3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
ABSENCE OF Mr. SPEAKER.
The Clerk acquainted the House that he had been informed of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether negotiations are proceeding on the subject of establishing telephone communication with Port Davey on the south-west coast of Tasmania ?
– The question of connecting Port Davey by telephone is engaging the attention of the Post and Telegraph Department and the State Premier, from whom it will be necessary to obtain a guarantee.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General a question relating to a clause in the mail contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, which I had intended to refer to last night, but which, owing to the lateness of the hour, I refrained from dealing with. The clause specifies that certain steps shall be taken by the contracting company with reference to establishing communication with a wireless telegraphy station oh Rottnest Island. I wish to know whether the establishment of a wireless telegraphy station on that island is likely to be undertaken at an early dale. There certainly is a great necessity for its establishment.
– The matter of establishing a wireless telegraphy station on Rottnest Island is receiving the attention of the Post and Telegraph Department, and I hope that long before the commencement of the contract it will be established.
– Has the Postmaster-General yet made any arrangement to connect King Island, a very important part of the Darwin electorate, with the mainland, by means of wireless telegraphy ?
– No such arrangement has yet been made, but I have no doubt that so important a place will receive every consideration.
Mr.LIDDELL. - I see by this morning’s
Argus that the report of Dr. Tidswell, with reference to rabbit destruction, has been furnished to the press. So far as I am aware, no information on the subject has yet been given to the House. I desire to know whether the Treasurer proposes to furnish the House with the report, and also why it should be supplied to the press before its supply to honorable members.
– I have not yet received, nor has the Prime Minister, received, the report of Dr. Tidswell. Yesterday afternoon I received from Mr. Ashton a letter advising me that he had been furnished with a copy of the report by Dr. Tidswell, who had informed him that he had posted one to me, which I would receive yesterday afternoon, and asking me not to give it to the press here until the time when he intended to give his own -copy to the press in Sydney. I did not receive the report by yesterday’s mail, nor have I received it by this morning’s . mail. Knowing that it would be handed to the press in Sydney, I informed one or two persons connected with the press here yesterday that it would be available in Sydney, and that they had better get it telegraphed to Melbourne. With the concurrence of the Prime Minister, I shall lay the report upon thetable of the House as soon as it is received, and the Cabinet willconsider what action shall be taken.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following paper -
Papua - Ordinances of1907 -
No. 9. - Supplementary Appropriation, 1904- 5.
No. 10. - Supplementary Appropriation, 1905- 6.
– Some time ago the Postmaster-General was good enough to promise me that he would ascertain the cost of improving the post-office at Penola, in South Australia, and I desire to know if he has yet received a reporton the subject.
– If the honorable member will make inquiries at the office rof the Department, I shall be ableto give him full information. As thereare thousands of post-offices in the Commonwealth, it is quite impossible for me to carry in my mind such information as he desires to obtain in reference to the Penola office.
– I find that in the Age report of the division on the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier for the nationalization of the ocean mail service, a number of honorable members are reported as having voted on the side of the “ ayes “ who ought to have been reported as having voted on the side of the “noes.” “I find also that the names of certain, members have been entered in the pair-book in the same way. The division is reported in the Age as twenty-four “ayes” and seventeen “noes.” The seventeen “ noes” comprise members of the Labour Party. Those honorable members who paired against the amendment are reported in the newspaper as “noes.”
– The pair-book is wrong ?
– Yes. The impression is given to the public that Mr. Wise, Mr. Archer, Mr. Bowden, Mr. J. T. Brown,Mr. Fairbairn, Sir John Forrest, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Bruce Smith, Mr. Harper, Mr. W. H. Irvine, and Mr. Knox paired in favour of the “nationalization “ amendment, With regard to the laughter which my remarks evoke, I think it will be sufficiently suggestive to the public of the error that the idea of those honorable gentlemen pairing for such an amendment has provoked so much humour on the part of members of the House. The pair-book justifies the report in the newspaper, because the names I have read are entered under “ For,” and the absent members of the Labour Party are reported as having paired against their colleague’s amendment.
– I may mention that the House does not recognise pairs in any way, and that the pair-book is kept merely for the convenience of honorable members who desire to be absent.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That, until otherwise . ordered, this House domeet at half-past ten o’clock a.m. on Monday in eachweek, in addition to the present sitting days.
Mr.JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta) [11.8].-I shalloffernoobjectiontothe motion,thoughIthinkthat it comes not veryappropriately fromtheGovernment, who have frittered away during the session a lot of valuable time, which might have been spent very profitably on the important topic of the Tariff. However, it seems to me that in the closing hours of this period of the session we are to be treated to what I described the other night as a “ legislative orgy.” It is to be deprecated, in the interests of the commercial classes, that we should be driven into these straits in the consideration of the Tariff. On the other hand, there is the difficulty that, if we do not make some progress now, the commercial classes - indeed, all sections of the community - will suffer still more by reason of the delay. We are in one of those difficult positions in which one does hot quite know the best way to proceed. I believe that we shall be consulting the best interests of the country if we err in favour of a full and favourable consideration of the interests of those outside, who are so profoundly affected by the Tariff. With that condition I shall support the proposal. I hope that it will not be necessary for the Government to resortto allnight, sittings if we are going to sit six days a week and all the hours of the clock except the night hours. It should be made a rule not to entrench on those hours which we ought to devote to sleep. We shall have little enough time if we are to get any sleep at all to devote ourselves to business ; and the Tariff is, after all, the most important business which can engage this Parliament at the present time. Every man, woman, and child in the country is directly affected by it. I trust that we shall devote ourselves uninterruptedly to it - I say that advisedly - without the interpolation of other measures in the manner attempted during last week by the Government. Last night we were actually asked by the AttorneyGeneral to consider the Quarantine Bill. Surely that is a matter which can wait until we meet again, when we can deal with it with minds free and untrammelled by the weight of other important business, such as we are engaged upon now. The country will lose nothing, and no interest will suffer if the Quarantine- Bill is delayed a little. Indeed, I think that the country will gainfrom the more careful and deliberate consideration of such a measure rather than by rushing it through during the closing hours of sittings when honorable members aretired and cannot possibly give to it the attention that it deserves.
That is the way not to do the country’s business. One reason why this Parliament is becoming so unpopular in the States as a whole is by reason of the crude and illdigested legislation which has been put through during the closing hours of sittings when honorable members have been too tired to give to the business the consideration to which it is entitled. I hope, therefore, that no interpolations of the kind will be attempted. We should address ourselves steadily to the specific task before us, and pursue it uninterruptedly, in the hope that we may
Teach a conclusion with every interest fully conserved and properly considered. . I should like to ask the Prime Minister what he proposes to do regarding Saturday sittings? That is a point upon which he was very vague.
– If the Prime Minister leaves it until next Friday, honorable members from other States will have made their arrangements. The trouble seems to be that no one is thought of in these matters but honorable members from the Prime Minister’s own State. That is not fair to others. I submit that the Government ought to forecast the business for the week, so that honorable members may know when the House is going to sit. In that case, those who have homes in other States will be able to make their arrangements. Their convenience ought to be met. I should like to suggest, also, that if we are to sit on Saturday, we might try to get more than two hours’ work done. It is hardly worth while for the House to meet for two hours.
– We should not have been meeting to-day except for the honorable member for Hunter.
– That was quite a misunderstanding.
– We should have sat to-day under any circumstances.
– The Treasurer gave us his assurance that he intended to ask the House to sit on Saturday, as well as on Monday. If he made a different statement to other honorable members, I was not aware of it.
– He said that we need not sit to-day because we sat late last night.
– The Treasurer stated while the discussion was going on that he did not intend to ask the House to meet to-day.
– The Treasurer told me distinctly that he proposed that we should sit to-day as well as on Monday. It is just as well that the honorable gentleman should clear the matter up. In the meantime I ask the Government to state what they propose to do in the matter of Saturday sittings.
.- I agree that the principal business to be dealt with by the House before the Christmas holidays should be the Tariff, and that the Government should, as far as possible, arrange to devote the whole of our time to it. They should also endeavor to look ahead so that honorable members from other States may be able to make their arrangements. I suggest that the Prime Minister should make his motion include Saturday sittings. If that is done it will be quite easy on any day during the week to move that the House at its rising on Friday adjourn until Monday, if it is not desired to sit on Saturday. That is the best course to take.
– The honorable member wants the House to sit on Saturdays, I suppose?
– Oh yes.
– But not for two hours.
– Why not sit on Sundays, also?
– For the obvious reason that we have other duties to perform. Some of us would prefer to be with our families on Sundays.
– The better the day, the better the deed !
– I have no objection to the honorable member moving that the House sit on Sunday if he chooses, but I do not recommend such a proposition to the Government. I do hope that the Tariff will be the principal work, and that we shall complete it before we rise for the Christmas holidays. But I also desire to observe that the Government should see to.it that the wages prescribed by Mr. Justice Higgins shall be paid to the workmen who are entitled to them. If that be done, I desire to say, on behalf of myself and the party to which I belong that, those conditions fulfilled, very reasonable terms will be agreed to regarding other matters. The intention of Parliament clearly was to insure the payment of fair and reasonable wages to the workmen, and not to collect revenue in the form of an Excise duty. I think there will be time enough to have that matter attended to before we adjourn. I shall do my utmost in assisting the Government to get the Tariff through before the Christmas holidays.
– The honorable member believes in sitting all the year round, holidays included.
– All that I have to say in reply to that remark is that it is one of those interjections that are not only irrelevant but utterly incorrect.
– The honorable member should not take such a remark too literally.
– The two matters to which I wish to have attention given are, first, that we should get the Tariff through before the holidays, and, secondly, that justice should be done to those people who are interested in the Excise legislation in securing them that which Parliament intended that they should have, and to which a High Court Justice has decided that they are entitled.
.- The extraordinary part of the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta was, that being as he has told us, intensely opposed to this motion, he should yet be able to give his vote for it. He has put forward the plea that the commercial community are waiting for the settlement of the Tariff, If the Tariff could be definitely fixed before Christmas there would be a great deal to be said for what the honorable member has urged. But he knows, as we all know, that if we pass the duties remaining for consideration it will not mean finality with regard to the Tariff, and that the unrest which isaffecting the commercial community will continue just the same. There can be no doubt about that. Therefore, there is no excuse whatever for rushing the Tariff through.
– I hope that the honorable member does not think that I desire the Tariff to be rushed through the House. I say emphatically that I will not assist in rushing it through.
– But the honorable member is supporting this motion, the object of which undoubtedly is to facilitate the rushing of the Tariff through this House.
– Not at all.
– Then what is its object ? Finality will not be reached even if this House does dispose of the Tariff before Christmas.
– The passing of the motion will not induce me to forego any protest that I think I ought to make.
– Quite so; but surely the honorable member must recognise the condition into which the House is drifting. When honorable members are utterly worn out physically, it is impossible for them to attend here regularly to support his eloquent protests, so that the duties proposed by the. Government are agreed to. The honorable member for Parramatta has rightly said that the Tariff profoundly affects every man, woman, and child in the community ; henceit should be considered when members are in full possession of their faculties. Our work cannot be properly done otherwise, and the public will suffer from our slipshod decisions. I fail to recognise the necessity for this motion, and think that it is little short of an affront to the House to submit it without any explanation. I should willingly make any reasonable sacrifice in order that the Tariff might be finally disposed of before Christmas ; but we all know that although the powers of the Senate are not exactly co-ordinate with our own, it can make requests and hold up the Tariff until we either approve or disapprove of those requests. That being so, is it reasonable to suggest that it is necessary for this House to dispose of the Tariff before Christmas? I see no urgency in the matter, and am prepared to indorse the views of the honorable member for Parramatta not only as to the manner in which the Tariff has been submitted, but as to the general conduct of business during the last three or four months. If the Government had desired an honest discussion of the Tariff, instead of introducing it and endeavouring to rush it through the House in the closing weeks of the session, they should have made it the first business.
– And it should be dealt with in sections in different sessions in order that it might be carefully considered.
– My experience of the consideration of two Tariffs in this House has satisfied me that Parliament is, perhaps, the worst tribunal that could be selected for the adjustment of duties; the work is one that requires expert knowledge and the utmost deliberation on the part of those to whom it is intrusted. We have, however, to make the best of the position, and that I contend we are not doing.I fully indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta regarding the practice of rushing legislation through Parliament at the end of a session. During the consideration of the Tariff schedule 1 had occasion to move for a reduction in the monstrous sugar duties, and was then reminded of a provision in an Act of Parliament passed some time ago in which we fixed the Excise and bounty. As a matter of fact, that measure was rushed through this House, just as the Government are now rushing the Tariff through it, and without anything like adequate or fair consideration. A bargain was then made which I was reminded the other day must bind the whole Commonwealth for many years. That in itself constitutes a valid and forcible reason for out refusingto hurriedly fix duties the effect of which may be to divert the whole course of trade and business. If the Government had had any real desire that the Tariff should be properly considered, instead of wasting the early part of the session they would have submitted it to the House as soon as we met. There was nothing to prevent them doing so. They had before them the progress reports of the Tariff Commission, and should have been able without difficulty, to decide what recommendations they were prepared to support, and what variations of the recommendations of the Commission they desired. I have spoken but rarely during the consideration of the Tariff, believing that an honorable member should confine his attention to those items of which he has expert knowledge. On several occasions, when I intended to speak, I have been forestalled by gentlemen who are continually on their feet, and who in some way have secured a monopoly on the debate. I am not going to continue that line of action, andI do not think that the passing of this motion will facilitate business. I protest against this House meeting on Saturdays, as well as on Mondays. If honorable members would come to a reasonable frame of mind, and speak only on the questions of which they have expert knowledge, the volume of talk would be considerably reduced, and the ordinary days of sitting would be ample to enable us to pass the Tariff within a reasonable period. It is true that the Government, when rearranging the business of the House, have got into the habit of consulting the convenience of certain honorable members. But they make a mistake if they think that everybody else is going to acquiesce in these secret bargains in which their convenience is not considered. In such circumstances, the Government cannot complain if they are subjected to a little criticism. The arrangement to rush the Tariff through the House before Christmas, and then to have a fairly long adjournment does not particularly suit the convenience of members from other States. I am not one of those who will be specially convenienced.
– The Government consult the leaders of the various parties.
– And the leaders should consult their followers before making a bargain.
– I should like to know what leaders have been consulted.
– When I asked the honorable member for Wide Bay yesterday whether there was to be a Saturday’s sitting,. I received the answer “No”; yet I find myself here to-day when I should preferably be somewhere else. It is the duty of the Government to consult honorable members generally.
– We are here to-day as the result of the action of one honorable member.
– That view has been disputed by the honorable member concerned.
– By whom?
– By the honorable mem ber for Hun ter.
– Why he has stated that he would take the same course again.
– I am not responsible for that. I want to know where is the necessity for this House sitting on Saturdays ?
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know whether it is fair that an honorable member’s name should be used in discussionwhen he cannot hear the remarks which are being made concerning him ?
– I would point out that the dialogue which has been proceeding is altogether irregular.
– I have endeavoured to make my remarks relevant to the question before the Chair. I understand that the House did not adjourn till 1 o’clock this morning. I do not believe that the public expect a man to ruin his health by sitting in this badly ventilated chamber till such an unreasonable hour.No adequate reason has been assigned why we should be required to do so. I would point out to the
Government that honorable members like myself have a large correspondence with our electors to transact, and a great deal of departmental work to perform. I represent a considerable area - an area which is rapidly- developing - and I have a voluminous correspondence with various Departments to attend to, and especially with the Postal Department. That work must be neglected if I am required to attend here every day in the week and practically all the hours of the clock.
– The honorable member is not suffering in health yet. He looks splendid.
– I thank the honorable member for his compliment, but I would remind him that people sometimes belie their looks. Although honorable members may not feel the effects of this legislative debauch immediately, I am satisfied that they will feel it eventually, and that they will regret having given their assent to the proposal now under consideration. I would remind honorable members that the first . allnight sitting in connexion with the Tariff resulted from -the Government’s anxiety to get the hat duties passed. Now, a certain member of the’ Ministry was aware that I had in my possession a document which would have changed the views of a great many honorable members regarding those duties.
– Where was the honorable member on that occasion ?
– I happened to be unwell, and consequently went home, having been assured by the Government Whip that the hat duties would not come on for consideration that evening.
– I do not think that , statement is correct.
– It is quite correct. T took a note of it at the time. Further, the honorable member made an arrangement to provide me with a pair upon every division taken in connexion with those duties. I was to be paired in favour of the lowest duty on each occasion. ‘ But, notwithstanding that definite arrangement with him, I find that my name appears in the pairbook only in connexion with one division, [f it- would be in order for me to do so, I should read the document to which I have alluded to the House. I repeat that one member of .the Government was aware that I had evidence which I intended to place before the Committee, and which would have considerably influenced the votes of a large number of honorable mem bers occupying seats in this corner of the chamber in respect of the hat duties. It is impossible to absolve the Government from condemnation for having compelled the House to sit all night for the purpose of passing those duties.
– Under suspicious circumstances.
– If the honorable member knew as much as I do, he would think that the circumstances were very suspicious.
– At the end of that debate I stated that I would endeavour to obtain a recommittal of those duties. I hope that the honorable member will support me in that.
– If the honorable member moves for a recommittal, I shall be found supporting him. I hope, too, that he will move for a recommittal -of other duties which were put through under very suspicious circumstances.
– What are the suspicious circumstances? I should like to know.
– The duty upon condensed milk was rushed through-
– Under suspicious circumstances ?
– Yes. ‘
– As a very new member, the honorable member for Macquarie is entitled to his opinion, but I hold that the circumstances were very suspicious. Although I have been absent from the House, I may inform him that I have kept a very close watch upon its proceedings. I have read the newspaper accounts of them, and also the Hansard reports, so that I do not think I have missed very much.
– The honorable member might safely have missed, the daily newspaper reports if he desired to obtain an accurate knowledge of the proceedings of the House.
– That is true, and it is a strong argument for the publication of a daily Hansard.
– The honorable gentleman is to be commended for his industry.
– I should have preferred to be able to exercise it in this House. I repeat that some of the duties have been put through in very suspicious circum-stances.
– The honorable gentleman should not make reflections.
– I do not reflect upon the Treasurer at all. We know that in his kindness of heart he sometimes yields to influences to which he should not yield. The Government should agree to recommit the duties about which we complain, and I, for one, will be prepared to assist the Opposition in an endeavour to have them recommitted later on. It. is out of all reason to expect honorable members to work six days a week in this House. I have worked six days, and, indeed, seven days a week before now, but the demand upon a man’s physical and intellectual powers involved in sitting in this chamber, and following the deliberations of the House, is far more trying than the same number of hours spent in merely physical exertion would be. As one of the Labour Party. .1 object to the violation of the eight hours’ principle, even to put a Tariff through. The Government must be quite conscious that it would not relieve the minds of the commercial community in anyway to put the Tariff through the House of Representatives before Christmas. The duties will not have been finally decided upon until the Tariff has been, passed by the Senate, and even after that; by combinations of members in this House, particular duties might be subjected to revision and reduction.
– The honorable gentleman must recognise that it is not likely that the action, taken in remitting the duties on such lines as linen and fodder will be revised.
– There will not be many duties remitted if the Government can help it. What will probably happen will be that some of the duties will be slight lv reduced.
– That would not relieve the commercial community. They will still be in a state of unrest.
-What about a duty on kerosene ?
– If the honorable member for Barrier is really in earnest about the kerosene duty-
– The honorable member should not discuss the Tariff.
– I was following up an interjection.
– Interjections are disorderly, and it is equally disorderly to reply to them. .
– If I had been, allowed to proceed without interruption, I should not have occupied so much time. The Government might arrange to postpone certain items, and bring up for consideration a particular duty such as that referred to by the honorable member for Barrier. I am sure they would be supported by the House in a case of that kind. I have heard no reason from either side in support of the present proposal. Anything that has been said in favour of the motion has teen said, by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– And by the leader of the Labour Party.
– The leader of the Labour Party merely wished to have Saturday added to the motion. I think the honorable gentleman did not quite understand the position, because the Government are able at any time to move that the House should meet on Saturdays.
– That would be without giving notice to honorable members.
– It might so happen that even where notice was given,, the Government would not be able to secure the presence of a quorum. I shall not assist them to obtain a quorum on Saturdays, nor on Mondays, unless we adjourn at a reasonable time. I believe there are several honorable members who hold a similar opinion on the subject. The members of the Government are well aware that I have so far treated them with absolute fairness. I have not been obstructive in any way, although they have done many things I heartily disapprove of. 1 have sympathized with them in many of their difficulties. I think now, however, that they are proposing to put the last straw on the animal’s back, and it is about time It was resented. The excuse is the necessity of removing the uncertainty which exists in commercial- circles. That uncertainty will continue to exist in a greater or lesser degree until both Houses have passed the Tariff. Such an excuse is’ therefore inadequate to justify the undue haste now being made ; which, if persevered in, will result in the imposition of duties unfair in their incidence and injurious alike to the producers and consumers of Australia.
.- I do not often support the Government, but I wish to say that during the whole of this week. I have distinctly understood that the House would sit on Saturday morning, and on Monday next. I should have been very much disappointed if that course were not adopted. The Treasurer is blunt, and tells honorable members straight what he means. That is one good trait in the honorable gentleman’s character. As a doctor, the honorable member for Hunter may be perfectly justified in urging a reduction in the hours of sittings in the interest of the health of honorable members, but, taking a general view of the House this morning, I have not in my long experience seen a better or a fresher-looking lot of men. Judging by their appearance, honorable members might sit for ever. I do not blame the Government for trying to get on with the Tariff. It is idle to say that if we pass the Tariff in this House it will not lead to finality. There may be a few alterations suggested in another place, but honorable senators will be found willing to study the wishes of this House. I hope that whatever the Government do they will push on with the Tariff, and I urge the Prime Minister not to allow honorable members to go away from Melbourne until they have dealt with it. If that were done, we could look forward to a fairly long Christmas recess.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie seems to be under the impression that I have treated him unfairly. He says first that I informed him that the hat duties would not come on on a certain night. I do not remember making that statement, but it is probable that I said that in ray opinion they would not or might not come on. One cannot tell exactly what is going to happen with regard to any particular item, because sometimes a great many items are passed, and at other times only a few. I can only give my opinion. I will not further dispute as to that matter. With respect to the pairing business, it is true that the honorable member told me that he desired to have a pair always for the lowest duty, and, as far as possible, I have endeavoured to arrange it for him. But a most serious difficulty arose as to giving pairs to any honorable member on the particular occasion to which the honorable member refers. The honorable member for Lang,who is the Opposition whip, will bear me out that we had extreme difficulty in making matters fit for all sides of the House. The Government decided to propose a fixed instead of an ad valorem duty on hats.
– How long before the vote?
– The Government are responsible for that part of the business. I will simply explain my part. When the question was put, the honorable member for Parramatta began a series of amendments which culminated in an amendment for a 75 per cen. ad valorem duty on hats. Knowing that the honorable member for Coolgardie desired to vote for the lowest duty, and that he was returned as a free-trader, I could not conceive that I would be doing him justice by recording him as in favour of a 75 per cent. duty.
– As against 1.50 per cent. ?
– That is not the point.
– The honorably member must confine himself to a personal explanation on the matter with which he is now dealing. Otherwise he would open up a discussion upon the whole question of the Tariff,
– I am simply making a personal explanation. It seemed to be doingan injustice to the honorable member, to have it telegraphed to Coolgardie that he had voted for a duty of 75per cent. on hats.
– The honorable member must not debate the question.
– I am giving the reasons why I took a certain course.
– I understand that the honorable member for Coolgardie complained that he was not paired on a number of other occasions.
– The honorable member does not complain about other occasions. His pairswere recorded. I consulted with the honorable member for Yarra generally over the question of pairs on the hat duties, and he also agreed that it was difficult to know what to do. In the circumstances I submit that, in fairness to the honorable member for Coolgardie, I did what I thought was best in his interests, and just to the party to which he belonged. With regard to the matter to which the honorable member for Parkes has referred, there has been no mistake in the way in which the pairs are recorded in the pair book. The proposition of the honorable member for Barrierwas to omit certain words from the motion of the PostmasterGeneral. The pairs are recorded in the pair book on that question exactly as they have been recorded on every similar occasion. Those who desired to omit the words would vote with the noes, because the question put was “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.”
– The amendment is not set out in the pair-book. It simply says “ Mr. Thomas’ amendment.”
– I am not responsible for the way in which the press records the pairs. The honorable member for Parkes and others, who desired to vote against the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, voted “Aye” for the retention of the words in the motion. Consequently no mistake has been made. The honorable member for Lang, who with me helped to enter the pairs, can bear out my statement.
.- As a city member, I desire at all times to fall in with the wishes of those who are not able conveniently to reach their own homes. I am sorry that the honorable member for Coolgardie has taken up an obstructive position, but T trust that on consideration he will recognise that the public interests must be above any personal consideration in a question of this great importance. Speaking with some authority, I may tell the honorable member that he is quite in error in supposing that no great inconvenience exists in Melbourne, or elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth, through the Tariff not being settled. He would find the bonds all over Australia at present crowded with goods which are awaiting the fixing of the duties before they are taken out. I know in two cases of large mining enterprises whose machinery has.been stored in Sydney waiting for the settlement of the machinery duties. It is the most pressing and important duty of the House to get the Tariff completed without delay. Regarding the days of meeting, if honorable members decide to miss the Friday expresses to Adelaide and Sydney, surely they might as well sit as close up to the departure of the expresses on Saturdays as is convenient. If they miss the trains on Saturday, then by all means Monday should be available as a sitting day. I understand that these extra sittings are only for the purpose of endeavouring to get the Tariff through before the House rises over Christmas. I shall support the Government on this occasion, but I earnestly urge that there should not be a repetition of what took place with regard to the hat duties. If we have to attend here morning after morning at 11 o’clock, there should be some limitation as to the time to which we are expected to remain, because we have not only to give our attendance, but also all the ability, knowledge, and information that we possess to the consideration of the important question of the Tariff. While 1 support the Governnent on this motion, I recognise that much of the feeling which exists is due to their own want of business foresight. With them must rest the responsibility for the present confusion, because they might easily have enabled a much speedier consideration of the Tariff to take place. I am anxious that we should make as much progress as possible before Christmas.
– I shall oppose this motion, even at the risk of being misunderstood by my fellow members and the country generally. It might be suspected that my opposition is on personal grounds, and that I objected to attend the sittings of Parliament every day of the week. But I have no personal feeling whatever in the matter ; I am prepared to sit day after day, as often as may be necessary for the proper expedition of business. My opposition to the motion is based entirely on other grounds. I quite agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Coolgardie, and I am glad to think that he supports the position which’ I take. My object is to direct attention to the action, in the past, of the present Government. I am perfectly satisfied that the end which the Government have in view, in wishing us to sit day after day, is to rush the Tariff through when members are in a state of mental exhaustion. It has been suggested that my action in this connexion is based on health grounds ; but that is not so. I would point out, however, that it is impossible for us to carry on the business of the country satisfactorily if we are overworked. There is a marked difference between men who work regular hours and those who work irregular hours, such as we do; and I have felt the evil effects. I may not talk so often, or at such length, as do other honorable members, but I endeavour to be here whenever a division is taken : and I think that my attendances will compare favorably with those of honorable members generally. When I entered the chamber the other night, after having been absent for the greater part of the day, I noticed the exhausted mental condition of honorable members. I noticed that Mr. Speaker, in mistake, named three tellers on one side; and I am satisfied that that would not have occurred if his brain had not been nearly exhausted. Furthermore, if we have continuous sittings at this period of the year, when the temperature is so high, and in a chamber ventilated as this is, it is absolutely impossible for honorable members to do themselves justice. All the non-contentious items of the Tariff have been passed, but the important items have been postponed until, I suppose, members are exhausted, and anxious to get to their homes. Under such circumstances honorable members desire to pair, and are not here to oppose with their voices the proposals of the Government.
– The honorable member knows very well why the items have been postponed.
– I am explaining that, in my opinion, the Treasurer, expert underground engineer as he is, has brought about the postponement of the items with the object of rushing them through at the end of the session. I see no reason why there should be great anxiety to dispose in such a hurried manner of the Tariff. No doubt the commercial world, and the community generally, are anxious to have this matter settled; but I fail to see how there can be any satisfactory result if we are called upon to work long hours on six days of the week. Why should there not be a reasonable adjournment at Christmas, so that we may come back fresh to the work of settling the Tariff? I consider that the Treasurer, and the Government generally, and to a certain extent the Labour Party, are responsible for the present position of affairs. From time to time the Government have thrown the Tariff aside, and introduced other measures, such as the Mail Contract, or the Bill to grant a bonus to the iron industry. No doubt it was necessary that the Mail Contract should be ratified ; and I am sure that, in this connexion, the Opposition have been most reasonable. But we find the new leader of the Labour Party, who, apparently, is prepared to take more drastic steps than was his predecessor, supporting a proposal for nationalization.
– Surely the Mail Contract is an important matter?
– That may be, but this is not the time for the discussion of nationalization proposals. Then the members of the Labour Party took advantage of the introduction of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to cause further delay in dealing with the Tariff. I hope I shall find many honorable members to support me in my opposition, to this motion.
Mr. j. H. CATTS (Cook) [1.2.8].- If the Prime Minister proposes an amendment to the motion he has placed before us that will, so far as I understand, preclude us from subsequently debating the question ; and as such a position would be absolutely unfair, I wish to say a few words now. Before we decide to sit every day in the week we ought to have the opportunity to discuss the proposal. Personally, I am prepared tosit, if necessary, even all night in order to expedite business. No time has been wasted, and, as a vast amount of work has been accomplished, there is, in my opinion, no necessity to sit on Saturdays as well as on Mondays. Let the Prime Minister adhere to his determination to call the House together on Mondays; but I think it ought to be left to us to decide whether it is absolutely necessary to sit on Satur- . days. The honorable member for Hunter has charged the Labour Party with taking up time over the Mail Contract proposals and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, both of which measures he describes as side issues. In, my opinion, however, both are most important, in view of the fact that the Mail Contract, for instance, binds the country, during the next ten or twelve years, to a large expenditure of money. The honorable member for Wide Bay, when he expresses a desire to sit on Saturdays, speaks for himself alone, and not for any other member of the Labour Party. Every honorable member who does his duty has a good deal of departmental and personal work in connexion with his constituency ; and such work cannot be done properly if we are compelled to sit every day of the week. The honorable member for Kooyong has expressed his approval of extra sittings ; butI notice that, when the House sits until a late hour, the honorable member generally goes home to his comfortable bed and allows others to keep a quorum. The Government are yielding to clamour from other parts of the chamber to sit on Saturday, but that is not the quarter, to which they will look for making a quorum if theyget into a corner. If they will not extend to us some consideration withregard to Saturday, I do not intend to consider them when they get into difficulties.I have come to their rescue on several occasions, of which they are well aware. I want not only to give a vote on the various items in the Tariff, but also to be present in the chamber, and to intelligently follow the discussion on each item. I want to be able to justify to my constituents every vote that I give. I do not want to be compelled to attend to the affairs of my constituency or departmental work in some part of the building, and to trot down to the chamber, like a blindfolded man, to vote on one side or the other. On the contrary,I desire to be able to sit in the chamber and to intelligently follow the discussion on every item. If, however, the Government are determined to sit on Saturday, as well as on every other day, it will preclude honorable members from sitting here, and giving their undivided attention to the arguments, and also from performing their duty to their constituents.
– It will be for only two Saturdays.
– If it is determined by the House to sit on Saturdays, “ unless otherwise ordered,” I do not know how long that arrangement may last. We are expected to transact the business of the country with reasonable despatch, but that does not mean that we are to do an unreasonable thing - to rush and bullock the Tariff through without its receiving decent consideration. I suggest to the Government that, while they are prepared to consider the suggestions of honorable members who are opposed to them tooth and nail, and will do everything they can to discredit them and defeat their proposals, they ought also to be prepared to treat those who try to be fair to them in a sympathetic fashion.
– In view of certain remarks by the honorable member for Hunter, I think it will be wise for me to say a few words in reply. He must know that the consideration of certain items in the machinery section of the Tariff was deferred with the concurrence of the deputy leaderof the Opposition. The items were submitted to the honorable gentleman before their consideration was deferred, so that we could deal at once with those items which were not contentious. Only contentious items have been deferred.I do not think that the honorable member for Hunter intended to misrepresent, but I feel that he has misrepresented my attitude in regard to deferring items in, division VI. of the Tariff. The reason why the
Government wish honorable members to sit almost continuously until near Christmas is to get the Tariff put through this House, if possible, in order that the Senate - which will reassemble perhaps a month or six weeks before this House does, if honorable members do as we desire - may be able to deal with a large number of the items before we re-assemble. Our proposal is also made with a view to giving to honorable members a little rest. The Prime Minister has already stated that if we can get the Tariff put through this House by the second week in December, we shall probably adjourn until the end of February or the beginning of March.
– That has been said very plainly.
– Yes. I am prepared to sit day after day, except on Christmas Day and Sundays, but my feeling is that honorable members do not want to sit continuously, and it is only with a view to meet the general desire that the Government have submitted this proposal. I have had an analysis made of the remaining items in the Tariff, and the deputy leader of the Opposition has seen how it has been made. There are about118 items which are not very contentious. Some items are not contentious at all.
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman about that.
– That may be, but, according to a memorandum I have received from the Deputy ComptrollerGeneral, there are still 215 items to be dealt with ; of which 62 items are free ; 24 items, free with preference; and 129 items, dutiable. He considers that there are118 items which are practically noncontentious, and 97 items which are debatable.
Colonel Foxton. - Canthe honorable gentleman give us an analysis of the items which have been dealt with, for the purpose of making a comparison ?
– I think that more than one-half of the items in the Tariff have been dealt with.
Colonel Foxton. - In three months?
– We have spent only two months in dealing with the items.
– Those figures are not quite correct. In addition to the 129 dutiable items, we have to deal with a number of postponed items, and consider the items in divisions VI. a and VI. b.
– No, not the items in division VI.b
– The honorable gentleman is not going to proceed with that division?
– The House has affirmed the principle of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill and division VI. b in, the Tariff was only intended to be considered in case the grant of the iron bounty was not approved. At the present moment I do not see that we should deal with that division at all.
– But we have the postponed items to deal with.
– I have gone through the Tariff, and it seems to me that the memorandum I have read represents the position. Suppose that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is not passed by the Senate, we shall have to deal with division VI.b afterwards.
– Order !
– I only want to say a few words more, sir. I think that there has been very little waste of time. In the early days of the discussion of the Tariff items, many items of business cropped up. When we started in earnest to deal with the Tariff in detail, I gave my assurance that, so far as I was concerned, I would prevent its consideration from being interfered with, and, until this week, I think I may say that, practically, its consideration has not been interfered with. Of course, when the Senate decided to adjourn over a certain period, we had to submit some urgent business, and that is what has caused the loss of this week as regards the Tariff. However, if we sit day after day until the 13th, 14th, or 15th December, we shall have a good many days in which to deal with the Tariff. I am sure that a large majority of honorable members desire to get it through if possible by Christmas. I do not think that there will be any slumming. Reasonable discussion will, I am quite sure, take place. Unless we cannot otherwise get through with the business, I do not like to sit late at night. That, I think, should be obviated as far as possible.
– We cannot sit all day, and every day, and late at night too.
– Exactly. I hope that when we resume the consideration of the Tariff on Monday next, the attitude of honorable members generally will be so temperate thatwe shall not be compelled to sit late at night.
– Will the honorable gentleman endeavour to let us get away at11 p.m. ?
– Certainly. That I think is quite late enough unless there are very exceptional circumstances.
– It certainly is if we start at 10.30 a.m.
– Quite so. I should like to see honorable members leave a little earlier at night than11 o’clock, but I cannot promise not to sit later than that.
– Will the honorable gentleman explain why it is proposed to siton Monday at 10.30 a.m. and on Tuesday at 2.30 p.m.
– That is a matter in the hands of the Prime Minister. I hope that honorable members will see that the Government have been compelled to interrupt the consideration of the Tariff. I gave a promise to the deputy leader of the Opposition that I would ask honorable members to deal with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill before they dealt with division VI. of the Tariff. The consideraation of that measure occupied some time, and I am not complaining of the action of the leader of the Labour Party in moving the motion which he did. I know perfectly well what the desire of the party is. The Government do not blame them at all for what they did. As regards the mail contract the same influences had operated in the minds of honorable members, and we cannot complain of that. I hope that there will be no interference with the consideration of the Tariff until it is completed. I hope that honorable members will meet on Monday in a temper which will not compel us to ask them to sit late at night, certainly not after 11 o’clock, unless it is unavoidable.
– The speech which the Treasurer has just delivered reminds me of a very good story about a young barrister who appeared before the Court in order to argue a motion. When be concluded a very long speech, the Judge told him that they were entirely with him until they heard him. The Treasurer has just supplied us with data which have convinced me of the soundness of a general conclusion against himself to which I had previously inclined. He considers that no time has been wasted in the consideration of the Tariff. He admits that its consideration hasoccupied two months, and also that what is left represents one-half of the Tariff, apart from the postponed items. According to his own statement, therefore, we are asked to pass more than one-half of the Tariff in a few weeks.
– No; not quite onehalf.
– The honorable gentleman is going back on his own statement. That is always the difficulty when we have to deal with anything which he has said ; he interjects either that he did not say it or that he said it in another way.
– I said that we had dealt with more than one-half of the Tariff. The honorable gentleman misunderstood me.
– There are still 215 items to be dealt with, and we started with 400 items.
– We are wasting a lot of time this morning.
– That may be, but I am the best judge of what I am doing, and my constituents are the best judges of me. The honorable member quite mistakes his object if he supposes that any of his observations will affect, except to lengthen the time I shall take. The Treasurer has supplied data to show the House the utter absurdity of the proposal which the Government have submitted. He practically says that one-half of the Tariff has yet to be passed. I am of opinion that more than one-half of the Tariff has yet to be passed. The honorable gentleman has made the unsophisticated admission, no doubt with an argumentative purpose that theHouse, so far, has only dealt fairly with the Tariff, that the time has not been wasted, that the discussion was necessary, and that he has no comment of an adverse character to make upon it. What does it all mean? We have three weeks in which to deal with the remainder of the Tariff. The Treasurer is proposing to us that in three weeks we should dispose of exactly the same amount of business that we have disposed of in two months. That is not the only consideration. There is a much more serious one. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have held out to the House a sort of bribe as regards a holiday. They have said, “ If you complete the Tariff in the next three weeks we will let you off until the beginning of March. But if youdo not complete the Tariff during the next three weeks you must come here in February.”
– The honorable member knows why that statement was made by the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister needs no champion in the honorable member.
– He only said that in re ply to an inquiry.
– I know what the Prime Minister said, and I know how carefully he weighs his words; and the Treasurer has reiterated his statement.
– He only made the statement when he was asked a question from the opposite side.
– The honorable member has had some experience as Chairman of Committees, and therefore he ought to bea preceptor in the matter of observing order. The Prime Minister has offered that as a sort of bribe. “ You can have an extra month’s holiday,” he has said, “ if you will only push the Tariff through in three weeks, although we admit that in taking two months to deal with a similar quantity you did it reasonably and without unnecessary delay.”I have made up my mind at great personal loss and inconvenience to see the Tariff put through this House. I tell the Prime Minister and the Treasurer that I shall not give up one iota of my criticism on every item in the Tariff ; because I think that the Deputy Speaker has, as a member of this House, very carefully and very truly summarized the methods which have been adopted in putting the Tariff through. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that a great deal of matter, if not brought forward by the Government, has been connived at by them in order to push over the consideration of the Tariff until the last few weeks of the session. I have no hesitation in believing that it has been done in the hope by the Treasurer that we should be less inclined to debate the Tariff, and give him an opportunity of afterwards boasting to his constituents that he had managed to “bullock it through” somehow or other, and to say “ There is my Tariff.”
– That is a bit unkind, I think.
– We say many unkind things here, and think that we are justified. I generally agree with the honorable member for Kooyong as regards most of the statements which he makes, but I entirely disagree with him in criticising the speech of the honorable member for Coolgardie as one of “obstruction.” I think that the honorable member has given utterance to some exceedingly wholesome home truths, and they are emphasized very appropriately in what seems to be the leisurely atmosphere of a Saturday morning sitting. He has commented upon the way in which the hat duty was put through. I think it was the most reprehensible-
– Order !
– The most reprehensible feature in connexion with this or the last Tariff ; because, at the last moment, as every one knows, the whole situation was suddenly changed so that it was impossible to say what percentage was imposed.
– The matter was discussed all night.
– It may have teen, but the difficulty became a hopeless one, and to discuss it all night was the only means honorable members had of expressing their feelings as to a change of front made in such an objectionable manner.
– Order ! The honorable . member must not pursue that line of argument.
Mr.BRUCE SMITH.- The Government Whip has endeavoured to excuse himself in regard to the statements made fcv the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Order ! I expressly asked the honorable member for Bourke whether he was going to speak upon the personal explanation made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, because I saw that if I permitted him to do so it would lead to a general debate.
– I only wished to say that the Government Whip had paired the honorable member for Coolgardie up to 50 per cent. and then stopped.
– Order !
– You allowed the honorable member for Bourke to say what he wanted to say.
– I must point out that the honorable member for Bourke had a right to make a personal explanation at any time. He could even have made one in the middle of a debate.
-It is a great pity that his statement was made by way of personal explanation, and that he waspermitted in that way todirect an argument against me.
– I did not understand that the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke were directed against the honorable member. I understood that he merely desired to explain some conduct of his to which exception was taken.
– I hope you will admit, sir, that if in the course of a personal explanation an honorable member makes a statement Which misrepresents other honorable members, they should have an opportunity of pointingout the misrepresentation. I do not wish to go into the matter at all. I merely desire to say that the honorable member for Bourke made a statement from which inferences may be drawn - that he paired the honorable member for Coolgardie up to 50 per cent.
– Is that obeying the Chair ?
– I am not disobeying the Chair.
– The honorable member has been repeating his statement over and over again.
– Because I was interrupted by the Deputy Speaker calling me to order. I make no comment upon the fact to which I have called attention. It is a matter of inference, and I give every honorable member credit for sufficient intellectual agility to make that inference for himself. I desire to emphasize what I have said as to the action of the Government in putting this extraordinary proposition before us. It does not require any very high flight of imagination or any particular logical faculty to see the utter hopelessness of the Government proposal. The Minister admits that we have not wasted time in occupying two months over one-half of the Tariff, and now he says he will give us three weeks to pass the other half ; and that if we pass it we shall have an extra month’s holiday ; but that if we do not we shall have to come back again as early as the end of January or the beginning of February. I have only one other observation to make, and that is that I have been a little concerned about the shock thatour many late sittings must necessarily give to the principles of the Labour Party. Throughout their lives, honorable members ofthat partyhave been advocating the eight hours principle, and I heartily recognise the great sacrifice of principle which is involved in their sitting here so frequently beyond the ordinary hours.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I remained in attendance in the House last night and until we adjourned at an early hour this morning, and I came here again at the opening of the sittingthis morning anxious to put to the best use the two hours that I hoped were to be devoted to business. But, judging by present appearances, and by the word splitting indulged in by opponents not of the motion but of the Government, I recognise that it is useless to expectany good to result from our meeting to-day.
– We hate hypocrisy. Let the Government say what they really mean.
– The honorable member has taken up a considerable portion of our valuable time in repeating over and over again his so-called arguments.
– Because the honorable member did not understand my first statement.
– The honorable member was not addressing his remarks to me. He knows that, so far as most of his opinions are concerned, it is absolutely useless for him to attempt to convert me to them.
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member is not prepared to hearken to the voice of reason.
– Not to the so-called reason of the honorable member for Parkes. I and the people of Australia generally know him too well to expect to find reason in his arguments. I deplore the lamentable waste of time that has occurred this morning, and after listening to the speeches of not only those who are opposed to the motion, but those who are in favour of it, have come to the conclusion that we are not likely to do any business to-day, and that it is just as well that I should take my departure. I, therefore, wish honorable members a very good day.
.- As one who is somewhat affected by the remarks that have been made in regard to the question of pairing, I wish to make a personal explanation. I have more than once thought that confusion was likely to arise from the system of entering pairs, and have suggested that, in order to avoid mistakes when practicable, the subject itself on which honorable members paired should be entered in the pair book. It appears, however, that it has not been the practice to do so, and I have given way to those having greater experience of these matters than I have.
– But could the system suggested by the honorable member be successfully carried out ?
– Not in every case. As to the position of the honorable member for Coolgardie some difficulty has arisen in arranging pairs, and it has sometimes been found advisable in order that every honorable member called away from the House should be fairly treated, to substitute one name for another in the pairs, rather than to exclude altogether from the lists the names of some honorable members. A great deal of difficulty has arisen especially in connexion with divisions that have taken place in rapid succession. On some occasions five or six divisions have followed rapidly upon each other without debate, and it has been practically impossible to do anything like justice to the work of entering, or even deciding pairs. Some amendments are of a more or less complex and varied character, and absent members have had no opportunity of declaring themselves regarding them.
– We have also had to deal with amendments of which no notice had been given.
– Yes. In order to overcome the difficulty, honorable members should arrange their own pairs and definitely acquaint the whips as to the subject to which they desire their pairs to apply. The whips cannot be expected to know what is in the mind of every honorable member with regard to a succession of complicated amendments. In dealing with the pairing of the honorable member for Coolgardie on the hat duties, the honorable member for Bourke said that it was a matter of pairing him as a free-trader in favour of a duty of 75 per cent., and that he did not think he would be justified in doing so. He forgot to mention, however, that the division was on the question of whether the duty should be 75 per cent. ad valorem, or a fixed duty equal to 150 per cent, ad valorem, and that the honorable member was not paired on the amendments for fixed duties on hats at 17s. 6d., 20s., 21s., and 22s.6d.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
RABBIT DESTRUCTION : Dr. DANYSZ’S EXPERIMENTS.
– I have received, since the matter was called attention to this morning , the report of Dr. Tidswell, which I lay now upon the table of the House.
– Is it identical with the report that appeared in the press this morning ?
– I assume that it is. The conclusions are summed up in two short sentences -
In the last paragraph of the report Dr. Tidswell points out -
The results of the observations are of a reassuring character. We are no longer confronted with the mysterious microbe of unknown potentialities, but with the ordinary bacillus of rabbit septicæmia with which bacteriologists have been familiar for the last thirty years. Consequently there need be no apprehension of danger to human beings, whilst the risk to other animals is remote.
I move -
That the document be printed.
As the Prime Minister has omitted to move that the document be printed, I beg to submit the motion. Some time ago the New South Wales Government offered a reward of£25,000 for the discovery of a disease which would exterminate rabbits without being communicable to human beings. Amongst those who competed for that reward was M. Pasteur, the French savant, who sent out two representatives to Australia. To facilitate their experiments the Government established a station on Rodd Island in Sydney Harbor. Rabbits were obtained from the interior of New South Wales, and an expert bacteriologist was employed to test the experiments made by these gentlemen from France. The result was that upon that small island it was proved that the disease known as “chicken cholera” was not altogether efficacious in destroying rabbits. A long series of experiments demonstrated that whilst about seven out of twelve healthy rabbits contracted the disease automatically from an infected rabbit, the remaining five were immune. The New South Wales Government therefore concludedthat chicken cholera was not a suitable disease with which to inoculate rabbits. But the representatives from France nevertheless de manded that further experiments should be conducted. They asked the Government to allow these to be made in the open country. The Government naturally concluded that if on a small area like Rodd Island their experiment was a comparative failure, it was not likely to be successful in the open country. The very properly refused to permit the experiment to be made, because they recognised that if the disease were propagated in the open it would be impossible to confine it to reasonable limits .
– I have been following the remarks of the honorable member for some time with a view to ascertain whether he intends to connect them with the motion for the printing of the report.
– I am just about to do so. The experiments which have previously been conducted in New South Wales should be of the utmost benefit to us. To complete the literature available in connexion with rabbit extermination the document presented by the Prime Minister should be printed. I would remind the House that though the residents of our cities are not directly interested in this question, it is one of vital moment to our farmers and pastoralists. Although many people find rabbit-trapping a lucrative business, we must recollect that sheep-growing is more profitable. We shall very probably obtain a great deal of information from the document which the Prime Minister has laid upon the table. I was very pleased to hear some of the concluding sentences which he read from that report. I regret that he has not had the paper printed upon his own initiative and distributed amongst honorable members. At the same time I think that the House has reason to complain that too frequently printed documents and reports find their way into the public press before they have been laid upon the table of the House. I do not say that that has happened in this particular instance.
– It appears in the newspapers this morning.
– It was telegraphed, from Sydney.
– That is an instance of the enterprise of the Sydney representatives of the Melbourne journals.
– A duplicate of the report was presented to the New South Wales Government last evening, and its contents were evidently communicated to the press there.
– That does not affect my statement that very frequently the contents of documents are published in the press before honorable members have been made acacquainted with them. A rather remarkable and even audacious instance occurred in connexion with the publication of information concerning the report of the Stamp Board. Before that report reached the Minister, or simultaneously with his receipt of the document, the substance of it, with portraits of the members of the Board, actually appeared in a Sydney publication. I do not know what the Postmaster-General thinks about that, but I hope he will sift the matter to the bottom and find out who was responsible.
– I think it was disgraceful. We are fully aware of the culprit, and are considering what steps can be taken.
– Other Ministers might with advantage follow the course proposed to be adopted by the Postmaster-General. The printing of a document is not usually a debatable question, and it is unnecessary to furnish other reasons why this paper should be printed and circulated. It is of the utmost importance that we should have the fullest possible information on this question of rabbit extermination. Wool is, I believe, our most valuable article of export, and anything which would injuriously affect the pastoral industry of Australia must react upon the whole community.
– What about the rabbittrappers ?
– I have dealt with that aspect of the question. However valuable the industry in which rabbit-trappers are engaged may be, it is not, I think, to be compared with the industry menaced by the existence of the rabbit. If this report adds to our knowledge of dealing with the pest, it should be of great service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I am ready to go on with the business of the House, but I have been informed that it is not at all likely that there will be a quorum after lunch. That being so, it would be a farce to consider the Tariff for five or ten minutes, and I do not wish to keep honorable members here in the circumstances. I therefore move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.Fisher. - What will be the business taken on Monday ?
– The Tariff.
– Anything else?
– Not that I am aware of.
– I wish to say with what utter disgust I view the whole of the proceedings this morning. A week ago the Government announced their intention that the House should sit on Saturdays and Mondays, and honorable members, having made all their arrangements to be here,find that on the first occasion on which an attempt is made to give effect to their expressed intention, the Government are unable to conduct the business. It seems to me that it is about time that members of the Government looked round to see where they are.
– We know where we are perfectly well.
– The honorable member has been looking round a good while.
– I hope I shall look round a good deal longer before I reach the depths of degradation to which the Government have cone.
– I hope I shall look round all my political life before doing that. I can conceive of nothing which more clearly shows the depths to which the Government have descended than the pitiable spectacle which is almost every day exhibited in this House. If the Government cannot do business, they should not have brought us here.
– The honorable member is making a great fuss about having to stop here at the end of one week.
– I am. I say that I have no right to be kept here unless the Government are going to do business. I therefore protest most strongly against the degrading spectacle we have witnessed to-day.
– I am very much disappointed to hear that we are not to go on with the business of the country. I was induced to remain in Melbourne last night in the expectation that we should put in a good day’s work on the Tariff to-day, only to find that the whole of the morning has been wasted. I think the Government might have shown a little more backbone and better generalship. Honorable members might just as well be at work on the business of the country as hanging about here doing nothing. I protest against this wasted day. If the Government desire my assistance, they should keep their word with me. I was assured that the Tariff would be proceeded with to-day, and remained in Melbourne with that hope and expectation. I think that we should sit every day in the week, with the exception of Sunday in order to get the Tariff throup-h. I believe that, by continuous application to the business, we should get through our work more satisfactorily, and more expeditiously, than we can hope to do by intermittent sittings.
– Does the honorable member think that we can get rid of the rest of the Tariff in three weeks?
– I do not know that we can finish the Tariff in the time stated ; but we should have regular, and not intermittent, sittings.
.- When the Treasurer replies, I hope he will give honorable members some information as to why he proposes to proceed with the metals and machinery division of the Tariff before the Manufactures Encouragement Bill has been passed.
– That was agreed upon. The Treasurer said he only wanted a test vote on. the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– I said long ago that I wished to take a test vote on the Bill.
– The test vote has been taken, and the second reading of the Bill was carried but not by an overwhelming majority. I am of opinion that it would be well for honorable members to know in what form the Bill is likely to be passed before they proceed with the consideration of the Tariff. Without trespassing upon the business of the Committee of Ways and Means, I might be allowed to say that the form in which the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is passed would have an important bearing upon the manner in which we should deal with certain items inthe metals and machinery division of the Tariff.
– Order. The honorable member must not discuss the Tariff.
– There might be alterations in another place.
– That is so, but I am concerned with the alterations that might be made here. I think it would be more satisfactory that we should know what is to become of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and it wouldnot interfere with the business of the House if we had the information before we resumed the consideration of the Tariff. I ask the Treasurer to give some consideration to the matter.
– would not have been in order for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to enter into details; but I think I thoroughly understand what he means. Some time ago, in answer to a query put to me by the deputy-leader of the Opposition, I stated that I proposed to interrupt the consideration of the Tariff by taking a test vote on the Manufactures Encouragement Bill before we dealt with division VI. I said that then I would proceed with the division and with the remainder of the Tariff, until completed, and ask the House to deal with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill finally before the Tariff was sent away from this House. I desire to be practical in this matter, and if I did what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie suggests, and brought the Bill on now with the Tariff still waiting to be got through, how long do honorable members think it would take, judging by the experience we have had, to finish the Bill ?
– It would take until Christmas.
– The honorable member is quite right. I therefore do not want to bring anything else on to interfere with the consideration of the Tariff. I amquite satisfied with the test vote that was taken as to the principle of the Bill, but I will saythis to honorable members -I had not intended to say it to-day - that I will ask them to deal with the items in the Tariff as though the. Manufactures EncouragementPill had passed, and afterwards, if the Bill does not pass, or any alteration is made in it in a way that would affect any one item, I shall recommit that item to bring it into harmony with the Bill.
– Is it the Treasurer’s intention to put the Bill through in addition to the Tariff before Christmas?
– Yes; if possible.
– Then why not take the Bill first?
– Because it would take all the time. It would be a gain, I admit, if we could send the Bill to the Senate along with the Tariff.
– Does the honorable member mean to ask the House to put the Bill through before Christmas?
– If we complete the Tariff in time, I shall certainly hope to send the Bill up with it.
– But the honorable member said just now that if the Bill was brought on its consideration would take till Christmas.
– Yes ; if honorable members opposite found that they could block the Tariff with it.
– I voted for it.
– I know that the honorable member would use it in every possible way to prevent the Tariff from coming on. The deputy leader of the Opposition has just made a nice little speech, containing an attack on the Government, to be published in the Sydney papers. The honorable member laughs at his own audacity, now that I have exposed the reason why he made that speech. I hope that my statement will also be pub- . lished in the Sydney papers.
– I laugh because I have an impression now that the Government could get a quorum this afternoon.
– I am not going to risk it. I am not going on with a quorum of enemies only. I do not wish to say anything harsh or disagreeable, because I want honorable members to work harmoniously together until we finish the Tariff. I am informed that there would not be a quorum after lunch, and I do not want to act the hypocrite by coming here and saying that I’ am ready to go on with business, if there is no reasonable prospect of a quorum.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071123_reps_3_42/>.