removing the clause originally inserted, but I fail to see any justification for the extreme step now proposed.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order ! I would ask honorable members not to violate the Standing Orders by walking about the chamber, or by conducting conversations in a loud tone of voice.

Mr FRAZER:

– The Prime Minister has stated that the new clause proposed by the Senate would be unworkable, but I submit that by means of a slight alteration it can be made perfectly effective. There is some doubt as to whether the new clause as it stands would prohibit the sale of liquor to persons other than those specially mentioned. the intention might be rendered perfectly clear by the insertion after the word “ purchased.” of the words “for the purposes of trade.” The clause would then provide that intoxicants might be purchased for the purposes of trade, imported into, manufactured, and sold solely by the LieutenantGovernor, or officers acting under his authority. Thus the traffic would be carried on by Government officers under Government supervision, and I think that we should be prepared to go thus far in order to meet the views of the other Chamber.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella- Minister of Defence). - I quite agree with the honorable member that his suggested amendment would assist in making clear what I have no doubt was the intention of the Senate. But even if we take the clause 10mean what we presume is intended, namely, that the Governor-General and his officers shall be entitled to purchase liquor for the purpose of importation into the Territory, the clause will afford no effective safeguards beyond those already provided for under the existing law. It will not in the least degree control the sale of liquor to the natives or whites.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order. We have nearly reached the end of our work, and in the interest of public business I would suggest that those honorable members who wish to conduct conversations should retire from the chamber, instead of interfering with the course of the debate. I may as well intimate now that I intend to name the next honorable member who offends in the manner indicated.

Mr McCAY:

– Under the new clause, the Lieutenant-Governor may license any one he likes as an importer of liquor. Provision is made merely for a system of licences under another name - for the practical perpetuation of the existing system. The clause does either that or nothing, and those honorable members who think that it will bring about the nationalization of the liquor traffic are labouring under an entirely wrong idea. The mere substitution of a man called an officer for a man called a licensee will not effect any real change. I prefer to accept the ordinances as they stand, and fight out the question of prohibition next session. I would again appeal to honorable members to assist in passing the Bill, which will give the Possession the benefits of a much-needed Constitution.

Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie).- The Minister, whilst expressing a desire to pass the Bill, is really endangering it by proposing to reject a proposal which has been agreed to by a two-to-one vote in the other Chamber. I do not agree with the Minister that the clause will not take us a step forward in the direction of nationalizing the liquor traffic. I think that it will be best to adopt the Senate’s proposal, with the explanatory words I have suggested. I therefore move -

That the following words be added : - “ but that the amendment be amended by inserting after the wordpurchased, line 1, the words for the purposes of trade.’ “

Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I should like to know the real meaning of these words. It appears to me that we are getting into a greater tangle than ever. That fact merely serves to show how necessary It was that the Committee should adhere to its original decision. Practically no reasons have been given in support of the amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.

Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).- I do not think that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie realizes the effect of his proposal. It seems to me that if it were adopted no person in New Guinea would be able to purchase liquor for his own consumption.

Mr Frazer:

– Nonsense.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella - Minister of Defence). - I accept the amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, because in its present form the clause is open to the interpretation that no person other than the Lieutenant-Governor or an authorized officer can purchase intoxicants in New Guinea. I think that we should adopt any amendment which, will have the effect of making theintention of the Senate somewhat clearer. My acceptance of the proposal of the honorable member does not alter the attitude which the Government assume towards the amendment of the other Chamber. That amendment merely substitutes a person who is called an “ officer “ for one who is called a “ licensee,” and therefore it is unsatisfactory. I do not desire that the clause shall beopen to the interpretation that the purchase of a dram of liquor for a sick man is absolutely forbidden.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- There is no doubt that to a certain extent what the Minister has said is right. But I would point out that whereas the amendment of the Senate would prevent any person other than the Lieutenant-Governor, or an authorized officer, from purchasing any liquor whatsoever, the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would leave its purchase absolutely free of all restrictions.

Mr McCay:

– For white people.

Mr ISAACS:

– For any person. It draws no distinction whatever as to colour. I do not know that the Lieutenant-Governor would have power to impose any restriction upon the purchase of liquor, except to insist that it should be purchased for sale. Seeing that when intoxicants are purchased for the purposes of trade, he may make regulations dealing with the matter. I think there wouldbe a strong implication thathe ought not to make regulations for any other purpose. My own idea is that the adoption of the amendment of the honorable member forKalgoorlie would weaken the clause.

Mr McCay:

– What about the provision in its present form?

Mr ISAACS:

– In my opinion, it goes altogether too far in the other direction.

Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) proposed -

That the amendment (Mr. Frazer’s) be amended by leaving out the word “trade” and inserting in lieu thereof thewords “medicine only.”

Mr McCAY:

-I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the adoption of his proposal would produce a very remarkable result. It would provide that’ any person in the Territory could purchase intoxicants, except for medicinal purposes, and that the only individual who could obtain them for those purposes would be the Lieutenant-Governor.

Mr GLYNN:
Angas

– It seems to me that it is not possible to give effect to the desire of the Senate. Consequently, I suggest that the matter should be allowed to stand overuntil next session, upon the understanding thatthe Governor-General will be requested to issue instructions to the Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea, not to assent to any Bill which would increase the facilities for the sale of intoxicants.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable andlearned member meansany Bill making liquor more easily obtainable.

Mr GLYNN:

– Any Bill against the desire of the House not to suspend prohibition, but to keep the existing ordinances in force.

Mr McCAY:

– I willingly give the undertaking that the Government will exercise whatever power the Executive possesses under this Bill, to prevent liquor ordinances which, would in any way increase the facilities for obtaining liquor in British NewGuinea, if honorable members will in return allow us to carry our proposals and secure the sanction of the Senate to them. We will exercise all our powers to prevent any interference with existing liquor ordinances that would in any way increase facilities for obtaining liquor. The Government undertake to do that, and everything reasonably within our power to insure that the manifest desire of both Houses of the Parliament, althoughthat desire has been expressed in different terms, shall be carried out. If honorable members will accept that assurance and agree with our suggestions, wemayyet secure the passing of the Bill.

Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I think, Mr. Chairman-

Mr.McColl.- More time wasting.

Mr McDONALD:

– I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to protect me.

Mr McColl:

– We must at once brand the honorable member.

Mr McDONALD:

– If I am to be continually insulted by the honorable member for Echuca, I shall have to retaliate. I presume that there is a certain degree of sincerity in the statement of Ministers that they are anxious thatthis Bill should, be passed, although it is singular that we have never been told before that a Constitution for Papua is such an exceedingly urgent matter. If the Government are sincere, they should give the Committee a distinct promise that one of the first Bills to be introduced next session will be one to prohibit the sale of liquor in British New Guinea.

Mr Frazer:

– How can they do that when they are divided on the question?

Mr McDONALD:

– I am putting a question to the Minister , The Minister of Defence knows very well that it is practically impossible for a. private member to secure the passing of a Bill

Mr McCay:

– We have promised to give reasonable time.

Mr McDONALD:

– Did not the Government give whatthey thought was a reasonable time to the, honorable member for Eden-Monaro, tosecure the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ?

Mr Robinson:

– An unreasonably long time.

Mr McDONALD:

-It would be impossible for a private member to carry such an important Bill through, and I think the Government should give a promise that, if their proposals be agreed to, they will, early next session, introduce a Bill prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors in New Guinea. I do not ask them to be responsible for it. All that I urge is that they should introduce it as a Government’ measure, and hand it over - if they desire to do so - to the care of an honorable member, just as they have handed over other Bills. If that were done, the Bill could be considered in the time allotted to Government business, and we should have some guarantee of its being passed. Unless we carry a prohibition clause in this Bill, I fear that an opportunity to secure the prohibition of the liquor traffic in New Guinea will be indefinitely postponed. I appeal to the Minister as one who favours prohibition, to give us the assurance which I seek. If he will do so, I shall be prepared to come to a vote.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I would ask the Minister of Defence whether he thinks it is fair, in the closing hours of the session, when there are only a few honorable members present, to ask us to reverse a decision which was arrived at by a large majority of the Committee.

The CHAIRMAN:

– We are now dealing with an amendment upon the Senate’s amendment.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The amendment would deliberately reverse a decision that has been arrived at by .this House on two occasions by a substantial majority. This morning we adopted a standing order which would give the Government power to bring this Bill forward in the early part of next session. I do not think we should be justified in reversing a decision of the House - a decision arrived at by a substantial majority - by one vote, as was the case this morning.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio). - The amendment I have moved means a fight between health and sanitation and trade materialism and commercialism. It is a case of medicine versus trade. The Government, true to their commercial instincts, stick to trade, and care nothing for the sufferings of the sick, who, if their proposal were adopted, might not be able to secure the stimulants necessary for their recovery. The honorable member for Melbourne Forts, who has always been an enthusiastic supporter of temperance legislation, and was really responsible for this temperance provision, is absent in the discharge of his duty, as a member of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, and it seems to me that it would be a great mistake not to allow the Bill to stand over until next session. I > ask the Government, however, to accept my amendment, for it would really meet the desire of the. Committee. The Ministry, apparently, are not prepared to accept it, simply because of a fad. They are prepared to sacrifice the opportunity to obtain a Constitution for Papua this session, simply because of a desire to stand by trade. I propose that we should say, in effect, to the Senate, “ We will accept your amendment, but we desire that alcohol shall be available in Papua for the purposes of medicine.” In view of all the circumstances, I appeal to the Government to accept my amendment, which would be beneficial alike to the natives and the white residents of Papua. As I desire to see the Committee proceed to a division, because the principle at stake is a very important one, I shall refrain from further occupying the attention of honorable members.

Mr McCAY:

– If the honorable and learned member be in earnest, and I presume he is, he is professing a desire to secure that liquor shall be used in British New Guinea only for medicinal purposes. He proposes to secure that result by an amendment which provides that any one in New Guinea, except the LieutenantGovernor and those appointed by him, may purchase liquor for any but medicinal purposes. 1

Amendment of the amendment negatived.

Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- The amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, which is now before the Committee, provides for the insertion of certain words, which will have the effect of permitting trading to be done in regard to intoxicants and opium.

Mr Isaacs:

– Not in regard to opium.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– We carried in clause 21 a provision restricting the trafficking in liquor or opium.

No intoxicants or opium shall: be allowed to be imported into or manufactured or sold or otherwise disposed of in the Territory except as hereinafter mentioned.

The honorable member for Kalgoorlie proposes, in effect, to negative that.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The Committee has already agreed to the omission of clause 21.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– By a majority ot only one vote, obtained by a snatch division in a thin Committee. .

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member must not reflect upon the decision of the Committee. I ask him to confine his remarks to the amendment.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is it not a fact that the original provision, which has now been reversed by a majority of one, was agreed to by a majority of something like thirteen ?

The CHAIRMAN:

– We are now dealing, not with clause 21, but with a new clause, which the Senate has inserted in lieu of it, and which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie proposes to amend. I ask the honorable member to discuss the amendment.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I am afraid that if we insert the words proposed to be inserted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, we shall pave the way for illicit trafficking in liquor and opium, which is the reverse of what was intended by honorable members when they agreed to clause 21 in a full Committee. At the present time not half of our members are present. It would be unfair to those who are absent to agree to the insertion of these words. I register my protest against the proposal, and shall divide the Committee upon it.

Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Frazer’s amendment)be added - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 22

NOES: 14

Majority……… 8

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- I think that we are getting into a fearful tangle in regard to this Bill. If the clause be accepted in the form proposed, there will be the almost necessary implication that liquor may be purchased by any person without restraint of any kind whatever, so long as it is not purchased for the purposes of trade. Honorable members should distinctly understand that by adopting the proposed new clause, we should not only reverse the votes given when the Bill was formerly under discussion, but do exactly the opposite of what was then desired. I think the proposal is a dangerous one, and in order to modify it I move -

That the following words be added : - “ And by inserting after the word ‘ behalf,’ line 4, the words ‘ and only for purposes of medicine. “

I do not wish to see the clause adopted, but as it may be accepted by the Committee, I. desire to render it as innocuous as possible.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- Do the Ministry intend to apply the Gothenberg system ?

Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Whilst I am in favour of State control of the liquor traffic in New Guinea, I think that in our desire to confer some kind of Constitution upon the Possession, we may reasonably forego our wishes in regard to the liquor traffic.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Senate’s amendment inserting new clause disagreed to.

Clauses 22 and 23 (Prohibition against supply of intoxicants or opium to, or possession by, natives).

Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out clauses 22 and 23.

Motion (by Mr. McCay) proposed -

That the amendment be agreed to.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi). - I am surprised that the Minister should propose to agree to this amendment. The Senate propose to strike out clauses which specially prohibit intoxicants from being sold to natives, and, further, prohibit natives from having intoxicants or opium in their possession.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- I am perfectly aware of what the Minister has stated, but I contend that it is our duty not to intrust this question to any Government. We ought to adhere to our resolution to make-

V v. 3 distinct and clear declaration upon this subject. It is our solemn duty to stamp upon the face of the constitution a declaration of the policy we intend to adopt towards the natives with respect to intoxicants. We are assuming a very serious responsibility, and I think that we should adhere to the important provisions that now appear in the Bill. If they are included among the present ordinances, what possible objection can there be to retaining them?

Progress reported.

page 8617

QUESTION

POLICE: OVERTIME

Mr MALONEY:

– With the permission of the House, I desire to ask a question of the Prime Minister. I understand that the policemen who are on duty at the House are not paid for more than eight hours’ duty per day, although they may be kept here for eighteen hours on end. I am sure that no honorable member desires that. I would, therefore, ask the Prime Minister if he can see his way to communicate with the State Premier, with a view to entering into some arrangement for removing an injustice that has been too long perpetrated.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– The honorable member brought this matter under my notice this morning, and if his representations are borne out, I shall take the responsibility of seeing that the men are properly remunerated.

page 8617

TARIFF COMMISSION

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– I desire to say a word or two with regard to the Tariff Commission. I quite recognise that the Government have accepted the responsibility for the appointment of the Tariff Commission, both as to its personnel and its scope. I need hardly say that we are not altogether satisfied with the frame of the Commission.

I do not think that the terms of the Commission set out clearly, explicitly, and with proper limitations the scope of the inquiry which honorable members upon this side of the House desired to see expressed in that document.

Mr McColl:

– The honorable and learned member has had some days in which to urge his objections.

Mr ISAACS:

– I should like to express my opinion upon this matter in as few words as possible. In the terms of the Commission an expression is used which will enable the members of that body to range over the whole Tariff from lop to bottom. I do not agree with that idea. I do not think that any necessity has been shown for the adoption of such a course. Personally, I am of opinion that it will be conducive to unrest and instability in commercial circles, and that it may lead to the disorganization of trade, through a fear - more or less real - that business relations

Mr Reid:

– The honorable and learned member does not object to these evils in regard to some industries, whose interests he wishes to conserve.

Mr ISAACS:

– We desire to correct what we regard as evils incidental to the operation of the Tariff - evils which are working a great deal of damage, not only to commerce, but to labour in. various industries. I should have preferred to see the scope of the Commission’s inquiries confined to those portions of the Tariff in which relief has been shown to be necessary. However, the Prime Minister has included in the terms of the commission issued to the members of that body, a preamble which is in the nature of an exhortation to them to confine their attention to a more limited field than is embraced in the operative part of the Commission. I hope that that preamble will be acted upon. A request is also made that the Commissioners will furnish a report without unnecessary delay. That, too, I trust, will receive due attention. It seems to me that the Government have, to a large extent, transferred the responsibility for doing the right thing to the shoulders of the Commission. I hope that its members will prove equal to the discharge of their trust.

Mr Reid:

– The honorable and learned member might write a letter to them, telling them how they should go to work.

Mr ISAACS:

– I have practically said all that I desire to say. I repeat that 13 h honorable members upon this side of the House accept no responsibility in connexion with the constitution of that Commission. We have done the best that we can under the circumstances, and we trust that its labours will be productive of better results than we anticipate.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– I do not regard the reading which has been adopted by the honorable and learned member for Indi as the only construction which can be placed upon the terms of the Commission. I am inclined to thing that charter can be read in precisely the form in which - judging from his arguments - ‘he desires it to be read. First of all, it contains an intimation to the Commission that complaints have been made that industries are being injured by the operation of the Tariff. Those complaints, I assume, will naturally receive priority of treatment. A general phrase follows, but it conveys no instruction to the Commission to institute a search where a search is not called for. I would remind the honorable and learned member that the Tariff Commission will occupy, to a large extent, the position of a Court. A Court does not go over the country inquiring into a variety of matters concerning which there is no complaint ; and I assume that it will be the first and perhaps the only duty of this Commission to investigate complaints made.

Mr Isaacs:

– But inasmuch as its Chairman has not a casting vote in regard to the adoption of the report, the Commission falls very far short of presenting an analogy to a Court.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I expressly desired and contended that any Commission of this, character should be merely in the nature of a Court of Inquiry. The casting vote with the safeguards introduced is therefore of little value. Personally, I decline tobe bound by its report, or by that of any other Commission, and that is why I take no “exception to its personnel; realizing, as I do, the difficulties which surround theappointment of the Commissioners, it seems, to me that they have been as fairly chosen as we could expect under the circumstances.

page 8618

PROROGATION

The Usher of the Black Rod being announced was admitted, and delivered themessage that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the immediate attendanceof honorable members in the Senate chamber.

Mr. Speaker, accompanied by honorable members, then proceeded to the Senatechamber, where His Excellency the GovernorGeneral was pleased to deliver a speech (vide page 8588), declaring Parliament prorogued until the 21st January,. 1905-

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 December 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041215_reps_2_24/>.