House of Representatives
13 September 1905

2nd Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2192

QUESTION

QUEENSLAND SHIPPING CONTRACT

Mr CULPIN:
BRISBANE. QLD

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister, in reference to a statement published in to-day’s Argus, if he has heard from the Premier of Queensland in reference to the contract entered into by that State with the Orient Steamship Company?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I received a copy of the contract this morning.

page 2192

SHIPPING SERVICE COMMITTEE

Motion (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to -

That the Select Committee on the shipping service between the Commonwealth and the

United Kingdom have power to report the minutes of evidence from time to time.

page 2192

PAPER

Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following paper : -

Correspondence relating to’ the Immigration Restriction Act.

page 2192

QUESTION

COST OF MAIL-BAGS

Mr THOMAS:
BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Postroaster-

General, upon notice -

  1. What is the cost per 1,000 of the D iron rings which are attached to mail-bags in New South Wales?
  2. What is the cost per yard of, canvasused in making mail-bags in the same State ?
  3. What is the cost (labour only) of mailing 3, 4, 5, and 6 feet bags.?
  4. How many bags were made each year during the past five years?
  5. What is the costof having the name of the State printed on Bags? 6., How many seals are in use throughout the State of New South Wales for sealing mail-bags?
  6. What is the average cost per seal ?
Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Postmaster-General · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.

Mr TUDOR:
YARRA, VICTORIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

Whether he will give the House the following information : -

  1. What is the amount of allowance paid to the man in charge of the post-office at North Brighton, Victoria ?
  2. What amount of business has to be done by an allowance post-office before it is turned into an official post-office?
  3. How many post-offices are worked on the allowance system in Victoria?
  4. How many post-offices are worked on the allowance system in each of the other States ?
Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible;

page 2192

REPRESENTATION BILL

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 8th September (vide page 2082), on motion by Mr. Groom -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I suppose that we are all agreed that a measure of this kind, affecting as it does the representation of the States in this House of the Federal. Parliament, is not only of interest to honorable members, but of interest and considerable, importance to the public at large. I do not agree with the view which has been expressed that it is immaterial from what States representation comes, because on many large questions differences of opinion will inevitably be causedby the differences of opinion in the Stated from which members come, since electors will select as their representatives men who hold their views. I had not the pleasure of hearing the speech delivered by the Minister of Home Affairs in moving the second reading of the Bill, but, thanks to his courtesy, I had an early opportunity to peruse the official report of it, and perhaps I may be permitted, without presumption, to express my disappointment with it, for two reasons : First, because - with every respect to the honorable and learned gentleman - he seems to me to have passed by, rather than to have met, the main legal difficulties connected with this subject; and’, secondly, because he refrained from giving the House any information whatever as to what the practical working out of the Government proposals would mean. Both those matters seem to me of great importance, as to which the House had a right to hear from the Minister, and I regret that he did not think fit to deal with them. As a representative of Victoria. I feel that I have a somewhat more special interest in this measure than have the representatives of other States, because Victoria is threatened with a diminished representation as_ the result of its operation. As one of the three Victorian Ministers in the last Cabinet, which was concerned in coming to a decision of some importance with regard to redistribution, and was subjected to very severe criticism in consequence of the action it proposed to take, I feel it my duty in discussing this measure to place some of the facts connected with the situation before the House; and I hope that I may be so far favoured as to haw the substance of my remarks placed before the country, in order that the public may know what the facts were which the late Government, and this Government, too,” have had to deal with in considering the question. I use the word “facts” advisedly, in contrast with some of the words of vaguer meaning which have been employed in connexion with this matter during the last month or two.

Mr Mahon:

– “ Guesses “ the Argus calls them this morning.

Mr McCAY:

– - Yes. I shall refer to facts. I should like, in the first place, to remind honorable members very briefly of the history of section 24 of the Constitution, under which the Bill is introduced. The Minister of Home Affairs, in quoting what purport to be precedents in the draft Constitution Bill of 1891, the Canadian Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States, appeared to have lost sight of the fundamental differ ence between those provisions and the section in the Constitution under which we are living,” and under which he has taken action. The draft Constitution Bill prepared by the Convention of 1891 very specifically laid down the periods at which redistribution was to take place. It provided that a fresh apportionment of representatives to the States should be made after each census of the people of the Commonwealth, which should be taken at intervals not longer than ten years. The Canadian Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States, in like manner provide for the ascertainment of the population for the purpose of altering representation on a census. But the Convention which framed the Constitution under which we aire now living departed from the form of phraseology used in those Constitutions, and did so deliberately. It provided that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people, and determined in a . certain manner, involving the ascertainment, not of the number of the people determined by a census, but of the number of the people determined by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth. I propose to refer briefly, a little later on, to what may be meant by the words “ the lateststatistics of the Commonwealth,” and merely point out in passing the great difference in phraseology between our Constitution and those to which the Minister has alluded.

Mr Glynn:

– We can alter the arrangement by this very Bill.

Mr McCAY:

– I am not at all sure that we can ; but I shall come to that matter later on. Our Constitution uses the words, “latest statistics of the Commonwealth,” instead of the word “ census,” which has. a definite and ascertained meaning. In 1903, a redistribution of seats was proposed in this House, and last year it was. still recognised, not only by the Government of the day, but by all parties, that,, in view of the great disparity between the actual numbers of electors in the various electorates, and the limits allowed by the Electoral Act, a redistribution of seats was necessary at an early date, and certainly before the next general election. TheElectoral Act allows a margin of onefifth either way, though, as I have stated on previous occasions, I should have preferred a margin of at least one-fourth.

Knowing that the electorates, so far from differing only in the: maximum proportion of six to four, differ in some cases in the proportion of more than two to one, Parliament thought that a redistribution must, in fairness, take place.

Mr Tudor:

– In some cases the difference is three to one.

Mr McCAY:

– At any rate, it is more than two to one. First, the Barton Government, and then the Reid-McLean Government, undertook to arrange for a redistribution. This redistribution was pressed for last session by a number of those who sat in opposition to the ReidMcLean Administration. That Government, with the approval of the House, undertook definitely - as it undertook a number of things definitely, though it had not had an opportunity to carry them into effect - to be ready with a redistribution proposal when Parliament met this session. During the recess, in pursuance of their promise, they took steps towards proceeding with the redistribution. The first duty they had to perform was to ascertain the respective positions of the States. They had to look into legal questions, and into facts, in order to be able to direct the Commissioners of the various States as to how many electorates each State should be divided into. Through making these inquiries, the late Government became cognizant of certain facts. They became cognizant of the fact that the population of Victoria had not been increasing in the same ratio, so far as the statisticians’ estimates guided us, as the population of the other States - that while the quota to determine the number of members was increasing, the population of Victoria was not increasing in the same ratio, and, consequently, if the statisticians’ figures were to be accepted as correct, Victoria’s representation was diminishing. Then the Government had to consider the question how to deal with this fact. It was pressed by the knowledge that it was bound to be in a reasonable state of preparedness when it met Parliament, and accordingly an Order in Council was passed, and a Gazette notice was published, declaring that the population of the various States, as on 31st December, 1904, consisted of certain numbers, and that those numbers were to be the basis upon which were to be determined the number of representatives of the States. That action of the late Administration, in declaring these figures by Executive act to be the basis of calculation, was most seriously challenged in many quarters. That Government had not, however, acted without precedent. In the Commonwealth Gazette of 1.3th June, 1903 - a few months prior to the distribution of the seats under the last distribution schemes, and the presentation to the House of those schemes, whim were for the most part rejected, and during the administration of the Barton Government, in which the present Prime Minister was Attorney-General, the present Minister of Trade and Customs was Minister of Home Affairs, and of which the Treasurer was also a member - the following Order in Council appeared : -

Official return of the population of the Commonwealth upon which to determine the number of members of the House of Representatives to be returned by each State.

His Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, by and with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, has been pleased to approve that, for the purpose of determining the quota upon which to base the number of members to be returned by each State to the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in accordance with section 24 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, the return of population as stated hereunder be recognised as the latest statistics of the Commonwealth.

Population of the six States of the Commonwealth, according to the latest official statistics (31st December, 1002)-

Then followed the figures, and the order was signed by “ Wm. John Lyne. Minister of State for Home Affairs.” That was the precedent, and, more than that, it was a precedent with which not a soul in this House or outside of it quarrelled. It could not be pretended that honorable members ha,d no knowledge of the matter.

Mr Mahon:

– Was an election pending then?

Mr McCAY:

– Yes, in December of that year.

Mr Mahon:

– Then the fact that it was passed without any observation becomes all the worse.

Mr McCAY:

– More than that, there was a debate in this House when the whole matter was brought up.

Mr Groom:

– Upon what question?

Mr McCAY:

– In connexion with the question of the exclusion of certain aliens from the calculation of the population of Queensland.

Mr Groom:

– The discussion took place on that question only.

Mr McCAY:

– I propose to quote certain remarks that were made during that debate by the present Minister of Home Affairs, who in his speech referred to the ascertainment of the figures by the States Statisticians, and asked the then Minister of Home Affairs whether the figures supplied by the various States were calculated on the same basis.

Mr Groom:

– That is correct.

Mr McCAY:

– At page 2952 of vol. XV. of Hansard the present Minister of Home Affairs said -

If the Minister of Home Affairs, upon investigation, discovers that, in making their computation, the statisticians have not adopted a uniform basis, I think that he should instruct them to do so, with a view todefinitely settling the matter without delay.

That referred to all the figures used and to the calculations which were challenged on the ground that certain aliens were wrongly counted in some cases. The whole matter came under consideration, and the then Minister of Home Affairs made the position perfectly clear in the remarks which I am about to quote. He was followed by the present Prime Minister, then Attorney-General, who did not raise any question as to the propriety of the figures, although the then Minister of Home Affairs dealt with them specifically. At page 2957 the present Minister of Trade and Customs is reported as having said -

The figures given in it must be regarded not as State, but as Commonwealth, figures…… I am now speaking upon a technical point, which was brought under my notice by the much-abused electoral officer, Mr. Lewis, that sub-section1 of section 24 of the Commonwealth Act required that the statistics used should be the statistics of the Commonwealth. I informedhim thatthese figures were prepared by a statistician who was acting for the Commonwealth, and that they were therefore officially compiled for our purposes.

No one took exception to that statement. At page 2959 he went on to say -

I have acted carefully and upon the best advice that could be obtained.

I presume that that was the advice of the then Attorney-General. He continued -

I have adopted the figures relating to population which were supplied to the Department of Home Affairs by the statisticians of the States.

These figures were accepted and were submitted to the Cabinet, and gazetted, and not a word of objection was raised. Further on, the present Minister of Trade and Customs said -

I cannot do other than rely upon the figures supplied by the statisticians.

On the very figures which are now called mere estimates and guesses, and stated to be absolutely unreliable, the Barton Government proposed a redistribution of seats in this House.

Mr Groom:

– They did not propose to take any action - none was necessary.

Mr McCAY:

– The figures showed that there was no necessity for any alteration in the number of representatives of the States, but that does not alter the fact that they were adopted as the basis upon which the number of members was to be calculated, and that they were gazetted before the redistribution was entered upon. Does the Minister mean to say that we are not to quarrel with the figures so long as they do not require us to make an alteration ?No alteration in the number of representativeswas proposed, because the statistics showed that none was required ; but the Government did not retain the old number of representatives irrespective of the figures supplied by the statistician’s. On the other hand, they accepted the figures, and based their calculations upon them. Therefore, so far as precedent is concerned, the late Administration had the best precedent.

Mr Glynn:

– The honorable and learned member might call it the worst precedent.

Mr McCAY:

– Perhaps I shall arrive in time at the point which the honorable and learned member has in his mind. There was more than that to consider. The existence of a precedent was not a sufficient justification for any Administration in pursuing a course which it thought to lie wrong, and the then Government, like the present one, had to consider the legal position. Section 24 of the Constitution provides that -

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall he, as nearly as practicable, twicethe number of senators.

The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people -

That cannot be altered by (Parliament. There is no “ until Parliament otherwise provides “ preceding that provision. It is distinctly provided that the numberof members chosen shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people. Then the section proceeds - and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined whenever necessary in thefollowing manner -

That manner1 requires the ascertainment of the number of people of the Commonwealth, “ as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth.” The section be-: gins by providing that the number of members chosen1 - that means at an election - shall be in proportion to the people of the’ States. That is an> absolute direction that cannot be altered by this Parliament. But we are told that we can provide a method other than that set forth in the Constitution for determining the number of the people in the States, and the number of members by a mere arithmetical calculation based on the number of people in the States. It is provided that until that is done - and that is the present position - the number shall be determined whenever necessary. One has to ask the meaning of the words “ whenever necessary.” Do they mean whenever Parliament thinks necessary ? That is one view taken of this section. I cannot agree with that view. My opinion may not be a solid or a sound one, but that is the conclusion at which I have arrived. I doubt whether, upon the mere! construction of the words “whenever necessary,” they mean anything else, but “ whenever the actual number of the people renders the operation necessary.” That is to say, whenever the numbers of the people vary so as to require variations in the number of representatives. It is urged by Quick and Garran, and it is hinted, although not stated, by the Minister of Home Affairs, that these words “ whenever necessary “ mean whenever it is convenient in the view of the Parliament. I trust that that is the correct view, because otherwise I am afraid the Bill now before us may be challenged as being in contravention of the Constitution. But my own opinion is that the words mean whenever the number of members is not in proportion to the number of people, in accordance with the earlier provision in the section. Therefore, it appears to me - and it appeared to the members of the late Government in the same way - that under a strict interpretation of the Constitution this provision is almost automatic in its operation; that as the population varies the number of members ought to vary also. Parliament can, of course, refrain from performing its duty, but if it discharges its full responsibility it will have to vary the number of members as the number of people in the States vary. If that is what is meant by the section it will prove highly inconvenient. The fixing of periodic dates seems to be the only convenient method of proceeding, and a very strong argument against the view I have been stating may be advanced on the ground that the Constitution could not mean anything so inconvenient as what I have suggested. In order to uphold that objection, however, a Court would have to come to the conclusion that the Constitution did not say what it meant, and did not mean what it said. That is practically the position that Courts sometimes have to assume, in the interpretation of statutes, but it is a position that they take up only as a last resort. Then the Government riad to decide what were the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, because, even if the number of people in the States had actually varied, their number could not be determined according to the Constitution if the latest statistics of the Commonwealth were not ascertainable. I should like to point out, in passing, that it does not suggest that the matter should be determined by Parliament - that it should not be an Executive Act - which was the view taken by the Barton ‘Government when by Executive act it determined the number of members. The next question is : “ What are the latest statistics of the Commonwealth,” because if no numbers are ascertained, according to these “ latest statistics ‘ ‘ - it does not matter what are the actual numbers - there can be no reallotment of members. Roughly speaking, I may say that the view put forward by those who criticise the action of the. late Government was that the “ latest statistics of the Commonwealth” meant the latest, statistics ascertained by the Commonwealth. That, however, is not what, the Constitution says. My own opinion is ‘ that those words mean the latest statistics relating to the Commonwealth, and, in proof of my contention, I venture to submit one or two arguments which might not be admissible in a court of law, but which are nevertheless proper arguments to submit in this House. In the first place, the Constitution Bill of 1891, the Canadian Constitution, and the United States Constitution all specifically refer to “ census” as contrasted with “ statistics” in this section. In the second place, I find that clause 26 of the Commonwealth Constitution Bill, in the form in which it went to England to be adopted by the Imperial Parliament, instead of setting out the numbers of members as the now appear in our Constitution Act, contained a few words in brackets andin italics to the effect that they were to be determined “ according to the latest returns at the passing of the Act.” There were some interesting references made to this matter in the Convention debates. From the official report of the debates in the Adelaide Convention, I find that Sir Edmund Barton said -

The number of members to be chosen by each State shall be as follows : - that is, to be determined according to latest statistical returns at the passing of the Act.

Throughout the Convention discussions the right honorable member for Balaclava and the present Attorney -General time after time drew attention to what would happen to a State like Victoria owing to the operation of this provision. They directed attention to the fact that its inevitable result would be that unless the population of Victoria grew to an extent equal to the average growth of Australia, its representation would dwindle and dwindle.

Mr Isaacs:

– We tried to alter that provision.

Mr McCAY:

– Yes ; but the honorable and learned gentleman and those who supported him did not succeed. That is my point. At the Melbourne Convention, as will be seen by reference to page 1838 of the official report, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, in discussing what is now section 26 of the Constitution! is reported to have said-

At what stage is it proposed to have the gap filled up? Is it before this Bill is sent home or afterwards?

Mr. O’Connor. It is to be filled up according to the latest statistical returns, at the date of the passing of the Act by the Imperial Parliament.

Mr HIGGINS:
NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– You leave it for the Imperial Parliament to fill in the gap?

Mr. O’Connor. Undoubtedly. The figures may change in the meantime-

The words “statistical returns” are used there, and the word “statistics” is employed in section 24, whereas the term “ census “ is used in the draft Constitution Bill of 1891, in the Canadian Act, and also in the United States Constitution. I venture to say without any hesitation that whatever the term “ Commonwealth statistics “ in section 24 may mean, it means something more than the word “ census “ - something less definite, less certain, if honorable members choose - but something different from the word “ census,” with its well-ascertained meaning. Consequently, I hold that the “ latest statistics of the Commonwealth “ are not synonymous merely with the census returns. The word “census” was deliberately abandoned by the framers of our Constitution. Under sub-section11 of section 51 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth is empowered, amongst other subjects, to make laws in regard to “census and statistics.” In that provision “ census “ is again differentiated from “ statistics.”

Mr Higgins:

– Because we may have statistics which relate to goods as well as to men.

Mr McCAY:

– I am perfectly well aware of that. I do not base the whole of my argument upon the meaning of those words in that sub-section.. That is merely one of the many straws which show the way in which the current is flowing.I contend that the circumstance to which I have referred shows that “statistics” are. something different from an actual enumeration of the people. The present Government entertains the same view as did the recent Administration. When we recollect all that was said by some honorable members, including the AttorneyGeneral, in regard to the Bill which the late Government intended to submit, I say that the action of that Administration finds complete justification in the measure which is now under consideration. The Attorney-General finds salvation in an Act of Parliament, as contrasted with an Executive act. If the thing be done by Act of Parliament, his contention is that the figures are all right, but if it be done by Executive act, they are all wrong. This Bill is intended to accomplish two things. First of all, it deals with the present position, and in the second place, it deals with future matters. The late Administration recognised, just as well as does the present Government, that as regards the future, it was desirable to pass some Act - ifthe law permitted it - in order to arrange for periodical revisions, rather than for revisions which might take place at any time. They were dealing with the present situation as well. As to the present, I hold that the statistics of the Commonwealth are not confined to the census returns. The variations of language afford a strong argument in that direction. What is the meaning of the term “statistics of the Commonwealth”? Does it mean “ statistics ascertained by the

Commonwealth “ ? With every respect I say that that seems to me an unworthy argument. It suggests that the signature of the Chief Electoral Officer attached to returns of population under the provisions of a Commonwealth statute will make the figures which they contain right when they are not right. It evidences a trust in the signature of that officer as a miracle worker - a trust which I do not possess. Either the figures are right or they are wrong. If they are wrong, the signature of the Chief Electoral Officer will not make them right. In the remarks which I have quoted in regard to section 26 of the Constitution Mr. O’Connor pointed out that the figures might change between the periods of the passing of the Bill by the Convention and its being passed by the Imperial Parliament. As a matter of fact, the Statisticians’ “ guesses,” as they are called, were accepted for the original representation of the States.

Mr Glynn:

– The were not embodied in the Constitution.

Mr McCAY:

– The figures with which some honorable members have quarrelled were those which were used in connexion with the first Federal election. In my judgment, the term, “ statistics of the Commonwealth,” does not mean statistics ascertained by the Commonwealth, but actual figures of Commonwealth population. In other words, it means statistics relating to the Commonwealth. The word ” of “ is ambiguous - it may mean halfadozen things. I freely admit that it is a question which is open to argument. But presuming that the late Government were wrong in their view, and that a Bill was necessary to validate the whole matter, surely it was entitled to assume that the necessary legal authority would be given by this Parliament. I take the view, however, that no legal authority is necessary to meet the present situation. The matter was very fully considered, and, rightly or wrongly, we came to that conclusion. I now wish to deal with the facts, as they are at present, relating to the representation of the States, and in this connexion I propose to give some figures. I shall give the figures which faced the recent Administration and those which confront the present Government in dealing with the matter. In the first place, I say that, so far as this Bill deals with the immediate necessities of the situation - with the redistribution that it proposes shall take place before the next general election - there isnot a figure or a fact different from the figures and facts which were used by the late Government. The present Administration, in submitting this Bill, and in. declaring, in paragraph 2 of clause 3,. that-

The first enumeration day shall be appointed as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act, admit that they are going to accept thosefigures. In effect, they say, “ We aregoing to accept the Statisticians’ estimates with the possibilities of error - indeed,, everything which our predecessors proposed to accept.” If we turn to ScheduleA, and look at all the calculations, and the allowances for unrecorded arrivals and departures, which require to be made, it will be seen that every one of those are allowances actually being made at the present time by the Statistician of every State Government. Indeed, the provision has been adopted verbatim from the report of the conference of the Statisticians of the States which met in 1903. They arebetter figures than those upon which theBarton Government acted, because thelatter were not uniform.

Mr Groom:

– In 1903 it was want of uniformity which gave rise to the criticism which was indulged in by honorable members of this House.

Mr McCAY:

– It was much more than that. Let the Minister of Home Affairsread the speech delivered by his present colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Gazette notice. , Hedeliberately accepted the Statisticians’ figures. If the only thing to which objection was raised in 1903 waswant of uniformity, why was the action of the last Government, in basing their action upon uniformity, challenged? I repeat that the very allowances set out in? the schedule are those upon which all the States Statisticians proceeded, and in accordance with which they “have revised thewhole of their figures since the census of” 1901. I say at once as a Victorian member that I scrutinized the proposals of the late Government with jealous suspicion. If I could honestly have found any reasonable causeto object to those proposals, which meant depriving Victoria of one representative, Imost certainly should have objected to them. It was not until an overwhelming and irresistible mass of facts confronted us that the honorable member for Gippsland, the right honorable member for Balaclava, and myself gave way. We. could not help ourselves any more than the present Government can help themselves. The Minister of Home Affairs, the Attorney-General, and the Prime Minister know perfectly well that if this Bill becomes law and an enumeration day is appointed, Victoria will have only twenty-two representatives in this House. I am very sorry that it is so.

Mr Higgins:

– Why should the honorable and learned member be sorry ?

Mr McCAY:

– I am sorry that Victoria is to lose any of her representation.

Mr.Higgins. -Victoria oughttolose one representative.

Mr McCAY:

– I regret that the State of Victoria is not progressing as fast as are the other States.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable and learned member is sorry that the State of Victoria is not progressing more rapidly.

Mr McCAY:

– I am sorry that Victoria is not progressing rapidly enough to enable her to retain her representation. If, upon the facts presented to me, any reasonable ground for questioning the accuracy of the figures existed, or if there had been any reasonable doubt as to whether Victoria should, or should not, retain twentythree representatives in this House, I should have given this State the benefit of the doubt. But the Victorian members of the late Government exercised all the care that they could. First of all, the question arose as to whether the estimates were based upon this uniform scheme. Then we relied upon the Victorian Statistician for all our figures and references. Before we consented to the proposal to reduce Victoria’s representation to twentytwo members, the then Treasurer, the right honorable member for Balaclava, put a specific question to the Victorian Government Statistician, as to whether any error, likely to have occurred, could place Victoria in the position of being entitled to twenty-three members. The Government Statistician replied, however, in even a more emphatic way than that in which the question was put. On the 20th March of this year, in a letter to the then Treasurer, he wrote -

I do not think that any error - there is no question of its being any error likely to occur “ - which may have occurred will entitle Victoria to ityrenty-three members.

The facts before us showed that that was so, but. we desired something; more - we wished to obtain the assurance of the Government expert on the point. In the face of this letter, and having regard to the figures which we had worked out for ourselves, we felt that we were honestly called upon to give effect to the proper facts, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. I wish now to refer “to remarks made in the course of press interviews by the present Attorney-General and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. On “the 6th April last, the Age newspaper opened the ball with the statement that -

In proposing, on the strength of mere statistical guesswork, to deprive Victoria of a seat in the House of Representatives, the Federal Ministry is exposing itself to the certainty of being rebuked by the Federal Parliament.

It went on to declare that the section of the Constitution governing the question meant that the decennial census returns should be taken. I do not know whether the sudden defeat of the late Government was really the rebuke prophesied by the Age, but the question was revived in May last, when Mr. Irvine - a distinguished member of the State Parliament - expressed the opinion that the only basis of calculation, was an enumeration of the poputaken - in other words, that there must be a “ census,” in the ordinary acceptation of the word. The present Attorney-General., the honorable and learned member for Indi, also gave an opinion which was characterized by his usual caution. He said that first of all Parliament had to determine whenever a redistribution was necessary. I beg leave to doubt the accuracy of that contention. He went on to say that, as. regards that section of the Constitution which deals with the taking over of the States debts in proportion to the “ population statistics of the Commonwealth,” the words “ Statistics of the Commonwealth. ‘ ‘ could not refer to some hazy indefinite estimate. But the words “ Statistics of the Commonwealth “ must have been used in the same sense in the finance clause of the Constitution, as they were in section 24, which relates to the question now before us. The present Attorney-General described the figures which his Government have now accepted as a mere - hazy, indefinite estimate made at the request of the Minister of some Department, and wholly unprovided for by law.

The estimates are made regularly by the Statisticians of the States, and are supplied at the request of the Minister; but it cannot be said that they are “made” at the request of a Minister, and are wholly unprovided for by law. It seems that the magic of an Act of Parliament is to change wrong figures into right figures - is to transform “ hazy, indefinite estimates ‘ ‘ into accurate figures, on which the representation of the States is to be determined. The Attorney-General went on to say that until Commonwealth officers are “ authorized to obtain, and do obtain, proper information,” this cannot be done. What is “ proper information”? Here, again, we have the aegis of an Act of Parliament. The figures for our guidance will be the same after this measure has been passed as they were before. We shall have the same figures collected by the same persons on the same basis, and subject to the same allowances as before. The AttorneyGeneral continued -

What has Mr. Topp to turn to as “ latest statistics”? They are merely estimates by the State Statisticians - apparently under State laws - and afterwards adopted by the Federal Executive Council.

To paraphrase the words of the honorable and learned gentleman, I shall say that the figures dealt “viith by this measure are merely estimates of the States Statisticians, apparently under State laws, and that they are now to be adopted by the. Federal Parliament. Nevertheless, the fact remains that they are still mere estimates by the States Statisticians - that they are absolutely the same as before. I come now te the opinion expressed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who. to use a vulgarism, “ went the whole hog,” declaring that the term “ statistics of the Commonwealth “ meant a census.

Mr Higgins:

– I did not say so.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable and learned member said that it meant a systematic enumeration of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth.

Mr Higgins:

– Exactly.

Mr McCAY:

– Then what did the honorable and learned member mean if he did not intend to convey that an actual count should be made?

Mr Higgins:

– I did not speak of a census, and I would ask the honorable and learned member to keep to the expression that he first used.

Mr McCAY:

– I have used the word “ census “ all through in the sense of an actual count. I notice that in giving the opinion to which I have referred, the honorable and learned member looked up the dictionary for the definition of (he word “ statistics.” I should like him to tell us what is the meaning’ of the word “enumeration.” When housed that word, did he refer to an estimate, or an actual count? If he meant an actual count, then he was really referring to a census in the sense that I have been using that word. If, on the other hand, he was referring to a calculation, and thinks that figures are good when authorized by a Federal law, but bad when authorized only by an act of the Federal Executive, I repeat that here again he is sacrificing the substance for the shadow. He is assuming that bad figures may be made good by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Glynn:

– They may be wrong; but the Bill is simply introduced to make them right.

Mr McCAY:

– I was referring, not to the terms of the Bill, but to the opinion expressed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who holds that the latest statistics mean the latest systematic enumeration of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth. He does not say that that enumeration shall be authorized, bv Federal law. I come now to certain figures that I desire to lay before the. House. Let me begin by quoting those relating to the estimated population of Australia on 31st December, 1904. These were the latest that could be obtained by the Government of the day in March last, when they entered upon the consideration of this question. The present Attorney-General, in the course of a press interview, asked why the late Government selected the figures for the 31st December, 1904, and went on to say, “ There must have been some reason for it.” The reason was that they were the latest available when the late Government dealt with the matter. We had to begin to consider the matter before May, in order that it might be settled by that date. The present Attorney-General suggested that there must ha.ve been some occult reason for selecting the figures for 31st December last, and apparently the inference was that Victoria was to suffer by their adoption, in preference to the selection of those for March, 1905. I shall show whether or not there is any warrant for that implication. On 31st December, 1904, the effective population of the Common- wealth - and by “ effective population,” I mean the population excluding full-blooded aborigines and aliens disqualified under certain sections of the Commonwealth Constitution Act - according to the estimates of the Statisticians, was 3,951,829. Dividing that total by 72, we get as the quota, 54,886, and the half quota is thus 27.443. Dividing the population of New South Wales, which was estimated at 1,457,246, by the quota, it was found to be entitled to twentysix full members, and to have a balance of 30,210 persons, or 2,767 more than half the quota, so that she was thus entitled to twenty-seven members. I may say, in passing, that the fact that New South Wales was to gain a representative had nothing to do with the fact that Victoria was to lose one. Victoria might lose a representative without New South Wales gaining one, and New South Wales might lose a representative without Victoria gaining one. Victoria’s population of 1,210,304, divided by the quota, gave her twenty-two members, with a balance of 2,812 persons, or 24,631 short of the half quota that would entitle her to a twentythird member. But even if Victoria had had 24,631 more than she was shown by this estimate to have, she still would have been entitled to only twenty-two members, unless the population of the other States had been over-estimated to that extent, because, by adding 24,631 persons to the total population of the Commonwealth, we should thereby increase the quota, : making the remainder, after dividing by the quota, less than half the quota. If Victoria had had the additional 24,631 persons, she would not have been entitled to more than 22*30 representatives. Assuming that the population of the other States was correct, and that that of Victoria alone was underestimated, in order to have twentythree members she would have required to have, in addition to he.r estimated population, no less than 35,836 people. These were the facts that faced the late Administration when they dealt with this matter. No member of the late Government rejoiced at the prospect of Victoria losing one of its representatives - I do not think that any one would do so - but that was the fact that faced us. What possible errors could creep in to lead us to suppose that the estimate was so far out as has been suggested? The Statisticians of Victoria and New South Wales were wrong in their estimates between 189.1 and 1901-.. But to what extent? The New South’ Wales census of 1901 showed that her Statistician had over-estimated her population by 12,000, while the Victorian census of that year showed that the population of this State had been under-estimated by 10,000. If between. April, 1901, and December, i-904~- a period of three and a half years - the Statisticians were as far out in their calculations as they were in respect of the whole of the preceding ten years, thepopulation of Victoria would still have been 20,000 less than the number entitling her totwentythree representatives. We must not forget, however, that during the three and’ a half years which I have mentioned, the Statisticians in question had adopted a new allowance, based on the errors disclosed by the preceding census, so that their estimates were more likely to be correct.

Mr Wilks:

– I hope that’ the honorable and learned member has- not made a mistake.

Mr McCAY:

– I certainly have not. The next point which the late Government had to consider was as to the allowances made. It was thought that possibly the errors in regard to the three and a half years period, which I have named, were larger than were those for the preceding ten years, and, having regard to that possibility, I took the actual reported departures from Victoria. There’ is an allowance for unrecorded departures of 10 per cent, on actual recorded departures by land and 9 per cent, on actual recorded departures by sea, from Victoria. These were added on to the actual recorded departures, and they still further reduce the net population.

Mr Chanter:

– -What system is adopted for recording the arrivals and departures ?

Mr McCAY:

– Surely the honorablemember is aware of the system adopted by the Department of Trade and Customs and the Railway Department.

Mr Chanter:

– I have seen thousands travelling bv rail who were not counted.

Mr McCAY:

– Possibly. I am pointing out that the Statisticians of Victoria and New South Wales between them were only 22,000 out in ten years, and if that 22,6.00 had been given to Victoria, it would have not have made any difference to her position. It is not a question of a difference of a few thousands, but of a difference of 35,000, or of 24,000 each way, a total of 48,000. If the total of the actually recorded departures from Victoria by land and sea were taken as correct, and no deduction made, that is to say, if we assumed that not a single departure from Victoria has been unrecorded, and the State was credited with o per cent, for unrecorded arrivals by sea, and 10 per cent, for unrecorded arrivals by land, and not charged for a single unrecorded departure by either land or sea, she would not have a sufficiently large population to entitle her to a. representation of twentythree members. No Minister, and no member, whatever may be the State he represents, can close his eyes to facts of that kind. I would have acted differently if [ could have fairly done so, but it was impossible. As the late Government have suffered a good deal of adverse criticism in this connexion, I trust that, in fairness to us, the facts which I have given to the House will be made public, so that our side of the question, as well as the other side, may be known. So far as this matter is concerned, the present Bill does not in any way alter the facts. On the 31st December last, Queensland was entitled to nine representatives, with a surplus population of 5,010, which was a long way short of the number required to give her a tenth representative.

Mr Fisher:

– But Victoria and New South Wales count their aliens, while we exclude them from our statistics.

Mr McCAY:

– If Queensland were credited with her 22,000 excluded aliens, and the aliens in the other States were not taken into account, she; would still not have a sufficient population to entitle her to a tenth member.

Mr Fisher:

– I admit that.

Mr McCAY:

– On the 31st December, 1904, if the 22,671 aliens in Queensland, which are not now taken into account, had been included in her population, she would have been entitled to only nine representatives, and would have had a surplus of 24,846 people, or 2,754 people short of (he number entitling her to a tenth representative. South 1 Australia on the same date had a population entitling her to six representatives, and a surplus of 40,665 people, or 13,222 more than were required for a seventh representative. Both Western Australia and Tasmania send five representatives to this House under the provisions of the Constitution, though their populations do not entitle them to that representation ; but when Western Australia has obtained an other 10,000 people, if her population continues to increase at the present rate, she will be entitled to her present representation on her statistics as well as under the Constitution.

Sir John Forrest:

– There is very little justification for any alteration in the case of Western Australia.

Mr McCAY:

– It is not proposed to make any. On the 31st December, 1904, Victoria was nearer to twenty-three members than to twenty-one, having a population sufficient to entitle her to twenty-two members, and a little more. I also remembered what the tendency of population was, and found that the population of the other States is increasing more rapidly than is that of Victoria. If anything would justify that forecast, the figures for the 31 st March and the 30th June of this year do so. They do not cover a long period of time, but the trend is very marked in the six months. On the 31st March of this year the effective population of the Commonwealth was 3,967,388, and the quota 55,102, entitling New South Wales to twenty-six representatives, with a surplus of 32,981 people, or a balance in excess of the requirement for a twentyseventh representative of 5,430, which was twice as many as the State had three months before. The Victorian population on that date was 1,210,530, which, divided by the quota entitled that State to twenty-one representatives, with a surplus of 53,388 persons, or an excess over the half quota of 25,837, giving her a total representation of twenty-two representatives. She was 29,465 persons short of the population that would have entitled her to a representation of twenty-three members, and only 25,837 in excess of the representation entitling her to twenty-one members.

Mr Tudor:

– If we wait until next year the figures may be different.

Mr McCAY:

– I am coming to that. On the 30th June of this year the effective population of the Commonwealth - and all the figures with which I have been supplied were supplied to me by the Department of Home Affairs, and obtained by that Department from the Government Statistician of Victoria - was 3,982,188. The population of Victoria was 1,211,003, which, divided by the quota of 55>3°8, entitled Victoria to a representation of twenty-one members, with a surplus of 49>535> or 21,881 over the half quota, so that the State had then 21,881 more than were necessary to give her a representation of twenty-one members, but was short by 33,327 of the population necessary to entitle her to a representation of twenty-three members. Victoria could not have had a representation of twenty-three members on the 30th June of this year, unless she had possessed 33,327 more people than she is estimated to have, and the other States between them had had that number less than they are estimated to have. In other words, the estimates must have been wrong to the extent of 66,654, and it is inconceivable that they could be wrong to that extent. If the figures for the other States were right, and on the 30th June of this year the population of Victoria alone had been und_erestimated, she would have required, owing to the increase of the quota by the increase of her own population, 48,614 persons more than she was estimated to have, to entitle her to a representation of twenty-three members. What can one do in the face of figures like that? How can one say that any estimate, however open to challenge on the ground of inaccuracy, could be wrong to that extent, in view of the fact that in no previous decennial period, as gauged by the census, have the figures been wrong to that extent? As regards Queensland, the position was the same on, the 30th June last as it was on the 31st December. Giving her the excluded aliens, she was 2,049 short of the number which would have entitled her to a tenth representative. On the 30th December Victoria, however, was 24,600 short of the number that would have entitled her to a representation of twentythree members, while on the 31st March of this year she was 29,400 short, and on the 30th June 33,300 short, assuming that the other States were over-estimated to the same extent. But assuming that the other States were rightly estimated, and that only Victoria was under-estimated, she was 35,836 short on the 31st December of last year, 42,606 short on the 31st March last, and 48,614 short on the 30th June last. I quote these figures to show that if any wellfounded charge in connexion with this matter is to be brought against the late Administration, the only one that could be justified would be that, in the interests of Victoria, they did not hurry matters sufficiently to enable things to be fixed up before her population became too small to entitle the State to a representation of twenty-two members. Unless a change takes place within twelve months, from this date, Victoria will be entitled to a representation of only twenty-one members, because her population is increasing at a smaller rate than are the populations of the omer States. It is not that it is diminishing.

Mr Tudor:

– In the country districts the population of Victoria has been diminishing for the last thirty years, although it has been increasing in the towns.

Mr McCAY:

– Her population, as a whole, is increasing slowly, but at a lesser rate than are the populations of the other States. The criticisms passed -on the preceding Administration must be admitted, in the face of the facts I have mentioned, to have been unfounded. Apart from the legal question raised, we had no option but to do what was done. We had pledged ourselves to be ready with a scheme of redistribution when we met Parliament again, and, as we believed that the legal position was what we had stated it to be, we had no option to do other than what we did. Neither has this Government the option to do other than what it is doing, if it wishes to act fairly. They provide, first of all, as regards the future for fiveyearly periods, and for the present that, as soon as possible after the passing of the measure, an enumeration day shall be fixed, which is saying, in other words, that the figures which were taken by the last Government will be .taken by them. I should have preferred decennial to quinquennial periods for the future, for reasons which are obvious.

Mr Fisher:

– Decennial periods are too long.

Mr McCAY:

– I am aware that the representatives of other States would quarrel with a proposal to fix decennial periods. There are cases in which the estimates are pretty near the border line. For instance, we are comparatively near the border line in regard to the figures entitling New South Wales to a twenty-seventh member. On the 31st December last, she had a margin of only 4,76-j. On the 31st March, it had increased to 5,430, and on the 30th June to 8,311, so that it is rapidly growing. New South Wales is increasing in actual numbers more rapidly than any of the other States. In six months her population has increased by if. 000 .persons, while that of Western Australia has increased by 9,000 persons.

Mr Fisher:

– But her percentage increase is not so large as that of Western Australia.

Mr McCAY:

– No. However, the margin over what entitles her to a twenty-seventh member as rapidly growing. With regard to Victoria, if it were a margin of only 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000 we might have said, “ We will not deprive a State of a member on such a small difference “ ; but since it was 35, 000, if the other States estimates are correct, and 24,000, if the population of the other States as over-estimated to the same extent, it is very serious. The Bill proposes quinquennial estimates of population, and a decennial census. As I have said, I would prefer decennial periods, but the late Government would have proposed something for regulating the enumeration in a manner similar to that now proposed, if they could have thought it constitutionally correct. That, however, is quite a different matter. The preparations for the future made by this Bill are quite another matter from its recognition of the present position. If the Bill is to become law, the sooner it does so, and is acted upon, the better it will be for Victoria. I must apologize for having detained the House so long, but, as a Victorian Minister in the late Administration, I felt entitled to put before honorable members the facts which influenced us, and compelled us to do what we did. I do not care how much the accuracy of the estimates may be disputed, they cannot be wrong to an extent which will disprove the facts which I have stated. If Victoria was not debited with a single unrecorded departure since the last census - and some 399,000 % departures have been recorded since the last census - but, on the other hand, was credited with unrecorded arrivals to the extent of 10 per cent, on the arrivals actually recorded, still, she could not establish her claim, .to twenty-three members. Struggle gallantly as we might - and we pestered the .Minister of Home Affairs to verify his figures, and we challenged the calculations in every possible way - we found that the figures were against us, and we had to give way, and I think that we were justified in doing so. Honorable members will find full particulars of the figures to which I have referred in the following tables: -

On 3 1st December, 1904, Victoria for .23 Members required 24,631 more people, but tuen only if the other States actually had 24,631 less. On 31st March, 1B05, Victoria for 23 Members required 29,465 more people, but then only if the other States actually had 29,465 less. On 33th Jim;, 1905, Victoria for 23 Members required 33,327 more people, but then only if the other States actually had 33,327 less. 0>" the assumption that Victoria alone was underestimated as to population, and that the estimates for other States are correct, in order to entitle Victoria to 23 Members, by virtue of having 22 quotas and a half quota. I hope that a change will take place, and that the population of .Victoria will increase as rapidly as the average population of the Commonwealth, so that that State may not continue to lose representation. But, if the present trend of affairs be any guide, I am afraid that she will have .for years to come to face the possibility of a loss of representation. I believe the people of Victoria, when they come to know the facts, will, as fair-minded folk, recognise - as I believe that their representatives in this House will also recognise - that there is no option but to submit to a reduction in the representation of the State. Certain legal objections have been raised against the Bill by distinguished lawyers, but the Government is concerned with the facts upon which justice is established, and this Government, like any other, has to recognise that the facts are such that they cannot stand against them. Even though the Prime Minister is a Victorian, they have to leave the Constitution to its reasonable operation. I think that, apart from ail legal objections, the Bill should become law, and that it should be promptly brought into operation. If promptly acted, upon it will have the same effect as if the legal question, had not been raised ; but if it is not promptly brought into operation, the effect upon Victoria will be worse than ever. **Mr. HIGGINS** (Northern Melbourne). - The only difference between myself and the honorable and learned member for Corinella is that he supports the Bill and abuses the Minister ; whereas I support the Minister and abuse the Bill. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- I do not remember abusing the Minister. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- The honorable and learned member commenced by attacking the Minister in respect to his previous Utterances, and he also taunted him with having followed the lead of the previous Government. At all events, I think the Bill is a mistake, and as my name has been mentioned by the honorable and learned member, I wish to explain why I regard the measure as opposed to the provisions of the Constitution. I think that the question of the reduction of the number of representatives of Victoria is a very small one. Australia will not lose anything, so long as good representatives are returned from all parts of Australia in reasonable proportion to the population. The position I take up is a simple one, namely, that it was never intended that the proportion of members for each State should be altered upon the estimate of any statist, however eminent. That is the whole position, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella did not, in the course of his able speech, discuss the question as to the meaning of the term used in the Constitution, " The latest statistics of the Commonwealth." If the honorable and learned member's view is right, any Ministry, as soon as it thinks there has been a movement of population, will be justified in bringing down a new Representation Bill. That might happen once a year or once in two or three years, and we should be liable at any time to have a Representation- Bill brought forward to the exclusion of practical business. This measure provides that the Chief Electoral Officer's certificate shall, for the purposes of the Bill, be accepted as evidence as to the number of the people of the Commonwealth. That certificate must be based upon the statements of the Statisticians, and, therefore, in essence we have to rely upon the Statisticians' statements, and to assume that the numbers of the people in the various States are as the Statisticians estimate them. Personally, I have not the least doubt that Victoria has lost a sufficient number of people in proportion to the other States to reduce her representation in this House. I have not the least doubt as to the trend of population in Victoria as compared with the other States. The honorable and learned member for Corinella stated that he had taken into account the trend of population. That is the very thing he had no right to do. His only consideration should haw been the actual population, having regard, not to the Statisticians' statements, but to the latest statistics. Therefore, the honorable and learned member has gone quite beyond his duty in looking at the trend of population. He had no right to do that. If the late Government did that they were wrong, as also is the present Government if it has been influenced by the same consideration. The more we rely upon the actual simple words of the Constitution, the better we shall be able to judge as to the attitude we should assume now and hereafter, because the Bill will be used hereafter as a precedent for making other changes in the representation, when other States will be prejudicially affected. I warned the Minister for Home Affairs that he was wrong with regard to a section of the Judiciary Act, but he did not take heed of my advice, and afterwards in the Courts it was found that I was right. I say without hesitation that in this case he is going wrong with regard to the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, because Statisticians' guesses are not the latest statistics. An Honorable Member. - Does the honorable and learned member suggest that the latest census is referred to? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- I do not confine myself to the latest census, but to the latest systematic enumeration. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- Bv the Commonwealth ? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- Tha That may be a debatable matter, but, at all events there must be a systematic enumeration. {: .speaker-JZT} ##### Sir Philip Fysh: -- A progressive statistical return ? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- I do not think that that is necessarily- a systematic enumeration. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Does the honorable and learned member mean an actual count of heads ? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- I mean an actual count of heads in some fashion which may reasonably be called an enumeration, and not a mere estimate. If one looks at section 24 of the Constitution, he will see that it is clear that the number of members chosen in the several States is to be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people. That is all very well, supposing that the number of the people can be ascertained. But the section afterwards describes how the number of members is to be ascertained. It proceeds - >And shall, until Parliament otherwise provides, be determined whenever necessary in the following manner - I see no difficulty in regard to the meaning of the words " whenever necessary." They mean simply whenever it is necessary to determine the number - that the number shall be determined whenever it is necessary. Now let us see how that number is to be determined. The section provides - >A quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by twice the number of the senators. At the time the Constitution was framed all the States had a census taken at least once in ten years, and we dealt with the state of affairs as it then existed. The idea was obviously that we should rely upon the census, and that we should not be affected by the trend of population, as the honorable and learned member for Cori nella would have it, or by the calculations or estimates of statisticians. It was intended that the number of the people should be ascertained by the latest statistics; as matters stood then, by the last census. {: .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr Conroy: -- Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that the draftsman did not understand the difference between "census" and "statistics " ? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- No. But I say that the draftsman had in his mind a systematic enumeration, and that if he had intended the numbers to be ascertained by any other means than an enumeration he would have specified it. The draftsman did not know exactly what method of enumeration might be followed in the various States, and therefore he used the term " latest statistics.". No doubt he had mainly in his mind the last census. If it were at all material the honorable and learned member for Corinella has shown thatthe population of Victoria has not been advancing in the same ratio as those of the other States. With all respect to the honorable and learned member, I do not think that that has anything to do with the question. It might on certain occasions justify a certain enumeration, or the taking of a census more frequently than every ten years; but at the same time it has nothing to do with the question of our being guided by the latest statistics. If honorable members will look at the meaning of the word "statistics" in any dictionary, they will find that it means a systematic enumeration, and not a! series of ingenious guesses. I do not object to the reduction of the number of Victorian representatives, because I think that that is a matter of very little importance. As Victorians, I think we are all well protected by our having representatives from the other States here, who will take care that np injustice is done to us. It is not on that ground that I take objection to the Bill. When I was asked whether the proposed mode of changing the representation was constitutional, I stated that we were bound to abide by the statistics as they appeared in the last actual count. Take the case of China, for instance. There have been grave questions as to the actual population of that country. Suppose any one spoke of the latest population statistics with regard to China, we should say there were no such statistics. While persons have estimated the popula- tion.of China with very great care, their estimates do not constitute statistics. Therefore, I think that the honorable and learned member for Corinella has absolutely missed the point at issue. Having regard to the fact that the best statisticians make serious errors, those who framed our Constitution decided .that " the latest statistics of the Commonwealth " should form the basis of the representation of the States, and not the estimates of States Statisticians. An attempt has been made to show that the words "the latest statistics of the Commonwealth " mean the latest statistical estimates of the Commonwealth. I attach very little importance to the reduction in the number of Victorian representatives in this House. But I say that hereafter other changes 'will be recommended upon the faith of this procedure. I hold that we are going the wrong way to work. We are asked to break the constitutional prescription by bringing in a number of matters which we have no right to. introduce, such as the supposed trend of population, which might alter to-morrow, as the result of a gold rush, for which contingency provision is made in the Constitution. {: #subdebate-4-0-s2 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The able and exhaustive address of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, in which he gave figures which I had intended to use in the debate upon this Bill, renders it unnecessary for me to enter into many considerations that otherwise I would have felt myself justified in debating. As the Minister who was primarily responsible for the proposal which was accepted by the late Cabinet, I endeavoured to approach the matter of the representation of the States with an independent mind, and with an unbiased judgment, such as I am sure any member of this House placed in ' a similar position would have sought to exhibit. When it was decided that a redistribution of seats should take place, I was asked by the officers of the Department whether the representation of the States was to be taken into account. I replied that, as the Constitution declared that " whenever necessary " the representation of the individual States should be taken into account, surely it was necessary - if it would ever be necessary - when we were adjusting the inequalities between electorate and electorate that we should adjust those between State and State. In regard to the steps which were to be taken to make that adjustment, I instructed the electoral officers that unless they saw reason to depart from the procedure adopted by another Ministry, when the same problem was under consideration, that procedure was to be followed in its entirety. That was done. I saw no reason to depart from it, and the action taken by a previous Ministry was consequently followed by the late Government. To me it is rather strange that some of those who have taken exception to the action of the late Government were members of this Parliament at the time the Barton Administration accepted the statistics furnished by the States Statisticians, gazetted them as .the statistics of the Commonwealth, and determined - as they showed no necessity for altering the representation of the States - that there should be no alteration in that representation. That process was adopted by the Barton Government. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and the present AttorneyGeneral were members of this House at the time. Upon that occasion allusion was made to the method which was being adopted, but neither they, nor any other member of. the House, offered one word of objection to the procedure of that Government {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Political issues were not affected. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable member for Wide Bay has made an interjection which partakes of the nature of a suggestion. I do not say for a moment that honorable members remained quiet, although a wrong course was being followed, simply because their State representation was not affected. I would rather put it the other way, and say that, as their State representation was not affected, their attention was not sufficiently directed to the procedure which was being adopted, and consequently they accepted it without that greater deliberation which they gave to the matter when they saw that th-ir State's representation was to be decreased. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I should not have observed it but for the fact that I was asked a question. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- If the Barton Government took a wrong course upon that occasion, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, as well as every other member of this House, was equally responsible. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- At that time attention was drawn to the want of uniformity in the method of taking the returns. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- -Some attention was drawn to the omission of a large number of aliens in the case of Queensland. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- And to the uncertainty as to whether a uniform rule was being applied. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne states that when the Federal Convention decided upon section 24 of the Constitution, the delegates had in mind the census returns as the basis of State representation. Is it not surprising - as was put by the honorable and learned member for Corinella - that the Bill which formed the basis of our Constitution - that is, the draft Bill of 1891 - actually declared that the consideration of the necessity for an alteration in the representation of the States should take place after a census. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- The word "statistics" is larger than the word "census." {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- If the word " statistics " has a larger meaning than the word " census," it was adopted in order that something more than census might be adopted for the official returns. The clause in the draft Bill framed by the Convention of 1891, which bears upon this matter, states - >A fresh apportionment of the representation of the States shall be made after each census of the people of the Commonwealth, which shall be taken at intervals not longer than ten years, but a fresh apportionment shall not take effect until the next general election. That provision was deliberately abandoned by the Conventions which met prior to the establishment of Federation. The honorable and learned member for. Northern Melbourne had every reason to know that it had been abandoned, because it was abandoned not only in regard to the Constitution Act, but also Tn regard to the first representation of the States in this House. Surely, if there was ever an occasion upon which the census returns should have been taken to determine the exact representation of the States, that occasion was when the number of representatives to which the various States were originally entitled in this Parliament was fixed. Surely that was the most important epoch in the history of this question. At that time> the 1901 census could easily have been ante-dated. The Commonwealth could have taken the census a year earlier. Instead of that, the Convention deliberately adopted the figures of the Statisticians. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr Kennedy: -- Did not the subsequent census prove that those figures were considerably out in the totals? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- They did not affect the representation. The subsequent figures did prove' that there were some, IO,000 or 12,000 persons in one State less than was estimated, and about as many more in another. But to meet the error which the Statisticians saw had crept in during that period, they adopted certain allowances, which have been embodied in the Bill under consideration. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- How does that affect the question of the meaning of the words " the latest statistics " ? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I intend to show that, so far from determining that the statistics should -be those of a census, the Convention decided that the original representation of *-the* States should be based upon the figures of the Statisticians. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- The States had nothing to go on. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The Commonwealth could have readily anticipated the 1 901 census by taking a census in 1900. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- The States do not all take their census at the same time. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- But the Commonwealth could have arranged that the census should anticipate the fixing of the representation. Here is what **Mr. O'Connor** moved in connexion with the fixing of. the original representation of the States : - >Notwithstanding anything in section 24, the number of members to be chosen by each State at the first election shall be as follows : - To be determined according to the latest statistical returns at the date of the passing of the Act, and in relation to the quota re] erred to in previous- sections. The following is an extract from the report : - > **Mr. O'CONNOR** (New South Wales). I beg to move - That the words "section 24" (line *2)* be struck out, and that the words " the last preceding section" be substituted. > > **Mr. HIGGINS** (Victoria).- I see in this clause that there is a gap after the words " as follows."' At what stage is it proposed to have that gap filled up? Is it before this Bill is sent Home, or afterwards? **Mr. O'CONNOR.** It is to be filled up according to the latest statistical returns, at the date of the passing, of the Act, by the Imperial Parliament. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS:
NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · PROT -- You leave it for the Imperial Parliament to fill in the gap? **Mr. O'CONNOR.** Undoubtedly. The figures may change in the meantime. The amendment was agreed to. This absolutely shows what was the intention of the Convention - subsequently indorsed by the Imperial Act - as to the first representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. We see that the Convention deliberately substituted for the word "census" the words "the latest statistics of the Commonwealth." {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- They omitted all reference to " statistics " from clause 26. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- But they deliberately left out of clause 24 the reference to the census contained in the draft Bill. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- The more significant point is that they never inserted those words in clause 26. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- It is provided that the latest statistics of the Commonwealth are to be taken for the purpose of establishing the representation. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- No; the "statistical returns." {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- What is the difference? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- There is a material difference. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The action of the present Ministry shows that the late Government could not have taken any other course than they did. We find that when they are face to face with the situation that we had confronting us they are prepared to take the same statistics. Even census returns are far from being absolutely correct. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- They are the best thai we can obtain, and why should we notgo for the best? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I repeat that the census returns are not absolutely correct ; that the States having larger areas and more scattered populations invariably suffer. This is proven by the electoral returns.' I have before me some figures, which I prepared for another purpose, that illustrate the point I am now making. They show what is the actual proportion ofthe elective population of each State tothe whole population, and I may say, in pass ing, that I compared them, after the elec toral lists had been collected, with the pro portion of the electors in each State. I" shall merely quote the figures relating to four of the States, as showing that it is quite impossible to accept the census returns as fully in the case of the larger States, where the population is scattered, as in the case of the smaller States. In New South Wales, for instance, the proportion of those over twenty-one years of age to the total population was 53 per cent., while the proportion of electors was only 46 per cent., or a difference of 6 per cent. In Victoria, with its circumscribed area and closer settlement, the proportion of those over twenty -one years of age to the total population was 54 per cent., and the proportion of electors to the total population was 51 per cent., or a difference of only 3 per cent. In Queensland, on the other hand, . the proportion of those over twentyone years of age to the total population was 52 per cent., whereas the proportion of electors to the , whole population was 44 per cent., a difference of 8 per cent. In Tasmania, again, the proportion of those over twenty-one years of age to the total population was 50 per cent., and the proportion of electors to the total population was 47 per cent., or a difference of 3 per cent. - exactly the same as in the case of Victoria. These figures illustrate the effect of concentration; and also prove that a censuswhich is called for in connexion with this matter, because it is supposed to be almost absolutely correct - may be very far out in the case of the larger States. I admit, after all, that the census must be. the basis of our calculation ; but I hold that, having regard to the movements of our population - to the fact that large numbers are attracted from one State to another by developments such as have occurred in Western Australia - it would be highly undesirable to deal with the question of representation only once in ten years. I agree that the provision in the Bill, providing for a re- arrangement every five years, is sufficient. As regards the loss of a representative by Victoria, which, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has said, has nothing whatever to do with the gain of a member by New South Wales, I personally regret, as much as does any representative of this State, the fact that Victoria, for some considerable time, has failed to keep step with the other States in the matter of population. No State can suffer in this respect without some reflective action on another, and, if it were possible, it would be well, not only for Victoria, but for the whole of the Commonwealth, that there should be progress along the whole line. We have to recognise, however, that the population, not only of Victoria, but of Australia, is shifting from the pressure of the closely-settled parts to the more open areas of the Continent, and that it is probable that the increase in the States possessing the larger areas will be for many years out of proportion to the increase of population in Victoria. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- But it is our country districts that are losing population. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I am sorry to hear that. A loss in the rural districts is one of the worst features associated with a reduction of population. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melboune has said that the honorable and learned member forCorinella, and his colleagues in the late Ministry, had no right to take into consideration the trend of population. I assert, however, that we had a right to take into account every circumstance that would tend to show the correctness, or incorrectness, of the figures with which we were dealing. Our sole object was to ascertain whether those figures really represented the actual facts, and, in justice to the State of Victoria, every point was taken into account, in order that it might be ascertained whether or not any serious error had been committed. That was only what ought to have been done. It was recognised that the whole trend of population since 1891 supported the figures presented to us by the Statisticians. Had the Federation been in existence in 1891, Victoria would have been- entitled, on the census returns of that year, to twenty-six representatives, and New South Wales would have also been entitled to twentysix. But every enumeration that has been taken since then shows the trend of population to be in the direction of a reduction in the case of Victoria, and' an increase particularly in the case of New South Wales and some of the other States, although that increase has not been quite sufficient in the latter to call for an addition to their representation. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- The trend of population has been towards the north. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- And also towards the west. So far as Western Australia is concerned, however, any increase that has occurred is covered by the special representation which it is allowed under the Constitution.. I am not going to repeat the figures quoted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I would remind the House that even the returns for the last two quarters show that the trend of population is further and further in the same direction. In these circumstances, I think that the representatives of Victoria in the late Ministry were thoroughly justified in the decision at which they arrived, in common with their colleagues who represented other States. As honest representatives of the Commonwealth as a whole, they were fully justified in arriving at the decision that the only course open to them was that which they adopted. It was for this reason that, although I was the Minister primarily responsible for the proposal, I was very pleased to allow the honorable and learned member for Corinella, as one of the representatives of Victoria in the late Ministry, who was. attacked by the press of hisown State for his action in this regard, to precede me. in order that he might have the first opportunity to put forward the figureson which we relied, and to explain the reasons for the decision arrived at by the late Cabinet. The present Attorney-General, when the proposals of the late Government were made public, seemed to consider that that Government were acting unfairly toVictoria, and that they had no right to accept the Statisticians' figures as determining the basis of representation. He appeared to hold the view that the census should alone be adopted as the basis of representation ; but as soon as he and his colleagues are faced with the responsibility which every member has to bear when acting, not for a section,butfor the whole of the Commonwealth, we find them accepting as the basis of the representation of the States in the near future, the very statistics which their predecessors were blamed for adopting. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- But a great deal has happened since then. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- There are of course explanations. I hope that in this connexion, the Minister of Home Affairs will see that the very considerable expense incurred by' the late Government in this direction will not be lost - that action will be taken at a sufficiently early date to make use of the figures, and, as far as possible, of the divisions that were adopted by the Commis- sioners appointed by the late Government. Otherwise there would be, not only a great deal of confusion, but large additional expense. I think that, now that it lias been determined that the figures of the Statisticians are to be taken, the sooner we progress with the previous scheme of redistribution the better it will be for the Parliament and for the finances of the Federation. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Is there any difference between the scheme provided for in the Bill and that which the honorable member's Government introduced? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have said that there is none. We were reviled for our evil acts, and attacked for our unconstitutional proceedings ; but our successors are now faced with the same facts. I do not say that it is to their discredit that they are doing what we did. I would have thought it to their discredit if, in order to enable some of their members to act consistently with their previous remarks, they had adopted something which was not fair and just. Having been faced by the facts and circumstances with which we were faced, the present Ministry have had to come to the same conclusion. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Does not the honorable member think it an advantage to have statutory provision for quinquennial enumerations. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable member will understand that the late Government had to take action during the recess. We had promised Parliament that action would be taken for a redistribution during the recess, so that everything would be ready when Parliament met. We could not redistribute the electorates until we had determined what the representation of the States should be. That was the first question which faced me as the Minister who inquired into this matter. A decision as to what the representation of the States should be had to precede redistribution. Unless I could get the machinery to work in time to have matters ready for Parliament when, it met, 1 should have broken my promise to the House, which I had no intention of doing, or should have had to' postpone the putting forward of my proposals to so late a period of the session that they would probably not have been carried into effect. Therefore, the Government decided to act in this matter just as the Barton Ministry had acted. But that did not prevent us from further deal ing with it so that future distributions should not be left to the mere whim or will of the Ministry, and I had a proposal to bring that about. But that was to be at a later stage. We had to come to Parliament before) that could be accomplished. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Did the honorable member really intend to do what this Government proposed to do? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I do not say that we intended to do exactly what is now proposed, but I had a proposal for the consideration of the Cabinet. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Had the honorable member drafted a Bill? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- No. I had drafted some clauses for the Electoral Amendment Bill, but it was considered wiser that they should be inserted in a separate measure. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- But the honorable member's proposal would have had the same effect as that of this Ministry? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- It would have provided for fixed periods of readjustment of representation, instead of leaving matters to the will or whim of the Ministry. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Hear hear. The principle is the same. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I am not, of course, speaking of this as the proposal of the Cabinet, because it had not received the consideration of the Cabinet. I myself would go even further, and would say that we should by law determine when there should be redistributions. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Hear, hear. I would say every five years. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- We could do that only indirectly by saying when there should be enumerations. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- Or by determining how many electorates must be out of balance to make a redistribution necessary. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- A suggestion as to that is contained in .the Electoral Bill. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I put a suggestion of that kind into the Electoral Bill which I prepared. It is highly improper that these matters should be left to Ministers. Sometimes it leads to perhaps unfounded charges against Ministers, on the score that they are acting in their own interest or in that of their party. Moreover, this is not a question for a Ministry alone. Every State and every representative of a State has a right in this respect. I think that the members who represent the States should determine, not merely when a readjustment of representation shall take place, but when redistributions shall take place. That may easily be .provided for, either at certain periods, or when a certain proportion of the electorates are beyond the margin allowed. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- That proposal is contained in the Electoral Bill which has been circulated to-day. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- No doubt the Minister would have made such provision of his own accord, but he has flattered me by adopting the proposal which I put into my Electoral Bill. I shall not detain the House longer. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has put the facts and figures which I, as well as he, had collected, exceedingly fairly and very ably before the House. He has, I think, shown the people of Victoria that the Victorian members of the late Ministry, so far from neglecting the interests of that State, fought every inch along the line, until they found that justice and honesty were against any other position than that which they agreed to adopt. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Is that revealing a Cabinet secret? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- It is not.' The honorable and learned member for Corinella has said that they were my severest critics, and so they were. But they were always fair critics, and when they were convinced that any other attitude would not be an honorable one to maintain, they, like honorable men, in spite of their regret that Victoria would lose by a readjustment of representation, came to the same determination as that of the other members of the Cabinet. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- What about the *Argus?* The honorable member will surely not, dispute the fairness of that newspaper? It says that it should not be done. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I do not admit that any newspaper is fair at all times, and it is a failing with all of us that we regard a newspaper as unfair whenever it differs from and criticises us. It is in the interests of the whole Commonwealth that there should be an honest and straightforward settlement of this matter. What I am sure will be the decision of Parliament will do credit to us, and will help to establish confidence, which would have been shattered had either the Ministry or the members of this Parliament taken the ad vice of certain newspapers, whose one law seems to be that the rule of might is the rule of right. {: #subdebate-4-0-s3 .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS:
Dalley -- You, **Mr. Speaker,** must recognise the courage and critical faculty of the honorable and learned member for Corinella in reference to this matter. So powerful was his criticism of the measure that, contrary to my ordinary behaviour, I was compelled to make an unwilling exclamation. I agree with him in lamenting the depopulation of Victoria. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Not depopulation, but less rapid increase of population. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- I will qualify my statement in that way. I do not rejoice or gloat over this fact, and I sympathize with the honorable and learned member in being compelled to point out the great disparity which now exists between the various electorates. Bad as we have always considered the position to be, the honorable and learned member's close examination of the facts has shown it to be even worse than we expected. But honorable members as a whole will, I am certain, take an Australian view of this matter. They will not be influenced by the fact that New South Wales will gain a representative by a readjustment of the representation of the Commonwealth. In a few years Queensland may be in a similar position, because the tendency of our population is to increase more rapidly in the eastern and north-eastern coastal districts than elsewhere. The present Government are doing what the late Government were reviled for proposing to do. If Victoria were in the position which New South Wales occupies, the press and public of this State would be clamouring for a readjustment of representation. But although the Reid Government were reviled for what they proposed, the only difference between their proposal and that of this Government is that" they wished to do by an Order in Council what this Government wishes to do bv an Act of Parliament. However, the fact that a machinery Bill has been brought in does not satisfy me of the *bona fides* of the Ministry. It is no test of the genuineness of their desire to have a readjustment of representation. Possibly the introduction of this measure mav delay that readjustment. All that the Bill does is to empower the Chief Electoral Officer to obtain certain figures from the Statisticians, but Che Minister of Home Affairs could have obtained the same information without the passing of the measure. The Barton Ministry evaded the position altogether, the Reid Ministry were prevented from recognising it, and what reason have we to believe that the Deakin Ministry will not also evade it? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Surely we must take their word ? {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- That is like asking a child to shut its eyes, open its mouth, and take what is given to it. The honorable member for Wide Bay is not a child, and he is not so unsophisticated as to suppose that the 'measure now before us will in. itself suffice to bring about a redistribution of seats. I would ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government as soon as this measure is passed to take the steps necessary to bring about a redistribution of seats before the present session closes? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- As soon as the Bill is passed, its provisions will be acted upon, and as soon as a redistribution is shown to be necessary, provision will be made for it. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- There is no authority for making such a redistribution under this Bill. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Provision is made under the Electoral Bill which is being circulated in the Senate. That measure provides that a redistribution shall be made whenever it is shown to be necessary. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- The present measure does not make a redistribution necessary, although the honorable and learned member for Corinella quoted certain figures which showed) that ft should take place at the earliest possible moment. Several members of the present Ministry were opposed to a redistribution of seats on a former occasion. Some of them said that the States statistics could not be relied upon, and yet they have under the present Bill accepted the same means of information that were then available. The Barton Government baulked at one hurdle, and how are we to know that the present Government will not baulk at some other obstacle? How are we to know that a redistribution of seats will take place unless some guarantee is afforded that the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer will be acted upon? Judging from previous experience, we have every reason to entertain doubts as to the practical results likely to follow from this measure. It was very gratifying to find the honorable and learned member for Corinella giving his strong support to the measure, and acknowledging that it was necessary in order to do full justice to the other States. I think, however, thai ' we shall not satisfactorily deal with this matter until some authority outside of Parliament is empowered to carry out the intentions the Constitution. We know that certain delays may take place, becausecertain regulations are required to be laid before Parliament, and I can foresee thai ample means would be available to thosewho desired to prevent a redistribution of seats from being brought about. The figures presented to us by the honorable and learned member for Corinella with regard to the disparity in the number of electors were really astonishing. If such figures had been submitted by representatives of New South Wales they would have been discredited ; but now there can be no doubt as to their correctness, and I hope that the Government, in view of the necessities of the case, will do everything they can to facilitate a redistribution of seats. We all regret that one State is losing population, but that is not a matter of parliamentary concern. Parliament should have no control over the redistribution of the electorates. That is a question solely affecting the: interests of the electors, and therefore should be placed entirely beyond parliamentary control. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne raised a mere quibble when he spoke of. the necessity for a systematic enumeration. He was not so much concerned about a systematic enumerations as a systematic evasion of the Constitution. The assurance given by theMinister of Home Affairs, that as soon as. the Electoral Officer has obtained sufficient information .to justify a redistribution of seats, the electorates in the various States will be distributed upon an equitable basis, is satisfactory so far as it goes, but I should like to feel as sure of winning ^10,000 as I do that obstacles will be raised to the redistribution of seats, which will result in our going to our constituents next year under the same conditions that obtained at the last election. I am satisfied that the forces in Victoria in opposition to the Bill are strong enough to create almost insuperable obstacles to its being carried into practical effect. I do not suggest that the Ministry have brought forward the Bill as a subterfuge, but I feel confident that it will be so used as a consequence of representations which will be made by the Victorian press and others. I do not consider that the interests of the electors will be safeguarded until the whole question of the redistribution of seats is taken out of the hands of Parliament. {: #subdebate-4-0-s4 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas -- I think that a mistake was made by the first Federal Parliament in not making provision for the compilation of Commonwealth statistics. I think it is fairly clear that the intention was that, as soon as possible after the first Parliament was returned, statistics should be prepared for the purpose of ascertaining the number of representatives to which each State was entitled. Although the Constitution declares that members are to be returned in proportion to the number of people in each State, it does not follow that we should be continually changing the representation. The wording of our Constitution is not the same as that adopted in the United States Constitution, but the effect is the same. In the latter case, provision is made that the representation of the various States shall be according to the respective numbers of the people, but no provision is made for an enumeration every year for the purpose of ascertaining whether the proportion of representation of the various States is to be varied. They have had a census every ten years, but, as a matter of fact, they are not obliged to wait for that period to elapse. At the outset provision was made in Article I., section 3, for. a. certain number of members for each State until an Act could be passed to provide for specifically ascertaining the actual population. That was what was done under our own Constitution. The American Constitution went on to say that the actual enumeration should be made within three years after the first meeting of Congress. In other words, it was distinctly stated in the Constitution that the first Congress must pass an Act to provide, not for the adoption of existing statistics, but for ascertaining by a special enumeration the number of people within the Federation, J in order that the number of members to which each State was entitled might be determined. The Constitution goes on to say that an enumeration shall take place within every subsequent period of ten years. We are attempting to accomplish the same result, but by somewhat different words. Our Constitution does not provide for the statistics of the States being made the basis of their representation in this Parliament. Instead, the framers of our Constitution left it to be understood that the blanks, which appear in section 26, were to be filled up by taking the statistics of the States *pro tern.,* and ascertaining by the application of the quota the number of members to which they were entitled. Practically what the Convention did was to declare that the number of representatives to which each State is entitled shall be ascertained by Commonwealth statistics. I do not believe that we ought to adopt the statistics of the States for that purpose. We are doing that, but it is not what the Constitution contemplates. That charter of government contemplates that we should not sleep upon this matter- that we should have made some provision in this connexion four years ago. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- But there was a census taken four years ago. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- For Commonwealth purposes, the Constitution ignores State statistics. Those statistics are absolutely good for State purposes until we pass an Act dealing with statistics and abrogate State legislation upon the subject. The powers of the States extend only to the collection of statistics for State purposes. When we pass an Act relating to statistics and census we can alter the method of collecting statistics within the various States, because that method must be uniform throughout the Commonwealth, if we so prescribe it. The States have no concurrent power to declare that their statistics shall affect the representation of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr Conroy: -- Theycan declare what those statistics are, and we can adopt them. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- That is so. But I would point out that our Constitution does not contemplate that we should really adopt the statistics of the States for the purposes of a first redistribution. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Surely that is what the Constitution says. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- The honorable and learned member commenced his argument by introducing the opinions of various delegates, as expressed in the Federal Convention. I quite agree that it is a very vicious principle to attempt to interpret the. Constitution, or its presumed intention, merely by quoting the words employed by any Convention delegate. I do not quote the opinions expressed by delegates - I rely upon the spirit of the Constitution. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, however, went further than that. He sought to justify the action of the late Government in following the precedent of the Barton Administration - which declared the existing statistics of the States to be valid1 without a Commonwealth Act - by showing that a similar mistake was made by delegates to the Convention. What appears to have been contemplated was, that we should follow the American example. Consequently, I say that we should put it out of the power of the States to determine what ought to be the basis of representation in this House. The Commonwealth ought to deal with this matter. If we rely upon States statistics, one State may very easily obtain a far bigger representation than that to which it is entitled. Hence the power from the very outset was deliberately taken from the States. But now, owing to the delay which has taken place, we are obliged to adopt what has been done by the States. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr Skene: -- Why are we obliged to do that ? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- Because it seems fairly clear upon the statistics of the States that Victoria will lose one representative, whilst New South Wales will gain one ; and, as the cost of taking a census would Le ;£i 20,000, the late Ministry declared - and the present Government entertain the same view - that it would be a pity to take a special census for the purpose of giving New South Wales its proper share of representation. At the same time, we are not obliged to do that. We ought in future to adopt a specific enumeration for Commonwealth purposes. We ought not to rely upon the statistics of the States. {: .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr Conroy: -- Could not our statistical officer refuse to adopt the statistics of the States if he thought that they were "cooked "? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- We prescribe the, manner in which he is to make the enumeration. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Under this Bill the statistics of the States may be rejected. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- No doubt they may be. We have the power to declare that in future a specific enumeration shall be the basis of the parliamentary representation of the States. Under sections 24 and 51 of* the Constitution we have that power. The method of ascertaining the population of the States for the purposes of section 24 may be determined by Parliament. Under section 51 statistics may also be collected, but the manner in which we are to obtain statistics for the purposes of representation is a matter for our own option. I would suggest that, as we have power to postpone a redistribution for a period of ten years, we ought to say that at the end of every ten years the census returns collected by the Commonwealth shall form the basis of the representation of the States. We do not desire frequent changes. They are bad in principle, and are practised nowhere. ' Even democratic countries are not continually redistributing their electorates, although representation in some States is based as far as possible upon their population. The Bill itself is intended to make temporary provision in this respect by adopting the census returns of the States as the basis of representation. Upon a glance at its provisions, I confess that to me they appear to be somewhat inconsistent. For instance, clause 3 provides that an enumeration day shall be appointed at the expiration of every fifth year after the taking of the then last preceding census, whereas clause 4 declares that- >Until the census is taken pursuant to any law of the Commonwealth, the census taken pursuant to the law of any State shall, as regards that State, be the census for the purposes of this Act. It seems to me that one State may take a census return during one year, and another State during a different year. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I think that the census taking is now uniform throughout the States. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- If that be so, my objection falls to the ground. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Speaking from memory, I think that the census returns are now taken at a uniform .time throughout the States. {: .speaker-KDD} ##### Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Nearly all communities compile their census returns during years ending with the figure "one" - as, for example, in 190.1. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I doubt whether clause 10 is constitutional, but upon that question I shall defer my remarks until the Bill reaches Committee. {: #subdebate-4-0-s5 .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX:
Kooyong -- I listened with very great pleasure to the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I have consistently held that it is undesirable to accept mere statistics as the basis for determining so important a matter as that which is involved in this Bill. When I was in London, some time ago, I heard Lord Rosebery deliver a speech, in the course of which, in commenting on' certain figures which had been presented, he referred to the various degrees of unreliability by saying, " There are lies, condemnable lies, and statistics." Whilst I think that our State statistics are compiled with care, and that they are the result of years of experience, I cannot imagine that our Constitution intended anything else than that there should have been some general compilation of the population of the entire Commonwealth. As far as I can understand, the Constitution does not declare that 'the Commonwealth must of necessity accept the statistics of the States in any shape or form. We have the power to do so if we choose, but surely as a general principle it is desirable that there should be some means, of ascertaining, for Commonwealth purposes, what is the population of the Commonwealth. We can only arrive at an accurate knowledge of what our population is, for the purposes of State representation, by taking a census. Honorable members admit that it is an unimportant matter whether New South Wales gains an additional representative and Victoria loses one. If that be so, why should we change the existing state of things with such haste, and before we have obtained accurate figures as to the population of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- Because a- Redistribution, of Seats Bill has been promised. Under the circumstances referred to by the honorable member, we should' be again called upon, within a very short period, to effect another redistribution. {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX: -- That would not be a very expensive proceeding. It would merely involve the appointment of a Commissioner {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- It would also mean the printing of new rolls. {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX: -- Surely the rolls would have to be revised every year, in order to meet the movements in population. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- They would ha.ve to be redistributed. {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX: -- I feel that, in view of all these facts, I shall be justified in adhering to the opinion I have formed that we shall act wisely in refraining from making any alteration in the representation of the States until we have the census returns before us. If we are to. have changes of representation at intervals of less than ten years, we shall have a state of uncertainty which is highly undesirable. The disadvantages of making a change at the present time would overwhelm any of the suggested advantages to be derived from this measure, and I think that we ought to wait until we have the actual census figures before us. I shall not venture to discuss the question of what is the meaning of the words "the -latest statistics of the Commonwealth," as used in the section of the Constitution governing this matter. That is a question that must be left tlo the lawyers. All that I have to do is to consider the question from a commonsense point of view, and I have arrived at the conclusion that the only satisfactory statistics that we can adopt are those obtained as the result of an elaborate, proper, and systematic enumeration, taken either directly for Commonwealth purposes, or in the ordinary course of events by the individual States. I think I shall be acting in the best interests of the Commonwealth, as well as of the State of which I am a representative, in voting against the second reading of the Bill. {: #subdebate-4-0-s6 .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie -- I desire to refer briefly to this question, which is one of the gravest importance, and may have a serious bearing on the State of which I have the honour to be a representative. I deeply regret that the honorable member for Dalley should have made a comparison which is riot fair to any State, and is particularly unfair to Victoria. The honorable member said that he viewed with feelings of astonishment the fact that the honorable and learned member for Corinella, although a representative of Victoria, should have been able to summon sufficient courage to make the exhaustive statement that he did regarding the question of representation as adversely affecting this State. I sincerely hope that one's views on this question will not be held' to be entirely coloured and controlled by the fact that one is a representative of a particular State. It is well that we should recognise that we are here as the representatives, not of any particular State, but of the whole Commonwealth. It should be our desire to do justice to every part of the Commonwealth, and not to secure advantages for one State at the expense of the rest. That is the view which I take in approaching this question. The honorable and learned member for Corinella was enabled to make an elaborate statement be- cause of the fact that, as a member of the late Government, he had access to documents and records which are not readily obtainable by private members. He had also had an opportunity 'to discuss the question with his colleagues in the late Government, and, knowing the loyalty to their State of the three members of that Cabinet who represented Victoria, I am sure J:hat that discussion was a very full One. In these circumstances the honorable and learned member has been able to. deal more completely with the whole question than an honorable member in ordinary circumstances could hope to do. It seemed to me that he was more anxious > to excuse the act of the late Government- {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- I did not wish to excuse anything ; there was nothing requiring an excuse. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I am« referring only to the impression which his speech made on my mind, and am not going to ascribe to the honorable and .learned member any motive that he would not care to have attributed to him. The feeling that was engendered by the statement that he made to the House was that he was more anxious to explain and to excuse the action of the Government of which he was a member {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Not excuse, please. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I am speaking only of the opinion that I formed'. I may have misapprehended the honorable and learned member's intention, but that is my misfortune rather than his fault. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- He was seeking to justify the action of the late Government. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- At all events, that was the impression which I formed from his speech, and it is one which, notwithstanding his disclaimer, is still firmly fixed in my mind. It is a misfortune that we have to view the matter of the representation of the States in the House and that of the actual electoral representation from two different stand-points. In section 24 of the Constitution the expression "the people of the Commonwealth" is used, apparently with the intention that the representatives shall be chosen by the electors of the whole Commonwealth. In the same section, however, the words "the people " are used in quite a different sense, the intention there being to refer to the whole of the population of the Commonwealth. It is a misfortune that the Constitution is not more explicit with regard to this point. It is also unfortunate that the numbers of those who are to constitute the State representation are to be different from those who are to provide the electoral representation. I am not going to discuss the alleged loss of population, because I do not believe that any loss has actually occurred. The fact remains, however, that for some reason or other Victoria has not progressed so rapidly in the matter of population as have the other States. We have some solace in the fact that the latest electoral rolls show that Victoria has not gone back in the matter of her electoral representation. We have now on the rolls for Victoria 2,260 more electors than there were at the time of the election in 1903 ; but the rolls for New South Wales show that she has 21,071 less than she had at the election in question. I quote these figures in order to give point to the argument that it is to be regretted that ' population, and population alone, should be the governing factor in the matter of representation. To my mind, the framers of the Constitution would have shown greater forethought had they provided that the electoral strength of a State should have some bearing on any alteration so far as its representation in this Chamber was concerned. If the Bill now before us be carried, and the estimates which have been quoted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella be adopted, what will be the position? We shall have a representative of New South Wales representing on the average 20,947 electors, while every representative of Victoria will represent 27,969. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Hear, hear. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- That is a disparity which I feel sure was never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- As the Prime Minister cheers this remark, he ought to withdraw the Bill. . {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Is that the honorable and learned member's idea of logic? {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- Surely some consideration should be given to the electoral strength of a State? {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The honorable member's figures are wrong, for the average number represented by a member from New South Wales would be not 20,947, but 24,666. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I did not know that these figures were available until a few moments ago, when I obtained them from the Minister of Home Affairs, and I am prepared to accept the honorable and learned member's correction. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The disparity to which the honorable member has referred is due largely to the impossibility of effecting a complete collection in the larger States, where the population is scattered. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I would point out to the honorable member that we have the same system of collection in Victoria that is in operation in New South Wales, and that it would be just as fair to assume that those making the enumeration in Victoria were remiss in their duty as it would be to make that assumption concerning those carrying out the work in New South Wales. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have shown that the difference between the total population and the proportion of electors in Victoria was only 3 per cent., whereas in the case of New South Wales, it was 6 per cent. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- That, after all, is a difference of only 3 per cent. The figures I have quoted are substantially correct, and have been issued, I understand, by the Department of Home Affairs. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I am not questioning them ; I am simply referring to the causes of the difference. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I do not think that we are at present concerned with the causes of the difference. The fact stares us in the face that we are controlled and governed by figures compiled by officers acting under the same instructions. These are going to govern our representation, in the future. They will not take into account causes; they will give us the actual facts. When we have a remarkable disparity, such as has been shown toexist between the figures compiled by the Statisticians and the census returns, we have reason to say that more consideration should be given to this matter. I feel sure that no honorable member representing New South Wales would feel justified, in sitting in this House if he knew that he represented a considerablv smaller number of electors than were represented bv the members returned by other States. I urge that before . any step is taken under this Bill, some provision should be made to give weight to the) facts which I Wave stated, so that a procedure, which I feel sure must be distasteful to all, will not be carried out - I speak, not of a State not being entitled to another member, but of a. State being deprived of a member. In conclusion, just a word with regard to the compilation of these figures. Ten years is a very short term indeed in the life of a nation, and we should guard against the tremendous upheavals which, in a young country like this, where so large a proportion of the population moves from place to place, may occur with too frequent alterations of the representation of the States. We must remember that those who move from place to place still remain electors of the Commonwealth, and their interests are Commonwealth interests. We should not, therefore, alter the basis of representation unless we have indisputable evidence that the alteration is warranted. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Are not the statistics indisputable evidence? {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- Yes, and I ask for statistics. I agree with the honorable member that we should rely only on statistics. We should not be content with calculations. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- What does the honorable member mean by "statistics" - an actual count ? {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- An actual count. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The figures we have got are the result of an actual count, all except a small percentage. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I am surprised to hear the honorable and learned member say that. In the past there have been some glaring instances in which these so-called actual counts have been carried out in the most perfunctory and partial manner, with the intention of advancing one State before another. We have had estimates of the population of New South Wales which need only be compared with the actuaf census returns to cover the compilers with ridicule. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The New South Wales figures were only 12,000 out on a ten years' count. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- On a year's count. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr Mccay: -- No; on a ten years' count - from1891 to1901. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr SALMON: -- I am sorry that I have not with me the figures which were compiled bv **Senator Stvles.** but I would commend them to the consideration of the honorable and learned member, who will find that they were most carefully compiled, and taken from reliable sources, and they contain no mistakes in addition. Those figures will make a. very big fence for him to get over. If he is prepared to accept the system of guesswork followed by the States for many years past, and call that an enumeration, 1 ;ai not. The census enumeration is the only method which we should adopt. With regard to electoral representation, I know that that matter is not now under consideration ; but, incidentally, I should like to say that it should be regulated as circumstances arise to make that necessary. With regard to the greater and larger question, the States representation should, in my opinion, not be -altered at this time, because it depends on an entirely different system. Electoral representation depends on the collection of electoral rolls; but the representation of the States, if we adopt the system now proposed, will depend very largely on figures which are the result of guesswork, and not on figures which have been properly compiled. You cannot say that you have ascertained the facts, if you accept figures which have been guessed at. In order to ascertain that a thing exists, its existence must be proved, and the various changes in our population cannot be ascertained by accepting mere estimates. I recognise that it is of hardly any use to speak against a Government measure, but I feel certain that Parliament, by passing this Bill, will commit an act which it will have cause subsequently to regret. I feel that a mistake is being made, and that the tremendous interests at stake are being jeopardized to secure a verysmall gain to one particular State. I think, too, that the 'good feeling which we should endeavour to promote between the States will not be assisted by the events which must follow in the train of this measure. I should have very much preferred the Government to say that they were not prepared to accept the position laid down by their predecessors, and to take the estimates of population as ascertained information; but that they would propose a rearrangement of the electorates, and leave the representation of the States as it is until the end of the decennial period. {: #subdebate-4-0-s7 .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr CONROY:
Werriwa -- I am very glad that the Bill has been introduced, because it provides for representation on a fairer basis than we have at present. At the same time, I hold that all that was needed was to 'put into effect the provisions of the Electoral Act of 1902. Owing to a cause into which it is unnecessary for me to enter now, the representation of three of .the States of the Commonwealth is based upon statistics compiled nine years after the census of 1891 was taken, and since we were content to accept such figures for the first Federal Parliament, I think we need hardly quarrel with figures compiled only four years subsequent to the taking of a census, especially in view of the fact that the Statisticians of the States have met together, and agreed to make certain additions and corrections, -which the figures of the census showed to be necessary. The error in our statistics under the former method of compilation amounted to less than *i* per cent., I believe, when compared with the census, and in future it will be still less. With regard to my statement that it would have been sufficient to put into effect the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, I would urge, in the first place, that we had certainly power to pass that Act. It provides that each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions, equal in number to the number of the members of the House of Representatives, each division to return a member. Commissioners were to be appointed for the purposes of this distribution - under the Bill, the Chief Electoral Officer is so appointed. Then a quota was laid down, as determined by the Constitution. The trouble from which we are at present suffering arose in connexion with the distribution of the States into divisions, because, unfortunately, it was left to Parliament to determine whether it would or would not accept the proposals of the Commissioners, . and the Bill has a similar provision. Therefore, the interests of individual members were brought into conflict with their judgment, and the experience of last Parliament proved that when that happens, interest will generally prevail over judgment. The suggestions which were made in regard to the proposed redistribution of the three great States presented even greater ' difficulties than the distributions proposed by the Commissioners, showing clearly that, in refusing to accept the distributions of the Commissioners, honorable members were acting contrarily to their judgment, because their interests had been brought into play. The result has been that one State has been able to retain a representative to which it is not entitled, and another State has been deprived of a representative .to which it is entitled, which is by 'far the greater evil. To my mind, the only need for bringing in a Bill of this kind is to declare certain statistics Commonwealth statistics. However, I shall not quarrel with the introduction of the measure. I regret that it was not brought in long ago, or advantage taken of the 'Electoral Act, and, therefore, I shall give it my hearty support. I am not certain, however,, that the period of ten years is too long to allow to elapse between the readjustment of the representation of the States. I would ask the Minister of Home Affairs to insert a clause providing that when States are distributed into divisions by the Electoral Commissioner appointed for that purpose, this Parliament shall not have the right to say whether his redistribution shall be accepted. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- The honorable and learned member will have an opportunity of discussing that question when the Electoral Bill comes before us. {: .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr CONROY: -- If some such provision is not made, we shall experience the same difficulty that was met with when the last distribution scheme was before us. Oh that occasion members' interests conflicted with their judgment to such an extent that, upon one pretext or another, the distributions proposed were rejected. I prophesied that that would be the result, and my forecast proved so accurate that I am almost justified in saying that, unless we provide proper safeguards in connexion with the present measure, it will probably fail to achieve the results expected, and we shall have again to go to the country upon the same conditions as previously. We shall not advance the cause of redistribution as thoroughly as we ought to do unless the Minister determines to make its provisions of an automatic character, by insuring that the Commissioner's decision should be final. The provision in the Electoral Act, that objections may be lodged against the distribution proposed by the Commissioner within thirty days of its publication, is quite sufficient. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr Chanter: -- Suppose the Commissioner takes no notice of objections ? {: .speaker-K4E} ##### Mr CONROY: -- But he is bound to take some notice of them. It is highly undesirable that honorable members should be able to sit in judgment upon proposed alterations that may affect their seats. I' shall support the Bill, in the hope that some provision will be made to guard against the difficulties which arose in connexion with the Electoral Act. If that course is not taken, some difficulty may crop up at the last minute which will prevent a redistribution of seats being made prior to the next general election, and the work we are now doing will thus be entire! v lost. {: #subdebate-4-0-s8 .speaker-L1N} ##### Mr WILSON:
Corangamite -- I think it is to be regretted that we are not able to redistribute the electoral divisions upon the basis of the decennial census. When we consider, however, the disparities that exist between the electorates, both in Victoria and other States, we must recognise the necessity for some change before the next election. It appears to me that we have no other recourse than to follow the provisions of the Constitution, and make a redistribution of seats according to the numbers of people in the various States. I am sorry that the State of Victoria has ceased to progress in the matter of population in the same ratio as have the other States. I must congratulate the representatives of New South Wales upon the fact that the population of that State has largely increased, and I should like to direct their attention to the fact that .that increase has taken place during the operation of a protective Tariff. {: #subdebate-4-0-s9 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I must ask the honorable member not to discuss that question. {: .speaker-L1N} ##### Mr WILSON: -- We are dealing with the increase of population in some of the States, and I think that it is perfectly relevant to discuss the causes which have led to such increases. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- It . is perfectly in order for honorable members to refer to the relative increases, or decreases which have taken place in the populations of -the various States, but if honorable members were permitted to discuss the reasons for any such increases or decreases, 'it would be competent for them to debate the whole of the questions mentioned in section 51 of the Constitution. {: .speaker-L1N} ##### Mr WILSON: -- I must bow to 0iII ruling, **Mr. Speaker,** and content myself by saying that the fact I have stated is a most interesting one. I should like to direct the attention of the House to the fact already noted bv the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that the Attorney-General, before he became a member of the Government, condemned the principles embodied in the measure, whereas it is to be assumed that he now accepts them in their entirety. I should like very much- to follow the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and the honorable and learned member for Angas, but I think that owing to the immediate necessity for a redistribution of seats we cannot wait for the next decennial census. Therefore,I shall support the Bill. {: #subdebate-4-0-s10 .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE:
Grampians -- In connexion with this question, we have had a very striking proof of the fact that lawyers, like doctors, may differ. I confess that I have been in a very confused state of mind with regard to this question for some time past. Until recently I was disposed to follow those constitutional authorities who have taken up an attitude in opposition to the principles of the measure before us, but in view of the fact that the present Attorney-General has to a great extent backed down from the position he formerly took up- {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- He has not said so. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- He declared that parliamentary action was necessary. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- I assume that the AttorneyGeneral isin accord with this Bill, which, so far as I can see, is upon exactly the same lines as the proposal made by the previous Government to which he objected. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- The Attorney-General has not stated that he has changed his opinion. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- If he has not changed his opinion, he has adopted a different attitude. Matters must have been pretty well muddled from the first if we have to be dependent for our statistical information entirely upon the decennial census returns. If the seats had been distributed in the first instance upon the basis of the census returns, I should have had no hesitation in continuing to rely upon them, but as they were distributed upon statistical returns such as it is now suggested shall be used, and as the disparities between the electorates are now so serious, I think we should proceed at once to remove the existing anomalies. One point strikes me with considerable force, namely, that whilst the population of Victoria is smaller than that of New South Wales, the number of voters in the mother State is proportionately less than in Victoria. However. I do not regard that as affordingany ground for cavilling at the proposed redistribution of seats, as the Constitution lays it down distinctly that the distribution must be on a population basis, and not on the number of voters. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- That is accounted for by the fact that in Victoria there are 2 per cent. more persons over the age of twenty-one than in New South Wales. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- In view of the fact that we adopted the latest statistics available to us for the purpose of distributing the seats in the first instance, we cannot reasonably object to adopt a similar course now. Icannot understand how the returns are worked out. According to the evidence given before the Old-Age Pensions Commission there is in Victoria a much greater number of persons between the ages of sixty and sixty - five than in New South Wales. Why that should be so I do not, know, but that seems to me to throw some doubt upon the accuracy of our statistical information. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- Those figures are taken from the census. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- I fancy they are; but, nevertheless, the results appear to me to workoutvery curiously. In view of the fact that New South Wales is an older State, one would imagine that within it there would be a larger proportion of persons between the ages of sixty and sixty-five. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- But the influx of population into New South Wales consists of younger people. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- This is not a matter of percentage. It is a mere question of whether there are more people between sixty and sixty-five years of age in New South Wales than there are in Victoria. The figures which have been placed before the Old-Age Pensions Commission certainly show that there are more in the latter State. I should be very glad indeed if I could see my way to prevent the loss of a representative to Victoria. In that respect I occupy a similar position to the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Seeing, however, that there is such a large discrepancy between our own electorates - that some of those electorates contain, double the number of voters to be found in others - there is certain reason for a redistribution of seats, and therefore I feel that I must vote with the Government upon this Bill. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr Salmon: -- This is not a Bill to effect a redistribution of seats. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- Practically it is. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- It is a Bill to decide the redistribution in each State. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- That is what is at the bottom of the measure. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- There must be a redistribution of seats before the next general election. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- I quite realize that that is so. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Mr Salmon: -- If this Bill were not carried it would still be possible to effect a redistribution of seats. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The first information which the Government would have to give its Commissioner would be with reference to the number of seats. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- Seeing that upon a former occasion the representation :of the States was determined upon the basis of the statistical returns, it is only right that the proposed redistribution should be based upon the latest similar returns. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- As between the States we must have resort to the latest statistics. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE: -- There are later statistics than those upon which the original distribution of seats was based. Upon a former occasion I objected very strongly to any redistribution, because of the abnormal condition of things which had obtained consequent upon the drought. I honestly . believed that a great many people left the country districts and crowded into the towns, and. therefore I opposed the scheme submitted by a previous Government. That position of affairs, however, is now past. People have returned to their homes, and matters have resumed their normal condition. The objection which I then raised cannot be honestly urged now. . In spite of an inclination to lean a little towards my own State, I feel that the figures are against me, and that consequently I must vote in favour of the Bill. {: #subdebate-4-0-s11 .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
Moira -- It is not my intention to speak at length upon this measure. It is generally admitted that, prior to the first general election for this Parliament, we had not accurate figures as to the population of the various States. That position, to my mind, is about to be accentuated by the deliberate act of this House. Instead of obtaining reliable statistics of population, we are about to resort to mere estimates. What was condemned' as an improper act on the part of the late Government is now about to be regarded as a very proper act. I contend that if it was wrong for the late Government to propose the redistribution of seats upon mere estimates, it is equally wrong for the present Ministry to do so. The last census returns compiled by the States proved that the estimates upon which the first Commonwealth Parliament was elected were to some extent inaccurate; The same condition of affairs obtains to-day. Surely in laying down a new procedure it is desirable that we should have a reliable basis ! I do not feel disposed to vote against the Bill, knowing that it is absolutely necessary that we should provide some machinery to meet the exigencies of the present situation. I do not find fault with those who say that, under the operation of the measure, it is probable that Victoria will lose a representative in this House. If the figures show that she is not entitled to that representative, I shall offer no objection. If, on the contrary, New South Wales is entitled to an additional representative, I say that her right should not be denied to her. Before proceeding, however, to redistribute the seats, I claim that we should have the most reliable data upon which to act. In Committee, I shall make a determined effort to incorporate that mode of procedure in the Bill. {: #subdebate-4-0-s12 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I only wish to say a few words, and those not in derogation of the Bill, which I hope to see passed as speedily as possible. I quite agree with the honorable member for Moira, that this measure affords the most complete justification of the action taken by the late Government. Now that the present Ministry are taking precisely the same course as that adopted by their predecessors - now that they are crystallizing into a statute what the Reid-McLean Government did by Executive act, there is no ground for complaint, although the Bill does not take us very much further forward in regard to the work of redistributing the electorates. In itself, the measure seems to me to be incomplete. I should have liked to see the Government carry the matter further, or else incorporate the provisions of this Bill in a section of the Electoral Act, and place it upon the statute-book as such. The measure does not in reality declare that there shall be a redistribution of seats, that the electorates shall be recast, so as to more accurately represent the basis of our democracy - namely, the adult vote of the Commonwealth. It merely provides for the enumeration of the voting power of the Commonwealth, and leaves the matter there. When the Commonwealth officer has furnished his certificate, and the matter has received the approval of the Executive, and been published in .the *Commonwealth* *Gazette,* there it ends. Unless the House or the Government take the initiative, this Bill will be valueless, so far as any practical purpose is concerned. I understood the Minister of Home Affairs to say that he intends to introduce another Bill, which contemplates action in the way of giving effect to what is achieved by this Bill. That is all I am concerned about. I trust that the Government will make it clear that they intend to lose no more time in dallying with this great subject of the redistribution of the electoral power of the Commonwealth. It is high time that that work was carried out. We have been here for five years, working upon a basis which is unsatisfactory from every point of view. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- That remark does not apply to every State. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It applies to every State, with the exception of Western Australia, where these anomalies have been rectified. I hope that this Bill represents only a prelude to action, which will take us to the completion of the matter, and without which all our legislative arrangements will be vitiated by reason of the continued unequal distribution of the electoral power of the Commonwealth. There are one or two points connected with this measure to which attention may profitably be given in Committee, and, therefore, I do not intend to deal with them now. I am glad that the Government are taking steps in the direction indicated by the Bill, and I am pleased to have heard from honorable members upon both sides of the Chamber a complete justification of the action taken by the late Government, which provoked so much momentary adverse criticism from some honorable members, who now appear to favour these proposals, and who seem to be quite docile in regard to a matter profoundly affecting their own State. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr Kennedy: -- It was merely this, and nothing more, with the last Government. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The late Government proposed to submit the whole scheme definitely to the House. As the honorable member has mentioned that point, I confess that I fail to see any necessity for this Bill. The question could be just as effectively discussed if it were embodied in a scheme for redistributing the electoral power of the Commonwealth as it can be when it is dealt with in a separate measure. We are only doing sectionally and piecemeal what the late Government proposed to do completely. I submit that the pro posals of the Reid-McLean Administration were very much in advance of those contained in this Bill. Indeed, without some such proposal as was made by the late Administration to bring about a redistribution scheme, this measure would represent so much waste paper. It is strange that the Bill should proceed from a Government, some of whose members bitterly denounced the former proposal. However, it does not matter to me where proposals originate, so long as they are in accord wim the opinion of the House, that as soon as possible a revolution should be made in our electoral system, which now drags so heavily on the Commonwealth, and which, so far, has done nothing but vitiate our legislation. {: #subdebate-4-0-s13 .speaker-KZH} ##### Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon -- When the late Government, through the press, announced their intention to submit a Redistribution of Seats Bill, I was very much opposed to their proposal. I followed with some interest the opinions expressed in the newspapers by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, the present Attorney-General, and **Mr. Irvine,** M.L.A. I must say, however, that the most convincing and elaborate argument which has been adduced by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, has effected a great change in my views. I feel that, although the loss of a representative to Victoria is a very serious one, Victorians would not be justified in opposing this measure upon that ground alone. It must not be forgotten that the present electorates in Victoria and New South Wales were, to a very large extent, formed as the result of mere guesswork. It was never anticipated by the. Parliaments of those States, which defined the electorates, that the Commonwealth Legislature would continue to maintain them for any length of time. For instance, the constituency which I represent was created by combining three or four State electorates, and by restricting the boundaries of the Commonwealth electorate to those of the State, irrespective of any alteration in the franchise which this Parliament might adopt. The Federal Parliament has adopted a totally different franchise, and that means that the number of electors in the different constituencies varies much more than is contemplated by the Federal Electoral Act. That being so. it is only a question of time when the Federal Parliament must rearrange the constituencies in each State. When we do that we shall have to inquire into the question of the total representation of that State, as compared with that of the others. We come now to the basis on which the representation of the States should be calculated. I have listened with interest to the remarks made by the honorable and .learned member for Northern Melbourne, and, so far as I followed him - I trust that I am not doing him an injustice - he appeared to be of opinion that the words "the latest statistics," in the section of the Constitution governing this matter, must refer to a census enumeration. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Not necessarily ; but our principal mode of obtaining statistics is by way of the census. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, I think that the latest statistics available are those of 1901. {: .speaker-KZH} ##### Mr ROBINSON: -- That is a matter upon which different opinions are held, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella has already explained to the House the reason why he differs from the honorable and learned member in this respect. It seems to me that there is one aspect of the question which is of some importance, and which relates to the fact that the new expenditure of the Commonwealth is distributed upon a *per capita* basis. It is rather incongruous that we should distribute the new expenditure upon a *per capita* basis, according to certain figures, and yet rearrange our representation upon a totally different set of statistics. If we adopt the latest returns in the one case we ought to do so in the other. It must be admitted that there is a certain amount of guesswork in the matter of the Statisticians' returns; but the more experience these officers gain the less will be their liability to make errors in their calculations. The census of 1901 enabled them to recast their methods of checking errors, and I have no doubt that the possibility of mistakes has been very considerably reduced. It must not be forgotten, however, that even the census cannot give us accuracy, and that there must be, comparatively speaking, a large number of persons who are omitted from the returns. We cannot, under any method, obtain mathematical accuracy, and' it seems to me that although the basis of the calculation which is to be followed in this case is injurious to Victoria, it is one to which we cannot object. I was, at first, very much opposed to it, but after hearing the arguments that have been advanced in favour of it, and having regard to the fact that the first Parliament practically indorsed a proposal by a totally different Government to adopt the same method of procedure, I feel it my duty not to oppose the second reading of the Bill. {: #subdebate-4-0-s14 .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS:
Attorney-General · Indi · Protectionist -- As my name has been .mentioned' during the debate, I should like to say a word or two before the question is put. It is not correct that I have changed my opinion, in the slightest degree, in regard to this matter. The first objection I had to the course proposed by the late Government was that it was intended' to deal with this question by Executive act. Now, I consider that any step taken towards altering the representation of a country by Executive act is inherently wrong. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable and learned gentleman did not object to the Barton Administration adopting that course. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- That was not an attempt to alter the representation of the country ; it was an internal division of the representation of each State, which is a totally different matter. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- No, it was for this very purpose. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I am perfectly clear on the point. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- The honorable and learned gentleman is quite right. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- By a fluke it did not make any alteration. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I am quite certain that I am perfectly correct. There is a vast difference between the two proposals. I should like to' say, however, that whether it was; or was not, done then, it is, in my opinion, an inherently wrong course to adopt. No Ministry 'should have it in its power, at its own will, to alter, or to commence to alter, or to prevent an alteration of, any due representation of the country. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The late Government did not have that power, because Parliament would have had to sanction their proposal ' before it could be put into effect. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I should like to point out to the honorable member, if he will permit me to do so, why my statement is correct. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- But Parliament would have had an opportunity to reject the proposal. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- If the Reid-McLean Administration had thought that the estimate showed that New South Wales would lose a member, they might - I do not say that they would, but they might - have refrained from making any proposal for an alteration- - {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- That is a very improper suggestion to make. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- Will the honorable' member allow me to complete the sentence? I am merely citing a supposititious case as an illustration of my point, and am not seeking to apply it to any particular Government. If it be left to a Ministry to say that they may bring forward such proposals when they like, and if they like, then, although they cannot carry them without the assent of Parliament, they can refuse to give the Parliament an opportunity to carry them. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- And that was what the late Government was asked to do. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I am not commenting on the act of an1 individual Government ; I am speaking only of the principle, and say that such a power as this should not be given to any Executive. The great principle of the Bill lies in the fact that it takes it out of the power of any Government to deal with this question ; that it places the whole matter in the hands of the Parliament itself, and of officers of the Government, who have no political feeling whatever. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The Government mav still ignore this enumeration. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- Under the Bill they cannot do so. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- They might, for anything the Bill contains. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- The honorable member is under a misapprehension, and I would advise him to read the Bill. The point, however, is one to be dealt with in Committee. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Will the honorable and learned gentleman show me anything in the Bill that would prevent the Government from ignoring the enumeration ? {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I shall be prepared to do so when we go into Committee. With regard to the question of enumeration, I say distinctly that the scheme adopted in the Bill is no mere guesswork and no mere estimate. If the other view be taken, and it is said that we are to be guided only by the census, I must reply that, in my opinion, such a contention is not warranted by the Constitution. I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella when he 'says that a clear distinction is drawn between the words "census" and "statistics"; but I think that a little consideration will show that, if we provided in the Bill that there should be a redistribution as between the States only after a census, it might lead to a very great wrong being done. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I do not "think any one urges that we should go as far as that. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- Let me point out why I think some such scheme as that which we have adopted is inevitable. Recollecting that the Parliament is elected for three years, let us imagine what would be the position if a Parliament were elected, and lived its full life, and two succeeding Parliaments lived their full lives, or nine years in all. Then let us suppose that the succeeding Parliament, in the first year of its existence, found that a census "had been taken. In that event surely we would not dissolve the Parliament immediately; we should not say, " We want a new Parliament, because a new census has been taken." If we did not do so - if we allowed that Parliament to live its full life, and in the meantime a great change of population took place, say, in Western Australia {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr Wilks: -- Or was caused by a drought. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- Quite so. In those circumstances, surely we should not adhere to the bare figures of the census that were published in the first year of the life of that Parliament. We are to take the last census, and also not what A or B says are, or what any Ministry chooses to pass by way of regulation and call, " Commonwealth statistics," but what Parliament declares to be " Commonwealth statistics." {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Has the honorable and learned gentleman ever heard of the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee? {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- It is the difference between legality and illegality - the difference between Parliament exercising its powers and not doing so. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The difference between responsible government and irresponsible government. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- The difference between a Government obeying the law and not doing so. The Parliament has it in its power to say what shall be deemed statistics and what shall not be *so* regarded. It is not in the power of a Government to determine that matter. When the Constitution gives Parliament certain powers, it does not say that those powers shall be exercised at the will of the Executive. Therefore we say that, inasmuch as we could never allow the Parliament to be elected on the bare figures of a census - which might be declared, perhaps, for all we might know, a week after it was elected - and not take into consideration the great changes which might take place within the next three years, there is no other course open to us than that of coming down to Parliament with these proposals, leaving the Parliament to say what shall be declared statistics. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- To legalize guesses. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- No. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- Hazy, indefinite guesses. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- Certainly not. I say that this calculation- {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The "honorable and learned gentleman spoke of the calculation now adopted as a " hazy, indefinite guess." {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I am quite sure that my honorable and learned friend will admit that, when the Reid-McLean Government declared their proposal, the country had no means whatever to ascertain how these figures were arrived at. {: .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr Lonsdale: -- The position was exactly the same as it is now. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- I am sorry that my honorable friends are becoming uncomfortable. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- The honorable and learned gentleman knows now that the figures were ascertained in a certain way. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr ISAACS: -- 1 accept my honorable and learned friend's word. But that does not take us away from the position that the course proposed by the late Government was absolutely unwarranted, because the Constitution does not place it in the hands of any seven or eight members sitting round the Council table to declare what shall be the law for this country. If the Parliament chooses to say that statistics shall be gathered in a certain way - it may or may not be by enumeration - we may thus secure the statistics of the Commonwealth. We accept statistics relating, for example, to grain, but we do not count the grains in or weigh every bushel. There is a great distinction between a " cen sus " and "statistics," and consequently when two different words are used in the Constitution, it remains for the Parliament to say what, in its opinion, shall be declared, by way of legislation, to be the statistics of the Commonwealth. When the Parliament has declared what shall be regarded as Commonwealth statistics, the words of the Constitution are satisfied. If honorable members can find a more accurate Vav of arriving at the population of the Commonwealth, I shall be very glad to hear of it; and if any State which fears that its representation may be affected chooses to declare its own census - because under this Bill provision is made for the census of any State being taken, pending the taking of a Commonwealth census - I shall also be very pleased. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I have not changed my views. On the contrary, I have expressed the opinion before, and express it again, that it is necessary to arrive at the population on a legal basis, as provided by the Constitution, and the Government has taken that course. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In Committee :* Clause i agreed to. Clause 2 - >For the purpose of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen from time to time in the several States, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth shall, at the times and in the manner prescribed by this Act, ascertain the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, and the numbers of the people of the several States. {: #subdebate-4-0-s15 .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS:
Northern Melbourne -- I did not like to take the extreme step of calling for a division against the second reading of the Bill, but the Prime Minister has agreed that this clause affords a convenient opportunity to test the question whether the Committee approves of the substitution of the certificate of the Chief. Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth as to the numbers of the people for the statistics provided for in this case by the Constitution. I need hardly say that no argument was adduced during the secondreading debate in justification of the position that the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer should be the same thing as the "latest statistics of the Commonwealth." Clause 2, and so much of the Bill as is consequent upon, or incidental to it, must be void if it is in contradiction of the Constitution, no matter what honorable members may think, or how they may vote, although, as it is hard to conceive how any Court can come to deal with the question, it is improbable that it will ever be tested. There was evident, however, during the second-reading debate, a good deal of misunderstanding in regard to the purpose of the Bill. For, instance, the honorable member for Grampians seemed to think that in voting for it he was voting for the redistribution of the Victorian electorates. Of course, it is clear, from clause 10, that if the Bill be carried into law, it will have to be followed by a measure for the redistribution of the electorates of the States. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- All that will be necessary will be a proclamation under the Electoral Act. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- Assuming that the number of members to be chosen in each State is fixed at twenty-two for Victoria, there will have to be a redistribution of electorates in this State. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- The Electoral Act will cover that. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- Yes ; but my point is that we are not now making provision for the redistribution of the electorates of any State. This is a Bill "relating to the representation of the several States of the House of Representatives,"- and clause 2 provides for an inquiry as to the population of the several States - for the purpose of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives' to be chosen from time to time in the several States. I adhere still more strongly now than I did originally to the position which I took up when first I understood the scheme now proposed to take the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer as the latest statistics. It may be difficult to say what would be the latest statistics, and indeed all sorts of difficulties might be raised, but I am confident that the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer is not the latest statistics. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- The latest available statistics. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- The words of the Constitution are "the latest statistics." Of course they must be available. The language of clause 9 is taken almost .word for word from section 24 of the Constitution, but paragraphs *a* and *b* contain a very significant change of words. Paragraph *a* says that - A quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the certificate (for the time being in force) of the Chief Electoral Officer, by twice the number of senators, while the Constitution says that a quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of people of the Commonwealth "as shown by the latest statistics." The words in paragraph *b* are the same as those in the Constitution, except for a similar substitution. Therefore an attempt is being made to amend the Constitution by a mere Act of Parliament. I warned honorable members in connexion with the Judiciary Bill that they were going wrong, and it has been determined by the Court that they did go wrong, and, so far as one can, without presumption, speak confidently on a matter of this sort, I say that this provision is absolutely void. In my opinion, the correct course, since there has been no enumeration since the census of 1901, is to act on the basis of that census, though I am strongly of opinion that we should have an enumeration or census as often as we can consistently with the keeping down of expense, and I am glad that the Government proposes to take a census at least once in every five years. Another point I would suggest for consideration is this : There is no Commonwealth collection of statistics, and, although the Statisticians of the States are at present in agreement, it does not follow that they will always be so. It might happen that there would be differences between the figures of the Statist of New South Wales and those of the Statist of Victoria or Queensland, so that one would criticise the returns of another, and we should have no solid basis of certainty to act on. Where, then, should we find the " latest statistics? " I do not wish to argue the question at length, since it was discussed very fully on the second reading, but I am anxious, and so I understand are several others, to enter a decided protest against the proposal, by voting against this clause. That, I think, is a better course to adopt than to seek to insert an elaborate amendment. Of course, we must be beaten, because when a Government adopts the proposals of its predecessors it is bound to win. This Government has chosen that path as the way of least resistance, and I have no doubt will carry its proposals into effect. But some of us would like to be allowed to enter as emphatic a protest as we can make against what we regard as a mistake. The question whether Victoria will, or will not, lose a member is not of importance, but I do not wish to be a party to what I regard as an illegal and unconstitutional act which is being proposed in defiance of opinions expressed by Ministers themselves. {: #subdebate-4-0-s16 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Minister of Home Affairs · Darling Downs · Protectionist -- I understand that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne objects to our proposals on the ground that to say that the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer as to the number of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States, made as provided by the Bill, shall be regarded as the latest statistics, is to provide something contrary to the principles of the Constitution, and therefore void. With all respect, I must differ from him on that point. In the first place, Parliament was empowered by paragraph xi. of section 51 of the Constitution to legislate with respect to census and statistics, that is, we possess an inherent power to declare what are and what are not statistics, or, rather, to provide how our statistics shall be ascertained, collected, gathered; or compiled. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Have we power to declare that a horse is a sheep? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- We have power to adopt statistics which have been collected by the States, and to declare that for our purposes they shall be the statistics of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I wish the Government to take the statistics which were compiled at the last census. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- That is being done. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But the Bill goes further. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- Our starting point is an enumeration of the people which took place in 1901, and to gain the latest statistics on enumeration day, we give authority to the Statisticians of the States to send in returns showing births and deaths. These returns are statistical returns. Further than that, Parliament says that an account shall be taken of the arrivals and departures by land and sea. These are recorded facts, and when the returns are made up they constitute statistics. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But suppose a man crossed the border in a private vehicle? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- In every statistical department certain allowances are made for possibilities of error, and by the law of averages, these errors are brought down to an irreducible minimum. Even in the case of an enumeration, there are omissions. Therefore, I do not think that this proposal can be regarded as unconstitutional. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But I say that it is unconstitutional. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- It cannot be urged that the whole of it is unconstitutional. The honorable and learned member will admit that the census is constitutional, and that the returns relating to the registration of births and deaths would be statistical. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Not for the purposes of the Constitution. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I submit that if we adopt the latest statistical information we can obtain- {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- It must be the latest statistical information obtainable for the Commonwealth, as a whole. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- With all due respect to my honorable and learned friend, I submit that we are exercising power we undoubtedly possess, to declare that certain State returns, which are furnished in accordance with certain prescribed methods, shall be regarded as Commonwealth statistics for any purpose we may deem fit. I join issue with the honorable and learned member when he says that we are endeavouringto avoid friction. We are endeavouring to work out a fair and equitable principle for the period between each census. In the first place, we say that the decennial period is too long, and that it is necessary to split up that interval. We are adopting the census as a guide whenever it is available to us, but in the intervals we propose to rely upon the statistics collected by the methods prescribed by the Bill. We contend that it would be too costly to have a census taken every fifth year, at a cost of£117,000, or upwards. I think that we should keep ourselves as much as possible in touch with the distribution of people throughout the Commonwealth, and insure their proper representation. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- In ten years hence, New South Wales will probably be entitled to five more representatives. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- Then they should be granted to her. The position which New South Wales now occupies mav be filled by Victoria or Queensland on the occasion of some future redistribution. No one can tell how far the population of Victoria may be increased, if certain irrigation schemes are carried out, and land now regarded as useless is brought under cultivation. I submit that we are not attempting to avoid friction, or to win support, but are endeavouring to lay down fixed principles upon which the redistribution shall take place. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I think the Government felt themselves bound by the promise that there would be a redistribution. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- We felt bound by the provision in the Constitution that, whenever necessary, there shall be a determination of the proportion of the representatives of the States. We also felt bound to lay down certain definite lines upon which such proportion should be determined, and when. There is nothing specific in the Constitution to define when a redistribution shall or shall not be necessary; the only inference is that, as soon as the returns obtained from various sources, show that the representation fs not proportionate, action shall be taken. The Constitution does not specify that action shall be taken at any fixed period, but we desire to lay down rules which will put an end to all uncertainty on that subject. There is nothing in the Constitution as to the period at which the redistribution shall take place, but we are told that we should rely, for the purposes of our calculation, on the latest statistics of the Commonwealth. It appears to me that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has taken a very narrow view of the construction to be placed upon the words " latest statistics." {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I say that they must be statistics and not estimates. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I admit that there may be* a dispute as to what constitute statistics, but our desire is to place the matter beyond all dispute. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But I contend that that cannot be done. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- -I claim that we are exercising the undoubted power of the Commonwealth Parliament to lay down rules. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- The wording of the Constitution cannot be altered. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- Section 24 provides - >The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined whenever necessary - in a certain manner. Parliament is now being asked under the authority of this section to " provide " that the population of the States shall be ascertained at one period from the census and at another period by the methods prescribed in the Bill. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But Parliament cannot alter the meaning of the word " statistics." {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- We are not attempting to do so, but we are recognising the statistics of the various States, and are making them Commonwealth statistics for the purpose of determining the representation of the people. {: #subdebate-4-0-s17 .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY:
Corinella -- If I rightly understand the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, he takes up the position that no alteration should be made in the representation of the States unless the latest- statistics of the Commonwealth show that it ought to take place. He contends, further, that the latest statistics referred to must take the form of a systematic enumeration of the people of the Commonwealth. Do I understand the honorable and learned member to mean that there must be an enumeration of the whole of the people? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- Then I would put this position to him. If it is ascertained by counting that there are 100 persons in a room,' and tellers are placed at the various entrances or exits to count those going in and out, and it is afterwards found that twenty people enter the room and ten leave the room, would the honorable and learned member regard as statistics the net total of no persons arrived at by a process of addition and subtraction? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- They would not be statistics within the meaning pf the Constitution. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- I understand the honor- , able and learned member to say that the 1 10 people must be counted over again in order to produce statistics which would be recognised within the meaning of the Constitution. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- All I say is that the returns which are to be relied upon under the Bill are not statistics. I am not bound to say what would be statistics. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- I will put another case. In 1901, we counted the people actually in Australia, and stationed tellers at all our entrances and exits to count all the people coming in and going out. We have also kept a record of births and ' deaths, and by a process of addition and subtraction we have arrived at a computation as to our present population. It seems to me that the results are statistics within the fullest meaning of the term. Further, it seems to me that the position taken up by the honorable and learned member is that if the Bill made no allowances for error, the calculations referred to would be statistics, but because it does make allowances for error, and thus brings about >a closer approach to accuracy, the returns proposed to be used are not statistics. In other words, the honorable and learned member says that because the figures may1 be wrong they are not statistics. But I venture to say that they are statistics, even though they may be wrong. Our experience has shown that there are actual .exits and entrances for which no provision has been made, and I prefer figures which are subject to certain allowances for unrecorded arrivals and departures, rather than figures which are compiled upon arbitrary lines. I think that the Minister placed himself upon the horns of a dilemma, because he said in the first place that the number of persons to be chosen should be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people, and at the same time he implied that the moment any change of population occurred we must arrange for a change of representation accordingly. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- I said that a strict construction of the words " whenever necessary " might lead to that conclusion. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- Then the Minister said that as it would be only fair to alter the representation as the population changed, he would refrain from ascertaining whether there was any alteration in the population except at fixed periods. In effect, he says that we should refrain from obtaining knowledge upon that point except at certain dates, and yet we know that the same means of knowledge are available every quarter in the Statisticians' returns. This Bill declares that the number of the representatives of the different States shall change in proportion to the population, but that we shall refrain from ascertaining what changes have taken place in that population except at fixed dates. That is so necessary a working rule that I do not intend to quarrel with it, although I still entertain doubts as to whether it is constitutional. If we deliberately refrain from knowledge, except at the five or tenyear periods, we are omitting to add up when changes have taken place so as to ascertain the nature of those changes. I now come to the question of what is the meaning of the words " whenever necessary." The honorable and learned member for Angas said, in effect, that they are meaningless - that they mean that the number of members in this House shall be de termined whenever it is necessary to determine them. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- They mean that whenever we know that a thing is so, we must take steps to find out that it is so. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- If that is the interpretation of the words, certainly they are meaningless^ But I have always understood that the Courts do not construe an »Act of Parliament so as to render it meaningless, if they .can avoid doing so. With every respect, I submit that those words mean that the number of members shall be determined whenever the changes in our population alter the proportion so as to make it necessary to effect an alteration. I. think that the words " whenever necessary " refer to the change in population which will cause a change in representation, if the arithmetical ratio is to be preserved. But the words " until the Parliament otherwise provides" precede the words " be determined whenever necessary." To my mind the words "until the Parliament otherwise provides " govern the method of determination to be provided, either with or without the words "''whenever necessary." Consequently, Parliament can substitute for the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, figures ascertained in any manner that it n*y prescribe. That, however, does not get rid of the obligation on the part of the Parliament to alter the number of members as the number of the population alters, because the power * of Parliament is limited to a certain arithmetical calculation. I claim that the words "the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people " are imperative, and are subject to no parliamentary alteration whatever. Parliament cannot declare bv legislation that it is not necessary to alter the number of members, when it is necessary under the earlier words of the section. However,. I have raised the point; the difficulty is here, and has to be met. I do not see the necessity for providing for a five years' enumeration. I think that an enumeration every ten years would be sufficient. I repeat that the words " until the parliament otherwise provides " control sub-clauses i and 2, and therefore the words " the latest statistics of the Commonwealth." I think that the figures to which reference has been made are statistics in every reasonable sense of the term. Indeed, everything except the allowances for unrecorded arrivals and departures are statistics, and those matters have been tacked on in order to bring the statistics which may be wrong more in accordance with the actual facts. The small extent to which they proved to be wrong upon a previous occasion justifies us in assuming that the results arrived at under the proposals of the Government will be pretty nearly correct. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Because there is only a small difference between the figures and " statistics," therefore they are statistics. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- No. We are merely accepting something which is nearer to the true facts than is the actual count itself. My doubt all along has been as to the words in the clause which are not controlled by the words, " until the Parliament otherwise provides." I do not think that our action is likely to be challenged, and if I were arguing the matter before the High Court, I should be strongly tempted to urge that that tribunal must strain the language of the Constitution, because of the extreme inconvenience which would result from a literal interpretation of it. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- We ask for no straining at all. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- I fear that this Bill is unconstitutional upon one ground, and I say that in order to defend the measure we have to strain the Constitution. Consequently, I think that the proposal is one which we ought to risk in the interests of the convenience of government. {: #subdebate-4-0-s18 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas -- I fail to see that the objection taken to this Bill by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is well-founded. It is true that the certificate of the Electoral Officer is to be evidence, but it is only to be evidence of what the enumeration discloses. The Bill prescribes how the enumeration shall be made, and it only makes it evidence for the purposes of revision. I quite agree that what was intended was that there should be a Commonwealth enumeration of the population. In other words, instead of relying upon the statistics of the States by adopting them in an Act of Parliament, it was intended that we should specifically enumerate the population of the Commonwealth for the purpose of ascertaining the representation to which the States were entitled. At the same time, we have the power to adopt the statistics of the States, if we choose to do so. That is what the Government propose to do, and what I conceive is bad policy. I think that we should follow the American example, by having a Commonwealth enumeration, for the purpose of ascertaining the true share of representation to which the various States are entitled. To continue the present method indefinitely is certainly objectionable. That, however, is what the Bill does. A specific enumeration by the Commonwealth would not involve us in anyextra expense. We are now asked to pass a Bill dealing with census returns and statistics. We can prescribe in this measure that a census shall be taken for the Commonwealth every ten years. The Bill proposes to adopt the statistics of the States which may or may not be correct, instead of relying upon the enumeration which, according to the spirit of the Constitution, we ought to make. Section 24 of the Constitution is undoubtedly very loosely drafted. Under it we could, if we so chose, abolish the quota system. That system was simply an experiment. It was **Mr. Justice** O'Connor who was responsible for the suggestion. He pressed it on the Convention, and pointed out that under the words. " until the Parliament otherwise provides," if it were found that the .quota system did not work well, it could be abolished. Hence, after declaring that the basis of representation should be the population, we made provision for varying the method of ascertaining the number of members that should represent each State. We provided that each State should have representation on the basis of its population, but how were we to ascertain when that representation was to be varied? It was because of this difficulty that it was provided that the Parliament might abolish the quota system, and that, further, we might declare that the statistics to be relied upon should not be the latest statistics of the Commonwealth. At present the prescription is that the latest statistics of the Commonwealth must be taken. There is nothing, however, to prevent us from declaring that those adopted for this purpose shall not be the latest. We might declare that the earlier statistics-' of the 'Commonwealth were those which truly defined the basis of representation. That would be an absurd position to take up, but it would be open to us under the section as it stands. I therefore consider that, although it would be better, if we could afford it, to take a particular enumeration of the people for the purposes of the first distribution, it will be quite competent for us to declare that the statistics already collected by the States are sufficient for the purpose. **Mr. GROOM** (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and several other honorable members desire to challenge the principle as to the taking of an enumeration during the period intervening between the census which is prescribed in the Bill. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- The Prime Minister promised that the division on this clause should be taken as a test. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- It is to be taken as a test as to the principle of departing from the census. That is the only issue. **Mr. HIGGINS** (Northern Melbourne). - I had a conversation with the Prime Minister, who was good enough to say that the most convenient method to decide the question whether the Committee regarded the estimates of the Statisticians as being the " latest statistics " within the meaning of the Constitution would be by dividing on clause 2. I admit that if the clause were struck out it would be inconvenient so far as the machinery of the Bill is concerned, but it is obvious that it will be carried. There are several honorable members, however, who wish to show emphatically that they disapprove of the Government proposal, and it is our desire that the division upon clause 2 should be taken as a test. {: #subdebate-4-0-s19 .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE:
New England -- Am I to understand that the object of dividing on this clause is to settle the question whether we are to have a redistribution of seats only once in ten years? {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr Kennedy: -- No. {: .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE: -- At present the census is taken every ten years, and the point that I wish to ascertain is, whether the rejection of this clause would render it impossible to have an intermediate enumeration, so as to enable a redistribution of seats to take place every five years? It appears to me that the object which the honorable . and . learned member for Northern Melbourne has in view is to bring about a re-adjustment only once in ten years. I am opposed to that proposal, and will vote against any amendment of the Bill in that direction. It seems to me that the Constitution should be strictly adhered to. and that every State should receive its true measure of representation, according to the latest statistics. We have a shifting population, and we should be careful to see that each State, as its population increases, or decreases, has its proper representation in this House. We certainly ought not to seek to prevent that by determining that there shall be only a decennial redistribution. If any change of population can be approximately ascertained every five years, as proposed by this Bill, there ought certainly to be a quinquennial redistribution. In my opinion the intention of the Constitution is that the people of the several States shall have their proper representation in this House, and that any movement of population shall be taken into account. I shall therefore oppose the amendment. {: #subdebate-4-0-s20 .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr SKENE:
Grampians -- I should like to know whether the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne proposes that the first enumeration shall be by way of a census, or that there shall not be a redistribution of seats before the next decennial census is taken? **Mr. HIGGINS** (Northern Melbourne). - The position may be briefly stated. If there be a redistribution under present conditions it must be onthe basis of the census of 1901, inasmuch as no statistics have been collected since then. If, however, a census were taken, say, in 1906, the redistribution which followed would be upon the basis of that census. {: .speaker-KRQ} ##### Mr Skene: -- Would that be in accordance with the Constitution? {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr HIGGINS: -- So far as I can see it would. {: #subdebate-4-0-s21 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The proposal means either that a redistribution of seats shall not take place until1911, or that a census shall be taken in 1906, at a cost of about£120,000 to the Commonwealth, in order to ascertain what we practically know already. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- It is a question, not of expediency, but of constitutional right. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have listened to the legal arguments, but have not gathered from them what is really the constitutional principle involved. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- We could hardly expect the honorable member to oppose his own Bill. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- This is not my own Bill. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- But it embodies the honorable member's scheme. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I may reply to the honorable member by saying he takes up his position now because it is that which he assumed in public some months ago. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I was not then a responsible Minister. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I hope that the honorable and learned member would not have expressed a different opinion had he been in office; but that he recognised his full responsibility as a member of this Parliament for the course which he then advocated. Another of his proposals is to act upon the census of 1901. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- On that alone? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The proposal that we should effect a re-adjustment by reverting to the census of 1901 is an extraordinary one. There has been no redistribution since the passing of a very important measure by which the number of persons exercising the Commonwealth' franchise was increased by 100 per cent., and it is surely time, therefore, that one took place. In making the redistribution we ought to ascertain what should be the representation of each State, so that we may start with a basis of State equality, and also endeavour to establish by it the basis of electoral equality. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- That may be very expedient, but what of it? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable member says that it is not constitutional, but other members of the legal profession, who- are quite as capable of expressing an opinion on the subject, differ entirely from him. I do not accept his interpretation of the Constitution. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- *L* do not ask the honorable member to accept it. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- In the opinion of myself and others more capable than I am of determining the legal aspect of the question, the honorable and learned member has not shown that it would be unconstitutional to adopt the course objected to by him. The honorable and learned member has not convinced me. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I have, not tried to. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I mav have to admit that I am very dense, but I understood the honorable and learned member to argue that it is unconstitutional to take anything but a census. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- I did not say so. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- He said an actual count. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- What is an actual count but a census? The honorable and learned member for Corinella spoke bv way of illustration of tallying the persons leaving or entering a room. Would the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne accept such a tally in connexion with a count of the people as a census? To go back to the census of 1901 would be to abandon the whole position, by. going back five years to make an adjustment meant to meet our present conditions, whereas, if Ave wait for the census of 1911, we shall have to continue to take no recognition of the passing of the Women's Franchise Act, and either not redistribute, or, if we redistribute, take no notice of the relative representation of the States. The other proposal is to take a census in 1906. I have already pointed out the enormous expense that that would entail. We should spend £120,000 to arrive at figures which' would almost beyond question be practically the same as those which we at present pos sess - a course which I do not think the people of Australia would like to see taken. {: #subdebate-4-0-s22 .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS:
Dalley -- The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne apparently wants to go back to the census of 1901, so that Victoria may continue to have a representation pf twentythree members, to which she is not entitled. You, **Mr. Chairman,** have to-night witnessed a great display of legal gymnastics, in the endeavour of honorable gentlemen to prove that statistics are npt statistics, and similar difficult propositions. With regard to the proposal to take a census next year, I indorse what the honorable member for North Svdney has said about the expense, but I would further point out that if it were taken in December, Parliament would then have expired by effluxion of time, and on the results being presented after the general election, it would be contended by the honorable member for Northern Melbourne and others that we could not agree to a redistribution of seats then, because if we did so we should have to hold another general election on the new basis, and the Commonwealth could not afford the expense. The position would be pretty much the same if the census were taken in June next. We know that in connexion with the taking of a State census it is generally four or five months before the returns have all been got in, made up, and checked, and we could not expect to learn the result of the Commonwealth census until the end of the year. The proposal that we shall wait for the census of 191 1. makes it evident, that the honorable member for Northern Melbourne is not actuated by the Federal, spirit in this matter. The Minister of Home Affairs is one of the representatives of Queensland, and he, no doubt, recognises that what applies to New South Wales today will probably apply to Queensland two or three years hence, and is showing a good deal of sagacity in pushing the Bill through. As the right honorable member for Swan has pointed out, if the Committee agreed to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, the Bill would practically have to be dropped, and the redistribution of seats postponed. There will always be difficulties in the way of the redistribution of seats so long as the matter is left to Parliament to deal with. Technical and legal objections, such as those which have been put forward by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, will always be raised. Each time we come to consider the question, a fresh hurdle is erected, and the House baulks at it as a matter of course. I may be accused of being actuated only by a desire to further the interests of my own constituents, but I would point out that New South Wales has a population which demands this larger representation. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was forced to use very weak arguments in objecting to the proposal that the figures of the States Statisticians shall be accepted. He appeared to think that persons might cross the border-line between New South Wales and Victoria in vehicles, and thus escape the lynx-eyed Customs officials. He might as well object that no provision is made for counting those who may come over in balloons. In all matters affecting finance and trade, the figures of the States Statisticians are willingly accepted without cavil. It is only in this matter that they are objected to. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- And then by the representatives of one State only. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- Yes. The State of Western Australia has at present a representation of five members by virtue of a. special concession made by the Constitution, but the time is arriving when she will be entitled to five, and perhaps more members, on a population basis. When that time arrives, the difficulties of re-adjustment will be accentuated. I trust that the Committee will not listen to the un-Federal arguments of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. As he has not thought it worth his while to move an amendment, he must be regarded as merely desirous of erecting a placard for the advertisement of a certain State, and certainly lays himself open to the charge of wasting time. Seeing that the. greatest relative loser of population among the States is Tasmania, the honorable member for Bass, and the other representatives of that State, should be the first to assist the members from other States in securing just representation, and I trust that he will not vote against the clause. Question - that the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 40 NOES: 8 Majority ... ... 32 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to. Clause 3 - >The day on which any census of the people of the Commonwealth is taken shall be an Enumeration Day within the meaning of this Act. > >The Chief Electoral Officer shall appoint other Enumeration Days as follows : - > >The first Enumeration Day shall be appointed as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act; > >Thereafter an Enumeration Day shall be appointed at the expiration of every fifth year after the taking of the then last preceding census. **Mr. CROUCH** (Corio). - Many honorable members who voted in favour of the preceding clause will, I am sure, be averse to the adoption of a system that will entail a redistribution of the whole of the electorate's of the Commonwealth every five years. Any such arrangement would be attended with the greatest inconvenience. Although we may agree as to the necessity for some statutory provision relating to the statistics which are to be adopted as the basis for determining the representation of the various States, it should not be necessary to disturb the whole of the electoral divisions every five years. It is already difficult enough for the electors to accustom themselves to the electoral boundaries, and if changes are made in the manner contemplated, some honorable members will be called upon to devote their attention to an entirely new set of electors every few years. The "United States Act makes provision for a redistribution after each decennial census, and a similar provision is" contained in the Canadian Statute. >That the word " an," line 2, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu, thereof the word "the." Subsequently, I shall move that sub-clause 2 foe omitted. {: #debate-4-s0 .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE:
New England -- I understand that the honorable and learned member for Corio imagines that the word- ing of this clause renders it imperative that there shall be a redistribution of seats every, five years. I do not agree with him. *1* take it that the meaning of the sub-clause is that the five-year period will be calculated from the taking of the next census. Under the Bill, an enumeration will be made five years after the next census is taken. Hence the objection of the honorable and learned member falls entirely to the ground. {: #debate-4-s1 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas -- I do not think that the honorable and learned member for Corio should attempt to accomplish his object by the amendment which he has submitted. We ought to have some means of immediately ascertaining the population of the Commonwealth. I would suggest that he should amend paragraph *b* by omitting the word " fifth," line n, with a view to insert the word1 " tenth " in lieu thereof. Then the first enumeration would take place as soon as was convenient after the passing of the Act, and subsequent enumerations at the expiration of every tenth year after the taking of the last preceding census. At the present time, it rests with the Government to determine when the census shall be taken. I understand that they suggest' that it should be taken every ten years. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- The provision has been left in its present form to enable us to cooperate with the States. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- If we provide for an enumeration every ten years we ought to see that a census is taken every ten years, and not leave it to an Executive act. We can make the enumeration fall upon the census day, after the first enumeration has taken place. By so doing, we should certainly comply with the spirit of the Constitution, which is that there ought to be a particular enumeration for Commonwealth purposes, and that we ought not to deal with this matter upon mere estimates. Otherwise we shall have to trust to the accuracy of the States statistics, and it was never contemplated that those statistics should be used for the purposes of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- Does the honorable and learned member think that it is possible that the States would present inaccurate statistics for the purpose of getting a larger representation ? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- All things are possible. I do not think that, what I have suggested is likely to happen, but still all these things must be contemplated. The framers of our Constitution did not think it wise to leave to the States matters of this sort, in which self-interest may be very strong. If the honorable and learned member for Corio will withdraw his amendment so as not to prevent a special enumeration being made, subject to the allowances prescribed in the schedule for the 'first . redistribution, I shall support him. {: #debate-4-s2 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert -- It seems to me that there is a good deal of makebelieve in- regard to this Bill. So far I have been unable to ascertain when the measure will commence to operate. The Minister of Home Affairs made some remarks about an enumeration taking place in 1906 - that is, five years from the time of the compilation of the last census in 1901. If an enumeration be made in 1906, and a redistribution of seats has to follow, what will be the result? Past experience teaches that we shall not be able to get a redistribution scheme prepared and passed by this House in time for the election which will take place at the end of next year. Consequently I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the redistribution scheme framed by the various officers of the States within the past few months, or whether we are to have an entirely fresh redistribution. {: #debate-4-s3 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Minister of Home Affairs · Darling Downs · Protectionist -- I can assure the honorable member for Herbert that this Bill is not intended to be a sham, but a serious piece of legislation to be acted upon. It distinctly provides that immediately after the passing of the Act an enumeration day shall be fixed. The Ministry hope that the Bill will be passed by ' this Parliament very soon. If the measure becomes law this month, an enumeration day will bet- appointed in October. Upon that enumeration clay being fixed the Chief Electoral Officer will ascertain from the Statisticians the population of the respective States. According to past experience, it takes two or three months to obtain that information. When it has been furnished, a certificate will be issued, and the Government will then order a redistribution of seats. They will appoint the same officers to make the redistribution, so as to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, and in order that their reports may be laid on the table of the House at the earliest possible date. Parliament will then be able to adopt them, so as to bring the redistribution scheme into operation for the next general election. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- There will be no time to do that. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I can assure the honorable member that, administratively, I have had the matter worked out by the officers of the Department. There will be ample time to have the whole scheme brought into operation, so that the next general election may take place in accordance with the provisions of this Bill, and so that the quotas will comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act itself. That is the intention of the Government, and that is why we are endeavouring to get this measure passed at the earliest possible moment. The honorable and learned member for Corio has expressed a fear that because we have made provision for an enumeration every fifth year, there will of necessity be a redistribution of seats in all the States every five years. That is not so. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- But there must be a count of all the people every five years. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- There must be a count every five years in order to ascertain what are the rights of the States. For example, if a count were taken in the year 1916, five years after that of 191 1, Western Australia - if she continues to progress as she has been doing - would probably be entitled to an additional representative. The honorable and learned member for Corio need entertain no fear that there will be a redistribution of seats every five years. It will only be necessary to redistribute seats in the particular States which happen to be affected. Let us suppose that Victoria's proportion is not affected ; in that case there will not necessarily be a redistribution in Victoria. If Western Australia or Queensland were entitled to an additional member there would ' of necessity have to be a redistribution, or if a representative were taken away from a State a redistribution would also be necessary. These are the points raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio, and I ask him not to press his amendment, inasmuch as in substance the question was decided on a previous division. **Mr. CROUCH** (Corio).- The honorable and learned member for Angas, who said that we should not deal with mere estimates, has supported my contention in a way that I did not anticipate. I would point out that there is another reason in addition to that which I have mentioned to him why I do not wish to accept the amendment which he suggested, and that is that in my opinion " enumeration day " and " census day " should be synonymous terms. The question of the constitutionality of the Government proposal has been dealt with, but we have yet to say whether it is wise for us to act upon mere estimates of the population in determining the measure of representation which each State should enjoy in this House. I have before me a statement made by **Senator Styles** that - >I was talking only the other day to **Mr. McLean,** the Victorian Statistician, who said that although he had supplied statistics, they were not sufficiently reliable for the representation of any State to be altered upon their basis. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- **Mr. McLean,** in an official letter to the late Treasurer in March last, said that no allowance for error could entitle Victoria to twenty-three members. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- The statement in question was made by **Senator Styles** as recently as the 7th Julylast. I hold that if any reduction is to be made in the representation of a State in this House, it should be based upon thoroughly reliable statistics, and not upon mere estimates of population. To make a redistribution on the estimates of the Statisticians would be to depart entirely from the course proposed some, time ago by certain very prominent members of the House. **Senator Styles** went on to say on the occasion in question that " **Mr. Coghlan** also thinks it is a good and sound principle," that no alteration should be made until a census has taken place. The representation of the States in this Chamber was originally determined, not upon the census, but upon the estimates of the Statisticians, and when nine months later the census returns were published it was found that the population of New South Wales was 2,000 below the estimate, while that of Victoria was from 36,000 to 38,000 in excess of the figures supplied by the' Statisticians. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The census figures left the representation just as before. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- If the honorable member refers to *Coghlan* he will find that my statement is correct. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have the figures. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- There can be no doubt that the census of1901 showed that the esti mates made nine months before by the Statisticians were grievously wrong. In view of this fact, and the fact that the Government Statisticians of New South Wales and Victoria have said that they prefer to work on the census rather than on mere estimates, it will be a huge farce for the Committee to pass the Bill as introduced. It would be unfair to reduce the representation of any State on the mere estimates of Statisticians. Even if it was the fault of the Government of the day that action was not taken to alter the representation of New South Wales immediately upon the publication of the census returns for 1901, that is no reason why any honorable member should have his constituency wiped out on estimates that have proved to be inaccurate. We should have reliable information instead of mere misleading estimates to work upon. The Minister has said that the Government do not desire to expend £120,000 on taking a census for this purpose. It is not my wish that that expenditure should be incurred. I should be better pleased if the redistribution were allowed to remain in abeyance until the next decennial census were taken, but I feel that it would be better to have a census taken in 1906 - and in that way to secure reliable information - than it would be to make a redistribution of seats on estimates that are not to be relied upon. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 4 - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The numbers of the people shall be ascertained as on Enumeration Day in accordance with the following provisions : - * . . . (b)* In the case of an Enumeration Day not being acensus day, allowances shall then be made. . . . {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Until the census is taken pursuant to any. law of the Commonwealth, the census taken pursuant to the law of any State shall, as regards that State, be the census for the purposes of this Act. **Mr. CULPIN** (Brisbane) I move- >That the word " allowances," line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " calculations." {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- I think that " guess " would be the proper word to use. {: #debate-4-s4 .speaker-K87} ##### Mr CULPIN: -- It is essentially a matter in which calculations should be made, and I trust that the Committee will agree to the amendment. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-4-s5 .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie -- The point upon which I wish to lay stress is that an expenditure of £120,000 every five years: in ascertaining the number of the population would be altogether unwarranted. We ought to know from the Minister whether this enumeration practically means tEe taking of a census every five .years. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- It ought to mean 'that, but it does not mean it in the Bill. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- I put aside all technical and legal complications, and wish to get down to the simple method to be pursued in making this enumeration. What I desire to know is what it will cost; I do not. care whether it be called a census or an enumeration. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- What did the last enumeration cost? {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- I understand that the last enumeration was the last census. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- No. The last Government took an enumeration. {: #debate-4-s6 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Minister of Home Affairs · Darling Downs · Protectionist -- The census costs about £120,000 for collection and compilation; but the ascertainment of the population in the manner here prescribed has not hitherto cost the Commonwealth anything, the information being furnished by the States gratuitously. **Mr. RONALD** (Southern Melbourne).I object to the proposed enumeration. It is not only a clumsy and slipshod way of ascertaining the number of the population, but, as the Minister has shown, also a cheap and nasty way. The census is a semi-scientific method of getting at the truth, and provides the only reliable data that we can go on. Both an enumeration and a census will be unnecessary. It seems to me that it will be sufficient to take a census every ten years, and I enter my protest, not only against the taking of a quinquennial census, but also against the taking of an enumeration, which is merely a vague guessing., whereby it is impossible to do justice. Amendment (by **Mr. Groom)** proposed - >That after the word " taken," line 8, the words " after the commencement of this Act " be inserted. {: #debate-4-s7 .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH:
Corio -- I wish to inform the honorable member for North Sydney, who has the support of the honorable and learned member for .Corinella, who said that he had a letter from the Government Statist of Victoria, in which it was stated that there was no difference of any sort between **Mr. Coghlan'** s estimate- {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- I did not say anything of the kind. I said that there was a letter from the Victorian Government Statist - if the honorable and learned member will allow me to explain? {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- I do not know that I will just now. My recollection of what the honorable and learned member said isthat he had a letter from the Government Statist "of Victoria, in which it was stated' that there was no difference between the* census returns and the estimate upon which the representation of this House wasframed. Will the honorable and" learned member withdraw that statement? {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- I will not withdraw what I did not say. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- When I was speaking: the honorable member for North Sydney left the Chamber, and was going to get Coghlan's book. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- No, I was not.. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- The honorable member was going to show that the figures on. which the representation of this Housewas first based were similar to the returnsof the census of 1901. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I did not say anything of the sort. I said that therepresentation was not affected by the difference. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- I will show the Committee what the difference was. Coghlan, at page 250 of his issue of the *SevenColonies* for 1899-1900, estimates the population of New South Wales at 1,356,650, and the population of Victoria at 1,1 63,400 - a difference in favour of New South. Wales of 193,250. In the issue for 1901-2, however, at page 531, Coghlan states theresult of the census of 1901 as New South. Wales 1,354,846, and Victoria 1,201,070 - a difference of 153,776 in favour of New South Wales, so that in two years New South Wales had lost 1,804 people, whileVictoria had gained 37,670. **Mr. Coghlan** on a later page acknowledges that he had made a mistake. For us to base the representation of the Commonwealth on such estimates is unfair to all the States, and the Bill itself recognises that the figuresfurnished by the Statisticians are inaccurate, because it provides for the adding of 9 per cent., 12 per cent., and so on. In December, 1903, there were 612,472- names on the Victorian electoral rolls*; but a statement of the results of a recent canvass, published by: the Department of Home Affairs while the honorable member for North Sydney was Minister, showed' an increase ira the number of Victorian voters of 5,542. In December, 1903, the number of names on the New South Wales-- soils was 687,049, and the same statement showed the real number of electors *to* be 669,500 - a decrease of i7,549- Yet almost immediately afterwards the ReidMcLean Government were ready to proclaim certain figures, which would have caused Victoria to lose a member. At the time when, according to the Statisticians, New South Wales was gaining population, that State really lost nearly 2,000 persons, while Victoria gained 37,670; yet the ReidMcLean Administration proposed to make a proclamation as to the respective numbers of the States without coming to this House at all. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- We should have had to come to Parliament. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- They wanted to do it "by Executive act, and not by a Bill. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- To do what by Executive act? {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- To proclaim the statistics of the population of the two States without coming to Parliament. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCay: -- We should have had to come to Parliament with any proposed redistribution. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- I did not say that they would not. What I said was that the dispute about the figures was going to be settled by them by proclamation and an Executive act, instead of the matter being brought before Parliament. At the time that the Reid-McLean Administration were ready to do this, the adult electors of Victoria, male and female, had increased by 5,542, while those of New South Wales had decreased by 17,549. I did not wish to refer to this matter, but the statements of honorable members have made it necessary for me to support with" details my original assertions. It would be very dangerous indeed to rely on the estimates of the Statisticians. Personally I have sufficient confidence in the people of the other States to be prepared to trust Victoria to their government, but as the Constitution provides for the representation of the [States, I shall not permit this State to be deprived of its fair representation by any system based on what is proved to be stupid guesswork. With regard to the proposal to redistribute the constituencies every five years, it seems to me that it will cause great inconvenience. In one instance it is proposed to make up a constituency of parts of four of the present constituencies. I think that it is unfair that the constituencies should be cut up every five years. Instead of preserving community of interests, such as the Electoral Act contemplated, we shall throw the constituencies into a state of confusion at very short intervals, and" I believe that honorable members will have cause to regret the course they have adopted to-night. {: #debate-4-s8 .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY:
Corinella -- I desire to correct a misapprehension under which the honorable and learned member for Corio appears to be labouring with regard to an interjection I made whilst he was speaking. I interjected that the Government Statistician of Victoria stated, in writing, hi March of this year, to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, in reference to the estimates published on the 31st December, 1904, "I do not think that any error which may have occurred will entitle Victoria to twentythree members." {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- We shall see what *Hansard* records as having been stated by the honorable and learned member. {: .speaker-KPM} ##### Mr McCAY: -- I do not care what the honorable and learned member thinks, but I wish to make matters quite plain to the members of the Committee. **Mr. MAHON** (Coolgardie).- I see that in schedule A, provision is made for certain percentages of allowance for unrecorded arrivals and departures by sea and land. It is stated that - >In the case of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia, 10 per centum' shall be added to the numbers of people arriving and departing as shown by the information received from the Railway Departments, to allow for unrecorded arrivals and departures by rail and road. I should like to know how that allowance of 10 per cent, has been' arrived at. Then I notice that ki paragraph 5 certain percentages are to be added to the numbers of persons departing by sea to allow for unrecorded departures. In New South Wales and Victoria 9 per cent., in Queensland 10 per cent., in South Australia 7 per cent., in Western Australia 5 per cent, and in Tasmania 12*5 per cent, is to be allowed. It appears to me that the variation in the percentages requires some explanation. The figures for Tasmania are so very exact that I presume they must have been based upon reliable information. At the same time, it occurs to me that a larger percentage might very well be allowed in the case of Western Australia, because, although the principal traffic passes through three or four ports, a considerable number of persons arrive and depart from the north-western ports of that State. For instance, a large number of pearlers come and go from Broome, on the north-western coast, and depart thence, but I presume that the majority of those would be coloured aliens, who would not be included in the count for the purpose of determining the representation of the State. Still there are many others who arrive at or depart from Wyndham, Broome, Derby, and other places. Moreover, a number of persons use Esperance as a point of arrival and departure. I should like to have some explanation from the Minister. {: #debate-4-s9 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas -- I am not quite sure that I understand the full effect . of the amendment proposed by the Minister. It appears to me that if the words "after the commencement of this Act" are inserted after the word "taken," as he proposes, they will have the effect of postponing the second enumeration day until five years after the next census is taken. That would be five years after 191 1. Under clause 3 I understand that there is to be an enumeration every census day, and that there is to be a special enumeration day midway between the census days. All I desire to know is whether it is the intention of the Minister to fix the second enumeration day five years after the next census is taken. **Mr. GROOM** (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - With respect to the question asked by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I may explain that the percentages were supplied by the States Statisticians, who met in conference. After deliberation and consultation, and after the revision of all their figures for the three years following the census taken in 1901, they worked out the percentages embodied in the Bill. They regarded 10 per cent, as a fair allowance to make for unrecorded arrivals and departures by land. So far as arrivals and departures by sea are concerned, the Statisticians worked out the records of the departments, and then made a comparison with the census statements with a view to arrive at an absolutely reliable percentage. Western Australia is to a certain extent like an island, and the returns of population generally can, therefore, be compiled with a fair degree of accuracy. The same remarks apply to Tasmania, and it is only in the eastern States that any difficulty arises. With regard to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Angas, I would point out that clause 3 provides that the day on which any census of the people of the Commonwealth is taken shall be an enumeration day. That is a fixed day. The intention* of the clause is to enable us to fix an enumeration day as early as possible after the passing of the Bill. The next enumeration day would be a census day, and after that, assuming that a decennial census istaken regularly, we should at alternating periods have census and enumeration days, which are not census days. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- I know that that is what is intended ; but I am afraid that theamendment proposed -by the Minister will not have the desired effect. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I shall consult the Parliamentary Draftsman, and take care that the intention is clearly expressed. {: #debate-4-s10 .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX:
Kooyong -- Although theCommittee has decided by an overwhelming majority to accept the enumeration days as. involving a possible readjustment of the representation of the States, I still adhere to the belief that it would have been far better to fix census periods for effecting a change of representation. Under existing circumstances, I feel that we must agree' to an enumeration being, made every fifth year, and to the censusreturns being collected every tenth year. In order that the information thus derived may be as accurate as possible, it seemsto me that a special arrangement will require to be made with the States under which the enumeration shall be conducted upon definite lines. It should be specifically set out in the Bill that no changeshall be made in the boundaries of electorates unless there is a sufficient alteration in the number of voters to justify a change in the representation of the various States. My object is to avoid expense. If we makethese changes every ten years, in my judgment, we shall accomplish all that is necessary. Although I voted in favour of obtaining accurate information, I cannot persist in objections to the recommendations of* the Government. {: #debate-4-s11 .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE:
New England -- Thehonorable and learned member for Coriospoke of the reduction in the population? of New South Wales, with a view to showing that no enumeration should be madeapart from the actual taking of the census. But I' would point out to him that the reduction in the voting strength of the electorates there is due to the fact that it isvery much more difficult to collect statisticsin New South Wales than it is in Victoria. In the latter State the population is verymuch denser. The people in New South Wales are scattered over a much larger area,. and consequently it is more 'difficult to secure an accurate enumeration there. Concerning the question of the percentages to be added to the numbers of persons departing by sea, to allow for unrecorded departures by sea, I take it that the State Statisticians, in conference assembled, found that they had not previously made a fair allowance, and consequently agreed to the percentages which have been embodied in this Bill. In so acting their object was to get as accurate an enumeration as possible. In the case of Western Australia, it seems to me that the allowance of 5 per cent. is rather an advantage than otherwise to that State. I think it is proper that we should make an enumeration of the population, especially if the work can be undertaken without incurring any very great expenditure. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 5 agreed to. Clause 6 - (Certificate of Chief Electoral Officer). {: #debate-4-s12 .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE:
New England -- I presume that the regulations mentioned in this provision will be laid upon the table of the House? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE: -- The adoption of that course will involve delay. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- No; not in bringing the Act into operation. I can give the honorable member my assurance on that point. Clause, agreed to. Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to. Clause 10 - >When in pursuance of a certificate under this Act an alteration takes place in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in any State the alteration shall not take effect- > >at any election held before the State has been redistributed into electoral divisions pursuant to the certificate; nor > >at any election to fill a vacancy in a House of Representatives elected before such redistribution. **Mr. GLYNN** (Angas). - I am somewhat doubtful as towhether we have power to pass this clause. It provides that after we have ascertained what the number of members ought to be for each State, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, we shall not put the law into force. In other words, when we have determined the number of members to which each State is entitled, we need not apply this Act to any by-election which takes place immediately afterwards, or any election which has not been preceded by a Redistribution of Seats Act. I quite recognise the difficulty in which the Ministry find themselves, but it seems to me that they are endeavouring to overcome it by adopting an unconstitutional method. {: #debate-4-s13 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Minister of Home Affairs · Darling Downs · Protectionist -- The section is intended to meet two contingencies. The honorable member must see that it may happen that an enumeration is ordered practically within two or three days of the time for a dissolution of Parliament. That' being so, it would be utterly impossible by any conceivable electoral machinery to give effect to the alteration. Take the case of a dissolution which may occur during the currency of a Parliament before it is possible to redistribute the electorates so as to enable the elections to be held on the redistributed basis. Again, in the event of a vacancy arising after an alteration of members and before a dissolution, we could not redistribute the whole of the electorates which arerepresented by members who constitute an existing House. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- But the Constitution provides that we must do that. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- An alteration can only be effected in the manner provided by the Bill. I submit that it is for Parliament to determine whenever it is necessary to change the proportion. In this Bill we are laying down a definite course of procedure, so that we may know exactly how we are to act. {: #debate-4-s14 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I think that this clause requires to be amended if the Bill is to fulfil the intention of the Minister. He has declared that it is desirable that the decision as to when an adjustment of representation shall take place should be taken out of the hands of the Government, and placed by Act of Parliament beyond question. Whilst I see that the Bill contains provision for the method) by which an enumeration of the population shall be made, and for the time of making such an enumeration, it seems to me that no provision is made to insure a re-adjustment of representation, apart altogether from the will of the Ministrv. That is to say, all these steps may be taken, but nothing may ensue. Consequently, I move - >That the following words be added to paragraph (b)- "but shall jtake effect at the first general election after such redistribution." I do not think that such an amendment would operate in any way against the intention of the Bill, lt would make it absolutely clear that me readjustment is not to be left to the will of the Minister ; but that after certain steps have been taken under the provisions of this measure, a final step is to follow. **Mr. GROOM** (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - The Government are prepared to accept the principle of the amendment, and if it be necessary to put it in technical form, it will be open to us to have the provision re-drafted. {: #debate-4-s15 .speaker-KIC} ##### Mr LONSDALE:
New England -- Presuming that an enumeration shows that a redistribution of seats should at once take place, I think that the necessary Bill -should be immediately brought in, so that the redistribution may apply to the next general election. I should like to know whether that is the intention. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- I promise the honorable member that I will look into the whole question. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause ii (Power to make regulations). **Mr. GLYNN** (Angas). - I have a technical objection to offer to the clause. I think that in the Acts Interpretation Amendment Act, we provide that regulations that have to be laid before Parliament, may be disapproved of by resolution of which notice has been given within the period named, and I fail to see why we should not follow the terminology of that Act in the present case. It is provided in this clause that - >A regulation . . . shall not have any force until it has been laid before both Houses of the Parliament for thirty days, or, if within that time a resolution has been proposed in either House of the Parliament to disapprove of the regulation, until the motion for the resolution has been disposed of. An honorable member might, within the thirty days, give notice of a motion to disapprove of the regulation, but it might be impossible to deal with it for at least -two months. Regulations might be laid on the table in the middle of a session, when the notice-paper was loaded with private members' business, and although a notice of motion -was given within the time specified, it might be impossible to discuss it for another two months. I shall not move an amendment, but make the suggestion to the Government that we should adhere to the principle laid down in the Acts Interpretation Act. **Mr. GROOM** (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The object of framing the clause as it stands was to insure that Parliament should have completecontrol over the bases of the enumeration. Under the Rules Publication Act the rules, in specific cases, I think, take effect provisionally. I shall, however, look intothe drafting of the clause, and if necessary, bring it into line with the Acts Interpretation Act. Clause agreed to. Schedules agreed to. Bill reported with amendments. {: .page-start } page 2242 {:#debate-5} ### WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY BILL *In Committee* - (Consideration resumed" from 23rd August, *vide* page 1386). Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to. Clause 4 (Exclusive privileges of PostmasterGeneral). **Mr. JOSEPH** COOK (Parramatta).I should like to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will consider a very much better way of arriving at the object sought to be achieved by this clause. If he hasread the *Age* of to-day he will know that a man in Victoria - an ordinary laundryman - is able to obtain messages from other partsof the world in an instant of time. I suggest that it would be to the advantage of Australia, as a whole, if the Government could enlist his services. The Minister should look into the matter, and should particularly consult the Prime Minister in reference to it. {: #debate-5-s0 .speaker-KTT} ##### Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should like to ask the Postmaster-Genera! whether this is an attempt to monopolize all possible utilization of wirelesstelegraphy ? Has the honorable gentleman made any arrangement with the patentees in regard to its use, or is this simply an appropriation of all patents for 'use by the State in Australia, without any attempt at arriving at an arrangement with the owners ? {: #debate-5-s1 .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Monaro - Postmaster-General · Eden · Protectionist -- The Bill is simply designed to give the PostmasterGeneral all the powers that he should properly exercise in regard to wireless telegraphy. No arrangement has been made with any particular patentee. {: .speaker-KTT} ##### Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- This is simply a Bill to appropriate the patent? {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: -- Not to appropriate it. {: .speaker-KJI} ##### Mr Isaacs: -- It is designed to enable the Commonwealth, not to appropriate the invention, but to control it. {: .speaker-KTT} ##### Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- That is all I wished to know. Clause agreed to. Clauses 5to 10 agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time: {: .page-start } page 2243 {:#debate-6} ### ADJOURNMENT {: #debate-6-s0 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist -- In moving That the House do now adjourn, I desire to intimate that we shall proceed to-morrow with the consideration of the Commerce Bill, and I hope that our deliberations will be marked by the same spirit of industry and application that has characterized our efforts to-night. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.30p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 September 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050913_reps_2_26/>.