3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
-Is it the intention of the Minister of Home Affairs to close the polling booth atBrookfield, New South Wales? If so, I ask him to reconsider the matter, seeing that the closing ofthe booth would be a gross injustice, as it would cause great inconvenience to a large number of electors.
-If the honorable member will repeat the question to-morrow, I shall be able to furnish him with the necessary information. I cannot answer it now, since I was unaware that such a question would be asked.
Employment : Royal Commission
-Some time ago when there was a good deal of trouble infinding employment for men in Melbourne, I suggested to the then Minister of Trade and Customs that his officers in northern Queensland should at the end of every crushing season, prepare a report, which would ultimately be available to members, showing what labour had been obtainable, whether there was any stand-over cane, and, if so, why, and other particulars connected with the labour question. I ask the present Minister if such reports have been furnished to him, and, if so, whether he will make them available to honorable members?
-The Queensland inspectors of cane furnish monthly reports, available to members and to the press; but hitherto the press has taken little notice of them.
– In view of the fact that the coming recess will be the only opportunity before the next election of inquiring into the sugar industry, if it is desired to do so, will the Prime Minister state whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint a RoyalCommission, or any other body to inquire into all the circumstances surrounding the industry and the various interests affected by it? If such is the intention of the Government, will the Prime Minister subscribe to the view that that body should be composed principally of experts with special knowledge of the industry, and its surroundings, and not entirely of politicians?
-While not desiring to give at this stage a definite and distinct reply, I see no necessity for a Royal Commission in regard to the sugar industry at present. Any Commission, if appointed, would have to be of such a nature as would give entire satisfaction, not only to Queensland, but to the people of the whole of the Commonwealth.
Report (No. 4) presented by Mr. Ed wards, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
-The Seat of Government (Yass-Canberra) Bill, having now passed through both Houses, will the Prime Minister indicate what steps are to be taken to expedite the final settlement of the Capital site question?
-The first thing to be done is to discover a suitable site for. a city in the area which has been selected. My view is that when asite-there may be more thanone-has been recommended, members of the Parliament should be given an opportunity to make at least one visit to it, before being asked whether they will ratify the selection. But whilst all expedition will be used, we must not be too fidgety. Due care and caution must be observed, to insure the selection of the best site available. Negotiations with the Government of New South Wales will be commenced as soon as the Bill becomes an Act.
-Asno further legislative step in the matter can be taken until next session, I ask the Prime Minister whether during the recess he will ascertain from competent authorities how long it would take to erect the buildings necessary to enable Federal affairs to.be transacted in the permanent Seat of Government, also as to the cost of their erection, so that he may give the information to Parliament on its re-assembling. Some years ago the New South Wales Government Architect obtained plans of all the leading Parliament Houses in the world, and prepared rough estimates of the time which would be needed to build the internal portion of a suitable edifice, leaving the decorative part to be finished later. Will the Prime Minister during the recess have the matter inquired into, so that the information may be available at the beginning of next session?
-Experts will be employed by the Government to discover the most suitable site in the area which has been chosen, and to obtain such information as may be necessary to enable Parliament to deal with the matter. I hold that there is a misconception as to the probable cost of commencing the Federal Capital. Personally, I should like to see Spartan simplicity observed. We should build, as cathedrals are built, commencing with small structures, to be added to as our necessities demand, until we have completed buildings which will be a credit to the Commonwealth.
– I understand that the Minister of. Home Affairs has already taken preliminary steps in this matter. I ask him if, during the recess, he will make a strong effort to have the survey of the area completed, so that, on the reassembling of Parliament, we may be able to go ahead with the preliminary arrange-, ments for building the Federal city. Has the honorable gentleman made arrangements for getting surveyors? Can be give us a general idea as to what steps have been taken ?
-Before answering the honorable member’s question it appears necessary to mention that all questions relating to the Federal Capital come within the purview of the Department of Home Affairs, and arc to be addressed to the Minister administering that Department. Replying to the honorable member for Cook, I may say that even before the Capital Site Bill had passed, negotiations were passing with the New South Wales Government as to surveying the territory. We have already had an offer of expert assistance from that Government, and I am hopeful that we shall obtain the services of the officers who have been engaged on similar work elsewhere. No time will be lost in doing everything that may be necessary.
-I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, as he has invited questions on the subject, whether, in the preparation of next year’s Estimates, during the recess, he will cause a sum to be put down for the establishment of the Federal- city. If he does that, it will be evidence of the earnestness of the Government in this matter.
Mr.MAHON. - When the necessity for expending money arises, the Government will be prepared to carry out whatever obligations may arise.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will at once enter into negotiations with the Government of New South Wales as to the area which it is ready to concede, and other matters connected with the Federal Capital site question, so that, when Parliament re-assembles, we shall be able to take action towards establishing the Seat of Government as soon as possible.
-I think I answered that question when I said that negotiations will be opened up with the Government of New South Wales as soon as the Bill has become an Act.
– As the Premiers of the Slates meet in conference during the recess to discuss the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, will the Prime Minister inform the House as to the proposals of the Government for the re-ad’justment of financial matters.
– I have always been favorable to a discussion of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States; but this is not a fitting time for it. The general financial policy of the Government will be submitted early next session. 1 do not think anything can be gained by discussing the question until the Premiers have met and considered it in the light of their needs.
– Is the Minister yet in a position to ans*er the question respecting cadet encampments which I asked a few C.,1 VS ago?
– The honorable member asked whether the cadets attached to the Sydney public schools are to be taken into camp during the Christmas holidays, and charged ?1 5s. each. The following telegram on the subject has been received from the New South Wales Military” Commandant : -
No foundation for statement. All camp expenses military cadets defrayed from cadet vote.
MINISTERS laid, upon the table the following papers: -
Public Service Act. - Fourth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Commissioner.
Ordered to be printed.
Transferred Properties - Valuations by the Official Representatives of the Commonwealth and the States.
Defence Department - Memorandum by the Minister of State for Defence on the Estimates of the Defence Department for the Financial Year 190S-9.
Defence of Australia - Articles by Colonel H. Foster, Director of Military Studies, Sydney University, and Views thereon of Captain W. R. Creswell, Naval Director.
Bounties Act Regulation No. 16 Amended. - Statute?)’ Rules 1908, No. 119.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Federal Officers Transferred from State to State. - Return to an Order of the House,, dated 24th September, 190S.
Mr. SPEAKER presented
Finance, 1907-8 - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1908, accompanied by the report of the Auditor-General.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the report in this morning’s newspapers of the disclosure in Queensland of what appears to be serious corruption and malpractice under the operation of the postal yoting system? If so, what steps does he propose to take to prevent such occurrences in Commonwealth elections?
– I have personal, as welt as other, knowledge of the unsatisfactory manner in which postal voting is conducted1 in Queensland. The law has been amended! in that State, and when a Bill to amend our Electoral Act is introduced, the matter will have to be dealt with very carefully.
– Has it comeofficially under the notice of the Minister of External Affairs that the German Government has appointed a Commissioner to deal with the delimitation of the boundary between British and German New Guinea ? If it has, can the Minister state when the work is to be begun, and whether Australia will be charged with any part of the expense incurred by the joint Commission ? Has the Government been consulted in the matter?
– The Government has not been consulted with regard to the appointment of the German officer. That, of course, was done by the German Government. Information as to the appointment was forwarded officially to this Government, with an intimation that the officer mentioned had set out for New Guinea.
– The -Commissioners have wide, general powers to decide the details themselves.
– That is so. This Government recommended the appointment of Mr. Sabine, the Surveyor at ‘New Guinea, and his appointment has been approved of. His instructions are wide, but whatever proposals are made by the joint Commission have to be submitted to the Imperial and German Governments before they are finally decided upon. Thework is the delimitation of the boundary of part of a Commonwealth territory, and we pay the cost.
Field Artillery Ammunition Waggons - Brennan Torpedo
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a question with reference to the statements made by him in this Chamber recently as to the want of ammunition waggons for the field artillery. Was that shortage brought under the notice of the ex-Minister of Defence by the experts of the Department, and if so, will he submit the reports of those experts to honorable members at the earliest opportunity?
– I cannot say whether the experts drew the attention of the ex-Minister of Defence to the fact. I have no doubt that they did so. At any rate, the whole of the facts are in possession of the present Minister, who will be in a position to submit to honorable members a statement on the subject later on.
– Has the Honorary Minister acquainted himself with the statement made by the Minister of Defence in the Senate on this subject, in which the Minister is reported to have denied that there was any deficiency in the supply of artillery* ammunition waggons, stating that they were either completed or now in hand and would be delivered in due course?
– Ammunition waggons have been supplied for some of the arms of the force, but they are certainly not suitable for active service field work.
– That is not what the Minister of Defence said.
– I think the honorable member for Ballarat had in his mind limbers and not ammunition waggons. Can the Honorary Minister state how many ammunition waggons for field artillery for first line transport, which are essential to keep quick-firing artillery in action, are at present in existence in Australia? Three field artillery brigades and one howitzer brigade in the English service require 186 ammunition waggons, and I wish to ascertain for purposes of comparison how mail v waggons of this type we have.
– Will the honorable member give notice of the question?
– In regard to the Brennan torpedo, the patent rights in which were acquired by the British Government at a cost of over ,£100,000, I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to make inquiries with a view of ascertaining whether the right which the
Victorian Department of Defence obtained from Mr. Brennan, in consideration of £1,000 advanced for experiments, to use that torpedo was transferred to the Commonwealth when the service was taken over, and if in that way the Commonwealth Government has acquired the right to use it in the defence of our shores.
– I shall make the necessary inquiries.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs if there is any truth in the press reports that the Government contemplate buying Mr. Brennan’s mono-rail invention? If the Government have any such intention, will they give the House an opportunity of dealing with the matter before negotiations are completed? Personally, I do not like the proposal.
– The Government will not commit the Commonwealth to any serious expenditure in this matter without giving the House an opportunity of considering it.
– As the matter is of considerable importance to the States equally with the Commonwealth, will the Minister enter into negotiations with the States -to obtain their co-operation in giving the invention a trial between now and the opening of next session ?
– If the States are disposed to take the matter up - and, of course, it is primarily a railway question - the Commonwealth will be glad to cooperate with them, but no proposals have yet been made by any of the States in that direction. If any are made the Commonwealth will be prepared to meet them.
-Is it not a fact that the mono-rail is as yet only in the experimental stage, and that the money which is desired is for further experiments in the hope of perfecting it? Will the Minister bear that in mind in considering any proposals regarding the matter?
– The question is at present entirely in the experimental stage, and the point which the Government have to consider is whether they should enter into what is more or less of a speculation. The possibilities of the invention in the event of its being successful are so vast that it would be a very good thing for the Commonwealth to have some direct interest in it, but at present, as the honorable member rightly observes, it is entirely expert- mental, andthe Government are bearing that fact in mind in considering the whole matter.
-Can the Minister of Home Affairs now supply the information which I asked for yesterday with reference to the preparation of the new electoral rolls?
-The information required by the honorable member is as follows : -
New rolls for the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania are now being printed, and it is anticipated that the work will be completed in the whole of these States in about eight weeks. With regard to Western Australia, rolls have been compiled and negotiations are almost complete as to printing, which may occupy from six to eight weeks if the work is carried out locally as desired. The preparation of new rolls for the State of South Australia has been deferred until the State Parliament has disposed of the amending Electoral Bill now before it, when it is hoped that the Commonwealth and the State will be able to co-operate in the preparation of a new set of rolls.
– Will the Prime Minister stale what the position is in regard to the issue of the report of the Royal Commission on Secret Drugs? Are copies to be supplied to those who desire to have them, and upon what terms?
– I purpose following the same rule as was followed by my predecessor, who decided that copies could be had on application. I suppose the price will be the cost price. I do not think it is advisable to distribute the report in the ordinary way.
Mr.WATSON.-Will the Minister of Trade andCustoms state whether he has yet laid upon the table of the Library the papers in connexion with the case of Harris, Scarfe, and Company, Adelaide?
– The papers have already been laid upon the table of the Library.
Returns for 1906 - Marked Newspapers - New South Wales Telephone Service - Sydney Letter Deliveries
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state why no figures are given in reference to the capitals of the States in the returns for1906 in connexion with post and telegraph offices? If that information is being prepared, when is it likely to be issued ?
-I understand that the reason why what the honorable member refers to has occurred is that the States were told to make out their statements on lines similar to those followed before Federation. I think that next year returns will be given of the revenue and expenditure for the General Post Offices of the various capitals.
– In view of the fact that every member of Parliament,. and most citizens, receive newspapers marked with pencil, the markings serving to draw attention to the particular printed matter which it is desired to bring under notice, will the Postmaster-General consider the advisability of altering the present system of the Department of dealing with such marked newspapers so that people who innocently send or receive them may not be penalized ?
-I shall make inquiries, and if it is only a matter of regulation, and does not in any way affect the carrying of newspapers through the post as newspapers, I will have the restriction removed.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any funds available for the extension of the telephone service in New South Wales during the ensuingyear?
-I am afraid that at present I have not.
– I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether we are to understand from the statement be has just made that all the new telephone services in New South Wales for which provision has been made, and which in some cases the ex-Postmaster-General ordered to be carried out, are to be at a standstill during the recess?
-Unless an advance can be obtained by the Department from the Treasurer’s Advance Account, no new works Can be proceeded with other than those for which provision is made on the Estimates.
– Has the Postmaster-General yet received the information which I asked for recently regarding the hours of letter delivery within five miles of the Sydney General Post Office?
– The following information has now been furnished by the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney -
Herewith is a statement showing the suburbs within seven miles of the General Post Office, Sydney, from which deliveries are effected to a population of 3,000 and over in each case. The latest time of completion of the first morning delivery, in the business and thickly populated localities, and also in the thinly populated and outlying localities, has been given. The population within the radius is likewise shown, and it will be observed that it varies considerably. This, and the fact that some of the letter carriers’ beats are more extensive than others, will account for the differences in the time of completion of the deliveries.
Leave to Supernumeraries
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Mr. G. S. Brown
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice-
Will he make inquiry with a view to ascertaining -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I should like to remind honorable members that the principal Act has been in operation for seven years, and that during that time the education test for which it provides has been rigorously applied to all Asiatics, and particularly to Chinese, seeking to enter the Commonwealth.
– Why more particularly in the case of Chinese?
– Because the Chinese are exceedingly clever in evading, or attempting to evade, the provisions of the Act, and are perhaps more anxious than are other Asiatics to enter Australia. In the natural course of events, the number of Asiatics now in the Commonwealth ought to be less than it was when the principal Act first came into force. It is difficult, however, to ascertain whether there has been any considerable diminution. The statistical information that would enable us to determine the question is not available, and until the next census is taken, and, perhaps, for some time later, it will be difficult to institute comparisons upon which we may rely. We know, too, that even the census may be readily evaded by those who wish to do so. At present our only guide is the statistical information furnished by the Department of Trade and Customs.
– Do not the Customs returns show a decrease in the number of Asiatics entering Australia?
– They show a slight decrease.I have asked the Department to compile a return from the Customs statistics, but I have not yet received it. Western Australia furnishes monthly returns as to the number of Asiatics in that State and there show an increase. There may be, however, a corresponding decrease in other parts of the Commonwealth, but as the other States do not furnish suchreturns, we cannot obtain authoritative information on the subject. I trust that as the statistical branch of the Department of Home Affairs develops, the information at present at our disposal in regard to this matter will be considerably augmented. The Customs returns donot, and obviously they could not,show the number of Asiatics who surreptitiously enter the Commonwealth. Desertions ‘by members of a ship’s crew are recorded by the Department, and the number of aliens who in that way have obtained a permanent footing in Australia is not such as to cause great anxiety. All such cases are reported to the Department, and for every Chinese deserter who finds a permanent footing in Australia, another Chinese probably departs from our shores, so that the number in Australia is not increased to any extent in that way. But stowaways - and it is with stowaways that this Bill deals - undoubtedly add to our alien population.
-Does the honorable member think that the leakage is considerable ?
-I believe that it is, but at the same time I think that it is idle to express opinions calculated to give rise to a scare unless we know that they are well founded. However closely one may apply oneself to the task of discovering the extent of this leakage, one finds it absolutely impossible to obtain reliable information. If we knew for a fact that there was a very considerable leakage, it would be a comparatively simple matter to stop it; but our inability to ascertain the true facts is the difficulty with which we are confronted. The Department has been informed, and some reliable persons are of opinion that there is foundation for the statement, that thousands of prohibited immigrants, and more particularly Chinese, annually succeed in entering the Commonwealth as stowaways, or as deserters from ships’ crews. We are also told that shipowners are indemnified in the matter of any convictions that may be recorded against them for allowing deserters to land.
-They deny that absolutely.
– The honorable member is rather overstating the fact. All ship-owners do not deny the statement, but one ship-owner has done so, and probably he is stating what he believes to be the truth. The Department is aware that statements to the contrary have frequently been made, but I do not intend to rely upon such statements in order to justify the introduction of this Bill. I cannot say whether the number of aliens surreptitiously entering the Commonwealth amounts to hundreds or thousands, but when we find it possible for twenty to be stowed away on one ship coming to Australia, and to be fed on board for four months, with all the risk of a fine of £100 being imposed on the. master, in the event of their being caught when landing, the inference is that the business must have been going on for a considerable lime, and have been pretty well organized. We may be sure that these twenty are not the first who have been brought to Australia under similar circumstances; and we can, therefore, readily believe that the number who have eluded capture must be considerable. It will be remembered that these twenty men were discovered, not in an early port of call, but in one of the last.
– Van-loads of these men can be seen in Sydney every day !
– Unfortunately, they do not come in van-loads, or we could deal with them much more easily. Port Darwin is the first port of call for most of the steamers, and searches are made there, and also at Thursday Island, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, also on the western coast, at Broome and Fremantle.
– Is there any chance of- stowaways being surreptitiously landed before a vessel arrives at Port Darwin ?
– That is possible, but highly improbable. It will be understood that the Customs staff is not large at Port Darwin, and, further, that, when vessels reach that port, the whole of the cargo is on board, and any attempt to ascertain, by search, what is underneath, say, the boards forming the floor of the hold, is practically impossible, without, of course, an immense increase in the number of officers.
– It is out of the question.
– Quite so.
– How would it be to fumigate the vessels?
– That has been suggested, but is not one of the proposals in this Bill. While it would be impossible to keep a staff sufficiently large to thoroughly examine all ships at these ports, there is a special staff maintained at considerable expense to the Commonwealth. The cost of these searches is in no way contributed to by ship-owners ; but I may add that the Customs officers, in looking for evasion of the duty on opium, also take care to look for stowaways. As honorable members are aware, the newspaper accounts show that there is wonderful ingenuity on the part of these stowaways in devising hiding places. During the last six months two Chinese stowaways were discovered on the Aldenham at Sydney, three on the Airlie at Brisbane, nine on the Print Waldemar at Sydney, these last above the boilers.
– Were these the roasted Chinamen ?
– Although they ran the risk of being roasted, they were prepared to face even that contingency on the chance of landing in Australia.
– They will have to be sent back.
– They have been sent back. Two Chinamen were discovered on the Charon at Fremantle, one in the smoke box, and another up to his neck in the water tank.
– Was it the drinking water ?
– Possibly. Two more were discovered on the John Hardie at Newcastle, though these came, not from the East, but from San Francisco, and then there were the twenty to whom I have referred.
– There must always be some leakage.
– If I had the confidence that the honorable member seems te have, that, the stowaways mentioned are all that have arrived, the position would not be so unsatisfactory ; but, as a matter of fact, as I have already said, when twenty of them are discovered in one batch, having been for four weeks on a vessel, the business must be thoroughly well organized. We must remember that the greater the number of stowaways on a vessel, the greater the probability of discovery ; and the facts lead one to the conclusion that this traffic must have been going on for a considerable time without detection.
– It is evidently known that the detective service is not well organized.
– There is information, which both the Customs officers and myself believe to be true, that there were thirty-two Chinamen on the Eastern when she arrived at Port Darwin, and that twelve have got astray in the Commonwealth. There is also an intimation that there were thirty-four stowaways on the sister ship, the Empire.
– I do not think that this Bill will assist in the catching of these stowaways.
– That is the whole question, and we must do something.
– It is rather vague ground for a Bill, that the Government “ must do something.”
– I shall show very much stronger grounds presently.
– Is there not an efficient staff?
– I am not certain that we have the most efficient staff, but it is becoming more and more efficient, and probably requires stirring up every now and then, in order to keep it up to the necessary degree of vigilance.
– Would it not be well to attack this evil at its source in foreign ports ?
– Only those engaged in the smuggling can attack the evil at its source.
– Let the Commonwealth have representatives at foreign ports.
– What standing would a Commonwealth representative have in this connexion at, say, Hong Kong? We know that the ship-owners, with their whole staffs, are unable to prevent the traffic, according to their own statement, and, therefore, it can readily be imagined that an immense Commonwealth staff would be required in a foreign port to be effective.
– The United States Government have immigration officers a.t foreign ports.
– But they deal with immigrants who are all on the passenger list, and who are lined up for examination ; so that there is no parallel between the two cases. As to the remark of the honorable member for Angas that this Bill will not help in catching these stowaways, I have to reply that we must accept one of two or three alternatives. We may allow matters to remain as they are, endeavouring, perhaps, to improve the staff, or we must provide a staff so huge as to insure that no person can remain in hiding. This latter, of course, would be a pretty large contract; and it is evident that at Port Darwin and Thursday Island, where all the cargo is on board, such a staff could not be maintained. The same remark applies to Broome and other northern ports.
– My point is that it will be just as difficult to catch these stowaways under -the Bill as under the existing Act,, although the penalty now proposed is larger.
– We must either increase the staff of searchers, so as to make sure that no prohibited immigrant enters the Commonwealth, or throw the onus on the ship-owners, by punishing them for bringing such persons.
– The honorable member proposes to punish: the ship-owners, although he says that they know nothing about the presence of these persons on their vessels.
– It is not enough for the ship-owners to say, “ We know nothing about this practice.” That is no answer when a vessel is engaged in an illegal trade.
– The owners are not punishable under the Bill.
– The penalty is levied on the ship-master, who is always held responsible in these cases. If a vessel were carrying explosives contrary to regulations, the fact that the captain did not know would not relieve him of responsibility. Being in charge of the ship, it is his business to ascertain what she is carrying. Some one must be held responsible. The manner in which some twenty Chinese were recently hidden on an incoming steamer is described by a writer in. the Sydney Daily Telegraph, as follows -
Out of the two small chambers on the port and starboard sides of the hold twenty Chinese were drawn - mean, pitiful-looking specimens of their race, begrimed with dust and filth, weak and helpless, many of them seemingly diseased, and some little more than skeletons. Their hiding-place had been cunningly built. Right down against the bulkhead which divides No. 1 hold from the next compartment there had been left spaces - “ cubby houses,” they call them - on the port and starboard sides of the ship, measuring, perhaps, 4 feet in width, 5 feet in height, and S feet or 10 feet long. The cargo stowers in that hold obviously were in the secret.
– The arrangement was to the detriment of the owners, because of the loss of cargo space which it involved.
– Perhaps so. I do not suggest that they are in any way implicated. The cases forming the cargo were so disposed as to leave a secret passage from the hiding places of the stowaways to the quarters of the crew, and thus give access to the deck.
– It would have been awkward had any of the stowaways died during the voyage
– There would have been no difficulty about hauling out the body, and throwing it overboard. These stowaways must have been given opportunities for exercising daily.
– What were the sanitary arrangements ?
– They must have been extremely nauseating. The account continues -
An ingenious brain among them evolved the idea. At the exact spot where the “ cubby houses “ existed are the loose timber boards which give access to the keel for cleaning out the accumulation of bilge water. In ordinary circumstances cargo should have been stowed on top of these; but not so in the present instance. Perhaps the space of two cases was left clear, and the next layer of cargo so placed as to cover up the aperture, which, however, had a communication tunnel running in and out among the cargo, until it was apparently possible by shifting a case, for any tenant of the chamber to find his way to the topmost layer of the cargo in the hold, where the air was fresher and the space less cramped.
In _ the bilge, under the flooring, nine Chinese were discovered, so closely confined as to be unable to roll over, to sit up, or to move about, and they could not get out until some one lifted the planks above them. Of course, these men were not carried in that position during the four weeks’ voyage from China. The exact passage which admitted them to the deck could not be traced, but holes 3 feet square were sawn in the bottom of the rice bins, and complete communication was established with, the quarters of the crew. When men will undergo such hardships, and can be so cunningly concealed, it is necessary to take more drastic steps to prevent the importation of prohibited immigrants, by penalizing those who alone are able to supervise the stowage of the ships which come here from abroad. The people of Australia do not desire the evasion of the Immigration Restriction law. But it .is believed that at present every vessel coming from the. East brings prohibited immigrants. It is said that a Chinaman landed in Australia is worth ^150, and, no doubt, a large part of that sum has to be , divided amongst those whose assistance is necessary to get him here.
– If each Chinaman is worth .£150, it would be profitable to pay a fine of £100 to secure his entrance.
– In cases in which the fine could be levied, the stowaway would be discovered and sent back. Our proposal will increase the cost and risk of bringing these men here. I do not say that the smuggling of prohibited immigrants is done with the knowledge of the owners, captains, or other European officers of the vessels in which they come. But at present those in authority on board have no special interest in checking these practices.
– It is the chief officer, not the captain, who has to do with the stowage of a vessel.
– No ; the second and third officers.
– At any rate, it is the business of a ship’s authorities to find out what she is carrying. At present the shipmaster or his officers have no interest in finding out stowaways or preventing them from coming on board. There is no penalty. If they bring them it is all right. If the stowaways are discovered, they simply go back again. If they are not discovered and get off, somebody or other gets very well paid for it. Who it is we do not know. We want to give the shipmaster and his officers an interest in preventing stowaways from coming to these shores by punishing the shipmaster to the extent of ,£100 for every stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant, and who is discovered when the vessel arrives. We must adopt some such means as this, or, as a last resort, we shall have to fall back on a proposal which is becoming increasingly popular, and which I hope it will not be necessary to bring into force. I refer to the registration of Asiatic aliens,, with a passport system, and a periodic inspection of finger prints, thus treating persons whom we admit to citizenship ‘ in a different way from the rest of the community.. Whilst we are absolutely on right grounds, and acting within our just rights in the interests of the community in excluding undesirable immigrants, if we do admit them we ought not to subject them to special indignity. I should be very loth to arrive at the conclusion that nothing but the system of registration and passports is possible. But, if we do not adopt the proposal contained in this Bill, we must adopt some such system. We must put all the difficulties that we can in the way of prohibited immigrants entering the Commonwealth. The Bill does what is desired, and gives sufficient protection to the shipmaster. According to the first operative clause, the master of a vessel having on board any stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant is liable on summary conviction to a penalty of ,£100 for each such stowaway. It is further provided that every stowaway brought into any port on board a vessel shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant for the purposes of the Act unless it is proved that he has passed the dictation test, or that an officer has permitted him to land without restriction.
– Does not that put the cart before the horse? He could not pass the dictation test at that stage.
-The object of the provision is to allow any European stowaway, or other such person, to whom we do not want to apply the dictation test, to land without question.
– The clause should be put in the present tense - “ Unless he passes the dictation test or an officer permits him to land.”
-The dictation test will be applied in all cases, except where the stowaway is of European extraction. The next clause takes power to search any vessel, and it is provided that the master shall facilitate the boarding of the vessel and search by the officer. Those two clauses are required in order to give legislative authority to acts that are necessary and are now done. As a matter of fact, owners and shipmasters have, I understand, given facilities for thorough search in every case. The Department makes no complaint on that score. At the same time, we have no statutory power in that respect. There is a similar power in the Customs Act, but there is none to make a search for stowaways who are prohibited immigrants.
-Is there any provision that if the captain himself finds a stowaway before the vessel arrives, he shall not be liable to the penalty ?
-Yes, that provision is tacked on to the definition of a stowaway in new section 9D, which provides that-
That meets the case. It would be obviously most unfair not to make such a provision.
-The Bill is drafted in a peculiar way.
-I understand from the draftsman that it is somewhat difficult to draft a Bill to deal with this question, and that this is absolutely the best form that they could conceive of to meet all the exceptions that have to be provided for.
-No distinction is made in the offences. They are all treated as equally flagrant.
-Are not all cases of smuggling of this sort equally bad ?
-Certainty not; the Government propose to punish for an honest mistake.
-I think not. At any rate the details of penalties can be discussed in Committee.
-A shipmaster may have done his best to search a ship, and still a stowaway may elude him.
Mr.BATCHELOR.-I admit that that may happen. New section9c gives power to detain vessels for search. These ships, besides bringing prohibited immigrants to our shores, are doing more. They are bringing persons who are escaping our quarantine laws. We are setting up a whole Department to insure that no one who is suffering from any contagious or infectious disease, which might spread in our midst, shall enter the Commonwealth without being quarantined. Yet here is an industry growing up of smuggling in persons who may be suffering from small-pox or plague, and who, from the very nature of the way in which they are brought in, will evade capture. The success of the whole business depends on their evading capture. They can spread disease throughout the community, and in that way the quarantine laws are absolutely defied.
-If a Chinaman, suffering from small-pox, is stowed away in the bilge for the whole voyage, the Minister need not worry about his landing. .
-I understand that in all these diseases there are periods of incubation, and that the great trouble arises not so much from the person who is actually suffering from the disease when he goes on board, as from other persons who have been exposed to the risk of infection or contagion during the voyage. If quarantine laws are necessary, obviously we must be quite certain that no persons entering the Commonwealth escape them. The same thing applies to all laws governing immigration. There is an urgent necessity for the Bill, and we claim that we are justified, in view of the stage which this smuggling business has reached, in asking the House to pass it this session. No advantage is to be gained by delay. There are no further inquiries necessary to be made. It is obvious that it is possible to land a considerable number of stowaways, and to evade the Customs authorities all the way down from Hong Kong to Sydney. The particular ship to which I have referred was berthed on several occasions at various wharfs on the coast, and it was easily possible for numbers of Chinese stowaways to escape. In those circumstances, we are not safe. Our immigration and quarantine laws are being set absolutely at defiance, and I ask the House, therefore, to agree to the speedy passage of the Bill.
– - I cordially support the Bill. One wonders why the matter has not been noticed before, and why the circumstances have suddenly become emergent. Can it lie owing to a change of the administration of this important matter? One scarcely thinks so.
– I did not know of it before.
– Many people suspected that there was a leakage, but it was difficult to discover.
– The honorable member surely does not suggest that the Bill is founded merely on the fact that twenty stowaways have been discovered on one ship? I do not think that that in itself would be a sufficient excuse for rushing through such a measure as this. The presumption is that there has been a constant and steady stream of stowaways finding their way surreptitiously into Australia. I presume that the matter has been under the cognisance of the Minister’s predecessor in some way or other, and that this is the culminating point of a long series of considerations and efforts regarding it. If so, it is not too soon to act. If, as the Minister said, these people are being brought here in sufficient numbers to make them a menace to Australia, the matter immediately becomes urgent; although the Minister was indefinite as to almost anything outside the twenty stowaways who have just been landed’.
– I gave the cases of those that were discovered. There was one lot of nine also, but no big hauls have been made before.
– I suppose the Minister does not shut his eyes to the possibility, even if this Bill be passed in its most drastic form-, that somebody may still hide in a rice box occasionally, and get through. That brings me to a point of criticism of the measure. As framed, it seems to put a premium on the indisposition of the captain to help the Department. That is one of the faults I find with the Bill. Once we begin to punish an officer for what has been proved to be an honest mistake, we take away any motive he mayhave to assist us in “ policing “ this measure. Under this Bill the master of a vessel who winks his eye at this kind of thing is, to use a nautical expression, put in the same boat as a master who has a due regard for the honour of his ship and the laws of the country to which he is sailing. However, this is a defect which I think may be remedied in Committee. I presume that the Minister will not object to a reasonable amendment in the direction I have indicated. My object is to try tb make this a workable and efficient measure. The more I read of the dark menace which is every year becoming greater to the great republic over the seas, the more I am convinced that anything is justifiable in our efforts to keep Australia white. The more I read of what is taking place there the more I am impressed with an earnest desire that we should avoid the possibility of such a mistake in the development of our national existence. From all that I can ascertain the problem is becoming more and more difficult in the United States of America. It is recognised now, I think, by the best philosophers in the nation that the only solution to be found lies in developing to a higher level, by education and other means, the coloured people who are now in their midst. There seems to be no other way of solving the problem in America. It is growing increasingly year by year, and those who investigate it most patiently and disinterestedly confess themselves disappointed at the trend of events there. That is all the more reason why we should tighten up our legislation the moment it is found to be necessary. Coming to the machinery of the Bill, it occurs to me that it might have been drafted in a much better, way. I have a great dislike to the practice of placing the interpretation clause, which is the key to a Bill, at the end of it.
– In many of the big English Bills the interpretation clause is the last. I admit that it is not the best way of drafting.
– I should think not. For instance, I read this Bill over twice before I discovered that in the last clause much needed relief is given to the master of a vessel on which a stowaway is discovered. Any one reading this Bill would at first come to the conclusion, as I confess I did, that the master must be fined “ willy-nilly,” if there happens to be a stowaway on his vessel. If that were so, it would be an infamous measure, and I was glad to find the relief provided in the last clause. I come back to the point, that if this Bill isto be effective, we must not begin under it to penalize an honest master. We all make mistakes - even the Minister, I venture to say, will make mistakes in the administration of this measure; and the House will always view kindly errors that are honestly made. It is human to err, and when my honorablefriend pounces upon a master, as he proposes to do under this Bill, who has made art honest mistake, I think that there is room for complaint. If, in spite of the efforts of the master, a straggling stowaway should manage to leave a vessel, and enter the Commonwealth, it is hard that that master should have to foot the bill to the extent of£100, to say nothing of the degradation which the conviction for such an offence would mean to a sensitive and honorable man. I am sure that the Minister does not desire that that shall be done, if it can be avoided. Even in the interpretation clause, which provides a loophole, we find that the only escape for a master is the actual reporting of a stowaway, How can he report a stowaway if he cannot find him?
– That plea could always be advanced, and even where carelessness had been shown, it would no doubt be put forward.
– If it were a bonâ fide plea, it. ought to receive consideration. A master should have the option of proving his innocence. It is bad enough in ordinary circumstances to suppose a man guilty, but when we presume a man to be guilty, and do not allow him to disprove his guilt, we do that which is contrary to our instincts of British fair play.
– What would the honorable member regard as extenuating circumstances ?
– Proof that a master had done his best to discover stowaways, but had failed to do so. Surely we can allow that question to be determined by a. Judge.
– Where would the master obtain his evidence in support of such a plea ?
– A Court would be the best tribunal to decide such a question. Before a fine is inflicted under this measure on the master of a vessel, he should be permitted to show cause why he should not be so punished. I do not pretend to say what machinery should be adopted for that purpose, but the suggestion I make is in accordance with an elementary principle of justice, recognised in all English-speaking communities, and departed from, so far as I am aware, for the first time in this Bill. But setting aside any consideration of theoretical principles of justice, and looking only at the expediency of administration, surely it is reasonable to assume that if an officer knew that there was a stowaway on his vessel, and that his presence there would render him liable to a fine of£100,that knowledge would furnish him with a motive to try to smuggle him ashore. Why should he try to discover a stowaway when it was too late to report him ? A dishonest master in such circumstances would try to cover up the discovery of the stowaway, and to land him surreptitiously.
-He is indifferent now.
-I do not believe that all masters are indifferent to our laws. I am told that, on the contrary, these officers are for the most part high-minded men, doing their best to keep their vessels within the compass of the law; but that there are certain facilities for getting stowaways on board a vessel, and secreting them, without the knowledge of the master. At the same time I do not wish to lighten the responsibility of a master of a vessel; he ought to make himself thoroughly acquainted with his ship, and, if possible, discover the presence of stowaways. When he finds a stowaway, he ought to instantly report the fact ; we should give him a motive to report the presence of stowaways, and not a motive to smuggle them ashore. We provide in this Bill, however, that unless he gives notice to an officer that such a person is on board his vessel, and does not permit him to land until the officer has an opportunity of satisfying himself that the person is not a prohibited immigrant, he shall be liable to a penalty of £100. Ifa stowaway is found leaving a vessel after it has been examined by an officer of the Department, is the master to be held responsible without being given an opportunity to prove that he has endeavoured to prevent anything of the kind? How could he give notice to an officer of the presence of such a person on board, if the stowaway were not discovered until he was in the act of leaving? Take the case of a vessel that has been searched by an officer of the Department, who, after a careful examination, has failed to discover a stowaway.
– A stowaway must be on board a vessel with the collusion of some one under the control of the master.
– Certainly. But the honorable member will admit that if stowaways are able to elude the trained officers of the Department, who search these vessels, they are just as likely to be able to elude the master of a ship. But under this Bill, if a stowaway eludes his vigilance, and is discovered leaving his vessel, the master will be liable to a fine. He ought certainly to be fined, if he could have detected the presence of a stowaway; but if there is clear proof that the stowaway has succeeded in eluding him, although he has done his best to discover his presence, why should we punish him? If this fault is rectified in Committee, I think that the Bill may be permitted to pass. I believe it to be necessary, and one that all sections of the House will assist the Government to place on the statutebook as quickly as possible. There are, however, one or two other matters to which I desire to call attention. One of these relates to the time during which a ship may be detained for the purpose of inspection and search. The Bill provides that an officer may at any time make a search. Does that mean that a ship calling at three or four ports within the Commonwealth may be searched at every one of them? Does it mean that a ship may be detained at every port while a search is being made ? If it does, then a vessel may suffer a detention of three or four days.
– We must give wide powers, and assume that common sense will be displayed in exercising them. A precisely similar provision is to be found in the Customs Act.
– Is the provision as to reasonable time for searching also contained in the Customs Act?
– A large vessel with a big cargo must be under very heavy expense, and a detention of twelve hours would probably involve a loss of .£250 to the owner. That being so, a ship-owner may be severely penalized by the mere searching of his vessel. We may assume, however, that a search having been made, it would be only in circumstances of peculiar suspicion that a second or third search would be undertaken.
– - That is so.
– Under the circumstances, I hope the Minister will see his way, when we are in Committee, toprovide that, before a master is fined, he is given an opportunity to show cause before a Judge why a penalty should not be imposed. I cannot bring myself to think that the fine is particularly severe; but, intended as it is to act as a deterrent, itis all the more obligatory upon us to see that it is not unfairly enforced. We ought to apply the old rule of British justice, and’ afford an opportunity to a master to show that he has done his best to carry out the provisions of the law, and that only anhonest mistake has been made. If such aprovision be inserted, it will, I think, meet the case, and the measure will be rendered’ none the less effective. The more incentive we can give an honest master to assist in the administration of the law, the morelikely is it to be beneficial.
– The honorable member for Parramatta appears to be more concerned about maintaining his reputation as leader of the Opposition than about keeping undesirable immigrantsout of Australia. I do not say that that is the case, but the remarks of the honorable member would lead to that conclusion. The honorable member makes it appear that this Bill aims at punishing the innocent.
– The only thing that would please the honorable member would be violent opposition to the Bill !
– The honorable member is mistaken. At the outset of his remarks, I felt inclined to believe that he would votefor the measure as presented ; but, as usual,, he veered round, and wished to qualify what he had said, just as he would qualify the provisions of the Bill which he professes to admire. To provide an outlet for the escape of those whose ships bring’ stowaways here, would simply encourage the traffic. The honorable member would have us believe that the concluding clause of the Bill is not sufficient, and goes so far as to say that we are offering a premium to masters to get stowaways smuggled ashore. That is utterly ridiculous, seeing that the Bill provides that if a master exposes a stowaway he is excused. Surely, when a master becomes cognisant of the fact that a stowaway is on board* he will not connive at smuggling him ashore, seeing that, by making a clean breast of it, he is exonerated ? The honorable member spoke of the inclination of masters of ships to do what is right by the countries they visit ; and I believe that that view is generally correct; but, in the present instance, they are indifferent, because they do not suffer beyond having to carry stowaways back - a very slight punishment, seeing that the stowaways may be used to work the ship. If we are to be safe from these aliens, we must penalize those whose ships bring them here, because they will then take care to provide on the other side of the water against the smuggling of stowaways. In all legislation the innocent and inoffensive have often to suffer, either through ignorance of the law, or merely through circumstances. For instance, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and hardship is thus very often inflicted on the general community. A buyer of stolen goods loses his money, although he may not have known the goods were stolen; and in the interests of the general community, the mere fact that some one, however innocent, has to suffer is regarded as an unavoidable incident. I am not such a bloodthirsty person as the honorable member for Parra- matta is pleased to represent me, and I have no desire to penalize the innocent; but I am anxious to guard the integrity of this continent, and, therefore, averse to any provision which will provide a means of escape, other than that set forth in the last clause of the Bill.
– It will be too late after the stowaway has been discovered.
– Not if the captain or his men discover him.
– But if the Customs officers discover him?
-A captain may have four weeks or months in which to find out whether there are any stowaways on board.
-This last clause will encourage a master to vigilantly search his vessel while on the sea; and he must bear some portion, at any rate, of the responsibility.
.-The principle of the Bill has my cordial support. We ought to do everything that lies in our power to keep these undesirable immigrants beyond our shores ; and I am satisfied that since the passing of the present Act there has been considerable leakage. We have only to traverse the streets of Sydney or Melbourne to see almost daily aliens who, from their general appearance, are newcomers. With the leader of the Opposition, however, I think it quite possible that this Bill might be slightly amended in Committee. I had some experience of this sort of traffic when surgeon on a ship which carriedlarge numbers of coolies between certain ports in China and the Malay Peninsula; and I know the great difficulty there is on the part of officers in preventing the presence of stowaways. When a vessel enters port, the anchor is no sooner down than hordes of Chinamen swarm up the sides, and all over the decks, chattering and rendering the place a perfect pandemonium. A great deal of the working of the ship - the loading of the vessel and the feeding of the coolie passengers - is carried on through compradors. The officers of these vessels are, in the main, highminded men, who know the dangers of transgressing the law ; and they do all they possibly can to prevent the introduction of this foreign element. Unfortunately, however, they have very little control over the compradors. Even the men who work the ship are in charge of a Chinese, through whom practically all the orders are given; he enters into contracts and is responsible for the feeding of the men, and the proper carrying out of their work; and it will be seen how difficult it is for an officer, no matter how conscientious, to have much control over a traffic of the kind which this Bill is intended to combat. When a ship is fully laden, and the hatches battened down ready for sea, it is of course most difficult to make a search ; and a little experience of my own will throw some light on the subject. A vessel, on which I was surgeon, was carrying 500 or 600 coolies from Foochow to Singapore, at a time when a smallpox epidemic had broken out, and I was specially warned by the captain to keep any suffering from the disease from coming on board. I took every precaution, issuing instructions that none of the passengers were to be allowed below until I had had an opportunity of examining them. Passengers, as they were examined, were placed between-decks, and herded like so many cattle, owing to the absence of proper accommodation I examined all carefully, and then was informed by the chief officer that some of the women and children, to the number of about sixty, had been allowed to go below without examination. I went below, but could find no signs of small-pox. However, just as I was coming away, I heard a faint cry out of the darkness, and, near a bulkhead, under some shawls and sacks, I found, by the light of a lantern, a child, covered from head to foot with the signs of the disease, and in a highly infectious state. I ascertained that it had only that day left the hospital. The father, mother, and four or five other children of the family were all sent ashore, and the ship disinfected; and, fortunately, no further cases were discovered. The 500 or 600 Chinese were battened down for over a week, and honorable members may imagine the difficulty there was in keeping the place clean. The officers of the ship knew very little about their passengers, who were all fed by contract through a comprador ; and when we reached Singapore, they were sent ashore. From what I have said, honorable members can imagine how difficult it is to discover stowaways who may be hidden under tons of cargo. I have a considerable amount of sympathy for the officers of these ships. The Minister says that the two alternatives before us are to increase the penalty, and to make the meshes of our net smaller. The penalty for bringing in a prohibited immigrant cannot be too high, but we should also make the meshes of our net smaller by establishing a system of espionage. We might well have detectives in foreign ports, to get into touch with the societies interested in sending Chinese here, and to let it be known that there are stowaways on certain vessels. We take all sorts of precautions to keep rats from getting ashore from the vessels at our wharfs, and we might certainly take more to prevent prohibited immigrants from doing so. No doubt if the penalty is increased the offence will become a more serious one to undertake; still, a good deal could also be done by means of a secret service fund. It is unpleasant to have to deal with informers, but drastic diseases need drastic measures. Very few honorable members could tell one Chinaman from another, and it is almost impossible in their own country to do so. The mates have to do with tallying the cargo which is loaded and unloaded, and cannot be all over the vessel.
– The point is, on whom should we fix responsibility?
– If we fix it on the ship-masters, they will insure themselves against the contingency of having to pay the fines. In my opinion, the solution of the difficulty is to pay informers in foreign ports, and to have detectives travelling on the vessels trading with the East.
.- No doubt honorable members wish to do what is necessary to keep out undesirable aliens, but I think that the Bill would be useless if amended as some of the speakers have suggested. We should, of course, endeavour to be strictly just; but I ask if it is possible for a vessel to bring thirtytwo stowaways from China without the officers knowing of their presence on board. These stowaways have to be fed and exercised, and surely the ship’s officers, if they cannot tell one Chinaman from another, know when they have two Chinamen where there should be only one. It is patent that there has been neglect and carelessness, and penalties should be imposed to put a stop to it. I think that it would be worth while to send a reliable and clever detective, unknown to the parties concerned, on a trip or two to the East. We have men who are good Chinese linguists who could find out a good deal in, the Chinese ports, and their reports should be of value to the Department. It is evident, from what the Minister has said, that there are organizations, possessing considerable capital, which spend money to get Chinese here. Although the Asiatic is admittedly secret and cunning, it would be worth while to make such investigations as I suggest. Surely some valuable information would be picked up. A detective (ould find out what crew a vessel was carrying, and how many Chinese were really on board, and what care the officers were taking to prevent or discover the carriage of stowaways. As to the objections raised against the proposal to affix responsibility on the captains, on whomare we to place it, if not upon them? They must be taken to know what occurs on their ships. In New South Wales, on one occasion, the Chief Justice sentenced men to imprisonment for terms ranging from four to seven years for offences of which they were proved innocent, but for which he held them responsible, saying that had they been 100 miles away from the scene, of a certain occurrence that would not have divested them of responsibility. If that is the law of responsibility in regard to industrial troubles, it cannot be said that the statement of the honorable member for Parramatta, that British law never punishes the innocent, is borne out by facts. It would be thought shockingif it were proposed to imprison a captain for seven years, because his vessel had carriedChinese.
– Did the honorable member approve the doctrine laid down by the Chief Justice of New South Wales ?
– No. I mentioned the case to refute the honorable member’s statement that British justice never punishes the innocent. It happened when he was a Minister.
– The offence in that case consisted in being in a certain assembly.
– The Chief Justice fixed responsibility on men who had committed no actual offence. In many cases the law punishes innocent men because of responsibility attaching to them by reason of their positions. I do not wish to punish the innocent. But how are we to prevent the practices complained of unless we make the ship’s authorities responsible? As the shipping companies choose to employ Chinese, the captains who command their vessels must accept the risks of the occu- pation. The crew of a vessel carrying stowaways must assist in hiding them and feedingthem, and when a number are being carried, the officers cannot be ignorant of the fact. It might not be possible to discover the presence of only two or three stowaways, but it should be impossible for a large number to remain undiscovered. In the case to which attention has been drawn, some one in authority must have known that stowaways were on board. If we make the captains responsible, they will require their officers to hunt through the vessel for stowaways. I think that the provisions of the Bill are sufficient to prevent men from being punished unjustly. If we cannot stop the present practice by this form of legislation, or, perhaps, by an investigation by a smart detective taking trips on the vessels and making reports, I would suggest to this Socialistic Government that the Commonwealth should itself run ships manned by white men to do the business between here and China. We should then have no bother. The White Australia feeling is so strong that the people are willing to spend a good deal of money to maintain the principle, and even honorable members opposite would swallow a little of the kind of legislation that they object to in order to keep out the Chinese. I believe that the House is absolutely unanimous, and would go even so far as I indicate, if there is no other way of preventing the smuggling in of prohibited immigrants.There has been a suspicion for some time that a considerable number of Chinese are finding their way into Australia, but the recent discoveries have opened our eyes to the great number who have been gaining admission. We have seen from previous cases how they keep quiet until the crew goes ashore. They then go ashore themselves, and as it is difficult to tell one from another, they land ostensibly as part of the crew. That is the kind of thing that we have to put up with because some shipowners will not employ their own countrymen. I should not have such extreme consideration for the men who associate with them. If the captain gets into bad company, and chooses to work with Chinese, he must take the responsibility. In the same way, in our everyday affairs, we often have to suffer for the people with whom we chance to be associated, although we may be perfectly innocent ourselves. We cannot escape from that responsibility, and, in fact, our laws recognise it in a great many cases. I hope the Bill will pass. I do not expect that it will completely prevent the smuggling in of prohibited immigrants, but we ought to do all we can in that direction, and if these means are not absolutely successful, we shall have to adopt more stringent measures to keep out the members of that numerous race who are evidently finding it profitable to come to Australia.
.- I was very glad to hear the leader of the Opposition say that he would support this Bill; because I think it is a measure which, in order to be consistent, we ought to help in every way to pass. I have not always been very sympathetic with the extreme forms of the White Australia feeling, but it is the law of the land, and we should see that it is observed. It is clear from the instance which has been so carefully recorded in the papers that the practice of bringing Asiatics into Australia is now being conducted upon wholesale principles. There used to be an occasional stowaway, but this is a case in which, apparently, no less than thirty-two started from the port of shipment, a number of them escaping without examination, and the rest reaching port. But the gravest aspect of the question is not the mere introduction of Asiatics. It is rather the fact that they escape the quarantine laws; and that many stowaways who may be virulently diseased, might have landed in Australia without the supervising medical officers of the Commonwealth having an opportunity to isolate them, and prevent them from contaminating our people. These instances show clearly that this means of making money is assuming large proportions. I suppose every man of the’ world will conclude that it is done for gain, and that at some stage of this breach of the law, money, perhaps in very large sums, has passed so as to enable these people to be smuggled into Australia. Something has been said about the inability of the captain of a ship to discover stowaways, and many pleas have been put forward for the captain on the ground that he might not know what is going on in his vessel. My answer to that is that the responsibility must be placed somewhere. We cannot place it upon a subordinate officer. It would be, perhaps, even more unfair to put it upon the owners of the ship, because the owners might be a limited company, the shareholders of which are scattered all over the world, and they would have to pay. The responsibility comes much nearer the ship than the owners. The captain of .a ship is complete master of it. Although he does not personally inspect the holds, his chief officer is directly responsible for the stowage and arrangement of the cargo, occasionally conferring with the stevedore.
– I thought the second officer was in charge of that work.
– The second officer, as a rule, supervises the actual loading, but the chief officer is primarily responsible to the owners for the cargo. It is his duty to see that the second officer does his duty, and it is the duty of the captain to see, not merely that his officers do their duty, but that they are competent and trustworthy. If the owners and captain are satisfied as to the personal fitness of their chief officer, and exercise the same care with regard to the character of their second officer, the captain has no reason to be fearful of any losses which he may incur under this measure. Something has been said about grading the offences on the part of the captain. There is something in that. There may be circumstances under which, not twenty or thirty stowaways, but only one, may be brought here. It will be admitted that a single stowaway is difficult to detect, in view of the very large number of Asiatics who sometimes come here. I understand from the Minister that as many as 200 sometimes come in -one ship, and I suppose the average is about forty or fifty. We all recognise the difficulty of distinguishing one Chinaman from another. I suppose they have a similar difficulty in% regard to Europeans. This seeming likeness is not a peculiarity of Asiatic races. It arises from the fact that we are not accustomed to distinguish the physiognomy, of Chinese any more than we are of sheepor cattle, and probably the same confusion would arise in the Chinesemind. That becomes a factor in theconsideration of this question. If in a ship carrying fifty or 100 Asiatics thereis one stowaway, it may be much more difficult for the captain or officers to distinguish the particular one who has not hispapers with him. There may, therefore, be gradations of the offence. I shall suggest to the Minister, later, that, in orderto leave the judgment of the degree of offence to the magistrate, the penalty should not be fixed and unconditional, but should be “ not exceeding “ a certain, amount. It may happen that even the immigration officer is not able to detect thefact that there is a stowaway on board. If the explanation of the captain or mas,ter showed that the greatest care could not have detected the stowaway, discretion’ would then be left to the magistrate toimpose a much smaller penalty. .Something has been said about the clauses whichgive the immigration officers power to detain the ship and require it to be removed’ from time to time. I do not think there isanything objectionable in that. The demurrage of a very large ship, although it would hardly come to .£250 for twelve hours, as the leader of the Opposition estimated, does sometimes run, for twenty-four hours, into £100 or ^200. It may be of great importance to the ship-owner/ but in new section 9c it is provided that thereshall be “ a reasonable time.” That is a saving provision. The word “reasonable” in law has a technical meaning. The time must be reasonable in the ordinary acceptation of the term, and therefore it would be quite open to the owners of a ship, if they thought that a valuable vessel was beingdetained much longer than it should be, seeing that all that the Commonwealth officers have to do is to search the vessel,, to take steps to have the embargo removed, so that they might be in a position to say : “ You are doing more than the law entitlesYOU to do, and detaining the ship for an unreasonable time.” I do not see how we can avoid imposing the -obligation under this Bill upon the master. He is the Czar of his own vessel. All the officers are under his control; he can do what he likes, go where he likes, and have the stowage of the cargo watched to such an extent that it would be almost impossible for any stowaways to get on board. If that precaution is taken there is still the difficulty, which I admit, of distinguishing between the physiognomy of one Chinese and another ; but every Asiatic coming to this country ought to be able to produce papers at any moment ; and unless there is a very cunning method of passing the papers from one to the other, a demand for their production, at any time, when it was suspected that there was a stowaway on board, would lead to his detection. Any of them who did not produce his papers could be detained until he could explain his presence on the ship. I approve of the Bill upon principle. The greatest danger of the introduction of stowaways is, as I have said, in the matter of quarantine. The addition of one or two Asiatics to our Australian population, although it is a breach of the law, and may be regarded as another drop in the bucket of black blood which may be very objectionable in Australia, is not half so objectionable as the fact that persons infected with plague or other diseases may be introduced into this country, as was very well explained by the personal experience of the honorable member for Hunter. That honorable member stated that in one case500 Asiatics, all free from disease, were being carried in a ship, but stowed away in a corner of the hold was a little child, covered with a shawl, whose disease was bad enough to have contaminated a whole city. That is the danger that we have to watch. There is little doubt that if the master of a ship were made liable to a penalty of£100, in circumstances which his owner could see were in no way blamable upon him or upon the officers whom he ought to have controlled, the owners would probably take that responsibility and penalty upon themselves. I do not think we needhave any doubt that the trade of carrying Asiatics to Australia, with this difficulty staring them in the face, will become a more expensive process than it has been hitherto.If captains know that there is a. possibility of being fined £100 for every stowaway brought by their vessels, we may depend upon it that the cost of carrying them, and the cost of the penalty combined, will be passed on to the person carried, so that the profits may be large enough to enable the owners, if they have to pay it, or the master, if he has to pay it, to meet the demand made upon him as the result of his misdeeds. I shall have much pleasure in supporting the Bill. In the last clause there is a provisionvhich seems to offer a safety-valve with regard to the liability of the captain. It provides that-
Any person on board a vessel at the time of her arrival from any place outside Australia at any port in Australia who is not -
a member of the crew of the vessel whose name is on the articles, shall be deemed to be a stowaway, unless the master of the vessel gives notice to an officer that the person is on board the vessel, and does not permit him to land until the officer has had an opportunity of satisfying himself that the person is not a prohibited immigrant.
It will be desirable to use the words “ Commonwealth officer “ instead of “ officer “ in the measure, lest people might confuse him with the officer of the ship.
– “ Officer “ is defined in the original Act.
– I know that, but the Bill shouldbe so drafted that any person who reads it may understand it clearly. Many people who have to observe this law may never see the principal Act. The honorable member must not imagine that every one of these documents is constantly before a shipmaster. They are not all kept on board a ship. The master of a vessel may not see them, and might endeavour to excuse himself sometimes by saying that he did not know that the person referred to was a Commonwealth officer. This clause is very much in a master’s favour, because it provides that if during the course of a voyage, he discovers that there is a stowaway on board his vessel, he mustfulfil an obvious duty ; he must detain the man, and when he arrives in port, inform a Commonwealth officer of his presence. The moment he has given that information to the officer, he is freed of responsibility under the Bill. The master has an opportunity not only of examining his ship., through his officers, at the port of loading, but of having the passengers watched after they have cleared the port of shipment, and of ascertaining who are entitled to be on board. An opportunity is afforded him to have every man watched during the voyage, and to require the production of papers in order that a stowaway may be detected. If, during the voyage, he cannot in these circumstances discover a stowaway no one can; and if no one can, it would be absurd for us to say that there shall - be no consideration for the master. Ship-owners engaging in the trade are aware of the risks they run, and presumably they make charges in proportion to their responsibility. I do not know” that the Government could have done otherwise than propose that the responsibility for the presence of stowaways on a ship shall be thrown upon the captain and I do not think that in any of these clauses they propose to give to officers powers that we cannot rely upon being reasonably exercised. I shall, therefore, support the Bill.
– Whilst I consider that an amendment of the principal Act is very necessary 1 hold that it is the duty of the Government to administer it, and not* to endeavour to thrust that work upon shipmasters. If we do, masters of vessels coming to our ports will be in constant fear. Under the last clause of the Bill, it appears to me that the master of a vessel would be liable to a penalty of ,£100 for failing to report the presence of a stowaway, even if that stowaway were not a prohibited immigrant.
– No. Sub-clause 2 ot clause 3 deals with stowaways who are not prohibited immigrants.
– If that is so, my objection to the last clause is removed. It seems to me, however, that the proposal that the master of a vessel shall be liable to a fine of £100 for every prohibited immigrant who is found stowed away on his vessel is a very arbitrary one. I think that we should provide that a penalty “ not exceeding” £100 shall be imposed. If that amendment were made, a master who was proceeded against under this measure would have an opportunity of pleading extenuating circumstances before a justice, who, if satisfied that he had made out a good case, would have the power to impose a small fine.
– We have the same penalty provided for in the original Act.
– Then I think that it needs to be amended. In Committee, I shall ask the - Minister to accept the amendment I have indicated.
.- As a believer in our immigration restriction laws, I am certainly anxious that they should be effective. The Minister of External Affairs has shown that this Bill is not in tended to apply to stowaways who are not prohibited immigrants, and he has also clearly proved that there is a most inhuman traffic now going on between China and Australia. That it should be possible for twenty or thirty stowaways to be secreted on one vessel is convincing proof of a neglect of responsibility on the part, not only of masters, but of a good many searchers. Twelve months ago, I pointed out in this House that the officers appointed to examine vessels with a view of preventing smuggling, and also of discovering stowaways were not only insufficient in number, but in many cases did not possess the requisite ability. We need more supervision, both at the port of departure and at the port of landing. It is absolutely useless to employ as searchers men who are not familiar with the construction of a vessel. All seafaring men know that there are many parts of a vessel that offer facilities, not only for stowing away prohibited immigrants, but for secreting dutiable goods that it is desired to smuggle into a port. But a shore-man would fail to find them.
– False linings, and soforth.
– That is so. I hope that the honorable gentleman will bring this, matter under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs. I repeat that thenumber of. searchers is altogether insufficient, and that the salary attaching to such positions is not sufficient to attract the right class of men. The honorable member for Darling suggested that detectives should be placed on board vessels coming from the East, but I think that it is still more important that we should have expert searchers to examine them on their arrival. I agree with the Minister that it is right that the responsibility for the introduction of prohibited immigrants or stowaways should be put upon the master. He is the representative of the owner, and should take all precautions at the port of loading to prevent such persons being smuggled on board his vessel. We have evidence that there is an agency at work to stow away prohibited immigrants on vessels leaving Eastern portsfor Australia. These agencies, we may be sure, would find the business unprofitable if they handled only one or two men, and” it is reasonable to assume that the traffic is carried on upon a very large scale, and that as many as twenty or thirty prohibited immigrants are sometimes secreted on one vessel. Unless we deal with the trade by
Act of Parliament, it will be a growing one. Such a Bill as this will make masters careful to see at the port of shipment, not only that the cargo is properly stowed, but that the facilities which their vessels offer for stowing away prohibited immigrants are not availed of. There can be no doubt that these unfortunate stowaways have to submit to horrible privations. I certainly do not wish to see them landed here;, but, at the same time, I do not desire to see unfortunate human beings used as the mere tools of agencies abroad, and called upon to undergo terrible privations, in order that those agencies may make a few pounds. It seems to me that this Bill is in the interests of the Asiatics themselves. The honorable member for Darling has very properly said that ship-owners who choose to employ a Chinese crew for the sake of economy must take the risk of Chinese being smuggled on board their vessels, and of their being called upon to pay a heavy fine for allowing them to land here. Ship-owners will now recognise the danger of employing Chinese crews, and if they do not see fit to employ white men, so that the presence of Chinese stowaways may be readily detected on board their vessels, they must take the consequences. The bulkheads of a vessel, and also the ventilating pipes are favourite places for planting dutiable goods, as well as stowing away human beings, and if expert searchers were employed, these and other parts of a vessel that lend themselves to such purposes would not escape their attention. We cannot hope to have a thorough system of inspection whilst mere clerks are employed to do this work. I support this Bill, and trust that the Minister will bring under the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs the point I have made as to the need of strengthening the staff of searchers and examiners, and of securing expert men for the work.
– It was Customs officers who found these stowaways.
– Quite so, but other stowaways must have been coming through. Either the officers are not as efficient as they ought to be, or there are not sufficient of them.
.- There is a large influx of undesirable immigrants in the way the Minister has shown; and I hope the House will support this measure. This importation of undesirable immigrants is not only a flaunting of the law on the statute-book, but contains within itself great danger of the introduction of all sorts of diseases. I quite admit that the responsibility should be placed on the master of the vessel ; but there should be some provision whereby he can demonstrate his ignorance of the presence of the stowaways, so that the penalty may be at the discretion of the magistrate. In the case that happened the other day, when thirty-two stowaways were found on a ship, it is clear that the master could not establish his innocence, because he must have had some knowledge of the fact. I should make it incumbent on ,1 master to prove his innocence; that is, to show to the satisfaction of the Court that he had exercised all proper vigilance.. If a master were really innocent - though it is not likely that many such cases will come before the Court - a fine of .£100 seems to me excessive; and, therefore, I suggest that there should be some discretion allowed, in the belief that the effectiveness of the measure would in no way be interfered with. I am glad that this matter has been taken in hand so promptly by the Government. While, perhaps, this measure represents all that we can do at present, there must be something wrong with the oversight that is exercised by the Department, because the facts that, are within common knowledge show that this traffic has been’ going on steadily for a long time. The Minister should endeavour to secure .greater efficiency and better methods ; and I quite agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the officers employed should have a knowledge of ships and1 of the various devices likely to be employed in the way of false linings, and so forth. I hope the Minister will adopt the suggestion I have made, but if he should not, the fact would not prevent my supporting the Bill.
.- This question of the influx of Asiatics was first definitely taken in hand by the late Mr. Kingston, when Premier of South Australia, who declared that the leakage chiefly took place in the port of Sydney. At that time Mr. Kingston had to fight the powers that be in the port I have just mentioned, because he could not there get the slightest assistance in carrying out a policY of exclusion. I have here a return which was prepared at the instance of Mr. Kingston, showing that in the twelve months, ending 14th April, 1893, there had been a leakage of 667 Chinese as between the arrival of the steamer at Port Darwin, the first port of call, and the steamer leaving that port on returning to China.
– At that time there was a penalty of £500 for every Chinaman introduced into South Australia.
-According to the return I have mentioned, the names of the ships concerned were the Airlic, Tsinan, Changsha, Guthrie, Chingtu, Catterthun, Taiyuan, and Menmuir. Some of these vessels belong to the Eastern and Australian Steam-ship Company ; and in the press lately an officer in a high position in that corporation stated that theirvessels never engaged in such traffic. I throw this return down as a challenge to that gentleman’s veracity. At the time of which I speak, the following telegram was sent by Mr. Kingston to the then Premier of New South Wales-
Further inquiry at Port Darwin makes it apparently perfectly clear that the systematic evasion of the Chinese Immigration Restriction Acts, by which nearly1,000 Chinese have been introduced into Australia during the last fifteen months, results from the laxity with which the law is administered in Sydney.
I think that pressure might be brought to bear on the Judges who adjudicate on such cases in Hong Kong. This is a matter referred to in a little brochure which I published; and the truth of the statements I make can be proved on reference to the China Navigation Company. The quotation is as follows -
The China Navigation Co. Ltd. is our best and most direct means of communication with all the East. The company gives more encouragement than any other trading in foreign seas to young Australians whose desire is towards the ocean life. Seven of the officers of the Taiyuan were Australian born. Also, its representatives have fought a battle or two in our behalf in the way of keeping out bogus return passengers. They prosecuted an eminent Chinese merchant in Hong Kong for holding, and endeavouring to deal in, various bad nationalization papers. Some were forged, some bought from those who had no intention of returning themselves, but who were quite ready for a deal with any of their countrymen ready to take the risk of personation. The company, however, was, by an eminent English Judge, cast in costs, the law, as interpreted by the oracle, ordaining that it was the business of Australia to keepher own coasts in this way, and to deal with all cases as they occurred, and within her own gates.
As a matter of fact, there were then upwards of115 forged naturalization papers and certificates in the Court, and the Judge knew they were there; but in that blind fashion which is sometimes observed, he refused to confiscate them ; and the shipping company was mulcted in costs for endeavouring to prevent this traffic.I think it only fair to the company to mention these facts. In the East, the Government of the United States spend large sums of money in quarantine administration ; so far do they go, that every officer ofa ship, whether white or coloured, has to be vaccinated if they leave the port of Hong Kong for Manilla. (The reason for this is that 1,100 dead bodies, including upwards of 200 cases of plague, smallpox, and cholera, are annually thrown into the streets of Hong Kong; and the Government of the United States insist that the Consul for the States shall visé every bill of health. I maintain that if the vessel which brought these stowaways to Australia, called at Manilla, those in charge broke the United States law, inasmuch as the men were not vaccinated before leaving the port. I think an arrangement might be entered into between the Commonwealth and the United States for joint action at Manilla, so as to prevent a recurrence of the evasion.; and I suggest the employment of the use of carbonic acid gas. Of course, I have no desire to destroy human life, but I know that there is no better unionist than the Chinaman - seeing that 10,000 of them left work because one of them had been struck by an English official - and that none are more true to a combination when once they have made up their minds. Having regard to this characteristic, I think that if, in Hong Kong and other eastern ports, carbonic acid gas under pressure were put into the holds so that every rat and insect should be killed,no Chinaman would ever be induced to go below deck again.
-The Chinamen know the effects of carbonic acid gas now.
-I can assure the honorable member that they do not. And I maintain further that the use of this gas would prove a most efficient means of preventing the introduction of Asiatic diseases. If the rats which carry the fleas containing the plague germs were killed before they could reach Australia, the chance of disseminating the disease in this country would be very much lessened. If we gave75 per cent. of the £100 fine to informers at the ports of call, very few stowaways would be left undiscovered, and if we gave 50 per cent, to informers at this end, very few would remain uncaught ; but it is useless to give small rewards.
– We must be careful not to make it profitable to send stowaways for the sake of the fines.
– The’ Chinese comprador system sufficiently guarantees the honesty of every person connected with English banking’ and other companies in the East, even in Japan, and seeing that every Chinaman sent to Australia is worth at least .£200, it is easily credible that the shipping companies can protect themselves against loss. I do not say that the companies enter into agreements of this kind : but I know that they will not accept a Chinese passenger who may be returned to them unless they are protected against possible loss. We hear a great deal about our immigration restriction, but the shipping company trading between Hong Kong and Macao, a distance about as great as that between Melbourne and Geelong, is required, if it brings from the Portuguese port any European likely to be a burden on the rates of Hong Kong, to send him back to England, Germany, or whatever may be his native land. I should like the honorable and learned member for Parkes to give attention to that matter. The Chinese Navigation Company has had to instruct its officers to be most particular in regard to, not only second class, but also first class passengers, to protect itself from loss under this law. A ship’s authorities, too, are liable to a fine of £100 if they take to India a white man who is unable to get a living there. I am tired of hearing of the harshness of our law. It is less severe than the laws of two countries I have named, which are governed absolutely from Downing-street. In India a white man has no privileges at all. The condition of stowaways, especially in the tropics, is pitiable in the extreme, and, notwithstanding the ingenuity with which the cargo is arranged to provide breathing spaces, I have no doubt that stowaways are often smothered. Only a short time ago it was telegraphed from America that a number of dead Chinamen were discovered in a box, under circumstances which indicated that they had been stowaways. Of course, should a death occur on board ship, the crew would get rid of the body by throwing it overboard. If a Chinese passenger were to die, however, it would be worth the while of the ship’s surgeon to embalm the body, because there are societies in China which would pay a large sum on receiving it. The most profitable cargo that a vessel can have is dead Chinamen. For the conveyance of these bodies to China as much as £100 each is paid.
– Yet stowaways are thrown overboard.
– No nation loves its dead or venerates its parents and grandparents more than do the Chinese, but the crew of a vessel has no means of preserving the body of a stowaway. It is necessary to watch the northern coasts of Australia much more strictly than has hitherto been done. No climate is too severe for men of this splendid race to live and thrive in, and if there is any laxity in our northern ports great numbers of them will find their way into Australia. I have known many Chinese living1 here, and have formed friendships with some. When they have intermarried with white persons, they have generally brought up their families well, and what Chinese blood is in our community will in time disappear. What we have to guard against is the fresh influx of Chinese. We should join forces with the United States of America, which has already stood between us and the Asiatic races, and to-day does more than is done in any port in Australia to keep away disease. While I have quoted from a return showing that the strictures of the late Mr. Kingston in regard to the laxity of inspection at the port of Sydney were just, yet, speaking as a medical man, and a former ship’s officer, I say that in no other part of the Commonwealth are ship’s passengers, officers, and crews more keenly scrutinized on arrival from abroad than they are in Sydney. In regard to the Bill there is no party in this House. The honorable member for Parramatta on a former occasion spoke as strongly as any honorable member has spoken in favour of a White Australia. As he had been accused of not being in favour of a White Australia originally, I referred to his earliest speeches in Hansard, but I find that he has always spoken as sincerely on this subject as any one could who had the matter at heart.
.- It , would have been unnecessary for me, a supporter of the Bill, to add to the speeches which have been made, had it not been for the strictures which have been passed on some Customs officials. These are due per- hans to want of knowledge of the development of our administration in regard to immigration. In the first year of Federation hardly any stowaways were discovered, though attempts to evade the immigration law were made in other directions. For a time the Act was administered with a certain amount of liberality, because statistics showed die Chinese in Australia to be decreasing, but as the number of those coming here showed no signs of growing less, the law was eventually administered more strictly. As the ordinary methods of admission were closed, the Chinese commenced - and a more ingenious race is not to be found - to devise means for defeating the law. For the sake of economy the administration of the Act was intrusted to the Customs officials. They, though efficient for their own particular work, did not always make satisfactory immigration officers, and others of greater special aptitude were substituted, until the service was fairly satisfactory throughout Australia, though in one or two ports some principal officers showed little interest in this part of their duties. Gradually the system has been improved. But as crevice after crevice has been closed, the greater has become the pressure on new means of entrance. Thus the trade in stowaways has been increasing under pressure. I can say from personal knowledge that within the last three years the system of inspection in every port in Australia has been revised, and means which it is not advisable to discuss on the floor of this chamber, have been adopted to prevent aliens from gaining admission to the Commonwealth. The statement of the Minister was most exhaustive, and rendered it unnecessary for those who advocate a stricter administration of the law to add anything, though he wisely refrained from saying much that might have been said as to the means adopted. It is highly desirable that the methods of the Department, which are varied from time to time, should remain unknown, so that there may be a useful uncertainty in the East as to when, where, and how searches will be made. One of the results of our latterly improved methods of inspection is the capture of the twenty stowaways to which re- ference has been made. It must be remembered, however, that no sooner is one entrance closed than another is opened. There have been persistent rumours of the introduction of Chinese away from the recognised ports, but, although on four or five occasions within the last three years we have carefully and quietly examined the districts in which this is alleged to take place, we have not discovered any infiltration worth mentioning. It is most probable that when the ports are hermetically sealed we shall have to become vigilant at places where it has not hitherto been necessary to keep, guard, and it may be requisite to undertake more difficult and somewhat more expensive schemes than the Commonwealth has yet faced. The Minister may feel assured that he has the support of Parliament if he continues to perfect this side of the Department of which he has charge. If the Bill now before us proves satisfactory in this regard, we hope that he will not hesitate to take the necessary administrative steps to cope with any further directions, whatever they may be, that this infiltration will take. I believe it to be relatively very small, but if it were allowed to succeed in any particular direction, it would soon become large. If the Minister needs any further legislative authority after this, I venture to say that he will find this House at all times ready to supply it. It is hardly fair to criticise officers chosen and promoted for their ability and zeal in the discharge of their duties as Customs officers, because they do not readily, or at once, adapt themselves to this entirely different course of dealing. We are really immensely indebted to the Customs Department as a whole, and to its officers^ for what they have done. If they are not perfect in this special field, the Minister may be satisfied that the House will support him in adding special officers. A method which we found very fruitful of results lies in multiplying the inducements to others outside the Customs to assist us in discovering any influx of Chinese. I think that bv the extension of that method we can with fair effectiveness police any part of Australia which they are likely to enter. If we do not at once discover the means by which they get there, we can, at least, discover the fact of their entry, and be able to cope with the means afterwards. At least as much as I have said is due to the officers of the Department, some of whom have been exceptionally energetic, while those who have shown themselves at all indifferent in this particular work are being steadily stimulated.
.- A constituent of mine yesterday drew my attention to what he considered a gross injustice which it was intended to inflict by the Bill upon shipping proprietors. I think, however, after to-day’s debate and the explanation given by the Minister and other honorable members, it will appear that there is strong justification for the proposed legislation. Although it appears on the face of it that the offence is merely bringing a vessel into port having stowaways on board, there can be no doubt that the essence of that offence is founded upon some neglect or breach of duty. I am convinced of that after .hearing the explanation of the honorable member for Parkes, who has special knowledge of these matters. lt is obvious that if the Customs officers can discover the stowaways when the ship comes into port, the captain of the ship could either have prevented them from being secreted in the ship at the port of loading,, or discovered them during the voyage. The proposed new offence is therefore practically founded upon the negligence of the captain in the original preparation for the voyage, or upon some deliberate connivance on his part. It is only right and proper that some duty should be imposed, either directly upon the ship-owner, or upon the captain, as representing the ship-owner, of seeing that prohibited immigrants are not sneaked into the territorial waters of the Commonwealth. After hearing the complaint of my constituent, I had decided to suggest that a proviso be added, to the effect that the captain should he liable, unless he proved to the satisfaction of the Court, that such stowaway did not secrete himself on board through his negligence ox connivance. But, after hearing the debate, and the special opportunities which the captain has in supervising the loading of the cargo, inspecting the ship during the process, and seeing that there are no stray holes and cornets where stowaways can be concealed, and the further opportunities which he or his officers, agents, or servants have during the voyage of discovering prohibited immigrants on board, I have decided to abandon the suggestion. I think, on the whole, the objection can be met by the suggestion! of the honorable member for Parkes - that, if the captain proves that he has done his best, but failed to discover the stowaway, and has not been guilty of negligence or connivance, so far as can be reasonably judged, the Court should be allowed to take those special circumstances into consideration in awarding the penalty.
– That’ can only be done if the penalty is made “ not exceeding £100.”
– I think it is simply a maximum penalty, under the principal Act.
– It is a fixed penalty in the original Act.
– How can you prove that he has exercised sufficient care?
– I propose to cast upon the captain the onus of proving that he was not guilty of negligence or connivance. If he shows that, the Court should have power either to let him off or to lessen the penalty. Such a provision would remove any grounds for complaint about drastic or unfair legislation. I am now convinced, however, that it is not necessary to go to the extent of putting in the proviso that I had intended to propose, so long as the Court has jurisdiction in dealing with each particular case to adjust the penalty according to the aggravating or mitigating circumstances of the act. It might be .very hard, in a case where, for instance, a man concealed himself in a well with his head just above the top of the water, to detect him. There might be other cases where stowaways escape the utmost vigilance and resourcefulness of the captain in his search. If the captain proved that he has done everything possible, his efforts to comply with the law might be taken into consideration. On the other hand, the point occurs to me that if the Customs officers are able to discover the stowaway, the captain should also be able to do so.
– And they .discover him in a few hours, while the captain and his officers have at least sixteen days in which to do so.
– That appears to be the answer. I should like the Minister to take into consideration, the question whether the fine can be adjusted according to the enormity of the offence.
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904, the penalty specified means the maximum penalty.
– That meets the point. I think, therefore, that when the facts justifying this legislation become well known, there will be no grounds for the outcry which we are accustomed to hear at times against Federal legislation. There is a, general concurrence of opinion that our White Australia policy should be enforced as effectually as possible, and that there should be no possibility of leakage or infiltration of- prohibited immigrants through loopholes such as have been discovered by the stowaways. I am glad to have the assurance of the late Prime Minister that the greatest amount of supervision was gradually exercised by his Administration, and that methods of inspection have been improved and increased. The Customs officers at the various ports deserve the greatest praise and credit for the vigilance by which they have discovered stowaways in the cases that have been brought before Parliament and the country. There is no ground whatever for attacking them or accusing them of neglect of duty. The officers who discovered the twenty Chinamen on board the Eastern ought to have their services recognised in a very substantial way. By their action they promptly brought under the attention of the country the evil which it is now proposed to remedy. It seems absolutely impossible that twenty Chinamen could be concealed on board a steamer, as those men were, without negligence or connivance on the part of the captain or his officers, servants, or agents. My only doubt was whether the captain might not have some slight ground of excuse for failing to discover a stray Chinaman who got into some out-of-the-way hole or corner. At any rate, there should be a difference between the case of twenty Chinamen and one solitary violation of the law. After all, the offence is not that of allowing the man to enter the Commonwealth, but of bringing him into port. While in port he is still outside the Customs house line of defence, and may not be able to land. He is not a prohibited immigrant until he has actually landed without passing the education test. The new offence lies in his being secreted on board the ship, and being brought into the territorial waters of the Commonwealth - not into the territory of the Commonwealth itself. The point which I was troubled about might be met by allowing the Court, in each case, to. adjust the punishment according to the seriousness of the negligence or the suspicion of connivance which may exist.
.- If the evil does exist to the extent mentioned by the Minister - and in this he seems to be supported by the honorable member for Ballarat - we must .make the legislation fairly stringent, because, if. there are stowaways now, and there is a possibility of their not being detected, we may soon have a very large stream of them coming in. Al any rate, the practice is a defiance of thelaw. At the same time, I would urge themodification of the Bill in the direction that has been suggested, so that where it is clearly shown that the master of the vessel is not conscious of the existence of the stowaway, and has done everything that could reasonably be required of him in the way of search at the port of loading and throughout the voyage, he should be exempt from these provisions. I say that for a reason quite independent of those urged by other honorable members. It is quite possible that this legislation may be held to be bad if it is too drastic. We had a decision in the case of Kingston v. th«Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company in 1903. A vessel, clearing out from one port of the Commonwealth, was exempted from liability to duty by the sealsbeing affixed. Those were not to be broken, in any way, but when the vessel entered another port of the Commonwealth it wasfound that the seals had been broken, something having been done within theterritorial waters of the Commonwealth before the vessel cleared out.
– The offence was that of coming into port with broken seals.
– Not altogether. The Court held in that case that the offence was a composite one; that the privilege of exemption from Customs duty, on condition of non-consumption, was granted, and was indicated by a seal having been affixed whilst the vessel was in the territorial waters of the Commonwealth; that subsequently the vessel went beyond the territorial limits, and returned with the seals broken. That was the primary charge - the seals that were properly affixed within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth, as an indication of exemption from duty, were afterwards broken.
– I think that the honorable member is giving too much prominence to the fixing of the seals.
– I do not desire the fact that we have always spoken of it as the “ broken seals case “ to be deceptive. The Privy Council declared that it was a composite offence.
– But this Bill provides for another sort of offence.
– I am endeavouring to lead up to that. It may be different in the sense of being more objectionable from the point of view of international law, since there is absent from the offence the element of something being done in territorial waters, before the voyage commences, on a condition not subsequently respected. That is the point. The whole offence under this Bill is that of coming into our territorial waters with something having been done outside over which we have no control.
-No; the offence is bringing in men who are prohibited immigrants.
-The offence under this Bill is different from that to which I have just referred. In this case a vessel clears out, not from a Commonwealth, but from a foreign, port, and the main offence for which we propose to punish the master is that of clearing out from a foreign port with stowaways on board. It may be hypertechnical, but I wish to point out that this Bill goes so close to violating a primary principle of English jurisprudence that, if we are not careful, it may be held to be toad. It is just possible that the principle embodied in the Customs Act, by which we declare that the mere averment that an offence has been committed shall be primâ facie evidence that it has been committed, may be held to be bad. The decisions that have been given up to the present with regard to these primâ facie assumptions are that they are, although valid, altogether repugnant to the principles of English law. The question has been raised, but a decision of the final Court of Appeal has not yet been given. Clause 3 is a drastic provision, since it seeks to declare a man a prohibited immigrant contrary to fact. Under it we assume that a stowaway, unless it can be shown that he had previously passed the education test, is a prohibited immigrant, although when he is asked by an officer to pass it, he is capable of doing so. This Bill is incorporated with the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, and the amending Act of1905, and the definition of “ prohibited immigrant “ in the Act of1905 determines its scope. A “prohibited immigrant “ under the principal Act is one who is unable to pass at dictation a certain language test, and under clause 3 of this Bill it is declared that if a stowaway, within the meaning of a subsequent definition, is found on a vessel on its arrival here, he will be presumed to be a prohibited immigrant, although he has never been subjected to the education test, and, notwithstanding that, when he is, in the regular course, in a position to be sub jected to it, he passes it. That seems to be repugnant to all principles of justice. A man is to be convicted for doing something that he has not done. Unless we are careful as to the phraseology we employ, the Court may hold that this provision is bad, as being too great a limitation upon the general principles of international law. I would suggest, therefore, for that reason alone, that we should provide that if a captain can prove that he has not been guilty of negligence - that he has taken every reasonable precaution - he shall be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. I accept the statement of the Minister that the facts justify the introduction of this measure, although we know that we have often been influenced by scares in passing legislation with regard to coloured immigrants. In1888, the arrival of the steamer Afghan with some hundreds of Chinese on board gave rise to a great scare. It was said that we were to be swamped with Chinese immigrants, and a meeting of the Premiers of the States was called, with the result that the more drastic immigration restriction laws of the States were initiated. That scare was not justified, because it was shown that the arrival of the Chinese by the Afghan was merely a spasmodic influx, and that during the preceding two decades there had been a steady- decline in the number of Chinese who came to and remained in the States. We must, however, accept what the Administration tell us, and perhaps on the whole they are justified.
.- We have reason to congratulate ourselves upon the way in which this Bill has been received. At one time in the history of the Parliament it would have met with a hostile reception.
– Every one desires that the law shall be carried out.
– When the first Immigration Restriction Bill was introduced in this House there was a good deal of opposition to it, and many arguments were used against its becoming law.
– We have had similar legislation in the States for the last twenty years.
-Quite so, but the right honorable member knows that a good deal of opposition was displayed in this Chamber to the passing of the first Immigration Restriction Bill.
-I do not think so.
– It was hotly debated and much opposition was shown to it. It is pleasing to find that honorable members now realize that every effort must be made to preserve the health of the people and the purity of our race. The honorable member for Ballarat complimented the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs on their diligence in searching vessels and discovering stowaways. 1, too, wish to compliment them, but at the same time I find fault with the Department. On many occasions I have urged in this House the desirableness of making a more comprehensive and exhaustive examination of vessels from the East . coming down the Queensland coast. I believed - and subsequent events have shown that my belief was well founded - that large quantities of opium were being introduced by such vessels. I suggested to the then Minister at what point the opium was coming in, and pointed out that there were only six searchers in the service, five of whom were stationed in Sydney. In such circumstances, how could vessels be properly examined? The Customs officers ‘in the smaller ports of the Commonwealth have a great deal of work to do. They have often, to work very long hours and to ask them to make exhaustive examinations of these vessels is in some cases to request them to put too great a strain upon their powers of endurance. Nevertheless they have done good work, and I think that the Department has taken a step in the right direction by appointing more searchers, although it has been very dilatory in doing so. I also had information regarding some of the ships carrying cargoes of frozen meat from Australia to the East. On the return voyage the refrigerating chambers on these vessels are empty, and the shoots which carry the air from the machines to the chambers are also supposed to be empty. But in some cases there has not been wanting evidence that these shoots have been occupied by human beings. I do not know whether steps have been taken to examine them since I called attention to the matter, but they certainly offer a stowaway a means of secreting himself during portion of the voyage, and there is ample evidence that in some cases they have been so occupied. It has been urged by some honorable members that the provision for the imposition of a penalty of £100 under this Bill should be so amended as to provide for a penalty “ not exceeding “ £100. The right honorable member for Swan has referred to the Immigration Restriction Acts of the States, and I propose to draw the attention of the House to an Act that was passed by the Reid Administration in New South Wales in 1898. Some honorable members of the Opposition in this House supported that Ministry, and possibly one or two of them were members of it. The Act is described as -
An Act to place certain restrictions on immigration; to provide for the removal from theColony of prohibited immigrants; to imposecertain disabilities upon them whilst in the Colony ; and for other purposes incidental to, or consequent upon, the before-mentioned objects.
Section 8 of that Act is as follows : -
The master and owners of any vessel from which any prohibited immigrant may be landed before such immigrant is passed by an officer, appointed for that purpose by the Government shall be jointly and severally liable to a penalty of One hundred pounds in respect of the landing as aforesaid from his vessel of any prohibited immigrant, and to a further penalty of Twenty pounds for each such immigrant solanded in excess of the number of five : Provided that the total amount of penalties incurred in any one voyage of the vessel shall not exceed Five thousand pounds, and the vessel’ may be made executable by a decree of theSupreme Court in satisfaction of any such-, penalty, and the vessel may be refused a clearance outwards until such penalty has been> paid, and until provision has been made by the master, to the satisfaction of an officer appointed under this Act, for a conveyance out of the Colony of each prohibited immigrant who may have been so landed.
There is no qualification whatever there,, the amount being stated definitely. Section 14 of the same Act provides -
The penalty for any contravention of thic Act, or of any regulation made thereunder where no higher penalty is expressly imposed, shall not exceed a fine of Fifty pounds sterling, or imprisonment, with or without hard’ labour, until payment of such fine or an addition to such fine, but not exceeding in anycase three months.
Then section 10 provides -
Any person who shall in any way wilfully assist any prohibited immigrant to contravene the provision of this Act, shall be deemed tohave contravened this Act.
That Act was passed ten years ago in New South Wales, and is similar to our principal Act; and, therefore, honorable members opposite cannot take exception to the provisions of the Bill in this connexion. I rose particularly to express my keen disappointment that the Bill, which is one toamend the Immigration Restriction Act. does not go further. Had it been described simply as a Stowaway Act I should not have much fault to find with it; but. under the circumstances, I am surprised that no provision is made to meet an emergency towhich reference has been made on many occasions by members of the Labour Party..
How is it that there is no clause providing that men may not be landed here for what is neither more nor less than strike breaking?
-That is more a matter for a Bill dealing with contract labour.
Mr.BAMFORD. -Not so; because, in the opinion of the late Mr. Kingston, Sir Edmund Barton, and the late AttorneyGeneral, men, who otherwise would be regarded as amenable to the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act, may be landed and allowed to remain here for six months or longer, the only condition being that, when the vessel which brought them sails, they must go with her. Indeed, the state of affairs which I have indicated has already arisen. In Sydney, during the coal lumpers’ strike, men were broughtinto the harbor and placed on punts, which, under the Act, is technically a landing, and were permitted to work in the place of the strikers; and the authorities were powerless to interfere. There was a similar occurrence at Pinkenba, near Brisbane, where men were landed on the wharfs and worked as labourers ; and I repeat that I am much disappointed that the Government have not availed themselves of the opportunity to make the Act sufficiently comprehensive to prevent this sort of evasion.
– We may have another opportunity when there is more time.
-I am afraid that the honorable member would not be found very liberal in his attitude towards such a measure. I believe that the leakage, referred to by the honorable member for Ballarat, does go on along the north-west coast of Australia; and I do not see how it is to be prevented, unless there is a cruiser provided to patrol those waters. Malays come across in their boats for the pearl-fishing ; and there is nothing to prevent the landing of men, in return for liberal passage money, and their gradually drifting into the settled portions of the country.
-Even if we had a flotilla of cruisers we could scarcely prevent the landing of men on a coast-line so long.
– The coast-line, though extensive, has only a limited area where men would be likely to land, and that is, possibly, somewhere between Port Darwin and Kimberley. Under present conditions there is ample opportunity to land undesirable immigrants, and that there is a desire to do so, is shown by the case of the Eastern. Chinese risk their lives on vessels bound down the coast, because by so doing they are brought directly to the populous centres, where their fellow- countrymen are to be found; and I think that there must be many undiscovered cases. These ships arrive every fortnight ; and, in view of recent events, it may be assumed that on every trip, Chinese, in greater or lesser numbers, are brought. No doubt it is a compliment that these men should risk their lives in order to obtain admission to Australia, for if the country had not a good reputation, they would not display such anxiety to come here. I do not at present see how I can move an amendment to meet the case of strike-breakers to which I have referred ; and I only express my regret that the Government have made no provision to prevent the landing of men under such circumstances.
.- I congratulate the Ministryon having the temerity to introduce the Bill at this stage of the session. We are beginning to realize at last that the Government intend to proceed with the various planks of the Labour platform, seeing that this Bill represents the first plank, namely, a White Australia. It is rather unfortunate, however, that the policy embodied in the Bill is one accepted by every section of the House.
-That depends on the point of view.
– At any rate, on this occasion the Ministry are simply carrying out the policy which is favoured on all sides of the House; and I am quite satisfied that a White Australia is an absolute necessity. Now that we have set our hands to the plough, we should not turnback under any circumstances. The older I grow the more I am convinced that a policy of the kind must be pursued, particularly when we find how extremely difficult the racial question is becoming ire other countries. And now that we have incurred considerable expense in this connexion, and, if I may say so, some international danger, weshould do the work thoroughly, and see that the Acts we have already passed are not evaded. Of course, we must provide that an innocent offender is not unduly punished, while insisting on ship-owners - who, as a rule, are wealthy men - and captains, officers, and crews, taking every precaution.
– The honorable member for Herbert gave some amusing instances of the manner in which stowaways have hidden themselves on board ship. I should not like to speak disparagingly of China: men, but, considering the way in which these men try to get into Australia in defiance of the law, they must be regarded with as little sympathy as we give to burglars. Their attempts to evade the law have been strange enough to give material for an interesting novel. In one case, a number were packed on top of the” boilers. Perhaps they selected that place to disinfect themselves by the heat, so that they should not introduce disease. The honorable member also spoke of the possibility of stowaways being carried in the refrigerating chambers. That could be done only by the connivance of persons on board. Perhaps they would be taken cheaply, as back loading is’ taken by our carriers, though, if by any mistake the refrigerating machinery was set in motion, they would probably be converted into frozen produce, and the thawing would be a very difficult process. Men have hidden themselves in the water tanks, others in the smoke box. The case has its serious side when we consider how likely it is that disease may be introduced by these stowaways. The honorable member for Bass is aware that an outbreak of small-pox occurred in Tasmania because of germs in clothing which had been shut up in a box for twenty years or more. When the clothing was sorted, persons living in the house were attacked with the disease. When smallpox, cholera, plague, or any other epidemic breaks out in the East, the people become very frightened, and, no doubt, many try to get away to other places. Should such persons succeed in evading our Customs and quarantine authorities, they might bring into Australia the germs of any of these awful diseases. Though quite healthy themselves, they might carry disease germs in their clothing. One of our most important duties is the protection of the public health, and for this reason alone we should do all that is possible to prevent- the immigration of undesirable aliens. The honorable member for Herbert said that, probably, many Chinese are landed on our north-west and northern coasts, and in the Northern Territory. We have such an enormous coastline, and the country is so sparsely populated, that it is almost impossible to prevent this. If we used cruisers to intercept the vessels which are supposed to bring these people, we should need a great number of them. One vessel would be of little use. Seeing how much stowaways can stand, it seems likely that Chinese put ashore with but a small supply of provisions, could exist for a long time where there was water, and might ultimately reach centres of population without it being discovered that they had been smuggled into the country. A way in which the smuggling of Chinese into Australia might be hindered would be to employ officers whose duty it would be to board Eastern vessels at their first port of call in Australia, and to travel with them round the coast, making searches for stowaways while at sea. I understand that the Customs officials receive £5 for every alien stowaway discovered, and these officers could be promised this reward. This would be an additional incentive to keenness, though, as a rule, our officials do their work well without the expectation of anything in addition to their salaries. Should stowaways be discovered, the masters or officers of the vessel carrying them should, on reaching Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, be prosecuted and fined. It might be necessary to appoint a dozen of these inspectors, but their employment would render it more difficult for stowaways to escape detection. The Bill makes a ship-master liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty of £100 for each stowaway j but I think that the penalty should be “not less than £100.” It may be that some one under his command has connived at the presence of stowaways, because of a profit which he makes out of the business, while the master has no knowledge of the facts. In such a case, it would be unfair to make the master liable to.such a heavy penalty.
– If masters can insure themselves against the liability, there is really no penalty.
– I do not know that they can. When Chinamen, returning to Australia, die on board ship, the surgeon and chief officer are paid for preserving the body, and returning it to China. This, I understand, is provided for in the passage money. I believe the amount is generally paid to the chief officer and the doctor, and I dare say some of the crew participate for lending their services. The Bill might be modified in dealing with the master, because he may not have the slightest knowledge of the breach of the law. No owner or captain of a vessel encourages stowaways. It has always been the custom when stowaways are found! to put them ashore if possible at the first port of call. I found that stowaways discovered on vessels that I have been on were treated very roughly by the master.
– But these stowaways represent a highly lucrative business. Up to £150 is paid for each mim landed.
– It is quite possible that none of that money goes to the master or the owners. If it does, then the men are not stowaways but really passengers, because their passage money is paid. The master of a big modern vessel would not lend himself to that sort of thing.
– We want to make him careful.
– The Bill is a good one for that purpose, and I am not objecting to it, but I want British fair play to be meted out to people who have no guilty knowledge of these transactions.
– They will go scot free every time.
– If the master participates in the £150 which is supposed to be paid he should certainly suffer the heaviest penalty.
– How can that be found out?
– Only by investigation through the Law Courts. I admit that. evidence cannot very well be obtained from abroad, but the Minister might have agents acting for the Government in Hong Kong and other places where the vessels call.
– The masters will keep agents of their own there if they know that they will be fined for bringing stowaways to Australian ports.
– I do not know that they will. If there is .£150 in the business and the fine is only £100, they will still be £50 to the good.
– We are assuming that the master is a virtuous man.
– Order ; the honorable member for Macquarie has already spoken.
– I assume. that the masters of most vessels trading from port to port nowadays are honorable men.
– I do not think that there is any question about that, but they have to keep their situations.
– If they are guilty of dishonorable practices in order to keep their situations, they become dishonorable men. I wish to see some provision made so that innocent men may not be punished. We should be fair. It is quite impossible for the master of a vessel to go into all the places where these men might be stowed away.
– He would get at the same result by punishing the officer who allowed it to be done.
– Unless the master has legal recourse upon the officer who is responsible, it will be impossible for him to punish him to the extent of the fine.
– He would punish him enough to be sure that he would not do it again.
– Until the articles are fulfilled the master cannot dismiss the officer.
– An action of this sortwould be sufficient misconduct on the part of the officer to entitle the captain to dis- . miss him.
– It would be difficult for the master to prove that the officer had guilty knowledge. In cases of this kind we are dealing with some of the wiliest men on the face of the .earth. I am glad to notice that in new section 9b we are taking the power of search. It is necessary that the Commonwealth should have it, if only in connexion with the quarantine laws. Stowaways might introduce serious diseases into Australia, and we must have power tosearch vessels to prevent that. Does the Minister intend to provide in this Bill for the quite modern form of stowaway known as materialized mandarins? The possibilities of airships and of mediums are sogreat in these days that materialized aliens might easily be introduced. This Bill’ offers an opportunity to guard against that danger. I have noticed that cases of goods containing condensed milk and similar articles are branded “ stow away from boilers.” Some provision should be made in the Bill for branding these prohibited’ immigrants in the same way. In the winter time, when the weather is very cold in those northern ports, the searchers might be instructed to pay special attention to the vicinity of the boilers, while in summer they would do well to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Herbert, and search the refrigerating chambers. The Bill must afford a great deal of assistance to the Minister and Parliament in carrying out the White Australia policy, to whichwe intend to adhere at all costs’ If it is as effective as we hope, the leakage will be so small as to become almost infinitesimal, and we shall be able to show to the rest of the world that it is possible to carry out such a policy with very little friction and with great benefit. The final result must be to the great advantage of the whole of the people of Australia.
.- I can hardly imagine that any honorable member who has previously supported the White Australia policy wilT refuse to accept the general principle of the Bill. Recent revelations have made it necessary to give to those who administer the Immigration Restriction Acts, greater power of search and of punishment, and consequently I shall support the second reading of the measure. But we are entitled to ask the Minister to amend clause 3 so as not to make it absolutely mandatory on the Court, without considering extenuating circumstances, to inflict a fine of ,£100 in every case.
– The Minister is going to modify that by inserting the words “ not more than.”
– I am glad to hear it. A fine of this inflexible character may seriously affect masters of vessels who have no criminal intent, and have exercised, to the best of their ability, the necessary precautions in dealing with a class of people who display considerable cleverness in evading observation as stowaways. I think that we shall all agree with the principle of the Bill, and I accept the assurance that the provision as to the penalty to be imposed will be modified. The Bill will have a valuable effect in preventing the introduction of disease, and the power of inspection which it confers will be a wise and desirable addition to those which the authorities already possess. I am satisfied that commercial men outside will agree that the House was perfectly justified in passing a measure of this character in order that there may be no evasion of the law in respect of a class of immigration that must be limited, and, in some cases, absolutely restricted. I think that the Bill will be accepted, and I hope that, subject to the modification I have mentioned, it will speedily become law.
.- Like other honorable members on all sides of the House, I recognise that some such Bill as this is necessary to deal with a danger that has recently become all too apparent.
– lt is becoming a traffic.
– It is becoming, apparently, almost a traffic. I have risen, not so much to express my views in that regard, as to suggest to the Minister one or two improvements that I think might be made in the Bill. For instance, one of the most important provisions deals with the power that the Commonwealth takes to detain for a reasonable time, for the purposes of search, any vessel upon the Australian coast line. I wish to point out to the Minister that that power may be abused, not by the Commonwealth officers - I do not anticipate that they are likely to abuse it - but by persons who desire to inconvenience the master or owners of a vessel trading on the Australian coast. Let us assume, for instance, that in a Queensland port, some one, who has a grudge against a certain shipping company, lodges with the Customs officers there the information that, deep in the hold of one of that company’s vessels, lie four and twenty gentlemen of China. The Customs authorities of that port then proceed to unload the vessel, in order to make a reasonable search. They go to the trouble of searching the hold for these aristocrats beyond the seas, and find none, and yet the vessel has been detained while this fruitless search was being made. It is in order to prevent such an occurrence, that I suggest that this provision might be hedged about with a safeguard, making it a punishable offence for any one to knowingly lodge a false information against any ship. The word “ knowingly “ is almost too wide, because it would allow a way of escape, but any one who wilfully misleads Commonwealth officers into the belief that there are stowaways on a vessel, and so subjects them as well as the vessel to a waste of valuable time> ought to be severely punished. I make this suggestion in the hope that the Minister, when we reach the Committee stage, will draft some such amendment as I have outlined. With such a provision inserted, I think there could be very little objection to the Bill. As to the point raised by the honorable member for Kooyong regarding the maximum penalty of £100, I am not quite clear as to whether this Bill would come within the scope of the Acts Interpretation Act which provides that any penalty mentioned in an Act shall be the maximum.
– That is only where the penalty appears as a foot-note to a section.
– I thought that that was so. I do not think there would be any harm in making a fine of ,£100 the maximum penalty.
– It is absolute in the original Act.
– If it is the absolute penalty under that Act, then it would seem that it ought to be the absolute penalty in this case, since the Bill deals with a far more serious offence than that of landing a prohibited immigrant. It applies to those who surreptitiously land prohibited immigrants - immigrants who may have been hidden away in an insanitary part of a ship for perhaps three weeks, and whose landing here might be a menace to public health.
– What about a master who has no guilty knowledge?
– Under the last clause of the Bill a master has power to clear himself. I admit that the chief officer who, I believe, supervises the loading of these vessels, and must therefore have far greater opportunities and knowledge than the master himself, would probably be in a position to imperil the master and the whole ship’s company.
– The second officer usually supervises the loading, but the chief officer is responsible.
– We have to place the responsibility somewhere. The captain, under existing usage, has to take the responsibility for the navigation of his vessel, although, in all probability, it is his chief officer who lays the course, and does most of the work in that regard.
– Except in difficult parts.
– And in that case, the master voluntarily takes up the work, to make sure that no mistake will be made. This fixing of the responsibility upon the masters will have the result of making them particularly careful to see that the loading of their vessels at ports of call in the East is properly carried out, and that no spaces are left where men might be stowed away. The honorable member for Melbourne once made the noble suggestion that these vessels should be filled with carbonic acid gas. If they were, no person could live below, but the only weakness of the proposal is that it would be somewhat difficult to get the gas out again, since it always sinks. I do not wish to detain the House further. This is not a party question. I think that, with one exception, honorable members indorse the principle of a White Australia, and I hope, therefore, that the Minister will accept friendly suggestions in Com mittee. If that be done, a measure may emerge such as will give us every reason to feel secure.
– I desire to express my appreciation of the spirit in which honorable members have greeted this measure. It will show that the House is practically unanimous in the determination to prevent any evasion of the law, and that all parties are agreed upon the absolute necessity of keeping Australia white. During the debate several amendments have been suggested that might, or might not, improve the Bill. As to the criticism of the honorable member for Herbert, that the Bill does not go far enough, in that it does not apply to contract immigrants, or place a prohibition upon a ship’s crew taking the place of men on strike at ports of call on the Australian coast, I admit at once that it does not attempt to do anything of the kind. It is designed to deal with a matter of extreme urgency, and it has the advantage of not being highly controversial. At this stage of the session, it would be absurd for the Government to bring down a proposal that had no reasonable chance of being carried. The House is practically unanimous as to the desirableness of passing the Bill as it stands, and we may therefore look forward to a clear passage. As to the penalty for which it provides, I admit that there is some force in the contention of those who say it is somewhat hard that a master who has taken every reasonable precaution to discover stowaways on board his vessel should be subjected to the same fine as is one who has not done so. I would point out, however, that offences under this measure will be dealt with by Judges in the different States, and that if we made £100 the maximum penalty we might have different fines imposed in respect of the same offence.
– No two offences can be exactly parallel.
– The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company got off with a fine of £$ per head with respect to a number of prohibited immigrants.
– If £100 were made the maximum penalty, we might have varying fines imposed in respect of offences committed under much the same conditions.
-And the alternative is that we should have the same punishment imposed for different offences.
– Then let us increase the maximum.
-The honorable member’s suggestion is worthy of consideration. We must remember what the possibilities are. If we do not stop this business of carrying stowaways, we shall expose Australia to the peril of an absolute abrogation of the quarantine laws. The penalty ought to be sufficient to act as a deterrent, though I do not say that the minimum must necessarily be the maximum. The honorable member for Robertson suggested that it would be a scandal, amounting almost to a miscarriage of justice, if the punishment amounted to some few pounds per head for bringing a number of Chinese stowaways here.
-The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company were fined only per head for years.
– But the fine could have been £100.
-Under the honorable member’s suggestion, the company might be fined only1s. or£1. Honorable members will take a very great risk,if the penalty be lowered to an extent likely to render the law inoperative.
-Clause 3 provides that the penalty shall be £100 for each stowaway ; and, in the case of the Eastern, the penalties would have amounted to£3,000.
-If it had been possible to inflict a fine of£1 a head the penalties would have been out of all proportion to the enormity of the offence. I thank honorable members for the reception given to the measure, and trust that it will be speedily passed through the Committee stage, and sent on to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After section nine of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “9a. If any vessel, having on board any stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant, comes into any port in Australia, the master of the vessel shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty of One hundred pounds for each such stowaway. (2.) Every stowaway brought into any port on board a vessel shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant for the purposes of this section unless it is proved that lie has passed the dictation test or that an officer has permitted him to land without restriction. “9b. - (1.) Any officer may at any time search any vessel in any port or in any territorial waters of the Commonwealth to ascertain whether there are any stowaways on board the vessel, and for that purpose may board the vessel, and enter into any part of the vessel. (2.) At the request of an officer, the master of a vessel shall facilitate the boarding of the vessel, and shall by all means in his power facilitate the searching of the vessel by the officer, and if he fails or neglects to do so he shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty of One hundred pounds. “9c. - (1.) Any officer may, by notice in writing to the master of the vessel, detain any vessel at any port or place for a reasonable time for the purpose of enabling him to search the vessel to ascertain whether there are any stowaways on board the vessel. (2.) If the master of any vessel detained in pursuance of this section moves his vessel without the consent of the officer, while she is under detention, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty of One hundred pounds. “ 9d. Any person on board a vessel at the time of her arrival from any place outside Australia at any port in Australia who is not -
a member of the crew of the vessel whose name is on the articles, shall be deemed to be a stowaway, unless the master of the vessel gives notice to an officer that the person is on board the vessel, and does not permit him to land until the officer has had an opportunity of satisfying himself that the person is not a prohibited immigrant.”
.- There is certainly a difficulty in leaving it to the various Courts throughout the Common- wealth to say whether an offender shall be fined1s. or£100. For exactly similar offences we might have a captain fined £5 in one Court and £100 in another ; and that would undoubtedly create a strong sense of dissatisfaction. In my opinion, the minimum ought to be made fairly low.
– Let it be not less than£25 or more than . £100.
– At present the Bill is consistent with the principal Act.
– I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Parkes might be adopted, and I move -
That after the words “ penalty of,” new section 9a, the words “ not less than twenty-five nor more than,” be inserted.
.- From what has been said byhe honorable member for Angas this evening, I gather that he is desirous of reducing this penalty in the interests of the captain. But, while it is true that a captain who brought only one stowaway might suffer an injustice if the minimum were made high, I cannot understand how there could be any injustice in the case of a captain who brought thirty stowaways. The more stowaways there are, the higher should be the penalty, because there would be reasonable suspicion of connivance; and I do not think that the minimum should be less than£100, if we are to insure greater care on the part of the officers of ships.
– I should be sorry if the minimum were lowered, because it seems to me that the fines inflicted would depend upon the political colour of the magistrate. InVictoria, under the Factories Act, the fines inflicted by magistrates who did not approve of the legislation were often ridiculously inadequate, sometimes being as low as1s. ; and in other Acts of the State care has been taken to meet the case of justices who try, not to administer the law, but to impress their own views on the country. If we fix the minimum at £25, we shall find it very rarely exceeded. If an alternative is desired, let the honorable member for Angas move that the fine be not less than £100 or more than £125 or £150. When a prohibited immigrant is brought here in a fairly open manner, the captain must be fined £100, while in the case of a stowaway it is proposed that the penalty may be only £25.
– But a stowaway, if he be landed, becomes a prohibited immigrant, and a further liability of £100 is incurred.
-The honorable member seems to sympathize with the captain who errs inadvertently ; but I point out that, under the present Act. such inadvertence incurs a penalty of £100, and I have heard no complaint on that score.
. -Under the first Immigration Restriction Act, the penalty was one not exceeding £100, with the result that in New South Wales, where, I suppose, the magistrates are just as good as the average, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, from1901 to1905, when the amending Act was passed, committed offences month after month, and were never fined more than£5. Such a fine was, of course, no deterrent; and the Government were compelled to make the penalty £100, after which there was a marked falling off in the number of convictions.
– How did the company manage to avoid offending?
– The higher penalty caused the company to exercise stricter supervision.
– But the company are fined a good many times now.
– Not nearly so many times as under the original Act. Of course, the money is refunded if the company recover the man again.
– But we are now dealing with the case of a stowaway who is not found until the ship arrives in port.
– I am afraid the honorable member does not quite appreciate the point. The penalty is imposed on masters on whose vessels stowaways are found, and whose presence there has not been declared, stowaways being defined as persons who are neither passengers nor members of a crew. Should a captain “ declare “ all the stowaways on board there will be no penalty to pay. Had the carrying of stowaways without reporting them been an offence making the ship’s master liable to a heavy fine, the officers of the Eastern would probably have discovered the twenty-two men who were found by the Customs officials. Is it to be imagined that some of the crew did not know that they had stowaways on board? The men could not have travelled all the way in the cargo holds.
– The captain may not have known about them.
-I do not say that he did ; but had the officers known that they would be held responsible, and that their positions depended on their vigilance, the stowaways would probably have been found. If an officer knew that neglect to find stowaways would make him liable to be put off at the first port, he would exercise every precaution, because when a man loses his billet through negligence, and has that marked on his “ discharge,” he does not find it easy to get another. Unless there is a substantial minimum penalty, the Bill may be merely waste paper.
– Would a penalty of£50 be reasonable?
– I preferthe amount fixed in the principal Act; but in an aggravated case I would increase the penalty. In my opinion, we should retain the minimum penalty of £100.
– I do not think that we should import warmth into this discussion, and we should try to observe some sense of proportion. It is not rich corporations that we propose to mulct, but masters of vessels whose average pay is from£20 to £25 a month.
We do not suspect that they connive at the introduction of aliens unknown to the authorities, but we throw on them the nominal and actual responsibility for the negligence of the subordinates whom they control. The honorable member for South Sydney has relied upon an illustration which seems to me to scarcely bear on the case. The offence of which he spoke is that of allowing prohibited immigrants, known to be on board, to escape. The honorable member for Dalley, too, is dwelling on the one case only - that of the twenty-two Chinamen who were discovered on the Eastern, who might have had the plague. It must be recognised that masters cannot always be considered personally liable for actual negligence, because in foreign ports they are generally at the office of the agent while their vessels are loading under the supervision of their officers and the stevedores. But as the legal head of the ship, we make the master responsible in order that he may be stricter with those under his control. I stated this afternoon that I thought that there should be a minimum and a maximum penalty, and that discretion in determining the amount of the fine should be left to the magistrates. It is a reflection on them to say that they cannot be trustedto impose the proper penalty in every case.
– I gave an instance in point.
– It was not necessarily in point. Magistrates are not all alike. There was no evidence that the men concerned were not ordinary sailors who had undergone medical examination, and whom it would have been no heinous offence to let into the country. It may happen that, notwithstanding all the precautions of the captain and his officers, a stowaway remains undiscovered until the vessel unloads, and if it were proved to the satisfaction of the magistrate that everything had been done, though in vain, to discover his presence there, it would be a hardship to impose the maximum fine. The question is, shall a captain who is receiving only £20 or£25 a month, and hasmade every effort, though in vain, to prevent a stowaway from travelling on his vessel, be subject to the maximum fine; or shall we vest a discretion in the magistrates which will allow of the imposition of a minimum fine of £25 ? The amount of the fine should depend on the gravity of the offence. We must assume that our magistrates are reasonable men, who will administer the law honestly, and are capable of dealing with these offences as the circumstances dictate. I suggest to the honorable and learned member for Angas that he should use the words “ not less than£25 nor more than £150.” I can conceive of cases in which a fine of £100 would be insufficient punishment, because it might happen that the master had knowingly brought stowaways, in the hope of getting a substantial reward by conniving at their escape.
– Make the minimum fine £50 and the maximum , £150.
– I think that the magistrates should be permitted to make the fine as low as£25 for each stowaway, because it is possible for an individual stowaway to travel on a ship without detection, notwithstanding the closest search by the captain and his officers.
– The action which we now propose has been forced on the Government by continual evasions of the law. The Act of 1901 provided a penalty not exceeding£100, but the magistrates almost invariably imposed fines which were too small to have any deterrent effect, and consequently an amendment was passed, taking away their discretion. The case of the Eastern, on which twenty-two stowaways were discovered, must not be regarded as unique, or even as very unusual. It is unusual for so many men tobe found, but not for so many to be stowed away. Moreover, it is in the last degree improbable that the captain would be unaware, during a voyage from Singapore, or any Chinese port, to Sydney, of the presence of so many stowaways on board his ship. If he did not know that they were there, he must have been negligent, or his officers were not doing their duty. When the Navigation Commission was at Fremantle, a steamer arrived with ten stowaways, who were found in one of the ship’s boats, covered with canvas. As the boat was perfectly clean, it was obvious that there had been collusion. Indeed, it is only by the collusion of the ship’s authorities that stowaways cart travel for any considerable distance. Under this Bill, a stowaway has to be a person of whom the master gives no notice to the officer, or does not prohibit from landing. If the master does one of those things he is safeguarded; if not, he is liable. It has been suggested that the minimum penalty should be£25, and the maximum£150, but no master, so far as I know, could pay even£25 per head for half-a-dozen stowaways. Consequently the argument that the penalty should be reduced to£25 in order to enable the poor master to scrape through, falls to the ground. The ordinary master of a ship is no more able to pay six times£25 than he is to pay six times£100. In the principal Act the penalty may be recovered from the master, owner, agent, or charterer. If an amendment of that sort were made in this case it would give the Commonwealth recourse against everybody who might otherwise evade the Act. What would happen if the master said he had not got the money ? Does any one suppose that the master, when called on to pay a fine of , £100, has to do so out of his own pocket? The company, and not the master, pays in every case. The fine has to be paid, and very properly, by the employers of every person on the ship. While there is a good deal to be said for the amendment put forward by the honorable member for Angas, I am inclined to think that the heavier the penalty is made the more drastic will be the regulations made by the companies. The companies will insist upon masters and officers making such diligent inspection of the ship that not one stowaway shall remain undiscovered. A ship is not a hay stack. It can be inspected1. A hunt for a bundle of cigars or a tin of opium might fail, but it is impossible for a man to evade for ten or fifteen days in a ship the constant and vigilant search of men whose business it is to find him out. The penalty must stand as it is.
– This appears to be very good electioneering matter. Each side is trying to go one better than the other. The AttorneyGeneral stated that the measure is directed not against the master but against the shipowners, so that the easiest way to recover the fine is to make it very heavy. The honorable member for South Sydney threw himself into a great passion overit. That an innocent man should be fined only£25 seemed to cause him great frenzy. He thought the penalty should be made £50, and then urged that if it were made £100 the subordinate officer whose duty it was to see that there were no stowaways would be dismissed at the first port. Then he seemed to subside because he had the poor man down. He said the Peninsular and Oriental Company allowed a large number of their crew to walk off one at a time, and were willing to pay £5 per head for as many of them as ran away, and that it was only when the fine was increased to £100 per head that they stopped the desertion of their crew. Is not that a silly statement? The Peninsular and Oriental Company want their crews to man their ships. The men ran away of their own accord, and cost the company £5 a head. Since the fine was made£100 they have not allowed their crews on shore, I suppose, or otherwise we should have heard of their running away. The fine has been made so high that the poor fellows are kept in imprisonment all the time they are in port. The argument has also been advanced that the Bill is needed to prevent the introduction of disease, but is it reasonable to suppose that the officers would knowingly allow men suffering from plague or other infectious diseases to remain on board in seclusion ? What we should do is to punish those who break the law intentionally. For those cases the fine should be made £100, but if the master is innocent he should receive clemency.
– He may be guilty of culpable negligence.
– Perhaps he has done his best. . The Bill seems an excellent placard for the elections, and each side appears to be vieing with the other to get the credit at the polls for keeping out objectionable immigrants. In these cases, if a man is guilty, I should fine him £100 ; if he is innocent, he should be treated leniently, and I would let him off with a fine of rather than the minimum of £50. If I could be assured of any support I should move for the insertion of the words “ not exceeding,” before the words “ One hundred pounds. “ This Bill is really no amendment of the principal Act at all. Honorable members opposite are simply grinning up their sleeves and laughing at the people. They say that their objective is a White Australia. I suppose they will make the maximum fine in this case£150. The Minister appears to have been very busy over a small matter. A few men have been smuggled into Australia, and this has caused a great amount of excitement.
Mr.Batchelor. - The Bill was introduced before the discovery of the last lot of stowaways.
– It appears to have been on the tapis for a considerable time. The last argument in favour of the
Bill was that men were being distributed all along the shore, between Port Darwin and Sydney. The ex-Prime Minister stated to-day that, although the most vigilant search has been made all along the coast, very little information was obtained to prove that men had landed anywhere but at the recognised ports of call, so that the. whole thing is a case of “Much ado about nothing.” The Bill was framed because of clamour by the Labour Party.
– If the offence so rarely occurs, the penalty will be rarely inflicted.
.- The honorable member for Parkes, and several others, have urged that it is wrong to provide a maximum penalty of. ^100, ‘and to give no discretionary power to the magistrates before whom a case under this Bill would come. I would remind them that in one of the most effective Statutes that we have passed, there are precisely similar provisions as to penalties. I refer to the Customs Act, section 24 of which provides that no person shall use any unlicensed carriage, boat, or lighter, for the conveyance of goods subject to the control of the Customs, and concludes with the words “ Penalty : Twenty pounds.” When the honorable member for Parkes suggests that an hysterical pry is being raised for the imposition of an absolute penalty in this case, I cannot refrain from reminding him of the provisions of the Customs Act, and from pointing out that under it the owner of an unlicensed boat, who, perhaps, would not earn £2 10s. a week, is liable to a penalty of £20 for doing certain things. And yet the honorable member said that a fine of ,£100 was too severe a penalty to impose on a master of a vessel, who might not receive more than . .£20 per month. Then again, section 19, which relates to accommodation on wharfs, concludes with the words, “ Penalty : Twenty pounds.” There is no alternative penalty imposed under that section.
– Under the Acts Interpretation Acts the penalty provided in a footnote to a section is the maximum penalty.
– I was unaware of that. I would remind honorable members that the object of this Bill is not to raise revenue, but to keep out prohibited immigrants. Our desire in passing it is to see that the provisions of the principal Act are not evaded, and that being so, I fail to see why any objection should be taken to the penalty for which this clause provides.
– I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that our object in fixing thispenalty is that it shall act as a deterrent, rather than serve as a new source of revenueto the Commonwealth. I do not agree with the honorable member for Parkes that this is hysterical legislation.
– I did not say that it was. I simply urged that we should guard against any suspicion of its being. 0 hysterical.
– We are dealing now with an evil that we have already endeavoured to check, and our experienceproves that it is absolutely necessary that a heavy penalty should be imposed. Thehonorable member for Parkes has pleaded for the masters of vessels.
– For the innocent master.
– No one knowsbetter than does the honorable member that some masters are underpaid, and that all have a very strong claim upon, the ownersof their vessels to reimburse them for any loss sustained whilst carrying on their business. On all sides the condition of affairs, at present prevailing, in regard to the introduction of prohibited immigrants as stowaways, is strongly condemned. Thosewho have been most vehement in denying, that we have any leakage, are now calling, upon Parliament to put an end to it. I invite honorable members to read a subleader, published in yesterday’s issue of the Argus, in which it is urged in the strongest possible language that we should take stepsto put an end to this traffic. The writer does not agree with the method of dealing with it which the Government propose, but he does not suggest any alternative that would be effective or acceptable to Parliament. To my mind, the penalty of £100 is both too much and too little. In one case it might be excessive, and in another altogether inadequate. I therefore favour the suggestion made by the honorable member for Angas, and feel confident that if he moved that the minimum penalty shall be £50, and the maximum penalty £i$o, he would receive the support of the Committee. Such a provision would considerably strengthen the hands of those whoare endeavouring to make the principal Act effective.
– Why make the minimum so high - a master might be perfectly: innocent.
– I am satisfied that no bench of magistrates would convict a perfectly innocent man. Cases arising under this measure will be heard by magistrates not in a village or a hamlet, but in the principal maritime cities of Australia, and I am sure that they will carry out the law they have to administer. In the article to which I referred, it is stated that the Customs officers are negligent; but, in my opinion, there is no justification for that assertion. Our Customs officers exercise all the supervision which the manning of the Department will allow, and I believe that they do their work thoroughly and satisfactorily. As soon as we erect a barrier, as we have very properly done in this case - and I am glad to find the honorable member for Parkes’, even at this late period, agreeing with our action - we stimulate the ingenuity of those’ who wish to pass over it. I think that the party now in office had some justification for urging from time to time that a leakage was taking place, and I certainly consider that the Customs officers are not to blame for it to anything like such an extent as are those who are trading on our shores, and who should obey the law instead of systematically breaking it. as in many cases they are undoubtedly doing.
Mr. SAMPSON (Wimmera) [9.25L- Recent experience, as well as the information that has been supplied during this debate, show that the Bill is a necessary one. We have already passed an Act imposing heavy penalties on the masters and owners of vessels who allow prohibited immigrants to land on our shores; but it has been found that, in order that that Act may be made effective, it is necessary to impose heavy penalties on those who introduce prohibited immigrants as stowaways. It has been suggested, during the discussion of this clause, that the master of a vessel on which these stowaways were found would be called upon to pay the penalty for which it provides, and that it is too severe. I therefore propose to move that certain words appearing in the principal Act shall be added. Under that Act, the master, owners, agents, and charterers of any vessel are liable to the penalties imposed. I propose to move -
That after the word “ master,” paragraph gA, >the words “owners, agents, and charterers” be inserted.
.- That amendment would be worthy of support. As it stands the clause applies only to masters, and although at first sight it would appear that they alone should be liable, since they have the best means of ascertaining what goes into their vessels, I agree with the contention that probably a master would be unable to pay a fine of £100 for each stowaway discovered on his vessel, especially if it carried as many as were recently found on a steamer arriving in a Commonwealth port. That being so, I think it would be wise to extend the liability in the way proposed by the honorable member for Wimmera. If we spread the liability over the master, owners, agents,’ and charterers, we may rest assured that still greater precautions will be taken, to prevent- the introduction of prohibited immigrants as stowaways. If there is an innocent case, a fine of £25 would be quite sufficient, or, at any rate, there should be some discretion as between £25 and, say, £150. ‘
– What is an “ innocent case ‘ ‘ ?
– That is for the Court to determine; and those who are liable will have to prove their innocence. It is not probable, however, that defendants will very often be able to bring forward proof of’ the kind. One or two stowaways may avoid the vigilance of captain and officers, and the first person to discover them will be the Customs officer; in such a case, there ought to be a minimum penalty. Of course, where twenty or thirty stowaways are found, it would be absurd for a captain to assert that he had no reason to suspect their presence. I heartily support the amendment.
– I understand that the honorable member for Wimmera desires to submit a proposal, and I ask leave to temporarily withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Sampson) agreed to-
That after the word “ master,” new section 9* (1), the words “owners, agents, and charterers,” be inserted.
– From my reading of the principal Act, I think that a further amendment is rendered necessary by that just agreed to. It should be provided, as in the original Act, that the owners, agents, and charterers shall be “ jointly and severally “ liable. -
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- AttorneyGeneral [9.35]. - I point out that this is a criminal offence, while the words “ jointly and severally “ properly refer to civil process, and, therefore, would be out of place in this clause.
– I move -
That after the words “ penalty of,” new section 9A (1), the words “ not less than Fifty nor more than” be inserted.
It will be a mistake to give unlimited liberty to’ magistrates, who are in a position of great responsibility. If a stowaway is found on board, the captain, whether innocent or not, must be fined ; and, under the circumstances, when there is something approaching proof of innocence, there should be a lower penalty. As to a minimum of £50 not being high enough, I point out that under the States Immigration Acts the poll tax was only £10. It is true that in New South Wales the poll tax was .£100, but I do not think that it was as efficacious as the poll tax in the other States.
– I do not ‘ quite understand the answer of the Attorney-General to the honorable member for Adelaide. Unless the words “ jointly and severally “ are inserted, the clause will mean that the master, owners, agents, and charterers are’ liable to pay the one penalty amongst them, though I take it that the intention is that each of them shall be liable to punishment.
– The intention, I think, is that’ the master, or owner, or agent, or charterer shall be liable, but not the whole of them.
– That may be the reading of the original Act, but I must confess that the meaning is a little obscure, and I do not know that it has yet been tested. Whatever may be the meaning of the section in the original Act, the intention now is the same ; and why not make the law uniform ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that each should be liable for whatever penalty there is?
– I take it that the desire is to have the same penalty for bringing stowaways into port as there is for allowing them to land ; and, if so, we ought to adopt the same language. As the clause stands now, I doubt whether a conviction could be obtained against any one of the parties named, without bringing all into Court, whereas the intention is that the authorities shall be at liberty to sue them either jointly or severally ; therefore, I think that the suggestion_of the honorable member for Adelaide is perfectly correct.
– In order to allow the honorable member for Wimmera to move a further amendment, I beg to withdraw the amendment now before the Chair.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Sampson) agreed to -
That before the word “ liable,” new section. 9A (1), the words “ jointly and severally “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) negatived -
That after the words “ penalty of,” new section 9A (i), the words “not less than Fifty nor more than” be inserted.
– I am of opinion that the Minister will be well advised to accept an amendment in the last line of the second section which it is proposed to insert. Every stowaway is to be deemed a prohibited immigrant unless it is proved that he has passed the dictation test, or that an officer has permitted him to land without restriction.
The word “ permitted “ has a meaning similar to that of the word “ allowed,” and it could be reasonably argued, if a stowaway gets ashore, that an officer had “ permitted him to land.” One man can permit another to do a thing by not being able to prevent him from doing it, or by. neglecting to. prevent him. Stowaways who had escaped the vigilance of the Customs officers might claim that the officers had permitted them to land, because they had neglected to prevent them from landing. The master of a vessel having on board a stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant is to’ be liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty of £100, and, in addition, under the principal Act to a penalty of if he allows that prohibited immigrant to land ; but under the wording to which I am taking exception it might be argued that the stowaway was not a. prohibited immigrant, because the Customs officers bad “ permitted him to land “ by not preventing him from doing so. The meaning attached by Courts to particular phrases is often very different from the ordinary acceptation of their significance, and we are sometimes astounded at the construction placed on words by the legal mind. T am of opinion that instead of the phrase “ has permitted him to land,” we should say “has given him permission to land,” and therefore I move -
That the words, “ permitted him,” new section OA (2), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “given him permission.”
.- In my opinion, it would be better to leave the word “permitted,” which, must be taken to mean a conscious act on the part of an officer, and not merely neglect to prevent. If the honorable member’s interpretation were accepted, one might say that a truant is a boy who is permitted to be absent from school because the master has neglected, or failed, to compel his attendance. An objection I take to the provision is that it does not require an officer to administer the dictation test. Every stowaway is to be deemed a prohibited immigrant unless it is proved that he has passed the dictation test, and it lies with the master of the vessel to show that he has done so; but there is no obligation on an officer to administer it.
– Its administration is not necessary in these cases.
– Then we assume that a man is a prohibited immigrant because he is, a stowaway.
– Is not the fact that he is a stowaway prima facie evidence that he is a prohibited immigrant?
– It seems to me that we are pretending that a man is a prohibited immigrant when he is not. Would it not be more straightforward to say that all stowaways shall be deemed to bo prohibited immigrants?
– The object of the Bill is to throw on the master all the responsibility for stowaways.
– Then we should say so. It would appear that we cannot be honest in our immigration restriction legislation. Why not say straight out that if a stowaway is brought here and discovered the penalty shall follow ? This only shows how a little departure from political morality is followed by a big one. I should have liked to include the words “or on application to an officer to be tested has not been required, or failed, to pass the education test.” That would be consistent. There is no doubt that the words “ permitted him to land without restriction “ mean that the officer has not administered the test-
– We must continue to leave the Act so wide that in administration persons may be admitted without the test.
– No officer would permit a stowaway to land who was a double offender, first bv being a stowaway and second by being a prohibited immigrant. I really do not know, what the provision does mean.
– The object is to exempt persons who stow away, but who are of European race.
– The ambiguity that the honorable member for Adelaide observes in the clause is perhaps accentuated by the fact that, whereas in this case “ permitted “ means that the officer has given the person permission -to land, the words “ does not permit to land “ in new section 9D mean that the master”” has not prevented him from landing.” But if the definition of a stowaway given in new section 9D is read into this clause the ambiguity seems to disappear, because “ stowaway “ is defined to mean a person of whose presence on board the vessel the master has not given notice to an officer, or whom the master has not allowed to land. A stowaway therefore is a person who in the very nature of things is still on the vessel. I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Angas that it would be better to include in this clause the words “ or on application to an officer to be tested has not been required or has not failed to pass the dictation test.” If that amendment is made, the last line - “or that an officer has permitted him to land without restriction “ - is surplusage. If the word “ permitted “ is made clearer in the way suggested, the whole case will be met, although I venture to say that the wording is clear enough as it stands, and would be given the required interpretation bv the Courts.
– I am prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Adelaide. I would point out to the honorable member for Angas that these exceptions are intended to apply to two classes of persons. If a man. is allowed to l.’an.cl without restriction he is franked, while a man who has passed the dictation test is not a prohibited immigrant even if he is a stowaway. The clause applies only to a man who is both a prohibited immigrant and a stowaway, who has failed to pass the dictation test or has not been permitted to land.
– I merely put forward the amendment I indicated as a suggestion. If there is any doubt about the efficacy of the words used I pre- fei to leave them as the draftsman put them, because he has thought the matter out. What seems to have been in the mind of the draftsman, who, perhaps, is right, is that there is no power to send away this man, who is presumed to be a prohibited immigrant. Under the principal Act, the master and the shippers have to take a prohibited immigrant back, but in this case the stowaway is only technically a prohibited immigrant, assumed to be so only for the purposes of this measure, unless the test is applied, and hence there is no power to send him away.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I should like to call the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the use of the phrase “ dictation test.” That is not a sufficient description of the provision in the principal Act to meet the conditions of a penal Act. In Minahan’s case - that of a Chinese boy born in Victoria, who went to China at the” age of five, and came back about twentyfive years afterwards - an appeal went from a Victorian Court to the High Court, with the result that the defendant was allowed to stay. The grounds of the decision were, first, .that the word “immigration” in the Constitution had a very limited meaning; and, secondly, that the dictation test, as we colloquially call it. had not been properly applied. The officer read over fifty words of English to Minahan, and asked : “Do you understand that?” The other said “ No.” The officer then said : “ Then if I read it out to you, you cannot write it”; and defendant said, “No.” The Court held that as the Act was a penal Act that did not sufficiently meet the section providing for the dictation test. Consequently, with a certain amount of doubt on the part of only one of the five Judges, it was decided that defendant was not a prohibited immigrant, because the test had not been applied. Paragraph a of section 3 of the principal Act provides that the person has to write out the matter at dictation, and sign it in the presence of the officer. Consequently, the phrase “ dictation test” will not sufficiently meet what is intended. This looseness of phrasing does not appear in the original Act, because there the person is always asked to comply with “the requirements of paragraph a of section 3.” I shall be glad if the Attorney-General will look into that point, and make any amendment necessary at a later stage.
.- I wish to move -
That the following new section be inserted : - “ qcc Whoever by wilfully and falsely giving information to any Commonwealth officer, alleging the presence of a stowaway or stowaways on any vessel, is the cause of the said vessel being unnecessarily detained in port is guilty of, an offence against this Act.
Penalty : One hundred pounds or six months’ imprisonment.”
The object of the amendment is to assist the authorities to administer this measure. I understand that at present hundreds of informations as to the presence of stowaways on vessels are lodged with the Customs authorities, but that the vast majority are entirely disregarded. It is perhaps because those informations have been disregarded in this wholesale way that the alleged system of regularly shipping stowaways has sprung into existence. My amendment, if carried, would enable the Customs authorities to accept, with greater assurance than they can at present, information lodged with them. The Minister has now to exercise his own discretion as to what information is truthful, and what is merely inspired bv malice. I take it that that is a statement of fact. If we had in power an Administration that desired to permit stowaways to land with impunity on trie Australian coast - and I could hardly conceive of such a possibility - all that they would have to do under the law as it stands would be to disregard all the information placed before them.
– Would the honorable member’s amendment make them take action?
– No; but it would be an additional guarantee that information lodged with the Department was bond fide, and ought to be acted on.
– We should have to inquire first of all as to the bona fides of the information.
– If we provide for a heavy penalty being imposed on those who knowingly lodge false information, we may be sure that all information supplied to the Department will be well “rounded, or given bona fide.
– If the honorable member’s proposal were applied to a criminal process, and the police had to act on every information, what would be the result?
– I. take it that no knowingly false information would be lodged if it were a penal offence to do so.
– The honorable member’s proposal would lead to our obtaining no information. No one would care to give information unless he was absolutely certain that it was correct, and one could not be sure on the point unless one had been on board a vessel and seen stowaways there.
– The honorable member is not such a careful student of language as I thought he was. My amendment would apply only to those who “wilfully and falsely “ gave information. The information must not only be false, but wilfully false.
– How could a man give information unless he gave it wilfully ?
– Then let us say that “ whoever wilfully gives false information.” I am quite willing to amend my amendment to read in this way.
Mr.Roberts. - The Ministry naturally object to the spreading of any false information.
– The further I look into this matter, the moreI am satisfied that Ministers do not care whether or not a Bill introduced by them is turned into an engine of black-mail.
– What is the use of setting up a bogy?
– There are two classes of persons who might - I do not say that they would - endeavour to use the clause, as it stands, for a wrong purpose. It may, perchance, be that a rival shipping company, wishing to detain a certain vessel in port, lodges an information with the local Customs authorities, that a certain number of gentlemen from China are stowed away in its hold. The whole of the merchandise on board has to be taken out; perhaps a day or two is wasted, and no stowaways are found; but the rival shipping company is immensely benefited by the failure of that vessel to depart according to scheduled time.
– I am surprised at these allegations against the integrity of shipping companies.
– My allegations as to the frailty of human nature apply even to my honorable friends opposite, so why not to shipping companies?
-Under the principal Act, an officer may detain any ship, but what the honorable member suggests has not happened under that provision.
– What has happened is a very strong reason for endeavouring to make sure that none but bonâ fide information is supplied to the Department. In the circumstances, seeing that the Depa rtment has been afraid to act on all its information, surely it is our duty to try to purify the sources of the Department’s information.
– It would be most dangerous to insert such a provision as the honorable member suggests. We might as well drop the Bill.
– Will the Minister explain why he holds that view?
– I am sure that the honorable member for Wentworth really desires to prevent the possibility of a ship being detained in port on a frivolous charge. But whilst it is perfectly true that a good many yarns are circulated as to the presence of stowaways on board vessels, there are certain quarters from which we obtain information that can generally be relied upon as being absolutely accurate. If we were to insert this amendment, the chances are that we should close up all those avenues.
– To what sort of avenues does the honorable member refer ?
-Avenues from which we obtain information as to the probability of stowaways being on board a vessel are necessarily more or less subterraneous, and we might as well drop the Bill as insert the amendment. If we agreed to it, no one would be prepared to give us information. We have frequently held up vessels, and in every case the masters have given us every assistance. Never has there been a suggestion that in any one of those cases the vessel should not have been detained. The honorable member is proposing to meet a difficulty that does not, and is not likely to exist.
– It has not existed because the Department has not acted on the information supplied.
– We act only on information obtained from reliable sources.
– My amendment would not touch reliable sources.
– It certainly would. Information may pass through several channels before reaching the Customs authorities. Those who pass it on to us are unable to say whether or not it is accurate, and the honorable member’s amendment, if carried, would, therefore, close up all such avenues. In attempting to meet a possible, but highly improbable, danger, he would create another difficulty, and I am confident that his amendment would make the Bill absolutely ineffective.
.- So far as I understand the Minister, he tells us that the persons who would be most afraid of appearing before a magistrate on a charge of wilfully giving false information are the persons who invariably give reliable information to the Department.
– I said nothing of the kind; the honorable member is misquoting me.
– I hope the Minister will not be quite so heated and unfair, and I point out to him that he will be able to see the report of his remarks in Hansard. The Minister’s position, in short, is that reliable persons will be afraid of being charged with wilfully giving false information.
– Such a thing is inconceivable.
– It is not a question of reliable information, but of whether the source is reliable.
– If a person gives false information bonâ fide, my proposal will not touch him ; it is only when he wilfully and consciously gives false information that he becomes punishable. The penalties, which may strike honorable members as harsh, are, it must be remembered, only the maximum, according to the Acts Interpretation Act.
– Can the honorable member give one instance where there has been false information given?
– There has never been any complaint about the holding up of a vessel.
– We have the serious statement by the Minister himself that he cannot rely on a great many of the informants who come before him.
– What prompted the honorable member to submit the amendment ?
– A study of the Bill.
– Then the honorable member knows of no case of false information ?
– I know of no case ; but I am legislating for the future. If the Minister in the past had acted on all the information given to him, what the honorable member for Adelaide says would carry great weight; but the Ministerhas to dis regard many sources of information because he was afraid they were tainted.
– If the discretion of the Minister has worked well in the past, why not leave things as they are?
– Because the present Minister may not always be in office ; and until some penalty against wilfully false information is provided, I do not see how he can be sure that the information is bonâ fide.
– An informer’s information is always supposed to bewilfully and knowingly false, when it cannot be verified, or it turns out to be unfounded.
– If a person lodging an information were held to be guilty of mala fides until he proves himself to be innocent, I should not press my proposal ; but we know what the procedure is. The prosecution’s counsel has to show such a train of facts as to prove conclusively that false information has been wilfully given.
– The hare will never be caught in that net.
– The hare will never be caught if there is any chance of a man’s guilt being in doubt for a moment. But there will be a pretty severe warning held out to persons who are willing to wilfully perjure themselves for their own or their employers’ benefit.
– Who does the honorable member think is going to give information under such circumstances as he proposes ?
– I think that any person who has information to give bonâ fide will still offer it.
– Why multiply the difficulties in the way of getting information ?
– I do not see that my proposal would multiply difficulties; quite the contrary. If members of the Labour Party, who have always sought to gain advertisement by means of the White Australia policy, are content that the Minister may pick and chooseas to the sources of information, they stand convicted as mere poseurs. I seem to be under the disadvantage of arguing with a Minister who has made up his mind ; and, under the circumstances, I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed]. The Committee are entitled to know whether the Minister proposes to provide any safeguard against black-mailing manoeuvres on the part of men of straw.
– Who is to be subject to black-mail ?
– The shipping companies and, indirectly, the Commonwealth through the risk it ruins of its officers’ time being wasted. I propose no limit of the vast powers which are already incorporated in paragraph1., clause 9c, under which Commonwealth officers may detain for a reasonable time any vessel they suspect of containing stowaways. That is a very proper power to take, but I object to the Commonwealth authorities being moved, on the information of persons knowing that what they allege is false, to prevent vessels on which there are no stowaways from leaving port. If Ministers have an amendment which will meet the case, no one will be better satisfied than I shall be. But I am aware that the numbers are against me, and if the Labour Party prefers that the Government shall be saddled with the responsibility of encouraging blackmail, I cannot do more than indignantly protest. I deeply regret that Ministers should view with antipathy a proposition designed to strengthen the Bill. When speaking on the second reading, I stated that I considered the measure to be necessary, and I have not moved to amend it. What I propose now is merely the addition of a safeguard in the interests of ship-owners and of the public.
.- I hardly think that persons such as the honorable member for Wentworth referred to would be able to pay a fine of £100, though, no doubt, as they are a timid lot, liability to a penalty might deter them from giving false information. I rose to ask whether the Customs officers who find stowaways obtain rewards of £5 for each discovery.
– Yes. In some cases the reward has been increased to£10.
– If the discovery is due to information from outside sources, is the person supplying that information rewarded ?
– That is a matter which I cannot discuss.
– The Government should encourage persons to supply information, and I think that the Government will do well to act on my suggestion that protective agencies should be established in foreign ports.
.- The Minister should inform the Committee as to the steps taken to obtain the information. He says that there are sources generally known to be reliable, and that information from unreliable sources is disregarded. We are entitled to know what method is pursued in this matter. It must be very faulty, becausethe other day twenty-four mandarins from China were found secreted in the hold of a vessel in Sydney harbor; yet, twenty-seven leaders of labour in this Chamber do not desire to have it criticised ! Does information come to the Department, or is it sought for systematically ?
– The honorable member, if serious, must be aware that, if I were to explain the methods of the Department, the effect would be mischievous.
– The Minister persists in misunderstanding me. I do not ask for the names and addresses of those who lodge information, but whether it is sought for systematically, and paid for, or whether it comes haphazard, those who give it going unrewarded.
– On this subject, I can give the honorable member no infor mation.
– Though the Minister has been but a short time in office, he could obtain information from the officers of his Department, and I regret that he will not give me an answer to a reasonable request.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted, and Bill read a third time.
Consideration of Senate’s Amendments.
– Before leaving the chair I think it my duty to call the attention of the House to two of the amendments proposed to be made in this Bill. They are Nos. 7 and 8. No. 7, beside immaterial things, proposes to add “ steel “ to the items on which bounty may be paid. This word, taken by itself, would involve, not an increase of the total amount of appropriation under the Bill, but a possible alteration of the destination of certain sums’ of money unspecified, though the probable effect of the insertion of the word “steel,” together with the other proposed words, “ Sheet or plate,” amendment No. 6, would be a limitation rather than an extension of the grant. Amendment No. 8 proposes to make the bounties payable not only on pipes of an internal diameter not exceeding 4 inches, but on all up to a diameter of 6 inches. This is an alteration of the destination of a grant, though, probably, of trifling extent, and,I am informed, is intended to bring the proposal into harmony with the Tariff Act. Admittedly, under the ruling of the honorable the President of the Senate, reported on pages 4165-7, of vol.xxxix. of Hansard, of last year, these two amendments are beyond the authority of the Senate. If the House decides to accept them on their merits, its privileges should be guarded by some reference to them in the message to be returned to the Senate after they and the other amendments have been considered.
In Committee -
Clause 11 -
If the Minister finds that the rates of wages, or any of them, are below the standard rates prescribed by any Commonwealth or State Industrial authority, or, in the absence of any such standard applicable to the case, are below the standard rates’ paid in the locality in which the goods are manufactured, the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ manufactured “ insert “ or in the absenceof any such standard rates respectively, are, on application by the Minister to the Presidentof the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared not to be fair and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial authority to whom he may refer the matter.”
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Bill explain the effect of the amendment?
– The original provision was that the wages prescribed by Wages Boardsor Arbitration Courts should apply. There are, however, some States where there are no Wages Boards or local Arbitration Courts, and the amendment simply amplifies the policy of the Bill, so that the average rates of wages of a neighbouring State may apply, in order that there may be, as nearly as possible, uniformity throughout the Commonwealth, if the industry is established in more than one State. The amendment involves no new principle.
.- The clause as it left this Chamber placed the onus upon the Minister, and seemed to give him all the power that could possibly be required. The amendment appears to introduce quite a new principle and perhaps to involve the introduction of the new protection.
– The amendment will improve the clause, because it allows the matter to be referred to an authority outside the Minister.
– I confess to some difficulty in realizing the exact scope of the amendment at such short notice, but it is surely loosely worded. Apparently there are a number of persons to whom the matter can be referred to discover the standard rate of wages.
– The Parliamentary Draftsman states that the amendment is practically on all fours with a provision in the Excise Procedure Act.
– The amendment appears to supply three strings to the bow. It would perhaps make it clearer to insert the word “ alternatively “ after the word “or” the second time occurring. This would make it absolutely certain that the parties interested could not run from one tribunal to the other. I take it that all that is wanted is the right to go to one or the other.
– The Parliamentary Draftsman thinks that the insertion of the word “ alternatively “ will make no difference in the meaning ; but I am quite willing to accept it if the honorable member for Parkes thinks it will make the amendment clearer.
– I hope the Prime Minister will not ac cept any amendment at this stage of the session. I do not want the Bill to be referred back to the Senate again lest anything should happen to prevent its passage.
– In some cases an attempt has been made to get decisions by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and also by a State Arbitration Court. I believe the Shearers’ Union at one time appealed to a State Arbitration Court, afterwards extended its ramifications into other States, and then contended that it was entitled to apply to the Commonwealth Court. My object was to prevent anything of that sort happening under this Bill, but I quite appreciate the fact that we should avoid if possible making any amendments that will necessitate the Bill being referred back again to the Senate at this stage of the session. I am therefore willing not to press the suggestion if no other amendments are made.
– I am grateful to the honorable member for Hume for his recently-born anxiety to place this measure on the statute-book. I can remember that only a few months ago the honorable member showed his anxiety to pass this Bill into law by introducing it in the last hour of the dying session, and then, when even the schedule had passed and another twelve minutes would probably have sufficed to finish the work, throwing it under the table rather than risk a decision in another place. I am deeply gratified at the newfound zeal of the honorable member. I trust that the Committee will act upon it, and return the Bill, as far as possible, without amendment.
– After consulting the Parliamentary Draftsman, I am clearly of opinion that the amendment I suggested is not required, because this is a power given to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to refer the matter to other authorities, and. I am sure he would not make a reference to more than one Court.
Motion agreed to.
Remaining amendments in clause11 agreed to.
Amendment in clause 14 agreed to.
Senate’ s amendments. - After” Galvanized” insert “ sheet or plate “ ; after “ Iron “ insert “or steel (whether corrugated or not)”; leave out “four,” insert “six.”
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– Is it not intended to take notice of Mr. Speaker’s remarks on this question?
– Mr. Speaker’s remarks simply indicate that if there is any breach of the rights of this House it is so slight that it is sufficient to call attention to it. I shall move later that the Bill be returned with a message indicating what Mr. Speaker has said regarding the rights of the House.
.- If we merely pass Mr. Speaker’s remarks on to another place and at the same time announce that we concur in the irregularity to which he has felt it incumbent upon him to draw attention, our action will be a doubly strong precedent for similar conduct by the Senate in the future. If we desire to intimate that it must not be taken as a precedent, we shall have to adopt some other procedure.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
. -In accordance with what you have said, Mr. Speaker, as to safeguarding the rights of this House, I beg to move -
That whilst of opinion that amendments Nos. 7 and 8 made by the Senate strictly are in excess of the powers of the Senate as declared by the President of the Senate on the 3rd October, 1907, yet, in view of the insignificant nature of the excess, the House agree to those amendments on condition that the matter is not to be drawn into a precedent.
– I understand that the sole reason assigned in the proposed message is the slight excess.
– The slight excess of their powers in the one case and the slight narrowing of them in the other.
– Is it not desirable also to make some reference to the stage of the session at which we have been called upon to deal with the amendments?
– Mr. Speaker thought that the message I have proposed would be sufficient.
– I think that it would be much stronger if we made the addition I have suggested. We cannot be too careful in conserving our own powers, and I am not quite sure that if we had more time at our disposal more notice would not be taken of the action of another place. In the circumstances, perhaps it would be well to mention in the message the stage of the session at which we have been asked to deal with this matter as an additional justification for our action in surrendering our rights in regard to Money Bills.
.- I have no desire that there should be any, difficulty between the two Houses at the present moment; but I certainly agree with the leader of the Opposition that had this matter come before us a little earlier in the session a more emphatic protest than is suggested might have been made. I regret that we have not more time to consider the very important statement that you, Mr. Speaker, have made to us. If we are .to protest at all against what appears to be a gradual dribbling away of some of the privileges which this Chamber ought to hold most dear, I think that language may be employed that is less calculated to give offence to another place than is that suggested. As we intend apparently to make a protest against the action of the Senate - a protest not, in the main, of a very forcible character - it seems to me that we should avoid the use of language calculated to give unnecessary offence. I therefore suggest that the word “ insignificant “ be struck out. Its use is likely to make members of another place believe that in our opinion the amendments they have proposed, after careful consideration, are not all that they might be. I have no doubt that Mr. Speaker has considered the matter ; but whilst I pay the greatest respect to his opinions, I have opinions of my own, and I am sure that the Prime Minister will not object to my giving expression to them. In the utmost good faith, therefore, I suggest that our protest would be equally effective and less calculated to give offence if the word “ insignificant “ were left out.
.- I regret that we should be called upon to deal with this question in what are practically the closing hours of the session. On a number of occasions another place has made amendments calculated to strengthen its position in regard to money Bills, and to lessen those which we possess. We have been content, however, to make what is really an idle protest. Whilst I do not wish to hamper the passing of this Bill, I certainly think that the time is not far distant when we shall have to take up a strong stand against the action of the Senate in interfering with such measures.
– Is any serious harm done in this case ?
– I am not referring specially to what has been done in this case; but we have to remember that a usurpation of power is generally gradual, and that in that way dangerous precedents are set up.
– It is well always to remember that two Houses can play at the assertion of power.
– There must come a time when either one House or the other must assert its rights. If the Senate possesses this right, then the sooner the country knows it the better. It does not represent the people as this House does, and it is just as well that we should know which Chamber has the power of the purse. New South Wales, with a population of about 1,500,000, has in the Senate the same representation as has Tasmania with a population of less than 200,000, and I’ do not think that the first-named State considers that it is properly represented there.
– Is this an. opportune time to strike matches?
– Perhaps it is not. I am simply pointing out that cases of this kind have occurred again and again just at the close of a session when every honorable member is anxious to get away. The sooner we make some protest against this constant encroachment upon our powers by the Senate the better for the Commonwealth.
.- I admire the energy that the honorable member for Kennedy displays on behalf of the privileges of this House and of the constitutional position that it occupies as the guardian of the public purse. But on this occasion we are faced with two duties. It is held by a large majority of the members of this Parliament that in the interests of the people the Bill now before us should be passed this session. Consequently at this stage of the session I anr forced to the conclusion that we must pay more regard to the interests of the people in the immediate passing of this measure than to a desire to vindicate our constitutional rights, more especially when those rights, after all, have been infringed to only a very small extent. I therefore hope that nothing will be done to bring about a conflict between the two Houses with regard to this measure.
– In answer to the honorable member for Adelaide I would point out that the word “ insignificant “ refers to the excess, and not to the amendment actually made, so that it does not reflect on the action of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to express the hope that honorable members will assemble to-morrow prepared to deal with a large volume of business in a very short time.
– Is it necessary to meet at the usual hour to-morrow in view of the small amount of business remaining to be dealt with?
– We expect to receive some business from the Senate, and if we have to wait it will be open to Mr.
Speaker to suspend the sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081210_reps_3_48/>.