2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs when he expects to be able to make known to the
House the effect of the report of the Public Service Commissioner on the position of Victorian public servants coming under section 19 of theState Act of 1900.
– The report of the Commissioner on the debate in Parliament on. the classification has been received, and is now under the consideration of the Cabinet. We shall make it available to honorable members at the earliest moment possible.
– Following up some questions which I asked a few weeks ago, I wish to know from the Minister when the Government intend to pay the increments awarded under the original classification.
– The honorable member having courteously given me notice of his intention to ask this question, I am prepared with the following information: -
A subdivisions increase has been paid to officers who, under the original classification scheme, were classified at a salary higher than that which they were receiving, on condition that the amount was included in the Estimates; hut officers who have been classified at a salary involving more than one subdivisional increase, must await the’ approval , of the classification and the appropriation of funds by Parliament before the arrears can be paid. Those officers who have been classified under appeal at a higher salary than was allotted in the original classification scheme must also await the approval of the scheme and the provision of funds, which are included in the Estimates 1905-6.
– Is it not a fact that the late Treasurer promised, at the time that we agreed to pay the increments on salaries under £160 per annum, that, when Parliament had sanctioned the classification, increments on salaries exceeding that amount would also be paid without reference to the passing of the Estimates?
– From whatI remember of the right honorable gentleman’s statement, it was intended to apply only to amounts on the Estimates for the year in which it was made ; but I shall ascertain exactly what was said on the subject.
– -I wish to know from the Prime Minister if, before the session closes, he will bring in a Bill to amend the Immigration Restriction Act, so that labour may be permitted to come to Australia under contract?
– It is proposed to introduce a Bill before the session closes to amend the section of the Immigration
Restriction Act which deals with contract labour.
– Will that Bill remove the safeguards which have hitherto been found necessary to prevent men from being brought here under contract under conditions tending to lower the standard of wages in Australia?
– The honorable member’s question will be answered when the Bill is presented.
– I am informed that some twenty or thirty men are directly employed by the Post Office Department in the city of Melbourne to carry letters at a wage of only 22s. a week. Is that the true state of affairs ? If so, will the Postmaster’General have it altered? If he cannot answer my question now will he have inquiries made, with a view to answering it later on?
– I know nothing of the facts alleged, but I shall cause inquiries to be made. The Government do not wish to employ men at 22 s. a week.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware whether there is any truth in the rumour that, since the action of the Customs Department in increasing the valuation of imported harvesters, the International Harvester Company has reduced the price of its machines ?
– I cannot speak with authority, but I have been informed that the price of harvesters has been reduced from £84 to ,£70.
– This seems like a “ readyup.”
– Some time ago, I asked a question relating to the desertion of ten men from the pearling fleets at Thursday Island, and I stated that information on the subject could be obtained from the officers of the Customs Department there. Has the Prime Minister yet received such information?
– Speaking from memory, the information received does not apply to the state of affairs referred to by the honorable member ; but I expect to be fully informed later on.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Regulations under the Excise Act of 1901 - Statutory Rules 1905, No. 65.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the Geelong Orderly Room was used for a fancy dress ball on the 29th September last?
– 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 report has been received, and will be laid upon the table of the Senate this afternoon, when it will be available to honorable members.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the printing for the Defence Force in Queensland is being sent on by the Queensland Government to the penal settlement at St. Helena, and is being done by the prisoners there ?
– The Military Commandant, Queensland, reports that such printing is done by the State Government Printer, not by prisoners.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– All the matters referred to in the questions are now being considered. Definite replies cannot be given at present.
Motion (by Mr. Mauger) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to military canteens.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hutchison) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing the total cost of the Public Service Commissioner’s Department, including rents, furnishing, cost of classification of the service, printing, and any other expenditure in connexion with the said Department from its inception up to 30th September, 1905.
Debate resumed from 28th September, (vide page 2973), on motion by Mr. Higgins -
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as follows : -
May it please Your Majesty :
We, Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s person and Government.
We have observed with feelings of profound satisfaction the evidence afforded by recent legislation and recent debates in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, of a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland; and in particular we congratulate the people of the United Kingdom on the remarkable Act directed towards the settlement of the land question, and on the concession to the people of Ireland of a measure of Local Government for municipal purposes. But the. sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland.
Enjoying and appreciating as we do the blessings if Home Rule here, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted to the people of Ireland. They ask for it through their representatives - never has request more clear, consistent, and continuous been made by any nation. As subjects of Your Majesty we are interested in the peace and contentment of all parts of the Empire, and we desire to see this long-standing grievance at the very heart of the Empire removed. It is our desire for the solidarity and permanence of the Empire, as a Power making for peace and civilization, that must be our excuse for submitting to Your Majesty this respectful petition.
Upon which Mr. Reid had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after the first word “ That,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ whilst in full sympathy with every movement calculated to advance the best interests of Ireland, this House declines to petition His Majesty either in favour of or against a change in the parliamentary system which at present prevails in the United Kingdom -
because this House does not consider such matters within its legitimate province ;
because they will shortly become issues in an appeal to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland in which this House has no right to interfere ; and
because this House confidently relies upon the fairness and wisdom of the British people for the removal of every just Irish grievance in the manner most likely to promote the welfare of the Irish people and the stability of the Empire.”
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that I was absent through illness when this motion was last under discussion, or I should have taken earlier action to reply to the statements then made by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, who, at the conclusion of his speech, used the following words, which impugn my veracity. I take this opportunity of placing the matter clearly before the House and the country. I am not so much concerned about honorable members as about those who take the trouble to read the reports of the debate upon this very important question. At page 2959 of Hansard the honorable member for Southern Melbourne is reported to have said -
The honorable member for. Dalley recently made an assertion which I think calls for an immediate and emphatic contradiction. He stated that the Marquis of Linlithgow, formerly Governor-General of the Commonwealth, was an Orangeman, the evident intention being to support the organization by lending to it the weight and dignity of a highly-esteemed gentleman, and to a corresponding degree to prejudice the cause of Home Rule for Ireland. I challenged the honorable member for proof in support of his statement, but he was unable to furnish it. I think it is unfortunate that the name of the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth should have been dragged into a debate of this kind, in association with an organization whose aim is to set one section of the community at the throats of the other section, and which lives upon the prejudices of the past. I believe that the Marquis of Linlithgow has had an inquiry addressed to him as to whether he was ever associated with the Orange institution, and, although no reply has yet been received, a letter has been addressed to me by a gentleman who is so confident that the statement made by the honorable member for Dalley is without foundation that he is prepared to make a liberal donation to any charitable institution named by the honorable member for Dalley if it can be proved that his statement is correct.
The honorable m’ember then proceeded to read a letter which contained the following statement -
Another statement made was that Lord Linlithgow was an Orangeman. I feel confident that statement was untrue, and if it can be proved that he has ever taken the Orangeman’s oath, I am willing to give a liberal donation to a charitable institution, feeling confident that that honorable gentleman has too high a sense of honour’ to take so vile an oath.
Towards the conclusion of his speech, the honorable member said -
Referring once more to the statement of the honorable member for Dalley, that the Marquis of Linlithgow was . connected with the Orange institution at one time, I wish to say that, even if our former Governor-General was induced to join the organization, he could not have been aware of the hideous oath by which he would be required to bind himself to carry out the objects of the order. I feel perfectly sure that he will give an emphatic denial to the statement.
When I addressed the House on 31st August, in connexion with the motion now under discussion, I stated -
The honorable member for Southern Melbourne had the privilege of being acquainted with a distinguished Orangeman in this country - the Marquis of Linlithgow ; but surely he did not find him anxious in any way to destroy the peace of the community ? Although he was GovernorGeneral of Australia, the present Marquis of Linlithgow - then Earl of Hopetoun - did not think that it was dishonorable to belong to the Orange Lodge, and that body to-day has among its members some of the leading men in England and Ireland.
I now reiterate that statement, which was thoroughly accurate. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne stated that he had challenged me to furnish proof of my statement, and that I had been unable to do so. That is absolutely incorrect. I was never asked to furnish any proof. I spoke after full consideration and with deliberation and perfect knowledge. I am prepared to accept the challenge offered by the honorable member on behalf of his friend, who is so confident that my statement is untrue, and I welcome this as the first instance on record in which it has been open to a member of Parliament to make a wager, and at the same time to be in order. If the honorable member or his friend will put up any amount from ^20 to £100 I am prepared to furnish proof that the Marquis of Linlithgow was a member of the Orange Institution, and if honorable members are anxious to seize a golden opportunity, I would recommend them to accept a similar wager. The only condition I lay down is that I shall name the charity to which the donation is to be made. Further, I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to hold the stakes. I do not make that suggestion with any idea of ridiculing the honorable member for Southern. Melbourne. As I have stated, I accept his challenge, and in the words of the Premier of Victoria, I would say to him, “ Stuff up or shut up.” The honorable member, in his concluding remarks on the occasion referred to, contradicted one of his opening statements. He stated that what I had alleged with regard to the Marquis of Linlithgow was untrue, but he subsequently said -
I wish to say that even if our former GovernorGeneral was induced to join the organization, he could not have been aware of the hideous oath by which he would be required to bind himself to carry out the object of the order. I feel perfectly sure that he will give an emphatic denial to the statement.
Those remarks indicate a doubt upon the subject. I wish to place it upon record that I never make a statement of a serious character in this House unless I am prepared to substantiate it. I introduced the name of the Marquis of Linlithgow deliberately and with foreknowledge. The Marquis of Linlithgow was not only a member of the Orange Institution, but at one time was Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Therefore. I was speaking of a matter of which I had full knowledge. I am very sorry that the action of the honorable member should have rendered it necessary for me to make this explanation. I regret that I was absent from the House at the time that my veracity was impugned, otherwise I should have forthwith explained the situation.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I need scarcely comment upon, the bad taste of the honorable member for Dalley in dragging you, Mr. Speaker, into this matter in such an irreverent and irregular way.
– The honorable member is a fine judge of good taste when he accuses another honorable member of telling lies.
– I did not accuse the honorable member of telling lies. The honorable member ought to know the difference between a deliberate lie and a misstatement. At the time I .spoke I certainly thought that the honorable member had made a misstatement, and, further, I considered that he had shown exceedingly bad taste in dragging the name of Lord Hopetoun into a discussion of this kind.
– The Marquis of Linlithgow is the same as any other man. We do not bow down to him and worship him.
– I trust that until a communication has been received from the Marquis of Linlithgow’ honorable members will refrain from giving credence to the bald statement made by the honorable member for Dalley.
– Will the honorable member put his money up?
– Order ! During the whole of the time that the honorable member for Dalley was making his explanation the honorable member for Southern Melbourne made no remark whatever. I would therefore ask the honorable member for Dalley to refrain from making interjections.
– I feel sure that neither this House nor the country will give any credence to the bald, unsupported statement of the honorable member that the Marquis of Linlithgow was an Orangeman. It is true that he may have been induced to become associated with the institution not knowing anything about its real character. If he did so, however, he very speedily severed his connexion with it, because soon after his arrival in Victoria, he took the opportunity to lay the foundation stone of a convent - an act which would have led to his expulsion from any Orange lodge in the world. If he had not thus cut himself adrift from the Orange Institution, the officials of that organization would have cut him adrift from them - unless they restrained their hands merely because he was Lord Hopetoun. I am exceedingly sorry that the name of the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth has been associated with so odious an organization.
– I find it rather difficult to address myself to the motion before the House, after the altercation we have just heard. I am satisfied that the honorable member for Southern Melbourne is a person to whom honorable members must pay a certain amount of attention, insomuch that his intimate knowledge of the Orange Institution makes it clear that at one time he must have been a member of the organization which he is now so bitterly denouncing.
– The honorable member is making a statement absolutely without foundation.
– I would be the last to misrepresent any fact, and if the statement I have made be incorrect, I shall take the first opportunity to tender a public apology to - the Orange Institution. I am very grateful for the opportunity to again address the House on this question ; but in view of indications that honorable members are anxious to proceed to a vote, I shall curtail my remarks as far as possible. On a former occasion, I endeavoured to show that we had no mandate from the people of Australia to interfere in a question concerning another selfgoverning section of our Empire, and further, that we had no right to interfere. I shall now seek to demon- strate that it is not expedient for the Commonwealth to obtrude itself into the matter. The question of Australian expediency must necessarily include the wider question of Imperial expediency. It is a truism with which honorable members are well acquainted, that the Empire depends for its integrity upon the good-will and mutual esteem existent between its component parts, and the liberty which has been always hitherto conceded by each to each to manage its own affairs. I have already shown that Ireland is a natural component part of the United Kingdom, being in juxtaposition to, and within easy range of, the Imperial Parliament : that at the present time she possesses from 40 per cent. to 50 per cent. more representation in that Parliament than she is entitled to from the stand-point of her population ; and consequently that we must consider her as an integral part of one of the great self-governing parts of the Empire. It behoves us to be very careful before we consent to intrude on the management of any such part of it. That the United Kingdom does not ask for our interference is clear. Up to the present time the Imperial Parliament, which constantly hears the Home Rule arguments of the nationalist members of Ireland, has not shown any disposition to grant Home Rule to that country. As a matter of fact, we know that in late years there has been a revulsion of feeling, even in England itself, upon this Question. At the present moment the prevailing sentiment throughout England, Scotland, and the North of Ireland, is absolutely in opposition to the proposal to grant a separate Parliament to the Irish people. How should we in Australia brook Imperial interference with our own laws ? The honorable and learned member who has submitted this motion would be the first to resent any such interference. If, for instance, one State wished to secede from the Commonwealth, what would the people of the other States say if the Imperial Parliament attempted to exert an influence which was detrimental to the integrity of the Union? So far as we are concerned, there are other causes of possible friction between the mother country and ourselves if we start this ball of mutual interference a-rolling. For example, there is our Immigration Restriction Act.
– That measure affords an instance in which the Home Government did effectively interfere in our affairs.
– Was the honorable member satisfied with that interference?
– Yet the honorable member is now proposing that we should follow the very course which he himself resented.
– I said that I did not think the course adopted was justified. There is a wide distinction between’ following the course which was suggested and objecting intrinsically to the suggestion.
– In that case, Australia, as a section of the Empire, was interfering with the right of British subjects to enter British Dominions. The Imperial Parliament had every right to represent the case of other subjects of the King in that connexion. But is any Australian debarred from landing in Ireland ? What right, then, have we to interfere in the Constitution and government of Ireland ? The leader of the Labour Party himself admits that he keenly resented the Imperial representations-
– I did not say anything of the sort. Apparently, the honorable member is a champion of misrepresentation.
– I do not wish to do the honorable member any injustice, but a few minutes ago he told us-
– That I disagreed with the course suggested, not that I disagreed with the suggestion.
– I misunderstood the honorable member. He does not resent any representations being made to the people of Australia by the Imperial Government in regard to Commonwealth legislation, even if those representations concern ourselves only, and do not affect other subjects of the King.
– Is that what he says ?
– That is what he has given us to understand.
– It is rather a strange doctrine to lay down.
– We have already been told during this debate that the people of Canada have made similar representations to the Imperial authorities.
– Upon several occasions.
– I intend to quote the reply to the representations which were made in 1882. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to read the motion which” was carried upon the occasion to which I refer
– No. it is ancient history.
– If it be ancient history to the honorable member, who has so intimate a knowledge of Orange lodges, I will not trespass upon- the time of the House by reading it; but will content myself with saying that it was similar in spirit ‘to that which is now widen consideration. In reply to those representations the following communication was received by the Canadian Government-
– What is the date of the reply?
– It is dated 12th June, 1882.
– There has been a very different reply since then.
– If so, I have not had the privilege of seeing it. Upon the 12th June, 1882, the following reply was addressed by the right honorable the Earl of Kimberley to the Marquis of Lorne, who was then Governor-General of Canada: -
My Lord -
I have received and laid before the Queen the Address to Her Majesty from the Senate and House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled, which was transmitted in your Lordship’s despatch of the 16th of May. I am commanded by Her Majesty to request that you will convey to the Senate and House of Commons her appreciation of the renewed expression of their unswerving loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty’s person and Government. Her Majesty will always gladly receive the advice of the Parliament of Canada on all matters relating, to the Dominion, and the administration of its affairs; but, with respect to the questions referred to in the Address, Her Majesty will, in accordance with the Constitution of this country, have regard to the advice of the Imperial Parliament and Ministers, to whom all matters relating to the affairs of the United Kingdom exclusively appertain.
– The Imperial authorities did not say that upon the second occasion.
– What did they say ?
– They did not administer a snub.
– Will the honorable member tell us what the Imperial authorities did say upon the occasion to which he refers?
– I have not got a copy of the communication here.
– The honorable member is very anxious to make it appear that another message was subsequently despatched, which put the matter in quite a different light; but if he has a copy of it, I challenge him to produce it and I shall now read it. In view of the snub which was administered to Canada, is it expedient for the Commonwealth to court a similar catastrophe ?
– A snub is not a catastrophe.
– It is not to the honorable member ! Even if by our interference we did not invite similar interference in our own affairs by other sections of the Empire, we should be laying ourselves open to a snub, which, in my opinion, would be most richly deserved. Under these circumstances it is most inexpedient that we should pass this motion. During the course of this debate we have been assured that all that is sought is “ a just measure ‘ ‘ of Home Rule for Ireland. We have also been told by the terms of the motion that that ‘ ‘ just measure ‘ ‘ of Home Rule is required to pacify the people of that country. Obviously, then, a “just” measure of Home Rule means a measure which will be satisfactory to the Irish people. Consequently it is to the nationalist opinion in Ireland that we must go to ascertain what is really meant by “Home Rule” for that country. In the first place, I desire to point out that Ireland is divided against itself upon this question. A very considerable section of its people are bitterly opposed to the establishment of a separate Parliament for that country. It is true that a majority desire Home Rule, but there is a very large minority who seem to fear that the granting of autonomy to Ireland may eventually affect its own very right to live. As a proof that this feeling is not entirely without justification, I wish to refer honorable members to a policy which is now regarded with universal favour by Irish Nationalists - the Sinn Fein policy, which aims a good deal in the direction indicated. In this connexion I wish to quote a few extracts from other papers reprinted in the Untied Irishman of 15th July of the present year, and apparently indorsed by that paper. The first reads as follows: -
Briefly, the Hungarian policy as applied to Ireland, or the Sinn Fein policy, as it is familiarly called, means for a beginning that all Irish elective bodies, county councils, &c, should be exclusively manned by earnest Nationalists. No position in the public service at all controlled by the local elective bodies will be given to pensioners or servants of the British Government.
According, then, to this authority, if Home Rule were granted to Ireland, nobody who is not a Nationalist would secure any office of trust in that country.
The Sinn Fein policy involves no oath of allegiance to England, no compromise of principle. It practically means resistance to English law,i where the parliamentarian policy meant compliance. It involves no acknowledgement of England’s claim to govern the country. It leaves England exposed to foreign nations. It does away with our real and most injurious connexion with England, which is through the English Parliament.
That, I think, advocates the establishment of a Parliament possessed of at least coordinate powers with that of the United Kingdom, although it has been constantly denied in this debate that such powers are sought. The next extract reads -
Priests and people will be united in this policy of constitutional resistance, for at a recent session of the Columbian Society, formed by the students of Maynooth, it was decided that the Sinn Fein policy is the policy for Ireland.
These are all extracts showing what action should be taken, in the opinion of the Nationalists, to bring about Home Rule for Ireland. It can hardly be said that opinions indorsed by a Nationalist newspaper are not fairly conclusive evidence of the state of national feeling in Ireland to-day. I shall now refer very briefly to observations with reference to boycotting, which were made by learned occupants of the Irish Bench. ‘ Lord Chief Justice O’Brien, when addressing the Grand J ury at the North Tipperary assizes on 3rd July last, complained that boycotting existed in certain districts, and that some few persons were actually refused the necessaries of life. Mr. Justice Kenny, addressing the Grand Jury at the Limerick assizes in July last, said that agrarian troubles in certain districts were on the increase, and that this “ cast a dark blot on the good name of the county.” Then, again, Mr. Justice Wright at the King’s County assizes, in the same month, said that “ it appeared as if there was a reign of terror over the district.” Lord Chief Justice O’Brien at the Clonmel assizes on 10th July last, in passing judgment on an arson charge - the plaintiff being what is locally known as “ a grabber” - referred to a speech bearing on the case delivered just previously by a member of the Imperial “Parliament, Mr. K. E. O’Brien, and said -
He did not think Mr. O’Brien contemplated outrage. He acquitted him of any such idea, but they had to consider the stimulating effect of such language on an excitable people.
Apparently, then, boycott and terrorization are now rife in Ireland. . If the fact that a very large minority of the people of Ireland are directly opposed to Home Rule - fearing that it may legalize this sort of thing - is not in itself sufficient to make us hesitate to obtrude our interference,, surely the demands of the leaders of the Irish Home Rule movement are couched in such terms that no loyal Colony - and Australia is certainly loyal - should support that which we are to-day asked to do. The honorable member for Dalley has already quoted extracts from speeches by Mr. Redmond, M.P., and Mr. Devlin. M.P., as well as from a celebrated speech delivered many years ago by the late Mr. Parnell. I propose to add to those quotations some others culled from recent speeches of other Nationalist leaders in Ireland at the present time. The first of these is a quotation from a letter written by Mr. T. O’Donnell, M.P., and published in the Freeman’s Journal, of 9th June last. The letter referred to a distinctly disloyal incident that had occurred at a conference of teachers held at Sligo. At this conference the chairman proposed to toast the King, but the teachers assembled trooped out of the room rather than give that toast which we, in Australia, at all events, are always glad to honor. Mr. O’Donnell’s letter is as follows: -
Loyalty to such a toast would mean loyalty to the slavery or banishment of our sons, to the impoverishment of our country, to the annihilation of our race, and such hypocrisy and meanness - “ Hypocrisy and meanness,” in toasting the King ! And yet Irishmen in this House are asseverating by this motion their loyalty to the same great Sovereign - no true Irishman could be guilty of.
Notwithstanding this we find the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, the honorable member for Coolgardie, and also the honorable member for Southern Melbourne - if he is really an Irishman - asseverating in the opening terms of this motion their loyalty to the King-
Loyalty to Ireland, as well as persistent and uncompromising opposition to the unconstitutional and ruinous rule of the foreigner, form the plain duty of Irishmen. We want those duties taught to our children. . . It is time for the Irish party to take up, at home here in Ireland, the question of the education of our children. The boy of to-day will be the man of to-morrow. We must see that he is not being trained a slave or a shoneen, but that his national instincts are fostered and encouraged. Thus, and thus only, can future national organizations become strong, being made up of the masses whose patriotism is fanned by knowledge.
I am perfectly satisfied that the great majority of teachers are thorough Irishmen, and that they certainly will not subscribe to the doctrine that the incident which occurred at Sligo is either “ regrettable “ or “ unpardonable.”
This was an open declaration by a Nationalist member that the paid servants of the State should misuse their trust to foster disloyalty in the growing generation. And yet we are told that these Nationalist members ask, not for separation, but only for some sort of subservient Parliament, to assure the peace and goodwill of the people of Ireland. Lord Oranmore and Browne referred to this Sligo incident in the House of Lords, and the Marquis of Londonderry, in reply, said -
The Commissioners of National Education in Ireland were considering the advisability of issuing a further circular to the teachers, reminding them of the terms of Rule 89 of their code of 1905, and of Rule 94 (3), which provided that the children were to be taught a spirit of obedience to the law and loyalty to the Sovereign, and to do nothing in or out of the school which might have the tendency to confine it to any denomination of children. He would impress it upon the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland to insist upon that paragraph being carried out.
It will thus be seen that this incident created considerable stir at the time, not only in Ireland, but in the Imperial Parliament. Mr. Patrick 0’Daly, the general secretary of the Gaelic League, at a meeting of the Dublin- Central Teachers’ Association, referred to the matter, and said -
We know the great power the teachers have in their hands. We know that they have the moulding of the minds of the young people in the country, and we know it is the business of the national teacher and his duty to the country to saturate the minds of the young people with true ideas of Irish nationality. That is his business as much as it is to teach them that two and two make four. The most important side of education was the National side.
Despite such statements as these, we are told by the supporters of the motion that such a thing as Irish nationhood is not demanded. We should hesitate before we hand- over the government of Ireland to people who hold these opinions - to persons who think that it is hypocritical and mean to show respect to the Sovereign of an Empire to whom we are proud to own allegiance - to the embodiment, if I may so put it, of the Anglo-Celtic nationhood. I wish ‘now to refer to an action recently taken by Mr. John Dillon, M.P., who. most people will admit, is a fairly prominent Nationalist. According to the Freeman1! Journal, he travelled specially from London in order to preside at a meeting in Dublin, on 3rd June of this year, at which a presentation was to be made to Mr Michael Lambert. The Freeman’s Journal, which is certainly a Nationalist organ, reports the proceedings at this meeting asfollows : -
On Saturday night last a number of friends and admirers of Michael Lambert, the man who made the key that opened the door of James Stephen’s cell in Richmond Prison, and restored him to freedom, presented him with a- handsome testimonial in memory of that great deed. Forty years have rolled by since the day on which the world was startled by the escape of the Fenian leader.
We learn from this that a prominent member of the House of Commons - a nationalist representative of Ireland - hastened to Dublin to render homage to a Fenian. This gentleman has taken the oath of allegiance just as have the framers of this motion, who are at the present time seeking to again asseverate their undying loyalty to the Empire, for whose good only, they tell us, they are urging that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland. Sir Thomas Esmonde, another Nationalist M.P., attended a mass meeting of nearly 20,000 people, at Enniscorthy, county Wexford, and, according to the Freeman’s Journal of 29th May, spoke as follows : -
We are the descendants of the rebels of ‘98. . . Their principles are our principles; their beliefs are our beliefs; their ideals are our ideals; and led by the inspiration which animated them, we declare that we will never submit to foreign rule in Ireland, and that we will never cease from struggling, by whatever means seems best to us -
Whether it be by sugar-coated motions in loyal Australia, or agrarian outrages in Ireland - until Ireland is free from the centre to the sea. This solemn pledge we renew to-day, and we pledge our faith once more by the memory of 98- .
Mr. Michael Davitt, another prominent member of the party, also spoke on that occasion, as follows: -
It was just 107 years ago to-day that the rebel peasants, pike in hand, stormed the enemy’s position in Enniscorthy”.
It is always “the enemy’s” position -
We are proud of the valour they displayed ; we reverence them for the lives they freely gave for Ireland ; we bless their names and memories, and we proclaim here to-day, on soil made holy by the sacrifices so nobly offered up for Irish freedom, our loyalty to the principles for which they battled, and to the cause in which they fell. The cause of rebellion ! The Lord Mayor of Dublin also spoke on that occasion - and may I again remind honorable members that these quotations are all taken from the Freeman’s Journal, a Nationalist paper, and consequently cannot Le said to be distorted. The Lord Mayor said -
It was a grand thing that such an immense crowd of people could come there from all counties ‘ in Leinster, and many other counties, to celebrate the memory of ‘gS, and he would be safe in saying that there was not a man there but would risk all that the men of ‘98 risked if the occasion required it.
This is the view of another fairly prominent Irishman, who, under Home Rule, would no doubt take a leading part in the government of Ireland. Mr. P. Byrne, chairman of the meeting, spoke as fol-i lows: -
All Ireland was proud of the heroic stand made for Ireland in that memorable year, and one of the objects of to-day’s meeting was to show that, although they rejoiced in reverencing the memory of the mighty dead, they never forgot the cause for which they died, and in which they to-day renewed their fealty. That cause was as much alive to-day as it was - and here we get the comic element - when Father Murphy raised the flag, at Boolavogue.
I say “ comic element,” because those words have a swing about them which reminds one of the refrain of a comic song. Mr. T. J. Condon, M.P.. speaking at a meeting of the United Irish League at Dualla, County Tipperary, is reported in a Nationalist newspaper - the Cork Examiner - of the 14th June last, to have said -
But so long as the British flag floated over Dublin Castle, they would never rest satisfied until they pulled it down, and in its place raised aloft the flag of Ireland.
He is another loyal supporter of the Imperial connexion who will help to govern Ireland, if the Imperial Parliament, yielding to the representations of this and other Parliaments of the Empire, grants to that country what the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is pleased to call “a just measure of Home Rule.” Mr. Thomas O’Connor, in moving a vote of sympathy on the death’ of Mr. J. F. X. O’Brien, M.P., is reported to have spoken as follows: -
It was not necessary for him to tell what part James F. X. ‘O’Brien took in the ‘67 movement. He, as they knew, stood in the dock for one of the noblest acts that an Irishman could be guilty of - he appeared in open arms against Her Majesty the Queen.
That is another sample of the loyalty of the friends of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and the honorable member for Coolgardie. Major MacBride, another of these loyalists, to whom so many generous references have been made, speaking at the graveside of Wolfe Tone, is reported in the Freeman’s Journal of the 10th July last to have said -
Here by the grave of Tone he asked them to solemnly renew their vow of allegiance, and to promise that as long as God gave them health and strength they would never cease working until they had ousted foreign rule from Ireland. They had often been accused of foolishly urging on the country the necessity of appeals to arms. That- was not true. They had lamented, and still lamented, the waste of Irish money upon the parliamentary movement, the cost of elec-, lions, useless law expenses, and so on. Their contention was this, that if this countless wealth, which was thrown away from O’Connor’s time to our own time, were employed in maintaining what was left of our industries, and placing arms in the hands of the young Irishmen when an occision like the Boer war arose, they in Ireland would be in a position to add a new Republic 10 the Republics of the West.
Yet, we are told that these gentlemen are anxious to honour and maintain the Imperial connexion ! Mr. William O’Brien, M.P., writing to a Manchester correspondent on his policy of conciliator), said -
It is really too absurd to reply seriously to the grotesque accusation that my policy is to hand over the government of Ireland to th-j landlords. It only shows to what silly lengths my calumniators go. Of course, what “my policy really means is to abolish the landlords as landlords altogether, and to welcome only those ex-landlords who are willing to join us in handing over the government of Ireland to an Irish Parliament. All this will be clear enough by-and-by.
They are going to have only such landlords as will do the will of the Nationalist Party in Ireland; and “all this,” he tells us, “ will be clear enough by-and-by.” These statements only too strongly emphasize the need for the caution of the people of the northern part of Ireland which they evidence when they so strongly oppose the granting of that “ just measure of Home Rule “ which some honorable members are so desirous to see given. If the Imperial Parliament is foolish enough to grant Home Rule to Ireland before the leaders of nationalist opinion in that country have shown a different spirit’ in regard to the Imperial connexion, “ all this will be clear enough byandby.” I have put before the House the views of the Nationalist leaders of Ireland, and the quotations which I have read make it plain that the only measure of Home Rule which will satisfy them is complete separation from England - complete local autonomy in all regards, even to the extent of making Ireland a separate nation. By this motion the Parliament of the Commonwealth is being asked to interfere in a matter which does not concern it. It is desired that we shall request the Imperial Parliament to hand over the Government of Ireland to persons who are obviously disloyalists and separationists, who, at the present time, illegally maltreat to their hearts’ content the large loyalist minority, and will legalize this boycotting and terrorization if they are given this “ just measure of Home Rule” which is asked for. If Ireland is handed over to these gentry, we cannot be sure, in view of their statements, that if England ever has to fight for her existence against the armed might of Europe, she may not receive from them a stab in the back.
– England is more likely to receive injuries from Ireland as things are at present. Bismarck said that the state of Ireland was England’s weakness.
– Why put Ireland under the rule of those who have expressed nothing but loathing and hatred for England, the Empire, and all connected with it, and who speak of the people of England as foreigners? To do so, since it means placing arms in their hands, would be madness. I have already stated my belief in the innate loyalty of the Irish character. I do not accuse all who support the Nationalist Party of the disloyalty which attaches to their leaders. I hope I know more of the race from which I am proud to have sprung, than not to be aware that it is characterized by a loyal temperament, and a generosity of heart which only its excitability may cause to go to ungenerous lengths. But agitators - the nationalist leaders - have for generations past been painting most gloomy pictures of Ireland’s sad history. The maltreatment of the people of that country in bygone centuries is enough to makeone’s blood boil, and these pictures have so worked on the generous imagination of the Irish people that their judgment has at last become impaired, so that they fail to recognise that the English Governments of the present day are not responsible for the state of affairs which prevailed in the past, and that Ireland’s true interests are now indissolubly bound up with those of the Empire. We know that the Irish people are faithful to the ideals and aspirations of the Empire, and that some of our most gifted Empire builders have come from Ireland. Some of the greatest minds at the service of the Empire to-day have sprung from the Irish race. But they have had the common sense to recognise that the “ dead past must bury its dead,” and that in the present times all should work together for the common weal. This House should do nothing to hand over Ireland to the government, not of the Irish people, but of a few agitators who, by their glibness of speech, and oratorical gifts, have led away a great part of the Irish public from a true conception of their interests. I am desirous that honorable members shallrange themselves on one side or the other in regard to this question, and I hope that every honorable member will vote upon the motion. Any honorable member who dare not do so will prove himself to be even meaner than he who for political purposes votes in opposition to his private belief. That, I believe, is the course which will be taken by the Labour Party, whose members. I understand, will vote solidly for the granting of Home Rule to Ireland. But I warn all who may be ready to take advantage of the facilities offered by our ill-used bathrooms to hide themselves when the division bells begin to ring, because they have not the courage to record their votes on this question, that, by so doing, they will not give satisfaction to either party in this country to whom this motion is of peculiar interest. I regret that the motion was ever brought forward, but now that it has been discussed, it is the duty of every honorable member to vote upon it. Even if it be agreed to, as I believe it may be, unless we have a full House, the vote will be no true indication of the feelings and opinion of the people of the Commonwealth upon this subject. They, if they had the chance would refuse to give us a mandate to interfere with the Imperial Parliament in the exercise of its self-governing powers. If the Prime Minister sees fit, because of political considerations, to throw in his lot with the Labour Party and the Home Rulers-
– It is very unworthy for any one to say thatthe Prime Minister is, ‘for political purposes, going to vote for the motion.
– I do not think that the honorable member knows how I am going to vote.
– The honorable and learned member must be singularly ignorant of what is going to happen to his motion, for I and many others know how the Prime Minister is going to vote, and I have a right to place my own interpretation upon his conduct. I know that the country will not fail to do so.
– The honorable member is attributing an unworthy motive to the P-rime Minister.
– If the Prime Minister throws in his lot with the Labour Party and the Home Rulers, his constituents and the people of the Commonwealth will know what to think of him, and of those with whom he is associated.
– Unfortunately a great deal of religious and racial feeling has in times past been imported into the discussion of the question of Home Rule for Ireland, which has not received that fair consideration to which it is entitled at the hands of thoughtful men. In this respect, however, a marked improvement has taken place within recent years, and, although some traces of the old bitterness remain, there has been a gradual evolution in the direction of according fairer treatment to the people of Ireland. As honorable members know, some years ago the mere fact that a person belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, constituted a bar to the exercise of civil rights. This unjust provision gave rise to a great deal of bitterness on the part of those who were the subjects of the embargo. After considerable agitation, the full rights of citizenship were conceded to Roman Catholics, and, although the opponents of the reform predicted that its achievement would be followed by most disastrous results, its main effect has been to cement the union of the English and Irish races, and to make it stronger than before. A similar result has ensued from the disestablishment of the Irish Church. The Irish people were called upon to contribute to the support of a Church to which they were antagonistic, but after they had endured this injustice for a considerable time, the good sense of the British Parliament prevailed, and, despite all the evil predictions by extreme opponents of the movement, the relief afforded to the people of Ireland had the effect of strengthening the bonds of Empire. With regard to the question whether the people of Ireland should have a more direct voice in the legislation specially relating to that country, I- wish to clearly indicate my position. I have been a student of British politics for about thirty years, during which time I have watched closely the trend of events. I have for some time held the view that the great Imperial Parliament, which we all admire, and which contains some of the best and most capable men of our race, has to devote so much of its time to matters affecting the relations of Great Britain to other nations, and to other Imperial subjects, that purely domestic legislation has not received the attention to which it has been entitled. It has been impressed very strongly upon me that the difficulty which is now pressing on the people of Scotland and Ireland, and even of England and Wales, owing to the backwardness of domestic legislation, might be overcome by establishing in each of those countries Parliaments charged with the duty of looking after domestic matters, and by leaving the Imperial Parliament to deal with purely Imperial questions, which, in themselves, would be sufficient to occupy its attention. I do not, in this connexion consider only the needs of Ireland. I have in view the necessities of other parts of the United Kingdom! I believe that by creating legislative machinery for the purpose of dealing with purely domestic matters a great improvement might be effected, and that what would be good for Ireland would also confer benefit upon Scotland.
– Scotland does not want Home Rule.
– If the honorable member were to investigate the matter, he would find that a large number of people in Scotland desire that the principle of Home Rule should be extended to that country. The British Parliament has so far recognised its inability to effectively meet the pressing demands of the people in regard to domestic legislation that it has conferred upon County Councils and other municipal bodies much greater powers than we in this democratic land would dream of intrusting to such institutions. This reform has, to a large extent, met the needs of Scotland and Ireland, as well as of England. In the large centres of population in the three countries the municipal bodies have been exercising functions such as are intrusted by us to our States Parliaments. This is particularly so in the case of London and Glasgow. In fact, if our States Governments attempted to proceed to the lengths to which some of the municipal bodies have gone the antiSocialists amongst us would receive a shock from which they would not speedily recover. The experience gained in connexion with these municipal bodies has led, not to the restriction, but rather to thi enlargement of their powers, because their intervention has been of a purely benevolent character. It has not been in the direction of protecting the interests of the few to the detriment of the masses, but the aim has been to improve the condition of the people, who have been unable to help themselves owing to the adverse influences exerted by their environment. The work of the local governing bodies has, in fact, been of a most beneficent character. The Imperial Parliament has, in the manner indicated, been relieved of a considerable amount of the work which it would otherwise have been called upon to discharge, but with which it wouldhave found it difficult to deal owing to the extent to which matters of Imperial importance monopolize attention. The question we now have to consider is the extent to which this wonderful development of local government will prove adequate to meet the necessities of the case. Whilst the local governing bodies are able to exercise a great influence within their own immediate spheres of operation, many questions relating to the interests of the people as a whole, and quite beyond the scope of any local organisation, demand attention from time to time. In such matters it is necessary at present to appeal to the Imperial Parliament, which,as I have said, finds it difficult to devote sufficient time to the discussion of domestic legislation. The principle of local government has been extended to Ireland with markedbenefit, and the experience gained there has furnished a satisfactory reply to the objections that have from time to time been raised that the people of Ireland are not to be trusted with self-governing powers. So far, the people of Ireland have shown not only that they possess the ability to govern themselves, but that they can be relied upon to wisely exercise any such powers which may be conferred upon them. That is a fair indication that wider powers would be handled in the same way by the Irish people. I have no sympathy with the suggestion that Irishmen are not to be trusted to do justice to themselves, and that therefore it would be unwise to arm them with large self-governing powers. The Empire itself owes a deep debt of gratitude to the Irish people for the administrative ability which has been drawn from their ranks. Amongst those who have contributed to Britain’s greatness must be numbered many leading Irishmen who have rendered yeoman service in various parts of the Empire, and at the principal centre of government itself. In view of that fact it is unreasonable to urge that Irishmen are not to be trusted with powers of self-government, and that their loyalty cannot be relied upon. The honorable member for Wentworth laid considerable stress upon that aspect of the case. He quoted a number of extracts from newspapers in support of his contention that the professions of loyalty on the part of leading Irish representative men concealed a deep-seated disloyalty, that would find expression upon the first convenient opportunity. I claim that, whilst upon either side a few individuals may go to extremes, the true position is not to be judged by the views which they enunciate. Ireland has given undoubted evidence of her loyalty to the British Empire through her politicians, who have taken a leading part in the administration of the various self-governing colonies, and in that of the centre of the Empire itself, and also through many men who have distinguished themselves in the British army and navy. Irishmen have ever responded to the call of the Empire, and have manfully borne their share of defending and extending its bounds. Because a few individuals - probably labouring under a deep sense of injustice - have chosen to adopt an extreme attitude, is the whole nation to be judged by their utterances? I will not allow my opinions to be warped by the extreme statements, either of those who are super-loyal, or of those who are disloyal. I am content to judge by results, and those results compel me to the belief that the Irish people, as a whole, are prepared to loyally work for the upbuilding of the Empire. What they ask for, in respect of larger powers of selfgovernment, is a bare act of justice. It is because I recognise the advantage of giving them those powers that I favour this proposition. I support it, not merely because I desire to see a complete measure of autonomy granted to Ireland, but because I wish to confer upon other parts of the United Kingdom, whose needs are quite as imperative as are those of Ireland itself, a similar boon. If we were asked to grant a separate Parliament to Ireland for the purpose of completely separating that country from the Empire, I should say distinctly that I did not favour such a proposal. I believe that the best interests of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and those of England itself, find expression in the union which has been (effected. That union) should be maintained for the general advantage of their people. Whilst it is true that it has not been without blemish, I claim that the advantages conferred by it more than counterbalance any injustices which may have been perpetrated under it. I repeat that no movement on the part of Ireland or Scotland, in the direction of separation from the mother country, would receive any support from me. But the motion which is under consideration does not aim at that result. It simply requests that a greater measure of self-government should be extended to Ireland.
– Some of the speeches which have been made in support of it go much further.
– I have not heard those speeches, although I have been present during nearly the whole of the debate. I am not prepared to do an injustice because some individuals who, upon this question, entertain views similar to my own adopt an extreme course. If they push their ex- ‘treme views to an issue they will find that I am in opposition to them. There was ‘ one point in the address of the leader of the Opposition which appealed very strongly to me. I do not share the view that we are not even remotely interested in the affairs of the Empire, and that we should leave all matters which immediately relate to the Home Government severely alone. I say that we have a right to express our opinions in a respectful way. At the same time, I think we ought to be careful how we exercise that right. We ought not to exercise it needlessly, but only upon occasions when there is some justification for so doing. I claim that we had a right to approach the Home Government in regard to the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa. Indeed, in my opinion, it was our duty to act as we did, because, bysending troops to assist the Imperial authorities during the Boer war, the condition of affairs which had previously obtained in South Africa under the rule of Mr. Kruger and the President of the Orange Rivet Free State had been completely altered. Thus, whilst I agree with the leader of the Opposition that we should not unduly interfere in British politics - especially at a time when they are likely to assume an acute form - I say that upon the question of Home Rule for Ireland’ we do not intervene on those lines. By the terms of the motion under discussion we are merely invited to express our appreciation of the benefits that would attend an extension of the powers of local government, with which the British Parlia-ment has seen fit to endow a number of its possessions. We are simply asked to affirm, as the result of our own experience, that if a wider measure of local government were extended fo Ireland the British people would benefit thereby, and the stability of the Empire would be strengthened. In making that affirmation we should not be exceeding our legitimate functions. If we were invited to take an active part in influencing opinions in the old country - which is primarily concerned in this matter - I should not be prepared to support the proposal, and I should be at one with the leader of the Opposition in deprecating any such interference. In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Wentworth declared that the Labour Party would vote solidly upon this question. I am a member of that party, and if it is going to record a solid vote upon this motion the honorable member knows more than I do. . As a matter of fact, the question has never been discussed by members of the Labour Party. I have not been approached by a single individual as to the attitude which I would adopt towards this motion. It cannot be said that Home Rule for Ireland is part and parcel of the politics of the Labour Party, for the party, as such, has no more considered the question than has any other section of the House. There is one sentence of the motion which ought certainly to be deleted. I refer to the words -
But the sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland.
I admit that since the Act of Union Ireland has, perhaps, suffered greater injustice than has any other part of the British Empire. The desires and aspirations of its people have undoubtedly been misunderstood, and religious bias and racial feeling have certainly led fo the perpetration of injustice. But, whilst this is so, I realize that the great body of British electors outside Ireland - and even many British politicians, in whose hands the destinies pf the Empire largely rest to-day - recognise the grievances of the Irish people, and are prepared “to attempt to redress them. I do not admit that ‘future British Parliaments are likely to be less ready to do justice to the Irish people than is the Parliament of to-day. Unfortunately, it has not been, and is not now, a thoroughly democratic Parliament in the sense that we understand the term. The English Constitution provides for a Parliament one of the Houses of which consists of men who, by reason only of their birth, are called upon to legislate. These men belong to the great landed classes, and, naturally, their numbers are being augmented from time to time by the wealthy sections of the community. They are class representatives pure and simple, and voice the opinions of only a very small section of the people. Notwithstanding this fact, their right of veto is such that- they can practically block all legislation, and it is only when the breaking-point is reached that they recognise that discretion is the better part of valour, and give way to the House of Commons. The House of Commons is not nearly so democratic as are a number of the Legislatures of Australia. In the first place, there is an inequality of electorates. Some of the electorates comprise very large populations, while others embrace but a small number of electors. In these circumstances, there can be no equality of voting power. Another point is that a large section of the British people are not qualified under the electoral law to exercise the franchise. The whole of the female portion of the community is excluded from that privilege. Nevertheless the House of Commons is becoming more and more’ democratic. Fuller expression is being given to, the opinions of “the people, and- as the evolutionary tendencies of democracy extend the British Parliament must become more and more a reflex of the views of the whole people. Having regard fo all these facts, it seems to me to be probable that before very long the Parliament will more truly represent the desires of the people of the United Kingdom than it does at the present time. I trust that the mover of the motion will agree to the deletion of the words I have mentioned, and, in order to lest the matter, I Leg to move -
That the words “ But the sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland,” be left out.
– I would remind the honorable member that there is already anamendment before the Chair to omit all the -words after the word “ That,” line i.
Until that amendment has been dealt with I cannot receive that which the honorable member has just submitted.
– I desire, sir, to intimate that at the proper time I shall move that the words I have read be left out.
– I shall take care, when putting the motion, that the honorable member for Canobolas is not prevented from moving his amendment.
– In the course of his speech, the honorable member for Canobolas said that the subject of the motion was one that could not well be dissociated from religious considerations. Every British subject is entitled to hold whatever religious views he pleases, and in my opinion every man should have the right to give free expression to his religious beliefs. A man’s religion should be sacred to him. It cannot be said that the views expressed in the motion are those held by the people of the Commonwealth. They may represent the opinion of some honorable members, but it cannot be denied that the question of Home Rule has never been submitted to the people. The subject is one that has been discussed again and again in the British Parliament, and has led to the defeat of more than one Ministry. It is likely to come prominently before the people at the approaching general elections in Great Britain, for we may be sure that the Nationalist Party will take care that it is not allowed to remain in the background. It would be just as reasonable for the British Parliament, at a time when the Tariff Commission is taking evidence with regard to the fiscal issue, to send a message to this Legislature- requesting us to give a greater measure of free-trade to the people, as.it would be for us to request the British Parliament to grant a measure of Home Rule to Ireland. We know that there is much dissatisfaction in New South Wales with reference to the delay in determining the site of the Federal Capital, and! I should like to know what honorable members would say if .the British Parliament sent a message requesting us to establish the Federal Capital where the people of that State desire it. If such a message were received, I am sure that the House would ignore it, just as the British Parliament has from time to time ignored messages sent to it by the Parliaments of the Commonwealth.
– They did not ignore the message sent intimating our willingness to despatch’ troops to South Africa.
– We took that action of our own free will. It is true that many people were opposed 4 to it, and I should like to know whether the honorable and learned member was iri favour of the sending of troops to South Africa. That is an awkward question for him to answer. It is a well-known fact that the difference of opinion with regard to the question of Home Rule has led to the disruption, of the great liberal party in England. That party has never recovered from the blow dealt it by Mr. Gladstone’s proposal to grant Home Rule to Ireland. Mr. Chamberlain regarded the proposal as one that was likely to lead to the destruction of the Empire, and rather than support it he severed his connexion with the liberal party. The late Lord Salisbury, in the course of a speech a few years ago, .also said that 2,000,000 of -Her Majesty’s subjects in Ireland were opposed to Home Rule. Considering that these are the views of men who have guided the affairs of the nation, it would ill become us to transmit such a message as this to the British Parliament in the absence of any mandate from the people of Australia. The late Lord Randolph Churchill took a great interest in the question of Home Rule, and, as the result of a tour which he made through Ireland, declared that if it were conceded there would be bloodshed there. He found, in the course of his tour through the country, that the desire was not so much for local government as for an independent Parliament that would lead ultimately to separation. The honorable member for Canobolas referred to the position of Scotland, but no one can say that any demand has been made either by the people of Scotland or of Wales for Home Rule. If each were granted a measure of Home Rule, the United Kingdom would be disrupted, and would soon be a thing of the past. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who; in submitting the motion, put his case very fairly, declared that “ England does not understand Ireland.” It seems to me, however, that Ireland does not understand England. She has never done so; she has never recognised that the whole history of England for the last 1,000 years is one long record of a sturdy fight for freedom. The English people fought for freedom throughout the days of the Tudors and the Stuarts, and those tyrants were consumed in the flames of liberty. England has been the beacon light of freedom to other nations, and has always been in the van of liberty. Ireland will never truly understand her until she recognises that the people of that land sympathize with her, and are anxious to do all they can to make her a happy and prosperous community. The great cause of the Irish trouble is that Ireland was conquered and subdued by England, the Saxon placing his foot upon the neck of the Celt. Nothing will ever satisfy the Irish until they get separation. It is more than local self-government for which they ask; they wish to be separated from the Empire, and to become a distinct nation. But the Nationalist party in Ireland has lost one of its chief supporters. The Methodist, a great and influential organ of the Non-Conformist party in England, used to advocate the claims of Home Rule, and, when the education question was before the Imperial Parliament, asked the Nationalists to protect the NonConformists from being compelled to pay for the support of denominational schools, in which they did not believe. The Nationalists, however, ‘refused their. assistance, and therefore this great organ, and the section which it represents, wiped their hands of Home Rule, and would have nothing to do with people who were so selfish as to refuse to stand by their friends. Ireland does not understand England. For the last twenty or thirty years England has been trying in every way to pacify Ireland. To-day the Irish land laws are more liberal and more generous to the tenants than any others on the face of the earth. No landlord in Ireland can raise his rent of his own motion; he must have it appraised by arbitration. The Imperial Parliament has lately voted ,£112,000,000 to enable the Irish peasants to become their own landlords; but Mr. Redmond, when out here, while admitting that Ireland has the best land laws in the world, said that the people of Ireland would not be satisfied with what had been done for them, because they wish to govern themselves. I object to the slur thai has been cast on the name of Irishmen by some who have spoken, and seem to think that Irishmen cannot be trusted. They have proved themselves worthy of trust, and I am proud to be the son of an Irishman. But Ireland’s hatred and bitterness against England is being fomented by agitators. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne sneered at a large section of the people of Ireland. He spoke about the Orangemen, and about a vile oath which he said they had to take. He can never have read the Orange oath. If he had he would not have spoken in that way. I am an Orangeman, and am not ashamed of the fact.. My obligations as an Orangeman bind me to act as a loyal subject of the King for the preservation of the Protestant line on the English throne. It is an Orangeman’s duty to see that the constitutional monarchy of England is supported as by law established. But an Orangeman should feel no bitterness towards his Roman Catholic brethren.
– They do.
– True Orangemen do not. They would see that Roman Catholics, as well as other people, had their rights. There may be unworthy Orangemen, as there are unworthy Presbyterians ; but there should be no bitterness in the hearts of Orangemen against those who differ from them on questions of religion. One great reason why I am opposed to the granting of Home Rule to Ireland is that a great number of my co-religionists there are opposed to it. Why should I try to fasten on them a system of government of which they disapprove? I should be unworthy of the name of Protestant if I did so. The sooner we have a vote on this motion the better ; but I shall find no fault with honorable members for speaking or voting in regard to it as they think fit.
– I was in New York many years ago, when Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Dillon escaped from Kilmainham Gaol, and I remember Governor Hill receiving them, and the terrible speeches which were made against England. The people of New York were worked up into a perfect flame of excitement over the matter, until, not only Irishmen, but Germans, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and even Englishmen felt bitterly towards that country.
– That sort of excitement is worked up in America before every presidential election.
– Honorable members opposite are continually speaking of the desirability of an alliance with the United States, so that this country may have the assistance of the foremost civilized nation on God’s green earth in the days of its troubles and misfortunes; but it would be easier to gain the friendship of savages than to win that country over, so long as we refuse to do justice to the land which gave birth to about 20,000,000 of its foremost citizens. I am for Home Rule for Ireland, not because I have suffered injustice from England, but because I think there will never be any hope for Great Britain until every element within the Empire is satisfied. We can never be a firm nation until that happens. Many years ago, Bismarck, speaking to an American about the probability of England controlling the Continent, as she controlled it after the defeat of Napoleon, said, “ England is a nation of the past. She never can again have a voice in the management of Continental Europe while she has a dissatisfied and rebellious Ireland at her door.”
– England has the biggest voice to-day in European affairs.
– There- are only 4,000,000 people in Ireland, so that if they were given Home Rule, and proved unfit to govern themselves, rebelling against England, the 4,000,000 Scotch and the 40,000,000 Englishmen and Welshmen would be able to surround the country with their ships and blow it into the sea.
– We do not wish to do that.
– If Ireland is not fit to govern herself, her people will start to fight until, like the Kilkenny cats, there is nothing left but their tails. Thenwe can repopulate the place.
– Is that the object of the motion ?
– Do honorable members mean to contend that although Irishmen are capable of governing England. Scotland, Wales, Australia, Canada, and the United States, they are not capable of governing Ireland? When the English soldiers were sent to South Africa they proved to be rank failures, until an Irishman was set at the head of them. The Empire exists for the sake of the Irish. God sent them into the world to rule it, and they are going to rule it. Ireland is poor and England is rich ; Ireland has produce to sell, and England has money with which to buy it. England wants the produce and Ireland wants the money ; Ireland is willing to supply England, and England is willing to take her supplies from Ireland. These things being so, it is preposterous, in this age of intelligence, to talk of Ireland wishing to separate from the British Empire.
She does not wish to do that. A few years ago, Canada rebelled against England. Why? Because England was not doing her justice. But since Canada has had the right of self-government, there has been no rebellion, and that country is to-day one of the happiest and most prosperous in the Empire. Canada would have seceded from the Empire, as the United States did, if she had been treated as some honorable members wish to treat the Irish people. I am for Home Rule because I wish to make the Empire strong. The representatives of New South Wales, who seem to be poisoned with parochialism, would rise up from the shades and shadows of the shark-ridden harbor of that country if Victoria attempted to govern it, and would come across the frontier with an army 20,000 strong. I wish to see an Empire created which will live for ever; but, to secure that, no portion of it must be allowed to remain dissatisfied. Make every part happy, and let each people rule themselves. We have heard a great deal to the effect that there is in Ireland a section_who do not desire Home Rule. I honestly believe that, if Home Rule is granted, that section will govern Ireland. There has been only one Roman Catholic leader there - Daniel O’- Connell. All the other great men of Ireland have been Protestants. I wish that a great meeting of Orangemen and Roman Catholics could be convened, because I believe that, if Protestants and Catholics could be brought together to talk matters over, they would ‘in the end shake hands and have a good time, as the Russian and Japanese plenipotentiaries have had in America. When they were first introduced by President Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, they would hardly speak; but, after the terms of peace had been agreed upon, they shook hands, and kissed each other, and had a grand time, each discovering that the other was not a bacl fellow after all. I believe that if the Right Worshipful Grandmaster of the Loyal Orange Institution and Archbishop Carr and Cardinal Moran were brought together, thev would have a good time. They would find that there was very little, difference between them - a difference so slight that it could, easily be ignored. I shall vote for the motion, because I believe that if Home Rule be granted to Ireland, it will tend to perpetuate the British Empire. We all know, from our reading of history, that
Rome rose to a glorious pre-eminence only to totter and fall into the ocean of oblivion. Her downfall was brought about by the same human frailty that is now threatening to wreck the British Empire - her failure to do justice to some of the people under her sway. When her subjects flocked to other nations, they husbanded their forces until they were able to turn and rend their former conquerors. When the American war was over Home Rule was refused to some of the southern States, which were governed from Washington, but the people organized their Kuklux clans, their Nightboys, their Moonshiners, their Sevenhill Butchers, their Kentucky Fliers, and their Vigilance Committees, and nearly every night some of the leading men from the north were shot in the south. When President Hayes was elected, in 1876, he gave Home Rule to the southern States, some of which are now the most loyal in the American Union. If you satisfy the people that you trust them, and have faith in them, they will respond, but if you always watch them, and charge them with disloyalty, you will arouse every sentiment of manhood in them, and as soon as they can they will turn and rend you. I shall vote for Home Rule.
– I have no desire to speak at any length, nor would I have spoken at all but for some remarks which have fallen from other honorable members. I do not propose to deal with the merits of the question of Home Rule in the abstract. That is a large subject, and its discussion would occupy too much time. _ Moreover, it is not necessary to deal with it in order to discuss the motion from my point of view. It seems to me that the terms in which it is couched are objectionable. It must be remembered that it is proposed to send forth from this House an expression of opinion, not from a single individual, but from a deliberative and responsible assembly - the assembly which speaks with the authoritative voice of the Austraiian Commonwealth. Therefore, we should first pay regard to the question whether a motion of this kind can, with propriety, be tabled ; and, secondly, the wording of the resolution should be very carefully considered. It will be found that the resolution contains a charge of injustice against the Imperial Legislature. That is a most serious matter, and, in itself, would afford sufficient reason to induce me to vote against it. The second paragraph of the motion reads as follows : -
We have observed with feelings of profound satisfaction the evidence afforded by recent legislation and recent debates in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom of a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland.
An. ordinary reader would at once interpret those words as meaning that only recent legislation and recent debates had evidenced any desire on the part of the British Parliament to deal justly with Ireland. That interpretation is emphasized by the inclusion of the word “ now “ in the phrase, “ a sincere desire now to deal justly with Ireland.” That implies that hitherto there has been no such desire. It appears to me that the statement conveys a deliberate and direct insult to the British Parliament, and I am surprised that any honorable member should have had the audacity to submit a motion couched in such objectionable terms, and implying such charges. If the British Parliament passed a resolution, of this character, dealing with some legislation within the special domain of the Commonwealth, and such a resolution were officially conveyed to us, we should not only resent it, but we should be fully justified in doing so.
– Should we not deal courteously with any message we might receive from the British Parliament?
– Yes; if it dealt legitimately with a matter within the purview of the Imperial Parliament. Such a message as that embodied in the resolution now before us would not, however, deserve a courteous reception, because it conveys an insult. It states, by inference, that the Imperial Parliament has dealt unjustly, and has always desired to deal unjustly, with Ireland. I submit that there is no justification for any such statement. Although many regrettable mistakes have been made in the past in connexion with legislation dealing with Irish affairs, they have not been due to deliberate attempts on the part of the British Parliament to deal unjustly with Ireland, but have arisen from misconception, or from misunderstandings of one. kind or another. I think it would be unwise, as well as discourteous, to pass such a resolution as that before us. The motion proceeds - and in particular we congratulate the people of the United Kingdom on the remarkable Act directed towards the settlement of the land question -
I do not see any cause for congratulation* so far as the people of the United Kingdom are concerned. That measure may have been designed with the very best intentions, but I feel sure that it will not bring about the desired results. We might very well congratulate the landlords upon the passing of such an Act, but the people of the United Kingdom have no cause to feel particularly elated.
– Will it not do any good to the people?
– I do not think it will do any good to the people of the United Kingdom, although it will, no doubt, benefit the landlords of Ireland. The motion proceeds - and on the concession to the people of Ireland of a measure of local government for municipal purposes -
Certainly that is a matter regarding which we may cordially express our congratulations. The next sentence, however, reads as follows: - but the sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic or social conditions of Ireland.
That is a sweeping charge against the British Parliament, for which there is no justification. Although mistakes have been made in the past, I believe that the British Parliament is perfectly capable of understanding and effectively dealing with the economic and social conditions of Ireland, or of any other part of the Empire over which it has jurisdiction. It would be a gross impertinence on the part of this Parliament to attempt to interfere in legislation which is solely within the sphere of khe Imperial Parliament. Every honorable member of this House would resent any attempt on the part of the British Parliament to interfere .with, matters of Commonwealth concern, over which we have direct control, and I decline to become a party to the passing of any resolution which might result in our receiving a well-deserved snub at the hands of the Imperial Parliament. The sentence which I have last quoted, clearly points to the fact that it isnot Home Rule for Ireland in the sense of local self-government, but separation, that is desired by those responsible for the motion. I am supported in that belief by the remarks of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne. The honorable member for Canobolas, in response to an interjection on my part to the effect that separation was desired, said that he had not noticed anything that would suggest that idea, and he said further that he was absolutely opposed to separation. I would direct his attention to the remarks made by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, reported at page 1793 of Hansard, as follows : -
The most effective way of bringing about Imperial separation is by insisting, in certain circumstances, upon legislative union. On the other hand, the best way to make a lasting and true Imperial union is to grant legislative separation. The experience of the world proves that.
– It has been denied that legislative separation only is sought for.
Later on the honorable member for Southern Melbourne said : -
The best way in which to bring about Imperial union is to grant legislative separation. Any man who chooses to seriously consider this great problem will find that the history of the world demonstrates the truth of my statement. Those who cavil at it are flying in the face of all history. I repeat that the surest way to Imperial union is through legislative separation.
These remarks clearly convey the impression that what is really desired by those who favour Home Rule for Ireland is separation from the mother country.
– The honorable member for Southern Melbourne is not a separationist.
– I have quoted from his speech. On page 1795 of Hansard, the honorable member makes a further reference to this matter. He says : -
We desire an Anglo-Celtic Federation - a union with America - which is bound to come.
– The honorable member wishes to see the two peoples separate in order that they may unite.
– That is a most peculiar position to take up.
– I will show that it is a scientific attitude.
– The honorable member wishes Ireland and England to go to the National Divorce Court in order to be re-married.
– That is really the situation.
A little later the honorable member said : -
The proposal now before the House is really one to tear up the paper of union in order to accomplish a union of interests and of hearts which will last for all time.
– Is that not possible under existing conditions?
– Then it will never exist.
– I have said that there must be a breaking up process before a real union can be reached.
These quotations serve to show that the controlling idea in the minds of some honorable members who desire to see Home Rule granted to Ireland is to bring about separation from the Imperial union. The osten sible reason advanced by them is that it is necessary to break up a union that already exists, for the purpose of establishing another union. I maintain that such a contention is puerile.
– That is not the contention of the leaders of the Home Rule movement.
– I am speaking only of the views which have been expressed by some honorable members in this House.
– I do not think that the honorable member has correctly interpreted the speech of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne.
– I endeavoured to ascertain his actual meaning when he was addressing the House, and in answer to my interjection hestated that there should be a divorce between Ireland and England for the purpose of enabling them to be remarried. That is a singular attitude to adopt. If two parties are satisfied with each other there is no need for a divorce. Whenever a divorce becomes necessary, there must be dissatisfaction between the parties who are directly interested. Under these circumstances I must assume that the basic object of this motion is to assist in bringing about a separation between Ireland and the mother country. I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of Home Rule at the present moment. I submit that to carry this motion would be an impertinence on the part of the House. If similar action were taken By the British Parliament in respect to any matter under the control of the Commonwealth, I am confident that it would be justly resented by us. I support the amendment of the leader of the Opposition. His proposal puts in diplomatic language the sentiments which I hold, and to which I have endeavoured to give expression in the brief time at my disposal. Should that amendment be defeated, I am certainly of opinion that there will still remain plenty of room for further amendment of the motion, and I shall move in the direction of having the word “ now,” line 15, deleted. The inclusion of that word conveys an imputation of injustice which is not warranted, and to which - even if it were warranted - it would not be good taste upon our part to give expression. Further, it does not come within our province as a Legislature to express such an opinion, nor to interfere uninvited with legislative matters solely within the province of the British Parliament, and not affecting the Australian Commonwealth or its interests.
– I did not intend to address myself to this question, and should not have done so had a division upon it been taken earlier. I dissent from the view expressed by the last speaker, that Home Rule is synonymous with separation from the Imperial Union.. As a Home Ruler and a follower of the late Mr. Gladstone, I should have been very glad to see Ireland granted a complete measure of autonomy in his day. Undoubtedly Home Rule would have been carried then had it not been for the action of the renegade Mr. Joseph Chamberlain.
– The honorable member’s party supports Mr. Chamberlain on the question of preferential trade.
– I am discussing Home Rule just now. The leader of the Opposition, in the amendment which he has submitted, has advanced reasons why a petition should not be presented to the King in favour of granting .Home Rule to Ireland. I disagree with the last of those reasons, which reads -
Because this House confidently relies upon the ‘ fairness and wisdom of the British people for the removal of every just Irish grievance in the manner most likely to promote the welfare of the Irish people, and the stability of the Empire.
We all remember what occurred a year ago, when this House was called upon to express its opinion in regard to the action of the Imperial authorities in introducing Chinese labour into the Transvaal. Subsequent events have proved that we were thoroughly justified in the action which” we took upon that occasion. In taking that action we recognised that the last reason advanced by the leader of the Opposition is an incorrect statement. We cannot confidently rely upon the fairness of the House of Lords; neither can we rely upon the fairness and wisdom of the House of Commons in all things. That body does not represent the British people in the same way that this Parliament represents the electors of the Commonwealth. We enjoy a liberal Constitution, and we wish to see every other constituent of the British Empire placed in a similar position* When a measure of Home Rule is granted to Ireland - as it will be some day - I trust that its Constitution will be similar to our own. I do not altogether agree with the following statement in the motion of the honor able and learned member for Northern Melbourne : -
But the sad history of Ireland since the Act of Union shows that no British Parliament can understand or effectively deal with the economic and social conditions of Ireland.
I cannot regard that statement as a strictly accurate one, because in 1866 the British Parliament passed the law which disestablished the Church of England in Ireland, and we must all admit that that extended a great measure ‘of justice to that country. In all other respects, however, I agreewith the terms of the motion.
– I regret that, owing to. the pressure of my duties, it was not until last evening that I realized the possibility that this discussion would be brought to’ a conclusion to-day. Otherwise I should have endeavoured to prepare myself topresent the arguments that commend themselves to me better than I have been ableto do in the interim. In my opinion, this question is one of the utmost importance to us from more points of view than those which have yet been submitted’.. First, as to procedure and its implications^, and next as to the merits of the motion. We all realize the risks of a discussion of this kind - risks to which my personal attention was called by the honorable member for Wentworth. It is not easy in a brief expression oh a question of this magnitude to make oneself clearly understood by those whose desire it is to fairly follow an argument; it is still less possible to protect oneself against those who are determined to misunderstand .both one/s ‘argument and one’s motives. The motion introduces a new issue that has aroused, and is likely to continue to arouse, too often, more heat than light. Consequently those “who endeavour to take an independent, impartial, and, I believe, a patriotic view of this great subject, expose themselves to the missiles of both parties, with whom it has ceased to be a question of argument, and” has become a matter pf emotion. Perfectly well aware of that, I nevertheless feel it impossible to allow the debate to close, as I otherwise would gladly do, without offering to the House the grounds upon which I shall cast my vote. I had desired to remain silent until the close of the debate, because, in this matter, I speak; of course, quite apart from the official position that I now hold. I enter into the debate as any private member might do,. and express no opinion other than my own. I am not aware how most of my colleagues will vote. I have not sought to discover from them or from others the tendency of their views. So far as I know, few honorable members are acquainted with my own opinions on this question. I have made no secret of them, but, as it happens, have not been canvassed - or at all events, am not conscious that I have - by representatives of either party. The motion was submitted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, in a speech worthy of the House, and one that would have been worthy of that great House of Commons, where the matter will one day be decided. It presented a case that, on its merits, must have appealed to every fair-minded man, and was followed by a succession of speeches - notably that delivered by the honorable and learned member for Angas - that were closely reasoned and eloquent. The motion resolves itself into three paragraphs, each of which has a distinct character. In the first the honorable and learned member invites us to present an address to His Majesty; in the second, we are invited to record our opinions in regard to certain historical questions, while in the third we approach directly a proposal that we should urge the wisdom of granting to Ireland a just measure of Home Rule. Those three propositions, important in themselves, have been countered by another series of three contained in an amendment submitted by the right honorable member for East Sydney. The first of these sets forth that it is not within the legitimate province of this House to deal” with the question. We are next invited to saythat for another reason - the approachof a general election in the mother country - we are incompetent to deal with it, and, thirdly, the right honorable member calls upon us to say that we rely upon the British people to deal with the question in an equitable manner. At the very outset, the amendment moved by the right honorable member for East Sydney throws out a challenge as to the constitutionality as well as the wisdom - the propriety as well as the correctness-of the procedure proposed. That appears to me a consideration of the utmost importance to the House. It involves the creation of another precedent that will always be quoted, and by which we shall, so far as lies in ourpower mark out the limits of the extraneous scope of this Parliament. Is it within the constitutional competence of a Legislature such as ours, created expressly bystatute, with specially defined authority, to deliberate, and, having deliberated, to decide, and, having decided, to forward a petition to His Majesty the King asking that official notice may be taken of and effect given to our prayer. We have few illustrations to guide us with which I am acquainted, and certainly very few from the experience of the Commonwealth The right of every subject to petition the Throne is unquestioned. There can be, and should be, neither a limitation nor an attempt to limit that appeal. No one will suggest that it is not competent for the people of the Commonwealth to approach the Throne with any petition which they may choose to present on any subject whatever.
– That has been contested by the leader of the Opposition.
– I disagree, and state my position. By becoming citizens of the Commonwealth, We have not ceased to be in some sense, at all events, citizens of the British Empire.
– We are proposing to forward this petition, not as citizens, but as members of this Parliament.
– I am coming to that, first taking the preliminary point that we have not sacrificed our individual and independent right to petition the Throne in respect to this or any other subject. The contention of the right honorable member for East Sydney is that, as a Legislature of definite endowment, we do not possess the right to intervene in a question which must be decided by another Legislature, and that the supreme Legislature of the Empire. We have, as I have already said, some slight experience to guide us that is worthy of recall, and upon which, so far as I am aware, there has not been laid, during the course of this debate, the stress that it seems to me to deserve. No later than the beginning of last year, the Premier of New Zealand appealed to the Commonwealth Government, during the recess, to join with him, to use his own words, in making - protest against introduction Chinese work Band mines, urge strongly Imperial Government use prerogative prevent that. …
I am quoting only the material words of a cablegram which Mr. Seddon addressed to the Commonwealth Government. To this message we replied - for I happened at that time to hold the same office that I now occupy -
We have hitherto refrained from making representations to Imperial Government to this effect, because of danger of establishing precedent of appeal to Imperial Government for defeat of proposed law of another colony. Of course, the exercise of prerogative of the Crown in respect to legislation of self-governing and Crown colony differs essentially. Precedent in this case would be of very limited application, but as this action initiates new and grave departure, consider best to proceed with special caution. Under existing circumstances, beg to urge joint protest against Chinese immigration into Transvaal in form to be agreed to be communicated to its Government, and send copies to the self-governing colonies.
I may say, for the information of honorable members, that I am quoting from Parliamentary Papers 1904, Vol. 2, pages 1641-2-3. On the 15th January, the Premier of New Zealand agreed with us that the form of procedure was difficult, and went on to say that -
If Transvaal was self-governing colony danger would exist of laying down inconvenient precedent, but being Crown colony there is little risk of representations being made by Crown colonies as to legislative or administrative action of selfgoverning colonies there is precedent for selfgoverning colonies expressing opinion on matters connected with a Crown colony.
He then proceeded to make reference to a resolution in regard to the Pacific Islands. On the 1 6th January, we replied suggesting the message that should be sent to Cape Colony, the Transvaal, and the other Governments concerned. In the course of this, we said -
Though most reluctant travel beyond their own boundaries in order to introduce themselves into matters having local import, the responsible Ministers of Commonwealth in discharge their duty to nation feel compelled express deep apprehension results which will follow introduction Chinese to Transvaal.
I make these brief quotations in order to indicate the line of argument then pursued, and the course adopted. The message, suggested by us was accepted by NewZealand, and communicated to the Governments concerned, who replied through the Colonial Secretary of Pretoria that they had considered our message in Executive Council, and proceeded to give us a polite and argumentative answer. The Premier of New Zealand, still adhering to his original idea of seeking the intervention of the Imperial Government, communicated with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and received a reply from him dated 27th January -
I have received your telegram conveying the view which your Government has formed with re- gard to the introduction Chinese labour into the Transvaal ; I fully recognise the title of all the self-governing colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question, and especially of those who, like New Zealand, rendered memorable services in the South African war.
Finally, in a document . bearing date 20th May, 1904, the Secretary of State for the Colonies communicated with the Commonwealth saying that -
While His Majesty’s Government fully recognise the right of the Legislature of the Australian Commonwealth to express their opinion on so important a’ matter as the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal - they regretted that for reasons set forth, they could not agree to our request. Thus His Majesty’s Government fully recognised the right of the Legislature of the Australian Commonwealth to express its opinion.
– Simply showing that different Governments have different opinions.
– In these matters the Secretary of State for the Colonies acts, notonly after consultation with his colleagues, who are always statesmen of great political experience, but also on the advice of officers permanently associated with the administration of the great Departments of State, who fully appreciate the importance which would attach to any precedent that might be established. Consequently the words used are chosen deliberately and ofset intention, the general as well as the particular application likely to be made of them being foreseen, so far as circumstances will permit. The recognition of the Imperial authorities of the right of the self-governing dependencies of the Empire to express their opinions in matters of this kind establishes a precedent which will in the future be continually cited, and play a most important part in the management of the affairs of the Empire.
– May not a succeeding Government express an entirely different view ?
– The precedents established: by the Colonial Office in regard to matters of this kind have, so far as I am aware, never been rescinded or departed from.
– Did the honorable and learned gentleman hear ‘the answer given to Canada, read by the honorable member for Wentworth, that country being practically told to mind its own business ?
– I know of that case, and am aware that, on a second occasion, a fewyears afterwards, noreply beyond a mere acknowledgment of the communication was vouchsafed. But the fact that on the last occasion nothing was said adverse to Canada’s right to intervene showed a development which will continue, and which I interpret to mean that in the future the Colonial Office will never challenge the right of a self-governing province to express its opinions in this way.
– The honorable and learned gentleman, has been speaking” from the Imperial stand-point. Will he now show how we are justified in expressing an opinion on this subject for the people of Australia ?
– Presently. What distinguishes our intervention in the case of the Transvaal from the action now proposed to be taken isthatin that case we were dealing, as 1 pointed out in my telegram, with the affairs of a Crown Colony, whereas now we are asked to appeal to the Government of the supreme Legislature of the Empire. I do not undervalue that difference. While a right to express our opinion in regard to important questions affecting another portion of the Empire which is not a self-governing community is recognised, that does not seem to me a sufficient precedent in itself to justify us, without qualification, in interposing in the manner suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. We are being moved to take what seems to me an unnecessary step, for which the only precedent is what has been doneby Canada.
– On two occasions, with an intervening period of twenty-two years.
– There is a precedent in the action of Canada, which in the first instance was met with a protest, while on the second occasion no protest was made. But in this instance we should endeavour to stand on the safest ground we can find, and it appears to me that one reason for not approaching His Majesty the King in the manner proposed is that the motion affects questions of policy which brought the present Imperial Government - who will have to deal with this matter- into existence, and probably keep them there. Under these circumstances, the reply which we shall be almost certain to receive will be in accordance with the main principles of that policy. While I do not know that exception could be taken to. a request so moderately worded, and based upon such eminently reasonable and fair considerations as this is, it is too much to expect the Imperial Government to return an answer implying that it will affect any action they may take, while we might be told that it is scarcely our part to ask them to alter their course to meet our views.
– We wish to speak to the people of England, not to the Ministry.
– I am about to come to that point. My honorable and learned friend would not have weakened his case, and would have lost no publicity if, instead of proposing to follow the Canadian precedent, he had asked the House to adopt the course which has been pursued in another Chamber - to which I suppose I may indirectly allude - where it has been sought to place on record a simple expression of the opinions of members. I am sure that my honorable and learned friend must feel that we are justified in taking into account the fact that the other branch of the Parliament has approached this question in a manner different from that in which we have been asked to deal with it. I do not pretend to decide between the merits of the two methods; but it will be agreed that it would be much better if both Houses were to take the same course : and I shall venture to offer some reasons why the course followed elsewhere seems preferable to that proposed by the honorable and learned member. If the course proposed in another place were followed, and met with the approval of a majority here, there would be a presentation of the views of this Parliament which would be in every way as effective as an address to His Majesty the King. We must also consider the application to our own affairs of the principle underlying this proposed action. The Imperial Parliament would never present an address to the King in relation to the affairs of any other part of the Empire, because it could give effect to its will by legislative act, to which the King; would be asked to assent, and thus.the object desired would be attained. Consequently, a parallel cannot be drawn be-: tween our procedure and that of the Imperial Parliament. We must approach the. King with a petition, while the Imperial, Parliament would ask his assent toan Act. It is impossible to deny that, the legislative authority vested in the Imperial Parliament in regard to the selfgoverning dependencies of the Empire has been exercised with the greatest wisdomand consideration; and even in the oc- casional discussion of colonial affairs, members of that body have always exercised the most marked restraint. No doubt our actions and legislation have been subjected to some criticism from individual members, but even, that not with notable frequency. When the supreme power and authority of the Imperial Parliament in regard to the various dependencies of the Crown and the King’s dominions beyond the seas are remembered, in respect to the self-governing portions of the Empire, it must be recognised that they have been exercised with the greatest circumspection, and the most splendid self-control.
– Why not say all portions of the Empire?
– Because at times the affairs of Crown Colonies have been closely considered. Committees have been appointed to investigate them, and their ordinances have been freely interfered with.
– Slavery was abolished in the West Indies against the wishes of the people there.
– That is one of the circumstances in my mind. But in regard to the affairs of the selfgoverning portions of the Empire there has always been exercised a spirit of wise tolerance and consideration. It is therefore proper that we should proceed in a similar spirit. It may be contended that this is arguing against the position which I have already adopted ; but it must be remembered that the Imperial Parliament exercises an authority which extends over the whole Empire, whereas we, although possessing, almost unlimited control over our own affairs, have no representation in the Government of the Empire of which we form part. Consequently there is cast upon us the necessity of considering the form in which we should approach extraneous questions with which we have no power to deal, and can claim none, but in regard to which, on principle and following precedent, we are entitled, when suitable and fitting occasion arises, to make ourselves heard.
– We may be entitled to be heard without being entitled to speak.
– The one would not be worth much without the other.
– That may be. but there is a very great difference between the two things. One right comes from the people, and the other comes from the per son to whom we are going to addressourselves.
– We have to recollect that in approaching the Throne by way of petition, we not only seek a reply, but appeal to the sovereign powers, King, Lords, and Commons, to give effect to our prayer. There is nothing improper in that action, which is, indeed, strictly proper in relation to our own affairs. But when our representations relate, not directly to ourselves as a special community, but to an outside matter, the decision of which rests with the electors of the mother country and their representatives, it appears to me that we can better exercise our undoubted right to the ‘free expression of our opinions by setting them forth with such clearness and force as we can command, without directly invoking the sovereign power in the manner to which I have alluded, and without directly challenging a reply. We should rely on the strength of the reasons urged, in the hope that they will commend themselves to the minds of those who have it in their power to give effect to any opinions as soon as they can share them. Therefore, if this Parliament, in placing on record its opinions in this connexion, follows the line of precedent suggested: by the Secretary of State in his despatch of a little more than six months ago, it will adopt the better course. To that suggestion exception was taken by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who contended that even an expression of opinion from this Parliament would be out of place upon any issue outside Australia ; that it should be left to private bodies, leagues, or persons to take action ; that ‘ we were neither called upon nor authorized to . speak for; our constituents, or the people of Australia in this matter; that our appeal could have no’ legislative effect; that we were remote from the scene of action, and Would be subject to other influences, and that we should require before making ourselves heard in this connexion to consult our constituents. If those arguments were sound, it would follow that the assertion, contained in the right honorable member’s amendment, that the motion proposes to take us beyond the legitimate province of this Parliament, would be correct. They would narrowly and very seriously hamper and limit us for all time; and, in my opinion, are unsound and injurious. They are based upon a doctrine which the right honorable gentleman boldly avowed, which is the key to much of the policy he has supported in this House, and is relied upon particularly in regard to all Imperial, as distinguished from purely local questions. In this respect he takes the view of that able writer, Richard Jebb, who, in his recent Studies in Colonial Nationalism, contends that the Empire of the future is to consist of what might almost be called semi-independent powers, united by alliances a”nd agreements. The right honorable gentleman went on to argue that the greatness and strength of the Empire consisted in the independence of its several parts, and upon the absence of mutual criticism or examination, or of union, except by common agreements. This is Mr. Jebb’s view, and very largely the view of the right honorable member for East Sydney. This idea explains the attitude adopted by the right honorable gentleman towards the question now under consideration, and upon many others, such as preferential trade. Instead of dealing with his contentions piecemeal and seriatim,-‘ I desire, for the sake of brevity to say at once that my attitude towards the Imperial problem differs absolutely from his. I cannot share his sentiments. The right honorable gentleman thought it necessary to make some allusion to powers of separation with which he said the self-governing portions of the Empire are necessarily endowed. I do not propose to follow him in that regard. I do not agree with his statement, or with his application of it. I much prefer to avoid any discussion of such a subject. I regard it as unnecessary in> this connexion, and unseemly everywhere. Only in the last resort can the possibility of such action ever confront us. I see nothing on the horizon of the Empire to suggest the idea of disruption, or dislocation, and, therefore, refuse to dwell upon any contingency of that sort. We can most effectively unite the Empire as a whole by promoting its political organisation by local self-government. I approach this motion as one who believes that the Constitution of Great Britain, superb and magnificent as it is, and the greatest product of the race to which we belong, is being outgrown by the circumstances of this great Empire, and is having imposed upon it a strain which”!!: cannot long continue to bear. It has developed, and must continue its development. The growth of the great selfgoverning communities and their increasing strength and importance call for the recognition of their right to a. voice in the decision of those questions in which their fate, as well as that of the mother country, is involved. At present, how can we, except by petition to the Throne, or by resolution, give expression to our opinions upon matters that affect our destiny as much as that of the mother country ? We are shut out - and perhaps some people desire that we should be - from the British. Parliament, and we are without representation upon any federal body charged with the issues of peace and war, of defence or internal unity. We cannot exercise any rights of citizenship beyond those conferred upon us by Statute, or assert our inherent equality with those who elect representatives to the House of Commons, which governs the Empire, except by the expression, of our opinion on Imperial questions. That can be done most effectively in Parliament, though it can be done bv any group of citizens anywhere. . I hold that it is impossible for us to shut the door on the great issues which are knocking at it to-day, including the great question, whether we are to cling, for all time, to that Constitution shaped on the anvil of liberty by centuries of struggle in the mother country, but shaped for three kingdoms within a small area, and close to Europe, without any provision for the great dominions of the Empire oversea. Starting with that conception, we cannot be content with the doctrine of each dependency for itself^ or with the idea that separate and independent States, acting together on occasion, will ever constitute a real whole. We can only rely upon an Empire, the parts of which are blended together in a living unity, not only so far as their fortunes are concerned, but also in regard to the real representation of every part of it. We cannot afford to leave great Imperial issues severely alone, and we certainly cannot treat in that way the one now under discussion, which clearly affects us. We are members one of another, with common interests and perils calling for common action. The right honorable member for East Sydney made a strong point when he asked this House to decline to petition His Majesty either in favour of or against a change in the parliamentary system at present prevailing in the United Kingdom. Let me put the converse very simply to the House and the country. Let me ask : If there is to be no change in ‘the parliamentary system of representation of the mother country as it now stands, what prospect is there of any federal unity of the Empire ? I maintain that no progress in the development of the unity of the Empire, or, to use the appropriate words of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, towards the solidarity and permanence of the Empire, will be possible until the Parliament of the mother country is prepared to reconsider its parliamentary system and the basis of representation.
– But that change must be made mutually and voluntarily, and not be forced upon the mother country by outside pressure.
– I entirely agree with the honorable member. It would not be possible for us to apply force4 even if we desired. It is interjected that this change should not be brought about in a fragmentary way. I should prefer that it should be effected on a grand scale and at once, but from my knowledge of history, particularly of that of the British people and of our own countrymen and” their methods here, it is plain that the reform will be brought about only in a fragmentary way, piece by piece, step by step, and stage by stage, as may appear possible. But the first and fundamental consideration that underlies every change with the object of achieving greater unity and greater Imperial power, demands that at its very inception we should be permitted to exercise a full power of criticism. We have an indirect, but real, interest in the question of the devolution of the powers of the Imperial Parliament. All thoughtful Imperialists are realizing that to offer the distant .dominions of the Empire numerical representation in the Parliament of the mother country, overloaded as it is with a mass of intricate local legislative duties, would be futile. It would not further the interests of the Parliament or of the dependencies oversea. It would not present the opportunities we desire for the creation of a real effective political control of the whole of the Empire in which the whole of its own peoples would be represented.
– I have a motion prepared dealing with that matter.
– Until we have regular representation in some Federal body, we must use the irregular representation which belongs to us By means of such motions as this when the occasion is o’f sufficient magnitude to justify them. On these grounds I venture, as an avowed Imperial federalist, to submit that the reconsideration of the parliamentary system of the mother country is a matter of direct moment to us, quite apart from the special considerations which govern the minds of those who form the Home Rule party.
– In other words, the Prime Minister would break off Ireland in order to open the door for Imperial federation.
– I would break off nothing, but bind all together. The special consideration that is being bestowed at present upon the question of Home Rule for Ireland arises naturally from one most significant, most insuperable circumstance,” to which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has called attention. He says - .
The people of Ireland have asked for a just measure of Home Rule through their representatives. Never has request more clear, consistent, and continuous been made by any nation.
It cannot be disputed that the practical unanimity of the representatives of Ireland deserves the prominence which “the honorable and learned member has given it in this motion. The reason why the question of Ireland is pressing is because the representatives of that country have indorsed it in an unmistakable manner. Surely that is the best of reasons. The same proposal would come with equal force from Scotland if her representatives had felt it necessary to bring it forward. The fact that Scotland has not done SO- the fact that the movement for Home Rule there after fluttering has almost died out - is a proof that its people are content to retain the representation they enjoy. Nobody desires to alter conditions with which they are satisfied. But it seems to me that we cannot look unmoved and uninterested, upon the problem of devolution in regard to Ireland since its solution must bring forward the consideration of the position of all the other self-governing communities of the Empire. The Federal principle must be applied. From that point of view, it seems to me that we find firm foot-hold and justification for recording an opinion upon this question. Unfortunately, I happen to differ from the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, in regard to the final sentence of the second paragraph of his motion, which relates to the British Parliament. Indeed, I regard the whole of that paragraph as an unnecessary addition to his proposal. Whilst I do not possess a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the mea- sures of legislation to which he alludes to warrant me in differing from the commendation which he bestows upon them, I am not sufficiently well informed to coincide with it, nor do I think it necessary that we should be asked to coincide. It seems to me that we should strengthen his case, if, putting aside these historical references and the appeal to His Majesty, we were content to concentrate our attention upon the vital part of his motion, which is to be found in the third paragraph. There he makes his position perfectly clear. Before passing from this branch of the subject, may I say that the criticisms which I have ventured to pass upon the mother of Parliaments are not my own. I would not venture to make them confidently if they were. When I say that the Parliament of the mother country, as a law-ma/king machine, is breaking down, and, as an Executive, is failing to satisfy its constituents, I am using the language of members of the House of Commons itself, and of some members of the other Chamber. In this matter I rest not merely upon my own opinion. I have summarized and quoted the testimony of many members of those bodies.
– Are we going to take a vote upon this matter to-day?
– I shall be most happy if we can do so. I have no desire to intervene, but for the reason which I have advanced was not prepared to speak earlier.
– Will the Prime Minister promise to give us time to take a division upon the motion after the adjournment for dinner?
– I regret that I cannot make any such promise. There is only one other authority whom I propose to quote before concluding my remarks - I refer to Sir Frederick Pollock, who has been very prominent of late as the spokesman of a group of thinkers representing all parties in England, who foresee the necessary reconstruction of the British parliamentary system. That is still remote. Sir Frederick Pollock, speaking on the Federation of the Empire, says -
As for any kind of formal Constitution, it assumes the consent of several independent Legis-1 a hires, and involves a considerable modification of their existing authority. I am not aware of any reason for thinking that the Parliament of the United Kingdom would easily be persuaded to reduce itself by a solemn Act to a mere State Legislature, or that the Colonial Governments would be willing to surrender any substantial part of their autonomy to some new Federal Senate or Council. - All the information at our disposal goes to show that nothing of the kind has any chance of being accepted, or even of seeming plausible enough, to induce any Ministry to take it in hand.
He then proceeds to propose interim methods by which we can bridge over the period until the Legislatures affected are prepared to re-examine their position in this regard. But I am unable to agree with the leader of the Opposition that the consideration of this question takes us beyond our legitimate province, or with his statement that the fact that it will shortly become an. issue in an appeal to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland is material, especially if we confine ourselves to an expression of our opinion without addressing His Majesty the King and his advisers directly. We take no partisan ground, and make no undue interference with party politics, because all we ask is for a just measure of self-government for Ireland. What is just and wise we leave to them to determine among themselves without any proposal of ours. I agree with the third paragraph of the right honorable member’s amendment, so far as it declares -
That this House confidently relies upon the fairness and wisdom pf the British people for the removal of every just Irish grievance in the manner most likely to promote the welfare of the Irish people and the stability of the Empire.
But admitting that - and it is obvious that in this matter we are without power, without authority, without votes, without direct connexion with the voters - there is no reason why, uttering our opinions as best we may. we should not have those opinions laid before the voters of the mother country for their consideration. They constitute the jury to which we must appeal. They alone can decide the question. When this discussion, in a remote part of the Empire, ‘is shown in its true relation, to our own ultimate interests, when the public of the mother country become seized with the reasons for expressing our opinions to them as well as with the opinions themselves, it appears to me that they are certain to receive fair consideration. All that “we ask is that our views may make their way bv the force of reason, and by the substance of the considerations we offer. Perfectly aware as I am of the responsibility which we all assume in acting in this connexion, without a direct mandate from our constituents, I have never yet subscribed to the doctrine that a member of Parliament is a- mere delegate. I have never withdrawn from the well-established doctrine of the mother country, that a member of Parliament, elected though he is at a particular period because of his views upon some questions often to the exclusion of all others, is not, on that account, relieved of the responsibility which he takes - and for which he will answer - of meeting whatever emergency may arise during the term of his representation. If his actions command the support of his constituents, so much the better for him and for them, but when he faces for the first time some question upon which he has not challenged their verdict, all that he can do is to give it his best judgment, and his best knowledge. He can only do that which he believes to be right. More than this no man can do, and this every man is called upon to do when he is confronted with a choice of alternatives. I trust that the motion submitted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne will be dealt with in such a way as will enable any honorable members who share my opinions to vote upon each separate paragraph, instead of upon the motion as a whole. If it is decided to substitute for the motion the amendment of the leader of the Opposition, I trust that a similar course will be adopted. What we should endeavour to arrive at is the most precise and clear ex pression of the will of the majority of this House. That can best be accomplished by adopting the course I have suggested, seeing that in both instances the propositions, though connected, are relatively independent of each other. For my own part, I speak to-night - as I have said - under circumstances of stress and haste, which have prevented me from dealing with the matter as briefly - and certainly as effectively - as I could have wished. I know that the question is surrounded by other considerations upon which I have not attempted to touch, and supported by arguments which I am content to have heard uttered bv others. I know that in the Irish people it is inwoven with passion and poetry and recollections of their own. But I seek to approach it - without disregarding those circumstances - in the calm, clear light of the responsibilities of the Empire and its future welfare. I feel that upon a motion which asks simply for a just measure of Home Rule-
– Who is to define what that means ?
– The supreme authority - the people and Commons of England.
– Then leave the matter tothem.
– We are leavingit to them. It cannot be taken from them. There is a just measure due. We are not forbidden as citizens of the Empire to appeal to the reason, the judgment, and conscience of all other citizens of the Empire in this regard. Believing, as I do, that the future development of our Empire lies through its local governments - a multiplication of municipal functions by way of relieving the higher authorities - and believing that subsequently the only possible method of combining local selfgovernment in States or dependencies with effective Imperial unity of action, is by means of the Federal form of Government, which we are fortunate enough to enjoy. I should be false to every liberal tradition and principle if I refused to express myself in favour of a just measure of Home Rule to Ireland, which demands it to-day, or to any other portion of the Empire which may demand it to-morrow.
– To Scotland and Wales?
– Most assuredly, in a just measure. I take my stand on a question of principle. The cause of Ireland appeals to the heart of-
– And would the honorable and learned gentleman favour the extension of Home Rule to the furthest extent that they might demand ?
– -To the furthest extent consistent with, and making for, the efficiency and unity of the Empire. I would not be a party, in connexion with the Federal movement, to anything that would make towards separation or the disruption of the Empire.
– Who is to judge of that, so far as Home Rule for Ireland is concerned ?
– The British people, and, their representatives, the British Parliament. A just measure will help and strengthen the Empire. Who can refuse to grant what is just? No more is asked. Every step I took in connexion with the fight for Federation was in the belief that theFederation of Australia would make the Empire stronger and more united than it was. And so if I were a member of the British Parliament:, I would consent to a just measure of Home
Rule for Ireland, or for any, other part of the Empire, only so far as I believed that it would minister to the strength and unity of the Empire.
-Who are to be the judges ?
– In this respect the natural judges are the people of the British Empire. We are interested persons in the final decision, because it seems to me that it will be impossible for the mother country to deal with the problem of Ireland, and the granting of a subordinate Legislature to her without taking into account the position of subordinate Legislatures in other parts of the Empire. As there must be in the future some central control, the precedent must be most valuable to us in a general way. It is on this account that we have a title to express our opinion to-day in anticipation of an Imperial Federal Council. If I did not believe so, I should hold it to be our duty to be silent on this question. But, ‘ believing as I do, that our own interests and those of the Empire are bound up with the application of our present forms of government to the new circumstances of a new world, as a preparation for the new Empire that is to be, I shall be found! casting my vote for the principle embodied in the third paragraph of the motion.
– Mr. Speaker-
Honorable Members. - Divide !
– I have no desire to delay the taking of a division if it is the desire of the House to at once divide.
– I intend to speak.
– I am informed that not only does the mover of the motion intend to reply, but that various other honorable members wish to speak to the question. That being so, I propose this evening to. briefly discuss the motion. I can only say that I regret exceedingly that such a proposition should have been submitted, for it deals with a matter entirely outside the province of this Parliament. I am glad to find that in taking this view I have the support of the Prime Minister, and also the leader of the Labour Party. Notwithstanding the eloquent speech that the Prime Minister has just delivered in regard to our power and our right to inferfere in matters affecting other parts of the Empire, and despite the fact that,by interjection, the honorable member for Bland has, I be lieve, expressed a similar opinion, I find, upon referring to that inestimable tome, Hansard, that both these honorable members have expressed a contrary opinion. On the 26th September, 1902, a discussion took place in this House as to whether the Parliament should protest against the proposed introduction of Chinese into the Rand, and the present Prime Minister and the honorable member for Bland took up the stand that no such protest should be made.
– I think I proposed the motion protesting against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal.
– I am referring to a debate which took place apparently upon a proposal submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corio, during the consideration of a Supply Bill. In Hansard, vol. 12, page 16.171, the present Prime Minister is reported as follows: -
I do not know whether the honorable and learned member for Corio has seriously considered the whole of the consequences which would follow from the adoption of the principle he has laid down in regard to this particular case.
– It is too late to considerthat; we have taken the responsibility.
– I am far from denying our responsibility for the part which Australia has played in connexion with the recent war in South Africa. I do not think that Australia desires to escape from any such responsibility, or regrets the action which she took. But it is quite another question how far that action commits us to a criticism, which may be considered an interference with the internal affairs of territories which, as I understand, are to be placed at once upon a basis that will admit of the representation of the wishes of the inhabitants. Though they are not endowed with representative institutions to the fullest extent, yet they are to be, from the very outset, endowedwith advisory councils on which both the English and the Boer populations will be represented.
On that occasion the Prime Minister took the view that because in the immediate future the population of the territories in question would have some representation, however slight, we should not seek to interfere in their internal affairs.
– That is sound doctrine.
– It is a most excellent doctrine, and one that entirely supports the amendment moved by the leader of the Opposition. The honorable and learned member went on to say -
Inasmuch as the people of those territories will be in the enjoyment of self-government -
He was referring to the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies - to that extent, at all events, we should need to be very careful in expressing general views upon any question of great importance to their internal administration.
– That was Jekyll. To-day we have heard Hyde.
– I trust that this expression of opinion will not be hidden. The Prime Minister went on to say -
But while we are entitled to express our per. sonal opinions outside, that does not justify us in making official representations, which, if they were to have any weight at all, must be backed by some effective action on the part of the Commonwealth Government.
– That is on exactly the same principle as what I said this evening.
– The honorable and learned gentleman continued -
Supposing we did make a representation of the character desired to the people of South Africa - because, as I have said, the measure of representative government already accorded gives the people a voice - it may be an incomplete voice in our apprehension, but still it is a voice - in the management of their own affairs. although it is perfectly open for any persons, or any private bodies or associations, to express their opinions with regard to the employment of coloured labour on the Rand - this is not a subject with which the Government of the Commonwealth ought to be asked to take action. By so doing, we should possibly expose ourselves to a mortifying rebuff. We would not be considered by the citizens of South Africa as lending them any assistance - in fact, the probability is that our action would simply be interpreted as a desire to interfere in their affairs.
Later on the honorable and learned gentleman said that -
For these reasons I fail to see that this Government ought to have taken action in the matter, unless our council was in some way specially invited.
I ask honorable members. not to lose sight of that, point. The honorable and learned gentleman declared that Australia had expressed its views with regard to the suspension of constitutional government in Cape Colony for the reason that it had been asked to do so -
On that question Australia had a proper opportunity of being heard, and the Prime Minister expressed the feelings of the great bulk of the people of the Commonwealth. That was a matter upon which it was proper for the Government to speak, because an opportunity of speaking was presented to them.
He concluded with the following remarks, which seem to me to be apropos: -
To have made general unsolicited representations might have been an interference with the measure of autonomy at present existing in those Spates, and might have established a precedent which in the future would be found very dan gerous to this and other self-governing communities throughout the Empire.
I am glad to say that my honorable friend the leader “of the Labour Party took up a similar attitude. In one of those short workmanlike speeches which we are accustomed to hear from him, he said -
I have very strong opinions upon these subjects, but I have tried consistently to adopt the policy that we have no right to undertake responsibilities and duties outside of the affairs immediately concerning our own people.
He concluded by saying that -
On the whole subject I think that this Parliament should confine itself to Australian affairs, and for that reason I do not wish to say more than that I think the Government are wise in refraining from taking any action which would involve us in responsibility, or set up the idea that we are seeking to interfere with the affairs of the world at large.
I think that these two quotations effectively and entirely dispose of the proposition that we ought to interfere in any matter which does not affect the peace, order, and good government of Australia, but may affect the good government of another part of the Empire over which we have no control.
– That is why it affects the future of Australia.
– Why did riot the honorable and learned gentleman take up that view in dealing with the question of protesting against the introduction of Chinese to the Rand ?
– I did when the matter was again brought forward.
– As the time for private members’ business has almost expired, I desire leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House, for the reconsideration of clause 4, in regard to the following proposed amendments : - Sub-clause 1, paragraphs a and 6, after the word “ agent,” wherever it occurs, insert the words “ of the principal,” and for the reconsideration of clause 5, in regard to the following proposed amendment : - In paragraph b, omit the word “ and,” and insert in place thereof the words “ the receipt, account, or document.”
I intendto move these amendments in clause 4 to meet the views of the honorable member for North Sydney, who desired to make it as certain as we can that the mere consent of the principal of an agent who is acting for a selling merchant, ‘ shall not free that agent from responsibility for attempting to bribe the agent of a buying merchant. Our contention was that the case was covered by the clause as it stands, and I still think that it is, but, in pursuance of the promise given to the honorable member, I have looked into the matter again, and have devised the proposed amendments, which he is willing to accept, as likely to meet the difficulty. The amendment in clause 5 is also to be moved in pursuance of the honorable member’s suggestion, - in order to make it clearer that the expression “ false, erroneous, or defective,” applies to the “ receipt, account, or document “ mentioned earlier in the clause.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee: (Recommittal).
Clause 4 -
Any person who, without the full knowledge and consent of the principal, directly or indirectly -
Amendment (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That after the word “ agent,” wherever occuring in paragraphs a and b, the words “ of the principal “ be inserted.
Clause, . as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Any person who -
gives to an agent ; or
being an agent receives or uses, with intent to deceive the principal, any receipt, account, or document in respect of which the principal is interested, or in relation to a dealing, transaction, or matter in which the principal is interested, and being false, erroneous, or defective in any material particular, or likely in any way to mislead the principal, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Amendment (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the word “and,” line 8, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the receipt, account, or document.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 10th October, vide page 3328)-
– I wish to say a few words in connexion with a matter which is of interest to all honorable members. Parliament each year votes money for the erection of public buildings, but there is always great delay in getting that money expended by the Department of Home Affairs.
– That is because of red tape.
– That is very probable. It is very rarely that an economy can be effected by the Postal Department by erecting a post-office of its own, instead of continuing to carry on its operations in a rented building ; but in my electorate, after providing interest and a sinking fund, a considerable saving will be made by giving up the present post-office, for which a stiff rent is paid, and erecting a Commonwealth building. The lease of the present building expired in the middle of this year, and it was therefore obvious that, to avoid having to pay another year’s rent for it, the new building would have to be finished and ready for occupation before that time. There were practically nine months in which to carry out the work, and I made representations to the Department as to the needfor expedition, which was recognised. Yet the Department of Home Affairs took as long to prepare the plans for this small building as would have been required by the average contractor to erect it. The money for the work was voted on last year’s Estimates, but the building has not yet been completed.
– When was it started?
– I cannot give the exact date, but there was a good deal of correspondence before I got the plans through and the work put in hand.
– It took me five years to get the South Richmond post-office.
– Such a thing is a scandal. It is the duty of the Department to give effect with despatch to the will of Parliament. I have risen to protest against the delays which occur, and I hope that other honorable members will support my action. The officers of the Department seem ready to. do their best, but I think that something must be wrong in the methods employed. I know that some honorable members think that the Department should be abolished.
– It should be wiped clean out.
– I have such a regard for the present Minister that I should not like to see such a step taken without due consideration; but T hope that he will shake up the administration. The Department is more or less a red-tape Department, which serves for an excuse for the slackness of all the others.
– It is suffering from dry rot.
– I will not say that. At one time, if a post-office required a new windowsash, the Department of Home Affairs had to be invoked.
– That is not so now.
– The honorable member only recently put an end to that absurd system. It was ridiculous that a great Department like the Post Office could not accept responsibility for necessary disbursements. I hope that some means will be found to improve the methods of the Department of Home Affairs, so that its work may be transacted more quickly.
– I wish to say a few words with regard to the administration of this Department. 1 do not desire that the Department should be abolished, but I think that the position of the Minister of Home Affairs should be done away with, and that his portfolio should be amalgamated with some other. I am not casting any reflection upon the present Minister, but I think a wise economy might be practised by the amalgamation of some of the too numerous political offices for which provision is now made. The Commonwealth cannot long stand the financial strain which is being imposed upon it, and I think that Ministers should seek to curtail expenditure in every possible way. The Minister of Trade and Customs cannot have very much to do, and he would make an admirable administrator for the Home Affairs Department. Now that the Federal Capital question Kas been practically settled, the work of the Department will become greatly diminished in the near future. I know that this is not a popular suggestion, but I feel sure that the Minister of Trade and Customs would willingly undertake to perform more work if it could be shown that a. good purpose would be served. I ask Ministers to seriously consider my suggestion. I think that special attention should be directed to the fact that’ we do not at present possess the staff required to insure efficient supervision over the public works carried out on behalf of the Commonwealth. We have an Inspector-General of Works, at a salary of ^800, and a Superintendent of Works in each of the States’, at a salary of ^600, but the whole of the detail work has to be carried out by State officials. It is impossible for the Commonwealth officers connected with this branch of the Home Affairs Department, however able they may be, to effectively supervize the whole of the works carried out in large States such as Queensland and New South Wales, and I think we should have a properly equipped staff or none at all. We are paying the States .£6,500 per annum for the services rendered by their officials, and I think we might spend that money to far more advantage by maintaining a staff of our own.
– The House would not agree to my proposals in that direction.
– I am perfectly well aware of that, but from the outset I have taken up the attitude- I am now assuming. I pointed out that useful work could be done and money could be saved if we appointed a’ number of efficient clerks of works, who would have the immediate supervision, of all works. I hope that the ‘Minister will inquire into this matter, and make some recommendation on the subject. The Superintendent of Works in New South Wales is supposed to exercise supervision over all works of construction, but it is absolutely impossible for him to roam from one end of the State to the other, and at the same time effectively perform the work that demands his attention at the head office. I found recently that the staff connected with the Home Affairs Department in New South Wales were frequently required to work overtime, and that seemed to me to indicate either that the staff were incompetent or overworked. I believe that the latter is the true explanation, and I trust that the Minister will, in the interests of the Department and of trie officers themselves, effect some improvement. It is proposed to expend over ^100,000 upon various works during the current year, and it seems to me to be false economy to depend upon the supervision of officers who have no direct responsibility, and who cannot be expected to look after the interests of the Commonwealth with the same keenness that would be exhibited by our own officials. Referring once more to the amalgamation of Ministerial portfolios, I acknowledge that the Minister of Home Affairs may have mora work to do than the public are generally aware of. He has a perfect right to occupy his present position, and I do not cast the slightest reflection upon him, but I honestly believe that an amalgamation of Ministerial offices might be made with advantage.
– The honorable member for Dalley took upon himself to say that the Minister of Home Affairs had a perfect right to occupy his present position. I deny that statement at once, and challenge the Minister to show by what right or privilege he holds his present position. No doubt, he worked very hard to obtain a position in the Ministry, and it is appropriate that he should preside over the Home Affairs Department, where so much bridgebuilding and road-making is undertaken. The Minister was one of the champion bridgebuilders, and one of the most accomplished road-makers in the House, and he apparently succeeded in macadamizing the road which led him to office. The honorable member for_ Dalley was quite right in suggesting that the Minister of Trade and Customs would be willing to takeover another Ministerial office, in addition to his own. Judging from the facility with which he disposes of the business of his Department, he has plenty of time at his disposal for gallivanting over the country in order to serve his own political and other purposes. The Minister might do better work for himself and for the Commonwealth if he spent more time in his office, and disported himself at’ shows and other places to a smaller extent than he has done of late. There is a good deal in the contention of the honorable member for Dalley that it would be advisable for us to arrange for the supervision of our public works by our own officers. The estimates of the Home Affairs Department are gradually mounting up, and now represent a very large sum, and I venture to say that the present system of divided control in connexion with the construction of public works is hampering the Department at every turn.’ The work that has to be done for the Commonwealth has to take a secondary place, so far as the States officials are concerned, and much delay and annoyance result. I might mention the case of a post-office in which I am interested, upon which work has just been commenced. Twelve months ago I stood here pleading for that work to be carried out. It had been sanctioned long previously, yet it is only now being put in progress. Therefore I say that the sooner we take over the whole of this work ourselves the better it will be for the Commonwealth as- a whole and for the efficiency of the Department of Home Affairs. I am inclined to think that, by so doing, we should not require to increase the total expenditure. At the present time we are paying the various States £6,500 annually : for supervision alone. I venture to say that supervision costs a very great deal more than that amount, by reason of the multiplication of the red-tapism which is involved. As a matter of fact, much of the time of Commonwealth officers is taken up in looking after and policing work that is under the control of the States Public Works Departments. There are one or two matters in regard to which I should like the Minister to make a statement to the House. One of these relates to the question of payment for. the transferred properties. Five years have now passed since the Federation was established, and yet we do not appear to be any nearer finality in regard to this particular question than we were at the outset. In the meantime, owing 10 the system of finance that we have adopted, our Federal balance-sheet conveys an entirely false impression to the outside world. Instead of charging ourselves with (he interest upon the transferred properties, we are omitting that ‘item from our balancesheet year after year. The result is that we appear to have a surplus which we return to the States, whereas, if we liquidated all our legitimate obligations, we should have no surplus whatever. I think that the Minister should make a clear and definite statement to the House regarding the stage which the negotiations have now reached. He might also inform us when he anticipates being able to submit a proposition regarding the method of payment which shall be adopted in connexion with these properties. Various proposals” have been made in that connexion. The latest suggestion by the Treasurer is one for adjusting matters with the States, and for taking into account only the outstanding balance. That would be a very wrong procedure indeed. No doubt it would be a very convenient one for the Treasurer, but it would still leave our accounts in anextremely vitiated condition. We should still be presenting a false balance-sheet. Whatever means we may adopt to raise the money with which to pay for the trans- ferred properties, it is clearly our business to bring the whole of those properties into account in our Federal Budget. We ought to show in our accounts the total sum of interest which is payable upon them. If we did that, it seems to me that it would not matter very much what metho’d of payment was finally adopted. At present we have a fictitious surplus. We declare that we are returning to the States so many hundreds of thousands per annum more than we ate compelled to do under the Constitution, when, as a matter of fact, we should not have a penny of our own if we liquidated all our outstanding liabilities. If we had been told when the Federation was established that five years hence no settlement of this question would have been arrived at, I venture tq say that the statement would have been scouted. Such, however, is the simple fact. At the present time we are using the transferred properties, and the States are paying interest upon them, instead of that interest being shown in our accounts as a liability and an item of Federal expenditure. There is another matter to which I wish to direct attention - I refer to the dispute in regard to the Federal Capital question. This matter is dragging its slow course along, and I suppose that the AttorneyGeneral and the Attorney-General of New South Wales will get to “ close grips “ some time or other.
– This Attorney-General is quite read v.
– Yes, but he will not go out of his way to the extent of one pin-head.
– There is no justification for that statement.
– The honorable and learned gentleman declines to leave Melbourne. His business is far too important. The Attorney-General of New South Wales is also a very busy man, and has a big Court practice. I venture to say that he has very much more important public business to attend to than has the AttorneyGeneral.
– He is looking after Crick, who was one of the late colleagues of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I do not understand that interjection. If the honorable member wishes to indulge in any criticism of the Minister of Trade and Customs from the stand-point of recent happenings in Sydney, I do not think that he is adopting a fair course. I think that the Minister might very well be absolved from any connexion with those events.
– Order 1 I must ask the honorable member to address himself to the item before the Chair.
– Then I would be obliged if my honorable friend in the corner would cease his interjections. I know that, as a good loyal Victorian representative, he is very anxious to see the Federal Capital question definitely settled. The sooner we get a habitation of our own the better it will be for us, because we shall then be removed from those vitiating influences of the powerful press of which we have so frequently complained. I should like to see a more pronounced disposition on the part of the AttorneyGeneral to make a little sacrifice to secure the settlement of this important matter. It was just as much his duty to visit Sydney as it was Mr. Wade’s duty to come to Melbourne. There is no comparison between the importance of the public business which is now engaging the attention of these two gentlemen. At the present moment, the Attorney-General of New South Wales is grappling with the Liquor Bill, and two or three other measures of first-rate importance, and, in addition, he possesses Court practice as large as that of any leading barrister. But while the Attorney-General declares point-blank that he will not leave Melbourne, the Prime Minister coolly requests that the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral should come over here. I trust that when the conference between these two Attorneys-General takes place, the matter in dispute will be pushed forward to a settlement. I do not know what the Government intend after the High Court has determined the issues which may be agreed upon. We must not for a moment imagine that the decision of that tribunal will finally dispose of the matter. Action will need to be taken by the Commonwealth Ministry if the Seat of Government is to be removed from Melbourne within the next five or ten years. Judging by the progress which we have hitherto made, some succeeding Administration will have to develop a tremendous “ spurt,” if we are to get away from this city before several years have elapsed.
– Let us stay where we are for the next twenty years.
– Was the honorable and learned member present in the Chamber last evening?
– I was not.
– Then the honorable and learned member did not see a brutal Government endeavouring to crush me by compelling me to continue a debate after I had spent two nights in the train, and was physically unfit for the task.
– That is what the honor - able member wishes to make the Victorian representatives do.
– I confess that I desire the Victorian representatives to be placed upon the same footing as myself”. This is a democratic Assembly, and we are all supposed to be equal; but I venture to say that, while Melbourne remains the Seat of Government, there can be no equality of sacrifice. I should advise the representatives of Victoria, who are so prone to lecture the House on the necessity to expedite public business, to remember this fact. I wish to warn the Prime Minister that in initiating late sittings he is starting upon a course which, if persisted in, will eventually demoralize the Parliament and demoralize it in a way that he will regret as keenly as will any one. I am speaking as one who has had long experience of the effect of such a system on a State Parliament. It is because of this that I am so anxious to avoid late sittings.
-I would remind the honorable member that the hours of sitting are not under discussion.
– I am pointing out that with Melbourne as the Seat of Government, the sacrifice in the performance of public duties is unequal. It is all very well for representatives of Victoria to demand late sittings. Every one knows, for instance, that the Attorney- General is accustomed to walk through one door of this Chamber and out at the other.
– Absolutely incorrect.
– It is a matter of notoriety that the honorable and learned gentleman does this in order that his name may be registered on the attendance list.
– That is an outrageous statement.
– And yet thereis no honorable and learned member who lectures the House more than he does.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the estimates of the Department of Home Affairs.
– I am dealing with the question of the Federal Capital, as to which a sum appears on the Estimates now under discussion. I am pointing out that as long as Melbourne is the Seat of Government there cannot be a fair apportionment of sacrifice in the performance of our public duties.
-The honorable member is justified in making that statement, but he will remember that when I interrupted him he was proceeding to discuss the bearing and personal attributes of the Attorney-General.
– I did so in order to illustrate the point I was making. The charge hasbeen made again and again that we are neglecting public business, ana it has been made more frequently by the Attorney-General than by any other honorable member. It is well known that those who live in glass houses usually heave the largest stones, and no man lives in a house more composed of glass in this respect than does the Attorney-General. It is a matter of notoriety that ‘he often walks through the Chamber in order that his name may be recorded in the attendance list, and that we then see his face no more during the remainder of the sitting.
– Outside this House, such a statement would be stigmatized as a deliberate falsehood.
– Order ! I ask the honorable and learned gentleman not to make such a statement ; it is evidently calculated to lead to trouble. I must request him to withdraw it.
– I do so, sir; but I consider that I have received very great provocation, and that the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta could in no circumstances be justified.
– I now ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to pursue a course that is calculated to lead to friction, but to endeavour asfar as possible to confine his remarks to the Estimates under discussion.
– I have no wish to provoke these animosities. It is unfortunate that a mere statement of fact should provoke them. Let me take, as another illustration, the position of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. At the close of the session the records show that he has not missed a single sitting : but it is easy for him to putin an appearance here. All that he has to do is to have his attendance registered, and then leave the Chamber to look after his business, if he cares to. ‘
– The honorable member does not sav that I do that?
– I say that the honorable member, and other representatives of Victoria, do not put any more time in the Chamber than many of the representatives of other States do, although we have a great many less attendances to show.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member must know that such an observation is quite unparliamentary, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I say that the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta is absolutelv untrue.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement without any qualification.
– I withdraw it, and say that the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta is absolutely contrary to fact, and that no one knows it better than he does.
– The honorable member must withdraw the latter part of his statement.
– I withdraw it, but I know that it is correct.
– I am afraid that my honorable friend does not know lt, or he would not have taken exception to the remark that I made.
– Does the honorable member know of any one who attends more regularly than I do? I am never out of the House.
– All that I said was that some of the representatives of Victoria did not put in more time in this Chamber than did many of the representatives of other States.
– Why did the honorable member single me out?
– I did not. I referred to him and some other Victorian members.
– The honorable member was making a most unfair attack on some of his own supporters.
– Can it be said that I attack any one when I say that some of the representatives of Victoria do not give more time to the performance of their public duties than I do?
– The honorable member said thatwe came into the House to secure the registration of our attendance, and went away again.
– I said some of them did. I am anxious not to say anything that would disturb the honorable member’s peace of mind. My point is that this is a democratic Chamber, and that, although we are supposed to believe in equality of sacrifice, there can be no equality of sacrifice, as applied to the performance of our parliamentary duties, whilst the Parliament continues to meet in Melbourne. I should not have said this but for the initiation of a new order of things by the present Ministry. Last night, after spending two nights in a railway train, I was refused an adjournment, although the hour of midnight was fast approaching. As long as the Government will agree to adjourn at a reasonable hour, I shall have nothing to say in this regard. It is all very well for a Minister who is living on the spot - to whom attendance is a trifling matter - to advocate late sittings. He has not to endure, week after week, a racking railway journey to reach his home, and he should not seek to take advantage of those who have to travel Jong distances in order to attend here. No honorable member spends more time and energy in the performance of his duties than do those who come from their distant homes. The sooner we determine the site of the Capital the sooner we shall understand each other better - at least, in relation to parliamentary business - and the sooner will there be a much better appreciation of each other’s difficulties than now appears to be the case. If honorable members who represent Victoria had to journey, say, to Dalgety, in order to attend to their parliamentarv duties, they would not be so anxious for the House to sit after midnight as they now seem to be. I hope that - if only from this consideration - some steps will speedily be taken to settle the question of the site of the Capital. I trust that when the AttorneysGeneral do meet the present longrange firing will cease, and that they will cease to heap up technical difficulties. I am bound to say that those tactics appertain to no one party to the dispute. There is one other little matter which I should like to mention, and that is the difference which is made between honorable members in regard to the privilege - if it can be called so, though I think that it should be looked upon as a right - of taking one’s wife occasionally on a trip, perhaps to one’s electorate. Under the present system, if a member lives at a place from which he can travel in a direct line to the Capital and also to his electorate, he can obtain a pass for his wife as often as he likes, but if he is differently situated he is not allowed this privilege. I ask the Minister to look into the matter, with a’ view to putting all on the same footing. With regard to the proposal to expend £5,000 upon a Statistical Bureau, I hope that an arrangement will be made with the Governments of the States under which the Commonwealth will take over some of their functions, and thus save them an expenditure at least as large as that which we are undertaking. If there is one thing more than another which is of Federal concern it is the collection of statistics, and steps should be . taken to try to persuade the States to cease to perform their functions in that respect, and allow the work to be done bv the Commonwealth. I hardly think that thev will insist on Keeping up their Statistical Bureaux when they find that the work is being adequately done by a Federal agency. In my opinion, no fresh officers need be appointed. Bv an arrangement with the States their officers could be transferred to the Commonwealth, and, no doubt, a saving could be effected, and greater efficiency secured, by the collection of statistics by one agency instead of by several.
– In criticising the Estimates of this Department, I should like to draw attention, in the first place, to the immense cost of the administrative staff. Last year the amount appropriated was ;£7,886, but the expenditure exceeded that amount by £333- This year .£8,776 is set down, an increase of nearly £900. Then, in connexion with the maintenance of the Public Works staff, we have an increase of - over £4.300.
– There is no increase in expenditure, but merely a transference of items.
– Last year the appropriation was £13,527, while this year £17,824 is asked for. When the honorable member for Hume was Minister of Home Affairs, he told us that the creation of a Public Works staff would mean an expenditure of only £J 1,200 or £2,000 a- year; but I said at the time that the proposal was objectionable, not because of the immediate expense, but because of what would follow. Now my remarks are being justified. Whereas £2,000 was considered sufficient in 1902, we are now being called upon to vote £9,048 for this branch. Facts like these afford ground for the complaints of the Treasurers of the States. I consider the Department of Home Affairs a big bundle of red tape, which we have to waste our time in disentangling. It is no better than a circumlocution office. Whenever any public work is to be carried out in connexion with one of the other Departments, instead of the officers of that Department or the officers of the States Works Departments being made responsible, the matter has to be referred to the Department of Home Affairs. Consequently all proposals for public works have to pass through the hands of numerous record and correspondence clerks, and go backwards and forwards between Under Secretaries and Ministers, until the proper formal authority is obtained. No- doubt, as the honorable member for North Sydney explained to me this afternoon, the Department saves the Commonwealth considerable expense in supervising and cutting down the proposals put before them, but I still think that it is altogether too expensive. Then we have an Electoral branch, although most of the work connected with elections is done by the postal officials. If it were all handed over to that Department, I am satisfied that it would be much more efficiently performed. The honorable member for North Sydney is, I believe, satisfied that the Electoral branch should be made part of the Postal Department. I was not aware the other evening that he proposed to carry out that change in a Bill which he intended to introduce. I consider that such a step would be a very proper one, and if the change is proposed I shall heartily support it. Then there is the Public Service Commissioner’s branch. We were told when the Public Service Bill was before the House that we ‘ should get a model service. ‘ I wish to show honorable members what the cost of administering that service is, and to do so I shall refer to the salaries of some of the officers at the head of the various Departments. This information is taken from the classification of the Public Service Commissioner. I find that Mr. H. H. Lewis, of the Department of External Affairs, whose name appears second on page 1 of the classification, received when in State employ £290 per annum. When he became a Commonwealth officer his salary was increased to .£350 per annum; but the Public Service Commissioner, in grading the service, thought that that was not enough, and raised it to £360 per annum, so that he obtained an increase of £70 in two years - a very big rise, considering the amount of his original salary. Then Mr. F. J. Quinlan, whose name appears on the fourth page, was receiving in State employ £225 per annum, and obtained £260 per annum on being transferred to the Commonwealth. His salary has been increased by the Commissioner to /T285 per annum. In the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, Mr. G. H. Castle, whose name appears second on page 2 of the classification, was receiving 1^350 from the State, and on being transferred to the Commonwealth’ service, obtained £500 per annum. The Commissioner has raised his salary to £520 per annum. Mr. D. Miller, of the Department of Home Affairs, whose name appears first on page 3 of the classification, was receiving a salary of £425 in the employ of the State. That was raised to ^750 on his being transferred to the Commonwealth, and was increased to £850.
– That is not the amount set down on the Estimates.
– I understand that the salaries of the Under Secretaries have been fixed at £800, instead of the £8,50 allotted to them bv the Public Service Commissioner.
– That was a censure on the Public Service Commissioner.
– Honorable members can think what they like about the matter. I am giving the bald facts. Mr. W. G. Batten, whose name appears as No. 16 on page 3 of the classification, had no State service, but received £211 on being appointed to the Commonwealth Service, and has been raised to £235 by the Public Service Commissioner. Mr. S. Williams, whose name appears seventeenth on the same page, had also no State service, but received £161 On joining the Commonwealth Service, and has been raised to £185 by the Commissioner. Mr. G. J. Oakshott whilst in the State service received £425. On joining the Commonwealth service, his salary was increased to £600. Mr. H. C. Brown received under the State ^175, and under the Commonwealth £200, and the Commissioner has now raised his salary to £210.
– These officers are performing duties very different from those they had to discharge under the State.
– Their services cannot be worth double, as much to us as they were to the State.
– They are fulfilling much higher duties, and have to bear greater responsibilities, and yet receive smaller salaries’ than are paid to officers occupying corresponding positions in the States.
– That does not affect my contention that their salaries have been increased to an inordinate degree. Mr. Oldham, another officer, was receiving’ £350 under the State, and £500 under the Commonwealth. That was a substantial increase, but the Commissioner has augmented the salary to ‘the extent of another £20 per annum. This is the Commissioner who said that he was going to look after the interests of the taxpayers. In the Home Affairs Department I find that one of the officers, Mr. Newman, who received £150 under the State, had his salary increased to £350 when he joined the Commonwealth service, and has received a further increase at the hands of the Commissioner of £10. In fact, the Commissioner has increased the salaries of all but five officers belonging to the central Staff.
– What salaries are paid to officers occupying similar positions in the State sendees?
– I . do not know. I am dealing with the Commonwealth service. I wish honorable members to be placed in possession of the facts, because there is bound to be a day of reckoning before very long. Some of the States Governments piled up the salaries of public servants to such an. extent that retrenchments had to be made, and in Queensland officers who were formerly in receipt of -/It 00 and £800 now have to be content with £200 or £,300 Per annum. Of course, they consider that they have been badly treated, and so they have been, because they were led to believe that their salaries would be increased by annual increments until they reached very large amounts. The taxpayers, however, could not stand the strain, and it must be remembered that we are nearly at the end of our financial tether, so far as Commonwealth expenditure is concerned. The Treasurer is already looking round for more money, and when it becomes necessary to make pro- vision for fresh expenditure, the first to suffer will be the public servants. I want to give honorable members fair warning. I do not say that the officers are incompetent, or that they do not deserve high salaries, but there is a limit beyond which we cannot afford to go. I am endeavouring to show that there is a vast difference between the salaries which these officers received when they were in the States services, and those which they are now being paid. Surely it will not be contended that the services of these men are worth to us double what they were worth to the States.
– I do not say that, but I contend that officers occupying similar positions in the States are paid higher salaries.
– It is very strange that the States officers are tumbling over one another in their eagerness to secure positions in the Federal service. The number of applications I have received from States officers has been positively alarming ; and I cannot understand why they should be so eager to leave the States services if they are being so well paid as the honorable member’s remarks would lead one to believe. In the office of the Public Service Commissioner, I find that Mr. Reddin, the secretary to the Commissioner, was in receipt of a salary of£450 under the State, and that he is now being paid . £600 per annum.
– He now holds a position corresponding to that he held in the State service.
– There is the answer to the observation of the honorable member for Bourke. Mr. J. P. Richard received £300 under the State, and £400 under the Commonwealth ; and his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £420. Mr. Healey received £200 under the State, and £350 under the Commonwealth, whilst the Public Service Commissioner has raised hissalary to £400. In other words, his income has been doubled within three years.
– He is a very competent officer.
– He must be. He is the officer who has given the Commonwealth legal advice, which has led them into an expenditure of . £12,000. Mr. W. J. Skewes received under the State£260. and the same amount when hejoined the Commonwealth service; but the Commissioner has increased his pay to £310 per annum. Mr. H. McTaggart received£200 under the State, and £250 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has further increased his salary to £285. Mr. H. Earle received£220 under the State, and the same salary under the Commonwealth, but the Commissioner has increased his salary to £260. Mr. E. L. Slattery had no service in the State, but he was taken into the Commonwealth service at asalary of £190, which has been increased by the Commissioner to£210. In connexion with the Inspector’s staff, I find that Mr. E. C. Kraegen received £220 under the State, and£250 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has raised the salary to £285. Mr. W. J. Clemens received £215 under the State and . £235 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has increased the salary to £285. Mr.P.E. Walcott received . £200 under the State, and £210 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has given him an increase of £50. Mr. C. H. Rogers received £150 under the State, and£185 under the Commonwealth, and his salary has been further increased by the Commissioner to £210. Mr. G. E. Wilson received £165 under the State, and £185 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has increased the amount to £210. In the Treasurer’s Department, Mr. G. T. Allen received £700 under the State, and £750 under the Commonwealth. Thesalary was increased by the Commissioner to , £850, but this officer was treated in the same manner as Colonel Miller, and his remuneration is now fixed at £800 per annum. Mr. J. R. Collins received £200 under the State and £420 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner gave him another £60. making the total£480. Mr. C. J. Cerrutty received £200 under the State,£310 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner raised his salary to £360. Mr. J. T. Heathershaw received£200 under the State, and £235 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has increased the salary to . £285. Mr. T. W. Jolliffe received £145 under the State, and £235 under the Commonwealth, and his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £260. Mr. A. P. Kelly, of the Treasury staff, received £130 under the State, and . £235 under the Commonwealth, and the Commissioner has increased the salary to £260. Mr. W. H. Osborne received £200 under the State, £235 under the Commonwealth, and under the Commissioner’s classification is entitled to £260. Mr. D. Ferguson received , £200 under the State, and £210 under the Commonwealth, and his salary has been further increased by the Commissioner to £260. Mr. J. Anderson received £200 under the State, and£210 under the Commonwealth, and his salary now stands at £235. Mr. F. J. Ross received £200 under the State and £335 under the Commonwealth, and his salary was increased by the Commissioner to £360. Mr. A. Bolle received £200 under the State, and£260 under the Commonwealth, and his salary was increased by the Commissioner to£285. Mr. P. Whitton received . £420 under the State, and£560 under the Commonwealth, and the salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £580. Mr. G. G. Todd received £290 under the State, and £310 under the Commonwealth, and his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £360. Mr. G. H. Gatehouse received£240 under the State and £310 under the Commonwealth, and his salary has been raised to £335. Mr. J. C. Vardon received £280 under the State and£310 under the Commonwealth, and his salary now stands at £335.
– Perhaps these officers have more work to do than in the services in which they were formerly employed.
– But their work cannot have doubled itself in value.
– In some cases they have been given much more responsible work to do.
– In nearly every case the honorable member has mentioned the salaries paid are lower than those attached to corresponding positions in the State services ; yet the honorable member has stated that the States Treasurers are justified in their complaints regarding Federal extravagance.
– The States Treasurers are justified in what they have stated, and my action in directing attention to these enormous increases in salaries is warranted by the fact that it is our duty to look after the interests of the States. This is no personal matter with me, but merely one of duty to my constituents.
– The salary received by the State officer for ‘New South Wales ‘ who occupies a position similar to that filled by Mr. Collins is£260 higher than that received by our official.
– Yes ; Mr. Collins has very important work to do, and is one of the best officers in the service.
– Now the personal element is being introduced.
– No; we have made provision for payment by merit.
– It is very strange that every honorable member who has been a Minister, and has come into contact with these officers, should stick up for them.
– We have had experience, and know what the officers are worth.
– I find that Mr. J. L. Cantwell received . £230 under the State, and £310 under the Commonwealth, and that his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £335. Mr. P. W. Lovett received £200 whilst in the State service, his salary was increased to£260 when he joined the Commonwealth service, and that amount has been further increased by the Commissioner to£285 per annum. Mr. E. L. Puddicombe was in receipt of £180 per annum when in the employ of the State, and the amount ‘was increased to £210 upon entering the Commonwealth service. The Public Service Commissioner has further increased his salary to £235. Mr. E. W. Daddo, who received £160 under the State, was appointed to the Commonwealth Service at the same salary, which has since been increased bv the Commissioner to £210, Mr. R. H. Reeves drew £145 per annum when in the employ of a State, but was appointed to the Commonwealth service at a salary of . £210, which sum has been further increased by the Commissioner to £235.
– The Victorians have been treated well.
-I do not know who are Victorian officers and who are not. Some of them are crying out that they are not sufficiently paid, My leader has said that Mr. Collins is not sufficiently paid.
– He did not say that.
– Then, what did he say?
– He inferred that Mr. Collins was fairly well paid for the work which he was performing.
Mr.PAGE. - My leader has a very good lieutenant in the honorable member for Barrier. The honorable member got him out of that difficulty very well indeed. I come now to the Customs central staff. No doubt the Minister of Trade and Customs will urge that the whole of the members of the central staff are good officers. I notice that . since the honorable member for Hume returned to office, the Customs authorities have been very vigilant, indeed, particularly in regard to harvesters. I find that Mr. S. Mills, when in the employ of the State, received £400 per annum, which amount was increased to £600 upon his appointment to the Commonwealth. Mr. R. M. Oakley, when in the service of a State, received £200. He joined the Commonwealth Service at £250, and his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £310. Mr. W. H. Barkley received £250 whilst in the employ of a State, but was appointed to the Commonwealth service at a salary of £310. The Commissioner has made no increase in his case. Mr. J. F. McGuiness was appointed to the Commonwealth service at a salary of £250 per annum, which amount has been increased by the Public Service Commissioner to£260. On the Treasury staff Mr. N. Synan, who received £130 when in the employ of a State, was appointed to the Commonwealth Service at£200. His salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £210. Under the State Mr. Townsend received £400, but he was appointed to the Commonwealth service at a salary of £800 per annum. Does not that represent a fair increase?
– That is the value of his office.
– His office may be worth £1,000 per annum. I am merely showing the increases which have been given. I come now to the Defence staff. I find that Mr. Pethebridge, when in the employ of a State, received a salary of £400. He was appointed to the Commonwealth service at £520. Mr. T. Trumble, when under the State, drew £200 per annum, and when he joined the Commonwealth service his salary was increased to £310. The Commissioner has since raised it to £335. Mr. W. Hancock, whilst in the State employ, received £200 per annum, and upon joining the Commonwealth Service his salary was increased to £250. It has since been further raised by the Public Service Commissioner to £260 per annum. On the PostmasterGeneral’s staff, I find that Mr. Oxenham, who, under the State, received £400 was appointed to the Commonwealth service at £600. Mr. Templeton drew £300 per annum when in the service of a
State, but was appointed to the Commonwealth service at £420 per annum; and his salary has been increased by the Commissioner to £440. Mr. P. Howe was receiving £240 per annum under a State Government, and upon his appointment to theCommonwealth service his salary was raised to £310 per annum. Mr. J. Lynar received £200 whilst in the employ of a State, but was appointed to the Commonwealth service at £250 per annum. His salary has since been increased by the Commissionerto £260. Mr. A. Godso, who received £200 in a State, was appointed to the Commonwealth service at £250, and his salary has since been raised to £260. The total number of clerical officers upon the central staffs is 148. Of these, forty-eight officers have had their salaries increased to the extent of £4,465 per annum as compared with amounts paid to them by the States Governments, and the Commissioner has further increased thesalaries of fortyseven of them by £1,493 per annum. The moral is that any officer who wishes to rise and secure a big salary should get appointed to the central staffs.
– Is there not more work to be done there?
– The honorable member was not present during the earlier portion of my speech, otherwise he would not have made that interjection. I merely wish to put these facts before the public, in order that they may see how we are getting along. I desire to tell the Minister of Home Affairs that, though he is a personal friend of mine, I will not support any Government which is extravagant in regard to the civil service.
– Extravagance will lead to retrenchment.
– That is what I have already told the Minister.
– And any reductions which may be made hereafter will not affect those officers who have received these large increases.
– No; they will come off the salaries of the lower-paid officers. A few days ago I put a question to the AttorneyGeneral to which he promised to furnish a reply. I asked him whether the proceedings against Nicholas Hart were instituted upon the advice of the Crown Law Officers. I know that I was on theright track when I stated that the Public Service Commissioner did not act on the advice that was tendered to him by the Crown Law authorities. Had he done so, I am satisfied that the Commonwealth would not have been landed in the expensive law suit which is now in progress in Queensland. The Government must entertain the opinion that there is something at stake in those proceedings, because they have retained the strongest bar obtainable in Queensland to defend the action. Furthermore, they have practically pleaded guilty bv paying £10 into Court in satisfaction of Mr.’ Hart’s claim for wrongful dismissal. The Public Service Commissioner has brought about all this trouble by acting on the advice of a subordinate officer in his Department in the person of Mr. Healey. The latter figures upon the Estimates as an examiner - not as a Crown Law- Officer. The Public Service Commissioner has flouted the opinion ,of the Crown Law authorities, and has accepted the advice of one of his subordinates. By so doing he has landed the Commonwealth in an expenditure which may involve hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. Unless full publicity is given to the facts of this case I shall worry the Government over it during the remainder of the session. After the Crown Law officers had advised the Public Service Commissioner that Mr. Hart’s case should be heard by a certain board of inquiry, the Commissioner, acting upon the advice of one of his subordinates, had him tried by another board.
– Does the honorable member say that the Public Service Commissioner set aside the advice of the Crown Solicitor, and acted upon that of a subordinate ?
– Emphatically, I do.
– I will inquire into the matter.)
An Honorable Member. - The papers do not support the honorable member’s statement.
– Then the papers lie.’ If the Minister will move in the direction of transferring the Electoral Office to the Postal Department, nobody will champion his action more thoroughly than I will. As I have already stated, the course suggested is the proper one to adopt.
– The other evening, when my Estimates were before the Chamber, the honorable member for Maranoa put to me the question which he has repeated to-night. At that lime I was not prepared to give him any information/ because the matter to which he refers does not concern this year’s Estimates at all; It has no relation to them. The question which the honorable member for Maranoa put relates to some trouble which arose .whilst the late Government were in office. I do not wish to suggest that that Government was to blame, but am simply explaining that that fact may account for the anxiety of the honorable member to make sure that the matter is not silenced. A Mr. Hart occupied the position of travelling mail officer, and the circumstances relating to his ‘case cover a precis of thirty-two pages, whilst they extend in date from November, 1903, to July, of the present year.
– So that the case extends over the term of office of several Ministries.
– The particular incident to which the honorable member refers occurred in November, 1904. It is a very complicated matter, the rights and wrongs of which, I gather, have yet to be determined by a Court of law. I am not going to enter upon a consideration of the merits of the case. It would be out of place and quite improper to do so; but the question which my honorable friend put on Tuesday night was whether the Commissioner, in taking the step that led to the matter now being challenged, acted upon the advice of the Attorney-General or upon the recommendation or advice of one of his own immediate subordinates. So far as I can gather from the papers before me, as well as by the assistance of the Secretary of my Department, it appears that the Commissioner in that particular matter had no direct advice from the Attorney-General’s Department, but acted on the recommendation or advice of his own immediate subordinate. I think that it would be improper for me to go any further into the case, or to attempt to deal with the merits of the dispute.
– The Minister of Home Affairs is realizing, as his predecessors have done, that a Department which touches honorable members so closely as does that over which he presides will never lack criticism. Coming to the carefully prepared statement submitted by the honorable member for Maranoa, in which the salaries received by officers before being taken over from the States services, are compared with those paid them on entering the Commonweath service, as well as with those proposed to be paid under the classification scheme, I would point out that he omitted to make any reference to the principal cause of the difference in the expenditure. The chief cause for the increase in the expenditure of the Commonwealth service, as compared with the salaries paid to these officers by the States is that this Parliament decidedand I am not finding fault with that decision - that those who had been in the service for three years, and had attained the age of twenty-one, should receive not less than £120 per annum.
– I dealt only with the Central staffs.
– I think that the honorable member’s comparison was perfectly correct. It has also to be remembered in connexion with some of the officers of the Central staffs that the salaries were fixed by Parliament before chey were filled. That, I think, is the case with reference to the head of the Patents Office. Parliament having fixed the salary, it became the duty of the Government to secure the best officer - and preferably a State officer, because it is only right that States servants should have the first opportunity of promotion if transfer to the Commonwealth Service means advancement - for this office. The Government, of which I was a member, had nothing to do with that appointment ; but Parliament having arrived at this decision, it became the duty of the Ministry of the day to see that the position was filled by the best officer obtainable. The fact that the officer selected was not receiving whilst in the State employ as much as it was proposed to give him in Ivs new office may have been because there was not a sufficiently important position available for him.
– Probably no promotion was open to him.
– He might have reached the top of a comparatively small Department. If a higher salary were given him on his transfer to the Commonwealth sen ice, that was no reflection upon the Ministry which appointed him, so long as they were careful to ascertain that, he was the bust applicant for the position. I am quite sure that the honorable member for Maranoa would not object to the salaries paid, .it all events, to some of these officers.
– That is so.
– Some of the young men who were selected from the services of the States because of their special ability, and were put to much more important work than they were formerly doing, have amply justified the payment of the salaries they are receiving.
– That was quite a democratic proceeding.
– I think it was a perfectly proper one. In my opinion all the prizes should not go to those who are at the top ; we ought to encourage merit on the part of those who are at lower levels. While I admit that all these matters should receive the careful consideration of honorable members, I think that in the majority of cases - and of course I do not profess to be familiar with all of them; - it can be shown that the officers selected are equal to the more important duties they are performing for the Commonwealth. They are men who had not an opportunity in the service of the States to attain positions to which their merit entitled them. Various suggestions have been made as tr> the way in which we should deal with car public works. Some of those who have condemned the present system have apparently forgotten that I have previously criticized any unnecessary expenditure in connexion with the Public Works Department of the Commonwealth. It would be very undesirable, unless the Commonwealth were actually compelled by the neglect or refusal of co-operation by the States, to duplicate or triplicate the States expenditure, and to increase, consequently, the burden on the people. If some of the suggestions that have been made to-night were adopted, the people of the Commonwealth would be subjected to an enormously increased burden, without any compensating advantage. It has been suggested that the Commonwealth Department should undertake all its own work - that it should supervise the construction and repairing of Commonwealth buildings from one end of Australia to another. Those who have made that proposal could not have considered what an immense staff would be necessary.
– Nor the travelling expenses that would be incurred.
– The expenses would be enormous. Our buildings must be inspected from time to time in order that they may not be allowed to fall into disrepair. In some parts of Australia, owing to the injurious effect of the climate, close and frequent examinations have to be made, and it would be altogether unjustifiable to have a staff of Commonwealth officers inspecting all our buildings, from one end of Australia to the other, whilst States officers were on the spot and able to do the work for us. We ought, wherever possible, to avail ourselves pf the cooperation of the States. I am satisfied that the relations of the Commonwealth and of the States in this regard can be made to work more smoothly than they have done. Whilst I occupied the office of Minister of Home Affairs, I took steps to that end, and am sure that the present Minister will follow up that action. I caused Public Works officers of the different States to meet in Melbourne, and they carefully considered the whole of the arrangements and the regulations, so that methods that would result in the least possible delay in carrying out Commonwealth works might be devised. As the result of this conference, they promised that they would, in the future, heartily co-operate with us. That being so, the few misunderstandings or delays that have occurred, owing to a lack of familiarity with the system, ought to be removed.
– There is evidence that the system is working in that direction.
– It must also be remembered that many of the delays that have occurred have been due to the action of the Parliament itself. As a rule the Estimates have not been passed until towards the end of November, and consequently only six months haye remained within which to carry out work that was supposed to occupy twelve. If the work could not be accomplished within the financial year, delays had necessarily to take place, as re-votes had to be made.
– I regret that the honorable member, when Minister of Home Affairs, did not succeed in securing the use of the whole of the Customs House, Sydney, for the Commonwealth.
– We tried to do so, and came to an arrangement that the matter should be allowed to stand over pending the settlement of the question of the housing of the Land and Income Tax Department, when, it was said, reconsideration would be given to our request, with the object of meeting the desire of the Commonwealth Government.
– The whole question of the transferred properties must be settled in some way or other.
– That is so, and if they cannot be settled amicably other steps must be taken. Every effort should be made in the first place, however, to endeavour to arrange an amicable settlement. I do not intend to enter into a general defence of the Department. On a previous occasion I expressed my views as to the good work which most of the officers were doing, and I do not withdraw from the position which I then took up in regard to the management of the Electoral Department branch. I am satisfied that if it is left in its present position great danger may be created at some future time. Although the officers of the branch are doing all they can to systematize and organize it, the conditions under which they are compelled to work prevent them from getting the effective results which they desire. After careful thought and consideration, I therefore came to the conclusion that, as we are making so much use of the Postal Department in connexion with elections - a use which is approved by experience,’ and the recommendations of a Committee which inquired into the whole question - we should endeavour to obtain still more effective assistance from that Department than we now get. At the present time difficulties occur because the officers of the Postal Department are not officers of the Department of Home Affairs and some of them therefore decline to undertake the work of the Electoral branch. Others undertake it unwillingly. Some, of course, are glad to have it to do, and make themselves thoroughly acquainted with all its requirements, but removals are constantly taking place, sometimes very inconveniently for the Electoral branch, and in this way considerable trouble, if not serious consequences, might be occasioned at the time of a general election. At present we have to make use, as registrars and for other work, of toomany persons who are not members of the Public Service. I am not criticising the manner in which they do their work, but difficulties are occasioned because of the numerous changes which this system necessitates, because of (he constant removals from district to district, and because those who have taken up the work to gain a little extra remuneration subsequently find themselves fully occupied in their ordinary callings, and give it up. It was my intention - andI gave evidence of it by omitting from an Electoral Bill which I had drafted the provision which places the Electoral branch under the Minister of Home Affairs - to ask Parliament to affirm the desirability of removing that branch to the Postal Department.
– What advantage would thus be gained ?
– In the administration of the Electoral Act important work is now being done by postal officials. Many of the officers of the Postal Department, however, are rather unwilling servants of the Department of Home Affairs. Then, too, postal officials may be removed from place to place at any time, and it often happens that those who take their places have no experience of electoral work. Furthermore, a postmaster who is working for the Electoral branch cannot now call upon his staff to help him, although he may be overworked, and the staff, as sometimes happens in country places, is not fullyoccupied at certain times of the day. At the present time, if such an officer asked for assistance from his staff, he might be met with refusals, because his officials are not in any way the servants of the Department of Home Affairs.
– Could not the PostmasterGeneral issue instructions that subordinate officials should assist postmasters in this work ?
– That would make the work of the Electoral branch a concern of the Postal Department, and, that being so, I think that the branch itself should be under the administration of the Postal Department.
– A large number of other persons would still have to be employed in connexion with electoral work.
– If an arrangement could be made between the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States, whereby the officials of the Post Office, the State school teachers, and the police, would jointly undertake both Federal and State electoral work, we should have one of the most effective electoral Departments that could be devised, and the work would be carried on as cheaply as possible.
– Uniformity of legislation would be required to make that system effective.
– A greater approach to uniformity is necessary, and that is being attempted in the Bill which is now before another Chamber. Just as the youths who enter the Post Office become acquainted with money-order work before undertaking it, merely by coming into contact with those who are conducting that branch of the postal business, so the officials of tha Postal Department would become acquainted with electoral work if the electoral branch were transferred to the Postal Department ; and there would then be nc difficulty in getting officers of experience wherever they were required, no matter what changes were made. Furthermore, instead of the work being done spasmodically as at present, it would be done regularly and systematically. The police who are scattered: all over Australia, and who now collect more or less accurate electoral rolls - though sometimes there is not a very close approach to accuracy - would, under the arrangement which I suggest, perform a much more efficient service, and, instead of things having a constant tendency to drift back towards chaos, because of the impossibility of supervision, everything would become more and more orderly. For instance, if we had the aid of the letter-carriers, we should be able to get information of removals and arrivals in the various districts from day to day, week to week, or month to month.
– That would be only in the towns.
– The .information collected by the letter-carriers would affect the larger portion of our population. Besides them there are those who handle letters in country districts, who could supply a good deal of similar information. In that way, everything would tend to the keeping of correct rolls. In my opinion, the postal service will have to be more largely used by the Commonwealth than it was by the States in connexion with a number of matters. How else are we to reach all parts of Australia in connexion with the exercise, not only of the powers which we have already put into operation, but also of those which we shall subsequently take into our hands ? Would a private concern which had brandies in every State of the Commonwealth, and was undertaking a new agency, maintain new establishments alongside their old ones in order to handle it? No. They would employ their existing establishments. Similarly, the Commonwealth will have to employ the Postal Department. At first the officials may object to this, although they ought to rejoice in it. A branch of a mercantile house rejoices when it gets added business. Why? Because more important positions are thus created, and larger responsibilities are given. So, although the postal officials . may at first look askance at this proposal, when they find that the work which is being given to them, because they can best do it, will improve their positions, and demand the exercise of higher energies, and better intelligence, thus giving openings to smart men, they will rejoice at the benefits offered to them. I shall not go into the matter any more fully to-night. I have referred to it because it was mentioned by the honorable member or Maranoa, to whom I give credit for great acuteness, seeing that he had not had the opportunities for forming an opinion on the subject which I obtained in consequence of my connexion with the Department of Home Affairs. I could supplement what I have said by illustrations and statements of the experience of the electoral branch, but I shall reserve any further remarks on this head until the Electoral Bill is before us. In the meantime, I hope that honorable members will become familiarized with the suggestion, and be ready to come to some conclusion on the matter when it is brought before them. The State school teachers in out-of-the-way places would make splendid registrars, because they know all the families living round about, while the police would make excellent collectors. I gather from the fact that the change which I propose to make is not provided for in the Electoral Bill that the Minister is not favorable to my proposal ; but I assure him that I considered the question very carefully from all points of view before coming to the conclusion that the change should be made. Having come to that conclusion, I am not alarmed by the suggestion which has been made tonight for the abolition of the Department of Home Affairs, although the removal of the electoral branch might, to some extent, bring about the happy despatch. The work of enrolling electors all over Australia and of conducting polls at elections, must be undertaken in the interests, not of one Department, but of the whole Commonwealth. The Minister of Home Affairs must have bec-»i amused when it was suggested that he had very little to do. I am sure that if he does his duty - and I have no doubt he does - he will find plenty to do. We know that any Minister may make his work heavy or light according to the amount of attention he devotes to his duties.
– What was the experience of the honorable member?
– 1 found plenty to do. I admit that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department entails the most work upon the Minister, but I think the Home Affairs Department ranks next. I do not think that any great amount of extra work need be entailed on the PostmasterGeneral under the change I have proposed if the Chief Electoral Officer properly discharges his duties. The whole of the work of administration in connexion with the Commonwealth could be performed by one Department if it were sufficiently strengthened, but I do not believe in wholesale amalgamation. In the case which I have brought under notice, there is the best of reasons for making a change. If the services of the officials of the Post and Telegraph Department are to be utilized for the purpose of carrying out the work required to be performed under the Electoral Act, there is the strongest reason why the administration of that branch should be placed under the control of the Department of the PostmasterGeneral. Many other functions, which, so far, have not been exercised by the Commonwealth, will before very long have to be performed bv the Department of Home Affairs, the staff of which will find ample employment. I do not for a moment suggest that the officers of the Department of Home Affairs have not tried to do their best in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act. On the contrary, thev have performed their duties verv creditably, but my point is that the administration of the Act should be placed under the control of the PostmasterGeneral, the officers of whose Department are distributed throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Moreover, if the post-office staffs can be pressed into the service, there will be no necessity for postmasters, who are .also electoral officers, to overwork themselves to the same extent as formerly and we shall have at our disposal a thoroughly trained and numerous staff, which will be available for all emergencies. In this -way we should remove one of the greatest difficulties, indeed dangers, in connexion with our electoral system. I do not propose to move in this matter at present, but shall - defer action until the Electoral Bill is before us. I merely submit the suggestion for the consideration of the Minister and honorable members generally.
– I was very pleased to hear the suggestion made by the honorable member for North Sydney, because my ideas are entirely in accord with his, and I trust that his proposals will meet with approval when they are submitted to the House. The honorable member for Maranoa remarked that the Electoral Department might aptly be described as the circumlocution office, and I am disposed to agree with him. On one occasion, during the recess, I was in Brisbane, and I received an intimation from the Electoral Department that a certain gentleman had been appointed as the electoral officer for the district in which I live. Having an electoral matter to inquire about, I. went to the office in Fortitude Valley, and asked for the officer who had been named, and was surprised to be told that no one knew anything of him. It eventually transpired that the gentleman who had been appointed was acting as relieving officer during (he absence of the permanent occupant on leave, and that he had already left the district. Fully two months elapsed before the permanent officer was again officially gazetted. I think that affords a very good illustration of circumlocution or red tape. I have to thank the honorable member for Maranoa for having obtained from the Attorney-General information with regard to the case of Mr. Nicholas Hart, which I sought from the Postmaster-General some time ago.
– At one time I was under the impression, which seems to have been shared by many other honorable members, that the Department of Home Affairs was a typical circumlocution office, but, upon making inquiries, I came to the conclusion that very frequently the delays for which I had held the Department responsible had occurred elsewhere. In connexion with delay in the payment of accounts, the fault, if any, lay with the Treasury, which required to have proper vouchers supplied. In regard .to public works, I ascertained that many of the delays were clue to the extent to which the Department of Home Affairs had to rely upon the assistance of States officials. Whilst a number of officers in different Departments have to be consulted with regard to the one matter, delays must occur, and T do not think that the Department of Home Affairs has deserved much of the blame that -has been attached to it. I listened with considerable interest to the re marks of the honorable member for North Sydney, who was able to speak in the light of the experience gained during his administration of the Department of Home Affairs. There is much to commend his suggestion that the Electoral Office should be transferred to the Post and Telegraph Department. When the Electoral Office was first established, a central staff was formed, and officers were appointed to administer the Act in the various States, but the officials intrusted with the detail work were largely drawn from the Post and Telegraph Department. The principle was adopted of appointing as returning officers officials of the Post and Telegraph Department, but that was not strictly adhered to. The services of a number of gentlemen outside of the public service were also availed of, and the consequence was that we instituted a hybrid system. The reason given for appointing electoral officers outside of the ‘service was that it was impossible to secure efficient men on the spur of the moment. It seems to me that we should restrict appointments under the Electoral Act to officers of the public service, or enlist the services of the States returning officers, who are thoroughly competent men, and have had experience in connexion with elections for many years. Either one of these policies should be adhered to. I think the best plan is to confine appointments under the Electoral Act to officers of the Post and Telegraph Department. It should surely be possible to find in each of the electorates postal officials competent to discharge the duties of returning officers, divisional returning officers, assistant divisional returning officers, and electoral registrar’s. It would certainly be of great advantage to place the administration of electoral affairs under the control of the Postmaster-General and his officers. At present many appointments have to be revoked because of removals and of changes in tEe sendee. The work in this direction would be minimized if the Postal officials and the officers of the Electoral branch were brought into more direct touch than is possible under the present conditions. The present arrangement involves a large amount of work, and I am satisfied that by transferring the work of the Electoral Office to the Postal authorities a great saving, could be effected and ‘ increased efficiency secured. Consequently, I approve of the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney ; but before finally committing myself to the -policy out- lined I should like to have a further opportunity of looking into it. At the present time, the divisional returning officers in country districts are frequently harassed by the fact that they are unable to command the services of efficient men. The Postal officers, who are not specially appointed for that purpose, refuse to have anything to do with electoral work. Then, in remote centres, it frequently happens that post-offices are merely receiving offices. The work connected with them is often performed by individuals more for the sake of rendering a serviceto their neighbours than for the remuneration which they receive. These men cannot be expected to attend to electoral matters which involve clerical work. Under such circumstances, the State school teacher in the neighbourhood is probably better qualified to undertake that work than is anybody else, and his services should be utilized in this connexion. In making local arrangements, the greatest latitude should be given to the divisional returning officers. It ‘ is to their interest to secure the best assistance that is obtainable. I appeal to the Minister, as far ,as possible, to confine electoral appointments to officers of the Commonwealth or the State Public Services.
– That is the principle upon which we are acting.
– The practice, I fear, is one which is “ more honoured in the breach than in the observance,” because I understand that some very important positions have recently been filled by persons who are outside the Public Service.
– Sometimes the Postal officer objects to performing electoral work..
– That is so ; and in that case the Department must invoke outside assistance. I wish now to refer to another matter. It is alleged that prior to the last general election a meeting of divisional returning officers was held at various centres. They were consulted by the Chief ^Electoral Officer, Mr.. Lewis, who afterwards instructed them in the duties which they would be called upon to perform. There is a very wide conflict of testimony as to what actually occurred in the consultation room, lt is alleged by some that a promise was made that in addition to a salary to cover their services for the year- they would receive a special bonus for discharging the onerous duties con nected with the election which was then pending. When these officers made their claim it was promptly repudiated, and they were informed that their total remuneration had been fixed at £26 per annum. The result was that some of them retired immediately after the election had .been held. These received only a few shillings. This injustice was of such a glaring character that the Minister was induced to grant them some extra remuneration. But the claims of the officers who continued to discharge their duties were utterly ignored. ‘Some time ago, a deputation of these officers waited upon the late Minister of Home Affairs and submitted to him the evidence upon which they based their claim to the special allowance. Included in that evidence was a letter from the Electoral Officer of New South Wales, Mr. Biden. intimating that he quite understood that a bonus had been promised, and that he supposed the authorities would grant it. At any rate, the general impression amongst the divisional returning officers was that they would be paid a certain bonus, in addition to a salary for discharging their duties. In two or three cases they have acted upon that assumption, and paid the amount they were to receive to their credit. They were subsequently called upon to refund the money, the Government having decided to disallow their claim. I do not know whether they have complied with that demand, but when the deputation of divisional returning officers waited on the late Minister of Home Affairs in Sydney, they had not done so. I have since learned ‘ from non-official sources that the Minister decided not to allow the claim for a bonus of £2o for conducting the election, but to grant them up to £10 each to recoup actual out-of-pocket expenses in respect of which, because of the promise that had been given, no claim had previously been made. Having regard to the statements that I heard at that deputation, and the strong impression that I then formed as to the obligation of the Government to grant this bonus, not only to the officers of New South Wales, but to those of Victoria, I cannot help feel: ing that the Department has treated these men most ungenerously. As one having some little knowledge of the labour and expense incurred in conducting an election, I think that the claim made by these officers was a reasonable one.. If the Department desires to secure effective service, it is of first importance that divisional re- turning officers who have not only to attend to the working of the electoral machinery between -the holding of each election, but to personally supervise each ejection, should be allowed a bonus of ?20 in addition to the annual allowance of ?26 which they now receive. Every one must recognise the desirableness of securing the services of capable men. If an officer were guilty of carelessnesss, or showed a want of appreciation of his duties, he might involve the Department -in very heavy expense. Last year two elections were declared void owing, I believe, to the remissness of certain officers, and the result was that the Commonwealth was put to great expense. I propose to make further inquiries as to the allowances granted in respect of the last general election. If the decision arrived at by the late Minister was based upon sound and reasonable grounds, it must of course stand, but I do wish to impress upon the Minister the point that it is unreasonable to expect these officers to carry out the work for a sum of ?26 per annum. I understand that the granting of an additional allowance of ?20 in respect of each general election may be dealt with by regulation, and I trust that my suggestion will receive the earnest and favorable consideration of the Minister. If these officers are to be treated as they have been, I feel confident that the Department will not in future secure the best men for these positions.
– I wish to refer to a matter which could not be discussed when the Public Service classification scheme was before the House, but is nevertheless one of considerable importance to some public servants. The Commonwealth took over from the States a number of officers who, under the law of New South Wales and Victoria, were eligible for transfer from the non-clerical to the clerical division on passing, a certain examination. Since Federation, however, these officers have not had an opportunity to submit themselves for examination. The grievance I have to put before the Committee relates to the case of an officer of the Postal- Department, who was taken over from the Victorian State service. On 6th August, 1903, the following circular letter was sent by Mr. Scott, secretary of the Department, to the Deputy Postmasters-General, and was afterwards addressed by the Victorian Deputy Post- master-General to the officers in his branch of the service -
I have the honour to inform you that (so and so) being desirous of transfer to clerical division, has submitted an application to be allowed to qualify for same by passing an examination in the subject of geography only, he having passed in all other subjects prescribed for by Act 197 at examination held by State Government, held in December, 1900. The Commissioner has decided that all officers who partially qualified in this exam., such as (so and so), shall be allowed to complete their qualification for transfer to the clerical division by passing in the subjects they previously failed, and which are prescribed by Commonwealth regulations, such officers to note accordingly.
Mr. L. H. Leigh, of the post office, Geelong, was among those who, whilst in the Victorian service, submitted himself for examination for transfer from the nonclerical to the clerical division, and partially passed. He applied for permission to submit himself for examination to complete his pass, but was informed that only officers taken from the New South Wales service were entitled to this privilege. The following is a copy of the letter which he received from Mr. Reddin, secretary to the Public Service Commissioner: -
In reply to your communication applying for permission to complete your examination for admission to the Clerical Division of the Service, I am directed to inform you that the concession referred to in the notification which recently appeared in the Weekly Guide, issued by the Postal Department, was intended to apply only to three or four officers in New South Wales.
Under the Public Service Act of that State, officers who had partially passed the examination were permitted to complete their pass at a subsequent examination. As this was not, however, the law of Victoria, your application cannot be entertained.
I do not wish to deal with this case as a question of State against State, but desire the Minister to take steps to enable these men to undergo the necessary examination. They have waited with considerable patience for this opportunity, and attention ought certainly to be given to their case.
– I promise the honorable and learned member that I will inquire into the matter.
– In connexion with the item -
New edition, Seven Colonies, ?500,
I wish to draw attention to the fact that all the books issued by Mr. Coghlan are very indifferently indexed, with the result that much difficulty is frequently experienced in ascertaining the information which one seeks from these publications. I have previously mentioned this matter, but it appears that complaints made in connexion with the consideration of the Estimates have but little effect. In most statistical compilations a copious index is given, and is of very great assistance. I regret to say, however, that in many of Mr. Coghlan’s books the index is insufficient, while the information given is sometimes inexact. I have found mistakes in the index to the Seven Colonies, the wrong page being sometimes given. If honorable members turn to that work, they will find that the statement there given of the indebtedness of Australia does not correspond with that recently issued by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable member referring to the classification of the loans?
– And also to their nature. Many of the New South Wales loans are practically unredeemable, but anyone reading Mr. Coghlan’s publication would imagine that they were all repayable at fixed dates. We have no control over the issue of these works, but, as we expend £500 every year in purchasing copies of them, a suggestion might be made to the re. sponsible Minister in the New South Wales Government that a more complete index should be supplied, and that the information should be up-to-date and exact. The right honorable member for Balaclava found that the information supplied in Coghlan, and even by the State Treasury officials of New South Wales, was not quite correct. This matter certainly should be looked into, because it is extremely inconvenient to those who have to consult these works to be referred by the index to n certain page, and find that the information they are seeking is on some other page. These are little blemishes which1 could be easily removed, and I am sure would be removed, at the suggestion of the Minister.
– Attention has very properly been called to the increasing cost of this Department. I find that the salary of the secretary, whom I believe to be a first-class officer, has been increased by £50. I should like to know on what principle these salaries are fixed. It seems to me that the principle which applies to the service generally should apply to these higher officers as well.
– The Public Service Act puts the administrative officers on a different footing from that on which the rest of the service is placed.
– Yes; but the same principle should apply to all. The value of the work required in the performance of the duties of an office should be ascertained, and the officer filling the position should be paid accordingly. This officer is now receiving £750’, and it is proposed to make his salary £800
– The Public Service Commissioner valued the work attaching to the office at £850.
– I am not satisfied with his classification. I find that other officers have been dealt with differently. For instance, the Commissioner of Patents, who presides over a Department whose volume of business is rapidly increasing, and will, I hope, continue to increase, is not getting his salary raised; and in South Australia the salary of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral has been reduced.
– His predecessor, Sir Charles Todd, was getting a much higher salary, because, I believe, he did special work.
– I could find other illustrations. We should insist upon the application of the principle that every officer shall receive only the value of his work. I do not wonder at the complaints of the States in regard to our expenditure when these enormous increases are proposed.
– On the whole, there has been a reduction in the cost of the administrative division of the service.
– I think that, in some cases the salaries are too high. It does not matter how the duties of a man receiving a small salary are added to, he finds it difficult to get a rise of a shilling or two shillings a week; but, apparently, highly-paid officers can easily get an increase of £1 a week. Any one who is receiving over £600 a year ought to be called upon to do a great deal of work for it, and the proposed increase of £50 a year requires some explanation. I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa that we must p.ut an end to this state of things. I was a member of a Royal Commission which inquired into the administration of the Public Service of South Australia. We found that the service was getting top-heavy. Every man who entered one branch of the Railway Department, for instance, was receiving automatic increases of salary, until the burden was getting too heavy for the State to bear, and retrenchment had to be effected. Unless we are careful, the Commonwealth service will have to be similarly dealt with.
– These highly-paid officials do not do half as much work as we do.
– It is my experience that the second in command usually does a great deal more work than the head of the Department, and has much the same responsibility. I see that an amount is provided for classification increases, arrears, and increments on salaries over £160, but I understand that provision has not been made for the payment of all the increases to which officers are entitled, and that this is creating a great amount of dissatisfaction.
– Especially in the Postal Department.
– If the amount set down here is inadequate, a further amount will be provided in the Supplementary Esti- mates.
– I want the assurance of the Minister that those who are entitled to receive increases shall not be kept waiting for their money any longer. If some officers receive their increases and others do not, irritation will be caused, and that will not be in the best interests of the service.
– I generally indorse the complaint of the honorable member for Canobolas as to the misunderstanding which has arisen in connexion with the gratuities paid for work done by electoral officers at the last general election.
– The matter was investigated very carefully by my predecessor, and his decision, as reported on the papers, seems to be just.
– I do not know what that decision is.
– He decided to pay £10 over and above the remuneration to cover all out-of-pocket expenses.
– I think that the general understanding among the officers themselves was that they would get £20.
– No one had authority to promise that amount, and written instructions were sent out which were contrary to that understanding.
– I believe that a number of the divisional returning officers actually expended that amount, thinking that it would be refunded to them, and, seeing the amount of work expected of them, it seems rather parsimonious tor the Commonwealth to refuse to pay them their actual expenses. It must be remembered that the work is done at a tremendous sacrifice of spare time, and that the officers were under the impression that they would be refunded their expenses. Whatever arrangement may have been entered into after the misunderstanding that occurred at the last general election, I hope that some more reasonable rate of remuneration will be agreed upon, and that a definite allowance will be made to the divisional returning officers to compensate them in some measure for the amount of extra trouble that their work involves. There is no doubt that some of the work has been performed in an exceptionally creditable manner. I trust that the Minister will give this matter his attention, because I am sure that honorable members do not desire that those who perform service for us shall be dealt with in any niggardly spirit. I should like to know whether the proposed vote for the maintenance of Government House includes the cost of painting and interior decorations at the Melbourne Government House.
– We had to make a special provision for £550 for expenditure upon painting at the Government House, Melbourne. We are bound to maintain the establishment and deliver it over to the State authorities in good order and condition.
– I trust that when arrangements are made for any further painting or decorative work the Government will enlist the services of some one with alittle artistic feeling, and that we shall have no repetition of the atrociously bad colour scheme which has been recently carried out.
– We have . to consult the State authorities in a matter of that kind, because the property belongs to them.
– I cannot compliment the State authorities upon their artistic taste. I should like the Minister to indicate when the revised Public- Service Classification Scheme will be submitted to honorable members.
– I have already stated that the report is under consideration, and will be made available at the earliest possible moment.
– When may we reasonably expect to receive it -before the close of the session ?
– I am sure that honorable members will be anxious to ascertain what has been done to carry out certain suggestions made by honorable members when the Classification Scheme was under consideration, and I hope that the report will be presented without unnecessary delay.
– I desire to direct attention to the delay which has occurred in connexion with the carrying out of Commonwealth Public Works. It seems ridiculous that we should be called upon to vote moneys year after year for works unless! they are to be carried out within a reasonable time after the appropriation. It is disgusting to honorable members, who know that certain works are of an urgent character, to find that their construction is delayed, and that the money appropriated for them has to be revoted time after time. I do not know who is to blame, but, personally, I have an idea that some of the responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the States Treasurers, who have brought influence to bear upon the Commonwealth Treasurer, with a view to reducing the Commonwealth expenditure upon public works, merely because we have decided that the cost of public works shall be defrayed out of revenue instead of out of loan money. I do not believe that the fault lies with the officers, but blame is attachable to some one when we find that works approved of three years ago have not vet been completed. There is no justification for such delay. If the staff is not adequate it should be increased. When I instituted inquiry into the matter in Melbourne I was informed that the delay occurred in Adelaide, and when I made inquiries there I was assured that the authorities in Melbourne were responsible. Eventually I ascertained that in nearly every case the delay was traceable to the State charged with the supervision of the work. This is a very unsatisfactory state of things. The Commonwealth Departments are being discredited in the eyes of the public because of the tardiness with which these works are executed. As a matter of fact, the delay is chiefly due to a certain influence which is being brought to bear in the States, and which T fear is being applied to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. I would impress upon the Minister the desirableness of expediting the carrying out of these works. I am quite sure that the officers of the Department are eager to give effect to the instructions of this House. When we- approve of works being undertaken they ought to be put in progress with the utmost expedition.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I would suggest that the Minister should consent to an adjournment of the debate.
– Let us deal with the first subdivision.
– That is impossible. There are several honorable members who wish to speak. Surely it is not unreasonable to discuss the affairs of the Department for three hours. I venture to say that the Minister has known of Departments being discussed for two or three days. Do the Government anticipate keeping the House until 12 o’clock to-night?
– Certainly not.
– There are four honorable members present who wish to speak, and I know of several others who are now absent. I submit that it o’clock is the usual hour for adjournment.
– I trust that the Minister will consent to an adjournment of the debate. The request ls a most reasonable one. This morning I did not reach my home until 1 o’clock, and I had to attend a meeting of a Select Committee at half-past 10 o’clock. The Minister can accomplish no good by adopting these “ forcing” tactics, and I certainly think that he should agree to our request that progress be reported.
– I do not think it can be said that our request that the first division »>n the Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs should, at least, be passed before we adjourn was an unreasonable one. There is no desire to press the proposal if there are other honorable members who wish to discuss the division ; but the Government do not wish every item to be unduly debated.
– I never knew of a Government that wished its Estimates to be discussed.
– If there are any complaints to be made, they ought certainly to be ventilated, but I should like to know whether, if we consent now to progress being reported, the debate on this division is likely to be prolonged tomorrow ?
– I trust that if we consent now to report progress, honorable members opposite will assist us to pass the Estimates of one or two Departments before we adjourn to-morrow afternoon. It is necessary that we should make some progress before the week end, otherwise honorable members will not be able to leave for Sydney to-morrow night.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Ministerof Trade and Customs to the following paragraph in this evening’s issue of the Herald: -
The Collector of Customs, Mr. A. W. Smart, announces that the thousand Panama hats which had been taken over by the Department at the importers’ valuation, plus 30 per cent., as stated in yesterday’s Herald, have been withdrawn from sale.
The Customs officials are very reticent as to the reason of the withdrawal, but simply state that they have acted in accordance with the instructions of the Minister, who is “ considering the case.”
I should like to know whether the statement is correct, and if it is, whether the Minister will give the House some information as to the reasons of the withdrawal of these goods from sale?
– I understand that these hats were valued by the firm in question at1s. 4d. each, and that they have been valued for Customs purposes at 4s. each. If that be so, I should like the Minister to inform the House where Panama hatsmay be purchased wholesale at the latter rate?
– It is true that these hats have been withdrawn from sale, but I am not prepared, at present, to state exactly what has taken place, or is likely to take place, in connexion with the dispute. The matter has not been finally dealt with. As to the question put by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I have only to say that, so far as I can gather, the consignment of hats in question was valued at £60, or about1s. 4d. each. There is a dispute at the present moment as to whether they are true
Panama hats. If they are, I think they will be valued by the Department for Customs purposes at more than 4s. each. I am sure that honorable members will not ask me to make any further reference to the question at the present time. The papers were before me to-day, and I thought it wise, in the interest of the Department, to take a certain course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051012_reps_2_27/>.