2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. McWILLIAMS presented a petition from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Tasmania, praying for the enactment of legislation to prohibit the sale and consumption of alcoholic liquors in the military camps, canteens, and army transports of the Commonwealth.
Mr. DEAKIN presented a petition from certain residents of the Territory of Papua - adults of European descent and potential electors - praying that in the Papua Constitution Bill there be embodied provision for the exercise by the people, without class or divisional embargo, of the principles and privileges of elective representation on the Papuan Council and Trial by Jury.
Mr. GLYNN presented a petition from the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures, . praying the House not to pass Part VII. of the Trade Marks Bill.
Petition received and read.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council is reported to have said, when speaking in the Sydney
Town Hall last night on the question of defence -
The Deakin Government had not been long in office, but he hoped that in the near future a scheme would be placed before thepeople which would meet with their approval.
Have the Government in contemplation the inauguration of yet another scheme of defence for the Commonwealth?
– My honorable colleague will be here to-morrow, and can then make clear anything that may be dubious in that statement. To me it seems very simple. It is known that our whole system of defence is being given very careful consideration.
– This task is most necessary at the present time, and the Government announced, on accepting office, that they proposed to undertake it.
– I thought that what was contemplated was a mere elaboration of the scheme already adopted.
– The honorable member may call it what he pleases, but the system requires remodelling, to make it more effective than it is at present.
– I should like to ask the Attorney-General a question without notice ; but, seeing that he is absent, as usual, I will address it to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the delay which has occurred in connexion with the Trade Marks Bill has been occasioned by the anxious waiting of the Government for the results of the Western Australian elections? If not, will the Prime Minister, inform the House when it is intended to proceed with this important measure ?
– The Bill will be proceeded with very shortly.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Copy of draft agreement between the PostmasterGeneral of the Commonwealth and the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand Limited, relating to the Canadian-Australian mail contract.
Papers relating to preferential trade with South Africa and with Canada.
Ordered to be printed.
– Is the Prime Min ister in a position to inform the House whether, as the result of the conference between the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General of. New South Wales, xi question relating to the Federal Capital Site will be submitted to the High Court ?
– Not until the matter has been considered by the Cabinet.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if the hats seized by the Customs were invoiced as Panama hats, also if they were Panama hats ? Was the seizure made by the authority of the Minister, or did the officials of the Department act on their own responsibility? Is it true, as alleged in the press, that a.’ serious blunder has been made in this matter, and that a similar consignment of hats has been disposed of at the retail price of 3s. 6d. each?
– No serious blunder has been committed. I ask the honorable member to give notice of his other questions.
– Is the statement which appears in to-day’s newspapers true, that the Crown Law authorities have not advised the prosecution of Messrs. Henty and Co. for fraud in connexion with the importation of 1,000 Panama hats, on the ground that, as an indenting company, they were only technically in the wrong? If the statement is true, does it mean that merchants who indent goods may contravene the Customs law without rendering themselves liable to any further penalty than the risk of the seizure of- their goods by the Customs?
– I should like the papers in the case to speak for themselves.
– Can the Prime Minister tell the House how soon the Sugar Bounty Bill will be introduced? The delay which has occurred is causing much anxiety amongst’ the growers, and, if the matter is not dealt with soon, will seriously affect the crop of 1907, as men will not plant new ground until they are assured of the continuation of the bounty.
– I stated some weeks ago that I hoped that the Bill would be submitted before the end of this month, and have every reason lo suppose that the hope will be realised.
– Does the Prime Minister consider that our own Australian unemployed and settlers’ sons and daughters should be provided for before any large number of even desirable immigrants are welcomed here?
– I arn in favour of absolute equality pf treatment. Necessarily, those who are in Australia will have the first opportunity, as they have the first right, to take advantage of any conditions that may be offered. ‘
– I should like to know whether the PostmasterGeneral has arrived at any decision with regard to the representations made by the South Australian Government on the subject of having the telephone and telegraph wires, in the city of Adelaide placed underground ?
– Representations have been made, and considera-tion is being given to the matter. I hope to be able to give the honorable member information on the subject very shortly - perhaps to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether1 he has had brought under his notice a statement made at a conference of letter-carriers, recently held in Adelaide, that temporary hands were employed in the Postal Department at 3s. 6d. per day?
– I noticed, the statement referred to in this morning’s, newspapers. It is on all-fours” with the. allegations made with reference to the emloyés in contract and non-official postoffices in Victoria. I am having full inquiries made. I have already ascertained that some sweating has been going, on, and I want to find out who is responsible for it. There is no desire; on the part of the Government, to continue that kind of thing, and when the inquiry is completed, I shall endeavour to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member - 1.£21510s.9d. was received for the year ended 30th June, 1905.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Governments as to the present illegality of the State Acts which prohibit the passage of Commonwealth blind citizens from one State to the other?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. Representations as to the inconvenience to which blind people are subjected in travelling from State to State have been made to the Government. The question whether the State laws purporting to restrict such travelling are contrary to the Constitution is now being dealt with by the Attorney-General. On receipt of his opinion the Government will consider what action is necessary.
Debate resumed from 10th October (vide page 3309), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That, in the opinion of this House, the Commonwealth of Australia should join with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, the Cape Colony, Natal, Newfoundland, and other parts of the Empire, in the erection of a memorial in honour of the personal worth and beneficent reign of the late Queen Victoria.
That this House is prepared to approve of a grant of , £25,000 for that purpose.
That the foregoing resolutions be transmitted by Address to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
– I intend to move an amendment, but before doing so I desire to say that I consider that the present is an inopportune time for the Government to ask the House to vote £25,000 for the erection of a memorial to Her late Majesty Queen Victoria. When honorable members ask that facilities shall be provided to meet the urgent requirements of the public they are told that no money is available. One Minister stated only last evening that a new and elaborate scheme of defence was under consideration, and yet when honorable members ask for a few paltry pounds in aid of rifle clubs in outlying places, which will probably be the. first to require defence in the event of an attack being madeupon us, they are met with the reply that no money can be spared.
– We are endeavouring to make more money available for that very purpose.
– And yet it is proposed to waste £25,000 in erecting an effigy.
– An effigy?
– Yes, that is practically what is intended. The memorial to which we are asked to contribute is already in course of erection.
– Not that part with which we are concerned.
– If the portion of the memorial in which we are interested is to be no better than those of which I have seen illustrations, the £25,000 proposed tobe appropriated will be wasted. The utmost difficulty is experienced in obtaining money for the purpose of extending post and telegraph facilities, and in otherwise providing for the convenience of settlers, and thereby promoting the development of the country, and yet the Government are prepared to waste £25,000 upon a useless structure. If the Prime Minister were sincere in his desire that this money should be voted, I could readily understand his submitting the motion. We know, however, that he was a member of the Barton Government, which was afraid to bring this question before the House. A motion was placed on the business-paper, but the Government were not prepared to submit it to a vote. Sir Edmund Barton, when he attended the Imperial Conference held at the time of the coronation ceremony, promised to submit a motion on the subject, and yet, although he occupied office for some considerable time afterwards, honorable members had no opportunity presented to them to consider and dispose of the matter. The present Prime Minister afterwards occupied the position of head of the Government, and failed to even place a motion on the business-paper. The Watson Government, who carefully avoided all mention of the subject, were apparently of opinion that the ^25,000 proposed to be devoted to the erection of the memorial could be applied to much better purposes.
– Probably they feared the opposition of the honorable member.
– Probably my opposition, then, would not have been of any more avail than at present, but I should certainly have entered my protest against any such extravagance on the part of the Government. The Reid Government placed! a motion on the business-paper, but they were cunning enough not to proceed with it.
– Will the honorable member say why the Watson Government did not submit the motion?
– Probably because’ they considered that the money could be more usefully spent. 1
– Was that the reason?
– I was not in a position to know what reason influenced the minds of the Government, but that is my opinion. I do not blame the Reid Government for having failed to proceed with the motion. I presume that the motion will be carried, but I would remind honorable members of the complaints which are made from time to time as to the extravagance of the Federal Government, the extent to which “the States Treasuries are depleted, and’ the straits to which the States Treasurers are reduced in their efforts to make ends meet. The passing of this motion will involve Queensland in an expenditure of about £5,000, and I feel sure that if the Government of that State had an opportunity of so doing they would refuse to contribute that amount. Indeed, I have been assured upon very good authority that they are entirely opposed to- the proposed expenditure. Under the circumstances, I contend that it is not wise for us to sanction it. Why are we asked to incur it? Is it because sufficient voluntary subscriptions were not forthcoming? We know that in Victoria, where an attempt was made to raise a memorial fund, it was practically a failure. Similar efforts have resulted in failure in every other State, and it is wellknown to the Imperial authorities that if they had not secured the promise of the Commonwealth Government to contribute this amount it could not have been obtained by voluntary subscription.
– What argument does the honorable member base upon that fact?
– I say that the Imperial Government can use the Ministers of the different States where they cannot use the people. As a matter of fact, this motion is only brought forward because of the pressure which is being applied by Downingstreet.
– Nothing of the sort.
– We know that pressure has been brought to bear upon the Government upon many occasions, notably, in connexion with the exclusion of coloured aliens from Australia. After much discussion, the information was at length dragged out of the Barton Government that the reason they so strongly opposed the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Bland in favour of the direct exclusion of coloured aliens was that Mr. Chamberlain had used his influence with them to secure .the adoption of the educational test. We all recollect how the leader of the Opposition upon that occasion! twitted the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, with having replied to Mr. Chamberlain’s overtures, “ Yes. Mr. Chamberlain.” Now we find that it is not Sir Edmund Barton, but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who is saying, “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.” In this matter the Government are quite prepared to do the bidding of the Imperial authorities. It is a noteworthy fact that whenever any f similar question has been mooted, Ministers representing the various States who have lacked the courage to refuse the request of the Imperial authorities have always been able to squeeze money from the people. I very much regret that the Government ha.ve adopted the attitude that they have upon this subject. It was very pleasant to listen to the Prime Minister declaring the other evening in eloquent phrases that the erection of this monument would impart a stimulus to patriotic sentiment. But his assertions in that respect were so much bunkum. If the honorable and learned gentleman wishes to arouse a healthy feeling of patriotism let him fill the stomachs of the poor. We have no hope of seeing this monument - even after it has been erected. The great majority of the people of England will not see it, and even those who do will take very little notice of it after the lapse of a few years.
– I am afraid that the honorable member’s remark is not applicable to the Albert -Memorial in London.
– It is applicable to nearly all the memorials which have been erected ‘there. As a matter of fact, beyond an occasional reference to it in history, we find that very little notice is taken of the Albert Memorial.
– The honorable member ought to be in Trafalgar Square next Saturday.
– I can quite understand that any memorial will attract considerable attention upon some special occasion. I recollect that, some years ago, a few of us laid a number of wreaths upon the graves of those who fell in the Eureka Stockade at Ballarat, and, as a result of our action, some 2,000 or 3,000 persons visited the spot upon the following Sunday. But it is only when somebody arouses a special interest in any memorial that public attention is focussed upon it. I believe that Her late Majesty would condemn the proposed memorial as vehemently as any one. She would have preferred that a building should be erected which would confer a lasting benefit upon the present and future generations. Under the circumstances, I move -
That the words “ in the erection of a memorial in honour,” line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ in testifying their sense “ ; and that the words “ that purpose,” in paragraph 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the erection of an hospital as a suitable though inadequate memorial” of her beneficent reign.”
I feel that the Imperial authorities arrived at a special understanding with Sir Edmund Barton upon this matter during has visit to England. Thus, we have been placed in a very awkward position. We are practically committed to this expenditure, and we cannot very well repudiate it. In view of that fact, I desire that our contribution should be devoted to the erection of an hospital. Failing that, I intend to vote against the motion in its entirety. In dealing with proposals of this character in the House instead of in Committee, we occupy a very embarrassing position, in that we have always to adopt a sort of backward course. When we. are called upon to deal with u motion in Committee those who are opposed to it can vote against it in its entirety with the knowledge that should the vote go against them they will have an opportunity to submit a further proposal. In the House, however,’ the position is different, and lest we should be defeated on the main question, we have at the outset to endeavour to so amend a motion as to make, it conform as nearly as possible to our views. It is because of this that I have been compelled to submit the amendment. Should it be defeated I shall then have an opportunity to vote against the main question. Personally, I am opposed to the whole proposal, but the amendment will, so to speak, make a retreat possible. A similar state of affairs arose a few days ago, when the motion, for the ratification of the oversea mail contract was submitted to the House. I, in common with several other honorable members, was opposed to the whole proposition, and we had to propose amendments to secure the best terms possible. We affirm the general principle of a Bill on -the motion for the second reading, and have an opportunity in Committee to deal with it in detail ; but when a motion is submitted to the House no such opportunity is afforded us. I trust, therefore, that the Government will in future endeavour as far as possible to submit all motions of this nature in Committee. I do not wish to labour the question. I am opposed to the motion, and regret that the Ministry should have brought it forward.
– The honorable member for Kennedy has made no secret of the fact that he is absolutely opposed to Australia contributing to the cost of the erection of a memorial of any kind, and yet he has insulted the House by suggesting that, since so few honorable members share ‘that view, he may be able, by means of an ingenious amendment, to capture a few votes for a proposal that Australia shall dictate the form that the memorial shall take. The honorable member is so ardent a radical that he objects to the erection of a memorial of any kind, and yet he wishes to shelter himself behind an insulting, although ingenious, amendment. The history of “the whole movement, so far as
Australia is concerned, is a most unfortunate one. Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, visited England in connexion with the coronation celebrations, and then promised to submit to the Parliament of the day a proposition that Australia should take part in the erection of a memorial to the late Queen Victoria. He neglected to carry out that promise, and so failed to discharge his duty to the House.
– The Barton Government brought the matter forward.
– The motion was placed on the business paper, but was never submitted to the House. Surely the question is one that should have been promptly dealt with. If he had so keen an admiration for the progress made by the British people during the reign of her late Majesty, Sir Edmund Barton might well have brought forward his proposal at the first opportunity. The honorable member for Kennedyasserts that the late Government displayed ‘ their cunning by giving notice of the motion, and afterwards neglecting to submit it to the House. If that be so, the Watson Government were cunning to a superlative degree, because they did not even give notice of their intention to submit such a proposition to Parliament. It does not redound to the credit of the several Governments that have been in office, that this question should have been placed before us so late in the day.
– Parliament had prorogued when Sir Edmund Barton returned from England.
– We now find that all the other colonies have contributed to the memorial fund, and that Australia is the last to be asked to do so. The memorial will involve an outlay of£1,000,000, and notwithstanding that it is proposed that we shall contribute only one-fortieth of that sum, the honorable member for Kennedy makes the impudent suggestion that we should dictate to the mother country and all the contributing colonies the form which it shall take. The proposition is an absurd one, and, if carried,would be cited as another instance of the precocity of Australians. I could understand the honorable member voting against the motion, because of his belief that the money might well be expended in a more useful direction, but he tells us, in effect, that he is opposed to it for the reason, among others, that he objects to allegorical memorials.
I myself am not struck very much with allegorical statuary. It may be that I am wanting in aesthetic taste ; but let me remind the honorable member that adjacent to this building there is a monument to the Eight Hours Movement. I should like the close attention of the honorable member, as a prominent member of the Labour Party. It may be that it is owing to my lack of taste; but I take the liberty of saying that the Eight Hours Monument alongside this building, whilst it is symbolical’ of a great event, is not an elegant piece of statuary. Still, it was erected by the direction of the Trades Hall party of Victoria. Surely, according to the honorable member for Kennedy, the Trades Hall party in any State cannot act wrongly. His brothers in work and politics have erected near this building a monument which, to them, is a matter of great concern. Again, in New South Wales, the Trades Hall party did a most diabolical act when they erected a tablet to the memory of the Hon. Henry Copeland, who was not a member of that party, but who - he was a personal friend of mine - did excellent work in the public affairs of that State.
– Who paid for its erection?
– The Trades Hall party?
– Then let those who believe in the erection of a Queen Victoria memorial subscribe the money for the purpose. They would not have Buckley’s show of raising the amount.
Mr.WILKS.- I shall tell the honorable member who paid for the Eight Hours Monument in Melbourne. The contributions did not all come from the members of the Trades Hall party. They solicited subscriptions from every one far and near, and they were not above accepting them.
– The honorable member will have a contribution from me if he takes up a subscription for the proposed memorial.
– The honorable member who is so busily interjecting, took us a trip through London the other day. He described various monuments in that city. He referred to a monument raised to the memory of the man who slaughtered more persons than anybody else, and I immediately interjected “ Nelson.” I have never had the good fortune to visit London, but, by drawing my bow at a venture, I hit upon the monument he was referring to. He then took us into the field of heathen mythology, and said there was a statue of Ajax defying the lightning.
– No; that statue was to the memory of Wellington.
– I understood the honorable member to say it was a statue of Ajax defying the lightning.
– That is the study.
– I would suggest to the honorable member that possibly the time may come when we could well erect a statue of Australia defying her creditors. It would be a specimen of modern allegory, but still I do not see why there should not, under certain circumstances, be a statue of that character. I believe it would be just as happy a conception as the statue of Ajax defying the lightning. To my mind this idea of dictating the character of the Queen Victoria memorial is all moonshine. I can understand the honorable member being against the proposal, but I cannot understand him saying that Australia, practically the smallest contributor, should dictate to the largest contributor the character of the memorial. I am in favour of Australia making a contribution to this fund, and I regret that this Parliament has been disgraced so much by the delay in submitting this proposal for its consideration. I trust that the Prime Minister will persist with his effort until a vote is taken. I find that Cape Colony has contributed £20,000, that Canada has contributed £30,000, and that New Zealand has contributerd £15,000. Our. great radical friend, Mr. Seddon, in appreciation of his own race and of racial sentiment, has induced the Parliament of New Zealand to subscribe £15,000. I am not much concerned in the mere placing upon record of a recognition of the peaceful reign of the late Queen Victoria, but I consider that the proposed memorial is simply a nation’s tribute to its great advancement and prosperity during that period. It is proposed from a feeling of pride of race to erect in the hub of the universe - the great market of the world - a memorial at a cost of £1,000,000, and apparently at the last stage Australia is called upon to perform her duty in this connexion. I ask the direct question whether Australia will perform her duty by standing out of the movement, or whether she is to play her part, in this expression of the pride of our race, by contributing £25,000 to this fund?
The only way I have of measuring public opinion is by drawing upon my inner consciousness as to what the sons of Britishers would like to be done. I, asa citizen, do not intend to attempt to dictate the character of the proposed memorial, but am willing to leave it to the good sense of those who are leading the movement to put our contribution to the best possible use. I am with the honorable member for Kennedy, however, in regard to the monument being of a utilitarian character. I believe that a hospital would be more appropriate than a statue; but, nevertheless, I am quite content to leave the expenditure of the money to the discretion of those who are chiefly concerned. I believe that the bulk of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth - those of British descent and inclinations - will be well satisfied if we vote £25,000 for this purpose. We, like other nations, do not allow our desires or inclinations to be governed ‘ entirely by pecuniary considerations; on the contrary, we are prone to indulge our racial sentiment irrespective of expenditure. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has performed his duty to the Commonwealth by submitting this proposal, and I intend to emulate his example in that regard. Never before have I given a vote more readily than the one I propose to give on this occasion. At the same time, I deeply regret that the proposal was not dealt with in 1902, when it was first mooted. It is not to the credit of Australia that a period of three years should have been allowed to elapse before a definite proposal was submitted to its Parliament.
– I had not the opportunity of hearing the eloquent address with which the Prime Minister submitted this proposal, and, therefore, I suppose I am placed at a disadvantage in that respect. But if the speech of the honorable member for Dalley was delivered in support of that eloquent utterance, then I think it will be becoming to the majority of the House to decline to pass the motion. It is a cheap thing to parade our loyalty in such a fashion as we have just witnessed,but this seems to me the least appropriate way of showing appreciation of a dead person.
– Will the honorable member oppose the motion?
– Certainly. It is always easy, in a matter of this kind, where sentiment can be lightly introduced, and we are dealing not with our own money, but with the money of the taxpayers, for us to say that we are desirous of showing exceptional loyalty, but the exhibition is at the expense of our neighbours. I oppose the motion for the reason, amongst others, that this is the first opportunity the Federal Legislature has had to deal with a matter of this kind. I exceedingly regret that leading statesmen should have agreed to support the movement, which does not in any way add to the record which stands in memory of Her late Majesty. I believe, with the honorable member for Kennedy, that neither Her late Majesty, if her feelings could be consulted, nor her near surviving relatives, would desire a memorial provided in the manner proposed. There are always people who, from a mistaken notion of service to a country, are ready to expend public funds in this way. Does any honorable member really believe that a monument of the kind, voted by the representative Parliaments under the Crown, would be equal in value to a monument provided by voluntary contributions, even to the smallest amount? A monument erected with voluntary contributions by people who have pecuniary troubles and trials enough, would be a monument indeed ; but a monument subscribed to by the representative Parliaments because it is the fashion- -
Mr.J oseph Cook. - Who says that? I have not heard that argument used during the debate.
– This proposal was brought forward . at a conference of representative men from the Colonies.
– W - When they were full of champagne.
– I ask honorable members to say whether any conference of the kind ever “ separated without some proposal to bind the Empire together, with the aid of the people’s money ? As a Commonwealth, we have a common act and part with the British Empire; we must share in its prosperity, and in its adversity, more or less. That responsibility, however, in no way binds us tocontribute to a memorial such as that proposed - a memorial initiated by people who, however honorable may be their intentions, are always desirous to earn some kudos, or take some action which will have the effect of bringing them nearer to the Throne at the heart of the Empire. I have on all occasions opposed these centralization schemes - this erection of monuments in London. Holding that view, I regard the idea of the honorable member for Barrier as an excellent one, namely, that a proposal of this kind should be so worded as to enable the people of the Commonwealth themselves to contribute. I cannot move an amendment, because there is already an amendment before the Chair.
-Give notice of an amendment.
– The honorable member for Robertson seems somewhat excited over the matter.
– I think the honorable member for Wide Bay is making a speech which is unworthyof him.
– I expected to hear something like that. We have now an exhibition of what is called loyalty - an exemplification of the “ Crown, Beer, and the Bible “ idea. If I were to lose my seat in this Parliament to-morrow, I should not sink my own ideas in a matter of this kind in order to obtain a single vote. I may be right, or I may be wrong, in the attitude I take; but a contribution of the kind is, in my opinion, unworthy of the Parliament, if the people themselves would not contribute.
– The people would contribute a great deal more than the sum proposed.
– That suits my position admirably. I trust that when the honorable member for Barrier moves his amendment to submit this question to the people, asking them with the force of the Federal Parliament behind the suggestion, to erect a’ monument in commemoration of the greatest and longest reign in the British Empire, honorable members will give him their support. I should certainly heartily support such an amendment, because then the contribution would be truly from the people of Australia, instead of being, as proposed by the motion, a contribution by this Parliament.
– Does the honorable member not think that we represent the people of Australia?
– I do not deny that we do represent the people of Australia, but I am speaking comparatively, as the honorable member ought to know.
– Why not refer every question to a referendum?
– At present we are not discussing a referendum. What I say is that a voluntary contribution would provide that which would be a monument indeed; whereas a contribution by such a body as this Parliament is of no value as a memorial to anybody. As I have said, this is the first contribution of the kind proposed in the Commonwealth Parliament, and, in my opinion, it draws an invidious distinction. Is every reigning head of the British Empire to have a monument, the cost of which is to be contributed to by the Commonwealth?
– Will the honorable member for Parramatta say that all the reigning heads of Great Britain and Irelad have been persons to whom we would willingly raise monuments?
– What does the honorable member think about the matter?
-I think they have not been such persons, and I have no Hesitation in answering the question. There have been many exceptions to the good rulers.
– This memorial is proposed for Queen Victoria alone.
– As I have said, the Commonwealth is requested to make its first contribution of the kind; and I ask whether the Minister of Trade and Customs would make an invidious distinction in the case of the present King? Could there be a more absurd and wrong position than that contributions of the kind are to be confined to perpetrating the memory of one particular monarch? That would be not merely invidious, but almost detestable. The greatness of monarchs is the greatness that arises largely from the exalted position they occupy - they necessarily appear to be greater than they really are as men and women. However, that is an argument I do not wish to labour. The speech of the honorable member for Dalley was extraordinary. He spoke of the speech of the honorable member for Kennedy as impertinent, and used language of the most extreme kind, because that honorable member takes up a certain attitude.
– The language of the honorable member for Dalley was mild compared with the language of the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– That may be so in the opinion of the honorable member, but I think that no exception can be taken to the language I have used in fearlessly expressing my ideas. Honorable members will agree that I and others who think with me are not trying to gain political kudos.
– Does the honorable member say that other honorable members are doing so?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has already said so two or three times.
– I have not alleged anything of the kind.
– The honorable member has. done so.
– The honorable member has singled himself out as not seeking to gain political kudos.
– I have not alleged anything of the kind, nor do I think it necessary to do so. All these movements are popular, because the ordinary taxpayer does not regard a proposal of the kind as of much moment to himself. But we are making a precedent.
– I know a woman so poor that she cannot bury her child.
– I do not, for one moment, contend that the existence of dire poverty would, in itself, be a sufficient reason for not contributing to a memorial of the kind. I take the higher ground, that it is unnecessary, and that if any contribution ismade it should be voluntary. It was said by the honorable member for Dalley that there are already memorials to great movements during the reign of the late Queen. I am proud to acknowledge them. He referred to the Eight Hours’ monument. But did any Government subscribe to that? I have no objection to monuments being erected voluntarily by the public. My position is that neither Governments nor Parliaments should have anything to do with them.
– The honorable member is not opposed to statuary, then?
– Such an interjection is too absurd to be replied to. Monuments, the movements for erecting which were initiated by the people, and which were intended to commemorate great events or movements, are of far greater value than any monuments toparticular persons can be. That, I think, is a truism. The cases which have been cited are all those of movements which the people themselves have initiated, and their voluntary contributions have paid for the memorials. Such a monument is a memorial indeed. But to appeal to Parliaments, as Parliaments have been and are being appealed to now for a contribution of this kind, is the least satisfactory method of all ; and I shall have the greatest possible pleasure in voting against the motion.
– I had not intended to speak on this motion, contenting myself to be represented by the speech made from the Opposition side of the House, in my absence, by the honorable member for North Sydney, and by that of the Prime Minister, in whose speech on the whole I very heartily concur. But I am bound to say that I heard the address of the honorable member who has just sat down with very great regret. I think that when he comes to see his remarks in cold print he will be heartily ashamed of them. He certainly takes up an attitude with reference to this subject that I should not have expected from him. I am bound to say that his speech has been a revelation to me. I gave him credit for saner sentiments on the great, supreme question ‘that
Ave are considering.
– Supreme question?
– Yes, I say that it is a supreme question. We are asked by the motion to affirm our appreciation of the life of a great and good queen - a queen who, for sixty years, stood to this Empire as the sign and seal and embodiment of its aspirations and of its progress. The honorable member cannot point to any isolated event relating to any movement, which has a tithe of the importance and of the far-reaching influence that the life and influence of the late Queen had upon our Empire. That is my deliberate judgment. Hence I take exception to the tone of the honorable member. What was the language in which his objections were couched ? He accused us who support the motion of indulging in “ cheap sentiment ‘ ‘ at the expense of somebody, else. If that is not an impertinent thing to say I should like to know what is. I hope we are entitled to the same belief in our conscientiousness of motive as the honorable member would exact in his.
– If we ask his permission we are.
– But it seems that we are not. All who are in favour of this proposal, or all who are in favour of anything connected with loyalty, are to be accused of indulging in “ cheap sentiment “ at some one else’s expense. I utterly repudiate that accusation. The honorable member also said that this motion had been brought forward simply in order that we might be “ in the fashion.” That is another unworthy statement. Because certain gentlemen met at the seat of the Empire and agreed to support the erection of this memorial, it is a “fashionable” thing to do. Another honorable member of the same party caps the statement by saying that the proposal was brought forward when those who attended the Conference were full of champagne.
– Champagne and turkey.
– In my opinion, those are disgraceful statements to make.
– D - Does the honorable member say that they did not have any champagne?
– I was not there, and I do not know ; nor am I concerned to inquire. I would rather inquire into a matter of this kind on quite other grounds.
– Do Do not tax me for such a purpose.
– When we are discussing a question of this nature, I regret that such an observation should be made.
– I - It is all very well to tax other people for a matter of this sort, but I object.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– This is a movement for the erection of a monument in which the whole Empire is concerned. 1 agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the matter ought to havebeen brought forward years ago. We are taking very tardy steps indeed in relation to it.
– I - It should be paid for by private subscriptions. I would give ten guineas towards it if honorable members opposite would do the same.
– Although I have repeatedly cautioned the honorable member for Darwin, he will not discontinue his interjections. Other honorable members also carry on conversations across the Chamber, which make it almost impossible for the honorable member for Parramatta to be heard, and for the officers of the House to take a reliable note of the speech which he is making.
– We ought to have taken steps in this matter long ago, in common with the rest of the Empire. The erection of the monument should have been well on the way to completion. It has been said by the honorable member for Kennedy that the motion is inopportune. He tells us, for instance, that we ought not to subscribe to the memorial when our defences lire in need of additional expenditure. The leader of the honorable member’s party said on the last occasion, when this subject was under discussion, that any memorial which might find expression in brick andstone would be a sinful and wilful waste of money, I take a quite contrary view. I say that there could be no more fitting form for the proposed monument than one which finds expression in the highest art of the Empire. I do not agree with those who say that a monument to commemorate the life of’ Queen Victoria should take the form of sympathy with the poor and suffering. The poor we have always with us, and I apprehend that the poor will not get a crust the less by reason of the making of this contribution. I do not believe that they will. What is more, I believe that if those very poor could, in any fashion, be consulted, they themselves would be. as heartily in favour of this contribution as are we who are more comfortably circumstanced.
– I think that we should be able to give them an opportunity to express their view.
– I am satisfied that if this matter were put directly to the people of this country they would subscribe a great deal more than £25,000, and the very poorest of them all would subscribe in the most handsome way in proportion to their means.
– They would give more than three halfpence apiece.
– I am reminded of criticism similar to this two thousand years ago, when it was urged that a certain 3box of ointment might have been sold for 300 pence, and given to the poor. Here we have precisely the same argument in connexion with an object that is both lofty and rare. .We are asked, “ Why is not the memorial fund devoted to the alleviation of the lot of the suffering and poor?”
– Would not a large proportion of the £1, 000,000 be spent in wages?
– -I presume a very great deal of it. My idea is that the monument should be the embodiment of the “highest and best art of which the Empire is capable. It should be typical of the leading events and movements of the reign of the Queen whom we honour. It should be a fitting expression of our loyalty and appreciation of her glorious reign. We already have hospitals dedicated to her. There is a Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne. I believe that there is a Queen’s Hospital in London. There are Queen’s hospitals dotted all over the Empire, so that there would be no characteristic distinction about a hospital as a memorial. The proposed memorial, however, should, in my judgment, be as distinctive as it will be possible to make it, and, therefore, I do not approve of the idea that the money proposed to be devoted to this purpose should be used to endow a hospital. In agreeing to the motion we need not set up a precedent. Although we contribute to this memorial, it does not follow that the Commonwealth must contribute to memorials to all the succeeding Kings or Queens who may reign over it, although, as things are going, the present King will prove himself quite worthy of a tribute of this kind. We should consider the proposal on its merits as a unique occurrence. Only one Queen has reigned for so long a period as sixty years, and when we think of her reign we remember perforce the mighty movements which have made the Empire the great monument of Christian civilization which we know it to be. To my mind, the Empire stands Aor more than mere sentiment. It is unique among the. kingdoms and in the history of the world. Every other empire known to history has been built up on the basis of tribute from its component and conquered parts. Now, however, for the. first time, we have an Empire founded upon the spontaneous loyalty of the people of every portion of it. These distinct features ought to find the most fitting embodiment which can be given to them’ by the artistic skill of our people, and it is in that spirit that I subscribe to this proposal. Seeing that our contribution, having regard to the total sum which the memorial is to cost, is miserably small, we should ask no questions as to the disposal of the money, ‘ believing that those at the heart of the Empire will find the most fitting expression of the object which we have in view. One has only to think for a moment of the leading characteristics of Queen Victoria’s reign to make him willing to support almost any, proposal for keeping green the memory of the gracious lady who presided over the Empire for so long. To me the prominent feature of that reign was its sympathy with every form of progress, and particularly with those forms which had to do with the placing of moral ideas above basely material ones. I need not discuss this matter, because honorable members will recall for themselves the altruistic movements which characterized the late Queen’s reign.For instance, those which brought about, among other things, the abolition of slavery, the amelioration of child labour, and the improvement of the conditions of the workers generally. The honorable member for Melbourne referred to the monuments which have been erected as tributes to the warriors of the Empire; but surely he has not forgotten that we should have known very much more of war but for the late Queen’s attitude towards it. For that reason alone we owe her a tribute which will last for all time. We are led to believe that on many an occasion she prevented the Empire from being plunged into fratricidal struggles, and from being engaged in actions such as have brought shame on other nations. I hope that honorable members in discussing the motion will leave the realm of motive alone. The speech of the honorable member for Wide Bay did him no credit, in that he questioned the motives of honorable members who are supporting the motion, although Ibelieve them to be as pure and as sincere as his own. It is no question of motive, but of honest belief, as to what is appropriate and best to be done. I shall subscribe entirely to the proposal of the Government, and shall support it against any other proposal that I have yet heard.
– I am opposed to the motion, and shall also vote against the amendment. The honorable member for Kennedy said that we are pledged to this expenditure, because of the action of Sir Edmund Barton and the right honorable member for Swan.
– W - What has the right honorable member for Swan had to do with it?
– I am very glad to be associated with it.
– He was in England at the time the memorial was proposed, and perhaps without him it would not have been agreed to. If I considered that the Commonwealth was pledged to this expenditure, I would as soon vote for the pro posed memorial as for the endowment of a hospital ; but I am altogether opposed to the voting of this £25,000. I do not think that we are here to discuss whether the reign of Queen Victoria was a good or bad one. If money has to be sent out of the Commonwealth, I would rather see £25,000 voted to free Dr. Barnardo’s homes from debt than expended on a memorial such as that proposed of any King or Queen.
– We could do that, too.
– No doubt the memory of the reign of Queen Victoria could be perpetuated by spending money in Australia; but if we must send £25,000 to England I think that it would be better used in the. way I suggest than by being devoted to the proposed memorial. Therefore, when the amendment has been negatived or withdrawn, I intend to move another amendment, which will make the second paragraph of the motion read as follows: -
That the funds for thepurpose be raised by private subscription.
If the, motion were carried in the form I suggest, the people of Australia would have an opportunity to show their appreciation of the virtues of the late Queen. The subscriptions should not be limited, but the pennies of the poor should be accepted as readily as the ten guineas which I believe the honorable member for Darwin has promised to subscribe.
– I - I will subscribe that amount if every member of the Opposition will contribute a like sum,
– I will join the honorable member.
– If £25,000 were raised by private subscription, it would constitute a far higher tribute to the memory of Her late Majesty than the appropriation of such a sum by this Parliament. It is very easy for us to vote £25,000 for this purpose. It would not interfere with the finances of the Commonwealth, but would be deducted from the surplus available for return to the States Governments, which would have to go short. It would therefore be cheap and easy for us as a Parliament to show our admiration for the late Queen in the manner proposed. I think the course I propose is the best to adopt.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
– Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the amendment be withdrawn ?
– I object.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (RobertsonsHonorable members of the Labour Party appear to be opposing the motion on principle. They desire that the people of the Commonwealth shall have an opportunity to voluntarily contribute the money required. The funds at our disposal are raised through Customs duties, to which the whole of the consumers of the Commonwealth have to contribute, and therefore the easiest way in which the public could subscribe to the proposed memorial would be bv our devoting to that purpose £25.000 of that revenue. Therefore, the purpose of the honorable member for Barrier would be served by adopting the motion in its present form. The honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Wide Bay objected to the public money being, contributed in the manner proposed by the Government, but I take it that as we represent the people, and the honorable members of the Labour Party believe that the people would voluntarily contribute funds-
– I did not say that the public would contribute ; I very much doubt it.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay expressed the opinion that the public would contribute freely.
– No. I said it would indeed be a monument to the memory of Her late Majesty if the people voluntarily contributed the £25,000 required.
– The working classes of the Empire have never been slow to show their admiration of Her late Majesty. In many parts of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and also in Canada and Australia, one can see monuments to her, many of which have been erected by means of voluntary subscriptions, and I have no doubt the people of Australia would again rise to the occasion if they were required to do so. Their sound common sense would, however, impel them to say that it would be most convenient for the Government to pay the £25,000 out of the coffers of the Commonwealth, to which every citizen is required to contribute. I have some doubt as to the wisdom of allowing ourselves to be carried away on every wave of sentiment, and I think that if this proposal were made for the first time I should not feel justified in supporting it. I yield to no one in my loyalty to the Empire, or my admiration for Her late Majesty, but those elements do not appear to me to be in question in the present discussion. In the Statute-book of her reign, Queen Victoria has a greater monument to her memory than could be furnished by any work in marble. The Commonwealth itself is a monument’ to her. Indeed, .all over the Empire monuments to her wisdom and to her beneficence are to be found. The honorable member for Parramatta referred to what had been done by Her late Majesty to prevent war and bloodshed, and her efforts in that direction will be remembered to her honour longer than any work in marble could possibly endure. Those who have seen the Albert Memorial must have admired its artistic beauty and magnificent proportions. It is, indeed, a very fine monument to the memory of the Prince Consort, and an eloquent expression of the people’s admiration for a Prince against whom they were so prejudiced in earlier years, and of their love of Queen Victoria. I shall vote for the motion, because I recognise that the Commonwealth was pledged in its infancy by the first Prime Minister to the proposed vote.
– He only pledged himself to submit a motion to Parliament.
– That was merely because no Prime Minister could pledge himself to contribute funds for such’ a purpose without the approval of Parliament. Sir Edmund Barton did not submit a motion to Parliament - he ran away without submitting it.
– He had not time to bring the matter forward. The honorable member knows that very well.
– I am very glad to learn from the Treasurer that the proposal would have been submitted if the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, had been afforded an opportunity to bring it forward. Seeing that the first Commonwealth Ministry had not an opportunity of. ascertaining the will of Parliament upon it, I take it that the same remark is applicable to succeeding Governments. I shall support the proposal, because the honour of Australia was pledged by Sir Edmund Barton.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta had been burning with earnestness and enthusiasm in his desire to’ see a monument erected to the memory of the late Queen, he would have seen that a grant of money was passed for the purpose long ago. Personally, I am opposed to any sum being voted in the direction indicated. Whilst I entertain the greatest admiration and respect for Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, I hold that it is unnecessary for us to erect any monument to her memory. We know that she earned the imperishable title of .” Victoria the Good “ - a title which will be taught in every school throughout the Empire. The great benefits associated with her reign will continue to be impressed upon our children. It is not necessary for us to do anything further. I am satisfied that the Commonwealth has already done its share in perpetuating the name of Her late Majesty. We have monuments erected to her memory in all the leading States. We have streets and squares which have been called after her. Indeed, the entire State of Victoria represents one of the finest monuments to the memory of any sovereign.
– Queensland was called after Her late Majesty.
– That is so, although the fact is not so apparent as it is in the case of Victoria.
– The honorable member does not believe in putting his monuments upon a cash basis.
– I do. At the same time, I differ from the honorable member for Dalley, who appears to think that anybody who is in antagonism to this motion is opposed to the erection of monuments of any description. As a matter of fact, there is nobody who entertains a greater desire to see the memory of our illustrious citizens perpetuated than I do. In South Australia, I have taken my share in work of that character. Nothing pained me more than to see so many years elapse after the death of John Macdougall “Stuart, the explorer, before any monument was erected to his memory, and I felt it to be my duty to endeavour to induce the Government of South Australia to grant a sum towards that work. Similarly, I wished to see a monument erected to the founder of Adelaide. Colonel Light. _ I am glad to saythat I succeeded in obtaining a Government grant for that purpose - and these grants were supplemented by voluntary and civic subscriptions. In this connexion, I pm glad to say that no difficulty was experienced in obtaining funds from the people the very moment they were appealed “to. But I am opposed to any ap peal being made to the people for funds for the proposed memorial, because I hold that there is no necessity for such an appeal. If £25,000 is to be spent in perpetuating, the memory of the late Queen Victoria, I suggest that it should be expended in acquiring land upon which people could be settled, which might be called the Queen Victoria Settlement.
– What about a Queen Victoria land tax?
– In South Australia we have erected a Queen Victoria maternity home. It is an institution which we are endeavouring ‘to extend, and which is doing good. work. Seeing that we have established a Queen Victoria Maternity home, why should we not create a Queen Victoria Settlement? . Having started that settlement with immigrants from the old country, why should we not - after they have succeeded and after they have repaid: the amount of the purchase money - continue to perpetuate the memory of the late Queen Victoria by establishing other settlements of a similar character ? I have shown that I am strongly in favour of perpetuating not only the memory of our late Sovereign, but that of all our illustrious citizens. But I am opposed to voting a sum of money for that purpose merely because the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth may have committed us to this expenditure. That gentleman had no right to commit the people of Australia to any expenditure whatever. The most that he should have undertaken was to ascertain the will of Parliament upon the matter. Personally, I am of opinion that he made a very serious mistake, and that the money which it is proposed to expend can be spent in a much more profitable direction. From the expressions of opinion which have emanated from both sides of the House, I am induced to conclude that honorable members generally are not in accord with the views of the Labour Party upon this question. I wish it to be distinctly understood that my loyalty is as great as that of any honorable member who supports this proposal, even though I deem it to be my duty to vote against it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas), proposed -
That all the words in paragraph 2, after the word “ That,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the- words ‘* a fund be raised for the purpose by private subscription.”
– I cannot be accused of shirking my responsibility in connexion with this question, inasmuch as I pressed two Governments to bring it forward. At the very outset 1 take up the position that the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth did not in any way commit this Parliament to the expenditure proposed. He simply agreed to submit the matter for our consideration. For my own part, I am quite prepared to accept full responsibility for supporting this motion. I have the honour to represent, perhaps, one of the poorest constituencies in the Commonwealth. At any rate, it is an electorate in which the poorer classes of the community are massed together more than they are in any other. I am satisfied that the vast majority of them desire to see this motion carried for the purpose of honouring the “ great, good Queen.” The proposed contribution represents about three-halfpence per head of the people of the Commonwealth. A large expenditure would necessarily be incurred in collecting voluntary subscriptions, and the method proposed - that of appropriating the amount out of the public funds - is, perhaps, the most economical that could be adopted. At the same time, if there are a number of individuals like the honorable member for Darwin, who is prepared to subscribe £10 10s. towards a fund for the purpose - and I am prepared to join with him - I should like the motion to specify that the sum of £25,000 which it is proposed to vote should be supplemented as far as possible by public subscriptions. It seems to me that £25,000 is not an adequate contribution by this rich young Commonwealth towards perpetuating the memory of such a great and good woman. I am as strong an Australian nationalist as is to be found in this House, but I believe that we cannot better express the idea underlying our nationalism than by recognising the mighty importance of this good woman’s work throughout the whole of our history. So far as I have been able to gather, the people never grudged the expenditure of many thousands of pounds of the people’s money on the celebrations in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth, nor do I think that they would begrudge this small contribution to a memorial of the late Queen. Triumphal arches were erected in many of the cities of the States in connexion with the Commonwealth celebrations, and among these were special arches to the memory of Queen Victoria, who died almost at the birth of the Commonwealth. In Collins-street - within a short distance of this House - what was known as “ The Queen’s Arch “ was erected, and it bore the noble words of Tennyson -
Her court was pure ; her life serene ;
God give her peace; her land reposed;
A thousand claims to reverence closed
In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen.
I do not think that any who passed that arch failed to indorse all that the late Poet Laureate said of the good Queen, and this House would be wanting in a recognition of its relations to that great woman and the Empire over which she presided if it neglected the present opportunity to vote with unanimity the sum proposed to be contributed to a project to perpetuate her memory. I hope that the suggestion made by the honorable member for Darwin will be adopted, and that even if the motion be not amended to that end, proceedings will be initiated outside to raise a further sum by voluntary subscription to make the memorial a still more adequate testimony to our appreciation of the late Queen. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has pointed out that we have endeavoured in many ways to perpetuate her memory - that we have given her name to one of the States of the Commonwealth, and also to various squares, parks, and public buildings. It seems to me, however, that that is the cheapest kind of sentiment in which we could indulge. It is open to any of us to build a fine mansion for our own use, and to call it “Victoria House.”
– Or to erect “ The Victoria Pie House.”
– We might even have “The Victoria bun” to perpetuate the memory of Queen Victoria. The honorable member has said that he is not opposed to all monuments - he is quite prepared to perpetuate thememory of Juggins, but perish the memory of Queen Victoria!
– If we had the money the position would be different.
– Regarding the question from the most selfish stand-point, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to testify to the unity of the Empire of which we form no inconsiderable part. I shall heartily support the motion. I am prepared to accept the full responsibility and shall tell my constituents- that I acted in their name and on their behalf, and if there be among them a number of men who think that this contribution of three halfpence per head of the population should not have been made, I shall be willing to make a refund to each of them.
– I intend to vote for the amendment, and against the motion. At a public meeting held recently in my electorate it was resolved that I should be requested, not only to vote against this proposal, but to speak in opposition to it, and the following resolution was passed: -
The Melbourne branch of the Political Labour Council of Victoria emphatically protests against the proposed grant of ^’25,000 by the Commonwealth Parliament towards the erection of a memorial to the late Queen in London, in view of the fact that the development of the potentialities of Australia is gravely hampered by the meagre revenue at the disposal of Parliament, and in the circumstances affirms that such proposed grant would be unwise and inexpedient and a serious misapplication of public money.
The honorable member for South Sydney stated, with the best of good feeling, that he was willing to join with the honorable member for Darwin in contributing to a public subscription for this purpose, and I may say that I should be willing to subscribe to such a fund the amount that I pay by way of income tax if he would do the same. I dare say that the income tax which he has to pay is much larger than that which is demanded of me.
– I have already offered to join with the honorable member for Darwin, and shall be glad to receive the further assistance of the honorable member for Melbourne.
– Very well. What arguments have been advanced in support of the motion ? ‘ You must know, Mr. Speaker, that to vote against a motion of this kind is to take the unpopular side; but surely those who are opposed’ to it have a right to openly express their objections, without being subjected to the slurs that have been heaped upon them.” I was astounded at the speech made by the honorable member for Parramatta. The first speech that I ever made in New South’ Wales was at a meeting called to devise means ot assisting the unemployed, over which the honorable member presided. He was thoroughly in sympathy with every word that I then uttered, and the motion which I moved gained, not only his vote, but the unanimous support of the ‘ meeting.
We have been told by the honorable member for Parramatta that the poor will not l>e deprived of one crust bv the passing of this motion. There is only one way in which such a challenge may be taken up. I should like to be able to test the accuracy of the honorable member’s assertion, by placing £25,000 in his hands, for I ami sure that he would see that for a time, at all events, there was not one hungry human being in Australia. Only this day I wasapproached by a mother, who informed me of the death of a child to which she had given birth ten days ago, and asked me to assist in providing for its interment. And yet we have been told that this contribution represents only three halfpence per head of the population, and that, therefore, we should willingly agree to its being,, made. An honorable member who has the privilege of sitting on the Opposition side of the House, and who places at my disposal a little money for the relief of the poor, contributed to the help of this unfortunate woman. Her case is not an isolated one. In Melbourne to-day, men and women are being interred as paupers, (at the cost of the Government, because their friends have not the means wherewith to give them decent burial. Could the late Queen speak, would she say that the erection of a monument is a fitting way to perpetuate her memory? Would she not rather say, “ Let something be done for the poor, so that they may say, ‘ Thank God for Queen. Victoria.’ “? I view with loathing and contempt promises made by any man on behalf of Australia, when he is not endowed by this- Parliament, or by those who created it, with the authority to make them. How dare Sir Edmund Barton pledge in this way the honour of the country, when he had not the permission of the people to do so? I protest against his action, and challenge any honorable member who holds a different view, to call a public meeting in the largest building in Sydney or Melbourne to discuss the question. I am satisfied that if that were done, the people would decide against the pledge given by this right honorable gentleman, who now occupies the snug position of a Justice of the High Court of Australia. The people were never consulted, and I cannot understand how any honorable member would dare to vote against the amendment that has been moved bv the honorable member for Barrier.
– Why say “dare”?
– Ifthe honorable member believes that the people are prepared to acquiesce in this contribution, why should they not be given a chance to contribute to a public fund for the purpose?
– I, for one, shall dare to vote against the amendment.
– Then, the honorable member will surprise me. I have looked upon the honorable member for Dalley as a logical speaker, but I altogether fail to appreciate the two similes which he drew in dealing with this question. Can it be said that the Eight Hours Monument in Melbourne was erected out of moneys voted by any Parliament, or that its erection was pledged at a conference at which Sir Edmund Barton, or any other Prime Minister, was present ? Do we not know that it was erected by private subscription? And so with the other memorial to which the honorable member referred. If a fund is to be raised to perpetuate the memory of the late Queen by founding a hospital, I shall be prepared to double the offer that I made at the outset of my speech. Let us go right down to the basic rock. What had the artists of Europe to say of the Albert memorial ? I have never heard that the great art critic, Ruskin, ever praised that monument as he praised other monuments. I have yet to learn that the great art critic, La Farge, has ever praised that monument. I know of no art critic in Germany, France, Italy, or even Spain, who has praised it. A witty and sarcastic critic once said that if the little monument were placed on the top, it would resemble a great pepper-box. Although the art work may not be of the highest excellence, or compare with that of Rodin, in France, still, I have always admired the simplicity and the humbleness of the builder, Foley. His own little face is put in an unobtrusive corner, but it is looked at more by artists than is the work as a whole. It is bold and gaudy, but it is not glorious. It is nothing to be compared with that statue to which my honorable friend, in a vein of sarcasm, alluded, and which is known as Ajax defying the lightning. That is a splendid monument, which reflects great credit upon the artist. We know that every one in the community will subscribe a minute fraction of the £25,000, if it is paid out of the general revenue. But I ask honorable members if the unfortunate mother to whom I have referred dan snare even 3d. ? The honorable member for Par ramatta staggered me when he referred to the sacred ointment. That was not voted by Parliament, or promised by Sir Edmund Barton, or any one who filled a similar position in those days. To compare the God whom we worship with a woman, however noble and good, is blasphemous. I yield to no one here in my admiration for that good woman, Queen Victoria. She did purify the Court of England, and certainly it needed purifying. That is one reason why I should gladly do what I said. But would it not be a greater honour to her memory if this money were subscribed privately by the inhabitants of Australia? I do not doubt that they would subscribe £25,000; if they did not, I should lose my faith in this young nation. Certainly, I should prefer to see the memorial take the form of a hospital. Remember that it is not our money that we are asked to vote. We could just as well vote £250,000, or £2,000,000, because the difference in amount affords no criterion of taste, so far as voting the money is concerned. I intend to vote for the amendment, and against the motion. If the people of Australia dp not wish to subscribe this money, the House has no right to make them” subscribe it indirectly. If they are willing to subscribe it how much honour would their voluntary gift not do to the memory of the woman who reigned so long over the race to which we are so proud to belong?
– It was not my intention to speak on this motion, because I had hoped that it would have been carried unanimously ; that there would not have been any difference of opinion as to the amount of the subscription, or as to the manner in which the money should be expended. As other honorable members Have pointed out, the amount is so insignificant when compared with the total sum, that it would savour of misapprehension, to say the least, of the object in view if we were to offer even a suggestion as ‘to the manner in which it should be expended. I feel that some honorable members have forgotten the representative character of this assembly. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has pointed out, and pointed out truly, that a great deal has already been done by voluntary subscriptions within the Commonwealth to perpetuate the memory of Queen Victoria. But it must be remembered that, although a great deal has been done in that regard, there is a responsibility and duty devolving upon us as an integral portion of the Empire to come into line with the rest of the Empire. This is a great national undertaking. Those of us who regarded the loss of our late beloved Queen as almost irreparable, and who mourned with the nation when that sad event occurred must have felt very proud that the mourning was so general, that it spread from pole to pole, from sea to sea. The solidarity of the British Empire has always been one of our proudest boasts, and it will, I trust, always remain- one of our greatest glories. . Surely we are not going to be behind other portions of the Empire in showing our appreciation of one who has been so well described here this afternoon? I feel indebted to the honorable member for Parramatta for the excellent tone of his speech, and the high level to which he -carried the debate. I deeply deplore that we are not in a position to pass the motion unanimously. The honorable member ‘for Melbourne has referred to his being on the unpopular side, and at the same time he has claimed to represent the feelings of the people. Surely he has used a wrong term. If to vote against the motion is to be on the unpopular side, then the wish of the people must Le in favour of it, and the honorable member has misapprehended the duty which he owes to his constituents. It has been said, and justly said, that1 the proposed contribution is insignificant when it is spread over the whole of the population. I feel that it is because honorable members have lost sight of the national aspect of the matter that we have had any difference of opinion upon the subject. I give all credit to honorable members for the attitude which they are adopting, but I feel that they are acting from a mistaken idea with regard to the object and scope of the memorial, and especially with regard to the feelings of the people of Australia on the subject.
– I wish to enter my protest against the motives of those who intend to oppose the motion being questioned. I intend to use every endeavour to defeat the motion, but it will not follow from that circumstance that I am less loyal to the Throne and the Empire than those who intend to support it. I am conscientious in my objection to the motion, and while I fully recognise the high worth of the great Queen in whose honour the memorial is proposed to be erected, I agree with those who say that her memory does not need a work of that kind to perpetuate it. That Victoria was a great and good Queen no one would question. That she was a good woman, no one will deny ; and, thank God, there are millions of women in the Empire quite as good ! To the honour of the British race, no exception can be taken to that statement. That she fulfilled the duties of her exalted position, as, perhaps, few, if any, other monarchs have done, we are all agreed. But to say that Australia would evidence disloyalty to the Empire and Throne by refusing to vote this £25,000, is to go in the face of facts.
– No one suggests dis.loyalty.
– It has been suggested’. When the Empire called for aid, Australia was ‘not the l(ast to respond. Australia spent her money and her blood freely, to uphold the honour and dignity of the Empire, and would do the same again ; and I hope the day will never come when Australia will, in this respect, be found lacking. Imbibing patriotism for the Empire, as well as for Australia, in my earliest infancy, I have done my best to instil the same sentiments into the young Australians, for whose existence I am responsible ; and I hope that Australians will ever be loyal, first to their, own land, and then to the Empire at large. ‘ ‘But at this juncture, when the Commonwealth has no direct revenues of its own, when, in all ‘ our expenditure we are entrenching or encroaching on the’ revenues of’ the States, I do not think we are justified in voting £25,000 for this purpose. It would be an appropriation from a fund which, as it were, we hold in trust.
– This is not a mail contract we are discussing.
– I do not think ‘ I need the honorable member for Dalley to instruct me as to the purport of the motion, which really is proposed in fulfilment of a promise made, without warrant, by a former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. It is now sought to obtain the consent of the Parliament, and thereby the consent of the Commonwealth, to the fulfilment of that promise.
– The undertaking was to submit a proposal to Parliament, and not even the sum was mentioned at the time.
– This proposal is now submitted, and those who oppose the ratification or indorsement of the promise are accused of being disloyal, or of being actuated by unworthy motives. I do not think that such an accusation is just. We are willing to credit those who .support the motion with the most worthy motives ; and it is only fair that we, who oppose the motion, should be given credit for the same earnestness and honesty of purpose. The honorable member for Melbourne was right when he said that the amount is not the question, but that there is a principle at stake. Whether the proposal be to spend £25,000, or £250,000, or £2,000,000, as that honorable member said, it is the principle we are opposing; and not the amount which, spread over the population per capita, would in the present instance be small.
– What is the principle ?
– We are aske’d to indorse, if not an actual pledge, an implied pledge that the Australian Commonwealth would vote £50,000, not to a monument to perpetuate a memory, but to a memorial in honour of the great work of a great Queen. That is part of the principle, and the other part is involved in the proposal to vote public money - which we hold in trust for the States - for a purpose outside’ the requirements of the Commonwealth. We oppose the motion, some of us, because we do not believe that the memory dr worth of the late Queen needs any recognition, beyond that which is enshrined in the hearts of her people. Others oppose the motion on the ground that, if the memory of the late Queen requires some tangible and visible monument, and the people are willing that such a monument shall be provided, they ought to be left to subscribe voluntarily, as in other similar instances. I do not agree with the honorable member for Melbourne, that those who oppose the motion are on the unpopular side. For my part, I care little whether that be so or not. I am expressing my own honest convictions.
– I meant the unpopular side in this House.
– If the people desire such a monument, they will not be backward in subscribing any more than they were in. subscribing to the Patriotic Fund for the relief of the soldiers who went to uphold the honour of the Empire in South Africa. Australians have never been found wanting when an appeal of the kind has been made, and if the amendment .be adopted I do not for one moment believe that the .response will be less ready than on previous occasions.
– The honorable member for (Laanecoorie expressed surprise that the House is. not unanimously in- favour of the motion ; but the honorable member overlooks the fact that the proposal has been placed before the people of this country in such a half-hearted way as, to any one who knows anything of parliamentary life, or of ‘ human nature, to hold out no expectation of unanimity. I do not like the way in which this matter has been brought before Parliament. We sent a representative to the old country with instructions not to pledge himself to any course without consulting Parliament.
– We sent him to England with a muzzle on.
– That was clearly under; stood by the representatives of Australia; and he came back, after making a promise that he would consult this Parliament ns to some provision for a suitable memorial to the late Queen. But just look at the half-hearted way the matter has been dealt with. It is quite a number of years ago since that pledge or promise was made, and this motion presents the first opportunity the House has had to express an opinion. Under the circumstances, honorable members feel themselves somewhat “tied up,” as was shown by the honorable member for Robertson when he expressed himself as not being favorable to this method of voting money, but as re gaining himself as somewhat bound to vote for the motion because we had been to a certain extent pledged. When proposals of this kind are under consideration there is always an idea - though I am glad to say it has not been introduced verv much into this debate- that those who are opposed to it are in some way showing disloyalty.
– I have never heard that charge made during this debate.
– Every one knows that that idea is entertained on such occasions, and some expression was given to it by the honorable member for Parramatta. But. as pointed out by . the honorable member for Robertson, our loyalty is not in question; and I am surprised at the absence of discussion in regard to other phases of a proposal to vote money in this way. It must be highly satisfactory to the Government to find promises of support from, at any rate, leading members of the Opposition. That is rather a strange position, in view of the fact that on a previous occasion, when a proposal emanated from another quarter of the House, we heard a good deal about the danger of interfering with the self-government of Great Britain. There is nothing spontaneous about this proposal. To be’ a true expression of the admiration which every one in the British Empire must feel for Her late Majesty, it ought to be spontaneous and popular in its character. I am of opinion that Queen Victoria is entitled to all the more admiration, because the environment of the King or Queen of any country is such that a great strain is put upon his or her human nature. Indeed, I have some doubt whether there had ever been a good King or a good Queen until Her late Majesty ascended the throne. Hence I honour her as one who, herself living a good life, purified her Court. I give place to no one in my admiration for her life, work, and character. But it does not follow that those who entertain that feeling are necessarily prepared to vote £25,000 of the money of Australians to erect a monument, of the particulars of which we are in ignorance. We have no idea of its design, and I am surprised that, as this is a business proposal, more details are not given to us. We are informed that it is to lie representative of the whole of the Empire. Consequently a portion of it will be representative of Australia. But we have no idea to what extent or in what manner it will be representative. Are there to be representations of the Australian emu and kangaroo upon the monument? We have no information. It is not reasonable of the Government to ask us to carry the motion in the total absence of details. I am surprised that such a proposal should be made by so rich a nation as Great Britain. She is, I suppose, the richest country in the world to-day. Having so many millionaires of her own, it is astonishing that she should ask the outlying portion’s of the Empire to subscribe a sum of money through their Governments. The memorial would have been much more representative if an effort had been made to raise the money by the contributions of the people of the Empire. I believe that a larger sum than £25,000 could have been collected in Australia by that method. And remember that the penny of the man who can afford no more is just as valuable an expression of his opinion as is a million pounds from a man of enormous wealth. The honorable member for Parramatta says that he believes that the people of this country will be prepared to subscribe more than £25,000 for such an object. I agree with him. I believe that it would be possible to raise £150,000 in Australia alone. Such a contribution would be a far more effective expression of Australian feeling than a paltry sum of £25,000 voted in the manner now proposed. The worst of it is that the motion is made in just such a way as some employers take subscription lists round to their employes. Men do not care to refuse when the case is presented to them in that way. In this instance the subscription list is presented to us from head-quarters, and some honorable members do not like to object to it. But, in my opinion, we, as representative’s, ought to have the courage of our opinions. I quite believe that the motive of those who have brought forward the motion, and of those who support it, is a worthy one. But they have gone about the matter in the wrong way. I shall vote for the amendment.
– - I should not have thought it necessary to rise on this occasion except for the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, who devoted a considerable portion of his remarks to myself, because I had said that propositions of this sort were usually made at the end of a banquet, when members were full of champagne. I am prepared to back up that statement.
– The honorable member said that this proposition was so made, and I say that that is a libel.
– It It is all very fine for the honorable member to indulge in heroics, expanding his chest and throwing back his ears, as though he were the master of the universe. But he is no more important than is any other honorable member. I maintain that we have no mandate from the voters of Australia to spend £25,000 of the people’s money, whilst the States, especially my own State, do not know where to scratch for funds to maintain their legal obligations. I received a telegram when this matter was previously mentioned from the late Treasurer of Tasmania, in which he opposed the proposal straightforwardly, on the ground that the State could not afford its contribution. No doubt it is popular to vote money away when it does not involve any direct sacrifice on one’s own part. I also could be heroic in that cheap fashion. But I have made a definite proposition to honorable members opposite who talk so much about their loyalty. I will go further, and increase my offer of ten guineas to fifty guineas towards this memorial if they will do likewise.
– What is that but mock heroics ?
– I a I am sick and tired of the statements of the members of the Opposition about their loyalty. Many years ago, when a brigand was on the scaffold in Rome, he boasted that he had never killed a man on a fast day. It was a sentimental bit of rubbish that went down with the multitude. Heroic declarations are effective with certain people in all parts of the world. But we are sent here by our constituents to do our duty by this country ; and, though it may cost me hundreds of votes at the next election, I am determined to vote against the motion. I quite agree, however, that the reign of Queen Victoria was grand and great. It was she who prevented war between Great Britain and the United States, when Mason and Slidell were taken by theKear sage off the British ship Trent. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, testified that the British ‘Prime Minister was prepared to send troops to Canada and to commence a war, but the Queen stopped it. I recognise the goodness of her life, but I feel bound to oppose this motion, because we have no mandate from the people to vote the money. Why, then, should we be called disloyal and traitorous on that ground? It is time that we had an understanding on this subject. Honorable members should not be gagged. This is not a bear garden, where a man may be knocked down because he does not agree with the prizefighter seated opposite to him. I oppose the motion for many reasons’. I would vote for the expenditure of £25,000 to feed the poor of London, . or to help the poor of Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney. But I shall not vote for the proposed memorial simply because some of our Ministers, when in England, at the close of a grand banquet
– There was no banquet.
– W - When they were enthralled by the presence of those they thought tremendously superior, they said, “We will vote anything. “ I shall not ratify such promises. It is coming to this, that we shall have to carefully con sider how far we can allow ourselves to be bound by Ministers who are on a visit to England. I am beginning to think it is dangerous to let Ministers leave the Commonwealth. When the Grainger Association of Kansas elected Jerry Simpson, the sockless statesman to Congress, they sent two men to watch him, and all the time that he was at the capital he could not go to a meal without them. Those who elected him feared that, when he met the President, he might be carried away with enthusiasm, and vote away the people’s money. Similarly, we shall have to send some one Home to watch our Ministers.
– Why not send the whole House?
– I w I would vote £25,000 to send the members of this House, or half of them, to England. But I have another proposition to make. Let all who received distinctions and decorations during the sixty years of the Queen’s reign subscribe liberally towards the proposed memorial. Rob Roy used to take from the rich to give to the poor ; but, in voting this £25,000, we shall be robbing the poor to give to the rich.
– How will the rich benefit ?
– The The poor man who has six or seven children pays more towards the revenue than the rich man who has a wife and no children. I pay virtually nothing to the Customs Department, because I live the simple life; but, although I am a protectionist, I recognise that the poor man pays very largely to the Customs, and the rich-very little.
– Then the honorable member should become a free-trader.
– T - There are two ways of looking at these matters. If the amount had to be collected by private subscription, the rich would be able to pay their fair proportion. I would be willing to vote £25,000 towards liquidating the debt on Dr. Barnardo’s homes. He did more for the Empire by making good citizens of hundreds and thousands of unfortunate children than almost all the monarchs who have ever lived.
– If he could, he would be the first to repudiate the suggestion.
Mr.KING O’MALLEY. - It is not right, however, that we should be called disloyal because we express these ideas. But we should not be liberal with other people’s money. We have no mandate to vote a penny for any monument of this kind. The Queen was a good woman, but during her reign she drew an income of ?38,400,000, which, if put out to interest at 4 per cent., would produce a return of ?1,546,000, which is not a bad amount. I see everything from the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view, unfortunately, owing to the bad training which I got in America. Instead of voting this money for the erection of a memorial, it should be voted for irrigation works, or to make our hospitals free, or to benefit the poor of London1. It is said, “ We will spend the money on a work of art.” 1
– Will not the expenditure give work?
– W - When a house is burnt down, work is given in connexion with the rebuilding of it; but is it profitable to burn down houses to give such work? Members of the Opposition should not suppose that they are the sole representatives of loyalty to the British Empire. They remind me very much of a man I once knew in Western America. He was always telling his wife that he loved her, and I asked him one day, “ Why are you always telling your wife that you love her ; if you love her she will know it?” He replied, “But I do not love her, and I have to do my best to make her believe that I do.” The continuous protestations of loyalty on the part of members of the Opposition are sickening, and I am beginning to think that they are not loyal.
– Judging from the observations of some honorable members, one would be inclined to suppose that our loyalty was to be determined by our willingness to vote a certain sum not merely for a monument, but for a monument in the shape of an allegorical group of figures. I entirely dissent from any such idea. Respect for the late Queen and the great and noble work she did whilst she discharged the important ‘functions of the ruler of tHe British Empire would not be best expressed by a vote for the purpose indicated. I yield to no man in my loyalty, or in my respect for Her late Majesty, but I cannot support the motion in its present form. A pledge has been given on behalf of the Commonwealth, which demands recognition at our hands.” Sir Edmund Barton, when* Prime Minister, visited England, and entered into consultation with the then Secretary of State for the Colonies,
Mr. Chamberlain, . and representatives of the self governing portions of the Empire, and although we have not been fully informed as to what took place at that conference, we know that it was recommended that a monument should be erected to the memory of Her late Majesty. Sir Edmund Barton should have invited honorable members to consider the question immediately after his return, but no such action was taken. The result is that practically all the other self-governing portions of the Empire have agreed to contribute to the proposed memorial, no doubt under the impression that the Commonwealth of Australia would participate in the movement. Therefore, through the action of Sir Edmund Barton, we have incurred some obligation in the matter. I recognise that whilst the British Empire is enormously wealthy, millions of His Majesty’s subjects are living on the very verge of starvation. Despite the advantages of modern civilization and the great progress made ineverything that relates to the conditions of life, we are always likely to have the poor with us. That is no reason why we should not endeavour to improve their lot. It would appeal more strongly to me, and to the Christian sentiment of the community, if the memorial were to take some practical form, in the direction, for example, of alleviating distress and helping those who are unable to help themselves. I am not anxious that any such movement should find its expression in Australia only, but I am prepared to extend its operation “to the very heart of the Empire. It would be a wilful waste of money to devote 5,000 towards the erection of an inanimate statue, around which might gather, from time to time, thousands of people whose happiness might have been appreciably added to if the funds had been more wisely applied. I recognise that we are only partners in the movement for the erection of the proposed memorial, and I ‘do not wish to lay down any hard and fast lines upon which the proposed expenditure should take place, but I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier. To compel the whole of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to contribute towards the memorial is not the best way of giving expression to the genuine sentiment of the community.
– Does the honorable member think that we shall act contrary to the public sentiment if we make the proposed appropriation?
– I do not say that we shall be acting contrary to the public sentiment, but I think that if the necessary funds are raised by voluntary subscription we shall place the movement upon a far higher pedestal. The members of the public would then have an opportunity to subscribe according to their means, instead of having the burden laid upon them according to the proportion in which they contribute to Customs duties. If a vote were made out of the Commonwealth funds the poorer classes would be called upon to contribute in far higher proportion than the richer members of the community.
– I am in entire agreement with the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who declared that he would like to have seen this motion unanimously agreed to. To my mind, the Government are responsible for any opposition which has been urged to it, in that they have not submitted it in a form which would enable it to command universal support. I recollect that, in my student days, a very important monument was erected io the East End of London. That monument is still there, and is constantly growing - I refer to a portion of the London Hospital. A common plebeian body - the Grocers’ Company - decided to vote a sum of money for the erection of a! new wing to that institution.
– And a very good monument it is.
– A monument of that description, upon a larger scale, would, in my judgment,’ be good enough to perpetuate the memory of our late Queen. Two statements were made by the honorable member for Parramatta to which I desire to direct attention. He affirmed that every other empire was based upon a system of tribute. I claim that the Empire of which we form a part is based upon something which is very much akin to tribute. Every time the United Kingdom exports goods to the value of £500,000,000, it- imports commodities to the value of at least £800,000,000. What does the £300,000,000 difference represent but tribute in some form or other ?
– I am afraid that the honorable member is now travelling beyond the question.
– I think it is only fair that I should be permitted to show that the statement of the honorable member for Parramatta is not actually correct. He also affirmed that slavery was abolished during the reign of our late Queen, and he used that as an argument in favour of the proposed memorial. Would it be fair for me to urge that slavery was re-established in South Africa during the reign of our present King? The two cases are very much upon all fours. However, I do not wish to push that consideration to an extreme. I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier.
– When this question was first mooted, I was decidedly opposed to the suggestion that the, Commonwealth should contribute £25,000 towards a memorial to the late Queen. I know that Her Majesty always preferred that memorials should take the form of institutions which would confer a benefit upon the living rather than that of statuary. But we have to consider the position from the stand-point of our good name and of what has been done by the other self-governing portions of the Empire. Had this proposal been rejected when it was first made, we should have occupied a very different pos] tion from that which we fill to-day. Wi-. must recollect that every other part of the Empire has already voted specific sums for the purpose indicated. Consequently it is impossible for us to stand apart from the movement. At the present time, as the result of misrepresentation, Australia hai a very bad name in the old country. I am satisfied that if this proposition were defeated our action would be further misrepresented. I think that this motion affords one of the means by which Australia may be linked closer to the mother land. In the State from which I come the name of the late Queen has been perpetuated in many ways. For instance, it is associated with the Victoria Bridge, the Victoria ‘Hospital, the Victoria Baths,, and the Victoria Museum. At the same time, I think we should be acting wisely if we sanctioned this expenditure; and thus endeavoured to recover our good name in England.
– Buy it?
– I know of many persons who buy the love of their children by the presents which they make them. When we reflect upon what Great Britain does for us in the way of defence, it must be recognised that we owe to the mother land more than most people are apt to think. We have heard a good deal in reference to other British monarchs, but I. claim that all the dearest privileges which we enjoy were associated with the reign of our late Queen. Coming to the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, I would ask, “ What right have we to declare that the people of Australia should subscribe a certain sum of money towards the proposed memorial ?’ ‘ Surely any such action on our part would be tantamount to an interference with the liberty of the subject. If the public choose to take up the matter of their own initiative, all well and good, but if we are opposed to the object of this motion, let us say. so openly. Personally, I am entirely averse to appealing to the public for subscriptions in this connexion. If private subscriptions were invited, some honorable members would make large contributions to the fund, whilst others would give nothing. The position would be the same in regard to the community generally. In many cases, those in the most affluent circumstances would give nothing; the liberally-disposed man would give freely and the parsimonious individual would refrain from subscribing. On the other hand, if the motion be passed, every resident of the Commonwealth will contribute, in proportion to his means, to the cost of the memorial. It has been said that the Customs and Excise duties fall more heavily upon the poor than upon the rich, but I think that the wealthy classes, and those who drink and smoke freely, contribute most largely to the revenue raised in this way. In all the circumstances, I intend to vote for the motion, believing that if it be passed every member of the community will be called upon to contribute his fair proportion to the fund.
– The discussion this afternoon has shown that those who are opposed to the passing of the motion object not so much to the proposition to erect a memorial to the late Queen as to the form which it is proposed the memorial shall take. Honorable members of the Labour Party are invariably anxious that all proposals voicing. the loyalty of the people shall be received sympathetically - and as sympathetically passed into the waste-paper basket. They never object to any loyalist proposal in itself, but are always keen to find some flaw in the form of the proposition, in order that they may destroy it in a polite and entirely sympathetic manner. The amendment emanating from the Labour Party is one to differentiate between the tribute of Australian loyalty and those which come from all other parts of the wide world where the British race has settled. They do not believe in the rest of the Empire having any voice in determining the form which our common tribute shall take. They are always ready lo speak of the value of co-operation, and surely if there is anything in respect of which co-operative effort is desirable, it is that of rendering unanimous tribute from every part of the Empire over which the late Queen so gracefully presided, to a memory which we, in common with every other section of her people, revere and love. But honorable members of the Labour Part say, “ No, we do not think that that is the best way in which to honour the memory of the late Queen.”
– They are not Socialists in this respect.
– So far as this matter is concerned, they are not even coopera.tionists. Their proposal is that Australia shall be isolated - that she shall be the only non-unionist in the British Empire.
– Did not Canada take up that stand in connexion with her contribution to the British Navy?
-If I were to follow the honorable member along all the by-paths, into which his imagination may take him I should not be able to keep my speech within, reasonable limits. It is only my desire to be as brief as possible that precludes me from accepting his challenge. If Her late Majesty’s subjects in other parts of the Empire think that the most fitting memorial which her people could erect to her memory would be one at the gates of that Court which her qualities as a woman and a Queen raised so high above those of her compeers, it is unworthy and mean of us to stand in the way of the unanimity of such a recognition.
– We are not standing inthe way.
– The honorable member may not be standing in the way ; but certainly he never stands aside to allow any’ loyal project to be passed by this House. The Labour Party assert that they are loyalists, but they have never given an earnest of their loyalty. If it be loyalty for them tobe always seeking by some subterfuge to evade definitely pledging; themselves to any loyal project, then heaven forbid that any other party in this House should ever be guilty of so mean a thing.
– A great deal of surplus gas in regard to loyalty has been allowed to escape during the afternoon. So far as the Labour Party is concerned, I must say, in reply to the honorable member for Wentworth, that I utterly fail to see where evidence of loyalty has been wanting on their part. When troops were required for South Africa, where did we look for the men ? Were not the contingents that we then despatched to the assistance of the mother country recruited to a greater extent from the ranks of labour than from those who speak so slightingly of unionists and unionism? I intend to vote against the motion, and may say that I am not strongly in favour of the suggestion that a public subscription list should be opened to erect a memorial in London. I fail to see why Australia should contribute £25,000 towards the cost of erecting a pile of bricks and mortar or a piece of statuary in that great city. The people of my electorate are absolutely opposed to the proposition, and I do not intend to vote for a motion which, if passed, must involve further unnecessary expenditure on the part of Queensland. If the people of Australia are really anxious that a monument of this description shall be raised, let them contribute the necessary funds by means of voluntary subscriptions. I intend to vote against the motion, because I do not think that the position of Australia would justify such an expenditure. At the present time, every State Treasurer is complaining of the Commonwealth expenditure, and it seems to me that any vote of public money for this purpose should be made by the States Parliaments. I fail to understand why we should take upon ourselves to vote in this way what is really the money of the different States. It is idle to say that this contribution would come out of the onefourth of Customs revenue to which the Commonwealth is entitled, because, as a matter of fact, Queensland is not receiving at the present time her full share of the total revenue. Such States as Victoria and Western Australia, who are securing a handsome surplus, and who appear to be so anxious that this contribution should be made, should be prepared to vote the necessary funds. As an Australian, I claim to be quite as loyal as the honorable member for Parramatta, notwithstanding the effusive remarks that he made.
– And as loyal as is the honorable member for Wentworth.
– Quite as loyal. I have also a family of young Australians who, I am sure, are as loyal as are any of the members of the Opposition, and for the reasons I have stated I shall vote against the motion.
Question - That the words in paragraph 2’ proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I trust-
– When can I formally, move my amendment, sir?
– The honorable member is protected; I have a note of his amendment.
– I hope that after the recent division he will not think it necessary to address the House again. We have had a complete debate. The motion has been discussed from every point of view, the House has expressed its will, and, I think, the honorable member will agree with me that, nothing can. very well be added to what has been said on either side. Under these circumstances, he might accept the vote as the decision of the House.
Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne).- In response to the courteous suggestion of the Prime Minister, to whom it is very hard for me to refuse anything, I do not propose to proceed with my amendment. I intend to vote against the motion.
Original question put. The House divided.
Original question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 13th October, vide page 3595)
Department of Home Affairs
Division 26 (Miscellaneous), £37,800
– There is an item in connexion with choosing a site for the Federal Capital. The Attorney General of New South Wales was in Melbourne yesterday, and had a meeting with the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, in order to try to settle the respective claims of Commonwealth and State in this matter; and I ask the Minister to give some indication whether there is likely to be shortly a definite settlement of the points at issue. The Melbourne Age of this morning infers that the probability of definite solution being arrived at before long is fairly hopeful. The action taken by the Government of New South. Wales is keenly followed by every citizen of the mother State.
– Is the action approved of?
– Any action taken to facilitate the settlement of this question, and to hurry on the definite honouring of the undoubted claim of the State of New South Wales under the Constitution, will be gladly welcomed and indorsed by the people of the mother State.
– Has the action of the New South Wales Government tended to that end ?
– As I am a Government supporter, anxious to expedite business, the honorable member ought not to try to lure me on to an argument as to the respective merits of the case for the Commonwealth, and the case for the State authorities.
– The State authorities have done all they could to retard a settlement.
– I must apologize for being compelled, by these interjections, to discuss the relative merits of the contentions put forward. When the people of New South Wales agreed to the Federal compact, they understood they would obtain some definite advantage by having the Federal Capital within their borders.
– That is a pretty solid admission.
– Does the honorable member think that the people of New South Wales would have asked for this condition to be inserted in the bond if they did not think they would thereby gain some material benefit? I would point out to the honorable member that Western Australia, which State he represents with considerable grace, has received special consideration at the hands of the Commonwealth.
– And Queensland got the sugar bonus.
– That is so. The people of New South Wales are now inquiring. what benefit it would be to them to have the Federal Capital lost in some corner of that great State. The location of the Federal Capital, as decided by this Parliament, is not one which the people of the mother State, as a whole, think they can indorse. The New South Wales Government have put forward certain definite proposals, and the Commonwealth Government, through their own responsible officer, have been urging the claims of the Commonwealth as opposed to those of the State. My object now is to get a definite expression of opinion from the Minister of Home Affairs as to when these negotiations may be expected to reach a definite conclusion. I understand that they have been* of an amicable nature. The State has been anxious to meet the Commonwealth Government on all points, and the Commonwealth Government has shown an anxiety to meet the State. But I wish to warn the Government that the people of New South Wales are regarding with considerable suspicion the long delay in settling their just claims ; and if the present Commonwealth Government does not meet them half way, and more than half way, in this matter, so that the two claims mav be compared side by side, the people will have some right to believe that the bona fides of the Commonwealth are open to question.
– Why should the Commonwealth Government meet New South Wales more than half way?
– I admit that there was some justification for Mr’. Wade meeting our own Attorney-General moire than half way, by coming to Melbourne, because it is well known that the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral finds it difficult enough to travel the few blocks from the Courts to this House, to say nothing of his going to Sydney, in the interests of the country. I trust that the Minister will make a statement, because we do not desire to discuss the Estimates uselessly. We want to know the intentions of the Government.
– We are expediting the matter as much as we can.
– T hope that the Minister will be able to inform us that the Government have decided upon the action to be taken as a result of the interview between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Attorneys-General yesterday
– The honorable member for Wentworth wishes to know when a definite issue will be arrived at in reference to the Federal Capital question. I think he is aware that a conference took place yesterday between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Attorneys-General. It is impossible to say at the present moment exactly when the issues for settlement will be formulated. But I have stated before, and state again, that, as far as this Government is concerned, we desire to expedite matters as far as we can, and to arrive at a definite issue between the Commonwealth and the State.
– The Minister in whose Department the Federal Capital question lies has not really told us how the matter stands. All the information that we have is that the two Attorneys - General met yesterday. I think that the Commonwealth Parliament ought to be informed after the lapse of twenty-four hours what it is proposed to do. What is the present position in regard to the Capital site? There is a vote of £1,000 upon the Estimates. Is that intended to defray the cost of driving in a peg, or is it for the purpose of another picnic? Is it to pay for the services of a surveyor, who is to select a place for driving in the peg? The Commonwealth must be sick and tired of the continuous expenditure under this heading, without any finality being arrived at. Personally, although I did not believe that Dalgety was the best site to select, I am willing to adhere to the decision of Parliament. I should not like to see the question re-opened. But I do object to the large area of territory asked for.
– No one will ever be got to go there.
– That is petty jealousy.
– The honorable member is not discussing the question before the Chair. The Capital Site has been selected by Parliament.
– The honorable member for Wentworth drew attention to the matter, and I am now about to state the reasons why New South Wales does not accept the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament. In so doing I must refer to the Dalgety site. Personally, I am willing to keep the compact which has been arrived at, but I wish to point out that the. existing trouble has been caused by what I may call the permissive section of the Seat of Government Act. I should like to know from the AttorneyGeneral if that is not so. This Parliament has not said that the Federal territory shall consist of 900 square miles with access to the sea, but that it should consist of 900 square miles. I believe that no action can be taken until this section has been amended and made definite. I understand that no case can be founded on it, as it stands now. If the Attorney-General cannot give us the exact result of his conference with the Attorney-General of New South Wales, he may be able to tell us whether the proposal of the Minister of Home Affairs is a promising one. In my opinion, until the Seat of Government Act is amended, there will be no case to submit to the High Court. It is all very well for members representing the other States to say that New South Wales should be satisfied ; but we cannot be satisfied with the shadow of a promise. We want the promise carried out.
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs and the Postmaster-General, when private members, supported different sites, but I hope that now they are Ministers of the same Cabinet, they will do all they can to bring the negotiations to a. conclusion. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie seemed to think it audacious for any member representing New South’ Wales to ask for information on this subject. Every other State in the Union has had carried into effect the compact which’ it insisted upon before agreeing to Federation. Victoria has had the Tariff she asked for, and Queensland is getting her sugar bounties.
– Queensland did not ask for them.
– The sugar bounties wen; practically stipulated for by Queensland.
– Sir James Dickson - who was the first Queensland representative to become a Commonwealth Minister - was totally opposed to the abolition of black labour.
– At any rate, the Minister cannot expect his Estimates to go through without an explanation of the position of this question. I trust that he will let us know what this £1,000 is wanted for. I hope that it is not to pay for another picnic, and if it is for legal expenses.^ I should like to know how they will be incurred. Can any Minister inform us when we are likely to have the question settled?
– This question is one in which the people of New South
Wales no doubt take some interest; but I have yet to learn that they have authorized the honorable member for Wentworth to speak on their behalf. It was to the assumption of the honorable member for Wentworth that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie took exception. Round about Sydney, perhaps, many persons are disappointed that the Capital Site has been located so far from the metropolis, because of the business which they think has been lost. But the people I have met when travelling through the country have not been much interested in the matter. In my opinion, the %’arious delays have caused them to almost forget it. I venture the opinion that the correspondence between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales shows no great anxiety on the ‘part of the representatives of that State to have this matter settled. On the contrary, they seem to have thrown every obstacle in the way of its settlement. I should like to know what is the result of the conference between the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General of New South Wales ? Are w.e to get no information on the subject until their reports have been dealt with by both Cabinets ? In my opinion, the Parliament of New South Wales has itself put obstacles in the way of a settlement; because it has been openly stated that its members do not approve of the site selected. They think that it does not fulfil the spirit of the agreement in the Constitution, because it is too near the borders of the State. They seem to be hopeful of getting another site chosen ; but that opens up a very big question. The Reid-McLean Administration attempted, to settle this matter, but there was no finality to the negotiations with the New South Wales Government, and I do not feel that any blame attaches to the present Government in the matter. I think that we should press for a settlement of the question. It would probably be well if there could be a reference to the High Court, and it would be better if such a reference could be the result of an amicable understanding. I do not think that the attitude of the Government of New South Wales on this question indicates the true feeling of the people of the State. Personally, the people there do not seem to take much interest in the subject.
– Is the honorable member satisfied with the treatment which has been given to the matter?
– Yes; so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. I put the blame for delay on the State Government.
– So do I.
– They have flouted the Commonwealth Parliament by practically saying, “ You had no right to select this site.”
– Rubbish !
– That is how I understand their attitude. It is, easy for the honorable member to interject “Rubbish but can he show that matters are not as. I have represented them to be? The honorable member challenges my Statement, but he cannot deny the fact that the New South Wales Parliament is placing obstacles in the way of the selection made by us.
– They have a constitutional right to do so.
– In effect they are flouting us by declining to make available to us the site which we have selected.
– Certainly not.
– The present New South Wales Government have taken up an attitude entirely different from that assumed by the Administration which was’ in office when our selection was made. They are objecting to a site so far away from Sydney as is Dalgety, and they have thus brought themselves into direct conflict with this Parliament. The New South Wales Government have been responsible for the recent delay, and I have felt considerable indignation when the Commonwealth has been charged with breach of faith and delay. I do not think that the representatives of New South Wales will claim that the attitude now assumed by the Premier of that State is a sound one, because he has practically taken up the position that the Parliament of that State has a right to select a site for the Federal Capital. This is a very serious matter, and it is high time some settlement was arrived at. I did not vote for the selection of Dalgety, but I am ready to bow to the will of this Parliament, and I desire that the whole question should be disposed of without undue delay. I think that the Attorney-General might, without making unfair disclosures, inform the House whether there is any prospect of finality being reached upon this important issue.
– As honorable members know, a conference took place yesterday between the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales and myself, and I am happy to say that I believe the way has been paved for an amicable, and, I hope, complete understanding between the two Governments. As the matter has not been completed, and, as both Mr. Wade and myself are merely empowered to report to our respective Governments, it is plainly out of my power to make any definite statement to the House at the present moment. Honorable members will be informed in due time that an agreement has been concluded - as I believe it will be - or that the negotiations have failed; but it would not be fair to either Government if I were to put forward my own view of what has taken place up to the present. I have already reported in writing to the Prime Minister, and matters will be proceeded with without delay. It is the desire of the Government to bring about a complete understanding between the Commonwealth and the State authorities as soon, as possible, and, beyond making this statement, it will be out of place for me to say anything at this juncture.
– If both Cabinets agree will the way be paved for a speedy settlement ?
– If both Cabinets agree, the matter will be brought before this House, and I suppose the New South Wales Government will communicate its decision to the New South Wales Parliament. It would be impossible for me to enter into details regarding the conversation which, took place between myself and Mr. Wade, and I can only say that both Governments are animated by a sincere desire to put an end to any misunderstanding that may have existed, and to place matters upon a definite and fair footing.
– It cannot be denied that this matter has been allowed to drift into a most unsatisfactory position. I do not claim to voice the opinions of the electors of New South Wales, but I believe the general feeling among them is that a definite understanding should be arrived at without further delay. I do not for one moment suggest that this Parliament is altogether responsible for the present situation. It is true that Sir Edmund Barton, in his famous Maitland speech, conveyed the impression that the Government would take in hand the question of the Federal Capital site, and that effect would be given to the provisions of the Constitution with regard to it as soon as this Parliament was constituted. The view was taken; however, that it was the duty of the Parliament of New South Wales to first indicate to the Commonwealth Government what territory it was prepared to hand over to the Federal authorities, and Sir Edmund Barton did not. deal with the matter at the outset, because of the failure of the State Government in this respect. I do not profess to be a constitutional authority, but it appears to me that it was the duty of the New South Wales Government to invite the State. Parliament to indicate the sites that would be available for selection by us. After considerable pressure on the part of Sir Edmund Barton, the Premier of New South Wales handed to the Commonwealth authorities a report compiled by the late Mr. Alexander Oliver, describing the various sites which were considered suitable for’ the Federal Capital, and containing certain recommendations with respect to them. The New South Wales Government appointed Mr. Oliver to make a report. His report should have been submitted to the Parliament of that State, which should have been afforded an opportunity to express an opinion upon it before it was presented to the Commonwealth Legislature. Owing to the neglect of the New South Wales Government to insist that the State Parliament should be consulted in that way, . the matter has been allowed to drag oyer a considerable period, and has gradually drifted into the unsatisfactory position which it occupies to-day. So far as New South Wales is concerned, there ought not to be any, very serious trouble experienced in arriving at a settlement of this question. Unless my memory is playing me very falsely, the present Premier of that State - when this question was previously under consideration - expressed himself as very favorable to the choice of Dalgety. Honorable members will recollect that this House was originally divided upon the merits of the eligible sites. There were eight or ten of those sites, each of which had its own group of supporters. By bal.lotting, the list was reduced to three sites, and ultimately Dalgety was selected by this Parliament. Upon the last occasion, most of the New, South Wales representatives voted for a site in the centre of that State - I refer to the Lyndhurst site, which practically embraced Lyndhurst, Bathurst, and Orange. In the second ballot, after the southern sites had been eliminated I noticed that three honorable mem- bers who had supported them voted in favour of the selection of the western site. Those honorable members were the present Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Coolgardie, and the honorable member for Newcastle. When the final division was taken as between Dalgety and Welaregang - the selection of the latter would have left the question an open one - a number of those who had supported the western site decided to vote for Dalgety, with a view to arriving at some finality. Amongst those who supported the southern site, but who afterwards voted in favour of the selection of Dalgety, were the present Minister of Home Affairs, the present Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Coolgardie, the honorable member for Darling, the honorable member for Newcastle, the honorable member for Corangamite, the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and myself. The New South Wales representatives who voted for Dalgety, but who had previously supported the western site were the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for South Sydney, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Lang, the honorable member for Wentworth, the honorable member for Cow* per, the honorable member for Hunter, the honorable member for New England, the right honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable member for Macquarie, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the honorable member for North’ Sydney, the honorable member for Dalley, and the honorable member for Robertson, whilst the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Franklin voted similarly. The justification urged for that vote was that they desired to make the best of a bad bargain. I do not agree with their action upon that occasion. In my opinion they would have acted more wisely by leaving the question an open one. The only way in which that end could have been accomplished was bv refusing to vote for Dalgety. The Senate had already selected that site, and by this House indorsing its choice, the matter was absolutely closed. I am dissatisfied with our selection, because I do not believe that Dalgety is the best site which can be chosen in New South Wales.
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that question now.
– I merely refer to it for the purpose of illustrating my argument that the preliminary negotiations now in progress between the State and Federal authorities cannot result in a settlement of the question. I understand that the conference which recently took place between the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth and the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales was intended to expedite a settlement of the present dispute. Whatever difference may have existed between the Government of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government in regard to this matter, I trust that negotiations will be carried on as quickly as possible, with a view to an agreement being arrived at. But any such agreement does not necessarily imply a settlement of the dispute concerning the selection of a site. Apparently, it is only a constitutional matter which is at issue. But, after an agreement has been arrived at, the question of the cost that will be involved in the transfer of our Commonwealth offices to the Federal Capital will give rise to many difficulties. If we adhere to our choice of Dalgety, I do not think that the Commonwealth Parliament will be established there within the time of any honorable member of this House. For that reason I shall offer all the opposition I can to the selection of the Dalgety site.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I regret that the honorable member for Canobolas has taken it upon himself to make assertions in regard to the Capital Site question to which a reply must necessarily be made by other* representatives of New South Wales. The honorable member took the view that all the representatives of that State who registered their second vote in favour of Dalgety must necessarily indorse any action now taken by the Commonwealth Government to insist upon that site.
– If that be not so, what was the purpose of our votes?
– It was to select, not the best possible site for the Capital, for we had already been beaten on that, but the best site open to us to choose at the final ballot. As the honorable member must be aware, the position was that, after registering our original vote - and the site which we originally supported had the largest vote on the first ballot - we Were faced by the fact that we had to choose between Dalgety and Tooma.
– Has that anything to do with the question before the Chair?
– It has an important bear- 1 ing on the question of whether or not the representatives of New South Wales should necessarily support any action taken in the future by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth in regard to the claim of that State to select the site of’ the Federal Capital.
– The honorable member cannot discuss an action which maybe taken.
– I am discussing, the matter only in so far as it is a question of administration.
– I think the honor.orable member will recognise that such a matter cannot be discussed, because to do so would be to reflect upon a vote of the House.
– On a point of order. Mr. Chairman, surely we should be allowed to reply: to the remarks made by the honorable member for Canobolas, who reflected upon the action of those who voted in a certain way at the ballot to select the site of the Capital.
– The honorable member for Canobolas gave a historical resume of certain events that have occurred.
– He read out the names of those who voted in a certain way.
– I understand that he did so in order to explain the cause of a delay in respect of which complaint had been made.
– He said that the representatives of New South Wales did a certain thing.
– He had no right to make the statement to which the honorable member refers, and the honorable member for Wentworth has already been Allowed to deal with that phase of the question.
– I merely wish to say that I did not vote for Dalgety at the second ballot because I thought it was the best site that could be chosen.; neither was. I influenced!, as the honorable member seems to think honorable members should have been influenced, by any consideration of what the choice of another place might be.
– The Government whip was .particularly (anxious on Friday last that a quorum* should be present while we were discussing these Estimates, and in accordance with that desire I call attention to the state of the Committee.
– The honorble member for Yarra is not the Government whip. *[Quorum formed.]
– When I voted for Dalgety, at the second ballot, I dad so solely because that was the lesser of ‘the two evils with which we were faced, and I hold that in dealing with matters of this kind, we should not be influenced by considerations as to what another place may do. There is one other matter which I desire to bring under the attention of the Minister. A number of questions have been asked in the House as to the anomaly of excluding military clerks, who are discharging civil duties, from the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– That matter does not arise on the Estimates for this Department.
– In that case I shall refer to it when we reach the Estimates for the Department of Defence.
– I should not have risen to speak on this matter but for the remarks of the honorable member for Darling and the honorable member for Canobolas. The former sought to justify all that h’as been done by the Federal Parliament in relation to the selection, of a Capital Site, and to disparage all that Was been done by the Government of the State which he is supposed to represent here. And the latter righteously struck his breast to-night, and declared that all but he had been wrong in this matter, and chided those who represent New South Wb.les for having taken a course which he said was detrimental to its interests. ‘ I would advise my honorable friend to adopt a little less of that self-righteous attitude which he seems to have been assuming to himself lately. He has been taking upon himself Ja role which he fills very, heavily, and not with conspicuous success - -I mean the role of chastising and castigating honorable members on their political conduct generally. The honorable member for Darling made some very strange statements’ tonight.
– Stirring up strife again.
– It is necessary that we should refer tot these matters, because we are in this anomalous position: that a number of honorable members from New South Wales. somehow or other, always look upon this question of the site through the spectacles of honorable members representing other States. While, for instance, the representatives of other States are pretty solid in both sentiment and attitude towards State questions, unfortunately the representatives of New South Wales are riven by strange differences of opinion. I think it is very unfortunate for New South Wales that on this matter her representatives have been so unhappily split up. If I were to take up the same position as has been assumed here to-night by the honorable member for Canobolas, I should be disposed to chastise very ‘severely a number of honorable members from my own State for the attitude which they took up when the determination of this question was under discussion here.
– What does the honorable member object to in their attitude?
– What I objected to was that they seemed, many of them, to be desirous of removing the Federal Capital as far outside the substantial part of that State as they possibly could.
– What objection has the honorable member to Dalgety?
– Order. That is not the question before the Committee.
– Mv objection to Dalgety is that it does not substantially-
– Order. It is not competent for the honorable member to discuss the advisability of retaining Dalgety as a site, as there is no item relating to that matter before the Committee. The Standing Orders explicitly prohibit a reflection upon any vote or decision of the House, unless under cover of a motion for its rescission.
– I arm not desirous, of reflecting upon any vote of the House, but I submit, sir, that when we are asked to vote £1,000 for expenses in connexion with choosing a site for the Capital of the Commonwealth, we have a right to traverse the whole ground, and particularly that aspect which has been raised bv the conference of the two AttorneysGeneral.
– The honorable member was proceeding to discuss the action of honorable members.
– Yes. sir, but that was on.lv in reply to the self-righteous attitude of the honorable member for Canobolas, who took it upon himself to read out a list of the names of honorable members who he said had voted - mistakenly, no doubt - against the- interests of New South
Wales in this matter, and ventured to assure the Committee that if thev had taken the same course as he did they would have acted more in keeping with its wishes and general interests.
– Order ! I took careful notice of what the honorable member for Canobolas did say. To my knowledge lie did not make any reflection upon honorable members, but gave an historical resume of the votes. I thought he was leading up to a reason for the delay, and he was stopped from going further into the subject. I ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to further canvass the action of honorable members on a matter which has been passed by the House.
– I desire to reply to some remarks made by the honorable member for Darling. He made a statement to-night which I think was most unfair to New South Wales, and particularly to its Parliament. He declared that the Parliament of his State had flouted the Commonwealth Parliament. I ask the honorable member to say wherein has the flouting con”sisted ?
– I have told the honorable member.
– I have seen no evidence of a desire to flout this Parliament. All that the State Parliament has clone has been to quietly and legitimately ‘ assert a right under the section of the Constitution which empowers it to make a grant of territory. I wish to repudiate as strongly as I may the statement of the honorable member that there has been any attempt by the State Parliament to flout this Parliament. The Constitution clearly lays down that before a site can be determined it shall be within’ “ territory which shall have been granted “ by the State in question.
– Or “acquired.”
– We have not yet reached that stage, and I submit that when the State Parliament does attempt to flout chis Parliament, it will be time enough for honorable members to talk about the Commonwealth acquiring territory.
– They will not stand much of that in New South Wales.
– I hope that we shall .not get to that point, and it is in the interest of a peaceful settlement of the matter in dispute that I am now speaking. Nothing could, by any possibility, provoke trouble more than the statement of the honorable member for Darling; and I complain that honorable members, who ought to represent New South Wales faithfully, somehow have the knack of criticising it to its disadvantage. The honorable member can see no good in the action pf other representatives of his own State, but always good in the action of representatives of other States. I have not yet got to that plane of exalted patriotism which enables me to look through jaundiced spectacles at actions which concern my own State, and see through the most optimistic glasses everything concerning every other State of the Union.
– The honorable member reverses the process.
– I hope not. I am now standing up for what I believe to be the rights of my own State. To paraphrase Shakspeare, I believe that if we are true to our own States we shall not be false to any other State. At any rate, I repudiate the allegation of any flouting of the Commonwealth on the part of the New South Wales Parliament. All that has been said by the State Parliament is that, since they have to make a grant of country amounting, as proposed by the Commonwealth, to 900 square miles, with access to the sea, they ought to have some say as to where this slice of country shall be. I cannot conceive that, in the respectful assertion of that claim, there is any desire to flout the Commonwealth Parliament. Does it look as if the State Parliament wanted to flout the .Commonwealth Parliament when the former sends over the State Attorney-General to confer specially with the Commonwealth Attorney-General, in order to see whether some amicable arrangement cannot be made? I do not see the necessity, I should like to say, for all the secrecy which has been observed by the two Attorneys-General. There ought to be the most open conduct, revealing to the public, and to Australia as a whole, every stage of these negotiations, which are a matter sf public concern, and ought to be a matter for public comment, stage by stage. After all, it is the people of Australia who, in the last resort, have to be satisfied. I know, of course, that in delicate negotiations, and particularly in reference to matters in regard to which the Cabinet have to take full anr! joint responsibility, the first duty of an * AttorneyGeneral is to communicate with his colleagues. But here is a matter as to which there has been great public comment, and every stage of the negotiations has been revealed to the public. When they had finished their conference, it would have derogated nothing from the position of either AttorneyGeneral or either Government, had a joint statement been made to they public as to the terms which had been agreed upon. This is not so much a matter of Government responsibility, as it is one for this Parliament to determine. The question has never been made one of Cabinet responsibility, and since this Parliament has to determine.it, confidence ought to have been placed in the public the moment a decision was reached.
– The Attorneys-General are only delegates from their respective Cabinets.
– They are the Attorneys-General from the respective Parliaments more than from the respective Cabinets, for the simple reason that the matter has never been made one’ of Cabinet responsibility. It has been part of the criticism from this side of the House that we could not get a Government to take any responsibility in the matter.
– Does the honorable member wish the public to believe that the AttorneysGeneral had power to conclude negotiations before reporting to their Cabinets?
– Decidedly not, if this had been a matter concerning their responsibility to their respective Cabinets. In that case their clear duty would have been, first of all, to report to their Cabinets. But in a matter as to which the Cabinet has long ago divested itself of responsibility there should be the utmost possible publicity at every stage. The AttorneysGeneral do not represent their Cabinets so much as they represent their Parliaments, and, therefore, I can see no reason for preserving secrecy.
– They were specially sent by their respective Cabinets.
– Then, is the Commonwealth Government prepared to say that, as a result of the negotiations, they will take full responsibility for action, without consulting Parliament? On the contrary, all the Government will do when they hold their Cabinet meeting, and the matter has been reported from the secret conclave, will be to come to the House, and declare what has been done.
– Where is. the necessity for any secrecy ?
– I do not see that there ought to be any secrecy, con sidering that it has been declared by successive Governments, including that of which the honorable member for Wide Bay was a member, that it is not a Cabinet matter. The Cabinet have regarded this as outside their ordinary responsible functions - as a matter to be determined by Parliament. This Chamber would be in a better position to form an opinion after the fullest possible discussion by the press and by the public at large. However, the Attorney-General has taken a very different course, and I hope that both he and the Government will have the courage to assume full responsibility, and will not, after all this secrecy, ask Parliament to relieve them of responsibility. Before we vote this money, we have a right to know what the mind of the Government is on the matter. Suppose the Cabinet disagree with what has been done by the Attorneys-General, have .the Government any other course mapped out ? Are the Government going to stop, and wait on the State Government? If the State Government, as alleged by the honorable member for Darling, go on “ flouting “ the Commonwealth Government, what will the latter have to say as to that? Will the Commonwealth Government permit the State Government to continue that “flouting”?. The fact is, that, unless the State Government steps in to help us, we can do nothing, and in saying that I am speaking in a practical sense. We have technical rights, I dare say, inherent in the Constitution, but the moment we begin to exercise our ultimate powers we shall arrive at a very serious crisis in the affairs of the Commonwealth. When the Seat of Go- ernment Bill was going through the House, these difficulties were all foreseen, and were pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, other honorable members, and myself. We were opposed to the( Bill which fixed the territory, and I said then, as I say now, that the proper method was to defer the measure until the negotiations had been completed - not to fix the site and then ask the State Government whether they, without having any say in the matter, would grant the land. At any rate, this matter will have to be decided by the High Court. The State Government took up the ground - and I do not think that its right to do so can be questioned - that since New South Wales had to grant the land, it was at least open to the Government of that State to say, with us, where the Capital should be located. But when the point at issue has been decided by the High Court, the matter will not be disposed of. The Court will only decide upon the constitutional points ; but with regard to the acquiring of the land on the one side, and the granting of it on the other, we shall be no nearer to a practical solution. I should like to know also for what purpose £1,000 is to be voted. I observe, that last year £3,500 was voted, of which £1,645 was spent. What does the Government propose ‘ to do with the £t,000 this year? Why is that amount fixed?. If they are in earnest, and intend to pursue a vigorous policy with regard to the establishment of the Capital, why not increase the vote to £10,000, so as to make a legitimate commencement with the preliminaries for building the Capital? I think the Government ought to declare its mind as to pursuing the subject to its legitimate and final completion. There is another item about which I should like to know something,. I notice a vote of £500 for the cost of compilation and publication of a new addition of the Seven Colonies. That would be all very well if it stood by itself, but in addition there is a vote of £5,000 for the establishment of a statistical bureau. I should /think that the creation of the . statistical bureau ought to render, unnecessary .the expenditure of the . £500. But perhaps that expenditure has already been incurred in the preparation of that valuable statistical work from which we are all so glad to quote, and which serves us in such good stead in our debates. Some explanation is needed as to why the two items appear together.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling).- I dissent from the view expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta, and I hope that no information will be given by the Government, at this stage, as to the negotiations which have taken place. It would be unfortunate if the premature publication of negotiations, which are necessarily of a delicate character, should give rise to unwise things being said. According to the honorable member, some of us who sit in this corner are in the habit of making unwise remarks,, and if details were published now, it might lead us to say things that would prevent the negotiations being pursued to a successful issue. The attitude of the honorable member for Parramatta surprises rae. He appears to have forgotten that this
Parliament passed an Act which involved negotiations with the State Government. They have been proceeding. The Cabinet which the honorable member supported participated in them. The whole of the correspondence was not submitted to this Parliament while they were pending. The Government of the day is charged with .the administration of the law, and it may be necessary for the Federal and the State Parliament to pass Acts so as to get the difficulties submitted to the High Court for decision. It is eminently desirable that the matters in dispute should be . settled in an amicable manner. The word “flouting” which I used has been interpreted in a sense which was not in my mind. What I meant to imply twas’ that the New South Wales Government has ignored the Act passed by this , Parliament. It was unfair of the Premier of New South Wales to charge the Commonwealth Government with being unwilling to negotiate. Apparently, when the authorities of New South Wales complain that we are ignoring the rights of that State, they mean to claim the right to choose the Federal site.
-t- The honorable member forgets that a new factor has been introduced by the provision requiring a territory of 900 square miles and access to the sea.
– I shall not go into that matter. I claim to have studied the interests of New South Wales as much as any other honorable member has done, and to have shown no narrow provincial spirit. I frequently urged previous Governments to have the question dealt with as soon as possible, and, when the various proposed sites were balloted for, I voted, not for a site situated on the borders of New South Wales, but for a centrally situated site. I am pleased that the Attorney-General has met the Attorney-General of New South Wales in conference in regard to this matter. Both of them are very able men, who could safely be trusted not to give away any advantages in any bargaining that may have had to be done, and df they have been unable to find a way out of the difficulty, there is a poor chance of our ever getting a settlement of the question. I deprecate, however, any attempt to press for a premature disclosure of the result of their meeting. I say straight out that it seems to me that the State Government are not in a hurry to have this matter settled, and that makes it the more necessary for the Federal Government to find a way out. If the two Governments cannot agree, we must appeal to a higher authority. I can understand that those who think that the site selected is the wrong one should hope for a change, but, personally, I am prepared to abide by the decision of this Parliament. At any rate, it seems absurd to let the question be hung up indefinitely. Some honorable members seem to forget that there is another Chamber whose business it is to look after the rights of the States. To my mind, we ought to stand by what we have done. I do not understand that the Federal Parliament claims a territory of 900 square miles, or that we claim more than the 100 square miles which the Constitution gives to us, the acquisition of a larger territory being a matter for negotiation and arrangement. Apparently, the authorities of New South Wales are not in a hurry to have the matter settled, because they hope for a change in the views of several members.
– This question has. been prominently before the Federal Parliament since its creation, and those who were members of the first Parliament will remember how strongly and ably the representatives of New South Wales impressed upon their fellow members the fact that Federation would never be properly consummated until the Federal Capital was established in that State.
– That is provided for in the Constitution.
– The Government of the day were accused of delaying the settlement of the question, and we were threatened with the possibility of revolutionary feeling being created if there were not an immediate settlement. It was complained that Melbourne was profiting by the arrangement under which the Federal Parliament meets - in this city, and that political feeling and policy were influenced by it, to the detriment of New South Wales. But now that the Federal Parliament has, in accordance with the Constitution, selected a site for the Federal Capital, we find the Parliament of New South Wales passing a resolution which excepts from the list of suitable sites that chosen by this Parliament. Is that loyal to the compact?
– I think so.
– The New South Wales Parliament has merely expressed its opinion as to the sites which it thinks most desirable.
– I have no objection to an expression of opinion on the subject ; but the representatives of other States will not countenance any attempt by the Parliament of New South Wales to arrogate to itself a power which belongs to the Commonwealth Parliament. It seems to be assumed by many persons in New South Wales that that State is, not merely the mother State, but all Australia. The representatives and the people of the other States are almost tired of the carping and critical ‘ attitude which has been assumed by the Parliament of New South Wales in regard to our action in this matter.
– The representatives of New South Wales have not been able to gain their point, as the representatives of Queensland gained their point, in connexion with the sugar bounty.
– I am dealing only with the Federal Capital question, which I should like to see settled. I should like the Federal Parliament to meet in the Federal Capital as soon as possible.
– If the representatives of New South Wales had voted solidly in regard to one of the proposed Federal Capital sites, as the representatives of Queensland did in regard to the sugar bounty, the question would have been settled by now.
– I think that it is settled. If the Government and Parliament of New South Wales had not interfered, no Commonwealth Government could have refused to go on with the matter. As regards the cost of building a Federal Capital, suitable for present requirements, I think that the statements made in the press have been ridiculous.
– Surely, the State of New South Wales had a right to be consulted in this matter?
– I do not say that there should not have been negotiations with New South Wales. I am prepared to consent to negotiations with any State to remove difficulties, and bring about the final settlement of questions in dispute; but the resolution of the Parliament of New South Wales was tantamount to a refusal to’ recognise the powers of this Parliament.
– I do not think that.
– Then, I do not know what was meant by it. For the Parliament of a State to refuse to acknowledge the exercise of powers by this Parliament, or to claim to exercise powers which are possessed by this Parliament, is to flaunt the authority of the Commonwealth.
– All the State Parliament did was to assert what it holds to be a constitutional right.
– If ‘that is the issue, it is a very narrowly defined one ; and I have no complaint to make of the action of New South’ Wales with regard to that point. If that be their attitude, they ought to stick to it ; but the longer they do so, the longer will it be before the Capital is within that State.
– Surely the New South Wales Parliament is right in doing so.
– I have read the correspondence, and I must say that, in my opinion, it does not appear to me to justify the attitude of the’ Premier and Cabinet of New South Wales. A conclusion might very well have been come to in accordance with the expressed wish of the present Prime Minister. It must be recognised that no tribunal but the High Court can settle the question; any other action, under the circumstances, would be merely political, and determine nothing. I hope the greatest generosity will be extended by both sides, and I can say that my chief wish is to assist the representatives of New South Wales to get the Federal Parliament within the borders of that State. I shall, however, be no party to any endeavour to depart from our decision to have the Federal territory at Dalgety.
– The honorable member has made up his mind beforehand.
– I saw the district, and read the reports before I voted, and I came to the conclusion that Dalgety was the best site.
– Does the honorable member not think that the New South Wales Government have a right to say what territory they are prepared to grant?
– That is an issue which can be determined only by the High Court.
– Who first suggested that the question should be taken to, the High Court?
– The Premier of New South Wales.
– The issue as to the area of the territory, and so forth, is altogether apart from that of the site, which the New South Wales Government has said shall not be Dalgety. If the New South Wales Government have the power to say what site or district shall be allotted, theCommonwealth Parliament is tied hand and foot.
– All the New South Wales Government say is that the selection, should have been a combined act.
– As I said before,’ every possible consideration should be extended toNew South Wales, or any other State, innegotiations of the kind. When, however, a point is reached at which friendly negotiations can go no further, then the dominant partner will undoubtedly exercise thepowers he possesses.
– But the Commonwealth Parliament fixed the whole matter up, and then began to negotiate.
– My idea is that Dalgety was amongst the areas which the New South Wales Government set apart and were prepared to grant for the purposes of a Capital Site. If that be so. where is the consistency of the position assumed by the New South Wales Government ?
– These areas were not set aside by the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Then I understand that it was the act of a wise Government.
– That is all.
– Then I believe that when we have another wise Government in New South Wales, the question of the Federal Capital Site will be settled very quickly.
– I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that a great deal of unnecessary secrecy has been observed regarding the conference between the two AtorneysGeneral. I cannot conceive what necessity there is for any negotiations behind the back of Parliament; because, so far as I understand, these gentlemen met simply” for the purpose of arranging the procedure by which this question may be brought before the High Court. There is no matter of policy or Cabinet responsibility involved ; and I should like to know why the representatives of the people have not been informed of the decision?
– Must the AttorneysGeneral not first report to their respective Cabinets?
– It is not a Cabinet question, and there is no Cabinet responsibility involved ; the only question is as to the legal course by which the High Court may be approached. There was some difference of opinion, and the Prime Minister himself was in a little doubt on the question, and, instead of there being two or three days’ delay, during which the reports of the Attorneys-General may be considered, the public should have been made aware at o’nce of the conclusion: arrived at. Why does the Prime Minister not give the information to the House today ? That seemed a very proper question on the part. of. the deputy- leader of. the Opposition.
– If the Government will, say now that they are going to take a responsible course, I. shall1 have nothing further to say.
– I hope the Government will not’ take any responsibility.
– Why did the New South Wales Parliament pass a resolution omitting Dalgety from the sites offered ? Was that not an insult to the Federal Parliament ?
– No. The selection of Dalgety was made by this Parliament. I believe that a false step has been taken.
– By whom ?
– By this Parliament. I do hope that, the Government wilt not make this question a party one. If the Watson Government were wrong in the step, which they took, there is no reason why the Ministry should make that a question of policy.
– What did the Watson. Government do?
– They were instrumental in passing a Bill1 in. which a site was selected, that was not set apart by the Government of New South Wales.
– Did not the New South Wales representatives congratulate that Government upon their action?
– The New South Wales representatives discussed the measure fairly.
– The Watson Government merely submitted a Bill containing a blank, in which Parliament inserted the name “ Dalgety.”
– That is so. But I would point out that Dalgety was. not set apart as an eligible site by the Go,vernment of New South Wales.
– It was set apart, just as much as. was any other site. They were all reserved.
– Dalgety was never fully reported upon by Mr. Oliver, the Commissioner.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that it was reserved! ?
– It was never reserved by the Government. A supplementary report upon that site was made by the Commissioner, who declared that it was an ineligible site. Dalgety is upon the very fringe of the site in the Southern Monaro district which was “reported upon by the Commissioner. This Parliament selected a site which the Parliament of New South Wales contends had not been set apart for that purpose. Members of the Labour Party apparently rely upon . the. words “ or acquired,” in section 125 of the Constitution. The Dalgety site was not “ granted “ to the Commonwealth either by the Government or the Parliament of New South Wales. But this Parliament, having chosen that site, honorable members who occupy the corner benches now say, “ We will acquire it.” Whilst the people of New South Wales are of a generous disposition, and whilst they will be prepared, as the result of negotiations, to grant the Commonwealth almost any site that it desires, they will not consent to any territory being forcibly taken from them. We must not speak of “acquiring” any territory. They will never tolerate that sort of thing. I take it that a case will now be stated for decision by the High Court, and that a course of procedure will then be laid down. I hope that the question will not be made a. party one by the Government. I was one of those who finally voted for the selection of Dalgety, although I regarded Lyndhurst as the best site available, and I say that this Parliament should endeavour, by negotiation, to secure the site which it has selected. If our efforts in that direction fail, some years must elapse before we can talk of “acquiring” that site. In the . interim the electors of New South Wales will return to its Parliament members who will be prepared to grant to the Commonwealth either the Dalgety site or any other site which may be acceptable to it. Have not the people of New South Wales accorded to the smaller States of the Union equal representation in the Senate? Would they have done that if they “had not confidence in those States?
– New South Wales did not grant the other States equal representation in the Senate.
– She did. She assented to a Constitution which gives the States equal representation in the Senate, although both Victoria and New South Wales were each entitled to a third of the representation there. Was it not urged against that proposal that there might be a combinatoin on the part of the representatives of the smaller States against the larger States of the Union? But New South Wales flouted that suggestion. In effect she said “No. The smaller States will be just to us.” Without New South Wales there would have been no Federation.
– If Queensland had not entered the Federation,’ New South Wales would not’ have joined it.
– The honorable member has forgotten that Queensland stood aloof from the movement as long as she possibly could. New South Wales is the principal partner, and without her there would have been no Federation. In this connexion the Committee have only to be reminded that when the Constitution was approved by five States of the Union/ and New South Wales stood out there was no Federation. Why? Because it was impossible to carry on without New South Wales. “ It irritates me to find that honorable members are desirous of ignoring the principal partner of the Union. It is unlike their attitude in dealing with other matters. They are usually prepared to do justice; but when they are asked tosee that the Federal Capital is established in New South Wales, in accordance with the Constitution, they immediately set up technical difficulties.
– What does the honorable member desire?
– I wish the Government to say that they will expedite the hearing of the case by the High Court, and exhaust every means in their power to secure a final selection. An endeavour ought certainly to be made to choose a site that will be acceptable to New South Wales. If the Parliament itself will not make the selection, the matter must be allowed to remain in abeyance for some years, but I trust that honorable members will not talk of the Commonwealth “ acquiring “ a site until some years have elapsed. If that course be followed I feel satisfied that the Com- monwealth -will secure that which if desires without having even to mention its constitutional ‘power to acquire land. Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I do not know that I should have had much to say in connexion with these Estimates but for the remarks made by other honorable members with regard to the selection of the Capital Site. I certainly voted originally for Lyndhurst, but at the second ballot was compelled to vote for Dalgety, as there was no possibility of the site which I favoured being chosen. I do not understand the statement made by the honorable member for Canobolas, that we acted wrongly in voting as we did. I am here to defend the position which I then took up. The honorable member has assumed the rôle of lecturer-general to the Commonwealth Parliament; but I would remind him that the other representatives of New South Wales have as much right as he has to express their opinions, and are quite as conscientious as he is. No doubt he feels sore that the site which he favours was not selected, but had we stood by him, and allowed another site to come in - a site in which we did not believe - he would have been still more dissatisfied. It is time that the honorable member learned to give credit to others for honesty of motive, and for a desire to do what they believe best in the interests -pf the Commonwealth. I refuse to allow him or any one else to be the keeper of my conscience. I disagree with some of the views that have been expressed by ‘honorable members of the Opposition in regard to this question, believing that- the New South Wales Parliament would have acted wisely in allowing Dalgety to remain in the list from which a selection was to be made. Had they done so, a better feeling would have been crea’ted, and I feel satisfied that the result would have been advantageous to the State itself. I fail to recognise the necessity for secrecy in regard to the conference which took place yesterday between the Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth and of the’ State of New South Wales. I understood that the negotiations were designed to bring about an .amicable settlement of the difficulty, and if that be so, the public ought to be apprized of the outcome. The point at issue relates to the interpretation of the Constitution. The majority of the people of New South Wales believe - and I hold that this view is the correct one - that when the provision as to the Federal Capital being at least 100 miles from Sydney - was inserted, the intention was” that the Capital should be established as close as possible to that limit, having regard to the selection of the best site. I do not think that, in this matter, the representatives of the other States have treated New South Wales generously. It is not my desire to infer that they have been deliberately ungenerous, but.it seems to me that they have not regarded the question from as broad a stand-point as they might have done. In the opinion of many of the people of that State, she has sacrificed a great deal for the Commonwealth. Many who consented to that sacrifice being made would reverse their decision if they had now an opportunity to do so.
– New South Wales made no greater sacrifice than did the other States.
– That is a matter of opinion. I hold that she did make a greater sacrifice.
– That ‘assertion is constantly being made, but has never been proved.
– I could, if I wished, mention a sacrifice made by New South Wales of which the honorable member for South Sydney is cognizant, and his interjection therefore was quite beside the mark. There is no reason for withholding information as to the result of the conference between the two Attorneys-General, and I hope that the question will be settled as speedily as possible. If Dalgety is to be chosen, I shall not attempt to interfere ; but if there be another vote on the question, I shall vote, as I did before, for other sites.
– Why did the honorable member vote on the last occasion for Dalgety ?
– I have already explained that I had to do so in order to vote against another suggested site.
– The honorable member was again playing the part of the wrecker.
– I would wreck the whole concern, if I could. I was against federation at the beginning, and I am very much more strongly against it since I have seen the conduct of this Parliament. It is all very well for the honorable member for Yarra to say that I voted for Dalgety ; but the fact is that in the first instance I voted for Lyndhurst, and when it was defeated it came to a question of choosing between Dalgety and Tooma. When honorable members charge me with inconsistency in voting for Dalgety in such circum stances, they make a charge which they know is absolutely incorrect. I had to choose between the two sites which were left, and whilst I did not believe in either of them, I voted for Dalgety because I thought it was the lesser of two evils. There was no other way in which I could have voted at the time. I have heard some honorable members remark that they do not care very much’ if this question is never settled. That is a wrong spirit to exhibit here. Wisely or unwisely, the provision was placed in the Constitution, and ought to be carried out without further delay. Before a vote was taken in the State Parliament, I suggested to some honorable members that it would be very much wiser to put’ in Dalgety than to leave it out. I adhere to that opinion, and I can quite understand some honorable members feeling that this Parliament has been flouted or ignored. I hope that the Ministry will submit a method by which the point in dispute can be settled. I trust that some definite step will’ be taken in the direction of placing the Federal Capital where the Constitution intended that it should be. I. do not think that this item of £1,000 will go very far in that direction. I do not know for what purpose it is required. If a site, is fixed upon as the result of an appeal under the section in the Constitution, a very much larger vote than £1,000 will be required for the purpose of carrying out a survey and providing plans for the buildings to be erected.
– The Committee is entitled to know for what purpose this item of £1,000 is required, and no doubt the Minister will be able to give satisfactory information on the point.
– I am prepared to give the information now if the honorable member wants it.
– I wish to reply briefly to some criticisms before the Minister makes his speech. When the honorable member for ‘Kennedy said that the representatives for New South Wales voted for Dalgety he did not state all the truth. Of course, what he said was perfectly true ; but it was only part of the truth. It is well known that the choice of the House was limited to three sites. There was a great division of opinion amongst the representatives of New South Wales as to which site was the most eligible. Many of us, including myself, believed that although Lyndhurst was not the best site which could be obtained, still it was the best of the three sites offered. It was only after that site had been rejected that we were called upon to choose between the two remaining sites, neither of which, in our opinion, was eligible, as was made very plain in our speeches. We had to choose between an unsuitable and a more unsuitable site. We were reduced to the necessity of choosing the least objectionable of the two sites offered. That is how it came to pass that Dalgety was voted for by many representatives of New South Wales. The vote did not represent the feeling of the representatives of that State. We were forced into that position through two of its representatives having rival sites to offer, and consequently the State suffered. It was sought to be made a provincial matter, when all provincialism should have been discarded. I maintain that New South Wales is only asserting what I regard as her constitutional right. When I spoke on this question on. that occasion, I said, in selecting a site before we had been granted or had acquired territory we were, so to speak, putting the cart before the horse. I think that the words “ shall have been “ govern the whole of section 125. It says that -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth -
That, I think, clearly means that before a site can be selected by this Parliament the Commonwealth must have secured a territory either by grant or by acquisition from New South Wales. But instead of doing that the Parliament, in its wisdom, thought fit to proceed to select a site.
– How could we have had ii choice of sites then?
– A site .would have been chosen within the territory which had been granted or acquired.
– But could we have had three sites granted to us, so that we could make a choice?
– According to my view of section 125 a territory should have been secured by the Commonwealth before this Parliament proceeded to select a site therein. The site is not to cover the whole of the territory, but only a small portion thereof. The Commonwealth could have indicated to the New South Wales Government the territory they desired to acquire before proceeding to select a site.
– Are the people of New South Wales really in earnest in this matter?
– Certainly. The course adopted by this Parliament, could have had no other result than to cause confusion. By proceeding to select a site before we had secured territory we practically held a pistol to the head of the State, and said - “ This is the site we want, and, consequently, this is the territory we must have.” That is not the way in which we should approach this matter. The Premier of . New South Wales, I think, takes the view that negotiations regarding the acquirement of the territory should have preceded the selection of the Capital Site, but in view of what has taken place, I trust that the negotiations which are now in progress - and I admit that the Prime Minister is doing his best under the circumstances to bring about an amicable settlement - will end satisfactorily. If New South Wales persists in standing on her rights, and does not care to give up the territory within which a site has already . been selected, what will this Parliament be able to do ? Are we to take steps to acquire territory in New South Wales, in spite of the opposition of that State, which has a right to be consulted ? Are we to send an armed forced to take possession of the land we require?
– We could buy the necessary land.
– Possibly the New South Wales Government would not be willing to part with it.
– We could acquire privately-owned land.
– If we adopted that course, the position would be somewhat altered, but I know not quite where we should stand even then. If the purchase of private estates by the Commonwealth is to amount to the acquirement of national territory, it would be possible for us to buy up the whole of the private land in New South Wales, and by that means practically wipe out that State. I think we made a serious blunder in proceeding to the selection of a site, and that it was inevitable that our action would bring us into antagonism with the Government of New South Wales. It is desirable that we should avoid, as far as possible, the chance of friction with the States authorities.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- I can only express my regret that I have unwittingly trespassed upon the special domain of the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for New England, who act as lecturers-general to this House. If I have erred in the direction indicated, it is because of the bad example they have set me, and I hope that I shall be more successful in the future in shaping my conduct in accordance with their desires. I have been very much surprised at the restiveness displayed by honorable members under the references made to their votes upon the Capital Site question. If honorable members considered that Dalgety was a suitable site, and voted for it upon that ground, I do not know why they should resent any reference to their action. The selection of Dalgety closed the question, so far as this Parliament was concerned. I did not favour that site, and did not wish to finally dispose of the matter. I believed that Tooma was a better site than Dalgety, and, moreover, I knew that if we decided in its favour, the question would be left open for consideration later on. Now, the question can only be reopened by an objection to our selection on the part of New South Wales, or by some further steps on our part, which may involve the repeal of the Seat of Government Act.
– How could the choice of Dalgety close the question any more than the choice of Tumut would have done?
– By falling into line with the Senate, which had already chosen Dalgety, we practically closed the question, and tied our hands for the time being. If the Tooma site had been chosen by this House, we should ‘have been in disagreement with the Senate, and thus the final selection would have been deferred. When the Senate selected Bombala on a former occasion, this House selected Tumut, and the whole question was hung up, pending reconsideration. I hold strongly that the State of New South Wales has certain constitutional rights in this matter, and my view is borne out by the fact that we appointed a special Commission, which dealt with territory under the pretence of dealing with sites. This Parliament was empowered to deal with sites, but apparently not with territory. But under the pretence of dealing with a site, it assumed powers which apparently the Constitution did not enable it to exercise. We have nominally dealt with a territory at Dalgety, but we have yet to deal with the site there, in the event of Dalgety being ceded to us: That is a strong point.
But I think that if the matter is referred to the High Court it will toe held that the fact that the -New South Wales Government handed over to the Federal Govern1ment Mr. Oliver’-s report, involved the exercise of whatever rights the State has under the Constitution. I merely give that as my opinion as a layman.
– I do not think that the opinion is worth 6s. 8d.
– It may not be; but I venture to say that if such should prove to be the case the State Government did New South Wales a great injustice. I trust that the Government will not make this a party question, as the deputy-leader of the Opposition seems to desire that it should be. There was a time when it might have been a party issue, but as it was really .an Australian question, the Govern, ment of the day decided to make it open. It has been dealt with as an open question up till now, and I trust that it will continue to be so treated. The deputy-leader of the Opposition seems to consider that Parliament has not been properly treated in respect of a conference held yesterday between the Commonwealth Attorney-General, and the State .Attorney-General. But it appears to me that Parliament has dealt with the ques; tion as far as concerns th’e selection of the site. It has imposed upon the Government the obligation to negotiate with the State Government for the purpose of securing Dalgety. The Federal and State Governments are carrying on negotiations, and in order to settle certain points of law in dispute the Attorneys-General of the respective Governments have met and conferred. It is now the duty of the Attorneys-General to refer the matter to their respective Governments, who, through their Prime Ministers, will report to Parliament. That is the proper constitutional procedure. When the Attorneys- General have reported t’o their Governments, Parliament should be informed as to the progress of the negotiations. Parliament has not delegated its powers to ‘the AttorneyGeneral. It is the Government that has empowered him to negotiate. When he has reported to his Government, the Prime Minister should report to the House.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- I desire to allude, in the first place, to the secrecy observed with respect to yesterday’s conference between the Attorneys-General of New South Wales and the Commonwealth. I do not know why there should have been such secrecy. When the Russian and Japanese Governments were negotiating their treaty of peace they did not keep the whole subject secret until the terms of peace were actually ratified.
– The conference only took place yesterday.
Mr.WILKS.- To-day the press should have been able to supply the public with an account of what happened. One might think that we were engaged in delicate negotiations with foreign powers.
-Surely the Government should have time to. consider it.
– I was, to some extent, wrong in saying that we have not had any information respecting the conference. The New South Wales Attorney -General has ventured to supply the information that on one occasion he lent the Commonwealth Attorney-General a suit of clothes. It was hot, however, an ordinary suit of clothes, but a legal suit - a wig and gown. What is the history of this matter ? The Commonwealth Parliament decided upon a certain site. It passed an Act with the object of carrying its decisions into effect. Certain conditions imposed have become objectionable to the people of New South Wales. It seems to me to be regarded in this House as a crime for a member from New South Wales to defend the interests of that State.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– Permit me to say that for some hours past honorable members have been dealing with matters that are not, strictly speaking, before the Chair. They have not been called to order ; but because I am defending the State which I represent, you, sir, now stop me. The Commonwealth Parliament carried an Act fixing a certain site for the Federal Capital, but attaching certain conditions to the selection of that site to which the people of New South Wales, through their Parliament, have raised strong objections. They say that the Federal Parliament has not the right to select the site, while the Federal Parliament contends that it has a perfect right to do so. This is a point which can be decided only bythe High Court, which was created for the interpretation of the Constitution, and for other purposes. It was suggested that a case might be founded on the driving of a peg into New South Wales territory by a
Federal official.. Yesterday a conference was held between the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales to determine how the matter could best foe brought before the High Court, and the secrecy that is being observed as to the result of that conference is absurd. The AttorneyGeneral has informed the Committee that he has supplied a written statement on the subject to the Cabinet.
– Surely the Cabinet should be given time to consider it.
– We might have been informed to-night of what took place, without being given the decision of the Cabinet, and the Parliament of New South Wales might expect to be similarly informed. The speech which the honorable member for Darling made before dinner was quite different from that which he made after dinner, which shows the mellowing effect of a good meal. This afternoon he expressed the opinion that, except in the metropolitan district, the people of New South Wales do not care a straw about the Federal Capital question, but after dinner he modified his remarks. The fact is that the people of New South Wales have been fooled so many times by various Parliaments and Governments, and there have been so many delays, that they are absolutely sick at heart of the whole business. Naturally, they thought, when the Prime Minister said that he would have a peg driven in, so that a case might be stated before the High Court, that that would be done; but now it is found that that cannot be done, and so they have been fooled from day to day and week to week. They relied upon the sense and good-will of the Commonwealth Parliament to give effect to the compact in the. Constitution. They do not for the most part claim tobe allowed to fix the site, but they ask for fair play at the hands of the Commonwealth. Parliament. I do not think that they mistrust the electors of Victoria, or of any other State, but they blame this Parliament for the delay which has occurred.
– It is due to the action of New South Wales. The representatives of that State have blocked the matter.
– If it had not been for our action, it would never have been dealt with. We had to agitate for months before anything was done.
– The honorable member is now doing what he complained of other honorable members doing.
– -Then I take it that they were out of order in making an incursion into the historical side of this question. I regret that your ruling has come so late in the evening. I wish it had ‘been applied to other honorable members. My difficulties can be understood, when I have to fight both the Chairman and other honorable members, though, in the interests of New- South Wales, I am prepared to do so.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that he has to fight the Chairman - a remark which cannot be considered other than a reflection on my impartiality ?
– Perhaps I have overstepped the bounds; but an outsider who had been here for an- hour or two might have thought that the honorable member for Dalley was being placed in a more difficult position in discussing this matter than other honorable members had been placed in. I do not cast any reflection on you, sir; but I regret that you did not awaken to the true position earlier in the debate.
– Do I understand that the honorable member withdraws the statement which he made?
– I. understand that you, . sir, think that I should withdraw what you consider a reflection on your impartiality, and I am too old a parliamentarian to refuse to do so. Although the Minister of Home Affairs is intrusted with the settlement of this question, he has been content to-night to play second- fiddle to the AttorneyGeneral. All that we have heard from him is the word “expedition.” I have already asked him why ,£1,000 is asked for - whether for another picnic, or to meet the initial expenses of a law suit. It is as difficult to extract information from the Minister on this matter as ib would be to extract a piece of butter from the mouth of a mad dog. All we know of the meeting between the magic Attorney>General for the Commonwealth and the Attorney-General for New South Wales is that they discovered they had met some years ago, and that one of them had borrowed the other’s clothes, though it does not transpire whether the clothes were ever returned’. The honorable member for Darling is of opinion that the people of New South Wales are in no way anxious about this question; but the fact is that, although the people do care a great deal about it, they have become tired of the treatment they have received. The whole trouble, in my opinion, is caused by the permissive character of the section in the Constitution - by the use of the word “ should “ - and the House, in the course of a few days, ought to be asked to amend the Seat of Government Act, so as to make it possible to refer the matter to the High Court. I respectfully ask the Minister to inform the Committee what the £1,000 is for,
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - The £1,000 is intended to meet any contingent expenditure that may arise in connexion with the matter of the Federal Capital Site. It is impossible to say in detail what amount will be required; but as we are pressing the matter forward, it is desirable to have the money available, so that any consequential action may be taken. As to the £500,, to which the honorable member for Parra-matta referred, it is an item corresponding to a vote in previous years towards the cost of .a particular publication which, while it does not belong to us, savours of the nature of a Commonwealth publication. It is used for the purpose of gathering information as to the various States for comparative purposes.
– I shall raise the question as to whether we ought to vote this sum, seeing that we are voting a sum for the establishment of a Statistical Bureau.
– The item is placed before honorable members so that they may. know they are contributing towards this expenditure. The sum of £5,000 will be devoted to the organization and establishment of a Statistical Bureau.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I hesitate to say anything more about the Federal Capital Site question ; but I should like to refer to the statements made concerning the attitude of New South Wales. The honorable member for Darling withdrew the word “flouted,” but immediately said that the New South Wales Parliament had, at least, “ignored” the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament. What the difference is between the expressions, used in an opprobrious sense, I am not prepared to say. Then the honorable member for Kennedy said that the New South Wales Parliament, in omitting the Dalgety site, had offered an insult to the Commonwealth Parliament. I take exception to these statements, and contend that the New South Wales Parliament has neither insulted nor ignored this Parliament, but has simply taken up the position which was urged strongly when the whole question was under discussion, thai, just as the Federal Parliament has its rights in regard to the ultimate and final decision of the question, so, in the negotiations leading to the final decision, the New South Wales Parliament has its rights. In asserting those rights in a respectful way, the New South Wales Parliament does not necessarily insult the Commonwealth Parliament. All the New South Wales Parliament says is, “You ask us to surrender 900 square miles of territory, with the right to establish, possibly, a competing seaport with Sydney ; and you have decided to place the Federal Capital as far from the 100 miles’ limit, and as near to the border of the neighbouring State as possible. Therefore, as you are taking all these means to assert your rights without reference to or consultation with New South Wales, we assert our right to’ have some say as to the site we are asked to make over.” I should have thought that, as the Commonwealth Parliament was departing so far from what I regard as the substantial carrying out of the bond in the Constitution, the least we might have done before passing the Act was to pay New South Wales the compliment of consultation. We ought to have proceeded in this Chamber by resolution, and not by Statute; but we bound ourselves hand and foot, and then’ proceeded to negotiate with the New South Wales Government. That is what the State Government complain, and righteously complain of, and because they assert their rights, as they allege, under the Constitution, they ought not to be accused of offering insults to, or ignoring the decision of, the Federal Parliament. What was the offer made by the State Government in regard to Dalgety? All that was done by the State Government at the initiation of this question was to instruct a Commissioner to inspect a number of sites; and the report of the Commissioner was, without comment of any kind, or without any submission to the State Government, simply handed over for the perusal and consideration of the Federal Government. In that way, and in that inconclusive, incomplete, and irresponsible way only, they offered these sites. A deliberate offer of a site was. never made by the people of New South Wales. That could only Le made after the New South Wales Parliament, which alone represents the people in this matter, had arrived at a decision. That was the course which was followed by the present Government of that State. When this question came under their control, almost their first action was to submit the whole matter to the deliberate choice of the State Legislature. That body declared that it did not regard Dalgety as a suitable site. It affirmed that it was not a site which could fairly be construed as coming within the .spirit of the Federal compact upon this question.. It said that some site should Le chosen which was more in the heart of New South Wales, and which represented more in the nature of a substantial concession to that State. The feeling in New .South Wales to-day is that the choice of Dalgety does not at all square with the spirit of the bond which was made at the beginning. Its people read - as I do - the constitutional prescription upon this matter as implying that the Seat of Government shall be as near to the 100 miles’ limit as it is possible to locate it, consistently with the .selection of a suitable site. Since the Capital must foe outside the limit of 100 miles from Sydney, it should, by implication, be as near to that limit as the people of New South Wales desire it to be. That is the interpretation which they place upon the Constitution, and I submit that there can be no other construction put upon it, if we seek to give effect to the spirit of the compact, which was that the possession of the Seat of Government should represent a substantial concession to New South Wales. In pursuance of what they believe to be the intention of that solemn compact - not merely construing it in the most technical sense possible - they wish a site to be selected which is more nearly in the heart of that State than is Dalgety, and which would represent a reasonable and solid concession to it.
– To give New South Wales the Capital was a very substantial concession.
– The honorable member may think so, but I cam assure him that our selection of ‘ Dalgety is not regarded with that great degree of favour with which he thinks the people of New South Wales should regard it. They say that Dalgety is too far away from Sydney, being situated upon the very confines of that State, to confer arty real advantage upon them. They argue - I think with every show of reason - that when an understanding was arrived .at .by the Premiers, under which New South Wales was to be granted the Seat of Government, so long as it was not located within 100 miles of Sydney, it meant that the Capital should be of some solid use to that State. Of what use can the Seat of Government be to New South Wales if it is established ;at Dalgety, and if the Federal territory is to have access to the .sea, which means possibly the creation of another port to compete -with that of Sydney ? The people of New South Wales urge that, instead of such a site representing a substantial and bond fide concession to them, its selection means a straining almost out of recognition of the bond which was entered into.
– Is it not strange that that question was not argued when the provision was inserted in the Constitution ?
– I think it was argued at the Conference of Premiers. The right honorable member for Balaclava, who was Premier of Victoria at the time, has admitted more than once that the only reason why the 100 miles’ limit was .imposed was to prevent the Seat of Government being established at a place like Moss Vale. After Ballarat had been put out of the running, public attention was naturally turned to Moss Vale, which is a verybeautiful and proper site. It was in order to exclude that site, according to the definite statement of the right honorable mem.ber for Balaclava, that the 100 miles’ limit was imposed. That being so, I take it that there was an understanding on >the part of the whole of those who arrived -at the agreement that New South Wades could have the Seat of Government established at any suitable site as close to that limit as possible. At any rate, that is the way in which the people of that ‘State regard the matter. That is the basis of all these later negotiations. They are endeavouring to bring the Commonwealth back to the spirit of the bond, instead of allowing the matter to rest in the position in which we have placed it, and which, while strictly and technically within the meaning of the Constitution, is yet as far removed as it possibly can be, from the spirit of the compact. That is the position of New South Wales, as nearly as I can put it, and it is a very wrong thing indeed to accuse that State of deliberately flouting the will of this Parliament, merely because she makes this respectful assertion of her rights.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - There are several items .under the heading of “ Miscellaneous,” in .regard to which I should like to Obtain some information. For instance, I notice that the sum of £21,000 as proposed! to be appropriated for the purpose of covering expenses’ in connexion with the administration of our Electoral Act. Am I to understand that that ,amount represents the annual cost of the administration of that Act? Is that the annual expenditure in connexion with the Electoral’ Office when there is no general election pending? Seeing that the Act provides that in carrying out its provisions the Minister shall draw upon the services of public servants as much as possible. It seems to me that £21,000 is a large amount to pay for administrative purposes in normal times. Then I would point out that the sum of £300 is provided to cover the cost of Commonwealth elections. Of course, if that sum merely represents an unpaid balance,, no further explanation is necessary. I notice, further, that an amount of £5,000 is set down for. the establishment of a statistical bureau. I am one of those who believe that a Commonwealth Statistical Bureau should have been established some years ago. Up to the present time we have had to rely largely, on the compilations of the States Statisticians, and while in dealing with certainmatters we have found some honorable members prepared to accept without question a statement made, say, by Mr. Coghlan, on other occasions they have been disposed to doubt the authenticity of his’ figures. For this reason alone I shall be glad to see the bureau established, but I wish to know whether the item of £5,006 is to cover the cost of a fully equipped department. If it is, it seems to me that it is rather small, while on the other hand it appears to be a somewhat heavy expenditure to incur in the initial stages of the Department.
Mr. GROOM (Darling. Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - With regard to the first question raised by the honorable member for Dalley, I may say that, roughly speaking, ,£15,000 per annum represents the cost of administering the Electoral ActThat sum provides for contingencies, aswell as for the remuneration of temporary officials, divisional returning officers, registrars, and all permanent officials under the Act. The item of £21,000 -includes £6,000 for the printing of the rolls, which is not. an annual expenditure.
– Does the sum of £6,000 include the cost of compiling the rolls ?
– It covers the cost of printing and preparation. The item of £300 to which the honorable member also referred, is to meet claims for outofpocket expenses on the part of certain divisional returning officers, in accordance with a promise that was made by my predecessor. These officers were given a certain remuneration, but they incurred expenditure over and above that amount.
– The item refers, then, to the last general election?
– That is so. It has been placed on the Estimates in accordance with a promise made by my predecessor, after careful investigation. I also looked through the papers.
– Why were not the full claims met?
– Because my predecessor, after investigating the whole matter most carefully, and conferring with the officers themselves, found that no promise that would justify such a claim was made by any one having the authority to give it. It was said, in one case, that the promise was made at a certain meeting, but others who were present denied that that was so, while the shorthand notes of the meeting, as well as the financial instructions issued, were in conflict with the assertion.
– Are all the officers to be treated alike?
– That is so. Since I have been in office I have paid accounts in respect of claims made by officers in Victoria and other States. The promise made by my predecessor has been honoured.
– On what ground was the concession made?
– Because it was felt that certain officers had incurred out-of-pocket expenses upon representations which they believed to be authoritative.
– Why limit the bonus to £10each ?
– My predecessor thought that that was a fair limitation to impose. The officers concerned were asked to send in their vouchers and make a. declaration.
– Definite instructions should be issued next time.
– The financial instructions issued at the last general elections were definite.
– But they were varied over and over again.
– I do not think that the financial instructions were altered. In any case,, however, we shall take care that the instructions issued in connexion with the next general election are so clear as not to admit of a repetition of this incident. The whole scheme has been so worked out that every official in connexion with the elections will know beforehand what remunerationhe is to receive.
– It is to be hoped that fair remuneration will be given. That was not the case at the last election.
– The remuneration will be fair. As to the establishment of a Statistical. Bureau, it is impossible at present to state exactly what expense will be incurred, because we have not yet appointed a Statistician to organize the Department. The intention is to appoint a Statistician who will be worthy of the position. We cannot say off-hand what salary will be paid, but it will be necessary to offer a remuneration adequate for the man we desire to appoint.
– A well conducted bureau will relieve the States.
– That is so. It, will, be necessary to have a certain number of permanent officials surrounding the Commonwealth Statistician, and it is proposed, as far as possible, to utilize the services of the statistical branch of the Customs Department. Other expenditure will be incurred in connexion with, the occupation of offices and the necessary printing.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman mean that it is intended to utilize the services of the Customs officials in regard to valuations?
– No; I was referring to the statistics as to exports and imports. It is considered advisable, instead of having statistical branches in connexion with each Department, and so multiplying the number of officers engaged in this work, to have one central Department. The Department will be well organized, and the desire of the Government is, without incurring undue expenditure, to insure that it shall be thoroughly efficient.
– I trust that it is not the intention of the Government to create another costly Department.
– Hear, hear.
– If we had a Federal Statistical Bureau, the States might be able to dispense with the services of a few clerks, but it would still be neces sary for them to continue their Statistical
Departments. As to the question of ‘ the way in which the last general elections were conducted, I do not think that a greater muddle could have occurred. Before one set of instructions issued by the Department could be put into operation a fresh set was sent out, and led to much confusion. For the most part, these fresh instructions were transmitted by wire, and were so brief that the officers in charge found it practically impossible to observe any system. The success which attended the carrying out of the elections in Tasmania was due to the f act that the officer in charge there took the work largely into his own hands, and did not pay too much attention to the instructions issued from the central office. Had the officers in the distant States allowed the centralization influences of the head office in Melbourne to prevail the elections would have ended in chaos. The Electoral Department should be one of the most competent that we have. I hope that before the next general election an entirely new system will be introduced, that instructions will be issued some time in advance, and that, as far as possible the central office will refrain from sending messages by cable, inasmuch as they are necessarily brief, and must consequently be confusing.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).It comes as a surprise to me to learn that the Electoral Department is going to cost £15,000 a year over and above the expenditure of £50,000 which a general election involves. We are told that the divisional returning officers throughout Australia are receiving an allowance of £26 each per year, and that is little enough, I think. Of this item of £21,000, £6,000 is required for the compilation, printing, and distribution of the electoral rolls. What is to be done with the balance of£15,000? Is it required for the Chief Electoral Office in Russellstreet, Melbourne? If this is not gross extravagance, I should like to know what is. We are asked to vote £500 to cover the cost of compiling and publishing a new edition of the Seven Colonies; this being sufficient, why is it necessary to provide £5,000 towards the establishment of a Statistical Bureau to do the work for the six States? All the machinery is in working order. Is there no satisfactory explanation to offer concerning this item of £5,000 for the creation of a Statistical Bureau ? Who is responsible for the preparation of these Estimates ?
– The honorable member for North Sydney.
– Who has the hardihood to came down here, and submit these Estimates? I should never have had the courage to take that step. Are Ministers going to swallow everything which is prepared for them by the heads of Departments ? The more inquiry I make, the more am I satisfied that the Departments “ are being run by the under-secretaries. The Minister in charge of a Department appears to be a mere figure-head. A report upon a certain matter is submitted, and without looking into its contents, and exercising his judgment, he writes “approved.” I am quite surprised at the Minister ‘of Home Affairs coming down with such proposals as I have referred to.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I understand from the Minister of Home Affairs that a portion of this item of £21,000 is required to cover the claims of divisional returning officers, in respect to the last general election.
– This matter has engaged the attention of the Department for a considerable time. It is prepared to allow only a portion of the claim, because it contends that no authoritative promise was made to pay the amount which is asked for. I have investigated the claim, and it seems to me that the Department has done an injustice to a very deserving body of men who had to do important work, not only in connexion with the electoral machinery, but also in carrying out the last general election. On the eve of that event they received their appointment under the Electoral Act, and were summoned to their respective capitals to consult with the officers of the Department, as to how they were to carry out the work. It is alleged that on that occasion the question of the remuneration the men were to receive was broached, not officially, but indirectly, and that they were told that they would subsequently receive a permanent appointment under the Act as divisional returning officers, but that for their work at the then coming election they would be allowed a special bonus of £20 each. In his evidence before the Select Committee on Electoral Administration,the late Chief Electoral Officer, who is alleged to have made that statement, said that at this conference no mention of the salary was made, and that that matter was left to be determined afterwards. Is it reasonable to suppose that a number of men who were charged with an important work should meet and separate without knowing what remuneration they were to receive from the Department? Is it not obvious that they would inquire what recompense they would get? However, if we are to believe the late head of the Department, no such inquiry was made, and no such information was given. After the general election had been held, these men were informed that that was part of the work belonging to the year for which they would receive a salary of £26. Fancy paying a salary of only £26 for the conduct of a general election, and attending to the very important routine work connected with the administration of the machinery of the Act for a year ! When the men asked for the payment of the. £20 alleged to be due to them, their claim was questioned by the Chief Electoral Officer, and disallowed. What was the position disclosed by the inquiry made by the late Minister ? That, the general impression throughout the service was that a payment of £20 would be made to each officer in respect to the special work he was called upon to perform. One man might have misunderstood the position, but how did it come about that all the electoral officers in New South Wales and Victoria made the same mistake? Either the promise was made,- or the officers entered into a conspiracy to secure ‘the payment. The- latter supposition cannot be entertained for a moment, because the whole of the officers are highly respected servants of the States. One official who did not happen to be present at the conference, but who wished to be satisfied before he incurred any expense, wrote tq the Chief Electoral Officer in New South Wales, and was told that a promise had been made, and that presumably it would be honored at the proper time. The demand of the electoral officers was disallowed by two previous Ministers, but was again considered by the late Minister of Home Affairs, who, after reviewing the additional evidence brought before him, decided to grant an allowance of £10, or one-half of the amount claimed, to cover actual outofpocket expenses. Apparently the Department took the view that the officers had no legal right to any payment, but that it was fair to grant them £10 to cover out-of-pocket expenses, and that if they had exceeded that amount they would have to bear the loss. Some of the officers deducted the full amount of £20 from the money placed to their credit before any question was raised as to the payment to be made to them, and I should like to know whether they are to be called upon for a refund. I ask the Minister to look into this matter, and see whether some further consideration cannot be extended to the officers. The proposed allowance of £26 per annum to’ the divisional returning officers will not compensate them for the additional work to be performed, and I trust that the Minister will see his way either to increase the fixed salaries or to make some special allowance in connexion with the general elections.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- I was astonished to hear the Minister state that £15,000 was required to cover the annual expense of administering the Electoral Department, that £4,000 would be required by the Chief Electoral Officer and his assistants, and that the balance of ,£11,000 would be devoted to the payment of the divisional returning officers, at the rate of £26 per annum. I understood that the £21,000 was required to defray one-third of the cost of a general election, in addition to the ordinary current expenses of administration.
– £11,720 is intended for the payment of officers in connexion with the administrative work of the Department, and £6,000 is to be devoted to the printing of rolls.
– I am astonished to find that the expenses of the Department are so heavy. We were told that the services of the public servants were obtained for the purposes of economy, but now we are given to understand that this is an estimate for the officers throughout the Commonwealth, numbering close on 450. The explanation is absurd. There is some leakage somewhere, of which’ no explanation has been given. I will not believe that in seventyfive electorates there are 450 officers receiving £26 per annum all the year round.
– There are 4,081 persons included, in this vote. There are six Chief Electoral Officers, seventy-five divisional returning officers, and 4,000 registrars. *
– The Minister says that there are six Chief Electoral Officers ; but I venture the assertion that one Chief’ Electoral Officer, namely, for the State of Tas? mania, is not provided for here.
– That is quite correct.
-After that mistake on the part of the Minister, we have to take his statements with a good deal of hesitation. The fact of the matter is that the Minister has not got the information which’ he ought to have. If he expects us to accept his statements, when it is clear that he does not understand his. subject, he must take us for children. We find him floundering in the mud whenever he is called upon to give information. He is paid a high salary, and is expected to know these things, but whenever a question is put to him he has to bob behind the Speaker’s chair and consult an officer of the Department. It is scandalous that the Minister should know so little about his business. Then we are told that these Estimates were framed by the previous Minister, the honorable member for North Sydney. Are we to understand, then, that the present Government is living on the work of the last Government ? A lump sum of £6,000 is provided for the preparation of rolls. That seems very little; but when we consider that the greater part of the work is done by the police in the States, who receive merely trifling remuneration, it is a considerable, sum. I consider that the Electoral Office is a most expensive one. It has an executive staff of eight officers, absorbing £4,000 per annum. On the top of that, we have an expenditure which brings the total to £15,000 ; in addition, £6,000 for the preparation of the rolls; and, further, the periodical expenditure for general elections. The Minister should see whether the pruning knife cannot be applied. It is impossible for honorable members to suggest dispensing with one officer or another, because they cannot tell which officials are valuable, or whose services can be done without. But it is evident that the Minister does not understand the details affecting his own Department. He has acknowledged one mistake pointed out by myself; there may be others. Possibly if I were in possession of more information J should be able to analyze these particulars more thoroughly. It is certainly a disgrace that the Minister should have to bob behind the chair every five minutes, when he draws the large salary attached to his office, and is supposed to be acquainted with its affairs.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- I wish to indorsethe statements of the honorable member for Canobolas with reference to the promised payments to. the divisional return ing officers in connexion with the last general election. While I think that the Electoral Office expenditure is abnormally high generally, I nevertheless agree that the payments which should have been made to these officers would not have increased the amount very much. It seems to me that some of the officers in the Department must be overpaid, whilst those who are actually doing the heaviest portion’ of the work are not receiving due recognition of their services. Possibly the Minister may be able to show that that is not the case, but the fact remains that there was a general belief amongst the divisional returning officers that they were to be paid £20 as a bonus for their extra work. There can be no doubt that such a promise was made or implied by the Chief Electoral Officer at the time. It may be that he does not recollect having made it, but it is strong corroborative evidence that the whole of the divisional returning officers in New South Wales and Victoria are in agreement on the point. I do not wish to cast any reflection on the veracity of the Chief Electoral Officer, but the fact that some of these men were so firmly convinced that the promise to which I have referred was made, that they paid themselves out of money they had in hand, is evidence of a remarkable lapse of memory on his part. I do not think it is a tenable theory that they conspired together to say that the promise was made. Whatever may be done in the future - and it is to be hoped that some definite arrangement will be come to - I think that the Commonwealth should refund any expenses incurred in connexion with the last general election.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I omitted to refer to this matter when I spoke earlier in the evening.
– I am ready to make an explanation.
– The Minister’s explanation will be most acceptable, but I should like to say a word or two before he makes it. I was a member of the deputation which waited on the honorable member for North Sydney in Melbourne, when he was Minister of Home Affairs. He said that he had looked into this matter, and that there was no record which showed that these officers had been promised the £20 which they claimed, but that he would make further inquiry, and if he were satisfied that they were entitled to the money, it would be paid to them. Apparently he looked into the matter again, and determined that they should be paid £10 each. From that determination I infer that he was satisfied that some promise on the subject had been made to them. It appears that several of the officers deducted £20, and paid their expenses out of money belonging to the Department, which they had in hand. What sort of management was it that allowed conduct of that sort ? It is a common thing in connexion with State matters to be compelled to sign vouchers before money is paid, but if an officer, who holds public money, is allowed to appropriate part of it to pay himself, the management of his Department must be very lax. Some of the officers spent more than £10, thinking; that they would receive £20. The Minister was not at liberty to bargain with the men. He apparently said, “I will give you the benefit of the doubt to the extent of £10.” But they were entitled to £20, or to nothing at all. I cannot say thatI am quite satisfied that they were entitled to £20. I was on the deputation, not to urge the payment of £20, but because I wished for some explanation of the system under which they were allowed to deduct money to pay themselves.
– They produced written evidence of the promise. I hope that the Minister will look into the matter again, and pay the men the £20, if they are entitled to that sum, but if they are not, they should receive nothing.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I think that, in view of the statements of honorable members, the Minister might undertake to look further into this matter, and see whether he cannot pay the men the money which they were undoubtedly promised, and to which they are unquestionably entitled. On thatunderstanding, I think that the discussion might now be allowed to cease.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - A most careful inquiry was made into this matter by my predecessor, who, after holding conferences in both Melbourne and Sydney, found that the officers referred to, who axe all in receipt of reasonable salaries for the work they do for the Postal Department, are paid, in addition, £26 per annum for acting as divisional returning officers. Of course, in one year they have more to do than is to be done in another year.
– The year of the general election was an exceptionally heavy one.
– Yes; but perhaps this year they may have comparatively little to do.
– I would not do the work which they have to do this year for £200. The divisional returning officer in my electorate is working night and day.
-I cannot understand why he should be doing so. The work should not be as heavy this year as in the year of the general election. These men contracted todo the work for the sum named, but an intimation was made by a person who was not authorized to make it, that they would receive a bonus, or gratuity, of £20.
– That intimation was made by an officer of the Department.
– He had no authority to make it. The Commonwealth cannot be held responsible for unauthorized statements made in defiance of the regulations.
– Was it not made by the head officer?
– No; the head officer is the Chief Electoral Officer. Regulations were issued in which it was stated what expenses would be allowed. Further, the divisional returning officers signed a written statement as to the terms they were to receive. The secretary of the Department of Home Affairs had, in writing, stated the terms on which the work was undertaken, and he was the only person who had authority to vary them. My predecessor, on.the strength of the intimation that certain officers had incurred outofpocket expenses, felt it would be a hardship to make them bear the whole brunt, and he promised to allow them to the amount of £10. However, I shall look further into, the papers, and see if there is anything to justify a departure from the present conditions. I should not vary a decision of a former Minister without very careful inquiry. An honorable member has said that one of the officers had a written statement, and I shall certainly look into that matter. If the written statement doesnot appear amongst the papers, I should like the honorable member to give me the name ofthe officer concerned, so that I may obtain it. That, I. think, is a reasonable request in regard to a statement made in this House.
Proposed vote agreed to.
House adjournedat 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 October 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051017_reps_2_27/>.