3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m.
– Mr.Clerk, Notwithstanding the sad memories attaching to the past week, we have the duties of the present day before us. It is my pleasure and honour to move -
That the honorable member for Laanecoorie, the Honorable Charles Carty Salmon, do take the Chair of the House as Speaker.
Dr. Carty Salmon possesses credentials as Chairman of Committees, and in the discharge of his duties would have ever before him the precedents established by our late respected Speaker, and the parliamentary procedure gathered together by the late Mr. Blackmore. I commend him to honorable members as Speaker, and, if he be elected, promise their very sympathetic and even vigorous support. I doubt not that he will bring to the discharge of his duties all the capacity which he possesses, and will be actuated solely by the desire to properly conduct the business of the House.
. -I second the motion, and, in doing so, indorse what the mover has said. I have known Dr.Carty Salmon for many years as an administrator and as Chairman of Committees. He is one whom those who are best acquainted with him look up to, and honour. I am sure that, if elected, he will do credit to the House, and justice to’ himself.
– I need not say that the necessity for any motion at all causes me personally the most profound regret ; but since we must now proceed to the election of another Speaker, I move -
That the honorable member for Kennedy, the Honorable Charles McDonald, do take the Chair of the House as Speaker.
Mr. McDonald has acted as Deputy Speaker during the unavoidable absence of Sir Frederick Holder, and holds the position of Chairman of Committees. His qualifications for the position are admitted on all sides, and havebeen proved by the splendid success of his rule. We have had tributes to his worth and impartiality from very many members of the Ministerial party, as well as of the Opposition. At no time has his ability or fairness been questioned. The suggestion has never been made that he has not carried out his duties with impartiality and credit. It would ‘have been possible to have had this matter settled on non-party lines, and I am sorry that that has not been done. A candidate for the Speakership should be proposed only after consultation between the various parties, or by an informal meeting of honorable members generally, prior to the meeting of the House for the purpose of a definite selection. In South Australia it has always been the practice to have an informal meeting of members before proposing a Speaker, and I think that that practice was adopted before the late Sir Frederick Holder was first chosen. At any rate, on that occasion there was a general understanding, before the House met, as to who should be chosen. This is desirable so that we shall, as nearly as possible, secure unanimity in the choice of Speaker, or at least the appointment of a member who has the confidence of a considerable majority. I regret that on this occasion no attempt was made to secure unanimity, because I am certain, knowing the facts, that it might have been obtained. Because of the action of the Ministerial partythere must now be a contest for the Speakership on the floor of the House. That is regrettable. The Ministerial party - in caucus, let me emphasize - has determined that the question shall be treated as a party one.
– The Government cannot make it a party question.
– The Government determined yesterday that it should be a caucus matter.
– Yes. That being so, we now have no alternative but a contested election.
– Will the Prime Minister deny that this has been made a caucus matter?
– Why should he deny it?
– Under these circumstances, there are one or two matters to which I feel it necessary to allude. For the two candidates individually I have the same good feeling, and have nothing to sayin regard to their personal character.
– Did not the Opposition hold a caucus yesterday afternoon ?
– Not to decide who should be Speaker?
– The Opposition has never pretended that it does not hold caucuses; but, before it knew what the Ministerial party would do, it decided to leave this matter over to the meeting of the House. In Mr. McDonald we have a gentleman who has acted . asDeputySpeaker,and has presided over our Committees with admitted success. The honorable member for Barker the other night alluded to him as the most fearless Chairman that he had ever known, and one whom he was proud to. see in the position. The Minister of Defence, too,when in Opposition, said that the absence ofa conspicuous warring of parties during the Tariff discussions was largely due to the Chairman of Committees, who, more than any other honorable member, he thought, had assisted to put through the Tariff.
– I do not think I said that.
– That was the purport of the honorable member’s remarks. The Leader of the Government has also complimented the honorable member
On his work ; and we know how arduous that work was during the Tariff discussions. In electing Mr. McDonald to the. Speakership, we shall be reaffirming the decision at which we arrived when we chose him as a suitable person to preside over our deliberations in Committee. We have also had experience of Dr. Carty Salmon in the Chair. The Parliament that elected the honorable member as Chairman of Committees decided by a majority that he had been found wanting in the office, and his re-appointment was not affirmed.
– That was because the Labour party introduced the party system for the first time in connexion with the election of a Chairman of Committees.
– As a matter of fact, the election of a Chairman of Committees in this House as well as in the House of Commons has always been a party question. The honorable member must also recollect that the party with which Mr. McDonald is connected had not the numbers to enable it to do what he suggests. I do not wish, however, to be diverted from the point that I wish to emphasize : that the House having had experience of Dr. Carty Salmon as Chairman of Committees, deliberately replaced him by Mr. McDonald on the first opportunity.
– The position of Chairman of Committees was then a sessional appointment.
– The present Chairman of Committees has been reappointed to that office, whereas the present Ministerial candidate for the office of Speaker could not secure re-election after honorable members had had experience of his presidency over their deliberations.
– He was twice elected Chairman of Committees, so that the honorable member is utterly in error.
– And he was defeated in the same Parliament in which he was elected Chairman of Committees.
– By a block vote of the honorable member’s party.
– A block vote was cast for Dr. Carty Salmon on every occasion that he offered himself for the position of Chairman’ of Committees. So far as this party is concerned, the yoting was the same when Dr. Carty Salmon was first elected as Chairman of Committees as when he was defeated.
– Many of our party voted for the Labour nominee.
– I assume that those honorable members did so not out of mere caprice, but because they considered that they would be discharging a public duty by replacing the then occupant of the chair by an honorable member in whom they had more confidence. I ask honorable members now whether Mr. McDonald as Chairman of Committees has done anything to forfeit their confidence. I know that the answer must be that he has not. In the circumstances, therefore, I submit to those who are not pledged - and I hope that every honorable member will be free to give expression to his real desire in this matter - that he is a fit and proper member for the office of Speaker. I sincerely trust that there will be an opportunity to ascertain the real feeling of a majority of the House. There are other honorable members who could secure the appointment by an absolute majority vote, and I have every reason to believe that but for the method adopted by the Ministerial caucus, some of those honorable members would have submitted themselves to the will of the House.
– And one of them would “ have won.
– He would not only have won, but would have set out to discharge the duties of his new office with the knowledge that he had the confidence of an absolute majority if not of every member of this House. 1 regret that in the circumstances under which the election is being conducted. Dr. Carty Salmon, if chosen for the office, will set out with the knowledge that he has not the confidence of nearly half the members of the House. It is to be regretted that a partisan vote should be taken on the election of Speaker, and I hope that the fact that Mr. McDonald has carried out the duties of Chairman of Committees so well will weigh with honorable members in determining this question.
.- I can scarcely add anything to what has been said by the honorable member for Boothby, and I feel, too, that it is difficult to say anything in the way of further eulogy of the late lamented Speaker. We all realize how difficult it will be for his successor to live up to the traditions that he made in this House. His impartiality, his knowledge of parliamentary procedure, could not be excelled. As a young parliamentarian, I rely much upon those who have had greater political experience than I have had, but I feel certain that what I say in this regard will be indorsed by every honorable member. I have very much pleasure in seconding the nomination of Mr. McDonald, and must express my regret that, as has been clearly evidenced by the caucus held yesterday afternoon by honorable members opposite, the election has been made, a party matter. It has been alleged, not suggested, that the Labour party also held a caucus. That is not so. Several members of our party in our room yesterday had an informal conversation in regard to the matter, but we passed no resolution, and did not arrive at any definite decision. We were under the impression that our party might possibly be approached by a Ministerial ambassador with a view of having this question settled on the lines ‘that were followed on a previous occasion, and that the election would be conducted in such a way as would reflect credit on the House, and give satisfaction to the country. Mr. McDonald has not been anxious to become a candidate ; indeed, it is somewhat against his own inclination that he has been nominated. We felt, however, that since he had discharged the duties of Chairman of Committees so satisfactorily, it would be doing the honorable member for Kennedy but simple justice to allow honorable members an opportunity to show whether they were caucus-bound or were free men, able to vote according to their convictions. I feel perfectly certain that were honorable members free to vote as they pleased, the honorable member who has been nominated by the honorable member for Denison would not be selected. It is not yet too late to test the feeling of the House, and to ascertain whether some other honorable member more acceptable to honorable members generally, might not be chosen. What has been said by the honorable member for Boothby in regard to the unsatisfactory conduct of the election is correct, and we have a list of those who voted for and against Dr. Carty Salmon on the occasions of the election of a Chairman of Committees which shows conclusively that the question was not then treated as a party one. We desired, and we particularly desire now, that this should not be treated as a party matter, but that we should have a free hand - that our hands, which are now tied, should be unshackled, so as to allow us to vote, as a Parliament, for the nominee most acceptable to the House. I have much pleasure in seconding the nomination of Mr. McDonald.
.- I regret very much the personal element that has been introduced by my honorable friends opposite.
– There is another nomination.
– I do not suppose that my speaking now will affect any other nomination. Honorable members opposite have been trying to make it appear that honorable members on this side are compelled to vote for Dr. Carty Salmon.
– It does not appear so - it is a fact I
– I commend the honorable . member to judge the attitude of honorable members by the division list that is to come quite as much as by interjections such as he has made, or by speeches such as we have listened to this’ afternoon. I should like to know what honorable member of the Labour party proposes this afternoon to vote for Dr. Carty Salmon. Is there a single member of that party prepared to do so? We know quite well that every member opposite will vote for a member of their own party.
– Nominate the honorable member for Parkes !
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear.
– Honorable members opposite are always seeking the unattainable. I should have been very happy indeed could the honorable member and others who have been mentioned have seen their way to stand for this position. Could either the honorable member for North Sydney, the honorable member for Flinders, or the honorable member for Parkes have allowed himself to be nominated, I should gladly have voted for him, and would have done so with the utmost freedom. But we cannot compel gentlemen to allow themselves to be nominated for a position which circumstances will not permit them to accept. What we have to do is to decide, so far as in us lies, between the merits of the candidates who present themselves for this high office. I very much deprecate any personal reflections in a matter of this kind, because these affect, not only the can- didates, but the House itself, seeing that one of the candidates will eventually be Speaker of this great assembly.
– No personal reflections have been made.
– Yesterday an attack was made on the honorable member for Parkes in the columns of “Ananias,” in a way which shows that that newspaper has taste as bad as its regard for truth is slight. This newspaper knew that the honorable member for Parkes was not a candidate, and it also knew that he is well qualified to fill any judicial position to which this House might choose to elect him ; and yet it allowed its venom and its inherent disregard for truth to lend its leading columns to the sort of stuff we have read.
– The article served its purpose, and made honorable members opposite all fall into line.
– I have heard honorable members opposite say that honorable members on this side came to the conclusion yesterday to support Dr. Carty Salmon. That was about twelve hours before the publication of this extraordinary leader, so that I fail to see what influence that leader could have in the matter. This leading article in the Age makes me very inclined not to record a vote at all on this occasion.
– Does the honorable member think that a Free Trader like the honorable member for Parkes could be fair in the chair?
– I think that either the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member who interjects, or the Leader of the Labour party, who are Free Traders, would be fair in the chair. The late Speaker was a Free Trader, and so is the present Chairman of Committees.
– Has the present Chairman of Committees been fair in the chair?
– He has been quite fair in the chair, but I think the honorable member will see that what is required at the present juncture is not only a man who is fair, but one who has the confidence of all honorable members, and who will be able to control the House. I think I may say, without doing any honorable members an injustice, that from whatever part of the House the Speaker comes he will receive loyal assistance and co-operation in the maintenance of order from honorable members opposite. So far as the maintenance of order is concerned, I do not think that honorable members opposite ought to care whether theyelectthe Speaker, or the Speaker is elected by the House. On one occasion I had to vote against the nomination of Dr.Carty Salmon for the office of Chairman of Committees, but, at the same time, if that gentleman be elected Speaker, I shall give him the most loyal assistance and all the help I can in maintaining the high traditions associated with this great office. I have been asked to make it perfectly plain that no honorable member on this side is bound to vote for Dr. Carty Salmon.
– We are bound in honour. opposition Members. - Hear, hear.
– Do I understand the honorable member for Indi to say that honorable members on this side are bound in honour to vote for any candidate?
– That is what the honorable member said.
– I ask honorable members to listen to the reply I get from Dr. Carty Salmon and the honorable member for Bourke. I ask both gentlemen whether I did not point out to them yesterday the possibility of my being unable to vote in this division ?
– That is correct.
– That, I think, answers completely the statement of the honorable member for Indi.
– The honorable member is speaking for himself only.
– I can only speak for myself; and I think I have shown conclusively that the insinuation made has no foundation in fact.
– Now speak for the others.
– I am not like the honorable member, always prepared to speak for others. I ask what honorable member opposite is going to cast a. vote other than for Mr. McDonald?
– I shall vote for the honorable member for Parkes if he be nominated.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– Or the honorable member for Flinders !
– Or the honorable member for Balaclava !
– Honorable members opposite are prepared to vote for anybody who will not stand for the position.
– The caucus has stopped them.
– Then I understand that the caucus stops honorable members opposite from voting for- any one whom we might nominate, and who will stand.
– We will vote for any man bar Dr. Cartv Salmon.
– I deeply regret that any candidate for this office should be made the subject of a sort of party vendetta.
– We bar the honorable member for Flinders as well.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie tells us that honorable members opposite will vote for any one with the exception of Dr. Carty Salmon. Now, another member of the same party tells another story ! The records will show how free honorable members opposite are. They will have an opportunity of showing whether they are allowed to vote for other than the nominee of their caucus. If they are free to do so, let them vote accordingly. If they all vote solidly for Mr. McDonald because they believe that his merits entitle him to the position, then they ought to accord the same liberty of judgment to honorable members on this side of the House. Let them give honorable members on this side the same right to vote for the person whom they think best fitted to occupy the position, and let them give up all this cant and hypocrisy which disgraces an occasion of this kind. I deprecate all this personal business. What we have listened to in the House has not been very much compared with what we have read in the columns of a morning newspaper that owes much to Parliament for the freer circulation through the post and freer carriage of its issues on the public railways of this country. What we have read in that paper has not only been most inappropriate to an occasion of this kind, but has been an absolute disgrace to the columns of a journal of its standing. If there are no other candidates offering than the two suggested, I shall be in the position on this occasion of being unable to record a vote, although I shall give the successful candidate the most loyal help in the discharge of the duties of his high office that a private member can give.
– I understand that another nomination is to be made, but I suppose it will not be affected in any way by discussion taking place at this stage, nor, I presume, will it be shut out by anything that may be said in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Wentworth has expressed regret that personalities should be drawn into the debate. I think that he and other honorable members might more properly regret that we have in the choice of the Speaker to-day; the spectacle of the party machine in operation.
– There is no machine on this sidein connexion with it.
– Honorable members opposite are inclined to deny things, but I propose reading a little from the Age.
– The Age report is simply a lie.
– I propose to quote from this morning’s Age, and then we shall see whether subsequent events do not bear out exactly what it says.
– Does the honorable member believe the Age reports at all times?
– As a general rule, whilst I differ from all the Age’s conclusions on political questions, its statements of bare fact - especially as to what takes place in this House - are pretty accurate. I ask honorable members to notice what the Age says, because they will see that subsequent events to-day will not only give colour to it, but will absolutely bear it out -
To-day the House of Representatives will elect its new Speaker. The decision in the matter really rests with the Government, it having a majority in the House. A division on party lines having been found by those whose business it was to investigate the matter to be practically unavoidable, the Ministry decided to hold a caucus meeting of its supporters, so as to secure united action. Telegrams were despatched on Monday morning, and in due course yesterday afternoon, directly the House rose, a caucus was held in the Ministerial supporters’ room, the Prime Minister presiding.
The Prime Minister presiding at a caucus to decide who is to be the future Speaker of this House !
– What does May say on that question ?
– I propose to quote what May says on the subject, and also one or two other authorities, when I have finished this article : -
The situation that faced the meeting was briefly as follows : - Mr. Dugald Thomson, Mr. G. H. Reid, and Mr. W. H. Irvine were out of the contest by their own wish, the first-named on account of ill-health.
– I suppose the honorable member knows there were no reporters there ?
– Is that statement inaccurate?
– It is partially inaccurate.
– I suppose we may take it that it is mostly accurate.
– It is partly accurate, and partly inaccurate.
-I presume then that it is a fact, apart from the question of illhealth, that those three gentlemen are not standing. The Age goes on to say -
The Prime Minister and the majority of his colleagues were known to be strongly in favour of the claims of Mr. C. C. Salmon, M.P., whose personality and experience, in their opinion, rendered his selection in every way desirable. Mr. Bruce Smith, M.P., had a considerable following, and his merits had been warmly pressed in the lobbies earlier in the day.
– So far as I know neither of those statements is accurate.
– I am surprised at such simplicity on the part of the honorable member. Let him tell that to his constituents. They may believe it, but we cannot.
– The statements are inaccurate.
– It would be very interesting if some one would tell us just what did happen. I cannot help thinking that those statements are very true, because of notices appearing in the Sydney newspapers, and from what one would naturally expect. We know that Mr. Bruce Smith if proposed would have a very strong following. I do not believe it is inaccurate to say that his claims were discussed, and that he would have a strong following. It is not very difficult to guess so much.
– Why should he not have a strong following?
– He certainly should have.
– Allow me to save any further comment by saying that the moment my name was proposed yesterday afternoon in the presence of members of this party, I at once intimated - twelve hours before any article appeared - that I had no intention of becoming a candidate.
– Was the honorable member nominated?
– I was proposed, but I declined to allow myself to be nominated.
-I am sure we all accept the honorable member’s statement. We do not suppose that he would be affected by any article appearing in the press on the subject. I come now to what is, after all, a more important statement. We shall see whether that is inaccurate. I am prepared to accept the word of the honorable member for Balaclava absolutely on the subject. The Age says -
Mr. Agar Wynne had let it become known that in the event of Mr. W. H. Irvine not being a candidate he would not be adverse to nomination.
– He would have obtained 75 per cent. of the votes of this House.
– Let honorable members have freedom to vote as they like, and let Mr. Wynne be put up.If that is done, I do not hesitate to say that he will easily beat any other honorable member who is likely to be nominated. The honorable member, by his silence, undoubtedly admits it is substantially true that he was prepared to stand for the position. Why are we denied the right to have in the chair the man that we want?
– He is turned down bv a small majority of the party opposite.
– He is turneddown by seventeen gentlemen who happened to be present at the caucus meeting, and whose nominee obtained two more votes than any other. The question of who is to be chosen by the House to preside over its deliberations is apparently to besettled by the question of which gentleman has most supporters on the spot the day before Parliament meets. If a man happens to be a Melbourne man, and can get all his local friends to roll up and give him their support, whilst the New South Wales section of the same party are coming over from Sydney, he gains the support of the whole party, and so a man who may succeed in obtaining only nineteen or twenty votes at the party meeting secures the support of a majority of the House. We are further told by the Age -
Mr. Wynne had several influential backers. The position began to clarify, however, as soon as it became evident that the party must present a solid front to the House the following day.
Had this been done by a Labour Ministry no newspaper in Australia would have found terms too hard to condemn it.
– It would have been classed as among the worst practices of Tammany Hall.
– This jobbery has been done by men who, within a few months, will have the impudence to go before the electors and speak against the caucus of the Labour party. The honorable member for Indi often speaks before he thinks, and consequently tells the truth. He let the cat out of the bag when he said that they were all bound in honour to support the Ministerial nomination. The honorable member for Wentworth has left the chamber because he cannot see his way to vote against the decision of the caucus.
– That shows that he is not bound as the honorable member says those on this side are bound.
– If the honorable member for Wentworth said before the caucus decision was arrived at that he would not be bound by it, he is, of course, free now, but the other members of the caucus are in honour bound to support its decision. The division will show whether they are bound. To continue the report of the Age- ‘
Whatever the outcome of the ballot, it was agreed there must be only one Ministerial candidate. After a discussion, which lasted nearly an hour, a ballot was taken, and Mr. C. C. Salmon was adopted as the Ministerial candidate by 17 votes to 15.
– The numbers are given incorrectly.
– Still the majority is right.
– If the honorable member thinks that it would make any difference, let him say what the majority was.
– If the majority was a large one, they would tell us what it was.
– If it was a substantial majority, it would be trumpeted from the house-tops. As the voting was very close, the honorable member for Bourke chooses to say that the Age report is wrong, without telling us how the votes were cast. I wish to call the attention of honorable members to the British practice in regard to the choice of a Speaker, and to contrast it with what happened yesterday, when the Prime Minister presided over a party caucus to decide who should be nominated. In a statement of what took place in 1874, Todd, in volume I. of his Parliamentary Government in England, says -
Upon Mr. Gladstone’s resignation Her Majesty sent for Mr. Disraeli, and empowered him to form a Ministry. Being able to rely upon a majority of fifty in the new House of Commons, Mr. Disraeli had no difficulty in this task. By February 21, the new Cabinet was complete. It consisted of twelve members only, of whom six had seats in the House of Lords. And here it may be remarked that the opening of this Parliament - wherein the Conservative party had an undoubted majority - gave occasion for the distinct recognition of the admitted expediency of treating the Speakership of the House of
Commons as no longer the prize of the party in power.
– That is the practice of the English House of Commons, not of an American House of Assembly !
– That is the British practice. American practices may be like those of honorable gentlemen opposite, against which I am protesting. In Great Britain, Ministers are careful that there shall be no suggestion that they are trying to influence the choice of the House. At page 78, volume 1., of Pellew’s Life of Lord Sidmouth, we learn how careful Ministers were not to suggest that they were behind any particular individual -
Mr. Pitt had most kindly offered to propose him to the House as their Speaker; but Addington appears to have been somewhat ‘doubtful as to the policy of such proceeding; and we find him, therefore, requesting the opinion of Mr. Hatsell, and Mr. Pole Carew, on the point. “ Do you think,” he asks the latter, “ that the motion in my favour would come with impropriety from Pitt? The reasons on both sides will readily occur to you, and I only beg to be informed on which you feel that they preponderate.” Mr. Carew’s opinion has not been preserved; but Mr. Hatsell’s was decidedly adverse. “If you ask my opinion,” he says, “I think that the choice of the Speaker should not be on the motion of the Minister. Indeed, an invidious use might be made of it, to represent you as the friend of the Minister, rather than the choice of the House.”
– That view is indorsed by May.
– Ministers here adopt quite a contrary attitude.
– To continue my quotation - “ Although every one knows that let who will make the motion, you probably will have the unanimous approbation of all parties.” These reasons predominated ; and in consequence, Mr. Pitt, in the following letter, kindly relinquished, for his friend’s sake, an office which would have been highly gratifying to him : -
Downing-street, November 12, 1790.
The circumstances which you mention perfectly convince me that your decision is right ; and the bringing the thing forward in the best way is of more importance than anything else. I shall therefore relinquish a very agreeable task without regret.
For over one hundred years, British Ministers have refused to let it be thought that they were trying to influence the election) of a Speaker. Contrast that with the action of this Ministry, which has come into existence to maintain responsible government, and to get back to the good old conditions of the past. The Prime Minister takes the chair at a caucus meeting to decide who shall be elected Speaker.
– And he had all his Ministers with him.
– The honorable member does not know that that is so.
– Does the Treasurer deny that he was there?
– I deny that any one influencedmy vote in the slightest degree.
– No one need try to do that. The right honorable member sees which way the crowd is going, and rushes with it. No further influence is necessary.
– There is no chance of the honorable member securing my vote.
– I have been told that the Minister of Defence went round the House touting for the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and doing his best to get him elected.
– That is quite incorrect.
– For the purposes of the debate, I accept the honorable member’s statement. Nothing wecan say is likely to affect the votes of honorable members opposite. Seventeen members, or thereabouts, in the absence of the right honorable member for . East Sydney, the honorable member for North Sydney, and others who were coming from New South Wales, succeeded in getting the party nomination for the honorable member for Laanecoorie. But it is time that we put on record our protest against this sort of thing. This is an Age nomination. Yet even that unblushing newspaper has very little to say in support of the candidate whom it has nominated.
– We have now the caucus protesting against other caucuses !
– We do not protest against caucuses on party questions, although we protest against caucuses on what are not party questions. The Minister knows as well as any one that this ought not to be a party question.
– The members of the Labour party have never been separated on a question of this kind.
– Are seventeen men to say who shall be Speaker?
– The members of the Labour party voted unanimously for Sir Frederick Holder, and when, at the be ginning of this Parliament, the honorable member for Laanecoorie and the honorable member for Kennedy were proposed for the position of Chairman of Committees, the House, although having full experience of the former’s ability, rejected him by a majority of seven.
– He was found wanting.
– A majority of five, not seven. He was beaten by a majority of seven on a previous occasion.
– A majority of five. I have no wish to be unfair. Those who voted against him when he was proposed at the beginning of this Parliament as candidate for the position of Chairman of Committees, are now voting for his appointment to the office of Speaker, the partywhip having been cracked. It would ill become me to pass judgment upon him, because I have not had the privilege of sitting under his presidency ; but other honorable members who had had that privilege voted against him when an opportunity for re-election presented itself. Furthermore, the vote was not a party one, localise the Free Traders, who were then in opposition, were at liberty to vote as they liked. When these honorable gentlemen could vote as they liked, they voted to make the honorable member for Kennedy Chairman of Committees. I accept the judgment of those who, having had experience of the honorable member for Laanecoorie as Chairman, decided that he was not a fit man for the position. That should be a reason for not making him Speaker. Let me read what the Age, which has manoeuvred for this nomination, says of the honorable member -
Mr. Salmon is a man who has been tried, and not found wanting.
– That is like the Scotch verdict of non proven.
– If, after I had been working for some one, he stated, by way of testimonial, that “ Mr. Hall has worked for me for some time, and has not been found dishonest,” I should doubt the value of the testimonial.
– The honorable member, since he is a lawyer, would naturally do so.
– Certainly, and I should consider whether it was not libellous. The Age goes on to say of Dr. Carty Salmon, that-
He is urbane, courteous, patient, fairly well versed in parliamentary lore - “Fairly well versed in parliamentary lore !” No man would care to show such a reference in support of an application for a billet. If that is the best that the Age cao write of the honorable member, then its best is bad. I am sure that whoever is elected to the office of Speaker will receive the support of honorable members on this side of the House, and it will stand to the shame of the Fusion that they have been the first to drag down such a question as this to the level of party politics.
.- I have no desire to be drawn into what seems to have developed into little short of a wrangle, but I feel it necessary to make a few observations. The office of Speaker is the highest gift that we can bestow upon any honorable member, and, therefore, I agree with those who have lamented the introduction of party politics in connexion with this question. As one of the rank and file, I am confident that, had an honorable member of outstanding ability offered himself for election, there would have been no cavil. I regret that an honorable member such as the honorable member for North Sydney, could not consent to be nominated. I trust that he will forgive me for mentioning his name, but I repeat that there would have been no difficulty, had the honorable member or any of several whom it is currently reported would not come forward, agreed to their being nominated. The remarks made by the Labour party as to honorable members on this side be:ng caucus-bound have no effect upon me, although the action that I intend to take will probably come as a surprise to them. We have nominated for the office of Speaker two honorable members with whom I have been associated since the inception of the Federal Parliament, and I intend to vote with due regard to their merits. It is somewhat distasteful to me to have to discuss their qualifications for the office in public, but since they have been nominated, and their abilities have been canvassed, I do not hesitate to say that I intend to vote in a way that, I believe, will be in the best interests of the Parliament and the country. Mr. McDonald has for a long time held office as Chairman of Committees. To my mind there is no more onerous position in connexion with our Parliament. The Chairman of Committees has always a more difficult task to perform that has Mr. Speaker himself. It is in Committee that our great struggles take place, and the Chairman must exercise great tact, and hare a thorough knowledge of parliamentary procedure to enable him to successfully, preside over our deliberations. The honorable member for Kennedy has shown remarkable capacity in the office of Chairman of Committees, and the way in which he has discharged the duties attaching to it must have met with the approval of honorable members generally. His impartiality has been acknowledged again and1 again, and his knowledge of parliamentary, procedure has been displayed on many occasions. He has discharged the duties of his office well and properly; but if some other honorable member of outstanding ability were nominated for the office of Speaker, it is quite probable that he would’ not be a candidate. As it is, we have simply to choose between the present Chairman of Committees and another honorable member who, in the early stages of theFederal Parliament, held that office. We have had experience of both, and I repeat that no one can cavil at the way inwhich Mr. McDonald has carried out the duties of Chairman of Committees. The holder of ‘ that office has no pre-emptive right to the Speaker’s chair; but if he desires to secure it, I see no reason ‘why it should be denied him. If there are to be no further nominations, I shall vote for the honorable member for Kennedy, for I think that he has earned the position. I see no alternative course, if I am to be guided by a true sense of justice. If the caucus system has been introduced in connexion with the settlement of this question, I certainly regret it. I have had nothing to do with it. If it be true that honorable members on this side of the House have met in caucus, and selected a candidate for the office of Speaker, their action does not reflect great credit upon them. Having regard to the high office to be filled, it would have been far better for them to agree to fight out the question in the House. It is not because the Labour party have challenged honorable members on this side of the House to vote outside party lines that I intend to vote in the way I have indicated. If their challenge were the only consideration involved, I should take an opposite course. As it is, I have a free hand, and shall vote for the honorable member whom I think is best fitted for the office. Whoever is selected will be dependent for success upon the support that he receives from the House, and whether the honorable member for Laanecoorie or the honorable member for Kennedy be chosen, he will have a most difficult task before him in seeking to maintain the traditions of our late Speaker. He will have a right to expect the consideration of every honorable member during the remainder of the session. This is not a personal matter, and I hope that . Dr. Carty Salmon will accept my assurance that I intend to vote to the best of my judgment. I certainly regret that neither the honorable member for North Sydney nor the honorable member for Parkes has seen fit to stand for the office.
.- I regret the circumstances in which we are called upon to elect a Speaker and must also deplore the fact that party bias has been shown in connexion with the determination of this important question. We should seek to elect as Speaker one whom we all respect and whom we believe will do that which is right. I learn with regret that a caucus to deal with this question was held yesterday by honorable members opposite. Such conduct was very different from that which has prevailed in connexion wilh the election of a Speaker in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, as well as in other State Legislatures. The question ought to be lifted far above party politics, and we should be guided solely by a desire to elect to the office of Speaker the honorable member whom we consider best fitted for it. I move -
That the honorable member for Riverina, the Honorable John Moore Chanter, do lake the Chair of the House as Speaker.
Mr. Chanter was the first Chairman of Committees in this House, and lost the office through no fault of his own. Honorable members generally are aware that when the first Parliament had expired by -effluxion of time, Mr. Chanter, who was then Chairman of Committees, sought reelection as a member of this House, and owing solely to a mistake made by a Commonwealth officer, was not returned. Subsequently, the election was declared void, and at the second contest the honorable member was returned. He was associated during the first three years of the life of this Parliament with the late Speaker, and satisfactorily discharged the duties of Chairman of Committees at a time when many honorable members had come fresh from State Legislatures, the Standing
Orders and procedure of which were altogether different from those under which we work. Consequently his office was a peculiarly difficult one, but only once, so far as I can learn, was there an appeal from his decision to Mr. Speaker. The result of that appeal was that his ruling was upheld. This shows that Mr. Chanter’s experience as a member of the Parliament of New South Wales served him in good stead. I have, therefore, nominated him, and trust that the election will be decided quite apart from party considerations. Honorable members opposite say they are perfectly free to vote for whom they please, and I sincerely Rope that the House will exercise its discretion and refuse to be dominated by two Melbourne newspapers. This is a Federal, not a State, Parliament, and we ought to deal with the question before us upon broad principles, and select the candidate whom we consider best suited for the high office that we have to fill. I contend that the honorable member for Riverina in the early days of this Parliament displayed abilities fitting him for the position of Speaker, and that he should have the confidence of the House. If, however, Parliament is to be dominated by a few honorable members who meet in caucus, the outlook for Australia will be a bacl one. I have always opposed such domination, and it will be a bad day for the Commonwealth if a House of seventyfive honorable members is to be ruled by the decision of some seventeen or eighteen members. I trust that whoever may be selected will have the loyal support of the House, and that he will endeavour to emulate the splendid example set by our late Speaker. I have only to add that I trust we shall never again hear of the introduction of the caucus system in connexion with the determination of a question of this kind. If there is to be a caucus let it be a caucus of the whole House.
– I rise with pleasure to second the nomination of my old friend, Mr. Chanter, for we have been political friends perhaps for a longer period than have any other two members of the House. The honorable member for Bass has said nearly all that I intended to say as to the way in which the honorable member lost the position of Chairman of Committees. It is quite probable that he would have been Chairman of Committees to-day, and as such would have been chosen for the office that we now have to fill, but for the mistake of a Commonwealth officer. During the long years of our friendship, Mr. Chanter has always proved a true and earnest man, and I think I need say no more of him. I rose, not only to second this nomination, but to make one or two observations in regard to the late Speaker. I said nothing yesterday because the occasion was a very solemn one, and I was under the impression that probably there would be only two speakers to the resolution; but I wish now to say that I have been singled out for attack by a -vicious press. I had no greater friend than the late Speaker was- to me. He was the man who stood by me in the early days of Federation, when I was endeavouring to select a Commonwealth Ministry. There were those - and some are present here to-day - who tried to prevent his joining me, but he refused to listen to their counsel. He came to Sydney, and he would’ have joined the Government I was trying to form ; and he has been my friend ever since.
– The honorable member always bowed to the late Speaker’s ruling.
– I did; and he was, perhaps, the only man in the House who could control me, because I am a strenuous fighter. On the day before his death, after I had been speaking in the afternoon, he sent for me and asked me to be careful of myself. He ‘pointed: out that my voice was weak, and that I did not look well; and he said that if he could help me in any way he would gladly do so. After dinner, on the same day, I had a friendly and pleasant conversation with him in his room; and he gave me further advice. Wicked people who try to make out that I would do anything which I knew would injure him are the worst class of people to be found in the community.
– And! they do it for party purposes.
– For party purposes probably. I’ have always regarded the great man who has passed away as my friend and adviser in matters political; and honorable members must know that it would be furthest from my thoughts to do anything to in any way jeopardize his health. Had I known that he was not well I might not have spoken so long as I did on that afternoon.
– The honorable member did not speak for very long.
– I spoke for nearly two hours. As showing the feelings which the late Speaker entertained’ towards me I may say that while I wasaddressing the House the honorable member for Kalgoorlie handed me a note suggesting that if I did not feel my voice strong enough or did not feel well in any way I ought to cease speaking and ask leave to continue my remarks afterwards. I did not know at the time from whom the note came, but I subsequently ascertain that it came from Mr. Speaker. I feel I did right yesterday to leave the eulogies of this great man to the leaders of the House ; but I cannot allow any idea to get abroad that I would do anything to injure the man who was my guide in political life.
– The meeting of Ministerialists yesterday will be regarded by the country as a regrettable event. For the first time in the history of our national Parliament - and I know that there has been no such occurrence in the history of the State from which I come - the election of a Speaker has been made a party question. The honorable member for Bourke tried to make out that the report in the Age was incorrect - that there was no vote taken at the meeting. I sincerely hope that the report is incorrect, but, unfortunately, no one has denied that a vote was taken, and that every member who participated feels that he is bound by the result. If, however, honorable members do not feel bound in honour, I propose to give them an opportunity of doing what ought to have been done in the first place. I propose to nominate a gentleman who, if he will accept nomination, will, commanding, as he does, the respect of every honorable member, secure election by a very large majority. I refer to the honorable member for Balaclava; and I shall nominate him as one way out of the disgraceful position in which we find ourselves - the one way to return to the observance of the highest traditions of Parliament, which I hope will always be upheld. Further, it is the honorable way out ; and if honorable members opposite feel that, now that they have the whole facts before them, they have done that which they ought not to have done, they will, I hope, vote according, not to the decision of a section of Parliament at a party meeting, but according to their own private convictions.
– We will trust to the honorable member to find us “an honorable way out “ !
– The honorable member is called the Minister of Defence but he ought really to be called the Minister of offence. If he does not know the courtesy due to honorable members at a time like this, he ought to consider the dignity of his own high position.
– After the unseemly wrangling by honorable members opposite, that is a curious remark to make ! The honorable member is degrading Parliament ; but any baby can see through the trick.
– The honorable member does not like his sewer politics exposed - he does not like his connexion with such politics made known to the country as they have been made known. It has been stated without denial from the honorable member for Balaclava, that he was willing to submit himself as a candidate for the Speakership ; indeed, that he actually submitted himself as a candidate. Perhaps, it would be more correct to say that the honorable member did not submit himself, but that his name was submitted; and if that, as reported, should have been against- his will, and he is yet willing to stand, I can assure him of a majority. I do not like to have to say anything personal, but I repeat that if he be elected, he will have the support of every honorable member of the House during his period of office. The Minister of Defence has said that the Labour party always cast a party vote.
– Hear, hear !
– I was not in the House at the time, but I am cognizant of what took place. The honorable member knows that members of the Labour party most cheerfully voted the honorable member for Riverina into the Chairmanship of Committees.
– After the party had decided in caucus to do so.
– That is another incorrect interjection by the Minister of Defence. We have no secrets at our caucus; and it is impossible to have such a question even debated at such a meeting if only one member objects. We took no vote in caucus at all.
– Did one member of the Labour party vote against the honorable member for Riverina?
– That has nothing to do with the question. The honorable member for Riverina was not, and is not to-day, a member of our party. I am going to vote for Mr. McDonald in the first place, and, if he be defeated, I shall vote for the honorable member for Riverina. If the honorable member for Riverina is defeated, I shall vote for the honorable member for Balaclava, if he will allow himself to be nominated.
– Honorable members opposite will make a cat’s paw of anybody who will permit them !
– Indeed, I shall vote for the honorable member for Balaclava straight away; if his name is submitted first.
– Here is a lightning change, indeed !
– The members of my party, when I stood up, had no idea that I intended to nominate the honorable member for Balaclava. I did mention the fact to two or three honorable members sitting alongside me.
– Will the Ministerial party withdraw their nomination, and see whether we shall vote for the honorable member for Balaclava ?
– Oh, of course ; we shall do anything honorable members opposite desire !
– No, the Minister of Defence will do what the caucus told him to do - he dare not do otherwise. If every member of the Ministerial party is in the position that the honorable member for Wentworth says he is in, then every honorable member opposite, who believes that the honorable member for Balaclava is the most fit and proper person as Speaker, ought to give him a vote. If they do not do so, they show that they are bound to the Ministerial nomination, if only in honour. I have no desire to create a long discussion, but I must say that I am sorry that politics should be degraded in a way I never thought possible. The late Speaker and the late Government had, I thought, set up ideals that we would feel ourselves bound to follow ; and the position a’s set forth by the honorable member for Werriwa is upheld, not only by Todd, but by May.
– Does Todd or May say that a party have no right to meet and consider any question they like?
– May, on page 154, says-
Mr. Pitt was desirous of proposing Mr. Addington himself ; but Mr. Hatsell, on being consulted, said, “ I think that choice of the Speaker should not be on the motion of the Minister. Indeed, an invidious use might be made of it, to represent you as the friend of the Minister, rather than the choice of the House.” Mr. Pitt acknowledged the force of this objection.
– That has not been departed from in the present instance.
– Why, something infinitely worse has taken place. Think of a Prime Minister meeting only a section of the House.
– In caucus?
– Yes, taking the chair in caucus meetings. It is the nearest approach to American politics that we have seen in this Commonwealth ; and I hope that, as it is the first occasion, it will be the last.
– If we did not know the honorable member, we should think he meant what he says !
-The honorable member never means anything. We never know where we may find him, but we know that, in any case, it will not be where he was last week ; he chances according as circumstances suit himself. Then Todd, on page 252, said -
Upon Mr. Gladstone’s resignation, Her Majesty sent for Mr. Disraeli, and empowered him to form a Ministry. Being able to rely upon a majority of fifty in the new House of Commons, Mr. Disraeli had no difficulty in this task.
– We have had that read already.
– Then the Minister of Defence cannot have appreciated its significance; and I shall read it again for his benefit. The Minister of Defence is a very bad listener. I suggest that he should hold his tongue and listen now.
– This is incidentally wasting time.
– That is a great exhibition of the dignity of a Minister of the Crown ! Todd says -
By February 21, the new Cabinet was complete. It consisted of twelve members only, of whom six had seats in the House of Lords. And here it may be remarked that the opening of this Parliament - wherein the Conservative party had an undoubted majority - gave occasion for the distinct recognition of the admitted expediency of treating the Speakership of the House of Commons as no longer the prize of the party in power. Mr. Brand, formerly the
Whip of the Liberal party, who had been first chosen as Speaker under the Liberal Administration, was reinstated in office by the votes of a Conservative majority on the accession of Mr. Disraeli to power in 1874.
Was that practice followed by the present Government ?
– The only distinction is that it is no parallel to a case like this.
– No. What happened yesterday is, I am glad to say, absolutely without parallel, and, I hope, never will be paralleled. Has the House of Commons departed from that practice? I venture to say that no Ministry would live for one week, in the House of Commons, if it dared to do what has transpired here during yesterday and today. We are met on a very important occasion. While I have nothing personal to say against Dr. Carty Salmon, and I am sure that while he was in the chair I showed him every courtesy, yet I was one of those who found him wanting in that position, although he may have done his very best. Not only did I find him wanting, but a majority of the members of this House were of the same opinion. Honorable members opposite have not told us what permanent improvement has taken place in him that will make him more fit to hold the position of Speakernow than is Mr. McDonald, who, as Chairman, has given entire satisfaction to every member of the House. Only the other night, when we, his own colleagues, disagreed with his decision, because we did not see eye to eye with him, although we believed that he acted as he thought right, honorable members on the other side had nothing but the highest praise for his decision. Yet, in spite if the fact that he is absolutely better fitted to fill the position of Speaker than is Dr. Carty Salmon, they now propose to go back upon every conviction that they have expressed, and on the votes that they previously cast, in order to put into the chair one in whom this House cannot have entire confidence.I am very sorry to see the electionof a Speaker dragged down to the level of a party question. I am very sorry indeed that the Ministry did not even show the ordinary courtesy that was due to the Leader of the Opposition byasking him whether it was not possible for this section of the House to agree with the section opposite in electing a Speaker unanimously, if possible, or at least in choosing one who would receive the approval of the great majority of honorable members. We have the opportunity now to set matters right, and I hope that Mr. Wynne will accept nomination at my hands. I move -
That the honorable member for Balaclava, the Honorable Agar Wynne, do take the Chair of the House as Speaker.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin) £3-59]- - I regret that there should be any heat in this matter. I think our protest should be directed strictly against the pernicious partisanship of the Government. We should not say a word - in fact, I have not heard any - detrimental to Dr. Carty Salmon. We all try to be fair, and to do what is just, and I say that there is no nicer or more charming gentleman in the House than he is. Our protest, however, is against the method adopted yesterday by the Government _ in selecting their candidate without consulting the Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Corner party. I desire to second the nomination of the Honorable Agar Wynne, if he will accept it. Although I am pretty strongly partisan’ on other questions, I am sorry that partisan tactics have been introduced in the election of a Speaker. The Speaker is the first gentleman of the Commonwealth. He is selected to occupy a great and supreme position, and holds a unique position in the Parliament. He must have a judicial mind, and must be governed by an equable temperament, for his mission is to balance the conflicting political forces of the nation. He must so exercise his power that each member shall be able to enjoy every parliamentary right as completely as though he were the only member in the Parliament, and yet “so that each member, through the atmosphere in which he exists, shall gather force and strength from the other members. The Speaker, therefore, is the embodiment of the intelligence, impartiality, and fair play of the whole Commonwealth. That being so, the Speaker should not be chosen by a party. Consequently, the Labour party wisely refused to select a man, or even to talk about selecting one, except casually. It was a great mistake of the Prime Minister not to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, and not to invito all members of the House to meet and discuss the matter, in order to see if we could not come to an agreement.
– That would not have suited the Age.
– The Age must not be considered when we are about to .choose the Speaker of the Commonwealth Parliament. So far as concerns the honorable member who has been chosen by the Government caucus-bound party, I have the highest respect for him, and I want it to be distinctly understood that my protest is against the way the Governmen caucus selected him. The Speaker is in a position different from that of any other man in the House, but it seems now that he will be simply representative of a partisan section. Surely nobody wants that? Let me suggest that both sides should withdraw all the candidates who have been nominated, and come to a unanimous decision to elect the Honorable Agar Wynne, if he will accept the position.
– I gave an opportunity for a statement to that effect to be made. I suggested that we should go into conference on that point.
– Should not the Prime Minister hear this? It is indecent for him to be out of the chamber.
– An exhibition like this would drive anybody out.
– The exhibition is on your side - a Minister who cannot behave himself for two minutes.
– The larrikin of the Government !
– I trust we shall have no criminations or recriminations. They are not necessary. We ought to discuss this question carefully, cautiously, and in a Christian spirit. It is quite unnecessary to show any savagery in such a matter. The Government have set a bad example. Let us try to convert them if we can. Let us be missionaries unto the Government, and preach to them the gospel of proper procedure. In. America, when the various State Parliaments meet, a question of this kind is purely partisan. You know, before ever you get there, if one side has the numbers, who is going to be Speaker. You know who is going to run the whole show. We never knew that in Australia until now.
– You know who are going to be magistrates.
– We know in America who are going to be magistrates, and even who are to be the clerks. In fact, we know everything ; but that has never been the case, so far as I know, in the history of Australasia, nor, for thirtyfive years, in the history of Great Britain. No partisanship is imported into this question in Great Britain, and yet the British House of Commons is the cradle of parliamentary life - the institution to which the world turns for an example. If this Parliament intends to turn to the American Congress, and away from the British House of Commons, -I say: “Well and good, adopt the system which you have adopted,” but if this House wants to set an example which may be quoted in other parts of the world, there must be- no partisanship on the question of the Speakership. Why should hot Dr. Carty Salmon have just as good a chance in the open House as any one else? Why should not candidates submit themselves openly to the House, and let the House be the judge? It is sad to think that this system has been introduced into this new Parliament, which is not yet nine years old - introduced too, by one of the ideal men of Australasia. I should never have dreamt that the present Prime Minister would sit in a caucus like Dick Croker, or Charles F. Murphy, of New York, the present leader of Tammany Hall, and, cracking a whip over their heads, “ wallop “ the whole Government party into line. I could not have believed that if I had not seen it in the Age. If the Argus had published it-
– Do you believe it after seeing it in the Age?
– Do you think I doubt the Age on the Government? Is there an honorable member on that side who thinks that a paper that fights so hard for the progress and advancement of the present Government would say one word that would be detrimental to them? Not a bit of it. They are as guarded and as cautious as they would be about the rearing and maintenance of” their first child. This fungus or corporation party is the child and creature of the Age, and do honorable members think the Age will publish anything to injure the Government ? Whenever I take up the Age in the morning, and read an editorial or sub-leader on the present Government, I take it to be as purely orthodox as though I got it from the Bible. I have great pleasure in seconding the nomination of the Honorable Agar Wynne, for, in my opinion, no fairer, better, or truer friend ever walked this earth. If we agree to make him Speaker, no one will have reason to regret it. It will be practically the unanimous choice of the House, arrived at without ill-feeling of any kind.
– I wish to qualify or correct the misapprehension of honorable members that there has been a departure from the practice followed in the English House of Commons. If has been assumed that the practice which applies to the election of a new Speaker applies generally to the reelection of an old Speaker. Authorities which, from their antiquity, would not have been thought likely to recommend themselves to honorable members opposite, have been quoted, going back as far as the time of Pitt.
– The practice referred to is the practice which exists to-day.
– The position has been misunderstood. I shall quote two authorities which show that the right to nominate a Speaker on the occurrence of a vacancy is in the Ministry of the day.
– What is the Australian practice?
– Honorable members have cited authorities to influence the House, and they must allow me to reply to them. The practice which has been referred to has not been departed from. In order to pretend that the Speakership is not in ihe nomination of Ministers, it is usual to put up private members to propose a candidate. Allcitations of authority, from the time of Addington and Pitt up to the present, show that it is merely, for the sake of appearances that candidates are not proposed by Ministers.
– In this case there is noconsideration of appearances.
– None of us can afford to be self-righteous. Honorable membersopposite now say that, had another candidate been proposed, whom they assume was nominated - though we dc not admit that he was - they would have voted for him. The honorable member for Balaclava, for whom I have the highest respect, would no doubt sit in the Chair as well as, we know, he sits in the saddle; but there is nothing to show that, had he been nominated, honorable members opposite would have voted for him, although they saynow, knowing the inevitableness of a certain vote, that, had there been another nomination, they would have supported it-
– It was known by certain of the Ministerialists.
– The rules of the House prevent us from arriving at the real choice of honorable members in this matter. If A, B, C, and D were candidates for the Speakership, the question “ that Mr. A do take the chair as Speaker,” must be put as a separate motion, without any regard to the nominations of B, C, and D, with the result that some honorable members might feel compelled to vote for it, fearing that if A, who was not their choice, were not selected, a candidate whom they liked still less would be chosen.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Speaker should be elected by an absolute majority?
– The person elected should be chosen by the votes of a majority of the House from amongst the candidates submitting themselves; but our rules may prevent that.
– They did not compel the Ministerial party to select a candidate yesterday.
– It has been an unbroken practice, since the days of Pitt, that the Ministry, in whose hands the nomination of the Speaker lies, acts wisely in ascertaining the wishes of its supporters. Honorable members may be perfectly right in suggesting that, under a system of preferential voting, the Speaker would be the real choice of the House, and, perhaps, that would be a good method to adopt. But the contingency has not arisen. A better method, as pointed out by the honorable member for Boothby, is that adopted by South Australia, where, to avoid the appearance of division, the election is held in private. The names of the candidates are submitted informally to all the members, and although there is quite as much division of opinion and discussion as here, the public is allowed to assume that the choice was unanimous. That may be, on the whole, the best method, as we are sometimes ruled more by appearances than realities. But you still have dissension, which, it is said, ought not to exist on the floor of the House. I ask honorable members to consider an authority of more recent date than those which have been quoted. Mr. A. Lawrence Lowell, one of the best writers on constitutional law which America has produced, says, at page 259, of volume I., of The Government of England -
If only one person is nominated for Speaker he is called to the Chair without a vote. If more than one, they are voted upon successively, a majority being required for election. The proposer and seconder are always private members.
It does not rest with any honorable member to throw blame on the Ministry for following that practice, until we have had an opportunity to alter our Standing Orders -
The Speaker is, however, always selected by the Government of the day, and a new Speaker is always taken from the ranks of the party in power. Sometimes the electionis not uncontested, and this happened when Mr. Gully was chosen in 1895. But although the Speaker may have been opposed when first chosen, and although’ he is elected only for the duration of the Parliament, it has now become the invariable habit to re-elect him so long as he is willing to serve.
He goes on to speak of re-elections of Mr. Speaker in 1833 and 1835, since when the practice of re-electing a Speaker once chosen has been invariable, unless he has forfeited the confidence reposed in him.
– That instance does not apply to this case.
– I think that it does, negatively. The authority quoted by honorable members opposite was one which showed that the re-election of a Speaker who had proved himself capable is invariable. I have shown that there is no similar practice applying to the filling of vacancies.
– The honorable member has quoted an American authority.
– Then let me direct at tention to an English authority, Mr Leonard Courtney, who proved an admirable Chairman of Committees, although not re-elected. His case suggests that there is considerable difference between the qualities required in a Chairman of Committees and those required in a Speaker, and he was acknowledged to be one of the best Chairmen of Committees that the House of Commons ever had. Let me read, for the benefit of those who, for the moment, reject American decisions, what he says in The Working Constitution of the United Kingdom -
In any case a Speaker must be chosen by the new House of Commons, though this ofit self is not a sufficient reason for a session.It may now be taken as settled practice that a Speaker shall be re-elected who has proved himself competent for the post.
And, later, he adds -
This experience has established more strongly than ever the principle that a member once Speaker should remain Speaker as long as he is fit for the office. It will be observed that expressions have been used implying that the Speaker is the choice of the Ministers of the Crown. This is indeed the fact, though Ministers naturally have regard in this, as in all other questions, to the feelings and opinions of their friends; and the mere acts of proposing and seconding the candidates are ostentatiously left to private members.
I hope that I hare controverted the misapprehension created . bv the citations of honorable members opposite. It might be better if we adopted some rule of perfectability; but the Standing Orders do not facilitate the expression of the will of the majority, and, in regard to the Chairmanship of Committees, honorable members opposite have not helped us much.
– What was dene in the case of the late .Speaker?
– There was no contest. A month or two before the first Parliament met, the question was, would Mr. Kingston or Mr. Holder be in the Ministry, and the right, by usage, of the Government of the day to nominate one or the other to the Speakership was never questioned.
– Sir Edmund Barton, when lie knew that I had been elected, wrote to me a personal letter, asking me to reserve my vole for the Speakership until I got to Melbourne.
– It was known that either the late Mr. Kingston or the late Sir Frederick Holder would be a Minister, and that the Ministry would ask either one or the other to accept the position of Sneaker. That statement was made at the time, and surely it goes to confirm these authorities. That is all I am endeavouring to prove. Some honorable members opposite suggested that we should even remove the appointment of Chairman of Committees from the arena of party politics, but the Labour party did not help us to do so.
– But the statement to which the honorable member has referred was made prior to the formation of the first Federal Ministry.
– Yes. prior to the first general election. No doubt, the GovernorGeneral first sent for the honorable member for Hume to form a Ministry, but subsequently Sir Edmund Barton was sent for prior to the first general election, because there hnd to be some one to take charge for the time being of the administration of Commonwealth matters. The point that I wish to make is that, although over four months might have intervened be tween the making of the offer and the meeting of Parliament, it was stated that the Ministry would appoint either Mr. Kingston or Sir Frederick Holder to the position of Speaker. That means that the Ministerial right could not even be weakened by events during the lapse of months.
– But neither honorable member knew that he would get a majority when Parliament met to elect a Speaker.
– It was assumed, at the time and acknowledged throughout the country that the Government of the day had a right to nominate a candidate for the office and the power, according to the invariable practice, to secure his appointment. I ask honorable members who desire to claim a clean sheet on the ground of not making a question of this kind a party one, to look at the divisions taken in connexion with the appointment of Chairman of Committee. On 17th March, 1904, a division took place to determine whether Dr. Carty Salmon or Mr. Batchelor should be Chairman. The voting was very close, both being good men, and Dr. Salmon was elected by twenty-nine votes to twentyseven.
– And the honorable member voted against the honorable gentleman whom he is now supporting for the position of Speaker.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
– The honorable member voted with the minority.
– I paired with the Labour party, and not one member of that party voted on the other side. There was absolute unanimity among the Labour party on that occasion.
– And absolute unanimity amongst the Deakinites.
– It is said that an exception will sometimes prove the rule. May I claim to have been among the exceptions in that case who did not give a party vote. I did vote against Dr. Salmon - I voted for the nominee of the Labour party - and T think that I said that these matters should be raised above the arena of party strife. As a party endeavouring to bring about a better understanding-
– After that the honorable member alters his opinion.
– I have said something to justify my contention. I do not say that the practice we are adopting is the best one, but it is one that is practically pressed upon us by our Standing Orders, and has been followed from the days of Pitt to the present time.
.- The principal argument advanced by the Attorney-General is that the Government, having a majority behind them, are entitled to elect whom they please to the office of Speaker. The honorable member has sought to justify that contention by the quotation of certain authorities. I am not here to quarrel with the decision laid down by the legal adviser to the Ministry, but on a previous occasion, when we had to choose a Speaker, the honorable member who occupied the position of Leader of the Opposition was consulted by the head of the Government before any action was taken. It is for the Government to say what shall be our future procedure. They have seen fit to take a course different from that followed by the first Parliament ;. they are creating a precedent, and I presume they consider that, as a Ministry which’ has restored responsible government to the Commonwealth, they are taking a dignified course. I regret that they have seen fit to take this action. If I understood” the Attorney-General correctly, he wished to convey to the House that the Government as a party had not decided upon a nominee. He used at least equivocal language, saying that we need not necessarily infer that the Government as a Government had a nominee for the office of Speaker. My impression is, however - and, indeed, it has been stated - that there is a candidate for the office of Speaker who is absolutely a Government nominee.
– The Prime Minister has said so, according to the press.
– I am not going to deal with the controversial side of “the question The Attorney-General has said that it is the right of the Government to select for the position of Speaker one of their own supporters. In other words, if the Government have a majority they are entitled, according to the honorable gentleman, to use it in the selection of a candidate for the Speakership. That is an argument with which I do not agree, and if effect be given to it, the result will not be creditable. It was not, however, to discuss that matter that I rose. The Minister of Defence has said that we are having “another exhibition.” If there is an exhibition, it is not of our choosing; it comes from the Government.
– It has been forced on us.
– Entirely, but even now it may be obviated. We have now four nominations, and to discuss the merits of each candidate would do no credit to the Parliament.
– They have been discussed now for nearly two hours.
– And does the Prime Minister object to that ? The honorable gentleman is strong on dignity when it suits him, and I would remind him that this is an important epoch in the history of the Commonwealth. As soon as we had paid the usual compliment to the memory of the late Speaker yesterday, the Prime Minister rushed upstairs, and took part in a meeting of his party, called to consider this question. The Labour party held no such meeting; indeed, f. advised my party not to hold one, and we have not, as a party, come to any decision, save that which is vested- in me as leader. 1 am here now to make a suggestion without consulting any member of my party, although I have consulted the honorable members who nominated Mr. Chanter. The suggestion that I make to the Prime Minister now-
– Now ?
– -Yes, now. As there is undoubtedly a good deal of feeling in regard to the several nominations, and the way in which they have been made, I suggest to the Prime Minister that - although I believe the House will succeed under any Speaker - we should postpone our decision on the several nominations, and, in the meantime, have an open conference. If that course be adopted, I pledge my party to unitedly support the honorable member who secures the nomination.
– Why was the suggestion not made at the outset?
– Because the honorable member never gave us a chance.
– There was a chance hefore a second nomination was made - before there was any rivalry.
– The honorable member knows how highly I appreciate his constitutional experience and guidance, and I would remind him that he has officially advised me that, as Leader of the Opposition, I cannot make any approaches h> the Prime Minister of the day - that it is for the Prime Minister himself to approach any other representative in the House. J have acted on that advice, which I think lays down what is a very proper constitutional course to follow. It was for that reason that I thought it would be impertinence on my part to communicate with the honorable gentleman until he was ready to communicate with me.
– But the honorable member, when the House met, had the same opportunity as he has now to communicate this suggestion.
– What utter nonsense ; the honorable member knows that it is.
– If that is the Prime Minister’s objection, I can only say that I felt that I had no right to intervene until those who desired to nominate candidates for the office had been able to do so. Again and again the honorable member for Bass endeavoured to submit his nomination to the House. I asked him if he intended to nominate the honorable member for Riverina, and he said that he did. That being so, I could not reasonably intervene with any suggestion until the nomination in question had been made. It would have been impertiner.ee on my part to make a statement of this kind while there were nominations yet to be made.
– On the contrary, I think it should have been made before any one was nominated.
– The Prime Minister had control of the House.
– The Prime Minister does me a great honour if he says that I should have intervened before- the prerogative of the Government, according to the Attorney-General, had been exercised. The Attorney-General says that it is the right of the Ministry to nominate a candidate for the Speakership, and to secure his appointment. He has sought to prove that contention by the quotation of authorities. The Prime Minister now says that the Leader of the Opposition should have intervened before the Government had an opportunity through their supporters to speak.
– Surely it is open to any honorable member to make a suggestion.
– Is it possible to satisfy a Government that takes up such a position? We have one Minister making one statement, and another a directly opposite statement. In the circumstances, how is one, situated as I am, to take any forward step towards that which one believes is for the welfare of Australia? I hesitate to accept the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral that this is a case of the spoil to the victors.
– I distinctly said that all that I was doing was controverting the honorable member’s assertion that what is now being done was not the practice.
– If the honorable member now says that he did not wish to convey the impression that the Government had the right to do this, I shall accept hit statement.
– I did not say that. What I said was that according to the universal practice we have the right.
– My desire is always to find out what a speaker desires to communicate; and all that I desire to express at the present moment is the belief that, if we have a conference before a division is taken, I shall be able to withdraw the candidates nominated from this side ; I shall certainly endeavour to arrive at a result acceptable to honorable members. By this means we should observe a dignified procedure that would do credit to the national Parliament of Australia.
– I interpose with considerable” reluctance in a debate of an altogether unprecedented character ; but the Leader of the Opposition, in the exercise of an undoubted right, has chosen to make a proposal, to which the Government ought to make answer. First, let me repeat, without heat or excitement, what I have already said irregularly by interjection. I cannot understand why an honorable member, or honorable members, who had this proposal in their minds for taking another method in electing a Speaker; did not take the plain, simple, open, and straightforward course of putting their suggestion before us at the moment we met, or when this debate commenced.
– A nomination was made immediately.
– Even then there was only one nomination, there had been no competition, and no unfortunate personal comparisons, and there had been none of the animadversions, to which I do not desire to refer, except to express regret that they should be employed in connexion with a choice of this kind. Had the suggestion been made then, the House would have been in an absolutely judicial state of mind, and no member or candidate could have been prejudicially affected by the action taken. Now, after a debate which has been pushed apparently to its conclusion - after the subject has been exhausted after a fashion never known in my previous experience in cither State or Federal Parliament - we have this suggestion thrown at the last moment into the midst of the turmoil.
– I made the suggestion immediately I stood up.
– I differ with the honorable member. I heard the honorable member say what he, or others, thought might have been done; but that is as far as he went.
– That is as far as I could go.
– Honorable members on the Ministerial side knew that I held the view I have expressed.
– Possibly ; but 1 did not, and the circumstances are now entirely altered. I wish now to add without offence - though I fear it may cause offence - that even if this proposition “had been submitted in the first instance, we should have been bound’ to remember that honorable members opposite belong to a party with an organization, or caucus, -very different from that which we possess. We should have been perfectly certain that when honorable members opposite entered the House they would act, as they always do, as one man. We should not have had independent opinions from individual -members in regard to the choice of a Speaker ; but a block vote cast for some particular candidate. Such a vote, cast in a House otherwise left to the free personal determination of honorable members, would have given honorable members opposite an unfair advantage. If the proposition had been made in the first instance, I should have been inclined to accept it on an assurance that honorable members opposite would act simply as members of Parliament, and not as memTiers of a party exercising a block vote in a choice made by some preferential method.
– The Prime Minister is making an unwarrantable assumption.
– I have fifty times explained that the members of the Labour party are not bound in caucus on any question outside the party platform ; but the statement that we are so bound is iterated and reiterated for party purposes.
– I have observed that, without being bound by that pledge, honorable members opposite often act together as if they were ; and so we have the same result. The habit of discipline, of unity, and the strength of unanimity, are very powerful weapons, which they are entitled to use if they think fit, but it forces us to protect ourselves. If this suggestion had been made in the first instance, coupled with a condition of the character I have indicated - which, I am sure, would have been honorably observed by every honorable member - so that we could have entered into the consideration of this question on something like an equal footing., there would have been a good deal to be said for the proposal. But at this stage, and under present circumstances - after the personal criticisms offered, and after the partisan manner in which the whole efforts of honorable members opposite have been directed against a particular candidate - it would be most decidedly unfair, as every impartial man will admit, to act now in such a fashion. It would bp. impossible to expect, after a debate so full of angry feeling, that honorable members could enter a conference to make a choice, simply on the merits of the individual candidates. The time for that has passed. The Attorney-General has done no more than reply to the statements made by the honorable member for Werriwa and others, as to the accepted practice of the British Parliament.
– He did more than that.
– First, the AttorneyGeneral gave, not only an unanswerable series of precedents, and then the general principles affirmed by text-writers of a high class, showing indisputably that the procedure in the mother of Parliaments is not as stated by the honorable member for Werriwa. Beyond that, I did not understand the Attorney-General to go, though I had not the opportunity of hearing the bulk of his remarks. It’ has to be remembered that our meeting yesterday, which has been called a caucus, was so unlike a Labour caucus - so perfectly free that one or more members, who did not think that it was the best way to settle the question, walked out without let -or question. These members exercised their independent right. Of those who remained, another honorable member, as already stated in the House, refrains from voting at all, after having attended and taken part in the proceedings. Those present were put under no pledge or bond. It was suggested by more than one speaker that any who took part in the choice should determine to abide by the result. That proposal was not put to the vote, and was not enforced on any one; it was at most an honorable obligation on those who took part in the selection.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear ! A caucus !
– Nothing more unlike the Labour caucus could be conceived. Not only, as I say, did one or more members deliberately leave without any question being put, but they are still as much members of our party as before; but an independent course was afterwards taken by others. The action of those who remained was left to each man’s sense of what was right and fair. If a member took part in recommending a candidate, or in becoming a candidate, it was left to him to say whether it was fair to insist on his opinion after doing so, since he took part in a meeting which he might have left without expressing an opinion.
– So with a member of the Labour party.
– Whatever may be per-‘ mftted by the legal obligations which bind the Labour party, as a matter of fact, the party usually presents the same solid front as when bound by pledge. As I have said, the habit of acting together seems to exercise great sway.
– What is the suggestion - that what I say is not correct?
– No; what the honorable gentleman is stating is correct as to the legal obligations of the members of the Labour party, but then practice goes a long way outside even those large obligations. Consequently, the meeting which we held yesterday, though it is called a caucus, because it was a political gathering of members of Parliament, was in no sense the kind of caucus which binds honorable members opposite. The meeting yesterday exercised no powers of coercion over its members, either directly or indirectly, such as is employed opposite, apparently even in this case. As I have said, the Leader of the Opposition, if he had submitted his proposal at the first moment of our gathering to-dav, or had chosen to submit it beforehand, he would have been perfectly justified in either step, because this is a matter quite outside the ordinary discharge of Ministerial duties. The proof of this is that it was not dealt with by the Government as a Government question. The Cabinet did not even consider, much less decide, it. The members of the Government attended our meeting with others, but made no recommendation. I do not know how any one of my colleagues voted, or how a single member voted, and no member or colleague asked me how I was voting or had voted. It was purely an independent choice made by each of us, no one else knowing how he voted.
– Surely we had a right to do that?
– Perfectly. I am drawing a distinction between our proceedings yesterday at a political meeting and a Labour caucus.
– The meetings of the Ministerial party are political meetings, while we meet in “ caucus.”
– Yes; the meetings of the honorable members opposite are different in spirit, in intention, in practice, and in effect. I regret to say that, after nearly two and a half hours spent in a much too personal debate, we are no nearer a decision. We have arrived at a point from which it is impossible to retrace our steps. Nothing remains to be done except - and I hope in the briefest possible time - to select an honorable member who will. I am sure, when once chosen, receive the united support of the House in the discharge of his onerous duties.
.-I take this opportunity of lodging my protest against a member of a party - a party which we are now told is bound by caucus decisions - being placed in such a position that his vote is lost to those with whom he is associated. So long ago as fifteen years, I made a similar protest on the ground that a member of Parliament, on being selected as Speaker, or Chairman of Committees, disfranchises his constituency, and loses his party a vote. I know that the Labour party have several times lost a vote owing to Mr. McDonald being in the chair; and though that gentleman is, perhaps, my closest personal friend in the party, he knows that the view I am now expressing has been held by me for vears. My experience of over twenty years is that the Government with the numbers behind them have, with one single exception, nominated the Speaker, and have always carried their proposal. Only once in the history of the Victorian Parliament, so far as I know, was a member of the Opposition nominated by the Government, and that was Mr. Beazley, a member of the Labour party. That gentleman is not the Speaker of the Victorian Parliament to-day, simply because certain members of the Labour party objected to losing his vote, as they would if he were elected, and walked out of the chamber without voting.
– There was. no caucus about that !
– No. I think we ought to hear the last of all this humbugging nonsense about the caucus. After all, “caucus” is only, a synonym for a meeting of the Labour party, which must differ from meetings of honorable members opposite just as, for instance, a meeting of barristers must differ from a meeting of medical men. If the caucus on our side is more solid in its vote than is the caucus on the other, the fact simply shows our better organization. This question has come down to a party vote pure and simple, and no one need try to blind us to the fact. If my reading of the rules which govern this meeting to-day is right, I object to the fact that if a majority vote for one man the other two candidates have no chance of having a vote recorded for or against them. It seems to me that the outside public, when reading of these proceedings, will say, “ A plague on your different parties.” It is time we had some common sense ruling this Parliament. What has taken place to-day proves that the election of Ministers, which I hope will soon be brought about in this Parliament, will have to be conducted by ballot. If we had had an exhaustive ballot to settle this question, we should not have had this acrimonious discussion. The candidates nominated include Dr. Carty Salmon, a gentleman with whom I have had, perhaps, more severe differences than with any other honorable member, although I cannot recall an unjust decision given by him. He was voted out of the chair by a combination of the party then sitting on this side, following a threat that can be verified by reference to Hansard. That threat was carried into effect, and he lost his position.
– That was not done by the party who are now on this side.
– No. It was done by a party the remnants of which are on the opposite side to-day. However strong my differences with Dr. Salmon may have been, I am sure that, if he is elected, he will hold the scales fairly between side and side. Another candidate is my old friend Mr. Chanter, who, through no fault of his own, but because of the incompetency of the Federal officers controlling an election, was absent from this House for a time while a man of wealth was unjustly allowed to fill his place. The courts of justice ultimately reinstated him in his proper position, and removed that wealthy man from this Chamber.
– And his expenses have never been refunded to him.
– Governments, including two Labour Governments, have come and gone since then, and yet that injustice has not been remedied. Another candidate nominated is a friend of mine, with whom I am, perhaps, more intimately associated than with any one else in the House. I play many games of chess with him, and have a most friendly feeling towards him. If it comes to my vote, I will support him, but I wish that our party would follow the example .set by the Labour party in the Victorian Parliament, and decide that, until we have a .majority, we must keep every vote, so that we may make the greatest use of our strength. No one from this or the other side can cavil at my friend’s decisions in the chair. As a Protectionist, I certainly., have strongly objected to some of his votes, but he was a true Free Trader at that time, and, as new Protection had not been proposed, he gave his votes as his conscience dictated, clearly, distinctly, and truly, like the straight man that he is. Another gentleman has been nominated whom I would have seconded had not the honorable member for Darwin forestalled me. If this matter had to be decided by an exhaustive ballot, that gentleman would have possibly won more votes, especially at this time, than any of the other candidates. I am tired of going back for an example a hundred or a hundred and twenty years, to the time of Pitt, when, in England, no man held a vote because he was a. man. For the matter of that, no man in Great Britain to-day has a vote because of his manhood. I am tired of going to the “ Mother of Parliaments “ for an example. It is absurd to say that we in Australia, with our extended franchise and our freer laws, must always go back a hundred years or more for a precedent, to a nation which hesitated for so many years to bring the Ballot Act into existence. Have we not also the example of
Walpole, who held office in Great Britain fortwenty years by bribery and corruption so vile and horrible that it is held up to execration even at this day? Sooner than be guided by the quotations given by the Attorney-General, I would take the good sense of the Democracy of Australia, and say that such elections as this should be conducted by an exhaustive ballot, especially when we hear to-day the phrase, “To the victors the spoils”- of office. With an exhaustive ballot, no one could say that there had been any lobbying. I have put on record my protest, and, if I could find another man who held my opinions, I should walk out of the chamber and refuse to vote. The present system robs a constituency and a party of a member’s vote, and I would sooner see the Speaker and Chairman of Committees elected from outside. An example is to be found in the various Trades Hall Councils, which are the Parliaments of the working man. They do not elect their presidents for long terms. So far as my knowledge goes, with the exception of the early institution in the fifties, no president has been elected by those bodies for more than one year.
– And that is long enough.
– It is quite long enough. Switzerland, the most Democratic country of the world, a country that is now called the school-house of Europe, never allows the President of the Republic to hold office in two successive years, nor does it allow the President of the Legislative Chamber to be elected for more than one year. We, when we elect a man to a position like this, make it almost a lifelong appointment. As a Democrat and a member of the Labour party, which is the soul and essence of Democracy, I lodge my protest against what is now being done. I lodged it fifteen years ago, and it has taken a long time to bear fruit, but the recent election of Speaker in the Victorian Parliament has not caused the Labour party there to lose a vote. If a member of that party had been selected for the position, his vote would have been lost, but now the party vote is strong and solid. Sometimes a Speaker dare not offend, for he knows that the hour may come when all those votes will be wanted. I would sooner see an independent man from outside Parliament in the position of Speaker. Having uttered my protest, and proved my contentions conclusively from the two splendid instances of Switzerland, the school-house of Europe, and of the Trades Hall Councils of Australia, I will conclude. I regret that this has devolved into a purely party vote, and that I am bound to give my vote accordingly.
– I have to thank the honorable member for Hindmarsh and my kind friend the honorable member for Darwin for nominating me for the high position of Speaker. Yesterday I attended the caucus meeting - the first I have ever attended, and probably the last, as I have always been opposed to them. There I suggested to the chairman that it should be left to the whole of the members of the House to choose a Speaker. I feel that a great mistake was made in not calling members of the House together at a general meeting, to discuss the question, so that a Speaker should have been proposed and seconded, and’ unanimously elected when the House met. If that had been done, there would not have been any of the unpleasantness that has occurred to-day, or that may perhaps occur in the future.
– Why not do it now ? Let us adjourn until to-morrow.
– The chairman of the meeting did not agree with my proposition, and it was proposed that nominations should be received. If Mr. W. H. Irvine, or Mr. Bruce Smith, or Mr. Dugald Thomson, had agreed to be nominated, I am sure that the House would unanimously have supported any one of them. I should not have opposed any one of them, but I allowed myself to be nominated at the meeting. I was not successful in obtaining the highest number of votes. Probably I did not have sufficient friends who had confidence in me, or perhaps they thought some of the other gentlemen nominated were better entitled to the position! than I was.
– Try the House.
– The meeting was not the House. But, having attended the caucus meeting, and it being clearly understood that the members present would abide by the decision of the meeting, I feel that it is my duty, as a loyal member of the party, not to allow my nomination to be made.
– That is gagging the House.
– It may be so; but. at any rate, I attended the meeting. I did not leave it, and, therefore, I think I am in honour bound by what took place there. I believe, from expressions used in this Chamber to-day by many friends on both sides, that, if the matter had remained a non-party question, I should have been honoured by being elected as Speaker. But, having taken up the position that I did yesterday, I feel that I must forego whatever chance I had of that honour, and remain a private member. One cannot help feeling very grateful to friends, especially those on the Opposition side, who are opposed to me in politics, for the many kindly expressions they have used today regarding myself, and also to many honorable members on this side, for what they have said privately, who would, if they had had an opportunity, have voted for me. In the circumstances I should be very pleased if the honorable member who proposed me would withdraw my nomination.
Motion (Mr. Hutchison’s), by leave, withdrawn.
.- After the speech that we have just listened to from Mr. Wynne, those who have been preaching anti-caucus and anti-caucus methods ought to close their lips for ever. I do not say that honorable members opposite are not entitled to decide by majority on questions of public policy what legislation will be best in the interests of the country ; but in this case they have departed altogether from the question of policy, and the Prime Minister’s speech cannot be interpreted as meaning anything else than this: - “We have got the numbers, and we are going to have this position.” We are all sorry for the necessity for this election, but I agree with the honorable member for Denison that, whilst we regret the circumstances, we must, as public men, face the question. I therefore cannot join very enthusiastically in the view that we cannot settle the matter in open Parliament, and in the light of public criticism. I am not very enthusiastic about the suggestion that a question of this kind should be settled bv a meeting before we assemble in Parliament. We have a Ministry led by a gentleman who has always denounced caucuses and their effects. Speaking on the 25th May last, at a meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall, to which admission was by ticket only, and where he was to explain a policy which is not now . before the country, he said -
I say that when some of your representatives go into a room, and a division is taken, say, amongst twenty-one members of Parliament, supposing eleven vote on one side and ten on the other - all voting according to their judgment and conscience - the ten come out no longer as representatives of the people. They come out as delegates of delegates. They come out as the representatives of eleven other representatives. Where is your freedom? Where is your independence ? . Where is your liberty ? What is the effect upon the constituents of the ten out-voted men? What is the effect upon the thousands of the constituents who elected those ten men, who are compelled to vote against their conscience and their judgment at the dictation - not of the constituents, but of fellow representatives?
– That is totally different.
– The members of the Labour party say that they are prepared to support certain candidates for the Speakership, even in preference to their own nominee, rather than make this a party matter. But what is the position of the Prime Minister? According to the most accurate reports that we can get, thirty-two Ministerialists attended a caucus yesterday, and, according to the Age of this morning, seventeen voted one way and fifteen the other.
– The statement made in the Age is incorrect.
– This is the first time that I have heard ‘the honorable member repudiate an Age statement. That newspaper is not remarkable for its veracity, but it is the organ of the Government, which could not live a week without its support. It has also first-hand information as to the intentions of the Administration. Does the Government Whip deny that there was a ballot?
– That was not in question.
– If there was a ballot, it does not matter whether the voting was seventeen to fifteen or twenty to twelve; the figures are immaterial. Some honorable members opposite say that no resolution was carried binding them to adhere to the decision arrived at, but they acknowledge that they are in honour bound to do so. I believe that the honorable member for Balaclava, but for the result of that secret ballot, would be the choice of themajority of honorable members this afternoon. Having taken part in the ballot, he has followed a manly course in refusingto allow himself to be nominated Speaker.
Yet his action shows that the party is bound by the decision come toat its meeting yesterday.
– The only obligation in his case is his sense of honour.
– Does the honorable member contend that other men are not amenable to a sense of honour, and require a. pledge and a signed agreement ?
– I have not taken up that position.
– The attitude of the honorable member for Balaclava seems to be appreciated by all who took part in the ballot, which shows that the decision of the Ministerial caucus is as binding as any decisions of the Labour caucus, which are only arrived at on questions of policy. I wish now to deal, in the light of experience, with the merits of the candidate who has been put forward. My statements regarding him are not to be taken as reflecting on him personally. I have no personal feeling against him, but my knowledge of his conduct in the chair makes me feel strongly that he is entirely unfitted for the Speakership.
– The honorable member should not discuss that now; it will be sufficient to vote against the motion.
– I am compelled to discuss the matter now, because the nomination has been forcedon us as a result of the Ministerial caucus decision. The Prime Minister, in order to establish the fact that the members of the Ministerial party are bound only by their sense of honour, said that he did not know how other Ministers had voted at the caucus. Apparently, therefore, the Ministry was not unanimous. Ministers accept the result of a secret ballot, and will waive their personal opinions to give effect to it ; yet they will not admit that it was a caucus decision.
– Only two members opposite know what the voting was. They are the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Franklin.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie was, on the 17th March, 1904, elected Chairman of Committees by twenty-nine votes to twenty-seven, the honorable members for Robertson and Angas then voting against him, and the right honorable member for East Sydney for him. On the 2nd August, 1905, he was re-elected by thirty-five votes to twentv-seven, the honorable members for Darling Downs,
Hume, Maribyrnong, and Bass, and Messrs. Isaacs and Kennedy, voting against him. But, on the 20th June, 1906, when a third election took place, he was defeated by twenty-one votes to twenty-eight, although the House had had experience of his abilities during more than two years, and Parliament was to expire in a few months. On that occasion he was defeated by a majority of seven. Nine pairs were recorded, so that altogether sixty-seven votes were accounted for. Surely, when a Chairman is defeated in the dying hours of a Parliament, after members have had two years’ experience of his abilities, it is an indication that, in the opinion of the House, he has not given complete satisfaction.
– Did not the honorable member for Bass second his nomination on the last occasion?
– That was because they could not get any one else.
– At that time the Government had so small a following that they, I assume, had to call on the honorable member for Bass.
– Who opposed the honorable member for Laanecoorie when he was defeated ?
– The honorable member for Kennedy, the present Chairman of Committees. Among those who, on the 6th June, 1906, declared that the honorable member for Laanecoorie was not fitted to occupy the Chairmanship of Committees for the remaining months of the session, were the honorable members for Oxley, Illawarra, Wentworth, Cowper, Robertson, and East Sydney, and Messrs. G. B. Edwards, Lonsdale, and Conroy.
– It must be remembered that the Chairmanship of Committees was at that time a sessional appointment, so that the candidate ran the risk of being punished for anything he might have done during the preceding session.
– Is it to be said that those who voted against the honorable member for Laanecoorie wished to punish him for something which he had done?
– I think that the honorable member is drawing too severe an inference.
– I am only dealing with facts. The House refused to elect the honorable member for Laanecoorie, because honorable members thought that he was not fitted for the position of Chairman, although he had filled the chair for more than two years. If he was not defeated for that reason, why was he defeated?
At any rate, his claims were not considered to be as good as those of the honorable member for Kennedy. On 10th July, 1907, Mr. McDonald was re-elected by twenty-six votes to twenty-one, his opponent being the honorable member for Laanecoorie. On that occasion, the present Minister of Home Affairs, as well as the Attorney-General, the honorable member for Oxley, the honorable member for Dalley, and the honorable member for East Sydney, once more voted for Mr. McDonald. If the honorable member was entitled to their support on that occasion, is there any reason why he should not command it now ?
– I have already said that Iintend to vote for him.
– I frankly admit that the honorable member seems to be remarkably free from the caucus opinions of honorable members opposite. We are now, however, to have an affirmation of the principle of the spoils to the victor. When the honorable member for Laanecoorie was defeated, he rose and thanked his supporters, and went on to say that -
With regard to those who decided they could no longer supportme for the position, I recognise that they have given effect to the threat that their leader saw fit to utter to me last session. I offer them my most profound commiseration.
Do honorable members opposite think that an honorable member who could make such a statement as that possesses the temperament requisite to enable him to preside over the deliberations of the House in a dignified manner? Is it such a statement as one would expect from the occupant of the Chair? Whilst I have expressed my opinions of the action of the Government, I am not going to regret it, because I feel that, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, so surely will their action recoil, boomerang-like, upon them. They are going to ignore the services of an honorable member who is admittedly a fair and capable Chairman of Committees, and who has been twice chosen for that position in preference to the honorable member whom they now intend to Support for the office of Speaker. They are going to desert Mr. McDonald, merely because he does not belong to their party. They have determined to deal with this appointment from a party stand-point; and, whilst they are entitled to do so, we on this side are equally entitled to point out what will be the result of their action. I have no doubt that it will recoil upon them, and that the day will come when it will not be possible for them to apply this method to the selection of an honorable member for the office of Speaker.
.- It is much to be regretted that a discussion, and more especially a discussion of a personal character, should have taken place on this question.
– All party questions give rise to personal considerations.
– But this is not a party question.
– Did not the honorable member’s own party holda meeting to decide who should be selected for the office?
– I do not wish to answer questions; I desire simply to make a statement of my own views.
– Do not lecture us.
– I am not. I repeat that it is to be regretted that we should have drifted into a discussion of this question with no one to preside over our deliberations. The action taken by the Government in this case is by no means unprecedented, although the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, in very strong terms, spoke as if similar circumstances had never previously arisen in any Parliament. The honorable member sought to draw from the attitude of honorable members on this side of the House the inference that it was with them a case of the spoils to the victors.
– What else is it ?
– Let me quote, as a precedent for the action of the Government,. Speaker Gully’s case.
– Take the case of Speaker Madden in the Victorian Legislature.
– I prefer to go for my authority to the mother of Parliaments, since the rules, forms, and practice of the House of Commons apply to any procedure not covered by our Standing Orders. I propose to quote a precedent which must bewell within the memory of honorable members present. In the House of Commons, on the 10th of April, 1895, the question of the Speakership arose. The Liberal party wasthen in the majority, and thehonorable member for South Bedford, Mr. Samuel Whitbread, as the spokesman of that party, moved that Mr. Gully should take the Chair of the House as Speaker. He said on that occasion -
I regret to learn that upon this occasion that practice which has now happilv endured for more than half-a-century is likely to be broken, and that the selection of those whoform a majority of this House is to be questioned.
– That was simply a statement that the Liberal party were adopting the doctrine of the spoils to the victors.
– No. Mr. Whitbread’s motion having been seconded, opposition was raised to the practice to which he had referred by leading members of the Tory party; so that to-day honorable members opposite take the view which was then advocated by the Conservative party. Sir John Mowbray, in proposing the appointing of Sir Matthew White Ridley, said -
I totally demur to the proposition. . . . that the selection of the Speaker rests with the majority.
– With the majorityof the House, or the majority of a party?
– The allegation was that for more than half-a-century the practice had been for the election of the Speaker to rest upon the majority, and to that Sir John Mowbray expressed his dissent. But, although the question was vigorously discussed, the debate was singularly free from personal acrimony of the kind that has been imported, unfortunately, into the present discussion. The result of the debate was that Mr. Gully was elected by a small majority.
– He was elected on strictly party lines.
- Mr. Gully was elected by 285 votes to 274.
– Why does not the honorable member tell us why he dees not want his men to belong to a union, and who circulated the lie about Ronald ?
– We have no one to preside over our deliberations, and the honorable member is offensive. I am simply endeavouring to bring before honorable members certain considerations. I do. not wish to dictate to them in anyway. I desire merely to call attention to a precedent, and I think that the honorable member’s conduct is ungentlemanly and unworthy of this House.
– You come out and fight against me.
– A few months after Mr. Gully’s election to the position of Speaker, a new Parliament was elected, and although the Conservative party were then in the majority, Sir John Mowbray, who had on a former occasion opposed Mr. Gully’s nomination, rose in the House and said that as Mr. Gully had so well acquitted himself in the office of Speaker, he felt that it was their duty to re-elect him, notwithstanding he did not belong to their party.
– The same thing applies to Mr. McDonald.
- Sir John Mowbray displayed a spirit very different from that exhibited by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I trust that honorable members will recollect that we are proceeding to elect, not a master, but a servant, in whom we must trust, and who should be respected by all. There can be no question as to the precedent for the action taken by the Government. In the case to which I have referred, the majority selected a nominee, leaving it open to any honorable member to oppose that selection. The rule is for the majority to make a nomination, and the man who is elected is afterwards loyally supported, regardless of the party to which he may belong. We must look to the future. It would be unwise to say that because an honorable member has been nominated from his own side of the House, his claim is being advocated on the principle of the spoils to the victors.
– It is nothing else.
– I do not expect to convince honorable members who choose to take the opposite view. As to the meeting yesterday, I may say that I attended it, although I had not seen any one in regard to the matter, and knew nothing about the election.
– For whom did the honorable member vote?
– I had the honour and privilege of voting for the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I had not spoken to him on the subject, and did not know that he would agree to being nominated, but I voted for him, because I thought he was worthy of our acceptance as Speaker. I am more friendly with the honorable member for Balaclava, personally, than I am with the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and I should have been glad indeed to support him if the majority at that meeting had determined that he should be selected for the office.
– What was the majority in favour of the honorable member for Laanecoorie?
– The honorable member must not ask me. I took so little interest in the matter that I have no knowledge at present of the majority. I was about to add that the honorable member for Laanecoorie was proposed by me at the meeting in question, and that the honorable member for Balaclava, if the majority had thought fit to select him for nomination, would have been equally acceptable to me. There was no combination or agreement any more than it could be said that there was a combination or agreement if I, meeting the honorable member for Gwydir in the street, and being asked by him, “Where are you going?” replied, “I am going to the cricket ground,” with the result that he rejoined, “lara going in the opposite direction. Let us decide to go together.” That is all that was done- there was no further obligation.
– The honorable member will admit that he was in caucus yesterday.
– There was no caucus.
– What is a caucus?
– I am not going to demonstrate that to-night, though I may do so on another occasion. If there was a caucus, it was a very different arrangement from the sort of meeting we understand honorable members opposite hold. Unnecessary heat seems to have been imported into the discussion. I was, and I am still, perfectly content to accept any honorable member who is selected for the position. I think I have established the fact that on the precedent of the House of Commons the nomination lies with the majority of the House.
– This selection was arrived at by seventeen members.
– No matter how it was arrived at, it is by majority of the House that the selection is made. It will be seen from what I have read that honorable members opposite are now really putling forward the views held .by Mr. Balfour and his Tory friends in the British Parliament ; but in England the Tory party displayed the right spirit, in their desire to maintain parliamentary institutions, and within six months, when in. a majority, proposed the very man they had before opposed.
.- The naive confession of the honorable member for Mernda as to what he did yesterday, and why he did it, must be very illuminating to members of the House and the people of the country. The honorable member attended a caucus meeting, yet he now declares that he never had the faintest idea that a caucus meeting was any other than what he ingenuously terms a “political meeting.” On our side, too, , we learn something that astonishes us not a little, that a caucus is a meeting of persons of opposite opinions who say to one another, in the most casual way, “You are going that way, and I am going this way ; let us take a vote to decide which way we shall go, and go together. ‘ ‘ The honorable member for Mernda, at, the meeting, proposed Dr. Carty Salmon as the Ministerial candidate for the Speakership, because he believed that gentleman to be the best man for the position. He was quite within his rights in so doing, and his attitude is so far absolutely unassailable. But what did he then do? He agreed that if the honorable member for Balaclava got more votes than Dr. Carty Salmon, he would not support the best man, but the next best man.
– I did not say that.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that if more votes had been cast against Dr. Carty Salmon than for him, he would still have supported that gentleman ?
– I should have then supported the honorable member for Balaclava.
– Of course. The honorable member for Mernda has been in politics many years, and has denounced the caucus a hundred times; yet to-day he comes out with . a statement of principles which, I venture to say, would destroy him, or any other man, if he expressed them on the public platform. The honorable member’s idea of the caucus as a means of securing unanimity suggests a Christian, on his way to heaven, meeting a sinner going to hell,’ and saying to him, “Look here, let us toss up to see which way we shall go, and then both go together.” It is beyond doubt that, unless the Christian has a double-headed penny, to hell he will go. The statements of the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Mernda, and the honorable member for Balaclava, have clearly established the fact that there was yesterday a caucus meeting of the ordinary kind for a most extraordinary purpose. The Prime Minister tells us that this was not a Government meeting. Of course it was not; it was a party caucus. It was exactly the same kind of caucus the Labour party have always held on matters concerning its platform - that, and nothing less. We are told that members who attended that caucus are only “bound in honour.” There never are in any caucus other bonds than those of honour to bind a man. A man gives his word to abide by the decision. That is all that keeps the Labour party to any determination; and there could be nothing more sacred or effective. By seventeen votes to fifteen, or whatever the numbers were, the meeting yesterday decided to support Dr. Carty Salmon. On the Opposition side of the t House there are thirty odd votes, and on the other side there are thirty-nine, more or less. If the seventeen supporters of Dr. Carty Salmon ‘compel twenty-two persons to vote against their convictions, it means that the Speaker is to be elected by seventeen members. This places the prospective Speaker in a most invidious position. I believe that on one occasion I voted in favour of Dr. Carty Salmon, when he was a candidate for a position in the House; and I have absolutely no objection to him as a member of the House, and as one familiar with procedure in Committee. All I say is that the House, in the most deliberate way, preferred Mr. McDonald to Dr. Carty Salmon; and the House, which took that step after experience, is supposed to know its own mind. The honorable member for Mernda has told us that we ought to follow the precedent of the House of Commons. It is quite true that in England the party in power usually put forward their man ; but do they put forward a partisan? In the w.hole period covered by the history quoted by the Attorney-General, from the time of Pitt until now, it has been almost the invariable practice in the House of Commons to nominate a man practically unknown. When Mr. Gully was elected, he was elected by a House that hardly knew him. I am only speaking from memory, but of Brand, Peel, Gully, and Lowther, all but the last were almost unknown ; and in every case the Speaker selected was not a partisan. The only time that the British Government attempted to elect a partisan they were beaten. I emphatically distinguish between a member of a party and a partisan. I myself never pretend to be anything more than a party man. Whatever virtues or defects lie in a strong supporter of a party, lie in me and men of my kind. It would be grossly improper, even if I were otherwise qualified, to place me in the Chair by the vote of a party. I have neither the temperament, the record, nor that reputation for impartiality, as essential as the actual virtue of impartiality itself. The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House. He must be above party. He ought not to owe his election to a party vote. That view which applies to every House applies particularly to this House, and the present circumstances. The newspapers have lately been ringing with stories of furious party warfare of such a character that pairs, for the first time in the history of Parliament, have been refused. Under these circumstances, it would not be right or proper to elect Dr. Carty Salmon, who is a notorious partisan - whose name was mentioned freely when the present Fusion Ministry was formed, and who is well known as a man who is heart and soul behind that Fusion. Under the circumstances in which party warfare is carried on here, to place Dr. Carty Salmon in the Chair would be neither more nor less than to elevate a partisan to the dignity and position of chief officer of the House. A partisan, no matter what his intentions, cannot help seeing through the’ glasses of party.
– I think that Mr. McDonald is the only Chairman of Committees who has taken part in a party debate.
– Happily for us, only last Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. McDonald acted in a way towards his party and friends and supporters that no purely party man could ever act. Mr. McDonald went out of his way, as it appeared to us, to prevent us from taking a certain step, and we were practically warring with his decision all that night. Mr. McDonald’s impartiality has never been questioned.
– I repeat that Mr. McDonald is the only Chairman of Committees who, during his term of office, has taken part in a party debate on the floor of the House.
- Mr. McDonald is perfectly entitled to dissociate himself, as a member, from Mr. McDonald, the Chairman of Committees ; and he has contrived to carry out both functions in a way that leaves no room for criticism. There is no man who has been so singularly successful in detaching himself, once he got into the Chair, from any of his old party associations, as the member for Kennedy. As I say, the House of Commons practice has always been for the party in power to select a man who has never made himself objectionable, or even prominent ; and the effect has been to leave no room for the supposition that it was a case of spoils to the victor. To pass over Mr. McDonald for an ex-Chairman of Committees who was defeated is, on the very face of it, a party move. The Leader of the Opposition has put forward the reasonable proposition that we adjourn the debate to enable honorable members to confer, and arrive at that free selection the House should make. No honorable member will deny for a moment that, if a vote be taken now, we shall not get the Speaker whom the House desires. We simply have to choose between two men; and it will be a party vote pure and simple. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Mernda have denied that the vote taken yesterday was a caucus vote; but in face of the facts such denial will not serve. I say most emphatically that the Labour caucus has never ventured to assert itself in regard to this question in any shape or form. Members of the Labour party enter this House absolutely untrammelled, free to vote for any candidate they please. The Prime Minister said at Ballarat, only a little while ago, that he was quite aware that the Labour party were only bound to the programme, and not to other business that comes before the House; tout to-day he has told us that, although we are not bound, we always vote together. If there is any objection to the caucus system, it is that members of a party are bound; and I say that. on the question before us, we are not bound, whereas the honorable member for Mernda, and every honorable member opposite who attended the meeting yesterday, are absolutely bound in honour to vote for Dr. Carty Salmon. The Labour party has never been bound in any other way than in honour, because what else is it to put your name at the foot of a document, even when the pledge comes into force? A man pledges his word, and is his word something different from his honour? Such contentions are only trifling and quibbling. The Prime Minister said he could not accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay, because it came too late. Yet we now learn that the honorable member for Balaclava made the very same suggestion himself yesterday to the caucus. In face of such a revelation, what can we think of the Prime Minister’s action? It is clearly an effort to carry this election, I shall not say. by a trick, but by something very like it. I do say that, if the honorable member for Balaclava had known as much yesterday as he knows now, he would not have gone into that caucus at all, because he never had a show there, and he says that he will never go into another. The honorable member for Werriwa pointed out that five or six New South Wales members of the Fusion party were coming over in the train. Had they been present at the meeting, very likely somebody else would have been selected. Dr. Salmon is notoriously one of the supporters of the Deakin party. I will not say he was disappointed, but he was not selected as “a member of the Ministry, and now, when the first vacancy comes, he gets it. What are we to think? What will the people outside think? Naturally, the honorable member is a partisan, he is a faithful follower; he is always present, and he gets the first vacant office. If it were a Ministerial office, I should have absolutely no objection, for he would deserve it ; but the presiding officer of this House ought to be a man from whom every member on this side, as well as on that, can confidently expect an absolutely fair deal. We shall never get that from a partisan. If I were in the Chair, would members opposite consider that they were likely to get from me that fair and impartial consideration-
– The honorable member would not hear them.
– That would be very much in their favour. I should be prejudiced against them then only for reasons that God Almighty was responsible for. There are a number of gentlemen on the opposite side who everybody knows, had they been nominated, would have been chosen by the House without question or cavil. We have always opposed the honorable member for Parkes politically, from the inception of the Labour party. He has been our consistent and bitter opponent, yet no one would ever question his absolute impartiality. Nobody has questioned it. If I were in a Government, and had the power to put a man upon the Bench, I would just as soon put him there as any man I know, and stand my trial before him, civilly or criminally, because . I believe him to be fair and of a judicial cast of mind. It is now July, and we have to go through four months yet of a very stormy session. It is of no use to say that we have not, because we have, and there will be required from the gentleman who occupies the Chair that tact and command of the House which can only come from one in whom every section has confidence. He must not only be impartial, but we must believe” him to be so. And, of course, the House must believe that he is capable in every respect to hold the position. I do not hesitate to say that, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it would be very much better, even if Dr. Salmon should be ultimately selected, that the House should go into conference, decide upon a man, come back into the chamber, and proceed directly to elect him.
– Would not the best memorial that we could erect to the late Speaker be to have a dignified selection of his successor?
– Certainly. In order to give the House the opportunity which it ought to have to choose its presiding officer without any caucus domination, I propose to submit a motion. I reached Melbourne only to-day, with five or six other members of mv party ; and I am given to understand “that the Labour party did not even consider the question as a party in any way. We have the assurance of our leader that our party will go into such a conference with an. absolutely open mind.
– Yes ; and with no candidates.
– That means that our party has not made up its mind to do anything in the matter, and that it has come here with the single idea of getting the best man to preside over the deliberations of the House. In the circumstances, I beg to move -
That the election of a Speaker be not proceeded with until a conference of members for the purpose of better ascertaining the feelings of the House has been held.
I trust, Mr. Clerk, that you will give the House an opportunity of voting upon that motion. I am certain that you will ransack your Parliamentary Practice in vain- for a precedent ; but there are some circumstances so unique-
– The Clerk will simply act as the chairman of a public meeting.
– I agree with the honorable member that you, .Mr. Clerk,, are practically in the same position as is the chairman of a public meeting. I see that the Standing Orders do not provide at all for this contingency. They simply direct that in a new Parliament the House shall proceed to elect a Speaker; a member is proposed, and if unopposed, is called to the chair; but, if not, a vote is taken. I submit that that is merely an indication of the way in which the Speaker is to be elected, and does not in any way curtail the ordinary methods of debate, or prevent the House from adjourning the debate. A motion for the adjournment of the debate is always in order, nor do the Standing Orders prevent us from moving the previous question. I have told you, Air. Clerk, that if you say that this motion is not in order, I shall be compelled either to move that the debate be adjourned, or, “ That this question be not now put,” which is practically the same thing. The motion “ That this question be not now put,” must always be in order when there is a motion before the House. That being so, it means that the question is open for discussion in the ordinary way, and subject to all the ordinary methods by which debates are conducted or adjourned. It has been admitted, most frankly and freely, that sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen gentlemen determined yesterday morning, or yesterday afternoon, to elect Dr. Salmon. Those gentlemen did not even constitute a majority of their own party. That is a most significant point. It means that they are now going to compel twenty-five other members of their own party to vote in the direction which they have decided to take. This occasion is. unique in. the history of the Federal Parliament. I doubt if a parallel can be found in the history of any other Parliament where feelings have been more bitter or where there has been more occasion for such feelings. Consider the circumstances in which the Fusion came into existence. It is composed of parties who, until a little while ago, were irreconcilably hostile. It is now proposed to select one member of one of those parties which, a little while ago, we were supporting and which agreed to support us, and deliberately deserted us, and to put him in the chair over us. That ought not to be done except by the House itself in the freest and frankest possible way. In the circumstances, my motion ought to be put, and the House should go into conference so that we may discuss amongst ourselves the claims of the various available men, particularly the honorable member for Balaclava. He stated on the floor of the House this afternoon that, although he felt compelled by his action of yesterday to withdraw, he would, but for that, be a candidate for the office. Of that honorable member, I know nothing but what is good; but I wish to especially emphasize the fact that he has never been a party men. I cannot recall one occasion when he has voted for the Labour party. Everybody knows that he is hostile to our principles; but that is not the point. The point is that he has never associated himself with a party in the sense that Dr. Salmon has. In the circumstances, we ought to be allowed to choose freely any one of the members who are available for the position.
– There is no authority to whom we can appeal upon the motion of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney ; but I submit, with confidence, that probably the first part of it is in order. Its purport practically is, “ That this sitting benow adjourned,” and by agreement, I think that can be now put ; but beyond that, there is no possible warrant for the addition of any condition whatever. The motion must simply be for the adjournment of the debate.
Mr.Wilks. - That would effect the purpose.
– It would in a way ; so that we need not waste time in arguing it. This may effect the purpose of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney ; because the vote may be taken to mean anything. If the honorable and learned member reads the Standing Orders relating to the election of the Speaker, he will see the insuperable difficulties that must arise, and that no one can settle, if any condition is sought to be attached to a motion to adjourn this debate.
– Then I shall amend my motion, and as this will answer the purpose, content myself by moving -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– By the direction of the House, the question is - “ That the debate be now adjourned.”
The House divided.
Majority .. … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- As I look at the vacant chair, and think of. the late occupant who filled it when I was last here, I am impressed with the seriousness of the duty which we are now called upon to perform. When I think of the manner in which the business of the House has been conducted ever since I have had the privilege of being a member, when I consider the many virtues exhibited by the late Speaker, it hurts me to feel that we are having imposed on us a course derogatory to the high standard of procedure which obtained under his direction. The one consideration which should guide us in this very important matter is the fitness of candidates to occupy the high and exalted position of Speaker. We are members of a deliberative assembly, and should select the best man from amongst us for this position. But we are now being compelled by a Ministerial caucus to accept its nominee. The majoritywho attended that caucus are trying to force upon us a man who, most of those opposite must admit, showed that he is not the best that we could choose for the position. There are three or four men on the Ministerial side whom I should like to have seen nominated, and should willingly have supported, apart from party considerations. Because this is not a party matter. We cannot look for impartiality from a presiding officer unless we select a man upon whose impartiality and justice all parties can depend.
– The last division was a display of the non-party feeling of the Labour party !
– No subject, it would seem, is sufficiently serious to prevent the honorable member from interjecting. In the last division, a majority of four only was opposed to an adjournment of the debate for the purpose of arranging for the better performance of the most important function in which we are now engaged. Should such a majority prevent us from doing what is necessary to choose a Speaker whom we can respect and obey, as a model of dignity and justice? The honorable member for Wentworth says that we need not so much a Speaker who will act justly, as one who will be able to control the House. The late Speaker was a man who could act justly, and who could control the House as probably no other man will be able to do. He will be an example to all his successors. I ask whether the candidate whom the caucus majority of seventeen wishes to force upon us acted in such a way, when Chairman of Committees, as to win the confidence even of those who now, for party reasons, support him? Not only did members on this side suffer injustice at his hands; members opposite, as the Hansard records will show, were also conscious of it, and felt impelled to take revenge when he had next to submit himself for election.
– That showed the evil of sessional appointments.
– I shall not discuss now whether the Chairman of Committees should be elected for the session, or for the Parliament. The sessional election has this advantage, that a man who has not acted well can be got rid of before he has lost all power to control our proceedings. When an honorable member is elected to such an office for the life of a Parliament, and proves unlit for the position, honorable members have a very rough row to hoe. The honorable member for Laanecoorie is a party man. He is practically at the beck and call of the Prime Minister, whose shadow he has been, so to speak, ever since I have been in this Parliament. As a member of the State Parliament he haunted him in the same way. He is a man of a strong party type, and has shown that he is prepared to exercise his power as Chairman of Committees in accordance, not with his duty to honorable members, but with the necessities of the party to which he belongs. Such a man is not fit to hold the high and responsible office of Speaker.
– Does the honorable member suggest in all seriousness that Mr. McDonald is not a party man ?
– I challenge the Minister of Defence to point to one case in which the honorable member for Kennedy, as Chairman of Committees, has displayed a partisan spirit. On the other hand, I can point to two cases in which most deliberate attempts were made by the honorable member* whom the Minister of Defence is now supporting for the office of Speaker to .be unjust to honorable members. How can honorable members be expected to pay to the Chair that respect which is its due when the House has forced upon it the presidency of an honorable member of that character. I feel it necessary to make these statements before a candidate is actually elected, for after the election has taken place, I shall continue to respect the position apart altogether from the honorable member who occupies it. I shall endeavour to do my duty, and to assist the Chair to carry on the business of the House in a fair, honorable, and dignified manner. I shall do that even if Dr. Carty Salmon be elected. Although, when he occupied a junior position, he did not always deal leniently with me, I have not allowed that to influence my decision in this case; I have shown no personal bitterness towards him. My sole contention is that he is too strong a party man to be elected to the office of Speaker. It does not speak well for some honorable members opposite that the attractions of the lofty position of Speaker are not sufficient to induce them to forsake their private businesses in order to discharge the duties associated with it. There are some honorable members opposite whose candidature would be almost unanimously supported, but we have had an experience of the honorable member for Laanecoorie as Chairman of Committees which is exactly the opposite of that which would commend his selection. We have reached a critical stage in the history of this House. There has never been such a clear-cut division of parties as there is to-day.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Despite all that has been said as to the qualifications and experience of the Government candidate, there is not, in my opinion, another man in Australia who, knowing that honorable members had spoken of him as several honorable members have spoken of the honorable member, would accept the position of Speaker under such conditions. In such circumstances, I for one should not consider that I could fill the office of Speaker with credit to myself and so as to secure the respect of those I had to control. The Attorney-General and others have quoted largely from authorities in support of the action taken by the Government, but I do not. hesitate to say that there is absolutely no precedent for it. There is no case in history where an attempt has been. made to foist upon a House as President or Speaker an honorable member who, during his occupancy of a junior position, has shown himself to be absolutely unfit for the higher office. As showing how paltry-minded is the honorable member for Laanecoorie, I would remind honorable members of an occasion when I rose to make a few remarks, and had not been speaking for five minutes when the honorable member, who was then Chairman of Committees, ruled me out of order for tedious repetition.
– An honorable member says that it. is a pity that Dr. Salmon is not in the chair now, because the honorable member has said all this before.
– The honorable member is fast becoming a very fair imitation of the Minister of Defence, in trying to attribute to honorable members statements that they have not made.
– Leave me alone.
– Here is the political larrikin of the Government ! In the case to which I have just referred, no question of parliamentary procedure was involved. The honorable member, as Chairman of Committees, had simply ito exercise his judgment in determining whether or not I was in order. I have since spoken at far greater length in this House, but neither in this nor in the State Parliament of New South Wales have I been ruled out of order for tedious repetition, save in the instance I have mentioned. The incident shows the paltry spirit of the honorable member, since he was prepared to resort to such a subterfuge in order to rule out of order an honorable member of a party to which he was opposed. Those who support the honorable member do so with their eyes open. There is no precedent for electing as Speaker an honorable member who has filled the position of ‘Chairman Of Committees in such an unsatisfactory manner as Dr. Carty Salmon has done. All the authorities quoted by honorable members opposite, therefore, go for nought. The honorable member for Mernda quoted from the British Hansard to show what took place in the House of Commons when Mr. Gully was first nominated for the position of Speaker. That quotation practically supported the position we now take up. Mr. Gully, who was colourless in politics and to whom therefore no objection could be taken as a party man, was supported by the Liberal party. The Tory party objected to a Government nomination, but Mr. Gully was elected. A few -.months later, when he stood for reelection, all party feeling vanished. He had shown his fitness for the office, and honorable members unanimously re-elected him to the office that he had so honorably filled. We should be prepared to act in a similar manner towards the honorable member for Laanecoorie had he honoured the position that we conferred on him some time ago. It is right that an honorable member who has filled with satisfaction an important office should be re-elected to it, and it follows as a natural corollary that an honorable member who has shown partiality as a Chairman of Committees should not be elected as Speaker. I do not wish to labour this question. I have expressed my opinions, as I generally do, fearlessly, believing that every honorable member should speak that which is within him. We should have a far better Parliament if we had more outspokenness and’ less of the desire to cover up one’s true feelings and opinions by a multitude of words. I feel that this House is not going to be what it has been if it is to be controlled by a gentleman of the type and character I have indicated ; and it is because I have fears for the good order and dignity of the House that I have made these observations.
– I thought that it would have been unnecessary for me to speak to this question; that honorable members would have agreed to the adjournment of the debate in order that an open conference might be held, at which a satisfactory decision could be arrived at. Had that .course been adopted an amicable settlement of the difficulty could have been made, and we could have returned to the House and made the appointment of a Speaker a formal matter. But since the powers that be have determined that that course should not be adopted, it behoves honorable members generally to speak to this question in justice, not only to ourselves, but to those whom we represent. As a new member, I have sat under only one Speaker. I refer to the late Sir Frederick Holder, in whom I found one to whom I’ could confidently appeal for advice and guidance, and from whom we all obtained in that respect more than we might reasonably have expected.
I, with others, lament the untimely departure of that gentleman from amongst us. I should have liked to feel that his successor, while, perhaps, having a very high example to live up to, would be one who could be accepted, if not unanimously, at anyrate, by a large majority. The Government made one of the greatest of blunders in holding a caucus meeting to decide whom they thought the best man, without giving the Opposition an opportunity to agree with , that decision. We have been told that we, of the Opposition, are a caucus party, and our method is spoken of with marked disapproval by honorable members opposite; and yet, when the opportunity presents itself, they adopt the same method. I am sure that members on all sides of the House would liketo see this matter settled, because there is at present no authority to restrain any member from speaking innumerable times - there is no finality. With, a view of affording honorable members another opportunity to defer the election it is now proposed to make, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put by the Clerk. The House divided.
In division :
The voting being equal,
Prior to such election, the Clerk shall act as Chairman of the House.
.- The last vote is another indication that the wrong procedure was taken by the Prime Minister and his party in connexion with the election of a Speaker. I took the opportunity, at the earliest possible moment, of saying, on behalf of this side, that we were prepared to withdraw all our candidates and enter into a conference with honorable members opposite, with a view to the election of a successor to our late lamented Speaker. That course has net been taken, for reasons known to honorable members opposite. The party which I have the honour to lead, and which has been designated the Caucus party - a name which I do not wish to disclaim - held no caucus, and came to no decision on this matter, and every member of it is entitled to vote just as he wishes: I make that statement in reply to the assertion of the Prime Minister that we always vote solidly, whether we are bound by our pledges to our constituents or not. He knows that that is not correct. He knows that his previous Government was defeated against my wishes and efforts in the matter of the Postal Commission-
– Is this on the point of order?
– It is a very old procedure of the Minister of Defence, whenever any one is making a point against him and his Government-
– I rise to order.- 1 submit, Mr. Clerk, that a point of order has been put to you, and the honorable member for Wide Bay. must address himself to it.
– Who is going to decide? Mr. Joseph Cook. - The Clerk decides, in the absence of the Speaker.
– What does the honorable member want to put him in that position for?
– My honorable friends seem to consider that the Standing Orders have been suspended, but every one of them is in force. Under the’m a point of order has been taken.
– You could not expel a single member from the Chamber.
– The best thing the honorable member can do is to sit down.
– I am not accustomed to sit down at the request of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Wide Bay must discuss the point of order that has been raised, until it is withdrawn or dealt with. He is now proceeding to speak upon the general question, which he has no right to do, inasmuch as he has done it already.
– I presume that I may proceed, after the little display of the Minister of Defence. I have not taken part in the debate from the party point of view, nor do T intend to. I say again that members on this side are quite prepared to withdraw every nomination, and to leave honorable members absolutely free from any party ties to vote for the choice of the united House. I believe that is the best way to get out of this difficulty.
– We have now simply to proceed with the business that was previously before us, because no motion for the adjournment of the debate can succeed unless it is supported by a majority. There was simply a tie, consequently there was no majority for the motion, and the debate is not adjourned.
– Whilst there is a provision in the Standing Orders of the Senate that the President and Chairman of Committees
– That is irrelevant. The honorable member cannot quote it here.
– If everything that is irrelevant were shut out of this debate, a good deal of what the honorable member has said to-night would not have been allowed. The Senate Standing Orders provide that the President and Chairman of Committees shall respectively, in all cases, be entitled to a vote, and that when the voting is equal, the question shall pass in the negative, but no such provision applies in this Chamber. If you are to contend that when the voting is equal the question passes in the negative, you mav find yourself, Mr. Clerk, deciding who shall and who shall not be Speaker. It may happen that the voting on the motion that Dr. Carty Salmon be elected Speaker will be thirty-one votes on each side.
– The honorable member’s quotation is against his own side.
– I do not think so. If we wanted a provision of that kind in our Standing Orders, it seems to me that it would have been there already. As it is not there, it is evidently omitted for some reason. If, Mr. Clerk, you are to decide that equal votes pass the question in the negative, we may have the same voting repeated when Dr. Salmon’s name is put to the House, and you may decide that he shall not be Speaker. I submit that that is not contemplated, nor is it contemplated that you shall decide any other question when the votes are equal.
– I take it that we are unanimously of the opinion, as stated by the Prime Minister, that when there is an equal number of votes on either side, we are in statu quo, and the debate goes on. The honorable member for West Sydney, however, rightly objects to the Clerk giving a vote. The Clerk is not a member, and it ought not to appear in the records of the House that the motion was negatived. It was not negatived. The affirmative was not carried, and the debate goes on as before.
– As has been said, there is no necessity for me to give a decision upon the question of a casting vote. The motion unquestionably has not been carried, in that it has not received a majority of votes in its favour, apart from anything that may be said with regard to the exercise of a casting vote.
– I desire to submit myself to the will of the House.
.- I do not understand that the debate is yet closed. I desire to join with others in entering a protest against the way in which the Government have conducted this very important matter. The honorable member for Hume termed them the “ Confusion “ Government, and I think, in view of what we have seen to-night, that that name is very appropriate. No honorable member could have been stronger than was the honorable member for Parramatta, when Leader of the Opposition, in claiming consideration for the rights of an Opposition, but tonight the Prime Minister has not only ignored a very reasonable request from the
Leader of the Opposition, but has actually asserted that it was the duty of the Leader of the Opposition to come to him. How could the Leader of the Opposition even dream that the Government, although we had not a high opinion of them, would consent to the selection of the Speaker of this ‘House by seventeen men at most, according to what we have been told? The position is that seventeen members are to force upon the House some one whom the majority of the House do not approve. A great deal has been said in denunciation of the caucus methods of the Labour party. But if that party conducted its procedure in the way in which the Ministerial party has done in this matter, I should sever my connexion with it, because I should be ashamed of it. The members of the Labour party would not be asked to settle a matter of this kind in caucus. No caucus decision regarding any matter that is not a plank of the party’s platform is binding on our members. The Prime Minister, however, has led innocent followers, like the honorable member for Mernda, into a trap. That honorable member was induced to attend what he was told was a political meeting, and did not know until it was over that it was a caucus, and that he was bound by its decision. Surely he was not quite so innocent that he did not know the object of the meeting. The desire of the Government was clearly to limit the nominations from the Ministerial side to one. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have claimed that the Government has the right to nominate the Speaker in the case of a vacancy. There must have been more than one candidate on the Ministerial side, because a ballot had to be taken to determine who should be nominated. The honorable member for Balaclava has told us this afternoon that he cannot submit himself to the will of the House, because his name went to the ballot of the caucus. Had he stood for Speaker in this Chamber, a majority would have voted for him. Hon.rable members of the Labour party are prepared to support candidates belonging to the Ministerial party ; but we wish to choose a man on whom we can rely. The Government, however, is going to force on us a candidate for whom only seventeen members voted in caucus. Some of these were evidently coerced. We hear of members being bound only in honour to vote for the caucus decision ; but what higher obligation could there be? No member could be com- pelled by physical force to do anything of the kind. To call yesterday’s caucus a political meeting is ridiculous. The term is applicable only to large .public meetings on political questions. The Ministerial caucus prevents the House from choosing the man whom it thinks best fitted for the position of Speaker. We were told that one of the reasons for the fusion which supports the present Ministry was to get rid of caucus government, and yet the first important step that has been taken by Ministerialists is the holding of a caucus to prevent a majority of the House from deciding who shall fill its highest office. This is outrageous. I did not think that the Government would have descended to these depths. It is right that this action should be exposed to the country. The honorable member for Parramatta, when on this side of the Chamber, always strongly asserted the right of the Opposition to make public the wrong-doing of the Government. I hope that this long discussion will show Ministers that there is a wiser and a better plan to follow. It is a great pity that the Prime Minister did not informally consult the Leader of the Opposition, with a view to a mutual arrangement between all parties. The Labour party wishes to see partisanship abolished in the election of the Speaker. It is not pleasant to have to publicly criticise a candidate for this position; but such criticism is forced upon us by the circumstances. The Ministerial candidate would not be acceptable to a majority of honorable members were they free to vote in accordance with their own opinions. Had the honorable member for North Sydney been willing to stand, he would have had the support of a large majority. The present arrangement has an uncommonly ugly appearance. It would seem that the Government holds the view that the nomination to the Speakership is in its gift, by way of reward to a follower. . This should not be so. The best thing -to do would be to put aside all that has taken place up to the present time, and start afresh, leaving honorable members to vote for whichever candidate they think best fitted for the position.
– That would be submitting to the caucus.
– This is a matter which should not be decided by caucus procedure. It was preposterous for the Prime Minister to suggest that the Leader of theOpposition should have run after him, and it was unfair for Ministerialists to choose a successor to the last Speaker without regard to the views of the Opposition. Honorable members opposite always misrepresent and misunderstand the Labour party. They assumed that in this matter ‘ we should exhibit a partisan spirit, and, therefore, they said, 1 ‘ We must not have divided counsels in this matter; we must arrange to support our nominee solidly.” The Opposition cannot fail to resent this action in making the election of a Speaker a party question. There is not much in what has been said about precedent. We ought to be able, on occasions, to make precedents for ourselves, and should not follow a precedent unless it commends itself to our judgment. In spite of the sophistry of the Attorney-General, the Speaker should not be indebted to any party for his election. It might be understood that a party would make a certain nomination; but it is a different thing to take means such as have been used to secure the election of a party nominee. The Government has cracked its whip, and taken advantage of the innocence of its supporters.
– Would the honorable member say that this is a fair sample of what would be the procedure in electing a Ministry ?
– If the election of a Ministry by Parliament would lead to such scenes as we have witnessed this afternoon, I think that it would be unwise to adopt that system. All who have touched on this phase of the question have admitted that it would be well for the House to make a selection free from party influences. The Government have made that impossible, but if they admit that they have done wrong, why should they not take steps to undo the wrong? It is still open for them to do so. The offer made by the Leader of the Opposition - and made without any caucus authorization - is a very fair one. He has said that if the Prime Minister will agree to the adjournment of the debate in order that an open conference may be held, he will answer for every member of his party, provided the Prime Minister will answer for his supporters. We do not desire to have forced upon us as Speaker an honorable member who, in the circumstances, will undoubtedly feel uncomfortable in that office. I should feel very much disinclined to take such a position if it were forced upon me by a minority of the House. There has been some unpleasant wrangling, but I trust that the Prime Minister will view the situation calmly, and agree to a conference. It could not have been foreseen that the present situation would arise, but now that it is evident that the action taken by the Government is unwise, I think it would be well to bury the past, and for the House to determine free from party considerations who shall be elected to the office of Speaker.
.- I, like other honorable members, regret the lamentable occurrence that” has led to the present unseemly proceedings in the House, for I, in common with many others, feel that by the death of Sir Frederick Holder I have lost a great political friend. Notwithstanding what has been said at “ teafights “ and “bun-scrambles” by honorable members opposite who, from time to time, have addressed a lot of “tabbies” on the enormities of the Labour caucus, I think we may safely say that we have never done that which the Government have done in this case. The Minister of Defence has often declared that he is particularly anxious to do away, not only with the Labour party, but with their caucus methods. Yet what happened yesterday ? After one of the most solemn ceremonies in which it has ever been my lot to take part, and immediately the doors of the House had been thrown open, honorable members opposite were rushing like hares and hounds upstairs to hold a caucus. Sir John Forrest could be seen hanging on to the Prime Minister’s coat-tails, and urging him upstairs to attend a caucus of his party to select a successor to the honorable gentleman whose virtues they had been extolling only a few moments before. A more unseemly sight than that rush upstairs I have never witnessed. Had the Labour party been guilty of it, we should have been hounded down by the press, and deservedly so. But the Government party went into caucus, and by the vote of seventeen members, the honorable member for Laanecoorie was selected as the Government nominee. The honorable member said that he “ submitted himself to the will of the House.” Is it not the will of seventeen as against the will of fifty-seven members to which he submits himself? An unconstitutional and unprecedented course has been taken by the Ministry, which was brought into being,, we were told, to restore responsible government, and no honorable member was more prominent in his efforts to bring about the fusion than was the honorable member for Laanecoorie. What happened when the first Federal Parliament met? An honorable member on the Government side of the House proposed that Sir Frederick Holder should take the Chair as Speaker. That motion was seconded by an honorable member on this side of the House, and carried unanimously. Why was not a similar course followed to-day? Surely the Opposition have some rights. Honorable members opposite have told us that the Labour party have no political existence, and have no right to be here. I often wonder how it is possible for any member of the Labour party to be returned to this, or to any State Parliament, in view of the misrepresentations of the other side; but despite those misrepresentations, we are gaining new supporters every day, and at every election our numbers are increasing. As to the election of a Speaker, I am pledged to no man,I deeply regret that the honorable member for Parkes is not a candidate, for I honestly believe that no honorable member would hold the scales of justice more evenly than he would do. Although he has always been a strong party man, and has said bitter things about the Labour party, we have said some bitter things of him.
– He always says them in a kindly way.
– That is so. The honorable member for Parkes has a nice way of putting his views even when they are extreme.
– Why not nominate him?
– Because he has absolutely refused to offer himself for election. There are some honorable members opposite who are not without honour. If the honorable member for Parkes had not declined to stand, I should certainly nominate him; and if he were nominated fully nine-tenths of our party would support him. How, then, can it be said that we are caucusbound? If the honorable member for Balaclava were to stand now, I am confident that he would be elected. But how is it possible for Dr. Carty Salmon to say : “ I submit myself to the will of the House,” since he knows that he has not the confidence of a majority of the House? I should not care to be elected to any office, or to this Parliament, by “smoodging.” When on the public platform, I always tell my audiences that if they do not believe in me and my principles, they ought not to vote for me. I want no sentimental vote, but apparently the honorable member for Laanecoorie is to be elected to the Speaker’s Chair on sentimental grounds. Could a worse state of affairs prevail than that in which seventeen honorable members are able toboss fifty-seven ? The Labour party has never done anything to equal that. The Government have resorted to Labour methods, but they have not carried them out as we do. We simply hold a caucus on questions affecting our platform, and which we are pledged to carry out. The difference between our party and the Government party is that we keep our pledges, whereas they break theirs. To be consistent they have to be inconsistent.
– Do not say that.
– The honorable member is as bad as any honorable member opposite. At the next general election, he will be very busy explaining why he did not take part in certain divisions, and I am told that after the election he will have ample time to make the most elaborate explanations. If the Government wish to test the feeling of the House as to who should hold office as Speaker, let them follow the course adopted by Sir Edmund Barton in the first Parliament. Let them confer with the leaders of the different parties, and come to some arrangement. If that course had been adopted at the outset, the Clerk would not have been placed in the awkward position in which he found himself this evening. It was a most disgraceful situation.
– Who brought it about?
– The honorable member assisted ; had he remained away we should have had a majority.
– That would not have made the position any better than it is.
– The honorable member would simply have had one more sin to answer for. Before to-day, I was strongly in favour of the principle of elective Ministries, but our proceedings this afternoon have convinced me that such a system would be absolutely rotten. If seventeen honorable members in a House of seventy-five can secure the election of a Speaker, could not seventeen place seven honorable members on the Treasury bench? No one attacks the caucus methods of the Labour party more strongly than does the honorablemember for Robertson.
– Leave me alone.
– I desire to give the honorable member a dose of his own physic. We have never allowed two men to decide who should stand for a certain position, but honorable members opposite have done so. No one knows what was the ballot at the Government caucus except the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Franklin.
– The honorable member is wrong again.
– I am as right as I should be if I were standing on the honorable member’s head. Then there is the honorable member for Bourke, who is always condemning Labour methods. If these honorable members are “ as good as Labour men,” as they claim to be-
– Thank God, we have none of the honorable member’s breed in our party ; we have none of his tribe amongst us. The honorable member is sitting where he ought to sit. Those who claim to be as good as the Labour man should sit with the honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Flinders ; but they will have to explain later on why they are sitting there. I urge the Minister of Defence, as the second in command of the Commonwealth ship of State, to take the advice tendered by the Leader of the Labour party. Although we are his political foes, surely we have some brains ! The honorable member, when Leader of the Opposition, was constantly pleading his cause. No one has filled the pages of Hansard with more “tripe” than he has done, and now he blames us for doing the same thing. The honorable member condemns us for doing what he himself has done, and, going further, he accuses us of blocking business. But what were the present members of the Ministerial party doing a year or two ago, when they kept the House sitting for two or three days and nights, necessitating an adjournment at midnight on Saturday?
– That was over the question of Standing Orders.
– And now they have got those Standing Orders, the Government are afraid to enforce them. It is not too late even now to give the House an opportunity to choose the Speaker; and when he is so chosen, no one will be more loyal to him than honorable members on this side.
.- I regret very much that the election of Speaker should not have been unanimous, and, even now, if the Prime Minister consents to an adjournment, and there is a little consultation, that desirable result may be brought about. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that all candidates should be withdrawn and a conference held ; and I should be prepared to go a little further, and say that the Opposition will surrender any claim to suggest names from their own side. I in no way object to the majority in the House selecting a Speaker.
– That is very kind of the honorable member !
– The Government have a majority, and can do what they like, whether I object or not; but, as I say, I see no objection to a Government with a majority behind them selecting a Speaker from their own side. I know that if my party were on the Government side, and we were in a majority,I should think it only fair, if there was a suitable man amongst us, to select a Speaker from the supporters of the Government. At the same time, it is only wise to endeavour to select a gentleman who has the confidence of honorable members on both sides, and there would be absolutely no difficultyin getting such a gentleman from the Government benches. It goes without saying that Dr. Carty Salmon cannot possibly have the confidence of the House, because he has already been tried, and found wanting. He was removed from the position of Chairman ofCommittees by a majority of the House, a number of honorable members who had previously voted for him, recording their votes against him on the second occasion. There is no precedent in any Legislative Assembly in the world showing that a person has been re-elected under such circumstances, though I can quite understand that a Chairman of Committees in the case of a majority on the other side, after a general election, being rejected without any reflection on his capabilities. But in the case of Dr. Carty Salmon honorable members actually changed their votes, although on each occasion he had received Ministerial nomination. It may be that Dr. Carty Salmon, in spite of all protests, and of all that has been said, may be elected Speaker ; but I am a party man, and, for some reasons, I am glad at some of the happenings of the last day or two.Honorable members opposite, and especially one or two, are prone to charge the Labour party with being associated with the worst forms of Tammany Hall politics; and I have here a newspaper report of an interview with the honorable member for Bourke, published: in the Age, from which the following is an extract -
Incidentally I claimed that the caucus system of the Labour party interfered with personal liberty and political freedom; and the instance I gave related to the overthrow of the Deakin Government when, as is well known, a substantial minority of the Labour party was against any change; but, a majority in caucus having determined to put the Government out, all members were compelled to vote the one way.
If it be a fact that, as a Labour party, we interfere with personal liberty and political freedom, because, when we meet together, the minority may decide to go with the majority, it appears to me that the Ministerial party who meet in caucus or “ political meeting,” are open to the same charge. When the Labour party meet together it is a caucus, but when there is a gathering of honorable members opposite, called together by the Leader of the Government, it is a “political meeting,” according to the member for Ballarat. That reminds me that when Mr. Gladstone was attacked on his Egyptian policy, and reference was made to the fact that General Gordon was surrounded in Khartoum, the honorable gentleman replied that General Gordon was not surrounded, but was only hemmed in. From it mere party stand-point, I am glad of this discussion, because we, on this side, will be able in the future to go on the platform and ask the people of the country whether it is consistent to charge us with hampering personal liberty and political freedom, while those who claim to be in favour of the most perfect liberty and freedom adopt exactly the same means of consulting with one another.
– I shall be free of that charge !
– Thehonorable member is now a party of one, but when he was the whip of a party in this House, I suppose he used to attend party meetings in the same way.
– There were none then.
– Then, I suppose the honorable member used to get his instructions from the Prime Minister?
– No; it was a “goasyouplease.”
– With such a whip, and under such circumstances, I do not wonder that the right honorable member for East Sydney “ threw up the sponge “ when he met the House after the recess, though I always believed that it was because of the Ballarat speech of the present Prime Minister. The honorable member for West Sydney, while he has no objection to a party man as Speaker, regards it as unwise to have a partisan, and he gave some instances in support of his views. I think the honorable member might have cited a strong case, seeing that when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was a member of the Ministry, was anxious to be Speaker, Sir William Harcourt, who was the leader of the House, refused to allow him to be nominated on the ground that, as a member of the Government, he must have necessarily taken part in heated discussions as a partisan. I admit I am not very sorry that this discussion has taken place, and that certain articles have appeared in the Age, a newspaper which has suggested that no one who is tainted with Free Trade principles can receive anything at the hands of the Government. It that be so, it makes no difference to me ; but, while I think the article I have in my mind was rather severe on the honorable member for Parkes, it may prove of advantage from a party stand-point. However, so far as this Government is concerned, we are told that “ No Free Traders need apply.” One or two have suggested that in some way consideration might be given to the Opposition, but personallyI ask no consideration from the Government. If the Government choose to thrust Dr. Carty Salmon upon us as Speaker, well and good. We shall have to put up with it, and do the best we can to muddle through in some way or other. The honorable member for Balaclava stated that he was, in a sense, trapped into the caucus. I should have thought that a man of his age ought not to have been so trapped. However, he was simple and confiding, and was trapped into taking part in it. Had he known a little of the wire-pulling that had been going on, and the ability which some of those who were competing with him had for that kind of thing, he would possibly not have done what he did. I have here a quotation from a speech of the honorable member for Ballarat, in which he refers to having been “ trapped “ into voting against the Watson Government - “trapped” into voting out of office a Government that ought to have been allowed to stay there a little longer. Those are the Prime Minister’s words. I doubt very much if he was trapped, but I have his word for it, and if one so skilled and able was placed in that position, he might have some little compassion on the honorable member for Balaclava, and allow him to be freed from any caucus pledge, or from responsibility for anything that took place in the caucus of yesterday. After all that has been said, and after the last vote, where half the members present voted for delaying the matter, which practically meant that every one of them was against the honorable member for Laanecoorie taking the chair, if the honorable member still persists in his candidature, I do not envy him the position of Speaker. Sixty-two members voted in that division, and that, ordinarily, is a very fair House. I am sure, if pairs had been granted during the last few weeks, it would have been a very rare thing to see sixty -two members taking part in a division in this Chamber, so that there was a remarkably good House present. Thirty-one of the sixty-two practically voted against Dr. Carty Salmon taking the chair.
– And a number of those who voted against the motion only did so because of the caucus decision.
– Yes, they pleaded that they were in honour bound on account of the caucus, which some of them said they were trapped into. If Dr. Salmon, after such a vote as that, and after the expressions of opinion about him, and the fear which many of us have that he will not be able to conduct the business of the House fairly, is still prepared to take the position, it rather emphasizes my opinion that he is not qualified to hold it. I am certain that the honorable member for Parkes or the honorable member for North Sydney, if they had been nominated and the same feeling had been shown against them, would never have dreamt of continuing their can- didature. If the honorable member for Laanecoorie does so, it proves that he is not qualified to be Speaker. If he does take the position, and falsifies cur predictions, so much the better for him, and so much the better for the country.
– I regret that I have had to witness the scenes that have taken place in this Chamber to-night. I regret it the more because it follows upon the demise of a gentleman who was respected and honoured on all sides of the House. If a little more consideration had been shown to the whole of the members of the House, whose interests are at stake in this matter, this unseemly procedure might easily and readily have been avoided. Those who are responsible for the present state of affairs would have very much better consulted the dignity of the House, and the best interests of this Democratic institution of Parliament, and their position as leaders of it, had they shown a little more consideration to honorable members on this side. The filling of the Speaker’s chair is a. matter of concern to all of us. It has not been regarded as a party matter in times gone by, and the custom in Great Britain, which on these occasions we usually follow, has been largely in the direction of removing the question from party prejudices and party interests to the higher plane of questions in which the whole House is concerned, and in which, as far as possible, the greatest unanimity should prevail. I do not know why a departure has been made from that old practice, unless the Government have decided to adopt an American, rather than a British, system, which is known as “ the spoils to the victors,” and, because they happen to have a majority on that side of the House, to coerce that majority, the selection made not meeting with its unanimous approval, into indorsing it by a caucus decision. Knowing that they can command a majority vote, the Government are prepared to confer this high and distinguished office upon a certain gentleman, regardless of whether he is or is not acceptable to a very large section of the House. I regret that we are substituting a doubtful American practice for the good old British practice that has heretofore obtained. Even at this late hour, after all the unseemly proceedings that have taken place, the Government might well reconsider their position and retrace their steps. By so doing, although they cannot repair all that’ has been done to-day, they may do a great deal to rectify the mistake which was made at the outset. The Leader of the Opposition was not consulted in any way in connexion with the proposed appointment. That is a practice which has always been recognised as part and parcel of the nonparty character of such questions as this. When the question of electing a Speaker in our first and second Parliaments arose, the courtesy was always paid to the Leader of the Opposition of consulting him. To-day we have witnessed a departure from that procedure - a departure marked by incidents that are no credit to the House, and that, I trust, will never be repeated. Despite all that has happened, the Government would be well-advised to agree to adjourn the debate and to arrange a consultation with the Leader of the Opposition under the quietening influences of the next few hours. I have every confidence that if that were done, judging by the promises that have been made from this side of the House, the outcome would be an arrangement that would wipe out a great deal of the bitter feeling that has been engendered, and place in the chair a gentleman who would be selected, not as the result of a party vote, on the policy of the spoils to the victors, or by a minority vote in his own party, but by practically a unanimous vote of the whole House. We are told by the press that the votes cast for Dr. Carty Salmon in the Ministerial caucus yesterday afternoon totalled only seventeen. There were on the train in which I arrived from Sydney to-day a number of members of that party, who had no opportunity of expressing their views in the caucus, and, so far as we could learn from them, they knew nothing about the arrangement until they landed here. All these are incidents which 1 think that those who are leading the House will be glad in calmer moments to forget. The best way to forget them, and to wipe them out altogether, is to allow an adjournment to take place, to arrange the consultation that has been spoken of, and to meet the House on another day with such a proposition that whoever goes into the high position of Speaker will have the respect and support of the majority of honorable members. In that way a majority will feel that they have had a say in determining who shall fill the position, and will be prepared to abide by the decision, and give the successful candidate that moral and generous support without which it will be impossible for him to discharge his high and important duties in anything like a satisfactory way. That is something worth striving for; a course that will be in the interests of the orderly procedure of this House. I fail to see how that desirable feeling which will maintain order and assist in the conduct of the business of the Chamber, with as little friction as possible, can be secured bv adopting and forcing upon the House a caucus decision. I strongly urge the adoption of the suggestion that we should retrace our steps in favour of a procedure which would secure the election of a Speaker who will have the support, not of a section, but of the whole House. If this is done, the occupant of the chair will have an easier task than will fall to hire.’ if we proceed as the Government desires. Of course, if the Government insists that the nominee of the Ministerial caucus shall be chosen, we, on this side, although feeling that we have a grievance, and that the person who has been chosen is likely to be warped by party feeling, will respect his office, and give him all reasonable assistance in the proper discharge of his functions. But there will be imposed on us restraints and conditions which have not hitherto been, and should never be, imposed on any party. I hope that the request for an adjournment will be granted, and that a friendly conference will be held between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, with a view to securing a Speaker, who will be generally acceptable, so that our business may be conducted in a manner creditable to’ the House. If the Government insists on ignoring the wishes of the Opposition, and even of some of its supporters, and insists on the selection of its nominee, it must take the responsibility. It is generally recognised that, on the occurrence of a vacancy in the Speakership, the Chairman of Committees has first claim to consideration. This claim has been recognised in the Parliaments of the States. But the present Chairman of Committees belongs to the Labour party, and as the fusion of two other previously hostile and diametrically opposed parties has been brought about to secure our destruction, we can hardly expect that that procedure will be followed now. The Leader of the Opposition will not insist on the election of the Chairman of Committees to the Speakership. All he asks is that the members of the Opposition shall be taken into the confidence of the Government, and given an opportunity to select the most suitable man available for the position. We are prepared to set aside the moral claims of the Chairman of Committees, who belongs to our party, in order, in the interests of the House, to secure an amicable settlement of the difficulty. A Speaker unanimously chosen will be able to 3:.*charge the functions of his office much better than one who has had to encounter the severe criticism and opposition of a considerable number of honorable members. If we are compelled to have a division, many will vote against the Government nominee because of their past experience of his actions in the chair, while some will have to do so as a protest against the objectionable method which has been adopted in this case, and which has resulted in forcing on the House the choice of a small number of Government supporters. I have heard Ministerialists criticise the Labour party for its caucus methods, but we have never applied those methods to a position of this kind. During the fifteen years that I have been a member of the party, the caucus has never been used to promote the interests of .any one of its members individually in the way in which the Ministerial caucus was used yesterday. A caucus decision is never taken by the Labour party in respect to any matter upon which its members are not pledged to their electors. If a matter is only remotely, and not specifically, related to the policy of the party, any member can object to having to vote on it in caucus, and his right to do so will be acknowledged and respected by his fellows. With honorable members opposite it seems to be different. I imagine that the reason is that they adopted the methods of the Labour pary without knowing what they really are. By the vote of seventeen at a caucus meeting in which the whole of their party was not present, they are dictating to the remaining fifty-seven members of the Chamber. Never in the history of the Labour movement has such a thing been done by the Labour party. Such action would not be tolerated on this side. The. Ministerialists have made a crude and objectionable application of the caucus methods. Hitherto the Chair has been filled by a gentleman who gave every satisfaction to the House. He conducted our business with so great a. knowledge of parliamentary procedure, and practice that his decisions could not be questioned, and no suspicion of partiality ever, attached to them. He was approachable by all. and was the philosopher, friend, and guide to every one of us, irrespective of party. Those who were new to parliamentary life, and had vet to learn the principles of procedure, found him ever ready to divine their difficulties, and to give them the benefit of great experience and well-seasoned advice. The best honour we can show to him, in appreciation of his talent and ability, is that suggested by the honorable member for Dalley; to elect one who will worthily fill the position which he occupied with so great credit to himself and with such advantage to the House.
That is a highly desirable objective, for which we should strive, not only as an expression of our appreciation of the work of the man who has gone, but as the best means of starting the parliamentary machine under a new Speaker with a minimum’ instead of a maximum degree of friction, such as will certainly be the outcome of the election if it be carried out on the lines proposed by the Government.
.- Before we go to a vote, I wish to enter a most emphatic protest against the action of the Government in departing from the recognised practice and procedure, and in deciding, by means of a party caucus, to bind their members to vote for a particular representative as Speaker, without consulting in any way the other parties in the House. I make that protest for the reason that the Government are laying down a new procedure and a bad one. This course has been followed by a party consisting of a majority of the House, and it reflects no credit on them. Indeed, through the Government, such an action reflects upon the whole House. We have had the statement that long before we met to express our regret at the death of the late Speaker, the Government had summoned their followers to a caucus, to decide by a party vote that a party man should be his successor. Such indecent haste must go home to the hearts of the people, who have been told again and again in the press, and by some supporters of the Government, that the demise of the late Speaker was, to some extent, caused by the action of certain honorable members on this side of the House. I am not going to say that the choice of the Government is a reward for party services, but we have the statement of some honorable members who attended the Government caucus that, but for the binding pledge which, under a misapprehension, they gave there, the selection of a Speaker would be very different from that which is likely to be made. That charge, of course, lies on the Government. As soon as I had an opportunity, I stated that I was ready, on behalf of the party I have the honour to lead, to withdraw all candidates proposed from this side, and to take part in a free conference, with the object of securing the best presiding officer who could be selected to succeed our . late Speaker. That offer has. not been accepted, and we cannot control the House further than we have attempted to do. The discussion has elucidated many points, and I can say that, in no circumstances, was the question of a party nomination ever discussed by the party which I lead. Although on Monday we met casually and talked over the matter, no one name was mentioned, and no member of our party was bound. Even at the present moment no member of our party is bound to vote for the honorable member for Kennedy, or for any one else. To the credit of Mr. McDonald, be it said that he was not exceedingly anxious to be nominated for the office of Speaker, if a thoroughly representative member of the House could be secured for the post ; but I and some of his friends think that in the matter of ability, dignity, and services rendered to this Chamber, he ranks second to none of those who have been nominated.
Question - That the honorable member for Laanecoorie, the Hon. Charles Carty Salmon, do take the chair of the House as Speaker - put by the Clerk. The House divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Members of the House calling Dr. Carty Salmon, he was taken out of his place by Sir Philip Fysh and Mr. Mauger, and conducted to the chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standing on the upper step, said : - I desire to express my very keen appreciation of the honour which honorable members have done me. It will be my constant endeavour to carry out the high and responsible duties that have been intrusted to me in a manner that will be acceptable to honorable members. I have had an opportunity of hearing most that has been said to-day, and that part of the debate which I intend chiefly to remember is the statement so frequently made by honorable members that they were prepared to render to whoever might be selected that support without which this office could not possibly be held. I trust that the very high traditions that accompany the Chair may be maintained by me. I know that “ ‘tis not in mortals to command success,” but it will be my constant endeavour to try to deserve it.
– Before congratulating you, sir, on attaining the position that you now occupy, it is my duty to read to the House a very generous communication received today from Lady Holder -
Let my congratulations be the first to the new Speaker.
If, Mr. Speaker, the illustrious example of any previous Speaker in the Parliaments of Australia need be cited for your encouragement when undertaking the extremely difficult duties attaching to the high office you now occupy, your course will be found already marked by the traditions established by the late Sir Frederick Holder. I am sure that, whatever may be the views held by honorable members in regard to yourself - and they have been expressed with the most absolute freedom - that the feelings which provoked them will be buried. The post which you occupy as chief officer of the House, places you where I am sure you will always remain, above any party considerations. The conduct of our business will lie very much in your hands. Although, as you have reminded us, no man can discharge the duties of the office if he is without the assistance of members on both sides of this Chamber, I think, sir, that we may venture to anticipate that you will receive that assistance and support. In the work that lies before us you will be encouraged by the appreciation of those qualities which I am sure you will display in order to enable us to discharge the duties for which we were sent here by the people of this country. I have further to intimate that his Excellency the Governor-General will fix a date on which he will receive you, Mr. Speaker.
.- The words that are spoken now are, in effect, a declaration that the controversy as to how the Speaker should be elected is at an end. The duty which devolves on those who have to take part in the deliberations in this House of Representatives in carrying on the business of the country, is now to offer you, as ourauthorized and elected presiding officer, every help and assistance. No feeling of animosity will influence the conduct nf myself in the Leadership of the Opposition, or of the members around me. I shall feel it my public duty to assistyou in every possible way in preserving the dignity of the House ; and we shall leave it to another occasion to discuss any difference of opinion regarding matters which are not to be mentioned now. I offer you, sir, the congratulations which are due to one in your high office. If you follow the traditions of your distinguished predecessor, you will be able to accomplish much in the way of so conducting the business of this House as to make it a credit to the young Commonwealth of Australia.
Congratulations to Mr. Speaker - Mr. Speaker’s Attire - Publication of Members’ Speeches in Pamphlet Form - Old-Age Pensions : Loss of Naturalization Papers : Alleged Delay in Payment - Defence Administration : Transfer of Officers - Premiers’ Conference : Proposed Adjournment : Admission of Honorable Members - Major-Genenal Hoad’s Report - Recognition of Services of the Clerk asChairman - Use of Open Postal Notes - Size of Corn Sacks - Pairs : Personal Explanations - Small Arms Manufacture : Mechanics.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-i desire to draw attention to a matter which I presume, from the letter I have received, is already within the knowledge of the Treasurer. Mr. Justice Isaacs, when AttorneyGeneral, inaugurated the custom, when he reprinted his speech on the Union Label Bill, of putting in cross-headings; and I believe that that practice has been followed by several honorable members, including the Treasurer himself. Personally, I never had a speech reprinted with cross headings until I delivered my speech in the recent no-confidence debate, and only on two occasions have I ever had a speech reprinted at all. In reference to the reprinting of my speech on the no-confidence motion as a pamphlet, I have received the following . letter from the Government Printer -
Government Printing Office,
Melbourne, 28th July,1909.
Dear Sir, - With reference to the copies to be printed in pamphlet form of your recent speech, I beg to inform you that the Hon. the Treasurer has decided that no head-lines are to be allowed’ in future, and that members’ speeches must be exact copies of Hansard. Kindly inform mewhether you desire the printing of the copiesrequired to be proceeded with.
I am, yours truly,
I should like to know whether this order emanated from the Treasurer, or whether the objection is confined to the Government Printer. I presume that the cross-headings are charged for as the printing is charged for. I tried to get a copy of the Treasurer’s speech, in which, I think, he had: cross-headings placed.
– I had.
– I should like to knowwhy it is proposed to slop the system. I have learnt that other honorable members have received a similar communication from the Government Printer.
– The crossheadings are paid for by the members who order them.
– That is so. When an honorable member desires to have his speechreprinted, he is called upon to pay more if he has cross-headings. I did see one of the Treasurer’s speeches with crossheadings; and I doubt whether I should have read it had it been solid. I ask whether it is not possible to revert to the old system?
.- I had a few reprints made of a recent speech I made; and I think it is a great advantage from the point of view of the people amongst whom the reprints circulate to have cross-headings. These cross-headings are charged for as the printing is charged for j and, unless there is some reason which at present we do not appreciate, I cannot see why the practice should not be permitted. The reprints are not issued as from Hansard, but as reprints of speeches on certain subjects. I may say that the Government Printer follows a very proper rule, and stipulates that the cross-headings shall be parliamentary, and, avoiding comment, merely emphasize the subject of the various portions of the matter. If the Treasurer has given the instructions indicated, I hope that they will be withdrawn or modified.
Aca matter of fact, the speeches of honor- 1 able members are not sufficiently circulated, seeing that the press do not, and, indeed, cannot. be expected to report them fully. Under the circumstances, the electors are confined to what they can hear from the platform, and it is highly desirable that they should be kept well informed, always having regard to the safeguard adopted by the Government Printer.
.- In Violet Town, in my electorate, there is an aged naturalized foreigner who has lost his naturalization paper, and because of that has been refused an old-age pension. I ask the Treasurer whether’ he can see his way to give a direction to .the magistrate to have a search made so that it may be ascertained definitely whether the man is naturalized.
.- There is in my electorate a similar case to. that cited by the honorable member for Echuca; and I think it could be met by having a search made of the Victorian archives. I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, sir, on the position to which you have been elected. When you wake to-morrow morning, I am sure that it will be with the full determination to hold the scales absolutely fairly. I feel confident that we shall have your sympathy, because your heart is on your left, and we are on the left of you. We are on the eve of great changes, and hope to build up a civilization which will be the boast of the world ; and I trust that you will consult the necessary authorities in order to find out whether you cannot avoid going to the tail of a horse in order to find a head decoration, which is at once ungainly and useless.
.- In the recent changes made by the Minister of Defence, at the instance, I suppose, of the Military Board, he has transferred an officer holding the position of Commandant in Western Australia to the position of head of the Quartermaster-General’s Department in New South Wales. I offer no comment on the capacity of the officer mentioned ; but 1 desire to know on what ground these changes have been made. So far, in the history of the Commonwealth Forces, officers holding high appointments have been moved up, but in this case, an officer has been moved down to a position of inferior prestige, but vastly greater responsibilities, because he is occupying now the chief position in a branch of by far the largest section of the defence forces of the Commonwealth, whereas previously he was occupying the position of general supervisor of the smallest section of the forces.
– Not the smallest.
– I think that of Western Australia is the least numerous with the exception of those of Tasmania and Thursday Island. I wish to ask the Minister of Defence by what method these changes are made, and whether he will in the near future take into consideration the advisability of inquiring into the fitness of all officers holding these high appointments throughout Australia, with a view to seeing that only those who are well qualified to hold them shall be allowed to retain them.
– I wish to emphasize the point raised by the honorable member for Yarra regarding the reprinting of political addresses. The reprints are paid for by honorable members, and if sub-headings are inserted, it is simply to indicate the different sections of the’ speech. The whole cost of inserting them in the Government Printing Office is borne by the members who order the reprints. The practice therefore involves no cost to the Treasury, or to any one beyond the member directly interested. I understand that the Government Printer also exercises a certain amount of discretion regarding the headings. He sees that they are not objectionable, and “ that they are pertinent to the subject to which they are attached. The House is entitled to an explanation of why the Treasurer should interfere by instructing the Government Printer not to insert sub-headings. A number of honorable members have received an intimation from the Government Printer that if they require reprints of their addresses, although they pay for them, they cannot have sub-headings inserted, even though they are prepared to pay for them also. I saw in the public press recently articles urging the total suppression of Hansard. I should like to ask the Treasurer if this is the first step towards carrying out that policy. It certainly is an interference with rights which honorable members have enjoyed for the last four or five years, and it has the effect of making their addresses less readable and intelligible from their point of view, although the value of sub-headings may be a matter of opinion. I presume, however, that members would not pay for them unless they considered them of” some advantage. Apparently, the Treasurer is not satisfied, despite all the safeguards of censorship by the Government Printer, and- the obligation of members to pay for the full value of the work done for them. The House is entitled to know the intentions of the Government in this matter, and whether it is the beginning of a policy of abolishing Hansard in the interests of the big daily papers. If it is not, what reasons have the Government for instructing the Government Printer to curtail honorable members’ privileges in this direction?
– I wish to draw the attention of the Treasurer to a paragraph in this morning’s press to the effect that, owing to the delay in passing the. Old-age Pensions Bill, there will be some delay in the payment of old-age pensions in Queensland. That delay will be caused by the fact that the State payments will have ceased, and the existence of an interval before the Commonwealth Act comes into force. Will the Treasurer see that the money will be there, and ready to be paid as soon as it is legal to pay it? It is obvious that any material delay beyond a few days may be a matter of serious inconvenience and suffering to those who expect pensions.
– I would like to ask you, sir, if there is any law in this House compelling you to wear a wig? Many years ago, an English Judge, when in the United States, lost his wig. Those who found it, not knowing what it was, had it examined at one of the universities in Western America, and the analyst discovered in it microbes and insects enough to kill forty men. In this twentieth century, I protest against these antiquated forms. I object to things that used to be worn when men were barbarians being worn any further in this
House. As you, sir, have a good head of hair, and are a good-looking man, you can do without a wig.
– I am surprised to find that the Treasurer is not ready to disabuse the minds of honorable members of the impression that he has been interfering with their privileges as members of Parliament in the matter raised by the honorable member for Yarra. I do not know how it comes about that the Treasurer has any right to be heard at the Government Printing Office respecting the reprinting of Hansard in pamphlet form, provided that nothing is printed which has not taken place on the floor of the House, that the cost of reproduction is paid by honorable members, and that the reprinting is approved of by the proper authorities. The privileges of Parliament, going back to the days of the Commonwealth of England, have been respected by Ministers, and honorable members must not allow the privileges which are few to be interfered with. If the Treasurer has stepped in and interfered in that way, he should be told that he had no right to do so- One honorable member tells me that the matter relates only to the head-lines, but that is not the question. It should be the Speaker, and not the Treasurer who should decide whether they shall be printed or not. If the pamphlets do not contain new matter, I presume they will be printed. If they contain new matter, they will not be printed. As a member of this House, I shall resent to the last any interference by the Treasurer with our privileges.
– I am glad to have an opportunity of explaining the matter. In the early days of this Parliament, the question arose of whether anything was to be added by honorable members to the Hansard reports which they desired to have printed in pamphlet form to distribute amongst their friends.
– And which they paid for.
– And which they paid for at a cheap rate.
– Does the honorable member make that a complaint?
– No; but it was the rule to pay for them at cost price.
– There was no loss to the Government Printer.
– No ; I think the arrangement was for the cost price to be paid. This matter was referred by Sir George Turner to the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton. Sir George Turner wrote a minute to the effect that he thought that no alterations in the Hansard reports should be made - that the reprints should beliterally from Hansard.
– No one objects to that.
– He considered that nothing but what appeared in Hansard should be in the reprints. That recommendation was approved by Sir Edmund Barton, and was acted upon by the Government Printer for some time. But since then some latitude has been allowed. A practice has gradually crept in by which alterations have been allowed to be made in the reprints.
– A Minister who was a colleague of the right honorable gentleman initiated the practice.
– I am not saying that I have not done the same thing. In fact, when I have had a speech reprinted, I have not only put in headings but have taken out interjections. I understood that that was allowed.
– We have not done that.
– A good deal of latitude has been allowed, and the reprint has now become in many instances not an exact reproduction of Hansard. In fact it has been almost held that the honorable member whose speech was reprinted was responsible for the pamphlet, and that it need not represent an absolute reprint from Hansard. Recently the Government Printer referred to me,as the Ministerial head of the Printing Office for the Commonwealth, for a ruling in regard to numerous headings in some of the speeches of honorable members.
– Does the right honorable member say that the reports were altered ?
– There is no reason why they should not have been.I think they were altered to some extent in some cases.
– I have never altered a line.
– Head-lines have been put in as desired by the honorable member reprinting a speech. Some of these head-lines have not been what I think would be considered parliamentary.
Some have been such as I think honorable members would not approve if they saw them.
– But who gave the right honorable gentleman authority to issue an order on this subject to the Government Printer ?
– I am the head of the Department which controls the printing. When the matter was brought before me again during the last week,I said, “ I cannot act as censor in this matter. I have not the time, and, what is more, I have not the inclination.” Consequently, I looked up the papers to see what instructions in regard to the matter had been given. I found that a definite instruction had been issued by the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Edmund Barton, on the recommendation of the Treasurer, Sir George Turner. That instruction had never been altered. It was to the effect that speeches were to be reprinted exactly asthey stood. I said that I declined to be a censor of what honorable members liked to insert as headings to their speeches, and I referred, the Government Printer back to the instruction given by a previous Prime Minister. I said that until that instruction was altered by a similar authority - that is, by the Prime Minister, on the recommendation of the Treasurer - things were to remain as they were. I may say at once that I have been a sinner - if honorable members like to use that term- as much as any one. I have had headings inserted in reprints of my speeches. But I have never inserted such headings as I have referred to. Some headings have been inserted thatI do not think any one would say were such as would be approved of by Parliament. I may add that I have no feeling in the matter; I will look into it again. If honorable members think that these head-lines are necessary, I shall be glad to see whether we can find some way by which there shall be some censorship.
– Why censorship?
– I think so, because otherwise offensive head-lines may be put in.
– No member of Parliament would do that.
– I do not like to say what some honorable members would or would not do. At any rate, Mr. Speaker, or some one else may take control. Some arrangement may be made by which authority may be exercised. I do not want to have anything to do with the matter, but. I think that some one should censor or vise the head-lines, and if that can be done, well and good. I an. sure that honorable members will acquit me of a desire to interfere with anything that is within the privilege of any honorable member - on the contrary, I desire to assist.- But really, I had to demur a little to some of the headlines that I saw.
– Were they worse than those which the right honorable member inserted in his own speeches?
– They were very much worse.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman object to some things, which are said in this House?
– Yes, I do.
– The next thing’ that the right honorable gentleman will do will be to try to exercise control over what honorable members say.
– If an honorable member uses a strong expression in the course nf a speech - probably an expression that is almost unparliamentary - I do not think that he is justified in putting it into a headline. To do so is to call particular attention to the particular word that he has used. Then again, there is the matter of the covers.
– Mr. Speaker should regulate all that.
– 1 am referring to covers with flaming advertisements, which I do not think come well from the Government Printing Office.
– There was no cover on mine.
– I never had more on the cover of any reprinted speech of mine than the statement that it was delivered on such and such” a day. But, in some, cases things have been-put on covers for electioneering purposes. However, I will consult with Mr. Speaker, and we will see whether we cannot devise some plan. I am sure that honorable members will .agree with me that a document emanating from the Government Printing Office should not contain advertisements for electioneering purposes. These reprints arc transcripts of the speeches from Hansard and the cover should contain the simple statement to that effect. The subject, with the date and the name of the honorable member, should be clearly stated and nothing more. In regard to the old-age pensions matter, referred to by the honorable member for Echuca, and the honorable member for Capricornia, I have to say that, of course, until the Old-age Pensions Act Amendment Bill is passed by the Senate any pensioner in Queensland, although he may have been in receipt of a pension from the Queensland Government, having been twenty years in Australia, but not having been here twenty-five years, will not receive his pension from the Federal authority. But as soon as the Bill is passed by the Senate I shall do everything I can to facilitate immediate payment.
.- The explanation of the Treasurer is very unsatisfactory. He has assumed the role of censor without any authority from Parliament. I have never had one of my speeches reprinted, but I take the point raised by the honorable member for Robertson, that, if the Government is going to control the publication of Hansard by the Government Printer, it is invading the prerogative of Parliament.
– The publication of Hansard is not concerned. I was speaking only of reprints of speeches.
– The honorable member’s interference with a custom which grew up under the authority and direction of the late Speaker, to whose good qualities we have all testified so highly, shows that he is determined to invade the privileges of Parliament. Quite a number of honorable members think that that part of Australia which lies more than a hundred miles from Melbourne is of no account, and can see no need for Hansard. But without the official record, the public at large would not know what honorable members say and do here, the press reports being absolutely insufficient.
– I have not interfered in any way with the publication of Hansard. Besides, I have had as many speeches reprinted as has any honorable member, and have paid for the work.
– Then what did the honorable member mean by referring to the fact that it is done at a very low cost? Evidently the Government wishes to usurp the functions of Parliament. Personally, I am not concerned in this matter, because I have never yet had a speech reprinted, and probably never shall. The right honorable member tried to justify his action on two grounds, that the reprinting of speeches causes considerable embarrassment to the Government Printing Office, and that the work is done cheaply. It appears, however, that those who have their speeches reprinted pay the cost of the work, and the Commonwealth suffers no loss. The Treasurer is not to constitute himself a special censor as to the necessity or undesirability of sub-heads. He has no authority in the matter. Hitherto, Mr. Speaker has, I understand, controlled the reprinting of speeches, and the Treasurer had no right to act without his authority.
– I am not aware that the late Speaker ever gave an instruction in the matter.
– Then the Treasurer should .have taken the proper constitutional course of consulting him. If the Prime Minister will assure us that his action will not be supported by the Ministry, I shall not labour the question further, but I decline to allow a Minister to give directions in a matter of this kind.
– If Parliament gives a direction, we shall obey it, but there has been none yet.
– It is evident that one will be needed soon. I rose chiefly to ask the Prime Minister to say when he will consult the House regarding the proposed adjournment, to enable representatives of the Government to attend the conference of State Premiers. I understood him to say that the Government intend to ask for a week’s adjournment.
– The Minister of Defence, by interjection, suggested a fortnight’s adjournment.
– I do not think so.
– I hope that the adjournment will not be for longer than a week, and, in fairness to representatives who live out of Victoria, I ask the Prime Minister to say when he intends to ascertain the opinion of the House on the matter. Honorable members should know beforehand, so that they can conveniently dispose of the time. Whilst I intend to call for a division on the proposal, I shall do all that I can to facilitate a decision at the earliest convenient moment. There has been some misapprehension because of a statement in today’s newspapers’ regarding old-age pensions. It is not a fact that the Treasurer will not be able to pay pensions until the Appropriation Bill has become law. He has already sufficient money to meet payments for several months ahead.
– It is well that this should be known. I presume that the Department will make arrangements for the paying of pensions on the day on which the amending Bill becomes law, or on the following day. I hope that the Prime Minister, in closing the debate, will indicate what business is to be taken to-morrow, and how far the Government will wish to go.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if he will arrange that members of Parliament shall be supplied with copies of the report of MajorGenera 1 Hoad on his recent visit to England and America. Many members of the general public have received copies, and members of Parliament, who require to be. specially instructed in Defence matters, particularly in view of the probable introduction of a Defence Bill, should also be supplied. When congratulations were being addressed to you, Mr. Speaker, upon your elevation to your high office, members omitted to mention their appreciation of the services rendered by the Clerk during the debate which preceded your election. He has had a very arduous and trying time, and an experience without precedent, so far as the records which I have been able to search, show. The Prime Minister always remembers to do these things, and I ask him to express, in the language which he uses so well, our appreciation of the Clerk’s great services.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
[10.40J. - In reply to the inquiry macle by the honorable member for Corio, I should like to say that I deeply regret that Major-General’ Hoad’s report has been made available to the press before being laid on the table of the House. The circumstances are these : It was intended to lay the report on the table of the House last Friday, and, at the request of various newspapers in the different States, arrangements had been made to put their representatives in possession of copies of it.
– The press always get such reports before we do.
– That occurred in this case owing to the accident last Friday. But for that, there would have been no trouble. I deeply regret that the report should Rave been made available to the press before being presented to the House ; but honorable members will admit that it was due to circumstances which I could not control. I hope that honorable members will accept my assurance that, where I can help it, such a thing will not occur again, for I admit that honorable members are entitled to the first information regarding matters connected with my Department. As to the question put by the honorable member for Wentworth, I wish to say that certain changes have been made in the commands in two of the States, resulting in the transfer of Colonel Le Mesurier from Western Australia to a position in New South Wales. It was felt that we could obtain better value out of that officer in the position to which we proposed to appoint him than we were getting in Western Australia. That was the sole reason for the change.
– The honorable gentleman will do more than any one else has done if he can obtain any satisfaction out of that officer.
– He has proved his mettle on the field of battle.
– He is one of the biggest muffs in the service.
– He does not seem to hold any one position very long.
– I do not think that we ought to canvass the merits of the officer here.
– Muff or no muff, a request was made that he should return to South Africa.
– It is a pity that he did not go back.
– He did, and remained there until the war was over. I deemed it wise to make the change, and Colonel Le Mesurier has not been degraded in any way. His status is not being impaired in the slightest degree, and, altogether, I think the change will suit him and and the Department.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a practice whereby the Commonwealth, with the assistance of the banks, is being robbed annually of thousands of pounds. I refer to the system under which open postal notes which are paid into banks are in some cases used over and over again. In many country banks, a customer asks for a postal note, say, for £1 or 30s., and, paying its equivalent in cash, over the counter, is handed one that has already been used. Thousands of open postal notes, so obtained after thev have been used for the purpose for which they were originally purchased from the Department, are sent to Tattersalls. That has occurred over and over again. The Government have refused to make postal notes legal tender, yet customers of banks are so using them. I have a suggestion to make whereby this fraud on the Commonwealth may be obviated. My suggestion is that the town or city at which the postal note is to be payable shall be printed or written upon it. A regulation should at once be passed providing for that change, for in that way this fraud on the Commonwealth could be stopped. I am sure that no honorable member desires to see the revenue depleted in this way.
– No respectable bank would do what the honorable member speaks of.
– They all do it. I made inquiries when the matter was first brought under my notice, and was told that the banks said it was no business of theirs ; their customers desired the accommodation, and postal notes are negotiable all over the Commonwealth, whereas exchange has to be paid on bank notes in States other than those in which they are issued. I hope that the Postmaster-General will at once take action to prevent the Commonwealth revenue being depleted in this way.
.- I desire to refer to certain questions that I put recently to the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to the size of corn sacks. Honorable members will recollect that last year the then Minister of Trade and Customs issued a regulation prohibiting the introduction of corn sacks other than those of the standard sizes named in the proclamation. No one will find fault with his action, because it was designed to prevent very heavy weights being placedin sacks, and so endangering the lives of those who had to handle them. Unfortunately, however, it entails a hardship on a very large section of the community - on both farmers and merchants. I asked whether the Minister of Trade and Customs was aware that, under the proclamation, bags were being imported that would not hold the weight which the standard corn sack was intended to hold, namely, 200 lbs., and that, if his inquiries should prove that such was the case, he would give instructions that bags of dimensions sufficient to permit of that weight of corn being placed in them could be imported. I also inquired whether the Federal authorities had approached the State Governments with a view of overcoming the difficulty. The answers I received are scarcely inkeeping with the information I had obtained before I put these questions. The Minister informed me that experience shows that the standard sack holds, on the average, 200 lbs. ; my information is that, on the average, it does not hold more than 185 lbs. weight. Further, I was informed that the standard sacks were not equal in quality to those that were formerly imported. A large number of municipal councils, agricultural societies, and like bodies have asked me to endeavour to induce the Minister to agree to the size of the standard corn sack being slightly increased, so as to enable 200 lbs. weight to be placed in it.
– They are supposed to hold 200 lbs. f.a.q.
– My information is that they do not hold more than 185 lbs. weight, and that, when they are sewn up with that weight in them, they have no ears, and are therefore difficult to handle, lt is represented that if the sack were made a little wider and longer, it would meet all requirements, and be very serviceable. I wish, however, to push the matter a little further. If we could obtain a guarantee that not more than 200 lbs. weight of corn would be placed in a sack, sacks of all sizes might be allowed to be introduced.
– Who is to give the guarantee?
– I ask the Minister to endeavour to induce the State Governments to provide a guarantee by some regulation or law ; but, of course, if the States do not consent, I cannot ask the Minister to go further. I do not think that the States have been approached just as, perhaps, they ought to have been. We must not forget that the Commonwealth Parliament and the State Parliaments represent one and the same people, and that, if we can ‘ minimize the difficulties of the producing classes, it is our duty, as well as that of the States, to do so. Tasmania is particularly penalized, because in that State more than 2 cwt. is never put into sacks.
– But elsewhere more is put into the sacks.
– I know that, and I appreciate the action of the Government in making the limitation. In Tasmania, a quantity of oats is grown, and in any case more than 160 His. cannot be got into an ordinary four-bushel bag. The men who have the handling of the bags, the growers, and all concerned desire the liberty to use other sacks also.
– The honorable member has not interviewed the right men.
– I have consulted the men working at the threshing machines, the farmers, and all who have to do with the handling of the bags. In view of the Premiers’ Conference, I ask whether something cannot be done in this matter, because if what I suggest can be carried out, it will be a beneficial and business-like act.
– There is nothing to prevent the States from dealing with the matter.
– That is why I am asking the Minister to induce the States to deal with it.
.- I am astounded to hear the remarks of the Treasurer as to the instructions regarding certain documents supposed to be reprints from Hansard. I was under the impression that Hansard is under the control of the House, and not under the control of any Government or Treasurer. A most extraordinary fact is that during the no-confidence debate the Prime Minister himself had a speech reprinted, with crossheadings, but, when the honorable member for Yarra endeavoured to have his speech similarly produced, he was refused permission. Like the honorable member for Wide Bay, I have never had a speech reprinted, and I am not likely to have one reprinted, so that I am not speaking as an aggrieved person. The House is now faced with the fact that the Treasurer has been allowed to interfere with the privileges of honorable members and to usurp a function which has been delegated to no Government. The whole control of Hansard lies with the President and Mr. Speaker, while the printing of other documents is within the province of the Printing Committee. Something should be done to protect the rights of honorable members. We have had the startling statement from the Treasurer that he practically alters reprints in a way to suit himself.
– Surely these reprints were not issued as copies of Hansard ?
– The Treasurer states that all he placed upon the title page was “Reprinted from Hansard.” When documents are altered in the way the Treasurer states, it appears to me that if anything libellous were circulated, the person issuing the documents might lay himself open to an action, seeing that they would not represent a true reprint from Hansard.
– Does the honorable member not think that what purports to be a copy of Hansard should be an exact copy, without emendations or head-lines?
– I cannot quote any authority for the view I am expressing. I am merely suggesting that the question is worth looking into. What I take exception to is that the Treasurer should usurp the functions of the House in preventing these documents from being reprinted in the form desired by honorable members. Why should the Treasurer be permitted to reprint his speech with head-lines, while the honorable member for Yarra is refused a similar privilege?
– The matter had not been brought under my notice when the Prime Minister had his speech reprinted. The Printer only sent the question to me two or three days ago.
– It is extraordinary that the Printer did not submit it in reference to the Prime Minister’s speech.
– It was not the cross-headings, but the style of crossheadings, that was objected to.
– I should sav that the cross-headings were purely a matter for the honorable member who is having his speech reprinted, and that neither the Treasurer nor any other member of the Government has the right to be the censor.
– Does the honorable member suggest that a member should be allowed to insert offensive cross-headings?
– That is purely an honorable member’s own business. The Speaker has full power to stop anything offensive appearing on the notice-paper, and he also has control of Hansard; and no other member has the right to interfere.
– No one does interfere.
– The Treasurer has interfered.
– But the pamphlets are not Hansard; they have no connexion with it.
– Is it suggested that the honorable member for Yarra would publish anything offensive?
– The honorable member for Yarra would be the last to do so.
– I understand that that is the allegation. I do not know anything about it.
– The position I take up is that, if any honorable member desires that his speech shall be reprinted from Hansard, it should be purely a matter between himself and Mr. Speaker, and not between himself and the Treasurer or other Minister. I hope that honorable members will see that the privilege of reprinting their speeches from Hansard is not curtailed by a member of the Government.
– Iunderstand that the Prime Minister desires to lay an important paper on the table, in order that it may be circulated. Therefore, I will put the question that he have leave to do so.
– He can do it afterwards.
– Will that close the debate, sir?
– No. There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On behalf of my colleague, I beg to place upon the table -
Defence - Extracts from Report submitted to the Honorable the Minister of State for Defence by Major-General J. C. Hoad,. C.M.G., Inspector-General Military Forces of the Commonwealth, in connexion with Tour of Duty in the United Kingdom and the United States of America 1908-9.
.- I am very pleased that the honorable member for Yarra brought before the House an interference with the privileges of honorable members. I think that the reply of the Treasurer was far from satisfactory, and I ask the Prime Minister either to indorse what his colleague said or to indicate what views he holds on this matter. I issued a reprint of one or two speeches I had made, without any alteration or headline, but, seeing thatMinisters of the Crown were adopting a method whereby they might make their speeches perhaps, more concise, so far as the different subjects were concerned, I followed the example of the Prime Minister and others. There is every justification for honorable members being allowed to do that. In the first place, it breaks up the solidity of the speech, and, so long as the speaker does not put in a heading which is offensive or unparliamentary, or inapplicable to the subject, I cannot seeany objection to it. I wish now to refer to the Treasurer’s remark that he has taken out interjections. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in doing that, because there is a system growing up here whereby certain honorable members are designedly, or, if not designedly, at any rate very determinedly, hurling, in a most offensive way, irrelevant interjections into a speech. It appears to me that it is done for the purpose of getting in a cutting reply while an honorable member is speaking, and placing a false impression upon his utterance. Necessarily the speaker takes up some time in responding to an innuendo hurled at him by a designing member, and thus breaks the continuity of his speech. I believe that the late Speaker did agree that it was not absolutely necessary for either an interjection or a member’s reply to an interjection to appear in the record - that he could expunge the passage from the proof if he so desired.
– What he said was that an interjection need not appear if it was not replied to.
– That is to say that an honorable member can strike out any interjections which are not replied to. But I submit that even interjections which are replied to are no part of a member’s speech, and very often are thrown in to divert the course of his remarks, and, I might add, for other more unworthy motives.
– The honorable member is always saying nasty things.
– Now that the honorable member has intervened in his usual way, I may say that he was in my mind’s eye when I was referring to offensive interjections. It has become a very offensive habit on his part, riot only with myself, but with any one who happens to be making an effective speech, to make such interjections. There can be no objection, I think, to the use of headlines which deal with the topics discussed by the speaker. I have issued an address with a few headlines. At the time I was speaking I noticed a smile on the face of the Minister of Defence, and referred to it. When I came to that part of mv address I inserted this headline, “ The Smile of Joseph.” Surely the honorable member could not object to a headline of that nature? In another part of my speech I referred to the “ Road to Salvation.” Is there any objection to a headline of that kind appearing in the reprint of my address? I take it that no honorable member would use a headline which would be offensive. His pamphlet would be read by persons of all shades of political belief, and, therefore, for the sake of his own reputation, he would take care not’ to offend the susceptibilities of any readers. I do not think that there could be any objection offered to what I put on the outside of my pamphlet. I might as well be frank and state that I indicated on the outside where the speechwas delivered, and used these words,. “ Kindly pass this on when read.” Surely there is no objection to an honorable member doing that?
.- Last week, when the honorable member for North Sydney was leaving the chamber, he asked me if - 1, would give him a pair on any question in which I was voting against the Government, and I very gladly did so j but on Thursday afternoon, unfortunately, a misunderstanding arose about the pair which I wish to clear up. Being anxious to be here while the Oldage Pensions Bill was being discussed,, even from the first clause, in connexionwith an amendment 1 was opposed to,, and having to leave at a quarter to 6 o’clock, I said to the honorable member for Riverina, who was sitting next to me, “Is it safe to go?” “Oh, yes,” he said; “I will look after, that allright.” I took the honorable member to mean that he would see that the debate did not close before half-past 6 o’clock,, as I intended to be back at a quarter to 8 o’clock. Unfortunately, a division took place before half-past 6 o’clock, and the Government Whip informed my honorable friend that I had paired with the honorable member for North Sydney. No division having occurred up to that time, I never thought of mentioning the pair toany of my colleagues who sat near me. The honorable member thought I was simply anxious to vote on the subject, and said that I had asked him to look after my vote. That was a misunderstanding which might easily happen. I want to clear upthe matter, and to show that it was a mistake on the part of the honorable member in construing my words. Had I beenhere, I should have observed the pair, and the Government Whip was not wrongin stating that I had paired, nor was thehonorable member for Riverina knowingly wrong in saying that I instructed him tolook after mv vote.
– As one of the partiesconcerned in this matter, I should like torefer to the explanation which has beenvery properly made by the honorable member for Gippsland. Being called away on an important matter, I sought from members of the Opposition that courtesy which I had very willingly given to them when they were on the Government benches.
– The honorable member declined to pair with the Deakin party when I was in office.
– I gave pairs, at any rate, three times to every one that I took myself.
– Did not we always give pairs to the Reid Government?
– Yes ; 1 have nothing to say about that. I spoke to the honorable member for Gippsland, and he very kindly agreed to pair with me. I was satisfied that he would honorably carry out any arrangement he made, and I am equally satisfied to-day. The explanation shows clearly that it was a misunderstanding such as will sometimes arise. There is no reflection in my mind, or, I am sure, in the minds of other honorable members, on the honorable member for Gippsland.
.- I had promised a pair to the honorable member for Cowper. When the division came on, the honorable member for Gippsland was absent, and the honorable member for Flinders was here. I naturally thought that if the honorable member for Flinders had been asked to. give the honorable member for Gippsland a pair, he would have done so on account of what happened a week or two before. 1 thought that instead of the honorable member for Flinders and myself standing out, it would be just as well if the pair with the honorable member for Cowper was transferred from me to the honorable member for Gippsland. That accounts for me not giving the honorable member for Cowper a pair as I promised. It arose through the misunderstanding between the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Riverina. I have never .broken a pair or refused one when there was a legitimate reason for giving it. I do not believe in sitting in the House to do business and letting other honorable members go home to their beds ; but I have always been prepared to give a pair when a”sked for it on reasonable grounds.
.- I am glad I was present to hear the explanation of the honorable member for Gippsland, because it is perfectly correct. He made no mention to me of a pair, but he did mention his desire to be present. He said he was called away until after 6.30. He asked if it was safe to go away, and, knowing that I intended to speak, I said, “ Yes; I will see that no vote is taken until you return.” I gave him .my word, and felt obliged to see that his vote would be recorded, as I understood he desired it to be. Then there was a desire on both sides that the debate should close before 6.30. The honorable member for Newcastle - the Opposition Whip - spoke to me about it, and I replied that I was in duty bound to speak, and to carry -out my word as given to the honorable member for Gippsland, unless a pair could be arranged for that honorable member during his absence. I consented to the arrangement suggested, only on condition that the pair of the honorable member for Bass was transferred in the manner which he has described.
– I told the honorable member that the honorable members for Gippsland and North Sydney were paired.
– That is quite correct. But the honorable member for Gippsland did not tell me. He made no mention of a pair at all. He certainly did mention his desire to be present before the vote was taken, and I naturally thought that he wanted to vote, and was perfectly free to vote. Having given him my word that he would have an opportunity to do so, I did, in the circumstances, what I would do again if similar circumstances arose.
– I have had one or two speeches reprinted from Hansard, but I never altered a line of the reports, nor did T put in a cross-heading. It is remarkable to hear the Treasurer state that he has ordered the Government Printer to cease putting in cross-headings because they are an interference with Hansard, when he himself admits that he has been guilty of altering that record. I never took out an interjection or a letter, and other honorable members like myself have not interfered with Hansard at all. Other honorable members - just as the Prime Minister has done - have put to their speeches crossheadings, to which no one can take the slightest exception. But now, browse some one may have offended-
– It is simply because a Labour man did it.
– That is what 1 rather fear. If, in the Treasurer’s opinion, any honorable member put in crossheadings to which exception could be taken, iit was his duty to report the matter to the Speaker. If he had done so, the Speaker would, no doubt, have interviewed the honorable member concerned, and he would not have offended again. On this occasion, however, a member of the Ministry has taken away from honorable members a privilege that has not been abused, simply because he does not agree with what some one else has done. I hope we shall receive an assurance from the Prime Minister that this will not occur again. 1 do not wish to see offensive cross-headings inserted in the reprint of any honorable member’s speech ; but’ I do not believe in punishing the whole of the members of the House because the Treasurer thinks that one man has offended.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is possible to make arrangements, so that any honorable member may attend and hear the discussions of the approaching Premiers’ Conference? I notice that the Leader of the Labour party in Western Australia is to accompany the Premier of that State to the Conference. The Government ought to recognise that the solution of the financial difficulties of the Commonwealth and of the States is not a party, matter, and that honorable members on all sides should have an opportunity of hearing the debates, in order that they may be better able to deal with the question when it comes before the House. The press is not admitted to these Conferences, and so there is no chance of obtaining a full report of what transpires. The doors of the Conference should not be closed to members of this or the State Houses. Another matter to which I should like to refer briefly is the proposal to send mechanics to America in connexion with the manufacture of small arms. I have had a word on the subject with the Minister of Defence, who told me that intending applicants should send in their applications at once, if they are to be considered. I suggest that the Government might make a pronouncement on the subject, stating the number of men to be sent, and giving some indication of the qualifications they must possess, so that our mechanics generally will know whether they are qualified to apply. They will not care to apply without some knowledge as to the kind of tradesmen, whether fitters; black smiths, or other mechanics, who are to be sent. There should be more publicity given to the intention to send these mechanics to America for the purpose stated.
– Hear, _ hear ; it is too much a hole and corner business.
– I think so. If the Government have determined on the number of men to be sent, and their qualifications, they might make a statement in the House on the subject, so that mechanics throughout Australia will understand exactly what the position is.
– I have told the honorable member that it has not been definitely decided yet; but that in all probability men would be sent.
– Exactly,, but the Minister suggested that mechanics should send in their applications at once
– Only, as I told the honorable member, for the reason that a large number of applications have already been received.
– Exactly ; but if the Government do decide to send a certain number of men they will doubtless set about examining the qualifications of those who have already sent in applications, and a large number of. mechanics who may be equally qualified will, because they .are in ignorance of the conditions, be given no opportunity to send in their applications. Probably the Government are afraid that a public announcement on the matter would cause them difficulty in view of the fact that they might be overwhelmed with applications.
– I have referred to the subject because of my experience in connexion with the men sent to England to obtain experience in connexion with the construction of destroyers. Although a Labour Government was in power when that matter was dealt with, I did not consider that sufficient publicity was given .to the proposal to send men to the Old Country for that purpose, and the conditions on which they were to be sent. This is not a party matter, and I trust that our tradesmen will be given more information on this occasion than they were given on the occasion ti> which I have just referred.
– I will take care that that ‘is’ done.
– All honorable members present will echo the. remarks made by the honorable’ member for Corio. We all feel, and nowpublicly recognise, our debt to the Clerk to-day for the able manner in which he discharged his duties under extremely trying conditions, which it was impossible for him to foresee, and prepare for.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I hope that the Clerk will accept this simple recognition of his special services to-day with the knowledge that it has the assent of the Leader of the Opposition and of all other members of the House. With respect to the business to be taken to-morrow, of course the Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill will be dealt with first, and new business Will be taken in the order in which it appears on the paper. We shall first take the second reading of the Northern Territory Bill, but it is not proposed to press that further to-morrow, though, of course, any member who so desires, can follow the mover. The Bills of Exchange Bill will next be dealt with, and then other business, in the order in which it appears on the paper.
– Are these the urgent matters referred, to in the honorable gentleman’s Ministerial statement?
– I think that the acquisition of the Northern Territory is urgent, and the great problems involved in it will be stated to-morrow. We shall then proceed with the other measures tabled. On the question of naturalization referred to by the honorable member for Echuca, let me say that a certificate is of course evidence of naturalization, but the fact is independent of that evidence, and it can be established by reference to Commonwealth or State records. I think that if steps are taken to inquire in that direction the honorable member will, find that evidence sufficient to satisfy the presiding officer will be forthcoming. The measure referred to by the Leader of the Opposition as interfering with the payment of old-age pensions is the Bill now before another place. As to the adjournment during the meetings of the Premiers’ Conference I shall take an opportunity of letting the Leader of the Opposition know exactly the proposalI intend to submit in that regard.
– I hope that it will not be later than next week.
– I hope not. With respect to the sizeof cornsacks, referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot, if the honorable member repeats his inquiry to-morrow I shall probably be in a position to give him the information he seeks. The question of the publication, not of Hansard, but of something that is quite distinct from Hansard - the speeches of honorable members - is a new question tome, and the matter of cross-headings is also new. I was not aware of the old instruction given by a former Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, nor that a custom had grown up, nor that it had been altered. I shall look into the matter tomorrow. The circumstances are somewhat complex, but I shall furnish some explanation which will give honorable members the information they desire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.25p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090728_reps_3_50/>.