3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Glynn) read a first time.
-I have received from
Lady Holder the following letter: -
Will you convey to the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth the thanks of myself and family for the resolution forwarded by you, for the beautiful wreaths from the Government and Parliament, and for the State funeral arranged to do honour to my late husband. He gave of his best to “ his God, his country, and his home,” and he will ever live in the affections of all who have known him, which is the best heritage one can have. Again, thanking you all,
I am, dear sir,
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs yet received the communication which he expected from the New South Wales Government as to its intentions regarding the Federal Capital site?
– Not yet; but I think that it will come within a day or two.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs any reason tobelieve that the delay on the part of the New South Wales Government in answering his communication regarding the Capital Site is due to hesitation to comply with the request of the Commonwealth?
– I have no reason to think that any unnecessary delay is occurring; on the contrary, I have every reason to believe that the Premier of New South Wales is expediting the matter as much as he can.’ The cause of the delay is that the legal position has to be inquired into. I am sure that the Premier of New South Wales is pushing on with the matter as fast as he can.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer, without notice -
– I have not read the press statement referred to, nor have I been consulted in. the matter. While much obliged to the honorable member for the information which he has given, which may be considered of value, I do not feel called upon to reply to the questions which he has asked.
– On the 4th June last, the Little River Rifle Club, after a good deal of trouble, got a site granted to it by the Defence Department, and, according to a correspondent -
Two weeks later, the Departmental inspecting officer inspected the site, andfixed the position for targets, and intimated that he would favour a grant of £50 or £55. Five weeks have now elapsed since, yet, on applying for permission to erect our targets, we are informed that the inspecting officers report is not to hand.
Similar complaints have been made by other rifle clubs. Will the Minister see that these officers are required to report within at least a month of making their inspections? When the members of a rifle club have gone to the trouble of raising funds by public subscription, they find it very inconvenient and disappointing to be kept waiting.
– If the facts are as stated, the complaint of the Little River club is a just one. I shall have the matter inquired into.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether he will lay on the table of the House a copy of the conditions under which it is proposed to offer a prize of £5,000 to the successful inventor of an aeroplane in Australia?
– Conditions for the purpose are at present being elaborated, and, when completed, I shall be glad to make them public.
– Will the Minister of Defence state whether the inquiry into certain charges preferred against: ex-Sergeant-Major Daly, of Molong, has been completed, and whether a decision has yet been arrived at in respect of those charges ?
– I am not yet. in receipt of the report. The inquiry is proceeding.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Herbert asked me whether I was aware of the allegation that Papuans are being brought to work on Thursday Island, ostensibly in connexion with the pearl fishing, but really in other occupations. I promised to make inquiries, and caused a telegram to be sent to the Customs Department, to which the following reply was received -
Re Papuans brought to Thursday Island for pearling. No foundation for statement that they are engaged in other industries. Informed Papuans infrequently perform casual work ashore for pearlers.
– As the reply just furnished by the Minister of External Affairs is to me very unsatisfactory, I wish to ask the honorable gentleman whether he will direct further inquiries to be made, and ascertain what is the casual labour in which these Papuans are engaged by pearlers on Thursday Island ?
– I shall certainly ask for full and complete information to be furnished by post. I was desirous of giving the honorable member the information for which he asked at the earliest possible moment, and the particulars furnished by telegraph, were necessarily brief. I shall obtain a fuller report.
Manufacture of Postal Uniforms : Government Clothing Factory
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he proposes to place on the Estimates a sum to provide for a Government factory for the making of postal uniforms?
– The question involves a statement as to the contents of the Estimates which I am informed it is not usual to make before they have been laid on the table.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table a report presented some time ago to the Department by a Committee appointed to deal with the matter.
– I shall be most happy to do so.
– On Friday last I asked the Minister of External Affairs’ a question in regard to the report that it was proposed to allow a Japanese medical man to land at Broome, Western Australia. The honorable gentleman promised to make inquiries on the subject, and I wish now to ask whether he has any information to afford the House, and if it is the intention of his Government to issue a permit enabling the doctor to practice at the port in question?
– In accordance with the promise that I gave the honorable member, I have made inquiries, and find’ that -
In April last the Japanese Consul-General asked for permission for the landing of a Japanese doctor at Broome, in Western Australia, whom the Japanese residents of that place were desirous of inviting with a view of his practising his profession there. In reply, he was informed that a certificate of exemption for two or three years would be granted provided the doctor was a qualified medical practitioner, who intended to devote his time solely to the practice of his profession. It may be mentioned that in December, 1903, a similar permit was given for a Japanese doctor for Thursday Island.
Since the House rose, a telegram has been received from the Premier of Western Australia intimating that he is forwarding further papers, the receipt of which we are awaiting.
– The honorable gentle^ man spoke of the doctor being properly qualified. What qualification has he iri mind ?
– I have quoted the words used in the official reply, but I presume that the qualification referred to there would mean a qualification to practice in accordance with the law of the State.
Imperial Defence Conference : Colonel Foxton’ s Instructions.
.- I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The failure of the Government to afford the House an opportunity of expressing its views on the question of the defence of Australia and the Empire to be discussed at the Imperial Defence Conference, or to supply it with information as to the instructions given to Colonel Foxton, representative of the Commonwealth to the Defence Conference.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– During last week, I asked the Minister of Defence some questions in regard to this matter, which were followed by a number of questions put by other honorable members, but no satisfactory answer was afforded.
– There is a question on the notice-paper to-day, but the honorable member has not waited for my answer before taking this action.
– I desire to know, Mr. Speaker, .whether the honorable member is in order in discussing this matter, in view of the fact that I have on the notice-paper to-day a question relating to it.
– The honorable member for West Sydney desires, I understand, to discuss the whole question of the defence of Australia and the Empire, whereas the question appearing on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Lang relates only to the question of the defence of Australia. The honorable member for West Sydney is dealing now particularly with the question of defence, which, we understand, is to he considered by a Conference in London. I think that he is in order.
– The point that I wish to bring before the House, and which I consider of sufficient importance to warrant the course I have taken- and it is a very unusual one for rae to take- is that a Conference is about to be held in London to discuss the best way of defending Australia and the Empire generally. At that Conference, representatives of the British Government and of the self-governing parts of the Empire are to be present. I take it that what the Conference recommends, unless it be an outrageous recommendation, will be practically adopted by the various portions of the Empire. In those circumstances, it is in the last degree important that we should know the precise attitude of our own representative.
– That is to say, we should tell the honorable member and the public what our delegate is going to say in a secret consultative Conference.
– The matter is not, and cannot be, a secret. One would imagine that the question of the peace and welfare of the Empire’ was bound up in inviolable secrecy. That is so far from being the fact that everybody knows that practically there are but two broad roads along which the Conference can travel. Those have been indicated in this morning’s paper by the views set forth by the Times and by the opinions of Sir Joseph Ward. The Times view is very distinctly set forth as follows -
The Times advocates three principles to govern the permanent solution of defence problems - Firstly, each Dominion must develop its own naval resources under its own Parliament : -
I presume that there can be no exception to that in any part of the Empire - secondly, the training and material of the overseas forces must, as far as possible, be the same; thirdly, individual efforts must be coordinated to a common end.
The Times adds -
The acceptance of Dreadnoughts for European service can only be regarded as a special measure for a special emergency, quite distinct from the progressive naval policy which the Conference must strive to evolve.
The cablegram continues -
Proceeding, the journal suggests that the funds voted by New Zealand and Australia would be more profitably applied to cruisers fitted for the Australian station and better qualified for immediate requirements than battleships.
And, later -
When Sir Joseph Ward’s attention was called to the suggestion of the Times, he expressedthe belief that the New Zealand Government, would not favour it. The Dominion, he said,, would most prefer to adhere to its own proposal.
That is, to give a Dreadnought to Great Britain for Great Britain’s use. There are two distinct policies, and it is clear that, at the Conference, Sir Joseph Ward intends to adhere to his policy, which is to give a Dreadnought, and have done with it. We have an absolute right to know what is the attitude of the Commonwealth Government in regard to that question. If the Government say that they are prepared to adopt any alternative that the Conference may suggest - because their offer was “a Dreadnought or its equivalent” - all I have to say is that the Conference will suggest any alternative or equivalent that it thinks is right. The Conference is not a distinct entity, but is made up of a number of delegates, and, according to the views which those delegates express, so will the recommendations of the Conference be shaped. If, then, all the delegates say, “ We are perfectly prepared to do what the Conference suggests, as we have come here with open minds, and have not been instructed to ask for anything in particular,” it clearly follows that what the British Government suggests, and not what the Empire as a whole desires, will be adopted. It is monstrous to suppose that Australia is to be represented by a delegate who has no instructions. We cannot say that he has no views, for we know the contrary. We are aware that he puts them forward, but they are no sooner published than they are repudiated by the Government. The Minister of Defence said the other day that no doubt its representative was expressing his own opinion. The Government is largely composed of men who advocated the Dreadnought policy - that is to say, that, there must be the gift of a Dreadnought to Great Britan. It would be only fair for the Government to declare themselves on that point, and say, “ We instructed our representative to vote at the Conference in favour of the gift of a Dreadnought.” If they did not do so, if the Honorary Minister has simply gone Home to listen to what other people say, then the Australian Government will have no voice in the decisions and recommendations of the Conference.
– He is only a call-bird, in any case.
– All I know is that he lis the representative of this Government. If the Government speak on the question with a forked tongue, it must be difficult -for him, or any other man, to voice opinions “which oscillate from one extreme to the other. The poor man cannot be expected to at once advocate and denounce the gift of a Dreadnought. I do not say that it would be impossible, because we have seen that nothing is impossible in this Parliament; but it would be difficult. Upon the question of naval policy, Australia has made up her mind, and I must emphatically challenge the Government to declare their policy in that connexion, and to say what they have instructed the honorable member for Brisbane to do. Two distinct views appear to be put forward, and we have the right to know to which Australia is to be committed at the Conference. It is all very well to suggest, as the honorable member for Lang does, that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the matter before we are committed to a policy. Everybody knows- that at conferences representatives are instructed to put forward certain views. The Government’s representative must, in this case, be instructed to put forward certain views at the Conference, because the views which he has already ventilated in London have been repudiated by the Government as being his own personal views. Therefore, these views, which are not those of the Government, will not be put forward at the Conference. But surely he will put forward the views of the Government ; and I want to know what they are. Has he not been instructed at all ? Do the Government intend that he shall cable out for instructions as each motion is put forward at the Conference? If so, then, if a motion is tabled by a delegate from Canada, South Africa, or New Zealand, apparently the Honorary Minister must cable out for instructions before he can express any opinions upon it. I want to know what those instructions can possibly be. Surely they ought not to depend upon the cable, but upon the views which the Government already hold’. The naval policy of the late Government was formulated in as much detail as was possible in the circumstances. The Government objected to send Home the ex-Minister of Defence on the ground that he would not represent the opinions of the present Ministry. If Senator Pearce did not represent the opinions of this Govern ment, evidently it was considered that he held the views of the Fisher Government. Those opinions were that Australia should not make a gift of a Dreadnought, but that our contribution towards Imperial Defence should take the shape of an Australian Navy. I should like to know whether Colonel Foxton has been instructed to that effect? If he has not, for what reason did the Government object to send Home a man who was in accord with their views, and who, in conjunction with Colonel Foxton, could have been said to represent the whole Parliament? The Government decline to give any information whatever. They simply sit back and say nothing. They have a majority behind them, of course. But a certain proportion of that majority hold views quite distinct and opposite from those entertained by other honorable members who support the Government. Therefore, for the Government to declare what their policy is would be disconcerting and would place in the most awkward position the whole Ministerial party. Consequently, the policy of the Government seems fo be like that of “ Brer Rabbit,” to lie low and say nothing. But that is a most undignified position for a Government to occupy, and one that ought not to be tolerated by Parliament. I think it was only on Saturday night last that the Minister of Defence afforded the country an opportunity to know his mind in regard to this question. He explains himself by instalments. But regarded as a declaration of national policy, his statement left us quite unsatisfied. On Monday the Prime Minister delivered himself of an oration to some ladies. He ran the whole gamut of politics, and his utterance included a. fine reference to compulsory training. Evidently the Prime Minister holds the same opinions on that subject as he advocated a few months ago. But what are the opinions of the Minister of Defence? Whom does Colonel Foxton represent? What views does he put forward? Has he been instructed to advance the same opinions as have been advocated by Sir Joseph Ward, who considers that the present of a Dreadnought is the most effective contribution which can be made towards Imperial Defence? If so. I think we should be told, and the Government should have the courage to test the feeling of the House on the matter. If not, the Government should admit at once that their whole attitude for months past has been a sham that they have not had the courage to disavow, which never had any foundation other than the hysteria of a section of the people, or rather of the press. The Government, in my opinion, ought now to. give the House an opportunity of discussing the question fully. We ought to be furnished with information as to the instructions given to the Defence representative of the Cabinet in London. Failing that, it would certainly appear, and ought to be made perfectly clear to the Government of Great Britain, that in this particular matter the Government of Australia have no opinions at all. In that respect the Government differs vitally from the people of this country, who have in a most definite way pronounced their views. I do not desire to labour the question, but it is one of the very greatest consequence. It is so urgent that it is a matter rather for action than for words. If the House is content that in a question of the first importance this country should be represented at a Conference unique of its kind by a man not instructed, or acting under instructions about which this Parliament and this country know absolutely nothing, there is no necessity to bother about the matter any further. But, as I think, the matter is of the utmost importance. Whatever this Parliament does now the country will in a very little while be most vitally interested in what is done and how it is done. Although the question is, as the Minister says, being discussed in secret, the findings or recommendations of the Conference will be published, and we have a perfect right to know upon what grounds those findings or recommendations are arrived at. Consequently I think that the request which I have made is justified by the circumstances; and I hope that the Minister and the Government will so far accede to it as to give us an opportunity of discussing the question at some length.
.-In seconding the motion which has been moved by the honorable member for West Sydney, I have to say that I could not help being struck by an interjection made by the Prime Minister when my honorablefriend rose. He sneered at the present attempt to discuss the matter of defence as one of urgency. But I remember how we were sent home to our Christmas dinners about two years ago with the words of the Prime Minister ringing in our ears as to the urgency of the question. When I remember also the speeches which he made in Sydney during the recess that followed, and see now the easy manner in which he and his Government desire to put off all reference to the subject to an indefinite period, I must confess that the change surprises me. Apparently Colonel Foxton has been sent Home to learn what the Imperial Government propose.
– He has been sent Home to get rid of him for the time being.
– That may be a very justifiable explanation. Indeed, I believe that one or two other honorable members opposite might for the same reason have been sent home with Colonel Foxton. But if we wanted to learn what the. Imperial Government thought, we could have ascertained their views without sending Colonel Foxton to England. They could have been submitted to us in the form of printed papers. If, however, Colonel Foxton has been sent to England to represent the views of the Government on the subject, I can only say that that explanation has been contradicted by the Government themselves. Apparently Colonel Foxton, if he may be said to represent any views, represents his own, and those of nobody else. I ask the House to remember what Colonel Foxton’s views are. I purpose now briefly to quote them, in order that the House may form an opinion as to whether he is a fitting person to represent us or the Australian people in regard to defence.
– The Government have had to take Colonel Foxton to task twice already.
– His statements have been frequently contradicted. Every other day we are informed that some statement he has made is incorrect, or it is explained that the reporters have made a mistake in reporting him. This is what Colonel Foxton said in speaking on the Defence Bill on the 13th October, 1908: -
Theoretically the best way to obtain the most effective results would be to make every man a soldier. That would afford the best means of defence for any country, but it cannot be done. Respect must be had for our industries. The business of the country must be carried on, and so most nations have solved the difficulty by establishing standing armies of paid soldiers.
The man who could give utterance to these views is not fitted to represent Australian sentiment on the subject of defence, or to represent the views of the Prime Minister if that honorable gentleman seriously meant what he told us here eighteen months or two years ago. Colonel Foxton went on to say -
So that it is merely a question of degree - of the extent to which any community is willing to make sacrifices for the purpose of having a portion of its male population specially trained for defence purposes.
– How would the honorable member select the men?
Colonel FOXTON. - In my opinion the voluntary system will answer, supplemented by certain early military training. If we claim every man in the country in the manner in which it is proposed under this Bill that men shall be trained, we shall undoubtedly have a very large number of men away from their civil occupations, whilst in my opinion a sufficient amount of training can be secured without such sacrifices.
It is clear from that quotation that Colonel Foxton is very much more anxious that employers shall not be placed at any disadvantage through having their employes taken away from their service a few months in every year to learn how to defend the country than he is about the real defence of the Empire. It must be clear to every honorable member that he is not fitted to represent the opinion of this House on the subject. That his own view should not be put forward as the views of this community may be seen from the third and last quotation I shall make from the honorable gentleman’s speech.
It also has to be remembered that we are an integral part of a great naval Empire. It seems to me to be inconceivable that during this generation or the next there should be the slightest fear of an invasion of Australia.
He does not believe that during this or the next generation there is the slightest fear that Australia will be attacked. This is the gentleman who has been chosen to tell those attending the Imperial Defence Conference what the people of Australia think on the subject of Australian defence. The speech from which I have quoted was a very notable speech. The honorable gentleman put a fine case forward in support of his view of the necessity of protecting business interests, and he also put forward a strong case for the saluting of a superior officer when a subordinate meets him outside.
– Either in uniform or in mufti.
– Yes, that was one of the principal features of the honorable gentleman’s speech. I defy any one to discover in the speech the expression of any views which would qualify Colonel Foxton to represent Australian sentiment at the Imperial Defence Conference.
– About the only compulsion he advocated was in connexion with the saluting of the superior officer.
– Yes, he considered that it should be compulsory for every man to salute his superior officer when he met him outside. I do not know that the supporters of the Ministry have any particular reason to complain that Colonel Foxton should give utterance to his own views rather than to those of the Government, because if one thing is more clear than another, it is that upon all great questions the Ministry has not yet formulated a policy. It is impossible for Ministers to send any one to England or anywhere else to say what they believe should be done, because apparently no two of them believe alike on this or on any other question.
– It is very difficult for any one to represent them.
– We should remember that the Conference is to be held in secret, and as the Government have not decided what they should do in the matter of defence, it must- be very difficult for any one to represent them there. Apparently their object in this, as in other instances, is to adopt the policy of delay, and Colonel Foxton would appear to have been sent to England to secure delay, and for no other purpose in the hope that after February or March of next year some one will be left out, and it may then be possible for the Government to adopt a united view on some subject. I contrast the action of the present Government in sending to the Imperial Conference, without any instructions as to what he is to do, a gentleman who is quite out of touch with Australian sentiment on the subject of defence with what was contemplated by the last Government. Had the ex-Minister for Defence, Senator Pearce, gone to England to represent the late Government, there would have been no doubt as to what he would say. He would have attended the Conference with a clear and definite scheme, and in such circumstances some good might have come out of the proposal. I submit that no good can come out of Colonel Foxton’s mission. If the present Government have given any instructions to Colonel Foxton which would have the effect of modifying the extraordinary views to which he gave utterance last year on the subject, it is up to them to tell the House in what way they asked their representative to modify the views he has expressed.
– It is perfectly impossible for any honorable member to contend that he has not been already informed fully in regard to Colonel Foxton’s mission and relation to the Cabinet, in response to the several inquiries which have been made in this House. It has been pointed out that members of the Government do not give written instructions to one another, but that so far as we could foresee them, the questions to be deliberated upon at the Imperial Defence Conference, were discussed with Colonel Foxton, and in his presence by the whole of the Government. So that wherever we could assist him he went thoroughly well informed of the views which we hold. In addition to that, he took with him two of the most trusted and experienced officers of the Commonwealth service, one military, and the other naval, and both well informed as to the condition of affairs in their respective branches of our service.
– Will they be admitted to the Conference ?
– I have no doubt that at some sittings of the Conference or at subsidiary meetings held in connexion with it, they will be enabled to be present. Of course, we shall have only one spokesman at the Conference, and he will be the honorable member for Brisbane. In these circumstances it is idle for honorable members to affect to pretend that they do not know Colonel Foxton’s position, or that they could know any more regarding the position of any representative. His previous personal views honorable members might or might not have agreed with. But so far as the Government are concerned and so far as was possible in anticipation, Colonel Foxton was informed of what we considered necessary to qualify him for his important task. As a matter of fact, the representatives who attend that Conference go to receive, rather than to impart, information. They have the advantage of valuable knowledge possessed by their officers on the technical side, and by themselves generally of the circumstances of Australia ; and that knowledge will be useful to the Conference. This will include, not only members of the Government of Great Britain, but the principal advisers of the Government on all military and naval matters, who really, decide the form and character of British naval and land defences. They are the best experts and the highest authorities the Empire possesses. It is to listen to them and to consider with them the adaptation of their schemes to the peculiar circumstances of Australia and other Dominions, inter-relating them in the best interests of the Empire as a whole, that our representative has been sent Home. Nothing can be clearer than the fact that a member of this Commonwealth Government was the first to make the suggestion on this side of the world for the holding of this Conference.
– That is not so.
– That is absolutely so. Though it is true Mr. Asquith had proposed it at Glasgow, the speech had not been cabled to Australia when the Honorable Joseph Cook made the first direct suggestion that a Conference should be called. No member of the late Government even referred to this matter until after the Canadian Government-
– That is not so.
– I have been shown the dates of the newspaper extracts, some of which were quoted in the House some weeks ago.
– The Prime Minister is misinformed.
– However, that is a side issue ; and, even if I am wrong, it has nothing to do with the question.
– Then why introduce it?
– Because of my confidence that I am right ; though I do not intend to be led into an argument. I have been shown newspaper extracts, with dates and extracts indicating that the suggestion came from my honorable colleague. The Minister of Defence has already, several times, informed the House that he proposes at an early date to formulate the policy of the Government in regard to both naval and military defence. We shall shortly have the Defence Bill, the Budget, and the advice of the Conference, which last may or may not modify the views the Government now hold. So far as we are acquainted with the business of the Conference, it is dealing with the great Imperial problem one part of which we have to assist in solving. But when that issue is introduced here in this fashion it must be perfectly clear to honorable members that it has no reality and no sincerity in the attitude of the Opposition- that there is not the least justification for blocking the business of the country-
– Blocking what?
– Blocking the business of the country by a discussion which can last only two hours, and in which speakers are limited to time as well as to the terms of a motion. It is useless to expect that, on a motion for the adjournment of the House, we can have any complete statement of the defence question by even one speaker, much less have it discussed by the whole House. The proposal is preposterous, and it is only one of many. There has been scarcely a day this session on which this or some similar motion has not been proposed. Honorable members may not know what the naval and military policy of the Government is ; but they certainly do know what the policy of the Opposition is. It is a policy of deliberate obstruction and delay - a wicked waste of public time.
– I rise to a point of order. I think that the motion before the House is to discuss, a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the action of the Government in connexion with the Defence Conference. I submit that the remarks of the Prime Minister in reference to a “wicked waste of public time” are not relevant, and ought not to be permitted.
– The remarks of the Prime Minister, so far as I follow them - and I have followed them very carefully - are an endeavour to show that this is not a matter of urgent public business ; but the words “ a wicked waste of public time” should not be used, if any honorable member objects, because no honorable member should be charged with improper conduct in the House. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the charge as to a “ wicked waste of public time.”
– I am now asked to withdraw a, statement to the effect that this motion is a wicked waste of public time, because this is a time when such a statement is not relevant ; and I withdraw it. The objection taken is strictly technical - that if there is a waste of time this is not the time to say so. I invite honorable members on this side to assist the Government by leaving upon honorable members opposite the entire responsibility of occupying the time of Parliament fruitlessly in a pretence of furthering this question. We have a long programme of business already on the paper, and other very large items associated with the Budget, the Defence scheme, and the Imperial Conference, have yet to be tabled. There are more measures already drafted ; but if, night after night, motions of this character are submitted, it will be perfectly impossible to deal e%’en with a fraction of the business we ought to transact before we separate. I invite honorable members to leave the whole and sole responsibility for what must be a fruitless debate - on a subject on which the fullest and clearest answers have been given - on the shoulders of those who are deliberately endeavouring to make this session profitlessto the people of this country.
.- The Prime Minister has certainly not thrown oil on the troubled waters. I am sorry to hear such a speech from him at this stage. I should like to know what urgent business the Government have to lay before us; because I do not see any on the business paper. I came from Sydney to deal with” the question of the Northern Territory - otherwise I should not be here to-day. .The Prime Minister is, I think, altogether wrong in the attitude he takes up. Personally, I knew nothing about the intention to move the adjournment of the House; but I may say that I asked several questions of the Minister of Defence last Friday in regard to the appointment of Colonel Foxton, and that the replies I received were not satisfactory - were not definite replies at all. I think that the reason honorable members are cautious is that the combination on the Ministerial side has two distinct defence policies. I did not rise for the purpose of saying anything in heat, but merely to state why I think this motion was moved. After the last reply I received from the Minister of Defence on Friday, I decided to submit a motion, but he came to me afterwards to ask for some details, and told me what he really meant by his answer, and then I abandoned my intention. I decided to wait until, a question on ihe notice-paper to-day was answered before I took any step.
– I asked the honorable gentleman what he meant, because I did not quite follow his question.
– I know that, and the honorable member told me on Friday what he meant by his reply to my question. I was waiting until a question on to-day’s notice-paper was answered before I took any step to get definite information. But, in the very peculiar circumstances in which we find ourselves, with a combination which has two distinct policies regarding defence, it is quite time that we had a concentrated policy from the Government as a whole. Of course, we cannot know what instructions were given to the honorable member for Brisbane. I have agreed all along that a conference should be held, and when I read that in Canada the holding of a Conference had been recommended by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the idea was approved by myself and others to whom I spoke. That is a preliminary step to arriving at a definite decision. But the Government should acquaint our delegate with their views, and let him lay them before the Conference, and, when it makes a recommendation, let it be considered by this House.
– It was stated by the Age when he went away that he had his marching orders.
– We do not know anything about his marching orders, and it would be very interesting to see them. I do not want to elicit any information which should be kept secret, but I desire the rights of this House and the country to be protected, and therefore no decision should be come to by the Conference without an opportunity having been afforded to this Parliament to deal with the question in an open way. I did not rise to say very much about the motion. In my opinion, this should not be a party question. If ever there was a question in which the interests of Australiashould be free from party warfare, it is this one.
– Who is making it a party question ?
– I am not.
– The honorable member’s party is.
– Nonsense ! I consider that the Prime Minister was very unwise in trying to make it a party question. It should not be a party question.
– It has been made one by honorable members.
– So far as I am concerned, it shall not be a party question. I hope that we all have the security of Australia so much at heart that nothing will be said here to make it a party question. Whether the holding of the Conference was first suggested by the Minister of Defence or by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, or by any one else, is a very unimportant matter. But that there should be a Conference held, there can be no two opinions. I am sorry that the Minister of Defence in the Fisher Government did not go to the Conference. I should have felt great confidence in him. Another gentleman has gone, and the House should be made acquainted with everything which need not be kept secret. Certain information must be withheld, I presume. But all proper information should be given to the country, especially in view of the fact that telegrams are coming out from British Ministers, our own representative, and others, as to what their individual opinion is. If the Ministry will do what I consider is the right thing, they will not allow any definite decision to be come to as the result of the Conference until the matter has first been considered by this House. I desire to say a few words about the charge of wasting time. After what has taken place here, the Ministry cannot expect to have the support of the whole House. The Opposition, as well as the Government and their supporters, have their rights. So far as I know, no time has been wasted. Only one motion of censure has been discussed, and the debate was one of the shortest on record.
– What ! There have been four motions.
– No. The present motion is not a motion of censure. Honorable members who make an accusation such as the Prime Minister did just now should not forget how many days, weeks, and almost months were wasted by the late Opposition. I simply desire to calmly ask the Government to take no definite step until the Parliament has had an opportunity to express its view regarding defence. The Prime Minister knows, as well as I know - I was with him at the time - what the views of British Ministers are. Until we receive a recommendation from the Conference, let nothing definite be settled, so far as pledging this country is concerned. After that the House should deal with the matter in the ordinary way as a non-party question.
– It is a serious matter that a delegate who has been sent Home to attend one of the most important Conferences ever held in the Empire should voice opinions which are not held by the people or the Government of this country. He is doing that freely. We have a right to be made acquainted, not with the details of the military and naval scheme of the Government - that has not been asked for by the mover of this motion - but with what the delegate has been instructed to do. It is not a question of what the representative of the British Government proposes to do, we desire to know whether it is not possible to induce that Government to fall into linewith the views of our Government, which, I hope, will represent the public opinion of this country. That is why we are anxious to know what our delegate is to propose. We do not wish to know all that may transpire at the Conference, but we have a right, I submit, to hear what views he intends to put forward. Had my late colleague been sent in his place, honorable members on each side of this House would have been told exactly what he intended to advocate. Why should we not know what the representative of the present Government is going to advocate? Of course, he cannot bind the House. I do not suppose for a. moment that, although the Conference is to be held in secret, its recommendations will be considered to be binding upon ourselves. It is very desirable that we should know whether the views to be promulgated bv our delegate meet with the approval of a majority of this House. _ I think it was the duty of the Prime Minister some time ago to make a plain statement as to the general lines on which the delegate would proceed. Surely the latter is not going to take a seat at the Conference, hear the views of every other delegate, and then, make up his mind) on behalf of the Government as to what should be done? Surely our delegate, on the other hand, is not going to simply cable that such and such a thing has transpired, and ask, “ Am I to vote for or against it ?” It is absurd for the Prime Minister to talk about the wasting of time. It is only recently that the Government wasted three weeks of our time. It is only a few weeks since they went throughout the Commonwealth, stating that there was no question before the public of such paramount importance as the defence question. In fact, s3 impressed were they with the urgency of it that they were prepared to vote millions of pounds which they had not to give. But the matter is not of importance now. I suppose it is not of importance, because they have no defence scheme at the present time. It is on that ground I fear that they may be ready to take whatever the Conference may thrust upon them, whether it meets with our approval or not. I object to the country being committed to something which I know nothing about. I desire to know what we are supposed to be willing to yield, and what we are supposed to be prepared to accept. Whatever the Prime Minister may say; I wish to assure honorable members that it is of very little consequence who initiated the Conference, but certainly the Fisher Government took action before Canada had expressed an opinion on the subject.
– Quite wrong.
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that I am right. We have been told that the Honorary Minister has his officers with him, and that they are possessed of naval and military knowledge. Of course, they are, but they cannot lay down our policy. They were prepared to loyally carry out the policy of the Fisher Government, and would, doubtless, loyally carry out the policy of this Government, if they knew what it is. If they do know what it is, the House and the country should also know.
– The country will know at the proper time.
– The country should know now. It will be too late, after the Honorary Minister has given effect to some of the views which he holds privately, and has expressed publicly, and with which three-fourths of the members of the House are not in accord. The Prime Minister excused himself for not stating the policy of the Government by saying that a formal adjournment discussion does not give sufficient time for the statement of a naval and military scheme. It is not that for which we ask. All we ask is whether the Honorary Minister has been instructed on certain definite lines. Had Senator Pearce been- sent Home, he would have been able to tell the Conference that he believed that his Government was voicing the opinions of the majority of the people of Australia in declaring in favour of compulsory training.
– Is this Government in favour of compulsory training?
– That is what I should like to know. There was no doubt as to the views of the last Government. Its representative would have told the Conference that Ministers were in favour of compulsory military training, and he would have done his best to get the Conference to indorse those views. He would have been instructed to say that the Government and the country were not in favour of giving a Dreadnought, because that was not considered the best way to help the Empire.
– Then, the opinion of the country would have been misrepresented.
– I have seen attempts made in various States to determine the opinion of the. country on this question. They show that only an insignificant minority favours the offering of a Dreadnought. In South Australia the honorable member could not get a dozen persons to attend a public meeting to support the offer of a Dreadnought. We have the right to know whether the Honorary Minister has been instructed to offer a Dreadnought. Ministers were in favour of offering a Dreadnought, but shifted their ground when they discovered that such action would be unpopular. What do they now propose to do? To ask the British Government what it will accept?
– Does not the honorable member think that the speech of the Premier of New Zealand will educate the people ? «
– I am concerned, not with what is proposed on behalf ot New Zealand, but with what is proposed on behalf of Australia. I should like Sir Joseph Ward to fall into line with us. I would be willing that our Honorary Minister should fall into line with Sir Joseph Ward, if the latter’s proposals were, in the opinion of this Parliament, those best calculated to assist the Empire.
– The honorable member is willing that the Empire shall follow us !
– I wish Australia to do everything in its power to help the Empire. Had the Fisher Government continued in power, its representative would have declared the opinions of Ministers ; but can the Ministers who now sit on the Treasury bench say what they are in favour of? What instructions have they given to the Honorary Minister? Mr. Bruce Smith. - The honorable member seems to forget that the Conference is meeting to discuss, not offers of Dreadnoughts, but the future defence of the British Empire.
– It will discuss whether Australia should build a navy of its own, or offer a Dreadnought, or increase its naval contribution. Has the Honorary Minister been instructed to say that we are willing to largely increase the naval subsidy and give up building destroyers, or will he say that we shall continue to present Dreadnoughts whenever they are demanded by the British Government? Has he been told to advocate the construction of naval bases in Australia?
– He has not been authorized to illegally order more war vessels.
– It is apparent that honorable members opposite are as much in the dark as are those on this side as to the instructions given to the Honorary Minister.
– The honorable member for Parkes was very much agitated on the question the other day?
– As the honorable member’s time is limited, it is improper and unfair that interjections should be made.
– Honorable members opposite are as much in the dark in this matter as I am, and the views of the two parties to the Fusion are absolutelydivergent. I am prepared to sit here as long as may be necessary to transact the business of the country, but I have been asked to sit down, and have sat down, because the Government were not prepared to proceed with business. There- are now on the noticepaper measures which are of no consequence in comparison with the defence question. First, we have the Bureau of Agriculture Bill, a mere placard.
– Yet we have been told that nothing is being offered to the farmer.
– The farmer is not going to get anything. This is only a placard.
– The honorable member may refer to the business on the noticepaper only incidentally; he may not discuss it.
– The next item is the Bills of Exchange Bill, and following it is the Norfolk Island Bill. That is of small importance compared with defence. I am prepared to stay here after midnight to get rid of this business, and clear the way for matters of greater importance; but the Prime Minister wishes to close Parliament for a week or a fortnight - I do not know which.
– Why not say a month ?
– It would suit the Government to have Parliament closed for a month, because it is not prepared with a defence scheme. Ministers wish to please all sections of their supporters, and know that they cannot do so in this matter. But while they are desirous that time shall be wasted, they accuse those on this side of pursuing obstructive tactics. There can be no question as to the urgency of the matter brought forward for discussion by the honorable member for West Sydney, and I am surprised that the Prime Minister has refused to give the information asked for.
.- I had no intention to take part in the debate until I heard the Prime Minister, in almost .his opening sentence, accuse the honorable member for West Sydney of wasting the time of the House.
– That statement was withdrawn, and the honorable member should not refer to it.
– I would point out to you, sir, that that statement was made at the outset of the Prime Minister’s speech, and was not withdrawn. It was the subsequent statement, that there had been- a wicked waste of public time on the part of the Opposition, that was withdrawn, and the withdrawal was practically worse than the statement complained of. The honorable member for West Sydney wishes to know what instructions were given by the Government to the honorable member for Brisbane as the representative of the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conference. We are now told that the honorable gentleman is merely a delegate to a consultative body, and that it would not be right, therefore, to give the House the instructions that have been furnished to him. I do not cavil at that statement, but I would remind the House that there is already on the businesspaper a notice of motion by the Minister, of Defence that he have leave to intro-. duce a Bill for an Act relating to naval and military defence. If the Government are prepared at once to introduce that Bill they must know what their defence policy ls to be, irrespective of what may be the decision of the Conference.
– The Bill is merely for an Act to “relate” to naval and military defence.
– It may not cover the whole question of the defence of Australia, but I take it that it will have something to do with the defence policy of the Government. In the circumstances, the Government might at least place before the House a general outline of their policy, and reserve any statement as to matters that must be kept secret. I do not think that the honorable member for West Sydney, or any other honorable member, desires the publication of confidential details. What I take exception to, however, is the statement by the Prime Minister that this motion is deliberately designed to waste public time. It is not the first time that the honorable gentleman has made such an assertion, and I now accuse him and the Government generally of wasting the time of the House. It is idle for the Prime Minister to say that the Opposition are seeking to waste time, since, unless the Go vernment desire it, we cannot waste a moment. They have power to put in force standing orders for the conduct of business which the Prime Minister, as the head of a former Government, succeeded in passing.
– With the support of the Labour party.
– That is so.
– Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, for the honorable member - the Chairman of Committees - to accuse the Government of deliberately wasting the time of this Chamber? A statement by the Prime Minister that honorable members opposite were wasting the time of the House has had to be withdrawn, and surely the Chairman of Committees is not entitled to make this charge.
– He is entitled to be addressed as the honorable member for Kennedy when he is on the floor of the House.
– Order !
– He is the Chairman of Committees. I ask that the statement be withdrawn.
– A statement made by the Prime Minister that there was a wicked waste of public time by a party in- this House was withdrawn, at the request of the honorable member for West Sydney. The statement that there is a deliberate waste of time is, in my opinion, just as offensive, and I ask the honorable member for Kennedy to withdraw it. No party in this House should be accused of deliberately wasting the time of the Chamber.
– Not by the Chairman of Committees.
– At your request, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement. At the outset of his speech the Prime Minister distinctly stated - and that statement has not been withdrawn - that the honorable member for West Sydney was wasting the time of the House. I thought that I had a right to reply to that assertion ; but if I have not I am, of course, out of order.
– The honorable member may reply to anything that has been said, but not to a statement that has been withdrawn.
– That is exactly what I was endeavouring to do, sir. I do net think the Prime Minister will contradict mv statement that at the outset of his speech-
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the honorable member be required to withdraw the statement to which I took exception.
– I did withdraw it.
– The honorable member for Kennedy, in response to my request, distinctly and unreservedly withdrew the statement, and he is now proceeding to discuss the speech made by the Prime Minister.
– For the benefit of the Minister of Defence, I will humbly withdraw the statement, and even apologize to the honorable gentleman who is such an orderly member of this House.
– The most disorderly element in it.
– I never knew a Chairman of Committees to do this before.
– This is now a personal matter, and I ask, sir, that this portion of my speech be regarded as a personal explanation.
– It is about time.
– I think so, more especially when the reference to my position as ‘Chairman of Committees is made by a Minister of the Crown. I have repeatedly said in this House - and I repeat the statement as emphatically as I can - that if my constituency is to be disfranchised by reason of my holding office as Chairman of Committees, I shall resign that position. If the Minister of Defence is so anxious to remove me from the office of Chairman of Committees, he has a majority behind him ; and as soon as a majority of the House say that because I am Chairman of Committees I am npt to be permitted to take part in debates in the House, I shall immediately resign my office.
– The Minister of Defence did not suggest that.
– The Minister of Defence has deliberately referred to me as the Chairman of ‘Committees with the intention of insulting me. I take his remark as a personal insult. It is not the first time that I have been so treated by the honorable member.
– I am sure that honorable members feel that no honorable member is justified in offering another honorable member what he considers an insult j and if the honorable member for Kennedy considers that the Minister of Defence insulted him by referring to the very distinguished office that he so worthily holds, the Minister will, I am certain, withdraw the remark. It is well that the standing order, which is explicit on the point that honorable members, whenaddressing the Chair, shall refer to their fellow members by the name of the constituency which they represent, should always be observed. If that is done, a great deal of trouble will be avoided. Do I understand that the honorable member for Kennedy considers that the Minister of Defence made a remark which was insulting to him?
– I do not ask for any withdrawal.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I ask the honorable member for Kennedy to proceed now with the discussion of the question before the Chair..
– I wish it to be understood, sir, that I did not ask that the statement should be withdrawn. I have placed my views fairly and honestly before the House.
– The statement has been withdrawn.
– Let us return to the Dreadnought question.
– I have nothing to say about it. At the outset of my speech I stated that I should not have taken part in the debate, but for the attempt of the Prime Minister to show that honorable members on this side of the House were wasting time by submitting motions similar to that now before us. I thought that I had a right to reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, and that was what r was doing when the Minister of Defence took exception to my statement.
– The honorable member charged the Government with deliberately wasting the time of the House.
– Order !
– If there be any waste of time the Government is responsible for it.
– That is not what the honorable member said.
– I have withdrawn the statement to which the honorable member objected, and if it will please him will apologize to the honorable member for having made it. If there has been any waste of time - and I maintain that there has been none - the Government themselves are to blame, for they have power at any moment to put an end! to the debate, if they think it has developed into obstruction.
– Does the honorable member suggest the use of those powers ?
– I suggest nothing ; but the Government have the right to exercise them. It is therefore idle for the Prime Minister to say that we are wasting the time of the House. Honorable members came to-day prepared to discuss a certain matter. We were not told that it would not be discussed, and now we find that five or six unimportant Bills have been placed in front of it. If that does not have the effect of wasting time, I do not know what will. I have no objection to the Government keeping back certain information in this matter. No doubt they are in an awkward position, but the Prime Minister has twice already had to apologize for, and take to task the honorable member for Brisbane, whom the Government have sent as their representative to the Imperial Conference, on account of the statements which he has made. The Government might, consequently, have told us whether the Honorary Minister was going to advocate his personal opinions or those of the Government at the Conference. The Prime Minister could also have told us, without any breach of confidence or of secrecy, whether the Government were still in favour of universal training, which he has advocated so eloquently on different platforms throughout Australia from time to time. Another little question which I have to put is this : How was it that when the Minister of Defence was quite prepared to rise and reply to the honorable member for West Sydney, he was compelled, by a little indication from the Prime Minister, to say, “ Yes, Mr. Deakin, I will retire and allow you to reply “ ?
.- With regard to an interjection which greeted me on rising, I may say that I am under no orders from anybody, and I rise when I feel so disposed. No orders are issued to anybody on this side, and even if they were, they could in no way apply to me. I regret that the business set down upon the notice-paper has been delayed by this motion ; because the discussion which has taken place so far could very well have been deferred until the Defence Bill, which is set down for to-day, was before the House. I am just as anxious as are honorable members opposite that this House shall not be committed to a naval policy by any representative who has gone to a Conference in London, or by any one else, until a Defence policy has been laid by the Government before the House, and approved of. That is an attitude which I have taken up all along. I rise now merely to suggest that it would be a great convenience to honorable members on this side if, on each day, before the House rose, honorable members opposite would notify what subject they proposed to discuss on a motion for adjournment on the following day. If that were done, honorable members on this side would be able to come prepared to deal with subjects which otherwise would be sprung upon them without notice. If motions for adjournment are to become part of the daily programme of the Opposition, it is only fair that honorable members should let us know what particular excuse for delaying public business they propose to bring forward on each succeeding day.
.- When I he honorable member for Lang happened to sit upon this side of the House, he was one of the greatest offenders . in moving motions for the adjournment. His utterance to-day is .really like Satan reproving sin, for, while I will not say he used to be the worst offender, he has certainly done more than his share of direct opposition, if that can be called wasting time. Honorable members on this side ought not to lake so seriously the reprimands which they get from the Prime Minister. That honorable gentleman has. during the last nine years, been so used to severely reprimanding the honorable member for Parramatta, who is now Minister of Defence, for wasting time, that it has become a sort of hallucination with him. He still thinks that honorable member is on this side of the Chamber. I wish to tell the honorable member for Parramatta that if any one ought to set an example to the House - I may, in my innocence, be. wrong - I think it is the members on the Treasury bench ; but I venture to say that no honorable member is more offensive or more responsible for creating ill-feeling in the House than he is himself. If he wants the business of the House to proceed, I ask him, as a Minister of the Crown, to adopt a dignified attitude on the Treasury bench, and not to interject so frequently.
– No Minister who ever sat here has been so offensively assailed as I have been since I took this position.
– The Minister is continually hurling nastly innuendoes’ in a sort of undertone from that side at members upon this side, and many times during the session I have felt impelled to rise and protest against his constant unseemly conduct upon the Treasury bench. Something has been said about wasting time; but surely we have not so soon forgotten the attitude of- certain honorable members who now sit opposite, but who then sat here, on that memorable occasion when we met on a Tuesday, and, with one break of seven hours, sat continuously-
– I rise to order. The honorable member has now been on bis feet for ten minutes, and has not once touched the question before the Chair. I submit that he should discuss it.
– I ask the honorable member for Grey to address himself to the question of Defence which has been submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney.
– I was addressing myself to certain other speeches which have been delivered on this motion. We have not yet come to such a pass that I must ask the Minister of Defence how I am to speak. I was referring to a charge of wasting time, and was saying that we had not forgotten what occurred in this Chamber some years ago. I venture to say that the Prime Minister has not forgotten the week which he spent continuously in this Chamber when we were trying to get certain standing orders passed.
– In order to prevent waste of time.
– Exactly. What has happened to-day? We on the Opposition side of the Chamber believe that there is a possibility of Colonel Foxton committing this country to a scheme of defence which is not popular. We have from time to time seen in the newspapers references to his views, which appear to be entirely different from those held by the majority of the members of this House. Indeed, they are different from those which the Prime Minister has repeatedly expressed. There is a possibility of our being committed, through Colonel Foxton, to a policy which we do not approve. There have been previous occasions when this Parliament has been committed to a policy by delegates who went to England. I remember that some years ago, in regard to immigration, a policy was propounded that was acceptable to this House and to the country, but that policy was defeated because a delegate who was sent to England practically committed us in another direction. I also remember the scene which occurred, and in which I figured, in connexion with the increase of the salary of the Governor-General. A delegate from this country had committed Australia to an increase of the salary by ^10,000 a year, and the Government had not the manliness to tell us what had been done. We are trying to guard against the recurrence of that kind of thing. Therefore, we wish to kno’w from the Government, not the whole of the details relating to their defence scheme, but whether Colonel Foxton has received instructions which are in accord with Australian sentiment.
– Whose views does he represent - those of the Prime Minister, or those of the Minister of Defence?
– That is a very pertinent question. We know from Colonel Foxton’s reported speeches that he holds views on Australian defence different from those of the majority of this House. There is a danger, therefore, that we may find ourselves committed-
– Nothing can commit the honorable member and me; we can use our. independent judgment.
– But probably the honorable member recollects an occasion when three or four Ministerial supporters had to recant their votes in reference to a certain matter. Surely it is not beyond the province and function of an Opposition to ascertain in a friendly way how far we are to be committed, if at all, to the utterances of Colonel Foxton at the Imperial Conference. Furthermore, I cannot conceive of the Prime Minister allowing Colonel Foxton to go away without giving him definite instructions as to the policy of the Government. It may be said that we in this House are not bound by anything he may do. But Colonel Foxton’ s views may have a very important bearing upon the final decisions of the Conference. The Imperial authorities, unless otherwise informed, will be inclined to be led by the pronouncements of the representative of Australia. Surely we should not be charged with wasting time when we try to put the Australian view, and to ascertain what the policy of the Government is. If my honorable friend the Minister of Defence had been Leader of the Opposition at this time, he would have been on his feet, not once, but fifty times, endeavouring to extract a statement from the Government. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to assume righteous indignation, but the House has not forgotten the time which the Minister of Defence has occupied in the past in fulfilling tasks of this description. Very often he was completely justified in what he did. I had not the slightest intention to speak on this subject to-day, until I heard the speech of the Prime Minister. I venture to suggest, whether the honorable gentleman chooses to take notice of my remark or not, that he will not expedite business by such an exhibition of temper as we had this afternoon. Honorable members desire to get on with the business.
– I am unable to see how three motions for the adjournment on successive days can help on the business of the country.
– The honorable gentleman brought forward many more than three motions of this kind when he was Leader of the Opposition. The defence issue ought to be treated without any party bias. No party tie will bind me down with regard to it. God forbid that the defence policy of this country should be laid down on party lines alone !
– The Government made it a party issue by not sending Home Senator Pearce.
– I shall not deal with that point, or Ministerial supporters might say that the views I express are dictated by the consideration that a member of my party was not sent Home. 1 maintain that the question of defence ought to be above and beyond party strife. We have a very large undertaking before us. We have a grand country to defend. Every honorable member should devote his best energies to the settlement of the matter once and for all.
.- The honorable member for Grey commenced his few remarks with some references to hallucinations. It seems tome that the party to which the honorable member belongs have been under the hallucination for some years past that they have only to nod to control the procedure of this House. Ap parently they are beginning to find that under the present Government they no longer exercise that power, and it is that which hasgiven rise to all this disorder.
– Had we only to nod in the past?
– They feel that they can- . not now merely by holding up a finger make any pretence of controlling the affairs of the country, and I can therefore well understand that day after day, and I suppose we shall have a repetition of the same thing week after week, honorable members opposite should delay the business of the country by motions of this kind. The honorable member for Grey said that he had no quarrel with the appointment of Colonel Foxton.
– Who is Colonel Foxton?
– I should like to say this in regard to him. His appointment has now been gazetted, and we know the work he has to do in London.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Wentworth is referring to some gentleman as “Colonel Foxton.” I should like to know whether the “reference is to a member of this House. If so, the gentleman should be referred to by the name of his constituency. In any case, this gentleman is not known in England as “Colonel Foxton” but as “Mr. Foxton.”
– The name of Colonel Foxton has been so frequently used in this debate that I thought every one was well acquainted with the office which the honorable gentleman occupies. I understand that he is a representative of the Government, and perhaps seeing that he is now out of Australia it may be more convenient to refer to him by his name than by the name of his constituency. I feel sure, however, that if the honorable member for Riverina finds it inconvenient that the honorable gentleman spoken of should be referred to as “ Colonel Foxton,” the honorable member for Wentworth will be willing to refer to him by the name of his constituency, or as a member of the Ministry.
– I am not surprised that the honorable member for Riverina should take advantage of every reasonable opportunitv to show his knowledge of the Standing Orders. I am referring to the honor able member for Brisbane, who is the representative of the Government at the Imperial Defence Conference. When interrupted I was about to say that he is called upon to perform a very difficult duty in London, and in the circumstances should be accorded the loyal assistance of his brother parliamentarians in Australia that he may be able to perform the duties with which he is intrusted to the best advantage of his own country.
– Nobody could be less qualified.
– The qualifications of the gentleman referred to are not now before us. What we are all anxious about is that his mission in endeavouring to find out the views of other sections of the Empire on the great question of Imperial Defence should not be interfered with by any squabbling as to his fitness to hold the position he has been called on to fill.
– What is his mission?
– The honorable member for Grey and honorable members opposite generally would no doubt be as peaceful as lambs if they only knew exactly that the Commonwealth of Australia was going to consider her defence apart altogether from the common defence of the Empire. They say that defence should not be a party question, but I ask who amongst members of this House have done all they could to make it a party question? Who was it that put forward as a plank of their platform years ago a separate Australian Navy under purely Australian control ? Was it not honorable members opposite ?
– Does the honorable member object to that ?
– Just as over one hundred years ago, when England was faced with one of the greatest crises in her history, an Irish statesman suggested that all the assistance given by Ireland to the Mother Country should be devoted purely and solely to the defence of Irish coasts, so honorable members opposite, through their leagues in -the country, and through their political platform, now want to determine beforehand what anti-Imperial views shall be expressed at the Imperial Conference. I say that the honorable member for Brisbane will be able to express the true sentiments of the Australian people.
– He has no idea of them.
– He will be able to say that he is present at the Imperial Conference to learn, and not to dictate, and to say that Australia is willing to play her part as a loyal member of the great confederation of people whose blood we bear, whose aspirations we share, and whose past we glory in.
.- If I took a view similar to that expressed by the honorable member for Wentworth, I should consider the motion for adjournment more important than it really is. The honorable member takes the representative of the Government at the Imperial Defence Conference very seriously. He has said that Colonel Foxton is armed with certain powers to take effective action on behalf of Australia.
– I said he was there to learn and not to dictate.
– The honorable member certainly said that towards the close of his remarks, but in the earlier part of his speech he said that Colonel Foxton has been sent to the Conference on most important business. I do not hold that view at all. If I thought he was armed with such responsibility as the honorable member for Wentworth suggests, I should hold that not only would the motion for the adjournment of the House be justified, but even a more serious motion. I think that my suggestion by way of interjection, that Colonel Foxton is attending the Conference merely as a call-bird expresses the true position. I take it for granted that he will at the Conference merely voice the opinions of the Ministry of the day.
– Who said so?
– I believe that he left our shores with orders as to what he should say at the Conference. We are aware that, as is usual in such cases, the proceedings of the Imperial Defence Conference are to be conducted in camera. I believe that the decisions of the Conference will largely be kept secret, and that very few of the details of its proceedings will filter out to Australia. I take the view that Colonel Foxton is attending the Conference merely in a consultative capacity. He is there to convey the message given to him by the Ministry, and to bring back from the
Conference a message in reply to the Ministry. I agree that there should be no room for party feeling in the discussion of defence questions, but that every opportunity for education on such questions should be availed of. When honorable members talk of the waste of time involved in this motion, I say that I believe more time would be wasted in discussing the acquisition of the Northern Territory.
-Or the acceptance of Norfolk Island. The Government will not contradict the honorable member for Dalley.
– The public are concerned in this matter, and as a representative of the public I think I have a right to demand that we should be given early information of what is proposed to be done. I could not take the view taken by the honorable member for Wentworth, even though Senator Pearce or the Minister of Defence had gone to the Conference. The honorable member for Grey asked whether we were committed to anything said or done by Colonel Foxton. I find it difficult to understand how any honorable member should ask so childish a question. Every honorable member of this House is answerable to the electors of this country, and he should know that he is not in any way committed to views given expression to by Colonel Foxton at the other end of the world. As I view the matter, he is only the man at the other end of the telephone. At the Imperial Defence Conference in London, Colonel Foxton is the representative of Australia for the time being, and is there to convey to the best of his ability the instructions given him by the Prime Minister. I have read reports of interviews with him from England, and I have thought that he should not hare allowed himself to be interviewed by the press, and that he should not have expressed publicly certain views on the subject of defence. I shall reserve to myself the right to deal with the results of the deliberations of the Conference when they are submitted to this House. The Prime Minister, I presume, in order to avoid giving any party aspect to this question, has handed in a memorandum which states that, according to the Argus of 22nd March, Mr. Joseph Cook, the Minister of Defence, said -
I think there should be an instant response from the oversea Dominions. I think that Mr. Fisher should offer a Dreadnought, and should ask for a Naval conference. I think there should be a common consultation on defence matters to meet a common danger.
I shall stop at that.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Acts - Naval Forces -
Regulations Nos. 106, 109 Amended (Prosional) - Statutory Rules1909, No.90.
Financial and Allowance Regulations - No. 99 Added (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 91.
Public Service Act - Temporary Employes - Return for year 1908-9 - Regulation No. 171 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 89.
Mr. ROBERTS called the attention of the Postmaster-General to the question of money due to employes in the Postal Department for time worked by them on gazetted holidays, and to the fact that the amount due is steadily increasing; and asked him, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Government to pay the money due, and, if so, when?
– The Commonwealth Public ServiceCommissioner has furnished the following information : -
Payment is not made for holidays worked, the law providing that time in lieu is to be given as compensation.
Every effort is made to grant time in lieu by furnishing relief to officers who, by the exigencies of public business, have been called upon to perform duty on gazetted holidays.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the very large industrial population which has rapidly gathered at Kangiara mines, will he see that facilities are afforded at the local post-office for the issue of money orders and postal notes ?
– Yes; and I am advised that action is being taken in the matter.
Officers’ Retiring Age - Government Scheme
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether Parliament will be consulted before the Commonwealth is finally committed to any defence scheme.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The land defence scheme of the Ministry will be submitted shortly with the Defence Bill, and the Naval Defence “scheme soon after the recommendations of the Consultative Conference now proceeding in London have been received. In neither case can the Commonwealth be finally committed before Parliament is consulted.
– 1 move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members who take an interest in agricultural matters realize that every civilized nation regards it as part of its system of government to have a certain branch of administration devoted to the interests of agriculturists, pastoralists, and others engaged in raising products from the soil. This principle is so widely recognised that in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, there are very highly organized and complete Agricultural Departments. It is realized that there is placed on Governments the duty to do all that is possible to conserve natural resources, and make the lands still more productive - in fact, 10 see that there is applied to the cultivation of the soil and the rearing of animals and plants, the highest skill and knowledge. As science progresses, and inventions are introduced in industries, the more advantageous is it found to apply the latest ideas to agriculture. The importance of agriculture has now assumed an international aspect.
There has been established a permanent International Agricultural Institute, in pursuance of an agreement made at a Conference held in 1905 at the suggestion of the King of Italy. That Conference was attended by the representatives of about forty countries. The Commonwealth has joined the Institute, and Mr. Taverner. the Agent-General for Victoria, attended as the representative of Australia at a recent meeting, and reported - the Institute, if properly launched and handled, will produce results which will add to the material interests of the producers of Australia……..
Article No. 9 of the Convention prescribes that the Institute’s action shall be limited to international questions, and defines the functions of the Institute, which are, briefly -
It is pointed out that the advantages likely to be derived from the establishment of the Institute appear to be -
Furnishing agriculturists with prompt and reliable information on matters of interest concerning various markets.
Collection of such information over enlarged area and on uniform lines.
Protection of interests common to agriculture.
Improvement of methods of production and regulation of production.
Suggestions to Governments in the general interest of agriculture, forming basis of International agreements.
International co-operation of agriculturists to secure better terms of insurance against loss by hail, fire, &c., also to deal with adulteration.
Ready source of information for agricultural departments, societies, students, and others, respecting comparative agricultural conditions.
It is now recognised that though nations, as organized communities, must exercise their national powers for the benefit of the producers in their respective areas, yet agriculture has its international aspects. The importance of the matter has been further accentuated by the fact that recently in the United States, ex-President Roosevelt thought it necessary to call a Conference of State Governors and experts to consider the question of the natural resources of the country and their conservation. It was pointed out then that the timber resources of the United States were within a certain limited time liable to be completely exhausted. Other resources of import ance were also dealt with. The Conference sat for some time. It was thought advisable to extend its scope, and invite the Dominion of Canada and the Republic of Mexico to send representatives. Since then, the idea has been further extended; and it is proposed to invite the nations of the world to consider the question of the preservation of the natural resources of all countries. It has been urged, in this connexion, that the people of the whole world are interested in the natural resources of the whole world, benefited by their “conservation, and injured by their destruction ; that the people of every country are interested in the supply of food, and of material for manufacture in every other country, not only because these are interchangeable through processes of trade, but because a knowledge of the total supply is necessary to the intelligent treatment of each nation’s share in the supply. This Conference, it is proposed to hold at the Hague, and the Commonwealth has been invited to send a representative.
– Do the Government propose to send a delegate ?
– It has been decided that the Commonwealth shall be represented at the Conference. The question of the natural resources of the various countries of the worldis thus attracting a great deal of attention and is a matter of pressing importance to us. I f the question of timber alone be taken, it will be seen that there is a very important problem to be dealt with. In various parts of Australia timber has been ruthlessly destroyed, and there has been no proper system of forest conservation. Our timber supplies are of interest not merely to one State but to the nation as a whole. This is a question to which the States, who control the timber areas, will have to give very close attention. This House has already affirmed that it is advisable to have a Bureau of Agriculture. The question was first raised here by the honorable member for Bendigo, in a very able speech. It was supported by the exhonorable member for Indi, and very strong opinions were expressed in the debate, which started on the 28th June, 1901. The question was revived in 1904, and on the 3rd November of that year the following resolution was come to -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order to promote the primary industries of Australia, a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be established at an early date.
The motion was carried. All parties have agreed as to the advisability of instituting a national Bureau of Agriculture. That was the opinion which was expressed by the Reid- McLean Government ; it was the” view which was stronglyheld by the second Deakin Administration; and the late Prime Minister, when announcing his policy at Gympie on the 31st March, 1908, expressed the opinion that we wanted a Bill to establish an Agricultural Bureau for the investigation of various matters and the dissemination of information regarding them. Every party in the House has approved of the establishment of a National Bureau of Agriculture. It is important to primary producers that the national powers we possess under the Constitution should be exercised on their behalf. It is generally recognised that all parties in the House have shown an eagerness to assist the settlers to obtain the best possible results from the soil. The importance of the agricultural and pastoral industries may be gathered from a few figures which I will submit. It is estimated that during 1907 our agricultural products represented ^30,500,000; our pastoral products ^£50,660,000; dairy, poultry and bee farming) £15,584,000 j forestries ar.d fisheries, £4,826,000 ; or ,£101,570,000 out of a total production of ,£167,446,000. These figures alone will convey an idea of the magnitude of the interests we have to conserve. What Parliament is asked to do in establishing a Bureau of Agriculture is to take steps which will make this production even greater, preserve that which we are producing from injury by means of diseases or pests, and advance land settlement. According to the census returns, on the 31st March, 1901, there were 276,074 persons engaged in agriculture, horticulture, and viticulture; 111,802 persons engaged in pastoral pursuits, dairy farming, poultry farming, and bee farming; 11,121 persons engaged in forestries, and 6,595 persons engaged in fisheries, making a total of 405,592 persons. That represents only those employed in these industries. It does not give an idea of. the families, the townships, the minor industries, the shipping, and all other agencies depending for their existence upon them. Honorable members will see that when we seek to establish an Agricultural Bureau we are dealing with industries which give employment to a very large number of persons. It is a matter of pressing importance that we should proceed at the earliest possible moment to take such steps as we can under the Constitution to protect the interests of those who are engaged in primary production. It must be borne in mind that it is not proposed to supersede the State Departments of Agriculture, which, of course, have, and will continue to have, their own special functions to perform. It is proposed to establish a Department which will co-operate with the State Departments, working on its own national lines, but co-operating with the States so as to obtain the greatest benefit from the cooperation. In fact, the ideal of a Federation is that Federal and State agencies shall exercise their respective powers for one common end and aim - the good of the people. The general object of the Federal Bureau of Agriculture will be, not to duplicate the work which the States are doing, but to confine itself to such work as is essentially national and to leave the States still freer scope and greater opportunity to carry out their particular functions. The necessity for a National Department of Agriculture arises out of the fact that we have a Federal Constitution in which legislative powers are divided respectively between the central authority and the State authorities. If the general object of a Bureau of Agriculture be considered, and the way in which legislative powers are distributed between the Commonwealth and the States be observed, it will be seen how the necessity arises from the Constitution that the Commonwealth should exercise its legislative powers in this respect. The object of a Bureau of Agriculture, generally speaking, is to supply such information to those engaged in primary industries that they may obtain the best possible results. The functions of a Department of Agriculture are to supply knowledge of practical means whereby the most valuable products can be continuously produced with a minimum of labour and expense; to supply information as to the best possible markets; to make regulations for the preservation of high standards in products; to give details as to the’ nature of soils and their productivity ; to furnish reports as to weather conditions ; to investigate means for the preservation of stock against injurious diseases;, to devise methods to cope with pests and diseases in the vegetable kingdom ; to assist in . the introduction of new and valuable products suitable to Australian conditions; to cause experiments to be made; to assist in the organization of farmers’ institutions for the improvement of their industry j to publish information of a statistical nature regarding production in Australia, and generally to deal with matters of a national kind which may be of assistance to agriculturists and pastoralists. If honorable members will look at page 3 of the memorandum I have caused to be circulated in connexion with this subject, they will see a list of the activities of the State Departments. Generally speaking, the work of a Department of Agriculture may be divided into three sections, the administrative or regulative section, the section which embraces scientific research and investigation, and’ a third section controlling work of an educational nature. So far, our State Departments have confined their energies to matters regulating agricultural education, the giving of lectures by experts, the distribution of information, the establishment of stations for the purpose of practical scientific experiments, the distribution of plants and seeds, the improvement of markets, and the framing of regulations and the passing of Acts to prevent the spread of diseases in stock and plants. In appendix A of the memorandum, honorable members will find a complete analysis of the work of the State Departments. In some of the States the work is -more fully and completely done than in others.
– It is probably a good thing that they do not all work on precisely the same lines.
– Another probable reason is that they have distinct spheres of action and different needs. No doubt the want of funds has in some instances prevented the doing of work. as fully as could be desired.
– What funds has the Commonwealth for this purpose?
– I am not dealing now with that subject. The State Departments have done excellent work, with which it is not intended to interfere. But some of the powers as to legislation in this respect have now been transferred to Federal control. We have passed, and are administering, laws which in other countries, are administered by the Departments of Agriculture. The regulation of imports and exports in some respects, for instance, comes properly under the control of a Department of Agriculture because it affects primaryproduction. It is necessary to have Commonwealth supervision of imports and exports.
– What precaution is taken to prevent double banking? The State of New South Wales has adopted very drastic measures to compel the marking of exports. Have the State and the Commonwealth come to an agreement in the matter?
– I have it on the authority of both- State and Commonwealth officials that in the administration of the Commerce Act - 1 mention this by way of illustration - complete harmony prevails. The State officials are under Commonwealth supervision, and on the whole perform their duties satisfactorily. In our negotiations with the States we are able in these matters to arrive at a satisfactory working basis.
– Is that done by utilizing the services of the State officers?
– Yes. In Queensland the Commerce Act is, I understand, entirely administered by State officers. Mr. J. G. Turner, the senior inspector of fruit imports and exports for Victoria, says in his official report -
This is the second year during which exported products have been dealt with under the provisions of the Commerce Aci. It has, I am pleased to report, on the whole worked very satisfactorily and smoothly. The gloomy predictions regarding its detrimental effect on trade indulged in by some at the beginning have not been verified. Many of those who were prone to imagine that this Act would cripple trade now frankly admit that the honest trader has nothing to fear, and that under the beneficial influences of legislation such as this the export trade of Australia should reach the high mark of excellence.
– I do not agree with him.
– The honorable member’s information on this subject entitles his opinion to be heard with respect, but as to the necessity for the national control of exports I should like to point out that in the report of the Pastoralists’ Convention, which met on the 21st June last, it is stated that-
The question of the better supervision of the export of frozen meat was also dealt with, the feeling of the council being that, in the best interests of the pastoral industry of these States, the Government inspection should be as strict as possible, so as to prevent the exportation of any meat that would tend to damage the reputation of the frozen meat of Australia in the markets of the world.
The control of exports must of necessity be in the hands of the Commonwealth.
Absence of legislation or lax administration by any one State might affect injuriously the trade of Australia, and I have a report to the effect that the imperfect examination of certain shipments to South Africa seriously injured our meat export trade. The control of exports and imports will become an increasingly urgent matter as time goes on, and we must have expert Commonwealth officers to administer our Acts, or to assist in their administration. In the United States the Bureau of Meteorology is also managed by the Department of Agriculture, and the weather reports which are issued are not confined to city populations, but are made available to the farmers everywhere throughout the country. In Australia we are doing what we can to make the work of the present bureau valuable. Information is disseminated regarding the flooding of rivers - the system being fairly complete in Queensland -with a view to enabling pastoralists and farmers to save stock depastured on land liable to inundation.
– Is not that work attended to by the Meteorological Branch of the Department of Home Affairs?
– Yes, but I have simply been pointing out that in the United States of America all this work .is under the control of the Bureau of Agriculture, the experts in which are working hand in hand with those who are in touch with the agricultural population, and forecasts relating to frosts and storms are prepared and circulated amongst farmers, and are of the greatest possible value to them. In Australia something more might be done. Take, for instance, the value of the issue of rainfall records to those travelling with stock. We have not yet in Australia a proper system for the distribution of reports as to rainfalls at various points along stock routes, although such information would be of great value. It is supplied to some extent in New South Wales, but not fully in Queensland.
– The work is not being extended in New South Wales.
– It ought to be extended throughout Australia in order that those travelling with stock may have full information as to rainfalls along the routes they have to traverse. In Canada matters affecting quarantine -with respect to live stock and plants are likewise under the control of the Department of Agriculture. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power to deal with that subject, and the Government are now proposing to work in harmony with State officials in regard to Inter- State quarantine.
– That portion of the work done by a State is confined to its own territory ?
– I am referring to the quarantine, not of persons, but of plants, and live stock from over-sea, or passing between the States. The Commonwealth has taken over the administration of quarantine, so far as importations from abroad are concerned, and is trying to work ‘with the States to secure uniformity in regard to Interestate quarantine. The necessity of scientific assistance in connexion with the administration of the quarantine laws will be readily recognised.
– The Commonwealth has not taken over the power to deal with Inter-State quarantine matters.
– The Commonwealth is endeavouring to secure uniformity of InterState administration, so as to get rid of any evils that may exist.
– Is there an allocation of salaries as between the State and the Commonwealth?
– Services rendered on behalf of the Commonwealth by State officials are paid for by the Commonwealth. Another matter on which this Parliament has already legislated is that of the encouragement of agriculture by means of bounties. A sum of ,£339,000- has already been appropriated for the purpose of encouraging the cultivation of products new to Australia.
– What proportion of that amount has been paid away ?
– The payments made under that appropriation amounted to £2,213 in March last. This year the amount paid away in respect of bounties will be largely increased.
– But that is a very small amount, having regard to the total appropriation.
– It must be remembered that that appropriation applies to bounties payable over a period of fifteen years, and that in some cases four or five years must elapse before some of the industries which it is designed to establish will reach the producing stage. In connexion with the production of woollen tops, there will undoubtedly be a large demand from the honorable member’s own State for the bounty offered “ by the
Commonwealth. I would also remind honorable members that in the oversea mail contract into which we entered some time ago, conditions were imposed designed to assist the farmers and producers, and that expert advice was needed to guide the Department in framing such conditions. There is also a Commonwealth Department of Census and Statistics for the purpose of collecting and distributing information with regard to production, and that Department has proved one of the most valuable that we have. A wellorganized Federal Department of Statistics is in the nature of an intelligence bureau to the producing interests of Australia. It enables us to study our producing interests from a national stand-point, and to obtain an idea of their strength or weakness, as the case may be.
– Do the Government propose that all these branches shall be under the control of the Bureau of Agriculture ?
– No; I am simply pointing out that the Commonwealth has taken over and is adminstering a large number of those Departments, which, in other countries, are connected with the Department of Agriculture. Statistical work and the issue of bulletins are necessary in a Department of Agriculture. The Constitution provides for the exercise of a number of these national powers on behalf of the producers of Australia, and we have to ask ourselves, what should we be able to do by means of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture that would justify us in establishing such an institution. In the first place, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture must prove of the greatest possible value in co-ordinating the different work undertaken by the various State Departments. If by the report which we have circulated we have done no more than to so compare the different Departments of the States as to reveal their respective sources of strength and weakness, we shall have done something that will be of assistance to the States.
– Will this Bill enable the Government to do anything that they cannot do now ?
– Certainly it will. I have shown that a Federal Bureau will be of value in enabling the co-ordination of the work of the various State Departments deserving of national consideration, and it will also enable the undertaking from a Federal stand-point, of the in vestigation of all diseasesand pests that are likely to affect Australia as a whole. The need of the establishment of such a Department has been favorably commented upon in several quarters. The Honorable A. H. Barlow, when Acting-Premier of Queensland, on 17th September last, wrote as follows : -
I have received a long report from the Department of my colleague the Secretary for Agriculture, the last paragraph of which I append hereto, and in which I fully concur : - “The Minister desires that the Commonwealth Government be informed that if the Bureau is established, this Department, recognising that it will be for the common good, will be prepared in every way to fully co-operate in any work that lies within its sphere, in which this Department may be able to help.”
The Queensland Government therefore see good in the scheme, and are prepared to cooperate.
– If we proposed to interfere with them, we should get a snub at once.
– There is no proposition to interfere with the work properly within their sphere.
– This is only an enabling Bill.
– The Department cannot be modelled or developed unless distinct appropriations are put before Parliament, of which Parliament must approve.
– The Government cannot employ an officer until Parliament authorizes them to do so.
– The procedure, shortly, would be this : This Act would lay the foundation, just as was done by the United States and Canadian Acts ; the scheme would have to be more fully organized ; sums of money would be placed upon the Estimates, and then the House, by passing the Estimates, would express its approval of the work of the Department, which would grow exactly as it did in the United States, according to our needs as they arose. Appropriations will have to be made from timeto time to enable the Bureau to undertake such work as may be essential in the national interests.
– Will the work be in the Home Affairs or External Affairs Department ?
– In the Department of Home Affairs.
– This Bill is merely a placard.
– No. It lays down the lines upon which the work is to develop.
– Why is not the Minister of Home Affairs in charge of this Bill?
– The matter was in my charge when I was previously Minister of Home Affairs, and it has been left with me. Mr. Swinburne, who was Minister of Agriculture in the Government of Victoria, approved, in 1908, of the lines which have been suggested. His opinion, reported in a press interview, was -
That the Commonwealth could with advantage confine its attention to research rather than administrative work. At present each of the States maintained a staff of experts to conduct research work. These experts included entomologists, vegetable pathologists, and veterinary officers, who were inquiring into many problems of vital importance to the producers of Australia. Among these problems were rust in wheat, bitter-pit in apples, and stock diseases, for which no scientifically-based cure had yet been found. Were the Commonwealth to assume control of this work much good could be done. Instead of half-a-dozen States working for the same ends along different lines with expensive staffs, the Commonwealth would be able to co-ordinate the work and secure for its advancement the very best scientific and practical experts that the world offered. The bureau could be maintained by contributions from the States and the Federal Government, and its establishment would open up a new era in production.
With a staff consisting of some of the greatest of living experts, Mr. Swinburne said that problems involving the States in losses aggregating hundreds of thousands of pounds annually could be more effectively grappled with. Pasteur’s discoveries were said to have been worth to France alone 220 millions of money, and as a result of his investigations into disease of silkworms a waning industry had been reestablished on a sound foundation. A vast saving would be effected in the Commonwealth if a remedy could be found for existing diseases, and he thought the field was one in which the energies of the Commonwealth might be given full play. If the Commonwealth were not prepared to undertake the work, Mr. Swinburne said that the question of co-ordinating research operations might well be taken into consideration by the States.
The Premier of South Australia did not agree as to the advisability of establishing a national bureau.
– All the States would be of that opinion.
– That is not so. I have already quoted expressions of opinion which differ from that view.
– Once the Government get to close quarters they will find it is so.
– I do not think so.
– Has New South Wales expressed any opinion ?
– The New South Wales Government have not replied to the memorandum that was sent to them on the subject. I would also refer honorable members to the following expression of opinion by Mr. D. McAlpine, the Vegetable Pathologist of Victoria, in a report on bitter pit in apples -
Since the disease is common in several States of the Commonwealth, and as it is not one that can be properly investigated by any single State, it would be the duty of a National Department of Agriculture to undertake it.
– When the fruitgrowers waited upon the Government in conference and asked for a sum of money, why did not the Government do something in this direction then ?
– We are now proposing to do what the fruit-growers asked for. They suggested the appointment of experts to do certain work. We are now making provision for a Department of Agriculture which will appoint those experts. Mr. McAlpine continues -
But since there is no machinery at present in existence for this purpose, I would strongly recommend that the different States particularly interested, viz., New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, should provide the necessary funds and appoint a skilled investigator who would devote his whole lime to an experimental study of this serious disease both in the laboratory and in the orchard. Experiments could then be conducted in each State, and from the very nature of the disease its investigation would require the co-operation of the leading growers in the respective States. Every possible factor which contributes to the growth of the tree and the formation of fruit would require to be dealt with.
There are many such diseases which are essentially national in their extent, and it is not in the interests of one particular State only that they should be investigated. A disease may develop in the south, and, through the neglect of its proper investigation and examination, may spread over the whole Commonwealth and destroy, for instance, the great fruitgrowing industry. Similarly a disease might originate in the north, and, through failure to properly grapple with it, spread all over Australia. These diseases travel over the whole Commonwealth, irrespective of State boundaries.
– They have to be stamped out locally.
– Exactly, by separate State adminstration ; but in their operation and effect they are really national, and therefore it is only right and proper that they should be dealt with from a national stand-point. An officer of the United States Department, writing with respect to a national scientific staff, says -
It should be the policy of the Department to continually enlarge and improve its staff of scientific workers, recognising the fact that scientific research applicable to the whole country can be done more economically, more efficiently, and more thoroughly under a centralized agency, where there is greater permanency and continuity of effort, than under State authorities where all or part of the conditions just enumerated are absent or lacking. The national scientific staff, like the staff of trained soldiers, should always be ready to attack urgent and special problems which no other organization could handle.
The idea is that the chief work of the bureau in the beginning shall be the establishment of such a scientific branch to deal with these problems.
– Will the Government take over the local bureaux ?
– It may be highly desirable to still continue certain officers in the States, as is done in the United States of America, to conduct their investigations in co-operation with the central authorities. In Queensland’, for instance, the staff is inadequate to deal with all the problems placed before it; and through its inability to deal with those problems, other States may be seriously affected. There are at present demanding investigation a certain number of diseases which ought to be dealt with nationally. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, when Minister of Trade and Customs, paid an official visit to Queensland, and a deputation of sugar-growers waited upon him to ask that the Federal Government should take action for the investigation of the sugar grub. The evidence of Mr. Peterson as to a district near Cairns was as follows -
In this particular district the grubs cause a loss of thousands and thousands of pounds yearly. In my own case in several years I have lost about£3,000 worth of sugar-cane. Last year I lost£1,200.
– Eleven tons of beetles were collected this year.
– Yes, and one shilling and threepence per pound was paid for them. No less than . £1,500 was spent on the collection, which took place in the month of December. In the Cairns and Mosman district it is estimated that 45,000 acres are infected by cane grub. In a portion of the Mulgrave district, where there was a yield of 30,000 tons of cane, in consequence of the ravages of the insect, the yield was reduced to 25,000 tons, and was ultimately, brought down to 1,000 tons. The sugar-growers put these facts before the Government, and represented that the matter was one for the Federal Government to investigate. They pointed out that it was in the national in terest that steps should be taken to eradicate a pest of so destructive a character. If this Bill be passed, and the Bureau of Agriculture be established, it will be possible to send a scientific expert to Queensland to investigate the pest.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Queensland Department should undertake the work?
– The investigation of matters regarding tropical agriculture affects Australia as a whole. We are already interested in Papua, and hope to be directly interested in the Northern Territory. Investigation in the cause of science knows no territorial bounds.
– I think there isan expert in tropical agriculture inBrisbane.
– Yes, but he is not an entomologist. There is a Government entomologist in Queensland, but this officer himself wrote regarding his duties in 1907 -
Occupying the combined posts of Entomologist, Vegetable Pathologist, and Inspector under the Diseases in Plants Act, and discharging responsible duties constantly in connexion with each, and being unprovided with any assistance whatsoever, the work of my office is seriously in arrears, and my knowledge, moreover, cannot be adequately placed at the disposal of the public interested in my investigations.
My attention has been particularly directed to the disease known as bitter pit. If this disease secured a hold in the Commonwealth, it would be a very serious matter indeed for New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that the burden is not one which would be borne by any particular State. It is an Australian burden; and it is in the interests of Australian industry that the Commonwealth should undertake the investigation of this and other diseases in order to devise the best method for their eradication. It is a matter absolutely of pounds, shillings, and pence to us as a business people. The fruit-growers, meeting in conference, have also asked the Commonwealth Government to take action. The point that I desire to make is that those who are concerned in these industries, who are actually engaged in production, are the men who have pointed out to the Government the necessity for national action.
– They have been brought to that state of mind only recently.
– That is so;but it is well that they should have been brought to such a state of mind in their own interests. In Queensland the fruit-fly pest also demands investigation. On the 30th October, 1908, a large deputation from the Inter-State Fruit-growers’ Conference waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs. They pointed out the necessity for Federal action in the investigation of diseases affecting fruits. The conference represented all the States, I think; at any rate, I am certain that it represented the four States to which I have referred. Then, “again, the Nurserymen’s Association have recently laid before the Government a proposal to the effect that the Federal Agricultural Bureau should institute a series of experimental farms in the northern parts of Australia. They have expressed the opinion that such farms could do a great amount of useful work, which would be of special assistance to the Northern Territory. Of course, when the Northern Territory is taken over by the Commonwealth, it will be necessary to establish agricultural farms there.
– There is a very good agricultural experimental farm in the Northern Territory now, but it suffers fromlack of funds.
– Yes, and there is a very competent man in charge of it in Mr. Holtze, whose experiments are exceedingly useful. Mr. Holtze has proved, according to his own reports, that upland rice is likely to be, in the future, a great Australian product. He says that it will flourish in the Northern Territory. If the cultivation succeeds there it will probably succeed in other parts of Australia also. In fact, he goes so far as to say that the cultivation of rice will in time be for the Northern Territory as important as wheat growing is to the southern parts of the Province of South Australia.
– What does he say about the labour problem?
- Mr. Holtze says that the rice will be cultivated as wheat is cultivated, and I therefore assume that he means by white labour.
– I have had some discussion with him on the subject.
– His views are, I think, as I have stated them.
– As a matter of fact, is not rice being grown by white labour in America ?
– The honorable member is quite right. In fact, I think that Mr. Holtze derived his ideas from reading about what is taking place in the United
States. What I have been pointing out is that there are so many great problems affecting the agricultural interests of this country coming before us for solution, that national action is required to deal with them effectively. In addition, there are diseases affecting animals that require investigation. Information has . been supplied to me by an expert in one of the States in which he mentions four or five diseases affecting animals which require scientific investigation in Australia. They are cripples and impaction paralysis in cattle, tuberculosis and actinomycosis, parasites, in sheep, and spring-halt in horses. All these diseases, I am informed, press for investigation. If we had a Bureau of Animal Industry, such as there is in the United States, there would be a good deal of scope for its work in this direction. But the first thing that the Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture would do would be to coordinate a great deal of State work that is now being done. It could undertake profitably the investigation of diseases such as I have mentioned. The Commonwealth is administering the Commerce Act, and the Quarantine Act, statutes as to which the advice of experts is frequently required.
– Will not this work be an infringement of State rights?
– I anr- glad to say that it will not be. I think I have now shown that this is essentially a matter for national action. The experts of the Bureau will be available to our producers for the investigation of pests and diseases. The results of their investigations, when completed, will be handed over to the State authorities, and, by having conferences with the State authorities, it is to be hoped that proper methods of administration will be secured, following the precedents of the United States. The work of the inspection pf orchards, the control of particular areas for stock, and similar matters, would be left in the hands of the State Governments as they are to-day. The proper sphere for the operation of the Federal Bureau, will be the scientific work of investigation and research. In addition, the Federal Department can be of assistance in connexion with the introduction of new seeds and plants from abroad, and experiments in connexion with acclimatization can be carried on at any of the State experimental farms at present in existence. In most of the States at the present time, there are well-equipped experimental farms. The Commonwealth need1 not take any action in . the direction of their establishment. The experts of the Federal Department will be able to work in co-operation with the Bureau of Meteorology, in order to make that Department of still greater assistance to farmers and producers. There will be no necessity to form, in connexion with the Federal Bureau of Agriculture, a complete statistical branch, as is done in the United States, because we have already in existence a Bureau of Statistics. For reasons of economy, we can very well take full advantage of that Department to obtain all necessary statistics of agricultural and pastoral production. If this bureau is established, it can co-operate with the existing Bureau of Census and Statistics in the publication of bulletins corresponding to those which are issued in other countries. We need not duplicate our work in this respect. There is a great sphere of usefulness before the proposed Bureau of Agriculture; and in the directions I have indicated, it should do a great deal of good. It is not our intention to establish a Department of Agriculture on the lines of those established in America; because a great deal of the work which is done by the American Department is already carried out by the State Governments in Australia.
– I suppose that no officers will be, appointed, and nothing actually will be done in the matter, until we have had an opportunity to discuss the Estimates ?
– A complete scientific staff will not at once be appointed. All that it is proposed immediately to do is to conduct the preliminaries essential to the establishment of the Bureau, and to lay down proper bases of future action. Consultation with the State Governments will be necessary to define the spheres of action of the Federal Department, and the scope of its investigations. No actual steps can, of course, be taken in the matter without parliamentary appropriation.
– Might not the Premiers’ Conference consider this matter?
– It might be considered by the Premiers’ Conference; but that should not deter this Parliament from taking national action, for which people engaged in our industries are pressing us to take. At the same time, it is proposed to take action . in friendly cooperation with the State Governments. As regards the Commonwealth powers, they are fully discussed at page 7 of the memorandum which has been circulated. Our power to deal with> this subject, iri the first place, rests entirely, as it “ does in the United States, upon the power of appropriation. It has been held by United States authorities that, under the power of appropriation,, the Federal authority may appropriate money to carry out the various objects towhich I have referred. Not only is there the power of appropriation, but there arise implied powers from the very nature of our Constitution. For instance, there is handed over to us the power to deal withquarantine, and that includes, as honorable members are aware, the control of animals and plants coming from abroad. In connexion with the powers of quarantine, wehave full authority to appoint scientific experts to carry out any investigations whichmight be useful in the exercise of that power. So, also, in connexion with other implied powers, which are enumerated in> the memorandum, and to which I need not refer more fully at this stage.
– Does the honorable gentleman not think that what is proposed isvery like Socialism?
– So far as I am concerned, the fact that it might be described by the use of that word would never deter me from taking proper State action in the interests of Australia.
– What is proposed! does not involve nationalization.
– Wherever I think that the powers of the State might be used in thedirection of increasing national productions, or in other ways, adding to the wealth of Australia, I shall be prepared to take action.
– The honorable gentleman is on safe ground where the interestsof the agriculturalist is concerned.
– I do not regard the interests of a particular section of the community, but the interests of Australia as a whole. The establishment of a bureau of agriculture can be justified on financial considerations alone. The United States Department of Agriculture has achieved great results. Speaking of it in his- book, America at Work, Mr. J. Foster Fraser says -
To my mind, the Agricultural Department of the United States is the most useful organizationin the world. It does not do all it sets out toaccomplish, but the machinery is there, and the enthusiasm is there. .More than all - and this is the point - it is practical to the American. The results of experiments spell dollars. It is= thorough.
President Roosevelt, speaking recently of the Department, said -
The production of raw material from the surface of the earth is the sphere in which the Department of Agriculture has hitherto achieved such noticeable results. Of all the Executive Departments, there is no other, not even the PostOffice, which comes into more direct and beneficent contact with the daily life of the public than the Department of Agriculture, and none whose yield of practical benefits is greater in proportion to the public money expended. But great as its services have been in the past, the Department of Agriculture has a still larger field of usefulness ahead. It has been dealing with growing crops. It must hereafter also deal with living men. Hitherto agricultural research instruction, and agitation, have been directed almost exclusively towards the production of wealth from the soil. It is time to adopt, in Addition, a new point of view. Hereafter, another great object before the national Department of Agriculture, and the similar agencies of the various States, must be to foster agriculture for its social results, or, in other words, to assist in bringing about the best kind of life on the farm for the sake of producing the best kind of men.
If honorable members will look at the measure itself, they will see that in the first place it proposes the establishment of a bureau of agriculture. It sets out as the objects of its establishment -
Those are the purposes for which it is intended the bureau shall be established. In clause 4, it is made clear that what we desire is to co-operate with the States. The clause provides that -
An arrangement may be made with the Government of any State in respect of all or any of the following matters : -
the carrying out of experiments and investigations :
the supply and distribution of information :
the exchange and distribution of seeds and plants : and
any matters conducing to the development in Australia of the agricultural, pastoral, dairying, horticultural, and viticultural industries and forestry.
The object of the Department will be to enable the Commonwealth to take such lines of national action as, in the interests of Australia should be taken. The desire is that the Commonwealth and the State powers should be harmoniously exercised for the benefit of all those who are engaged in the producing industry. Being confident that it will prove of national benefit, I urge honorable members to pass this most useful law.
– Are there separate Departments in the United States?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hughes) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a somewhat technical one ; and I am sure honorable members will excuse me if I refer to a few general matters, which, in the case of lawyers, will beaddressed to the memory. The Bill is based on the English Bills of Exchange Act of 1882, which has been adopted with very few modifications, I think, by all the States of the Commonwealth, and a Bill based on the same Act has been placed on the statutebook of Canada. This Bill is, to some extent, entitled to be called a code; but, of course, a code in the larger sense is practically impossible. It would have to be, as Bentham pointed out, most exhaustive and comprehensive, and subject only to modification, not by judicial decision, but by Acts of Parliament at periods of from ten to twenty years. The Act of 1882 is not so ambitious in its scope; but, as I think I shall show later on, it is of great importance to the commercial world. Human affairs are so complex and multifarious, and social developments are so many, that it is almost impossible to put the whole of a particular branch of law into what can be called a complete code ; and the Bills of Exchange Act, to some extent, is supplemented for purposes of construction, at all events, by the principles of common law. There was an attempt made, I think, in 1866, to reduce the general law to something like a complete exposition. There was then appointed a Royal Commission, composed of some very eminent lawyers and expert laymen, to inquire into the best method of producing a digest of the law ; but the task was found to be a somewhat stupendous one. The result was a recommendation that each of certain branches of the law, which were then expressed in judicial decisions and statutes should be reduced to a simple comprehensive statement in one particular statute ; in fact, an attempt was made to do what, with regard to the whole law, was almost past human ingenuity and energy. The Law Reports ran to 1,400 or 1,500 volumes, and something like 100,000 decided cases. The Commission .recommended that particular branches of the law might be taken up by experts and expressed in short statutes ; and out of these we got the Sale of Goods Act, which, a few years back, was passed by the Imperial Parliament and adopted bysome of the Colonies ; the Partnership Act ; the Acts Interpretation Act of 18S9, which has been made the model of several similar Acts in the Colonies ; the Bills of Exchange Act of England, on which the present Bill is modelled ; and the Marine Insurance Act, on which a measure on the present notice-paper is based. Such, then, are. the possibilities of effective codification; and the instance before us is, as I said before, based on the Act of 1882, which was drawn up by that very eminent draftsman, Mr. Chalmers, who was also the draftsman of the Marine Insurance Act, on which is based a measure we shall later on have to consider. Mr. Chalmers was originally appointed by the Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Bankers to draw out that Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons by Sir John Lubbock, President of the Institute of Bankers. That Bill was referred to a Select Committee of experts and lawyers.
– What does the Minister mean by “experts”?
– Experts in banking, who considered the details of the Bill chiefly from the point of view of usage- from which the whole law of Bills of Exchange has come - and of lawyers, who, of course, applied that high degree of intelligence which generally characterizes them as members of Parliament, to the further elucidation and consideration of the principles of the measure. The Bill was not amended by the Select Committee in any case in which there was a difference of opinion amongst the members. It was thought that there should,, be unanimity in connexion with such an important matter, especially in connexion with what was considered to have the comparative permanence of. a code. I may mention that the Fines Recovery Act of 1837 was purely a lawyers’ Bill, and was the only Bill ever passed through the British Parliament without being amended either in Committee or House by the House of Commons or House of Lords. It was, of course, a highly technical measure, and was left altogether to the lawyers, and it has proved the only Act through which a coach and four has never been driven. I have memories of this Act from my student days; and they lead me to the conclusion that to read a few Acts of the character would almost bring one within the precincts of a lunatic asylum. However, it is only due that laymen should know that that Bill, considered solely by lawyers, is the only one which has withstood criticism, and in which there have been found no real defects in policy or expression.. Since the measure of 1882 was passed, very few amendments in the law have been made. I think the only amendment was made in 1906, in what is known as the Crossed Cheques Act, to which I shall refer later on when considering the clauses of the Bill. The object of that Act, I may say, was to give to a banker, who acted as collector for a customer, debiting each cheque to that customer’s account, a certain amount of protection, as set forth, as I shall point out, in clause 65 of our Bill. Of course, it is desirable, so far as uniformity is obtainable, to follow the lines of English legislation. We should not slavishly adopt the texts of Imperial legislation if Ave can improve upon them ; but in connexion, with an Empire such as ours, with a commerce that practically touches almost every part of the civilized world, and has extended to a magnitude which would almost have staggered credibility ten or twenty years ages - it is desirable that in Acts of Parliament dealing with purely commercial matters, there should, as far as possible, be uniformity between the legislation of the Imperial Parliament and that which is passed by the Dependencies and Dominions under the Crown. Lord Mansfield, who was the principal Judge to give an early exposition of the law of bills of exchange, suggested that in commercial matters uniformity is possible, because practically the law of negotiable instruments is the law of the whole commercial community. I may remind honorable members that nowadays we deal with a good many matters which are to some extent in relation to one another. There is the currency question, for instance. It may surprise honorable members to know that about 98 per cent, of the British currency is made up of bills of exchange and cheques. I remember a short contribution which I published some years ago on the question of banking. I found, in 1889, that in London coin was .73 per cent, of the currency; notes, 2.04 per cent., which is a matter to be remembered in connexion with our proposals for a note issue; and cheques and bills 97.23 per cent.
– In what year?
– In about 1882; but I quoted those figures in 1889.
– Is that with reference to Australia or to Great Britain?
– To London. I am glad that the honorable and learned member made that interjection. I will come to the qualifications a little later on. The extent to which bills of exchange and notes enter into currency depends, of course, upon the commercial and banking development that takes place. I should think that London is the most highly organized commercial and .financial centre in the world. Honorable members will find, therefore, that wherever there is a very highly organized commercial centre, notes diminish as part of the currency. That, again, is subject to this qualification : that there is no special provision made, as exists in France, which practically forces the note issue into comparative prominence; but where currency is unfettered, the amount of coin and the extent of note issue which constitutes the currency, is exceedingly small. There are special reasons - applicable to the United Kingdom only - why bills of exchange and cheques should supply a large proportion of the currency in London. Under the provisions of the Bank Charter Act of 1844, there is an inducement to issue small notes outside a 65-mile radius from London. It will be remembered that under that Act the Bank of England was divided into Departments, ohe called the Banking Department, and the other the Issue Department. From the Banking Department about £14,000,000 worth of securities was transferred to the Issue Department, and that has since swollen - for reasons into which I need not enter - into about £18,500,000 worth. Against that, notes are allowed to be issued ; beyond that there must be gold against the issue. As a matter of fact, there is always more gold than the issue. I do not want to complicate what I have fo say about bills of exchange. Of course, there was a monopoly of note issue given within a certain radius to the Bank of England, whose notes are legal tender.
– Is that the result of a Statute or the practice?
– Of the Bank Charter Act of 1884 and an Act of 1826. It is provided in the Act of 1826 that outside a 65 miles radius from London notes may, under certain conditions, be issued, and the result is that in some centres, such as Manchester, they form a larger proportion of the currency than is the case in London. At Manchester, for instance, cheques and bills are 80 per cent, of the currency, and notes 14 per cent., as compared with 97.23 per cent, and 2.04 per cent, in London.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that that represents the condition of things now? I understood him to be referring to the position in 1889.
– I do not want to give any more quotations of that class. It is very difficult to give statistics on this matter. I forget exactly the source from which I obtained the statistics I have given, but it was not the ordinary statistical books. I think it will be found that at the present day - and I am stating this on the evidence of the proportion of bills of exchange and cheques - that in the final settlement of the clearing-house of London, at least 97 per cent, of the whole currency is made up of bills of exchange and cheques, and an exceedingly small proportion of coin. I mention that to show the very great importance of this subject, not only from the point of view of Great Britain, but. al so from the Imperial point “of view, because bills of exchange and cheques practically constitute the chief method of settling final balances now-a-days, and the law, as much as possible, ought to be the same throughout the British Dominions. So much for that aspect of the question. In order to understand the more technical character of the Bill, which is really no more than an enumeration of single instances, I might remind honorable members of the origin of a bill of exchange. Originally, of course, it was simply a case of a letter of credit being given by one person to some person at a distance who owed a sum of money to the person who drew up such letter. It was an order, say, from A in England, to B, who dwelt in France, to pay a certain person the amount of a debt which was due by B to A. But the person who got it took the order to B perhaps before maturity, and asked him to sign it as an undertaking that the alleged amount was correct, and that the order would be met when the time came. In time, these became negotiable by transfer, either by indorsement or by passing from hand to hand. They were found so convenient by merchants, that by the usage of merchants, as it was called - and there was a Latin expression put on the back of every bill in order to indicate that the thing was done according to the usage of merchants - they were rendered negotiable by transfer, either by indorsement or by delivery from one person to another, and the negotiable instrument was treated as cash. That was the origin of bills of exchange, and it was found to be a very convenient method in interchange, first because the acceptance at once fixed the amount of the debt, and secondly, because it was transferable from person to person, and in that way got over the law that a debt could not be assigned from one person to another. The merchants sometimes constituted themselves as acceptors when really there was no debt to be transferred. They drew up or made notes, and the maker of a note then became practically in the position of an acceptor of a bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– As I have mentioned, originally a bill of exchange was a letter of credit, sent to a debtor in a foreign country, asking that the debt might be paid to the bearer, or transferred to him. By the usage of merchants, the acknowledgment of a debt made by a person, to whom such a letter had been addressed became transferable, either by indorsement, if the bill had been made payable to a particular person who had been named in it, or by transfer, where it had been made payable to the bearer. It was then regarded as practically equivalent to coin, and became part of the currency. The use of bills of exchange avoided some of the difficulties connected with the law relating to debts, one being that no debt, or, in the mixture of obsolete French and Latin of those days, no chose in action, was assignable at law. Bills of exchange were by custom assignable, it being the practice for the person to whom the bill was addressed to write his name on the back, to indicate that he intended to pay the amount of the debt when it became due. The person on whom- the bill was drawn was called the drawee, and by putting his name on the back he became the acceptor, taking upon himself the obligation to pay it. These negotiable instruments were found to be such a convenient method of exchanging liabilities and debts betweenmerchants that an extension of the practicecame about. A person would create a letter or note without any idea of transferring a debt, and in this way promissory notes came into use, the person creating; such a note being called its maker. Instead’ of a letter being addressed to a debtor,, who would indorse it and become its acceptor, the practice arose of making a note and taking on one’s self the obligation of meeting it. In this connexion, let me read! a passage from Byles on Bills -
The advantage of a bill of exchange in reducing a debt to a certainty, curtailing the evidence necessary to enforce payment, and affording the means of procuring ready money by discount, often induced creditors to draw a bill for the sake of acceptance; though there might be no intention of transferring the debt. Such a» transaction pointed out the way to a shorter mode of effecting the same purpose by means of a promissory note. Promissory notes soon circulated like bills of exchange, and became ascommon as bills themselves. .Notes for small sums, payable to bearer on demand, were found to answer most purposes of the ordinary circulating medium, and have at length, in all civilized countries, supplanted a great portionof the gold and silver previously in circulation.
My reference to the ratio of bills of exchange and cheques to the rest of the currency is supported by the statement of
Byles that practically nowadays they form the bulk of the currency in highly-organized commercial communities. The negotiability, or power of transfer by mere delivery, which is possessed in the case of bank notes, was challenged in regard topromissory notes, and about 1703 the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’sBench declared that they were not transferable, and that it was a piece of impudence for bankers to so regard them. However, a few years later, the Act 3 and 4 Anne made them equally negotiable with bills of exchange, and ever since they have formed part of the general commercial currency. Bills of exchange, promissory notes,, and cheques constitute the negotiable instruments which are dealt with in the Bill now before us, though in addition there are such negotiable instruments as Exchequer bonds, and English Treasury bills, some of which are drawn for such short periods as three months. They are negotiable, being transferable as cash is, but they are not negotiable instruments withinthe meaning of this Bill. I refer to the” matter because, in the seventeen or eighteen
States of America in which there is a codification of the law of negotiable instruments, they all come under the generic term of negotiable instruments. But we deal only with bills of exchange, promissory notes, and cheques. An outstanding characteristic of these negotiable instruments is that valuable consideration is always implied in connexion with them ;in other words, subject to certain exceptions, to which, perhaps, I shall refer later, there is no need to prove that they have passed for value. In the case of ordinary simple contracts, there must be what lawyers call request, consideration, and promise, but valuable consideration is implied in connexion with bills of exchange. Sub-clause 1 of clause 35 says that every party whose signature appears on a bill is prima facte deemed to have become a party thereto for value. The second great characteristic of these instruments is that they are transferable by indorsement, or, when payable to bearer, by mere delivery, unless at the time of being made their negotiability is restricted, or expressly denied, upon them.
– Are any of these facts likely to be called in question?
– Every honorable member is not omniscient, and I am endeavouring to assist the consideration of the Bill in Committee by a particular reference to the clauses which I think honorable members should bear in mind in discussing its details. I am trying, by grouping certain clauses, to facilitate the comprehension of a somewhat technical measure. Negotiability is dealt with in clause 36. In clause 34 a characteristic of negotiable instruments is dealt with. This, most people will remember in connexion with the case of Colonial Bank v. Marshall, to which I shall refer a little later on. In clause 34 it is provided that the holder in due course who takes a bill, even though defective, is entitled to sue upon it, or has a valid title to recover the amount specified in the bill. In other words, in cases of fraud, duress, or force and fear, or other unlawful means, or illegal consideration, a person who bona fide takes a bill for value is not affected by the defective title of the person from whom it is taken.
– What would be the position of a person who received a bill without value - say an accommodation bill?
– This protection would then be denied him if he did not come within the conditions of clause 34.
I do not wish, however, to discuss at this stage the question of accommodation bills. The only difference between an accommodation bill and an ordinary bill is that the drawer in the firstnamed case is affected by the fact that he has not received consideration from the acceptor, and, consequently, is not entitled to notice of dishonour in circumstances under which the drawer of an ordinary bill would be entitled to such notice. A bill that has been forged is an instrument that really does not exist; but where, as the result of fraud, as in cases of stealing or embezzlement, there is in the person who has passed a bill a defective title, the person who is in due course the holder, having given value for it, is not affected by that defect. These are the three leading characteristics to which I thought I ought to make this short reference. I come now to the definition clause. Clause 8 of the Bill defines a bill of exchange as -
An unconditional order in writing, addressed by one person to another, signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is. addressed to pay on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money to or to the order of a specified person or bearer.
From that definition it will be seen that the bill must be unconditional, that the time of payment must be fixed or capable of being fixed, and that the bill must be for a sum of money and payable to a specified person or bearer.
– Or the bearer’s order.
– No, it must be payable to a specified person or to bearer. A cheque is a bill of exchange drawn upon a banker, which need not be accepted as it is paid on presentation. A “promissory note” is defined in clause 89 of the Bill.
– In clause 4 a cheque is not specifically defined. Therefore, it must fall under the heading of “ bill.”
– It is a bill of exchange drawn upon a banker.
– A cheque does not cense to fall under the bill merely because it is payable to “bearer or order.”
– I am aware of that. Clause 89 defines a promissory note as- an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another, signed by the maker, engaging to pay on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money, to or to the order of a specified person, or to bearer.
Then we have in sub-clause 2 of clause 10 the statement that -
Where in a bill, drawer and drawee are the same person, or where the drawee is a fictitious person or a person not having capacity to contract, the holder may treat the instrument, at his option, either as a bill of exchange or as a promissory note.
– If a cheque be post-dated will it be a promissory note under this Bill?
– No. The mere fact that it is post-dated does not alter, as clause 18 shows, the character of the instrument.
– Would it not be collectable at law?
– It would, as a bill payable after date.
– Does not the honorable member think that for the sake of greater clarity of expression the Bill should contain a further definition of the word “ cheque? “ The ordinary layman does not realize-
– The honorable member would not allow me a minute ago to explain to laymen what the Bill does mean. It is not usual to multiply definitions, possibly with the effect of confusing people. Under a proper system of drafting, if one general definition is ample to cover everything, it is stupid to proceed by enumeration to multiply details. The general characteristics to which I am referring are found in all these instruments - in cheques and bills of exchange - and identify them without any unnecessary multiplication of definitions. A bank-note is a promissory note issued by a banker, payable to the holder on demand. One peculiarity of a bank-note is that it may be re-issued after payment. That is not the case in regard to ordinary bills; although, by clause 42, it may be where a bill, before payment, gets back by a series of indorsements to the original drawer. It may then be re-issued ; but generally the peculiarity of a bank-note is that it can be re-issued and often is, except in the case of the notes of the Bank of England, which, by the custom of that institution are not re-issued. I shall not trouble the House with the series of definitions as to drawer or drawee, and other parties and relations, which are set out in the definition clauses, as well as in other parts of the Bill. I wish to come to the question of the effect of crime on transfer. In paragraph b of clause 43, first of all the rights and powers of the holder of a bill are set out. He may, first of all, sue on a bill in his own name; then -
Where he is a holder in due course he holds the free bill free from any defect of title of prior parties as well as from mere personal defences available to prior parties among themselves, and may enforce payment against all parties liable on the bill.
In sub-clause 2 of clause 43, it is provided that-
Where a holder’s title is defective -
if he negotiates the bill to a holder in due course, that holder obtains a good and complete title to the bill, and (b) if he obtains payment of the bill, the person who pays him in due course gets a valid discharge for the bill.
I have already referred to the fact that the holder, in due course, is, under certain circumstances, unaffected by a defect in title which does not arise from forgery on the part of the person who transfers to him. In the case of forgery, of course an instrument is defective. Clause 81 is that to which the honorable member for West Sydney has referred, and in relation to which I shall mention the case of Colonial Bank v. Marshall.
– I think that clause was drafted when I held office.
– I shall, probably, propose an amendment of the drafting, at all events. I think it will be necessary to strike out the clause as it stands and to substitute another clause for it. I propose to explain the reasons to honorable members shortly. About 1904 there was a decision in the case of Colonial Bank of Australasia v. Marshall, on the direction of Chief Justice Madden to a jury that a banker was protected where a cheque was so carelessly or negligently drawn that it afforded facilities for the forgery which took place. This direction to the jury was challenged on an appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria, which sustained the ruling of Chief Justice Madden ; but the High Court, upon appeal, decided that in that case there was no negligence upon the facts. There were three executors, one of whom used to draw up the cheque and pass it on for signature to his co-executors. They returned the cheque to him, and the forgery took place by his adding a numeral to the amount in the cheque. The regular course had been followed by the trustees, and the High Court decided that upon the facts there was really no negligence upon the part of the drawer, and that, even if there were negligence, as a matter of law the drawer of a cheque was under no obligation or duty to the banker to so draw it as to prevent facilities for forgery. The case then went to the Privy Council.
– That was new law at that time.
– It was supposed to be, but I think I can show later on that its novelty was challenged.
– At any rate, it was not thought to be the law.
– The honorable member is right, but it was not quite new law, because it was considered for a long time at all events that a banker in such circumstances was afforded no protection ; in other words, that there was no duty subsisting between the drawer of a cheque and what we would call his agent for payment - the bank - to draw it with such care as to avoid reasonable possibilities for forgery. On appeal, the Privy Council decided that the judgment of the High Court was right. I would refer honorable members to the wording of the Privy Council’s decision, which seems to be the law at the present time, and which we seek to alter. At the end of the appeal, as reported in the 1906 Appeal Cases, it is stated, referring to three or four authorities which were cited, that -
The principles there laid down appear to their Lordships to warrant the proposition that, whatever the duty of a customer towards his banker may be with respect to the drawing of cheques, the mere fact that the cheque is drawn with spaces such that a forger can utilise them for the purpose of forgery is not by itself any violation of that obligation.
In other words, the Privy Council affirmed the decision of the High Court of Australia, that there might be a duty as between bankers and drawers of cheques, but that, whatever that duty was - and they did not define it - it did not cover the case on the facts sent on for appeal. Thus it did not cover the duty of so drawing a cheque as not to afford facilities for forgery.
– Did not the facts disclose absolute fraud on the part of one of the trustees?
– Undoubtedly. The facts were these : There were three trustees - Myers, Marshall, and Day ; certain cheques were drawn, for £10, £2 6s. 4d., £50, £10, and £10, and by putting the numeral “ 1 “ before the figures in each of the cheques the amounts were raised so that the total fraud was about £450.
– It was impossible for the bank to detect that:
Mr. GLYNN.It was supposed to beimpossible, but what the High..Court decided was that there was no negligence on the part of the drawer on the facts presented to them. They held that, inasmuch as the same course of procedure had been- ‘followed previously by Myers, and adopted by his co-trustees, and inasmuch as there were no grounds to justify them in suspecting Myers of fraud, there had been no negligence on the part of the executors. The Court also, .in effect, held that it would be practically impossible to throw upon the drawer of a cheque such a burden as to say that he was not to leave a blank on it through which a forgery might take place.
– What alteration does this Bill propose in the law?
– The alteration as it stands in clause 81 of the Bill is to throw the responsibility upon the drawer of the cheque.
– And to relieve the bank?
– Yes. Although the clause is drawn with a good deal of care, I propose to submit an amendment, which may or may not be better, but which I think really fits in better with the decision of the Privy Council.
– Why should the bank be relieved of that responsibility?
– The honorable member is quite right in asking that question. The reason I am amplifying my reference to this case is that the relief to the bank is not a matter that should be agreed to as prima facie selfevident, but I think I can show facts which would justify the giving of this relief to the banks, although I do not think the thing is so free from doubt as the bankers say. Russell, in his Banking Law, points out that a good many opportunities are afforded to bankers, which the drawers have not got, to avoid these facilities for forgery.
– The banker should only be protected when there is culpable negligence and fraud.
– I’ quite agree with the honorable member. But let me get to the justification for making any alteration at all, because we are faced by the fact that the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council both declare that the duty of the drawer of a cheque to the banker does not include such a case as we are now seeking to deal with. The principal “case referred to in the Privy Council’s decision was a case that turned upon bills of exchange only. That was the authority upon which chief reliance was placed, both by the High Court and the Privy Council, for the decisions which they respectively gave. It turned upon the question of whether there was a duty on the part of the acceptor of a bill of exchange to so draw it up as to prevent facilities for forgery. They sought to show that that was the law with regard to bills of exchange, and! that similar . principles applied to the relations of customer and banker. It has been thought, and is still thought by very eminent writers, that the cases are distinguishable in law, although until we alter the law as laid down by the Privy Council we shall have to abide by that decision. Let us, therefore, see what has been decided. Shortly after the decision of the Privy Council its validity was challenged by Beven, the greatest English writer on negligence, in an article which appeared in the Lorn Quarterly
Review, vol. 13 of 1907, upon the case of Young v. Grote. which was elaborately criticised and referred to in the decisions of both the High ‘Court and Privy Council. That case was decided in 1827. From that date this case had, he contends, been regarded as law until it was upset by the High Court and Privy Council, and the effect of Beven’s dissertation is that, until the Privy Council seem to have reversed it, it was the law, notwithstanding that they assumed the fact that it had been previously reversed. The facts in that case were that a customer of a bank left certain cheques with his wife to be filled up as business demands required. They were brought by the clerk to the wife, with £52 ros. filled up in one of them. They were handed, before actual issue, to a clerk, and one of the cheques for £50 was converted into a cheque for £350. In that case, it was held that the bank was protected. In other words, the law, as we seek to alter it in this Bill, was declared, in the case of Young v. Grote, if Beven’s explanation of that case be cor.rect, as I think it is, to be that the bank was protected when there was negligence on the part of the customer. Best, C. J., plainly said, in his judgment -
We decide here on the ground that the banker has been misled by want of proper caution on the part of the customer.
This writer points out, as the result of an examination of the leading authorities, from 1827 down to the last case, that the result of those authorities is to show that the. customer owes a duty to the bank in drawing cheques not to give facilities for fraudulent alteration. The case of Scholfield v. the Earl of Londesborough i8g6 relied on by the High Court and the Privy Council was a case between the holder and acceptor of a bill of exchange - a relation that involved different duties. In his judgment in that case Lord Watson said -
If, on the other hand, the decision in Young v. Grote was based upon the ratio that the customer, in filling up the cheque through his wife, whom he had constituted his agent for that purpose, had failed in the duty which he owed his banker by giving facilities for its fraudulent alteration, I am not prepared to affirm that it cannot be supported by authority. But it does not, in my opinion, necessarily follow that the same rule must be applied between the acceptor of a bill of exchange and a holder acquiring right to it after acceptance. The duty of the customer arises directly out of the contractual relation existing at the time between him and the banker, who is his mandatory. There is no such connexion between the drawer or acceptor and possible future indorsees of a bill of exchange.
That last sentence was a statement of Lord Watson in 1896. It supports the statement which I made that there is a duty subsisting between the drawer of a cheque or the customer of a bank, which does not exist between the acceptor of a bill of exchange and the holder of it. But the Court did not define the extent of the duty, simply declaring that the duty in the latter case did not exist.
– The bank accepts no responsibility under this Bill.
– Very little. But if there were contributory negligence on its part, the bank would be liable. I am endeavouring to point out what some consider was the law right down to the case of the
Colonial Bank v. Marshall, and as we seek to make it in this Bill ; and I am citing one of the best English authorities upon the point. He points out that in 1874, for the first time it was sought to limit the duty to a drawer of a cheque. In fact, Beven says that there was at first a disposition to treat the decision in Young v. Grote, as applicable to all negotiable instruments. Gradually, however, it became confined to the relationship of banker and customer. Latterly, it has been sought to destroy the effect of the decision altogether, in the case which went to the Privy Council in 1906. To sum up the conclusion to which Beven came, that the High Court and Privy Council were wrong in assuming that the two relationships were the same, I will refer to the end of his article -
It is inaccurate in fact ; because irrespectively of its. legal effect, between customer and banker there is a definite contractual and customary relation ; while as between holder and acceptor of a bill, the acceptor may be, and often is, ignorant of the holder’s existence till the moment when he is called on to pay the bill by virtue of his acceptance of the paper of a third person in pursuance of an obligation originating in the custom of merchants. The difference, in short, is fundamental. The subsequent assumption that Scholfield’s case “ includes everything existing in the present case “ is manifestly a petitioprincipii, and contradictory of the very authority to which it appeals; for Lord Esher, M.R., who justly characterizes Young v. Grote as “ the fount of bad argument,” yet adds, “ it does not apply to this case “ ; Schol field v. Earl of Londesborough.
In Colonial Bank of Australasia v. Marshall, accordingly, the question being between banker and customer, and evidence being given that the cheque had been drawn in other than the usual way, the case should have been left to the jury.
All that I seek to show is that a good many writers say that the law, as we seek to make it in this Bill, was the law up to the last case decided by the Privy Council. These writers seem to consider that the Privy Council made a mistake as to what the authorities were then; and Sir Frederick Pollock, who is no mean authority, goes the length of stating, in a footnote to Beven’s article, that if the case set up by Beven is only partially correct, there is ground for revision of the Constitution by the ultimate Court of Appeal for the Empire. Pollock says -
If Mr. Beven’s strictures on Colonial Bank of Australasia v. Marshall are justified or even plausible, they go far to support the complaints as to the working of the Judicial Committee which have come from the self-governing Dominions of the Empire of late years. The House of Lords, if that case had come before it, might or might not have arrived at the same decision, but at all events, we should have had fuller reasons and some critical discussion.
Those are the only references with regard to this somewhat technical Bill, which I think it necessary to make, because the matter can be better dealt with in Committee. I may refer honorable members, however, to clause 81, which deals with the matter to which I have been referring. The clause, in its present form, may, perhaps be dangerous.
– I should think it is.
– It may be right, or it may not. When we come to deal with this technical and complex matter in Committee, I shall suggest an alteration. It is declared generally in this clause that if a cheque is drawn by a customer with negligence, and if that negligence has afforded a facility for fraudulent alteration, and if that fraudulent alteration takes place, and there is no contributory negligence on the part of the banker, the banker shall be entitled to debit the amount of the cheque to his customer.
– Three-quarters of the men who draw cheques are not qualified to do so.
– It is just possible, on a reading of the decisions by the High Court and the Privy Council, that it may be held that, although facilities were afforded for fraudulent alteration in the method of drawing the cheque, that would not be considered negligence. Paragraph a of clause 81 refers to negligence by the customer of a bank, and paragraph b to facilities afforded for fraudulent alteration. It may then be necessary to require proof of some other negligence than is provided for by paragraph b.
– It appears to me that clause 81 goes beyond what is necessary to protect the banker.
– It may be so.
– It goes too far.
– I think it does in enumeration; but it does not go to the length of the Queensland Act, which also gives the same protection to the holder of bills of exchange, and the Queensland Act also does not contain the proviso of a that there must be negligence on the part of the customer ; though it does state that he must have afforded facilities for fraudulent alteration. What I suggest is that the clause might be expressed in terms that would declare it to be a duty on the part of the drawer not to afford facilities for fraudulent alteration. Because through all the cases what has been contended is that throwing the liability on the drawer of a cheque is a deduction from a duty, and as such it would be interpreted by the Court, but that that duty did not extend to facilities for fraudulent alteration. I mention the matter now in order that it may be considered by honorable members and those who take an interest in the subject. I propose to move an amendment, defining more particularly what that duty is.
– The phrase “has afforded facilities “ is very vague. What is a facility for fraudulent alteration? I know what it means in a particular case where a man in writing a cheque started in the middle of a line.
– That is what would be meant in the majority pf cases. That is what they would be alleged to mean in a matter like the acceptance of a bill of exchange, and what the words were alleged to mean in the case of the Colonial Bank v. Marshall, in which the High Court and “the Privy Council said it was not a duty. I do not wish to speak longer on the second reading of this somewhat complex Bill, but 1 think honorable members will recognise that it was necessary that I should go a little into detail with a view that later on, when we come to a specific enumeration of terms and dealings, they might be better comprehended by honorable members.
.- This measure, which I suppose is an example of the finest attempt at codification in any legal system, and will be accepted generally as a very much needed amendment of the existing law, is now before us, and with some very few and comparatively unimportant exceptions, to which reference may be made later, practically repeats the English law on the subject. It is very necessary that there should be one law ::n this matter. What I wish to direct th.3 attention of the House, ari3 particularly of the Attorney-General to, is that this Bill will not give us one law. In the High Court in the case of Huddart Parker and Co. v. Moorehead, and in the case of Appleton against the same - the anti-trust cases - the law in relation to the powers of the Commonwealth was laid down by the High Court. The effect of the judgment went very far beyond merely the matter then before the Court, and dealt generally with the powers of the Commonwealth in respect to all matters mentioned in the various paragraphs of section 51 of the Constitution. While I do not say that specifically and definitely the Court laid it down that into every one of these powers there was to be read a reservation, that they were InterState, and not Intra-State, I do most emphatically say that the effect of the judgment went to this length, and that it cast a most serious doubt upon our powers under section 51 to make laws in respect of any operations that do not extend beyond the boundaries of one State. At page 241 of the Argus Lam Reports, Vol. 15, No. 11, of 22nd June; 1909, in a paragraph containing a precis of the case, it says -
The Commonwealth Constitution is to be construed as if it contained a declaration that thepower to make laws with respect to trade and” commerce within the limits of the various Statesis reserved to the various States exclusively except so far as the exercise of that power by the Commonwealth is incidental to some other power of the Commonwealth.
That is the statement made with regard to. paragraph 1. dealing with trade and commerce. There is no wider power given under section 51 ; in fact, there is no powerso wide. It extends practically over the whole sphere of legislative effort. In this Bill we are dealing with paragraph, xvi., which refers merely to bills of exchange and promissory notes, and is in itself a very restricted provision. If we have not the power under the trade and commerce paragraph to make laws for the regulation of trade arid commerce within aState except where it extends beyond the boundaries of any one State, or, of course, of the Commonwealth, then I say most emphatically we have not the power to make laws in respect of bills of exchange that operate and pass only within the boundaries of any one State. I do not think there can beany doubt about it. I say that applies to bankruptcy and insolvency, which* is dealt with in the next paragraph of section 51.. It applies to every power under section 51 in the clearest possible way, where the language of the paragraph doesnot prohibit such an interpretation. If honorable members will look at section 51 of the Constitution they will see that in every one of the paragraphs a specific power is given to the Commonwealth Parliament. This matter is dealt with in the Constitution of the United States by Tucker, Vol. iv., page 476. The question as to the power to make laws for the common defence and general welfare ‘: of the community, and as to the meaning and limitation of words in relation to any particular power, is dealt with. It is there laid down thus : the words are to be used in reference to the particular subject in the context, and are used subjecta materia all the time, and not at large. I find at page 476 the following -
The doctrine is indorsed by Mr. Madison inanelaborate report in 179S-99, and in a message vetoing the Bill for internal improvements on the 3rd March, 1817, the last day of his Presidential service, from which the following extract may be made :- “To refer the power in question to the clause to provide for the common defence and general welfare ‘ would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers, which follow the clause, nugatory and improper. Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation, instead of the defined and limited one, hitherto understood to belong to them.”
That is to define ‘ : common defence and general welfare,” which is one of the widest possible powers.
– Does the honorable member think he can read something into the commerce sub-sections that cuts down the express powers subsequently declared?
– In view of the Huddart Parker case, we must regard most carefully every measure which seeks to read into any of the powers granted under section 51, power to deal with matters inside the State, when, in the very nature of things, the power is not exclusive. For instance, in the case of light-houses, lightships, beacons, and buoys, I speak with all due humility, but, in my opinion, the Commonwealth has no right to make laws in reference to beacons and buoys purely within inland State waters.
– Must the beacons and buoys be outside the three-miles limit?
– I cannot quote the whole judgment or the proceedings ; but the honorable member, if he reads the case - the points there decided, and particularly the remarks which fell from the Court - will see that that is the conclusion at which we must arrive. I have not the report by me, but one of the Judges asked whether counsel went so far as to say, for instance, that Commonwealth legislation with reference to bills of exchange could deal only with InterState bills of exchange, and! the counsel replied, “ Well, that may be so.” In what particular way can it be argued that the power of the Commonwealth to make laws with reference to bills of exchange operating beyond the limits of any one State, excludes the right of the State to make laws for bills of exchange which operate solely within the States? It may reasonably be urged that the two powers are concurrent, and that, as to bills of exchange which go outside a State, it is perfectly - proper that the Commonwealth should legislate. But it seems that there is nothing on the face of sub-section xvi. to take it out of the rule laid down by the High Court. Why should a bill operating within a State be legislated for by the Commonwealth? There is nothing in the authorities to which I have referred to indicate that the power under subsection 16 extends so far as to be taken out of the limitation, which, according to the High ‘Court, is imposed on every power in the Commonwealth. In Tucker, page 477, we read that Hamilton and Maddison disagreed -
The contestants seem to have agreed upon one point : that to hold the words “ to provide for the common defence and general welfare “ to be a substantive grant of power, in the face of the subsequent enumeration of specific powers, would be absurd ; because the indefinite words would not only enable Congress to exercise the enumerated powers, but discretionary powers without limit, except as Congress might determine what was the “ common defence and general welfare.” The point of divergence is, that Madison, holds the words “ common defence and general welfare “ as a general description of the objects of the tax power, limited by and commensurate with the objects of the Constitution as defined in the enumerated powers thereafter specified ; and that there can be no “ common defence and general welfare “ intended by the Constitution beyond what Congress has power to create, regulate and control by virtue of the enumerated grants.
It is held, further, in the High Court judgment already quoted -
Section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to limit the capacity of trading or financial corporations formed within the Commonwealth, by prohibiting them from entering into any given field of operations ; but that enactment does not empower the Commonwealth to control their operations in a field the control of which is exclusively reserved to the States.
Under sub-section xx. of section 51 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power to make laws with respect to -
Foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth.
These are clear words ; and yet, when we make a law dealing with corporations, the High Court declares part to be ultra vires, and says that what the sub-section means is that the Commonwealth has power to make laws with respect to corporations operating within the limits of the Commonwealth only when and so long as the operations go beyond the boundaries of any one State. This presents the strongest possible case. Therefore, I submit in the clearest possible way that there has to be read into every paragraph of section 51, where the contrary does not appear on the face of it, that we can only make laws, for instance with respect to bills of exchange and promissory notes, when they go beyond the boundaries of any one State. The judgment I have been quoting is,, perhaps, in some respects, the most important yet delivered so far as our legislative powers are concerned. I am not speaking in a party spirit, because this matter does not concern any party. In the first place, this measure is absolutely free from any suspicion of party. Secondly, it contains little to which exception can be taken ; and, in the third place, it is most desirable we should have uniformity throughout the Commonwealth. It is a most magnificent example of codification. It compresses innumerable judgments extending over a long series of years in a form which is not only convenient, but elegant. It is one of the finest examples of English which any man could wish to read. This Parliament must take to itself the right to read into every paragraph of section 51 the power which we at the outset imagined that we had, and that is to make laws relating to bills of exchange whether they operate inside a State or not. That is a power which I hold we do not possess. Mr. Justice Isaacs dissented from the majority judgment of the Court. He said -
The grant of power to legislate in respect of these corporations being clear, and there being no express prohibition against interference with the internal trade of the States, sections 5 and S of the Australian Industries Preservation Act are valid.
Mr. Justice Isaacs took exactly the same view as we all took, and as I venture to say nine persons out of every ten in this community take now, namely, that we had the power to deal with all the matters set forth in section 51, as if there was no implied reservation that the laws shall only operate when the matters to which they relate extend beyond the boundaries of any one State. Mr. Justice Isaacs was the only Judge who held that view. The majority of the Court held to the contrary. I need not weary the House by explaining the provisions of sections 5 and 8 of the AntiTrust Act ; but they were framed under the power conferred by paragraph xx-, dealing with corporations.
– In their trading capacity L
– Precisely, as we were dealing with them ; and it was because their trading capacity was in this particular limited to one State that we were unable to deal with them. The law takes no cognisance of potentialities. If a bill of exchange is drawn by A and accepted by B, both being within Victoria, potentially the bill may go .all over the Commonwealth, but while it is in Victoria it is, according to my reading, entirely subject to Victorian law, and only when it went outside that State would our law operate. Mr. Justice Higgins said -
Hie true nature and character of the enactment contained in sections 5 and 8 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act is not a law “ with respect to “ corporations within the mean, ing of section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution, but a law “with respect to” contracts and combinations, and the sections are therefore not within the legislative power of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Suppose that a bill is drawn in Victoria, made payable in that State, and then indorsed to some person in Queensland, would not that become an Inter-State matter ?
– I am not denying that, but as we know perfectly well a great number, perhaps the majority, of bills of exchange and cheques are drawn, are met, and disappear inside the State in which they were drawn. Of course, I am putting forward these views with a certain degree of reluctance, but I think that we have every right to face this question. If we are to say that this judgment stands for nothing, and that the clear and unambiguous words of the Chief Justice and Puisne Judges apply to only paragraph xx. of section 51, and to no other paragraph, then, of course, we know exactly where we are. I wish to quote from Tucker in relation to the discussion of this matter byMadison and Hamilton -
Both contestants hold that Congress has only the enumerated powers. But Madison holds that Congress can only raise money to carry out the enumerated powers, -
Of course, the money-raising power is clearly the most extensive power, being subject to fewer limitations than any other.
– He is a writer who is very restrictive on the Constitution.
– Tucker continues - while Hamilton holds that it may do so not only for these, but for any others it may deem for the “common defence and general welfare.”
What that means is that anything we conceive to be incidental and appropriate to the carrying out of any one of our legislative powers we have the right to tack on. But in the most express way our High Court has laid ‘it down that we cannot do anything of the sort, unless where in unmistakable and unambiguous terms there appears in any paragraph of section 51 such a prohibition of the right of the State to make laws concurrently with ours, and that there has to be read into every paragraph the reservation that we are only to make laws with respect to those matters when they extend beyond tthe limits of any one State. The Chief Justice, in the course of his judgment, said -
The power to legislate with respect to trade and commerce conferred by section 51 (1) is not unlimited. In the case United States v. De Will, Chase, C.J., delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court, said - “ That Congress has power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes, the Constitution expressly declares. But this express power to regulate commerce among the States has always been understood as limited by its terms, and as a virtual denial of any power to interfere with the internal trade and business of the separate States, except, indeed, as a necessary and proper means for carrying into execution some other power expressly granted or vested.”
In that judgment, as well as in the judgments of Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice O’Connor, it is made perfectly clear that this reservation applies. I contend that it is to be .read as applying, not to paragraph xx. only, but to every other paragraph of section 51, except where it would be clearly absurd and impossible. I submit that our power to make laws with respect to bills of exchange and promissory notes extends only to such instruments as operate outside the State in which they are drawn. Therefore, instead of substituting one uniform law for the twelve Acts which now exist, we shall be adding another to them.
– If industrial legislation were one of the powers, would the honorable member say that it extended only to Inter-State matters?
– The only possible construction which can be placed on the judgment of the Court is that we have no more power under paragraph xvi. than under paragraph xx. of section 51.
– The Court went far beyond what the honorable member has stated.
– I have not denied that. There ought to be a general amendment of section 51 to make it plain that the powers given by it are not to be limited in the way the Court has limited them in its judgment in Huddart Parker v. Moorehead. It is absurd that we should have power to legislate only in respect to bills of exchange operating outside the State in which they are drawn. If we exercise this power now, instead of making financial transactions more simple and uniform, we shall be doing the opposite. If a business man who has been in the habit of dealing with Victorian bills of exchange removes to
N’ew South Wales, he will find the law on the subject different in some, though not very many, particulars. It is precisely these small differences which cause trouble, but the legislation which is now proposed will be futile until the Constitution has been so amended as to put our powers on a proper footing.
– Is the honorable member going to seek for an enlargement of the powers given under section 51?
– I think so. There should certainly be uniformity in regard to the matters mentioned in paragraphs xiv., xv., xvi., and XVII. 4 of section 51. But under the judgment which I have quoted, our powers extend only to Inter-State operations. Therefore it behoves the Government and Parliament to take steps to make provision for such an amendment of the Constitution as the circumstances call for.
Debate (on motion by Mr. King O’Malley) adjourned.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of External Affairs [9.5]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure is one empowering the Commonwealth to accept the transfer of Norfolk Island from the Crown. This most beautiful and fertile Island is exceedingly important to us because it is one of the stations of the Pacific cable. Mr. Commissioner Oliver, reporting on the subject in 1903, said -
Norfolk Island is now an important repeating station for the Pacific Cable Board, whose head-quarters in Australia are at Southport, Queensland ; and whose operations must, upon the completion of the Panama Isthmian Canal, become of vast importance commercially and otherwise to the Commonwealth, which is charged with the Postal and Telegraphic business of the Union. The laying of the Pacific Cable to Anson Bay must have an influence on the political future of the Island, and its protection, almost impossible to appreciate, and its maintenance would appear to be a national obligation on the Commonwealth, in the interests of the Australian States, the Dominion of Canada, Great Britain, and, to some extent, of the Western States of America. Charged with these obligations it is only reasonable that the Commonwealth should claim to be more deeply interested in the Island than any single State of the Australian Union or the Crown itself, and the Crown should recognise the fact by handing over the Island to that Union.
It is important that we should secure control of this island as early as possible, and this Bill provides for its acceptance by the Commonwealth as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth. This little Island, which, as honorable members are aware, has been attached to New South Wales, was discovered on0th OOctober, 1774. When it was decided to take possession of New Holland, Norfolk Island was regarded as “ a spot which may hereafter become useful.” Under royal instructions, possession of the Island was taken in 1788 by Lieutenant Philip G. King. Its occupation was continued until 28th February, 1814, when it was abandoned. It was again occupied in 1826, and maintained as a place of detention until 1855. In 1852 the British Government were approached on behalf of the Pitcairn Islanders, who desired to secure a larger island than that on which they were then settled. It is scarcely necessary to deal now with the romance of the Pitcairn Islanders, but I merely mention this fact as showing how the present inhabitants of the Island came into possession of it. The Pitcairn Islanders -had been suffering from famine and fever, and appealed to the British Government to transfer them to a better country. The Imperial Government chartered a vessel in which they were removed, and landed on Norfolk Island in 1856. The Island has since been occupied by the descendants of these people and others. As to its constitutional control, it is at present under the administration of the Governor of New South ‘Wales.
– Yes. The Island is under the administration of the Governor, and not of the Government, of New South Wales, and it is really at the request of the New South Wales Governor that we propose to take it over. Until 24th September, 1844, it was really an integral part of New South Wales. By Imperial Statute 6 and 7. Vic, chapter 36, it was enacted that it should be lawful for Her Majesty to sever Norfolk Island from New South Wales and to annex it to the m Government and Colony of Van Diemen’s Land. Under the authority of that Act Her Majesty issued a Commission, severing the Island from New South Wales, and annexing it to Van Diemen’s Land. By an Act of 1855 - The Australian Waste Lands Act - it was provided that it should be lawful for Her Majesty by Order in Council to sever it from Van Diemen’s Land and to make such provision for its government as might seem expedient. By a proclamation issued on 1st November, 1856, under the authority of that Act, the Island was separated from Tasmania and became a distinct Crown Colony. The Governor of New South Wales for the time being was charged with its administration, and was invested with power ro appoint Judges, justices of the peace, and other necessary officers for the administration of justice, with full power and authority to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Colony, and to make grants of waste lands. Those and other generally wide powers are practically in existence to-day. The practice of appointing the Governor of New South Wales tto administer the Island continued until 1896 when Lord Hampden, who was then Governor of New South Wales, sought to determine ah unsatisfactory condition of affairs. Correspondence was addressed to the British Government and the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain, ultimately addressed the following telegram to the Governor of New South Wales -
Her Majesty’s Government after communicating with New Zealand are willing to attach Norfolk Island to New South Wales if the Colonial Government is ready to undertake the expense of future administration, in which case application will be made for necessary contributions towards costs of repairs and buildings.
This offer was accepted on 5th August, 1896, by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was then Premier of New South Wales, the general arrangement being that it should be secured to New South Wales, or a future Federal body when it was found expedient to ask for its annexation. Its control was handed over to the Governor of New South Wales and various Orders in Council were issued which are, I think, recited in the preamble to the Bill. In one of these it is stated that- .
In prospect of the future annexation of Norfolk Island to the Colony of New South Wales or to any Federal body of which the Colony might thereafter form part it was expedient that in the meantime the affairs of Norfolk Island should be administered by the Governor of New South Wales.
A further Order in Council was issued on 1 8th October, 1900, in which Her Majesty was pleased to direct that the affairs of Norfolk Island be administered by the Governor for the time being of New South Wales and its Dependencies. That is the position to-day. Shortly after Federation was accomplished, the question of transferring Norfolk Island to the Commonwealth was brought forward, and on 7 th August, 1902, a memorandum was presented to the Imperial authorities by the then Governor of New South Wales, Admiral Rawson - a copy of which was forwarded to the GovernorGeneral. In his minute the Governor said -
I am proposing to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that Norfolk Island should be annexed to the Commonwealth, and be administered by the Federal Government. The present divided authority can never answer, the Postal arrangements, Customs, and Tariff, and presumably the Defence being worked by one, the administration by the other. I have ordered a Commissioner at once to go there and report on many outstanding questions. Would your Excellency inform me whether the Federal Government would be willing to take over the Island should the Secretary of State agree?
Considerable correspondence ensued, and the Commonwealth Government expressed its willingness to take the Island over from New South Wales. In the meantime action on the part of the Commonwealth was delayed, because the result was awaited of the investigation being made into the affairs of the Island by Commissioner Oliver, who took exhaustive evidence. He held a public meeting of the Islanders, and having inquired into the various grievances, under which they laboured, he made a report in 1903. Summarizing what he considered would toe the best means of securing an improvement in the affairs of the Islanders he recommended as the means best adapted to secure a larger output of the commodities of the Island -
These were the general measures that Commissioner Oliver considered necessary for the furtherance of the interests of the Islanders. The Commonwealth Government are willing to take the Island over, and I have given the reasons that justify them in doing so. It is exceedingly beautiful and fertile. It is situated about 904. miles from Sydney, almost in the same latitude as Brisbane, 450 miles from New Caledonia, and about 480 miles from Auckland. Its area is 8,528 acres, of which 380 acres, I think, are at present under cultivation. The soil is of a volcanic nature, and, taking the Island as a whole, is said to be mostly of exceedingly good quality. The chief natural products are bananas, maize, citrus fruits, coffee, onions, and similar products. There are about 800 cattle and 300 horses on the Island. An area of about 1,100 acres is owned by the Melanesian Mission, under a title that it has held for many years.
– In fee simple?
– I believe so.
– From whom did they get it?
– It was a grant from the Crown. I can let honorable members see a copy of it. The population is mostly composed of Pitcairn Islanders and their descendants. On 31st December, 1908, the total population was 919, made up of 731 Pitcairners - 345 males and 386 females - and 188 Melanesians, composed of 158 males and 30 females, on the Mission station.
– They are a very fine race, some of the best boatmen in the world.
– They are, as the honorable member says, a very fine race, and very courageous, and, under happier conditions, to which I hope the Commonwealth will be able to assist them, they give promise of a very good future. As some of the men are away on the cable boats, we may say roughly that the population of the Island is about a thousand. The Pacific Cable station is situated on the Island, and for that reason, on account of national considerations, it is very important that we should have possession of it. At present one of the complaints of the residents is with regard to the rates and freights on their produce, a matter as to which the Commonwealth, if it takes possession, will endeavour to negotiate for better terms. At present they have a monthly steamer, run by Burns, Philp, and Company, who are subsidized by the Commonwealth, and other boats call there casually, while they are also served to some extent by the Mission steamer Southern Cross. With regard to the financial position, the revenue of the Island, derived chiefly from Customs, was, in 1906, £782 ; in 1907, £822 ; and in 1908, £765. In 1908 the Customs revenue amounted to £443 17s. 7d., while the revenue from stamps, postal notes, &c, was£193 19s. 6d.
– What is the subsidy paid to Burns, Philp, and Company?
– That is paid in connexion with the Islands service. There is no special subsidy paid them in this -connexion. The expenditure for the main:tenance of the Island in 1907-8 amounted to £1,68 2 is. id. The revenue is therefore not adequate to carry on the government of the Island, and so a subsidy from some source becomes necessary. The New South Wales Government, when they took over the administration, became responsible for the :COst of government, and have given an annual vote varying between £825 and ^1,000. In addition, that State has done much to assist the Island.
– It has done it very ;badly lately.
– Recent evidence . rather shows that it has been doing good work. lt has appointed a State school teacher, who appears, from the official papers, to be a university man, at a salary of £250; his wife has been given a grant of £30 a year, and the New South Wales Government also pays a lady teacher a salary of £120 a year. Moreover, the cost of administration incurred within New South “Wales itself, and under the direct control of the Governor of that State, is borne chiefly by the State Government. I believe one officer draws £200 a year from the Island funds. The total annual expenditure by New South Wales in connexion with the Island is at the rate of about £1,600 a year, but, of course, if the Commonwealth takes it over a heavier initial expenditure may be necessitated. The reports, and especially Mr. Oliver’s recommendations, show that there will have to be an initial expenditure to improve matters on the Island. I dare say that will amount to probably £1,000 to begin with. The Island is now a matter of Australian, and not purely New South Wales, concern, and I think it is in harmony with the wishes of honorable members that, so far as we can secure national control of a position which, like this one, has a strategic value to us, we should do so. Honorable members will naturally ask for information as to the method by which the Island is governed. Its administration is in the hands of the Governor of New South Wales for the time being. He has power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Island, and to deal with the granting of land. It is practically administered as a Crown Colony. The Governor has had the advantage of the assistance of a DeputyCommissioner in Sydney, Mr. Houston, who has had the help of an excellent officer in Mr. Murphy, who has been for a long time connected with the administration of the Island. There has been appointed to the Island an officer who occupies the position of Chief Magistrate. He has authority to exercise a general supervision over the affairs of the Island. He has to report on the various matters occurring during his administration. He has no power as regards lands. The; power of alienating or leasing lands is exercised by the Governor alone. The duty of the Chief Magistrate is to enforce obedience tq the laws prevailing in the Island.
– Of the 8,528 acres, how much is alienated?
– I am not quite sure how much is alienated, but I shall furnish complete returns later. There has been some amount of trouble in connexion with lands. Commissions have gone over and investigated, and have given certain judgments in connexion with land claims.
– How much of the 8,528 acres is good land?
– I believe that (he greater part of the Island is good land. Mr. Elliott is at present Chief Magistrate.
– Does the Church Mission own land?
– The Church Mission holds 1,100 acres. The testimony of a Commisioner who has been to the Island is, that the influence of the Mission has been exceedingly wholesome and beneficial. In addition to the duties which I have mentioned, the Chief Magistrate presides over the Magistrate’s Court. He has power to establish gaols and similar institutions, and he has a general power of supervision over officers. He represents the Governor in the Island. But, in addition, there is a local council known as the Executive Council. It was formerly a Council of Elders; but as recently, as 1903, the Council of Elders was abolished, and the Executive Council appointed. It consists of a President and six other members. The President and the six members of the first Council were appointed by the Governor. But, after, the first Council had been constituted, two members became elective. The President and four of the members are, however, still appointed by the Crown. The powers of the Council are comparatively limited. In the first place, it has to deal with the care, construction, and management of public roads. It is charged also with the care and management of public reserves, and with public works intrusted to it by the Governor. In addition, the Council has power to call upon persons between the ages of twenty -one and fifty-five, instead of paying rates, to do work in the improvement of roads in the Island. The Bill now before the House provides for the Commonwealth to take over the Island. In clause 3, we declare that Norfolk Island is to be accepted by the Commonwealth - as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth by the name of Norfolk Island.
But this measure is not to come , into’ force until a proclamation, or Order in Council, has been issued under the authority of the King, placing the Island under the control of the Commonwealth. After that is done, the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth will issue a proclamation, and from that date the Commonwealth will be deemed to have accepted the territory. When the Commonwealth takes over the Island, the existing; laws will continue in force.
– For how long?
Mr. GROOM. They will continue until altered by the Governor-General by means of ordinances. The Bill provides for the -continuance, for the time being, of the Executive Council as existing; but it is also provided that the Commonwealth may alter, abolish, or modify the Council and its powers, in such way as may be thought fit. The Chief Magistrate and other officers holding office will be continued. But in future, subject to this measure, the GovernorGeneral will be intrusted with the making of all ordinances for the peace, order, and good government of Norfolk Island.
– Why not Parliament ?
– I do not think that it would be wise, for this Parliament to take in hand the making of every little ordinance for the government of the Island. The appointment of officers will, in future, be left with the Governor-General, as is the case in Papua at the present time. I draw special attention to clause 10, which provides that the Governor-General may make grants of Crown lands - provided that no grant of an estate in fee simple shall be made except for carrying into effect any agreement in force at the commencement of this Act.
I am not aware that there is any such agreement in existence at present ; but that proviso is inserted to prevent complications such as we have had in Papua. If this
Bill is passed in its present form, no grant of land in fee simple can be made by theCrown in future.
– Are there any Crownlands in the Island?
– Yes. We provide also, for appeals to the High Court. The revenue of the Island is left to be appropriated to the purposes of the Island. Byclause 14, we provide that the- revenue shall; be available for defraying the expenditure-
– In the event of a surplus, is it made perfectly clear to what purpose it shall be devoted?
Mr. GROOM.Any surplus will be devoted to the purposes of Norfolk Island. At present, I think, the surpluses go into* a Norfolk Island fund. Clause 15 is important. We propose under it that goodswhich are produced in Norfolk Island shall! not be subject to duties of Customs on being, imported into Australia, if the goods are the produce or manufacture of the Island,, and are shipped direct to Australia.
– Do the Government propose to extend that provision?
– We axe dealing with Norfolk Island only, at present. I cannot anticipate. But whether the provision be extended or not, we are perfectly justified in dealing in the way I have stated with Norfolk Island, which is comparatively small in area, has a small population, and does not produce goods which are . likely to compete seriously with anything produced in Australia.
– What is the estimated5 limit of produce?
– I cannot answer that question. Mr. Oliver, in his report dealing with this question, says -
The volume of Norfolk Island, trade can never be considerable. . Any increased output must beconsidered more particularly as of benefit to the producers of the Island rather than as coming into competition with productions of the Commonwealth.
That must be obvious to any one who is acquainted with the Island. It is considered a grievance by the people of the Island that their goods sent to Australia should be subjected to the ordinary duties of Customs. Inasmuch as -we now propose to take the Island as a territory of the Commonwealth, we also propose the removal of duties on its products, and if that should be found to give an impetus to production in the Island we shall have reason to be thankful.
– What are the principal productions ?
– The principal productions are likely to be coffee, maize, citrus fruits, bananas, and other similar products. Parliament is asked to accept this territory, and the matter is one of some moment to us, because, although the Island may, appear to be of small importance, it occupies a position of considerable value to Australia. For the reasons I have advanced inmoving the second reading of theBill, I ask the House to agree to accept Norfolk Island as a territory of the Commonwealth .
Debate (on motion by Dr. Maloney) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short Bill, and I suppose that in explaining it brevity ought to be the soul of wit. The idea is to give protection from an earlier date than is at present afforded by the principal Act to members of organizations. Under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904, it is provided in section 9 that no employer shall dismiss an employe simply because he happens to be a member of an organization, and in section 10 that no employe shall leave the service of an employer because the employer happens to be an officer or member of an organization. An organization, of course, is an association that has been registered under section 55 of the Act. It is, therefore, the organ in one case of employes to put their case before the Court, and in the other of employers who have come into association. In some cases it has been alleged, I believe, that men have been dismissed by their employers because they happened to belong to an association applying to be registered as an organization. Senator Needham has introduced a Bill to some extent of the same effect as this part of the measure I am now submitting to the House; but as other matters require to be dealt with, we thought it better to incorporate them in the one Bill. This Bill, as regards this portion of it, provides that an employer shall not dismiss an employe if he becomes or is a member of an association that has applied for registration. So that protection will be afforded from the date of the application to become re gistered. By clause 4 of the Bill we propose an amendment of section 38 of the principal Act. In paragraph 1 of that section it is provided that the Court, which means the President of the Court, shall have power - to order any party to the dispute to pay for any other party such costs and expenses including expenses of witnesses as are specified in the order, but so that no costs shall be allowed for the services of any counsel, solicitor or agent.
Clause 4 provides in the first place that the power to give costs is to be vested in the President not only where there is a dispute, but where there is a proceeding. Some of the most important issues raised in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Court were raised on mere applications to register or on appeals to cancel registration. If honorable members will look at section 60of the principal Act they will find it provided that an act of the Registrar may, be challenged by appeal to the Court.
– The Victorian coal-miners’ case was on an application to the Registrar.
– Yes, the Jumbunna miners’ case to which the honorable member for Yarra refers, was one in which very important issues went to the High Court. In the first place it came before the President, on an application to cancel registration, the point raised being that the body was not an Inter-State body, and was not capable of becoming an Inter-State body within the meaning of the Act. Again, in another employes’ case, a big issue was raised between two bodies as to which was entitled to be the representative of the association or organization under the Act. The High Court gave judgment that on an appeal to the President from a decision of the Registrar, or to cancel the registration of an association, the President has no power to grant costs to either side, the matter not being a dispute within the meaning of section 38. This Bill provides that in these cases, which are as of great importance as disputes in many instances, the power to award costs shall be given to the President. I should mention also that the clause goes beyond the modification of paragraph1. of section 38 to which I have referred. That provision does not include counsel or solicitors’ fees, though there is, as I mentioned before, power in the High Court to grant costs of any description. There is no power at present to grant costs to solicitors or counsel in arbitration cases, but only expenses ; and under the provision there is no limitation as to the class of costs which may be charged. As a matter of fact, some of the most important technical issues are raised on applications to register or to cancel registration, and it is thought necessary that men with expert knowledge of the law should be employed in such cases.
– If we allow tre-mendous costs, there will be a law suit on every point.
– Perhaps so; all I can say is that the Court at times has felt - though I speak subject to the remark that I am a lawyer - that were professional assistance available to the men a good deal of time might be saved. While not acknowledging the allegation to be a fact, “ I do not deny that it may be said that counsel are too elaborate at times in their statement ; but, in any case, I think a good deal of time might be saved if men were employed, who, from their training, ought to be expert in the preparation of cases. For instance, the constitutional question was raised in the Jumbunna case, and the President gave an elaborate decision on a point of law. If, in such circumstances, counsel may not be heard, the law does not make for expedition and economy. Clause 5 gives the President power, subject to the approval of the Governor-General, to make rules not inconsistent with the Act or the regulations. This, of course, is partly provided for by the existing Act. There was a doubt as to whether the President, as distinct from the Court, could make regulations; and it is now sought to give him power to prescribe the duties of the Registrar, the Deputy Registrars, and any other officers of the Court, and also to regulate the practice and procedure of the Court. In other words, it is thought best that the control of the principal officers should be in the hands of the man .who knows most about them. In section 59 of the principal Act there is a provision that if there is an application to register an association as an organization, it may be objected that there is already an organization representative of the same interests ; and if there is already an organization in the State in which the application to register is made, the application may be refused.
– Is any provision made for the case of an employer who, when a union is registered, brings pressure on his men to induce them to leave the union ? There has been a case in Victoria recently.
– Such a case would, probably, come under clause 2 of the Bill, which provides that an employer shall not dismiss an employe for certain reasons. I do not think we can interfere with moral suasion of a certain order. Of course, if the interference amounts to duress, the Act supplies a remedy. Honorable members know that the sort of suasion referred to exists on both sides.
– But the employer has hold of the “ thick end of the stick!”
– I would not give much for a man who fought with both ends of the stick at the same time. My own experience is that there is a good deal of exhortation to men to join the unions, and I do not say that there may not be exhortation on the part of employers to men to leave unions. I do not say that employers, or employes, should not exercise such a right, and it would be rather a pity to stop the flow of eloquence on either side. Section 59 of the principal Act is by the Bill amended by omitting the words 1 in the State in which the application is made.” Under the section as it stands, an application to register an organization may be refused on the ground that there is already a similar organization in the State capable of attaining the object sought.
.- No doubt, the measure is familiar to the Attorney-General, but this is the first I have seen of it. I am quite prepared to go on .with the discussion, but this is a Bill of some importance, and requires consideration.
– I am prepared to go on with the Bill.
– It is a singular coincidence that the Bill which the Government are prepared .to go on with is just the one, as I say, that requires consideration. I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Before I put the question, I should like to point out that.it is hardly the correct thing to make a speech, and then move the adjournment of the debate. An honorable member ought to be prepared to move the adjournment of the debate at once, or to go on with his speech.
Motion agreed to ; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a short Bill, but it relates to a matter of considerable importance. It has been the subject of communication and negotiation with the Imperial Government for some years past, and has been considered by several Commonwealth Governments ; but, unfortunately, it has been delayed until the present time, when I have the honour of submitting it to honorable members. I hold in my hand a file of correspondence, but I find that it is marked private.
– I -must draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that the conversation which is going on is extremely disturbing to the Minister, and makes it .almost impossible for those who desire to hear his remarks to do so. I have a very delicate duty to perform in continually calling for order, and I hope that honorable members will kindly allow the Minister to proceed.
– The file which has been placed in my hands is marked “ secret and confidential,” and therefore I will only give a few particulars which may be of use and interest to honorable members. This proposal originated in a despatch dated 26th April, 1905, from Mr. Alfred Lyttelton, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to Lord Northcote, drawing attention to the legal powers of the Commonwealth in the matter of control of submarine cables in time of war. The communication was referred to the law officers, who considered that in all probability the Commonwealth would have power over these matters at common law, if not under the Defence Act. It was admitted, however, that there could be no doubt as to the legal and constitutional authority of the Commonwealth to pass special legislation on the subject, and the Secretary of State subsequently suggested that it might be desirable to introduce a Bill empowering the Government of the Commonwealth to take possession of, or control over, all submarine cables whenever, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral, an emergency should arise in which it was deemed expedient for the public service to do so. Later a Bill was drafted by the law officers of the ‘Crown, and submitted to the Imperial Government, and approved of, and it is now brought before honorable members for their consideration.
– The object of the Bill is to prevent news filtering through?
– I am not in possession of the secret despatch which assigns the particular reasons, but no doubt honorable members can conjecture what might happen in time of war if an enemy got possession of cables either on land or at sea. It is very desirable that the Commonwealth Government should, in time of war or emergency, have the right to take possession of the landing stations to prevent any communication from passing into the Commonwealth or out of it without their knowledge. Perhaps honorable members are not aware that no less than five oversea cables land on the Australian continent. The first lands at Port Darwin via Banjoewanji ; and the second at Fremantle via Cocos Island. The third, which connects the Australian continent with New Zealand, landis at La Perouse’, in Botany Bay. Those three cables, I may mention, belong to the Eastern Extension Cable Company. The fourth cable, which belongs to the Pacific Board, and in which the Commonwealth is a partner, lands at Southport in Queensland. The fifth cable, which belongs to a French cable company, is that between the Australian continent and New Caledonia, which lands at Bundaberg. This Bill provides that in time of war or emergency any or all of those cables may he taken possession of by the Commonwealth Government for defence purposes. It has also been made applicable to wireless telegraph stations which may hereafter be established on the Australian continent under the existing Act.
– Whether we had an Act or not, the Commonwealth could seize them.
– Under the existing law it is possible for the Commonwealth Government to delegate to private companies power to establish wireless telegraph stations, and so it is desirable that they should have power to deal with such, stations as well as cables. The chief provision of the Bill is in these terms -
The Governor-General may, whenever any emergency has arisen which, in his opinion, renders it desirable in the public interest so to do, authorize any officer of the Commonwealth to take possession or control of any submarine cable or any wireless telegraph.
The remaining clauses deal with matters of detail to carry out the enacting clause. I ask honorable members to pass the second reading of the Bill.
– - I am very pleased that the Bill has been brought in, and I have only risen to make one suggestion, which the Minister can consider before it is dealt with in Committee. I do not know much about wireless telegraphy, but I submitted the Bill to a friend who is very much interested in that subject, and he has advised me that a mistake has been made in not extending its operation to telephonic messages. I think that his suggestion can be met by inserting after ‘ ‘ telegraphic ‘ ‘ in the definition of “ wireless telegraphy,” the words “ or telephonic.” He has written to me as follows -
Wireless telephony, though still in its infancy compared with wireless telegraphy, has been proved possible, and in France recently messages were transmitted for 300 miles by its means. The Japanese are alleged to have a perfected system in use in their navy. The vessels of the American Navy, when here, were fitted with it. Do you not think then that it would be wise, in anticipation of almost certain improvements in that direction in the future, to include it in the Bill, somewhat as above?
I certainly think it would be an improvement to the Bill to do so, arid it is only for that reason I bring forward the suggestion.
– I will make a note of it.
– I think that we ought to have an adjournment of the debate. I suppose the Minister has no objection?
– Do not move the adjournment of the debate, if an honorable member wishes to speak.
– This Bill has only just been put into our hands. It seems to me so absolutely simple that I cannot understand an honorable member who has great grasping power generally with regard to these things asking for more time to consider the effect of it.
– -I have not yet seen the Bill.
– There has been one amendment suggested already.
– I see in the Bill one dangerous feature to which I’ wish to draw the Minister’s attention. It is provided in clause 2, that “ Emergency “ shall mean “ any emergency in the nature of war or danger of war,” and power is given to the Governor-General, which means the Executive Council, which means the Cabinet, which again very often means the Minister himself, to determine when there is “ danger of war.” The effect of the Bill, then, as I read it, is that if the Minister makes up his mind that there is “ danger of war,” and induces the Government to arrange for an Executive minute, he can immediately take charge, through an officer, of the whole of the apparatus, whether it be for wireless telegraphy or telephony or cables, and bring it under the regulations of the Department. . No one, I think, doubts the wisdom of empowering the Government of the Commonwealth to do this in the event of war or an impending war.- But I think that the term “ danger of war “ is a little vague. I content myself at this stage with asking the Minister to consider whether he ought not to hedge that power a little more, so as not to give the right to control all these great industries merely because the Government have come to the determination that there is a “ danger of war.” Some honorable members on the other side have characterized the Dreadnought movement as a scare, and no doubt they credit some members of the Government, and some honorable members on this side with believing that there is an immediate “ danger of war.” If that is- the interpretation to be put on those words, we have already had, according to them, an occasion which would justify a Government in taking charge of all these great industries as provided in the Bill. I do not think that the House wants to authorize anything of a precipitate character being done, and therefore I ask the Minister to consider whether he ought not in the Bill to require of this or any other Government proof of definite danger to be established before this great power over important industries shall be exercised.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Parkes show that the Bill does not go far enough, and that the time has arrived when the cable service between Australia and Great Britain should’ be entirely controlled by the Government*.
– That is another question.
– No, it is not. The Pacific Cable is partly owned by the
Australian Government, and I think that the objection of the honorable member would be met if an attempt were made to obtain complete control of at least one of the cables.
– Why not nationalize them all?
– I am in favour of doing so. The postal services of the Empire have been nationalized, and the cable service could also be nationalized. It is not in the interests of the Empire that the Eastern Extension Cable Company keeps eleven of its lines idle. In my opinion, the Pacific Cable should be entirely a State-owned affair. Then, even if the other cable lines were not nationalized, we should have it to rely on in case of war, or fear of war in the minds of the people either of Great Britain or Australia. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will not allow the powers given by the Bill to be restricted inCommittee.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Thomas) adjourned.
Quarantine of Stock - Vegetable Diseases Restriction - Publication of Speeches from “Hansard”: Headings - Boer War : Graves of Australian Soldiers - Japanese Doctor in Western Australia.
– It would be placing too great a strain on the honorable member who moved the adjournment of the debate on the second reading of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, which is the next Order of the Day, to ask him to continue his speech at this hour of the evening. Were he to do so, his remarks could not be reported in the press. Therefore, I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs a matter affecting the administration of the Quarantine Act, a Commonwealth measure, which is left largely to the control of State officials. The other day, in Tasmania, at a meeting of a farmers and agricultural association, it was complained that the charges connected with the importation of stock are altogether too high. The old State law required imported stock to be quarantined for a period of four months. Importers now complain that, although the charges run up to as much as £30 per head, the cost of the upkeep of the beast and! inspection amounting to £26, animals when delivered to their owners are in a halfstarved condition. The quarantine regulations should be carefully revised, with a view to giving greater facilities for the importation of stock from one State to another. At the present time, even when a clean certificate of health has been obtained from a Government veterinary surgeon, a prize beast cannot be imported into any State until it has been quarantined for four months. But to bring our herds up to the proper standard, there must be a constant interchange of stock. Therefore,. I ask the Government to take into consideration the advisability of reducing the present charges, of seeing that stock is properly cared for while in quarantine, and of shortening the period of quarantine in order that there may be a freer interchange of good stock between the States.
– I indorse what the honorable member for Bass has said. In America, if the head of a State Department certifies that the stock in his State is healthy, no disease existing amongst it, that certificate is accepted by the other States. But an animal cannot be imported into Tasmania, however healthy it may be, until it has been quarantined for four months, at the end of which time it is more than half dead and a year is needed to bring it back into condition. I know that the Attorney-General will do what he can to rectify the narrow, bigoted, sectional methods of the States, which are rendering nugatory the provision of the Constitution enjoining Inter-State freedom of trade. Coming to a kindred matter, I would point out that the red-skinned potatoes grown in Tasmania are the best on earth.
– They are not as good as the Warrnambool potatoes.
– The Warrnambool potatoes are spuds in their swaddling clothes compared with those grown on the north-west coast of Tasmania, which are better than peaches. The Government of New South Wales, however, has taken the un-Christian like action of refusing to accept such potatoes, and as a consequence many of the farmers on the north-west coast will this year be driven into the bankruptcy Court. When a bank has advanced money, its creditor must pay up on the appointed day, or be carpeted. The Tasmanian farmers have made arrangements with their bankers, but the New South Wales Government, by applying a miserable, antiquated, obsolete Act, passed in the dark ages, has pronounced their potatoes to be diseased, although they are not, and has thus inflicted” great injury upon the growers. Has the Commonwealth Attorney-General, the representative of the people of Australia, no power to interfere in this matter? The Attorney-General of the United States would smash such tinpot roosters up so quickly that every comb and feather would come off them. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to see if he cannot exercise a similar power. Tasmania will back him ajp.
.- I am glad that the honorable member for Darwin has brought this question under the notice of the Attorney-General, because it certainly deserves his careful consideration. I have received from the Minister of Trade and Customs a letter in which he expresses the opinion that the action taken by New South Wales in condemning potatoes consigned from Tasmania to Sydney appears -to be a purely State matter. It has gone so far, however, that it may be well for the Department to give it further attention. We have reached a point at which possibly the Commonwealth Government may have power To intervene under the trade and commerce sections of the Constitution. The bulk of the potatoes in consignments to Sydney -which were returned to Tasmania because a few of them were affected by some disease, were found to be perfectly sound.
– Why should diseased potatoes be sent to New South Wales ?
– All consignments before leaving Tasmania are inspected by State officers, who endeavour to do their duty, and who, I am confident, are as capable of detecting disease in potatoes as are any other inspectors. I understand that potatoes condemned in Sydney as being unsound and returned to Tasmania have been found for the most part to be perfectly sound. The greater part of such consignments have again been sent with other potatoes to .Sydney, and have been passed by the very inspectors who condemned them a week or two before. The action being taken “by New South Wales in this regard is having very much the same effect as the imposition of a State duty on potatoes would have, and that being so. the Commonwealth ought to have a voice in the matter. I hope that the Attorney-General will consider this question.
. - I understood the Prime Minister to -say last week that the question of the insertion of cross headings in reprints of speeches from Hansard published in pamphlet form would be referred to the Printing Committee, but although a member of that Committee, I have not yet heard of a request being preferred to it to deal with the matter. I looked through the cross headings in the reprint of a speech published by an honorable member, and found only two words to which exception could be taken. Neither was objectionable, but it could not be said that it was a correct “interpretation of the matter which appeared below. Honorable members who have already given orders to the Government Printer for the publication of their speeches in pamphlet form should be permitted to have those orders carried out, since others have been allowed to have their speeches reprinted without any interference on the part of the Government. The Government have taken a high-handed step. In one of the proposed reprints to which I refer, there is not an objectionable word in the cross-headings.
– There was a crossheading quoted by the Treasurer about the the use of the stiletto.
– In a reprint from Hansard, published by the Prime Minister, there is a cross-heading “ Cut-throat Tactics.” No exception was taken to that heading, although nothing stronger has teen published to my knowledge.
– “ Cut-throat “ is not a stronger expression than that referring to use of the stiletto.
– I think both wrong. Cross-headings should be limited to words used in the speech, and held to be in order.
– There was no rereference to cut-throat tactics in his speech ; but I do not take exception to the cross-heading used by the Prime Minister. I suggested to the honorable member who had put up a heading to the effect that an honorable member’s argument was “ refuted,” that he should have used the words “ an honorable member’s argument answered.” No objection could be taken to such a cross-heading. Since other speeches reported in Hansard have been re-published in pamphlet form with various crossheadings, I do not think it fair that other honorable members should have their orders for reprints hung up. I understand that the matter will be referred to the Printing Committee, but the Government might well allow orders that have been placed with the Government Printer to be carried out without further delay.
.- I have listened with interest to the remarks that have been made in this House during the last few days in regard to the condemnation of consignments of potatoes from Tasmania to New South Wales and Queensland. To a. very large extent, Queensland draws upon Tasmania for her supply of seed potatoes, although I do not know whether the potatoes grown in that State are better than those produced elsewhere in Australia. But I trust that Tasmania will extend to the rest of Australia that courtesy which it expects from the other States. I have before me a cutting from a Queensland newspaper to the effect that a notification has been received by the Department of Agriculture from the Agricultural Department of Tasmania, advising that a proclamation has been issued in that State absolutely prohibiting the importation, introduction, or bringing into Tasmania, of any potatoes from Queensland.
– I do not know why such a proclamation should have been issued. I do not suppose that Tasmania imports a thousand tons of potatoes in fifty years.
– I agree that it is a mistake.
– I do not suppose that Tasmania finds it necessary to import potatoes from Queensland.
– Has the honorable member verified the statement that he has referred to?
– The notification was received by the Queensland Department of Agriculture from the Agricultural Department of Tasmania, so that Tasmania is evidently paying back Queensland and New South Wales in their own coin.
– When did that paragraph appear ?
– About a week ago.
– So that it is evidently a case of retaliation.
– Our complaint lies chiefly against New South Wales, not Queensland.
– There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and which I think will interest honorable members generally. We are all proud of the Australian natives, and other residents of the Commonwealth, who, in Great Britain’s time of need, volunteered for active service in South Africa, and should like to see their memories perpetuated. Monuments have been erected throughout the Commonwealth to the memory of many Australians who fell in the Boer War, and I do not think we desire that the memory of any of those who laid down their lives for the Empire should be allowed to sink into oblivion. I have here, however, a paragraph reprinted in the Brisbane Daily Mail from a Sydney newspaper, embodying certain statements made by a traveller who recently visited South Africa.
A number of small crosses here and there indicate “ Here lies a British soldier.” I visited a blacksmith’s shop near the burial ground, and saw a large heap of crosses piled up against the side of the smithy. On asking what they were, the smith stated they were sent to South’ Africa by the Australian Governments, some by others, to place at the heads of the graves. Why this has not been done he did not worry about; but he supposed ‘ they would come in handy for scrap-iron or some other useful purpose some day. It seems ridiculous that our boasted loyalty” to the men who fought and died for us should be marked, or not marked, in such a ridiculous way. I heard of the work of a number of organizations whose object was to look after the graves of the men in South Africa, and it would appear that whatever they may have done in Australia has gone for nought, or very little, in South Africa.
I ask the Minister of External Affairs to see if anything can be done to have those crosses or others re-erected over the restingplaces of our valiant countrymen who laid down their lives for the Empire in South Africa.
– I would remind honorable members representing Tasmania that, with regard to the importation of potatoes, New South Wales is only copying the treatment she has received from the other States, particularly with regard to her fruit. Every State is amply justified in protecting itself against the importation of diseased stuff ; but if there is any justification for this complaint by Tasmania, it deserves to be looked into. New South Wales considers that it has been unjustly treated by the other States in connexion with its exports, and perhaps this matter might receive the attention of the Premiers’ Conference when they meet the representatives of the Federal Government. An effort should be made to arrive at a common agreement by which, while diseased stuff is prohibited, suitable commercial articles may be freely interchanged between the States, in accord with the true spirit of Federation.
.- Will the Minister of External Affairs be good enough to obtain any information available with regard to the suggested landing of a Japanese doctor in Western Australia, and especially ascertain whether any Ministerial authority has been given in the matter ?
– I shall be pleased to see if I can get the information asked for by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I shall have the matter dealt with by the honorable member for Bass referred to the Customs Department. He takes the point that excessive charges are being made in connexion with quarantine regulations. The principle as regards inspection laws is undoubtedly that, if the charges are so high as to be prohibitive, it is an interference with the section in the Constitution relating to Inter-State trade and commerce. I shall ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to make inquiries, if the honorable member for Bass, will give me a copy of the newspaper extract so that I may locate the exact date. The matter referred to by the honorable member for Darwin is also being inquired into by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I shall certainly inquire into the extraordinary statement which the honorable member for Moreton read to the House. I am aware that organizations in Australia - and believe some States also - have made provision for proper memorials to mark the resting-places of their soldiers in South Africa. How so entire a defeat of their purpose could have been accomplished I am unable at present to conjecture.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090803_reps_3_50/>.