3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Recognition of Union Officials. - Telegrams : Delayed Transmission. - Saturday Half-Holiday
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he upholds the position taken up by the Public Service Commissioner that an officer of a union, who is not a member of the service, shall not take part in a deputation to thehead of the Department?
– The question cannot be answered by a plain “Yes” or “No.” There are some dozens of unions, and if they all had an unofficial secretary the work of the Department would practically be rendered impossible. I have expressed the opinion that if these unions were united - one for each section of the service - the work would be so great that an ordinary official could not attend to it, and that some one who would do the work thoroughly would have to be recognised by the Commissioner.
– I would ask the PostmasterGeneral, in further reference to the question that I put to him yesterday regarding the delay in the transmission of telegrams from the southern States to Queensland and the north, what steps have actually been taken to duplicate the lines.
– Preliminary steps have already been taken.
– I have a question to put to the Postmaster-General. Mr. Ben Tillett has brought under my notice that, whereas the postal parcels office closes at 12 o’clock, and the money -order office at 1 o’clock, on Saturdays, officers are kept in attendance at the General Post Office, Melbourne, until 6 p.m., to deliver letters addressed there. As most business places in the city are closed on Saturday afternoon, can the Minister see his way clear to give these officers a half -holiday ?
– It has been my policy to close as many offices as possible at 6 p.m., and to extend the half -holiday principle, but I find that the public are exceedingly unreasonable. We have just received a petition to extend, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the closing hour of a telegraph office at which, in those hours, during the last six months, only two telegrams have been lodged. I shall certainly extend the half-holiday principle as far as possible to all the employés of the Department.
Statement by Mr. O. C. Beale.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen the following statement, attributed to Mr. O. C. Beale, in the report of an interview with that gentleman, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 13th December last -
There is one matter that calls for a very searching investigation that I should like to refer to, and that is, that a large Sum of money has been subscribed in Australia by Foreign merchants in the Piano Trade, for the purpose of influencing Parliament, by representations or otherwise.
As this is a serious reflection on Parliament, amounting to an indirect charge of corruption, against honorable members, will the Prime Minister call upon Mr. Beale to make a direct charge for the purpose of investigation, or to apologize for his base insinuations against the integrity of this Parliament ?
– I had not seen the statement referred to; my knowledge of it is derived from listening to the honorable member. So far as I can gather, the charge was that certain piano sellers intended to do something to influence Parliament by representations or other means.
– Does any one believe the statement ?
– That consideration is immaterial’, so far as my answer to the question is concerned, because, unless the statement is a reflection on . Parliament, it does not affect us. It remains . for the piano vendors concerned to take any action they think fit.
– I wish to ask the Minister, representing the Minister of Home Affairs, whether he will call the attention of the Department to the extraordinary inaccurracy of the . weather forecasts issued for South Australia since the meteorologist’s branch was taken over by the Commonwealth, and if he will obtain a report as to the advisableness of resuming the issue of local forecasts as before?
– I shall draw the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to the honorable member’s question, and obtain an answer.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to provide an opportunity for the consideration of private members’ business in the ordinary way ? Will he submit at an early date the neces-sary motion?
– That will depend en,tirely on the progress made: I shall be glad to do so when business permits.
Defence Estimates - National Guard - Registration of Rifle Clubs - Defence Policy
– I wish to ask the. Minister of Defence whether the opinion of the Military Board has been sought or obtained with regard to the estimates of expenditure in connexion with the organization, mobilization, and equipment of the proposed National Guard?
– The Chief Accountant of the Department, is now dealing fully with that question.
– I asked whether the opinion of the Military Board had been obtained.
– Its opinion’ as a Board has not. - If I inform the honorable member definitely that I have, not consulted the Board, I discover that a Minister should always adopt the views of his officers. On the other hand, if I say that I have done so, I am ‘ told that the House does not want a Minister without initiative.
– Then the honorable member can understand- mv difficulty in regard to “Yes-no.”
– I do. I discuss these matters with the members of the Board, and cannot recall any permanent officer who does not agree with the Government in general principles- upon this matter’.
– The honorable member has not submitted the matter to the Board inks corporate capacity?
– No j and I doubt very ‘ much whether at this stage it can be regarded as having any bearing upon the work of, the Board.’- In administration, figures are dealt with by the Chief Accountant. The various heads of Departments deal with the matters which have been relegated to them.
– Is the Minister of Defence able to make any statement with reference to an allegation that the Department has refused to register the formation of a rifle club at West Shelbourne?
– I. informed the honorable member last night that I would endeavour to ascertain the facts! The officers who deal with this branch of the service have informed, me. that they have no information with regard to the case. ‘ I should be. glad if the honorable member would supply me with the source of his information that the Department object to the registration of rifle clubs. He will remember that the Prime Minister, in outlining the defence scheme to the House, said that not only did we intend to continue the rifle club movement, but that the Estimates to be submitted would provide for a sum of ^10,000 in excess of the amount now voted for that purpose.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether the opinion of the officers and rank and file of the Defence Forces generally, including cadets, is being sought upon the Government military policy, or upon the best method of executing that policy? If it be the latter, in what way are officers and the rank and file -of our Defence Forces, better qualified’ to offer advice than is the Inspector-General or responsible bodies like, the Military Board and the Council of Defence?
– Will the honorable member be good enough to hand me his question?
– - I have -no objection to repeating it.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether it is a fact that the Government have promised the honorable member for Gwydir that the question of the Federal Capital site will not be considered by Parliament until he has made a second visit to another site which he has in view, and that, as a result, they are quite unable to proceed with the Bill dealing with the matter?
– At the close of last session, the honorable member for Gwydir endeavoured to arrange for honorable members to pay a visit of inspection to the site at Tooma.
– He arranged two trips, both of which fell through.
– At that “time, owing to the pressure of public business, and the desire of honorable members to take at least one day, if not two, from the sittings of the House to enable them to make the proposed visit, the Government interposed and objected to this concession of the public time. The honorable member has since renewed his application, and ‘he has been informed that, if honorable members desire to inspect the Tooma site, the Government will, as far as possible facilitate their visit. No promise whatever has been made in reference to proceeding with the Seat of Government Bill.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that: the selection of a Federal Capital Site is to be hung up for six months, as stated by the Treasurer, until the honorable member for Gwydir has organized a visit ‘of inspection to the site at Tooma?
– It used to be said by Artemus Ward that certain things were “ spoke sarcastic.” I think that phrase explains the nature of the interjection asto which the honorable member questions me.
– Following up the question I have already asked, I desire to know whether the Prime Minister approves of the levity of the Treasurer. Do the Government regard it as a joke to set at defiance the people of New South Wales in their desire to have this question settled within a reasonable period? Will the Prime Minister take an early opportunity of stating when the Government will- be prepared to proceed with this matter?
– I have already received notice from the leader of the Opposition that he proposes to ask a similar question to-day. I, therefore, ask the honorable member for Robertson to allow me to postpone my reply.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the necessity for the early construction of the transcontinental railway - I mean the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie - he will consider the advisablity of getting additional information concerning Mr. Louis Brennan’s invention of the mono rail, and the application of the gyroscope to rolling stock travelling upon it. I understand that the Admiralty authorities have recently set apart a sum of £5, 000 for the purpose of carrying out experiments in connexion with the use of the gyroscope on vessels at sea. Will the honorable gentleman obtain the fullest particulars regarding this invention, so that, before the Bill authorizing the construction of the transcontinental railway is submitted to Parliament, honorable members may know all about it.
– The invention of Mr. Brennan is now world famous, and many articles, illustrated and otherwise, have appeared in connexion with it. It attracted so much attention that, whilst wewere in London, my honorable colleague the Treasurer endeavoured to find time to inspect a working model of it. But, unfortunately, this proved impossible owing to his early departure. Whilst in England, I was informed, on practically official authority, that the Government of India thought so highly of the invention that they were prepared to expend a considerable sum upon the construction of a trial line. Having regard to the cost of. the working of the mono-rail system, itwould be a matter of the utmost importance to us to adopt it if it should prove successful. But, as far as I am aware, a trial upon an actual working scale has not yet been made.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government to establish official stations for the taking of shade temperatures in order to remove the inconsistencies which have arisen since the appointment of a Commonwealth Meteorologist?
– To what inconsistencies does the honorable member refer?
– To inconsistencies in connexion with the registration of shade temperatures in various districts. For instance, upon the Murray, the shade registrations throughout the present year have been 10 degrees and 12 degrees lower than registrations in places from 120 to 200 miles south. These inconsistencies, which are very misleading to the public, and are calculated to do certain areas great injury, are due to the fact that no proper stations for the registration of shade temperatures have been established. 1 therefore wish to know whether it is intended to establish proper stations for the registration of shade temperatures in the northern districts of Victoria ?
– I understand that the Minister of Home Affairs has the matter to which the honorable member alludes under consideration. I will bring his question under the notice of my colleague, and will endeavour to supply the desired information to-morrow.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a paragraph which appears in a journal published in Sydney, and which reflects upon every honorable member of this House. I wish also to point out that the paragraph in question was not published until the House had risen for the Christmas adjournment. Consequently the present is the earliest opportunity that I have had of directing attention to it. It reads -
A curious list drifts round Federal Parliament House. It purports to show the names of two members, both Tories, who got £2,000 apiece for changing their views about the necessity for taxing the Standard Oil Trust’s kerosene ; of a third Tory who was bought by being put into a nice corpulent spec, and of a fourth Tory who took the price of the betrayal of his country in a different form, but took it all the same. Certainly, a person who has openly alleged to be the emissary of Standard Oil was lobbying most industriously, and there was a sudden and amazing falling away among those who wanted to reserve the Australian market for the British Company’s oil, and the Four, regarding whom suspicion now stinks to Heaven, are said to have not only changed their own views, but to have toiled enthusiastically to make converts to the doctrine of free-trade for the Monopoly’s oil.
– In what journal is that paragraph printed?
– In the Sydney Bulletin of 16th January of the present year. I wish to ask thePrime Minister whether he intends to allow a reflection of that sort to rest upon every honorable member of this House? I, for one, object to be branded in that way in the public press. There are means of dealing with men who publish innuendoes of that sort, and I ask the Prime Minister what he intends to do in reference to the matter ?
– The paragraph to which the honorable member has directed attention was brought under my notice by letter from Sydney during the latter portion of last month. I replied at once, inquiring why our notice had not been directed to it previously, whether there was any further information making the charge more definite, and why it had been left until this time to be brought under notice. To that, speaking from memory, we have received no answer. Parliament, of course, has not been sitting since it was published. The charge contained in the paragraiph is a most serious one, but of the most general character. It uses a party name with which we are not familiar - the Tory Party - and it is a matter of individual opinion as to what part of this House that term, applies. There is no indication of any kind to what individual members this statement relates. Under these circumstances, it rests with the
House, if sufficiently aggrieved, to call the editor of that publication to answer for this general indictment. Whether the dignity of Parliament is served by taking notice of such wild imaginations is always a matter for grave consideration. We have known in this State, and elsewhere, editors and publishers brought to the Bar, but we have rarely, if ever, seen any good results follow from the proceedings. In this case, as in any other, if some convenient means could be devised by which, without the antiquated procedure that at present obtains, this House could provide for its protection in the future against particular or wholesale slanders - of which this is by no means the only or the most damaging that could be cited from the press - we should have some prospect of making those responsible suffer for it in a legal and just way so as to forbid them for the future. But every one who has had any experience in connexion with legislative bodies, and of charges of this character, shrinks from taking the only steps now available, seeing that the almost invariable result is nothing but a great public advertisement of the scandal complained of and some admonition to the offender without any appreciable effect. Therefore at this date, after the publication and with such a general charge, I think it may be reasonably questioned whether we have anything to gain by proceeding further.
Mr.Liddell. - There has been a long interval, because the paragraph was not published until Parliament had risen.
– No attention was officially called to the matter until, as I have said, past the middle of last month, when four to six weeks had elapsed. So far as my memory serves, no further particulars or repetition of the charges was forthcoming. I do feel, however, that the time has arrived when this House is called upon to consider the constant imputations which are recklessly and vaguely levelled against honorable members, and sometimes against public officials. We should see whether some adequate mechanism cannot be devised for dealing with the offenders without distinction and with the necessary penalties. I shall take an opportunity of consulting my colleagues, and am prepared to advise them to appoint a small Committee to consider a method of procedure by which, without adding to the notoriety dear to some slanderers, we may bring them before a proper tribunal, and deal with them in an efficient manner.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether any provision is made in the Supplementary Estimates for the erection of a copper wire between Wollongong and Sydney ?
– The Supplementary Estimates are under consideration, and all the provision that the funds will permit will be made. I am not able to say definitely whether the wire mentioned will be included, but the provision asked for will be made if it be possible.
– I desire to ask the
Postmaster-General, without notice, whether the cable between the mainland and Tasmania has been purchased by the Government, and, if not, whether provision will be made for completing a new cable in view of the expiration of the present contract with the Eastern Extension Company ?
– Steps have been taken to call for tenders for a new cable, the Eastern Extension Company not being willing to comply with the conditions the Government thought necessary to lay down for the purchase of the present cable.
– I desire to ask. the Prime Minister, without notice, what steps the Government intend to take to give preferential trade to the New Hebrides, and other islands of the Pacific, as promised when this question was last debated.
– As soon as the Tariff has been passed by both Houses my colleague will introduce proposals dealing with this subject, and some similar proposals which have been postponed.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether he can give us any information with regard to the proposed marine survey of the north-west coast of Australia. When is the survey likely to be commenced ?
– We have communicated with the Admiralty, and, speaking from memory, I should say a reply has not yet been received. If one has been received, I shall give the right honorable member the desired information to-morrow.
– In this connexion, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered the advisableness of providing an Australian survey ship, and not loafing on the Admiralty for the surveys of our coast.
– It is not a question of an Australian ship merely. We require the well-trained staff which the Admiralty possess.
– Doubtless, the Admiralty would lend us some members of that staff to commence with.
– To make our own surveys would cost £20,000 a year.
– The Admiralty survey is the standard survey for all the world.
– We ought to pay the cost of the survey anyway.
– We propose to pay part of the cost.
– In a note which I sent the Prime Minister yesterday, I told him I intended to ask him to make a short statement to-day as to the course of public business.
– The course of public business is determined by one factor, which, at the present time, unfortunately, remains of an indeterminate character, namely, the return of the Tariff, with suggestions from the other Chamber. We are at present unable to say whether the Tariff will be returned to us in three, four, five, or six weeks, and, consequently, any forecast as to public business must be subject to that possible variation. The business proposed, to be dealt with roughly follows the order of the first items on the notice-paper. The Quarantine Bill has already passed both Houses, and, as only the amendments made by the Senate remain to be dealt with, that measure ought to be rapidly disposed of. Then we have Supply, which, of course, includes the whole of the Estimates. Ten months of the year have expired, and they must be disposed of before the end of June.’ The Australian Industries Preservation Bill - the third order of the day - comes to us from the Senate, and is a very short measure. Then follows the Papua Bill, a slight, formal measure, whose consideration can be postponed until any convenient opportunity. The fifth order of the day is the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which we expect to be able to further consider in Committee very shortly-when the Senate has dealt with the section of the Tariff relating to it. The Commerce Trade Description Bill, the Marine Insurance Bill, and the resumption of the Committee of Ways and Means, can be handled at convenience. Then comes the Seat of Government Bill, the measure which I understand the honorable and learned gentleman to have chiefly in mind. The only legislation to be introduced in addition to the list on the noticepaper, so far as I am now aware, is a Bill for dealing with the surplus funds returnable to the States. It would have been laid on the table to-day were it not for the fact that the Attorney- General has been too engrossed in the cases in the High Court, to which the Commonwealth is a party, to be able to complete its final revision ; but the Treasurer will give notice of it to-day. It is a short but important measure, which must be dealt with before the Tariff is returned to us, and passed into law before June. The consideration of the Estimates and the Additional Estimates, also urgent, can be arranged to meet the wishes of the House. Now, as to time. The first two measures on thebusiness-paper need not detain us very long. The discussion of the Australian Industries Preservation Bill should occupy, at most, two or three evenings.
– Quite as long as that.
– I hope not much, if any, longer. Supply ought not to call for much debate at this stage. Therefore, we shall probably be able to discuss the Seat of Government Bill at the end of a. fortnight, or possibly after three weeks. The Bill relating to the surplus funds returnable to the States, though short, is important, and may occupy more time than I have allowed for; but, even if we leave a month for these measures, unless there is much more expedition in another place in dealing with the Tariff, it is probable that we shall be able to dispose of the Seat of Government Bill as well before that measure is returned to us. If we saw that it could not be disposed of before the consideration of the Senate’s requests in connexion with the Customs Tariff Bill had to be undertaken, it would be wise to postpone it, because it is not desirable to have a break in its consideration.
– When shall we get the Postal Rates Bill?
– The second reading has not been moved, but I have every reason to hope that, with the enthusiastic support of the honorable member, we shall easily carry it. If the Capital Site question is not dealt with before the Customs Tariff Bill is returned by the Senate, I shall ask the House to deal with it after the Senate’s requests have been disposed of, that is, assuming it to be possible to cope- with it this session. It will be of great advantage to us, if we are going to close, to dispose of it before separating, so that we may meet next session with a clear run for our financial and defence proposals.
– Does the Prime Minister suggest any difficulties other than want of time? Its consideration took only a couple of nights on a former occasion.
– On the last occasion its consideration occupied more than a fortnight. There are many delays which may arise, because of the peculiar complications which it presents. Members have first, second, and third preferences, divisions of opinion exist among all parties in regard to every site, and the tactics by which they hope to defeat other sites. Then there are proposals already on the notice-paper - though I do not expect them to be brought forward - for an alteration of the Constitution in this regard. Anything may happen in this way to introduce unforeseen embarrassments. If we deal with the Quarantine Bill and other measures as rapidly as we dealt with certain measures in the early part of the session, I see no reason why we should ‘not pass the Seat of Government Bill this session. In some correspondence which took place . a little while ago, my hopes were not so sanguine, because I thought that the matter would probably have to go over until next session. If weare fortunate ingetting a good run of business, there is no reason why it should not. be tackled this session.
– I wish to refer to the Ministerial statement, a right which from time immemorial has been allowed to the leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable member asked a question in the time allotted for the asking of questions without notice, and he has received a reply in the ordinary way. Had I understood the Prime Minister to be making a Ministerial statement, I should have asked him to conclude with a motion, to enable debate to take place upon it. As he was merely replying to a. question, I must now call upon the honorable member for Echuca, who rose before the honorable member for East Sydney, or, if the Prime Minister pleases, I will regard him as not having resumed his seat, and give him the opportunity,’ by- laying a paper on the table, to conclude with a motion.
– I invite the indulgence of the House for the leader of the Opposition.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member for East Sydney have leave to speak?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– My request was that the Prime Minister should make a statement, not to me, butto the House, as to the probable course of business during the remainder of the session. It is of great help to honorable members to have, from the only authority which can give us a reliable ‘ forecast, a statement of the intentions of the Government in regard to public business ; and I am glad that the Prime Minister recognised this by promptly acceding to my request. My remarks will not be controversial, becauseI think that such a speech would be foreign to the occasion ; I wish merely to make a few observations, entirely free from party spirit, on the progress of public business. The Prime Minister - perhaps because the situation of affairs prevented him - has unfortunately not dealt with one very important question. He has not told us whether he intends a short time hence merely to follow the practice adopted just prior to Christmas, and adjourn for a month or two-
– I spoke of the close of the session.
– The honorable gentleman did not makeit clear whether he meant a prorogation of a couple of months, followed by a new session in September, or merely an adjournment, allowing the present session to extend from last July until next December.
– I intimated that I hoped that the session would close soon ; but it is quite possible that the prorogation will have to be postponed as suggested.
– Then I may take it that the state of public business leaves it open to the Government to decide whether there is to be a new session after a prorogation two or three months hence, or merely an adjournment. The Government leaves that open.
– Yes, until we know when we shall get the .Customs Tariff Bill from the Senate.
– There were one or two very important, though perhaps inadvertent, omissions from the Prime Minister’s statement, one of the most sti iking being the lack of a reference to measures to give effect to the new protection. The honorable gentleman will remember that the Government made that rather novel, but most important, departure an essential part of their Tariff policy.
– - He said yesterday that it is still so.
– I think we are all agreed as to its importance. Am I to understand that when the Prime Minister spoke of the Tariff he had in mind the -Tariff as connected with the system of new protection ?’
– Hear, hear.
– That removes one difficulty. We shall have a very considerable volume of business relating to the Tariff and that very important matter to dispose of. May I suggest to the earnest consideration of the Government that they should avoid as far as possible departing from understandings arrived at between the Government and this House in connexion with the rates of duties? It will he most inconvenient if we discover, when byandby the Tariff is returned to us, that the Minister in charge of it in another place has departed from the understandings which the Treasurer arrived at with this House in regard to certain duties. In dealing with this Tariff by-and-by we shall have troubles enough without having what I might call a high temperature engendered as the result of an arrangement arrived at between the Committee of this House and the Government being overridden by a member of the Government in. another place. ‘ Unless the Cabinet speaks with one voice in dealing with the Tariff the normal -difficulties of the situation will be immensely increased, and honorable members who are opposed to the Government in. this House will have scope to put one member of the Ministry against another in connexion with these important matters. That would be very undesirable. I hope that when the Tariff comes back to us the arrangements which have been made between the Government and members of the Committee of this House will be honorably observed. If the new protection scheme fails and cannot be proceeded with, I presume that honorable members who have been dealing with the Tariff on the basis of that important system will not treat it as being precisely the same without the new7 protection. I presume that the establishment of the new protection has entered seriously ‘ into the consideration of honorable members in connexion with the imposition of duties. I feel sure that they will review the situation if the new protection scheme cannot be proceeded with. The Prime Minister very properly promised us that the Committee would have an opportunity to review the position if such a situation arose. I come now to the question of the Seat of Government. The constant iteration of the demand for settlement of the question may .occasionally present to some honorable members a more or Jess humorous aspect. But putting aside those passing humours, I feel that since; the Government and the House have determined to deal with the matter one way or another, the sooner it is out of the way the better. It has been a disturbing influence in the course of our legislation for the last eight years, and since the Government have practically pledged themselves to deal with it within the next two or three weeks, or very soon afterwards, I would strongly urge them to ask the House to dispose of it before the Tariff is returned to us. I take the Government to be sincere in their statement that they propose to get it out of the way this session. There will be ample time to do so before the Tariff is returned from another place, and I hope I am representing the general feeling of the House when I say that it should be dealt with within the next three weeks. That would give every honorable member who wishes to revisit the suggested sites, or to visit them for the first time, a reasonable opportunity to do so during the next two week-ends.
– What procedure does the right honorable member suggest ?
– It is much better that the procedure to be adopted in settling the question should be decided by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. I made one suggestion yesterday, but think it would he unfair to advance any other suggestion before the Government hae stated their intention. I look to them to determine upon a method of procedure which will leave every honorable member perfectly free to vote as he pleases.
– The great thing is to get a definite date fixed for the consideration of this matter.
– Certainly; but I accept the Prime Minister’s statement that it will be dealt with within the next two or three weeks, and am pointing out that we can dispose of it before the Tariff is returned to us.
– I do not want to encourage delay elsewhere on that account in dealing with the Tariff.
– There is yet a great deal of work to be done in connexion with the Tariff. I cordially agree with the view of the Prime Minister that the Quarantine Bill should be got out of the way. It is practically finished, and should have been disposed of years ago. The Government will find very little difficulty in passing it through its remaining stages. The Additional Estimates are very important. I do not know their nature, but do not suppose that they raise any large question of public policy. That being so, their consideration should not take long. The Prime Minister did not say. anything about the Defence scheme, but I suppose that was a mere omission.
– Not about the Bill.
– The defence scheme for the present seems to be put aside. Although I differ from the Prime Minister, 1 thoroughly recognise the service which he has rendered in bringing this question to the forefront of practical politics. However much we may differ from his views on the question, we must nil do that. Whilst the future scheme remains in abeyance, I hope that the Prime Minister will not suspend or impair the existing system, but that the fullest encouragement will be given to the rifle clubs, the militia and the volunteer forces, and that recruiting will be encouraged in every possible way. Those are lines upon which we all agree. We am agreed as to the .importance of defence; we differ only as to the precise methods to he adopted. Pending the settlement of the question, let the methods prevailing for years in the Commonwealth be fully supported. In the Governor-General’s Speech, at the opening of this Parliament, great prominence was given to the financial relations of the States, coupled with the federalization of old-age pensions. Long ago I took up a very strong attitude in respect to that matter. A Conference of Premiers is about to be held, and I hope thai the Government will use their influence with the Premiers of the States to secure an arrangement that will enable old-age pen- sions to be federalized with a minimum of inconvenience, and without any delay.
– Does not the honorable member think we have delayed long enough in connexion with the States?
– They have refused again and again to come to an arrangement.
– Yes;. but we have in two of the States more than 2,500,000 of the people under a system of old-age pensionsThree of the States, unfortunately - South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania - have not-
– And Queensland.
– Speaking from memory, I think that the Premier of Queensland at the Conference of 1905 did not offer any very strong objection to a Federal system of old-age pensions. I am anxious to bring about a federalization of the system without the delay which an amendment of. the Constitution would involve.
– It ought to be possible without an amendment of the Constitution.
– I cannot permit a - debate, even of the nature which the right honorable member for East Sydney is entering upon, in regard to the question of old-age pensions, since there is on the notice-paper a notice of motion, in- the name of the honorable’ member for Wide Bay, relative to the establishment of s Federal system.
– This is a most inconvenient method of conducting business.
– The course adopted is not. unusual.
– It is rather unusual. It would have been better had the Prime Minister made his statement on a motion to which honorable members generally could speak.
– That is a very fair suggestion. I can see no trouble if the other States will only consent to give the Federal Government the authority to federalize old-age pensions, and to take the amount required from the sum returnable to them under the Constitution!. The difficulty of the Braddon section would thus be surmounted, and an old-age pension system could be federalized without delay/ No amendment of the Constitution would be necessary. I hope that the Government will use their influence with the Premiers of the States.
– They have tried foi seven years to get an arrangement with them. Would the honorable member continue that policy?
-I should use every effort to induce them to adopt the proposal.
– I must ask the right honorable member not to deal further with that matter.
– I come now to the Postal Rates Bill. Surely the Prime Minister is not going to devote valuable public time to the discussion of that Bill, which would deprive us of a revenue of over£100,000 per annum, at a time when the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department are notoriously underpaid. . If we had the necessary money, and everything in the Department were being conducted in a proper way, no anxiety would be experienced by anybody. The idea underlying the proposal is a good one. The more postage is cheapened the better. Every intelligent man will admit that. But we must have some regard to the financial position of the Commonwealth, and if we have £100,000 to spare, I would rather see it paid away to the men who carry our letters or devoted to placing reasonable postal and telephonic facilities within the reach ofthe whole community, than I would see it expended upon penny postage.
– There are no better paid public servants in the world than those of the Commonwealth, especially those in the lower grades.
– I have been looking through the report of the Public Service Commissioner, and the general average of the salaries paid in the Postal Department strikes me as being very low indeed.
– The right honorable member should compare the salaries which they were receiving prior to Federation with those which they are receiving now.
– The fact that their position has been improved is not conclusive evidence that they are now getting all that they are entitled to. We must endeavour, as far as possible, to get on with the transaction of public business, and if, by adjourning, instead of proroguing, two or three months hence, we can secure more expedition and satisfaction, I am sure that honorable members will not shrink from adopting that course. So far as I am concerned - and I think I may speak for honorable members upon this side of the House - so long as the measures submitted by the Government are measures to which we can give our support, we will not allow any party feeling to interfere with the dis charge of our duty to the country. When Government measures call for criticism, it will not be found wanting. If, however, the Ministry will redeem the promise which has now been distinctly made, to deal with one of the thorny subjects that has been before the House for many years - the question of the selection of the permanent Seat of Government - there will have been one achievement this session upon which they will be able to congratulate themselves.
– I desire to offer a few remarks-
– I would point out that the course which has been pursued this afternoon is most objectionable, and is opposed to the rules which have hitherto governed our procedure. But, having asked the House to grant leave to the leader of the Opposition to speak, I must extend the same courtesy to the honorable member for Wide Bay, as the leader of the Labour Party. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member Have leave to speak ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
.- I agree with some of the. observations which have beenmade by the leader of the Opposition, and I disagree with others. It is, therefore, only fair that I should be permitted to state the position which I take up. I am exceedingly pleased to learn of the anxiety of the right honorable member for East Sydney to have certain matters submitted to the State Premiers. I can assure him that the whole of the members of the Labour Party are just as anxious as he is in that connexion. But the fact cannot be ignored that our patience in these matters has been almost exhausted, and the time has arrived when this Parliament must perform the duty which has been cast upon it. Upon the question of penny postage, I have already expressed my opinion very strongly. Every honorable member is’ in favour of penny postage if it were merely a question of penny postage versus twopenny postage. But the real point is whether we shall devote money which is being collected in certain of the States in which the residents do not enjoy reasonable postal and telephonic facilities to the introduction of the system of penny postage. Shall we provide these persons with reasonable postal and telephonic facilities, or shall we allow a particular Minister to gain some little political kudos for having brought about the adoption of penny postage during his tenure of office? I say that until we have provided the residents of the various States with an efficient postal service we should hesitate to adopt penny postage. The one matter which I consider most urgent at the present time is the carrying out of the pledges which we have repeatedly made to the old people of Australia that we would pay them old-age pensions.
– Whilst the honorable member for Maranoa was speaking last evening, I promised that I would make an inquiry concerning the practice which has been adopted by the Public Service Commissioner under regulation . 267a. I have made that inquiry from the Commissioner, who writes -
The necessity for the regulation arose through numerous cases arising in the remote parts of the Commonwealth where offences had been committed at distant places - say, for example, such places as the Gulf country of Queensland or Broome, or Wyndham, in Western Australia. To get to many of these places would necessitate the Board’s spending days travelling by steamers and coaches both ways at considerable expense, and it was considered that in these exceptional cases some more reasonable and businesslike means should be devised than that of either bringing the accused and all necessary witnesses to the head centre or of taking three highly-paid officials away from their work for perhaps weeks, with all the attendant expenses. In cases ofthis kind the evidence is taken locally by a responsible and competent person. The accused has full opportunity of being represented by counsel and’ cross-examining any witnesses brought against him, and also of adducing whatever evidence he is able to in his favour. It is dealt with in exactly the same way as if the inquiry were held at the head centre. When the evidence is completed, it is remitted verbatim to the Board, who consider it and arrive at their finding.
In regard to the statement made by the honorable member for Maranoa, the Commissioner informed me that the gentleman who held the inquiry at Bowen had expressed the opinion that it was absolutely improper for any person conducting such an inquiry to give any information regarding the case. His duty was merely to take the evidence submitted, and without comment to forward it to the Board. The Commissioner adds -
The procedure followed is by no means novel or new, and is the same as that adopted by Courts of law in a case where evidence is taken on commission in order to avoid the useless expense of bringing witnesses from distant parts.
– That is only when they are in foreign countries. No commission is issued toexamine witnesses who are within our jurisdiction.
– I do not know whether the memorandum which the Treasurer desires to present to the House is of much greater length.
– No; I have nearly completed reading it. It continues -
With regard to the three officers at Bowen, Messrs. Beach, Edwards, and Stanborough, who are under suspension in connexion with delay in delivering a registered letter containing an electoral nomination, a Board of Inquiry has been appointed in each case, consisting of Mr. Berkman, Chief Postal Inspector, Mr. Kent, Sub-Collector of Customs, and Mr. Thomson, the Divisional representative. As considerable time and expense and Departmental inconvenience would be involved in sending these officers from Brisbane to Bowen, Mr. Moran, Police Magistrate at Bowen, has been appointed to take all the evidence on oath and remit it for the consideration of the Board as provided for in regulation 267a.
I desire to add that the power of delegating the taking of evidence has been exercised by the Commissioner on the advice of the Attorney-General as to its legality. When the Public Service Bill was under consideration in the House, this very point was raised, and I remember that the Gulf of Carpentaria was specially mentioned in connexion with it. Provision was inserted in that Bill for the taking of evidence in this manner for the purpose of enabling cases to be dealt with, which it was practically impossible to deal with in any other way. In the case mentioned last evening by the honorable member for Franklin - that of Miss Hall - a Board was appointed to inquire into it. The Board visited Ross-
– My complaint was that Miss Hall was not present when the inquiry was held.
– She was present, and gave evidence, and she was also represented by counsel. The honorable member has been misinformed.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he thinks that an officer of the Public Service who is stationed in the northern or western portions of Queensland, and who is charged with an offence, should be placed in any worse position than an officer who is resident in the more favoured districts aroundBrisbane ?
– I certainly think not ; but we have to deal with this matter in a practical way. I have had conversations with the Public Service Commissioner in order to ascertain whether it would not be possible in distant places to ap point a Board of residents there instead of appointing one official.
– I think that might be very injudicious.
– I admit that it might, and, therefore, we have to proceed with a view to giving the man in a distant district the same facilities, as far as possible, as those enjoyed by the man in the centre of population. The honorable member will admit that it is most difficult to deal with cases in distant parts of this immense continent. Last night the honorable member for Maranoa stated that the plan complained of was adopted only in Queensland, but I may inform him that exactly similar procedure has been followed in New South Wales. In Victoria. ‘ the territory is not so large, and, therefore, this procedure is not necessary, and in Western Australia there has never been a case requiring it.
– Does the Treasurer think that an officer, whose case is investigated by one man in the person of a police magistrate in one of the Western towns of Queensland, has the same chance of justice as has an officer whose case is investigated by the Board before which witnesses are examined ?
– If the police magistrate is a proper sort of person to conduct an investigation of the kind the officer ought to have every chance of justice. If the police magistrate is not a proper kind of person he ought not to be appointed to make the inquiry.
Remedying of Complaints - Delay in Reports - Undermanning : New South Wales Branches : Moree Post Office Staff : Temporary and Permanent Hands : Overtime - Statutory Day’s Work - Grant to Widow - Telegraphic, Telephonic and Postal Extensions - Port Pirie Post Office.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether anything has been done to remedy the serious complaints submitted to him during his tour of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Serious complaints were made, and steps will be taken at the earliest possible date to remedy them, but it must of necessity take a considerable time to effect requisite improvements. It is only about three weeks since I made my visit. If the honorable gentleman will repeat his question in twelve months’ time I hope to be able to tell him of something attempted, something done.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether reports are systematically kept back owing to lack of funds available for the administration of the Department?
– Not so far as I am aware.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and replies will be given as soon as information is received.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How much money has been spent on temporary hands in the General Post Office, Sydney, and the State of New South Wales during the present financial year?
– Inquiry will be made, and the information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
As a monthly return of overtime worked in the General Post Office, Sydney, is furnished to the Department, will he state what overtime has been worked from 1st January to 1st March, 1908?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it his intention to annul the law regarding the statutory day’s work in the Postal Department, viz., from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., by claiming free service up to 5.30 p.m., thus extending the statutory day by regulation in antagonism to the law?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
I am not aware of any law fixing a statutory day for work in the Postal Department. Service without extra payment from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., exclusive of three-quarters of an hour allowed for lunch, is only required when current work is in arrear. This is in accordance with the Public Service Regulations, which provide for overtime to be computed after 5.30.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What progress is being made in the negotiations with the Government of South Australia as to obtaining a suitable site for a new postoffice at Port Pirie?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of South Australia on the 9th instant asking him to accept re-transfer of the present site and building and make the adjoining site available for postal purposes as a transferred property.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What arrangements, if any, have been made to obtain a site at Sydney for the purpose of a Commonwealth Naval Depôt?
– This forms part of the negotiations now going on between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. The matter mentioned by the honorable member for Dalley is not overlooked, but it is not possible, as finality has not been reached, to give the honorable member the information he desires.
– The Government are trying to obtain a site?
– It is not overlooked.
Mr.HUTCHISON asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Why has a full audit staff not been provided in South Australia in connexion with the Customs Department as asked for by the AuditorGeneral?
– I have been asked to answer this question, the reply to which is as follows -
Because the Treasurer has not yet approved of the transfer.
In addition, I may say that this was a case which arose when I was Minister of Trade and Customs. There are certain pointsin connexion with the action of those concerned in this fraud that I desire to consider before I approve of the transfer.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
Are the following statements correct, asquite recently made by the editor of the British Australasian : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Public Service Act - Recommendation and Approval of promotion of W.H. Barkley to the 2nd Class, Department of Trade and Customs, New South Wales.
Public Service Act - Regulation No.104 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 30.
Defence Acts -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Military Cadet Corps -
Nos. 3 and 13 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 121.
Nos. 3 and 13 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 9.
Military Forces -
Par. 35 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 3.
Par. 70 - Statutory Rules1908, No.11.
No. 540 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 14.
No. 531a - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 15.
Financial and Allowance Regulations -
No. 152 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 4.
No. 160, 161 - Statutory Rules 1908, No.5.
No. 65a - Statutory Rules1908, No. 8.
No. 98 - Statutory Rules1908, No. 12.
No. 143 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 16.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
– I have gone carefully through the schedule of amendments, and have had the advice of the Attorney-General regarding them. Except in one or two instances, the amendments are verbal, and as their general effect is to improve the Bill, I move -
Thatthe amendments in clauses 4,13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 28, and 29, be agreed to.
.-I have not been able to look closely at the Amendments, which do not explain themselves, ‘but they seem to be generally harmless. There is one amendment, however, which stands out in the shape of an addition to a clause, and I think attention should be directed to it, because it makes an important, novel, and, perhaps, dangerous departure, under which all sorts of favoritism might be shown. For instance, if a ship arrives in Hobson’s Baywith some quarantinable disease on board, all passengers and others, although they may not have the disease, have to go into quarantine. The effect of the amendment, however, is that if a ship were to arrive with, say, 200 passengers, and a case of small-pox, the quarantine officer would be able to pick out any person - who would generally be some oneof influence with important business in shore - and allow him out of bounds. The amendment, which is in the form of an addition to clause 45, provides that where a person ordered into quarantine is not, in the opinion of the quarantine officer, actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, he may, subject to the regulations, be permitted to leave the ship or station under quarantine surveillance. The opinion of a quarantine officer is a variable opinion.
– Imagine the case of a new Governor-General arriving. Does the right honorable member not think that the GovernorGeneral, if not suffering from any disease, should be allowed to land ?
– When such an extraordinary case arises, it will be dealt with in some way or other. What I am saying is that, in the actual administration of the quarantine law, if it be permissible to allow persons out of bounds, we know, as a rule, the class of persons who will be thus treated.
– I agree generally with the right honorable member, but it would be better to have the law made thus elastic than to have the law overridden.
– Under such circumstances as the honorable member has suggested, the law could only be overridden once in about four years. We must remember the tremendous risks to which the community might be exposed if this amendment were made part of the law. Doctors, like other men, may make mistakes, and even in cases where a man is not, when examined, apparently suffering from disease, he may, if allowed out of quarantine, develop it within a day or two, to the great danger of the community. What is the use of providing for the surveillance of men allowed out of quarantine bounds ? Who is going to look after the liberated contact?
– The practice against which the honorable member is speaking has existed in England for many years.
– And in New South Wales.
– I know of an instance in New South Wales in which a Ministerof another State was allowed out of quarantine in order that he might attend the Premiers’ Conference.
– That was a violation of the law.
– There should be either strict quarantine or no quarantine.
– What intense dissatisfaction would be created amongst the passengers of a quarantined ship if some favoured person, having perhaps large interests on shore, were allowed his liberty, while the remainder were detained ! The law must be administered humanely, but with the most absolute impartiality. By allowing only one person out of quarantine, the community would be exposed to the dangers for the prevention of which perhaps 199 other persons were being detained. It is unfortunate that quarantine detention should be necessary; but it is useless unless made absolute. What surveillance can there be of persons allowed out of quarantine? Are we going to provide that certain passengers of a detained vessel may go to a first-class lodging house in Queenscliff, while the remainder are kept quarantined at the quarantine station ? Such difference of treatment would create the most intense dissatisfaction. In my opinion, it is objectionable to give any quarantine officer such tremendous power.
– Is the power given to the quarantine officer ?
– The quarantine officer must give the opinion, before any person can be liberated, that he is not suffering from the disease for which the detention has been made. The quarantine officer may make a mistake, or he may be right, and the man may not be suffering from the disease, but, having been a contact, or having become infected, although showing no signs of sickness, he may become ill within two or three days after his liberation. We do not know what the proposed regulations will provide.
– It is left to the Executive Government to say under what conditions exceptions may be made on the score of dire necessity.
– When vessels are quarantined, there are ordinarily only one or two persons, out of perhaps 100 on board, suffering from disease, but as the disease may have been communicated to those who have been in close contact with them, it has been considered unsafe to release any one until a sufficiently long period has elapsed to show that no further case will develop. Quarantine would be intolerable if it did not apply to all concerned. When Treasurer of New South Wales, I administered the Quarantine Department, and know that occasionally the most impassioned appeals for release, on account of urgent business, or for other reasons, were made to the authorities. There would be seething discontent if one man were released while another in exactly the same position, so far as the quarantinable disease was concerned, was detained. The proposed distinction is likely to upset the whole quarantine system. If it were provided that every person not suffering from a quarantinable disease should be allowed to go free, the proposal would be regarded as farcical, and the suggestion that certain persons, not apparently suffering, should be allowed to go free, strikes at the utility of quarantine.
.- I endeavoured to put the strongest case for the Government when I suggested that the GovernorGeneral might be on a quarantined vessel. It might even happen, in a time of national peril, that a General Officer Commanding, or a naval officer, might be quarantined, although his services were in urgent demand.
– A Governor-General, if released from quarantine, might infect his Ministers with small-pox.
– That, in some cases, might be no great injury to the nation, though unfortunate for the Ministers. It might happen, too, that among a number of quarantined persons was one who had come from the other side of the world to see a dying relative. Would such a person be detained if, in the opinion of the medical officer in charge, he could with perfect safety to the community be allowed to visit hisrelative, and return to the quarantine station? I am putting undoubtedly hard cases. I know that in the past Governments have broken the law, by allowing distinguished persons to leave quarantine, and undoubtedly the law will be broken again.
– Hard cases are constantly occurring in connexion with the quarantine law. Plague contacts have been quarantined under the most harrowing circumstances.
– Yes. What weighs most with me in this matter is the opinion that, if every detained person is required to remain in quarantine, the Government will find it incumbent to provide inhabitable quarantine stations, whereas, if leading and influential persons were exempted, very unsuitable provision might be made for those who remained. I was surprised to learn when a conference of the medical officers of Australia assembled not long ago, that they were unanimously in favour of doing away with quarantine, and having open ports. They seem prepared to deal with infectious diseases after they come here.
– If six or seven immigrant ships, carrying 800 or 900 passengers, arrived at one time, each having infectious disease on board, would it be possible to quarantine them all ?
– In my opinion, quarantine has been justified by the results, and, notwithstanding the professional view which I have quoted, and to which I give due weight, I shall do my utmost to insure its continuance. It is true that the greatest commercial country in the world has practically open ports.
– Small-pox is settled there.
– Its commerce is such that,perhaps, it could not have an efficient quarantine in regard to all the infectious diseases brought to its shores. But If we are to have effective quarantine, it is necessary that all whom the medical authorities regard as contacts should, without distinction, be detained in the quarantine ground. There may be occasions when, in the interests of the country, certain persons may have to be allowed out under surveillance. These should be very rare exceptions, and made, not on account of social position, but solely in the public interest, and, being necessary, I think should be provided for by law .
– I would call the attention of the Committee to clause 14, under which a power of exemption is given. The amendment was thought necessary to make the position clearer. The advice of my experts is that this practice is adopted in England and elsewhere.
– There is practically no system of quarantine in England.
– There is a system of surveillance. The honorable member for East Sydney spoke of 200 persons being placed in Quarantine, and one of their number being allowed to go free. A passenger on an infected ship would not be allowed to go free, except for some very special reason. Let me put the converse position. Supposing it were desirable to release 199 out of 200 persons ordered into quarantine, would it not be unfortunate if the power to grant that release did not exist?
– We could let them out by removing the quarantine.
– It is just as easy to imagine a case where it would be necessary to release 199 out of 200 persons as a case in which it would be necessary to release one, and keep in quarantine the remaining 199. This is a power that ought to be expressly stated. The Administration would be responsible to Parliament if any unreasonable preference were shown to any individual.
– Under clause 14 the GovernorGeneral alone may release a person ordered into quarantine, but under this amendment such a power is vested in the quarantine officer.
– The GovernorGeneral would act upon the advice of. his Ministers. I am advised by experts that this amendment was considered necessary to make the position clearer.
– I am sur prised that the Minister should hesitate to ask the Committee to reject the amendment of clause 45, in view of the speech made by the leader of the Opposition. Only a few months ago the federalization of the quarantine system of the States was warmly approved. It was felt that the States’ system had been somewhat lax, and the Minister and the honorable member for Hunter, who apparently supports this amendment, were then most strongly in favour of rigid quarantine laws.
– I do not support the amendment.
– Australia to-day is remarkably free from small-pox, and I think that the leader of the Opposition is to be commended for the stand he has taken with respect to this amendment. Why should we differentiate between passengers on an infected ship? If the GovernorGeneral were a passenger on a ship infected with small-pox, and were allowed to go free on reaching port, he would be just as liable to spread disease as would be the humblest steerage passenger*. The reference made by an honorable member to the position of a naval officer on board such a vessel was rather beside the mark. There are strong sentimental considerations running through all our legislation. Cases of hardship must arise under every law. It has been said that it might be desired to allow a man in quarantine to visit a dying relative, but no one ever thinks of asking that a prisoner be released in order that he may see some relative who is dying.
– A personreleased under this provision could, if necessary, be brought back.
– After he had perhaps spread disease amongst the community.
– Why should we give the quarantine officer such a power as this? We may depend upon it that it would not be exercised in favour of an unknown steerage passenger. Itwould be the man in the saloon, who could bring influence to bear, who would have it extended to him. Let us have quarantine or no quarantine. I certainly believe in an effective system. The honorable member for Wide Bay said he had known a Government to release from quarantine men who should have bean detained; and I think that we should guard against any leakage under the Federal Jaw. I am glad that the leader of the Opposition has drawn special attention to this amendment, and hope that it will be resisted.
.- I agree entirely with everything that has been said by the leader of the Opposition. There is no comparison between the quarantine laws of Great Britain and these of Australia. For many years quarantine in the Old Land has been practically nonexistent. There is a certain measure of surveillance, but nothing more. In Australia the position is wholly different. This is a young country, with a comparatively small population, and we want to shut out all highly contagious diseases. The amendment of clause 45 is not at all comparable with clause 14. Under that clause the Governor-General, acting on the advice of his responsible Ministers, may exempt a person from quarantine, and the Ministry would have to take full responsibility for such action. We may depend upon it that they would take care to obtain the opinion of more than one expert before advising the Governor-General to release any individual from quarantine. Under this amendment, however, a suspect might be allowed to leave a ship and spread disease. In this country it is almost impossible to keep a man so released under surveillance. A person who had. been suffering from scarlet fever might be released when the state of desquamation was so fine as to be unnoticeable. If the patient had taken a bath before being examined, the desquamation might have disappeared, only to re-appear a day or two later, after he had been released, and had gone to the back blocks. He might there be placed under the surveillance of the local policeman, but within three weeks the whole district would probably be infected with scarlet fever. Since we have adopted the principle of quarantine, we should make our quarantine laws effective. If a quarantine officer made a mistake under this provision he could be dismissed, but that would be poor satisfaction to those who suffered - and we have to remember that the poorer classes more particularly would suffer - from such a mistake. Having affirmed the principle, we ought to say that it shall apply to all sections of the community, irrespective of class or station.
.- I am glad that the leader of the Opposition has directed special attention to the amendment of clause 45. I can well understand thatthe Minister is very anxious to get the Bill through, and does not wish it to be returned from the Senate. That can be his only reason for proposing that the amendment be agreed to. It seems very largely to set aside the whole object of the Bill. As the honorable member for Corangamite has pointed out, this provision differs materially from clause 14.
– It will be subject to regulation.
– I know that. Under the amendment of the Senate any quarantine officer, acting upon his own initiative, would have power to release from quarantine any person whom he might think was not suffering from a quarantinable disease. He would have power to release him under surveillance, the nature of the surveillance being prescribed by regulation. Surely that is a very different matter from the Governor-General being moved, in order to obtain the release of an individual from quarantine. Where the Governor-General has to be moved, the case would have to be a very exceptional one. But, under the amendment of the Senate, all that a quarantined person would require to do would be to curry favour with the quarantine officer. This proposal opens up a painful vista to the quarantine officer, who would be importuned night and day for the release of particular individuals. Under such circumstances, what persons would be likely to secure their release?Naturally, thosewho were able to bring the most influence to bear - persons who, because they possessed a large number of friends, would be able to get their cases favorably dealt with by the quarantine officer. Surely the possibility of favoritism should not exist in a matter of this kind. If a quarantine officer is to have power to release, under surveillance, a person who is not suffering from any quarantinable disease, the Bill becomes ridiculous. We do not want to isolate persons who are not suffering from a quarantinable disease.
– The point that I desired to make clear was that, if 200 persons were quarantined, and the medical officer certified that 199 of them were not suffering from a quarantinable disease, we ought to have the power to release them.
– Then this Bill is not required. If a medical officer, upon examination, found that nearly the whole of the passengers of a ship were free from any quarantinable disease, why not give him the power to let them go? But that is not the proposal for which the Government are fighting, and I am surprised at the Minister of Trade and Customs supporting the amendment of the Senate. As a matter of fact, it did not emanate from the Government .
– Yes it did, and it was inserted in the Bill upon the advice of experts, who say that its effect will be to make the provisions of clause 14 clearer.
– The Government propose to vest this very large power in quarantine officers - a power which, I am sure, will be open to considerable abuse. I shall certainly vote against the amendment.
.- There is no doubt a great deal in what has been said by the leader of the Opposition, and other honorable members who have spoken ; but I am not quite sure that there is not another view to be put in connexion with the amendment made by the Senate. Personally, I cannot conceive of any discrimination taking place upon a vessel on which a quarantinable disease has actually broken out. It may take place under influential pressure, but, if so, a very -unwarrantable act would require to be performed by the quarantine officer.
– Persons could not be placed in quarantine unless there was a quarantinable disease on board.
– I am under the impression that a vessel can be quarantined even if there be no actual disease on board - if, for example, she has come from ah infected port. That is the case, I pre sume, which the amendment of the Senate is designed to meet. Its proposal is intended to permit persons on such a vessel to land under strict quarantine surveillance.
– Fancy 200 persons being let loose under surveillance. What sort of surveillance would it be?
– I am going to say what I understand surveillance to mean.
– We merely say that the quarantine officer shall have power to release, under surveillance, persons who are not actually suffering from a quarantinable disease.
– Under our quarantine laws a person may be subject to quarantine, even though he is not actually suffering from disease. Let me put a concrete case. I understand that there is small-pox in Colombo all the year round.
– Not to anything like the extent that the disease exists in Hong Kong.
– Let us suppose that a vessel has come from Colombo which has been declared to be an infected port. I understand that it takes’ three weeks from the time of infection for smallpox to manifest itself.
– That is the period of incubation.
– Yes. Now a steamer would reach Fremantlefrom Colombo in ten days, and therefore a ship might’ have on board hundreds of passengers who, to all appearances, were perfectly healthy, but who actually had the disease of small-pox latent in their systems. My next point is, “ What is the nature of the surveillance provided for by regulation?” I inquired into this matter yesterday, and I was informed that upon being released under surveillance each person would have to undertake to report himself at the nearest police station every day until the period ofincubation had been completed. That is to say, if he had left an infected port ten days before the vessel arrived here, the surveillance regulations provide that for a further period of eleven days he must report himself daily at the nearest police station. In my judgment that kind of surveillance would be quite as bad as quarantine.
– The honorable member would not say that if he had had experience of quarantine.
– Perhaps not. I admit that I have not been upon a quarantine station. Of course, the idea underlying this regulation is that the authorities may be enabled, should disease break out, to trace it promptly, and to suppress it.
– There are many diseases that we always have with us which are not quarantinable.
– We have, I think, to consider mainly one disease, namely, small-pox. That is the disease which occurs toeverybody in dealing with this question of quarantine. I understand that in England, where they have a system of quarantine which has been in vogue from time immemorial, a somewhat similar provision obtains.
– How can effective quarantine be secured there, seeing that there are millions of people living within a day’s journey ?
– If we err at all, I think that we oughtto err upon the safe side. At the same time, I do not dismiss the amendment of the Senate as a ridiculous one. On the contrary, there is much to be said for it, although the system of surveillance for which it provides would be’ almost as irksome as would quarantine itself. If there is a possibility of an outbreak of small-pox, for instance, from a shipload of people, who, though not suffering from the disease, are let loose on the land with it latent in their bodies, it is worth our while taking every precaution. In a climate like that of Australia, where diseases seem to thrive and spread with amazing rapidity, we ought to be all the more careful in our endeavours to prevent the introduction of what have proved such terrible scourges elsewhere. I ask the Minister whether he thinks it worth while putting this matter to the vote. If he does think so, I shall feel obliged to vote on what I regard as the side of greater safety.
.- I shall vote for the amendment suggested by the Senate. I do not think any one is more favorable to stringent regulations affecting the spreading of diseases than I am. When I was at Hong Kong I made many inquiries, the results of which induced me to regard that place as the storm-centre of disease so far as Australia and other places are concerned. I am alluding now to the three dangerous diseases of small-pox, cholera, and plague; and in no country in the world do the conditions prevail which can be observed at Hong Kong. No less than 1,100 dead bodies are thrown into the streets of that city every year, and those who know the veneration which the Chinese have for their dead will understand that there must be something wrong when such conditions prevail in an English port which is greater than either London or Liverpool. The South China Weekly Post, in 1905, published figures showing that in the previous year the total number of bodies examined at Hong Kong was 2,225. Of these, non-plague cases numbered 1,700, or nearly 80 per cent., while the plague cases numbered 430, or 19.3 per cent.; 1,171 bodies were, in the same year, found in the streets, of which the non-plague cases numbered 1,028 or 87.4 per cent., while the plague cases numbered 148, or 12.6 per cent. Those figures deal particularly with plague ; but there were alsosmall-pox and cholera cases. I have full confidence in the conduct ofany Government officer who has control in a place of trust. It was interjected by one honorable member that the officer might be bribed ; but bribery is possible anywhere, and an officer who is subject to such influence would be in danger not only of losing his position, but,I believe, of severe punishment under the Act.
– The punishment under the Act is very severe for bribery.
– I do not think there is any danger of bribery.
– At one time I had some cases in West Melbourne under surveillance, and I can say that the care exercised in order to secure the community from danger could not have been greater or more effective in a quarantine station. I do not defend an indiscriminate system of surveillance.
– The honorable member should remember that the quarantine officer is any person appointed as such ; he need not be a medical man.
– I do not say that the man with the most medical diplomas would make the best quarantine officer, though he might prove the most efficient in the work of organizing and general control. I can say that one of the persons who was under surveillance in West Melbourne afterwards expressed the opinion that he would prefer six weeks in a quarantine station. I read the speech of the honorable senator who introduced this amendment, and his views accord with my experience. I have been four times a doctoron hoard ship, and have brought emigrants to Australia, so that I have some knowledge of this matter. I do not think we sufficiently appreciate what we owe to the United States in connexion with the preservation of the public health. It is not the laws’ as they leave the American Congress, but the regulations and the ability of the heads of the Department, which make America the sentinel, as it were, to guard us from the diseases of the East. All bills of health on ships in the Japan trade, and the Eastern trade generally, have to be vised by the American Consul. This holds good in all the ports on the way to Hong Kong; and at Manila the American authorities insist on the Chinese on board taking antiseptic baths. We must all pay a meed of praise to the great American nation for so guarding us from the dangers incidental to the diseases of the East. There is no doubt that we might reciprocate somewhat - that the present Government might act in friendly co-operation with the American authorities in order to make our safeguards better than they are now. The sooner this Bill becomes law, the better it will be for us; and if experience proves, in the course of a year or two, that amendments are necessary, they can easily be made.
-Suppose a ship with quarantinable disease arrives, and there are on board 200 people, none of whom have disease, would the honorable member approve of one or ten of these being allowed to go free while the others were retained?
– I cannot conceive that a quarantine officer would permit any to go free. If the ship hadto go on, the passengers could be landed and kept under control until it was certain they had no symptoms of disease.
– That is the object of quarantine; and, therefore, why let any go free before it is certain they have no disease?
– But the officer would not allow them to go.
– Then there is no use in giving him the power to allow persons out under surveillance.
– The man who makes his diagnosis at first sight often makes mistakes.
– But if one passenger is allowed to go free, all should be allowed to do so.
– Where there is the least danger of infection, the quarantine authorities will detain the vessel on which there is sickness, or allow her to continue her voyage without having free communication with the port at which she has called.
– My objection to the provision is that it would enable a quarantine officer to allow one or two persons to go free, while the rest of the passengers were detained.
– If such a thing occurred, I should be the first to vote forthe dismissal of the officer responsible.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has not made out a good case for the amendment. He spoke of what the Americans do at Manila to prevent the spreading of disease. But, nevertheless, vessels trading from the East to. Port Darwin may bring plague, small-pox, and other diseases with them. On the arrival of such a vessel at Port Darwin, the medical officer might be absent, and the quarantine officer, who need not be a medical man, would, under the amendment, have power to allow certain of the passengers to go ashore. We have it on the authority of the honorable member for Hunter that some diseases take three weeks to develop. As for the surveillance spoken of, it has been explained that that means that the persons concerned must attend regularly to have their pulse, their temperature, and their respiration taken. Is the local policeman to determine whether such a person is suffering from disease, and, if so, what the nature of the disease is? Even in regard to measles, several examinations have often to be made before the disease can be definitely distinguished from diseases whose initial symptoms are similar. . Besides, the local “ bobby “ will be as likely as any one else to take an infectious disease. Under this provision, any one might be allowed to land at Port Darwin from a vessel fromthe East, so long as he showed no signs of disease. Only the other day, persons on board the Empire, coming from Japan, did not develop disease until the vessel had passed Port Darwin, and was groping her way along our northern coasts. It appears to me that the only persons who should be allowed out of quarantine are those whose services are absolutely and urgently needed by the public, and provision is made in clause 14 for the release of such persons by the Go vernor- General. The provision under discussion merely makes the measure a nullity. The honorable member for Melbourne spoke of the horrible disfigurement which results from some of the diseases which are prevalent in the East, and which it is therefore desirable to keep out, merely because, if they were established in our midst, they would do much to destroy the beauty of our race. He spoke of 1,100 corpses of persons who had died from various diseases being turned into the streets of Hong Kong, and altogether showed our danger of infection from the East to be very great.
– But are not quarantine officers medical men ?
– Not necessarily.
– A quarantine officer now has the power, subject to the regulations, to let any one enter the Commonwealth.
– I think it would be very dangerous to adopt the proposed amendment, and I hope, therefore, that it will be withdrawn.
.- The object of quarantine laws is to protect the community from the dissemination of disease, it being recognised that the interest of the many must be paramount to the comfort of the few. It is said that a coach and four can be driven through any Act of Parliament. But this provision gives even more room than usual for that operation. . The quarantine officer may, or may not, be a medical man, and even the cleverest medical men make mistakes, because it is not easy to determine whether persons are suffering from certain ailments. The community must be protected from the possibility of mistakes. Surveillance may mean anything, or nothing.
– Every European country provides for it.
– We want to be ahead of European countries in these matters.
– I wish we were as far advanced as some of them.
– Quarantine is objectionable to travellers, because of the delays and possible discomfort caused by the detention. But all travellers know that it is one of the risks which they take. The convenience of the travelling public cannot be weighed against the health of the community. Diseases may be latent, and not noticeable on examination. That is recognised in the amendment by the provision made for surveillance. If it were certain that a person could be released without danger to the community, what occasion would there be for keeping him under surveillance? I am sure that the public will not put up with anything in the nature of favoritism in regard to quarantine. If a ship isdetained because of the sickness of one or two of her passengers, the medical officer must either keep all on board in quarantine, or let all who are not sick go. If the latter course is to be taken, the Bill is unnecessary. All we should do is to provide that persons actually suffering from infectious diseases shall be detained. In a district like that which I represent, it would be impossible for a person to present himself daily at a police station, because police stations are often more than a day’s journey apart. Probably most persons would prefer to stay in quarantine, where, as at Sydney, they would be fairly comfortable, rather than be compelled to present themselves to the police from day to day.At any rate, it is unwise to leave a loophole for abuse. Honorable members must know what a great scare there was in Sydney when plague was first discovered there, and we may have a similar small-pox scare if, by allowing persons out of quarantine, the disease is spread through the community.
– Quarantine officers can release passengers now.
– No medical officer would think of releasing passengers without a thorough examination, which would take a long time if there were 200 or more. I have not heard many complaints in regard to our quarantine regulations. The public recognise that it is wise to take precautions against the introduction of diseases. The honorable member for Melbourne only made the wisdom of such a course more apparent, by showing the great clanger of infection from the East. Yet he would give the quarantine officers power to turn loose a ship load of passengers who had been in contact with a diseased person.
– I said that we have much to thank America for; but I said nothing to impugn the medical examinations at the Australian ports.
– The honorable gentleman gave the Americans great credit for the safeguards they take, which, he said, were of advantage to us. But his remarks only emphasized the need for great care on our part. It may be that this system would for a time work very well ; that the quarantine officers would recognise the responsibility cast upon them, and would not be prepared to release any man until they had satisfied themselves, after consultation with other experts, that he should be allowed to go free. After a time, however, a more lax state of affairs might prevail. Let us consider the preservation of the health of the people generally, and err, if at all, on the side of hardship, rather than run the risk of allowing disease to be spread broadcast.
– It is somewhat incongruous that the leader of the Opposition and others should take exception to the action of the Minister in proposing to accept an amendment enabling the Government to be guided by the advice of their experts, having regard to the fact that only yesterday the right honorable member denounced them for failing to act upon certain expert advice with reference to the defence of Australia. We have the opinion of the Government medical officer of New South Wales-
– But this is an afterthought. It did not appear in the Bill as introduced.
– Perhaps the Government did not then have the opinion in question?
– Oh, yes.
– The Government medical officer of New South Wales says that there is no need for the exacting conditions that have hitherto prevailed. The system of quarantine, to my mind, has never been absolute. The conditions supposed to be in operation are so irksome that I believe they have been largely ignored, or that it has been tacitly conceded that they cannot be observed in their entirety. From some of the arguments that have been advanced, it would seem that the quarantine laws of the States havebeen more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The point is that the quarantine officers would recognise that, provided those affected by the disease were detained, nothing was to be gained by quarantining the remaining passengers on a ship upon which an outbreak of small-pox had occurred. Reasons of self-interest would cause those allowed to go free to keep a careful watch upon themselves and ascertain whether or not they were infected.
– What about the people with whom they associated?
– It does not follow that the disease would be disseminated in that way. I gather that the opinion of medical men is that infection does not take place so readily as many laymen imagine. It is not when the disease is incubating, but when it hasdeveloped, that danger of in fection arises. The diseases to which this provision relates already exist amongst us. If we placed in quarantine persons who were suffering from any of these diseases, or were noticeably developing any of them, we should keep them well under control. The fear of the public - which would materialize into public opinion - of the possibility of the spreadof disease, would have considerable political weight. It certainly seems to me that we are justified in accepting the opinions of experts in this matter. In the United States of America only those who are affected are quarantined.
– Then we shall have to remodel the system.
– It is admitted that England has abandoned the system because there are so many people entering and leaving that country that it is impossible to secure effective quarantine. . After all, the health of the people depends more upon an effective local system and the setting of our own house in order than upon watching assiduously those who come from abroad. Let us by all means quarantine those who are infected with disease, but we are merely bowing to the inevitable when we say it is impossible to quarantine every one who conies from an infected port or lands from an infected ship. We must content ourselves with quarantining the passengers who are suffering from any contagious disease, trusting to the law and good sense of the remainder who are allowed to land to report themselves. I do not propose, as was suggested, that they should report to a policeman. Such a proposition is ridiculous. None but qualified medical officers would be deputed to carry out that duty.
– The honorable member for Melbourne said that in West Melbourne suspects had been called upon to report themselves at the police station;
– Yes; but I did not mean to suggest that patients were paraded through the streets.
– Could not a qualified medical man be in attendance at the police station ?
– But supposing no medical man were in attendance?
– Then the Government would be grossly at fault. Any Government that would leave such a matter to untrained men would be deserving of censure. I confess that I cannot follow the arguments of the Opposition.
.- It would be’ a mistake to agree to the amendment made in clause 45 by the Senate. Under clause 14, the Governor-General has power to exempt any person or ship from the quarantine regulations, or to allow them to leave the quarantine station. There we have Ministerial responsibility. If the Minister rnakes a mistake, he is responsible to Parliament and the country ; but if under this amendment the quarantine officer made a mistake, the Government would not be responsible. The Ministerial head of the Department could say, “ I know nothing about the matter. The mistake was made by one of my officers.” We have given the Minister quite enough power to deal with this matter under clause 14. This is not a party’ question ; we are simply seeking to do what is best in the interests of the public. It is a mistake to allow our quarantine regulations to become too. lax. If my memory serves me. rightly, we last had an outbreak of small-pox in Victoria some twelve or fourteen years ago. Two days after the arrival of a certain vessel in our port, one of the passengers was found to be suffering from small-pox. Meantime, all the other passengers had scattered over Australia. I think that at least a dozen cases of small-pox occurred, and that .one of the passengers carried the disease as far as Sydney. That shows tlie danger of allowing any passenger out of quarantine before the clanger -period has expired. In the case in question, the authorities collected as many of the passengers as possible, and erected tents for their accommodation on Coode Island. Half-a-dozen houses were also placer! under police surveillance, but, notwithstanding those precautions, a number of cases of small-pox occurred, and the disease spread to Sydney. “That is an illustration of the danger of lax administration. We Have gone quite far enough by passing clause 14-
Mr. ATKINSON (Wilmot) [Sail.The only amendment to which exception can be taken is that made by the Senate in respect of clause 45. As a layman, it seems to me that a proper regard for the preservation of the public health should induce us to reject it. By accepting it we_ should undo all that we have done in the direction of passing an effective quarantine law. Such a provision might open our doors to a serious scourge.- The words “actuallysuffering,” which appear in the amendment, would give the quarantine officers a very wide discretion. It is possible that where a large number of passengers on board an infected ship had to be inspected some one . who ought to be kept in quarantine might escape and spread dis ease far and wide. Clause 14 will give the officers administering the law quite enough latitude, and under it there should be no possibility of any case of real hardship. Quarantine regulations are not onlyirksome, but in some cases may interfere seriously with trade. Our first consideration in passing this Bill, however, is the preservation of the public health. That is all-important. Why should we jeopardize the health of the people for the convenience of a few ?
– Why should we pick out a few for special treatment?
– Why should we imagine that favoritism will be shown?
– As a rule, it is not the steerage passenger who receives special treatment. That is only human nature.
– The saloon passenger, who knows what steps to take, has a better chance of securing exemption than has the steerage passenger, who does not.
– Our point is that no passenger on an infected ship should go free.
– The amendment would enable the quarantine officer to keep under- surveillance those whom he allowed to go free.
– It seems to me that the amendment ought to be rejected. It seems to me that in order to insure absolute security to our people, we should require to obtain the services of up-to-date medical officers. We all recognise that we have hitherto, been blessed with excellent medical officers, but at the same time we cannot claim that they are by any means perfect. Under trie amendment of the” Senate a medical officer would probably release from quarantine two or three persons who ought to be detained there, . and the result would be disastrous to the community. Unfortunately, Australia seems to offer exceptional facilities for the fostering of all sorts of disease, and if there is one thing to which we ought to direct our attention it is the means of securing to our people immunity from the introduction of disease from abroad. If we agree with the amendment of the Senate we shall open the door to the introduction of small -pox and other diseases from over- sea. I shall therefore support the right honorable member for East Sydney in his opposition to the proposal.
.- I desire to preface my remarks with the statement that the incubation period of small-pox is thirteen days, not three weeks, as I hurriedly interjected this afternoon, in reply to an observation by the honorable member for Parramatta. It seems to me that in connexion with a Bill of this description we cannot exercise too much caution. Various opinions have been expressed by honorable members regarding different forms of quarantine, the reasons underlying quarantine, and the results attending it. Whilst the leader of the Labour Party was speaking, I made an interjection which was intended to direct attention to the fact that different countries required to adopt different systems of quarantine. Unfortunately, my interjection was misunderstood by the honorable member for Dalley, who subsequently attempted to turn it inside out. I am at a loss to know why my interjections possess such a peculiar fascination for that honorable member, who rarely allows an opportunity to pass without taking exception to them. I. repeat that different countries require to adopt different systems of quarantine. The system which obtains in Great Britain differs from that which prevails in America. Nor can the Commonwealth expect to fashion its quarantine laws upon the lines which have been adopted by the countries of the old world, because our conditions are entirely dissimilar. For instance, we have a very sparse population, and practically a virgin country. Australia has never suffered from cholera or hydrophobia, and in that respect it differs from Continental countries. Further, we are, to a large extent, protected from the introduction of disease by our extensive seaboard, by the fact that Australia is an island, and by our remoteness from infected ports. We are so far removed from some of these ports that passengers who have contracted disease on the voyage would have recovered from the attack ere they arrived here. In Great Britain the people chiefly fear cholera, and in America small-pox. In Australia we chiefly fear small-pox, which may be introduced from eastern countries. To-day the means of transit have become so rapid that the danger of its introduction has been considerably increased. Of course, if we had perfect sanitation and perfect sanitary laws we might have very little to fear, and it might be possible to adopt the limited form of quarantine adopted in America, under which suspects are allowed to travel throughout the country, and only those persons who are . actually suffering from disease are placed in quarantine. But that system ought not to be adopted here, because for a considerable time we may reasonably hope to keep out diseases from abroad. Honorable members must recognise that if we possessed the maritime trade ‘ that is possessed by older countries it would be almost impossible to do this. If we had ships arriving daily -with numbers of immigrants on board it would be almost impossible to quarantine the whole of the passengers carried by them. But situated as we are, we should endeavour to make the provisions of our Quarantine Act as rigid as possible. The more stringent our health laws are the better for all concerned. I shall oppose the amendment of the Senate, because it would open the door to the introduction of disease. I quite agree . with the leader of the Opposition that it would be unwise on our part to allow this Bill to be altered in the waysuggested by the Senate. I shall vote against the proposal, because, also, it is not right to vest such large powers .in the hands of a quarantine officer. I know that officers are supposed to be above suspicion, but we must recollect that we are all human. It appears to me that at the present time a tremendous quantity of opium is being smuggled into the Commonwealth, and that a few coloured aliens are also gaining admission. .1 am, therefore, led to fear that the regulations in respect of these matters are not being administered as they should be. In exactly the same way I apprehend that the adoption of the amendment made by the Senate might permit of the introduction of diseases that we do not wish to see here.
.- I think that this is a very important matter in connexion with our quarantine laws. We should be very careful about how we set up a code of laws and afterwards give the officers administering them power to give effect to a different system. This Bill prescribes a system of dealing with all persons on board ships upon which there is infectious disease. It provides that every individual upon such a ship, no matter what may be his rank or station, shall be quarantined until a certain period has elapsed, when it will be safe to allow him to mix with the general public. How the honorable member for Macquarie can entertain the flippant view that he does of the danger of disease spreading amongst our people passes my comprehension. Talk about Tories! Was ever a more recklessly Conservative speech delivered than that made by the honorable member? What is the object of imprisoning all these persons because there is one case of disease on board ? It is not that we want to punish them. This is not done because we desire to expose people to inconvenience and suffering, but because the great mass of the people must be saved from the possibility of pestilences, which if introduced might destroy thousands. We desire to keep Australia free from those horrible scourges which afflict more populous communities; and, however harsh it may seem, we, in the interests of public health, are passing a law which compels every one on a ship under such circumstances to be practically imprisoned until the period of possible danger has expired.
– What about expert opinion?
– May I suggest that the Conference of Medical Officers never suggested any exemption of the kind. That Conference was held three or four years ago ; and we may be sure that if they had recommended an exemption the necessary provision would have been provided in the Bill originally.
– Would the right honorable member accept the exemption if the experts recommended it?
– In making laws affecting the liberty of the subject, we have a very high duty to discharge. Why should it be in the power of a. medical officer to set one man free and keep forty-nine others imprisoned behind the bars of the quarantine station ? Surely we must have some regard for principle. If the safety of the public requires the forty-nine men to be imprisoned it requires that the one man also shall be imprisoned.
– The forty-nine might be let out and the one detained.
– Either proceeding is ridiculous. Either let every one go who is free from disease, or detain all. The present system is that not only those who have travelled on the ship, but even any from the shore who may have come aboard to greet a relative, or by any chance may have got into the quarantine area, are detained. This, as I say, is done not because we desire to interfere with the liberty of individuals, but because the public interests require the act of force and detention. The very fact that any person released under this amendment is to be under observation shows that the authorities are not sure that he will not develop disease.
– The honorable member knows that the proposed amendment goes very little further than does clause 14, which deals with the exemption of certain vessels and goods.
– I think the amendment goes much further. I have been at thehead of a Department which had the administration of quarantine; and I knowthe pressure that is brought to bear in efforts to secure the release of certain persons who. it may be, are connected with large business affairs, and whose presence on shore is very important. But the moment the rule is broken dissatisfaction must arise. Let us imagine for a moment the dissatisfaction caused amongst 199 passengers behind the quarantine bars if one were allowed to go.
– The rule referred to by the right honorable member is broken by clause 14.
– So far as I am concerned, I should not have allowed clause 14 to be inserted ; I certainly never approved of it.
– But if the right honorable member approves of exempting any one., why should he make such a song about the proposed amendment?
– I do not approve of any exemptions; and the fact that clause 14 is in the Bill does not show that I approved of it. The laws of which I had the administration never contained anysuch exemption, and none was allowed.
– Is the right honorable member prepared to try to remove the exemption in clause 14?
– Certainly; I consider that if we allow even the most important person to go free while 100 others are detained, we are damaging the whole system of quarantine. Just as in a prison, no one should be allowed to go out under surveillance while others are detained. If it is necessary for the public safety to detain the man in the steerage, it is necessary to detain even the Governor-General if he be a passenger. I think that that is a sound democratic principle that ought not to turn the stomachs of my honorable friends opposite.
– In the main, we all agree with that view ; but we do not desire to see a number of people unnecessarily detained simply because there is no enactment under which they can be released if they are free from disease.
– That is a question of system, and not one of individual exemption. Shall we adopt the system which prevails in some countries of detaining only the people actually suffering from disease, or showing indications, or shall we also detain all other persons on the ship who are perfectly well?
– Or those who have been in close contact with the diseased.
– Exactly. After all, the basic principle of the restraint is the safety of the public health.
– And justice to all.
– Exactly. I confess that if I were in favour of a special clause allowing certain distinguished’ persons, say the Governor-General, to walk through the quarantine gate, I could not very well object to the other proposal. But the law of quarantine should absolutely refuse to distinguish between one human being and another, whatever their position. I gathered from the interjections of the honorable member for Melbourne, that he really does not disagree with the principle of treating every one alike.
– Unfortunately, I think a great deal to prevent that principle being carried out is done at the Law Courts, where the man without any money has no “ show.”
– Are we to add to the misfortunes of the poor man by keeping him behind the bars in the quarantine station, while others are at liberty to go?
– I “climb down”; the right honorable member “has me” there.
– We can realize how much easier it would be for me, for instance, than for many others to take advantage of the exemption offered by the amendment.
– And if the honorable member were clean, why should he be detained?
– Then why should any one else be detained who is clean? Let us have a system that applies to all men alike.
– This proposal does.
– It does, in a sense that an officer may do as he likes. Clause 18 provides -
The following persons shall be subject to quarantine : -
That is the principle of the measure; and under that principle the moment a vessel reaches port, with disease on board, every person thereon is detained. If it is desired to do away with that principle, and to permit to go free all who are not actually sick, or showing symptoms of sickness, then it is a question of policy for. the House to decide. But if that be regarded as a safe course, it is a reversal of the rules of all the quarantine systems of Australia up to this day ; and instead of making quarantine more efficient it will break it down. I have before me the Consolidated Quarantine Act of New South Wales of 1897,and there is not a line under which even the greatest man that ever lived could be exempt from quarantine if he happened to be a passenger on a vessel subject to detention. I do not believe in clause 14. If it is right to keep thousands of people in quarantine, although they are well, there is no rhyme or. reason in allowing any one to leave. It is a practical breaking of the law in favour of some individual. At any rate, those who believe in some power to distinguish between one man and another ought to be satisfied with clause 14, which is as follows -
The Governor-General may exempt, for such time and subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, from all or any of the provisions of this Act-
any ship of war;
any vessels trading exclusively between Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, or other places adjacent to Australia ;
any particular vessel or class of vessels, and
– Any exemption should be associated with Ministerial responsibility.
– In a matter affecting the liberty of the subject, should an authority less than that of the Executive be sufficient ? Where a number of persons are detained in quarantine, only the Executive should have power to permit releases. A person released from quarantine, although apparently healthy, might communicate a pestilence to the community, notwithstanding the requirement to present himself for examination each day.
– The root principle of quarantine is prevention,’ and there cannot be prevention if men liable to communicate disease are permitted to go about in the community.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for the interjection. If, in the public interest, certain persons exposed to infection are quarantined, why should exceptions be made? In Holland, there are many miles of dykes, but one little leak might be sufficient to make them all useless. So the release from quarantine of one apparently healthy person might nullify the precautions of years, by sowing the seeds of an ineradicable pestilence. The word ‘ ‘ surveillance “ is a new one in English legislation). The person under surveillance is at liberty, and yet not at liberty.
– He is like a ticketof.leave man.
– Yes; who has only to present himself to the authorities once a day. The fact that a penalty of £100 is provided for breach of the law shows that the provision is for application to the richer members of the community. My experience tells me that exceptions would not be made except in regard to persons of influence and standing; that unknown persons, would not be released. If, in> the interests of the public health, certain persons should be kept behind prison bars for a time, those bars should not be. let down for any one.
.- I do not wish to say anything in regard to the general objections to the amendment, because thev have been’ pretty exhaustively stated. I do not believe in it, because it seems to me dangerous. Furthermore, I do not think it yorkable. Clauses 17 and 19 provide that when a man is allowed to land from a ship, he is released from quarantine, and no after surveillance is possible.” . If there is to be no surveillance, the public will not be protected. Clause 34 provides that, when a vessel arrives at a port from a proclaimed place, or is subject to quarantine, and the quarantine officer is satisfied that there is no person on board actually suffering from disease, he may allow her to continue her voyage, and may allow persons to land. But it is expressly provided that those so allowed to land remain subject to quarantine, and must obey the regulations regarding surveillance. Under the amendment, there is no such reservation. It is not- stated that the person landing is still subject to quarantine. Therefore, unless kept subject to quarantine, he is clear of the penal provisions relating to a quarantined person. It is provided that he’ shall be under quarantine surveillance, and shall comply with the. regulations relating thereto; but the Bill gives no power for the making of such regulations. Clause 87 contains -a general power for making, regulations, but it implies a limitation to the matters therein set down. The Minister would find that before the £100 penalty “could be levied, it must be clearly shown that the person proceeded against had broken a regulation which the Act gave the Government power to make. Otherwise, I do not think the fine could be levied. This is a weakness in the provision which; apart from questions of policy, justifies its rejection.
.- Whilst in sympathy with any relaxation of quarantine, not incompatible with the preservation of the public - health, I regard the amendment as a dangerous innovation. The honorable member for Angas has shown that the Act is not so framed as to make the provisions relating to quarantineenforceable on those released under the amendment. But, apart from that objection, which should be sufficient to prevent its acceptance, I am of opinion that it is too early for us to follow in the footsteps of other countries, where more stringent measures have been taken internally for the eradication of diseases, by making; our quarantine law less stringent. In countries, where vaccination is compulsory, thespread of small-pox from a centre of infection cannot be nearly so rapid as it mightbe here, where only a small percentage of the people have been vaccinated, and wherethe climatic conditions and the difficultiesof proper medical surveillance are favorable to its rapid extension. Fortunately, however, we have hitherto’ been able to keepit out, and. Australia is, I believe, the only country in the world where small-pox is notendemic. Our circumstances are such-,, however, that it would be extremely dangerous to allow it, or any similar disease,, to gain a footing, and, therefore, I shall! strongly oppose the adoption of the amendment. The Government, instead of being driven, should show its readiness to do all that is possible for the preservation of the public health. I hope that the Minister will not treat the matter lightly, for it is one which honorable members have deeply at heart, and needs most earnest consideration. If we err at all, we should err on the side of over-precaution.
– The objections raised to the amendment apply equally to clause 14, which empowers the Governor-General to authorize the release of any person from quarantine. The Governor-General would act upon the advice of the very officer whose opinion would be asked if it were proposed to give effect to the amendment.
– And a man released under clause 14 would be released absolutely, while one released under the amendment would remain under surveillance.
– No serious objection has been raised to the provisions of clause 14, either here or in the Senate. Members of the medical profession are jealous of their reputation, and not likely to take risks in advising release from quarantine.
– If one person may be let out because he is well, every person who is well should be released; but the principle of the Bill is to detain contacts, even though apparently healthy.
– If the medical authorities were satisfied that there would be no danger to the community in releasing a ship’s crew and passengers after quarantine of limited duration, why should these persons be detained longer, at great expense andinconvenience ?
– To obtain an Order in Council would mean only a delay of half a day.
– If there would be no difficulty about obtaining an Order in Council, why not trust the medical officers?
– The obtaining of an Order in Council is an additional check.
– And makes the Government responsible for what is done.
– That would not prevent the consequences of any mistake. The Governor-General would ask the opinion of the medical officer.
– Does the honorable member suggest that he would have to act on it?
– He would not dare to ignore it.
– Why detain any one if not every one? The amendment provides for releasing one person and detaining others.
– A quarantined person, feeling that he had not got rid of the disease, might prefer to remain in quarantine a little longer ; but all who can be safely liberated should be set at liberty. In conversation, medical authorities of good standing have told me that the inspection which now takes place before a clean bill of health is given to a ship has greatly diminished the’ risk of the introduction of diseases. At all events I am satisfied that no greater danger is to be feared from the acceptance of this amendment than is likely to arise under clause 14.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has pointed to a feature of the Bill that is worth considering. I do not anticipate that any improper discrimination will be made by the quarantine officers in regard to releasing persons under surveillance, Our experience in Australia is that these officers are men of some responsibility. A quarantine officer, being a medical man, knows that he incurs a very serious responsibility in releasing persons where there is a real danger of their carrying disease into the Commonwealth.
– If the period of danger has elapsed why should a man be under surveillance?
– In many cases it is reasonable to suppose that surveillance would be necessary.
– If the period of danger had not quite elapsed ?
– It might not. As. indicated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, we have not only passed a clause that will allow this to be done, but something more. Under clause 14 the GovernorGeneral, who would act on the suggestion, at all events, of the quarantine officer, has the power of absolute exemption from any quarantine.
– On conditions that may be imposed. Such a recommendation would pass through the hands of the Chief Medical Officer and the head of the Department, whilst the President of the Board of Health would also have to indorse it before it was submitted to the GovernorGeneral.
– Does not the’ right honorable member recognise that the power given by clause 14 is unlimited?
– I object to it altogether.
– But we have passed it. My recollection’ is that a similar provision exists in the New? South Wales law.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has shown me the codified Act of 1897, which provides for the issue of a Governor’s licence. During the whole time I was in office in New South Wales I never issued such a licence, nor do I think that the present Treasurer of the Commonwealth did so when he was Premier of New South Wales.
– Before the honorable member for Kalgoorlie mentioned that law to me I had an idea that there existed in the New South Wales Act some provision which would permit of exemptions being granted under certain conditions.
– It is in an Act of 3 William IV., which was codified. The codified Act brought all these laws together.
– It is a very reasonable power. Members of the medical profession can alone determine the necessity for quarantine:
– If any of the passengers on an infected ship had to go into quarantine all should be quarantined; if any were allowed to go free all should be given their freedom.
– After all, practically all the power that we assume under. this Bill is vested in’ the quarantine officers. The person on whose decision rests the question of whether or not a vessel is to be quarantined is the quarantine officer. He might decide that what were regarded by the ship’s officer or bv some of the general public as suspicious symptoms were not of sufficient gravity to justify the ship being ordered into quarantine, and might allow the ship to go free. If he made an error of judgment, or were not properly seized of the gravity of the situation, serious consequences might follow. The success or failure of the Quarantine Act must rest upon the shoulders of the officers. Having granted absolute power to the quarantine officers to detain a vessel or to allow her to proceed on her journey, it seems to me rather strange that we should object to give them the power of surveillance.
– Should they have the power of imprisonment?
– The whole purport of the Bill submits that question to the decision of the quarantine officer. He can order a ship into quarantine or allow her to go free.
– He cannot order one-half of a ship into quarantine and allow the other half to go free.
– The point is whether we are going to compel an officer to say that either a whole ship.’s company shall go into quarantine, or that nothing shall be done. If that is the only discretion to .be vested in the quarantine officer, it may so operate as to defeat the objects of the Bill. If a quarantine officer were in doubt as to the presence of a contagious disease on board ship - and we know that a number of communicable diseases in their initial stages are very difficult to diagnose - he might allow the vessel to proceed on her way if he had not the power to place under surveillance some of those on board. Unless some power of this description is given to the officers, the object of the Bill may be largely defeated.
– If a quarantine officer were in doubt, he would, for greater safety, order the suspected ship into quarantine. He would not, in such circumstances, err in the direction of allowing her to go up the harbor.
– If he had no alternative but to order the ship and her company’ into quarantine, he might determine in a doubtful case to allow her to proceed on her journey, whereas if this power were vested in him, he would probably order some of the passengers or crew to remain under surveillance.
– That is not quarantine. Quarantine means isolation.
– I have heard of an instance in which it was alleged that an actress who was. able to get the ear of a Minister in New South Wales was allowed to have her dog quarantined’ in the hotel at which she was- staying.. I dare say . that is purely apocryphal, but “ quarantine “ is a very elastic term.
– In Victoria a system of home quarantine has been in operation.
– And I do not say that it is not justified. Our ideas in respect of quarantine in plague cases have- expanded very much since the first outbreak in New South Wales. At first a very rigid system was enforced, but it has since been relaxed1 as being in a very large degree unnecessary.
– Then the honorable member believes in quarantine with discrimination ?
– The whole system of quarantine is based on discrimination, and cannot be anything else.
– The honorable member would detain one man because he had been . on board an infected ship, and allow another to- go free.
– The quarantine officer can alone judge whether or not a suspect is in sound health.
– The policy of the Act is that, even if a passenger on an infected ship is healthy, he is not to go free until a certain period has elapsed.
– That depends on the nature of the disease. A certain measure of isolation may be necessary in one case, and much more may be necessary in others. It appears to me that in this instance we must trust the officers. I see no escape from that position. The whole value of the Act seems to depend upon the efficiency of the officers charged with its administration. That being so, I do not see why we should not give them this power, rather than compel them to take extreme measures, whether it might be necessary to do so or not.’
.- The leader of the Opposition bases his case against the amendment of clause 45 on the supposition that under it a man of importance or influence on board a suspected ship would be allowed to gofree, whilst a man in the steerage- would be detained.
– I say that it would be equallv as bacl if the man in the steerage were allowed to go free and a man of influence detained.
– The right honorable member builds up a case which he thinks he can batter down very easily. One cannot help smiling at his constant reference to the steerage passenger. His strongest objection is that the officers of the Department are not to be trusted.
– That is only one objection. Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- - The right honorable member keeps harping on the possibility of favoritism. He has suggested that of 200 men ordered into quarantine, a quarantine officer might allow one to go free because he was a man of importance.
– Whom does the honorable member think would have the better chance of getting out - the steerage passenger?
– It would rarely, if ever, happen that any man would be given his freedom before the danger period had elapsed. If we have degrees of risk, we must also have degrees of power. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that we must throw open a middle course.
– Does the honorable member say that he’ is at one with the honorable member for South Sydney ? That is remarkable.
– It has been interesting to hear one member of- the Opposition after another stating that this is not a party question, but that he feels obliged on broad principles to follow the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– The honorable member for Boothby and the honorable member forDarling also adopt my view.
– The honorable member for Boothby, when the Bill was before the House, declared that he was opposed to it. I understand that the right honorable member disapproves of the principle embodied in clause 14. If I held that view, I should be prepared to endeavour to secure the rejection of any little amendment that would have the effect of delaying the passage of the measure for some weeks.
– Oh come !
– Surely I am at liberty to believe that the right honorable member would do what I should do. It must be admitted that he has built up his objection to the amendment of clause 45 on the possibility . of favoritism. He said that the provision would be much better if the recommendation for the release of a person on board a suspected ship had to pass through the hands of the Chief Medical Officer and the Department of Public Health before being submitted to the Governor-General. As an old politician, the right honorable member must know that such recommendations pass through the hands of responsible officers. If we cannot trust our officers, our quarantine law must fail. The amendment is really a restriction, rather than an extension, of the power conferred by clause 14, under which a man under suspicion may be allowed absolute freedom.
– Under conditions that can be made just as stringent as those proposed to be provided for in this case.
– Under the amendment proposed, he would have to report himself. He would be kept under close surveillance. The right honorable member spoke of 200 passengers being on board a vessel only one of whom might be released under a provision of this kind. Let me put a reasonable case to him - such a one as might occur. Let us suppose that upon a large ship there is one saloon passenger who has a portmanteau containing some rags which might be expected to harbour a quarantinable disease. ‘ If the quarantine officer satisfied himself that there was no ground for entertaining such a belief ought he to quarantine the whole of the steerage passengers on that ship ? The right honorable member has attempted to build up his case by urging that under the amendment made by the Senate favoritism might be exercised. It is idle to suggest that a Minister would not accept responsibility for the acts of his officers. As a matter of fact, he has to accept that responsibility in every instance.
– It is rather an unfair responsibility to put upon him.
– During the right, honorable member’s Ministerial career I have never known him to shelter himself behind, the plea that he was not responsible for the acts of his officers. Although he declared this afternoon that the report of the experts who considered this question contained no recommendation in the direction of the Senate’s amendment, when I asked him whether he would support the proposal if the experts had recommended it he declined to answer.
– I would not support all the experts in the world if they recommended the liberation from. quarantine of one individual -and the detention of another. .
– Does the right honorable member think that any officer would attempt to discriminate in the way that has been suggested? I say .that we ‘should not rush to extremes in legislation of this kind ; the adoption of a middle course should always be open to us. Why should we not vest some discretion in our quarantine officers instead of laying down a hard-and-fast rule? If the man of importance can get past these officers he can also get past the Governor-General, because the latter acts upon the advice of his Ministers.
– Does the Minister suggest that the fact that under the Bill in the form in which it left this Chamber, the GovernorGeneral would require to be moved to. secure the release of any person from quarantine is not something in the nature of a check?
– No. But I do say that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the advice of the officers of the Health Department would be acted upon.
– The first question that the Minister would put to them would be “Why do you propose to release one individual from quarantine and to detain ninety-nine others?”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– Before concluding my remarks, I would direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that clause 14 reads -
The Governor-General may exempt, for such time and subject to such conditions as he thinks lit, from all or any of the provisions of this Act, &c.
The fact that the power to exempt is a permissive one should in itself provide a .sufficient safeguard against its abuse.
– And the regulations have to come before Parliament.
– We have had quite enough of regulations under the Public Service Act.
– I think we all recognise that the Chairman of the Health Board and the officers who would administer this Act- would err on the side nf caution. Nobody has contended that the amendment of the Senate, if adopted, would work any harm.
– Oh !
– The right honorable member himself admitted that his arguments had been shattered.
– I only wish that they had.
– When I stated that they had been shattered, the right honorable member remained silent, and I naturally interpreted his silence as giving consent to my statement. If we do not accept the amendment of the Senate we shall probably delay the passing of this measure for two or three months. In view of the declaration of the honorable member for Melbourne who, upon this subject, is a specialist, I think that we might very safely agree to the amendment of the Senate.
.- Unfortunately, I possess some knowledge of infectious diseases and quarantine regulations, and in the light of that knowledge I say that the amendment of the Senate is a very wise one, because it refers the matter of exemption from quarantine to quarantine officers. Surely that is better than allowing it to remain under the control of the Government. We must all recognise that no matter what action a Ministry might take in connexion with quarantine arrangements, under our party system of government it would be sure to be questioned by political opponents. I think that altogether too much has been made of the suggestion that under the amendment, of the Senate one passenger by a vessel might be liberated from quarantine, whilst 199 others might be detained. We know very well that nowadays the various classes of passengers on board-ship are just as much separated from each other as are the dwellers in adjacent houses in our cities. If. a case of smallpox occurs amongst the first-class passengers on a vessel, why should those in the steerage be quarantined?
– That’ is a new idea. ‘ The universal idea is that if a case of infection exists on board, it is a danger to the whole ship.
– In city life, if an outbreak of infectious disease occurs in one house of a terrace that house alone is isolated, notwithstanding that its inmates come into much closer contact with their neighbours than do the various classes of passengers on board ship. In the case of small-pox, I contend that the greatest’ danger lies, not in contact with the sufferer, but in the liability of one’s clothing to infection. In Tasmania the first outbreak of this disease was traced to certain clothing which” ‘had been locked up in a box for some considerable time. If the passengers by any vessel upon which an outbreak of small- pox occurred had their clothing thoroughly fumigated there would be comparatively little danger of their spreading infection. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment of the Senate, and that the Bill will speedily become law. Only yesterday, in coming from Launceston, I heard complaints made of the existing quarantine regulations as between State and State, and of the necessity for their early alteration. I hope that we shall leave this matter of quaran tine in the hands of our quarantine officers, and not in those of the Government.
– Does the honorable member wish to destroy all Ministerial responsibility ?
– No, but it is not well to provide in a Bill of this character for the exercise of political influence in any shape or form. I recollect one occasion upon which the Mayor of Launceston was unable to visit Melbourne, because he had not been vaccinated, notwithstanding that he had suffered from small-pox, which I understand affords the sufferer greater immunity from further attack than would vaccination. According to the regulations made by the Victorian authorities, no per-, son could be admitted to the Colony unless he had been vaccinated ; and this incident, in my opinion, shows that a certain amount of discretion should be left with the responsible officer.
.- I agree with those who declare,- in no uncertain language, that all classes of people should’ be treated alike in the administration of the quarantine law.; and I believe that the provisions of this Bill as proposed to be. amended will have that result. It is highly important, however, that some discretionary power should be given to those who will be responsible for the administration ; and, as a matter of fact, under State law, there is a discretionary power now in the hands of the quarantine -officer, who is generally a medical man. It appears to me harsh that, because of certain suspicious symptoms, all the people on a ship should be detained, when the safety of the public might be completely guaranteed by keeping the actual case and contacts under observation. That, I think, is the principle on which’ the various States Acts have been administered up to the present time. The right .honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon told us that under his administration of the quarantine laws of New .South Wales no exemptions were permitted ; and I unhesitatingly accept his statement that he was not aware of any exemptions. The fact remains, however, that under the New South Wales Act the Governor in. Council - which, of course, means the’ Government - may grant exemptions in regard to persons or goods on any ship. It may be absolutely necessary, on account of suspicious symptoms, that certain people should be detained, but it is a great hardship that others, who show no symptoms whatever, should be confined; in other words, I can conceive of circumstances where it may be desirable or necessary to detain individuals, but not to detain the whole of the passengers.
– Provision is made for that in clause 14.
– Yes, in a certain fashion ; but the amendment now under discussion has been submitted as the result of the report of a conference of the medical officers of the various States.
– Did these medical experts say that laymen should have the discretion suggested?
– Alayman would certainly not have the discretion.
– But according to the Bill, a quarantine officer need not be a medical man.
– That will be safeguarded.
– The honorable member for Robertson is dealing with a remote possibility which, under the administration of the Act, is not likely to be realized. When I was in Sydney in 1906 a ship arrived with a suspicious case on board. Passengers, officers, and crewwere taken to the quarantine station, while the ship and cargo were fumigated, and the latter discharged at the wharf. The vessel was booked to leave in three weeks’ time; and the work of discharging was completed on the very day of the expiration of the quarantine period.
– What was there wrong in all that?
– I am not faking exception to what was done in that case, because I believe that reasonable facilities were given to the officers and passengers for communication with their employers and their friends. But if this Bill goes through without the amendment proposed, there could not possibly be any communication.
– There could be communication under clause 14.
– But not such effective communication as is desired by the medical officers who have had the administration of the States Acts. If the amendment be adopted it will be possible for officers of the ship or passengers to go to the gates at the quarantine station, and, under proper supervision, hold communication with others, without absolute contact.
– Communication can be had by telephone now.
– Under the State laws that would be possible, but not under this Bill without some such provision as that proposed; and, in any case, we realize how undesirable it is to transact private business over the telephone. In my opinion, a proper system of surveillance could be arranged, with due regard to the safety of the public. In the last resort, Ministers must rely on the reports of the medical officers, who have the supervision of quarantine.
– Is it not better to fix the responsibility on a Minister than on an officer?
– I disagree with the honorable member for Bass on that point, because, in my opinion, it is impossible for the Minister to escape responsibility. When the question of the regulations comes up, it will be for us to see that the responsibility is undoubtedly cast on the Minister.
– The trouble is that we never see regulations.
– Any regulations can be had for the asking ; andI think we may safeguard the public interest without absolutely prohibiting release in clean cases.
– As I pointed out before, the officer need not be a medical man.
– The honorable member knows that in every port of Australia the officer who boards a ship is a medical man.
– Not in all cases. The medical officer of Port Darwin might be at Pine Creek on the arrival of a vessel.
– The honorable member has many “ if’s,” and possibly has convinced himself without convincing anybody else. We have to assume that this measure willbe administered by responsible Ministers and officers.
.- The leader of the Opposition pointed out that there are two basic principles underlying this Bill - one the healthof the people, and the other the equal treatment of the people. The question is whether the quarantine law has to be administered by an officer, who is a medical man - or ought to be a medical man-
– And he will be, too.
– At any rate, I think the officer is always a medical man. The question is whether the health of the people will be better conserved by the employment of medical men, or by appeals, no doubt from the advice of medical men, to the Governor-General in Council. If a vessel be detained under quarantine, the cost is from £1,500 for every twelve hours’; and, as the Executive Council could not very well be called together under twenty-four hours, we readily see how soon the owners of a vessel may be called upon to meet an expenditure of some £3,000. There is no reason for making trade barriers of that kind. An order by the Governor- General in Council would be based on the opinionof the Health Officer, who is sure to be a medical man.
– The Bill does not say that he must be a medical man.
– No Ministry would be so foolish as to appoint other than a medical man to do a medical man’s work. When in Ceylon recently, I found that all arrivals from India, whether by a suspected ship or not, must report themselves regularly to the local medical officers for a certain period. This is done because plague is rampant in India, and the authorities wish to keep it out of the adjacent dependency. If Ceylon, which is much more exposed to infection than we are, finds that system efficient, I do not think that we run much risk, seeing that our ports are ten days’ steaming from India. As to the possibility that quarantine might be relaxed in favour of the Governor-General, or some high official, I thinkthat nowadays the press and our friends in the Labour corner are so vigilant that a responsible official would rather release a steerage passenger. Our friends, quite rightly, are determined that no distinction of rank shall be observed in matters of this kind.
– We should endeavour to see justice done.
– Undoubtedly ; and I admire honorable members for it. The objection raised is a mere bogy. A measure of this kind is badly wanted, because now at every port a different set of State regulations has to be observed. The other day, although we arrived about 8 o’clock in the morning, we could not leave the steamer until mid-day, not because there was disease on board, but because of delay in clearing another steamer. Such a delay means considerable expense to a ship’s owners.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) put -
That the amendment, adding to clause 45 the following new sub-clauses : -“ (3) Where a person ordered into quarantine is not, in the opinion of a quarantine officer, actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, the quarantine officer may, subject to the regulations, permit the person to leave the ship or quarantine station under quarantine surveillance. “(4) Any person under quarantine surveillance shall continue subject to quarantine for such period as is prescribed, and, while so subject, shall be under quarantine surveillance and shall comply with the regulations relating to quarantine surveillance. “ Penalty: One hundred pounds” - be agreed to.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments in clauses 46 and 62 agreed to.
Reported that the Committee had agreed to the amendments; report adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In 1906 Parliament passed the Australian Industries Preservation Act, of which Part II. aimed at the repression of monopolies, while Part III. was designed to prevent dumping. Part II. creates four or five different offences. Its general object is to make it an offence lor persons to enter into a combination in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, either -
It also makes it an offence for foreign corporations with a like intent to restrain trade or commerce, or with intent to destroy or injure by means of unfair competition any Australian industry. It likewise sought to repress monopolies by making it an offence for any person to monopolize or attempt to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce with other countries or among the States with intent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any service, merchandise, or commodity. Further, it made it an offence for any corporation or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth to monopolize, or attemptto monopolize, or combine in any of the ways to which I have already referred. The intention of the Parliament was that trusts which were injurious should be repressed. It was recognised that trusts and combines were beginning togrow in Australia. It was realized, also, that in other countries, notably the United States, therehad been formed large trusts and combines that were operating to the detriment of the public, and that the Legislature of those countries had attempted to pass laws to deal with them. Guided by a similar feeling in Australia, we passed this legislation. Honorable members will recollect that the Bill was attacked at the time as being rather drastic ; but, when compared with the United States law, it is found to be in essence much milder.
– I should think so.
– In our case, the “ intent ‘ ‘ is the essence of the offence ; whereas in the United States of America any combination in restraint of Inter-State trade is an offence. We required something more, and determined that intent should be proved. The Act has-been in operation since 1906, and it has since been our duty to administer it and to apply it to Australian conditions. During the last twelve months more particularly, the existence of a series of combines has been brought under the notice of the Department of the Attorney-General, and, after careful investigation, we have arrived at the conclusion that an amendment of the Act is necessary if we are to cope effectively with those evils. The operations of a “series of combines have been most carefully investigated. The officers of the Department have made full inquiries, and have obtained as much evidence as it is possible to secure in connexion with a number of combines that are alleged to exist in Australia. But when one enters a Court of law in a matter of this kind one has to prove that a combine in restraint of trade is in existence. A combine may consist of a limited number of persons who join together for the purpose of accomplishing a certain object. The agreement to combine is absolutely within their own knowledge, but the effect of what they do may come home to every individual in the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member say that it has been found that there are a number of trusts in Australia?
– Evidence has been submitted to us from which we have every reason to believe that there are combines.
– Then why does not the Department take action?
– I am coming to that point. In all these cases we have in the first place to give proof of the agreement. That agreement, as I have said, is within the knowledge of the limited number who form the combine.
– Do I understand that if this amending Bill be passed, the Government intend immediately to avail themselves of it?
– Wherever we have good reason to believe that a combine exists to the detriment of the public, the intention is to use this legislation to meet the evil.
– The honorable member says that the existence of such combines has been discovered.
– Our investigations lead us to believe that in order that we may effectively cope with the evil it is necessary for us to secure the powers for which this Bill provides.
– There is no doubt that combines do exist .
– That is so; but in all cases it is absolutely essential to establish proof of their existence.
– I suppose we may take it that the necessity for these powers did not occur to the Government when the original Bill was under consideration - some of these powers are obviously necessary.
– They are. certainly necessary.
– It is surprising that the Government did not think of them before.
– The precedents that we have for some of the powers for which we ask are to be found in the later American Acts.
– Some of them appear in the
– And in the United States Act of 1906. The Crown Solicitor, who has investigated a great many of these matters, in a report on the subject, writes -
In this and other proposed prosecutions of Trusts and Combinations the difficulty is to obtain evidence even if a special staff is appointed, for the following reasons : -
Combinations naturally refuse to give any. information voluntarily, if they have been doing wrong, to assist in a prosecution against themselves ; and there are no means at present available to compel them to do so.
– Then the Government discovered their inability to take action after trying to enforce the Act?
– When we have to grapple with the practical difficulties of administration we ascertain exactly what is necessary.
-This Bill has grown out of the Government’s effort to investigate these matters?
– The Crown Solicitor, after investigating concrete cases put before him, made the report from which I was reading. Upon investigation, we felt it was essential for the Administration to be equipped with wider powers than we possess under the existing Act. If honorable members look at the nature of the offences in respect of which prosecutions can be instituted, they will realize that wider powers are necessary. A . secret agreement may be made by six or seven wealthy individuals, who keep the memorandum of agreement within their own possession and control. Naturally, if we ask them for information in regard to it, they decline to give it, saying, “It is our own private concern.” That may be so, but their operations may affect the whole Commonwealth. They are exercising their powers to the detriment of the public, and it is because they are doing so that it is necessary for us to take action and to ask for these powers. The powers for which this Bill provides are not unknown to other countries, or even to our own law. The United States has had to deal with InterState corporations. Its Inter-state Commerce Act of 1887, which applies to all common carriers engaged in Inter-State commerce, provides that all charges for transportation must be reasonable, and prohibits pools or combinations in Inter-State traffic. Under section 20, the Inter-State Commission, appointed to secure the enforcement of the Act, is vested with very wide powers. For instance, that section enables the Commission to require all corporations who are common carriers, subject to the Act’, to furnish annual reports. These show -(1) The amount of capital stock issued, the amounts paid therefor, and the manner of payment: (2) dividends paid, surplus fund, and number of shareholders ; (3) funded and floating debts, and interest paid thereon; (4) cost and value of the carriers’ property ; (5) number of employes, and salaries paid ; (6) amount expended on improvements during the year, and nature of improvements ; (7) earnings and receipts from each branch of business and from all sources; (8) operating and other expenses, balance of profit and loss, and a complete exhibit of the financial operations of the carrier each year. Moreover these reports must contain such information in relation to rates or regulations concerning fares or freights, or agreements, arrangements, or contracts with other common carriers, as the Commission may require. The Inter-State Commission can also require all common carriers to have a uniform system of accounts, and it is absolutely essential that these powers should be given in respect of corporations having control over the highways of trade and commerce, which are practically the lifeblood of the nation.
– That is a really good freetrade sentiment.
– I am afraid that the right honorable member is misapplying the remark. It is necessary that those who control the highways of trade and commerce to the detriment of the public should be dealt with, and that the Commission should have power to obtain from them the nature of their transactions, in order that the law may be enforced. If an honest agreement is made, nothing is to be feared, but if a body of men have entered into an agreement to the detriment of the public the people are entitled to know ‘ it. That is the position that the authorities of the United States of America took up. In 1.906, in the United States, an amending law was passed, giving even more extensive powers of investigation. Under the law of 1906. these reports have to be made on oath, and any failure to file them within the prescribed time, or to make specific answer to any question authorized by the section - that is any question upon which the Commission may need information - is punishable by a fine of $100 per day.
– Is that penalty not limited to a certain class of questions?
– It has reference to the subject-matter of the complaint.
– What are the American Acts to which the honorable gentleman is referring?
– The Inter-State Commerce Act of 1887, and the Amending Act of 1906. Under the latter Act, the Commission has access at all times to all accounts, records and memoranda to be kept by Inter-State carriers, and it is unlawful for a carrier to keep any other accounts, records or memoranda, than those prescribed or approved by the Commission. The Commission may, furthermore, employ special agents or examiners, who have authority under the order of the Commission to inspect and examine any and all accounts, records, &c, kept by any carrier^ The penalty for refusing or failing to keep such accounts, memoranda, &c, as are prescribed by the Commission, or to submit such accounts, to the inspection of the Commission, or any of its authorized agents or examiners, is $500 for each offence, and for every day of the continuance of the offence. Penalties are imposed for false entries. The Inter-State Commission Act deals only with one class of corporation - the classwhich is engaged in Inter-State commerce - railways and carriers. But in February, 1903, the United States. Congress passed ah Act to establish a Department of Commerce and Labour. Section 6 of this Act enacted that there should be, in this Department, a bureau to be called ‘a Bureau pf Corporations, with an officer known as the Commissioner of Corporations at its head. The Commissioner has power to make investigations- into the organization, conduct, and management of the business of any joint stock company, corporation, or corporate combination, engaged in InterState commerce, except common carriers, who are dealt with in the Inter-State Commerce Act. In order to accomplish these purposes, the Commissioner has, with respect to all corporations or combinations engaged in Inter-State commerce, all the powers which are conferred by the Act already alluded to upon the Inter- State Commission. So that in the United States exceedingly large powers have been conferred in regard to this particular matter. Further, the United States Government are rigorously enforcing these laws, and with success. What is the nature of the law that we propose to enact ? . The Bill is a short one, and is confined solely to the question of procedure. It does not purport to amend in any way the principle of the original Act. All that it does is to provide machinery with which it is considered necessary to arm the Executive in order that the law as expressed in the Australian Industries Preservation Act of 1906 may be successfully administered. In the first place, it deals with the onus of proof. In this matter, we simply follow the principle which ‘ has been adopted in our Customs Act. Section 255 of that ‘ Act sets out that when an information has been laid against an individual, the onus of proof is thrown upon him with certain exceptions. We have adopted those exceptions in this Bill, and we ask the House to enact that -
In any prosecution for an offence against sections 4, 5, 7, 8, or 9 of this Act the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information, declaration, or claim shall be deemed to be proved, in the absence of proof to the contrary, but, so that -
the averment in the information of intent shall not be deemed sufficient to prove such intent, and,
in all proceedings for an indictable offence, the guilt of the defendant must be establishedby evidence.
Thus, if we are prosecuting acombine for having entered into an unlawful agreement, and the nature of that agreement is known only to the combine itself, all that we need to allege in our claim is the making of the agreement. Under such circumstances, the agreement would be held to be proved unless the combine could prove the contrary. Clause 15b empowers the Comptroller-General, if he believes that an offence has been committed against theAct, to require any person whom he believes to be capable of giving any information relative to the alleged offence, to answer questions, and to produce documents either to him or to some person named by him. It also provides that the duty shall then be thrown upon that person to answer the questions put to him. The ComptrollerGeneral, or any person to whom any documents have been produced under this provision, may take copies of or extracts from such documents. The clause also provides -
No person shall be excused from answering any ‘question or producing any documents when required to do so under this section on the ground that the answer to the question or the production of the document might tend to criminate him ; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any civil or criminal proceeding other than a proceeding for an offence against this Act.
Under the Customs Act, if a person presents an entry, he is bound to answer any questions which may be put to him. The next clause provides for a heavier penalty, and is directed against trading or financial corporations. It reads -
Whenever a complaint on oath has been made in writing to the Comptroller-General that any person or any foreign corporation or any trading or financial corporation formed with the Commonwealth has been guilty of any offence against this Part of this Act, the Comptroller-General, if he believes the complaint to be well founded, may, by writing, require any such person or foreign corporation or trading or financial corporation or any member, officer, or agent of any such corporation, to produce and hand over to him or to some person appointed by him in writing all books and documents relating to the subjectmatter of the complaint andall books and documents of any kind whatsoever wherein any entry or memorandum appears in any way relating to thesubject-matter of the complaint.
That is not an inquisitorial power.
– It sounds like one.
– I would further point out that this power can be exercised only where a complaint has been made on oath in writing to the ComptrollerGeneral that a person has been guilty of an offence against the Act. The ComptrollerGeneral has also to be satisfied that the complaint is well founded. When he is so satisfied, he may go to the individual in question and say - “ I demand the production of your agreement,” and the individual is bound to produce it, subject to penalties. Under clause 15d of the Bill, the Comptroller-General can obtain possession of these documents and impound them. But to prevent the information thus gained from being disclosed, provision is made that the only persons to whom it may be revealed are the Attorney-General or persons authorized by him, or the ComptrollerGeneral, or the tribunal before whom the case is being tried. I submit that these provisions are absolutely necessary for. the due enforcement of the law. They are not harsh provisions. The innocent man who is carrying on his business in accordance with the law of the land has nothing to fear from this Bill. Underlying the whole measure is a recognition of the fact that Parliament has declared that these combines shall not carry on their operations to the detriment of the public. The machinery which it provides is required to protect the interests alike of the producers and consumers. It is necessary that the Executive should be equipped with these powers in order that the law as declared in the principal Act may be successfully enforced.
.-I have only just had a copy of the Bill placed in my hands, and upon comparing it with the original Act I find that it is full of difficult questions. I think, therefore, it would be in the interests of the measure itself if the debate were adjourned so that honorable members mightbe afforded an opportunity of studying its provisions in the light of the provisions of the principal Act. It is impossible to deal with it in a satisfactory manner at a few moments’ notice, and if no other honorable member desires to speak at the present stage upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I should like to move the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Reid) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply:
Division I (The Senate), £7,093 ; division 2 (House of Representatives),£8,872 ; division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff), £7,021 ; division 4 (The Library),£2,990 ; division 5 (Refreshment Rooms), £835 ; agreed to.
Division 6(Water Power),£250
– I should like to know what has happened to prevent the carrying out of the intention clearly expressed before we adjourned in regard to the ventilating and sewering of Parliament House. We return to work to find an atmosphere just as oppressive and smellful as before, and the sewering still incomplete. Many of us object most strongly to the atmosphere of the House, and to the sanitary arrangements in particular. It has seemed to us for some time simply disgraceful that the Parliament of the Commonwealth, above all other institutions, should not have all up-to-date sanitary arrangements, as well as modern methods of’ ventilation.
– We have no control.
– If so, there is an end of the matter, but we ought to have the statement officially. We were told that some remedial measures were to be taken during the recess, but, if we may take it as official that nothing can be done, then, as I say, there is an end of the matter.
– I only speak because I happen to have been on the House Committee almost since the inauguration of this Parliament, and know that the State Parliament will not agree to the work being done.
– But it was distinctly stated that during the recess the sewering was to be carried out, and a new system of ventilation adopted.
– The State Parliament have not done the work, and there is an end of it.
– The position in regard to ventilation is that the scheme is now actually being carried out, and, it is expected, will be completed in two weeks at furthest. But, of course, as a system of ventilation, it can have no effect until it is completed.As the honorable member has said, the conditions are just as we left them when we adjourned, but progress has been made during the adjournment, and the work advanced to the eve of completion. As to the sewerage, the honorable member has probably derived his information by a statement made in the press on behalf of the State Government, that they propose to alter the whole of the arrangements in the building. I believe the plans are prepared and ready, but this is a work which cannot be carried on while either House is sitting, and. as the Senate has been at work, it has not been possible to take advantage of the recent adjournment. It may take weeks, or, perhaps, months, to complete the sewerage, seeing that the work involves the penetration of these massive walls. It is, however, the intention of the State Government to carry out the sewerage work on the first occasion on which both Houses are long enough in recess.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [9.2]. - If a day should ever come, I suppose, when both Houses are not sitting ! The statement of the Prime Minister is satisfactory as far as it goes, but it seems as if we may give up all hope of ever breathing a pure atmosphere here, or having the ordinary, cleanly, sanitary arrangements common to almost every household. If we have to wait until both Houses are absolutely in recess, our prospects seem hopeless, for, apparently, we have turned on. perpetual motion, though whether that is good for the Commonwealth or not I do not stay to inquire. I advise the Prime Ministerto consider very seriously whether something cannot be done, even though Parliament is sitting continuously, to make this House what it ought to be - a reasonably healthy place in which to transact the country’s business.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 7 (Electric Lighting, Repairs, &c.), £1,341, agreed to.
Division 8 (Queen’s Hall),£604
– I see that for the cleaner engaged in Queen’s Hall a sum of £110 was voted last year, but that only£90 was paid. Am I to understand that the wages of this man have been cut down ?
– That payment is for only part of the year.
– Anyhow, there seems to me to be an invidious distinction made in the wages. No doubt this person is quite as capable as others who receive more money for lighter work, but owing to circumstances over which he has no control he is compelled to take the lower-paid position. There seems to me to be too great a disparity in the wages paid, and I ask whether something cannot be done to remove what appears to me an invidious distinction.
– This cleaner is on his probation.
– This seems an appropriate time, in considering the item of contingencies in connexion with Parliament House, to raise a question which I think should have been raised long ago. I should like to know, first of all, whether any provision has been made on the Estimates for meeting the expenses of the Echuca re-election?
– That matter was before me this morning, and will be provided for in the Additional Estimates.
– I raise the question because I find an amount was paid some time ago to Sir Malcolm McEacharn and Mr. Blackwood in connexion with some other elections.
– This does not come under the division of Parliament, but of Home Affairs.
– The money was provided under the heading of “ House of Representatives,” and why it should appear there I do not know. I invite, the Treasurer to make a statement as to what is proposed to be done in regard to the Echuca election. It has been a custom in both the States Parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament, so far, to pay the expenses of any re-election caused by reason of any fault on the part of the Government.
– I take it that the honorable member is referring to what was done on a previous occasion.
– I quite recognise that the item should have appeared under the heading of the Department of Home Affairs, but I think it appropriate to raise the question now. The Government, in my opinion, should have paid the money long ago ; and they might well have made provision for it in the various Supply Bills which have been passed.
– There are no new items introduced into Supply Bills.
– I am surprised to find .that no provision is made in the Estimates in Chief.
– I must point out to the honorable member that the item of “ Contingencies “ on which he has raised this question deals solely with the telephone service. I think it would be much better to deal with the matter of the Echuca election when it is introduced in due course.
– My trouble is that there is no item in the Estimates.
– The matter to which the honorable, member for Parramatta refers is one that was not ripe for settlement when these Estimates were prepared a considerable time ago. It was only to-day that I received the full information, not only in reference to the Echuca election, but also the South Australian Senate election-; and a point has arisen, which I shall have to consider with the Prime Minister and my colleagues, as to how far the Government should accept responsibility for legal expenses. This is rather a difficult matter, as to pay the legal expenses might set a dangerous precedent. However, the question will be placed before the. Cabinet at the earliest possible date.
– I take it there is no doubt in the honorable gentleman’s mind as to the obligation of the Government to pay the ordinary costs of the elections?
– I have no doubt about that at all.
Proposed vote agreed to..
Division 9 (Parliament Gardens), £482,
.- It is usual for honorable members to move reductions in the votes, but in this case I suggest there should be an increase. These gardens, as « the Prime Minister, who is a lover of the beautiful, will acknowledge, are an adorn ment to Parliament House, but I wish to point out that there is not a sufficiently large staff to keep them in proper order. We have only one foreman gardener and two assistants, and any one who has any knowledge. of gardens will recognise thai such extensive grounds as we have herecannot be properly looked after by so few men. The foreman gardener and his assistants are very hard-worked, and certainly some consideration should be given to thi? matter. The service is not one which can command political influence. We ought not only to see that these buildings are kept in good repair, but also that the surroundings are kept in good order. The gardens are so beautiful that I am sorry that the public has not an opportunity to take pleasure in them. If the surrounding railings were removed, they would be one of the beauty spots of Melbourne. But, at present, probably few persons know how beautiful they are. In the past, they have occasionally been used by certain honorable members for private functions, and, therefore, there should be no objection to the citizens of the Commonwealth using them. My experience is that the general public values these opportunities for enjoyment; and that no vandalism is to be feared. I do not believe in keeping the precincts of Parliament as private as the surroundings of an oriental palace. At any rate, the gardening staff is undermanned, and I hope that the Treasurer will see that further assistance is provided.
.- I agree with what’ the honorable member for Dal ley has said about the work done by the gardening staff. But I would remind him that they are State officers, and, moreover, that we, as mere tenants-at-will of the State Government, have not the right to remove the surrounding fences.
– Of course, the State authorities would have to be approached.
– I think the suggestion that the State authorities should be approached by the House Committee a good one. I have seen, in Canada, parliamentary gardens, much larger “than ours, to which the public had free access, and honorable members were not spied on, nor did any outrageous conduct take place there. This reform was advocated by the honorable member for Melbourne twenty years ago. The honorable member for Dalley will be pleased to know that the fences surrounding a number of theMelbourne parks and gardens have been removed.
– I have noticed that improvement.
.- I am glad to find honorable members from other States appreciative of the advantages of removing the enclosures of public gardens. Ballarat is entitled to great credit for being the pioneer city in this movement. Melbourne has followed its example, and Sydney, though more conservative, her. City Council showing great timidity when the proposal was first made, is now proceeding to do likewise. I heartily concur in the views expressed by the honorable member for Wide Bay as to the question of removing the fences surrounding the Parliament gardens.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 10 (Miscellaneous),£993, agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Division 11 (Administrative), £10,379.
– I should like to know what is being clone in regard to the proposed establishment of the Commonwealth offices in London ?
– That matter will be best dealt with when we come to division 13.
.- Will the Prime Minister inform the Committee what the Government policy is to be in regard to immigration ?
– I would prefer to discuss it in connexion with a later division.
– I understand that a general discussion is permitted on thefirst division of every Department.
– The custom has been to allow a general discussion on the first division of every Department, and when it is concluded honorable members are expected to confine themselves to particular items.
– The Prime Minister has been besieged with questions regarding his immigration policy, but, apart from the general statement a few months back, that he intended to place a large sum on the Estimates, he has told us nothing. If we determine to try to attract emigrants to Australia, we shall have to outvie Canada. If we wish to turn the flood of emigration this way, we must not be content to spend a few thousands per annum.
– Nor must we let immigrants trickle back, as Canada is doing.
– The number remaining in Canada is a sufficient warrant for the active policy of the Dominion.
– If we were as near to Great Britain as Canada is, we should attract twice as much population.
– I am aware that Canada attracts populationfrom Great Britain because of its proximity as much as for any other reason. We can offer immigrants more advantages ; but we supply intending immigrants with little or no information.
– Immigrants used to come in thousands. Had they more knowledge of Australia than exists in Great Britain to-day ?
– New South Wales sent the late Sir Henry Parkes and the late Mr. W. B. Dalley, men of great talent and prominence, and most capable platform speakers, to draw the attention of the people of Great Britain to the possibilities of this country, with the result that for years afterwards there was a steady flow of most desirable immigrants. The Prime Minister says that he believes in this policy. The non-appointment of a High Commissioner, and the lack of information in Great Britain, have retarded immigration.
– Has not New South Wales a very capable representative in Great Britain?
– I appreciate . Mr. Coghlan ‘s activity. By rebutting false statements, and disseminating information, he is doing good work for the State and for the Commonwealth. But we need a Commonwealth representative. When, during the discussion of the Budget, ari expenditure of £20,000 was suggested, I said that £200,000 should be spent, and I understood the Prime Minister to agree to that. It is better to spend a large sum and to get a return, than to allow small sums to trickle away without giving a return. The Prime Minister might well avail himself of this opportunity to give the Committee some further indication of his intentions in this regard.
.- This question of immigration is probably of greater importance to the Commonwealth than is even the passing of the Defence Bill or the consideration of other matters with respect to which the public mind is now exercised. It is, in short, the defence problem of Australia, and must be gone into with considerable care. I found when I was in London that the inferred promise of the Government to spend large sums on ‘ immigration in what, perhaps, might have appeared to be a careless way, had not done the Commonwealth the good that the Prime Minister thought his utterances would effect. In a number of quarters it has, I believe, excited an ambition to share in some degree in a little of the money to be provided rather than to provide us with the immigrants which we all desire. ‘ At the present time there is in ‘existence in England a practice of asking from shipping companies and from Government’s a commission on immigrants’ sent out. I admit that the practice is not general ; but I do not think the Commonwealth requires ‘ immigrants on those terms. We are glad, of course, to get immigrants however we may obtain them, but the people we are anxious to see coming here are those who will arrive with a full knowledge of what they are coming to and who will consequently be best fitted to make themselves useful citizens of our young Commonwealth. We can secure them iti the first place only by endeavouring to get over the geographical disadvantage to which the honorable member for Wide Bay referred when he alluded to the advantage which Canada enjoys over Australia by reason of her proximity to Europe. I cordially agree that ‘were Australia as happily situated, geographically, as Canada is we should by th:s time, owing to our greater natural resources, have received a greater proportion of European emigrants than has that country.
– If Ave were in a similar geographical position we should have the same climate.
– I thought that my honorable friend would realize that I was referring to our distance from Europe. What I wish to urge upon the Prime Minister is that if he desires to overcome that difficulty by equalizing the passage money of immigrants to Canada and to Australia, he must also arrange to allow immigrants to return at the same rate. In the absence of ‘such an arrangement the dissatisfied immigrant comes here with the suspicion that he has been trapped.
– -That is what they do in Canada in connexion with the railways.
– I believe that they do it to some extent. We . want immigrants . to feel that by coming here they profit as much as does the country. If we can create such a feeling I believe that we shall get a free flow of immigrants. That, I think, is the larger side of the question of assisted immigration, and only by dealing with it in that broad way shall we find our action satisfactory. Another question in connexion ‘ with immigration is the urgent’ necessity for. the appointment of some one to speak in London on behalf of the Australian people. A High Commissioner should be appointed without delay. Every time an Australian goes to London he finds more clearly defined the disadvantages under which Australia is suffering in having there no official representative. The people of Canada have there a’ representative who is always putting forward the best phase of Canadian enterprise and political movement. On the other hand,, the various States of Australia which very often are not altogether in complete accord :with the ‘Commonwealth, have in London representatives who are not as anxious, perhaps, to work harmoniously in the interests of ‘the Commonwealth as they are desirous of forwarding the interests of the particular States which they represent.
– The appointment of a Commissioner will not necessarily bring them into accord.
– That is immaterial. If we appoint a High Commissioner, .we shall have some one to speak for the Commonwealth. At present, we have no one.
– What about Captain Collins?
– If my honorable friend will look at the Estimates, he will see that Captain Collins is still drawing his salary as secretary of the Defence Department, and is merely resident for the time being in London. A man in those invidious circumstances - I do not care what his special aptitude may be - is not in a position to render the service that we require of an Australian representative.
– He makes a few remarks now and again about the Commonwealth.
– Attention was. called in this House to remarks reported to have been made by Captain Collins, and I received from him a letter stating that he had not made them.
– I do not wish any’ remarks I am making at present to be turned into an attack upon this or that officer. The point is that we need a. High Commissioner as opposed to an official. I hope that the Prime Minister will do all that he can to urge once more the establishment of this office. . The question of who shall fill it is not so important as is the creation of the office itself. It may, of course, be surrounded with great difficulties ‘ to the Prime Minister. I recognise that it is necessary to obtain, the services of the best man available, and,, whoever we appoint, we require a permanent head of the Government Department in London - a man who, in the administration of that Department, will be able to carry out a consistent policy from year to year, irrespective of who may be the’ political mouthpiece in Australia. It is the appointment itself that is now most necessary to Australia. After all, it is not so much the word that” is uttered as the elevation from which it is uttered that affects the public mind. Whoever occupies the position of High Commissioner of Australia .will speak from a very considerable -eminence, and one which cannot fail to attract the attention which that eminence deserves of public opinion in Great Britain. I hope that the Prime Minister will take this step to create in England a better feeling towards, and a greater confidence in, Australia, and so help to bring about a near solution, or, at all events, the beginning of a near solution of the greatest problem that confronts Australia - the populating of this empty continent.
.- Whilst one cannot but indorse the sentiment expressed in regard to the need of population, I, for one, am tired of listening to mere generalities, and of waiting for a practical proposition. Considering that Australia is a much better country than Canada, we should have no difficulty in attracting immigrants. We have not the snow that Canada has to contend with, and large areas in Australia are more easilyheld’, than in Canada. That is really the reason why we have not a larger population. Our temperate climate makes it easy to hold enormous areas of fertile land. Men have acquired large areas owing to what was at the outset a very necessary policy, and consequently our fertile lands have been alienated. If the best of Australian soil were made readily available, we should not have much need to advertise our resources in the -Old Land. When gold was discovered in Australia, and it was known that any one could obtain a miner’s right to search for it, we did not have, to advertise that fact abroad. As soon as the people in the Old World learned that gold was to be found in Australia and was accessible, they came in thousands to our shores. Let the same principle be applied to our natural resources generally. Let if be known that any one who comes here and is willing to go on the soil will be encouraged by the Government to do so. Let it be known that he will be’ met by Government agents and assisted to secure an area of fertile land, and the people will flock to Australia. Distance will be no bar to their coming. The distance between Australia and Europe today is being reduced. The position is not what it was when America was being settled. It then took as long to cross the Atlantic as it does now to travel from England to Australia.
– Distance was no bar at the time of the gold rush.
– And it would be no bar to the people coming here if it were known that what is better than gold - the permanent wealth of the country, of which the people can never be dispossessed as long as the land is properly cultivated - is available. No proposition for encouraging immigration will have my support unless it is accompanied by some practical proposal to settle the people on the land. We do not desire to turn them out on the land as we turn out a horse in one of our lanes in times of drought. We want it to be understood that men having proper credentials will receive financial assistance in settling on the land. What purpose will be served by establishing in London an institution to send men to Australia if, when they come here, they will have to indulge in what is little better than a gamble for a block of land ? It is idle to talk about the necessity of encouraging immigration as long as we fail to make room on the land for men when they come here, and room in the secondary industries that will then spring up.
– I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will take steps to provide for the establishment of a properly organized Immigration Department working throughout Great Britain. If lecturers travelled the United Kingdom, and the necessary funds were provided, we should have no difficulty in obtaining suitable immigrants. We should be able to obtain men like those who have built up Australia and made her what she is. Men of the eminence of the late William Bede Dalley and Sir Henry Parkes felt it an honour to lecture in the United Kingdom and make known the openings for enterprising immigrants to Australia. If we provide funds by which worthy men, ready to do what the people of England have always done in connexion with our colonization schemes, may leave Great Britain for Australia, we shall have no difficulty in obtaining them. The few men selected by Mr. Coghlan and sent out to New South Wales find employment as soon as they reach their destination. Nevertheless, unemployed are still to be found in Sydney. There is a backwash in every community, and improvident men are even to be found amongst our immigrants. If we are going to nurse our immigrants and bottle-feed them, we shall not have a hardy population as worthy successors to the men who made Australia what she is. There are to be found in the Old Country tens of thousands of men of the stamp of our fathers, who do not require to be brought up on the State feeding-bottle. To talk about bringing men here only upon condition that we can supply them with land, and with money to stock it, is perfectly ridiculous. By acting in that fashion we should be merelycourting failure. If a father started a youth out in the world with a large banking account, the probability is that the youth would return to his home, having wasted his substance in riotous living. So it would be with the immigrant. If we wish to attract immigrants, let us give them a reasonable opportunity of acquiring land upon their arrival. In New South Wales and Victoria schemes are being elaborated at the present time under which they will be able to obtain land. But those States do not intend to give immigrants the land. There are enough men here who are tumbling over each other in their efforts to obtain more land than they already possess. Those who croak about the lack of opportunity which presents itself in this connexion are the real land-grabbers of Australia. Labour bureaux should be established in our midst, ‘ through whose agency immigrants would be able to obtain employment.
– There are hundreds of men in Australia to-day who cannot obtain employment. What would the honorable member do with them?
– I would afford equal opportunities to all men. There is too much disposition to lock up Australia, so that those who are here may continue to be land-grabbers. Those who seek to lock up our lands in the interests of the labourer who is already here are merely pandering to his acquisitiveness. The honorable member for Barrier thinks only of those who are already here, not of those who are willing to come here and contribute to our national wealth.
– Who is preventing them from coming here?
– The honorable member is as active as anybody in that direction. The men who have made this country what it is were not bottle-fed, but individuals of grit and enterprise. In the little State of South Australia -
– Though larger in area than New South Wales and
Victoria combined, it is a little State from the stand-point of the area of good agricultural land that is available, and of her sparse population. But individuals like the honorable member for Barrier have come to Australia to damn the country which has taken them in. They came here to live upon the game. They are really leeches upon the country. They create nothing. They are merely absorbers, and they pander to the lower instincts of those who are susceptible to their influence.
– Who has been telling the honorable member this?
– The honorable member has been under my observation for a number of years. The immigrants who settled South Australia were specially selected by the agents of persons who were anxious to assist in the movement for colonization. To-day that small State, in proportion to its population, is one of the richest of the group. It is marvellous to reflect how those men have succeeded, considering the conditions under which some of them labour who are settled outside Goyder’s line of rainfall.
– Are they not chiefly Germans in South Australia ?
– A large proportion of them are. Where there is a fair field open to him, the German who cannot succeed under German rule will succeed under British rule. If we wish to make Australia great, let usafford the men of England, who are as good in every respect as we are, and who would prove worthy successors of the pioneers who built up this country, an opportunity to settle here. If the Prime Minister will set aside a large sum of money for that purpose I shall be glad to afford him my support. A High Commissioner for the Commonwealth wouldprove an excellent officer in London, but the head of an Immigration Department there is also necessary, and lecturers are required to travel through Great Britain and advertise our resources. Let those who profess to have so much interest in our welfare take up the rôle of lecturers in the Old Country for the purpose of illustrating our resources.
– Would the honorable member give immigrants the land to settle upon ?
– What is the use of providing them with land unless they have experience? When our fathers came to. Australia they had to learn the conditions peculiar to this new country, and it was only because they possessed grit and courage that they succeeded. Many of their successors, I regret to say, have degenerated into weeds.
– The honorable member is not speaking of himself, surely?
– If the honorable member for Barrier has ever done anything for Australia, I should like to hear of it. Personally, I endeavour to make two. blades of grass grow where formerly only one grew. That is more than the honorable member can say. If the Prime Minister would only cease making long speeches upon the subject of immigration, and resolve to act, he would make a reputation worthy of himself. I am pleased to know that he declared himself upon this question when his attitude was not a popular one, and it takes a courageous man to do that. Upon this subject, honorable members upon the other side of the chamber dare not desert him. He can propose what he unquestionably believes in, and they are bound to support him. They are at liberty to leave him if they choose, and in that case members of the Opposition will be found supporting an immigration scheme. A broad-minded statesman, who has a policywhich is worthy of the people whom he represents, is bound to succeed, because he demonstrates that he is a man who is fitted for the position that he fills.
.- I wish to emphasize the necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner at the earliest possible date, in order that the resources of Australia may be made known in the Mother Country, and that we may attract the stream of immigration that is necessary for our national development. Without posing as an alarmist, I think that we have reached a very important stage in our history - a stage almost of stagnation so far as an increase of our population is concerned.
– Why,Victoria gained 20,000 persons during last year.
– Whatis an addition of 20,000 in a continent which is almost as large as the United States? There is no reason to suppose that Australia is not capable of carrying a population equal to that of the United States. But if we are going to increase our population at our present snail’s pace, this country, instead of remaining a portion of theBritish Empire, will, in a few years, be handed over to the teeming millions of Asia. We have now reached a stage when it is incumbent upon us to consider our position, and to reflect whether we ought not to submit to personal sacrifices, rather than allow ourselves to drift into a state of ineptitude which will permit of Eastern nations robbing us of our heritage. I recognise that a policy of inviting here large numbers of immigrants, without being able to at once afford them employment, is one that may be open to the charge of inhumanity. The question, however, is whether there is any greater duty on the Commonwealth or States Governments to find employment for every immigrant than there is to find employment for everybody now within the Commonwealth. If we have to wait until we can provide work for every immigrant we shall not make much advance in population. I believe that the insular policy adopted by the Labour Party, no doubt conscientiously, of discouraging immigration
– How ?
– Every time the question is raised, the Labour Party immediately urge the necessity of first employing the people already here.
– And quite right, too !
– I admit that that is perfectly consistent with the policy of Socialism enunciated as the main plank of the Labour Party - the policy that it is the duty of the State to find employment for every individual. Consistently with that policy, the Labour Party hold that employment must be found for all here before we invite more people to come to this country. The Prime Minister has a difficult task to fulfil in enunciating a vigorous policy of immigration without the opening up of avenues of employment. I believe, however, that if the Commonwealth Parliament shows that it really desires to carry out a broad policy of immigration, encouragement will be given to the States Governments to initiate large public works.
– The question is, who is to take the initiative?
– The Commonwealth Government should show the States Governments that they are ready to supply the necessary labour if these public works are initiated.
– The Prime Minister demonstrated that two or three years ago, but nothing has been done.
– I am not sure that, under the Constitution, it would be possible for the Commonwealth Parliament to take control of the large inland rivers of Australia.
– And the large estates, too.
– That, of course, means a land tax, which the Labour Party so ardently desire. The experience in Victoria so far has been that a land tax does not succeed in cutting up large estates for the benefit of people with limited capital.
– The honorable member does not mean to say that there is a land tax in Victoria.
– I mean to say that the imposition of a land tax will merely mean the purchase of the large estates, when cut up, by the present small holders of land, and not by those of more limited means. With proper negotiation between the Federal and the States authorities, I think it might be possible to initiate an important scheme of locking the Murray, the Murrumbidgee, and the Darling. The water which now runs to waste would thus be conserved, and the dry, arid, but rich country on the banks of those rivers would give room for hundreds of thousands of people. I believe that under present circumstances the States Governments are not sure that the labour would be available if they decided to enter’ upon any such large public works. As a matter of fact, along the rivers I have mentioned there is land sufficient to satisfy the aspirations of a stream of immigration equal to that which has been flowing into Canada.
– The first thing would be to settle the question of the States’ rights to the waters of the rivers.
– The Commonwealth has navigable power over the rivers, and, therefore, it seems to me that there is ample power to lock the streams for navigation purposes.
– And to divert the water ?
– The locking of the rivers would be subject to the reasonable use of the water by the States for irrigation purposes; and the locking, while facilitating navigation,would also conserve the water for irrigation. According to the estimates of the various States’ engineers, there ate 50,000,000 acres along the watercourses I have named that could be irrigated, and thus made quite capable, I believe, of supporting a population of 25,000,000 of people on the basis of the Egyptian Nile and Mildura settlements.
That may appear a rosy picture, but we must remember that France, a comparatively small country, supports from 18,000,000 to 20,000,000 of people on the soil. If the Federal Parliament should undertake the locking of these rivers, we shall find a solution of the land question in its 1 elation to immigration. Considering that we have reached the stage when the States Governments have not fallen in with the proposal or invitation of the Prime Minister to throw their- land open for immigration settlement, it is our duty to use other means ; and I should be very glad to support the .Government in any proposal to lock the streams.
– That is a matter which also depends on the co-operation of the States and the Commonwealth.
– If the Commonwealth Parliament were to undertake the locking of the rivers for navigation purposes, I am sure that the electors of New South Wales and Victoria would not permit the States’ Parliaments to be recreant to their duty in connexion with making land available for irrigation purposes.
– The question is whether the land to be irrigated is private or State land.
– The great bulk of it is private land, but it is of that class which could now be purchased at a moderate rate. Land, which with the water on it would be worth, perhaps, as much as £100 an acre, could now be purchased for ^3 or £5 an acre.
– The honorable member’s suggestion is a good one, and its only defect seems to be that some sevenor eight years must be required to get it under weigh.
– But we must make a start. We have no control over the lands ; but I believe that, if the Commonwealth Government were to initiate a vigorous policy of immigration, we should give a great impetus, not only to State, but to private enterprise.
– What does the honorable member mean by “a vigorous policy”? “
– I was referring more particularly to the- policy of re-purchasing land by the States.
– We can impose a good land tax.
– I know that the Labour Party regard a land tax as the panacea for all evils; but, as I said. before, such a tax will not have the effect that the Labour Party expect. A land tax .will have the effect if high enough-
– Order !
– Let us hear what a land tax, if high enough, would do.
-.! recognise that land settlement is inextricably mixed up with the question of immigration, but, after all, the production from the soil is only a portion of the wealth of the nation. A large number of immigrants may come here, “but only a portion of them will find their place on the soil, many having to drift into other walks of life, possibly some into the great iron industry.
– But those others will find employment in consequence of the occupation of the land.
– Of course, I know that it all means increasing the local market, but what I say is that there are inexhaustible spheres of labour beyond that on the soil. The land settlement policy can be solved in only ohe way, and that is by the re-purchase of the land by the States. If there be a land tax there must be an exemption, just on the same principle that the Labour Party believes in a minimum wage. We may be absolutely certain that the’ Labour organizations in formulating their policy would insist-
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question of immigration ?
– I was going to point out that, just as there is a minimum wage, there must be an exemption in the case of a land tax. The result would be that small men would not buy up and settle on the large estates, but that they would fall into the hands of existing holders in a substantial form. I again emphasize the need for the appointment of a High Commissioner, and for a vigorous scheme of immigration.
– If the speeches of. those’ who have preceded me were not comical, they would be tragical. It has been extraordinary to hear the representatives of wealth and property express the desire that our population may increase at an enormous rate of speed. They know that the larger the population the more there will be for the various places to be filled, and that when there are fifty men waiting for one-‘ job, down will come McGinty’s wages. When men who will not vote for a land tax and the bursting up of large estates talk about the need for immigration, their desire is to have working men fighting for jobs like dogs for a bone. But, in the midst of our Christian civilization, . people are starving, and the farms one hears most of in Australia are baby farms. I am surprised to hear the honorable member for Robertson speaking about Socialism. If individualism makes people starve, Socialism will at least bury them decently.
– Is Socialism dead?
– It is time that the tommytinpotdoubledyeddistilled rot which we have heard about Socialism was buried. Notwithstanding all that we have heard about that and other “isms,” I see no difference between honorable members opposite and ourselves. We should not bring immigrants to this country until we are able to take them by the hand, as they do in Montreal and Quebec, and say, “ We have farms ready for you.”
– Not half of those who go to Canada are able to take up farms.
– Then they are brought out under false pretences. Last year 1,050,000 persons emigrated to the United States of America. I remember when agents used to meet immigrants at Castle Gardens, Philadelphia, and Boston, and convey them by immigrant trains to the west, where they were placed upon 160-acre holdings, with homestead, preemption., or timber right land tenures. Let us do something like that in Australia. If the States will not impose taxation to make land available, and the electors of the Commonwealth do not show themselves sufficiently intelligent to give the Labour Party the necessary numbers, the only thing to do is to alter the Constitution, so that the Commonwealth can buy land, and resell it to immigrants.
– An alteration of the Constitution would not be necessary for that.
– Then I am for doing it. It is about time that we began to work on honest and just lines. We are all interested in building up the population of Australia, by settling the country with a progressive and robust race. The East is watching us. I was pleased when the Prime Minister invited the great American Fleet to visit Australian waters.
Mr.mc Williams. - We have been nearer to fighting the Yank than to fighting the Jap.
– We have no need to fight Japs, or Chinese, or any other people; but I believe that if we were in trouble it would be imperative upon the great American nation to see that the Pacific was kept clear for commerce.
– The United States of America have not helped Canada much.
– The 85,000,000 comprising the population of the United States of America could, if they choose, annex Canada before breakfast. The Monroe doctrine protects Canada from the interference of foreign powers. Coming now to theproposed erection of Commonwealth offices in London
– The honorable member was the first to suggest the idea, and those who laughed at it are now pushing it forward as their own.
– I am glad to get credit for it, and they are wise in their generation. As for the appointment of a High Commissioner, a good man has to be chosen, or none at all. We have a few amongst us who would do splendidly in the position. The right honorable member for East Sydney would make a good! man.
– Surely the honorable member will say a word for those of his own party.
– The honorable member for South Sydney is another good man, and there are others. . But I am not going into that question, beyond saying that, unless an extraordinarily clever, smart, up-to-date man is chosen, it will be useless to make the appointment.
– What about the honorable member?
– I am not looking for the job ; I am getting too old. I want to be Treasurer of this country, and I shall be. Then Australia will have a banking system which will help the poor man. But the £4,400 put down for the erection of Commonwealth buildings in London is altogether too small an amount. What could one do in London with a sum like that? It would not buy a decent breakfast at the Savoy.
– Although a general discussion is permitted on the first division.
– If the attempt is made to go out of the beaten track, the person making it is looked upon as a menace to the well-being of the country. I suggest that we should devise some system for rearing the children which now perish miserably in our midst for want of proper care. Thousands of infants are done to death because we have not the courage to build foundling asylums, as Canada has done, to preserve infant life for the benefit of the State. It is time that we got rid of false shame, and hit straight out from the shoulder. Instead ofletting infants perish in baby farms, we should preserve their lives, and bring them up decently. We ought to try to change our economic conditions. I would vote to-morrow for expenditure upon the erectionof three or four foundling asylums. Did honorable members read the reports about the Perth baby farming case the other day? They were disgraceful.
– We have heard enough of the statement so often repeated in this House that there is no land available for settlement in Australia. I am one of those who think that there is a great deal of nonsense, and sometimes a good deal of insincerity, associated with the talk that we hear on the question of immigration. Up to the present, I have been unable to see how the Commonwealth could possibly establish any system of immigration unless, as some honorable member has said, it simply landed the people on the wharfs and left them there to shift for themselves. That would be undesirable, and it seems to me that in speaking of immigration we are talking about something that we are not prepared at present to undertake. I am not now discussing the advisableness of immigration to Australia, because I believe that thousands of people of the right class could come here and do better than they could elsewhere. The statement has repeatedly been made in this House that there is no land available in Australia, and that in order to obtain suitable areas for settlement, the Federal Government, or the States Governments, must either burst up existing estates by a land tax or by compulsory purchase. A very interesting table has been prepared by the Government Statistician, showing the area of land alienated in each of the States up
– The rest is leased on long terms.
– I am going to show honorable members that no greater libel has been uttered against Australia than the statement that we have no land available for settlement.
– The return is very misleading, because a large proportion of the unalienated land is not fit for closer settlement.
– Only 25 per cent. of the lands of New South Wales have been alienated; 47 per cent. of the lands of Victoria; and 4 per cent. of the lands of Queensland. In South Australia, a little over 3 per cent. has been alienated ; whilst in the Northern Territory, only 14 per cent. has been alienated from the Crown.
– Would the honorable member like a friend of his who had just arrived from England to take up a farm in the Northern Territory ?
– No ; but I am sure the honorable member will agree with me that out of the 96 percent. of the lands of Queensland still owned by the State an enormous proportion is fit for settlement by the right class of people.
– I do not know where it is.
– Only 2 per cent. of the lands of Western Australia have been alienated.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that what is not alienated is available for settlement?
– I contradict that statement.
– In Tasmania, only 32 per cent. of the land has been alienated from the Crown.
– Could a man obtain from the Government of Tasmania a 640-acre block?
– No; because the Government of that State will not sell to one individual a block of more than 240 acres of first-class land. The honorable member for Macquarie has said that the unalienated land of the States is not available because it has been leased. The whole of the land leased here is, however, subject to resumption. The land policy of Queensland is distinctly liberal. There a man may take up 240 acres of first-class land, which be comes his own after he has resided on it for five years, and paid during that time an annual rental of1s. per acre.
– He may take up 640 acres.
– Then the land laws of Queensland are even more liberal than I thought.
– If I were to allow the honorable member to go into details regarding the land laws of each of the States there would be no finality to this debate. The honorable member may refer incidentally to them, but must not discuss them in detail.
– I have quoted these figures in answer to the statements often made that there is no land available for settlement in Australia.
– If the honorable member were searching Queensland for a selection he would have to go a long way to find one to suit him.
– Does the honorable member say that, although only 4 per cent. of the land of that State has been alienated, the pick of the country has been taken up?
– Undoubtedly; years ago.
– When only half the land now taken up had been alienated it was even more difficult to obtain a selection.
– Then I am forced to the conclusion that there is more truth in what honorable members have said on this subject than I thought. If their statements are correct, it is idle to talk about attracting to our shores hundreds of thousands of people to be settled on the land. The figures as to the lands leased by the Crown are as follow : - New South Wales, 62 per cent. ; Victoria, 29 per cent. ; Queensland, 57 per cent. ; South Australia, 37 per cent. ; and Tasmania, 24 per cent.
– If there is so much land available for settlement in Queensland, why is the State Government buying up estates?
– To put the “ stinking fish “ party on it.
– I am afraid that the “ stinking fish “ cry comes rather from those who declare that, although in some of the States practically no land has been alienated, there is really no land available for settlement. Either the unalienated land in these States is of such a quality that it offers no inducement to the people to settle upon it, or it has been so mismanaged by the authorities that the cry that there isno suitable land available is all moonshine. I differ from the majority who say that it is essential that a High Commissioner should be appointed. Up to the present nothing has been put before the Committee to show what duties the High Commissioner could actually perform. Some say it is necessary for the Commonwealth to have a High Commissioner to act as an immigration agent, but, in the next breath, they tell us that it is impossible for the Commonwealth to establish a system of immigration. I believe that it is. Then we are told that it is necessary to have in London a High Commissioner to refute the slanders on Australia that are published from time to time in the press of England. I think that articles published in the English press decrying or belauding Australia have no more effect upon the Commonwealth than have the articles which appear from time to time in our own newspapers. I believe that for the next five or ten years the duties of a High Commissioner would bp practically those of a showman, who would merely represent the Commonwealth at various functions in London. Certainly his services would be of no practical value to Australia until the States debts had been taken over by the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable member think that it is time those debts were taken over ?
– They should have been taken over long ago, and I believe that they would have been had the right honorable member for Swan been permitted to carry out his scheme. I come now to one of the most important questions with which we shall have to deal during the current session - the administration of Papua. I hold that the Commonwealth, in taking over that territory, has incurred an enormous responsibility, and one which has not yet been adequately recognised. We have taken over the control of practically halfamillion natives there, and I say that our system of indenting them has been a standing disgrace to the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, 25 per cent.’ of the natives employed as carriers by white miners at the miserable wage of 10s. per month were dying annually., and the Commonwealth has closed its eyes to the fact. I am very glad to learn that there has been a decided diminution in the mortality rate amongst this class.
– What has become of the aboriginal natives of Tasmania?
– Unfortunately they have died out. I know that the honorable member will not subscribe to a system under which the natives of Papua are employed as carriers for10s. per month if one out of every four of them dies each year.
– I have had to “ waltz my own Matilda “ and get nothing for it.
– That is no reason why the miners should employ these natives of Papua at10s. a month. In addition, the former have instituted a system of fines, so that in some cases the natives receive very little in return for their labour. Thus we, who have made such a fuss about the employment of cheap labour on the Rand, have been permitting the employment of the natives of Papua under the most disgraceful conditions.
– The Labour Party will have to take the. matter up, because no other party will do so.
– If the sugarplanters had been employing these natives, the matter would have been taken up long ago. It is merely because they are employed by the miners-
– The Postmaster-General had to retract certain statements in reference to the miners of Newcastle, so the honorable member had better not make any statements which he may have to recall.
– Reports have been presented to this House which show that the mortality rate amongst the natives of Papua was 26 per cent. annually.
– That was at Woodlark.
– No; it was at a place possessing a native name which somewhat resembles Kurri Kurri. Honorable members can find the proper name in the reports - the name is not the issue. The system which obtains in Papua of allowing white miners to employ natives as carriers for10s. per month, and to rob them of their wages by means of fines, is one which is not creditable to the Commonwealth.
– I think that progress might now be reported. I desire to speak upon the item relating to advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.
– I understand that the Prime Minister, who had charge of the Estimates of his own Department, had a conversation with the deputy leader of the Opposition, and that an arrangement was arrived at to dispose of the Estimates up to division 12 to-night. They contain nothing of a debatable character.
.- Of course there is no harm in an arrangement such as has been mentioned being made between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. At the same time, quite a number of members of the party to which I belong desire to speak upon the question of land settlement, and the Chairman has already ruled that when the first division has been disposed of the general debate must be regarded as closed. He will, therefore, be bound to restrict subsequent speakers to particular items. In my parliamentary experience I have observed that any attempt to restrict discussion usually leads to waste of time. I am sure that we shall not make any headway by attempting to adhere to the arrangement alleged to have been made between the Prime Minister and the deputy leader of the Opposition, seeing that a number of honorable members desire to speak. The question which we have been discussing is one of the most important that will be considered in connexion with the Estimates.
– I understood a little time ago that the leader of the Labour Party was aware of the arrangement which had been arrived at between the Prime Minister and myself.
– The intimation which I received from the Prime Minister was conveyed to me by the honorable member for Barrier, and it occurred to me that it was a very reasonable proposal for the Prime Minister to make. In my judgment ‘there can be no restriction applied to a debate such as that in which we are now engaged. For instance, we have not yet come to the item relating to immigration. There will be an absolutely unfettered discussion upon that item when we reach it.
– But we could not connect the question of land settlement with that.
– The Chairman has already ruled that honorable members may refer incidentally to the land question. It would be impossible to intelligently discuss the question of immigration without doing so.
– The only excuse for mentioning land settlement is the item of £20,000 which appears upon these Estimates.
– Precisely. No object is to be gained by keeping the general debate open any longer, since every item that has been touched on to-night may be specifically discussed at a later stage.
.- I make no complaint about not being consulted in regard to the arrangement arrived at between the Prime Minister and the acting leader of the Opposition. Indeed, I have said that it was a very proper thing for the acting deputy leader of the Opposition to consult with the Prime Minister upon this matter.
– I did not consult him. The suggestion came from him.
– I make no complaint in that connexion. At the same time, a number of honorable members of my own party desire to address themselves to the first division in this Department, and, in view of the Chairman’s ruling, I think we should be acting wisely by allowing the general debate to remain open. I do not think that the Prime Minister would be inclined to hold to the arrangement which has been made if he knew that the hour was getting late, and that a number of honorable members still desired to speak.
.-I should like to know what will be the attitude of the Chairman towards honorable members who desire to enter upon a general discussion of the question of land settlement upon a later item. In the past we have frequentlybeen misled into the belief that by sacrificing the right to speak at a certain stage we should be allowed ample opportunity later. I suppose, however, we shall have to respect the arrangement which has been entered into. I think the Minister should explain the policy of the Government on immigration and the land question. I understand, however, that the Minister is not disposed to make such an explanation” although we are asked to spend a very large sum of money in this connexion. No declaration as to how the money is to be spent has been made .
.- Circumstances alter cases, and I suggest that the arrangement which has - been entered into might be altered. I am anxious that we should get on with the Estimates; but, according to the Minister, we are to have a full and open discussion at a later time, and, if that be so, we might as well have an open discussion first as last. But another reason, which must be just as urgent with the Minister, is that the leader of the Labour Party has made a firm request that there be a postponement.
– There was nothing in the shape of a request ; all I said was that one or two members of my party who desired - to speak had gone home.
– I do not think that the Minister can overlook the necessity of meeting the convenience of one or two members of the Labour Party.I understand now, however, that the request or suggestion by the honorable member for Wide Bay was not made very firmly. But when that request or suggestion is backed by the interjected declaration of the honorable member for Maranoa that it is time for the Government to “ turn it up,” I do not quite see what other course the Government can take than to report progress at this item.
.-I think the Minister is making a mistake, but that, of course, is a matter for himself. I take no exception to the agreement, nor do I propose to take any notice of the remarks made by the honorable member for Wentworth. I may point out, however, that younger members of Parliament always have every facility and courtesy extended to them when they are particularly anxious ‘to speak; and that is the reason I madethe suggestion in regard to the postponement of the item. Therefore, whileI am always anxious to observe any arrangement that has been come to, I think the Minister might give way on the present occasion. The honorable member for Barrier informed me that the Prime Minister had consented to adjourn when a certain point in the Estimates had been reached. I do notclaim any right in my position to be consulted in matters of that kind ; but when I make an appeal for others I expect my remarks to receive some consideration. In view of the arrangement arrived at, I suppose it is useless for me to protest. I should like, however, to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin - remarks which I do not think will prove gratifying to that gentleman when he reads them in Hansard to-morrow. There may have been a high mortality amongst carriers in the mining fields of Papua, but it is absolutely wrong to charge that mortality to the act of any of the miners.
– I did not say that it was due toany act of the miners, but merely that it was the duty of Parliament to see into the matter.
– The honorable member for Franklin said that those miners, if in Australia, would be vigorous supporters of a White Australia and opponents of black labour. The inference from those remarks is that these miners are not only misleading, but misusing the native carriers and causing their deaths.
– That is entirely the honorable member’s own assumption.
– All I understood the honorable member to say was that investigation was required.
– Those miners very properly would be against black labour in Australia, but is it contended, therefore, that they shouldnot employ native labour in Papua?
– At10s. a month, and all the wages are retained in the shape of fines !
– If there be such conduct it might form the basis of a charge against the Administration, but not against the miners. It may, of course, be a reflection on the miners as sweaters; but the natives of Papua are under the particular care of the Governor or Administrator, and it is the dutyof him and his officers to see that they are properly protected in every way.
– The honorable member for Franklin said that the percentage of deaths was higher than in any slavery he had ever heard of.
– The deaths were 26 per cent. in one year.
– That surely needs some inquiry.
– It has been inquired into and accounted for.
– I admit the mortality has been high ; but I cannot admit that the deaths have been proved to lie at the door of the white miners, who have suffered greater hardships on the gold-fields than have any of the natives. They have taken their lives in their hands, and pioneered the country, with the courage and. ability which always distinguishes men of their class.
– Does the honorable member advocate a system whereby men are paid£3 a year, and fined for certain offences, the fines being deducted from their wages at the end of theyear?
– No; that is a wrong and mischievous system, which should not continue. But that is not the charge which the honorable member brought against the white miners.
– It is one of them.
– His charge was that they had not been fair in the payment of wages, and by their negligence had contributed to the highness of the death-rate.
– No. I pointed out that the death-rate was high, and that Parliament, although attention was drawn to the matter on a former occasion, had done nothing to reduce it.
– It would have been better had the honorable member taken some serious action in the matter two years ago. When a member of Parliament thinks that manslaughter is the result of want of proper legislation he fails in his duty if he does not make a direct attack on the Government.
– I stated the case fully in this chamber, and so did the honorable member for Melbourne.
– That was not enough. The honorable member also referred to the large areas of unalienated landin the various States, but he failed to prove that suitable land is available for immediate settlement. Notwithstanding the enterprise of the Governments of South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland in regard to land settlement, is it not a fact that there are unemployed’ in nearly all the States?
-If the honorable member wishes to speak at any length, I should like to report progress. The Prime Minister asked me to proceed to a certain point in the Estimates, telling me that he had conferred with the deputy leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Barrier, andI thought with the honorable member also. However, under the circumstances I had better exercise my own discretion.
House adjourned at 11. 15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080312_reps_3_44/>.