3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The Age, in its report this morning, states that the right honorable member for East Sydney said last night that -
When the Surplus Revenue Bill was introduced by Sir William Lyne not a word was said about putting any of the money away for old-age pensions, so that it was evident that at that time not one penny was intended for that purpose. Sir William Lync would, no doubt, have been only too pleased to have so mentioned it if it had occurred to him.
That statement is absolutely incorrect. Prior to the passing of the Surplus Revenue Bill, I had mentioned my intentions, in reply to a statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and, on the 10th June of last year, I was successful in securing the second reading of the Surplus Revenue Bill and the Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill, of which the latter contained this provision -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly for the purpose of the Trust Account established under the Audit Acts 1901-1906, and known as the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Fund, the sum of Seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds for invalid and oldage pensions.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney referred to an earlier speech.
– I referred to the speech of the 31st March - the second-reading speech.
– I did not specially mention the matter on the 31st March, but I stated, in reply to something said by the honorable member- for Wide Bay, that I intended to provide for oldage pensions. He raised a question as to the amount of money which would be required.
– I do not like to interrupt statements such as the honorable member is making, because I think that every honorable member should have .the fullest opportunity to explain matters in regard to which he may deem himself misrepresented. I would point out, however, that the remarks of the right honorable member for East Sydney were made yesterday during the debate on the second reading of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bui, and the honorable member for Hume, when speaking, in that debate, will have a fuller opportunity to explain his previous conduct than he has under cover of a personal explanation.
– I refer to the matter by way of personal explanation, because of - the statement published in the press, which I wish to absolutely refute. I desire the public to know that, at the time of the introduction of the Surplus Revenue Bill, and, previously, it was my intention to provide for old-age pensions. My late colleagues know that that is so. I stated that intention in reply to some remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay ; and the second readings of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill and the Surplus Revenue Bill were both agreed to on my motion on the 10th June of last year.
.- The statement which I made yesterday is absolutely correct. Before making it, I took the precaution to read again the speech made by the honorable member for Hume in moving the second reading of the Surplus Revenue Bill. I made a precisely similar statement in the debate on the second reading of that Bill, but, although it was made in the presence of the honorable gentleman, it was not contradicted. Last night I repeated what I had said at length on that occasion. My words are to be read in Hansard. The statement was absolutely correct.
– I am precluded from replying to the honorable member, but I deny that his statement was correct
__ I wish to direct attention to a report -in this morning’s Age, which misrepresents a return laid on the table yesterday. The newspaper states that -
Many months ago three members of the Commission - Mr. Hume Cook and Mr. C. C. Salmon, Ms. P., and Senator Mulcahy - handed in their reports, and closed the business as far as they were concerned.
That is not correct. There has not been a report.
– The honorable member is wrong. There was a report
– I say that there was not. The memorandum drawn up by. the honorable member for Bourke was not agreed to by Senator Mulcahy, so that the statement of the Age is absolutely incorrect. When a newspaper deals with a return which has been laid on the table, it should place the contents fairly before the public; it is not just to publish only so much as suits its policy, thereby placing certain honorable members in a false position. The Age has published the names of the members of the Postal Commission, and the amounts that they have received in expenses, but it has not published’ the record of their attendances, so that the electors could see who have .ind who have not attended to their duties. The Age report is absolutely unfair. A return of this kind, if made public at all, should be dealt with truthfully.
– In reply .to the honorable member for Gwydir, I desire to say that, on resigning from the Postal Commission, I handed a report to the Governor-General. Perhaps the head of the late Government can say what was done with it.
– Was that report agreed to by Senator Mulcahy ?
– I do not know anything about that.
– I wish to mate a personal explanation in reference to a portion of the speech which I delivered in this Chamber on Thursday last, 15th inst. The honorable member for Dalley made some reference to it yesterday, and I wish to put myself right, not only with him, but with honorable members generally. I will take the liberty of reading a portion of the Sydney Morning Herald of the 13th inst - last Tuesday week - page 10, whence I got my information. It reads -
On Guard - Advice to Orangemen - Federal Minister’s Offer. - Inverell, Sunday. - The Inverell Orange Lodge celebrated the anniversary of the 1 2th of July by a demonstration in the Town Hall yesterday. An address was delivered by the Rev. D. H. Dillon. He said that Orangemen were charged with stirring up strife, but in the course of all his addresses he never said a word against individual Roman Catholics. The men who stirred up strife were Cardinal Moran and Archbishop Redwood. In one sermon they stirred up more strife than all the Orangemen put together. He believed a serious crisis was approaching in the Commonwealth. The Church was working hard in a quiet way.
– Does the honorable member think it necessary to read so much?
– I should like to read it to make the context clear.
– The honorable meml.ipr may proceed, so long as he introduces no now matter. That is what I am anxious to prevent.
– It is all relevant. It continues -
Australia would wake up shortly and discover it. Unless they were very careful the next Federal election would be disastrous to Australia.
That is the part which connects it, because it makes a clear reference to the Federal elections -
Prominent Roman Catholic members were being asked not to stand, and weak-kneed Protestants would be put up, who would get the Roman Catholic vote. From men of this character more danger was to be apprehended than from straight-out Roman Catholics. The Church was making a tremendous bid for this fair land. Orangemen must stand shoulder to shoulder. At the next Federal elections an attempt would be made to oust five members who belonged to their order. Money had already been subscribed with that end in view. They should remember the past, and be true to their convictions, as he believed that before many years the Church would have tremendous power. He had been offered by a member of the Federal Ministry the whole of his expenses if he would go through the whole of the New South Wales Federal electorates and deliver addresses.
The mention of the Federal electorates points clearly to the fact that the tour was intended to be an electioneering tour. Next came the reverend gentleman’s correction, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of last Friday, 16th inst.. as follows : -
The Rev. J. Dillon, referring to his speech at Inverell on the occasion of the 12th oF July celebration, states that it was not a member of the Federal Ministry, but a member of the Federal Parliament, who offered him expenses to tour the New South Wales Federal electorates and deliver addresses.
There is the following reference to the same matter in this morning’s Age -
In the attack on the Orange Institution, made by Mr. Bamford in the House of Representatives last week, he repeated a statement which was represented to have been made by the Rev. J. Dillon, Anglican clergyman,1 at ‘inverell, that he (Mr. Dillon) had been asked by a’ member of the present Cabinet to travel through New South Wales for the purpose of delivering political addresses. Mr. Wilks intimated in the House of Representatives yesterday that he had received a letter in which Mr. Dillon denied the accuracy of the report, adding that, as a matter of fact, he was not acquainted with any member of the present Ministry. Mr. Dillon went on to explain that about eighteen months ago lie delivered an address on Home Rule, and a member of the Federal Parliament-
– I have allowed the honorable member to proceed in order to ascertain in what direction his remarks were tending, but I cannot see yet that he has suggested any misrepresentation which he desires to clear up.
– I am coming to that. [ will omit some, and read the conclusion of the paragraph -
The statement made by Mr. Bamford was published in a Sydney newspaper, which, however, on the following day published a denial of the story, and it appears this denial appeared before the honorable member for Herbert repeated the story during his speech in the House of Representatives.
That is what the dirty Agc does in these cases. It actually misrepresents the position, and tries to convey the impression that I repeated what it calls a story in this House, after having previously seen the denial of it. I have been carefully through the files of the Sydney .Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. I could find nothing in the Telegraph, but in the Herald I found that on the 16th the correction made by Mr. Dillon appeared. That was really the day after I made my speech here. That is the misrepresentation to which I take exception in this case. So far as the imputation is concerned, I accept Mr. Dillon’s denial as regards a member nf the Federal Ministry, and the rest I leave to himself, the reporter of the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Herald Editorial staff.
Torpedo Boat Destroyer - Small Arms Factory - Horsing >of Australian Artillery
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has yet accepted an offer or tender from the New South Wales or Victari an Government to put together the parts of the third torpedo boat destroyer that were to be imported ?
-I wish, to ask the Minister of Defence whether he intends to accept either of the tenders that have been received, and if so, seeing that it will be necessary to acquire new machinery, when he intends to take action?
– Action will be taken at the earliest possible date, but at the moment I am quite unable to say when. The matter will not be delayed longer than is possible, and the fair claims of every State will be considered in fixing upon the most advantageous site for carrying out the work.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, in. view of the motion of which I gave notice earlier, and the imminence of the Government action regarding the small-arms factory, he will give an opportunity to the House to discuss that motion as soon as possible after the passage of the Old-age Pensions Bill now before the Chamber?
– I cannot undertake to do that, but will consider if an opportunity can be found in some brief fashion - and in that invite the honorable member’s assistance - to obtain the sense of the House on the question.
– I do not know whether any question was asked yesterday on the subject, and 1 saw nothing in the press to indicate that any had been asked, but when I was in Launceston, I observed a published statement that the Minister of Defence had accepted a tender from an American firm in regard to the small-arms factory at Lithgow. I saw that the difference in price between the American and English tenders was practically nothing. The only difference was that in one case the work was to be done in twelve months, and in the other in two years. I’ desire to ask the Minister of Defence if any query has been sent to the English firm who tendered, as to whether they could do the work in a shorter time. If that has not been done, and no tender has yet been accepted, will he take that step? What is to become of preference to Great Britain if the Government give preference to American work of that kind?
– The tender of an American firm has been accepted. For the rest, I propose now to lay upon the table of the House a full statement of the whole case.
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that the Labour Government had decided to accept a British tender for the equipment of the small-arms and ammunition factory?
– I am aware that they had not.
– I do not wish to be too persistent, but since the Minister of Defence made only a partial reply to my question in reference to the small-arms factory, I desire now to ask whether the English firm in question has been communicated with in order to ascertain whether they are prepared to reduce the time in which they offered to supply the equipment?
– Every effort was made by the present Government, and also 5y their predecessors to place the tender with a British firm. The papers will show all the steps that were taken, and the reports that were obtained prior to the decision being arrived at.
– In view of the fact that the contract for the erection of a bridge overthe Hawkesbury River, in New South Wales, was let to a Scottish firm, and sublet to a Dutch firm, will the Minister of Defence take care that in connexion with any tender that is accepted from an American firm for the equipment of a small-arms factory, no subletting shall take place?
– I shall be very glad to take steps in the direction indicated by the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister obtain and have printed the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the question of horsing the Australian Artillery ?
– I am not aware of any objection to the adoption of that course. I shall see if it can be followed.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– The honorable member on Friday last showed me a newspaper in which reference was made to the matter. The question relates really to the Department of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and i promise to draw his attention to it with a view of ascertaining whether the charges made are necessary for the inspection laws of the State, and whether the net . result of any charges collected is paid to the Commonwealth.
– F - Following up the question put by the honorable member for Franklin, I desire to ask the AttorneyGeneral whether there is any law by which a State can be prevented from destroying Inter-State Free Trade, as it now exists, by the exercise of its quarantine powers, to the exclusion of the goods of another State, as has been done by New South Wales in the case of Tasmanian potatoes.
– I can only amplify the reply that I made to the honorable member for Franklin. It is not usual for the AttorneyGeneral to give legal opinions in answer to questions put in the House ; but I may tell the honorable member that if charges imposed in connexion with the inspection laws of the States are not necessary, to that extent there may be a violation of section 92 of the Constitution which prescribes Inter-State Free Trade. I promised the honorable member for Franklin that I should ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to ascertain whether the charges in question were really necessary ; and whether the proceeds are, in accordance with section 112 of the Constitu tion, paid to the Commonwealth. I may add that there is a power of disallowance of them by Act of Parliament.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether, he has yet fixed upon a date for the delivery of his Budget statement?
– I have not; but I hope to deliver the statement before the middle of August.
– I wish to ask” the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the Commonwealth electoral rolls for New South Wales, although recently issued, were collected and revised nearly twelve months ago, and that an election will take place in the near future, he has considered the desirableness of having a further revision made at an early date, more especially as State officials - the police - will be collecting statistics in the course of the next two months.
– Yes ; that will be done before October next.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has? inquired into the deprivation of the northern part of Western Australia of telegraphic communication, for perhaps two or three weeks at a time, to which I called his attention some time ago. The matter is of great importance to a number of people living in isolated districts, and I wish to know whether anything has been done to insure the re-establishment of such communication.
– Since the honorable memberdrew my attention to this matter it has been inquired into and considered, and no doubt he will find, when the Budget is submitted, that proper provision has been made for it as well as for kindred works.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, before the Northern Territory Bill is discussed, there will be made available a copy of the Letters Patent which gave to South Australia the control of the Territory ?
– A copy of the Letters Patent is available, and I may add that not only will there be such maps as wecan- obtain, but a comprehensive memorandum which will include all the information to hand.
Fifth-Class Clerks - Postal Notes Wireless Telegraphy : King and Flinders Islands
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following answers have been furnished by the Com- monwealth Public Service Commissioner, namely : -
ask asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questionsare as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will place on the Estimates for the current financial year an item to provide for communication between King Island, Flin ders Island, and the mainland, by means of wireless telegraphy, for the convenience of the people, and for the safety of shipping?
– I cannot make a promise. The matter will be considered in connexion with the Estimates for the current year.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1.£17,24410s.11d.
February,£78 7s. 2d.
March, £459 12s. 3d.
April,£366 3s. 2d.
June,£36814s. 8d. 3.£19,012 8s. 9d. This amount does not include the sum of , £690, salary of director of fisheries and 5th Class clerk.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– I would refer the honorable member to the reply given on the 2nd June, 1908, to a similar question by the honorable member for Dalley, namely -
There are many points in connexion with this mailer which will require a good deal of consideration before a reply can be given, including an interpretation of section 114 of the Constitution. Any action in one State will probably have to be extended to other States. It raises the question of municipal assessments. The Commonwealth pays for services rendered, such as water supply, sewerage, sanitary arrangements, &c.
This Government concurs in that reply.
Mr. joseph COOK laid upon the table the following paper -
Small Arms Factory - Precis of proceedings in connexion with the tenders for machinery for Small Arms factory. invalid and old-AGE pensions bill.
Debate resumed from 20th July (vide page1358),on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That this Bill be now reada second time.
– I omitted, Mr. Speaker, to present the Audit Act Amendment Bill, according to permission given by the House yesterday ; and I should like to do so at this stage, if that be convenient.
-The honorable member may proceed.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time. telegraphbill.
Bill presented by Sir John Quick, and read a first time. invalid and old-AGE PENSIONS bill.
– The Standing Orders do not provide any period at which a Bill is to be introduced. When the House has assented to the introduction of a measure, at any time thereafter, when opportunity offers, the Minister or member in charge may bring it forward. Just now I called on the honorable member for Melbourne to resume the debate on the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill ; but, as it seemed to me that it would conduce to the convenience of members if, as soon as possible, printed copies of the Bill or Bills it was desired to introduce, were made available for perusal, I permitted the Treasurer to proceed.
– Twenty years ago, during my first electoral campaign, when I advocated old-age pensions, I little thought I should live to see universal franchise distinguish the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, a Conciliation and Arbitration Act distinguish the second Parliament, and an Invalid Old-age Pensions Bill distinguish the third Parliament. In the matter of old-age pensions, as in all other matters, we must be prepared for a great many mistakes and errors. Though I should be the last to formulate any charges, yet I regret that in the Department, red tape too frequently holds sway, and unnecessary trouble is given to those whom I have always maintained have a right to old-age pensions. The regulations, I understand, can be altered and amended by the Ministry of the day, and I have much pleasure in supporting many of the remarks made by the honorable member for Coolgardie last night. In this connexion I do not think I can do better than read a communication, addressed to Mr. Allen, the permanent head of the Department who is charged with the administration of the Act. There was a conference of the representatives of benevolent asylums and similar institutions held in Melbourne last week; and it was from that conference that the following letter was sent to Mr. Allen : -
Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, 13th July, 1909.
To George Thomas Allen, Esq., I.S.O.,
Commissioner of Pensions,
Referring to our recent interview when the views of charitable institutions, and especially those of benevolent asylums, in respect of the Federal Pensions Act were discussed, and ultimately it was arranged that this institution should place its views in writing before you, so that the same may be favorably considered when you advise the Cabinet re the amending of the present Federal Pensions Act.
I now forward to you the points upon which my Committee considers institutions based on the lines of this asylum should receive the amounts payable to pensioners, namely : -
Trusting that the Government will see its way to amend the Act so that inmates ‘of charitable institutions shall receive their pension money in the way suggested herein, as in my Committee’s opinion it will be better for all concerned.
I am, Sir, your faithfully, (Sgd.) Alfred E. Laver,
Superintendent and Secretary.
That letter concisely puts the advantages which would be gained by allowing inmates of asylums to draw pensions. But Parliament must insist that residence in these institutions must be the voluntary act of old-age pensioners. Briefly put, such pensioners would receive 2s. per week for pocket money, no matter what amount might be allowed by the magistrates. They would enjoy two days’ leave a week, have every Sunday and general holidays, and three whole days every three months, with two weeks at Christmas and Easter, during which, I take it, they would draw the whole amount of their pensions. It is impossible for a decrepit man to live on a pension of 10s. per week without the assistance of friends or relatives. In the asylums, pensioners would get regular hot baths, they would hare companions with whom they’ could chat or play games, their meals would be served regularly, their sleeping accommodation would be comfortable, and in every way their lives would be rendered more pleasant. If an old-age pensioner disliked residence in an institution, he could at once leave, and, on doing so, draw the full amount of his pension. Of course, pensioners able to earn a little for themselves would probably prefer to re- main out of institutions. I shall have pleasure in supporting the suggestion of the honorable member for Coolgardie, if it is made certain that pensioners who are in any of the innumerable institutions which stand throughout the length and breadth of Australia as monuments to the charity of our people, are there of their own free will, because of infirmity by reason of illness or accident. Then, in regard to the blind. It is pitiful to see them in the streets, sometimes accompanied by children or other relatives, begging alms. Twenty-seven years ago, I was a bank clerk, and know that blind men, even in Melbourne, have held good banking balances, while I have read that, in some of the larger centres of population, such persons have accumulated comfortable fortunes. I understand that those employed in the Treasurer’s office have to listen daily to the strains of an indifferent musician who plays outside. This community, however, is great enough to provide for such unfortunates, and should take them off the streets. We should pay them pensions under the invalid pension section of the Act. I hope that no magistrate appointed to administer the Act will be permitted to forget, with impunity, his humanity, as many magistrates administering the State Act- have done. It is the desire of Parliament, and of the people, that the aged should be given pensions, not as a charity, but as a right, and no magistrate, stipendiary or honorary, should be permitted to insult such citizens, who are in every way his equal. The naturalization question will be raised in Committee. In my view, all citizens who have been given the franchise - which is the highest right a human being can enjoy in our community - should be permitted to draw pensions when, aged. No Asiatics can now be naturalized, but those who have been living amongst us, and have become naturalized, should .be permitted to enjoy all the rights of citizenship. A letter which I have received from Tumbarumba, in New South Wales, raises this very peculiar point : Is a man, born in Hanover, when that country was under the rule of the British sovereign, a citizen of Great Britain? I am informed that the local magistrate has foolishly declared that the wife of such a man is not entitled to an old-age pension, notwithstanding that section 16, subsection 2, of the Act, says - -
No woman having married one of the persons disqualified by this section shall, in consequence only of such marriage, be or become disqualified to receive a pension.
Let me read the letter itself. It is as follows -
Seeing that you, sir, are an important member of the Federal House, I take the liberty to trespass on your attention. Before the Battle of Waterloo, England held out overtures to officers of the Hanoverian and Prussian army to come over to England. My father went, leaving his two brothers, who were also in the army. Father fought at Waterloo, Martinique, Dominique, Guadaloupe, Barbadoes, Africa, and Canada. He retired at the end of 25 years, got a grant of land in Labrador, went there, but found the climate too severe after being wounded and crippled and weak- through yellow fever, &c. He wanted to go south, but the English Government refused to send his pension into the United States, but he could go to Hanover, where I was born. The House of Commons holds : - That any one born of British born parents will be considered a British subject. Father remained British, until he died, to draw his pension. Britain could claim me to-morrow. I want to make application, together with my wife, who is Irish born, for the old-age pension. My wife, who is bedridden since over three years, is 70 years of age. I am 75. We have abstained until now from applying. Could I not apply without applying to get naturalized? I have already made application to Mr. Allen and other places, and cannot get any answers, to get naturalized. I am referred to Melbourne by our magistrate. Our magistrate also holds that my wife is not entitled to pension through being married to me. Hanover belonged to England at the birth of my father. The two brothers whom father left in the Hanoverian army lost their lives at Quatre Bras under Blucher.
– I think I wrote to the man unofficially.
– If he is under the honorable’ member’s care, he could not be better off. The honorable member for Ballarat will be interested in a letter which I am about to read, though before doing so I wish to draw attention to the infamous manner in which, in this State, aged citizens have been subjected to unnecessary questioning. Their very infirmity makes it difficult for such persons to answer questions. I do not blame either this Administration, or its predecessor, but if these practices are continued, the Government responsible must share the infamy. The honorable member for Bendigo agrees with me that the question list could be simplified. Will the Treasurer rkindly consider what the Victorian Government did ? Never was a pension system administered with such little cost to the community. Up to the time that the applicants appeared before the Court, I have’ no fault whatever to find with the Victorian system, although I disapprove of the manner in which the applicants were treated in the Courts. I asked the Treasurer yesterday -
Is it a fact that under the Victorian Old-age Pensions Acts 1901 and 1903 the veteran citizen applying for the old-age pension would have no questions to fill in, but would only have to sign his or her name in the presence of the required witness?
That is what occurred under the Victorian system. I, or any Victorian member, would say to an applicant : “ Go up to the Court House,” giving him perhaps a card or a letter. The Clerk of the Court would not hand out to the applicant a bundle of papers such as is given to every old person now, but would simply read out the questions, and ask the applicant to sign his name. The Treasurer’s reply to that question was -
Under the Victorian Act the claimant was re-: quired to make and sign a declaration which covered 23 affirmations.
But the applicant did not have to fill in a single question himself. A simple sheet was read out by the Clerk of Courts, the solemn declaration was also read out to. him, and the applicant signed it. That” was all he had to do. The document then went back to the Department, which was under the control of Mr. A. B. Weire. Without imputing anything against the present head of the Commonwealth Department, and giving him credit for ail the brains that he possesses, I am a little sorry for his charity of- heart, and I wish the Commonwealth system, were under the control of Mr. Weire. for I feel sure that he would have, adopted the Victorian system. When the Victorian Department received the document, it sent out another officer, not to ask the old citizen to fill in a lot more questions, but to answer a short series, the officer filling in the answers himself. The second question I put to the Treasurer yes~terday was -
Is it a fact that under the Commonwealth Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 190S the veteran citizen claiming such pension has to fill in six pages of questions numbering 42 inquiries, and also obtain two friends who have known such citizen 25 years to fill in and answer 30 questions each, or a total of 102 questions?
That is what I object to. The average man or woman of 65 years of age can rarely handle a pen very easily. They have often to get somebody to fill in the answers for them before they can sign them. Then they have to run round and get two friends to fill in thirty questions each. In front of those thirty questions appears the following notice - livery claimant is expected to send to the Registrar of Pensions declarations (on separate forms) made by two persons who have known claimant for a period of at least 25 years, but if no such person can be found the declarations may be made by persons of shorter acquaintance.
I have, perhaps, seen more of this old-age pension business than has any other honorable member, because I represent the city of Melbourne, and am fairly well known. Every morning, except one, of my week is occupied in attending to this work, or I have some one in my place to do it. I object to the applicants being required to go round and find two persons who have known them for twenty-five years. It is all very well to tell them that friendship of a shorter duration will do. Their friends may be at Bendigo or Ballarat. I may be met with the argument that these formalities are all in accordance with the Act, but no one knows better than the Treasurer that an acute legal mind could find material for a thousand questions within the four corners of the Act.
– What specific questions does the honorable member object to?
– To begin with, I object to every one of these questions being duplicated in the case of the two friends. One. friend would be sufficient. The Victorian system of asking the applicant the questions and simply requiring him to sign the document when filled in would be quite sufficient. As if all that is not enough-, there are eleven statutory declarations - eleven statutory clauses in the ten-page document which is handed to the old people.
– What are the double-page papers which the honorable member holds in his hand?
– There are thirty questions in each of those, and forty-two in another. The whole thing makes me so angry that I sometimes wish the mother of the man who drew up the questions had to make an application and fill in the answers.
– Why did the Minister sanction them?
– I have already said that I do not desire to point the finger of blame in any particular direction. Perhaps it was because the late Government listened to the representations of the head of the Department, as Ministers too frequently are inclined to do. The honorable member will agree that many of the
Stares have in the past been ruled by the heads of Departments when they have had weak-kneed Ministers to deal with. I stamp these questions as an infamy, and the odium of that infamy will rest upon any one who continues them.
– The worst sin of the late Government was that they listened teo much to the heads of Departments.
– I think that that happened in this case.
– They said the questions were made necessary by the provisions of the Act.
– That was the yarn of some legal mind in the Department. I believe that the men who crucified Christ thought that they were doing their duty and that if they had been asked to use screws instead of nails they would have done so.
– Why not make the pensions universal ?
– If the honorable member will move that, I will gladly vote for it. The Treasurer’s answer to my second question yesterday was -
Yes, but the questions are very simple.
Perhaps they are to him, but they may not be to an old person who can hardly read or write. I then asked the Treasurer -
Will the Minister have such questions reviewed in order to help Australian citizens claiming their right of pension? and his reply was -
It is considered that no unnecessary questions have been asked. The questions are less difficult to reply to than those which for years have been asked in New South Wales and New Zealand. The value of the questions has already been proved by the discovery of unqualified claimants.
I hope the Minister will give the matter consideration. I’ am glad to know that the honorable member for Bendigo is quite in accord with- certain of my views on this matter, and I am sure the honorable member for Ballarat will be interested in the letter which I propose to read from one of the few survivors of that band of heroes who made the word “ Eureka “ ring through the length and breadth of Australia. My correspondent is known as “ Eureka Jim.” It was the honorable member for Darling who spoke yesterday about miners or shearers being known only by their first names. In the same way a man might know “ Eureka Jim “ for halfacentury and yet not be able to fill in his real name. He says -
Hon. Sir, I would respectfully ask of the honorable members of. the Federal Houses of Commonwealth, is a man or woman who fulfils the bill as regards age, length of residence in Australia, British or Australian born,, having little or no property or other means, after a long life of toil, in applying for a pension to be classed as a pauper.
There is nothing in the Act that will call a man a pauper, and if any magistrate permits it his action is contemptible. Some, of the magistrates in Victoria did stigmatize applicants in that way - and treated as such, or can we claim the pension as a right?
Would any honorable member say that, (he conditions being fulfilled, ‘ the pension is not a right according to law?
Allow me to illustrate my meaning by a few quotations from the mass of papers given to the old folks upon application at the start.
There is a mass of papers, because every person ‘who goes to the post-office is -handed six of them -
Shunting aside the possessions re property, we take up the identification card. The funny man finds scope for his funniments in his particular department, culminating in another version of the old wheeze of the wise children who know their own father. Thusly - state your father’s and mother’s maiden name. What a question to put to a number of toddling humanity on the brink of the grave !
I see nothing about the father’s or the mother’s maiden name in the Act -
Its irrelevancy is puerile. Take the application paper - state if you are in any way connected with a cook shop in the shape of a boarding-house at any time during the last twelve months. Do your kids feed you - do your kids half-feed you - have you had a full feed or only half a feed, if stopping with kids? How many kids are living apart from you - how many times did you visit them - did you have tucker with them? How many times - full or half-full? Ye Gods, what a string of funniments presumably asked by well-fed and well-paid officials, and answers expected from many half-fed or hungry men and women seeking a pension. Summed up - are you interested in a full belly?
Then the applicant is asked the number of his children, and how many of them are living. What has that to do with a man who wants a pension? The difficulty is that the head of the Department has tried to frame a series of questions that will cover both old-age and invalid pensions. The invalid pensions have not been instituted yet, and why should an old-age pensioner be burdened with questions that relate to that matter? lt is within the realms of possibility that the invalid pensions may not be established this year, yet every applicant for an old-age pension is annoyed by these unnecessary questions, based upon a portion of the Act which has not yet been proclaimed, and which the Treasurer may not have the money to enable him to proclaim for some time to come.
– The cost of . the stationery would pay a good many pensions.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. This old gentleman says further on -
A few words in re my question, is a man to be advertised as a pauper in public thusly ? Having lodged your apply papers - then the police take a hand. It soon becomes known that Snooks is, going in for a pension, any way well advertised, and in no way private. Another weary wait of a fortnight, and the police personally serve upon the applicant a form to attend at Court. Once again, the weary questions are put and answered - papers are scanned that have been shown to the police in making their report to headquarters. When nothing can be advanced by the police why the old folks should not receive the pension after a searching inquiry, what needfor a Court and magistrate - no property involved? In my own case, another three years and one month would make me eighty years of age. One year and three months I am then sixty years in Australia, fifty years third day of December next wounded at Eureka, Ballarat; showed the magistrate proof of everything in the shape of printed and written documents, miner’s rights, Stc., from forty odd years old downwards. The old fossil showed his importance, of course - seemed to be hard put to it to find a flaw in a long and honorable existence of many ups and downs. Tt is seven weeks since I lodged my application, and nothing but worry each week since. When shall I get a few pennyweights to begin with ?
He signs his letter, “ James Hodges, known, as “ Eureka Jim.” It is a wonder to me that, the answering of so many questions as are put to old-age pensioners does not lead, in. some cases, to their death. I take it that all that should be required is proof of age and residence, in accordance with the Act, and a statement as to the income of the applicant. Nothing more should be necessary, as long as we have the present half-way house for old-age pensions.
– We need only sufficient to prevent fraud.
– Yes. It would be far simpler if the various postal officers were directed to follow the system that was adopted in Victoria, under which Clerks of Court fead to applicants a simple set of questions, and telling them that they were required to furnish true answers, called upon them to sign them or, if they could not write, to “place their mark upon them. That would be a much better system than that now in force, under . which an infamous list of questions has to be answered. I can only describe that list as a lineal descendant of the hundred and one insulting impertinences that prevailed under the old poorhouse law of England. Honorable members may be interested to learn that I spent two nights and a day in an English poorhouse, and that my memories of it are such that I would rather go into the worst prison I have ever seen than live in such an institution. When I visited the institution subsequently, as a friend of the medical attendant, I found a very great difference in the treatment extended to me. We do not desire to perpetuate such a system in the Commonwealth. Our wish should be to. build up a higher civilization, and to make Australia - which has gone farther than any other, part of the British Empire has gone in the extension of the franchise - renowned for its humanitarian treatment of aged citizens, who have grown grey in its service. I am not taking a party view of this question. Such a measure as this should be above party considerations, and, therefore, if any remarks I have mad§,are taken askew by the Treasurer, the fault is not mine, but his. An infamous system may prevail of which a Minister may be quite innocent, but when it is brought to light steps should be taken at once to remedy it. If a Minister, having the full facts before him, allows an infamous state of affairs to continue in connexion with an Act, with the administration of which he is charged, he will be for ever disgraced. 1 ask the Treasurer to consult his colleagues, some of whom are fully aware of . the sim plicity of the old Victorian system, and to endeavour to reduce as much as possible the present Court procedure. The honorable member for Yarra has brought under notice the excellent way in which a certain magistrate is discharging his duties under the principal Act, and I trust that magistrates generally will be requested to follow his example, so that our pioneers, in their declining years, may be able to obtain a well-earned pension as easily as good administration can insure it.
– I wish to indorse every statement that has been made by the honorable member for Mel- bourne. If there is one Act on the statutebook of the Commonwealth that ought to have the sympathy of all, it is that relating to the payment of invalid and old-age pensions, lt was one of the ambitions of my life to be able to enter Parliament and assist to secure some solace for the aged poor of the western districts of Queensland.
– -And no one in the honorable member’s party worked harder than he did to bring about a Federal system of old-age pensions.
– I have been thoroughly sincere in every statement I have made, both inside this House and outside, in regard to the payment of old-age pensions. Many old men in my electorate said, when I returned after the close of the first Federal Parliament, “ God ! How long are we to wait for a Federal old-age pension.” Some of these old men are over eighty years of age. They have borne the heat and burden of the day in pioneering and blazing a track across the western districts of Queensland, so as to make them readily accessible to those who follow. If there is one duty more than another to which we ought to attend, it is that of seeing that the old pioneers are properly provided for. I have always advocated that the only qualification for an old-age pension should be that of age. To my mind, the question of what a man’s past has been is immaterial, provided that he has lived an honorable life. Many bushmen are very like sailors in the way that they spend their money. They work on a station for two or three years, earn a cheque, and then go to town and knock it down. Having done so, they return to their work for another twelve months or two years, and then repeat the performance. These men have contributed largely to the revenue. Every penny they earn they spend in the country, and in their own way they have been really good citizens. It is hard that they should be pauperized when they become old. I know of many persons who, at one time, owned property - and some who owned stations - but are now in reduced circumstances. Circumstances over which they had no control have reduced them to the lowest ebb of poverty and distress, and it would be damnable to pauperize them. We should do what we can ‘to alleviate the suffering of these old people, and ought not to pauperize them in any way. An honorable senator has handed to me a letter from a resident of Rockhampton that I desire to bring under the notice of the Treasurer, with a view to his intervening in the direction indicated. The letter reads -
Dear Sir, - Re old-age pensions. I wish you would get some member in the Representatives to draw attention to the scandalous method adopted by the post office here in paying the pensions. Under the State arrangements the old people were paid in a room in the old Court buildings with some little ‘ show of privacy ; but now they have to congregate and parade their poverty on the verandah of the post-office like so many beggars awaiting their dole of charity. Surely the Commonwealth Government are not so hard up that they cannot afford to engage a suitable room lor the purpose, considering that they can afford presenting Dreadnoughts to a wealthy nation of landlords like England.
– Are they all landlords in England ?
– The majority of them are.
– The majority of the 40,000,000?
– No, the majority of the “boodleiers” are landlords, and no one . knows that better than does the honorable member. I know thousands of workers in the Old Country, but I do not know one who owns the house in which he lives. The writer of this letter continues -
Many a respectable old person is glad to receive the pension, yet shrinks from the publicity of receiving as it were alms in public. . . . Do your best in the matter. This is not a private letter, and you can make what use you like of it. Another matter to which I wish to draw your attention is : some of the old people who were receiving pensions under the State are now told that as they have not been naturalized for the full period of three years they cannot receive any pension until the Amended Act is passed;. this is a great hardship, as these few old people had settled down comfortably under the State Act, and now find themselves reduced once more to abject poverty. Had the Commonwealth not taken over the duty these old folk would still have been receiving their pensions, and any right thinking person would say it was incumbent on the Commonwealth authorities to pay them until the Act is amended. I am sure that will be your view also.
I forgot for the moment whether it was the Attorney-General or the Treasurer who, in reply to an honorable member, said yesterday that the part of the Bill in question could not be retrospective.
– We are going to amend that part of the Bill, so as to make it all right.
– These old pensioners in Rockhampton obtained pensions under the State Act, but when the Commonwealth
Act came into force, pensions were refused them, because they had not been naturalized for three years.
– That point will be settled satisfactorily by the Bill as it stands; but there is an amendment to be moved that will make it clearer.
– And will such persons receive Commonwealth pensions as from ist July?
– Their pensions will start from the first pay day after the ist July, or. in other words, from the first day on which Commonwealth pensions were paid.
– I am very pleased to have that assurance from the honorable gentleman. It will bring joy to the hearts of many an old person in Queensland. I trust that the Treasurer will also give instructions that the old people of Rockhampton shall not be paraded in the main street when they seek to obtain their pensions.
– The pensioners in any town should not be paraded in a main street.
– Quite so. Those who have visited Rockhampton know that the post-office there is in the heart of the town, and it is cruel to parade these old people in the way described in the letter I read.
– Do they look upon the receipt of a pension as something derogatory to themselves?
– No; but they do not think they ought to be paraded in the main street as paupers. I am sure the honorable gentleman is so humane that he would not like to see any citizen compelled to parade his poverty. I ask him to direct that in future payments shall be made in privacy. A room can be had for the asking in the old Court House at Rockhampton. That building is separated from the post-office by a green, and the postal officials will not experience any difficulty in paying the pensions there. The amendments in the principal Act that this Bill is designed to make are, as fa.r as they go, very good ; but the desire of every honorable member is that we should make good better. Those who know of any anomalies under the principal Act ought now to endeavour to remedy them. I am sure we should all be glad to see every old-age pensioner receiving £1 per week if the Commonwealth had at its disposal the necessary fund’s. My hope and desire is that this Bill, as it finally leaves the Chamber, will be so framed that it will not only be beneficial to the old people of Australia, but a credit to the Parliament.
£3.54]. - I have listened with attention to the speeches made during this debate. Whilst it is easy to sympathize with human difficulty and sadness, in dealing with a measure of this kind the difficulty experienced by a responsible Minister is that if he clare say anything on the other side of the question, personal motives are often attributed to him. I do not know that in the matter of personal feeling, there is much difference between one honorable member and another. We all, I should think, desire to help those who are not so well off as others, and those who are in distress.
– No one makes a personal appeal to the right honorable gentleman in vain !
– But the difficulty is that if this question be placed before honorable members, as one of business and of duty, a risk is run of their being misrepresented, and having attributed to them feelings which, I am sure, neither I nor any other honorable member possesses. It is my duty to place this matter before the House as it affects’ the people of Australia, and especially as it affects the public finances. This beneficent measure was introduced eighteen months ago, although it had been said over and over again before that time by those who were responsible, that it was impossible to finance it so long as the Braddon section of the Constitution was in operation. That view was accepted for a long time; and I need, hardly remind honorable members that the Bill was introduced and passed with great hurry. There was no one opposed to the principle of die Bill, and, as those who were responsible were willing to take the financial burden on their shoulders, all those who were in favour of old-age pensions, and were necessarily not well acquainted with the financial aspect, agreed to it.
– We should not have had old-age pensions if there had not been that hurry.
– The only reason that prevented us from having old-age pensions was the reason which exists at present, and has existed ever since the Bill was passed, namely, that no special provision was then made, or has been made up to the present, to finance it, except the pro- vision from a source, which no one anticipated would be available, in the shape of ihe trust fund created by the Surplus Revenue Bill. By that Bill £650,000 was placed in a trust fund, and made available at the beginning of this financial year. i am not in a position to say what the obligation will be during the current financial year. We are making inquiries, but until we get returns from all the States, we shall have no certain information. But I take it that if I estimate the cost of old-age pensions for this year at £1,500,000, I shall be within the mark. I am speaking now of the obligations under the provisions of the principal Act. Last year, 1908-9, the estimated expenditure in New South Wales was £515,°°°; in Victoria, £260,000; and in Queensland, .£135,000, though I am informed that up to the time the Government of Queensland ceased payment, the expenditure was at the rate of £160, 000 per annum. It will be seen, therefore, that the amount expended in the three States has been about £950,000 a year. The Commonwealth Act is in many respects much more liberal than the Acts of Victoria or New South Wales. One important provision in the Commonwealth Act is that friends and relatives are not called upon to contribute, so that every needy person, whether or not he has rich. relations, may receive a pension.
– Under the New South Wales Act, relatives were not called upon to contribute.
– That may account for the fact that £515,000 was spent in New South Wales as compared with £260,000 in Victoria.
– And the payments were at a higher rate in New South Wales.
– I am not criticising the action of any State, .but merely stating the facts as they appear to me. When any one has asked me to enlarge the scope of the principal Act, the thought uppermost in my mind has been that our first duty. as a Government and Parliament, is to earn’ out that Act as it now is.
– Until it is amended.
– But we should be very chary in amending it so as to increase the expenditure, until we have had an opportunity of carrying it out in its present form.
– I do not think so, if we see anomalies.
– The invalid sections have not yet been brought into operation, although they are authorized as soon as the finances will permit; and it does not seem to me reasonable or businesslike to increase the burden created by the part of the Act now in force, seeing that that could only have the effect of retarding provision for invalids.
– I think we can easily humanise the Act considerably, without increasing the expense very much.
– If the honorable member will tell us how, I shall be very glad. But I should have thought that the Labour party, under whose special care this Act came into force only the other day, would have done their best in that direction. The amendment of the principal Act, to which the Government intend to agree, reducing the term of residence from twenty-five to twenty years, will involve additional expenditure of, approximately, £25,000 a year, while the clauses permitting naturalization up to the 31st December next will mean further expenditure of about £7,000, and the retrospective provision to the 1 st July, to which the Government are agreeable, will add another £2,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the amendments in the Bill proposed or accepted by the Government involve an additional expenditure of about £34,000 a year. I may say that, before the Government had agreed to adopt the retrospective view, the Victorian Government had asked the Commonwealth Old-age Pensions officers to pay all the old-age pensioners, including invalids, who were on the Victorian list, and who were disqualified under the Commonwealth Act by reason of their not having resided in Australia for twenty-five years, so that the amendments do not affect existing pensioners in that State. I have not had an opportunity of going into the matter as it affects Queensland, but it appears that the Government of that State have not continued to pay the pensioners already on their list after the 1st July ; and the result is the complaint by the honorable member for Maranoa - a complaint which, I think, is justified, because we should not allow persons already on the list to suffer, even if we were not going to make the measure generally retrospective. For more reasons than one, we should not be anxious or willing to increase expenditure at the present time by means of this Bill. In view of the responsibility and difficulty of the Treasury and of Parliament in regard to the financial position, we must be careful not to allow our sympathies to run away with our judgment, as it is very easy to do, when we hear of hard cases, which could be assisted by a small provision. Complaint has been made in regard to the number of questions asked, but I am informed that in many cases the questions actually assist the claimant, because what may appear to be a small detail is very useful in tracing his age, and his length of residence in the Commonwealth. For instance, the information as to what ship an applicant arrived in very often . furnishes a clue which enables him to make good his claim. One must remember that those who administer the Act have not plain sailing, and especially those who scrutinize the claims. Every applicant is not particularly careful in the statements he makes; there are all sorts of claims which have to be sifted. If all that were done was to allow some one to sign a paper, I do not think it would be fair to- the country, or even fair to the applicant. There are many cases in which persons who have no right have tried to obtain pensions. For instance, one applicant had about 178 acres of land, with a house, 100 sheep,- and other property, valued at £830, after deductingmortgages. Unless care had been exercised in that case, the pension might have been granted. The law says that any one possessed of property valued at , £310 shall not be eligible for a pension, and those administering the Act must see that effect is given to it without fear or favour. They must neither harden nor soften their hearts, but must faithfully do what is right. Another applicant had an income of £59 per annum and free board and lodging. His property was valued at . £745, including a house worth £500. The wife of another, from whom there had been no legal separation, possessed £2,000 worth of property. The wife of another was earning £117 a year, and had property worth , £475. Another claimant had property worth £700. Another had a wife possessing land worth £530 and other property. Another had transferred three houses, in one of which he lived, valued at £,600. He received the rents from them, and, in addition, 8s. 6d. per week from a benefit societv. These applicants may have been very deserving, but they were not qualified by the Act, and their claims were, of course, rejected. All claims must be investigated, but, no doubtas the provisions of the law become better understood, administration will be easier, and claimants will also find it easier. Asto the complaint that delay now occurs in. the . settlement of claims, I point out that pensions are paid on the pay-day following the making of a claim. Delay in getting the claim certified to does not affect the payment. In Committee, the Government will add amendments to give effect to the desire to make the law retrospectivein regard to claims made within forty daysafter the passing of the Bill.- Any person who, on the 1st July would have been qualified if the measure had been in forcewill get his pension from that date. In conclusion, I remind honorable membersthat the financial burdens of the Commonwealth are now very great.
– By how much will the Bill increase them?
– It is estimated that the proposed amendments will increase the expenditure by , £34,000 per annum. In addition to the expenditure on old-age pensions, it is necessary to spend a large additional amount in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department and on defence. Therefore, we should allow time for the Old-age Pensions Act to get fully into working order before amending it materially. After the end of 1910, the Commonwealth will have a greater revenue than it has now, and, until then, it is not too much” to ask Parliament not to unreasonably increase our financial difficulties, which are, as the honorable member for Wide Bay knows, acute enough at the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
Section fifteen of the Principal Act isamended -
by omitting from sub-section (3) theword “ paid “ and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ granted “ ; and
by omitting from sub-section (3) the words “ is certified by a Registrar pursuant to this Act, and.”
.- The Treasurer has suggested that it would, be unwise to increase the financial obligationsof the Commonwealth by liberalizing thislegislation. I agree with him as to the financial difficulties of the situation, but I am not of opinion that we should let slip this opportunity to liberalize our invalid’ -ind old-age pensions law a3 much as possible, lt might be more advanced, and
I think that we should take this occasion to enlarge its scope. Section 15 of the Act says -
Subject to this Act, every person who has attained the age of sixty-five years, or who, being permanently incapacitated for work, has attained the age of sixty years, shall, whilst in Australia, be qualified to receive an old-age pension.
The Governor-General may by proclamation declare that the age at which women shall be qualified to receive an old-age pension shall be sixty years, and from and after such proclamation the last preceding sub-section shall, as regards women, be read as if the word “ sixty” were substituted for the word “ sixty-five.”
We should face our difficulties, whether they be financial, economical, or political. The public officers of the Commonwealth and of the States have to. retire at the age of sixty years, being then considered unfit for longer service, and, generally speaking, private firms adopt a similar rule. It must be remembered that applicants for old-age pensions are, for the most part, persons who have been engaged in much more arduous and less healthy occupations than those of public servants. I think that the age at which an invalid pension could be obtained should be earlier. That has always been my view. While in politics, one must be prepared to take what he can get, he must also take advantage of every opportunity to ask for more, until he has got what he considers sufficient. I think that the age at which women should be eligible for pensions should be reduced. Women ought to be eligible for pensions five wars earlier than men, for reasons contained in the -evidence of the Old-age Pensions Commission, and the statements .of medical men and other writers, which are available to every member of the Committee. I hope that the Treasurer will accept the amendment which I intend to submit, so that the Bill may be passed with as little delay as possible. I move -
That after the word “ amended,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “by omitting subsections (r) and (2)” and inserting in lieu thereof
Subject to this Act every man who has attained the age of 60 years, or who being permanently incapacitated for work has attained the age of 55 years, shall, whilst in Australia, he qualified to receive an old-age pension.
And, subject to this Act, every woman who has attained the age of fifty-five years shall whilst in Australia be qualified to receive an old-age pension.’ “
I admit that that casts an additional obligation on the Treasury.
– What would it cost?
– I think, approximately, £500,000.
– I am allowing a good margin, but I think it makes a vast improvement on the present Act. The Treasurer will agree with me that the Commonwealth is able to meet an addition of 25 per cent, or 30 per cent, to the present expenditure on old-age pensions if it makes the Act efficient beyond cavil. The extra money, of course, will not be lost.
– Is it competent for the honorable member, as a private member, to move to increase the burden upon the people bv £500,000?
– The Treasurer may, of course, raise that point of order, but a message from the Governor-General can be brought down at any time. If the Government take up the attitude that I cannot move in this direction, it is, of course, their business.
– We must control the finances.
– If that attitude on their part is correct, and the Government are determined to take it up, obviously no amendment can be moved to liberalize this Bill.
– No amendment can be moved by a private member to increase the burden upon the people.
– If that is the position taken up by the Government and their supporters, and the Chairman upholds it, there is, of course, no reply to it. If they are determined to tie down Parliament by, refusing a message from the GovernorGeneral to cover an amendment which will liberalize the measure, then, of course, the Opposition are in the hands of the majority on the Government side, but 1 cannot believe that that attitude will be assumed.
– I certainly cannot allow it; the honorable member can see for himself that it would never do.
– I quite recognise the difficulties. I have often said in the House that old-age pensions should be paid to persons when they attain an age at which they have to retire from work, irrespective of their actual age. The point, however, in this case is that we retire our public officers at sixty years of age on the assumption that they are no longer fully fit to discharge the ‘onerous duties imposed upon them. Surely the same thing would apply. with greater force to a workman toiling in a more arduous occupation. When he attained the age of sixty years he should be entitled to an old-age pension if otherwise qualified.
– Women are kept in the Public Service until they are sixty
– Evidence taken by the Old-age Pensions Commission, and other evidence which I can show the honorable member, tends to prove that in Australia women, speaking generally, are relatively five years older than men at the same age, from a health point of view. That is a justification for allowing women to be eligible for pensions at an age five years earlier than in the case of men. I therefore ask the Treasurer to accept the amendment.
– I rise to a point of order. It is not a question of whether the Government will accept the amendment or not. It is a question of whether the Chairman can accept it. The honorable member for Wide Bay has admitted that its intention is to increase the charges upon the people by £500,000. Under such circumstances, no Minister or member can, under the Constitution, Standing Orders, or practice of Parliament, move such a charge on the people without a preliminary message from the Governor-General.
– Does the honorable member object to it?
– I object to any electioneering amendment, and I object to this amendment on the grounds which I have stated.
– If the argument of the honorable member- for Corio held good, we could not discuss the Bill at all, because, as brought down by the Government, it increases the charges upon the people.
– After a message from the Governor-General.
– That does not matter. The whole Bill means an increase of taxation, and we cannot deal with it by degrees. If the honorable member’s point held good, we should not be able to amend a single letter in the Bill.
– When the principal Act was being considered in Committee. T moved a number of amendments, removing certain disqualifications, and the right honorable member for Swan, who is now Treasurer, came into the House next day, and objected that those amendments would increase the cost of old-age pensions to the extent of a quarter or half a million pounds. In spite of that objection, I, as a private member, was allowed to move the amendments. That is a very good precedent for the acceptance of the amendment now proposed.
– I would point out first that this measure is drafted not only as an amending, but also to some degree as a consolidating Bill, and it is most difficult for me to say what the principal Act does provide. I cannot be expected to have the principal Act here, and to be studying it in conjunction with these amendments. I am placed in a very difficult position in being asked to give rulings where Bills are introduced in ,this way, with nothing to guide me in the shape of letters in large black type as to the effect of the amendments on the principal Act. I understand that the Bill admittedly involves an increased expenditure of £34,000, and that up to the present no message has been received from the Crown to cover that. An amendment is now proposed by a private member which, in his opinion, will further increase the expenditure by £500,000. Honorable members will see that if the Government can introduce a Bill involving an increased expenditure of £34,000 without a message from the Crown-
– We have not reached that clause yet. We can easily get the message.
– I wish simply to show the difficulty in which I am placed. It is quite true that up to the present we have not yet reached the clause involving the extra expenditure to which I refer, but it was quite possible for us to have reached that clause, and for this amendment to have been moved afterwards, so that the objection now raised by the Treasurer is not worth considering. In dealing with this measure, we are in quite a different position from that in which we are placed when considering the Estimates, or measures imposing taxation, which are covered by messages from the Crown,, and which have definitely for their object the placing upon the people of certain burdens. The honorable member for Wide Bay has stated that, in his opinion, his amendment will increase the burdens upon the people by £500,000. I have from time to time ruled that it is not within the province of private members to increase the burden upon the people. If that were allowed, there would be nothing to guide the Government for the time being as to the amount of revenue that they would receive in the year. The Government, for instance, might bring down taxation proposals to yield a certain amount of revenue, knowing exactly what they required, and if private members were allowed to increase that revenue by moving amendments, it would not be possible for the Treasurer to have proper control over the finances. In the circumstances I rule that the amendment would not be in order. The Committee, however, now have the matter entirely in their own hands to establish a precedent or not, as they choose.
– Without expressing any opinion on the amendment, I wish to point out that it is out of order upon another ground, which, however, is only of a temporary character. An amendment must not only . be relevant to the Bill, but it must be relevant to the clause which it is proposed to amend. This amendment is not relevant to the clause in this Bill, although it is relevant to a section in the principal Act. I know that that is not a fatal objection to it, and I only raise the point in the interests of orderly procedure. It would be quite competent for the honorable member to submit a new clause which would be relevant to the title, but the amendment now proposed would not be relevant to the clause before the Committee. I raise that point, not as being fatal to the amendment itself, but as one showing that the amendment should be submitted in the shape of a new clause at another stage. At present it is proposed as an amendment of a clause to which it is not relevant. Sub-section 3 of section 15 has nothing to do with the ages at which a pension shall be payable, and I suggest that fact to the Chairman as another reason why the amendment would be irregular.
– I do’ not know, Mr. Chairman, whether you have given your final ruling in regard to this matter. If you have not, then I wish to point out that, despite what the right honorable member for East Sydney has said, the real gist of the question at issue is whether or not it is possible, in the case of a Bill which is not submitted under amessage, to move an amendment that would increase a burden on the people. I do not wish to dissent from your ruling, except with your concurrence; but I think the practice has been to allow such an amendment to be made in a Bill in connexion with which no message . has been received. I know that it is not competent for an honorable member to move an amendment so as. to increase the public burdens in the case of a Bill preceded by a message, but that is not the position in this case. This Bill simply provides that certain . things shall be done, and it will be open to the Government to bring down or to refuse to bring down a message covering any additional expenditure that the adoption of the amendment may involve. I am not carping at your rulling, Mr. Chairman, but I thought it well to put these facts before you.
– I have already given my ruling, and should like honorable members either to take some direct step which will finally settle the matter, or to proceed with the ordinary business of the Committee.
Mr.Fisher. - Although I am aware, Mr. Chairman, that you have the power to decide this question, I think that it would be advisable to refer it to Mr. Speaker, if you consider it desirable that it should be finally settled.
– It is of sufficient importance to warrant a reference to Mr. Speaker.
– I make the suggestion in the most respectful way. I have, and have always had, the greatest faith in your ability, Mr. Chairman ; but I suggest’ a reference to Mr. Speaker as a means of securing a final settlement of a very important question. For the Committee to disagree with your ruling would not mean that we should secure the decision of the House.
– The Standing Orders provide for such a course of procedure.
– I prefer the adoption of my own suggestion.
– I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the practice of constantly referring to Mr. Speaker for determination questions arising in Committee is a dangerous one. By the adoption of such a bad precedent, Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees may come into conflict concerning matters that ought to be decided by the Committee itself. On one occasion a reference was made to Mr. Speaker, with the result that he gave a ruling opposed to that which I had given. I was not at all sore in connexion with the matter, but I repeat that it is a well -authenticated practice to refrain from doing anything that may bring Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees into conflict.- Hence we have a standing order which provides that a Committee of the House may make and settle its own procedure. In the circumstances, I cannot agree to the question being referred to Mr. Speaker. I should prefer the Committee itself to decide it.
-The question is of sufficient importance to justify the opinion of the Committee being taken upon it. If your ruling, Mr. Chairman, be upheld, it will mean that it will be impossible for non-official members to submit any amendment which may be considered to increase a tax or burden upon the people. I intend, therefore, to dissent from it. The question as to the receipt of a message in connexion with the Bill was not introduced until late in the discussion, and the point whether the Bill itself is properly before the Committee might also be submitted for your decision. But since it has been considered in Committee, and has been accepted as being properly before us, we should tie our hands by accepting the ruling that, it is impossible for a non-official member to move an amendment that may ultimately involve increased taxation. Standing order 171, on which you, sir, have doubtless based your ruling, provides that -
No amendment for the imposition or for the increase of a tax or duty shall be proposed by any non-official member in any Committee on any Bill.
– That standing order is a part of the Constitution itself.
– That does not materially alter the position. I claim, in the first place, that this measure is. not an Appropriation Bill, or one in which the appropriation of certain moneys is in any way directly involved. It simply declares that certain treatment shall be extended to certain persons, provided that Parliament is agreeable later on to provide the necessary funds. I recognise that if the Ministry were seeking an appropriation of, say, £1,250,000 for the purpose of old-age pensions, it would not be within the province of a non-official member to move to increase that amount, nor ‘ would it be within the province of a Minister to move to increase it without a. further message from the Crown. It is quite within the province of this Committee, however, to determine what form a particular allocation shall take, and for Parliament subsequently to provide the necessary funds.
– The Ministry might refuse to provide the funds.
– If they had the requisitemajority they could refuse to bringdown an Appropriation Bill to enable the functions for which this measure provides to be carried out. But this is not a Bill providing for an appropriation within the meaning of standing order 171, nor is it a Bill” directly imposing taxation on the community. If honorable members opposite, because of party interests, are prepared to accept a ruling in this matter which will tie the hands of Parliament for all time, they will find that the decision will have a boomerang effect, and will recoil upon them. If the Chairman’s ruling be sustained, the liberties of honorable members will be curtailed to a degree that was never contemplated when the Standing Orders were being framed, and incalculable injury will be done to the right of free discussion of Billsbefore Parliament. I have no feeling in the matter towards the Chairman, but I respectfully move -
That the Committee dissent from the Chairman’s ruling.
– I should like to draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the proceedings in connexion with the Invalids and Old-age Pensions Bill. In Committee a number of amendments were moved bv private members, some of which, if carried, would have had the effect of increasing the payments from the Treasury under the Act. The honorable member for Boothby, for instance, moved an amendment to omit the exclusion, under certain circumstances, of Asiatics from participation in the benefits of the Bill. That amendment was put, and, although you, sir, were in the chair at the time, you did not rule it out of order.
– That would have had the effect of reducing the amount.
– No. It would have the effect of increasing the amount, because it would have thrown more persons on the fund. As reported on page 11977 of Hansard of the 3rd June, 1908, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, on the same Bill, moved -
That after the word “by,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “ residence in any Australian Territory for a portion of the period of residence or.”
That would have . had the effect of including a number of persons resident in the Northern Territory, and in Papua; and that amendment was discussed and lost. A further amendment was moved by the honorable member for Cook, that sub-clause 3 be left out; and it was left out on the voices, with the effect of increasing the demand upon the Treasury. Further on in the same debate, the honorable member for New England moved to strike out the words “ for drunkenness,” which, had it been carried, would have . had the effect of increasing the amount to be paid by the public. Then the honorable member for Cook moved, and the amendment was accepted, to include holders of State certificates, and that had the effect of increasing the burden upon the community. It is clear that the principal Act was treated as it ought to have been treated, namely, as a machinery measure; and if the present Bill is not a machinery Bill, it is improperly before the Committee,because it has not been preceded by a message. The mere fact that, incidentally, the amendment will have the effect of increasing the payments to be made under the principal Act, which was covered by a message appropriating money, is not at all to the point ; and I submit that your ruling is not in accordance with your previous decisions, or the practice of this Chamber before you occupied the chair, and neither is it in conformity with the right of honorable members to move relevant amendments in all measures excepting those specifically confined to the imposition of taxation in which case amendments having the effect of increasing the burden of the community cannot be moved by private members. In regard to a Tariff, or a tax, we clearly understand our limitation ; ‘ and in the Constitution Act there is particular provision regarding such measures. Sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution contain the following -
Clearly all’ that this Bill does is to rectify anomalies in the machinery Act under which old-age pensions are paid. On the clear admission of members of the present government, and of the then Opposition,.’ when the principal Act was before us, oldage pensions could not be -paid because there was no money available; and therefore the whole question turned on the appropriation of sufficient money. This Bill’ appropriates no money, and, therefore, we must get revenue in some way before we can pay any more in pensions. The honorable member for Wide Bay has submitted an amendment that may, perhaps, involve additional expenditure; but, clearly, on the statements of the Treasurer, and on the admission of the facts, there is not sufficient money to pay additional pensions without a further appropriation. If you, Mr. Chairman, look at the notice-paper, you will find there a Land Tax Assessment Bill, to which is attached the name of the honorable member for Wide Bay. It is proposed under that Bill to include certain persons, and exclude others from such taxation; and I contend it will be quite competent for honorable members to include or exclude any ‘other classes from the operation of that Bill, in view of the fact that a Bill actually imposing a tax will not then be before the Committee. Under the circumstances, I feel that you ought not to rule as you have. Although you have been led away by excessive . caution, and a desire not to allow the Committee to get itself into an awkward position, I submit that you have inadvertently clone a very grave injustice, and that the Government, no matter what they may believe, ought to refer the question to Mr. Speaker for an authoritative ruling so that we may know precisely where we are. For my own part. I cannot see that there can be two opinions on the point. It is perfectly clear that if we have no right to deal with this amendment, there are only some 10 per cent, of measures submitted to this House with which we should have been able to deal.
– I hope the Committee will not uphold the ruling at which you, Mr. Chairman, have arrived. The interpretation of the Standing Orders ought not to be dealt with as a party question.
– On either side.
– On either side; this is a question which concerns the rights and privileges of members of the House. As the honorable member for West Sydney has very well said, if the ruling of the Chairman is . upheld, it will establish a precedent under which not more than 10 per cent, of the amendments which have hitherto been moved by honorable members ought to have been considered.
– Would that not mean a saving of High Court procedure ?
– That is not the question ; the honorable member is here to give expression to his views and the views of his constituents as to what legislation ought to be passed. If the honorable member is one of those gentlemen who consider that the time of Parliament is wasted by the discussion of measures, he ought to be outside talking to some of the Women’s Committees. As will be seen at once, every measure that comes before this Chamber is liable, at the instance of some private member, to amendment, which may increase the cost to the taxpayer. For instance, supposing that under some Bill the appointment of two public officers is proposed, and an honorable member moves that there should be three ; it is seen at once that there is incidentally an increased charge on the revenue.
– For instance, when we established the minimum wage.
– That is a case in point. When the Public Service Bill was before us, a private member moved to extend the minimum wage in the Public Service.
– It was moved in such a way as not to increase the charge. I submitted the amendment, and so I ought to know.
– As a matter of fact, the effect of the amendment was to increase the charge. In any case, I submit that the Bill before us is not an Appropriation Bill, though incidentally it may ultimately increase the charge upon the revenue.
– It must.
– Then we will say “must” ; but,’ in any case, this is not an Appropriation Bill. The Prime Minister will agree that 90 per cent, of the amendments which honorable members may move on any Bills would increase the cost to the country of the new law. I hope the Committee will take up a strong position - that honorable members, in the interests of parliamentary debate, will vote for the motion of the’ honorable member for Kalgoorlie to dissent from the ruling of the Chairman. I am sorry to have to advocate dissent; but I have to regard the more important matter,. of the rights and privileges of honorable members.
We might just as well pack our traps anc? go home if the ruling of the Chairman be upheld by the Committee.
– As I understand your ruling, Mr. Chairman, it means that it is not competent for any honorable member topropose to reduce the age qualification. The question of cost, of course, follows; but, in my opinion, the amendment will not at alt increase the cost. It is not now proposed that the pensions should be paid, but that, when they are paid, they shall be obtainable at a lower age.
– It applies to mein too.
– I do not object to that. Your ruling, Mr. Chairman, is on a proposal to reduce the age at which certainpensions shall be payable, and, therefore, I shall vote to dissent from it.
– It does not follow that, because one disagrees from your ruling, Mr. Chairman, he favours the amendment. I do not agree with those who say that we have not the right to alter the Bill as we may think fit. If the Government feel that they cannot accept the amendmentsmade in the Bill, they will drop the measure, and ask their supporters to stand by it in that action. While I know that you are generally in the right, and thoroughly respect your judgment, I must disagree with your ruling on this occasion, and, if there is a division, shall vote for the motion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– The Act provides for the payment of pensions to claimants whose number is unknown-, so that no one can say what the expenditure will be.
– A child would, know that the effect of the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay would be to increase that expenditure.
– The sum of £750,000 has been appropriated for the payment of oldage pensions, but the expenditure which will be incurred is not yet known. It may be proposed later on to move an amendment in the direction of saving expenditure. For the purposes of this argument, let me assume that some one may propose to strike out of the Act the provisions relating to invalid pensions. Of course, no one is likely .to do that; but such an .amendment would reduce expenditure by a sum larger than that by which the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay would increase it. We recognise that you, Mr. “Chairman, rarely make a mistake, and that you are doing your duty in keeping our procedure within the rules of Parliament. But if we did not disagree with the present ruling, our hands would be tied so tightly that we could not properly do our business. It seems to me that such a ruling should apply only to amendments of Bills dealing with taxation. It must not be forgotten that, in any case, the expenditure on oldage pensions will constantly increase, because there is no prospect of our conditions becoming so good that there will be no claimants for old-age pensions, and there is every probability that the claimants will increase with the population. If we cannot increase expenditure, how is the increase in the number of claimants to be provided for ? This is not a taxation measure. The amendment affects merely an Act authorizing an expenditure which cannot be accurately estimated. The honorable member for Wide Bay has given the opinion that his amendment would increase expenditure to a large amount; but that does not follow. Should the ruling of the Chairman be upheld, it will be impossible for the Committee to exercise its proper constitutional powers in dealing with the legislation submitted by the Government.
– I agree with the honorable member for Boothby that in the consideration of important matters affecting the rights of the Committee there should be no element of party feeling, a consideration which, of course, must apply on both sides. But, in interpreting the rules of procedure, we must not act on rigid technicalities. The point that the amendment might result in the reduction of expenditure does not commend itself to common sense. The amendment must largely increase expenditure. ‘That is a very important consideration.. For many years, where measures involving public charges have been concerned, the powers of the Parliament have been strictlv limited, in the interests, not of the Crown, but of the people. Should anv improper provision be inserted in the Bill, it would be open for any honorable member to raise a point of order in the House, which, if sustained, would be fatal to the measure. No Bill imposing a charge on the peoole can be introduced until leave has been obtained by a resolution of a Committee of the whole House. Of course, where the charges are merely incidental and triv’al, there are precedents for dispensing with the Committee stage. But the charge which would be imposed by the carrying of the amendment would involve a very large sum. Of that the honorable member for Wide Bay made no secret. I do not profess to speak confidently in this matter, because there is much to be said in favour of the view taken by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. Not much importance is to be attached to the point relating to the Governor- General’s Message, because such a Message can be put before the House at any time, though the want of it might be sufficient to cause a Bill to be ruled out of order.
– Is this an Appropriation Bill?
– The authorities do not limit to Appropriation Bills the rule to which I have referred. Every Bill imposing a charge upon the people comes within it. Should the rule be broken by an amendment, the point may be taken in the House that a provision of the Bill goes too far, and if upheld, the point would be fatal. If the Bill itself imposes a charge on the people, the Government has done wrong in not obtaining leave to introduce it by the resolution of a Committee, though I- do not see anything in the Bill imposing such a charge, beyond, perhaps, what is subsidiary and trivial.
– The Treasurer says that it increases the public expenditure by £34,000.
– If that is so, I think that the Bill should have been preceded by the resolution of a Committee. What may be considered trivial or subsidiary charges are small expenditures in the appointment of officers, or in printing, or something of that sort.
– The provision reducing the term of residence from twenty-five to twenty years sanctions the idea of increased expenditure.
– That is so; but the Government seem to have taken the course of separating this particular Bill from the Appropriation Bill. That separation in form, however, does not . at all affect the broad principle to which I have referred. The question is not that of the Appropriation Bill. It is a question of any Bill that creates any charge upon “the public. If the House decides that persons between fiftv-five and sixty, years of age . shall be oualified to. receive a pension, surelv that is creating a charge upon the public. It creates by law a right in a person to receivt? a certain sum of money.
– If there is any money there.
– Parliament would surely look upon the passing of such a law as meaning the’ provision of the money. We must not descend to such puerilities. If we pass a Federal law to that effect, it is a puerility to say that we are creating no charge upon the “people. In what more solemn form could we create a charge upon the people than by passing a law entitling certain persons to receive certain sums of money ? The passing of an Act to provide the money is merely writing a cheque to meet that’ obligation. It is a mere matter of making financial arrangements to honour the obligation.
– What is the right honorable member’s authority?
– I should like to read a few extracts, because I was in great doubt upon the matter until I referred to this authority. I regret that the debate is taken at this stage, because the amendment is, in any case, out of order, on the ground that it should be submitted as a new clause, and not as an amendment to this clause.
– A highly technical ground.
– If the majority decides to dissent from the Chairman’s ruling, then any one can raise that point, and, technical or not, it is fatal. I would rather the matter were tested on a sound basis, in the shape of a new clause, but I do not want to go into that.
– I rise to order. The right honorable member now proposes to test the matter before the Chair upon another ground. I submit that he cannot do so- You have decided that the honorable member for Wide Bay cannot move the amendment for a certain reason, and a motion has been submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie regarding that ruling I submit that no other ‘honorable member c3n now raise the point that your ruling is wrong. for another reason which you have not given.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I did not put the point forward as another point of order.I simply expressed my regret that this motion will not dispose of all the objections to the amendment. There is a general provision in our Standing Orders that when we have no standing order expressly bearing upon any matter, we shall resort “ to the rules, forms, and practice of the House of Commons.”
– Does not standing order 171 bear on this point?
– I do not think so. It clearly does not cover the whole ground, because there are other charges upon the people than those which it mentions -
No amendment for the imposition or for the increase of a tax rate or duty shall be proposed bv any non-official member in any committee on any Bill.
A standing order which deals only with a tax, rate, or duty, clearly does not cover the whole, ground, because we are dealing with a matter which is’ neither a tax, rate, nor duty. I, therefore, do not regard that standing order as a bar to this Committee at all. Unless there is some other bar, that is none.
– Does the right honorable member say that this Bill does not impose a tax?
– Absolutely not. In parliamentary language, the difference between a tax and a charge is obvious. You tax an article or a man so much, but a charge is imposed, for instance, by passing an Old-age Pensions Bill. That is not a tax, rate, or duty.
– Then, there is no prohibition in the Standing Orders against the amendment.
– I say so, and therefore we must have resort, in deciding this question, to the rules of the House of Commons. I propose to refer to the highest authority upon those rules.
– Does the right honorable able member intend to tie us up by dead men ?
– This is not a dead rule, for it has been followed over and over again in this Parliament.
– The men who made that rule have long been dead.
– The Sovereign who passed the laws in the time of Richard I. has long been dead, but his laws are still a living force in the land. I trust that, now that my honorable friends are sitting on the other side of the House, they are not going immediately to destroy all the bulwarks against which they reposed for seven vears on this side. I would refer honorable members to page 527 of May, tenth edition, under the heading of “ Regulations adopted by the Commons to enforce the Royal control over public expenditure and revenue “ -
Under the practice thus established, every motion which in- any way creates a charge upon the public revenue, or upon the revenues of India, must receive the recommendation of the Crown, before it can be entertained by the House ; and then, the recommendation having been given, procedure on the motion must be adjourned to a future day, and be referred to the consideration of a Committee of the whole House.
Therefore, anything which in any way creates a charge upon the people must be preceded by a Royal message before it can be entertained by the House, and also be considered by a Committee afterwards. Later on, May says -
Accordingly, if any motion, or Bill, or proceeding is offered to be moved, whether in the House or in a Committee, which requires, but fails to receive, the recommendation of the Crown, it is the duty of the Chair to announce that no question can be proposed upon the motion, or to direct the withdrawal of the Bill.
I come to the very point with which we are now dealing at the foot of page 528, under the heading of “Bills creating a charge.” If this Bill does not create a charge, everything I am saying has no weight. If the Bill does create a charge, this is an authority.
– The Treasurer says it creates a charge of £34,000.
– I am dealing with the amendment, which is of much greater importance : -
Bills creating a charge. - When the main object of a Bill is the creation of a public charge,
I am testing the amendment in that way, and it is a good way of testing it. Suppose the amendment had been in the Bill as introduced, suppose that instead of pensions to those whom we all desire to benefit, the Government had introduced in the Bill a provision involving an extra expenditure of £500,000 in conferring privileges on some wealthy favoured class in the community, without the safeguards of a Royal message and of a Committee before the Bill was brought in. I think in that case my honorable friends would see the necessity for those safeguards. We must not allow our minds to be influenced by the excellent object which the honorable member for Wide Bay has in view. In such a case, my honorable friends opposite would have considered those safeguards of vital importance. They are, indeed, of vital importance in any case, whether the object is a good one, as it is in this case, or a bad one, as it would be in the case I suggested - resort must be had to this procedure before the Bill is introduced, and upon the report of the resolution of the Committee of the whole House thereon the Bill is ordered to be brought in. If the charge created by a Bill is a subsidiary feature therein, resulting from the provisions it contains,
That is a sort of indirect charge which results from a proposed enactment in the Bill. For instance, the appointment of an assistant Commissioner would be held to be a subsidiary matter, because he having been appointed, his salary would have to be provided. It would not mean a direct charge, such as this is - the Royal recommendation and preliminary committee are not needed in the first instance, and the Bill is brought in on motion. But before the clauses anc! provisions for the creation of incidental charges can be considered by a committee on the Bill, those clauses and provisions must be sanctioned by the resolution of a Committee appointed upon the recommendation of the Crown, and agreed to by the House.
So that even incidental charges must be sanctioned by this procedure. In my long experience in another Parliament, it was my constant anxiety, as Premier, to see that these messages were brought clown. Too often I have had Bills ruled out of order because one of my Ministers omitted to get the necessary message introduced and dealt with in Committee, although, perhaps, the expenditure for which the Bill provided was not large. Consequently, I have had the painful experience of the necessity for taking these steps.
– Slip-shod work.
– The honorable member is perfectly right.
– But the Committee must assume that the Bill is properly before it.
– The Committee is in no such position ; it must not shut its eyes to the’ facts because it does not wish to recognise them. I do not wish to spaak with too great confidence, but I think I can see the lines on which your ruling has gone, Mr. Chairman. Having regard to the statement of the mover of the amendment that the effect of its adoption would be to create a charge of £500,000 per annum on the people, it seems to me that yen could not have taken any oilier course than you have done. If the Chairman, without a message or without a Committee, were to allow the creation of a charge on the people of £500,000 a year, I do not know when hecould apply those safeguards that have been applied almost from time immemorial,, not only in the House of Commons, but in all the Parliaments of the Empire. Although not wishing to speak too positively,
I think that, on the best authority that I can command, your ruling, Mr. Chairman, rests upon a sound parliamentary principle.
– We have just had a most elaborate argument on a bad case. I agree with the right honorable” member for East Sydney that, under the House of Commons practice, such a Bill as this must first of all be referred to a Committee by a message from the Crown, and be dealt with there. The right honorable member also urged that, since we have no . definite standing order to guide us in this ‘matter, we must resort to the rules, forms and practice of the House of Commons. Upon that point, I am in agreement with him, but no one knows better than he does that our constitutional practice is exactly the opposite of that of the House of Commons.
– Indeed I do not.
– The fact that it is exactly the opposite of the House of Commons was, to me, one of the mysteries of the first Parliament. Again and again I thought that slip-shod methods were being pursued in dealing with certain Bills, but, on drawing attention to the matter, I was always corrected by an appeal to the Constitution. Section 56 provides -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
– Does the honorable member say that those words are a limitation?
– The point is that such a message may be ‘brought down at any time. It might be brought down at the thirdreading stage, but, as a matter of fact, a message has not yet been introduced in connexion with this Bill.
– There must be a preliminary Committee as well as a message?
– Yes; but such a message has not yet been introduced, and, therefore, the representatives of the people have not had an opportunity to deal with it. If such an opportunity had offered, it would have been in order, at a certain stage, to proceed to enlarge the scope of the message, or, in other words, the amount that it covered. I submit that there is a time when honorable members have an opportunity in Committee to extend, as well as to reduce, the scope of such a message. The Treasurer nods dissent, but, with all due respect, I disagree with him. When a message is being transmitted from the Speaker to the Committee, there is a time when a motion extending the amount proposed to be appropriated under that message may ‘be moved and carried. That, at all events, has been done more than once in other Parliaments.
– Then a message is useless.
– The passing of such a motion, before we proceeded to deal with the Bill to which the message related, would be a clear direction to the Crown as to the desire of the House. The argument advanced by the right honorable member for East Sydney absolutely fails, at any rate, on the ground that in the House of Commons an appropriation must always precede the Bill to which it relates. We have no such form in connexion with this House. The right honorable member has said that ‘ he thinks that this Bill, apart from the question raised, ought to have been preceded by a Committee on a message from the Crown. It is immaterial to the object we have in view, whether or not the amendment is accepted in the particular form presented, since we can attain its object by the omission of one word. I regret that the amendment has been ruled out of order. The point involved is a very delicate one. In you, Mr. McDonald, we have a Chairman who will give his decisions according to his intelligence, quite irrespective of party feeling. We have reason to congratulate ourselves on having officers who will consider in that way the principles that should guide us, and I .am sure that those who vote to disagree with your ruling will not be actuated bv any personal feeling. If a Committee of this Parliament cannot extend a proposal of this kind in the direct;on T have already moved, it will he impossible for the Committee to do its work properly.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee, because the right honorable member for East Sydney has nut the matter, I think, very clearly. It is really not so much a technical question as a matter of substance. I know of no standing order that makes the decision of the Chairman technical. What he has to do is to be guided bv a general sense of expediency as to whether or not an amendment involving such a very large expenditure as, say, £,Too,000 per annum, ought to be initiated on the motion of a private member. As a matter of substance, that ought not to be done. We know that, if the amendment be carried, another Bill will have to be passed to provide for the expenditure. Thus the whole financial policy of the Government might be absolutely changed on the initiation of a private member. The amendment would so alter this Bill as to add to the proposed expenditure by some hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– The principle would be the same if only £1 were involved.
– Let us see if there is any decision on that point ! This is purely a matter of substance, and, as the right honorable member for East Sydney has said, we should consider it broadly and not as a matter of technical right. Section 53 of the Constitution provides that
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
Would not honorable members resent a proposal by the Senate to amend the Old-age Pensions Act by adding to the annual expenditure under it to the extent of £500,000? Would they not say that such an amendment was a violation, if not of the clear technical expression, certainly of what was substantially meant by that provision of the Constitution? Honorable members are jealous of the rights of this House under the Constitution, and I am sure that any widening of the scope of this measure by another place in the way I have indicated would be held by them not to be within the province of the Senate. It would be held to be purely within the initiation and control of this House.
– The honorable member has not forgotten that there is no message in this case?
– I do not think that the absence of message touches the question.
– Does the honorable member say that the Senate could not do what we could do in that matter?
– I doubt whether it could. Some years ago the question was discussed in relation to an amendment of the Sugar Bounties Bill. If 1 am not mistaken the Senate increased a proposed burden on the people by simply changing the date of the application of that measure.
– But that was a taxation Bill.
– The amendment might have eventually increased the burden on the people, although it did not do so directly.
– Was that Bill preceded by a message?
– That does not touch the point.
– I think it does.
– So far as the Constitution is concerned, a message, according to section 56, is necessary only before the Bill actually passes beyond our control. Section 56 states -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
It is not too late to have a’ message at any stage. I do not know whether a message may not yet be brought down. From the original scope of the Bill I doubt whether it was necessary ; but, in any event, a message could be obtained. The only doubt is whether this Bill, even within the limited scope of an expenditure of about £35,000 a year, ought not to have been originated in Committee.
– The Chairman has notruled in that direction. Mr. Glynn. - The Chairman has not dealt with that point.
– Before the message came down in connexion with the principal Act, would it have been competent for any member to propose to increase the charge?
– It would not be competent for any private member to do that, for the simple reason that a private member cannot get a message; but if there was a promise of a message it would be competent for him.
– But, on a previous occasion, amendments were moved and accepted without any promise of a message.
– That is purely a matter of courtesy. If a message is necessary, it is not competent for a private member, under section 56 of the Constitution, to move an amendment unless there is a promise that a message will be forthcoming; and T think that that is the limitation of the powers of honorable members opposite. In the case of the Sugar Bounties Bill. I think the decision was against the contention of the Senate, and it was held that the mere widening of the scope, by altering the date, was a sufficient’ increase of the burden to deny their right to make the amendment. If we apply the same test now, it becomes, not a mere question between the two Houses, but between the Ministry, who have the control of, and who only can initiate, expenditure, and private members, who have no responsibilities of the kind ; and I think the Chairman has rightly decided that a private member cannot propose an alteration which may add hundreds of thousands to the burden of the people. What is a message but simply a demand by the Government for a certain amount of Supply ?
– Is this Bill, without a message, equal to a Bill with a message?
– I do not think it is. Assuming a message is necessary, the stage at which a Minister can obtain one is not yet passed ; and, so far as that is concerned, the Bill is properly before the Committee. I have indicated the point on which there may be a doubt ; but on the broader ground, it can scarcely be considered within the competence of a private member to so widen the Bill that the Ministry may have to make provision for the expenditure of’ hundreds of thousands of pounds. I think that the precedent set in the case of the Bounties Bill practically shows that the rul”ing of the Chairman is right.
– I am indebted to theright honorable member for East Sydney for the care he took in placing before us his views of the present peculiar situation, and for doing so without any feeling of a party character. I sincerely hope that the decision of honorable members, in respect to the ruling, will be quite free from party feeling. The decision arrived at by the Chairman is very far-reaching; and, if it be upheld, it will place a limitation in the case of 90 per cent, of the Bills submitted to us. A Bill which in any way may cause an appropriation of revenue, however small, will come under the ruling of the Chairman ; and honorable members will be prevented from making any amendment which is not satisfactory to the Government, or which even suggests the appropriation of revenue. It is possible that a large number of Bills which come before us may involve slight charges on the revenue; and, under the ruling now given, honorable members will be prevented from submitting amendments.
– Could the honorable member name some of the Bills he means ?
– The ruling of the Chair* if upheld, will be of such a wide and farreaching character that we may approach its consideration entirely free from party grounds ; and we may hope for an ultimate decision that will reflect credit on us while being no reflection whatever on the Chair.
– What about the Bureau of Agriculture Bill ?
– Quite so; under the ruling of the Chairman it would be impossible to increase the scope of that Bill. If a Bill were, introduced to provide for a Bureau of Agriculture, and the Government had fixed an expenditure which they deemed reasonable, it would be out- of order, under the ruling of the Chairman, for an honorable member to submit an> amendment, ‘the likely effect of which would be to increase the expenditure proposed.
-: - Does the honorable member not think that that is a very refined argument ?
– It may be, but the right honorable gentleman knows that most of these matters are taken- up in a refined spirit - that objectors in Parliament are generally those who raise technical points, and object to rulings which, if upheld, may subsequently lead to a great waste of time, and cast reflection on the Chair. I submit, first, that all Bills are submitted with a general understanding respecting the powers of the Committee; in fact, our Standing Orders are word for word those of the House of Commons. That is, the Committee have power to make such amendments in a Bill as they shall think fit, provided they be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, but if any such amendment shall not be within the title of the Bill, the title shall be amended and the same reported specially to the House - that is, the title may be altered so as to bring the amendments within its scope. While I am indebted to the right honorable member for East Sydney for the way in which he put his view before us, I must say that the serious part of his remarks were not directed to’ the ruling of the Chairman, but to the point whether this Bill is properly before this . Committee. The whole of what he quoted from May went to show that the Bill, because it meant an increase in expenditure - I do not like the word “charge,’’ regarding it as applying more directly to taxation - was not properly before the Committee, seeing that it had been brought down without a Royal recommendation. If you, Mr. Chairman, rule that the Bill is properly before us, then the whole of the right honorable gentleman’s argument, I respectfully submit, falls absolutely to the ground, and we have a Bill that we can in general terms amend, provided the amendments are relevant to the subjectmatter, and even though they be not within the title or present scope of the Bill. So far as I understand, the procedure of the House, the necessity for a Royal recommendation prior to any Bill or resolution for the appropriation of moneys being carried, has been obviated. Even though a Bill may require a recommendation from the Governor-General, such recommendation may be obtained subsequent to the Bill going through most of its stages, and prior to its final passing from the House. I understand that that is the position taken up by the Ministry with respect to this particular Bill - that they anticipated that a. Royal recommendation would be indispensable, but adopted the ordinary custom in at least some of the States, and were prepared to allow the Bill to go through certain stages before the recommendation was brought down. If that be the case, and it is ruled that the Bill is properly before us - and that the Ministry propose to ask for the necessary recommendation prior to the Bill passing through all its stages - then I submit that the ruling is not in keeping with the practice of the House of Commons. I understand that where our Standing Orders are silent on a’ny point, we have recourse to the practice of that House. The right honorable member for East Sydney read portions of pages 527 and 528 of the tenth edition of May, referring particularly, to the regulations adopted by the House of Commons; but if the honorable gentleman had gone a little further and looked at page 532, he would have found that we are at full liberty, until a ruling is given, to continue making amendments even though the amendments, provide for an increase in the public expenditure.
– Is that where there is a general request for money without a specification of the amount ?
– There, of course, the Committee can do as they like.
– I submit that, having no specific recommendation, and not knowing what the recommendation may be, we are justified in assuming that the recommendation will be one in general terms
– Section 56 of the Constitution may modify that passage in May, though I do not say that it does.
– I point out to the AttorneyGeneral that section 56 only provides for a recommendation being made in the same session. . A Bill may be passed through almost all its stages, and the recommendation may be made from two to five months hence, provided it is in the same session. Section 56 is as follows -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation lias in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
No doubt the Government were acting in accordance with section 56 of the Constitution in bringing down the Bill without a recommendation from the GovernorGeneral, notwithstanding that, as has been pointed out by the Treasurer, it means an increased expenditure of £34,000.
– It has been ruled in this Chamber that a Governor-General’s message may be brought down as late as the third-reading stage.
– I know that in the Legislature of one of the States it is regarded as sufficient if the Governor’s message is brought down before the Bill to which it relates is finally passed.
– A Tariff Bill does not require a message, but no private member may move an increase of duty.
– With regard to amendments having the effect of increasing duties, or imposing specific taxes, May is clear and definite. On page 580 of the 10th Edition, we are told trial -
The constitutional principle which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility over national expenditure, and which forbids the Commons to increase the sums demanded by the Crown for the service of the State is strictly enforced in the committees of supply and ways and means.
May is also as clear as can be reasonably expected in dealing with Bills in regard to which the recommendation is in general terms, or the appropriation not specific-
As is subsequently explained, the constitutional principle which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility of incurring national expenditure, forbids an increase by the Commons of a sum demanded on behalf of the Crown for the service of the State. This principle, however, is apparently disregarded when the recommendation of the Crown is given to a resolution empowering the expenditure of public money which, framed in general terms, places no limitation on the amount of expenditure to be authorized by the resolution.
Had the right honorable member for East Sydney read further, I venture to suggest that he would have taken a different view, because May continues -
The Committee is not bound by the terms of the provisions which the Ministers of the Crown have inserted in the BUI ; and any member may propose an increase of the grant specified in these clauses, or to extend the application of the provisions of the Bill, whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom, so long as the power conferred by the royal recommendation is not exceeded.
– Is it not proposed to exceed it in this instance?
– We have not yet a Royal recommendation, and, therefore, are not limited in our action. The practice of the House of Commons is that -
Any member may propose an increase of the grants specified in these clauses, or to extend the application of the provisions of the Bill, whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom.
I do not think that there could be more authoritative language upon the point under consideration. There has been no recommendation in regard to this Bill, and even had there been one it would have had to be in general terms, and, consequently, the practice laid down above would apply. As there has been no recommendation, and we do not know what recommendation there will be, we are justified in adopting the practice of the House of Commons, which permits members to make amendments in the provisions of the Bill, no matter what the cost resulting therefrom may be. Of course, if the amendments made in the Bill are not satisfactory to Ministers, the Government need not ask for a recommendation covering the necessary expenditure. The admission of the Treasurer makes it clear that a recommendation of some description must be brought down before the Bin can finally pass. Your ruling, Mr. Chairman, would prevent the submission of any amendment, however trivial, if likely to cause an increased expenditure. Therefore, following the clear practice of the House of Commons, by which we are bound when our Standing Orders do not apply, the Committee ought to dissent from it. Possibly if further time is given for consideration, you may be able to suggest some alteration of your ruling which will get us out of this difficulty. Although I wish to see amendments made in the Act, I am more deeply concerned about the far-reaching effects of your ruling, because, if upheld, it will greatly limit our powers in dealing with important measures.
– I ask honorable members to recollect that the Committee is one of reference. A measure has been referred to us, but we may deal with it only in the manner laid down by the Standing Orders, or, where they are deficient, in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons. The Committee is supreme within its own sphere, and I was glad to hear you, Mr. Chairman, say that the point at issue is to be decided by the Committee itself. It has been said that the ruling, if upheld, would cramp and limit the powers of the Committee. I deny that. It would limit the powers of .private members, but not those of the Committee. No one would desire to give to private members the powers exercised by those who hold positions of responsibility.
– There could be no Committee without private members.
– Private members form only part of the Committee.
– The honorable member would make Ministers the whole Committee.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting me. I have not said anything which could bear that construction. My desire is that the interests of the people should be properly safeguarded, which would be impossible if all the members of the Committee had the powers of Ministers.
– No one suggested that.
– The honorable member said that I suggest that Ministersshould be made the whole Committee. I support your ruling, Mr. Chairman, feeling that it is along the line of safety. We should be careful not to adopt a precedent which might afterwards be found’ dangerous. Private members should not be able to launch a proposal which might cost the country hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– Such a proposal could not be carried unless a majority were in favourof it.
– It might be carried on a snatch vote.. In my opinion, the proposed new clause is in the same position as the amendment of the honorable- member, and I think, therefore, that the Government should have brought down a message from the Governor-General. I know that such messages may be brought down after a Bill has been dealt with in Committee, but the proper time to introduce them is earlier than that, so as to give the fullest opportunity for the discussion of proposals of expenditure.
– 1 wish to call your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the procedure of the House of Commons. If it is to be followed here, the Bill is not properly before us. According to the Ilansard report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 27th May. 1908, moved -
That it is expedient to provide for old-age pensions, and to authorize the payment out of moneys provided by the Parliament of any expenses incurred for that purpose, and connected therewith.
That is a clear formal motion, such as the honorable member for Adelaide had in mind.
– The question before the chair is a motion to dissent from my ruling, and not whether the Bill itself is or is not in order.
– If you will allow me to do so, I shall show that the matter I am dealing with is relevant. In that particular case, the Bill was preceded by a resolution in general terms, and Mr. Chaplin, the honorable member for Wimbledon, took the point of order that the Bill ought to be brought down before the resolution. He said - i do not quite understand . . . whether the passing of this resolution is a necessary preliminary or not of the introduction of the Bill.
Mr. Lloyd George replied i am advised so.
Upon that, there was a discussion. The resolution was agreed to, and, subsequently, the Bill was brought down. We are in a much stronger position in this case, because this Bill has not been preceded by a resolution, although, according to the practice of the House of Commons, that is necessary for a Bill of this kind.
– Supposing there is a doubt upon the matter, does the honorable member want to stop the Bill on that account? It will not invalidate the Bill.
– We claim the right to amend this measure in the direction we speak of. Notwithstanding the fact that the British Old-age Pensions Bill was preceded By a resolution, which, in itself, showed that it was a taxing measure, private members in the House of Commons moved amendments which aimed at increasing the charge upon the revenue.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45 ‘p.in.
– Upon the second reading of the Old-age Pensions Bill in the British House of Commons, Mr.- Bridgeman, member for Shropshire, Oswestry,, moved an amendment which would have had the effect of increasing the expenditure b)’ ?800,000 a year. That is recorded in. Hansard of June 29, 1908, page 383 of Vol. 191. The circumstances under which he moved that amendment are preciselyanalogous to these, except that in that case a specific motion had been moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he declared was necessary before the Bill could be brought in. That motion was a recognition that the Bill was a Bill appropriating, or imposing a charge upon, the revenue. It was a general authorization. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, regarding the amendment -
The honorable gentleman had said that hisamendment would cost only a trifle of ,?800,000, but it was a very serious thing to propose to add ?800,000 to the already heavy burden of financing a scheme of this kind.
The amendment was then discussed at considerable length, and was eventually put and lost. No point of order was taken as to whether it was in order or not. We must, therefore, assume that it was in order.
– It certainly shows the practice of the British House of Commons.
– Yes. During the course of the discussion, both on the motion and on the second reading, a number of amendments were moved by private members, many of which had the effect of still more greatly increasing the charge upon the revenue. In. face of this, the most recentauthoritative precedent as to the procedure in the House of Commons, your ruling ought not to stand. I admit that the matter might be open for argument if the case were not so clearly established, both in May and by the actual practice of the House of Commons. The latter is much more to the point and ought to be given greater consideration than any declaration by May. May, of course, is an authority, compiled from the rulings and the precedents laid down in the- House, but here is a recent precedent directly applicable to the case before us, where a member of the Commons proposed to increase the charge upon the revenue. A private member was permitted to move an amendment which would increase that charge by £800,000 a year. I submit that we must follow that precedent, the more especially when to depart from it is to take from honorable members a right which they have always enjoyed, and which they exercised without challenge during every stage of the consideration of the principal Act. The right honorable member for East Sydney said the point to be. decided was not a technical one at all. He submitted that the Bill did impose a charge - that, in consequence, the Bill was not properly before the Committee - and that it followed as a matter of course that Parliament would have to honour the obligation which it incurred by passing the Bill. I say most emphatically that that is to mis-state and misunderstand completely the nature of parliamentary procedure. It is to say, in so many words, that an assessment measure and a taxation measure are practically the same. We know them to be distinctly different. It is notorious that legislation has been passed in many cases imposing obligations on the Parliament which Parliament later on has not honoured. This measure is either a measure imposing a charge - in which case it is improperly before us - or it is not, in which case it is a mere machinery Bill, which there can be no possible doubt as to our power to amend. In either case we may amend it, because if it be a Bill imposing a charge in the same way as the British measure was, -then, upon the precedent clearly created in the House of Commons, we can amend it in the direction of increasing the charge, and if, on the other hand, it be a mere machinery measure, we can clearly amend it by the exercise of our right to amend legislation in general. Your ruling, sir, creates a most monstrous condition of affairs. If it be upheld, we must either accept the Bill as a whole or reject it as a whole, far the only* way in which we can amend it is to make every old man and old woman who is a beneficiary under this legislation worse off than they are to-day. During the whole course of my parliamentary experience, such a ruling has not been given in connexion with a matter of this kind. If it were a direct taxation measure, I admit that your ruling would apply. The honorable member for Adelaide quoted a case which showed that where the resolution was in general terms and not specific it was competent for a private member to move an amendment which increased the charge upon the revenue. What is the position at the present time? The principal Act was assented to on 10th June, 1908, and on the same date the Royal assent was given to the Old-age Pensions Appropriation Act, under which an appropriation of £750,000 was made. That is the only appropriation for this purpose of which .we have any knowledge, and if it preceded the passing of the Old-age Pensions Bill, then the amendments that were made in that Bill were made after the appropriation had been agreed to. In any case, amendments which might have had the effect of increasing the proposed charge or burden on the people’ were moved, and no objection was taken to their submission. The Government propose by their own measure to increase the amount payable under the principal Act to an unknown extent, but they have absolutely no authority to pay one penny beyond that which is specifically appropriated by the Old-age Pension Appropriation Act of 1908. I submit, therefore, that the proposed amendment would not create a charge upon the Treasury of id. more than that appropriation permits. Before id. more can be paid, there must be a further appropriation, and since that appropriation must be initiated in this House, it follows that what we are proposing now is to agree to a propositionwhich may or may not subsequently be ratified. 1 submit, therefore, that the amendment is in order At page 580, of May, tenth edition, we have the statement -
The constitutional principle which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility over national expenditure, and which forbids the Commons to increase the sums demanded by the Crown for the service of the State (see p. 532) is strictly enforced in the Committees of Supply, and Ways and Means. . . . No amendment can, therefore, be proposed, whether by a Minister of the Crown, or by any other member, to increase the amount of a grant beyond the sum specified in the estimate.
Nothing which the Government, or any non-official member of the House may do, can give power to pay one penny more than the amount appropriated. But this is not a Committee of Ways and Means, and we are not proposing to create a. charge. Subject to the approval of the House later on, we propose to give to certain persons not now included in the Bill a right which they formerly did not possess. Whether or not that right involves an impost upon the revenue will depend upon whether or not we have the money to permit it to be observed. The amendment is, in effect, the same as the provision in sub-section 2 of section 15 of the principal Act, which declares that, upon proclamation by the Governor-General, that ‘ sub-section under which women shall have the right to claim pensions at the age of sixty instead of sixty-five years, shall come into force. The section was worded in that way so. thatwhen the money was available, women would be able to draw the pension on reaching the earlier age. I ask the Attorney-General, whether there is any appropriation other than that of the 10th June, 1908, under which £750,000 is set aside for the payment of old-age pensions? Have we an appropriation of the general revenue ?
– There is already a notice on the paper.
– I submit that we ought to follow the practice of this House as well as the practice of the House of Commons. If your ruling be upheld, Mr. Chairman, I can hardly conceive of a measure in connexion with which honorable members will not be deprived of the right to make an amendment in the direction you have mentioned. How can one say what will be the effect of the amendment? The honorable member for Darling has pointed out that further amendments may be proposed which will have the effect of decreasing the proposed charge. We have either to accept what the Government bring down, or we have to vote against any amendment. That is the situation under your ruling, and it would place the Committee in a very unfortunate position. As it is, it would be perfectly competent for an honorable member to move the omission of a clause, the absence of which would render the Bill void for want of particularity, since it would not prescribe to whom the pensions should be payable. We may do that yet - we may not liberalize the measure in any way. Those who vote in support of your ruling, Mr. Chairman, will saddle themselves with the responsibility of taking from the Committee the right to make this measure that which the people are entitled to expect.
– That is a very unfair statement of the position.
– It is absolutely true. If such a method of restricting discussion were carried out generally, Parliament would be reduced to a nullity; we should merely be able to vote like automata. I am anxious to ascertain whether we are not able to pay pensions to those who have reached the age at which the Commonwealth and the States declare their servants may be retired; yet we cannot obtain such an expression of opinion in this Committee. Yet an ordinary resolution might be moved, putting on record the opinion of honorable members, in precisely the same way as is proposed in the amendment, and it would have the same force at law; unless it were backed up by an Appropriation Bill, it would not enable the pensions to ‘be paid. I hope that your ruling, Mr. Chairman, will be dissented from, and that we shall have an opportunity to test the feeling of the Committee. Whether the amount is large or small the principle involved is the same. Honorable members cannot justify their action in supporting your ruling by the excuse that the amount involved may be very great. There is a big principle at stake. It is clear that it is recognised in the British Parliament, and that it was followed this time last year in the British House of Commons, where a member was permitted to move an amendment involving an expenditure of £800,000. I hope that the same right will be extended to honorable members of this House.
– I think that the precedent which the honorable member for West Sydney quoted from the House of Commons practice is unanswerable. TheAttorneyGeneral also put the position very clearly when he pointed out that the Bill,, as it stands, is in order. To my mind, the Government acted rightly in introducing it before bringing down a message from> the Crown. It is impossible to say what expenditure it will involve, and, consequently, they have deferred” bringing downthe message until they can ascertain what the additional expenditure is likely to be. I fail to see how honorable members can agree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I remember introducing a Bill into the SouthAustralian House of Assembly, to provide- for the payment of a minimum wage of 7s. per day. There was then on record a resolution of Parliament that the minimumwage should be 6s. per day. That being so, the Bill that I introduced provided for an increased charge upon the people; but it was not challenged.
– The absence of a challenge does not create a rule.
– The Government of the day were opposed to the measure, and if it had not been in order, I am sure that objection would have been taken to it.
– They might have been paying more than 7s. per day.
– In many instances they did pay more, but under the Bill they could not pay less than 7s. per day. That Bill was ultimately passed, and 7s. is the minimum wage under the law in South Australia to-day.
– What were the wages paid previously?
– From 6s. a day for labourers up to 9s. There was not a word of dissent during the whole of that debate, although the Government were opposed to the measure on the ground that the finances were not in a condition to stand the strain. I feel quite sure that had the parliamentary practice been such as is now sought to be laid down, the Government would have taken very good care to stop the discussion. Do we come here only as destroyers of any measure the Government may bring forward - unable to amend a measure, no matter how defective it may be, or how just may be the proposed alterations?
-Private members could not alter the Tariff.
– Undoubtedly we could ; and it was so ruled by the honorable member for Riverina when he was Chairman of Committees.
– I think the ruling’ related to the substitution of one duty for another.
– The ruling of the then Chairman of Committees was that a private member could move to increase a duty ; and on the ruling being challenged, it was upheld by Mr. Speaker.
– There have been rulings often enough to the contrary.
– No honorable member has vet quoted such a ruling. I am reluctant to disagree with the Chairman of Committees ; but we are in a serious position if we must accept any kind of measure any Government may submit - if all we can do is to take away or destroy, although the Government themselves may be willing to see justice done when they hear argument.
– We are all in favour of justice !
– The difference is that we, on th.s side, are in favour of doing justice, whereas the Chairman’s ruling, if upheld, will prevent justice being done tq a large section of the community. The position is so impossible that I cannot understand a single member voting in favour of a ruling which means our abrogating our functions as representatives. In my opinion there is nothing to prevent any amendment the Committee may choose to make in the Bill; the only point is that the Government later on may, or may not, decide to bring down a message to cover the expenditure. I have heard no argument to destroy the previous ruling to which I have referred, or to cause us to disregard the practice of the House of ‘ Commons, and the practice of every State Parliament.
– I am sure-
– The honorable member again.
– The Treasurer does not do himself justice in suggesting, that a second brief effort is not warranted on such an important question. This importance may not appeal to the right honorable gentleman at the present moment ; but possibly, at a later period, it may, and in such circumstances I am sure his normal generosity will return, and he will be the first to thank those members who endeavoured, successfully or otherwise, to place before the Committee the position in the fullest possible light. If honorable members bear in mind the fact that the ruling touches, not only the Bill under discussion, but also a very large percentage of the Bills which must subsequently be submitted, it is possible their decision may be different from what it otherwise might be. The ruling will be permanent, and will, in the future, control and guide every Bill wherein the question of “ expenditure, large or small, is raised. This is a feature honorable members should bear in mind, ‘as a. reason for submitting the question to Mr. Speaker for a final decision which we can all accept as binding, instead of our having a decision ‘of the Committee only, which” may, in the immediate future, on some other Bill, be questioned, and then have to be submitted to Mr. Speaker. Honorable members may, in the future, have a Bill before them which proposes expenditure in some direction, and in which they seek to make an amendment, slight or otherwise ; and the ruling of the Chair, if to-night upheld, may result in an entirely different situation from that in which we now are. Such a Bill may, in its main features, be approved of by other sections of the House, but their liberty will be confined and cabined by the ruling given ; and, manifestly, if they happen to be in a majority, the ruling will not be allowed to guide them, and, as I say, there will be an immediate appeal to Mr. Speaker. The point having been raised, it seems to me that we might, on this first occasion, secure as far as we can a final decision, so as to prevent future discussion. However, I have grave doubts whether honorable members will uphold the ruling, which, as I understand it, means that no non-official member is permitted to move such a resolution or amendment as will impose taxation or make an increase in the charges on the general revenue. If that be the situation, singularly enough there was a precisely , similar one brought about in 1901 on a motion submitted by the honorable member for Kennedy, the present Chairman of Committees. That motion of the honorable member was distinctly and without any equivocation to increase taxation, and was more pointed in its effect than are the amendments proposed to-day, whereby the charge on the revenue is of a doubtful character, and is not to be enforced in any shape or form unless the Ministry afterwards, of their own volition, bring down a recommendation from the Governor-General.
– When was this?
– In 1901 ; and on that occasion the honorable member for Kennedy submitted an amendment on the Tariff to the effect that a certain duty of is. 6d. should be increased by is.
– In 1901 ! The evolution of political education in eight years is something wonderful !
– Why, the right honorable gentleman just prior to the dinnerhour was quoting from records of the year 1840, or thereabouts ! Here we have a precedent established in our own Chamber.
– One of our own Chairman’s rulings, that has never been disturbed !
– This apparently is a matter which the honorable member thinks should be thoroughly discussed ! Hansard should be thoroughly searched !
– I am of- opinion that every authority should be thoroughly] searched before we permit a limitation of the privileges of this Parliament, such as will be enforced if the ruling of the Chairman is upheld. I believe that the honorable member for Parramatta would be one of the first to object to any curtailment of the privileges he at present enjoys, or of any of the rights of Parliament ; from my reading of Hansard the honorable member took the fullest possible advantage of all the privileges the Standing Orders gave him when he was on this side of the House. In 1 90 1, the honorable member for Kennedy submitted the following amendment -
That the item is. 6d. be increased by is.
That was a distinct proposal to increase a duty, a specific and pointed increase of a charge on the people. The honorable member for Wide Bay at once took exception to the amendment, his action then’ being in keeping with that which we are now taking. He said - -
I desire to ask the Chairman’s ruling as to whether the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kennedy is in order, and whether that question can be submitted to the Committee. I ask for a ruling upon the point before we proceed with any further discussion.
The right honorable member for East Sydney, who took part in the debate which followed, then expressed a view quite antagonistic to that which he appears to take now. He said -
Now that the point is raised, I would suggest that it should go to the Speaker, and, instead of having a long debate in the House, the case might be very briefly put from each stand-point. I should be very willing to facilitate the decision of the matter in as brief a space of time as possible, consistently with its importance.
Is not the point which has been raised tonight of sufficient importance to justify us in following the same course again?
– The motion before the Chair is not for an appeal to Mr. Speaker.
– We are willing to withdraw the motion before the Chair if Mr. Chairman will permit us to do so.
– Yes; and if we shall receive the support of the right honorable member for East Sydney to a motion asking for the ruling of Mr. Speaker.
– Mr. Chairman objects to that.
– Does the right honorable member ?
– I follow the Chairman.
– On the occasion to which I am referring, the right honorable member went on to say -
As we have discussed the point so long, that is a very sensible suggestion, and two or three brief speeches on either side should do.
– Hear, hear ! “ Brief speeches.”
– I shall at once resume my seat if honorable members will agree to appeal to Mr. Speaker. Those who “today object to that course were prominent in 1901 in demanding a decision from Mr. Speaker. The point now under discussion is as important as the point under discussion then. An appeal to Mr. Speaker would result in a final decision, which we cannot get if a majority supports the ruling of Mr. Chairman. On the occasion to which I am referring, the honorable member for Kennedy said -
I think the honorable member for Wide Bay is taking the correct course in proposing, sir, that if you rule in favour of my- motion to increase the duty the point should be referred to the Speaker.
How entirely positions are now reversed ! To-night, Mr. Chairman, you object to this matter going to Mr. Speaker. The honorable member continued -
I believe that that would settle the point in the most expeditious manner.
It would do so now. But to-night, Mr. Chairman, you object to an appeal to Mr. Speaker.
– Why does not the honorable member accept Mr. Chairman’s ruling?
– The right honorable member would not do so.
– I have always done so.
– I wonder that honorable members opposite did not prepare a Bill containing this provision when they had the chance.
– Is it to oppose the amendment that the Government is maintaining Mr. Chairman’s ruling?
– I would remind theTreasurer that the position may be reversed within a few months, and that the decision of Mr. Chairman is far reaching. A little later the Treasurer . may find himself amongst the minority. ‘ If he does, he will exhaust his parliamentary rights in the effort to get his own way. The honorable member for Riverina was Chairman in 1901, and ruled clearly and definitely’ that a private member has the right to move a motion imposing an increase of dutyand so imposing an extra charge upon the people. He quoted various authorities, and, amongst others, the following passage from page 711 of Todd’s Parliamentary Government in England -
The general question of a revision of a certain class of duties having been submitted to the House by the Crown, it is perfectly competent to any member, in committee of ways and means, or in committee of the whole House, upon the Customs or Inland Revenue Acts, to offer an amendment to a particular rate of duty proposed to be levied, either for the increase or diminution of the same ; it may even be proposed to insert in the schedule a new rate of duty, provided it relates to an article which is already included therein.
In that passage one of the highest authorities on parliamentary practice laid it down that it is possible for a private member to do that which you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled to-night that we are not permitted to do. The practice of the House of ‘ Commons at the present time, and the practice of this Committee until tonight, has been contrary to that declared by you, Mr. Chairman. The . practice of this Committee was . laid down by the honorable . member for Riverina when Chairrnan, and -his ruling was supported by Mr. Speaker. The ‘late right honorable C. C. Kingston, Sir George Turner, the right honorable member for East Sydney, and other distinguished members took part in the debate, and urged the reference of the point to Mr. Speaker for final decision.
– What was the question submitted to Mr. Speaker?
– Whether a private member has the right to move an amendment imposing a charge upon the people. It was more specific than is this case. Our amendments, unless the Ministry are agreeable to them, may never again see the light of day. They are only abstract, and not concrete. The case I am referring to is a concrete one.
– Would not the Government be bound to carrv out the law ?
– I am not expressing an opinion upon that point. Even if every amendment submitted this evening upon the Bill is carried, and makes an additional charge upon the people or the revenue, it lies with the Government to secure a recommendation from the Governor-General that those charges should be imposed, and if they neglect or fail to do so, or disagree with, the policy of doing so, those amendments will- have absolutely no more effect than would an abstract resolution covering the pious aspiration of some private member. “ The ruling of Mr. Speaker on that occasion, was as follows : -
I may say 1 have known for some four weeks past that this question would arise at some stage of the proceedings on the Tariff, and I have, therefore, given it very careful consideration. When first this was made known to me, I at once conceived that the idea of any. unofficial member proposing an increase of an item of taxation asked for by the Crown was contrary to the spirit of parliamentary government, the spirit of parliamentary government being that the Crown asks for an impost to be made on the people, and the- people’s representatives in Parliament consider the request of the Crown, and mav grant the request, or may grant a lesser amount, but would not conceivably give <o the Crown a larger sum than the Crown asks should be imposed. When, however, I went from the question of the spirit of parliamentary government to the practice which has grown up as parliamentary institutions have developed, I am obliged to admit that in the House of Commons, which is the standard of our proceedings, where it is not otherwise set out in our Standing Orders the practice of proposing imposts on items not suggested as subjects of taxation by the Crown, and of proposing increases on items which are suggested as subjects of taxation, has sprung up, and that on several occasions, without any objection being taken, new taxes have been proposed by unofficial members, and increases on details of new taxes suggested by the Government. . . . There are cases which I am quite prepared to quote, but which, I understand, the Chairman has already cited. One case dates back to 1S40, and another can be seen in Hansard, vol. i, 218, page 1041. Striving to interpret the practice of the House of Commons by the practice in other Parliaments, I find that in Canada the same course has been followed ; and also in Victoria, where attention was called to the importance of the matter. In South Australia, according to Blackmore’s Practice of the House of Assembly, the practice was followed in 1870 and on other occasions. Therefore, ruling as I have to rule, that neither Standing Order 171 nor Standing Order 247 applies to this case - as we are now dealing with a resolution in Committee only, and the Bill stage will come later - and falling back on Standing Order No. 1, which incorporates the practice of the House of Commons, I am bound to decide that the Chairman has correctly determined the practice in this House, which is that duties on items may be increased, and that other items which are mentioned in the Tariff on which no duty is proposed may be proposed as subject for duty, and that in that way the House will have the freest possible hand in debating the Tariff.
– During the discussion of the last Tariff that order of procedure was reversed altogether in practice in Committee.
– If there has been a subsequent ruling of the Speaker reversing the practice at that time, that cuts away the ground from my argument, but, if not, the Speaker’s ruling ought to have been upheld in all subsequent Committees, and ought to guide this Committee-. Exceptional importance must be attached to this particular ruling, because the whole of the Speaker’s inclinations were in the opposite direction. He said : -
I may say I should have been better pleased to have decided the other way, had my duty permitted me so to decide, because I can see that the ruling I have given may tend to produce considerable discussion beyond that which otherwise would have taken place. But with the practice of the House of Commons before me, I can only rule, as I have ruled, that the Chairman is correct in his decision.
Nothing could be more emphatic and definite upon the point at issue. The whole subject is embraced within that ruling, which, by a peculiar coincidence, arose as the result of a motion submitted by yourself. I hope that in the circumstances honorable members will reconsider any decision which they had already arrived at, in order to secure a final decision from the Speaker. Unless we do so, whenever a Bill involving a . question of expenditure is submitted, and an amendment is moved, we shall possibly have hours of debate on its admissibility. It is even possible that at some future time you may not be in the chair, sir, and that we may again have in the chair the honorable: member who, in 1901, held your position to his credit and to the honour of his electors and the House. We may then have him giving an entirely different decision from that which you have given tonight. That would place the Committee in a very peculiar position, one in which it should not be put. I wish to emphasize now the point that I took hurriedly a. few moments before the dinner adjournment, because it is of exceptional importance. We are bound by the practice obtaining in the House of Commons, and the recognised authority the world over on that practice is May, who has been quoted with effect to-night to support the view taken by ‘the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I did not do justice then to the very definite language which he uses on page 564 of the eleventh edition. The right honorable member for East Sydney quoted from the tenth edition, but the wording is precisely the same there as in the eleventh. If he had gone a little further and had read what appears on pages 563 and 564 of the eleventh edition, under the heading of “No increase of sums demanded on behalf of the Crown,” he might have come to a differentconclusion. May there says : -
This principle, however, is apparently disregarded when the recommendation of the Crown is given to a’ resolution empowering the expenditure of public money which, framed in general terms, places no limitation on the amount of expenditure to be authorized by the resolution. As the resolution sanctions, without any specific limitation, the application of money to be provided by Parliament to certain purposes, when the clauses in a Bill founded upon such a resolution are before the Committee, the freedom of action sanctioned by that resolution can be exercised.
We have no such message. There is no limitation placed on the amount of expenditure, and consequently, we are justified, not only in assuming, but in saying, that we do not know what the limitations of the message will be when it comes down. In the first case, it is a question of a message coming down in general terms, and in such circumstances a private member is permitted to move to amend the Bill, so as to increase the charge upon the revenue. In this case, however, we have no recommendation whatever from the Crown, and, therefore, we do not know whether, when it does come down, it will be in specific or general terms. As a matter of fact, the Ministry themselves are not able to limit their recommendation. Had they brought one down prior to the introduction qf the Bill, it must necessarily have been in general terms, for they do not know themselves the extent of their proposals. We have merely a rough estimate from the Treasurer that the increased expenditure will be about £34,000. If any more definite declaration is required, it is supplied in these words : -
The Committee is not bound by the terms of the provisions which the Ministers of the Crown have inserted in the bill.
– That is assuming a message.
– It assumes that there is a message in general terms. In this case we do not know the limitations of the message.
– The point is that there is no message. Its absence only raises the question whether the Bill is properly before the Committee.
– I understand that the Chairman has already ruled that the Bill is properly before the Committee. We have no message limiting the proposed expenditure or in any way specifying it. so that clearly we are in a better position than was the House of Commons at the time of the particular point dealt with by May.
– I do not think that the messages do place any limitation when they come down, so that the honorable member is in no better position upon that argument.
– The practice has grown up in this House that messages need not precede Bills of this kind. That, indeed, is clearly laid down in section 56 . of the Constitution. When the Attorney-General assists me by saying that, even when the messages are brought down, they are not specific, I can only reply that it is reasonable to believe, as May states clearly, that the recommendations may’ or may not be specific, but that the reverse is the practice in the House of Commons. What shall be the practice here is a matter entirely for Ministers, because they are not limited in any shape or form. May states that -
Any member may propose an increase of the grants specified in these clauses, or to extend the application of the provisions of the Bill -
Surely that is clear enough. We can extend -the application of the provisions of the Bill- whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom.
If May had been writing on the very point at issue to-day, he could not have used clearer or simpler language. In such circumstances, I venture to believe that honorable members will approve of the motion, so that, without any reflection upon you, Mr. Chairman, the question may go for final decision to Mr. Speaker. Dealing with the subject of public money, May, at page 571, has this statement -
In such cases the principle of the Bill is discussed, and if approved on behalf of the Crown, the necessary pecuniary provision is subsequently made; otherwise further progress of the Bill is prevented by the refusal of the Royal recommendation. In like manner, motions advocating public expenditure, or the imposition of a charge, if the motion be framed in sufficiently abstract and general terms, can be entertained, and agreed to by the House. Resolutions of this nature are permissible because, having no operative effect, no grant is made, or burthen imposed by their adoption.
The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay does not impose a burden upon the people.
– Surely, if the Bill means anything, it will?
– In the parliamentary sense, it does not.
– With great respect, I say that that is a quibble.
– I think not. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in order to substantiate the position he took up, quoted from May. I also have referred to the same authority, and have shown that it is clearly laid down that, so far as our present situation is concerned, at all events, the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay does not of itself impose a burden upon the taxpayers or a charge upon the revenue. Such a burden is only imposed if the proposal meets with the approval of the Crown, and Ministers in their wisdom, seek a recommendation from the Governor-General. I am sorry to have spoken at such length, but the importance of the ruling is so great, and its effect will be so far-reaching, that 1 think we are justified in searching all the authorities, and exhausting all possible avenues, in order that we may obtain a decision which will be final, and can be accepted by the House. I hope that on this occasion ‘ honorable members will not give anything approaching a party vote, but that they will, if only to conserve the time of the House in future, allow Mr. Speaker, he being the only authority, the final decision of such an important matter.
– Has the honorable member any other authority that he can quote? I am getting a bit weak in regard to the position. Has he quoted from the 1902 edition of -May?
– Perhaps the peculiar mental condition of the honorable member will be fully explained, if not exposed, when I remind him that I quoted from the tenth edition of M ay, . published in 1903, and, later on, quoted from the eleventh edition, published in 1906. There is no edition published in 1902, as he jocularly suggested. In such circumstances, his condition of mind will be exposed, and not to his credit. I hope that the motion will be agreed to, in order that we may obtain a final decision. If the point is not now referred to Mr. Speaker, your decision, sir, must of necessity be debated hereafter, because of the fact that in 1901 the honorable member for Wakefield, who still presides over the deliberations of the House, gave a different ruling, and it is not known whether his opinion on this most important subject is changed. In the circumstances, I can, with the greatest confidence, ask that, irrespective of party considerations, the motion to disagree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, be approved of.
– I am sorry to have to intervene at this stage, but, in justice to myself, I deem it necessary to make an explanation, in view of the speech just made by the honorable member for Adelaide. The honorable member’s remarks may have left on the minds of honorable members the impression that it was merely because I had moved to increase a duty, on the occasion in question, that I desired the point of order to be referred to Mr. Speaker for settlement. I am sure that the honorable member did not. deliberately seek to convey such an impression, but probably he had not read the whole of the debate that took place. On referring to Hansard, he will see that there was considerable discussion as to the right of a non-official member to propose an increase of duty. In the circumstances, I told the honorable member for Wide Bay that I would deliberately move an increase of duty, in order that the question might be settled. Honorable members will find that, at pa’ge 7132 of Hansard for 1901, I. am reported to have said -
A good deal of time has been wasted on this matter, and the debate from the beginning has been carried on in a very irregular way. If we are allowed to discuss in this way a question which has really never been before the Chair, it will lead only to a good deal of trouble in Committee and in the House generally. In order to test the question, I move -
That the duty be increased by the sum of1s.
I took up then the position that I take up to-day in regard to the reference of the question to Mr. Speaker. I said later on -
I wish to point out that the Chairman has already ruled that it is competent for an honorable member to move for the increase of a duty upon any particular item. If this matter be referred to Mr. Speaker, he may give a diametrically opposite decision. We shall thus have two rulings which are in conflict. If the Speaker decides that the Chairman is wrong, will the latter have to withdraw his ruling?
– Certainly, and very naturally so.
– I merely wish to point out that we are not placing the Chairman in a fair position. I think that the Committee should have settled this matter by vote straight away.
I merely refer to the report of the debate in order that honorable members may clearly understand that I took up the position that I have taken up to-day.
– The excellent speech delivered by the honorable member for Adelaide was somewhat marred, Mr. Chairman, by a. personal reference to yourself, and to the position you occupy. The honorable member suggested that in the next Parliament the position of Chairman of Committees would probably be occupied by some one else, who would reverse your decision on the point of order now raised. Such a remark might well have been left unsaid. I am certain that had it been made by an honorable member on this side of the House, it would have been construed by the Opposition into a veiled threat that something would happen if a decision adverse to the view of our party were given by you. I do not suggest that the honorable member had such an idea in his mind at the time, but his remarks were certainly likely to give rise to that impression. Our debates should be entirely free from any statement that might be construed or misconstrued into a veiled threat of reprisal against an officer who conscientiously gives a decision, which may be opposed to the opinions that we ourselves hold.
– If the Chairman himself regarded the remark as a joke, why should the honorable member take notice of it?
– In this case there was no suggestion of jocularity. The remark was made seriously. But even jokes can be, and are often, made a vehicle for veiled threats. I am not suggesting that the honorable member desired to make anything in the nature of a veiled threat, but I sincerely hope that we shall not have recourse to such a method of procedure. We have also been urged to deal with this question from a non-party point of view. That is certainly most desirable, for the same point may arise in connexion with any Bill. There has been, however, a distinct attempt, cn the part of the honorable member for West Sydney, to give a party complexion to the votes of honorable members on the question of your ruling, Mr. Chairman. He went so far as to say that if honorable members dared to sustain your ruling, no matter how conscientiously they might vote, their action would be taken as adverse to the pensioners. That is a very improper attitude for the honorable member for West Sydney to take up, and it shows that there is an attempt on the part of certain honor able members of the Opposition, for electioneering purposes, to give a non-existent party complexion to this question. I resent their attitude very strongly, because it is well known that honorable members on this side are just as sympathetically disposed towards old-age pensioners as are members of the Opposition. But we would scorn to revert to such unworthy tactics. We can give a vote quite honestly adverse to the proposal before the Committee, and yet still be in thorough sympathy with the object of the suggested amendment.
– And the converse holds good.
– Exactly. Any stigma that may be sought to be cast on honorable members on this side for voting to uphold your ruling, must also rest on yourself, as a member of the Labour party, for having given the ruling; and I think it would have been much more desirable to refer the matter to the Speaker. However, since you, Mr. Chairman, have elected to leave the matter in the hands of the Committee, the responsibility rests with us to exercise our votes according to our consciences, quite irrespective of the Bill, in reference to which the point has been raised, because it could have been raised in connexion with any other Bill, and it is a mere accident of circumstance that the point arises in association with this particular Bill.
– It is the most important ruling that has been given in this House.
– I admit that ; and there is all the more reason why we should give a judgment quite irrespective of party considerations, and of the object - avowed or actual - of the proposed amendment. As to the power of private members to propose” amendments, which, although not directly in the nature of an increase, may have the effect of increasing taxation, I have followed carefully the arguments and quotations of the honorable member for Adelaide, and I think that he slopped short in some of the extracts he read us from May. Had the honorable member read a little further, he would have seen that another complexion was put on the matter - that the authority quoted seemed to sustain the ruling that has been given. The honorable member for Adelaide read the following words, which appear on page 532 of the roth edition, and page 564 of the nth edition of May: -
The Committee is not bound by the terms of the provisions which the Ministers of the Crown have inserted in the Bill; and any member may propose an increase of the grants specified in these classes or to extend the application of the provisions of the Bill, whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom, so long as . the power conferred by the Royal recommendation is not exceeded.
Those quotations relate to a Bill which is covered by a message from the Crown ; and there is no such message in the present instance.
Acting on this principle, when, in 1812, a committee was considering a message from the Prince Regent recommending, in general terms, provision to be made for the family of Mr. Spencer Perceval, amendments were permitted for , increasing the provision proposed by the Ministers ; and this practice has been supported by Tulings from the Chair, though, on the last occasion-
This is very important - not without remarks which deserve careful consideration.
The honorable member for Adelaide might have proceeded to the next paragraph, which has the marginal note, “ No proposal of new taxes except by a Minister” -
Responsibility of the Crown and Parliament regarding taxation.
The principle that the sanction of the Crown must be given to every grant of money drawnfrom the public revenue, applies equally to the taxation levied to provide that revenue. No motion can therefore be made to impose a tax, save by the Minister of the Crown, unless such tax be in substitution, by way of equivalent, for taxation at that moment submitted to the consideration of Parliament; nor can the amount of a tax proposed on behalf of the Crown be augmented, nor any alteration made in the area of imposition. In like manner, no increase can be considered by the House, except on the initiative of a Minister, acting on behalf of the Crown, either of an existing, or of a new or temporary tax for the service of the year; nor can a member other than a Minister move for the introduction of a Bill framed to effect a reduction of duties, which would incidentally effect the increase of an existing duty, or the imposition of a new tax, although the aggregate amount of imposition would be diminished by the provisions of the Bill.
– Does that not refer to a direct money Bill? .
– Not necessarily..
– Look at the exemptions on the next page.
– I do not see that what is written on the next page has really anything to do with the matter. The point 1 wish to make is that, although the amendment is not a direct proposal to increase taxation, it is of such a character that in its operation it will possibly, and very probably, have the effect of increasing taxation. Indeed, that it will do so, has been admitted. It certainly will have the effect of greatly increasing the charge on the public revenue ; and that, I take it, is tantamount in all respects to an increase of taxation. So far as I remember, the practice ever since I became a member of this House has been that no private member may propose an increase of taxation or of duties. The honorable member for Hindmarsh argued that it was quite permissible for a private member to move an increase of duties or taxes; but we find it specifically laid down in May that no increase can “be proposed except by a Minister. That principle was laid down in discussions on the Tariff, and has always been acted upon when we have been dealing with the Budget or Estimates.
– That is admitted ; even a Minister cannot propose an increase in the Estimates.
– Not without submitting revised Estimates. Under all the circumstances, it seems to me that you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled in accordance with the practice for many years past, but, at the same time, I certainly think that, instead of the responsibility being thrown on the Committee to decide on the correctness of your ruling, it would have been better to have Mr. Speaker’s decision.
– I do not propose to follow the example of the honorable member for Lang, and other honorable members opposite, in quoting long extracts from authorities which have, in very many instances, but a remote bearing on the question. Under the circumstances that presented themselves this afternoon you, Mr. McDonald, were wise in taking a somewhat conservative view of the privileges of the Committee, and in throwing on honorable members, either in Committee or through the Speaker, the responsibility of saying what shall be the practice. The Committee is invited by your ruling to make a precedent for themselves - to lay down a rule for your guidance. The question is whether the Committee is going to deprive themselves of powers, or to arm itself with the amplest privilege. A good deal is to be said in favour of extending the powers of the Committee. Any rule laid down at the present time must govern our proceedings in regard to, not only the Bill now before us, but all other Bills. The Committee would, therefore, be wise in taking the largest powers. It would be absurd to tie its hands merely to burk the discussion of the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay. If that is not discussed now, it can be discussed subsequently on a specific motion. Therefore, I appeal to honorable members to look at this matter entirely as it affects the powers of the Committee, and to deal with the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay on its merits.
– While I wish to have a vote on the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, the ruling of Mr. Chairman is of much greater importance. I am surprised that the right honorable member for East Sydney is not in favour of giving the Committee the fullest freedom .
– That is my inclination, but we must be guided by authority.
– In my view, Mr. Chairman’s ruling limits the powers of honorable members in a way in which no previous ruling has done.
– I have had Bills ruled out of order for much less reason.
– We are concernednow, not with the particular Bill before the Committee, but with the rights of the Committee. The ruling of Mr. Chairman in regard to this Bill will, if upheld, apply to .all subsequent Bills.
– Does the honorable member forget the decision which, as temporary Chairman, he gave regarding the right of private members to move to increase duties and taxes?
– Whenever I have acted as temporary Chairman, I have endeavoured to give expression to the views of the Chairman, not to my personal views. It would be ridiculous for a temporary Chairman, “drest in a little brief authority,” to give a ruling contrary to that of the Chairman. This is not a matter for party strife. Does not the right honorable member see that if, as he admits, there is a doubt, the decision should lie in the interests of freedom? Why should we limit our powers? In dealing with a Defence Bill we shall be in the same position as we are in with regard to this Bill. We shall be unable,’ not merely to obtain a decision on proposed amendments, but even to get an opportunity for their discussion. Whether the proposal of the” honorable member for Wide Bay be right or wrong, it is certainly wrong that he should be prevented from discussing it. Mr. Chairman’s ruling strikes at the roots of parliamentary freedom, and gags the Committee. If it is to hold good, we shall not be able to do anything more than accept or reject the proposals o£ the Government. This is not a party question, though the Treasurer has made it so. It is despicable for the Government to use a temporary majority to destroy the privileges of the Committee. I would not be guilty of such conduct.
– How is the Labour party going to vote? As solid as a rock !
– The Leader of the Labour party has moved a certain amendment, but is prevented from ascertaining the views of the Committee in regard to it. Can we do anything less than vote solidly with our leader on his proposal ?
– Is not that making a party question of this matter?
– The party will vote solidly for the amendment of its leader, if it gets the opportunity. I do not know whether it will vote solidly on the motion dissenting from the ruling of the Chairman.
– I know.
– Has the honorablemember been whipping?
– I know that men from our side are going to vote with the Labour party, and that none of the members of the ‘Labour party are going to vote with us.
– The Chairman, from whose ruling we wish to dissent, is a member of the Labour party. Of course, if honorable members opposite are voting solidly against us, and the honorable member is whipping up a majority to support the ruling of the Chairman, that makes it a party question,
– The honorable member said that the Treasurer is guilty of a despicable action in making this a party question. I interjected that some of our members are going to vote with the Labour party, to show that we are not making it a party question.
– We are not going to take the honorable member’s law against our own opinions and the ruling of the Chairman.
– I do not ask the Committee to do so, but every honorable member is interested in maintaining the right of the Committee to discuss any proposal relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill.
A decision upholding the Chairman’s ruling will lessen our powers to such an extent that I hope that honorable members will not allow the Whip to influence their votes.
– That is not a fair imputation.
– I appeal to honorable members not to allow the party whip to be cracked, but to consider first what is due to the privileges of the Committee.
– I agree with the honorable member for Boothby that the question is one of abstract principle, as affecting the practice of the Committee, and will have application beyond the immediate issue upon which it has been raised. I agree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and think it ought to be upheld in the interests of parliamentary practice. The honorable mem- % ber for Adelaide used a long argument regarding the increase of items in the Tariff. He seemed to think that that settled the question, because it had been ruled that the Committee might increase taxes which had been proposed. He thought that applied to this case; but I apprehend that it does not. This is a case of a proposal made bv the responsible Government, who have to provide the ways and means, and if any private member in the Committee can secure a majority to impose an outlay of ten or twenty thousand pounds, or more, without having the responsibility of finding the money, it is a most dangerous principle, which it would be most unfortunate to establish. At the present time, especially, I would warn honorable members that they ought to walk warily. We are proceeding at an alarming rate of progression in our public expenditure.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I wish merely to point my argument, which is that honorable members ought to be careful how they interfere with the responsibility of the Government to find the money. If we vote expenditure in the way proposed, without making provision for it, we place the Government in a wrong position. That is a very awkward principle, and when I tell honorable members that the public expenditure of the whole of Australia has increased in seven years by £7,500,000-
– Order ! The honorable member must not introduce that matter into the discussion of the motion to disagree with my ruling. If he proceeds ‘on those lines, I must allow other honorable members to follow him, and there will be no finality to the debate.
– I am merely illustrating the importance of the principle. If expenditure is allowed to be increased by irresponsible parties in the House, we mayinvolve the country in very serious financial trouble. That is why I mentioned the extent to which our public expenditure is increasing. Your ruling is sound, and in accordance with all parliamentary principles. I should be sorry if the Committee, apart from party feeling altogether, and apart from the sympathy which we all have with the old-age pensions scheme, were to stultify itself “By disregarding a wellrecognised and absolutely necessary principle of parliamentary Government.
– If the honorable member for Mernda had been present, he would have heard our reply over and over again to the position that he has taken up.
– I have been here, and have listened for hours.
– I do not think the honorable member has been here, or he would have known that it has been pointed out over and over again that the responsible Government of which he speaks will still have control of the matter, whatever the Committee may do. The honorable member poses as an authority, but he has quoted no authorities, and the answer to his assertions is clear. The Government still have control ; they have not brought forward the appropriation; they have not brought down the Governor-General’s message; and they can decline to carry out the decision of the Committee. Let us consider what the position would be on any similar measure. I want to keep clear of a discussion of the Bill itself, and I regret that some honorable members opposite find it impossible to do so. We ought to decide this important point on its merits. If the Committee went further than the Government were prepared to find the money for, the honorable member knows that the Government could refuse to act. They could even drop the Bill, in defiance of the decision of the majority of the Committee.
– The honorable member does not want to lose the Bill, does he?
– The honorable member should keep clear of the Bill. Why should the Government side bring in the. question of the Bill, when they have so big a majority? No matter how solidly this side voted, we could not force the Government to do anything that they did not want to do. I do not know how members are going to vote on this question, but the situation is a serious one, and the effect will be most serious if your ruling is upheld. We all have great confidence in you, and in your knowledge of parliamentary practice; but, after listening to the debate, I feel that we are bound to vote against your ruling in this case if we are to observe the Standing Orders that we have ourselves adopted, because one of those Standing Orders provides that where the Standing Orders themselves are silent, we must follow the practice of the House of Commons. Cases have been quoted tonight to show that recently, when an Oldage Pensions Bill was before the House of Commons, a private member actually moved an amendment involving an additional expenditure of £800,000, and that no objection was raised to his action. The honorable member for Adelaide also quoted from May to show that private members have power in these cases to propose such amendments - a point which the honorable member for Mernda quite ignored when referring to the honorable member for Adelaide’s argument, although I do not see how he could ignore it. Nothing could be more explicit than the pas. sages which the honorable member for Adelaide quoted from May. Our case has been absolutely proved, and there has been no reply to it. The practice of the House of Commons undoubtedly shows that we have the right to propose amendments to increase expenditure.
– Apart from that, are honorable members prepared to limit their powers as private members in Committee?
– It seems most dangerous to limit ourselves in the work that we have to do, especially as the Government still retain control of the purse. They need not provide an appropriation, and in that way they still have power to defeat the decision even of a majority of the Committee. I do not know that they would be justified in doing so, but they undoubtedly have that power. If we uphold your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we shall close the door on ourselves with regard to many Bills that are already on the business paper. We shall not be able to add a line to them, unless the Government themselves agree to do it. We shall not be able even to move to do so, or to discuss the question. Every thing will have to be done by the Government. The Committee will have no say, and it will be of no use for us to sit here at all. We can only do less than what the Government propose, and it will be necessary to have an extremely Radical Government, which goes miles ahead of the wishes of the House. In that case, we should have a chance to cut down their proposals for expenditure. Under this ruling, we could not add to the Government proposals an amendment involving any additional expenditure whatever. Take as an illustration the proposal to establish a Bureau of Agriculture. Even if we all agreed that it would be desirable to add another Department to it, the Committee could not do so. No private member could propose it, and it would be left for the Government to move it. They might say that they had not the money, and the , Treasurer would hold the key of the position. We should be putting ourselves in the hands of an autocrat. The same question would arise in connexion with defence, which is a very big matter, involving large expenditure. The difference in our proposals might run into thousands of pounds, and yet the Committee dare not propose an amendment involving additional expenditure. Although we can give away battleships that cost millions, we could not propose the addition of a torpedo boat.
– And the ruling kills what is claimed for representative government.
– It would mean that the representatives whom the people have elected would be of no use, and that the only man controlling the Commonwealth would be the right honorable the Treasurer. If he said that he had not the money, we could not propose any thing which cost even an additional pound. “That position, which some honorable members have declared themselves ready to vote for, is absolutely ridiculous and an outrage on the common sense by which we are supposed to be guided. The alternative position leaves us free always, although we are not likely to do anything rash, and at the same time it takes away no power from the Cabinet. It gives the Committee the power that it ought to have. As we ourselves have the right to decide this issue, I cannot understand honorable members voting to curtail their own powers, and to prevent themselves from doing something which they want to do now, or may want to do next week. I should be sorry to think that there was in any honorable member’s mind a desire to prevent a vote on a specific issue. I hope there is nothing of that kind, but, although I have not a suspicious nature, I am very puzzled by the attitude 0/ certain honorable members on this occasion. The right honorable member for East Sydney, after discussing the question very ably, admitted that it was quite debatable, and by no means clear. He is the only one on that side who has gone into the question. From the AttorneyGeneral, who would have given us from his old position a very carefully-thought-out address, we have heard nothing to-night which anybody could make head or tail of. Why did he not speak out? Why have not some Ministers risen to discuss the question ? Their silence is not fair to the Committee. We on this side have done our best, and a number of honorable members have taken a great deal of trouble in ransacking the authorities and the records of the House of Commons to arrive at the correct view, but we have had. no help and no enlightenment from the experienced Ministers opposite. I cannot understand it, nor can I understand any honorable member voting in such a way as to tie himself up. Certain honorable members on the Government side, who on other occasions shout loudly for freedom, have been conspicuously silent this evening. In this case, judging by their attitude, they intend to deprive themselves of freedom. We must all give you credit, sir, for being consistent. You pointed out, in giving your ruling, the difficult position in which you were placed. You reasoned out very well the position that you took up, and said that, having regard to a previous decision, you must rule in a certain way. You certainly indicated that you would not consider that any reflection was cast on you by our voting against your decision. I have always a tendency at meetings and conferences to stand by the Chairman, but no such consideration arises in -a case of this kind. There is an important principle at stake, and it is for the Committee to lay down a precedent for its future guidance. I cannot conceive of there being more than a small minority of honorable members in favour of voting to cut down their own power. If your ruling be agreed to, Mr. Chairman, we shall have to accept whatever the Government choose to bring down. The honorable member for Mernda misunderstood the object with which a quotation was made in regard to the course adopted in a certain case. If we do not disagree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we shall vote against a principle that we have already adopted for our guidance. The passing of the proposed amendment would not necessarily mean the imposition of an increased burden on the people. No message has been brought down, and no one is able to say what will be necessary to finance the Bill. The amount to be allotted for the purposes of the Bill will depend upon the estimates that are made, and it will be voted from time to time upon Appropriation Bills. I hope that the Committee will vote against the decision of the Chairman.
– The discussion in the House of Commons on the Pensions Bill has been referred to more than once, and strongly relied on by those who urge that the Chairman’s ruling should be disagreed with. I would point out, however, that one discussion took place upon a resolution, and that an amendment was moved for a definition of the amount that was to be appropriated- It is quite competent for any honorable member to take such an action on a resolution in Committee.
– That resolution was preceded by a message.
– Certainly. The other case relied upon by honorable members opposite is rather more difficult to define, but it does not consist really of a ruling. There was a discussion on the Bill in the House of Commons and the Government gave a very plain notification that if any such an amendment as was suggested were adopted, they would drop the measure.
– That does not touch the question.
– It rendered it unnecessary to take any point of order.
– That is very thin.
– It may be, but I would point out that honorable members opposite are in that case relying, not upon a decision, but upon the fact that no decision was asked for or given.
– Which proves the practice.
– No ; one swallow does not make a summer. Both discussions have been quoted, but one does not apply, because the ruling given took place in connexion with something done upon a resolution.
– The honorable member cannot show anything on the other side. He can only draw inferences.
– I think that the honorable member is wrong. The. balance of proof in May is in favour of those who believe that the power to propose an increased burden should not be exercised by a private member. I urge that the debate which took place upon the Bill in Committee of the House of Commons should not be absolutely relied upon, because no decision was given. The most that can be argued is that there was a ‘failure on the part of those interested to raise the question on a point of order.
– Although thev were pressed for time and the closure was applied in the end.
– The Government had a tremendous majority, and were able to apply the closure.
– Was there not a Committee before the Bill was introduced?
– Certainly. The first attempt to increase the proposed vote was made in the preliminary Committee. That could be done here. The Chairman’s ruling does not interfere with the power of honorable members in Committee.
– We are in Committee now.
– But this was a preliminary Committee. Honorable members are complaining that the Chairman’s ruling takes away from them some right that they have hitherto enjoyed.
– The right to test the opinions of honorable members on questions such as this, which has never been denied before.
– I have pointed out a ruling by the honorable member, which denied the right of an honorable member to move in that direction.
-That was in the case of a proposal to impose taxation.
– It was a cognate matter. I could, if necessary, quote the authority of Mr.. Speaker that the imposition of taxation and the placing of a burden upon the people are related to each other. I submit that, in the absence of any distinct ruling upon the question, honorable members opposite are not entitled to rely as fully as they do upon what happened in the House of Commons on the occasion referred to. Then, again, I do not think it was mentioned that the first amendment was moved on a resolution in Committee.
– That was a stronger case, because we are told that it was covered by a message. If a private member can take that action in the case of such a measure, surely we may take the same action in connexion with an ordinary Bill.
– That is where the honorable member is in error. The rights and privileges of honorable members are conserved. They have the power in Committee on a resolution to move an amendment.
– But there is.no resolution in this case.
– I have not said that there is. I have already expressed my opinion as to what ought to be done in that regard, so that honorable members opposite will surely acquit me of any desire to take advantage of them. Clause 12, providing as it does for an increased charge, makes it imperative that the Bill should have been preceded by a resolution. But because that was not done, it is not to be said that honorable members are entitled to disagree with the Chairman’s ruling, which, in my opinion, is substantially correct, and ought to be upheld.
– A change of tone has come over the discussion which requires some observation. There is now a disposition to regard the matter under your notice, Mr. Chairman, as if an interference with the rights possessed by honorable members as representatives of the people were involved. The rights of the representatives of the people are controlled by the laws which govern our proceedings. Their rights are limited. They have no right, for instance, by physical force to drag Ministers from the Treasury Bench. That is an. interference with their liberty. There is another provision in our Standing Orders, which have all the force of law, that we are to be guided in certain circumstances by the rules and forms of the House of Commons. That, too, is an interference with our liberty. Some honorable members might like to have it removed; but whilst it exists we must respect the laws under which we are governed. So far from your ruling distinguishing between the rights of private members and those of Ministers, it would prevent the Prime Minister from moving an amendment of this sort just as it would prevent a private member from doing so.. Ministers themselves cannot move to amend a Bill which is not a money Bill, so as to make it a money Bill. There is a class of Bills which are not money Bills, and there is another class that are money Bills. No Minister can introduce into: a measure that is not a money Bill a clause that would make it one. A money Bill cannot be considered by this House unless the subject of it has been introduced and a resolution passed in a ‘Committee of the whole. There must also be a message from the Governor-General- before that Committee can deal with it. The Committee cannot consider a resolution as the foundation of a money Bill until the Governor-General has sent a certain message to this House. That is an interference with our rights, but it is the law. Then, this House must, in Committee, affirm the propriety of introducing 3. Bill which involves a charge upon the people before such a Bill can be introduced. That is a limitation upon the rights of Ministers. A Minister cannot introduce a money Bill unless he follows the course I have mentioned. On your ruling, Mr. Chairman, it is clear that this Bill is not properly before the House. It should have been preceded by a message and by a Committee. The rule that makes it irregular to consider an amendment which would increase a burden upon the people by £500,000 also prevents the Government from increasing a burden on the people by £34,000 a year, unless a certain course is followed. These are the rules by which we are to be guided, and it is absurd to say that in endeavouring to uphold those rules we are seeking to deprive any honorable member of a right he possesses. An honorable member does not possess the right to initiate taxation, to create charges upon the people, and Ministers do not possess the right to do so except in a specific way. My objection to the honorable member for Wide Bay’s amendment goes very much further. It appl’es equally to an amendment moved by a Minister, as it would to an amendment moved by a private member. We are losing sight of the fact that no Bill in the nature of a money Bill - that is to say, which creates a charge on the people - can be dealt with except certain precedent steps have been taken. The Old-age Pensions Bill in the House of Commons, to which attention has been drawn, was preceded by a message from the Crown, and there was a resolution in
Committee of the Whole before the Bill could fee introduced-.
– And yet private members moved increases.
– I only mention the fact that there was a message from the Crown, which there has not been in this case. We have had no authorization by resolution from a Committee of the Whole for the introduction of such a Bill; and that is my objection to the amendment. If this Bill had been preceded by a Governor-General’s message of a general character, which is the usual form, then, I think this Committee might very well be held to have complete power under that message.
– That is not the point involved in the ruling of the Chairman.
– In dealing with the ruling I am anxious to show what the rights of the Committee would be if the foundation of those rights were there ; but the misfortune is that there is no foundation for this Bill as a money Bill - a fact which applies equally against the Minister as against the honorable member for Wide Bay. In my view, if any objection were taken to tho Bill on account of the proposal of the Minister to reduce the qualification for a pension, the objection would be equally fatal. I am dealing with this as a matter of principle, and with jio desire to fetter the rights of honorable members. I have had painful experience of the effect of following the rule of the House of Commons. I remember on one occasion, at least, I introduced a very important measure, and. because there was a provision for appointing an officer - not an appropriation of money for his salary, but simply provision for his appointment to perform certain duties - the Speaker, following the usage of the House of Commons, ruled that it became a money Bill, and that it was improperly before the House, seeing that it should have been preceded by a message and a resolution of the Committee of the Whole. If these conditions had been fulfilled, there would have been no objection either to the proposal of the Government, or to any amendment being proposed by an ordinary member. My point in this case is that the foundation does not exist for the freedom of the Committee in dealing with the Bill - that the Bill, having been introduced as one which is not a money Bill, we have no power by amendment to convert it into a money Bill.
– But the Chairman’s ruling would apply, even if the Bill had been properly brought in - that is the difficulty.
– I can only deal with the matter we are deciding now - with the Bill as it stands. If this is a money Bill, it has not been properly introduced, and since it is not a money Bill, neither Minister nor member can make it one.
– If it is not a money Bill we have the right to amend it.
– To amend it, but not to make it a money Bill. We cannot get away from the safeguards. The foundation of a money Bill is of a certain character; and if it is there, we have certain rights ; but, since the- Bill has not been introduced as a money Bill, we cannot exercise rights which rest on a foundation that does not exist.
– Our rights are said to be limited only because it is .a money Bill.
– All I have to say is that, so far from any new idea underlying the Chairman’s ruling, it is in accordance with my own long experience.
– The right honorable member must admit that the ruling will narrow discussion.
– And we can understand the reason for that. Ministers are responsible for finding the ways and means for carrying on the Government. How can we carry on our system of government if the finances of the Government depend on members dealing with Bills in this Chamber? There would be nothing but chaos. There is a well-understood limitation of the rights of private members, bv which we are bound. It may be, perhaps, advisable some day to consider a different style of government; but we are bound by the parliamentary government which has been established in the House of Commons, and, so far as I know, in all the Australian Legislatures.
– It does not look like it when the Government can give £2,000,000 without consulting the House !
– My honorable friend knows that if Ministers gave £2,000,000 without consulting the House, we may either condemn or approve of their action.
– I intend to vote for the motion dissenting from your ruling, Mr. Chairman. That, is a very intricate matter, and we must give some attention to the experience of the right honorable member for East Sydney, having regard to his trained mind. I am well aware that you, sir, are more than the chairman of a public meeting, and that you have certain rules and practices for your guidance; but, as a private member, I am not always going to be guided absolutely by practices elsewhere. Time after time this House, to suit its own purposes, has had to depart from the practice #f the House of Commons; and on the present” occasion we have simply to exercise judgment. If the Bill has been introduced wrongly, even in view of the British precedents, it ought to be thrown under the table. This is not a matter of sentiment; and I certainly do think that the ruling which has been given is an invasion of our powers as representatives. If the ruling shuts out the introduction of certain amendments, I am, so far, prevented from casting a vote. The question whether an amendment means taxation or a charge on the Treasury could be dealt with when the amendment itself is before the Committee. Why should we not make a precedent without in any way casting a reflection on the Chair? I cannot understand any man saying that this is a party matter, because to do so is simply begging the question. Honorable members on this side, who say that if we vote against the Chairman’s ruling we are taking away the Government’s responsibility, are equally silly with those who talk about this being a party question. My vote may be ill-advised; but I think it desirable, not only in view of the measure before us, but of other measures which will be subsequently introduced. The common sense of honorable members, whether in House or Committee, will always assert itself in regard to amendments ; and I see no reason why we should be led by the practice of the House of Commons, or the practice of any other Legislature. It is my intention to endeavour to obtain further power as a private member, and, therefore, I must oppose the ruling.
– My parliamentary experience is limited, and I have listened attentively to the arguments for and against the motion. I have been considerably impressed by the remarks of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and also by what we have been told of the practice of the House of Commons last year when dealing with the Old-age Pensions Bill. The right honorable member said that this is either a money Bill, or it is not ; that if it is a money Bill, it has been wrongly introduced, and is wrongly before us ; and that if it is not a money Bill, we have no power by amendment to make it a money Bill. The amendment proposed is to reduce the qualifying age of pensioners from sixty-five years to sixty; and if it is alleged that this would make it a money Bill, then surely the clause which reduces the qualifying period of residence also makes it a money Bill. It would appear to be a money Bill ; and, therefore, to be wrongly before the Committee. At the same time, we are bound by the practice of the House of Commons; and we have from the honorable member for Laanecoorie the fact that when the Old-age Pensions Bill was being discussed in England, private members did move amendments in Committee which would have considerably increased the charge on the people. It is all very well to say that the point was never raised in the House of Commons ; but we know that on that occasion the Government were met with tremendous obstruction and long discussions; and we cannot imagine that, if there had been the slightest hope of the discussion being stopped, the point of order would not have been taken. We find, however, that pages of discussion are recorded in Hansard, and that, in order to put an end to the talk, the Government had to use the closure. That seems to be the last precedent, and it is the precedent by which I shall be guided. At the same time, I agree with the right honorable member for East Sydney that the Bill has been wrongly introduced ; and if the Government did right they would withdraw it, and reintroduce it.
Question - That the Committee dissent from Chairman’s ruling - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Section 15, sub-section 2, of the principal Act, which the clause before us seeks to amend, reads -
The Governor-General may by proclamation, declare that the age at which women shall be qualified to receive an old-age pension shall be sixty years, and from and after such proclamation the last preceding sub-section shall, as regards women, be read as if the word “sixty” were substituted for the word “ sixty-five.”
I propose to test the powers of the Committee by moving for the omission of the words -
The Governor-General may by proclamation declare that the age at which.
If those words are struck out, there must, of course, be a consequent amendment. I move -
That after the word “ amended,” line 2, the following words be inserted, “ by omitting the words The Governor-General may by proclamation declare that the age at which.’ “
I do not know whether the point which was taken against my last amendment will be taken against this one. If it is taken, we shall have an indication of the limits to the powers of honorable members in regard to the amendment of a Bill such as that with which we are dealing, because this amendment affects what I have in view to a much smaller extent than did the last. I understand that the Chairman has ruled that any amendment of which the effect would be to increase expenditure would be out of order. What I am now proposing is the amendment of the principal Act by the omission of the words which provide for the declaration by proclamation by the Governor- General that the age at which women shall be qualified to receive an. old-age pension shall be reduced from sixty-five to sixty years.
– What would that cost ?
– I gave an estimate of the probable cost of the change involved in the last amendment, and Mr. Chairman took so much notice of it as to partly base his decision upon it’. Therefore, I should not be wise in giving another estimate now, though I do not think the cost will be much. It is for the Treasurer to say whether he regards the amendment as a reasonable one.
– I wish to take the point of order that the amendment raises the same question as did the last amendment. The honorable member for Wide Bay seems to admit that himself.
– Then the decision of the Chairman is a far-reaching one.
– I understand that the honorable member proposes” to reduce the age at which women shall be qualified to receive pensions. I take the point that if the words which he proposes to strike out of the principal Act are omitted, the charge upon the people will be increased, and that, therefore, his amendment is out of order.
– On the point of Order -
– We have already had a very long discussion on this question, and, therefore, I am prepared to give my ruling at once. Let me begin by pointing out that the system of amending and consolidating legislation at the same time places me in a very difficult position, and throws upon me work which I should not have to do. Not only have I to give my attention to the Bill before the Committee; Ihave also to compare it carefully with the principal Act, in order to ascertain what its clauses mean. Unless read with the principal Act, the clauses of Bills such as that now before the Committee convey no meaning. I understood from the honorable member for Wide Bay that the effect of the amendment he has just moved would be practically the same as that of the last amendment. If it is intended merely to bring about a reversal of my decision, it is distinctly out of order. Of course, the honorable member has merely moved the insertion in the clause of a proposal fo omit words from the principal Act. “That amendment by itself means nothing. I cannot know the intention of the honorable member for Wide Bay until I know what subsequent amendment he intends to move.
I have no means of knowing whether the amendment will increase the expenditure or not, and in those circumstances I must accept it. It is merely to omit certain words, but, of course, it will be uselessunless the honorable member intends to move a subsequent amendment. When hedoes that I shall, perhaps, be in a better position to decide its effect.
– You have not ruled, sir, upon one point which I submitted, to the effect that even the omission from the principal Act of the words proposed may involve an extra charge upon the people. While the matter is left for the Governor-General todeal with by proclamation, it is only a future charge upon the people which, may become operative in ten or twenty years’’ time, but if the words relating to the proclamation are removed, the effect may be to bring the charge immediately upon the people.
– I am not to know whether the Governor-General will issue the proclamation to-morrow, or twenty years’ hence. It may have been done today, and in those circumstances, as the Act already provides that it shall be done at some time, the honorable member’s point of order does not hold good.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member for Wide Bay seems to desire to amend this beneficent measure in a way that is unacceptable to the Government. The Government have met the wishes of honorable members to the utmost extent in proposing to make the alterations which they considered, anc! the House thought necessary yesterday, but if the proposals of the honorable member are to find favour in this Committee, all I can say is that it will be impossible for the Government to proceed with the Bill.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– -Why all this disorder? I am merely stating the facts, and before I sit down I shall show (hat the honorable member’s proposals are not reasonable. I should like to ask him whether he had in his mind when he was Treasurer and Prime Minister any such proposals as he made this afternoon, and is making to-night. I had no notice, until the honorable member proposed them this afternoon, that they were even contemplated. No one told me, or suggested to me, or even whispered to me that the Bill was to be enlarged in the way now proposed, and the expenditure increased to such an enormous extent. The honorable member for Wide Bay claimed last night that the Bill was in draft when he left the Treasury. I’ interjected that I did not think it was in draft, and he replied that that was only trifling with the question, as it was settled before he left office. As a matter of fact, it was not in draft, but the terms of it had been arranged before the honorable member left. I do not think it has been altered in any material way, but it was actually drafted by the Law officers after I assumedoffice as Treasurer. The honorable member also said that the delay in passing the Bill was caused by the action of honorable members on this side. He, therefore, not only took credit for the Bill as it was in draft, and I can say that the draft, as submitted to me, has no:been altered in any material way. I again ask him if the provisions that he has proposed to-night were in his Bill when he left the Treasury. If he did not . suggest their inclusion to those who were drafting the Bill, what induces him now to propose them? I am not going to mince matters. I consider that his proposals are mischievous, and he knows as well as I do that under existing conditions they are impossible.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– If these interjections across the chamber continue it will be impossible for the right honorable member to continue his speech. I would remind honorable members that, as we are now in Committee, they have the opportunity of speaking as often as they please.
-It is impossible for me to give figures in regard to the most recent proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, but I have obtained some information regarding the amendment which he proposed to make this afternoon, to reduce the qualifying age for men from sixty-five to sixty, and for women from sixty to fifty-five.
– I would remind the right honorable member that I have ruled that amendment out of order.
– I hope I may tell the honorable member, to show the recklessness with which he makes these proposals, that I am informed that what he suggested this afternoon would have cost an additional million pounds a year.
– I submit that the right honorable member has deliberately disobeyed your ruling by pursuing a line of argument which you told him was out of order. Some action should be taken to prevent the Treasurer from disobeying a direction of the Chairman.
– I have not as full information as I should like regarding the present proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I do not agree with the right honorable member’s estimate.
– The amount slated is based on information signed by the Accountant of the Treasury, lt is proposed now, I understand, that that part of the principal Act which authorizes the payment of pensions to women at the age of sixty shall be brought into operation at once. That would mean that instead of women receiving them, as in the case at present, at the age of sixty-five, they would receive them at the age of sixty. The estimate of the Treasury is that that would involve an additional expenditure of about £400,000 per year.
– The Government can give £2,000,000 for a Dreadnought, but they cannot give anything for old-age pensions.
– The honorable member’s Governmentwere prepared to give the whole of the resources of Australia, but I do not think they meant it. That is the information which I received with regard to the present proposal. I presume that the honorable member for Wide Bay is going to make others which were never thought of, or, at any rate, were never suggested, while he was in office.
– We were never given a show.
– They had six months to do something. I suppose this is only one of the honorable member’s proposals, judging by what he said just now.
Opposition Members.- Hear, hear!
– Anything toembarrass, anything to make it more difficult to proceed, anything to pl ace the Treasury in a difficulty, apparently receives the support of honorable members opposite.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I must again ask honorable members to cease these interjections. If they continue I shall have to name those honorable members who are responsible for them.
– The adoption of the proposal to bring into operation at once the provision that women shall be entitled to receive a pension on reaching the age of sixty instead of sixty-five years, would mean an additional expenditure of £391,360. That, of course, is only an estimate.
– Was it not intended that pensions should be paid as early as possible to women who had reached the age of sixty years?
– Yes, but it is not possible just now. Before submitting proposals for largely increasing the ex1penditure, honorable members might reasonably have been expected to await the delivery of the Budget so that they would know what is the exact financial position of the Commonwealth. The utter recklessness of the honorable member for Wide Bay - I can use no milder term - in now desiring to increase immensely the burden on the people, although when Treasurer he did not propose to increase the expenditure in this way, shows, I think, that he must have been actuated by some party motive in submitting these proposals. Had he thought of making them when he was Treasurer he would have announced the fact at the time. But the responsibility of financing them was then upon him, and he was afraid to face it. He knew that it was too great. Now, however, that the responsibility has been removed from him he does not care what burden is placed on the people. The honorable member’s proposals on their merits are impossible.
– I think that they are, and I have, perhaps, more knowledge than has the honorable member at the present moment of the financial position.
– I do not think that the honorable member has.
– I ought to have.
– The Treasurer is all right ; he has his head in the nose-bag !
– That is where the honorable member would like to have his head once more. He had it there too long. No one will ever “accuse the honorable member of doing any good for the country or of doing any good for any one but himself.
– That is a very unfair statement.”* >:r -
– As long as the honorable member is courteous to me he may expect courtesy from me, but not otherwise. The payment of invalid pensions, which affect a most deserving class in the community, would alone involve a further expenditure of £250,000.
– What do the Government propose to do in that regard?
– Wait until the Budget statement is submitted. The Labour party did not propose anything when they were in office, but now they want us to do everything.
– The right honorable member did not give us a chance.
– Honorable members opposite are always crying about their removal from office. They know that they had no right to be there except on sufferance, since they never had” a majority.
– What is the right honorable member always crying out about ?
-The reckless proposals made to-night by the Leader of the Opposition would absorb the whole of our one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue. If I were permitted by the Chairman to do so I could prove that that would be the result of their adoption. If all the honorable member’s proposals were agreed to they would involve an expenditure of £2,750,000.
– Is the Government to be restricted to the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue?
– We shall be so restricted until the end of 19 10.
– An arrangement could be made if desired.
– I hope that in the interests of those whom we are all desirous of assisting the Bill will be passed as quickly as possible, and in the form proposed by the Government. If on the other hand the expenditure under it is to be largely increased it will be impossible for the Bill to become law.
– The Government will drop the Bill?
– That will be a matter for the Cabinet to consider. But with the funds at their disposal it would be impossible for the Government to find this year the money necessary to give effect to all these proposals. I make that statement with a full knowledge of the financial position. If honorable members elect to wreck the Bill by making the expenditure under it heavier than we can provide for, the responsibility will be upon them. I hope, however, they will not do so, We have tried to meet the views of honorable members by making certain provisions retrospective, although in that way alone the expenditure will be- increased by over £30,000 per annum. We have been most anxious to secure the passing of the Bill at the earliest date possible, and I appeal to honorable members if they are really anxious that the principal Act should be amended in the way we propose, to assist us. It is impossible for one to obtain at once all that one wants. Speaking in the most friendly manner possible to honorable members opposite, I think that they will be acting in the interests of those whom’ they claim to specially represent - although I do not think that they do - by accepting what the Government propose instead of trying to secure something that is not at present obtainable.
– It is obtainable.
– Something which the ex-Prime Minister declared at Gympie was notpossible.
-No such proposal as this was made by the honorable member for Wide Bay in his Gympie speech ; and he did not subsequently indicate that he intended to make any such proposition as he has submitted to-night. I have not been able to find anything to show that the honorable member intended, had he remained in office, to provide for the payment of invalid pensions this year. I hope, therefore, that the Opposition will not do anything to make the position of the Government more difficult than it is.
.- I am not surprised that the Treasurer has’ strongly condemned the proposal made by the honorable member for Wide Bay, that women who have reached the age of sixty years shall be at once entitled to receive a pension.
– The amendment would not have that effect. If it would, it would be out of order.
– It is aimed at securing a pension for women who are sixty years of age.
– Is the honorable member in order, Mr. Chairman, in discussing something that is not outlined in the amendment, or in discussing a . question that you have already ruled out of order?
– It is not competent for the honorable member to discuss a question that I have ruled out of order, but he is quite in order so long as he confines his remarks to the question immediately before the Chair.
– The question before the Chair is whether certain words shall be omitted, so that pensions shall be payable to women who have reached the age of sixty years.
– That is not pari of the amendment.
– I have the amendment before me, and I say that it is. I am not ‘ surprised that the Treasurer should oppose such a proposal, since some members of the Government opposed the passing of a Bill that was designed to enable the payment of old-age pensions.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable member’ is more competent to express an opinion on rubbish than is any one else.
– The honorable member knows that when the Surplus Revenue Bill was introduced, it was not suggested that it was designed to provide for old-age pensions.
– If the honorable member says that that Bill was not advocated by the honorable member for Wide Bay with the specific object of securing funds to finance a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, he is too innocent to hold a seat in this House. Those who were prepared to take exception to the original Act may be expected to take exception to an amendment that would liberalize it by enabling women to obtain pensions at an earlier age than is now possible.
– Name the honorable members who took exception to the principal Act.
– Members of the present Ministry, as well as some of their supporters, voted against the Surplus Revenue Bill, although they knew that it provided the only possible means of financing an old-age pensions system during this Parliament.
– Does the honorable member remember when his party-
– I care not how often, or how loudly, my honorable friend interjects
– The honorable member will not answer.
– It cannot be denied that those who voted against the Surplus Revenue -Bill voted against the only possible means of providing for the payment of .old-age pensions during the life of this Parliament. Are honorable members opposite prepared to indorse the opinions of experts as expressed before the Old-age Pensions Commission in favour of giving pensions to women five years before “they are given to men? That is the test I put to my friends opposite.
– Were the late Government prepared to do it?
– The late Government were prepared to pursue a course which would have led to considerable humanitarian legislation, and that is, no doubt, one of the reasons they were hurled from the Treasury benches.
– They could have clone it by proclamation.
– The late Government, on account of their many difficulties and embarrassments - fighting for their very existence, although they were supposed to have friends in the corner - had very little time to do anything. But they did intend to considerably improve the lot of the recipients of old-age pensions, as they now seek to do. What are honorable members opposite going to do, now that the proposal is submitted? The Treasurer holds out the threat that we had better be careful about proposing amendments, but I challenge him to throw this Bill under the table, if he dare. The chief objection of the Treasurer is the difficulty of finding the money, and he calls the proposal reckless and mischievous. The Departmental officers estimate that the cost would amount to £390,000 per annum, and the Treasurer called that “ reckless and mischievous,” though he does not apply the same description to the proposal to give ,£2,000,000 for a Dreadnought.
– The money is not given yet.
– Does the honorable member think the Government mav repudiate the offer?
– No; but the Government have to get the proposal through the House.
– Are we to understand that (here is a doubt about getting it through ?
– I do not know.
– The honorable member can give no more information than he usually does. It is quite fair that I should cite the case of the Dreadnought against the .argument that .money is not available for these pensions. Then invalid pensions were contemplated in the Act, and figures have been quoted in connexion therewith; but the fact remains that these pensions have not been proclaimel ; all we can get from the Treasurer is that he is going to mention the matter in his Budget. No doubt the Budget will be most interesting, but the attitude of the Government in opposing provision for pensions for. women at sixty years of age is, in my opinion, contemptible. It is, apparently, considered desirable by the most competent authorities, as shown in the evidence given before the Royal Commission, but the Government put forward any excuse to evade -the payment. In my opinion, the Government cannot justify their position, and I hope they will not find a majority to support them.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the Committee have leave to sit again to-morrow.
– I desire to point out that Thursday afternoon is usually devoted to private members’ business, and I wish to know whether the Government desire to deprive honorable members of their right in that connexion, because there is a very important motion standing in my name which I desire to move to-morrow..
– The honorable member will recognise that to-morrow private members’ business will take precedence over other business until the suspension of the sitting for dinner.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is highly desirable that private members should give way to-morrow afternoon in order that the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill may be disposed of at as early a date as possible. Only a few moments ago, honorable members opposite suggested that the Treasurer should report progress.
Honorable Members. - Oh, no !
-Last night I asked that in view of the circumstances surrounding the Old-age Pensions Bill, and its special claims to urgent consideration, private members might agree to forego their business to-morrow afternoon. . I made that appeal yesterday, and repeat it now.
.-I regret the statement with which the Prime Minister opened his remarks. It is quite correct that I desire to meet the honorable gentleman as far as possible, but, as a matter of fact, the Treasurer came over to me, and asked if it was not a fair thing to report progress. I said at once quite frankly thatI was quite willing to agree to that course being adopted.
-I was not aware of that.
– I need not read out the note which the Treasurer wrote in this connexion. My complaint is that the Prime Minister’s statement constitutes his second offence.
– No. I heard what was said, and did not know that the Treasurer had suggested an adjournment.
– But on a previous occasion, the Prime Minister made a statement which conveyed to me altogether a wrong impression.
– That was not my fault.
Several honorable members interjecting.
– Unless the disturbance on the front Opposition bench ceases, I shall have to take further steps. The honorable member for Wide Bay is in possession of the Chair, and must not be interrupted.
– I admit the desirableness of dealing with the Old-age Pensions Bill at the earliest possible moment, and no attempt has been made by members of the Opposition to delay its passing. But we have not yet reached that stage when we ought to be prevented from expressing our views.
. -I am not surprised at the statement of the Prime Minister, considering that I have a notice of motion upon the business paper relating to Tariff anomalies which I know the honorable gentleman is desirous of smothering. I certainly shall not give way to-morrow afternoon under any consideration. I had to fix my motion for a date ahead, and I do not intend to be baffled in dealing with it. If I can get at that motion to-morrow, I shall do so, because it is a very important motion, and a very in convenient one from the stand-point of the Government. I am not surprised at anything that the Prime Minister does now, but if he thinks I am going to be the victim of his soft-soap, he is very much mistaken.
. -I have a motion upon the business-paper for tomorrow,but, in view of the importance of the Bill which has been under consideration to-day, I have no hesitation in saying that I shall not proceed with it.
. -I merely wish to say, in reply to an interjection by the Minister of Defence, that I am prepared to proceed with the consideration of the Old-age Pensions Bill now. After being invited by the Treasurer to agree to progress being reported, it is most unfair that we should be accused of attempting to delay the passage of that measure. The note of the Treasurer reads -
Willing that you should continue to-morrow. Let us adjourn.
In the light of that note, I think that the statement of the Prime Minister was simply, disgraceful. Yet honorable members opposite have the temerity to complain about the Opposition not extending to them the ordinary courtesies of parliamentary warfare. It seems to me that we are extending altogether too much courtesy to them.
.-I should not have spoken but for the statement of the honorable member for Hume that he intends to insist upon proceeding with a certain motion to-morrow afternoon. Under the circumstances, I think it would be regrettable if we separated to-night without knowing what is to be the order of business to-morrow. Most of us regard the question of old-age pensions as of such importance that we are prepared to forego any little business of our own to enable the Bill, which has been under consideration to-day, to be disposed of. I admit that with the honorable member for Hume the question of Tariff reform is a sort of’ political old-age pensions. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is able to assure us that we shall be called upon to deal with the important measure, the debate upon which was interrupted just now by a reckless proposal on the part of honorable members opposite-
– If the honorable member will look at the notice-paper, he will see that the business for to-morrow consists of three notices of motion by private members, and he must know that, according to the sessional order which was adopted ‘ last night, those three motions must take precedence “df other business when the House meets to-morrow afternoon.
– Then I take it that we shall be called upon to deal with another Old-age Pensions Bill to-morrow afternoon, and not with the measure which has been under consideration to-day
.- It is amazing to hear the Government pleading that honorable members should forego their right to have their private business discussed, in order that they may push on with the Old-age Pensions Bill. It is only by the merest accident that they have been enabled to proceed with that measure at all. After having been in office for seven weeks, they were not in a position to supply honorable members with copies of the Bills which they wished us to discuss. In my judgment, the honorable member for Hume is quite right, and is acting practically as a benefactor to the Government in proposing to take up time to-morrow afternoon, in spite of what they have stated, so as to enable them to get ready to place the business of this country before the House in, at any rate, an intelligent form.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090721_reps_3_50/>.