3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took- the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Labour Conditions and Excise - Duty on Log Timber - Budget and Tariff Debates - Tariff Commission’s Reports.
– I desire to know from the Acting Prime Minister if he will give instructions to have the index to the Customs Tariff prepared in the same form as that of the other little volume which has been distributed to honorable members this morning? I think it might be done with very little trouble.
– I shall see to the matter. No doubt it can be done.
– Will the honorable gentleman give instructions for the printing of a schedule showing the old and the new rates of duties in parallel columns ?
– I think I said last night that I intended to have that done.
– Is it intended, where the rates of duties have been largely increased, to impose Excise duties similar to those proposed last year if proper labour conditions are not complied with ?
– The matter escaped my memory when dealing with the Tariff last night; but I afterwards gave an interview to representatives of the press in regard to it. “I would not attempt to pass a Tariff without making some provision of the kind, either in the manner followed last year, or in some better or easier way, if one can be discovered.
– Why not wait for the Labour Committee to report?
– No doubt the members of that Committee will be able to give me a great deal of assistance, and I shall be glad to have all the information that I can get. I decline ‘to say now, definitely, how this matter will be dealt with ; but an endeavour will be made to adopt the easiest and most effective method.
– It is possible that, if the present method is tested, it will be found unconstitutional.
– Quite so. When the Bill is brought down, we shall propose the best method of which we are informed.
– Has it escaped the notice of the honorable gentleman that the production of log timber is a very importantnative industry? He proposes to admit such timber free of duty, while giving high protection to exotic industries.
– It is not to be supposed that any one or two human beings could make a perfect Tariff. The present Minister of Trade and Customs and myself, together with the officers of the Department, have worked very hard in trying to perfect our proposals, but I have no doubt that some anomalies will be discovered. I think, however, that you, Mr. Speaker, ruled on a previous occasion that the rates of proposed duties could, on the motion of a Minister, be raised or lowered.
– In connexion with items in the schedule.
– Timber is an item in the schedule. That ruling will give an opportunity, similar to that taken when the right honorable member for Adelaide was in charge of the Tariff, for the removal of inequalities. I hope that in Committee honorable members will give us as much information as possible, because I do not desire the continuance of anomalies, nor do I wish to see anything omitted which honorable members think should be “dealt with.
– In view of the fact that the reports of the Tariff Commission were made available to honorable members only last night, and that the Budget papers have only just come into their hands, is it the intention of the Government to commence the discussion of the Tariff proposals as early as next Wednesday? Will they not postpone it until a later date?
– I am glad that the question has been asked. I have been considering the matter, and I think now that it will be better not to commence the discussion next Wednesday. There are certain measures which I hope to see put out of the way before the consideration of the Tariff is commenced. I hope that nothing will interfere with the Tariff discussion once it is begun.
Mr.McDonald. - We should have a week to consider the information which has been put before us.
– Are we to understand that it is not intended to commence the Budget debate next Wednesday?
– That is so. I wish to clear off the business-paper other measures whose consideration has been commenced, before proceeding with the Budget and Tariff debates. I hope that, when those debates are commenced, we shall go right on until we finish them, allowing nothing else to intervene.
– I hope that the discussion of the Budget will, as far as possible, be kept distinct from the discussion of the Tariff.
– I do not think that we can discuss the Budget within it discussing the Tariff.
– Will the honorable gentleman see that the reports of the two sections of the Tariff Commission are made available to honorable members, so that they may have an opportunity to peruse them before the Tariff discussion is commenced ?
– The Treasurer promised that last night.
– I shall give instructions at once to have additional copies printed - there are one or two copies in print - so that every honorable member can have one.
– Are all the reports in type?
– I think that most of them are, and therefore the printing will not take very long.
– Will the honorable gentleman name the date when he proposes to commence the Budget discussion? It is a most remarkable thing for the Treasurer to tell honorable members that the consideration of the Budget is postponed indefinitely. There should be a day fixed for the commencement of the discussion.
– I do not think that I have taken an irregular course. Obviously honorable members think that the discussion should not be commenced next Wednesday. That is shown by the question which I have been asked. When the honorable member for Parramatta spoke to me on the subject last night, I answered him before I had given the matter proper consideration. I shall not fix a date now, though I anticipate that the discussion will be commenced about Tuesday week. I shall give honorable members plenty of notice.
– It would be better to fix Wednesday than Tuesday week.
– I am not particular about the day, and next week I shall give honorable members ample notice of the date fixed.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister definitely promise to supply a sufficient number of copies of the reports of both sections of the Tariff Commission to make a copy available for every honorable member?
– That is my intention. I think that every honorable member should have a copy, and I shall give instructions, as soon as possible, for the work of printing to be expedited.
– Did the honorable gentleman say that the reports of the Tariff Commission are already in type?
– Not all, but nearly so.
– Would it be possible, then, to issue copies of these reports this afternoon, so that honorable members may be able to study them during the week end ?
– I do not think that that can be done, because all the reports are not yet in type. In some of them the recommendations have been merely written in, so that they should not become known to any but responsible persons. The work of printing and issuing will be done as quickly as possible.
– We have been given to understandthat it has taken the Ministry months to digest the information gathered by the Tariff Commission, and honorable members will, -therefore, require some considerable time to make themselves fully acquainted with the Commission’s recommendations. They cannot do it in addition to their ordinary parliamentary business, while the House is sitting, and therefore I ask if the Treasurer will be willing to consent to an adjournment from, say, Thursday next until the following Wednesday, in order to give honorable members an opportunity to try to digest the information which has been made available to them?
– I shall not make a definite promise at the present moment, because something may happen which will prevent such an adjournment; but personally, I shall not offer any objection if honorable members generally desire an adjournment from Thursday next until Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice, -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The amount of ; £ 145, 859 in question should have been specified as representing cocoanut oils and mineral oils. It was erroneously classed as olive oil. 3, 4, and 5. The information furnished in the Bounties Bill Memorandum is believed to be accurate.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th August, vide page 1625).
Clause 22 -
The master of every vessel shall (unless the vessel is actually performing quarantine under the supervision of a quarantine officer) forthwith, after becoming aware that any disease has broken out on his vessel which he believes or suspects or has reason to believe or suspect to be a quarantinable disease -
Notify a quarantine officer of the breaking out of the disease, and
Hoist the quarantine signal at the maintop of his vessel and keep it so hoisted until he is authorized by a quarantine officer to take it down or until the vessel is released from quarantine. Penalty : Fifty pounds.
Upon which Mr. Groom had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words from “The master” to “ quarantinable disease “ inclusive, lines 1 to 7, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “When the master of any vessel becomes aware that-
any eruptive disease ; or
any fever disease attended with glan dular swellings ; or
any disease which he believes or suspects, or has reason to believe or suspect, to be a quarantinable disease - has broken out on board his vessel, he shall forthwith (unless the vessel is actually performing quarantine under the supervision of a quarantine officer) “
Upon which amendment Mr. Wilson had moved -
That in paragraph b the word “ fever “ be left out, with a view to insert after “with” the words “ fever and.”
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
– It seems to me that this clause imposes a very great burden upon the masters of vessels. In cases of fever, no ‘matter whether they be of a contagious character or not, they are bound to report the occurrence. If they, fail to do so they are liable to a very severe fine. How can a master obtain definite knowledge that disease actually exists on board his vessel ? I would further point out that the clause provides that he is liable for not reporting the matter if he believes or suspects, or has reason to believe or suspect, that a quarantinable disease exists on board. Then how is the Minister to determine whether the master believes or suspects the presence of a quarantinable disease on his ship ? To my mind, it is a pity that our legislation should be either in the direction of working hardship or of proving futile.
– Quarantinable diseases are defined in the Bill.
– In most Quarantine Acts the words employed are “ diseases which are contagious and infectious.”
– The master of any vessel will know exactly what are quarantinable diseases, and the Bill empowers the Governor-General to proclaim other diseases to be quarantinable.
– Fever is not described as “ infectious.”
– In administering the Act, no officer would recommend the declaration as a quarantinable disease of a disease which was not of the kind usually dealt with in Quarantine Acts. I feel sure that no undue hardships will be thrown upon the masters of vessels under this provision. Of course, they must be under some obligation to report an outbreak of disease.
– But to believe that a disease exists on board his vessel the master must have knowledge.
– If there be a doctor on board, and he certifies that a patient is suffering from disease, of course the master must have knowledge. It is merely a question of fact which is involved. The master must have reasonable grounds for his belief.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 23 to 28 agreed to.
Clause 29 -
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
.- I desire to know whether the Bill contains any provision which will enable the GovernorGeneral in Council to allow persons liberty to quit either quarantine vessels or quarantine grounds. Of my own personal knowledge, certain notable individuals have been permitted to leave vessels which were undergoing a period of quarantine, and also to quit quarantine grounds. I fancy that the measure contains a provision to prevent that.
– Liberty to leave either a quarantine vessel or quarantine grounds has to be authorized by a quarantine officer.
– I presume it is not intended that wholesale liberty to leave such places shall be granted, but of course I apprehend that there may be circumstances in which the granting of such permission would be perfectly justifiable.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 30 to 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 -
Where a vessel has arrived at any port from a proclaimed place, or is subject to quarantine, and the quarantine officer is satisfied that no person on board is actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, but is not satisfied that the vessel is free from infection, he may, subject to this section -
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
.- With the general provisions of this clause I am in perfect agreement, but I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether it has been copied from the States Quarantine Acts, and whether it is a provision which is to be enforced save under the most exceptional circumstances ? I take it that it confers a reserve power which should be held by the Commonwealth, but it is certainly a very sweeping power if it is to be exercised in a wholesale fashion.
– This is an entirely new provision which is not contained in any of the States Quarantine Acts. It was introduced, I believe, chiefly upon the recommendation of Dr. Elkington, the Health Officer of Tasmania.
– I presume it will be put into operation only in exceptional cases?
– It is intended to confer a certain amount of latitude upon vessels, and at the same time to provide for their surveillance. It is a power which will be exercised with caution.
.- I would point out that this provision vests in. quarantine officers, in cases in which quarantinable diseases are not actually found on board vessels, the power of detaining them in quarantine upon the mere chance that such diseases may develop. Would it not be better to impose a safeguard against its abuse by providing that Parliament shall be notified of cases in which the power is exercised ?
– When any vessel arrives in port and the quarantine officer is satisfied that no person on board is actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, but he has reason to suspect that the vessel is not free from infection, he refrains from giving her a certificate of pratique, permitting her, however, to proceed from port to port without performing quarantine. The ship continues to be under surveillance. She would practically be under surveillance all along the coast.
– But the officer is bound to permit the vessel to proceed if there be no quarantinable disease on board.
– If he be satisfied that there is no quarantinable disease on board, but is not satisfied that she is free from infection, he will refuse to grant pratique, but the vessel will be permitted to proceed under surveillance.
– Would it not be better to substitute the words “believes that the vessel is not altogether free from infection” for “ is not satisfied that the vessel is free from infection “ ?
– I think that the clause is to be preferred in its present form. If a quarantine officer entertains any suspicion regarding a vessel, he must exercise this power. Of course, his suspicion must be a reasonable one. The provision has been inserted upon recommendation. However, I will take a note of what the honorable member has said.
.- The objection which I entertain to this clause is the very opposite of that urged by the honorable member for Wentworth. Apparently, he wishes to make it more lax, whereas I think it is already too lax. Under present conditions, if a medical officer is not satisfied that a vessel is free from infection, it is his duty to order her into quarantine. This clause will give the quarantine officer a discretion which I hope will not be too widely exercised. The object of this provision is very clear. Certain diseases have a more or less extended course of incubation ; and it is proposed that in certain circumstances a vessel from an infected port should be allowed to proceed on her way along the coast to a certain extent under observation. I think, however, that the Government are proposing to give the honorable member for Wentworth more than he is entitled to ask for.
– I have asked for no special concession.
– The honorable member complains that this provision is too rigid, and desires that, in certain cases, Parliament should be appealed to.
– I have simply offered a suggestion to the Minister.
– The honorable member has suggested that the precautions taken to prevent the introduction of disease should not be so rigid as they are under the regulations of the States.
– The honorable member desires that the quarantine officer shall be compelled to grant pratique unless a disease has developed upon a vessel.
– I have made no suggestion of the kind.
– The honorable member certainly suggested that unless Parliament had been appealed to, the quarantine officer should not be allowed to exercise his power to detain a vessel merely because he _ was not satisfied that she was free from infection. I think the clause is too wide. It proposes to give the quarantine officer too much liberty. I hope that in the regulations we shall have a recognition of the liability of the Commonwealth to be very seriously affected by a lax interpretation of this provision.
.- I should not have risen again to speak to this clause but for the extraordinary complexion which the honorable member for Laanecoorie has put upon my remarks. I cast the responsibility upon the Minister, but suggested that the clause might be redrafted so that it would be more in accorddance with the view to which he had given expression. The honorable gentleman said that the power would be exercised only where the quarantine officer was not satisfied that a vessel was free from infection. I quite agree that such a power is necessary. I entirely fail to understand why the honorable member for Laanecoorie should have attributed to me the view that the quarantine officer should not be permitted to exercise such a power as is proposed to be given him under this clause.
.- Very few of the Bills submitted to this House have passed through the ordeal of consideration in Committee so well as this has done. I think it is an admirable proposal that a quarantine officer, finding that a vessel has no disease on board - but not satisfied that she is free from infection - shall be empowered to allow her to proceed to the next port of call, where a further examination may be made. The provision is an ideal one.
– It is when the administration is good, but we cannot always guarantee a capable administration. A quarantine officer in one of the smaller ports might without reason declare that he was not satisfied in regard to the existence of disease on a vessel.
– I fail to see why the honorable member should assail the wording of the clause when ‘what he has in mind is really an attack on the administration. I cannot suggest how the clause could be improved unless, as suggested by the honororable member for Laanecoorie, we made it more stringent than it is. I prefer to charge the administration with the appointment of competent officers. If the’ officers do not carry out their duties satisfactorily they should be dismissed. As long as Parliament keeps a tight rein on the administration we shall be able to protect the interests of the country generally, as well as those who may be affected by any vessel being ordered into quarantine. Under the clause as it stands, a quarantine officer may, refuse pratique if he thinks there is a danger of a quarantinable disease breaking out on board a vessel whilst she is proceeding along the coast.
– And at the same time he need not tie up. the ship.
– He may allow her to proceed further along the coast to another port, where there will be an opportunity to ascertain whether his suspicions are well grounded.
– Does not the honorable member think that the central administration in all these cases ought to know what is going on ?
– The quarantine officer would have to report, and his report would be filed with the central authority.
– Under the regulations an officer who permits a vessel to proceed on her voyage under these circumstances will be required to give notice to the quarantine officer at the next port of call.
– Is it reasonable to assume that a quarantine officer would fail to advise the central office of what he had done in such circumstances?
._l fail to see any objection to the clause. It is designed to give elasticity ku connexion with the administration where elasticity is necessary. Where there is only a vague suspicion that a quarantinable disease exists on board a vessel coming into port passengers will be allowed to land, subject to some observation, whilst the vessel herself will be permitted to proceed on her voyage, and may be dealt with at the next port. This is a fair and reasonable provision.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35 (Order to perform quarantine).
.- I should like to know whether sub-clause 2, which provides that -
If a vessel has arrived in Australia from a proclaimed place, the quarantine officer shall (except as prescribed) order her into quarantine, has any bearing on clause 14, which erapowers the Governor-General to exempt certain vessels trading between Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, and other places adjacent to Australia. It is well known that there are a good many communicable diseases in the South Sea Islands. Would the Governor-General have power to exempt a vessel coming from one of these ports when there was an outbreak of disease there? Would he have power to exempt a man-o’-war or any other vessel coming from, say, Fiji?
– He could exempt them, and by so doing suspend the law of the State.
– Under this Bill we have power to issue a proclamation declaring that any place beyond or in Australia is infected with a quarantinable disease, and all vessels coming from a proclaimed place would be ordered into quarantine immediately on arrival. There are certain conditions prescribed in respect to oversea vessels generally. It might not be necessary to require vessels regularly trading between, say, New Zealand and Australia to perform the same conditions as vessels coming from eastern ports. But the intention of this clause is not to relax the conditions. Even if an exemption had been granted in respect of vessels coming from any of the South Sea islands, it would be removed immediately a quarantinable disease broke out there. The island on which [he outbreak occurred would at once toe declared a proclaimed place.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 36 to 38 agreed to.
Clause 39 (Performance of quarantine by vessel).
– I should like to know what power a quarantine officer has to detain a vessel. The only way in which to prevent a vessel leaving port is to detain her papers, and that is a power vested entirely, under the Customs Act, in officers of the Customs Department. A quarantine officer could not detain a ship.
– The Customs Act simply, provides that the owners of a vessel shall be subject to certain pains and penalties in the event of their refusing to obey the order of a Customs officer.
– The Customs officer could refuse to give a vessel her papers. Mr. Fisher. - Sometimes they sail without them.
– But a vessel could not enter another port without them, so that the honorable member’s argument is ridiculous.
– Such a thing has beer* ‘ done.
– The clause itself gives the authority to detain, and we must have such a power.
– What is the power?
– A vessel may be ordered to go into quarantine.
– The place at which a vessel is lying could be declared a quarantine station.
– That is so, if necessary. A vessel might be ordered to go into quarantine, and a quarantine officer has authority to detain her there. Of course, the only way in which a vessel can be detained is by the exercise of the power of the community. The power of detention is clearly given to the quarantine officer under this clause.
.- Although theoretically we have power to detain a vessel, in reality we have not. A case occurred only the other day, when a shipmaster, whose vessel it was sought to detain, simply snapped his fingers and sailed away.
– But how would he get on at the next port?
– The Customs had. granted his papers, and he would have no trouble at the next port, which might be Hong Kong or anywhere else. We cannot simply tie a vessel up with a bit of rope, nor is the navy always at our disposal for the purpose of enforcing detention.
– If, in such a case as that cited by the honorable member for Hunter, a ship’s captain takes his vessel away, what does it matter? So long as the captain does not try to land infectedgoods or passengers, why should we trouble about his sailing away from the port and the Commonwealth?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 40 to 45 agreed to.
Clause 46 -
When quarantine has been performed by any vessel or persons in accordance with this Act and the regulations, she and they shall forthwith be released from quarantine.
.- I think this clause could be improved by the addition of some words. The Bill has been introduced in order to provide that, if a vessel has performed quarantine at the first port of entry, quarantine will no longer be necessary at subsequent ports of call. I move-
That the following words be added - “ After proof of performance of quarantine, and pro per certificate to this effect, vessels shall be liable to no further detention on the same account for which such vessels have performed quarantine.”
– I am sorry that I cannot accept the amendment, the words of which would have an unduly wide effect not desired by the mover.
– A similar provision is in the New South Wales Act.
– The New South Wales Act deals with a small coast line, whereas the Bill will affect vessels sailing, say, from Port Darwin to Hobart, or from Thursday Island to Adelaide. Further, the clause applies not only to oversea boats but to Inter-State boats; and the words “ on the same account “ might mean an outbreak of a similar disease. The vessels are subject to quarantine until they have been granted pratique, when they go free. If, however, a disease should break out on a vessel which has been granted pratique, or there is reason to suspect that disease has broken out, there must be a reserve power of control over her.
– Then a vessel will still be liable to quarantine at each port of entry ?
– Only if there is an, outbreak, or reason to suspect an outbreak, of disease. The object of the Bill is to prevent the unnecessary quarantining of vessels at each port.
– I do not think that an oversea vessel would be liable after she has been released, because she is then no longer an oversea vessel.
– Such a vessel will be liable to the same quarantine as Inter-State boats, if disease should break out.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 47 to 49 agreed to.
Clause 50 (Animals or plants to be landed at declared ports).
– When the Treasurer was in charge of the Bill temporarily, I asked him what ports were likely to be declared, and I gathered from him that the Attorney-General would be able to make some declaration on the point. I asked the question because I think there is a misapprehension abroad in regard to this matter. Certain importers of stud stock have the impression that under the Bill the first port of entry will be the “ declared port,” and as this may be Fremantle, they will have no opportunity to inspect their stock while it is in quarantine. I am convinced that so intelligent - so brilliant - a: Ministry as the present one would not contemplate such extreme action. I only ask the Minister to give a general idea now as to what are likely to be the “ declared ports.” I presume each capital of Australia, at any rate, will be “ declared.”
– It is impossible to say what may or may not be the specified ports, but I should think that all the existing ports which have been found necessary will be declared, unless for some very strong reason. I can conceive that it may even be necessary to appoint special ports for a time. For instance, as I said yesterday, valuable stock might be consigned to a northern port of Western Australia, or to the Northern Territory, and, instead of requiring them to be brought to one of the ordinary ports of entry, special arrangements might be made for their being landed direct, always providing that they were quarantined and safeguarded. However, these are matters which must be leftto administration. I can promise that every facility will be given for the declaration of necessary ports.
.- It is absolutely necessary that at the ports of entry every facility in the shape of hospitals, water supply, servants, and so forth should be provided for the treatment of disease. A ship which sails under a charter party must proceed to the port mentioned in the charter, and, further, the policy of insurance makes a similar stipulation.
– Does the honorable member not think that a man, before placing goods on board, will ascertain the destination of the ship?
– If the port mentioned in the charter party were Newcastle, and that was a declared port, but was not furnished properly with quarantine requisites, it would be necessary for the quarantine officer there to direct the vessel with its crew and passengers to be taken to Sydney. It would be impossible for a vessel, if Newcastle were mentioned in the charter party, to make the first port of call any other port, without violating the terms of the charter, and of the insurance policy. To insure the proper carrying out of the Bill it will be necessary to establish fully equipped administrative offices and hospitals at the various ports of call.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 51 and 52 agreed to.
Clause 53 -
.- Now that the principal clauses have been passed, I join in congratulating the AttorneyGeneral on the manner in which the Bill has run the gauntlet of searching criticism, and on the fact that it has emerged in almost the same form as that in which it was introduced.
– There is one big alteration.
– I know that an’ amendment has been accepted by the Government, but it is more a method of procedure than a real alteration in principle. The question of appointing properlyqualified officers has already been discussed and decided ; but I desire to again emphasize the necessity for insuring that at the principal ports of entry, and also in the case . of internal areas, the principal officers shall be duly qualified veterinary surgeons. A qualified medical officer has to make the inspection in connexion with human beings, and there will be a qualified entomologist to investigate the diseases of plants ; and I hope the same principle wilt be applied in connexion with the examination of stock.
– I am sure that the Minister in making any appointments will bear in mind the necessity of selecting thoroughly competent officers. There is no doubt that in Australia generally the position of veterinary surgeons has considerably improved; and in Melbourne there is a proper institution for their training. At the same time, we do not wish to act unjustly towards the existing State officers. I think the assurance has already been given that, in- selecting officers for the admininstration of this measure, the present policy of the Commonwealth will be followed, which is to select the best qualified men who apply. As it has been found necessary- to submit horses and dogs to quarantine in every case, I move -
That after the word “ animals,” line 4, the words “other than horses or dogs” be inserted.
– Should not camels also be subjected to quarantine invariably ? They have brought new diseases to Australia.
– The amendment, if carried, will not deprive the authorities of the power to order camels, or any other animals, into quarantine. T shall consult my expert advisers in regard to the honorable member’s suggestion.
.- Representations have been made by the Secretary for Agriculture for New South Wales in regard to this provision. I understand that some animal diseases take longer to incubate than the time occupied in travelling here from other countries, and, therefore, it is necessary to quarantine animals on arrival in Australia, notwithstanding that they may be accompanied with certificates stating that they started free from disease. The fact that animal quarantine will be the subject of regulations does not affect the issue. We should insist on a sufficient period of quarantine in every case to determine that imported animals are not bringing with them any disease. As practically all the -stock that is imported is brought here for stud purposes, it is not a serious matter to their owners to have them- kept in quarantine for a few weeks; I believe that a period of forty days is insisted upon by most of the States authorities. If any new disease affecting animals spread through this country, it might take years to eradicate it, and then only at tremendous expense, or it might never be stamped out.
– Will it not be a hard and-fast rule that every imported animal shall -Le quarantined ?
– No. The clause provides that, if imported animals are accompanied by the certificate of an approved veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment, stating that, on examination prior to shipment, they were found to be in good health and free from disease, and if the quarantine officer is satisfied that they have not suffered from disease, or been exposed to infection during the voyage, ‘and are free from disease at the time of landing, he may allow them to be delivered to the importer without quarantine.
– The clause may be read in conjunction with clause 55.
– Clause 55 provides that a quarantine officer may examine and order into quarantine any animals declared by proclamation to be subject to quarantine. If what I think necessary is done, a proclamation will have to be issued under clause 55 excluding all animals from the exemption provided for in sub-clause 2 of clause 53. I regard this sib-clause as” a very dangerous one. The matter is not one which directly affects my constituents; but, if I represented a stock-raising constituency, I should be expected to offer very strenuous opposition to the provision.
– The interests of Australia at large are affected.
– That is what I am pointing out. This is a very dangerous innovation.
– Most stock raiders desire to do away with quarantine altogether.
– That is absolutely wrong.
.- I think that I should call the Minister’s attention to the fact that very strong objections to this provision are taken by experts. In a report which I have received from the Chief Inspector of Stock in South Australia/ a man of very wide experience, he describes this and one or two other exempting provisions as exceedingly dangerous. He speaks of the Bill as very crude as compared with the well thought-out provisions governing animal quarantine in South Australia, and says that it would be a calamitous thing for the States if the administration of quarantine fell into the hands of persons who were not qualified by the possession of intimate knowledge of all matters affecting the treatment of quarantined stock, and of the dangers to be apprehended and guarded against. He thinks it dangerous to give to a quarantine officer the power to allow animals to be imported without quarantine. Personally, it seems to me that there cannot be much danger if the measure is properly administered.
– The certificate relied upon will probably be given on the day of shipment, but disease may incubate after the animals are landed.
– I think that the difficulty might be met by inserting after the word “may” some such words as “after reporting to the chief officer authorized in the State.”
– I shall try to have framed an amendment which will meet the honorable member’s suggestion.
– It has been suggested that the officers administering the Act may not all be experts, and .it- would not be well to give such men unqualified discretion in this matter. I believe that camels recently imported into Western Australia brought with them surra, a most dangerous disease, whose introduction is causing considerable anxiety among the stock owners throughout the Commonwealth.
– What we have particularly to guard against is the importation of disease from certain countries where diseases exist which, if introduced into Australia, would be disastrous to our stock industry, and to every branch of commercial life dependent upon it. As instances of such disease I might mention rinderpest and surra. .Before an animal should be allowed to be imported without undergoing quarantine, the presentation of a certificate from approved authorities, certifying chat not only was it not suffering from disease when - it left the .port of shipment, but that no disease of any of certain kinds enumerated was prevalent in the. country from which it came should be insisted on.
– If a disease existed in the place whence stock came, we should regard it as a place from which they should not be imported.
– There is no provision of that sort in the Bill, and I certainly think that there should be. It is too big a matter to be left to regulation, and it is of vital concern to the stock industry. I think that there have been cases of rinderpest even in New Guinea. That disease has always been a menace to stock-owners, and no regulation can be too stringent to protect the stock industry of Australia from its importation.
.- I wish to point out a very serious inconsistency in this clause. It expressly provides that all imported stock must be accompanied by-.the certificate of a thoroughly qualified veterinary surgeon that they were free from disease at the port of shipment, whereas at the port of entry the power to determine whether they shall be ordered into quarantine is vested in an officer who has: no special qualifications. I think that at least we ought to be prepared to do what we compel other countries to do. In my opinion we should have a thoroughly qualified man at the head of affairs.
– I fear that honorable members imagine that this clause confers far wider powers than it is intended to confer. It was inserted for this reason : New Zealand, to our own knowledge, is absolutely free from a great many of the diseases which affect stock. The same remark is applicable to England, from which country stock are imported. The clause is intended to provide that if stock are imported from those clean areas, anr! are accompanied by the certificates of a veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment, that they are free from disease, they may be admitted into the Commonwealth without being required to undergo a period of quarantine. But I recognise the force of the contention of the honorable member for Capricornia. I can assure him that the intention of the Government practically coincides with the desire which he has expressed. The power to admit stock’ without subjecting them to quarantine was only intended to be exercised in the cases which I have mentioned. I will see if it is not possible to get a clause framed declaring that if imported animals have been shipped from a port which we are satisfied is free from disease-
– That will not be sufficient. We require to be satisfied that the country from which they are imported is free from disease.
– I would point out to the honorable member that Australia is a large country, and that whilst disease amongst stock might exist in Western Australia, Tasmania might be perfectly free from it.
– The infection of rinderpest may be carried in packages or clothing - indeed in anything. In that way it might be transported . hundreds of miles inland.
– I will have the clause carefully looked into, and see if it is not possible to embody the idea of the honorable member in an amendment. The honorable member for Angas thinks that we shall assume a very serious responsibility if we authorize any officer to permit stock to be introduced without first reporting the matter to the chief officer responsible for the administration of the quarantine arrangements in the particular district concerned.
– In many cases the infection is carried on vessels in the bedding and in the cracks between the fittings.
– I believe that we could accomplish what the honorable member desires by regulation.
– I do not think that the Attorney-General can tone down the effect of this clause by regulation. It gives a specific authority.
– We can prescribe the officers who shall exercise this power, and require that they shall report the matter.
– That might be done if he were prescribed as an authorized person.
– I will endeavour to meet the suggestion of the honorable member. If I cannot give effect to my promise here I will see that it is fulfilled in another place.
– We do not want the Senate to be amending our work.
– The provision should be embodied in the Bill before the Senate is asked to deal with it.
– I will agree to the postponement of the clause, with a view to having the requisite amendment drafted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clauses 54 to 56 agreed to.
Clause 57 -
.- This is another clause which is exceedingly important to those who import stud stock. It provides that upon the mere word of a quarantine officer valuable animals may be destroyed. I move -
That after the word “certifies,” the following words be inserted : - “ On the certificate of a qualified veterinary surgeon.’”
This amendment is designed to protect the interests of men who have incurred a very heavy expenditure - often involving a personal trip to the Old Country - in purchasing stud stock, and.it is also in the inte rests of the country. The latter portion of this clause provides that if a beast has been destroyed which is found not to have been diseased, compensation shall be paid to its owner. But I would point out that any animal may cost an importer many hundreds of pounds. If it were destroyed he would not only be deprived of the use of the beast for many months, but would suffer loss in various other ways. If he were merely paid the original cost of the animal, that would not compensate him for that loss. The clause does not fairly protect the importer. I ask the Attorney-General to draft an amendment which will have the effect of protecting both the Government and the importer. A valuable animal such as I have already referred to, would only be introduced at ou’r big ports where the services of a veterinary surgeon are available.
– Why not make the quarantine officer a veterinary surgeon ?
– The honorable member could not make me a doccor simply by describing me as one. This is too big a matter to be left to regulation.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, but I think that the quarantine officer at our big ports of entry should be a veterinary surgeon.
– My remarks are not prompted by any captious opposition to the Bill, and I desire to know whether the Minister can see his way clear to agree to the amendment?
.- I think that the owner of an imported beast should be allowed to make some protest against the destruction of his stock upon the word of a quarantine officer. It appears to me that the clause would vest quarantine officers with a very dangerous power. The owners of stock which it is proposed to destroy, should be advised of the intention of the Government, and should be allowed to appear to show cause why the course proposed should not be adopted.
– I quite understand that the honorable member for Capricornia has not submitted this amendment in any captious spirit. Throughout the entire discussion of the Bill he has approached its subject-matter with a very open mind, and he has placed a good deal of practical knowledge at the disposal of the Committee. His amendment proposes that no beast shall be destroyed except upon the certificate of a qualified veterinary surgeon.” What State in Australia has made provision for the appointment of qualified veterinary surgeons?
– The services of a veterinary surgeon are available at every big port.
– But who is to certify to his qualifications? Some of the States, I am aware, provide for the training of veterinary surgeons, but I dct not know that all of them do so.
– The Attorney-General would surely encourage the employment of qualified men ?
– My own opinion is that in modern society almost every avocation has become specialized to such an extent as to demand the” appointment of professional men with scientific training wherever possible. By securing the insertion of this amendment the honorable member might do an injustice to many men who are practising as veterinary surgeons, although not qualified in the sense that they have obtained the diploma or certificate of some institution recognised by the Government. I am afraid that the use of the word “ qualified “ would have that effect.
– Then would the honorable member accept my amendment if I agreed to the omission of that word?
– The provision, so amended, would be very vague. I am sure that the Minister would not order the destruction of a valuable animal in the absence of a certificate signed bv a competent man that its destruction was absolutely necessary. Then, again, the owner of the beast would have an independent examination,. If he obtained the certificate of a qualified man that it was not suffering from any disease, the Minister would be liable to pay compensation if he caused it to be destroyed. In the interests of the community as a whole, it is necessary that the Minister should have the power to order the destruction of animals suffering from disease.
– The compensation paid does not always represent the value of the animal to the owner.
– A man who brings a diseased animal to Australia does so at his own risk. Under this clause such an animal could not be destroyed save on the certificate of a quarantine officer.
– Who might not be competent to certify.
– Every officer appointed would be a competent officer, although he might not be a graduate of a veterinary college. If we take over the State Quarantine Department, and such officers as Mr. Tabart, of Tasmania, to whom reference has been made, are available, we shall certainly secure their services. Is it not unfair to suggest that, notwithstanding the production of the certificate of such an officer that an animal should be destroyed, the Minister should be required to go outside the Department, and obtain a certificate from a veterinary surgeon.
– I hold that, before ordering an animal to be destroyed, the authorities should have it examined by a veterinary surgeon. If the quarantine officer were a veterinary surgeon his certificate would be sufficient.
– In many cases the quarantine officer might be a veterinary surgeon. The honorable member for Capricornia desires that a certificate shall be given only by an officer holding the certificate of an institution, or the diploma of a veterinary college recognised by the Government. In Queensland we have practising as veterinary surgeons many men who hold no such certificates.
– What is to prevent the Commonwealth holding an examination ?
– We have power to establish such institutions as are necessary to train our own public officers, but we are not proposing to do anything of the kind.
– I am simply suggesting a way out of the many difficulties that the honorable member is conjuring up.
– By inserting the word “ qualified “ as proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia we might exclude very many States officers.
– The stock inspectors of Queensland are better authorities on tick pests than are many veterinary surgeons, but this provision relates to diseases from outside of which in many cases they know nothing.
– We have in the Quarantine Departments of the States men possessing as wide a knowledge of the diseases of stock as some qualified men have, and 1 do not wish to see an injustice done to them. Another point to be considered is that the immediate destruction of a valuable animal might be necessary.
– That is all the more reason why a qualified man should be required to examine it, and to issue a certificate that its destruction is necessary.
– But we have to remember the area to which this Bill will apply. It will apply to stock arriving, not only at Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane, but at many other ports.
– Well, take, for instance, the Queensland ports. There are qualified men at Bowen, Rockhampton, and Gladstone.
– Qualified veterinary surgeons ?
– Generally speaking, all the meat works have a qualified man.
– But such a man might not be available when wanted.
– There ale special officers in the States. Iri South Australia we have inspectors of cattle:
– Who need not necessarily be veterinary surgeons.
– An inspector of cattle might be a better man than a veterinary surgeon.
– That is the very point which I have been emphasizing.
– But the term “ quarantine officer “ is very wide.
– I do not wish to restrict the power of the Minister.
– Then, why not provide that the certificate shall be that of a veterinary surgeon “where available”?
– That would not carry us any further than we are. A Minister would not be so foolish as to order the destruction of a valuable animal, unless he were satisfied that its destruction was necessary. If he did, the Commonwealth would be liable.
– Compensation . is absolutely inadequate in the case of imported stock.
– But compensation would have’ to be paid.
– Under the Bill the Minister might cause an animal to be buried immediately after its destruction -in order to prevent any examination being made on behalf of. the other side to ascertain whether its destruction had been rightly ordered.
– I do not think a Minister would do such a thing.
– A quarantine officer who was -not competent to judge whether an animal were diseased or not, might order it to be destroyed.
– The Minister would not allow an animal to be destroyed in the absence of a certificate from a competent officer that its destruction was necessary.
– Then let us have such a provision in the Bill.’
– The trouble is that the honorable member’s proposal might shut out local inspectors who in many cases have a better knowledge of these matters than a veterinary surgeon has. We might have at certain places a quarantine officer who, although not a veterinary surgeon, had ordered a beast into quarantine, and had certified that it should be destroyed. Yet the Minister, although he recognised that the officer was competent, would have to obtain the services of a veterinary surgeon outside the Department to certify that the animal should be destroyed.
– Then let us provide (hat the certificate shall be that of an “ approved veterinary surgeon.” If that were done, officers having special knowledge, and now in the employ of the States, might be granted certificates by, the Veterinary Board.
– We should still have to go outside the Department to obtain a certificate authorizing the destruction of a diseased animal. A certain notice would probably be given.
– What good would that do?
– If there were a certificate on behalf of the other person that the animal was not diseased, and the Minister were in doubt, there would be fuller investigation.
– But supposing the Minister had no doubt, and wrongly, ordered an animal to be slaughtered?
– Then the owner of the animal . would get compensation.
– That is all.
– That is quite sufficient, because the compensation would be adequate. There must be power to kill; and I ask the honorable member for Capricornia not to press the amendment.
– I see no difficulty; and I think the Minister is labouring this matter unnecessarily. There ought to be no trouble in getting a veterinary surgeon to examine a valuable imported beast before the extreme measure of slaughtering i* taken.
– Some ports are 2,000 miles from where a veterinary surgeon is available.
– What port is that distance away?
– Wyndham, for instance, which is one of the biggest stock ports in Australia.
– Any difficulty could easily be got over by making the quarantine officer a veterinary surgeon. The Minister will have absolute control over stock, and may direct that they be taken to any port he chooses for the purpose of inspection. Only in ohe or two extreme cases would there be the slightest difficulty ; and that could be got over by such appointments as 1 have suggested. What is to stop the Public Service Commissioner from holding examinations for the purpose of certificating veterinary surgeons under the provisions. of this Bill? Examinations are held in connexion with other Departments of the Public Service, and the papers are set and examined by university professors. Why could not the same step be taken in connexion with this Bill ?
– Such an examination would not make a man a qualified veterinary surgeon.
– Could not the Minister prescribe a standard, just as outside colleges now do for other Departments of the Public Service?
– It would require an Act of Parliament to enable a veterinary surgeon to be qualified in that way.
– We have every power under the Constitution and in the Bill to do what I have suggested.
– The States are the only ‘ powers which may grant diplomas to veterinary surgeons.
– We have power to do everything to carry out our functions, even to setting up a veterinary college, if we find it desirable to do so.
– But directly a man qualified in that way acted in any of the States, he would be liable to State criminal law.
– Then so much the worse for the State law. However, there is no need to discuss the question, because there are numbers of veterinary surgeons who would jump at the chance of such billets if the pav were reasonable.
– But these surgeons cannot practise outside the States in which they qualified.
– In Queensland, an inspector has the power to order an owner to slaughter stock in certain cases.
– The power to slaughter is no doubt necessary; but the least we can do is to take every precaution to ascertain that an animal is really diseased. The Attorney-General has urged that it may be necessary to slaughter an animal instantly ; but, as a matter of fact, the quarantine area might be as wide as we like for the purpose of isolation, and an animal could wait until it was examined by a qualified man. . There are cases in which it would be impossible to compensate a man for the destruction of imported valuable stock.
– Has the honorable member known any Health Act administered in a dangerous or aggressive way ?
– I cannot recall any instance, for the simple reason that my experience has not been the same as that of residents in remoter parts of Australia. This question has no significance so far as New South Wales is concerned, because in that State there is a thoroughly equipped Stock Department, at the head of which are two veterinary surgeons acting as stock inspectors. The remoter parts in Queensland or Western Australia will be those chiefly affected.
– Are there State provisions to qualify veterinary surgeons in Tasmania?
– I should think so, because there are in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
– I do not propose that every quarantine officer shall be a veterinary surgeon.
– I suggest that the word “ qualified “ should be inserted before “ quarantine officer.” The Minister would then have power, under regulation, to stipulate what the qualification should be.
– The word would mean absolutely nothing. What would the man be qualified to do?
– To say whether or not stock should be destroyed.
– Who would say that the man was qualified?
– The Minister.
– The Minister, who may not know one beast from another !
– Only certain officers would be intrusted with the work.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is right in his desire to secure qualified men, but I think the object could be attained by providing that the quarantine officer intrusted with this power shall be a qualified stock inspector.
– That is the position in the States.
– It would be possible for the Public Service Commissioner to hold an examination for qualified stock inspectors at the ports of entry, and these men would be the qualified quarantine officers. Under the circumstances, there would be no necessity for a veterinary surgeon who had qualified under the Veterinary Surgeon Act of any State, and who would, as I have said, not be qualified to act in any other State. We should then have in the Commonwealth service a number of men especially trained for the work.
– Why not provide that the quarantine officer should be a person pre- scribed for the purpose?
– Yes; I am willing to accept such an amendment.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Archer) proposed -
That after the word “officer,” line 1, the words “ prescribed for the purpose “ be inserted.
.- My sympathy is with those who desire to protect importers of blood stock; but, at the same time, I see no necessity for the’ amendment; the clause as it stands is quite ample for our purposes. It seems to be implied that Queensland is chiefly affected by the clause. But it is well known that imported stock for Queensland is always taken round by the south. So far as I have any knowledge, no stock has been imported by the northern route for many years.
– But suppose we have the Torres Straits service started?
– Of course,- that might make a difference. Up to the present, however, since the Torres Straits service has been abandoned, there has been no importation by the northern route; and even when that service was available, there was very little importation of stock, beyond a few Timor ponies.
– Horses are imported into Queensland from India bv that route.
– I think the trade in horses is the other way about.
– Cattle are brought to Australia from England by that route.
– Cattle come by the northwest route to Western Australia.
– But as the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, nearly all vessels with stock come round by the southern ports, where there is ample opportunity for inspection by the best qualified officers, so that there is no fear of the introduction of disease.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that we annually export to India between 6,000 and 8,000 horses, but the Government of Victoria, and, I believe, the Governments of some of the other States, on 24th June, passed a regulation prohibiting the re-importation of any horse from that country. A few years ago, I sold a horse called “ Great Scot,” a valuable sire, to go to India.. Now breeders would like to get him back again, but, under the regulation I speak of, fie cannot be brought back, although he can be taken to England, and his progeny can be sent out here. Similarly, there are many fine mares in India which breeders here would like to buy. Not long since, , an Indian buyer offered .£2,500 for the celebrated New Zealand mare “ Solution.” Her owner would part with her for that price if she could be brought back again. I think that the regulation which I refer to is too strict, seeing that animals which have been to India can be afterwards taken to England, or to any other part of the world except Australia. The administration of the States is becoming too narrow, and, therefore, I am pleased that this matter is to be taken over by the Commonwealth.
Amendment agreed to.
.- It is a pity we do not follow more closely the wording of the State Acts. The honorable member for Echuca has suggested that, before an animal is destroyed, notice of the intention to destroy it should be given to the owner. Under the clause as it stands, a valuable animal might be destroyed and buried, and no chance given to the owner to have its carcass examined to see whether a mistake had not been made. In South Australia, animals may be destroyed if the inspector suspects the presence of disease.
– But the inspectors are certificated men.
– Some of them have better qualifications than veterinary surgeons.
Under the South Australian Act, the owner may require the inspector to test the carcass for disease, a very proper precaution.
Amendment (by Mr. Palmer) proposed -
That after the word “ may,” line5,the words “ after notice to the owner or person in charge “ be inserted.
. -I would point out that the owner might be resident in England, and it is expedient that this notice should be served without delay.
– Why not say “ owner or agent “ ?
– I am willing to accept the amendment if the word “ agent “ is inserted after “owner,” and the words “if known “ added.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 58 -
If a quarantine officer certifies that any plants ordered into quarantine are affected with any disease, and, in his opinion, are a source of danger to other plants, and ought to be destroyed, the Minister may order them to-be destroyed, and they shall be destroyed accordingly.
– I ask the Minister to make an amendment here similar to that made in the preceding clause, providing for acceptance of a certificate from an entomologist.
– There are very few entomologists in Australia.
– Each State has its entomologist.
– We should not make it too difficult to keep out diseases.
Mr.Mcwilliams.-i believe in keeping out diseases; but we should open the doors as widely as we can with safety, to the importation of the best stock, and the latest and most valuable plants and trees. Valuable plants imported from America or England should not be destroyed until they have been condemned by a competent man. Their destruction should not be possible on the advice. of an officer of insufficient knowledge, withoutthe owner being informed. It would be a monstrous thing for a valuable consignment to be destroyed without any intimation being given to the owner, to enable him to test the expediency of the condemnation.
– I hope that the honorable member will not move to amend the clause. There are many practical men who are competent to test the existence of diseases in connexion with plants, but whoare not trained entomologists. The Government entomologists to whom the honorable member referred are employed to study the life history of pests, and the conditions under which they flourish and succumb, with a view to discovering means for their eradication, and giving instructions to orchardists as to the methods to be pursued to. keep their trees healthy. The Government entomologist of Queensland, an exceedingly competent man, spends his time in studying the development of diseases affecting vegetation, and has published several papers on the subject. It would be impossible for him to visit ports so widely separated as Townsville, Rockhampton, and Brisbane, whenever a consignment of plants had been ordered into quarantine, to ascertain whether it should or should not be destroyed.
– There are fewer entomologists than veterinary surgeons.
– Yes. There is very little inducement for men to become entomologists, because the openings for them are so few. The only way in which we can induce entomologists to prosecute their studies on behalf of the community is tosecure the appointment of officers who will devote the whole of their lives to original research.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral accept an amendment providing that notice shall be given to the owners?
– Yes, if they are known.
Amendment (by Mr. Mcwilliams) agreed to -
That after the word “ Minister “ the words “ after notice to the owner or agent if known be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 59 -
– To a certain extent this clause provides for an existing difficulty. But I would point out that some of the agreements, made between carrying companies and. those who take advantage of their services, contain covenants which virtually have the effect of contracting these companies out of liability in respect of any passenger or member of a crew who might desire to take advantage of this provision. It is a great hardship for people abouc to enter a country to be compelled to undergo a period of quarantine. They themselves may not be affected by disease, but they are, nevertheless, detained for the safety of the people on land, and they are charged very heavy expenses during the period of their detention. This clause provides that the owners or agents shall supply such wholesome and suitable provisions and medicines as are required by the quarantining officer at the quarantine station, and if they do not provide them it empowers the Minister to supply them and to charge the owners or agents of the vessel for the amount expended. But, to my mind, the provision does not go far enough to protect the passengers and crew. Therefore, I move -
That after theword “prescribed,” line 6, the following words be inserted - “ And the cost thereof shall not be charged by the owners or agents against any passenger or member of the crew of any vessel.”
The amendment means that if a vessel were detained in quarantine, and the provisions and medicines necessary for the passengers were provided, the owners could not, under an agreement which, in many instances, is contained upon the tickets sold to the passengers, compel the latter to refund the cost of their maintenance. It is quite sufficient hardship for persons to be kept in a quarantine ground, with all its uncongenial surroundings - because these grounds are not selected on account of their beauty, but are really portions of countrv which are regarded as so uninhabitable that they have not been taken up-
– One of the best quarantine grounds in the world is that at South Head, Sydney.
– It is remarkably well situated and furnished, and the establishment certainly does credit to the citizens of Sydney.
Mr.Mcwilliams. - The authorities charge persons quarantined there 10s. a day.
– Yes. If a man and his wife, and two or three children are quarantined, they frequently find that thev are living at a rate at which they have never lived before under the same circumstances, and never hope to live again. I can quite conceive of a number of immigrants such as we hope to attract to Australia in the near future being quarantined upon their arrival, and thus finding their capita] completely dissipated by these charges.
– If people are quarantined for the protection of the State the State ought to pay for it.
– But surely the owners . of vessels have some responsibility ! A number of diseases which occur on board ship are due to the owner’s negligence in failing to provide proper sanitary conveniences.
– The Board of Trade compels them to provide suitable conveniences upon passenger vessels.
– But we deal with many countries whose mercantile laws are not nearly so effective as those- of Great Britain. It is from the Asiatic countries that we have most to fear in the way of infection. It is the ports in the Indian Ocean, and the Western Pacific Ocean, against which we chiefly have to guard. It is not a fair thing that persons who are quarantined, in addition to submitting to detention, should be compelled to pay what are admittedly high charges. Ten shillings a day is an outrageous charge, notwithstanding that the cost of provisions at quarantine stations is necessarily higher than it would be elsewhere.
.- This amendment would have the effect of making the owners or agents of a vessel liable for the support of passengers during their period of detention in quarantine. I do not hold a brief for the ship-owners, but I recognise that they are put to considerable expenditure for every hour that one of their ships is detained in quarantine.. In a large number of cases their expenses exceed £300per day in addition to their ordinary expenses. They are business men, and we must consider what they will be likely to do if the proposal of the honorable member for Laanecoorie becomes law. If they are to be subjected to the cost of maintaining passengers during their detention in quarantine, they will undoubtedly introduce some form of insurance, possibly in the way of increased passage money. The burden will merely be shifted to other shoulders, probably to the profit of the ship-owners themselves. I think that either some power should be given to the Minister to say what the charge during quarantine should be- assuming that ios. per day is an exorbitant rate - or the State should pay a portion of that charge. . The amendment would scarcely work out in the way that -the honorable member for Laanecoorie suggests. It would merely result in the charge being shifted from the owners on to the unfortunate passengers. It has been suggested to me that the owners of vessels who may shortly be entering into contracts with the Government for the introduction of a large number of desirable immigrants, would, if the amendment be carried, instead of accepting the lowest possible price for the transportation of those immigrants, naturally take care to contract themselves out of this risk. I think it would be better to empower the Minister charged with the administration of the Act to determine what is. a reasonable charge for the maintenance of passengers, first class or otherwise, upon quarantine stations.
Sitting suspended front i to 2.15 p.m.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment submitted by him, with a view to proposing another which he considers will carry out more completely the object that he has in view.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) agreed to -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ (3) A passenger shall not be liable to compensate the owner or agent for the cost of any provisions or medicines so supplied to him, and any contract or stipulation purporting to impose any such liability upon him shall to that extent be null and void.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 60 to 66 agreed to.
Clause 67 -
.- It seems to me that under this clause the importation of vaccine virus for use against small-pox, plague, cholera, or typhoid, as well as the importation of any anti-toxin, would be prohibited. If that is so, the clause should be amended.
– The honorable member will find, on carefully examining the clause, that it will not have the extreme prohibitive effect that he fears. It is not a general prohibition against the introduction of vaccine or anti-toxin. It. simply provides that no person shall knowingly import any of these things “ in contravention of this Act or any .proclamation under this Act.”
– There is a memorandum on the subject by Dr. Ashburton Thompson.
– The Parliamentary ‘ Draftsman, in his memorandum on the re- . port of the Department of Public Health of New South Wales, says -
As’ to the allusion to the Noxious Microbes Act I900, this Bill does not contemplate absolute exclusion of virus, but only the regulation of its importation.
This should remove the fears which the honorable member entertains.
– Is the Attorney-General satisfied that this clause will not amount .to a general prohibition ?
– Yes. It relates only to the introduction of virus “ contrary to the Act,” and we do not provide that there shall be an absolute exclusion of all these things.
– It provides that there shall be no introduction of virus, except under quarantine regulations.
– The regulations will prescribe the condition under which disease germs, microbes, culture virus, and so forth, can be admitted.
– Would the Minister object to an amendment providing that “ except by the express permission of the Minister or the Governor-General,” no person shall knowingly import any of the things mentioned in the clause?
– That might go too far.
– I do not think there could be any objection to such an amendment. It would be a very serious matter if under this clause the introduction of anti-toxin were prohibited.
– I do not think the clause would have that effect, and we have the assurance of the .Parliamentary Draftsman that it would not, but I shall give further consideration to the question.
– That is all I ask.
.- I should like to point out that the Government; of Western Australia have expended thousands of pounds in obtaining supplies of various microbes that may be employed in the extermination of diseases and pests, and that this clause might prevent the further introduction of such microbes. Has that point been considered?
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- AttorneyGeneral [2.23]. - If honorable members will turn to clause 13, they will find that power is given to the Governor-General, by proclamation, to 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.
We have power to proclaim the introduction of any of these things, as being likely to do injury to Australia. But that power would not be exercised to prevent the introduction of cultures designed to combat pests or diseases, unless it was considered by the authorities that the remedy would be worse than the disease.
– Like the rabbit virus.
– Exactly. Having taken the power I have mentioned, it is necessary for us to provide in this clause that any person who, “in contravention of this Act” imports these things, shall be liable to a penalty.
– I think that the Minister’s explanation is satisfactory.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 68 to 72 agreed to.
Clause 73 (Quarantine officer may make inquiries at any time).
.- This clause provides that a quarantine officer may ask “ the master or medical officer “ of any vessel any question. The term “ medical officer “ is not the right one to use. Medical officers on. board ship are universally known as surgeons.
– “ Surgeon “ would come within the definition of “ medical officer “ in clause 5.
– I think that a quarantine officer ought to be allowed to question the passengers and crew as well as the master or medical officer of a ship. I know that the master and medical officer are liable to certain penalties for making false statements, but the imposition of a penalty would not help us if, as the result of a misleading statement, action were taken that led to the spread of disease. Cases have come under my notice which lead me to believe that it would be well to allow the passengers and the crew of a vessel to be questioned.
– Sub-clause 3 of clause 72 provides that -
Every person on board the vessel shall answer truly to the best of his knowledge all questions asked him by the quarantine officer as to his health during the voyage……
That covers the point raised by the honorable member.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 74 agreed to.
Clause 75 - (1.) A quarantine officer may require any person subject to quarantine or performing quarantine to be vaccinated, and any person so required to be vaccinated shall submit to be vaccinated accordingly.
Penalty : Five pounds. (2.) A quarantine officer shall not require any person to be vaccinated unless In his opinion vaccination is necessary for the protection of persons subject to quarantine or performing quarantine, or for the prevention of the spread of any quarantinable disease.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ (3.) For the purposes of this section vaccination includes inoculation, or any similar preventive measure against any quarantinable disease.”
.- I object to this clause. I fail to see why we should compel persons to submit themselves to vaccination of any kind. As to the efficacy of vaccination against smallpox, I shall at present express no opinion ; but I hold very strongly that we should not’ insist upon people in quarantine being vaccinated against their will. In New South Wales, vaccination is not compulsory. There is a compulsory vaccination Act in Victoria, and that Act may be right or wrong. I do not intend to express an opinion upon it. If people on board a vessel had already been exposed to a disease and had taken it, vaccination would do them no good. It might be that it would be of service in the case of those who had not taken the disease. That is a question entirely for the passengers themselves. I cannot see what right we have to compel passengers to submit to vaccination or. if we have the right, what good it may do. There is one thing, however, on which we should insist. As surgeon of a ship on the China coast, I have found myself without a supply of fresh vaccine when members of the crew and passengers, who were exposed to disease, desired to be vaccinated. Consequently, I desire that this clause should not be agreed to, and that the following should be substituted -
Every vessel shall be required to carry a supply of fresh vaccine, according to regulation.
.- I am glad that the honorable member for Hunter has made a suggestion in this matter, because a greatpower, widely expressed, is proposed by the clause. The vaccination contemplated has no relation to the particular disease in respect of which the passengers may be subject to quarantine; so that if a man have intermittent fever, he may be vaccinated for cholera, small-pox, or goodness knows what ! Then, again, vaccination is proposed without any regard to the laws of the States on the subject; and I could suggest a modification - although it is a modification that I would not accept - that passengers might be compelled to be subject to laws of the States in regard to vaccination. I trust the Minister will consent to the excision of the clause. Another difficulty is created in this Bill by the absence of marginal notes, so that it is impossible to say whether there are corresponding provisions in the local Acts. The principle of the legislation seems to be to take the widest powers we can, and eliminate every provision that mav modify the arbitrary authority of the officers administering the law.
.- I think a mistake has been made in the direction pointed out by the honorable member for Angas. The clause does not tell us for what reason the vaccination shall be made, though we all recognise that there is only the one disease of small-pox in which it is necessary ; and it would be much better to have the fact specifically set out. I am surprised to hear the honorable member for Hunter stating that in his opinion vaccination is not of much use, and then suggesting that every ship should be compelled to carry a supply of lymph.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting what I said.
– If so, it is not wilfully, because that is the idea which the honorable member’s remarks conveyed to me.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
-I am glad to hear that, because the honorable member, as one with a personal acquaintance with ‘ the medical profession, must know that vaccination is of great use. This is one of those matters in which the State has to step in and trespass on the rights of the individual, in order to protect the community, in just the same way that the authorities interfere when a man has a dangerously dirty back yard.
– But the honorable member would propose to make a man’s blood dirty.
– The honorable member does not know the constitution of lymph, or he would not talk in that fashion.
– It all depends on the quality of the lymph.
– Surely we are not going into that question?
– Vaccination has turned healthy children into unhealthy children.
– It is not fair to blame a standardized lymph for all the terrible results which we are told have followed vaccination. I myself have seen bad results follow a system of vaccination which I never have, and never would, adopt, namely, arm to arm vaccination. But if there be proper lymph, the subject runs absolutely no risk. Vaccination is not so much for the protection of the individual, as for the protection of the community. An unvaccinated person during a smallpox outbreak is a source of danger, not only to himself, but to all those with whom he comes in contact.
– That may be a question.
– It is the absolute fact.
– The medical profession do not “ nail their colours “ to that now.
– There may be members of the medical profession who do not believe in vaccination. Medical men, like the members of every other profession, may differ on very vital points. I should be wanting in my duty if I allowed a proposition of the character made by the honorable member for Hunter to be adopted without, at any rate, warning the Committee against the possible effects.
– Is the honorable member not misrepresenting the position of the honorable member for Hunter?
– I am not misrepresenting the honorable member now. I have accepted his disclaimer, though I certainly understood, from his previous remarks, that he desired to convey the impression that vaccination, . in his opinion, was not of much use.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– Since I have accepted absolutely the denial of the honorable member, it is hardly fair to charge me with misrepresentation. Legislation occasionally - some people say invariably - interferes with the rights of the individual, and no doubt this is one of the occasions which premise that there shall be a certain operation, very mild in character, not for the safety of the individual alone, but for the safety of the community at large.
– Why have vaccination for small-pox, when the disease is practically non-existent in Australia?
– For the purposes of prevention.
– For the purpose of preventing something of which there is an infinitesimal risk !
– The question is whether there should be vaccination after a person is taken ill.
– That is the point.
– That is an extraordinary attitude to adopt. I am surprised at the honorable member for Hunter suggesting that people are vaccinated after they have taken small-pox. The operation is really an inoculation which gives the disease in a mitigated form.
– But after a person has contracted the disease, vaccination will do no good.
– It is a most extraordinary suggestion that people should be vaccinated who are already suffering from small-pox. Hundreds of contacts are put in quarantine every year, who have no trace of disease about them, the object being to protect the health of the community.
– Is it not a fact that in other countries that method of dealing with quarantinable diseases has been superseded? Are contacts quarantined in America now ?
– I hope the method will not be superseded in Australia, and I do not care twopence what they do in America. There are several methods and practices adopted in the United States which we should be sorry to see introduced here ; probably the honorable member for Wentworth would not be sitting where he is if we were subject to some of the laws at present in operation in America. The intention is not to vaccinate people who are suffering from disease^ but those who are to go out amongst the community. I am prepared to hear ali sorts of terrible statements about vaccination ; but two facts stand out. In the first place, small-pox is far more easily communicated to those who have not been vaccinated.
– That is not correct, on medical evidence.
– In the second place, there is the fact that those who have been vaccinated, and who do, as happens occasionally, contract small-pox, have it in a very mild and mitigated form. The assertion of the honorable member for Bourke is disproved by statistics all the world over.-
– I have read up the subject thoroughly, and know what I am talking about.
– Perhaps trie honorable member has been misled by ex -parte statements. .
– I have formed my views from what I have read of the testimony of experts. Doctors differ on the subject all over the world.
– For one member of the medical profession who is opposed to vaccination, 500 are in favour of it.
– Perhaps they believe in it for other people, as Mark Twain believes in early rising.
– The alternative proposed, that on each boat a sufficient supply of vaccine lymph should be carried, will not meet the case. To substitute such a provision for a proper method of preventing the introduction of disease is like trying to sweep back the Pacific Ocean with a broom.
– I understood the honorable member for Hunter to say that a contact, at the time of being quarantined, must be either an infected person or uninfected, and that, if infected,’ vaccination would be useless as a means of preventing the development of the disease, while, if uninfected, segregation would allow the fact to be determined without risk to the health of the community. I was misled by the marginal note. It conveyed to .my mind the impression that vaccination would Be optional to the persons quarantined. On reading the clause, I find that the option is with the medical officer.
– a person who did not’ wish to be vaccinated could’ pay £5.
– That is what I should do.
– How many persons can afford to pay £5 ?
– I protest against the clause as it stands. I come from a State where more liberty is allowed than is given in Victoria, and bear no vaccination brand on’ my arm. So long as Australia is kept as free from disease as it has been up to the present time, the risk of contagion will be so small as to make vaccination practically unnecessary. Under the clause, any contact might be required by a medical officer to submit to vaccination ; but, had small-pox been discovered on the Eastern when we were coming from the north, and had a provision of this kind been in force, I should have soon been at loggerheads with the medical officers on the point. I protest against thisback-door method of providing for compulsory vaccination, and shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Hunter.
– With all due deference to medical opinion, I hold the view that vaccination is a barbarous method of dealing with disease, and that it might well be allowed to become obsolete. I consider that cases become severe because of the antiquated methods of treating them which are employed, and that sickness can often be cured more expeditiously and made milder than is the rule.
– The honorable member is not aChristian Scientist?
-I am not preaching Christian Science, but the application of scientific methods co the treatment of disease. Quarantine will effect all that is required to be done in the way of preventing the introduction of disease. If contacts refuse to be vaccinated, and fall ill at the quarantine station, medical skill will be available for their treatment. The most that the doctors can say for vaccination is that, if persons who have been vaccinated get small-pox, they will have the disease only in a mild form.
.- I number myself amongst those antiquated persons who believe that there is great virtue in vaccination as a precaution against small-pox. Of course, I do not possess the knowledge of medical men ; but my reading convinces me that vaccination acts as a preventive, or as a palliative of smallpox.
– If the honorable member had lost a child through vaccination, he would think differently.
– Is the honorable member referring to a death, the cause of which was proved to be vaccination?
– That was certified to.
– Perhaps thevaccine used was not pure.
– There is no such thing as pure vaccine.
– There may be negligence or accidents; that does not disprove the value of vaccination. I think that the Commonwealth authorities should have this power. ‘ But the clause should be redrafted, because it does not distinguish between small-pox and other diseases. Apparently, in India, they are now successfully performing an operation similar to vaccination, to stay the plague. The recent conference of health officers recommended that vaccination should be made compulsory throughout Australia, but, as there is not uniformity on this point among the laws of the States, it would be a serious thing for the Commonwealth to adopt that recommendation. In my opinion, the medical officer at a port of entry should be empowered to ask every person on board a ouarantined ship to submit himself to vaccination, and those who would not do so should be compelled to undergo a longer term of separation than their fellows. Many friends of my own hold that vaccination has been responsible for setting up a bad state of the blood and causing illness, and, although the medical testimony as to the value of vaccination is overwhelming, the objections of such persons should be considered. It would be too much to require every person on a ship to be vaccinated, whatever his opinions as to the value of vaccination.
– It would be an outrage.
– I think so. But those who would not submit to the operation shpuld not get off with the payment of a fine ; they should undergo a longer term of separation, to prevent them from becoming the means of introducing disease.
.- My opposition to the clause is based on grounds which differ somewhat from those hitherto advanced. Experience goes to show that we should be acting unwisely if we gave to the port medical officers the powers conferred by the clause. I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of vaccination, admitting the balance of medical testimony to be in its favour.
But this clause, if passed, will be put into operation when some outbreak of disease occurs, and at such times, I have noticed that medical men become seized with panic, just as does the general community. I have a vivid recollection of an occasion when there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in Australia. I was a passenger by a German mail steamer proceeding from Adelaide to Fremantle. Several Inter-State steamers had been allowed to enter Fremantle without being quarantined, as had also the English mail steamer. But on the voyage to Adelaide, a fireman on the German liner developed a trifling skin disease, and, as it was suspected that he was suffering from bubonic plague, he was put on shore at that port. The vessel resumed her voyage, and on her arrival at Fremantle, a juvenile, about twenty-four or twenty-five years of age, enveloped in an over-ail, boarded the ship and ordered all the Inter-State passengers into quarantine, without subjecting them to anything in the nature of an examination. As a matter of fact, he did not even see the passengers whom he ordered into quarantine. The man who was supposed to.be suffering from the disease was put ashore at Adelaide, and it subsequently transpired, was not suffering’ from bubonic plague. The youth to whom I have referred, probably fresh from some university, ordered all the passengers to be put ashore in the ship’s boats. The result was that we were landed in the middle of the night upon what was practically an uninhabited headland, where we had to find accommodation as best we could. For ten days some fifty or sixty persons were thus kept in quarantine, without rhyme or reason, until news was received from Adelaide that the fireman, upon whose account we had been quarantined, had been discharged. The doctor who ordered us into quarantine would have kept us there longer, had not the passengers held a meeting, at which they resolved to leave ‘ the quarantine grounds and walk into Fremantle. I happened to be chairman of the meeting, and it was resolved that all the male passengers should walk into Fremantle .and surrender themselves at the police-station. When the doctor learned of our decision, he released us from quarantine. I may say that at the quarantine station there was just a piece of galvanized iron between myself and a Chinese who was suffering from leprosy. The quarantine was an absolute farce. The authorities talk about the isolation of the patients, when, as a matter of fact, the baker’s and butcher’s carts were permitted to come into the grounds daily, and we were allowed to freely mingle with the drivers. It was nothing short of compulsory imprisonment to which we we’re subjected, at the whim of a bumptious juvenile, who did not know his business. I am satisfied that we shall be doing a great wrong if we allow this clause to be incorporated in the Bill. I am> glad the honorable member for Hunter has called attention to it, and I hope that he will insist upon a division, so that it may be eliminated.
– I think that this clause is very roughly drawn, although I do not agree with all the criticisms which have been levelled against it. To my mind, its weakness, lies in the fact that it does not differentiate between the different diseases against which vaccination or inoculation is intended to be used. I think that vaccination as a preventive against small-pox - and I speak only on the authority of the balance of medical testimony - is extremely valuable, and I would be prepared to agree to the clause in its present form if it merely conferred powers of vaccination in the case of an outbreak of small-pox. But I find that the power of vaccination or inoculation is directed against any “ quarantinable disease “ and ‘ ‘ quarantinable disease “ means “ small-pox, plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhus fever, or leprosy.” Accordingly, if a medical officer were to exceed his powers in the way that has been described by the honorable member for Coolgardie, he could compel any passenger to undergo inoculation against leprosy, typhus fever, yellow fever, or cholera. Whilst I would cheerfully submit to vaccination as a precautionary measure against small-pox every time that I was going to an Eastern country, I should be very sorry to be vaccinated against typhus fever or leprosy. The clause is so loosely drafted that, in the interests of the measure itself, the Attorney-General would be well advised if he agreed to its postponement.
.- I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of vaccination, but, to my mind, it is a great pity that this clause has been introduced into the Bill. The question of the utility of vaccination is one upon which there is a great difference of opinion. In Victoria, compulsory vaccination exists so far- as infants are concerned, but even in this State we have not gone so far as the proposal in this Bill. We do not compel people who are ordered into quarantine to be vaccinated. They can either be vaccinated - in which case they are detained for a shorter term - or they may refuse to be vaccinated - in “which case they are obliged to remain in detention for a longer term. It appears to me that that is the remedy we ought to apply here. We should then permit those who have no objection to vaccination to be inoculated, while we should respect the scruples of others.
– I think that this clause should either be mandatory or else excised from the BUI. Already different laws relating to vaccination are in operation in the various States. If a ship were quarantined in New South Wales, the probability is that the quarantine officer would not compel her passengers to be vaccinated. In Victoria,’ however, he might adopt a different course. I fail to see very much use in the provision. If it is held that because a person has been on a ship with persons suffering from a disease he might contract the disease after getting out of quarantine, and ought, therefore, to be vaccinated, by the same process of reasoning, vaccination should be made compulsory in the case of every one entering -the country. I have not heard that proposal suggested, and I am inclined to think it would meet with very strong opposition. If those who have been on a ship on which there has been disease, contract the disease after leaving the vessel, we have ample provision in the States and Commonwealth laws to deal with them, and to safeguard the health of the people generally. The preponderance of medical opinion is in favour of vaccination, but there is a great difference of opinion on the question, and it is generally admitted that vaccination “is not a preventative of disease. It may insure a mild attack, but it is also admitted that to be effective, it is necessary that a person should be vaccinated every few years. In all the circumstances I think it would be better to strike the clause out.
Mr. MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) t3-I3]- - I do hope that the fate of the clause will be decided on its merits or demerits, not by honorable members generally, but by those who have a professional acquaintance with the subject. I do not suppose there are more than two or three members of the Committee who can speak with authority as to the” effects of inoculation. As the question is one in which I am not well versed, I am prepared to let it be decided by members of the medical profession. I hope that there will be no unnecessary delay in .dealing with the Bill, because we should get to work on more important business. I assume that in the preparation of this measure the Minister had the advice of medical men well versed in these questions. We have men in Australia who know something about them, and my vote will be cast in favour of the clause, in the belief that it is submitted on the advice of medical men. If that course is not generally adopted, it would be better to postpone the consideration of the clause until we have evidence as to the efficiency of inoculation in the prevention of the spread of disease. I am one of those who believe that the time will arrive when diseases of almost every kind will, by various means, be prevented; and it seems to me that that is likely to be brought about by a’ system of inoculation.
.- In order to give effect to the idea I put before the Committee, I suggest the amendment of the clause by the insertion after the word “may,” of the words “but only with the consent of the person concerned.” The question whether vaccination is or is not a good thing, does not enter into the discussion. The question here is whether we should make it compulsory for men to be .vaccinated who do not desire to be. No one will say that we could not obtain what we wish to accomplish by quarantine and separation of the persons concerned. If a man does not desire to be vaccinated he could be detained for such time as would make it certain that he would be under no risk of contracting the disease himself, and, therefore, of communicating it to others. That is all we need to secure under a quarantine Bill. Our object is to insure the safety of the people, and if it might be insured in that way, I do not see why we should enforce compulsory vaccination.
– -Does the honorable member believe in the compulsory cleaning of backyards ? .
– Yes; and if we had more clean backyards there would be less danger of the spread of smallpox, and -other diseases. After all, the remedy is not so much in inoculation as in cleanliness in every thing. So far as my reading on the subject has gone, I am compelled to admit that the balance qf medical testimony is in favour of the contention that persons who have been vaccinated, if they contract a disease, suffer from it in only a modified form. Yet there is very strong and conscientious objection by very many people to being vaccinated at all. That is why I wish to make the clause optional.
– Is the honorable member aware that in New South Wales people were vaccinated when the small-pox was discovered there?
– They were not vaccinated compulsorily.
– Yes they were. People were vaccinated against their will.
– I do not care whether it was so or not. I have lived in New South Wales for thirty-five years, and have never been vaccinated.
– I hope the honorable member will never come in contact with a small-pox patient.
– I hope not, but I am willing to take the risk.
– The risk to other persons must be considered.
– I conscientiously object to vaccination. That is my position. I do not see why I or any other man should be vaccinated against his will.
– Whilst I think that the clause might be improved, I do not agree with the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Nepean. If that were accepted, we might just as well strike out the clause. I can understand Australians objecting to vaccination, because they have not been witnesses of the ravages of the small-pox scourge. If they had lived, as I did in my younger days, in a big manufacturing city, and saw persons dying of small-pox by hundreds, and those who recovered disfigured in a dreadful manner, it is possible they would have a different opinion on the question of vaccination. I find no fault with a conscientious objection in regard to anything so long as the observance of such scruples, does not involve danger to the community. The power required under the Bill is not to. vaccinate all and sundry when there is no danger. It is when danger to the community is at hand that the power asked for is required for public protection. It ought not to be forgotten that in these days we have leviathans carrying a population equivalent to that of a village or small town. In these circumstances the danger of the spread of an infectious disease is a very serious matter.
While the honorable member for Nepean was referring to vaccination for small-pox in New South Wales, I heard an honorable member ask whether the authorities compelled people to have a bath. A good many people have conscientious objections to taking a bath, but no honorable member would say that it would not be good for them to have one. I am quite sure that the honorable member for Nepean would not like to live in the snme room in summer time with a man who had conscientious objections to taking a bath. He might not object in the colder weather, but as soon as the proximity of the person become obnoxious the honorable member would insist upon the bath being taken. I should like to see the clause amended in the direction suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong, but, of course, that would mean the complete isolation in the quarantine ground of all persons who bad conscientious objections. Taking everything into consideration it would be better to carry the clause as it stands rather than run any risk.
– A few minutes ago I madethe statement that there was no law in Victoria requiring the compulsory vaccination of persons in quarantine. I had communicated with the Health Department by telephone, and was informed that that was. so. But since then I have seen Dr. Norris, the Chairman of the Board of Health, who has drawn my attention to section 2 10 of the Victorian Health Act. The section is not inserted in the part of the Act dealing with quarantine, and therefore I missed it. It provides -
Should any vessel arrive in Victoria on board of which any case of small-pox shall exist at the time of the arrival of such vessel, or on board of which any case of small-pox shall have occurred within forty days previously to the arrival of such vessel in Victoria, it shall be lawful for the health officer or acting health officer to vaccinate or re-vaccinate every person who shall be on board such vessel, or who may be landed from such vessel in Victoria ; and any person arriving in Victoria in such vessel who shall refuse to submit to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated, or who shall refuse to permit any child in his custody to be vaccinated or revaccinated by such health officer or acting health officer, shall be liable to a penalty of not more than Ten or less than Five shillings for every day after such refusal during which such person shall remain without being vaccinated or Tevaccinated as aforesaid, and for every day after such refusal during which any child in the custody of such person remains without being vaccinated or re-vaccinated as aforesaid.
I thought it right to tell the Committee that the statement previously made by me was wrong. The section, of course, applies to quarantine only, but the position is different from what I was informed by the Health Department.
– I quite realize that the feeling of the Committee is that the operation of the clause, if possible, should be confined to cases of small-pox. In practice it would, I think, be so confined, because I cannot conceive of vaccination for other diseases being required under present circumstances. But medical science does prescribe inoculation for other diseases, some of which may be more serious than small-pox. Inoculation, for. instance, is recommended for the prevention of plague. That is the reason why, later on, I propose to move an amendment in regard not only to inoculation but similar preventive measures against quarantinable diseases. The object in view is not to use the power in an arbitrary manner. It must be realized that when a case of small-pox is found on board a steamer, if the passengers were not vaccinated it would mean that every one connected with the ship would have to be detained very much longer than would otherwise be the case. One of the objects of the clause is to enable persons to be liberated as soon as possible. There is no danger of any officer exercising these powers unless thoroughly satisfied of an outbreak of small-pox. The honorable member for Coolgardie has mentioned what appears to be an arbitrary instance. It is all very well to criticise the health officer in the case mentioned, but suppose there had been some disease. I’ can quite understand an officer who had at heart the welfare of the community determining to take the safest course under the circumstances. It is just as well to be cautious in cases which may involve the lives of thousands of persons. Tha question of compulsory Vaccination throughout the Commonwealth is not before the Committee in any way. The clause relates to a specific instance. If a ship is coming in, and there is small-pox on board, we want to give the officer power to say, if he considers it necessary to prevent the spread of disease, that what the clause requires shall be done. What would be the alternative ? It would mean that every per, son who had not’ been vaccinated would be detained in quarantine very much longer.
– What is wrong about that?
– Well, it would mean that one person might be able to block the whole of the passengers on the ship from- being liberated when they ought to be. Furthermore, it has to be remembered that medical science is making fresh discoveries every day. Inoculation for plague is a comparatively recent discovery. This Bill has been prepared after consultation with officers who know what they are doing in this matter.
– In clause 5, “ quarantinable disease “ is defined as meaning, amongst other things, “ leprosy.” Does the honorable member think that vaccination against leprosy would be efficacious?
– No. Honorable members will recognise, however, that when power is given to apply a certain remedy for a certain disease, the medical officer would not attempt to apply that remedy to something to which it was not applicable? That is why we ask that the clause be left in its present form. As there seems to be a difference of opinion I am prepared, however, to accept an amendment, providing that the quarantine officer may “ in the case of small-pox “ require any person to be vaccinated.
– Does the honorable member say that vaccination would shorten the time of quarantine?
– I have never heard such a statement before.
– I am informed that .it would have that effect. If the amendment which I have offered to accept, be made I shall agree to sub-clause 2 being consequentially amended.
.- I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who declared that I had distinctly said that I did not believe vaccination was of service as a preventive against the spread of small-pox. I made no such statement. I was careful to say that I would express no opinion on the subject. I believe that the consensus of medical opinion- to-day is that it would be well if the whole community were vaccinated. , I do not dispute that opinion, but I object to any medical officer being empowered to board a ship and to order that the passengers, whether suffering from small-pox or anything else, shall be vaccinated with lymph of any kind. For that reason, I intend to vote against this clause. Those passengers who are quarantined can do no harm to the health of the general public, and it should be for them to decide whether they shall be vaccinated or not. The Minister has said that the mere fact of a person in quarantine being vaccinated would prevent him from taking the disease. He must be aware, however, that there is a period of incubation during which the disease is lying latent in the body of the patient, and no one can say whether or not he has taken it. The vaccination of a person in whom the disease of small-pox is latent would not prevent the development of that disease. I doubt very much whether the vaccination of a person who had already contracted the disease would cause the attack to be less serious than it would otherwise be. I fail to see why any persons should be compelled to submit themselves to the operation. I should object to be vaccinated without my consent. I think it would be an undue interference with the liberty of the subject to insist that a man should be vaccinated when the object in view could be just as well attained’ by insisting that he should remain in quarantine. The time will come, I believe, when people will not be quarantined as at present in Australia. I believe we shall yet adopt the practice of the United States of America, where passengers on vessels arriving from infected ports are examined, and whilst those who are found tobe suffering from an infectious disease are. detained, those who are healthy are allowed to depart, but are kept under observation for a certain time.
– What would be the position in regard to those in which the disease had not manifested itself?
– They would be kept under observation for a certain period in their own homes; they would be quarantined there. The same practice has been adopted in connexion with the occurrence of plague in New South Wales. In the first instance, many “ contacts “ were removed from their homes, and sent to the quarantine station, but later on it was found quite sufficient to keep such persons tinder observation in their own homes. In the United States of America, there are ports where dozens of vessels might arrive from an infected port within a very short space of time, and if the ordinary Australian system were followed 10,000 or 15,000 persons might be quarantined within a few days.
– I desire to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Kelly) agreed to -
That after the word “ may,” line 1, the words “ in the case of small-pox “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the words “ any quarantinable disease “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the disease of small-pox.”
Question - That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 76 and 77 agreed to.
Clause 78 (Penalty for entering port, other than first port of entry, having disease on board).
.- For this offence a penalty of three years’ imprisonment is imposed, and I am advised that the general feeling amongst those engaged in the shipping, is that it is excessive, and that either a money penalty should be substituted, or the term of imprisonment reduced to, say, three months.
– This is a very serious offence; and in any case, according to the Acts Interpretation Act, three years is the maximum, and the term of imprisonment may be one day or one month.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 79 agreed to.
Clause 80 (Penalty for desertion).
.- I see that the words used in this clause are “wilfully deserts.” Is the word “wilfully “ absolutely essential, seeing that the word “ deserts “ conveys the idea of intention ?
-“ Wilfully “ makes the offence clearer.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 81 to 83 agreed to.
Clause 84 (Maliciously ordering vessels, &c., into quarantine).
.- Would this clause enable action to be taken if the quarantine officer ordered a ship or goods into quarantine without reasonable cause?
– The act must be done “ maliciously and without reasonable cause.” This is only the penalty upon an officer who is guilty of a breach of his duty.
– If the clause means that the act must be done both maliciously and without reasonable cause, it is quite clear.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 85 and 86 agreed to.
Clause 87 (Regulations).
.- I do not know what effect the decision of the Committee with regard to the prevention of the introduction of plants will have on this clause.
– We can only make regu- . lations in harmony with what we have done before.
– If it is necessary to alter this clause, will the Minister agree to recommit it ?
– I will get it attended to, but we cannot make a regulation which is inconsistent with anything we have done before.
– Why then ask for power to make regulations with regard to a subject as to which the exercise of that power is not necessary?
– We have some reserve powers over the importation of plants from oversea.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 53 -
– In accordance with a promise I made to the honorable member for Capricornia, I move -
That the words “ other than horses or dogs “ be inserted after the word “ animals,” line 4.
– What is the object of making an exception of those animals, especially of horses?
– We were informed that, owing to the nature of the diseases that affect horses and dogs, those particular animals are in all cases required to go into quarantine, no matter where they come from. That is so in New South Wales.
.- Why does not the Minister . include other animals ?
– Because there are special diseases which affect horses and dogs.
– I know that the ravages of those diseases have been felt in New South Wales owing to the non-performance of the rigorous quarantine which the honorable member now sees is also necessary under any Commonwealth measure, but it does not follow, because we have only suffered from that type of trouble in the case of horses and dogs, that diseases having long periods of incubation do not affect other animals also. Until the Committee is given the fullest information, or the Minister is able to satisfy us that he has taken competent scientific advice, we ought not to agree to his proposal.
– I ask the Minister to consent to report progress.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Customs and Excise Tariff, Royal Commission, Reports of,on.
Ordered to be printed.
Tariff - Contract Immigrants - Budget Debate - Old-age Pensions - New Protection.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Will the Acting Prime Minister indicate the intentions of the Government regarding collections made pursuant to the Tariff, as tabled last night, under duties which may subsequently be reduced? The matter is of moment to many importers. We are at present at the change of the seasons, and the uncertainty is dislocating trade considerably. I hope the honorable gentleman’s answer will be that any money collected under duties which are subsequently reduced by Parliament will be refunded.
.- Can the Acting Prime Minister give the House any information in reply to the question I asked recently concerning contract labour?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) £3.58]. - Is the Acting Prime Minister able to say definitely when the debate on the Budget will be resumed? “It is a very strange proceeding on the part of the Government to attempt to delay unnecessarily the consideration of the Budget once it has been submitted to the House. It has always been the rule for the Government to accede most tardily to the request of the Opposition for an adjournment of sufficient length to enable them to consider the financial proposals of the Government. In this case the position is entirely reversed. We are anxious to go on with the consideration of the Budget, so as to make way for the consideration of the Tariff, but the Government seem to be delaying the matter unnecessarily, and without the slightest justification. It is all very well for the Acting Prime Minister to say, as lie does, that the Tariff and the Budget proposals are inseparably linked together. They are not, except so far as regards the amount of revenue likely to be derived under the Tariff. In considering the Budget, we shall have no need to refer to the Tariff, except from the point of view as to how the Tariff will affect the probable revenue for the current year. There appears to be no reason whatever for delaying the consideration of the Budget. To do so will simply delay the consideration of the Tariff. It would conserve the time of the House to take the Budget discussion as soon as possible. When dealing with the Budget, we shall not consider the Tariff in any detail, or even as to its principles. They should be kept as distinct as passible. The Government should allow the consideration of the Budget to come on next Wednesday, as already decided, and not postpone it in the way the Minister contemplates. Does the Minister mean us to infer that there will not be a general discussion on the Tariff, when we come to deal with the schedule? I protest against this dallying on the part of the Government, particularly with the consideration of the Budget. It is quite evident to me that we should not have seen the Tariff for some time, if the importers had not begun to force’ the Minister’s hand. The Tariff was brought down in a hurry by the honorable gentleman, who knew nothing about it. He had not had time in which to master its details, as he had to confess on the floor of the House.
– I made the Tariff, and therefore knew all about it.
– My honorable friend made it so thoroughly that he knew nothing about it. He could impart no information to us. For instance, he could . not tell us what the bounty, proposals were. We do not know )ret what they are to be. We have had no indication on that point. I am surprised at the Minister smiling. The amount of the bounty may be a very small consideration with him. But, in view of the limit which we have reached in our spendings, I venture* to say that it is a very serious consideration with the country at large. I am surprised at the honorable gentleman smiling at so important a matter. However, his smiles ought not to deter us from’ asking the Ministry to proceed with the consideration of the Budget proposals at the earliest possible moment. What is to hinder that? I protest against this attempt to play with legislation!, which seems to h’ave characterized the Government ever since the House assembled. The sooner the Budget is .disposed of the sooner will the way be open for a fair and full consideration of the Tariff.
.- I quite agree with the honorable member that we ought to get to the discussion of the Budget at the earliest possible moment, but I think that when he expresses an entire inability to understand what reason can be actuating the Minister in declining to separate the discussions on the Budget and the Tariff, he is showing a certain amount of political innocence with which I should not have credited him. I find that the Minister is in rather a tight corner. He is very anxious to have a lengthy discussion on the Tariff ; but ‘he is not anxious to have other matters of policy discussed. He and his small party are supported here by a large party, whose main interest at the present time is the establishment of a Federal system of old-age pensions. The Acting Prime Minister has told us that he is not going to give them what they want.
– We shall have a few words to say oh that by-and-by.
– I think it is very obvious that the Minister is determined to have the Tariff and the Budget discussed at the same time, in order to take away from honorable members who are supporting him so loyally, the only opportunity which they will have in this session of discussing that which on every platform they say they firmly believe in.
Mr.CROUCH (Corio) [4.6]. - I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, whether the Tariff Bill will contain a provision which will secure to the employes in the protected industries some form of protection? That was promised bythe Prime Minister before the recent elections, and it is approved by a number of honorable members?
– That information was given at the meeting of the House to-day.
– The honorable member for Kooyong has asked a question regarding the return of money collected, if any increases of duties are not approved. In such cases the money was not returned on the last occasion, and the same procedure will be followed in the present instance. The Bill will contain a provision to that effect. It would be almost impossible to carry out the honorable member’s view. It could only be done in the case of unbroken packages, because, as he will see, it would be quite impossible to trace any goods which had been sold by the importers. For that reason, it is not intended to return any money which has been collected. In reply to the honorable member for Herbert, I desire to say that I have received from the managing director of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, a letter stating that they have imported 341 men under their permits, but do not intend to use any more of the permits. Therefore, the permits will be cancelled. I think that the deputy leader of the Opposition must have had his tongue in his cheek when he was speaking just now.
– Oh, no; we all agreed with him.
– He blamed me for wanting to postpone the consideration of the Tariff for a few days longer than he mentioned last night.
– No; the consideration of the Budget.
– It rests entirely with honorable members to say whether the general discussion on the Tariff and the Budget shall be taken together or separately. Itis. not likely, in fact, it is hardly possible that they can discuss the Budget without discussing the Tariff. I think it will save time to have one general discussion, because otherwise we should have a discussion on the Budget, and then a repetition of it on the Tariff.
– The Minister cannot avoid two discussions.
– I believe that if there is a good general discussion on both the Budget and the Tariff, in’ the first instance,’ it will save a great deal of discussion on the Tariff alone.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable member must not forget that I laid on the table to-day all the reports of the Tariff Commission. It will take some time to print those and the other necessary papers.
– Shall we want those papers for the consideration of the Budget ?
– The honorable member must know that the Tariff and those reports will be discussed, even on. the Budget. The figures used will afford the opportunity ; indeed, they cannot bereferred to unless the whole question is dealt with. The Budget papers, which are very voluminous, must also be printed. If all the information required is not complete and available when we come todiscuss the Budget and Tariff, honorablemembers will blame me. But before that discussion takes place, I wish to get rid of several measures now on the businesspaper. My principle is to deal with onemeasure at a time, and not let its consideration be side-tracked to bring another matter forward, unless it is absolutely necessary to do that. Consequently, I hope that where we commence to discuss the Budget and
Tariff we shall go right on with their consideration. In reply to a question asked bv the honorable member for Corio, 1 may say that this morning I stated that what is known as the new protection - protection for the employes - will be provided for in the Bill. It may not be quite the same as that in the Acts which we passed last year, but provision will be made for protecting employes as well as manufacturers.
– To do that effectively, industrial legislation must be under the control of the Commonwealth.
– I think that that would be a very good thing. In one of this morning’s journals is a statement which leads me to suppose that some of my remarks on the Budget last night may be misunderstood. I am supposed to have said that, when at the Conference in London, the Prime Minister and myself made offers equivalent to a bribe, promising that if Great Britain would give a preference to Australia, we, on our return, would do what we could to bring about the granting of preference by Australia to Great Britain. I did not make any statement of the kind. What I said was that in London I had stated - and I think the Prime Minister did so, too - that if we did not get all that we wanted, we should not resent our. treatment, but should propose a preferential Tariff for the advantage- of Great Britain, leaving it open to the British Government, if it liked, hereafter to give consideration to Australia.
– The Government proposes to help Great Britain by increasing the duties on the leading lines imported here from that country. “
– All the same, we are giving a very good preference to Great Britain. On Tuesday, .the Quarantine Bill will be proceeded with, and I shall ask for two. or three months’ Supply, the linder-Treasurer having informed me this afternoon that it will be necessary to pass a Supply Bill about the 12th, to make payments which are due.
– That will give us an opportunity to deal with the Budget?
– It is hoped that honorable members will not then deal with the Budget as a whole. I hope that we shall have no difficulty in getting’ the money required to meet the ordinary expenditure of the country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070809_reps_3_37/>.