2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if he can ascertain whether the reports of outrages on Jews in Russia are true. If they are, is he prepared to move in this House a motion of abhorrence of the actions of the authors of the outrages, and expressing sympathy for the sufferers? I do not think that any expression of opinion will affect the perpetrators of the massacres, or those who administer affairs in Russia, but, if conveyed to the Chief Rabbi-
– I ask the honorable and learned member not to argue the question.
– Then I simply ask the Prime Minister if he is prepared to move such a motion, to be conveyed to the Chief Rabbi in London ?
– I hesitate to believe that such incredible atrocities as have been reported can have been perpetrated by any Christian people. The state of affairs in Russia is, at the present time, so chaotic that I suspect that themeans of obtaining intelligence as to what is proceeding there is even less trustworthy than usual. Therefore, until satisfied of the substantial truth of the statements which have been made, wemight, by carrying such a resolution as the honorable and learned member has referred to, place an undeserved imputation upon a great people who are in the throes of profound political and social change. I am sure that the whole Australian community wishes well to the Russian people in their struggles for constitutional liberty and freedom, and that the civilized world would join in reprobation of such horrible outrages as have been reported in the columns of the press. If the newspaper statements are established on some foundation making themsufficiently credible,I shall be prepared to consider whether anything said or done in Australia will help to bring to bear upon those who have been guilty of these fearful offences, the whole weight of civilized public opinion throughout the world.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman try to ascertain if the statements are true?
– I will endeavour to do so.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the following telegram from Adelaide, which appears in this morning’s issue of the Melbourne Age : -
The Chairman of the Commission, Sir John Quick, made the following statement : - “ At a meeting of the Commission on 26th October last it was decided to suspend the sittings in Adelaide on 10th November and meet in Melbourne on nth November to consider progress reports. On 28th October a statement was published in the Ministerialist organ inMelbourne to the effect that the Prime Minister had announced that no Tariff amendment was possible this session. This has rendered it necessary for the Commission to reconsider its resolution of 26th October, and the following decision has been arrived at : - ‘ That in view of the announcement in the Age of 28th ult., namely, the Prime Minister says that no Tariff amendment is possible this session, it will be neither necessary nor desirable to suspend the sittings of the Commission in Adelaide on 10th inst., in order to meet in Melbourne on nth inst., to consider the question of progress’ reports, and the resolution passed on 2nd October is hereby rescinded.’ “
Is the Prime Minister prepared to correct that statement by informing the Chairman of the Commission that he has not said that no amendment of the Tariff will be made this session, and will he ask him to make some progress report which will give this Parliament an opportunity in the present session to prevent the destruction of some of our Austral?an industries?
– By an oversight, I did not see until ten minutes ago the statement which the honorable member has read, which, I am informed, appears in both morning newspapers. Ihave hurriedly endeavoured to discover what authority there is for the statement attributed to me, but the only articlein which reference is made to the Tariff upon which I have been able to place my hands is one appearing in the Age of the 28th October, in which the remarks about the possibility of dealing with it this session are general, and in no way attributed to myself. I have no recollection of having made the statement attributed to me, or any statement which could be construed as affecting the reports of the Tariff Commission. On the contrary, when addressing this House on the Appropriation Bill, no later than last night, I pointed out that the Government must keep an open door in regard to this matter on the chance that the Tariff Commission may make a recommendation of an. urgent character, requiring to be and capable of being dealt with this session. I have no recollection of having said anything to justify the remarks of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, who is under a misapprehension. That misapprehension I will endeavour to remove.
– Does the Prime Minister think it possible to deal with Tariff questions this session with any chance of effecting anything?
– Yes, if the honorable member will stay away.
– I shall not do that.
– I do not anticipate that this session will afford much opportunity for dealing with Tariff questions generally, though it is possible that special questions may be dealt with.
– What special questions ?
-I cannot say, because I do not know what recommendations the Tariff Commission may make. The leader of the late Government foresaw the possibility of recommendations of a non-party and practical character, which could be dealt with without delay, being made by the Commission, and there are other possibilities.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council ask the Minister of Defence to take into consideration the advisability of . giving long service medals to the membersof the Naval Militia on the same terms and conditions as govern the giving of medals to the members of the Volunteer and partially-paid forces? It appears that they have Hitherto been denied these medals, but I do not see why any distinction should be made.
– I shall be very pleased to make a representation to the Minister of Defence on the subject.
-Is it the intention, of the Prime Minister to sit on Fridays after 4 o’clock in the afternoon?
– As I indicated last night, it may be necessary, for the transaction of necessary business, to ask the House to sit longer on Fridays and on other days.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to sit after 4 o’clock next Friday ?
– That will be considered.
– We should have a week’s notice.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice. -
– The information is being obtained, and answers will be furnished as early as possible. I may be able to answer the questions tomorrow.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many daily deliveries of letters are made within two miles of the General Post Offices in the capitals of all the States?
– The information is being obtained, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and answers will be furnished as early as possible. I ask the honorable member to give notice for this day week.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Public Service Regulation No. 155, relating to allowances in the Postmaster-General’s Department, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 68.
Letter from the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister on the Federal Capital Site, dated Sth November.
Motion (by Mr. King O’malley) proposed -
That Order of tEe Day No. 2 be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, 23rd November.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I think that the honorable member should be prepared to go on with the debate upon this motion. I understand that this is the last time that the House will have an opportunity to deal with private business, and, as a very important principle is involved in the motion, it is desirable that honorable members should be permitted to discuss it this afternoon.
– I understand that the honorable member for Darwin is prepared to withdraw the motion if any other honorable member is prepared to speak on the main question.. I think that it would be a pity to prevent honorable members from having an opportunity to refute the very able arguments of the honorable member for Barrier, so that as much light as possible may be thrown on the subject. While his speech appears on the pages of Hansard, no really prepared statement in reply has been published. The honorable member for Werriwa dealt with the matter historically, but he was necessarily speaking in an emergency, and without preparation. If the honorable member for Darwin will allow the discussion on the main question to proceed, I am willing, unprepared as I am, to address myself to it.
– Would it not be better to allow more time for preparation ?
– Some honorable members appear to be only too anxious that the Order of the Day should be postponed. If they are afraid to meet criticism, I can understand their anxiety ; but, otherwise,, it is difficul to account for the desire for delay. Personally, I am prepared to discuss the motion at once.
– It is highly undesirable that the Order of the Day, should be postponed, because there .are good reasons why a decision should be arrived at with regard to the policy outlined in the motion of the honorable member for Barrier. It is proposed to make such an. important departure from the policy that has hitherto been followed by the Commonwealth that a decision should not be delayed any longer than is necessary. Whilst the motion stands on the businesspaper, it may have the effect of hindering the development of wireless telegraphy, because, until persons outside are satisfied as to the intentions of this House, they cannot go forward with any enterprise. If any company were formed for the purpose of introducing a system of wireless telegraphy, they would at once be met by the objection that a proposal was now being considered by this House for acquiring control over the principal means of communication between Australia and the United Kingdom. The application of wireless telegraphy to the requirements of the people is being so rapidly extended that only yesterday we noticed a statement in the newspapers that wireless telegraphic communication was being established between different points of the dense forests of Brazil. For the reasons I have stated, I have no hisitation in opposing the proposed postponement.
– I trust that the motion will be withdrawn, and that the debate on the main question will be at once proceeded with.
– I presume that the honorable member for Barrier did not move his motion with the Object of humbugging the House or the country. I believe that the honorable member is sincere in his desire that the motion shall be carried to a practical conclusion, and I think it is important that it should be discussed at the earliest opportunity. Recently a conference met in London for the purpose of discussing the affairs of the Pacific Cable Company and its relation to the Eastern Extension Company ; and a recommendation was made that the businesses of the two companies shoul*d be 1 pooled.
– Order. It is absolutely impossible for me to closely follow what the honorable member is saying whilst conversations are proceeding, in such a loud tone all over the House. I would ask honorable members to afford me an opportunity to listen to the honorable member who is now in possession of the Chair.
– I look upon the main question as a matter well worth discussion. A great deal of correspondence has been published in the daily newspapers during the last few days with refer ence to me proposal to pool the businesses of the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Cable Company, and before anything is done in that direction, -honorable members should have an opportunity to express, their opinion. Personally, I think that it would be a mistake to enter upon any pooling arrangement upon the basis 0/ the present revenues of the respective companies, because it is well known that the Pacific’ Cable has not been worked in the past on the same business lines that have been adopted by the Eastern Extension Company.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in discussing the merits, of the motion of the honorable member for Barrier, instead of the question of postponing the Order of the Day?
– Just now, I asked honorable members to discontinue their conversations so that I might have an opportunity of hearing the honorable member for Macquarie. The conversations have, however, been continued to such an extent that it has been almost impossible for me to follow the discussion. The honorable member for Macquarie will be in order in discussing only the motion for the postponement of the Order of the Day.
– I am merely stating the reasons why I think it is desirable that we should proceed to the discussion of the main question at once. I view with alarm some of the proposals made for dealing with the business of the Pacific Cable, and I think that we should discuss the matter at the earliest possible moment. I intend to bring it under the notice of honorable members either in connexion with the discussion on the motion of the honorable member for Barrier, or during, the debate on the motion for the third reading, of the Appropriation Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 3 be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, 23rd November.
– I regret very much that the Treasurer has not seen fit to make some attempt to answer the socialistic arguments nut forward bv the honorable member for Brisbane. We know that the right honorable gentleman is at heart bitterly opposed to the proposed scheme, but he has shown intense anxiety to avoid addressing himself to the question. An exceptionally good opportunity presents itself this afternoon for a discussion of the motion, with regard to which the intentions of the Government should be declared without delay. I venture to say that if the Order of the Day is postponed, the motion will not be dealt with this session ; and it appears to me that the Treasurer either regards it with contempt or is unable to answer the arguments advanced in support of it. I can conceive of no adequate reason for postponement. Personally, I think the motion should be struck off the business-paper, and I would support any movement in that direction. Under present conditions it will appear 10 the outside world that the anti-socialistic Treasurer is unable to answer the socialistic arguments put forward by the honorable member for Brisbane, or is averse to discussing them lest he may alienate the sympathies either of his masters in the Labour Corner, or of his masters in Bunbury.
– When the honorable member for Brisbane submitted this proposal, I at once intimated that I could not support it. One of the most cogent reasons for refusing to adjourn the consideration of any item which appears upon the business-paper is that it is unfair, after honorable members have spent days in preparing themselves to discuss that subject, to suddenly proceed with the consideration of some other matter. That practice, I contend1, is a distinct breach of the privileges of honorable members, and if it be encouraged the incentive to study any question which may demand our consideration will be weakened, if it be not entirely removed. Therefore all motions of this character should be resisted. The honorable member for Brisbane, who submitted the proposal in regard to a Commonwealth note issue, has not asked for an adjournment of the debate upon it. The first portion of his motion reads -
That in the opinion of this House it is desirable that Commonwealth Treasury notes should be issued, on the lines of the Treasury notes issued by the State of Queensland.
After having devoted days to acquiring a knowledge of how the State note issue in Queensland is conducted, honorable members now find that the consideration of “this motion is to be postponed, and they are expected to retain in their memories the ma terial facts relating to that phase of the question. The honorable member for Brisbane should have been the first to rise and resist the proposed adjournment. Honorable members cannot properly deal with a new. subject at a moment’s notice. No man in the world is qualified to do that. Surely the Treasurer should have been to-day prepared to discuss the proposal to establish a Commonwealth note issue.
– He is not well.
– Then he should have arranged with somebody else to proceed with the debate. Of course, the idea that it is necessary to study any question appears to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to be a monstrous one. His contempt for knowledge is so colossal that it almost becomes laughable.
– Is the honorable and learned member’s speech the result of deep study ?
– I may tell the honorable member that I was occupied for nearly six weeks in getting together data concerning this particular question. To this end I had to study a number of books.
– I can lend the honorable and learned member some more.
– The honorable member’s assumption of knowledge is so great that everybody is convinced that he does not know what a study of any book really means.
– I must again ask honorable members to pay some attention to the remarks of the honorable and learned member. At present the conversations which are being carried on make it absolutely impossible, not only for me, but for the officers of the House to follow what is being said.
– I was pointing out that an honorable member who does not understand any subject can very easily dispose of it. If there is one proposal more than another to the adjournment of which I thought members of the Labour Party would object, it is that submitted by the honorable member for Brisbane. If by the issue of paper money, which would cost the Government perhaps a penny for every £100 note, we could absorb, as the honorable member pointed out, some millions^
– Order ! The honorable and learned member is now debating the main question, and not the motion for adjournment’.
– I am merely pointing out the reason why the Labour Partly should strenuously oppose this motion for adjournment. If by the mere issue of State notes we could increase the capital of the country-
– The honorable and learned member must see that if I permit him to make references of that character I cannot’ refuse to listen to any argument which may be advanced either for or against a Commonwealth note issue. I must ask him to confine his remarks to the motion for the adjournment.
– The second portion of the honorable member’s motion affirms -
That a reserve fund should be established for payment of the notes on demand.
Why should we adjourn the consideration of that proposal? I consider that a single day’s delay in dealing with a matter of this sort-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable and learned member in order in discussing the main issue and not the proposal for an adjournment?
– A moment or two ago I called the honorable and learned member’s attention to that fact. I must again ask him to confine himself distinctly to the question at issue.
– Can I not discuss the wisdom of adjourning the discussion upon this particular proposal ?
– The honorable and learned member has no right to enter into a discussion of the merits or demerits of the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane. He must confine his remarks strictly to the motion for the adjournment of the debate. .
– I understand that. I have not touched upon the subject-matter of the honorable member’s proposal. It would take me’ at least half-a-dozen hours to deal thoroughly with that question. By adjourning the consideration of questions which appear upon the business-paper for any particular day we take away the incentive to honorable members to prepare themselves to discuss them. Upon halfadozen occasions I have had the heart taken out of me by the adoption of that course. Therefore, I should1! like to know where it is going to end.
– Does the honorable member for Brisbane desire his motion to be shelved ?
– He wishes the Government to get on with their business.
– I am glad to learn from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane was merely a sham.
– I did not say that.
– I have merely placed upon the honorable member’s words an interpretation which I think they will bear. I have no hesitation in saying that the practice of constantly adjourning the discussion upon motions which have been set down upon the business-paper for certain days is deserving of severe reprobation.
– I do not think that the consideration of the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane should be adjourned’. The Treasurer ought to have been prepared to discuss it. It is strange that the Government who profess to be so anxious to assist the workers should desire to shelve this motion. The sooner .the motion be passed the better. Every one will then have plenty of money, and we shall all’ be able to ride in motor cars and lead a life of comfort. The honorable member for Brisbane tells us that the adoption of his proposal will enable us to set up a printing press and work off millions of pounds worth of paper money. And yet the Treasurer asks that the consideration of the motion be postponed ! He is prepared, apparently, to allow many of the people of the Commonwealth to continue in a state of poverty and distress, although by the adoption of the proposal made by the honorable member for Brisbane, we might make every one in the Commonwealth prosperous and happy.
– It is certainly peculiar that honorable mem bers who profess to be intensely interested in proposals of the kind dealt with by the honorable member for Brisbane should be anxious to shelve them - and shelve them in order to do what ?
– To do that for which the honorable member professes a desire - to push on with business, and bring the session to a close.
– Which is the more important? Such measures as the Copyright Bill, or-
– The honorable member must not discuss the Copyright Bill.
– I am merely making an incidental reference to it. My point is that honorable members- of the
Labour Party, who profess to believe in reforms that would go to the very foundation of our social life and lift from the toiling masses the great load of poverty under which they grind out an existence, are now prepared to allow the consideration of such propositions as this to be set aside in order that the House may deal with questions of copyright and other trumpery matters brought forward by the Government. The honorable member for Brisbane, in introducing his motion, showed that it was of far-reaching importance. He declared that it was unnecessary, for us to borrow money, that all that we had to do was to print, paper money for ourselves, and so secure a remedy for nearly all our social ills.
– I do not think that the honorable member made such a statement.
– The honorable member had better state what the honorable member for Brisbane did say.
– I thought that the honorable member for Parramatta at least would have been careful to correctly quote the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane.
– I have nothing to say to the honorable member for Barrier. He is altogether too proper, too superior, and clever for me. I wish I had been in the House when he made his great Socialistic surrender. He told us the other day that it was of vital’ importance to the whole Empire that certain cables should be acquired by the State. and-
– The question before the House is whether or not Order of the Day No. 3 shall be postponed. I cannot see that the matter to which the honorable member is referring has any possible bearing upon that question.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that I am entitled to refer incidentally to that matter in order to emphasize my point that great inconsistency is being shown by the honorable member in charge of this motion.
-The question of the inconsistency or otherwise of honorable members is not before the House.
– Do you rule, sir, that I may not refer to the inconsistency of the action- of the honorable member for Brisbane in agreeing to the postponement of his motion?
-The honorable member was referring to the inconsistency not of the honorable member for Brisbane, but of the honorable member for Barrier, who, so far as I am aware, has not expressed any opinion concerning the question before the Chair. I shall ask the honorable member to comply with the .standing order, of which he is as well aware as I am.
– I may have been out of order, Mr. Speaker, in replying to interjections, but the interjections themselves were disorderly. The honorable member for Brisbane shows no consistency of conduct. Will he tell me that the question of paper money is not of more importance to him than is, for instance, the question of the collection of the Commonwealth statistics?
– The matter is not under the control of the honorable member for Brisbane. The Treasurer has moved the adjournment of the debate.
– But he could not have taken that action without the consent of the honorable member for Brisbane. I venture to say that if we called for a division on this question all in the Ministerial corner would vote with the Government. I am inclined to test them. I should like the honorable member for Brisbane to say whether he considers that the proposal which he has been incubating for many months, and which he professes to regard as being of supreme importance, should be set aside to allow of the consideration of mere questions as to the census and collection of Commonwealth statistics. Does he regard his motion as of more importance than the Copyright Bill? Has his enthusiasm for his motion died away since he introduced it? It appears to me that the honorable member has been triflingwith the programme to which he professes to adhere; that he has-been trifling with large questions of social concern.. Itseems that these are matters to be played with upon the hustings, but are not for serious treatment in this House. I wassurprised to find on entering the House this afternoon that in order to allow the trumpery programme put forward by the Government to be proceeded with, honorable members were voluntarily surrendering their right to proceed with motions that are supposed to be of first-rate importance. Is there a solitary proposal in the Government programme which would give the great toiling masses whom thev are supposed by them to represent an additional crust ? What is there in the Government programme that would better their social conditions ? I can only conclude that honorable members in the Ministerial Corner, including the mover of this motion, are acting treacherously to the people who sent them here as well as to the programme which they profess to have so much at heart when they airily consent to motions standing in their name being set aside in order that trumpery Government measures, may be deal .with. The proposals which honorable members of the Labour Party, when on the hustings, declared to be of the very essence of reform are now being set aside by them, in order that they may take their places behind a Government for whom, as such, they have no respect, and facilitate the carrying out of a programme that will not be productive of any good either to themselves or to the people whom they represent. That is my criticism of the attitude of those honorable members in regard to these proposals. This afternoon, two big socialistic motions are being set aside by the Labour Party in the interests of the Government programme, which, to say .the least of it, is of no practical concern to the toiling masses of the country.
– On coming into this Chamber, I was absolutely staggered to find that the Government had asked the honorable member for Brisbane to drop his motion providing for the issue of Commonwealth Treasury notes. Considerable time has already been occupied in the discussion of the motion, at a cost to the country, according to Ihe Age, of ^200 an hour-, and now, at the end of the session, it is to be thrown aside without any determination being come to in respect to the proposals which it embodies. The Labour Party and the Ministry have a great deal to answer for in this action. I could understand postponement of the motion, with a view to allowing the Copyright Bill to be proceeded with, because of the necessity for copyrighting the shin plasters, or greenbacks, which the honorable member for Brisbane - perhaps prompted thereto by his medical training - proposes to substitute for coin of the realm. The right honorable member for Swan, in moving the postponement of the Order of the Day, has hurled another insult at the Labour Party, who apparently have not yet had their fill of such treatment, and are ready to vote for the postponement. The honorable member for Brisbane has devoted a large amount of time to this queston. His motion embodies what is the distinct policy of the Sydney Bulletin, which is the Bible or the Koran of the Labour Party. Yet, notwithstanding the fact that his proposals are so strongly advocated by these honorable members outside the Chamber, the motion is to . go for nought. The Home Rule motion was treated very differently. It was a motion which did not affect the interests of Australia at all, and could have’ only the result of disturbing the public mind. There was not even a whisper about its postponement, yet the members of the Labour Party, whilst supporting that motion, are prepared to postpone this, which they allege to be part of their socialistic programme, and of vital concern to the community. It is time that the House made a protest against such action. The members of the Opposition, who attend religiously to their parliamentary duties, have carefully watched the business paper, and came here prepared to discuss the motion. If you, Mr. Speaker, knew how many hours some of us have given to preparing ourselves to discuss the motion, you would understand our present grievance. Personally, I have been too busy to occupy myself much with questions of finance, about which I know as little as the subject knows about me; but there are those on this side, such as the honorable members for Kooyong and Grampians, who hold exalted positions in the Australian financial world, and are prepared to give the House the benefit of their experience and training.
– Where are they?
– Probably they are so grieved at what has taken place that they do not care to come into the Chamber.
– Should not the honorable member for Brisbane say whether he is willing to have the order of the day postponed ?
– He has not said anything on the subject yet, but, judging by his facial expression, he is disgusted at what, has taken place, and I should not be surprised if he stood up, and declared himself no longer a supporter of the Government which is subjecting him to this treatment. The issue of Treasury notes is a pet scheme of his. He has thought deeply on the subject, and spoken upon it exhaustively, and, as he is a man of determined character, and of independence of thought and action, I cannot understand why he submits to this absolute insult.
– The honorable member is making a hero of him.
– He is not only a hero, but a martyr. No doubt he would rise to his feet to express his indignation were it not that the great power of the caucus has silenced him. I cannot understand such servility. The Labour Party, above all others, should be opposed to the postponement of this motion, because they profess to believe that the scheme which it embodies provides a panacea for all financial evil?,. Personally I do not so regard it, because my training has been so deficient that I am unable to see that shin plasters would be better for currency than the ordinary coin of the realm. But I again emphasize the sorry treatment which is being shown to the honorable member for. Brisbane, and to honorable members like the honorable members for Kooyong and Grampians., who, no doubt, are chin-deep in the notes which they have prepared to enable them to refute the arguments which have been advanced. I offer my heartfelt sympathy to them. The Opposition would be only too glad to give every facility for the discussion of the motion, which we are prevented by the diabolic action of the Government from dealing with. Certainly the honorable member for Grey, who is an ardent Socialist, should be willing to allow to come on as soon as possible a motion which provides for making all of us rich. That would certainly be a novel position for me, and I think for him, to be in. I atn afraid, however, that, unless the notes which the honorable member for Brisbane proposes to issue are copyrighted, they will be imitated by every printing press in the country, and many will be accommodated with free board and lodging at His Majesty’s expense through endavouring to make themselves rich by following the example set by him. Those who have thought much on this; subject are of opinion that Australia, like America, will do herself injury if she substitutes paper money for coin of the realm.
– The honorable member must not discuss the motion of the honorable member for Brisbane.
– No; but I .am about to argue that the Order of the Day should not be postponed, but that we should deal with and negative the motion as soon as possible, and thus, remove all public anxiety on the subject. I regret that the honorable member for Brisbane has permitted himself to be flaunted.
– The Treasurer would not have flaunted any member of the Labour Party prior to the Western Australian elections.
– I do not intend to pursue the subject further, but I should like to know why the Labour Party have deserted the honorable member for Brisbane at the eleventh hour.
Question - That Order of the Day No. 3 be postponed - put.
The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Brown) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 4 be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, 30th November.
– I should like to know whether the honorable member has the permission of the honorable member for Parkes to move that the Order of the Day be postponed.
– He does not need that.
– I take it that a motion, should not be relegated to the outer limbo of recess without the full knowledge and consent of the mover. I should not care to take upon myself the responsibility of moving the postponement of a motion to which the honorable and learned member for Parkes attaches the utmost importance without having first obtained his authority.
– I can understand the righteous indignation of the honorable member “for Wentworth at the presumption of the honorable member for Canobolas. But it seems to me that it is incumbent upon the former honorable member to explain the absence of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. It is quite within the province of the House to say what shall be done with regard to any motion, irrespective of the wish of the mover. In my humble judgment, the action taken1 by the Opposition to-day amounts to a deliberate waste of time.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in making such statements.
– I withdraw my remark. In view of the fact that it is futile, at this stage of the session, to discuss motions of a contentious character standing in the names of private members, the Prime Minister was justified in asking honorable members to give up the time previously devoted to private members’ business. Yet honorable members opposite are expressing their indignation at the action of the Government. We have had afforded to us another illustration of the objects whch honorable members of the Opposition have in view.
– The honorable member is not discussing the question of postponement.
– Honorable members opposite are objecting to the postponement of the Order of the Day, but I ask what would be the effect of allowing the main question to be discussed ? Honorable members of the Opposition claim to be the keepers of the consciences of honorable members on this side of the House. What right have thev to dictate to us?
-Will the honorable member discuss1 the question before the Chair?
– I resent the references of honorable members opposite to the waste of time, when the Government sire making an honest effort to get on with the business of the country.
– The question whether, in regard to some other motion, or even in connexion with the question now before us, there has been a waste of time, is not before the Chair. The matter for discussion is whether a particular Order of the Day be postponed.
– If the honorable member were to embody his views in a leading article, and forward them to the Age for publication, he would save time.
– My political conscience is not in the keeping of the Age.
– The question of political conscience*, is not now before the Chair.
– We frequently hear this parrot -cry about waste of time.
– Order ! The honorable member must obey the ruling I have given, and confine his remarks to the question whether the Order of the Day should be postponed. The remarks he is now making might be appropriate at some other time, but not on the present occasion.
– It is a matter of surprise to me that any opposition should be offered to the proposed postponement, because it must be recognised that it would be absolutely impossible to reach any finality in regard to the main question. In fact, it is absolutely impossible, within the time devoted to private business, to attain practical results in regard to anycontentious questions submitted by honorable members. It is a well-established practice for the leader of the Government to ask honorable members, towards the close__of the session, to forego the time allotted to private business, and I hope that we shall get on with the practical work of the country.
– I desire to again place on record my opinion that the time devoted to the discussion) of private members’ business is wasted, and I am glad to find the honorable member for Moira agreeing with me. Let me remind the honorable member, however, that every care was taken to see that finality was reached in regard to the Home Rule question., and that there is no reason why we should not also arrive at some decision with regard to the motion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, which is one of great international importance. The Government have, within the last three weeks, indicated that they are willing to agree to a modification of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Then why should we discuss the matter twice?
– We havenot yet discussed it once, and perhaps, if the discussion of the main question were now proceeded with, less time would be occupied in dealing with the Government proposal. I venture to say that, unless we arrive at a decision with regard to the motion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, we shall before very long be compelled to direct our attention to the subject therein dealt with. If honorable members opposite are content to allow motions to be introduced and partly discussed, and then struck off the businesspaper, the charge of waste of time should be preferred against them rather that against members of the Opposition.
– I should like to learn from the Government whether we are to regard the procedure which has been adopted this afternoon as an intimation that all the private members’ business upon the notice-paper is now to be wiped out?
– Anintimation to that effect was made last night, and notice of motion in reference to it was given to-day.
– I am interested in one matter which was introduced by a private member, and I still hope to have an opportunity of speaking upon it. Am I to understand that all private members’ business is now to be wiped off the notice-paper by the force of the majority supporting the Government ?
– We shall deal with that matter to-morrow. It is not unusual to postpone the consideration of business.
– If what has been done this afternoon represents the first step towards wiping outall private members’ business, I protest against that course of procedure.
– The conscience of every honorable member is, I believe, in his own keeping. No honorable member should, pass strictures upon another for taking the course which he thinks it necessaryto follow in the best interests of the country. Those who talk so glibly about their political consciences will have to explain their actions outside this House. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Parkes is one of the most important matters that we can discuss. As the honorable member for Grampians has suggested, the course which has been fol lowed this afternoon is the first step towards clearing the notice-paper of private members’ business. Personally, I do not think that we can debate anything more important than a proposal to amend our legislation in regard to alien immigration. When honorable members reflect upon the relations which exist between England and Japan, they must recognise the necessity of taking some steps to remove the friction which has been engendered by our legislation.
– The reasons which led me toargue against the proposal to adjourn the consideration of the first two motions upon the business-paper this afternoon do not operate in this case. I frankly confess that I did not expect that we should be called upon to deal with this particular matter to-day, and consequently I do not intend to oppose the motion.
– I have no desire to delay the transaction of business in any way. I was very much surprised to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Moira, who practically accused the Opposition of attempting to waste time. I was not present when the division was taken this afternoon, but the vote by the Opposition was cast for two reasons. The first was a desire to emphasize the uselessness of the discussions which sometimes occur on Thursday afternoons, and the second was a desire to protest against the action of honorable members in parading as champions of a certain section of the people, and, after wasting the time of the country, deliberately setting their proposals aside in favour of others, which they do not regard as of the slightest possible consequence. The vote recorded this afternoon was cast not because we are in favour of “ shin plasters,” or any such quack nostrums, but because we are opposed to the time of the House being occupied in purposeless discussion by certain honorable members, who afterwardsabjectly surrender all those proposals which they themselves have declared to be of vital importance to the community. I hope that we shall proceed with the transaction of business without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the consideration of this Order of the Day be postponed till to-morrow.
I recognise the importance of this measure, and I am anxious to proceed with it, in accordance with a request by Senator Neild, in whose charge it was in the Senate. As, however, I do not agree with the Bill in its entirety, I have written to him in reference to it. Unfortunately he has been so ill that he has been unable to reply to my communication. I am, however, expecting aletter, from him this afternoon, and if it should come to hand, I shall be prepared to move the second reading of the measure to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) pro posed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Before this Bill finally passes, I desire to make one or two observations, although without any intention to delay it, because I am just as anxious as are the Government to send it to the Senate, so that it may receive that fair consideration to which it is entitled at the hands of that Chamber. My desire to see the measure passed at this apparently early stage of the session - I say “apparently early” because of the announcement whichwas made bv the Prime Ministerlast evening - does not spring from anywish to serve the Government. I think that, in view of the Ministerial deliverance last night, they are entitled to no consideration whatever. I have no hesitation in saying that the Prime Minister’s speech - having regard to the professed eagerness of all sections of the House to get into recess - was neither more nor less than a deliberate insult to this Chamber. The strange” feature about that deliverance was that, whereas it occupied nearlv an hour and a quarter, the speech in which the Prime Minister forecasted the whole business programme for the session absorbed only a quarter of an hour. In view of all that we have been led to believe by Ministers themselves, and by the Government Whip, I say that the outline of proposals which the Prime Minister laid before us was neither more nor less than an insult to this House. It is quite clear that the only result of his action will be the undue prolongation of the session. Certainly, his speech will not make for those harmonious relations which ought to exist between all sections of the House when the end of the session is in view, and whenthe closing of Parliamentwould. seem to become a public duty. Personally, I regard the programme which the Government put before us last night as the veriest pretence. I do not believe that it is seriously intended to push through all the measures which were outlined by the Prime Minister. I say that the honorable and learned gentleman paid the House a very poor compliment when he put before us such a stuffed and inflated programme. It would have been far more in keeping with the dignity of the Ministry, supposing they had any honest desire to transact the public business, had they - as is customary at this stage of the session - jettisoned the political cargo which they believed they could not carry, and invited the cooperation of all sections of the House in an effort to close Parliament. That is what every other Commonwealth Government has done, and what is being done in the States Parliaments today. There is no State in which the Premier has not, ere this, sought the cooperation of honorable members in an effort to close the session. After the reference ofthe Prime Minister last evening to, a conversation which I had with him, I should like to tell honorable members exactly what took place between us. I told the Prime Minister that, so far as I was concerned, he could have the Appropriation Bill at once, if he would declare what business the Government proposed to proceed with, and if he would only put before us a reasonable programme. When I made that proposal I did not imagine that he intended to outline a programme which is even fuller than that set out in the business-paper. Who expected to hear a declaration that the Government were aboutto withdraw the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and to introduce an entirely new measure at this period of the session? Who believed that we were to Be kept here, if need be, tilt Christmas, to pass the union label proposals in the Trade Marks Bill ? The opinion generally held was that the further consideration of these matters was to be deferred till next session.
– Of course the honorable member is in the “ know.”
– The honorable member himself knew differently. The Opposition have been wasting time during the whole session in an endeavour to prevent the Trade MarksBill from being passed.
– I do not know that it will facilitate the conduct of business if accusations of that character are to be constantly hurled across the Chamber.
– The honorable member himself is the greatest offender in that respect.
– If the honorable member desires that all sections of the House shall co-operate in expediting the transaction of public business, it is not wise to unfairly accuse the Opposition of wasting time. I hope that the honorable member for Moira is quite satisfied to-day. Last night he trounced the Government for keeping the House in session through all these weary months, thereby causing him to neglect his business.
– I trounced the Opposition.
– The honorablemember’s remarks were directed to the Government. He urged that an earnest effort should be made to bring the session to a close, and no one could take exception on the score of party fealty to his attitude. He had every right to speak as he did ; but what was the answer he received? Instead of indicating that the Government intended to bring the session to a close as soon as possible, the Prime Minister proceeded to load up the business-paper with measures which have not the slightest chance of being passed before Christmas by both Houses of the Legislature.
– I wish to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.] Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- Onlookers last night must have have been struck by the Prime Minister’s affectation of simplicity and candour as he spoke of the harmlessness of the programme which he enunciated. With that fluency with which he is specially gifted he reeled off first one measure and then another, and his comment upon each of them was, “ This should not take long, if honorable members do not discuss it too fully.” Does the honorable and learned gentleman expect us to discuss the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill, and also the Sugar Bounties Bill?
– Does he expect us to discuss the Capital Site question, and also the Harvester Trust Bill, which he has promised to introduce? I venture to say that the honorable and learned gentleman will find that the last-named measure will provoke the keenest feeling in all parts of the House. All these matters are in the highest degree controversial.
– But that should not prevent us discussing them.
– I am not suggesting that it should; I am merely pointing out that we shall not have time before Christmas to carry out the programme outlined last night by the Prime Minister.
– There is plenty of time between this and Christmas.
– I am afraid that the honorable member will find that there is not sufficient time to discuss the whole of the Government programme.
– It depends upon what is meant by “ discussion.”
– The honorable member was an authority on that subject when he was in Opposition. At that time we had often to listen to speeches extending over four, five, and six hours.
– The late Government were treated very liberally in that regard.
– Their Estimates were practically put through in one night.
– I am. not aware of that, and it is not, I think, correct. My point is that the Prime Minister, instead of jettisoning some of his political cargo, as is customary towards the close of a session, has submitted a programme which is for the most part entirely new. All the talk which we have heard as to speedily concluding the business of the session and getting into recess is therefore so much moonshine. The proposals outlined last night by the Prime Minister are of first importance to the people of Australia. The honorable and learned member has a way that is unequalled of making out a case for the passing of an innocent-looking little measure when it is really one of a party character. We all remember in what dire and ominous tones he spoke before he came into office of the position of the defences of Australia; but it would appear that the matter is now of no concern.
– It is a matter of much concern.
– Similarly, the honorable and learned gentleman wishes to hasten a Harvester Trust Bill through the House, on the ground that it will deal with a peril that is threatening the civilization of the nation.
– I said, that it was threatening most of the civilized nations.
– Whenever the honorable and learned gentleman wishes to push a Bill through the House, he speaks in such portentous and lugubrious tones, that one would imagine that our civilization was about to collapse; Might I remind him, however, that this question of the Harvester Trust is not nearly so important as he would have us believe? It would not have been considered such an urgent matter but for the lobbying that has been going on. It is time that this practice was checked.
– Lobbying has not been confined to one section. When the Tariff was under discussion, the importers indulged in lobbying just as freely as did any other section of the community.
– The honorable member cannot cite a case in point.
– The spirit merchants were here.
– Order! Ordinary interjections are bad enough, but when conversations are carried on in loud tones across the Chamber, it is impossible for the honorable member addressing the Chair to continue his speech.
– I have never been closeted with any importers, nor, 50 far as I am aware, with any manufacturers.
– I did not say that the honorable member had. All that I said was that lobbying was indulged in by both sides.
– We have seen the Harvester Trust of Australia endeavouring to manipulate honorable members of this House in a way that is most undesirable. One day they are with the Prime Minister, and another day are closeted with the leader of the Labour Party. There may be some excuse for the Prime Minister, however, because a large harvester manufactory is situated within his electorate. Then, again, we see these men closeted with certain honorable senators ; and so the lobbying goes on. The whole thing is nothing more than a scareheaded movement, and an attempt to try to rush the Government off its feet. There is absolutely no justification at present for the action which they propose to take. I am not here to say that there is no inherent danger in the opera tions of a trust. I should be very sorry tosay that Mr. McKay might not be injured by the International Harvester Trust. If such, a thing did occur, I should be prepared, like other honorable members, to consider it,, and to deal with it in the interests of Australia in the broadest possible way. But a mere threat ‘of competition between trade rivals should not be a justification for our passing hasty legislation upon the ipse dixit of one of the interested parties. Moreover, there is a Commission sitting at the present time which ought to investigate this matter, just as it has investigated various other questions relating to the Tariff. One of the parties to the dispute is anxious to go before the Commission, and to have the facts thoroughly sifted. I therefore hope that the Government will not ask the Parliament to pass hasty legislation on the ground that some of the people concerned in this matter are living in Australia, while others are residing in other parts of the Empire.
– Action has been taken bv New Zealand.
– But the Act m question is not operating.
– It is.
– That statement shows that the honorable gentleman cannot have read the measure in questionIt must remain in suspense until it is put into motion by the special circumstances to which” it is’ to apply. Before it can operate those circumstances have to thoroughly verify themselves. The fact that it is not operating is the best proof that the evil which it was intended to cure does not exist. We might very well wait until this evil is upon us before passing hasty legislation to cope with it.
– The New Zealand Act was only passed five or six days ago.
– I am’ afraid that when the honorable gentleman is influenced by party feeling his arithmetic is not accurate.
– Has the measure in question really passed the Upper House?
– Yes, it is already upon the statute-book. It is not intended to operate until a positive peril arises to put it in motion. It is more or less a useless piece of legislation.
– Not at all.
– I regret that we should be getting into our heads the notion that as long as we are passing Bills, regardless of whether or not they are designed to meet a real peril, we are rendering good service to Australia. I honestly believe that if we could shut every Parliament in Australia for the next twelve months, the affairs of the country would proceed quite smoothly. The burden of seven Parliaments, which the handful of people living in Australia have to carry, is causing at the present time infinitely more mischief than it cures. I am raising my protest as strongly as I can against the passing of hasty legislation, and certainly am not prepared, when the House ought to be in recess, to remain here to consider measures designed to meet an imaginary peril. If the peril in regard to the Harvester Trust were real, it could be verified, and verified by means of the Tariff Commission, which is now sitting. Let Mr. McKay go before that Commission, and1, prove that he is being injured by an outside trust. Even in that event, the House would have to consider very seriously how it should discriminate between a trust that is outside Australia and one that is within it. The whole of this trouble has arisen from the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs. Things would have gone on as they were but for his pettifogging interference, and his arbitrary action in. raising the valuation placed upon imported harvesters. His action was taken apparently without any justification. At all events, he has never justified it in this House. The procedure which he adopted was a challenge to outside firms, if they had resources at their disposal, to enter the engagement l which he so foolishly precipitated, i The menace which is supposed to be hanging over Australia is due to the de- liberate and wilful action of the Minister 1 of Trade and Customs, and it would be unreasonable to ask Parliament to remain in session until Christmas to pass measures which have been provoked in this way. Even yet there is no evidence of any injury having; been done. I am desirous of seeing the Appropriation Bill sent to the other Chamber, because there is a body of men there who will give some considera; tion to the finances of the country, al- ; though a large number of honorable! mem- bers here on the Government side have 1 been absolutely dumb on the subject.
– Did the Opposition attempt to make any alteration in the Estimates ?
– How could we do so, when the honorable member’s party was opposed to it ?
– Were not the Estimates prepared by the late Government?
– No Government ever brings down Estimates, and says, “ We “will stand by every line.” Once the House gets into Committee of Supply, the Estimates are the property of the Committee. Honorable members opposite, if they had wished to consider the finances of the country, should not have been dumb, as they were during the consideration of the Estimates. Those who claim to be the watch-dogs of the people were dumb while millions of pounds were being voted away. As to the other measures on “the Government programme, we, on this side, will try to give them our best consideration, in order to meet, as far as possible, the public interest, and to make them as little harmful as we can to the various interests of Australia. Whether this will occupy a long or a short time will depend on the nature of the proposals. I have already indicated that they are highly controversial, and I hope that the1 Government will not complain if they are debated at length. Nothing more will be attempted on this side than to give them reasonable consideration.. But the fact that the noticepaper is being choked at the end of the session will not deter us from doing what other sections of the House seem to have lost all thought of doing - paying attention to the needs and interests of the community.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– It is not my intention to delay the passing of the Bill more than a few minutes,, but I. wish to emphasize some of the remarks made by the deputy leader of the Opposition in regard to the programme outlined by the Prime Minister last night. I had not the pleasure, being otherwise engaged, of hearing, what he said, but I read a report of his speech this morning. I consider it evidence of the demoralization of this Parliament that the leader of the House can, at this period of the session, come forward with such a programme for this and next session. He must know that if proper and reasonable debate takes place on some of the measurer on his programme, they cannot be carried before
Christmas, even if we sit five days a week. The discussion of the principle of pre.ference to unionists occupied the best part of three months last session, and many of us consider the union label provision a much more dangerous proposal. I intend to debate it to the utmost of my power, and to employ all the forms of the House to prevent it from becoming law. The Prime Minister’s programme for next session is marked by the most flagrant breach of faith ever committed by an Australian political leader. All sections of the Protectionist Party, and one section of the Free-trade Party, in this Parliament, are committed, to fiscal peace.
– The honorable and learned member is going beyond the question before the Chair.
– I desire only to comment as briefly as may be, and for not more than five minutes, upon the speech of the Prime Minister last evening. He says that it is- his intention to make the revision of the Tariff the chief item of his programme next session.
– Even if the Prime. Minister incidentally made such a remark last evening - as I believe he did - that does not justify the honorable and learned member in speaking on the matter now. If I permitted him’ to occupy five minutes in making such a reference, it might lead to hours of debate.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
-I shall not attempt to discuss the intentions of the Government in regard to the fiscal question, but I look upon the Prime Minister’s statement as an almost unparalleled breach of faith with the electors. I hope that the recent hypocritical references to adverse criticism from outside will cease in the face of such a going back, without justification or excuse, on a distinct and deliberately adopted platform pledge.
– The honorable and learned member is not now discussing the question before the Chair.
– My remarks are pretty general.
– The honorable and learned member need not get angry.
– Who can see the Treasurer in his present position without feeling, if not anger, great contempt ? Did not I hear him in the Masonic HaU last year, arrayed in an immaculate dress suit ind snowy shirt front. lay it down as a principle that to give a preference to one worker over another would be to perform an immoral and degrading action? Now however, he is a member, of a Government which is swallowing, as if it liked it, that principle to which he was so much opposed. Het is now obeying the dictates of the Labour Party - more power to them if they can retain his support - and must vote for the principle which he has denounced, and which is from his point of view immoral. I do not blame the members of the Labour Party for supporting that principle, because it is a plank in their platform, but those who have stated their conviction against it should not, for the sake of the temporary retention of office, turn round and swallow their views. Had the late Government remained in office, the Treasurer and the Vice-President of the Executive Council could have been relied upon to vote against the union label provision.
– They have since seen the error of their ways.
– They have seen that they cannot remain in office without swallowing their principles. Probably one or two other Ministers would vote against the principle, were it not for their desire to retain office. But they have to kiss the rod.
– The party to which the honorable and learned member belongs brought the Bill from the Senate.
– No. The union label provision was inserted in the Bill by Senator Pearce, a member of the Labour Party for. whom I have the greatest respect, but it was pointed out at the time that the provision was probably unconstitutional, and one of the most eminent counsel in Australia,, a man of the most judicial temperament, has given an opinion in support of that contention,
– The honorable and learned member may not discuss the merits or demerits of the union label provision.
– I desired to discuss the programme of business put before the House by the Prime Minister last night, but as I presume that another opportunity will be provided for doing so, I shall not deal with the matter further now, beyond saying that’ if there is to be reasonable discussion of the Government proposals they cannot be carried into effect between now and Christmas. If we are to be called upon to deal with any of these proposals, I shall insist, as far as possible, upon the attendance of the Ministers in charge of them. The Trade Marks Bill contains a number of technical and important clauses, and yet the Minister in charge of the measure was absent for the greater part of ‘the time that at was under discussion. If that course is persisted in, it cannot be regarded as other than a flagrant insult to members of the Opposition.
– That statement is quite unwarranted.
– It is all very well for the Attorney-General to say that. When I thought that the Attorney-General was unjustifiably attacked, I supported his action, and I shall not hesitate now to express my opinion that he has acted discourteously. I think that it is distinctly improper for a Minister, who is in receipt of the emoluments of office, not to attend this House whilst a Bill of which he has charge is under discussion.
– That cannot apply to me.
– When the honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable and learned member for Corinella, two of the most able men in this House, were making weighty and argumentative speeches, the Attorney-General was not present to hear them.
– It does not follow that I was absent throughout the whole of the discussion.
– I hope that we may take it that the Attorney-General will be in attendance here when the Bill as further discussed, and that some effort will be made by the Government to open our doors to reputable British immigrants. Something could be done in that direction before the session closes, but I shall be very much surprised if any earnest effort is made by the Government. No doubt a strong endeavour will be made to pass into law the provision in the Trade Marks Bill relating to union labels, but I do not expect to see anything like the same anxiety manifested with regard to the amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act. The masters of the Government want the union label, but they do not care to encourage the immigration of reputable British citizens, unless they have money in their pockets.
– What do the honorable member’s masters want? They do not want the union label.
– Like the Treasurer and the Vice-President of the Executive
Council, I do not like the union label, but the difference between us ‘is that I shall vote against it, whilst they will record their votes in favour of it. I did not speak upon more than two occasions when the Estimates were under discussion, because I did not wish in any way to delay their progress. I think it is desirable that we should afford the other branch of the Legislature the fullest opportunity to consider the financial proposals of the Government. I cannot help coming to the conclusion that the greater number of the Bills now on the business-paper are like so many goods in a shop window, intended for mere display, and that the Government have no real intention to pass any measures except those which meet with the unqualified approval of those lucky honorable members who sit in the Labour corner.
– I think it is rather unfair to charge honorable members on this side of the Chamber with remaining dumb when important matters are under consideration. I have been endeavouring for a week past to bring under the notice of Ministers a most important matter, but whilst honorable members of the Opposition speak at such length, it almost becomes the duty of honorable members, who desire to see the business of the country transacted, to remain silent. In the Age of 7th November, an article was published relating to the new examination system which is being adopted in connexion with Australian Artillery commissions. It is alleged that this change has been made in consequence of the discussion which took place in this House upon my motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the Defence Regulations. The Army Administration Board, after having laboured for several weeks, have produced a scheme which is said to be intended to remedy the evils complained of, and to give effect to the desire expressed by honorable members that every reasonable opportunity shall be afforded to rankers to obtain commissions. The Prime Minister, upon the 14th September, expressed the opinion that it was only right that professional as well as literary qualifications should have full weight attached to them in the examination. Now I desire to direct attention to the new proposals. The articles, after referring to existing anomalies, states that -
The new regulation - the first examination under which takes place in the week ending 16th December - alters all this materially, and dispenses with the special, confidential military board. The examination itself is divided into two parts, compulsory and voluntary, and the candidate who did not score heavily in literary subjects might, by special military and practical subjects, score over a purely “ college stuffed “ competitor.
That will be a very good thing if it is only carried out. The statement, however, appears to be all padding, because, when we examine ‘the proposed regulations, we can see what their effect will be. It is stated, further -
The compulsory subjects are mathematics (including the first three books of Euclid) English, geography, and English history, from 1850 to the present time, “ especially with reference to Australia and other British dependencies.” To pass candidates must get 5 in each subject. The voluntary subjects, 10 in number, include some of the old “compulsories,” like mensuration, French or German, logarithms, in which it is possible to get from 50 to 100 marks; and the following new subjects : - Military history and strategy, tactics, military engineering, military topography, military law. Text books : - “ Defence Acts “ and “ Commonwealth Military Regulations.”
It will be seen that the new subjects include military history, about which the ordinary artilleryman is likely to know little or nothing, and that the text books are to be the Defence Acts and the Commonwealth Military Regulations.
– God help the ranker !
– That is the way in which it is proposed to help the ranker. All his knowledge of the practical working of guns is to go for nothing, and he is to be subjected to a purely theoretical examination. It is also stated in the article that the subjects are to be divided into obligatory and optional subjects, and that -
In order to count marks in a voluntary subject, says a footnote, candidates must obtain 5.5 in that subject. The marks so obtained will be added to those gained in the obligatory subjects. The candidate who obtains the highest total’ in the obligatory and voluntary will (provided he has “ qualified “ in the obligatory subjects”) receive the appointment.
Therefore, a candidate is to be examined in ten subjects, five of which are to be voluntary, and five obligatory, and the candidate who obtains the highest total in both classes of subjects will come out at the top of the tree. It was distinctly promised that the whole system should be revolutionized, and upon that understanding the proposal for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the Regulations was defeated. I was certainly under the impression that an honest attempt would be made to give full effect to the intentions of hon orable members, but 1 am sadly disappointed with the new system of examination. It is necessary for candidates to obtain five marks in each of the compulsory subjects, which include mathematics, English, geography, and English history. Any ordinary college man would be able to pass in those subjects. The voluntary subjects include French, of which the ordinary artilleryman could scarcely be expected to know anything; German, with which they would be equally unfamiliar; and logarithms, with which it is extremely unlikely they would have any acquaintance. The whole of the voluntary subjects are not mentioned, but I imagine that they would include Latin and Greek, and I would ask whether the test proposed to be applied can be considered a fair one, so far as artillerymen are concerned. I do not propose to delay the passing of the Appropriation Bill, but I think that it is time that action was taken to secure fulfilment of the promises made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. The only concession that seems to have been made is the abolition of the confidential board, before whom the men formerly had to appear. That is something gained, and possibly I may, by persistent effort, be able to improve the conditions for rankers of merit who desire to obtain commissions. Unfortunately, I am afraid that, instead of having effected a change for the better, I have placed the men in a less favorable position than previously, because, instead of some of the subjects being purely voluntary, as was previously the case, the marks gained in connexion with such subjects are now to count in the total, and will go a long way towards securing preference to candidates, other than men who are now rankers. I wish to direct attention to another matter of urgency in connexion with the military review to be held on Monday next. It appears to me that some of the military officers are deceiving the Minister. On 31st October I asked the Minister, in reference to the consecration of banners and the holding of a military religious service, whether he would state -
How many chaplains there are of the Baptist, Congregational, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Unitarian denominations ?
The answer was -
Nineteen Church of England chaplains and five Presbyterians -
I did not wish to know anything about the ministers of these denominations, because
I was already aware that they were connected with the Forces. two Roman Catholics -
There is not one Roman Catholic chaplain in Victoria, to which State the question was obviously directed - one Methodist.
This answer is merely a pretence at frankness on the part of the Department. As a matter of fact, quite unnecessary information is given, and some of it is incorrect. Another question was -
Does he think the prayer set out is acceptable to the non-Christian members of the Forces?
The answer given was -
The Minister is not in a position to judge.
I contend that that is not a straightforward reply. I intend presently to read a portion of the prayer, so that honorable members may judge for themselves. Before doing so, however, I should like to relate a story in reference to the late President of the Transvaal. Upon one occasion Mr. Kruger was asked to open a Jewish synagogue in Johannesburg. He attended, and opened the synagogue with the statement -
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I declare this synagogue open.
Kruger may have called it consistency, but personally I regard that as blasphemy.’ In the prayer which it is proposed to use at the consecration of the banners, constant reference is made to “ Jesus Christ our Lord.” Can such a prayer be acceptable to Jewish members ofthe Forces, or should we compelthem to stay away ? Upon the 26th October last, the statement was made in this House that the prayer to be used would be acceptable to all denominations. Upon the 31st October, I asked if it would be acceptable to non-Christian members by reason of the constant references which it contained to “ Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Minister’s reply was that he was not in a position to judge. I do not think that that statement is true. I then asked -
Will only members of the denominations whose chaplains are represented at such service be expected to pay for its cost?
The reply given by the Minister was -
Members of the Forces do not pay for the cost of chaplains, except in an indirect way as taxpayers.
In consequence ofthat reply, which is quite inaccurate and misleading, it has been necessary for some chaplains to write to the newspapers stating that chaplains receive no remuneration whatever. I also asked -
Will the Minister of Defence permit members of the Permanent Forces, and such members of the Militia and Volunteer Forces as require such military parade for efficiency, to absent themselves from this religious ceremony ?
The reply was -
No members are obliged to attend this parade- in order to be classed as efficient.
I would point out that when a similar matter was discussed last year, the then Minister of Defence stated that he would permit members of the Permanent Forces to be absent from the ceremony if they had any objection to it. I regret that the present Minister does not intend to adopt an equally liberal attitude upon this matter. Last year, in consequence of the protestswhich were made by some of the churches, the members of the militia and volunteer forces were informed, immediately prior to the service, that if they did not choose to attend it, they were at liberty, during its progress,to parade in some other portion of the ground. Yet, despite what was ‘done upon that occasion, the Minister has supplied incomplete and inaccurate answers tomy questions. In order to be classed as efficient, a man in the militia has to attend a certain number of parades each year. If he does not, he is classed as non-efficient, and cannot draw his pay. It may be that some members of the Forces - if they cannot attend next Monday’s parade - will be classed as inefficient. Last year three dominations made a public protest against the use of a similar prayer. Archbishop Carr publicly warned the Roman Catholic members of the Forces not to attend the service if this form of prayer were adopted. Of my own knowledge, some men absented themselves from that parade on account of the prayer which was used, although they might have required to attend it in order to be classed as efficient. I do not think that we should create such a position as that. We ought not to maketheduty of any member of the Forces conflict with his religious principles.
– How would the collision arise ?
– Last year, the members of certain denominations were warned not to attend the parade if this form of prayer was to be used. . Their duty to their country required their attendance; their loyalty to their church required them to absent themselves. It may seem a trifling matter, but there is a vital principle underlying it.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member.
Mr.CROUCH. - I know that there are men who very strongly object to the form of this prayer. I have been assured that in a certain battalion three officers, who are Roman Catholics, will not attend next Monday’s parade if this prayer is to be read, without leave to retire during the service.
– If the matter had been pointed out earlier, the cause of the honorable and learned member’s grievance might have been removed.
– Last year I moved the adjournment of the House in order to refer to it. Upon that occasion the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who was then Minister of Defence, stated that the members of the Permanent Forces need not attend the service if they had conscientious scruples against so doing, but refused to give similar rights to militiamen and volunteers. Upon the 14th November last, after my protest, the officers, noncommissioned officers, and men were informed that if they chose to absent themselves from the religious ceremony they were at liberty to parade in some other portion of the ground during its progress.
– What are the three denominations to which the honorable and learned member has referred?
– The form of the prayer was objected to by the Seventh Day Adventists, by the Congregationalists, and by the Roman Catholics.
– This difficulty does not occur in any other State.
– No. Until MajorGeneral Hutton came to Australia, such prayers were never read. I also object to the new form of enlistment. That is another matter into which the Minister might with advantage inquire. Although a promise was made by the Minister of Defence in the Watson Government that the practice would be discontinued, a volunteer who wishes to enrol in the Forces is still asked, “What is your religion?” I omit the reply to that question in every enlistment form that I am called upon to fill up. Why should any man be asked to state his religion ? When this matter was brought under the attention of Major-
General Hutton, he replied that the reason for the question was that the authorities wished to know what form of burial should be accorded a member of the Forces when he died.
– That statement isquite in keeping with the actions of the late G.O.C.
– These are slight matters, but I repeat that they touch vital principles.
– I desireto make a personal explanation. Last evening, as well as upon several previous occasions, when referring to the question of the Federal Capital Site and the relations of the lateMinister of Home Affairs with the Government of New South Wales, the accuracy of my statements has been questioned. For instance, I have told the Housethat the late Minister of Home Affairs, when conducting negotiations with Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, made a definite promise that Hewould submit the proposals of that gentleman to this Parliament. I have had no communication with the honorable member for North Sydney, who is unfortunately absent this week, but this afternoon I received the following telegram from him : - .
Sydney Telegraph, 10th June, and doubtlessMelbourne papers, contains under Commonwealth notes one of several statements made by me, that New South Wales Capital resolutions would receive the consideration of the Federal Parliament.
That wire confirms the statement which I made, and which was perfectly within my knowledge when I made it.
– It does not appear upon the files.
– I propose to react the statement to which the telegram relates. It is as follows : -
It is the intention of the Government to submit the Federal Capital question at an early date to Parliament. The procedure will probably be by way of resolution, though this hasnot yet been determined. The proposal is toallow (he whole subject to be discussed, and theresolutions adopted by the New South WalesParliament to be considered.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will make someexplanation in reply to the remarks of thehonorable and learned member for Corio. The matter which he has brought forward is an important one, especially in view of the fact that in Australia we have no State religion. I do not think that we ought to permit anything to be done which will tend to create ill-feeling between the members of our Defence Force, owing to their religiousviews.
Mr.DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - I propose to inquire into ail. the statements made by the honorable and learned member for Corio, with a view to ascertaining if we cannot adopt the less objectionable practice which was adopted last vear.
– In deference to the wishes of honorable members who desired to catch their trains, I brought my speech on. the motion for the second reading of this Bill to a somewhat abrupt termination last night, reserving the further observations that 1 wish to offer until the third-reading stage had been reached. I pointed out last night that in less than five years special appropriations to the extent of£454,500 had been put beyond the reach of our criticism, and I wish to emphasize the point that in this way we are seriously interfering with the parliamentary control of the public funds. If we are not careful we shall find that there will be practically nothing to discuss in connexion with the annual Appropriation Bill. One of the matters in respect of which I think the Government are deserving of condemnation is that they are allowing a state of affairs to exist in connexion with the Customs Department that is fraught with great danger to the Commonwealth. Under the Customs Act the Minister for the time being is placed absolutely above the law, and is given powers which should be absolutely repugnant to that sense of justice which ought to obtain in an Anglo-Saxon community. Nevertheless, this matter is so lightly regarded by most honorable members that an attempt to discuss it is practically resented by them. My objection to this state of affairs is not a new one. When the Customs Bill was under consideration I pointed out that under certain clauses there would be absolutely no appeal from the decision of the Minister. At the time the full force of my objection was not recognised by the House. Many honorable members inquired what harm could result from such a system, and urged that no Minister would dream of so exercising his powers as to inflict injustice upon any person having relations with the Department. But many cases have arisen sunder these provisions, in which the parties concerned would have appealed again and again from the arbitrary decision of the Minister had that course been open to them. We have placed in the hands of the Minister a power that must lead to very serious results. When the Customs Bill was before us the scandals connected with the Lands Department of New South Wales had not been brought to light, but I pointed to the unsatisfactory results which had attended the placing of arbitrary powers in the hand’s of the Minister of Lands in that State, and urged that the absence of the right to appeal from the -decision of the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to various questions would give rise to trouble. I appealed to the House not to pass clauses that would open the door to fraud and corruption of the worst kind. Mr. Hassell, whose name has been mentioned in the course of the investigation by the Lands Commission of New South Wales, was Minister of Lands in the State Government of which the present Minister of Trade and Customs was the head, and the force of public opinion in respect to his corrupt acts was such that he fled to South Africa.
– Will the honorable and learned member connect that matter with the Appropriation Bill?
– The statement made by the honorable and learned member is very unfair.
– It is perfectly true.
-It is quite beyond the scope of the motion now before the Chair.
-I was proceeding to point out, , Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Trade and Customs, ought not to be excused
– The honorable and learned member has been condemning, if anything, an Act of Parliament.
– I am condemning the Minister of Trade and Customs for his neglect to ‘bring forward an amending Customs Bill. The honorable gentleman mustrealize the danger arising from the exercise of these arbitrary, powers; but he seems to take a pleasure in availing himself of them. A sound administrator would not apply these far-reaching poweis except to cases in which the complaint of his officers had been proved up to the hilt. One of the first principles of law is that here should be a remedy for everv wrong; but that is a principle which we have largely overlooked. I do not feel inclined to continue,
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.] I object to the Minister having power to prevent a person who feels aggrieved by his decision from appealing to” the law courts. Such a state of affairs is little short of a public scandal, and the sooner we amend the Act in this regard the better it will be for every one. It is, to say the least, remarkable that when a manufacturer makes to the Minister substantial representations as to an alleged grievance, the honorable gentleman, without any inquiry as to the real facts, is prepared to induce the Cabinet to at once take action. Without considering whether the farmers or any one else except Mr. McKay is affected by the harvester combine, the Ministry are prepared to introduce legislation dealing with the whole question. We know that Mr. McKay, who is responsible for the statements upon which the Ministry propose to take action, gave evidence before the Tariff Commission as to the values placed upon certain machinery imported into the Argentine Republic, and that the Government made inquiries which demonstrated that his assertions were absolutely false. The man must have made them with the knowledge of the falsehood, but in the hope that they would be acted on before the falsehood was found out.
– The honorable and learned member is asserting that, in vulgar parlance, he was a liar.
– If he had made the same statements in a Court of Justice, instead of before the Tariff Commission, he would have been charged with perjury, because they were statements made on oath. Ministers, however, acted on his representations. They did not think that he would dare to igo before the Commission, and deliberately make false statements there, so they telegraphed1 to the Argentine, and to Canada, and found that the state of affairs was quite different from what it had been represented to be. The honorable member for Gippsland, who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, and a protectionist—-
– He was a member of the Government which the honorable and learned member supported.
– I had nothing to do with that Government, because I never pretended to be warmly in favour of -an alliance in which I did not believe. The honorable member for Gippsland got a
Canadian officer to inquire into the matter, and he found that the representations which had been made were utterly false. Three days after the present Government came into office, this man, who would have been charged with perjury had he given evidence in’ any Court-
– The honorable and learned member would not make these statements outside the Chamber.
– I am willing to make them anywhere.
– I invite the honorable member to make them outside.
– A Commission should! be appointed to find out what members Mr. McKay has nobbled. I do not wish the honorable member, by any suggestions he may make, to cause it to be implied that he is acting for that man. One of the worst consequences of the lobbying which has occurred here is that all sorts of suspicions are going through the country. It is thought that Mr. McKay, because he has known how to approach certain members, is getting attention paid to what I may safely call, judging by the evidence which he gave in Court before, lying statements. This man was responsible for the formation of the first trust, prior to which harvesters were being sold at .£70 each. Mr. McKay, whose representations have such tremendous weight with the Minister of Trade and Customs that he proposes to keep this Parliament sitting for months to deal with them, formed a trust which raised the price of these machines from ^70 to ^84 each. Not satisfied with having done that, directly a Ministry comes into power which he thinks:, he can turn to his sweet will, arid! when he thinks that members will accept every representation of his as absolutely true, he comes here and interviews, first the Prime Minister, and then the leader of the Labour Party, while we have article after article appearing in. the newspapers. I-ado not say that no man should ever wait upon a member of Parliament, but the evil effect of what’ has happened is that it has become apparent to the country that a thousand and one persons may suffer without redress, whereas if a manufacturer with wealth at his back, and understanding how to address members, approaches them in a certain manner, his representations will be listened; to - that all he has to do to get full attention paid to his case is to go through a course of successful lobbying.
– He is not the only manufacturer of these machines.
– He is the head and front of them. He formed the ring which raised the price of harvesters from £70 to £84.each.
– While it is competent on the third reading of the Appropriation Bill to refer to errors of administration on the part of the Government or any Minister, I do not think it is competent to discuss the conduct of a manufacturer who is not a member of this House, at least, not at anything like the length at which the honorable and learned member is discussing it.
– The reason why I am paying so much attention to the matter is that it has become a public scandal.
– It is not proper to discuss the matter on the motion now before the Chair.
– It is a scandal that any man should be able to so manipulate the Ministry that we are kept here week after week, the powers of Parliament being twisted in favour of a particular individual. I understand that at the present time he enjoys under the Tariff, and by reason of the distance of Australia, from other parts of the world, a protection which is in value more than the amount which hepays in wages, and yet it is proposed to hold him up to the country as a sufferer from some combination against him. Only three days after the present Minister of Trade and Customs took office, representations began to be made.
– What representations ?
– Representations as to the advisability of increasing the valuations of imported harvesters.
– I had not seen nor met Mr. McKay, nor did I know him, then.
– The honorable gentleman told me that once before, but the three of us were together in a. train, and were speaking.
– That is not correct. I had never seen Mr. McKay, nor did I know him, at the time when I dealt with the harvesters.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to tell me that he does not know Mr. McKay?
– I know him now.
– And did not know him then ?
– I did not.
– Then I am utterly mistaken in the man. I spoke to a man whom I took to be Mr. McKay, and I saw the Minister speaking to him. The honorable gentleman was no sooner in office than a higher valuation was put on imported harvesters, and in such a way as to prevent an appeal from the decision of the Department. That is my point against the Minister. If he had taken advantage of another section of the Customs Act, and compelled the importers to pay a higher duty, giving them the right to appeal against his action, the position would have been different.
– Now that the importers are paying more in the way of duty, they are selling their machines for £10 less than was previously asked for them.
– Does the honorable member argue that if a duty is increased the price of the article on which it is paid is decreased? He and other honorable members have argued that the rate of wages depends on the price of goods. Therefore, by increasing duties and lowering prices, wages are being lowered.
– How does the honorable and learned member explain the sudden drop in prices?
– Because the ring broke up.
– Ihave repeatedly warned the honorable and learned member that heisgoing beyond the question, and, if he will not pay attention to my ruling, I must take other steps.
-I am very sorry, but I. am well within the mark in calling a ttention to the fact-
– The honorable and learned member is not within the mark. The question is one which it is my duty to decide.
– If, on this motion, we cannot discuss matters within the control of the present Government, it seems to me that the debate must cease. I connectmy remarks with the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I have not objected to any remark concerning the policy or action of Ministers, but the honorable and learned member was out of order in discussingwhy harvesters have fallen in price, and whether the increasing of duties lowers wages.
– I was led aside by interjections, which I wished to answer, so that the impression might not be created that I was not prepared for them. Some years ago, when a provision similar to that in the Custom’s Act was proposed to N» put into a New South Wales Mining Bill, placing the Minister above, the law, I pointed out the danger of such a course, although I was not at the time a member of Parliament. My prophecy in regard to the effect of the section in the Customs Act has proved correct. I object to the action of the Minister in preventing men from getting their cases tried in the Law Courts. If such action does not open the door to fraud, what action will do so? Does it not seem most irregular and unfair to so frame our laws as to deprive injured persons of redress? The Minister of Trade and Customs has now control over ^40,000,000 worth of imports, and by the Commerce Bill is to be given control over another ^50,000,000 worth of exports, and we are making his decision in all matters one from which there shall be no appeal. By placing him thus above the law, we open the door to fraud and corruption, if not immediately, in the near future. The matter is an important one, which is not to be brushed lightly aside. If the Minister of Trade and Customs had so dealt with those concerned in the importation of harvesters, and with those concerned in the importation of the hats which were seized by the Department, that they could exercise a remedy, nothing would have been heard of their cases; but, at the present time, ‘persons so aggrieved can appeal only to Parliament, which does not seem disposed to amend the law, so as to enable these cases to be tried in the Courts. Parliament is not the proper tribunal to try these matters. It is not so constituted as to be able to judge correctly men’s actions. We are a legislative body, whilst the Executive is an administrative body, and we have no right whatever to exercise judicial functions. I beg to direct attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.] It is no light matter to absolutely take away from hundreds of traders their power of appeal against the dictum of the Minister of Trade and Customs. If they do wrong, they should be brought before a Court, and no attempt should be made by officials to ride rough-shod over them. I must call attention to the fact that the Government are unable to maintain a quorum. [Quorum formed:]
I am always determined to have a quorum present when I am addressing the House. We are perfectly justified in delaying the passing of the Appropriation Bill, because apparently the Government are unable tocommand sufficient respect to insure an attendance of twenty-five members. At present absolutely no redress is afforded! to traders upon whom injury may be inflicted by an unjust decision on the part of the Customs authorities. We have placed the Minister entirely above the law, and in this way n”ave outraged one of the first principles of justice. the present position of affairs is a scandal and a reflection upon Parliament, and we should apply the remedy as soon as possible. The Customs Act is drawn up so stringently, and so many remedies are provided, that the law car* easily be set in motion in order to punish offenders ; but I object to the Minister making himself the sole arbiter, and preventing matters from being submitted to a Judge who would be entirely above suspicion.
– We obtained a substantial verdict against one of the honorable member’s friends to-day.
– I do not know what the Minister means by referring to “ one of my friends.” I do not know that any of my friends have offended against the Customs Act. My contention is that a court of law is the proper place in which to settle all matters in dispute. Whilst the question is merely one of honest difference of opinion between the Department and a trader, civil proceedings only should be taken. But where an attempt has been made to evade the Customs Act, a criminal prosecution should be resorted to. If the Minister contends that he has instituted civil proceedings against some firm’ which should have been criminally prosecuted, be has failed in his duty. If an importer of leather of a well-known quality called it by a different name for the purpose of evading the Act, he should be criminally prosecuted, but if he introduced an article which might be used as a substitute for leather, but which was not intended primarily to be devoted to that purpose, he might fairly claim that the article should not be subjected to the duty imposed upon leather. Any importer arguing in that way should not be proceeded against in a criminal court. Then again, take the case of traction-engines, which were placed upon the free list. When the Customs Act was framed, the majority of honorable members no doubt thought only of steam traction-engines. But of late years petroleum has been largely used as a motive power, and many traction-engines are so constructed that petroleum can be used in driving them. For a long time there was a difference of opinion between the Customs authorities and the importers as to whether petroleum traction-engines should be placed on the free list, or be regarded as dutiable under the head of “ engines and machinery” at per cent. No one would dream of proceeding criminally against an importer of a petroleum traction-engine who claimed that it should be admitted free. He might be quite correct in his contention, and, as a matter of fact, the Customs authorities have agreed that petroleum traction-engines shall be admitted free. The Minister increased the valuation of imported harvesters to £60 upon the evidence of a man who swore that he had received a letter from a man who had received a letter from some one else, stating the prices of the machines in Italy at a certain figure. The same man swore that the price of harvesters was just double what it proved to be. Some of the very harvesters in question are being sold retail in Australia for the sum at which they are valued for Customs purposes, although, according to the evidence of Mr, McKay, the cost of distribution represents 26 or 27 per cent, of the invoiced price of the machine. Although the Minister of Trade and Customs is aware that harvesters manufactured in this State are being sold for about £60 he has, for Customs purposes, imposed a similar value upon the imported article at its port of shipment. I need scarcely remind honorable members of what happened in connexion with the recent seizure of Panama hats. The invoiced value of that shipment was, roughly speaking, about £53. The hats were brought here to test the market, and, because similar goods had been sold at double the value which had been placed upon this consignment for Customs purposes, the Minister at once jumped to the conclusion that there was evidence of fraud. In order to insure that my opinions upon this matter should not interfere with my judgment, I made it my business to interview a well-known protectionist manufacturer in this State. I put certain statements before him, and I asked him what was his view of the invoiced value of the hats.
– Is the honorable and learned member’s informant engaged in the importing line?
– No, he is a Victorian manufacturer. He pointed out that, to meet all demands that are likely to be made upon an importer of hats, it is necessary for him to order a very large stock. As some of the season’s goods are sure to be thrown upon his hands, it is imperative that he should make a higher profit upon certain lines. He also pointed out that the selling charges frequently totalled 16 or 17 per cent., and that these should be added to the initial cost of the goods. Taking all these things into consideration, he thought it extremely probable that the valuation given by Messrs. Henty and Company was a fair one.
– Does the honorable and learned member’s informant import cotton and make it up ?
– Whether he imports cotton or whether he buys at through the wholesale houses, I cannot say
– But his business is chiefly that of an importer ?
– No, he is a manufacturer. Whilst I do not propose to give his name publicly, I shall be very glad to supply it to the honorable and learned member privately. Another manufacturer informed me that it would be preferable to allow all these cases to be taken to the Law Courts. That is my point. I am not concerned as to whether or not the administration of the «. Minister is perfectly sound. I object to him taking advantage of certain provisions in the Customs Act to prevent these cases from being heard in the Law Courts. Why have we constituted judicial offices?
– To employ the lawyers.
– The honorable member must know that his remark can scarcely apply to me.
– I understand that the honorable and learned member has thrown over the legal profession.
– It is absolutely impossible for any Honorable member of this House to devote proper attention to his public duties, and, at the same time, to conduct his own business. I am very glad that the honorable member for Bland has interjected,’ because his remark induces me to touch upon a question which ought to have been dealt with long ago. When the allowance to members of this Parliament was fixed at £400 a year, it was contemplated that the Houses would remain in session for only three or four months during that, period. Nobody ever imagined that our labours would extend over six or seven months each year.
– Will the honorable and learned member discuss the Appropriation Bill?
– I intend to do so. By neglecting to make some provision to reimburse honorable members the travelling expenses which they are called upon to incur, Ministers have failed in their duty. I have always strongly held that the present parliamentary allowance is insufficient. The position occupied by the representatives of the other States is very different from that occupied by the representatives of Victoria. Many persons are under the impression that the allowance of ^400 a year made to honorable members is in addition to the reimbursement of their expenses. It is unnecessary to say that that idea is an utterly erroneous one. If we assume that our expenses in Melbourne are 15s. a day - and surely that cannot be regarded as an extravagant estimate - it will be seen that our allowance is diminished by weekly, quite apart from our travelling expenses.
– Some of us do not travel to and from our homes at the week’ end. We remain in Melbourne during the whole of the session.
– Representatives from the distant States labour under a very great disadvantage in that respect.
– The honorable and learned member must see that if I permitted him to discuss that question, there being no reference to it in the Appropriation Bill, there is no matter in the region of thought which could not be debated. I ask him to connect his remarks more closely with the measure under consideration.
– The Government are very blameworthy in that they have failed to safeguard the parliamentary allowance to honorable members. Personally, I think that we ought either to receive a large allowance or nothing at all. I say unhesitatingly that this matter ought to have been dealt with long ago, although it is not of such vital importance to me as it is to other honorable members.
– Because attendance to my parliamentary duties does not press so heavily upon me. Some honorable members have had to neglect their own business in order to be in attendance here from day to day, and in the event of their defeat, after three years’ service, they would find that, by reason of that neglect, their private affairs had suffered severely. We have no guarantee that we shall bereelected, and yet we speak of our membership of this House as if its continuancewere assured. Provision is rightly made in the Appropriation Bill for the travelling expenses of our officers, and the same allowances should at least be made in respect of the travelling expenses of members .of the Parliament. We all feel that the question is one that ought to be grappled with, and yet we allow it year after year to remain untouched. The result is that the representatives of Victoria - to view the matter from a somewhat -unworthy stand-point - are far more fortunately situated than are other honorable members. Our desire, at the inception of Federation, should have been to place all members of this Parliament on a footing of equality. This has not yet been done, and I claim that the matter should receive the attention, not only of the Ministry, but of the House itself.
– Why do honorable members of the Opposition keep us here so long ?
– I have not asked the honorable member to remain in the House for even a day. I have always been anxious that the supporters of the Ministry should* recognise that,, after all, legislation ought to be a matter of compromise. There ought not to be an attempt on the part of the majority to force their opinions upon a considerable minority. When a numerical majority has been secured by deviousmeans, it is doubly incumbent upon thosein the minority to resist such attempts. Had the Labour Party come into powerpledged to a certain policy-
– Is the _ honorable anc* learned member discussing the Appropriation Bill?
– I am afraid, sir, that I have for the moment drifted away from the question immediately before the Chair. If the present Ministry had informed theelectors that they intended to pass certain measures, and, indeed, to rush them throughboth Houses of the Parliament, my objection to their present procedure to a large extent would have vanished. In those circumstances, I should have endeavoured’ to assist in so shaping those measures as to carry out what I believed to be the1wishes of the people. That was the attitude which I took up in- regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I did not attempt to delay the passing of the machinery clauses of that Bill, but. I certainly objected to the attempt on the part of the majority to force upon those in a minority questions of principle which had not been submitted to the people. When a party avails itself of its majority to thrust its opinions upon those in the minority, it might just as well resort to the use of a club. But the days of the club are past.
– And the days of talk have come.
– Is it not far better that these matters should be arranged in a peaceful way?
– The other was the more effective.
– I personally should prefer the other. 1 am beginning to understand the feelings of the anarchist when he sees different people endeavouring to press laws upon him.
– We have always thought that the honorable and learned) member is something of an anarchist.
– I am speaking now, not of the anarchist who would effect reforms by bloody means, but of such philosophical anarchists as Mr. Benjamin Tucker, of Boston. Let the Ministry for the time being deal with abuses that have arisen-
– The minority wish to rule.
– Every one wishes to rule. But for such a desire the honorable member would not have sought a seat in this House. I would remind honorable members that might does not make right, and that every measure which we pass, unless it be based upon a solid foundation of justice, will be a fresh cause of discord in the community. Another point is that every Bill that we pass increases the Federal expenditure. That expenditure is gradually growing. Turning to the Appropriation Bill, we find that the surplus returned to the States for the financial year, 1902-3, was, in round figures, £8,200,000. I admit that the revenue for that year was largely swollen by reason of the returns received, as the result of the drought, from the fodder duties. The Government then in office allowed the interests of a few corn merchants and others to override those of the great bulk of the community, who were unquestionably the suf ferers. The surplus returned to the States in 1903-4 was, in round figures, £7,382,000; and in 1904-5, £7,141,000, whilst it is estimated that in respect of the current’ financial year we shall return to the States £6,783,000. Honorable members will see from these figures that the position is becoming somewhat serious;,. It is estimated that for the current financial year we shall return to the States £1,400,000 less than we paid over to them for the year 1902-3.
– But the revenue is falling.
– There is a slight falling off.
– A very substantial one.
– Who is responsible for the fact that the Tariff is so framed that the receipts are not an index to the prosperity or otherwise of the people ? There is not a quorum present, Mr. Speaker. (Quorum formed.’] The honorable and learned member for Corio this afternoon drew attention to a matter which seems to call for explanation. Apparently, owing to some blunder, because it could not have been’ wilfully done, the form of prayer drafted for a service held in connexion with the consecration of banners at Albert Park last year proved objectionable to the adherents of certain faiths. I am not concerned to know what faiths were referred to, but whether their adherents are few or many, no injury should be done to their religious susceptibilities, nor should they be forced to lose efficiency pay for non-attendance at a religious service of which they disapprove. In this House arte men of all faiths and beliefs, and yet no honorable member has yet taken exception to the prayers with which out proceedings are opened. Surely, then, it would not be hard for the military authorities to frame a form of prayer which would be acceptable to all members of the Defence Forces. However, I shall not deal with the matter further, because I am sure that now that attention has been directed to it, the grievance complained of will be remedied. Coming to another matter, I am one of those who think that it would have been possible for the Minister of Home Affairs to provide for a complete redistribution of the electorates under the Electoral Act. If the officers of the Electoral, Department have not instructed the Minister to that effect, it seems to me that they have not done what they should have done. I have already pointed out, in regard to the Census’ and Statistics Bill,, and the Representation Bill, that, in my opinion, they are unnecessary for the purposes of a redistribution of electorates, and that the House is being- needlessly burdened with work by being asked to consider them. I do not doubt the sincerity of the Minister of Home Affairs, but, in my opinion, the Ministry do. not desire to have this matter settled. In deferring its settlement they will be denying proper representation to the people of some of the States. I refer to this matter, because New South Wales is already entitled to another representative. Of course, it is possible that, later on, the representation in this Chamber may be reduced to seventy-two, the minimum provided for by the Constitution, which says that the number of the members of the House of Representatives should be twice the number of the members of the Senate. Of course, where a State has more than half the quota entitling her to a representative, she is given a representative as if she had the full quota, and in this way three States hare extra representatives ; but it is possible that when Tasmania and Western Australia become entitled by their population, instead of by the special provision in the Constitution, to the representation of five members, the number of members in this House will be reduced to seventy-two. Once we have passed’ the Appropriation Bill the House will have lost all control over the Ministry, and it will rest with them to say when they will close the session. The programme put before us by the Prime Minister would indicate that the session is not to close before this time next year; but after there have been one or two tests of strength, he will probably come to a calmer frame of mind, and will acknowledge that the legislation which he proposes cannot be passed without full and free discussion. The Ministry seem disposed to shirk both the representation question and the Capital Site question. If they do not deal with the former it will come to be thought that they are trying to prevent New South Wales from obtaining the further representative to which she is entitled ; while there is already a feeling that the determination of the Federal Capital Site is being trifled with. The effect of the high duties in the Tariff has been to impose extra taxation upon the State of New South Wales, to the amount of about £1, 500,000 a year, which has created great dissatisfaction there. No doubt most sensible people look upon the import duties as taxation. But while the Treasurer calls them taxation, the Minister of Trade and Customs thinks it makes them more acceptable to call them protection.
– Can the honorable and learned member connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair?
– I am referring to” the divergent views taken by Ministers in regard to the subject of taxation.
– When ?
– That happened as long ago as the time of the first Commonwealth Ministry.
– I cannot allow any reference to be made to what happened at the time the Tariff was under discussion.
– It is no more satisfactory for the public to be told that the duties are imposed for protective purposes than to be informed that they are levied with the object of raising revenue.
– In either case that has nothing to do with the Bill.
– It relates to the Bill to this extent : The Government are continually calling upon us to provide for further expenditure upon administration, and I want to know where this kind of thing is going to end. The amount we returned to the States last year was 400,000 less than was handed to them in 1902, and our difficulties are increasing every day. The Government intend to bring forward a Sugar Bounty Bill-
– The honorable member must not discuss that subject.
– I merely wish to refer to it incidentally, and to point out that it will involve still further expense. The very costly report prepared by Dr. Maxwell will have to be paid for by the Commonwealth,and our expenses are daily being added to. Some years ago I pointed out to Ministers that we should, probably within a very short time, experience difficulty in finding sufficient money to meet the cost of administering the affairs of the Commonwealth. That time has now arrived. There is no question that if we provided for the interest upon the expenditure incurred upon State properties taken over bv the Commonwealth we should scarcely have enough money left to provide for the administration of the Acts we have already passed. The Government are showing utter reck- lessness in calling upon us to pass laws which will impose a further tax upon our resources. Every Act which is passed, whether it be good or bad, will necessitate the expenditure of more money. Under the Commerce Bill ft is proposed to exercise control! over the exports of the Commonwealth.
– I regret having repeatedly to call the attention of the honorable and learned member to the fact that he is transgressing the rules of debate. It is not in order to refer to a measure which is before another branch of the Legislature.
– I. was proceeding to point out that the expenditure upon Customs administration amounts to £270,000 per annum. The Department now exercises control over an import trade valued at £40,000,000 per annum, whereas under the Commerce Bill it is intended to control an export trade valued at £56,000,000 per annum.
– I would direct the attention of the honorable and learned member to standing order 270, which reads as follows : -
No member shall allude to any debate of the current session in the Senate, or to any measure pending therein.
The honorable and learned member will see that the standing order absolutely prohibits even an allusion to a measure which is before the other branch of the Legislature. I have already allowed the honorable and learned member a grjeat deal more liberty than he is strictly entitled to, and I must ask him to confine his remarks to the measure before us.
– I would merely say that no provision has been made for the expenditure under another Bill which will probably soon be passed intolaw. Unless Ministers intend that the measures submitted by them shall become mere dead-letters, they must make provision for their effective administration. Now, let me say a word or two with regard! to the Federal Capital site: This subject seems at first to have been worn somewhat threadbare, but we must consider it, because whilst complaints are being made every day, we are still delaying action.
– Whose fault is that?
– I think it is our own fault.
– This Parliament has been prepared to take action, but the New South
Wales Parliament have thrown obstacles in the way.
– No doubt certain honorable members supported the selection of the Dalgety site, because they thought that owing to its being so far removed from railway communication, and from the great centres of population, the establishment of the Capital would be long delayed.
– The honorable member himself voted for the selection of Dalgety.
– I did, as against another site.
– The honorable and learned member canvassed for it.
– No. In the first place I voted for the selection of Lake George, which would have included the Yass district. A site inthat district was placed second in thelist of eligible sites by Mr. Oliver, and it would have been placed first if a . better water supply had at that time been available.
– It has never been considered since.
– That is so. Only the other day a Bill was submitted to the New South” Wales Parliament, under which it is proposed to spend a million pounds at the Barren Jack weir, which will have the effect of conserving a sheet of water quite as large as Sydney harbor. Consequently, that district to-day is in an entirely different position from that which it occupied when its claims were considered by the late Mr. Oliver. I have always considered that one of these two sites ought, to be selected. The men who will be called upon to reside in the Federal Capital will be chiefly married men. They do not desire to settle in a place where there isno accommodation for their wives and families, and I am sure that none of us desire to create such a condition of thingsthat the Governmentwould be called- upon to provide accommodation for them. I am satisfied that if the Seat of Government be removed to Dalgety it will be quite impossible for them to obtain the necessary accommodation. Therefore it is our duty to select some site which is easily accessible either from the capital of New- South Wales, or from some large town. Dalgety does not even possess railway communication .
– It is an impossible site.
– It is an absolutely impossible site. Under the Constitution, it is very doubtful whether the New South
Wales Parliament has not the choice of the Federal territory. It has been argued that that State has power to select the territory, and that we are empowered to choose the. site.
– Should we not settle that point ?
– I do not think that the gulf between the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of New South Wales is so great that it cannot be bridged except by an appeal to the law. I think that all that is necessary is to bring the parties to the dispute together. I believe that our differences would disappear if we met in conference, and that a satisfactory solution of the problem would be arrived at.
– I very much question that.
– Under any circumstances, I am inclined to think that New South Wales would object to being called upon to construct a railway somethirtymiles in length to Dalgety.
– The residents of that portion of the State are entitled to railway communication now.
– The honorable member can accept my assurance that all the surveys which have been made of a railway from Cooma to Bombala have been made upon the eastern side of the central range, and not upon the western side.. When we selected Dalgety we inserted in the Seat of Government Bill a request that we should be granted 900 square milesof territory. I do not propose to argue whether we acted rightly or wrongly-
– The honorable and learned member might just as well do so. It would assist him to waste time.
– Surely a question which may affect the stability of the Union itself is a serious one. In New South Wales feeling upon this question has become so intense-
– The people of New South Wales do not care a straw about it.
– My experience is different from that of the honorable member. They think that an absolute set is being made against that great State. Owing to the fact that additional taxation has been imposed upon its people-
– They are no worse off than are the people of any other State.
– It is true that they do not contribute any more to the revenue than do the people of other States. But the imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff represented an increase in their taxation of £1,500.000 per annum.
– They spend it all very carefully.
– There is not the slightest doubt but they have absolutely wasted it. That, however, is a matter with which I am not now concerned.What we have to recognise is the very serious irritation which has been engendered there as the result of our action in connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital Site. If New South Wales chose by resolution tomorrow to secede from the Federation she could snap her fingers at the Commonwealth.
Several Honorable Members. - Talk sense!
– If the people upon a referendum declared that they were tired of the Union, just as the electors of Norway did the other day-
– Order ! The honorable and learned member must confine his remarks to the question which is before the Chair.
– We have merely to refer to the example of Norway to see whether or not that step could not very easily be taken. We are absolutely disregarding the Constitution upon two important points. When the Government deny to New South Wales that consideration to which she is entitled they ought not to expect us to sanction the passing of this Appropriation Bill. Personally, I do not consider that the administration of the Federation itself is safe in their hands.
Mr.Poynton. - Give number three a show.
– I wish the honorable member would exercise a little of the common sense with which I believe he has been endowed. His interruptions would then be more relevant. I object to the Government bringing forward these matters at such a late stage of the session. I thoroughly agree with the late Mr. Gladstone that a sound control of the finances is absolutely essential to the welfare and progress of the country. No provision has been made in the Estimates for administering the Trade Marks Bill which the Prime Minister has declared the Government intend to push through the Houses before the session closes. Measures of that “description’ cannot be administered without some expenditure. The position into which we are now drifting is an insult to the common sense of the House. Unless we insist that the whole of the taxation collected shall find its way into the Treasury the hands of this Parliament will very soon be tied, because we shall not have the necessary funds with which to administer any Act that we may pass. Two years hence, unless some extraordinary expansion of revenue occurs in the meantime, we shall find ourselves unable to pay our way.
– The honorable member is piling up the cost of Hansard..
– The honorable member must not forget that the professional staff of Hansard must be permanently employed. If we were to engage a staff from session to session, the result would hardly be satisfactory, even to the honorable member.
– I am alluding to the cost of. the paper, and the printing of Hansard.
– That is a mere bagatelle. If the honorable member has any fears in this regard, I would suggest to him that, knowing the value of his speeches, he should move that they be not reported. To return to the question which I was discussing when the honorable member interrupted me, I would point out that, in the words of Mr. Gladstone, the progress of a. country is bound up with its system of finance. With a bad system we can never hope to progress, and we are retarding the progress of Australia by our failure to recognise an evident fact. I shall oppose, not only the present, but every other Ministry which fails to recognise the situation which I have endeavoured to point out. We must grapple with it sooner or later, and as sensible men we ought at once to deal with it. If my charges were untrue, honorable members opposite would vigorously attack me ; but they know that they are well founded. Unfortunately, the Labour Party are supporting a Ministry who have not the capacity to recognise the true position of the affairs of the Commonweatlh, and I hope they will be fittingly rewarded when next thev go before the electors.
-The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has briefly and dispassionately entered his protest against the third reading of the Appropriation Bill being taken at the present juncture. He recognised that if we allowed the Bill to pass, the Government would be able at once to put up the shutters. My .chief object in rising, however, was to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a distinct invasion, on the part of the Government, of the privileges! of this House. Under the Standing Orders honorable members are permitted on every third Thursday to .ventilate the grievances of their constituents, upon a formal motion that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply. Almost from the inception of this Parliament orders of the day in relation to Supply and Ways and Means have appeared upon our businesspaper; but by what seems to have been a piece of sharp practice, the Government succeeded yesterday in discharging those orders from the paper. They have thus prevented . honorable members from airing the grievances of those whom they represent, but it seems to me that their action1 will’ tend to retard rather than to facilitate business. The Government will have to obtain supply at the end of the present month, and I am inclined to believe that the motion to restore these items to the, notice-paper will provoke considerable discussion.
– Is the honorable member discussing the Appropriation Bill?
– I am showing, sir, that owing to the action of the Government, we are compelled to avail ‘ourselves of the motion for’ the third reading of this Bill to bring forward grievances that might otherwise have been discussed on a formal motion that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply.
– Is the honorable member discussing a point of order, or the Appropriation Bill?
– I am discussing the Appropriation Bill. One of my grievances is-
– There is no opportunity to seek the redress of grievances on a motion for the third reading of the Appropriation Bill. Those are matters which must be dealt with on the motion that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply. The honorable member at this stage can discuss only “the third reading of the Bill.
– It seems to me that the Government are taking advantage of this measure to secure Supply.
– The honorable member must discuss either a pofnt of order, or the third reading of the Appropriation Bill.
– I do not wish at this stage to raise a point of order ; but I hold that the action of the Government in regard to the discharge of the orders of the day relating to Supply and Ways and Means amounts to a dangerous invasion of our parliamentary privileges. Even if we pass this Bill to-night, it does not follow that another place will deal finally with it before further Supply! is required. Before we agree to its being read a thirdtime, certain anomalies should be rectified. The Prime Minister assured us a day or two ago that he would introduce a Bill to remedy the grievances of the people of New South Wales with respect to the establishment of the Federal Capital. I find on the notice-paper to-day no mention of any measure dealing with the Federal Capital Site.
– The Prime Minister is going to put it on the notice-paper. Perhaps the measure is not ready yet.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Minister. We on this side of the House who represent New South Wales are in earnest in this matter, and I cannot understand a representative of that State allowing the Appropriation Bill to pass until we have received some satisfactory statement in regard to it. Though some honorable members appear to take the view that the people of New South Wales are not much concerned about the matter, the attitude of the local Parliament is an index to the popular mind there. The people of the State think that the question has been fooled with for the last five years, and that it is no nearer settlement now than it was at the beginning of the Federation. It is a strange thing that representatives of the State, like certain members of the Labour Party and the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Postmaster-General, and the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who know the popular feeling there on this subject, should be ready, in order to meet party exigencies, to shut their eyes to the true state of affairs.
– The honorable member can take it for granted that the question will be dealt with.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister will go back on his word, but I have too much experience of parliamentary affairs not to know that once an Appropriation Bill becomes law a Government can snap its fingers at Parliament. The representatives of Queensland have secured the introduction of the Sugar Excise Bill and the Sugar Bounty Bill, and it is the duty of the representatives of New South Wales to see that a measure providing for the settlement of the Federal Capital Site question is placed on the business-paper. The programme of business announced by the Prime Minister last night seemsto me only a placard, since there remain only five weeks in which to carry it out.
– Why only five weeks?
– We can sit on.
– The Prime Minister said that he intended to close; the session before Christmas.
– The honorable member will occupy four and a half weeks.
– If the honorable member for Southern Melbourne were in Opposition, and represented a New South Wales constituency, he would be doing what I am doing. In any case, I am responsible to my constituents for what I do. I am not speaking for the mere sake of obstruction, because I know that the Ministry and its supporters are strong enough to wear down the members of the Opposition. I may be parochial in my views, but it is my duty to defend the interestsof the State which I represent. It is a fact, as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa stated, that any prominent man there could lead the people of that State to vote for secession. I ask the House to assist in allaying the feeling of the people of New South Wales upon the Federal Capital question, for the ascertainment of which the State Parliament may be regarded as a barometer. Some of the members of that Parliament may be influenced by personal considerations, but, seeing how much a small matter like the printing of stamps irritated that House the other evening, there must be a great deal of feeling agains the Commonwealth for its actions towards that State. The discharge of the orders of the day for Supply and Ways and Means has taken from honorable membersan opportunity to discuss grievances.
– If the Government introduce some of the Bills which have been spoken of these orders of the day will have to be restored to the notice-paper.
– Yes, and there would be no readier way of prolonging the session than by opposing their restoration. If I were viciously inclined, I ‘could use such motions as an engine for obstruction. I wish it to be known, however, that we are speaking in the public interest, and hot for party purposes. If all the members of the Opposition were in the same frame of mind as I am, they would not allow the Appropriation Bill to leave this House until some satisfactory assurance has been given regarding the settlement of the Federal Capital Site question. I trust that when the measure reaches the Senate, the representatives of that State, whose special business it is to guard the rights of the State, will see that the measure does not become law until the important stages of a Bill for the settlement of the Federal Capital question have been dealt with in this House.
– It seems to me that there is not much inclination on the part of honorable members to view the Federal Capital Site question impartially and without reference to party considerations. The only way in which we can do so is to review the facts of the case. I was a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales when this matter was being considered by the first Commonwealth Parliament, and I well remember that the first Commonwealth Government communicated with the Government of the State, asking that something might be done to carry out the provisions of the Constitution in regard to the determination of the Federal Capital Site. The matter was discussed time and again in the local Legislature, and as the members individually were not sufficiently well acquainted with the various proposed sites to recommend any one of them as suitable, they determined that an expert should be commissioned to deal with the matter. They did not travel round the country themselves, as the members of this Parliament did, but appointed Mr. Oliver, a very able man, to do so. He took great pains to examine the various proposed sites, and the New South Wales Government went to considerable expense in furnishing him with every opportunity to fully consider the matter, with the result that he furnished a report which, I think, did him great credit. That report was forwarded by the New South Wales Government for the information of the members of this Parliament. Subsequently, when the cost of its production was provided for in the Estimates, the New South
Wales Parliament, by voting the amount set down, practically adopted the report. Mr. Oliver went very carefully into the subject, and gauged the merits of the respective sites by’ awarding them points upon a definite scale, in which regard was paid to all the essentials. Dalgety came out at the top of the list.
– Dalgety is not mentioned.
– But it is included in the Monaro site recommended by Mr. Oliver. Mr. Oliver’s report was sent to the Federal Parliament as a guide to the territories within which a site could be selected. The action of the New South Wales Government amounted to that or nothing. I do not think, from what I know of the Government at that time, that they acted without a due sense of the responsibility attaching to their action. We inspected the sites, and considered the reports of Mr. Oliver and of various experts, and, on the understanding that New South Wales would be prepared to make us the necessary grant, we selected a site within one of the territories recommended by the State Commissioner. We were, therefore, acting fully within our rights under the Constitution. Whilst I disagree altogether with the choice of Dalgety, I do not consider that the New South Wales Parliament has a leg to stand on in its view of the constitutional position.
– We shall have to consult New South Wales with regard to the acquirement of any territory exceeding 100 square miles in area.
– That is a mere detail that we need not discuss at this stage.
– It is the detail that is causing all the trouble.
– I do not think we need discuss it now. Honorable members on the Opposition benches have laid great stress upon the point that the action taken by the See Government is not binding upon the present State Government. They say that the Administration that sent forward Mr. Oliver’s report has now passed away.
– I do not take that ground.
– The honorable member for Lang laid great emphasis on that aspect of the case. We know very well that, as a matter of parliamentary practice, a Government is bound by the decisions of its predecessors, and I do not think that it is worthy of honorable members to resort to such tactics as they have done, in order to defend the action of the New South Wales Parliament.
– Is the honorable member aware -that the first Federal Parliament chose Tumut?
– I am speaking only of matters regarding which I have a personal knowledge. What was done in the fi ist Federal Parliament has no bearing upon the present situation. New South Wales having indicated to us through the report of their special Commissioner that they were willing to grant us a site in the territory in which Dalgety is situated, it seems to me that it ill becomes the State Parliament to denounce the Commonwealth foi having proceeded to make a selection. I treat this question apart from considerations attaching to this Government or that. It is one that should not be dragged down into the gutter of party politics either in the State or in the Commonwealth. The New South Wales Parliament has absolutely reversed the decision of its predecessors, and has endeavoured to throw obstacles in the way of a selection - which was made by this Parliament after a great deal of careful consideration. We went to the trouble of inspecting the various sites, and I venture to say we have a greater knowledge of their suitability, or otherwise, than have three fourths of the members of the New South Wales Parliament. Nothing that has been done by this Parliament can reasonably be construed as putting an affront upon the New South Wales Parliament, but it appears to me that the objection now being raised by the State Legislature is designed, not so much to promote a satisfactory settlement of the question as to cause public irritation. I have spoken to many members of the New South Wales Legislature, and I, have found that in five cases out of six they have practically no knowledge as to the suitability or otherwise of the sites which they themselves have recommended. It appears to me that it will be impossible to arrive at any settlement without referring the matter to the High Court. I entirely disagree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in the view he takes, that a friendly consultation betwen the two Governments will result in a solution of the difficulty, because that would involve a reversal of the decision arrived at by a large majority in the State Parliament.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that a strong representation of the feeling of the people of the State is entitled to the consideration of this House?
– I should have been quite prepared to concede that if representations had not been made at too late a stage. This Parliament acted to a very large extent on Mr. Oliver’s report, which was prepared under the auspices of the State Government, and forwarded to us toguide us in arriving at a conclusion. The State Parliament, at the time of Mr. Oliver’s appointment, admitted that it was. absolutely incapable of forming a judgment as to the territories within which a suitable site could be selected.
– Mr. Oliver did not even know of Dalgety, which is thirty-five miles away from the site which he recommended.
– That is a mere technicality, because all the Monaro country is so much alike that there is very little difference between one site and another, so far as natural features, climatic conditions, soil, or water supply are concerned.
– I have seen 2 ft. of snow at one place and none in the other. One site is 800 ft. higher than the other.
– I am merely dealing With facts that are within my knowledge.
– Does the honorable member regard Mr. Oliver’s report as tantamount to a recommendation by the New South Wales Parliament?
– Certainly ; because the report was practically approved of by that Parliament.
– The first Commonwealth Parliament chose Tumut, and the presentone selected Dalgety.
– I admit that. I think that a great blunder was made in choosing Tumut, and that a still greater mistake was made in selecting Dalgety:
– The New South Wales Parliament has included Tumut among the sites recommended by it.
– That is’ because the matter has become one of merely State concern. Looking! to the day when we shall’ have a Federation in fact, as well as in name, and when all State jealousies shall have ceased to exist, we should endeavour to discuss this question apart from narrow prejudices, and select a site which will be the very best, not .in the interests of any particular State, but of the whole of Australia. That is my view of this matter. If the question of the Seat of Government had been discussed from that stand-point, we should not have selected Dalgety. But, unfortunately, it frequently happens that questions of great importance are subordinated to party influences and party intrigues to such an extent that it is impossible to get a proper decision registered upon them. When we were discussing the merits of the respective sites, what did we find ? Certain honorable members opposite were so anxious to obtain a seat upon the Treasury Benches that, in order to placate their supporters, they were ready to give their tacit approval to the sites which those supporters favoured. On the night that this question was being considered, the then Government were anxious to secure an adjournment of the debate, in order to afford every honorable member an opportunity to express his views. The Opposition, however, refused to agree to that course. They said, in effect, “ We cannot trust the majority which is behind us to-night.”
– It was the Watson Ministry which passed the Seat of Government Bill.
– Yes, and itwasthe Opposition which prevented us from fairly discussing that measure.
– That is not so.
– I take no notice the honorable member’s interjection. When we requested an adjournment of the debate, the leader of the Opposition, knowing that we had not the numbers to give effect to our desire, forced us to a decision upon the Capital Site question. Hence, a question of first-rate consequence was practically strangled in the middle of an important discussion. As a result, Dalgety was selected, although not by a straight-out majority of this House. In my judgment, Welaregang was the best site. Out of twenty-six honorable members who inspected it, twenty-two were convinced of its superiority over all others.
– The honorable member is merely prolonging the debate. He is “stone-walling” the Appropriation Bill.
– Under ordinary circumstances, honorable members opposite would be very pleased to hear me speak upon this matter. But the moment an honorable member rises for the purpose of enlightening the public and unravelling the tangled skein in which this question is involved, we hear a howl from them. I am satisfied that if as many honorable members had inspected the Welaregang site as visited the other sites, it would have been selected by a very large majority. Instead, the selection of a site degenerated into a wrangle between three sections of this House. The honorable member for Dalley was soanxious that the lost sheep, whom he had managed to get into the Opposition fold, and upon whose vote the result depended, should not be permitted to escape, that he was opposed to the debate being adjourned1 until the following day. When the history of this Capital Site question comes to be written, not by partisan politicians, or by a partisan press, butby impartial onlookers, the public will regard the CommonwealthParliament which selected the Dalgety site as having been an utterly incapable legislative body.
– With special referenceto the honorable member for Gwydir.
– The honorable member for Lang occupied three hours of the time of the House in discussing this Bill last night. The longer he talked the less honorable members understood what he was saying. He was at great pains to read the correspondence which has passed between the Premier of New South Wales and the Prime Minister on this subject. I am not, however, going to follow in his footsteps. I will not weary the House by reciting a lot of matter which can be read in the press from day to day. I repeat that when the history of this question comes to be written it will cause people to blush with shame for those who sold New South Wales.
– I rise to a point of order.. Last night, sir, you ruled that the honorable member was out of order in stating that honorable members on this side of the Chamber had sold New South Wales in regard to the Federal Capital site. I ask whether he is now in order in repeating that statement ?
– Last night the honorable member made a statement to the effect that certain honorable members had sold New South Wales in order to secure eight months of Ministerial office. I required him to withdraw that remark. The observation which he has just made is not by any means so offensive, but at the same time I point out that the use of these harsh terms; is calculated not to promote good temper, but to divert attention from the main issue.
Mr.WEBSTER. - I bow to your ruling, sir, and I respect your desire to see this debate conducted with decorum. At the same time, there are occasions when one is compelled to use strong language to make an impression upon those who do not appear to be amenable to reason. Before concluding, there are one or two other matters to which I desire to direct attention. One of these affects every honorable member of this House. I refer to the condition of the rolls which have just been circulated. Those for my electorate have been compiled in such a w.ay as to justify the statement that the whole system is deserving of the careful consideration of honorable members. As the result of a short tour through the constituency which I represent, a friend of mine discovered that no less than 800 names had been left off the rolls. He succeeded in having the names of 243 electors added to them.
– Over 300 names were taken off the rolls for my electorate.
– My experience may be that of other honorable members. Many people who have been living in the district for years find that their names have been omitted from the new rolls. The work has been scandalously carried out. I have already drawn the attention of the Minister to the matter, believing that if is too serious to be overlooked. If as the result of inquiries honorable members find that the collection of the lists of voters: for other electorates has been carried out in an equally careless way, it will be incumbent upon us to demand a complete reform, both in regard to the collection and the revision of the rolls. This is a matter which affects the representation of the people in this House. We are supposed to be elected upon the basis of adult suffrage, and it is imperative that we should take care that no one is improperly disfranchised. Another matter to which I desire to refer was dealt with by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I think that few honorable members will dissent from the view that the time has arrived when the Government should have the courage to make some provision, in addition to the ordinary parliamentary allowance, in respect of the travelling expenses of honorable members. The position of the representatives of Victoria is altogether different from that of the representatives* of the other States ; their attendance here does not involve sacrifices so great as those which other honorable members have to make. No objection is offered to the payment of allowances to officers of the public service whose duties require them to travel from place to place, and yet no provision is made in respect of the expenses which honorable members must necessarily incur in attending here. The members of the State Parliament of New South Wales occupy a far more favorable position than we do. Their allowance of £300 per annum goes much further than does the allowance of £400 per annum which members of this Legislature receive. We are also at a disadvantage in other respects. Those who represent the distant States have necessarily to remain from their homes month after month, and to leave their children to maternal guidance, which is not at all times sufficient.
– It is generally the best.
– It is in some cases, but we all know that there are times when it is necessary, for the well-being of the children, that the father should be at hand. Children need paternal, as well as maternal, guidance, to keep them on the right path. I would point out that representatives of this State have not to leave their homes for any length of time. Most of them reside in the city, and their attendance here inflicts no hardship upon them. On the other hand, representatives of the distant States have to remain from their homes for many weeks at a time. ‘ They are in attendance here day after day, and night after night, and often keep a quorum whilst those who reside in this city are with their families.
– What increase does the honorable member suggest?
– That is a matter which I leave to the determination of those who have control of the Federal purse. I do not wish to relieve the Government of the performance of a duty which should afford them the highest degree of satisfaction. It is not only in travelling to and from the Seat of Government that honorable members of this Parliament incur expense. It must not be forgotten that the Federal electorates are far larger than are those of the States. As a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, I represented an electorate 100 milesl square, but that which I represent in this House is about 340 miles long by . 300 miles wide. If an honorable member desires to go among his constituents, as he ought to do, in. order to learn their views, and to tell them what he is doing for them, he must necessarily incur heavy expense. My constituency com- prises no less than five State electorates, and in this respect alone I am at a disadvantage as. compared with a member of the State Parliament. In the early days it was the custom for members of Parliament to hold their seats by a system of patronage - by subscribing to football and cricket clubs, bazaars, tea meetings, and so forth. This practice has been banded down.
– Does the honorable member think that that matter has anything; to do with the Appropriation Bill ?
-I have been endeavouring toshow the expense to which honorable members are put in the discharge of their duties.
– I would remind the honorable member that there is no item in the Appropriation Bill in respect of the allowances of honorable members.
– I have been endeavouring to show that the position of members of this Parliament is altogether different from that of members of the States Legislatures.
– The honorable member will not be in order in pursuing that matter at any length, because the allowances of honorable members are appropriated by special Act. Anything that does not come within the purview of the Appropriation Bill cannot now be debated.
Mr.WEBSTER. - Is not provision made in this Bill for the travelling facilities extended to honorable members?
– I think that there is an item providing for the payment off the railway fares of honorable members. If the honorable member desires to refer to the matter of travelling by rail he will be in order in doing so.
– Members of the State Parliament of New South Wales are granted free passes over the railways in order to enable them to attend to their duties, and they are also granted a free railway pass for their wives, which extends over a period of one month. Ifthey desire it they may obtain two free passes’ for their wives for a period of fourteen days each, so that after a long absence from home they may give their good ladies a little recreation. But although members of the Federal Parliament must necessarily remain away from home month aftermonth, and practically alienate themselves from their wives and families, no such privilege is extended to them. When an honorable member asks for a railway pass for his wife in order that he mayafford her some little recreation after the sacrifice she has made to enable him to attend to the business of the country, he is at once informed that he may have a return pass to Melbourne, but he is. not allowed a ticket that will entitle her to travel elsewhere. What change is it to bring a woman from Sydney to Melbourne in summer, which is the season when we are generally in recess ? It is about time that some one spoke about the inadequacy of. the railway concessions made to the members of this Parliament, compared with those made to the members of State Parliaments. There is not a man in this House who does not agree with me that the salary of £400 a year which we receive is not sufficient, and that we are unjustly treated in the matter of railway concessions. Honorable members should have the courage of their opinions, and should demand that justice be done in this matter, even at the risk of their future exclusion from politics. There are several other subjects to which I should like to refer, but with which I shall not deal now, because I expect to have an opportunity to speak on them on other occasions. Some of the statements of members of the Opposition appear tome to be hardly just, but, seeing that they are now in a magnanimous or patriotic frame of mind, and are willing to cease hostilities, with a view to allowing thethird reading of the Appropriation Bill to pass, I shall not refer to those matters now.
– The honorable member’s speech will have the effect of stirring upthe members of the Opposition.
– I do not desire to deprive any man of the right of free speech. It is the duty of honorable members to criticise carefully and searchingly matters of finance, and of general administration. I do not object to the actionof the Opposition in performing that duty, providing that their desire its to bring about reforms. But I cannothonestly say that during the last week I have listened to many speeches which have had that end in view.
– I did not intend to speak on this motion, and would not have done so, but for the action of the honorable member for Gwydir, who poses as an authority on good behaviour, in lecturing the House. He spoke of intrigues having taken place in connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital site.
– Wild imagining.
– The honorable member knows all about the intrigues which took place. Those on this side of the Chamber had nothing to intrigue about. We voted for the site which we considered best, and, when defeated, voted for Dalgety as being a better site than that supported by the honorable member for Gwydir. Because the honorable member happened to be defeated in that matter, he talks about intrigues,and then leaves the Chamber without waiting for any reply to. be made to his statements. He spoke of his national aspirations, but I think that there are others in the Chamber whose aspirations are nobler than his. He told us that he looks forward to the time when the divisions between the States will be non-existent. I opposed the acceptance of the draft Constitutibn Bill, because it did not make the Colonies one nation, but kept alive the provincial divisions. I am still of the opinion that that is a bad state of things. The nobleness of the honorable member’s aspirations was made very evident by his remarks about wanting a little more money. He thinks that he should receive a larger payment for his services to the Commonwealth. If he were to be paid by their value, however, I think that his remuneration would be decreased rather than increased. His remarks, instead of showing a national spirit, indicated selfishness. Apparently he has no thought for the. community, which would have to be taxed to pay him a larger sum. According to the honorable member’s reasoning, because the New South Wales Legislature paid for ‘ Mr. Oliver’s report, it therefore determined the Federal Capital Site. Such a statement might be expected from the intellect responsible for it. The expense of that report had to be borne by the New South Wales Parliament, because it commissioned Mr. Oliver, but in voting a sum of money to defray the cost of the report, its members did not bind themselves to accept the conclusions arrived at in it. The report was obtained to enable them to form an opinion as to the suitability of the various proposed sites. Those sites were not proposed by the Government of the State, but were suggested to the Commissioner by outside persons. The statement of the honorable mem ber for Gwydir that the Parliament of New South Wales has no right to interfere in the matter now is absurd. I have not attempted to push forward a site which is situated in my electorate, and which I think would be the best site to select.
– It is one of the best sites.
– I think so. The tendency of population is to increase more rapidly in that part of Australia north of Sydney than in that part which is south of Sydney, and fifty years hence the site of which I speak will be practically the centre of the population of the Continent. The wish of the people of New South Wales is that effect shall be given to the provisions of the Constitution by the selection of a site for the Federal Capital as near as possible to the 100-mile limit. It is not for me to discuss now the wisdom of the constitutional provision. New South Wales having entered into Federation because of its insertion in the Constitution, it should be respected, and effect should be given to it as soon as possible.’ However, I have no wish to detain the House, and will, therefore, content myself with this protest against the statements of the honorable member for Gwydir, who is such an authority upon what is good and courteous behaviour.
– It was like a return to old times to find one’s self listening spellbound to the torrential eloquence of the honorable member for Gwydir. I think that this is the first instance that we have had during the present session of his capacity to interest honorable members. I congratulate him on the fearless length of his remarks, and the Government on possessing a supporter capable of constraining members of the Opposition to reply to the arguments whereby he placed a new construction on a very old question. He traced the history of the attempts to select the Federal Capital Site, and seemed to think that the strict letter of the law should be obeyed, and all legal technicalities taken advantage of by the Commonwealth.
– He spoke with his usual inaccuracy.
– His inaccuracy is always taken for granted, so that I do not refer to it. I think that he regards the matter from the wrong point of view in holding the opinion that this matter should be dealt with by the ordinary process of law that would be resorted to by litigants, and not by way of friendly consultation. It is expedient that it should be arranged upon a thoroughly amicable basis.
– The two parties are in dispute as to their constitutional powers.
– If a little diplomacy had been exercised that position would never have arisen. When it was found that the people of New South Wales were strongly averse to doing what was required of them, it might have been expected that the Commonwealth, which is dependent for its very existence upon the good- will of the States, would have endeavoured to meet them half way. It is essential to the well-being of the Commonwealth that this question should be settled forthwith, and to the mutual satisfaction of the Commonwealth and the State. There is not the slightest doubt that New South Wales strongly resists the claims ofthe Commonwealth, and all the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Gwydir - many of them inaccurate - cannot obscure the fact that the voice of the people of that State is expressed in the attitude taken by the New South Wales Parliament.
– Is not their action somewhat belated ?
– The people have taken the first opportunity of representing their views.
– That is rubbish; they have had many opportunities.
– It is not rubbish. The See Government presented no opportunity to the Parliament to arrive at a corporate decision.
– There were plenty of opportunities for discussing the question. The hands of the Government might easily have been forced if there had been any occasion to do so.
– The answer is that the present State Parliament discussed the matter at the earliest possible moment.
– Immediately after the last general election, the State Parliament, with a mandate of the people clearly before it, discussed the question of the Federal Capital Site, and came to the conclusion that the claims of the Commonwealth could not be acceded to.
– Does the honorable member think that the New South Wales Government approached the question in a diplomatic manner, or with any show of courtesy?
– I am not concerned as to the propriety of the actions of the New
South Wales Government. And I do not think that honorable members will promote a settlement of this question by persisting in firing off sarcasms at the expense of the mother State.
– A question of supreme national importance ought not to depend upon the behaviour of any person.
– It is not for us to consider the conduct of a Government over which we have no control. What we have to do is to review the actions of the Ministry over which we are supposed to exercise control.
– The Commonwealth Government offered to do what the New South Wales Premier desired, and still the State Government were not satisfied.
– That is only half the truth.
– What attitude did the late Minister of Home Affairs take in the matter ?
– He pledgedhimself to bring the whole matter before this Parliament.
– We can judge from the statements of the honorable member, which have been published in the newspapers from time to time, and do not want to know anything about his telegram.
– I read some of those statements in the House to-day.
– There is not the slightest doubt that the attitude of the late Minister of Home Affairs was very different from that assumed by the present Government. His intention was to submit to this House the representations of the New South Wales Government. They were such that he could not see Ms way clear todeal with them without consulting this House ; but he proposed that the matter should be placed before honorable members as early as possible, in order that they might give their decision. The present Government, however, are apparently determined not to afford honorable members any such opportunity.
– Were the late Government in favour of repealing the Seat of Government Act?
– Not having been a member of the late Government, I am not in a position to answer that question. But, if necessary, why not? There is no doubt that the resolution of the Parliament of New South Wales fairly represents the feeling of the people of that
State. Wherever I have gone I have found the same bitter resentment at the protracted delays on the part of this Parliament. Discontent ls general, and it is to ‘the interests of honorable members of this House not to permit that feeling to develop into hatred of the Federal tie, otherwise they will probably find their occupation gone. I do not wish to say anything more on this question. I should not have felt constrained to speak again but for the attitude assumed by the honorable member for Gwydir, who apparently is under the impression that this question demands the exercise of legal agility such as that undoubtedly possessed by the Attorney-General. It demands rather the display of statesmanlike qualities, and I tr ist that the Attorney-General and his colleagues will rise to the occasion.
– I should not have spoken at this juncture but for the fact that the honorable member for Gwydir went out of his way to attack honorable members of the Opposition, and myself in particular, in a most unwarrantable fashion. No matter upon what subject the honorable member speaks, he seems to be unable to avoid imputing unworthy motives to, and casting unworthy reflections upon, members of the Opposition. There was not the slightest necessity to import personalities into the discussion of the Federal Capital question, or to challenge the right of the Opposition to criticise the Estimates. Every honorable member has a perfect right to express his views, and it certainly ill becomes the honorable member for Gwydir to take any exception to the action of honorable members on this side of the House. I protest against the charges made against the Opposition of having sold the people of New South Wales in regard to the Federal Capital Site, and of having engaged in intrigues to that end. No one is better versed in the art of intriguing than is the honorable member for Gwydir, and he should be the last person in the House to charge other honorable members with indulging in that practice. His peculiar tactics in connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital Site are a matter of notoriety. It is characteristic of the honorable member to hurl charges across the Chamber, and then to run away from any criticism which his remarks may evoke. I distinctly told him across^ the table that I intended to challenge the truth of his assertions. The honorable member asserted that I had spoken for three hou.cs on the Federal Capital question last evening. I did not occupy the attention of the House for that length of time, although I addressed myself to a number of subjects. I simply rise now for the purpose df enter-: ing my protest against the accusations of the honorable member, which no one knows better than himself were wholly without foundation. I intend to assert my right to criticise any measures which are placed before the House for its consideration, and I shall certainly not be influenced by the intimidating methods of the honorable member for Gwydir.
– I should like to know whether certain honorable members representing New South Wales are in order in continually talking about secession, and threatening that New South Wales will withdraw from the Union unless we decide to establish the Federal Capital in a site of which it thoroughly approves. All this talk amounts to treason. Her late Majesty Queen Victoria signed the charter of the Commonwealth, it forms a part of the Constitution of the Empire, and when honorable members talk of secession they are acting as treasonably as did Jeff Davis, when he declared that’ the Southern States would secede unless the nigger was made the master of the United States. I think it is about time that some one called attention to the fact that some honorable members are continually threatening that New South Wales will secede, and thus dissolve the Union. It seems to me that some honorable members are acting as secession messenger boys from the New South Wales Parliament. I protest against these continual references to secession. The Commonwealth Parliament has selected a Capital Site, which the New South Wales Legislature declares that it will not grant us. Consequently, I hold that we should remain where we are. After all, New South Wales constitutes only one-sixth of the Commonwealth.
– It is no bigger than Tasmania ?
– Under the Constitution we are not bound to consult New South Wales upon the question of the Seat of Government at all. We do so only as a matter of courtesy. It is the duty of the Government to submit a Bill determining the Federal Territory, and to take steps for establishing the Capital within that territory. .Then if Mr.
Carruthers choosers to interfere they should put him in gaol, as Jackson did the Governor of Louisiana. That is what I would do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate, with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
– In this Bill the Senate has made three amendments, or rather the same amendment has been made three times, viz., in clauses 4, 5, and 6. As the measure left this Chamber provision was made for the imposition of certain penalties. The maximum penalty was a fine of £500. In respect of corporations the Senate has increased that penalty to £1,000. I move -
That the Senate’s amendments be agreed to.
– I do not intend to offer any objection to the amendments made by the Senate, but it is scarcely fair that we should be asked to agree to them instanter, without being afforded an opportunity of understanding their nature.
– I should not have asked the Committee to deal with them immediately if anything more than verbal alterations had been involved.
– As the Prime Minister has stated, the only effect of the Senate’s amendment is to increase the maximum penalty imposed by the Bill for a breach of its provisions by a corporation from £500 to £1,000.
– What is a “corporation “ under this Bill ?
– It is an incorporated company. In the form in which the measure left this Chamber, if a person accepted a secret commission he was liable to a penalty not exceeding £500, and also to two years’ imprisonment, either as alternative or as cumulative punishment. In the case of a corporation £500 was also fixed as the maximum pecuniary penalty. That amount has now been increased to £1,000. Evidently the Senate is of opinion that, as we cannot imprison a corporation we should impose a higher pecuniary penalty. Even in the case of a corporation, however, an individual who is a party to the offence is also liable to imprisonment.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I desire to know whether this Bill will now be returned to the Senate without any recommendation from this House?
– We shall, as the originating House, retain the Bill, but we shall intimate to the Senate that we have agreed to its amendments.
– In moving -
That the Bill be now read a second time,
I propose to makemy remarks as concise as possible. I think that honorable members will admit that this measure is one of considerable importance, and I trust that after reasonable debate it will be allowed to pass.
– I hope that the Government will not imagine that if there is reasonable debate upon it, the Bill is being “ stone-walled.”
– I do not think that we shall imagine anything of the kind. 1 recognise that honorable members will probably desire to discuss two or three of its clauses which in their opinion are of a contentious character. It will be recollected that the present Sugar Bounty Act will terminate at the end of 1906. The bounty now payableupon sugar which is produced exclusively by white labour is £2 per ton. Under the provisions of this Bill it is proposed to increase it to £3 per ton, and also to increase the excise duty to £4 per ton. Before the Bill was framed the Cabinet deemed it wise to obtain all the information that they could in reference to the sugar industry. Accordingly, they induced the Premier of Queensland to permit Dr. Maxwell - who understands this question perhaps better than does anyother man in Australia - to visit Melbourne for the purpose of making a report to the Government. I shall presently read from his report, because it contains some very valuable information - information which has influenced members of the Cabinet in the framing of these proposals. Dr. Maxwell was strongly in favour of the existing Act being extended for a term of seven years. The Cabinet, however, could not see their way to grant that extension, because the ‘Braddon section of the Constitution will expire in the interim, and when that provision terminates, a readjustment of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth will be rendered necessary. Consequently it would be unwise to extend the operation of the Act beyond the period provided for. Several provisions have been included in this Bill which I should not have embodied in it, but for the experience which I gained in administering the present Bounty Act when I was in office upon a former occasion and now. There are several things in the measure which may not have been expected - and perhaps in the estimation of some honorable members are a little dangerous. But I do not think that after they have heard my explanation, they will be of that opinion. Clause 2 contains a provision of a very exceptional character. It has come to my knowledge that a good many of the planters who have been employing black labour desire to substitute white labour at as early a date as possible. In the absence of this provision, if they wished to participate in the bounty, they would be required to destroy the cane at present in their plantations, and a delay of several years would elapse before they could secure any return from replanted cane, and by the employment of white labour. In the past, any cane planted by kanaka labour had to be destroyed, to the injury of the planter, and before he was able to participate in the bounty.
– A lot of white planters! had to submit to that condition.
– That may be so. But the honorable member must recognise that it is not wise to compel the destruction of cane which has been planted bv kanakas where there is an evident desire to employ white labour only in the future. The provision to which I refer reads - “White grown cue or beet” means, sugar cane or beet produced on a white plantation, and in the production of which white labour only has been employed after the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and seven, or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture…..
That is to say that if advantage be not immediately taken of this measure, an interval of twelve months must afterwards elapse before registration can take place and the bounty become payable. In the following lines we protect next year’s crops - or (in respect of the cane crop which will be cut in the year 1906) -
That is about eight or ten months hence - from the commencement of this Act to the delivery of the cane crop for manufacture.
It will thus be seen that those who have planted their crops by black labour will nob be debarred from at once participating in the bounty, provided that they dispense with that labour immediately on the passing of thi>s Bill, and register under it. But for this provision such persons would not be able to obtain, the bounty next year, and that would be an inducement to them to continue to employ black labour, at all events, until the middle of 1906. The object of our legislation in this direction has been by every possible means to secure the substitution of white for coloured labour, not only on the cane-fields, but in other branches of employment.
– The better way to achieve that object would be to raise the excise to £6 per ton.
– In that event the excise duty on sugar would be equal to the import duty. I am not quite satisfied whether the margin between the excise duty of £4 per ton and the import duty of £6 per ton will afford sufficient protection against importations of sugar grown by black labour. Dr. Maxwell considers that it ‘ will be sufficient to foster the growth of sugar in Australia, and to protect local growers from importations of that produced by black labour.
– That is to’ say that those who grow sugar bv black labour as well as by white labour will be! protected from importations of cheaply-grown sugar ?
– The margin will, I hope, be sufficient to protect those who grow sugar by white op black labour in Australia.
– The difference of £2 per ton is sufficient?
– It will be sufficient to shut out sugar grown by black labour in Fiji and elsewhere, which might be imported. Clause 4 is rather an important provision. It sets forth that -
The occupier and the lessee of any plantation on which any sugar-cane or beet is produced shall be deemed to have been employed in the production of all sugar-cane or beet produced thereon.
This clause is designed to cope with the practice of subdividing and leasing estates to aliens - a practice which I am informed obtains in , Northern Queensland. These alien lessees do not actually work on the plantations, but employ white labour. In some cases aliens own sugar plantations, but although the word “owner” appeared in the draft clause, it has been struck out. Under this provision an alien who has leased land for sugar-growing purposes will be regarded as a coloured worker, and even if he has employed white labour in its cultivation, will not be able to obtain a bounty in respect of his crop. Strong representations have been made in regard to the desirability of such a provision as this, but the representatives of Queensland are more familiar with the intricacies of this phase of the question than I am. At this stage I propose to give merely an outline of the objects of the Bill. Clause 6 deals with the rates of bounty to which I have already referred ; while clause 7 relates to the sugar-giving contents of the cane or beet.
– Is an alien who is able to direct a sugar plantation so objectionable that he should be dealt with in this way ?
– Great exception is taken to the practice with which clause 4 is designed to cope, but I do not propose at this stage to go into1 details, which may be better dealt with in Committee.
– Aliens are pushing the white man out of the industry
– I shall have something to say presently in that regard.
– How can they be doing so when they are employing white labour ?
– I propose presently to quote a return showing” that our legislation has not increased the employment of black labour on the sugar-fields, but that, to a large extent, it has driven alien labour northwards. This Bill will enable us to deal, perhaps, more stringently with the position of affairs in the north than we have hitherto been able to do. Clause 9 will do a simple act of justice to the aboriginals of Australia. The effect of the original Act has been to prevent the employment of aboriginals in the cultivation of sugar-cane in their own country. I do not think that that was the intention of Parliament. We know that thev are not likely to enter into serious competition with white workers ; but, under the original Act, the bounty is not payable in respect of sugar produced by means of their labour. I have had to deal with a number of cases in which the Act has not been complied with, although there has been no infringement of the principle involved, and I have, therefore, considered it wise to provide in clause 9 that -
The employment of any aboriginal native of Australia in the growing of sugar-cane or beet shall not prejudice any claim to bounty under this Act.
Clause 11 has also been inserted to meet special cases that have arisen in connexion with the administration of the Act. In one instance, I had really to disregard the law in order to do what I believed to be a simple act of justice. A white woman had a son by a kanaka, and was subsequently married to a white planter. ‘ I was then asked to say whether the fact that this half-caste lad was doing odd jobs on the plantation would prejudice the right of this planter to secure the bounty. According to a strict interpretation of the law, it would!; but after careful consideration, I decided that, in- the circumstances, the bounty should be paid. Matters of this kind render the administration of the Act somewhat difficult, and in order that the Minister for the time being may be able to exercise his discretion in dealing with .such cases, I have provided by clause 11 that -
The Minister may in special cases, if he is satisfied that there are special circumstances rendering it desirable for him so to do, permit any half-caste born in Australia having one white parent to be employed on a white plantation and thereupon such half-caste may be so employed without prejudice to any claim for bounty in respect of sugar-cane or beet produced on the plantation.
– I trust that that will not encourage the propagation of halfcastes.
– I do not think there is much cause for alarm in that regard. .1 wish now to draw attention to the proviso to clause 5 -
Provided that the Minister may, if he is satisfied that black labour was unavoidably employed to save the crop growing thereon, exempt any sugar-cane or beet from this section subject to such conditions as he directs, or as are prescribed.
This clause has been drafted to meet cases in which it might be necessary to employ coloured labour, in order to save a crop from destruction by fire; but upon con- sideration it seems to me that’ it will be necessary to insert an ‘amendment denning the meaning of the words “unavoidably employed to save the crop.”
– As it stands it is a dangerous provision.
– I think it is, and that a definition of the words’ to which I have referred, will be necessary. I have therefore asked the Attorn*- General to draft an amendment that will overcome the objection. If a crop were suddenly threatened by fire it would be ridiculous to say that the employment of any black labour available to save it from destruction should prejudice the right of the owner to secure the bounty in respect of it. I have now briefly explained the alterations in the original Act, and I believe that they are essential to the successful carrying out of the object which we have in view in passing legislation of this kind. Honorable members will be interested to learn what has been the effect of our legislation in regard to this industry. There are many who say that it has not been that which was anticipated, and that the quantity of sugar still produced by black labour is much larger than might reasonably have been expected. The returns show, however, that the increase in the output of whitegrown sugar is much Larger proportionately than is the increase in the quantity of sugar produced by black labour
– We have increased the quantity of white-grown sugar., but have not decreased the quantity produced by black labour.
– The ratio of increase in the case of white-grown sugar is larger than is the ratio of increase in the output of black-grown sugar.
– I put a “number of questions to Dr. Maxwell, dealing with the kernel of the matter, and the first of these was -
For what period does it appear necessary to extend the system of paying bonus on whitegrown cane?
As I have already informed honorable members, Dr. Maxwell is strongly of ““opinion that the system should be extended for a further period of seven years, but the Government have come to the conclusion that it should be renewed for a period of five years. Dr. Maxwell furnishes the following important table relating to the areas registered for bonus, and the number of white cane-growers: -
Commenting on that table, Dr. Maxwell says -
It is seen that very notable increases have been made in the total number of White Growers, and in the gross areas registered to earn the bonus. The full results of the operations of 1905 are not yet to hand, but the figures given under this year in the table indicate that these increases are steadily progressing. The table shows, further, that the increases in the number of White Growers, and of registered areas, have transpired mainly in the Southern and Central Districts, and that a small relative progress has been made in the tropical north. The total number of all cane-growers in Queensland at the beginning of this year was 3,422. The number of White Growers, according to the latest official figures, is 2,681, or 78 per cent, of the whole.
– The sugar-cane grown by white labour is only about 35 per cent, of the whole.
– With regard to the extension of the bonus, Dr. Maxwell1 says -
An extension of the bonus for a period of seven years can claim the greatest measure of support; providing, as it appears, the highest mean of security and advantage to all interests concerned. On the maturing of such further period, the situation would again come under consideration.
– He does not seemto think that the bonus can come to an end even then. ,
– He does not express an opinion on that point. He was strongly in favour of making the period seven years ; but the Government do not feel justified in agreeing to so long a period. He was next asked -
Should the bonus continue to be paid in its present amount, or are there reasons for a revision ?
Without quoting in detail his reply to that question!, I may say that he is favorable to the proposal of the Government, which is to increase the bonus by £1, and the excise by £1. The third question put to him was -
Should a reducing scale be adopted, with_a view to the gradual diminution and extinction of the bonus?
His answer to that question is -
The measure of achievement has not yet been reached that would render the adoption of a !’ reducing scale “ applicable to the situation -at this time. To enforce its adoption prematurely can undo the present success, and threaten the future promise that waits upon the experiment.
He is opposed to a gradual reduction, and I commend to honorable members this part of his report, because I have no doubt that there will be some debate on the question, whether it will be wiser to pay the full bonus up to the end of the fiveyear period, or to gradually reduce the amount. The question was discussed at length in “Cabinet before it was decided to adopt the suggestion to pay the full rate during the whole period. Dr. Maxwell was next asked -
Are there reasons for a revision of the present rate of import duty ?
He is against increasing the duty. He says-
The present rate of import duty is £6 per ton, as compared with a duty of approximately ^£9 per ton upon foreign sugars entering the United States of America, in which country no excise upon homegrown sugars exists. The present import duty- of £6 on foreign produced sugars entering Australia, although low when compared with rates of duty operating in some other countries, appears to be adequate for its purpose.
We have left’ the duty as it is. The fifth question put was -
What are the foreseen effects of an increase of the excise duty?
On that subject, Dr. Maxwell says -
If an increase in the excise were made, with a corresponding increase in the bonus upon white-grown sugar, the position of the producer of white-grown cane will remain unaltered. But the protection of the black grower will be lowered in the exact proportion that the excise is raised.
With a view to still further stimulate the production of sugar bv white labour, the Government have determined to increase the excise duty. The sixth question put to Dr. Maxwell was -
What are the main factors which govern the cost of sugar to the consumer, and what modifications are possible that can lower the cost?
In his reply to that question, he says -
The cost of and the profit from refining has an essential bearing not only upon the cost of the finished article to the consumer, but also upon the selling value of raw sugar, and upon the position of the producer in the field. The refining business, however, could, with greater advantage, be kept separate from the present considerations, and be made a matter of special inquiry.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has a big say in that.
– Yes. I cannot quite understand why the price of sugar grown in Australia should be practically the same as that of imported sugar. We are approaching the time when we shall produce enough sugar for our own demands, and I hope that when we do so the price of locally-grown sugar will be much less than the price of imported sugar. Of course, the excise duty helps to keep up the price of locally-grown sugar, but it should not be as high as it is.
– That is owing to the monopoly of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Possibly so. The price is fixed at £10 or £15, or some other amount, and apparently no one can say “nay” to the Colonial Sugar. Refining Company. Question 7 reads as follows : -
Can any leading modification be made in the regulations governing the administration of the bonus legislation, which could contribute to its adoption more rapidly, and upon a more extensive scale?
Dr. Maxwell enters into considerable detail in his reply. He says -
It is required that the fundamental regulation governing the eligibility of land to register to earn bounty shall be modified and broadened. It is necessary that areas that have not been yet brought under white conditions shall not be at any time prevented from doing so by restrictive - regulations. It is also to be advised that provision shall be made for the re-registration of areas which were placed under white conditions, but which have lapsed, and become again ineligible for earning -bonus. These primary registrations were made in good faith, and the lapses have been due, in the most part, to the unripeness of the conditions necessary to the change from black to white production. Unless such modifications in the administration are made, the progress of the bonus legislation will be blocked by its own provisions.
Question 8 reads -
What are summarily the lines upon which the substitution of white for coloured labour can be induced, and sugar production in Australia be placed most expeditiously and permanently upon a white basis, without risk or diminution of the industry ?
The answer is -
In the foregoing considerations it has been seen that the legislation providing for the white production of sugar has made a very practicable and notable achievement during the short period that it has been in operation, and it is indicated that progress continues steadily to be made.’ In the year 1901 there were 2,610 cane-growers in Queensland. At the beginning of the current year there were 3,422 growers, and 2,681 of this total, at this date, are registered to grow cane under the white conditions. These white growers have not registered all of their lands suitable for growing cane ; neither have they earned the bonus upon the whole that was registered. Nevertheless, 78 per cent. of the total number of cane-growers have placed themselves upon the lines which lead to an ultimate white basis of the industry.
I do not know that there is any necessity for me to quote any further from Dr. Maxwell’s report. I have only done so to the extent necessary to emphasize my remarks. It is estimated that at the present time there are 7,265 kanakas in Queensland, and 14.505 aliens other than kanakas. These figures show that we must so shape our legislation as to prevent aliens from taking the place of the kanakas. It is with this view that the present Bill has been introduced. I wish to quote a few figures to indicate to honorable members the changes that have taken place in the conditions of the industry during the past few years. The following table shows the number of persons employing white and black labour respectively upon sugar plantations : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 November 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051109_reps_2_28/>.