2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KNOX presented a petition from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria, praying for the enactment of legislation to prohibit the importation of opium, except for medicinal purposes, into the Commonwealth.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if the Government, now. that they have provided efficient artillery for Sydney and Fremantle, will see that the guns at Largs Bay and Glanvilie, South Australia, are equal to all requirements ?
Mr.EWING. - The whole question will be taken into consideration, and I am satisfied that the honorable member will find that the defence of South Australia will not be made secondary to that of any other- part of the Commonwealth.
– Has the Prime Minister received any further cablegrams from General Booth respecting his immigration scheme?
– That is, other than those which have been published in the press ?
– No communications other than those already published have been received.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he has yet received any report from his advisers on the question of what guns should be mounted at North Fremantle fort; and, if so, will he lay the same on the table of the House ?
– I am informed that the Minister has received a report, and. I hope to be able within, perhaps, a week to inform the honorable member what action is to be taken, and to lay the papers on the table of the House.
– In the debate which took place last Thursday afternoon, on my motion for the appointment of a Select Committee toreport upon the Defence Regulations, the Vice-President of the Executive Council made certain state ments in regard to which I desire to be given an opportunity to make an explanation to the House. At the time, I did not regard them as serious, nor did. I think that honorable members were taking the Minister seriously, because he has a way of bluffing, and treats all serious matters which come before him in a cynical and trifling manner. But, before makingmy explanation, I shall read the report of that part of the debate to which I wish to refer which was published on Friday last in a metropolitan journal, which at the present time is going in for the publication of sensational literature of all sorts - tales about “Thunderbolt” and the like. This is the sort of report which appears in that paper. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is reported to have said -
Now we come to Gunner Watt’s case. Gunner Watt was an intelligent man, apparently, who desired to go up for examination, and a regulation provided that a board should be constituted to deal with such applications. It was stated that no poor man - no man without aristocratic influence- could get justice from Senator Playford.
– Whoever said that?
– Mr. Crouch said that.
As a matter of fact, I desire to state that on no occasion have I said that no man could get justice from Senator Playford - and there is no report of such a statement having been made by me, either in Hansard or anywhere else. The newspaper report continues -
What were the facts? Immediately the Ministry was formed Mr. Crouch spoke tohim(Mr. Ewing) with regard to Watt The view he (Mr. Ewing) took was that any man, no matter what his position might be, was entitled to go up for examination. He told Mr. Crouch to consult the Minister of Defence. Mr. Crouch did so.
– Excuse me; I never consulted Senator Playford.
As a matter of fact I did not.
– I don’t like to say it, but I can give, the House Senator Play ford’s assurance that the honorable member did consult him.
Then the newspaper prints the word “ sensation.”
– That is where the “ Thunderbolt “ business come in.
– Yes. This journal is evidently trying to raise its tone up to that of its readers -
I have further knowledge about thismatter which I won’t mention. (“ Oh, oh !”)
– You told me that Senator Playford said the man could go up, but I was onno account to say so. The official answerwas different (Sensation.)
– Mr. Crouch’s position appeared to be somewhat remarkable in the circumstances. Within 24 hours it was decided that Watt was to go up for examination, and Senator Playford had jumped on the board system and put an end to its existence.
– If he put his tiny foot on it he would squash it. (Laughter.)
Might I say that in this paper everything which comes from the Opposition is greeted either with “ loud laughter “ or “ great cheers” ?
– What is the honorable and learned member explaining? He rose to make a personal explanation.
– I am going to explain that the statements published in this paper are incorrect, and to show that its comments on the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, so far as they refer to me, do me a great injustice.
– He issued a direction that under no conditions should boards be appointed again, But -
This is what I strongly object to -
Mr. Crouch left the House under the impression that Watt could not go up for examination. That was not fair to the Minister nor to the House. (Hear, hear.)
– Does the Minister say that justice has been done?
– Yes. I cannot conceive how Mr. Crouch could make these statements knowing what he did. (Hear, hear.)
– Your statements are grossly inaccurate, and you know it.
The paper goes on to say that I made” a number of base charges which were groundless. I wish, therefore, to tell honorable members what the facts are, and to show them that the statements which I have read misrepresent them. On the 27th July last I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice, three questions, which are reported in Hansard, at page 215. The first of these questions is as follows: -
Whether Bombadier B. Watts, of the Permanent Forces, who has had service in South Africa, was refused permission to present himself for examination for a commission?
To that the Minister replied -
Yes. On notice being given in February last of intention to hold an examination for first appointment to a commission in the R.A.A., Bombardier (now Corporal) B. Watts, R.A.A., Victoria, submitted his name as a candidate. As, however, the application was not recommended, either by the special military board appointed by the Commandant, Commonwealth Military Forces of New South Wales, under paragraph 15 of part 3 of the Military Regulations, or by the Commandant of New South Wales (in whose com’ mand Corporal Watts was temporarily serving [ill]- 2 while attending the School of Gunnery, Sydney), or by the Commandant, Victoria, to whose district he belongs, his application was not approved.
Then I asked -
Does not Bombardier Watts come under the preferential conditions of section 11 of the Defence Act?
That is a section which refers to the right of a ranker to go up for examination for a commission. The Minister’s reply was as follows: -
In view of the foregoing, it was not considered that Corporal Watts’ application came within the conditions of preference laid down by section 2 of the Defence Act.
The third question asked if the Minister would be willing to place all papers connected with the case in the Library, to which the reply was “Yes.” It will be seen, therefore, that I was officially informed that Watts did not come under the terms of preference, and had not a right to go up for examination ; but the Vice-President of the Executive Council was good enough to come to me a minute afterwards, with a note or two scrawled on an envelope- - I do not know in whose writing - to tell me, to use his own words, “ The old man,” referring to the Minister of Defence, “ is going to let Watts go up. But,” he added, “ you must not on any account say anything about this.”
– Then why did the honorable and learned member say anything about it?
– The Minister has referred to it publicly since. It has been, made to appear that I deliberately attempted to suppress information which was given to me under such a pledge of secrecy that I could not make use of it. I thought it was only fair that Watts should have a chance to prepare for his examination if he intended to submit himself, and the next day I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he had any objection to my telling him that he would be permitted to proceed. He said that he did not think there would be any objection, and I thereupon wrote to Watts, telling him that he would be allowed to pursue his studies, and go up for the next examination. I would ask honorable members whether under these circumstances it would have been fair on , my part to tell the House that Watts was to be permitted to submit himself for examination ? I was not concerned only about Watts as an individual, but was fighting for a principle, and I should not have been satisfied unless the Minister had agreed that every man in a similar position should be permitted to qualify himself for a commission. Watts wrote to me in reply stating that he would require three months within which to prepare for examination, because his studies had been interrupted by the previous Minister. I then wrote to the Minister of Defence stating that I had been informed that Watts was to be allowed to submit himself for examination, and expressing the hope that three months’ notice would be given to him in order that he might prepare himself by study. I could not understand the statement made bv the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I had received information from the Minister of Defence with regard to Watts’ case. I make no imputation against the Minister of Defence, because I think I have been able to satisfy him that I have had only two interviews with him, the subjects of which were quite apart from the case now under discussion. I would also point out that I received a letter from Watts this morning, in which he states that the first official notification he received from the Defence Department that he would be permitted to submit himself for examination came to hand last Friday - the day after the speech delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon my motion. Prior to that he had received no communiration beyond my letter. Yet, in the face of this fact, the Vice-President of the Executive Council made the very serious statement that I had left the House under the impression that Watts would not be permitted to submit himself for examination. The present position has been brought about by the extreme care exercised by me with regard to a private statement made under a pledge of secrecy, and I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council-
– Perhaps I had better direct the attention of the honorable and learned member to the standing order relating to personal explanations. Standing order 260 reads -
A member who has spoken to a question -
Of course the honorable member spoke to ihis question when moving the motion which originated it. may again be heard to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech, which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter or interrupt any member in possession of the chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.
I have listened to the honorable and learned member for some time, and it does not appear to me that he has explained any matter in his own speech, which has been misquoted or misunderstood. He is criticising a speech delivered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Therefore, I do not think he is in order in proceeding upon the lines he has so far followed. If, however, he has practically concluded his explanation, and will speedily bring it to a close, I would not strictly enforce the Standing Orders against him.
– Is that, sir, the only standing order referringto personal explanations ?
– No. Standing order 258 reads -
By the indulgence of the House a member may explain matters of a personal nature, although there be no question before the House, but such matters may not be debated.
In this case the whole matter is before the House, and has been the subject of debate. I could not, therefore, allow it to be referred to by way of anticipation of further debate. The honorable and learned member can proceed only under standing order 260.
– I desire to refer to a misapprehension in the mind of the VicePresident of the Executive Council with regard to what I stated and proposed to do.
– Has the honorable member practically concluded ?
– No ; I am about to enter upon a new branch of the subject.
– Then I should not be justified in regarding the honorable and learned member’s remarks as within the standing, order.
– Perhaps you would inform me, Mr. Speaker, whether standing order 260 would not apply to the explanation which I am about to make. The standing order reads -
A member who has spoken to a question -
That is my case - may again be heard to explain himself -
That is what I desire to do - in regard to some material part of a speech -
It is very material - which has been misquoted or misunderstood.
I contend that this newspaper - it may be only a vile “sensational” of which it is unnecessary to take any notice, but it has a certain small circulation; I am. referring to the Argus - says that I have made baseJess charges which are, in themselves, base. That is a reference to a material part of my speech. I do not propose to introduce any new matter. I stated certain things about a man named Webb. I said that he had been treated very unjustly, almost mercilessly, and had been; punished. I am sorry that I cannot quote the Minister’s speech - I thought I should have been within my rights in doing so.
– I would direct the attention of the honorable and learned member to the fact that he has the undoubted right to canvass all the Minister’s statements in his speech in reply, but not on this occasion. That may be done only when the honorable and learned member is replying at the close of the debate, and I cannot permit him to proceed further upon the lines he is now following. I would suggest that he should permit the matter to stand over until he is entitled to close the debate.
– I should be only too glad to avail myself of that opportunity, but I am assured that it is the intention of the Government, and some of their supporters in the. Opposition, to talk out my motion, and thus deprive me of an opportunity to make a reply.
– I have heard nothing about it.
– All I can say is that if any such course is adopted, I shall take another opportunity of bringing the matter before the House, and will see that a Committee of the whole House considers the question.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - I desire, by way of explanation, to assure the honorable and learned member that it has never been a pleasure to me - nor could it be - to humiliate any honorable member. He has contended that he knew of a certain thing confidentally, and therefore did not know it. I am inclined to think that honorable members will see no difference between the confidential and full knowledge of the matter, except so far as the use of the information is concerned. The honorable and learned member a week or two ago informed the House that he did not know that the Minister of Defence had remedied Watts’ grievance, and that Watts had the right to present himself for examination.
He said that he did not know that the regulations which were said to preclude a ranker from becoming an officer had1 been dealt with - and dealt with satisfactorily - by Senator Playford.
– Where does the Minister find that statement? It does not appear in Hansard.
– The honorable and learned member knows that he made that statement, and it is upon record in Hansard. When he assured the House that a Select Committee Was required to inquire into Defence regulations, partly because Senator Playford had not dealt fairly with the case of Corporal Watts, I informed the House, not only that the Minister had remedied the matter, but that he had communicated that circumstance to the honorable and learned member. That fact is the only one at issue between us. I reiterate that I told the honorable and learned member that any information which came from the Defence Department must come through the Minister, and that consequently he must see Senator Playford himself. He did so, and Senator Playford informed the honorable and learned member that he had remedied Watts’ grievance. The honorable and learned member then informed Corporal Watts. Furthermore, in the records of the Department, there is a letter from the honorable and learned member, which was written weeks before he made his speech in this House, and in which he virtually thanks the Minister for the action he had taken.
– Not at all. Produce the letter.
– I will produce it.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to say that my utterances have been misquoted. The Minister affirms that I made a certain statement, and that it appears in Hansard.
– I really cannot allow this matter to proceed further. The discussion is degenerating into a debate between two honorable members - a debate in which the rest of the House has no part.
– May I ask your ruling, sir? The Minister has asserted that I made a certain statement. I desire to show that I did not say what has been attributed to me, and that he has misquoted my utterances. Am I to understand that I am not allowed to do that?
– Under the terms of the standing order to which I previously directed attention, I certainly cannot permit this discussion to proceed any further.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th October, vide page 3273) :
Clause 4 -
Any person who, without the full knowledge and consent of the principal, directly or indirectly -
being an agent, accepts or obtains or agrees or offers to accept or obtain from any person for himself or for any person other than the principal ; or
gives or agrees to give or offers to an agent or to any person at the request of an agent any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward - (I.) for any act done or to be done, or any forbearance observed or to be observed, or any favour or disfavour shown or to be shown, in relation to the principal’s affairs or business, or on the principal’s behalf ; or (II.) for obtaining or having obtained or aiding or having aided to obtain for any person an agency or contract for or with the principal shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty : In the case of a corporation, Five hundred pounds; in the case of any other person, two years’ imprisonment or Five hundred pounds, or both.
A gift or consideration shall be deemed to be given as an inducement or reward if the receipt or any expectation thereof would be-.in any way likely to influence the agent to do or to leave undone something contrary to his duty.
– I desire to remind honorable members of what is really being done under the provisions of this Bill. When the Attorney -General was moving its second reading, it struck me that he really advanced no strong reason why we should pass the measure at all. There is no occasion for this Parliament to interfere in the matter of these secret commissions. I believe that the Victorian Legislature has already passed a Bill dealing with the subject, and I believe that the Attorney-General has taken his cue from its action.
– Not at all. We had this matter under consideration long before any such measure was announced.
– At any rate, the authorities and the speech of the honorable and learned member consisted chiefly of quotations from the report of the Butter Commission.
– That was a Federal Commission.
– But this Bill was brought forward because of the secret commissions, which were heard of more largely in Victoria than they were in any other State.
– They were heard ofin other States also.
– I freely admit that commercial transactions at the present time seem to be very viciously affected by these secret commissions. I wish to show, however, that the arm of the law is quite long enough and strong enough to deal with them without making what is at present a civil matter, a criminal offence.
– That is a question which should be discussed upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill rather than in Committee.
– Clause 4 is really the operative provision of the Bill, and this matter was not debated upon the motion for its second reading. The leader of the Opposition said that he accepted the principle of the measure and did not discuss it. I merely wish to call attention to the fact that our powers under the trade and commerce sections of the Constitution are not so extensive as those responsible for some of the Bills which have been submitted for our consideration, appear to think. When the Commerce Bill was under consideration I quoted from Prentice and Egan on the commerce clause of the Constitution, with a view to showing that our control over goods which may be exported does not commence until those goods have entered the stream of commerce.
– I scarcely think that the honorable and learned member is confining himself strictly to a consideration of the clause. I noticed his observation in regard to the second reading of the measure.
– I do not wish to elaborate my point, because it has already been discussed in connexion with the Commerce Bill. I am merely reminding honorable members of certain observations which were then made, and which really go to the root of the validityof this clause. If my contention applies to the whole Bill it ought certainly to apply to an equal extent to a particular clause which constitutes its main provision. My argument is that we really have no power to pass such a clause as that with which we are now dealing.
I think the Attorney-General will admit that in America a certain form of commercial gambling in relation to future contracts which affect trade and commerce with foreign countries is not a matter of Federal jurisdiction under the trade and commerce clauses. But acting on the suggestion of the Chairman, I will not elaborate that point. There is not one of the evils against which this Bill is directed which cannot be dealt with by the present law.
– What law?
– The common law of England which applies equally in Australia. That law applies within the States, and it is part of my argument that this matter of secret commissions is really one with which the States should deal, because it follows from my primary observations that if, for example, we have no jurisdiction over manufactured articles, until ‘ they reach the stream of commerce, our powers are strictly limited. In a number of English cases, it has been laid down that if an agent receives a secret commission, not only can his principal recover that commission from him, but the agent, by accepting it, disentitles himself to any commission. In. other words, the ordinary commission which the principal contracts to pay to an agent is not recoverable where a secret commission has been bargained for or accepted.
– Even that decision has been limited by later judgments.
– I speak subject to any correction which the Attorney-General can give me by reference to more recent cases. The decision to which I have referred has been affirmed time after time. It was affirmed in a leading case, which occurred in 1878, and from that time till 1905 there are a series of decisions in which it is laid down that an agent who has agreed to accept a secret commission renders himself liable *o an action for damages for a breach ~f the law of agency - the implied contract to honestly discharge a duty to his principal - and that the party who promises to give such a commission, or who actually gives it, can also be made separately responsible in damages. Each of them may be sued, and in addition to their being liable to a joint or several action for damages, the agent may be called upon to pay to his principal the secret commission which he has received, and is not entitled to recover for work and labour done.
– Who is authorized to sue?
– The principal.
– The Attorney-General holds a different opinion.
– There can be no question about the correctness of my statement of the law.
– I was referring ‘ more particularly to the last proposition - that the agent is disentitled to any commission, for work and labour done. That has been modified by a later decision.
– I know the case to which the honorable and learned gentleman refers. In order to put the matter clearly before the Committee, I may perhaps be allowed to quote a decision given in 1900, which lays down the general principle, and then to quote the case which the AttorneyGeneral probably has in mind. In the case of Grant v. the Gold Exploration and Development Syndicate, 1900, Q.B.D. 1, page 244, it was laid down that -
The case in this Court of the Salford Corporation v. Lever is a clear authority that where an agent, who has been bribed so to do, induces his principal to enter into a contract with a person who had paid the bribe, and the contract is disadvantageous to the principal, the principal has two distinct and cumulative remedies : he may recover from the agent the amount of the bribe which he has received, and he may also recover from the agent, and from the person who has paid the bribe, jointly or severally, damages for any loss which he has sustained by reason of entering into the contract without allowing any deduction in respect of what he has recovered from the agent under the former head, and it is immaterial whether the principal sues the agent or the third person first.
That confirms my statement that it is open to the principal to sue.
– In the Victorian Butter Commission cases, the farmers were the principals. How could they sue?
– The honorable member is opening up another matter. If they were prejudiced they could sue.
– I understood the honorable and learned member to say that they were entitled under the State law to sue.
– If the person who had received the secret commission were the agent of the farmer, the latter could sue, but if he were not, the farmer could not do so, because he could not say but that the money was received ostensibly by the agent, but really, as the law implies, for the principal. Under thi; clause we not only give a civil remedy, but make the receiving of a secret commission a criminal offence. I object to that. In the case of Andrews v. Ramsay and Co., 1903, K.B.D., 2, it was held that - :
An agent to sell property who has sold the property, but received a secret profit from the purchaser, must not only account for that profit to his principal, but is not entitled to any commission from his principal.
I come now to the later decision, to which the Attorney-General was probably referring - the case of Hippesley v. Knee Brothers, 1, K.B.D., 1905. In this case, which was decided in October, 1904, it was held that where a commission was so customary as to imply that knowledge of the payment existed, the principal must have known, from the extent of the custom, that such a payment had been made.
– That was not the point in that case. I think it was held that the agent was not disentitled to his commission because he had received a rebate iri respect of money paid for printing.
– The principle laid down was that where it is a matter of knowledge amongst commercial men that discounts, rebates, or commissions are paid, no wrong is done by an agent in receiving a commission, and that the auctioneer in question, who had received a rebate on payments made for advertisements was not disentitled by virtue of that fact to his ordinary commission as an auctioneer.
– Because he did the work of an agent, irrespective of the advertising associated with it.
– But had it been a secret commission-
– It was.
– The Court held that it was not. It decided that the custom of granting rebates on moneys paid by agents in. respect of advertisements was so generally acknowledged that there was implied knowledge on the part -of the principal himself that such a rebate had been made. Under these circumstances the Court held that the auctioneer was entitled to sue for his ordinary commission, but must credit the rebate.
– But the Court assumed for the purpose of deciding the case referred to that the commission was a secret one.
– Does not the AttorneyGeneral agree with me that it was decided that when rebates were generally made to agents it must be assumed that’ the principal knew of that fact; that, as he possessed that knowledge, the auctioneer was entitled to sue for his commission for work and labour done, and that, therefore, the decision of 1903 which I have already quoted, did not apply, as it related clearly to a secret commission. If that be so, I contend that by this clause we are adding to sufficient civil remedies very strong penalties. We are proposing to make the receipt of a secret commission a criminal offence, punishable on indictment, although the matter is amply dealt with by the civil law of the States. Is it necessary to take that step? We must remember that, in this connexion, the Federal sphere is very limited, and that, probably, the legislation we are now passing will overlap the legisla tion of the States. It does not follow that the terms of this clause will be identical with those of the penal clauses of the States Acts. If that be so, we shall make confusion worse confounded. It seems to me that there is too much definition about the clause itself. The principal word in the clause - the word person - is not defined directly in the Bill, but under the Acts Interpretation Act it is declared to include a corporation as well as an individual. Under this clause we start off by providing that any “person” who, being an agent, does a certain thing, shall be subject to certain penalties, and the wo.rd “ agent “ is defined in the Bill as including “ corporations’.” We appear to’ be using a word that has already been, defined bv the Acts Interpretation Act to include “corporations “ as somewhat distinct from “corporations.” It is a technical matter, but I call the attention of the draftsman to it, as the “disregard of the definition given in the Acts Interpretation Act may possibly lead to confusion. The clause goes on to provide different penalties in the case of corporations from those to be imposed in the case of individuals - for a penalty of ^500 in the case of a corporation, and for’ two years’ imprisonment in the case of any other person.
– That provision must be read with clause 10, which brings in every individual of a company who aids and abets in the committal of the offence, and makes him liable to the same penalty.
– I know that ; but at the same time I regret that, having in the Acts Interpretation Act defined the word “ person “ to include a corporation, we do not by reference adopt that word instead of defining it to include a corporation, and thus using the word as if it had not already been defined by that Act. It would be far better, and far more systematic, if we were to stick to the terminology which is therein prescribed.
– I do not quite follow the honorable and learned member about the definition of the word “person.” Where is it used ?
– It is used in the first line of clause 4, and although it is defined in the Acts Interpretation Act to include a corporation, still subsequent parts of the clause seem to draw a distinction between a person and a corporation.
– No ; it recognises the Acts Interpretation Act.
-I do not think so. If the common law is ample to deal with the matter, if our jurisdiction is as limited as I have suggested, I do not see why we should immediately follow the example set by a State simply for the sake of doing something. Besides, the clause really does not deal with the corrupt tendering or reception of bribes, and therefore the honorable member for Kooyong has given notice of his intention to insert the word “ corruptly “ after the word “who.”
– That , word is used in the Victorian Bill.
– That confirms my primâ facie impression of the clause, that for some reason or other the word has been left out.
– In his speech on the second reading of the Bill, the Attorney -General said, in reference to the clause -
It is useless to penalize an agent unless we say to the third person who is going to benefit by his secret action, “ You shall suffer in like circumstances.”
Apparently it does notmake provision for a selling agent to be punished if his principal and he have combined in an endeavour to give bribes to the employe of a purchasing firm.
– Look at clause 10.
– That relates only to the commission of an offence against the Act. It says -
Whoever aids abets counsels or procures or is in any way directly or indirectly concerned in or privy to -
Clause 4 omits to make the offering of a bribe by a selling agent with the consent of his principal, an offence against the Act. Paragraph a deals, with only the party who accepts a bribe; paragraph b deals with the party who gives or offers a bribe, but he is entirely free from the penalty for the commission of an offence against the Act if he offers the bribe with the consent of his principal. Is that right?
– If his principal consents, why should it not be right?
– Ought persons to be allowed to offer bribes under a Bill in which we are trying to check that sort of evil?
– This is only intended to insure that he shall not injure his principal.
– Suppose that a selling merchant has a traveller who, by his instruction, offers a bribe to the employe of a buying merchant?
– Then the merchant is hit under clause 10, which says that whoever aids or abets shall be punishable.
– No, because it willnot be an offence against the Act.
– The agent will be hit under clause 4, and the merchant under clause 10.
– Can the honorableand learned gentleman show me where under clause 4 a selling agent will be hit if he offers a bribe with the consent of his principal ?
– The; honorable member has omitted to say that the principal must be the person whose agent accepts the bribe.
– There is no “ must ‘ ‘ about the matter. If we wish we can make provision against persons offering bribes to the employes of those to whom they are trying to sell goods. What I claim is, that the Minister has not done so in the Bill as it stands. Is that an intentional omission?
– No; it is intended to be provided for.
– I cannot discover where any provision is made in the Bill for the punishment of an act of that kind. The worst features in connexion withtrading are the offering of bribes) by selling principals and agents, worse almost; than the acceptance of them. The degradation of trade, the injury of honest traders is largely created in the first place by offers made by the agents of dishonest traders. This is the only - clause which specifies the offences. Paragraph a refers entirely to a person who accepts or offers to accept a bribe. Paragraph b refers to a person who “ gives or agrees to give or offers,” that person may be the agent of the selling principal. But he escapes altogether if the act is done with the consent df his own principal.
– That is, the buying principal.
– Clause 10 may affect it; the aiding or abetting provision.
– I do not think that even that affects it, unless an offence is created under the Bill] that is, if the selling agent has the consent of his principal it is not an offence. Clause 10 only refers to any one who - aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in or privy to the commission of any offence against this Act.
If the act committed is not an offence against the measure, I do not see how clause 10 affects the point at all. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Bill will be of very little use, because it will not go far enough. Such cases as were disclosed before the Butter Commission will not be affected by this clause, because they are cases within a State, and they are not sales to merchants abroad.
– Do they not concern the export trade?
– That does not matter. The sales must be to a party abroad, and not be to a party in a State, to be affected by this Bill.
– In the cases before the Butter Commission were there not agents for export?
– There were agents for export, but the sales were within the markets of a State. I am sorry that the Bill will go a very short distance in the direction required.
– We cannot make it go any further than we are permitted to go.
– We cannot remedy the law in that respect. The only effective way of dealing with the matter would be by means of State action; and only to the extent that this clause and this Bill shows the way for State action will it be beneficial. Because, as a matter of fact, when people are distant, such offences are not indulged in largely. It is only in the transactions of business between those In close touch that these secret arrangements are usually made. They do not exist so much between State and State or between one country and another. They enter into the daily round of business; and our Bill unfortunately cannot reach such cases. That is not the fault of the Attorney-General. I regret it, but I think that if this clause is to reach any one it ought to reach those who encourage the sort of thing complained of.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– I rather favour the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Angas. It appears that there is a dispute between him and the Attorney-General as to whether the common law can reach the cases that have been referred to, except the one specially mentioned, namely, the case of an auctioneer. If the AttorneyGeneral is right in his contention we should make provision in the Bill for such cases. It is well known that where an auctioneer has a large business, and is continually advertising in the newspapers, rebates are given. In my opinion, it would be wrong to make such conduct criminal. Every one who has to do with auctioneers knows that the practice is pursued.
– It is made an offence under clause 9.
– I do not think it ought to be regarded as an offence. As to the contention of the honorable member for North Sydney, I agree that this Bill does not reach the very cases that it ought to reach - for instance, cases where a principal permits his agent to approach an employe1 of another firm, and to give him consideration to pass on business to the agent’s principal. The clause does not meet such cases at all ; and if the Attorney-General desires to bring them in, an amendment should be made. With regard to the case of the printer, in which the Court of Queen’s Bench decided that there was no secret commission, on the ground that a well-known custom in the trade was followed, I say at once that if a practice is a well-known custom of the trade, it should not be made an offence. It appears to me that we are putting upon our statute-book a law which, to a large extent, is unnecessary.
. -I do not intend at the present moment to go into the use of the word “ corruptly.” I understand that the honorable member for Kooyong has an amendment to move, and I will deal with the point when it is before the Committee. But with regard to the position put by the honorable and learned member for Angas, of course, if we have not power to legislate on such subjects at all, that fact gets rid of the whole Bill. But the second reading has been passed, and I think it would be very wrong of us to sit down and acknowledge that we cannot cope withthese evils. However, although we have got past that stage, I shall bear in mind what the honorable and learned member for Angas has said, and when we come to deal with the point, if any suggestion is offered or amendment proposed, I shall be very glad to go into the legal reasons that led me to adopt the clause in its present form. With regard to the case put by the honorable member for North Sydney, I understand it to be as follows: - A is a selling merchant, and X is his agent. B is a purchasing merchant, and Y is his agent. X goes to Y and offers to sell with the knowledge of A, but without the knowledge of B. I think that illustration hits the case exactly. Y is an agent; and if honorable members look at clause 4, they will see that it provides that -
Any person who, without the full knowledge and consent of the principal, that means his own principal, because it must be read in co-relation with the word “ agent “- directly or indirectly being an agent - he is an agent - accepts or obtains or agrees or offers to accept or obtain from any person - any gift or consideration and so on, is under liability for a penalty. The agent of the buying merchant, who, without knowledge of his principal, agrees to accept a bribe, will be hit by this clause.
– That does not agree with the Attorney-General’s explanation of the clause.
– I think it does agree with the explanation. However, let us go step by step. The next sub-clause deals with any person who -
– Not if he does so with the knowledge and consent of his principal.
– I cannot read the clause in any other way. When we talk of principal and agent in correlation, we mean the principal ofthe agent and the agent of the principal ; otherwise the clause would not apply at all. If a man went to the agent of another and offered a bribe, the former could say he was the principal, and that, therefore, the offer was made with his consent.
– The principal of X must be A.
– Yes ; but the principal of Y is B ; and if Y takes a bribe, he must take it with the consent of his principal. If the honorable member looks at sub-clause a he will see that it refers to an agent who accepts or offers to accept a bribe.
– That is all right.
– That must be Y in the case I put ; therefore Y is liable, unless he gets the consent of his own principal; and then, as the honorable member for Angas interjected, anybody who assists, aids, or abets, is hit by clause 10.
– The agent is not liable if he acts with the consent of his principal.
– That means the principal of the agent to whom the bribe is offered.
– I can assure the honorable member that that is the way I read the clause, and the way in which I think any other lawyer would read it.
– There is no provision which touches the principal of the man who offers the bribe.
– There is every provision. The agent of A who offers a bribe is himself hit by clause 4, and the principal, if the bribe is offered with his consent’ or connivance, is hit by clause 10. I think it will be found that every case suggested by the honorable member is met. I can assure the honorable member that I did not intend any cases of the kind to be unprovided for; but I shall have a careful scrutiny made of the words, and if I find any possibility of evasion, I shall have the verbiage altered.
– In my opinion the clause provides for all the cases mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney ; but still I think it might be made clearer. So far as I can see, both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent are brought within the operation of the clause, although the language might be made more definite. The cases referred to by the honorable member for North Sydney are the worst features of commercial life. A merchant has to employ buyers in various branches of his business, and he is entirely in their hands. These buyers, above all others, are open to the wiles of the briber ; and while I am inclined to think, with the honorable and learned member for Angas, that our field of operations is exceedingly limited, we ought to provide as far as possible against these known vices of commercial life. Before the Bill is finally reported, the AttorneyGeneral may be able to advantageously alter the phraseology of the clause.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - In spite of the arguments of the Attorney-General, I am inclined to think that the clause does not provide for the cases which have been suggested. In the first place, if we turn to clause 3, we find that the term “ agent “ includes any person “ employed or acting or having been acting or desiring or intending to act for or on behalf of any other corporation, firm, or person,” whether he acts in the name of his principal or in any other name. It is made clear that what is meant is the agent’s principal, and not somebody else’s principal. The Attorhey-General, in moving the second reading of this Bill, spoke of an agent who, “ without the full knowledge of his principal, directly or indirectly, accepts or offers to accept a bribe.”
– That is what I say to-day.
– Then the agent must be the agent of his principal, and the principal referred to in connexion with “agent” must be his principal, and his principal alone.
– Therefore the selling agent, having the consent of his principal, is not guilty of an offence.
– Will the honorable member just stop there for one moment? Doesthis agent accept or offer to accept the gift ? Is he the agent who accepts the gift?
– No; I am pointing out that he is the agent who offers the gift.
– That is not what the subclause says.
– That iswhat I am pointing out. The AttorneyGeneral, in his second-reading speech, spoke of an agent who, “ without the full knowledge of his principal, directly or indirectly accepts or offers to accept “ a bribe. That is the only sensible reading of the clause. Who is the principal of the agent? The employer is the principal of The agent, and not another man; and, therefore, theagent could not be found guilty because of the want of knowledge of another man’s; principal.
– In sub-clause a, does “ agent” refer to the buyer’s agent or the seller’s agent?
– The buyer’s agent ; and that is evident from the remarks of the Attorney-General in his second-readingspeech. The words “ or obtains from any person for himself or for any person other than the principal,” were, I understand, inserted to meet the case to which the Attorney-General referred to when he moved the second reading of the Bill. A man’s wife, for instance, might be given a present.
– That is referred to in another part of my second-reading speech.
– That is so ; but the words deal with the same point. To my mind, sub-clause a certainly deals with the agent who is offered the bribe.
– The buyer’s agent.
– Yes, in practice.
– Who is his agent?
– I take it that the sub-clause applies to both buyer’s and seller’s agents ; and what imore could we have ?
– The sub-clause applies to any agent.
– If the buyer’s agent, without the full knowledge and consent of his principal, accepts a secret commission, he is to be held guilty, but if he does so with the consent of his principal, giving the commission to the principal, as he should do as an employé of the principal, he is not to be held guilty ?
– That is so.
– Now, I take the other side : A seller’s agent, a traveller, if honorable members please, offers a bribe to a buyer’s agent-
– That is under paragraph b.
– So I have said.
– I direct the attention of the honorable gentleman to the wording of the clause -
Any person who, without the full knowledge and consent of the principal, directly or indirectly -
gives or agrees to give or offers to an agent or to any person at the request of an agent -
When the word “principal” is used here the honorable gentleman must see that the principal meant is the principal in corelation to the agent.
– I think I know what the honorable and learned gentleman means, and yet I do not think that sufficient provision is made under this clause for punishing a selling agent.
– There would, under paragraph b. He would be aperson.
– Then, if he is a person, the question arises as to who is the principal ?
– We need not ask that question. He is the principal. He is the person who gives to the agent of a principal,
– It might be twisted into the clause, but I am of opinion that there is no distinct and proper provision for the punishment of an agent who is a selling agent.
– I admit the importance of the matter, and will take a note of the point raised.
– From my business knowledge, I am able to remind the honorable and learned gentleman that this is the worst of these offences. If there is no offer of a bribe, there will be no taking of a bribe. It is the offering Which introduces the system, and which very often induces a man, whowould otherwise be honest, to go astray. I think the clause should make the matter to which I havereferred, clear beyond question, and should not leave an opening for the raising of legal points.
– The honorable gentleman has expressed only the views which I previously enunciated in my speech.
– I do not doubt for a moment that the AttorneyGeneral intended to meet the case, but I am afraid that the clause will not meet it. If it will, the provision is so vague as not to be evident to an ordinary mercantile man on reading it, nor is it so evident that a selling agent will know at once what would constitute an offence. I am afraid also that the vagueness of the clause might give rise to difficulties in Courts of Law.
– I agree with the honorable member, that if the provision can be made more clear, that ought to be done.
– I move-
That after the word” who,” line 1, the words “corruptly and” be inserted.
I am perfectly aware that the AttorneyGeneral rather dislikes the introduction of the word “ corruptly,” but all the commercial bodies who recently waited on the honorable and learned gentleman, strongly urged theadoption of this amendment. They represented that they were entirely with him as to the object and purposes of thismeasure. Notwithstanding that it might be indicated that there might be a limit to the operation of the Bill, still, in so far as it will correct and prevent corrupt practices, the Attorney-General may be perfectly sure that all the mercantile bodies of the Commonwealth wish for the measure the fullest success. However, they desire that its provisions shall be expressed in such unmistakable language that there will be no possibility of its being misinterpreted either by an ordinary reader or by any Court. I am somewhat at a disadvantage in discussing the amendment to-day, asthe honorable and learned member for Corinella is in possession of my papers, which he was kind enough to take charge of on Thursday night, when I was unable to be present. Some references to the manner in which the word “ corruptly “ is frequently used are, therefore, not now before me. However, the representations which I am now placing on record in Hansard have already been made directly to the Attorney-General. The honorable and learned gentleman is aware that in the draft Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Russell, the use of the word “corrupt” was accepted. The Bill was introduced as “ A Bill for an Act to Check Corruption.” He is aware, also, that there is an Act in Great Britain known as “ The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act, 1889,” and that there is in the jurisdiction of Ireland an Act known as “ The Corrupt Practices Act, 1883.” So that, although my honorable and learned friend does not like the word ‘f corrupt,” it is accepted by the highest legal authorities in the Empire. I find from the Hansard of the Imperial Parliament for 1903, volume 119, page 242, that the Lord Chancellor, Lord Halsbury, in referring to the Bill then under consideration, said -
The word “ corruptly “ governs the whole matter, and I think that without it there is not the smallest chance of passing the Bill into law. No jury would convict, and indeed ought not to convict, unless they came to the conclusion that the money passed corruptly for the purpose of influencing business.
He was dealing, of course, with the construction which would be put on the word ‘ corrupt. “ Then Lord Alverstone, the Chief Justice, in the same debate, said -
The practice of secret commissions not only affects the relations between employer and employed, but leads to the goods being quoted at more than their full value in the market, as the commissions have to be provided for by additions to the price. Many people think that the Bill strikes at the” payment of commissions under any circumstances. But there are many trades in which the remuneration is solely by commission, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to retain the word “ corruptly,” so that the Bill may affect only the agent who secretly pays commissions for the purpose of influencing persons to buy his master’s goods. One of the elements in considering the question of corruption would be whether or not it was known to the person by whom the agent or servant was being employed. Without expressing 1 final opinion as to the desirability of inserting some explanation or definition of the word “corruptly” - as it may be better, perhaps, to leave the “interpretation to the Courts - I would point out that if we attempt to include within the scope of the Bill commissions which are not dishonorable or secret, and not in that way corrupt, we should be defeating the object of the measure, and spreading the net far too wide.
Other right honorable lords also dealt with the matter. Surely the AttorneyGeneral will pay regard to the opinion of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of England, who thought that the use of the word “corruptly” was necessary in the English Bill. A measure similar to that which we are now considering was recently introduced into the Parliament of Victoria by the Attorney-General- of the State. As drafted, it did not contain the word “corruptly,” and the State Attorney-General, in moving the insertion of that word, on the 15th August last, is reported in the Victorian Hansard to have said -
The leader of the Opposition had asked whether the word “corruptly” covered everything that was covered by the clause as it was before. No, it did not; and he would tell honorable members why. He would ask honorable members to look at paragraph * of the clause as it stood in the Bill. It was provided that “ if any person gives or offers to an agent without the assent of his principal any valuable consideration,” for the purpose stated, he was to be guilty of a misdemeanour.
Mr. Mackinnon, who is also a lawyer whom most of us know and respect, asked the meaning of the word “corruptly,” to which Mr. Mackey replied that the word “corruptly “ is very much like the word “fraud,” both being words of common acceptation, although it is difficult to precisely outline their exact meanings. As Lord Halsbury said in the passage which I have quoted, these words, without doubt, or question, have a meaning known to the mind of every man in the street.
– Did he say that?
– He said that a person could not be convicted unless the word “corruptly” was used.
– I do not think that that quite represents what he said.
– I have read his exact words, which, coming from such a quarter, are worthy of very grave consideration. I would not attempt to debate a legal question with the honorable and learned member for Angas and other lawyers, but, taking the ordinary business view of this matter, I ask the Attorney-General to have regard to the representations which have been made to him by persons of all classes, who are in entire sympathy with his efforts, and desire to make the Bill effective, but who ask that it shall be made clear that the .action which is to be punished bv such heavy penalties as are proposed shall be a corrupt action, taken for the special purpose and with the object of deceiving the principal. I do not wish to go into the intricate questions, such as who is the principal when there are two or three agents concerned, dealt with by; the honorable member who preceded me, because I agree with the Attorney-General that the word “person “ in paragraph b meets the objections which have been raised; but I hold that, the Bill will lose nothing in force or effect by the addition of the word “corruptly.” I trust that the AttorneyGeneral will not continue to oppose the amendment merely because he has opposed it hitherto, but that he will listen to the representations which have been made to him by the important bodies which have waited upon him, whose members, notwithstanding the very clear statement which he made, are still of the opinion that the. Bill will not be satisfactorily and successfully applied unless the word “corruptly” is inserted in it. Surely it is desirable, where the influence and effect of Commonwealth legislation must be limited, to make it harmonious with that of the States, and in this case, as I have shown, the “Victorian Parliament has, after careful consideration, decided to adopt the word “ corruptly “ and the words “corrupt practices.””
– But the other States might pass legislation in which different words are used.
– We can take example only from the State which’ has legislated on this subject.
– We must not regard the action of Victoria as governing that of the other States in this matter.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member for Angas that it shows the folly of dealing with the subject before the States have taken action in regard to it. The honorable and learned member is a constitutional lawyer, whose great ability we all recognise, and he tells us that the measure will be very limited in its application. That being so, I do not think it should differ from the State legislation on the subject. I urge the AttorneyGeneral, in view of the opinions of the high legal authorities of Great Britain, whose words I have quoted, in view of the action of the Parliament of Victoria, and in view of the representations which have been made to_him by mercantile men, who look at this matter from a practical stand-point, to see that there is no want of harmony between the Commonwealth legislation and that of the States. Nothing will be lost by complying with this request. This measure has a characteristic common to several others which have been recently introduced. It is of a most sweeping character, and contains drastic provisions, for which experience affords no justification. In a departure of this kind, which we all commend as a step in the right direction, we should proceed cautiously. The
Bill, as it stands, would very seriously interfere with a number of business men who are honestly and honorably accepting commissions which are authorized by the customs of trade. It is undesirable fo pass legislation that would plunge into all kinds of difficulties men who believe that they are pursuing a perfectly legitimate course, who have no idea that they are acting corruptly.
– Does the honorable member suggest that customs, which in themselves are corrupt, ought to be perpetuated ?
– No; but my contention is that the transition from present customs to a new order of things should be of a gradual character, and that the law should not be capable of too harsh an application to those who are in all honesty following out certain prevailing trade customs. The payment of commissions enters into all classes of operations in connexion with commerce and trade, and many of the practices now followed would, under the Bill, become serious misdemeanours. Surely it is only reasonable that we should specifically and clearly set forth that the law is directed against agents who accept commissions with intent to deceive their principals, who, in other words, act corruptly and wickedly. I am willing that the word “corruptly” shall be applied in its widest meaning.
– Would the honorable member put the onus of proof of innocence on the accused ? That goes to the root of the question.
– I understand that the principal will have to lay an information against his servant for having taken an illicit commission, and that the next action will have to be taken by the AttorneyGeneral.
– At present the AttorneyGeneral is not made a necessary party. The proceedings under the Bill would be the same as in any other prosecution. No presentment could be filed without the consent of the Attorney-General, but the initial proceedings could le taken independently of him.
– I have the fullest desire that this Bill should be made effective and complete. I do not wish to narrow its operation in regard to illicit or corrupt practices. On the contrary, it is desired bv myself and those with whom I am associated to make the Bill apply with the fullest force to persons who are deceiving or defrauding their principals. We wish to raise the status of trading and business operations in our community. We may, perhaps, in sp doing narrow the possibilities of doing business, because we are proposing to lay down canons of propriety which are higher than those adopted in other parts of the world; although they are none the less desirable on that account. I would point out, however, that the difficulties surrounding this question have been recognised by the House of Lords. I understand that the Bill is still in the Committee of that House.
– It has passed the House Of Lords.
– lt was recently in the Committee of the House of Commons, perhaps. Difficulty has been experienced in disposing of it owing to the complexity of the questions involved.
– Difficulties which I hope will not prevail here.
– Not to the extent of preventing the Bill from applying to cases of fraud and deceit. The London Chamber of Commerce incurred great expense in appointing a commission to take the evidence of the leading mercantile men of the United Kingdom. The testimony given showed that it was only fair and just that the word “ corrupt “ should be introduced into the Bill, but some difficulty was experienced in indicating its meaning and the extent of its application. All we desire is that a fair indication of corrupt practices shall be specifically set out in the Bill, and I trust that the Attorney-General will, in spite of the views he has already ‘expressed, recognise that the view we take is a reasonable one.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General). -I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment. I should like to state shortly the history of the word “ corruptly,” as it appears in the English Bill. When Lord Russell, of Killowen, introduced his Bill some years ago, he prefaced it by a statement which will be found, in the Parliamentary papers of the House of Lords, vol. 5, 190 1. page 511. In his memorandum he said, amongst other things -
Sections i and 2 make the gift, offer, receipt, and solicitation of any corrupt payments offences. Strictly speaking, corrupt payments are not defined by the Bill, but certain transactions are declared to be corrupt. The reason why no attempt is made to define corruption is .that the thing is so protean that to define it is almost impossible. For this reason the Courts have always declined to define fraud.
In that Bill he did what we have done here. We set forth the acts which we - think ought to be punishable. When Lord Russell, in his Bill, provided that agents who .corruptly received on solicited any bribe should be punishable, he did not leave it merely to the chance of the personal view of a Judge, or the personal views of a jury for the moment, to determine whether an action was dishonest or not. Amongst other things, he went on to say, in clause 3, that -
Every valuable consideration’ given to any agent by or on behalf of any person having business relations with the principal of such agent, not being tend -fide given to the agent for and on behalf of His principal, but under such circumstances as that, the same could be recovered by the principal from the agent on the ground of the fiduciary character of the agent, shall be deemed to have been corruptly given,
In this connexion, I wish to point out that Lord Russell set out what should be “ deemed to be corrupt,” which is practically what we say when we provide what shall be deemed to be an “offence.” The clause in question continues - and every valuable consideration in like mariner received by an agent shall be deemed to have been corruptly received.
It was not left to a jury to say whether a certain act was corrupt. All that would be* determined under such a provision would be’ whether an agent, without notice to his principal, had received from another person in antagonism to his principal a sum of money under such circumstances that the principal could have recovered it from the agent on the ground of his fiduciary position. If so, the agent’s action would be deemed to be “corrupt.”
– Did not Lord Russell’s first Bill make provision for certain exemptions ?
– I will deal with that matter presently. The Bill further provided that certain other offers and solicitations should be deemed to be corrupt. In several clauses Lord Russell set out the circumstances under which the offer or the receipt of what I call “bribes” should be deemed to be corrupt. He was not content to declare that every agent who corruptly accepted money should be guilty of an offence. He did provide that every person who corruptly “received” or “ solicited “ should be guilty of an offence, and he went on to declare what should constitute & “corrupt receiving “ or a “corrupt solicitation.” The word “corrupt,” however, was not approved by the House of Commons for some reason that I cannot define.
– Did not some members of the House of Lords object to defining the word “corrupt”?
– Yes. I would further point out that the form in which the Bill left the House of Lords was not that which the Lord Chancellor desired, and he said so.
– If he thought that the amendments made in the Bill were serious he should have sacrificed it.
– The honorable member had better address that argument to the Lord Chancellor. Lord Halsbury pointed out that the amount of corruption which was going on, and which required to be checked, was such that the Bill - even in the form in which he could secure its passage- was better than nothing. He was forced to accept it in the form in which it left the House of Lords, although it was not the form in which he desired to see it. In that Bill the word “corrupt” is not left an open question, because nobody knows better than do lawyers the difficulty of defining it.
– Can the honorable and learned gentleman define it ?
– No. I do not think that any man can do so. At the same time it is a most improper thing to incorporate in a statute a word which is not defined, and which is open to so much elasticity that it is impossible for any man to know when he is committing an offence and when he is not.
– Will, the AttorneyGeneral accept the word “fraudulently” as a substitute ?
– No. There are several provisions in Lord Russell’s Bill - for example, clauses 3, 4, 5, 6, and, I think, 7 and 8 - which practically declare what shall be deemed to be corrupt. I do not think that those provisions are a bit less or more stringent than is that which I have embodied in one clause of the Bill that is under discussion. “ Valuable consideration” was undoubtedly subject to certain exceptions. I may tell the ‘honorable member for Wentworth that we dealt with those exceptions the other evening. But those, exceptions have been omitted from the later Bill, and, in most instances, they will be applicable only to cases in which we have to deal with transactions that are not merely of a foreign or Inter-State character. The latest copy of the measure obtainable was ordered to be printed by the House of Lords on 3rd March last, and it makes provision against any agent “ accepting “ or “obtaining,” and against any person “corruptly receiving.” It also sets out that “consideration” means “valuable consideration of any kind.” There is no exception made. If honorable members will refer to the English Hansard for 1905, volume 143 - that to which the honorable member for Kooyong referred was volume 119, in which Lord Alverstone left the question of whether a definition of the word “ corrupt “ should be inserted in the Bill or whether it should be left to the Courts to determine, an open one - they will find on page 587 that when this Bill was under consideration, Lord James of Hereford, one of the greatest of English lawyers, submitted an amendment. The Bill contained the word “corruptly.” Its inclusion had been insisted upon. Thereupon, Lord James pointed out that in 1904 the Lord Chancellor himself had admitted that the mere use of the word “corrupt” was not sufficient, and that the latter had framed two sub-clauses to meet the position. Lord James moved the insertion of those sub-clauses, as he said “ not merely on his own authority, but on that of the Lord Chancellor.”
– It is rather difficult for honorable members to distinguish between the Attorney-General’s paraphrase of the speech in question and the actual speech.
– I have not yet quoted from the speech. I am merely pointing’ out that Lord James moved the insertion of two sub-clauses which he and the Lord Chancellor the previous year had thought necessary if the word “ corrupt “ was to be used. The first sub-clause read -
In any prosecution under this Act, evidence shall not be admissible to showthat any such gift or consideration as is mentioned in this section is customary in any trade or calling.
And the next was as follows: -
For the purposes of this Act, where it is shown that any such gift or consideration as in this section mentioned has been taken, given, or offered without the assent of the principal, the burden of proving that such gift or consideration was not taken, given, or offered corruptly shall lie on the accused.
That is a very severe provision to make. In other words, as soon as it is said that a consideration of some kind has been given to the agent, and that the principal did not give his assent to it, the accused is deemed to be a criminal unless he proves the contrary. That is a serious position, and one which ought not, in my opinion, to be taken up.
– That is the position taken up in the Commerce Bill.
– I think I could show that the honorable and learned member’s statement is incorrect, but I do not propose to deal with’ other Bills. The Lord Chancellor framed this provision. Lord James pointed out that the amendment was not really his own -
When the Bill was under consideration in 1904 a question was raised as to the meaning of the word “corruptly” at the commencement of the clause, and which governed the whole clause. It was suggested that there would be a difficulty in construing the word, and on that being pointed out to the Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Lord met the objection by proposing that the word “corruptly” should be defined more strictly by the two sub-sections he (Lord James) now brought forward.
He then proceeded to state what these subsections provided. The Lord Chancellor said -
My Lords, I am afraid I must object to the introduction of the sub-sections contained in the amendment, because I believe it is equal’ to moving that the Bill be read this day_ six months -
It was not because he disagreed with the inclusion of the word “ corruptly “ -
I do not disavow that the object with which these words were designed was a good one, and I should have been glad to give effect to the amendment, but it cannot be doubted that the sub-sections have created, and are still likely to create, opposition elsewhere. In the interests of the passing of the measure I adopted, with one exception, all the amendments that the Grand Committee made in the Bill in the House of Commons. I cannot help feeling that if your Lordships were now to re-introduce sub-sections which the Grand Committee struck out, the fate of the Bill would be tolerably certain. I am extremely anxious that the Bill, which has now been brought before Parliament for the third time, should pass, even at the sacrifice of what may be regarded as a more perfect form of words. If it is found in practice hereafter that there is any difficulty, owing to the lack of the words suggested by my noble and learned friend, it will be possible to try to amend the measure. I do think, in view of the consensus of opinion, that some legislation is absolutely necessary on the subject, it being clear that the amount of corruption is increasing day by day, a special effort should be made to pass this measure, even though we cannot adopt what would be regarded as the most perfect form of words. I am not alone in that opinion. I have here two letters, which, with your Lordships’ permission, I will read.
He then proceeded to quote a letter from the Law Society, and concluded his speech by saying -
I believe that if the amendments standing in the name of the noble and learned Lord, particularly the one with which we are at present concerned, are passed, the Bill will never become law. For these reasons, I must resist the amendment.
Lord Avebury, in the course of the debate, said -
If he understood the Lord Chancellor correctly, he was most distinctly in favour of the amendment moved by Lord James, but opposed it on the ground that it would probably prevent the Bill from passing into law. He, for one, and, he believed, the commercial community generally, would rather get half a loaf than none at all ; but, at the same time, they felt very great doubt as to what the word “ corruptly “ meant.
I may say that I have exercised very great care in dealing with this matter, and have been most” strongly advised by Mr. C. B. Finlayson, a man who, I think, is second to none in his knowledge of the criminal law of Victoria, not to use the word “corruptly.” It was to Mr1. Finlayson, who is senior prosecutor for the Crown, that the question of whether criminal prosecutions could be instituted with regard to matters revealed by the Butter Commission was referred, and he has advised me most strongly - and has authorized me to say that he has so advised me - that it would be a mistake* to insert the word “ corruptly.” Turning once more to the report of the debate in the House of Lords, we find that Lord James of Hereford, referring to the sub-sections in the amendment, said -
They were drawn up by the Lord Chancellor in order to get rid of the difficulties which every one foresaw would arise, and were accepted last year as a solution of a very great difficulty. and so forth. In view of what the Lord Chancellor had said, he stated that he would not press his amendment. Lord Blackburn said, in a case that is reported, that -
To “ corruptly “ treat or do any other thing contrary to the Corrupt Practices Prevention Act 1854, 17 and 18 V., c. 102, does not mean to do it “wickedly, or immorally, or dishonestly, or anything of that sort, but with the object and intention of doing that which the Legislature plainly means to forbid.”
We have to go to the Act. I have looked at the various cases, and have come to the conclusion that the effect of all those bearing on the question of secret commissions is that it is corrupt for an agent to take remuneration or reward from a person in antagonism to his principal, if he does it secretly and without the assent of his principal. If that be the case - and I think it must be admitted that that is the crux of the whole position - let us set forth plainly what we mean. Do not let us use the word “corruptly,” and leave our meaning in doubt ; let us declare, as the Courts have decided time after time, that if an agent takes a commission, without the knowledge and assent of his principal, he commits an offence. He may readily avoid committing the offence by going to his principal and saying, “ Such and such is the position ; may I accept remuneration, or part of it, from the other side ? “ If his principal, with a full knowledge of the circumstances, replies in the affirmative, the agent may accept the remuneration without committing an offence.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral shown the Committee? how the Bill as introduced compares with the result of the labours of the Grand Committee of the House of Commons?
– I have not obtained the Grand Committee’s expression of opinion. I have searched for it, and, being .unable to find it, have put before the Committee the opinion expressed by the House of Lords.
– I thought that the expression of opinion on the part of the Grand Committee might be taken as the view of the House of Commons.
– The expression since given ?
– I do’, not think that it is obtainable. I have quoted from the latest volume that I have been able to obtain. If there be other information available, I have not been able to secure it. A curious case reached the Court of Appeal in England a little while ago. It was one in which a member of the legal profession purchased a vessel for some .£40,000, and discovered that his agent had: received a consideration from the other side. It was pleaded in defence that the giving of such a consideration was customary. The primary Judge before whom the case came, said that would not be an answer, but as the principal had: adopted the transaction, he could not both approbate and reprobate - after he had known that the agent had taken a commission from the other side he could not repudiate, and was bound to pay the ;commission charged.
The Court of Appeal, however, said that there was a vast difference between full disclosure and part disclosure, and inasmuch as full disclosure had not been made, the agent had done wrong, and could not recover his commission from the principal. When I proceeded to frame this (provision, I asked myself the question. - and it will be for the Committee to say whether or not I was right in doing so - “ What is it at which the Court strikes “ ? I came to the conclusion that it was the secrecy of the transaction. If an agent acting for a principal wishes to take some reward from the other side, all that he has to do to make the transaction above board is to tell his -principal the material circumstances, and obtain his assent. If he does that there will be no trouble about it ; but if we put in a word, the exact meaning of which is known to no one, it will be a mere matter of chance how a Judge will sum up, and how it will be regarded by a jury. One jury may consider an act corrupt on one standard of ethics, and another jury may consider it wholly different and the criminality or noncriminality of any person may depend upon the merest chance. Surely it is far better for us to state what we mean to proscribe ! It seems to me that the fairest and clearest thing to do is to say that any person who takes a commission without the full knowledge and consent of his principal - which, so far as I can learn, has always been the test in the decided cases - commits a nefarious act. All he has to do to prevent his conduct from being so construed is to give his principal the full information in his power, and get his consent. The Bill does not touch such a case. I wish the Committee to understand that if an agent can show that, however ugly the circumstances may look, he did communicate to his principal all that was material in the matter, and that his principal did assent to his taking the commission or reward, however great it might be, from the other side, he will be absolutely outside the provisions of the law. It would be wearying honorable members for me to take them through all the various legal references, but the result of the cases - which are all collected in a little book I have here - is that the question has always been “ disclosure “ or “ nondisclosure.” It is not sufficient that a man who took the bribe thought it was a perfectly moral act. Not very many years ago, in Victoria, a case came before our Full Court - with a full Bench, if I recollect rightly - where persons in promoting a company took secretly some advantage for themselves. The Court considered that it was a bribe - practically a fraudulent act - and that the money should be refunded, although the offenders may have thought that it was a perfectly legitimate act, because it was in accordance with what many other persons had done. That is not the standard. We think that the best form of words has been used here. We are satisfied that the form used in the English Bill is not that which would have been adopted if the Lord Chancellor could have had his own way. To use the word “ corruptly,” and then put the onus of proof of innocence upon the accused person is to impose too heavy a burden. I do not feel disposed to do that, because it seems to me to be, in cases like this, a little un-British. We should say to a man, “ We tell you what we forbid you to do, and we must, at all events, prove a *-prima facte case against you.” But if the word “ corruptly “ be inserted, I do not see any option but to put the burden of that proof upon the accused. That course is followed in the Victorian Act, but I think it should not be adopted here. The honorable member for Kooyong said that we ought not to take this drastic step until we have had a little mae experience in these matters. We have had considerable experience. The Butter Commission - which was both a Federal and a State Commission - disclosed circumstances which would make it a subject of reproach to us as a Federal Parliament if we did not attempt to cope with them. When we find that such things can be done as were done, and can be done with impunity, so far as any punishment is concerned; when a Crown prosecutor like Mr. Finlayson can find no criminal law to reach such transactions, it is time that we enacted a law which would reach them, because there cannot be the least doubt that, according to the present law - Federal law, at all events - the producers are entirely at the mercy of the acuteness or the astuteness of persons who know a great deal more than they do, and who can find ways and means to benefit themselves in an illegitimate fashion. I hope that the Committee will help us to place upon the statute-book a clear and distinct provision which will enable persons to see at a glance whether what they are doing is lawful, or unlawful. No man can see at a glance, or even without full consideration, whether an action is lawful or unlawful if the word “ corruptly “ be used. He will have to stand the chance of the finding of a jury, and therefore, I hope that the Committee will see that the only clear and fair way for both parties is to say in regard to criminal matters what the Courts have said in regard to civil matters.
– No doubt, sir, you have often heard the phrase that a. skilful lawyer can drive a coach and team through any Act of Parliament. That is not only a phrase, but a truism. If the word “corruptly” be inserted in the clause, it will be easy for a lawyer, skilful or otherwise, to drive a coach and team through the Act. I think that the Attorney-General has made out a strong case for allowing the clause to stand as it is. In the daily press, we have all read of numberless cases where men have escaped punishment] in the Courts, because the law was not properly worded. To introduce! the word “ corruptly “ vould be to vitiate the Bill. I agree with the Attorney-General that there are in thecommunity very many persons who regard the acceptance of commissions, secret or otherwise, simply as an emblem of their moral character. In Australia there seem to be a great many persons, who, like Pooh Bah, consider it a most moral act to accept ai commission, and argue that if they did not, somebody else would. The inquiry before the Lands Commission. inNew South Wales has disclosed sufficient evidence that, if the word “corruptly” were contained^ in the law, many persons who might be charged later on ‘ would escape punishment on the ground that the act was not corruptly done. We should not load our, measures with words that we cannot define. The honorable member for Kooyong admits that it is impossible todefine the word “corruptly.” It is sufficient for me as a layman to draw illustrations, not from the House of Lords, but from every-day life. Lawyersof great experience of the criminal law in Australia have admitted that they cannot secure the punishment of certain persons,, because the word “ corruptly “ is used in the law. I think that the wording of the clause is quite sufficient to accomplis!!’ the object desired. The mere fact that a man did an act secretly, without the knowledge and consent of his principal, is an admission that he did not wish the latter to be informed. The secrecy is the essence of the offence. I wish to prevent the growth of secret commissions, and I feel that if I were to vote for the amendment I should be assisting to defeat the intention of the Bill.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas). - The discussion and the observations of the AttorneyGeneral strengthen my impression that it was a mistake to introduce this measure at all. There are, I quite admit, difficulties in introducing the word “ corruptly “ into this clause, because, unless it could be proved that an act was corrupt, it would be impossible to get a conviction. The honorable member for Kooyong has quoted an expression of opinion by the Lord Chancellor, showing how difficult it is to define the word “ corrupt.” He quoted from the Victorian debate, in which the opinions of Lord Russell of Killowen and Lord Alverstone were given to show that it was quite as difficult to define the word “ corrupt” as the word “ fraud.” The Lord Chancellor, in a debate in the House of Lords, stated that no jury would convict except it was convinced that the act complained of was done with a corrupt motive.
– I do not think he said that.
– The Lord Chancellor said -
The word “ corruptly “ governs the whole matter, and I think that without it there is not the smallest chance of passing the Bill into law.
He was referring to the strong opposition that existed -
No jury would convict, and indeed ought not to convict, unless they came to the conclusion that the money passed corruptly for the purpose of influencing business.
In other words, unless the jury were convinced that the action was influenced by a corrupt motive, they ought not to convict. The honorable’ member for Kooyong says that we ought to have the word “ corruptly “ in the Bill. I see the difficulty, and it brings me back to my original point - why should we not leave this matter to the States? Why pass a Bill of this nature, which will not be identical in its terms with the Act already passed by one State ? The Victorian Act includes the word . “ corruptly.” It will not be inour measure. It must be making “ confusion worse confounded “ when we add another Act to the statute-book affecting in different terms a matter with which the States can deal amply, and with which one of the States has already dealt. A man ought to know what his position is; and when he finds that certain conduct is proscribed, but that whilst one Act says that certain conduct is not illegal unless it is done corruptly, and another Act says that the conduct need not be corrupt, in order to be illegal he must be confused. We are making “confusion worse confounded” instead of making the law clearer. We cannot produce uniform legislation in this matter. If we pass this Bill it will not supersede the work of the States. If we do not pass it we shall not prevent the States from making their law apply to Inter-State as well as to internal commerce. If, for instance, the State of South Australia passes an Act dealing with this subject, it can make it apply not only to matters within the State, but also with regard to external commercial transactions. But if we pass an Act, South Australia cannot legislate in that respect. Hitherto the test of guilt, generally speaking, has been moral delinquency on the part of the person accused - guilty knowledge. Under this Bill that is not essential, and, as a matter of fact, is not the test.
– Surely it is.
– No, it is not. In the case of a bribe being given by a person to an agent, the test of innocence or guilt is the question whether the principal of the agent knew of it or not; not whether the person making the bribe knew that the principal knew, but whether the principal knew. That is the point. The person giving the bribe might think the principal did not know, or he might corruptly, or under a false assumption that the principal did not know, try to influence the agent. In that case he is morally guilty, but he is not legally guilty if the principal did as a matter of fact know. Innocence or guilt does not depend upon the state of mind of the person doing the act, but depends on matters external to himself in many cases. I do not want to object strongly to the omission of the word, but I see the difficulty of defining the word “corruptly.” It seems to me that it would be far better to knock the clause out altogether, and to leave the States themselves to initiate such legislation as Victoria has already passed.
– I think it is an unfortunate circumstance that just as we are about to deal with this measure the Victorian State Parliament should have dealt with the same subject in a manner apparently different from that which is likely to be followed by the Commonwealth Parliament. But I quite agree with the Attorney-General that it would render the Bill useless for the purpose of prosecution if the word “corruptly” were put into it. One has to remember that this Bill is aimed at converting into a criminal offence a practice which has hitherto been considered commercially innocent for, one might say, centuries of time, and which extends from commissions in the highest channels of finance down to tradesmen’s commissions to domestic servants. The giving of such commissions has hitherto been regarded as an allowable practice.
-Not by the Courts.
– Not by the Courts in civil instances. Every one who practices in the law knows that there are many cases in which persons have recovered enormous sums of money for commissions extending over many years.. There was, only a few months ago, a case in which something like £60,000 or £70,000 was recovered from a shipping broker by a shipping company. But I am talking of the criminal side. Every one knows that nowadays in England it is the commonest practice in the world for domestic servants in authority to make purchases for the master or mistress of the house, and to receive from the tradesmen a regular commission, either in kind or in money. The practice extends to some of the highest in the land ; it extends to the merchant, it extends to the broker, it extends to the banker, it extends to the ship-owner - we cannot say how far it extends in the ramifications of our commercial and industrial life. I mention this because the honorable member for Kooyong has been contending that in this Bill it should be necessary for the Crown to prove that an act is done corruptly in order to obtain a conviction. But it seems to me that the introduction of that word, in addition to the very ample definitions of the offence in the Bill, would render a conviction almost impossible. Because, as I say, this offence from the criminal point of view has been regarded as allowable, as long as people were not sufficiently clearly discovered in it to enable others to recover. But if we seek to make criminal a practice which has hitherto been regarded as non-criminal, we cannot intro duce a vague word like “corruptly” without almost completely destroying, the chances of a prosecution. There are words which are commonly intioduced into Acts of Parliament relating to criminal offences, and which now have a very definite and recognised signification; and when the prosecution has thrown on it the onus of proof, it is not difficult to give evidence which will supply the particular adverbial attribute necessary to secure a conviction. But if the taking of a commission has hitherto, in any walk of life, been regarded as criminally unpunishable, and we require proof in any future prosecution that the taking of a commission is done corruptly, it will practically mean, as the honorable and learned member for Angas has pointed out, that there will have to be proof that the act was done with a corrupt mind. But it is not intended by the Bill that the act must be done with a corrupt mind. Hitherto, such an act has not been considered corrupt, though it has been regarded as a civil offence for which damages may be recovered.
– Equity Courts have considered such acts corrupt.
– The word “corrupt,” as the Attorney-General said some little time ago, is of such vague signification that we cannot use it in a Bill of this kind. I support the Attorney - General’s view.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member.
– If we used the word it would be unnecessary to define the offencewith so much particularity. If we definethe offence in all its possible bearings, with the particularity observed in the Bill, what we practically say is that hitherto the offence, in all its forms, has been regarded as a civil offence, but that in the future it is to be regarded as criminal - whether the offence be committed with an evil mind or not - although it may have been the practice in that particular branch of commerce, and it may not be, in the estimation of the offender, or of an ordinary jury, corrupt or wicked in a criminal sense - still, it will now be legarded as an offence of a criminal character which is punishable. I quite agree with the honorable member for Kooyong that, inasmuch as the law may not become known very quickly, or very universally, there may be a great deal of hard- ship in some of the earlier prosecutions. It will be sought to be adduced in evidence - although by one of the clauses it is not legal evidence - that the taking of commission has been a customary practice in a particularclass of business; but the Bill very properly provides that such evidence cannot be given for any purpose either as a defence or in mitigation of punishment.
– Surely it might be given as evidence ofbonâ fides, though not necessarily in defence.
– There is no such thing as bona fides under the Bill.
– Hear, hear ! That is the point.
– The object of the Bill is to catch this practice by the scruff of the neck, if I may use strong, figurative language.
– To show it no mercy.
– The object is to punish every member of the commiunity who secretly takes commission of the kind. The great point is the secrecy, because if the person, out of whose pocket the money is to come, is informed of the fact that he has to pay, there is no offence. The opening words of clause 4 are -
Any person who, without the full knowledge and consent of the principal, directly or indirectly - accepts or agrees or offers to accept any gift or consideration. The clause does not speak of an actual consent, though consent may be implied ; there must be full knowledge on the part of the principal. I quite agree, as I have said, with the honorable member for Kooyong in the idea that there may be a great deal of hardship at first through the operation of the axiom that ignorance of the law is no excuse for its infraction. Any man engaged in any branch of commerce, or in a profession must be aware that the practice of secret commissions - that is the best definition that can be given - runs its threads through every ramification of human activity. I do not speak of commerce only.
– This Bill will “ straighten up “ the whole community.
– It will touch the whole community, and I am glad to see such a Bill introduced. There never was a more practical lawyer in England than the late Lord Russell of Killowen. That distinguished man had experience of every form of practice in the common law side of the Courts, and he knew all the ins and outs - the crevices of life; and, having all that experience, he introduced a Bill of this kind, with a fixed determination to abolish what he regarded as one of the social evils of the day. I am very glad that we are passing such legislation, but, at the same time, it is a matter for regret that, while we omit the word “ corruptly,” the legislation of the State in which the Parliament meets adopts that word. The honorable and learned member for Angas has suggested that, as the one State has dealt with the question, it would be better to allow the other States to deal with it individually. I take it, however, that one of the primary purposes of the Commonwealth Parliament is to assimilate the laws within the Commonwealth - that we should not have one law in one State and another law in another, but should, wherever it is possible and constitutional, so legislate that a man, whether he comes from the Gulf of Carpentaria, the most southerly point of Tasmania, or the most westerly point of Western Australia, may know that the law is the same throughout the continent.
– That cannot be done under this Bill.
– Why not?
– Because we can deal only with external and Inter- State commerce; we have no power to pass a uniform law.
– No doubt there are limits, but, at the same time, the law will apply to the whole Commonwealth. I should like the Attorney-General to note the fact that the honorable and learned member for Angas contends that constitutionally this Bill will not have the effect that an assimilating measure would have if each of the States had an Act of its own. I take it that the object is to apply this law to the whole of Australia.
– What I take to be the position is that we can legislate only for foreign and Inter-State commerce, and for our own Departments - that, so far as we legislate in that field, we are paramount. The States Acts will, of course, have only internal operation. I take it that it is very important, as the honorable and learned member forParkes has pointed out, that we should have uniform law dealing with foreign and Inter-State matters.
– Even supposing that each State were ultimately to adopt a measure dealing with matters exclusively within its own territory, no doubt great advantages would result from a measure passed by this Parliament dealing with Inter-State business throughout the Commonwealth.
– And with foreign matters.
– -That is so; but T am speaking especially in relation to our Own interests. The only question before us now, of course, is the proposed amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong to introduce the word “ corruptly.” I can quite understand the spirit in which that amendment is proposed : I know the honorable member1 is acting with the very best intentions, regarding the question from the stand-point of the commercial world. But although this is a very drastic measure, I am perfectly certain it will have a very purifying effect upon our commerical life. I do not expect wonders from the Bill. I do not expect that it is going to transform our commercial or industrial life; but I am certain that no honorable man, who desires to conduct his business in what we may call an above-board manner, so that every one who deals with him may know exactly what he has to pay in a given transaction, has anything to fear. On ‘the other hand, those who benefit by the credulity of simpler people - those who are making secret profits, which those credulous people know nothing of - will be struck a blow, with the approval of the whole community. On .the whole, I regard this as a measure for which the Australian people will have every reason to be thankful.
– I should not have risen at this stage but for some remarks made by the last speaker with respect to the Bill passed by the Victorian Legislative Assembly. I can say definitely on the assertion of the honorable gentleman who had charge of the Bill iri that House that after the most careful investigation of the subject, and the most ample perusal of. the debates of the House of Lords, the proceedings of the Grand Committee of the House of Commons, and all the literature on the subject-
– Can the honorable and learned member say whether the Grand Committee of the House of Commons ever reported on the subject?
– I believe they did, though I have not seen the report.
– Was it prior to the House of Lords debate to which I referred?
– I am able to say that, after perusal of all the papers and reports to which I have referred, the honorable gentleman who had charge of the Bill in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, came to the conclusion that it was impossible to work a measure of this kind unless the word “ corruptly “ were introduced in a manner somewhat similar to that suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Was the word in the Bill as originally introduced in the Victorian Parliament ?
– It was not, but during the progress of the debate on the measure, after reconsideration, and after listening to the urgent representations of the leader of the Labour Party in the Victorian Parliament, that in our anxiety to prevent illicit practices we should be careful to do nothing that would hinder commerce, the honorable gentleman was forcer, as he told me, into the belief that the word “corruptly “ must be inserted. A man by virtue of documents and representations put before him might be induced to berlieve that an agent had the full knowledge and consent of his principal. If he subsequently found that the agent had not, he would be guilty of a crime under this Bill, and would be liable to be punished accordingly. The matter is one which has very little concern for me, or for the members of the profession to which I belong, except that, like a good deal of the legislation for which the Attorney-General is responsible, it will probably mean a good deal of costs.
– I know of many cases in which members of the legal profession get commissions. They are called procuration fees.
– They have not come my way yet. The Attorney-General some years ago in the Victorian Parliament, in dealing with companies, induced that Parliament to enact a number of very stringent provisions, the chief effect of which has been to treble the cost of registering a company in Victoria. Those of us who get the fees do not complain, but those who have to pay the fees do complain.
– The measure protected shareholders as they never were protected before.
– That is a minor consideration surely?
– It is all very well for the Attorney -General to say that but if he were asked to draw up a prospectus that would walk round all those provisions no one in Australia could perform the task better than could the honorable and learned gentleman.
– There are many in the profession who would try to do it as well.
– This is a matter of no importance whatever to me personally, but I certainly do attach some weight to the opinion of a gentleman who went into the matter most carefully, and who, as I have said, after the fullest consideration and reconsideration, after listening to a debate, and to the representations of the leader of the Labour Party in the State Parliament of Victoria, came to the conclusion that a Bill of thiskind could not be worked unless the word “ corruptly “ were inserted.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
In any civil or criminal proceeding under this Act, evidence shall not be admissible to show that any such gift or consideration as is mentioned in this Act is customary in any trade or calling.
– This clause goes a little too far. In the Victorian Act it is provided merely that it shall not be a defence to say that any commission, gift, or consideration is customary. I think that ought to be considered sufficient. Certainly a man ought to be able to produce evidence that the giving of a commission is customary in mitigation of punishment, or for the purpose of showing that he acted in ignorance of the law and in the belief that he was doing what was right and proper. Surely it is not asking too much of the Committee to request that the clause should be amended in that direction. I do not believe that to show that a secret gift or consideration is customary should be a valid defence, but certainly such evidence should be admitted to show bona fides, or. at any rate the absence of mala fides, and that a man acted in ignorance of the law.
– I am sure my honorable and learned friend would not willingly do’ anything which would perpetuate an evil, but I think the effect of bis suggestion would be to do so. The customs by which agents secretly receive commissions are thecustoms which we want to put down. I cannot conceive of anybody being allowed to prove in his defence that the custom of secretly taking a bribe is proper. How could it be a defence? The suggestion made would offer a means of sliding through the Act.
– How could it, when the man would still be guilty?
– It would be a step in the direction of getting him out of trouble. My honorable and learned friend, for instance, might get up and say on behalf of an accused person, “I will first prove that this is the custom, and I will then prove that everybody knew, or might be taken to know, that there was such a custom,” and that would prove knowledge and assent. Under the Bill it is clear that no one need worry about acting in pursuance of a custom if he goes to his principal and says, “ There is such a custom ; may I give it ?” He would then be outside the Act altogether, because his principal will have full knowledge, and would have given his consent. There would thus be an end to the liability of the agent. But if, without informing his principal, an agent chooses to act upon a custom, I say that if it is an evil custom it ought not to be brought forward in evidence at all.
– I am very much in sympathy with the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, but I do not think it is practicable to give effect to it. I recognise that, although it ought not to be a defence, it is possible that evidence of a custom might be admitted to some extent in mitigation of the sentence which would follow on conviction. But one is met with the difficulty that of course the Act is aimed at these customs. To show that the giving of a com - mission or consideration is customary is only to prove the existence of a practice which the Bill is introduced to suppress. The honorable and learned member might, with a little more reason, have proposed the insertion after the word “customary” of the words “ to the knowledge of the other party,” but even then I see the difficulty or impossibility of incorporating such a suggestion in this Bill without really emasculating it as an effective instrument for the purpose for which it has been introduced. I admit that it is a very drastic measure, and I am quite sure that a great many people who might plead ignorance of the law will in the earlier stages of its operation be caught, so to speak, without a knowledge of the offence they have committed. But I think that we can trust to, I will not say the leniency, but the tact and judgment of those who will have to administer the law, to recognise that in the) beginning of its operation the stringency of its provisions will not have become generally known. The public will, in the ordinary course of affairs, be warned by the infliction of punishments in a few minor cases that they must strictly comply with the provisions of the measure.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that it is too drastic ?
– It is very drastic. The practice at which it is aimed has permeated British communities for many, generations, and, indeed, centuries, because Pepys records in his diary that he added £50 to his little store of wealth by receiving^ gift from a contractor who had supplied new sails, or a new boat, or something of the kind, to the navy, and there are similar records in Evelyn’s diary, while I know from my thirty-five years’ of business experience that it is still to be found in every channel of commerce, and amongst every class of the community, down to the domestic servant.
– -Every one looks for it. °
– Every one looks for the commission, but no one looks for or expects the Bill. Many persons will be “flabbergasted,” if I may use the term, when they know that their little peccadilloes are to be punished as crimes.
– The receiving of a commission must be to the detriment of the employer. I do not think that the Bill would apply to the acceptance of a “tip” by a domestic servant.
– I mention domestic servants to show that the practice of receiving commissions obtains in every class of society. It is not peculiar to bankers, merchants, manufacturers, or traders.
– But it is pernicious in every case.
– No doubt, and I sympathize with the desire to put an end to it. Although entering into the feelings of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, that some of the early offenders should be let down lightly, I think that, although the Bill may work some few hardships at first, it is better to trust to the moderation of those who will administer it than to stultify its provisions in the manner suggested.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Aiding and abetting offences).
– The English Merchandise Marks Act pf 1887, from which I understand this provision to be copied, enacts that whoever “within the United Kingdom” counsels or abets an act which may have been committed outside the United Kingdom may be indicted under the Act. I ask why the words “in Australia” have not been used in this clause? Is the omission accidental or deliberate?
Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General). - We can legislate only for persons within the Commonwealth. Any person who is a party to the commission of an offence by another is fo be punished as if he himself had committed it, and we have tried to pre-vent a person in Australia from arranging for the receipt of an illicit commission outside Australia. The clause could not be taken to apply outside Australia, because the measure, like every Commonwealth Act, must be read by the light of, and be interpreted within the limits of, the Constitution.
– I see the reason for the omission. I thought at first that the intention was to give a wider scope to the clause than can be given under the commercial powers of the ^Constitution.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
– I move -
I regret to have to proceed at very short notice with a motion which I should have preferred to submit to a full House and to have had an opportunity of preparing for more fittingly. It will be observed from the first part of the motion that the proposal for a memorial to Her late Majesty is one which is in no sense restricted to the Commonwealth. On the contrary, we shall follow every other portion of the Empire named in the resolution. Apart from any mention of the mother country, Canada, New Zealand, Cape Colony, Natal, and Newfoundland have already, through their Legislatures, expressed their approbation of the proposal, and their willingness, and, indeed, their anxiety, to take part in the movement. Therefore, this proposal is one of a chain of motions which have been adopted in every one of the dominions named. When we take our place beside the other selfgoverning communities of the Empire in common action to this end, we shall by that very circumstance place upon the movement a stamp of originality which will render it for ever memorable, and distinguish it from every other memorial or trophy with which I am acquainted. There are special circumstances which ought to commend this proposal to the representatives of the people of Australia. Although some slight settlement had taken place upon this continent prior to the reign of the late Queen, it was of a very small and imperfect description. It is, therefore, scarcely too much to say that the whole growth of Australia - at all events, the Australia we know - belongs to the reign of Her late Majesty. All the States were either founded during her lifetime - indeed two of them, Victoria and Queensland, are personally associated with her by name - or were so remodelled and reshaped in their institutions and government as to have become practically creations of her time. Then, as a Commonwealth, we are particularly associated with the late Queen. It was under her rule that the movement for the Federation of the Australian States had its inception, and reached fruition. One of the last signatures which she appended to any document of importance set her final approbation as Monarch upon the Act under which the Constitution of the Commonwealth became law. The late Queen lived until after the establishment of the Commonwealth, although, unhappily, the official recognition of her death was one of the first proclamations which the first Ministers of the Commonwealth were called upon to authorize. So, throughout the whole of Australian history up to the present time, we have had the name of Her Gracious Majesty indelibly and. indissolubly associated with us. Of course, we have to remember that this memorial is intended to be expressive of the sentiment, not merely of the great self-governing communities in the British Empire, but also of the peoples of the whole of the late Queen’s domain, including the great Empire of Hindustan, and also other far less civilized races to whom, as the “Great White Queen,” she was a figure of surpassing interest and influence. She became in their minds the representative not only of the country to which we are proud to belong, but of all the forms of civilization, culture, religion, and progress which are the accumulated inheritance of our race. Whilst she appeared to them as a far-off mysterious dominating power, the appeal which she made to the hearts and minds of our own people was not so much owing to her queenly rank as to the fact that, as the then Poet Laureate sang, she attached their regard as wife, mother, and queen. If the recognition of her sovereignty most impressed the distant peoples under her benign sway, it was as a faithfully loving wife and as a tender mother that she made her way and retained her place in the hearts and affections of millions. The events which transpired during her reign were of the first importance to us, and to all her people. She was in name the first Empress of India, and she was in fact the first Empress of the Britons, because it was in that portion of the past century during which she lived that an enormous expansion of territory, of population, and of wealth in every pari of the globe occurred, which made of the United Kingdom that world State to which only the somewhat unsuitable term Empire can be appropriately applied. During her lifetime was witnessed a transformation of the most marked character, not only within her own domain, but in the world at large. In the mother country profound political changes, initiated very shortly before she ascended the throne, culminated in a transmutation of the political, and also of the social and mercantile systems of the country. Although, happily, the reign of the late Queen was pre-eminently one of peace and progress, yet, when measured by what are customarily termed national glories, not even that of the good Queen Anne, nor of the great Elizabeth, can vie with the achievements -which were then recorded upon the scroll of history in the name of her people. The spirit of the time in Great Britain was best embodied in her, so that among all the conspicuous or royal personages of Europe, she, from the very outset of her reign, appeared to be most closely in sympathy with the great pacific movement, the great industrial revolution, and the great social changes which occurred during that period. The story of the nineteenth century, or the greater part of it, was effectively summed up in her, and in her rule, because there is, in the list of her deeds and aims, an entire absence of that seeking after personal aggrandizement which, in so many other countries, has brought the possessors of inherited authority into collision with their representatives or with their people. From the first she was associated with the aspirations which led to a great improvement in the condition of all classes in the mother country. The steps taken may have appeared slow ; they were stumbling, but they were almost the earliest distinctive steps upon that path which the. nations to-day are endeavouring more consciously - if not more conscientiously - to pursue. They sought an escape from the slough of despond, the hardships and miseries of toil, for those upon whom the burdens of life fell most heavily, and to whom opportunities and advantages were denied. As the earliest novels of one of her great Prime Ministers remind us, the social question, as we know it, had its birth during the earliest years of Queen Victoria, and has continued to grow in magnitude, with accelerated rapidity from that day to this. She, therefore, appeals to the modern mind by her acts and associations far more than any other monarch of modern times, and if at the end of her reign we have come to regard them as amongst the most essential questionsto which the time and thought of legislators - indeed, of the whole community - ought to be devoted, we have largely to thank the long period of peace during which she presided over the councils of the nation. In another respect, too, even in an age which has seen many eminent rulers, she has become distinguished by reason of her early adoption and consistent adherence to constitutional principles. At no time during her supremacy did she attempt to traverse the precedents upon which the liberties of- the mother country are based, and which have become our own. On the contrary, she moved with that great stream without resistance, with tact, and with wisdom. What personal preferences she may have had in politics are still matters of speculation. “ .Her court was pure, her life serene,” and although during her reign reform followed reform so quickly that their cumulative results would constitute a greater revolution than the world has ever seen in any equal space of time, she, during the whole of these periods of change - during the whole of these processes of transition - was never out of harmony with them - was never in any respect an obstacle to the advances made by the people. We have cause to rejoice that she was not only true to the traditions of her House, but expanded them-, and have also to recognise that, largely owing to her influence and example, the present King, her son, has never manifested himself more filially than during recent 3’ears, when he has won proud and universal recognition as the peace-maker of Europe. In these and many other particulars the late Queen must appeal to our broadest sympathies. Her long life - happily prolonged - allowed her to witness several celebrations in honor of the duration of her reign. They were jubilees which were in every sense national, and from which there were no exclusions. The particular circumstance to be recollected in this connexion is that in the public rejoicings at the maintenance of her rule, and the extension of her life, a great many public movements were undertaken in all parts of the Empire, and particularly amongst the self-governing peoples. These spontaneous demonstrations in her honour were most appropriately devoted to philanthropic ends. Queen’s funds, and other funds without number, were started during her lifetime, in her name, and encouraged by her example, in which, as the most fitting tribute which could be paid to her character and services to the country, the generous and the charitable vied with each other in dedicating sums not to herself or to her family, but to charitable objects and philanthropic purposes. There is no part of the Empire, no country, no town of considerable size in which the late Queen’s jubilees have not thieir memorials in the shape of special efforts put forward for the relief of suffering humanity.
– Would not that be the best form for the proposed memorial to take?
– I am leading up to that very question by pointing out that this is the form which it has taken, and that this was the form most acceptable to the late Queen, who during her lifetime^ so far as her personal wishes on the subject were known, never desired any recognition except of that kind. There has always been another chord of feeling which has been touched at those times, owing to the fact that it was a Queen and not a King, a woman and not a man, whose reign was characterized by those pacific development’s which appear most in consonance with the disposition of her sex. That womanly quality was never lost at any time of her career. She is known to her people intimately, as wife4 as mother, and as widow, and thus most deeply impressed herself upon their minds. While ti Sovereign she parted with none of the qualities of her sex, she was never a masculine, but in every sentiment a true, Queen. Her family anxieties and affections, and the depth of her personal bereavements were the best testimony to the fact that, however elevated she was by her position and by her power, there was nothing else that separated her from the life of trial, and often of sorrow, which she shared with her sisters all the world over. The greatest duties were discharged by . her without derogating from her womanly endowments. For many years, indeed, she obviously shrank from public gaze, and from public appearances, showing that, by her natural disposition in any sphere to which she might have been called, she would have been the woman she remained, even under the extraordinary circumstances surrounding her. We have always to remember, as was so often noticed during her lifetime, that she was associated, most appropriately, with the great advances in the condition of her own sex. Amongst all the transformations she witnessed probably none was greater than the difference in the status and the opportunities of women at the close of her reign and at the time when she ascended the Throne. In this respect it has always been felt that, in honouring her, we honoured her sex, because she became typical of the womanhood of her own country, and, to a certain degree, of the womanhood of all countries. It therefore seems most fitting that there should be some memorial which shall be* a lasting testimony to the loyal feelings . which she evoked, to the admiration, and, I may say, to the reverence with which she came to be regarded. If there is to be a lasting memorial - one which shall be distinguished from those recognitions already alluded to by its being an outward and visible sign of these sentiments - we find nothing in her life antagonistic.
No statue of a conqueror ; no memorial associated with blood or suffering; nothing which would arouse in the mind feelings of regret or shame could be appropriate. On the contrary, what is proposed, so far as we know, is that in London, as the seat of the Empire, there shall be on a design not yet entirely determined but as part of a scheme for beautifying the city - a spacious avenue which, as I have seen it delineated, whether with or without authority I cannot say, in one of the English newspapers, will stretch from Westminster across St. James’ Park, and terminate bv Buckingham Palace. It will lead up, I understand, to a circle, within which, dominated by a statue of Her late Majesty, will be other groups symbolic of all the dominions of the .Empire. The design is on a great scale, and will involve a heavy cost. I have seen the outlay estimated at a sum approaching £1,000,000, As ‘honorable members are aware, the improvements which have been taking place in London in recent years have altered great portions of that old city almost beyond recognition, and this memorial is intended to be the crowning part of one of these great schemes of improvement and beautification. The idea is that the contribution of the mother country - as far as I am aware it has not been voted yet - will be about nine-tenths of the total sum.. The remaining portions of the Empire which have acted already are Canada, which has’ voted £30,000, Cape Colony, which has voted £20,000, New Zealand, which has voted £15,000, Natal, which has voted £10,000, and Newfoundland, which has voted £2,000. Measuring them roughly by order of population, it has been estimated that on this scale a grant of £25,000 on the part of Australia will represent its fair contribution to the fund. That means that the outer Empire, so to speak, is expected to contribute about £100,000 of the £1,000,000, almost the whole of which will be devoted to the provision of a statue of the Queen, surrounded by statues or other emblems representative of all parts of the Empire over which she ruled. It was interjected a few moments ago that the proposed memorial might follow the precedents already set whenever honour was done to the late Queen ; that is to say, that this money might be devoted to charitable or philanthropic purposes. That is always a proposition hard to dispute, because at no time that we are likely to see shall we find the flow of generosity, however unstinted or magnificent it may be, sufficient to enable us to say that we are coping, even for a time, with the miseries that afflict a great portion of humanity. But, on the other hand, - if that argument be pushed to its fullest extent, it would imply that in the presence of the great mass of pain and want by which civilization is confronted, we should abandon the pursuit of the beautiful or the endeavour to gratify the eye while appealing through the eye to the memory and to the heart - that we should make a sweep of the great memorials which are amongst the proudest possessions of nations. London itself, in its unkempt and straggling extent, contains ancient buildings, for the loss of which no sum could possibly recoup the nation. In that great city, it is true, there are hunger and suffering which would be well relieved.
– And death from hunger, too.
– Unhappily of every other great city of the world the same may be said.
– Not so much.
– That would not’ be helped to any appreciable extent, if it were helped at all, by our portion of the sum. If it were possible to imagine the great cathedrals, which take us back through, many centuries, sold to millionaires from distant countries, and .transported thither, the nation would feel that its loss was greater than could be compensated for by anything which the best disposition of that money could offer. The memorials upon which attention is sufficiently concentrated to render them potent influences upon the minds of those who behold them, and enable them by elevating the mind- and inspiring the spirit to inbreathe a patriotic devotion to the great causes of national or human advancement are but few. They can be readily numbered. The proposal is to add another in honour of a woman who, as a reigning Queen, during a period of unparalleled advancement, was associated and closely in sympathy with that social development which awakes the great war cries and watchwords of the modern world. Although it is impossible to express the value of art or religion, of lofty thought or deep emotion, of our sacred family or national ties to a pound, shilling, and pence standard, the concordant testimony of mankind is that among its most precious possessions are those works of art that recall great epochs, thus preserving to after generations an expression of the spirit and record of the achievements of generations that have passed away. Whatever is done in such a form has to appeal with dignity to the sense of beauty, and also to the sense of right; it must appeal to associations connected with patriotic or pious deeds, and thus with the development of humanity.
– If such a memorial is to be erected in London, it will be seen by only a few of the people of Australia.
– Not i per cent, of the people of Australia will see it.
– That is true; but until we are so developed that the world becomes a parish, and we are able to be quickly transported from part to part, there will remain an inexhaustible wealth of loveliness and interest which must be sealed to all of us. If we could spend all our time in travelling to behold these sights we should lose the zest and the capacity to enjoy them. We have to be content with what is near. For my own part, while it has been a great privilege to me to be able to see some of the most magnificent memorials of the historic past, the fact that I have seen them makes me none the less content to live and to die in Australia. What is more - because of the privileges which we enjoy, springing as we do from that stock, whose late Sovereign it is thus proposed to honour - we should all be content to be here, and to contribute heartily to a memorial elsewhere that we may never see. There are national memorials here which the people of great Britain will never behold. The first and the greatest of these is this splendid continent itself. The next, if the people of Great Britain are not too proud to study them - speaking, I hope, without undue exaggeration - are the self-governing experiments that we are conducting. Although few of the people of the old world visit Australia, and thus come in contact with the experience which, we have gained, or enjoy the sunshine which is our usual possession, to say nothing of the other advantages, opportunities, and resources of this great country, we should recollect that all these come directly or indirectly, to us as endowments from the mother country. They are ours to-day. only because in common with the rest of the Empire we stand shoulder to shoulder in mutual defence against aggres- sion. What protects us at the present time in our immature youthful conditions are its flag and its fleet. It is true that these can te transferred to many parts of the globe; but all the British Fleet is not retained, and is rarely seen, even in British waters. It traverses all the seas, and we share in its shelter. To object to this proposal on the ground that the very striking and impressive memorial that it is proposed to raise will be so far from us that few of the people of Australia will ever look at it, is to take too narrow a view. Millions of our countrymen will see it. It will undoubtedly convey great lessons. The other dominions and dependencies will be associated in this undertaking. Even if we refused to take part in it, ,a memorial would be erected at their expense, and would be representative of them. I undertake to say that those Australians who visit London would take a pride in seeing Australia represented in the memorial.
– It might cause persons to speak better of Australia than they do.
– Let us hope that it would do so. There is certainly room for improvement. Our visiting citizens would take a pride in the memorial as being something of their very own - something standing in London to indicate the unity and fellow-feeling of our people, and to represent Australia where Australia needs to be represented. After all, among the vaunts we are accustomed to hear in reference to our country, none is more frequent than that, taking Australia as a whole, it is a rich country, of vast resources. The contribution we are asked to make is by no means a large proportion’ when measured even with the revenues of the smallest of our States. We must take into account the fact that the movements in the States to erect memorials in honour of the late Queen were arrested by the recollection that we had just become a Commonwealth, and that the proper representation of Australia in London was not by six divided States, but by the federation of the whole of its people. That was the reason many of these movements were not persisted in.
– Does the Prime Minister really believe that?
– I am not speaking from memory. I have looked through the records, and find that this was the reason given by the Premiers of. some of the States, and also by different public bodies.
I know also that private movements set in motion were checked by the suggestion that a complete memorial was to be erected.
– What was done in Victoria ?
– The movement was checked.
– They are not attempting to do anything, even at the present time.
– The honorable member is referring to a proposal to add .another memorial to those that we have already in Victoria. I am happy to say that we have in Ballarat a number of statues erected for our own purposes. At the time that the movement to which the honorable member refers was started, there was a proposal to erect a national memorial in London, and this led the people of Victoria to believe that Australia’s part in it should be taken, not by the individual States, but by the Commonwealth.
– Has the Prime Minister any idea of what amount was collected in Victoria ?
– Not the least. The proposed vote of £25,000, when compared with the population of Australia, becomes insignificant. I ‘do not” wish, however, to deal with the matter from that stand-point, nor should I submit this proposal if it were not an adequate recognition, and, in the circumstances, the measure of support that we should be expected to render, having regard to what is being done’ by other parts of the Empire. Canada, New Zealand, and Natal have not hesitated to subscribe to this scheme, and when it is completed Australians who visit London, or who view representations of it here, Would not feel proud if the place which ought to be occupied by something expressive of Australia were left vacant. I doubt if “the people of Australia would consent to be content for any time with such a blank. The great memorials of the mother country mark events in her history. Their influence upon those who are receptive of such impressions cannot be assessed too highly, for it has endured from generation to generation, and from period to period, making them connecting links in national history. Amongst these memorials, not even the Abbey or the Tower will be likely to concentrate the attention, of the English people, of the foreigners who visit England, and of those children of the great dependencies who visit the mother country more than this one associated with the life and personality of Queen Victoria. In itself it will be an object lesson where an object lesson is needed; for although London is one of the greatest of cities, a very large proportion of its inhabitants have very little idea of the greatness of the Empire. There at the very centre of its life, receiving through manifold arteries the blood that flows from all portions of that great organism which we name the British Empire, they are little conscious of how much of their welfare and of the power they possess is due to that which they receive from us; just as we, remote from the great populations of the old world, and having but scanty visible connexion even with the mother country, are often apt to undervalue the protection which is afforded by the power and prowess of the motherland. Among the elements - and the not inconsiderable elements, emotional or typical - which make, or ought to make, for a better understanding and for closer sympathies between us, must be reckoned memorials such as these, or I would rather say such as this, for it will be unique, and probably it may long remain unique, among the memorials, of? which nations are proud. I do not know that one could add, or need attempt to add, more to the observations which I have thought it only due to make in support of this motion. The subject, of course, is inexhaustible, and I do not pretend to have touched upon more than a few points which at once arise upon any consideration of its significance. I am happy to leave them all in the hands of others “better fitted to treat them. It is impossible to do any justice to this proposal, unless it be observed in its proper relation. It is not to be either the act or the influence of a moment. It is to remain, humanly speaking, in perpetuity. It is to continue long after we have passed away. It will remain, let us hope, as a reminder to the far future that in this age the pulse of unity beat strongly within us; that feelings of admiration for a great Queen were cherished throughout all parts of her dominions ; that we realized our indebtedness to the country from which we sprang. From these motives and others combined, there comes this united action on the part of all portions of the Empire, to place some memorial in the greatest city of the Empire, and the greatest city in the world, which should be in its beauty, in its grace, and in its appropriateness a memento of a great and good woman, filling the loftiest station, with all the temptations surrounding it, so purely as to leave her endeared to all portions of her people. As I have said, unless it be regarded from the stand-point of the future - looking backwards, so to speak, and viewing it as others hereafter will see it and be influenced by it, we shall fail to gather its meaning or its value. It is not merely for the present or for ourselves. It should accomplish purposes greater than we can foretell. We hope to see it remain while our great race retains its ancient vigour and independence, and its capacity to cope with the changing circumstances of a changing world, something more than a work of art. It will be built at a relatively great cost, if taken in its total, and reckoned at the moment when it comes into being ; but if it fulfils our expectations, if it does indeed worthily embody and make visible the idea of a progressive and peaceful unity of peoples in this Empire, it will not have been reared in vain. It will be recognised as marking a beginning of social progress and of modern advance upon which generation after generation shall look, moved and touched to a sense of wider vision and higher relations with their race and its proud story. Of course, it is possible to expound indefinitely the influences by which” we ought to be affected by a work aptly designed to this end. There may be other modes of remembrance which could rightly be preferred. But they would not detract from this. Let it stand by itself as a proper recognition on the part of a young and growing nation, with immense possibilities before it, to remind its people, moved not by coercion, but by ties of blood and deeper sympathies, by common aims and by common considerations, that they are treading a path of development which shall make the days to come better than those that are and have been - to remind them that there were some achievements in . out period deserving a rich and permanent memorial, and that among them was the era of a great Queen, and the great Queen herself - a. good woman, whose name will be always a precious possession of our race.
– I regret, with the leader of the House, that some notice that this question - great and important in all its bearings - was to be brought before us was not given. I do not, for that reason, raise any objection, or propose that there should be any delay in dealing with this matter. I recognise that possibly there has been already too much delay - that other parts of the Empire have acted whilst we have waited. One of the greatest recommendations of anyrecognition of merit, whether it be the merit of a monarch or merely a subject, is, and must be, its spontaneity. I am sure that the eloquent words of the Prime Minister, in speaking of one who was in many ways the greatest of English monarch’s, will find acceptance on both sides of this House. If there is any difference of opinion, it will be, not as to the desirability of any contribution being made by the Commonwealth, but as to the character of the memorial which shall be erected with the proceeds of contributions from all parts of the Empire. There may be legitimate differences of opinion on this score, but I am sure that the House as a whole is at one with the proposal submitted by the Prime Minister. We must remember the history of the reign of Queen Victoria. In England there has been reform on reform. The franchise has been enlarged, if not year by year, at any rate, decade by decade. The self-governing powers of the people, not only of Great Britain, but of the Empire, have extended, generation by generation, placing the control, not in the hands of any small proportion of the community, but, bit by bit, in the hands of the whole of the people. We have also to remember the social improvements that took place during the reign of Her late Majesty, even though these improvements were not, perhaps, so many or so widely extended as we could wish. We have to remember the great upraising of the people which has occurred while Victoria occupied the throne of Great Britain, and we must never lose sight of the fact that in the monarch there was not an opposing but always an aiding disposition. We ought gladly to render some assistance in the erection of a memorial to a monarch in whose reign such advances were made. To come nearer home, we must not forget how Australia progressed during the reign of Queen. Victoria. When the late Queen mounted the throne, Australia was practically a convict settlement, but as years went on, this country obtained the title deeds of the liberties we now enjoy. Last of all, we in Australia were granted constitutional government - the right to control this vast continent. The Prime Minister has already told us that one of the latest acts in Her late Majesty’s long life.was to sign the charterwhich formed the detached Colonies of Australia into a Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, it is more fitting on our part than, perhaps, on the part of any other division of the Empire, to contribute to a memorial which will to future generations convey some idea of the great progress which was made during the long reign of Her late Majesty. We must always remember, too, that, as a woman, the late Queen set a splendid example to the people of Great Britain, and to the people throughout the British dominions. Her Majesty, by her virtues, raised the tone of English sociallife, and removed the cloud which had in some previous reigns rested on the Court of Great Britain. It has been suggested that the memorial should take the form of a charity, and, personally, I have some leanings in favour of such a pro posal. But we must not forget that our contribution will form only a small part of the sum that will be required; and, therefore, we cannot do more than express our individual opinions. I take it that the representatives of the various contributors will decide as to what form the memorial is to take, and I am perfectly willing to allow the matter to be settled in that way.
– Is it not a fact that the Processional Row has been started?
– I understand that that matter has not yet been finally decided.
– Then there is all the more reason why we should express an opinion.
– The Prime Minister might have given us a little more information if it is in his possession.
– The matter is not finally decided, but the general plan is that referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corio. The actual design has not been agreed upon.
– These matters must be left to those who will control the expenditure of the contributions, and I have no doubt that there will be some consideration of the views held by the representative of Australia.
– It is settled that each contributor is to be separately recognised in the expenditure of the contributions.
– That is, in the expenditure on one memorial?
– On the general plan.
– That does not meet the objection of those who desire to see some charitable institution erected as a memorial. As I have already intimated, I have a strong leaning in favour of a proposal of that nature. There is no doubt that the memorial, whatever form it may take, is intended to last for centuries; and, under all the circumstances, we ought not to insist on the contribution being expended in any special direction.
– May we not make suggestions ?
– Of course we may, butI think that ought tobe done through the representative of theCommonwealth, who, doubtless, will have a voice on the committee which arranges all the details. While the suggestions made in the Commonwealth Parliament may, in the way I have indicated, be conveyed to those controlling the expenditure, I think it is hardly desirable for us to pass any resolution, even conveying a suggestion. In my opinion, the desires of the Commonwealth may be better expressed than by any definite resolution. Any attempt on the part of different contributors to insist, by the passing of definite resolutions, on effect being given to different views must prevent the establishmentof any memorial. I hope that no attempt will be made to carry a hard and fast resolution on the subject, If a similar course were followed, by all the contributors, no conclusion could be arrived at. As the Prime Minister has said, it would certainly be very lamentable if the Empire did not In this matter speak with one’ voice. We should all be contributors, and in that way indicate the oneness of the Empire. I trust that Parliament will adopt the motion, and that a memorial will be erected which will suitably recognise and carry down to generations to come a knowledge of the greatness of the reign of Queen Victoria. We may search English history from beginning to end, and I do not think that as regards true progress and true greatness we shall find any reign which so deserves to be honoured. I am certainthat if we review the long line of English monarchs we shall find none who so much deserved to be honoured or to have the veneration of the people of her time embodied in a memorial which would cause her name and her reign to be remembered by the people of the future.
– I share the regret which has been expressed that this matter should have comeon rather unexpectedly, because personally I should like to have had an opportunity to look up available information on the subject. I must express some surprise that the Minister who was responsible for the recommendation arrived at in London in this connexion should not have brought the matter before this Parliament at an earlier period. The first Federal Government, of which the present Prime Minister was a member, was in office when the Conference was held in London at which this matter was considered. It was surely due to those who were also parties to the understanding there arrived at that the matter shouldbe considered at as early date as possible. I believe that a very great deal of the force and effect of whatever maybe done later will be lost as a result of the delay that has taken place. I wish to say for myself that I have no possible sympathy with the kind of memorial which it is proposed to erect, having regard to the vast sum which it is proposed to expend on it, no matter whether it be in relation to a great statesman or to the greatest monarch the British people have ever had. I give way to no one in my intense regard and admiration for the career of the late Queen Victoria. I think that her best memorial will be the record of her work as a monarch, and of her influence as a woman. I do not think that anything more than the knowledge of the fact that she endeared herself to the hearts of her people in both capacities is required to perpetuate her memory for practically as long as the Empire will last. But I would be prepared, having some regard to, the aspects which the Prime Minister has so eloquently put before us, as to the desirability of having some visible form by which to appeal to the higher sentiments and feelings of the people, to gladly assist by my vote in the passing of a motion to contribute to some memorial which, while combining all that is necessary in the way of architectural beauty would at the same time embody a function of usefulness for the community. The Prime Minister has said that the whole scheme, involving, in addition to the memorial, the creation of an avenue where none now exists-
– Across a park.
– Will entail an expenditure of £1,000,000. I believe that the actual memorial, if my memory serves me right, and I looked at the papers some months ago, will cost about £5oo,ooo. That is to say, it is proposed that there shall be expended on inanimate stone and mortar a sum of nearly £500,000. I do say that that appears to me to be almost a sinful waste of money. I can quite understand the desirability of encouraging art, and of appealing to the artistic sensibilities of the people. I can, sympathize with that object, but I say that we have no right. to vote such a large sum of money for such a comparatively small result in that direction. If we desire to have some memorial of the late Queen, other than that which is established by the record of her life, it should certainly take the form of some scheme for the relief of the suffering and distress which exists here, and at the heart of the Empire. I am not anxious that it should be confined to any local memorial in the building of an hospital or an asylum for the poor in our midst. I should be content if such an institution were established in London, at the centre of the Empire, as an evidence of the gratitude of the people of the Empire towards a Queen who acted well and nobly during the whole of her life. But surely no one will say that the sum total of poverty and misery is exhausted in London ? Surely no one can say that something cannot be done to relieve the sufferings of the people with the assistance of £1,000,000 contributed mainly, no doubt, by the people of Great Britain, but to some extent, also by the component parts of the Empire. If this be admitted, a memorial to her late Majesty would assume a much nobler form if it were to be a hospital or some institution of that character, rather than the form which it is now proposed the memorial shall take. The honorable member for North Sydney said it would be impossible to have any memorial if we insisted that it should take only the form which we approve.
– If each contributor insisted on that.
– Just so; if each contributor insisted that it should take the form which he favoured. I quite agree that if we are to get anything tangible, it will not do for each contributor to insist on the carrying out of his own particular design. But I am glad to have heard the honorable member express his personal preference for a memorial taking some form other than that which has been suggested. While, perhaps, it would not be wise to insist that the memorial should take a certain form, I do think it would be a proper thing for this
House to express an opinion. I trust that some honorable member will give us an opportunity to indicate our desire in that direction.
– While indorsing nearly every word that fell from the lips of the Prime Minister, I think that if the spirit of the good lady of whom he spoke could have hovered round the councils which have advised the erection of the proposed memorial, it would have suggested that it should be of such a character as would lead to the continual ‘ giving of assistance, and the constant doing of good to those who are in need. I have a knowledge of London, and of the mighty mass of its poverty, such as few honorable members have had an opportunity to acquire, and my observations are supported by the statement of Mulhall, that more people die of absolute starvation, as the term is employed in connexion with coroner’s inquests, in. the. city of London than in all the capitals of Europe. To quote the words of one who was a Napoleon of gold medal winners in the London University, he having obtained three gold medals more than any other man, a distinction till then unequalled - I speak of Mr. A. G. Pepper - “for a person to be held to have died from starvation there must be a total absence of fat in the body, and no food in the stomach or intestines.” If a person were so far gone that he could not recover, but had before death eaten even the stalk of a cabbage, he would be said to have died, not of starvation, but of want and privation. In view of these terrible facts, it being estimated that upwards of 220 persons die from starvation in London every year, I think that in this twentieth century, in which the feelings of humanity should have most sway, the money proposed to be expended on this memorial should be put to better uses. It might be spent in endowing a hospital, or establishing a lodging house, such as there is in Paris, where every one has the right to three nights’ lodging,’ three breakfasts, and three dinners, while an endeavour is also made to find work for the applicants for admission. In London there is no such benevolent institution. In Paris, again, a woman, or a woman and her child, may find lodgings for a period of six weeks - and some have stayed for three months - until work and occupation have been found for them. I had six and a half years’ experience of London life, and, ^knowing the poverty which exists within a stone’s throw of the wall surrounding the palace in which the good lady to whom it is proposed to erect this memorial lived, I think that I do not misrepresent her when I say that if she could imbue our counsels with her spirit she would say, “ Let my memorial be something which will help the men, women, and children of the Empire, and not a mere mass of masonry, to the glorification of the city of London, and of those who subscribe to its erection.” I know that the promise to subscribe to this memorial was made by a previous Government, Sir Edmund Barton having pledged the Commonwealth to the proposed contribution. That prevents me from strongly criticising the proposal of the Prime Minister. But we are here as custodians of the public purse, and the money which we vote away is not our own money. .Therefore it is my intention to move an amendment which will relegate this question to the decision of the people, and, so that expense may be saved, I shall propose that that decision be expressed at the time of a general election. It may be that the people will then determine to increase the proposed contribution ; but. in any case, they surely should have a voice in this matter. We know that if the surgeons of the day had not failed a woman in her hour of greatest need, Queen Victoria would never have come to the throne of England - a fact established in Playford and other classic works ; but I do not for a moment think that the progress of the British face would have ceased had that good lady not ascended the throne. England would have advanced if Queen Victoria had never existed. But no one can doubt for a moment that the general peace- fulness of her reign was due to the fact that her counsel was always for peace.
– What about the Boer war ?
– I think that in that matter the poor! lady was ill-advised, but it is said that her deep regret for that miserable capitalistic war weighed heavily on her declining days.
– She was opposed to the war.
– Yes ; and I believe that its stupendous and colossal calamity hastened her death. This proposal to erect a memorial reminds me of a. speech made by Lord Rosebery in reference to the statues in the classic capital of Scotland. In Edinburgh they have statues at almost every’ street corner, and ‘ Lord Rosebery is reported to have said that he wished they could walk so that they could get off their pedestals, and jump into the Forth. Knowing how atrocious some of them are’ as works of art, I do not blame him for having said it. As one who has been privileged to live in London, I cannot agree with the Prime Minister that the services rendered by the great citizens of our nation have been accorded due recognition at the hands of the public. If one visits Trafalgar Square, he will see a large monument to a man who helped to kill off his fellow men, and nearly every monument in Westminster Abbey is erected to the memory of soldiers or sailors who have been engaged in the work of slaughtering their fellow-creatures. Another notable monument, that of Ajax defying the lightning, in Hyde Park, has been erected to the Duke of Wellington. The only monuments in London erected to the , memory of a man of peace are the Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial, and there is no agreement of opinion as to the artistic merit of the latter. The three great men who will lend lustre and glory to the ‘English race, when even Kings and Queens are ‘ forgotten - Shakspeare, Chaucer, and Milton - have no monuments, with the exception of a paltry two-penny half-penny fountain in Park-lane.
– That is because they are immortal.
– The good acts of the late Queen should be immortal, and the truest memorial to her should be found in the hearts of the people. I do not object to a memorial being erected, but I desire that it should take, such a form that it will be a source of blessing to future generations, and will cause people to thank God for the fact that such a good Queen as Victoria occupied the British throne. Some reference was made by the Prime Minister to the possibility of public memorials being sold to millionaires. He knows as well as any honorable member that the people have been robbed -far more effectively than by the sale of public memorials. Take, for instance, the’ case of the Skye crofters, who were ruthlessly removed from the estates upon which they had lived for centuries. George . Higinbotham was the greatest man we ever had in Victoria, and yet no public monument has been erected to him. The regard in which the memory of George Higinbotham is held in the hearts of the people could not be expressed by the erection of any public monument. I move -
That paragraph 3 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “3. That the foregoing resolutions shall have no effect until a referendum of the citizens of the Commonwealth shall have been taken at the next general election, so as to save expense.”
In this manner I shall give effect to the wishes of my constituents. I recently addressed a large public meeting, and obtained from it an expression of opinion entirely against the proposal for the erection of a memorial to Queen Victoria. In addition to that, my committee have by formal resolution - a copy of which has been forwarded to the Prime Minister - requested me to record my vote against the motion, and I shall follow that course, unless a recommendation be added that the memorial shall assume some form such as I have indicated, namely, that of a hospital for the benefit of mankind, or a shelter for homeless women and children in the streets of London.
– I have an amendment which I desire to move before the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne is considered.
– I shall accept the intimation of the honorable member for Melbourne as an indication of his intention to move an amendment, and that will leave the honorable member free to take the course he desires.
– I should like to know if the Prime Minister will consent to the. adjournment of the debate?
– Although I have on two or three occasions intimated my intention to bring forward the motion, I do not wish to take honorable members by surprise, and 1 shall therefore consent to the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McDonald) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 7th September, vide page 2029) :
Division 1(Senate), £6,987 ; division 2 (House of Representatives), £8,862 ; agreed to.
Division 3(Parliamentary Reporting Staff), £7,016
– I should like to point out that the practice has been to deal with these Estimates in subdivisions.
– These divisions are not large.
– Whether they are large or not, it is just as well that we should follow the usual practice.
– Certainly, if the honorable member so desires.
– I desire to direct attention to the item “ Sessional typists at £410s.perweek,£1,100’’ AlthoughI have heard no direct complaints regarding the treatment that is meted out to the men who are engaged in typing for the Hansard staff,I am given to understand from persons outside that they are unfairly treated, in that they are employed only for the session. To my mind, it would be much better - even if they were paid at a lower rate - to employ them permanently, in the same way as are the Hansard reporters. I do not know the exact nature of the provision that is made for typists by the various States Parliaments, but I think that the Government might well consider whether the gentlemen who are engaged in typing for the Hansard staff should not be given some security of tenure. Under the existing arrangement, their engagement is a sessional one, and they are, at its termination, turned adrift. We can easily understand that men in that position experience very great difficulty in obtaining employment with a private firm. Consequently, I ask the Minister in whose Department the matter is, to consider whether these typists cannot be providedwith employment throughout the entire year, even if as a result they are obliged to accept a smaller weekly salary. I am given to understand that by utilizing their services in connexion with Royal Commissions during the recess it might be possible to give them continuous employment, without increasing the present cost of typewriting.
– We all regret that it is absolutely impossible for these typists to secure any kind of work, during the recess, unless they are prepared to accept sweating rates, which would be detrimental to those who follow typewriting for a living. I am sure that no honorable member desires to put these gentlemen, who discharge their duties so efficiently, in an unfair position, or in such a position that they will be obliged to undertake work at rates which will bring down upon them the odium and indignation of others engaged in the same calling. I saw a good deal of that sort of thing last year. Then, again, when they are compelled to look for work during the recess, they are met with the objection, “ Oh, but you are employed by the Commonwealth Parliament.” As a matter of fact they are virtually out of employment during six months in the year. I hope that the Prime Minister will accede to the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra, and see if something cannot be done for them.
– I will call for a report upon the matter referred to by the honorable member for Yarra, but of course he must realize how different is the position of the Hansard shorthand writers from that of the typists. The Hansard reporters are not merely shorthand writers. They form quite a distinct species. Only one out of three or four of the best shorthand writers available possess the peculiar qualifications necessary to a Hansard reporter. Of course, in retaining them from, yearto year, we are thinking of our own interests quite as much as of theirs, besides which we are able to employ them during the recess in the work of preparing and indexing the proceedings of Parliament and upon Royal Commissions. The case of the typists, I think, has already been considered by the President and Mr. Speaker. Their positions are much better than are those of similar officers in the employ of the States. The practice of employing sessional typists is followed in all the States. In their case, so long as a typist can operate at a certain rate of speed, that is all that is required. The President and Mr. Speaker have had this matter under their attention previously, and if any method can be devised under which they can be dealt with upon a different basis, which shall be fair to them and to the public which pays them, it will be adopted. With reference to the observation of the honorable member for Darwin, as to sweating rates, I merely wish to remark that the rates paid to the sessional typists of the Hansard staff are about the highest paid for this kind of work anywhere.
– I think that we have to look a little further afield in discussing this question. I trust that the typists connected with the Hansard staff will be liberally dealt with by the Government, consistently with the work which they perform. I am glad to hear that they are well remunerated, in comparison with others engaged in the same calling. But we have to be very careful about permanently employing not only typists, but any section of the public service, if there is not sufficient work to warrant that course being adopted. I have heard complaints from linotypers who receive only temporary employment. I take the view that we ought not to ask the Government to permanently employ any person who is well paid for the services which he renders unless there is work to keep him employed. The adoption of that practice would be unfair to the taxpayers.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- Although we have already agreed to the vote for the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, there is one matter concerning Hansard to which I should like to direct attention. I wish to point out that there are several improvements which might well be introduced into our parliamentary publications. For instance I think it would be wise if a marginal note could be inserted, indicating the time at which each member of the Houses rises to speak.
– That record is kept at the table.
– That is purely a private arrangement. It does not concern members of the House generally. The Chairman of Committees simply keeps a record for his private purposes. It would be of great advantage if a marginal note were inserted in Hansard, setting out the time at which each honorable member commences to address the House. Tomy mind that would constitute a distinct improvement. Then I am of opinion that under the present system of printing our Votes and Proceedings there is a good deal of wasted energy, and some unnecessary expense. I think that a better method could be adopted by means of which we could readily see upon any day what motions had been carried upon the previous day. Under the present arrangement, we have to get a separate paper upon certain days, in order to ascertain what has been done in this connexion. A similar remark is applicable to the Division Lists. If the result of each day’s proceedings were incorporated in the Votes and Proceedings issued on the following day, we should be in a position to see at a glance exactly what had been done. At the present time we have to wade through a number of papers, and if we are not very careful we are apt to miss some motions whichhave been carried. A reference to the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland will show the Printing Committee or whosoever may have to deal with this matter how the business is carried on. I am informed that their method is not only much cheaper than ours, but a great deal more convenient to honorable members.
– In the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales the suggestion which the honorable member for Kennedy has made has been carried out, I think almost from the time when Hansard was established. As soon as an honorable member rises to address the House or the Committee, the time is noted by the reporter, and is printed in brackets after his name at the beginning of the report of his speech, and of course the time when he resumed his seat is indicated by the time when the next speaker began his speech. Another matter which might be considered relates to the attendance of honorable members here. As soon as a sitting of the House is begun, or an honorable member puts in an appearance, his presence is noted by the. SerjeantatArms, and that is our only record of attendances. At the end of every session in New South Wales, a list is compiled showing the number of divisions which were taken in the House and in Committees of the whole, and the number of times that each honorable member voted in either case. Our present method of keeping a record is a very good one, and should be continued, but it might be supplemented by the publication of a similar list to that I have mentioned at the end of a session. Under our present arrangement, all an honorable member need do is to enter the Chamber and make his presence known to the Serjeant-at-Arms, by whom he is recorded as being present, and then he may leave, neglecting the work of the House. If a record of his votes were kept, it would serve to indicate whether his presence in the Chamber was continuous. I think it would be wise to adopt the practice in New South Wales in these two respects.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - There is a good deal to be said in favour of the suggestions made. The recording of the time when an honorable member begins his speech will be specially easy, and will involve no extra labour. The re-arrangement of the Votes and Proceedings demands more knowledge and a larger acquaintance with the records in the various States than I possess. I undertake to bring the two matters under the notice of the Speaker and the President, who have the power to make the necessary alterations.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 4(Library), £2,831
– I should like the Prime Minister to explain why the salary of the Clerk in the Library is to be increased from £188 to £210. It is a substantial increase for the officer to get in one year.
– His salary has stood at £188 for some time, and I believe that his servicesare very highly approved of.
– No doubt he is a very good officer.
– I am informed that this is the only increase which the officer has had for quite a number of years.
– I wish to impress upon honorable members the fact that in all the States we are accused of reckless expenditure.
– The honorable member will not find that many State officers are getting less than that salary.
– Every one of theofficers is getting a substantial increase. I notice that the officers who are receiving good fat “screws” are getting them increased.
– In the States.
– No, right through these Estimates, as I shall show when we come to deal with other Departments. So surely as we are in this Chamber, so surely will there come a time when all these salaries will be cut down very nearly by one-half, and that, I believe, will be before very long. We are getting to the end of our tether,and instead of hastening slowly we are rushing on at breakneck speed. Byandby these officers will be marked out for decreases instead of going along steadily as they ought to do. I have no objection to the items in the proposed vote. I merely wish to warn the Committee as to what is bound to happen here soonerorlater, just as it has happened in the States.
– I do not rise to object to the proposed vote, but to raise a protest against no sum having been placed upon the Estimates for the members of the House. I desire to ask the Prime Minister what he proposes to do with regard to increasing the starvation wages of honorable members?
– We are going to do the thing which is right.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman intend ‘to reduce our wages or to raise them?
– I am studying the question !
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I notice an item of £200 for “ fitting up rooms in basement.” For what purpose are the rooms to be fitted up?
– The money is required for the preparation of rooms in the basement which are necessary for the meetings of Select Committees and other meetings in connexion with the business of the House.
– Are all Select Committees to be consigned to the lower regions ?
– Yes, and very good work emerges from there.
– I have no objection to offer to the item, but I think that the Government ought to consider the fact that there is practically no accommodation available for (honorable members when constituents call to interview them. There is no private room in which an honorable member can converse with a stranger. Some of the best and mast convenient rooms are still reserved for the use of the members of the State Parliament, and I think that the time has come when the Prime Minister might ask the State Government to say whether we or they ,are to have the full use of this building.
– Surely we are not going to remain here for ever?
– While we are here we ought to enjoy the full facilities which are provided in the building.
– Only one room on each side of the building is reserved for the use of State members.
– The use of that one room would be very convenient to the members of this Parliament.
– But these rooms are reserved for the use of State members under the terms of an agreement.
– It is not an irrevocable agreement. It is one which, I presume, negotiation and a little persuasion might lead the. State Government to alter. The time has arrived when the effect of a little persuasion might well be tried. I think that nearly every honorable member will agree with me that much inconvenience is at present experienced. There is no room in which an honorable member may have a private conversation with . a visitor from one of the other States, and in the circumstances he must take him to the Queen’s Hall. A very cheerful room on the Senate side is reserved for members of the Legislative Council, but I have never -seen any one enter it; while on this side of the House a large room in the basement, reserved for members of the Legislative Assembly, is used very rarely. The .Treasurer of Victoria announces to-day that he has a surplus of over £500,000, and that being so, he might be induced to provide rooms elsewhere for members of the State Parliament if additional accommodation be really required. According to the information that I have received, ample accommodation is provided in the Exhibition Building, and the rooms set apart for State members in this building are a mere surplus luxury.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).Still greater difficulty is experienced in securing accommodation for Select Committees and Royal Commissions. At the present time the Navigation Commission is meeting in the room set apart for the Government Whip, which is small and exceedingly inconvenient, but there appears to ‘be no other available. I understand that there are suitable rooms on the Senate side, but it would be necessary to enter into negotiations for their use. The business of Select Committees and Commissions would be facilitated by reasonable provision being made for their requirements.
– I wish to emphasize the complaint as to the insufficiency of accommodation provided for honorable members. I do not know of any other House of Parliament in the Commonwealth where the accommodation, especially for visitors, is so meagre, and I think something should be done to secure an improvement in this direction. I wish to draw the .. attention of the Prime Minister to the proposal to increase the salary of the clerk to the Library by £22 per annum.
– After many years he is to receive that increase.
– I notice that £60 is provided for an office-cleaner, and that last year only £58 was expended. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister considers that the office-cleaner is doing hard work, and whether he has been , working for many years without receiving an increase. I do not wish him to be paid more than he is worth, but my experience is that those whowork the hardest, not only in the Commonwealth service, but in all branches of labour, receive the poorest wages. If we are going to be generous to those who have congenial work to perform, we should also be generous to those who have to discharge more disagreeable duties.
Mr.FULLER (Illawarra).- The honorable member for Coolgardie has voiced the feelings of representatives of all the States in regard to the lack of accommodation. When members of the State Legislature of New South Wales and others have called on me, I have had to take, them into the Queen’s Hall, as there is not a room in which one may have a private conversation with a stranger. The only place set apart for strangers is the north lobby, which is really a passage, and is used by members of all parties. There is also a telephone there, and it is certainly an inconvenient place to carry on a private conversation with a friend. The whole building consists of halls and corridors, but there must be some parts in which suitable provision could be made in the direction I have indicated. I trust that something will be done to provide reasonable accommodation.
– I think the Committee is entitled to an explanation as to the reason why only £58 was paid to the office-cleaner to the Library, although there was an appropriation of £60. It would also be interesting to know whether we are to have a repetition of this practice. Fifty-eight pounds per annum is a small sum to pay a cleaner.
– It is the payment made to the charwoman.
– The cleaner in the Queen’s Hall receives £110 per annum, although I should imagine that his work is not so laborious as is that of the cleaner of the Library. I wish to indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Coolgardie as to the lack of accommodation in this House. The building consists for the most part of corridors, and very little provision seems to have been made in the original design for the comfort and convenience of honorable members. It is now proposed to spend £200 in fitting up rooms in the basement. I should like to know to what purposes those rooms are to be devoted. The Hansard staff are at present housed in the basement, although it seems a very unsuitable place for any of the officers. If it is possible to secure accom- modation in any other part of the build- i ng, it would be wise to do so, rather than to make afurther expenditure in fitting up rooms in that part of the building. I presume that the item, “ Books and bookbind- i ng, including insurance against fire, £1,250,” is to cover expenditure on books for the Commonwealth Library. Last year £1,284 was expended in this way. We have no complete catalogue of the books that have been purchased, and I trust that special attention is being given to the collection of rare works relating to the history of the States, and to the foundation of the Commonwealth. Great difficulty is experienced in securing a number of publications which for purposes of historical reference would be valuable. The same may be the case in connexion with the inauguration of the Commonwealth. All publications of the time should be secured for the Commonwealth library. It seems to me that it would be well. to give special attention to that point. When the question of selecting the Federal Capital was under consideration, not only were publications issued by the Government Printer under authority, but a number of other publications also were issued by Capital Site leagues in the different centres that were considered by this Parliament. A considerable amount of labour, not only historical, but artistic, was put into the documents. It is very difficult, even now, when we are so near the time when they were published, to secure copies of these pamphlets. It appears to me that it would be very wise to obtain copies of them, as well as of all other documents relating to the question, for future historical purposes. I understand that the Minister of Trade and Customs, when he was Premier of New South Wales, commissioned Mr. Keenan, a press man, to prepare a history of the inauguration of the Commonwealth. What has been done in that matter? Has the publication been prepared? Is there a copy in the Library? A considerable amount of work was devoted to it, and I believe the publication is a very interesting one. Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing it, I saw a proof before it was put through the press. What has since been done in reference to it? I hope the Prime Minister will look into these matters, and see that something is done towards forming a true Commonwealth library.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin). - I wish to ask the Prime Minister what is the meaning of the item, allowances to State officers, £63?
– That was last year; we are not voting the amount this year.
-I also wish to allude to what the honorable member for Illawarra and the honorable member for Coolgardie have said as to the accommodation in this House. This seems to me to be more of a Russian Absolutism than a democratic Parliament. Some honorable members, no matter how insignificant their positions may be, have special rooms set apart from them, whilst private members have no place in this building to which they can take a constituent who calls upon them. One can take him into the general room, but then he has to explain to every member present who his friend is.
– That isvery awkward.
– It is; and it is something which I, as an AustralianAmerican, do not desire to do. Why could not the leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Labour Party, and the Government whip occupy one room together? Then there would be two rooms to which members could take their private friends. This plan would create a spirit of harmony and good-fellowship among the gentlemen to whom I have referred. It is a great mistake to isolate them. Why should they be treated like quarantined small-pox patients? Unless accommodation is provided for the use of private members when they are being interviewed by constituents, the Prime Minister will have a wasps’ nest about his ears next session. Perhaps the difficulty might be met by exchanging this building for the State Parliament House. There are plenty of rooms there, and this building would be far more convenient for State members. They would then be near to the Government Offices. We have no business to do with Lands Offices, Mines Offices, and the rest of the State’s Departments. If the Prime Minister could effect an exchange he would satisfy the Victorian State members, and would, at the same time, be able to provide accommodation, which we cannot get in this building. Some of us, and our friends, may be humble, but humble as we are, and poor as we may be, we still have the spirit of the Lord burning in our hearts, and we are not going to have Russianism here. If we cannot effect an alteration in any other way. some of us will have to become leaders of three or four men and a couple of dogs, so as to get rooms for ourselves.
– Without desiring to pose as apolitical Uriah Heap, on the score of humility, I certainly think there is much to be said in favour of the suggestion as to providing accommodation for meeting visitors who may desire to talk over matters with members. At the present time, one has either to talk to a visitor in one- of the corridors, or in the Queen’s Hall. There is no room where one can have a conversation without interruption. Some room of the kind ought to be provided. The matter mentioned by the honorable member for Canobolas is one which the Government should certainly take into consideration. An attempt ought also to be made to preserve all records which are or may be valuable relating to the inauguration of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Canobolas has referred to the work of a Mr. Keenan, and has suggested that it is a very valuable publication.
– Has it been published ?
– Possibly the material may be available, if it has not been published. I think there was some difficulty about the cost of publication, and as to whether it should be borne by the Federal Government.
– It was a State matter.
– There was some difficulty in the way. But if this matter is still available the cost of having it put in a form suitable for publication would, in moderation, be money well spent. I find that documents relating to the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and particularly to the visit of the representatives of Royalty, are getting very scarce ; and some effort ought to me made to obtain and preserve as complete a record as possible.
– I am informed that theitem to which attention has been called by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is the payment made to the charwoman, who works for two or threehours each day. The payment, as measured by the ordinary standards, is extremely liberal, and there is no desire to reduce it. The truth of the statements about the inconvenience of this building in regard to individual members must be admitted.. The complete plan of the building of course, provides suites of apartments which would meet every requirement ; but it is; not likely thatin our time that plan will be carried out. All that has been erected up to now are the two chambers, the great hall, and the public appurtenances. The convenience of private members has been allowed to wait until the last, and that, I think, the honorable member for Darwin will admit is thoroughly democratic.
– I do not think so.
– It is unfortunate that there are no rooms for visitors.
– There will be plenty of room when we get into our own House.
– I hope so. Of course, we are guests in this building ; and it is a beautiful and extensive building, generously placed at our disposal without cost. Under the circumstances, we have to accept the accommodation therein, under pain of being required to find better if we do not like whatwehavegot.
SirFREDERICK HOLDER (Wakefield). - Some referencehas been, made to the desirability of collecting books, papers, and documents generally relating to the early settlement of Australia and the formation of the Commonwealth. I may inform honorable members that the Library Committee have paid special attention to this question. We have now accumulated towards the Commonwealth Public Library - which we hope one day to possess - considerably over 10,000 volumes, a very large proportion of which relate specially to the earlier history of the States which form the union and to the movement towards Federation. We have, in addition, collected books, pamphlets, leaflets, advertisements, views, early photographs, and prints earlier than photography ; in short, everything that could be done by a Library Committee representing both Chambers has been done during the past three or four years. Reference has also been made to the question of an index, and I may say that that matter was dealt with at the last meeting of the Library Committee two or three weeks ago. with the result that an index is now in hand. It is hoped that before Parliament meets again next session this index will be available for honorable members. The rooms referred to in the basement have been fitted up chiefly for the reception of books relatingto Australia. Until recently there was considerable risk of very valuable papers and books, which, perhaps, could not be replaced being lost; but now rooms have beer arranged for their reception, and the books, which have been gathered together at considerable expenditure of time and money, will be preserved for future use. I shall at all times welcome suggestions from honorable members relating to the affairs of the Library. As to the provision of accommodation generally, I should like to say that one of the most difficult tasks I have to perform is the allotment of rooms. We have very few rooms, and there are many purposes to which they might be put. The House Committee do not imagine for one moment that they can find accommodation for Royal Commissions, which have no necessary connexion with Parliament, but which only incidentally, or accidentally, now and again include amongst their members representatives in Parliament. The House Committee hope, however, to provide all the rooms necessary for Select Committees which consist exclusively of members of Parliament. Then there has been raised a question of rooms wherein members generally may meet. I have had this matter in my mind ever since I was appointed Speaker, and I should like to see some large room where members of all parties could meet in common, and so get to know one another better. That room I should like to see open also to members of another branch of the Legislature, so that the members of the Parliament might become more intimately acquainted. Unfortunately, however, no such room is available. As to rooms in which honorable members may receive friends, there is only one way to provide that accommodation, namely., by surrendering one or more of the apartments now devoted to party purposes. Everyroom is at present being made the best use of, and only by such a surrender as I have indicated could the accommodation desired be provided. I should be only too pleased if rooms were available to place them at the disposal of honorable members as soon as possible.
– I am sure we ought to be very grateful to the honorable member for Wakefield for taking part in this debate: I know that Mr. Wadsworth, the Librarian, is doing his best to collect all documents, papers, and books connected with the Federal movement ; and I may say that I have kept some, which will eventually find a home in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. I think that the remarks of Mr. Speaker, coupled with some public announcement or invitation, might resultin a number of valuable prints, engravings and similar articles, being added toour collection. I hope that the press will take notice of the remarks which have been made to-night on this subject.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- There is another matter which might with some advantage receive the attention of the Library Committee. We have Hansard and the splendid index which accompanies it, but, so far as addresses delivered outside this House by Ministers and other prominent public men are concerned, there are no ready means of reference. Some little time ago I had occasion to refer to an address delivered by Sir Edmund Barton when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. I could not remember the date on which it was delivered, and I soon found that I had no light task before me, if I were to wade through the newspaper files for a report of it. I happened to visit the Parliamentary Library in Sydney, and, knowing that an index of such addresses is kept there, I asked the Librarian if he could tell me when the speech in question was delivered. In two or three minutes, by turning up the index, he was able to tell me the date on which the report of the address appeared in the newspapers. An index of the kind might be compiled by our Librarian. It should not involve a great deal of work to compile an index of addresses delivered by leading Federal members or by State members who have discussed Federal matters, and there can be no doubt that it would be of the utmost help to’ honorable members for purposes of reference. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat some time ago delivered an address which attracted a considerable amount of attention both inside and outside of this Chamber. If in a little time ‘ one requires to refer to what the honorable and learned gentleman said on that occasion, he will have some difficulty in hunting . up the newspaper reports of the speech. The index kept in the New South Wales Parliamentary Library supplies a record of each speaker, the principal subjects dealt with in his address, and the issues of the principal newspapers in which a report of his speech is to be found. I hope that some attention will be given to the desirability of providing a similar index for the benefit of members of this Parliament. I notice that there is an item of £250 put down for improvements connected with Parliament House. Some time ago our medical experts, notably the honorable member for Hunter, expended a good deal of eloquence in describing the deficient ventilation of this Chamber, and its danger to honorable members. So far as I am able to judge’, very little improvement in this respect has been effected. I should like ‘to know if there is any possibility of some of the suggestions of the experts for the better ventilation of the Chamber being carried out in the near future.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 5 (Refreshment Rooms), £835 ; division 6 (Water Power for Parliament House), £250; division 7 (Electric Lighting), £1,348; division 8 (Queen’s Halt), £604, agreed to.
Division 9 (Parliament Gardens), £482
– The Prime Minister, if he can, might give the Committee some information as to the method adopted in valuing the services of Commonwealth officers. I find, for instance, that whilst the foreman gardener receives a salary of £168 a year, a clerk receives £2*10, and ,a senior messenger £188. I should, personally, be inclined to think that the position of “foreman muchdener was more important, and his services more valuable, than those of a messenger. Either the messenger, ‘in this case, is getting too much, or the foreman gardener is getting too little. I cannot see how these salaries can be reconciled. For my part, I think I should prefer the duties of a messenger at £168 a year to those of a foreman gardener at £188 a year.
– The gardener is a professional man.
– I suppose we all have some idea of gardening, and I know we can all admire the way in which the gardens about these premises are kept. I think that our foreman gardener is not too well paid. I should, like some information as to how the value of the services of these officers is assessed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 10 (Miscellaneous), £961
– I wish to direct the attention of Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Joint House Committee, to the item “ Lift attendant, £78.” I may say at once that the young fellow who fills this position has not spoken to me, or to any one else to my knowledge, on this subject. I have noted, however, that though we may sit until the early hours of the morning) the lift attendant must still be at his post, and he has to attend again at 9 o’clock next morning. He is required to be in constant attendance also during the recess, as the lift is kept going, and in the circumstances I think, that £78 a year is too small a wage. He should be getting at least £110 a year, or 7s. per day. He has to work a very great deal of overtime, and when the recess arrives, whatever may be the case with respect to other members of the House staff, he has very few days off. I trust that the matter to which I have referred will be taken into consideration.
– I indorse the remarks made by the honorable member for Bland. The lift attendant is at the beck and call of honorable members from 9 o’clock in the morning until the hour at which the House adjourns, whether that be 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock, or one of the “wee sma’ “ hours. Honorable members will notice that of the attendants in the Queen Victoria Hall, the chief messenger gets £188, a junior messenger gets £156, and a cleaner £110 a year. It seems to me that the duties appertaining to this position are equally severe and trying. I join with’ the honorable member for Bland in urging on the House Committee the advisability of considering the granting of an increase of pay to this officer.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland. Parliament never intended that its servants should be called upon to work such long hours as are worked by the lift attendant, for the low rate of wages that he receives. I hope that the matter will receive the early consideration of the House Committee, and that, if they cannot do what is necessary, the Government will take the matter in hand.
– As a member of the House Committee, I wish to say that I understand that it is the intention of the Usher of the Black Rod to recommend that the pay of the lift attendant, when he attains the age of twenty-one years, be increased to £no, and that the young fellow is satisfied with that, as he reaches his majority next June. I spoke to Mr. Speaker on the subject this evening, because I thought that an increase was provided for, and he promised that something should be done at our next meeting.
– I take it that attending to a lift is “a boy’s work. ‘ This young man commenced his duties as a boy, and if he has grown up, so as to be now too old to do boy’s work, he should be dispensed with, and a boy put in his place. We should consider the matter purely as a business arrangement, and as a business man I say that, if attending to the lift is boy’s work, a boy should be provided for it.
– Does the honorable member think that a boy should be kept at work during all hours of the night ? We should have accidents if the lift were intrusted to a boy.
– It is not because this youth comes under the immediate notice of honorable members that he should be thought more of than persons who do their work thousands of miles from here. Surely those who are in charge of this service know what is required in a case like this. If every public officer were treated similarly, the cost of our public departments would be doubled. We have to consider the interests of the tax-payers, as well as those of the public servants.
– Whilst I think that we should safeguard our expenditure as much as we can, I do not agree with’ the honorable member for Bass that the lift attendant is performing boy’s work. Surely no honor-able member thinks that a boy should be kept at work during all hours of the night, and until early morning. If the lift were in use only during the day-time, it could be attended to by a boy; but no boy could stand the strain which is put on the lift attendant by the present arrangements, and I think that the salary is not commensurate with the work required of him. Some honorable members are ready to seek relaxation on the slightest pretext, but the lift attendant must keep to his post as long as Parliament is sitting. I consider that he has hard and constant work to perform. I hope that’ in our Public Service boys will never be asked to stay at work during all the hours of the night, and I should like to see a Federal law enacted preventing the employment of boys after certain hours of the evening - for their own protection, and for the benefit of the race.
– I indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Bland in connexion with this mat- fer. I was rather surprised at the statement of the honorable member for Bass. It is not boy’s work that the lift attendant has to do. He is. here as long as either House is sitting, and the safety of members depends to a large extent on the proper performance, of his duties. He is now approaching twenty-one years of age, when, if he were in any other branch of the Public Service, he would under the Act be entitled to receive a minimum wage of£110 a year, although he is now getting only £78 a year. I hope that the House Committee will take the matter into consideration, and see that the lift attendant is treated as he should be treated.
– For some time after the Federal Parliament began to occupy these buildings the lift attendant was paid only £50 a year, but, attention being called to the fact that he is kept here for all hours of the night, and has to come again early next morning, he was, a little over eighteen months ago, given an increase. I think, however, that he should be given a further increase, and I was glad to hear the honorable member for Maranoa say that the matter will be favorably considered by the House Committee.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs
Division 11(Administrative), £8,298
– I should like to know what is done in the way of providing the Governments of the States with copies of the Bills which are submitted to this Parliament.
– The Governments of the States are supplied with copies of all Bills.
– Are the Parliamentary Libraries of the States also supplied with them ?
– I wish to speak about the manner in which the Commonwealth offices in the various States are supplied with public documents. I do not know what the arrangements in the other States are, but in New South Wales they are most unsatisfactory. The other day I called at the Sydney office for a copy of the proceedings of the recent Hobart Conference, but found it impossible to obtain one.
– Is the honorable member aware that the reporthas not yet been presentedto Parliament?
– Yes, but that is no reason why it should not be made available to honorable members at the Common- wealth offices in Sydney. I had to go to the Government Printing Office in Sydney to obtain a copyof the report. Honorable members should be able to procure at the Commonwealth offices any documents they may require to consult in order to prepare themselvesfor the legislative work that lies before them. We have a staff of officers in Sydney, and rooms provided for the convenience of honorable members, and it is very necessary that a full supply of parliamentary papers should be provided. I would suggest that a good supply of Bills should be kept on Hand, so that honorable members may obtain copies if they desire them. The Commonwealth offices in Sydney are very largely availed of by honorable members, and the conveniences afforded would be largely added to if a complete supply of documents were available.
– I shall see that the matter is attended to.
– Ihope that the Government will not comply with the request of the honorable member, or attempt to build up a Federal Library in every State. There are Commonwealth offices in the capital of every State. In Perth, only one room is provided, and, although it is a fairly large one, it would be filled, to the exclusion of everything else, if a full supply of the various Commonwealth publications were kept on hand. If the honorable member for Macquarie had desired a particular document, why did he not keep the copy supplied to him?That is what other honorable members have to do.
– My copy of the report was in this House.
– The honorable member should not have begrudged the trouble involved in walking a few yards along the street to the State Parliament House in Sydney, where he would have been able to see what he required. The honorable member comes from a State in which money has been rather lavishly spent upon the printing and distribution of official literature, and I desire to putin a little timid word in favour of economy. Honorable members now have all the parliamentary literature that is good for them, and I ‘do not think that any great hardship is involved in resorting to a State Parliamentary Library in order to peruse Commonwealth publications. The States Parliamentary Libraries are accessible to honorable members of this Parliament, and it seems to me that it would be the height of extravagance if the Government were to forward to the Commonwealth offices in each State a complete set of Commonwealth publications. The num- ber of such papers would become so overwhelming that very soon an index would be required to enable honorable members to readily refer to them. There seems to be something extremely suspicious inthe management of the Government Printing Office. In view of the fact that the
Commonwealth Gazette is for the most part a very small publication, and is not issued every week, the cost last year, amounting to£1,691, was excessive. I have taken the trouble to watch the estimates of cost given in connexion with every document issued from the Government Printing Offices here and in Sydney, and I have noticed that the estimated cost of printing in Melbourne - I do not know anything as to the amounts actually charged to the Treasury - is, in many cases, 50 per cent. higher than the outlay upon similar documents in Sydney. At present I shall content myself with directing attention to this matter in a general way, and shall have something further to say upon the subject when the Estimates for the Government Printing Office are under consideration.
– A large part of the cost is represented By postage. The Gazette has to be sent to every public office in the Commonwealth.
– I think that the items ought to be separated, so that honorable members might be informed as to the amount charged for postage. I should like to know if the Commonwealth Gazette is registered at the Post Office for transmission as a newspaper.
– I believe so.
– If the Government intend to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Macquarie, they will have to provide special accommodation in South Australia. At present honorable members who desire to peruse Commonwealth documents have to resort to the State Parliamentary Library. Any person wishing to see Federal representatives on business have to interview them in a room belonging to the suite attached tothe Legislative Council, and we have heard remarks, which are not altogether pleasant, with regard to our occupancy of that room. Under present circumstances, it would be useless to spend the taxpayers’ money in carrying out the suggestion of the honorable member for Macquarie.
– I, too, have experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining parliamentary papers at the Com monwealth offices, Sydney, and I think that some better arrangement ought to be made for supplying those documents. I am glad to learn that thereis such a publication as the Commonwealth Gazette, though I have never seen a copy of it.
– Look at it.
– If the expenditure involved is not too great I suggest that a copy of the Gazette should be supplied to every honorable member of the House.
– It is already supplied to every honorable member who desires it.
– I am glad to know that such a publication is available, because it is sometimes necessary to consult it in order to acquire certain information.
Proposed vote agreed to.
D ivision 12 (Executive Council) - £850 agreed to.
Division 13 (New Guinea) - £20,000
– In view of the fact that honorable members had no notice of the intention of the Government to proceed with the Estimates tonight, I ask the Prime Minister to consent to the postponement of this division. Last session I referred to a number of matters which have since been reported upon by the Administrator of the Territory.
– I will ask the Chairman not to put the division. That will meet the honorable member’s purpose.
Division 14 (Mail Service to Pacific
Islands) -£ 12,000
– As this division relates to the mail service to the Pacific Islands - a matter which created a greatdeal of discussion last session - I suggest that its consideration should also be postponed. As the result of the debate which took place upon this item and the preceding one last year, I understand that the Prime Minister instructed the Secretary tohis Departmentto proceed to New Guinea, and report upon certain matters. I trust that that report will be in the hands of honorable members before we are called upon to deal with this division.
– I will ask the Chairman not to put the division.
-Isit within the province of the Chairman to refrain from putting it?
– The Chairman does not refrain from putting it, of his own option, but at the request of the Prime Minister.
Division 15 (Miscellaneous) - £1,350.
– I desire to know whether the item “ advertising resources of Commonwealth, £200,” represents the balance due to Mr. John Plummer, of Sydney, who has been writing a number of articles in reference to the Commonwealth ?
– Yes. This amount will cover the balance of the term for which he is engaged.
– Do I understand that his engagement is to be terminated in December ?
– Notice to that effect was given by the late Government.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 16 (Secretary’ s Office) - £2,639.
– I should like to know whether it was the Attorney-General’s Department which gave the Public Service Commissioner legal advice in respect of a case of Mr. Hart, which was tried in Queensland by the Public Service Inspector ? It is rumoured in Queensland that the Public Service Commissioner acted on the advice, not of the Attorney-General’s Department, but of a member of hiscentral staff, who is a Victorian barrister. I am referring, not to the case in which Mr. Hart is suing the Commonwealth Government for £1,000 for wrongful dismissal, but to his trial by three different boards. He was suspended for twelve months on full pay, and I wish to know upon whose advice the Public Service Commissioner acted?
– This matter is not within my personal recollection, and I have just been informed by the Secretary to the Department that the whole case is sub judice.
– It is not. I was speaking of the departmental inquiry.
– I am not in a position to give the honorable member a complete answer. I may say, however, that the question has nothing to do with this year’s Estimates. I shall make inquiries, and if the honorable member will put a question on the noticepaper shall be prepared to answer it.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - The honorable and learned gentleman’s promise does not satisfy me. I wish to obtain an explanation while I have an opportunity to deal with the matter in connexion with the consideration of the Estimates.
– I understand that the proper time to deal with the question will be when the Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs are under consideration.
– No. All I wish to know is whether the Public Service Commissioner acted on the advice of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department?
– Ministers are taking up an extraordinary attitude. In other Parliaments, when a Minister is unable to furnish a reply to a question raised on the Estimates, he agrees to the postponement of the item, but in the Federal Parliament honorable members are put off from time to time with such a remark as “ The item to which the honorable member refers did not come under my notice, and I cannot give him any definite information.” It is about time thatwe put a stop to such a practice. The honorable member for Maranoa simply wishes to know whether the Attorney-General’s Department advised the Commissioner. If the Minister cannot reply to the question, he should agree to the postponement of the item.
– I am not familiar with all the facts of this case, but from the information furnished me when in Queensland, I understand that the Public Service Commissioner decided that Mr. Hart should be dismissed, and took the necessary steps to that end. At the last moment it was discovered that the legal advice tendered to the Commissioner was faulty, and the whole procedure had to be commenced de novo. The Committee is entitled to an explanation, and I think that the honorable member for? Maranoa is justified in asking for further information.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General). - I am informed that the question put by the honorable member for Maranoa has no relation whatever to the present year’s Estimates. He has, of course, the right to ask any question regarding the Department ; but I understand, from what I can gather, that the subject-matter of his inquiry was advice that was given - so far as can be ascertained without reference to the papers - even before the late Government took office. I am informed that, whatever advice was tendered, was given confidentially by one Department to the other.
– Did the Attorney-General’s Department give the Commissioner the advice on which he acted ?
– So far as we can ascertain, some advice was given, but I do not know whether it was in relation to the particular subject to which the honorable member refers. Advice was given by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department to the Department of Home Affairs in relation to Mr. Hart.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - In the circumstances it may be well to state briefly the facts of the case. Mr. Hart was suspended from the Post and Telegraph Department for dereliction of duty, and was tried by a board, which forwarded its report to the central office. In the meantime, he appealed from the decision of that board, on the ground that it was not competent to deal with his case, as it related to the general division. His appeal was successful. He was then tried as a member of the clerical division of the service, with the result that he again successfully appealed, and was tried for a third time as a member of the professional division. I wish to know on whose advice the Commissioner proceeded ? The Law Department of the Commonwealth denies all knowledge of the matter, and it is stated publicly in Queensland that the Commissioner relied upon the advice of a barrister who is employed as examiner in his Department, and that that was the cause of the difficulty in which the Commonwealth is placed.
– I have just been informed by the Secretary to the Department that upon the subject to which the honorable member refers, the Law Department gave no advice.
– All I ask the AttorneyGeneral to do is to inform the Committee upon whose advice the trials were held.
– I shall.
– I know that the Law! Department was not consulted in the matter. If my information be correct, what is the use of the Commonwealth maintaining an expensive Department for the purpose of supplying legal advice if the Commissioner is to take the advice of a barrister who is employed in his Department?
– It will be remembered by honorable members, that when the Estimates for the Department of. Home Affairs were being considered last year, there was a great deal of criticism directed against an increase of £50 in the salary “of this officer. One of the reasons which were assigned bv the honorable member for North Sydney for the increase was that the officer was the legal adviser of the Public Service Commissioner. What is the use of the Attorney-General’s Department if other Departments are to be permitted to employ their legal advisers? The position is most unsatisfactory, and should not be tolerated any longer by the Attorney-General.
– I do not think I gave as a reason for increasing the salary of this officer last year that he was capable of being legal adviser of the Public Service Commissioner. What I stated was, that amongst his other qualifications, legal knowledge was useful for the work he had to perform.. I did not mean, of course, that he should take the place of the AttorneyGeneral, because in all important matters it is supposed that there shall be a reference to his Department. I did mention the officer’s legal knowledge as being of assistance in performing his particular work; but I did not express an opinion as to his capacity to give legal advice. The Attorney-General has said that the advice, given in this matter was. tendered before the late Government took office. I have no intention of discussing the merits of the case, because it would not be in order. My remarks last year were not intended to imply that the officer was qualified to be the legal adviser of the Commissioner.
– I did not take the honorable member’s remarks in that way.
– I notice that the item of £80 for books for the Departmental Library is very much less than the amount which was voted, or expended last year, and that the items for law books for the Crown Solicitor’s office, and the High Court, have been very much reduced. I can understand that there is extra expense when a library is being formed ; but it seems to me a penny wise and pound foolish policy to unduly stint the expenditure upon the departmental libraries. Of course, if the libraries in the Department are practically complete, all I can say is that, they have been completed very promptly. It is a pity to cut down these items by so much. I do not know whether the Attorney-General is satisfied that he will have enough money available to get all the. books which mav be required during the coming year for the various branches of his Department. A sum of ^”12 5 for the purchase of lawbooks is very small. I doubt if it will be sufficient to provide the ordinary annual reports and the documents which will be required.
– It will more than cover the ordinary reports.
– It will not be sufficient if the Department is getting the American reports. I do not know whether the library for the Patent Office comes under this head or not.
– Of course, if the AttorneyGeneral is of opinion that £123 will provide all the books which may be wanted, every one should be satisfied; but it seems to me a very heavy reduction, and one which calls for an explanation. A sum for the defence of prisoners is a rather unusual item to appear in Estimates. For this purpose £100 was voted last year, but only £5 was spent. If the prisoner got only £5 worth of defence, probably he was convicted. We are now asked to vote £10 for this purpose. Is the power of assigning solicitor and counsel exercisable in the case of all offences ?
– All Commonwealth offences.
– Evidently we are going to be a singularly moral community during the next twelve months. From what little, knowledge I have of the cost of defending prisoners, I am at a loss to know what class of offender can be defended for £10. It seems to me somewhat farcical to provide £10 for the defence of prisoners. Either more money should be provided, or nothing at all.
–Is this at the usual rate?
– I doubt it, unless it be on the alleged legal principle of taking all the prisoner has got.
– It will be interesting to the Committee to know how the £5 was spent last year- what prisoner was defended, what he was defended for, and what lawyer defended him? Then we shall know whether the £10 is likely to be well spent in the coming year. It will be interesting to discover that a prisoner can be successfully defended for £5. But it rather looks like” sweating the members of the legal profession, “who, however, speaking generally, so far as my experience goes - and I have had a good deal - are not inclined to allow themselves, to be sweated. I thoroughly agree with the principle that if a prisoner is not able to pay for his own defence counsel should be provided for him. But that ought not. to be done in any holeandcorner manner. It is not with me a matter of £5 or £5,000. I would vote the money cheerfully on the principle that any prisoner is entitled to a fair defence. Many prisoners do not get justice simply because they cannot pay. I trust that the AttorneyGeneral will furnish us with an explanation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 17 (Crown Solicitor’s Office) - £1,980.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I am much surprised that a reduction in the vote for law books should be proposed. The less we have of law the better, but there are occasions when a Department has to obtain advice on matters affecting administration. I remember’ an occasion when trouble took place in reference to the carriage of our European mails. The Orient Steam Navigation Company asked for a clearance to Colombo. If the company’s interpretation of the law had been correct it might have caused considerable trouble. I asked the Crown Law officers for advice as to the postal laws in operation in Colombo, and it was discovered that they had not a copy of the Statute in the Department. The consequence was that the Post and Telegraph Department had to cable to Colombo to ascertain the law upon the subject. As soon as we knew what the law was we were enabled to take up a much stronger position than we could do before. It showed that the Department was right and the Orient Steam Navigation Company wrong. Of course, I at once gave directions that copies of all foreign Statutes bearing upon postal matters should be obtained for the Department. But it was made clear that the Attorney-General’s .Department ought to be furnished with sufficient law books to enable the officers to carry on their work. It ought not to be necessary to cable abroad to obtain a statement of the law on such a subject. There should be sufficient information on hand to enable “our officers to give us advice on all legal matters affecting the Commonwealth.
– I have looked up the Judiciary Act, and I fin’d that the sub-section of section 69 dealing with the defence of prisoners is such that one may assume that the Department expects that no person will be entitled to’ claim the benefit of’ it during the coming year. The provision is as follows : -
Any person committed for trial for an indictable offence against the laws of the Commonwealth may at any time within fourteen days after committal, and before the jury is sworn, apply to a Justice in Chambers, or to a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, for the appointment of counsel for his defence. If it be found to the satisfaction of the Justice or Judge that such person is without adequate means to provide defence for himself, and that it is desirable in the interests of justice that such an appointment should be made, the Justice or Judge shall certify this to the Attorney-General, who may, if he thinks fit, thereupon cause arrangements to be made for the defence of the accused person. Upon committal the person committed shall be supplied with a copy of this sub-section.
Apparently if any person who is charged with an offence claims the benefit of the sub-section which I have quoted, the money will have to be voted hereafter. A sum of £100 was voted last year, and only £5 was spent. I am puzzled to know how it was spent. The provision of £10 in these Estimates seems to be based upon the rule-of -thumb conjecture that, as only £5 was spent last year, £10 will be sufficient for the coming year. But it has to be remembered that we are creating fresh offences under Commonwealth Acts, and are thereby “increasing the chances of persons requiring to be defended. By the time we have passed a few more measures like the Secret Commissions Bill it will be very difficult on a dark night to avoid committing offences against Commonwealth law. One will have to go out with a lantern to avoid tumbling over some section of an Act of this Parliament. In view of the provisions of the Judiciary Act, I think it is trifling to provide the sum of £10 as the estimated expenditure.
– The honorable member for Macquarie has taken the Government to task for not spending enough money on law books. I congratulate that honorable member on the result of the negotiations with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, because, had a settlement not been arrived at. there was a probability that a few ships might ‘have been impounded, especially after the advice received from Colombo. The Government, of which the honorable member for Macquarie was a member, provided £3°° for law books, and spent only £216 ; and yet I see that £80 is set down in the present Estimates for the library of the Department under discussion. For the .Attorney-
General’s Department £400 was set down for law books in the year 1904-5.
– That was for the High Court.
– Of the £400, I see that only £255 was spent; and I should like to know where expenditure of this kind is going to land us. I have heard, it said that extra room will be required, in order to find space for’ these books in the different departments; and I am glad to see that the vote has been cut down.
– With regard to the defence of prisoners, I should like to inform the honorable and learned member for Corinella that it was his colleague who fixed the sum which has been adopted by the present Government.
– That is not conclusive evidence.
– From August, 1903, when the Judiciary Act was passed, until now, we have had to spend only £5 under this head, and it is thought that £10 is all that will be necessary for the coming year. I want to assure honorable members that should more money be required, there will be no necessity for a further vote, because there is always the Treasurer’s advance to draw upon. I can say that should action have to be taken under this section, I shall see that no man goes undefended.
– What was the £5 spent for?
– It was spent in the defence of a man who was charged under the Post and Telegraph Act in New South Wales. The money was given to counsel for defending the prisoner. As is always done,, the Crown Solicitor handed all the documents and papers to the prisoner’s counsel, and in this way, of course, the expenses were kept down. As to the law books, it must be understood that once a library is formed, the expense diminishes ; and it is on that basis that we have reduced the vote. We have provided £80 for a departmental library, it having been found last year, after voting £300, that of that amount £84 was not required. Economy has also been exercised in the other Departments.
– Was the’ £5 counsel’s fee?
– There was no solicitor employed ?
– No ; there were no solicitor’s costs, because, as I have said, the Crown Solicitor handed over all the documents and information he had to the prisoner’s counsel.
-The usual fee fixed by the Attorney-General’s Department of the States is £7 7s.
– Is not that in capital offences only ?
– That fee is fixed only in case of offences punishable by death.
– Those are the only offences in which counsel is assigned by the States.
– But this Commonwealth provision applies to lesser offences.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral hold that £5 is a fair fee ?
-It is too much.
– It is not a large fee, but, of course, the fee all depends on circumstances.
– I am pleased that the Committee take an interest in this matter. Apparently the prisoner’s counsel is briefed, not by a solicitor for the accused, but by the Crown Solicitor. Under these circumstances, what chance has the accused? This would) appear to be treating the Judiciary Act as a farce; because, in order to properly defend a man, there must be an independent solicitor, who will so place the facts before counsel as to make the best defence for the accused. It seems ridiculous to have a common solicitor for two opposing barristers.
– I was rather surprised when the AttorneyGeneral explained that the expense was kept down by reason of the fact that the papers were handed over by the Crown Solicitor to the counsel allotted to defend the accused. I do not see of what value such information could be for the defence, unless there was something very wrong with the case for the prosecution. The information thus handed over is certainly not drawn up with the object of helping the prisoner, who really ought to have an independent solicitor.
– I think so, too. I am only explaining what was done in the case immediately under discussion.
– I think that a very good precedent has been set, and, in my opinion, the honorable member for Hindmarsh should not defend the piling up of law fees on unfortunate individuals who may have to appear before the Courts. It would be interesting to hear more about’ the case in which this £5 was spent. Considering that the Crown Solicitor knew both sides, I do not know any onemore fitted to instruct counsel for the defence.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division No. 18 (High Court), £4,250.
– I should be glad to hear from the AttorneyGeneral whetherthe late disagreements between the Department and the Judges of the High Court have been amicably arranged, and whether everything is now working smoothly.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral to postpone the consideration of this division until to-morrow. Personally I have nothing to say in connexion with the matter, but I understand that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne desires to discuss the correspondence which has passed between successive Attorneys-General and the Judges of the High Court.
– Can the honorable and learned member state the particular point which is to be raised ? Any matter of importance in connexion with the matter can be dealt with at the report stage.
– I believe that there is a desire to discuss the whole matter. I know that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne moved for the correspondence, and he is not present this evening. I read the correspondence with a great deal of interest. It seems to me that whilst some of the demands made by the late Attorney-General, Sir Josiah Symon, were insupportable, the present Attorney - General, apparently, upset all that his predecessor had done in the matter, and went out of his way to make concessions to the judges of the High Court on points in connexion with which it seems to me a reasonable position had been taken up. I ask that these Estimates be postponed in view of the fact that honorable members were not aware that they would come on forconsideration to-night. The matter involved is one which attracted very great public attention, and I believe that the course adopted by the late Ministry in this connexion had something to do with their retirement from office. The AttorneyGeneral might well follow the lead of the Prime Minister, and consent to a postponement.
– So far as I know, there is no reason to postpone this division.
– I think thatit should be postponed, because we had no notice that the Estimates would come on for consideration to-night. We have not the papers relating to this matter before us, and I think they disclose a good deal of justification for the action taken by the late Attorney-General.
– Then let us have it. The honorable and learned member has said that some things which we did were wrong, and I wish he would say what they were.
– I can assure the AttorneyGeneral that if I had the correspondence here he would hear enough about it, but I have no desire to go into the matter now.
– The honorable and learned member has gone into it.
– I desire that the honorableand learned member for Northern Melbourne shall be present while these Estimates are being discussed. The late AttorneyGeneral regarded the matter as of so much importance that he practically pinned his reputation to the action which he took in connexion with it.
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne had practically nothing to do with the correspondence.
– I know that he started it, and that his is the first letter which appears in the correspondence. He gave some opinion as to the correct reading of the Judiciary Act, which was supported by the late Attorney-General.
– What was supported by the late Attorney-General ?
– The view taken by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne in his first letter to the Judges of the High Court. I have no desire to go into the correspondence, but I feel that it is my duty to keep the matter open until the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is able to take part in the discussion. The Attorney-General ought not to force me into this position, in view of the reasonable way in which the Prime Minister has acted in agreeing to the postponment of some of the Estimates in his charge. I have no desire to complain, but I know that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was sufficientlyinterested in the matter to move that the correspondence should be laid upon the table of the House. The motion was at first opposed by the last Government, but after the present Government took office, it was allowed to go through, and we now have the correspondence before us. I am aware that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has independent views on certain phases of the question. The AttorneyGeneral must be aware that no discussion of the matter can take place on the report of the resolutions from the Committee of Supply.
– (IndiAttorneyGeneral). - The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne while AttorneyGeneral did not enter into the fray in any way whatever, and he is not responsible for any of the correspondence except a letter which merely suggested the carrying out of the Judiciary Act by means of an Order in Council, and so putting on a legal basis what was then being done practically. All the rest was left to my immediate predecessor. None of the controversial questions which subsequently arose were brought into being by the action of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne as Attorney-General.
– Except that he gave a distinct reading of the Judiciary Act in which Sir Josiah Symon agreed.
– I have never heard of such a thing, and I am quite sure that the honorable and learned member for Corio is mistaken about that. He has stated that I have done some things with which he does not agree, and has imputed a fault or several faults, to the present Administration in connexion with the action which we have taken. His action in that respect has been distinct, and, under the circumstances, I decline to allow the division to be postponed. .
– Is that the Minister’s real reason ?
– It is. I shall not allow a statement of that kind to pass unnoticed. It has never been indicated to me by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, nor, I venture to say, to the honorable and learned member for Corio, that he has any desire to challenge the action of the Government on this or any other division of the Estimates. If the honorable and learned member for Corio can say thatthehonorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has expressed any such desire to him-
– I have told ‘the AttorneyGeneral that he has not.
– Then I see no reason for postponing the division.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member for Corio will withdraw the imagined imputation which the Attorney-General resents, so that the division may be postponed.
– I withdraw everything.
– We all know that the division involves expenditure which was the subject of considerable correspondence for a number of months. As a reason why the division should be postponed, I would point out to the Attorney-General that he himself can hardly have thought that Supply would be brought on this evening.
– I thought it quite possible.
– As our lamented friend, Mr. Hancock, once said, in a democracy all things are possible ; and this particular possibility has been proved. In my simplicity, I thought that the order of business on the notice-paper represented the order in which the several measures set down there would be dealt with. I was glad to see the Secret Commissions Bill put through, because I am desirous that the Papua Bill shall become law as soon as possible, and it was the second order of the day on the paper. Then came what is popularly known as the Bonus Bill, and the fourth order of the day was the further consideration of the TradeMarks Bill, the discussion of which, had it been commenced, would .probably have lasted until now. Following it came the two orders of the day dealing with the High Commissioner Bill. Under these circumstances, honorable members cannot be expected to be in a position to discuss the Estimates. My copy of the correspondence on the subject of the expenses of the High Court is in my chambers, and I cannot get it now. The subject is one to which a good deal of attention was given by the public, and, as the honorable and learned member for Corio has pointed out, affected the fate of a Government. When the Estimates were under consideration last year, the Administration then in power was always ready to consent to the postponement of a division, if an honorable member intimated that he had not had time to make himself acquainted with the facts at issue, and I, in all seriousness, ask that this division may be postponed, in order that we may have an opportunity to refer to our papers. It affords subject for legitimate discussion, and we cannot discuss it to advantage unless we are given an opportunity to prepare ourselves by referring to the necessary, documents. Honorable members cannot be charged with having delayed the course of business to-day.
– I do not make any such charge.
– I hope that the AttorneyGeneral, whom I know to be possessed of great firmness, will justify my estimate of his character, which leads me to believe that the popular impression that that virtue may degenerate into something less desirable is a mistaken one, by not insisting on forcing the division through to-night. As a matter of fairness to the last Administration, whose action was largely criticised, and also in fairness to the Justices of the High Court, this matter should not be forced through in the teeth of the desire expressed by honorable members for reasonable discussion. The point of honour at first involved has disappeared, since the honorable and learned member for Corio has withdrawn any suggestion of an imputation on the AttorneyGeneral.
– I have not yet heard any reason why the consideration of the proposed vote should be postponed.
– It should be postponed for the simple reason that no one expected that the Estimates would be taken this” evening.
– I would point out,’ in support of the honorable and learned member’s contention, that the Prime Minister himself at dinner adjournment did not anticipate that the Estimates would be considered this evening. He then intended to proceed with the discussion of the motion for a memorial to Queen Victoria. In view of this, and the fact that honorable members are not prepared with the documents they need to consult in reference to this debatable matter, it would be wrong for the AttorneyGeneral to attempt to force a discussion at this late hour of the evening. Such action could lead to no good result, and I would suggest that the Attorney-General might agree to postpone the proposed vote for the High Court, and proceed with the rest of the Estimates relating to his Department’.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General). - I am very unwilling to1 postpone the proposed vote. I have been informed that honorable members desire to have their papers with them, and to refer to certain correspondence; but no intimation has been given of their desire to challenge the vote. If, however, anything is to be challenged, I shall not throw any obstacle in the way, and thus place honorable members at a disadvantage. The honorable member for. North Sydney has mentioned one reason why the proposed vote should be postponed, but I hope that honorable members will understand that it is not proposed to adjourn at this stage. The Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs will be proceeded with.
– It is unusual, as I have already pointed out, to postpone a proposed vote after discussion has taken place. That cannot be done under the Standing Orders and parliamentary practice; but if it is the wish of the Committee that the item shall be regarded as not having been put, thatcourse might be adopted. That would, amount to a postponement by leave. Is it the desire of the Committee that the proposed vote shall be regarded as not having been put ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Division 19(Court of Conciliation and Arbitration),£100.
– Do I understand that the proposed vote represents the whole of the expenditure that is contemplated in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Court?
– The Court is now definitely constituted?
– Yes; but the regulations have not yet been issued.
– How soon will that be?
– Very shortly; they are practically ready now.
– The moment that they are issued the Court will have a great deal to do, as there is every indication that a number of cases will have to be dealt with.
– What cases?
– A number of cases which I need not particularize. Certainly £100 seems to be a very small amount, and I should like to know whether it is intended to cover the whole of the expenditure.
– Is it not little enough?
– It is obvious that this amount will be too small the moment the regulations have been gazetted. I should like to know how the Attorney-
General proposes to meet the position that will then be created.
– Before a Court has commenced its operations, it is impossible to make provision for everything. My predecessor has provided for certain contingencies which are absolutely necessary, and should anything further be needed, we can always draw upon the Treasurer’s advance account.
– It seems to me that £100 is rather a large amount to cover such items as “ postage and telegrams, writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon,” &c. I notice that these contingencies absorb £80 of the amount mentioned. It seems to me that£100 is an excessive sum for us to vote as preliminary expenditure before the Court has actually been called into being.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs.
Division No. 20 (Administrative Staff),
– I would suggest to the Prime Minister that progress should now be reported. I think he must admit that honorable members on this side of the Chamber raised no captious objection to the Estimates being proceeded with to-night. But as there is likely to be a long discussion upon the Electoral Office, which comes within the scope of this Department, it would be wise to postpone consideration of the Estimates relating to it.
– Let us deal with the administrative staff, and then we will report progress.
– I am personally quite willing to agree to that suggestion.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).There are several matters connectedwith theadministration of the Department of Home Affairs which can properly be discussed upon the first item. I think the Prime Minister will admit that members of the Opposition have exhibited no desire to block the consideration of the Estimates. When I left the House at the hourof adjournment for dinner, I understood that there was no intention whatever to proceed with the Estimates to-night. I was under the impression that the debate upon the motion relating to the erection of a memorial to the late Queen was to be continued. There are several matters connected with the Department of Home. Affairs upon which I should like to have a general discussion. At the same time, I have no desire to go back upon any pledge which may have been given by the deputy leader of the Opposition.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I have intimated that I,personally see no objection to dealing with the Estimates for the administrative staff of this Department to-night. At the same time, I do not wish to prevent any honorable member who may desire to do so from initiating a general discussion upon the first item. I suggest that the Minister should report progress.
– I think that the Government have done very well this evening. No opposition has been offered to any item which has come before the Committee. We have dealt with the Estimates relating to the Parliament, the Department of External Affairs, and the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. If that is not sufficient for one night’s work, I do not know what is. Personally, I should like to see the Department of Home Affairs wiped out altogether. It is nothing more nor less than a circumlocution Department. When the postal authorities in Queensland desire to obtain a window, costing1s. 6d., they have to make application to the Department of Home Affairs, in Melbourne, for it. The latter employ a large staff to do nothing but record work connected with other Departments. These officials are of no use whatever. The Postmaster-General could run the Electoral Department. Indeed, the postal authorities are practically doing the work of the Department now. The postmasters are the proper officers to perform electoral work.
– It was my intention topropose that, if I had been given an opportunity.
– Such a proposal would meet with my support. I think, however, that the Minister might well agree to progress being reported.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In view of the fact that the policy of the Post and’ Telegraph Department, as disclosed by the Post and Telegraph Act, is to prevent its services being used to facilitate gambling, I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he does not think that regulations might be framed to prevent telephones being used as a means of communication between race-courses and various betting-houses in this city? There may be a slight difficulty in the way of putting down the practice, inasmuch as all bettinghouses have not been pronounced as “places” within the meaning of the Act by process of law. But there is, at least, one case in which a betting-house has been declared by law to be a “place,” and I understand that there is power to prevent telephones being used in connexion with any establishment conducted for illegal purposes.
– In reply to the honorable member, I wish to explain that the whole matter has been for some time under the consideration of the Department. Some difficulty is experienced, however, not only in regard to framing the regulations necessary to meet the case, but in determining where we should start, and where we should end - whether the onus of proving that a house is used for betting purposes should rest on the Department, what are places to which the telephone service should not be extended, and in what cases should it be cut off. It appears on the face of it that it will be very difficult to determine these places, in the absence of action on the part of the State Government. The inclination of the Government is to endeavour, as far as possible, to prevent gambling, and we would cheerfully render every assistance to that end, but our regulations do not give us the power that the honorable member suggests. The whole matter is under review, and the Government are strongly disposed to support any action that the State Government may take. It would be useless, however, to single out one party or place. If action is to be taken by us in this direction, it must be comprehensive and satisfactory, and favour must be shown to none. If we are to aim at the suppression of gambling, we must! not confine our attention to one particular place. Our regulations give us the power to refuse to extend the telephone service to any place in respect of which a conviction has been recorded. So far as I know, no such conviction has been made. Ifa conviction were recorded, and my attention were called to it, I should be prepared to act. We hope, however, to take further power under the new regulations to enable us to deal with the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.45p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051010_reps_2_27/>.