House of Representatives
3 November 1905

2nd Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 4601

QUESTION

IMPORTATION OF OPIUM

Mr JOHNSON:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he proposes to take steps, before the close of the session, to give effect to the unanimous resolution of the House in regard to the importation of opium?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– Yes.

page 4601

QUESTION

FEDERAL CAPITAL SITE

Mr CARPENTER:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– In view of. the continued objection on the part of the Government of New South Wales to granting the territory desired by this Parliament for the site of the Federal Capital, is the Prime Minister prepared to consider a proposal for amending the Constitution in such a way as will allow the choosing of the site, and the appropriation of territory in some other State?

Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– I hope, at the rising of the House, tolay on the table a copy of the reply which I am sending to the letter laid on the table last night. That document will partly answer the honorable member’s question.

Mr BROWN:
CANOBOLAS, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has the attention of the honorable and learned gentleman been called to a newspaper paragraph to the effect that the Government of New South Wales are taking steps to cancel the reservations made round Dalgety in connexion with the choosing of the Federal Capital site? If so, has he made any representations to them on the matter?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have made representations, and, in reply to my request, the Premier of New South Wales has consented to defer, for one month, the proposal to cancel the reservations.

Mr WEBSTER:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has the Prime Minister heard the rumour which is in circulation throughout New South Wales that the action of the Premier of that State in opposing the granting of the territory chosen for the Federal Capital is designed, first, to embitter public feeling against the Commonwealth, and, secondly, to draw public attention from the scandalous revelations now being made before the Lands Commission ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– That rumour has not reached this State.

page 4601

POSTPONEMENT OF BUSINESS

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -

That Notice of Motion, No. 1, Government business, be postponed until after the consideration of the Orders of the Day.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).What are the reasons for postponing this motion ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I think that we should determine the matter in a full House, and not when there are only ten or eleven members present. I strongly urge the Prime Minister to proceed with the motion now.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Parramatta).I trust that the Prime Minister will adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta. It is very unfair for honorable members to be compelled to deal with a matter of this kind, just as they are being called upon to rush away to catch their trains to other States.

Mr Deakin:

– Iwill move the motion earlier.

Mr Conroy:

– At what time?

Mr Deakin:

– Probably at 2 o’clock.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 4602

APPROPRIATION BILL

High Court.- Federal Capital Site. - Personal Explanations.

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -

That the resolutions reported from Committee of Supply be now adopted.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I wish to call attention to a matter which was not discussed last night, because of the lateness of the hour at which the AttorneyGeneral’s Estimates were dealt with - the need for making some arrangement in connexion with the High Court, which will meet the present urgent position of affairs. The work of that Court is increasing so fast that the present number of Justices is not sufficient to properly cope with it, and if it continues to increase, we shall soon have here the notorious delays which occur in America, where an appeal is at least two years, and sometimes as much as four years, before it is dealt with. Of course, such a congestion of business will not occur immediately.

Mr Carpenter:

– Then why worry about it now?

Mr CONROY:

– Because the matter calls for immediate attention. It is far better that the Justices should be idle half their time than that suitors should not be able to get immediate justice. It is the delay involved in the settlement of cases that is largely responsible for the tremendous expense involved in law suits. Honorable members, knowing that it is unpopular to advocate the appointment of more Justices, wish to shirk this problem. I pointed out, when the Judiciary Bill was before the House, that if the High Court were given all the powers proposed to be conferred on it, not three, but ten Justices would be necessary ; but, fortunately, owing to the representations made by me and a few other honorable members conversant with judicial business, the original jurisdiction proposed to be conferred on the Court was cut down, and consequently the business of the Court is not now as great as if would otherwise have been. The Court, however, has still too much original jurisdiction. We should have confined its work entirely to appellate jurisdiction.

Mr Watson:

– Under the Constitution the High Court must have original jurisdiction in some matters.

Mr CONROY:

– Yes ; but I am speaking of the original jurisdiction which it possesses over and above that required to be given to it by the Constitution. The Court, as at present constituted, cannot satisfactorily carry on its work. I am not now entering into the question whether five Justices would make a better appellate Court than three, though when the matter was before Parliament, I held that if we were going to institute the High Court then, five would be a reasonable number of Justices to appoint.

Mr Fisher:

– Why not ten?

Mr CONROY:

– As I have said, if the original jurisdiction proposed to be conferred on the Court had not been cut down, ten Justices would hardly have been sufficient. I think that the honorable member was one of those who supported an amendment which I moved to cut down the original jurisdiction proposed. At the present time there are not enough Justices to deal with the business of the Court, and it devolves upon Parliament to determine whether the number of Justices shall be increased or the original jurisdiction of the Court reduced.

Mr Fisher:

– Does the honorable and learned gentleman wish for the appointment of more Justices to give greater weight to the decisions of the Court, or because the present Court is not large enough to do the work?

Mr CONROY:

– The press of work is now so great that the danger of delay occurring is an immediately pressing one.

Mr Frazer:

– Does the honorable and learned member think it an anomaly that a High Court of three Justices should reverse the decision of a Full Court of five Judges ?

Mr CONROY:

– Perhaps it is sometimes.

Mr Webster:

– Is it as a general rule?

Mr CONROY:

– I think that an appellate Court of five Justices would be a fair Court to constitute.

Mr Webster:

– Would the honorable and learned member support the appointment of two additional Justices?

Mr CONROY:

– Undoubtedly, as matters stand at present. If we adopted the alternative of cutting down the original jurisdiction of the Court it would be quite possible for us to get along with only three Justices; but it is not practicable to continue the Judiciary Act in its present form with such a limited Bench. I should have thought that honorable members or the Labour Party would be the first to favour an increase in the number of Justices. No greater injury could be inflicted upon the community! than to increase the already heavy expenses of litigation. This matter is ‘clearly one calling for immediate attention. If we pass legislation, we must see that it is properly administered, and we shall fail in our duty if we refrain from applying the remedy merely because it is unpopular to suggest new appointments, or to increase the expenses of the Court. By permitting the present state of affairs to continue, we shall increase the cost to the general community in a hundred ways, and deny to the poorest classes that ready justice to which they are entitled. The law’s delays fall most heavily upon, the poorer classes of the community. We know that if, owing to the lack of a magistrate in a country town, a working man is compelled to wait for three or four weeks in order to obtain a. decision upon his claim, he is put to great loss, and is practically denied justice. As we ascend the scale in connexion with litigation exactly the same difficulty arises. If people find that they cannot readily obtain judicial decisions, they suffer wrong rather than seek a legal remedy. Any mention of “a clearly necessary alteration in the High Court is brushed aside as something unpleasant, and it seems to me that the Government are shirking their dutv because they are afraid of the trouble that would be involved in explaining to the great mass of the people the necessity for strengthening the Bench. I admit that the present situation does not arise from any fault of the Prime Minister, because from the outset he has urged the appointment of five Justices. Experience has shown that it is necessary, apart altogether from the question of strengthening the Court for the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction to have a stronger Bench. The Court will have to carry some of the current year’s business over to next year, and in view of the increasing number of cases demanding its attention, serious delays are bound to ensue. Every honorable member is, I think, conscious that the attitude of honorable members generally towards the Federal Capital Site question is not worthy of the House. The majority have no wish to see the question settled.

Mr Frazer:

– I absolutely repudiate that statement. I think that all the obstruction comes from New South Wales.

Mr CONROY:

– I desire to be clearly understood. When I say that the majority of honorable members desire to block the settlement of the Capital Site question, I naturally except the representatives of New South Wales, most of whom are veryanxious to see the Capital established at the earliest possible date. I submit that the Dalgety site would never have been selected if it had not been felt by many honorable members that, its choice would have the effect of delaying a settlement. Not only is the site some distance from any existing railway line, but it has several drawbacks, apart altogether from the rigours of the climate.

Sir John Forrest:

– That has all been settled by the Parliament.

Mr CONROY:

– The Dalgety site is at least thirty miles away from any existing line of railway.

Mr Page:

– Is not that far enough ?

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member knows that it is a great deal too far away.

Mr Page:

– I voted in, favour of Dalgety, because I thought it was the best site.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member had not that acquaintance with it that many other honorable members possessed.

Mr Page:

– I knew that the honorable and learned member was acquainted with it, and he not only recommended it, but asked me to vote for it.

Mr CONROY:

– I told the honorable member that he should vote for Dalgety in preference to Tooma, because the selection of the latter site would have involved a violation of the spirit of the agreement embodied in the Constitution. I have always argued that the Federal Capital should be situated at some point upon the main railway line between Sydney and Melbourne. It appears to me to be ridiculous to select a site some distance off the trunk line of communication between the two great capitals, and to delay the mails of the whole Commonwealth for half-a-day each way.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Does the honorable and learned member want to reopen the whole subject.

Mr CONROY:

– It will have to be reopened.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– I thought that the honorable and learned member’s leader was satisfied with the settlement arrived at?

Mr CONROY:

– Some of us are prepared to see the Capital established in almost any locality in order to secure a settlement of the question. We complain, however, that, although the Government talk a great deal, they do not evince any sincere desire to bring matters to a head.

Mr Higgins:

– What does the honorable and learned member wish the Government to do?

Mr CONROY:

– I think that they should have consulted the State concerned, especially when 1,000 miles of territory was selected to form the Federal area.

Mr Page:

– Have not the other five States any right to a voice in the matter ?

Mr CONROY:

– The Constitution provides that the Capital shall be situated within the State of New South Wales, and, in the view of some persons, it also provides that the territory shall be selected by the Parliament of that State. Sir Edmund Barton was one of those who, in the initial stages, called upon the Premier of New South Wales to select a territory, and the present Parliament of New South Wales has offered not only one territory, but halfadozen, and has thus given us a very fair choice. All those who really desire to bring about a settlement of this question should be prepared to negotiate upon an amicable basis. The delay in settling this question, combined with the neglect to grant to New South Wales adequate representation, has imposed a perilous strain upon the Federal Union, and if honorable members are not careful they will soon find their business gone.

Mr Page:

– I wish it would vanish tomorrow.

Mr CONROY:

– There is no doubt that this Parliament, by its actions in the past, has brought absolute discredit on the Federation.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. The honorable and learned member will see that if it be irregular to make reflections upon individual members, it is most improper to make reflections which will tend to bring the whole House into discredit.

Mr CONROY:

– I regret that the House by its actions has brought discredit on the Federation. I am not condemning the Federal Union itself, but the incapacity of those who have been intrusted with the administration of its affairs.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member is now repeating his offence.

Mr CONROY:

– I am merely pointing out that the present Government and their predecessors have so managed our affairsthat they have brought discredit upon us, not only in regard to all our foreign relationships, but in connexion with our relations to the States.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member is not in order in discussing any matter which is not the subject of a vote upon the Estimates. He would be quite in order in discussing the Federal Capital Site question, but is not at liberty to deal with the general policy of the Government and their predecessors, and the general results, as he views them, of Federal legislation.

Mr CONROY:

– I was about to point out that large sums of money have beenextracted from the public in the form of taxation, and are being devoted to extravagant expenditure.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable and learned member had been speaking from that point of view I should not have interrupted him ; but he was out of order im indulging in a general criticism such as I indicated.

Mr CONROY:

– I desire to point out that the irritation which has been created by the policy of t Ke present and previous Governments must of necessity cause a vast increase in our expenditure, because, unless we are able to establish harmonious relations with the States, the cost of carrying on our various Departments will be largely increased. Unquestionably, the Ministry have succeeded in irritating not only everybody outside of this House, but everybody inside of it.

Mr Fisher:

– Is the honorable and learned member endeavouring to calm that irritation by his speech?

Mr CONROY:

– A great portion of my time here has been occupied in exposing, the foolish character of our Federal legislation. The Government deserve to be criticised. The majority of its members were members of a previous Administration, and consequently they are to some extent responsible for the Estimates under consideration. We know very well that every occasion upon which the State and Commonwealth, authorities fail to work harmonious! v together, increases the friction which already exists, and consequently adds to our ex- penditure. That is a truism amongst educated persons, but it is not so amongst the great majority of Ministerial supporters. They are unaware that there are such things as social science and social economy.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable and learned member please discuss the question that is before the Chair?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Do I understand, sir, that you rule that in discussing this motion, an honorable member is not at liberty to debate the relations which exist between the States and the Commonwealth ? It seems to me that under our bookkeeping system every item of supply directly and vitally concerns that question.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am not attempting to prevent the honorable and learned member from discussing any matter from that aspect. If he will confine his remarks to such questions as the honorable member for Parramatta has indicated he will be perfectly in order. But when he proceeds to discuss the question of whether or not honorable members are acquainted with social science he is going, entirely beyond the scope of the motion.

Mr CONROY:

– I ‘say that a knowledge of social science should be one of the first qualifications of honorable members.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member is again going beyond the scope of the motion.

Mr CONROY:

– Just as it is necessary for a man to study medicine-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! Either the honorable and learned member must take the proper course of disputing my ruling or he must obey it.

Mr CONROY:

– Then I understand that I am” not at liberty to discuss matters connected with economics at all. If a knowledge of the science of economics should not enter into a consideration of these Estimates I do not know what should. As a matter of fact, I know that it does not. I recognise that we are fast getting back to the system of corvee by which in times past men were compelled to work three or four weeks each year for the King or for the Government. Under our present system of government the taxation imposed upon the people is becoming so great that each year men are called upon to devote to the Government not three or four weeks, but six or seven weeks of labour.

Mr Storrer:

– Yet the honorable and learned member wishes to increase the number of Justices of the High Court.

Mr CONROY:

– I desire to do so, in order that the expenses of litigation may be diminished, which would be a very good thing. I do not blame the honorable member for failing to understand my point - I sympathize with him. When theJudiciary Bill was under consideration, I pointed out that we ought to invest the High Court with appellate jurisdiction only. Of course, I did not expect the majority of honorable members at that time to see beyond their noses. But now that a case has arisen, I do expect them to recognise, facts. I cannot discuss with the honorablemember for Bass the question of the wisdom or otherwise of investing the High Court with more than appellate jurisdiction, because it is entirely beyond him. I might just as reasonably expect him to under stand me when I say that a. knowledge of quaternions is of use in promoting a research in physics, or that the differential calculus is of assistance in, discovering the laws relating to astronomy. As far as he is concerned, he would never be able to grasp the situation.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable and learned member discuss the question which is before the Chair?

Mr CONROY:

– We are perpetually being called upon to take from the pockets of the people further sums for carrying onthat central agency, which is called the Government. The working expenses of this so-called Government are steadily increasing year by year, so that very soon we shall have to take from every man, perhaps, the equivalent of a couple of months’ forced labour each year. Whether a man is forced’ to work two months for a Government,, or for a slave-master, is quite immaterial, because to the individual the result is thesame. I say that a halt should now becalled, and that the Estimates should receive that scathing criticism which thev deserve. Day after day we are allowing matters which should be within the control of the House to pass under the domination of the Government. Year after vear our expenditure is piling up, simply because Parliament is not afforded an opportunity to exercise complete supervision over it. We frequently hear honorable members urging that it ought to be the policy of the Government to impose taxation upon large numbers of our citizens, whose only offence is that they . are too industrious, and that this should be done simply for the benefit of one or two individuals who have invested their capital in certain enterprises, and who wish to make large profits out of them.

Mr Page:

– Is not the honorable and learned member satisfied with that? The money is still in the country?

Mr CONROY:

– I quite understand the allusion of the honorable member. So far as many Ministerialists are concerned, it would not matter if we imposed ten times the amount of our present taxation-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable and learned member is again digressing.

Mr CONROY:

– If I am not entitled to say that it would be a great evil to increase the taxation levied upon the community, I am at an absolute loss to know what I am allowed to say.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am afraid that the honorable and learned member is under a misapprehension. The motion under consideration in no sense admits of a criticism of the Government, or of their policy. It simply affords scope for criticism of any matter coming within the Estimates. The honorable and learned member has said a good many things which are in order, but every now and again he desires to go beyond the limits of the motion.

Mr CONROY:

– If I attempted to show that the cost of administration is being increased for the purpose of bolstering up a particular firm of manufacturers, I submit that I should even then be in order.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It was because the honorable and learned member was travelling in that direction that I prevented him from proceeding. The honorable and learned member was about to enter upon a discussion of fiscal policy. The question immediately under consideration is not how much revenue should be raised from a particular form of taxation, but whether these Estimates are such as should be adopted by the House.

Mr Fisher:

– Why does mot the honorable and learned member abandon these shuffling tactics, and move that Mr. Speaker’s ruling be dissented from?

Mr CONROY:

– The Minister of Trade and Customs has endeavoured to collect a larger revenue from certain importations than he is entitled to do under statute.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That is not the question before the Chair.

Mr CONROY:

– I submit that it is so connected with that question that I am entitled to discuss it. The Minister of Trade and Customs has taken it upon himself to go beyond the scope of an Act of Parliament. . He has declared that certain things ought to be done. I should not complain if the persons aggrieved by his action were at liberty to appeal to the law courts. But we have placed the Minister above the law. We have opened the doorto all sorts of fraud and corruption. We have done exactly what was done in. New South Wales when the Minister of Lands was placed above the law.

Mr Storrer:

– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable and learned member in order in saying that this House has opened the door to fraud and corruption?

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is not an expression which should be used by an honorable member. I must ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa not only to avoid the use of such expressions, but to confine himself to the subject-matter of the motion.

Mr CONROY:

– I was pointing out that, by placing the Minister of Lands in New South Wales above the law the door had been opened to all sorts of fraud, jobbery, and corruption. Although the honorable member for Bass may sympathize with what has taken place there-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable and learned member is distinctly out of order upon two or three points. For instance, he is out of order in discussing the conduct of the honorable member for Bass, and also in charging him with being concerned in the matters to which he has referred. I must ask the honorable and learned member to confine his remarks to the question which is before the Chair, otherwise I shall have to take further steps - a course which I have no desire to pursue.

Mr CONROY:

– I confess that I do not recognise the force of the objections that have been offered to my criticism. It is clear that these matters might be more fully debated on some other occasion, but if the House is to safeguard its rights, it must insist upon being afforded an opportunity to fully discuss the Estimates. I am not going to ask the House to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but if we were always kept within the lines just laid down by you, sir, I think that the result would be a most serious limitation of the rights of debate.

Sir John Forrest:

– And a good thing too.

Mr CONROY:

– The Ministry doubtless would be pleased if there were no discussion on the Estimates, but their satisfaction would arise from motives which, I am sure, would not influence the public. The people desire to know exactly how we are dealing with the financial affairs of the Commonwealth, and if we wish to- exercise any control over the Estimates, it is absolutely necessary that we should have an opportunity to deal with them earlier in the session. The votes for which provision has been made have practically been expended, so that the matters to which they refer have passed beyond our control. And yet we would lead the public to believe that the Parliament is exercising some supervision over the expenditure of the Commonwealth ! I should welcome the return to power of any party which would introduce a sound system of administration. The keeping of a close check upon our expenditure is vitally associated with the progress of the country. The bulk of the workers do not recognise that unless we secure an effectual return for the money we expend they are just as much bondsmen as if they were working for slave masters. I am satisfied that the people are not securing a full return for their money, and that the present Ministry are largely responsible for the steady growth of Federal expenditure. It seems that when men complain of hard times, the only cure is to make those times still harder ! Taxation is steadily increasing, and yet when we rise to object to this increase honorable members opposite endeavour to silence us. Had the members of the Labour Party done their duty they would have insisted upon the Estimates being introduced early in the session, in order that the Parliament might exercise proper control over the expenditure. They do not appear to realize the intimate connexion between the prosperity of the people and the lightening of the load of taxation.

Mr Page:

– We shall not seek enlightenment from the honorable and learned member.

Mr CONROY:

– The trouble is that some honorable members of the Labour Party do not know where to seek enlightenment. The great bulk of them are as absolutely ignorant of these matters as they are of the origin of the Greek Kalends. The injury inflicted upon the community by the return to Parliament of a body of men who have not fitted themselves by study to deal with the questions that must come before them is so great that a monetary estimate of it cannot he formed.

Mr Page:

– That is the trouble.

Mr CONROY:

– I have never cast a shadow of blame upon the honorable member. He has recognised that the less the taxation on the mass of the people the better it is for their general prosperity, but he must admit that his position ds different from that of many of those with whom he is associated. The sooner we revert to a sound position of affairs and exercise proper control over the expenditure the sooner will there be a return of prosperity. I am not going to say that the people of Australia cannot bear reasonable taxation. We know that they can, but there is no justification for increasing taxation until it becomes absolutely burdensome. To the extent that we increase taxation, so must the prosperity of the workers be decreased. They are the people with whom we are most directly concerned. Unless they are prosperous the general community cannot hope for prosperity. An improvement in the condition of the great mass of the workers tends to bring about a more contented spirit in the community. Is it reasonable that the Estimates should be submitted to the House so late in the session; that we cannot exercise effective control over the expenditure? Year after year we hear the cry, “ We are approaching the end of the session ; most of the amounts provided on the Estimates have been expended, and why should we bother about them now? Next year we will make a better start.” Next session the Estimates are submitted at a still later period. I feel it my duty to criticise the present Government, in respect of both their acts of omission and commission. They have introduced Bill after Bill which must tend to increase the cost of administration. The Commerce Bill, the Trade Marks Bill, and the Copyright Bill, unless they are to be dead letters, must involve a considerable outlay. One measure calls forth another, and in this way the original estimates of the cost of Federation are gradually being outstripped. Take, for instance, the Sugar Bounty Act. The Estimates do not convey an adequate idea of the loss which the people have sustained from the passing of that measure. When it was under consideration nearly four years ago the honorable and (learned member- for Angas and myself pointed out the loss that it would entail upon the people of several States. So far as the people of South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania are concerned, that measure has imposed a heavy burden upon them. If their load of taxation in this regard were lightened, the result would be beneficial. We have come to this ridiculous position, that, at enormous expense to the people, we are paying farmers to Keep some of the richest farm lands in Australia under cultivation.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the Sugar Bounty is provided for by Act of Parliament, and does not appear in these Estimates. That being so, the question of whether it has increased or reduced the taxation of the States has nothing whatever to do with the matter now under consideration.

Mr CONROY:

– I am pointing out, sir, that the Sugar Bounty has had an injurious effect upon South Australia and other States. As all the States are called upon to share the. cost, I submit that I am entitled to show that the expenditure will increase year by year.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If a sum were voted in these Estimates for the sugar bounty, the honorable and learned member would be in order. But seeing that the bounty is paid under an Act of Parliament, it cannot be discussed now.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable and learned member is arguing that the expenditure of t!he Commonwealth is steadily increasing, without a corresponding increase of revenue, which, sooner or later, will lead to financial trouble. Surely in doing so he may make an incidental allusion to the sugar bounty, or to any other expenditure which necessitates the raising of taxation?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I allowed the honorable and learned member five minutes for an incidental reference, but when he proceeded to discuss the policy_ of the sugar bounty I was bound to call him to order.

Mr CONROY:

– I bow to your ruling, sir. We know that the expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing year by year, while the capacity of the States to bear it is becoming less. If the whole of the taxation raised from the. people went into the

Treasury, there would be less occasion to complain of this state of things, because we should know exactly the load which the community is bearing ; but, as a matter of fact, the public is heavily taxed without the Treasury getting the full benefit of the taxation. That the expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing no one who has studied trie history of Federation can doubt. The estimated cost of the sugar bounty is £200,000, but the real cost is to-day much nearer ,£700,000. I do not blame the Government for wilful wrong-doing, but for ignorance, which is much more harmful to the community, because wilfulness arouses opposition, while allowance is made for ignorance on the part of those who have not time to study the true condition of affairs. The members of a Government are often maleficent, though seldom malevolent. I think that the present Government show great want of knowledge of the affairs of *. country. Certainly, under their administration, the expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing by leaps and bounds, and while that is so there can be no true prosperity. Of course, the limits of taxation have not yet been reached, but it would be unwise to attempt to tax the community up to anything like exhaustion point. The best insurance fund the Government can have is the amount left to its people to spend in productive works. We depart from sound administration when we fail to recognise the fundamental principle underlying all government, and when, by our taxation, we make the people work harder than is necessary to provide effectively for the maintenance of peace and security.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa that the representatives of the people should have the fullest opportunity to discuss financial matters on every possible occasion, though I may be unable to approve of the method which he has taken on this occasion to do so. I do not intend to speak at length, because I feel that the members of the Opposition are quite capable of continuing this debate; but I wish to refer to one or two matters raised by the honorable and learned gentleman. In the first place, I differ from him respecting the suggested appointment of additional Justices to the High Court. I think that it is inadvisable that it should be publicly stated that the work of the High Court is so great that it cannot be coped with, “because, according to a return which has been laid on the table, judicial work has never been done more expeditiously than by the Court. I trust that it will be a long time before it will be necessary to appoint more Justices, and that the Court will not be increased until the States have seen fit. to reduce the number of their Judges. As a layman, I cannot see why litigants should commence in the lowest Court, and proceed through every other Court to the highest tribunal, if they can go direct to the High Court.

Mr Conroy:

– The lower Courts are cheaper, and the bulk of the cases are settled there.

Mr FISHER:

– My view is that it would be better for litigants to appeal direct to the High Court, to get a final decision as soon as possible.

Mr McCay:

– The legal profession would support that view for personal reasons, because such a course would mean more expense, owing to the delay which would take place.

Mr FISHER:

– In my opinion, greater expedition would result from following such a course. With regard to the Capital Site question - the only other question dealt with by the honorable and learned member deserving consideration at this moment - I would point out that, if very eminent lawyers are of the opinion that this Parliament has not power to select the Federal Capital Site, while other eminent lawyers are of a contrary opinion, the question can be determined only by reference to a properly constituted tribunal.

Mr Conroy:

– It should be a matter for amicable arrangement.

Mr FISHER:

– Why has there been delay in regard to the submission of the question to the High Court?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– If this Parliament is all-powerful, as some honorable members suggest, why has not the whole thing been carried through ?

Mr FISHER:

– I am prepared to go on with the necessary arrangements if it is found impossible to submit a case to the High Court.,

Mr McCay:

– Then the honorable member should give his orders to the Government.

Mr FISHER:

– The honorable and learned member knows that the Labour Party have not given orders to any Government - either to this Government, or to that of which he was a member.

Mr McCay:

– Certainly not to the Government of which I was a member.

Mr FISHER:

– No party will ever, with my consent, give orders to a Government.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Whom does the honorable member consider to be to blame for the delay which has occurred ?

Mr FISHER:

– I think that a great deal of the fault lies with the Parliament of New South. Wales.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Does that justify delay on the part of this Government, seeing that according to the honorable member, this Parliament had a right to determine the question, and has power to see that its enactments are put into force?

Mr FISHER:

– I think that we have the necessary power, but the Federal Government has always been ready to refer the question to the High Court.

Mr Lonsdale:

– There cannot be a reference to the High Court until it has been provided for by legislation.

Mr FISHER:

– The Bill to which the honorable member refers is a secondaryconsideration, and was suggested on behalf of New South Wales at the Conference between the two Governments.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is not the plain fact this - that we have made proposals to the New South Wales Government in regard to bringing down a Bill, and in regard to other matters, and that at the Conference the Attorney-General of New South Wales threw them all out?

Mr FISHER:

– It is not the case that the Bill referred to was suggested by the Commonwealth Government. In mv view, this Parliament, in passing the Seat of Government Act, exercised powers conferred upon it by the Constitution. The New South Wales Government and Parliament then took action which was certainly antagonistic to the action taken bv this Parliament. Subsequently, negotiations were held, and the representative of the New South Wales Government then suggested that a technical offence might be committed, and the question referred to the High Court. The introduction of a Bill and other procedure referred to was to carry out that suggestion.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Brit everything appears to have been done wrongly or defectively, as the Attorney-General now admits. We should not blame the State Government for that.

Mr FISHER:

– I wish to see the Federal Capital established in New South Wales, and I am ready to do anything within reasonable bounds to bring about a settlement of the question. But I am not at all satisfied with the action of the New South Wales Parliament in this matter, and I am not prepared to allow the matter to be blocked by that body. If this Parliament is not paramount, we must, of course, humbly submit to what the New South Wales Parliament, and people are prepared to propose. If that be the situation, it will be the duty of the representatives of all the other States to refer the matter to the people of Australia, and ascertain if they are agreeable to submit to the decision of New South Wales. Personally, I decline to accept any such dictation.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– What dictation?

Mr FISHER:

– I am speaking of the resolution of the State Parliament, which has practically declined to grant us the site we selected.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member must have overlooked the fact that the Premier of New South Wales has suggested that the matter should be referred to the High Court, and has set forth the Issues to be submitted for their decision.

Mr FISHER:

– I am quite aware of that, but a settlement is always blocked by some technical point.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Because the AttorneyGeneral admits that the action so far taken by this Parliament has been defective.

Mr FISHER:

– Does the honorable member assert that the Parliament of New South Wales are anxious to have the matter submitted to the High Court?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Yes, I do.

Mr FISHER:

– Then there is no reason why a satisfactory determination should not be arrived at.

Mr Conroy:

– Does not the honorable member think that it is a bad thing to refer to the High Court a matter which should be the subject of an amicable arrangement ?

Mr FISHER:

– The High Court is the only authority which can determine our powers under the Constitution, and in a difficulty such as the present we must exercise such powers as we possess. As soon as our position is defined, we shall take such action as we deem best in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. I am quite in sympathy with the desire of the representatives of New South Wales to have the question disposed’ of, and I shall assist them in every way I can. I am compelled to say, however, that they are largely to blame for the delay that has taken place.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– I think that, before we adopt the resolutions of the Committee of Supply, we should have some assurance from Ministers that the “suggestions made by honorable members during the discussion of the Estimates will receive proper consideration. Referring first to the Defence Department, I would point out that several honorable members have made important suggestions. For example, the view has been strongly expressed that one arm of our defences has been developed to some extent at the expense of that which must be regarded as by far the more important. So far we have had no assurance from the Minister that the question of strengthening our coast and harbor defences will receive the serious attention of the Government. I regard the matter as of paramount importance. I do not go so far as to advocate that we should establish a local navy, because I am quite satisfied that, for trie protection of our commerce on the seas, we shall have to rely upon the Imperial Navy. It is necessary, however, to look to the protection of our coast from invasion and hostile raids, and for that reason I urge that special attention should Le paid to the question of coast and harbor defence. It has been admitted that our vessels of war are absolutely useless, and that in, other respects our coast defences are deficient, and I trust that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to assure us that this matter will receive the fullest attention at an early date. With regard to the arming of the Fremantle forts, a suggestion was recently made in the press - I do not know whether it was officially inspired - that the Government should consider the advisability of substituting 9.2 guns for the 7.5 weapons that were originally proposed. Upon this point we have had no clear expression of the intentions of the Government, and, in view of the general understanding that 7.5 guns should be emplaced, we are entitled to an assurance that the Government will not substitute ordnance of higher calibre, which, though it would cost twice as much money, would probably prove less effective owing to the peculiar situation of Fremantle harbor..

Passing from the Defence Department, I desire to say a few words with regard to the policy of the Government in regard to the Braddon section of the Constitution.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have already gone into that matter fully.

Mr JOHNSON:

– We have had a number of evasive replies from the Treasurer, but no definite intimation.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is nothing in the Estimates about the Braddon section.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But the matter was referred to in the Treasurer’s financial statement.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That does not affect the question.

Mr JOHNSON:

– As I presume that under your ruling, sir, I shall also be precluded from referring to the States debts question, I shall pass on to some other subject. I wish to say a few words with reference to the administration of New Guinea. I have read the report of Mr. Atlee Hunt, which seems to have been prepared with great care, and to contain much valuable information with regard to the administration _ and resources of the Possession. Mr. Hunt makes certain recommendations, with some of which, however, I do not agree. I do not however, attach any blame to him. because no doubt he has formed his opinions after careful inquiry. Moreover, he has acted quite within his province, because he was asked to report upon the best means of promoting settlement, consistent with the preservation of the interests of the natives. Mr. Hunt sets out the different policies that have at various times been suggested in connexion with the administration of the Possession. The first of these is described as follows: -

Having achieved ownership, to remain content with the fact that foreign nations may not use the territory as a base from which operations against Australia might be organized and conducted.

Mr. Hunt says that this is impracticable, and he adds -

Apart from other questions, ownership involves responsibilities towards the inhabitants which cannot be evaded by any civilized nation.

I am absolutely in accord with that opinion. It is our duty, not only to prevent the Possession from being used by any foreign Power as a naval base or otherwise, but to make the best possible use of it as an adjunct to the trading resources of the Commonwealth. Another proposal was that the

Territory should be handed over to a chartered company. In this connexion, Mr. Hunt says -

While such a proposal would perhaps relieve the Government of much trouble, and possibly some cost, it is not here recommended for consideration, much less for adoption. The experience of other countries has shown that such companies are not too anxious to promote the welfare of their native subjects, which should be our paramount consideration.

He is perfectly right in making that statement. There is a danger that the handing over of large areas to private syndicates may lead to the wholesale monopolization of the natural resources of the country. We must guard against any such evil. In Australia we have had experience of what can be done in that direction, with the result that at the present time we complain of the wholesale destitution which prevails, and of the tendency of population to flock to our cities. We ought to prevent the development of similar evils in this new Territory, and in administering its affairs to guard against the abuses of the land system with which we are familiar in the Commonwealth. I notice, also, that Mr. Hunt refers to another point-

Mr Culpin:

– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in discussing Mr. Hunt’s report point by point ? I was under the impression that we did that last night.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Included in the Estimates is an item connected with the administration of New Guinea. That being so, the honorable member is entitled to discuss it, just as an item relating to the Federal Capital enables honorable members to debate that question.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Perhaps the honorable member for Brisbane is not aware that I refrained from addressing myself to this question last evening because I intended to speak upon it to-day. Mr. Hunt also refers to the development of the Territory. He says that a suggestion has been made -

To encourage the development of the country under European auspices by the employment of imported capital to be expended under European direction, employing native labour, and at the same time extend the influence of the Government until the whole Possession is brought under control.

Speaking generally, whilst that is a policy which should be encouraged, it is one which should be adopted very cautiously, otherwise we may develop a system which is very closely allied to slavery. We must guard against that. It must be generally

Possibly the freedom of the Papuan from the debasing effects of intoxicating drink largely contributes to this result.

In this connexion we should recollect that in promoting civilization in the Territory we are apt to communicate to the natives a great many of our vices and few of our virtues. I sincerely hope that the

Mr Bamford:

– But the Government of that State would do nothing.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I do not think that New South Wales has exhibited any unreasonableness in this matter.

Mr Bamford:

– For three years the Government of that State were asked to do something, without avail.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I do not think that any negotiations of a serious character were entered upon by the Commonwealth Parliament until recently. What it did was to select a site before the necessary territory had been secured. I admit that there is a great divergence of opinion as to the con- struction to be placed upon section 125 of the Constitution ; but my reading of it is that we should have first acquired the territory. To my mind, no other reasonable interpretation can be placed upon it. It provides that -

The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by The Parliament, and shall be within Territory which shall have been granted - not “ shall be granted “ - to or acquired by the Commonwealth.

It seems to me that, had it been intended that the selection of the site of the Capital should be made prior to the acquisition of the territory, the words “ which shall be hereafter granted,” instead of “which shall have been granted,” would have been used. We should have entered first of all into an arrangement with New South Wales for the acquisition of territory, by grant or otherwise. That having been done, we could then have proceeded to select the particular site within the territory which we desired. That was solely the province of the Commonwealth Parliament. Had we reported to that proceeding we should have avoided the complications that have arisen. It must be remembered that this Parliament was not unanimous as to the eligibility of the site selected.

Mr Frazer:

– The selection was determined, as all other questions are decided, by a majority vote.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Quite so; but that does not affect the point at issue. The action of the Government of New South Wales has been criticised on the assumption that Dalgety was selected by the unanimous will of this Parliament.

Mr Storrer:

– It was the will of the Parliament, as expressed by the vote of the majority.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But that vote was taken under conditions which largely nullified its value as an expression of the will of Parliament. I voted for Dalgety. not because I approved of it, but because Lyndhurst having been struck out, I and others who favoured its selection had to choose between the remaining sites, although we objected to both of them. We were thus prevented from making a selection of which the people of New South Wales as a whole would have approved.

Mr Frazer:

– Why does not the honorable member say “ the people of Sydney “ ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Because the term I used was the correct one. It was not the people of Sydney alone, but the majority of those in the country also. At the last elections there was a consensus of opinion in favour of Lyndhurst as against Tooma and Dalgety, the only other sites then under consideration. I do not say that the people of New South Wales would prefer Lyndhurst to any other selection that might be made; but having regard to the circumstances in which the ballot was taken in this House, and particularly to the fact that our choice was limited to three sites, I and a number of other honorable members had in the last resort to vote for Dalgety, although we did not approve of its selection.

Mr Bamford:

– Then the honorable member should have declined to vote.

Mr. JOHNSON. Had my parliamentary experience been greater, I probably should have taken a different course. It seemed to me, however, that, upon the rejection of Lyndhurst, I had no option but to vote for one of the two remaining sites. I accordingly selected Dalgety as being the less objectionable.

Mr Cameron:

– Has the honorable member visited the Tooma site?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I lived in the district for about four months,, and know that it is absolutely unsuitable for the purposes of the Federal Capital.

Mr Cameron:

– Dalgety is better.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am familiar with both sites, and consider that they are immeasurably inferior to Lyndhurst.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Who speaks for New South Wales - its representatives in this Parliament, or in the State Legislature ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– The members of the State Legislature have a better opportunity to gauge the wishes of the people than have members of this House, who, while the Parliament is in session, are necessarily absent for a long period from their contituencies.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– So that the honorable member proposes to delegate his rights to the State Parliament?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I do not; but I respect the rights which that Parliament undoubtedly possesses. I maintain that the Government of New South Wales, in opposing the selection of Dalgety, has not exceeded its legitimate functions, and that an attempt ought to be made by this Parliament to meet its reasonable objections to the establishment of the Capital there.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Does not the honorable member think that the other States should have a voice in the matter?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have never denied it. But, although it concerns them also, they are not equally interested1.

Mr Groom:

– The honorable member means that, while they have an equal right to be heard, they have not an identity of interest.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That is so. New South Wales, by reason of the fact that she will have to give up the necessary territory, is more directly interested in the question than any of the other States. For that reason I think the Government of New South Wales are justified in endeavouring to safeguard the interests of the State. Indeed they would have been false to their trust had they not taken action. A perusal of the correspondence satisfies me that the Premier of New South Wales has taken up a perfectly fair attitude. I know, of course, that the PostmasterGeneral has a personal interest in this matter, inasmuch as Dalgety is within his electorate. He should remember, however, that other honorable members may view the question from a different standpoint.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– The honorable member knows that the supporters of Lyndhurst were soundly beaten. That being so, why should we not unite in securing the establishment of the Capital?

Mr JOHNSON:

– It is a question, not of whether the supporters of Lyndhurst were defeated, but of doing what is best in the interests oF-the Commonwealth, and of meeting the reasonable objections of the Government of the State chiefly concerned. Our desire should be to deal with the question in a conciliatory spirit.

Mr Tudor:

– Does the honorable member believe that the Government of New South Wales really desire to settle the question ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am sure that they are acting in perfectly good faith. These suggestions of lack of bona fides on their part are unworthy of those who make them.

Mr Watkins:

– Why did they suddenly knock out the selection made by this Parliament? I did not vote for Dalgety, but I regard’ their action as an affront to the Commonwealth.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Why should they not be presumed to be acting in what they believe to be the best interests of New South Wales?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Unquestionably they are so acting. I am surprised to find so many representatives of New South. Wales ready to decry their own State and its Government.

Mr Groom:

– They are not decrying them.

Mr JOHNSON:

– What other construction could be placed on the question which the honorable member for Gwydir put this morning to the Prime Minister in reference to this question? Some of the representatives of New South Wales in this House display a want of loyalty to that State with which I am not in sympathy and which I fail to understand.

Mr Watkins:

– Why does not the honorable member say “ Sydney “ ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– It must be remembered that the Capital cannot be established within 100 miles of Sydney.

Mr Watkins:

– The honorable member cannot see beyond Sydney.

Mr JOHNSON:

– How can our decision possibly affect Sydney, having regard to the constitutional provision that the Federal Capital shall not be within 100 miles of that city ? I represent a metropolitan constituency, but no one has heard me advocate that Sydney should be made the Federal Capital. It is recognised by the New South Wales Government that Dalgety is one of the most inaccessible sites that could have been chosen ; it is not even easy of access from Victoria, the most contiguous State. It is at least thirty miles from a railway line, and the difficulties in the way of connecting it with the port its advocates desire to secure at Twofold Bay are almost insurmountable.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Absurd.

Mr JOHNSON:

– It is well known that the cost of constructing a railway line to Dalgety would be enormous.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– The connecting line would be only twenty-five miles long., and would pass through almost level country. The honorable member knows that, quite apart from the selection of Dalgety as the site of the Capital, the State Premier has already promised to construct a railway to the district.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am not aware of that.

Mr Brown:

– He was not the first to make that promise.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am not aware that the Government of New South Wales propose to extend the State railway system to Dalgety. But I was referring to railway connexion with the sea coast at Twofold Bay.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– They propose to run a line past Dalgety to Bombala.

Mr Conroy:

– But the eastern route would probably be selected.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That is so.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– At all events, the line would go within a few miles of the site.

Mr JOHNSON:

– It must be remembered that the Commonwealth Government asked Tor a strip of territory extending from Dalgety to the sea-board, and would take from New South Wales the harbor of Twofold Bay.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– What has New South Wales ever done for that harbor?

Mr JOHNSON:

– The Government of New South Wales are entitled to seriously consider the effect of the maintenance of a port by the Commonwealth in competition with the principal port of the State.

Mr Wilson:

– Is the honorable member standing up for vested interests?

Mr JOHNSON:

– No ; but the State has a right to consider its interests, and to say whether it will assist the Commonwealth to divert trade to this port.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Why should not trade go to its natural port? Does the honorable member contend that the Monaro trade should always go to Sydney ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Why does itnotgo to its natural port now?

Mr Watkins:

– Because the New South Wales Government will not allow it to do so.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That is not the reason ; it is because the port is inaccessible.

Mr Watkins:

– And the people of Sydney will see that it is always inaccessible.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Between Dalgety and Twofold Bay there is a sharp descent of some thousands of feet. Apparently some honorable members, and especially the representatives of Western Australia, voted for the Dalgety site, in the belief that they would be able to come to Twofold Bay by sea, and thence take the train to Dalgety. They could not do that now, and they would not be able to do it for many years to come.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– The New South Wales Government surveyors have reported that a railway can be constructed to connect Monaro with Twofold Bay. The honorable member has never been over the route.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have been through the Monaro country, and to Twofold Bay ; but by the circuitous route which has to be followed.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member’s own party voted for the Dalgety site.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The childlike and bland honorable member for Bland knows perfectly well the conditions under which that vote was given.

Mr Watson:

– The members of the party to which the honorable member belongs had a choice between two sites after the site which they favoured most had been rejected, and they voted against that which was the less objectionable of the two.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That statement, so far as it goes, is true, but it does not convey the whole truth. Had the representatives of New South Wales stood shoulder to shoulder in support of the site which the people of that State as a whole desired, the position to-day would be different. Had they regarded the wishes of the people of New South Wales when Lyndhurst, Tooma, and Dalgety were before the House, they would have selected Lyndhurst, and there would have been no difficulty about the granting of the territory, even though we may have put the cart before the horse in making our selection before the territory has been granted to us.

Mr Watkins:

– I voted for that site, but I shall not do so again.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That is a matter between the honorable member and his constituents. The honorable member for Fremantle suggested an alteration of the Constitution to allow of the selection of a Capital Site in a State other than New South Wales; but, seeing that New South Wales entered the Federation on the condition that the Federal Capital should be located within her territory, if an attempt is made to alter that condition, the days of the Commonwealth will be numbered, because I think that neither New South Wales nor Queensland will be desirous of remaining in the Federation. If the Constitution is re-opened for amendment in one direction, efforts will be made to amend it in other directions, and possibly there will be an attempt to destroy Federation altogether.

Mr Page:

– Would the honorable member make one to burst up the Federation?

Mr JOHNSON:

– No. While I opposed the acceptance of the draft Constitution Bill, I am prepared to give Federation a fair trial. I wish now to refer to the administration of the Customs Department, and I am sorry that the Minister of Trade and Customs is prevented by illness from being present. It seems to me that the Department is being administered in a way which does not make the outlook encouraging. The will of Parliament has been flouted, and the decision of Parliament in regard to the imposition of taxation has been set aside, by the action of officials, taken, with the sanction, if not at the direction, of the Minister. The statements which have appeared in the ‘daily “newspapers seem to indicate the likelihood of a continuance of this kind of administration, and therefore I think that, before the prorogation, we should have an assurance from the Minister, or from the Government as a whole, that this policy will not be followed in recess, and that the powers conferred on the Department for the safeguarding of the revenue will not be used to inflict hardships on traders and importers. It is, of course, the duty of the officials of the Customs Department to prevent frauds upon the revenue and evasions of the Act. but tyrannical action, hurtful to and almost paralyzing trade and commercial enterprise, must not be allowed by Parliament to be taken. As on a previous occasion I referred at length” to the action of the Department in regard to the importation of harvesters. I would not refer to it again now but for the evidence which we have, from the statements appearing in the newspapers from day to day, that an agitation is being worked up with the object of bringing pressure to bear on the Minister to use his powers to increase the taxation of the community.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The House is now dealing, not with a question of taxation, but with a question of expenditure, and the honorable’ member’s remarks will be out of order unless he can connect them with some item of expenditure.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I connect my remarks with the item of salaries to be paid to those over-zealous official heads, and if the system is continued, and these officers misuse their powers for purposes of persecution and needlessly harassing interference with legiti mate traders, I, shall take further action. If the Minister and his officers continue to take advantage of the powers conferred on them by the Customs Act to override the determinations of Parliament, in regard to Customs taxation, action must be taken by honorable members. I shall carefully watch the administration of this Department, and if I see a determination to override the authority of Parliament, I shall take action with a view- to reducing the salaries of the officials responsible for overriding the law. What I most object to in this connexion is the fact that the Department seems to be overriding the law in compliance “with pressure from outside. Instead of the Minister directing and controlling the affairs of the Department, with the co-operation of the ComptrollerGeneral, we find that a system is being inaugurated under which an outside firm is practically assuming the position of a dictator. I think I may reasonably ask whether honorable members are going to stand idly by and submit to such a state of affairs.

Mr Groom:

– There are other manufacturers of harvesters besides Messrs. McKay and Company.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But Mr. McKay has been the directing autocrat in this matter,, and has made certain representations founded merely upon the copy of a copy of a letter alleged to have been received by him, and these have been made a pretext for subjecting a reputable firm of importers to considerable loss and inconvenience. Such a state of affairs should not be tolerated. If the Customs officers take their instructions from local manufacturers, who may be in competition with certain importers, they have no proper conception of their duty, and we should bring them to their senses when dealing with their salaries. I intend to closely watch developments in the administration of the affairs of the Customs Department, and I shall raise my voice in protest upon every occasion on which action is taken similar to that to which I have referred. I had intended to refer to a number of matters relating to the Post and Telegraph Department, but I have spoken at greater length than I intended, and under the circumstances I shall take an opportunity to discuss them with the PostmasterGeneral. I trust that Ministers will I* prepared to give us an assurance that the various suggestions made in reference to defence and other matters of. policy will re- ceive attention, that the abuses brought under their notice will be remedied, and that the representations made by honorable members, with a view to insuring economy and more effective administration, will also be considered.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I deeply regret that it should be necessary at this stage to enter upon a general discussion of the Federal Capital Site question. This occasion would not have arisen but for the attitude of an honorable member of the Labour Party in raising the whole issue as to the rights of New South Wales under the Constitution. Honorable members are aware that for some time past correspondence has been going on between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government as to the relative constitutional rights of the two authorities. The New South Wales Government claim that as the Constitution requires that the Commonwealth shall select a site within territory which shall have been granted by New South Wales, the grant of territory by the State is a condition precedent to the selection of the site. The Commonwealth Government hold an opposite view. It must be recognised at the outset that there are two parties to the bargain regarding the site of the Federal Capital, Honorable members do not need to be reminded that it was only on condition that provision should be made for the establishment of the Federal Capital in New South Wales that the State entered the Federation. When the Constitution was first referred to the people, New South Wales declined to accept it, and, as the result of a conference subsequently held in Melbourne, the provision now in the Constitution was inserted. The people in New South Wales naturally thought that this provision would confer upon them an advantage which would compensate them to some extent for the sacrifices they were called upon to make, and that, in dealing with their kinsmen across the border they would receive open and fair treatment. They looked to the spirit of, rather than to the actual letter of the compact, and expected that their rights would be fully recognised. In this matter two parties have to be considered ; first the State of New South Wales, which required that provision should be made for the establishment the Capital within its territory, and, secondly, the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, who are vitally concerned in the expenditure that may be incurred in the establishment of the Capital.

If the people of New South Wales showed any disposition to claim that an enormous amount of money should be spent upon the Capital I should expect the Commonwealth Government to vigorously defend the undoubted rights of the citizens of the rest of the Commonwealth, but, as honorable members know, all that New South Wales asks is thatthe Capital shall be located in such a position that the spirit of the com pact entered into shall be fully expressed. The site advocated in this House by the majority of the representatives in New South Wales was easily accessible, and possessed the further advantages of picturesqueness, a good climate and fruitful soil. Furthermore, the fact that railway communication had already been provided would have rendered it possible to establish the capital at a minimum of cost. The sites which found favour with the representatives of other States were near the Victorian border. One of them was so close, and was so shut off from New South Wales by a mountain range that if it had been selected the residents of the Federal Capital would have been dependent for their supplies upon Victoria. Surely those who advocated the selection of such a locality must have had curious views as to what was required of them in regard to honoring a bond which was supposed to confer such advantage upon New South Wales. The Attorney-General was a strong advocate of the Tooma site. He urged that if the Federal Capital were established at any considerable distance from the border of New South Wales it would be possible for the State authorities to deny the citizens of the Commonwealth access to their territory. That strikes me as being a most fanciful idea. The honorable and learned gentleman afterwards advocated Dalgety, on the ground that provision could be made there for uninterrupted access from the sea. I am afraid that too much study of legal technicalities has rather distorted the honorable member’s mental vision, since he suggested that New South Wales might prevent access to a properly located capital. What would be easier than for any State, if it were so disposed, to hinder Commonwealth servants in the performance of their duties? For instance, if New South Wales chose she could shut her markets to the manufactures of other States, or prevent the Customs officials from collecting any duties. The view put forward on behalf of New South Wales is that in common justice she has the right to decide where the Federal Capital shall be located, provided that such decision does not involve any interference with the obvious rights of the Commonwealth in regard to expenditure or providing means of access. Regarding the course of action suggested by the honorable member for F remantle, I do not know why it is that such suggestions always emanate from the Labour Party. In New South Wales the people are beginning to be suspicious of that party.

Mr Carpenter:

– To what is the honorable member referring?

Mr KELLY:

– I am alluding to the question which was put by the honorable member this morning in reference to the Federal Capital.

Mr Carpenter:

– That was entirely a personal matter.

Mr KELLY:

– Was it of no public importance ?

Mr Carpenter:

– I can scarcely say that.

Mr KELLY:

– As the honorable member has admitted that his question was prompted by personal considerations, I shall not regard it seriously. In conclusion, I do hope that the Prime Minister will do all that he possibly can to secure a settlement of the question at issue between the State and the Commonwealth authorities as soon as possible.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– With the permission of the House, I should like to make a personal explanation. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I know, desires to leave the House, and he has been waiting all the morning to hear my statement. Otherwise I should not intrude my explanation into this debate. The matter to which I wish to refer arises out of an interjection which was made yesterday by the honorable member for Coolgardie, while I was speaking upon the motion in favour of penny postage. The honorable member for Coolgardie asked -

Will the honorable member give us his opinion of measles?

In reply, I said -

If I had time, I should like to express my opinion of an article written by the honorable member, and which was recently published in the Catholic Press.

Thereupon the honorable member asked if I was in order in charging him with having written an article, the authorship of which he denied. You, sir, called me to order. I bowed to your ruling, and accepted the assurance of the honorable member that he did not write the article in question. In order to establish my position, and to show that I had some justification for making the charge which I did, it is necessary for me to read portions of the article to which I referred, which was published in the Catholic Press on 19th October last, under the heading, “ Contributed by our Special Correspondent.” It opens thus -

A man of surprises, if not a surprising man, is Prime Minister Deakin.

It then refers to the Home Rule question, and praises the honorable and learned gentleman for the speech which he de livered upon it. Then comes the part with which I am immediately concerned, and which deals with “ the contemptible tricks of Kelly and Wilson.” It states-

Last week’s experience in the Representatives should put the Home Rulers on their guard. No dodge proved too despicable, for two Orange sympathizers (Wilson and Kelly) to resort to in order to break their fall.

It then explains what is meant by “ pairing,” and continues -

Being of opinion that a division on the Home Rule Motion would be taken last Thursday, a little scheme was set on foot to induce some of the declared Home Rulers to stand aside for undeclared members who were absent from Melbourne. The scheme collapsed through Deakin’s unexpected intervention in the debate, which provoked a declaration from Bruce Smith that he intended to reply; and as time was nearly up, a division that day became impossible.

Another heading is “ A Plot that Failed.” Under ft appears the following: -

The faces of Wilson and Kelly told eloquently of their intense disgust at the lapsing of the debate. They had been industriously plotting all day for a snatch division, descending to dirty devices to reduce the majority for the motion. Several unwary members had been, by misrepresentation of the most flagrant kind, induced to pair with “ dead “ men.

The article then explains the difference between “dead” men and “live” men, and continues -

There were only two straight-out anti-Home Rulers absent on Thursday - Reid and Cameron - the one being in Sydney, and the other in Tasmania. But there were six declared Home Rulers away, and also several members whose opinions are doubtful. The usual course in such circumstances is topair avowed opponents - that is, to allow the vote of an absentee supporter of a motion to cancel the vote of an absent opponent. But Wilson and Kelly walked right through this recognised custom -

Several Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr WILSON:

– I am glad to hear honorable members say “ Hear, hear.” It shows that some of them have a knowledge of this article.

Mr Mahon:

– The article is perfectly correct.

Mr WILSON:

– It continues-

Even had it been followed, the Home Rulers would have been placed at a disadvantage, losing four votes absolutely. Since acting on Wilson’s advice, pairs were refused for the four members referred to. . . .

Under the next heading of “ The Two Puny Tories” appears the following: -

But this, after all, was not the most audacious and unscrupulous part of the tactics resorted to by these virulent Tories. Wilson sought a pair for Reid, and was offered Kingston. The offer was perfectly fair, both members being away in their respective States. Wilson refused, and with amazing effrontery actually persuaded Deakin to stand out of the division for Reid. Of course, the arrangement was repudiated as soon as Deakin became acquainted with the facts. Wilson’s next move was to induce Spence, then present in the House, to give a pair to Conroy, absent in Sydney. This little plot also miscarried, when Spence learned that Wilson had refused pairs to several absent Home Rulers, and that Conroy, though favourable to Reid’s amendment, intended voting eventually for the motion. . . A similar little scheme was tried in reference to Willis and McLean, of whose intentions respecting Home Rule, Wilson held at the time no authentic knowledge whatever. It subsequently transpired that McLean does not intend to vote at all, and that Willis will probably follow suit. Wilson’s impudence reached its zenith, however, when he sought to get a “ live “ pair for McColl, absent in America, whose opinion respecting the motion nobody had been authorized to interpret. It speaks well for the virility of the Home Rule motion when opponents find it necessary to resort to such dishonest manipulations of votes in order to compass its defeat. The sore part of the affair to “Little” Kelly and “Anaemic” Wilson -

Mr Maloney:

– The honorable member is not anaemic

Mr WILSON:

– I am glad of the assurance of the honorable member for Melbourne. The article continues - is that their efforts were utterly wasted, and that all their wire-pulling became entirely ineffective. Their yells of “ divide,” as the critical moment approached, expressed baffled rage and rancour, and the House laughed uproariously at the two puny and discomfited Tories.

After dealing with another matter concerning the honorable member for Dalley, which is of no importance; the journal in question says -

Touching the little conspiracy of Wilson and Company, it is worthy of note and of future precautions, too, that they had very accurate information respecting the movements of certain soi- disant Home Rulers. When you find the enemy knows as much, if not more, than your so-called friends’ intentions than you do, the position calls for careful review. For instance, Kelly said : “ I warn all who may be ready to take advantage of the facilities offered by our ill-used bathrooms to hide themselves when the division bells begin to ring - because they have not the courage to record their votes on this question - that by so doing they will not give satisfaction to either party in this country to whom this motion is of peculiar interest. He had hardly finished when one “ friend “ of Home Rule, a division seeming imminent, fled to the bathroom. Two others suddenly cleared out for Sydney without arranging for effective pairs; while another division dodger was hiding in a Victorian up-country town, and could not be drawn even by urgent telegram.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Does the honorable member think that the portion of the article which he is now reading has any reference to himself?

Mr WILSON:

– Yes. The concluding sentence has particular reference to myself. It reads -

Irish sympathizers will at any rate keenly scrutinize the division list on this motion - not to “ mark “ honest open antagonists, but rather to catalogue the cowards who professing friendship for the Irish cause, skulk into hiding when a great opportunity is presented for asserting its triumph.

The attack made upon me in this article can only be described as a case of shooting from behind a hedge. Some person, under the title of “ special correspondent,” has used the anonymity of the press to describe matters which took place in this Chamber.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Who is the “ special correspondent” of the Catholic Press?

Mr Watson:

– Lonsdale, I suppose.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I have never written for the press save under my own name. I have the courage of my convictions.

Mr WILSON:

– From the information which that article contained, I say that it must have been either written or inspired by a member of this House. The only persons who could have written or inspired it were the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and the honorable member for Coolgardie. It contains the gist of conversations which took place between myself and those honorable members when we were arranging for pairs. With the exception of the honorable member for Wentworth, who was cognisant of what was going on, nobody, save the two honorable members to whom I have referred, could have supplied the information which is contained in the article which I have quoted. I repeat that they must either have written or inspired it.

Mr Higgins:

– It is too good for me.

Mr WILSON:

– As the honorable member for Northern Melbourne has said, it is too good for him. I feel that it is. He was recently magnanimous enough to make a certain donation for the purpose of founding scholarships in Victoria for the writing of poetry. I do not call this article “ poetry.” Certainly it is not the class of poetry with which I should expect the honorable and learned member to sympathize. Therefore, the only conclusion which I can draw is that there is some connexion - some sort of an underground sewer leading from this House to certain centres in Sydney, through which information in reference to honorable members is conveyed. I look upon this article, not merely as an insult to myself, and the honorable member for Wentworth, but as an insult to the whole House, and I feel that I am perfectly justified in calling attention to these low-down dirty methods of the gutter press.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).As a matter of personal explanation, let me say that I am sure that honorable members upon all sides of the House must regret that the honorable member for Corangamite has seen fit to advertise the Catholic Press so elaborately as he hasdone.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I think it is quite right that he should bring that journal into prominence.

Mr HIGGINS:

– So far as I am concerned, I know nothing whatever about the article in question. I did not know that it was to he written, and the honorable member himself. I think, knew that. I have remained in the Chamber until now, in order that I might hear the honorable member’s statement. But I will say that whoever supplied the information seems to have supplied it accurately.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- My name has been mentioned in the article quoted by the honorable member for Corangamite, otherwise I should not have troubled the House in regard to it. I think that the extravagant misrepresentation it contains makes it unworthy of serious consideration. I shall only say that, after carefully examining it, I formed the opinion that its authorship rested with the honorable member for Coolgardie.

Mr Mahon:

– I thank the honorable member.

Mr KELLY:

– If the honorable member denies its authorship-

Mr Mahon:

– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable member for Wentworth, in making a personal explanation, is in order in making an attack upon another honorable member ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– He would certainly not be in order in doing so; but, so far as I understood the honorable member - and I was paying careful attention to his remarks - all that he said was that when he read the article he was under the impression that it had been written by the honorable member for Coolgardie. What he was about to say, when he was interrupted by the honorable member, I do not know. Had he attributed to the honorable member for Coolgardie an action which he had disclaimed, he would have been out of order, but, as I understood him, the honorable member was simply expressing the impression that he had formed in his own mind.

Mr KELLY:

– I was about to say, when interrupted, that, having heard that the honorable member denied the authorship of this article, I feel that I am no longer concerned with the question of who wrote it, or why it was written ; but having been accused of despicable tricks, as well as physical imperfections, I wish to state that the pairing, with respect to the motion, and on the afternoon in question, showed three “live” men and three “dead” men on each side. I therefore fail entirely to see how there could have been any trickery on any one side in arranging the pairs.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

– It is seldom that I trouble the House with a personal explanation, but I feel that the remarks made by the honorable member for Corangamite - and I believe that the usages of Parliament compel me to refer to him as the “honorable” member - in reference to myself, call for a reply. I have already denied the authorship of the article, and as the honorable member has chosen on a. previous occasion to doubt my word, I shall not repeat that denial. If it will please him, however, I will say at once that I accept the responsibility for every statement which appears in the article in reference to himself ; and that I am prepared to accept that responsibility here, or in any other place that he may choose. The honorable member, during the course of the last twenty-four hours, has sent me several impertinent messages, and I wish to inform him that I am not a dog to be whistled to heel by any cad that calls-

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the last words of his statement.

Mr Mahon:

– In deference to your ruling, sir, I withdraw them.

Mr. WILSON (Corangamite). - I wish to make a personal explanation with reference to the statement that I have sent impertinent messages to the honorable member for Coolgardie.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is at liberty to do so. but a personal explanation mav not be discussed.

Mr WILSON:

– Having decided to bring this question, which relates to manymatters that are by no means pleasant, before the House, I felt,it desirable, in accordance with a well-established custom, to acquaint the honorable members concerned of my intention, in order that they might be present. I therefore asked the honorable member for Yarra - not impertinently, I think - if he would inform the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and the honorable member for Coolgardie, that I should be glad if they would arrange to be present when the House met this morning. I appeal to the honorable member for Yarra to support my statement. The honorable member acquiesces by nodding his head. As the honorable member for Coolgardie was not present when the House met this morning, I sent him a further message, inquiring whether he would be present in the Chamber immediately after the luncheon adjournment. I think that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will admit that the message was not an impertinent one.

Mr Frazer:

– That is correct.

Mr WILSON:

– I desired the attendance of the honorable member in order that he might hear everything that I had to say. My wish was that everything, should be done openly.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member extended the usual courtesy to those concerned.

Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- By way of further personal explanation, I “wish to say that I used the word “impertinent,” because I considered that if the honorable member had wished to apprise me of his intention to bring this matter before the House he should have done so either personally or by letter. He had ample opportunity to do so.

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -

That the debate be adjourned until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 1, Government business.

page 4621

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– I move -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next, at half-past a o’clock p.m., . or such time thereafter as Mr. Speaker may take the chair.

My object in submitting this motion is to provide against the contingency, which I do not anticipate, that at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday next there may not be a quorum present, although a quorum may be in attendance later ?n the afternoon.’ The proposal is therefore simply made by way of precaution. As honorable members are aware, Tuesday next will be a public holiday in this city, and some honorable members have expressed a desire that it should be recognised by the adjournment of the House. That is a proposal which, for two reasons, does not commend itself to me - first, because I hesitate to believe that this or any similar occasion would justify the adjournment of the Commonwealth Parliament; and second, because, at this stage of the” session”, with the large volume of work before us, the casting away of even an afternoon is not to be lightly undertaken. It mav be anticipated that complaint will soon be made that’ there is not sufficient time for the discussion of questions submitted to the House. In the event of our agreeing to an adjournment over Tuesday, we should be reproached, and properly reproached, with having gone out df our way to deprive honorable members of a legitimate opportunity for work. On the other hand, it would be idle to affect to ignore that a number of honorable members may, for one reason or another, desire to be elsewhere on Tuesday afternoon. That being so, it appears to me perfectly legitimate to examine the business-paper, to ascertain whether, with the quorum which I have no doubt we shall obtain, we shall not be able to proceed with the consideration of non-contentious but necessary business, without requiring the attendance of all who would desire to be present if any questions were pushed to a division. Bv a readjustment of the business of the Parliament we can meet the. convenience of honorable members so far as we are entitled so to do, and at the same time make some real advance with the work of the session.

Mr Fuller:

– If the House is to meet, why should any distinction be made?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Out of consideration to those honorable members who wish to be at Flemington or elsewhere. Tuesday will be a public holiday, and the chief event of the afternoon will be the great race meeting ; but there are gatherings of other kinds at which some of my honorable friends may desire to be present. It has been the custom for Ministers to endeavour to study the wishes of honorable members, as long as the public business does not suffer.

Mr McCay:

– Have we not always adjourned over Cup Day?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No; but on one occasion we did not meet until 7.30 p.m.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Has this House ever sat throughout Cup Day?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No; but an excellent precedent can now be established. What I shall ask the House to do on Tuesday next is to listen to an exposition of the provisions of the Electoral Bill, on the motion for the second reading. This measure which has been sent down from the Senate, is based on the report of a Select Committee. It has been amended in some particulars by the Senate, and will require to be carefully explained before its consideration can be proceeded with. Honorable members will probably desire to see the explanation in print before being called on to deal with the Bill. The Copyright Bill, which is next on the business-paper, is in the same position. As honorable members are aware, it is an extremely technical measure, dealing with a branch of the law which is in itself complex, and with Imperial law, as well as with existing State copyrights, that also call for full explanation.

Mr Kelly:

– Will the debate on, these measures be adjourned as soon as the second reading has been moved ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– - It will, unless any honorable member is prepared to continue the discussion. No attempt will be made to take those second readings during the afternoon. Then we have the Amendments Incorporation Bill, which is in no sense a party measure. It is designed to enable amendments made by the Parliament to be incorporated in the principal Acts, in order that the difficulty sometimes experienced in ascertaining in what respect an Act has been altered may be avoided. In addition to these, we have the Representation Bill, which has been returned with amendments by the Senate, the exposition of which will not occupy much time. Even if the whole afternoon be occupied by Ministers in moving the second reading of these measures, our time will be profitably employed, because we shall be dealing with business that would otherwisehave to be taken at other sittings. I feel that no apology is necessary for asking honorable members to meet at 2.30 p.m. as usual, but do feel a good deal of diffidence in making this proposal, because of the duties that it will entail upon the Hansard staff and the officers of the House generally,, at a time when they would otherwise be free. I would venture to bespeak from you, Mr. Speaker, such a re-adjustment of their duties as will enable as many as possible who desire to take advantage of the holiday to be absent, and to make arrangements for those who remain to have aitequal amount of leisure at some other time during the sittings of “the House. If this be done, we shall be imposing practically no’ burden upon those to whom we are so much indebted in connexion with the transaction of our business.

Mr Conroy:

– Surely the latter suggestion is unworthy of the Prime Minister. Should not the officers be granted a holiday?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I ask that they be granted a holiday, but not necessarily on Tuesday next. I submit this motion, asI have said, more by way of precaution, and do not think it will be necessary toavail ourselves of it. I feel sure that there will be an honorable understanding that if,, at any time during the afternoon, the attendance falls below the quorum, the fact will pass unnoticed, inasmuch as no stepwill be taken to prevent an honorable member from recording his vote, or speaking upon these measures. As honorable members will see, the business I have outlined’ will not be specially created for the occasion. We shall have to deal with it in any event. It is business that we must do, and that shortly, and it can be taken next Tuesday without inconvenience to honorable members.

Mr. JOSEPH. COOK (Parramatta).T propose to move to leave out the words “or such time thereafter as Mr. Speaker may take the chair.”

Mr SPEAKER:

– If those words are deleted, the motion will be unnecessary, because half-past 2 is the hour of meeting fixed by the sessional order.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– This is more or less a personal matter, which does not affect the members of parties as such, and,, speaking for myself, I agree with the

Prime Minister that Ave should meet on Tuesday next. Last year the House adjourned over Cup Day, and during the first session it did not meet on that day until after the dinner hour, so that the honorable and learned gentleman, is proposing the establishment of a precedent for which he is entitled to some credit, especially as he says that he has been subjected to very strong pressure from many quarters.

Mr Deakin:

– No officer has spoken to me on the subject.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– But, I have no doubt that there has been pressure from other quarters. I do not quarrel with the proposal to meet on Tuesday, but I object to the manner in which the honorable and learned gentleman proposes to -gain his end. If we are to meet on Tuesday, let us do so as usual, without any qualification, and let the Government take full responsibility for1 what is done. The Prime Minister says that he does not think that the National Parliament should adjourn for a race meeting. That statement is published in both the Melbourne newspapers this morning. But he proposes to bend the National Parliament to the ends of the race meeting - to make it wait until- the Cup has been run. That is what the motion means. “What is proposed is that if there is not a quorum! present at half-past 2 p.m., the Speaker shall wait until there is a quorum, and then take the chair. If that is not making the National Parliament wait on a race meeting, I should like to know what proposal could be interpreted in that way?

Mr Crouch:

– It is making the National Parliament wait for the attendance of its members.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Who may be at the race meeting.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Not necessarily. Trains may be delayed on that day.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Trains may be delayed on other days.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

-This arrangement would not be proposed but for the race meeting. I do not say that every honorable member will be at the races. It is a general holiday.

Mr Cameron:

– Why should not honorable members go?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I am making no objection to honorable members going, but I take exception to the action of the Prime Minister, who, although he says that he is opposed to an adjournment on account of the races, proposes that the House shall wait, if need be, until the Cup has been run. If we are not going to take notice of the race meeting, we should adjourn until the usual hour, but if we are going to take notice of it, we should adjourn over Tuesday.

Mr Maloney:

– Is the honorable member willing to agree to that?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– No. I think that we should sit on Tuesday. But the Prime Minister should take full responsibility for whatever course is proposed, and if he thinks that the House should meet on Tuesday, should see that a quorum is present at the usual hour.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– That is more than he can do.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– That appears to me the whole trouble. He has asked us not to take advantage of the absence of honorable members should there not be a quorum present. That, surely, is making our arrangements to suit the race meeting. In my opinion, the Prime Minister, if he asks the House to meet on Tuesday should take the responsibility of obtaining a quorum at the usual hour, and should arrange the business in the ordinary way, making no exception because of the race meeting. I do not think that he is consistent in declaring that he will not take notice of the race meeting by adjourning over Tuesday, and then proposing to recognise it in the fixing of the hour of meeting and the disposition of business for that clay. As a matter of fact, he has arranged a special race programme for Tuesday next. He is going to take T do not know how many matters of a non-contentious character early in the afternoon.

Mr McCay:

– He has picked sure winners.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– He has agreed to meet in every way the convenience of honorable members who wish to attend the race meeting. When he declined to recognise the race meeting a healthy puritanical moral blast pervaded the Chamber, but subsequently he proposed to bend this Parliament and its business to suit the convenience of members attending the races. I desire that the House shall take no cognizance of the races, either in regard to the hour of its meeting or in regard to the arrangement of its business, and I hope that honorable members will agree to meet at half-past 2 to proceed with business in the usual way.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I am not satisfied with the proposal of the Prime Minister. We cannot lose sight of the fact that Tuesday next is a public holiday, and if we meet then we shall deprive the officials of the House and a large number of those employed in the Government Printing Office of a holiday, and of the opportunity to meet their friends at various gatherings. Of course, every one in Melbourne does not go to the races on Cup Day. Last year, according to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, between 5,000 and 6,000 persons were down the Bay at a Sunday-school picnic. Unquestionably a number of honorable members wish to see the Cup run for, and will be there no matter what arrangements be come to in regard to the hour of meeting. Although I shall not be present myself, I would be the last to try to prevent others from going ; but I wish to point out that each week-end many honorable members go to their homes in Sydney or Adelaide, and if the House meets, according to the arrangement of the Prime Minister, on Tuesday, we shall have to travel back oyer distances of more than 500 miles, at a time when the railway trains will be crowded and the service disorganized, to sit here perhaps for only a couple of hours. The Prime Minister recognises by his proposal that a large number of his supporters desire to go to the Cup, or to take advantage of the holiday. There should be no hypocrisy about this matter. If race-going is wicked, we should not countenance it in any way ; but as none of us holds that opinion, why should we embarrass those w’ho wish to go, and prevent our officials from going. by pretending to work, although we know that practically nothing will, be done ?

Mr Tudor:

– Cup Day is not a public holiday now all over Victoria. The Stateschool children must attend their lessons on Tuesday next as on other days.

Mr CONROY:

– I have never bought a ticket in Tattersall’s sweep, nor do I bet, because it is mathematically certain that the odds are always against the backer of horses. But that is no reason why I should interfere with another who is wasting his money in that way. It is because other people’s money is so frequently taken for the purpose that I object to the opportunities afforded for gambling. There is no doubt that the large assemblages upon our racecourses tend to keep the sport in a healthy state. The criticisms directed to the methods adopted by owners and riders must have a tendency to check improper practices, and on the whole the influence exerted is a good one. I think that we should do well to adjourn until Wednesday next, and avoid bringing honorable members from other States to do half a day’swork. I think that we sit a great deal too often as it is. We have only to look round the Chamber and notice the small number of honorable members present, in order to find a basis for this conclusion. The Prime Minister so far recognises the position inregard to next Tuesday’s sitting that he has expressed the hope that no honorable member will, on that occasion, call attention to the state of the House. It seems to me that he is unreasonable in expecting that honorable members who have been called from their homes under such conditions as he proposes will be in such air amiable frame of mind that they will comply with his wishes. If I thought that the Prime Minister would not regard an amendment to adjourn until Wednesday next at half-past 2 as equivalent to a want of confidence motion, I should move in that direction. I would urge Him totreat the whole matter as a non-party question, relating merely to the advisability, or otherwise, of asking honorable members to> assemble to perform half a day’s work. The motion now before us, if it means anything, is intended to result in our adjourning over Cup Day, and meeting in the evening, and I urge that even if we came here under such circumstances many of us would be too tired, after having attended some holiday celebration, to devote our attention to useful legislative work. I think that the Prime Minister might very well yield to the wishes expressed by a large number of honorable members, because he must see that no good purpose could be served by our meeting on Tuesday. 1 would direct attention to another point i:t connexion with honorable members who come from other States, and who have te* put up at hotels. At present the accommodation afforded is strained to the utmost, and in some cases double rates are being charged. Therefore, under the most favorable, conditions, visitors will have to put up with serious inconvenience. I cannot say too much in condemnation of this attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the public - to pretend that honorable members will meet on Tuesday to transact the busimess of the country. As a matter of fact, the chances are that nothing practical will be done. A Chadbandistic attempt is being made to blind the public, but I warn the Prime Minister that there will be no cant or humbug on the part of honorable members on this side of the House. I would point out, further, that not a single Government office will be open upon Cup Day. All the State Departments with which we are connected will be closed, and we shall not be in a position to obtain from them such information as we may require. And yet it is pretended that we can assemble here, and carry on the public business as usual. The position only needs to be stated to show its absurdity, and how hypocritical is the attitude of the Government. I warn the Prime Minister that if his motion be carried I shall be here next Tuesday, and that I shall want to know where every Minister is, and where every honorable member is, and I shall have something to say with regard to those who are absent. All honorable members who support the Government proposal will, if they are not in their places on Tuesday have to be brought to account. We have been told by the Prime Minister that the programme of business to be submitted will be of a non-contentious character; in other words, that we may stay away if we like. One of the most extraordinary features about this House is that many honorable members appear to consider that by coming here and getting their names placed on the attendance roll they are discharging their full duty as Members of Parliament. If the Prime Minister read the Scriptures, he would know what happens to hypocrites, and of the place that is reserved for them.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr CONROY:

– If the Prime Minister has anytendency towards hypocrisy and towards misleading the people with regard to the probable result of our meeting here on Tuesday, the fate of the hypocrite will overtake him. I hope that honorable members will vigorously protest against this attempt to deceive the public.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– The only objection I have to the motion is that I do not know whether it will be worth my while to come here on Tuesday afternoon. A similar motion was carried a few weeks ago, and from the information that was then conveyed to me, I understood that the

House would not meet until an hour or two after the usual time. Upon that assumption, I performed some work of my own, and on coming to the House later discovered that it had been sitting for two or three hours. Honorable members who come early on Tuesday will have to wait for some time until others turn up. If it be desired that we should sit on Tuesday, we should meet at the usual hour. But it is not fair to ask honorable members to attend upon the chance of a quorum being present, or to compel them to wait till a quorum puts in an appearance. In addition, if the motion be carried in its present form, special arrangements will have to be made in the Government Printing Office.

Sir John Forrest:

– We do such hard work when we are here.

Mr McCAY:

– The Treasurer does not do very much hard work. I do not suppose that I should be in order if I asked him whether he will be in attendance here at half-past 2 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, or whether, if we wished to discuss business with him, we should not have a better chance of finding him elsewhere.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– So far as the Treasurer is concerned, the Commonwealth finances can “go hang “ on Tuesday.

Mr McCAY:

– I think that in one guess I could name the place where we should find him upon that day. If the Prime Minister will say definitely that he intends the House to meet at the ordinary hour on Tuesday, no doubt there will be a quorum present. I am certain that there will not be more than two-thirds of the House absent at the gathering to which reference has been made. I understand that it is a race meeting of some kind. Of course, some honorable members may attend here to assist in forming a quorum, and then feel that they have discharged their duty for the afternoon. But I object to being called upon to wait about the House until a quorum of members is in attendance. The Government should either say that they intend to meet on Tuesday at the ordinary hour, or that they propose to meet at a later hour. The present proposal is neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. I do not consider that the arrangement which it contemplates is fair to Mr. Speaker, although I do not know whether he wishes to be elsewhere on that day. : But, in any case, it is not fair that either he or honorable members generally should be asked to wait - possibly to no purpose - about the parliamentary buildings until a quorum arrives. I object to the uncertainty to which the motion will give rise, lt has been said that suspense is the worst of all conditions, and therefore I say we ought to know the best or the worst at once.-

Mr MALONEY:
Melbourne

– I am sorry that the Prime Minister has not stated definitely the hour at which he proposes the House shall meet upon Tuesday next. The State Legislature has adjourned over that day, and the Senate has done likewise.

Mr Deakin:

– After it has practically cleared its business-paper.

Mr MALONEY:

– The members ‘of the other branch of the Legislature will be free, and it seems to me a pity to bring back all the officials of Parliament upon that day. I certainly think that the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa were somewhat unjust in their remarks. If they wish to suppress racing let them do so openly, but by submitting a straight-out motion upon the matter they would be passing censure upon the LieutenantGovernor of Victoria, and upon almost every high official in the State. Personally, if I wished to see the Melbourne Cup run I should do so. The day upon which that event is decided is a public holiday - a day upon which there will be hundreds of picnics. It is a day which is set apart for meeting old friends, and which is usually spent out of town. I should like the Prime Minister to follow the usual custom, and to consent to an adjournment of the House over Tuesday. But after the speech of the deputy leader of the Opposition I suppose that it is hopeless to ask for any concession. If the honorable member for Parramatta were less! bitter on every occasion, I feel certain that he would earn the good feeling of the House more than he does.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I am not conscious of having been bitter.

Mr MALONEY:

– I make that statement in the best of good temper. If the right honorable member for East Sydney had been present, I think he would have suggested an adjournment over Tuesday in a more courteous way.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I made it quite clear that I spoke foi myself only.

Mr MALONEY:

– I am not referringto what the honorable member says, but to the way in which he says it. I can quite understand the feelings of honorable members who represent distant States. I am sure that a journey of 500 miles at the beginning and end of each week must have a bad effect upon the nerves. If honorable members wish parliamentary businessto proceed next week, let us sit later than, usual upon Wednesday and Thursday. I do trust that upon this occasion the Prime Minister, with his well-known courtesy, will see his way clear to propose an adjournment until Wednesday. By so doing, I think he would meet the desire of a majority of the House - at all events, he would comply with the wishes of a majority of the Victorian representatives.

Mr MCDONALD:
Kennedy

– I hope that the Government will insist upon the House meeting on Tuesday at the ordinary hour.

Mr Kelly:

– Will the honorable member be present?

Mr MCDONALD:

– Most certainly, I shall.

Mr Kelly:

– For the special purpose of counting out the House.

Mr MCDONALD:

– If I were in the position of the honorable member probably I would. I hope, for more reasons than one, that the Government will proceed with business on Tuesday. We have done practically little business this session, and it is about time that the House settled down to work. There has been a good deal of unnecessary talk. If the Government do not intend to meet at the ordinary hour on Tuesday, I think that the House should adjourn until Wednesday. But in view of the lateness of the session- I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend to sit on Friday evenings, instead of adjourning shortly after 4 o’clock upon that day? I think that it is absolutely es’sential to do so if we are to close the session at an early date. I protest against the form of this motion. If the proposal of the Prime Minister be carried, every official of the House, besides the employes in the Government Printing Office, will be called upon to attend here at half -past 2 o’clock awaiting the pleasure of honorable members. That is scarcely fair. We should fix some definite time at which these officers should be at their posts.

Mr FULLER:
Illawarra

– The honorable member for Melbourne has expressed regret that the deputy leader of the Opposition should have imparted some bitterness to this discussion. The honorable member for Parramatta immediately explained that he was not conscious of having exhibited any bitterness. Similarly, I entertain no bitter feeling upon this question. I only regret that upon a paltry proposal relating to the time of meeting of this .House, the Prime Minister has not sufficient backbone to stake his own opinion. He is absolutely afraid to do what he believes to be right, lest he may offend the susceptibilities of some honorable members in the Labour corner.

Mr Deakin:

– That is a very unfair remark, seeing that it was consideration for men like the honorable member which prompted me to submit this motion.

Mr FULLER:

– I should like to know when I was consulted in the matter?

Mr Deakin:

– I am consulting the honorable member’s convenience.

Mr FULLER:

– How is the Prime Minister consulting, my convenience? If it suits me to attend the Melbourne Cup meeting, I shall do so; if it does not, I shall stay away. If the Prime Minister had the slightest sense of the dignity and responsibility of his position, he would refuse to be dictated to by honorable members in the Labour corner. He would decline to leave it to Mr. Speaker to take the chair whenever a quorum put in an appearance. He would say either that the House shall meet at half-past 2 o’clock on Tuesday, or that it shall not meet until the following day. It is perfectly ridiculous for the honorable and learned gentleman to talk about consulting my convenience. Any one would imagine that I was a “regular race-goer.” I regret that the Prime Minister has not seen fit to submit a motion definitely fixing the hour at which the House shall meet on Tuesday. It has been properly pointed out that the proposal is one that affects not only the officers of the House, but pressmen and others whose duties require their attendance here while the Parliament is sitting. The amendment indicated by the deputy leader of the Opposition meets with my entire approval. I certainly think that the House should meet at 2.30 p.m.

Mr Frazer:

– Will the honorable and learned member be here ?

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– That is a matter which concerns only myself. I am prepared to take the full responsibility of my actions, and would advise members opposite, who are now dictating to the Prime Minister, to do the same.

Mr Deakin:

– Not one of them has spoken to me on the subject.

Mr FULLER:

– The Government proposal is one that will allow those who wish to go to the Cup meeting to come here when it suits them. It is a proposal, Mr. Speaker, that you should be here throughout the afternoon, and that after the race for the Cup is over you shall make inquiries, and, on learning that there is a quorum in attendance, call the House together. It is a piece of political hypocrisy. It is an attempt to curry favour with a section of the citizens, and also with a certain section in this House. The Prime Minister should rise to the dignity of his position and say that this House shall meet either on Tuesday or Wednesday next at a definite hour. Although I favour the meeting of the House on Tuesday, I would point out that the Senate has decided to adjourn until Wednesday next, it having initiated Tuesday sittings only this week. The Prime Minister has stated that this decision is due to the fact that the Senate business-paper has been cleared. It appears to me, however, that that explanation is a poor one, inasmuch as another place has yet to deal with the Estimates. We have now been discussing this matter for nearly an hour and a half. The time that we have lost-

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– We have not lost more time than was deliberately wasted this morning.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Is the honorable member for Bourke in order, Mr. Speaker, in declaring that honorable members have deliberately wasted the time of the House?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– He is paid to make interjections.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member for Parramatta, as usual, is insulting.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member for Bourke to withdraw his remark, and also call upon the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw the assertion that the honorable member for Bourke is paid to make interjections.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I shall withdraw the remark, and say that time was not deliberately wasted this morning.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken. I was referring to the honorable member’s position as Government whip.

Mr FULLER:

– The remark made by the honorable member for Bourke can have no personal application, so far as I am concerned, because, although I was in the Chamber throughout the morning, I took no part in the debate. Such an accusation comes with ill grace from the Government whip, considering that he has been canvassing honorable members on all sides of the House in regard to the Government proposal. He did not ask me whether I was in favour of the House meeting on Tuesday, but he certainly interrogated the honorable member for Macquarie and the honorable member for New England with reference to the matter. It is singular that it should be necessary for the Government whip to canvass honorable members with regard to such a paltry matter as the adjournment of the House for an hour or two. The Government proposal is one that is degrading to the Parliament. The House ought to meet at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, and the Government should be prepared to take the responsibility of calling on honorable members to meet at that hour.

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– I am in favour of the House meeting at the usual hour on Tuesday next, and object to the proposal that it shall be left to you, Mr. Speaker, to determine the time at which the sitting shall commence. I told the honorable member for Bourke that I took the view that we should either meet at the usual hour on Tuesday, or else adjourn until Wednesday.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member should inform the House of the other statement that he made to me.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I said, in a jocular way, that I should have to make a strong protest against such an adjournment. If we are not to meet at the usual hour on Tuesday let us adjourn over the day. There should not be recourse to tactics of this kind. I do not attend race meetings, but if we decide to adjourn until Wednesday I shall be able to spend Tuesday in my own home. The proposal made by the Government does not redound to their credit. It means that even if the House does not meet at the usual hour the officers will have tobe in attendance. If a large number of honorable members desire to see the Cup race I do not wish to prevent their doing so ; but I hold that the proposition made by theGovernment is a piece of political cant and hypocrisy. ‘ I shall vote for the House meeting at the usual, hour, .but if others desire an adjournment until Wednesday, by all means let us have it.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– Reference hasbeen made to the action of the Government whip in canvassing the Opposition in regard to this proposal. To my mind, however, no exception can be taken to his conduct, because honorable members of theOpposition have not been slow to canvasssome of the Government supporters. I promised to vote for an adjournment over Tuesday, because of its being a publicholiday, and also because I thought that we should have some consideration for the officers of the House. We are dealing soslowly with the business set down for consideration that we might well consider theadvisableness of increasing the number of the days of meeting. I mentioned thismatter nearly a month ago. Some honorable members are constantly speaking of the inconvenience suffered by those whohave to travel many miles by rail every Tuesday in order to attend here, but they have little regard for those who cannot return to their homes at the week-end, and1 have to remain in Melbourne month after month while Parliament is in session.. I have come to the conclusion that weshould meet not only at the usual hour on Tuesday, but on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, or else extend the Friday sittings. If we do not take action in thisdirection Christmas will be upon us before we have dealt with half the businessstill awaiting our consideration. -

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has developed a penchant d’uring the present session for administering lectures to the House as to the speed with which we should’ conduct the business of the country. I take the opportunity to say that the honorablemember has not materially assisted the business of the House by the series of ill-con1- sidered lectures which he has delivered from time to time. The question before us, however, is not whether the business of the Parliament should be expedited nor whether the honorable member should endeavour to make himself better fitted to deal with it. I have risen more with the object of showing the Prime Minister how he can adapt his proposals to suit the convenience of honorable members. It is evident from what has occurred this afternoon that the honorable gentleman has been led to submit this motion by the fact that he recognises that it will be difficult to form a quorum at the usual hour.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– There will be no difficulty.

Mr KELLY:

– That being so, honorable members, having assisted to form a quorum, will be able to avail themselves of the first chance to return to the races, and the Prime Minister will be able to do what he pleases. Why should we not meet at 10.30 a.m. ? I am sure that honorable members would cheerfully assemble at that hour. In that event, as soon as a quorum had been formed and the pretence made that the number of members present was sufficient to allow of the proper consideration of the business of the country, nearly the whole House would be able to slip away to the races, and allow the measures submitted to pass without proper consideration. Why should it be necessary, Mr. Speaker, to place you in the invidious position of being the only representative of the people prepared to attend here from 2.30 p.m. onwards? Why should not other honorable members be placed in the same position ? The Government do not care whether honorable members attend or not. As long as there is a quorum at the outset of the proceedings they will be satisfied. I earnestly suggest to the Prime Minister the advisableness of calling the House together at 10.30 a.m. We should then be able to leave the Prime Minister to do what he pleased. The business which the Government bring forward is seldom considered by the Cabinet, and why should it be necessary for the House in its corporate capacity to carefully consider that which the Ministry have not thought fit to consider. It will be easy for some of us to attend the House at 2.30 p.m., and leave in time to see the race for the Cup. There is, for instance, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who has the free run of the fire brigade station, and will be able to charter a fast team to cover the distance between the House and Flemington in time to enable him to see the great race. But how are we all going to get from the Chamber to the race-course in half-an-hour ?

Mr Thomas:

– What about the motor cars ?

Mr KELLY:

– I am not speaking for myself ; I am taking an impartial view of the question. The Prime Minister is putting honorable members to inconvenience in asking us to come here at half-past 2 to wait about until there is a quorum. If he wishes us to proceed with business, regardless of the Melbourne Cup, let him move the adjournment until the ordinary hour. The present proposal is a. mere pretence. The authority responsible for the conduct of business in this Chamber is, not Mr. Speaker, but the head of the Government, and if he feels unable to carry out his duties he should resign his commission, and appeal to the country for a larger following. He has no right to try to place his responsibilities - arduous though they may be - on Mr. Speaker. If the Prime Minister proposed to adjourn over Tuesday it would be a much more straight-forward course, and one more in accordance with the dignity of his position.

Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - As leader of the House I have a duty and an act of courtesy to perform. At this period of the session I am obliged to ask the House to meet on Tuesday ; but, as an act of courtesy, must make allowance for the fact that that day is a public holiday, and that some honorable members may not wish to attend at the usual hour. The motion was submitted to secure the transaction of public business, while studying the convenience of honorable members. I am indifferent whether it be carried or whether we meet at the usual hour without qualification. In the latter event the programme which I outlined need not be adhered to; but business will be proceeded with in its ordinary course. The special arrangements I spoke of were suggested to meet the convenience of honorable members, without interfering with the transaction of public affairs. The matter, however, is entirely in the hands of the House.

Question - put. The House divided.

AYES: 32

NOES: 7

Majority … … 25

AYES

NOES

In Division:

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the motion is lost the House will meet on Tuesday as usual at half-past 2.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– In view of the decision just arrived at, I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, at what hour you intend to take the chair on Tuesday. Will you take the chair at half -past 2, or will you wait until you have ascertained, by sending round the building, that there is a quorum present ?

Mr Deakin:

– There will be a quorum at half-past 2.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the motion had been lost, the House would have met at half-past 2, in accordance with the sessional order. As it has been carried, it will be my duty, when the time arrives, to give effect to it as best I may.

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Melbourne asked me, as he wished to get away to see his brotherinlaw, who is sick, to pair with him. I promised to do so, and I regret that when the division bells rang I entirely forgot my promise, and voted. I am very sorry to have broken my pair.

Mr Conroy:

– As I have to travel 600 miles to attend here on Tuesday next, I should like to know if the House is to meet at half-past 2. If Mr. Speaker says that he will take the chair at that hour we shall know definitely what is to be done. I object to the hypocrisy of the arrangement agreed upon.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The Prime Minister spoke of his obligation of courtesy. May I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that it would consult our convenience if you would indicate the probable time of meeting on Tuesday ? I do not know why we should be obliged to come here at half-past 2 to spend some hours lounging about the building, unable to go away, and yet not able to do any work, because there is not a quorum present. I shall be obliged if you will indicate the procedure which will be adopted.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I should like to know whether the bells are to be rung at half-past 2, and what course will be taken if there is not then a quorum present.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The resolution places a certain duty on me, which I must perform as best I may. I do not know what more definite reply I can give than to say that I shall take the chair at half -past 2, if there is then a quorum ; but that, if there is not, I shall take the chair as soon as there is a quorum.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That is an unheard of position for a Parliamentary Assembly to be placed in.

page 4630

APPROPRIATION BILL

Debate resumed (vide page 4621).

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– I have a few words to say about the Federal Capital question, but I wish to address myself to it in no provincial spirit. It is provided in the Constitution that the Federal Capital shall be located in New South Wales, and the constitutional right of that State should be recognised. Questions were asked this morning which indicated a desire on the part of some honorable members that the Constitution should be amended, in order to admit of the establishment of the Federal Capital in some other portion of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister did not make his position clear; but I would point out that any attempt to deprive New South Wales of the right conferred upon her by the Constitution would be viewed by the people of that State with such intense indignation that the Federal Union would probably be dissolved. I hope that the Government will entirely ignore the narrow view of the question which has recently been put forward, and that a more generous view will be taken of what is due to New South Wales. Thehonorable member for F remantle is one of those who believes that Western Australia is entitled to have the Transcontinental Railway constructed, but I would point out that no compact was entered into so far as that matter was concerned. New South Wales has an absolutely clear constitutional claim to the Capital, because the condition that it should beestablished within her territory was embodied in the Constitution. I am sorry that this matter has not been approached in a broader and more liberal spirit. The question should not have been discussed from the stand-point of Victoria or New South Wales only, but with consideration for the interests of the people of all the States. I did not approve of the choice of Dalgety. The honorable member for Maranoa has attempted to fix upon a number of the representatives of New South Wales the responsibility “for having joined in the selection of that site; but it must be pointed out that they voted in favour of Dalgety merely because it was the less objectionable of the two sites to which the choice of honorable members was narrowed down in the final ballot. Although the position is not clearly expressed in the Constitution, there is no doubt that the intention was that the Federal Capital should be situated at some point as near as possible to the 100 miles limit, and this fact should be held clearly in view. Some honorable members have expressed themselves as willing that the Constitution should be amended to permit of the establishment of the Federal Capital in Sydney. Apart from the question, whether or not that would be a wise proceeding, it seems extraordinary that honorable members who are now favouring Sydney should have previously voted in favour of a site as far away as possible from that metropolis. It has been urged that the New South Wales Parliament are throwing obstacles In the way of a settlement of the question, but the Premier of New South Wales, in his last letter, suggests that some amicable arrangement should be arrived at, and I think that his suggestion should be acted upon. I do not know that very much good can result from the consideration by this Parliament of the resolution passed by the State Legislature, but we shall not lose dignity by complying with the request made by Mr. Carruthers. On the other hand, we shall evince a desire to meet the State authorities in every possible way. Possibly a mistake was made by the New South Wales Parliament in omitting the Dalgety site from their resolution, but there is no reason why we should show resentment upon that score. Our efforts should be directed to avoiding friction. I am sorry to say that considerable feeling has been evinced by some honorable members against the mother State, and I trust that this will not be accentuated. We should receive the advances of the New South Wales Government with courtesy and consideration.

Mr Watson:

– Even though they have slapped this Parliament in the face as a preliminary ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– They have done nothing of the kind. That is a libel on New South Wales.

Mr.Watson. - No, it is not. If they had proceeded in a sensible manner they might have got what they wanted.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Not while they are represented by people like the honorable member.

Mr Watson:

– They have no chance whilst they are represented by an honorable member who adopts an asinine attitude towards everything.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that expression.

Mr Watson:

– If that degree of accuracy is not permissible, I certainly withdraw the expression.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I think that that is a most insulting way of withdrawing the remark. I ask that the honorable member be called upon to withdraw his observation without qualification.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am sure that the honorable member for Bland will withdraw his remark without qualification.

Mr Watson:

– In deference to your suggestion, sir, I withdraw the remark.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I want no deference from the honorable member.

Mr Watson:

– I am not offering any.

Mr LONSDALE:

– It is admitted by the Attorney-General that we cannot compel New South Wales to ‘give us the territory we require, and therefore it seems to me that we can without loss of dignity meet the request of the New South Wales Premier in a reasonable way.

Mr Frazer:

– Does the honorable member consider that the last letter from Mr. Carruthers is a courteous communication?

Mr LONSDALE:

– I do not see anything discourteous in it.

Mr Frazer:

– I think that it is an impudent letter.

Mr LONSDALE:

– No doubt the honorable member is a good judge of impudence.

Mr SPEAKER:

-Order ! I would suggest to honorable members that these remarks, which are so acrimonious and provocative, might well be dispensed with.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Of course, Mr. Carruthers’ letter is not couched in the language which a lover would adopt, but is an official communication directing attention to the points raised by the Attorney-General, and I see nothing objectionable in it. I urge that we should meet the New South Wales Parliament in a courteous and dignified manner, because I think that it has acted with a desire to serve the best interests of the State and of the Commonwealth.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I have held myself prepared to speak on the subject of ‘the Federal Capital Site, but in view of what has taken place I shall say no more at the present juncture.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I regard the position of the Capital Site question as far from satisfactory. What is desired is that steps should be taken to arrive at a settlement as speedily as possible.

Mr Carpenter:

– We have been trying to do that for months.

Mr BROWN:

– My feaT is that we shall have to go on trying for many months longer, but that is no reason why we should relax our efforts. The difficulty which now presents itself arises out of the doubt which exists as to the powers of this Parliament in regard to the selection of a site. There are those who hold that the selection rests entirely with this Parliament. On the other hand, there are those who contend that our powers are limited to the selection of a site within territory which has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth as the result of negotiation with the Government of New South Wales. To my mind, there is a considerable amount of weight in that argument. I base mv view upon the fact that when Sir Edmund Barton was Prime Minister - and it will be admitted that he was well qualified to express an opinion upon this subject - he refused to take any action until the New South Wales Government had taken certain preliminary steps.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– He did not “ refuse ‘ ‘ to take action, but he suggested that certain steps should be taken.

Mr BROWN:

– I know that when I urged his Government to deal with the question more expeditiously, one of the reasons advanced for the delay was his inability to get the New South Wales Government to take certain action which he deemed to be necessary. What was the nature of that action? The Government of New South Wales were asked to indicate to the Commonwealth the territory within which they were prepared to grant a suitable site. Unfortunately, the then Premier of New South Wales, Sir John See, did not take the State Parliament into his confidence. That, however, is not a matter with which we have to deal. But the fact remains that Sir Edmund Barton did not take action until he was handed Mr. Oliver’s report. We were then invited to consider the respective merits of the different sites upon which that officer had reported. The present Government take up the position that under the Constitution this Parliament has a right to determine the territory within which the Capital shall be located. That is the point in dispute, and the only way in which it can be settled is by referring it to the High Court, which is the custodian of the Constitution. Instead of raising side issues, it seems to me that we ought at as early a date as possible to secure an authoritative decision as to the powers of the Commonwealth and the State in respect of the selection of the Federal territory. I sympathize with the stand which is being taken by the New South Wales Parliament in regard to the selection of Dalgety. I do not think that site is a suitable one in many respects. Before the Seat of Government could be transferred to Dalgety an enormous expenditure would require to be incurred. The initial cost in this direction has been estimated at ,£3,000,000, whereas the Commonwealth Departments could be transferred to other eligible sites at a cost of less than ,£500,000. But, even if the New South Wales authorities could be reconciled to our selection of Dalgety, other difficult problems would then have to be faced. For instance, before anything could be done in the way of transferring the Seat of Government from Melbourne the question would arise: “Who should bear the expense of providing the necessary means of communication?” Whilst the Commonwealth should incur the cost of railway construction within Federal territory, it certainly should not be asked to defray the cost of railway construction through New South Wales or Victorian territory. Further, it does not appear that we can compel the States to provide necessary facilities for transport to the Seat of Government. If this Parliament seriously desires to comply with the provisions of the Constitution, it will reconsider its decision and select a site which is more accessible than is Dalgety. As far as I am personally concerned, I should prefer to see Albury chosen rather than Dalgety, because the selection of the former would ultimately cater to the Victorian interests no more than would the selection of the latter, whilst the expenditure involved in transferring the Seat of Government there would be very much less. I say that the interests of New South Wales should be given some consideration.

Mr Page:

– Does not the honorable member think that the other States should be considered ?

Mr BROWN:

– Yes, and if the honorable member is of the same opinion he will not impose upon the Commonwealth the enormous expenditure that would be incurred in removing the Seat of Government to Dalgety.

Mr Page:

– Let us stay where we are.

Mr BROWN:

– The suggestion of the honorable member ignores the provision of the Constitution, and is unfair, both to New South Wales and to the other States.

Mr Page:

– How can the honorable member say that, seeing that I voted for the selection of Dalgety?

Mr BROWN:

– The sooner that the Governments of New South Wales and the Commonwealth cometo an agreement by which an appeal may be made to the High Court the better will it be for all parties.

Mr Page:

– I do not believe that the Government ofNew South Wales wish to have the matter decided.

Mr BROWN:

– That is merely the honorable member’s opinion. I believe that the Parliament of New South Wales honestly desire to secure a settlement of this matter. It has very substantial reason for objecting to the selection of the Dalgety site. There is another matter in these Estimates to which I desire to allude. Unfor tunately-owing to the lateness of the sitting - a suitable opportunity did not present itself to deal with it last night. I refer to the attitude taken up by the late Attorney-General with respect to the High Court. From the papers submitted to us, we find that Senator Symon laid it down as a principle that, as Melbourne is the Seat of Government for the time being, the sittings of the Court should centre here, and that he took certain steps to prevent it from sitting in the different States Capitals. As I understand that an opportunity will be given us at a later stage to deal with this matter, I shall not further discuss it. I trust that the Prime Minister will recognise the advisableness of promptly dealing with the constitutional question relating to the Capital Site, and of determining the respective powers of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in regard to the selection not only of the territory, but of the site itself.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolutions adopted.

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-

That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1905-6 a sum not exceeding two million five hundred and sixty-nine thousand one hundred and fiftyone pounds be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Resolution reported and adopted.

Ordered -

That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Deakin do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.

page 4633

SUGAR BOUNTY BILL

Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.

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PAPERS

MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -

Correspondence as to Federal Capital Site.

Defence Acts 1903-4 - Military Forces : Amendments of financial and allowance regulationsStatutory Rules, 1905, No. 69.

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ADJOURNMENT

Order of Business

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– In moving -

That the House do now adjourn,

I wish to intimate that on Tuesday we shall probably proceed in Committee of Ways and Means with a motion relating to the imposition of the increased Excise which will accompany the extra sugar bounty, in respect of which a message has just been received from His Excellency the Governor-General. Two Bills have to be introduced, one raising the Excise duty on sugar by £1 per ton, and the other raising the bounty by £1 per ton.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– That business will be taken after the adjournment for dinner?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes ; not before.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.20 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 November 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051103_reps_2_28/>.