3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– An article in yesterday’s issue of the Melbourne Age contrasts the vigour of the Postmaster-General’s administration with the weakness of that of his predecessor. It states that -
Although the new Postmaster-General has been less than a week in office, he has already set his hand upon some weaknesses in administration that have been the source of considerable public inconvenience in the past.
The article concludes with the statement by the honorable gentleman himself that “the engineering staffs of his Department must be as ready for all emergencies as are the members of the fire brigades.” Does he agree with the contrast in administration drawn by the Age, and will he ascertain if his predecessor likewise does so?
– My business is too important, and the work of the Department too pressing, to permit me to answer such absurd questions.
– It frequently happens that telephone subscribers are informed - that they have been rung up by other subscribers who have given their numbers ; but it is often impossible to” ascertain to whom these numbers belong. Will the PostmasterGeneral, therefore, in issuing future lists of subscribers, adopt the practice which formerly prevailed in Victoria, of printing subscribers’ names in numerical as well as alphabetical order, so that a reference to to the directory will show at a glance who is the lessee of any particular telephone? I think that many subscribers would be ready to pay a small sum for this information, if it could be given without extra expense.
– I recognise that it would be a convenience to telephone subscribers to have this information, and I shall inquire if it can be given without much additional expense. If it can, I shall be happy to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion. ‘
– Has Mr. Beale’s report upon patent and proprietary medicines yet been presented to the Governor-General ?
– I received a telephone message from Mr. Beale this morning, saying that the report had been presented to the Governor-General. The report has not yet come into my hands. I have promised that when it does, I shall lay it upon the table of the House.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In the cases of how many prohibited immigrants within the meaning of sub-section (d) of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-1905, has that provision been put in force on the ground that immigrants were suffering from pulmonary phthisis (consumption) ?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is -
There is no record of any person having been refused admission to the Commonwealth under paragraph [d) of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-5, on account of suffering from consumption.
Two persons suffering from the above disease were, however, prohibited under the provisions of paragraph i) of this section, on the ground that they were likely to become a charge upon a public or charitable institution.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will lay upon the table of the House all papers relating to the matter of the £25,000 bond in connexion with the cancelled mail contract of Sir James .Laing and Sons, in pursuance of a promise made by his predecessor in office on the 10th of July last?
– I shall be very pleased to carry out the promise made by my predecessor, which was to lay the papers in question on the table when the matter is completed.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the fact that tea importers are now bringing tea into the Commonwealth in small packages of one pound put up in India, China, and other cheap labour countries, thereby depriving Australian white people of work, will the Government impose a duty on all tea contained in packages under the weight of twenty pounds?
– I shall be pleased to afford a definite reply to the honorable member at a later date.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th August, vide page 1468) :
Clause 4 -
In this Act, Quarantine has relation to measures for the exclusion, detention, segregation, isolation, protection, and disinfection of vessels, persons, goods, animals, or plants, and having as their object the prevention of the introduction or spread of diseases or pests affecting man, animals, or plants.
Upon which Mr. Glynn had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ introduction,” line 6, the words “ into the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
.- This clause gives the Commonwealth authorities very extensive powers. I admit that whatever authority is appointed to deal with such matters as quarantine and the preservation of the public health should be clothed with the fullest powers, for use in times of emergency, and we must trust that a wise discretion will be exercised in their use and administration. Whatever powers we give to a Commonwealth Department, they should be full and complete for the proper administration of the matters with which we wish that Department to deal. But I doubt, if it be wise to give, at the present time, such large powers as are conferred by the Bill. I am not sure that we have the constitutional right to endow any Commonwealth Department with such powers. Therefore, the Government would do well to accept a reasonable compromise. It would not be right to put the States to the trouble of showing that this Parliament had exceeded its powers, and it would be a reflection upon us if the High Court ruled any of the provisions of a Commonwealth Act to be ultra vires. Therefore, we should try to ascertain exactly what is our constitutional position in this matter. Not even the Attorney-General has shown that the Commonwealth Parliament can legislate with respect to more than the quarantining of human beings and animals. A memorandum upon a report by the Public Health Department of New South Wales has been placed before us, which contains this paragraph -
The term “ Quarantine “ has long been used in England, in Australia, and elsewhere, as applying, not only to maritime quarantine in relation to human diseases, but also as to land quarantine and quarantine of animals.
See Imperial Diseases of Animals Act 1S0.4, section 26, schedule 3, &c. ; New South Wales Stack Act 1901, Pt. IV., secs. 146, 151, &c ; United States Act of 29th April, 1878, chap. 66.
In that memorandum there is no claim that the Commonwealth can take any further power in regard to quarantine than may be exercised in the case of animals. At the Federal Convention of 1897, held at Svdney, Mr. O’Connor, the present Justice, endeavoured to amend paragraph n of section 51 of the Constitution. He moved that the word “ quarantine “ should be omitted with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ public health in relation to infection or contagion from outside the Commonwealth.” Mr. Isaacs, the present Justice, asked Mr. O’Connor not to press the amendment, and said -
I think that the meaning of the word “ quarantine” is pretty well known. There is no doubt that leaving the sub-clause as it is preserves to every State the power that it now has to make laws in relation to all such subjects. It does not vest an exclusive power in the Commonwealth to pass such laws. The State can pass its own law, and alter it as it pleases; but I think it as well to do as was done in the Canadian Act in that respect, to give a power which the Commonwealth might, in case of emergency, employ for the sake of the general health- -power to make a law respecting quarantine, as it is generally understood, so as to preserve all the ports of the Commonwealth, not only from infection from abroad, but also from the danger of any infection which might have reached one port of the Commonwealth spreading to the rest of the Commonwealth. I think that there is no great harm in retaining the word “ quarantine,” and that, if we were to eliminate this word, the day might come when we would very much regret having done so.
The Hon. E. E. O’Connor : The sub-clause as it stands now provides for the quarantine of animals.
The Hon. I. A. Isaacs : I believe it would include the quarantine of animals if those animals when slaughtered would go . into consumption as food, and might thereby affect the public health.
The Hon. Dr. Cockburn : What about the quarantine of dogs?
The Hon. I. A. Isaacs : I think that the Federal Parliament should have the power to deal with this matter if it thinks fit to do so.
I quote this to show that when the Constitution was being framed, the idea of quarantine did not extend to plants or goods. Mr. O’Connor withdrew his amendment after Mr. Isaacs and others had spoken ; but none of the latter hinted for. a moment that paragraph 11 conferred anything like the extensive powers proposed under this Bill.. Under the circumstances, it would be wise, I think, for the Government to take some notice of the States’ protests, and to come to the conclusion that there ought to be a central Commonwealth body or Bureau of Immigration established, which should be assimilated with, or take over, the States bodies now administering the quarantine regulations in relation to oversea communication. When a ship arrives within the ‘Commonwealth the central authority should nave the power to inspect it, and, if there be either plants or any other classes of goods on board likely to spread disease, the Federal authority should have power to impound them or deal with them as the occasion requires. But once the ship has been passed, and the goods or plants taken into a State on a certificate to the effect that they are clean, then the States should be left to deal with them under their own local regulations.
– Would not that give rise to conflict between the States and the Commonwealth?
– Not necessarilv. If the Commonwealth, in the first place, only dealt with oversea quarantine, I do not think there would be any conflict, because the Commonwealth, although acting as the central authority, would utilize the States officers, just as these officers are now utilized. In my opinion, we have not the constitutional power to include plants and animals within the operation of this Bill; and if we have not the power, it would not be wise for us to assume that we have. The States are already protesting against our action ; and to take the proposed powers under the circumstances, would only give further reason for what, perhaps, may be unnecessary disquiet. That is not what we desire. Possibly we are the powerful body, but, if so, we ought to make a generous use of our power, and thereby strengthen the confidence which the States ought to have in the Commonwealth. This is not a party matter, and there is no need for the Ministry to endeavour to win a party battle. We are all satisfied, up to a certain point, that the object of the Bill is commendable, and that the measure is a good one. I ask the Government not to go any further .than I have suggested at the present juncture, because, in view of the fact that the States are now doing the work exceedingly well, there is no urgency. The last paragraph of the memorandum is as follows -
The Vegetation Diseases Acts of the States are not affected as regards the extirpation or treatment of diseases. The advantages of local legislation and administration are admitted. This Bill, so far from diminishing their usefulness, will superimpose national measures for isolating and localizing these diseases where, from the nature of the case, State action is likely to be ineffective.
That goes to show that there is no need for- the Commonwealth to take the proposed power at the present time. If there is no urgency, why should the Commonwealth, simply because, possibly, it may have the power, seek to pass this measure in the face of the opposition of the States, with whom we ought to try to work harmoniously ? If we introduce a system which works well the States will be all the more ready to nana ( over further powers. to us when occasion requires, which will be quite soon enough for the Commonwealth to assume the responsibility. If the Bill be passed as it now stands, the Government may be led to incur greater expense than the Treasurer anticipates. When he introduced the Bill, the honorable gentleman said he. did not anticipate there would be any additional expenditure; and if the Commonwealth confines its attention to oversea matters, and eliminates plants: and goods, we might obtain a very effective administration, probably at less cost, and certainly at very little more cost, than at present. There would be more effective control, because the central authority could arrange that a ship which had got pratique at Perth, could continue the voyage round to Sydney without further molestation. Under the present arrangement it frequently happens that a ship is inspected at each port, and the owners thereby put to much inconvenience and expense ; while the new arrangement I have indicated would be a great convenience to shipping, business, and lead to better administration from a Commonwealth point of view. Such a desirable result, in itself, affords another reason why we should not go- any further than is actually necessary at the present time. If we persist in going further, there must sooner or later be a duplication of officers. For instance, if the Commonwealth thought, it right to assume the functions of’ a State Department in opposition to a State’s wishes, how could the Commonwealth ask that Department to act at any time? There would have to be fresh officers appointed; and, as I say, there must, sooner or later, be duplication. The fruit industry of. Tasmania, for instance, has been built up gradually, and is now under stringent and effective control by local bodies, who make their own regulations, appoint inspectors, and impose penalties. If diseased applesare allowed on trees a penalty is imposed; and every precaution is taken to keep orchard’s clean, and to export only the best and soundest of fruit. The regulations go so far as to insist on cases, which may have been taken to the wharf, being dipped in boiling water before being returned to the. grower, There are different regulations in different neighbourhoods as the local conditions require ; and the Tocal bodies aredoing their work thoroughly and enthusiastically, and far better than it could be done from the distant office of a central body..
– Is it proposed to interfere with- that?
– It is not proposed to interfere with it;, but if the Bill be passed, in its present form, it will certainly give the Commonwealth power to interfere with it. I say that there is no necessity for us to interfere, and the Government might very well limit the scope of the measure in the way I have indicated. To my mind, they would be acting wisely bv so doing. For instance, it is well known that the fruit-growers in the Huon district were called upon to take up land which was covered by dense and heavy vegetation. They have laboriously cleared that land, but even now it is practically valueless for anything save fruit growing. In many instances their whole lives have been devoted to assuring themselves a livelihood in this way. If their lands are interfered with as the result of some regulation, or if the industry in which they are engaged be threatened, they will have nothing to fall back upon.
– Would the ‘ honorable member allow them to continue their avocation without check or hindrance?
– They are not without check or hindrance now. They are subject to as sound regulations as can be devised. They aref under the strictest supervision at the present time, and, consequently, I contend there need be no apprehension that they will not do their best to keep their orchards free from pests.
– Will this Bill abolish those regulations?
– It will certainly give the Commonwealth power to interfere with the fruit-growers when-, as a matter of fact, there is no need to Interfere with them.
– It is a question of administration.
– That is so. But seeing that, in these particular matters, the States are discharging their duty so well, why should we interfere with their administration? What authority cando better than Queensland is doing in respect of the tick pest? I wouldbe the last to urge the Commonwealth to. surrender its powers in any way. But because it has a giant’s strength’, there is no need why it should use it like a viant. In view of the fact that the States are efiiciently discharging their duty in the matter of preventing the introduction of pests and? of disease, why not - seeing that this is at non-party measure - allow the Government to take unto itself powers of quarantine in respect of oversea ships and animals - which involve no constitutional question - leaving the control of plants and goods to the States, except at the ports of entry ?
– Why should we do that ?
– Because, if the matter came before the High Court, it is very questionable whether that tribunal would hold that the power of Federal quarantine extends to plants and goods after ‘they have left the ship at the port of entry.
– Why pre-suppose that the Commonwealth will do worse than the States ?
– I do not pre-suppose anything of the kind. I simply maintain that the States are better able to deal with small local matters than is the Federation. They have more local knowledge, the local residents are more enthusiastic, and understand local conditions better. That being so, why should we interfere?
– The Bill would hit the local people, but it would not hit outsiders.
– If the Bill be passed in its present form, the Commonwealth may, with the very best of intentions, do a vast injury to the fruit-growing industry, to which I have already referred. It has been said that the authorities in Queensland were somewhat lax in their efforts to deal with the tick pest. That may have been true in the early stages of the disease, but as soon as it was accurately diagnosed, and its effect thoroughly appreciated, that State was most active in its efforts to combat it. The Commonwealth could not have done better than Queensland has done during the past few years in attempting to cope with that frightful scourge. I hope that the Government will adopt the view which I am expressing. I am sure that they can do so without any loss of prestige. I am satisfied that by acting in the way I have suggested they will be taking a wise step. As the occasion arises, we can afterwards proceed to legislate to the full extent of our powers if the interests of the Commonwealth, or of the States, should demand it.
.- Every memberof the Committee will agree with me that one of the most important functions which we were led to assume would be undertaken by the Federation was that of quarantine. It is perfectly clear that the work of oversea quarantine can be most efficiently discharged by the Commonwealth, and I hold that one of the fundamental objects underlying the purpose of Federation was that the Commonwealth should discharge those duties which it could fulfil more effectually than could any of the individual States. Consequently I was of opinion that it would be a mistake for the Commonwealth to interfere with the local conditions obtaining in the various States, and with the arrangements which those States have already made. But I must confess that a closer consideration of this question has led me to believe that the Commonwealth should, in the interests of the public health, exercise such powers as would enable it - if by any mischance any of the States neglected to discharge their duties - to assert its authority. I do not think it can be laid to the charge of any State that it has neglected that primary duty. But at the present moment the States rightly or wrongly entertain the view that the Commonwealth Government has introduced a Bill which, possibly, has a tendency to very seriously dislocate their internal arrangements. Consequently they say, “We ask you to delay consideration of this measure before coming to a final decision upon it.” I think that without any loss of prestige the Government might have given greater consideration than they have done to the representations which have been made by the different States in this connexion. Representative bodies, whose members are desirous of seeing quarantine arrangements effectively carried out, have also requested the Government to delay the consideration of this measure until they have had an opportunity of making representations in regard to it. Protests in regard to it have come from Brisbane, from Sydney, and from various organizations in Melbourne. The Commonwealth has been six years in existence without undertaking the very important duties of quarantine, and if there has been no need for it to exercise these powers during that period, it cannot be said that there is any extreme urgency for their exercise now, or to push this matter to its final conclusion immediately.
– Why should the States manifest displeasure at the Commonwealth taking over quarantine functions?
– Let the honorable member ask them, and he will no doubt ascertain.
– Does the honorable member think their displeasure is reasonable under the circumstances?
– I will assist the Government to make the Bill an effective one in regard to oversea quarantine. In my view the object of giving this Parliament power to legislate in respect of quarantine was that it might control oversea shipping in that regard. That is the opinion which would probably be expressed by the “man in the street” who has not grasped the necessity which exists to protect the public health, whether in respect of human, animal, or plant life. I hold that disease detrimental to the public health may be introduced by means of animal and plant life just as easily as small-pox or plague may be introduced. I am sorry that the Minister in charge of the Bill is not present, because, notwithstanding the assurances which he gave yesterday - assurances which undoubtedly modified the opinions entertained by a number of honorable members, and made those members more favorably disposed towards the Bill - I wish earnestly to suggest that whereas these enlarged powers may be secured by the Government, they should be accompanied by a declaration that they will not be exercised except in respect of oversea quarantine. The Commonwealth authorities should have power to follow up any importation into a State under conditions which are thought likely to be detrimental to the public health, and which cannot be dealt with effectively by the States themselves. But while I feel that it is desirable that the Commonwealth should be able to take such action in cases of emergency, I think that we ought to have from the Minister an assurance that these additional powers will not be exercised in any other circumstances. It is true that the Minister could not bind the actions of his successors. I. hold that the kernel of the position rests in the Federation having the most ample power, but refraining from exercising it beyond a certain point, except in an emergency..
– Then the honorable member’s position is that the Commonwealth should have the fullest power, but should not exercise .it?
– My contention is that the Federal control should be limited to oversea quarantine, and that its power to deal with Intra-State or Inter-State matters should not be exercised as long as the
States themselves are carrying out an effective system of supervision.
– But in the event of the States failing to do so, should the Commonwealth have power to step in?
– The Commonwealth should have power to step in when it is shown that the States are not acting in the interests of Australia as a whole.
– But the States are doing the work well.
– Certainly. I claim that they are doing most effective work.
– They are doing the work more effectively than the Commonwealth could’ hope to do it.
– Thev are effectively carrying out the duties with which they are charged, but cases may arise in which action on the part of the central governing authority is necessary to guard the public health. I should be prepared to clothe the ‘Commonwealth with the power not only to deal with oversea quarantine, but to step in and deal with Inter-State quarantine in cases of emergency, or when the States concerned were not taking reasonable precautions to safeguard the public health. I do. not propose to traverse the ground which has been so well covered by members of the legal profession in the House. I would not presume to deal with the constitutional aspect of this question, but I may say at once that I think the Commonwealth should be prepared to take considerable risks from the constitutional stand-point, in order that the health of the people may! be safeguarded. The provisions of this Bill go to the very foundation qf the measures necessary for the preservation of the health of the people, and consequently, notwithstanding legal quibbles that may be raised I am certainly disposed to say that we should be prepared to take some risk in the interest of the nation as a whole. While the proposal that the Commonwealth should have Dower to quarantine plant life is regarded as being somewhat of an innovation, I think it is a power that should be possessed bv it in order that the spread of disease mav be avoided. At the same time, it should be exercised only when the States themselves fail to take proper precautions.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has already circulated an amendment that meets the honorable member’s views.
– I have not seen that amendment, but am glad to learn that steps are to be taken in the direction I have indicated. The limitation I suggest would be a wise one to impose. I trust that we shall be careful in dealing with this measure not to place any new obstacles in the way of trade and commerce between our various ports. It is admitted that the method of supervision so long in force in many countries is being ‘somewhat relaxed in Great Britain, or, at all events, at the port of London, and I hold that we should be very careful not to impose what may prove unnecessary restrictions upon the free entry of large numbers of people to Australia. As far as is consistent with our desire to preserve the public health, we should remove all barriers to such an inflow. The Other day my attention wa3 drawn to an article which appeared in the Age in July, 1901, and which dealt with this question in a very able and satisfactory way. Capable articles are often published in that newspaper, and evidently the management considered that this one was eminently satisfactory, since . they republished it in globo in the issue of Wednesday, 4th March, 1903. The position taken* up by the writer is a just, reasonable, and rational one. After dealing with the whole history of quarantine, the article proceeds -
The British quarantine procedure, it will be seen, is eminently suited to modern requirements. It may be said to provide the maximum of precaution with the minimum of inconvenience, and hence on somewhat similar lines should that of Federated Australia be based. What is required is an efficient system of medical inspection for all vessels coming from infected ports, or vessels on board of which sickness has occurred during the voyage. This inspection should take place at the first port of call within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and it is then that the quarantine precautions should be initiated. Now, as a rule, the three diseases most dreaded in Australia are small-pox, plague, and cholera. Their introduction is most to be feared from Indian and Chinese ports. The two first diseases named are, to a certain extent, now regarded as always more or less prevalent, and special precautions in this direction will be required. The method which will naturally suggest itself is that two Federal quarantine stations shall be established, the one for the purpose of supervising the health of vessels coming by our western ports, and this would have to be either Fremantle or Albany, and the other coming by the eastern ports, either at Thursday Island or Cooktown. The duty of the officers- deputed by the Federal Government to carry out the quarantine regulations would be to hold an effective inspection on the arrival of any vessel from an infected port, or having sickness on board. If, on examination, actual cases are found, then the patient or patients should be landed, and the usual precautions taken to prevent any spread of the disease. On the other hand, if the vessel is found to be free of disease, then a clean bill of health should be given that would prevent the trouble and waste of time that now frequently occurs in holding medical inspections at every Australian port at which an ocean-going steamer may call.
That appears to be good, sound, common sense.
– The Bill itself provides for such a scheme.
– The view put forward by the writer is to my mind a very sound one. His contention is that the scope of Federal power should be limited to oversea quarantine, and that I believe was the original intention. My only justification for addressing the Committee, after the full and able debate to which we have listened, is my desire to emphasize the reasonableness of the plea put forward by the States Governments, who say, in effect, to us, “ Do not dislocate the machinery that we have built up as the result of years o£ careful thought. Limit the Federal control to oversea quarantine, except in cases where it is necessary in the interests of public health to deal with Inter-State or InfraState quarantine.” If the Minister makes it clear that the administration of the Bill will be limited in that way, I hope that the Committee will give the Government an effective measure, sufficient to enable them to cope with any contingency, and to deal with any failure on the part of one or more States to carry out these duties satisfactorily.
– I agree with the honorable member for Kooyong that we should give the Government an effective measure, and, that being so, I intend to support the clause as it stands. I think that the Ministry are proposing that which is necessary in order to secure an effective system of Federal quarantine. According to some honorable members, the States are afraid that we shall exercise these powers too rigidly.
– Then of what are they, afraid ?
– They are afraid that lack of local knowledge may cause the administration of the measure to be ineffectual.
– Another honorable member has told us that the States are relaxing their supervision. The objection that the present precautions will be relaxed is met by the. statement of the Minister that he is willing to take over the existing State machinery. If that be done, and the machinery now controlled by. the States is effectively operated by the Commonwealth, great good will ensue. In the first place, the change will benefit the Governments of the States, by removing from their control Departments which are now a charge upon their revenues. Public men in the States have declared that the Commonwealth Government is a costly affair, and we have now to show them how they can save money by handing over certain Departments to Commonwealth control.
– Is the Commonwealth to take into its service the stock inspectors of the States?
– Those whom I represent are almost wholly consumers, and they ask to be protected from disease likely to be conveyed by fruit and vegetables, as well as from disease likely to be conveyed by animals or man. I understand that the intention of the amendment is to limit the control of the Commonwealth to quarantine in respect to persons and goods coming from abroad or passing from State to State. In other words, those who support the amendment appear to be ready to go two-thirds of the way which the Government ask us to go. Why should they not go the remaining one-third of the distance, and give the Commonwealth power to interfere for the prevention of the spreading of disease within a State? I remember that, some years ago, it was found difficult to prevent the tick fever from getting into New South Wales from Queensland, notwithstanding the robust administration of the Agricultural Department of the former State. One gentleman, who was a Member of Parliament at the time, evaded the quarantine which was established by avoiding the wellknown crossing places, and driving 1,700 remounts across the border by an unusual route. I do not pretend to possess any technical knowledge in regard to this measure; but I shall vote for the clause as it stands, in the desire to provide effectively for the stamping out. of disease in every part of the Commonwealth.
.- I cannot altogether agree with the amendment. As it covers the whole ground of the present controversy, I shall not now say anything about the constitutional aspect of the question, or deal with more than the point immediately raised, as to our right to take powers for the prevention of the spreading of disease within a State, as well as for the prevention of the spreading of disease from one State to another. I hold that under the Constitution we can endow a Commonwealth Department with the full powers proposed to be conferred by the Bill ; but I am also of the opinion that expediency must weigh with us in considering the advisability of exercising our constitutional powers. We should be very loth to endeavour to exercise the powers which the Government have told us they, desire to exercise through the local health officers of the States, because we cannot expect to obtain the service from State officials that the States get from them.
– A similar arrangement under the Commerce Act works very, well.
– The provisions of the Commerce Act are not so far reaching and extensive as those of the Bill. Does the honorable gentleman propose that the Commonwealth should take over the Stock Departments of the States, and pay the salaries of their stock inspectors? If that were done, and similar action were taken in regard to the Health Departments of the States, we should have to alter our financial arrangements under the Braddon section. But while I hold that it would be expedient to ask State officers generally to administer internal quarantine, I feel that we ought not to limit our powers in any way. The necessity may arise in the future for exercising these powers to the fullest, either because the States have exceeded their powers of local quarantine, or because they have failed to sufficiently exercise them. This matter, however, can best be dealt with by. clause 13, and consequently I shall not speak at length in regard to it at this stage. I rose to ask a simple Question of the supporters of the amendment - I refer to the second proposal, to insert after the word “ spread “ the words “ from State to State.” It has been generally accepted by the Committee that the adoption of that amendment would limit the Commonwealth to providing for quarantine on the borders of the States. Let us consider whether, as a matter of strict fact, the amendment would have that result. If it were made, the clause would read -
Quarantine has relation to measures for the . . . prevention of the . . . spread from State to State of diseases or pests affecting man, animals, or plants. ‘
A common-sense Court would interpret that provision to mean that, to “prevent”. the spread of disease from State to State, the Commonwealth could track it to its place of origin within any State. If a disease were allowed to spread through a State until it reached its boundaries, nothing the Commonwealth could do would ‘ prevent ‘ ‘ it from spreading to adjoining States. Consequently, the reasonable interpretation of the provision would give the Commonwealth power to track down disease to its place of origin within a State, and to deal with it there by any system of quarantine which it might choose to adopt.
– The honorable member for Angas says that the amendment to which the honorable member refers will prevent litigation.
– I do not think that it will; because it leaves the wording of the clause too vague. It is not my purpose to offer a captious criticism upon it, but for the reasons I have given, I shall be compelled to vote against it. I reserve the right to so limit the power of the Commonwealth, under clause 13 as to make Intra-State quarantine effective only when a State has failed to take proper, action, or has exceeded its proper powers in regard to quarantine.
– I was very much impressed by the views put forward by the honorable member for Angas yesterday. He gave the Committee much valuable information. We require a powerful central authority to regulate quarantine, and I shall support the Bill as nearly as possible as it stands. In Victoria, at one time, the care of the public health was in the charge of local bodies; but it was found that on occasions their members were afraid to exercise their powers for fear of offending persons in the district over which the Board had control. The Legislature, therefore, felt compelled to institute a central Board of Health, with power to override the local bodies, which have since been altogether wiped out, the Health Act now being administered by a central department located1 in Melbourne. This arrangement has been found to work well, and every one is pleased with the change, although, when first suggested, it was opposed by the local bodies. What is proposed by the Bill is a similar change, although on a larger scale, and, similarly, the State Departments are objecting to the control of a central Commonwealth Department.
– Has it not been found that the Victorian Board of Health has not sufficient power, and that it could do better work if it had more power?
– It has more power than it originally possessed, and has done great good by exercising that power. Possibly it would do more good if its power were extended. We do not want to have in existence two sets of authorities. If we have both States Departments and a Commonwealth Department, the friction which will be caused should the Commonwealth Department attempt to coerce the States Departments will create more unpleasantness and ill-feeling than the transfer ‘ of the sole control to the Commonwealth. My view is that the Commonwealth should take over the Departments of Quarantine and Public Health. In my opinion, they would be better administered by one central authority than by independent State authorities. Has the Commonwealth been unable to properly administer the Departments of the Post Office,. Customs and Defence? Are those Departments not as well conducted as they were by the States ? I think they are.
– I cannot say that the administration of these Departments is perfect; but I believe that a central governing body would manage quarantine quite as well, if not better, than do the divided authorities of the several States. There are local jealousies already. We have Western Australia endeavouring by a side-wind to keep out fruits from other States.
– That is in order to keep out the codlin moth.
– Probably Victoria has taken a similar step in relation to Queensland bananas. I do not say that Victoria has behaved any better than has Western Australia or South Australia in this connexion. But the Commonwealth being the superior authority, the more power that is vested in the central body, the better it will be for Australia as a whole.
– Has the honorable member any idea of what the cost would be?
– I cannot see that it should cost any more to administer Australia as a whole in the matter of quarantine than it does to carry on the administration of the different Health Departments of the States. If any one would take the trouble to ascertain what the cost is at present, I am satisfied it would be found to be more than would be entailed under a central body ; and certainly the administration of the latter would be more in the interests of the public.
– I gave particulars as to the cost in my second-reading speech.
– I have not the figures in my mind. At any rate, honorable members would do well to support the Government, and to avoid so legislating as to give the States power to act on exactly the same lines as the Commonwealth - a policy which could only give rise to much friction.
– There would appear to be- two questions before us. First, there is the constitutional question, which has been very exhaustively discussed by honorable members, who, in this House are, perhaps, the most capable of discussing it. I do not desire to go very far’ into that question; but I find that the honorable member for Angas, in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Parkes, said he was not sure whether the Commonwealth could constitutionally take up all the powers sought under the Bill, although he was prepared to “ chance it.” The honorable member for Kooyong was also prepared to say, “ Let us .risk this departure.” That, in my opinion, is a wrong attitude for the Committee to take. It would be more in consonance with the dignity of this Chamber for us to be sure of our ground before we move ; while any false step will only put us more and more in conflict with the States Governments, and invite captious criticism and litigation. So far as the word “quarantine” is concerned, I do not think there is any doubt that we have not the powers sought under the Bill. It has been argued, however,, that we have additional powers under the provisions of the Constitution relating to trade and commerce. I am willing to admit that a great deal that is not contained in the provision relating to quarantine may be found in the provision relating to trade and commerce. But we find that the regulations in regard to trade and commerce in Canada and the United States “are almost entirely, if not exclusively, in regard to Inter-State trade and matters of that description. The honorable member who submits the amendment, and, I think, the majority of honorable members, are willing to give the Government power to regulate Inter-State quarantine. The only question on which we come into collision is whether we should exercise what are called the police function of the States in regard to matters within the States themselves. That is a course which, in my opinion, we are not called upon to take at the present time, even if we have the power. There are steps which may or may not be lawful, but which may not be expedient; and this, I think, is a step which it would be inexpedient for us to take, seeing that such matters can be better administered by the States than by a central authority. We all agree that there ought to be central administration in regard to what may be termed quarantine proper - that is maritime quarantine - so as to prevent the introduction of diseases dangerous to human, animal, or plant life. . These are matters which could be dealt with by the Commonwealth, and Parliament ought to take the necessary power ; but when we come to interfere with the States in the exercise of their present powers - powers which, at any rate, the majority of the States are exercising well at the present time - we are on- another footing altogether. There would be much difficulty in administering the law if we took the full powers proposed in the Bill. The Acting Prime Minister, when he introduced the measure, said -
I frankly confess that it has been found somewhat difficult to devise a means of doing this effectively and inexpensively, and I hope that when the Bill becomes law we shall find it possible to work harmoniously with the States.
As to taking over the machinery of the States, I understand from what the Acting Prime Minister said, that he referred to the quarantine stations and to the health officers, more especially those employed in these stations. I do hot think for a moment that the Acting Prime Minister proposes to take over the administration of the Public Health Acts, the Nuisance Prevention Acts, the Cattle Slaughtering Acts, the Stock Acts, the Fruit Pests Acts, and’ similar statutes of the different States ; it is inconceivable that the Commonwealth could administer those Acts in the way they are being administered at the present time. All those powers ought to be left to the States, which possess all the necessary administrative machinery. The States Governments have at their disposal the municipal councils, and the health officers appointed by the councils, and also the police, who are often used in enforcing regulations made under such Acts as I have mentioned. The Commonwealth could not avail itself of this administrative machinery, and could not supersede it ; the only course open would be to either duplicate the machinery, or leave ourselves absolutely in the hands of the States.
– Is there not another course, namely, to keep a reserve power in case of the States either exceeding or not carrying out their powers?
– But the only way in which we could enforce such a power would be by some sort of machinery, and by officers responsible to us, and not responsible to the States, and such machinery could not be created without incurring a great deal of expense, and, possibly, creating ‘financial difficulty.
– In the case of the States not carrying out their powers efficiently, would the honorable member, merely on the score of expense, not allow the Commonwealth to proceed?
– No; but I cannot see that at the present time it is necessary to. take such a. power. The administration of the States is increasingly effective; and we do not desire to create extensive administrative machinery merely in order to meet such an emergency as has been suggested. Our experience is not that the States do not enforce their Acts, but rather that they are apt to go too far.
– And there, again, another power is necessary for the Commonwealth, is it not?
– Even if in times of panic the States Governments go too far that is better than their not going far enough. What we have to look to is the effective protection of the people from the introduction and spread of the diseases and pests mentioned. In the case of the Commerce Act, we allow the States to do their own work by experts, and under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, we deal only with matters concerning more than one. State; and we ought to act on the same broad principle in the Bill before us. If we do that, we shall have done all that the Commonwealth is called upon to do at this stage; and for the reasons that I have given, I am prepared to support the amendment.
.- Even after the lengthy discussion which has taken place, I feel somewhat in doubt as to what course I shall take with regard to the amendment. We have had two or three splendid addresses from the legal point of view; but the speakers appear to be in conflict upon a very important point. The amendment of the honorable member for Angas commended itself to my judgment ; but an equally eminent’ member of the legal profession, the honorable member for Bendigo, told us that if we adopt the amendment it will simply shatter many of the subsequent clauses of the Bill. We have no desire to bring about that result - we would rather accept the measure, and endeavour to make it perfect. I apprehend that the desire of the Committee is to assist the Government in carrying into effect what is undoubtedly an essential part of our constitutional powers. But there appears to rae some doubt as to what the Bill is de-‘ signed to accomplish. Legal members have presented the Bill to us as one containing powers designed to be concurrent with certain powers which the States will possess, even if the Bill becomes law, and will still continue to exercise. That was certainly not the view presented to us by the Acting Prime Minister when he introduced the Bill. I have the Hansard report of the honorable gentleman’s speech, and it seems clear from what he said that the intention of the Government is to take over the whole control of quarantineThe honorable gentleman said -
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to remind honorable members that we have at present six different State laws dealing with quarantine, and every one will admit it is unwise that the existing system should continue any longer than is absolutely necessary.
At a later stage, the honorable member for Parramatta asked -
What powers of quarantine will be preserved1 to the States if this Bill be passed?
To that question the Acting Prime Minister replied -
I have made inquiry, and am advised that no power will be preserved to them.
Consequently it is clear that in the opinion of the Acting Prime Minister we are going to take over the whole- power of quarantine, so that in future no power in that connexion will be vested in the States. At a later stage of the debate, the honorable member for Franklin asked -
Is the Minister advised that the Commonwealth Government can quarantine one part of a State as against another without the consent of that State ?
The Acting Prime Minister replied -
I am so advised.
Therefore the intention of the Bill is that the Commonwealth shall assume absolute control of all quarantine arrangements, including the internal control hitherto exercised by the States. To my mind, it is perfectly clear that if we do take over these functions we shall have done very little more than take over quarantine arrangements so far as the ports of entry are concerned, because no provision has been made by the States for the quarantining of districts or portions of a State. If anything of that sort becomes necessary, action is invariably taken by their Stock Departments, and not under quarantine regulations. Therefore I think we may accept this Bill, which is particularly designed to assume control over existing quarantine arrangements, and from that stand-point I am prepared to support the Government proposal. I believe that this work can be discharged to better advantage by the Commonwealth than it is under present conditions, which appear to me to be likely to create difficulties. Only in to-day’s newspapers a report is published of a discussion which has just taken place in the South Australian Parliament. That discussion had reference to the introduction of the fruit fly, and to the objection which is entertained by the State authorities to the importation of apples from New South Wales. Some honorable members of the South Australian Parliament expressed the fear that if the State Government prohibited the introduction of apples from New South Wales because of the presence of fruit fly there, the latter State would resort to reprisals by refusing to allow fruit from South Australia to enter Broken Hill. That is one of the difficulties which is always likely to arise where conflicting authorities exist, and, in matters affecting the whole of the States, I am inclined to think that it will be in the interest of the general community to secure administration by the Commonwealth. Of course, it may happen that, owing to the establishment of a central authority, we shall not be in a position to secure prompt action in certain” cases. That is one of the difficulties associated with the establishment of an authority which is called upon to govern a very large area. The dangerwhich I apprehend is that, in some instances, a disease may evidence itself in one portion of a State, and before the central authority can be induced to move the area of infection may become en larged, so that it will be more difficult to cope with it than it would have been if action had been taken earlier. That, however, is a matter of administration. Unfortunately, Government Departments are proverbially slow to move. I do not know whether they are quite so slow as the average man credits them with being, but I do know that, in many instances, it is very difficult to get them to move. In cases where disease becomes manifest, and requires to be grappled with expeditiously, we must take care that our organization is such that its services may be called into active exercise at the earliest possible moment. I am quite prepared to support the Bill. Concerning the amendment, I scarcely know what action to take. Upon its face, I feel inclined to agree to it. But I should like to hear from some member of the legal profession how it wouldbe likely to affect the Bill, because I do not desire the prediction of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to be realized. We must be careful to guard against that, and, therefore, as a layman, I should like to hear a further expression of opinion upon the subject.
.- I shall support the amendment. The Acting Prime Minister states that he has an amendment which he may move, but he declines to say whether or not he will move it until clause 13 is under consideration. I do not think that this Committee actually wishes the Commonwealth to interfere with the internal arrangements made by the States in respect ofhealth matters and the control of pests. The position I take up is that I desire to see the Commonwealth assume the control of quarantine matters in regard to oversea shipping and as between State and State. But I would point out that if we undertake control of the matters which are now dealt with by the State authorities under their Quarantine Acts, we shall not deal with one tithe of the subjects over which they exercise supervision. If we are going to deal with diseases in fruit, why should we not deal with slaughtering operations, and with other matters affecting the public health, which, in some States, are incorporated in their Police Acts, in others in their Vegetation Diseases Acts, and in still others in their Pests Acts? The object of the major portion of this Bill commands the support of honorable members, but I would ask them to recollect that in all the States pests have been dealt with by special legislation. When the Acting Prime Minister tells us that he intends to take over the existing State machinery in relation to quarantine, he overlooks the fact that the larger portion of that machinery is not included in the States Quarantine Acts, but in their Codlin Moth Acts, their Vegetation Diseases Acts, and their Pests Acts. Consequently, we shall have to devise special machinery to give effect to the provisions of this Bill. In dealing with these matters, it occurs to me that it would be well for us to have regard to the experience of other countries. I do not know of any Federation which has assumed control over all these subjects to the extent that we are invited to do. After an experience of 100 years, the United States of America has left them entirely in the hands of the States Legislatures. That is the case, notwithstanding that in America plagues have been experienced for nearly a century, and the question of quarantine has come into very much greater prominence than it has in Australia. Matters of local concern, can, in my judgment, be dealt with better by local boards than by a central authority. Our States Parliaments have found that local bodies can deal with pests such as those to which I have referred better than can the State authorities themselves. In the industry in which I am particularly interested, in order to cope with various diseases, it has been found necessary to re- move the power of control from the central State authority, and to vest it in local bodies. To that end, local fruit boards have been established which have been granted enormous powers. These have discharged their functions better than any central authority - whether Federal or State - could hope to discharge them. It may be news to some honorable members to learn that in Tasmania these Fruit Boards have power to tax orchards up to10s. per acre, in addition to all State and municipal taxation. The object of granting them this power is to enable them to insist upon the orchards being kept clean. Yet even there it is not possible to secure uniform control. For instance, one Board has found it necessary to make spraying operations compulsory, whilst in a neighbouring district it has not been deemed desirable to insistupon compulsory spraying. In Tasmania, very stringent legislation exists in regard to the internal arrangements of the State. For instance, the Codlin Moth Act, which was amended in 1891, makes it penal for any orchardist to convey from one part of the. State to another - that is, from his own orchard to his own yard, if there be a highway intervening - any infected fruit. That fruit must be destroyed in the orchard itself. At varying periods inspectors visit the orchards, and if diseased fruit be found in them the offender is fined. The orchardists are thus obligedto employ a number of boys and girls to pick diseased fruit from time to time, and to destroy it. What machinery will the Federal authority have to carry out any such arrangement ? I repeat that the legislation dealing with these fruit pests is not embodied in the quarantine law of the States, but in such Acts as the Codlin Moth Act, the Vegetation Diseases Act, and the Pests Acts, and we have no power under a general Quarantine Bill to’ take over the arrangements made by the States in connexion with the suppression of these pests.
– It is not proposed to interfere with the police powers of the States.
– Then what machinery shall we have to create to carry out the * intentions of the Bill ? This does not provide for police inspection.
– I used the term “ police powers “ in a technical sense, and not in the sense of powers exercised by constables. I am referring to powers relating to the preservation of public health.
– Do I understand from the Attorney-General that it is not proposed under this measure to interfere with the local boards appointed by the States to prevent the spread of insect pests? I greatly fear the power to issue regulations proclaiming any district a quarantine district. The Federal authorities will have power by regulation to proclaim any orchard or any part of a district a quarantine district, and as long as the quarantine continues, not one bushel of fruit may be sent to or from that district. If, as the result of an outbreak at Glenorchy or Bridgewater, those places were declared a quarantine district, the only right of way between the whole of the Derwent Valley district and Hobart, its sole port of shipment, would be closed. Not a bushel of apples could pass through that quarantine district, and the result would be that the whole of the fruit produced there would have to rot in the orchards. We’ are assured that no Minister would think of taking so drastic a step. The Minister has told us that he does not in- tend to do. anything of the kind. But in framing such a measure as this, we should take care to give the authorities no more power than we think, they ought to possess. We should not have regard to any question of whether the Minister who would be called upon to administer it is favorable or unfavorable to the industries to which it relates. I am sure that honorable members do not think that the Commonwealth authorities should have power to inflict an absolute wrong upon all the fruit-growers in a district by ^proclaiming a quarantined area in the circumstances I have stated. It is not necessary for us to give such powers to the Government. The States Governments themselves have found that it is sufficient to confer on local boards the power to do all that is necessary for the protection of the industries to which they relate. “ In Tasmania local bodies, created under Acts which will not be affected bv this measure, have the most extensive and far-reaching powers. They can compel a man to keep his orchard clean, and if he refuses to do so their officers may enter that orchard, and destroy the trees in it. Is anything further necessary ? Under this Bill we might have a regulation applying to the whole of the States, and, in passing, I may say that I am inclined to think sometimes that the demand for uniformity is destined to become almost a curse in Australia. We might have a regulation that was quite applicable to Queensland or New South Wales, although its effect on other States would be disastrous. The authorities might frame a regulation suitable to Tasmania, but wholly inapplicable to the conditions prevailing in other States. When the danger of uniformity in this respect is brought under the notice of the authorities,” they reply at once,, “ We cannot differentiate between the States. We must have uniform regulations.” The demand for uniformity in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department is carried to an extent to which .no business mam would be a party. The United States of America have found it wise to refuse in many cases to pass uniform regulations. The varied climatic conditions of that vast continent render uniformity impossible. In Australia we have an even greater variety of climatic, conditions, and since as the result of an experience extending oyer 100 years, the Government of the United
States have found it absolutely necessary to leave wholly and solely to the States the passing of regulations relating to the quarantining of fruit pests, I think that we should be prepared to follow their example. Some of the ablest constitutional authorities in the House have declared that the Government are proposing to go beyond their power in this respect. But I do not intend .to deal with the constitutional aspect of this question. I recognise that there are certain functions relating to quarantine which the Commonwealth should exercise. I think that every honorable member is prepared to give the Federal Government power to deal with the general question of oversea and Inter-State quarantine, and surely it would be wise for the Minister to refrain from seeking additional power at the present time. Throughout the electorate which I represent there is a feeling of unrest in connexion with this proposal. Their experience of the working of the Commerce Act has not been such as to lead them to believe that further interference, on the part of the Federation, with local matters is by any means desirable. This Bill, in so far as it deals with pests affecting plant life, is of the utmost importance to orchardists. We are dealing here with the very bread and butter of men who have carved out for themselves homes in the bush. Everything they possess is repre’sented by their orchards. Thev have made a success of their industry without State assistance, and they simply ask us to leave them, alone. They have shown that they can manage their own affairs far better than the Federal authorities could hope to do. They have done much better than even the State Governments could hope to do in taking measures to preserve their industry from the various pests that from time to time assail it. It is because of this that the Government of Tasmania have seen fit to vest the local boards with complete powers, and those powers are ‘exercised in order to preserve the industry, in which members of the boards, and those whom they represent, have embarked practically every penny they possess. We need not fear that such men are not likely to take the necessary steps to prevent the introduction of pests calculated to sweep away their’ means of earning a livelihood. We know from bitter experience that Government interference in these local matters has been attended by disastrous results. The Acting Prime Minister has said that it is not the intention of the Federal Government to interfere with the local bodies ; but is it wise to pass a law with the deliberate intention that no machinery to give effect to it shall be created? Under the system prevailing in Tasmania an inspector of a local board may also be employed as a rate collector or secretary of a road trust, and may, perhaps, exercise half-a-dozen other functions. Under the Federal control, however, new machinery would have to be created. We should require new machinery in order that the Act might be properly administered. The orchardists view with alarm the possibility, not only of a more rigid quarantine system, but of the passing of uniform regulations that may break down the barriers they have thought fit to create for the protection of their industry. The Government should be content to acquire general powers of oversea quarantine and quarantine as between State and State, leaving Intra-State matters to be dealt with for the time being by the local authorities. As an honorable member has said, the question is not so much one of legality as of expediency. I do not think any one would say that under this Bill the system of quarantine relating to the suppression of fruit pests should be more rigid than it is in toy electorate. I doubt if it could be more thorough, and in these circumstances, I ask whether it is wise for the Federal Government to seek to run counter to public opinion. I have never raised in this House the question of whether it is wise for the Federal Government to come into conflict with those of the States, and I am not dealing with this question from that stand-point. I feel that we often make a mistake in speaking of a State Government when we have really in mind the people who have elected us, and to whom we are responsible. This is a question between the Federal Parliament and the people who elect it. Unless we think that some great advantage will be secured by the Commonwealth Government clothing itself with these additional powers, I do not think that we should go out of our way to provide them, and thus create in the minds of our constituents a feeling hostile to the Parliament. On Saturday last, I addressed a very large meeting at Glenorchy, near Hobart, which was attended by representatives of all the fruit-growing districts. The unanimous request made by that meeting was that the local bodies should be left to deal with all local questions re lating to the introduction of fruit pests. I hope that the Government will see their way clear to accede to that demand. If they would agree to eliminate from the Bill the clauses relating to plants and insect pests affecting plants, I believe that the remaining clauses would be passed through Committee in a quarter of an hour. I told the Acting Prime Minister on Friday, that I did not think there would be much objection to the Bill if he would agree to such an amendment. I do not believe that the Federal Government require this additional power, nor do I think that if they secured it they would exercise it as effectively as the States are now doing. If it is not the intention of the Commonwealth Government to carry out what I may call the police duties necessary for the proper exercise of the powers conferred by the Bill, I fail to see what will be gained by passing the measure.
– We must have a reserve power.
– The Government of Tasmania has not found it necessary to have a reserve power in regard to the inspection of orchards, and has thrown the complete responsibility for the proper administration of the law upon those who make their living by fruit-growing. The man who has put all his capital into an orchard has so much at stake that he will do more to bring about the proper observance of the law requiring the keeping down of fruit pests than will be done by any official.
– His next door neighbour might not be so zealous.
– If an orchardist does not comply with the regulations, he is liable to have his trees destroyed.
– The honorable member is referring to what is done in fruit-growing districts.
– Yes. I tried to get the provisions of the Tasmanian Act extended to other districts.
– If the orchardists to whom the honorable member refers were located in Victoria, close to the border, would they not like to have the provisions of a measure such as he speaks of extended to the adjoining State?
– When people are making their living from a certain occupation, they may be trusted to look after its proper regulation. This Parliament was elected by those who elect the Legislatures of the States’.
– That is not so in regard to Victoria.
– If I had my way, the Commonwealth and State franchises would be uniform. There is no need for this legislation, and the Bill has already created great friction and alarm. I sent copies of it throughout my electorate, and have since been overwhelmed with telegrams and letters conveying resolutions of public meetings held in the fruit-growing districts. The people there unanimously condemn it, and ask Parliament to allow the orchardists to manage their own affairs.
– Have they looked at the matter from the Federal point of view?
– I think so. They certainly have not been subjected to any outside influence. They realize that this Parliament is being asked to do what the State Parliament was asked to do. The late Sir Edward Braddon obtained for the Tasmanian Government certain powers in connexion with these matters ; but it has since been found necessary to hand them to local authorities, who exercise them well. If pressure cannot be brought to bear on a State Government to compel persons possessing a few fruit trees to keep them clean, pressure could not be brought to bear on the Commonwealth Government to do so. The provisions of this measure, if it be agreed to as it stands, must be administered largely through the Customs Department, as the provisions of the Commerce Act are. But the abilities and experience which make the Customs officials excellent men for their present work, are very different from those required to be shown in the carrying out of a measure such as this. There can be no question of party in connexion with this measure. The Committee has considered it from the practical stand-point. I urge that growers can deal with pests better than a central authority can, and if Ministers will not agree to meet us, I shall support such amendments as will effect my object. I hope that they will agree to remove fruit and plant pests from the operation of the measure.
– I have listened attentively to the debate, and think that the honorable member for Bendigo gave us a splendid speech last night, although 1 regret that he referred to the State management of quarantine, and suggested that the authorities of Queensland and Victoria have not always done their duty in this matter. Whatever law or regulation may be in force, there will always be the possibility of faulty administration, because mistakes are always liable to occur in any matter under human control. The Constitution empowers this Parliament to pass laws in respect to quarantine, and we should be prepared . to exercise that power. Not only is it necessary to pass laws for the prevention of the spread of disease communicable by animals and human beings, it is also necessary to prevent the communication of disease by plant life and goods. Twenty years ago, when small-pox first broke out at Launceston, the infection was believed to come from clothes which had been taken from a lodging-house, and put into a store for twelve months, because it was the man who unpacked them who was first smitten with the disease. An instance like that shows that measures for the prevention of, disease cannotbe effective unless they relate to goods as well as to animals and human beings. It has been said that the authorities of the States can administer health and quarantine laws better than they could be administered by the authorities of the Commonwealth. That argument has been used by the present Opposition in regard to all sorts of proposals ; but when the members of the Opposition party were supporting a Ministry, they took an opposite view. Whatever outsiders may say, it is not for us to declare ourselves incapable of managing the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– I pointed out that it has been held in Tasmania that local bodies can deal with fruit pests better than can the State Government.
– If the Government of Tasmania has found it better to give the administration of certain legislation to boards, what should prevent the Commonwealth from doing the same thing? I am altogether opposed to the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Brisbane. Steps for preventing the spread of disease must be taken immediately. If his amendment were agreed to, the Commonwealth would have to wait until a State had refused or neglected to take action. If small-pox were reported to have broken out at Mildura how long would the Commonwealth be expected to wait before taking actiona day, a week, or a month ? I should be very sorry to see a clog put on the wheel of Commonwealth action in the manner proposed, and would rather leave the whole responsibility to the States. If the amendment were carried, the States would excuse themselves by saying, “ We did not take action because we expected that the Commonwealth would do so.’”’ Wherever there are two authorities, there is confusion, and maladministration. The arguments of some honorable members, if pushed to their logical conclusion, would prove Federation to be a mistake. Is it not a fact that the Federal Parliament has been able to provide for the effective management and administration of the Postal Department?
– That is a highly centralized business which was a going concern when we took it over.
– This Parliament represents’ the united wisdom of Australia, and if we are able to provide for the proper administration of the Postal Department, we can provide for the proper protection of «.the public health. I am not in favour of any of the amendments which have been suggested, because I think that the greater the powers of the Commonwealth for the protection of the public health the better. I hope that the Bill will pass as it is printed. Some years ago, when smallpox broke out in Launceston, the people of Hobart isolated the 20,000 inhabitants of that city, putting up barriers on every road, and even preventing the bakers’ carts from going to the quarantine station to take bread there. There was a panic’ in the southern city, and its citizens wished to injure those of Launceston. That is shown by the fact that, although there has been plague in Sydney on several occasions since, the Hobart people never tried to prevent vessels from coming from that port to Hobart. In a small community, one section will take action to injure another ; but under wider control such petty jealousy cannot have effect. I therefore hope the Bill will pass as printed, and that much good will be accomplished by its means. There has been too much diversity of opinion in the past as to what is proper quarantine. For instance, in Tasmania it was for years impossible to import a beast from Victoria unless it remained six months in quarantine, and cattle sent from Victoria to agricultural shows on the mainland could not return to their own pastures before undergoing a similar quarantine. By Federation we have adopted n. system of InterState free-trade, and, therefore, the. ‘Commonwealth should have full control of all quarantine matters, because many of the restrictions placed on movements of cattle and goods between State and State have simply meant protection. It is time that we removed the numerous borders and boundary lines which are at present recognised, and secured a wider and purer Federation. t Personally, I was in favour of ‘complete unification of the whole of Australia, and I have seen no reason to alter my opinion.
– The honorable member for Bass, and others who have spoken, seem to have a remarkable faith in the benefits likely to result from Commonwealth administration. Such a faith is simply touching, in view of our experience of some Commonwealth Departments. The Honorable member for Bass asks why we have federated if not to create centralization and uniformity ; and he contends that the combined wisdom of all Australia must, of course, be greater than that of any small locality. Quite so; but that same argument could be applied to the question of how the roads in Launceston should be metalled. Nobody will deny, however, that the metalling of the roads is a matter that can’ be much better decided by the people of the town. Some quarantine administration deals with matters of purely local concern. Why, then, bring to bear the whole machinery of the Commonwealth ? Why use a steam hammer to crack a nut? The only persons who are affected by, or have any interest in-, the spread of plant diseases from one State to another are those engaged in growing plants: the general community take an interest only in so far as they recognise that such diseases, damage the industries of the orchardists and others. Fruitgrowing districts are widely separated, and have greatly varied local conditions ; and the people of the localities have, of their own accord, imposed- all kinds of restrictions in order to prevent the spread of disease. The objection to Federal administration is not a fear that the latter will impose greater restrictions, but that it will not impose sufficient restrictions. It has been contended that the Commonwealth is more likely to act than the States ; but the contrary is the case. The small local todies might be induced to act, when the huge machinery of the Commonwealth Government could not be moved. The bigger the machinery, and the more numerous the Departments, the less efficient administration there will be.
– The bigger the machine, the more effective the result.
– But it is not necessary to have a portable steam-engine in order to draw a child’s go-cart; and, in any case, I question whether the huge Commonwealth machine would be the more effective. The best plan is to give the big work to the big machine - to reserve the Commonwealth machinery for oversea quarantine and quarantine as between State and State. Under no conceivable circumstances could the Commonwealth devise any better administration than can be found locally at the present time. All that the Commonwealth could do would be to ask the local inspectors or officers for advice. If that advice were not acted upon the Commonwealth administration would be shown to be less efficient than the local administration, and if it were acted upon, Commonwealth interference would be shown to be unnecessary. Honorable members talk in the most airy fashion about the necessity of our taking the widest possible powers. What is the good of those wide powers unless the intention is to interfere in local administration? We have all the reserve powers we want in the Constitution now, and no Act of Parliament can give us more. The only results of Commonwealth interference would be to create difficulty and disturbance where there is now harmony.
– And to remove the sense of responsibility from local people.
– That is an important point. At present the whole responsibility is thrown on the people, who have to be constantly moving the States Governments in order to secure complete protection. If that responsibility be removed, there will grow a general feeling that everything is in the hands of the Federal body ; and the tendency of that, of course, will be to encourage rather than to restrict the spread of disease. I should like to hear some practicable proposal. The district which I represent is largely interested in fruit-growing, and when any proposals are made for an alteration in the conditions of the industry I want to see some improvement as a possible result. If I do not see that a proposed change will be followed by improvement, but, on the contrary, may possibly lead to harm, it is my duty to voice the opinions of my constituents. We are here as the representatives of local men.
– Australia first.
– Yes, Australia first; but Australian prosperity is made up of the prosperity of the units. If the prosperity of any parts of Australia is injured by some Federal action, then, of course, Australia as a whole is injured. We have been told that the Commonwealth ought to take the widest possible powers, but ought not to exercise them. In my opinion it would be much better not to specify those powers in an Act of Parliament. I do not believe that it is possible for any statesman, however able, to devise regulations, especially in regard to diseases of plants and stock, so as to give the satisfaction that is now given by the administration of the local authorities. I intend to support the amendment.
– I should like to emphasize the remarks of the honorable member for Boothby, and to point out that for the Federal Parliament to take power to interfere in internal State administration of quarantine, is not to make for efficiency. This is not a matter of Federal or anti-Federal spirit. I believe in the Federal Parliament taking over to the widest extent the powers which we can the more efficiently administer. I need not even mention oversea quarantine, because that, together with Inter-State quarantine, we all admit, should be under Federal administration as the more efficient. It is necessary to have some supreme power to prevent a State so administering its quarantine laws as to practically impose a prohibitive Tariff, as has been done in certain instances in the past. But in regard to internal and local matters I am satisfied - and I may inform honorable members that I have had considerable experience in regard to the quarantining of stock - that the States can administer regulations much more effectively than can any central authority. Forthat reason I intend to assist those who propose to restrict the exercise of the Federal authority to Inter-State and oversea quarantine. To my mind, it is purely a question of securing expediency and efficiency. I had a considerable experience of the tick trouble in Queensland, and in that connexion obtained a very good knowledge of how the stock quarantine regulations are administered. My experience of those regulations, even when they were administered from a centre like Brisbane, and affected a distant portion of Queensland, was bad enough. But the difficulties which were’ then encountered would be intensified one hundred-fold if an attempt were made to administer similar regulations from a remote centre like Melbourne. It is in the interests of the whole community that the administration of such regulations should be in the hands of some authority as near to the different centres as possible. For that reason, I shall support every attempt which is made to confine Federal action to Inter-State and oversea quarantine. I trust that honorable members will regard the matter from that stand-point. It is not an anti-Federal matter, but simply one of securing the greatest possible efficiency, and of engendering the least possible friction between the States and the Federal authority.
Question - That the words “ into the Commonwealth “ proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question soresolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “Australian vessel” means a vessel which) does not voyage or ply to or from any place outside Australia : “ Authorized person “ means a person authorized by this Act or the regulations or by the Minister or a quarantine officer, to do the act in relation to which the expression is used : “ By authority “ means by the authority of the Minister, or of a quarantine officer, or of an officer under this Act doing duty in the matter in relation to which the expression is used : “ Disease “ in relation to animals, means glanders, farcy, pleuro-pneumonia, contagiosa, foot and mouth disease, rinderpest, anthrax, Texas or tick fever, hog cholera, swine plague, mange, scab, surra, dourine, rabies, tuberculosis, actinomycosis, variola ovina, or any disease declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be a disease affecting animals : “ Disease “ in relation to plants, means any disease or pest declared by the GovernorGeneral by proclamation to be a disease affecting plants : “Goods” includes all kinds of movable property : “ Master “ in relation to a vessel means the person (other than a pilot) in charge or command of the vessel : “ Medical Officer “ in relation to a vessel means any person on the vessel acting as the medical officer, doctor, or surgeon of the vessel : “ Officer “ means a quarantine officer or other officer appointed under this Act : “ Oversea vessel “ means any vessel other than an Australian vessel : “ Package “ includes every means by which plants are cased, covered, enclosed, contained, or packed for carriage : “ Plants “ means trees or plants and includes cuttings and slips or trees and plants and all live parts of trees or plants and fruit “Pratique,” in relation to a vessel, means a certificate of pratique granted by a quarantine officer since the last arrival of the vessel from places outside Australia, and having effect at the port or place where the vessel is for the time being, or is about to arrive : “ Quarantinable disease “ means small-pox, plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhus fever, or leprosy, or any disease declared by theGovernor-General, by proclamation, to be a quarantinable disease : “ Quarantine Officer “ means a quarantine officer appointed under this Act : “ Unauthorized person “ means a person not authorized by this Act or the regulations, or by the Minister or a quarantine officer, to do the act in relation to which the expression is used : “ Vessel “ means any ship, boat, or other description of vessel used in navigation.
.- It is very necessary that we should clearly set out in this clause that “officer” means a duly qualified medical man where diseases affecting human life are in question, and. a duly qualified veterinary surgeon where diseases affecting animals are concerned. This is not a matter which should be dealt with by regulation. It is quite impossible for ordinary Customs officers to deal effectively either with diseases affecting human life or with diseases affecting animals.
– What would the honorable member suggest should be done in cases where neither the services of a medical man nor a veterinary surgeon were available?
– Such cases, I presume, would be dealt with by the Customs officers.
– This provision is subject to regulations, and in some cases it would not be possible to obtain the services of qualified men.
– I wish it to be made perfectly clear that in all cases where it is possible to do so - at all the ports of entry into the Commonwealth - the services, of properly qualified men should be procured. In Victoria, from time to time, the Stock Department has been under the control of men who were not qualified veterinary surgeons, and in many cases the work has been done in such a manner as to permit of diseases spreading. Mistakes have bee’n made which would not -have been made by properly qualified veterinary surgeons.
– Stock inspectors in New South Wales have now to pass an examination in veterinary work.
– That is correct, but such an examination does not qualify them to act as veterinary surgeons. A chemist has a considerable knowledge of therapeutics, and an even greater knowledge of pharmacy, yet the possession of that knowledge does not qualify him to act as a medical practitioner. Under this measure, an ordinary Customs officer may be a quarantine officer.
– It is not intended to appoint an ordinary Customs officer to, inspect passengers on vessels arriving from oversea.
– Under the Bill, a quarantine officer will be charged with that work.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. That very question was dealt with in the report from the Secretary to the Attorney-General, which I read yesterday.
– That is true; but the fact that Mr. Garran has expressed certain views does not preclude us from discussing the advisableness of inserting in the Bill provisions that will make quite clear our intentions in this respect. I think that we should insert in the definition of “officer “ words showing that our intention -is that a quarantine officer shall be a duly qualified medical man.
– The honorable member does not suggest that we should have a duly qualified veterinary surgeon acting as an inspector of live stock at every port.
– In order that this measure may be properly administered, it is necessary that we should have at every port of entry a qualified medical man acting as quarantine officer and a qualified veterinary surgeon to inspect live stock. If the Act is not administered on those lines it must surely fail.
– Would any Minister attempt to carry it out on any other lines?
– I should think not.
– We have no officers qualified to examine plants ?
– I suppose not.
– And I presume that we should be in no worse position as regards the inspection of animals.
– But there is a vast difference between the inspection of plants for the detection of pests and the inspection of human beings for the preservation of the public health.
– We have any number of veterinary surgeons.
– Some people know more about stock than veterinary surgeons do.
– I do not know whether the honorable member’s experience of veterinary surgeons has been an unfortunate one, but he ought to recognise that a man who has spent years in qualifying himself to act as a veterinary surgeon must have a better knowledge of the diseases of stock than has a man who has simply been dealing with stock in a haphazard way. My contention is that our object should be to insure that the services under this measure shall be so well carried out that the rest of the world, will be able to point to them as the most up-to-date and satisfactory in existence. We are proposing to take to ourselves large powers in this respect, and unless we see that they are properly carried out, we are sure to have a very serious bungle.
– In the course’ of my speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I expressed the fear that one of the results of passing it as introduced would be the establishment of a huge Federal Department. . It seems to me that the honorable member for Corangamite is urging that we should have something of the kind. ‘ I hope that the Government will not agree to insert in this Bill a provision which would make it unworkable, or at all events would cause its administration to be most expensive.
– My proposal would not have that effect. There are only eight or ten ports of entry in Australia.
– If the desire of those who wish to see the quarantine regulations carried out effectively is to be attained, wemust not stop at ports of entry. We must have properly qualified officers, not only at our various ports, but in all large centres of population. Some honorable members think that the administration of this measure - which should be a very simple one to carry out - should be placed in the hands of officers now administering the quarantine laws of the States.
– They should be qualified men.
– It should be administered by those who are qualified. At all the large ports we have, as Health Inspectors, medical men who inspect passengers arriving on oversea vessels.
– Under whose control ?
– Under the control of the States.
– All that I want is to bring such officers under the control of the Federal Government.
– The fact that the Bill does not provide that a quarantine officer shall be a properly qualified medical man will not prevent the transfer of these officers under the regulations. It will be possible for the Federal Government to take over every officer who has been engaged in administering the quarantine laws of the States. On the other hand, if we inserted the provision which the honorable member has suggested, we should be able to engage only those who have undergone what is admittedly a long and very expensive course of training. In some parts of the Commonwealth, it would be impossible to obtain the services of such men, and we should have to obtain them from centres of population, and so incur considerableexpense. Experience has shown that we have at our disposal the means of coping with any sudden outbreak of diseases and it is not advisable that we should cause a feeling of unrest and further irritation on the part of the States by attempting to build up a huge department of quarantine, which would undoubtedly be one of the most expensive under Federal control.
– I hope that the honorable member for Corangamite will not press his proposal. Under the Bill as it stands, we shall have power to appoint such officers as are essential to its proper administration.
– By regulation?
– We shall have the power to make such appointments. The objection raised by the honorable member that ordinary Custom’s officers would be called upon to act as quarantine officers was also raised by Dr. Ashburton Thompson, who complained that -
The Bill proposes to leave administration in the hands of the Minister, assisted by the Customs staff, and does not propose to appoint any medical adviser.
The Secretary to the Attorney-General, in the report which I read yesterday, dealt with that-objection in the following terms -
This is a misapprehension. The Bill says nothing about the Customs staff, and the power to appoint quarantine officers covers all necessary appointments of the. different medical and other experts required for .the various purposes of the Bill. The administration is of course in the hands of the Minister; .but in its administration all the technical assistance that is required will of course be obtained.
It will thus be seen that it is wrong to imagine that in connexion with the Federal control of quarantine the Customs officers will be employed more largely than they are under the existing State laws. As to the inspection of live-stock, I would remind the honorable member that in New South Wales stock inspectors have to pass an examination to qualify for appointment. They are not veterinary surgeons, but the Government of New South Wales considers that men so appointed are competent to deal with all ordinary questions relating to diseases of live-stock. If they did not they would not appoint them.
– They have to pass an examination showing that they are qualified to deal with special diseases.
– That is so, and I believe that a similar practice prevails in some of the other States. If the amendment which the honorable member desires were inserted, we should require a new staff ; it would be necessary for us to have a staff of more highly paid men than we intend to obtain.
– I take it that all the honorable member for Corangamite desires is to insure that States quarantine officers will be made Federal officers for the purposes of this measure.
– No. The inspectors to whom 1 have referred are States officers, but they do not possess the qualifications which the honorable ‘member for Corangamite thinks such officers should have. That being so, from his point of view we ought not to take them over. .
– States officers who are not properly qualified should be superseded by others who are.
– Then the honorable member would disqualify all the officers now acting as inspectors of stock, who are not veterinary surgeons.
– Certainly, so far as the ports of entry are concerned.
– And what would be the position in regard to other places where their services are required?
– The ports of entry are the most important.
– They are not so far as stock is concerned. We have stock travelling from State to State. I can assure the honorable member that it is our intention to work in harmony with the States. It is possible, and perhaps probable, that although the Government propose to take the power to do certain things the States officers, if the States themselves desire it, may be allowed to continue to, and probably in a great many instances will, administer the quarantine law, although under the control of the Federation. In a great many cases there will be no disturbance. The position will be much the same as it is in connexion with the administration of the Commerce Act. We hear of no disturbance in connexion with that law. The machinery of the States is at present being used more particularly in so far as its application to internal matters is concerned, but the work is carried on under the control of the Commonwealth Government.
– It is not correct to say that no trouble has occurred under the Commerce Act.
– I have had no trouble in administering the Act.
– There has been a great deal of dissatisfaction.
– I have heard of no dissatisfaction except on the part of one or two who are working in their own interests, and not with a view to the public welfare. Let the honorable member ask Mr. Swinburne, the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, whether the Act is not working most admirably.
– I should rather out the question 10 shippers of produce.
– They are all very well satisfied; but it is unnecessary for me at this stage to detail the work carried on under the Commerce Act. The amendment suggested by the honorable member for Corangamite would greatly increase the expenditure under this measure. He may rest assured that the regulations under it will be so framed that we shall have a competent medical officer acting as health inspector at every port where there should be one.
– What about qualified veterinary surgeons as inspectors of stock?
– I cannot say that the inspectors of stock will all be qualified veterinary surgeons, but probably there will be some so qualified..
– We do not wish to discuss mere probabilities.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I am not going to agree to a proposal that the appointment of veterinary surgeons as inspectors of stock shall be compulsory. Probably we shall have such men acting as stock inspectors if it is thought necessary to secure their services. The honorable member must not imagine that we desire the Federal system of quarantine to be less effective than is that of the States. Our object is to secure improvements.
– The adoption of my suggestion would improve the system.
– In framing a measure of this kind we cannot lay down a hard-and-fast rule to apply to every case arising under it. If this measure is not properly carried out it will be for the Parliament to take action. Is it not the duty of the Parliament to see that the Ministry carries out in a proper way the work intrusted to it? Surely honorable members have faith in themselves? Surely they have sufficient confidence in the Parliament ?
– We may not be here when it is necessary to take action.
– Then others as well qualified as we are may hold seats in this House I hope that the honorable member will not press his proposal. He may rest assured that a serious attempt will be made by the Government to improve upon the existing system. I can say from experience that the system of inspection, as described yesterday by the honorable member for West Sydney, is not as efficient as it should be.
– That is in regard to oversea quarantine.
– That is so. If the appointment of a veterinary surgeon to act as inspector of stock at every port were made compulsory additional expense would be incurred, and I do not think any great improvement would be effected either on the sea-board or inland. Therefore the Government cannot accept such an amendment as has been suggested.
.- I am in accord with the views of the honorable member for Corangamite. The Bill defines a quarantine officer merely as a “quarantine officer appointed under this Act,” and does not say that he shall be qualified to perform the duties of such a position. The Minister has no right to “bullock” the measure through in this way. He has told the Committee that the acceptance of an amendment such as that suggested would make the Act expensive to work; but it must be expensive to work if duly qualified officers are appointed to the various ports. This is an example of the way in which Bills dealing with technical matters are brought forward by men who do not understand their subject-matter. It should be provided that the men appointed to act as quarantine officers shall have a knowledge of the duties which they will be required to perform ; that is to say, that they shall be qualified medical men. The measure cannot be satisfactorily administered by the Customs authorities. We have an instance of the way in which the Customs, authorities fail to protect the public health in the answergiven to the question which I asked this afternoon as to the number of persons suffering from pulmonary consumption excluded under the Immigration Restriction Acts.
– The only way to get over the difficulty is to have a Minister for
Public Health, and allow none but medical men to hold that portfolio.
– That, no doubt, will come about later, though if we continue to progress at our present rate I shall be mouldering in my grave before it happens. I object to the clause as it stands. It is right that those who administer the measure should have large powers ; but the omission to provide that quarantine officers shall be qualified medical men is due to a desire to avoid any reference to the establishment of an administrative staff, organization, and machinery, which must nevertheless be created. As the head of the Public Health Department of New South Wales has stated in a letter to me -
A Minister must have discretion and wide powers; but the Act should define the nature of the authority conferred upon him, its general features, and its limits. This is not done in the present case as regards organization.
I think that the Committee should agree to some such amendment as has been suggested by the honorable member for Corangamite. The Act will not be properly administered if qualified men are not appointed. I should like to know from the Attorney-General whether the word “goods” covers “ballast.” In the States difficulties have arisen because of a difference of opinion in regard to this matter. If ballast is not included in the word “ goods,” we may have material thrown on our’ shores containing the germs of malaria or other diseases.
– The word “goods “ covers all movable property. “ Mr. LIDDELL. - Is ballast movable property ?
– I think some such amendment as that suggested by the honorable member for Corangamite should be inserted. Clause 13 provides that -
The Governor-General may, by proclamation . . declare any ports in Australia to be ports where imported animals and plants may be landed.
I understood the honorable member for Corangamite to suggest that an amendment should be made providing that duly qualified medical men and veterinary surgeons shall be appointed and located at such ports. The honorable member says that probably there will be only about seven of them. Vessels should not be detained unnecessarily, and therefore such appointments are requisite. When disease is discovered at an inland place a duly qualified man can be sent to make an inspection, and to report.
– How long would it take to send an officer to Twofold Bay?
– At the present time, if disease breaks out within a State, a medical man has to be sent by the authorities to investigate it, as, for instance, one has been sent from Sydney to report upon a case of alleged plague in the electorate of Cowper. The Minister says that he desires not to be embarrassed, and that in all probability duly qualified men will be appointed, because such men are already holding positions as medical officers at the chief ports of the Commonwealth. I do not agree with those who suggest that the definition of “officers” should be amended. The words “ officer appointed under this Act “ will allow a duly qualified medical man to be appointed. If the Minister gives us his assurance that such men will be appointed, I think that the Committee may be content to accept it.
– I have done that. Mr. KNOX (Kooyong) [5.40].- The term “ health officer “ is not defined in the Bill. I understand that the intention is, not to create a great new Commonwealth Department, but to use the existing machinery of the States Health Departments. That being so, it seems to me necessary to define the term “ health officer.”
– Clause11 provides that the Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of any State to enable, the Commonwealth quarantine authorities and the States health authorities to act in aid of each other.
– I was going to suggest that the term “health officer” should be defined to mean the medical officer appointed to board vessels on arrival, and to examine passengers. If we are going to use the health officers of the States we should define the term “ health officer.”
– The term used in this measure is “State health authorities.” .
– Does that cover State health officers?
– Iam afraid that the honorable member for Kooyong is being misled. I understand that he desires to provide in the Bill lor a responsible officer charged with the administration of measures for the protection of public health. The Bill, as it stands, merely says that the Government may arrange with the authorities of the States for the carrying out of its objects by their health officers.
– Does not “ may “ mean “ shall “ ?
– Not in this case. We are beginning to discover the difficulties which arise when an attempt is made to incorporate in one the provisions of what should be three or four separate measures. This is a Quarantine Bill, a Public Health Bill, a Commerce Bill, and a Stock Bill, all in one. There will be the greatest difficulty in administering such a comprehensive measure as this. Perhaps the honorable member for Corangamite had better confine himself to . “ quarantine officer,” whom he could very well strictly define as a medical officer, or a veterinary surgeon, or of whatever qualification he desires. It is ‘ quite clear, however, that there is a broad distinction drawn in the Bill between the two kinds of officers. As already suggested, we shall need an army of officers on the borders of the States.
– The Acting Prime Minister says that the Customs officers are going to do the work.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I should say that many of the stock inspectors could do. the work.
– Hear, hear !
– They would have to do the work onthe borders.
– I think the stock inspectors might be found perfectly qualified ; but the trouble is at the ports, where we want all the medical skill that can be pressed into the service. It is quite clear that two kinds of officers are contemplated in the Bill. There are the general officers, who may, or may not, be quarantine officers.
– The general officer would be the quarantine officer, and a Customs officer may act.
– Then there is the “ other “ officer.
– The “ other “ officer is the one to be specially qualified.
– I think the honorable member might confine himself to the definition of “ quarantine officer. “
– Then there would have to be quarantine officers all through the States and on all- the borders, who would have to be thoroughly qualified men.
– Not at all. “ Officer “ is defined as “ quarantine officer, or other officer appointed under this Act.” Many of our stock inspectors in the larger States are almost, if not quite, as well qualified as certificated veterinary surgeons.
– If the honorable member says that he would say that all chemists are fit to be doctors.
– The stock inspectors have been specially trained for the purpose.
– I am amazed at the honorable member for Laanecoorie making such an admission.
– Having regard to the particular work they will be required to do, the stock inspectors are generally as well qualified as are certificated veterinary surgeons. At the ports, however, we require all the medical skill that can be pressed into the service.
– At the ports, it is not only necessary to have medical skill, but also veterinary and entomological skill.
– An “ army of officers!”
– There might be a medical officer, a veterinary surgeon, a fruit expert, and any official proved to be necessary. I do not care how severe . the Acting Prime Minister makes the requirements at the ports, but there must be some elasticity in the administration of the Bill on the borders of the States; and that elasticity will be there, if the honorable member for Corangamite confines himself to a strict definition of “ quarantine officer.” Indeed, the honorable member might go so far as to indicate the duties of the officer, and so forth.
.- I think the Treasurer scarcely sees the intent with which the honorable member for Corangamite spoke. What the honorable member for Corangamite desires is that any officer appointed shall be a competent person. To that the Acting Prime Minister retorts that any Government would take care to appoint a competent person. Of course, if the present Government, with their careful administration, remained in office, no doubt nothing would go wrong ; but, unfortunately, in course of time, the Opposition may cross the floor, and, by inadvertence, an officer might be appointed who was not a competent person.
– Would a Minister not be liable to Parliament if he appointedan incompetent person ?
– No doubt that would be so, as soon as the incompetence was discovered; but that would be locking the stable door after the horse had departed. Under clause 87,. there is power to make regulations, and I think the difficulty could be got over if an addition to that clause were made to the effect that it be a direction to the Minister, when appointing an? officer, to appoint a reasonably qualifier! man. As the- honorable member for Parramatta has said, there are a number of officers throughout the Commonwealth who are neither veterinary surgeons nor qualified medical men, but who are quite fit and proper persons for the work of inspection. If anything serious occurs, they telegraph or send to the nearestauthority, and an expert is sent to the spot. The Commonwealth desires to take this administration over as nearly as possible under existing conditions ; and I think that my suggestion “would remove any difficulty. While no Minister would wilfully appoint an incompetent person, still such a person might be appointed through inadvertence. .
– The presumably best qualified man might be the biggest muff.
– Quite so; though’ that does not often happen. I think my suggestion is a fair compromise, which might well be accepted.
.- We .appear to be straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. In Victoria there are some really good stock inspectors, and I apprehend that such is the fact in the other States. We have Dr. Norris in charge of the Health Department of Victoria now ; and why not make him, and the corresponding official in each of the other States, the officer in charge. I understand from the Acting Prime Minister that there is no intention to incur fresh expenditure, and, moreover, that there will be no proclamation, perhaps, for some time, bringing the Act into force. My object is to save expenditure; and that, I think, could be attained by the acceptance of my suggestion.
– There is power to carry out the honorable member’s idea under clause 12.
– Then why not’ say so here? It would be most unwise to unnecessarily create new appointments.
– - I have glanced rapidly through the Acts in force in the various States, and in not one can I find a definition such as is proposed by the honorable member for Corangamite.
– There is not a clause like this in any of the Acts.
– There is simply power under the States Acts to make regulations. In the New South Wales Act the definition of “officer” is simply “includes inspector,” and in the Victorian Act it is the same ; while in the Tasmanian Act there is no definition, but the simple provision that certain things shall be done under proclamation, order, or regulation made by the Governor in Council.
– Is that any reason why we should not have a definition?
– Why should we depart from the practice of the States in this respect?
– Are we to follow all the States Acts? - What does the Timbuctoo Act say?
– The States Acts are carrying out what we propose to carry, out under a combined measure.
– But we are supposed to make an improvement.
– I do not think the amendment would be an improvement ; and the elasticity should remain. » Mr. TILLEY BROWN (Indi) [5.56]. - Supposing plague, or some other dangerous disease, were introduced into the country from, oversea, who would attend to the matter? Certainly the officer in charge of the Health Department of the State.
– No doubt he would.
– I do not ask the Acting Prime Minister to alter his Bill, but to give us an assurance that, in the event pf its passing in its present shape, he will see whether the suggestion 1 have made, if acted upon, would be practicable. I am quite satisfied that the idea, if carried out, will avoid increased expenditure.
– That is what we intend to do if we can.
-57].- I think that under the Public Service Act the Commonwealth Government can obtain’ the services of any officer in the State, and I dc not know that we need name the officer in advance.
– Such an arrangement can be made under the Public Service Act.
– Yes. I think that the whole or part of the services of any officer of a State can be obtained on terms to be arranged between the Public Service Commissioner and the representatives of the States. It would be a mistake to provide in advance that the services of a particular officer must be availed of ; and I question whether we have the power to do so. If the officer we require is a quarantine officer his services, doubtless, could be availed of, but, if he were not, then all our efforts are futile.
Mr. SAMPSON (Wimmera [5.59].- I hope the Government will take a note of the discussion as to the appointment of thoroughly qualified officers. So far as 1 understand, it is not the intention to take over most of the administration now carried out by the various States, but only that administration relating to oversea quarantine.
– If an arrangement can be made. “Mr. SAMPSON. - In reference to internal inspection in Victoria, the men appointed have generally not been qualified men, and their services, so far as ray experience goes, have been almost valueless in the case of a stock epidemic in a particular district. When sent to inspect, they have known nothing about the disease; and’ this goes to show that, without the services of a properly qualified veterinary surgeon, the inspection is a waste of money.
– Do the inspectors pass any examination ? “Mr. SAMPSON.- No, there is no proper examination of” stock inspectors in any branch of science or pathology.. In fact, the chief stock inspectors in Victoria, for some considerable time, have not been qualified men. -According to my conception of the scope of the Bill, and in view of the assurance given bv the Minister, and of the memorandum prepared, I understand, by Mr. Garran, it is not the intention of the Government at this stage, or for some considerable time, to do more than take over the oversea quarantine operations.
– The honorable member must not mistake me. It depends entirely upon circumstances.
– My statement is based upon the first paragraph of the memorandum relating to the Bill, which was prepared by Mr. Garran. It reads -
The Bill does not empower the Government to take over the management of epidemic diseases-
– Order. Do I understand that the honorable member is about to enter into a discussion upon the general principles of the Bill ? He cannot do that now.
– I merely wish to point out that it is the intention of the Government to take unto themselves very limited powers in connexion with this Bill.
– The honorable member must not follow that line of argument.
– Then I will say that the measure will not involve much additional expenditure, because very few fresh appointments will be necessary. But I wish to emphasize the contention that veterinary surgeons must be appointed at all the ports of entry in order that diseases which may be communicated inland, may be followed up by properly qualified men. The chief object of the Bill is to enable the Commonwealth to quarantine certain areas within the States - not to undertake the administrative actions which are now performed by the States. The desire is that the Federation shall be able to quarantine certain areas in case of an epidemic occurring within the boundaries of any State. That being the case, we require the services of duly qualified men, who will be competent to report upon those epidemics. Probably for some time to come it will not be necessary to appoint more than a few additional officers, but it is imperative that they shall be duly qualified men, seeing that their duties will not only involve the quarantining of specified areas, but service in a professional capacity at the ports of entry. In other words, they will require to be possessed of the qualifications necessary to fit them to undertake the general administration of the law of the Commonwealth.
– I understand that the honorable member for Corangamite has proposed that provision should be made in this clause for the appointment of medical officers to investigate diseases affecting human life, and of veterinary surgeons to report upon diseases of animals. I think that his proposal would add greatly to the expense of administering the Act, and, personally, I do not see any necessity for it. I cannot conceive that in a well-equipped Quarantine Department such asI hope will be established in every State, there will not be one expert medical officer and one veterinary surgeon whose services will be available whenrequired.
– Where is provision made for that in the Bill?
– I am sorry that I am at variance with the honorable member upon this point, because I believe in the nationalization of medicine, although I do not wish to secure my end by a side wind.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the honorable member for Corangamite is in favour of nationalizing medicine?
– Wisdom comes to some people even late in life, and I am sure that upon that question wisdom will come to the honorable member some day. Perhaps it may be information to honorable members to learn that the keenest country so far as quarantine matters are concerned, whose methods I have had an opportunity of investigating, is the United States.
An Honorable Member. - What about Switzerland ?
– Switzerland has not a navy, and therefore does not afford an example similar to that which I am about to give. The United States Government does not depend entirely upon its health officers, although it has perhaps one of the finest staffs of health officers in the world stationed at the Philippines. But it makes every port in Australia provide a bill of health vised by the American Consul. Unless these bills of health are vised by the consuls, and unless they set out the number of certain diseases which have occurred during the previous month or six weeks, no ship concerned is allowed to enter port without first undergoing a period of quarantine. The same regulation is adopted in regard to ships coming from China and Japan. Perhaps honorable members will wonder why ships are so anxious to visit the Philippines, but as a matter of fact, the sum of £100 is given to every vessel that will visit a certain port there. I shall support the Government, because I feel sure that the head of the Quarantine Department will never send an officer to report upon any outbreak of disease who is not qualified to express an opinion upon it.
– Does not the same remark apply to other Departments?
– That is my opinion, and I have been a ship’s officer no less than six times, besides having had a considerable experience of Australian ports. The honorable member for Corangamite probably knows that when professional men have had control, diseases have been planted in innocent people, which would not have been so planted had the laity had control.
– That is an argument against the employment of medical men generally.
– No. It is an argument against medical control if the civil power be not dominant.
.- I maintain that some provision ought to be made in this clause for the appointment of a medical staff. Otherwise, who is to advise the Minister charged with the administration of the Act in the first instance ?
– He will probably consult the head of the State Board of Health.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [6.10].- I wish to call attention to another point connected with this clause. I desire to know the real meaning of the term “ quarantinable disease”? The clause defines it thus - “ Quarantinable disease “ means small-pox, plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhus fever, or leprosy, or any disease declared by the Governor- General, by proclamation, to be a quarantinable disease.
The word “disease” is defined in two places as follows: - “ Disease “ in relation to animals, means glanders, farcy, pleuro-pneumonia contagiosa, foot and mouth disease, rinderpest, anthrax, Texas or tick fever, hog cholera, swine plague, mange, scab, surra, dourine, rabies, tuberculosis, actinomycosis, variola ovina, or any disease declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be a disease affecting animals ; “ Disease “ in relation to plants, means any disease or pest declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be a disease affecting plants.
I have shown that under the head of quarantinable disease “ is included any disease declared by the Governor-General to be a “ quarantinable disease.” It is very necessary to have a clear understanding as to the meaning of this term, because it occurs in so many portions of the Bill, notably in clauses 17 and 18. If my reading of the measure be correct, the goods referred to in paragraph b of sub-clause 2 of clause 18, would require to be infected with some disease which would be ejusdem generis with those which are specifically mentioned under the head,ing of “quarantinable disease.” I think it is desirable that I should call attention to this matter.
– 1 promise the honorable member that I will look, into it.
.- In advocating the appointment of medical officers to investigate and report upon diseases under this Bill, I am supported by the very highest authorities. I have no desire to increase the expenditure which will be incurred under the measure beyond that which is absolutely necessary. At the same time, I wish to make the Bill a thoroughly efficient One. That result can only be assured by insisting that at every port of entry into the Commonwealth there shall be a duly qualified medical man to investigate diseases affecting human life, and a qualified veterinary surgeon to deal with diseases affecting animal life. At present these matters are dealt with bv the States. Under the Bill they will still be administered by the State officials, because I apprehend that the officers at present charged with their administration will act in this regard, as Federal officers. But if any State has hitherto neglected to employ the services of a properly qualified officer in this connexion, the Government should see that such an officer is appointed.
– Can we lay that down in the Bill?
– Certainly. We can embody any provision that we choose in it. Our aim is to benefit the whole of the people. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has supported those who declare that stock inspectors under the States laws are properly qualified to administer the provisions of this measure in relation to the inspection of live stock.
– I did not say that they were.
– The honorable member interjected whilst the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking that stock inspectors had passed a certain examination. Honorable members must be aware that the examination is a very perfunctory one.
– It ls not so in New South Wales.
– I am prepared to assert that no man can become a properly qualified medical officer unless he has gone through a course of training extending over five years, and has passed all the prescribed examinations. Such men alone are fit to administer the provisions of an Act relating to the preservation of human life. I repeat also that we should have veterinary surgeons to act as inspectors of stock. The honorable member for Laanecoorie, who supported the statement that stock inspectors were qualified to deal with the inspection of animals under this measure might just as well say that a chemist who has been making up prescriptions four or five years should be allowed to practice as a medical man. If we desire to make this measure effective, we must have properly qualified medical officers at certain ports, and I therefore move -
That after the words “ quarantine officer,” third occurring, the words “specially qualified” be inserted.
If that amendment be made, it will be a direction to the Minister that properly qualified officers shall be appointed to administer the Act at all ports of entry. The honorable member for Parramatta has said that the definition of “ quarantine officer “ is sufficient to carry out the object I’ have in view. A quarantine officer, how ever, might be an ordinary Customs officer.
– Under the honorable member’s amendment, we should provide that “officer” means a quarantine officer “specially qualified” or “other officer” specially unqualified.
– Not at all. If necessary, the words “other officer” could be struck out of the definition.
– Why not propose that we shall have a specially qualified officer “where available”?
– In order to secure effective administration, we must have properly qualified officers wherever necessary. In answer to the honorable member for Parramatta, I would point out that quarantine officers on the States borders may be ordinary Customs officers.
– My suggestion was that the honorable member should take steps to insure that a “quarantine officer” shall be a specially qualified medical officer, leaving the word “ officer “ to cover all others to be appointed under this measure. Evidently the honorable member wishes to shut out the other officers.
– That is not so. The Minister would have power to appoint Customs officers as quarantine officers at different points, and these, under my proposal, would have to report to medical men acting as health officers ; to veterinary surgeons acting as inspectors of live stock, and to entomologists appointed to deal with the introduction of plant life. Under the Bill, the Minister has power to declare certain ports of entry for animals and plants.
– What should we do in the case of a State having a coastline two or three thousand miles long?
– All plant life and live stock intended to be introduced into that State from oversea would have to be sent to the “port of entry.” There might, however, be two or three ports of entry in a State, and I hold that it is. absolutely necessary that we should have at the ports of entry for plants and animals properly qualified veterinary surgeons and entomologists. My only desire is that the Bill shall be as near perfection as possible, and I have high authority for the suggestions I have made.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite commenced by saying that the Committee seemed to be at sixes and sevens in regard to his proposal. If there is any misconception the honorable member is responsible for it. The proposition which he originally submitted was that in the definition of the term “quarantine officer “ we should insert words providing that such an officer should be a medical man, or that every quarantine officer should be specially qualified.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member at the time had no amendment ready to submit, or, if he had, he was not prepared to yield to the request made again and again to him that he should read it.
– The honorable member is again in error. I moved my amendment as soon as I had an opportunity to do so.
– After his original proposition had been discussed at great length, the honorable member came forward with an amendment which gave it an entirely different complexion. Ishould like to say at this stage that he has attributed to me two statements which I did not make. He said, in the first place, that I had declared that stock inspectors under the States laws were better qualified than veterinary surgeons to administer this measure. I did not do so. By way of interjection, when the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking, I said that some stock inspectors were better qualified than veterinary surgeons for dealing with diseases in stock. I repeat that assertion. I know of stock inspectors who are more capable than are very many properly qualified men to deal with some of the diseases peculiar to stock - diseases which some qualified men have never had an opportunity to see.
– Then the honorable member believes in the old-fashioned cowdoctor.
– No. I am referring to men who have availed themselves of exceptional opportunities to deal with diseases peculiar to live stock. The honorable member also attributed to me a statement that all stock inspectors had to pass an examination. I made no such assertion. I simply inquired whether stock inspectors in Victoria had to pass an examination, and learned, much to my astonishment, that they had not. As to the amendment moved by the honorable member, I think that, like another that has been proposed, it is immaterial whether it be accepted or rejected. Under the clause as it stands, the Minister will have power to appoint specially qualified men as quarantine officers, and I am sure that he will do so where practicable. In the circumstances, therefore, I do not think that the amendment should be pressed. It would .not be mandatory j it would not compel the Minister to do that which the honorable member desires. Even if it were agreed to there would still be power to appoint as a quarantine officer either a qualified medical man or any other person.
– But under my proposal, the Minister would not be required to appoint specially qualified medical men in out-of-the-way places.
– If the honorable member wishes to provide that only specially qualified men shall be appointed as quarantine officers he should propose the omission of the words “ or other officer “ from the definition of “officer.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
.- While I sympathize with the desire of the honorable .member for Corangamite that at all declared ports of entry qualified medical practitioners shall be appointed to examine passengers who desire to land, with a view to ascertaining whether they should be quarantined, I do not think that his amendment should be made at this stage, though I regard it as another evidence of the fact that the Bill has not been well drafted that such a provision is not already contained in it. Throughout the measure, the officers who will be called upon to administer it are grouped together. But the word “ officers “ means more than the officers who will be called upon to do the work of inspection to which I refer. Whether it is, or is not, needful to incorporate in the measure a direction to the Government that only duly qualified medical practitioners shall be appointed to examine ships’ passengers and crews, I do not think it necessary to provide for the appointment of stock inspectors at ports of entry to visit ships. All stock imported into Australia under this measure will, I take it, be landed under practically the same conditions which now apply to the landing of stock under State Acts. Bitter experience has taught the authorities of the States that diseases of stock can be excluded only by detaining for observation, for long periods, all imported stock. That being so, the appointment of veterinary surgeons as stock inspectors to board ships at the port of entry should not be necessary. But the impression has got abroad that the ports of entry for stock will not include all the capitals of Australia. I hope that that will not be so. As I read the measure, the Government is empowered to declare certain ports to be ports of entry for animals, and I urge upon the Minister the advisability of proclaiming as “ declared ports “ those which are now recognised by the authorities of the States as ports at which stock can be landed and quarantined. Imported stock is usually stud stock of great value, whose owners desire to inspect it from time to time, to see how it is getting on ; and a Ministerial statement as to the policy of the Government in this regard would go a long way towards removing what I believe to be a misapprehension as to what is intended.
.- As I find that this clause is not the best in which to insert my amendment, I ask leave to withdraw it. I intend to move a similar amendment in clause 9.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- With regard to what has bee said as to ports of entry, I would remind the Minister that health officers sometimes direct that the passengers and crew of a vessel shall, for the purpose of being quarantined, proceed to another port than that first entered. For instance, at Newcastle, there might not be sufficient quarantine accommodation for the passengers and crew of an infected vessel, and the ship might be ordered to proceed to Sydney. But difficulty would arise if her charter party provided that she must call at the port of Newcastle, and no other, or if her policy of insurance contained a similar provision.
– Will not these matters be subject to quarantine regulations ?
– Quarantine regulations cannot override a charter party or an insurance policy. Consequently the Minister will have to make (provision for quarantine at all declared ports of entry.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
The Governor-General may appoint quarantine officers and other officers for carrying out this Act.
.- I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Other officers at the ports of entry shall include a legally qualified medical practitioner and a legally qualified veterinary surgeon.”
Clause 50 provides that no person shall land imported animals or plants at any port or place in Australia except a port declared by proclamation to be a port where imported animals or plants may be landed. The Bill creates ports of entry which are to be proclaimed subsequently. It will be at these ports only that imported animals and plants may be landed, and it will be necessary to have at each such port a man specially trained fpr the detection of diseases in animals. All that the Minister will have to do will be to reappoint State officials who are already acting, or, if they are not properly qualified, other men possessing the necessary qualifications. Unless these appointments are made, the Bill will not be as effective as are the Acts of the States. At the present time, there is at every port of entry in the Commonwealth a legally qualified medical practitioner who acts as Health Officer, and I go only a little further in proposing that a legally qualified veterinary surgeon shall also be appointed for each port of entry for animals.
– Why not an entomologist also?
– In Western Australia animals will have to be landed perhaps a thousand miles from the place for which they are destined.
– The only practical way to prevent the introduction of diseases affecting stock is to prohibit the landing of animals at any but declared ports of entry.
– We do not know which are to be declared ports of entry. If thev are to be numerous, the honorable member’s amendment will create an army of Commonwealth officials. His proposal seems to afford a reason why the ports of entry should be provided for in the Bill.
-At the present time, in New South Wales, the only port of entry for animals is Sydney, and in Victoria, Melbourne. My amendment merely requires that properly qualified veterinary surgeons shall be appointed to inspect imported stock landed at the declared ports of entry.
– Surely this is a matter of administration.
– I wish to give the Minister specific directions on the subject. If left to himself, he may appoint men who are not qualified.
– A Minister is not likely to do that.
– According to the honorable member,’ a man who has qualified as a stock inspector under the New South Wales Act is as good as a qualified veterinary surgeon.
– In some respects he is. better, because he has passed a theoretical examination after a life-long experience irb connexion with stock.
– The honorable member believes that the old-fashioned cow doctor is good enough for the treatment of animals. No doubt he thinks that a man who hasserved an apprenticeship to a chemist, and has sold a few pills and cough lozenges, is capable of carrying out the duties of a legally qualified medical man. That is a low view to take of the profession. I hope that the honorable member is in a very considerable minority in the Committee.
– There- is an officerin Tasmania, Mr. Tabart, whose certificatewould be taken before that of nine-tenths, of the veterinary surgeons.
– I am sorry to hear theMinister, who is likely to be responsible for the administration of the Bill, suggesting that unqualified men should be employed in relation to the diseases of animals or human beings ; and his utterance only emphasizes the necessity for theamendment. An honorable member has. pointed out to me that all small municipal councils insist on having legally qualified men as medical officers of health. The amendment provides nothing more than a direction to the Minister to do what innine cases out of ten he would do ; and the only object is to see that the Act is efficiently administered.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Corangamite is justified in pressing this amendment. The Minister has promised to see that duly qualified men are stationed at the places where stock are likely to be admitted from abroad.
– Is that a binding promise on the part of the Minister?
– The Minister has made the promise, and he is responsible for the administration of the Act.’ A lot of fight is taken out of a no-confidence motion if a Minister is able to fall back on an Act in which he is directed what to do. The whole of the administration as now carried on may, under clause 11, be taken over by the Commonwealth, and we have the Minister’s assurance as to the employment of qualified men.
– I am inclined to think that this is a matter for Executive responsibility ; but I should like the Minister to correct a misapprehension “which may have been caused by his interjection a few moments ago, when he told us, what was no doubt perfectly correct, that a certain official in Tasmania was more qualified than many veterinary surgeons.
– I said that his certificate would be taken before that of many qualified men.
– I am quite ready to concede that, but I think misapprehension may have been caused, certainly in the mind of the honorable member for Corangamite, that the Minister intends to give preference to officials who are not veterinary surgeons. I am certain that the Minister would not do anything of the kind.
– Certainly not.
– I did not rise to flog a dead horse ; and I think the amendment is already perfectly dead. What makes the amendment of the honorable member for Corangamite so entirely inopportune, if nothing worse, is the fact that we do not know what “declared” ports of entry are to be established under clause 50 ; and I suggest that the Minister should take an early opportunity to inform honorable members on the point, because, otherwise, we shall not know what we are doing in regard to the administration of the Act.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 32
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
The Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of any State in respect of all or any of the following matters : -
Any matters necessary or convenient to be arranged in order to enable the Commonwealth quarantine authorities and the State health authorities to act in aid of each other in preventing the introduction or spread of diseases affecting man, animals, or plants.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word” health,” line 7, the words “ or other “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
The Governor-General may, by proclamation -
appoint places on land or sea to be quarantine stations for the performance of quarantine by vessels, persons, goods, animals, or plants; (d) prohibit the introduction into Australia of any noxious insect, or any pest, or any disease germ or microbe, or any disease agent, or any culture virus or substance containing any disease germ, microbe, or disease agent ;
prohibit the importation into Australia of any articles likely, in his opinion, to introduce any infectious or contagious disease ;
prohibit the importation into Australia of any animals or plants, or any parts of -animals or plants ;
prohibit the removal of any animals, plants, or goods, or parts of animals or plants, from any State or part of the Commonwealth in which any quarantinable disease, or disease affecting animals or plants, exists, to any State or part of the Commonwealth in which the disease does not exist ;
declare any part of the Commonwealth’ or of a State in which any quarantinable disease or any disease or pest affecting animals or plants exists to be a quarantine area; or
declare that any persons, animals, plants, or goods in any quarantine area, or in any State or part of the Commonwealth in which any quarantinable disease, or any disease or pest affecting plants or animals, exists, shall be subject to quarantine.
The power of prohibition under this section shall extend to authorize prohibition generally or with limitations as to place and subject matter, and either absolutely or subject to any specified conditions or restrictions.
.- On paragraph c I propose to raise the question of whether or not plants should be subjected to a general quarantine or merely to a limited quarantine. I had given notice of an amendment, which, if carried, would have had the effect of exempting goods as well as plants from general quarantine, but after hearing the arguments advanced last evening by members of the medical profession, particularly by the honorable member for Laanecoorie and the honorable member for. Corangamite, I decided not to press that portion of my proposal, because I can easily conceive that it might be just as necessary for the Federal quarantine authorities to pursue goods the property of passengers as to pursue the passengers themselves. The personal effects of a passenger might contain quarantinable diseases, and therefore they ought to be subjected to the general control of the Federal authorities. For . this reason, I intend to confine my amendment to the exemption of plants from general quarantine, and accordingly I move-
That in paragraphc the words “or plants” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words “ and appoint places at the ports at which, imported plants are first landed to be quarantine stations for such plants.”
In regard to plants, I propose to limit the Federal quarantine authority to the first inspection at the port of landing.
– Would not the honorable member’s amendment have the effect of limiting the quarantine of animals ?
– No; that is preserved by preceding words. Full control is thus given to the Federal authority in matters of quarantine over persons or animals on land as well as on sea. The amendment, if accepted, will limit the quarantine of plants to the first port of landing. If the Federal authorities certify that plants are clean, the latter will be free to proceed to their destination, and will remain finally and completely under the control of the State authorities.
– Might not “ goods “ be held to include plants ?
– No. We must discriminate between “ goods “ and “ plants.”
– Plants are specially mentioned in another portion of the clause.
– Plants are merely a class of goods, and this is the proper place to discriminate between them.
– I agree with the principle which the honorable member is advocating.
– If honorable members agree with the principle we may well leave the Minister to clear up matters of interpretation in another portion of the Bill. With reference to plant life, I think that some differentiation may be justified upon the ground that there is a greater possibility of the spread of infection from human and animal life than there is from plant life. In addition, I think that there is not the same demand for Federal intervention in the case of plants that exists in reference to persons and animals.
– Does the honorable member think that the word “ plants “ in his amendment will cover the product of plants such as fruit?
– Certainly. All Vegetation Diseases Acts declare that plants include fruit. However, it is undesirable to enter into too many definitions in this portion of the Bill. With reference to plants and vegetation products, I would point out that at the present time the laws of the various States are very complete and scientific. They are also very effective in their operation. I do not think there is any State in the world where the Government have a more scientific and uptodate system of inspection and regulation of vegetation diseases than obtains in Victoria. A similar scientific and up-to-date system exists in Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland. In fact, all the States are up-to-date in their legislative efforts to suppress these diseases, and I believe that of late they have been fairly successful. Of course, it may be that in years gone by they were not so enterprising and so prompt as they are now. But all of them have established active, vigorous Departments of Agriculture, and I think they may fairly be intrusted with the administration of these laws, and with the task of developing, improving, and supervising means of controlling anything in the nature of local outbreaks in plant and vegetable life. In regard to plant life, the difference in climatic conditions and latitude has necessarily involved a variety in the legal system. There is not a legal uniform system for the .regulation and suppression of vegetation diseases, such as obtains in regard to animal life. But in each of the States there is a well-organized ‘Department, backed up by a good legislative system for this purpose, so that there is no cause for the intervention of the Federal authority, in matters of internal supervision in regard to plants and vegetable life.
Mr. -Sampson. - Might there not be later on ?
– There might. But in the meantime, carrying out the principle which I affirmed last night, I shall not be a party to interfering with State functions without good cause. I think that honorable members may be once more reminded of the dictum of Chief Justice Marshall in reference to quarantine matters. He said that every effort should be made to secure harmony and conciliation between the Federal and State authorities, and that the former should not, without reasonable cause, interfere in matters which were local and provincial as distinguished from matters which were of national or general concern. I believe also that there is a feeling of uneasiness amongst some of the States that the power of quarantine embodied in this Bill, if applied to orchards and vegetable plantations, might be made an instrument to harass, if not to oppress, our orchardists. They fear that orchards may be unnecessarily quarantined, and that the recommendations of the local officers may be disregarded by the Federal authorities, who may not understand the local requirements of the industry. Consequently, I think, first upon the ground that no strong case has been made out for the inclusion of plants, and, sec ondly, because in this matter we may fairly make a concession to State susceptibilities, that the Committee, without any surrender of power or anything savouring of self-, abnegation or of an abandonment of trust, may fairly leave plant life to the supervision and’ protection of the State authorities when once it has run the gauntlet of Federal inspection at the port of entry. This would still give the Federal Government unqualified powers of supervision and inspection up to a certain point, leaving the subsequent movements of the plants under the control of the States authorities.
– I understand that the object of the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is to prevent the Federal authorities from dealing with plants passing between the States or within the States, and’ to make the Commonwealth inspection applicable only to plants from oversea.
– That is so.
– I regret that at present, at all events, I cannot see my way to agree to that proposal. We do not intend immediately to put into operation any power that we may take under this clause. I shall presently move an amendment which will clearly show the object that we have in view.
– Why not indicate it at once?
– I shall do so presently. It will be possible to leave many of these matters to the States, but we should have power to step in, and take action where there is any abuse of the quarantine powers of a State, or an undue restriction of interchanges between one State and another. With that object in view, I intend to move later on that the following words be inserted at the end of the clause -
The powers conferred on the Governor-General by this section in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs [g), (A), and (0 of sub-section (i) shall, so far as they relate to animals or plants or any disease or pest affecting animals or plants, as regards a State or part of a State, only be exercised in cases where the Governor-General .is satisfied that the exercise of those powers is necessary for the purpose of preventing the spread of a disease or pest affecting animals or plants beyond the boundaries of that State.
– I should like to know whether the Minister will be in order in moving an amendment, which is really a summary of one of which notice has already been given by the honorable member for Brisbane?
– The amendment I have indicated was drafted before that, of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Brisbane, was circulated.
– I am rather doubtful of the wisdom of accepting the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo ; since we have not amended clause 4, but propose, to a large extent, to trust the Administration, especially as the Ministry have adopted the excellent suggestion made by the honorable member for Brisbane.
– The Government give the honorable member no credit for it.
– He has, at all events, the credit of a big inspiration, and of its having operated successfully upon the Minister. It would be a pity to. interfere with the uniform administration of the Bill by providing that the control of the States over the introduction of fruit pests by land shall be retained, but shall be abandoned in respect of the possible introduction of those pests by sea. Such pests might be introduced by sea, not from parts beyond the Commonwealth, but from one part of Australia to another. That, at all events, is my reading of the amendment.
– I used the word “ imported.”
– In some of the States Acts there is power to declare places beyond the sea as infected places for the purpose of putting into force the fruit pest laws against importations from such countries. We have not taken that power under this Bill. Under- clause 12, to which we have just agreed, the power of the Governor-General by proclamation to declare places beyond the sea infected with a quarantinable disease does not apply to plants. If I am not mistaken, however, under the South Australian Act of 188=;, such a power exists. It would be rather dangerous to confine the operation of the States laws to the introduction of disease by land from State to State. We have really abrogated, part of the power to deal with imports from abroad, which is given by the States Acts, and have not put in this Bill sufficient provision to take its place. In this way great danger might arise. If we agree, as proposed by the honorable member for Bendigo, to confine the operation of the States Acts to the introduction of disease from State to State, then we surely ought to take as ample powers under this Bill as exists under the States Acts to prevent the introduction of plant or fruit pests by imports from oversea. If we do take over the power of controlling the introduction of plant pests from oversea, we ought to be as thorough as are the States. The South Australian Act of 1885, to which I have referred, does not deal with quarantine, but with the introduction of fruit pests, and it is a very ample and exhaustive measure. I hope that in the circumstances we shall hesitate before we split up between the States and the Federation powers in relation to’ the introduction of plant and fruit diseases.
– Would not the effective local provisions of the States Acts still operate?
– I do not think so.. The clause provides that there shall be a general power of proclamation, and this will not be affected by the amendment fore-: shadowed by the Treasurer. There will be a general power to put in force all the subclauses of clause 13, and we do not know what the proclamations will substitute for the State laws. I think that we should exercise a little caution before we -decide to vote for the amendment.
– I hope that the honorable member for Bendigo will accept the proposal foreshadowed by the Minister, since it will go even further than he proposes. I join with the honorable member in expressing the hope that we shall ‘ do everything possible to maintain friendly (relations between the Commonwealth and the States. The honorable member for Brisbane is entitled to our thanks for having brought this matter so prominently before us. By limiting the power of the Commonwealth, we might seriously cripple out capacity to make what might be in the future a desirable effort. We must realize that the States, acting as thev undoubtedly do at certain times in antagonism to each other, will look to the Federal authority as a sort of arbiter, and will be verv glad indeed to see the Minister who is administering this measure taking steps to prevent that irritation which in the past has been so disastrous to the States concerned. The effect of the amendment moved bv the honorable member for Bendigo would be to seriously limit the authority of the Federal Government, and it might operate in a way contrary to that which he desires. Many people are engaged in the fruit-growing industry in Aus- tralia, and are watching very carefully all importations of fruit and plants, not only from abroad, but from one State into another. We know that from time to time they move their States Governments to pass regulations, which, in the main, are intended undoubtedly for the protection and preservation of their orchards, but which, in some cases, the unbiased observer must admit, have tended to prohibit the introduction of the products of orchards from other States. That is a procedure which the Federal authority could not possibly countenance. We desire that trade and commerce between the States shall be unhampered.
– There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the sort of thing to which the honorable member has referred.
– I am afraid that there is not.
– I have another amendment to propose.
– If the Minister’s proposal is adopted, and we find that the States, as some of them have done, are unfairly using their quarantine powers to prevent trade and commerce being freely carried on between the different parts of the Commonwealth, then the Federal authority will prevail.
– The Government have power to take action in such cases quite apart from the provisions of this Bill, and they are already exercising that power.
-If a State were unfairly exercising its quarantine laws with the object I have mentioned, a proclamation would be issued which would repeal the State regulations. As the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister would also apply to live stock passing between the States, I think that the honorable member for Bendigo should be satisfied, and should not press his amendment.
– The explanation of the amendment which the honorable member for Bendigo has given to the Committee shows very clearly that he wishes to restrict the operation of this Bill. The announcement made by the Minister that he proposes that the Federal Government should have in reserve the power to step in when the States do not properly administer their quarantine laws-
– We can do that only by special proclamation.
– By the issue of that proclamation we should exercise our powers to the fullest extent, and I think, ‘ therefore, that the Ministerial proposal is preferable to that made by the honorable member for Bendigo.
.- The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is a good one. As I said, this afternoon, when speaking 00* another clause, I think that it will be well to exclude plants from the scope of the Bill, except so far as their importation from oversea is concerned. Except in regard to foreign importations, the authorities of the States, may well be allowed to make such laws as they think necessary for the prevention of the spread of diseases affecting vegetation. None of the States has asked that the Commonwealth shall take power to deal with diseases of plants, except so far as their importation from abroad is concerned. The States are now doing all that can be done for the prevention of the spread within Australia of diseases affecting vegetation. The fact that one State may unreasonably restrict the importation of fruit from another does not touch the issue. Take the case of Western Australia, for instance.
– In that case inspection dues were charged which had the effect of preventing importation.
– The inspection dues were so heavy as to operate as an additional Customs duty. But as soon as the Commonwealth requested the State to do away with those dues, the request was complied with.
– There were two or three communications on the subject.
– At any rate, the Commonwealth gained its end.
– Should not the Commonwealth have more than the power to request ?
– Had Western Australia not acceded to the request of the Commonwealth, she could have been compelled to do so. This Bill is not needed to give the Commonwealth power to enforce such a request.
– What is the objection to the application of its provisions to plants ?
– In the first place, the inclusion of plants is unnecessary, and, in the’ second place, its constitutionality is doubtful, and the High Court may rule that we have exceeded our powers in providing for it.
– Then the provision will be of no effect.
– There is no reason why we should incur the possibility of such a snub.
-Does Tasmania exclude plants?
– She excludes potatoes sent from New Zealand, because they are blighty. She is wise in doing that.
– Not long ago the. State authorities would not allow a certain plant to belanded at Launceston.
– Imported plants must be fumigated before being landed.
– If plants are excluded from the operation of the Bill, the local authorities of a State will be quite able to protect their people, as they do now, from plant and vegetable diseases likely to come from another State.. It is not a wise course to pass legislation that is not needed. If the measure proves to be a good one, as I think it will should plants be excluded from its scope, the States may some day ask the Commonwealth to assume control of vegetation diseases. Until then, and under present circumstances, it is not wise to apply this legislation to plants.
– The Minister having stolen the clothes of the honorable member for Brisbane, it seems to me that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is not needed. I should like to put before the Committee some reasons why it is desirable that the word “goods” should be retained. From time to time representatives of the Continental Powers have met in Convention to determine how their territories can best be safeguarded from the introduction of infectious diseases, and regulations, known as the Internationa.] Sanitary Regulations, have been drawn up. Clause lxii. of these declares that -
Cargo will for the future be divided into three classes.
The following shall belong to the 1st class, and be subjected to an obligatory quarantine and to purifying processes, viz., old clothes and articles in common use, rags and waste paper, leather and skins, feathers, hair, and in general any parts of animals ; and lastly, wool and silk stuffs.
The following shall belong to the 2nd class, and be liable to perform quarantine, viz., cotton, flax, and hemp.
In Austria, goods are divided into four classes - “much suspected,” “suspected,” “little suspected,” and “not suspected.” The “ much suspected “ goods comprise -
The retention of “the word “goods” is necessary, so that the Commonwealth may be able to provide for the exclusion or the proper treatment of such goods as I have named, with a view to preventing the introduction from abroad of infectious and contagious diseases.
– I have no desire to labour the arguments, which have been well put for and against the amendment, and shall, in a few words, show why I cannot support it. Like other members of the Committee, I desire that the Commonwealth shall not interfere unnecessarily or unduly with the authorities of the States, and, furthermore, I wish to put an end to that undue and improper interference by one State with the trade of another, which, if it has not yet extended far, is beginning to operate under the regulations which have been made, not altogether for the exclusion of disease, but for the exclusion of goods. Holding these views, I welcome the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister, for which credit must be given to the honorable member for Brisbane. It will prevent interference with the States by the Commonwealth, unless they grossly neglect their duty to other States in allowing diseases to spread unchecked within their territories.
– Is it likely that they will do so?
– I am afraid that they have sometimes done so in the past ; but, with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I think that, they are now more particular. So long as their officers are properly enforcing satisfactory regulations for the prevention of the spread of disease, I hope that no proclamation will be issued to interfere with the actions of State authorities within their own territory. But in connexion with the provision that the Minister may appoint places on land or sea to be quarantine stations for the purpose of quarantine of vessels, persons, goods, animals, or plants, I ask him whether he has considered the financial aspect of the proposal. One of the reasons for transferring the control of quarantine to the Commonwealth is that economy may thereby be effected, and the inconvenience to owners of vessels and passengers visiting Australia minimized. The quarantine stations of the States are very valuable properties. Is it the intention of the Minister that the Commonwealth shall take them over as they are, or does he recognise that, as most of the vessels coming here -will be dealt with at Fremantle on the west, and at Thursday Island on the north, the quarantine stations at Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, necessary to deal with vessels coming direct to those ports, will not need to be as extensive as are the present stations?
– I made a statement on the subject when moving the second reading.
– At the port of Sydney, which I know best, the quarantine station is a very valuable property. It may be possible to obtain for the Commonwealth cheaper properties » than those at present in use, or only portions of those properties might be used. This would reduce the claim for compensation on the part of the States, in respect to which the Commonwealth, if it did not pay the principal, would have to pay interest.
– I suggested that the Commonwealth should take power to rent such properties as it might require.
– The rent would, of course, be proportionate to the value of the land taken, but to effect the economy anticipated, much more would fee necessary. It will have to be determined whether the large properties now used by some of the States for quarantine purposes will be necessary .under Commonwealth control, and whether smaller and cheaper properties will not be sufficient. These financial aspects should receive some attention, especially as we are undertaking liabilities, of the amount of which we are not yet aware. For instance, there may be destruction of crops, the rendering of land idle for years, as with phylloxera, or the destruction of animals - all these responsibilities will fall on the Commonwealth. We are now complaining that, in a short time, the revenue will be hardly equal to our requirements, and, therefore, the financial phase of the question should be dealt with. In some places there are verv large properties - properties which will be quite unnecessarily large under the new regime, if the administration be altered in the way I- have indicated - and this point, top, should receive consideration, so that when the Commonwealth takes over the departments, we shall not be- committed to an expenditure which will be found to show no saving on the present outlay.
Mr. W. H. IRVINE (Flinders) [9.2I.- The honorable member for North Sydney has drawn attention to two very important matters, one of which is connected with the Bill at present under discussion, and especially with the clause before us. There is a tendency which seems to be growing, I regret to say, amongst the States, sometimes with a perfectly bond fide desire to prevent the influx of diseases of animals and plants, to erect barricades against the other States - a tendency which may lead to considerable retaliation if unduly pressed. The other important matter is the financial or business aspect of the whole of these quarantine’ proposals. I should like to say a few words on each of these points. There is a little misapprehension, if I mav say so, in the mind of the honorable member for North Sydney as to what we are actually doing in regard to the first. I. am not going to ask honorable members to listen to the constitutional argument. The views which I have on that important’ question I gave utterance to on the second reading of the measure. I pointed out then that I thought we were going far beyond our constitutional powers in entering into the internal affairs of the States. But whatever we may conceive to be the meaning of the word “ quarantine,” as used in section 51 of the Constitution, it is quite clear what “ quarantine “ means in section 69 of the Constitution. The latter is the section which deals with the transfer of certain States Departments to the Commonwealth. It is there provided that the Postal Department, the Defence Department, and the Quarantine Department are to be transferred, and, however wide a meaning the word may have in the general grant of legislative power in section 51. I do not think honorable members will contend there is much difficulty in knowing what the Quarantine Departments of the various States were at the time the Constitution came into force. Every one will admit that these Departments were the Departments ordinarily known as those dealing with the introduction of disease from oversea along our coasts. I do not think there can be any dispute about that ; I feel certain the Courts would have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion. It may be possibly consistent with this, that the word “ quarantine,” as used in the grant of legislative power, may have a much wider signification - I do not think it has, but it may have. That, however, does not touch the question that the Departments taken over mean the quarantine grounds, the officers - the property in connexion with this very important function of Government administered by the various States in preventing the influx of disease in human beings, and possibly also animals, from oversea. Our legislation in regard to every Department we take over is exclusive of the legislation of the States. So far, therefore, as concerns the quarantining of persons and animals from abroad at the sea-board, any legislation we pass wipes out or supersedes the legislation of the States, and there can be no conflict. The legislation of the State and Commonwealth is not concurrent or cumulative, but one takes the place of the other ; and that is all right. But when we come to deal with particular Statutes concerning the control of the movements of stock or of plants, or of anything of that kind, as between different parts of the Commonwealth, we are not making laws - we may be making laws, though I do not think we are - which come under the general term of quarantine, and we are certainly not making laws in regard to the quarantine Departments of the States which we have taken over. If that be so, our legislation is not in any way exclusive. It is purely cumulative, or an addition to the legislation passed by the States.
– There is always the object of taking over the quarantine to be considered, I should think.
– The object has, of course, to be considered in all cases. I shall take an example to illustrate what I mean. It may be highly desirable - in fact, I. think it is, in many respects - that there should be a central authority controlling the general movements of diseased stock. There are many arguments in favour of that view, and I am not going to ask the House to reverse the decision come to a little while ago. I am endeavouring to show that, if we pass legislation controlling the movements of stock as between the States, or as between different parts of the Commonwealth, we are not creating legislation that affects in any degree the existing legislation, or the existing power to legislate, of the various States. That is the point I desire to impress.
– That is, on that definition of ‘ ‘ quarantine. ‘ ‘
– On the definition of “ Quarantine Departments.” In Victoria, there is a Dairy Supervision Act, for example, in which it is provided that certain diseases are to be isolated, and that the isolation of the herds shall be done under the order of inspectors, who work under the administration of the Minister of Agriculture. I am sure that honorable members will not think that it ever was the intention of the Constitution that, in taking over the Quarantine Department of Victoria, the Commonwealth should take over that portion of the Minister of Agriculture’s Department, with all its officers and machinery concerned with the isolation of diseased stock.
– I would not desire that in regard to operations within a State.
– It is not so mucha question of what we may desire. We may have different opinions of what we desire, but honorable members will admit that what I have indicated could not have been intended.
– I do not think so.
– I shall give another illustration. In Queensland, athere isa very important Act called the Stock Diseases Act, under which a Board of Commissioners is appointed, and which has proved a very effective measure. The Commissioners have the power to appoint inspectors, and also to impose taxation in proportion to the number of the stock ; and they may create a statutory fund for the purpose of dealing with the local conditions of stock.
– The Fruit Boards do exactly the same thing in another connexion.
– I am merely giving this as an instance. This Board of Commissioners exercise - and I think most effectually - most important internal functions in the State of Queensland. But who would ever have thought that when the Constitution provided that the Quarantine Department of Queensland should be transferred to the Commonwealth, it was intended that there should be transferred this Board, the officers, inspectors, and the funds and property of the Board - the various areas in Queensland in, which the work of isolation is carried on - as part of the Quarantine Department of Queensland? I do not suppose that any one for a moment thought that to be the intention. I might multiply instances indefinitely, but I think these two will serve. What I desire to point out is that, so far as the Quarantine Departments are concerned, we cannot read the Constitution as meaning that the Federal Government were to take over - were bound to take over such matters as those to which I have referred. The only matter is to fix the date-
– And leave it to the States to fix the areas, and so forth ?
– -Still they would be areas in connexion with what is ordinarily known as a Quarantine Department.
– We might require the whole or a part.
– We should not take over all the properties.
– There may be negotiations, as in the case of the other transferred Departments, in regard to exchanging properties and so on, while officers in the Quarantine Departments may also perform other functions- all that is a matter of arrangement. What ‘ I desire to urge is that this important point, first mooted by the honorable member for North Sydney, certainly deserves the careful attention of the Government. If we extend this Bill to deal with the movements of stock from one place in Australia to another - whether from one State to another does not matter in this connexion - all the machinery we create, and the legislation we pass, is cumulative on that of the States, and it will not1 interfere in the slightest degree with the danger to which the hon- 1orable member for North Sydney referred. For instance, Victoria has legislation or administrative regulations’ against the introduction of the fruit fly. That may be right or wrong, but assume it to be as wrong as possible, and its motive to be far beyond what is reasonably necessary for the protection of the fruit-growers - there is no power we can take under this Bill, or no power we could take in any shape, that could give us any control ; and that must be remembered. The Constitution itself provides the only control ; it provides that trade and commerce as between the various States shall be absolutely free. It is perfectly consistent with this, as held in hundreds of cases in America, that each State, being a separate entity, is entitled to preserve its individual existence, and for that purpose to preserve the health of’ its people, and ‘to use certain police powers, certain inspection laws, and certain powers of restriction in regard to the importation of diseased animals or people from abroad. A State has the power to make such provisions as are reasonably necessary for the purposes of protection, and to that extent to interfere with the freedom of . commerce, but to that extent only.
– The State can intervene to impose a quarantine, but not to lift one?
– A State has the right to interfere with the freedom of commerce, for which the Constitution provides, only to the extent- that may be reasonably necessary for the protection of its own inhabitants. As to what may be reasonably’ necessary is at present a matter for the Courts to decide, and for the Courts only.
– It may be a matter for an Inter-State Commission.
– If the various States improperly exercise their statutory power so as to unduly interfere with trade and commerce under the pretence that they do so for their own protection, the Constitution provides that we may create an InterState Commission to keep the States within their base.
– Or we can do that . without an Inter-State Commission, as wasproved during the discussion which took place when I moved for the appointment of such a body.
– I have considerable doubts as to whether we can do this by express legislation, but I would not like to say that we cannot.
– We have the quarantine powers of the States.
– I am afraid the honorable member does not quite follow me.
– We have no concurrent power, but we can override the power of the States - that is what I said.
– We do not purport in the Bill to override the power of the States.
– We may do so by proclamation.
– I think the honorable member does not quite follow me. It may be possible by some form of legislation, without appointing a Commission, to lay down certain rules governing the action of the States. But we are not attempting to do that in this Bill.
Mr. -Glynn. - We may do it by proclamation. ‘
– The clause does not purport to be of a negative or controlling or prohibitive character. All that it purports to do is to enable us to establish a quarantine, and to control the movements of stock, &c, as between the various parts of the Commonwealth. It does not purport to enable us to control the action of the States in controlling the movements of stock.
– If we establish a reasonable control, will not that override an unreasonable one by the States?
– No. That is precisely the point which I wish to make. There . is a section of the Constitution which says that our laws are to be exclusive of the State laws. Section 52 of the Constitution says -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to . . .
Matters relating to any Department of the Public Service, the control of which is by this Constitution transferred to the Executive Government of the Commonwealth :
Section 69, which was the other provision in the Constitution to which I referred, says -
On a date or dates to be proclaimed by the Governor-General after the establishment of the Commonwealth the following Departments of the Public Service in each State shall become transferred to the Commonwealth : -
Post, telegraphs, and telephones :
Naval and military defence :
Lighthouses, light-ships, beacons, and buoys :
If the control which we are endeavouring to establish over the movements of stock in a particular State, or between one State and another, be part of the ordinary quarantine Department which is taken over, my whole argument falls to the ground.
– Suppose that pur regulations were to clash with the State regulations, surely the Federal regulations would prevail ?
– They would not clash with the State regulations, but would be cumulative upon them. If we passed a. law which was inconsistent with a State law/ our law would prevail, so long as we had power to enact it. But in regard to this clause, we say that we are not going to touch what ‘ Victoria is doing in reference to the fruit fly, and that we do not intend to interfere with what she is doing in the way of prohibiting the intro duction of similar pests. We are merely establishing fresh machinery for the prohibition of these pests.
– Suppose that our regulations specified that the quarantine of stock should extend over twenty-five days, and the State regulations declared that it should extend over thirty days, should we be required to abide by the State law?
– Certainly, assuming that the State regulations were such as it had power to make under the Constitution, and were not unreasonable for the purpose of protecting its own people or stock, our regulations would not be inconsistent with the State regulations in the slightest degree, and would therefore not override them. The two sets of regulations would exist side by side. It is possible that under the name of a Quarantine Bill we might pass a law regulating, or possibly prohibiting the action of the States in regard to some of these matters ; but we are. not attempting to do that.
– I intend to move an amendment which .will meet every word of the objection which the honorable and learned member has uttered.
– I should very much prefer that the Minister’s -amendments should be printed.
– We are in the dark at present.
– Exactly. Another point was made by the honorable member for North Sydney - a point which is very intimately connected with what I have been discussing, namely, the business side of this proposal. What are the properties that we are to take over, and what shall we have to pay for them.?
– We shall have to pay an enormous sum for some of them.
– If all the machinery and property belonging to the various internal departments for regulating diseases of fruit, diseases in cattle, and providing for dairy supervision, are taken over under this Bill, as part of the transferred Department, we shall have to pay for them. If they are not taken over - as I submit they should not be - then all that we can do is to provide other properties of our own for the purpose of administering the Act, and that would have the effect of duplicating existing services which are performing these functions. I am glad to learn that the Acting Prime Minister has an amendment which he says will meet the difficulty. In conclusion, I merely desire to say that I fear we are getting into rather deep water in connexion with this Bill. I am a very strong federalist. The honorable member for Bendigo declared the other evening that he was a federalist, and desired to extend the powers of this Parliament. So am I. I am so strong a federalist that I desire, above all things, to keep within the limits of our Federal power. I will give one strong reason for my view. We should not purport to go beyond our power, because there are one or two great questions with which this House will shortly have to deal. I might instance especially the financial relations of the Commonwealth to the States. We have great, wide, and almost absolute powers in regard to that question, powers which I believe it is our duty and responsibility to exercise in order to effectually solve it. But if, in the meantime, in dealing with a lot of minor matters, we encroach in this direction and in that .upon the State preserves, if we irritate not merely the State authorities but also sections of people in the States, I fear that when we come to deal with the greater tasks with which we are faced, we shall find ourselves hampered - we shall find ourselves dealing with them under circumstances of irritation and difficulty that might have been avoided had we kept within proper bounds. At this stage I do not wish to interpose any difficulty whatever to the passing of the Bill, because the Committee earlier in the evening decided to adopt the wider scope and . ambit of this legislation. The Acting Prime Minister has stated that he will be able to introduce an amendment to correct some of these difficulties. I wish to cordially assist him in that way.
– One of my amendments was suggested by the deputy leader of the Opposition a couple of nights ago.
– I merely rose because I could not help thinking that the points which were so shortly and concisely made by the honorable member for North Sydney raised considerations of great -moment, which had not received the attention they deserved at the hands of honorable members.
Mr. [OSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [9.25I. - We are indebted to the honorable member for Flinders for the speech which he has just delivered. If quarantine is to be limited in its meaning in the way he has suggested, it seems to me that all we are now doing is absolutely useless, and will be ruled so by the High Court.
– The Government are professing to exercise in this Bill the powers which are conferred upon Parliament by the trade and commerce section of the Constitution.
– Yes. If the definition of the honorable member for Flinders be the correct one - and he has fortified his argument by reference to State Acts- all that we are now doing o,it-side of providing for maritime quarantine is useless. Whilst he was addressing the Committee, the question occurred to me, “ What was the intention underlying the taking over of quarantine arrangements at all ?” Clearly it does not mean a barren transference of power. There must have been some object in the provision for the taking over of quarantine.
– The- Quarantine Department, consists of certain officers and properties. They are what we take over.
– I take it that their transfer is subsidiary to the purpose of exercising the power of quarantine in a more effective manner. The main objective was to increase the quarantine of Australia above the corporate power exercised by the various .States.
– To the extent to which our Act is inconsistent with the States Acts the latter are invalid.
– The object was not to override the State’s Acts, but to incorporate all the powers contained therein in our own Act, and to extend and amplify them as circumstances might dictate.
– Would this Bill override the States Stock Acts ?
– So far as those Acts conflicted with it, it would do so. Again we are driven back to the definition of the term “ quarantine.” There is nothing that we cannot do in the way of overriding the States Acts if we have the power to do so.
– We have not the power to take over the machinery provided by the States’ for administering their Acts. If we wish to intervene we shall have to create our own machinery.
– We may not have power to take over the States machinery, but we can induce them to offer it to us for a reasonable consideration.
– If we have power to take over the Stock Diseases Boards in Queensland, for instance, they are not part of the Quarantine Department.
– Everything depends upon the definition of “ quarantine.” It all resolves itself into the question of whether we have the extensive powers which it is proposed to take in this Bill. It occurs to me that that general observation ought to be considered in dealing with the question of our powers. What is the object of taking over quarantine at all ? What was the object of taking over the Defence Department? Clearly it was to obtain a better Defence Force. I am almost certain, however, that we have not got it. Indeed, I very much doubt if we have a more efficient Post Office than we had prior to Federation. It may be that we shall get a better Department under the control of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. Nevertheless, the main object in taking over these Departments was to amplify them.
– The honorable member is straining the question of amplifying. Was not the object rather to harmonize the Departments ?
– Why was the harmonizing to take place ? Clearly to make the power a more efficient one. Everything, I repeat, will ultimately depend upon the ruling of the High Court. If it rules that the narrow interpretation of quarantine suggested by the honorable member for Flinders must obtain - and I admit it will have many precedents for adopting that view - I do not know of any quarantine law covering so wide a field as we contemplate under this Bill. Assuming that we have the power - and the Committee has already decided that we shall proceed on that assumption - it occurs to me that the proposal foreshadowed by the Minister will cover far more ground than that contemplated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I therefore do not think that he ought to press his amendment. A point that I should like to emphasize is that this seems to be only a Bill to fortify and reinforce the quarantine laws of the States. It does not propose to give relief from the stringency of those laws. Surely the measure is one which should operate in the direction of greater leniency as well as of greater stringency where necessary. I should be glad to hear what further proposals the Acting Prime Minister has to make; but I trust that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo will agree to waive his proposal in favour of that made by, the Minister.
– There can be no doubt that this clause will involve “a great deal of expenditure. Under section 69 of the Constitution we have power to take over certain Departments, and as 1 contended in my speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I think we are proceeding beyond our powers in providing that this Bill shall apply to other than oversea quarantine. Is it to be assumed that the framers of the Constitution, in passing section 69, and also the Braddon section, which makes the exercise of economy imperative, ever contemplated that we should take over the hundred and one services with which this measure deals? I repeat that these proposals will involve an enormous expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth, and I am satisfied that the contention of the honorable and learned member for Flinders is correct. I urged the Minister privately to confine the operation of the Bill to oversea quarantine, taking power to deal with quarantine in any of the States only when we find that effective action is not being taken by them. There has been a lengthy discussion on the meaning of the word “ quarantine,” as used in the Constitution, and I am strongly of opinion that the intention of the framers was that the Federal authority should exercise control only over oversea quarantine. I am fortified in that belief by the fact that such serious financial responsibilities are imposed upon the Commonwealth by the Constitution.
– The amendment foreshadowed by the Minister seems to me to go a long way towards granting that for which I and others have been contending. Had I been apprized of the intention of the Minister to move such an amendment, I should have been saved the necessity of making a long trip at the end of last week.
– The amendment was drafted on Friday, just after I had conversation with the honorable, member.
– Had the Minster taken us into his confidence I think that much of the discussion that has. taken place would have been avoided.
– Not at all.
– The honorable and learned member for Flinders has put in legal phraseology the view that I expressed before the adjournment for dinner. I then pointed out that we have in Tasmania local Boards, appointed under special Acts, and possessing enormous powers to insure the effective operation of laws relating to fruit pests. Those Boards have been created under special laws that have no bearing on quarantine, and I fail to see how it would be possible for the Commonwealth to deal with those bodies under a Quarantine Bill. If we have not the power to take them over, we must either sweep them away altogether or allow them to remain as at present. Under the Bill as it stands power is being taken to enable the Minister by proclamation to create quarantine areas. If a pest be found in an orchard the whole of the orchard may be quarantined. The Minister may quarantine a whole district, and bring ruin upon many orchardists. It is difficult to determine what will be the effect of the Bill when so many additions and emendations are being made, but so far as I have been able to gather from the information imperfectly put before us, I think that the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister will go a long way towards granting that which the honorable member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Brisbane, and I, as well as others, have been endeavouring to secure. I would suggest that we should agree to the clause as proposed to be amended by the Minister, and that it should then be reprinted, so that we may have an opportunity of examining it and determining whether any further alteration is necessary. In that event we should make an effort to secure the recommittal of the clause. My object is to insure that internal quarantine arrangements will be carried out by the local authorities.
.- Had I known that the Acting Prime Minister intended to propose the amendment which he has indicated, I should not have taken up the time of the Committee in submitting my proposal. I think that the honorable gentleman’s amendment will meet the view of myself and others who wish to safeguard orchardists from unnecessary interference on the part of the Federal authorities. I shall therefore ask permission to withdraw my amendment. In doing so, I should like to refer to the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders, and to which he had previously directed atten tion, as to the extent to which the Federal control over quarantine becomes exclusive. The honorable member contends, I under-‘ stand, that when, under section 69, we take over the Quarantine Department, the control of quarantine becomes exclusively vested in the Commonwealth by virtue of paragraph 11. of section 52 of the Constitution. Under that section we have exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Matters relating to any Department of the Public Service, the control of which is by this Constitution transferred to the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
My reading of the words “ matters relating to any Department “ is that they mean matters relating to the organization of any Department, its officers, regulations, and management, its plant and its property. I am somewhat surprised to hear the contention that these words, properly read, mean that quarantine, as a legislative power, becomes exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. I cannot agree with that contention.
– The suggestion was that the word “ quarantine,” as used in the section giving general power, was limited by the words “Quarantine Department.”
– That part of the contention is a fairly sound one.
– I do not think so.
– I do not agree that by section 52 the legislative power in quarantine becomes exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. I believe that to the extent to which Federal legislation occupies the field of action, so to speak, and expressly displaces States laws, it will be exclusive; but Federal legislation need not necessarily occupy the whole field. We may take over or exercise only a fraction of the power, and the residue of that power will remain with the States.
Colonel Foxton. - The Department could have been taken over by proclamation and without any legislation.
– But a “Department “ merely means the officers and other persons conducting the administration of the law ; it does not mean the law itself. A Department is merely an agent for the enforcement of the law. The honorable member for Flinders also expressed some concern with regard to what was to become of the Stock Boards of Queensland, as well as other local health agencies.I would point out that “ quarantine,” as understood under the Constitution, is merely a protective measure. . Its definition does not include eradication. It merely includes the power to wall in, so to speak, an infected area. The power of eradication would still be vested in the local stock, sanitary, or other boards.
– The Commonwealth can lay down the conditions under which stock may be moved from one State to another.
– Certainly. The methods of eradication incidental to the outbreak will still be vested in the States authorities, and the local authorities will not be interfered with, and will not have to be taken over.
– If a Federal officer saw an area quarantined because of an outbreak of small-pox, and came to the conclusion that the State authorities were not eradicating the disease as they ought to do, would he have power to interfere ?
– If the Federal authority occupies the field, or wishes to do so, it can sweep away or overrule any local authority.
– Then it has power of eradication.
– Within the quarantine area.
– It can make its own area.
– Yes. Therefore I think that in passing the Bill we shall not have to take over Stock and Health Boards and other organizations of the States, with their vast and extensive ramifications.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I do not wish to needlessly draw attention to technical matters of drafting ; but very often big things are affected by the phraseology of a measure. I do not think that the Bill contains a reference to contagious diseases or infectious diseases as being the subject of quarantine. Except by inference from the use of the words “ spread “ or “ introduction,” we have not the effect of the specific provisions in the English Act, and in some of the States Acts, under which the diseases dealt with are contagious or infectious. Therefore, what may seem to be an innocent wording may convey larger powers than the Committee wishes to give. For instance, it might be possible to declare a quarantine area in respect of a fever which is not infectious. The Eng lish Act deals with epidemic, endemic, and infectious and contagious diseases. Paragraphh provides that the Governor- General may, by proclamation -
Declare any part of the Commonwealth or of a State in which any quarantinable disease or any disease or pest affecting animals or plants exists to be a quarantine area.
There two provisions are joined together which should be separated. The technical reading of the provision is that there may be a quarantine area declared in respect to a disease affecting a plant, which shall apply not only to plants but also to animals. What is meant is that a quarantine area may be proclaimed in relation to plants, and apply to plants only, if a disease affecting plants exists there, and that, similarly, a quarantine area may be proclaimed applying only to animals. I suggest the insertion after the words “to be “ of the words “ in respect to animals or plants., as the case may be.” Some such words as those should be inserted. The defect to’ which I draw attention exists in nearly all the paragraphs.
– The matter to which the honorable member refers is highly technical. I shall pay that attention to his suggestion which it deserves, and shall refer it to thedraftsman. If he agrees with it, I shall propose an amendment to meet the honorable member’s view.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.51].- I move -
That the following proviso be added to subclause (1) : - “ Provided that the powers contained in the three last preceding paragraphs shall not be exercised unless the Governor-General is satisfied and certifies (i.) that the Authorities of the State wherein it is proposed to put such powers into execution have refused or failed to exercise such powers to the extent or in the manner to or in which the same ought to be exercised in the interests of another State or of the Commonwealth ; or (II.) that the Authorities of such State, having exercised such powers, have done so to an extent or in a manner that prejudicially affects the interests of another State or of the Commonwealth’.
Provided further that such powers shall not in any case be exercised by or on behalf of the Commonwealth until after notice of the intention to exercise them shall on each occasion have been given to the Governor of the State wherein it is proposed to exercise the same.”
I think that in one or two respects that amendment is better than the amendment which the Minister intends to move at the end of the clause. As it has been suggested, in regard to this amendment, that the honorable gentleman has stolen my clothes, I wish to make an explanation which should absolve him from that charge. Yesterday morning, I took the draft of my amendment to the Attorney-General, to consult him on one or two points connected with it, and I feel sure that, had he known that a similar amendment had been prepared at the instance of. another Minister, he would have informed me of the fact. I have since learned that the Government amendment was in the hands of the parliamentary draftsman, unknown to tha AttorneyGeneral.
– I knew that the Treasurer had given instructions to the draftsman to draft an amendment, but I had not read the draft with sufficient care to be able to1 criticise the amendment of the honorable member for Brisbane.
Colonel FOXTON. - I think it due to the Attorney-General that I should make this explanation. Before dealing with my amendment, I may be permitted a passing reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders - with which I entirely agree, notwithstanding what has been said by the honorable member for Bendigo - ‘ in regard to the sphere within which the Commonwealth law when passed will become supreme, superseding the laws of the States. Unless I am much mistaken - I have not had an opportunity to look up the Constitution - the Commonwealth could have taken over the quarantine departments of the States by proclamation, exactly as it took over the Defence Departments, and could have worked them with no greater inefficiency than they are being worked now, so far as oversea quarantine is concerned, under conflicting laws and regulations. It would have been inconvenient to do so, just as it was inconvenient to control the defence forces under the separate Defence Acts of the States before a Commonwealth Defence Act was passed. The Commonwealth, however, could have controlled quarantine during the last five or six years under the State Acts, making this measure practically a consolidating one. This view of the question is well worthy of consideration in connexion with what was said by the honorable member for Flinders.
– The Acts passed by the Commonwealth for the administration of transferred Departments have amplified and increased the powers of those Departments.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not think that the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to any transferred Department are limited bv the provisions of the State legislation regarding it. I agree with the honorable member for Flinders that this Bill will not enable the Commonwealth authority to annul anything done by a State authority in pursuance of its undoubted right of action in respect to such matters as stock quarantine within its own area. If, for the sake of argument, the Government of New South Wales proclaimed a quarantine area within that State, nothing in this Bill or in the Constitution would enable the Commonwealth to annul it.
– The Commonwealth law overrides a State law.
Colonel FOXTON. - There is nothing in the Bill authorizing Commonwealth quarantine officers to take such action, and I assume that the omission is intentional, and is an admission on the part of the draftsman that the Commonwealth authority has not power to annul a State quarantine area made to prevent the spread of disease from an infected area to surrounding districts within the State territory.
– What is meant by prejudicially affecting the interest of a State? A quarantine may be rightly exercised, so far as one State is concerned, and yet prejudicially affect it.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am coming to that. What I ‘wish to explain now in regard to the second part of my amendment is that if, as I believe, there is no power conferred by the Bill or in the Constitution which enables the Commonwealth authority to annul a State quarantine area created in pursuance of the undoubted rights of the State’, it is unnecessary. ‘That part of the amendment was framed on the assumption that the Bill may be read as conferring upon the Commonwealth the right to annul a State quarantine. If the Commonwealth, has no such power, the provision is mere surplusage.
– Any exclusion, even though it might be legitimate, would prejudicially affect the interest of a State.
Colonel “FOXTON.- Yes. I thought it- desirable to call attention to this matter in case it might be thought I had overlooked it.
– Does the honorable member propose to omit paragraph 2?
Colonel FOXTON.- No; I think, after what we have heard from the honorable member for Angas, that the paragraph is necessary. This amendment has the advantage over that of the Minister in that it makes the intervention of the Commonwealth authorities a much more formal matter. The Governor- General must be satisfied, and certify that necessity has arisen, and, secondly, the notice of the intention to intervene must be given to the Government of the State affected. It has been urged by some who have read the proposed amendment that it will create friction, but it seems to me that. the formalities involved are less likely to lead to friction than would a sudden intervention without notice. As I mentioned last night, the knowledge that it is necessary to formally certify, and to give notice, would mean that instead of these formalities, there would be a friendly communication as between one Government and another, and experts would be appointed and consulted, so that in all probability the powers would never be exercised.
– Some remarks have been made as to the similarity of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Brisbane and an amendment which I intend to submit myself. I may explain that last Friday one or two honorable members, amongst others the honorable member for Franklin, spoke to me on the matter. I had not then decided how far I should go, but the honorable member whom I have named desired to be able to make some statement in reference to the question in Tasmania. As a result, I gave instructions that afternoon to the parliamentary draftsman to prepare an amendment in harmony with the other parts of the Bill. On the following Tuesday, the Attorney-General told me that the draft was ready ; and I have to say that I never saw or heard of the amendment of the honorable member for Brisbane until I came here to-night. I am sorry that the honorable member submitted the amendment, because I cannot accept it. I regard the proposal which I have had prepared as much more workable than that now before the Committee. For instance, the honorable member for Brisbane desires it provided that the Governor-General must be satisfied and certify, and I take it that that means certifying before the proclamation is issued.
Colonel Foxton. - Yes, before action is taken.
– Such a provision might cause delay in cases where action is desirable at once, and it also means taking some power from the Commonwealth. Then, again, I do not like the words, “ the interests of another State,” which might cause somedispute, and, therefore, further delay. The wording of the proviso is also likely to cause delay and hamper the action of the Government. The amendment which I desire to have passed is as follows -
– I think that is better than any of the other proposed amendments.
– Although I gave instructions to have this amendment drafted when the subject was fresh in my mind, I did not circulate it, but kept it back with a view to ascertaining whether the debate showed it to be a reasonable request to make on behalf of the States. I hope the honorable member for Brisbane will accept the amendment I have just read in preference to his own.
– Supposing the amendment proposed by - the honorable member for Brisbane is rejected, will the Minister be in order in proposing an amendment exactly on all fours with that of the honorable member?
– There is a certain difference in the wording of the two amendments,, and, therefore, I think that that proposed by the Minister would be perfectly in order under the circumstances suggested. For instance, the Committee might desire the amendment, but not in the form presented in the first instance.
– A question was asked by the honorable member for North Sydney as to why human beings were not included. I take it that the Commonwealth should have power in regard to human beings, and to follow persons, who may have gone inland after leaving an infected ship.
– Is the word “animals” intended to include human beings ?
– No; the two are distinct.
.- The chief difference between the two amendments seems to be that one gets control over human beings, whereas the other does not. I think the ‘Minister is right, and that the States are not likely to object to our using our powers in connexion with human beings; all the remonstrances have been in connexion with animals and plants. Otherwise, however, so far as I can see, the effect of the Minister’s amendment is really the same as that of the honorable member for Brisbane. Would it not be better for the Minister to ask the honorable member for Brisbane to accept the Minister’s amendment in substitution for his own? To get over the Minister’s objection to the Governor-General having to certify, the words of the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act might be used, so as to have the terminology of Acts for the same purpose identical.
– In quarantine matters the object is to act quickly.
– Instead of providing that the Governor-General shall be satisfied and certify, we might follow the words of section 16 of the Act I have just mentioned, and say, “ Unless in the opinion of the Governor-General,” and so on. That section also relates to health matters. In regard to jurisdiction, I believe the honorable member for Bendigo put the matter very correctly when he said that the exclusive power under section 52 has nothing to do wilh our legislative powers, but deals purely with matters of administration. The point is referred to in Quick and Garran, in which a’ deliberate opinion is given after careful consideration. Perhaps honorable members will permit me to read the extract -
With respect to the whole of that field, of course,, the Federal Parliament has “power to make laws” under section 51, and it may, in the exercise of that power, occupy the whole field, and so exclude every particle of the concurrent jurisdiction of the States; but it is not by this section given “exclusive power” over the whole of that field.
As a matter of fact, there are provisions in this Bill in regard to pratique which are looser than those which obtain in the States. To that extent these provisions will override those embodied in the States Acts.
.- I hail with satisfaction both the amendment outlined by the honorable member for Brisbane and that suggested by the Acting Prime Minister without committing myself to the verbiage of either as an advance in the right direction. At the same time, I would suggest that we have now reached the very kernel of the Bill, and as the evening is getting late I think that the Minister should consent to adjourn the debate so as to allow honorable members an opportunity to consider the whole position.
– Oh, no.
– The amendment of the Acting Prime Minister was only distributed a few minutes ago.
– But it was read hours ago. T had better abandon the Bill than agree to stagger along in this fashion.
– I repeat that this clause represents the crux of the measure, and therefore I am entitled to ask for an adjournment of the debate so that honorable members may be afforded an opportunity to consider it in the light of the amendments which have been foreshadowed. I make this request in no unfriendly spirit.
– The honorable member is always asking for an adjournment.
– We are entitled to ask for an opportunity to consider the clause. At an earlier stage of the debate, I ventured the opinion that our quarantine powers should be limited entirely to oversea ships, to the right to follow diseased persons throughout the States,, and to assert the authority of the Commonwealth in cases where States displayed negligence. I again urge the Minister - in view of the fact that some honorable members have gone to their homes - to agree to an adjournment.
.- I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will recognise the fairness of the request which has been made to him. He must realize that I have endeavoured to assist him with this Bill.
– If honorable members will assist me to deal with the clause under consideration, I shall be willing to adjourn.
– We have not had the. first amendment suggested by the Acting Prime Minister before us more than a few minutes, and this clause represents the crux of the Bill. I suggest that it would be wise to adjourn the debate in order to enable honorable members to more quickly grapple with the provision, and to close the discussion.
– I consented to an early adjournment last night, and I hope the Committee will dispose of this clause before we adjourn.
– I should like to know the exact nature of the Acting Prime Minister’s second amendment. So far I have not had a chance of seeing it in print. This is the best hour to adjourn, if the Acting Prime Minister wishes to facilitate the early passing of the Bill.
– I quite agree with the .Acting Prime Minister that he has given ample opportunity for the discussion of this clause. When we were. prepared to go to a division upon it the honorable member for Flinders interposed a constitutional question, despite the fact that the constitutionality or otherwise of our action was very exhaustively discussed yesterday upon the initiative of the honorable member for Angas. It is no new experience for us to find lawyers differing from one another, and the fact that the honorable member for Flinders entertains a different view from that expressed by the honorable member for Angas possibly points to the conclusion that the former is not to be accepted as a great authority upon this question. We must recollect that the honorable member for Angas was a member of the Federal” Convention, and is well versed in the constitutionality or otherwise of our . procedure. Certainly his opinion is quite as worthy of acceptance as that of the Honorable member for Flinders. I say that the Acting Prime Minister is taking up a reasonable position in contending that this clause should be dealt with before we adjourn. At the present time two proposals are practically before the Committee. One has been submitted by the honorable member for Brisbane. Had the Acting Prime Minister not suggested another amendment which is terser and very much preferable to that proposed by the honorable member for Brisbane, no doubt we should have been content to accept the latter. But seeing that the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane necessitates an adverse judgment being given upon the management of the States Quarantine Departments, I think that it would be an act of grace upon his part to withdraw it in favour of. that of the Minister.
.- Considerable weight is to be attached to the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson in regard to the wording of the amendment. But his observations only strengthen the request which has been made that honorable members should be afforded a further opportunity to consider this clause. The Minister said that one of his objections to the amendment circulated by the honorable member for Brisbane was that it would involve some delay in giving effect to the law. That, to my mind, is not an objectionable feature. I may say, in passing, that I should have moved the omission of subclause g. had I thought that there was any possibility of securing its excision, since I think that the Commonwealth should not interfere with the internal administration of the States. There is a danger of much- injury being done to different interests by reason of panic legislation. We have experienced something of the kind in Queensland, notwithstanding that the Administration has had a full knowledge of local conditions. So far, however, the State quarantine laws relating to stock have been excellently carried out, and I see no occasion for the Commonwealth t’o interfere with the internal administration of the States. It is only because I recognised that there was no likelihood of my securing the omission of sub-clause g that I refrained from (proposing such an amendment, and decided to support that circulated by the honorable member for Brisbane as being the most for which we could hope. The delay in taking action, which his proposal might involve, would be a very useful safeguard, for the interests involved are very considerable. In connexion with the administration of the Queensland regulations relating to tick and other stock pests, hardship and loss have been suffered as the result of hasty and ill-considered action on the part of the local authorities, and’ the danger must be accentuated when we have the Federal authority operating far away from the affected area, and having no knowledge of local conditions. The measures to which the amendment relates are not of great urgency. Before the Federal authority would be asked to step in much work would have been carried out bv the State. The power of the Commonwealth would be invoked only when it was thought that the time had arrived when it should step in. I think that the form of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Brisbane has much to commend it. Its wording might be so amended as to remove the objection that action under it would appear to be taken by the Commonwealth only because the States concerned were not properly carrying out the work allotted to them. I, therefore, think it would be fair to give the honorable member an opportunity to discuss the amendment with those who assisted him in drafting it before he is called upon to withdraw it. If the wording of the amendment were varied so as to remove the objection to which I have referred, I should much prefer it to that foreshadowed by the Minister. Every formality should be observed in invoking Commonwealth interference with the internal arrangements of a State. Such an action should be most circumspect, and the greater the leisure with which it is done, within reasonable limits, the better it will be. In that way, all chance of friction would be removed, and it is for this reason that I think the Minister should give us an opportunity to consult with the honorable member for Brisbane before the amendment is withdrawn. I suggest that unless that opportunity is given the honorable member for Brisbane should press his amendment, asking leave only to vary its wording.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.35]. - Holding as I do that the Bill has a tendency to go very much further than I think it ought to do in regard to quarantine matters, it would be strange if I did not prefer the more sweeping reservations in my own amendment to those of the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister. Although I prefer my own amendment, more especially as it would compel the observance of certain formalities before the Commonwealth could prevent the passing of human beings from one State to another, still I recognise that, under existing circumstances, it is more than probable that if I pressed it to a division it would be rejected in favour of that which the Acting Prime Minister intends to move. In these circumstances,I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (3) The powers conferred on the GovernorGeneral by this section, in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs (g), (h), and ( i) of sub-section (1.) shall, so far as they relate to animals or plants or any disease affecting animalsor plants; as regards a State or part of a State, only be exercised in cases where the Governor-General is satisfied that the exercise of those powers is necessary for the purpose of preventing the spread of a disease or pest affecting animals or plants, beyond the boundaries of that Stale.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Acts - Provisional Regulations -
Military Forces - Regulations Amended, &c. - No. 59 Substituted Regulation, Nos. 65, 66, 67 Amended Regulations - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 80.
Military Cadet Corps - Regulations Added -
Mounted Cadets, Section 6, Nos. 62-68 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 81.
House adjourned at 10.44p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070807_reps_3_37/>.