3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Collection of Duties on Goods in Transit - Noticeof New Duties in Tasmania - Duties on Hats and Caps - Duties on British Manufactured Goods - Tariff Commission’s Recommendations and Reports.
– Will the Treasurer make an announcement to the House in regard to the practice which, I understand, he has declared likely to be adopted in regard to the cargoes of vessels which had unloaded at one Australian port before the new Tariff came into operation, but had nor landed the rest of their cargo at their remaining Australian ports of call ? I understand that in such cases it is intendednot to give to the importers at the first port of call an advantage over their fellows at the other ports. I have received a letter from Mr. W. R. Anderson, of Geelong, who says that he has goods on board the steam-ship Kent, which reached Adelaide last Monday week, and on board the steam-ship Narrung, which reached that port last Tuesday. He points out that the Adelaide importers by those vessels will obtain an advantage over him unless he is allowed to land his goods at the rates provided for in the old Tariff. I have also had a similar request from Messrs. Bright and Hitchcock, importers, Geelong.
– If any concession is to be given, should it not apply to Sydney, as well as to Geelong?
– I think so. Perhaps the Minister will make a statement covering the whole ground.
– I have received a telegram in which reference is made to the case of four or five steamers.
– Personally, I think that, unless there are very strong reasons to the contrary, consideration should he given to importers whose goods are in vessels which had touched at an Australian port before the new Tariff was imposed, although they may not have put out their cargo at all their Australian ports of call. Those importers are in a position very different from that of merchants who, on
Thursday last, had goods in bond, because bonded goods can be cleared at anytime, and those who kept their goods in bond until after the new Tariff came into operation did so on their own responsibility. If a vessel had touched at Fremantle, or any other Australian port, before the new Tariff came into operation, but had not visited all her Australian ports of call, the consignees of goods at the ports which she had not visited would not have had an opportunity to take possession of them on paying the old rates of duty.
– Is not what the honorable member is saying now contrary to what he said on Friday last ?
– No. I am repeating my statement of Friday last, and am not in the habit of saying one thing and meaning another. The matter is one for the Minister of Trade and Customs to deal with ; but, as I have been asked a question with regard to it, my reply is that I do not think it fair to differentiate between shippers by any vessel which had touched at one Australian port before the coming into operation of the new Tariff, but had not visited all her Australian ports of call. If means can be devised for treating all such shippers alike, I hope they will be adopted. Of course, I leave the matter entirely in the hands ofthe Minister of Trade and Customs; but I should advise him to try to meet consignees at ports other than the first port of call, who could not land their goods before the introduction of the new Tariff.
– It is a very dangerous thing to do.
– When importers are allowed to land their goods on payment of the old rates of duty, will the Government see that the goods are ear-marked, so that the public shall not be called upon to pay more for them ?
– When the last Tariff was being discussed in this Chamber, it was found that it would be difficult to return over-payments of duty in cases: in which packages had been broken, although it is possible where packages have not been broken. If repayments were madein the first case, importers would obtain a double profit.
– No refund at all should be given.
– I thinkthat, as a general rule, refunds should not be given ; but the position of consignees circumstanced like the gentleman mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Corio is distinct from that of other shippers. Once a vessel has called at any port of Australia, she must be regarded as having entered the Commonwealth, and ought to be ableto land her goods at all her. Australian ports if payment is made on them in accordance with the Tariff rates prevailing at the time of her first reaching Australia. Therefore I think that the position of importers by any vessel that had touched at one Australian port at the date of the introduction of the new Tariff, should be taken into consideration.
– Will the Minister expedite the decision of this matter as much as possible?
– I shall do nothing without consulting the Minister of Trade and Customs; but I have advised him on this subject, and I hope that, if he can, he will act on my advice.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if he is prepared to admit, under the old Tariff, all goods which, on the day on which the new Tariff was imposed, were in vessels then off the coast, or sighted?
– Or in vessels which had touched at one Australian port?
– Yes. Will the Minister allow the goods in all such vessels to be landed on payment of the old rates of duty?
– There is a great difference between the position of vessels which were sighted or off the coast on the day when the Tariff was imposed, and that of vessels which had touched at one port, and landed part of their cargo; they do not come within the same category. I have advised the Minister of Trade and Customs to place in the same position all importers by vessels which, on the day of the introduction of the new Tariff, had touched at an Australian port, and landed cargo there; but I have nothing to say in regard to goods in vessels which had been sighted or were off the coast on that date, because no part of those cargoes could be landed under the old Tariff, and all who were shippers by such vessels are in the same position.
– I point out that my question is directed to the Minister of Trade and Customs. I should like that Minister to answer it. I do not believe in sweating the Acting Prime Minister.
– I recognise the importance of the question, and, if the honorable member will give notice of it, I shall be pleased to answer it at a later date.
– I understand that when the Tariff was brought into operation, on Thursday last, no copy of it was available in Tasmania, so that the Customs authorities there were in complete ignorance as to the rates of duties to be levied next day.
– I am informed by the Minister of Trade and Customs that that is not correct; that the Tasmanian Customs officers were informed of the proposed changes. This information was given by telegram on the night on which the new Tariff was brought down.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the observation of the manager of the Denton Hat Mills in regard to the proposed new rates of duties on hats and caps, reported in Saturday’s Melbourne Age - that competition is very keen, and that a higher duty than that previously ruling was essential. “We expected a great deal more,” he said. The proposed duty on hats, caps and bonnets has been fixed at 35 per cent., and at 30 per cent., against Great Britain.
Mr. Geo. Bruce, chairman of the Denton Hat Mills, observed that a duty of 30 per cent. barely covered the difference between wages here and in competing countries - if it did cover it. In some cases the proposed duty was not sufficient.
In considering those statements will he bear in mind the following extract from the report of the Chairman at the last annual meeting of the Denton Hat Mills Company -
The year had been more successful than he had anticipated. The last alteration in the Tariff, as regarded hats, was a reduction, but the effect of this was more in shifting trade from one source to another than towards any diminution. Trade had really been better.
– The honorable member has asked rather a long question, but I happen to know a good deal about its subject-matter. I am rather pleased than otherwise, in view of all the statements which have been made, to find that the Tariff has not given satisfaction to some manufacturers. Though we received some communications from persons as to what they thought the duty on hats, caps, and other articles should be, the Minister of Trade and Customs and myself adopted the duty which we thought should be im posed, and if it has not given satisfaction to the manufacturers we are very sorry. At the same time, I have nothing whatever to do with their profits or their losses, and I think that the honorable member cannot reasonably accuse me of putting on duties in the interests of any particular manufacturers.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact thatgoods of British manufacture which are passing through the Customs House are charged at the rates specified for foreign goods?
– I do not know. If the honorable member will give notice of the question to the Minister of Trade and Customs, I dare say that he will receive an answer.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister when he can hope to get the promised return showing in parallel columns the old duties and the new duties ?
– An instruction for the preparation of the return was given on Thursday or Friday. I have not had time to make any inquiry as to the progress made with it, but I shall get the return for honorable members as soon as possible.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will have the return referred to compiled so as to show, in separate columns, the old Tariff, the new Tariff, the recommendations of the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission, and also those of the free-trade members of that body, so that we can have all the information in a compact form?
– The suggestion of the honorable member is worthy of consideration, because I consider that honorable members should know what the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission did recommend.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, if he allows importers, who could have landed their goods at Fremantle, to clear them at any other port in the Commonwealth at the old rates, he will make the provision by Bill since it involves an alteration of the Customs Act?
– If the honorable and learned member will give notice of the question I shall be pleased to afford him the information which he desires to get.
– As the reports of the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission were issued this morning, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister when the reports of the free-trade section of the Commission will be issued?
– I desire to have all the reports placed in the hands of honorable members at once and simultaneously; I am not aware of what has taken place. All I can say is that I laid the reports on th%s table of the House* the other night and moved that they be printed, and that the motion was agreed to.
– Some reports of each section of the Tariff Commission weire issued to-day.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, if any importers are allowed a refund of duties, he will take steps to insure that the customer is allowed to get, at reduced prices, the goods in respect of which the refund is made ?
– If the honorable gentleman will give notice of the question I shall be very glad to give him an answer. The point which he has raised admits of a great deal of discussion, and is surrounded with difficulty; because I am advised that although some of the manufacturers have not raised their prices, there is strong evidence that the retailers have raised theirs.
– Iri reference to the question of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, I may inform the House that several reports of the Tariff Commission were in type when they were tabled on Friday, and of course, it was possible to distribute copies of them immediately. The other reports were not in type, but chey will be printed and issued as speedily as possible.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether in order to facilitate the consideration of the Tariff he will have prepared for the use of honorable members a list showing the recommendations of the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission with which the Government have disagreed, and also the substituted and new proposals of the Government?
– I desire to afford the fullest information to honorable members, but whether I can get a return prepared exactly in the form suggested, I am not prepared to say. If the honorable and learned member will give notice of a question for to-morrow, I shall find out whether it can reasonably be done, and without undue delay. I have a great deal of information to get ready this week.. I do not want the discussion on the Tariff to be commenced without honorable members having all the information I can place before them.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer why the Excise duty on harvesters was not included in the Excise proposals which were laid on the table the other night?
– I hope to have, either on the basis of the Excise duty on harvesters or on a basis which may be simpler, the principle of what is called the new protection carried right through the Tariff. It would have been useless for me to bring in the Excise principle in regard to harvesters, strippers, and other articles if I am to deal with the whole of the Tariff under the system referred to, afterwards ignoring what I had proposed in the Tariff in the first instance. I have asked for, and I hope that I shall get, assistance in devising means which may be somewhat simpler than the Excise duties. I intend to make those means, whatever they may be, apply to all the main items in the Tariff.
– The position to-day is that the manufacturers can sweat their employes as much as they like.
– All I can say is that if I find, before the Tariff is made law, that such is being done, I shall take immediate action.
– As you, .Mr. Speaker, have control of the printing and issue of ‘ the reports of the Tariff Commission I desire to ask whether you will take steps to see that they are issued in a form which will be convenient for reference ; that is to say, that the reports of the free-trade members and of protectionist members shall be put together and issued as one document, instead of .separately ? Only to-day I saw some reports by the protectionist members, of the” Commission grouped together instead of being connected with the reports of the” free-trade members of that body. As a matter of convenience, I think that the reports of both sections of the Commission should, in each instance, constitute one document.
– Of course, I have only one anxiety in connexion with this matter, and that is to afford honorable members the utmost possible convenience. If the honorable member for Bendigo will confer with me at a later stage this afternoon I shall see how far his wishes can be met. Up till the (present, the plan which has been followed has been that all reports signed by certain members of the Commission have been placed together, and all reports signed by other members of the Commission have also been placed together, whilst reports which have been signed by the whole of the members of the Commission have been similarly grouped. If the suggestion of the honorable member be practicable, I shall be pleased to give effect to it.
– I wish to ask you, sir, whether it is any part of your duty to distinguish between’ those, members of the Commission who are protectionists and those who are free-traders, seeing that the so-called free-traders themselves do not now appear to know whether or not they are free-traders?
– I did not say that the reports had been grouped according to the free-trade or protectionist leanings of members of the Commission, but that those reports which had been signed by certain members of that body had been placed together, whilst those which had been signed by other members had also been placed together.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has laid upon the table the Departmental papers regarding patent medicines in accordance with the promise which he made to the honorable member for Corangamite last week?
– I have laid so many papers upon the table that for the moment I cannot answer the honorable member. If, on inquiry, I find that the papers have not been tabled I shall table them at the earliest possible moment.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Minister of Defence to the following statement in to-day’s Age -
Some doubt still exists as to the precise action that Commander Colquhoun has taken in England with regard to the calling of tenders for several torpedo craft and destroyers, to constitute the nucleus of an Australian coastal defence navy. The Minister of Defence yester7 day received information that tenders had been ^Invited in the London press. Mr. Ewing thereupon cabled to Commander Colquhoun that if lie had called for tenders he has exceeded his instructions. The Minister also asked for further information on the subject. Commander’ Colquhoun’s reply may be expected to-day- and to ask whether a reply to the Minister’s cablegram has been received?
– I have not stated that I expected a reply. One has not yet been received.
Alleged Tenders for Torpedo Boats
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether - if the statement which has appeared in the press that Commander Colquhoun has invited tenders for the construction of torpedo vessels in England, and has to that extent exceeded his instructions be true - the Minister will consider the advisability of his immediate recall?
– I do not think that I will consider the advisability of his immediate recall. In the first place, I would point out to the honorable member that before we censure him we must be perfectly clear that Commander Colquhoun has done wrong. I have no objection to telling the honorable member - I- really did not think it worth while to make a statement to the House upon the subject-
– It is a matter of no consequence.
– I do not think it is of very much consequence.
– The defence of Australia is a small matter.
– I do not wish to discuss that question with the honorable member. The facts are these-
– I would point out to honorable members that a question has been put to the Minister of Defence, who- is now giving information to the House. It is to’ the interests of all that that information should be heard by honorable members, and that conversations which prevent it being heard should not take place in the. Chamber.
– The facts of the matter are that some considerable time ago the Government’ sent Commander Colquhoun and Engineer Clarkson to England in order that the information which we have in our possession might be supplemented on the spot by two intelligent and capable officers who were deputed to inquire into defence matters generally and to collect all the information which could be obtained from the Admiralty authorities, so that ultimately we mightbe able to lay definite proposals before Parliament. These officers went to England, and, apart from private letters, I have heard nothing from them, but I read in the newspapers a statement thatthey had invited tenders for the construction of torpedo boat destroyers. Knowing that they are sensible men, I am inclined to believe that they have not taken the responsibility of doing what has been attributed to them. I am rather disposed to think that some misunderstanding has arisen, and that probably in the course of their investigations they have asked for quotations for the construction of these vessels, or something of that kind. Consequently I merely cabled asking them what are the facts of the case.
– They have ignored the Minister’s cable.
– They have not. The honorable memberknows that nobody can ignore the Minister.
– Has the Minister received a reply ?
– No, but we must give them sufficient time to reply. Honorable members do not wish to find fault with these officers unnecessarily. They are just as entitled to fair treatment as we are ourselves. Later on, I will tell the House the full facts of the case, and honorable members will find - as they will always find, so long as the administration of the Defence Department is in my hands - that they need not worry about this or any other similar matter.
– Seeing that it is the privilege of this House to vote Supplies for everything orderedby the Commonwealth, I desire to ask the Minister whether, in the event of it being proved that these officers have exceeded their instructions, and, so far, committed the Commonwealth to an expenditure which this House has not authorized, he will consider the advisability of their immediate recall?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I wish to say that it is not possible for two officers to compromise this House. Before anything can be purchased, the House must vote the necessary Supplies. I assure the honorable member that I will keep him au fait with this matter. As I obtain the information I will let him know all about it.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to inform the House when the cable asking for an explanation of the facts as related in the newspapers was despatched?
– It was despatched yesterday morning.
– When will the Minister be in a position to supply the promised return showing the rates of wages paid under the operation of the Excise upon the manufacture of agricultural machinery ? Will it be ready before the Tariff discussion takes place ?
– I hope to have it ready to-day, but it has not yet been placed in my hands. I shall take care that there is no undue delay in the giving of information in regard to this or any other question affecting the Tariff.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether Excise has been collected from the manufacturers of agricultural machinery who are not complying with the award of the Arbitration Court?
– Without knowing definitely the full particulars of the case, I may say that I gave the necessary instructions.
– Has the Excise been collected?
– Excise is not collected unless manufacturers commit a breach of the regulations.
– But some of them have never complied with the regulations.
– I cannot say. whether any manufacturers have committed a breach. Before Irelinquished Ministerial control of the Department of Trade and Customs I gave instructions that all manufacturers should be kept up to their undertaking. Whether that has been done,, I do not know. In one of the newspapers I read a report stating that the decision in a number of cases which had been heard by the Arbitration Court had been deferred by Mr. Justice O’Connor. I am not aware whether any of these come within the category of those referred to by the honorable member, but I will ask the Minister controlling the Department to make inquiries and to let him know the result.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is true that the sum of £1,000 has been paid to the Women’s Work Exhibition, and, if so, upon what authority? If there has been no authority for the payment will he be good enough to lay upon the table of the House any correspondence in connexion with the matter ?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I may say that this is the first time I have heard of the matter.
– The money is provided on the Estimates.
– I do not know whether the amount mentioned has been paid. I do not know every item which appears upon the Estimates, but I will make the inquiries which the honorable member desires.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, who, I understand, represents the Minister of Home Affairs, whether in the tenders called for the construction of a trawling steamer, provision was made for paying the standard rate of wages ?
– I may tell the honorable member that a general instruction has been issued that that provision shall be inserted in all contracts. I have not been called upon to deal with the special contract which he mentions. It is in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs, but I feel quite sure that the provision to which the honorable member refers has been made.
Medical Quacks’ Correspondence
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are : -
It may be added that the general method of dealing with recommendations for honours employed by the Colonial Office, has been the subject of several express protests from this Government. During the recent Conference in London, the Prime Minister, after consulting his fellow representatives, personally pointed out some serious defects of the existing method to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. So far, there has been no promise of any amendment.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view ofWorkmen’s Weekly 2nd Class fares in Melbourne and suburbs equalling 240 miles for 3s.9d., see page 150, Victorian Railway Guide, and in Sydney and Newcastle 408 miles for 5s., see page 169a, New South Wales Railway Guide, and in order to produce greater comity and friendship between the two large centres of population in Sydney and Melbourne (nearly one million of people), will the Acting Prime Minister request the Commissioners of Railways of Victoria and New South Wales, to consider the desirability of running a weekly train between Melbourne and Sydney on somewhat the same basis, viz., a return ticket, equalling 1,165 miles, for 20s., which would even then be an increase of 28 per cent., if the same rate as the said New South Wales Workman’s Ticket were charged ?
– It is somewhat difficult for me to reply to the honorable member’s question, in view of the fact that it deals with railways, over which we have no control.
– The Government might make a polite request.
– I never care to make a request that may be refused. In the particular case to which the honorable member refers, if circumstances arise which would warrant me in making a recommendation to any of the States Governments I shall be very glad to do so.
Consumption and Manufacture of Goods in Australia.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will take steps so that, when the Tariff is before the House, information may be available to members, approximately, as to -
The quantity consumed in Australia of the goods on which the proposed duty is to be levied, as compared with the quantity of such goods produced or manufactured in Australia, as the case may be?
Whether the production or manufacture of such goods is being carried on at a profit or otherwise, and to what extent?
– The answers’ to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Conran, a member of the Adelaide Stock Exchange, did, in an affidavit dated 4th September, 1905, make oath and say that “ the transactions between him and the said H. L. Conran were gambling transactions, and were illegal by section 12 of the Police Act Amendment Act of 1893 (No. 1),” although the transactions between H. L. Conran and Lieut. Russell were ordinary “bear” or other share transactions, so that he was unanimously expelled from the Stock Exchange at a special meeting held on 22nd May, 1906?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In March last a Military Board of Inquiry, the members of which were militia officers who are also members of the legal profession, was assembled at Perth to investigate the case of Lieut. Russell, whose character had been impugned. The Commandant reported that, after perusal, the evidence taken, the accusations against Lieut. Russell had not, in his opinion, been substantiated, but recommended that the papers be referred to the Crown Solicitor for his opinion on certain legal technicalities. The whole of the papers were then referred- to the Crown Solicitor for advice, as to whether any charge lies against Lieut. Russell under Military Regulations, and, if so, what. In his reply, the Crown Solicitor reviewed the case, and stated as follows -
The question I understand submitted to me is whether, if the above facts are found . by the Board of Inquiry to be true, they constitute charges against Lieut. Russell, under the Military Regulations (for which he could be punished), and, if so, what? I am not advising as to whether the charges are, in my opinion, proved or not - or what effect raising the defence in the affidavit referred to had on the action - but am confining this opinion to the above questions submitted for advice. I am also taking it for granted, the word dishonorably evaded payment by pleading the Gamins; Act, only means that it was dishonorable because it was pleaded at all - not because of any other act proved to the Board which was dishonorable. I am of opinion that the charges do not constitute an offence under the Regulations. The only one it, I think, could be considered to come under if any would be 23 of 236. “ Being an officer, behaves in a scandalous manner unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman.”
Iam of opinion that the Regulation was not intended to include any act unbecoming a gentleman, such as evading a debt of honour by pleading the Gaming Act ; but something that is, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman.
The Crown Solicitor was then asked whether the Department had any power under the Defence Act to take further action, and his reply was that any further action could not be taken under the Act or Regulations, because Lieutenant Russell had not committed any breach of same ; and, further, that, in his opinion, evading the payment of a debt by pleading the Gaming Act is not an offence against the Regulation quoted, although no gentleman would be likely to do it. The question ofamending the Regulations with a view of providing for cases similar to that under notice is now under consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th August, vide page 1742) :
Postponed clause 53- (1.) A quarantine officer shall make a careful inspection of all imported animals before they are delivered to the importer. (2.) If the imported animals are accompanied by a certificate of an approved veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment, certifying that he had examined the animals prior to their shipment, and that they then were in good health and free from disease, and the quarantine officer is satisfied that during the voyage they have not suffered from any disease or been exposed to infection, and were free from disease at the time of landing, and that there is no danger of their introducing any disease, he may, subject to the regulations, give to the importer a certificate to that effect, and may allow them to be delivered to the importer without being required to perform quarantine. (3.) In all other cases, the quarantine officer shall order the animals into quarantine.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) by leave withdrawn -
That after the word “ animals,” line 4, the words “other than horses or dogs” be inserted.
.- I move -
That after the word “ officer,” line1, the following words be inserted, “ who shall be a qualified veterinary surgeon.”
– We have dealt with that matter.
– No, this is a different matter altogether from that with which we have already dealt. This relates entirely to imported animals, and the question involved is one of great moment. It is absolutely impossible for any quarantine officer who is not a qualified veterinary surgeon to make a careful inspection of imported animals, and give any valuable opinion as to whether they are or are not diseased. The amendment would apply merely to imported animals, and would require the appointment of a qualified veterinary surgeon only at certain fixed ports. I can quite believe that no Minister would attempt to administer this Act without the services of such an officer. The AttorneyGeneral must admit that it is essential that the quarantine officer, whose duty it will be to examine imported animals, should be a veterinary surgeon, as otherwise his inspection would be valueless. In view of the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister, it is still more necessary to secure the services of a qualified veterinary surgeon for this work. My amendment would not apply to the inspection of animals transferred from one State to another. Any honorable member who knows anything about diseases of stock will agree with me that this work of inspection of imported animals can be properly done only by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
– The principle of the honorable member’s amendment has already been discussed several times. The Committee has been assured that every effort will be made to secure the appointment of qualified men for all these positions, but it was pointed out that there is not in every State machinery provided for the training of qualified veterinary surgeons.
– They could always be obtained.
– They might not. There is also to be considered the injustice which the amendment might involve to existing States officers, many of whom are thoroughly competent men. It would probably lead to the exclusion of some officers in the States services at the present time who, as a result of their experience in quarantine work, have become thoroughly competent for the purpose.
– In every State a qualified veterinary surgeon is employed for this work.
– In every State there are competent officers performing work of this nature, but they are not all legally qualified veterinary surgeons.
– They are.
– That may be the case in Victoria.
– It is also the case in Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia.
– I am not aware of it. In some of the States there is no means of obtaining a certificate as a legally qualified veterinary surgeon. I would ask the honorable member not to press his amendment. The question has already been fought out. Every time that a Department is taken over by the Commonwealth, we are urged not to do an injustice to States officers. The amendment, however, would probably have the effect of excluding competent men.
– Not at all.
– I think the amendment would have that effect, and I therefore ask the honorable member not to press it.
.- When this question was previously under consideration, I took up the position that it was properly one of Executive responsibility. Having closely examined sub-clause 2 of clause 53, however, I find that, in the light of that provisory there ismuch to be said for the amendment. In the first place, that sub-clause provides that if the imported animals are accompanied by a certificate of “ an approved veterinary surgeon” at the port of shipment, a certain procedure shall be adopted. Why should we apply to the port of shipment certain essentials which the Minister says we are incapable of applying to the port of landing? The Minister tells us that in some of the ports the services of a legally qualified veterinary surgeon could not be obtained.
– What I said was that I was not aware that there was in all the States a means of providing for the registration of a legally qualified veterinary surgeon.
– Then the sooner there is the better. I admit the justice of the Minister’s contention that there are States officers who are as competent as are veterinary surgeons to examine stock; but the honorable gentleman’s wish to safeguard the rights of those officers can be very easily observed, whilst at the same time we agree to the spirit of this amendment. All that is required is a slight verbal alteration, or the granting of a reserve power to the Minister, if he wished it, to keep in employment States officers possessing “ approved “ qualifications. In reply to the honorable member for Corangamite, the Minister laboured the injustice which he said would be done to States officers if the amendment were inserted. I should be very sorry to think that we should be so sensitive to the rights of States officers as to expose to the risk of infection the now healthy flocks of Australia. This amendment is really a safeguard against the introduction of disease which might prove absolutely destructive to the numerous stock upon which the prosperity of the country depends. If we are to consider existing rights, let us, at any rate, give first attention to the right of the people of Australia to keep their stock as free as possible from disease. If the amendment, having that object in view, is sound in principle, a consideration for the rights of this or that officer should not weigh for a moment with the Committee as against a desire to insure the safety of the stock of the continent. In the light of sub-clause 2 of clause 53, I shall have to review the decision at which I arrived at an earlier stage, when I took the view that the appointment of officers was properly a question of Executive responsibility. In. view of the provisions of that sub-clause, and for other reasons that have been submitted, I think it might be wise to insert the amendment. 1 therefore earnestly suggest to the Minister the desirableness of his adopting, at all events, the principle of the amendment, even if he cannot accept it i?i toto.
.- When we were dealing with clause 57, a similar discussion arose, and as this provision is associated with that clause, it would be wise to keep them in line as regards expression. We modified clause 57, by providing that the quarantine officer therein named should be one prescribed by the regulations, and, as the officer under this clause will have a similar duty devolving upon him, I should like to know whether the honorable member for Corangamite would not be satisfied with a like amendment.
– I should be satisfied with the amendment providing that qualified veterinary surgeons are prescribed.
– We should leave the selection of the officer to the Minister. We amended clause 57 by inserting the words “ as prescribed,” thus indicating the view of the Committee that it was desirable to have appointed officers possessing qualifications as experts. Under clause 57, as amended, the officer must be of sufficient competency. He might not be a veterinary surgeon, although, perhaps, in most cases he ought to be. I have not such a high opinion of the qualifications of some veterinary surgeons that I should like to put a ban on the employment of other competent persons available.
– I am quite prepared to accept an amendment similar to that made in clause 57.
– There is a great difference between providing that the officer examining stock at the port of shipment shall be a veterinary surgeon and leaving to the Minister the option of determining the capacity of the person appointed for such a purpose at the port of entry. If we provide that the person who. examines shall be a veterinary surgeon, we shall lose all control of the question of competency, whereas, bv allowing the Minister some latitude in this respect, we shall not do so.
Mr. STORRER (Bass) fa. 49].- I am rather surprised at the attitude of honorable members opposite who are so ready to raise the cry of “ States rights,” and to declare their implicit faith in the capacity of the States to manage their own affairs. If the amendment be carried, the inspectors of stock in Tasmania will be shut out; we shall not be able to take them over. Such officers as Mr. Tabart, whose certificate will be accepted in < any port of Australia, as well as Mr. Curtin, the inspector at Launceston, and others, who are not veterinary surgeons, but know as much about stock as some of those who are, would be excluded. The Minister is anxious to work in harmony with the States, but the amendment would not permit him to do so. Tasmania is quite satisfied to have as inspectors of stock the men to whom I have referred, and I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
.- I do not think that the proposal of the honorable member for Corangamite is necessary. He is naturally anxious, as every one of us must be, that competent men shall be appointed to make the necessary inspections under this Bill. I gather that what is in his mind is that there is a possibility of officers being deputed for work of this kind who may not have the qualifications essential to enable them to express an authoritative opinion upon the soundness or otherwise of animals which they are called upon to examine. But when he proposes that a duly qualified veterinary surgeon shall be appointed for the work, I can appreciate the difficulty with which the Minister may be faced in not being able, at a moment’s notice, to secure the services of a ‘ duly qualified veterinary surgeon for the purpose.
– It is never a question of appointing a man at a moment’s notice.
– There might be difficulties in the country districts.
– What difficulties?
– I would suggest that the honorable member .should withdraw his amendment, with a view to substitute the words “ duly qualified “ after the word “A.” The clause would then read -
A duly qualified quarantine officer shall make a careful inspection of all imported animals before they are delivered to the importer.
I take it that the desire is that an officer appointed for work of this kind should have the qualifications which would enable him to express an authoritative opinion, but, as has been pointed out, there are many men acting as stock inspectors who have not qualified as veterinary surgeons, but who, nevertheless, have all the qualifications necessary foi discharging their duties. As long as an officer possesses the necessary qualifications, he need not necessarily be a veterinary surgeon”.
.- The point that is now under review was threshed out last week, whilst the honorable member for Corangamite was absent. I proposed that the officer should be a duly qualified veterinary surgeon, and a compromise was arrived at to the effect that the officer should be “ duly prescribed.”
-iam prepared to accept the words “ as prescribed. “
– That means that there would be a regulation prescribing the qualifications of the officers. As representing a good many stock-owners, I naturally feel responsible for safeguarding their interests. I consider, however, that if the officer had to be duly prescribed for the particular work by regulation, it would be as great a safeguard as is really required for efficiency’s sake. I suggest to the honorable member that he should amend his amendment to make it read that the officer must be specially prescribed for the particular work of inspecting stock.
.-It is an unfortunate fact that throughout Australia we are at present behind the times with regard to veterinary work. Let me quote my own experience. After I had had eight years of close study in London hospitals, devoting myself during that time to pathology, I came out to Australia and went in for farming. I considered that my knowledge of pathology might be of some advantage to me in working amongst animals. But I felt that it was necessary to get further instruction in veterinary work. I therefore came to Melbourne, and went through a course of instruction at the Veterinary College, under Mr. Kendall. I devoted myself to a special class of study designed for farmers, and passed through that course. Since then I have had hundreds of horses and cattle, thousands of sheep, and a great number of pigs through my hands. But notwithstanding all the experience I have had in one way and another, publicly and privately, I always call in a qualified veterinary surgeon when any difficulty arises in connexion with my own stock. As that is what I do in private life, surely I am only faithful to my trust to the people when, in dealing with a matter of great public importance, I insist that the Government shall avail itself of the assistance of properly qualified veterinary surgeons for work of the kind contemplated under this Bill. Australia has been, is, and will be, so long as the temper of honorable members and of mem bers of the States Parliaments throughout Australia remains as it is with regard to veterinary science, behind the times. But the question is of very great moment to the country. The honorable member for Bass has lectured the Committee, as he usually does, for differing from him, and from the Minister.
– He merely expressed his opinions.
– Yes ; with the addition of a little lecture, which we all enjoyed. But if Tasmania has been behind the times in the matter of veterinary science, she will continue to be so unless she recognises that to become an efficient veterinary surgeon a man must be qualified not only by practical experience, but also by a course of study. Without both study and experience a man cannot undertake veterinary work to the satisfaction of the public, and the advantage of the country. It is unfortunately the case that in some States, Victoria being one of them, some inspectors of stock have been appointed who know nothing whatever about stock diseases.
– There would have been no Victoria except for Tasmania sending over sheep and cattle in the early days.
– We all admit that. Tasmania also sent over fathers and mothers for. our people. We are grateful to Tasmania for many things, though we are not always grateful to the honorable member for his lectures. The point at issue is that my amendment simply asks the Government to say that at all times, when imported animals have to be inspected, the work should be done by men who know something about the diseases of stock, and about the business of examination, and who do not proceed merely by rule of thumb. Take the case of a man who is qualified as a veterinary surgeon, and who is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons of London. Such a man is a scientist. A man who has gone through the course of instruction that is prescribed at the present day, and who is finally turned out as a M.R.C.V.S., commands respect on account of his science in any part of the world. I am well aware that we cannot get a sufficient number of members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to carry out the work under this Bill. But, nevertheless, there are sufficient men in Australia, some of them excellent veterinary surgeons, who have had practical experience, and who have gone through a course at the Melbourne Veterinary College or elsewhere. They command respect as professional men of high standing. What is required in Australia is that when such men have qualified themselves they shall have a chance of employment in this class of work.- No man, no matter what his experience with stock may have been, is qualified to discharge functions under this Bill unless he has studied the diseases of stock pretty deeply. It has to be recollected that the quarantine officers who will have to examine stock will require a knowledge, not only of the ordinary diseases of animals which occur from day to day on a farm, but also of the diseases of imported stock, some of them of an obscure character. Unless a man has studied veterinary science he is not qualified, and any certificate that he may give is not worth the paper upon which it .is written. A veterinary surgeon need not be always employed, but may be paid a retaining fee, so that he may be called in at any time to make an inspection.
– We must have a quarantine officer.
– That is so; all that I am suggesting is that a qualified man should be paid a retaining fee to examine imported animals. -There would then be security throughout Australia that all imported animals had been examined, and that, so far as up-to-date veterinary science was concerned, those animals were pronounced free from disease. It would be a standing disgrace if we permitted the present position in regard to veterinary science in Australia to continue. This is the national Parliament, and we ought to do something to encourage the States Parliaments to take some steps in the direction I have indicated. It would never do to permit, on sentimental considerations, unqualified men to continue to examine stock; we ought to be brave enough to say that qualified men must be employed upon such work. In the case of human beings, we regard all unqualified men as “ quacks “ ; and, in my opinion, unqualified inspectors, in the case of stock, are “quacks,” and, therefore, a danger. For example, the other day, in a case quoted in the newspapers, an inspector declared an animal to be suffering from the bot fly, whereas, on examination, the animal’s liver was found to be disintegrated, and it was shown to be suffering from pleurisy. There was a beautiful diagnosis !
– I have known veterinary surgeons make quite as big a mistake.
– And medical practitioners, too.
– It is quite possible that mistakes are made by both veterinary surgeons and medical practitioners; but the chances are always that, in 90 per cent, of the cases the medical man is right, whereas, in an equal percentage of cases, the “ quack “ is wrong.
– But the honorable member would not surely say that competent State officers are “ quacks,” because they are npt veterinary surgeons?
– I would put all inspectors who are not qualified in the category of “quacks,” if they undertake to examine an animal and give a certificate as to its freedom from disease. Why, we have known of State school teachers being appointed stock inspectors. What sort of live stock could ‘ they have examined previously ? Then we have known of butchers being given similar positions. What knowledge can a butcher have of the diseases of Stock? He may occasionally have come across a cow or other animal with tuberculosis, and may have acquired a knowledge of the appearance of diseased lungs after death; but the Bill deals with diseases before death. We want to safeguard a great and important industry, which can be safeguarded only in the way I have suggested. I have no other desire than to serve the best interests of the people. Many of the diseases introduced in animals are communicable to man’; and many of those diseases have never been seen by our stock inspectors, because, fortunately, the diseases have not been introduced, or, in any case, only in very rare instances. Any carelessness on our part might result in the introduction of a disease communicable to man, and its ravages might be widespread. And the blame for any such outbreak would fall on us who are responsible ; for that and the other reasons I have mentioned. I submit the amendment.
.- If the amendment be carried, we shall lose the services of all our Chief Inspectors of Stock.
– Not at all.
– We have had the services of these gentlemen for many years ; and Australia is to-day freer from disease than is any country in the world. Veterinary surgeons are not always right in their diagnosis ; and I should be very sorry to see all the power taken out of the hands of our Chief Inspectors.
– The amendment would not do that.
– But a beast could not be landed without the certificate of a veterinary surgeon.
– That is right.
– If the honorable member will so amend his amendment as to provide that the certificate shall be given by the Chief Inspector and a veterinary surgeon, I shall support it, but I do not like taking away the power from our Chief Inspectors. I do not know that there is a legally qualified veterinary surgeon in any of the States.
– In every State there are veterinary surgeons.
– I am not quite sure that those veterinary surgeons have diplomas; and if they have not, they would not be able to pass stock. I hope the honorable member will not press his amendment unduly.
– In order that honorable members might satisfactorily discuss this Bill, the AttorneyGeneral was good enough to place in our hands certain papers, which I understand he has collected for our inspection. One of these papers is a communication from Mr. S. W. Moore, Minister of Mines and Agriculture, New South Wales, and in it there is the following -
Further, there is no provision in the Bill as to the status of the quarantine officer to carry out the inspection of imported animals. Obviously this officer must necessarily be a qualified veterinary surgeon, but, evidently, so far as the provisions of the Bill go, a Customs House officer could legally carry out the inspection if authorized. The absence of any reference to the veterinary staff which will necessarily be employed for the satisfactory administration of the provisions of the Bill, detracts from its value as the manner in which the provisions of the Bill are given effect to becomes optional, and is, therefore, an unsatisfactory substitute for the excellent system which has been so successfully adopted in this State for some considerable period.
I point out to the Attorney-General, who has hada legal education, much in the same way as the honorable member for Corangamite had had a medical education, that all legislation of this kind should beguided by scientific principles. One of the first questions which a medical man is asked when he enters the witness-box is, “ Are you a qualified medical practitioner ? “ If the answer is in the affirmative, the evidence of such a witness carries considerable weight. And we would apply the same principle to the administration of this law. Enormous responsibilities will be placed in our hands if this Bill is passed. We propose to take from the States certain of their responsibilities, and necessarily it behoves us to discharge them satisfactorily. If an imported beast were condemned and killed, and action brought against the Commonwealth for damages, and if the Minister had to tell the Court, “ This man, who is an excellent officer, has been looking after cattle, sheep, and pigs,” he would be asked, “Is he a legally qualified man?” He would have to reply, “No; he is not.” The Court would say, “ Oh ! then on his evidence you destroyed the beast?” In such circumstances, any jury would, without hesitation, give a verdict for the plaintiff. On that ground, I suggest to the Minister that he should adopt the amendment of the honorable member for Corangamite.
.- I should like to supplement what I have already said on this subject on one point. The Minister appears to consider that we are now rediscussing a matter which was settled in Committee some days ago. He evidently thinks the same principle is at stake, but he willfind it is not so if he looks at this and the adjoining clauses. The last time the question was touched upon, the honorable member for Corangamite sought to provide that every quarantine officer who might be called upon to perform any of the duties under this Bill must be a duly qualified veterinary surgeon, but he was beaten. A majority of honorable members thought it would be tying the hands of the Executive too much to take such a step. The Minister will find that the present proposal applies only to this clause. It declares that before animals are handed over to the importer, and left free to mingle with the herds of Australia, they shall be declared clean from disease. Surely that is a very fair safeguard. Had it related to the previous clause, which makes it necessary that a quarantine officer should order stock into quarantine, I should have regarded it as unnecessary. The question before us is not that of ordering stock into quarantine as in clause 52, or of examining and ordering into quarantine as in clause 55, but is a question of allowing stock out of quarantine, and the least we can do, having due regard to our responsibilities, is to impose some such safeguard as has been recommended by the honorable member for Corangamite. The medical fraternity seem to be agreed on this point, and the report read by the honorable member for Hunter appeared thoroughly to substantiate our position. I therefore urge the Minister to insert this provision in this one clause. It will not tie his hands with, regard to any other clause of the Bill. If he wishes to safeguard the rights of existing and qualified State officers by exempting them from the amendment of the honorable member for Corangamite, I am sure that honorable member will be only too ready to meet him half way, if, by so doing, he is not sacrificing the public interests. I know the Minister is skilled at drafting amendments, for I have often seen him suggesting them from almost the same place as that now occupied by the honorable member for Corangamite.
– The Minister might suggest a bridge now.
– If the honorable member will accept it, I will propose one.
– I think the Minister willbe able to suggest a compromise, which could readily be effected.
– The honorable memoer for Angas made a suggestion on a previous clause which I think will aptly fit this one, and which I think, appealed to the honorable member for Capricornia at the time as meeting his desires. It was to insert the words, “ prescribed for the purpose. “ That means that for the purpose of importing stock it will be necessary to prescribe certain specified officers to do the work. The intentionwhich such an amendment would undoubtedly convey to the mind of any one administering the Act would be that persons specially competent for the purpose must be appointed.
– Why not say so?
– We will say so in effect. The clause will not say any quarantine officer’ who can do the work, but an officer prescribed for the purpose. The representations made by the honorable member for Bass, in a speech which was rather inaptly described bv the honorable member for Corangamite as a lecture, are very much in point. Instead of its being a lecture it was, as the remarks of the honorable member for» Bass always are, a valuable contribution to the debate. He pointed out the injustice that might happen to specially qualified t men if the honorable member’s amendment were carried in the words in which he presents it. I quite agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that it will be more and more necessary to require persons’ filling High positions in the administration of the Act to be skilled.
– Why not insert it in the Bill?
– For the reason that there are skilled persons in all the States at the present time carrying on occupations such as this who have not had the opportunity to qualify by securing certificates from any University or other educational institution. How- many States in Australia provide machinery to enable persons to obtain certificates of their qualifications ?
– They can be got in- Victoria.
– Victoria is an admirable part of Australia, but it is not the whole of it.
– A great many students come :from other parts of Australia to study at the Melbourne University. I have known them to come from Queensland.
– I hope they profited bv the instruction they received. I know it has left a feeling of gratitude in their hearts towards Melbourne institutions, and the Melbourne people generally, and that they have tried their best to make some return for what Melbourne has done for them. It would be unjust to insert the words which the honorable member for Corangamite suggests. I am quite prepared to accept the previous suggestion of1 the honorable member for Angas, to insert the words “ prescribed for the purpose.” That is a bridge which will carry into Australia very few stock other than, those we want here. The honorable member for Corangamite might accept those words. This is undoubtedly a serious matter when one comes to deal with a country like Queensland, with its enormous coastal area, extending as it does from Normanton, and embracing all the ports down the eastern coast. It might be desired to land stock at any of these places, and it would be a terrible thing if, simply because there was not a qualified veterinary surgeon at Normanton, we had either o delay the ship and detain the animals until a veterinary surgeon reached that port, or else send the ship right down to Brisbane in order that the stock might be passed there. I do not want to make the Act so rigid that one cannot administer it.
– Neither do I.
– Then does not the honorable member see that if he requires us, in States like Western Australia and Queensland, with their wide coastal areas, to have at each port where it is desired to land stock a veterinary surgeon who is a quarantine officer, we may be doing a very serious injustice? If there are State officers who are admittedly competent, why should not their services be retained for the purpose? I do not know how many veterinary surgeons there are in the Queensland Public Service at the present time. I know that not many of the inspectors under the Stock Acts in all the Australian States are certificated veterinary surgeons.
– None of the Chief Inspectors of Stock are.
– Very few of the inspectors under the Stock Acts are.
– Then do not expose our disgrace in this Parliament.
– It is not a matter of exposing a disgrace, but of drawing attention to facts. Men who have lived all their lives amongst stock have a fairly good knowledge of animal diseases.
– They think that they have, but I could mention many deplorable mistakes.
– They know enough to be able to recognise disease.
– The men appointed to these positions will be competent for the duties required of them. There maybe a test of competency.
– Then why not include it in the Bill?
– We are going to prescribe it. The honorable member for Corangamite regards, as the only evidence of competency, the possession of a veterinary surgeon’s diploma; but if that were insisted on, men like Mr. Tabart, and others who are admittedly competent, would be excluded. The appointments to positions of this kind must in future be made more and more from men who have had a scientific training ; but we ought not to do an injustice to State officers, or make the measure practically unworkableby providing only one or two ports for the landing of stock, which would be the effect of requiring the appointment of veterinary surgeons at all such ports. To require the appointment of veterinary surgeons at such ports as Townsville and Rockhampton, behind which there is country carrying a large number of stock, might unduly hamper the working ofthe measure.
.- It has not been complained during the debate that diseases of stock have been admitted into Australia under the present system, which is evidence that the work of the existing quarantine officers has been satisfactory. The honorable member for Corangamite spoke of the existence of diseases unknown in Australia. Probably even veterinary surgeons are acquainted with such diseases only from their reading of the text-books. We have a number of stock inspectors who would not find if difficult to pass as veterinary surgeons.
– Then why do they not do so?
– There has not been the inducement. I know one inspector who is a very capable man in regard to diseases of horses, cattle, and sheep, and an excellent bacteriologist. He has made such a close study of the diseases of animals that he is equal to any veterinary surgeon, and in advance of such as have only just passed through the veterinary colleges.
– Does the honorable member regard the non-unionist as equalto the unionist?
– Other considerations, such as those to which the Minister has referred, arise in this instance. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that we should have the best officers obtainable ; but we can get efficient officers without insisting on the appointment of veterinary surgeons. If we require that only veterinary surgeons shall be appointed for this work, we shall be making positions for persons who have only just passed their examinations, and who, although theoretically qualified, have little practical experience. I prefer the man of much experience to the man who has only just passed his examinations. When we imagine that we are ill, we go, not to the young doctor, however brilliant his university career may have been, but to the practitioner of experience. We could not obtain the service’s of veterinary surgeons of long-standing at outoftheway places, and therefore if we insisted on the appointment of veterinary surgeons to such ports, we should Gave to take men who had only just qualified. There is this safeguard against the introduction of disease, that, if Parliament were sitting when diseased animals were admitted, the Government would very soon be asked for an explanation. What we need are men who have a practical acquaintance with the diseases of horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, fowls, geese, and all kinds of animals and birds likely to be imported; and we shall do better by appointing men of long experience than youths who have only just obtained their diplomas.
.- The Minister told the Committee that 1 was satisfied with an amendment already passed, though, as a matter of fact, in that case I took rather what I thought I could get than what I thought was needed. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that it is highly desirable that we should, where possible, employ veterinary surgeons. There is not much in the contention that, if veterinary surgeons were* employed, the present State officers would lose their positions ; because the only occasions upon which veterinary surgeons will be absolutely necessary will be when certain beasts have to be examined. I recognise that we could not have a veterinary surgeon always on- the spot at every port of landing ; such men would not be always available at places like Normanton and other ports of large stock districts. If the honorable member would amend his amendment so as to provide for a quarantine officer “ as prescribed, to be a qualified veterinary surgeon where available,” that should meet the case.
– If such an amendment were agreed to, existing State officials would have to be set aside where veterinary surgeons were obtainable.
– The appointment of veterinary surgeons should certainly be insisted on in connexion with a port like Sydney. It would not be creditable to us to provide for the appointment of any other men.
– In every State the Government have a veterinary surgeon attached to the Stock Department, In Sydney there are Mr. Stewart and Mr. Cameron, and in Brisbane the Government have an officer.
– Take the port of Rockhampton.
– I am not quite sure, but I think that there is a veterinary surgeon at that port. If my suggestion be adopted, it will mean that if such a man be available he will be detailed to examine and pass a beast. It will not involve the dismissal of one man and the appointment of a man who is a veterinary surgeon. If the Minister will amend his amendment in that direction I shall support him very heartily. My suggestion removes the -only difficulty which he has put forward, and that is that we should be displacing well-tried State servants. Our quarantine officers and stock inspectors will not be interfered with in any way.
– I think that the honorable member for Capricornia, although he is a novice,’ deserves the thanks of the Committee for providing a far stronger and safer bridge than the Minister has done. L should be very loath to indict the latter’s engineering capacity, but I cannot see that his bridge provides a safe passage for quarantined animals into Australia. To provide, as the Minister desires, that the animals have to be passed by a quarantine officer as “ prescribed “ merely . inserts the intention of “ the Committee in the Bill, and that ‘ is that the Government shall have power to prescribe who is to do all these things. It does not give any .indication to the Executive in the future that we intend that only the most highly-qualified officers shall do the work. For the Minister to provide that the officers are to be “ as prescribed “ is to give the Executive an even greater discretion in choosing their officers, whether qualified or not, than it would have without his amendment. I think that his bridge is a very unsafe one. It is one over which I should not like to send a dog, let alone all the stock we hope to see passing across it. The suggestion of the honorable member for Capricornia meets every objection which has been urged. Therefore I earnestly impress upon the Minister the advisableness of safeguarding the stock, the stock-owners, and the material interests of this country in the way now suggested.
– - The suggestion of the honorable member for ‘Capricornia seems to me to be a reasonable one, and it meets with my approval. While I think that there should be some elasticity in the Bill with regard to Inter- State quarantine and the passing of stock across the borders, still I should relax no precautions so far as the ports are concerned, because, in my view, the safeguards there ought to be of the strictest possible character. Only the other day I read that in New Caledonia there are diseases, particularly’ a disease which is rapidly decimating dogs, which has not yet obtained a foothold in Australia. With these unknown and uninvestigated diseases in contiguity to Australia, it becomes a matter of the highest moment that the duly qualified officers under this Bill shall be officers who are certified as possessing the requisite knowledge and skill to perform the duties which it assigns to them. I hope that the Minister will consent to waive his amendment in favour of the course which has been suggested by the honorable member for Capricornia, and which provides the requisite variation in practice by the insertion of the words “where available.” Of course, if thereis none of this skill available, then the next best skill must be obtained. Everything is provided for. But, so far as the main ports of Australia are concerned, I think that, in spite of the Bill, it ought tobe a very solemn obligation on the Government to see that no one but a duly qualified veterinary surgeon shall take the oversight of the importation of stock. We cannot be too careful in our efforts to keep out diseases. There are some diseases which have not been introduced yet. When diseases are introduced, it seems to me that they thrive here in a way in which, perhaps, they do not thrive in any other country. One reason why we ought to have prohibition of diseases as far as possible is to be found in the ravages which they make, and in the facility with which they seem to spread and multiply once they get through the quarantine which we impose. With regard to the necessity of having the requisite skill for investigating these matters at the port of entry, we ought toremember that very often diseases are latent for a great length of time. I quoted here the other day the case of a dog which developed hydrophobia seven months after the time when it was proved that he took the disease into his system. That is a disease that we want to keep out of Australia if possible. That case, I think, occurred in the Island of Corfu, off the coast of Greece. One cannot imagine what would be the result to our stock if a disease like that broke out amongst our dogs.
– But a veterinary surgeon would not have discovered that the dog was diseased at the moment of entry.
– I do not know who discovered the disease in the dog, but it does not take much to discover it after it has broken out. When once disease breaks out in that way, it does not require any “ discovering,” but we do need the requisite skill to detect these diseases in their latent forms, and to prevent the possibility of their gaining a foothold in Australia. Therefore, we should leave something to the discretion of the Minister in regard to Inter-State quarantine, whilst rigidly insisting upon the maintenance of a proper standard of skill and ability, so far as the main ports of Australia are concerned.
.- I wish to indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Capricornia. I think that quarantine officers should be qualified veterinary surgeons where the latter are available. Such a provision would meet the objections which have been raised in regard to our northern ports. I regret that the Minister will only agree to the insertion of the words “ as prescribed,” because those words have already been inserted in clause 57.
– Their insertion here is necessary for the sake of consistency.
– The Attorney-General’s, desire for consistency is not a sufficient reason for the rejection of the amendment.. The honorable gentleman agrees that it is necessary to have our veterinary science brought up to date. The work of examining imported animals for blood diseases is of a special character. It is very important work, and it is only certain officers who can perform it with any degree of satisfaction to the public. I ask leave to amend my amendment by adding to it the words “ where available.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I should like to know who is to decide the question of when a veterinary surgeon’s services are available?
– The Minister.
– In some cases a veterinary surgeon might be available100 miles from the port of entry, or twenty miles distant from it. Again, he might demand the sum of£100 as a retainer, although he might be called upon to examine only one beast a year.
– That is a ridiculous supposition.
– I have been accused on a former occasion of delivering a lecture here, and, therefore, I do not propose to reply to the remarks ofthe honorable member for Corangamite, who has cast a slur upon Tasmania. That State may be slow, but it has, at least, succeeded in excluding from its shores all infectious diseases in stock without the employment of veterinary surgeons. To my mind, it is a pity that honorable members cannot address themselves to this subject without being personal. We should be very careful before we insert the words “ where available “ in this clause. It is quite easy to conceive instances in which only one man’s services might be available, and he might, therefore, be in a position to levy whatever charge he thought fit. I shall vote against the amendment.
.- The honorable member for Bass has probably a better knowledge of the Government which he supports than have other honorable members. But if he wishes the Opposition to believe that the Government is so absolutely foolish as to place upon the words “where available” the interpretation which he suggests, I say that he is asking us to take altogether too hopeless a view of the present Executive. The Government will construe the words in a common-sense way, and, holding that view, I am ready to trust the Ministry to a degree that the honorable member apparently is not.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment. The Attorney-General has already indicated that he is prepared to agree to the insertion of the words “ as prescribed,” which have already been embodied in clause 57. I wish to point out that we are taking over the work of quarantine, and with it, as far as possible, the States officers who at the present time are administering the States Acts. We are going to keep faith with them, I hope, just as we kept faith with the officers of the Postal and Defence Departments. They were assured that their positions would be secured.
– The adoption of the amendment would not alter their position.
– Undoubtedly it would. It would make it necessary at every port of entry where a veterinary surgeon was practising to employ him in preference to the officer at present doing the work, who is not so qualified.
– Who does the work at present ?
– The officers appointed by the States Governments.
-I can assure the honorable member that they call in aqualified veterinary surgeon onevery occasion.
– What is to prevent the Minister from doing that if we insert the words “as prescribed” ? Why should we embody in the Bill a provision to which effect is already being given?
– Because the responsibility rests with us.
– Nobody will accuse the honorable member of shirking his responsibility if he agrees to the insertion of the words “ as prescribed “ instead of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Corangamite. With regard to the. question of the qualifications of these officers,I would point out - I have made the statement again and again - that there are in the employ of the States at the present time a number of officers who, by reason of their special opportunities for acquiring knowledge, have fitted themselves for the discharge of this particular work, although they do not possess the legal qualifications.
– Are they qualified to examine a beast for rinderpest?
– I believe that these men are just as competent as those who pass through the veterinary colleges. Fortunately we have no rinderpest in Australia. There is one marked difference between qualified and unqualified men in this regard. The unqualified man has simply to recognise the disease; the qualified man may be called upon to prescribe for it, and to decide what shall be done with it.
– Would he prescribe upon the diagnosis of the unqualified man?
– I do not think so.
– I am amazed to hearthe honorable member say, in effect, that diagnosis is much easier than therapeutics.
– I do say that, to any man who has been reared amongst stock, it is very much easier to diagnose diseases of stock than to treat them. I am aware that the honorable member for Corangamite has given special attention to this matter of veterinary qualifications. I am told that, as a matter of fact, the honorable memberhimself possesses a veterinary qualification.
– No, I do not.
– Speaking seriously, I believe that this work can be done quite effectively in the way proposed by the Government. I do not see why, at this late hour, we should commence to prescribe a legally qualified veterinary practitioner for the inspection of animals when we have not in any part of the Bill specified that a legally qualified medical practitioner shall do the work required to be done in connexion with the quarantine of human beings.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Wilson’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That after the word “officer,” line1, the words “ prescribed for the purpose “be inserted.
– I move -
That after the word “animals,” line 4, the following words be inserted : “ (other than camels, horses, or dogs), come from a country declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be free from disease affecting animals of the kind of those imported and “
The honorable member for Capricornia raised this point, and thought it advisable that this clause should not be so widely, worded as it was. In answer to the honorable member, it was pointed out that the reason why the clause was drafted in its present form was that there were one or two countries free of diseases of stock with which a trade in stock could be carried on without the necessity for putting every animal coming from those countries into quarantine. The honorable member was reminded, at the same time, that the clause provides that all animals imported shall be very closely inspected. However, in order to meet the honorable member’s objection, and carry out more effectively the intention of the Government, it is proposed that the principle adopted should be that animals coming from all countries should come under these provisions. An exception is made only in certain specific cases. If we are satisfied that a country is free from disease, it may be so declared. Where that is done, the onus will be on the Administration in every instance of making inquiries, and finding out whether the country declared to be free from disease is really free from it. As a case in point, if it were found that New Zealand was free of particular diseases affecting particular animals, the provisions of sub-clause 2 of this clause would apply.
– Why are camels, horses, and dogs the only animals excepted ?
– I think the honorable member will find that exception in the New South Wales Act.I believe it was pointed out by the New South Wales authorities that the animals mentioned are peculiarly susceptible to diseases, and it is found advisable, even though they should be imported from countries declared to be free from disease, that they should not be allowed to enter the Commonwealth without undergoing a period of quarantine.
– I believe that in some of the States the period of quarantine provided for is very long.
– In New South Wales the period is six months.
– At all events, the amendment is designed to meet the case pointed out to us.
Amendment agreed to.
– The honorable member for Angas made a further suggestion - which I promised at the time to adopt - that an officer admitting animals into Australia should be required to make a report to a responsible officer in the State in which he took action. We have, at present, no such complete organization of the Department as would enable us to specify who shall be the “ responsible officer “ ; but I have overcome the difficulty by framing an amendment requiring that a report shall be made to the “ Minister,” who, under a previous clause,” has power to delegate any functions under the Bill to different officers. It will thus be competent for the Minister to appoint the officer in each State t’o whom such a report shall be made.’
– The Minister is named in some similar measures.
– That is so; but the Minister administering a measure applying, as this does, to the whole of Australia, will often be so far from the port of landing that we have of necessity to give power to him to delegate certain functions tb officers in outlying places. I move -
That after the word “officer,” line 9, the words “ has reported to the Minister that,, he “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
– This clause gives rise to the whole question of whether or not quarantine should be imposed in respect of all stock entering Australia, and whether or not it should be conditioned. The provision as it stands will, if passed, mean a very radical departure from the practice hitherto adopted in New South Wales. Camels, horses, dogs - in short, stock of every kind - on entering New South Wales, must undergo six months quarantine irrespective of whether or not they are free from disease. There is a long standing grievance among the people there regarding the way in which quarantine is evaded by resorting to practices obtaining in some of the other States. When we were last discussing this matter, I pointed out the difference between the treatment of dogs entering New South Wales, and that of dogs entering this State. Here, there used to be private quarantine, and I am assured that dogs intended to be imported into New South Wales were often put ashore at Melbourne, where they went into private quarantine, and were subsequently taken quietly across the border. If the clause be passed, it will mean, to say the least, a very radical departure from the quarantine system in force in New South Wales. There we do hot accept, any one’s certificate as to the health of an imported animal. It is put into quarantine the moment it arrives, and has to remain there for six months, so that any latent disease may have time to develop. I do not discuss for the moment the question of whether such a system is, in its entirety, a wise one. Perhaps it is a little severe, but, at any rate, it is safe, and our first obligation, with regard to the quarantining of animals is to insure security from disease. Shall we have sufficient security under the Bill as proposed by the Minister? We are told that it will be within the discretion of the Minister to permit imported stock to forego quarantine.
– That course would be followed only in the case of ‘animals that had complied with the provisions of sub-clause 2.
– I was about to say that it would be conditioned. In- the first place there is to be a certificate of an approved veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment certifying that - he had examined the animals prior to their shipment, and’ that they then were in good health and free from disease.
How can a veterinary surgeon, at the port of embarkation, certify that when they land they will not have in their system the latent germs of some epidemical disease ?
– There is also the condition that animals so treated must have been imported from a country declared to be free from disease.
– That is’ a very material and necessary condition. I confess candidly that I should prefer some automatic quarantine of all stock entering Australia. Let it be a short period, if honorable members desire it.
– That is the practice in South Australia, where the period of quarantine is prescribed, and in some cases is very short.
– We can do the same under this measure, and it probably will be done.
– I hope it will be. It is of the very gravest importance that we should prevent the introduction of new, and, indeed, old diseases, so far as lies within our power. An animal examined by the most expert and skilful man obtainable at the- port of embarkation, and declared by him to be free from disease, might still develop some latent disease on the voyage, or after landing on our shores.
That is what we desire to avoid, and the only safe course to adopt is to require that all stock, irrespective of where it comes from, or of the certificates of those who have examined it at the port of shipment, shall go into quarantine. After sufficient time has elapsed to prove beyond possibility of cavil that there is no danger of any latent disease breaking out, then, and only then, should they be admitted into the interior of Australia. Had such precautions been taken years ago, Australia would have avoided losses amounting to millions of money in respect of stock that have fallen victim to various fell diseases. I am, therefore, glad to learn from the Minister that the Government do not contemplate opening wide the door generally in respect to importations of stock, but that on the contrary, they propose that all animals shall be ordered into quarantine for at least a sufficient period.
– I can assure the honorable member for Parramatta that our object in inserting this clause was not in any way to remove all necessary restrictions in regard to the importation of stock. Our intention is that it shall be used only in very exceptional cases. In the first place, it must.be certified that animals dealt with under it have come from a country declared to be free from disease. That, in itself, will necessitate an investigation. Then there must be a certificate by a veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment that the animals are in good health, and free from disease, whilst on arrival here they are to be subjected to a further examination by an officer, who must report to the Minister. I can assure the honorable member that if I am in any way responsible for the administration of this measure all stock otherwise will go into quarantine for periods which will be prescribed.
– The more I examine this clause the more I am satisfied that it is contemplated under it to allow some imported stock to be admitted without going into quarantine. That is clearly the intention of sub-clause 3. It is clear that under that provision the relaxation of the stringent provisions in force in New South Wales is contemplated. I very much regret that it is so.I do not see the use of the clause at all. The Bill would be very much stronger in every way without it. If the matter were left to the respon sibility of the Minister without any such directions as these - because they are directions only in the way of leniency, not of greater strength - it would be preferable.I should like to see the clause eliminated from the Bill. We cannot be too strict with regard to the introduction of imported stock.
– In support of what has been mentioned by the deputy leader of the Opposition, I may say that a fear has been expressed by competent quarantine officers in South Australia in regard to this clause. It is an exceptional provision, and these officers are very much afraid that animal diseases will be allowed to creep in under it.
– Is there any necessity for it?
– I do not know why the clause was inserted at all. I do not think that it is really necessary, because without it the period of quarantine in regard to any particular animal could be prescribed. Where there is very little danger, of course the regulations could prescribe the shortest period possible. But if there were such a likelihood the quarantine could by regulation be extended. The Bill will work automatically in the ratio of the increasing fear. But unless the Minister is very cautious, and provides for regulations to neutralize the clause in respect of some animals, it may very well be that diseases will be imported which will be disastrous to our flocks and. herds. In Western Australia camels have been allowed to land which are spreading one of the direst diseases to stock. I dare say that the Minister over there would have said beforehand that there was not the slightest danger. But it has occurred, and it behoves us to be very careful that fresh diseases are not introduced.
– I think it is very necessary that stock from abroad should be put into quarantine until in the opinion of officers of the Quarantine Department it may safely be withdrawn. A little while ago, in Tasmania, some animals freshly imported from England developed warbles, which is a well-known disease of cattle, after they had been in quarantine for some time. That stock was apparently clean and healthy when it landed. Had the animals been liberated the disease would have been spread throughout the State. Animals from outside Australia should certainly go into quarantine until after a very rigid examination. If this precaution be not taken, all sorts of pests will be introduced, which will simply decimate our flocks and herds. I agree that the clause is not required at all. Every provision has been made for the free interchange of stock between States, and we do want if we can to stop the importation of diseases such as that which the honorable and learned member for Angas has indicated as having been introduced by camels into Western Australia. I fear that if the clause remains in the Bill it will be a distinct source of weakness, and may have a serious effect.
.- It is most important to keep out stock diseases of every sort. Considering our vast interests in stock, the. utmost precautions should be used. The Minister should be very careful indeed, even when the country from which stock is imported is supposed to be clean, to quarantine imported animals until all possibility of danger is removed. The honorable and learned member for Angas has mentioned the mischief occasioned by the introduction of disease in Western Australia through the medium of camels. I urge the Minister to take the most ample precautions to insure that our large Commonwealth interests in this respect are safeguarded to the utmost extent.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 13a. Where the Governor-General is satisfied that any laws or regulations of a State, or of an authority constituted under a State, with respect to the introduction of animals or plants into the State-
are in part or in whole unnecessary for the purpose of preventing the introduction of disease into the State, and
have the effect of interfering with freedom of trade or commerce among the States, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, direct that those laws or regulations shall cease to apply, or shall apply subject to such restrictions, limitations, or modifications as he directs.
This clause affects the introduction of animals or plants from one State to another. Where plants or animals are being introduced into a State, and the regulations of that State, which are in whole or in part unnecessary for the purpose of preventing the introduction of disease, have the effect of interfering with the freedom of trade and commerce amongst the States, the Governor-General is given power by proclamation to direct that those regulations shall cease to apply; or, if they do apply, he may direct that they shall apply with such restrictions, limitations, or modifications as he may direct. The object is to prevent the unreasonable use of such powers by a State. They may be used not merely to prevent the spread of diseases, but practically to stop trade. The honorable member for Brisbane submitted an amendment, which honorable members opposite preferred at the time, in which he endeavoured to provide that certain powers should not be exercised unless the Governor-General certified that the execution of such powers by a State operated in a manner prejudicial to the interests of any other State of the Commonwealth. What we have done, in this case, is to confine ourselves to matters with which we have power to deal. The power now sought has already been exercised in the case of the Post and Telegraph and the Defence Acts.
– There was a great debate on that point; and there was a strong opinion against allowing the States laws to be neutralized at the discretion of the Minister.
– I am afraid that the Government are only creating a row.
– Not at all ; what we are doing is with the object of preventing a row. For instance, if one State were exercising powers, as against the other five States, so as to exclude the goods of those five States, the Commonwealth would have power to make regulations. This is really only an exercise of that power. The Defence Act and the Post and Telegraph Act contain sections setting forth when the States Acts shall cease to apply; and the power sought is a necessary power, which, however, will not be exercised unless the necessity arises.
– It may be a dangerous power.
– I do not think it a dangerous power. It will be a power exercised only in such cases in which the GovernorGeneral is satisfied that there is an undue interference with trade and commerce between the States. If we have the power to make our own regulations as to the importation of animals from State to State, there is the power to make our law override State legislation; this is practically giving a supremacy of our regulations over State regulations. We have the power to make regulations, and our regulations prevail. The desire is not to take away from States any power which we can leave with the States; but this reserve power is desirable, so that it may be exercised if necessary.
– Had the Minister the fruit business in his mind when he drew this clause?
– There has been trouble about the fruit business.
– The fruit business?
– We had in our mind such a case as a State seeking to exclude the produce of other States in such a way as to interfere with the freedom of commerce.
Mr.mc Williams. - We have power without this clause.
– We have power to make regulations, and I take it that this is an exercise of the samepower.
.- In my opinion, the clause will lead to a great deal of dissatisfaction. No doubt the Minister will have power, from time to time, to suspend the operation of a State law if he so pleases ; and he may do that in the case of one State, and not of the five other States. If trouble arose, after a time, on pressure being brought to bear, the Minister might settle the question by stating that the particular law of the State had obstructed the passage of animals from one State to another. This is not saying that the Federal law should be substituted for a State law. That question has already been dealt with ; and wehave settled how our regulation shall be substituted for those of the States. While not forgetting States laws, we are taking power from time to time, as occasion requires, to suspend the operation of the laws of a particular State in relation, not only to animals - the dealing with which has been left to the Federation - but in relation to plants, the dealing with which has not been left to the Federation. In clause 13, we have recognised a desire that, for the present, we should not altogether supersede the laws of the States in respect to plants; and we declare that our regulations shall not be called into operation except in the case of a State not exercising the power which it possesses. But we are now interfering with a State by declaring that, not only in regard to animals, but also in regard to plants, the law of that State shall not operate any longer. In the first place, is this expedient ? I do not think so, because it means the suspension of the law of a particular State for a particular purpose. That may place the Commonwealth in rather an invidious position. For those who do not wish to go the full length of throwing out the whole clause, it might be as well to start with an amendment to strike out the words “ or plants,” so as to make the clause consistent with the Bill. The object of that would be to prevent this interference taking place with the fruit regulations of the States. I received a letter last Friday on this point from South Australia, expressing the opinions of the Fruit-growers’ Association, which is a very representative body there. They particularly asked that for the present, at all events, the State laws should be left absolutely unfettered as regards plants. This is a very wide power of interference.
– Could we not bind ourselves in connexion with this clause, as we did with a previous one?
– That mightbe done, but it is not so easy to condition the exercise of a discretion by the Governor- General.
– We did it before.
– What we did before was to put a limitation upon the operation of the law. We said it was not to come into force until the Governor-General did a certain thing. What the honorable member suggests in this case is to impose a condition on the exercise of the power given by the clause to the Governor-General. In the other case, power was given to the GovernorGeneral to condition the operation of the Federal law. It really was to the effect that the Federal law was not to supersede the State law, except in a certain event, to be declared by proclamation. This clause says that’ when a proclamation is issued, the State law is to go. The honorable member for Parramatta asks whether wecannot insert the qualification that the power of the GovernorGeneral to issue the proclamation should itself be conditional. That could be done, but it would be somewhat anomalous. I would prefer to test the feeling of the Committee towards the clause by an amendment to strike out the words “ or plants,” so as to limit it to that extent at any rate. Very likely, however, if that were done, theclause would not be supported by those who wish it to be passed, because it seems to be directed chiefly against the plant laws of the States.
– Just as the other was last week. The otherwas directed against plants in the way of greater repression. This is directed to plants in the way of relief, if need be.
– I do not think so. I think the other was put in to allow whatever laws existed to remain as they were.
– The other clause was an indication that we do not intend to interfere with the internal administration of any State.
– The other clause was chiefly directed against the ineffectiveness of the State laws to protect against diseases. This clause is not directed against that at all. Its object is to enable the Governor-General to say that the State laws are not required forthe purpose of preventing disease, that they are causing friction between State and State, or that they are unnecessary. In clause 13 we put the words in for greater caution, so that if the State laws were inefficacious, for quarantine purposes, to prevent disease, we could then bring in the necessary provision to render the law effective. This, however, is for quite a different purpose; that if a State law, although considered by the State to be required for local purposes, is working so as to promote dissent on the part of another State, the Minister may step in and suspend its operation, thus settling a dispute between two States by suspending the operation of the law of one. If that is done it will lead to a good deal of friction. I do not know that we have power to do what is proposed. When the Defence Bill was before the House in 1903, it was questioned whether we could expressly repeal the laws of the States. There was a fairly long debate on the point, and, as usual, some sort of working compromise of opinion was come to, under which power was taken to declare that at a particular time, or for particular purposes, the Defence law of a State was not to operate. In that case the question of the validity of that reservation would never be tested, because our power of legislation as regards defence was practically exclusive, and the States had, therefore, no need for any of their local laws. The administration of the local law passed holus-bolus to us on the transfer of the Department to the Federation. All that was said by that Act was that the law that we, as a Federal Parliament, wanted to apply for the future, was the law as it existed upon the statute-book of the Federa tion, or on the statute-books of the States until the date when we had determined that the State laws should no longer apply. That was a matter purely concerning ourselves, but this is quite different, because, in this case, we shall be modifying, or attempting to some extent to repeal, the operation of the State laws, which, otherwise, would be concurrent with the law of the Federation. An attempted repeal, protanto, in the Defence Act - and the same applies to the Post Office Act - is therefore essentially different from the position we are now asked to take up in attempting to repeal the State laws, instead of allowing the repeal to be brought about through the principle of inconsistency. Whether we have that power, I do not presume to say. Some very competent authorities thought that there was an exceedingly great doubt as to its existence. Consequently, I do not think thatfrom the very start we have ever expressly repealed an Act of a State.
– No; we have simply said that they shall cease to apply.
– That was so in the particular cases mentioned, but we know that they are not at all analogous to this. In those instances the law of the future was to be purely a Federal law, and allthat we did was - instead of administering the laws as passed by the States, which stood without any provision in them inconsistent with the Federal Act - to declare the particular time at which those laws would no longer apply. That, however, would be purely for Federal purposes, because the administration for the future would also be purely Federal. The clause says that if the Governor- General is satisfied -
That any laws or regulations of a State …
have the effect of interfering with freedom of trade or commerce among the States- he may, by proclamation, direct that those laws or regulations shall cease to apply, or shall apply only subject to such restrictions, limitations, or modifications as he directs. If the State law or regulation does interfere with trade and commerce, it is bad under section 92 of the Constitution, and this express provision is not required to declare it so. The Minister says that it is intended to enable a litigant to rely upon the express declaration of a Federal Act - which he thinks would be conclusive, and probably it would - instead of challenging the interference on the ground that it was against section 92 of the
Constitution. In the latter event, the litigant’s proof, instead of being a Federal Act, would be simply facts showing that there was such an interference, and that procedure, of course, might be more expensive for him. That is the only possible difference that can be made if paragraph b is passed. It may perhaps facilitate the proof of an offence against section 92 of the Constitution by having the fact that it did occur evidenced by a proclamation, although, of course, that it actually did occur would be no more sure because the GovernorGeneral had said so. There might be no offence at all. The Courts might, if this clause were passed, have to take our fiat upon the matter as conclusive in a case where no jury would accept it or. the evidence. That possibility might perhaps outweigh the advantage of the greater facility given to a litigant to assert with conclusiveness that such an interference did exist. I prefer to leave section 92 of the Constitution - which is exceptional here, and is not in the American Constitution - unfettered in its operation, without having it safeguarded by the power we possess under paragraph 1. of section51 of the Constitution to make this further provision under the trade and commerce clause. On these grounds, I have great doubt as to the desirableness of passing the clause. At all events, I am inclined to vote against it, and, before doing so, to test to what extent it should be applied by moving the excision of the words “ or plants.” For the present, however, I merely indicate the possibility that I may move in that direction.
– The amendment inserted by the Minister the other day gave general satisfaction, both to the Committee and those particularly interested. It enabled them to retain all the power they require, and it allowed us to exercise especially the power we desire to prevent the importation of diseases into Australia. This clause gives the Government power to lift any local quarantine.
– Only in cases where a State regulation is unduly interfering with freedom of trade.
– It gives the Commonwealth Government power to lift a quarantine in defiance of a State law or regulation. There is given to us by the Constitution all the power that we require, and the Government have - I think properly - exercised it in an instance in which a State was going too far. I urge the Minister to leave the Bill as it stands. It is unnecessary to insert in it a provision such as this, whose effect willbe to bring into conflict the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States, which we should guard against. We should endeavour to secure a fair acceptance for the measure without making it too complicated, or extending its provisions beyond what is necessary for its immediate purpose. Seeing that control in quarantine matters has, in the past, been well exercised by State authorities, common sense should teach us not to rush at matters like a bull at a gate, at once asserting the whole power given to us by the Constitution. I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Angas to leave out the words “ or plants,” and if there is a division, I shall vote against the clause, because the Bill would be better without it.
– It is difficult to know what it is best to do in this matter. I should prefer to deal with an extreme case under the provisions of clause 13. This is a proposal to allow the Commonwealth Government, where circumstances seem to justify such action, to lift a quarantine imposed by a State.
– A State might be totally prohibiting the importation of goods. The clause would meet a case of that kind.
– Apparently this is intended as a reserve power, though there is nothing to show that it is a reserve power.
– The Governor-General must be satisfied.
– As the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, “the Governor-General” means the Commonwealth Executive. In another clause, the Bill distinctly limits the exercise of a reserve power of this kind, prescribing the conditions under which it shall be exercised ; but here there is no limitation or restriction. This provision would have been more workable if introduced at the end of paragraphh of clause 13. We have already taken a reserve power to, if need be, reinforce the repressive aspect of State quarantine.
– And the proposal which is being discussed gives the Commonwealth power to remove State restrictions.
– We have already empowered the Commonwealth to step in where a State is not doing what is required in the direction of prohibiting importation.
– Where there is danger of disease spreading from one State to another.
– As a corollary, it is now proposed that we should take a reserve power to lift a State- quarantine which is unnecessary, or unusually harsh, or undesirable, for some other reason.
– This provision was drafted in accordance with a suggestion made by the honorable member. Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- It has not been drafted in a way which meets my views.
– Will the honorable member look at paragraph g of clause 13 ?
– We have agreed to a provision which provides that the reserve power conferred by clause 13 shall be exercised only in certain cases ; but there is no such restriction in the proposal under discussion.
– Can the honorable member suggest an improvement?
– It is- verydifficult. If the clause is passed in its present form, it will be an unrestricted clause..
– No, it will be a limitation.
– It will be subject to none of the limitations which are now imposed by clause 13. It will be remembered that in clause 13 we put in an amendment to the effect that paragraphs g, h, and i shall be put in operation only as a reserve act. In that clause we take the power, if necessary, -to step in and reinforce the quarantine which may be imposed by a State. Originally, clause 13, in paragraphs g, h, and i, provided that in certain cases the Governor-General may prohibit and declare. Then we passed an amendment which provides that the GovernorGeneral shall prohibit and declare only in extreme and urgent cases. Iri other words, where the States are not doing their duty’ in the way of repressing certain’ diseases we shall have power, under that amendment, to step in and do the work for them. This new clause, I take it, is one which will enable the Federal Government to step in and give the States relief from each other. The normal condition of the Bill is that it ‘is to leave in operation the State inspection laws as regards plants and animals. In that respect we do not contemplate interfering with the powers which the States exercise to-day. It is only in respect of the prohibition of diseases and the prevention of their spread from State to State that we take power, if necessary, to step in and reinforce their quarantine.
The Attorney-General .submits to-day a new clause, providing that in cases where the Governor-General has satisfied himself that the State quarantine is harsh, he shall have the option of stepping hi to relieve thatquarantine. My trouble is that it is not conditioned in the same way as was the repressive amendment which we passed last week. If the Attorney-General can put in a condition which will make it clear that the clause is only to be used as a reserve power, and not under the ordinary operation of the States Acts, I shall be very glad.
– I think that the provision really does say that in paragraph a.
– An ordinary reading of the provision seems to contemplate an interference at any time when the Governor-General shall deem it necessary to step in. I want an amendment to the effect that it is not to be used ordinarily in that way, but as a reserve power, which is to be exercised only in most extreme cases.
.-! So far as I can understand the new clause,’ it seems a new method of annulling State inspection laws. In section 112 of the Constitution there is provided a distinct method of dealing with such laws. It says- .
Any ‘such inspection laws may be annulled bythe Parliament of the Commonwealth. ,
The’ new clause seems to be so designed as to empower the Governor-General to repeal State inspection laws. It seems to be very doubtful whether that is a properexercise of the constitutional power. The new clause as it stands must have reference to State inspection laws. I submit that there is only one way of repealing objectionable regulations relating to inspection,’ and that is by a distinct Act of- Parliament. I doubt whether the Parliament candelegate to the -Governor-General a general authority to annul State inspection laws.
– But surely we can pass regulations inconsistent with them.
– This Parliament can pass’ laws, or the Federal Government can pass regulations, based on Federal laws, which, if inconsistent with the States laws, will prevail over the latter. But I contend that the operation of State laws can be displaced only by inconsistent Federal laws, and that we cannot enact a clause repealing in so many words existing State laws, without passing legislation of a substantive character to take their place.
– Under section 112 of the Constitution, have we power to put this authority in. operation without a Bill ?
– I do not think that under that section this Parliament can give to the Governor-General power to annul State inspection laws. I believe that they must be expressly annulled by Act of Parliament.
– What about a resolution?
– I think that the words “ annulled by the Parliament “ mean that the State inspection laws are to be annulled by an Act of this Parliament passed in the usual way. There is a great deal of force in the view presented by the honorable member for Angas. I hardly realized the significance of the new clause before I heard his address, and that has been appropriately supplemented by the deputy leader of the Opposition. I concur in their arguments. The new clause involves a method not contemplated by the Constitution, and the Minister ought to seriously consider the propriety of not pressing it.
– Is there any authority for this course of action ?
– No. I felt quite astounded at the proposition. Certainly, it is news to me that we can give to the Governor-General a general power to repeal State inspection laws. In other words, the clause hands over to the Executive the general authority of repealing such laws when this Parliament alone has the right as well as the duty to review, and, if necessary, annul State inspection laws.
– Besides, inspection laws are not quarantine laws.
– No. If the clause is passed, it will certainly operate on inspection laws, because it contemplates laws which are passed for the purpose of keeping out disease.
– It will operate no more in that direction than will clause 13 of the Bill as passed.
– Clause 13, of . course, limits the operation of Federal jaws, but this new clause purports to limit the operation of, and to repeal and supersede by an Executive act, State laws. That, I contend, would be a very dangerous power to place in the hands of any Government. It is not contemplated by the Constitution, and probably the effect of the proposition is hardly realized by the Government at the present stage.
.- The framers of the Constitution seem to have had a sufficient reason for placing in the Parliament the power of annulling State legislation qf a particular kind, because in the Parliament the States are represented. In the Senate, the States are equally represented. The words “ Governor in Council ‘’ do not necessarily imply parliamentary approval, they may mean merely the approval of this House. The other branch of the Legislature, which represents the States, may be altogether opposed to the action of the Ministry as represented by the Governor in Council. I can see sufficient reason for giving this Parliament power to annul a State law which interferes with freedom of trade, but I can see no reason why we should delegate that power to the Ministry of the day. When we come to look at the matter from the stand-point of freedom of trade as between the States, we cannot fail to remember that the framers of our Constitution decided upon the establishment of a special tribunal, namely, the Inter-State Commission, to deal with it. The Commission was to be a nonpolitical body, which would be free from bias, and which would not need to look for the support of a parliamentary majority. This tribunal was to view the matter from an all-round stand-point, in the interests of the whole of the States. The words “ Governor in Council “ really mean a parliamentary majority for the time being, and I do not think the power of dealing with the question of Inter-State free-trade should be delegated to such a body. I do not think that a parliamentary majority is the right tribunal to deal with these matters. I admit that by the method laid down in the Constitution their decision would rest with a parliamentary majority, but it would, at least, be a majority of both Houses of the Legislature, which is a very different thing from the decision of the Ministry of the day.
– I do not agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Boothby regarding the power of delegation, because if we have power to pass legislation of this kind, I think it -has been sufficiently decided that we have power to delegate our authority. Upon the main point raised by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I think there is the gravest doubt as to whether this Parliament has power to annul any State Act which it was within the power of the State Legislature to pass. I ask the Attorney-General whether there is any authority for the adoption of the course which is proposed ? The same question arose in Canada, where the Supreme Court decided that such power was not vested in the Federal Parliament.’ In Lefroy’s Legislative Power in Canada, one proposition which the author says is established by authority is -
There is no power given by the Confederation Act to the Dominion Parliament to amend or repeal an Act passed by a Provincial Legislature within the limits of its authority nor to the Provincial Legislatures to amend or repeal a Dominion Act.
I may say that the State Parliament has just as much right to repeal a Commonwealth statute as the Commonwealth Parliament has to repeal a State statute. Under the Constitution, we have power to make laws covering a certain area, and if those laws are inconsistent with any laws passed by the States Parliaments, to the extent to which they are inconsistent, the State laws are overridden. By our substi- .tuting other provisions for those which exist under State legislation, we can secure an effective repeal of such legislation. Chief Justice Dorion, in the case of Dobie v. Temporalities Board, which is reported in /. Cartright’s Reports, puts the position thus -
But it is important to remember that though the Dominion Parliament has no power directly and tolidem verbis to amend or repeal an Act passed by a Provincial Legislature within the limits of its authority, there are many cases where its legislation may have the effect of suspending the operation of valid provincial Acts.
So it is with us. If we choose to pass any legislation upon the subject of quarantine which conflicts with any State law upon the same subject, the latter will, to the extent of the inconsistency, be rendered in- ‘Operative. But we have no power beyond that. Here, however, we are simply attempting to annul the Acts which the States Parliaments have passed within the limits of their own authority. I urge the AttorneyGeneral to give this matter his earnest consideration, because every step that we take which improperly overrides the legislation of the State authorities can only lead to vexatious litigation, to uncertainty, and ultimately to the humiliation of this Parliament. If the Attorney-General has any authority to cite in support of this proposition, I think that he ought to inform the Committee of it.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned member for Flinders is not aware that the question of the power of the Commonwealth to deal with this matter in the way that we are dealing with it, has been previously considered. Bills introduced into this House contained clauses which provided for the repeal of certain State Acts. They were discussed very fully. It was recognised that we had not- the power to expressly repeal any State Act, but if the honorable member noticed the wording of the quotations which he made, he will observe” that they refer to matters within the limits of the authority of the respective Legislatures. Whilst it was recognised that we had no power to repeal a State Act, it was pointed out that we had power to declare in our Statutes that certain State Acts should cease to apply.
– What is the authority for that?
– The honorable member will find the provision to which I refer embodied in section 6 of the Defence Act, which reads -
The State Acts and the Act of the Federal Council of Australasia specified in the first schedule shall cease to apply, &c.
The authority for that action is based upon the legislative power of the Commonwealth to pass Acts which are inconsistent with State Statutes.’
– That we can do.
– Therefore, when we declare by a Statute that certain State Acts shall cease to apply, it is equivalent to a declaration by this Parliament of inconsistency with the Commonwealth Act.
– Oh, no.
– I submit that it is so. That is the view that has prevailed here. In the Postal Act we declared that the States Statutes should cease to apply. The honorable member will observe that the subject with which ‘ we are dealing in this Bill is one entirely within the competency of the Commonwealth Parliament. We have power to pass laws dealing with the question of quarantine and Inter-State trade. .
– And in so far as those laws are inconsistent with State laws, the latter are superseded.
– The honorable member admits that. Here we are simply declaring that under certain conditions, if certain laws’ are passed which interfere with freedom of trade, the Governor in Council may declare that those laws shall cease to apply. The matter with which we are dealing is entirely within the purview of this Parliament. We might go so far as to say that these provisions, and no other, shall prevail. Instead of setting out everything we desire in detail in the Bill, we can declare that the Governor-General might, by proclamation, direct that States laws dealing with the subject shall cease to apply. The matter dealt with in the clause is quite within our powers, and it is sought to exercise them accordingly.
.- When the Minister last spoke, I tried to draw a distinction between the provisions of the Defence, and, I think, also of the Post and Telegraph Act, and those contained in this Bill. With all due respect to the honorable gentleman, I still consider that the distinction is very well founded. In connexion with the Defence Act, it must be remembered that the moment the States Defence Departments were taken over the whole administration of whatsoever defence laws were in force in the States at the time passed to the Federal Government, and there was no longer a concurrent power vested in the States. They had absolutely no power afterwards to pass an Act relating tq defence. The position is altogether different in connexion with the exercise by the Commonwealth of. its powers in respect to quarantine, because in connexion with this subject there is a -concurrent power in the States, as well as the Federal power, embodied in paragraph ix. of section 51 of the Constitution. We covered the whole field in our defence legislation. We took over the Defence Acts of the States, and administered them ; we added something to them, and we declared that “after a certain time certain provisions of. the States. Acts should no longer be in force. In view of the fact that not only the legislative power, but also the administrative power, was vested in the one authority, it might have been competent for the Federal Parliament to pass such an Act as that. In this case, however, we allow the concurrent legislation of the States to continue. That is recognised by the general terms of this Bill, and by the proposed clause itself. This clause presupposes the existence of a concurrent power in the States, otherwise the GovernorGeneral would be unable to say that the provisions of a State Act are working in restraint of Inter-State trade and commerce. We recognise the existence of the States Acts when we authorize the GovernorGeneral to interfere with their operation. I do not wish to repeat what I said on that point, but I do think that inasmuch as we have from the beginning refrained from expressly repealing Acts of the
States, that fact indicates some doubt as to our power to do so. With the exception of the proposed clause, no attempt has ever been made to directly repeal a State Act either by Federal legislation or by the delegation of power to the Governor-General, and I doubt whether it is constitutional.
The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in his lucid speech, referred incidentally to our power to annul inspection laws of the States. I do not think that quarantine laws can- be considered as amongst those inspection laws. Looking through the matter from time to time, I find that distinctions are drawn between quarantine laws and inspection laws. Section 112 of the Constitution, which is the section giving the power to annul inspection laws, deals only with exports and imports. The commentary in Quick and Garran upon this section is confined to inspection for purposes connected with the operation of local trade laws, and- deals with such matters- as the size of parcels, and so on. I do not think that the power to annul inspection laws given by section 112 gives us any power to directly annul States quarantine laws. To test the question’; I propose to move a limitation of the clause, but, even though it should be amended in the direction I am about to suggest, I still think it would be better to negative the clause altogether. I move -
That the words “or plants’,” line 4, be left out.
I propose this amendment, because in clause 13 we have already declared that the power of the Federation in respect of Inter-State quarantine, as regards plants and goods, shall not be put in force unless upon evidence of neglect to take proper precautions under the States laws. I think it would be most unwise to take power under the proposed new clause to destroy States Acts by the delegation of a power to do so to the Governor-General.
– I shall not press the clause on the Committee. I may say that it was drafted for the Minister in accordance with suggestions made by honorable members, who, apparently, do not entertain, the same view when they see the proposal expressed in black and white. Though I do not press the clause, I am still of opinion that it is quite within our competence to enact a clause of this description. ‘ A desire was expressed by certain honorable members that while the States laws were to be left to the administration of the States authorities, if it were found that they were being administered in such a way as really to amount to a prohibition of trade and commerce under the guise of inspection or quarantine, there should be a reserve power in the Commonwealth to deal with the matter.
– The reserve power of the High Court.
– No; a reserve power to be exercised under a regulation taking the matter out of the hands of the States, and giving it into Federal control. That was the idea expressed. I was not in charge of the Bill when the matter was previously referred to. The Treasurer had charge of the Bill then, and he had this clause drafted to meet the views expressed by honorable members. I am of opinion that it complies with the requirements of the Constitution, and would meet what was desired. However, as there appears to be some objection to the form in which the provision is expressed, I am prepared to withdraw the clause. It is only fair that I should say that it was drafted after careful consideration of the constitutional position, and those who are responsible for it are quite satisfied that it is a provision that is clearly within the competence of this Parliament to enact. I wish that to be distinctly understood.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Proposed new clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments ; report (with concurrence) adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.20 to7. 45 p.m.
Term of Grant of Supply - Contingencies - Allowance to Members - The Tariff : Refunds of Duties : The “ New Protection “ : Excise Duties - Federal Expenditure - Penny Postage - Coastal Defence - Treasurer’s Advance - Cancelled Mail Contract - Australian Women’s Work Exhibition - Public Service Increments - Immigration - Commonwealth Offices, London - Pacific Islands Mail Service - Naval Agreement - Meteorological Department - Electoral Act.
In Committee of Supply :
– In moving -
That a sum not exceeding One million one hundred and three thousand seven hundred and forty-four pounds be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1907,
I desire to say that I am asking for three months’ supply, because a considerable time must necessarily elapse before the consideration of the Estimates can be concluded, and a grant in respect of salaries and contingencies is absolutely necessary. The Bill does not make provision for Works and Buildings. It has not been the custom to deal with such undertakings in a measure of this kind, but I think it is desirable that at a very early date if possible a proportion, if not the whole, of the vote for Works and Buildings should be granted.
– It has been the custom for some years to pass the Works and Buildings Estimates early in the session.
– Quite so. There are certain works which ought to be proceeded with at an early date, but which cannot be commenced until the necessary vote is agreed to. I refer to that matter only in passing, because the motion which I am now submitting relates only to salaries and contingencies on the basis of last year’s Estimates. One month’s supply in respect of the current financial year has already been granted, and I hope this week to clear the business paper of certain measures appearing upon it, as well as to deal with one other matter.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the proposed increase in the allowances granted to honorable members representing other States?
– Since the honorable member has put that question to me I may say that before the House rises, I propose to make a statement in regard to the question of allowances. My desire is to clear the business paper of measures, the consideration of which should not occupy much time, early this week, and then, in order that honorable members may be supplied with certain information for which a request has been made, to agree to the Tariff debate being taken about Wednesday next. It is desirable that certain information shall be prepared for honorablemembers before they are called upon to deal with the Budget or the Tariff, and I intend to ask the Committee to proceed with the consideration of the Tariff about Wednesday next. I do not wish anything to interrupt our consideration of it. I have always found that the introduction of other matters when honorable members have their minds concentrated on a particular work is not conducive to the despatch of business. I am asking for three months’ Supply, because I hope that before it is necessary to obtain further supply we shall have so far advanced with, if not completed, the consideration of the Tariff- -
– Some say we shall not dispose of it before next March.
– The honorable member does not expect the consideration of the Tariff to occupy more than three months?
– We should have nearly disposed of the Tariff by that time, and I do not wish to be called upon to ask for Supply whilst honorable members are engaged upon that question. But for that reason it is probable that I should not have asked to-night for three months’ Supply. I desire the consideration of the Tariff, whatever the result may be, to be expedited, for I think that the. interests of the public , and more particularly of the commercial community, require that it shall be dealt with as early as possible. In submitting this motion, I am laying the foundation of a course that will enable the consideration of the Tariff to proceed without undue interruption, and I desire to emphasize the point that the vote for which I now ask is based on last year’s Estimates.
– The Minister began his brief statement with an intimation of a little emollient, to come later on, which I have no doubt will to a certain extent mollify honorable members in their dealings with this or any other business.
– Not necessarily.
– We are to have later on the details of that proposal. So far as I have been able to ascertain by hurriedly looking through the schedule to the Bill during the dinner hour, there appears to be in it nothing of an unusual character. That being so, I shall offer no very serious objection to the granting of Supply. I wish, however, to point out the irregularity of the whole proceeding. This is a proposal to grant three months’ Supply, in addition to one month’s Supply already voted in respect of the current financial year. I venture to. say that the voting of a third of a .year’s Supply before even the Budget has been considered has never occurred in the history of the Federal Parliament, and I doubt if an instance of such a thing can be found in the history of any of the States Legislatures.
– They grant Supply month by month, and the result is the same.
– That is a very different procedure. In granting Supply month by month we follow a sound constitutional practice, and preserve an effective check on the Ministerial expenditure - a check which we shall surrender to-night by voting away money in this wholesale fashion.
– I hope the honorable member will not forget that the Bills is on a basis to which objection cannot be taken, since it relates to salaries and contingencies in accordance with last year’s Estimates.
– I have already said that I find no very great fault with the composition of the schedule. It is only the amount which we are asked to grant to which I take exception. The circumstances, however, are altogether exceptional. This, I presume, is a step towards clearing the decks before we plunge into that tremendous fight which seems to be looming up. and’ which, no doubt, the Treasurer wilt heartily welcome, if only in the interests of the Tariff itself. The one reason why we are asked to agree to this proposed vote is that the Minister is preparing for honorable members some information with regard to the Tariff. Might 1 suggest that the Minister should first possess himself of a little information concerning the Tariff?”
– I do not want any more; I have plenty.
– Our trouble is that the Treasurer keeps the information he has within the sacred repository of his own breast. He has told the House nothingabout the Tariff; he has thrown the schedule on the table and left us to find out for ourselves everything relating to it.
– I want to give honorable members all the information I can.
– I fancy that when we get the’ information which the honorable gentleman intends to supply, hewill still leave us without the slightest intimation as to the principles upon which this Tariff has been framed, as to its scale and range, and as to the general meaningof the bulk of the items in the schedule. That is information which the Minister did not’ vouchsafe to the Committee last week. He threw the schedule on the table, and said, in reply to an interjection of the most innocent kind, “ The honorable member will find all the information in the schedule.” Therefore, we must look to the schedule itself for all that we want to know about this precious Tariff. By this time, the Treasurer himself is . probably convinced that it is not that perfect piece of workmanship that we might have expected from the Government after they had been cogitating over it for two years. I hope that next week we shall be supplied with some explanation of the principles underlying it, and what have been the guiding motives in the minds of the Government in introducing a Tariff which departs so radically from the recommendations of the expert Commission which has been sitting to inquire into the subject.
– I think that the Government have followed the Tariff Com-, mission’s recommendations fairly well. .
– They have only departed from those recommendations in about 120 cases.
– And we . have adopted about 140.
– I have no doubt in my own mind that the Government has given the Commission’s reports very short shrift.
– Why is the honorable member anticipating the Tariff debate?
– I am not anticipating it. With regard to the Minister’s statement that he intends to give us all the information he can between now and next week, I suggest that he should prepare a statement for the Committee as to what has prompted the Government to make their recommendations, and to depart from those of the Commission. He should tell us generally what has been in the minds of Ministers in preparing the Tariff in the way they have done. In regard to the Bill before us, I have to say that, in my opinion, it is entirely unnecessary to ask for three* months’ supply at one time.
– What would the honorable member say to granting two months’ supply ?
– I do not see any necessity for granting more than one month’s supply. What is the objection to obtaining supply every month as has been customary ? However, the circumstances are exceptional ; and in the hope and belief that Ministers do intend to devote all their energies to the consideration of the Tariff, allowing no other business to intervene between the commencement of the discussion and its reasonable completion,
I consent - and I do so on that ground only - to this extraordinary and irregular procedure of asking ‘for one-third of the total supplies of the year without adequate consideration by the Committee..
. - I know perfectly well that we cannot take effective exception ‘to a Supply Bill of this character, but I must join with the deputy leader of the Opposition in saying that this procedure is unprecedented. We must recognise that we have before us business which will require all the attention and ability of this Parliament. One cannot, however, overlook the fact that expenditure is being increased. That is a matter that calls for our serious consideration. It is remarkable that while there .are 195 divisions in this Bill, there are at the same time 195 votes for contingencies. Honorable members have not perhaps, as I have done, reckoned up what these contingencies amount to. I find that whilst the total amount which we are asked to vote by this ‘Hill is .£1,103,744, no less than £242,650 is absolutely set down under the head of “ Contingencies.” I venture to say that in view of the increased expenditure, on account of Federation, these votes for contingencies . demand attention. To me they appear to be quite exceptional. The Minister in his Budget speech took a good deal of credit to himself, and to the various Governments of which he has been a member since the establishment of the Commonwealth, for having exercised the strictest economy. I venture to say that when the Budget comes to be discussed and examined, honorable members will find that, not only has there been no economy, but that expenditure has increased by leaps and bounds.
– When we realize what we might have spent we are amazed at our moderation.
– Of course, I quite understand the influence of the power behind the Government. The honorable member who interjects represents a very intelligent section of the community who mean to carry out the principle of spending all they can’, and then coming for more. When the Minister talks about economy, I should like to draw his attention to one striking fact. In the year 1901-2 the Commonwealth returned to the States- no less than ^7,300,000. In 1906-7 it returned only j£6, 900,000. Much has been said about the surplus returned to the States in excess of the 75 per cent, of Customs and Excise Revenue required by the Constitution. But when we have before us a three months’ Supply Bill, and we find that ^242,000 is set down for contingencies, I urge that this Committee ought, for its own credit’s sake and in the interests of the people whom we represent, to “ take a pull “ of the expenditure of the Commonwealth. I am no prophet, and even if I were, a prophet, as the Scripture says, has “ no honour in his cwn country,” but I venture to say that, unless we do what I have said we ought to do, an expiatory period will come upon us in 1910, when the time for the expiration of the “Braddon Blot” section arrives.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I thought I should elicit cheers from honorable members opposite in making that remark. The income of the Commonwealth for the present year is estimated at ^12,800,000. . It is a very large sum to place at the disposal of a Government that is not even in a majority in this House. I am entitled to say so much. The procedure of this Parliament since I have been a member of it has not been reassuring. We have been sitting five or six weeks, and have practically done nothing but mark time. Now we are asked to pass a Bill voting ,£1,1.03,744, of which 25 per cent, is for contingencies - and God knows who will spend that money, and how it will be spent ! We cannot possibly object to’ it. I know that. But I am within my rights in making my protest. My honorable friends opposite jeer, but possibly they know that there are two sides to every question. When the people of this country are aroused, as they will be, we shall probably have a repetition on a larger scale of what took place in the Echuca electorate, and shall find that the country is prepared to return to this Parliament men who will support not only law and order, but also economy.
.- I neither agree with the view of the Government, nor with that of the deputy leader of the Opposition. I will be no party to granting three months’ supply for any purpose whatever. I know of no reason why the Government should ask for extended supply, which they may use in whatever way they please, while. Parliament is sitting. I cannot understand for a moment why the Government have thought it necessary to introduce such a Supply Bill. What difficulty is there to prevent the Government at any time obtaining Supply? The granting of Supply represents the only power that Parliament has over the Government. Of course, I can quite understand the Government bringing down a Supply Bill for three months, or six months, because, once they introduce such a measure, the deputy leader of the Opposition only mildly protests, and then says that, under the circumstances, he is prepared to support it.
– The trouble with the honorable member seems to be that the Opposition support the Government in anything !
– I am beginning to doubt, in view of the support which the Treasurer is receiving, whether there may not be “ something up.” As to the charge made by the honorable member for Indi, I have only to say that, as an individual, I think there has been no more careful handling of finance than in the ‘ Federal Parliament. So far as concerns contingencies - although it is quite right for any honorable member to call attention to the matter - we may, from time to time, demand a full and detailed account.
– But by that time the money is spent, and we have no control.
– Had the honorable member not been in public life before, I could have excused his attitude. But the honorable member must know very well that, in a Bill of this kind, it is impossible to have a detailed account, which would possibly be as long as the Hansard report. Such an account is impossible and unnecessary. If the honorable member thinks there are any defects in the administration, there may be the fullest investigation, and if, in such circumstances, he demands a full and detailed account, I shall be ready to support him. But to make loose and grave charges against past and present Administrations without bringing facts before honorable members-
– The figures speak for themselves.
– What charges have been made?
– I hope honorable members will not get excited. The charge has been made that there has been extravagance, and that that extravagance is covered up under the head of “ Contingencies.”
– The charge is that expenditure is mounting up.
– What extravagance does (he honorable member for Indi mean?
– There seems to be a difference as to what the honorable member for Indi said; but, at any rate, he did Say that Federation had proved more expensive than people anticipated.
– Absolutely !
– I say that Federation has been more economical than people anticipated. When I find men in the highest positions contending that the payment in respect of the sugar bounty is part of the Federal expenditure, to discuss the question is too humiliating. As a matter of fact, the sugar bounty is a simple arrangement to get over a constitutional difficulty, as is shown by the fact that the men who receive the bounty pay back the same amount in Excise.
– That is not all the “statement that has been made about sugar.
– That is the main statement that is made, and we have too many of the kind.
– That is not all that is said.
– It is the whole statement, from my point of view.
– The honorable member assumes that there would be a duty of £6 if there were no Excise.
– The grower, at the present time, has a protection of only £5, which is not more than 30 per cent., while it is proposed to impose duties as high as 40 per cent, for the protection of other industries not nearly so important. It was at first said that the sugar industry would never be a success if the employment of white labour was insisted on, and, now that it is a success, some honorable members, seem to be chagrined. However, if the deputy leader of the Opposition and the Government have agreed in regard to this Bill it is no use protesting.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that the moment we pass three months’ Supply, the Government, for the next three months, will be out of our control.
– If we pass this Supply Bill, the Government, if they chose, could adjourn for three months to-morrow. There is nothing to constitutionally prevent their doing so; and that. is the grave side of the present position. The Labour Party, whose opinions were, to some extent, voiced by the honorable member for Wide Bay, will see the position in which we should be placed by cheerfully acceding to the Ministerial request for three months’ Supply.
– The deputy leader of the Opposition has agreed.
– It looks like ah arrangement.
– That is possibly why the honorable member for Wide Bay is willing to fall in with the proposal ! Up to the present we have riot had an opportunity of discussing the policy, or want of policy, of the Government, as announced in the Budget. Honorable members may regard the granting of three months’ Supply as a light matter, seeing that the Budget debate will commence next week. But what possible chance is there of discussing, next week, not in a lengthy, but a comprehensive, continuous way, any particular item of Government policy outside the Tariff ? Honorable members must know that next week we shall be discussing the Tariff, and possibly nothing else.
– Probably we shall have dealt with the Tariff before the Estimates are through.
– Nobody knows” better than the honorable member that by the time the - Tariff is through honorable members will be looking forward to their Christmas dinner, and the Estimates will probably be rushed through, in the same way as .last year, when ^£7,000,000 of public money was voted in about two hours and a half. That is the way in which business is done in this House on occasions.
– If the Tariff is passed, will there be any dinner for any of us?
– Unlike some members of the community, our salaries’, which, I understand, are a first charge, are secured, no matter what happens to the country. Anyhow, what I want to say is that, after to-night, we shall have practically no opportunity to discuss the Government platform irrespective of the Tariff. Next Wednesday, for example, some honorable members of .the Labour Party may wish to discuss one notable omission from the Government platform, namely, old-age pensions, or may desire to force from the Government some declaration of policy in that connexion.
– A fair thing, too !
– Probably the Minister of Trade and Customs, through one ofhis most ardent supporters, may try to “ draw a red herring “-
– Penny postage.
– I think that is buried now.
– The honorable member is “out of his reckoning “ - penny postage is not buried.
– It is about time it was; I think it has been dead long enough to make it necessary to give it a decent burial. We are now deliberately placingourselves within the complete control of the Ministry, and depriving ourselves of any possible opportunity of discussing Ministerial policy outside the Tariff. This question does not concern members of the Opposition so much as those others who have been so long posturing upon the public platform as being alone keenly in favour of old-age pensions, and determined, in return for the support which they have been consistently giving to the Government for several years past, to get that policy enacted without delay. They will have to explain their apathetic treatment of the question to their own constituents, as the matter is one strictly between their constituents and themselves.
– Will the honorable member help us?
– If the honorable member will help me to force the matter on now, I shall be only too willing to cooperatewith him.
– I mean, will the honorable member help us to explain to our constituents ?
– If the honorable member will act as chairman at any public meeting he chooses to call in order that I may authoritatively elaborate his position, I shall be only too glad to accept his invitation. I now wish to refer to the position, so far as I was able to ascertain it to-day, of Commander Colquhoun and his colleague, Mr. Clarkson, in England. This is a slightly more important question than the Minister of Defence seems to think. Two or three days ago a statement appeared in the public press that two Commonwealth officers, who are, no doubt, excellent in their way - I am willing to give them every credit for their professional knowledge and ability - had invited tenders in England for the construction of certain vessels which this Parliament has not yet authorized.
– If it is true, it was never authorized, but I think there must be some mistake.
– I hope so. I asked the Minister of Defence to-day whether there was some mistake, and whether, if he afterwards found that there was no mistake, and that those officers had actually done what was alleged, he would consider the advisability of preventing their doing anything more of so foolish a nature by recalling them.
– I quite recognise the seriousness of the position, bur the honorable member ought not to expect me to say definitely what will be done in the circumstances.
– I did not ask the honorable gentleman to do so.
Mr.Ewing. - The honorable member asked me whether they would be recalled.
– By the courtesy of Hansard, I hold in my hand proofs of my questions, and the Minister’s answers.
– The honorable member raised the question of recalling them.
– I shall quote the text of the second question I put, as follows -
I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether, if the statement which has appeared in the press that Commander Colquhoun has invited tenders for the construction of torpedo vessels in England, and has to that extent exceeded his instructions, be true, the Minister will consider the advisability of his immediate recall ?
I asked the Minister to consider the advisability of the immediate recall of Commander Colquhoun, if he had taken such an extreme and unauthorized step as to invite tenders, and to that extent to commit the Commonwealth to that particular policy and expenditure.
– It cannot commit the Commonwealth.
– It seems to take the Government three or four days to cable to London and get a reply.
– I will deal with that in a moment. The Minister replied -
I do not think that I will consider the advisability of his immediate recall.
The honorable gentleman, therefore, will not even consider the advisability of recalling a man who would so far exceed his instructions as to invite tenders, I presume on behalf of the Commonwealth, because I do not suppose Commander Colquhoun’s financial standing is such as to enable him to pay for the vessels himself.
– Will not “the honorable member wait to see whether what is reported actually happened?
– I am not saying that it has happened. If it has not, no harm has been done. I based my whole question on the possibility that Commander Colquhoun might have done what the press said he had done.
– The honorable member put a hypothetical question and wanted an answer.
– I wanted an answer on principle to my hypothetical “ question. I did not ask the Minister to say whether he would recall the officer or not. I asked him to consider the advisability of it. The honorable, gentleman further said -
I have no objection to telling the honorable member - I really did not think it was worth while to make a statement to the House upon the subject-
Then the honorable member for Parramatta sarcastically interjected -
It is a matter of no consequence.
And the Minister added -
I do not think it is. of very much consequence.
That is the statement to which I take exception. A question of this character must be of the greatest consequence.
– At all events, it cannot bind the Government. I shall put it all right in any case.
– If two Commonwealth authorities, commissioned to make inquiries in England; ‘actually did call for tenders, and the Commonwealth went back on them, should we not be damaging ourselves in the eyes of the shipbuilders of England?
– I do not believe that those officers- have done what is alleged. Cannot the honorable member let them alone until we ascertain whether they have been unwise enough to do it or not ?
– Nobody would be better pleased than myself to learn that they had not done it. The question I asked to-day was not directed against them at all. My object was to see that proper discipline was maintained in the Defence Department. That can only be achieved by firm Ministerial control. I asked the Minister practically whether he was prepared to exercise that control, and he at once replied that the question of calling for tenders for the construction of ships without the authority of Parliament to the extent of about £750,000 was a matter of very little con- sequence !
– The Minister cannot avoid having a joke now and again.
– The honorable gentleman was not joking. He was quite serious. I think the honorable member does him an injustice when he says he was joking on this occasion. I am sure he would see that the matter was too serious for jest, even when the jest is carried out with such singular success ! This Supply Bill is the last real opportunity we shall have of discussing the Ministerial policy.
– The whole question of policy will be open in the debate on Wednesday.
– If the honorable member for Flinders advanced his views on the financial question, and the honorable member for Gippsland, or some other agile mind, immediately drew a red herring, across the track in the shape of a speech about duties, does the honorable member for Flinders think the Committee would discuss so dry a matter as the financial question after the brilliant and distracting speech of the honorable member for Gippsland?
– There is something in that.
– There is a good deal in it. The honorable member would have no opportunity whatever of arriving at any conclusive result as to any particular item of Government policy in the debate on the Budget. I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in considering the coastal defence policy of the Government, he intends to take the advice of Lord Tweedmouth, and - if he must have floating coastal defences - pay first consideration to submarines? I understand that the instructions’ given to Commander Colquhoun and Mr. Clarkson were to inquire more particularly into torpedoboat construction.
– Their instructions were that they were not to limit themselves to that question. Submarines and submersibles were included
– Then the Government . have not come to any decision as to what class of vessels should be utilized in Aus- ‘ tralian coastal defence?
– There is no secret about it. They had no instructions from the Government with regard to the type of boat the Government would accept.
– I am glad to hear it, because a statement recently appeared in the Age that the amount on the Estimates was to carry out the Prime Minister’s policy, as announced to this House in September last. In that case, it would be for the construction of torpedo craft.
– I did not say that.
– I am glad to have the honorable gentleman’s assurance that, so far, no decision has been arrived at as to the class of vessels which will be secured for Australian defence.
– Hear, hear.
– With that assurance, I am satisfied to let the matter rest until the Estimates are under discussion.
– Hear, hear.
– Like the honorable member for Wide Bay, I feel powerless at the present time. The leaders of the Opposition and of the Labour Party being prepared to surrender for three months their control of the Administration, it is useless for a private member to enter a further protest.
.- I am not prepared to resist the request of the Government for necessary Supply, because I agree with the Minister that it is desirable to clear the decks for action in connexion with the Tariff struggle ; but I hope that the honorable member for Wentworth was not correct in saying that this is the only opportunity that we shall have to criticise the financial programme of the Government.
– The only real opportunity.
– I trust that the Minister will assure the Committee that, in giving him Supply to-night, we shall not lose the opportunity to fully discuss the financial policy of the Government in dealing with the .Budget that we have had on previous occasions. It is because I believe that we shall have that opportunity that I assume an attitude of non-resistance in regard to the Supply Bill. I trust that an opportunity will’ also be given to discuss the Government policy on general lines in connexion with the Tariff.
– The carrying of the motion before the Chair will not prevent honorable members from doing so.
– I take it that that is so, and that the opportunities for discussing the Budget and Tariff proposals that we have enjoyed on former occasion’s will remain to us.
– Hear, hear.
– In the circumstances I am willing to assist the Government in obtaining the Supply that is asked for. I wish, however, to use this occasion to refer to a reply given to me on Friday, to the effect that the Minister could not agree to hold in suspense the revenue paid under the present Tariff, and to refund any difference between the rates now in force and those which may be adopted in Committee of Supply. That was the practice under the first Commonwealth Tariff. At the present time great hardship and serious loss is likely to be entailed on a large number of importers by the Tariff alterations. We are now, especially in connexion with the softgoods trade, at the. period between two seasons. Large bulks have to be broken for distribution throughout the country, and probably by the time that the goods have been sent away, and the invoices forwarded to the country storekeepers, there will be an alteration in the rates of duties. Very serious loss will have to be borne by the importers if the “difference between the present and. the permanent rates is not returned to them. It cannot be the desire of Ministers, or of honorable members, to do more than protect the revenue, and I take it that, where possible, the Government desires to prevent unnecessary loss to importers.
– Is there any better . or more logical rule than to say that duties must be paid from the date of the imposition of the Tariff, and the rates reduced from the time of their subsequent reduction in Committee of Supply ?
– The practice in Victoria, and I believe in the other States, has been to refund the difference between the rates, first imposed and those subsequently agreed to by Parliament. There need be no difficulty about making a refund of duty in connexion with unbroken parcels of goods. This notice was posted up at the ‘Customs House to-day -
In all cases where the rates under the new Tariff proposals are lower than the rates previously in force, the difference between the higher and the lower rates is to be taken on deposit.
That will involve book-keeping, and it’ seems to me that, in the present exceptional circumstances, greater consideration might have been shown to the importers. Considerable dislocation of commerce has occurred, and I credit the Department of Customs and the Minister with a desire not- to cause more inconvenience or loss than is necessary for the adequate protection of the revenue.
– Does not the honorable member know that in some cases the retail prices of goods have already been raised?
– In some instances as much as 150 per cent. *
– How could refunds be made to consumers?
– I do not know how- we can deal with retail traders who are not doing an honest and legitimate business, but the importers of whom I speak are prepared to submit invoices, and to assist the Government in every way. Their position now is a very serious and difficult one.
– Would they be willing to return to their customers the due proportion of any money refunded?
– They say so.
– Could the retail storekeepers make similar refunds to purchasers ?
– If refunds are made, the storekeepers ought to be placed in the same position as the importers, and I am advised that the latter have no desire to charge their customers more than the duty which they themselves are required to pay. But the duties may be altered during the next month or two. At this period of the year - between the two seasons - the introduction of a new Tariff is very awkward and inopportune. On behalf of many honorable importers here, I wish to put on record their protest against this effort to place them in a position of financial loss, and one in which it is quite unnecessary to place them. In all the circumstances, however - having made my protest, and with a distinct promise from the Minister that we shall have the usual latitude of debate on the first item in the Budget, and another opportunity to deal with the Tariff proposals generally - I do not propose to offer any resistance to the desire of the Government to obtain Supply for three months.
– I cannot see that, in present circumstances, the request which the Treasurer has made for three months’ Supply is at all unreasonable. I think it would be undesirable to have the debate on the Tariff interrupted by an application for further Supply, and I welcome the promise from the honorable gentleman that once we enter upon the debate he intends that we shall go right through with it. I desire information on one or two points. The first I regard as of vital importance to the discussion of the Budget proposals next week. The honorable gentleman stated - of course it was apparent from the figures which he placed before the Committee - that the revenue from Customs and Excise duties during the current financial year will exceed by a very large sum that which hitherto has been derived from that source. We can all understand that that must result from the imposition of higher duties on almost all articles. I ask the Treasurer if he can tell the Committee whether an estimate has been made of what the normal revenue from the new duties will be when things have settled down ? During the first year the revenue will be far greater than the ordinary amount, but the honorable gentleman has stated that in succeeding years there will be a very serious diminution.
– It is estimated that there will be.
– Naturally the revenue will be less in subsequent years. Can the honorable gentleman give the Committee even the roughest approximate estimate of what the normal revenue from, the new duties will be?
– The honorable member is looking for a prophet.
– Of course, all estimates are more or less in the nature of prophesies. If the Treasurer says he has not attempted to make an estimate of that kind, I am quite prepared to accept his statement. But if he or his officers have arrived at any estimate, I for one shall be very glad to know what it is. I quite admit that it is a very difficult estimate to make. It depends entirely upon the extent to which the duties are protective.
– Can there be any settling down under a protective Tariff?
– Yes ; in Victoria we had a protective Tariff for many years, and the Treasurers were able to estimate the revenue with very considerable accuracy.
– With no alteration for years ?
– With no alteration for more than ten years. It was always quite possible to estimate with very close approximation what the revenue would be. At the present time, I admit that it is a matter of greater difficulty. We are now creating a new protective Tariff, and it is impossible to say with accuracy what the result may be. The officers who have assisted the Treasurer in preparing the Tariff have had the future revenue in their minds, and may have arrived at an estimate or a conjecture of what it will be. If they have, I, for one, shall feel grateful to the Treasurer if he can give me the information. A statement has been made that a schedule of Excise duties for the purpose of the “ new protection “ - the protection of the workers in the protected industries - is to be brought before the Committee. I desire to ask the Treasurer when it will be submitted, and what opportunity we shall have of considering the effect of it in connexion with the Budget proposals. In present circumstances, I see no reason for objecting to a grant of Supply for three months, but I think it would facilitate the debate which lies before honorable members if they had the information for which I have asked.
– I have had placed in my hands only an estimate of what the new duties are expected to bring in during the current financial year. If an estimate were made at the present time it could not be accepted as being very reliable.
– It could only be barely approximate.
– Quite so. Of course, I shall try to get all the information I can for honorable members. In the short time I had to deal with the Budget I was only able to get an estimate ‘of the probable revenue for the first twelve months. Further information I shall try to obtain before the debate is completed; but, as the honorable member says, it must be very unreliable.
– It must be conjectural to a large extent.
– Yes. With reference to the Excise duties, I want to find, if I can, a method of dealing with the “ new protection ‘ ‘ that will be easier than, and yet as effective as, Excise duties. Last year Excise duties were imposed under a short Tariff. I recognise that to extend them -to the full Tariff, or to the main items in the full Tariff, might make our legislation . very cumbersome. Therefore, I am trying to ascertain- whether it is not possible to devise a scheme which will be quite as effective, and yet not so cumbersome. But I wish honorable members clearly to understand that before the Bill dealing with the Tariff is completed, there will be either Excise duties or an improved provision under which there shall be protection insured to the employes, and, if possible, to the public, in order to prevent the reduction of wages, and the increase of prices unduly.
– Before the Tariff is passed ?
– Before the Bill which is to accompany the Tariff is passed.
– It is essential to the consideration of the financial proposals’ of the Government.
– I do not wantto be bound down to any particular time, but it may be dealt with at a very early date. The honorable member will see that at present it would be hazardous foi me to make a definite promise as to when it can be done. We have not yet entered on. the debate.
– Will the Treasurer permit me to explain my question?
– If a system of Excise duties covering most or a large number of the articles which are included in the schedule to the protective Tariff is brought in, that will entirely change the financial position in connexion with the Tariff so far as those articles are concerned. Therefore, if we are to have a discussion on the financial position, we ought to “know whether such a schedule is to be brought in or not. But the Treasurer has stated that he is not yet prepared to say definitely what will be done.
– No. I said that I , am going to deal with the matter, but that it was questionable whether it should be done by means of Excise duties, or by, some. other method.
– But whether if be done by means of Excise duties, or in some other way, may very materially affect the position.
– Not if it be merely of a penal character.
– If it be brought forward in the form of a schedule of Excise duties, that, of course, will be an element which will completely vary the financial position. We are entitled to ask - if a new schedule of Excise duties be brought forward subsequently - that we shall be afforded an opportunity of debating the Budget proposals in connexion with it.
.- This is the second Supply Bill which has been introduced since the opening of the present session. We have already passed one measure authorizing the expenditure of about £457,000, and we now have another Bill before us providing for an expenditure of more than £1,000,000. In other words, if we pass this Bill, we shall have authorized an expenditure of £1,600,000 of the public money. The honorable member for Kooyong has expressed a desire to come to close quarters with the Government at a later period, and the honorable member for Flinders has said that the request to pass this Bill is not an unreasonable one in the circumstances. His only fear is that by passing it we may interfere with the Tariff discussion. Does the honorable member anticipate .that that discussion will be completed within three months ? I venture to predict that it will last eight months. We are now in possession of the Tariff proposals of the Government, and, notwithstanding what” has been said to the contrary, I maintain that we are at liberty to discuss not only’ the Budget, but the proposals to which I refer - not only the policy of the Government, but also their want of policy. We ave free to traverse the whole’ area covered by an ordinary Budget, as well as that traversed by the Tariff proposals. I am a low Tariffist, :ina yet . the honorable member for Flinders has asked me to grant the Government Supply for three months. As a low Tariffist, I think that the Government should have been challenged the very moment that this Supply Bill was introduced. If we pass it, we shall be told at a later period that our action practically represents a vote of confidence in the Government. “ Sir William Lyne. - I promise that we will not say that.
– I do not care for the Acting Prime Minister’s promise - I know what is my duty as a representative of the people. I consider that the Tariff proposals of the Government are. nothing short of atrocities upon the masses of the community so far as the necessaries of life are concerned. I think that the Opposition should have refused to grant Supply in the circumstances.
– Mr. Franki did not say that yesterday.
– I care as little for Mr. Franki as I do for the Acting Prime Minister. The former contributed to the funds which were expended with the object of defeating me at the last election, but, notwithstanding that, I defeated both Mr. Franki and the Labour Party. That is my answer to the interjection of the Acting Prime Minister. There are one or two matters upon which I should like to gain information. Do I understand that the £20,000 provided for in this Bill as “Treasurer’s Advance” practically completes the statutory advance of £100,000 ? If so, surely the passing of this Bill will represent a vote of confidence in the Government. I should also like to know whether the amount paid for the report upon patent medicines which Mr. Beale has forwarded to the Government is provided for in the Bill?
– I do not know that any sum has been paid.
– 1 am informed on good authority that £500 has been paid for it. Further, it is not Mr. Beale’s report. ‘ It was written by Dr. Arthur.
– I suppose that the story is a canard.
– It is public property, and if it be. a canard it is the duty of the Acting Prime Minister to silence it. Either it is a canard, which ought to be exposed, or the Government have committed an offence. Some years ago the Acting Prime Minister was the means of displacing a Premier from office because he had paid a sum of money to a certain gentleman for a report upon old-age pensions.
– The Secretary to the Treasury says that he knows nothing whatever about £500 having been paid to Mr. Beale.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Were any expenses paid to him?
– Not that I am aware of. The Secretary to the Treasury knows nothing about the matter.
– I am prepared to accept . that statement. Then there is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. A few days ago ‘there was no honorable member more active than the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in endeavouring to learn whether the bond for £25,000 which Messrs. Laing and Company deposited in connexion with the contract for the Euro-“ pean mail had been converted into cash. If the Government have been “fooled” out of it, it simply shows that they are not cute business men. I trust that when I resume my seat the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will rise and endeavour to ascertain whether this money has been paid. _
– The matter is within the control of the Prime Minister.
– The Government were put to great expense in connexion with the negotiations, and we were informed that Messrs. Laing and Company had deposited a bond for £25,000. Seeing that the contract has been cancelled, that money ought certainly to be forthcoming. I also desire to ask whether or not the control of the Estimates by Parliament is a myth. If we pass this Bill we shall have voted £1,600,000 out of a total of £6,000,000. When the Estimates are submitted for our consideration what ‘ a farce it will be for us to attempt to give effect to any retrenchment proposals if this measure be agreed to. I have a vivid recollection of the Estimates submitted by one Government in this Parliament having been reduced by £180,000. If we sanction this Bill we shall certainly be told at a later stage that to reduce the Estimates will dislocate the finances. The practice of bringing forward monthly or quarterly Supply Bills is one to be severely deprecated. Only the other day the honorable member for Flinders objected to certain legislation being passed by this House because he did not know the state of the finances, yet he now considers that it is “not unreasonable” for the Government to ask for Supply for three months. I “claim that the first work of the- session should be the consideration of the financial proposals of the Government. Personally I entertain very serious objections to the Tariff. Why, then, should I wait until it is under consideration before taking any hostile step? I do not care to wait. The decks are now clear for action.
– Why not test the matter by a direct vote?
– We cannot take any more serious step than to refuse to grant Supply. Those who believe in the Government will naturally desire to force the Bill through. After the ‘Government have obtained Supply for three months they will be in a position to say that the majority of honorable members have confidence in them, and they will not be slow to use that argument when the occasion for it arises. I believe that the Opposition have lost their opportunity. I do not think that there is the slightest chance of defeating the Government at the present time, but, nevertheless, I say that they should have been chaillenged as soon as this Bill was brought forward. The Minister is a very sanguine man if he expects that the discussion upon the Budget and the Tariff will be completed by the time the proposed Supply vote is exhausted.
– I do.
– I do not think there is another member of the Committee who does. Will any honorable member say that be expects the Tariff to be dealt with in the next four months?
– The honorable member expects more than I do. I go further, and say that I will take good care that the Tariff shall not be passed within the next four months, and there are one or two other members of the Committee who will take similar action.
– That is a threat. .
– The honorable member forgets, the “gag.”
– The honorable member should not forget the new Standing Orders.
– I do not forget the “gag,” but I believe that the Acting Prime Minister would be the last man to apply the “ gag “ to honorable members who were resisting the taxation of the masses. What is more, I defy the members of the Labour Party to support a motion for the application of the “gag “ to honorable members fighting for the reduction of taxation upon the masses.
– Why the Labour Party?
– I have said that honorable members returned in support of a high Tariff will naturally desire to have the proposed new Tariff passed into law as quickly as possible, but I object to those who were returned to support a low Tariff taking this sitting down. There should be a struggle if they are in earnest. The Minister says that the Tariff will be through before the three months’ Supply is exhausted.
– I hope so. .
– The honorable gentleman now only hopes so.
– I think it will, also.
– The honorable gentleman first said it would be through before the three months’ Supply is exhausted, then he said he hoped it would, and now he says he thinks it will. THis proposal should be resisted by all those who consider a high Tariff inimical to the interests of the masses of the people. If honorable members do not view the Tariff in that light they might just as well give the Government Supply now as at any other time. We shall find when the Supply now asked for is exhausted that the Government will come down with another Supply Bill, and their position will then be stronger than itis to-night.
– What do they want three months’ Supply for?
– Because the Acting Prime Minister desires that the consideration of the Tariff shall not be interfered with by other business. I do not believe that honorable members are prepared to pass the Tariff in globo. There will certainly bediscussion upon it, and quite apart from the adoption of obstructive tactics, it is clear from the number of items it contains that ordinary debate and criticism of those items will occupy more than three months. Unless in a case of emergency, I believe that any Bill for more than a month’s Supply should be resisted. In granting the Government four months’ Supply honorable members are absolutely surrendering their control of the Estimates. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie usually takes an active part in the discussion of the Estimates, and I remind him that if he agrees to vote £1,600,000 out of a total Supply of £6,000,000 his power to secure reductions in the Estimates will have passed away.
– What is£1,000,000?
– The honorable member worried about £25,000.
– I should like to see the honorable member worry about this Supply Bill when he hasan opportunity to put Ministers in a corner, and secure some information about the £25,000 referred to.
– The honorable member forgets that honorable members in the Labour corner fire blank cartridge.
– Do they ? I always considered that they were an earnest body of men. From that, honorable members will see how simple I am.
– The acting leader of the Opposition has always a kind word to say for the Labour Party.
– The honorable member’s party went out without firing even blank cartridge.
– I consider the interjection a very pertinent one. The Opposition, in neglecting to challenge the Government on this Supply Bill, lay themselves open to the charge of firing blank cartridge. I know it is of no use for one man to challenge the Government, but I wish the Opposition were sufficiently disciplined to do so, not with any hope of defeating them, but as a protest against this method of dealing with the finances of the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that the numbers are up, and the Government will get this Supply Bill through, but we should protest against it. When the turn of the wheel takes place, honorable members opposite who are smiling now will be the first to protest when some future Government makes a similar proposal.
– We do not expect a Tariff from every Government.
– I am aware that the Tariff is the excuse, but I have already explained that the Government can have no hope of getting the Tariff through before the Supply now asked for is exhausted. I expect to hear the motion introducing another Supply Bill submitted from the Chair before the discussion of the Tariff is completed.
.- Before the Treasurer replies, I should like a little information in regard to the item “Advance to the Treasurer, £20,000.” I direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to a vote of £1,000 for the Women’s Work Exhibition.
– Where is that ?
– The honorable member will find it referred to at page 17 of the Estimates. What I wish to say is that this item is put down in the Estimates under the heading of “ Expenditure for the year 1906-7.”
– Then it was passed last year.
– It was not passed last year. That is my point. I have searched the Estimates for last year, and they include no item of the kind. I say that if this Government gives without parliamentary authority £1,000 to any Toorak society or association such as this Women’s Work Society, I, for one, will move to the other side of the House.
– That is a threat also.
– The item appears under the column of expenditure for last year.
– Exactly. Let the honorable member look up the Estimates of expenditure for last year, and he will not find that any such vote was passed by Parliament.
– It is a very serious thing if that is so, and the item is included in the expenditure of last year.
– It is so. I should be glad if any honorable member can refer me to any Estimates or any vote passed by this House, which includes an item of ,£1,000 for the Women’s Work Exhibition.
– Put in that way it looks remarkably like a subterfuge.
– I do not propose to describe it,
– In any case, if it has not been spent it cannot be spent this year on the authority of the Estimates for this year.
– Cannot the honorable member see that it is possible that it has already been spent, and that is what is meant by its inclusion in the column of expenditure for last year?
– I take it that that column refers to amounts passed last year.
– If the honorable member is sufficiently industrious, I should like him to try if he can find any vote of the kind on the Estimates for last year.
– I agree with the honorable member that the matter to which he refers needs explanation.-
– In my opinion, the intention is to pay the amount out of the advance to* the Treasurer. If this amount is not paid, it would be a monstrous tiling to pay it out of the Treasurer’s advance. This is not the last that will, be heard of the matter.
– What is the Women’s Work Association?
– I do not know anything about it, except that it is generally recognised as some affair got up by high society ladies.
– Not at all. It is an effort initiated by Lady Northcote to get the women of Australia to make an exhibition of their own work, and working women are included.
– I invite the honorable member for Corio to give his own explanation of the matter, but I ask him how many workmen’s wives are on the Committee of the Association ? I have no wish to dogmatize about this, but I say that I made a search of the Estimates for last year, and was unable to find this item. I find it now included in the Estimates for this vear under the column setting out the expenditure for 190677, as if the amount had been voted in that year.
– Not a penny of it has yet been received.
– Then, before we pass this Bill, we ought to have from the Government an undertaking that. the money will not be paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account.
– If the amount has not been paid, it should not appear in the column.
– It is in the general Estimates, and not in the Supply Bill.
– We are proposing to grant an advance of .£20,000 to the Treasurer, who - can pay out of that advance whatever he pleases, provided that he obtains later on an indemnity from the Parliament. There are three columns in the Estimates. I take it that the first column shows the estimated amount that the Government ask us to vote for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1908; that the second column represents the appropriation for the year 1906-7 ; and that the last column Shows the expenditure in respect of that year. I find in the last column this sum of ,£1,000. Has that amount been expended ?
– Not a farthing of it has been received.
– Then we want from the Government a guarantee that it will not be paid out of the ,£20,000 that is being advanced’ to the Treasurer.
.- I wish” to draw attention to a matter relating to a vote of .£5,000 granted last year to promote immigration. I find that of that sum- , * £150 has been paid to the New South Wales branch of the Immigration League of Australia, of which Dr. Arthur is president - a branch which issued a statement of the resources of Australia so optimistic that some honorable members seemed to think that it verged upon the inaccurate. A further sum of .£100 was said by the ex-Treasurer, the right honorable member for Swan, to have been paid to the Victorian branch, and I wish to point out to the Committee some of the misstatements circulated by the Victorian Settlement division of the Immigration League of Australia, of which the Prime Minister is president, and of which, I am sure, he knows nothing. There are connected with it a number of gentlemen whose names are reputable, and who, I feel sure, would be ashamed to find an organization with which they were associated lending its name to misstatements contained in a pamphlet issued apparently with the object of inducing settlement. In the pamphlet I find the following -
Do you know that from 1891 to the 31st December, 1906, Victoria has lost by net emigration by sea (by excess of departures over arrivals) 77,068 persons, of whom 24,428 have emigrated to New Zealand?
Do you know that Victoria is threatened with further losses in the immediate future, owing to land in the other States and in the Northern Territory being made available for thousands of settlers?
We have paid £100 to a league which scatters statements ofthis kind all over the Commonwealth. The pamphlet also contains the following paragraph -
We must secure land for our own people in Victoria before land can be offered to immigrants. No immigration is possible to Victoria until the State Government has arranged for land for its own people.
– That is not a misstatement ?
– I hold that immigration to Victoria is possible, and that the people of Victoria will be glad to receive immigrants.
– The other day the Victorian Government could not settle twentyseven of them.
– They have settled hundreds. An immigration league which receives fromthe Government a grant to assist its efforts to promote immigration to Australia is allowed to distribute pamphlets of this sort all over the world. We have in the pamphlet the further statement -
We do not want our farmers’ sons to be leaving Victoria. We believe emigration from a rich young country like Victoria is a symptom that there is something wrong, and we think the want of land is the root of the matter. We want our farmers’ sons to get land in Victoria, and to stay here and prosper. We do not want the land to remain uncultivated. We want the land to be tilled, and to increase the production of Victoria.
It proceeds to give a lot of information about the central districts surrounding Port Phillip Bay, and then states that the county of Grant, in which my electorate is situate, “ lost . 7,655 of its population from 1871 to 1881.” As a matter of fact, from 1881 to 1891, as well as from 1891 to 1901, the population of that county increased.
– Was that only the natural increase ?
– Grant county has gained in population in respect of two decades other than the one mentioned here. In a pamphlet, designed presumably to attract immigration to Victoria, we find special reference made to the only decade in which there has been a loss of population. It is alsostated that in the north-central district of Victoria, comprising Anglesey, Dalhousie, and Talbot, there has likewise been a loss of population. The pamphlet is so full of shocking pessimistic statements that I do not think we could have done worse than spend £100 in this way. I find also the statement that -
The losses of population we have mentioned mean that instead of there being in these districts a natural increase of population, in the periods mentioned, there is a decline of population as shown by the census returns, from which these saddening particulars have been taken.
Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed,
That it should come to this :
This should not be.
It is not the aged, the feeble, the vicious, or the weak who are leaving Victoria. The policy of emigration from Victoria, however hidden and unconfessed, exposes itself in its workings. It is theyoung men and women taught in our State schools. It is the strong, the daring, the enterprising, the robust, who are leaving, and who marry and settle down in other lands. The marriage rate in Victoria is below the average for Australia, and the average for Australia is lower than in the following twelve countries of Europe : - Hungary, Spain, German Empire, Belgium, Austria, England and Wales, France, Holland Switzerland, Denmark, Scotland, and Italy.
The birth rate in Victoria is lower than in any Australian State (except South Australia, which is slightly lower), and lower than New Zealand. And the average birth rate in Australia is lower than in any of the European countries (1902), except Ireland and France.
– The Prime Minister is president of this league?
– He is, but I do not think he knows how the use of his name is being abused. It is scandalous that Victoria, and indeed Australia, should be slandered in this way.
– What is the title of the pamphlet?
– It is a pamphlet issued by the Victorian Land Settlement Division of the Immigration League of Australia, of which Mr. Alfred Deakin, Prime Minister, is president, and Mr. Joshua - a gentleman who I am sure would not knowingly have anything to do with such statements as these - is treasurer. Let me make one more quotation from it -
In recent years, announcements are officially made as to the numbers that are being placed upon the land. The fact is not disclosed that these persons may have left or abandoned .land in other parts of the State. The persons induced to go to one part of the State may come from another part. We do not attract immigrants from abroad. We do not attract farmers from other States; other _States take farmers from .us. The moving of .farmers is called settlement.
– Is that the same Mr. Joshua who wanted to clothe himself in fig leaves’?
– I do not suppose that Mr. Joshua knew that this was being done. But the responsibility rests with the Government who have given £100 to the Immigration League to see that immigrants are attracted to this country and not repelled from it.
– By telling the truth?
– Well, there are newspapers published in Australia which call themselves by the name of truth, but which” are mere scandal mongers, and publish vile muck. The honorable member should not expect the unexplained truth to be told in every case. There are certain things adverse to the well-being of a State that should not in all circumstances be published abroad. If the honorable member wanted people to come and live near him, would he think it necessary - though it might be the truth - to point out that his second cousin’s mother-in-law had something, wrong with her mental condition?
– But surely the honorable member would not go the length of saying that there is land waiting for immigrants in this country ?
– We want immigrants to come here, and the worst thing we can do is to point out all the bad things about the’ country, whether they are statistically correct or not. The Government is responsible for what I complain about, and ought ‘ not to pay another penny towards this Immigration League until they are assured that the money will be used for its legitimate purpose. At all events, it should not be used to slander a State which, as I believe to be the case with Victoria, is the best in the group.
.- The honorable member for Corio has complained that £100 has been given to the Immigration League in Victoria. We learn from honorable members opposite that the Immigration League in New South Wales has received ,£150. I should say that the Victorian League should have received the whole lot, as it has told the truth. When the honorable member for Flinders was Premier ‘ of Victoria, he pointed out in a speech at Nhill that the population was leaving the country districts of this State, and flocking to the towns. That is all that the pamphlet quoted. by the honorable member for Corio states so far as I could gather from the passages which he read. There is nothing in those passages that has not been said many times on the platform- in Victoria during the last ten years. It has been repeated over and over again that the reason why settlers do not come to this State is that we have not land for them to settle upon. We have heard many times that farmers have to leave Victoria to obtain land. In that respect, I believe that the pamphlet is on right lines, and I do not at all complain of the alleged misrepresentations as the honorable member for Corio has done. I wish to direct the attention of the Treasurer to a matter which I brought under his notice some time ago. I asked him whether he would do what I believe other Treasurers did prior to the occupancy of the office by the right honorable member for Swan, namely, pay the officers who have obtained increments their arrears out of the advance to the Treasurer. I wish to ask the honorable gentleman to state- whether he - has looked into that matter, and whether he intends to pay fifth class officers who are entitled to increments the arrears due to them at the present time? If he will not, I desire to know whether it is true that officers in other classes are being paid their arrears at the present time ; and, if so, what objection there is to treating fifth class officers in the same fashion.
– I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without directing attention to the matter of paying funds voted by this Parliament for specific purposes, to outside organizations. Parliament voted .£5,000 for the encouragement of immigration. Out of that sum money has been paid to Immigration Leagues in Victoria and New South’ Wales. I do not object to money being spent for the purpose of encouraging legitimate ‘ immigration in an honest and truthful manner. But I do object to the money of the Commonwealth, voted for a specific purpose, being applied to what I must describe as a scandalous misrepresentation of the actual state of affairs, at least in some of the States. A letter written by Dr. Arthur hasalready been quoted. That letter was not creditable to him as a man, and certainly it was very discreditable to the institution of which he is president. I intend to read it again. It was written to Mr. Marshall Lyle, of Melbourne, by way of instruction to him as to what heshould and should not do in regard to the immigration movement. The letter said -
We are putting boxes on the Himalaya, and Medic, both leaving to-day. Can you do the same, or get your Government to do so? This is a splendid work, which requires to be organized. All these hundreds of passengers are potential immigration agents. Don’t mix up immigration and land settlement in your pamphlet. In fact, rather issue two. In the immigration book everything must be couleur de rose. No hint of difficulty about getting land. You need not be afraid you will be rushed. Even when Queensland offered cheap farms in London, there was only one applicant. As regards land settlement for home (Victorian) consumption, you can be as pessimistic and as indignant as you please. The blacker the better, though don’t get too much on the line, “What is the use of having the immigrants here, when we have nothing to offer them.” That would choke off subscriptions.
The only purpose for which the Immigration League seems to be run is to obtain subscriptions and keep going a movement that is not in the interests of the people of Australia -
Anyhow, don’t do anything to frighten off immigrants, because competition for them is so keen in Europe, and even if conditions change for the better in Victoria you might find that it was of no avail, as you had given the place a bad reputation.
That, in my opinion is a clear indication that £150 has been paid over without any inquiry as to the method of the organization, or as to the object which the organization may have in view. But there is something stronger yet, in the way of corroboration and condemnation. I have here a letter, copied from the Barry Dock News, South Wales, as follows -
To the Editor of The Barry Dock News.
Dear Sir, - There is a great demand at present, and will be for some time to come, for miners of all kinds, and pick and shovel men, in New South Wales. There has been such an expansion in the coal trade that hundreds of miners are needed at the various collieries on the North and South Coasts. There the wages are from 8s. a day upwards, men sometimes making 12s. or 15s. a day. But all the other kinds of mining need men also. Two thousand miners are required at Broken Hill, several hundreds at the Cobar Copper Mines, at from 11s. to 22s. a day, and small mines all over the country whether they be copper or goldor tin are advertising for men.
Again, the Commonwealth Oil Corporation is asking for some hundred men for railway construction, and will soon be requiring an equal number of shale miners. The land at which this Corporation is operating is about 120 miles from Sydney, N.S.W., and good men may be certain of permanent work there.
The New South Wales Government is also commencing the construction of a railway of over 300 miles in length, the cost of which is estimated at about three million pounds. This line will take five years to construct, so that continuous work can be guaranteed. Men, therefore, who are accustomed to the pick and shovel, and who understand blasting, and rockbutting, need have no hesitation to come to New South Wales, as the prospects offered them are better than anywhere else.
The New South Wales Government is offering liberal assisted passages to miners and labourers. A number of Scotch and Welsh miners have already arrived, and others are expected.
I have always understood that the object of the New South Wales Government was to induce people to place themselves on the land ; but it would appear, from what I have read, that the principal object is to invite immigrants to enter into competition with all except those who are engaged on the land.
I shall be glad to supply further particulars if letters are addressed to me at the Immigration League of Australia, Sydney, Australia; or our London agent, at 36 King William-street, E.C., may be written to. - Yours, etc.,
Richard Arthur, M.D., President,
The Immigration League of Australia
There could be nothing stronger than that in the way of wholesale misrepresentation as to the state of affairs in New South Wales. We have the letter from Mr. Marshall Lyle advising that gentleman not to mix up the land question with that of immigration, and then we have the other, setting out that there is work galore in every other occupation, except that involved in land settlement. But even that is not all.I have here a letter from the Intelligence Bureau of New South Wales - the bureau to which the Premier of New South Wales wrote asking for help to dispose of immigrants about to arrive.
– Yes; that is the League which has, by omission and commission, tried to mislead the people of England in regard to the opportunities for remunerative work in New South Wales.
– I think he is a doctor of divinity, judging by his statements. The following is the letter written by direction of the Premier of New South Wales -
Phillip and Bridge Streets,
Sydney, 20th April, 1907
I have the honour, by direction from the Premier, to bring the following matters under your kindly notice.
In view of the increasing numbers of immigrants that are now arriving week by week, we have to use every means to get into touch with employers of labour in the country districts who may be able and willing to take such immigrants and supply them with different classes of work.
We have got into touch with large numbers of pastoralists, farmers and other employers who have intimated their requirements from time to time, but unfortunately we find that we are frequently not able to supply the exact class of labour needed at the time, and when it arrives in due course the vacancy may not exist. I have therefore found it necessary to take some steps to secure an immigration officer in each of the hundred leading towns of this State, who would inform this Department of any demand for labour in his district, and also receive, despatch and advise where necessary any new arrival in search of work. If we knew that there was a fair demand for labour of a certain class in any district, we might then safely send a certain number of immigrants to the immigration officer there with the confident hope that they would be duly placed, although we might not be able to indicate the exact employer to whom we were despatching each immigrant.
I recognize very fully that your officers have already so many multifarious duties that it is with the utmost reluctance I felt myself compelled to ask the Premier to allow me to request you to authorize your officers to undertake another one, but in view of the fact that it is impossible to get sufficient services from private persons in many districts, and that no other class of public officers can do this work so well, I feel emboldened to trespass again upon your kindness in the event of your being able to allow the officers in the chief districts to assist in this way.
The Premier has approved of an honorarium of 10s. each for every immigrant received from headquarters, and suitably provided with employment through the agency of such officers.
I have been authorized also to ask all other Government Departments who have officers in country towns to urge such officers to keep in touch with the Police Department, and inform the local representative of that Department of all cases which come under their notice where immigrants can be effectively placed in rural labour. I therefore would express the hope that you will be able to assist in the way indicated by allowing your country officers to undertake the duty of reporting to me any avenues of employment for immigrants as agricultural labourers, mechanics, miners, or general
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) H. C. L. Anderson,
Then the following is given as the reply from the Inspector-General of Police -
The above circular has been transmitted to every member of the Police Force, with directions from the Inspector-General of Police that the proposed duties be performedat ten “bob” (10s.) a head for each immigrant.
Commonwealth money is, therefore, being spent in upholding a League which is inviting people to come to New South Wales by deceptions such as those published in the South Wales paper. When those immigrants arrive, every man in the State service, including all the officers and members of the Police Force, has to be employed to try to find a way whereby they can earn sufficient to live upon. The police officers are to be paid at the rate of “ten ‘ bob ‘ a nob ‘ “ for the services they render in finding employment for immigrants, for whom, according to this deceptive advertisement, there is work available in this country, while, as a matter of fact, there is no such work, except under the extreme conditions pointed out in the letter I have just quoted. What will the people of the old country think of the people of Australia, or of the Treasurer who is responsible for granting even £150 of public money to an organization to mislead them in England, and to deceive them when they come here? What will the people who have read Dr. Arthur’s letter in that South Wales paper - copied as it has been into other papers throughout Great Britain, and the glowing account of trade and employment in New South Wales - think when they read the letters from those immigrants who have been bandied about from pillar to post at “ ten ‘ bob ‘ a nob ‘ “ by the New South Wales police in the effort to find them work at anything a week and their tucker? It is simply cruel, and is doing Australia more harm than anything that has happened hitherto. It is an unpardonable offence that public money should be paid to such a League without due investigation, and without that careful control which the Commonwealth Treasurer should exercise over funds entrusted to his care. It is an offence which should not be repeated by any future Treasurer.
– It was not the present Treasurer who authorized the grant. I am afraid the honorable member for Parramatta will have the task of beheading the honorable gentleman who was responsible, seeing that he now sits on the same side of the Chamber as the honorable member.
– Has the honorable member considered that’ to offer the police a sum of money for doing this work is really offering a premium on immorality and crime, because it takes them away from their proper duty of looking . after criminals?
– I was just coming to that point. It is said in the letter I quoted that “ they reluctantly applied to the police to put this extra duty upon the staff, because of the multitude of duties the Force have to perform already.” We know that the ‘ duties of the police are anything from A to Z. If a policeman has to waste his time asking employers, whether they have work available for immigrants who may arrive, but about whom he knows nothing personally, he will not have time for the duties which. he undertook to perform when he took his oath of office. The honorable member for West Sydney has some knowledge of Dr. Arthur, having been, I believe, associated with him in some matter, so that he speaks with authority and knowledge which I must respect. The state of affairs that has been revealed should not be tolerated by this Committee or by a Treasurer having control of the public funds. I trust that it will be made public, so that the people of New South Wales may learn, not only what these men are doing under the garb of an Immigration League, but what they are doing in the interests of another class of people for whom they are working. They profess to be actuated by a desire to populate Australia with the right class of people, and, while getting subscriptions to the League for that purpose, they use the money to deceive the British public, and to degrade the public sentiment of Australia. I have read those striking extracts so that, when sums are being voted for immigration in the future - an amount of £20,000 appears on the EstimatesinChief for the purpose - we may indicate clearly and unmistakably that no more money is to be expended in this way unless the Government have direct control, and that none shall be given to an irre sponsible League to advertise a state of affairs that does not exist in Australia.
.- I believe that Parliament voted £5,000 last year for the purpose of advertising Australia, but not necessarily to be spent directly to bring out any particular class of immigrants. We find now that some of the money has been given to people who are quite irresponsible - I say it with ali respect - so far as concerns the spending of Government funds. On the one hand, we have a complaint from the honorable member for Corio, that one branch which has received some of the money will not keep certain facts back, while on the other hand there has been a general complaint that another branch of the socalled Immigration League have been so misrepresenting the position in Australia as practically to have misapplied the money that was given them by the ex-Treasurer for the purpose of advertising the Commonwealth. Quite a number of these advertisements, which have’ been spread throughout the industrial centres of England, were sent to me to-day. The position of the coal mining industry in New South Wales has, at the instigation of the Premier of the State, been inquired into by the head of the Labour Department there, and, after an exhaustive investigation, he has been forced to admit that the supply of labour is equal to the demand. He adds the forecast - though in this I regard him as treading on very dangerous ground - that during the next twelve months perhaps 1,000 men may be absorbed. I have as intimate a knowledge of coal mining as is possessed by any man in this country, and I say that, if everything goes well with the coal trade for the next twelve months, and the output is doubled, openings may be afforded for the employment of a large number of additional men. But at the present time men who have arrived in our coal mining districts from the old world are absolutely disappointed with the conditions with which they have been met, and regard the promises made to them as unfulfilled, the fact being that, if no employment were given to the local labour now looking for work, the utmost endeavour could not find places for more than fifty additional hands. Do not these facts give the lie to the statements made by those in responsible positions in the State that hundreds of men can be employed in various avocations? The adoption of the methods referred to by the honorable member for Gwydir to secure work for the immigrants now here shows that the State authorities are atstraits to fulfil their promises. If there were employment for 2,000 men at Broken Hill, and for another 2,000 in the Newcastle and Maitland districts, what need would there be to use all the Departments of the State to endeavour to find work for those who have come here? The efforts which are being made to secure openings for immigrants show that employment is not so easily obtained as has been made to appear. We have no right, when attempting to attract desirable immigrants to Australia, to hide the condition of things here. Last year this Parliament voted £5,000 to advertise the Commonwealth abroad, and this year it is proposed to vote £20,000. I say, let the truth be told when advertising our resources.
– The whole truth; not only statements likely to injure the Commonwealth.
– I wish the whole truth to be told ; I have no desire to injure the Commonwealth. I question if the honorable member has attempted to ascertain whether he or anyone else could get a block of land in Victoria if he sought for it. In New South Wales, on an average from 300 to 400 persons apply for every block of land that is put up for ballot. While the members of the party to which I belong have no objection to immigrants sharing our good things, we say that we should put our house in order before inviting others to come here, and should make land accessible to our own people as well as to others.
– How does the honorable member propose to do it ?
– By putting a fair valuation on the land which in times past has been filched from the public.
– How can the Commonwealth Parliament deal with the matter?
– By adopting the policy which the Labour Party has put forward, and which it is not necessary to reiterate.
– Whatever Australian conditions may be,they are three times better than those of England.
– That does not make them any better in themselves. Does the honorable member think that we should help those who seek to encourage, not general immigration, but the bringing here of parties of workmen for whom there is no employment ?
– I do not.
– Has the honorable member read that hundreds of young Victorian farmers have gone to other States because they could not get land here ? That being so, should not something be done to improve the land laws of this State, and of other States where the conditions are almost equally as bad? Does he not believe in opening up the waste lands of the country ? When that has been done, we shall be in a position to share our good things with the people of the whole world.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that the last block of land thrown open for selection by the Victorian Closer Settlement Board was not fully applied for?
– If the Victorian experience resembles that of New South Wales, the cost of resumption was so high that the Government is compelled to ask more for the land than it is really worth.
– Yet the honorable member says that there are 200 or 300 applicants for every block that’ is offered by ballot.
– That statement is absolutely correct.
– In one case, there were 800 applicants for three blocks.
– How would the honorable member have the land resumed? Should not the Government pay for it at its proper price ?
– It should be resumed on a fair valuation.
– That is what is done.
– The land resumed in Victoria has been purchased at below market prices - below the prices which it would have brought at auction.
– It is a new thing to hear of private persons selling land to the Government for less than they could obtain at public auction. I hold that, as it is being proposed to vote money to advertise the resources of Australia, we have a right to control its expenditure, and should not leave the matter to irresponsible authorities, by whom the money may be used for purposes other than we intend. We have a right to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether any money will be spent out of the Treasurer’s advance to pay for advertising.
– The Treasurer’s advance vote has nothing to do with this matter.
– The £20,000 which we are asked to vote as an advance to the Treasurer may be used for this or any other purpose.
– It will not be used by me for the purpose to which the honorable member refers.
– In dealing with the Supply Bill, we have a right to discuss any matter affecting the policy of the Government.
– Yes; but as the Acting Prime Minister has given me the assurance that nothing will be spent out of the Treasurer’s advance for advertising abroad, I am content to let the further discussion of this matter stand over until the Estimates come before us.
– There is one very important matter on which I should like to get some information from the Treasurer, and that is whether under the experimental imposition of Excise duties on agricultural machinery the rates of wages paid by the manufacturers are the standard rates of wages in the district. So far as I can find out there seems to be a general impression in South Australia that the experiment is hot working as was anticipated. I am told that some employers are evading the award of the Arbitration Court. Of course we shall know all about that when the return which I moved ‘for the other day is furnished, and the Minister has been kind enough to say that it will be made available at the earliest moment. I want to know what steps have been taken to protect the revenue; what amount of Excise duty has been collected, and what method has been adopted. I should be very glad to know whether any obstruction has been put in the way of officers getting all the information which they are entitled to obtain for the Department. I do not desire to delay the passing of the Supply Bill any longer, provided that the Minister is prepared to give us the information on the points which have been raised by honorable members, and also in connexion with the collection of Excise duties on agricultural machinery.
.- I only rise for the purpose of asking the Acting Prime Minister whether he has an answer to give to the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Yes, when I get a chance to speak.
– I am willing .to give the honorable gentleman a chance now.
– I want to listen to what other honorable members have to say before I speak.
.- I am very pleased that the honorable member for Gwydir has brought up the question of immigration. I trust that before more money is expended in that direction the Commonwealth Government will look into the matter, and have it put on a proper basis. It has been stated that the Premier of New South Wales has offered so much money to the police to get billets for immigrants. I was credibly informed more than two months ago that not one shilling but ten shillings per head was to be given to the police for each immigrant who was provided with employment. Knowing of the existence of that offer a young man in Sydney asked me to get him employment. I took him to the Intelligence Department and asked the authorities if they could find him a billet. They asked, “ Is he an immigrant?” I replied “ No. He is a young Australian of good character and ability, who is out of work.” Thereupon they said “ We are not a labour bureau to get work for unemployed Australians. If he were an immigrant we would try to get work for him.”
– Australians are not wanted.
– Exactly. While I do not object to the Government finding employment for every immigrant, I think it would be a good thing if they would take it upon themselves to find employment for every man who cannot get work. Unemployed men are no good to the community. Men should always be at work, and if it is impossible for a man to find work, the Government should do their best to find it for him. What I protest against -is that an office should be run at a large expense, and that a sum should be paid to the police to find employment for immigrants, while our own men are deliberately refused help.’ It constitutes quite a scandal. In my opinion the position as disclosed by the letter from Dr. Arthur .and others is a disgrace.
.- I have been informed that the consequence of the imposition of Excise duties on agricultural machinery has been that a number of farmers in South Australia have been charged £29 for a plough, which in the previous year was offered at .£24, and £37 for a plough which in the previous year was offered at .£32. The manufacturers, through their agents, have alleged throughout the State that the increased prices are consequent upon the Excise duties which they have had to pay upon the machinery. Since I came to Melbourne, I have ascertained that those firms appear’ on the schedule of firms exempted under the order of Mr. JusticeO’Connor from paying Excise duties. I ask the Minister, before we begin the consideration of the Tariff, to instruct his officers to call upon each firm to produce their catalogue of prices for last year, as well as for this year. If, from a comparison of the catalogues, it should be found that my statement is correct, then it will be clear evidence that the firms have been deliberately robbing the farmers of the increase in the prices under the excuse that they had been charged Excise duties. Not only have they done that, but they have credited this Parliament with having done something which has made the cost of the machinery much dearer to the primary producer. I think it is the duty of the . Minister to have the matter investigated thoroughly before we proceed to consider the Tariff, so that we may know how to deal with these manufacturers.
– I rather regret the attitude which the Acting Prime Minister seems to take up on this question.
– I am taking up a very quiet attitude.
– The honorable gentleman is very quiet indeed, and so far as I can see, he is absolutely unconcerned.
– Not a bit.
– My honorable friends of the Labour Party can roar at the opening of this sitting, and coo at the end of it. They can start like roaring lions, and finish like sucking doves, and still the honorable gentleman seems unconcerned. What I desire him to do on future occasions- is to give an answer, if possible, to each complaint as it is made.
– Not as each complaint is made, but after all the complaints have been submitted.
– Of course, it is much simpler to the honorable gentleman to deal with the complaints together. There was a time when my honorable Socialist friends seemed almost ready to break their leashes. They have had their roaring, but now they are all tame again. The honorable member for Coolgardie started with a proposition to come over to -the Opposition if a certain demand which he made to ‘the Minister were not’ immediately acceded to, but he is like all my honorable friends of the Labour Party who - I am not easting any reflection on them - rather remind ‘me of cockatoos in captivity. They can shriek, and make a terrible row on their perches, but they all have chains on their legs. I do not see now a sign of the attitude with which they started the proceedings.
– It is better to be a cockatoo than a monkey.
– I am glad that the honorable member has a menagerie in the corner. I give him credit for every sort of species. Any one who has witnessed the performance this evening can understand that these honorable members are only speaking to their constituents, but whether they say this or that,’ the Minister can sit in the chair, and do as he pleases. The majority of the honorable members supporting the Government have actually no power in the Chamber now. However, that is only by the way. What I desire to ask the Treasurer is, what explanation there is of the position put by the honorable member for Coolgardie? The position is a very difficult one, I admit.
– I am going to give an explanation, difficult as it may be, if the honorable gentleman will give me an opportunity.
– I hope that the Acting Prime Minister does not think that his explanation will close the discussion, because, unless it is satisfactory, it will be the duty of this Committee to thoroughly canvass the matter. We are now asked to give the Government a free hand for three months. If they have misapplied the public funds in the past, that fact should constitute a serious bar to our granting them control over the expenditure of similar sums ^11 the future. I am glad that the Acting Prime Minister ‘ is about to heed ‘ the anger exhibited by the honorable member for Coolgardie by giving a belated explanation of the expenditure upon the item to which he referred.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Trea able member has given me an opportunity
– The fact of the Acting Prime Minister speaking now will not close the debate?
– It will not close the debate, although I hope to finish it to-night. In reply to the honorable member for Kooyong, I wish to say that the Minister. of Trade and Customs has not yet dealt with the matter of what action shall be taken in respect of importations landed at ports other than the- first port of call by vessels in Australian waters when the Tariff was introduced. The Government have no desire to act harshly.
– The course suggested was not adopted on the last occasion.
– I am aware of that. If the honorable member will only contain himself for a few minutes-
– I shall have something to say upon the matter.
– The question will be considered probably to-morrow. I can make no promise at all, because it is quite impossible, in any circumstances, to return any of the money which has been paid by way of duty where the packages have been broken.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister promise to consider the matter quickly?
– That is exactly what I am doing. Personally, my desire is that no injury shall be done by accident, if I may so put it, to those persons who were unfortunate enough to have goods in transit between certain ports in Australia when the Tariff was introduced. But whether that injury can be prevented by the administration of the Department is a matter about which I am not certain.
– Will the question be dealt with speedily?
– I shall ask my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, to deal with it as early as possible.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister recommend that it be dealt with by Act of Parliament instead of upon Ministerial authority?
– That is not possible.
– It is possible.
– It is not practicable. If the old rates of duty are to be charged, they must be collected before the packages are broken, or not at all. That practice has not prevailed in the past, although it was followed in nearly every State.
– If the rates levied under the old Tariff be collected upon these goods, what guarantee shall we have that the consumers will riot afterwards be called upon to pay the higher rates?
– I quite admit that that is the point. I cannot say more than that I will consult the Minister of Trade and. Customs to-morrow, and the matter will be decided as quickly as possible.
– What constitutional authority have the Government for retaining money which the Parliament has not authorized them to collect?
– That would be a matter for the opinion of the Crown Solicitor to whom it would be referred. In regard to the matter of the Excise duties on machinery, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I wish to say that before I relinquished Ministerial control of the Department of Trade and Customs, I gave instructions that the Excise duties were to be collected from all manufacturers who committed a breach of the regulations. Probably proceedings are very far advanced by now.
– Ought not the Excise duties to have been collected by this time?
– If there hasbeen any breach probably it has been collected, but it can only be collected where there has been a proved breach.
– Where they do not pay the standard rate of wages ?
– Where there’ has been a breach of the law. I understood that the cases referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for Grey were those of firms who were exempt from the payment of the duty by the direction of the Judge of the Arbitration Court - firms who have added to the cost of their machinery, charges which they were not entitled to add under the law. That, of course, is a different phase of the question altogether, and I shall ask the Minister to have it investigated as early as possible. I recognise that the position should be known so that we may understand how this scheme of Excise duties works before we submit a proposal to continue it, or to substitute something for it. The £20,000 upon the Estimates, to which frequent reference has been made, represents the Treasurer’s advance.
It is intended to cover the conveyance of mails, and the payment of various officers.
– What mails?
– It is intended to cover contingencies connected with the conveyance of mails - contingencies which crop up every day.
– But large sumsof money have previously been votedfor the purpose of covering contingencies.
– I am speaking of contingencies based upon the contingencies of last year. The amount of £20,000 is designed to cover contingencies connected with the conveyance of mails, the purchase of instruments and books, and a number of other things. There is one item which is very important. My predecessor in office declined to pay out of the Treasurer’s advance increments upon salaries in excess of £110 a year. I propose to pay increments upon salaries up to £160, which represents the maximum of the fifth class. If the Treasurer’s advance can be used to pay legitimate and approved salaries up to £110 a year, it is unfair that the fund should not be used to pay increments on salaries up to £160.
– Do these increments represent arrears?
– Yes. There is no reason why they should not be paid.
– Other Treasurers -with the exception of the late Treasurer - have paid them.
– I propose to do what the honorable member has urged in numerous questions.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister explain the complaint of the honorable member for Coolgardie?
– I shall. When the expenditure of £1,000 upon the Women’s Work Exhibition was first mentioned by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I knew nothing whatever about it. It so happened that I was absent when action was taken in this connexion. I understand, however, that the late Treasurer remitted the sum of £1,000 to London with which to pay freight charges upon goods intended for this exhibition in which Lady Northcote takes a great interest.
– It is an exhibition that will do Australia a great deal of good.
– The Peninsular and Oriental Company have agreed to bring all goods which are sent from the Continent to England - to defraying the freight charges upon which this money was to be devoted - to Australia, where the exhibition is to be held, free of cost.
– The Treasurer paid the £1,000 out of a vote?
– I did not pay anything. I expect that the late Treasurer paid it out of the Treasurer’s advance. I wish to say further that the amount that was remitted last year was charged to the Treasurer’s advance, and will appear on the Supply Estimates of 1906-7. That is the information I have in reference to the matter.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that a debatable vote like that should be paid out of the Treasurer’s advance ?
– I should not like to answer a question concerning the action of my late colleague. The late Treasurer thought he was justified in what he did, and 1 am also inclined to think that where it is clear that good may be done to Australia by an exhibition, it might be left to the discretion of the Treasurer to assist a movement of the kind when there is no opportunity to consult Parliament in the matter.
– In fact, the Treasurer would do the same himself if the occasion arose.
– I shall not answer problematical questions, but I am prepared to take all the responsibility I am called upon to take for anything I do.
– The honorable gentleman will surely stand by what his late colleague did.
– I am standing by it now. As a matter of fact, the item does not appear on the Estimates for this year. It is not covered by the Supply Bill we are now seeking to introduce, and if the point were taken, I think it would be held that it is scarcely in order to discuss the subject. When the Budget comes on, or when the Estimates are before honorable members, will be the time to deal with the question. With respect to the £25,000 deposit in connexion with the cancelled mail contract, I may tell honorable members that everything that it is possible to do in regard to that matter is being done to make the persons responsible comply with their legal liability. The Crown Solicitor has had the matter in hand. Honorable members, I believe, are quite aware that nothing will be left undone to make those people pay the £25,000, and prob- ably, also, to cover any loss which may have arisen in connexion with the contract.
– I do not think much of the honorable gentleman’s chance of getting a farthing.
– The honorable member does not know much ‘about it, or he would be aware that our chance of getting the £25,000 is exceedingly good.
– I do not think that I have omitted to reply to any of the questions asked me. 1 hope honorable members will allow the Supply Bill to go through as soon as possible, as I have no wish to sit late to-night.
– I do not think the Minister should try to force the Bill through to-night. There are items of expenditure to be discussed.
.- I have listened to the various questions raised by honorable members, and to the Minister’s reply. I cannot help thinking that the position taken up by the honorable members for Wide Bay and Dalley is the correct position. Honorable members generally are desirous of seeing the Tariff proposals dealt with as soon as possible. _ Until a final decision has been come to with respect to them, the trade of the Commonwealth must continue to be dislocated. ‘
– Consider also the position of the “ strangled industries !”
– On the other hand, 1 believe it is not right that we should conduct our business in such a slipshod manner as to grant three months’ Supply to the Government. »
– Let the honorable member move a vote of want of confidence.
– Let honorable members opposite move such a vote, and cease talking about it.
– The honorable member for Melbourne does a lot of “ squealing” about want of confidence votes. While he might say that the Government have no right to do what they propose to do, when it came to a question of voting the honorable member would find himself “ drawn by the wire,” and his previous statements would go for nothing. The proper procedure is to grant one month’s Supply, and no more. At the end of the month the Treasurer would have to come down for a further grant of Supply, and that would be a pleasant interlude in the Tariff debate. I am prepared to support any motion to the’ effect that we should grant one month’s Supply only. The honorable member for Kooyong and several other honorable members have asked what the Minister, of Trade and Customs proposes to do with respect to ships about to arrive and ships that have arrived at an Australian port. I look upon the question raised as one of very serious moment, because merchants throughout Australia have at this moment cleared out of bond large stocks of tobacco and goods of various kinds, and are charging the public full prices for these goods as though they had paid duty on them in accordance with the new Tariff.
– They are charging more.
– In some instances they are charging twice as much as the increased duty.
– And three times as much.
– I thought everything was cheaper under protection?
– On some items in which the duty leviable under the new Tariff represents an increase of 6d. per lb. the merchants are now charging an increase of from 9d. to is. per lb. to the consumer.
– - In some cases where the duty has been increased by 3d. the price has been raised by 6d.
– That is so.
– That is a good free-trade argument.
– If it is a free-trade argument the honorable member for Yarra agrees with me on the point. Thev are charging these increased prices upon goods that have never paid the increased duty, and thereby, I will not say the public are being robbed, but extortion is being practised upon them. If the Minister of Trade and Customs rules that ships about to arrive, and ships that have touched at one port in Australia, are to be allowed to land their cargoes at the old Tariff rates, the consumers will, still be charged the increased duties on the new scale proposed for the goods brought in those ships. That would not be. fair to the people. The Minister of Trade and Customs should look very carefully into the matter before he accedes to the request of the merchants. Only yesterday I heard that one firm expects, on account of goods which thev have already in hand, and on which dutv has been paid at the old rates, to make £20,000.
– Are they going to PUt the prices up ?
– The prices are up. Has the Minister bought nothing since the Tariff was laid on the table? Prices of goods have been put up since last Friday.
– Prices have been put up and in some instances in the case of goods on which there has been no increase of duty.
– Another brother protectionist admits that prices have been put up because of the proposed increased duties. The matter is one which seriously affects the people. The honorable member for Grey has pointed out a flagrant case affecting very seriously the primary producers. In order to insure the payment of fair rates of wages to the workers engaged in the agricultural implement making industry we imposed an Excise duty from which we decided that the manufacturers should be exempt if reasonable rates of wages were paid by them. As a matter of fact, although they have been exempted from that Excise duty, thev have added it to the price which they charge the farmers for implements supplied to them. This has been going on in several of the States.
– A case as ‘to the rates of wages paid in Victoria has not yet come before Mr. Justice O’Connor.
– This shows at all events that the action taken by us has had a very serious effect upon users of agricultural implements. Any delay in settling the Tariff will mean a large weekly increase in the cost of living to every working man in Australia. The Minister says that if the Supply for which he asks be granted we shall be able to proceed uninterruptedly with the consideration of the Tariff. The passing of a month’s Supplyis a very small matter.
– The honorable member wishes to put off the settlement of the Tariff.
– That is not the question. I have no belief in the protestations of the honorable member that he is eager to proceed with the Tariff. To sit from 7.45 p.m. until 10.30 once a month in order to grant Supply would be a very small matter.
– Would the honorable member be so eager to settle the Tariff if he were in the Minister’s place?
– That is a question that I have not had an opportunity to determine.
– And the honorable member will not have an opportunity for many years.
– The Minister should not be too sure about that.
– I do not thank the honorable member for anything at all events.
– When we reach clause 2 of the Bill I shall move an amendment providing that only one month’s Supply be granted. I do not desire that my amendment shall be regarded as a motion of want of confidence. Honorable members may laugh, but all that I want to insure is honest business procedure.
– If honorable members opposite will not grant us Supply they will soon have a chance to have some other party in office.
– One month’s Supply should be quite sufficient to grant at a time, and when the Bill is in Committee I shall move in the direction I have indicated.
.- May I suggest to the Minister that this is a convenient hour to adjourn?
– The honorable member may make such a suggestion, but we shall not adopt it.
– I hope that the Minister will not take up this attitude. The Committee has debated this question very reasonably.
– Is the honorable member speaking for the Opposition?
– Most of the discussion tonight has come from alleged supporters of the Government.
– Is the honorable member making a threat on behalf of the Opposition ?
– I am making no threat. From his attitude, one would almost imagine that the honorable gentleman was trying to coax the .£25,000 which has been so often referred to out of the defaulting mail bondsmen. The Opposition are making only a reasonable request; but if we are not to be allowed the comfort of the early adjournment usual on Tuesdays, we must carry on the discussion. The honorable member for Corangamite has raised a number of interesting questions, and the most important point with which he has dealt is that relating to refunds of duty. The Treasurer has said that moneys collected in excess of the rates ultimately agreed to by the Parliament could hardly be refunded to the importers. The con- sideration which weighs very heavily with me, and, I think, will weigh with other honorable members; however, is that we are concerned, not with the question of whether or not an importer does his duty by his customers, but whether we do our duty by those who send us here, and our duty, so far as it lies within our power, under the Constitution. Honorable members will find that the Constitution provides that no money shall be appropriated to the Crown except with the consent of this House. The imposition of a duty is an appropriation of the people’s money; and if this House, after the message, refuses to indorse that appropriation, a refund should be made of all moneys collected under a misapprehension on the part of the Minister that the House would indorse the duties originally proposed by him. .
– How can we return to the consumers the excess duty paid ?
– That is a very difficult question, and, so far as the rough equity of the case is concerned, I should not be very much troubled about the refunding of any particular sum collected in excess of any duty ultimately imposed by the Parliament. But we have our duty as interpreters of the Constitution under which we work, and I think that the honorable member for South Sydney would be the first to admit that under the Constitution a Minister has not the power to impose taxation upon the people of Australia without the consent of this House.
– lt has always been done.
– I think that the position in regard to the first Federal Tariff was different. When the original Tariff was before the House, we were trying to determine what really were the burdens upon the backs of the majority of the people of Australia. There were in operation in Australia at the time six separate Tariffs, and it was very difficult for the Chair then to interpret what was and what was not a new burden on the people. In this instance, however, we know that there was a uniform Federal Tariff in operation prior to that now before the House, and that that Tariff has been increased on a message from the Crown. If we do not indorse the increase of a duty, and yet allow the Crown to take the revenue resulting from its own action, we shall practically give up to the Ministry our control of the taxation of the Commonwealth. That is a very serious thing to contemplate. I admit that I should very much prefer some means - if means could be devised - whereby the consumers could obtain the benefit of any ref und, but in any event our duty under the Constitution is to see that the Crown is not allowed to tax the people of Australia without the consent of this House.
– We ought to be equally careful to see that, the importers do not rob the people outside.
– That is a question between the importer and the consumer, the importance of which I have no desire to minimize.
– It is as much our duty to see that people act honestly as it is ‘to make refunds of excess duty paid.
– It is our business, but our first duty is to see that the Crown does not raise funds without our consent.
– Our first duty is to avoid giving people outside a motive to be dishonest.
– We must seriously consider this subject before we express an ex parte opinion upon it. So far as my personal inclinations are concerned, I have no desire that refunds shall be made to importers who, as the result of increased duties, subsequently reduced by Parliament, have made a profit out of their customers. But every member of this House must endeavour to honour the oath to uphold the Constitution that we took in entering Parliament. One of the first principles of the Constitution is that this House shall have the control and the initiation of expenditure. I suggest to the Minister that I have shown__good reason why the debate should now be adjourned until to-morrow. With his consent, I should like to move . that progress be reported.
– Which consent the honorable member will not get.
– The honorable gentleman is very unreasonable. No good purpose can be served by pushing the Bill through to-night. Will the Minister tell us what he expects to have done to-night, so that we may be saved from sitting for an indefinite time?
– I will by-and-by.
– There .are twenty -eight pages of items in this Bill, involving a total expenditure of £1,103,744. Does the Treasurer think that he ought to endeavour to force it through at this late hour? Australia, as a whole, recognises his intrinsic worth and determined virtue, but, at the same time, he is generally suspected of being slightly careless in money matters. That suspicion will gain considerable weight if he insists on pushing this Bill through to-night.
– It is unreasonable for the Government to endeavour to force through the Bill to-night. There is. no violent hurry about it.
– I have to get the Bill passed into law by the 15th inst., and before it is passed it has to go to the S) ens. to
– As far as I know, it would not take much time to deal with the Bill to-morrow. There are several items in it about which honorable members may reasonably require information. There is, for instance, a vote for the Commonwealth Office in London. The Treasurer has’ told us that there is nothing in the Bill but what is in conformity with last year’s Estimates. But I find that there is a vote for ,£250 on account of salaries for the Commonwealth Office, amounting to one-half of the total salaries for the year. There is also an item of £1,800 for contingencies on account of the same office, whereas the total amount expended- last 3’ear was £1,040. I object to this expenditure unless some adequate explanation of it is given. This is one of the items about which there may reasonably be discussion. We can also legitimately discuss the conduct of the Commonwealth Office in London. A large number of members desire to criticise very severely tj§ recent doings of that office, and I do not think that the Minister ought to attempt to bludgeon the Bill through in this way. I promise that if there be an adjournment, there shall be no unnecessary delay in regard to this measure; but there is a reasonable desire to discuss one or two of the items.
.- The Treasurer is asking honorable members to make a very serious concession if he desires to pass this Bill through all its stages in two days. There are, I suppose, halfadozen stages, at any one of which the Bill might be blocked for a day by a single member ; and yet the Treasurer is prepared to make us sit up all night to suit his convenience.
– We might have discussed a hundred items in the time the honorable member has been talking about nothing.
– When I was saying nothing I was listening to the honorable member’s eloquent remarks ; and I hope he will give me credit for sincerity equal to his own. We are told by the Treasurer that it is essential that the Bill should be passed before the 15th inst., but if the honorable gentleman is persistent, he will find that any single honorable member, as I have said, may thwart his wishes.
– I thought we were anxious to get on with the consideration of the Tariff. What is the use of wasting the time of the Committee?
– I hope the honorable member will remember that when one is talking here about the proper passage ofmoney Bills, one is not used to be reminded by members of large experience about the waste of time. When the honorable member has been here a little longer, he will find that the control of the expenditure of the country is one of the most sacred trusts which we have to guard. I hope he will also remember that it is not customary for honorable members on the same side of the Chamber as a member addressing the Chair to -make flank attacks for the purpose even of gaining the popularity of his late enemies. However, I urge on the Minister the a’dvisability - even though it be a matter of small concern to the honorable member who interjected - of permitting honorable members to keep a close control of the finances of the country. I am sure honorable members will be only too glad to make the concession which the Treasurer asks, and pass the Bill at the earliest possible moment ; but in return there must be some consideration of the rights of honorable members.
.- It is customary on Tuesday night, when several honorable members have travelled long distances, to adjourn at about a quarter past ten o’clock; and I hope the Treasurer will not persevere in his determination to force the Bill through to-night. There are yet some honorable members on this side who desire to speak ; and I think it would only be reasonable to adjourn ; but if it be the intention to “ bullock “ the Bill through, then I am prepared to help to “ bullock “ it - in an opposite direction. If the Minister will not listen to reason, why should we be deprived of our undoubted right to deal with every item? The suggestion of the deputy-leader of the Opposition is one which will appeal to every fair-minded person ; and if his appeal is unsuccessful, then the responsibility for any delay must rest on the Government themselves. As there seems to be no response to the appeal, I may as well address myself to the items. In the first place, I object to the granting of three months’ Supply, because it is a departure from all established practice, except to tide over a general election or some other emergency. What is the object of the Government I do not pretend to sa- for certain; but, on the face of it, there appears to be a desire to secure themselves in the positions they now hold. In view of the business before us, the Government having brought down such drastic Tariff proposals, it is difficult to say what may happen within the space of the next few days, not to say the next three months. I can very well understand that the Ministry may have been tempted to ask for three months’ Supply, if only to guard themselves against the possibility of any anticipated - shall I say accident?
– Will the honorable member express his opinion on the advisability of using the Standing Orders in a case like the present? I think they ought to be enforced. This is simply ridiculous.
– I challenge honorable members on the other side to take steps to enforce the Standing Orders. Nothing would suit me better than to see the Standing Orders invoked when members of the Opposition are resisting the imposition of unjust taxation on the workers.
– Then the honorable member is addressing himself to the Tariff?
– In opposing thus Supply Bill, I have in mind the fact that the Government have brought down Tariff proposals which involve the workers of this country in an immense expenditure that. would otherwise have been saved to them. The proposals of the Government entail an increase in the burdens of the wage-earners, which I propose to resist to the utmost. If honorable members on the other side feel inclined to make use of the weapon which they have it in their power to use - I refer, of course, to the ‘ gag ‘ ‘ - I have no objection to being the first victim. It will not hurt me.
– If they were all of my opinion they would shut the honorable member up very quickly.
– If the honorable member for South Sydney has the courage of his convictions, all he has to do is to move the motion himself ; he should not leave it to another honorable member.
– There is time enough yet. It will do in another hour or two.
– One honorable member can submit the necessary motion, and the honorable member for South Sydney, if he feels so inclined, can do it himself. Let him take action, instead of makingthreats to me, or suggestions to other honorable members. We are justified in resisting any proposal to grant Supply to the Government, in view of the fact that they have just laid on the table of the House Estimates and Tariff proposals which involve . the mass of the people in an immense amount of taxation which they ought not to be called upon to bear. The Government in bringing down their proposal for three months’ Supply,’ evidently with the assured support of men who call themselves labour representatives, and who ought to be back-, ing up the workers, standing up for their rights, and defending them from unjust impositions, have’ evidently counted noses beforehand. But the fact that, they have the numbers up does not relieve the Opposition, especially the freetrade section of it, of the duty of opposing by every legitimate means in their power such iniquitous and unjust imposts. -The Tariff . proposals had no sooner been published in the press than the wholesale dealers throughout -Australia; ‘ with* few exceptions, increased the cost to the retailers of / all the commodities they .handled. Numbers of retail shopkeepers have complained to me of the unjust treatment they have received. The prices of the goods supplied to them have been enormously increased, and they have been compelled, of course, to increase the prices to the consumer. The result was that on .Saturday,’ the day on which shopkeepers expect to do more trade than onany ordinary day, many of’ them found their trade almost at a standstill. That is particularly the case with tobacconists and others in a small way of business, especially in the suburbs. The large houses in the city do not feel the pinch so much, becausethey have had the capital behind them to take their goods out of bond, and havemade in many cases a profit amounting to a. handsome fortune, because they had not paid a single farthing of the new duties, although they put up their prices just the same. I am speaking more particularly with regard to the unfortunate retailers in a smaller way of business, who have to depend on the suburban trade for their living. The greatest injury will be done to the poorest sections of the community, who cannot afford to pay enhanced prices for the necessaries of life. Hardship and deprivation of the most acute character will be entailed in many cases, but honorable members on the other side of the Chamber, especially those who profess to represent the wage-earning class, sit back and smile complacently, prepared at the same time to vote a wholly inexcusable three months’ Supply to a Government who attempt to place these crushingly heavy burdens on the backs of the unfortunate people.
– Why do not the honorable member and his party put the Government out?
– If I had the power to put them out the Government would not be in office for five minutes longer. What do those honorable members do who prate so much about their anxiety to insure better conditions for the workers and their wives and children? They do not attempt to censure the Government, although the Government could not last a day without their support. But instead they aid them in their nefarious proposals to heap this iniquitous load of taxation upon the backs of their fellow-workers. It is about time some of the workers knew what their professed friends are doing. It transpires from an admission by the Minister in regard to an item of £1,000 for the Women’s Work Exhibition, about which the honorable member for Coolgardie asked a question this afternoon, that the money has been given without the authority of Parliament. Governments have been turned out of office for much less than that.
– Then the honorable member should turn out this Government.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is always ready to expose the iniquities and illegal practices of the Government, but he comes quietly to heel, and votes behind them at the crack of their whip. The presence of this item is in itself a sufficient reason for refusing to grant three months’ Supply, and I could enumerate many others in regard to which a full explanation isneeded. The Opposition would be very supine if it were to make no protest against such proposals.
One of our chief duties is to see that the Government has not too much money to spend, and I, as a member of this party, was elected to act as one of the watchdogs guarding the public purse. However, if the Acting Prime Minister will agree not to go beyond the preliminary stages tonight, I shall be willing to reserve the rest of my remarks until to-morrow.
– I will not go beyond the report stage.
– In my judgment, the honorable gentleman is acting most unreasonably. There are several items which we ought fairly to discuss. Let me indicate what they are. First, there is that relating to the Commonwealth offices in London. Then there is £5,000 for the administration of Papua, and £3,000 for the mail service to the Pacific Islands. I desire information about all three; but we have not had any from the Minister.
– There will be other opportunities to discuss these proposals.
– Yes ; after we have voted the money.
– They can be discussed when the adoption of the report is moved.
– Of what use will it be to discuss them when the money has been voted? All I ask is that the Minister should prepare himself with an explanation to-morrow. Apparently, he has no information to-night. When I questioned him about the vote for the Commonwealth offices in London, he could only tell me that the money was being remitted.
– This is not a vote in connexion with the proposed new offices.
– I am speaking of the proposed increase in connexion with the expenditure on the present offices. In my opinion, the administration of our affairs in London by our representative there is a matter which should be seriously discussed. It is almost impossible to get information from him. If the Acting Prime Minister will, to-morrow, give us the explanations which we desire, there will be no unnecessary delay in dealing with the measure. ‘ If money were urgently required, I should not take this position; but if we passed the Bill in five minutes, it would not expedite the discussion on the Tariff, because that is notto take place until tomorrow week. As we are meeting the Minister so generously, the least he can do is to accord us a reasonable opportunity to obtain the information which we require.
– These matters can be discussed on Thursday next - grievance day.
– If the honorable member were on this side of the Chamber, he would do what we are now doing. If the Acting Prime Minister cannot give a reasonable explanation of such items as I refer to, let him take them out of the Bill. I hope he will give us the information for which we ask.-
.- I hope that the Government will consent to an adjournment, because I desire to move an amendment reducing the supply asked for from £1, 103,744 to £367,914, or one-third of the original amount, giving the Government a month’s instead of three months’ Supply, and the honorable member for Dalley and others, who would support that amendment, have gone home. I think that all who have the interests of the people at heart will agree that we ought not, at the beginning of the session, to grant Supply for so long a period as three months. I therefore move -
That the words “ One million one hundred and three thousand seven hundred and fortyfour “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Three hundred and sixty-seven thousand nine hundred and fourteen.”
One month’s Supply is quite sufficient, and the Government should accept the amendment without further argument.
– Let us go to a division, and see whether the Committee will accept it.
– For the reason I gave, I do not know that it is desirable to go to a division at the present moment.
.- Do I. understand that the Minister thinks that the amendment ought to be carried?
– I was staggered that a* private member should propose the diminution of the amount by two-thirds.
– Let us go to a division.
– Do I understand that the Minister will accept the amendment?
– Certainly not.
– Do I understand that the honorable gentleman has no reason to offer for not accepting it?
– Let us have a division
– I. am quite willing to vote against the Government.
.- I should have liked this very proper amendment to be moved by the deputy leader of the Opposition ; but I suppose he has formed the opinion that the Government would not have asked for three months’ Supply unless they had assured themselves beforehand of the requisite support. The amendment should commend itself to any reasonable Minister, because it is in accordance with ‘ established custom. The Minister has shown no good reason why three months’ Supply should be granted. The only reason which has been advanced for the Ministerial proposal is that the discussion on the Tariff ought not to be interrupted. On several occasions debates on matters equally important as - iri fact, a great deal more important than - the Tariff have been interrupted in order to get a month’s Supply. Hitherto there has not been any trouble in getting a monthly Supply Bill passed, nor can I see that the Ministry have any reason to anticipate any trouble in obtaining a month’s Supply from time to time. There are several matters on which I want an explanation. There is one matter, for instance, relating to the repatriation of kanakas.
– The honorable member will not give me an opportunity of introducing the Bill and making the explanation. The Bill has to be introduced, and gone through item by item ; but he will not let me get to that stage.
– I do not know how far the Minister proposes to proceed with the Bill to-night.
– I have, promised not to go beyond the report stage to-night.
– In the first instance, I understood that the Minister only wanted to get the first clause of the Bill passed to-night. But suddenly it dawned upon me that his purpose is to get the schedule containing the items dealt with to-night, and the Bill advanced to the report stage. Of what use would it be for any honorable members to object after all the items had been agreed to? If we were to agree to allow the Bill to pass to the report stage to-night, we might then fairly lay ourselves open to the charge of having wasted time, in afterwards raising a debate on the schedule. This is the time for us to object to the items. If we do not enter a protest now, it will be of very little avail for us to object afterwards. I object to being kept here at this hour.
– I object to do what the honorable member wants me to do.
– When Ministers will not listen to reason at a reasonable hour, they cannot expect that at an unreasonable hour honorable members on this side will meet their wish. I intend to resist this attempt to put the Bill through Committee to-night. It is a scandalous shame that money should be so voted, and that honorable members should be asked to vote the money, to the tune of over a million sterling, and without previous warning. If this is not a scandal, I should like to know what is.
– The honorable member must not apply that remark to any measure.
– Doyou, sir, rule me out of order for saying that a thing is a scandalous shame?
– I must remind the honorable member that no measurewhich is brought before the House can be described in that way.
– I did not say that it was a scandalous measure. What I said was that it is a scandalous shame that the Parliament should be asked to pass the Bill when no urgency has been shown for granting Supply for three months. It would be interesting to have from the Minister some information as to how far trade hasbeen developed as the result of voting a subsidy for a mail service to thePacific Islands. The vote was originally proposed upon the ground that the granting of an increased subsidy to the shipping companies would have the effect of developing trade with the Islands, and that settlers would be induced to take up their residence there if we offered more rapid communication. If a further expenditure under the same heading is to be justified we should have a statement from the Acting Prime Minister regarding the extent to which the anticipations of those who originally proposed this subsidyhave been realized, and how far the Australian Tariff has operated to counteract the anticipated advantage of this expenditure. So far, however, no such statement has been furnished.. Some time ago I asked for a return showing the extent to which trade between the Commonwealth and the Islands had developed, but up to the present the desired information has not been forthcoming. Consequently honor able members are in absolute ignorance of the trade which is being done with the Islands, and are not in a position to say whether or not the expenditure of the £3,000 which we are now asked to vote in this connexion should be authorized. I note that a sum of £1,500 has been provided for the repatriation of Pacific Islanders. I wish to be informed how this money is to be expended, and whether proper precautions have been taken to insure the protection of these Islanders upon being returned to their homes. Numerous complaints have been made in this connexion, and articles have been published in the newspapers alleging that certain of the Islanders upon being returned to their homes have been killed. If it be known beforehand that a Pacific Islander will have his life endangered if he is returned to his own island, and if he prefers to be landed elsewhere, I think that his wishes should be acceded to as far as possible. Under the heading of Defence we are asked to vote considerable sums of money. Indeed, there are a number of items in this Department which will require a good deal of explanation. Personally I do not feel justified in sanctioning any of the items which appear on the Defence Estimates until I have ascertained the intentions of the Government in regard to the Naval Agreement. Very conflicting statements have been made by the Prime Minister and other Ministers as to. what was done in London in this connexion. Statements have appeared in the press indicating that the Prime Minister misrepresented the opinion of Australia upon this matter. Yet we are asked to vote Supplies to retain the Government in office for at least three months without being afforded an opportunity to receive an explanation upon this question from the Prime Minister. I understand that we may reasonably expect to have the head of the Government back in a very short time, perhaps in a day or two, or possibly in a week.
– Perhaps in a month.
– If we are notto have him here for a month let us grant a month’s Supply, and then obtain an explanation from him as to what was said in connexion with the Naval Agreement in London.
– Does not the honorable member think that this is cruelty to animals ?
– If the Minister is so anxious on the score of humanity, I would remind him that it is cruelty to saddle the taxpayers with the extra burdens which the Government desire to impose. Notwithstanding the repeated denials which have been made, I find that the Prime Minister did give the Home authorities to understand that Australia wished to terminate the Naval Agreement. Reference to the official reports of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference shows that the newspapers’ statements in this connexion are quite correct. I propose to quote a few extracts from the speeches of the Prime Minister and” Lord Tweedmouth, which show that the statement in question was definitely made. Upon page 129 of the official reports Lord Tweedmouth is thus reported -
The only reservation that the Admiralty desire to make is, that they claim to have the charge of the strategical questions which are necessarily involved in naval defence, to hold the command of the Naval Forces of the country, and to arrange the distribution -of ships in the best possible manner to resist attacks and to defend the Empire at large, whether it be our own islands or the Dominions beyond the seas. We thoroughly recognise that we are responsible for that defence. We want you to help us in that defence. We want you to give us all the assistance you can, but we do not come to you us beggars ; we gladly take all that you can give us, but at the same time, if you are not inclined to give us the help that we hope to have from you, we acknowledge our absolute obligation to defend the King’s Dominions across the seas to the best of our ability.
I should like to know what these remarks have reference to, if it is not to some statement by the Prime Minister or the Acting Prime Minister prior to the delivery of that speech by Lord Tweedmouth. From the tenor of these remarks, it is quite evident, even if there were nothing more to follow, that the impression left on minds of the Lords of the Admiralty was that Australia desired to terminate the Naval Agreement, and did not propose to continue the payment of the annual subsidy of £200,000, or, at any rate, wished to be relieved of that responsibility. This view -of the matter is strengthened by further remarks made by Lord Tweedmouth, in a speech which will be found reported on page 469 of the proceedings of the Conference. He said -
Since we last met, I have had the opportunity of having conversations with various of the Prim 6 Ministers and also with their colleagues, and they have had some conferences with ‘some of my colleagues at the Admiralty also. I do not know that I have any very definite plan to propose to you. I can only repeat what I said before, that at the Admiralty we are most anxious to meet the wishes of the various Colonies. But, of course, the real difficulty is that the position varies in the different Colonies, and they have very different’ wants.
In a later paragraph, I find that he said -
As I understand Australia puts forward a proposal that the agreement of 1902 should be ended, and that Australia should start something in the way of a local Defence Force.
Here Lord Tweedmouth puts the position as it was understood by the Admiralty authorities from the statements of the Prime Minister of Australia. I should like to know whether the other members of the Ministry concur in the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister, and whether that honorable gentleman before he left Australia was authorized by them to make statements which so misrepresented the opinion of the people of the Commonwealth. At page 473 of the proceedings of the Conference, it will be found that Mr. Deakin, speaking after Lord Tweedmouth, made this definite statement -
In Australia, for reasons which have already been nut on record in the despatch which I had the honour of addressing to the Admiralty about two years ago, the existing contribution has not proved generally popular.
A copy of that despatch ought to have been placed on the table of the House, so that we might have been made acquainted with the reasons which caused the Prime Minister to arrive at the conclusion that the agreement has not proved generally popular. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
It was passed because it was felt that some distinct recognition of our responsibility for the defence of our own country and of the Empire of which it is a part was necessary, and though it did not take the form -which commended itself most to the very large minority, possibly even a majority of the electors, we accepted that mode of co-operation until something better presented itself. Further consideration has convinced the public that the present agreement is not satisfactory either to the Admiralty, the political or professional Lords of .the Admiralty, or to the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That is a very sweeping statement for the Prime Minister to have made as a representative of the people of Australia. I should like to know whether the honorable gentleman’s colleagues indorsed that statement, or whether he made it with their authority ? Whether it was made with or without their authority, there is absolutely not the slightest foundation in fact for any statement of the kind. In this matter Australia was misrepresented by the honorable gentleman throughout. In the face of a misrepresentation of that character, Ministers associated with the Prime Minister have the audacity to come down to Parliament, and ask us to give them three months’ Supply, and thus prevent any successful attempt within that period to oust them from their position on the Treasury Benches. So far as I am concerned,’ I refuse to be a party to voting the Supply now asked for, ‘ no matter what anybody else on this or on the other side may do, until we have some satisfactory explanation from the Prime Minister in connexion with this matter. Even if I had no other ground of opposition, I should certainly oppose the granting of three months’ Supply to a Ministry whose head has been guilty of such misrepresentation of Australia, in connexion with so vital a matter as the defences of the Commonwealth. I notice that Ministers appear to be a little restive, because honorable members in opposition choose to exercise their right of criticism. We are not here from our own choice, but as a protest against the Government proceeding with this Supply Bill at this hour of the night. I notice that the item, “ Contingencies,” occurs with alarming frequency throughout the schedule. It is to be found in connexion with every branch of every Department. Where the amounts set down for contingencies are small, it may be that they cover small expenditure on which it is not necessary that we should have any definite information. But in the Estimates relating to the Department of Home Affairs, we find the large item “Contingencies, ,£1,000 “ ; and also an item of ,£360 in regard to contingencies in the Electoral Office. In connexion with the Census and Statistics branch of the Department, we find provision made for salaries amounting to £900 j whilst ,£1,670 is provided under the heading of “Contingencies,” which might cover anything. An item of £450 appears in respect of contingencies for the Meteorological branch of the Department. There is very grave complaint regarding the establishment of this branch in Melbourne. It seems to be the policy of the Government to concentrate all the Departments in or about Melbourne, irrespective of whether or not the conditions are favorable to the adoption of that course. The Meteorological branch of the Department’ was established in Melbourne in defiance. of the report of Mr. Hunt, who pointed out that the conditions here were not so favorable to its work as were those in New South Wales, where he had been engaged in the State Department of Meteorology for some years. But for the sake of concentrating all these offices in and around Melbourne so as to make it appear to be what the Government allege it is, the centre of the Federation, they have established the Meteorological Department here, in face of the objections of the officer chiefly interested in it. An explanation of this action on the part of the Government is required. Then there is £1,500 set apart for expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act during the next three months. I should like to know to what these expenses relate. There is another item, “Cost of Commonwealth Elections, £300.” I should like the Minister to state whether this amount is to be expended, in accordance with a suggestion made by an honorable member opposite, in refunding the expensesincurred by candidates at elections subsequently declared void owing to the fault of electoral officers. There is nothing in the schedule to show what will be the destination of the .£300. I certainly raise my protest against the Opposition continually giving way to the Government in respect of proposals which ought to be hotly contested. I would sooner go to a division a dozen times, even if I were defeated on> every occasion, in order to assert principles where. they should be asserted, but I often find myself alone in calling for a division. The mere fact that the numbers happen to be against us at times does not afford justification for allowing to go unchallenged items that ought to be contested. It ds only because I have regard for the comfort of honorable members, who have sat here all day after travelling by train all night, that, having entered my protest and stated some of the reasonsfor the action’ I have taken, I propose now to resume my seat.
Question - That the words proposed to> be left out stand part of the motion - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I had hoped that the Minister in charge of the Bill would have seen fit to adjourn at this stage, in order that honorable members might have further time for the consideration of the items in the schedule. I have been able to make only a cursory examination of the Bill, because, though it was circulated this morning, the copy intended for me did not reach me. Apparently, for some reason which I cannot understand, the Government are anxious to force the measure through, under the pretence of bringing us nearer to the Tariff debate. But that is no reason why we should pass so important a measure in a perfunctory manner. The present procedure is contrary to the best principles of constitutional government. It has never been the custom to pass three months’ Supply Bills in this Parliament.
– Occasionally, two months’ Supply Bills have been passed.
– When more than one month’s Supply has been voted at one time, it has been the practice of the Government to show urgent reasons. I enter my protest against the present departure from that practice. But, in view of the lateness of the hour, I shall perform what I consider my duty to the constituents who sent me here, and content myself with strongly protesting against the arbitrary action of the Government.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
– Mr. Speaker, can such a motion be entertained after 11 o’clock?
– The motion being contingent upon the business upon which the Committee has been engaged is not new business.
– I think there was an understanding that honorable members would have an opportunity, at the ordinary resumption of business today, at half-past 2 o’clock, to discuss some items in the schedule. It was suggested to the Minister that the report stage would be the best time for this discussion.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I am glad that the Treasurer is now here, because he will remember a conversation I had with him an hour ago, when he said that if honorable members cared to discuss some of the items, they could do so on the report stage, when the House re-assembled to-day. Do I understand that the Treasurer consents that there shall be an adjournmentat the report stage ?
– When the Bill reaches the report stage, I shall consent to an adjournment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution of Committee of Supply reported and adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir William Lyne and read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I beg to call attention to the items concerning the offices of the Commonwealth in London, and also the items with reference to the mail service to the Pacific Islands. I have already expressed my opinion in regard to the Commonwealth offices; and I should now like to know whether, in regard to the mail, service to the Pacific Islands, there is an increase or a decrease. I wish to know whether there has been a new contract entered into, and whether that contract bears any relation to the whole question of the eastern services. This is a very important matter. Already the States are taking into their own hands the organization of independent mail services to the East ; and I am not quite sure whether such action is constitutional. It appears to me that the Commonwealth should make an arrangement by which all the States should have equal facilities, without competition. This is a matter of great importance, which needs more discussion than it is likely to receive to-night. However, if the Government are intent on forcing matters through without discussion, I can only call attention to these points, and protest against such a measure being put through without a tittle of explanation. I move -
That the item “ Offices of the Commonwealth in London - contingencies£1,800” be left out.
– The reason that £1,800 is now asked for is because the whole amount has in the past been remitted to London at one time. I have just asked the UnderTreasurer whether there is any increase. I am told that there is none of any importance.
– Then I cannot understand the items in the Estimates.
– All I can say is that that is the information given to me. The reason this amount is put down is that it is customary to remit the money to London in a lump sum instead of a proportion every quarter.
.- I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister further questions about the Commonwealth office in London, with reference especially to the recovery of the bond of £25,000 which was entered into by Sir James Laing and Company. It was rumoured that the reason why the bond which Captain Collins is endeavouring to receive payment upon has not been honoured, is that it contained a stipulation that it was only to be binding in the event of the Commonwealth Parliament ratifying the contract within a certain period from the signing of the bond, and that, inasmuch as the Commonwealth Parliament had not done so, the bond was no longer operative. That rumour was current in Australian commercial circles. I should like to know definitely whether it is true. If it is, the sooner the House knows that it cannot recover the amount which we all hoped would be recovered, the better.
– There is no truth in the rumour.
– The Treasurer says that this item is in no way altered. But I would call his attention to the fact that the total amount of the division in the Estimates is £4,400 as against£2,100 appropriated last year. The amount is more than doubled, and it is therefore idle for the honorable gentleman to say that there is no material increase.
– The item of £1,800 represents a large proportion of the total amount.
– What does the £1,800 represent?
– The expenses in connexion with the London office.
– The expenses of the London office as shown on the Estimates are : - Salaries, £550 ; rent, telegrams, stationery, travelling and incidental expenditure, £3,200 ; collection of Australian historical records, £650 ; or a total of £4,400. I understood from the Treasurer that he was taking power to spend nothing under this Bill except upon the ordinary services uponlast year’s basis, but the amount he is now asking for this division for three months is almost exactly the total amount voted last year. It is £2,050 as against £2,100, while the total amount to be asked for this year is £4,400.
– Not on this Bill. The honorable member is quoting from the Estimates.
– Of course I am. Where else can I go? This Bill is based on the Estimates.
– We are sending a certain sum to London, which is in excess of the proportion for the quarter.
– Why is that done?
– I think for convenience.
– If the Treasurer is going to follow that course, why does he not send the total amount in one sum? He is doing neither one thing nor the other, and his explanation is about as unsatisfactory as possible.
– It has been the custom to send the amount in certain proportions, and that custom has been followed on this occasion.
– I do not object to that at all, but why is the Treasurer breaking into the item in this way this year? We are asked to vote for three months £2,050 out of a total of £4,400, which is more than the proportion for a quarter of the year. Why is the amount split up in this way? ‘ Afterwards, when we attempt to discuss the question on the Estimates, we shall be told that the money lias been voted, and that we must submit. Now is the time to raise the question why there is so disproportionate an increase in this item as compared with others.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is very persistent, but he knows just as much as I do about the matter. He has had to deal with questions of this kind, and knows that it is convenient to send more than the ordinary sum in many cases. The item of £1,806 is for rent, stationery, office cleaning, travelling expenses, &c. Only half the vote is taken ; that is, up to 31st December, 1907. In October, before the operation of this measure expires, it will be- necessary- to remit enough to last until 31st December at least.
– How much of it is for wages?
– I do not know what the office cleaner gets, or other trivial details.
– The Treasurer’s explanation is most unsatisfactory.
– It is to those who want it to be unsatisfactory.
– The honorable gentleman is Treasurer of the Commonwealth, but when the honorable member for Parramatta asks him why the vote is double this year what it was last year, he gives no explanation.
– I said the amount was for rent, stationery, office cleaning, and travelling expenses.
– Have they all doubled ? Cannot the Treasurer explain why they are being charged in this Bill at double the rate of last year?
– I have explained it. I shall not explain it .any more for the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman has explained it most unsatisfactorily. He will simply tell the people that he has “ bul locked through” a vote for £2,000, or double the amount that was paid last year. There is no satisfaction in that for the people. It is a matter of serious moment that the total vote for these offices should be £4,400 as against £2,100 last year. The Treasurer ought not to offer any objection to giving honor-, able members the fullest information. Does this item contain any of the money that has been given to the Women’s Work Exhibition? Are there any more subscriptions to be given out of “ Contingencies “ to Dr. Arthur to publish the beautiful letters that have been appearing in London?
– Of which the honorable member approves.
– I have never approved of the publication of lies for the advertisement of the Commonwealth or of any< thing else. I believe in telling the truth fo people, and a Government Department should certainly be careful to circulate only correct information. The Acting Prime Minister .has declared that part of the’ £2,050 to be voted for the offices of the Commonwealth in London is to enable money to be sent Home as a matter of convenience at a certain time.
– I have also stated that I have been informed by the Secretary to the Treasury that there is no increase.’
– According to my way of reckoning, there must be, because £2,050 is asked as a three months’ supply, and . the total sum proposed to be voted is £4,400. I should like an explanation Of this increase.
– I understand the explanation” Vo be this, that the item ‘on the Estimates fs swollen by £.2,000, which has been set down for expenditure in connexion with the new site in the Strand. Had the Minister made this explanation earlier in the evening, the Committee would have been satisfied. It seems that there is an increase, but not an increase in the expenditure on the present office. The vote has been inflated because of the proposed expenditure on the special site in the Strand.
.- There is one thing in connexion with this item which is worthy of the attention of honorable members. For the last two years the salaries of Captain Collins, representative of the Commonwealth in England, and of the Director of Stores, have been paid in London, although these officers are shown in the Estimates as serving on the central administration in Australia. Their salaries ought properly be debited to the Department in connexion with which their duties are performed. How long is the -present arrangement to continue? - -
– As soon as we can appoint a High Commissioner, reorganization will take place; but, speaking from experience, I say that Captain Collins isdoing good work in London. It is impossible for me to say now when any serious alteration will be made, but I hope that we shall be able to deal with this matter before the session closes.
– At this hour of the morning, I do not intend to persevere with regard to the item for a service to the Pacific Islands, but in my judgment it is one of the most important items in the schedule. I should like to hear from the Treasurer a full explanation of the arrangement which has been made with regard tothe service to the Pacific Islands, and also the whole of the Commonwealth services to the East. Lately, the States have been making arrangements of their own for the carriage of their produce eastwards, and, sooner or later, a gooddeal of friction will arise.
– The honorable member means the arrangement with Burns, Philp, and Company, I suppose?
– I refer to that with Burns, Philp, and Company, and also that with Currie and Company. There are. several companies competing for the trade of the various States, and it has been suggested that the arrangements recently made are unconstitutional. It would be very much better if the Commonwealth Government could arrange the mail services to the East, so as to secure equal facilities to all parties concerned. At the present time, each State is fighting the other States for space in the vessels going eastward. However, it is a large question, and I do not intend to go into it at this hour. I think, however, that we might have had from the Treasurer a full explanation at a more reasonable time.
– There is no doubt that the honorable member is correct in saying that the question he has raised is a large one, because it deals with not only part of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and the New Hebrides, but with the Pacific Islands generally. When he was in London, the Prime Minister was very anxious - and I was assisting him - to make an arrangement in regard to the control of some of the Pacific Islands. We did not suc ceed in what we wanted to do. We have simply carried on the contract with Burns, Philp, and Company on the same lines as before. As regards the desire of the States to employ other services, there is a difficulty about interfering. The question has been under consideration, but at the present moment I cannot give any definite information regarding the shipping companies to which the honorable member has referred. We have taken care to adhere to what has been authorized, and have continued the services at the same rate.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following papers: -
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended -
Nos. 193 and 70 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 82.
No. 104 - (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 83.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
Early in the evening, I was asked a question in reference to a matter which has been discussed by honorable members, that is the increasing of their parliamentary allowance, and I took time to consider what answer I should give to-night. The matter had come to the knowledge of Ministers three or four weeks ago. It was not discussed in the ordinary way in Cabinet, but in an unofficial way it was considered by Ministers. It was thought that as it had not been mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, it could not be made a Government matter, and so no action has been taken. When a similar case arose in New South Wales some years ago, while Sir Henry Parkes was head of the Government, one of his Ministers brought in a private Bill to provide for the payment of an allowance to members of the Legislative Assembly. It was not a Government measure. That was carried through, and that was the origin of payment of members in that State. In this particular case, I wish it to be clearly understood that it is not a Ministerial matter.
– Is a Governor-General’s message going to be brought down?
– Yes. Honorable members will vote as they like, as it is no party question.
– I know how I shall vote - in favour of it.
– If the honorable member will restrain himself, I -can proceed.
– So will I.
– As it is a proposal which will require a message from the Governor-General, if honorable members desire to have an opportunity of discussing it and dealing with.’it, I shall be prepared to-morrow to bring down a message, and also a Bill.
– Cannot the hon.orable gentleman) do it to-day ?
– I mean to-day. I can say nothing further. If any honorable members are not satisfied with what I am doing in this regard; they require a great deal to satisfy them;’ but they can refuse to endorse the proposal. I have done all I can. I have announced to my constituents that I am favorable to the proposal.
– Does the Minister say that he will bring down a Bill ?
– Yes, if honorable members desire that to be done.
– How is the honorable gentleman to know whether they desire it or not?
– I shall test the feeling of honorable members, but I am not going to make this a Government question. If they ‘desire me to bring down a message and a Bill, I shall do so to-day.
– Bring it right down.
– It is all very well for honorable members to interject in that way. If they do not want me to do anything, let them say so.
– Why this wobbling?
– I am not wobbling. The honorable member has been talking a good deal of nonsense.
– Why has not the honorable gentleman an opinion?
– I have an opinion, but others may be allowed an opinion, too. I ami proposing to follow a course which has been followed .on a previous occasion, and if the honorable member does not want me to do so let him say so.
– Bring the Bill down at once.
– I shall submit the message and also the Bill to-day.
– What Bill?
– A Bill to increase the allowance of honorable members to £600 a year.
.- I am amazed at the spinelessness of the Government upon the question that has just been brought forward. They ought to state definitely what is their feeling upon it. The statement that reference to it was not contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech was too thin to impose upon any honorable member. Personally, I am of opinion that the matter ought not to be considered by the House until it has first been remitted to the people. I/ for one - unpleasant as it may make my relations with other honorable members - shall oppose the proposal, as I have always opposed it since I entered this Parliament.
– Honorable members have a perfect right to oppose the proposal if they choose to do so. When the Bill is under consideration, I shall move for the insertion of an amendment in the form of a conscience clause, which will enable those who have scruples about accepting the increased allowance to credit it to the Consolidated Revenue. We will see that they experience no trouble upon that score.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 12.47 a-m- (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070813_reps_3_37/>.