2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he has seen, a paragraph in yesterday’s Age, in which attention is drawn to the fact that some of the warships which have been discarded, in accordance with the reorganization scheme of the British Admiralty, have been sold at extremely small prices, and the suggestion is made that these vessels might be used for the training of Australian naval volunteers. As these ships have been sold without guns, ammunition, or engines, does the honorable gentleman agree with the military critic of the Age that the best training for Australian seamen would be obtained on ships possessing no engines to move them, and noguns or ammunition tomake them effective as warships? As an alternative, I should like to know from the honorable gentleman if the Government are willing to approach the Admiralty, with a view to seeing if the facilities which Australians now enjoy for receiving training in the English Navy can be extended.
– The Government have had the whole matter under consideration for some considerable time, and when a conclusion of public moment is come to it will be duly communicated to the House.
– I should like to askthe Treasurer a question without notice, and I presumethat, as he is not here, the Prime Minister will be able to answer it for him. I should like to know if the right honorable gentleman thinks it politic, in view of his position as a member of the Executive Council, to accept support from labour members of this House, and, at the same time, to openly rejoice in the defeat of the Labour Party in Western Australia ?
– My right honorable colleague had no anticipation that the calculations which he made for his own information would be given publicity under his name.
– He has evidently been thinking aloud.
– He made an inquiry into a matter of personal interest, to the result of which publicity has been unexpectedly given.
– The following paragraph appears in yesterday’s Age: -
In respect to the charges made against Major Hawker by members of the House of Representa. tives, the Minister of Defence on Saturday said : - “ I have seen the members who spoke in the House about Major Hawker, and told them that they must formulate their charges against him, and when I have received those charges I shall decide whether it is necessary to appoint a board to investigate them.” ,
I wish to know if the Minister of Defence is there correctly reported, and, if so, how his statement can be reconciled with the promise of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to this House that there would be an inquiry into all the charges against Major Hawker.
– I do not see any necessity to reconcile the newspaper statement with anything which I have said. I have alreadyintimated that the inquiry will be carried out under such conditions as the Minister may see fit to approve. I take it that consideration will be given to not only the charges made by honorable members against
Major Hawker, but also the statements of those who have communicated with honorable members. The fullest publicity will be given to the whole matter, and I am satisfied that honorable members will discover that the Minister has acted wisely in regard to it.
– I wish’ to know from the Prime Minister if there is any truth in the Statement which appears in the newspapers that the negotiations about the Federal Capital Site between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales have come to an end. If so, what further action does the honorable and learned gentleman propose to take in the matter?
– The letter addressed to the Premier of New South Wales, which I laid upon the table on Friday last, plainly states that the Government propose to introduce a short measure immediately.
Bill returned from the Senate, with a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the amendment of the House of Representatives with an amendment in which it requested concurrence.
That the message be taken into consideration after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3, Government business.
I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This measure is the outcome partly of the recommendations of the Committee appointed by this House to consider certain charges concerning the administration of the Electoral Act, and partly of the deliberations of a conference of Commonwealth electoral officers held to consider certain suggestions to improve the administration of our electoral laws. The Electoral Committee ap- pointed by this House consisted of the honorable members for Boothby, Canobolas, Darling Downs, Wentworth, Hume, Melbourne Ports, Perth, Kennedy, Gippsland, Grey, Macquarie, Bass, Corinella, and Wilmot. The Committee took evi dence and inquired into a number of matters, and also recommended that certain amendments should be made in the Act. In paragraph 20, the Committee say -
From the evidence given, it appears that the Commonwealth Electoral Act has met with strong approval. Yet the evidence has disclosed that in certain respects there is need of amendment to secure more efficient administration, and to give better effect to the intention of Parliament. Your committee has considered the more important of the amendments suggested to them.
These suggestions are detailed in the report, and, with the exception of one or two of a minor character, have been incorporated in the Bill. The object of the measure, as first introduced to the Senate, was, not to alter any of the underlying principles of the Act, but to provide machinery for perfecting the administration and for carrying out more effectively the intentions of the Parliament. Dealing first with the subject of administration, it is proposed to slightly alter the section dealing with the Chief Electoral Officer. Under the Act, that official is placed under the responsible Minister, but it is proposed to define his position by the Act itself, and by regulations made under the authority of the Act. Further, it is intended to ask the House to pass a clause which was rejected by the. Senate, dealing with the functions of assistant returning officers. The Electoral Committee recommended that section 8 of the Act should be amended by the omission of the words “ except the powers of that officer under Part X. of this Act.” They state -
Owing to the time occupied in some of the electorates in communicating with the divisional returning officers, electors were deprived of the opportunity of exercising their franchise. The extension of the powers under Part X. to the assistant returning officers would increase the facilities for voting.
That part deals with voting by post. Under the Act, the Divisional Returning Officers are the only persons to whom application can be made for postal vote certificates. The result is that in electorates such as Maranoa,where the Divisional Returning Officer is not within easy reach of persons living in the outlying districts, electors who desire to take advantage of the system of voting by post are, in many instances, unable to do so, because of the time occupied in forwarding their letters and receiving replies.
– The whole system should be wiped out.
– That is another matter. If the system of voting by post is to be continued1, it should be so arranged that every individual should, as far as possible, have the same opportunity to take advantage of it.
– What check is imposed upon the issue of certificates?
– I am dealing with another . question at present. The proposal is only to permit assistant returning officers to issue a certificate. These gentlemen will occupy positions of responsibility under the Act. and, as it is proposed to extend to them only the same power that is now exercised by Divisional Returning Officers, we shall have the same check upon them. The applications sent to the assistant returning officers will have to be signed by the applicant and duly witnessed, and the certificates will then have to be forwarded by the assistant returning officers, as is now done by the Divisional Returning Officers. This matter has been very strongly reported on by the officers who have been intrusted with the administration of the Act, and the Electoral Committee report in favour of the proposal now made.
– It is bound to complicate the system.
– No ; we are merely providing additional facilities for persons who desire to record their votes by post.
– It is proposed to provide additional facilities for fraudulent voting.
– I think that we have provided sufficient safeguards against fraud.
– If the system is so good, why not provide for voting to be done solely through the post?
– I do not think that advisable, but there are certain individuals who now find it impossible, on account of their callings or the circumstances in which they are placed, to vote in the ordinary way.
– This is the first step towards the violation of the secrecy of the ballot.
– I do not think so, if the safeguards provided by the Bill are availed of.
– We can show the Minister that the secrecy of the ballot has already been violated.
– I shall be “very pleased! to hear what the honorable member may have to say on the matter. The next important provisions to which I desire todirect attention are contained in Part III. dealing with the electoral divisions. The Senate have made very important amendments, which I shall ask honorable members to reverse. As honorable members know, under the present law a proclamation is issued, and a Commissioner is appointed1 to redistribute the State into divisions. The Commissioner investigates the matter, puts forward a scheme for public information and objections, and pays regard to the suggestions made to him, and his report is then submitted to the House. Thus the matter is one for parliamentary revision.
– Does the Minister think that the House should have the power to revise the distribution made by the Commissioner ?
– I think this House should retain its control over the distribution of the electorates.
– If that is done, the whole Bill will be a sham.
– I do not agree with the honorable and learned member. I merely desire to explain the position of affairs under the Act, and the alterations that are proposed. The Senate have seen fit to materially alter the provisions of the Bill. In the first place, it is provided that the GovernorGeneral may appoint three persons- in each State - a Judge of a State Court, the Surveyor-General or head of the Survey Department, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in the State - to be Commissioners to distribute the divisions in the State. It Is also provided that if any of the persons indicated are not available, the Governor-General may appoint some one else to act in their places. These officers are to be appointed during the pleasure of the Governor-General. The intention is that’ after the Commissioners have distributed the electorates they shall report to the Governor-General, who, by proclamation, shall declare the boundaries of the divisions, % which shall, until altered under the provisions of the Act, be the electoral divisions’ of the State: It is thus proposed to take the whole matter out of the control of this House, and to leave it in the hands of the Executive Council. An Executive quite out of touch with the House might entirely cut the ground from under the feet of honorable members by means of a proclamation.
– They have had that power all along.
– They have had the power to declare a redistribution, but such a redistribution could not be brought into effect until it had been submitted to the House.
– The Executive may act independently at amy moment.
– Quite so. But under these proposals what follows upon the Executive act is that immediately the Commissioners report, the Governor-General will issue a proclamation and then the divisions constituted under their authority become law.
– Why assume that the Executive will do a foolish thing?
– I am not assuming anything of the sort. Iam merely referring to the powers of the Executive-
– It is not an unusual power.
– I think that the power proposed is an extraordinary one to vest in the Governor in Council. However, that is a matter for the House to decide. To my mind, the proposal is open to a further objection. The Electoral Bill, as it was originally introduced, provided for the appointment of three Commissioners. This House deliberately rejected1 that provision. I think that the honorable member for Gippsland was an active member in securing its rejection. The House decided that only one Commissioner should be appointed for each State, on the ground of the cost that would be involved in the appointment of three Commissioners, and because it was felt that one good officer could perform the work satisfactorily. These amendments have been introduced in the Senate, and it is my intention to ask honorable members to reject them. Certain other alterations have been made in the original Act,which require a little explanation. At present the law does not make any provision as to who shall determine the quotas in the State. Under this Bill it is proposed to vest that power in the Chief Electoral Officer. In clause 12 we propose to amend a defect in the present law. Underthe existing Act, if a redistribution should take place during the currency of a Parliament, there is no provision for dealing with any vacancy which may subsequently occur. A clause has accordingly been inserted in this Bill, providing, in effect, that if a vacancy should occur after a redistribution, the new member shall, until the next ensuing dissolution, be elected upon the same roll as his predecessor.
– Why not have a new roll?
– Because a new roll would not have been compiled. After a redistribution has taken place it will be necessary to have a readjustment of the boundaries and a rearrangement of the rolls.
– But there may be a number of additional names upon the roll.
– Those names would be considered.
-Why have a dissolution at all?
– The honorable member would do credit to a perpetual Parliament. Clause 13 contains a new proposal, which is rather an important one. It provides that whenever an alteration shall take place in the number of representatives of any State, a redistribution may be made. Paragraph b lays down certain conditions under which a proclamation may be issued for a redistribution of seats when the quotas in the divisions get out of joint. At the present time there is no indication as to when a redistribution ought to take place. As honorable members are aware, under the existing law certain quotas are fixed for the divisions of the various States, and a variation in the number of electors to the extent of not more than onefifth above or one-fifth below the quota is allowed. We propose that if at any time it should appear that these quotas are out of joint in any State to the extent of onethird of the divisions in that State, the GovernorGeneral in Council may issue a proclamation ordering a redistribution. Take the case of Western Australia. If in thatState the quota in one-third of the electorates required alteration, a redistribution would follow in order that the underlying principle of the Act might be preserved.
– In that case, if the quota were interfered with in one out of five electorates, there would be a redistribution.
– No. The quota would have to require alteration in at least two electorates.
– Under that proposal, a redistribution in Victoria would not have been rendered necessary up to the present time.
– That is not so, because the Governor-General has also power to order a redistribution at any time. There might be such a wide variation in the quota in two or three electorates, that it would be the duty of the Governor-General to issue a proclamation ordering a redistribution. In the larger States it may nottoe advisable to wait till the variation reaches one-third. We ought to lay down some guiding principle to the effect that the variation ought not to exceed a certain minimum.
– Does not the Minister think that one-third is too high a minimum?
– It is certainly not too high in the case of the smaller States, and, of course, we must lay down a rule which will be applicable to all the States.. Part IV. of the Bill is an important one. The Electoral Committee came to the conclusion that, as far as possible, we should endeavour to bring the Commonwealth and the State electoral laws into line - in other words, that we should attempt to secure a uniform system of electoral laws which would be applicable both to the Commonwealth and to the States. That body reported - . ,
The evidence reveals that a great saving to the Australian people could be effected by the adoption of an uniform franchise and electoral system. By the acceptance of the uniform franchise and polling places in common, the one collection and revision of names, and the one set of rolls could Tse made to serve both the Commonwealth and States. In South Australia, by the utilization of the State roll, the cost of printing the Commonwealth roll for that State amounted to £500 instead of ,£1,800. In Victoria the Government Printer estimates that by being able to use the “State rolls a saving could be made to that State of ,£2,500 per annum. Further economies would result if the same sets of officers could do the electoral duties for both Commonwealth and States.
This matter was considered at the last Conference of Premiers which met in Hobart, when the following resolution was passed -
That this Conference agrees that the Commonwealth and State Governments should consider the question of amending their electoral laws, with the object of making the qualification and disqualification of electors as nearly uniform as may be deemed possible and desirable, and that communications should be at once entered into by the Electoral and Law Departments of the Com monwealth and States with the object of the nearest possible approach to uniformity in the modes of enrolment, mode of revision, establishment of polling-places, and other mechanism of an Electoral Act.
What should be aimed at in a uniform system, is a uniform franchise, a uniform method of collecting and printing the rolls and of enrolment generally - a uniform system of revision arid the adoption of one method under which the same officers who administer the Commonwealth electoral laws would administer the State laws. By these means we should effect a great saving. The Bill keeps these objects in view, and Parts IV. and V. are so framed as to allow these principles being given effect to. Part IV. deals with polling places. There is not the slightest reason why the same polling places should not be used for both Commonwealth and State elections. In the first place it is, of course, highly desirable that we should have a uniform franchise. The Commonwealth has led the way in defining a very liberal franchise for the people of Australia, and some of the States - notably Queensland - are following the example which we have set in this connexion. If a uniform franchise obtained throughout Australia a great many of the difficulties which confront us would be overcome. Part IV. enables the Minister, instead of the Governor-General, to proclaim polling places, and it also enables the divisions to be constituted subdivisions. The object of constituting subdivisions is to enable any particular State to group the Commonwealth polling places, so that they may form a State electorate, as well as subdivisions of a Commonwealth division itself. It is hoped that in future the Commonwealth divisions will embody a number of State divisions, so that the one roll, and the one set of polling places, may be used for both Commonwealth and State elections. If this can be effected great economies will be secured. Another important feature of Part IV. is that relating to the definition of what are known as polling-place areas. Honorable members are aware of the difficulty which electors have hitherto experienced in ascertaining the polling place for which they are enrolled. It is hoped that by the definition of a specific area for a certain polling place, this grievance will be remedied.
– Why should electors not be permitted to vote at any polling place within their ‘division ?
– They can do so for the division in respect of which they are enrolled, and in which they reside, but the desire is to enable them to readily ascertain the particular polling-place area in which they are situated.
– It is in regard to that point that trouble has arisen.
– The trouble is that electors have been enrolled for polling places that are not convenient for them.
– But this provision will disfranchise many electors.
– I am satisfied that it will not have that effect.
– It will compel many to vote by means of “ Q” forms.
– That is what many of them have had to do under the existing law. Part IV. of the Bill simply provides for polling places and polling-place areas, so that an elector will know that his polling place is in the area in which he resides.
– Under a system of this kind, thousands were disfranchised at the last elections.
– Polling-place areas have not been previously defined.
– But an alteration of the boundaries must cause trouble.
– Under the existing Act no legal boundaries for polling places have been constituted. Arbitrary lines in respect of each polling place may have been fixed by persons preparing the rolls.
– Those arbitrary lines caused the trouble.
– But the provisions of this part of the Bill will help to overcome the difficulty.
– They will, if all the persons entitled to vote at a certain polling place are placed on the roll for that polling place.
– That is the intention of the Bill.
– That was the intention of the original Act, but it has not proved satisfactory.
– Trouble arose owing to there being no defined legal boundaries in respect of each polling place. The clause is only permissive, and may not be acted upon in places where it may be inadvisable. So far as this matter is concerned, everything was vague and indefinite.
– I was referring to an instance of the danger of provisions of this kind in connexion with a redistribution of electorates.
– That is a different matter.
– But the same point applies. It is the fixing of the boundary lines which causes the trouble.
– Those residing on the boundary line of a division can vote only in the division in which they live. There ought not to have been any trouble in relation to that matter.
– There was.
– Then it must have arisen from a defective collection of the names.
– Many persons found themselves on the rolls for two divisions.
– That, doubtless, arose from the want of a proper knowledge of the boundary lines. The provisions of this part of the Bill will overcome the difficulties which have arisen owing to the vagueness of the present system.
– If the rolls are properly collected there will be no trouble.
– The hope is that they will be properly compiled. Part V., amongst other things not necessary to be explained now, enables rolls to be framed in such a way as to permit of their use both for Commonwealth and States elections. Let us, for instance, take the rolls for the Federal division of Moira. There may be six or seven State electorates within that constituency, but there is not the slightest reason why the system adopted in South Australia should not be applied to it.
– How could the Commonwealth rolls be used for State electionsinVictoria, in view of the fact that the franchise has not been extended to women in this State?
– The hope is that the Commonwealth franchise will be generallyadopted. But even where women do not enjoy the franchise in respect of the State Parliament, an arrangement can be made under this Bill for the compilation of the rolls in such a way that they will clearly show, not only Commonwealth electors, but States electors, and electors who are entitled to vote both for the Commonwealthand the State Parliaments.
– The names of Victorian public servants appearing on the Commonwealth rolls would have to be struck out if those rolls were used for State parliamentary elections.
– It would not be impossible to devise a means of overcoming that difficulty. Marks or letters could be placed opposite the names of the persons enrolled to indicate whether they were entitled to vote for the Commonwealth and the State Parliaments. In South Australia, the Commonwealth roll was used for the State parliamentary elections. Even if there were any difficulty in applying this system to Victoria, no trouble would be experienced in effectually _ carrying it out in the other States. The Bill is so framed that an arrangement can be made to adopt uniform rolls where the States laws will permit of it.
– Marks can be placed opposite the names of the different electors to indicate whether they are entitled to vote both for the Federal and the States Parliaments. 1
– The letter “C” could be placed opposite the name of a person entitled to vote for the /Commonwealth Parliament, and the letter “ S “ opposite the names of those possessing the State franchise only. Those entitled to vote for both Parliaments could be indicated by the letters “C” and “S” being placed opposite their names.
– South Australia has effected a considerable saving by adopting this system.
– She has saved .£1,500 by this means. The other changes effected by this part of the Bill relate more particularly to matters of administration, which can be explained more satisfactorily in Committee. I would point out, however, that clause 15 practically re-enacts section 36 of the original Act. It provides that -
All officers in the service of the Commonwealth, and all police, statistical, and electoral officers in the service of any State or local governing body, are hereby authorized and required to furnish to the Commonwealth electoral officer for the State all such information as he requires to enable him to prepare or revise the rolls.
This provision in the existing Act applied only to the first collection of rolls; but.it is intended in accordance with the recommendation of the Select Committee to make the system of general application, so that, when the rolls are. revised from time to time, the services of these officers may be requisitioned to make the rolls as complete and perfect as possible. Part VI. deals with additions to the rolls, transfers, and alteration of rolls. Clause 17 is the most important provision in this part of the Bill. Under the present law, if a person sends in a claim to be enrolled, the registrar is bound to enroll him. The Select Committee pointed out that there was considerable danger underlying this provision -
The evidence discloses that under the existing law roll stuffing may be resorted to. It would appear that the Registrar is bound to receive any claim signed by a claimant. Instances were cited of persons who had been resident for less than one week in a division having been induced by an agent to sign claims. Subsequent investigation proved that these persons were enrolled elsewhere, and were not entitled to vote in the division for which they had submitted claims for enrolment. It is recommended that each claim should be witnessed by an elector for the division ; and that it be made an offence to witness any such claim without due inquiry on the part of the witness as to the qualification of the elector.
By clause 17, effect is given to that recommendation. If this Bill be passed every claim to be enrolled will have to be attested by an elector.
– How can there be any rollstuffing when every person over the age of twenty-one years is entitled to vote for the Commonwealth Parliament?
– The point is that men may remove from place to place and claim to have their names enrolled in respect of different divisions.
– Even if .a man’s name appeared on the rolls for twenty different divisions, he could vote in respect of only one.
– The evidence given before the Select Committee disclosed that shortly prior to the issue of the writ in respect of the by-election for Riverina, a whole bundle of claims for enrolment was handed in to the Registrar. The Registrar was of opinion that these claims were not justifiable, but he was bound under the law to admit them.
– But the persons concerned could not vote for that division if they were, enrolled in respect of another one.
– Some of them did.
– We are endeavouring, by means of this Bill, to carry out that which the honorable member for Maranoa says ought to be done. The men to whom I refer were enrolled, and nothing could be done to reject their names. That was a cause of complaint in connexion with the election for Riverina. Under clause 17 of the Bill, it is provided that claims for enrolment must be attested by an elector, who must be satisfied before he signs the claim that the person making it possesses the necessary qualification. The qualification is practically only one month’s residence. If a claimant cannot induce an elector to certify that he has been residing for at least one month in an electorate for which he desires to be enrolled, his claim must be a very shadowy one. In addition to that, it is provided that the registrar, if he is satisfied that the claim is good, can put the name of the claimant on the roll. But that power is not contained in the Act, and the registrar is bound to accept the claim. The law is being altered so that the registrar must be satisfied of the genuineness of the man’s claim before his name is put on the roll. We have conferred a very liberal franchise, and it is only right that it should not be abused. The other clauses in this part of the Bill relate to matters of administration, and therefore can better be explained in detail in Committee. The effect of the ‘provisions is that where a. person moves from one polling place to another, or from one subdivision to another, and sends in a claim for a transfer, immediately the transfer is received, the registrar who registers it must send the note back to the person in charge of the roll, from which the transfer is made, in order to prevent the man’s name being on the roll twice. It is a simple method, and will, I think, be found to be effective. Part VII. is a very important part of the Bill. It abolishes the Revision Courts, and provides a better method of revising the rolls. At the present time, if a man’s name is on the roll, and he is disqualified, it cannot be struck, off until w Revision Court has been held. The public have taken little or no interest in the Revision Courts. These have been constituted at very rare times, and are practically useless.
– lt costs the people so much to lodge an objection.
– That is not the only objection to the retention of this machinery.
– The rolls are crowded with the names of dead and absent persons.
– There is no proper method of continually keeping the rolls purged. It has been found that the Revision Courts do not interest the electors in the slightest degree. For instance,, during’ the months of March, April, and May of this year, Revision Courts- were held at 327 centres in the seventy-five, electoral divisions of the Commonwealth. Although the rolls for the Commonwealth contain about 2,000,000 names, still only fifty alterations were made as the result of notices which had been lodged by the public. Honorable members will, therefore, zee that practically no interest is taken by the public in the revision of the rolls. A new scheme is provided in this Bill. Shortly stated, it is proposed to make the Divisional Returning Officer of each electorate a constant court of revision. If, at any time, there is on the roll a name to which exception is taken on the ground that the person is disqualified, any individual may send in a notice to the returning officer, and lodge the sum of - it was fixed at is. originally - :5s., as the Bill has been amended by the Senate.
– Half’-a-crown should be enough.
– Of course that is a matter to decide in Committee.
– Has not the Senate a say in fixing the amount ?
– The Senate is. an elected House, and, therefore, should have a voice in matters pertaining to the procedure for the revision of the rolls.
– Why should any fee be charged ?
– In order to prevent frivolous objections from being lodged, it is advisable to charge a fee. The objection can be made by an elector or by a registrar or by a divisional returning officer. If a registrar thinks that there are on the roll the names of any persons who are not qualified’ to be enrolled, the duty is cast upon him to make an objection, and thereupon notice has to be sent out to the person whose name is objected to, at his last known place of abode, or if that is not known, at the address which is given on the roll. The person whose name is objected to can either come before the officer, and prove his right to be enrolled, or send in a written statement. The divisional returning officer has either to remove the name from the roll, or dismiss the objection, as he thinks fit. That decision, however, is not to be absolutely final, because an appeal is allowed to a Court of summary jurisdiction. If any person has sent in a name to the registrar, and if has not been enrolled, or if the name of any person has been removed from the roll, and he thinks that it has been improperly removed, or if any objection has been made ‘to the name of any person on the roll, and the objector thinks that a wrong decision has been given, in these three cases an appeal will lie to a Court of summary jurisdiction to hear the matter, and finally adjudicate thereon.
– Is any provision made for the publication of the alterations which take place?
– Provision is made for the publication of supplemental rolls from time to time.
– They are not to be published in the local newspapers.
– To do that throughout the Commonwealth would be a very expensive matter.
– We must not trouble about the expense; we should not allow the returning officer to do what he likes.
– In order to further extend the knowledge of the rolls, although there is no such provision in the Electoral Act, I gave _ directions that copies of the different rolls, as revised, ‘ should be sent out to every polling place in the Commonwealth, so that the electors in each polling f lace might get a chance of seeing them.
– It would not be very expensive to publish in the local newspapers any alterations in the rolls.
– If the honorable member will reflect, he will realize that if we were to advertise the alterations, as made from time to time, in the leading newspapers of each district, the expense would
Tun into a very large sum.
– To preserve the purity of the rolls, it is* necessary.
– I doubt whether it is; but. certainly it would be a very costly proceeding. Part X deals with voting by post. On this subject the Select Committee on Electoral Administration reported -
Your committee are of opinion that the sections allowing voting by post should be amended.
The Committee did not indicate in what way the sections should be amended. But they “Hid indicate the nature of the abuses which are supposed to exist. They went on to say -
No objection was taken to sub-sections b and t of section 109. Even if the evidence of serious abuse of sub-section a, testified to by witnesses, does not establish the facts alleged, yet it is clear that this sub-section is open to serious abuse. Without concluding that undue influence was used in connexion with the postal vote, the evidence adduced shows that under the present sub-section advantage may be taken to destroy the free and secret exercise of the franchise. The application forms may be witnessed in blank, and these forms may be taken in numbers by agents for candidates when canvassing, and pressure brought to bear upon persons whose names are on the roll. The evidence justifies your committee in finding that many persons who voted by post had not reason to believe they would be more than five miles from their polling-place on the day of election, and were on that day within that limit. It would appear that the voting facilities provided have been used contrary to the intention of the Act. The provisions of this section were freely availed of. At the general election held on the 16th December, r<)03, postal votes were recorded to the number of io,r43, out of a total number of 887,312, equivalent to the proportion of 1.14 per cent. While admitting the public advantage of these sections, yet it is apparent that there must be further safeguards to preserve the purity of elections, without which the repeal of sub-section a becomes necessary.
The Select Committee, while showing that there were grave defects in the existing subsections, made no specific recommendation for their amendment. An attempt is made in this Bill to meet some of the. objections which have been raised, and at the same lime to preserve the existing system of voting by post. Of course, a difference of opinion may very -properly arise as to whether it should’ be allowed. I am of opinion that, with adult suffrage, voting by post, if properly safeguarded, is an absolute essential, especially in the interests of the country districts. But the question is, how are we to so safeguard the system as to preserve it” from, abuse ?
– It is specially necessary in the case of sick people.
– It is absolutely necessary. An attempt has been made in this Bill to meet the objections raised. In the first place, it is intended to extend the area in Which there may be voting by post. It was pointed out that in places like Melbourne, for instance, where facilities for moving about are so numerous, five miles was an absurdly small area, and in order to meet cases of the kind the limit has been made ten miles.
– Would it not be wise to confine voting by post to within a State?
– That sometimes would hardly be fair, it would be very severe on men living on the border electorates, where there is a good deal of changing about as between States.
– It would not affect those people very much.
– It would affect the people travelling from State to State.
– It would affect the absentee landlord.
– In any case, an absentee voter can be on the roll for only one polling-place ; and I do not regard any voter who i» in Australia as an absentee. A man who has the franchise in Australia, and whose name is justly on the roll, should have an opportunity to exercise the franchise.
– Let him vote as an absentee voter.
– We have confined that to the State only, on account of having the State rolls circulated only within the State.
– But a voter was allowed to vote outside his own State.
– Not outside his State.
– He was.
– Then it was contrary to the Act. However, I shall look into that matter.
– A number of cases have happened.
– It is proposed in clause . 27 to amend section 109 of the principal Act by providing that postal voting may be exercised by any one who has reason to believe that he will not on polling day “be within ten miles of the polling-place for which he is enrolled.” It was pointed out that it would be very easy for a man to say that he had reason to believe he would be five miles away. In the city of Melbourne, we were informed, a large number of people voted under this sub-section who were not five miles distant on polling day, and had no reason to believe they would be. The Bill provides that where a pe’rson alleges that he has reason to believe he will be away on polling dayhe must in his application state his grounds for that belief. That ought not to be a difficult matter for the voter. We were told that, in some cases, domestic servants exercised the franchise under this section, but under the Bill, of course, that sort of thing would be quickly stopped unless the voter had valid reasons for believing that he would be absent on polling day.
– Suppose the reasons given are fallacious, what will be done?
– If the reasons given are shown to be fallacious, the men who give them are liable to a penalty.
– I am afraid there will be some difficulty in carrying out that provision.
– In some instances, it will not be difficult to detect an offender. Anyhow, the amended law will compel the statement of reasons. Under the circumstances proposed, it will be easier than it is now to prove the untruth of fraudulent declarations. It is not likely that a domestic servant in Melbourne, for instance, will, in view of a penalty, falsely state that she is likely to be in Echuca on a particular day. Any such cases will be easy of investigation. My own opinion is that the Bill will prevent any such breaches of the law. Again, it has been stated that authorized witnesses signed forms in blank, and that then agents went round and asked people to fill them in. That will be prevented under the Bill, because every application must be sighed in the presence of the authorized witness.
– That was supposed to be done before.
– If the law was not complied with before, it will have to be complied with in the future, because any person who signs a form in blank is liable to a penalty. It is also made a penalty for any person to induce another to file a false claim. I do not say whether the allegations that have been made are true or false, but we have been informed that people were asked to make false declarations ; and the Bill is an attempt to meet all possible abuses of the kind. To this end, any person who induces another to make a false statement is liable to a penalty. We go further, and provide that the authorized . witness must satisfy himself as to the truth, of the statements made, before an application can be signed. This Bill proposes to >make it imperative for the authorized witness to satisfy him.:elf upon these points before he issues the document which makes it possible to vote by post. Any person who really wants to exercise a postal vote will not be deterred by these provisions, the sole object of which is to safeguard a privilege or right which is liable to abuse.
– Will some provision be made to preserve the reasons given by an applicant ?
– That is a suggestion worthy of consideration, and I shall see if it cannot be carried out. In each of the instances I have quoted, an attempt has been made to carry -out the findings of the Select Committee. There is” another very important matter,which led to a good deal of informality. The honorable member for Riverina would be able to tell us that in some elections a number of postal, votes were found to be bad, because the voting certificate was not sent in with the ballot-paper. The witness, on signing the certificate, thought that was all that was necessary, and simply sent on the ballot-paper and counterfoil, omitting the certificate. This omission made the votes informal ; but under the Bill it is provided that the certificate may be printed on the counterfoil of the ballot-paper. This limits the possibility of technical error. Part XI. of the Bill deals with matters more in the nature of administration, and, therefore, I sha”ll not weary honorable members’ by going into details. I may, however, incidentally mention that, in order to meet a difficulty to which attention was drawn by the honorable member for Maranoa, it is provided that scrutineers may be appointed on notice being given to the presiding officer.
– That is, scrutineers may be appointed by the presiding officer, with the authority of the candidate.’
– The presiding officer may be notified of the appointment of the scrutineer by the candidate. Under the present law. section 155, notice can be given to the Returning Officer only. Provision is made in the Bill to get over such a difficulty as that which arose at the Ni Ni polling place. Honorable members may recollect that in the case of the Wimmera election, the polling was adjourned to a subsequent date, and considerable difficulty arose as to who were entitled to then vote. Clause 42 provides -
Where for any reason the polling is adjourned at any polling place, those electors only who are enrolled ‘for that polling place (or who are enrolled for the sub-division, and for whom the polling place is prescribed), and who have not already voted, shall be entitled to vote at the adjourned polling at that polling place.
Part XII. of the Bill deals with another difficulty which was dealt with by the High Court. In an election in Riverina it appears that a mistake occurred in the count ; and power is given bv clause 43 to the Divisional Returning Officer to order a re-count. “
– I think there ought to be a count of the House. [Quorum formed.’]
– I was referring to the fact that if at the Riverina election the Divisional Returning Officer had had the power to order a re-count, there would have been no necessity for an election petition in connexion with that election. Had the request of the present occupant of the seat for a re-count been acceded to, it would have shown that he was entitled to be declared elected. Under clause 43 of this Bill, provision is made to enable a re-count to be made at the request of any candidate. If any mistake has occurred, or any candidate thinks that a mistake has been made, he will be entitled, under this clause, to make application for a re-count of the votes at the election. .This provision applies to elections for both Senate and House cif Representatives. Part XIV. of the Bill deals with the limitation of electoral expenses. Honorable members will remember that there is no provision under the principal Act for the making public the returns of electoral expenses sent in by the candidates. Under clause 45 of this Bill, it is provided that any person may have the right to inspect returns of electoral expenses sent in by candidates, so that the fullest publicity will be given to these returns.
– Why not do as is done , in South Australia and in England - publish the returns in the Gazette?
Mi*. McDonald. - Some candidates spent hundreds of pounds in one place.
– Let the returns be published in the Gazette.
– Under the clause, publicity will be given to these returns, but the suggestion which honorable members have made can be very well considered in Committee. The provision made by the Bill is merely to permit of inspection, so that persons interested may learn what returns have been sent in. In Part XV., dealing with electoral offences, one or two minor alterations in the principal Act are made. Evidence was given before the Electoral Committee that a great deal of trouble arose from the fact that the practice of permitting canvassers to carry on their work at the entrance to polling booths interfered with electors desiring to record their votes. I think that the chief complaint in this connexion came from Albury, and was made on behalf of women voters.
– The canvassers carried on their business within the polling booths.
– There is no doubt that they interfered with the convenience of elec- tors. The Bill as originally introduced proposed the imposition of a penalty upon any person who canvassed within twentyfive yards of the entrance of a polling booth. The Senate has seen reason to strike that provision out, and ‘has thought it sufficient to prevent canvassing within a polling booth. It is a matter for the consideration of honorable members whether there should not be some limit around the booth which should be kept free from canvassers. I think that, in order , to find a remedy for the evil aimed at by the clause, it will be necessary to do something of that kind.
– Canvassers have no right to enter a polling booth.
– What is to be done if a polling booth is established in a town hall ?
– The entrance to the polling booth in that case would probably be the principal door of the room in which the polling booth is, and the entrance to that door should be kept clear so that electors may not be inconvenienced. I am afraid that the amendment made by the Senate will not enable us under this clause to provide a real remedy for the evil aimed at. However, that is a matter which can be considered in Committee. In Part XVI., provision is made to remedy a defect in the Act. Honorable members will remember that when the High Court came to deal with an allegation against a succesful candidate of illegal practices in connexion with his election, it held that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the charge. Speaking from memory, I think their decision was that, if they could entertain it at all, it would have to be. shown that illegal practices had been carried on to such an extent as to have really affected the election.
– They said they had no jurisdiction.
-I think they said that if the common law applied at all, it would be only to that extent. They held that in the particular case, Chanter v. Blackwood, they had no jurisdiction whatever. We propose, in this Bill, to give the Court power to declare that any person returned as elected was not duly elected, or to declare an election absolutely void, on the ground that illegal practices were permitted in connexion with the election.
In clause 51,. proposed substituted clause 198A, it is provided that -
If the court of disputed returns finds that a candidate has committed or attempted to commit bribery or undue influence, his election, if he is a successful candidate, shall be declared void.
Then, in sub-clause 3 of the same clause; it is provided that -
The court of disputed returns shall not declare that any person returned as elected was not duly elected or declare any election void -
On the ground of any illegal practice committed by any person other than the candidate, and without his knowledge or authority ; or
on the ground of any illegal practice other than bribery or corruption or attempted bribery or corruption unless the Court is satisfied that the result of the election was likely to be affected, and that it is just that the candidate should be declared not to be duly elected, or that the election should be declared void.
– I beg, sir, to call your attention to the state of the House. [Quorumformed.]
– Under clause 51 it is proposed to disqualify any person guilty of bribery. That is not the law at present. The provision made will be found in proposed substituted clause 206A, as follows : -
Any person who -
is convicted of bribery or undue influence, or of attempted bribery or undue influence at an election ; or
is found by the court of disputed returns to have committed or attempted to commit bribery or undue influence when a candidate ; shall during a period of two years from the date of conviction or finding be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of either House of Parliament.
– Two years is not long enough.
– The penalty to be imposed is a matter of detail. The vital principle is that there shall be a penalty, upon a person who commits these offences. Heis not to be allowed to come into either House within a certain period, and, in addition, he will be liable to the ordinary penalties to which he would be liable under statute law. I have dealt with the principles underlying this Bill, and I feel sure that if the measure is passed, honorable members will find that it will result in a very considerable improvement in the administration of our electoral law, and will give more complete effect to the intention of Parliament in passing that law.
– In moving -
That the debate be now adjourned,
I take advantage of the opportunity to suggest to the Minister that honorable members should be given sufficient time to study the measure, and that they should be provided with copies of the principal Act, without which it will be impossible to properly consider the effect of the proposed amendments.
– I shall have distributed, before the debate is resumed, a schedule of the proposed amendments, which will show their exact effect.
– Perhaps that will serve my purpose, but, in any case, I think that we should be supplied with copies of the principal Act. It would also be well to circulate copies of the Hansard report of the honorable member’s speech in advance of the ordinary weekly publication.
– That will be done.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the consideration of Order of the Day No. 2 be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3, Government business.
– I think that the order of business set down on the notice-paper should be observed.
– The postponement of Order of the Day No. 2 has been moved to give the Minister’ of Home Affairs a little rest.
– In that case, my objection to the motion is not so great as it otherwise would be, though surely the Government knew yesterday what the position of affairs would be, and should have arranged . accordingly. This continual chopping and changing shows a want of consideration for honorable members, and, while the Government have a majority to carry any proposal they may make, I do not see that I should therefore countenance procedure of which I disapprove.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This measure will be recognised as practically a machinery Bill to facilitate the transaction of business, and reference to legislation which has been amended. In the last Defence Act we incorporated provisions relating to the principal Act which are similar to those contained in the Bill, and have been acted upon by the Government Printer. The Bill will apply the same practice to the future reprinting of all Acts, without it being necessary to insert any special provision to that effect in the amending legislation. The measure is very short, being based largely on the Queensland Act No. 10 of 1903. It provides that -
When any Act has, before or’ after the commencement of this Act, been amended by - (a)the repeal or omission of certain words or figures; or
the substitution of certain words or figures in lieu of any repealed or omitted words or figures; or
the insertion of certain words or figures, then in any reprint of the Act by the Government Printer the Act shall- be printed as so amended.
It is further provided for convenience of reference that in every reprint notice shall be given by means of marginal or footnotes of the enactment by which each amendment is made, and “words “ is interpreted to include “ Part, division, heading, section, sub-section, paragraph, and schedule.”
– The Bill, so far as it goes, meets with my approval, because its object is a good one; but it does not go far enough. At the present time the public, in buying an Act from the Government Printer of any State, is supplied with a copy of the Act as originally enacted by Parliament, containing no reference to subsequent amending legislation. For instance, in New South Wales a purchaser of the Municipalities Act would get a copy of an Act twenty or thirty years old, and there would be nothing in it to inform him of the existence of subsequent amending legislation, with which he must make himself acquainted to be fully informed of the law on the subject. A lawyer, of course,is trained to pay attention to amending Acts with a view to discovering their effect on earlier legislation. The Bill, in my opinion, does not go far enough, because it provides for the incorporation of amendments in the principal Act only in the event of it being reprinted, and then only in regard to the alteration of words or figures. Sections, however, may have been vitally altered without that fact being made known, so that, so far as they are concerned, the purchaser of the principal Act would be in exactly the same position as before. I suggest that the Bill should be made wider,
And that, if necessary, the titles of amending Acts should be printed on the title page of the principal Act. It has always seemed to me that a vital change is necessary in connexion with the reprinting of Bills, because it is desirable that every one who buys a copy of am Act should know that there are amending Acts which affect it. The provision proposed to be made goes only a very small way.
– It goes a very long. way.
– I will notsay that the provision made is not a useful one. No doubt it marks a great advance upon anything which has hitherto been done, but I think we should go still further in order that laymen may thoroughly understand what measures may have been passed. I do not see any difficulty in the way of carrying out my suggestion, because I notice that in connexion with the last print of the Land Acts of New South Wales some attempt has been made in this direction. I cannot too strongly impress upon the Attorney-General the importance of making plain to everybody who buys an Act the exact state of the legislation bearing upon the subject-imatter. It would be a good thing for us to adopt the practice of indicating the date. upon which an Act was issued, and of incorporating in it a reference to all the amendments made up to the date of issue. It might be necessary to frame our Bills in a manner somewhat different from that at present adopted, in order to enable the amendments to be incorporated in any reprint of the original Act.
– We could not do that, because an amending Bill might be a very long one; but I am prepared to meet the honorable and learned member so far as I can.
– I can quite realize that the amending clauses might be so numerous and so long that they would practically destroy the continuity of the Act, and I might incidentally refer to the fact that the Electoral Bill now before us contains no less than fifty-four clauses.
– It has been drafted in such a way as to enable the original and the amending Acts to be printed as one.
– That would prove of very great advantage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
– There is a great deal in what has been said by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and I am very glad to be able to meet his view. It would be a convenience to make such a reference as he suggests in all copies of amended Acts, which may hereafter be issued by the Government Printer. But, as he says, it would be quite impossible to do that in all cases, and it would never do to allow the Government Printer to put his own interpretation upon clauses that were not very specific. That would only tend to mislead more than ever. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ Upon all copies issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement, of. this Act been amended a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended shall be made on the first page of each copy issued.”
– I should like the AttorneyGeneral to make provision for the inclusion of the dates.
– I imagine that the reference in question would include the dates.
– If we provide for the inclusion of the dates, the Bill will be mandatory.
– The reference would not be complete without the dates.
– I find that all our Acts are numbered as of the year in which they were passed. It would, therefore, be practically impossible for the Government Printer to avoid including in any reprint of an amended Act, a reference to the number of the Act which had been amended, and to the year in which it was passed.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended so as to allow the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages this day.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House is being asked in this Bill to exercise the powers which we possess to make laws relating to the peace, order, and good government of theCommonwealth iin the matter of copyright. The monopoly of authors’ rights rests on the general ‘ sentiment which underlies all civilized law, that a man should be protected in the enjoyment of the fruits of his own labour. The law of copyright in its evolution has passed through several stages. In the first place, the author had a common la.w right to his unpublished manuscript - a right which has existed up to the present time. After that, books became the subject of regulation bv the Crown’s prerogative and licence. At a later period we find that certain statutory rules dealing with books were made, and in the final development we have arrived at something! beyond the mere municipal regulation of books, the law of copyright having now reached the international stage. A brief survey of its history taken from the text-books will enable honorable members to realize the complicated state of the law in the United Kingdom. In the early days, when books were not printed - the days before the advent of the printing press - the question of copyright was not an important one. There was no method of multiplying in large numbers the works which were produced, and as a result no serious question arose as regards the monopoly of any particular work. But with the advent of the printing press arose the important question as to whether the printing of the books which were being produced, and which were capable of disseminating knowledge, should not be regulated1, and as a result the Crown claimed the prerogative of controlling the press, and would only allow the printing of books subject to licence. It created^ practically a Crown monopoly by the granting of licences. In the reign of Henry VIII. this control was vested in the Company of Stationers. This Company was created to supervise and control the publication of books. It made various rules and regulations as to the printing of books,, and it issued licences to authors, authorizing them to print their works. The company was incorporated in 1556, and its rules and regulations were enforced by means of the orders of the Court of Star Chamber. In the exercise of the prerogative there was merely a control by the Crown. There was no creation of any property, but merely a control of the printing of books. But when licences were issued there arose something in the nature of a property. Thus we find in the licences which were then issued the germ of copyright. When the Star Chamber was abolished, printing was practically controlled by licences issued under certain ordinances. Shortly afterwards these ordinances dealing with the licensing of printing, lapsed, and it was not until 1709 that the first law relating to copyright waspassed, in the reign of Queen Anne. That Act created for the first time a statutory property in respect of copyright in books. Under it the author of any book or his assignee was given the sole liberty of printing and of reprinting it for a term of fourteen years from the date of publication. If at the end of that time the author was stilt living he was entitled to an extension for fourteen years. In that Act provision was made for copyright, for forfeiture of pirated copies, for penalties, and for a proper system of registration. A register had to be kept,- and registration was a condition precedent to any action for infringement. In 1801, by the Act No. 4i of George III., chap. 107, the right of ait action for damages was conferred, in addition to provision for forfeiture and penalties. In 1814, by a further amendment of the law passed in the reign of George III., the period of copyright was extended to twenty-eight years certain. But in addition to the rights which were given to an author under statute, the booksellers - who at this time were more interested in copyright even than the authors themselves - claimed that if a book had once been published they had a copyright at common law which they could enforce in perpetuity, and that they could restrain any person from reprinting their literary property. In opposition to that contention it was urged that by the Statute of Anne, and subsequent statutes, the common law claim to copyright was restricted to the period provided by statute. In the leading case of Donaldson versus Becket, the latter opinion was upheld. Up to this time the statute had been more of interest to the booksellers. In 1837, however, a change in the law was advocated. Serjeant Talfourd pressed for an extension of the period of copyright in the interests, not of the booksellers, but of the authors. Talfourd was supported bv Disraeli and Monckton Milnes - afterwards Lord
Houghton - whilst his proposal was violently opposed by Hume, Grote, and the “philosophic radicals.” The vear 184.1 was a memorable one in the history of copyright l’aw, for M’acaulay then came forward to oppose the claim urged on behalf of his fellow authors. Scrafton points out that -
Members generally were much impressed by the hardships which had lately befallen prominent men of letters, and by petitions presented by writers then in full popular fame, or attaining to it. Scott had died just when the copyright of his earliest and most successful novels was expiring, leaving his family in great financial difficulties. Wordsworth’s works were only becoming popular, when they ceased to bring him any return. Southey’s literary career was known to have been much altered by his pecuniary needs, and of the shortness of the copyright in his works. Alison presented a very important statement with reference to the remuneration for his “ History,” a work of great magnitude and expense, and of slow returns.
Carlyle petitioned, praying -
Your honorable House to forbid extraneous persons, entirely unconcerned in this adventure of his, to steal from him his small winnings for a space of sixty years at the shortest. After sixty years, unless your honorable House provides otherwise, they may begin to steal.
Macaulay rose in opposition to this contention, and, as Talfourd said -
Literature’s own familiar friend in whom she trusted, and who has eaten of her bread, has lifted up his heel against her.
The movement was successful. In 18421 a Copyright Bill, introduced by Lord Stanhope - Talfourd in the meantime having been raised to the Bench - was passed, and it embodies part of the law of copyright at present prevailing throughout the British Empire. This Act is of importance to Australia. In the first place, it extended the term of copyright to forty-two years, or during the life of the author, and seven years afterwards. It also provided for registration, making registration a condition precedent to an action. It declared that whoever first published a took in the United Kingdom had a copyright in respect of it throughout the whole of the British Dominions. But a person who first published a book in any other part of the British Dominions was not given, by virtue of that publication, copyright throughout the Empire. Those in the outlying British Possessions, therefore, were placed at a disadvantage. The Act was found to operate harshly in some of the British Possessions - notably in Canada - and in 1847 another measure was passed, which allowed the suspension of the prohibition against the importation of foreign reprints in any part of the Empire which had provided reasonable protection to the British author. Canada availed itself of the Act, and passed a law, in consequence of which the operation of the English Act was suspended there, whilst authors, by virtue of a local law, were given the benefit of certain duties upon imported foreign reprints. By means of this Act the people of Canada were able to obtain cheap reprints, which were copyright in other parts of the British Empire, and the authors benefited by the duties imposed. The Act, however, was not successful in its operation, as it failed to conifer any real benefit upon authors. Meanwhile claims were being made for copyright in respect of other works. Macgillivray summarizes these. In 1734 the engravers obtained a statute which, together with the amended statutes passed in 1766, 1776, and in 1836, provided for copyright in respect of engravings, prints, etchings, and similar productions. By an Act which was passed in 1798, the sculptors also obtained copyright in their works. This Act was repealed in 1814 by another measure, which embodies the present law in relation to the protection of sculptors. In 1833, the authors of dramatic works obtained the exclusive right to perform their plays, published or unpublished. The provisions of the Literary Copyright Act of 1842 were also made applicable to them, so that their rights were protected throughout the British Empire. In 18*42, protection was likewise given for performing rights ira musical compositions. Performing rights in respect of these works had previously been unprotected. Two other Acts were also passed, the last coming into force in 1902. In 1835, lecture rights were protected, but owing to its deficient provisions the Act practically became a dead letter. The last to obtain protection! for their work were the artists, a Fine Arts Act, which was passed in i86r, safeguarding their interests. Prior to this, various statutes had been passed, respecting international copyrights. From 1844 onwards, various laws were enacted in relation to this question, but the Act of 1886 is the last which deals with the matter. The intention was that copyright should be protected, not only in the country in which a work was first produced, but throughout all those countries which were prepared to enter into a convention or agreement, giving- mutual protection respecting copyright productions. The Act of 1886 is of importance to us, because under it any book first produced in Aus- tralia is protected not only in the British Empire, but also in those countries which were signatories to the Berne Convention. This Act was passed in view of the Berne Convention of 1887. The Berne Convention, as amended by the Paris Convention of 1898, forms the present agreement among nations which are parties thereto- From the statement I have made, honorable members will recognise that the copyright law of Great Britain is exceedingly complex. It is dealt with in different statutes, conferring various rights on similar subjects,’ and is on a very unsatisfactory footing. In 1878, as the outcome of the passing of a Canadian Act of 1875, thought to clash with the Imperial Act of 1.842, a. Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Lord Stanhope, was appointed to consider the question of the law of copyright. It found that at that time -
The law of .England as to copyright in the matters above enumerated consists partly of the provisions of fourteen Acts of Parliament, which relate in whole or in part to different branches of the subject, and partly of common law principles, nowhere stated in any definite or authoritative way, but implied in a considerable number of reported cases scattered over the law reports.
The first observation which a study of the existing law suggests is that its form, as distinguished from its substance, seems to us bad. The law is wholly destitute of any sort of arrangement, incomplete, often obscure, and even when it is intelligible upon long study, it is in. many parts so ill-expressed that no one who do.es not give such study can expect to understand it.
The common law principles which lie at the root of the law have never been settled. The well known cases of Millar v. Taylor, Donaldson v. Becket, and Jeffries v. Boosey, ended in a difference of opinion amongst many of the most eminent judges who have ever sat upon the bench.
The fourteen Acts of Parliament which deal with the subject were passed at different times between 1735 and 1875. They are drawn in different styles, and some are drawn so as to be hardly intelligible. Obscurity of style, however, is only one of the def ects of these Acts. Their .arrangement is often worse than their style. Of this the Copyright Act of 1842 is a conspicuous instance.
The copyright law in England at that time was found to be in a highly unsatisfactory state, and from time to time attempts were made with a view to an improvement. In- 1898, a Select Committee of the House of Lords considered a Bill brought in bv Lord Herschell, and took evidence upon it. Before much progress had been made, Lord Herschell went on a mis- sion to America, where he unfortunately died. The Bill was then taken up by Lord Monkswell, who proceeded with the evidence to the close of the session of 1898. lc then appeared to’ one of the members of the Committee, Lord Thring, that the subject might be much simplified by separating literary copyright and artistic copyright, and altering the form of the provisions. Accordingly, between the close of the session in 1898 and the re-assembling of Parliament in 1899, a Bill dealing with literary copyright was prepared by him. This Bill was submitted to the same Select Committee in 1899, and was approved by them. Artistic copyright was left to be handled bv the same member; and the Artistic Copyright Bill was drawn before the commencement of .the session of 1900. The two Bills thus framed were brought into the House of Lords by Lord Monkswell in March, 1900. A Select Committee, consisting for the most part of the same members, was appointed to consider them both. The Bill has since been passed by the House of Lords, but has not yet become law ; and that Bill, embodying the latest suggestions by those who are versed in copyright, is made the basis of the Bill before this House. If it be passed, I think we can claim to have a Copyright Act which will deal with all subjects of a similar nature comprehensively and uniformly, and’ get over a great many of the objections which have been raised to the existing English law. Further than that, it will provide for the Commonwealth a uniform system of copyright law, in place of the States- Acts, with varying details, some resting entirely on Imperial law, and others variously regulating the subject. From the author’s point of view, the present, position is exceedingly unsatisfactory. Therefore, in the interests of authors generally, it is highly desirable that we should pass at the earliest possible stage a copyright law which will give them that protection to which they are entitled. Let me state the various points which have been kept in view in approaching the subject. It is recognised that copyright is now in the nature of an international arrangement, and therefore it is desirable to so preserve the la,w as to maintain the rights which we at present enjoy, and enter into the benefit of any international arrangement which may be made in virtue of any Imperial Act of Parliament. It is also desirable to preserve in Australia any rights of copyright which are obtained in any part of the British Empire by virtue of the provisions of Imperial legislation ; and, as regards works which are produced in Australia, and with which we have power to deal, to. give adequate protection to their authors. Honorable members will see that in Part VI. of the Bill, the matters to which I have referred have been preserved. It is proposed to confer upon the owner of any copyright or performing right in any. literary, musical, or dramatic work, or artistic work, who is entitled to any protection by virtue of any Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom the protection of this measure if he will only register under its provisions. If, for instance, a person in Germany has first published a book there, and, by virtue of that publication, gets the benefit of the Berne Convention in Great Britain under the Imperial Acts, he will also get protection in Australia under this measure upon obtaining a certificate of registration under our Act. In the same way, those persons who have produced books in Australia, and who are registered under our Act, will, by virtue of the Imperial Acts, get the benefit of copyright in the United Kingdom, and also in those foreign countries which are signatories to the Berne Convention. As regards the principles of the Bill, I shall now explain how it is proposed to provide for copyright in Australia. In the first place, I ask honorable members to look at clause 7, which provides -
Subject to this and any other Act of the Parliament, the common law of England relating to proprietary rights in unpublished literary compositions, shall, after the commencement of this Act, apply throughout the Commonwealth.
The common law in a State at present gives a man the right of property in his unpublished manuscript, and he may restrain any person from printing and issuing it in that State. That common law prevails in each of the States of the Union, but it is desired to make it the common law, not of the States, but of the Commonwealth; that cannot be clone except by legislation. If a person is the proprietor of a literary manuscript in Queensland, and some person prints and publishes it, say, in Victoria, without the author’s consent, an injunction may be desired. Under this proposal a remedy may be obtained. In regard to the administration, it is provided that there shall be a registrar of copyrights, and deputyregistrars if necessary, and it is proposed to establish a Copyright Office. Under the
Bill, the administration of all the existing States Copyright Acts will be taken over by the Commonwealth. Clause 8 preserves all the rights now enjoyed under the States Acts, and clause 12 provides that the GovernorGeneral may, by proclamation, declare that after a certain date the administration of all the States Acts, so far as they relate to the registration of copyright in any book, the performing right in any musical or dramatic work, the lecturing right in any lecture, shall be transferred to the Commonwealth.
– What about cable messages ?
– I shall refer to that matter presently. After the issue of the proclamation, the States Copyright Acts will cease to be administered by the States, and the Governor-General may then exercise all the powers now exercised by the States Governors. Parts III. and IV. of the Bill deal with what is really the subject-matter of the measure - copyright. Copyright is to be recognised in any book, dramatic or musical work, lecture, or artistic work ; all of which are dealt with on a uniform principle. As I have pointed out, copyright in these different works is at present dealt with under various statutes- -varying forms of protection and remedies are applied. But under the Bill it is proposed to confer uniform rights, and, as far as possible, uniform remedies on the possessors of those rights. Copyright in a book . comes into existence only on publication, and the copyright then conferred means the exclusive right to do, or authorize any person to do, the various things specified in the Bill. It confers th.e right, for instance, to multiply copies and issue in book form, together with the right to abridge or translate. The exclusive right also -is given to convert a dramatic work into a novel, or a novel into a dramatic work, and in the case of a musical work to make new adaptations, transpositions, or setting of it in any notation. “ Book “ is defined in the interpretation clause, with which, however, I do not now propose to deal. Sub-clause 2 of clause 1:3 reads as follows: -
Copyright shall subsist in every book, whether the author is a British subject or not, which has been printed from type set up in Australia, or plates made therefrom, or from plates or negatives made in Australia in cases where type is not necessarily used, and has, after the commencement of this Act, been published in Australia, before or simultaneously with its first publication elsewhere.
It is provided that copyright shall subsist in every book, whether the author is or is not a British subject. That is practically recognising the legal decisions given in the old country, and the effect is that if a foreigner has published his book in Australia before or simultaneously with its first publication elsewhere, provided it be printed from type set up in Australia, copyrightshallsubsistinthatbookunderthis Bill. The term “simultaneously “ is used, and according to clause 5, publication, performance, or delivery - shall be deemed to be simultaneous with publication, performance, or delivery elsewhere, if the period between the publications, performances, or deliveries does not exceed fourteen days.
Part III. of the Bill, which deals with literary, musical, and dramatic copyright, contains some provisions which are new, varying as they do from the English law. For instance, the power to abridge, which is here given, is not conferred by the English Acts. I may say, before going fur- “ ther, that most of the clauses in this part of the Bill are taken from the Bill of 1900, to which I have already referred. An alteration, which is felt to be necessary for the protection of authors, has been made in the law relating to the conversion of a novel into a dramatic work and vice versa. In clause 14 it is provided that -
Performing right shall subsist in every dramatic or musical work, whether the author is a British subject or not, which has, after the commencement of this Act, been performed in public in Australia, before or simultaneously with its first performance in public elsewhere.
The performing right in a dramatic or musical work confers the exclusive right to perform it or authorize its performance in public. Under clause 32, in, cases where a dramatic or musical work has been published as a book, there is provision made for notice of reservation of the performing right. In regard to lecture rights, the Bill is a distinct advance onthe English law. According to the English Act of 1835, if protection is desired in the case of a lecture, two days’ notice has to be given to two justices of the peace within a distance of five miles at least from the place of delivery, and it has been found that that really affords no protection whatever. It is proposed by the Bill to protect lecture rights, but if the lecturer does not desire his work to be reported, he must give notice according to clause 33. That is to say, a newspaper will be entitled to report any lecture delivered in public, in which a lecturing right exists;, unless the lecturer-
– I suppose that a condensed notice of a lecture would not be held to infringe a lecturing right?
– A mere notification of the fact that a lecture had been given would not be held to infringe the lecturing right. Provided no substantial reproduction of the lecture appeared in the report the lecturing right would not be infringed. The object is to preserve to the lecturer his right to deliver his own lecture.
– Does not clause 33 make a more stringent provision than is intended ?
– I do not think so. It provides that -
Unless the reporting of a lecture is prohibited by a notice, as in this section mentioned, the lecturing right in a lecture shall not be infringed by a report of the lecture in a newspaper.
Then provision is made for the notice to which I have already referred.
– Could a review of a lecture be given?
– It all depends on the mature of the review. The report might possibly include a criticism of the lecture, but it must not reproduce the lecture in such a way as to substantially interfere with the lecturing right. If a lecturer consents in writing to the publication of his lecture as a book the lecturing right ceases. That is provided for in another clause.
– Ifa series of lectures are to be given on the same subject, one notice by the lecturer is to be considered sufficient ?
– Where one lecture is delivered on one night, and another on another night, different reporters may be sent to report them, and it is surely not too much to ask the owner of the lecturing right to give a notice prohibiting the report in each case. The power given under this Bill might be used for the purpose of blackmailing newspapers.
– I think it will be found to be sufficient if the notice is given, as required by the section. The question is one which the honorable and learned member can more appropriately raise in Committee. The date at which copyright in a book, performing right in a dramatic work, musical work,or lecturing right in a lecture, shall begin is dealt with in clause 16, which provides that -
– The Bill does not clearly define what a performance is.
– The decisions on that point are sufficiently complete, and it is therefore unnecessary to include them in this Bill. Clause 17 deals with the very important question of the term for which copyright shall subsist. I have already reminded honorable members of the fact that under the Act of 1842 copyright is given for the period provided for in this Bill. As introduced, this measure provided for a longer term, but honorable members will not be asked to confer copyright for a longer period than is proposed by the Bill as it stands.
– As the owner of a lecturing right is given forty-two years’ protection, does not the Minister think that he might be required to give fuller notice of prohibition of the right to report his lecture than is demanded of him in this Bill?
– I think that is hardlynecessary. Each time he delivers his lecture inany particular place, he must give public notice in the way prescribed if he desires to preserve his right.
-He may profess to give a series of twelve lectures, though they may have no necessary connexion-
– It has been questioned whether the period named provides for a sufficiently long term of copyright. Mark Twain, in giving evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Lords, maintained that copyright should really be perpetual, for the sake of the “ immortals,” as he termed them. He reckoned that the number of British authors in a century whose works survived forty-two years was only sixty-five. He allotted to each of them ten volumes, and concluded that 650 volumes was the total of surviving volumes in a century, and he went on to ask -
Why should the richest nation on the earth, by limiting copyright, annually take out of the pockets of the children of the little handful of illustrious men the trifling sums which they would derive from the sale of these volumes?
A long term of copyright is really necessary to give ample protection in the case of many large works which require the greatest effort in their production - works of history, for instance.
– It is very often a long time before they are appreciated.
– That is so. In many instances works of history and philosophy for a number of years do not attain their deserved circulation. Many of the leading text-books, adopted in various scholastic institutions, have been published for years before their authors really derived any benefit from them. There is really substantial justification for the contention that the term of copyright provided for by this Bill is’ too short, but I think that if we succeededin passing the measure as proposed, we may rest satisfied for the present. It is provided, as regards the ownership of copyright, that the author of a book shall be the first owner of the copyright in the book, the author of a musical or dramatic work shall be the first owner of the performing right in that work, and the author of a lecture the first owner of the lecturing right of that lecture. In all these cases the owner will be entitled to deal with his copyright on such terms as he thinks fit. He can assign it wholly or partially, and can confer upon his assignees the same protection as is given under the Bill to himself. The Bill also makes provision for the protection of joint authors, and in the case of the proprietors of encyclopaedias. Copyrightin articles published in periodicals is specially dealt with. These, however, aredetails which can be more conveniently considered in Committee than on the second reading of the Bill, and, therefore, I shall not deal with them further at this stage.It is provided that copyright shall be deemed to be personal property. The copyright in a book, the performing rightin a dramatic or musical work, and the lecturing right in a lecture, are to be regarded in the eyes of the law as personal property, capable of assignment or transmission by the operation of law; but every assignment must be in writing, signed by the owner of the right in respect of which it is made or granted. The Bill deals also with new additions, translations, and abridgments, but these are matters more appropriate to consideration in Committee than to an exposition of the principles of a measure on its second reading. The Bill also deals with the protection proposed to be given to newspapers. The question is one around which a great deal of discussion is likely to centre, and I prefer to deal with it fully in Committee. Artistic copyright is dealt with in an entirely separate part of the Bill. It has been decided in England that the protection given to artistic work under the Imperial Act is confined to Great Britain itself. In the case of Graves v. Gorrie, Law Reports Appeal Cases (1903), 496, it was decided that the Fine Arts Copyright Act of 1862 granted protection only within the United Kingdom. So far as Australia is concerned, therefore, if we desire to give the protection of copyright to artistic works, the matter must be provided for completely in our law. Part IV. 0/ the Bill accordingly gives to the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to reproduce or authorize any other person to reproduce his artistic work, or any material part of it in any manner, form, or size, in any material, or by any process, or for any purpose. The Bill declares that the author of an artistic work shall be the first owner of the copyright in the work. It makes the copyright in an artistic work personal property, and capable of assignment in a similar manner. to literary copyright. Copyright is also given in the case of photographs.
– Is not that rather a dangerous innovation ?
– It is a right conferred elsewhere, and a right to which the producers of photographs are distinctly entitled. In many cases photographs are works of art of considerable merit, demanding an exercise of artistic skill. For instance, in the case of photographs of landscapes and scenery generally, and of particular incidents in connexion with historic events, the photographer is entitled to reward for the exercise of artistic skill in the selection of his subject and also in the execution of his picture.
– What term of copyright is given for photographs?
– The same period of copyright is given as in other cases.
– I do not think that should be.
– The question is one which can be discussed in Committee, but. the principle that the producer of an artistic photograph should be entitled to copyright is, in my_ opinion, a proper principle. If a person orders a photograph and pays- for it, he becomes the owner of the copyright, but if the photographer himself produces the photograph, or employs some person to do it for him, he gets the protection, under this Bill for the work produced by him or on his account.
– Suppose three persons- produce a representation of a particular place?
– Each is entitled to copyright in his own representation. The subjectmatter is common to everybody.
– Exactly ; that is the difficulty.
– The method of treatment is where the originality comes in.
– Is it proposed to give thesame protection for the photograph of aplace as for a photograph commemorating; an important event?
– It is proposed to give the same .protection to a man who has produced a photograph of a scene as to the man who has produced a photograph, for instance, of the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament, or some other historicincident in the life of a nation.
– To my mind the two things are quite different. The Bill may prevent persons from taking photographs.
– I think that it does not contain any provision which will have that effect. However, the matter can be considered in Committee. Part V. deals with infringement of copyright,, and sets out the remedies given to those whose copyright is infringed. Under clause. 75, which iscontained in Part VII. -
The owner of any copyright or performingright under this Act, or of any interest therein by licence shall not be entitled to bring any actionor suit or institute any proceedings for any infringement of the copyright or performing right unless such right or interest has been registered? in pursuance of this Act.
At common law one man may restrain another from printing his unpublished manuscript, and, as I have already pointed out,, the effect of publication is, under the Bill to give the writer a copyright; but, if he wishes to obtain the remedies provided ir» the Bill, he must register it. Immediately he does so his copyright is preserved to him as from, the date of publication. Therefore, if any one infringes- his copyright after publication, and before registration, the owner of the copyright may bring an action for penalties or damages, or to secure the protection to which he is entitled under the Bill.
– Is there any limitation of time ?
– Yes. Clause 49 provides that -
No action for any infringement of copyright, performing right, or lecturing right under this Act shall be maintainable unless it is commenced within two years next after the infringement is committed.
– Why is a distinction made between copyright in letterpress and copyright in an artistic work?
– They are dealt with in different parts because, while the English Acts dealing with copyright extend to the Commonwealth, the English Fine Arts Act does not do so, and1 consequently, if we wish to give protection to fine arts> we must d’o so under, our own law.
– What I mean is that if a writer publishes an article he retains the copyright, but if an artist paints a picture, or if a sculptor executes a bust, he loses the copyright in it should he sell his work, unless it is preserved by a special contract with the purchaser.
– Under clause 42 he does not lose the copyright in it, but he loses the right to reproduce it. When any one pays a large sum of money for a picture, or other work of art, he does so partly to obtain exclusive possession of it, and if the artist had an unlimited right to reproduce it much of this value would be lost. Books, however, are produced to be sold in large numbers, for the sake of the profit attaching to the sale of so many individual copies. The Bill provides that the artist may make such arrangements as he chooses in regard to matters of this sort. It seems to me only right that if a man pays a large sum’ for a particular work of art, he should have the right to forbid its reproduction if he chooses to do so. Those who own the copyright in a book, the performing right in a dramatic or musical work, the lecturing right in a lecture, or the copyright in an artistic work, may maintain an action for damages or penalties or profits, and for an injunction, or for any of those remedies. Clause 47 deals with the assessment of damages. Then, under clause 48, if a defendant disputes, a plaintiff’s title, he must plead the fact, state the grounds on which the plea is founded, and the name of the person alleged to be the owner of the copyright, when it will become a question of fact, to be determined by the Court, whether the plaintiff really is the owner. Clause 50 provides that all pirated books and all pirated artistic works shall be deemed to be the property of the owner of the copyright, and may be recovered by him by action or other lawful method. Clause 51 makes it an offence to sell, let for hire, expose for sale, distribute, exhibit in public, or import into Australia, any pirated book or pirated artistic work. A justice of the peace may, upon the application of the owner of a copyright, if satisfied that there is reasonable ground for believing that pirated books or pirated artistic works are being sold or offered for sale in any house, shop, or other place, issue a warrant authorizing any constable to search the place and seize them. Then;, under clause 57, notice may be given to the police that pirated books or other pirated works are being hawked in the streets, authorizing them to seize them, and every police constable who so seizes any books or works shall forthwith bring them before a Court of summary jurisdiction, which, on the application of the person interested, may mate an order for their disposal as it thinks just. Special protection is also given to those who have performing rights in connexion with dramatic or musical works. If it be found that such rights are being; infringed in any theatre,, the proprietor, tenant, or occupier becomes liable to certain penalties. That is only a just provision. I have already explained Part VI. of the Bill, which preserves rights conferred by virtue of any Imperial Act, either in foreign countries or in Great Britain. Part VII. deals with the registration of copyrights. I have now ex, plained the general provisions of the Bill, which can be dealt with more effectively in Committee than- by means of a general discussion. If honorable members will assist to pass this Bill they will confer upon all authors their just rights, and place upon our statute-book a measure which, 1 think, will rank as one of the most complete copyright Acts that any Parliament has been privileged to pass.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Conroy) ad,journed
In Committee (Consideratio.ni of Senate’s message) :
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert new clause 21 in lieu of new clause inserted by the Senate :- “ …. (2) The number of licences in the Territory may be reduced or licences may be abolished in the Territory in accordance with this section….. “
Senate’s Amendment. - Amendment agreed to with the following amendment : - “ Insert after sub-clause 2 : 1 But so that no compensation shall be payable in respect of the loss or abolition of any licence hereunder.’ “
– I move - .
That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
The Senate has accepted the new clause 21, passed by this House, but desires to add to sub-clause 2 the following words : - “But so that no compensation shall be payable in respect of the loss or abolition of any licence hereunder.” That simply puts into words what is already the effect of the existing law, and as we have embodied in the Bill the other provisions contained in the Ordinances of the Possession I see no objection to the amendment.
– Under the circumstances I have no objection to the amendment, but I should certainly have opposed any such provision if the existing law had not already contained it. I do not think that where men have for many years carried on a business, practically on the understanding that as long as1 they conducted themselves honorably and reasonably, they would obtain a renewal of their licences, it would be just for the Government to suddenly declare that their houses might be closed up with out compensation. I have not had time to study the Ordinances that govern these matters, and, therefore. I am bound to accept the statement of the Prime Minister. Do I understand that no claim for compensation can be made under the existing law ?
– That is so.
– We are now providing that after the commencement of the Act, licences shall not be granted in excess of the number in existence at the commencement of the Act; and, further, we are making provision that the number of licences in the Territory may be reduced or abolished in accordance with a vote of the white residents. Therefore, we are subjecting the holders of licences to entirelynew conditions. Originally the holders of the licences entered upon their business in the belief that, so long as they conducted their .business decently their licences would be renewed from year to year. The only reason that the licences are issued yea::y isto enable the authorities to exercise control.
– Also to allow of an imcrease in the licence fees or of any other desirable changes..
– Exactly. It is possible that some of the licensees may have spent fairly large sums of money upon their premises.
– That is impossible, except in one or two cases in S’amarai, because the up-country licensees are merely storekeepers
– In that case, practically no compensation would have to be paid in any event. It is now proposed that no compensation shall be payable in respect of any licences, and that leads me to the point that we are travelling rather beyond the original scope of the clause, and proposing to do something that may be open to grave question. However just the end may be, we are not warranted in adopting unjust means in order to attain it.
– Does the honorable member regard as unjust such a provision as that now proposed by the Senate?
– It may be so- I do not know that it is. The proposed provision will make it clear that no compensation will, be payable to any licensee for the closing, up of his business. I quite agree that that provision may be justly made in regard to any licence issued in the future, but the man who has previously held a licencestands iri! an entirely different position. It is perfectly clear that we are now asked to abolish licences without paying, any compensation whatever in respect of their cancellation.
– Does the honorable and learned member maintain that compensation is payable under the clause as it. stands ?
– I am afraid that it is not.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that a legitimate demand for compensation could be made under the existing law ?
– I mean to say that provision ought always to be made for an appeal for justice. Nothing which is founded upon an injustice is right. If nineteen or twenty persons have embarked in a business in the belief that whilst they pursued their calling decently, and did not transgress the law, they would be entitled to obtain a renewal of their licences from year to year, we ought not to step in and say, “ We will cancel your licences ‘without paying you any compensation.”
– A licence can be cancelled at any time.
– But there is an unwritten understanding that so long as men conduct their businesses decently-
– When a man takes out a licence he knows that it is issued for twelve months only, and that it may be discontinued at the end of that period.
– But he also knows that the reason why control is exercised over him from year to year is to insure that he shall conduct his business in a proper manner. He has the unwritten assurance, arising from hundreds of precedents, that so long as he does not transgress the law he will not be interfered with.
– There is nothing in the Licensing Act to induce him to think that.
– There is everything in the ordinary practice of civilized life to lead him to think it.
– Common sense says “No.”
– Common sense says that so long as he conducts his business in a proper manner he is entitled to a renewal of his licence.
– The licence is issued to meet the public requirements - not to suit his convenience.
– -If the public do not require liquor, the best condition of all will come about, because his business will close in the natural order of things. Under this proposal, nineteen or twenty men who have been conducting the liquor trade in the Territory for years past, may suddenly have their livelihood taken away from them without being granted any compensation whatever. Iam surprised to find that even the warmest advocates of temperance can imagine that their cause will be advanced by inflicting injustice. They ought not , to endeavour to bring about a great moral reform in an immoral way. Let us divest ourselves of the idea that the traffic in question is a traffic in liquor.
Let us imagine that it is a grocer’s or a tobacconist’s trade.
– But it is not.
– Would the honorable member be surprised to learn that far more harm results from over-eating than from excessive drinking?
– The honorable and learned member’s remarks are scarcely in order.
– I am merely pointing out the reasons for or against the payment of compensation. I say that it is absolutely wrong for any body of men to declare that a business which has been lawfully conducted in the past shall be suddenly closed without any compensation being paid to the persons chiefly affected by our action. In this connexion, I say that far more people are injured by excessive eating than by excessive drinking. Every physiologist says that. The evil results may not be so directly apparent-
-What is the honorable and learned member’s authority for that statement ?
– I am sure that the Chairman himself would have no hesitation in saying that far more people suffer from over-eating than from excessive drinking. The proposal under consideration goes a great deal too far. I am sure that this House - setting aside its own views as to whether or not temperance is a good thing - will recognise that we should not interfere with any body of men who are honestly conducting their business in accordance with the law unless we are prepared to compensate them in some way. Hitherto, however, it has been the rule that, provided a man conducts his business in an honorable and straightforward way, his licence shall be renewed as a matter of course.
– Would the honorable and learned member be prepared to compensate a man if he lost his business because of the abolition of a Customs duty under which he had carried on that business for twentyfive years?
– In other words, the honorable member wishes to know whether, in the event of my rendering it impossible for a man to continue taking five shillings or six shillings out of his pocket every day, I ought to compensate that man. I do not think that he should be compensated.
– We say the same of the publican.
– The honorable member is placing the business of the publican and the thief on the same level.
– No. The honorable and learned member ought not to speak of thieves in this connexion.
– There is not much difference between the case which the honorable member cited and the illustration which I gave. It is a case of legal robbery in the one instance and not in the other. The point is, that at present we are asked to render it impossible for those whose licences are taken from them to obtain compensation. It is true that a demand for compensation may never arise, but I can imagine the eloquence with which some honorable members would oppose such an application ; I can imagine the warmth with which they would declare that they were opposed to the consumption of intoxicants of every kind. I should like to know whether many of those honorable members are as much opposed as I am to the abuse of intoxicants. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports once suggested that we should do away with the means of obtaining intoxicants, because they might lead to all persons becoming drunkards. It is nearly four years since I showed that it might just as reasonably be said that because some men, having the means at their disposal, lead debauched lives, we should deprive all men of such means, lest they might be led to do the same. We are entering upon a course which, to my mind, is not founded upon justice. No honorable member could be more desirous than I am of closing up ,sly-grog shops, illicit stills, and anything calculated to encourage a tendency on the part of the people to abuse intoxicants. But if we go too far, the result will be that which has followed the application of too stringent liquor laws to the State of New York. By so much as we make the trade of selling intoxicants disreputable, by so much shall we tend to demoralize the whole business. The demoralization of the trade does not lead to the abolition of the consumption of intoxicants ; experience shows that the only result is the creation of sly-grog shops. This is not the first attempt on the part of a Legislature to put an end to the liquor traffic. Hundreds of attempts have been made by various Parliaments to exercise some control over it, and yet, just as the people have come to regard the immoderate use of intoxicants as deserving of the severest condemnation, it is proposed to adopt a course which, to my mind, must lead to undesirable results. When an evil in one form is repressed, it often arises in> half-a-dozen different forms that are far worse than the- original. Who would havethought that the application of too stringent liquor laws to the State of New York would lead to the wholesale corruption and demoralization of the police force? Who would have thought that it would lead to the trade passing into the hands of a demoralized section of the community, determined to break the law, despite anything that might be done ? The evidence of one of the chief men in the police force of New York is that the stringent liquor laws of that State are largely responsible for the demoralization of the force there - that the police can obtain so much money by shutting their eyes to much of what is going on that these laws have led to a new class of evil. If this House determines to make it possible for persons *o be deprived, without compensation, 01 the right to carry on a business lawfully entered upon by them in days gone by, it will perpetrate an injustice. It is wrong to assume that because licences must- be renewed annually they may without reason be taken away at the end of the period for which they are issued. It is in order to secure proper .supervision that a yearly application for a renewal of the licence is required. When has a man been refused a renewal of his licence, so long as he has carried on the business in a reputable way ? I can- recall scarcely an instance where it has been done. Surely a man, of that type is entitled to receive some consideration for the withdrawal of his licence .’ This amendment can only apply to existing licensees in Papua. In the future every man will enter into the business with his eyes open. Suppose that, during the last year, a man has spent ^1,000 in the erection of a large accommodation house to be carried on in connexion with his licensed premises at Samarai. He would not . have incurred that expenditure except in the belief that so long as he conducted his business reasonably the licence would be renewed from vear to year, and that if not renewed he would be granted, if not money compensation, at least time compensation of, say, five years. Of late years the tendency had been to give men a sort of warning that! if they enter into the business they will do so subject to certain restrictions, but that warning has not yet been placed upon the statute-book. I contend that citizens who have been honestly carrying on a licensed business ought not to be interfered with unless they are to receive some compensation for the expense to which they have been put. Many great believers in temperance think it is a pity that more moderate action in that respect has not been taken. So. far ‘back as 1891 I was strongly in favour of a measure to give the people full control over all publichouses. At the same time, I held that, since men had been allowed to commence this business under the protection of the law, they should be allowed some kind of compensation, if their business were taken from them. We believed that a reasonable time compensation was about five years, but various other measures were devised. If the suggestions of the moderate men of New South Wales had been carried out, today the people would have had full power to deal with the liquor trade, and the reforms which are expected to arise from the abolition of public-houses would have been made possible.
– Ten years ago reasonable time-notice was offered to the publicans.
– The licensees in Papua are not met with a proposal of that kind. I do not hold any shares in breweries or hotels; nor do I build such premises. I hold just as strong views about the abuses which arise from excessive drinking as any honorable members mav do. But I think that no Parliament ought to take a step in a direction where even an injustice may arise to men who have been’ carrying on their occupation according to law. It is to the honest, law-abiding licensees, not to the breakers of the law, that some compensation is due. The former will often refuse to supply drink to men ; they conduct their business decently and straightforwardly; and to this class, even if it be numerically small, we should show some consideration in framing this provision.
– Even if this amendment were not in the Bill they would have no claim for compensation.
– Although in the absence of the amendment they would have no legal claim, still they would have a moral claim to compensation. If I thought that it would put an end to the drinking habit in New Guinea, and that no illicit means of obtaining liquor would at once arise, I should vote to-morrow to close every licensed place there. It is because I believed that the evils resulting from the closing of the licensed houses would far exceed the evils arising from their continued existence that I voted to continue the granting of licences. Some persons, think that because, in this case, a man opposes what he believes to be an injustice he is necessarily in sympathy with the dreadful abuse which results from the excessive use of liquor. No person who knows my views could think that of me for a moment. But for party purposes it is sometimes reported outside that a man believes in the abuses which result from the use of liquor simply because he opposes the inconsiderate manner in which certain men desire to achieve a great reform. It is because I believe that great good would result from some part of the reform which has been advocated that T hold that it .ought not to be founded upon the slightest injustice. It is too good a reform to be started with the doing of an injury to certain persons who have been lawfully and reputably carrying on their business, and in the belief that so long as they did so they would be entitled to a certain amount of consideration! from the Government.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has been using arguments which have been worn threadbare in the States. In Victoria a system of monetary compensation has been established, I believe, with the aid of the hotelkeepers - and it has almost broken down under the financial strain to which it has been subjected. If the idea of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa were carried into effect we might find, as in an instance of which we have some knowledge, that there was lack of money with which to pay the compensation. As to the honorable and learned member’s argument about overeating, we know that, rightly or wrongly, manythousands of people in Australia have adopted vegetarian and other reform diets, but the question has not yet been put forward whether the butcher, the baker, and other tradesmen are in .these respects entitled to any compensation. Would the honorable and learned member for Werriwa seriously contend1 that1, under such circumstances, compensation should be paid? Then, again, people, by properlydieting themselves, may so improve their health as to make the services of a doctor practically unnecessary ; but would it be contended that the medical profession was on that ground entitled to compensation? In fact, the whole argument is absurd. The idea of compensation, either by means of money or by notice, in the liquor trade, has for a long time been abandoned. I am in favour of the Bill, not on account of the interests of the white population, but solely from consideration for the interests of the many thousands of blacks who are now under our control in the Territory. In my opinion, it is rank absurdity to extend local option to the white population of New Guinea. I do not for one moment think that the white population would vote for restricting the number of licences, much less for no licence; so that the idea of giving compensation may at once be dismissed. The Bill very rightly does away, not only with any legal claim, but with any moral claim, there might be to compensation on the part of those now engaged in the liquor trade. If any compensation has to be paid in connexion with the liquor trade, some attention might be directed to the numerous inmates of lunatic asylums, and other institutions, who have been brought to ruin by drink. The argument for compensation may be pursued until one reaches a reductio ad absurdum. For instance, people might ask for compensation on account of [the excessive cost of police supervision rendered imperative by the liquor traffic. I am prepared to vote for the Bill as amended in order to doubly emphasize the principle of no compensation. The proposal to give compensation is absurd. Where it has been attempted in Victoria the system is breaking down from its own weight.
– It has broken down.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports informs us that it has broken down. In certain districts in Victoria, where the number of licences has ‘ been reduced, by a vote of the people, the hotels will be kept open, because the Government are unable to find fund’s to meet the claims for compensation.
– Although I listened with great attention to the arguments submitted by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa;. I failed to discover that he had any solid ground! on which he could defend the principle of granting compensation to those whose licences are likely to be affected under the provisions of this Bill. The honorable and learned member’s contention is practically that, while those who may engage in the business after the passing of the Bill will not be entitled to compensation because cf the warning contained in the measure, stilt in the absence of any such warning in the past those who have already engaged in the business should receive compensation.. The honorable and learned member further contends that, though they may not be legally entitled to compensation, they are morally entitled to it, and that to refuse to recognise their moral claim tq compensation would be to attempt to administer the law on a basis of injustice. Let us examine the terms on which these licences are granted, in order that we may see whether there is any moral justification for a claim for compensation In the event of a renewal of the licence being refused. It must be borne in mind that these licencesare issued for twelve months^ and no longer. When a person engages in a business orr the strength of a licence granted for only twelve months;, he cannot claim to be compensated in the event of a refusal to renew the licence at the expiration of that term. In the beginning he receives the licence for twelve months only, without any undertaking, implied or otherwise, that it will be renewed at the expiration of that period. He takes the risk, and it is agambling risk, so far as he is concerned.
– The honorable memberdoes not mean to say that the law encourages gambling?
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa knows very well that 1 do not ; but I say that a man who takes a licence for twelve months, and on the off chance that he will get it renewed’ at the expiration of that time, incurs expenditure, takes a gambling risk.
– In which the law encourages him.
-I do not take that view. If, on the assumption that his licence will be renewed, and without any guarantee or promise, given or implied,, to that effect, the licensee makes provision for the extension of his business beyond the term for which his licence isi issued, he does so entirely at his own risk. If he subsequently finds that he has made amiscalculation he must take the consequences. I fail to see that he suffers in any way, because it must be remembered that he has lost nothing for which he should be compensated. He has had the- benefit of the right to conduct his business for twelve months, and he has his furniture intact at the expiration of that time.
– The honorable member will surely admit that a great deal of it can only be used in the particular business for which the licence is granted1?
– That may be true, but he har had1 the use of it in that business for the twelve months. If he undertakes to lay out more money than he can reasonably expect to recover from his business during the twelve months, the risk taken is one for which he must himself be responsible. If, for example, a man on getting a licence for twelve months builds large premises, and furnishes them in a palatial manner by the expenditure of an amount altogether beyond what he might expect to make .in profit as the result of twelve months’ business, in the quite unfounded belief that the licence will be renewed in perpetuity, the State is certainly under no moral obligation to compensate h,im> if reasons are shown why a renewal of his licence should not be granted1. If in such circumstances he has a moral right to demand compensation, he could himself regulate the amount of compensation which he might demand by the amount of money he chose to spend during the currency of his licence. No such principle would be recognised in ordinary business transactions. An attempt is made to recognise some difference in principle where a Government gives a lease or a licence, and where a private individual does the same thing. If a private individual gives a lease of business premises to another for twelve months, who will contend that if the lessor decides not to renew the lease at the end of the twelve months, the lessee will be entitled to compensation? We know that persons conduct ordinary business on very slender tenures, at times without any certainty that their leases will be renewed, ‘and what is true of the private lessor, in respect to the absence of an obligation on him, to renew any lease, is equally true of a Government in connexion with the renewal of licences. If it were accepted as a principle that the granting of a licence for twelve months carried with it a right of renewal, subject to good behaviour, the licence so granted would be regarded as granted in- perpetuity ; but who will argue that these licences are so regarded ? What is the term at the end of which a licence may be refused, if it may not be refused at any time when a renewal is asked for?
– Compensation should be given on refusal to renew a licence, not for the licensee’s loss of business, but for his having tu change from one business to another.
– If that were so, it would apply with even greater force in the case of a refusal to renew a lease after a man had worked up a large and profitable trade in a given locality, and had to remove his business elsewhere and start anew. Licences are granted for twelve months, subject to good behaviour, and may be cancelled before the expiration of the term, if business is improperly conducted under them. But it cannot be argued that because business has been properly conducted under them the Governments which have issued them are under the moral obligation to renew them.
– Some of the most ardent temperance reformers have thought that it would hasten reform to agree to compensation.
– I do not take that view. Licences are granted subject to the good behaviour of the licensee, and there is no obligation on the part of the Government which grants them to renew them. There is no understanding, either written or implied, that these licences shall be renewed.
– I think there is that understanding where licences have been renewed year after year.
– No more so than in the case of a lease which has been renewed from time to time. A practice may be followed year after year, but. if it be wrong in principle there is no reason why it should not be stopped at any moment.
– The practice of renewing licences is not wrong in principle.
– It would be wrong to recognise claims for renewals as rights inherent in the licensees, and it is such a recognition that encourages the spirit of gambling in connexion with this business. It must- be remembered, moreover, that if compensation were given, in most cases it would benefit, not the licensees, but the brewers, who own what are known as tied houses, and take the profit and advantages of the business done there. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa) argues that the adoption of the amendment will make it clear to those engaged in the liquor traffic in Papua that they are not to expect compensation, but that we must recognise the moral obligation to compensate all engaged in the business under the old condition of things. If we were to recognise the principle of compensation, we should have to determine who should pay it, and should have to differentiate between the compensation due to the licensee who had been in business for six months, and that clue to the licensees who had been in business’ for various periods of longer duration - creating a sort of sliding scale.
– No difficulty should be too great to face in the interests of justice.
– There is no justice in the claim for compensation. I could understand that the honorable and learned member might see a sentimental reason for giving compensation, but, in my opinion, he has advanced no logical reason for doing so. I have heardhim advance many arguments in this Chamber, but none more vulnerable than are those put forward this afternoon. He must give much stronger reasons before he will make me a convert to his way of thinking. Let me put the matter in another way. There are many cases in which the action of Governments injures the business of private individuals without any claim being advanced by the latterforcompensation. For instance, when a railway is constructed through any district, it throws out of employment those engaged there in the transport of passengers and goods by means of coaches, waggons, and other vehicles, and also injures indirectly those with whom the coach proprietors, teamsters, and others connected with the carrying trade do business. Compensation, however,is never asked for by anv of these persons, nor would it be paid if it were asked for. They are persons who have created vested interests, and suffer actual and ascertainable loss bv the competition of the railway, and surelv if the payment of compensation is not justifiable in their case, it is not justifiable in the case of the licensee of an hotel. On the other hand, compensation is never paid by the publicans or brewers to those who are impoverished, sometimes rendered homeless, and often entirely deprived of the labours of him who should be their breadwinner, because of the effect of the intoxicating liquors supplied to him.
We have only to look at the newspapers to find them teeming with reports of cases in which women have been made widows ana children fatherless by the action of the publican, but we have never heard of claims for compensation being made upon those responsible forthe mischief.
– In San Francisco wages have to be paid.
– It is a pity that that provision is not in force in Australia. If claims of this sort were set up we should soon hear no more of demands for compensation by licensees. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has failed to see the true inwardness of this question, and has entirely misconceived the position. Iam heartily in accord with the Senate’s amendment, and I shall support it.
– I was opposed to the new clause 21, adopted by this Committee, because I thought that special measures should have been taken to protect the natives, estimated to number anything between 500,000 and 1,000,000, against the ravages of strong drink. I was perfectly prepared to give the white residents the right, to regulate the drink traffic, so far as their own requirements were concerned, but I recognise the difficulty of doing this, and, at the same time, sufficiently safeguarding the interests of the Papuans.. However, the Committee, in its wisdom, has seen fit to leave the natives to the tender mercies of the white residents, and we now have to consider whether we shall, under the circumstances, admit the right of the present licensees to claim compensation in the event of their places of business being closed through the operation of the local option provisions of the Bill. Some honorable members have argued thatthe annual renewal of licences confers upon the licensees a right to compensation. This matterhas engaged considerable attention in. the Commonwealth, and has been the subject of a number of judicial decisions, the majority of which have been entirely opposed to the contention that the granting of a licence confers any right beyond that of selling liquors for the period for which the licence extends. In Papua, there are only twenty-one licensees, and these enjoy a monopoly of the liquor trade; and no doubt the fact that the licences are granted from year to year, and, subject to the good conduct of the licensee, arerenewed from time to time, has given rise to the idea that a vested interest has been created which should be recognised in the event of the licences being cancelled. I do not think, however, that any right to compensation should be admitted. We know that in connexion with land transactions, leases are granted for a certain period, and that improvements are effected by lessees, but when the interests of the public require that the land shall be resumed, no right to compensation is recognised. It is fully understood that the lessees’ improvements are made for their own advantage during the currency of their leases, and the same thing would apply to the holders of liquor licences. The licences are granted for a specified period, and although they are frequently renewed, the option of disallowance rests with the State, and no vested interest is created. It should be made clear on the face of the Bill that no claims ror compensation can be recognised in the event of disallowance through the operation of the local option provisions of the measure. I should like the Prime Minister to go a step further and confer upon the white residents of New Guinea enlarged powers of local self-government, and the right of trial by jury.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Honorable members who have spoken in favour of the Senate’s amendment have argued as if full local option were being granted to the white residents of Papua. As a matter of fact, however, the powers of the white residents are limited to the reduction or abolition of licences. Although we have made provision by which the number of licences may be reduced, we have not conferred upon the residents of the Possession any power to increase that number. How, then, can it be urged that we havegranted full local option to New Guinea? Those honorable members who have spoken upon this subject do not thoroughly grasp the effect of the clauses which have been inserted in the Bill. The highest authorities in the world are in conflict upon the question of compensation. Some of the staunchest advocates of temperance declare that a certain amount of compensation should be granted. If effect had been given to that policy in New South Wales, there is no doubt that a Liquor Bill, very much on the lines of that which has recently been passed, would have become law thirteen or fourteen years ago. But under the . proposal pf the Senate we are asked to go much further than that. Whilst denying compensation to licensees whose licences are cancelled, we prevent the residents of the Territory from saying whether or not licences shall be issued in various districts. We are taking a step that we would not dare to take in any State Parliament in the Commonwealth. The whole of the criticism passed upon the Senate’s amendment has been based upon the supposition that we have allowed full local option to the residents of British New Guinea. We have done nothing of the sort. We have taken away from themthe right to say that licences should be granted in particular localities.
– Do not take away from us the right to vote upon this question before half-past 6 o’clock.
– I cannot consider a suggestion of that sort when a matter of such great importance is under discussion.
– A publicans’ matter.
– As the clause stood, it would have been open to us, if a manifest case of injustice arose, to vote a sum of money to compensate any person who had been injured by the adoption of a great social reform. If we accept the amendment of the Senate it will not be open to us to do that. One honorable member who possesses a knowledge of the Territory has declared that it is not likely that any case worthy of our consideration will arise. That, however, is not the point at issue. It is admitted that in one or two districts some persons have been conducting their businesses in a reputable way for years. Yet it is now proposed that their licences shall be taken away from them, notwithstanding that they may have expended a couple of hundred pounds during the past few months in effecting repairs to their premises. They have acted upon the supposition that Parliament will not do an injustice to anybody.
– Let us finish this discussion before the hour of adjournment for dinner.
– Does the Prime Minister suppose that this question can be disposed of in that light way? The proposal is one which would not be passed without serious consideration bv anv deliberative assembly.
The Committee having resumed after the dinner adjournment -
– I will state the question-
– I call attention to the state of the Committee.
– At the end of subclause 2, it is proposed-
– I have already directed your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that there is not a quorum present.
– Chair !
– I have called attention to the want of a quorum, and recognise no Chairman until a quorum has been formed.
– Order ! Will the honorable and learned member take his seat ?
– I have called attention to the-
– If the honorable and learned member does not resume his seat, I shall proceed to name him.
– No business can be transacted until we have a quorum.
– The honorable and learned member ought to know that when the Chairman is on his feet he must not be, interrupted.
– Before you rose I called attention to the state of the Committee.
– The honorable and learned gentleman did not do anything of the sort.
– I appeal to honorable members to say whether I did not do so.
– I shall state the question, and then see if there is a quorum present.
– I object. The first duty of the Chairman is to see that there is a quorum present.
– The honorable and learned member wishes to override the Chair.
– I ask that Mr. Speaker be called in under the Standing Orders to see whether or not there is a quorum present.
– The honorable and learned member must not be disorderly. The question is that the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I contend that, as provided by the Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker should be called in to determine whether there is a quorum present. I have called attention to the want of a quorum some six or seven times.
– The honorable and learned member is mis-stating what really occurred. As soon as I took the chair after the dinner adjournment, I proceeded, in the ordinary way, to state the business before the Committee. The honorable and learned member, without rising from his seat, said something which I did not hear, and then proceeded to assert that he had the right to interrupt the Chairman. I could not allow such conduct. I should be utterly unfit for my position if I permitted an honorable member to so abuse the rules of the House. Now that I have stated the question, the honorable and learned member may proceed.
– As I understand, Mr. Chairman, that there was no intention on your part to slight me by disregarding my request, I shall not ask that notice be taken of the state of the Committee.
– The honorable and learned member will always find that I am prepared to treat honorable members with courtesy ; but I shall not allow honorable members to so abuse their position as to disregard the instructions of the Chair.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I think ihat nearly every honorable member is anxious that as far as possible intoxicants shall not be placed within the reach of the natives of Papua. Had it been thought that this desire could be carried out by means of prohibition, there is no doubt that the Committee would have applied that principle to the Territory. But as representations were made by a member of another place who had visited New Guinea, as well as By the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs and the missionaries - who are just as anxious as we are that the drink traffic shall not reach the natives - that intoxicants should be admitted subject to certain regulations, we decided to adopt that course. A new clause was introduced providing that fresh licences should not be issued, and that a poll of - the people might be taken at certain times to determine whether or not the number of licences in the Territory should be reduced. Another place has nowinserted an amendment which makes it absolutely clear that compensation shall not be granted to any person who is refused a renewal of his licence. I take some exception to that amendment. It is true that we do not contemplate much difficulty arising from this provision, because it is said that the conditions of the Territory are such as to make many claims for compensation improbable. Another point which has not been argued, although no doubt it has had some effect upon honorable members, is that this decision cannot possibly affect any votes. That, however, involves a principle with which I entirely disagree, and I say that we should deal with this matter on its merits. I am taking the unpopular side because by many persons, in merely pointing out that an injustice may be done under this amendment if it is agreed to, I shall be held to be supporting the liquor traffic.
– Does ‘the honorable and learned member favour compensation?
– In those cases in which it can be shown that it is justly due. The licensee of ia mere drinking shop is clearly not entitled to any compensation if his licence be not renewed ; but where men have erected houses on the supposition that so long as they conducted the business decently and lawfully they would be allowed some compensation if a renewal of their licence were refused, they have a right to be compensated, I. contend.”
– Surely, in view of the fact that these men have enjoyed a monopoly, they have no claim to compensation!.
– I think that they have. In Victoria, so long as a man continues t:r> “be of good behaviour, and to comply with the law, he is not interfered with unless he is paid some compensation, and of course the State has always the right to ;grant compensation to any licensees in order to bring about a reform in the liquor traffic. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, instead of shouting across the Chamber and thus preventing my voice from being heard, would make a few remarks on this question - one which he seems to have shirked since he gave his last vote - no doubt he would be complying with the desire of a large number of honorable members.
– I ask the honorable and learned member to address his remarks to the amendment before the Committee.
– Previously the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was for absolute prohibition.
– Order ! I ask the honorable and learned member not to pursue that line of argument.
– The question before the Committee is whether or not compensation shall be granted. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is believed to hold strong opinions on that point, and no doubt the Committee would be glad to hear from one of the leaders of the tem perance party in regard fo liquor, if nothing else, some reasons as to why we should force upon the people of Papua a course of conduct which we cannot force upon them in other directions. I have always considered that if there be a body of men whom we can coerce, we should be doubly careful not to impose upon them our will unless it be clearly in accordance with justice. I regret, sir, that I am unable to continue my remarks in this buzz of conversation.
– I would ask honorable members who feel it necessary to carry on conversations not to converse in such a tone as to interrupt the honorable and learned member.
– I do not propose to detain the Committee much longer. I object to the adoption of the Senate’s amendment, because if the door were left open, and a case for compensation were clearly shown to us hereafter, it could be dealt with. 1 do not think that many such cases are likely to arise; but if we accepted this amendment, we should not be able to act where it might be clearly shown that compensation ought to be given.
– What does the honorable and learned member think of local option generally ?
– This Bil] does not grant full local option, because it imposes a limitation upon the people as regards the issue of new licences. It denies them the right to increase the number of licences, no matter how greatly the population may have increased.
– The honorable and learned member does not think that this gives full local option?
– It is clear that before any new licences could be issued, another Act would have to be passed by this Parliament. I consider that temperance reform ought not to be based upon an act of injustice A citizen of Papua ought not to be deprived of that compensation to which he would be entitled if he were a citizen of the Commonwealth. It is not right in this Bill to do an act of injustice to a citizen of this Territory. For that reason I shall oppose the amendment, so that if it be rejected the Parliament may be left free to deal with any claims for compensation which may be made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That Orders of the Day Nos. 4 and 5 be postponed until after the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 6 and 7.
– I object to the postponement, because I do not see why we should not proceed with the consideration of the Senate’s amendments in the Representation Bill. If the Government are not prepared “to go on with that measure, it is always open to them to adjourn the House. Why this confession of weakness on the part of the Government? We have adjourned several matters, and now we are asked to adjourn still more. In fact, there ought not to have been the pretence of calling the House together to-day. Along with several other honorable members, I have been brought 600 miles merely in order to have several measures postponed ; and it is almost impossible to know where we stand. I am prepared to make a few remarks on the Representation Bill, especially after the observations of .the Minister of Home Affairs on the Electoral Bill.
– I must ask the honorable and learned member not to discuss the Electoral Bill.
– I am merely using the Electoral Bill as an argument against the postponement of the consideration of the Representation Bill. The Minister of Home Affairs has told us that, in his opinion, this House ought to have full control of electoral matters.
– The Electoral Bill must not be discussed now.
– As I said before, I am merely using the Electoral Bill as an argument against the postponement of the Representation Bill. I protest against the postponement, which i’s proposed merely because some honorable members who voted in favour of the House meeting to-day went to see the race for the Melbourne Cup1.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Ways and Means :
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs. - I move -
That in lieu of the Duty of Excise imposed by the Excise Tariff 1902, there shall, as from and including the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on sugar the following Duty of Excise : -
Sugar - per cwt. of manufactured sugar - Four shillings.
I do not intend to say anything further about this matter .at the present moment, my object now being simply to introduce a Bill, and this is the course which must be taker* to that end.
– I take it that the Minister intends to deal also with the question of the bounty, although he has only mentioned the excise in connexion with this Bill.
– Yes, I shall introduce the Bill to-night.
– I understand that the bounty is to be of the same amount as the excise.
– I shall introduce the Bill in a few minutes.
– We appear to be getting legislation introduced piecemeal, We all know that a Bill of this kind affects the revenue of all the States, more seriously in the case of three or four of the States. We are told that if this Bill is not introduced some of the richest land in Queensland will go out of cultivation, and a similar warning is given in regard to land in the northern part of New South Wales. But those lands are, it appears, to be kept in cultivation at the expense of poorer lands in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia ; and yet honorable members generally seem to regard the question as one unworthy of consideration. If we scamp our legislation in this way there must be very serious results. Four years ago, when a similar measure was introduced, I pointed out what I considered would be the serious effect of such legislation. Yet we are now’ face to face with a proposal which imposes very, heavy taxation in some of the States for three or four years. It appears to me to be about time there was a dissolution- of Parliament. If it were proposed to raise money in this way by direct taxation, there would be a howl from one end of Australia to the other, and the powerful people who are directly interested would make their voices heard. Under the circumstances, however, the burden will fall mast heavily on the great bulk of the workers, although, as between rich and poor, there is very little difference in the consumption of sugar. Indeed, a man who earns 30s. a week may contribute more in taxation on sugar than does the man with an income of ^20,000 per annum. Such a -system can not be described as just ; but I suppose, in view of the apathy displayed, it would be impossible to resist the motion. Every pro-. phecy made by myself and others in regard to similar measures has been more than fulfilled.
– Is the honorable and learned member opposed to the excise?
– This means something more than the excise. This proposal goes further. We have been given to understand by the Minister that the excise and bounty proposals go together. I object to the way in which this motion has been brought forward.
– Does the honorable and learned member object to Excise duties?
– I object to these duties being as proposed. The duty proposed is far too great, in my opinion, though perhaps it is not too great while we retain the present heavy’ import duty on sugar. The allowance to be made under this proposal involves far too great a discrimination, and places the burden on the wrong shoulders. Practically the community will be taxed to the extent of £t, 100,000, or at least ,£1,000,000 per annum. It is admitted that all the revenue derived will not go into the Treasury, but it is a manifest injustice that the bulk of the people should have to bear this taxation. For these reasons I object to the motion. I am aware that the numbers are up, and that it is impossible for me to successfully oppose the proposal, but I do raise my voice in protest against it, as I have .continued to do for the last four years.
– There can be no doubt that the method adopted for dealing with the sugar bounty is neither very satisfactory nor statesmanlike. The position with which we were faced under the proposal of the first Federal Administration was that at the end of 1906 there would be no revenue whatever derived from sugar, though the public would still have to pay a very large sum in taxation. The effect of the proposal was to give the Colonial Sugar Refining Company a monopoly of the Australian market for sugar. The duty of £6 per ton was to continue on imported1 sugar, and the excise was to cease at the beginning of 1907. That meant that the public would still have to pay *£fi per ton more than they ought to pay for the sugar thev consumed, whilst neither the Commonwealth nor States Treasuries would get a copper out of the taxation borne by the people. Under the pro posals since made we have only put off the evil day when we must make up our minds whether the revenue from sugar will go to the Commonwealth or States Treasuries or not. If the proposal of the Government is to be successful, and all the sugar consumed in Australia to be locally grown - a consummation devoutly to be wished - it will mean that at the end of five years, although every consumer of sugar will have to pay the increased price represented by the duty of S.6 per ton, neither the Commonwealth nor the States Treasuries will get a copper’ of revenue out of it. In Victoria the Treasurer received from £280,000 to £300,000 per annum from duties on sugar. Under this proposal’,! while the whole of that amount will still have to be paid by the public, the States Treasuries will not benefit by the taxation in any way whatever. The only persons who will benefit a re- the fortunate shareholders in” the Colonial Sugar Refining. Company. I think the Government should have taken a more statesmanlike and broader view of this question. They should have looked into the future a little, and should have had regard, not only to the interests of the growers of sugar in Queensland - and we all desire to assist them in the very difficult transition period with which they are faced - but to the pockets of the taxpayers, and to the fact that the States Treasuries have been to a very large extent dependent in the past upon the revenue derived from sugar. If it were decided by this Parliament that sugar should be altogether free from taxation I should raise no objection ; but we should not continue the tax on sugar in order to enable a lot of money to be collected by one of the wealthiest corporations in Australia. That is the weak spot in the Government scheme. It is not a statesmanlike proposal, and does not safeguard the interests of Commonwealth or States Treasuries, or those of the consumer. It merely proposes the continuance of a makeshift state of affairs, and of a heavy burden upon the people, not for the benefit of the Treasury of the Commonwealth or the Treasuries of the States, but for the benefit of a single business corporation.
– It will affect factories also.
– lt will have a detrimental effect upon many manufacturing industries in the various States. In Victoria alone the loss of revenue will amount to about £150,000 a year. Members of the State Legislature of Victoria desire to increase old-age pensions, and to adopt other ameliorative measures of that kind. But what possibility is there of the State Parliament ofVictoria doing anything in that regard when they are faced with the fact that they will lose from £140,000 to £150,000 a year in revenue from this item alone, and that there will be a total cessation of all revenue from taxation upon sugar in a few years time, whilst the consumers will have to pay just as much after the Government proposal is carried into effect as they have had to pay before? Sooner or later we shall have to decide whether we are going to insist upon the Government getting some of this revenue from sugar or propose to make a present to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company of an amount equivalent to a duty of £6 per ton on the sugar consumed in the Commonwealth. The question is one which affects every Statein the Commonwealth. I should have much preferred the introduction of an Excise Bill that would have dealt with the matter on somesliding scale. I believe the honorable member for Bass outlined a scheme to provide for that in a previous debate.
– Will not the honorable member permit me to introduce the Bill so that he may know what is proposed ?
– The adoption of a sliding scale is the only way in which we cangrapple with the serious position of the States in this matter. The method adopted for dealing with the sugar question is a menace to the revenue derived by the Commonwealth and States Treasuries, and imposes a serious burden on the whole of the people of Australia. I have no desire to obstruct the motion in any way whatever, but I feel that until we are prepared to deal with this question in a broad and comprehensive way the outlook for the Commonwealth and States Treasuries will be very serious.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Isaacs do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by. Sir William Lyne, and read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for a bounty togrowers of sugar-cane and beet.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I think that the Minister of Tradeand Customs should make a statement indicating the nature of the provisions of the Bill which he wishes to introduce.
– As the Bill hasbeen prepared, it would not be difficult for the honorable gentleman to communicate to the Committee the nature of its provisions. This is the stage at which such a statement should be made. The House goes into Committee of Ways and Means in regard to a Bill of this kind, sothat the Minister in charge of itmay furnish honorable members with the reasons for its introduction.
– Why not wait for an explanation of the provisions of the Bill until the measure has been; introduced ?
– The purpose of going into Committee of Ways and Means is to discuss the advisability of agreeing to the proposals of the Government, and they should be explained to us at this stage. We have had no indication of what is intended to be done. All we know is that there is to be a change in the law relating to the sugar bounty. We should have, at this stage, a statement of the reasons for this alteration, and an indication of its probable effect on the industry concerned, and on the consumers of sugar, who should be the main consideration of honorable members. I am afraid that in our efforts to do justice to the growers of North Queenslandwe may neglect the interests of the consumers of sugar, and we must determine whether we will allow that to happen. I do not think that any industry should so monopolize our attention as to obscure the interests of the consumers. This matter must be dealt with from the point of view of the public interest, and not merely in the interests of a particular section of the community, or of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Is the honorable member against a White Australia?
– The interjection is such an idle one as to need no reply. I ask my honorable friend to restrain himself, because the Minister is quite able to manage his. own affairs. It has been suggested in some of the newspapers that a distinction should be drawn between the bounty and the excise. I do not know whether the Minister contemplates making such a distinction, but he should tell us.
– The Bill will inform the honorable member.
– Has the honorable member seen it ?
– I give the honorable member my word that it is all .right.
– I should be prepared to take the word of the honorable member on the subject, because, no doubt, he and the members of his party thoroughly discussed the question before the Minister was permitted to propose the introduction of the Bill, and they know all about its provisions. But we on this side have not been taken into the counsels of the Government, and, in the interests of fair play, ask to be informed of what has gone on behind the scenes. Before the Bill gets through Committee we shall expect from the Government a very clear and definite statement of their intentions in regard to the sugar industry. We must have finality at some time or another. In my judgment, the Minister will facilitate the passing of the measure if he tells us at this stage exactly what it .is intended to do. so that we may know what it is that we are asked to consent to.
– In reply to the insinuation that certain honorable members, who are not* members of the Government, have seen the Bill, I should like to say that I think no honorable member outside the Cabinet has seen it.
– Thev may not have seen the Bill, but thev know exactly what the Minister is going to propose.
– I assure the Committee that I do not.
– I do not think that any honorable member, except Ministers, knows what the Bill contains. I shall be much obliged to the Committee if it will allow me to introduce the Bill tonight, and to defer my explanation of its provisions until the second reading is moved. One reason is that I am not in good speaking trim. The Bill, when introduced will explain itself.
– It is at this stage that honorable members are afforded an opportunity to consider how any proposed measure will affect the finances of the Commonwealth and of the States. If we do not consider that question now we shall be confined in dealing with the Bill to the effect of its various provisions. This, however, is a most important finandal measure, which cannot be properly dealt with at any other stage. The practice in that regard is a very sound one. It is required that a motion shall be brought under consideration in Committee of Ways and Means in order that honorable members may have an opportunity to discuss the financial questions involved in all their varying aspects. It is quite possible that in the House, under a ruling of the Speaker, it would not be competent for honorable members to give that wide range to their remarks which the necessities of the case, and the interests they represented, might render desirable. I shall certainly oppose the morion. I have no hesitation in saying that honorable members utterly misconceive the position with regard to the sugar bounties. We are asked to extend the period for which the bounty of 4s. per ton shall be paid to the growers of sugar-cane who employ white labour. I happen to grow cane,. but because it is Planters’ Friend, or Amber cane, and yields only 2 per cent, of sugar, I am not entitled to any bonus. If I had land that was rich enough to grow cane of high sugar contents. I should receive a bounty : but because I have poor land, which, will not grow cane from which sugar can profitably be produced, I am denied a bounty. I strongly object to the Treasurer, after having been at the races all day, coming here, and conversing in a loud tone of voice with other honorable members. If he cannot conduct himself properly. he should leave the Chamber.
– Order !
– I trust the Minister will reconsider his decision not to make any explanation with regard to the Bill which is to be introduced. One section of honorable members will have nothing whatever to do with any sugar bounties; others are anxious that the present bounties should be continued upon any terms. Others, again, might be prepared to tolerate the continuance of the bounties provided, if provision were made for their gradual reduction and final abolition within a reasonable period. The Minister has told us nothing about the Bill, and we may be called upon to discuss it to-morrow–
– I do not propose to go on with it at once.
– Do I understand that the Bill will have been circulated for at least a full day before it is proceeded with?
– For probably a longer period than that.
– That meets my objection.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I resumed my seat under the impression that you, Mr. Chairman, had risen to your feet with the object of calling honorable members to order.
– I rose merely for the purpose of putting the question.
– -The hum of conversation is so loud that I cannot possibly hear the honorable and learned member for Werriwa.
– I would ask honorable members not to carry on conversations in such a tone as to drown the voice of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa.
– It seems to me to be the grossest folly that men who are in occupation of some of the best lands in the Commonwealth should be allowed to call upon others occupying inferior lands to contribute to their support. I intend to debate this question as if white labour only were employed in the industry.
– The honorable and learned member has not yet seen the Bill. How, then, can he say what proposals it contains ?
– I know the object for which it is being introduced. We have already enacted certain legislation in respect of the sugar industry, and we are now invited to’ extend the period of its operation. Roughly speaking, the yield of cane throughout Queensland is about 20 tons per acre. Upon that production it is proposed to grant a bonus of 4s. per ton. In other words, we are asked to pay a bounty which is equivalent to £4 per acre for the cultivation of the sugar plantations.
– It is not a fact that there is any £4 per acre in it.
– The honorable and learned member has not read the statement of the Queensland Statistician.
– Yes, I have.
– Then the honorable and learned member must wilfully shut his eyes to the facts. The Queensland Statistician informs us that the average yield of cane throughout . that State is 20 tons per acre. The honorable member for Capricornia has doubtless seen crops of 80 tons to the acre.
– I have not.
– Has the honorable member seen yields of 65 or 70 tons (to (the acre? I presume by !his silence that he has. If the production were 60 tons to the acre the position would be far worse, because in that case we should be paying a bounty of ^12 per acre.
– What would the excise amount to in that case?
– I am not entering into a consideration of that question.
– Where do the growers obtain a yield of 80 tons to the acre. Has the honorable and learned member ever seen a tropical jungle?
– Yes. The honorable member must forget that I have been as far north as the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– Then the honorable and learned member must know what it means to clear tropical jungle in order to get a yield of 80 tons per acre from it.
– I do. Personally, 1 have known of yields of 55 tons of cane per acre. But I am not discussing the difference between the import duty and the excise.
– The growers of sugar-cane throughout Queensland do not cut on the average 2b tons to the acre.
– Allowing for all that is destroyed by frosts and in other ways, the average return, according to the Statistician, is twenty tons to the acre, so that the honorable member must recognise that I, am well within the mark when I say that we _ are being called upon to give a bounty which is equivalent to £4 per acre. It is ridiculous to pass legislation by which we say, in effect, to the cane-growers : “ Gentlemen, your farm lands are so rich that we must give you a bounty of £4 per acre to enable you to cul-. tivate them.” From where will this £4 per acre come? We have no unknown fund on which to draw. We can extract the money only from the pockets of the citizens. It is proposed that we shall extract money “from one class and give it to another. I am purposely dealing with this matter apart from any consideration as to the employment of black or white labour. I do not wish honorable members to be confused by any issue as to the employment of coloured men in the cane-fields. What I assert is that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth are being called upon at present to pay the owners of some of the richest farm land in the world £4 per aore to cultivate it. Do not honorable members grasp the full significance of this proposal ? Four years ago I said1 that we should be asked for a continuance of the bounty; that whilst men were being spoonfed in this way they would never be prepared to stand up without legislative props. What would be said if the farmers in the neighbourhood of Tower Hill, where there is some of the richest farm land’ to be found in Victoria, met together and said, “Our land is so rich that we cannot exist unless we are allowed to collect £4 per acre in respect of it from the other residents of the State “ ? They would be laughed at; but if they were wise in their generation thev would say to the rest of the people: “You may laugh, but we shall persuade the Parliament of the Commonwealth to pass a law giving us a bounty equal to £4 per acre of our land, and the rest of the people of Australia will have to submit to it.” That is exactly the position in regard to the sugar-growers. It was said at the outset that we should grant them a bounty to enable them to grow sugar-cane successfully without black labour. I assert now, as I said then, that the tax is a wicked one. We are asked to pay a bounty to the owners of the richest farm lands in Australia.
– Is it not said that “ Whosoever hath to him shall be given “ ?
– I know that some honorable members do not regard this proposal as a serious one. Cup Day is hardly the clay on which to discuss it.
– Why does the honorable and learned member keep harping on Cup Day?
– Because some honorable members played the hypocrite. They voted against adjourning over Cup Day, but went to see the big race.
– The honorable member must not say that honorable members played the hypocrite.
– If it is offensive to honorable members I will withdraw the remark, and say that they should not have made the pretence that we could do business today. This is a question which affects every State in the Commonwealth. Are honorable members aware that if the excise and the import duty on sugar were equal the revenue derived from these sources last year would have amounted to about £1,050,000? As it was, we did not obtain half that revenue from the sugar duties. I should have no objection to our voting a Bounty of 4s. or even 40s. per ton if by a mere resolution of the House we could add to the wealth of the country. But our resolutions, instead of adding to, may do a good deal to subtract from the wealth of Australia ; we may divert capital into channels in which it cannot be so advantageously used as it could in others. Time after time we are called upon to give a set of citizens in one State a sum of money which does not properly belong to them. If the land occupied by the sugargrowers is not fit for the cultivation of sugar, why should we allow them to continue to devote it to that purpose? That’ is the simple point. Let us for the moment set aside all considerations as to the employment of coloured labour. Suppose the owners of the farm lands or* Tower Hill were to ask for a bounty of 24s. an acre for growing potatoes, worth, say, £3 a ton? What would be thought’ of us if we were to say, “ Poor fellows ! The land on Tower Hill is so rich and valuable that Parliament must give the potato farmers a bounty of 24s. an acre.” If we did that’, the position would be on all-fours with the present one.
– No; we do not charge an Excise duty on potatoes.
– Does not the honorable member see that in the other case we put on a high import duty as a set-off? If the honorable member is going to draw that distinction it would make a difference of £10 to the acre? Taking roughly the yield at 20 tons of cane to the acre, you get 2J tons of sugar to the acre from some of the fields. I am going to throw out the odd quarter of a ton. It would help my argument and increase the value, but I wish to be well under the mark. Suppose that we take the yield at 2 tons of sugar to the acre, although the reports show that it is tons. What do we find? First, there is an import duty of £6 a ton. Clearly the sugar is raised in value to that extent..
– Oh, no.
– If it is not, I presume that the honorable and learned member will be perfectly willing to remit part of the duty, and to admit that the amount of the import duty was fixed too high?
– The honorable and learned member is quite wrong in that.
– Will the honorable and learned member admit that when Victoria levied a duty of £6 a ton on cane sugar, and the money went into the Treasury, it did not raise the price of the article?
– That is not what the honorable and learned member was saying.
– The price was raised by exactly the amount of the duty, or else the duty was inoperative. So far as white labour is concerned, there is already a remission to the extent of £3 a ton on the sugar.
– Is the honorable and learned member . sure ?
– An Excise duty of £3 a ton.
– For the moment I thought the Excise duty was £4 a ton ; but, taking the duty at .£3 a ton, £2 is remitted, leaving a difference of £5 in favour of the local article. On 2 tons of sugar to the acre, which is the average return, that gives a protection of ,£10 to the acre. The honorable member will see how much worse the position is if I treat the matter from that side, instead of from the side which is most favorable to the supporters of the bounty, because I might stand up here and say, without fear of contradiction, that to keep sugar land under cultivation it costs £10 an acre by white labour, and only £6 an acre by black labour. We are actually paying £4 an acre to every grower of sugar by white labour in order to keep his land under cultivation. Why do we want to make black labour compete against white ? If the industry will not return wages to the white man, why, should it be preserved ?
– Does the honorable and learned member object to sugar being grown by black labour?
– I am not objecting to sugar being grown by any body at the present time. Take the district which is represented by the honorable member for Richmond. Why should not the man who is using the land for dairying purposes receive a bounty, when the man on the adjoining farm receives a bounty of £4 an acre for growing sugar? That is apart altogether from the increase in price arising from the import duty.
– The producer pays the Excise duty.
– Why is not an Excise duty levied on the wheat-grower?
– I have never been very partial to the imposition of high import duties. There comes a time, however, when they are needed for the purpose of revenue. Suppose the Excise duty were just the same as the import duty, what disability would the sugar-grower be under? None at all. He would notice it more, because he would forget? that his sugar was raised in price to the extent of £6, but, nevertheless, fie would be in exactly the same position as he was in before, with this exception-
– Why should not a man get a bounty for growing white-faced sheep ?
– If a man is to get a bounty for growing sugar by white labour, why should not a man get a bounty for growing white or black-faced sheep? The point I wish to make is that we are lightly agreeing to hand over this money without any consideration of the consequences to other persons. When, four years ago, I prophesied that within three or four years we should be spending over £100,000 onbounties, the Treasurer said it was another wild remark of mine. The lapse of time, however, has shown that I was under the mark.
– Is the honorable and learned member surprised?
– No, because I had studied the question, and I knew that none of the Ministerialists had. I did not believe that the bulk of them were capable of studying the question, and that is why I rose to give them a little instruction. Of course, I met with the usual fate of instructors. I was not listened to by honorable members, simply because they did not understand what we were talking about.
– Was it not a mere speculation on- the honorable and learned member’s part? .
– It was not. The position was so clear and plain to me at the time that I could not understand why honorable members did not see as I did. They were so confused in their ideas of what bounties were that they imposed a duty of £10 a ton on white-grown sugar because it was called beet sugar and grown entirely by white labour, while on sugar grown by black labour they imposed a duty of £6 a ton. Although I pointed out the ludicrousness of the proposal, yet honorable members pretended to be encouraging the use of white labour and discouraging the use of black labour.
– Was not the idea to shut out the beet sugar because it was cheaper than the other?
– I cannot tell what the idea of honorable members was. I could see what the effect would be.
– Let us have a look at the Bill.
-My complaint to-night has been that we ought to have been afforded an opportunity to discuss this question in all its bearings. I cannot protest too much against this proposal being brought forward in a haphazard manner. The Minister of Trade and Customs is a very old politician, and if honorable members on the other side think that they can teach him any points they are very much mistaken. I have had a very long acquaintance with his parliamentary tactics, I distinctly take exception to a motion in Ways and Means carried before we have had an opportunity of knowing what the Bill is. The present procedure is a departure from precedent ; and here there may lurk some danger. Parliamentary precedents all have their value, inasmuch as they prevent a rush of legislation without proper consideration. The late Sir Henry Parkes once said to me that he never departed from sound constitutional procedure without having cause for bitter regret; he was convinced that precedents survive only because, on the whole,they are wholesome and valuable in securing the proper consideration of measures. That is a sound argument which ought to be applied to the present proposal, which involves the taking of money out of the pockets of one set of citizens, and placing it in the pockets of another set. Such a position is always fraught with danger : and we ought to take steps to safeguard ourselves.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Isaacs do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir William Lyne, and read a first time.
Federal Capital and Territory.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I regret that the discussion on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill should come on at this late hour, because, personally, I do not feel in a condition to address myself to so important a subject. First of all, I propose to address myself to the question of the Federal Capital Site, in connexion with which 1 understand a certain sum has been placed on the Estimates. This question is becoming a very serious one from . the public point of view.As to the Estimates generally, no honorable member can have failed to be struck with the repeated references made in the debate to the predecessors of the present Ministry. The present Government, as a whole, have paid tribute to the ability and care with which their predecessors husbanded the resources of the country, and to their administrative successes in the various Departments. The Postmaster-General had nothing to offer in defence of his Estimates, except that they were the Estimates prepared by the late Government; in fact, the PostmasterGeneral said he would be delighted to carry out the work inaugurated by the honorable member for Macquarie. A similar state of affairs prevails in connexion with the Defence Department. In the Town Hall, Sydney, amidst the plaudits of an enthusiastic people, the VicePresident of the Executive Council said that the Government intended to make great changes, and to bring about; reform which would satisfy everybody : but when the question was raised in Parliament, he declared that the only intention was to carry out the work begunby the late Government. Under the circumstances one cannot help wondering why the late splendid administrators were placed in opposition. Itmaybe of course, that there were other considerations ; but what were those considerations ?
I know only of one, and that was that honorable members below the gangway had declared that at all hazards they would put out that Ministry, because of the propaganda being carried on by the chief of that Government, the present leader of the Opposition. That accounted apparently for the transfer to the other side of the Chamber of men who, on the statements of Ministers to-day, were splendid and successful administrators, and carried on the affairs of this country in such a way as to call for no cavil on their part, or, so far as I know, on the part of any honorable member of this House.
– No; and the honorable member knows exactly why. I venture to say that if he had been in their place he would not have done so either. The honorable member, would not have been driven by men who had no sympathy with him, who had given him notice to quit in a little time hence, to take up the work of a session, relying upon support which might at any moment have been withdrawn, and which certainly was intended to be withdrawn in the very near future.
– That is nonsense.
– It is of no use for the Treasurer to come here, after being absent the whole of the afternoon representing his colleagues elsewhere, and’ interrupt me, unless, as I heard the right honorable member suggesting to ‘the Prime Minister, he considers this is a fitting time to adjourn, seeing that we have done so much business. If that is his object in interfering, I forgive the right honorable gentleman. However, I shall leave that matter. I hope the Ministry will not insist upon keeping us here very much longer to-night, and I shall confine my attention to one or two points in connexion with a question which is assuming a very serious’ aspect in this House. I refer to the fixing of the Capital Site. The last letter of the Prime Minister to Mr. Carruthers breaks off the negotiations altogether and closes all the correspondence on the subject.
– Hear, hear !
– I venture to say that the honorable member has not considered what the outcome of this action is to be. If he imagines that this Parliament is to take a simple course of action which will result in finality in regard to this question being reached, he has more prescience than I have given him credit for, or than I claim for myself. I am unable to see where we are going to come out in this matter. I can see only one result from the deadlock brought about, or, in fact, from any action contemplated by the Government, and that is a further delay in the settlement of the matter.
– Can the honorable member suggest any way out of the difficulty ?
– I can. I have already made suggestions in this House, but unfortunately honorable members occupying seats below the gangway seem to have made up their minds upon this matter. So far as I can learn, they have nothing but criticism for the New South Wales Government, on whom they throw all the blame. I propose to point out to-night that the members of the present Government must at least be held to be equally responsible with the New South Wales Government in this matter, in spite of the very rude and insulting interjections of the honorable member for Bland on the last day on which this House sat.
– The honorable member should remember that we found a deadlock existing when we assumed office.
– That is quite true; but there was also a very definite proposal for resolving it. It is pointed out very clearly in Mr. Carruthers’ last letter that the honorable member for North Sydney, who in the last Government occupied the position of Minister of Home Affairs, and as such conducted the negotiations with the New South Wales Government, gave them a distinct promise that he would submit their proposals to this Parliament for consideration. He told them other things, too, which the present Government will not admit, and will not adhere to. The honorable gentleman told the New South Wales Government that the only mandatory part of the Seat of Government Act passed by this Parliament was that dealing with the fixing of the site, and that it was quite open to be decided by negotiation as to where the Federal territory was to be, and what area of land it should embrace. These are two matters of substance which the present Government have totally ignored since they took up the negotiations. The present Government have taken an entirely new departure in the matter. They will not submit those proposals made by the New South Wales Government to this Parliament, nor do they regard the question either as to the site or the territory to be open in the slightest degree to negotiations between the two Governments. They contend that this Parliament, in passing the Seat of Government Act, not only decided where the Seat of the Federal Capital is to be, so far as its broad outlines are concerned, but also determined the territory in which it is to be situated. That is the whole point of contention between the two Parliaments. We say we have determined the matter. The New South Wales Parliament say that the Constitution gives them a voice in the final determination of the territory.
– -But it does not do anything of the sort.
– They say so.
– They will say anything.
– The right honorable gentleman should not say that. That does not disclose the proper spirit in which to arrive at finality in the consideration of the question.
– I know a good deal about it, seeing that I was one of the parties to the arrangement made.
– I believe the right honorable gentleman does, but I hope he will permit some one else to know a little about it also.
– I am not going to permit a construction to be put on the section which the Premiers’ Conference never intended.
– It does not matter what was in the minds of the Premiers attending that Conference. The question is : What does the language of the Constitution convey? The contention of the New South Wales Government to-day is that there must be a grant of the territory made by New South Wales precedent to the determination of the site.
– It may be “granted or acquired.”
– “ Or acquired,” certainly ; but what is the method of acquiring ?
– Buying it is one way.
– We cannot have a buyer without a seller. One cannot buyland unless some one is prepared to sell it to him.
– We can take it.
– That is quite another matter. Does the right honorable gentleman now suggest that the course which the present Government has in view is to take this land from New South Wales?
– Not from New South Wales, but from private individuals.
– The right honorable gentleman is forgetting all about the Constitution. He will find that he cannot buy an inch of New South Wales territory from private individuals or any body .else without the consent of the State of New South Wales.
– Humbug !
– I wish that’ the right honorable gentleman would leave the Chamber if that is all he has to say. He has often complained of honorable, members on this side being rude.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I had no intention of being rude to him.
– The Minister’s language is not polite.
– Then I withdraw it, because I do not wish to be rude to the honorable member.
– I am very glad to hear it. I desire to ascertain exactly, how we stand in regard to this matter. To my mind, the position is that the Government have broken off negotiations. The Prime Minister has informed the Premier of New South Wales that he understood that the consideration of the question was to be begun again upon a new basis’ in connexion with the meeting of the AttorneysGeneral to discuss it. That is a very easy and airy way of disposing of the difficulties surrounding its determination. But how could we begin again at a point at which the whole of the circumstances surrounding the question from the commencement was not taken into consideration? The contention of the Premier of New South Wales is that we have acted wrongly.
– He wished us to bring the matter before the High Court, and it was thought that the Attorneys-General would be able to decide upon some means whereby the questions at issue could be settled.
– The AttorneysGeneral settled nothing, and the Commonwealth Attorney-General in his letter speaks of some decision which they had reached as the beginning of negotiations which it was hoped would settle the matter. Finality was not reached at the conference between them, and was not intended. The conference was to provide for an exchange of views as the beginning of further negotiations, which it was hoped would settle the matter. Clearly, no finality was intended. The result of the conference was to make it clear to the Commonwealth Attorney-General that all his talk about driving in a peg, -and bringing down a Bill to enable it to be done, was beside the mark, and was admittedly a mistaken course of conduct. He himself has since pointed out that, with the Attorney-General of New South Wales, he Kas come to the conclusion that the idea of driving in a peg must be abandoned, because the Commonwealth has no land into which to drive a peg, and no right to drive a peg into any land which is not its own, while, if a Bill were passed authorizing’ the driving of a peg into New South Wales territory, no action for trespass would lie, because the act would have behind it the authority of the Commonwealth Parliament legalizing the trespass. Tt will therefore be seen that the steps which this Government proposed to take in substitution of the ‘proposal of the Premier of New South Wales were faulty, and nothing is clearer than the statement of the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral in the letter sent to the Premier of New South Wales that the matter will have to be begun again from a new starting point, without regard to past proceedings. The Premier of New South Wales thinks that these long-distance negotiations have proved so unsatisfactory that it is better to revert to the starting point of some months ago, and to emphasize the attitude taken up by the State Government during the negotiations with the honorable member for North Sydney when Minister of Home Affairs. The New South Wales Government hark back in this way to their former position, because recent negotiations have ended unsatisfactorily, and have brought matters no nearer to a conclusion. We cannot lose sight of the fact that irritation has been created by this state of affairs, and that it is growing. One has only to mention the Capital Site in this Chamber to have the matter treated, if not airily and jocularly, then with every sign of irritation and annoyance. That was made manifest the other day, when the representatives of a State other than New South Monies suggested that the Constitution should be amended so as to strike out of it the provision relating to the determination of the Capital Site. That would be a very easy way of solving the difficulty, but it has the drawback that its adoption would besmirch the national honour. To suggest the deliberate breaking of the bond under which New South Wales joined the Union is to suggest a course of action which would dishonour the nation. I do not think that this House would countenance that. My belief is that honorable members will keep the bond. Although I regret that honorable members generally do not interpret it as it is interpreted by those who represent New South Wales, I believe that there is no other idea in their minds than that the compact should be kept, and kept substantially.
– The Seat of Government Act was passed by the Government which the honorable member supported.
– It was passed by the Watson Administration.
– At any rate, it had the support of honorable members opposite.
– This is not a matter affecting parties in this House., but affecting the relations of the Parliament of the Commonwealth and the Parliament of New South Wales. The complication and trouble which has arisen has been caused by the action of this Parliament in adopting a wrong course twelve months ago. Instead of passing an Act to determine the site of the Federal Capital, and setting forth what territory we require, as well as the site, we should have passed resolutions authorizing the Government to enter into negotiations with the Government of New South Wales for the acquisition of territory. and when those negotiations had been satisfactorily carried through, a Bill should have been introduced to complete the matter. But instead of that thev decided, without reference to the New South Wales Government, from whom they expected to obtain the land, and without consulting the people of that State - without going near or saying a word to them - that the Capital should be in a particular place, that the territory should assume a particular shape, that it should be of a particular size, and that access should be afforded to it from the sea.
– The honorable member voted for it.
– The right honorable gentleman is referring to the choice of the Dalgety site. I voted in favour of that site only when the choice lay between it and another which I regarded as even less desirable to the State. If the right honorable gentleman will look up Hansard, he will see that I spoke very strongly against the Bill.
– The honorable member did not vote against it.
– I am inclined to think I did. I know that I was very strongly opposed to it, and that I pointed out that all this trouble would occur. All this confusion was then foreseen both by myself and other honorable members on this side of the Chamber, and we urged the Government, instead of putting the Bill through, to pass resolutions authorizing Ministers to enter into negotiations with the New South Wales Government preparatory to the selection of a particular site. However, the House chose to take what I cannot help regarding as a very high-handed course in the matter. They went to the New South Wales Government and said, ‘” We have passed an Act, and we want this territory in this particular spot and in this particular shape.” Now we have the reply from the New South Wales Parliament, which is supposed to represent the people of New South Wales - I do not know of any other body which can speak authoritatively upon this point - that the Dalgety site does not, in their judgment, substantially comply with the bond.
– The previous Government said it did.
– But not the previous Parliament. The honorable member must make that distinction. The matter was never submitted to the New South Wales Parliament until Mr. Carruthers brought it forward. Sir John See sat supinely by for three years, and made no effort to maintain the rights of New South Wales. He did not consult the Parliament, and I do not know that the offer of certain proposed sites - the mere handing over of reports by a Commissioner without reference to Parliament - could be regarded as an offer by the people of New South Wales. The only way in which the wishes of the people of that State could be ascertained was by consulting their Parliament; and when that was done, the Legislature decided that the selection of any one of the three sites now suggested would have been more nearly in keeping with the spirit of the bond than the determination to establish the Federal Capital at Dalgety. They excluded Dalgety from the sites recommended.
– That is their lookout.
– The right honorable gentleman will find, before he has done with the matter, that it is also his look-out. He must not imagine that he is going to ride rough-shod over the people of New South Wales. He will fmd that that is the way not to do it. He must not imagine that he has only to ask and have. He has to deal with the people of New South Wales.
– If they do not -want the Capital, well and good.
– But they do want it. They have rights under the Constitution, and they will assert them before all is settled. I complain of the spirit dominating these proceedings, because’ it can only lead to trouble and further complications. It will not promote a good understanding between the Federal Government and the State of New South Wales, but will lead to further trouble, delay, and friction, and bad feeling with regard to the Federation as a whole.
– The final reply of the Prime Minister has not yet been circulated.
– It was laid upon the table on the day that it was received.
– But it is now away at the Printer’s.
– I arranged for a special meeting of the Printing Committee, in order that the printing of the letter might be authorized.
– We have not seen it yet. The Prime Minister in writing to Mr. Carruthers, said, “ We expected you to put all the history of this matter behind your back.” That would have been all very well, if the honorable gentleman had been prepared to put his own action behind his back, and had asked the House to deal with the question de novo. But while he asked Mr. Carruthers to put his actions behind his back, he did not show any disposition to follow a similar course. He took his stand upon the Seat of government Act, and adhered to it rigidly. He says that the Act has been passed, and that therefore the Parliament has determined where the site is to be.
– Mr. Carruthers referred to the previous correspondence, and made quotations from it; and it seemed to me that it was useless to argue in that way, because the correspondence spoke for itself. That is what I was referring to.
– That certainly does explain the matter to some extent. The Prime Minister made a statement which I do not think he can substantiate. He charged Mr. Carruthers with practically claiming for New South Wales the right to control the constitutional actions of the Parliament of Australia. Mr. Carruthers has done nothing of the kind.” He has confined himself to enforcing the constitutional claims of the State he represents. It is all a matter of interpretation as to whether the constitutional actions of one party override the constitutional actions of the other. That can only be determined by the High Court.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney was quite satisfied with the decision of Parliament as to the site.
– He said nothing about the constitutional rights of New South Wales in the matter. Moreover, this is not altogether a question of what the right honorable member for East Sydney likes, or what the Treasurer likes. It is a question of what the Constitution says with regard to the fixing of the site.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney is fully aware of the spirit of the agreement.
– He so far recognised the spirit of the agreement that, when he was invited to vote for Dalgety. he said in this Chamber that the selection of the Lyndhurst site would more fully carrying out the spirit of the agreement. That is the answer to the honorable member.
– It is no answer at all.
– The Premiers themselves are at issue as to what was meant bv the agreement. The Treasurer declares that it meant the selection of Dalgety, whereas the right honorable member for East Sydney said that he thought Lyndhurst was the best site in New South Wales, and the one which more nearly gave effect to the spirit of the bargain which was made at the Conference of Premiers. Why ? Because it was understood that the arrangement arrived at by that body re presented a substantial concession to New South Wales.
– So it did. / It gave that State the right to the Capital to which it was not entitled under the Constitution as framed by the Convention.
– New South Wales regards the selection of Dalgety as so much of a concession that the State Parliament! are opposed to it. They do not regard the choice of that site as a concession at all.
– The people of Sydney are opposed to the selection of Dalgety
– My answer to the honorable member is that Sydney can-, not, and does not, dominate the Parliament of New South Wales.
– The influence of Sydney in the New South” Wales Parliament is verv great, just as the influence of Melbourne in the Victorian Parliament is very great.
– The influence of Melbourne does not dominate the politics of Victoria. The present Ministry in this State professes to derive its strength from the country districts of Victoria, and the same remark is applicable to the Government of New South Wales. If the honorable member will consult the figures, he will find that what I say is correct. It is idle to suggest that it is merely the influence of Sydney which prevents” a settlement of this vexed question. Almost the entire.’ Parliament of New South Wales is opposed to .the selection of Dalgety.
– The honorable member voted in favour of the selection of Dal.gety at one time.
– That statement has already been made about twenty limes. I voted for Dalgety in preference to Tooma, and I voted in favour of Lyndhurst as against Dalgety.
– I voted for Lyndhurst.
– Why did the honorable member do so ?
– Because I regarded it as the best site. I did not .vote for Dalgety.
– Does -not the honorable member see that’ he is entirely iw accord with the ‘Parliament of New South Wales?
– No; the Parliament of that State should not dictate to. this Parliament.
– Neither should this Parliament dictate to New South Wales. *”
– Then we can remain here.
- Mr. Carruthers says that the State of New South Wales has certain rights in connexion with the granting of the Federal Territory, and both in reason and law it certainly ought to have.
– That was never contended at the Premiers’ Conference.
– I am not discussing the Premiers’ Conference. I am talking of the language of the bond.
– The honorable member does not pay any regard to the Premiers’ Conference, where the arrangement was made.
– I have already replied to that argument by showing that one of the members of that Conference was in favour of the Lyndhurst site, whilst another, in the person of the right honorable member for Balaclava, who was then Premier of Victoria, has told us that the provision in regard to the 100 miles limit was inserted only for the purpose of excluding the selection of a place like Moss Vale.
– The late Treasurer voted for the selection of Dalgety.
– I am aware of that, and I think that in doing so he acted wrongly. I claim that he should have voted for some other site which was nearer to the 100 miles limit. However, I have no desire to dwell upon that aspect of the question. It does not do any good to get at long range.
– It does not do any good to get at close range.
– If the right honorable member could settle this matter, I would not care. Did the Premiers’ Conference decide in favour of the selection of Dalgety ?
– No; but we did not agree that the New South Wales Government should settle the matter.
– But did not the Premiers agree that that State should have some say in regard to the land that it was to part with ?
– We cannot take an inch of New South Wales territory without the consent of that State.
– What objection is there to remaining in Melbourne, seeing that the people of New South Wales do not want us?
– They do want the Capital. They are panting for it.-
But they want it at a spot which they say would be most in keeping with the spirit of the compact which was made at the Premiers’ Conference. I challenge the Treasurer to say that the agreement that the Seat of Government should be located in New South Wales did not mean a substantial concession to that State.
– Certainly. If it had not been for that, the Capital would have been in Victoria.
– I quite believe the right honorable member. It would have been at Ballarat.
– Somewhere near there.
– That was quite understood at the time.
– I believe that it would have been in Sydney, where it ought to have been.
– The honorable member and others are always urging that. It was well known that but for the arrangement in question the Seat of Government would’ have been located near Ballarat. The place next in favour was Moss Vale, which is situated upon the Great Southern line, in New South Wales, and it was to exclude its selection that the right honorable member for Balaclava insisted upon the insertion of the provision relating to the 100 miles limit. That is what he himself says and we have heard from the lips of the Treasurer to-day that but! for that the Capital would probably have been at Ballarat.
– It would have been near it, in my opinion.
– Clearly, therefore, this arrangement was intended to represent a substantial concession to New South’ Wales. The Parliament of that State declares that it does not regard the selection of Dalgety as representing any such concession, and who is more clearly entitled to express an opinion on the matter? It thinks so little of Dalgety that it actually excludes it from the list of eligible sites. Therefore, honorable members need not imagine that in establishing the Seat of Government there, they are conferring a great boon on New* South Wales. The people of that State say, “ That is not in keeping with the spirit of the bond at all.”
– When this Parliament was considering the matter in the initial stages,
Mr. Carruthers favoured the selection of Dalgety
– It is not a question of what Mr. Carruthers or the Prime Minister favours. As Mr. Carruthers points out in his last letter, this is not a question for the Executive to determine, but for the Parliament.
– Which Parliament?
– The two Parliaments. This Parliament itself cannot settle the question any more than can the Parliament of New South Wales. It is in that regard that I think the honorable member and others are taking a wrong view of the matter; they think that the Commonwealth may acquire the land, in spite* of anything that New South Wales can do.
– I do not put forward such a contention. I simply say that we have the right either to establish the Capital where we think it ought to be established or to remain “here, and that we should not be dictated to by the Parliament of New South Wales.
– And the Parliament of New South Wales holds that it has the same right.
– I would rather see the Parliament continue to meet here than that we should go to Dalgety.
– Will the honorable member honour the bond ?
– I am prepared to do so.
– It is a matter not of like or dislike, or of dictation on the part of one Parliament to another, but of the respectful assertion of the rights of each under the constitutional bond. The New South Wales Parliament claim that as, under the Constitution, the land must be surrendered by them, they have some right to say where the Capital shall be. I wish to know what is to be done when the precious Bill which we are promised is introduced. The Government now say that thev are going to take independent action. If they bring in a Bill and exactly delimit the site by metes and bounds, is the Prime Minister going to rest there ?
– I should soon tell the honorable member what I would do.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK__ I think that we are entitled to know what action the Government propose to take. If the Prime Minister is now in a position to say, “ We will go to Dalgety, and this is the way we are going to carry out our wishes,” 1 am here to listen to his proposals. But when the Ministry have brought in their Bill and fixed the limitations of the site, are they going to build the Capital upon’ that site? Even then the land’ would not belong to the Commonwealth. The Constitution sets forth the process by which weare to acquire the necessary land. The proposed Bill will not enable us to acquire, it; the mere surveying of the site and the. driving of the pegs will not help us. The Attorney-General in his last communication, admits that it would be illegal to drive pegs into land which we had not acquired. He points out that the suggested Bill set forth in the official papers would in itself be ineffective. Whatever this delay may be attributable to, we must take our share of blame for it. I am not here to say that everything which the Government of New South Wales have done is right - mistakes have been made on both sides - but I do say that our proposals for pegging out theterritory and referring the matter to the High Court are declared by the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth to have been defective in every particular. Instead of the simple course to be followed being settled at the conference between the Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, it seems to me that the two exchanged’ opinions that <vere to be the beginning of a further correspondence, which it was hoped would settle it. This is the language of the AttorneyGeneral in his last letter, and now, when the Premier of New South Wales triesto bring the question back to the point of view of amicable .negotiations, not between the Governments, but between the Parliaments, .the Prime Minister peremptorily breaks off the negotiations, and says that he is going to take independent proceedings. If the Prime Minister can succeed with his proposal, well and good. The end may justify the means,, provided the means, are constitutional.
– Hear. hear.
– I ask the Prime Minister to say what steps he contemplates. For instance, is he going to> delimit the territory, and then sit down and wait, or is he going to exercise powers which he says he possesses under the Constitution, and forcibly take possession of the land ?
– Powers which the Parliament, not the Government, possesses.
– I take the Prime Minister, in this connexion, to represent the Parliament. Are we going to forcibly take this land from New South Wales? Is that the intention of the Prime Minister ?
– I shall be glad to show the Bill to the honorable member in the course of a few days. Our desire is to bring forward a Bill so clearly expressing the. determination of this Parliament .that if the Government of New South Wales wish to challenge it before the High Court on the points they have already raised, they will be able to do so. That, we hope, will finally settle the matter.
– I wish I could believe that the procedure would be as final as the honorable and learned gentleman’s words suggest. We find one precious Bill in the official papers.
– The Bill to lae introduced will be different from that. That to which the honorable member refers was drawn to meet the view of New South Wales; but that view apparently has been abandoned.
– We have, in the official papers, a copy of a Bill which it was said would enable the matter to be brought before the Sigh Court.
– To meet the wishes of the Government of New South Wales.
– -But the AttorneyGeneral admits in the correspondence that it would not have been effective.
– Oh, no.
– He does. He says that it was agreed at the conference that the proposal to drive in pegs, and to bring in a Bill to enable that to be done, was a mistake.
– That is not the meaning of what he said.
– The Government of New South Wales suggested the driving in of pegs.
– As a means of bringing the matter before the High Court. What the Attorney-General of New South Wales says is practically that it is the duty of the Government of New South Wales to guard the interests of that State. He says, in effect, to the Commonwealth Government - “ It is not for us to dictate to you what you shall do.” We now have the Prime Minister accusing the New South Wales Parliament of dictating to the Commonwealth. He is accusing Mr. Carruthers of assuming a dictatorial attitude, and gives that as a reason for break- ing off the negotiations. The AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales said that it was for us to take the course open to us under the Constitution, and for the Parliament of New South Wales to look after their own rights. The Government of that State say that a mistake was made in introducing, the Bill relating to the selection of the site. We say, on the other hand, that the Government or Parliament of New South Wales made a mistake in passing certain resolutions.
– Not in passing the reso- lutions, but in excluding Dalgety from the list.
– They had as much right to exclude Dalgety - if it is a matter of right - as they had to include any of the other sites. If they had a right at all to determine the matter, it was the right to select as well as to refuse.
– We all know that they had no right at all.
– I suppose that settles it. This brilliant lawyer from the West knows all about the matter, and he is, in his present decisive mood, prepared, offhand, to settle the affairs, not only of New South Wales, but, I believe, of the whole world. I fancy that his present mood was habitual with him in Western Australia, and led to his being denominated the “Emperor of the West.” But we have no room for Emperors in these negotiations.
– Why npt wait for the Bill, which is promised to be introduced in two days?
– I do not know that the Bills of this Government give us much hope. I wish that they would bring in and pass fewer Bills. They would do infinitely less mischief to the Commonwealth if they did. At the fag end of the session the Government are throwing Bills at our heads almost as plentifully as confetti is thrown at a newly-married couple.
– I thought the honorable member wanted the question of the site settled.
– This is a matter to be determined by the lawyers, and not by the right honorable member in his off-hand way. What does Mr. Carruthers want ? He wants exactly what he asked for and was promised at the hands of tho honorable member for North Sydney. He asks that the bargain which* was made between them when they last met shall be carried out.
In a memorandum to Mr. Carruthers, the honorable member for North Sydney said -
The mandatory provision in the Bill is in regard to the determination of the site itself.
We have not selected a site. Instead of confining our determination to the selection of a site, we have passed a Bill to determine the territory within which the site shall ultimately be selected, and that is just where we went wrong with the State of New South Wales, which says, “ Under the Constitution we have a say as to the land to be granted for the territory.”
– And they also say that they will not negotiate about Dalgety.
– No/ They say, “These are the sites which we prefer to Dalgety; but if you do not like these, we shall consider the matter further.” They bar Dalgety, not finally I take it, but only at this stage of the negotiations. The Parliament of New South Wales has considered the proposals of this Parliament, and returned an answer. Had not this Parliament better consider that answer, instead of acting in a high-handed fashion and breaking off the negotiations between the two Parliaments? For a long time I have been urging the Government to consider again the proposals of the State Parliament in accordance with the definite promise which was made by the honorable member for North Sydney when he had charge of the negotiations.
– I have not been able to find that promise.
– The honorable member will find the promise in all the papers, and if he likes to ask the honorable member for North Sydney about it, he will get a definite reply. I had an assurance from him that such a promise was made.
– He was in controversy with the Government of New South Wales the whole time.
– The honorable member for North Sydney finished up by saying that he would submit the proposal of the New South Wales Government to this Parliament for further consideration. That is exactly what Mr. Carruthers is asking for now. I believe that if that arrangement were carried out it would not yet be too late to arrive in an amicable way at an understanding.
– I wonder that some other State Parliament does not take a hand in this matter as well as the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Every other State Parliament is represented in this Parliament, and therefore is taking a hand in the matter. I venture to say that if the site concerned any State other than New South Wales, the other States would verysoon be taking a hand in the business.
– The selection of the site concerns every State materially.
– The site of the Federal Capital cannot be in any State except New South Wales, and therefore the other States are not affected in the same way as it is.
– Worse luck.
– Why do not the other States take a hand in the’ matter?
– Because the site cannot be in their territory, or else they would, very quickly.
– So the Treasurer has answered the question which he asked just now.
– The other States have just as much right to have a say in this matter as has New South Wales.
– All the stirring up of the other States will not affect the position as it stands in the Constitution. Sir John Forrest. - Every other State has just as much constitutional right to move in the matter as has New South Wales.
– The other States have parted with the right to lav claim to the Capital Site.
– But they have as much right as New South Wales has to say whether it shall be in that State.
– Yes, if the Constitution gives them that right. The people of New South Wales claim the right to say where the territory shall be selected.
– If they do not want the Federal Capital let them say so, and we shall give it in some other State.
– They do want the Federal Capital in their territory. I submit to the Government that this is becoming a very serious matter in New South Wales. I want to know what they propose to do. Do they intend to make another fiasco, as thev have done with their Bills and pegs? What is to be the outcome of the independent action it _is proposed to take? I should not worry so much if I could see that the disagreement would end amicably.
– We are not near the selection of the site vet.
– We are only at the beginning of the difficulty. I submit to the Prime Minister that, even now, the matter could be settled amicably, and without all this controversy, if there was only a desire on the part of this Parliament to act fairly. So long as it takes up the attitude that it has spoken, and that there is not another word to be said, that will not lead to a settlement I submit that this Parliament is taking up a wrong attitude in treating New South Wales in a high-handed way. Before passing an Act, the Commonwealth Parliament ought to have opened up negotiations, which, I believe, would have ended in an amicable settlement of the question long ago. Instead, however, the Act of Parliament was passed, and now, when any question is raised about it, we hear the cry of “dictation.” The trouble which has thus been given rise to will continue to ramify itself through the State, creating friction and feeling which will not add to the harmony of the relations between Commonwealth and State, but can only lead to further estrangement. As the hour is now late, and we have had a somewhat trying day, I ask leave to resume my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjournedat 10.14p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051107_reps_2_28/>.