2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The following cablegram appears in this morning’s Argus: -
Mr. Jesse .Collings, the well known member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham, has written a letter to the Times with reference to “General” Booth’s scheme for sending 5,000 families to Australia. Wholesale assisted immigration of healthy and industrious workers is referred erred to by Mr. Collings as an “ appalling national danger.” He expresses the opinion that if tha Government assists such wholesale deportation it will be little short of criminal. “ Commissioner “ B ram well Booth has replied that the Salvation Army does not propose to send people in comfortable circumstances, but only unemployed, and some suffering from actual want.
Does the Prime Minister consider it advisable, under the circumstances, seeing that we have already many unemployed arid others in actual want in Australia, to continue the negotiations for the introduction of these people ?
– The negotiations have passed into the hands of the AgentsGeneral of the States. That men are not in comfortable circumstances,, or are even in want, does not, of necessity, cause them to be undesirable immigrants. Most of these families may be desirable immigrants, and if the Governments of the States are able to settle on the land those they approve, the prosperity of all classes must be thereby increased.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, before making the drastic changes in regard to the administration of the Post and Telegraph- Department in Western .Australia which have been foreshadowed in the press, give the officers there every opportunity to protest against alterations which may affect them adversely ?
– ‘They will have every opportunity. The report in question is at present under consideration.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers: -
Correspondence relating to the Federal Capital Site (15th September, 1904, to 4th September, io?5)-
Correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales respecting a draft Bill to expedite the settlement of the Capital Site question (8th to 29th September,
– Is- it the intention of the Prime Minister to submit, at an early date, the motion regarding the Queen Victoria memorial of which notice has been given?
– -Why did not the right honorable member submit it ?
– That is a pertinent question, and I should like to inform the honorable member, if I may be permitted to take- the irregular course of answering it -
– I am afraid that the right, honorable (member cannot foe permitted to dp so.
– I have the fullest intention of supporting the motion. No doubt the Prime Minister -has learnt from a paper which reached the Department of External Affairs^ shortly before the late Government went out of office, that there is some urgency, because the completion of the design has been suspended until it can be known whether Australia will join in the erection of the memorial.
– The motion has not yet been brought on because of the want of opportunity to deal with it without impeding the progress of necessary legislation. I am iri receipt of later information, which appears to show that inaction in any part pf the Empire is not responsible for the delay of which the right honorable member speaks, which is due to the fact that the general design has not yet been completed.
Second Reading. -Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 1386), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That the Bill be now read a second time. -Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- I do not think any one will deny that the creation of a Commonwealth Statistical Bureau and the making of arrangements for the taking of a Commonwealth census is a Federal necessity, although, as the Minister pointed out in his second-reading speech, this is a power which the Commonwealth must exercise concurrently with the States. For that reason it should be exercised most circumspectly, and my chief objection to the Bill is that it does not indicate a desire on the part of the Government to exercise this concurrent power in a way which- will prove not prejudicial to the amour propre of the States. The Minister explained the administration which he thought should be pursued if the Bill were passed ; but this Government has been too ready to ask to be endowed with legislative discretion. Instead of asking for instructions from Parliament they wish to be empowered to legislate in Cabinet on each question as it arises. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, as reported at page 1385 of Hansard, said -
There are two courses open. We might have a central statistical bureau, with branches in each of the six States, which could be used for State purposes as required. As an alternative, we could establish a central Commonwealth bureau, and enter into negotiations with the various States with a view to utilizing their departments to the fullest possible extent. During the early stages of the organization of the Commonwealth departments, the latter will be found the most practical course to pursue.
The Minister should not have put two courses before us, asking us to give him power to follow either as he might think fit.
– As I shall show before I have finished, it also contemplates the former course ; and the Minister in making that statement had both courses in view. It was his duty, however, to tell the House which he thought would be the right course to pursue, and1 to ask for power to follow that course. It was not for him to say what he thought should be done, and then ask also for power to do something else. The Government should take the responsibility for proposing one or other of these two courses. They should not ask Parliament for power to carry out either course, giving us no security that the course which we think best will be carried out. The Minister continued -
Of course, we could negotiate with a view to taking over the States Departments.
That is another matter upon which I have a cause of quarrel with the Government. Had they negotiated in the way they should have done before they submitted this measure, they would have been in a position to say which of the ,two courses proposed would have been best to pursue. They now ask us to authorize them to take either one of two courses which they may conceive to be best after the States have been approached on the subject. Why were not these negotiations entered into before the Bill was presented to us? The Minister further says : -
If they do not desire us to do that, we can arrange to co-operate harmoniously with them.
Surely an attempt should have been made to arrive at an understanding with the States before the Bill was presented. I do not regard the Bill as premature. On the contrary, it is a necessary measure ; but we should have had some further indication than is afforded by the small, and far from hopeful, correspondence that has passed, of the anxiety of the Government to bring the negotiations with the States Governments to a successful conclusion. The Bill contains two diametrically opposite proposals. In one clause, power is sought to appoint a Statistician with authority to deal with the statistics of practically every conceivable subject. In another part of the Bill, provision is made for the appointment of States officers, as( the deputies of the Commonwealth in connexion with statistical work. There is no delimitation of the duties as between the Commonwealth and the States officers. The Minister said -
We start on the assumption that the States will need to have their own local statistics for their own purposes.
Necessarily, the Minister also started with the assumption that the Federal authority would require to have its own statistics for its own purposes. And yet no attempt has been made to delimit the work which the respective authorities are to undertake. Take the case of industrial statistics. At present, industrial matters are wholly within the purview of the States, and it is obvious that if, before the States have handed over to us their authority to deal with industrial matters, we enter upon this branch of their statistical work, we shall double-bank the statistical records. Power is sought to compile statistics relating to factories, mines, and productive industries generally. Whilst it may be conceded that all these are subjects of Federal interest, it will be seen that under the double-banking process I have indicated, the taxpayers will be required to bear a greatly increased expenditure without deriving the benefit of a more complete service. An effort should have been made to define clearly the scope of Federal statistical legislation, and to indicate the work that is still to be left to the States. I must also strenuously object to the large powers of prescription for which the Minister is asking. Recent legislation in the Commonwealth and the States, and even in the mother country, has been marked by an increasing assumption on the part of the Crown of the powers which properly belong to our representative institutions. The liberties of the people, which were won at such great cost, have apparently become matters of such small concern that year by year fresh powers are without a struggle being handed back by the Parliaments to the Crown. In the Bill provision is made for handing over to the Minister of the day powers which should rest with this House. The Minister seeks authority to exercise immense discretionary power. He informed us as to his views with regard to the way in which the Commonwealth should exercise its authority to compile statistics ; but if one contrasts the clauses which authorize the Minister to make arrangements with the States Governments with the provisions which are intended to enable the Commonwealth Statistician to collect statistics upon every conceivable subject, one cannot fail to be struck with the curious contradiction involved. If the Minister is armed with the powers now sought, the States will be compelled, perhaps, much against their will, to hand over to the Commonwealth their control of a number of statistical matters. We all know that the expenditure incurred by the Commoner. Kelly. wealth in this direction will be debited to the States on a population basis. For example, if under clause 16 the Government decide to collect industrial statistics, say, in Queensland, and that State wishes to compile similar information for itself, although the latter mav have its own statistical bureau, it will still be required to bear a share of the expenses of the Commonwealth’s statistical operations within its own borders.
– What benefit would accrue from having those statistics duplicated in any way?
– That is exactly the point which I am making.
– Under such circumstances would not the Government of Queensland gracefully give way to the Commonwealth?
– But if it did not wish to do so, seeing that it possesses concurrent powers, we ought to exercise our powersvery circumspectly indeed. We should recollect that the same taxpayer would be required to bear the cost of both operations. For my own part, I think that the work of collecting statistics generally is one which should properly belong to the Commonwealth. But before the powers of the States in this respect can be abrogated, it is obvious that we must inspire them with confidence in Commonwealth administration. Otherwise they will not be prepared to surrender their powers. The best way in which we can inspire that confidence is by negotiating with the States - not by arbitrarily taking from them -powers which they possess under the Constitution.- By compelling them, to contribute to the cost of maintaining a Federal Bureau of Statistics
Ave shall oblige them to surrender control of such statistical branches as they themselves now imagine it necessary to conduct. That is a. point which H suggest for the Minister’s consideration. If clause 8 in the Bil] means anything, we shall require to eliminate from clause 16 such powers as conflict with the powers which the States have an equitable right to continue to exercise. We know that there are certain functions which the ‘Commonwealth should exercise. For instance, unless we collect the census ourselves, we cannot be sure that the basis for the redistribution of electorates is the soundest procurable. Under other circumstances, it would be possible - at the same time, I think that it would be extremely improbable - for the States to “fake” their census returns in order to secure greater representation in this Parliament than that to which they were entitled. But whilst exercising our own powers, we must endeavour to safeguard the rights of the States. At the present time, the Commonwealth is regarded in some of the States with absolute dislike, and in others with feelings approaching unpopularity. The main reason for this unpopularity is that instead- of adhering strictly to our own duties, we have trespassed upon the industrial domains of the States.
– Upon the occasion that the right honorable gentleman exhibited one of the few evidences that he is possessed of some backbone - I refer to the time when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was under consideration. I have shown that the Minister should exercise great circumspection. I would further point out that the same powers of prescription are sought to be conferred by no less than nine clauses of the Bill. In the first of these provisions - I refer to clause 9 - since the prescription deals only with the servants of the State, it is a matter of comparatively small concern.
– Does the honorable member draw a distinction between “ prescription “ and “ regulation “ ?
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act, “prescribed” means “prescribed by regulation.”
– Clause 11 provides -
It shall be the duty of the Statistician, subject to the regulations and to the directions of the Minister, to prepare and issue forms of instructions, and take all necessary steps for the taking and collection of the census.
That provision contains no indication of the nature of the questions which shall be asked in the householder’s schedule. This is a matter of far-reaching importance. Provision is made in one clause of the measure that no person shall be asked to state his or her religion. That, however, is the only exception which the Bill contains. I venture to suggest that this House should have submitted to it the form which these census returns are to take. Clause 12 refers to the schedule which is to be left with all householders, but the Bill does not stipulate what that schedule shall comprise. I do hope that the Minister will not regard my criticism as captious, because if he will refer to the Electoral Act, he will find that similar schedules have already been included in that Bill. Seeing that, despite this foresight, that measure created so much inconvenience and departmental bungling upon the first occasion that it was brought into operation, I trust that the Minister will endeavour to make this Bill as perfect as possible. Unless some safeguard be inserted^ questions might easily be asked of a character that this House would not approve if ‘it had the power ,10 revise the schedule submitted. I am not anxious to delay the Bill reaching the Committee stage, and, therefore, I do not propose to deal with these matters, in detail at the present moment. Another clause in the Bill provides : - .
Every person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by a collector touching any information required to be filled up and supplied in the householder’s schedule.
That provision constitutes a further extension of these powers, the limits of which we are not able accurately to gauge. In a subsequent clause by which so many statistical powers will be vested in the Commonwealth, the Minister will be enabled to say which, if any, of these statistics shall be collected. The Minister thus actually asks for the power at any “time to stop the collection of statistics throughout the Commonwealth, should such a course seem desirable to him. If statistics are necessary for the various purposes for which we know they are required, surely we ought not to be asked to trust any Minister with the discretion of saying that their collection shall cease at any mom’ent he pleases. The whole of the statistical work of the Commonwealth may readily be upset under this clause, unless -an amendment be made. We find again in clause 17, that for the purpose of enabling the statistics referred to to be collected, all prescribed persons shall fill up and supply, in the prescribed way, the particulars specified in the prescribed form: Have we gone so far that it is necessary, in providing statistical machinery, to arrange for prescribing persons and di’recting that they shall give all information “as prescribed?” This provision almost reads as . if it were the ukase of the Czar of Russia, instead of something that has emanated from a Minister whom we hope is at- least sympathetic towards the liberties of the people. A really important departure is proposed under clause 19. Under this clause, the Minister seeks power to send the officers of the Department on general roving commissions through all places of business, workshops, and the like, during working hours, in order to make, not such inquiries as this House thinks ought to be made, but such inquiries as are prescribed. These powers are altogether too wide to be vested in any statistical bureau. As honorable members are aware, officer’s of the Department will be able to enter any branch of a man’s business* to compile statistics on every phase of human industry. In these circumstances, should we give the Minister practically unlimited power to send officers, at- his own sweet will, to examine books, and generally to interfere with business, because certain statistics which this House may think unnecessary are, in his own opinion, or in that of the Statistician, required ? ,If these provisions be exercised to anything like half their possible extent, we shall have a statistical bureau of such dimensions as the world has never seen. I suggest to the Minister that this clause in itself necessitates the restriction of’ the wide powers that he desires to have vested in him. Another curious part of the measure is that which gives the Statistician a mandate to compile and tabulate the statistics collected “ pursuant to this Act,” and to publish such statistics or abstracts thereof “as the Minister directs.” Inferentially, therefore, he is to keep from publication such statistics or abstracts thereof as the Minister may direct. This, again, seems to be altogether too wide a power for the Minister to seek. If the House says that statistics are necessary, surely there should be no political interference with the proper departmental work of preparing them. But here we have the Minister seeking the right to say what statistics shall, and what shall not, be published. What purpose will statistics serve if they are not for the use of the people of Australia? If they are to be held up at the sweet will of the Minister - if some of them, instead of being published, are to be placed in some Ministerial pigeon-hole - of what use will they be fo the people? This provision is certainly one that must be eliminated, and I trust that the Minister will see his way to omit it without action being taken bv any one else. The honorable and learned gentleman, as we know, is usually anxious to see that the House is fairly treated. So far, he has not been in charge of a Corner. Kelly. merce Bill, or other kindred measures, and we are, therefore, in a position to regard him with a certain degree of hope. That being so, I do say that as this fault has been pointed out, we shall certainly look forward to his correcting it before the Bill passes out of Committee. The next point - and this is the most important of all - is that under this measure the Government propose to take a census when they please. I do not know whether they have realized exactly what this, means. The cost of taking a census of Australia amounts to over ^100,000, and if a Minister is to have the right at any time to incur such an expenditure, we may well ask what has become of Parliamentary control. Then, again, as if this were not sufficient cause for alarm, we find that the Bill, when read in conjunction with the Representation Bill, places the House, and especially representatives of those States whose population is increasing, in a rather invidious position. The Representation Bill provides
– That measure is before another place, and may not be discussed.
– I am merely referring to it incidentally..
– Then the honorable member will be good enough not to mention the name of the Bill.
– In another Bill dealing with the basis of the representation of the various States in this Chamber, there is a provision insuring that -
After the first census taken after the commencement of this Act an Enumeration Day shall be appointed at the expiration of every fifth year after the then last preceding Enumeration Day.
Under this measure, however, a census need not necessarily be taken for another hundred years, because the Minister alone has the power to fix the Census Day. After the first enumeration, which we know must take place, no further enumeration day can be decided under that Bill until the Minister chooses, under this one, to hold a census. So that if, ten or eleven years hence, any State happened to have a bigger proportionate population than it has at present, it would not be able to get its proper representation in this House until the Minister of the day saw fit to hold a census under the wide discretion he is given in this Bill. Surely the House will not stand that ! In mv opinion the Bill should be altered, and a definite period fixed for holding a census.
– The year ending with “ one “ is adopted throughout the Empire.
– Yes. The Minister of Home Affairs, speaking without proper consideration, I think, stated that through out Australia a census was taken by the States at decennial periods. He cannot really hold that opinion, because he knows as well as any one here that it is not the case in Queensland, but his speech shows-
– It does not say that.
– In his speech the honorable gentleman said -
Each State also acts on the uniform principle of a decennial census.
– I referred to Queensland at another time. Even that State, although providing for a quinquennial census, has acted on a, decennial basis.
– Queensland thought it necessary to hold a census more frequently than decennially / but for the purposes of economy it will not collect a census this year, and will wait until the decennial period comes round. If it has made this experiment in the direction of more numerous census, and found that the res’ults did not justify the expenditure involved, surely the Commonwealth might take a lesson from that State. This particular part of the measure is at fault, no matter how it may be regarded. Looked at from the point of view of holding too few census it will interfere with the representation of the States here. If we have too many census, it will interfere with the ordinary practice that has hitherto obtained, not only throughout Australia, but .throughout the British Empire - a practice which; when departed from in one State, was found to be so expensive that it reverted to the old procedure. I cannot see that any reason is given for this novel provision. The Minister has not shown us why it is necessary to have a census whenever he thinks fit. It has, I understand, been said that this is to enable 4he Common wealth to carry out the desire of a State to hold a census at any time it may think fit. But, surely, with so large an expenditure as ^100,000 involved, it is not asking too much to require the Government of the day to come down to the House and apply for special authority. These are all large increases in Ministerial responsibility, which I hope the House will not approve. It is rather significant that whereas the Crown is very ambitious for an. increase of its own powers, it shows a singular disregard for the rights of the people as regards the operation of the measure. One provisions says that -
Any person who forges, or utters knowing it to be forged, any form or document under this Act, shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
The people who will suffer bv this forgery or the uttering of forged forms or documents will be the people of Australia. When a forgery is committed in the ordinary way, I think that the penalty is about fen or fourteen years, at any rate it is in the State from which I have the honour to come. Why should the penalty for forgery under this Bill be so exceedingly light? It is a very serious offence. Here is one chance that the Ministers have of safeguarding the rights of the people, and I do not see why any special provision should be inserted to save the criminals involved from the ordinary punishment for that offence. I only touch upon this matter in passing to show that whereas the Ministry is extremely ambitious for new powers it is not so careful of the ordinary rights of the people. I do not wish to delay the passing of the Bill. I recognise that there are certain statistics which the Commonwealth should collect. I certainly think that the census should be taken by the Commonwealth, but only at fixed periods and in the way which the House may lay down. I regret that in his speech the Minister made no reference to the probable expense of collecting the census, gave no assurance that the Federal and States Departments would act in co-operation, and offered no valid reason why the census should not be taken at fixed periods. I have only a few matters to regret about the Bill. It is too loosely drafted, throwing, as I have pointed out, too great discretion upon the Department. It allows too great Ministerial powers as regards taking a census, ordering and. inferentially, stifling the publication of statistics at its own sweet will and arranging what statistics shall be collected. I hope that before we go into Committee the Government will be able to bring down some amendments that will be the means of shortening the discussion which is bound to ensue if the Bill is sought to ‘be passed in its present very loosely-drafted form.
Had it not been for this loose drafting I should not have availed myself of my right to speak on, the second reading of the Bill, but in its present form I think that the more it is debated at this stage the less discussion there will be in Committee. It certainly is not the fault of private members if they find it necessary to have a preliminary discussion at this stage. I would suggest to the Minister that! he should reconsider the measure with a view to telling the House definitely what he wants, and giving it an opportunity of granting him’ definite powers.
– This is essentially a Bill to be dealt with in Committee. I agree with the speaker who has just sat down, that an effort should be made to save expense and to work in with trie States in that enumeration of population which is necessary. I entirely concur in the view that there ought to be a fixed period for the census, and that years at the end of whose numbers the figure one appears - such as 1901 and 191 1 - should always be the years in which a census is taken. I have risen to say that at a later stage, after I. have been able to consult the draftsman, I shall move that the householder’s schedule be a schedule to this Bill ; not with a view to limit the statistics which the officers may desire to collect, .but in order that the House may understand the minimum of information to be obtained. If honorable members will refer to the New South Wales Act or’ the Victorian Act. they will find that elaborate details are given as to the information to be secured. In clause 16 of this Bill, the heads of the various branches of information to be compiled are set out ; but I think that the Bill fails in giving to the House a very limited idea as to what the character of the information is to be. I have spoken upon the subject to the Minister in charge of the Bill, and I earnestly hope that he will recognise that as’ this is a measure affecting the statistical information of the whole of the Commonwealth, it is much too narrow and restricted in its terms. It is true that the Minister has been guided to a considerable degree by a conference of Statisticians recently held. But we should like to have an assurance from him that he is co-operating in some” way with the States.
– I stated in my opening speech that it was desirable to do so.
– It was my fault that I had not the pleasure of hearing the Minister’s speech. I think that it would be monstrous to duplicate the expense in obtaining information which is so necessary, both to the States and the Commonwealth. We should co-operate with the States. We should also co-operate in obtaining our information in such a form that it will be useful for purposes of comparison. We should fall in, as far as possible, with the practice that has been pursued by the States, and also with the practice in Great Britain. Comparisons which are drawn from statistical information are much more satisfactory if they are based upon similar data, and relate to fixed and regular periods. I recognise that in a matter of this sort we are largely in the hands of the Minister for the time being. But, at the same time, I urge that the Bill ought to be much more specific. It is a short measure dealing with an enormous subject, and involving States’ interests. It is essentially an enabling Bill. But the information which it is proposed to obtain is vital. We should, therefore, schedule the various kinds of statistics which shall be collected. I rose at this stage simply for the purpose of letting the Minister ‘know that I am expressing, not only my own personal view, but that of other honorable members who think that the Bill is very meagre in the respects I have indicated, and that we shall ask honorable members in Committee to consider the expediency of making ‘the householder’s schedule a schedule to the Bill, and the details of information which are to be obtained much more comprehensive and more completely particularized than they are in the general terms here employed. -Each one ‘of us has his individual opinions as to what the nature of the information to be collected ought to be; and we should, in my judgment, have an opportunity of expressing our opinions on that point. Of course, this cannot be considered as other than a very necessary Bill, and the wonder is that it has not come before the House at an earlier period. I trust that it will be amended in two or three particulars, especially those which I have indicated. Feeling that the measure is essentially one for consideration in Committee, I shall not labour the points I have mentioned any further at the present stage.
– I agree that this is a Bill for consideration in Committee, but there are one or two matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the House on the second read- ing. I think it is more convenient to do so, as it will conduce to a saving of time. I have no objection to a Census and Statistics Bill being brought in and dealt with ‘by this Parliament, although personally, I do not think that there is any urgent hurry for it. But there are two or three points in connexion with the measure as it comes before us which I think justify some criticism. The first to which I should like to refer is the fact, as it appears to me, that although this Bill refers in one or two clauses to making arrangements with the States, its general tenor seems to disregard certain existing facts with respect to the collection of statistics by the States. For example, the Bill takes power to collect statistics relating to factories a’nd mines. The fact is that in all the States these statistics are already being collected, at least as efficiently, and certainly much more economically, than the Commonwealth could collect them on its own account. The States in connexion, for example, with factory legislation, have all the machinery and the officers who can get, and . who do get, all available information from time to time. If the Commonwealth proposes to disregard all this work, -and collect information for itself, it will certainly not get it any more fully, and, equally certainly, the information will be found very much more expensive. The measure should show more clearly that existing agencies are to be utilized - existing agencies, the efficiency of which has been proved, and the economy of which is recognised. If, for example, in the States of Victoria or New South Wales, it is proposed to collect all the factory statistics by means of Commonwealth officials, instead of by State officials, we shall inevitably duplicate a great deal of work and information, which is absolutely necessary to the States, for the purpose of carrying on their administration. In a matter of this kind, we should confine ourselves to collecting and collating the information gathered by the States. Instead of the Commonwealth creating a bureau for collecting information, there ought to be a central statistical staff for the purpose of dealing with information already collected, and making the necessary calculations. I must confess that I am much surprised to find it proposed that the census shall be taken whenever so directed by the Governor-General. To take a census of Australia costs ^120,000, if we are to judge by past ex perience ; and are we to leave expenditure of this kind to be determined by the GovernorGeneral, meaning that a census shall be taken whenever the Executive Government of the day chooses?
– There will have to be a preceding appropriation.
– If so, why not do what is intended by the clause, and say frankly that there shall be a census in each tenth year, ending with the figure one - in 191 1, and so on? The States have always considered this matter, which involves so much expenditure, as of sufficient importance to justify the passing of special Acts, every ten years. But we, in our political laziness - that is the only name I can give it - pass everything on, even a matter of this kind, to the Governor-General, which means the Ministry of the day. This measure should, undoubtedly, prescribe one of two things ; it should either provide for the next census, or it should . provide for a periodical census, and say in what year it shall be taken. I admit that the day cannot be named as in the case of the States; but we could prescribe that the census shall be taken in 19 11, and every ten years afterwards on such days as may be appointed/ bv proclamation. This Bill gives a power for which there is no need’ - a gower which Parliament should not give to any Executive. Really we are, nowadays, coming to such a pitch in regard to legislation that all we want is a short Act - at any rate, while the present Ministry is in office - setting forth that the GovernorGeneral may make regulations, prescribing how the powers vested in us by the Constitution are to be exercised. That would save a great deal of trouble, so far as Parliament is concerned ; but I do not know whether Parliament is prepared to thus let its power go. There are many matters in which it is inevitable that power must be delegated to the Executive, but my view of legislation by regulation is that power should never be so delegated unless in order to do something which Parliament cannot do itself. In this particular instance, certainly, Parliament can deal with the matter itself. After all, the Bill is nothing but an enabling measure, and it gives the public very little or no information about the census. The Bill, in effect, says that there mav be appointed a Commonwealth Statistician, and that a census may be taken whenever the Government choose - that the Government may, collect statistics as they determine, and may make regulations for carrying into effect the power we give to the Ministry. That is not legislation of the kind that this or any Parliament ought to pass. Wherever possible, powers should be defined, methods shown, and particulars given. It is only where the complex character of the modern political state renders it impossible to foresee and arrange for all details that the power of delegating legislation, or legislation by regulation, should be exercised. If we compare the last Census Act of New South Wales or of Victoria with this Bill, we are struck at the outset by the meagreness of this measure. The provisions should be more full in every way. The Bill consists of a series of clauses, which, without exaggeration, may be said to end with the words “ as may be prescribed.” There is far too much prescribing, and far too little legislation; and I hope, therefore, that in Committee the Minister will accept amendments - because, unless amendments are accepted, it will be quite hopeless to attempt to carry them - so as to make this measure fuller, as it ought to be, and more like an ordinary Census Bill, instead of merely a measure authorizing the taking of a census and the collection of the necessary statistics. I do not wish to delay the Bill from getting into Committee, but I desire to say here and now that it is altogether too brief. In their attempts at brevity, the Ministry have succeeded in leaving out most of the matters that should find a place in a measure of the kind. If the Ministry will allow this skeleton - for it is little else - to Le clothed with flesh in a proper legislative way, it will assist the passage of the measure through Committee, and make it more in accordance with the traditions of legislation to »which we are accustomed than is this recently acquired method of passing everything on to the Executive. The latter is not the duty of Parliament; on the contrary, it is the duty of Parliament not to leave matters to the Executive except where such a course is inevitable. Parliamentary control is disappearing day by day, and inevitably so in some cases ; but it should be our duty, where the step is not inevitable, to see that we do not let go our legislative authority. I do not desire to delay the passing of the measure, and I therefore content myself with these very few words on the motion for the second reading.
Mr. REID (East Sydney;. - 1 suppose that, as usual, the efforts ‘of the House in dealing with this measure will be left to those who sit on this side. It really seems as if the burden of discussing the measures introduced by the present Government were left entirely to honorable members on these benches. There is a stolid power on the other side which does not at any time assume an intellectual phase ; it is simply a physical, dense power of carrying anything or rejecting anything which it does not think it necessary to discuss. This measure is one of the most interesting that could Le introduced, and one ora which I am sure there cannot be any sort of feeling in reference to the different political parties in the House. It is a practical, business question of very great moment and considerable difficulty. We must all recognise the fact that the subject forms one of the troublesome problems of the Federal power. There must be a number of questions which are interesting to the States and not interesting to the Commonwealth, and a number of questions that are interesting to the Commonwealth and not interesting to the States; and from that simple state of things arise a number of difficulties. Some vigorous action will have to be taken, or we shall find ourselves, in the exercise of this power of dealing with census and statistics, duplicating public expense, instead of effecting economies. Federation has, I think, been an intense disappointment in many respects, but in no respect more than in the failure which seems to attend both Federal and State authorities in their efforts to bring about economy under the new order of government. Unless some happy change comes over the relations between the two powers, unless there is some exercise of greater wisdom than we have seen on both sides in reference to questions of difficulty, this Department of Census and Statistics, instead of proving a means of public economy, will lead’ only to further extravagance. The first thing which must be recognised by the States authorities is that, whether wisely or not, the people of Australia have handed’ over this work - and a very important work it is - of census and statistics to the Federal power. The States Governments must be aware, and I trust will frankly recognise, that this business is one which has been handed over to us, that we must do our duty in establishing this Department, and that we have the right to suppose that when we do establish it they will make use of it, and will accept the situation in such a way as to reduce the public burdens. It might very easily be, unless there is some wise mutual arrangement and understanding, that we shall launch the people of Australia into a very serious expenditure in connexion with this matter, and that instead of getting efficiency, certainty, and continuity, we shall produce nothing but friction and confusion. No one has shown, a greater desire to study the susceptibilities of the States Governments than I have done. I do not think any effort is wasted in the endeavour to establish good feeling amongst those administering the powers of government in the States and in the Commonwealth, because I believe that is a first condition to the bringing about of a better state of things. But with every desire to stretch forbearance and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that in this matter it is the duty of the Federal Parliament and Government to take this Department over, and not to hesitate to carry out this duty. Unless we take this Department over with a determination to make it something like a national Department, unless we are prepared to emulate the success of the American people or the people of the mother country in connexion with their Statistical Departments, we should do better to let this matter alone. I will strengthen the hands of the Ministry in every possible way in the establishment of a Department worthy of the importance of the subject. The expression “census and statistics” is a dry one, and to a large number of minds it suggests very little, but to those who are aware of the value and usefulness of good statistical systems in reference to the affairs of nations, the control of this Department will be looked upon as one of the most important departures of the Commonwealth. If it is well established it ought to become a tower of strength to the Australian, people, especially in the way of showing in a true and clear light and in a convincing way the real strength and variety of resources and the prosperity that exist in this part of the world. I believe that a proper statistical display of the facts of the Commonwealth to-day would be. of immense service in every part of the globe, and would do more to dispel idle, silly prejudices and slanders than anything else that could be mentioned. The rock on which the whole project may be shipwrecked is the want of a good understanding between the Commonwealth and
States Governments, but perhaps even more dangerous than that would be any sign of weakness on the part of the Commonwealth Parliament or Government in dealing with this important matter. I submit that we have no right to take up this matter unless we intend to deal with it thoroughly. We have no right to take it up in the light of there being six or seven Statistical Departments in Australia, or in the way of adding a Statistical Department to the six that exist to-day. Our determination should be to establish this Department on such a foundation that it will be looked to by the States Governments for help in the collection and tabulation of information which may be of even greater interest or importance to the States than to the Commonwealth. On the other hand, we cannot forget that the Commonwealth Government must look to the States Governments to a very large extent in connexion with this Department. If we required to establish Commonwealth agencies in every State, in order to get all the information which it would be proper to get for carrying out the work of this Department. I admit that the expense would be ruinous. We must look, to a very large extent, to the help and co-operation of States Governments, in the use of States officers, in order to secure any sort of economy in connexion with this matter. I quite agree with my honorable and learned friend, the member for .Corinella, and other honorable members who have spoken, in their general criticism of this Bill. No doubt, it is a measure in which the line of least resistance has been followed all through. I am afraid that unless it is braced up in some way, and is made more definite, we shall begin the consideration of this matter with a false step. Take that one most important, but very simple, question, as to when the first Australian census should be taken. What conceivable doubt can there be as to the year in which that census should be taken? If we go to any other period than that suggested by my honorable friends; if we go away from the year 191 1, what will be the result? All our statistical and census information which has been collected on the basis of ten year periods will be useless, and there will be no basis of comparison provided. Let us suppose that we determined to take our census in 1908 instead of 1911. All the vast mass of information which we have, and which would serve as a basis for proper comparison, and would preserve the continuity of the statistics of the States, would be destroyed by that one simple blunder. I am sure the Minister can have no idea of fixing any other year than 1911. The honorable and learned gentleman, in giving a reason for not fixing the date, used these words -
It is intended to have a decennial census here, but provision is made and the manner set forth in clause 10 -
That is a provision that the GovernorGeneral can name the time - pending negotiations with the States for the transfer of the Statistical Departments to the Commonwealth, or some other arrangement under which the statistics of population may be collected by the Commonwealth.
When we recollect that we are in the year 1905, and that the next census cannot be taken for six years, it will be seen that we shall begin in a most abject way, if it is presumed that we cannot within six years, between 1905 and” 191 1, come to some sensible arrangement with the States about the taking of the census. Clearly, the Commonwealth Government must take the census. It is impossible to have any arrangement under which the six States will take the Australian census. We might get the advantage of the assistance of the six States in taking it, but the Australian census must be taken by the Commonwealth Statistical Department. What a ridiculous development it would be to have a Commonwealth Department of Census and Statistics, and yet have the Australian census taken by six different States Departments. The thing would be ridiculous. We must have a census in the year 191 1 and. every tenth year following, and the Commonwealth Government must carry it out. It must be really a Commonwealth census. These things being so, why cannot the measure be explicit on a simple point about which the slightest controversy is impossible. We have been told that’ the regular census costs about ;£i 20,000.
– For collection and compilation only ?
– Yes. It is obvious that that great expenditure should not be incurred more often than once in ten years. If some extraordinary event, of which I cannot conceive the possibility, should make it advisable to take a census at some irregular period, it would be proper for the Ministry of the day to bring down a special Bill to obtain the sanction of Parliament to so unexpected and expensive an innovation. Therefore, I strongly urge that clause 10 should be made to contain a definite provision in reference to the time of the taking of the census. The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to think that it will be difficult to fix the precise day ; but to my mind there would be no difficulty.
– The census might be taken on a Sunday.
– Yes. In the New South Wales and Victorian Acts which provided for the taking of the census of 1901 in those States, there was the provision that the census should be taken on Sunday, 31st March, of that year, and in a general Act the provision might read “On the last Sunday in the month of March.”
– The day could be fixed byproclamation.
– The day is not a very important matter, but I think that it is important that the census should be takenin or near to the month of March. Is there /not a provision in the legislation of the mother country providing for the taking of the census in. March ?
– In the mother country the taking of the census is the subject of a special Act on each occasion.
– I see, by reference to the last English Act, that the day fixed is the day which was fixed i’n New South Wales and Victoria.
– I think that the States followed the English legislation.
– Probably the last Sunday in March would be the best day to provide for as a uniform arrangement, Sunday being the most convenient day of the _week for a purpose of this kind. Although the Minister mav wish to leave the fixing of the. day of the week and the month of the year to a proclamation, I feel sure he will meet the view I have expressed by putting the year beyond doubt. We can at present compare the period between 1891 and 190a with the preceding decennial periods 1881 to 1890, 187 1 to 1880, i86x to 1870, and 1851 to i860, and the holding of a census at an irregular period would throw everything into confusion, and upset the basis, of comparison. We should, however, fix. the taking of the Commonwealth census, for periods which would fall in with not only the dece’nnial periods of the States, but also those of the mother country. I think that the provision of the Bill m regard to the householder’s schedule in connexion with the census is objectionable. I have not had time to look at any but the New South Wales Act.
– The Victorian Act is practically in line with it.
– I hold the view that the particulars of information required to be set out in the householder’s schedule should be stated in the measure, though I would not object to the Executive of the day being allowed to add to them. It would be a grave responsibility to place on any Ministry to ask it to construct the householder’s schedule. There will be a perpetual irritation in some quarters which will be aimed against the Ministry ; but if Parliament itself decides what particulars shall be required, there can be no political controversy on the subject, and no grievance against the Government which happens to be in power at the time of the) taking of the census. I believe thatsore feeling is created at these times by the asking for information in regard to a number of particulars, and I strongly urge the Minister to follow the lines of the last New South Wales Act in stating, in the measure itself, what particulars shall be required for census purposes. I suggest that the Bill should set forth the particulars of information which we consider essential in regard to the taking of the census, though I shall not object to the Executive having power to add to them. There is no such schedule of particulars in the Bill. I refer to the New South Wales Act with great confidence, because it was drawn up by the then Government Statistician of the State, Mr. Coghlan, who, it is matter of common knowledge, is an eminently able and experienced statistician. Although it may be a troublesome thing to determine what particulars are indispensable in the taking of a census, and to embody them in the Bill, such a course will save a great amount of trouble in the end. The particulars required for the census are one thing, and the general statistical information which it may be thought desirable to get, another. The New South Wales Act - No. 65 of 1900 - provides for the obtaining of information other than that stipulated for in regard to the census. Its provisions for the taking of the census are of a permanent character, and are therefore perpetual. Sections 13 and 14 set forth a large number of matters regarding which there cannot be the slightest doubt that information is desirable. I admit that the expressions in clause 16 are very wide and cover an enormous field, but I doubt very much, after looking at the other sections, whether they contain provision for all the information that we should collect. For instance, on casting my eyes over clause 16, I do not think that the provisions in paragraph e as to “ agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairying, and pastoral industries,” would enable us to obtain information which I think about as valuable as any that we could procure, namely, with reference to the land tenures of the States. Moreover, we all know the grumbling that prevails when troublesome returns have to be filled in. If the Government seek certain information, without the express authority of the Act, they will be blamed for asking for more than is required. People will say : “ Why do the Government prescribe this? - the Act does not prescribe it; Parliament did not prescribe it, and yet this meddling Government is requiring information upon an additional subject, and is unnecessarily worrying us.” No matter what Government may be in power, it will have a thorn in its side, if it acts in that manner. The effect of clause 16 would be this : Many persons would argue that Parliament never intended that information should be collected upon the very important subject I have mentioned, or otherwise they would have expressed that intention. It is a very important and large subject, and it would be contended that inquiries with regard to it did not suggest themselves to Parliament when the clause was passed, because, whilst details with respect to horticultural and viticultural subjects were set out, no mention was made of land tenures. If we defined nothing, the position would be more satisfactory. If we define anything, we shall be bound to mention the larger questions which are present to our minds, and I look upon information with reference to the land holding of Australia as of the utmost consequence. I mention this merely as one of a large number of matters arising under clause 16, with which the Minister is, no doubt, familiar. I must confess that I cannot understand clause 21, which provides -
No person shall be liable to a penalty for omitting to state the religious denomination or sect to which he belongs or adheres.
Now I could understand a provision which left out all reference ,to information with regard to religious denominations. I could understand a provision of some other kind in reference to this matter, but I cannot see the utility of obtaining information with regard to the religious beliefs of the people unless it is to be complete. We should incur large expenditure in obtaining information with regard to the religious denominations of the people, and the value of the returns would be destroyed if a number of persons declined to state the denomination to which they belonged. We might as well rule out the provision altogether, because a man who does not belong to any denomination is always permitted to say what he does, or does not believe in. He may describe himself as a free-thinker, or an unbeliever, or state that he does not believe in any denomination or any religion. There are always means of enabling a man to state honestly the denomination to which he belongs, or that he belongs to none at all. What conceivable reason could a member of the Church of England, or of the Presbyterian Church, have for being ashamed to say that he belonged to such a church ? He might say that he was brought up as a Presbyterian, or a Catholic, or an Anglican - but no longer believed in any religion. But what person, who acknowledged himself an adherent of a church would decline to say that he belonged to that particular denomination? It is not as if any pains or penalties attached’ to the statement of a person’s belief.
– There are pains and penalties.
– I am sorry to hear it. There is quite a conflict of opinion as to which way it works.
– The right honorable gentleman knows all about it.
– No, I do not. I am happy to say that I made an honest effort to establish an independent board of control outside of politicians to deal with public appointments. I think that my honorable friends will admit that I did my best to take the control of such appointments away from politicians, or Ministers. Of course, sometimes a board proves a failure. Sometimes one begins with the highest expectations that a board will be everything that it should be, but he may in’ the end meet with a series of disappointments. The intention, however, in such a case is a good one, and I have always been very glad that I took the course indicated in New South
Wales. I cannot quite agree with the honorable member for Coolgardie, but if there were any truth in his statement, the disadvantages would probably operate in both ways. No one has a right to see the census returns or ,to inspect the householders’ schedules.. It is not as if a man’s schedule of his family affairs were published to the world. It is absolutely confidential, and the householder represents merely a figure in a large total. If the schedules were posted in the police courts, to permit of their inspection, and any disadvantage attached to a man’s religion, some pains or penalties might be visited upon him, but nothing of the kind could operate in connexion with the census, where nothing but the grand total is given. I should think that information with reference .to the religious denominations of the people is as valuable as that which would be collected with regard to a number of other items.
– In Victoria, no person is bound to state his religious denomination.
– I confess that the schedule bears the appearance of being very inquisitive, but I think that religion is one of the last subjects with regard to which the people would resent inquiries. When you ask a lady her age, you are putting to her a most delicate question - at least, that is the case with some ladies.
– But the collectors are sworn to secrecy.
– That would hold good alsoin regard to the information obtained with regard to religious beliefs. I cannot conceive of a man declining to state the religious sect to which he belongs, unless he is a crank, and then he can name a religion of his own. I submit that we should either have a provision for obtaining complete information upon this subject, or none at all. It is a perfectly legitimate subject of inquiry - quite as much so as are a number of the matters mentioned in clause 16. I confess that, at present, I do not quite follow the Victorian precedent, which seems to have been adopted. I shall be very happy indeed, to help the Minister in every possible way in the consideration of the Bill. The task is a very delicate one, and will call for a great deal of careful management. There may be difficulties, but, I think, thev will be best met bv fairly and frankly taking up the position that we mean to exercise our powers in a thorough and satisfactory way.
– I recognise that this Bill is one of immense importance to the whole of Australia. In considering it, the question which- occurs to my mind is, “ Are we to duplicate the expense to which the taxpayer is already subject in connexion with the compilation of statistics?” At the present time statistics and census returns are collected by the various States Governments, and I should like to know from the Minister whether he has made any arrangement with them to take over their Statistical Departments, or whether it is merely intended to create a Commonwealth bureau, thereby doubling the present expenditure of the taxpayers in this direction. We must recollect that in the various States these Departments are very well conducted. Indeed, in New South Wales, the Statistical Department is most admirably managed. Prior to Mr. Coghlan becoming AgentGeneral for that State, the statistics which he presented for the whole of the Commonwealth were accepted as most reliable. Before we are asked to agree to this Bill, it is the duty of the Minister to tell us whether the States authorities have been consulted in regard to it, and whether they are prepared to hand over the control of their Statistical Departments to the Commonwealth Government. If they are willing to do that, my opposition to the measure vanishes at once; but if they are not, I must emphatically protest against the passing of a Bill which will result in the creation of a new Department that can serve only the purpose which is already being served by the Statistical Departments of the States.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I have only a very few words to say upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, although I do not at all underestimate its importance.- I think that the suggestion made by the last speaker is one to which the Minister, in replying, should address himself, although I observe that he has already done so to some extent in moving the second reading o”f the measure. I understand that no decision has been arrived at in regard to taking over the Statistical Departments of the various States. In this connexion the Minister distinctly stated -
Of course we could negotiate with a view to taking over the States Departments.
I understand that, as a matter of fact, the Commonwealth Government have al ready been in negotiation with the States upon the subject, and that the” latter, without exception, have very directly and emphatically replied in the negative to “all such overtures.
– Is it right for us to take over the work of collecting statistics, and thus to duplicate expense?
– I think” it is right that we should undertake the collection of statistics for the Commonwealth. I confess that I do not like the way in which the Bill is drafted. It assumes far too much the independence, of each State in regard to the collection of statistics. I do not think that the Minister should- have paid such extreme regard to the concurrent powers of the States and the Commonwealth in this connexion. I think he should have framed this Bill purely as a Commonwealth measure. If there is one matter more than another which ought to Le under the control of the Commonwealth Government it is that of the collection of statistics and the taking of the census.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the work can be better performed by the Commonwealth than it can by the States?
– I feel quite sure that it can be better performed by means of Federal machinery than it can by the concurrent machinery of the States. One has merely to notice the great difference which obtains between the methods that are adopted in the various States to be satisfied upon that point. I presume that nobody will deny that there is a very great difference between the methods which are followed in .Victoria and New South Wales. Why is it that in this House we do not quote statistics other than those of Coghlan? Nobody ever dreams of quoting the other Statisticians. Why ? Because Coghlan produces a ‘superior book - superior from the point of view of the way in which its information is tabulated.
– But Coghlan has to accept statistics which are compiled by the other States.
– I am quite aware of that. Why do not the other Statisticians present their figures in the same attractive and useful form as Coghlan? Does not the honorable member see that every State tabulates its figures in a totally different way? The reason why we quote Coghlan in preference to other Statisticians is that he presents his information in a form which is more readily accessible. Take, for example, some of the matters to which reference is made in this Bill - such as industrial matters, rates of wages, &c. These can be very much more readily referred to in Mr. Coghlan’s production than they can be in the work which is compiled by the Victorian Statistician.
– Mr. Coghlan goes more fully into details.
– That is not the reason for it. The honorable member may find in the Victorian production almost anything that is contained in Coghlan’s statistics, . but he will have to search deeply for the information, and he will require to make his own computations before he can arrive at the desired result. Similarly, very valuable information is presented to us in the monthly sheets which are supplied by Western Australia. But there, again, a different method of compiling “that information is adopted. Why should this be so? I venture to say that if we had one central bureau operating under the control of the Commonwealth, many thousands of pounds would be saved to the States, and we should be able to furnish them with statistical information which would be quite as handy, from a reference stand-point, as that to which’ we are accustomed in New. South Wales.
– But owing to jealousies on the part of the States we shall be duplicating expenditure.
– I do hope that the honorable member does not think that the jealousies of the States should be regarded as the determining factor in our legislative action. Whilst we must always pay more or less regard to the prejudices of the various States - to their traditions, and to anything which makes for their local patriotism - I say that their mere jealousies ought not to prevent us pursuing a course which we clearly see will be for the ultimate benefit of the Commonwealth at large. I quite agree with the honorable member that we ought not to duplicate the burden which is at present imposed upon the taxpayer in regard to the collection of statistics. But we ought to legislate upon this question, and we ought to establish our own Statistical Bureau without paying any heed to the local prejudices of the States, to which constant reference is made, by implication, in this Bill. The desire to consider their prejudices is written large all over the Bill. It seems, indeed, to be almost apologetic tothe States
– The honorable member for Wentworth has expressed a contrary opinion.
– While I am always anxious, particularly in the present position of the Federation, to preserve States’ rights, I think that this is one matter regarding which we ought to consider,, not so much the local jealousies of theStates, as their welfare as a whole. I do not hesitate to say that in the collection, and presentation of statistics we could save many thousands of pounds, whilst at the same time consulting the convenience of those who have to resort to them throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– If the States would not give way the honorable member would make the unhappy taxpayers pay twice.
– They say that they will not give way. I am endeavouring to show my honorable friend that this is one of the matters with respect to which we ought to apply a little legitimate pressure to the States. If we could set up* a statistical bureau, which would manifestits superiority to those of the States in the collection of the same information, I think that the States Government would soon see that they were wasting their own money in. continuing this work.
– Does the honorable member think that the Federal bureau will besuperior to those of the States ?
– I have alreadysaid that the taking of the census and thecompilation of statistics generally is essentially a matter for the Commonwealth.
– But as regards statistics relating to industries over which we have no> control ?
– The honorablemember has only to investigate the industrial _ statistics of the various States to recognise the necessity of some Federal power to arrange them upon a uniformbasis.
– If we could arrive at that..
– We have the power.
– I think so. Letthe honorable member compare, for instance, the way in which the rates of wages, in similar industries in the various Statesare compiled. That matter in itself has. furnished for many years the great boneof contention between Victoria and New South Wales with reference to the fiscal-‘ issue. Victorians have quoted their own statistics to prove conclusively that in the protected, industries of this State, prior to Federation, much higher rates of wages were paid than were ruling in’ similar industries in New South Wales. On . the other hand, the free-traders of New South Wales have proved conclusively from the statistics of that State that the rates of wages were much higher in New South Wales than they were in Victoria. If we had had a common set of statistics for both States, arranged by the one compiler, there would not have been anything like as many points of difference as have existed for many years. I do not pretend to say that the mere manipulation of these statistics would have settled the fiscal problem. It does not rest in the last resort upon an analysis of statistics, or anything of the kind. I do say, however, that we should have less of the constant wrangling that we have witnessed between, the States if we had a common set of figures, dealing with our social and industrial development, emanating from the same source, and that that source ought unquestionably to be a Federal one. I therefore think that, if we regard the matter from the view point of the collection of industrial statistics, or from any point of view whatever, the argument is wholly in favour of centralizing the control and unifying the work throughout the whole of the States. I can understand some local jealousy at the suggestion of the surrender of some of Tasmania’s powers in this respect, because that State has a very able compiler of statistics. In some respects, I think that Mr. Johnston is the equal of Mr. Coghlan, and there can be no doubt that he is a very able statistician. That being so, we may understand readily enough that there may be some tardiness on the part of Tasmania in surrendering these powers to the Commonwealth. But, so far as I recollect the correspondence - and I am speaking now only from memory - when the proposal was put by the Commonwealth Government to the different States, it was referred to the Statisticians for report, and they, without exception, vetoed it. That was only to be expected. Why should they veto themselves practically out of the independent control of this work? Most of them, of course, would still be required just as at present, but there would be less of the detailed work to be done by them than there is at the present time. If the Commonwealth took over this matter, most of the States Statisticians, in my opinion, might also with advantage be taken over. They could be made States inspectors in some such way as we have States inspectors under the Public Service Act. As to the detailed work of collecting and compiling statistics, a great deal of labour could be saved by unifying the control. Much of the labour now involved in the collection of statistics is due to the Federal reference that is constantly necessary. We know, for example, that nearly all the statistical compilations of the States contain comparisons with other States. That involves immense labour, and it is in this respect particularly that a great saving would be effected by a common collection of statistics, and a common control and presentation of them by one central office. I trust that before the Bill leaves the Committee the Minister will see whether we cannot take a great deal more power in this respect than that for which provision is made in the tentative little measure - the halfhearted measure I had almost said - that he has presented to the Chamber. Let us refer for a moment to clause 8, which provides that -
The Governor-General may enter into any arrangement with the Governor of any State providing for any matter necessary or convenient for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to this Act and in particular for all or any of the following matters : -
The clause then goes on to provide that all the information we are seeking power to obtain under this Bill may be supplied to us through State sources. If we are going to have a central bureau of statistics for the Commonwealth, it ought to be on the basis of economy in the present order of things ; it ought not to contemplate the perpetuation of the present costly services which are now rendered to all the States. On the whole, Australia is, perhaps, better served in the matter of statistics .than is any other country of which I know. One has only to turn to the Canadian Year Book to see the immense advantage which we enjoy in this respect over Canada.
– Is that a governmental publication ?
– Yes. Our multiplication of figures in the way of tabulation does not seem to give us the prosperity and reputation, industrially, socially, and otherwise, which the people in Canada are enjoying just now. But of all the countries I know of, Canada is the one country as to which it is difficult to get information concerning industrial and social matters. For instance, it would be the most difficult thing possible, I think, to learn the rates of wages in its iron industry, or in its coal-mining industry, or in other industries. Its industrial statistics are of the most meagre order and kind. I think that where Canada spends 1 on the collection of statistics, we. in Australia, must spend nearly £5. Quite apart from the question as to whether we spend too much, or too little, an opportunity Is here afforded for effecting a great economy to the1 taxpayers of Australia. Our course ought to be very clear and definite, and that is to set up an industrial bureau, and place upon the States the responsibility for the duplication of the work if they so desire. The States have been asked to intrust the Commonwealth with the collection of statistics, and the doing of the work, and they have all replied, “No,” emphatically. But that, I venture to say, should not end the matter at all. We have simply appealed to interested persons to surrender some of their vested interests, and, of course, they have replied “No.” One wonders why the Premiers of the States have, as I think, so weakly passed on the reports of their officers with their own indorsements. There does not seem to have been any attempt made to seriously negotiate the matter at all, or even to seriously consider it. All that has been done has beep courteously/ to pass on our reference to them, get the answer of interested statisticians, and send it on to us with their own indorsement. There is an obligation upon the Federal Government to take a further step, andi not to let the matter end in that perfunctory way. They ought to furnish serious reasons, together with estimates, to the whole of Australia. It ought not to be a difficult matter to furnish an estimate for each State showing the possible saving amongst other advantages bv the transfer of this work to the Commonwealth. I think that if we could show that a saving of say several thousands pounds a year would be effected in each State,” the States would very soon want to know why it was that they were incurring this expense, while the work was also being done under Federal control. Having passed certain laws affecting all the States particularly in their industrial relationship - having granted a sugar bounty, framed a common Tariff, passed a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. and done a! dozen other things of a like kind - surely it ought to be the aim of the Commonwealth to collect our industrial and social statistics, and unify them as .far as possible? That could be done, I think, if the Government were to proceed in the right way, and treat the matter as if they were in earnest. I never saw anything mora weak than the action of the Government in their negotiations with the States on this subject. I think that, even now, if the Government would, look about them, they could get a competent man to report upon the whole question, particularly with a view to showing what saving could be effected by the unifying of the process. I am sure that a man like Mr. Coghlan would give the Government an estimate in that regard, and I am inclined to think that public opinion would soon do the rest when it was seen that the States were wasting money in what I cannot help thinking would be a wanton way. At any rate, that is a matter for the States to consider. I do not know who is responsible for the gingerly fashion in which the Bill is drawn. My criticism may or may not apply to the Minister in whose charge it is. I do not know to whom it applies, but whoever drew the Bill has treated the States in far too gingerly a fashion as to a matter which, in its very essence, is one for unification of control and operation.
– Does the honorable member think that the Minister has treated the House properly in asking for two diametrically opposite powers, namely, the power to remit to the State and the power to carry out the work himself?
– For the moment I am only looking at clause 8, which gives the “Minister “power to talk nicely and appealingly to the States on ‘this matter.
– But clause 16 gives him power to do what he likes.’
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. I believe that, as I entered the Chamber, the leader of the Opposition was referring to the omission’ of some matters from that clause. I understood the right honorable gentleman to be referring to the. need for collecting statistics as to holdings and land occupation generally.
– He mentioned that he thought it should be expressly set out in the Bill, but his objection is met by the provision for statistics in relation to agriculture and industry.
– .The Minister will have to alter the wording of the Bill if he intends it to cover holdings, tenures, and all that kind of thing, It is a matter of almost supreme obligation on our part to collect statistics showing the trend of settlement. For instance, nearly all the States are passing a number of measures for closer settlement, and measures which have to do with the social amelioration df the people, beginning at the point of settlement upon the land. If I am not very much mistaken, while the States are doing this legislative work in a small way, the process of aggregating large estates is proceeding out of all proportion to their efforts in the other direction. Take, for instance, the case of New Zealand. The Government of that Colony have been buying estates at the rate of ,£750.000 a year for the last ten or twelve years, but in spite of that effort in this great Colony, which is supposed to be at the very apex of our social and industrial community, 500 persons own one-half of its alienated lands. I am afraid that the same process is in operation in Australia, that for every estate which is bought and cut up for the people, estates are being formed in a greater ratio than the efforts of the States to reduce the size.
– I do not think that that has been the case in -recent years.
– T.hat is so, I believe, to-day. If the honorable member will investigate the figures, he will find that for every estate that is bought amd cut up, two or three estates are made by the process of aggregation which is going on.
– That occurred in 1895 and 1898, while land was cheap, but it has not occurred since then.
– I have just quoted the case of New Zealand, where, after ten or twelve years’ experience of this radical land policy, 500 persons own onehalf of its alienated lands.
– What were the figures for a few years ago?
– I do not know. I am speaking from memory.
– The facts are quite the contrary in Victoria.
– That shows the great need for a common compilation of statistics bearing upon this particular matter. If we had the figures tabulated, we should be able to discover whether we were doing good, and, if so, to what extent, by the social legislation of the various States ; we should be able to see which State and which method was tackling the problem in the best way, and what further improvements, if any, were required. That is a matter of the utmost consequence to Australia at the present time, in view of our efforts in the direction “of social amelioration. I think that statistics on such a subject ought to be under the control of the Commonwealth of Australia, and. ought not to be left to the various States. Then take our systems of internal taxation. If the Commonwealth had absolute control, statistical information on that subject could be tabulated. We should get, for instance, tabulated statements of the direct taxation of the various States, showing at a glance, in one table of figures, what methods were adopted right through the whole gamut of internal taxation. Again, with regard to the count of the heads of the people, I understand that at present, by reason of an understanding arrived at between the Statisticians of the various States, the census is taken on a uniform plan. But there is no guarantee that the same method is adopted as to’ details such as would be possible if one authority had control. There may be a common understanding between the heads of the statistical branches of the States, but there is no guarantee that a common method is followed in detail. We have seen the importance of thi’s subject only recently in connexion with another matter, to which I may not refer just now. There has been great diversity of opinion even in this Chamber, as well as in the States, in consequence of statistics being collected upon different bases. I think we should go to the very root of these differences and sources of friction if we handed over the whole subject to the common control of the Federal Government. I therefore offer these remarks in the hope that, before this Bill gets through Committee, the Minister will see his way to make it very much more far-reaching than it is, and that he will set up the authority of the Commonwealth, and desire to exercise it, without all these continuous and gingerly references to the States.
– I wish to say a word about the “Bill before the motion for the second reading is carried. It seems to me that the measure proposes to confer rather important powers upon officials. We read about a schedule that has to be filled up. There is a penalty of 10 which may be imposed upon any one who fails to fill up the schedule in a proper manner. But, although this is rather an important power to intrust to an official, it appears to me that there is a conflict between the clauses as to what is meant. For instance, clause 15 provides -
Every person shall to the best of his knowledge and belief answer all questions asked him by a Collector touching any information required to be. filled up and supplied in the householder’s schedule. Penalty, £o.
In clause 21. however, I find that a contradiction of the compulsory clause exists, lt says -
No person shall be liable to any penalty for omitting to state the religious denomination to which he belongs or adheres.
If we desire to have statistics of the religion of our people, we should take power to enforce the obtaining of particulars. At present, it appears to me that we give power on the one hand, and take it away on the other. I trust that’ before the Bill is passed a schedule will be added to it that will show what is really required, and will reconcile “the clauses to which I have directed attention.
– To a certain extent, there has been, in the criticism of this Bill, a conflict of opinion. The honorable member for -Wentworth asked us to proceed in the most cautious manner.
– In a “circumspect manner.”
– In a “ circumspect manner,” to be accurate. The honorable member seems to think that the Bill is an indication of an intention to override and disregard the States.
– It gives power to do so.
– I took it that the honorable member said that it was an illustration of a tendency to override the powers of the States. But the honorable member for Parramatta takes a different view. His idea is that we are treating the subject in too gingerly a fashion.
– There is no difference between my view and that of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I should say that there is a good deal of difference between the two views. The idea of the honorable member for Parramatta is that we should deal with this subject, and should exercise our powers in a firm and decided manner.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that either clause 8 or 16 should be very much modified.
– However, I am glad to learn that there is harmony, between the views of the honorable members. The view which I take of what. is intended is this: That there are certain matters within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and that for the exercise of those powers it is absolutely essential that we should have statistics dealing with trade, exports and imports, navigation, and population. The intention in passing the Bill is that the Commonwealth will exercise these powers, and will take over those matters which are essential to the exercise of its jurisdiction. But it is recognised that the States have concurrent “powers in dealing with matters of statistics. It is recognised that they have concurrent powers of legislation - that at least they have individual powers of legislation on State matters - and that they may for their own purposes require to have their own information prepared in their own waySeveral of the States desire, and state that they intend, to retain their own statistical branches. The Bill provides that the Commonwealth shall appoint a Statistician. It is to be hoped that we shall get the very best Statistician possible for the position. That Commonwealth Statistician is to proceed to take such steps as are essential for the exercise of. the national powers of .the Commonwealth. But it is recognised that the States have certain powers of legislation of their own, as to which they may desire to have their own local statistics ; and our desire is that if the States will not give up those powers, instead of double-banking, the Commonwealth shall try to work with them, and see if we cannot act at least uniformly in connexion with statistics that are required by the Commonwealth concerning State matters.
– There is no guarantee of that in the Sill.
– The Bill gives the powers that are necessary, and the provision can only be framed in that way. We cannot dictate to the States, and say that they shall do certain things in respect of their own particular powers of legislation. Let me put the matter in this way : since the jurisdiction of the States deals with matters of land, the States may collectfor their own purposes what information they choose; but with a view to dealing with the question of Australian settlement as a whole, it is exceedingly desirable that information in regard to land should be collected and presented in a Commonwealth form. If the States desire to gather such information for themselves, we cannot prevent them from doing so; but we ought to give ourselves power to go to the States and say - “ We desire to negotiate with you, and ask you to collect this information throughout Australia on a uniform basis, so that it may be available in dealing with the question of land settlement as a whole.” Of course, we have power to do all this, independently of the States, but, at the same time, our desire, as has been suggested, is not to take a high hand, but to work harmoniously with the States andina fair-spirit. Commonwealth matters must always be pre-eminent; and we must reserve to ourselves the right to collect information in the manner we deem best for our own purposes. Some criticism has been levelled at the principle of the measure, while other observations have been directed to details, which would, perhaps, be better considered in Committee. There are one or two points in regard to which I should like to give some indication of my attitude, because they are in regard to matters of a general nature. In the first place, it has been suggested that there should be fixed periods at which the census shall be taken. When introducing the Bill, I announced that it was my desire that there should, and hope that there would, be fixed periods, my words being -
It is intended that the Commonwealth census shall be decennial.
I used the same words in regard to another measure. My sole reason for putting the matter in that way was that we might negotiate with some of the States in which Acts have been passed dealing with the taking of the census.; but, so far as I am concerned, I see no objection to providing in the Bill that the census shall be decennial. The other point mentioned by the honorable member for Kooyong had already been receiving my attention with a view to the inclusion of a provision of the kind suggested in the Bill. That is, a provision providing what details shall be included in the householder’s schedule. I find that there is a similar provision in the States Acts, and also in the English Act; and, undoubtedly, when the schedule had been prepared under the Bill, it would have contained all these details. A conference of Statisticians was against the idea of having a householder’s schedule, such as that mentioned by the honorable member for Brisbane, included in the Bill, and favoured simply the inclusion of the heads of the inquiries. I am prepared, however, to have drafted a clause providing for the inclusion of these details, with others which may be prescribed ; and that is in accordance with the view expressed by the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney a while ago. The honorable member for Wilmot was very anxious lest the States should, in this matter, be overlooked altogether - lest the States were going to be “ double-banked.” As I have already pointed out, the desire is, while leaving the States to exercise the functions which lie within their power, to at the same time so exercise Commonwealth functions as to obtain that uniformity which is essential for Commonwealth purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
– This clause, in my opinion, is hardly comprehensive enough. For instance, by clause 7 it is proposed to appoint enumerators, collectors of census, and collectors of statistics; and I suggest that we ought to have some definition of these terms. “ Collector “ has a technical meaning under the Customs Act, and there might be a danger of the collector in each State being thought the officer in charge m each State.
– There would be no danger in that.
– If the Minister is satisfied on the point, I shall say no more.
– It would be well, I think, to include definitions of a number of other expressions used in the Bill ; and in this connexion the definitions in the New South Wales Act are worthy of attention. I am convinced that a great many difficulties will be evaded if definitions are given to such terms as “factory,” “occupier,” “owner,” “plant,” “proprietor,” “station,” and so forth, all of which are defined in the New South Wales Act. I do not think that the Minister would have power by regulation to define the terms used in the Bill.
– Why should “ plant “ be defined ?
– A question might be raised in regard to factories, which there is power to inspect.
– The regulations will deal expressly with that matter.
– I question very seriously whether any power of regulation would enable the Minister or the GovernorGeneral to extend the ordinary meaning of the word “owner,” for instance. The Bill provides that an owner shall render certain returns, and no regulation could be passed to provide that the word “owner” should, as in the New South Wales Act, mean “co-owner, superintendent, agent, or person in possession or in charge of any farm, station, factory,” and so forth. An “ agent or person “ would not and could not be the owner, who might, perhaps, not be in the country.
– That can always be defined in the regulations.
– But where a term is used in an Act, its meaning cannot be extended by regulations under the Act. Take the word “proprietor” or the word “plant.” The meaning of those words could not be extended by regulations.
– These points have all been carefully considered, but if I find it is necessary I shall be prepared to recommit
– There is some force in the objection which has been raised to this clause. I think that it is not possible by regulation to extend the ordinary meaning of the word “factory,” for instance. Most of the difficulty which has arisen from the varying definitions of somewhat similar terms in the legislation of the different States, referred to by the honorable member for Parramatta, has been experienced in connexion with the definition of the word “factory.” If we are to have complete . and consistent Commonwealth statistics, we should adopt consistent definitions of terms that we may know where we are. In Victoria, under the State legislation, a factory is any place in which two men, are employed, and any place in which one Chinaman is employed is also a factory.
– That is only for the purpose of a special Act.
– Quite so; but a Victorian officer, in making a return of the number of factories in the State, would include buildings and places which would not be included by a New South Wales officer making a similar return, for his State. I understand that under some New South Wales legislation a small creamery is regarded as a factory, and the two returns would include altogether different classes of establishments as factories. When there are different definitions of factories recognised in the different States, it seems to me that no regulation which the Minister can frame under this Bill would overcome the difficulty.
– I refer the honorable and learned member to clause 19. in which he will find a reference to “any factory, mine, workshop, or place where persons are employed.”
– What is a factory? That is the point.
– The Minister will admit how very necessary it is that we should adopt a common standard for purposes of comparison, when it is remembered that different standards have been adopted in the different States in the pursuit of varying policies. There are, for instance, arbitration laws in force in some States, and not in others, and it is necessary that we should know the effect of the legislation in different States. That is chiefly the reason why I am pleased that this measure has been introduced - that we might establish a uniform method of compiling statistics which would enable us to make accurate comparisons. In order that we may do that, we must provide for accurate and consistent definitions of terms. I think that the leader of the Opposition, in drawing attention to the absence of complete definitions in this Bill, is doing the Committee a service, and is pointing out a defect which I hope the Minister will remedy.
– I do not think that the definition of dwelling in this clause is sufficiently clear or comprehensive. It is defined to be - a building, erection, or tenement, whether permanent or temporary, which is wholly or partly used for the purpose of human habitation.
It is very questionable whether a tent could be brought within that definition. Even if it could, we know that there are a number of people who, in the ordinary sense of the term, have no habitation at all. I refer to people who camp out.
– I have given notice of a new clause to deal with that difficulty.
– I agree with the remarks which have fallen from the honorable members for East Sydney and Corio with regard to the necessity for more complete definitions in this clause. Every one who has had occasion to consult the statistics of the various States, must know how difficult it is to arrive at a proper conclusion with regard especially to the conditions of industrial life in those States. The definition attached to the word “ factory “ is a notable cause of this difficulty, as it means one thing in New South Wales, another in Queensland, and yet another in Victoria. We require some assurance that the Commonwealth Statistician, in making his calculations, has had a common basis on which to work. When the Statistician tells us that there are so many factories in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, we shall require to know that he does not refer to one thing in connexion with one State, and to quite another in dealing with some other State. Honorable members will remember how difficult it was during the very long discussions which we had on the Tariff in the first session of this Parliament, to reconcile the figures produced by honorable members representing particular States in support of the fiscal policy they advocated. The arguments adduced in support of free-trade in New South Wales, and of protection in Victoria, supported as they were by statistics which were not compiled on a common basis, were rather misleading than convincing. If, as I understand it, the object of this measure is to secure uniformity in the collection of the statistics of the; Commonwealth, it is obviously necessary that the definitions used) should have a uniform meaning, as applied to -all the States.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- The Minister has consented to include the definition of factory set out in the New South Wales Act. I, therefore, move -
That the following words be added, “ ‘Factory’ means any works, mill, or establishment used for the purpose of manufacturing,, treating, or preparing any article.”
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- In clause 16. paragraph a, I find a reference to *’ industrial statistics.” and I should like the Minister to tell the Committee whether the meaning of “ industrial statistics “ varies in each State, and, if so, whether he is prepared to accept some definition of the term as an amendment to this clause.
– If it is found necessary to recommit the clause for that purpose, I shall have no objection.
– I think it is necessary that in a Bill of this sort, we should, at least, have some definition of the word “census,” ‘because in another measure which we have passed, we have provided for enumerators, and for enumeration.
– Not for enumerators, but for enumerations, and only within the meaning of that Bill.
– I think that Bill has a reference to the taking of a census, and the two measures are distinctly related. The two Bills are very closely related in some of their functions, and that makes it the more necessary that there should be a definition of the word “census” in this clause. In the New South Wales Act the census provided for is defined as “ an account of the population of New South Wales,” and I think that the census covered by the provisions of Part III. should be defined in similar language. I therefore move -
That the following words be added : - “ ‘ Census’ means an account of the population of the Commonwealth of Australia.”
– I do not think that there is any need for the definition. There is no such definition in the English Act, the word “census” having an accepted meaning throughout the Empire, and being already used in our own legislation. Any definition such as is proposed may take away from the generally accepted meaning which the word now possesses, and that I do not think desirable.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I desire that there shall be no confusion between the words “enumeration” and “census.” In the Representation Bill we provide for an “enumeration,” which is a method of obtaining information relating to the number of our population without actually counting heads.
– Then what the honorable member should do is to define the word “enumeration.”
– “ Census,” in the broad acceptation of the term, has other meanings than an account of the population, and the Bill differentiates between a census, the taking of which is provided for in Part III., and “ statistics,” the collection of which is provided for in Part IV., while Part V. contains a number of miscellaneous provisions. Therefore the Bill itself limits the meaning of the word “census.” According to the dictionary, “census” may mean either “ a registered statement of the particulars of a person’s property for taxation purposes, “ “ an enumeration of the inhabitants of a State or country taken by order of the Legislature,” or “any official enumeration of the population.” These definitions cover the collection of statistics relating to property, as well as to the number of the population, although the Bill makes a distinction between the two meanings. I think that we might with advantage adopt the New South Wales definition.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- Will the adoption of this definition affect the right of the Department to collect the ordinary information collected at census time in addition to making an enumeration of the population?
– The word “ census “ is used in the Constitution.
– Is it defined there ?
– The dictionary definition is so wide that we think that, as Part III. of the Bill deals specially with the taking of “ a census “ the word should be defined in this clause.
– Any words of definition will limit the meaning of the word; they will not extend it.
– Any attempt to define the word “ census “ will lead to a result which honorable members wish to avoid, by limiting its meaning. If we define “census,” we must go further, and define “ statistics.”
– I think that we might take a census of the Committee now. [Quorum formed.”]
– The meaning attached to the word “ census “ is a much wider one than that suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta. It is commonly accepted as including an enumeration of the people, together with the collection of information relating to the occupations they follow, their wealth, and everything connected with their social and other conditions in life. I think we might very well accept the word in its ordinary meaning. If we attempted to define it, we should have to follow a similar coursewith a number of other words employed in the Bill. I see no difficulties in connexion with the Bill, and I think we might proceed with it a little more rapidly if the Minister will consent to adopt the very reasonable suggestion that he should fix a date for the taking of the census.
– I have already agreed to the decennial periods.
– I think there should be some uniformity between our census arrangements and those in other parts of the Empire.
– I cannot agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta that we should define the word “ census.” We should derive no benefit from adopting such a course, but, on the other hand, might expose ourselves to unnecessary risks. The word “census “ is used in the Constitution without any definition, and consequently the meaning attached to the word in that connexion would apply also to the word as used in the Bill. Any definition that we might adopt would not enlarge the meaning of the word,but might limit it. The definition clause, however, is not sufficiently comprehensive. It is necessary that the meaning of the word “occupier” should be set out.
– I am prepared to accept the Victorian definition.
– It will be necessary alsoto adopt a definition of the word “ factory,” which occurs in clause 16.
– We have already accepted a definition of that word.
– I do not know that it will be necessary to define “mining,” but the phrase “ productive industries generally “ is a very vague one. When we are discussing clause 16 we shall require to get down to much closer grips, and it may be necessary to recommit the definition clause. I understand that the Minister has agreed to that course.
– If it appears necessary.
– Necessary to whom? Do I understand that the clause will be recommitted if it appears to be necessary to honorable members on this side of the House ?
– That must be left to the Minister, so far as his promise to recommit is concerned.
– I am not so sure about that. Several other definitions will be found to be necessary as weproceed with the Bill.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - Honorable members have not criticised my amendment so much as the drafting of the Bill. The limitation which I seek to put upon the word ‘ ‘ census ‘ ‘ is intended to fit the Bill. In clause 11 it is explained what the enumeration of the census will consist of, and a great distinction is made between the taking of a census and the collection of statistics. If the word “census” used in the Constitution is intended to have the wide application suggested - which I do not deny - why are any limitations adopted in the Bill ? Part III. sets forth exactly what the taking of the census means, and in Part IV. it is provided that the Statistician shall collect annual statistics. In Part III. the taking of the census is called “ the taking and collection of the census,” and in Part IV. it is provided that statistics shall be collected annually. Those are widely different terms. The Bill seeks to limit the taking of the census to the counting of the population of the Commonwealth, and therefore I do not see why the definition clause should not contain a clear limitation of the meaning of the word.
– It would be unfortunate if we limited the meaning of the word “ census.” The Minister might have cleared the way if he had explained that he would in some later clause provide that the census should include particulars as to the age, profession, occupation, religion, and education, of the people and regarding the number of rooms in each dwelling, and the number and description of the live stock. It would, be a pity to limit the meaning of the word “census.”
– I quite agree with the honorable member. That term is large enough to cover all the information which he desires.
– Where does the Minister propose to make provision for the collection of that information?
– Probably in clause 13A. I am getting a clause drafted to meet the case.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ ‘Occupier ‘ includes every governor, superintendent, officer-in-charge, or keeper of any gaol, prison, hospital, lunatic asylum, or public or charitable institution.”
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- I should like to ascertain from the Minister what is the difference between a “ collector “ and an “ enumerator “ ?
Mr. GROOM (Darling “Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - A “ collector “ is a person who is sent round to leave the schedules with which he is provided, at every household, and who subsequently calls and collects them ; whereas an “ enumerator “ is a person who assists the Statistician at his office to add ug the returns. The term “ enumerator is well-known,, although it is not defined in any statute.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The Governor-General may appoint a Commonwealth Statistician, who shall have such powers and perform such duties as are conferred or imposed on him by this Act or the regulations. _ Mr. REID (East Sydney).- At first sight, this clause seems to me to limit the powers of the Governor-General.
– The Bill will give hint certain powers, and the regulations may extend them.
– It seems to me that, under the clause in its present form, if the Minister gave the Governor-General some perfectly legitimate form of power, the objection might be raised that he can only be vested with such powers as are conferred upon him by the Bill and the regulations.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The Statistician, in relation to any particular matters or class of matters, or to any particular State or part of the Commonwealth, with the approval of the Minister, may, by instrument under his hand, delegate any of his powers under this Act (except this power of delegation), so that the delegated powers may be exercised by the delegate with respect to the matters or class of matters, or the State or part of the Commonwealth specified in the instrument of delegation.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I presume that there are two ways by which power may be delegated to the State authorities : the Governor-General, under clause 6, and the Minister, under clause 7, have power to appoint permanent _ and temporary officers respectively. In ‘ the first stages of Commonwealth control, almost every question which will arise will be one of policy, because it will be the constant endeavour of the Minister to, without friction, bring all the statistical bureaux of the States under the control of the Commonwealth. The delegation of power, provided for in this clause,, will, I contend, practically allow the Commonwealth Statistician to decide matters which must in their relative importance be questions more or less of policy. It seems to me that the Bill would’ be fairly complete without the inclusion of this clause, and I. should like to ask the Minister if he can assign any special reason for providing for this delegation of power from the Commonwealth Statistician to the State authorities.
– I wish to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill if an enumerator will not really be a delegate of . the Statistician?
– An enumerator will not be a .delegate. This clause is dealing with Commonwealth affairs. The Commonwealth embraces’ a very large area, and the Government may require an important function to be discharged or inquiry to be made locally by a responsible person. It is desired that an important inquiry should be intrusted to only a competent person, with the approval of the Minister. The honorable member for Wentworth referred to the importance of having a person of some responsibility to deal with these matters. This work can be done only with the express approval of the Minister, and a delegation of necessity implies a specified and limited power to be exercised by the delegate. “Mr. Kelly. - It is easier to authorize a delegation than to appoint a man within the meaning of the Act.
– The person to whom the delegation may be granted may be a public officer. Suppose that the Government wished certain inquiries to be made. A State officer might have ai special delegation of a limited /nature granted to him, but if no such person were available, a Federal officer might be selected for the purpose. When dealing with the affairs of the nation in a country covering such a large area, it mav be desirable that a particular inquiry should be made under a special delegation, and that is the reason for the clause.
– I see the point now.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The Governor-General may, subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, appoint such permanent officers as he deems necessary for carrying out this Act.
– I do not exactly know the necessity for this clause, because the power to appoint permanent officers is already given in the Public Service Act. I should like to know what is the necessity for the clause?
– I do not think that the clause is necessary. It was only put in to contrast the permanent officers with the other officers. I am prepared to omit it.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - It is a pity that the Minister drew attention to the contrast between clauses 6 and 7, because the appointment of temporary officers who may be temporarily employed for years without a break, as collectors of statistics, is to be made by the Minister, not even ou the recommendation of the Commonwealth Statistician. The contrast has indicated that clause 6 is unnecessary, and that clause 7, in its present form, is highly undesirable.
Clause 7 -
The Minister may appoint, or may authorize the Statistician to appoint or employ, temporary officers as Enumerators, Collectors of the Census, or Collectors of Statistics.
– I should like the Minister to alter this clause. Under the Public Service Act temporary employment may be given for a limited time, I- think, on the recommendation of the Commissioner.
– No; under section 40 the power of appointment is in the hands of the Minister.
– Section 40 reads -
Whenever in the opinion of the Minister of a Department the prompt despatch of the business of a Department renders temporary assistance necessary, and the Commissioner is unable to provide such assistance from other Departments in the State in which such assistance is required, the Permanent Head or the Chief Officer shall select in such manner as may be prescribed from the persons whose names are upon the prescribed register in the State in which such assistance is required, such person or persons -
Temporary employment can only be given for nine months continuously under exceptional circumstances, and for six months continuously under ordinary circumstances. But under clause 7 of this Bill, no certificate is required from anybody. It does not even say that the Statistician shall recommend an appointment. I foresee fine times for everybody concerned when the taking of a census is coming along.
– Are not these appointments to be made subject to the Public Service Act?
– No. Clause 6 was not necessary, because provision was already made in the Public Service Act, and this clause is dangerous, because it will open the door to making all sorts of appointments, not only at census time but year by year.
– I find that the appointment of these temporary officers is also covered by sub-section 6 of section 40 of the Public Service Act, and, therefore, I am prepared to allow the clause to be negatived. That sub-section reads as follows : -
Notwithstanding the provisions hereinbefore contained, the Governor-General, if it appears in the public interest to be desirable so to do, may in the case of temporary work in the carrying out of any public work or scheme, order that the temporary employment of all or any persons employed upon such work or scheme may be continued until the completion of the same; and unless otherwise ordered by the Commissioner or the Permanent Head, any person may be temporarily employed by the Chief Officer in the Government Printing Office, or in the preparation of the census, for such time as may be necessary.
– Am I to understand that it will not be necessary for the name of any’ one desiring temporary employment under the clause to be on the Public Service Register?
– I can foresee very great difficulties, indeed, in carrying out a census if we were to insist that the names of the persons to be employed as subcollectors in remote parts of the State must be on the Public Service Register.
– I hope that the Minister will not give too much away without fully considering his course.
– It is all right.
– I do not know that it is all right. I cannot understand why the Minister gave way in reference to these clauses. If may happen that if the appointments are made under 9ie Public Service Act it will considerably hamper the Department in collecting the census. It may be necessary for some of these officers to be continuously employed, but if they are appointed under the Public Service Act they cannot be appointed for more than nine months consecutively under any circumstances.
– Section 40 of the Public Service Act makes special provision in subsection 6 for the appointment of the men who may be engaged in the preparation of the census.
– I was not aware that it did, but in that case the Minister ought to provide that these appointments shall be made in accordance with the Public Service Act.
– It cannot be done in any other way.
– It ought to be set down here in black and white.
– It is set down in black and white in section 40, and the census isspecially referred to in sub-section 6 of section 40 of the Public Service Act.
– If that is so, why was. clause 6 put in this Bill? What was the draftsman doing that he did not look up the Public Service Act, instead of wasting parliamentary time by putting in a clause which was absolutely unnecessary? When the Minister speaks in that way he is simply passing a vote of censure on one of hisown officers.
– Oh, no ! He inserted thisclause for greater precaution.
– It is very desirable to remove appointments from political influence. It is desirable also, if it could be done, toabolish other influences which affect appointments. The present system is not working too well. Cases have arisen in which even Ministers could not, owing to the red-tape methods of the Public Service Act, obtain officers for special duties. It is strange that neither of the two different arrangements for making appointments provided in these clauses suit the Opposition. Surely, if they disagree with the appointments being made under the Public Service Act, they ought to be satisfied with the proposal to confer that power on the Minister.
– I take a different view from that which hasjust been expressed by the honorable member for Coolgardie. If ever there was 3 matter which should be placed outside the control of Ministerial action, it is that of the collection of the statistics of the Commonwealth. I cannot conceive of any work more vital to the interests of Australia and to the purity of our public life than the proper collection of these statistics. Does the honorable member think that the Minister ought to choose the officers to make an enumeration for the electoral purposes of the Commonwealth? In view of our experience, I should not be prepared to place such a tremendous power in the hands of any Minister.
– Has not the Parliament power to hold a Minister responsible for his actions?
– Certainly. We have a vivid recollection of the way in which Parliament did not censure the honorable member for Hume, then Minister of Home Affairs, in connexion with what has been termed “the great gerrymander.” The honorable gentleman brought down set after set of figures, to which we could not pin him down. He presented night after night different sets of statistics, bearing the initials of some unknown officer, and when we challenged him to authenticate them by having them initialled by the Chief Electoral Officer, he declined to do so. On the basis of those figures, which, as events proved, were fallaciously furnished to him, the great scheme for the redistribution of the electoral power of the Commonwealth - a work which should have been carried out years ago - was postponed, and it has not yet been dealt with. We were told that a drought was devastating the larger portion of the Commonwealth, and that in normal times those who were then forsaking the country electorates would drift back, with the result that the electorates would be naturally redistributed upon their old basis. But subsequent events have proved every statement then made by the Opposition, and have shown that every assertion made by the Minister on the basis of the figures which he submitted to us - figures which could never be authenticated - was incorrect. The collection of Commonwealth statistics - a matter affecting profoundly the position of Australia in the eyes of the world, affecting, it may be, our character for social legislation, and alf those considerations which should prove attractive to the surplus populations of other countries - ought to be in the hands of an independent authority. The man who selects the labour necessary for the performance of this work should be one to whom no reproach could attach - a man who has no interest to serve except that of telling the truth, and telling it in the most open way. Our experience has been of such an unfortunate character that we ought to take the most complete steps to change the method of compiling these statistics. That can best be done by deputing the work to an independent authority. We shall know, at any* rate, that there is no danger of political influence in connexion with these appointments, and that the details in connexion with our electoral matters and in all matters affecting the welfare of the State are managed in a way that is pure and above-board.
Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon).- Notwithstanding the eloquent speech of my honorable friend, the member for Parramatta, I think there is a great deal in the contention of the honorable member for Coolgardie. Honorable members must recollect that the collecting of the census is temporary work. In most of the States, the practice has been to appoint some individual collector for each constituency. He appoints a number of sub-collectors. These sub-collectors work for a few days in distributing and collecting the papers, and they only get a few pounds out of it. To put the work under the control of the Public Service Commissioner would be to make it ridiculous. It would be absolutely impossible to collect the census in a remote and scattered constituency like that of the honorable member for Coolgardie, upon the plan recommended by the honorable member for Parramatta. In a district, which is comparatively scattered, like my own electorate, the only reasonable practice is to allow the head of the Department to have practically a free hand to select whom he likes, and for the persons selected to appoint sub-collectors.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I submit that the honorable and learned member for Wannon has furnished no reason against the suggestion which I put forward. Is not the honorable member aware of the extent” to which the Public Service Commissioner controls employment at present? There are thousands of temporary hands under his direction. In respect to the outlying portions of the country, I should say that there will be enough public officers to do the work without temporary hands being employed. Additional labour will be needed only in the centres of population.
– The collectors will have to travel hundreds of miles in my electorate.
– The men who will have to do that will be public officers, whose duty now is to travel round in connexion with other matters.
– The honorable member’s proposal cannot be worked.
– It can be, because it has been done. The honorable member is quite wrong in thinking that the temporary labour will be employed in the sparsely-populated districts. If that is all that can be said against this proposal to shift ain enormous responsibility off the shoulders of the Minister there cannot be much objection to it.
– I understand the position to be that the Minister has agreed to allow clause 7 to be omitted from the Bill, because the taking of the census and the means of securing the enumeration in connexion with it, are provided for in the Public Service Act. Let us abide by the law. We want to have the enumeration free from all party bias, religious bias, and bias of every kind. I earnestly hope that the Minister will stick to his proposal. Let us have a responsible officer, whose duty it will be to see that proper men are secured for the work throughout the Commonwealth.
– I think that the Minister must see the happy effect of giving attention to the- suggestions of honorable members opposite. My honorable friend is converting several members of the Opposition into1 admirers by accepting amendments from them. I want him to accept one from me, which will probably be followed by the same result. Clause 6 has gone out of the Bill ; and properly gone out. It is not wanted. But it has rendered us a very good service. It has, by contrast, directed our attention to clause 7. I suppose that there is no one who does not agree to the proposition laid down by the honorable member for Parramatta, that in all these questions connected with the census statistics, upon which our political representation depends, upon which a large number of questions depend in the Government of the Commonwealth and of the States, we should have at least the ordinary safeguard of the Public Service Act. I wish to refer to section 40 of that Act, and to point out that by the use of loose words a very extraordinary state of things arises. Special reference is made in the section to the Government Printing Office and the preparation of the census. We have the safeguard that the chief officer in the Government Printing, Office has the power of appointing these temporary persons. Unfortunately, the words with reference to the census leave the appointment in the hands of the Minister.
– No; will the right honorable gentleman look at sub-section 1 ? The words in the earlier part of the clause govern the last sub-section.
– If it be the case that we can read the section in that way, I am quite willing to do so.
– The employment of temporary hands can be continued by the chief officer until they have prepared the census.
– I am glad that reading can be placed on the clause, because, otherwise, the appointments would have been in the hands of the Minister, and no Minister would desire any sort of patronage in connexion with the Public Service. It is gratifying to know that the power lies with the Chief Officer, who is the Commonwealth Statistician, and, under these circumstances, there is a safeguard under section 40. The effect of clause 7 appears to be to give the Minister absolute patronage in the appointment of temporary officers; and surely that is a position which no Minister would desire.
– I have agreed to this clause being struck out.
Clause 8 (Arrangements with State Governments as to execution of Acts).
Mr. ‘McCAY (Corinella).- I draw attention to a source of information which does not appear to be covered by this clause. In Victoria, and, I believe, in other States, a considerable proportion of the statistics is collected by the municipal councils under the provisions of the State Local Government Act, which requires that the information shall be furnished in this way. Under this method, the municipalities1 act as the collectors of the statistics, which practically cover the whole of the agricultural and pastoral interests. This is a very valuable service, conveniently rendered at comparatively small cost ; and in States which are completely covered by municipalities, the collection is quite thorough, though in other States, where municipalities are scattered, the whole ground cannot, of course, be covered. I do not think that the clause quite covers the right of the Commonwealth to these statistics, except they be obtained by the indirect method set out in sub-clause c. I should like to see the States municipalities continue this work under arrangement with the Commonwealth.
– Under the Bill, we can make arrangements with the States Departments for the supply of this information.
– I doubt whether the clause is sufficient to entitle the Commonwealth to the results of the collections m’ade bv the municipalities under the States Local Government Acts; and I should like to see the Bill amended in this particular. Why should sub-clause b not include the information collected by the municipalities? This valuable source of information is utilized to great purpose in the States; and I think it ought to be taken advantage of by the Commonwealth. I do not know that a municipality could be included amongst the “ prescribed persons,” who, under clause 17, may be called upon to supply information. If they are, the Commonwealth will have to give such persons pay in addition to any pay they may receive from the States.
– The great complaint is that the municipalities do not get any pay from the States.
– No doubt they would ask for pay from the Commonwealth, and, personally, I do not think that the complaints referred to are well founded, seeing that the municipalities get many benefits from the States. I call the Minister’s attention to the source of information, because he may not be aware of the method adopted in the States.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - The point mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is worthy of consideration. At present the returns required by the States are submitted to some central State authority. For instance, Railway Commissioners or a Harbor Trust may be constituted one of the bodies from which information is required, and all the returns thus furnished are sent to a Department of the State Government. In the same way, I presume, the information obtained from municipalities is centralized, and I think It could be obtained by the Commonwealth from the States Departments. Of course, it would be necessary to look at the States Acts, in order to see the class of information that is supplied.
– As I said before, the information supplied by the municipalities in Victoria, practically covers the whole of the agricultural and pastoral interests.
– Are country shires in Victoria called upon to send in that information ?
– Then the information is doubtless sent to a centralized State authority, from which it could be obtained by the Commonwealth under sub-clause c. I presume, however, that the honorable and learned member for Corinella thinks that it might be necessary for the Commonwealth to obtain this information direct, and that we should, therefore, consider whether we have power to do so. I promise to look into the matter; but I think that under clauses 16 and 17 the Commonwealth may obtain the information.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 -
Every officer appointed or employed, whether permanently or temporarily, under this Act, 01 executing any power or duty conferred or imposed on any officer under this Act, or the regulations, shall, before entering upon his duties, or exercising any power under this Act, make before a justice of the peace or commissioner for affidavits, a declaration in accordance with the prescribed form.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That after the word “ officer,” line 1, the following words be left out : - “ appointed or employed, whether permanently or temporarily, under this Act, or.”
– I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that, according to the clause, a declaration is to be made before a justice of the peace, or commissioner for affidavits”, whilst, according to the definition clause, a justice of the peace is included in the term “ commissioner for affidavits.” If a justice of the peace can take this declaration, he is already included, and if he cannot do so, the words “ a justice of the peace “ in this clause are surplusage.
– It means a person authorized under a law of a State to take affidavits or declarations.
– If a justice of the peace is authorized at the present time under the law of a State to take declarations, he is already included, according to the definition clause, and if he is not, he cannot take a declaration under clause 9.
– He could take a declaration for the purposes of this clause. The intention of the clause is to enable the declaration “ in accordance with the prescribed form,” that is a declaration under this Bill, to be taken by a justice of the peace, or commissioner for affidavits.
– Why “ prescribed form,” when in other Acts the form of the declaration is given?
-The honorable and learned member for Corinella is raising another point. A justice of the peace under the High Court could take an affidavit, but his power to take a declaration under this Bill would need to be conferred especially by this Bill. If we were to refer in this clause only to a commissioner of affidavits, we should not confer the power upon a justice of the peace to take this declaration, because, in some of the States “justice of the peace” is not synonymous with the term “commissioner for affidavits.”
– The honorable and learned gentleman thinks that the use of the words in this clause is necessary?
– It is necessary.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that a justice of the peace or commissioner for affidavits in New South Wales could not take an affidavit under this Bill ?
– I think that in this Bill there is a leaving of matters to prescribed form which is quite unnecessary. I do not know whether the English Act includes the form of declaration in a schedule, but I should like to know why the prescribed form of declaration could not be set out in a schedule?
– It is not in the English Act.
– This measure is the delegation of power run to seed. It is mere drafting laziness not to include the form of declaration. The New South Wales and Victorian Acts set out the declaration in a schedule. It is merely a declaration to perform a certain duty, and to maintain secrecy. I would ask the Minister to agree to the amendment of the clause to provide that the declaration shall be in accordance with the form “ in the first schedule.” Fancy having a Bill like this passed without the dignity of a single schedule. I think declarations as to duty should always be prescribed in the Act, and not by regulation. All that is necessary is to make the amendment I suggest now, and the form of the declaration required could be prepared in time to have it inserted in the schedule to the Bill. Will the Minister agree to the amendment?
– No, I think there is no necessity for it.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman will look at the Commonwealth Electoral Act, he will find that declarations of duty are included in that measure. In the New South Wales and Victorian Acts these declarations of persons doing duty are set out in schedules. The proper place for this declaration is in the Bill, a>nd not in regulations made under the Bill. We do not know what officers may be called upon to swear. I cannot understand the Minister objecting, to such an amendment as I suggest. I move -
That the word “ prescribed,” line S, be left out.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - I do not think there is any necessity whatever for the proposed amendment. The objection to it is, that whilst matters which are essential, should be in the Bill, other matters which require to be varied from time to time, should be dealt with by regulation. The essential matter in this case is that there should be a declaration to secure secrecy.
– The Minister would not vary that.
– I do not propose to do so ; that is provided for in the Bill. But when we come to deal with the form of the declaration, and the absolute words to be used, the clause is drafted in. the way in which honorable members find it, in order that the form might be adapted to more than one case, in accordance with the duties which officers have to perform. We cannot lay down a stock form that would be applicable to all cases.
– It is done in the States Acts.
– I think it would be better to leave it in the form provided in the Bill. A declaration may be required, not merely from an enumerator, but from any person exercising powers under this Bill. I see no necessity whatever for the amendment, and I cannot accept it.
– The honorable and learned gentleman cannot accept it, but he appears to have no reasons to offer against it.
– I have offered reasons against it. The form of the declaration is not an essential matter.
– I did not quite follow the Minister’s explanation. He told us that whereas it would not be necessary to alter the terms of the oath for) general administration, it might) be necessary to vary them in individual cases, although the stringency’ or efficacy of the oath would not be impaired.
– I said that different oaths would be administered to persons doing, different duties under the Bill.
– Is the Minister’s position this : that whereas the persons performing’ some duties under the Bill may be required to make an ordinary declaration of good faith and secrecy, others may be required to make a more stringent declaration ?
– I did not say “ more stringent.”
– Then the Minister has given us no reason why the amendment should not be made.
– Honorable members should give reasons why it should be made.
– If the Minister is not prepared to put these words into the schedule, he should say why they should not be put there. The first schedule of the New South Wales Census Act, No. 65 of 1900, provides the following form of oath : -
I, do hereby accept the office of enumerator [or collector] under the Census Act 1901, for the [district or sub-district] to which I have been appointed. And I do solemnly declare that I will faithfully perform the duties of the said office to the best of my knowledge and ability, and that I will not divulge the contents of any Schedule collected under the said Act. (Signature. ) [Enumerator or Collector, as the case may be.] Hade and subscribed before me, at this day of 1901, - [Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Affidavits.]
Surely there can be no objection to putting a similar schedule into this Bill. Such a form of declaration would cover all public servants acting under the measure. Byaccepting the amendment, the Minister would bring the Bill into line with all other Australian legislation on the subject.
– I hope that the- honorable member for Wentworth will not allow his natural feelings of indignation to disturb the harmony which should prevail in a Committee of the whole House during the consideration of a noncontentious measure like this.
– A Committee of the whole House?
– It would be inhuman under present circumstances to make reference to a fact of which notice might be taken on another occasion. I shall, therefore, not pay attention to it now. So far as I am concerned, the presence of two Ministers in the Chamber is sufficient in connexion with this measure. The Bill is in charge of the Government, and so, too, are their supporters, so that I shall not notice the discouraging circumstances under which I am addressing the Committee. I wish to point out that we are falling into a most objectionable method of legislating. Honorable members opposite have, during the present session, swallowed proposals which make them capable of digesting anything in the way of legislation. But I think that they might assist us in amending a perfectly harmless measure, not affecting high Tariff duties or anything of that kind. I have a pretty good knowledge of the Acts providing for the taking of oaths by public officers on entering upon the performance of their duties, and, so far as I am aware, the form of such oaths is always provided for in the schedules to the Acts requiring them. It is inconceivable that two kinds of oaths should be needed to secure secrecy in the performance of his duties by a public officer acting under this measure. Who ever heard of a form of oath providing for secrecy in the performance of a public duty which would ‘pot fit every person charged with that duty ? Surely the Government would not have one form of oath for the head of a Department, another for the chief clerk, and another for the ordinary officer ! As the honorable and learned member for Corinella has pointed out, those who draft Bills for this Committee have found that nothing is loo slipshod for the people they have to deal with. Two absolutely unnecessary clauses were inserted in the Bill, although the provisions they contain are in other statutes : but there has been neglect to provide a necessary form of oath. The Opposition are compelled under the circumstances to constitute themselves an advisory committee to the Government. A more stupid set of men- 1 never addressed. I cannot impress my views upon members.
– Is that fair, after the way in which members of the Opposition have been treated this afternoon.
– I withdraw the word “stupid,” and substitute the word “stolid.” The Attorney-General comes here absolutely exhausted. He drags himself here after a series of brilliant achievements in the Courts, of which he is one of the chief intellectual adornments.
– I have not had six weeks’ vacation.
– The Attorney-General is working double time. He is drawing two “screws.” He is in receipt of his salary as Attorney-General, and also of his income from his practice in the Courts. No Minister ought to do as the AttorneyGeneral has done. When I am occupying the position of Minister there is no staying away on my part. I give up everything in the world, and devote myself to the dude’s of my office; and that is what every Minister ought to do, whether he live in Sydney or in Melbourne. We come here from Sydney, exhausted by a long railway journey, and yet we cannot even get a form of oath inserted in a Bill. That is enough to irritate any one. Ministers must admit that in every Australian statute which requires the administration of oaths, the form of oath is set out, and that we are merely asking them to follow a universal practice.
– How many times does the right honorable gentleman want the Minister to explain his position? He has already clone so very fully.
– 1 was not aware that the Minister had made any explanation. I was absent from the Chamber for a time. I should like to know how the Minister can possibly explain his opposition to a proposal which, if it had been accepted, would have greatly facilitated the progress of the measure. We are not seeking to have an objectionable provision embodied in the measure, but merely ask that provision shall be made for the form of oath to be admintered. I think that the stubborness in this case comes from the Government. . We are not able to get a word into the Bill.
– The right honorable member has succeeded’ in knocking out two clauses.
– I think that the honorable member will admit that we are entitled to some credit for that.
– I do not understand why there should be any objection to embody in the Bill provision as to the form of oath to be administered.
– The Minister wants to bury the form of oath in the regulations.
– The Minister would save time if he agree3 to adopt- a form of oath similar to that provided for in some of the States Acts. Will the Minister state his objection to doing as has been suggested?
– I have already spoken on the subject. The honorable member was absent when I addressed the Committee.
– The Minister might be civil. It is evident that he intends to treat the Committee with contempt. He declines to make any explanation. Will the Attorney-General say what the objection is?
– The Minister of Home Affairs has already spoken at length -upon the subject.
– Ministers are declining to proceed with the business of ‘ the country, and are treating honorable members with contempt.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- If I understood the Minister aright, his reason for wishing the clause to be passed in its present form is that it may be necessary to adopt different declarations for different classes of persons.
– I said that we should require different declarations for different purposes for different persons, and relating to different duties.
– The clause provides that every officer executing any power or duty under the Act shall make a declaration in accordance with “the prescribed form.” That is, one prescribed form, and one declaration. “All persons appointed’ to collect or distribute schedules or calculate figures will be required to take an oath of secrecy and fidelity in the discharge of their duties. If the Bill be passed as it stands, I venture to. say without any hesitation that when the regulations are drafted, there will be but one form of declaration. The Minister did not indicate the conditions which would render two forms of declaration necessary, and his mere allegation that “different forms may be required is answered by only a moment’s consideration. With every respect to the Minister, I venture to submit that he is now taking up an attitude of firmness for the mere love of doing so. Having said “ No,”’ he apparently intends to adhere to his negative, despite any argument that may be advanced in the contrary direction. I claim that Acts of Parliament should not be mere machinery measures to enable regulations ‘ to be framed under them. They should be a full exposition of the law, and the regulations made under them should be merely ancilliary.
– I would point out that the Government are now making a- departure from a timehonoured custom in regard to similar Acts in all the States, so far as work coming within the same category is concerned. In the Electoral Act and in other statutes we have prescribed the form of oath which shall be administered.
– There is no form prescribed in the Electoral Act.
– There are ten or twelve schedules at the end of that Act, in which every step that has to be taken is prescribed. In every Census Act the form of oath to be administered is set out. The conduct of the Minister upon the present occasion is all of a piece with that adopted by his colleagues in connexion with other Bills, which we have been called upon to consider. Perhaps it is a new inspiration on the part of the Attorney-General to make the measure merely a skeleton one, containing loose vague powers, and an abundance of references to “ prescriptions,” and to set up the Minister as the person in authority who is to impart life and movement to the whole concern. I do not think that Bills ought to be drafted as loosely as this measure appears to have been. We ought not to vest such immense powers in the Minister. Take the Commerce Bill as an example. It has been so framed as to make the Minister of Customs practically a Czar, who may “ hold up “ the commerce of the country at any time that he thinks fit. Similarly in this Bill, we are asked to leave it to the Minister to determine what form of oath shall be administered to persons performing work under its provisions. I do not think that he should be allowed a free hand in such matters. At any rate, Parliaments all over the world have prescribed how these things shall be done, and. I do not think we ought to leave them, for the first time, in the hands of the Minister. The honorable and learned gentleman merely affirms that it may be necessary to vary this form of declaration. Why? If it is merely to be a declaration that an officer will do his work dutifully and secretly why should there be any occasion for constantly varying it? These powers are very definitely laid down in the schedule of the Bill, and particularly in Part IV., and consequently, I see no reason why the proposed departure should be made.
– I cannot help regarding this Bill as a very important one. The information which it is proposed to collect under the powers conferred by it affects the very basis of our existence as a people. ,The reason which the Minister advanced against the amendment seems to me to constitute the very reason why we should insist upon the form of the oath being fully set out in the Bill. Surely it is not desirable to leave it to the Minister to say that he believes it to be unnecessary to require an oath to be taken, and that, consequently, an affirmation will suffice, or to introduce other qualifications. At the same time, I think that it might be sufficient to provide that it shall be an ordinary oath. I trust that the Attorney-General will see his way to accede to the reasonable request which has been made, . in order to insure that this measure shall be a workable one. I am most unwilling to assume that the Minister, from sheer obstinacy, opposes this proposal. He has already conceded one or two propositions that must have appealed to his common sense, and it seems to me that it is not only reasonable but absolutely necessary that the form of oath to be taken by those appointed by the Commissioner to carry out this work should be provided in a schedule to the Bill. It is almost incredible that the Minister should continue to oppose this amendment.. The very reason that he has offered for desiring that the form of oath shall be as prescribed is an argument in favour of our insisting that it shall be made a schedule to the Bill. I trust that the proposal will be accepted.
– The matter under discussion is not a very important one, but I feel very strongly that it is unwise to leave too much to be prescribed by regulations. Any one who takes even the most cursory glance at the Commonwealth Statutes must be convinced that we place more power in the hands of Ministers to frame regulations than does any other Parliament in the Empire. Time and again matters of legislation vitally affecting the liberties of the citizens are handed over to Ministers to be dealt with by regulations. Many of the most eminent jurists have pointed out the danger of the growing tendency on the part of democratic Governments to take from Parliament the power to legislate, and, ‘ practically, by means of regulations, to vest it in the hands of an individual or a body of Ministers. Regulations which seriously infringed the liberties and civil rights of individuals might be made while Parliament was in recess, and they would continue to have the force of law until it reassembled and dealt with them. I have felt for some time that a great mistake is being made in leaving so much to be dealt with by regulations, and I intend, wherever I think it necessary, to object to this power being vested in a Minister. No principle is involved in the matter now under discussion, and it1 should not be left to be dealt with by regulations. Only such matters as cannot properly form part of a Bill or of a schedule to a Bill should be left to regulations. The form of oath to be taken by officers under this Bill should certainly be placed in a schedule to it. I agree with the honorable member for Kooyong that the taking of a census is a most important work. As a Scriptural scholar, he will doubtless recollect the very serious consequences that attended the taking of a census mentioned in the Old Testament. I do not know that the same result is likely to follow the taking of a census in Australia, but the less we leave to regulations the better. I lay down the general principle that legislation by regulation - whether it be a regulation made by a Minister, a shire council, or a Justice of the Supreme Court or of the High Court - is undoubtedly bad. Parliament, to my mind, is the only authority . to frame legislation. We are gradually giving away our privileges and placing them one by one in the hands of individuals, whose regulations are as difficult to override in many cases as is an Act of Parliament. Regulations made by Ministers are drawn up without first being subjected to the criticism of Parliament, and I therefore think that we should give with a very sparing hand the right to Ministers to prescribe various matters in this way.
– I hope that the Minister will concede the request made by the Opposition. It has been stated that no form of oath is contained in any Act passed by this Parliament. I find, however, that a schedule to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill passed last session gives the form of oath to be taken by the President or Deputy-President of the Court -
I, A.B., do swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King. . . and that I will not, contrary to my duty, disclose to any person any evidence or other matter brought before the Court. . . .
This is a case in point. If it is necessary that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court should take an oath not to divulge evidence given before him, surely it is equally necessary that officers appointed under this Bill should not divulge information collected by them, the publication of which might be attended with very serious results to the persons concerned. It is very essential that a form of oath should be prescribed, so that there can be no doubt as to the way in which the duties of the officers should be carried out, at all events so far as secrecy is concerned.
– The Minister in charge of the Bill has given his reasons for not agreeing with the proposed amendment, and at the risk of delaying public business more than it has already been delayed by some of my honorable friends on the other side, I wish to draw attention to a precedent. The leader of the Opposition., the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Macquarie, were members of a Government in New South Wales which secured the passing of a Land and Income Tax Act. It contains sections upon which these very clauses have been based. There is nothing more inquisitorial - and it is justly and necessarily so - than a Land and Income Tax Act. In the Act of New South Wales we find a precedent for the clause which is now complained of.
– If we can show a means of improving the Act, surely we are not going to adhere to it? The honorable and learned member has changed his opinion every day on matters of administration.
– I wish to point out how hollow are some of my honorable friends’ objections. We are told that there is no precedent for this clause in any State Act ; but I propose to quote a precedent which they themselves set. Section 8 of the Act, to which I refer, reads as follows : -
The Commissioners shall, before acting in the execution of their office, take and subscribe, before a Police Magistrate or Justice of the Peace, such oath of fidelity and secrecy as may be prescribed, and such oath shall also be taken and subscribed by every other person appointed or employed under this Act before so acting, which may be administered to him by a Commissioner or any Justice of the Peace.
There are other provisions not affecting that at all, but some of them are analogous to clause 24 of this Bill, which provides that -
No officer shall, except as allowed by this Act or the regulations, divulge the contents of any form filled up in pursuance of this Act, or any information furnished in pursuance of this Act. Penalty, £50.
With this precedent before us, with the prohibition under penalty against divulging information, and with the power of the Minister to prescribe an oath or declaration as stringent as he pleases, we may, I am sure, trust him to act. There cannot be any basis for the objections which have been taken here to-night, and I hold, with all respect to honorable members, that it is, I shall not say an undue waste of time, but an unfortunate taking up of public time, to raise all this fuss and bother about a matter which has already received the approbation of the leader of the Opposition in a great measure which he assisted to pass in. New South Wales, and which has been followed in the other States.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- It is perfectly refreshing to hear the AttorneyGeneral getting, up with that confident judicial air of his, which is supposed to efface all differences of opinion as if by magic, and giving as the only basis of his opinion an Act for which I was responsible. This is the first time during the whole course of my parliamentary experience that he has bowed down and worshipped before my shrine It has all the charm of novelty, but I feel so touched by the involuntary mark of approbation and confidence which he has shown, that I feel compelled to add a few observations. He does not courageously say that there has been a waste of time, but there is a sort of suggestion on his part that there is a waste of public time involved in this discussion? When the honorable and learned gentleman, who should be the guide and counsellor of the Chamber, is absent from his post, afternoon after afternoon, it is worse than a waste of time.
– The right honorable and learned gentleman ought to be the last person to say that, if it is true.
– I should like the honorable and learned gentleman to remember that there is something worse than a waste of public time. It may arise from an imperfect knowledge of the law, or the way in which Bills are framed, but there can be no excuse for that avoidance of public duty of which he is guilty time after time.
– Order ! I do not think that the right honorable and learned gentleman can discuss that matter on this clause.
– That was the precise point at which I was passing ‘away from the subject. I hope that what is left of the mental energy of the Attorney-General will be preserved for better purposes than that of interrupting an honorable member, who has travelled 600 miles- to be here to-day. He has only a mile and a half to travel from the Supreme Court to do his duty here, but he cannot get here. In spite of my advancing years, and ever-increasing weight, I have travelled hundreds of miles to do my duty to the public, but my honorable and learned friend cannot crawl up Bourkestreet when there is the least smell of a brief in the atmosphere.
– Magnificent !
– I feel compelled to resent the superior manner in which the AttorneyGeneral addresses the Chamber.
– He is emulating me.
– My honorable and learned friend, whom I used to look upon as a sort of demigod, as regards manners and accomplishments, is nothing compared with the Attorney-General.
The CHAIRMAN. Order! I would draw the attention of the right honorable member to the fact that the question before the Committee is the retention of the word “prescribed.”
– I am very much obliged to you, sir ; but may I point out that whereas the Attorney-General, who has only to come across from the Grand Hotel, cannot get here, I have come hundreds of miles in order to endeavour to assist the Government in the improvement of their measures, which time after time are full of inaccuracies. The Land and Income Tax Act, to which the honorable and learned gentleman referred, is most inquisitorial, as all these Acts are. It was in that instance a matter of the greatest consequence that we should get an oath drawn up in wellconsidered phrases in order that the secrecy of that most inquisitorial department which deals with the incomes or overdrafts of the community should be absolutely preserved. At one time I thought of appointing a. Royal Commission in order to settle the terms of the oath, but I was able to light upon one which, fortunately, met all the circumstances of the case. However, inspire of the trouble that we took in New South Wales in order to get an oath that would be binding upon the consciences of those to whom it was administered, I regret to say that it was insufficient. There has been a number of cases in which I am afraid that oath has not been respectedBut we might have expected a Government which’ has, in its ranks, about the most “ squaring “ element we know of in Australia, to produce something like a parliamentary oath. We only ask them for one form of oath, but we find that they are not capable of producing it, and want to take time to consider it. What do we wish to secure in this Bill? We wish to secure an oath simply to preserve secrecy about a lot of more or less harmless details. But my want of confidence in this Government is so complete that I wish to give the strongest possible reason for putting the form of oath in the Bill. I believe that if we do not put it in the Bill we shall not get an oath that will be binding administered at all. There are so many influences at work in connexion with the ravenous appetite for high protective duties on the part of the two Ministers in front of me that I am not at all satisfied that we shall ever have an oath applied to these officers, such as Parliament itself would have framed. I think that it is. very important that we should have high-minded men appointed to perform these most important duties. How can we trust this Government to frame an oath which will be acceptable to the religious tendencies and judgments of all the estimable people we wish to see employed in connexion with this measure? I do not trust this Government to the length of an oath. I should like to see the terms of the oath put in black and white, and considered by Parliament. But I wish to say this : That this Committee was proceeding with the utmost expedition with this Bill while it was in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs. Suggestion after suggestion was made, which was received by the Minister with the. utmost courtesy ; and I never saw t a more happy family than we ‘ were until the Attorney-General made his appearance. He comes from scenes of argument, quarrelling, and contention, and he brings the very atmosphere of a legal pugilist into this Chamber. With what result? My honorable friend the Minister of Home Affairs, who about an hour before was prepared to receive any reasonable suggestion, fell under the influence of the Attorney-General. We address the most cogent arguments to the Committee, and the Minister, who an hour ago received every suggestion we made with the utmost courtesy, and accepted I do not know how many amendments, especially from my honorable friend the member for Kooyong, now changes his attitude. I wish here to bear my testimony to the intelligent interest which the honorable member for Kooyong has taken in this Bill. My honorable friend submitted a most important amendment. With what result? The Minister accepted it, and we shall have by-and-by a clause which will stipulate, as ought to be done, for certain particulars in connexion with the householder’s schedules. As the Bill was introduced, there was not a single requirement as to anything which was to be put into any of these census schedules. But I have made up my mind that the Ministry are inexorable on this point j and I do appeal to my honorable friends - I desire to exercise any influence that I possess with them - to recognise the fact that we have exhausted every possible legitimate means of persuasion. I wish to signalize my appearance in this Committee by endeavouring to promote as much useful legislative work as I can, but unfortunately the measures which are produced by this Government are so imperfect, so objectionable, seek to go so completely away from recognised lines of legislation, seek to put so much power into the hands of the Ministry behind the back of Parliament, that if we were to allow them to pass we might as well stay away from the House altogether. Honorable members might just as well get copies of the Bills by post, and: be asked to return a form to the effect that they are willing that they should be passed. There is the honorable member for Bass, who has exercised a most useful influence upon this Bill, and who has pursued a most impartial path. I will guarantee that he, in his heart, sees the absolute necessity for this vote. I am sure that my honorable friend, in two minutes, would give us an oath that would meet any emergency. If the Ministers at the table cannot choose between one oath and another, there are two or three of my honorable friends opposite who would be prepared to give them any number of oaths to choose from. A simple test, just halfadozen words binding all these officers, high or low, to preserve an honorable secrecy, is all that is wanted. » And I do hope that the Minister if he comes after ‘ a period of reflection to see that our views are correct, and that our protests are well founded, will agree to recommit the oath provision at any rate.
– I sincerely hope that the Minister will not persevere in his determination not to yield to the reasonable suggestion which has been made. I cannot conceive any reasonable objection to the course which is now proposed. I think it is the ordinary practice to put the form of oath in the schedule to a Bill of this character. The form of oath is very important. One form might perhaps be acceptable to a certain section and displeasing to another section of the officers employed for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill. I cannot conceive why the Minister will not accede to the reasonable request to prescribe the form of oath in a schedule, so that Parliament may express an opinion regarding it. There is too much leaving of legislation in the hands1 of Ministers and officers, and giving them powers which properly belong to Parliament. Without desiring to delay business, I make one more appeal to the Minister to yield to the suggestion of the Opposition.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- The Attorney-General has been very cafeful to read up a certain Act of Parliament passed in 1894, and I dare say we shall find him coming down and contending that, because the right honorable member for East Sydney, in 1894, was instrumental in passing a free-trade Tariff in New South Wales, a similar Tariff should now be adopted by the Commonwealth. I find that, in the Australasian Federation Enabling Act, which the Attorney-General, as Attorney-General in the Victorian Government, assisted in passing,, prescribes the form of oath. But the Opposition have exhausted their powers of persuasion, and it only remains for them to vote for the amendment.
Question - That the word “ prescribed “ proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The, Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I do not wish to occupy another moment, but I must express the hope that, in view of the very marked intimation which the Committee has just given, the Ministry will, when, considering the amendment of the contract, section of the Immigration Restriction Act, see whether some form of oath cannot be adopted for the purposes of this Bill which will meet with general approval. This is not a party- matter, or otherwise the Opposition would have had a larger number of honorable members on their side.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 -
– In accordance with the intimation which I gave in .my reply on the second-reading debate, I move -
That after the word “taken” the words “in the year one thousand nine hundred and eleven, and in every tenth year thereafter “ be inserted.
I intend to follow this by moving the omission of the words “ Whenever directed by the Governor-General,” and of the word “the,” in the last line. It is not advisable to fix the exact month or date, but the general desire is that the census shall be taken simultaneously throughout the Empire. I think that the clause as thus amended will meet what is desired.
– I am extremely glad that the Minister of Home Affairs’ has accepted the amendment which I suggested in my remarks on the second reading. I am sure that it will be carried without any dissent, but I would point out for his consideration in connexion with measures that come here, that this was clearly a case where the new method of leaving everything to the GovernorGeneral io Council should not have been adopted, because it would be impossible to have the census, at any other time than the year mentioned. If there could be any special case in which it would not apply there would always be power in any such emergency to pass a special Act. I am glad that the Minister is prepared to remove a blemish from the Bill, and I heartily support his amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Groom) agreed to- -
That the words “ whenever directed by the GovernorGeneral,” lines 1 and 2, be left out. That the word “ the,” line 4, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 11 agreed to. Clause 12 -
– Is it intended, that in the case of a place like a hotel, a separate householder’s schedule shall be left for each room which is occupied by a lodger?
– It is a question of letting, sub-letting, or holding.
– That is the difficulty. We have to deal with the case of residential flats, and there are many places in Collins-street in which a man will have a lease for a week, a month, or a year, of a furnished apartment, without board. -I should like to know whether, under this sub-clause 2, a person holding a room under such conditions is to be deemed a householder, and to have a householder’s schedule left for him. The clause as drafted is not in accordance with the practice under the Victorian Act, and I should like some explanation of it.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - The clause is intended to deal only with places which are occupied as dwellings. The expression “held in different apartments “ means held under some agreement which would make the place for the time being a dwelling. In the case to which the honorable and learned member referred, of a house let in flats to a series of sub-tenants, there is no doubt that the different flats will be dwellings within the meaning of this clause. Its wording is very similar to that of sections which have been found to work satisfactorily in other Census Acts.
– What about rooms in a hotel ?
– Under this clause, the proprietor would be required to furnish a list of the persons in his hotel on the evening of the day on which the census was taken.
– There will have to be a schedule left for every room that is occupied.
– That will not be necessary in the case of a person temporarily lodging in a hotel. The wording of the corresponding section of the English Act is as follows : -
In this section the expression “ dwelling-house “ shall include every building and tenement of which the whole or any part is used for the puffpose of human habitation, and where a dwellinghouse is let or sublet in different tenements or apartments, and occupied distinctly by different persons or families, a separate schedule shall be left with, or for, and shall .be filled up by, the occupier of each such distinct tenement or apartment.
Before a separate householder’s schedule is required, a person must be dwelling in a building in such a way as to render him independent of the. occupier or proprietor.
– There are numerous hotels in which suites of rooms are let.
– Where persons are actually dwelling in a hotel, under a letting or sub-letting, a separate householder’s schedule will have to be left for them.
– That will involve unnecessary expense.
– The Minister’s explanation of this clause is hardly satisfactory. A portion of a building might be held under no contract or form of agreement, such as the Minister has suggested, but might be in the occupation of guests who would be paying nothing, and might leave whenever they pleased. I think that some amendment of sub-clause 2 is neces-sary.
– To what words does the honorable member refer?
– To the words “sublet or held.” It seems to me that the clause is so loosely drafted that all sorts of interpretations may Se given to it.
– What does the honorable member consider loose about it?
– As I read the clause, a form will have to be left with every person occupying a room in a house, which is altogether unnecessary, because the person in charge of the premises would know how many persons lived there, and could fill in the form with their names. Besides, it would lead to confusion and error from the fact of various persons supplying the same set of particulars.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The object of the clause is perfectly clear, and its wording, which is practically the same as that of the various Census Acts of the States, will carry that object into effect.
– What is meant by the word “ held.”
– Held under a legal agreement.
– Is not a room which is taken for a week, held under a legal agreement?
– The words are intended to cover cases in which persons are living in apartments, but are not residing in a building which is under the general charge or management of some individual, as a boarding-house or hotel is.
– Why are the words “ dwelling house “ used in this sub-clause, while the word “ dwelling “ is used elsewhere ?
– There is no difference in the meaning. The “intention is that a householder’s schedule shall be left at every place where there are people residing on a certain evening. I ask honorable members to allow the word “ held “ to stand, because it covers occupation, not strictly under a lease or sub-lease.
– Could not the Minister adopt the wording of the English Act, and say “ distinctly occupied “ ?
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- Although the Minister may interpret the word “ held “ to mean held under an agreement, that interpretation may not be accepted by others. The measure will not be always administered by him. and his successors may not accept his definition of the word “ held.”
– I will reconsider the clause, because I have no desire that we should pass into law a provision the meaning of which is uncertain.
– I am afraid that, as the clause stands, a householder’s schedule will have to be left at every office in a building in which there is a resident caretaker. It provides that a householder’s schedule shall be left “ at every dwelling,” and “ dwelling “ is defined as a building “permanent, or temporary “ - which would include, I suppose, a tent erected for the accommodation of a member of Parliament - “ wholly or partly used for the purpose of human habitation.” Therefore, if any room, or set of rooms, in a building is used for the purpose of human habitation, the whole building- becomes a “ dwelling “ within the meaning of the Bill, and under sub-clause 2 of clause 12, where a dwelling is sub-let to or held by various occupants, each part is to be deemed a “ dwelling house,” so that a householder’s schedule will have to be left at each office in it.
– The schedule will have to be left only in that part of the building which is occupied for human habitation.
– Similar words are used in. the Census Acts of the States, and no difficulty has occurred.
– The clause, as framed, seems to me to require the leaving of householders’ schedules where they are not wanted. An occupier does not necessarily mean the man who is living on the premises. The man who is rated as an occupier may use the premises merely during the day time for business purposes.
– I shall look into the matter.
– Even according to the strict reading adopted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I do not think that any difficulty need arise. I think that census forms should be left at buildings that are occupied as offices, because, in the first place, caretakers may reside on the premises, and, in the second place, certain occupiers of offices may Le sleeping there at the time appointed for the taking of the census. It might be of some advantage to adopt the wording of the English Act to the extent of inserting the word “distinctly” before the word “occupied.”
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - A much more important matter than we have been discussing is dealt with in sub-clause 1. It is provided that -
For the purpose of taking the Census, a form called the householder’s schedule shall be prepared and left, in accordance with the regulations
– A new clause will be prepared relating to that matter.
– I presume that the new clause will set forth the bulk of the matters to be dealt with.
– Yes; we shall follow the practice that has been suggested by the Conference of Statisticians.
– Ministers do not seem to have appreciated the arguments used by honorable members. The interpretation clause attaches a certain definite meaning to the word “ dwelling,” under which a dwelling is incapable of being divided in any way. Dwelling means “ a building, erection, or tenement, any part of which is used for the purpose of human habitation,” and a building containing hundreds of offices, and occupied by only one resident, in the form of a caretaker, would be a dwelling. According to clause 12, a householder’s schedule has to be left at every dwelling, and, referring back to the interpretation clause, we find that the definition of dwelling is not limited to separate families occupying the same building. In sub-clause 2 of clause 12 it is provided that where a dwelling is let, sublet, or held in different apartments, and occupied by different persons or families, each part so let, sublet, or held shall be deemed a dwelling-house. That covers every conceivable form of occupancy, but it is not intended to.
– There is a difference between holding and occupying.
– A guest in a private house would riot be an occupier.
– A guest would naturally be included in the list of the family with whom he was staying. But putting aside that class of case, about which there is no difficulty, we have to consider the position of persons who hold rooms in hotels. Hundreds of men lease rooms in hotels, and are free to have their meals in the hotel, or outside! of it. Surely such persons hold their rooms.
– We have adopted the wording of the English and Australian Acts.
– Yes, but the Minister knows that we copy the wording of English Acts because we think that they are bound to be pretty right. I would point out, however, that an entirely new state of things in regard to residences has grown up in modern times. The expressions used in the ‘present English Act were employed fifty years ago, but the occupancy of houses has been revolutionized during the last ten years. Fifty different tenants may be found in one hotel, .and we know that flats in city buildings are let out to large numbers of persons. Let us take the case of that magnificent edifice in Collinsstreet, which is to be let out as residential chambers. A hundred different persons might occupy the flats in that building, and we should be told- in the “ leading pages of an influential organ down the street that the exodus of families from Victoria had ceased, and that the leading thoroughfare in the capital of Victoria was assuming an aspect of prosperity unequalled in the recollection of the oldest inhabitant. I see something sinister beneath the clause. I detect an attempt to arrest the current of events with which I sympathize, but to which I can be no -party. I hope that no malign influence has been at work in connexion with the framing of the provision.
– How would the right honorable gentleman deal with the question ?
– I admit that there is a difficulty, and that Ministers are acting rightly in not attempting to deal with the matter now. I presume that the Minister will give us his assurance that the clause will be recommited.
– I will promise to reconsider the matter.
– I do not regard the offer of the Minister as a reasonable one. The object of this provision is to ascertain the number of families that there are in the country. How can we apply such a term to a hundred men who may be dwelling in a terrace? The expression would be perfectly ridiculous. Then I wish to put another point to the Committee. Under this clause the number of dwellings will be given quite independently of the number of families, and if we exaggerate the number of families we shall have the enemies of our country exclaiming, “ See how many people have to be crowded together in one house. There are so many thousands of families in Australia, and there are only so many thousands of tenements.” Thus the effect would be to make it appear that Australia was imitating a recognised evil in the old world by crowding a large number of families into one dwelling. I think that this matter is of importance, though it is not so important as was the form of the oath. I do not think that we need have a prolonged discussion on it if the Ministry will only promise to allow us an opportunity to reconsider it. I do not expect Ministers, whilst sitting at the table, to draft amendments to meet every possible case that may arise, but I do ask them to allow us an opportunity to consider any proposal which they may have to submit at a later stage.
– I will promise to look into the matter, and, if necessary, I will recommit the clause.
Air. REID. - I respect the Minister’s promise, but I would point out that we are entitled to consider the clause as well as the honorable and learned gentleman. The only question at issue is whether he will compel us to consider it now or whether he will save the public time by affording us an opportunity of considering it at a later stage. Either the Government are prepared to accept my proposal-
– What is the proposal of the right honorable member?
– In view of the admitted difficulty of the situation, I ask that the consideration of -the clause should be postponed.
– We are prepared to meet the right honorable member.
Clause postponed. Clause 13 -
Every occupier or person in charge of a dwelling, with or for whom a householder’s schedule has been left, shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, fill up and supply therein, in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying the schedule, all the particulars specified therein, and shall sign his name thereto, and shall deliver the schedule so filled up and signed to the collector authorized to receive it.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- I t’hink that it is necessary to read this clause in conjunction with the preceding, provision in order to understand what effect it will exercise upon the census returns. Under clause 12 a householder will be required to supply in the schedule all particulars as to the occupants of a building; and similar information will have to be furnished by every occupier of any portion of the premises. Thus the same particulars will be supplied time after time. The result will be that we shall not secure a correct census, but a census which will be absolutely misleading and erroneous. The Minister should consider whether some improvement cannot be effected in the provision with a view to securing greater accuracy.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- The Bill as introduced contained no definition of occupier, but as we have inserted a definition in the interpretation clause, I would ask the Minister whether he considers that the words’ “ or person in charge “ in thisclause are necessary ?
– Their emission is a consequential amendment.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the words “ or person in charge,” line 1, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 14 -
It shall be the duty of each Collector to assist occupiers of dwelling houses in filling up the householder’s schedule, and to satisfy himself byinquiries from occupiers or persons in charge of dwellings or other persons that the householder’s schedule has .been correctly filled up.
Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon). - Thisclause goes a great deal further than does any similar provision in the States Acts, and if we insist on making it the duty of collectors to assist occupiers to fill up the schedules, the work and expense of taking the census will be doubled or trebled. Under the New South Wales Act it is the duty of the collector to assist occupiers to fill up the schedules only when requested to do so, and I think that is the utmost to which any State Act dealing with this subject goes.
– The New South Wales Act goes further than that.
– I think I had some practical experience of the way in which the census was taken in a country district that I once represented in the State Parliament. The, district is a scattered one, and if the various collectors had had to go to each farm-house, and assist in filling up the schedules, the cost of collecting the census would have been trebled. The position is doubtless the same in all country electorates. The practice usually adopted is to leave the schedule with the householders, and to collect them as soon as possible after the enumeration day. In that way, a minimum of time is occupied, and the expense to the community is correspondingly reduced. I make the suggestion that the words “if requested” should be inserted after the word “ collector,” my desire being that the cost of collecting the census shall not be unduly increased.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Strange to say, I had marked this clause for amendment in the way ‘suggested by the honorable and learned member. I think it would be advisable to make it compulsory for the collector to assist in preparing schedules -only when requested to do so. The collection of the census would be a most expensive work, unless some such qualification were inserted, because, as the clause reads, each collector would feel himself compelled to see every return filled up.
– I am prepared to accept the amendment.
Amendment (by Mr. Robinson) proposed -
That after the word “ Collector,” line r, the words “ if requested “ be inserted.
– I think that it ought to be the duty of the collectors to see that the schedules are properly filled up.
– The latter part of the clause, as well as clause 15, will require them to do so.
– There ought to be an obligation on the part of the collector to see that accurate information is given in the schedules. They will form the basis of the whole of the statistics we are striving to secure by means of this measure, and too much importance should not be attached to the fact that the time and expense involved in making the collection may be increased by our requiring the collectors to assist occupiers to fill in the returns. If the amendment be made the responsibility of the collectors in this regard will certainly be reduced
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The point mentioned by the honorable member for Kooyong is an important one, but I think his objection is fully covered by the latter part of the clause. All that the honorable and learned member for Wannon desires is that the collector should *not set out on his work with the idea that it is his duty to assist occupiers to fill in the schedules, whether requested to do so or not, practically forcing himself upon the occupier in the filling up of his form. If the amendment is agreed to, when the collector goes round, the occupier, if he is in a difficulty about filling up the schedule, can ask him for information as to how it should be done, and then it will be the duty of the collector to assist him. Further than that, it will be the duty of the collector, before he leaves the building, to see that the schedule is complete, and that he has obtained all the. information that is required. I think that the amendment meets the requirements of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and does not interfere with the desire of the honorable member for Kooyong to’ get the information accurately, collected.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The census forms are required to be filled up on a certain day, and at a certain time. Suppose it was intimated to the collector when he delivered forms at certain places that his assistance would be required in filling them up, because the occupiers were marksmen, how would .it be possible for the collector to be at all of those places at the same time, if requested?
– That is not required. It would only be when the collector went round to collect the forms previously delivered, and. found that the information was not complete, that he could render assistance.
– The Minister should make an interjection and not a speech. How would it be possible for the clause to work satisfactorily if the occupier had to wait until the collector went round to collect the forms which were required to be filled up on a previous day at a certain time ? Would it be an excuse for an occupier not having filled up his form on that date, that there was no collector present to give him the information that he required ?
– I was asked not to interrupt.
– I was addressing the question to the- Attorney-General, because, earlier in the evening, the Minister of Home Affairs gave me an uncivil answer to a question.
– That is not justified.
Honorable Members. - Withdraw.
– Well, the Minister of Home Affairs did not answer my question courteously.
– That is not the question before the Chair, which is that the words “ if requested “ be inserted in the clause.
– The question before the Chair - and if you, sir, do not know your business, I will tell you - is-
– Order ! I cannot permit any honorable member to make such a remark as that to the Chair. I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I certainly withdraw the remark, if it is offensive to the honorable member occupying the Chair. The question before the Committee is that certain words be inserted.
– And not the manners of the Attorney-General or the Minister of Home Affairs.
– Well, it is not the business of the Chairman to lecture me; if I am out of order, he should call me to order.
– I must ask the honorable member to resume his seat. If he desires to address himself to the amendment, he may do so ; but if not, I shall go on with the business.
– It is my intention to address myself to the measure, but I do not require a lecture from the Chair.
– Order !
– The business of the Chairman is not to lecture me.
– The honorable member has defied the Chair. I shall now put the amendment.
– But I am in possession of the Chair.
– The honorable member is not in possession of the Chair. I call on the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I only rise to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill if there is any special significance in the sudden acceptance of the amendment, in view of the fact that the honorable and learned member for Wannon has lately addressed the Committee from the Government side? I ask the question because it may have a bearing upon the opinions of honorable members upon this side.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I was remarking, when I was interrupted, that the words proposed to be inserted were “if requested.” If a person had not filled up his form at the prescribed time, would it be any excuse for his failure that the collector was not present on the prescribed date to give him the information he required. I am of opinion that the amendment does not cover such a case. Is it the opinion of the Minister that it does?
– The form has to be filled up as for a certain day.
– I take it that, although the Bill provides that the form shall be filled up as applying to a certain date, still if it is not so filled up by reason of the householder not understanding clearly what has to be done, if he gives correct particulars as to the occupants of his house to the collector when he calls and offers his assistance, that will meet all the requirements of the law, even although the persons who resided in the house on the census day may have left in the interval.
– That is so.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to what may be the result of this clause if it be passed in its present form. It would be the duty of the collector, in any case, to satisfy himself by inquiries from the occupier of a house that the form had been correctly filled up. In view of the safeguards which have been inserted in other clauses against incorrectly filling up the schedule, I should think it would hardly be necessary to waste the time of the collectors by requiring them to see if it had been correctly filled’ up in every particular.
– Suppose that the persons were illiterate?
– We should provide for a case of that sort; but this clause does not provide only for it.
– Practically it does.
– No. The collector has to satisfy himself in all cases that the schedule has been properly filled up. This is not merely to restore omissions, but also to test the value of the information given.
– That is occasionally very necessary.
– It may be necessary at times, but this is mandatory on all occasions.
– The same provision is in other Acts.
– I think the ‘Commonwealth Act . should, if possible, be better than the States Acts. The collectors will have enough to do if they have to satisfy themselves of the value of the evidence given - which, on the face of it, is not necessary.
Mr. -Page. - If the honorable member were collecting he would find it to be necessary.
– I have never collected for a census, I am’ thankful to say. I anr afraid that my native modesty would not permit me to put some of the inquisitorial questions necessary. Can the Minister see his way to amend the clause in the direction I have suggested? It might be done by leaving out the word “correctly,” so as to make the clause read -
To satisfy himself by inquiring from occupiers or persons in charge of dwellings that the householder’s schedule has been filled up, as far as practicable, within the provisions of this Act; or words to that effect. I would prefer the Minister to devise the drafting of the amendment, because I have found on occasions - as I am sure the honorable gentleman will permit me to say without offence - that when an amendment is moved from this side of the Chamber we are often met with technical objections to one word.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- I must confess I do not find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Wentworth in the objection which he has raised. It is very necessary that the collectors, if they have cause to think that there is any error, intentional or otherwise, in the filling up of the form, shall, as far as they are able, make the return accurate before taking possession of it on behalf of the Commonwealth. The latter part of the clause is really necessary. Even the simplest forms, so long as they bear the appearance of being issued by the Government, strike terror into the hearts of some unsophisticated rustics. They lose possession of their ordinary faculties, and refuse to have anything to do with it without some official assistance. Probably it is the recognition of that fact which has led to this provision being inserted. But it might be advisable to leave out the words “or person in charge,” with a view to bring the clause into harmony with the preceding one. I move - ‘
That the words “ or persons in charge,” line 4, be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
– I trust that the Minister does not intend to accede to the request of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– We must maintain the obligation upon the collectors. If we reduce their responsibility to see that accurate returns are obtained, we shall defeat the whole object of the Bill.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- I only made a suggestion to the Minister, and I regret that my honorable friend the member for Kooyong should have seen fit to make this impassioned attack upon me. It is so contrary to his usual custom that I feel that it is due to myself to say that my object was to strengthen the Bill, and that I did not intend to press the suggestion.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Every person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by a collector touching any information required to be filled up and supplied in the householder’s schedule.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
– I presume that this clause follows State legislation in making it penal to refuse to reply to the questions. But I remember that when the Census Act was first introduced in England numbers of people raised religious objections to it.
– That is provided for.
– I do not refer to the refusal to answer questions about religious belief. Numbers of people refuse to answer the census questions at all. It will be remembered that there was a time in Old Testament history when the numbering of the people brought a plague upon the children of Israel. Numbers of people in England who read the Scriptures literally therefore regarded a census as an offence. They thought that England was going to immediate destruction in consequence of the passing of the Census Act, and sermons were preached against it. It was held that punishment would be brought upon the United Kingdom for the national sin that was being committed. The people I refer to have a right to have their conscientious objections considered : and I should like to know whether under any of the States Acts persons are compelled to answer such questions under penalty.
– That is so under the New South Wales Act.
– And also under the Victorian Act.
– The word “ touching “ in this clause is rather wide. A collector might investigate one’s family history to a considerable extent under the word; and the Attorney-General has suggested to me that the words “necessary to obtain “ might be substituted. I move
That the word “ touching “ be left out, wilh a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ necessary to obtain.”
Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16 -
The Statistician shall, subject to the regulations and the directions of the Minister, collect, annually, statistics in relation to all or any of the following matters : -
Vital, social, and industrial statistics;
Imports and exports;.
Factories, mines, and productive industries generally ;
Agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairying, and pastoral industries ; (/) Banking, insurance, and finance;
Railways, tramways, shipping, and trans port ; and
Any other prescribed matters.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- I remind the Minister, as I did on the second reading, that the paragraphs of this clause are very wide. After providing for statistics in relation to seven different matters, there is an eighth paragraph which speaks of “ any other prescribed matters.” It is difficult to say what are “ vital, social, and industrial statistics”; and, moreover, there ought to be some definition of “factories,” and so forth.
– “ Factories “ have been defined. . “
– Are these matters to be more closely defined by regulation?
– They will be subject to regulations.
– A little while ago we were told to “ trust the Court,” and now we are told to trust the regulations. Is the Minister satisfied to trust his successor in office, even if that successor may come from this side?
– Regulations are under the control of the House by virtue of the Acts Interpretation Act.
– That is so in theory, but it is a fine drawn theory, which, as no one knows better than the Attorney-General, has no foundation in fact. Of all the regulations we have passed, and these have been numerous enough, the only ones discussed were those made under the Public Service Act. No doubt we ought to read all the regulations, but life is too short for such a task. However, as this is a clause giving power to the Minister to make regulations, I suppose there is no chance of successfully proposing to make the provision more definite.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 -
Every_ person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by the Statistician or an officer authorized in writing by the Statistician, touching any information required) for the purposes of any statistics authorized by this Act to be collected. Penalty : Ten pounds.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the word “ touching “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ necessary to obtain.”
– The honorable member for North Sydney raised some objection to this clause,, and I told him that I was prepared to provide that no prosecution should be instituted without the consent of the Minister. The honorable member was afraid of inquisitorial investigations, and on that ground I made the promise. I move -
That after the word “collected,” line 6, the following words be inserted “ Provided that noprosecution for contravention of this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Minister.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19 -
The Statistician or any officer authorized in writing by him may, at any time during working hours, enter any factory, mine, work-shop, or place where persons are employed, and may inspect any part of it, and all plant and machinery used in connexion with it, and may make such inquiries as are prescribed or allowed by the regulations.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
– This clause appears to me to be so wide as to contain an element of danger if administered by an officer who was at all indiscreet.
– The first lines of the clause are copied verbatim from the New South Wales Act.
– That does not m’ake the clause necessarily a proper one.
– It is some guarantee that nothing dreadful will happen under it.
– But we can conceive circumstances under which the clause might be made very objectionable. It provides also that the officer may inspect any part of a factory, mine, workshop, or place where persons are employed, and all plant and machinery used in connexion with it. What object could a Statistician have in the inspection of plant and machinery? Honorable members will see that this is a serious matter, as, under sub-clause 2, it is provided that no person shall hinder or obstruct the Statistician, or any officer authorized by him, in the performance of this duty. Before the clause is passed we should have some explanation as to the extent to which this power will operate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 -
– Is there any necessity for sub-clause 2 ? It seems to rae there is a very great deal of useless printing in the documents laid on the table of this House. If these statistics will have been published already, why make this provision that they shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament?
– Sub-clause 2 will not involve any additional expenditure for printing. It will only insure that Parliament shall have an opportunity of seeing these documents. When they are published, it is right that they should be laid before both Houses of Parliament that the information which they contain may be circulated amongst those who are entitled to be supplied with it.
– I think that sub-clause 2 is essential, particularly in view of. the fact that, under sub-clause 1, the Minister is given a very wide discretion as to the information which is to be presented to Parliament. It is, I think, worthy of consideration by the Committee whether the Minister should have such absolute discretion as to what statistics or abstracts thereof should be published. It is surely the duty of Parliament to see that important and useful statistics are made available for public information. That, I think, must have been in the mind of the draftsman when proposing sub-clause 2.
– There is a good deal of information in statistics collected that it would not be desirable to publish.
– I have no doubt that that is so, but, in my opinion, sub-clause 2 is a very necessary safeguard. It would, no doubt, be in the power of either House of Parliament to require any statistical information to be laid on the table at any time, but I direct attention to the fact that under this clause the Minister is given a very arbitrary power in being allowed to determine, what statistics or abstracts thereof shall be published. He apparently is to control the information which is to be made public. That is a power which might be used by an unscrupulous Minister to the detriment of certain sections of the community. I hope the Minister will give the matter his attention.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - The nature of the statistics required must always be fixed by the Act or by regulations under the Act. The Statistician will obtain information with respect to these statistics, and this clause 120 provides a controlling power under which the Minister will be able to prevent the publication of information which it might be unnecessary or inadvisable to publish. It is not intended to give the Minister power to defeat the legitimate purposes of a Census and Statistics Act. I shall look into the matter to which the honorable member has directed attention.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 -
No person shall be liable to any penalty for omitting or refusing to state the religious denomination or sect to which he belongs or adheres.
– At the request of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, I move -
That after the word “penalty,” the following words be inserted : - “ who from conscientious scruples omits to state the religious denomination or sect to which he may adhere or belong; and the proof of such conscientious scruples shall be the filling up of the column set apart for that purpose with the words ‘ conscientiously object.’ “
This is a provision which is contained in the New South Wales Act, except that the word “conscientiously” is omitted in that Act. I think that perhaps it would be better to omit the word, as I can quite see that there might be some orthographical difficulties in connexion with its use. However, I submit the amendment in the form suggested by the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
– I cannot accept the amendment. I prefer the clause as it stands. As it is framed, the clause gives each person the right to object to give this information if he so desires. It is not necessary, in my opinion, that we should ask any person to make a declaration that he conscientiously objects to give this information.
– I am very well satisfied withthe clause as it stands, but I should like to know what are the questions which people will be excused from answering.
– I intend to move the insertion of a clause which will specify religion as one of the matters about which questions shall be asked in the householder’s schedule.
Amendment (by Mr. McCay) agreed to -
That after the word “ omitting,” the words “ or refusing “ be inserted.
– It seems to me extraordinary that there should be no penalty for refusing to give information respecting one’s religion. I see no reason why any person in the Commonwealth should object to state whether he has or has not a religion, and, if he has a religion, what it is.
– If I had thought it would have the sympathy of the Committee, I should have moved an amendment providing that no person should be asked to state his religion, or the denomination to which he belongs, because I believe that ten years hence it will be considered that the religious opinions of the people are utterly irrelevant to a nonreligious body such as is the Commonwealth.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 22 -
No officer . . . shall desert from his duty, or shall refuse or wilfully neglect, without just excuse, to perform the duties. of his office.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.
– I am aware that the penalties inthis Bill are maximum penalties; but I considerthat in this case £20 is too high, and that £10 would be : more proportionate to the offence. I therefore move -
That the word “Twenty” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Ten.”
Amendment negatived. .
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 to 27 agreed to.
Postponed clause 12 -
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella has suggested an amendment in this clause which will better carry out the intentions of the measure, and which the Government are prepared to accept. That amendment, which I now move, is as follows: -
That after the word “held,” line 1, the words “ and used for the purpose of human habitation,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - I promised the honorable member for Kooyong to insert a clause specifying the particulars in regard to which information will be required to be stated on the householder’s schedule. The new clause which I am about to move also carries into effect the suggestion of the right honorable member for East Sydney, that the Government of the day shall have power to prescribe such other subjects in regard to which information may be required as it may think fit. It may be necessary when taking the census to obtain statistics on the same schedule in regard to matters other than the population. Perhaps the States Governments might wish us to obtain some information for them, and there is no reason why the census returns should not be utilized for that purpose. The States Statisticians some time ago held a conference, at which they agreed that the following matters should be included in the householder’s schedule : - Sex, age, profession or occupation, birthplace, religion, education, sickness, or infirmity, and the materials and number of rooms in dwelling. These particulars: were afterwards included in the New South Wales and Victorian Acts, and to some extent they are also in the English Act, and’ were practically made the basis of the uniform census taken in Australia in 1901. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 13A. The particulars to be specified in the householder’s schedule shall include the particulars following : -
the name, sex, age, condition as to and duration of marriage, relation to head of the household, profession or occupation, sickness or infirmity, religion, education, and birthplace, and where the person was born abroad length of residence in Australia, and nationality of every person ;
the material of the dwelling, and thenumber of rooms contained therein;
any other prescribed matters.”
The Statisticians requested that there should be some flexibility in the form of the schedule, and that, in addition to the mat- ters specifically mentioned!, others might be prescribed with the approval of the Minister. We are providing that other matters shall be prescribed by regulation.
– That schedule is too inquisitorial altogether.
– There is nothing inquisitorial about it. We require to know the names of individuals, also their sex and religion, whether they are married or single, whether they are the members of one family, and the profession or occupation they follow.
– We should not inquire as to the family to which a person belongs.
– We are collecting statistics relating to the condition of the country which should be available for purposes of comparison, and in order to show its growth and development. We want to know the number of persons who are engaged in factories, or occupied as farmers and miners, and so on. All such information is necessary for the purposes of legislation. When we are dealing with industrial matters, surely we should have at our command information as to the number of wageearners. The particulars cover at least the minimum of what we should know.
Proposed new clause read a second time.
– I moveThat the word “ religion,” line 7, be left put.
It is unnecessary to ask any questions as to the religious beliefs of the people, because we have nothing to do with that subject in our legislation. _ At no time have the English census returns contained any particulars with regard to the religious beliefs of the people, and, moreover, I believe that any attempt on our part to obtain such information would be contrary to the Constitution. Of what use would it be to us to ascertain that we have 500,000 persons holding one religious belief, and 300,000 persons, belonging to another persuasion? Persons who belong, to no denomination frequently describe themselves as belonging to one or other of the sects, and it seems to me that the returns would be absolutely unreliable.
– I hope that the Minister will not agree to the amendment. The honorable and learned member for Corio seems to be very much afraid of anything relating; to the religious beliefs of the people. It is quite true that we have no official churches in Australia, but that fact should not deter us from making inquiry as to the religious beliefs of the people.
– What good will it do? Mr. JOSEPH COOK- A man’s religion may indicate his racial origin. For instance, if we found that there was a great increase in the members of our population professing the Mohammedan faith, we should at once make further inquiry into the matter, and I can well understand that the particulars relating to religious beliefs might be of great assistance to us in ascertaining the racial origin of the people.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned member for Corio has made out a good case. We cannot have too much information, and as the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, there is at least one excellent reason why. we should obtain particulars with regard to the religious beliefs of the people. It seems to me that there is less reason why we should inquire as to the ‘sickness or infirmity with which persons are afflicted.
– I am sorry that we have not the schedule, before us, so that we might consider the questions which are to be asked. The Victorian schedule provides that a man may declare himself as being of no religion, as belonging to no denomination, or that he may object to answer. Thus there are three forms of declaration. The proposal to allow a man liberty to refrain from disclosing his religion goes a long way in the direction of giving effect to the desire expressed by the honorable and learned member for Corio. At the same time, I am of opinion that the clause as it now .stands makes ample provision in that respect.
– I should like to know what the Minister hopes to gain by requiring persons to be asked how long they have been resident in Australia.
– In connexion witholdage pensions, a man has to prove that he has been a resident for twenty-five years.
Mr. PAGE. That information is not gained from census statistics. I know many men in Western Queensland who could not say how long they have been in Australia Under the provisions of the Bill, these individuals will be liable to a penalty, if they make ah inaccurate statement.
– Not if they answered the question to the best of their ability.
– A similar provision does not obtain in any of the State Acts. .
– It is to be found in the Victorian Act.
– At any rate, it is entirely superfluous. I move -
That the words “ length of residence in Australia,” lines 9 and io, be left out.
Amendment negatived. Proposed new clause agreed to. Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - 1 move1 -
That the following new clause be inserted :- > “iSA (i) The Statistician shall obtain such returns and particulars as are. prescribed with respect to persons who, during the night of the Census Day, were not abiding on that night in any dwelling. “ (2) Every person shall, on being required by the Statistician so, to do, furnish to the best of his knowledge and belief any prescribed particulars relating to persons who were hot abiding on the night of the census day in any dwelling. “ Penalty : Ten pounds.”
The object of the clause is to meet the cases of persons who may not be residing in any dwelling during the night of the census day. They may be in a railway train, .or in a coach, or in any place other than a dwelling. The principle of the provision is taken from the New, South Wales Act.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Amendment (by M*. Groom) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “26A. Subject to the postal regulations, all letters, packets, and telegrams for the purpose of carrying out this Act, sent to or by the Statistician or any enumerator or collector, shall be transmitted by post or electric telegraph, and delivered free of postage or charges if properly addressed and marked as prescribed by the postal regulations. “
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I object very strongly to this clause. It seems to me that the Department of Home Affairs is endeavouring to take advantage of the services rendered by the Postal Department for its own benefit.
– It is merely a matter of bookkeeping.
– That does not- -affect the question. When the Post and Telegraph Bill was under consideration in this House, the present Prime Minister - who was then Attorney-General in the Barton Administrationdeclared that the Postal Department would render no services gratis, except in connexion with electoral matters. Now, however, the Department of Home Affairs wishes to be granted free postage in connexion with this Bill.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, and report the Bill, with amendments, to the House.
– I think that many honorable members were under the impression that the division taken on the proposed new clause isa. related only to the matter which had been brought forward by the honorable member for Maranoa, and that we were not voting on the clause as a whole. There were one or two suggestions which I was very anxious to make before the clause was passed. It is proposed to elicit information as to the number of rooms in a dwelling, and yet no information is to be obtained as to the area of land, and so forth’.
– That may be prescribed by regulation under the new clause.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported, with amendments. .
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - I ask leave to move that the report be now adopted.
– I object.
House adjourned at 10.44 P’m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 October 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051003_reps_2_27/>.