2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took- the chair at’ 2.30 p.m.., and read prayers.
SWEATING IN CONTRACT POSTOFFICES.
Mr. MAUGER.- I desire to ask the Postmaster-General’ whether, in view of the revelations which have taken place as to the terrible sweating that is going on in contract post-offices, it having been stated amongst other things that married men are being paid as little as£1 per week, he will refrain from letting any further contracts’ until arrangements are made for the payment of a minimum wage and the consequent protection of employes in such offices?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - Inquiries are being made into the matter. I can assure the honorable member that the Department do not propose to allow sweating, and that immediate steps will be taken to put a stop to anything of that kind.
– I should like to know if the Minister representing the Minister of Defence is in possession of the information which, at my request, he promised to obtain with regard to the payment of partiallypaid forces for Sunday work.
– I made inquiries, but at present I am not in a position to afford the honorable member a satisfactory reply. I hope to be able to do so next week.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that Victoria contributes one-third of the Naval subsidy, he will endeavour to induce the Naval authorities to permit the vessels belonging to the Australian Squadron to stay in Port Phillip - and other ports, such as Brisbane and Adelaide - for a portion of the year.
– I am not officially familiar with the facts, but my impression is that the Squadron visits all the capitals in Australia once in each year.
– The vessels always visit Melbourne about Cup time.
– Some of the vessels are now in Hobson’s Bay, and yet we are still some distance off the racing festival. I shall endeavour to ascertain what the practice is.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he is not aware that serious inconvenience and confusion exists in consequence of the great delay in passing the Papua Bill. He will doubtless remember that at the end of last session only one topic - a specially vexed one, I admit - required to be considered, and I strongly suggest that some steps should be taken to complete the consideration of the measure without further delay.
– I thoroughly agree with the right honorable gentleman, and have been watching anxiously, from the first day of the session, for an opportunity to dispose of the Bill.. Unfortunately, however, the one question that has to be dealt with is of such importance, and is one upon which the House is so divided, that, in the absence of some understanding with regard to it, the measure would probably be lost. It is in the hope of saving the measure that I am endeavouring to arrive at some fair arrangement in regard to that matter.
– I hope that the Prime Minister’s efforts will be crowned with success.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether the military clerks who were in the employment of any State at the establishment of the Commonwealth are eligible for appointment to a corresponding division of the Public Service of the Commonwealth, under Section 33 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act?
– The reply of the AttorneyGeneral is as follows : -
I find it impossible to give one answer that would apply to all the cases included in the honorable member’s question. Each case will have to be considered on its own facts, but the Government will endeavour to afford every officer the fullest opportunity of obtaining the benefits intended to be given by section 33 of the Public Service Act.
– I move -
Whatever other honorable members may think with regard to the motion, I consider it one of the gravest importance,, because it will afford this House an opportunity to recede from the step which it took in 1901 in regard to the Japanese nation - a step which I then regarded, and still, regard, as a diplomatic mistake of the first order. It is a singular fact that, although this notice of motion has been on the business paper for nearly twelve months, I am afforded the first opportunity to bring it forward, upon the very day on which there appears in the daily press a detailed statement of the second alliance entered into between the mother country and Japan. I do not hesitate to say that that alliance is one of the most intimate diplomatic alliances that the mother country has made in modern times. It is in the nature of a diplomatic marriage, because each nation has paid the other the compliment of agreeing to afford mutual assistance, for better or for worse, in the event of war during the next ten years. One cannot read the second clause of that treaty without feeling 1 hal: the mother country, of which we always acknowledge the greatness, and of which’ we all feel proud, has paid the Japanese nation the most profound compliment. In order to show the far-reaching effects of this agreement, I would point out that it is provided in article 2 that - if bv reason of unprovoked attack or aggressive action, wherever arising, on the part of any other power or powers, either of the contracting parties should be involved in war for the defence of the territorial rights or interests mentioned in the preamble of the treaty, the other power shall immediately come to the assistance of her ally, conduct the war in common, and make peace in mutual agreement with her.
This intimate alliance and diplomatic marriage has been effected with a nation in whose face we have slammed the door ; and it seems to me that the motion affords us an admirable opportunity for reconsidering the step which’ we took in 1901, though we can hardly take that course to-day with the same grace that would have characterized similar action on our part in that year. The motion has, I fear, not been understood by more than a small number of honorable members. I have gleaned from conversations which I have had with many members that they were under the impression that I was seeking to induce tlie ‘House to alter the law in such a way as to permit of the introduction of Japanese into this country without reasonable limit. I wish honorable members to understand that I am attempting nothing of the kind - not that my view of the Japanese is not sufficiently liberal to incline me to do so, if I saw an opportunity of giving practical effect to my wish; but I recognise that as this Parliament is constituted the chances of inducing it to go back on the principle of restriction are hopeless at the -present time. All I am now asking is that the House shall deal with the Japanese people in the manner in which they asked us to deal with them in 1901, namely, to take them out of the category of Asiatic nations generally with whom they have been grouped, and to deal with them in the same way and in the same spirit that the mother country has adopted in regard to the much greaterquestion of a common ground of defence in war. All I ask the House to do is to pass a resolution, which will authorize the Government to take some legislative step that will recognise the great national power of the Japanese people, as well as their international claims to our consideration, at the same time taking whatever precautions are required to guard against an unlimited influx of Japanese - if there should be any fear of such a thing in the future. It is necessary that I should deal briefly with the correspondence which look place, not only between the Commonwealth and the Japanese people, but between some of the States authorities, especially those of New South Wales, and the Japanese people prior to the passing of the Act which has so much offended them in their national pride. I know that anything I can say on my own account would not receive very much consideration at the hands of many honorable members.
– Why should the honorable and learned member say that?
– I say it in no unpleasant spirit, but -I have noticed that whenever I have spoken upon questions of this kind I have been credited with taking a rather singular view ; and my opinions have not been regarded as worthy of quite as much consideration as those of many honorable members whose views seem to be of a more elastic character.
– I venture to say that no honorable member’s speeches are more entertaining, or are more generally read, than those of the honorable and learned member.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for his observation, but it does not accord with the impression which I had gleaned. I am very glad to learn that my impression was a wrong one. I have acted upon the assumption I have indicated. In my endeavours to lay before the House material which in my judgment ought to induce it to act in the manner I have suggested, I have attempted to collect data from various sources - from the press, and from members of this House whose opinions are more likely to carry weight than my own. I am very much afraid, therefore, that a large part of my speech will consist rather of the reproduction of other people’s opinions than of an expression of my own thoughts, to which I have frequently given utterance in this Chamber. I assume my hearers to possess a certain general knowledge of the history of Japan, because I contend that this is a question which involves the national pride and self-respect of a great nation ; and the extent to which that pride and self-respect are valued by that nation cannot be fully understood unless we possess some knowledge of its history. I know that until a very few years ago - until Japan loomed up as a possible opponent of Russia - a large proportion of the people of Australia were under the impression that it was a barbarous nation. - When the fleet of the Japanese arrived in Australia, I not only saw in the press, but I heard from different members of the public, exclamations of the most profound surprise that Japan should possess an organized army, a navy, and a civilized form of government. That state of ignorance has passed away, _ and the world now knows much that it did not know previously. Still it is necessary, in order to understand the national character and morale of the Japanese, to realize the extent to which they have been offended by our action as a Parliament in 1901. It is some satisfaction to me to reflect that, in that year, I stood in this House with’ very few other honorable members to vindicate the cause of the Japanese. I knew the nature of the correspondence which had passed between the representatives of Japan and at least one State Government in regard to this question ; and I understood how that representative had emphasized the importance of the Japanese being treated upon terms which would, at least, entitle them to be placed upon the ‘same footing as some of the smaller European nations. It was in consequence of my knowledge of these people, of their national power, of their self-respect, of their civilization, and of their morality, that I contended five years ago that we ought to treat them in a very different manner from that in which we have treated them in the Immigration Restriction Act..
– Did the honorable and learned member use the term “ morality “ ?
– Yes. I did not use it, perhaps, in the Sunday-school sense in which the honorable member seems to lie applying it. I am using it in a broad philosophical sense, and I say that it is a word which is peculiarly applicable to the Japanese people. I think I shall satisfy the honorable member, if he will allow me to deal with that attribute in a less restricted waK. that some of the greatest authorities in the world - authorities whose opinions he will admit are entitled to respect - have pronounced the judgment which I have just uttered in regard to them. Recently there have been two small but interesting books published, one bv the honorable member for Melbourne, entitled Japan and the East, and the other by Colonel Bell, who, for some years, filled the position of United States Consul in New South Wales. In addition to these works, an interesting brochure has been written by Senator Pulsford, entitled, The British Empire and the Relations of Asia and Australasia.
– Still another book has been published bv Mr. Cole.
– That is so. In Senator Pulsford’s book the author summarizes the history of Japan in two paragraphs, which I shall take the liberty of reading to the House. Speaking .of China and Japan, he says -
These Empires, for feneration after generation, century after century, asked nothing of the rest of the world, save to be left alone. The world - specially Great Britain - would not leave them alone, but by fire and sword won from reluctant peoples rights of trade and residence.
As history is counted, the years were but few since British guns had thundered at the portals of one Eastern country after another, and demanded that all doors be opened to the Britisher, not only for trade, but for residence. This historical fact certainly carried with it some counter obligations, even if there were no such things possible as international treaties or courtesy. Those who demand a privilege should be careful how they withdraw a similar privilege.
Colonel Bell, who is an able thinker, has put in a very succinct . way the same aspect of the question in a small work called Little Giants of the East. He says -
Japan, to the great busy world fifty years ago, was little more than a geographical expression. True, a few foreign traders knew something of its resources, - and a few more knew of it as the “home of happy, smiling, artistic heathens, who associated with their gods, worshipped their earthly despot, and painted fantastic figures on small and trifling things; but, to the many, the notions regarding Japan were of dreamy vagueness.
It was in 1853 that Commodore Perry anchored off Unaga ; and, under the persuasive influence of the American guns an official communication was received by the Japanese Government from President Philmore. The next year the first modern Japanese treaty was signed with a foreign power, and soon a flood of light poured in which startled this wonderful nation into resolute action.
Japan was not aroused from “ savagery “ in a few years ; but, having evolved splendid capabilities, with unparalleled alacrity she moved out of a dark and narrow path, into a higher, a broader, a nobler, and better sphere of thought and action - and never raw recruit handled new armour more dexterously. It was not the sudden development of an intellect; it was the application of an intellect already developed to new fields of action.
I have said that the Japanese are a proud, self-respecting, and sensitive people, and the correspondence which passed between them and the Commonwealth Government - preceded as it was by; correspondence between the then- Premier of New South Wales and the representative of Japan in that State - clearly shows that the public men of Australia had had placed before them the full effect which this legislation was likely to have upon the Japanese people. I do not hesitate to say that the urgent correspondence of a great country was never treated with scanter courtesy than was this Japanese correspondence by the public men of Australia. I have here a letter, written by the Japanese Consul to the Premier of New South Wales in 1897, from which I propose to read a short extract.
– Who was Premier of New South Wales at that time?
– I think it was the right honorable member for East Sydney. That circumstance, however, does not affect my opinion as to its. character The Japanese Consul wrote as follows: -
Sir, - As Consul for Japan, I deem it my duty to formally enter my protest against the unfriendly character of the legislation now proposed with regard to the immigration of aliens.
Permit me to say that, so” far as Japan is concerned, New South Wales has no reason to fear alien immigration. The Japanese Government does not wish to lose any of its subjects, and so far as the people themselves are concerned, they are under no necessity to emigrate - as may be judged from the fact that wages have nearly doubled within the last three years, consequent upon the marked development that has taken place in many industrial pursuits.
I may say here that, when the question was before this Parliament in 1901, I had an opportunity of looking carefully into certain figures which were laid on the table by the Barton Government, showing the number of the arrivals and departures of Japanese, Chinese, and of people of other Eastern nations, in and from Australia. I. quoted those figures then to show that during the two years immediately preceding 1 90 1, a larger number of Japanese had left Australia than had entered it. Consequently, I contended that there was 110 justification for legislation of what I then described and still consider to be, “an- hysterical character.” The statement that the Japanese were not anxious to enter Australia - however much persons who entertain racial prejudice may doubt it - is substantiated by the figures which were laid upon the table of this House by the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton. The Japanese Consul went on to say -
Although I am without instructions on the point. I do not hesitate to say that the Government of Japan will be quite prepared at any time to make an arrangement by treaty or otherwise, that will practically secure for New South Wales, so far as Japan is concerned, all that the proposed legislation can secure.
In the course of his letter, the Japanese Consul enumerated a number of developments in Japanese enterprise, and said -
In conclusion, I desire to express my most earnest hope that nothing will be allowed to occur calculated to check the development of the commercial intercourse of the two countries, and to destroy the friendly feeling that now exists in Japan towards New South Wales.
That correspondence took place in 1897. In 1899, Mr. Eitaki wrote to the Premier of New South Wales upon the same subject, and from his letter I make the following brief extract: -
My Government, I am sure, will be quite ready, at any moment, to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangement, for controlling emigration to New South Wales.; mid they do not wish it to be believed for a moment that they have any thought or wish to promote Japanese emigration to your shores, or elsewhere.
In May, 1901, the Federation had already been established ; and when it became known that legislation of the character to which objection had been taken in 1897 was likely to be submitted for the approval of this Parliament, Mr. Eitaki addressed a letter to Sir Edmund Barton, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. From that epistle I shall make two extracts which contain its gist. The writer said -
The friendship that exists between the Empires of Great Britain and Japan leads me to suppose that your Government would not, willingly, take steps, calculated to wound the feelings of the people whom it is my privilege to represent.
The Japanese belong’ to an Empire whose standard of civilization is so much higher than that of kanakas -
I ask honorable members to take particular notice of the point which was emphasized and italicized in this letter in 1901, because it forms the basis of my motion - negroes, Pacific Islanders, Indians, or other Eastern peoples, that to refer to them in the same terms cannot but be regarded in the light of n reproach, which is hardly warranted by the fact of the shade of the national complexion.
My Government recognises distinctly the right of the Government of Australia to limit in any way it thinks fit the number of those persons who may be allowed to land and settle in Australia, and also to draw distinctions between persons who may, or who may not be admitted.
As Japan is under no necessity’ to find an outlet for her population, my Government would readily consent to any arrangement, by which nil that Australia seeks, so far as the Japanese are concerned, would be at once conceded.
Might I suggest, therefore, that your Government formulate some proposal, which, being accepted by my Government, would allow of the people of Japan being excluded from the operation of any Act which, directly or indirectly, imposed a tax on immigrants on the ground of colour.
In September, 1901, the Japanese Consul again wrote -
An impression appears to exist in some. quarters, and to find voice in certain sections of the Australian press, that Australia is in danger of an influx of Japanese immigrants. I have already endeavoured to show that this impression is altogether erroneous, and in support of this position I have been requested by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Tokio to bring under your notice some clauses of the Japanese Act (passed in 1896, and amended this year, 1901) for the regulation and control of emigration and the protection of Japanese emigrants.
Under this Act it is provided that no Japanese may go abroad without first applying to the Government (in writing) for permission to do so, and his application .must be accompanied by a guarantee, signed by two or more responsible sureties, for the good conduct of the emigrant while abroad.
On receipt of such application, the Government may grant a passport, provided that it is satisfied as to the character of the applicant, the position of the sureties, and also that there is no danger of the emigrant’s presence being in any way offensive to the people of the country whither he intends to go.
I would respectfully ask you to refer to the extract from my letter to the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, dated 16th May, 1899, which I enclosed in my letter to you of the 3rd May last. The extract reads as follows : - “ My Government, I am sure, will be quite ready at any moment to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangements for controlling immigration to Australia.”
– Are these bonds given as a guarantee of the good conduct of the emigrants while abroad?
– Mr7 Eitak says so.
– If they are of” any value, the Government of Western Australia should be able to recover something under them.
-No Government is omnipotent; no Government could absolutely regulate the conduct of its people when abroad, although it might take every precaution-
– But I anr referring to recognised bad characters, who were introduced into Western Australia from Japan.
– I have just put before the House the statement of a Minister of a great nation, and I think we might well pay that Minister and the nation itself the compliment of presuming ‘ that, if there were any lapses from the principle contained in the Act to which he refers, they were of an accidental character, and that the Government of Japan could not be held responsible for them. I think that is the fairest explanation.
– That is possible.
– If we began to look closely into the circumstances of our own people, I think we should be able to enumerate hundreds of cases in which the implied guarantee of our Governments has not always been justified by those whose conduct is vouched for.
– Has not the honorable and learned member heard that certain Japanese were imported into Western Australia foi immoral purposes?
– I have not. On 14th September, 1901, Mr. Eitaki again addressed the Prime Minister. I shall not read the letter, because it merely reiterates the protests made in .former communications against the passing of legislation of a character offensive to the Japanese. He pointed out in it the character of certain legislation that had been passed in Japan, and requested that some effort should be made to enter into a treaty by which the desired exclusion might be effected. In the same month Mr. Eitaki addressed a further letter to the Prime Minister with reference to the proposed education test. The following extract from it is certainly interesting: -
In Japanese schools and other educational establishments the most approved European methods are adopted, and the most important works on science, literature, ait, politics, law, Sec., which are published in Europe from time to time are translated into Japanese for the use of students. Thus a Japanese, without being acquainted with any other language than his own, is frequently up to a very high educational standard in the most advanced branches of study, by means of a liberal use of these translations. I cannot imagine any sufficient reason why the Japanese language should not be regarded as upon the same footing with, say, the Turkish, the Russian, the Greek, the Polish, the Norwegian, the Austrian, or the Portuguese, or ‘why, if an immigrant of any of the nationalities I have mentioned ‘may be examined in his own language, the same courtesy should not be extended to the Japanese. . . .
That paragraph has a bearing upon the aspect of the question now under consideration. In the Immigration Restriction Bill, as introduced, it was provided that if any European immigrant could pass an examination of fifty words in an European language, he should be considered entitled to land here. Tt was reasonable that the Japanese should think that, if the passing of an educational test in such languages as the Greek, the Polish, the Norwegian, or the Austrian, were a sufficient guarantee that the immigrant was educated in such a way as to entitle him to come into Australia, the passing of an examination in the language of Japan ,’should be considered equally satisfactory, having regard to the position in which their nation stood in 1901. A further letter was addressed by Mr. Eitaki to the Prime Minister on 18th September, 1901, and still another on 20th September. I ask honorable members to notice what an immense volume of correspondence took place on the one side, in order that they may appreciate what I have to say with regard to the scant courtesy afforded by the answers which were sent. On 20th September the Japanese Consul addressed a letter to the Prime -Minister, in which he referred to the Mansard report of ‘ a speech made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - the present Prime Minister - in which he said -
We hold that the test should exclude alien Asiatics as well as the people of Japan, against whom the measure is primarily aimed.
Mr. Eitaki went on to say
My request is that the Japanese may be treated in the same manner as an European nation. The Bill is unmistakably and confessedly aimed at the Japanese, upon grounds which must form the subject of the strongest possible protest should it be passed.
On the 5th October, 1901, he again wrote -
My correspondence, however, was not fortunate enough to produce the desired effect, inasmuch as the educational test decided upon is racial, pure and simple . . . the subsequent insertion of the word “ European “ in an amendment . . . emphasizes the intention of the Bill to make racial distinctions.
I think honorable members will recognise that so long as the Immigration Restriction Bill was so worded as to require the passing of an educational test in the English language the Japanese offered no objection, because all European and Eastern nations were treated alike. But when the Bill was so amended as to require an immigrant to pass an examination in an European language, it was held that the differentiation of the Japanese language from, those of all Europeans was such as to give rise to a sense of injury to their national pride. In this last letter, Mr. Eitaki stated -
I have received a cable from His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government, stating that they consider the two Bills named clearly make a racial discrimination, and requesting me, on that account, to convey to Your Excellency their high dissatisfaction with those measures.
Senator Pulsford says, verv pertinently, of these letters -
This mass of correspondence makes it perfectly clear with what thoroughness, perseverance, authority, and unfailing good temper the Japanese representatives sought recognition of the wishes and claims of Japan.
I now wish to show the House how this long series of letters addressed first to the Premier of New South Wales, and, subsequently, to the Prime Minister of Australia, was dealt with. The Premier of New South Wales answered in these terms - and this is the only letter which I find on record as a reply to the three that were directed to him, as Senator Pulsford observes, in such an exceedingly goodtempered spirit -
Sir, - Ihave the honour to acknowledge the re ceipt of your letter of 24th inst., and hasten to assure you that the proposed legislation to which you refer proceeds from no unfriendly feeling towards the Japanese Government, but simply from a desire to prevent a state of tilings which might give rise to much agitation and friction within our borders.
The Prime Minister of Australia wrote even more vaguely, in answer to the series of something like eight long diplomatic letters -
Sir, -I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the nth, 16th, and 20th inst., on the subject of the effect of the Immigration Restriction Bill (now before Parliament). So far as Japanese are concerned, I need scarcely say that your representations are receiving the fullest consideration of the Government.
This, so far as I have been able to ascertain - and I shall be glad to be corrected - is the only letter which was ever sent by the Prime Minister to the Japanese Consul, in acknowledgment of the many communications to which I have referred. I submit that the Japanese authorities were treated in an off-hand manner. Apparently, it was not sufficient to have passed legislation of this kind. I cannot conceive why the Japanese Consul should not have been addressed in a spirit of diplomatic friendliness. It might have been pointed out that -whatever the Japanese might think of the attitude of Australia - so long as the people of the Commonwealth entertained a fear that the Japanese might come some day in large numbers to our shores, it was necessary to take steps to give assurances against such an influx. Had that been done, I think that the Japanese would have felt that they had at least been paid the compliment of receiving a clear, explicit, and straightforward explanation for the action of the Commonwealth. Senator Pulsford uses even stronger language with regard to this correspondence. He writes -
It can safely be asserted that the whole records of consular and diplomatic correspondence contain few, if any, instances of an offer so courteously and repeatedly made by a great and friendly nation being so contemptuously ignored.
As the House knows, notwithstanding these protests - despite our larger knowledge of Japan, and our growing recognition of its national pride - the Bill was passed. I, and others, (protested against it. I do not like to use unguarded: language, but at the time there was a sort of exaltation throughout the country, and every one seemed to respond to the demand that the Commonwealth should be freed from all possible contact with any race which was not absolutely white or pure in. the eyes of the people of Australia. What I contend is, that whilst we may have been justified from the point of view of “the people” in passing a Bill to exclude Eastern races, we were not justified in differentiating between this great nation and all the other nations of the world, of which perhaps not more than four can be compared to her. We were not justified in so differentiating between them and all the European nations, as to say, “ We do not even intend to provide that your language shall be one of those in which an educational test may be made.”
– Why was it decided to have an educational test?
– I can only say that many of us regarded the measure as a most hypocritical one. It was not honestly intended that educational fitness should be the qualification for admission to the Commonwealth. The provision in question was an indirect and politicallydishonest method of overcoming a difficulty, and was designed to give the Government a plausible sort of excuse for keeping the Japanese out of the country.
– That is a departure from the line of argument which the honorable and learned member has so far pursued.
– Surely not. It is only another reason why we might have been more straightforward with the Japanese. We knew that we were not dealing with a dull, stupid, uneducated race; and when we found that we were legislating in regard to a people as intelligent as ourselves, it would have been better for us to have said in a straightforward way, “ We shall not allow Asiatics into Australia, until we see how public opinion evolves.”
– Where did this provision emanate from? Why does not the honorable and learned member tell us the facts about the matter ? Was it not due to a suggestion of Mr. Chamberlain?
– I am telling the House the facts as I know them, and I shall be very glad if the honorable member will supplement my statement. He mentions Mr. Chamberlain, but I could, if it were necessary to do so, in a very short time find a copy of a despatch sent by Mr. Chamberlain to the Commonwealth Government, in which it is pointed out that, although we may have ample justification for excluding men from Australia On the ground that they are diseased, criminal, or dirty, we have no justification for excluding them on the ground of their colour. The Prime Minister will remember the communication to which I refer.
– Did not Mr. Chamberlain recommend the adoption of the education test?
– I must decline just now to reply to a series of more, or less irrelevant questions on this subject, because I desire to preserve some sort of sequence in my remarks. I contend -though I am not going to spend time in discussing this aspect of the case, because I think the House recognises the truth of what I am about to say - that the Japanese rank with the people of the first four nations of Europe. No one who has looked closely into their civilization, habits, government, constitution, and administration, can doubt that, whilst the world has believed them to be asleep, or continuing in the old exclusive manner of living which they followed for many centuries, they have really been making tremendous strides in every channel of human activity. Twentyfive years ago, when I was a law student in England, reading at the Temple, I met scores of young Japanese, who also were studying law, in order, that they might take back to Japan a full knowledge of the legal system of Great Britain.
– The honorable and learned member might have met Hindoos there as well. It is they who gain all the scholarships.
– I learnt from them that for ten or fifteen years past the same thing had been going on in every department of life, although the outer world did not know of it. A few who had travelled or read works about Japan knew of it, and those who have looked into their history, and are acquainted with their present condition, are aware that, for the ]as forty years, they have been making an advance such as has been unheard of in the records of any other nation. In 1901 I reminded the House that Japan is our ally ; and 1 could not then understand why we, who professed to desire the consolidation of the British Empire - by which is meant, l” suppose, the wish to make it more compact, by harmonizing one part with another, and the whole with the outside world - could, in face of the fact that England was making Japan her greatest national friend, act so insultingly towards her. BecauseEngland has no compact in existence, nor has had any such compact in modern years, which will compare for its “ intimacy “ - that is the only word that I can use ire regard to this compact - with that with Japan.
– Nor for its limitations.
– Its limitations, are very small. If the honorable and learned member has read it carefully, he must know that it is an undertaking on the part of both countries to come to the rescue of each other if the status quo should ever be interfered with by another nation,either as affecting Japan, or as affecting Great Britain in India, China, Japan, or Corea. It is a big thing for the English people to undertake to abide bv the statusquo which Japan has brought about in the East, but their quid pro quo is in the undertaking of the Japanese to help England if the status quo in India should be aggressively affected in any way. I challenge the honorable and learned member to name any treaty or alliance which has been entered into by Great Britain with any other country during the last fifty years which will compare with this treaty for what I have called intimacy and mutual trust. I have said that the Japanese as a nation are hurt, and I could, if necessary, quote the statements of fifty Japanese public men to support that assertion. I shall quote, the remarks of one or two very prominent men, to show what the feeling is in this matter on the part of the Japanese, and I am sure that honorable members, however strongly they may hold the opinion that these people should be excluded from Australia, will not shut their ears to this evidence that our action has greatly hurt the pride of the Japanese people. ‘ Mr. Zumoto, the editor of the Japanese Times, one of the leading Japanese newspapers, has said -
I have written very much against it. I think it very unfair, and we feel very strongly about it. _
I shall quote only a line or two from the remarks of each authority, because these communications are lengthy. Dr. Hodzumi a talented and influential member of the House of Peers, has said -
It is unjust to make distinction on account of colour. When the coloured Egyptians and Arabians were civilized the white races of Europe were uncivilized. If one people look down upon another as inferior, there is enmity, and, besides, intercourse and trade are prevented.
The trade question is a very important one. I do not wish to ask support for my motion on considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence ; I wish it to be supported on grounds of international respect. I want honorable members, if they can, to take so broad a view of this question that, notwithstanding our desire to exclude all coloured races from Australia, we shall at least act like gentlemen towards the people of other nations, and tell them, “We shall treat with you and converse with you, although we as a people are strongly prejudiced against your coming to this country. At the same time we are ready to discuss the matter with you, and to tell you honestly what our reasons for this feeling are - how much moral, how much economic - so that some mutually respectful conclusion may be arrived at.” A well-known Vice-Minister of Finance, Dr. Sakatani, has said -
I consider it an Act against humanity at large, and detrimental to the interests of tie Australians themselves. All Japanese are against it as an offence to our nation.
Communications have appeared in the newspapers within the last day or two which clearly show that there is a likelihood of an enormous wool trade growing up between Australia and Japan, and honorable members know that already Japan has established differential rates, giving an advantage of 15 per cent, to Queensland as compared with” the rest of Australia, merely because that State was in the past ready to deal with her on treaty lines. How Japan will discriminate between Queensland goods and goods passing through Queensland I do not know, but the existence of such differential rates shows the extent to which national feeling has operated in the minds of the Japanese. Honorable members, and especially those who represent Queensland, know that the effect of the treaty has been most satisfactory - that Japan has observed her part of the undertaking, and that Queensland has had no need to protest against any breach. Dr. Nitobe, the author of that very able and interesting little book, entitled Bushido, or The Soul of Japan, says -
When coming home from London to Japan I applied for a passage at Ceylon, but none of the captains of the ships would take me. I then applied to “ Cook’s “ for an explanation, and they informed me that the reason was because I was a coloured man. I think that the Act is a wrong against humanity, and will be. an injury to Australia itself, especially to Queensland, and I think it cannot last.
Could a greater insult to a man of culture and fine feeling be imagined ? Count Okuma, one of Japan’s leading statesmen, has said -
When I was Foreign Minister, seventeen years ago, the Australian legislators were considering the question of excluding the Japanese. I then represented to the .English Government that such a course would be a wrong to humanity, and against the interests of the Australians themselves, and that the English Government should advise the Australians not to take such a course. About seven years ago, when I was again Foreign Minister, the question of Japanese exclusion was again raised. I then represented to the British Government that such a course would be offensive and wrong, particularly as the Japanese nation was making such great advances in civilization and material progress.
I have many other quotations from Japanese holding, high positions. Mr. Noma, a member of the House of Reprsentatives, has said -
I brought the matter before the House, and all the members agreed with me that it was an insulting action towards our people.
I wish honorable members to understand that this subject has been brought before the Parliament of Japan, which is elected on a franchise as free as our own ; and our action has been condemned by the members of the Japanese House of Representatives -
So keenly did my countrymen feel the slight that I think they would sooner fight Australia and America on this excluding question than they would fight the Russians on the vexatious territorial question.
In 1902 Mr. Oishi brought the matter forward, and the House again condemned such an insulting piece of legislation against Japan. The Japanese Weekly Mail reportsMr. Oishi as follows : -
With regard to the Australian Exclusion Bill, Mr. Oishi spoke in the strongest terms. Hedeclared that a gross insult had been put upon the Japanese nation ; an insult which a thousand years would not wipe out. The whole of thepeople were in mourning about the indignity they had suffered.
Those extracts ought to convince honorable members that this is a matter which is not being; lightly treated in Japan. The comments which have been made upon our action there have all been of the most peaceful and friendly character, but they ought to suffice to show that the Japanese national pride has been seriously wounded ; and. in view of that fact, we ought to consider whether it is not possible to effect the purpose of our legislation by diplomatic means, so as to save this great nation from offence, and our own good name as a discreet people.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that the Chinese also are hurt by our action?
– They have not expressed themselves in the same way ; and, moreover, I do not think that they have so far qualified themselves as the Japanese have done by their progress, or by their enlightenment, to receive the same consideration at our hands. Perhaps I recognise as fully as does the honorable and learned member, the prospect that in the near future the Chinese, under the tutorship of Japan, will realize the strength of their position, and the possibilities of their people; but, at present, China is not so educating herself, or distinguishing herself, among progressive peoples, as to make the call upon us so strong as that which Japan puts forward. However, my feeling in this matter is such that if the honorable and learned member for Corio , will . bring forward a suitable motion, relating to the Chinese, I shall be happy to co-operate with him. I have had to look on many sides to obtain material in support of my motion, because I recognise that I might stand here for a very long time, and speak my own personal opinions of the civilization, culture, morality, and progress of the Japanese without making much impression upon, honorable members. If honorable members are not prepared to take the step that I am now about to propose, they must decline, with the full knowledge that the extreme progress which has been made by the Japanese people is now being generally admitted, and has secured for them the respect of Europe. The conditions of to-day are very different from those which obtained in 1901. Our knowledge of Japan and of the Japanese is very much greater than was then the case, and the position which the japanese occupy is verv much more forward. Altogether, Japan occupies towards Australia a. verv different position from that which she filled in 1901. In that year we might have taken the step I am now proposing, as an act of national courtesy, but to-day we shall have to act rather from considerations of international policy, because we know that Japan has become one of the great factors of the world’s peace. Honorable members may recollect a wellworn text which recommends us in certain cases to make peace quickly. It is not, however, upon that ground that I am asking the House to move in this matter, because in all the literature that has come under my notice, I have never read of one phrase used by the Japanese which would indicate that they were likely to allow their disappointment or pride to prompt them to say an angry word about us. In fact, magnanimity is a national characteristic which will lead the Japanese rather to heap coals of fire upon our heads than to utter words of anger. I remember one remark of the Marquis Ito spoken by him after he had commented on the action of the Australian people, and the effect it would have upon the Japanese. He said that he wondered “what the Australian people would say if some day when they were in trouble, the Japanese sent their fleet down into their waters - to help them out of their difficulty ! That is the spirit of the Japanese people, and no Britisher who has not studied their national characteristics can thoroughly realize their magnanimity with regard to others who have given them offence. I have not met with one report of an utterance by a Japanese politician or public man, in which any angry spirit was allowed to escape. All that was indicated was a feeling of disappointment and offended pride at the way in which their nation had been treated. I should like to quote an utterance of the honorable member for Gippsland, which seems to me to accurately present the position to-day. In the course of an interview on 13th June, he said, with regard to Japan -
The question as to what Australia should do, in view of the altered condition in the East, is a big one - the whole situation will require to be carefully considered by the Federal Government. It’ must be apparent to every thinking man that the sense of security we have always considered we derived from our great distance from the bases of all the great military or naval powers of the world, has now been removed. We now find one of the great naval and military powers of the earth within a very short distance of our shores. That puts us in a very different position from that which we considered we occupied heretofore. . . It is fortunate for us that the great power that has recently arisen in the East is friendly with Great Britain. She is an ally of the Empire. Of course, that condition of things might not always continue.
The honorable member for Melbourne recently visited Japan, and wrote a little book describing his impressions. If I were asked to make a succinct summary of that publication I should say that the honorable member started from Australia with very many racial prejudices, and a determination to keep all Asiatics out of Australia. The book shows that his visit to Japan has caused him to completely shed all the grounds for his prejudices ; although I am bound to say that it demonstrates _ that his prejudices continue, and that he is as determined as ever to keep the races of the East out of Australia.
– The honorable and learned member’s conclusion is right, but it is based on wrong premises.
– The book has been very valuable to me. It contains a number of extracts of a very interesting character, and is written in a very eloquent and informing manner. It shows that the honorable member kept his eyes and his ears open all the time he was in Japan.
– The language used is that of my companion, Mr. Francis Myers.
– I take it that the ideas expressed are those of the honorable member. In the course of his book he says - n
It should hardly be necessary now, in face of the handling of battalions on land, and of battleships at sea, to deal with the notion that the Japs are a small people in all things; that their industries are petty, that steam hammers, blast furnaces, and the control of mills where spindles in millions whirr, are beyond them. They never were incapable of great, colossal,’ even Titanic, works. Read Rudyard Kipling’s account of their ancient fortifications. He wrote well of them in his book of the Seven Seas. Look at their stupendous castings in bronze, the mighty wood work of their temples. Turn back to their armadas of the thirteenth century. Though selfexcluded from the world, they have been well abreast of the world in all arts and industries; and now in the world they take their place in front along the whole line.
That is the testimony of a member of the Labour Party in this House, who has opened his mind to whatever impressions might be made upon it by travel in Japan during the past few months. Some te.timony las to ‘the reasonableness Ot; my motion has been borne by several sections of the press. The Argus, in speaking. not of my motion, but generally of the movement which I am seeking to further, said: -
Probably hex Government will be as ready to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in limiting Japanese immigration in our direction as Australia can desire ; but, as a great power, admitted into the fraternity of civilized nations - and the result of the war must be to place her in that position - she will need to be approached with a courtesy and a consideration hitherto conspicuous by their absence. With tact on our part, there should be no real reason why Great Britain’s ally should not become our permanent friend.
Some persons are under the impression that the civilization of the Japanese is a kind of veneer, and that if you probe deeply into the national life of the Japanese you will find barbarism,, as you find the’ Tartar nature under the skin of a Russian. A very interesting observation was ‘made recently by a Japanese Ambassador at one of the European courts. The New York Times says -
A Japanese ambassador, at one of the European Courts, recently pointed out that, though his country had for many years charmed the Western world with its exquisite works of art - even those of its workmen - it was excluded from the list of civilized nations up to the beginning of the Twentieth Century ; “ but,” said the ambassador, “ within the past year we have managed to slay some 70,000 Europeans, and we are suddenly accepted as civilized.”
Japan has been able to take such intelligent care of her soldiers - that is, to save lives - that the record of no other nation is one-fourth as creditable; and she has employed the armies cared for in this scientific manner solely for the defence of her vital interests.
The Melbourne Herald, which occasionally indulges in a cosmopolitan spirit in its leading articles, has paid its tribute to the national character of the Japanese. In its issue of 29th May, it said, comparing the dissipation of the Russian Army with the conduct of that of Japan -
On the one hand we have the Japanese filled with patriotism of the highest order - self-reliant, well-disciplined, and fully realizing the importance of the situation they are called upon toface, and determined to face it.
In the same issue the following quotation from a writer in the Fortnightly Review is published. He speaks of the steady, sober bravery and fervid patriotism of the Japanese, as distinguished from the national character of their enemies.
This motion was placed upon the businesspaper in November last, and the Daily Mail thereupon published an article which is distinctly interesting, as it shows in advance what a very important section of the English press has to say with regard to this intended step on the part of a member of this House. It expressed itself as follows : -
The motion of which Mr. Bruce Smith gave notice yesterday in the Australian Federal House of Representatives will evoke a feeling of gratitude and satisfaction both in England and Japan. His reason far the proposal is that Japan, by her work of civilization and reform, has shown her right to be regarded as one of the great nations of the world. Japan is England’s ally ; and it were only right and proper that the subjects of a State, whose policy, as we know, from a note of Lord Landsdowne’s is identical with that of England, should be treated with a full measure of respect by the New England of the Southern Hemisphere. Like the Italians of the Riso Gimento, they have conquered the world’s esteem in battle; and whatever the issue of the present struggle, their conduct during it will be embalmed in history as one of the most precious examples of human fortitude and devotion in the hour of tribulation- The war may be said to have made an end of the ancient superstitions regarding the illimitable gulf between Europe and Asia. In Japan the impartial observers of the world have seen a State which obeys the Western code of honour, whose subjects make war in the most chivalrous manner, whose statesmen keep the pledges which they give, whose people are ready to a man to be killed for a great idea. The hard things which are said today about Japan upon the continent were said forty years ago about Sardinia, and will hereafter be said about any State which arises to disturb the existing conditions of world power. But they cannot hide the fact that Japan is in the right, and fighting, as we in England believe, for a cause which is the highest and greatest to be conceived by man - her freedom, her integrity, her very existence as a nation.
Quite apart from the war, however, the question which we have to consider is : Are the Japanese as a nation worthy of Australian consideration ? Honorable members will notice that I do not at present ask that they shall be permitted to enter Australia. I merely ask that we shall deal with them by treaty, in order that their national .feeling may not be wounded, as it has hitherto been. I do not suggest that they shall be permitted to enter Australia in large numbers, but I wish to ask whether they are worthy of our trust? That question ought to be answered without the slightest hesitation. The mere fact that the mother country has entered into so remarkable a treaty with them should be conclusive evidence that they are so worthy. But if we must look more Closely into the history of Japan as a nation, and the morale of her people, let us see how she stands when compared with other nations. In the first place, it is well known - and I regard it as one of the greatest tributes to her stability as a nation - that she has lived for 2,500 years under the same line of monarchy. For twenty-five centuries there has not been the. slightest departure from the Imperial line of descent from which the present Mikado springs. That is certainly a strong argument in favour of national stability, and that .is the attribute to which the British nation should look more than to any other. Japan had her census as far back as 86 b.c. It is recorded in her history that at the time the people in Great Britain - prior to the visit of Caesar - were running about with their bodies painted, the Japanese had established a census, and as late as 658 a.d. - that is, 400 years before the Norman conquest - they had systematized it to such an extent that it could be relied upon as a trustworthy record of her population. In 1900, no less than 13,000 foreigners visited Japan. That nation had advanced to such an extent that no difficulty appears to have been experienced by outsiders in entering her territory and travelling through it. Only the other day I heard some honorable member say that the Japanese really excluded other races from their country, and that consequently other nations were justified in retaliating. In refutation of that statement I would point out that it is recorded in statistical works - the accuracy of which there is no reason to doubt - that no less than’ 13,000 foreigners - one-sixth of whom were Britishers - visited Japan in 1900, without any embargo being placed upon their movements.
– A visit is one thing; and domicile is another.
– I am not asking that the Japanese should be allowed even to visit Australia. But I shall show in a moment what Canada and the United States have recently done in this connexion.
– The Japanese can and do visit us freely.
– Certain! v. thev do.
– The honorable and learned member knows that, but the statement which he made just now is capable of a wrong interpretation.
– Certain classes of Japanese come here at the present time without experiencing any1 difficulty. That fact, however, only strengthens mv argument. If we allow them to enter this country, surely they are entitled to expect us to deal with them in the less offensive way I suggest - that is, by treaty - so thattheir intercourse with us other than by merevisits may be regulated in a manner which is not calculated to wound their national pride. I am aware that my speech must resemble an historical essay ; but the nature of the case demands that I should put before the House the character and history of the Japanese, whom we have hitherto treated in so arbitrary a way, and whom I wish should be treated differently in the future. I come now to some testimony with regard to the monarch who stands at the end of a dynasty which extends for 2.500 years without a break. In his book, Colonel Bell says -
While I deny that the achievements of Japan are more wonderful than those of the British race, though the latter was struggling upward for near two hundred years, and the former was rushing forward but forty, every student must confess that in the whole range of history, there has never appeared another man, who in farseeing wisdom, in a generous love of justice, in keenness of perception, in enlightened statesmanship, and patriotism, worthy to be compared with this Oriental potentate ; and to my notion, the ablest statesman and diplomats of this age, are those now controlling the destinies of our Eastern ally.
I hold in my hand a manifesto from which I should like honorable members to allow me to read four short extracts. It was the first of the kind issued by the present Mikado, in later years, when the desire for reform became accentuated in Japan. It reads -
I say that if any reigning monarch had been asked to lay down four great primary principles upon which the success of a nation could be founded, he could not have outlined four more succinct and comprehensive principles than those which I have quoted. Many people in this country, and elsewhere, are under the impression that the daily life of Japan of to-day is regulated by old, crusted, con servative principles which we should con sider unworthy of a civilized people. But honorable members will observe that the Japanese themselves are here admonished by their Mikado to discard all old and absurd customs, and to make impartiality and justice the basis of action.
– Her practice is altogether different.
– I should like to say that if we ourselves were to be judged by precept and practice, and if true Christianity were taken as the basis of conduct in our own country, we should find that there is a greater chasm between the actual and the ideal than is to be found in any other country in the world. There is no country in which one standard is being preached, and another practised more than is the case in our own. I would therefore ask the honorable and learned member for Corio, who has had a legal training, to consider for a moment the logic of his interruption. What possible bearing can it have on my present contention? I am not suggesting that we should shake hands with the Japanese - that our people should be compelledto intermarry with them - in short, thatwe should take them to our national bosom. I am merely urging that we should deal with them in a diplomatic manner, in order that we may regulate their inability to enter our country. The Constitution of Japan is one which every honorable member would do well to study. I had the advantage of receiving a copy of it some four years ago, and I venture to say that it is one of the most enlightened Constitutions that the world has seen. Everybody is aware of the immense trouble which was taken in its preparation and drafting. The Marquis Ito - one of the most eminent statesmen in the world - spent years in Germany, the United States, and Great Britain, during which time his attention was almost exclusively devoted to the drafting of a Constitution for Japan, because the adoption of that Constitution was to mark an entirely new era in the history of that country. It placed her people and affairs upon an entirely new basis, and substituted for a rational despotism - a despotism which was certainly in the hands of a very wise man - a system of representative government which is as liberal as is our own. I now propose to read some of the views which have been expressed regarding that
Constitution. No less a person than Mr. James Bryce said -
He looked upon the work of drafting a constitutional form of Government upon the traditions, history, and usages of a people whose memories reach back so far as an extraordinary success.
Mr. Herbert Spencer said
He considered it an almost miraculous feat that the new Constitution of Japan did no violence to the traditions and history of so ancient a race.
The late J. G. Blaine, statesman and journalist of the United States, pronounced it “ the most perfect Constitution in structure that he had ever read “ ; and Baron Kaneko, one of its four authors, recently reproduced in the Century Magazine some important opinions upon it, in order that the world might know what leading Europeans thought of that great work. Baron Kaneko himself said; -
The adoption of a constitutional form of Government proves to the world that it is our desire to ‘follow in the footsteps of civilized nations ; and the record of our Parliamentary proceedings must show that we possess the capacity to master the mechanism of liberal Government; that Japan, by her earnest study of modern science, her keen appreciation of the benefits of civilization, her strong perception of national responsibility, and her perseverance in mastering the principles of right conduct, as accepted by civilized peoples, has justly earned a place in the family of nations.
If we look to her Parliament, what do we find ? She has a House of Representatives, like our own, and a House of Peers. But in connexion with the House of Peers, we find a novel feature, which is suggestive even to ourselves. That branch of the Legislature includes not only Princes of the blood and Peers, but men of distinguished service, of remarkable erudition, and representatives of the highest taxpaying section of the people. In Japan it is held that the particular district which can show that it has Paid the largest share of the taxation of the country shall be entitled to send representatives into the House of Peers to take part in checking its legislation.
– That provision is copied from England, where wealthy brewers are made members of the House of Lords.
– It is scarcely copied from England, because it does not ‘provide that men who have succeeded in industry merely shall enter the House of Peers. The Japanese Constitution makes provision for the nomination to that branch of the Legislature of men of distinguished service, of remarkable erudition, and of representatives of the highest taxpaying section of the people. Every Englishman looks upon the practice of transferring wealthy brewers, who may, possibly, never have opened their mouths in the House of Commons, into the House of Lords, as an abuse of a fine principle. There is no justification whatever for declaring that the procedure in Japan finds a /parallel in the old country. In Japan, the Constitution merely allows the district which has paid the highest proportion of the revenue, to nominate its own representatives in the House of Peers. It is very unfair to attempt to introduce a parallel which has no application, whatever. Let us now look at Japan’s Courts of Justice. ‘In that country we find that there is one Supreme Court - a sort of Privy Council - seven Appeal Courts, forty-nine local Superior Courts, and 310 District Courts. They have seven Judges to every Supreme Court, five to every Appeal Court, three to every local Court, and one to every District Court. Colonel Bell, who visited^ the Parliament and the Courts of Japan, said -
In no Legislative Assembly or Court of law whose sitting I have ever attended, is there more earnest dignity and decorum.
That is striking testimony to the way in which the Parliament of Japan and its Courts are conducted. Their laws were codified and systematized as far back as 1882, and again in 1889, and I may also say - although being a senior member- of the Bar myself, I cannot claim that it redounds to their credit - that they have an organized Bar of advocates for suitors before their different Courts. Their Parliament is as deliberative and at least as levelheaded as our own. Their laws are as certain as our own, their Bench is as pure as our own, and their Bar is as honorable as our own.
– Can a foreigner own property in Japan?
– I cannot undertake to give opinions on Japanese law. It is very difficult now-a-days to say what is the English or Australian law, but it would be much more difficult for an Australian to express an opinion on a Japanese law point. I hope, therefore, that the honorable member will not put such questions to me. The population of Japan in 1903 was 46,7323000, and an interesting fact bearing on our present loss of population in Australia is that her excess of births over deaths in the same year was 542,000. I wish now to refer briefly to the character of her people. My first witness, if I may speak in Nisi prius language, is the honorable member for Melbourne, who, in a little book upon Japan which he recently published, writes -
We do not understand these people. The twaddle about the little brown man and the monkey man is altogether misleading - may be disastrously misleading.
I ask honorable members to note that point. The writer continues -
Though I have called this chapter the “ Head of the Peril,” I do not propose for one moment to stint my admiration or modify in any way my appreciation of the people of whom I have seen a little, andtaken some pains to understand. If I find concentrated here the wisdom of Solon, the patriotism of Brutus, the heroism of Leonidas, and the war genius of Julius Caesar, all the more terrible is the peril to us, once that head begins to direct the movements of the appallingly gigantic body, as yet but dimly discerned,
It is a head in which exquisite pathos and tenderest sentiment are blent with iron determination, and courage which is absolutely identical with the back to back courage of sternest despair; identical with the courage of the Zulu, who went on because certain death was behind ; and with that of the Moslem, who saw, plain as the rising day, beyond death, the voluptuous paradise.
And with all that there is a love of country, such as, with all deference, I do not think even an Australian can understand.
I think that testimony like this - coming as it does from an honorable member who stands in the forefront of the party which took such active steps to exclude the Japanese from Australia - as to the national character and morality of the people of that country, is of the highest value. If I were in a Court of law I should regard the honorable member as a witness on the other side who had made valuable admissions, carrying much more weight than the asseverations of one’s own witnesses. He says, further -
They honour their parents who begot and bore them, and their forefathers, to all generations. A working race, a fighting race, a clean, lawabiding race, a courteous, cheerful race.
Could we have stronger testimony than this from the honorable member, who so lately visited Japan? Will the House now permit me to quote from the Tokio correspondent of the Times, who in May of the current year wrote -
There is a foolish notion, surviving all that we have seen during the war, that the Japanese, not being a Christian nation, cannot possess what some Russian writer loftily describes as certain fundamental principles of morality and justice, upon which the West plumes itself. If Christianity has any connexion with the teaching of its founder, the Japanese might well claim to be the best Christians of us all.
I wish, too, to read to the House a manifesto, or sort of moral code, issued by the Mikado to the schools of Japan. Manifestos of this kind are issued from time to time by His Majesty, and are read to the schools on important national festival days. This is what the Mikado said, and I think it is one of the most touching series of admonitions that I have ever read -
It is our wish that you, our loyal subjects, at all times honour and obey your parents, and love your brothers and sisters. Man and wife should live together in peace and love. Be faithful to your friend. Practice self-sacrifice and self-possession.
Be just and honest in all your dealings. Be merciful. Do what you can to help science and education. Be peace-loving.
Educate your minds, and try to reach perfection in everything.
Always think of the common-wealth, and spread light among your neighbours by good deeds. Watch over the Constitution of the country, and obey its laws.
Be ready to sacrifice all - your lives, your property - when danger threatens your country. Always remember that you owe your country everything, and that you should exert all your influence to further its interests.
The honorable member for Melbourne, from whose book I have taken this address, concludes with these words, which emphasize the whole point -
In giving these rules, the Mikado solemnly promised to keep them himself, and made the same promise for his successor.
Apart from outside criticism, I have here a very valuable extract from an article in the Nineteenth Century, written by Baron Suyematsu -
Our moral notions do not materially differ from either the Greek ethics of the Platonian school and the moral teaching of the Gospel in essence and purport. Morality has been a feature in Japanese education for centuries. It has developed side by side with Bushido or chivalry, the dicta being chiefly founded on the precepts of Confucius.
He quotes the following admonition from the Emperor to his people: - .
It is our desire that you, our subjects, be dutiful to your parents and well disposed to your brothers and sisters - and so’ on, in the terms of the manifesto I have just read. He continues -
Throughout all grades of the educational system in Japan this Imperial code forms the basis of the moral and ethical teachings. Regular hours are devoted in the State schools to lessons in this law; and on the great days of festival it is read aloud, and addresses given on its precepts.
I shall now read an extract from a leading article recently published in the Age, which is a great tribute to the national character of the Japanese, and which I think they are entitled to have read throughout Australia - ,
Beneath all this amazing power of devoted cooperation for a common national ideal there must, of course, be a solid ground of individual character; and the elements that go to make that form the most interesting part of the study which the Jap has drawn upon himself by his prowess. In the first place, his religion looks nebulous to us, on account of our different point of view. What it lacks in definiteness of dogma and mythology it makes up for in depth of sentiment - affection, which is the motive power of active morality, is the inner spirit of the Japanese religion. The intense appreciation of family affection in Japan causes the people to practice kindness and consideration from their earliest years. The passage to the civic virtues is then easy. Family affection widens to friendship and friendship to patriotism. Hence the whole Japanese ethical system, known as Bushido, rests without dogma on the principle that the highest -satisfaction is to be found in the exchange of kindness. Bushido makes the interests of the family the concern of each member, it makes the interests of the State the concern of each family.
I might make further quotations from the Age, bearing equally important testimony to the worth of these people; but I shall content myself by quoting again from the book published by the honorable member for Melbourne -
I have no desire to raise a scare or to promote any distrust of our allies - the Japanese. No man appreciates more highly than myself their masterly action in war, and patient, untiring industry in peace. I gladly bear evidence, also, to their magnanimity and level headedness in triumph, and to their fine toleration in matters of faith and form.
Passing over other quotations, I propose to read a tribute from the enemy of the Japanese, which was published in the Russ, one of the most popular of the newspapers of St.’ Petersburg: -
All the stories told of the brutality of the Japanese have been shown to be unfounded. Our soldiers, who have been prisoners, and escaped, are unanimous as to the kindness shown them by the Japanese. And the same feeling is expressed in letters coming from our soldiers, prisoners of war. A feeling of mutual respect has grown up between ourselves and the Japanese. Our opinion of the Japanese has completely altered.
My limit of time has been almost reached, and I am anxious to come to some of the more substantial testimonies with regard to the civilization of these people. I have before me testimony as to Japanese statesmanship, and also testimony from various sources as to the Japanese civilizing and colonizing policy. I have also a resume of an article which appeared in the Times, giving an account of the astonishing work which has been done by the Japanese Government in colonizing the island of Formosa. They found in the interior of »that island people of no higher grade than are those of the interior of New Guinea today - cannibals - while pirates and a variety of other criminal classes were living on the coast. But since entering into possession of the island, they have established manufactories there, constructed .railways, opened up mines, built for the people, and taught them agricultural pursuits. Formosa is now one of the most promising possessions of the Japanese people. A striking contrast of some of the work that has been done by our own people is offered by the honorable member for Melbourne, whose testimony the House will see I highly value, regarding it, as I do, in the nature of admissions by the other side. He says, speaking of Western colonization -
I find it impossible to doubt that in their own lands and in their own waters the Easterners, as represented by the Japs and the Chinese, must henceforth be regarded as invincible, and not to be touched aggressively with any impunity. And, following immediately on that appears the advisability - nay, the urgent’ necessity - of every power of the West considering forthwith its position in the East.
A reckless and rapacious inconsiderateness has so far characterized all their exploitations, for every “ Sphere of Influence “ is but a field of exploitation. The one object has been to make profit - that -is, to drag away the wealth, the accumulated produce of the East for the support and enrichment of the West. All talk of civilization and Christianization is mere pretence and humbug. Wherever the West has. settled down in most force, there degradation of the native people is most deplorable. Bryce states this plainly as regards Canton, and it is true all along the coast. The white settlements are made up of a few high-class officials, some few of them, it may be admitted, white flowers of the garden of our highest civilization. But the bulk is vile : and in the general system there are elements mixed, repulsive to honest democratic ideas, as insulting and offensive to the great people trespassed on.
That passage and the facts it embodies offer a very striking contrast with the effect which Japanese colonization has had upon Formosa. For want of time, I pass away from a mass of interesting matter to quotations in a more concrete and statistical form. I have in my possession to-day two most valuable and complete statistical works on Japan.
One is called the Financial and Economical Annual of Japan, and the other Japan in the Beginning of the Twentieth Century. Both have been translated into English, and both have attached to them diagrams of a most careful and scientific character. I do not hesitate to assert that no country in the world is at the present time publishing statistical works which are more carefully and scientifically prepared, or more beautifully and informingly illustrated by their diagrams, than are those published in Japan. These works treat of finances, loans, currency, money market, banks, clearing houses, army, navy, post and telegraphs, railways, shipping, education, colonization, and industries. They show that the trade of Japan with the outside world is worth something like ,£21,500,000; the trade with Europe being worth about .£9,500.000, and the trade with Asia about £12,000,000. Japan’s trade with British India is worth about ,£5,000,000 a year, and with Great Britain about the same. In Japan there are 28,000 public schools, attended by 5,085,000 scholars, and - 1,676 private schools, attended by 173,000 scholars. There are 109,000 professors, and teachers in the public institutions of the country, and 8,000 in the private institutions. Japan’s schools are classified as primary, blind, deaf and dumb, normal, higher normal, middle, higher girls, high, universities, special, and technical. There are seventy -eight high schools and 400 technical schools. Occupying university chairs are twenty-nine professors of law, twenty-seven professors of medicine, twenty-one professors of literature, twenty-one professors of science, and twenty-two professors of agriculture. There are also special schools which give instruction in agriculture, commerce, navigation, and fisheries. The Japanese Imperial library contains 419,000 volumes, and there are forty-nine country libraries, containing 408,000 volumes. A writer on Japanese education says : -
The Japanese have an intense love for learning. There are about 30,000 schools, 100,000 teachers, and 5,000,000 scholars in Japan. Ninety per cent, of the boys, and 71 per cent, of the girls, throughout the entire country are receiving an education. The Government schools are all secular, and neither of the four religions of the country - Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, or Christianity - is taught, but good moral science is taught in them all. In the school books they are taught to be honest and truthful, and sober and modest, polite and respectful to their parents, and to their brothers and sisters, and neighbours, and charitable to the poor ; to train and cultivate their moral faculties ; to train and cultivate their intellectual faculties, and to be upright in every thought, word, and action….. In the matter of writing
Japanese excel ; they are beautiful penmen, and good draughtsmen.
Education is compulsory in Japan ; the school attendance is exceedingly good. I quote the following return from the Japan Times, July iS, 1903 :- “ The number of Japanese boys and girls who were of school age at the end of the 34th fiscal year (1901). was 6,497,489, of whom 776,565, that is, 12 per cent., did not attend any school. The causes of non-attendance were poverty in 84 per cent, of the cases, sickness in 13 per cent., and miscellaneous causes in 3 per cent.
There were, in 1902, 250,072 pupils studying English, while only 8,973 pupils were studying other languages foreign to the Japanese, a great compliment to the country to which we belong. Although Japan has a population of only about 47,000,000, and a territory of about 163,000 square miles, while Russia has a population of about 130,000,000, and a territory of nearly 9,000,000 square miles, Japan has more pupils in her schools than there are in the Russian schools. In Japan’s elementary schools there are 4,302,000 pupils while in Russia’s elementary schools there are only 4,193,000 pupils. In Japan, 92 in every 1,000 of the inhabitants go to school, and in Russia only 32 in every 1,000. The figures for . secondary schools and1 universities are equally in Japan’s favour. The Japanese are great readers of both books and newspapers. I find that in one year the books taken from the public libraries numbered 668,703. The greatest number of books read in that year related to mathematical science and medicine. In the next class were those relating to history, biography, geography, travels, and voyages. Then came those relating to literature and language. Next came those relating to law, politics, sociology, economy, and statistics . After them came those relating to arts, industries, engineering, and military and naval science, while the rest were encyclopedias or related to miscellaneous subjects. Apparently no works of fiction were supplied by these libraries ; or, if such books were issued, there is no record of them. Japan encourages inventions ; 7,000 patents have been granted in that country, together with 21,000 trade marks- and 2,000 designs. The Department of State records a farming population of 28,000,000. There is an agricultural department, whose branches deal with irriga tiran, drainage, reclamation, and fertilization, and in connexion with which there are experimental farms for instruction in agriculture, sericulture, cattle breeding, and horse breeding, while .publications on agricultural subjects are issued. There is a hypothec bank, with local branches, which makes advances to farmers for .all purposes of their industry. Mining for coal, oil, iron’, copper, and sulphur is carried on in the country. ; Coming to the finances, I find that the public revenue is 251,000,000 yens, or ,£25,000,000 a year, and the public expenditure 245,000,000 yens, or ^24,500,000, a year. In 1903, Japan’s national debt was 595,000,000 yens, or ^59,500,000, which is little more than two-thirds of the public debt of New South Wales, and about the same as that of Victoria; although Japan has managed to buy for herself one of the finest navies in the world, and has proved herself superior to one of the greatest European military powers. In banking, Japan is as much to the fore as is Australia. The hanks doing, business there are the Bank of Japan, the Yokohama Specie Bank, the Hypothec Bank” of Japan, the local Hypothec Banks, the Hokkaido Colonization Bank, the Industrial Bank of Japan, besides ordinary banks and savings banks. In 1902, Japan’s despatches of foreign mails, including parcels, papers, and letters, numbered 6,776,000, and the arrivals 7,010,000. Sixty thousand foreign moneyorders were issued, and 9,000,000 domestic money-orders. In the Postal savings- banks of the country, in 1903, there were 2,859,000 depositors. Seventeen million telegraphic messages were despatched throughout Japan in 1902, and 600,000 foreign telegraphic messages were sent away. There are 30,000 telephone subscribers in that country. Her domestic postage in 1902 included 208,000,000 letters, 484,000,000 postcards, 149,000,000 newspapers and magazines, 48,000,000 other packages, and 10,000,000 parcels, or 900,000,000 posted articles in all. Thirty-seven million pounds have been invested in railways in Japan, there being 3,010 miles of private lines and 1,226 of Government lines, Her shipping, in 1902, included 1,441 steamers, aggregating 610,000 tons; 3,977 sailing vessels, aggregating 336,000 tons; and 18,742 junks, aggregating 2,351,000 tons. These figures show that Japan is progressing by leaps and bounds, in a way in which pro- bably no other country has progressed in the world’s history. I invite those who doubt the wisdom of the modest step which I advocate to look into these statistical works for themselves. If they do, they will be astonished at the proportion of the track and national concerns of Japan. It may be asked, what are other countries doing in this matter? I would refer, first, to the example of Canada. A cable of the 26th April stated that the Canadian Dominion House of Commons had disallowed British Columbia legislation against Japanese immigrants, on the ground that such restrictions were incompatible with British6 Imperial interests. In Senator Pulsford’s book on The British Empire and the Relations of Asia and Australia, there is an account of the steps which President Roosevelt has taken to insure the courteous treatment of Japanese citizens, and only this week it was reported that an American Chamber of Commerce has asked the President of the United States of America to recommend .Congress to pass legislation which will promote harmony between the United States and Japan. On the 23rd June, a cable message stated that Canada had invited Great Britain to ask Japan to include the Dominion in the terms of the Anglo- Japanese treaty of 1904. I do not wish to prolong my remarks, because the time allowed by the Standing Orders for the discussion of motions has nearly expired. I only wish to say, in conclusion, that I have heard a little song which speaks of “ lovers in the shade “ and “ summer friends.” Japan is now in the summer of her existence, and I find great satisfaction in the reflection that four years ago, when she was not the Power which she is to-day, and, as far as Australian public opinion was concerned, stood “ in the shade,” I had realized her strength, her progress, her importance, and her future, and then asked what I ask now. I beg the House to take a liberal view of this question. Honorable members will see clearly that the motion does not ask that the Japanese shall be admitted to our shores, if we are not yet ready to go so far in our liberal policy. If we are not cosmopolitan enough, if we are not liberal enough, to see the advantages of having Japanese amongst us, let us at least arrange in a friendly way for their exclusion, so that a self-respecting nation will not feel called upon to sacrifice its just feelings of national pride.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brown) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 1796), on motion by Mr. Higgins -
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as follows : - May it please Your Majesty :
We, Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and devotion -to Your Majesty’s person and Government.
We have observed with feelings of profound satisfaction the evidence afforded by recent legislation and recent debates in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, of a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland; and in’ particular we congratulate the people of the United Kingdom on the remarkable Act directed towards the settlement of the land question, and on the concession to the people of Ireland of a measure of Local Government for municipal purposes. But the sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions, of Ireland.
Enjoying and appreciating as we do the blessings of Home Rule here, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted to the people of Ireland. They ask for it through their representatives - never has request more clear, consistent, and continuous been made by any nation. As subjects of Your Majesty we are interested in the peace and contentment of all parts of the Empire, and we desire to see this long-standing grievance at the very heart of the Empire removed. It is our desire for the solidarity and permanence of the Empire, as a Power making for peace and civilization, that must be our excuse for submitting to Your Majesty this respectful petition.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I have very few remarks to add to those which I have already uttered in support of this motion. When I previously addressed the House I omitted to explain why the motion had passed from my hands into those of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. The explanation is a very simple one. When I first proposed to take action in this matter, I consulted the honorable and learned member, and asked him to table a motion on the subject. At that time he was not prepared to do so, and I then stated that if no one else took action I was prepared to table a motion myself. Afterwards I found that the honorable’ and learned member was prepared to take an active part in bringing the matter before the House, and I readily gave way to him, knowing that he, as an Irishman and an enthusiastic Home Ruler, would do full justice to the subject. Moreover, I had already addressed the House on the matter, and I did not wish to inflict myself upon honorable members a second time. I desired, further, that the subject should be dealt with from a fresh stand-point. The honorable member for Dalley recently made an assertion, which I think calls for an immediate and emphatic contradiction. He stated that the Marquis of Linlithgow, formerly GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth, was an Orangeman, the evident intention being to support the organization by lending to it the weight and dignity of a highly-esteemed gentleman, and to a corresponding degree to prejudice- the cause of Home Rule for Ireland. I challenged the honorable member for proof in support of his statement, but he was unable to furnish it. I think it is unfortunate ‘that the name of the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth should have been dragged into a debate of this kind, in association with an organization whose aim is to set one section of the community at the throats of the other section, and which lives upon the prejudices of the past. I believe that the Marquis of Linlithgow has had an inquiry addressed to him as to whether he was ever associated with the Orange institution, and, although no reply has yet been received, a letter has been addressed to me by a gentleman who las so confident that the statement made by the honorable member for Dalley is without foundation that he is prepared to make a liberal donation to any charitable! institution named by the honorable member for Dalley if if can be proved that his statement is correct. He writes as follows : -
I received the paper you sent, and with much pleasure read your speech on the Home Rule movement. I consider the statement made by Mr. Wilks should be challenged. He stated, “ That the province of Ulster was opposed to Home Rule for Ireland.” He also referred more particularly to my native county; Down. Having been in that county, and brought up among Presbyterians in that county, I have had good opportunity of knowing the feelings and aspirations of the people, and know as a positive fact that they are almost to a man in favour of Home Rule, and have from time to time for years elected members to the British Parliament, pledged to Home Rule, among them a relative of mine. Another statement made was that Lord Linlithgow was an Orangeman. I feel confident that statement was untrue, and if it can be proved. that he has ever taken the Orangeman’s oath, I am willing to give a liberal donation to a charitable institution, feeling confident that that honorable gentleman has too high a sense of honour to take so vile an oath.
If the Marquis of Linlithgow had associated himself with the Orange movement, his connexion with it would not have enhanced the prestige of the society, but would have caused that eminent gentleman to fall greatly in the esteem of a large number of citizens of the Commonwealth. I refuse to believe the statement until it is proved beyond all doubt to be true. We have already demonstrated that upon political, national, and moral grounds we are perfectly entitled to express our opinion that it is desirable to grant autonomy to Ireland. We have answered the objections which have been advanced in support of the hands-off policy, namely, the contention that we are not justified in interfering with the domestic policy of the Empire, to the extent contemplated. We have pointed to a number of precedents which are furnished by the history of the Empire, and I submit that the interchange of opinions between the Legislatures in the various portions of His Majesty’s dominions are calculated to lay the foundation of a practical Imperial or Anglo-Celtic Federation. I do not for one moment suppose that the Imperial Parliament will regard our action in presenting an address to His Majesty upon the subject of Home Rule for Ireland as an impertinence or as any undue interference by us in matters beyond our province. No such intention ‘ underlies the proposal. They did not so regard the kindred motion which was passed three times in Canada. The attitude of certain honorable members in opposition to this motion is perfectly intelligible. They think that an attempt is being made to intro: duce a disturbing element into our political life. I am sorry to say that the disturbing element of factional prejudices is already in operation amongst us, and that our political affairs cannot be established upon a reasonably secure basis until the present vexed question of Home Rule for -Ireland is settled. I believe that the resolution will be accepted by the British Parliament in the spirit in which it is .conceived. It contains one paragraph which I should prefer to see excised; but I can assure honorable members that there is no intention to commit an impertinence or to affront the Imperial authorities. I need not delay the House any further, because I have already spoken at considerable length on a former occasion. I hope sincerely that the motion will be agreed to by a large majority, and that we shall be able to demonstrate to the Imperial authorities that, apart from anything approaching a meddlesome spirit, we take a lively interest in the domestic affairs of the nation. Further, I hope that the interchange of opinions between the Legislatures of the nation may prove to be the beginning of a closer and more tangible union, which may ultimately take the form of a Federation of the Anglo-Celtic races. Referring once more to the statement of the honorable member for Dalley, that the Marquis of Linlithgow was connected with the Orange institution at one time, I wish to say that, even if our former GovernorGeneral was induced to join the organization, he could not have been aware of the hideous oath by which he would be required to bind himself to carry out the objects of the order. I feel perfectly sure that he will give an emphatic denial to the statement.
– I do not think any one can ever have his attention drawn to any question affecting the welfare of the people of Ireland without expressing the strongest possible sympathy with the Irish .people in reference to the long and dark period of oppression and injustice through which they have passed at the hands of the superior power of Great Britain. No man can become familiar with Irish history without feelings of profound indignation at the intolerance and injustice which animated the dominant power in its dealings with the Irish people. But there is no doubt that , many df the miseries of Ireland were not due to oppression or injustice. Some of the saddest aspects of Irish history are presented by the bitter feuds winch have paralyzed the real power of the Irish race for many centuries. If they had been as united in the defence of their rights as the smaller population of Scotland has been, they would have been able to stand side by side in those days, as the patriots’ of Scotland did, and we may be sure that many a dark page of wrong and hardship would never have been written in the history of the Irish race. One of the sources of their weakness was the intense dissension which in those days seemed to mark the relations of the various divisions of the Irish people, and one cannot help regretting that even to-day they are divided by differences of the bitterest kind. I would also say that no one can help expressing his highest admiration for the character of the Irish people. The effect of oppression and wrong upon national character has often been disastrous. Many noble (peoples have been bent down by oppression and wrong until they have lost the noblest attributes of their national temperament. But we are glad to know that, in spite of the wrongs which they suffered in those dark centuries, the inhabitants of Ireland stand before the world today as one of the most generous, virtuous, and gifted peoples on the face of the globe. Another of their attributes which excites - and ought to excite - the gratitude of every loyal subject of the Empire, is that they repaid oppression and injustice by magnificent services to Great Britain. Their achievements on the battle-fields, which helped to win the Empire, their brilliance in diplomacy, their signal services in the governing circles of the nation, have been such as to excite admiration. I have said enough to show that I approach this subject with no unworthy feeling, with no disparaging element of scepticism as to the worth of the Irish race. I now come to the motion, which is under consideration. Whilst there are many sentiments in the proposed Address which must elicit our approval, we have to ask ourselves: “What is the practical point of these resolutions “ ? It is that a request, in the form of a petition to the King, shall lie submitted in the name of the House of Representatives of the Australian Commonwealth, asking the people, the Government, and the representatives of the United Kingdom, through the Sovereign, to make a vital change in the system of parliamentary government which prevails there. I encounter, upon the very threshold of this proposal, one or two most serious difficulties. In the first place, whilst upon every matter which affects any ; part of the Empire it is the undoubted right of every British subject to express his opinions - whilst he has the right to appear upon any platform to ventilate any grievances - when we seek to express our opinions, not in our individual capacity, but as embodying the views of Parliament, and as representing the voice and judgment of the people, we have one or two preliminary questions to consider. The first is: “What right has the House of Representatives in this Commonwealth to propose to interfere in one of the burning questions of political controversy in the mother country to-day?”
– It has been done by Canada.
– I confess that I do not take my rules of public conduct from actions in Canada, or even in the United States.
– We took a certain course of action in regard to the introduction of Chinese into South Africa.
– The House may have done so, but I do not bind myself down to that. A great deal of the prominence which has been given to the subject of Home Rule for Ireland, in the United States, Canada, and Australia, has been prompted less by a regard for the welfare of the Irish people than by a desire to make political capital out of Irish disputes.
– Then there must be a very strong feeling behind it.
– Whatever the feelings of the people may be, they have the freest means of expressing them, both in the press and by public meeting. But the question which I wish to put to honorable members is : “ What right has this Parliament to interfere with the Legislature of the mother country in a matter of internal concern, and to direct the form which legislative changes in Great Britain shall take “ ?
– Have we no interest in the mother country?
– We have the deepest interest in a number of things with which it is not our business to meddle. For example, we have the deepest interest in the legislation which is enacted by the British Parliament, but have we the power, or the right, to interfere with the processes of that legislation?
– Will the right honorable member–
– I hope that my honorable friend will recollect that he opened this debate.
– And the right honorable member was not present at the time.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member will forgive -me for that. May I suggest to him that he will have an opportunity of replying to my statements, and that it is extremely inconvenient to be constantly interrupted upon a matter of grave importance, and one to which I wish to address myself with all the earnestness at my command.
– If the right honorable member objects to interruption, I shall be silent.
– I repeat, we must draw the sharpest possible line between, the right which we enjoy as individual subject’s of the King to express, in any way we please, our opinions upon any question coming within the wide range of Imperial politics, and the proposition that this House should make an official representation to the British Parliament upon a question which is not an Australian question, and one that excites the most vital differences of opinion in the three kingdoms - a question which has divided people in the mother country as very few great questions have done. I wish to know where is the basis of our right to make such a representation? We have been sent into this Parliament to attend to the politics and the business of the Commonwealth. We have not been sent here to interfere with the people or Parliament of the United Kingdom upon any matter of domestic concern, or in regard to any alteration of the British parliamentary system. I do not know what may have been the experience of other honorable members, but during my public life, which embraces a period of twenty-five years, I have never been asked at any public meeting my opinion upon the subject of Home Rule for Ireland. Only once did the matter come before me in the course of my public career. I recollect that a long time ago the representative of a great English journal waited upon public men in Australia to ask their opinions upon the subject of Home Rule for Ireland, and in the course of his interviews he called upon me. I at once told him that I declined to be interviewed upon that question. I absolutely declined then, as I, will decline now, to incorporate false issues with Australian politics. We have a sufficient number of burning questions of our own to attend to without complicating the politics of Australia with inquiries whether a man does, or does not, believe in Home Rule for Ireland. If that subject came before the people of Australia, it would excite just as lively a difference of opinion here as it does in the mother country. Thus we should add a burning issue to Australian politics which is, in my judgment, absolutely foreign to it. I view with the greatest apprehension any interference by one part of the Empire with the political concerns of another part. What has made the harmony of our wonderful Empire possible? What has made it possible to develop the self-governing rights of different parts of the Empire but the marvellous wisdom which has led our great selfgoverning bodies to mind their own business? I ask honorable members to regard just for a moment the immovable respect of that mighty Mother of Parliaments - the British House of Commons - for the self-governing rights of the dependencies to which she gave the freedom which attaches, or ought to attach, to parliamentary institutions. How tempted the British Parliament must have been to address petitions to the King in. reference to ‘many developments in the Commonweal ti 1 Legislature? How tempted that Parliament, which stands above us all, and which by a few words in a Statute could wipe out all our liberties to-morrow-
– I do not say that such a thing is probable, but nevertheless the Imperial Parliament technically possesses that power. Our Australian Constitution could never have been called into being had it not been indorsed by an Act of the Imperial Parliament. I make these references only for the purpose of showing the marvellous self-control of that great Parliament. We have set up harriers against the trade of the country which gave us our political freedom. But does the House of Commons present a petition to the King, asking him to communicate with the Commonwealth Government, to complain of the exercise of our legislative freedom, even against the mother country herself? We have passed Acts which make our fellow countrymen in England, Scotland, and Ireland liable to imprisonment if they come to Australia under conditions of honest contract. Does the House of Commons rise in indignation, and present a petition to the King, complaining of that use of our undoubted powers of legislation? Throughout all the vagaries of colonial legislation, that mighty author of all our powers and liberties Stands by and respects our independence - respects our right to work out our own political destiny in our own way. The Empire is full of burning questions to-day. They are to be found in the mother country, in Canada, in India, and in South Africa. Each country is wisely left to deal with its own political destiny, its own political factions, and its own political agitations. Local agitations are never allowed to spread all over the surface of the Empire. There are occasions when it is well and fitting that these Parliaments should adopt .an Imperial attitude. There are times of grief and of rejoicing in the history of the Empire when the Parliaments of the self-governing dependencies can show their sympathy with the mother country, and reveal to all nations the close connexion which exists between one part of the Empire and another. But we must draw a sharp distinction between such occasions, which reveal sentiments of sympathy and loyalty which all men share, and which lead to a unanimous demonstration of good will, and occasions which reveal vital differences of opinion, setting one loyal subject against another. Nothing in our parliamentary history seems more ridiculous to me than this attempt to debate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth the parliamentary conditions of the mother country. Nothing, seems to me to be more sublimely ridiculous and impertinent. If the House of Commons were to discuss our Constitution - if it were to discuss some alteration in our parliamentary system - we can imagine how our honorable friends would rise as one man in patriotic resentment at such an interference with our right to manage our own Parliament, our own policy, and our own political destinies, in our own way. But what that mighty mother of all our Parliaments does not and dare not do, some of us are prepared to do in a spirit of cool complacency. We presume to cross the seas and to enter into a political controversy in the mother country on the very eve of a general election, at which this question of Home Rule for Ireland will be one of the principal issues. We make our appearance in the presence of King Edward, and constitute ourselves his advisers in regard to the shape that a British political agitation should take. We propose to try our hand at reforming the parliamentary relations which now unite the three kingdoms. The proposal to do so is, I think, foolish and absolutely wrong,. We hear again and again the question : “ What harm can there be ? We are asking only for an extension to Ireland of that system of self-government which we en- joy.” I think that is the strongest way in which the position could be put. Great Britain has been generous and wise enough to extend parliamentary independence to Canada, South Africa, and Australia, and some wish to say to the mother country - “ Since you have done this for us, we ask you to do the same for Ireland.” That sort of statement, which is a very common one, is based upon a most superficial view. On what state of affairs did the agitation for colonial parliamentary independence arise? Gentlemen were sent across the seas to this distant dependency of the Crown to assume despotic power in the management of this country, and the agitation for parliamentary independence was an agitation against a state of irresponsible despotism. The person who was put into Government House owed no responsibility to the Australian people; he was responsible only to the Imperial Government. It was a natural and manly desire, springing from the genius of the British race, that led us to demand a change - to desire to exchange for the despotism of the person sent out from the mother country some system of parliamentary government. We had no Parliament when we fought, and so we fought for and won the parliamentary institutions that we now possess. The moment the mother country granted parliamentary institutions to Canada, Australia, and other parts of the Empire, she granted with it an implied power to demand even:tually separation. The corollary of the grant of the right to manage our own affairs in our own Parliament is the right to separate from the mother country, when the people of this country desire to do so. That is one difference between the two cases. If those who granted self-government to Canada or Australia did not realize that the grant of that right carried with it the right to separate - the right to absolute independence if desired, they failed to know what every statesman! should have known. Let us suppose that the people of Australia decided the connexion between Australia and the mother country should cease, and that decision was indorsed by the two Houses of Parliament, which carried resolutions after a general election on the point in favour of the severance of the tie which binds us to the mother country. How could Great Britain, which gave us the right to manage our own affairs as a free people, with a free Parliament, draw her sword to destroy the aspirations of that free people expressed by that free Parliament? What English statesman would contemplate such a situation?
– Let us apply that argument to the position of Ireland.
– I am just going to do so. I am dealing first of all with the position of Australia ; and if honorable members will give me the opportunity I will deal with the case of Ireland. I am pointing out, in reply to an argument, in which Ireland and Australia are placed on the same basis, that there are distinctions between the two.
– Did not Ireland have a Parliament in 1782, without expressing any desire to separate?
– Quite so. The history. of that Parliament, and of the methods which suppressed it, must be known to the honorable member.
– Certainly. Mr. REID. - No one with the most superficial knowledge of the way in which that Parliament was taken from Ireland can help feeling ashamed at the infamous tactics that were employed. But I wish to return to two points in respect of which there is a vital difference between Ireland and Australia. I should have mentioned first of all that there is no analogy between the condition of Ireland and that of our own self-governing Colonies in reference to the demand for parliamentary institutions. We asked for parliamentary institutions because we had none, and because there was no Parliament of any kind in which we were represented. Australia, as I have said, instead of having a Parliament, had a despot, and had to. choose between the two. Is it a matter for surprise that we should have longed for a Parliament? But Ireland is not in that position. She is not an outcast.
– She is very nearly so.
– She mav not value her representation in the Imperial Parliament-
– Has any attention ever been paid to the voice of the Irish representatives in the British Parliament?
– Ireland may not value her position in the Imperial Parliament ; but the fact remains that on the only basis that the democracy of the Empire acknowledges - the basis of manhood and womanhood, the basis of population - she has a larger share of representation to-day in the British Parliament than have the people of England or of Scotland. The difference between the position of Australia and that of Ireland is that when we sought selfgovernment we had no Parliament and no pretence to a share of representation in any Parliament.
– Surely that was not right.
– I am not saying that it was. I am simply pointing out that on the basis of union - of the three kingdoms being one - this is an important fact. On any other basis my argument would altogether fail. If the position taken up is that Ireland should be an independent community, that she has for centuries prayed for independence, that her aspiration is to be free, and that there should be an Irish’ nation as well as an Irish Parliament, a different line of argument will have to be followed. I am assuming, however, that the Irish people do not wish for independence. I am asuming that they are content to remain within the United Kingdom, and that they do not wish to break off their connexion with the British Parliament. On that basis I say that the British Parliament is one in which’ Ireland holds a fair share of representation. It would be just as wise to ask that Scotland should dominate the British Parliament while she remains one of the three kingdoms, as it would be to ask that Ireland should do so. I wish, however, to point out that Ireland has representation in the grandest of all Parliaments. We may talk of the Canadian Parliament, or of that of Australia; but what are they when compared with the grand Imperial Parliament, which has the destinies of a fifth of the human race within its grasp? Ireland has a share, and a fair share, of representation, in the greatest Parliament the world has ever seen. The agitation ‘now is for a modification of that relationship, and I am willing to take as perfectly loyal and sincere the profession that this desire for an Irish Parliament is not the prelude to a demand for total separation from the mother country. There are grave reasons in the history of Irish political agitation for a belief that, the profession that Home Rule for Ireland is sought only because of a desire for the extension of the parliamentary life of the Empire, and not in order to assert independence and bring about separation, is not as genuine as it might be. There was - a time when any people with the slightest spark of manhood would have rebelled against the English power and the English connexion. There was a time when I should not have stood here for a moment to gainsay the right of the Irish people to any remedy of the wrongs under which they suffered. There is no doubt that the desire to make Ireland a real partner in this great Parliament - the desire to give the Irish people an honest share in the rights and liberties of Englishmen and Scotchmen - has been very tardy. It was in a very tardy and grudging way that the English people of seventy, eighty, or a hundred years ago gave Ireland any sort of share in the rights of free men. If the people of Ireland at such a time had risen in rebellion and cast off the British yoke, no man who respects human rights would have said that they were not entitled to do so. I am happy to say, however, that a different relationship has grown up between the Irish people and the rest of the people of the United Kingdom. Reparation has been tardy, but it has been magnificent. No one can forget the grand part that Gladstone, played in redeeming the character of the British people in their dealings with Ireland - no one can forget that mighty effort which disestablished the dominant .church, then representing only a fraction of the people. No one can forget that Mr. Gladstone
– Was a Home Ruler.
– He was, and his motives in declaring for Home Rule were of the noblest character. There is no doubt that Gladstone’s inspiration was a noble one. He believed that, by extending selfgoverning institutions to Ireland, he would crown the real, true, and lasting union between the Irish people and the people of Great Britain. But I am addressing a House of Parliament in this distant part of the King’s dominions, in which it is proposed to express an opinion in favour of a radical change in the parliamentary institutions of a self-governing community.
– In favour of what Mr. Gladstone advocated.
– The name of Gladstone is one that I revere ; but it should remind us that one of the best inspirations of his policy was the maintenance of Ohe right of people to manage their own affairs. Shall we be managing our own affairs if we at this time interfere in a parliamentary struggle which will presently be submitted to the arbitrament of a General Election in the United Kingdom? There may be members who were sent into this House to express the voice of their constituents on the question of Home Rule for Ireland, but I am not one of them. During the past twenty-five years I have never been asked by my electors one single question on this subject. If I am to vote on it, as the representative of East Sydney, surely I must first know what the electors of East Sydney think in regard to it? My private opinion is quite another matter. Tha seventy-five members of this House can, every one of them, go on to the platforms of Australia, and express their opinions on the subject of Home Rule in the freest way possible. They can address public meetings on the subject; but, in doing so, they will be expressing only their own views and opinions. They have, so far as I know, no right to represent the views of their constituents. The expression of our individual views outside this Chamber is one thing, and the expression of our views as the representatives of the Australian people is another. Our action here should be based only on opinions submitted to our constituents, and after their opinions have been ascertained - not by a secret method, or by guessing or jumping at conclusions - but as the result of open discussion. My honorable friends must admit that if this question be put before the country as a live political issue for the next elections, it would turn Australian politics upside down. Speaking of the constituencies generally, no one can say what their verdict would be in regard to it. We have no right to arrogate to ourselves the power to speak on behalf of the Australian people when they have not authorized us to do so, and when we have not asked for authority to do so. As I have said, we can declare our own opinions on this subject outside, but we have no right to use the name of Parliament in expressing them as if they were the opinions of the people. This issue has never been before the people. I decline to countenance any such action. This discussion will, unhappily, tend to bring the question into the arena of Australian politics. Will not the fact that honorable members voted on this subject here be remembered by their constituents when they review their actions? But do we wish to complicate the burning questions which will have to be settled at the next election in Australia with the question concerning the right sort of Parliament to have in the mother country - whether there shall be one Parliament for England, Scotland, and Ireland, or one for England and Scotland, and another for Ireland ? The issue may come to this : A candidate may say to the Socialists in his constituency - and I have no doubt that in many cases it would be a determining appeal - “I am not a Socialist, Michael ; but I am a Home Ruler”; or “I am a Socialist, Andrew; but I am not a Home Ruler.” I regard the question of Home Rule for Ireland as one which must be left for determination to the good sense and intelligence of the 41,000,000 of the British people. It has nothing to do with the politics of Australia.
– A lot of votes are given now for or against a candidate, according to his religion.
– The honorable member reminds me of a state of things which I think no one wishes to aggravate. The ‘honorable member for .’Gwydir - to show how near we are to sectarian- questions in discussing the subject of Home Rule - when I jocularly mentioned Home Rule a few days ago, seriously exclaimed, “What right have you to raise the sectarian question?” A representative of the people mixes up sectarian issues with the Home Rule question so closely that I could not mention Home Rule without being accused of raising the sectarian issue.
– It was the way in which the right honorable member mentioned Home Rule that made the honorable member for Gwydir exclaim.
– The interjection of the honorable member for the Barrier reminded me of the occurrence, and enables me to add that those who wish to preserve the politics of Australia from side issues should avoid intruding this question of Home Rule. I wish again to emphasize the fact that every member whom I am addressing has a perfect right to talk about Home Rule outside the House. As a British subject, he can hold meetings to advocate it, he can write articles in support of it, and he can seek to influence the people upon in every conceivable way. But in this House
Ave are not authorized by our electors to express their opinions on the subject. We are free to govern Australia; we are free to take up all sorts of matters,, as they arise, in the exigencies of Australian legislation, whether they have been before the electors or not. But I draw a sharp line between the use of our consciences, our judgments, and our advocacy in Australia of Australian reforms, and the arrogation of a right to speak for the 4,000,000 of Australian people on a subject which has nothing to do with Australian politics. Surely if we think we are competent to work out our own destinies, we might give the people of the mother country equal credit for ability to workout their political destinies. Do we think that we can shed a luminous ray of statesmanship upon this troublesome problem by merely expressing our opinion ? For that is all the motion amounts to. It asks that we shall express our individual opinion that Home Rule for Ireland is an advisable thing for the Imperial Parliament to agree to. The vital point on which this question turns is one which the English, Irish, and Scotch people must settle for themselves. It is this : Will the extension of a special Parliament to the Irish people, whilst no special Parliament is extended to the English or Scotch people, strengthen or weaken the tie which unites Ireland with the United Kingdom? As we settle that question, we settle the question of an Irish Parliament. Those who honestly believe that this change will strengthen the tie between Great Britain and Ireland are entitled to advocate it in every way they can, but I say to them, “Advocate it in your own names. Express your own views. Do not put forward the expression of your views as if your constituents had empowered you to express their views, and to express them in the way in which you have expressed your own views.” That isthe strong distinction which I draw. The question whether the granting of a Parliament to Ireland will weaken or strengthenthe relations between Ireland and Great Britain is the vital point. There is nopossibility of a separation between England’ and Ireland so long as the British Empirelasts ; it is inconceivable. Just think onwhat a diminutive base that vast and marvellous superstructure of Empire, whichovershadows the whole earth to-day, rests.. Fracture the base upon which our mighty Empire stands, and you seal the doom. of that Empire. I leave it to the wisdom of the people in the mother country to decide this burning question. It is within the province of their politics, while it is not within the province of our politics. I leave it to them to settle this great problem, which affects the happiness and welfare of the Irish and British people. No man has a more earnest desire than I have that such a settlement may be arrived at as will strengthen and increase the prosperity of Ireland, while preserving the stability of the Empire. I do not think I should act fairly if I did not put the position which I take up plainly before the House, and, in order that honorable members may take a course which will probably be more satisfactory than negativing the motion, or agreeing to the previous question, I have a proposal to make. I thought at one time of moving the previous question; but I felt that such a course might be thought to be unsympathetic with respect to the legitimate aspirations of the Irish people. I have no desire to take up any unkind attitude with respect to that once oppressed and once wronged people. I have no desire to add in the least degree to the misfortunes of that country. But I put the Ireland of to-day before the world as a country which has been treated more generously than any other during the last twenty years. So ardent has been the desire even of the resolute opponents of Home Rule, the Conservative Party of England, to do some long delayed measure of justice to Ireland that the principles of British legislation have been strained to breaking point in favour, not of the dominant power of the landlords and tenants of the great rural districts of England and Scotland, but of the people of Ireland.£100,000,000 of British money have been pledged to place the Irish landlords and tenants in a position that British landlords and tenants have never occupied and never will occupy. That is, I say, a magnificent proof of the generosity of the dominant power, which might have employed the most barbarous methods of past ages for the purpose of oppression and wrong. But in the brighter stage upon which the relations of England and Ireland have entered, we see the unbending Tories forgetting all their principles and prejudices with regard to the ownership of land in their endeavours to place the Irish tenants upon a better footing than they ever occupied before.
– They have put millions of money into the pockets of the landlords.
– But millions of the English people have not landed estates. The honorable member’s statement might apply to a few fortunate gentlemen who have large estates in Ireland, but that daring departure from all maxims of British law in reference to the ownership of land would have been impossible if it had not proceeded from a generous impulse of the whole British people. I look upon that as a sign of brighter days, because the generous treatment of a generous people like the Irish race must yield a rich harvest of goodwill and understanding.
– That was an act of generosity to the Irish landlords, who have been enriched to the extent of£12,000,000.
– That is one view of the matter; but does the honorable member forget the improvements effected in the condition of the Irish tenants. I think that there is some reference in the resolution before us to the enormous benefits conferred on the Irish peasantry, who were at one time in a condition of the utmost misery. We know that now the tenant can stand up against his landlord in the face of the law, and obtain some justice - and generous justice too. In conclusion, I desire to say that no man wishes Ireland a more generous measure of prosperity and contentment than I do, but I leave this question of parliamentary policy and parliamentary change, to the august tribunal of the people of the United Kingdom, and, so far as I am concerned, I shall stand against the intrusion into this Parliament of burning questions which have created so much bad blood and bad feeling in other parts of the Empire. I move as an amendment -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ whilst in full sympathy with every movement calculated to advance the best interests of Ireland, this House declines to petition His Majesty either in favour of or against a change in the parliamentary system which at present prevails in the United Kingdom -
Because this House does not consider such matters within its legitimate province ;
Because they will shortly become issues in an appeal to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland, in which this House has no right to interfere ; and
Because this House confidently relies upon the fairness and wisdom of the British people for the removal of every just Irish grievance in the manner most likely to promote the welfare of the Irish people and the stability of the Empire.”
– On a point of order, may I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker; as to whether the amendment is not in effect a negative of the motion? The right honorable and learned member declines to petition His Majesty, and gives certain reasons for his refusal. I think that we “are entitled to ask honorable members to vote upon the straight clear-cut issue whether they are in favour of the petition or not.
– To my mind, there are three possible issues; one is to declare in favour of the petition as it stands, another is to negative the proposal to petition altogether, and the third possible issue is such a one as that presented by the amendment,’ which comes between the two extremes. That is the position so far as I gather it from having heard the amendment read, and if my impression be correct the amendment is perfectly in order. If, after I have had time to further consider the amendment, I find that it is merely an expanded negative, it will be my duty to rule it out of order. At present I think it is more in the nature of the “ previous question,” and therefore in order.
– I speak upon this question under a great disability, since I am called upon to follow the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney, who has just treated the House to a most eloquent speech. I stand at the further disadvantage of having received from a number of my constituents a request that I should support the motion. I recognise the fact that if I do not comply with their desire I shall excite a considerable amount of animosity in my electorate, which may have a disastrous personal effect in the future. However, I have never hesitated to do what I believe to be right; and, when I remember that some time ago I opposed the motion in favour of petitioning the English Parliament against the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal, on the ground that we had no right to interfere in such matters, I do not see how I can support the present proposal. On the occasion referred to I expressed the opinion that the English Government would treat the petition with con tempt, and my prediction proved to be a true one. In dealing with this matter we must remember that the decision of the Irish people to cast in their lot with Great Britain was arrived at in their own Parliament, and, although it has been asserted that certain members of that Legislature were bought over by Lord Castlereagh, the fact remains that the representatives of the Irish people, of their own free will, deliberately entered into the union. Under, these circumstances, it seems to me that we have no right whatever to interfere. We must also remember that Scotland, which at that time was in exactly the same position as Ireland, has never asked for a Parliament of her own.
– Yes, she has.
– We. know that there are always discontented people in every community, and it is possible that a few Scotchmen may have desired to see a Scotch Parliament established, but there never has been an expression by the Scotch people of a unanimous desire to have a Parliament of their own. It is quite possible that Great Britain may in time grant powers of administration to the Irish people similar to those which are now exercised by the London County Council - a system of, local government which has latterly come much into vogue in Great Britain - but it is not for us to say that the time is ripe for any such change. What does this proposal mean? Does any honorable member suppose that the Irish people will be content to have a local Parliament which will have no voice in matters relating to the army and navy? Is it not recognised that this is merely the thin end of the wedge - that the more the Irish people get, the more they will want? What have the people of Ireland been doing during the last twenty years? They have been agitating for Home Rule, not by legitimate means, but by means of incendiary methods. It cannot be said that the Irish people have been unjustly treated so far as their representation in the British Parliament is concerned. Some time ago, when a redistribution of seats in the British Parliament was proposed, it was established beyond doubt that, in proportion fo population, Ireland possessed more representatives than England, and considerably more than Scotland. If the motion be carried, we shall deliberately invite the Imperial authorities to administer a snub, and we shall deserve it.
Honorable members must remember that I warned them as to what would be the result of forwarding a petition to the Imperial Government on the subject of the introduction of Chinese into’ the Transvaal. It is true that only five honorable members joined with me in voting against that proposal. How was the petition received ? Were we not, in effect, told to mind our own business ? If we adopt this motion I am satisfied that similar treatment will be meted out to us. Are we perpetually to invite “ snubs,” and to remain silent under them ? I do hope that honorable members will exhibit a little common sense upon the present occasion. God knows we have enough to do to mind our affairs, without attempting to interfere in matters which do not concern us. I am perfectly aware that the views which I am expressing will prejudicially affect my position at election time ; but I am indifferent to any such consideration. I maintain that during the past fifteen or twenty years the people of Ireland have received the very greatest consideration at the hands of the British Parliament, and even if I stand alone, I shall be found opposing any motion which contemplates interference by this branch of the Legislature in a matter in which we are not concerned’.
– When the motion in reference to the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa was submitted in this House, I was one of those who protested against it. I take up a precisely similar attitude upon the present occasion. The question of the wrongs of Ireland is one upon which honorable members may hold their individual opinions, but as a deliberative body this House has no right to discuss it. A motion of this character must inevitably engender class bitterness. I hold certain views upon the question of Home Rule for Ireland, but t contend that it is not a matter upon which we should be compelled to vote, inasmuch as it in no way affects the Commonwealth.
– What would the honorable member think if the Imperial authorities closed the Tasmanian Parliament?
– The British Legislature has no power to take any such action. But let me suppose that the House of Commons recommended the people of Tasmania to secede from the Federation.
What would be the effect upon this House ? Why, every member would be heard violently protesting against its action.
– There is no analogy between the two things.
– There is a perfect analogy. In many respects the House of Commons has more right to dictate to us than we have to dictate to it.
– We are not dictating.
– We are attempting to interfere in a matter which does not concern us, and we are endeavouring to coerce members of the House of Commons upon that question.
– By forwarding them a respectful request?
– It is a request - with a bludgeon at their heads. If we agree to this motion, we might just as well adopt a resolution affirming that the crofters in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland should be granted a system of Home Rule.
– They have never asked for it.
– It is true that they have not asked for it, but why should we not take up the question on their behalf? The same remark is applicable to the inhabitants of Wales. From time to time the Welsh people have laboured under many grievances. Surely they have the same right to be cut off from the British Parliament as have the people of Ireland. I protest against any action being taken upon the lines indicated by this motion. We know that for many years the subject of Home Rule for Ireland has been a burning one in British politics.
– It is the weak spot in the British Empire.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. It has been implied that if Home Rule be not granted to Ireland the people of that country will break away from the British Empire. I do not think that thev will. As honorable members are aware, there are two distinct and separate sections in Ireland.
– What are their relative proportions? Would the honorable member allow a minority to rule a majority in Australia ?
– Certainly not. In the north-western corner of Ireland there is the section which is known as the Ulster Irish, and in the southern and south-eastern portions of that country the other section is to be found’. Both sections have rendered yeoman service to the Empire in all parts of the world, and both are entitled to every consideration at the hands of the Imperial Parliament. But I would point out that during recent years the Irish people have been extremely well represented in the House of Commons. As a matter of fact, they are far better represented there than are the people of Wales and Scotland. It is not our province to take cognizance of wrongs which were committed many years ago. We have only to consider the character of recent legislation by the Imperial Parliament to see that determined efforts are being -made to relieve the ills from which Ireland has suffered. The primary object of the Land Purchase Act which is in operation at the present time is to settle the Irish pea- santry upon the soil. That Act is of a most liberal character. The leaders of the Irish party in the House of Commons are perfectly satisfied that Great Britain has dealt with Ireland in a very generous manner indeed.
– Nobody denies that.
– Then the honorable member must admit that a successful attempt has been made to redress the wrongs from which the Irish people previously suffered.
– Still the people of Ireland have a right to demand selfgovernment.
– They wish to revert to the parliamentary days of Grattan - and I am proud to know that I! bear the name of that illustrious man. If Home Rule is to be granted to Ireland, why should it not be granted to Scotland? Why should we not make representations in favour of the people of Scotland being granted a Parliament of their own ? I hold that we have no right to deal with this question, and I regret that it has been brought forward. I have always felt that it is undesirable that the class bitterness which exists in the old land should be stirred up in Australia. It should be our wish to keep ourselves arid our politics free from such matters. We should confine our attention to questions affecting the people of the Commonwealth. Home Rule for Ireland is not a matter that directly affects one individual in Australia, nor can it be said that it affects us externally. It is one that does not come within our sphere ofl external influence, and I therefore protest against such, a motion being submitted to the HouseIf the amendment be in order, I shall certainly support it, and if not, I shall do my best to so amend the motion that honorable members may show by their votes that they feel, not only that this House has no right whatever to deal with the question, but that it is highly undesirable that the Parliament of Australia should be brought into contact with the class bitterness; of the old land.
– -The question that has been put before the House by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, and subsequently by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, is a very prickly one, and, like most prickly things - especially nettles - needs to be firmly grasped. I do not propose to hedge on the advisableness of the Commonwealth Parliament considering the question of Home Rule being granted to a country to which our legislative deliberations do mot extend. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in moving the amendment now before the Chair, very el earl v placed three, facts before the House’. He urged, first of all, that we had absolutely no mandate from the people of Australia to consider this question ; and, secondly, that even if we had, we have no right to interfere. Finally, he contended, with great force, from the point of view of any one who loves the Empire, that it is neither expedient nor wise for the House to meddle in matters over which it has ‘no control. I think that the right honorable member proved each of these contentions up to the hilt. I must say that I regret that the advocates of this proposal have not seen fit to attempt to rebut any of his arguments.
– There is not much to rebut.
– That is entirely a matter of opinion. I believe, however, that the people of the Commonwealth will hold that there is much to be rebutted. Honorable members who have been supporting the motion, arid who, at the inception of the debate, were most anxious to speak, are silent when, argument is met with argument.
– The honorable member surely does not think that the mover of the motion should speak twice?
– He has the right to discuss every amendment that may be submitted.
– Let us take a vote.
– There are some honorable members who dare not speak to the question, and their only desire is that we should’ proceed to a division. Those who were at one time so anxious to speak in support of the motion are now not at all eager to do so, the reason being that the arguments adduced in opposition to it are obviously irrefutable. The question of whether we have a mandate from the people of Australia to deal with this matter is covered by the amendment. I have no hesitation in saying that if any honorable member, were to ‘go before his constituents and tell them frankly that he considered they had instructed him to vote for the motion, they would not be so keen to again intrust him with their confidence. Honorable members may ,go on the public platform and try to educate their constituents up or down to their appreciation of this proposal, but they have no right to attempt to use the House as an educational medium for the people of Australia in respect of questions that do not concern the well-being of the Commonwealth.
– Are we not part of the Empire?
– We are part of the Empire, every self-governing section of which has complete local autonomy.
– Except Ireland.
– Are we yet to learn that Ireland has no representation in the House of Commons? Are we to understand that the States of Australia, because they have not each exclusive control of the Commonwealth, are not represented in the Federal Parliament? Are Victoria and New South Wales not autonomous States? Are not their peoples self-representer”! in the Commonwealth of Australia? And vet the honorable member tells us that Ireland has no Parliamentary representation. He forgets that Ireland is as near to the place of meeting of the Imperial Parliament as is Sydney to the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
– - And that she has more than her fair share of representation in the British Parliament.
– Considerably more. What have we to do with the cry for Home
Rule? We have not yet been told what Home Rule is. A friend of mine, when asked “Are you in favour of Home Rule?” replied, “It largely depends upon what Home Rule is.” Until we know what Home Rule is, how can we be expected to express an opinion upon the question of whether it shall be given to a part of the Empire over which we have no control? The question is not whether Home Rule shall be granted, but whether we ought to obtrude our interference at a critical time, and attempt to unduly influence the electors of another part of the Empire with respect to a matter that concerns them, and them alone. Those who have dealt at length with the maltreatment - and I use the word “maltreatment” advisedly - which the people of Ireland suffered in centuries gone by at the hands of the mother country, may well be asked whether they can find in the long range of history the case of any country which, in the centuries long passed, did not maltreat its dependencies, or its people. Let us look, for example, at France, and endeavour to ascertain whether there is any demand on the part of the descendants of the Huguenots for separation from the central authority. We find among those people nothing but the most loyal devotion to the great country of which they form a part. In the great heart of the Irish people, when it is untroubled by political agitation, we also find expressions of the most loyal devotion to the inspiration andi ideal of Empire, and satisfaction with Ireland’s part in the Empire. Do honorable members opposite deny that that is so? Their silence shows that they know that my statement is correct. If the matter be not sufficiently clear to honorable members, they have only to look at the motion which has been put before the House. It begins -
We, Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal sub.jects, the members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and- devotion to Your Majesty’s person and Government.
Can they speak on Home Rule on behalf of their electors?
– Where did’ they get the mandate?
– That is the point. The motion continues -
We have observed with feelings of profound satisfaction the evidence afforded by recent legislation and recent debates in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, of a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland -
This, I believe, is the blarney-stone ; but if those responsible for the’ motion have sincerely used these words, they are surely prepared to leave to this beneficent authority, which is now ready, according to their own statement, to deal with Ireland fairly, the destinies and future prosperity of that country, which we all wish well. As if these words were not sufficient, the motion continues - and in particular we congratulate the people of the United Kingdom on the remarkable Act directed towards the settlement of the land question, and on the concession .to the people of Ireland of a measure of local government for municipal purposes.
It has been said by an honorable member, who has spoken in support of the motion - I think it was the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne - that Home Rule for Ireland does not mean absolute separate autonomy for that country.
– Of course not.
– The motion itself declares that those honorable members who tell us that they do not wish Ireland to have complete autonomy are congratulating the people of the United Kingdom on having granted to the people of that country a measure of local government for municipal purposes.
– What of that?
– It shows that the Parliament, which it is proposed to insult with the concluding sentences of_ this message, is prepared to deal justly with the people of Ireland, and has already agreed that a considerable measure of that partial autonomy, of which the framers of the motion say they are in favour, shall be granted to her. _ I think it is clear from the opening sentences of the motion that those responsible for it feel that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is eminently fitted to deal, and to deal justly, with the people of Ireland. Having that view. I entirely fail to understand the reason for the insult comprised within the concluding sentences of the proposed petition.
– Read them.
– The motion goes on to say that -
The sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland.
Those who are responsible for the motion say in one sentence that the Imperial Par-;, liament is eminently just, and anxious to deal with the question of Ireland’s wrongs, and in another that no British Parliament can deal with the question. Surely that is a most extraordinary contradiction. Are honorable members sincere when they say that they have observed in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom “ a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland, “ and add that “no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland “ ? Are those honorable gentlemen casuistical? Do they put both statements in order that they may snare voters, or are they unable to make up theft minds as to which statement is true?
– They should abide by one statement or the other.
– Yes. As has been pointed out, although we are asked to express our opinion on this subject as “the members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled,” we have no mandate to deal with it from the people whom we represent. Why, then, should an obvious misstatement be made in this proposed humble address to His Majesty the King? Surely, if we owe anything to the constitutional head of this great Empire, it is to fearlessly tell the truth - if, indeed, we do. not owe that duty to our self-respect and the sense of conscience which even politicians may be expected to possess. But the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne does not ask for absolute local autonomy for Ireland, although he speaks of us as “enjoying and appreciating the blessings of Home Rule,” and therefore asking for similar advantages for that country. All he asks for is “ that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted to the people of Ireland.” What is “a just measure of Home Rule “ ? Again, we are told that the people of Ireland have asked for Home Rule through their representatives. Where are those representatives asking for it ? Are they asking for it in Australia, where, we can Hear them, or in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, in the heart, of the Empire, where the people of the United Kingdom can hear them? Are we in as good a position to know how “clearly,” “insistently,” and “continuously” they are asking for Home Rule as are the members of the Imperial Parlia ment, to whom, and among whom, they are making this request? Surely the Parliament of the United Kingdom is better able to deal with and decide this question than is the Parliament of Australia. I sincerely believe in the absolute loyalty and devotion of the Irish people, and am proud of the fact that I am descended from Irish stock. Therefore, I ask, why should it be inferred that, if the request of the people of Ireland for Home Rule is not granted, they will do something which may imperil the “peace and integrity of the Empire” to which I believe they, as well as we, are proud to belong? The motion contains a series of contradictions, which should justify any deliberative assembly in rejecting it.
– Such a motion should not be moved in this Parliament until the people of Australia have expressed their opinions on the subject.
– Exactly, and I intend, when I continue my remarks on a future occasion, to put that view very strongly before honorable members. The movers of the motion say -
It is our desire for the solidarity and permanence of the Empire, as a power making for peace and civilization, that must be our excuse for submitting to Your Majesty this respectful petition.
The petitioners, then, themselves admit that an “excuse” is necessary for this proposed offensive interference with the selfgoverning rights of another part of the Empire !
– What sort of excuse will they make to their constituents, who have not authorized them to deal with this question?
– They seem anxious to pass a motion which will appease all sections. It is a singular thing that those who profess to be satisfied that the Imperial Parliament intends to deal justly and properly with Ireland are the men who propose this gratuitous interference with the self-governing rights of Great Britain.
– I am sorry that a man with the good name of Kelly should stonewall a motion of this kind.
– I am surprised that an honorable member of the name of Higgins should draft a motion so full of casuistry. If he regards this question as so urgent, and has the welfare of the people of Ire land so much at heart, why does he not resign his seat in this House and himself lead a crusade in Great Britain to obtain from the electors of that Parliament, in whose trustworthiness and inherent goodness he has expressed so much confidence, the alleged rights which the eloquence of the representatives of Ireland in that Parliament have been unable to obtain for her? I ask leave to continue my remarks on the resumption of the debate.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
SUPPLY (Formal). 9
Standing Orders Committee : Limitation of Speeches - Federal Capital Site - Immigration Restriction Act - Customs Valuation of Imports.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– In the ordinary course of parliamentary business, the Government have the control of business and the power to arrange the subjects which shall engage the attention of honorable members, and I am very glad that this wise provision has been made to enable honorable members of all parties to discuss matters of public importance which do not happen to present themselves for consideration in the ordinary course of public business.
– Then the honorable member would not have dispensed with this arrangement under the new Standing Orders which he intended to propose.
– I have such a painful sense of the value of public time, and of the manner in which honorable members opposite waste it by making ill-timed interjections, that I decline to be drawn off the track of my observations to discuss trivialities with the honorable member. Although my present position in this Chamber is not precisely the same that it was a few months ago, I still retain the views I expressed when I occupied the position of leader of the Government. Although it may seem to militate against the interests of the Opposition, I am prepared to give the present Government the same earnest support that I would have accorded to the members of mv own party, if they grapple with the difficulty arising from the delivery of unduly long addresses in this Chamber. It will be impossible for us to acquire a reputation for ‘business aptitude, and for the despatch of public business in a proper way, unless the expression of the individual views of honorable members on various questions which come up for discussion are regulated by some standard, and limited in some manner. I am glad to say that my late honorable colleague, the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who practically represented the late Government on the Standing Orders Committee, has bestowed considerable attention upon this question. I do not know whether lie has brought the result of his labours before the Standing Orders Committee.
– Yes, I did do so ; but the Committee did not think too much of them, and therefore did not adopt my proposals.
– I understand that my honorable friend’s object was to arrive at some method of limiting the length of speeches in this Chamber. Viewing this question entirely apart from its party aspect, I would strongly urge the Government, without waiting for the full consideration of the Standing Orders, to grapple wilh the difficulty. I admit that one of the obstacles in the way of dealing with the Standing Orders in the course of a busy session arises from the fact that they present innumerable topics for discussion, and must therefore occupy a large amount of valuable time. At the same time, I consider that the House will continue to occupy an altogether wrong position until a wellthoughtout and complete code of Standing Orders is adopted. It is a reflection upon this Parliament that, although over four years have elapsed since the establishment of the parliamentary government of the Commonwealth, we are still at the mercy of temporary Standing Orders, which, were intended merely to fill up a gap until we could get into working order and adopt a complete set of Standing Orders v adapted to our requirements. I was exposed to considerable ridicule because I laid great stress upon this subject, hut I have no hesitation in saying as leader of the Opposition what I stated as the head of the late Government, namely, that the business of the Commonwealth Parliament will never be properly considered or despatched until we have a proper set of Standing Orders. It is easy to employ ridicule in attacking those who are taking up a sensible attitude, and I think that ridicule was never more misapplied than in connexion with my endeavour to place in the forefront of the Ministerial programme the question of new Standing Orders. I do not think that any honorable member on this side of the House has occupied the attention of honorable members for more than three hours at anyone time this session. I most nearly approached that limit in my speech on the Bonus for Manufactures Bill, which occupied two hours and three-quarters. With that exception, I do not think that any member of the Opposition has occupied more than one hour and a half at any one time.
– The honorable mem* ber for Macquarie occupied four hours on one occasion.
– That was prior to the current session. That was when the honorable member was speaking .from my notes on the Tariff, and the incident has become ancient history. We were all very excited on the subject of the Tariff, and perhaps we expressed our views at inordinate length. So far as the present session is concerned, I think I may say that the members of the Opposition have not so far abused their rights as members by making speeches of inordinate duration.
– Some of them speak very frequently.
– During the last month I have done what I never did before. I have actually read through the Hansard reports, and I wish to say that I never read a collection of abler speeches in connexion with’ ordinary topics of legislation than those delivered by honorable members on this side of the House. Their deliverances were pregnant with the most cogent arguments in- favour of the views they were advocating, and there was an entire absence of ill-feeling. In fact, I think my honorable friends had a tendency -to minimize the evils of the present Administration, and the incapacity shown by the Minister of Trade and Customs to understand the measures which he had introduced. I think that my honorable friends carried political generosity to an extreme in the mildness of their criticisms of the Government in connexion with the provisions of the Commerce Bill. I do not wish to rebuke my honorable friends for their forbearance, because I think that is an admirable duality. No Opposition ever performed its duty of intelligent and mode- rate criticism more efficiently and more reasonably than did my honorable friends. When the late Government were in office under the mistaken idea that they were occupying their position subject to a written understanding with some honorable members - that turned out to be a chimerical notion - they were exposed to speeches from honorable members then sitting on this side of the Chamber, two of which occupied four hours each, or a total of eight hours - the period which the present Prime Minister very properly allots to the parliamentary day’s work. The honorable member for Darling, who, I am sure, has endeared himself to all honorable members, especially by the kindness of his references to “our travelling arrangements, (and the honorable member for Gwydir, who is not so capable of the friendly emotions of human nature, but who has many excellent qualities, delivered speeches on matters of no importance which together occupied nearly nine hours. I do not suppose that during the whole of his public career the “VicePresident of the Executive Council, who supports the dignity of his onerous office with becoming modesty and with a due sense of shame, and who is one of the most brainy among the silent members of Parliament, has consumed so much time as was occupied by the two honorable members referred to in discussing side issues. In fact, their exertions have produced such an unhappy effect upon them that they have since been mentally paralyzed. Who would now expose the honorable member for Darling or the honorable member for Gwydir to the cruelty of a five hours’ speech ? Irrespective of all these party considerations, and of the question of what sort of men are in office, I say that no Government will ever be able to render a proper account of their trust as leaders in the performance of parliamentary and legislative duty until they adopt some means or other to curtail the abuse of the privilege of speech. I am glad to say that no such abuse has occurred during the reign of the present Administration. That fact is entirely owing to the character for political sagacity and moderation borne by honorable members on this side of the House. They have carried the high traditions of the late Administration even into the cold shades of Opposition, and the present Government have not been exposed to the strain of speeches of four or five hours in length. I hope the
Government will take the same view that I do as to the urgency of introducing a complete code of Standing Orders. I do not at all appreciate the marvellous devices which are being sprung upon an astonished Parliament by the Standing Orders Committee. I could understand the Committee laying upon the table a set of Standing Orders aimed at speeches of undue length, which have been the curse of all Australian Parliaments; but, as a matter of fact, the Committee have no new proposals to make beyond one of a remarkable character, which has excited the ridicule and contempt of the whole of the Australian people. Where is the inconvenience in forming a quorum if there are twenty-five honorable members within the precincts of the House ? It simply imposes on those honorable members who do not happen to be present at the particular moment when the bells are rung, the trouble of walking from one or other of the ante-rooms into the Chamber. If honorable members are in their party rooms, they have merely to walk a few yards in order to make their appearance here. If they are in the billiard-room, the refreshmentroom, the writing-room, or the library, the only inconvenience to which they are exposed is that of having to walk a few yards. The Constitution is very clear upon this subject. It declares that, in the absence of legislative provision to the contrary, the attendance of twenty-five” out of seventy - five members shall be necessary for the transaction of public business. I should be the last individual in the world to be so unreasonable as to suggest that twenty-five honorable members ought to be in the Chamber every moment that the House is sitting. But in view of the express direction contained in the Constitution. I do say that, if any honorable member draws attention to the fact that the statutory number of members is not present, a quorum should be formed. Why should a novel standing order be proposed to meet the convenience of four or five honorable members who wish to absent themselves from the’ proceedings of this Chamber? lt strikes me as being one of the most ludicrous efforts at reform of which 1 have ever heard. Instead of drawing the bands tighter, it is actually proposed to make them looser. Under the operation of the suggested Standing Order, honorable members might remain for hours outside the Chamber, attending either to their own private business or to public affairs, whilst the House continued to transact the business of the country with only five or six honorable members present, so long as the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees was satisfied that there was a quorum within the precincts of the House. Thus, while five or six honorable members might be in the billiard-room, another five or six in the refreshment-room, a similar number in the library and the party-rooms, and five or six more in the vaults engaging in gymnastic exercises, under this precious Standing Order business could proceed so long as the Speaker was satisfied that a quorum was within the precincts of the building. Is that the sort of reform that we ought to expect from the Government? Surely one of the reasons why excellent work should now be done is to be found in the fact that the Government occupy an invidious position. Here . is a Ministry which, outside of itself, numbers only four or five supporters in its own party. Surely honorable gentlemen in that position might hope to make up for the ignominy of it by endeavouring to improve the methods of transacting public business. But the onlyemanation of their genius in reference to the conduct of parliamentary business is a suggestion to render the easy life of honorable members still more. easy, by making the transaction of public business in the absence of a quorum equivalent to its transaction in the presence of a quorum. I believe that we shall hear no more of that proposal. It has apparently- been buried. If the Government had been in earnest about it they would have submitted that Standing Order by itself, and have brought it into operation without delay. But they felt - and properly so–that they had made a false step, and that there was only one method of escape from it, namely, by burying this new-fangled idea in 400 or 500 other orders, so that we should, for some time to come, hear no more about it. I say again that if any honorable member upon this side ‘of the House occupied four or five hours in delivering a speech - as some honorable members opposite did when I was in office - I would heartily applaud the Government if they submitted a Standing Order to put an end to such an abuse of privilege. No man has a right to occupy such a large share of the public time. I should not speak so long as I do, but for the fact that I am verv” frequently absent from the House, and that I do not often occupy its time. I would, however, always attach a safeguard to the time limit. I would make that limit a thoroughly liberal one, and I would attach to it a provision that, without debate, the question might be put to the House or Committee - “ That the honorable member be further heard.” If any honorable member were addressing himself to a subject of large importance and complexity, which called for a speech beyond the usual limits, I am sure that the sense of fairness of the House would immediately allow the Standing Order to be relaxed. We all know that in the warmest conflicts that have taken place in this House, the moment an appeal has been made to the fairness of honorable members, that appeal has never been in vain. With such a safeguard as I have indicated, a time limit might very well be imposed upon speeches. However, the urgency of this matter seems to have disappeared, since my honorable friends have gone over to the other side of the Chamber. Before I conclude my remarks, there is one matter to which I wish to refer, because since I last addressed myself to it, I have had an opportunity of considering the difficulty which was then presented to me by, the Prime Minister. I refer to the settlement of the trouble connected with the Federal Capital. I had never previously, considered the difficulty as to whether it was within our power to pass a measure which would give the High Court an opportunity of settling such questions as those involved, by means of some friendly arrangement. Of course, I do not pretend to express any very weighty opinion, because I recognise that there are members in this House who have studied constitutional, matters much more thoroughly than I have done. Nevertheless, I have taken an opportunity of referring to our Constitution upon this subject, and I should like to express the opinion at which I have arrived in reference to the powers which we, by legislation, can confer upon the High Court. I am sorry to see in the newspapers a statement by the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that he considers that a recent communication from the Prime Minister frustrates the hope of a peaceful settlement of these difficulties.
– He goes on to say that that is due to mv entertaining a different view of the law from himself.
– I suppose that the correspondence will be made public.
– I have written to him expressing my willingness to allow it to be made public.
– I hope that the Prime Minister has not been advised that it is beyond our powers to pass a Bill to enable this vexed question to be settled.
– Oh, no - quite the contrary. In explanation, perhaps, I may be allowed to say-
– Order ! This is not question time.
– I think that, with the consent of the House, the Prime Minister might be allowed a certain amount of latitude.
– I am very much opposed to any step being taken which will establish a precedent, and that a very bad precedent. The House is not in Committee. Perhaps the Prime Minister might give the desired information in the form of a brief interjection.
– When the right honorable member was speaking the other evening, I interjected that my idea was that a short Bill should be passed, connected with the Act already on the statute-book, which would enable all the questions, which the Premier of New South Wales desires to raise, to be raised before the Court. I am still of that opinion, and I have offered to take action in the matter. .
– I am1 extremely glad to hear the Prime Minister’s statement. I do not think that I could add any weight to the learned advice “that he Has received, but having carefully considered the section in the Constitution which relates to the Seat of Government, I have come to the conclusion that no real difficulty should be experienced in the way of an appeal to the High Court. Of course there is the technical view that the ordinary working of the machinery of that tribunal is by means of litigation and contest; but I do not think that I am expressing a very strange opinion when I say that its higher function is to settle any matter connected with the Constitution which involves a difficulty of interpretation, or in respect of which there is a conflict of judgment, as between the Commonwealth and the States. What possible objection can there be when the two parties interested agree to invite a friendly decision by this judicial tribunal? It would be only the most technical and lawyer-like mind which could imagine difficulties in the way of such a Bill being passed as the
Prime Minister suggests. If the Premier of New South Wales does not entertain the overtures which, I understand, the Prime Minister has made, to the effect that some such measure should be passed in order to enable this vexed question to be referred to the High Court, I shall be profoundly disappointed. I think that our experience in reference to matters of conflict between the Commonwealth and the States is sufficiently painful to compel us to adopt the most amicable and peaceful method of settling in every case the question in dispute. I can conceive of no more fair method of deciding the question in dispute in reference to the Seat of Government than that of an agreement between the parties to the dispute to submit a special case to the High1 Court, in which both sides could be heard.
– We can drive a survey peg, and the Government of New South Wales can challenge our action and sue us for so doing.
– I saw the difficulty associated with that proposal, and mentioned it. It might be met by an agreement to regard the Act in a certain light, but the initial difficulty which attends the driving of a peg in New South Wales territory is that we can drive a stake to determine the site of the Capital only within territory which has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
– We shall get a decision on that point by driving the stake.
– I should not care if the State would accept that act as being sufficient to bring the matter before the High Court. I am not at all concerned with the mere formal method of bringing the question before the Court, for there should be no difficulty in regard to it. My difficulty in reference to the proposal to drive a stake is that, under the Constitution, the determination of the site of the Capital hinges upon a prior consideration - the acquisition by the Commonwealth either bv grant or purchase, of a territory. Until we have a territory we cannot have a sits for the Capital.
– That would be precisely the first question to come before the High Court.
– Section 125 of the Constitution provides that -
The seat of the Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament -
That is a matter, as we put it, for the determination of the Federal Parliament - and shall be -
This hinges on our determination - within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
That marks the next step. We may determine the site of the Capital whenever we please. The moment we pass a Bill declaring that the Federal Capital shall be in a certain locality, we exercise our constitutional power. We have the right to take that step without any reference, except in a friendly way, to the State of New South Wales ; but dependent upon the taking of that step is another stage which certainly concerns the people of New South Wales, and in respect of which they have a right - unless the .Commonwealth Government takes action under the Property Acquisition Act - to be consulted. That Act confers on the Commonwealth Government the right to acquire land for any public purpose, and it is wide enough, I think, to allow of the exercise of the powers necessary to the Commonwealth when determining upon a Capital site. But until this Parliament had determined on a particular site, it would be idle for the Commonwealth Government to look for a territory. The Parliament must first decide where the Capital is to be. The next step is one regarding which there should be consultation between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales, for the Capital can be only in territory that has been granted or acquired. That being so, the Commonwealth Government cannot drive a stake into any part of New South Wales that does not form portion of the territory granted to or acquired by it.
– I agree that we cannot do so effectively now ; but, by passing a short machinery Bill, which I have suggested to the Premier of New South Wales, we shall be able to drive a survey peg so as to raise that very issue, as well as all the other issues which depend upon it.
– I am pointing out that we can drive a stake only in territory that has been granted to or acquired by us.
– We can put. that point in issue .by the short machinery Bill to which I have referred, and the High Court will determine whether or not we have this power.
– Do the Commonwealth Government contend that, after the Par liament has decided where the Capital shall be, they may - without having acquired or obtained a grant of land from New South Wales - drive in a peg in New South Wales territory? I doubt whether the Commonwealth Government have that power. It is, at all events, a question for our serious consideration.
– I claim that when we pass the Bill I have mentioned, we shall be able to do so. In any event, the honorable and learned member’s contention that we cannot do so will then be decided. By passing, a little machinery Bill, we shall assert, at all events, a colorable right to take thisstep, and the High Court will decide whether or not we can legally do so.
– Unless the course adopted were the result of friendly mutual arrangement, it might put the Commonwealth Government in a false position.
– I have been endeavouring to secure that arrangement.
– I admit that anything can> be made a pretext for a friendly settlement ; but I should like to warn the Federal Government against taking a step with respect to which they must be defeated, unless a mutual arrangement has been arrived at. I would warn the Government against taking such a step in the absence of any such agreement, because, so far as I can see, until territory in New South Wales shall have been granted to, or acquired by, the Commonwealth, the Federal Government will have no power to drive a stake into a single inch of New South Wales territory. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth Parliament has a right to pass a Bill determining where the Capital shall “be. But the Constitution then steps in, and says, in effect: “After the Commonwealth Parliament has decided where the Capital is to be, it cannot exercise rights of ownership or occupation in New South Wales for the purposes of the Capital, except it acquires, or has had granted to it, the territory which it desires.”
– Unless we pass a machinery Bill, making the present Act effective for this very purpose. That, at all events, is our contention; and it will be settled by the High Court.
– Whilst we can do a great many things, no Act passed bv this Legislature can . alter the rights of New South Wales under the Constitution. In spite of any Act we may pass, New South Wales has the constitutional right to say to the Commonwealth - “ You may select your site ; that is a matter to be determined by yourselves. We have no objection to your doing so, but it is, after all, only a preliminary step. Once you have selected your site, that selection must remain in abeyance, so far as New South Wales is concerned, until you have gone further, under section 125 of the Constitution, and have had granted to you or have acquired, under the Property Acquisition Act, a legal basis of occupancy.” The only way in which the Commonwealth can occupy an inch of New South Wales is by exercising some right which it possesses under the Constitution. The Constitution declares that the Seat of Government shall be determined by the Commonwealth Parliament, and it then goes on to deal with a matter regarding which the Federal Government is not supreme, unless it exercises certain powers under the Property Acquisition Act. The grant can come only from the Government of New South Wales. The word “ grant “ implies the giving of land by the owner, which’, in this case, is New South Wales. The Commonwealth can acquire the land only by mutual arrangement or by the exercise of statutory powers. There appears to be no chance of a mutual arrangement being .arrived at, because, I understand, the Parliament of New South Wales objects to the selection of Dalgety. The next point is that, since a mutual arrangement is impossible, New South Wales must either grant, or we must acquire, under our own statute, the territory within which we propose to establish the Federal Capital. So far as this point is concerned, I think that New South Wales would be successful before the High Court. Let us suppose that, having selected Dalgety, under our undoubted constitutional powers, we proceed to drive a stake in a piece of land in the neighbourhood1. That might be done by the consent of New South Wales. But, assuming that there was no such’ assent - assuming that the selection was opposed by the Parliament of New South Wales - then, in the absence of the acquisition of property under the Act to which I have already referred, or of a grant by the Parliament of New South Wales, the driving of a stake by our representative would clearly be an unauthorized act. In dealing with this question, which has excited so much feel ing, I should be very sorry to see the Commonwealth take any sort of step, except by consent, in the direction of the assertion of a right to interfere with the territory of New South Wales, because it would be a step which the High Court would have to repudiate. That would be a false step which no one would desire to see the Government take.
– I am advised that if we drove a peg in connexion with a survey, for the purposes of the Act now on our statute-book, we should, if we had the necessary machinery already provided by means of a short Bill, raise the very issues to which the honorable member has referred, in such a form that the High Court could determine them.
– As I have not seen the Bill in question, I cannot express a definite opinion in regard to that point, but I wish to emphatically warn the Government against taking a step that might be found ultimately to be unauthorized.
– That is what we are anxious to avoid.
– In the meantime I arn anxious that the question should be settled. The sooner we close up and heal these sores, wherever they occur, the better for the Commonwealth and the States. I suggest to the Prime Minister that it would be well for him to take the House as fully as possible into his confidence, and that on receipt of a letter, which is not of a confidential character, from the Premier of New South Wales, he should put it before honorable members, and so keep us in touch with the progress of negotiations. There is a very strong feeling in New South Wales that the matter is being played with.
– The correspondence will show that it is not.
– I am sure that the Government do not wish that to be the case.
– I have written to-day to the Premier of New South Wales, stating that I shall be most happy to have the correspondence made public as soon as he pleases.
– I pass now from this to another matter which relates to the Department of Trade and Customs. I am sorry that the Minister is not present, but I am quite satisfied that he is engaged elsewhere in the discharge of public duties.
– He will be here presently.
– I wish to bring under the attention of the Government the question of the valuation of harvesters. My desire is to avoid the introduction of any sort of party feeling, and to deal with this case from the highest possible stand-point. I am sure that it is to the interest of any Government to inspire in the minds of the community a feeling that, whatever its fiscal views may be, it is anxious honestly to administer the Tariff and to act just as fairly to importers as to any one else. It is to the interests of any Government to show that the Department of Trade and Customs, in its administration of Statute law, knows no bias - that the rights of every man, no matter how humble or inoffensive he may be, are fairly considered. I stronglyurge the Prime Minister 1o recall the facts of this case. If any one had told me that in Australia an interested party could walk into the Customs House, and cause to be altered the decision of the. Department, which had been established by a previous Minister, after inquiries had been conducted in Canada, South America, and South Australia, I should have hesitated to believe it. I thoroughly admire the enterprise of the McKays, in connexion with the Sunshine harvesters. I do not wish to associate myself with any unfriendliness to a firm which, I think, has shown a marvellous amount of invention and enterprise. I look upon a man who invents an improved method–
– The McKays did not do that. An Australian firm was using the invention long before the McKays used it.
– The McKays have done as much pirating of inventions as any firm in the world has done.
– A South Australian firm used the same principle years ago.
– I do not wish to give undeserved praise, neither do I desire to do injustice. I can speak only according to my own knowledge and belief. I do not know of the pirating referred to. If there has been any, I have no sympathy with it.
– I do not think it is right to. say that the firm has pirated.
– I am afraid that it has.
– I will not find any one guilty of piracy until it has been proved against him. My impression of the McKays is a most favorable one, and I regard their business as a grand Australian industry, which I do not wish to see crippled. But it is a matter of serious concern to the public that an Australian manufacturer, however estimable, has been allowed to go into the Customs House, and cause the decision of a previous Minister, come to after a full inquiry and the most careful consideration of all the facts available, to Le altered without an opportunity being given to the firm prejudicially affected thereby to answer the representations made by him.
– The alteration was not made until the officers of the Department had advised: that it should be made.
– I have the greatest respect for the officers of our public departments. My own antecedents, as a one-time public servant, cause me to feel greaf respect foc the public servants of Australia, and I have not a word to say against them. But they are only human, like the rest of us. The point I am making is that the books of the Massey-Harris Company were closely investigated by one of the highest officers in the Customs Department of Canada, the investigation concerning not only the profits and quotations of the particular machines imported into Australia, but the basis of cost and profit applied to all the firm’s manufactures, and the result was a certificate to the honesty of the firm’s valuations.
– The officers of our Customs Department had suspected for years that those machines were being undervalued for Customs purposes. It was nosudden suspicion.
– But I cannot understand a public officer making one recommendation to one Minister, and another recommendation to another Minister only two months later.
– Later information was available then.
– If a Minister altered his decision within two months, he would be asked to give the reason, and I think that the officers of the Department should explain why they altered their recommendation in this case. At first they stated that £38 10s. was a fair valuation.
– At that time they could not prove that the machines were worth more.
– The statement was madeafter the Customs Department of Canada had assisted the Common wealth Government in the investigation to which I have referred, Let me put the case without referring to the Sunshine harvester, or any particular article of manufacture. TheGovernment had a doubt in respect to the- valuations of an importer, and asked for information as to the value of the import from the Customs authorities of the country of manufacture. The books of the manufacturer were’ thoroughly investigated, and the report received was that the valuation was an honest one. But the Government did not stop at that. They were not satisfied with the information received from Canada, and they telegraphed, through the Governor-General, to Buenos Ayres, whence they obtained confirmatory opinions from the -British Consul. Then they investigated the books of Messrs. Clutterbuck, at Adelaide, to whom for many years the Massey-Harris people had been selling their machines. The honorable member for Gippsland exhausted every means of information available in Canada, South America, and South Australia, and was satisfied with the recommendation of his officers that the valuations of the importing firm were correct. A change of Government occurred, however, and on the representations of a rival manufacturer, who said that he had received a. letter from a man in Italy, the same officers without referring the matter to the firm whose actions were in question, accepted the statement of this interested person, and a new Minister brought into operation a section of the Customs Act which prevents them from going into open Court to prove their innocence. That is a monstrous state of things. Such action on the part of the Department does not inspire confidence. Of course, Ministers are responsible for the actions of their officers, but I am putting the blame on the officers of the Department to meet the interjection to which I am replying. After the thorough investigation to which I have referred, the officers of the Department reversed their original recommendation, because of the representation of an interested business rival to the firm affected. If a free-trader like the honorable member for North Sydney had been Minister of Trade and Customs, and, on representations made bv an importer behind the back of an Australian manufacturer, had reversed the decision of a protectionist predecessor, come to after thorough inquiry, bringing into operation a section of the Customs Act, preventing that manufacturer from vindicating himself, the country would have rung with justifiable indignation.
– Is not the Minister going to give the Massey-Harris
Company an opportunity to vindicate themselves ?
– In administering the laws of the country we must not be biased by personal feeling. We desire that the highest standard of administration shall be set. If the protectionists wish to increase the duty on harvesters, there is an honorable and honest way to do so. This method of acting unjustly to an importer cannot commend itself to those who are anxious for the maintenance of the purity of our Departmental administration. The Minister of Trade and Customs has made a statement to this House on the subject which ‘has placed a different complexion upon it, and we on this side said at the time, “That is a very fair proposition.” So long as the right thing is done, we do not wish to make too much of any little error that may have been committed in doing it. The Minister of Trade and Customs promised to give these people an opportunity to prove their bond fides, by showing that the Department was wrong, and that they were right. I have been led to fear that that opportunity is to be denied, though I do not credit the rumour. I accept the statement of the Minister made in the presence of honorable members.
– Not after what happened last night?
– I must deal with one thing at a time. I do not wish to import side issues into this matter. I am making an appeal to the Government for the honest administration of the laws of the Commonwealth, and I do not wish to prejudice it by making observations which may awaken controversy.
– Last night’s proceedings show that the Minister’s word cannot be taken.
– We can deal with that matter by-and-by. I wish to deal with the subject on which I am speaking entirely by itself. I hope that the Minister will perform his promise to give this firm an opportunity to show their bona fides by a proper legal investigation. If they have done wrong, we do not wish to shelter them.- We do not carry our fiscal preferences so far as to wish to shield importers who have defrauded the revenue. But if we have regard to our own reputation, we must pay a similar regard to the reputation of others. If this firm have been cheating the Customs, they have, considering the investigations which have been made, proved themselves most elaborate swindlers, and I do not care how heavily they may be punished. But it is beneath the dignity of the Commonwealth to keep them in their present position longer than is absolutely necessary. I have never seen or had the remotest intercourse with any member of the firm. I do not know them, nor do I wish to know them. Information has been conveyed to me that the Massey-Harris Company invited the Government to send an officer to Adelaide to inspect the books of Messrs. Clutterbuck, who buy these machines from them. A Customs officer was despatched to Adelaide and was afforded an opportunity to go through the books of the firm there. 1 am given to understand that he found that the Massey-Harris Company, who import the harvesters in Melbourne at a Customs valuation of ^38 10s., absolutely sell them to Messrs. Clutterbuck in Adelaide at £40 each. Now, this firm might have had an opportunity of compromising this matter. I do not wish to break confidence too far, but I believe that if they had chosen to confess themselves guilty, by consenting to a compromise, they could have done so ; but thev very naturally - and I think very honorably - declined to arrive at any compromise. They refused to accept a proposal that the valuation for duty purposes should be reduced by £10, that is to say, from £65 10 £55- That offer was made to them by the Customs authorities some few days ago. I do not suggest that the offer was conveyed officially or formally, but it was made to the Massey-Harris Company through their solicitor. In the course of an interview which that gentleman had with the Comptroller-General, it was put to him in this way, “What about making the value .£55 ? “ That would bring the valuation down by £10. The solicitor, I think very fairly and honestly, absolutely refused to accept any compromise with regard to the valuation of the article. If the facts be as I have stated- and I have every reason to believe that I have been correctly informed - the Massey-Harris Company acted, in a perfectly honest manner, their desire being that the whole question should be tested. Mr. McKay, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, at question 16422, stated that the value of the harvesters delivered by the Massey-Harris Company in Buenos Ayres was £60. Sworn in* voices, covering several years’ exportations of harvesters to Buenos Ayres, have been sent out from Toronto, in Canada. I have the invoices, which were handed to me, not by the Massey-Harris Company, but by an honorable member of this House. The notarial certificate - the sworn declaration - identifies every one of the invoices, which show that in the early stages of the export business, the value of the harvesters was a little higher than at present. Some invoices for 1902 show that the value placed on the machines was $240, which, roughly speaking, would be equivalent to about £4%. That was at a time when the business was in its infancy, and orders were limited. There are other invoices, covering the last two years, and dating from 22nd August, 1903, onwards, which show that the price at which the harvesters have been delivered in Buenos Ayres by the MasseyHarris Company is $225, or about £45. I understand that these sales were on credit, instead of for cash. The $225 is the f.o.b. price, and that seems to have been the rule throughout the two years. I do not wish to attribute any intentional mis-statements to Mr. McKay. I shall assume that he was misinformed. But it is strange that a man who ought to have known the facts so well should have been so misled. According to his sworn evidence, the value of these machines delivered in Buenos Ayres was £60, or £15 over and above the value given in the sworn invoices covering a period of two years. I wish to put the matter in the fairest way as regards Mr. McKay, and I am willing to assume that he was deceived. The facts, however, only tend to show how dangerous it is for the Customs Department to rush to conclusions merely on the strength of statements made by interested persons. The Customs authorities were ready to take action on the evidence which Mr. McKay was able to produce to them in respect to the price of harvesters t sent to Italy. It now transpires that the quotation given in the case referred to was for a single harvester, which was ordered through the London agent of the Massey-Harris Company. The machine therefore had to bear transhipment charges. I hope that the Minister will carry out the promise he made to the House, that the Massey-Harris Company should” have an opportunity to appeal against his decision. In the first place, the Minister’s promise stands; and, in the second place, it is a matter of common justice to a company who complain that they have been wrongly treated that they should be allowed to justify, their allegations. I do not wish to introduce any party spirit into this matter, but I most earnestly ask the Minister to give the Massey-Harris Company an opportunity to appeal against a decision which was arrived at behind their backs, at the instance of a trade rival. I now wish to say one or two words with reference to a paragraph which appears in this morning’s newspapers, to the effect that the views expressed by the leader of the Labour Party, and also, I believe, indorsed by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, in favour of an amendment of the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act, are not shared by all the members of the Labour Party ; that, in fact, if the members of that party are not equally divided upon the subject, a considerable number of them are opposed to any alteration of the section. I should be very sorry to think that the statement is true, because immediately the leader of the Labour Party announced his readiness to have the Act amended I hastened to express my gratification, and to assure the Government that the Opposition would be only too glad to help them to amend the Act. I hope that, whatever may be the state of feeling in the Labour Party, the Government will have the courage to carry out their announced intention, lt has been declared that the Government propose to amend the section, and that they are only delaying their proposals until they can be carefully drafted - it is alleged that a great deal of difficulty will be experienced in the drafting - and embodied in their immigration policy. I only wish to say, by way of an antidote to the statement contained in the press - if such an antidote be necessary - that, supposing the members of the Labour Party show any opposition to this portion of the Government programme, there will be no sort of ehendeavour on the part of the .Opposition to embarrass the Government by withdrawing support from them. No matter what difficulty the Government may be confronted with in respect of their friends and supporters in their praiseworthy endeavour to amend the section, I think I may promise, on. behalf of the whole of the; members of the Opposition, a loyal and solid support, irrespective of party temptations or party advantage. I cannot help feeling that, apart from any question of immigration, or of adding to our population, we cannot, except by an amendment of the Act, dispose of the slanders upon the Commonwealth, in many cases absolutely untrue, ill-founded, and malicious, and in some instances sent from Australia by Australians. One of the worst features of these slanders is that many of them are fabricated in Australia, and are made to impose on the ignorance of English journalists.
– The honorable member for Oxley is not altogether guiltless.
– Nobody who knows that honorable member will imagine for a moment that he made the misstatement in question deliberately. The fact is that he made a mistake in regard to the law, just asFull Courts sometimes do. Nobody would accuse him of being actuated by any malicious motive. I am very anxious “that we shall establish friendly relations with the people of the mother country. That is a matter of vital importance to us. It is of no use attempting to dispel slanders upon Australia when, upon the face of our own laws, this charge can be truthfully levelled against us - that if an Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman endeavours to come here as an honest working man - not as a loafer - and for that purpose enters into an honest business engagement at the Australian rate of wages, he can be sent to gaol for six months, and the only way in which he can escape that penalty is by finding two sureties, who will guarantee that he shall be transported from the shores of Australia. What a mockery such a condition of things is upon the word “ transportation “I It is. a word that we have always associated with the criminal class, but Australia has invented a new kind of transportation in order to drive back to their own land our fellow-countrymen, whose only offence ii that they have an honest job ahead of them. The Labour Party may well wish to help us to remove that stigma. Let us surround the provision as carefully as we think is necessary, let us stipulate all sorts of safeguards, let us provide that any agreement which! is deceptive as to the ordinary rates of wages obtaining here shall be torn up by the nearest magistrate: but when we have safeguarded our law in that respect, do not let us lay the hand of the policeman upon an honest fellowcountryman. What idle talk it is to say that a man who works under contract is a sort of slave or helot ! How many men in Australia to-day do not work under an agreement for wages? And what a tremendous reflection it is upon our own people when it is suggested that the man who is not rich enough to be free from the necessity of engaging in honest work, under an honest contract, is an inferior person, and ought to be treated as a slave or a criminal !
– Does not the right honorable member think that he is exaggerating?
– There is no exaggeration in the cold language of an Act of Parliament.
– Did not the right honorable member vote for that provision? Mr. REID.- No.
– Did not the right honorable member speak in its favour? Mr. REID. - No.
– Was not the right honorable member interviewed in regard to it, and did he not approve of it?
– I have the report of an interview, in which the right honorable member said that he approved of the law, but not of its administration.
– That remark had reference to quite another matter. Honorable members will recollect that last election I incurred a good deal of abuse because I went round Australia using the strongest language that I could employ in condemnation of this very provision.
– The right honorable member voted for the third reading of the Bill.
– If the honorable member says I did, I will admit it. Even then, I occupy only the same position as that occupied by every other honorable member. The honorable member for Kooyong supported the third; reading of the measure. But did he know that he was voting for a law of that character? As a matter of fact, he actually went to the table, and asked the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, what the provision meant, and he was informed that it was only intended to deal with contract labour. I do not say that honorable members’ ought not to have understood its meaning, but I do say that when a layman like thd honorable member for Kooyong had the assurance of the Prime Minister that a certain clause in a Bill meant a certain thing, he was entitled to believe it.
– How about the right honorable member himself?
– If honorable members can get clear of the personal element, I am quite prepared to submit to any censure which I may deserve. But now that we know what the law is, there is no need to pretend ignorance of it.
– Can the right honorable member tell me what individuals have been kept out of the Commonwealth under section, 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act, except those who came to Australia under contract ?
– I should like to ask another question which will supply the honorable and learned member with a very good answer. Let us suppose that a law were in force as to stealing, amd that the punishment for theft was six months’ imprisonment. Let us further assume that nobody steals, and 1 as a result, nobody is sent to gaol. Does that fact alter the law? Is it not because a thief is liable to imprisonment for stealing that many people do not steal ? What decent man will come 12,000 miles under an agreement which is a fraud on Commonwealth law, if he is liable to six months’ imprisonment for so doing? What British workman will come to a country when his choice lies between “ sneaking “ in, and imprisonment in case of detection ?
– The right honorable member knows that that is not a fair presentation of the case. He himself voted for the law.
– I never voted for it.
– Then the right honorable member paired in its favour.
– I did not.
– The right honorable member should have done one thing or the other, at any rate.
– The honorable and learned member is now getting back to the case of the six potters. He is reviving a very unpleasant recollection. In effect, he says that if I ‘ did not do a certain thing, I ought to have done it, amd, therefore, he is entitled to say that I did it.
– Will the right honorable member say that he voted against the proposal ?
– Probably I was absent on the occasion in question, in which circumstances I should be fined £1. under the (proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne.
– That is a nice way of getting out of the difficulty.
– I thought that .the honorable and learned member expressed himself in favour of an amendment of the Act only a day or two ago?
– I did, and I am of the same opinion still.
– I hope that the Government will pay attention to that declaration.
– I say, further, that the Act has never been, put in force, except under the circumstances to which the right honorable member has referred.
– That is simply because there has never been a man who was criminal enough to break the law. The law provides that an Englishman, who is a manual labourer, shall be a prohibited immigrant if he comes here under contract, and that he shall be liable to six months’ imprisonment. The honorable member’s justification for that law is that nobody has attempted to get into gaol. What man will come to Australia from the old country while such a law operates? The English workman is not yet reduced to such a pitiable condition that he is obliged to travel 12,000 miles to become a member of the criminal class.
– How does he get into the United States?
– That is another conundrum. Surely the honorable and learned member does not place British subjects coming to Australia in the same category as foreigners going to the United States? There is not a single American - even though he may have a hundred contracts in his pocket - who is prevented from entering the United States. I wish the honorable and learned member to recollect that there is not ‘an American in any part of the world who cannot return to his own country under contract. The laws of the United States do not shut out a single American citizen, and the honorable and learned member ought not to place our fellow British subjects on the same footing as foreigners and aliens. We may keep our gaols for aliens if we choose, but we have no right to open the doors of our prisons to honest British subjects, whose only offence is that they come here, not to loaf on the people of Australia, but to do honest work. I should like to remind honorable members that there is no conspiracy, so far as the statute-book of the Commonwealth is concerned, to misrepresent Australia. Under section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act, the following are prohibited immigrants : -
Any persons under a contract or an agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear.
– That is a grand provision, no doubt, for my honorable friend, but I would remind him that the greatness of Australia has been built up more by the manual labourers of the mother country than by any other class.
– It has not been built up by manual labourers under contract.
– What a dreadful offence it is to possess a bit of writing, in reference to one’s wages. Has the honorable member never worked for wages?
– Not under contract.
– The honorable member is one of the swells of the labour market. Surely he knows that no man can work for another unless he is under some form of contract. If he works for weekly wages, he is under contract.
– It is quite possible to be employed upon piece-work.
– Is not that a contract? I suppose that the man who is employed on piece-work is a gentleman, while the individual who labours for a weekly wage is a criminal. What aristocratic distinctions are being made in the labour market !
– The right honorable member has never had to work, and consequently does not understand it.
– I can get more as the result of ten minutes’ work than the honorable member can earn in a year. I repeat, that a man employed upon piecework is nevertheless under a contract. The only difference in the two cases consists in the measure of payment. The man does not get so much a day, but a lump sum, for the work that he carries out. Whether the honorable member is working under contract or not, we all know that hundreds of thousands of workers in Australia are receiving daily or weeklywages. That, will not be denied. Would any man tell the Australian miner, who gets so much a day or so much a week from his employer, that he is not the equal of the man who is on piece work?
– But miners are not under contract.
– The honorable member for Yarra will have an opportunity presently to reply.
– I wish to point out that no man would stand up before the hundreds of thousands of workers in Australia who, under a contract to serve their employers, receive so much per day, and declare that because they serve under contract they are inferior, and not fit to take their place beside their fellow-workers.
– No one has said anything of the kind.
– I am sure of that.
– Every man is under a contract of some sort.
– I will continue if my honorable friends will allow me.
– The right honorable gentleman is under a contract, the terms of which are fairly obvious.
– A contract to fill in time.
– These interruptions do not conduce to the speedy expression of one’s views. I might as well be .at a monkey show as seek to talk to honorable members in the Ministerial corner.
– Can the honorable member tell us-
– If honorable members below the gangway desire to reply to the right honorable member for East Sydney they will have an opportunity later on to do so. I ask them not to interrupt him.
Air. Hughes. - May I say, sir-
– Does the honorable and learned member rise to a point of order ?
– I merely wish to say that every interjection I have made has been directly invited by the remarks of the right honorable member.
– Such a fact in no way justifies the interruption of a speech.
– I should like to withdraw the invitation. The wretched pretence that there is a difference between these two classes of contracts because, in the one case, they are made in Australia, while in the other they relate to men who come from the mother country under agreement to work in Australia, instead of entering into a contract when they reach here, is one of those shallow subterfuges which show the extremities to which my honorable friends of the Labour Party are driven. I am quite familiar with the interjections that have been made while I have been dealing with this question. When I went all over Australia, denouncing the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act, I was met with precisely the same ejaculations from various suspicious characters in different parts of the halls in which I spoke. It was quite a common thing to hear such interjections as “ Why, they are bondsmen,” “They are chattels,” or “They are slaves.” I say, with all respect, that a working man in the mother country is probably just as respectable, and as honest, as is any member of the Labour Party, or of any other party in this House. In my opinion, so long as this law exists, we are justly exposed to truthful, honest, well-founded accusations that, by our laws, we are treating our fellow countrymen in England, Ireland, and Scotland as other nations treat aliens. I suppose that is a fair statement to make. We have been told that the laws of Canada shut out men under contract. That is again only half a truth. Canada does not shut out a single emigrant from England, Ireland, or Scotland; she does not by any such law exclude a. single subject of King Edward. Some of our honorable friends feel hurt because the people of England say unkind things about Australia, Australian laws, and Australian Parliaments ; but, so long as this law remains on our statute-book, the English people are entitled ‘to refer to it in terms of the strongest reprobation.
– Why did not the right honorable member seek to amend the Act when he was in office?
– Because there were too many men of the stamp of the honorable member in the’ House. There was no chance of amending the law while I was in office.
– The right honorable gentleman did not try to do so.
– I appealed to the people of Australia to return to this House sensible men, who would pass such an amendment. Instead of doing so, they returned other men in large numbers. I intend, if I live, to make precisely the same appeal to the electors on a future occasion, and am very happy to think that I shall then have the cordial support of the leader of the Labour Party. Speaking for himself, that honorable member said, quite recently, “ Oh, it has been a very unfortunate piece of business. We do not want to shut out honest working men, coming from the old country. Our desire is only to prevent men from entering into deceptive agreements to work in Australia. We merely want to prevent the introduction of con- tract labour at the time of a strike.” The honorable member did not profess to speak for his party ; but I am very happy to think that at the next election I shall have his support in my endeavours to secure the return of men who arc prepared to amend this law. With reference to the proposal of the Government to submit a comprehensive scheme for the promotion of immigration, I have only to say that any wellconsidered proposal with that object in view will receive the support of nearly all, if not every one, of the members of the Opposition. The matter is one of great importance to Australia; but the mere promise to encourage immigration will be of no avail. I hope to see the Government, in a very short time, submit their immigration policy. When they do so, I think that they will find that they have a number of friends on this side of the House. Whatever the attitude of honorable members sitting below the gangway may Le, I can safely say that, if the Government seek to pass measures designed to promote immigration, the Opposition will set aside what they think are well-founded grievances, and support them. The Government are in power. We feel that we cannot shift them, and while ‘they remain in office we are anxious to assist them to carry out any useful work of which we approve. When they take this step they will learn who are their best friends in the House. In view of the contract which has been entered into by the Government of New South Wales, I hope that the Government will make some statement with reference to the Manufactures Encouragement, Bill.
– I must request the right honorable member not to discuss the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– I shall put myself in order by referring to the contract which has just “been entered into between the Government of New South Wales and Mr. Sandford. I may express my very great pleasure that Mr. Sandford, instead of the syndicate of which we have heard, is to have an opportunity to carry out this great work. As a resident of New South Wales, I heartily approve of the arrangement which the Government of that State has made with him. One grand feature of the contract is that it will save the Commonwealth a/n expenditure of ,£250,000, which it can ill-afford to make. The arrangement made with Mr. Sandford bv the Government of New South! Wales will cover abour £500,000 worth of material.
– That will be approximately the value of the manufactured1 article.
– The Government estimate that under the contract they, will pay only 6.7 per cent, more than they would have to pay for the imported article.
– Seven per cent.
– Between 6 and 7 per cent. That means, at the most, about .635.000 on the total expenditure of £500,000, and this increased expenditure will be borne cheerfully by the people of New South Wales. I think that the House may congratulate itself that, as the result of this agreement, we are placed in such a position that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill may well find its way under the table. It is time some statement was made to the House with reference to the intentions of the Government in this regard Has the Treasurer provided in this year’s Estimates for the £250,000 proposed to be expended under that Bill ?
– No. Provision is made in the Bill itself for the expenditure.
– When such provision is made in a Bill, the Treasurer usually makes some explanation in regard to it, but I do not think the right honorable gentleman referred to it in the course of his Budget statement. May I) take it that the Government intend to abandon the Manufactures Encouragement Bill?
– Wait a little while.
– The honorable gentleman knows that he has no chance of passing it through the House. I hope, at alt events, that he will make a statement in regard to his intention as to the valuation of harvesters. I understand that he made a promise to the House some time ago that he would give the firm in question am opportunity to prove their bona fides in a Court of Justice.
– I am quite prepared to make a statement with regard to the valuation of harvesters, but do not intend to deal with the matter at any great length. I was engaged in receiving a deputation when the right honorable member for East Sydney commenced his speech, but the Prime Minister took mv place, and* would have replied in my stead had: I been unable to be present. When I entered1 the House, the right honorable gentleman was dealing with the question of harvesters.
I may say that I am collecting some of the invoices showing the price at which harvesters are being sold in South America. The information which I obtained in regard, to the point in. dispute was that these machines were valued there at ^41 when they crossed the border, but in a report which I received, it was pointed out that too much importance could not be attached to that fact, inasmuch as there was no duty to be paid, and the valuation was merely a fanciful one. That may, or may not, be correct.
– But the invoices quoted by the leader of the Opposition related to actual sales.
– Invoices, and especially those from America, do not always represent the true value of the goods to which they refer.
– Mr. McKay valued his own machines at only £26 each.
– That was a computation made on the basis of certain evidence said to have been given by Mr. McKay when he was before the Tariff Commission. I have not gone into that calculation, but I am familiar with what Mr. McKay said when before the Commission as to the value and the price of the MasseyHarris machines. The right honorable member for East Sydney stated that I promised the House that I would allow the firm concerned to commence proceedings against the Government in a court of law. Whilst he was speaking, I turned to the Hansard report! of mv speech on the occasion in question, and found that what I said was as follows: -
I may say at once that if the Massey-Harris Company have any reliable facts or data to bring before me, I should like to have them submitted for my consideration. If they then commenced proceedings against the Government, I should be very much disposed not to place any impediment in their way, but to give them every facility. I cannot say anything fairer than that. My only desire is that there shall be a true valuation for the purposes of the Customs, and to see that fair play is meted out to all.
A few weeks afterwards the MasseyHarris people, with their solicitor, waited on me, and showed me certain documents, which I asked them to leave. They preferred not to do that, but said that they would send copies. After a week or two, or perhaps longer, I received those copies, and then took action, with a view to finding out a little more than was disclosed on the papers. There was an extraordinary difference between the freight charges put down by the Massey-Harris people for the carriage of their harvesters from New York to Australia, and the freight charges paid by McKay to send his harvesters from Australia to South America, the amount in one case being about £7 or £j 10s., and in the other about 30s.
– A Sunshine harvester could not be sent from Melbourne to Sydney for 30s.
– I am’ speaking from memory, but the amounts were practically what I have mentioned. In explanation, I was informed by the representative of the Massey-Harris Company that the Sunshine harvesters were packed differently from the way in which their harvesters were packed, and therefore cost less to transport, but I have not had a sufficient explanation of the difference.
– It would be easy to find out the actual freight charged, by ascertaining the measurement.
– In connexion with the transport of goods from the interior of America to the seaboard, there are arrangements whereby manufacturers, railway companies, and agents all gain certain pickings. An article is ordered at a very low price, and excessive freights are charged for sending it by rail or other conveyance to the seaboard’, part of which is returned to the manufacturer. At the port of export - the f.o.b. port - these charges, are deducted, and the Customs valuation is made on the price, less that deduction. By that pernicious system our Customs Department were losing between ^30,000 and £40,000 a year in connexion with the importation of machinery.
– I agree with the Minister that it is a pernicious system. The last Government dealt with it.
– When I took control of the Customs Department, the country was losing from ^30,000 to ^40,000 a year in the way I have described, and I made a regulation providing that the Customs valuation should be the f.o.b. price at the port of export with all charges added, instead of the f.o.b. price with a deduction of the charges for transport between the place of manufacture and the port of export.
– Does that regulation apply to all imports?
– It is of general application. With regard to goods coming from Canada through New York, the charges between the Canadian and United States border, and the port of export - the f.o.b. port - are not interfered with. I mention this matter to show how difficult it is to get at the truth in connexion with freight charges. I find that harvesters are now being made in many towns in Australia. When I was at Corowa, about six weeks since. I saw at the local show harvesters which had been made in the town by a manufacturer named Henderson, who used to have works in Victoria, and farmers who had bought them told me that they were as good as could be obtained anywhere.
– What was the price?
– £80. If what a son of Mr. Henderson told me in regard to the cost of harvesters is anything like correct, I am not far out in the valuation which I have put upon imported harvesters.
– I can buy a harvester from May, in South Australia, for£62.
– A little while ago I sent one of my best officers to South Australia to go through the books of Messrs. Clutterbuck Bros., a firm which have been purchasing harvesters from the Massey-Harris Company, and he has brought back with him a good deal of information. He tells me that three years ago only forty or forty-one harvesters were imported into and sold in South Australia by the Massey-Harris Company ; that two years ago the importation had increased to seventy or eighty machines; and that last year no fewer than 450 or 470 were imported; and of course the manufacture of a like number in Australia prevented.
– The honorable gentleman surely would not use the Customs regulations to alter the Tariff?
– I think that the right honorable gentleman will acquit me of having attempted to do anything of the kind. A case which has just arisen in connexion with a certain legal opinion, affecting, I am told,1, 000 people in Victoria, who will be thrown out of employment - though I think that that must be an exaggeration - shows that I am powerless to interfere with an interpretation of the Tariff. Honorable members have accused me of being able to increase and lower duties ; but the instance to which I refer shows that I am powerless to do so, and I would not attempt to interfere against the opinion of our Crown law officers.
With regard to imported harvesters, I want to get at a fair valuation, and I think that, with the information which I have obtained, I shall be able to get pretty close to a fair valuation. I have been promised certain further information next week, and when I have received it I will inform honorable members what will ultimately be done in this matter. I think it will not then be said that I have taken any unfair action.
– The honorable gentleman promised to give the Massey-Harris Company an opportunity to test his decision.
– I am not anxious to run the Commonwealth into the law courts. I spoke of the exhaustive examination which I am making as a preliminary to what I said about allowing these gentlemen to test the matter. , After this examination has been made, I can only repeat the words which I have quoted, but I am not going to open the door recklessly to an expensive action.
– Why not, if the honorable gentleman is perfectly certain that his valuation is correct? The company will have to pay the costs of the action.
– I have not said that I am certain of the precise amount ; but I am certain that the original valuations were much too low.
– Will the Minister fulfil his promise to give the firm a chance to appeal ?
– I have repeated the words that I used ; and when I have dealt with the matter there will be no cause of complaint. I do not know that honorable members wish for a further explanation now. I should only like to add that the result of my action has been, not to increase the price of harvesters to the farmers, but to decrease it. No doubt the light thrown on the whole subject is the reason why harvesters can now be bought more cheaply than they could be bought before this occurrence arose.
– The farmers have found out that the manufacturers were charging them too highly.
– Probably that is so. The increase of the valuation would have had the effect of raising the price of imported harvesters by £2 16s. had the additional duty been charged on to the farmers ; but as a matter of fact, these harvesters can now be bought more cheaply than they could be bought last season. I have shown that a harvester manufactured at Corowa is sold at ;£8o, and I believe that harvesters are also made near Yarrawonga, and at Junee or Wagga. . It has been said that my action will cause the Massey-Harris people to commence operations in Australia. I should be glad if it had that effect. I should welcome both the Massey-Harris people and the International Harvester Company if they would commence to manufacture here.
– £80 is altogether too much for a harvester. I can buy one in Adelaide for £62.
– The price of the Sunshine harvester in Melbourne has been .£81 for one size, and ,£84 for another. The leader of the Opposition referred to thai action of the Government of New South Wales in entering into a contract with Mr. Sandford, of the Eskbank ironworks for thd supply of iron and steel required for public works. I have already stated, through the press, that I am very glad indeed that Mr. Sandford. ‘has been so lucky as to secure a very good bonus. But I am not .prepared to make any announcement with regard to the Bonus for Manufactures Bill at the present time. Although Mr. Sandford has entered into a contract to supply the iron and steel required by the Government of New South Wales, he wall receive no consideration in connexion, with the requirements of private consumers of those commodities in that State. Furthermore, the arrangement entered into by Mr. Sandford will confer no benefit on the other States. In considering the question of iron and steel production, we have to take a broad view of the requirements of the States. The leader of the Opposition referred to the dreadful consequences which had followed upon the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. I am under the impression that the right honorable gentleman voted for the third reading of that Ball, and some time ago, when speaking in reference to the contract clause, he said that he approved of the law, but abhorred the administration.
– My statement related to the whole Act, and not to the contract clause only.
– The right honorable gentleman’s statement was made in connexion with the six hatters’ case.
– I was referring to the operation of the Act in preventing the introduction of coloured aliens.
– I do not wish to labour this question, but I consider that a great deal of injury has been done to Australia by the persistent misrepresentation of the facts by the Australian metropolitan press, whose statements have been republished in England, and have created a very nasty impression. The object of the Act is to prevent employers from introducing workmen under contract at rates of wages lower than those which prevail in Australia, and that aim seems to me to be a very proper one. We have been repeatedly and maliciously slandered by persons who have stated that no British subject can come to Australia. It should be clearly understood that no obstacle is imposed to the free immigration of British subjects into Australia, so long as they have not entered” into contracts to work at wages lower than those which are current within the Commonwealth.
– I believe that more people have come here ‘since the Act was passed! than ‘arrived during the corresponding period prior to its being brought into force.
– Precisely. ThePrime Minister has already indicated the attitude of the Government with respect to the question of amending the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act, and I need say nothing further on that point. I hope that I have satisfied honorable members opposite that I have acted in a spirit of fairness in the harvester case, and that my action will have a salutary effect.
– The leader of the Opposition referred to a matter which concerns me personally. I allude to the proposed Standing Order by means of which it is intended to incorporate in our rules a practice which obtains in the House of Commons. I desire to take the-, full responsibility attaching to me in that particular matter. The Government did not in any way influence my action. The members of the Standing Orders Committee are appointed by the House, and although various parties are represented onit, I take it that honorable members divest themselves entirely of their party predilections in discussing matters which come before the Committee.
– No, they do not.
– Then “they should doso.
– On looking at the division list, we find that all the Ministerialists voted for the proposed new Standing Order, whilst all the members of the Opposition disapproved of it.
– It is absurd to suggest that the proposal was regarded as of a party character. If the proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella had been pressed, I should have voted for that also. I indicated by my conduct that I did not support the Standing Order adopted by the Committee merely because it emanated from a member of the party with which I happened to be connected. I can assure honorable members that party considerations did not enter into the discussion of the matter. Until I went to a meeting of the Committee, which was called for the transaction of ordinary routine business, I had no idea that any proposition of the kind was to be brought forward. When, however, it was submitted, I- thought it was a good one, and I supported it accordingly. I still adhere to that opinion. It was not proposed in order to deny honorable members the opportunity to call for a quorum when only a few members are present in the Chamber, but it was designed to prevent one or two honorable members from penalizing the whole House.
– It was intended to permit a number of honorable members to dodge their attendance in the Chamber.
– The honorable and learned member is welcome to his opinion; but I am sure that his estimate of the morality of the members of the Standing Orders Committee will not be generallyaccepted.
– The honorable member cannot deny that there was an organized attempt on the part of Ministers and their supporters to relieve members of the duty df attending and taking part in the debates.
– I absolutely deny that anything of the kind occurred, and I have better opportunities of ascertaining the facts than has the honorable and learned member. I wish to take the responsibility of my own action in the matter, and to assure honorable members that the Government had nothing whatever to do with it. . I have never been content to allow other people to bear the burden of responsibility which properly belongs to me. I am not here to excuse the Government, but I desire to assure honorable members that I acted entirely of my own volition, and was not inspired by any act, word, or deed on the part of the Government. I know that I hold my position on the Standing Orders Committee by virtue of the office to which I have been elected by honorable members, and I feel sure that they will not regard me as capable of betraying their confidence by giving my support to any and every proposal brought forward by the Government of which I happen to be a supporter. The honorable and learned member for Corinella will bear me out when I say that I assured him over and over again that I was prepared to assist him in securing the adoption of the Standing Order which he proposed.
– I have never denied that.
– No; but honorable members are endeavouring to impart to the Standing Orders Committee a strictly part character.
– I am not prepared to deny the propriety of that.
– The honorable and learned member has changed his opinion on that and a number of other questions. The Standing Order in question was passed at the ordinary weekly meeting of the Standing Orders Committee, and was not confirmed until fourteen days later.
– By its action the Committee drove one very good man off that body.
– That is a very unfair suggestion. The honorable member for Gippsland did not indicate his intention to retire from the Committee until after the motion was carried.
– It was adopted at an earlier meeting.
– But it was not “finally” adopted; in fact, a proposal was made at a subsequent meeting to rescind it, and another motion had to be moved regarding the printing of the Orders. The honorable member voted on both questions.
– Did not a full account of the proceedings of the Committee get into the press?
– No, only a very imperfect version of the matter was published in. the press. The leader of the Opposition has declared that the Standing Order to which I refer would permit public business to be transacted in the absence of a quorum. What I wish to emphasize is thar under its operation no motion could be carried either in the House or in Committee unless a quorum were within the precincts of the building. No single word, letter, line, or clause of a Bill could be adopted unless a quorum were present.
– Not if a division were not called for ?
– The honorable and learned member will admit that there is a duty devolving upon members of the Opposition. Surely there should be at least two of their number present, and these would be sufficient to secure a division upon any matter.
– The honorable member is hedging upon his first statement.
– I am not hedging at all. The Constitution does not assume that a quorum shall consist of Ministerial supporters. It is just as incumbent upon members of the Opposition to assist in keeping a quorum as it is upon the Government.
– It is the duty of the Government to keep a quorum.
– What is the honorable member’s authority for that statement? It is the business of honorable members who are elected to this House to keep a quorum.
– The honorable member wishes to give them an opportunity to stay outside the Chamber.
Air. SALMON. - The honorable and learned member is making a statement which is unworthy of him.- I have no wish to provide any such opportunity. Aly desire is to prevent a constant recurrence of the spectacle- which we witnessed last night, when a most deliberate attempt was made to count out the House.
– What about last session when a similar attempt was made in connexion with the Budget by the very honorable member who proposed this new Standing Order?
– I recognise that honorable members who are strongly opposed to any particular measure are justified in endeavouring to secure its defeat. But it is not a legitimate thing for honorable members to impede the business of the country by rising half-a-dozen times in as many minutes to direct attention to the state of the House, when they know perfectly well that there is a quorum within call. If honorable members possess rights, they should also recollect that they have responsibilities. I would ask any impartial observer to say whether there have not been more members present upon this side of the House during the past two months than there have been, upon the Opposition benches ?
– Now we see the party spirit.
Air.’ SALMON - Honorable members by their interjections are inducing me to make statements which I have no desire to make. My last words are that, as honorable members have rights, they also have responsibilities, and as the rights of the minority are properly safeguarded under our Standing Orders, I ask that the rights of the majority shall receive some attention. We should not place it within the power of any honorable member, acting merely on caprice, to obstruct the transaction of public business by continually drawing attention to the state of the House.
– The extraordinary speech of the honorable member for Laanecoorie merits some reply.
– He has made a very good reply by way of defence.
– But he has also made an attack.
– Not an unprovoked one.
Air. DUGALD THOA1SON.- The honorable member has chosen to state - and of course we cannot very well . dissociate him from his position as an officer of the House - that the Opposition has not done its duty in assisting ‘to maintain a quorum. I venture to say that, in proportion to its numbers, there are usually as many - if not more - honorable members to be found upon this side of ‘ the Chamber as there are upon the Government benches. I have frequently counted them, and I make that statement as the result of my observation. It must be recollected that there are two parties upon the other side of the House. I entirely disagree with the definition of “purposes of a quorum” which was given by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I claim that the attendance of a quorum, as provided for in the Constitution, means the presence “of at least twenty-five honorable members- in this Chamber, not their presence within the precincts of Parliament. What an absurdity it would be, in fixing a’ quorum, to imply that honorable members might be scattered over several acres of ground !
Air. Salmon. - That is not the proposition.
– It is. The honorable member has stated that by adopting the proposed new Standing Order we shall merely be following the practice of the British Parliament. I shall not debate that question at the present stage, but I do not think that his statement is correct. Then I take strong, exception to an interjection which was made by the honorable member for Gwydir. He stated deliberately - and he adhered to his statement, despite the fact that it was contradicted - that when the honorable and learned member for Corinella proposed, and I seconded, a motion, at a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee, in favour of limiting the speeches of honorable members, we were members of the late Government. I have here the minutes of the meetings of that Committee. From these I find that notice of the motion in question was given on 17th August last. The present Government came into office upon 7th July. I learn from the records that the honorable and learned member for Corinella moved -
That this Committee is of opinion that some method of limitation of debate should be provided in the Standing Orders.
That was on the 17th August, some time after he had vacated office. On 24th August the following statement appears in the minutes of proceedings of the Committee : -
Mr. McCay submitting Standing Orders foi the purpose of limiting debate, the Committee deliberated. The Committee took no action in the matter.
– Why did they drop it?
– Because there was a generally expressed opinion that it would not prove as time-saving in operation as was anticipated. It was recognised that discussion might be prolonged in other ways, and one member of the Committee declared that he did not approve of the adoption of these arbitrary means to curtail debate, because they usually defeated their own ends.
– One other member stated that, at best, the proposal would only have a moral effect.
-That is so. As a result, it was decided to take no further action. In the light of this evidence, the honorable member for Gwydir must see that his statement was made without knowledge.
– The honorable member, whilst he was a member of the late Government, intended to take action, if he did not actually do so.
– The honorable member is now declaring what were our intentions. Does he mean to say that two members of the Standing Orders Committee who are members of the Opposition supported a proposal which was intended to shorten the proceedings of Parliament whilst another Ministry was in office, for the benefit of a Government which had ceased to exist? The honorable member adhered to his statement, which should have been withdrawn immediately it was denied. I maintain that members of the Opposition have shown quite as much desire as have the Government to legitimately curtail debate. The honorable member for Laanecoorie also alluded to an attempt which was made last night to count out the House, as if similar tactics had not been frequently - and upon two occasions successfully - resorted to during the term of office of the previous Government. Yet he expressed abhorrence and surprise that anything of the sort should have been attempted. I should not have risen had he not made an attack upon the Opposition which was altogether unjustifiable. Coming to the question of the valuation of harvesters for the purposes of the Customs, I would point out that the Minister has clearly indicated that he has allowed himself to be influenced by certain matters to which he should really give no consideration. He stated! that he found that the sale of imported harvesters in South) Australia had largely increased.
– The demand is increasing.
– I hope that it is a sign of increasing cultivation. The fact that there has been an increase in the sale of these machines in South Australia should’ not influence the honorable gentleman in dealing with this question.
– It does not.
– The Minister should not allow himself to be influenced by that fact, any more than a freetrade Minister should allow himself to be influenced by a reduction of imports.
– It does not influence me. I merely mentioned that in a report which I had received, it was shown that this increase had taken place.
– I believe that it was after the officers had investigated the books of the South Australian importer that they advised that the valuation of £38 “10s. should be accepted as the correct import price. I think that the Minister must recognise that charged as he is with the duty of protecting the revenue, and of seeing that trade is honestly conducted, he ought to institute legal proceedings against any firm, which, in his opinion, has been defrauding the Customs. This firm certainly has been doing so, if the valuation of £65 is the true one. If such proceedings are not to be taken the opportunity of having the question settled in a court of law should be given the importers. I was under the impression that he had already promised to give the firm in question an opportunity to test the correctness of his decision. When he says, in effect, to them - “ I am not prepared! to punish you, as I ought to do, if, as I allege, you have bean under-valuing your imports,” he ought also to say, “ I am prepared to give you an opportunity to show that I am wrong, and if you prove your case, I shall revise the valuation.” The honorable gentleman stated that certain firms in the United States and Canada were over -estimating the railway and steam-boat charges from the place of manufacture to the port of shipment. I quite agree that under the old practice, there was a great danger of that being done. For some reason or other the practice was adopted of accepting as the basis of valuation the rates ruling for goods at a particular market in the country of manufacture, regardless of whether that market was on the coastline or in the centre of a large continent. In this way, an opening was given for fraud - for the undue inflation of railway charges, and the consequent reduction of the cost ‘at factory. I quite agree that the new system is one that ought to have been adopted from the first, and that the f.o.b. price at the port »f export should be accepted. I think the Minister said that he was satisfied that there was a great deal of under-valuing taking place in connexion with exports from America.
– That is so.
– I do not know whether he has considered the desirableness of applying some check in the countries of export. In order to protect their revenue, the Americans insist that sworn valuations of exports to that country shall be made at the port of shipment before the American Consul, who has an opportunity there to ascertain whether or not the values are correct. If fraud has been committed in this direction, it may be de sirable for the Minister to consider the advisability of resorting to this system inthe United States. I wish now to allude briefly to the present system of rating telephones. This is a matter to which I have previously ‘drawn the attention of Ministers, and I was under the impression that it was to receive consideration. There are some regulations in force which do not fit the conditions to which they apply. If twenty-five applications to be connected with the telephone service are received at the one time from a suburb which may have suddenly sprung into existence, a charge of only ^5 (per annum is made i(n respect of each subscriber, but in a suburb where there may be 100 subscribers who have applied at different times to be connected, a charge of £6 per annum may be made. In another case we have the strange anomaly that in a thicklypopulated suburb which may be regarded as part of the city itself, and where there are perhaps 100 or 200 subscribers beyond the mile limit, a charge of £6 per annum is made, whilst those living in a suburb fourteen or fifteen miles away from the central exchange - sand where the cost of making the connexion is consequently much greater - have to pay only £5 Per annum, although there may not be more than twenty-five or thirty subscribers there. The regulations simply take into account the distance from the centre, and not the density of subscribers. I should not have alluded to this matter, but for the fact that a promise has been made on more than one occasion, that it will receive consideration. I understood from the late Postmaster-General that these regulations were about to be revised. I do not attach any blame to the present Minister, because I know that he has not been long in office,, and could not reasonably be ex- pected to have already attended to all these matters ; but I think it necessary that the Telephone Department, which is a business one, should have its regulations framed upon business lines. If it be shown thai its regulations do not meet the existing conditions - that they bristle with irritating anomalies, and have given rise to legitimate complaints - they ought certainly to be re-considered . I think that the PostmasterGeneral will admit that it is absurd that regulations should provide that twentyfive subscribers to the telephone service, living fourteen miles away from the central source of the connexion, should hav« to pay only £5 each per annum, when, perhaps, 100 or 200 closely packed subscribers within a mile and a half of the very same centre have to pay a higher’ rate. I trust that the Minister will give consideration to the regulations, and recognise the necessity for their amendment.
– I should not have spoken but for the extreme bitterness which characterized the remarks made by the honorable member for North Sydney with reference to the position of the honorable member for Laanecoorie as a member of the Standing Orders Committee. I find that, although there have been some twenty-five meetings of that Committee, the honorable member for North Sydney has attended only three of them.
– But when was I appointed?
– I am quite prepared to take into consideration the fact that the honorable member was not a member of the Committee at the outset ; but he certainly could have attended more frequently than he has done- I understand that three meetings lapsed for the want of a quorum, and I know that the attendances of the honorable member for North Sydney are not to be compared with those of the honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– For the most part, I was absent only when my duties as a Minister required my attendance elsewhere.
– I regret that the honorable member should have displayed such bitterness.
– There was no bitterness exhibited by me.
– The honorable member also attacked the honorable member for Gwydir for what was, after all, a mere technical mistake. The honorable member for Gwydir might have been able to explain it as readily as the honorable member for North Sydney has explained his absence from the meetings of the Standing Orders Committee. The leader of the Opposition has only attended one out of twenty-five meetings of this Committee, and yet he dares to criticise those who have attended regularly. I think that when these facts are placed before the public they will recognise the true value of his criticisms.
– 2 on the motion that it be read a third time. In my opinion, the measure is so framed that, unless very liberal regulations be made under it, the people of the Commonwealth will be entirely deprived of the advantages which science is now offering us in the direction of wireless telegraphy. It would be a great boon to residents of country districts to be able to communicate with their friends miles and miles away by means of this cheap and effective system, but unfortunately the provisions of the Bill are so stringent that, unless the Postmaster-General is careful to frame liberal regulations, private Individuals will find themselves absolutely unable to avail themselves of it. He must see that the officials of the Telegraph Department do not seek to impose harsher restrictions than are necessary upon any one attempting to use this method of telegraphing, to the serious injury of the people of Australia. An unfortunate ‘ result of our legislation is that all improvements are practically blocked by it, and there can be no such “thing as progress.
– Not necessarily. We can issue licences.
– It is natural for departmental officers who have been brought up in a groove to be averse to changes, but I think that the Postmaster-General will see that the regulations are framed in a liberal spirit, so as not to hinder the development of the wireless telegraphy system. At the present time a very heavy penalty, can be imposed upon any one who uses it. I feel sure that the honorable gentleman will do all that he can to improve the means of communication available to settlers in country districts. I have been glad to learn from him privately that he will do all that he can, consistently with the maintenance of the revenue, to provide conveniences for communication to the public, but the maintenance of the revenue should not be the only consideration, be cause it must be borne in mind that we cannot open up the country without expense. The leader of the Opposition referred to the Capital Site question, and I cannot too earnestly urge the Ministry to bring about some settlement of that question. The state of affairs is rather complicated, in view of the fact that the PostmasterGeneral naturally desires the retention of Dalgety; but I still assert that that place is too far from the main railway line between Melbourne and Sydney to be a suitable site for the Federal Capital.
– The honorable and learned member spoke very well of it once.
– I have always said that it was as good as the suggested site near Tumut, but my view is that the Capital should be established close to the overland railway line, so that speedy access may be had to it from the capitals of the States, where the bulk of the legislators of the Commonwealth will always reside. If the Federal Capital is placed in a dis- .trict away from the main line, all mails will be at least half a day longer in transit each way, which would be a great objection in these days of quickness of travelling and rapidity of communication. I should have been willing to see the Constitution amended, so that a site might be chosen anywhere within the mother State. If the country within 100 miles of Sydney had been made available, the Federal Parliament would long since have chosen a suitable site, and we should now be meeting in a Parliament House belonging to the Commonwealth. When this Parliament meets in the Federal Capital, the New South Wales representatives will gain a great advantage, because they will have much less travelling to do, while the Victorian representatives, who so strongly objected to expenses being granted to members, will find that the cost of living, when one has to spend part of at least four days every week in travelling, is considerable. While the allowance given to us under the Constitution may be sufficient for a member who resides in Melbourne, it is altogether too little to a representative coming from another State. I very much regret that the Minister has not brought in a Redistribution of Seats Bill, so that we might know exactly how we shall find ourselves at the next elections. I am afraid that the method which thev are pursuing will cause us to g© before the electors on the same distribution as took effect at the last general elections, which will be verv unfair for New South Wales at least, because, although that State is contributing towards the expenses of Federation on the population basis, she is not represented in this House in proportion to her population.
Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne). - The honorable member for North Sydney has informed me that he was appointed to the Standing Orders Committee in November of last year, and has attended three of the six meetings which have been held since that time. He has also assured me that he had no intention to make a bitter attack on the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I wish, therefore, to- withdraw what I said on the subject.
– I was not present when the honorable and learned member for Wannon referred to the valuation of imported harvesters, but I distinctly heard the Minister of Trade and Customs say that he would not throw any obstacle in the way of the importing company, if they wished to prove their bona fides. 1 This evening, however, the honorable member for North Sydney informed the House that the Minister has not yet done anything in the matter, and I therefore ask him to give the House an assurance, for the sake of his own reputation, and that of the Commonwealth, that he will give these people an opportunity to prove that they have not been guilty of fraud, by taking proceedings against them. I do not defend attempts to defraud, and should like to see such attempts punished.
– I think that the Postmaster-General, in common with most honorable members, recognises the important part which telephones play in connexion with the development of our territory, and I therefore ask him to consider the advisability of bringing more prominently under the notice of the public the means ‘provided for their convenience. When a telephone exchange is established, the names of the persons whose residences are connected with it appear on the list which is made available to the public. But there are many cases in which country homes or stations are connected by private telephone lines with the nearest telegraph office, and I suggest that some method should be adopted of acquainting the public with the fact that these means of communication exist. For instance, if residents in Melbourne could consult a list showing the country homes connected bytelephone, they would probably be induced to avail themselves of the facilities offered, and would thus bring additional revenue to the Department. I hope that’ the Minister will give this matter his attention.
– Hear, hear. Question resolved in the negative.
^ Reports adopted.
House adjourned at 10.33 P m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050928_reps_2_27/>.