3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and. read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been called to the serious delay which took place in connexion with the delivery of the last English mail at Hobart? The mail train arrived in Melbourne on the Tuesday morning, on which day a steamer was advertised as about to leave for Launceston, while on the Wednesday another steamer was to sail direct to Hobart. The postal authorities, however, sent the mail by the Glaucus, a slow steamer, which landed it at Stanley, whence it was sent to Burnie, and, on the following day, to Hobart, so that.it reached that city on the Saturday morning. I think that, on an occasion like the arrival of the English mail, a contract steamer might well be detained for a quarter of an hour to enable the Tasmanian portion of the mail to be forwarded as quickly as possible. In the case to which I refer there was a loss of three days.
– My attention has been called to the matter, and I am having inquiries made. There was a difference of an hour between the arrival of the train and the departure of the boat. Moreover, I arn informed that, where delay is inevitable, the postal officials prefer that it shall be in connexion with the delivery of English, rather than of inter- State, letters. A report has been called for in regard to die whole matter.
Duty on Wire Netting - Distribution of Papers - Labour Conditions and Prices of Goods.
– A telegram which is published in to-day’s newspapers states that -
At a meeting of the Hume Pastures Protection Board, the chairman (Mr. J. Ross) reported that he had received a telegram from the Lands Department, ‘that the cost of wire netting to applicants would now be subject to an increase of j£6 tas. per mile, in consequence of the Tariff introduced by the Commonwealth Government.
Members were unanimous in their condemnation of the imposition, and contrasted the action of the State Government in coming to the aid of land-owners in fighting the rabbit by importing wire netting, and the action of the Commonwealth in increasing the cost.
It was resolved unanimously that Sir William Lyne be requested to give his strenuous opposition to the proposal, as it was detrimental to the interests of the farmers and settlers.
Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether those statements will cause an alteration in the attitude of the Government towards the duty on wire netting ?
– No statements of that kind . will affect my action in the slightest degree; I shall do what I think right in this matter. Mention is made of the .price of wire netting being increased, but who gets the advantage of the increase ? The States, not the Commonwealth’. It would be better, therefore, for the Government of New South Wales to refuse to increase this price of wire netting, since it gets the advantage of the higher duty. Mr. HUTCHISON.- If he finds that the producers are being charged teo much for. wire netting, will the Minister be prepared to follow the example of the Government of South Australia, and import netting, selling it to producers at cost price?
– I have made a suggestion of that kind to a member of the New South Wales Government. I think that it is a ‘proper thing to do.
– Seeing that, according to the reports of the Tariff Commission, there has been a largely increased demand for wire netting during the last four or five years, and that only one establishment for its manufacture exists in Australia, does not the Minister think that a better way to keep down the price than for the Commonwealth to become an importer, paying the duty, would’ be to remit the duty ?
– The question will be fully, discussed and dealt with when the Tariff is before us.
– I wish to know if steps are being taken to expedite the production of papers giving’ information in connexion with the Tariff, which the Acting Prime Minister promised to have ready for us next week?. Those who represent New South Wales constituencies, and travel out of Melbourne each week end, find the greatest difficulty in obtaining the papers which they wish to read before the next meeting of Parliament. For instance, I could not obtain a copy of the Acting Prime Minister’s Budget Speech until my return to Melbourne last Tuesday. The papers to which I refer should be circulated sufficiently early to enable honorable members to study them during the week end, and I ask that steps be taken to- expedite their production.
– Every effort is being made to have these papers ready at the earliest moment-; but it must be remembered that very, detailed information, requiring much tabulation, has been asked for, and it is necessary that it shall be presented with absolute accuracy. It has taken some time to obtain this information, but I think that, so far as my Department is concerned, everything is now almost complete. It- remains for the Government Printer to finish the printing, and to publish the reports of the two sections of the Tariff Commission. I shall endeavour to cUrry out the promise of the Acting Prime Minister with the utmost expedition.
– This information appeared in the Argus on Monday last.
– All the information asked for has not been published, and the Government wish to afford honorable members the fullest information available. There is no desire for secrecy.
– Did the Acting Prime Minister see the account in to-day’s newspaper of a scheme devised by the Labour Party for affixing duty stamps to local ly-made goods whose manufacture is protected by the Tariff, as an assurance that the conditions as to the remuneration of labour are fair and reasonable, and proposing the appointment of a permanent Commission to inquire into and report upon the prices charged for such goods? If so, will he inform the House whether he intends to incorporate it in the Tariff proposals of the Government?
– I have not had time to read the account referred to, but when the proposal has been placed before me, and I thoroughly understand it, I shall be prepared to say what action I shall take in regard to it.
– The directors of the mail steamers, apparently feeling secure in their present monopoly, are not content with blackmailing, to a certain extent, the producers of Australia by increasing the freights on butter, but now propose to increase their passenger rates by 10 per cent. Will the Acting Prime Minister take steps to break down this monopoly by subsidizing other lines?
– I have noticed that it is proposed to increase the passenger rates by 10 per cent., and I have followed closely the negotiations of the Conferences on the subject of space and rates of freight for butter and other perishable produce. I shall certainly bring the matter before the Cabinet, because it seems to me that the action complained of is outrageous.
– In view of its importance, will the Acting Prime Minister ascertain whether it will not be possible to issue Mr. Beale’s report on patent and proprietary medicines at a) cost not exceeding is. per copy ?
– The honorable member spoke to me about this matter privately, and I promised to ascertain whether copies could be published for a shilling each. I have since been toobusy to attend to the matter. A telegramhas been sent to the Government Printer of New South Wales asking him what it is intended to charge. Personally, I think that the charge should be as low as possible, so that the information contained in the report may be widely distributed.
asked the Acting Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to the speech of Lord Elgin, English Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the House of Lords, on the 20th May, 1907, as follows : - “ In the case of the employment of lascars on ocean-going steamers, the view of His Majesty’s Government was that they could not admit that such employment could legitimately be prevented by colonial legislation. . . . For the trade between Australia and other parts of His Majesty’s dominions the employment of lascars could not be so prevented.”
Has the Commonwealth Government had any communication or notification to this effect from the Imperial authorities?
As Lord Elgin is the English Minister who has to approve of Australian legislation before it is finally passed, will the Commonwealth Government endeavour to secure this approval before it legislates in regard to lascars on ships trading between Australia and other countries?
Does it propose to make any protest against
Lord Elgin’s threat of future interference with Australian constitutional rights?
– The replies to the honorable and learned member’s questions are -
That is a very important addition to the quotation made by the honorable member -
No communication on the subject has been received from the Colonial Office.
Having in view the resolutions of the Navigation Conference, it is not anticipated that any difficulty, will arise in regard to the proposals which will be submitted when the Navigation Bill is introduced.
Reading the speech as a whole, it is not regarded as containing any threat, and under all the circumstances, it is unnecessary to consider what should be done until some more definite action has been taken.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner has supplied me with the following answers : - 2 and 3. For sections of the Service, it is necessary to set aside the number of fourth and fifth class positions required to carry on the work, and officers in the lower class can only be advanced to the higher when a vacancy occurs ; otherwise the advancement of a junior would necessitate the degrading of a senior. Apart from this, however, the expansion of business justifies an increase in the number of fourth class positions, and provision has been made on the Estimates to meet the increased expenditure involved in regrading a number of fifth class telegraphists and clerical officers. In addition, the proposed regrading of post-offices will result in a number of promotions from the fifth to the fourth class. The estimated total number of fifth class officers, who will benefit this year by. the changes indicated above, is 192.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I shall place the result of these further inquiries before the honorable member as soon as possible. As honorable members are aware, I have experienced some difficulty in determining what is the proper course to pursue.
Hog Bay : Mount Gambier : narracoorte : lucindale : kingston.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he has had a memorial from residents asking that Mount Gambier, Narracoorte, Luciadale, and Kingston, be connected by telephone?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Yes, and steps are being taken to provide the necessary connexions on the condenser system.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether’ he has a report of the cost of providing telephonic communication with Hog Bay ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Yes; but further information is required before a decision can be given on the subject of providing the desired communication. This will be obtained as quickly as possible.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The “answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
As bearing on this question, may I say that yesterday the honorable member for, Parramatta, and several” other honorable members, inquired whether the old rates of duty would be levied on goods on board vessels that had called at certain ports in the Commonwealth before the new Tariff was introduced. I have looked into the matter, and have come to the conclusion that no special treatment can be accorded suoh goods.’ The duty paid upon them, just as in the case of goods in bond, must be that set forth in the Tariff now before the House.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– As the time for the consideration of private members’ business has now arrived, I should like to say that if honorable members, having notices of motion on . the business paper, are anxious to proceed with them, I shall not attempt to dissuade them from doing so. I should be very pleased, however, if they would agree to the postponement of their business in order that we may - proceed with the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, which was under consideration last night.
– And adjourn tonight until next week?
– I am quite prepared to agree to such an adjournment if the business be concluded to-night.
– Would not the honorable gentleman be prepared to agree to an adjournment until Wednesday next if we completed the business set down for our consideration to-day ?
– If that business be dealt with to-night I shall be quite prepared to agree to the House adjourning until Wednesday next.
.- In deference to the wish of the Acting Prime Minister, I shall be prepared, with the leave of the House, to postpone the consideration of the notice of motion standing in my name until Thursday, 10th October.
Motion (by Mr. Mahon) agreed to - That all papers, documents, memoranda, or writings bearing on or relating to the grant or proposed grant of £1,000 to the Women’s Work Exhibition, be laid upon the table of this House.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I would point out that its provisions are so concise that honorable members should have no difficulty in grasping their effect. It proposes that the Parliamentary Allowances Act of 1902 shall be repealed, and that the members of the Parliament shall receive, instead of£400 per annum as at present, an allowance of . £600 per annum. When the Federal Convention was sitting in Melbourne, the question of the allowance to be granted to members of the Federal Parliament was discussed. The draft Constitution Bill then made provision for an allowance of . £500 per annum, but the leader of the Opposition in this House, who was then Premier of New South Wales, moved that the sum be reduced to £400 per annum. I supported him, thinking, as the result of my experience as a member of the Parliament of New South Wales - the members of which receive only £300 per annum - that . £400 per annum would be sufficient-. Since then we have learned what a vast difference there is between the expenditure which must necessarilybe incurred by members of this Parliament, and that which, falls upon members of the States Legislatures. I have no hesitation in saying that, having regard to the expenses which honorable members of this Parliament must necessarily incur, an allowance of . £700 or . £800 per annum in their case would not go further than does the£300 per annum receivedby members of the State Parliaments of New South Wales and “Victoria.
– Another point is that members of the States Parliaments are able to enjoy the comfort of their own. homes.
– They are also able in most cases to follow their business avocations, and even the country members can reach their homes without suffering the inconvenience of a very long journey. I say deliberately that our experience clearly shows that some special consideration is necessary in the case of members of the Federal Parliament, and I have no hesitation in assisting in a movement to increase the present allowance. A larger emolument might very reasonably have been proposed, but if. this Bill be passed, we shall have an opportunity of judging whether an allowance of £600 is sufficient. The work is very much more severe, and the time occupied is much longer in the Federal Parliament than was ever anticipated. The reports of the debates of the Federal Convention show that it was expected that two or three, or, at most, four months would be occupied each year by our sessions ; but honorable members know that we have sat very much longer than that.
– We had a seventeen months’ session.
– And the work was very strenuous, just as it may possibly be this session. All these facts show how necessary it is that members should not be, at any rate, very much out of pocket. I know, as a matter of1 fact, that members of this Parliament, who were not very well off when they were first returned, have become even poorer than they, were, and have not, in some cases, been able to make ends meet. I shall not go into detail, but I know that what I have said cannot be . contradicted. Just as care is taken in the case of private servants or other employes to secure reasonable conditions, so should members of Parliament, who work so strenuously, be paid enough to live on in fair comfort. In some parts of the world a very different state of affairs prevails for that in Australia. In Canada, which may be compared with Australia, members of the Dominion .Parliament are paid $2,500, or .£500 for the session, with a deduction of $15 for each day they are absent. This fine is to make members attend, but I do not consider it a fair or proper imposition in our case. Here honorable members attend fairly well to their parliamentary duties, considering the great distances they have to travel from their States and homes. The Speaker in. the Canadian Parliament is paid a salary of $4,000, or £800, and the leader of the Opposition is paid. $7,000, or £1,400 per annum. In my opinion, the leader of the Opposition ought to be paid, considering the great deal of work he has to do; I do not desire, however, to go too far in this direction at the present time. Ministers in Canada each receive a salary of $7,000, or £1,400, and the Prime Minister $12,000, or £2,400. In the United States members are paid $7,000, or ,£1,400 a year, with travelling, expenses at the rate of 20 cents per mile.
– There is a great difference between the two countries in size.
– In addition, members of Congress are paid $125. annually for stationery, or a total of £1,425, with travelling expenses. In the Argentine, members of Parliament are paid 12,000 pesos, or £1,060 per annum.
– What do they do-‘ for that salary ?
– I undertake to say that they do not do as much as we do.
– Do they do any land jobbing?
– I do not thinkso. Australia ought to be proud of the fact that no accusation has ever been made against the honesty and uprightness of public men in the Federal Parliament, althoughthey may in many cases be poor men. In> Cape Colony the members are paid £1 is. a day, and those residing more than 15 miles distant from Parliament receive 15s. a day in addition, for a period not exceeding ninety days. The total paid tomembers of the Cape Colony Parliament is £383 5s- a year, with a maximum of £450 15s. a year. In France the salary is £600 a year.
– Does the ActingPrime Minister know, the salary paid ire the new Parliament in the Transvaal ?
– It is £1,000 a year.
– I am not’ aware what the salary is in the Transvaal, but the Prime Minister in that Colony ispaid £3,500 to £4,000 a year. I quote these salaries to show that there is nothingunusual or extraordinary in proposing that the salaries of Federal members should be altered at the commencement of a session. I may point out that, according to theBill, the increased salary will commence from the first day of the financial year. and not from the date of the election <Df honorable members. I hope that Parliament will not hesitate to accept this Bill; and if there is any responsibility I am prepared to accept it. When I feel that I am right and justified in any action I propose*, I do not care a snap of the finger for any criticism which may be directed to me. In Mexico, the salary of members of Parliament is £600 a year, and in smaller countries the payment is in proportion. These figures show that elsewhere in the world members of Parliament are paid’ more - and for less work - than are members on this large Continent of Australia, which is very nearly equal in size to the United States. As I have said, the distances which Federal members have to travel in Australia, in order to attend to their parliamentary duties are very great ; and further, it must not be forgotten that some of the Federal electorates contain from four to six States electorates.
– There ire fourteen State electorates in my constituency.
– And seven in mine.
– There are, I think, four State electorates in my constituency. The member for each State electorate in both New South Wales and Victoria, is, I believe, paid ,£300 a year, so that in the case of my constituency, State salaries are paid to the amount of £1,200, in consideration of the same area represented. I was very glad to hear a strong point put by an honorable member last night, who pointed out that the Constitution gives this Parliament the right to say, without any appeal to’ the electorates, what remuneration shall be paid to honorable members. That is a point which had not occurred to me, but I regard it as very important, and one which ought not to be lost sight of. I do not think I need advance any further argument in support of the Bill. If at the next general election honorable members are accused or attacked because of their support of this measure, there is a very straight answer which they may make ; and I am prepared to take all’ responsibility so far as our proceedings now are concerned.
.- It is only right that every honorable member who opposes this Bill should, from his place in the House, give reasons to his constituents for his action. At last this is a Government measure.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister say so?
– I understand that it is now a Government measure. The Acting Prime Minister has left the chamber, but may I ask the Postmaster- General whether this is a Government measure?
– The Acting Prime Minister will be back directly.
– Let us assume that it is a Government measure; and, that being so, I am glad to see that the Government have accepted the responsibility.
– The responsibility of the Government is no greater than is that of every honorable member who supports the Bill’
– At any rate, I am glad to see that the Government are now adopting a proper constitutional course. The criticism of the leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Flinders, and other honorable members has had its due effect, and the Government have at last done what they ought to have done in the first place - they have taken their proper responsibility for introducing a measure of this sort. I do not propose to speak on the merits of the question, seeing that I have not been a member of this Parliament sufficiently long to be entitled to offer an .opinion as to what is an adequate or inadequate remuneration. I know, however, that I am bound vo oppose the Bill as strenuously as I can, simply because, when I was electioneering, I was frequently questioned as to my attitude on the point, and I always emphatically replied that I should oppose any increase of the allowance. Even if I thought it right and proper to increase the remuneration, I am bound, as honorable members will understand, by that pledge. We have been told that the question has practically been before the constituencies; but in my opinion that is not so.
– Of course it has !
– I know that many members, amongst them the honorable member for Darwin, have had the courage to state boldly that they believed in ah increased allowance, and would do their best to secure one. I do not think, however, we can fairly say that the question, has been before the constituencies. No party at the elections introduced the proposal as a plank in their platform. There were only casual references of the sort I have indicated. I am sure that the public of Australia did not expect that, at this early date, the Federal Parliament would be discussing this question.
– Will the honorable member take the increased remuneration, if the Bill is passed?
– I shall consider the matter. We are in the position of trustees of the public funds, and, seeing that the proposal is to vote money to ourselves, we ought to be particularly careful in so delicate a matter. We ought to be extremely cautious, in face of the fact that the constituencies have had no opportunity to say whether, in their opinion, an increase in remuneration is justifiable. At any rate, so far as I am concerned, I have given my reasons for opposing the Bill. I regard myself as having entered into a contract to serve a term for a certain remuneration and I am prefectly willing to carry out that contract. I did not anticipate any increase of remuneration when I entered the Federal arena, and, for all the reasons I have given, I think I am justified in my opposition to the measure. The financial position of Tasmania demands that all Tasmanian representatives should oppose this proposal. The salaries of all public officers in Tasmania have been reduced, and the country is suffering from financial stress.
– It is the richest country in the world if it were properly managed.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that, and, perhaps, it is a pity the management of Tasmania has not been handed over to him. In view, of the condition of the Tasmanian finances, it is the bounden duty of every honorable member from that State - I omit specially the honorable member for Dar-, win, who has already proclaimed his intentions - to offer, the strongest opposition they can to this measure.
.- I intend to support the second reading of the Bill, subject to certain reservations. In the first place, I think that the parliamentary allowance should not exceed£500 per annum, which was the amount originally fixed” in the draft Convention Bill of 1901, and also the amount which was agreed to in the preliminary stages of theAdelaide Convention. In the second place, £500 per annum is approximately the sum which is paid to members of the Canadian Parliament - a precedent which was quoted last night.
– The members of the Canadian Parliament receive expenses. A mileage rate operates there.
– I looked at the Statesman’ s Year-Book last night, but I could see no reference there to a mileage rate. I am aware that such a rate obtains for one journey in the case of membersof the United States Congress. I am prepared, to the extent that I have indicated,, to support the Bill, particularly because of the inequality which exists in the present mode of paying honorable members. I. believe that those representatives who comelong distances from New SouthWales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, necessarily have to make greater sacrifices from the standpoint of time and money, than do honorable members who permanently reside in Victoria. I am strongly of opinion that the former should receive a larger remuneration, either by direct payment, or by means of a mileage allowance, than honorable members who live in Victoria, and who are able to return to their homes each night or at the end of the week.
– Does not the honorable member expect that the Victorian representatives will have to travel to and from the Federal Capital?
– So long as theSeat of Government is established in Melbourne, I shall not support any proposal to increase the remuneration of the representatives of Victoria, either in this House or in the Senate.
– A longer period is occupied in conveying some Victorian representatives to their homes than is occupied in conveying South Australian representatives to their homes.
– Nevertheless, it is a fact that many Victorian representatives live in Melbourne, and suffer no inconvenience as compared with that to which other members are subjected. I should be placing myself in a false position if I agreed to accept a remuneration for my attendance in this House equal to that paid to honorable members from Queensland, and Western Australia, who come thousands of miles, and who, whilst Parliament is in . session, either have to. break up their homes or to live between, heaven and earth, so to speak, having no fixed place of abode. Another reservationI favour is that the increase proposed shall not apply to Ministers. In Committee, I shall submit an amendment providing that it shall not be drawn by Ministers, who I consider are at present adequately remunerated for their services.My last re– servation is that if the increase be granted, it must be accompanied by this condition : That there shall be a deduction of at least £2 2s. per day for every sitting from which honorable members absent themselves. That will provide a penalty for non-attendance and an inducement to regular attendance, while it will probably tend to shorten, instead of extending, the sessions of Parliament.
– Suppose that a Victorian representative attended in the Chamber for three minutes and then left to look after his own business?
– I can only speak from my own experience. When I leave my home I come here to attend to my parliamentary duties. I am present throughout the sitting. Of course, it may be that others do not feel called upon to remain throughout the sittings of the House, but that is a personal matter. Therefore, I approve of the condition which is annexed to the Canadian Payment of Members Act, namely, that a reduction shall be made from the £500, which I suggest should be the amount .of the annual allowance, in respect of each sitting from which a member is absent. A proviso might be added that this penalty shall not operate where members are absent through certificated illness, or through circumstances over which they have no control. I do not want to avail myself of any excuse for voting against the proposal last night, either technical or constitutional, because I think that inasmuch as the message from the GovernorGeneral was brought down by a responsible Minister he could not escape the Ministerial responsibility attaching to his action. Consequently, I do not attach much weight to the ‘purely technical and constitutional point which was raised. Now that we have the Bill before us, I do not see how the Prime Minister can escape his Ministerial responsibility, or how the Government can escape it. No objection to the consideration of the Bill can be urged upon that ground. We have now the opportunity of considering and revising the whole scheme of payment of members for the Commonwealth, and I am prepared to support an increase of the allowance from jf.400 to £500 per annum in the case of members from other States than Victoria.
– Why should it not apply to Victorian representatives ?
– Because they have not to make the same sacrifice or to submit to the same amount of inconvenience as have honorable members who come from distant States. I shall certainly support a deduction of £2 2s. per day from the allowance for non-attendance at the sittings of Parliament.
– I cannot agree with the honorable member that we can differentiate between the representatives of the various States. Nobody can put into the scale the sacrifice which any honorable member has to make in comparison with another. If sacrifices are to be .made dependent upon peculiar conditions, we do not know in what position we shall be landed. I oppose this Bill because when the proposal to increase the remuneration of honorable members was mooted in my constituency in 1901, I expressed the opinion that the allowance paid should remain at its present figure, at all events until we had justified our position under Federation, and until the Commonwealth had developed. At the same time, I recognise that in proportion to the salaries paid to Ministers, honorable members are not overpaid. Speaking of this aspect of the question in 1901, when a motion affirming that the salary qf £400 per annum should be deducted from the salaries of Ministers, I said-
If salaries have to be graded according to the personal sacrifices made by Ministers, the same principle must be applied ‘to members, and I am not aware that any grading of salaries according to the sacrifices made by members would be likely to be acceptable to the House, or expedient.
I take the same .view now that I entertained then, because it would be impossible to apply such a scheme. Some Victorian representatives who are absent from their homes are subjected to quite as much inconvenience as I am. They cannot reach their homes without undertaking a night’s railway journey, and then they cannot arrive at their destination at such an early hour as do the South Australian representatives. I repeat that, in 1901, I told my constituents that I would not support any proposal to increase the remuneration of honorable members. I was not asked a question in reference to the matter at the last election, but I have never expressed an opinion contrary to that which I gave in 1901. My own idea is that the allowance ought to remain at the present figure. Though we- have perhaps been overburdened with work during the past three or four years, I hope that we shall not always have to sit here for more than three or four months each vear.
– I hope that we shall have to sit longer. We shall be taking over more services.
– It will be time enough to increase the allowance to honorable members when we acquire larger powers. At the present time about 95 per cent, of the total legislative work of Australia is vested in the States Parliaments. However, opinions upon this subject may differ, and I have no desire to be dogmatic upon it. Seeing that the Commonwealth is as yet in its infancy - that we possess a population of only about 4,000,000 as against 80,000,000 in the United States - I think there is some disparity between the position of honorable members here and that of members of the United States Congress.
– The Americans get £2,000 a year.
– A few years ago they received only £1,000.
– They are getting £2,000 a year now.
– Members of the United States Congress commenced with a moderate allowance.
– They received £600 from the commencement, and that is all that we ask for.
– We commenced with £400, and we have a population of only 4,000,000. Up till three years ago, when the United States had a population of 76,000,000, the members of Congress received only £1,000 per annum, notwithstanding that they have to control foreign affairs, and are required to perform fax more legislative duties than we are. They have the affairs of forty-six States to look after, as well as to undertake land legislation.
– They have 400 members to do the work.
– Of course, the honorable member is entitled to his opinion just as I am entitled to mine. I intend to vote against the measure, and I think that in view of the opinion which I expressed to my constituents in 1901, my vote on this occasion . will be perfectly consistent.
– I feel sure that at this stage the Acting Prime Minister is prepared to say that the Bill is a Government measure. I think that in view of all the circumstances, we may fairly regard it as such, and I take it that the honorable gentleman does now regard it as a Government measure.
– I really do not know what difference it makes, whether the Bill is called a Government measure, so long as all Ministers vote for it. But in view of the vote which was taken last night, I think I am justified in saying that the Bill is a Government measure, but is of a non-party character. I wish to keep it entirely clear of party politics, because all parties are supporting it. I do not wish in any way to bring it into the line of party measures. With that exception, it will be treated as a Government measure.
– I am very glad that the Acting Prime Minister has taken the course which he has, because I am not thinking so much of the Bill as of the necessity, for surrounding this expenditure of public money by “ the constitutional safeguards which exist, and which I -believe are prudent safeguards, in the interests of the people. That matter, having been disposed of, I should like to say that I agree that a difficulty is presented by reason of the fact that whilst a number of honorable members are called upon to attend here from great distances, there are others who live in the city where the Parliament meets. My mind has been exercised by the question whether there should be any differentiation in the Bill, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not practicable. Personally, I attend so irregularly that, under no circumstances, would I accept the proposed increase. I intend therefore to repay the money to the Treasury, because it seems to me that no other method of dealing with it would be complete. The consideration which impels me to strongly support the Bill is my knowledge of the circumstances of a large majority of honorable members who have to come from long distances, at great expense and inconvenience, to attend here. Those circumstances must be recognised, and when justice is to be done, I do not know why there should be any mention of delicacy. If it- is not a -fair thing to increase the allowance of members, it should not be done, and any one who votes foi the proposal without believing it to Le a fair and proper one, will do wrong. On the other hand, since the Constitution has left this matter to the decision of the Parliament, there is no reason why we should not come to a determination im regard to it. There will, of course, still remain all sorts of inequalities. 1 regard myself as a shocking example, since I am absent so frequently; but it would not be possible to pass a special law to meet my case, and, therefore, I shall frame a law for myself, so far as this increase is concerned. Similarly, it will be quite open for honorable members whose homes are, say, in Melbourne to act just as their minds suggest. We cannot very well have anything but a uniform rate of payment. Taking the House as a whole, I feel that the arrangement which is being proposed is a perfectly honorable and fair one, and I shall be prepared to take my share of responsibility for it anywhere and everywhere. With regard to the salaries pf the presiding officers of the two Houses - the President, Mr. Speaker, and the Chairmen of Committees- they were fixed in relation to the allowance received by the occupants of those positions as ordinary members. I do not think that the matter is worthy of consideration, and I shall not propose, though I shall not oppose, any amendment.
– It is to be recollected that, when we! fixed those salaries six years ago, we did not know that the sessions of the Parliament would be so long.
– That is perfectly true. Therefore, while I see very little reason for it, I shall not be adverse to such a proposal. Honorable members who feel that they should- not take the proposed increase will have an easy and convenient way of refusing. I hope that those who do not take it will follow my example, and pay it into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, so that there may be no complications if we get hard up in the future.
Before dealing with this matter generally, I wish to express my surprise at the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo that there should be a deduction for nonattendance. I should like to inform him that at one sitting, in the Commonwealth offices in Sydney, I have dealt with as many as fifty letters. While a Victorian member may register his attendance, and them return to his office, or to his constituency, without loss of time, it takes me three days to get to n* electorate, since I have to travel nearly 2,000 miles away from Melbourne. But I consider that I am engaged in the performance of my parliamentary duties if the work in which I am occupied, whether performed in this Chamber or out of it. is in the interests of my constituents or of the Commonwealth gene rally. The honorable member’s proposal makes it appear that he would give with one hand and take away ‘with the other. In my opinion, before the principles of democracy can receive full play, the representatives of the people must be paid a sufficient sum to make them independent of the rewards of private business.
– They should be paid what they are worth.
– The honorable member’s services may not be worth much, but that is not an argument against the proposed increase. He, no doubt, is a better judge of his own incapacity than I am. One of the greatest crimes of the Legislatures of the past was that their members, although assuming the responsibilities of representatives of the people, made the Houses of Parliament merely nice clubrooms in which to spend a few hours a day, and put themselves to very little inconvenience to do what was required in the interests of their constituents. On a certain memorable occasion in New South Wales, when a Bill to support the banks of issue was being dealt with, all the old gentlemen who were members of the Legislative Council appeared in force. Those who could not walk to the Chamber were carried there in chairs so that they might vote for a measure which was intended to assist the wealthy; though I acknowledge that it was also of advantage to the whole of the people. In the past, we have seen members of Parliament ready to work hard and fight solidly for measures benefiting the wealthy ; but what we now strive for is to secure the return of democratic representatives who will, on all occasions, do their best to foster the interests of the people. If members of Parliament are not sufficiently paid, they must devote to private business time which should be spent in attending to public affairs. In my opinion, it came with a very bad grace from the wealthy members of the corner benches to oppose this increase.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this proposal has any personal application ?
– If the honorable member for Wentworth, and those of his “kidney,” had their way, this would be an assembly of wealthy men ; no poor men would be here. This may be a laughing matter for the wealthy, but it is not for men like myself, who have come here in dead earnest. I am not the accident of an election, the sport of politics. I have spent fifteen years in carefully studying political questions, and have sacrificed many opportunities of private gain because of my desire to represent the people.
– It is a great mistake to do so.
– It may be a mistake, from a financial point of view. If I could kill conscience like some of those who are engaged in commerce, who, when a duty of id. per lb. has been imposed on an article-
– Will the honorable member kindly discuss the Bill?
– I am sorry that I have been side-tracked by the interjections of honorable members. As I do not wish to prolong the debate unduly, I shall not reply further to these interjections, but shall proceed to deal with some of the objections which have been raised to the measure. , One of the first is that based on the plea of economy. Honorable members have urged that the expense of government is already too great. I belong to a party that has made that admission for years past, especially since Federation. The members of the Labour Party have consistently advocated the abolition of the Upper Houses of the Parliaments of the States. If that reform were carried, it would bring about a considerable saving, because I am credibly informed that the Legislative Council of New South Wales costs at least £20,000 a year to maintain. As we have a Commonwealth Parliament to safeguard the interests of the community at large, and to impose a check upon any bad legislation that may -be carried by the States, there is no need for the expenditure which is now incurred in maintaining State Upper Houses. We have “also consistently advocated the abolition of the State Governorships. That is a plank in our general platform. We think that State Governors are unnecessary, and that it is sufficient to have a Governor-General for Australia. By abolishing the- Upper Houses and the Governorships of the States, about £240,000 might be saved. I have no wish to burden the taxpayers unnecessarily, but I am sure that my constituents do not desire that I should be paid an insufficient salary. If the cost of Commonwealth administration is too great at present in comparison with the work that we do, let us take on a little more. I am prepared to work a little harder - to sit another day a week, if necessary. I believe, too, that the debts and the railways of the States should be under
Commonwealth control, and I hope that the day is not far distant when the administration of the Crown lands of Australia will also be in the hands of the Commonwealth authorities. I do not advocate the wiping out of the Governments of the States straight away, but their powers should be greatly limited, and the’ functions of the Commonwealth Parliament increased. I want to see this the Parliament of Australia, and it should have under its control all the matters which, in the best interests of the whole people, should be committed to it.
– The honorable member seems to suggest that we should collect the pay that the State members are now receiving.
– The membership of the States Houses might be greatly reduced. This, of course, would make more money available for expenditure in other directions. The objections to Federal expenditure are quite unfair. If the cost of Federal administration increases, attempts should be made to reduce the cost of State administration. During this debate a great deal of time has been devoted to a consideration of the constitutional aspect of the question. I am glad, however, that all cause for discussion so far as that matter is concerned has been removed. As to the precedent for the step taken by the Government I may say at once that I should not be afraid to see this Parliament in certain cases create precedents for itself. In connexion with almost every measure submitted to the House the discussion of constitutional points leads to a deplorable waste of time. As a. way. out of the difficulty, I would suggest that members of the legal profession in this House should discuss in caucus the constitutionality or otherwise of every measure, and should then place their determination before us. If that course were adopted .much valuable time would be saved. It would be interesting to ascertain how many pages of Hansard are devoted to speeches dealing with legal and constitutional quibbles. I am sure that the printed reports of such speeches in the course of a six months’ session would cover some hundreds of yards. I have been here only six months-
– It is quite obvious that the honorable member has not been here verv long.
– That may be because I am free from many of the wiles displayed by some honorable members who have occupied a seat in this House for a much longer time than I have done; perhaps it is because I am more straightforward than are some of the older members of the House that the fact that I am a, new member is so obvious. I intend to support this Bill, because I think- it is a reasonable one, and am prepared to accept the responsibility for my vote. If I considered that an increased allowance was unnecessary I should certainly vote against the Bill, but I believe that an allowance of £400 is not sufficient. At the same time I intend to avail myself of every opportunity that presents itself to me, as a member of this House to fight for a fair and honest wage being paid to every man, regardless of the capacity in which he may be employed.
.- I cannot support this’ Bill for the very good reason that during the general election campaign I said in answer to a question that I did not think the present was an opportune time for increasing the allowance granted to honorable members of this Parliament. I am free to confess that in the light of my experience as a member of this Legislature, and having regard to the views of older members, which I have since been able to ascertain, I feel inclined to modify my opinion. I hold, however, that we should first of all place the allowance upon a logical and equitable basis. I do not regard as a salary for services rendered the £400 per annum that we receive. It would be an insult to ourselves and an insult to the intelligence of the electors to say that they had returned to this Parliament men whom they considered to be worth a salary of only £400 per annum. It would be absurd to suggest that those whom the people elect to make the laws under which they live are not worth a salary of more than £4.00 per annum.
– We are worth at least £2,000 per annum.
– In any case, I take the view that the sum of £400 per annum which we receive is an allowance, designed to enable men of insufficient private means to devote themselves to the duty of representing the people. If no allowance were ma.de, the representation/ of the people im Australia would fall into the hands of the leisured and wealthy class. I have referred to this phase of the question’ merely because it proves my contention that the emolument we receive is to be regarded in the light of, not a salary, but an allowance. If that be so - if it is intended as an allowance to enable men living at some distance from the Seat of . Government to attend to their parliamentary duties - it is certainly not on a logical basis. I was sorry to hear so experienced a parliamentarian as the leader of the Opposition declare that it was not possible to alter the system in the way that I propose. I fail to see why it could not be put upon a different basis. If it is possible to grant members of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, a fixed allowance, and to .add to it a mileage-rate allowance, which has the effect of increasing the emolument received by those who have a great distance to travel in order to attend to their parliamentary duties, I do fail to see why we should not be able to adopt the same practice here.
– Does that mileage-fee take the place of a railway pass?
– No- railway passes are issued to the members of the Canadian Parliament.
– I cannot say whether or not the mileage-fee takes the place of a. railway pass, but whether it does or not, I feel that £400 per annum under existing conditions is a fair allowance to those who live close to the Seat of Government, and have to make only a slight sacrifice in order to attend here. If honorable members are to receive not an allowance, but a salary, then by all means let a reasonable sum be devoted to that object. Whilst the present allowance is sufficient to enable honorable members’ living- near the Seat- of Government to attend to their parliamentary duties, it is certainly inadequate in the case of those who have to travel 2,000 or 3,000 miles in order to attend here; it is not sufficient for those who have to cut off their business connexions and remove their families from distant parts of Australia to the Seat of Government. That being so. I’ should be prepared to support a proposal calculated to place the whole system on a logical and equitable basis. Apart altogether from the pledge which I gave to the electors at the last general elections, I cannot see my way to support an allround increase in the allowance granted to honorable members. It may be said that personal considerations lead me to take this view, since I am one of those who have to travel a very long distance in order to attend here. That, however, is not the case. I was glad to learn yesterday that some of the representatives of Victoria view this question as I do. There is no possibility of carrying such -an amendment as I have indicated, and, as one who comes from a distant part of the Commonwealth, I* should not be prepared to propose myself that the allowance be upon a mileage basis. I understand, however, that there has been circulated an amendment which, if carried, would practically give effect to my proposition, and that amendment will have my support. Even if I had not pledged myself to vote against an increased allowance, I should not be prepared to vote for the Bill as it stands, since I feel that, while it would be perfectly just and proper to make the incidence of the allowance bear equally on all honorable members, the present is not an opportune time for granting an increase.
– I expressed my views somewhat fully last night, and am sure that honorable members will give me credit for having said nothing antagonistic to the position of those who represent the distant States. Broadly stated, I am opposed to this Bill, because it embodies a proposal that has not been submitted to the people. I should like to call attention to what I consider a very serious objection to the measure. It seems to be almost indecent to propose that the payment of the increased allowance shall date from 1st July last.
– That is the beginning of the financial year.
– I hold that the Bill should not be retrospective. The effect of the proposal to pay the increased allowance from 1st July last will be to give honorable members something like £50 each in addition to the amount they have already received for services rendered. While it will mean the payment of only £50 more to each of us, it will represent a total expenditure of £5,000 or £6,000.
– It will not mean more than an additional sum of about £25 each.
– The Bill is not likely to become law until something .like six weeks after the beginning of the current financial year. I think that it should be so amended as to provide that the increased allowance shall be paid from the date on which it becomes law, and not as from 1 st July last.
– We have to review as well as we can all the events that have led up to the presen tation of this Bill. I cannot help thinking; that the position taken up by the Govern- ment is a deplorable one.
– Then it must beright
– The manner in which this Bill has been brought before theHouse has led me to recall to mind some of the incidents depicted by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist. I can well imaginethat Mr. Fagin and the Artful Dodgerhave been brought in, and that Noah Claypole has been sent out as an emissary to see if Bill Sykes could eventually becalled in to crack the crib. The crib which is to be cracked in this case is the Commonwealth Treasury, and the people who> are to suffer from’ the attack are the taxpayers of Australia. The argument that special consideration should be extended tohonorable members representing the distant States seems to be almost unanswerable, but the fact remains that the members of this Parliament were returned in December last under a contract to serve the people for an allowance of ,£400 per annum in respect of their expenses.
– Where is the evi’dence of that contract ?
– It is to be found in* the Constitution.
– It is in the Age, and nowhere else.
– Since the inception of the Parliament, ‘the members of it have received an allowance of only £400 per annum, and that, -I think, justifies my contention that we were returned on the understanding that our emolument should not; exceed that amount. There are, of course, a few to whom this remark will not apply. No blame can be attributed to those supporters of the Bill who, when on the hustings, declared their intention of endeavouring to secure an increased allowance.. The Acting Prime Minister stated, last night that he had so declared himself. The honorable member for Darwin we know has, from time to time, expressed himself in that way ; and there are one or two-, other honorable members who have takenup a similar position. But the great majority of honorable members have not in: any way expressed a desire for an increased’ allowance. In proceeding with this measure at this time, so soon after the electionof this Parliament, it seems to me that we are guilty of somewhat indecent haste. If the proposal had been left over until the close of the Parliament, when it could have been placed before the constituencies, the people would not have been able to raise any outcry. The remuneration we receive cannot be considered, in a general way, as a payment for services. It is at the present time, an allowance for expenses ; and I think it covers very liberally those expenses which we are called upon to bear. I take it that there is scarcely an honorable member who cannot very easily pay his actual expenses out of £400.
– The honorable member evidently does not receive many requests for donations.
– I may point out that there is a very easy and simple method of dealing with such calls. Honorable members are not supposed to receive an allowance for the purpose of responding to requests, with which they are pestered from time to time,- for donations to cricket and football clubs.
– What about the charitable institutions ?
– The honorable member, who has made a study of politics for fifteen years, endeavours to suggest by his interjection that honorable members are elected for the purpose of paying subscriptions to charitable institutions. All such subscriptions have to be met by an honorable member out of’ his private purse. The interjection is unworthy of the honorable member, and unworthy of the university of politics in which he graduated. I feel that, on reflection, he will admit that he is stretching the meaning of the “ allowance “ to honorable members, too far.
– The honorable member ought to take a lesson from those who are wealthy, and refuse subscriptions.
– The honorable member, of course, may do what he likes with his own.- However, no (honorable member ought, in discussing a. matter of this kind, to draw distinctions between the positions of honorable members. Some honorable members may have been more fortunate than others, but, when once we enter this House, we are all on the same level, and enjoy the same privileges. We must, in discussing this matter, exclude the personal element as far as possible. The question is one entirely of principle, and what we have to consider now is whether we, who have just been elected to this great Parliament, are justified in dipping our hands into the pockets of the people to the extent of allowing ourselves an additional £200 a year. We have been elected to fulfil a very great trust ; and there is no private company in the world that would permit its manager or trustee to increase his own salary without consulting those interested.
– Suppose that the articles of association provide that a manager may increase his own salary ?
– No articles of association of any company in the world ever provided that the manager could increase his own salary without consulting those who supply the wherewithal. I say, with sorrow, that at the present time we are endeavouring to do something which, under all the circumstances, is not worthy of us. Let us regard the question from the financial aspect. The money of which we are trustees is supplied by the people; and the amount which we take from the people is set forth on page 5 of the Budget Papers just issued. Last year we took from the people £12,832,266, and this year we propose to take £13,745,200, an increase over the previous year of £912,934. And who are the bulk of the people? They are the workers of Australia; and while we take this extra money out of their pockets, we, at the same time, put our hands into the bag. Although we are now paid an adequate sum as an allowance for expenses, we declare that we will vote ourselves an increase, notwithstanding that that vote means diminishing the income of the people in order to increase our own. On page 28 of the Budget Papers, the figures show that, while we take this increased sum from the people, we, in this Commonwealth Parliament, are increasing the expenditure this year by no less a sum than £980,691.
– Does that increased expenditure not include expenditure for which the honorable member has voted - bonuses, for instance?
– I thank the honorable member for his interjection. It is true that I did vote for many of the increases which are included in that amount. I am rather glad than otherwise to say that I did vote for the expenditure, because the money is for the purpose of increasing trade, work, and wages - increasing the returns to the people of Australia. Now, however, I am asked to vote for a proposal which means the diminishing of the actual amount which the people have to spend.
– Is it fair to say that the whole of that amount is the expenditure of this Parliament ?
– This money will hi “ kept in the country “ !
– We ‘ought not to be frivolous when discussing this very serious matter, and for the Minister of Trade and Customs to laugh and twiddle his thumbs is positively a disgrace. I do not wish to emulate the honorable member for Bass, and lecture Ministers. But there is no doubt that this is a matter of serious moment to the people of Australia. On page 95 of the Budget Papers is set forth the estimated expenditure for 1907:8, as compared with the expenditure of previous years. From these figures we ascertain that the balance we shall have in hand, after the proposed expenditure for this year, to pay to the States out of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue, will be £103,992, as compared with £805,766 previously handed over.
– There are new works and buildings provided for.
– I am not discussing whether or not the expenditure is wise; I am pointing out that, after the expenditure the balance at the end of the year - and this, only presuming that the full estimated revenue is realized - will be the miserable sum of £103,992.
– The honorable member forgets the large sums of money we are going to receive from the increased duties on wire netting !
– I have no doubt that those increased duties are estimated at their full weight, in these £13,745,000 odd. That estimate, however, may not be altogether realized. Even the Treasurer has been approached from his constituency in reference to having the duty on wire netting remitted, and he has said that, rather than allow the burden to fall on the farmers, he will be prepared to recommend the Government to buy the wire netting and sell it to the consumers at cost price. In that case, however, the Government would lose every penny of revenue estimated to be derived from the duty on wire netting; and the balance of £103,992 would resolve itself into nothing.
– Only onefourth can be included ; three-fourths go to the States.
– I know that full well. I was about to say that the States -have to receive three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue ; but, if this balance of £103,992 disappears, what will be the position ? Where would our surplus be if the Commonwealth had to pay the interest on the value of the works and buildings taken over?
– Where is the necessity for a big surplus, if the revenue be expended on works and buildings, and reproductive works ?
– There is no necessity for a surplus. The Minister of Trade and Customs is at last becoming a statesman ; he is beginning to realize that there is no necessity for a- surplus. Indeed, a surplus is one of the worst things we could have, because there is no better place for the money than the pockets of the people. But we must be able to balance the ledger at the end of the year ; and, notwithstanding all the facts to which I have referred, it is now proposed to take money out of the pockets of the workers of Australia for our own purposes.
– Much the honorable member cares for the workers !
– I would thank the honorable member for Coolgardie not to interject when I am speaking - not to speak to me in the House or outside of it. I shall be very glad if the honorable member will hold his tongue, because his interjections are not at all pleasant. From any other honorable member I am quite willing to hear interjections ; but in this case I say “ e*-Coolgardie ! “ I think I have shown that this question is one of serious moment, considering the state of the Commonwealth finances. We are not justified at the present time - in view of the condition of the public finances - in voting ourselves an increased parliamentary allowance.
– The honorable member need not draw it.
– The honorable member is now endeavouring to introduce the personal element which ought not to be introduced into a discussion of this kind.
– The honorable member made a personal attack upon those who voted for the proposal.
– I did not. I made an attack upon a matter of principle.
– Did not the honorable member say that we were taking this money out of the pockets of the people and’, putting it into our own ?
– I did say that.
– Does the honorable member deny the present prosperity of Australia ?
– The honorable member for New England is endeavouring to side track me. What we have to do is to take the debtor and creditor sides of the account and to see that we balance the ledger. The increased expenditure for 1907-8 is estimated at £980,691, and the increased allowance which we are asked to vote represents an additional £22,200, so that if we pass this Bill we shall have increased our expenditure for the current financial year by over £1,000,000. Of course, the right honorable member for Swan will say, “What is £1,000,000?” The Acting Prime Minister is rapidly developing the same habit. Other honorable members are also prone to exclaim, “ What is £j , 000,000 ?” To my mind, £1,000,000 represents a very great deal. An increase of £200 in the parliamentary allowance to honorable members is not a very big thing in itself, but it involves a very important principle.- I believe that that principle ought not to be violated by us on this occasion, and, therefore, I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.16]. - In view of the two divisions which were taken last night, it must be apparent that it is utterly hopeless for any honorable member who is opposed to the Bill to secure its defeat or to procure the insertion of an amendment which will have the effect of postponing its coming into operation until the next Parliament. Under these circumstances I merely rise for the purpose of saying that under other conditions I should have felt it incumbent upon me to move an amendment in Committee providing that the proposed increase in the allowance to honorable members should not take effect until the next Parliament. But the whole framework of the Bill is such that it would be quite impracticable to insert such an amendment. There is scarcely a line of the measure which does not indicate that the payment is to be made to honorable members during the currency of the present Parliament. Statements have been made to the effect that nothing in the shape of a practical suggestion for differ’entiating between the allowances which might be paid to those honorable members who come from long distances and those who reside in Melbourne, has been put forward. In speaking last night I gave particulars of a system which existed in Queensland, and which has stood the test of practical experience. That system was based upon considerations of mile age. It was a system under which art effective method of differentiation was arrived at - a system under which members who came from long distances received fees, during the greater portion of the session, which represented something like art adequate return to them of the expenditure which they had to incur. Although there seems to be a desire on the part of some honorable members to effect such a differentiation they do not appear to appreciate the virtues of the scheme which I outlined and, therefore, I shall take no further action in the matter. At the same time, I feel that it would be invidious on my part to press that scheme, because I happen to be one of those who - coming as I do from a long distance - would be specially benefited by it, whereas the allowance to those honorable members who are resident within the city of Melbourne would be correspondingly reduced. To make my position as clear as possible, I wish to say that my reason for opposing the second reading of the Bill is not because I think that £600 a year is one penny too much for honorable members to receive for attending the sittings of this Parliament - especially when they come from long distances. But I am in this peculiar position : that, being a new member, who was recently elected upon the basis of an allowance of £400 per annum, and not having mentioned the subject of an increase to those whose suffrages I sought, I feel it would be a breach of faith on my part to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and thus place additional emoluments in my own pocket. I admit that there is a large number of members who did mention this subject to their constituents, and who advocated the increase. Undoubtedly, they are justified in voting for the Bill. Pro.bably, if I were in their position, I ‘should adopt the same attitude as they have taken up. But owing to the peculiar position which I occupy, it was due to myself that I should explain my reasons for voting against the second reading of the measure.
Mr. MATHEWS’ (Melbourne Ports) [4.25]. - The deep interest taken in this matter by the press, as the watch-dog of the public, necessitates my giving some reason for my action last night in voting for an increase in the allowance payable to honorable members. As a new member, and one who intends to support the Bill, I do not desire to do so in any spirit of bravado, nor do I intend to take up a grovelling attitude to those persons who object to the increase, whether they be found amongst my constituents or elsewhere. I voted for the proposal, after due consideration, and I am prepared to accept full responsibility for my action. As a new member, I might very well have evaded that responsibility, because it was well known that there was a -majority in favour of the proposal. But inasmuch as I had determined to accept the increased allowance, I resolved to shoulder my responsibility by voting for the Bill. I admit that my worth to my constituents is a debatable point. But if my worth is to be gauged by my desire to legislate in the interests of my constituents, and of Australia generally, or by the attention which I bestow upon the multifarious duties which come within the province of a member of Parliament, I am satisfied chat the majority of my constituents will gracefully allow the matter to drop. A man’s worth is generally determined by the price which he places upon himself. I have no desire to put a very high price upon my worth - I leave the public to decide that. In the past only wealthy men could hope to occupy a position in Parliament for any length of time. At this juncture I wish to say that it illbecame many of the wealthy members of this House to take up the stand which they did upon this proposal. As an individual I have no desire to live up to £600 a year, but my experience has taught me - and I do not desire to parade it either here or elsewhere - that if I listen to the promptings of humanity, I shall not have much of my allowance, left even if I do not live any better than I have been accustomed to do.
– I think that I ought to say one or two words upon this Bill, and they will be words of criticism of the way in which the proposal embodied in it has again been treated by the Acting Prime Minister. In listening to his observations in moving the second reading of the Bill one could imagine that this House was an eleemosynary institution, in which charity was being doled out to honorable members, who were sorely in need of it. We heard references to the increasing poverty of honorable members who come from the various States - references as to how much poorer they had become since they entered this House. I feel that all such allusions have the effect of degrading this proposal. It is not a question of whether or not members are poor. There is only one basis upon which the proposal can rest, and chat is the basis which affects the representation of the people in this Chamber. That is the only basis upon which the proposal can be defended. It should rest there, and not on the increasing poverty of honorable members since entering this Parliament. My observation of honorable members leads me to say that there are really no very wealthy men in this House -
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member may know more about them than I do. There are some honorable members, I suppose, who are comfortably off, but in Australia we have not a leisured class who do nothing but devote themselves to the consideration of politics, as in the old country. That being so, there ought to be sufficient emoluments attaching to representation here to make it possible for the electors to exercise a wise and full choice in the matter of who shall represent them. It is because I believe that the proposed increase in the allowance to honorable members will be a step in that direction - though not a sufficiently adequate step - that I intend to support the Bill befor the House.
.- I cannot allow the motion to pass without stating that I am opposed to the Bill. I was asked at several meetings whether I would favour the increasing of members’ allowances, and I distinctly stated that I would not. The people of Australia have trusted us to manage the business of the Commonwealth for them, and we cannot therefore honestly help ourselves to the public funds unless we have their sanction for doing so.
– Will the honorable member take the increased allowance when it has been voted?
– That has nothing to do with the question, though some honorable members keep repeating the inter jection as a parrot repeats the words “ Pretty Polly.” Honorable members knew beforehand what the parliamentary allowance was. Not only did they come here voluntarily, but they fought to obtain positions in this House. Now that they are here, they say, “ We are not satisfied. We want more ‘money.” This Bill is on a par with a lot of the legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. This Parliament reduced the duty on whisky, with the result that the State of Western Australia has lost between £300,000 and ,£400,000 in revenue; and it increased the duty on’ steel rails and fastenings, so that it has become more difficult for the State Government to develop the resources of its territory, which comprises an area equal to one-third of that of Australia. Yet honorable members ask for an increase of pay for passing legislation of that kind. Whoever sheard of a country being developed on cheap whisky and dear railways ?
– The States have returned to them three-fourths of the revenue from Customs and Excise.
– It is now being suggested that we should put some of this money into our own pockets.
– The honorable member says that it is being dishonestly voted ?
– If I had a manager in charge of my business, and he increased his salary, I should say that his action was dishonest.
– Would it not be dis-‘ honest to take it, under these circumstances ?
– That is a matter “for members’ own consciences. I do not stand here to whitewash my conscience, as many honorable members have done. They have beaten round the subject, giving fifty reasons why they do not like the project, and objecting to the manner in which it has been brought forward, but concluding with the statement that they will vote for it. I am opposed to it. No doubt if this increase is obtained, another will be asked ! for when the Parliament is removed to the permanent Seat of Government, because it will be said that it costs more to live there than in Melbourne, and undoubtedly one could not live in wild country like that of Dalgety on an allowance which would be sufficient in Melbourne.
– A man would deserve £1.500 a year if he went to Dalgety.
– Some honorable members have suggested that the Victorian representatives should not be paid at the same rates that those who come from other States receive. Now, if there is anythings in the arguments which have been used as to’ a higher allowance being likely to attract a better class of representative, it must follow that the representatives of Victoria, who are relatively better off than those of other States, are better politicians, and the further the distance from which a representative comes the worse he must be, so that the representatives of Western Australia or Queensland cannot be as good as those of Victoria. In. my opinion, there is no force in such an argument. At the present time, there are fourteen Houses of Legislature in Australia, all of whose members are paid.
– The members of many of the Legislative Councils are not paid’.
– Many of the Acts which have been passed by this Parliament have not been for the good of Australia. By reading the morning papers, we can see that the business men of Australia are at present being harassed and worried by Federal legislation.
– Did not the honorable member stand as a protectionist?
– I stood for reasonable protection, not for prohibition. I desire, that every industry in Australia shall be fostered, but I do not’ desire that our business men shall be harassed and worried unnecessarily, or persons charged, for example, a duty of 7d. on the magazines they purchase. The allowance which honorable members receive was intended to cover expenses, not to enable those who receive it to live on it. Many honorable members were originally elected on what I might call the patriotic ticket; they desired to enter Parliament for the good of the country. But after their return, they said, “ This is not a bad game. We can make a living out of it, and will try to get more money.” Some honorable members are therefore living on the game.
– Payment of members prevents Doodling.
– The arguments whichhave been advanced in support of this Bill show that honorable members are after “ boodle,” and cannot live without it. Many, of them gained their positions by calling; others “ boodlers,” but now they say, “ We must’ have boodle, and we do not care where the money comes from.”
– That is a reflection, upon Parliament.
– I- do not intend it tobe so. I have entered this protest against the Bill, because I do not wish it to go- forth to Australia that I sat silent when the” measure was being passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Each senator and each member of the House of Representative’s shall receive an allowance ofSix hundred pounds a year.
– - I think that we should insert after the word “ representatives “ the words, “ excepting such senators and members of the House of Representatives who shall from conscientious reasons vote against this section, or against section 6.”
– That would make a farce of our proceedings.
– Let it go.
– I do not regard the proposition as farcical ; but if honorable members are opposed to it, I shall not press it.
Amendment (by Sir John Quick) proposed -
That the word “ Six,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Five.”
Question - That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.-
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That the following words be added : - “ except as hereinafter mentioned.”
If the amendment be agreed to, my intention is to propose the insertion of a new clause, to follow clause 3, providing that -
A senator or member of the House of Representatives if a Minister of State, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or the Chairman of Committees of the Senate or the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives, shall receive an allowance of Four hundred pounds a year.”
I believe that the original intention of the Parliament was that, as provided by the Constitution, Ministers should receive a sum of£12,500 per annum, to be distributed amongst them as they thought fit.
– That could not have been the intention of the first Parliament, because it decided that Ministers should receive their salaries in addition to the ordinary allowance.
– The honorable member reminds me that it was eventually decided by the Parliament that Ministers should receive the ordinary allowance in addition to their salaries. I am certain that those who have held office as Ministers of the Crown, as well as the Presiding Officers of both Houses, have found the allowance of £400 per annum sufficient to cover all the expenses to which they are put in attending to their parliamentary duties. That being so, there is no reason why the additional sum of£200 per annum should be given to them. It would tend only to making more striking the disproportion between the allowance of honorable members and the emoluments of Ministers, to which reference has already been made. I maintain that the amount paid to Ministers and the Presiding Officers is adequate under the existing circumstances of the Federation. It may be that, as the population of Australia increases, and the work of this Parliament expands it will be thought desirable to adopt the high standard setby other countries, and to pay the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth . £5,000 per annum or even more; but at present I do not think we should be justified in agreeing to increase the ordinary allowance of £400 per annum which.Ministers and the Presiding Officers in both Houses receive, in addition to their salaries.
– I voted for the increased allowance as a measure of absolute justice to honorable members who receive no other emolument from the public. But 1 could not regard in the same light a proposal to pay a further sum of £200 per annum to the Presiding Officers of the House, who already receive considerable allowances. I feel that I could not possibly vote for an increased grant in their case, since it would mean adding £200 per annum to the emoluments of gentlemen who are already receiving two salaries in one.’ The basis for an increased allowance in their case entirely disappears. It is a very small matter; but I feel that I must support the amendment.
.- I disagree with the view of the leader of the” Opposition and the mover of the amendment. The basis of this proposal is not the financial necessities of honorable members. I take it that if there be any basis to it - and I have already voted against the proposed increase - it is to be found in the contention that it will broaden the choice of representatives of the electors of Australia. On no other basis should such a proposal be introduced. When we are dealing with a proposition to increase the allowance of honorable members it is invidious to. pick out a few members of both .Houses, and to say that they shall be debarred from participating in the increase. Such a procedure would .not gain an enhanced reputation either for the Parliament or its members.In dealing with the salaries of Ministers of the Commonwealth, we ought not to quibble over a paltry .£200 or £300 per annum. A Minister of the Crown should be worth £2,000 a year, in addition to whatever allowance he may draw as a member of the House. For that reason, and because I do not see why Ministers and the Presiding Officers of both Houses should be shut out from this proposal, I shall resist the amendment, although, ‘as I have said, I am opposed to the Bill, .and will vote against it whenever I have an opportunity.
.- When the question was raised some time ago whether Ministers, in addition to their official salary, should also receive the ordinary member’s salary of £400, I felt compelled to speak and vote against a proposal to that effect. My own candid opinion is that the amount named in the Constitution for the payment of Ministers is ample ; and I altogether disagree with the view of the honorable member for Wentworth, who suggests that we should pay a higher sum to Ministers, and a lesser sum to ordinary members. The disparity between the amount paid to ordinary members of this House and another place, and the amount paid to members of the Executive Government, is far too great - greater than the difference in the work done cao justify. My own experience as a Minister was short, and, it may be, that my ability was not equal to the amount I was paid ; but I can say that the work demanded of an ordinary member of Parliament is equal to half the work of a Minister, though, of course, there is not the same responsibility in the case of the former.
– We cannot gauge the value of1 a Minister by the volume of work he performs.
– What I say is that, when we make an honorable member a Minister, his capacity or ability is not added to in any way.
– But, as a Minister, a man mav do. much harm, if he has no ability.
– There is a constitutional superstition surrounding members who occupy official positions; and in that superstition I do . not share. I venture to say that under a level-headed leader, there could be found, in the present Parliament, a dozen Ministers quite as able as any who have yet been in power. This may’ be heterodox, But it expresses my views, which accord with those I have expressed before. The present allowance leaves an honorable member the barest subsistence, if he has no other source of income. On the other hand, it is creditable to Ministers that, although they receive £400 in addition to - their official salary, they personally bear the whole of their travelling expenses.
– Which are sometimes a very considerable item.
– That is an absolutely wrong basis on which to pay Ministers, who ought to have their expenses paid whenever they are compelled to travel on the business of the country.
– They pay expenses “ out of’ the £400’.
– But that is not sufficient in some instances; and, in any case, as I say, it is a wrong basis of payment. No. man likes to perform public duties and pay expenses out of his own allowance. I know that Parliament voted Ministers this £400 on a so-called understanding; but understandings are not good. A Minister is not only entitled to be clothed with authority, but should have the right to spend any reasonable amount when travelling on the country’s work. It would be better to have this payment re-arranged. I do not say that this Bill presents the best opportunity ; but I have always felt that, perhaps, Ministers do not travel so much, or see so much of the country, as they should, simply because they have to pay the expenses out of their own pockets. I trust that some re-arrangement may be arrived at with advantage to the country, the Administration, and the public generally.
Mr. FAIRBAIRN (Fawkner) [5.53. - I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for- Corangamite. -I understand that this Bill is based on the financial necessities of honorable members; and on that ground I sympathize with the measure to a great extent. It was pointed out that honorable members, especially those from Western Australia and other distant States, have to practically keep up two homes during the session. The honorable member for Wentworth, however, suggested that this claim for higher remuneration was based on the fact that the electors would thus have a wider choice of candidates. But how can the electors possibly get any wider choice for the next three years? There is not likely to be a general election before then.
– We do not know.
– There are possibilities in that direction, even.
– If the electors could exercise a wider choice at once - although I do not desire them to have any choice as between me and any one else - there might be something in the contention of the honorable member for Wentworth. But the extra payment, if the Bill pass, will go on for the greater part of three years, without any possibility of the electors having a word to say in regard to it; and, therefore, I think the argument of the honorable member for Wentworth falls to the ground. As I have already said, the financial necessities of honorable members, and the disadvantageous position in which some of them are placed, are, in my opinion, the only justification for the measure; but that cannot be held to be a jus- tification in the case of Ministers, and, therefore, I shall support the amendment.
.- Some honorable members forget, I think; that when we, six years ago, fixed the salary of the Presiding Officers of Parliament, very few of us had any conception of the time that was likely to be occupied by the sessions which have followed. For the whole of the six years that this Parliament has existed, we have had long sessions every year. The first session occupied about eighteen months ; and I must say that I heartily sympathize with those Presiding Officers who have to remain in the chamber under such trying circumstances. I am not sure that if Parliament had anticipated the time likely to be occupied by our sessions, and the demand on the energies of the Presiding Officers, it would have fixed salaries so low as those provided. If my memory serves me aright, in the various States Parliaments, or, at any rate, in some of them, the salaries of the Presiding Officers are higher than those paid in. the Federal Parliament. I think it must be admitted that the responsibilities, and the position to be maintained, as well as the actual physical work involved, are just as great, if not greater, in this Parliament than in any of the States Parliaments. Some five or six years ago, when the question was raised as to whether a Minister should be paid .£400 a year in addition to the Ministerial salary, I expressed the opinion that the sum named in the Constitution was not sufficient, especially having regard to the various deductions that are necessarily made from those salaries. It may be said by some people that those deductions are not. compulsory. The deductions are there, nevertheless ; and they are a moral obligation under a custom that has grown up in every Parliament of every English-speaking community. That being so, I hold the view still, that the salary of a Minister, whose responsibilities are so great as those of a Commonwealth Minister, ought not to be gauged by the actual amount of physical work performed.
– Cannot that be said of any other honorable member?
– I admit that; but for an honorable member to get up and talk of the number of hours in which a Minister is engaged in his Department as a clerk might be - though I speak, of course,, with every appreciation of the work of a clerk - is to institute an erroneous comparison.
– This Bill does not deal with the salaries of Ministers.
– I was just about to deal with that point.
– I do not know what a Minister would do sometimes without the clerk to whom the honorable member for South Svdney refers.
– I have already said out that I appreciate fully the clerk’s work. But the kind of ability that is expected from a Minister is not to be measured by the mere clerical work he performs in his Department. The Minister is the directing and guiding hand; and it might be worth our while to give one man £10,000 a year for an hour’s work a day, rather than give another man £1,000 a year for twenty hours a day - it all depends on the gravity of the circumstances in which he has to act. Speaking generally and broadly, as I said six years ago, it would pay the people of Australia to remunerate or reward their Executive Ministers handsomely. *
– The honorable member always did believe in high wages.
– I have always believed in them.
– The honorable member wished to give a Railway Commissioner £10,000 a year.
– I did not propose to pay him £10,000, but I said that it would pay us, under some circumstances, to give that salary to a Commissioner. In regard to positions of trust and responsibility, it is more than ever essential that we should, by paying them adequate salaries, place those who have charge of important interests beyond any possible temptation. I invite serious attention to the point that this is not the occasion on which to decide on the value of the services of the Presiding Officers. When the Estimates are under consideration is the time ; the ‘Committee would then be quite justified in taking into consideration the salaries ordinarily paid to those officers. What we have to do at present, it seems to me,, is to fix what should be the regular remuneration for members, as ordinary members.
– Does the honorable member say that a Ministerial salary should bc determined on the consideration of the Estimates ?
– I was referring more particularly to the Presiding Officers.
– And Ministers too.
– The amendment refers also to the Presiding Officers, and I say that this is not the occasion to fix their salaries.
– They are already fixed.
– Excuse me, that is not so - they are fixable every year when the Estimates are before us, and when honorable members may decide whether -the salary of the President or Speaker shall be £1,100, in addition to the salary of an ordinary member, or less or more.
With regard to Ministers, I do not think that an additional £200 - is a matter we need worry about. I believe that right from the first Ministers have made a mistake in paying their own travelling expenses out of their salary. They are twitted by some of the newspapers with receiving their official salaries plus £400. Yet, in some instances, the greater portion of that £400 has been absorbed by necessary expenses incurred in travelling from one part of the Commonwealth to another.
– We ought to take action to remedy that.
– In my view, Ministers should be encouraged to visit every part of the Commonwealth where business may call them. It is a pity that some Ministers have not travelled more than they have done - especially during the recess. I do not think that the question of the extra allowance of £200 a year to Ministers is of sufficient importance to warrant us in differentiating between them and other members of the House. In. the case of officers of the House, the question has been approached from altogether a wrong stand-point. Those officers should be included with other members of Parliament, and should receive the same allowance. When the Estimates are under review their salaries can be fixed in proportion to the amount which they receive as ordinary members. Beyond that, I do not wish to say anything, except that in the long run I believe the Commonwealth will benefit by paying a reasonably high salary to every honorable member who fills the position of a Minister.
._I have listened very attentively to the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney, and I agree with a great deal of what he has said. I do not see why we should place an embargo upon any honorable member simply because he happens to become a Minister. The Speaker and Chairman of Committees are representatives of the people, and I fail to understand why any distinction should be drawn between the allowance payable to them and that payable to other honorable members. Some honorable members regard the proposal to increase our emoluments as an outrage, and others urge that Ministers are already sufficiently remunerated for their services. At a later stage, I intend to submit an amendment in the form of a conscience clause,, under which honorable members who entertain any scruple about drawing the increased allowance will be able to credit it to the Consolidated Revenue. In reference to the position occupied by officers of the House, I listened attentively to the remarks of the right honorable member for East Sydney. It is true that they apparently receive a large salary, and that an increase i-f £200 in their allowance would make it appear still larger. That, however, is a matter which can be dealt with when the Estimates are under consideration. Some honorable members have stated that they intend to .support the Bill because of the poverty of other members. I object to accepting charity of that kind, and would prefer that any honorable member who proposes to vote for the Bill from any such motive should do his best to destroy it. This House is not a benevolent institution. During the last Parliament, the honorable member for Parkes, who is opposed to this Bill, had a motion standing upon the businesspaper for several weeks affirming that the allowance payable to honorable members should be increased to something like £1,000 per annum. Personally, I am disposed to think that the disparity between the salaries of honorable members and those of Ministers is too great. The honorable member for Corangamite has made a personal reference to Ministers and to the officers of this House. I claim that Ministers, officers of the House, and those honorable members who are opposed to the Bill on the ground that it is tantamount to robbing the taxpayer, should certainly take advantage of the conscience clause which I intend to submit. The honorable member for South Sydney has very plainly said that while upon public business a Minister should not be charged the travelling expenses which he incurs. I quite agree with him. I wish also to put upon record the fact that notonly the present Ministry, but all previous Governments of. the Commonwealth have exercised a self-denying ordinance by personally defraying the cost of the conveyance of members to their homes at the conclusion of late sittings - a charge which in State Legislatures is invariably paid out of the public revenue.
– In New South Wales, the ‘Government provide special trams and trains to convey members to their homes.
– Exactly. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for South Sydney say that it is impossible to measure the sacrifices which an honorable member makes by his attendance here. Take the case of the right honorable member for
East Sydney, who went out of his way last night to intimate that he would decline to draw the increased allowance. Why should he be called upon to exercise such self-denial ?
– The honorable member for Echuca is not going to draw it.
– Why should either of these honorable members be placed in that position ? Let us insert in this Bill a conscience clause of which they will be enabled to take advantage. Unfortunately, the right honorable member for East Sydney cannot afford to attend the sittings of this House as frequently as he would like. But everybody will admit that when he is present he renders great service to the Commonwealth. I should be the last to wish to deprive Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of Committees, of their allowance as private members, but when the Estimates are under consideration I think- we might con:sider whether or not their official salaries ought to be reduced.
.- If at any time during its history this Parliament had been called upon to fix the allowance payable to honorable members, it would certainly have fixed a higher amount than £400 per annum. So far as the salaries of officers of the House are concerned, of course they were determined bv the Parliament with a full knowledge of all the circumstances surrounding their positions. It has been urged that in fixing their salaries we did not know that the sessions would last so long, and that the work would be so arduous. That is perfectly true, but it is also a fact that since the amount of their remuneration was determined, an Opportunity has been presented each year to reduce it, and that opportunity has not been embraced. So far as the emoluments of Ministers are concerned, I am one of those who opposed the proposition that thev should receive the parliamentary allowance of £400 a year in addition to the amount provided for them under the Constitution, and I. still think that the constitutional appropriation should be sufficient. I shall support the amendment.
– - The honorable members for Boothby and East Sydney and others have suggested that the salaries of the Presiding Officers of the two Houses should be dealt with during the consideration of the Estimates ; but, in my opinion, it is better to exclude them from- the scope of this measure. Personally, I think that it is unnecessary to increase those salaries by £200 a year, and, as the result of a conversation which I had with the AttorneyGeneral on the subject, yesterday, a proviso has been prepared which, if agreed to, will remove Ministers of State and the Presiding Officers of the two Houses from the operation! of the Bill. If the honorable member for Corangamite will be good enough to withdraw- his amendment, I shall move this proviso.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that in the case of a senator or member of the House of Representatives who holds any of the following offices, namely, Minister of State, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chairman of Committees of the Senate, or Chairman of Comtees of the House of Representatives, the allowance shall be ^400 a year in addition to the emoluments of his office.”
Mr. WATSON (South Sydney)’ [5.371. - I strongly urge the Committee in dealing with this clause to treat the Presiding Officers of the two Houses as senators and members, and, when the Estimates are under consideration, to reduce their official salaries by £200, the amount by which their total emoluments will be increased by the passing of the Bill. In my opinion, all members of the Parliament should be treated alike, the proper time for considering what salary should be paid to a particular officer being during the consideration! of the Estimates.
– The honorable member’s argument would apply to the treatment of Ministers’ salaries too.
– The official remuneration of Ministers is fixed by the Constitution, but the salaries of the Presiding Officers of the two Houses are voted annually on the Estimates, so that there is a wide difference between the two cases.
Mr. REID (East Sydney) r5-4i]– We have already read samples of the abuse to which we are likely to be exposed for our connexion with this measure, and, as a friend of it, I do not wish to give the enemy additional occasion for slander. Unless the amendment is agreed to, it will be said that, under cover of a Bill determining the proper remuneration of .members, we have increased, by £200 a vear, the emoluments of gentlemen holding highly paid offices. That would be legitimate criticism, because, if the amendment is not agreed to, the practical effect of passing the clause will be to add £200 a year to the salaries of these officers. It has been said that we should not exclude the holders of offices from the benefits of the Bill, and should, when the Estimates are under discussion, .reduce their salaries by ,£200 a year ; but we know very well that if we pass the Bill as it stands, that will not be done. In my opinion, the Presiding Officers of the two Houses should be excluded from the operation) of the measure, and if honorable’ members then think that their emoluments are not sufficient, we can get the Government to make provision for increasing them. The Presiding Officers of the Houses are not in the same category as ordinary members; and if the amendment is agreed to their emoluments will remain as they are. I think that the course proposed by the” Minister is the better one, though I would not oppose that suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney, if the Government promised to move the reduction pf the salaries of these officials by £200 a year each.
– After all, the amount would be very small.
– Yes; but as a matter of principle we ought .not, under cover of this Bill, to add to the emoluments of well-paid officials.
– I cannot say that I am enamoured of the amendment proposed by the Minister, although I agree with the honorable member for East Sydney that we should not increase the salaries of well-paid Presiding Officers in the way proposed under this Bill. On the other hand, I think that a great deal of irritation has been caused owing to. misapprehension -on the part of many people as to the action of Ministers in taking the ordinary allowance in addition to the salary provided for them under the Constitution. I should prefer the emoluments of the President of the Senate, Mr. Speaker, and the Chairman of Committees in each House to be dealt with when the Estimates are under consideration. The House might then suggest that expenses incurred by Ministers whilst travelling in their official capacity should be borne by the Commonwealth. The present system is most unsatisfactory. It leads to a misapprehension on the part of the people, and certainly does not encourage Ministers to undertake trips to various parts of the Commonwealth which must necessarily involve considerable expense. I should like Ministers to be encouraged to visit all parts of the Commonwealth.
– There is another means by which that encouragement may be given.
– That is so. I am prepared to vote for the amendment on the understanding that later on we shall be given an opportunity to make provision for the payment of expenses incurred by Ministers when travelling on Government business, and also to determine whether they should draw the ordinary allowance in addition to the salaries provided for them under the Constitution.
– I think that the amendment moved by the Minister is likely to give rise to an anomaly. It would be most unfortunate to differentiate in the way proposed between Ministers and private members. When it was first proposed that Ministers should be entitled to the ordinary allowance of ,£400 per annum in addition to the salaries attaching to their offices, I thought it was a right step to take. It seems to me, however, that it would be better in their case to apply the allowance of £400 per annum to a pension fund for ex-Ministers of #the Crown. A step of this kind has been taken in Canada, where exMinisters of the Crown who have fallen upon times of adversity, receive an annuity. In the Times of 21st July, 1905, the following paragraph dealing with official and legislative salaries in Canada was published : -
Mr. Fielding, Minister of Finance, in explaining a resolution granting an annuity to any exMinister who has been at the head of a department for five consecutive years, said it would apply to twelve Privy Councillors, three of whom had belonged to the present Government and nine to preceding. Governments. He thought that, owing to the responsibility of the position of a Cabinet Minister, the country should make provision that a man w.ho gave up all his time to it should not only be given adequate remuneration, but should also be entirely removed from temptations. It frequently happened that by reason of the many demands upon a Minister, when he retired from the public service he did so a poorer man than when he entered it. It was not a pleasant thing to think that in many instances men who had given the best period of their lives to the service of Canada had been allowed to live out the evening of their lives in comparative poverty.
So far as this matter is concerned, the Ministry are only trustees for future Governments, and the Acting Prime Minister is proposing to differentiate between members of the Government and private members of the Parliament. If it is right that an allow ance of £600 per annum should be received by members of this Legislature, then Ministers should not be debarred from participating in that allowance. If Ministers are to receive anything in addition to their official salaries they should draw the same allowance as is paid to other members. I think, however, it would be far better to place the ordinary allowance to which they would be entitled in the hands of Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, and the leader of the Opposition ‘ as trustees of a fund to provide for the payment of pensions to ex-Ministers who had fallen upon evil times. I should like the amendment to be negatived so that Ministers would stand on an equal footing with other members of the Parliament.
.^! do not like the way in which this proposal has been brought forward. It seems to me that Ministers of the Crown and the Presiding Officers are just as much members of the Parliament as are honorable members who are not in office. As members of the Legislature, they owe a duty to their constituents, whether they be Ministers of the Crown or Presiding Officers, and I do not think that it is desirable to make the invidious distinction proposed. If the remuneration paid to the officers of either House is too high, then it is open to us, when the Estimates are under consideration, to re- * duce it. So far as this Bill is concerned, all members should be placed on an equal footing, and we should not have regard to any other payments which they may receive.. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that if the remuneration now received by the Presiding Officers is too high, we ought to reduce it, and that if we consider that the payment of this increased allowance to Ministers would make their emolument too great, it is within our power to reduce their official salaries, since the’ Constitution provides that they shall receive a certain amount until the Parliament otherwise provides. In these circumstances, therefore, I shall vote against the amendment.
.- I am pleased that, as the result of action taken by me, the position of Ministers, and especially the non-payment of their travelling expenses by the Crown, has been discussed. The Acting Prime Minister now proposes to exempt Ministers from the payment of the additional sum of .£200 per annum to be granted honorable members. I trust that -before the session closes we shall arrive at a decision regarding the pay- silent of Ministerial expenses, because it cannot be denied that members of the Government are not likely to travel as they ought to da when they have to pay their own expenses. It is highly desirable that they should be encouraged to visit various parts of the Commonwealth, and to make themselves familiar with every phase of industry in Australia, sure a wider knowledge of local conditions on their part must result in the better government of the people.
– Does the honorable member suggest that they ought; to receive :a travelling allowance in addition to their present emoluments?
– I hold that Ministers are well paid for the work they perform. But in meeting in Cabinet and attending to their parliamentary duties here they discharge only a part of their obligations to the Commonwealth. If the honorable member thinks that Ministers should spend half their salaries in travelling-
– They do not do anything of the kind.
– Why should they? Who would expect them to expend half their salaries in touring the Commonwealth ?
– The honorable ‘ member is making an extravagant statement.
– It is as easy for the members of the Ministry to- disburse half their salaries by way of travelling expenses as it is for any of us to sit in this Chamber for half-an-hour. Their expenses must necessarily be high. We cannot send an ambassador any distance without expending one-third of the total amount received by a Minister in any one year. The views that I hold in this respect may be wrong, but I have no hesitation in asserting that the travelling expenses of Ministers of the Crown ought to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue. As to the position of the Presiding Officers, I think that a remuneration of £300 in excess of the. amount which it is proposed to pay honorable members generally would be absolutely insufficient in the case of the Chairman of Committees in either House. The same remark would apply to the position of the President ‘ and Mr. Speaker. I think that Ministers should not be called upon to pay their own expenses when travelling on Government business, for the reason that if they travelled more freely in the Commonwealth the business of the country would be more satisfactorily conducted. I agree with the leader of the Opposition and the honorable member .for South Sydney that the House of Representatives will be prepared to agree to the Ministers of the Commonwealth being more highly remunerated when the country comes to recognise the services they render, and can afford to more adequately reward them. The salary at present provided for Ministers under the Constitution would be sufficient if we agreed that, in addition, they should be paid all expenses incurred by them when travelling on Government business.
.- There is room for a difference of opinion on the question of whether or not the Parliament acted wisely in determining some time ago to allow Ministers to draw, in addition to their Ministerial salaries, the ordinary allowance of £400 per annum in lieu of travelling expenses. It seems to me that the question is one which demands further attention on the part of honorable members. There is no justification for discriminating between honorable members in connexion with, a measure of this kind. I regret that the Acting Prime Minister has seen fit to propose to exempt the Presiding Officers as well as Ministers from the operation of this Bill. The question of whether the emolument received by Ministers is too small to allow them to travel as they ought to do, or whether it is paid under conditions that are likely to lead to a minimum of travelling for a maximum of expense, is not material to the point at issue. It has been said that we ought not to differentiate between Ministers of die Crown and private members; we certainly ought not to do so, so far as the officers of the House are . concerned. The salaries of the Presiding Officers are dealt with on the Estimates, and it would be wrong for honorable members to seek to give effect to the object which they have in view by discriminating in the way that has been proposed. The honorable member for South Sydney has made the best suggestion in regard to the salaries of the Presiding Officers, if not in regard to the salaries of Ministers, namely, that the matter should be allowed to stand over until the Estimates are before us. In ray opinion, it is wrong to deal with either salaries in this Bill; but, however that may be, I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
– I hope the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will withdraw his proposed amendment of the amendment, because if it is persisted in, it will place some honorable members in rather a peculiar position. ‘ If we support the proposal of the honorable’ member it will appear as if we were voting £200 per annum more for the Presiding Officers than we are voting for Ministers. I am rather in favour of the amendment proposed by the Acting Prime Minister in regard to Ministers, and if the matter be pressed to a division I shall vote for the latter. I know that the intention of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is that the salaries of the Presiding Officers shall be dealt with on the Estimates.
– If it is thought necessary.
– All the same, if the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie be pressed to a division it will place honorable members -in an awkward position.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will withdraw his proposal. There is no doubt that one of the greatest points made by the people outside, who pay us our salary or reimbursement, is that Ministers receive an additional £400 a year ; and Ministers are wisely realizing the position. No man likes to reduce salaries, and I decline to. be placed in the position of doing so. I shall certainly vote for the amendment moved by the Acting Prime Minister. I have always held that the Presiding Officers of Parliament should be selected from outside, because I realize that a constituency is disfranchised, on a vote being taken, seeing that the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees is necessarily in the chair. I should be willing to make the salaries of Ministers much higher. The honorable member for East Sydney will agree that next to the Governor-General the Prime Minister is the first man in the Commonwealth, and should receive the salary next to that of His Excellency. The Judges of the High Court, for instance, draw larger salaries than do Ministers, who by election represent the country. If a proposal is submitted in a straightforward way to increase the salaries of Ministers it shall have my vote; but this Bill is introduced to increase the allowance of honorable members, and not to raise the salaries of those who have the higher remuneration. As a representative of Melbourne itself, I am the last to desire an increase in my allowance. I recognise, however, that honor able members from New South Wales or South Australia have to keep up two homes, and are really in a worse position than those who come from the extreme west or from Queensland, and who make their homes in Melbourne during the session. I shall support the Government proposal.
.- There is one point which it seems to me honorable members have overlooked. I quite agree with the honorable member for Melbourne that Commonwealth Ministers should be paid salaries in keeping with the high responsibilities and the dignity of their position. The honorable member, however, will agree with me that there is another office in this House” which receives no pecuniary consideration, but which is next in importance to that of Prime Minister. I refer to the leadership of the Opposition.
– There is the .leader of the Labour Party.
– I do not wish to go into the general question, but merely to refer t> the official critic of the Government, and to suggest that his office ought to receive some monetary consideration. In this Bill, of course, we cannot deal with a question of the kind. 1 am only suggesting that if Ministers were to consent, at great sacrifice to their conscience, to take an allowance of £600 a year, now being voted for members generally, and afterwards to give a share of the £12,000 annually allotted to them as Ministers to the leader of the Opposition, or such officer as he may appoint, it would be a straightforward way of dealing with the matter. I offer this as a suggestion. If Ministers accept the extra £200 a year, they will afterwards have a chance of showing their complete virtue and altruism by giving a portion to the leader of the Opposition.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
– I now “ move, according to notice -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that so long as. the Seat of Government is in the State of Victoria, each Senator and each Member of the House of Representatives chosen for that State or for a Division thereof shall receive an allowance of ^400 a year only.”
Last night, I supported the proposed increase of remuneration because I recognised the injustice which representatives from other States suffer. Personally, I was not asked a single question on this matter during my election campaign, and, therefore,
I feel perfectly free to do what I consider right. I was greatly impressed last night, not only by the fact that the measure was introduced by the Acting Prime Minister, but also by the fact that it was supported by the honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable member for South Sydney, and the right honorable member for Swan, the latter of whom made a liberal and very excellent speech. The honorable member for. East Sydney said his only object was to remove the injustice suffered by honorable members who have to come a long distance, and that is my only reason for approving of the measure. I notice that nearly all the Victorian representatives in the Opposition corner admit there is a great difference between their position and that of representatives from other States ; but, unlike myself, they do not seem inclined to accord justice to those gentlemen. I intimated last night that I would submit an amendment to exclude the representatives of. Victoria from participating in any increase of remuneration ; and there is no doubt that we have full power to deal as we think fit in apportioning the allowance. In Quick and Garran, it is stated -
Without an amendment of the Constitution, the Federal Parliament may at any time either abolish payment of members or reduce or increase the allowance which each member is to receive, or alter the method of apportioning the allowance, providing that each member shall be paid according to the distance which he travels or the attendance which he gives at the sittings of his House.
In other Legislatures there is a mileage allowance, but it would be very difficult to equitably make such an arrangement in the case of Australia. I therefore submit the amendment.
– What is to happen when the Seat of Government is fixed in New South Wales?
– Then, I presume, the whole question will be reconsidered. As to honorable members who oppose the Bill, it is a matter for their own conscience whether they accept or reject the allowance if it be voted. The honorable member for East Sydney very frankly stated what he would do; and his is certainly a very effective way of giving effect to his opinion. I have definitely made up my mind what I shall do, but do not wish to make any capital out of it. by stating it here. It is a question which each honorable member must decide for himself. I was, however, very much surprised to hear the honorable member for Fremantle declare that in reality we were dishonestly voting money into our own pockets. Yet, when he was asked whether he would refuse to accept the increased allowance, he declined to say that he would refuse it. He made a most offensive speech, but apparently he entertains no objection to accepting money which he considers will be dishonestly voted.
– The Government cannot support the amendment. I am strongly of opinion that all honorable members should receive the same allowance, except under the conditions which have been embodied in the amendment already carried.
– Would the Acting Prime Minister support such a proposal if the Seat of Government were in New South Wales?
– No. I do not think it is fair to differentiate between one set of honorable members and another set. When the Seat of Government is established in New South Wales, honorable members will probably require the whole of their allowance to defray their expenses. I ask the honorable member not to press the amendment. If he does so the Ministry will vote against it. ‘
– I intend to support the amendment, although I do not think that a very” logical distinction can be drawn between honorable members by means of the geographical boundaries of Victoria. I am in this position: I feel in regard to this measure that however desirable and proper it may be to increase the allowance payable to honorable members from the other States, so as to reimburse them the expenses incurred in maintaining two establishments, and in travelling long distances, we ought not to pass any portion of this Bill without first taking the electors of Australia into our confidence. Therefore, I cannot recognise the distinction which the honorable member for Gippsland seeks to draw between the representatives of Victoria and those of the other States as being, in any sense a logical one. But in pursuance of the position which I have taken up throughout the entire discussion of this proposal, I feel compelled to support the amendment.
– I am surprised at the character of the amendment submitted. It seems to me to be nothing more nor less thanpolitical peddling. There is only one way in which we can deal with the inequalities which have been pointed out, and certainly it is not by’ incorporating such a proposal as this in the Bill before us. Had the honorable member for Gippsland proposed to initiate a scheme of allowances - either living or travelling - I could have understood his position, but we ought not to sanction this self-denying ordinance on the part of the Victorian representatives in a Bill of this character. I need scarcely point out that some of those representatives have just as much right to be considered as have the representatives from other States. .
– What about a Victorian representative who resides in the country ?
– Precisely. Take the case of the honorable member for Corangamite. The journey to his home occupies almost as long as does the journey by rail to New South Wales. If the honorable member for Gippsland wishes to apply a provision of this character to Victorian representatives he should grade it in its application to them. Surely the honorable member for Corangamite is entitled to some consideration as compared with honorable members whose homes and constituencies are in the vicinity of Melbourne. Honorable members who have arrived at such a fine point ought to vote against the amendment rather than for it.
Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [6.20L- I must compliment the deputy leader of the Opposition upon his well chosen words. When the honorable member for Flinders speaks as he has done, his words are not merely political peddling, but political peddling by a political parasite. When, by a fortunate concatenation of circumstances, he became Premier of Victoria, what did he do? Of course I ami alluding to his action in connexion with the Separate Representation Act. He did the very thing which he now says ought not to be done. He affirms that this Bill ought not to be carried until the constituencies have been consulted, but when he introduced one of the vilest Acts ever placed upon the statute-book of Victoria did he suggest that the electors should first be consulted? What were his words, as quoted by Mr. Mackinnon, now an honorary member of the Bent Ministry ? Speaking of the contemplated changes he introduced them in these words– which I frankly admit were not brought before the country or sanctioned by the country.
– Order 1
– I merely desire to show that the argument of the honorable member for Flinders that this Bill, before being passed, ought to be referred to the electors for their approval, is the veriest political piffle. He now says that we should do that which in similar circumstances he declined to do.
– Order ! The honorable member must not pursue that line of argument.
– I suppose, that I shall have an opportunity at a later stage of showing honorable members how inconsistent is the action .of the honorable member for Flinders.
– There is no inconsistency there.
– I can scarcely hope to persuade his namesake to see eye to eye with me. We have always occupied seats upon opposite sides of the Legislature, and I hope that we always shall.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne apparently thinks he has discovered a grave inconsistency in the action of the honorable member for Flinders.
– I know that it is not ar» inconsistency in the eyes of the honorable member.
– The honorable member must surely see that the circumstances are entirely different. The objection which the honorable member for Flinders: offers to this Bill is that as it is a measure which involves putting certain moneys intoour own pockets we ought not to pass it , until it has been placed before the electors of the country, whereas the question towhich the honorable member for Melbourne has directed attention was one of public policy, which did not involve the personal profit of the honorable member who introduced it.
.– In speaking upon the second reading of this Bill I intimated that as the allowance of £400 was in no sense a salary, and’ we certainly ought not to increase it until the proposal had been put before the people. Of course I arm aware that in many cases honorable members did put it before their constituencies. But personally I could not vote for it till it has been remitted to them for their approval, even if I were not pledged to oppose it. My own idea is that the allowance to reimburse honorable members should be put upon a logical basis by drawing a distinction between those who sacrifice very little and those who sacrifice a great deal. I cannot support the amendment, because it does not seem to fulfil that” purpose at all. I would gladly welcome any proposal which provided for a scientific adjustment of the allowances for travelling, and which would cover as many aspects of the case as possible. Of course, I recognise that in any case there would be some inconsistencies. It would be difficult to legislate for their complete exclusion. But a properly thought out plan would, I think, do away with the illogical and inequitable, basis of the present allowance. I repeat that as the amendment would not fulfil the object which I have in view I cannot support it.
– In declaring that he intended to support the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland, the honorable member for Flinders was perfectly within his rights, and I do not understand why the honorable member for Melbourne should have taken exception to his action. By making the remarks which he did, the honorable member for Flinders only proved his consistency. He was the first honorable member to speak upon the proposal embodied in this Bill, and he it was who drew the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the fact that it was not brought forward in a constitutional manner. The Acting Prime Minister considered the point which had been raised, and I presume that the proposal has now been placed upon a strictly constitutional basis. I agree with those who say that the Government, having introduced the measure, should nail their colours to the mast and support it. They had their reasons for introducing it. In their wisdom, doubtless, they thought they were adopting the right course.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 .p.m.
– Apparently the conscience of the honorable member for Gippsland has smitten him, and, having slept on the matter, he feels compelled to recognise the principle which underlies this proposal.
– I gave notice last night that I would move the amendment.
– Then the honorable member did so when I was not in the Chamber. My . knowledge of him goes back for many years, and I recognise that he would not do anything that he conceived to be other than honorable. As I said last night, the electors should be given an opportunity to express their opinion on this proposal to increase the allowance of members. The Government knew, prior to the last election, that it was a burning question, and might have arranged for a referendum in regard to it. That would have given an opportunity for the expression of ‘ the opinion of the country. I think that, had a referendum been taken, the voting would have been against such a proposal. In any case, the position would have been more satisfactory than it is to-day. During my candidature, I was asked in various parts of my electorate if I would favour an increase in the allowance, and my invariable reply was, “ No.” I am aware that some honorable members say that they declared, when before their constituents, that they would vote for this proposal, and I do not dispute their statements ; but I do not think that there are ten honorable members in that position. Therefore, the bulk of the electors have* not been consulted. I am glad that the Government have shown some recognition of public opinion, either expressed in the press or in the telegrams which I know to have been received from Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, and have virtually adopted the proposal of the honorable member for Corangamite, exempting Ministers and the Presiding Officers of the two Houses from the proposed increase. I am afraid that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland will be defeated, though I hope that it will not. In any case, I appeal to the Government not to take the third reading of the Bill until the country has had time to express its opinion on the measure. If we are to remain solvent, and to progress onsound commercial lines, we must keepalways in mind the position of our finances. It has been pointed out, that, in spite of the increase in taxation, the Government proposals for expenditure are so large that there will be a very small surplus at the end of the current year. It behoves us, therefore, not to further increase expenditure by raising our own allowances.
.- The honorable member for Grampians went considerably beyond the amendment, and spoke on the general question of payment of members. I shall not follow his example, but shall confine myself to the amendment, The honorable member for Gippsland indicated last night, when we were discussing the expediency of appropriating money for the purposes of the Bill, that he intended to move an amendment exempting Victorian representatives from its provisions. I opposed the idea, and said that there was no reason why he and others should commit what the Japanese call hari hari. I said that I consider this political suicide to be foolish, because there is no reason for differentiating between Victorian representatives and those of other States. Each and every member of the Committee is responsible to his constituents for his vote in this Chamber. I am ready to take my share of responsibility for having openly advocated the proposed increase, and supported the measure. It is a mere accident that at the present time the present Victorian constituencies are nearer to the’ Seat of- Government than are those of the other States, and if we were to vote for the amendment, it would be tantamount to an expression of opinion that for a considerable time to come Parliament is to meet in Melbourne. But the representatives of New South Wales have now for three Parliaments been fighting for the establishment of the Capital in that State in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. It may be suggested by some member possessing the astuteness of the honorable member for Flinders that, if the amendment were carried, it would stimulate Victorian representatives to do something for the removal of the Capital to New South Wales, because they would naturally be anxious to have their allowances increased from £400 to £600. That, however, is taking a low view of human nature. I do not think that a Victorian, or any other representative, would, to benefit himself, do something which he thought detrimental to the Commonwealth. If, however, the honorable member for Gippsland, and other Victorian representatives, have conscientious scruples about taking the proposed increase, they will be able to take advantage of the conscience clause which I intend to propose, and not draw the money. It must be remembered, moreover, that all the Victorian constituencies are not, like that of Batman, practically the back-yard of Parliament House. Within a short period I hope even the representative of Batman will have to travel 300 or 400 miles to get to the Federal Capital. But at the present time representatives like the honorable member for Corangamite have to be away from their homes for practically as long periods as members, like myself, who come from Sydney. Why, then, should they be differentiated against? All that the elec- tors will concern themselves about is whether the increase is justifiable. They will not care whether it is being paid to every representative or only to representatives of States other than Victoria. If they think it right, they will approve of it, but otherwise they will totally disapprove of it, even though the exemption proposed by the honorable member for Gippsland be agreed to. I do not regard the proposed allowance of £600 a year as an appraisement of a member’s political worth and usefulness. It would be impossible, under any scheme, to accurately appraise the value of each man’s services. But if I were a Victorian representative, I would not write myself down as of less value than a representative of Queensland or New South Wales. I can understand honorable members saying that they will not take the proposed increase. Every man has a right to his own views on a subject of this kind. But I cannot understand why members have expressed themselves as willing to support the proposed differentiation. As a New South Wales representative. I shall not vote to stamp the Victorian representatives as less deserving and efficient than are those from other States.
– I intend to support the amendment, since, at the last general election, I said, at more than one meeting, that while I favoured an increased allowance to representatives of the other States who were put to considerable expense and inconvenience in attending to their parliamentary duties here, and in keeping up two homes, Victorian members were under no similar disability. I would suggest to the honorable member for Gippsland, however, that he should substitute for the word “ Victoria “ the words “ the State in which the Seat of Government is situated.” In that event the exemption would apply to Victorian representatives so long as Melbourne remained the seat of Government, and would apply to the representatives of New South Wales upon the establishment of the Capital in that State.
– I have found it somewhat difficult to determine what object the honorable member for Gippsland had in view in submitting this amendment, and have been inclined to think that it is the result of a strategical move on the part of either the Acting Prime Minister or the Minister of Trade and Customs, to secure the support of the representatives of Victoria to the efforts now being made to remove the Seat of Government to New South Wales.
– The honorable member should not draw such an inference. I have been wondering why the Opposition corner held a caucus meeting a little while ago.
– I intend to support the amendment for a reason which is perhaps different from that which led to its being proposed. I am distinctly opposed to the Bill, since I believe that it has not received the authority of the electors. I believe that we shall eventually adopt the practice in force in the United States, where the allowance received by members of Congress varies according to the distances which they have to travel, and the inconvenience to which they are subjected in the discharge of their public duties. It is admitted that several honorable members, whilst on the hustings last year, indicated their determination to vote for an increased allowance, but I am not among those who have had an opportunity to ascertain the views of their constituents upon this question. So far as I am able to judge, I believe that my constituents are opposed to the Bill, and I shall support the amendment, although I think it would be inequitable to differentiate between the representatives of Victoria and those of the other States. As a representative of a metropolitan constituency, I occupy a position more favorable than is that of the honorable member for Wimmera, or the honorable member for Corangamite, both of whom have to travel a long distance, and to incur almost as much expense and loss of time as do many of the representatives of New South Wales in attending the sittings of the Parliament. I repeat that I am opposed to the Bill as a whole, but shall support the amendment.
.- The honorable member who has- just resumed his seat has given some excellent reasons why this amendment, which he intends to support, should be rejected. A proposal to differentiate between the representatives of the State in which “the Parliament meets and those of other States seems at the first glance to be an equitable one, but no such distinction couldbe attempted except in the most superficial manner. The tendency of the amendment, if carried, would be to confine the representation of Victoria in this Parliament to a few wealthy individuals and a handful of professional men who happened to reside in Melbourne.
That being so, I can well understand the attitude of the Opposition Corner in supporting it. They do not hanker after any wide range of candidates at a general election. If the amendment would have the effect of confining the representation of this State to one section of the community, I have no doubt they would be well satisfied. As a matter of fact this proposal will not bear scrutiny. We find, for instance, that the honorable member for Echuca lives on one side of the border, whilst the honorable member for Riverina lives a few miles from him on the other side. Yet, although both practically suffer the’ same inconvenience and expense in attending here, the honorable member for Riverina would, under this amendment, receive an allowance of £200 per annum in excess of that granted the honorable member for Echuca. It may be the will of Divine Providence that within a short time Echuca shall be represented in this House by some one who estimates his ability as being worth a little more than £400 per annum.
– Divine Providence is not likely to change its mind so quickly.
– Then another contingency is possible; the honorable member for Echuca himself may before long arrive at the conclusion that he is worth more than £400 per annum to the people. In that event he will find that, although he is put to as much inconvenience and incurs as much expense in attending here as some of the representatives of New South Wales, he has to suffer a loss of £200 per annum as compared with the representatives of that State, whilst in addition he is subjected to the humiliation of being estimated as worth only two-thirds the amount granted to them.
– It is his dawning modesty.
– I admit that modesty becomes him, and might become more than the honorable member for Echuca if it were exhibited. When I first entered the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales I was of opinion that it would be possible to discriminate equitably between members in so far as the remuneration received by them was concerned; but after some experience I abandoned the idea as being altogether impracticable. Some honorable members consider it their duty to frequently visit their electorates, and are subjected to a good deal of expense in travelling to and from them. If we attempted to lay down a rule that Members of Parliament should be paid according to the distance which they had to travel in order to attend here, we should discourage many honorable members from visiting their electorates, except when a general election was approaching. However reasonable it may seem at first sight, the attempt to discriminate between members is doomed to absolute^ failure.
– Imagine what a loss I suffer in visiting my electorate !
– This amendment would place all the representatives of Victoria on the same plane, and that it can be easily demonstrated would be inequitable. The travelling expenses which the PostmasterGeneral and the representatives of other Victorian metropolitan constituencies have to incur are trifling unless they desire in the interests of the public to visit other parts of the Commonwealth ; but even in the comparatively small State of Victoria there is a wide difference between the distances which the several representatives have to travel in order to attend here. Even if it does result in some honorable member procuring a slightly better return than others, the safest plan to adopt is to fix a general allowance, representing in the rough a reasonable payment, and to stand by that allowance without any attempt to discriminate between the representatives of one State and another.
.- Afterlistening to the debate, I am inclined to think that if the majority of the Committee refused to yield to the apparently unanimous desire of the representatives of Victoria that they should receive £200 per annum less than the amount granted to the representatives of the other States, trouble might arise later on. It might be said that it was due to the usual parochial feeling of honorable members from New South Wales that the representatives of this State were denied the privilege of becoming martyrs to the Federation, and of accepting £200 per annum less than the remaining members of the Legislature. To be serious, however, does any one really think that we ought to differentiate in the way proposed by the honorable member for Gippsland? The honorable member for Wannon has not to travel as far as I have in order to attend here, but the time occupied in journeying between his electorate and Melbourne is longer than that occupied in journeying by rail between Melbourne and Adelaide.
Then, again, the representatives of the metropolitan constituencies in all the States occupy a position very different from that of the representatives of country constituencies. They have no difficulty in reaching their electors, whereas the representatives of country constituencies, during an election campaign, have often to remain away from home for eight or ten weeks, and have to incur heavy travelling expenses. If those who support this amendment really desire that it shall be carried, I do not want to vote against it. The history of the Parliament shows that where the representatives of a State have taken up a fairly strong stand on any question affecting it, the representatives of the other States have always paid the greatest respect to their wishes. In view of that fact, it seems to me that since none of the representatives of Victoria have opposed this amendment, we ought to agree to it. It would be unfair to force the increased remuneration on them if thev do not want it.
– I am not in accord with the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland to differentiate between members representing Victoria and members representing other States of the Commonwealth. We are bound, however, to respect the views of honorable members, wherever they come from, and I take no exception to some representatives of Victoria and elsewhere thinking that they are not in so satisfactory a position to deal with this question as they would be if they had consulted their constituents. There is no necessity to attribute ulterior motives to any honorable member. This is a very delicate and difficult matter; and I can well understand that every one of us would much prefer not to have to vote on a question affecting ‘us personally without its having been first referred to the constituencies. But that does not prevent us from dealing with the question if we think it desirable to do so. The main point is - is the present allowance sufficient? We have already decided that question, first, by passing a resolution, and then by reading this Bill a second time. We have decided that in the opinion of a considerable majority of this House, the remuneration is not sufficient; in fact, we have decided that the allowance to honorable members shall be £600 a year. I have no sympathy with those who say they are in favour of an increased allowance, and yet declare that they will not draw it if it be passed. Such an attitude puts other honorable members in a position in which they have no right to be placed. Although I think I could manage to get along on the present allowance, if the additional allowance becomes the law of the land, I shall draw it. I do not desire, when voting for this Bill, to place myself on a different platform from those who may, perhaps, not be so favorably situated as myself ; I do not think much of that sort of attitude. The proposed remuneration is eather a just one or it is not; and if we think it is unjust, we ought to vote against _it.
– And not draw it after it has been carried.
– If an honorable member thought the remuneration unjust, he would not accept it at any time. Besides, it is not honorable members from the most distant States who are placed in the most unfavorable position. Those from distant States are, in one respect, in a more favorable position than those who live in Victoria, but at such a distance as to necessitate their keeping up two homes. A representative from a distant State has not necessarily to keep up a home there, and even if he has a home, he may be able to let it to advantage. The honorable members for Corangamite, Bendigo; Indi, Echuca, or Wimmera and Gippsland are really as unfavorably situated as those who represent constituencies in South Australia or New South Wales. The honorable member for Wimmera, for instance, unless he travels very early and very late, loses a good deal of time in getting to and from his home; and there is no reason why .Victorian members should be singled out for less advantageous treatment than members from other, States. I think it has been shown that the present allowance is not adequate; and, that being so, whatever allowance is granted I shall take it. I am not going to pose here as one who has more regard for the public finances than have other honorable members who are not so favored as myself ; and, while respecting the motive of the honorable member for Gippsland, I shall vote against his amendment. I hope that that honorable member, ‘ having done what lie considers his duty, will draw the increased remuneration if the Bill be passed ; I am sure he will do so, and not pose as occupying a different position from other honorable members who, perhaps, have greater necessities than himself.
– I am not one who favours any differentiation between members of this House. I recognise that amongst the Victorian members there are some who have the courage of their opinions on this question ; and if it were only to save those gentlemen from humiliation in consequence of any statute we may pass, I shall be found voting against the amendment. I have nothing to say of those gentlemen who oppose this measure because they are bound by pledges to their constituencies; indeed,” they are to be respected for keeping those pledges. But I think it is pretty “cheeky “ on the part of some honorable members who have their homes at or close to the Seat of Government, and who can attend to their business in the Law Courts and elsewhere from day to day when Parliament is sitting, to oppose a measure of this kind. Members from the adjoining States have to devote two days each week to travelling to and from Parliament, and are thus for that time debarred from any opportunity to attend to business either public or private. Honorable members residing in Melbourne may take a seat at a board of directors and earn five guineas for one hour’s sitting, or they may attend to any speculations in which they are engaged, and still find time for their parliamentary duties. It ill becomes honorable members so situated to oppose the granting of an equitable allowance to honorable members from other States. The honorable member for Bendigo, judging from the amendment he submitted, evidently assesses the value of his services at only £500.
– I do not think that ought to be said.
– Surely such a proposal is the best test of a man’s estimate of his own value?
– The honorable member is doing more harm than good to his cause by that line of argument.’
– I can only reply to the arguments which I have heard from honorable members opposite. When an honorable member- proposes that £500 shall be the amount, he cannot vote against an amendment such as that proposed bv the honorable member for Gippsland. The honorable member for Bendigo also proposed that those who do not attend from day to day shall be debited two guineas for each day’s absence. That again shows a lack of appreciation of equity i.i the mind of the honorable member.
Victorian members may walk from their homes or their places of business, pass the Serjeant-at-Arms, and having had their names recorded as present, devote all the rest of the day to their own affair’s. It is not uncommon for that to be done; and it is inequitable to suggest that if a member is to be paid the full allowance, he shall come, it may be, 1,000 miles in order to get his name recorded’. That was distinctly a Victorian proposal, which sought to penalize representatives of distant States, while enabling Victorian members to have their names recorded, although taking no active part in the business of the House. We are not all so fortunate as to be members of Royal Commissions, or to sit on such bodies during the whole term of Parliament. When honorable members accuse us, who support the Bill, of injustice, they are entitled to receive some reply. When an honorable member has occupied a position of the kind I have indicated, it is not only ill-becoming, but unjust, on his part to reflect on the value of the services of other honorable members.
.I have not taken an active part in the discussion either to-day or yesterday. Some days ago I paired with the honorable member for Maranoa, and I have loyally kept the arrangement entered into with him. Had that honorable member been here, he would have voted with the Government, and I, of course, against the measure. I cannot see my way clear to support the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland. I do not think we are called upon to discriminate between the representatives of the various States. In my opinion, it would be unjust for some honorable members, to receive £400 by way of annual allowance, and for others to receive £600. I hope that some friend of the honorable member will be able to induce him to withdraw his amendment.
– I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw his proposal, because the matter can be better dealt with under the conscience clause, which it is proposed to insert in the Bill. I am glad to know that all the Victorian representatives are not opposed to this measure. If the conscience clause be inserted the necessity for this amendment will be removed. If there be a single member of his Victorian colleagues who thinks that he ought to be paid the full allowance provided in the Bill surely the honorable member for Gippsland does not desire to exclude him from doing so, particularly as some Victorian representatives have to travel just as far, in point of time, as have the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia. Personally. I should be very sorry to differentiate between honorable members in any way. The whole spirit of the Constitution is op- posed to differentiation either between individuals or States or parts of States. That being so, we ought not to introduce such a pernicious principle into this Bill. If the honorable member will give the matter a little further consideration, I feel sure that he will consent to withdraw his amendment.
.- I am one of those who desire to save as much of the taxpayers’ money as possible, but when it comes to drawing a distinction between the representatives of one State and another I am opposed to it, because I regard that as a distinctly un-Federal act. We are. the representatives of the various States, and I claim that we ought to receive the same remuneration. If we are going to adopt a different scheme it should certainly be a scientific one, based upon the mileage that we travel, and not upon geographical boundaries. I quite recognise that some Victorian representatives are subjected to just as much inconvenience in attending this Parliament as are the representatives from other States. I am opposed to the amendment, because I am opposed to . all class legislation. If the proposal be carried, I suppose that, as honorable members will receive varying rates of remuneration, some will be labelled “ first class “” and other “ second class.” We ought not to draw invidious distinctions of the character suggested.
.- I intend, from feelings of loyalty, to vote with my friends of the Opposition corner. After learning the- nature of the amendment proposed, our first impulse was to walk out of the Chamber. I object to voting for a farce, and I so regard the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland.
– The honorable member should not give away the secrets of his party.
– I am not going to give anything away. I am delighted with the high Federal tone which has permeated this portion of the discussion, and I regret that the political knowledge of the honorable member for Gippsland is so limited as to permit him to submit an amendment of this character.
.- I also ask the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw his amendment. I have done what I could in opposition to the Bill, but I realize that the feeling of the Committee is against me, and, certainly, it would be an improper thing to differentiate between the representatives of the various States. Whatever may be said in favour of the adoption of a mileage scheme, nothing can be said in favour of this proposal.’ It is not based upon reason. It is not fair to ask the Victorian representatives to accept £400 a year whilst the representatives of other States are drawing £600. The Victorian representatives are more or less bound to support the amendment - especially those who have already opposed an increase of the allowance - and the Committee would be performing a proper actseeing that we have already decided to increase that allowance - if it relieved them from their awkward position.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
In relation to the allowances of senators and members of the House of Representatives holding their seats at the commencement of this Act, the provisions of this Act shall apply as from the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and seven.
– I move -
That the words “ from the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and seven,” be left out.
I do not think that we have a right to make this’ Bill retrospective to the extent of one moment. The Constitution is very explicit upon the point. It says distinctly that until the Parliament otherwise provides, £400 shall be the salary of honorable members. I take it that ‘Parliament will not have otherwise provided until this Bill has received the assent pf the Governor-General. Until then we have no right to take one penny of the increased allowance proposed.
– I think it is quite within our competency to pass this clause, and, I am further of opinion, that we are right in putting it in the form that we have. The honorable member’s objection to the clause is that it is not competent for us to make this legislation retrospective. As bearing upon that point, I desire to quote section 48 of the Constitution, which reads -
Until the. Parliament otherwise provides each senator and each member of the House of Repre sentatives shall receive an allowance of ^400 a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.
We have altered that condition of affairs. By an Act which was assented to on the 10th October, 1902, Parliament has provided otherwise. We have provided that the allowance shall be reckoned, not from the date provided for in the Constitution, but from the date of election. Even had we not passed that Act, we could, under our plenary powers, make retrospective any statute on a subject with which we are competent to deal.
– If we can go back two months, we can go back six years.
– I am satisfied that we can go back two months. Section 51 (xxxvi) provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Matters in respect of which this Constitution makes provision until the - Parliament otherwise provides.
There are more than twenty enactments in the Constitution - they are enumerated at page 647 of Quick and Garran - relating to matters in regard to which it was necessary to make anticipatory provision, in which the words “ until Parliament otherwise provides “ are used. These words mean exactly what they say, and are in no sense a restriction of our full plenary power.
– What is meant by them?
– Until the Parliament sees fit to exercise the full legislative power which it possesses in regard to the subject-matter referred to. There is no doubt as to our power to deal retrospectively with the matters enumerated in section 51 of the Constitution. This is borne out by the decision of the Privy Council in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited v. Irving, in which it was stated that -
The Parliament had undoubted power to imposS taxation under the express words of section 5r of the Constitution, and it is not now disputed that the Parliament could, if it thought fit, make the Act retro-active, and impose the duties from the date of the resolution.
It is recognised, too, that the Canadian Parliament, under the Constitution of the Dominion, has full plenary powers, including the power to pass legislation of a retrospective nature, if it thinks fit. I would, however, point out that if no other words be substituted for the words it is proposed to leave out, and the amendment is carried, it may be open to question whether the members of this Parliament will be entitled to benefit under it.
– My intention is to move the insertion of another date.
.- I wish to know why the date , provided for in the clause is the 1st July, 1907 ? If we are to pass retrospective legislation in regard to the payment of members, why should not the provisions of the Bill be made to apply to the members of the two preceding Parliaments? In my opinion, we should follow the ordinary procedure in this case, and provide that the Act .shall come into force on the date of its receiving the Royal assent.
– The 1st July, 1907, was fixed upon as the date on which the Act should come into operation because that is the date on which our financial year began.
.- I hope that the amendment will be agreed to. On the second reading I suggested that, in my judgment, it would be improper to allow the measure to be made retrospective. There is no doubt, after what the AttorneyGeneral has said, that we have power to make it so. But is it wise to create the impression in the minds of the people that we wish to dip our hands as deeply as we can into the public purse?
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That after the word “ as “ the following words be inserted - “ from the date of the assent to this Act.”
.- I would point out that clause 5 provides that the allowance to a member of the House of Representatives shall be reckoned from the day of his election. That provision would conflict with clause 6 if amended as proposed, which would then provide that in relation to the allowances of members of the House of Representatives, “ the provisions of this Act shall apply as from the date of the assent to this Act.” The word “provisions” in clause 6 does not refer to the amount, but to the provisions of the Bill, including clause 5.
– Clause 6 deals only with the case of members now holding seats. In clause 5 we are providing for the future.
– Clause 6 is limited in its application to members holding their seats at the commencement of the Acf.
– But clause 6 is governed by the provisions of clause 5. At any rate, it is a case in which the Government must take the responsibility.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “6a. Any Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may, within three months after the commencement of this Act, notify the Treasurer, in writing, that he desires the amount of his allowance under this Act, in excess of the allowance which would have been payable to him if this Act had not been passed, to be paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and thereafter during the term of office of such Senator or Member the Treasurer shall pay the amount so in excess to the Consolidated Revenue Fund accordingly, and such Senator or Member shall not be entitled to claim the amount so paid.”
The honorable member for Corangamite and others who have taken an active part in opposing this measure have, no doubt, received great credit for what they have done in the past two days; but in this matter they should, I think, be content to know that virtue is its own reward. At any rate, I do not wish to have it on my conscience that it may be on their conscience, that they must draw money which they think should not be paid to them. Having cut off six or eight weeks of the increased allowance from the salaries of honorable members generally, they’ might very well be asked to forego a little more on their own account. I know that some honorable members are opposed to this amendment, and I respect the attitude of those who, like the honorable member for Laanecoorie, say that, although they intimated, when on the hustings, that they would vote against an increased allowance, they recognise that they made a mistake, and that, if the Bill be passed, they will accept the increase. But I cannot understand why those who say they are opposed to the principle of the Bill should be called upon to take the increased allowance. Some honorable members have declared that this is an unjustifiable proposal to take money out of the pockets of the people. That being so, I should be sorry to force them to put any part of that money into their own pockets. It may be said that the object which I have in view can be accomplished without the passing of this amendment, but I think it would be well to insert this conscience clause. Ministers have renounced their claim to the increased allowance, and the Presiding Officers have also been exempted from the provisions of the
Bill. I am now prepared to draw up a list of honorable members who, like the honorable member for Echuca and the right honorable member for East Sydney, say that they will not take this increased grant. In passing, I should like to say that I fail to see why the right honorable member for East Sydney should refuse to accept the increased allowance, since he has spoken in favour of and voted for the Bill. Does any honorable member wish now to intimate his intention not to take the extra , £200 per annum ?
– There is absolute silence on the part of the Opposition corner.
– My appeal in their ears sounds like a funeral dirge. I have heard some honorable’ members declare that, although they will draw this increased allowance, they will distribute it among various charities in their electorates. Are we to differentiate between the merinos and cross-breds in the House? I object to any honorable member drawing an extra £200 a year with the sole object of distributing it in his electorate and using it as a lever to secure his return. It is” for that reason that I urge that those who are not prepared to accept the increased allowance should pay it into the Consolidated Revenue. I offer an opportunity to the honorable member for Gippsland, and other representatives of Victoria, who were so anxious, a few moments ago, to be exempted from the provisions of the Bill, to show their willingness to pay this additional sum of £200 per annum into the Consolidated Revenue. Let them avail themselves of this conscience clause. The honorable member for Parkes, when a member of the Legislature of New South Wales, was opposed to the payment of members, and permitted the allowance to which he was entitled to accumulate for some time; but ultimately, in the language of theboy in the street, “ he drew it out like a toff.” The leader of the Opposition in this House, who was also opposed to payment of members when the system was introduced in the New South Wales Legislature, permitted the allowance to which he was entitled to accumulate until it had reached a total of£540, when he paid it into the Consolidated Revenue.If I desired to make more friends in the House, I should not propose an amendment of this (kind, but I am not here to study merely my own personal inclinations,I do not wish an honorable member to take credit for having opposed this Bill and, later on, to have the satisfaction of paying the in creased allowance of£200 per annum into his credit at the bank at which he does business. I hope that my amendment will be accepted.
.- It may be that the consciences of some honorable members should be safeguarded, but I certainly do not think it necessary or desirable that such a provision as this should appear in an Act of Parliament. Speaking for myself, I feel that it is undesirable to take the course proposed by the honorable member for Dalley. The Bill is complete in so far as the purpose that we desire to achieve is concerned, and, therefore, however strong may be my faith in the bona fides of the honorable member for Dalley, I do not think it would conduce to the dignity of the House, or to the improvement of the Bill, to pass such a provision as this. It would serve no useful purpose, and I, therefore, intend to oppose it.
.- I am not strongly in favour of the amendment, but I think there is something to be said for it. It has been urged that those who are opposed to the increased allowance will pay it into the Consolidated Revenue, and that, therefore, there is no necessity for this amendment. At the outset, opponents of the Bill might be disposed to adopt that course, but after a time they probably would not be so alive to the necessity of doing so. Among the candidates for the representation of South Australia in the Federal Convention was a gentleman who promised the electors that if he were returned he would devote to charities the allowance of £3 3s. per day which the delegates were entitled to receive.
– Did charity begin at home in his case ?
– -It did, and almost stayed there. I believe that the gentleman in question was perfectly sincere in making that promise to the electors, but after the Convention he discovered that his expenses were almost equal to the amount which he had received as a delegate. Instead of handing over the whole amount, as he had led the electors to believe he would, he deducted his expenses, which mopped up nearly the total, and gave the balance to charities in his own electoral district, thus getting the reputation for philanthropy at the public expense.
– Those charities would require no Government grant that year !
– I do not think the contribution made any great difference to the funds of the charities. Nevertheless, it might be just as well to allow this clause to pass.
– The public will soon see whether men are genuine or not.
– No doubt the public will be observant enough to do that. At the same time there is some justification for such a clause, when we hear honorable members contending that this Bill is an immoral dipping into the public purse - a public robbery - in order to enrich ourselves.
– I was asked yesterday if I would support this amendment, and I said that I would. I do not for one moment suggest that any honorable member, who conscientiously disapproves of this extra allowance, and votes against the Bill, would accept the increase; but, still, it is just as well to have this provision in black and white. The instance cited by the honorable member for Dalley is somewhat similar to one in Victoria. A certain Victorian Minister said that, as he could not give all his time to the work of his office, he would not draw the Ministerial allowance, but when his term ended, it was noticed that he drew the accumulated money, which amounted to a considerable sum. If there had been a conscience clause in operation, similar to that now proposed, there could not have been such an occurrence. The clause simply provides that a member, by giving notice to the Treasurer, may continue to receive his allowance of £400 a year, and have the balance paid into the Consolidated Revenue.
– That can be done without any law.
– Certainly ; and I do not believe that any honorable member, who conscientiously objected to this Bill, would require a mandatory clause to make him forego the increased allowance. At the same time, a conscience clause may be of some use ; and I see no reason why it should not be carried. If the clause goes to a division, I shall certainly vote’ with the honorable member for Dalley, who has been very sincere, and has not been afraid to reprove those who’ have received money in a way that would have been impossible under such a clause as this. The instances cited by that honorable member and myself ‘are sufficient to justify this clause.
– I take it that we must look on all our colleagues as being honorable men ; and, therefore, it should not be necessary to have a clause of this kind. If an honorable member feels that he conscientiously ought not to receive the extra allowance, I am sure he will pay it into the Consolidated Revenue ; and if he has no conscience, he will be found out at the next election. There have been cases where honorable members have spoken and voted in Parliament, not in accordance with their own consciences and desires, but so as to secure support at the next election.
– I thought the honorable member said that his colleagues were all honorable men?
– I said that we ought to regard them as honorable men ; and I am not reflecting on my colleagues, as we should be doing if we accept this clause. If an honorable member thinks it is his right to receive a higher parliamentary allowance, no matter which State he may represent, he will be in precisely the same position as others of the same opinion at the next election. If he does not care to receive the increased amount, he will be able to say at the next election that, in his opinion, it should not be paid until the electors had been consulted, or until the new Parliament came into existence. I do not think the honorable member for Dalley will feel it necessary to press the clause to a division. We have ventilated our opinions on the matter ; and the discussion will no doubt have its due effect, without our passing the clause.
.- I have listened very carefully to the observations of honorable members; and I wish to place myself in a right position. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that we should look on all our colleagues as honorable men. I have been some years in public life, and the same standard of honour I regard myself I have always credited my colleagues with. My proposal was made, not for the purpose of testing whether members df this House are honorable or not, but as an answer to those who accuse supporters of the Bill of dipping their hands in the public purse. I thought it only right to see that those honorable members did not dip their hands in the public purse. The right honorable member for Swan is quite right in saying that the desired result may be brought about without a provision in this Bill. I point out, however, that the clause is not mandatory, but declaratory; and I did not desire that it should be mandatory. If an honorable member is devoid of conscience, no Bill can supply him with one; but I believe that all the members of this House are conscientious. I desired to rivet public attention on the matter, and to show that if the honorable members I have referred to felt any difficulty, there was a way out of their allowing the money to accumulate for their assignees or executors. I have been told that this clause, if passed, will destroy the symmetrical character of the Bill ; but I am not squeamish on that point.
– Does the honorable member think that those honorable members who are pledged against an increase, would themselves take it?
– I would not like to answer that question ; but if honorable members say that they would not take the increased amount, I suppose they would not. I know honorable members in this House pretty well ; and there are many who regard the object of the clause as right, but who object to stamping their colleagues as of a different character from themselves. If an honorable member stood on a platform and said that he was against an increased remuneration, I do not think that he himself would take it. But if Parliament passes such a Bill, such an honorable member would have done his duty by opposing it. The honorable member for Laanecoorie took the most courageous stand of any last night, when he informed us that, although he had told his electors he was against an increase, he would, if opportunity offered, say he was in favour of it, and accept the money. I can see that the Committee do not care to vote on this clause, which, as I say, was introduced in order to prevent honorable members who have described the Bill as a robbery of the public being afterwards able to accept the increased remuneration. Under the circumstances, however, I think we may trust to the honour and conscience of such members to pay the money into the Consolidated Revenue.
– I am sorry to learn, from statements which have been made, that some honorable members who opposed the Bill, have used the expression attributed to them, namely, that the supporters of the Bill are dipping their hands into the public purse. Personally I should be very sorry, indeed, to think that such an expression had been used by any honorable member in connexion with a measure of this character.
– The honorable member for Echuca used the expression.
– The honorable member for Fremantle said that the Bill was a dishonest voting of money.
– In the heat of debate some very foolish expressions may be used, but I heard nothing of ‘the kind. One argument, however, which has been used on this side, and referred to by honor able members opposite, requires an answer. If this clause has been brought forward with a view to preventing honorable members, whose consciences may smite them - and I think that we are all deeply grateful to the honorable member for Dalley for the tender solicitude which he exhibits for the consciences of others - from accepting the same remuneration as other honorable members receive, it is perfectly useless and unnecessary. But if it be intended to convey something in the nature of a direction to those who have voted against the Bill to adopt a particular course of action in regard to the increased allowance, I absolutely and entirely repudiate such a direction.” It is quite a wrong argument to use. The mere fact of endeavouring to impose a personal and pecuniary obligation in connexion with a vote to be given by any honorable member is contrary to every tradition of Parliament, and contrary to the principle under which parliamentary proceedings are conducted. Let us suppose that the question whether the allowance to honorable members should be fixed at £400 or at £600 was before us for the first time, and’ that there was ah honest difference of opinion upon it. Let us assume that some honorable members honestly thought that £400 would be sufficient, whereas a majority were of opinion that nothing less than £600 would be sufficient. Does any honorable member suggest for a moment that those who voted for the lower amount would be obliged to refuse to acceptthe higher rate, of payment? Such a suggestion would be a monstrous absurdity. We cannot carry on parliamentary proceedings if we are to be subjected to personal influences of that kind. ‘
– That has not been “suggested.
– The clause amounts to a permission to do something which we are at liberty to do without it, or a direction to do something to’ keep what the honorable member for Dalley chooses to call our consciences in the right place.
– It conveys an imputation.
– When the honorable member for Dalley was speaking, the honorable member for South Sydney made an interjection which was based upon the assumption that those honorable’ members who were pledged against the proposal would, as honorable men, not avail themselves of the additional allowance if its payment were authorized. Surely such “ an interjection shows an absolutely false conception of the real position occupied by members who come here to debate a matter, and to vote upon it !
– Two honorable members have already declared that they will not take the increased allowance.
– I entirely disagree with their action. It is a totally wrong position for any honorable member to take up. I am in agreement with the honorable member for Swan, who said that we are here to debate what is best for the Parliament and the people. We have our own views upon this matter. I have expressed my opinion that this step ought not to be taken until the country has been consulted. That does not affect my personal action or conscience in the slightest degree. The attempt of the honorable member for Dalley to bring personal and direct influence to bear upon honorable members by means of this amendment is absolutely wrong, and is opposed to all principle. We ought to be at perfect liberty to bring any argument to bear, either for or against any proposal. Personally, I am entirely in accord with the right honorable member for Swan, who said boldly and honestly that we all occupy different positions personally with regard to such a delicate matter as the remuneration we receive. To some, that remuneration is a smaller matter than it is to others. Surely it is unjust and improper to introduce the personal relations of honorable members of the House into a discussion of this sort. For my own part, if the Bill be passed, I shall not have the slightest hesitation in falling in with the law as established by a majority of honorable members. I shall accept the increased allowance without the slightest twinge of conscience, but I say - as I have said from the beginning - that if there were any hope of this measure not passing, I should earnestly hope that it would not be passed. I sincerely trust that the Acting Prime Minister will not exhibit to the country the spectacle of rushing a measure of this kind through the House. For the honour of this Parliament, and for the sake of its credit throughout the whole of Australia, I sincerely hope that he will allow considerable time for deliberation so that the people may be afforded an opportunity - if they have an opinion upon this matter - to give expression to it before the Bill leaves us.
– Oh, no.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister afraid of public opinion ? Are we afraid of it?
– The honorable member is playing to the gallery.
– That is an argument that may sometimes be used by members upon this side of the Chamber with quite as much justice as honorable members opposite can use it against us. But it does not answer the position I am endeavouring to put.
– The honorable member knows that the public cannot bringany pressure to bear even if weeks are allowed to intervene. Their only opportunity is provided by the general elections.
– The honorable member says that the elections are the only opportunity which the public have of bringing pressure to bear. I entertain a contrary opinion. I thought that even after we had been elected we were not entirely released from the obligation to consider what public opinion desires.
– But how are we to gauge it? By a few letters in newspapers?
– There are a hundred channels through which the opinion of the electors upon certain questions may be fairly gauged, even between elections. The position of a majority in this House will be stronger if the Government do not press this Bill through with undue haste - if they show that they are not afraid to allow the people an opportunity to express any opinions which they have upon it. What shall we lose by’ the adoption of that course?
– What shall we gain ?
– We shall gain strength by so acting, and we shall be credited with having the courage of our convictions. We shall gain by the deliberation which, I submit, ought to obtain when we are passing a measure of this sort, particularly since it represents one of those changes which ought to have been put before the country by a responsible Government before it was introduced here. Throughout the entire debate I have protested against the Bill being brought forward in this particular way, and I have no doubt that my present protest will prove as ineffectual as the others have been. Nevertheless, I deem it my duty to make it.
.- Some of my friends urge me to allow the clause to be put. No doubt they consider that the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Flinders have been so effectively replied to upon, former occasions that there is no necessity to comment upon them at this stage. But it seams to me that the honorable member has deliberately endeavoured to misrepresent the intention of the clause under consideration.
– Order ! The honorable member must not make use of that language.
– Then I will say that the honorable member for Flinders has misrepresented the intention conveyed by the words of the clause. He has stated that there are honorable members of this Committee who are pledged to oppose any increase in the allowance to honorable members.
– I did not say that. I said that the honorable member for South Sydney had stated that if members came here pledged to their constituents to oppose the granting of an increased allowance, they were, in honour bound, if we sanctioned that allowance, not to take advantage of it.
– t-I did not say that. I merely asked a question j but the honorable member’s inference is pretty right.
– I think that every honorable member is prepared to say “ hear, hear,” to that sentiment. If an honorable member is pledged to his ‘ constituents to oppose the granting of an increased allowance he is, in honour bound, to respect his pledge. If the honorable member for Flinders lias not used exaggerated language, some honorable members have stated that this Bill constitutes a deliberate attempt on the part of members to put their hands into the pockets of the people and to filch money from them.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member lor Fremantle. If Hansard be not altered it will be seen that my statement is correct.
– I did not say that they were filching money from the pockets of the people.
– Did not the honorable gentleman say that it was dishonorable-
– And that it was robbery?
– At any rate we shall see what was said when Hansard is published. If our action in this connexion is dishonorable, where is the objection to inserting a clause in the Bill providing that those who deem our action dishonorable shall not be obliged to share in our dishonour. That is all that the amendment can possibly achieve.
– It is a quiet suggestion that those who opposed the Bill should disregard the law.
– It is nothing of the kind. The clause merely provides that certain persons who entertain conscientious scruples to increasing the allowance to honorable members shall have a means by which they need not accept the money which they consider has been improperly taken from the public. If an honorable member says that our action is dishonorable, and that it constitutes robbery, he will prove himself a dishonorable man by participating in the increased payment. We merely wish to conserve the rights of the minority. We are specially desirous of ministering to the necessities of those who have conscientious objections to accepting money of which the people have been allegedly robbed. I have seen sufficient of the plausible attitude adopted by some honorable members to convince me that in the absence of some such provision as that under consideration, they will say that the increased allowance came along in their monthly cheques, and they were thus obliged either to refuse acceptance of it or to take the lot.
– The honorable member can upbraid them afterwards.
– To my mind, an honorable member who considers it dishonorable to increase our allowance, and afterwards accepts the increased allowance, occupies a much more unsatisfactory position than does the honorable member who voted for the change. I am sorry to say that there are honorable members opposing the Bill who are more anxious that it should pass than those who have supported it.
– Who is imputing dishonorable motives now?
– Perhaps I am, but I have the strongest warrant for my statement. “Believing that injustice will be inflicted upon certain honorable members if the Bill be passed in its present form, believing that they will be obliged to repudiate their cheque at the end of the month-
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member does not believe that.
– If the clause be not inserted the increased allowance will come to honorable members in the form of their usual cheque.-
– Well, let it come.
– The sooner the better. But, as I do not think it fair that the majority should coerce the minority in this matter, I am in favour of providing legislative means of escape for those who think that the proposed increase should not be made.
.- When I read the proposed amendment, it did not seem to me worth discussing, but, having heard the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in regard to. it, I should like its intention to be made clear. In itself, it is superfluous, since it gives honorable members no power which they would not have without it, because, in any case, they could repay the whole or any part of their allowance into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– It will give an opportunity to those who have been posing to live up to their protestations.
– The amendment was cir- culated before the motion for the second reading of the Bill was carried-, and what is now declared to be its intention must have been its intention then, namely, that those who oppose the Bill shall not reap any pecuniary advantage from it. Therefore, the public will regard it as an inducement or threat which was held out to cause honorable members to vote for the measure.
– I did not say that that is its intention. I said “ those who have been posing,” not “opposing.”
– Then I withdraw my remarks. My opposition to the Bill has been on perfectly fair lines. I believe that the proposal is based on higher considerations than the mere financial convenience of hon orable members. I said that when it was first brought forward. I admit, too, that a number of honorable members, having consulted their constituents in regard to the matter, have now a perfect right to endeavour to obtain an expression . of their views by an Act of Parliament. But those who differ from them are undeniably at liberty to place any reading they choose on that section. of the Constitution which empowers Parliament to take action of this kind. I hope, therefore, that this jest - because the amendment cannot be regarded in any other light - has not been put forward with the idea of penalizing any honorable member who has opposed the measure. If that complexion is given to it, honorable members who support the amendment will place upon themselves a stigma which they do not deserve, and which I hope they will not have to bear, of having, been led to vote for the Bill because of the fear of what this amendment might do to them if they did not.
– I regret that the amendment has been moved. It will be generally admitted that the discussion of this measure has been conducted on a very high plane, each speaker respecting the conscientious opinions of those opposed to him. But is it to be imagined that this so-called conscience clause will prevent men from acting dishonorably if they are disposed to do so. In my opinion, it has the appearance of an attempt to coerce members into doing what they ought not to do. I have opposed the measure, and will do so until the end; but if it becomes law, I shall draw the increased salary with a clear conscience. I have not had to contest the last two elections, and the question of increasing the parliamentary allowance has never been raised by me. But had I pledged myself on the hustings to oppose any increase, I should still be within my rights in accepting it, if, after I had fought against the Bill, Parliament had made it law.
– When the measure is passed, every honorable member will be bound to respect it.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to - .
That the following new clause be inserted : - “6a. The allowances provided for by this Act shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly.”
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows : -
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “Australia” the words “ for the purpose of appropriating the grant originated in the House of Representatives” be inserted.
. a personal explanation, I wish to say that, when I was speaking a few minutes ago, I was under the impression that the honorable member for Fremantle had applied the term “ robbery “ to a certain line of action ; but the proof of the Hansard report of his speech does not contain that word, although it shows that he made certain suggestions regarding dishonesty. He himself assures me that he did not use the word “robbery,” and, under the circumstances, I have no hesitation in accepting his denial.
Preamble, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Immig ration Restriction - Escaped Aliens - Return to an Order of the House, dated 8th August, 1907.
Pacific Islands - Return showing the trade between the Pacific Islands and the Commonwealth during the years 1905-6 and 1906-7.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment) :
Clause 2 -
The Minister may cause a survey to be made of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
Senate’s Amendment - At commencement of clause insert - “ Upon the formal consent of the South Australian Parliament to the survey being received.”
– The effect of the Senate’s amendment is- that the Minister may cause a survey to be made as soon as he has obtained the formal- consent of the Parliament of South Australia to the adoption of that course. I think that we have every reason to believe that that assent will not be withheld. Representatives of South Australia made very strong representations on the eve of Federation to the Western Australian people in favour of the construction of this line, and since this Bill provides only for the survey of the proposed route, I do not think any difficulty is likely to be experienced in giving effect to our intention. I therefore move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
.- I am sorry that the Government have decided to ask the Committeeto agree to this amendment, since I am satisfied that it will mean the shelving of the Bill.
– The right honorable member ought to know why it will have that effect.
– I do not.
– I am afraid that our efforts will be of no avail if we have first to obtain the assent of both Houses of the State Parliament to the making of the survey. The State Government from time to time has unhesitatingly declared itself in favour of the survey, but, unfortunately, the Legislative Council is dominated by shipping interests, . and will not consent to this work being carried out.
– Then why does not Mr. Price deal with it? He has been Premier of South Australia for two years.
– I venture to say that when the question comes before the Legislative “Council of South Australia it will be urged that if their assent be granted to the making of this survey, the Western Australian line will be constructed before the proposed Northern Territory line is laid down. It is well known’ that this amendment was inserted in the clause by another place with the sole object of destroying the Bill, and I am surprised that the right honorable member for Swan, judging by an interjection which he made just now is, like the Government, prepared to agree to it. I enter my protest against its acceptance, and venture to say that if it be agreed to we shall hear no more of the proposed survey for some time. The Government of. South Australia has given the; Commonwealth permission to proceed with” it, and I think that it is wrong to force them to secure the assent of the Legislative Council. The shipping interests of Port Adelaide are represented in that branch of the Legislature, and if honorable members wish to shelve this Bill, they need do no more than agree to the amendment made by another place. I urge that we should resist the amendment, and thus force the Senate to openly declare itself instead of attempting by a side wind to destroy the Bill.
– I am wholly in accord with the course taken by the Government in inviting the Committee to agree to the amendment made by another place. I do not agree with the honorable member for Grey that the Legislative Council of South Australia will be prepared to disregard the desire of this Parliament that this survey shall be carried out. Nearly seven years have elapsed since this question was first submitted to the House. During the whole of that time the project has been supported not only by the people of Western Australia, but by every one of their representatives in both Houses of the Federal Parliament. When we remember that this Bill provides, not for the construction of the line, but merely for a survey to determine the character and the capabilities of the country through which the railway would pass, and generally to obtain such information as is necessary to enable the Parliament to decide whether or not the construction of the line would be justified, it seems amazing that so much time should have been occupied in obtaining so little. No fairminded man can deny that one of the great inducements held out to the people of Western Australia by the public men of Australia was the promise that railway communication between the east and the west would be the result of Federation, and that that largely influenced them in voting for the Constitution Bill. I have already related times out of number in this House the efforts that were made prior to Federation by the public men of Eastern Australia to entice or induce the people of the west to join in the great Federal movement. Only a few days ago I quoted a speech made by the present Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, before the referendum was taken in Western Australia in 1900, in which he said “ Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation, and that personally he advocated its construction at the earliest possible moment.” I have also quoted in this: House the opinions of and the promises given by the right honorable member for Adelaide, Mr. Kingston ; Senator Sir Josiah Symon; the honorable member for Wakefield, Sir Frederick Holder; Sir Edmund Barton ; the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Reid ; the honorable member for- Angas, Mr. Glynn ; and many other public men, all of whom led the people of the western State to hope and believe that on the establishment of Federation they would be no longer isolated from their fellow Australians in the east. I was intimately associated with the movement, and know that that argument was used again and again throughout Western Australia, and had an immense influence in determining the vote in favour of Federation. Notwithstanding those assurances, however, I, and every other representative of Western Australia, have had to battle hard for seven years to obtain the approval of the Parliament to the survey of the line. This Bill has been rejected on some occasions, and talked out on others, so that it is not surprising that the people of Western Australia should feel that the citizens of the eastern States are not in sympathy with them, or their desire that in the interests of. Federation itself there should be some means of communication by land between the east and the west. I am sure that every honorable member will join with me in the hope that the passing of this Bill will be the beginning of a brighter view being taken by my fellow -colonists as to the sentiments cherished toward them by the people of Eastern Australia. This Bill has now been carried in this House by a majority of two to one, and in the Senate by twenty votes to sixteen. That is eminently satisfactory. There has never been any difficulty in securing the approval of the House of Representatives ; our difficulty has been in passing the Bill in another place. We have been taught to believe that the people of Victoria are out of sympathy with the aspirations of the western State in regard to this railway connecting the east and west, but I rejoice in the knowledge that fifteen out of twentytwo representatives of that State in this House have supported the Bill, and that in the Senate the Victorian senators carried the Bill by four votes to two. That is eminently satisfactory as showing that the arguments against the Bill have little or no foundation, and that the people of
Victoria, as well as the people of all the other States, are in sympathy with the desire for closer union between the eastern and the western States. Wherever I have been throughout Australia - and I have been in most parts - I have always found the utmost good feeling amongst the people of the other States for the people of Western Australia; indeed, there is a great desire among the Australian . people generally to be on terms of the closest fellowship and amity. I am glad to know that the feeling in regard to Federation in Western Australia will be much improved by the passage of this measure. I regret very much to learn from the honorable member for Grey that the amendment with which we are called upon to deal has been inserted by the Senate in the hope that it may delay, or even prevent, this survey being carried out.
– To kill the Bill is the object.
– I do not believe for one moment that there is any chance of the object of this Bill being defeated by the Parliament of South Australia. I have too much regard for the people of that State, whom I have known for more than thirty years, to believe that their representatives would treat with contempt the wishes of this Parliament or the people of Western Australia. Notwithstanding that there are local difficulties and differences between the two Houses in South Australia, I do not believe that the Parliament of that State would be so unreasonable as to endeavour to defeat .this measure. The object which this Bill seeks to attain was desired by the Government of South Australia; and that the Bill is before us is largely due to the request of the Premier of that State that more information should be supplied. I have no fear of this Bill being opposed by the Parliament of South Australia; but in any case it would be better that South Australia should refuse its consent to a survey being made now than that afterwards - should the report and information obtained be favorable - when all the trouble and expense had been incurred, they should refuse to assent to the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth Government. I am sure every honorable member will acquit me of any desire to spend £20,000 except in a good cause. Unless I believed that the result of the survey and inquiry will fully justify the views I have so often stated in the
House, I would not advocate the spending of a single sixpence. If the South Australian Government were to refuse their consent to a survey, what chance would there be of their consenting to the construction of the line by the Federal authority? I have travelled over a good deal of the country through which this railway will pass, and I know exactly the position of affairs ; indeed, I know as well now the character of the country, and the obstacles to be overcome, as I shall know when the survey has been made, but other honorable members are not in the same position. South Australia desired a survey, and the Commonwealth Parliament has authorized the survey. The Government of South Australia have already approved ; and I have every reason to believe that the South Australian Parliament will willingly pass a Bill confirming the action of its Government to allow of a survey being made. I take the view of my right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, that there is every reason why the South Australian Government and Parliament should consent. A survey cannot do any harm ; and surely a prospect of 650 miles of railway being built through the territory of South Australia, by the Federal Parliament, must possess some attraction for that State.
– How did Senator Sir Josiah Symon vote on this amendment?
– I am not referring to Senator Sir Josiah Symon just now ; and, in fact, I take no? exception whatever to this proviso having been inserted.
– Senator Sir Josiah Symon is “ having a loan “ of the right honorable member.
– Surely the possibility of the construction of 650 miles of railway, with the prospect of easy access to the western State and the markets of the great Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie gold-fields, cannot be unattractive to the South Australian people. If the Federal Parliament are willing to carry out this great national work, it cannot enter the mind of any one that South Australia would do anything to prevent it providing means of communication with the western State. South Australia is in advance of Western Australia in manufactures and production ; and a railway to Western Australia would open up markets which are now almost closed to that State. The idea is so impossible and irrational that it never occurred to the Federal Convention that a State would object to a great Inter-State railway connecting its railway system with that of another State. As a matter of fact, in 1897, before Federation, the South Australian Government were in favour of the line, and asked the Western Australian Government to join in constructing it out of their joint resources, and, in order to induce Western Australia to enter Federation, the public men of South Australia were pledged to the hilt to assist in furthering the project in every way. How could it be imagined by the Federal Convention that any objection would be raised to the Federal Parliament constructing the line? As a representative of Western Australia, I rejoice that the Parliament of South Australia will have an opportunity, not hitherto presented, of fulfilling a promise which it made through its then Premier, Sir Frederick Holder, before Federation, as an inducement to the western State to enter the Union. On the 1st Febraury,- 1900, as Premier of Western Australia, I received a letter from the Premier of South Australia, written after there had been a consultation between us with the object of removing a difficulty in the Constitution Bill, which provided that railways might be constructed in a State, by the Federal authority, with the consent of the State. The letter, which I have read before in this House, was as follows -
Adelaide, 1st February, 1900.
Sir, -Followingour conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessaryby section 34 of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a- most improbable thing ; in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will’ undertake, as soon as the Federation is established, Western and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament. - I have, &c,
Both South Australia and Western Australia, became States of the Commonwealth. A Bill has been passed by the Western Australian Parliament, as promised, but South Australia has not yet fulfilled its promise. This letter was accepted in good ‘ faith by me on behalf of the people of Western Australia, and they entered Federation. Honorable members will notice that the promise in that letter is not a promise to consent to a survey, but to consent to the construction of the railway. I believe myself that that promise, made in all good faith by one neighbouring friendly State to another before Federation with the express object of removing an obstacle in the way of Western Australia entering the Union, and upon the strength of which Western Australia entered the Union, will be carried out. I do not believe that when this subject comes before the South Australian Parliament it will hesitate for one moment in redeeming the pledge given in open day by its Premier, and by its leading public men. I am glad that at last the subject is to be brought before the South Australian Parliament, and I have the utmost reliance that the undertaking and promises made will be fulfilled. The only objection that I have to thisproviso is that it may be taken as an indication that the Commonwealth considers that InterState railways for Federal purposes such as this are beyond the powers of the Federal ParliamentundertheConstitution.Now, I very much question whether the construction of an Inter-State railway for Federal purposes by the Federal authority - having in view -the necessities of defence and InterState commerce - is beyond our powers. It must be remembered that the Commonwealth has undertaken to protect every State from invasion and domestic violence. I very much question whether paragraph xxxiv. of section 51, which provides that the Commonwealth may make laws with regard to “ railway construction and extension in any State, with the consent of that State,” means that the Commonwealth cannot’ make an Inter-State railway to facilitate trade and commerce, and for purposes of defence, without the consent of a State. My attention has been drawn to the fact that as the provision originally stood it contained the words “but only.” It originally read -
Railway construction and extension in a State, but only with the consent of that State.
In the Convention the words “ but only “ were struck out, and the provision now stands -
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
– Does the right honorable member mean that in his opinion railways can be constructed by the Commonwealth if necessary, without the consent of a State?
– I believe that in the Senate it was contended that this Parliament would be powerless to order the survey to be made without the consent of South Australia. I demur to that contention. How can the Commonwealth carry out its obligation to protect Austrafia against invasion or domestic violence if it is to be thwarted by any State? How can the Commonwealth carry out its undertaking to protect Western Australia if it has no means of sending troops there? How can trade and commerce be carried on by land between States without means of communication?
– In the event of a State resisting the Commonwealth in that respect, what could be done by the Federal Government ?
– I am not dealing with that point just now. I should be very sorry to think that this Federal Constitution of ours was so cramped as not to permit the Commonwealth to carry out its functions. I should be sorry to believe that the framers of the Constitution, by inserting the words “ with the consent of that State,” intended them to apply to great national Inter-State railways required for defence and for trade and commerce. There is a passage in Professor Harrison Moore’s book on the Australian Commonwealth Constitution that is very much to the point. He says in regard to this very provision in the Constitution, section 51, paragraph xxxiv., ‘ Railway construction in any State with the consent of (that State”-‘
In the United States it has been contended, and is apparently now established, that the commerce power of Congress includes as an incident the authorization and execution of all manner of works for facilitating Inter-State -and foreign commerce, including the construction of roads, railroads, bridges, and canals. “This is very much more than the general power of appropriating money for the general welfare where the objects of expenditure remain under :State laws; it is a federal power in which the federal law prevails, notwithstanding the obstacles of State law. The express power contained in Article xxxiv.- may perhaps be taken as indicating that the commerce power in the Commonwealth Parliament does not extend to -the construction of railways in a State without the consent of that State; but this is not the -only view that may be taken of it. Article xxxiv. is .clearly not limited to railways, which are incidental to Inter-State commerce. It might be held that the Parliament has as a matter of commerce (section 51 (1) and section 98) among the States power to make railways which are obviously in furtherance of that commerce; and that Article xxxiv. merely authorizes the exercise of legislative power with the consent of the State in regard to the construction of railways which have no direct relation to Inter-State commerce.
That is a very important statement, which bears out my contention that the power vested in the Commonwealth in regard to trade and commerce and defence overrides paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 relating to railway construction in any State “ with the consent of that State.” . Honorable members will recollect the case of the United Slates v. Debs, which occurred a few years ago, in which the United States obtained an injunction restraining a strike and sent troops to enforce the injunction, so that the United States mails should be carried. Again, under paragraph XXXIX. of section 51 this Parliament has” power to legislate in regard to any “ matter incidental to the execution of any power vested bv the Constitution in this Parliament.” Surely trade, commerce, and defence matters are incidental to the exercise of the legislative power of the Commonwealth. I submit that paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution relates to the internal railways of a State for purely local and domestic purposes, and not to national railways for the purposes of trade, commerce, and defence, ft is hard to believe that any State would wish to thwart the Commonwealth in its desire to construct national railways. Had the framers of the Constitution ever imagined that this power could be used to prevent Western Australia and South Australia from being connected by an Inter-State railway for national purposes, I could have had the matter put right in one minute, and by a stroke of the pen. Not one of the fifty delegates at the Federal Convention would have done other than approve of so reasonable and justifiable a proposal. Consequently the idea’ never occurred to us. We all thought that the internal railways of a State were domestic matters which should be left to the’ control of the State authorities. We never contemplated that the provision to which I have referred would be used to prevent the construction of an Inter-State railway for the purposes of trade, commerce, and defence. Had such an idea presented itself to us, the matter would have been made clear with the unanimous consent of the delegates. Of course, there is another way out of the difficulty. To secure an amendment of the Constitution should not be a difficult matter if anything unfair were attempted by any State. To effect such an amendment does not require the consent of a State, but only the consent of a majority of the people in a majority of the States. Consequently, if any State wished to do an unjust thing to the people of another. State, it is possible by an amendment of the Constitution to prevent it. I do not think for one moment that “South Australia will attempt to prevent this survey being made. While the Parliament of that State is authorizing it, 1 appeal to its members to do justice to Western Australia by completing the promise which was made as an inducement to her to enter the Federation. If that be done, a great feeling of relief will be experienced in Western Australia, the tension which has existed there for years will be removed, and there will be no more united people than those of Western Australia and South Australia.
– The right honorable gentleman is only making the position more difficult.
– A bold course is always the best one. If a difficulty exists, let us face it.
– The right honorable member is trailing his coat for a fight.
– I am ‘ not going to fight, because the South Australian people are too honorable to do what is wrong. If I speak strongly, it is because I feel strongly. I have good cause to feel strongly, because of the part which I took in inducing the people of Western Australia to join the Federation. I ought to feel strongly if I am a man.
– The right honorable member has nothing to complain of so far as the South Australian representatives in this House are concerned.
– South Australia will, I believe, do her duty, as her representatives in this House and in the Senate have done it. They have been unanimous in their support of this Bill, and I desire to thank them for their action, if I may be permitted to do so. I can speak, I am sure, on behalf of every representative of Western Australia. I thank the representatives of South Australia in both Houses of this Parliament for the great help - the consistent help - which they have given us in bringing this Bill to the position which it occupies to-day. I also> desire’ to thank the supporters of the Billwho are members of the Labour Party. They know that I am not politically in accord with them, but that fact does not prevent me from gratefully acknowledging’ their assistance in both Houses of this Parliament. I wish also to place on record’ that in this matter the members representing Western Australia have worked most harmoniously and zealously together, every member being as zealous and eager to helpthe project forward as I have been. I cannot believe that the South Australian Parliament could possibly do anything to defeat the purposes of this Bill. I belie,ethat they will at once pass the necessary Act. I shall do my best to call their attention to “the fact that, we not only wish’ the survey to be made, but that we look forward to the railway being constructed, and’ their authority for its construction through their territory at the same time. In so far as the amendment affords the South Australian Parliament an opportunity to re, move .for ever the bitterness created by thenonfulfilment of the undertaking given by Sir Frederick Holder in his letter to meof i st February, 1900, before the Referendum was taken in Western Australia, I’ welcome it, and I feel sure that its adoption* will not delay the speedy commencement of the survey. I thank honorable members^ generally for the assistance they have givento the representatives of Western Australia in advancing the Bill to its present position-,, and I hope that the amendment which has: been inserted in the measure by those who were opposed to it in another place will be agreed to by us, and that its insertion-, in the Biil will prove to be an advantage rather than an obstacle to the completion of this great national work, of which the proposed survey is but the forerunner.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) [10.50L - The right honorable member for Swan must be aware that this amendment was inserted in another place with the object of killing the Bill, and that, if accepted here, it isgoing to be successful. I wish to point out to the right honorable gentleman the injustice he is doing to the Government of South Australia and the public men of that State to whom he has referred.
– I did not say anything unjust to them.
– The right honorable gentleman must know that the amendment would not have been inserted if it had net been known that its effect would be to defeat the object of the measure. I am as anxious as the right honorable gentleman that the Bill should be passed, and the survey carried out, in spite of the fact that I -am supposed to represent a certain shipping interest, but I intend, so far as I can, to see that justice is done to Sir Frederick Holder, who was Premier of South Australia at the time referred to by the right honorable member for Swan, and also to -see that justice is done to the other public men of South Australia who have been associated with this matter. The right honorable member for Swan has told us that the public men of South Australia made certain promises, and I say that no pledge given bv a single public man in South Australia, has not been honorably carried out.
– That is utter nonsense.
– So far as it was ^possible for it to be carried out.
– That is something different.
– The public men of South Australia to whom I refer could do no more than they have done. The right honorable member for Swan says that he is -quite satisfied that the Legislative Council of South Australia will do justice in this matter. I can say that, in common with the House of Assembly and the Government of South Australia, I am just as satisfied that the Legislative Council of that: State will do nothing of the kind.
– Then let them take the responsibility of rejecting the survey.
– That is just what the right honorable member for Swan desires. He must know that the Government of South Australia- would raise no objection whatever to the survey being proceeded with, but ‘he must know equally well that if the Price Government brings in a Bill to give consent to the survey, and must pass that Bill through both Houses of the State “Legislature, there will be no survey at all. Without this amendment there, is nothing to prevent the survey going on at the present time. I tell the right honorable member that, but he wishes to be able to say at a later date, when we are discussing the agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth-
– It has nothing to do with this.
– It has everything to do with “it.
– It has not, so far ras Western Australia is concerned.
– It has, so far as South Australia is concerned. The two questions are interwoven in the agreement made between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia, subject to the ratification of this Parliament. I wish to say that the Legislative Council of South Australia will be far more concerned in the construction of a railway connecting the Northern Territory with that State. I think that there is good reason why, from the point of view of the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, they should be more concerned about the building of that railway. We have already a population in Western Australia, and satisfactory weekly communication with that State, but we have practically no communication with the Northern Territory- and no population there.
– If the honorable member sets up one against the other, he will kill this proposal.
– I am not doing so.
– Does the honorable member seriously contend that the Northern Territory line should be constructed before the Western Australian line?
– I am not saying that it should. But there is no doubt that the Legislative Council of South Australia will say so, and of what use is it, therefore, to appeal to that body in this matter? I tell the right honorable member for Swan that all that need be done is to reject the amendment, and the Government of South Australia will offer no opposition to the survey. But if this amendment is carried, what will be the result? The right honorable gentleman will go throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, and lay the blame for the rejection of this proposal, not upon the. Legislative Council of South Australia, but upon the Parliament and people of that State.
– The honorable member does not know what I shall say.
– I know that if I can prevent it, South Australia shall not be placed in any such position. Every public man of South Australia who made any pledge in connexion with this question to the right honorable member for Swan, has stood by that pledge with pen and voice. On every platform, and in Parliament, thev have helped forward the proposal for the construction of this railway.
– I should like the honorable member to say when they spoke from any platform or in Parliament in favour of it since the promise was made.
– They have done so time and again in South Australia. I am not able to give the date of a particular public meeting, but I can appeal to the honorable member for Grey to bear me out in my statement. I have seen newspaper reports of the speeches of public men of South Australia in favour of the railway. I know that there is one person on whom the right honorable member for Swan is relying to help him, and who was the means of getting this amendment inserted in the Senate. I refer to Senator Symon, whom I heard speak as strongly as he could against the’ railway.
– He supported it.
– No, he opposed the railway, and supported the amendment. That is the position which was taken up by the honorable senator to whom I refer. He could not straightforwardly oppose the proposal, and he did so in a roundabout way.
– He is not in the Legislative Council of South Australia.
– He is representing its views. .
– And is quite evidently its mouth-piece. If the right honorable member for Swan desires to see this survey proceeded with he will assist me to reject the amendment. If he is prepared to do justice to the pub-‘ lie men, the House of Assembly and the Government of South Australia, he will see that this amendment is rejected, and there will then be no opposition to the survey. It will be of no use for the Premier of South Australia to introduce a Bill giving the consent of that State to the survey, when he knows that it will be defeated in the Legislative Council, and that the right honorable member for Swan will then say that the Government and people of South Australia have not carried out their pledges to Western Australia. I have stated the true position, and I trust that honorable members will reject the amendment, and will thus assist Western Australia and South Australia at one and the same time.
.- I hope that honorable members from South Australia will not allow their enthusiasm in support of the Bill to carry them to the extent of voting against the acceptanceof the Senate’s amendment. So far as. I am concerned, in the progress of this measure, as a representative of Western Australia, I have always in that State laid stress upon the credit due to the representatives of South Australia in theFederal Parliament for the assistance they have given in this particular matter. Senator Symon is the only exception. The Western Australian people owe a debt tothe members of the Federal Parliament from the other States for the help given; to their representatives in this House, and’i in another place. I’ share’ with our friendsfrom South Australia the gravest doubts as to the prospects of getting a measuregiving the consent of that State to thesurvey passed by the Legislative Council of the State. I have no doubt that thepresent Government of South Australia are desirous, not only to redeem what” they consider to be a pledge given to thepeople of Western Australia by the publicmen of their State, but also to give effect to their own views of what is right in connexion with this matter. I am surethat if the House of Assembly of South Australia had the decision of the matter a Bill giving the consent of that State tothe survey would be carried almost immediately. I have the gravest doubt of the fate of such a measure when it reachesthe Legislative Council of that State.
– Does not the honorablemember think that it is a great mistake toinsert a provision in this Bill, which, on< the face of it, admits that we have not the power to construct the railway ?
– The Constitution requires that consent shall be given by a State before railway construction by the Commonwealth through that State is authorized.
– I doubt that.
– If this Parliament decides that the ‘railway should be immediately constructed for defence purposes,, it may be done. Otherwise, there is a doubt. We do not think that’ we are’ faced with the necessity of undertaking such a responsibility at the present time. On theother hand a strong argument for acceptingthe amendment is that, if the South Australian Parliament does not grant its consent within a reasonable time, there is no-. thing to prevent this Parliament from’ amending the measure after it becomes anAct. We could amend it to-morrow if we desired. . Consequently,, we. ought to give the South Australian Parliament the opportunity of falling in with our wishes.
– Is not that a humiliating position to place us in?
-Idonotlikeit. It is not what I should desire, but what we have been unfortunately compelled bya succession of reverses in a branch of this Parliament to accept.
– Why not take this clause out, and go on with the survey at once?
– I believe this House would take the clause out, but I have the gravest doubts as to what attitude the other branch of the Legislature would take up. It is a most unfortunate position for this Parliament to be in, but possibly the South Australian Parliament may accept their responsibility, and allow the survey to proceed. If they do not, then, although a little time may be lost, this Parliament will be in no worse position than it is in now. If the South Australian Parliament fail to give us authority, we can, with confidence, appeal to this Parliament to take away from South Australia the right to have the final say. I believe we should not make that appeal in vain.
__ I rise solely to put myself right with the right honorable member’ for Swan who, I am afraid, completely misunderstood the purpose of some interjections I made to him. He seemed to think that I was actuated by some hostile motive, but, as he must know the old’ Biblical saying about the rejoicing that takes place over the sinner that repenteth, he must have felt that I could not have been angry with him now that he is coming round to a proposal which I have several times brought forward in this House, ‘but which, hitherto, he has not viewed in the broad, statesmanlike way he adopted this evening.
– Remember what I said about the gifts of the Greeks.
– I was not dealing with anything of a “slim” nature at all, because I gather that the spontaneous outburst of eloquence which he gave us tonight, and which we all enjoyed and gained knowledge from, was intended to be taken as his final word upon the subject. I think he. expressed his true and present conviction that this provision, which I have, I think, twice sought to have inserted in the ; Bill, is really a wise one which both Houses could very reasonably adopt. The Bill has beensufficiently discussed. Ionly implore the right honorable member for Swan, who used to resist this proposition, not to misunderstand me when I recognise that, after all, this House, in a matter of this kind concerning State rights, might very well bow to the other, which is properly, under the Constitution, the guardian of those rights.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I do not know whether honorable members desire an adjournment over to-morrow.
– Hear, hear, and make the adjournment until Wednesday next.
– In the early part of the evening I was asked whether, if the last two Bills on which we have been engaged were disposed of to-night, we could not . adjourn until Wednesday next. I have no’ desire to take that course if it is not the wish of honorable members, but I think that a little time should be afforded to them in order to collect particulars in reference to the Budget and the Tariff. I am quite prepared to submit a motion for a special adjournment, but I do not want it to be said that I have acted without the general concurrence of honorable members.
– I think that there is a very general desire that we should adjourn until Wednesday next.
– Is it proposed on Wednesday to take the debate on the Budget?
– Yes. There is no very important- business -to be dealt with to-morrow ; on Wednesday when the House meets there may be one or two unimportant matters to be dealt with before we proceed to the Budget, and, perhaps, to the Tariff debate, though my honorable friend opposite does not want to have one debate. I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next, at 3 o’clock.
.- It is of very little use to pass this motion unless the papers which have been asked for are to be made available tomorrow.
– What papers does the honorable member refer to? -
– I am referring to the papers which’ the honorable gentleman promised, a week ago to procure for honorable members. I am not blaming him at all, except that I think he might insist upon some action being taken to facilitate their passage more quickly through the Government Printing Office: The Commonwealth ought to have at its command sufficient resources to make available information which is requisite for the discussion on the Budget.
Mr.’-W. H. Irvine. - It occupied only a couple of columns in the newspapers.
– More than that.
– As- a matter of fact, we have been supplied with a portion of the information through the newspapers, but it has not come from an official source.
– That list is very incomplete.
– No doubt it is. We want complete information.
– The honorable member will get it at the earliest possible -moment.
– What is the earliest possible moment? The honorable gentleman has .been, saying that for a couple of days.
– Do not be so bilious. : Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - If I were the honorable member I should find another word to use. Really, sir, the honorable member repeats that word just like a parrot. It is about all he can say. I think that a Minister of the Crown ought to have greater resource iri the way of a vocabulary at his command. At any rate, I am asking a question relating to public business, and it is getting just a little nauseating to hear from the Minister of Trade and Customs the reply that we shall get the information at the earliest possible moment. He says that about everything, and, unfortunately, we hear no more about the matter. We want to get these papers to-morrow to take them away with us.
– Have a little -patience.
– The frivolous way in which the honorable member deals - with everything would exhaust the patience of any one. This .is a very serious matter on which I am asking a question.
– The honorable member has said the same thing every day for a week, and .1 have given him the same answer.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, who has. Che control of this matter, if he will say whether we can get the papers to take away with us to-morrow, and thus have the advantage of studying the Tariff in the light of the information which was promised by the Government some days ago?
.- If an arrangement has been come to between the leaders of the various parties in this House for an adjournment from . to-night - until next Wednesday, I must fall in with it, but I feel that the debates on the Budget .and the Tariff will be very prolonged, and that the session may extend beyond Christmas.
– We willi group some of the items together, and thus get through with them quickly.
– The honorable member is very sanguine. My four years’’ experience tells me that it is not easy to expedite business of this kind.
– The honorable member has not heard the honorable member for Lang at his best.
– No. When the honorable member for Lang desires to lay stress on .any given- point he occupies a’ good deal of time.. I understand that the Ministry desire to pass the Commonwealth Salaries Bill and the Postal Rates Bill.
– I will pass the Postal Rates Bill in spite of the honorable member.
– That Bill will not pass while the Federal finances remain in their present condition. Notwithstanding his humanitarian declarations, the honorable member is prepared to sacrifice old-age pensions to secure penny postage.
– I have done more for old-age pensions than the honorable member has done.
– The Minister has done nothing in the matter.
– He has only talked about it. I, like some of the other representatives of Western Australia, have been absent from that State since last Christmas, and it seems to me that even if we meet on every ordinary sitting day it will be impossible for us to leave Melbourne till next Christmas. This is a serious matter to those who come from distant constituencies. If no . arrangement has been made, I suggest that we should meet to-morrow and on Tuesday, inorder to clear the. businesssheet before proceeding with the Budget debate on Wednesday.
– The only, items on the business-paper seem to be measures to which the honorable member is opposed.
– I am tired of this. If the honorablemember continues his objections, I shall withdraw the motion.
– When I have- something to say on a particular matter, I shall always insist on saying it. The Commonwealth Salaries Bill is, in my opinion, a measure which should receive early consideration. I am opposed to the Postal Rates Bill, in regard to which the Minister of Trade and’ Customs got so excited, and used such questionable language. If no arrangement has been made, I -think that, in consideration of honorable members who come to Melbourne from distant constituencies, we should meet to-morro’w as usual. …
– The honorable member is an impossible man to deal with.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is hardly reasonable. The Ministry is endeavouring to give us time to consider very important proposals, but my honorable friends in the Labour Partyhave shown on several occasion’s, recently that; they think that, because they are supporting the Government, they are entitled to belabour it whenever they think fit to do so.
– That is just what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has been doing.
– Exactly. Simply because he has been sitting here night after night supporting the Government, he seems to think that he has the right to belabour Ministers whenever they displease him. To-night, for instance, he spoke with great warmth, until the indifference of the Acting Prime Minister, and what I may describe as the contempt of the new Minister for Trade and Customs, brought him to his bearings. I am glad that Ministers have shown sufficient firmness of character and strength of mind to treat this action of their supporters with the contempt which it deserves, so that what soared up to the heavens as a rocket has landed as a harmless and fizzling stick.
.- We were told last week that it was intended when the consideration of the Tariff commenced, to deal with it uninterruptedly until it was finished. It seems to me that in any case we shall be here until after next Christmas. But we do not wish to keep the other branch of Legislature idle while we are discussing the Tariff. If we do we shall, at the end of the session, have to hang about for a month or six weeks, while they are dealing with measures which they might very well be considering while we have the Tariff under review.
– Would it not be a good thing to give senators an opportunity to hear the Tariff debate in this Chamber? Will not that expedite . the final settlement of the Tariff ?
– I do not think’ so. My suggestion is that we should meet at the usual time next week, and clear the business-paper of measures which the Senate ought to be dealing with while we are considering the Tariff.
.- I havealways opposed adjournments of this kind, andI must do so in this instance.
– Another Government supporter.
– I speak for myself, and I shall do so at all times. Under the Tariff now before us. certain prohibitive duties are imposed, and I think it is right that we should deal with them as soon as possible.
– Even if we met tomorrow, the Tariff debate would not be proceeded with before Wednesday.
– Merchants are at a loss to know what to do with many shipments of goods that are arriving. The Minister of Trade and Customs will probably say that they should put them into bonded warehouses. That course, however, could not be adopted without considerable expense being incurred, and some of the goods now arriving will either have to be returned to the port of shipment, or forwarded to New Zealand, or some other place. It is all very well for those who have voted for the allowance granted honorable members being increased to £600 per annum to treat these matters, lightly. In the eyes of some honorable members, it is a crime for a man to be a merchant or to be engaged in any business, but I hold that, as trustees of the people, we should have regard to those who are seriously affected by the Tariff, under which in some cases duties three times the value of the goods to which they relate are imposed. We should deal with it as soon as possible, and, that being so, I am opposed to ‘ the House adjourning as proposed until Wednesday next.
. It appears to me that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had a perfect right to protest against an’ adjournment to which he was not a party. Notwithstanding the remarks of the volatile member for Wentworth, I think that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie took up a very reasonable attitude when he said that although he was opposed to the adjournment, he was prepared to stand by any arrangement that had been made that the House on rising to-night should not meet again until Wednesday next. As a matter of fact, there was no arrangement in the sense implied by the honorable member. I was not consulted, and I do not think that the Acting Prime Minister consulted any other honorable member as to the proposal.
– He announced that he intended to ask the House to adjourn tonight until Wednesday next.
– I also had a consultation with the leader of the Opposition.
– The Acting Prime Minister announced yesterday, before he had consulted the leader of theOpposition. that he proposed to ask the House to adjourn to-night until Wednesday next, provided that certain business was disposed of.
– Did not the honorable member for Kennedy suggest more than a week ago that we should have a longer adjournment than usual?
– The honorable member is quite right.
– I do not think that honorable members acted fairly in taking the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to task because he objected to a proposal for an adjournment with the origin of which he was not acquainted. Any representative of a distant State has a right to object to an adjournment over several days, and I am sure that if the matter had been explained to the honorable member he would have been just as satisfied as others will be when they know the circumstances leading up to this proposal. I am not affected, since I do not intend to return, to Sydney this week, and might just as well remain in the Chamber to-morrow and on Tuesday next at work, as I shall do, in other parts of the building.
– I am in the same position. - Mr. WATSON. - I dare say that the absence of the honorable member for Lang might conduce to expedition in dealing with the Tariff. The proposed adjournment, to my mind, will lead to our dealing with the Tariffmore rapidly than would otherwise be the case, and, from that stand-point, I think that it is worthy of “consideration.
– Had there been any strong desire on the part of honorable members that we should meet to-morrow, as well as on Tuesday next, I should have been quite prepared to withdraw the motion. I am somewhat weary; but do not wish personal considerations to weigh with the House. I am sorry that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should have spoken as he did. Before submitting the motion, I inquired, and was informed that there was no objection to the proposed adjournment.
– And the honorable member referred yesterday to his intention to move this adjournment.
– That is so.
– When I spoke just now I had in mind the announcement made yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister. I heard nothing of the proposal to-day.
– I am surprised that any objection should have been raised in view of the fact that both to-day and yesterday I mentioned thatI proposed to ask the House to adjourn to-night until Wednesday next. I had had a consultation with the leader of the Opposition, and felt bound to carry out the promise I had given him, more especially as I believed that the House was altogether with me. I repeat that I am quite prepared to go on if honorable members desire that we shall meet tomorrow. When we meet on Wednesday next there will be one or two items to dispose of before we proceed with the consideration of the Tariff. In the meantime I desire to inform the deputy leader of the Opposition that I saw the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs to-day, and also spoke to my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, in regard to the preparation of the information for which he asks. I was informed that the analyses had taken longer than the Comptroller-General anticipated, but that he hoped to have the papers in the hands of the Government Printer to-night.
– That means that the information will be available when it is of no use to us.
SirWILLIAM LYNE. - I shall take steps’ to-morrow morning, and ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to expedite the printing of the returns. I hope to be able to give the deputy leader of the Opposition, and probably every honorable member, most, if not all, the information that is desired, before they leave for the other States.
– If necessary, the papers Can be sent to the railwaystation, so that honorable members may receive them before leaving.
– That is so. I shall push on the work of printing the information in question, for I do not want any complaint of delay in regard to it.
– If the honorable fentleman says that he will obtain the inormation for us I shall be satisfied.
– I cannot perform miracles; but I certainly hope to be able to secure the information for the honorable member to-morrow. It took me a long time to get the information in regard to the Tariff, and it is only fair to allow honorable members an opportunity to consider such a lengthy, document. This course, I think, . will tend to shorten debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070815_reps_3_37/>.