3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Pursuant to standing order 25, I lay upon the table my warrant nominating the honorable member for Corio to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
– A couple of days ago I asked a question regarding the raising of a loan by the Fremantle Council, and yesterday it was stated in this House that a wire had been received from the Mayor, pointing out that I had misrepresented the true position. I did not say that the loan was not floated. The question which I asked, based on statements appearing in Saturday’s Age and Argus, which I shall presently read, was -
Is he aware that, notwithstanding the fact that the annual value of rateable property in the municipalities concerned amounts to no less than £160,000, and represents a capital value of about £3,000,000, and notwithstanding the favorable terms on which the issue was offered, viz., a currency of twenty-seven years and a rate of 4½ per cent., the response to the application was most -meagre, and resulted in Melbourne in an offer of only , £3,150 at about98½ gross, or, say, 97 net?
The Age statement was this -
Subscriptions in Melbourne to the loan of £30,000 issued by the Fremantle and East Fremantle municipal councils, bearing interest at 4½ per cent., amounted to£3,150, the prices tendered ranging from £98 5s. to £101 per cent. As the services of neither underwriters nor members of recognised stock exchanges were enlisted in this operation, the trifling support accorded to the loan causes no surprise.
That was corroborated by this statement, in the Argus -
The municipalities of Fremantle and East Fremantle recently decided to test the market in the Eastern States for a loan of , £30,000, for the further construction and development of the Fremantle municipal tramways and electric lighting undertakings.
– Does the honorable member consider this necessary?
– I do not wish it to go forth that my statement was not based on facts, because it would be a serious thing for any honorable member to be justly accused of misrepresentation. Therefore I am reading the newspaper statements on which my questions were based. They make it appear that only £3,150 was subscribed in Melbourne, and an inquiry which I made to-day shows that to be true. To continue the quotation -
The bonds were to have a currency of twentyseven years from 1st September,1909, and to bear interest at the rate of 4½ per cent., the first payment of interest to be on 1st March,1910. Tenders were to be lodged in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide yesterday, at noon. No steps were taken to get the loan underwritten, the municipalities apparently believing that the attractiveness of the issue would be its own recommendation. Melbourne tendering, however, was on a very small scale, the tenders lodged amounting to . £3,150.
I did not say that the loan was a failure all over Australia; I said that it was a failure in Melbourne.
Publication of Members’ Speeches in Pamphlet Form.
Report (No.2) presented by Sir John
Quick, and read by the Clerk.
– The question is, “ That the report be printed.”
– I rise to order. I understood that the Minister moved only that the report be read.
– I did not move any motion, though I am about to move one.
– I do not think that you, Mr. Speaker, should put the question “ That the report be printed,” until the Minister has moved that motion.
– When a document has been received from the Printing Committee, it is usual for the. Speaker to put the question “ That it be printed,” leaving further action to the House. The propriety of reading such a document has never been questioned. It is held that any document presented by a Committee should be read, in order that the House maybeseized of its contents.
– I wish, by leave, to move a motion which will empower the Printing Committee to deal with headings in re- printed speeches. The Committee are willing to deal with it. but have raised the question as to their powers. I ask for leave to movein thedirection I have indicated.
– Before that is put-
– Order. I must ask whether the Prime Minister has leave to move the motion at this stage ?
– I want to ask a question before that is put.
-Icannot hear the honorable member. Does the honorable member object to leave being granted?
– I do object; but I . should not if I were allowed-
– Then the Prime Minister cannot move the motion at this stage. He must do so at a subsequent stage.
– I do not object to the motion, but I wanted to askyou, Mr.
Speaker, a simple question with regard to the decision which you gave just now, that a motion must of necessity be put that every paper submitted by a Minister be printed.
– The honorable member has mistaken the words that I used. I said that every report which is presented from a Committee should be read to the House in order that the House may become seized of its contents.
– That was not the question.
– The question was as towhether a paper should be read.
– No; that is the subsequent question which is always put with regard to reports from Committees. I have only followed the usual course of putting that question to the House, in order that the House may come to a decision.
- Mr. Speaker-
– Is this a point of order?
– Yes. I submit that I distinctly heard you say that, when a paper was laid before the House, it was the duty of the Speaker, without a motion being moved, to put the question that it be printed.
– That is what Mr. Speaker said.
Ministerial Members. - No.
– Be honest.
– The honorable member is perfectly correct.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear.
– Order. Honorable members must really show a little more consideration for the occupant of the chair. It is the usual custom to put such questions as that, which are of a purely formal character, inthe manner that I have indicated. It is the usual, custom to put the question that a paper ;.be printed without waiting for a further formal motion.
– I desire your ruling as to whether it is not the proper procedure to receive the report, and then make the question of whether it should be printed the subject of a subsequent motion. Even if the custom has been otherwise, that would be the better practice. Of course, I accept your ruling that the custom has been asyou state.
– Standing order. 35s states -
Upon the presentation of a report no discussion shall take place, but the report may be ordered to be printed with the documents accompanying it.
In accordance with the usual custom, the question was put from the Chair that the report be printed. Any further motion must be postponed until a later stage.
– I think the objection to the motion I desired leave to move was raised under a misapprehension. My desire is simply to move that the Committee be empowered to deal with the question of inserting sub-headings and other alterations proposed to be made in reprints of honorable members’ speeches from Hansard. I now ask for leave accordingly.
– I am very anxious, as a new occupant of the Chair, to do everything to convenience honorable members; but it is hardly fair to ask the Chair to reverse its decision when a step has been definitely taken by the House. In the circumstances, although it is against precedent for me to do so, I shall again put the question that the Prime Minister have leave to move the motion.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Leaveis granted; the Prime Minister may proceed.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the Printing Committee, in conjunction with the Printing Committee of the Senate, have power to draw up rules in regard to the headings in reprints of speeches from Hansard supplied to honorable members at their own expense.
.- This is undoubtedly a considerable departure from what was understood earlier in the discussion. I do not think it wise to delegate even to the Printing Committee the question of deciding whether there shall be sub-headings or any alterations in the speeches which honorable members may desire to publish. It is true that there must be some controlling authority, but I greatly prefer that the question be left entirely in the hands of yourself, Mr. Speaker, the Hansard staff, and the Government Printer.
– They have refused.
– They would naturally refuse to allow anything to be published which is not contained in the official Hansard report. If you, sir, indicate that you have nothing to do with any alteration of Hansard outside of the official report, I agree with you. That is a wise position for you to take up, and certainly a doubly wise and safe position for the Principal Parliamentary Reporter to take up. Nevertheless, I doubt the competency of the Printing Committee to deal effectively with the question. There appear to be two courses open. One is to reprint exactly from Hansard as officially published, while the other is to allow honorable members to add anything to the official report at their own risk and expense if they so desire. Those alternatives can be argued and debated. If some honorable members have recently erred, they have followed very distinguished delinquents, because both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have inserted very telling cross-headings, which in no way appeared in their speeches as published in Hansard.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member for Wide Bay must not discuss the merits of the question, and that it is in order only to discuss whether the question be dealt with by the House or referred to a Committee of the House.
– I understand the honorable member for Wide Bay to be giving reasons why the question should not be referred to -the Printing Committee. In doing so, he is entitled to give illustrations showing the danger of the course proposed by the Prime Minister.
– We are always glad to have authorities pointing out the risks that we run of transgressing the Standing Orders, and nothing is more natural than that the correction should come from a recent recruit to the position of Temporary Chairman of Committees. You, sir, correctly interpreted my intention when you said I was simply illustrating the early errors that honorable members -had apparently fallen into. All this trouble arises from the action of a member of the Government, backed up by the Government. The Prime Minister, in moving to remit the question to a Committee, is waiving the responsibility that has already been taken by one of his colleagues.
– My colleague disclaimed the responsibility.
– Then by whose authority was action taken? I heard the Treasurer say that the order was given on his initiative and by his action.
– It was referred to me by the Government Printer.
– I do not wish to go into that matter; but I understood the Treasurer to say a few days ago that he had put a stop to the practice.
– I said that I had adhered to the only decision that had been given upon the matter.
– By Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister of Australia?
– And by Sir George Turner when Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
– It is, after all, a very small matter. I do not think that the Committee is a suitable body to deal with it ; but I have no desire to waste any time in discussing the question.
– I suggest to honorable members the advisableness of passing the motion that the report be printed, before I proceed to state the motion which the Prime Minister by leave, desires to move. The question is -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question now is-
That the Printing Committee, in conjunction with the Printing Committee of the Senate, have power to draw up rules in regard to the headings in reprints of speeches from Hansard, supplied to honorable members at their own expense.
– I should like to explain, Mr. Speaker, that my sole reason for objecting to the motion for printing the report was that I desired, before it was put, to ascertain whether I had correctly understood your statement as to the way in which matters of this sort ought to be submitted. I have seen to-day for the first time a reprint from Hansard, published in pamphlet form, of a speech delivered by the Prime Minister, in which some fairly strong cross-headings have been inserted. In the first place, the cover, on which is printed the title, “ Policy of the New Government contrasted with the Labour Policy “ - “By the Honorable Alfred Deakin, M.P.” - is an extraordinary one. Those lines did not appear in Hansard, but they have been printed in the Government Printing Office, and I find, amongst other cross-headings in this reprint the line, “ Cut-throat Tactics.” This speech was delivered on 24th June, 1909, and the reprint is certainly worth looking at. When this question was first brought before the House, I thought that the Treasurer was making a mountain out of a mole-hill.
– The honorable member proposed to insert in a reprint from Hansard of one of his speeches a cross-heading that something was a disgrace to Parliament.
– The Treasurer does not quite understand what is and what is not a disgrace to Parliament. I do not wish to import any heat into this discussion; but, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, I fail to see that objection can be taken to reprints of honorable members’ speeches at their own expense, if the Hansard report is adhered to, and the cross-headings introduced are not of an offensive character. It would be idle for honorable members to obtain reprints of their speeches, if they have to be submitted to the censorship . of the Treasurer, and the right honorable gentleman is to be permitted to allow only such cross-headings as he considers suit the policy of his party.
– I should object to do anything of the kind.
– Where would the Treasurer get the power to do such a thing?
– I do not know. I have never seen reprints from Hansard “ doctored “ to such an extent as some by the Treasurer have been. I compared one or two of the Treasurer’s reprints with the Hansard report, and I believe I found that more slices had been cut out, and more junks inserted in them, than in the case of any others I have examined. I do not think that this question should be referred to the Printing Committee, for that would be a roundabout method of settling it. At the present time, I have with the Government Printer an order for a reprint of a speech delivered by me in this House.
– Here is a list of cross-headings which the honorable member proposed to insert in a reprint of one of his speeches.
– All this indicates that the whole thing has been readied up. Public time is to be wasted in this way.
– The Treasurer has handed to me a paper setting forth a “ list of headings from speech by the Honorable Sir William Lyne, on the motion of want of confidence on Thursday, 8th July.” The list is as follows : “ A Conspiracy of Silence.” “ Engineering the Fusion.” “ Early Federal Political Moves.” “ The Late Mr. Kingston’s Retirement.” “ Sir John Forrest’s Resignation.” “ Sir John Forrest’s Intriguing.” “Labour Party’s Influence.” “The Employers’ Federation.” “Mr. J. Cook and Naval Defence.” “Mr. J. Cook’s Many Roles.” “ The Prime Minister’s Colleagues include
Black Labour Advocates.” “ The New Liberal League.” “Where is the Fusion Programme.” “ Protection Sold.” “ Tariff Anomalies.” “The Dreadnought Offer.” “ Prime Minister Driven by Conservatives.” “Land Tax.” “ Navigation Bill.” “The States Debts Question.” “ The Commonwealth Disgraced.”
I should not have occupied time in reading these headings, but for the opinion expressed by the Treasurer that they are a disgrace to Parliament. My opinion is. that honorable members should be allowed to use headings if the headings are in consonance with the body of the speech ; and I should be quite prepared to leave their propriety to the judgment of any reasonable person. It is about four weeks, or more, since I asked for copies of my speech, and I was told that I could not have them within three weeks. If permission for printing has to filter through the Committee, the delay may be interminable; and, under the circumstances, 1 cannot see what use the Printing Office would be in assisting honorable members to circulate their speeches. As a matter of fact, I did not desire to have any headings inserted in the speech, but they were inserted by my clerk.
– Honorable members have no right to use the Printing Office for this purpose.
– If the printing is paid for by honorable members, what harm is done?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I have had to call honorable members to order several times. It is extremely difficult for the occupant of the chair to do his duty to the House and to individual members if it is made impossible for him to hear what is going on. The question before us is whether something shall be referred to a Committee; and I ask the honorable member not to attempt to discuss the merits of the question, or any other matters which will more properly come before us when the report of the Committee is submitted.
– I think it will be admitted that I made no endeavour to transgress that ruling. The honorable member for the Grampians suggests that honorable members ought to have the work done by some outside printing office, and, doubtless, he has means to enable him to take that step.
– So have others.
– Honorable members have very few privileges in this regard, and this one was granted, when there was suppression of speeches by the public press, to enable honorable members to place their utterances before their constituents. It seems to me to be against the spirit and intention of the permission in the first instance to prevent or delay honorable members in circulating their speeches in this way.
.- I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof, “ the only reprints permitted be an exact reproduction of Hansard.”
I submit this amendment because it represents the only straightforward course, and the only way to prevent a great deal of trouble and recrimination. If the motion be carried, the Committee will consider the matter, and we shall have the same discussions and exhibitions as we have had in the past, with no finality.
– I second the amendment, because I think that, as these reprints bear the imprint of the Government Printer, and purport to be copies of the Hansard, they ought to be exact copies.
– Supposing there were an error, how would the honorable member manage ?
– Honorable members have ample opportunity to revise their proofs, and see that what is published in Hansard is correct. If honorable members desire to. circulate their speeches with additions, or emendations, they may do so by having them set up and printed by some outside firm. Why this printing should be done at the Government Printing Office, when there are so many printers outside awaiting employment, is a matter for honorable members opposite to consider. We understand that when the type is once set up, the mere printing of so many copies is very much cheaper than having the whole of the work done outside; and it is for that reason that members have the privilege now under discussion, instead of being compelled to circulate complete copies of Hansard. But if honorable members reprint speeches, they ought to be issued with the limitations which appear in Hansard, without headings or emendations. If the work were done outside, and the printer’s name appeared on each copy, the public would know that they did not represent reprints of Hansard, but were a production by an honorable member himself.
.This amendment is obviously useless, because it simply means what the Treasurer himself desires, and has already laid down as the rule to be followed. The honorable member for Maribyrnong wishes us to declare that Hansard shall not be altered. I think that that is unnecessary. It is the duty of the Hansard staff and the Government Printer to see that speeches are not altered.
– I mean that reprints are not altered from the original.
– Then the honorable member should say what he means. A file which the Treasurer has handed to me shows that the Prime Minister was allowed to insert biting sub-headings in the reprint of a speech, without notice being taken of it. The three speeches which are under review are all of them speeches of members of the Opposition.
– Because in those cases the privilege has been abused.
Mr.FISHER.- The Treasurer has admitted that he has used sub-headings in reprints of his speeches, and that he has made considerable emendations. Yet it has been thought necessary to deal with subheadings inserted by honorable members on this side. Members representing distant States are at a great disadvantage compared with the representatives of Victoria, and members of the Opposition are at a still greater disadvantage compared with Ministerialists. Speeches made by honorable members opposite are delivered “ right side up with care” by the press, but our speeches, if published at all, are distorted. Of course, there are persons living in Victoria, and members of this Parliament, who think that the Commonwealth is contained in Victoria and New South Wales. Apparently it is being attempted to prevent the people of distant States from knowing what takes place here. This action is quite in keeping with what the Government has done since it took office. Its policy is to suppress everything that tells against it, and to publish everything that may speak in its favour. Ministerialists should remember, however, that they have behind them the monetary influence of Australia, and should rely on their intelligence for the proper putting of their case, even though sub-headings may be used in the reprinting of Opposition speeches.
– There is not more money behind the Ministerial party than there is behind the Opposition party.
– Why, one member of the Ministerial party could buy up the whole House !
– But he would not think of doing it.
Other honorable members interjecting,
– The difficulty of obtaining a hearing for speakers seems to be increasing. I ask honorable members to assist me in the maintenance of order, and appeal to the supporters of the honorable member for Wide Bay to give him an opportunity to make his views understood.
– I have in my hand a letter from the Government Printer to the honorable member for Gwydir, dated 30th July, in which he says -
I desire to inform you that recently my attention was directed to the fact that reprints of members’ speeches were not always exact copies ofHansard.
The Treasurer left on my mind the impression that the Government Printer drew his attention to this matter.
– That is so.
– But it is evident that some one drew the attention of the Government Printer to it.
– It may have been one of his own officers.
– Let us hope that no honorable member would do such a thing. It is evident that the Government Printer was moved by some one else, though who that person was I do not care. I have a suggestion which I should like the House to consider. Honorable members who have their speeches reprinted, desire to make the reprints as acceptable as possible to their constituents, and if, in furtherance of that desire, they have certain words separated from the text, and printed in special type by way of sub-headings, to attract the attention of readers, I think that should be allowed. It must, be remembered that they would pay the cost involved in any such arrangement, and it is necessary to emphasize the fact that these reprints are paid for by the members issuing them. I cannot conceive of injury being done to any one by this practice, it being understood that only words which have been actually spoken and printed in the official record may be used for headings. I would not vote with the honorable member for Maribyrnong to prevent the use of headings altogether. If members desire to use such headings as I suggest, they are entitled to use them, especially in those cases in which only this means exists for making their views known to distant constituencies.
.- The suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is one which it would be difficult to act upon without some such abuse as that about which we are now complaining creeping in. The question is, not what crossheadings shall be allowed, but whether pamphlets announced as reprints from Hansard should be accurate reprints, or whether, in the endeavour to make their speeches more interesting to readers, headlines should be employed by those authorizing the reprints. In my opinion, the time has come for the House to put a stop to the present abuse. I had personally no idea that the use of cross-headings has recently become so common. I do not think that I have had any of my speeches reprinted for some years past, and I have certainly never inserted cross-headings. Probably the majority of honorable members are innocent of the practice which has been brought under notice. The Leader of the Opposition wishes us to believe that no harm will be done to any one if members pay for the cost of separating the type, in order to insert cross-headings, but I differ from him. If honorable members use a Government Department, which was not instituted for the purpose, in order to issue their speeches at cost price in the form supposed to be most attractive to readers, they get their work done for about half what they would have to pay in the open market, and take employment from the honest workmen in the printing trade of Australia. Of course, one has only to mention the honest workmen to be greeted by them with mirth if the privileges of members of the Labour party are in question.
– What does the honorable member care about the workmen?
– No one is less competent to criticise an honorable member in connexion with a matter of this kind than is the honorable member himself.
– Does the honorable member think himself competent?
– I do not arrogate to myself any position of pre-eminence in dealing with a matter of this kind. Of course, if my argument cannot be answered, honorable gentlemen must try to drown it by sound. By using the Government Printing Office for the circulation of their speeches, honorable members are taking work from the honest unionists in the printing trade throughout Australia.
– Why, they are employed in the Government Printing Office !
– There are a few there.
– They are all there.
– The honorable member wishes us to believe that the only unionists in the printing trade are to be found in the Government Printing Office !
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– Then I fail to understand the honorable member.
– What he suggested was that all the employes inthe Government Printing Office are unionists.
– Why does he desire to give preference to these particular unionists ?
Mr.Chanter. - The honorable member is pleading for the poor men outside.
– Yes. I am not pleading for those who have fixed billets. If honorable members opposite could get their speeches published as cheaply by private offices as by the Government Printing Office, we should have no debates of this kind. For reasons of economy and accuracy the abuse which has been brought under notice should be stopped. Anything we say in the House ought to be reproduced absolutely as it appears in Hansard, or not at all. I am grateful to the honorable member for Maribyrnong for putting the issue plainly before us. It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition to say that there is nothing new in the amendment, and that we might just as well have left it to the Treasurer, but I hope honorable members will be prepared to accept the responsibility for any action which they wish to be taken. I do not desire to throw the responsibility upon the Treasurer, any more than he wishes to assume it. I feel that it is our duty, by our votes, to show clearly whether we pay more regard to our privileges than to the rights of workmen outside the Government Printing Office. Do honorable members believe that a speech reprinted with the statement on the cover that it is an exact copy of the parliamentary report-
– That does not appear on the cover at all.
– That is the inference. The statement that appears is “Reprint from parliamentary Hansard.” Does not the honorable member know that when he puts a cross-heading in his speech what purports to be a reprint from the parliamentary Hansard becomes no longer so? Does he wish to publish broadcast on the cover of a speech a statement which is deliberately false? I take it that when this matter is put fairly and squarely before honorable members, they must, without flinching the issue, vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– I wish to point out to the Treasurer that, while the Printing Committee will be quite willing to deal with the question, they can only make a recommendation, which will have to be discussed and dealt with in the House, and may be referredback to them. At this moment, the speeches of a number of honorable members are being held up. Would it not be fair to allow the speeches that have been ordered to be delivered as they are in no sense worse than others that have already been reprinted?
– I have already said I am not going to take any responsibility in the matter.
– Is the Treasurer not prepared to do what he has done in his own case?
– Why has the Treasurer stopped the insertion of cross-headings?
– I have answered that question.
– As the Treasurer does not know how to. show ordinary civility, I will put the question to the Prime Minister, from whom I think I will get civility. I do not want to move an amendment, and shall not do so if the Prime Minister will give us an assurance that no further speeches will be allowed to be reprinted with cross-headings until the House has arrived at some conclusion on the matter, but that the speeches which have already been ordered shall be printed and delivered. If this had not been a onesided affair, I should not have asked for even that concession. It has been pointed out that there is nothing in the crossheadings that will compare with what has been allowed to be published by honorable members on the Ministerial side. In the speech of the honorable member for Yarra, for instance, no exception can be taken to the cross-headings, unless it be to two words which in themselves are not objectionable. The honorable member is, however, willing to substitute “ Answered “ f or “ Refuted.” Why then should the honorable member have to wait for several weeks longer before he can distribute that speech among his constituents ? It is most unfair. We do not know whether the House will accept the recommendations of the Printing Committee when they are made. I am sorry the honorable member for Wentworth has left the chamber, for I wished to tell him that if honorable members on this side could afford to run motorcars they could afford to go to a private printer, as he suggested, instead of to the Government Printing Office. His remarks were beside the question. If we did not get the speeches reprinted at the Government Printing Office, we should not get them reprinted at all, and many unionists would be deprived of work. That is what the honorable member would really like to see. Instead of having sympathy with them, he wants to take away what little work they have. Honorable members get their speeches reprinted at the Government Printing Office, because the greatest cost of production is the cost of setting up or linotyping. The speeches are already in type there, and the only cost to the Government Printer is that of the paper, printing, and insertion of cross-headings. I have only had two speeches reprinted, and I have nor altered a letter of Hansard. If I had been compelled to go to a private printing office, I could not have afforded the reprints; yet that is the only means which my constituents have of knowing what is going on in the House. I reprinted those speeches at their special request. They said to me: “ We do not know what you are doing in the Federal Parliament. Cannot something be clone to let us know what is going on there ? ‘ ‘
– They get copies of Hansard all the same.
– If the honorable member delivered a long speech, he would know that many readers would not care to read the whole of it, whereas if they could glance down the cross-headings, they could pick out the parts in which they were specially interested. I can understand the action of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, because he is the darling of the Melbourne press, and gets all the publicity necessary ; but will he contrast what he gets withthe treatment accorded to some of his Victorian colleagues in this Parliament ? I am sure that for every sentence that the others are given, he is given columns. I object to his amendment. I entirely agree that not a letter of Hansard ought to be altered but that is no reason why bold cross-headings should not appear in the reprints. I have had speeches published in the press, although not many. I could get them published in Adelaide if I paid a column. Honorable members can therefore see the handicap to which poor candidates are subjected in South Australia as against wealthy ones. If a man is wealthy, he can get a report covering a whole page of a newspaper; but if he is poor, he is given half a column, and not another sentence during the whole of the election campaign. Is it not time, therefore, that honorable members were given some facility to acquaint their constituents with what takes place in this Parliament ?
– We want a daily Hansard.
– Yes; and therefore I hope my motion which appears on the notice-paper will be carried. Then those who so desire will be able to learn what is going on in the Federal Parliament ; but until that time comes, we ought to give what other facilities we can. It is very easy, without altering a line of Hansard, to pick out and make a cross-heading of a striking word or phrase in a speech. I do not want to see new matter introduced, for that is neither right nor necessary. I cannot understand why this privilege should be taken away at this moment, unless it is that honorable members opposite desire, if possible, to suppress everything said on this side. Unless that were so, action would have been taken against a Minister who dared, not merely to insert cross-headings, but to mutilate Hansard. The Treasurer actually cut out all the interjections - a most objectionable proceeding on his part.
– I was told it was permissible.
– What authority told the honorable gentleman that? Let us know who the censor is, becauseI want to refer a question or two to him myself
– The honorable member will not get the information from me.
– The Treasurer tells us that some one has the power to say what shall and what shall not go into reprints of speeches. When I ask him who that is, he refuses to inform me. I can come to no other conclusion than that the
Treasurer told the Treasurer that whatever the Treasurer desired was right.
– It was not a Minister.
– Surely the House has a right to know who it was. The House is entitled to any information in the possession of Ministers. The Treasurer says he knows who has the power to decide who can mutilate Hansard and who cannot. If so, there must be a conspiracy.
– There is a Guy Fawkes in it somewhere.
– There must be a Guy Fawkes conspiring with Ministers to prevent honorable members from having their opinions conveyed to their constituents. I favour the motion, and I am sure the Printing Committee will do all they can to formulate recommendations acceptable to the House, but I want a reasonable promise from the Prime Minister with regard to the speeches that have already been ordered. I am sure those honorable members whose speeches are now hung up will be quite willing to submit the headings to the Prime Minister) It is only fair that he should put them in exactly the same position as he and the Treasurer have occupied up to the present. If Ministers have had their speeches printed and distributed, surely it is fair to grant others the same right? After this, however, I should not permit any other member to insert crossheadings. We should come to a conclusion upon the question, but I never heard of such an unfair proceeding as to hang up members’ speeches for weeks, and possibly months, without warning. If the Prime Minister cannot give me the assurance I ask for, I shall have to move a further amendment, to add to the motion the words -
And other speeches already ordered shall be printed and delivered.
– I support the honorable member for Maribyrnong’s amendment. I regard the discussion as a storm in a teacup, but should like to take members back to 1903, to show that some of them have probably abused a privilege. It is in the interests of the Government Printing Office and of Parliament itself that the practice that has grown up should be stopped. I propose to read a letter addressed by the Government Printer to Sir George Turner - then Treasurer of the Commonwealth - in 1903, and the instruction that was issued as the result of that communication. The letter is as follows : -
Government Printing Office,
Melbourne, 4th September, 1903.
Sir, - Some members of the Federal Parliament have had their speeches in Parliament as reported in Hansard subsequently printed in pamphlet form at their own cost. While these speeches in pamphlet form were not altered from the original in Hansard, they have always been supplied without demur. But I have now in hand two speeches wherein alteration is desired by each member. I communicated by telephone with the Chief Reporter respecting these alterations. He approached Mr. Speaker on the subject, who considered that it was not within the scope of his duties to interpose. Mr. Speaker therefore desired that the matter should be submitted for the consideration of the Honorable the Treasurer. Furthermore, he authorized me to state that in his opinion no discrepancies should be allowed as between the speeches as reported in Hansard and as printed in pamphlet form.
I have therefore the honour to submit the question for your consideration. I would add that if the discrepancies referred to be permitted, the question will arise as to which is the correct report of such speeches, and so tend to discredit the correctness of the speeches as reported in Hansard.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
The Hon. the Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
That puts the whole matter in a nutshell. Sir George Turner minuted the letter as follows : -
For the consideration of the Prime Minister. I do not think it right that the G.P. should print anything except an exact copy of the Hansard. Matter very urgent as type has to be kept standing.
T. (Treasurer), 4/9/03.
The papers were then sent to Sir Edmund Barton, who was then Prime Minister, and who wrote at the foot of the Treasurer’s memorandum, thewords. “ I concur.” The present Treasurer recently received from the Government Printer a letter submitting the cross-headings proposed to be inserted in a reprint from Hansard of a speech delivered by an honorable member who had ordered a large number of copies. The letter contained the following paragraph : -
Attention is invited to the title page, also printing at the bottom of last page, also extra title page at the back of the sheets.
That communication gave rise to the present discussion. The Treasurer determined to act in accordance with the decision given by the Prime Minister in 1903, and on 22nd July last, replied to the Government Printer as follows : -
As it appears that difficulties are sure to arise in departing from the instructions issued by the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, on9th September, 1903, at the instance of Sir George Turner I am of opinion that the wisest course will be strictly to adhere to them.
In future any copies of speeches of members issued by the Government Printer at their expense must be an exact copy of Hansard. No head-lines are to be allowed, and interjections must remain.
This ruling is to be strictly adhered to.
If covers are required, the following words may be printed thereon -
Speech delivered on the … in the (House of Representatives or Senate) by . . . . on … *
John Forrest, 26th July, 1909.
Under this decision, honorable members will not be debarred from obtaining as many reprints as they desire of speeches delivered by them in the House, and reported in Hansard. The introduction of cross-headings, however, is objectionable, because, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh said, by the omission of a sentence, or the introduction of a headline, a totally wrong impression might be conveyed.
– I said that honorable members ought not tobe allowed to alter a word of the Hansard report.
– But by means of headlines the facts could be so distorted as to convey a wrong impression to the public. Honorable members opposite will notbe debarred from obtaining as many reprints from Hansard as they desire, but I contend that it is altogether wrong to allow the official record to be distorted in what purports to be a reprint from Hansard, issued by the Government Printer. I hope that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong will be carried. I have heard that a number of printers are out of employment, and I know that many firms possess the plant necessary to enable them to undertake work of this kind at a reasonable price. Sir George Turner pointed out in his memorandum that the question was urgent, as a large quantityof type had tobe kept standing, and I have heard today that the type used in the Hansard report of some of these speeches has’ been kept standing for three weeks. In other words, a large quantity of type has been locked up.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter.
– Possibly I know a great more about a printing office than does the honorable member.
– The linotype is now used.
– A printing office in which a large business is carried on has to keep large fonts of type to permit of matter being kept standing for weeks at a stretch. The honorable member for Hume, according to a statement that has been read to-day, proposed to insert in ‘a reprint of one of his speeches the cross-heading, “The Commonwealth disgraced.” Does he not think that the Commonwealth is being disgraced by this frivolous discussion? What is proposed by the Government is not to interfere with the privileges of honorable members, but to prevent an abuse of those privileges. All that we are seeking to do is to prevent a distortion of the facts, and I think that honorable members should be well satisfied when they are able to obtain for publication in pamphlet form the correct Hansard report of their speeches.
– - The outstanding feature of this discussion is the desire of those who now constitute the majority in the House to prevent the speeches of members of the Opposition being made public.
– The honorable member for Grampians has read the instruction which Sir George Turner gave to the Government Printer some six years ago, and which has not been observed from that day to this. Had the relations which, until recently, existed between a part of the present Fusion and the Labour party continued we should not have had to-day the spectacle of the honorable member for Maribyrnong rising to move such an amendment as that which he has submitted. He would have seen the heavens fall, or even the fire tower totter, before he would have taken such an action. Honorable members opposite know that, although they have at their command the press of Australia, they are steadily losing ground. The speeches delivered by the Opposition are finding a more ready audience than is agreeable to them, and that, I think, is the beginning and the end of their complaint. The honorable member for Grampians and the honorable member for Wentworth have reduced the matter to an absurdity. The honorable member for Wentworth affects to be overwhelmed with feelings of pity for the poor unemployed printer. Nothing funnier has been heard of for centuries.
– Yes; there is the sorrow of the honorable member for his prosperous clients in the Arbitration Court.
– The honorable member seeks to introduce into this House methods which, although tolerated elsewhere, are fast becoming effete. From his seat in the Ministerial corner he seems to regard the whole House in a superior and altogether delightful way ; but he has as much idea of the work of the world as a butterfly has of casting an 81-ton gun. And yet he claims to be sorry for the un-‘ employed printer ! The honorable member for Grampians says that he knows of many printers who are out of work.
– I said that I was told that there are many out of work.
– The honorable member suggested that unemployed printers would find permanent employment if we gave them this work. Yet both he and the honorable member for Wentworth propose to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, which will result, if in anything, in the work of reprinting speeches being still carried on at the Government Printing Office. The only change that it will make is that no extra money will be received for the introduction of cross-headings.
– Then the amendment will not prevent the distribution of reprints of speeches by the Opposition.
– The honorable member gave as a reason for supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong that it would find work for outside printers. He knows, however, that that would not be the result of its adoption. We have heard a great deal as to the correctness of Hansard, and as to the desirableness of these reprints being an actual reproduction of Hansard, but when Hansard becomes a faithful report of what honorable members actually say in this House, there will be little short of a revolution in the country.
– -Let Hansard report honorable members as they speak, and preserve all their grammatical inaccuracies.
– I am not excepting my own speeches from the statement I have just made. Alterations in form but not in substance are properly allowed, because when an honorable member is addressing the Chamber, he is so torn by conflicting emotions, and troubled with interjections that his delicate equilibrium is disturbed, and he recovers himself only with difficulty. It is desirable, and, indeed, necessary, therefore, to present a readable report of what he would have said had he been addressing an audience having the manners to listen to him, and, in the circumstances, I think it is right that honorable members should have the privilege of making alterations in form, but not in substance, of the Hansard proofs of their speeches. Hansard, however, is notoriously deficient in one absolute essential, if the people are to read it, and that is that the speeches are not printed in paragraphs. A new subject is introduced in the middle of a line, whereas every new subject dealt with in the course of a speech should be introduced in a new paragraph. Hansard ought to be paragraphed, just as reports in newspapers are, or just as the Bible is. I venture to say that many men would not read the Bible if it were printed like the Hansard reports are, as one uninterrupted narrative. If it is desired to reprint speeches, the stereos could be bought from the Government Printer and used in a private printing office; and the Government Printer would thus be put to no inconvenience. But itis a good thing for the Government Printing Office to have this work to do ; and the same amount of work is given there as in a private office. The fundamental distinction between honorable members is that on the Government side are men clamouring for private enterprise, whose champions and servants they are. If the speeches of those gentlemen were put in the press bare and unadorned–
– They would not be returned again !
– I am not saying that they are the only men whose speeches could not bear that treatment. But how does the press build up a man’s reputation? It keeps his speech in a little corner, while the leader writer or reporter, in a more prominent part of the paper, says, “ Mr. So-and-so pointed out last night very acutely so-and-so,” and everybody says, “ That was a fine speech our member delivered !” But as for reading the speech, they have never been known to do it ! The press builds up the reputation of my honorable friends opposite and I do not object to that. But we on this side ought to be al- . lowed, in our own puny, tin-pot way, to supply the people with the basic elements upon which the newspaper reports are founded. We do not ask that our speeches shall be dressed up ; and as to cross-headings I think the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay a very fair one. I should be perfectly prepared to allow the Hansard staff to say whether suggested cross-headings were proper, just as they are allowed to say what alterations are proper in the form of the report. If that were done there would be no difficulty or trouble. The Chief of the Hansard staff already has a far greater power, inasmuch as he determines the extent to which corrections shall be made. Several honorable members go to a considerable extent in making corrections; and, no doubt, a man likes his speech to read easily and to be as elegant in form as he can make it. I take no exception to that, but regard it as very desirable on the part of those who like to take the trouble, so long as we have a perfectly impartial authority to determine what is or what is not a material alteration. If that authority were extended to the crossheadings, we should have no reason for complaint ; but it is intolerable that the Government should declare cross-headings to be a dangerous innovation, when everybody knows that the real reason for their action is that parties are as they are. Our speeches contain those disagreeable truths which, whether they are cross-headed or not, are getting home to the people; but I do not deny that they get home all the more if there are cross-headings. It is for that particular reason that the Government have determined to abolish cross-headings; and I hope that the House will accept either the reasonable suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay, or the one I made myself, to leave the Hansard staff to determine what is or what is not a proper crossheading. If that were done, the new-born zeal to purge the utterances of honorable members on this side from anything disagreeable or annoying would perhaps die. The Treasurer and other honorable gentlemen opposite are alert to put us in our places - to determine what books we shall read and what speeches we shall make, and how we shall head them. However, I realize that, even if a man were gifted with the tongues of angels, or if he were like the cherubim and continually did cry, he would not alter the vote by one fifty-millionth part of a hair’s-breadth. Honorable gentlemen opposite have been announcing their freedom to a sceptical people. They have been here eight weeks, and they are signalizing their freedom in a way which was never attempted in the ‘House before - they are going to vote to-night which way the Government tell them,, lest they should be left off the Fusion ticket.
– I am a member of the Printing Committee ; but I approve of neither the proposal of the Prime Minister nor the amendment. The duty of the custodian of the privileges of Parliament rests with the Speaker, and he ought to say what shall or shall not be printed, at the instance of honorable members. The Hansard reports are not a true record of the remarks made by honorable members, but a very capable summary ; a.nu there is no reason whatever, so far as I can see, for objection to the raising of a line occasionally, so as to give point to the subjects touched on. Such head-lines make a report all the more readable, and do not interfere with the ordinary literary context. The head-lines are taken from the body of the speech, and are used so that people may grasp the ideas expressed more readily ; and, as I say, they give additional interest, and make the speeches more widely’ read. Further, I think that the reprinting of speeches should be encouraged, because honorable members have not the means to place their utterances before their constituents in any other way. There are but few honorable members who have the privilege of being reported in the press; and these are the pet men of the press, which booms them from time to time all over Australia. The electors have no way of learning what is being done by their representatives generally other than by a reproduction of the speeches. Is it because these reprints can be obtained cheaply that exception is taken to their publication by the Government Printer? It must be so, or otherwise, if money were no consideration, honorable members could go to private firms, and have the reprints issued in their own way. But the expense is a great consideration ; so great, that if the work were done elsewhere than in the Government Printing Office, honorable members must forego the opportunity to place their constituents in possesion pf their views. In the interests of the electors, we should allow these reprints, because to-day the press is governing this Parliament. The press makes the policy of the Government - it will boom any policy that it foreshadows - and when the policy is a failure it will urge the throwing out of the Government. Our only appeal to the people is by the republication of the Hansard speeches; but I have no sympathy with those who would alter the reports. Hansard gives a very excellent summary, and with the Speaker should rest the responsibility of saying what should or should not be a cross-heading. It is only fair that nothing offensive, or likely to injure another honorable member should be permitted ; but I have every confidence in the Speaker. Of course, if the Speaker did what was unfair - a thing of which he is incapable - we should have the matter in our own hands, because he would, on the floor of the House, have to give an account of his stewardship. I shall not release the Speaker from the responsibility of being censor; and I hope the Hansard reports will be brought under his notice from time to time, so that jio honorable member shall take the liberty of cutting out an interjection. Such a deletion, I regard as most unfair. We know that interjections are not reported unless the honorable member who is speaking, refers to them ; and it is unjust to remove an interjection and leave in the reference that caused it. The republication of speeches is really an increased circulation of Hansard, and will do good rather than harm.
.- Some honorable members seem to confuse the form with the essence. The honorable, member for Wentworth objects to crossheadings, or to any republication except in’ exactly the same form as the speech may occur in Hansard. No honorable member has urged that any word should be addedto or taken away from the speeches. ; and” hence there is no division of opinion on that point. As already pointed out, the form of the Hansard reports is entirely out of date. All who know anything of newspaper or printing work, are aware that the. tendency is to break up matter into paragraphs, and to indicate the separate subjects dealt with. I suppose that the honorable member for Wentworth would object to the Hansard report being broken up into paragraphs, and would have us adhere to the old-fashioned method. The honorable member and others have suggested that the printing could be done by outside firms; but in this there is a real danger. Both those who oppose and those who support head-lines, agree that any speeches published should be reprints of them as reported by the Hansard staff. If the printing were done outside, there could be no check ; and we have had some experience already of alterations made evenunder the present system. I was certainly very much surprised to hear the Treasurer publicly admit that he had cut out portions of his speech, and still more surprised to hear no condemnation of that conduct from the honorable members behind the Government. It would seem that anything the Government do is right, while everything that we on this side do is wrong. In view of the danger I have indicated, there should be no encouragement given to the reprinting of speeches outside the Government Printing Office when something may be put in that has not been said, making the publication misleading. I am at a loss to understand why the circulation of speeches should be discouraged. The honorable member for Maribyrnong seems to be tired of the Fusion, and therefore has moved to take the business of the House out of the hand’s of the Government. He wishes us to be bound down to the Hansard form in the reprinting of our speeches. Really, the House should not be called upon to discuss a question of this kind, because it is not big enough. The proper course is to submit the matter to the Printing Committee for the drafting of a regulation for the guidance of the Government Printer. The honorable members for Maribyrnong and Grampians appear to have no faith in the Printing Committee, and wish the House to deal with details with which it is unfitted to deal. Themembers of the Printing Committee know the feeling of the House, and can thresh out the matter without delaying public business. Our aim must be to secure the accurate publishing of Hansard. What has been said about taking work from outside printers is mere hypocrisy. If the work of the Government Printing Office is increased by the paragraphing of speeches, and the use of more frequent headings, extra hands will have to be employed. Therefore, the cheap sneer at the recognised friends of the workers who sit on this side of the chamber is unworthy of the honorable member who made it. As it has been continually suggested that speeches are reprinted for nothing, or at a very cheap rate, I would point out that no evidence has been adduced to show that they are not printed at a profit. Indeed, it is questionable whether they could not be done privately for less. What we have to do is, first, to see that the reports and reprints are accurate, and, secondly, that they are made as readable as possible. It is important that electors should take an interest in political questions, and the cir culation of Hansard in an, attractive form will encourage them to do so. This can be done without cost to the country, and at a profit to the Government Printing Office, members themselves bearing the expense. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has no consideration for the electors. Would he contend that the report should be literatim et verbatim, the speeches printed exactly as they are uttered, with all their redundancy, hesitancy, and repetition? If so, I do not agree with him. We are greatly indebted to our officials for the excellent reports which they make. I believe that the Commonwealth Hansard is the finest staff of reporters in the world. But the printing of Hansard could be improved. To my mind, it would be an advantage to break the speeches up into paragraphs. When a leading member makes an important address on a question like the Budget, he speaks on a number of separate subjects, and it would greatly facilitate reference, and make such a speech clearer, if each subject were given as a separate paragraph. It would also be an advantage to indicate by a heading the subject-matter of the paragraph. Similar information is given in connexion with the clauses of Bills, but the double-column measure used for the Hansard reports makes side-notes like those of clauses impossible. Such an arrangement would greatly convenience those honorable members who are fond of going back to the past, to find out what others have said.
– They have the index.
– No party suffers so much as the Opposition in having its speeches suppressed by the newspapers, but many Ministerialists get very brief reports. The Prime Minister was at one time in favour of making voting compulsory, but before that is done the electors should be given an. opportunity to get their political information at first hand. In Queensland there is a large circulation of Hansard, but the people of that State would know nothing of Federal politics, were it not for the Hansard reports. Honorable members, whatever their party, should encourage the circulation of Hansard, so that the electors may exercise their votes intelligently. I have a very poor opinion of the Government and its supporters, but I hardly think that honorable members opposite would act so meanly as to try to prevent Oppositionists from being heard by the country. The honorable member for Grampians seemed to think that he had made a most wonderful discovery in the letters which he read. But the Treasurer properly declined to be a censor of Hansard, and for Sir Edmund Barton and Sir George Turner to give to the Government Printer the direction whichwas sent to him in 1903 was an assumption of authority which they did not possess. The Government have done the right thing in bringing the matter before Parliament, and moving that it be referred to the Printing Committee.If there is to be a censor, Mr. Speaker should act, but before anything else is done, the Printing Committee should draft a rule dealing with the whole matter. We could then lay down the rule that reprints must be exact copies of Hansard. If, however, the Committee want to adhere to the present form of Hansard, and allow cross-headings, that can be done by breaking and setting up in larger type here and there a word or a line already appearing in the speech. That could possibly be left to the Government Printer, but the best person to superintend it would be the head of the Hansard staff. We have the utmost faith in the staff, for we have had experience of their work. I have no objection to leaving the matter to you, Mr. Speaker, but I understand that you very naturally do not care about undertaking it. The work, however, is exactly in the line of work of the Hansard staff. It would not impose greatly increased duties upon them, for it is only on big occasions that speeches are reprinted. I do not think there are enough reprints, and the practice should be encouraged. It would not take long for the head of the Hansard staff to see that the cross-headings were correct. I hope the motion to remit the matter to the Printing Committee will be carried. If it is, I commend to the Committee some of the suggestions that I have made. Our time this afternoon will not have been wasted if we get an improved production of Hansard, and an increased circulation of it, and induce more electors to read it.
.- You, Mr. Speaker, must consideryourself a very lucky man to-day, after hearing this debate, in having refused, as you did recently, to act as censor in regard to headlines. The honorable member for Maribyrnong does not propose by his amendment that Hansard shall not be improved, or that it shall not be brightened up by paragraphs. All he says is that as a member of the House he refuses to hand over to the Printing Committee the power to re commend what should or should not appear in what are called reprints of Hansard. Honorable members opposite suggest that those who oppose their right to insert display headings on their own initiative are simply the darlings of the gods or of the press, which in this case amounts to the same thing. They also insinuate that those who would refuse them that privilege are simply capitalists who can afford to circulate their own speeches. I am neither one nor the other, but I intend to oppose the practice in the best interests of Democracy. Honorable members in their own interests, if they believe in educating the public, should set their faces against the introduction to Australia of the dangerous spirit of pamphleteering that arose a few years back in France. It is one of the most dangerous innovations possible to democratic thought and teaching. Honorable members who say that they must put display head-lines in: their speeches are practically admitting that the electors are not keen enough on public affairs, or interested enough in their representatives to read the debates without them. That is an admission that the public already have enough material to read, and that their attention can only be seized by fancy head-lines.
– That is very far fetched.
– It is a fact. Although I have been sixteen years in public life, I have only once attempted to reprint a speech in pamphlet form, and I shall probably regret it ever afterwards. I agree with honorable members that we have much to thank Hansard for. It is certainly bad to cut out interjections as the Treasurer has done, because a speech itself is dead enough as it appears in Hansard, and if the interjections are cut out most of the speeches might as well be delivered to a morgue. Any man with half an eye can always tell the stuff that has been shovelled into the newspapers by public men who have got the ear of the press, either by paying for it as in South Australia, or by engineering it as in Melbourne or Sydney, because such matter always comes out dead, flat, and uninteresting, I would rather have a few lines in a report of a public meeting where there was life and vitality and interjections by the public, than the morgue-like speeches which some honorable members of influence - and, I will admit, of purse - get into the public press of Australia. I am astonished at honorable members asking that they themselves should write the head-lines, and that you, Mr. Speaker, should be the public censor of them. I cannot picture you holding that position for long. If I, for instance, with my occasionally captious spirit, caught the disease of issuing pamphlets, I could put before you headlines that would probably stagger you, and that you would at once object to. When the House met you would find the honorable member for Dalley on his feet pleading for fair-play, and so it would be in the cases of others, although you might think that you were acting judiciously in the interests of honorable members themselves. I am pleased that some honorable members opposite refuse to give this power to the Printing Committee, but why are many Labour members prepared to surrender their individuality to that body? Why give the Printing Committee the right to say what shall appear in their speeches ? Apparently men who profess to fight for liberty, advanced thought, and free parliamentary institutions, are ready to surrender to a Committee of this House for the time being the right to say what shall or shall not go out to the public.
– I suppose we must only surrender that power to the Treasurer ?
– It is not necessary to surrender it to anybody. The honorable member for Wide Bay has watered down his demands, for he now says he wants no other head-lines than words that appear in the speeches themselves. If I wanted an attractive head-line, I should have sufficient ingenuity to bring it into my speech. I could say, for instance, that the demand for freedom to draft their own head-lines came from “ Fisher’s frenzied followers,” and Hansard could be asked to make a head-line of that. I could further say that the demand was opposed, not by the capitalistic section, or by the darlings of the press, but because of “ Deakin’s Devilry Detected.” It is easy for honorable members when on their feet to be alliterative, if they so desire. The desire of some honorable members to write special head-lines of their own savours too much of the circus poster business. I agree with the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for Wide Bay that the press only report certain people, and injure certain other members of Parliament. I believe, with them, that the electors in the far distant parts of the Commonwealth should be afforded opportunities of learning what takes place in Parliament. The way to secure that is to establish a daily Hansard, as the honor able member for Hume proposes. But let that daily Hansard be as pure as purity itself, and let it be undefiled by the interference of any Printing Committee, or Speaker, or honorable member of the House. It should be left in the hands of the Hansard staff itself, We have had experience of the chief of the staff for some years, and I must say that if all our speeches were presented to the public in the way in which they are delivered in the House, very few of us would be returned again. I occasionally read in Hansard speeches which I have never heard delivered in this House, including some of my own. The beauty of the language employed by the Hansard staff is the thing that surprises me on many occasions. I admire their literary ability. I am told that some honorable members correct their speeches, but if that is so, I cannot understand what is the matter with them. They must have vanity beyond all conception if they attempt to correct their speeches after the Hansard staff have prepared them. I do not regard this afternoon as having been wasted, for the question is a most important one, affecting the interests of all honorable members. When honorable members opposite say that we on this side are in the hands of capitalists, let me tell them that during my term of public life no purse but my own has ever paid my electioneering expenses, or the cost of circulating my speeches, and no purse but my own will ever attempt to do so. When honorable members say that we oppose the practice which has grown up becausewe are the darlings of the press, or the mere instruments of rich corporations, they are not doing justice to themselves or to the position. There are greater dangers in members being allowed to tamper with their speeches, but I certainly think the Hansard staff could brighten the reports up by breaking them into paragraphs. They might be allowed discretion to do that, but the public certainly do not require that honorable members shall be allowed to lay traps in the shape of personal and offensive head-lines. I think the thing will cure itself, because if honorable members deluge Australia with their speeches on all occasions, the public simply will not read them. I would advise honorable members to read the reply of Robert Burns, one of the most Democratic poets that ever lived, to a gentleman who sent him a paper, and informed him that it would always be sent to him free. That will be found a most apt quotation for those who desire to inflict pamphlets on the community. Honorable members will not be prevented by the amendment of the honorable member for Maribyrnong from reprinting their speeches. They will still have the cheap and ready facility of the Government Printing Office to do so;. .nor does the honorable member for Maribyrnong say that Hansard shall not be improved or paragraphed, to make it more readable, but that is the work of the Hansard staff, and you, Mr. Speaker, will be the best director in that matter in the interests of the general public, as .you know no party. If things go much further, some honorable member who has a genius for sketching may in a few years ask to be allowed to publish his own speeches with illustrations. Another may ask, ‘ ‘ Why not allow me to furnish the Government Printing Office with blocks to be published in my reprints from Hansard, showing how Deakin looked after I had dealt with him, or how Fisher looked when I followed him?” If honorable members opposite were able to announce to the public, “ The honorable member for Dalley has been engaged to supply us with a few comic sketches which will appear in the next reprint of our speeches,” I am sure that their pamphlets would be far more widely read than they are. We now find honorable members opposite gradually drifting away from their original contention, that crossheadings should be permitted, and simply urging that Hansard should be made more readable. I shall support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has made a number of complaints as to the way in which certain rights and privileges of honorable members are disregarded, and if he follows his own line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, I do not think he will arrive at the determination, which he’ expects us to come to. r am sorry that the Prime Minister is not present, for I should like to know exactly what he had in mind in submitting this motion. I desire to receive an assurance that he does not propose to delegate to a practically irresponsible body the power of the House to determine whether honorable members shall be permitted to continue to obtain reprints of their speeches from the Government Printer.
– Perhaps I may facilitate the debate by informing the honorable member that the Prime Minister has intimated to me that he proposes at the proper time to ask leave to amend his motion by substituting for the word “rules,” the word “recommendations.” If that amendment be made the motion will provide that the Committee be directed to draw up recommendations, and those recommendations would have to be referred to the House.
– Such an amendment, Mr. Speaker, will entirely remove the objection that I intended to raise. I think it right that some properly constituted body should be called upon to make a recommendation that will be likely to do away with the friction that has arisen. I have before me the official papers relating to this matter. They appear to be records of the Treasury, but have been circulated so freely amongst honorable members, and have been referred to so often, that I think they should be made records of the House. These papers show that in the first place Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, declined to allow reprints from Hansard to be executed by the Government Printing Office. Subsequently the question of the introduction of headings in reprints was raised, and the decision which has already been quoted was arrived at. It appears that the present Treasurer recently intimated to the Government Printer that that decision must be strictly adhered to, but we find that he (was the first to depart from it. He broke the rule laid down by Sir Edmund Barton in a way which I think no honorable member has ever attempted to do, by omitting from reprints of his speeches from Hansard interjections which were made, probably with the object of correcting misrepresentations. In these reprints the right honorable gentleman preserved only the report of his own remarks. I do not think that an honorable member who has any consideration for his honour and reputation as a politician would ever dream of eliminating’ interjections from what purported to be a reprint from Hansard of a speech made by him in this House. Another peculiarity in connexion .with the official papers is- that only two or three honorable members are mentioned in them.
– Why should two or three honorable members of the Opposition be singled! out?
– That is a question that I intended to put. Is it another indication of the way in which the Government intend to’ carry on their party warfare? Do they intend to point out by means of these official papers what some honorable member on this side of the House has done, and to keep from the public that which Ministerialists have done? T believe that honorable members on the Government side of the House have distributed far more reprints of their speeches - and reprints in which crossheadings have been introduced - than have the Opposition. The Treasurer tried to belittle the honorable member for Hume by showing that he had sought to introduce certain cross-headings into a reprint from Hansard of a speech which he recently delivered in this House. I have a copy of that reprint before me, and find that it does not contain one cross-heading. As a matter of fact, the honorable member did1 not desire to use any, but a gentleman who was acting for him suggested that some should be inserted, with the result that there was prepared a list of cross-headings which the Treasurer has described as “ a disgrace to Parliament.” I have compared those cross-headings with the speech made in the House by the honorable member for Hume, and find! that there is not a word in any of them which was no!: actually used in the speech. If those headings are a disgrace to Parliament, why were they allowed to be uttered in this House? I think that the Treasurer brought forward this list with the deliberate intention of heaping contumely on honorable members on this side of the House. We all know that the daily newspapers are strongly partisan, and that the two great morning newspapers published in Melbourne are for the time being in favour of the Fusion. How long they will continue to support the Government I do not know, but no one will deny that they devote far more space to the speeches of the Ministry and their supporters than they do to the speeches of the Opposition. The honorable member for Wentworth made a statement that is certainly calculated to mislead the public. He declared that the Opposition and those sympathizing with them were a cringing, cowardly, impecunious lot of men; that they desired to loaf on the people of Australia by getting something for nothing from the Government Printing Office. When he made that statement the honorable member must have known that no honorable member has ever obtained from the Government Printing Office a reprint from Hansard without paying for it.
– The actual cost is paid by honorable members.
– The honorable member may not know that the proprietors of the Australian Star, which is published in Sydney, will print honorable members’ speeches in this House at one-third less than the price charged by the Government Printer for a reprint of reports appearing in Hansard. I make that statement in order to controvert the assertion made by the honorable member for Wentworth that some honorable members are anxious to obtain something for nothing from the Government Printing Office. The daily newspapers often put up striking headings, and only a few days ago the Sydney Daily Telegraph “headlined “ the honorable member for Wentworth. It desired to know what he meant when he said that he was packing his carpetbag, and it asserted that it was time for him to declare himself on either one side or the other. I think that the honorable member is still sitting on a rail.
– I still live.
– The honorable member also endeavoured to make it appear that he and those thinking with him were specially solicitous for the honest working man. He said, in effect, “ Why not give this work to the honest working man and not find more work for those who are employed in the Government Printing Office?” When I interjected, the honorable member, it seemed to me, purposely refused to attach to my words the meaning that I intended to convey. What I said, in effect, was that those employed in the Government Printing Office were honest men and unionists, and that therefore we were doing no wrong by having reprints from Hansard published from the Government Printing Office. My point was that the more work we gave the Government Printer by ordering reprints the more men would be employed there. I do not know what particular claim the honorable gentleman has to raise as the cham-pion of the honest working man.
– It is just the same as the honorable member’s claim.
– I think not. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I have had to work and graft as hard as any one, and I would prefer to be as I have been and am rather than be in the position of the honorable member for Wentworth. The honorable member would do well if he allowed a few more years to pass over his head before attempting to dictate to honorable members, who know much more of Australia than he can hope to know for some considerable time to come.
– Would there , be any bother if speeches could be printed with crossheadings as cheaply outside as by the Government Printer?
– I repeat, for the benefit of the honorable member, the statement that the Australian Star, the DemocraticLiberal newspaper, which favours the policy of the Opposition, will print the speeches of honorable members at one-third less than the price charged by the Government Printer. This Sydney newspaper does that because it is known very well that in that city the two morning newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, advocate Toryism, and all that is opposed to the working man and to progressive legislation. This patriotic offer is made in order that the people of New South Wales, and particularly the people of Sydney, may know that there are other forces besides Toryism in this Parliament.
– Will the Star print the speeches in pamphlet form?
– It does not matter what the form is. What we require are facilities for honorable members to lay their utterances before the people, so that it may be known that there is some patriotism, liberalism, and progressiveness left amongst our legislators. Such information would never reach the people if the duty of recording it were left to the daily newspapers I have mentioned. Had it not been for the intimation that the Prime Minister desires to alter the motion, I should have voted against it. I refuse, for one, to delegate to any body outside Parliament the power which the people have given me as their representative. As for the amendment, I regard it as meaningless, and it should be withdrawn if the honorable member for Maribyrnong desires to shorten the debate. What objection has that honorable member to the utterances of honorable members being issued to the people?
– I do not object; but I wish these utterances to go forth as they were spoken.
– In the speech of the honorable member for Hume, the head-lines objected to are simply lines lifted from the body of the speech, which it is admitted could be reprinted with all propriety.
– The Hansard report ought not to be touched.
– Does the honorable member approve of the striking out of an entire paragraph from a reprint?
– Certainly not.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is a close follower of the Treasurer, the only one who has pleaded guilty to deleting matter from a reprint of his speech.
– I object to such deletion most strongly.
– In the speech of the honorable member for Gwydir, I believe the cross-headings were also simply reprints from the body of the speech. But are all the offenders on this side?
– Certainly not.
– How is it that we find that the example in the use of crossheadings was set by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer? In the reprint of the Prime Minister’s speech on the no-confidence motion, we find one heading, “ The Policy of the New Government Contrasted with the Labour Policy,” and another, “ Cutthroat Tactics.”
– The practice is to be stopped for the future.
– Yes, the Government step in when they find that the sword cuts both ways. Personally, I have never had cross-headings in a reprint of any of my speeches; but, in the interests of fair play, and of the proper conduct of one party in relation to another in this House, there should be no attempt to prevent honorable members on this side from following the example which has been set them.
– Does the honorable member not think that the practice ought to be stopped?
– No, I do not. If any honorable member wishes to have type lifted in order to form a head-line - which really has the effect that a marginal note has in a Bill - and he is prepared to pay for the work, I see no reason why he should be prevented. I would uphold the dignity of the House in every respect, and would disallow any cross-headings which are personally offensive. There was nothing personally offensive in the cross-headings of the speech of the honorable memberfor Hume; indeed, much stronger terms were used in the body of the speech, which stands as a record for ever. If the motion be carried, the onus will be thrown upon the Printing Committee of bringing up some recommendation as to how far honorable members may go in the future. Something must be done, because, under present circumstances, there is such serious delay that the speeches lose their point before they can be issued. To any recommendation of the Printing Committee I shall give close attention, with a, view to conserving the right of every honorable member, at his own expense, to publish his utterances as freely as is consistent with the dignity of this Chamber.
.- I think I am safe in saying that during the last few sittings quite six hours have been consumed in discussing this question ; and I do not regard the subject of sufficient importance to warrant this expenditure of time. In my opinion, we ought to adopt the amendment. Honorable members have sufficient privilege when they are allowed to obtain from the Government Printer, at cost price, reprints of their speeches as they appear in Hansard.
– What authority has the honorable member for saying that only cost price is charged?
– I have never had any reprints made myself, but I heard it stated, I think by the Treasurer and others, that members are allowed to have reprints at what they actually cost the Printing Office; and that is quite as much as any honorable member has a right t to ask. If honorable members are not content, and desire to embellish or alter their speeches with scare or other head-lines, they should go to some outside printer, and provide a little work for unionists who do not happen to have fixed Government billets. If I may say so, unionists have done rather a handsome thing in sending honorable members opposite here as their representatives ; and the least those honorable members can do, when there is any employment available, is to give it to unionists. Like other privileges, this one has ended in abuse.
– On that side !
– I do not care where the abuse is. The amendment, if adopted, will have the effect of preventing any abuse in the future, whereas, if matters be allowed to go as at present, a censor will have to be appointed, or the Printing Committee will have to act. If the Printing Committee have to act, the result will be, as pointed out by the honorable member for Riverina, that a fortnight or a month may elapse before the reprints are issued, and by that time they will be really of little or no use. It is better to nip this in. the bud at once - to say that, in our opinion, there shall be no reprints, except of the speeches exactly as recorded in Hansard. Honorable members owe the official reporters their thanks for the manner in which their utterances are recorded. There is not much that one would wish to add or take away from the published reports, which may well go forth as a fair record of what is said and done here.
.- Nearly twenty years ago I came to the conclusion that it would be advantageous to honorable members to have the Hansard reports of their speeches reprinted; though it did not then occur to me, or to those who supported the action which I took, that “it would be desirable to introduce head-lines. About fourteen years ago, after a hard fight, I got the Government of the day to allow the stereotyping of speeches. This, as no doubt honorable members know, is a very inexpensive process, and the stereos, costing is. or is. 6d., can be stored away for future use. No one could say that a stereotyped reprint is not an exact copy. I have belonged to a party- whose safety in the past has been the Hansard reports. I was in the Victorian Assembly before there was a Labour party, when the press cared little what it published, so long as it “ downed “ us. But we had Hansard to appeal to. and, knowing the value of such support, I hesitate now to express an opinion in favour of any alteration of the official record. I pay my meed of praise to the Chief Parliamentary Reporter for the manner in which the work of the Commonwealth staff is done. I have never read more accurate reports than those of the speeches which have been delivered in this chamber since I became a member of the House. Of course, mistakes must occur at times; but honorable members have the opportunity to rectify them, and once the report has been corrected and published, it should not be altered. If it be the general opinion that Hansard would be more readable if the report were broken up into paragraphs, preceded with head-lines, let that be done before publication, and let each reprint be an accurate copy. A reprint containing head-lines which were not used in the original publication, is not an accurate copy. I know that outside printers sometimes object to the use of the Government Printing Office for the issue of member’s speeches.
I do not complain of that, and it was one of the reasons why I got permission for the taking of stereos. The public should know, if the reprints contain head-lines, and are paragraphed, that the alterations have been made by the member issuing them ; but it would be better that reprints should be exact copies in the legal sense. I regret that the Treasurer, in giving examples of the. way in which head-lines have been introduced, should have picked out the speeches of three Oppositionists. It would have been fairer to have taken speeches of members of both parties. The issue of a daily Hansard would cure everything. If such a Hansard were issued, I would not allow an honorable member to make any alterations. The report would be edited by our own officials, in whom we should have full confidence, and they could be removed if they abused their power. I look forward to the time when public opinion will be so advanced that those who are now Labour men will be thought Conservatives. The honorable member for Wilmot laughs. No doubt, when that time arrives, members of his way of thinking will be as rare as the dodo. A daily Ilansard, carrying all the Government advertisements, and issued in the capitals of the six States, would be a publication of great power. Commercial men advertise in papers like the Age and the Argus because of their circulation. The publication with the greatest number of subscribers will always get the most advertisements, and a daily Hansard would therefore bring in an immense revenue. But Hansard must be sacred as a book of reference. Honorable members must be able to point to that record as containing an absolutely true account of what is said in Parliament. A daily issue would be widely read. No honorable member would be afraid of letting his constituents know the opinions which he puts forward here. At the present time we each have twenty-five Hansards to circulate, and represent something like 30,000 electors. The publication goes to clubs, schools of arts, mechanics’ institutes, debating societies, and similar institutions, but not one per cent, of the population has an opportunity of reading it. Were it published daily at ½d., the price of the newspapers which have the largest circulation in the world, it would.be read in the homes of the workers, or, at any rate, of all who take an interest in political questions, and wish to forward the cause of Democracy. In my opinion, if Hansard has to be altered by the paragraphing of speeches, and the insertion of headlines, that should be done before publication, and, if necessary, someone should be appointed to determine what head-lines should be used. But reprints should be true copies of the official record, and the members issuing them should be able to say, “ These are correct reports of the speeches which we have delivered.”
Mr. FAIRBAIRN (Fawkner) [5.21J.- Judging by the duration of this discussion in our National Parliament, the subject before us must be an important one. I was at first inclined to agree with the Prime Minister that it should be referred to the Printing Committee to determine what headlines shall be used in reprints of speeches. When debates are republished by the Government Printing Office, the corporate honour of Parliament is in some degree concerned with the manner of publication. But the Leader of the Opposition has shown that speeches must either be reprinted entirely as they appear in Hansard, or members must be allowed to use whatever head-lines they please. Clearly, honorable members could not tolerate anything in the nature of censorship in the matter of head-lines. Therefore, I am forced to support the proposal of the honorable member for Maribyrnong that speeches should be reprinted exactly, as originally published.
– This is boycotting !
– I do not see the justice of the interjection. If the honorable member wishes to add fancy touches to the reprints of his speeches, he should get it done in private printing offices. The cost would be very little more. He- could go to a friendly journal, such as the Labour Call.
– When type is set up it costs little to print copies from it; but the cost of setting fresh type would be very great.
– I am aware of that, but the feeling of loyalty in the Labour party is so strong that probably honorable members opposite could get their effusions issued for less than cost price. At any rate, any censorship is impossible. The honorable member for Wentworth has suggested that unionist printers who are not in the Government Printing Office could be employed now and again; a very fair suggestion. At times work in the printing trade is very slack, and if honor- able members gave employment occasionally to those outside the ring fence, it would be appreciated.
– Does not the honorable member know that there is a good deal of casual employment in the Government Printing Office?
– Yes, and I regret it as much as any one can. Casual employment is the curse of the community, and I am glad to see that the Government have already indicated their intention to deal with the question of unemployment.
Mr.Crouch. - Why do the Opposition Object to the employment of unionists?
– There are a great many things about the Opposition that I cannot be expected to explain. The honorable member for West Sydney sneered at the honorable member for Wentworth in a personal way, which appeared to most of us to be in singularly bad taste. However, we let it pass, for we do not stoop to tactics of that sort. The suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth was really a good one. There are people in straitened circumstances in the printing trade outside who would be glad to get the work. The honorable member for Riverina said it would not cost any more, and I am prepared to take his word for it. After this debate the only possible course open to us seems to be to adopt the amendment of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. It is obvious that no honorable member or body of members will stand censorship from any one. I thought at first that the Printing Committee would be an admirable body to undertake the work, and I should have supported the proposal if all honorable members had fallen in with it readily; but we can now see what the result would) be. The House would be a regular bear garden. Instead of having this sort of debate continuing for a week only, the whole of the time of Parliament would be monopolized by it. If honorable members opposite will entertain the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth, they can go to the Labour Call, or Liberty and Progress, or even the Argus, and get reasonable terms. There are numbers of people out of employment who would be willing to make arrangements to do the printing practically at cost price.
.- The whole trouble seems to have arisen through the error into which the Prime Minister must have fallen the other day, when he suggested as a remedy the reference of this question to the Printing Committee. I asked him on more than one occasion whether he could personally authorize that reference. He consulted with you, Mr. Speaker, so far as I could see, and then came back, and told me, as the result of his conference with you, that it would be in order for him to do so.
– There was no such conference.
– At any rate, when the Prime Minister came back he told me it could be done.
– I concluded then that the matter was within the functions of the Printing Committee, but I found out later that it was not.
– Then the Prime Minister was in error at the time, and that is how the trouble has arisen.
– I moved the motion today without making a speech. All the objection has come from that side.
– Unfortunately, this discussion has arisen, and now we might as well thresh the matter out. Many things said this afternoon have been practically aimed at the party on this side. We have heard no admissions of guilt from those sitting opposite who were the originators of the present system. They have for years availed themselves of the privilege of inserting head-lines in their addresses,, while in some cases they have cut out interjections, and in others they have cut out from Hansard parts of the speeches which they have delivered in the House.
– One honorable member only.
– Some have cut out parts of their speeches, and some have padded them up. They have lopped off here and there what did not suit them, and put in paragraphs which they thought on reflection would better express what was in their minds. That has been a common practice on the Government side of the House. The Prime Minister will not deny that he has, time and again, practically revised the whole of a speech that he has delivered in the House.
– I have never revised it. in any other sense than that in which other honorable members have revised theirs.
– The honorable gentleman cannot deny that in some cases the speech that he delivered, and that appeared in the Hansard proofs, had no resemblance to the speech afterwards published and placed permanently on the records of Hansard.
– That is absolutely absurd.
– Probably it is absurd, but I am not responsible for it.
– And incorrect.
– At any rate, that has been done, as honorable members well know. What is more, the greatest sinner of all in the matter of interference with the Hansard reports has been the Treasurer, who begins, immediately he gets into power, to exercise that despotism for which he has been renowned throughout his career. He sits in judgment upon his fellow members, and tells us that the Government Printer drew his attention to something which was going on. As several honorable members have quoted head-lines culled from the reprint of my speech, which has been in the hands of the Government Printer for two or three weeks, let me tell the House and the country how far the Treasurer has gone. Do honorable members know that there has appeared in the daily press matter which has never appeared in Hansard, although it was spoken in this House?
– That is a very serious charge.
– The date of the occurrence was 17th September, 1907. I take it that the Age would not print nearly threequarters of a column of what the right honorable member for Swan said if it had not been spoken in the House. That report appears in the Age of Wednesday, 1 8th September, 1907, and yet there is not a word of it to be found in Hansard. I will read what the present Treasurer has succeeded in getting cut out of the records of the House, which are supposed to be sacred so far as parties are concerned.
– It was the late Speaker who ordered the matter to be cut out.
– That is a shameful interjection ; it is a disgrace to the honorable member.
– The honorable member is not in order in saying that anything said by another honorable member is a disgrace. He must withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw it. I said it because the honorable member made an accusation against the late Speaker.
– I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong not to make interjections of that character.
– I withdraw the interjection. I made it because the late Speaker informed me that he had done what I said.
– The following report appeared in. the Age of 18th September, 1907 : -
Sir John Forrest, who was severely criticised by Mr. Mahon last week for inconsistent votes on the Tariff, spoke at some length upon the inconsistencies of the Labour Party. The Prime Minister, he said, had told the Labour Party what he thought of it.
– And hasn’t the Labour Party told the Prime Minister what it thinks of him?
Sir John Forrest said the Prime Minister had spoken -in a contemptuous way of the Labour Party.
– We didn’t vote to reduce the age of consent from fourteen to twelve, as you did.
– You are a prevaricator - a scoundrel, sir ! - a scoundrel, talking like that.
– The honorable member will see that it is impossible for me to permit such language as that to be used in this Chamber and to be attributed to a member of this House. I ask him not to continue to read it.
– I rise to a point of order, because I happen to know something about the matter. My point of order is this: It is a serious matter-
– The honorable member must not discuss it.
– I do not want to put the point of order at all unless I can put it in my own way. I submit that the honorable member for Gwydir is quoting something that actually occurred in this House, as other honorable members know. Is he not in order in doing so?
– My ruling is that it is not permissible for any honorable member to read anything from any newspaper or other print which reflects upon an honorable member of this House. I do not know whether what the honorable member is reading occurred in the House, but, even if it did, it is not permissible to read a statement of that character.
– I should like your ruling, sir, on the point, that I raised. Is the honorable member in order, not in reading what a newspaper has said, but in quoting something that occurred in this House?
– The only question I have to settle is that immediately before me, which has reference to certain statements reflecting upon honorable members of thisHouse. The honorable member is not in order in reading such statements.
– On a point of order, I desire your ruling, sir, on the question of whether it is not in order to quote anything that appears in Hansard and that was allowed to pass by the Chair?
– I decline to give a ruling upon an issue that is not before the Chair.
– I should like to know, for my own information, whether you object to some particular portion of what I have read, or to my reading at all from the Age report of what took place in the House ?
– I have already ruled that an honorable member is not in order in reading anything which reflects upon any honorable member of this House.
– Then, sir, I move that your ruling be dissented from.
– The honorable member will please put his dissent in writing.
– I shall do so.
– The honorable member far Gwydir gives notice that he will move, “ That this House dissents from the Speaker’s ruling. “ Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders, the motion will be taken into consideration to-morrow.
– Would you be good enough, Mr. Speaker, to state under what standing order you rule that the consideration of the motion must be adjourned until to-morrow ?
– Standing order 287 provides that -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision ofthe Speaker, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to. the next sitting day.
– The report from which I was quoting when interrupted, Mr. Speaker, and which purports to be a report of the utterances of certain honorable members in this House, continues -
– Yes; I withdraw, but he is making a gross charge against me, and he knows it to be absolutely untrue ! Things that happened twenty years ago ! (Turning on the member for Melbourne) : Sir, you ought to be ashamed of yourself - ashamed, Isay - you ought tobeputoutof-
Mr. Maloney (waving a book). - There is your Western Australian Hansard! Deny it if you can-
Honorable Members. - Chair, chair !
– You have fawned on me since, sir ! Fawned on me !
– The honorable member must address himself to the question before the chair.
– But it is untrue, sir - grossly libellous. (Uproar.)
– The honorable member must withdraw the word “ untrue.”
– Out of respect to the House, I withdraw. (Hear, hear.)
– And Iwithdraw anything offensive to the honorable member I may have said - (Waving the book) : But here is the Western Australian Hansard.
– The honorable member is always making lying statements all over the country-
– Order !
-I withdraw those words, sir, for the time being.
– The honorable member must not qualify his withdrawal.
– The report continues -
Honorable Members. - Chair, chair !
– The honorable member must withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw, sir ; but it is true. I withdraw that, too. (Laughter.) I am ashamed - ashamed; I say, to have to reply to such disgracefulinnuendos-
– Order ! Since the honorable member has achieved the object which he had in view, and which, apparently, was to show that something which appeared in the public press as a report of proceedings in this House had been suppressed by Hansard, I put it to him whether he thinks any good purpose can be served by reading further from the report ?
– May I explain, Mr. Speaker.
– Order !
– I have practically achieved my object, since I have shown that what appeared in the public press as a report of proceedings in this House on a certain date, does not appear in Hansard of that date.
– Who cut out the report?
– I agreed to its excision.
– I do not wish to read the whole of the report as published in the Age. It occupies three-quarters of a . column, and it may readily be concluded that it is not a full account of the proceedings. But the whole report of what took place between the honorable member for
Swan and other honorable members who interjected, has been eliminated from Hansard.
– By whom?
– I cannot say.
– It was done by consent.
– Who could give that consent ?
– All concerned.
– They had no power, to do so; all concerned could not consent.
– The question of the elimination of the report from Hansard was not placed before the House in the ordinary way. When an honorable member desires that something shall be expunged from the records of Parliament, the only course open to him is to submit a motion to the House that the words in question be removed from the records. No such action was taken by the Treasurer. In some secret way he succeeded in eliminating from Hansard a report of the proceedings to which I have referred, and I venture to say that the incident is unexampled in the history of any other Parliament. The Treasurer has admitted that in reprints of his speeches, as published in Hansard, he has cut out junks from the official report and inserted new matter, which he never uttered in the House ; and we find now that he has succeeded in cutting out of Hansard the whole report of a speech made by him in reply to the honorable member for Coolgardie, who had been castigating him for his inconsistency with respect to the Tariff. Are the Labour party to be made the butt of men of his type? In return for the generous treatment extended to him by an honorable member of the Labour party in permitting him to have this matter eliminated from Hansard, he begins, as soon as he takes office as Treasurer, to place the iron heel of despotism upon the Labour party. Six years have elapsed since Sir Edmund Barton, as Prime Minister, and Sir George Turner, as Treasurer, determined that reprints of members’ speeches published by the Government Printer must be an actual reproduction of the official report, but ever since then the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and other honorable members on the Government side of the House who have availed themselves of this privilege have wholly disregarded that edict. The question now at issue is whether this differential treatment of honorable members is to be permitted. It savours very much of the dark ages. If, in the course of events, the honorable member for Flinders becomes Prime Minister, and has the power which the Treasurer seems to possess, members of the Labour party will probably be prevented from going on public platforms and giving utterance to their thoughts. We shall probably be prevented from making public speeches. I have arrived at that conclusion because of what, the honorable member did in connexion with a celebrated case, when he was Premier of Victoria, some few years ago. The action of the Treasurer in securing the excision from Hansard of a lengthy report of an incident in this House ought not to be tolerated. We have heard a great deal as to the equity of his decision that crossheadings shall not be permitted in reprints, but very few of the representatives of Victoria are aware of the position of those who represent distant electorates. It takes many of us a week to travel to and from our electorates: I have not toured my constituency since the last general election, having been engaged on public business, and I think it cruel that I should be denied an opportunity of placing before my constituents reprints from Hansard of speeches made in this House. The daily papers do not report, save in a mutilated and offensive fashion, any remarks that I make, and surely I ought not to be prevented from doing that which honorable members opposite have done for the last six years, without anyobjection being raised. If the House decides that reprints sent out from the Government Printing Office shall be an actual reproduction of the official reports, I shall offer no objection. It is mean of the Treasurer to use this privilege for six years, and then, without notice or warning, deprive honorable mem1 bers of its advantage. Who bestowed on the Treasurer the power to censor honorable members’ speeches? The honorable gentleman says that he does not like the duty ; but he is performing the duty all the time. In order that the speech I made a short time ago should, whatever may be its value, reach my constituents, whom I have not been able to visit for nearly three years; I asked the Treasurer to allow me, in lieu of head-lines, to underline some of the words and sentences so that they might appear in raised type, andthus cut up the solidity of the matter. One would have thought that the Treasurer could not have refused such a request, seeing that the words I desired to underline had been uttered in this chamber under the Speakership of the late Sir Frederick Holder, who was ever keen to observe when an honorable member infringed the rules or passed the boundary of good taste. The Treasurer, however, set himself up as the judge, and refused me the permission sought; and I can only say that in so doing he acted the part of a despot pure and simple. I can quite understand that it would not be a fair head-line if ah honorable member were to use words of the right honorable member for East Sydney, when he called the honorable member for Corio” a freak of nature.”
– The right honorable member never did so.
– Nor would it be fair to put up as a head-line the words used by the honorable member for Wentworth, when he spoke of the Prime Minister as “ Sneaky Deakin,” or described him as “ walking behind with a stiletto.” Nevertheless, these have been uttered in this House by prominent members, and recorded in Hansard, unless in some cases they have been amended. I challenge the Treasurer, the Government Printer, or the Speaker to say that any one of the headlines that I suggested for the reprint of my own speech was. not appropriate to the subjectmatter.
– The head-lines were actually from the substance of the speech.
– They were mostly, but other honorable members, in their reprints, have paid no regard to the substance of the speeches. For instance, when the Prime Minister used the head-line, “Cutthroat tactics,” there was nothing in the matter which followed to justify the reference. The Treasurer has read some of the head-lines that I desired to use, but, of course, he selected only those which suited his own purpose. As the honorable gentleman has- placed a selected few on record, it is only fair that I should let honorable members know what the others were. As I have shown, it was not only the head-lines that were objected to by the Treasurer, but the whole speech, seeing that he would not allow me to even break it up by means of raised words or sentences.
– I never heard or read the speech.
– What are we to think of the Treasurer? Here is a gentleman who sets himself up as a judge of something he has never heard or read ! What can be actuating the honorable member? It cannot be reason ; it cannot be judgment, because he could not judge without reading or hearing; and it cannot be a desire to do what is right to honorable members. No ; it is party bias and party tactics, with the object of boycotting honorable members of this House as effectively as possible. The following are the headlines that I. desired to use - “A Novel Stonewaller.” “An Able Effort.” “ How they Evolved.” “Eternal Strife.” “What shall we do to be Saved?” “The Stiletto.” “ Not a First’ Offender.” “ Measures, not Men.” “Notice to Quit.” “ Treacherous Treatment.” “Betrayal of Alfred.” “ Quintette of Peddling Politicians.” “Look at Them!” ‘ “The Men who Left their Post.” “A Double Shuffle.” “ Save Thyself at all Cost.” “The Famous Quartette.” “ The Idol of the ‘ Age.’ “ “The Only King.” “The Medium.” “ Did not know it was Loaded.” “A Political Anarchist.” “We Asked for Bread and Received a Stone.” “ Lawyers Bad and Worse.” “The Advent of the Labour Party.” “ The Medium and the Monarchs.” “ New Protection Promised.” “Dished Again.” “The Broken Promise.” “ The Demon of Modern Politics.” “ Black-hearted Treachery.” “ A Foolor a Sacrifice.” “The Man Behind the Mask.” “The Trinity of Remnants.” “A Figurehead.” “Keep Him in Front.” “ Once a Lawyer, Always a Lawyer.” “Cook’s Refuge.” “ He is a Renegade.” “ The Reason Why.” “The Buffers.” “ Humiliation.” “A Miner.” “A Republican.” “A Protectionist.” “ A Confiscator.” “A Cry for Mercy.” “The Mirror.” “A Free Trader.” “The Opportunist.” “ Reid the Conjurer.” “An Outcast.” “Nailed to the Mast.” “ The Day of Judgment.” “ Missed the ‘Bus.” “ The Surrender. “ The Tories. “Work the Oracle.” “One at a Time.” “Right at Last.” “A Deaf Ear.” “The Primeval Emperor. “Deprived of Power.” “Ten, not Seven.” “The Pawns.” “What a Shock.” “Reid’s Downfall.” “The Resurrection.” “More Billets.” “The Branding Iron.” “ The Coercionist.” “ The Threat that Failed.” “The Noble Eight Hundred.” “The Grave Digger.” “The Golden Bullets.” “ Farmers, Beware !” “Deer for Peers.” “England’s Folly.” “The Downfall of Nations.” “Press Boycott Labour.” “A Daily Hansard.” “Cut to the Bone.” “The Writing on the Wall.” “ Brief History of Australian Land Laws.” “ Peacocking.” “A Dead Letter.” “The Golden West.” “Land Laws Galore.” “The Tight Little Island.” “Unlucky Number.” “ Penalizing the Poor.” “The Squatter King.” “The Gilded Absentees.” “The Day of Reckoning.” “ The Trail of the Lawyer. “The Political Land Agent.” “ A Government of Lawyers.” “Crowded Out.” “Closure Settlement.” “The Enemy of the Farmer.” “ Experience Teaches.” “Land Transferred.” “ Improvement Leases.” “ Reduced Settlement.” “Educate our Boys, ‘For What?’” “Require Watching.” “Postpone the Evil Day.” “ If the States will not Act.” “How Long are we Secure?” “ Our Responsibility.” “A Correction.”” “Queer Bedfellows.” “ National Danger.” “ The People’s Vengeance.” “ Innocence or Ignorance.” “A Rotten Foundation.” “Farmers’ Decoy.” “Farmers, Note This.” “Put a Pin in that Spot.” “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” “ False Pretences.” “A Page of History.” “Reid’s Advent.” “Why I was a Free Trader.” “The Chess-board of National Politics.” “The Respite.” “ Temporary Salvation.” “An Honest Effort.” “New Zealand’s’ Error.” “Where is the Man?” “ Socialism.” “ True . Christians.” “ Mere Mercenaries.” “ God and Mammon.” “ Tory Rule.” “The Hope of the Tories.” “Who should Govern?” “ Flaws in the Constitution.” “ Industrial Evolution.” “The Social Evil.” “A Sorry Spectacle.” “ Some Standard Authorities.” “ Emerson.” “ Arnold.” “ Pro. Thorold Rogers.” “ Pro. Stuart.” “Pro. Cairns.” “J. S. Mill.” “Fiske, U.S.A.” “Modern Octopi.” “ Press Influence.” “A National Bank Needed.” “A Struggle.” “In Purgatory.” “A Prophecy.” “Are we Free.” “The Postal Muddle.” “The Land Scandals.” “My Reward.” “The Life of a Government.” “The Party Slaves.” “A Somersault.” ” Age Domination.” “ Signed Articles.” “ Beware of the Greeks !” “A Bitter Unequal Struggle.” “Adam and Eve.” “Fight Shy of the Tempter.” “The Roll of Liberty.”
What is there to object to in those headlines, which were simply designed to indicate to the people the subjects dealt with in the various parts of the speech? Is there any reason why we should not paragraph the speeches, so that the public may select what they desire toread, and leave unread that in which they do not feel interested, just as readers do with a book of short stories? There is no danger in allowing honorable members to use headlines. I remind honorable members that the few head-lines I have read cover a speech which occupied nearly ten hours in delivery ; and, in the circumstances, the reader is certainly entitled to such spells as the breaking up of the matter can afford’. I did my best to make the speech as readable as possible, and the public are reading it. In my opinion, Ministers should have allowed the reprints which have been ordered to be published, as scores of others have been, leaving it to the Printing Committee to make a recommendation for the government’ of future cases. What has been done by honorable members on this side is as nothing compared with what the Treasurer and other Ministerialists have done. If we have done wrong, they have set us the example. While we have merely inserted a few head-lines, the Treasurer has not only done that, but has even gone to the length of cutting a speech out of Hansard.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to say that, early in the day, I stated that I did not think I had ever inserted head-lines into any speech I had had reprinted. I find, however, that head-lines were sent by my clerk, unknown to me. Personally, I should not have put them in, but I did not know that it was proposed to use them.
– I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. Honorable members have referred to the omission of part of a speech. It had to do with’ ,a difference between myself and the Treasurer, the rights and wrongs of which are now immaterial. He subsequently wrote to the Speaker, asking that certain interjections might be removed. When the matter was referred to me, I at first demurred, thinking that what had been said should be recorded in Hansard, but becoming good-tempered again - which, I hope, is my normal condition - I consented, writing, “ With a heart and .a half, yes.” I take it that the Speaker then ordered the passages to be expunged from the official record.
– The honorable member for Wilmot tried to make it appear that the question at issue is : Shall cross-headings be allowed in reprints of parliamentary addresses ? and that to discuss such a matter here is to waste the time of the House. But underlying this discussion is a very much more serious matter. The real question at issue is: Are the privileges of honorable members to be trenched upon by the Treasurer, or whatever Minister is responsible for the interference which has been complained of?
– Are they to be trenched upon by an outsider?
– Outside interference has not been suggested.
– The honorable member for Hume has just stated that there has been outside interference.
– This matter must be ventilated, in the interests of the country, as well as of the House. The honorable member for Grampians read certain official documents, giving what he claimed to be a statement of the case, but it was an ex parte, and very unfair, statement. One would suppose from it that the Government Printer has been the prime mover in .the rejection of head-lines. But from information which has since come to us in dribs and drabs, .we know that he was actuated by some one outside his office. A number of the proposed head-lines have been quoted, to show their objectionable character, and, strangely enough, the selection was made wholly from the speeches of Oppositionists. We were not told that the Treasurer himself was responsible for the departure from the rule laid down by Sir Edmund Barton, by introducing subheadings into the reprints of his speeches. He had to admit that he had done that, and that he had even cut out matter to which he objected, although it had been passed by the Hansard authorities. Other Ministers have done the same, and members of the Labour party followed in the footsteps of members of other parties, until the present practice came to be recognised. The Prime Minister, in publishing, towards the end of June, a speech which he delivered during the censure debate, introduced a liberal supply of sub-headings, amongst them one particularly offensive to members on this side of the House. He used the heading “ Cut-throat tactics,” although it had nothing to do with the subject-matter following it, and the words were not uttered during his speech. The Treasurer did not take exception to those headings. It was only when Oppositionists wished to reprint their speeches that he discovered that the practice was being abused. What is right for Ministerialists cannot be wrong for Oppositionists. The real cause of the objection which has been taken to the headings used by members on this side is that Ministerialists do not like the publication of our speeches. Not long since, the newspaper organ which dictates the policy of the Government, printed a leading article, advocating the total abolition of Hansard, and the action of the Treasurer seems to be a movement in the direction of suppressing reports. It would be a good thing for the Ministerial party if the Opposition speeches could be entirely suppressed, because it would prevent the public from knowing what goes on here, from being informed of the compelling influences which brought about the fusion, and from seeing criticisms upon the policy of the Government. An insidious attack is being made upon our rights and privileges, and the real question is : Shall our speeches be placed in the hands of our constituents and the public generally ? If this means of conveying information to the electors was helpful to the party opposite, they would commend, instead of con- demning it. They certainly initiated it, and availed themselves considerably of it, until it began to cut against them, when honorable members on this side began to make use of the same privilege. It is very significant that the advice to honorable members on this side to have their speeches published by private printing concerns, instead of at the Government Printing Office, comes from certain honorable gentlemen opposite. They put in a plea for the out-of-work compositor, and suggest that if honorable members’ privileges in this direction were abolished, the work would be transferred to outside firms, and unemployed printers would be benefited. The interest which some of those gentlemen, who are intimately associated with the Employers’ Union, profess to take in trade union compositors, is very much in the nature of a gift from the Greeks. Honorable members know that the Government Printer must get the best and most reliable workmen that he can secure, with the result that at the Government Printing Office good union wages are paid, and there is no attempt made to coerce men to leave their unions. Consequently, .the Government Printing Office is practically manned by union labour. Honorable members on this side, who believe in and support the principles of unionism, can go to the Government Printing Office and get their work done, knowing full well that it will be turned out, not by sweated or non-union labour, but by good substantial union labour, at decent rates of pay. The specious plea that iL will benefit unionism to divert the work from the Government Printing Office, and so reduce the number of hands there, is only another effort on the part of certain honorable members opposite to get something for their black-leg labour to do. If the course they suggest was really in the interests of unionism, I very much question whether they would advocate it, seeing that in their own unions they are always fighting trade unions as hard as they can. I submit that the insertion of sub-headings improves the speeches. It it were not so, honorable members would not go to the trouble of editing their addresses or incur the extra expense of having them printed in that way.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– The assumption upon the other side appears to be that the interpolation of head -lines entails extra cost upon the Government Printer without any adequate return.
– And also the addition of something that was not said during the debate.
– That opens up another phase of the question, which rests with the Hansard staff and the Speaker. I assume that nothing can be added to the Hansard report without those officers being first made acquainted with it; and I suppose they would not permit any alteration which was not right, or that did not represent what had been said in this chamber. I am, however, dealing at present, not with the production of Hansard itself, but with the reprinting from Hansard of addresses to the order and at the expense of the members directly interested. One would gather, from honorable members opposite, that the insertion of subheadings was a violation of the Hansard record, and an attempt to get work done without paying for it; but it is well known that honorable members have to pay for not only the cost of production - with, I suppose, a reasonable margin of profit - of the reprints from Hansard they order; but also the setting of type, and other work involved in putting in the headlines. As the Government Printing Office is run at union rates of pay; I presume that the charges are fixed accordingly, and that honorable members pay fair union rates for the work which is done for them. It is, therefore, not a question of members getting something, for nothing, or even for less than cost price. In the Government Printing Office, the type has already been set for other purposes, and the reprints are struck off it before it is distributed. In that way, honorable members can obtain reprints of the Hansard reports much cheaper than if they had to get the whole matter reset. I understand however, that some honorable members have . had their speeches reprinted in outside newspapers, after practically getting the printing done at the Government Printing Office ; that is to say, they have been supplied with the matrix, and so have secured the cheap production of their speeches, in country or city publications. I am not in a position to say whether that is really so; but I am inf ormed that it has been and can be done. Consequently, all the- arguments used by honorable members opposite about providing work outside by closing up the Government Printing Office are so much moonshine. The’ purpose which they appear to honorable members sitting upon this side to be intended to serve is to discountenance and make as difficult as possible, and ultimately to abolish, the system of having honorable member’s speeches in this Parliament recorded by authorized Hansard reporters, and published at the Government Printing Office. The inser- tion of subheadings appears to . be such an improvement in the form of presenting speeches, that it should be adopted, quite apart from the question of reprints for private circulation. The advisability of introducing it in the production of Hansard itself, might well be considered. Honorable members in their speeches deal with different subjects, and the Hansard reporters compile a very important and necessary index, in which they give titles to the subjects dealt with in debate. No objection has so far been taken to the words which they use in the index to indicate those subjects ; but there is nothing in the Hansard report itself to indicate in what parts of the different speeches those subjects are dealt with. The result is that honorable members who desire to look up matters for purposes of reference, are often inconvenienced. They can locate a certain address ; but they frequently have to read right through it to find the particular part to which they wish to refer. It would simplify matters, and materially improve the speeches themselves, if the different subjects dealt with were clearly indicated, either by subheadings, or by marginal references. In that way, the whole purpose aimed at by honorable members in this connexion, would be amply met. I do not believe any honorable member desires to interpolate in the reports of his speeches anything objectionable or unparliamentary that he could not say in the House. I submit to the Government that that proposal might well be remitted lo the Printing Committee for report. If acted upon, it would make Hansard much more useful for purposes of reference, bring it into actual accord with the index, and meet the desires of honorable members themselves. In short, it would be a permanent and most desirable improvement in the production of Hansard. I come now to the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and which, if applied literally, would make reprints from Hansard utterly useless.
Mr. Mauger.Why ?
– The honorable member, proposes that Hansard re- * prints shall contain nothing which does not actually appear in the official reports. It would, therefore, be impossible for a’n honorable member in republishing a speech which he had delivered to indicate on the front page the subject to which it related. An exact reproduction, as proposed by the honorable member, would be little short of a farce, and that possibly is what the Government and their supporters desire to reduce the system to. They have urged that reprints in which cross-headings are inserted cannot be said to be an exact reproduction of Hansard reports, but that difficulty could be readily overcome by the publication of a statement on the title page that the pamphlet was a reprint from the Parliamentary Debates, with head-lines inserted by the honorable member issuing it.
– That would not be necessary if the honorable member’s original proposal were adopted.
– Quite so. I trust that it will be adopted, for it would certainly facilitate reference to Hansard.
– I think that it is adopted in connexion with the Parliamentary Debates published in one of the States - each subject is introduced in a new paragraph.
– That would be an improvement in the right direction. I listened with considerable pleasure to the speech made by the honorable member for Robertson, who took a common-sense view of the question, and I am sure that had other honorable members opposite followed his example no heat would have been imported into the debate. The honorable member does not hold with some of the Ministerialists, whose desire apparently is either to curtail or to wholly abolish this privilege. There is no doubt that the action taken by the Treasurer is a direct attack oh the Opposition. As long as the right to issue Hansard reprints was the special perquisite of honorable members opposite - as long as they were able to sub-edit such reprints, eliminating interjections which told against them, and inserting crossheadings that were a direct reflection on the Opposition - they saw no objection to the system. But as soon as members of the Labour party began to follow in their wake they evidenced a desire to abolish it. With few exceptions Hansard reprints in pamphlet form are the only vehicle which honorable members on this side have for conveying their views to their constituents. The Government have the big daily newspapers and a large percentage of the country newspapers behind them, ready and willing to give full publicity to their utterances, and, therefore, even the abolition of Hansard at the present time would mean nothing to them.
– Hardly an honorable member on this side of the House knew that this system was being carried on. As soon as we learned of it, we endeavoured ) to put a stop to it.
– The honorable member and his party only tried to put a stop to the system when it was adopted by members of the Labour party.
– We have availed ourselves of the first opportunity.
– For years many honorable members opposite have been publishing reprints in which headings are inserted, and any one taking an interest in politics could scarcely avoid knowing that this was done. It is strange, to say the least, that Ministerialists should try now to put a stop to the system, because they find that in the hands of the Opposition it is an effective weapon against them. I hope that as the result of this debate Hansard will be permanently, improved in the way I have indicated. If my suggestion cannot be adopted, it is only reasonable that those who pay trade union rates of wages in connexion with the reprinting of their speeches should be permitted to insert subheadings in order that each subject dealt with in their speeches may be clearly indicated. Honorable members of the Opposition, I am sure, would be perfectly satisfied to allow the Chief Parliamentary Reporter to determine what sub-headings should be inserted, and would not press any cross-heading to which he took exception. All that we desire is that the different subjects touched upon shall be indicated by means of sub-headings, so that reprints in that way may be made acceptable to the people.
.- Had the motion submitted by the Prime Minister been carried without discussion, a considerable amount of time would have been saved. A few days ago it was practically agreed that the whole question should be referred to the Printing Committee, although a motion to that effect was not formally submitted. The subject was brought before the Printing Committee this morning, but we found that we had no legal right to deal with it, as the Standing Orders had not been complied with. I therefore anticipated that, as soon as the House met this afternoon, a motion to refer it to the Printing Committee would be submitted and carried without delay. Had that course been adopted, we should not have wasted the whole afternoon. There is an important principle involved. Certain Ministerialists have published reprints from Hansard, containing numerous crossheadings, and the attempt of members of the Opposition to follow in their footsteps has given rise to the present situation. Had the honorable member for Maribyrnong brought forward an amendment, that from this date sub-headings should hot appear in reprints published by the Government Printer, it would not have been so objectionable as that which he has submitted. As there are now in the hands of the Government Printer five or six orders for reprints of speeches made by members of the Opposition, I think it unfair that they should be denied a privilege which1 Government supporters have enjoyed. The question is of no importance to me, because r have not had, nor am I likely to have, any reprints of speeches made by me in this House. My constituency is much smaller than many others, and I do not find it necessary to avail myself of the system. I approve of the suggestion that cross-headings should be introduced to enable those who read Hansard to find, without difficulty, the subjects in. which they are interested. It has been . said by an honorable member -opposite that the Prime Minister has proposed that the members of the Printing Committee shall practically censor all reprints. I am sure that that is not intended. All that the Prime Minister proposes is that the Committee shall draw up recommendations, and I hope that the motion will be carried.. It would certainly be unfair to refuse to allow subheadings to appear in reprints for which orders have already been given, since that privilege has not been denied to others. The question is of interest, not only to honorable members, but to the people generally. The electors desire to know what is taking place in the national Parliament. In every part of Australia there are men and women who take great interest in various political questions, and who are naturally desirous of learning how their representatives have dealt with them in Parliament. If the reports were so broken up as to show the different subjects dealt with, I am sure that not only honorable members, but the people, would be convenienced and benefited. Surely those who live hundreds or thousands of miles from the Seat of Government have a right to know what goes on here, and to be able to find quickly what is in honorable members speeches. It is impossible for a man who has his business to attend to, or his livelihood to earn, to read the whole of the Hansard reports. I hope the motion will be carried, because the amendment would do an injustice, and not tend to create good feeling in the House.
– I understand that the Prime Minister desires leave to amend his motion by omitting the word “ rules,” with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the word “recommendations.” Has the Prime Minister leave to so amend1 the motion?
– I object.
– In the circumstances, the motion will stand as originally drafted.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the motion - put.
The House divided.
Majority - … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hutchison) agreed to-
That the following words be added to the motion as amended, “but speeches already ordered by members, with cross-headings, shall be printed and delivered.”
Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) proposed -
That the following words be added to the motion as amended, “ such cross-headings to be inoffensive in the opinion of the Printing Committee.”
That the only reprints permitted be an exact reproduction of Hansard, but speeches already ordered by members, with cross-headings, shall be printed and delivered, such cross-headings to be inoffensive in the opinion of the Printing Committee.
.- I would suggest to the honorable member for Corio that, as the issue has become so confused, he should withdraw his amendment. It brings us back to the orginal position. The powers of the Committee, which are defined by the Standing Orders, cannot be increased by a simple resolution of the House. No such resolution woul’d override the Standing Orders. Be that as it may, we are spending too much time and a great deal too much energy over a very trifling matter, which might easily have been settled by the exhibition of a little friendly feeling at the beginning: It could be settled now. upon reasonable lines, but the acceptance of the amendment of the honorable member for Corio, so far from settling the matter, would make it twenty times worse than it was when we started.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley) ^.41].- The carrying of a previous amendment upon the voices was an evidence that the House did not desire to single out any member for ill-treatment. I was prepared to vote upon that occasion that the three or four members who have already ordered their speeches should be allowed to have them reprinted with the head-lines which they have attached to them. If the House now decides against allowing those honorable members that right, it will place others who had their speeches reprinted earlier in a better position. Why should the Prime Minister or the Treasurer have been able to issue speeches with head-lines without any review at all, either by the Speaker or the Printing Committee? On the general principle, I am still against honorable members writing head-lines into their speeches, but I am also against any proposal to treat some honorable members differently from others. There appears now to be a fight with regard to headlines which certain honorable members regard as offensive.
– And to protect other honorable members of the House;
– The effect of the headlines referred to will be precisely in proportion to the class of member who issues them. The country will soon gauge the value of them. The only weight which the electors would attach to an offensive attack on the Prime Minister, for instance, would be the weight of the honorable member who made it. It is late in the day to bring in the Printing Committee as censor over three or four honorable members, when other honorable members have already got their reprints through with head-lines which- are claimed to have been equally offensive. The heading “ Cut-throat tactics,” which was used bv. the Prime Minister in connexion with a speech in the same debate, has been quoted by honorable members opposite as offensive. I do not think that they grieved over it very much, nor can- any one seriously regard as offensive the head-lines quoted by the Treasurer as having been used by the honorable member for Gwydir. I shall vote against the amendment, in order that all honorable members may be treated alike up to this stage, but I am glad the House has decided that from to-night the censorship shall rest with the Chief of the Hansard staff.
.- I hope honorable members will not stultify themselves. They have already decided not to refer the matter to the Printing Committee, or even to trust it to frame regulations in connexion with the matter, yet it is now proposed that the Printing Committee shall act as censors. As a member of the Committee, I shall decline to take that position.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth) r8.46].- The arguments used by the honorable member for Dalley would, if given effect to, debar all reforms. One has to start somewhere. If one lias constantly to consider whether one class of malefactor will benefit by achieving his malefactions before reform is effected, we shall never start to deal with malefactors at all. This House would scarcely like to describe itself to the people of Australia as anxious to permit offensive cross-headings to be placed in what purport to - be Hansard reports of speeches delivered in this Chamber. The whole issue is not whether cross-headings are to be permitted, but whether offensive crossheadings are to be permitted.
– Who is to decide?
– Could we have a better Committee to decide upon a question of that kind than the Printing Committee? I agree with the .Leader of the Opposition that this is a very trifling matter to spend so much time over. If we are going to make an alteration, let us do it from now on. We give certain honorable members opposite the latitude that they ask for. They can have their cross-headings. They claimed! to be able to split up their speeches - some of them monumental - into fractions, each with its appropriate crosshead, and they asked that the crossheadings should be allowed only because they were descriptive of the subject, and enabled readers to locate in the speeches the particular remarks they wished to find. If they are sincere, and have any regard for the honour of the House, they will join with us in doing all we can to insure that, whatever grace is given to honorable members on the present occasion, it shall not be carried to the extent of allowing the publication of offensive cross-headings which would bring discredit upon the Chamber whose reputation we all have at heart.
.- The country ought not to be permitted to believe, as the honorable member for Wentworth would have it believe, that there is anything in the cross-headings of the speeches of any member upon this side that can be regarded as offensive, nor is it right that the impression should1 be conveyed to the country that the Government have the power to confer any right at all in this matter upon honorable members upon this side. Whatever liberty we have comes to us by virtue of rights and privileges which, thank God, do not depend at all upon any power of the Government to grant or withhold. What has been asked for is so natural, so moderate, and so just that nothing but party bias of the most paltry and inexcusable character can explain the attitude of gentlemen on the other side. I am glad to hear that the honorable member for Dalley, at any rate, does not believe that any tribunal, short of this House itself, should be allowed to set itself up as a censor of what headings are proper or improper. How could any man so divest himself of political bias as to sanction headlines which, perhaps, hold the mirror up to nature, so far as he is concerned, all too clearly and too faithfully ? . Even honorable gentlemen on the other side are human, although one is sometimes tempted to forget it. I am prepared to leave this matter to only one tribunal - either the Hansard staff, or the Government Printer, or yourself. Any of those three authorities will be perfectly satisfactory to me. I again wish to urge what I put forward earlier in the afternoon - it was not then imperative, but it now becomes so - that Hansard. should from now on be paragraphed, and that there is neither reason nor justification for the continuation of a narrative which in many cases is disjointed, leaving one in the middle of a line to take up a subject entirely alien to the previous one. That reform requires no authority, I understand, other than a direction from you, Mr. Speaker. If you have that authority, I trust that you will exercise it.
.- When the House carried the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I take it that it decided that certain members who had given orders at the Printing Office for reprints of speeches before the Treasurer gave orders to stop the practice of inserting head-lines, were to be allowed to have their orders fulfilled. That would be fair. It applies only to three or four members whose head-lines are, I understand, already in the printer’s hands. As they have gone so far, it would be distinctly unfair, by carrying the amendment of the honorable member for Corio, to prevent those speeches from appearing in the form in which they have been handed in. The honorable members who have given those orders should be allowed to insert whatever head-lines they think fit. In that way they will be put on the same footing as were those who had the good fortune to have similar work done for them before the order in question was given.
– I regret to have to tell this honorable House that it is committing absolute political infanticide.
– Order ! I have glanced again at the amendment, and have formed the opinion that it is net in order. Its effect would-be to whittle away a certain privilege which was granted by the previous decision of the House. I, therefore, rule it out of order. The honorable member for Herbert desires to move a further amendment.
– I wish to move an amendment on what is now the motion. It would come in before that of the honorable member for Herbert. Earlier in the debate I stated that if the honorable member for Maribyrnong’s amendment were carried it would mean that the directions given by Sir Edmund Barton when Prime Minister could not operate, because he permitted the use of certain words which did not actually appear in the Hansard report. I have before me a pamphlet which was published under the decision given by Sir Edmund Barton.
– I understand that the honorable member has spoken to the main question.
– I desire to move an amendment.
– The honorable member may not move an amendment since he has spoken to the main question ; but he is in order in speaking to the question that the” motion as amended be agreed to.
– You rule, Mr. Speaker, that I have spoken to the main question?
– The honorable member has spoken to the main question,- but it is open to him to ask another honorable member who has riot done so to move the amendment that he desires to submit. It will then be competent for him to address himself to it.
.- On behalf of .the honorable member for .Calare I move -
That the following words be added to the motion as amended : - “ That the practice laid down by Sir Edmund Barton governing reprints of members’ Hansard speeches be adhered to.”
– I would point out to the honorable member that the amendment which he desires to move would be a direct contradiction of the motion which has just been carried.
Amendment (by Mr. Bamford) proposed -
That the following words be added to the motion as amended : - <! and further, that honorable members who desire their speeches reprinted may have the loan of the stereotpye blocks or matrices from the Government Printing Office, so that their speeches may be printed wherever members desire.”
– I desire to second the amendment, and hope it will be carried. In 1904 I made in this ‘House a speech on finance and placed an order with the Government Printer for a reprint of the Hansard report. I was informed by him that if head-lines were inserted an additional charge would be made, and in order to avoid that expense I published a reprint in which no subheadings appeared. I was told by many of those to whom I sent copies of the pamphlet that I ought to have inserted crossheadings so that every reader could find without difficulty that part of the speech in which he was specially interested. One man would be interested in finance, another in something else-
– Does the honorable member think that that is pertinent to the question before the Chair?
– I hope to show that it is. Unless we obtain these blocks or matrices from the Government Printer in order that we may have our speeches reprinted by private firms we shall not. be able, by means of cross-headings, to attract the attention of the public to questions that we desire to bring under their notice. I was informed that whilst my speech was very interesting, the reprint would have been more valuable had crossheadings been inserted. For instance, those interested in borrowing would look for the heading “ Borrowing,” and those interested in the question of a Commonwealth “note issue-
– The honorable member is not addressing himself to the question immediately before the Chair.
– It is now proposed . that honorable members who desire to have their speeches reprinted by outside firms shall have the use of stereotype blocks from the Government Printing Office. Surely there can be no objection to that.
– Every objection. We should have tons of type all over the Commonwealth.
– If people do not desire to read the honorable member’s “ tripe” they need not do so.
– “Tripe” was the word used bv the interjector.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong said that there was great objection to the amendment because it would lead to Australia being flooded with “ tripe.”
– I desire to say that I said nothing of the kind.
– It is not in order for an honorable member to interrupt the honorable member addressing the Chair in order to correct a statement made by him. I ask honorable members not to interrupt the honorable member addressing the Chair nor to conduct their conversations in such tones as to make it difficult for him to proceed.
– I am going to talk whether some honorable members like it or not.
– I rise to a point of order. I should not have taken notice of the remark made by the honorable member for Darwin, but that it was repeated. I ask sir, that it be withdrawn, both by the honorable member for Darwin and the honorable member for Adelaide.
– All interjections are disorderly. I ask the honorable member for Darwin to withdraw the word to which exception is taken.
– I withdraw it.
– Does the honorable member for Adelaide withdraw his interjection ?
– Certainly, sir. I hope that all interjections will in future be withdrawn,
– I do not think that objection can reasonably be taken to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Herbert, and I trust that Ministerialists will not exercise the power they possess to suppress their weaker brethren of the Opposition. One election may turn the tide against them. They are only inviting us to come down upon them mercilessly.
– I apologize, but I warn honorable members opposite not to set us a bad example The great Abraham Lincoln, when President of the United States, said that power should always be used on the side of mercy. We ask not for mercy, but for justice. The great newspapers of Australia seldom report any of our utterances ; they are controlled, unfortunately, in the interests of the few. The press rules Australia, and a few great advertisers rule the press. That being so, what hope have the mere everyday members of placing their views before their constituents, if they are not permitted to scatter broadcast reprints from Hansard ?
– There is nothing to prevent that being done.
– We are not all millionaires like the honorable member. The Labour party represents the meek and the humble. We were chosen to represent those who had been abandoned ; those who had not been represented heretofore in Parliament, and who had to appeal to the rich men to urge their representatives to do something for them. All Australia is now represented in this Parliament, and the Labour party try to do justice to every one. The newspapers fasten on any little foolish interjection that we make, but will not report our speeches, and we ask, therefore, that this privilege shall not be denied us. When a great are lamp is set up in a dark street thieves are driven forth, and the wider the publicity given to our doings in this House the greater will be the benefit to the community. In that way bribery and corruption will be driven into the dark corners of the earth. Why should we be prevented merely because the Government have a big majority, from republishing our speeches in accordance with the old system?
– The Opposition are not prevented from doing so.
– It is useless to reprint our speeches unless we can make them attractive by means of cross-headings. We cannot hope to reach our constituents except by pamphleteering. Some of the greatest men of the world were noted pamphleteers. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote America’s immortal Declaration of
Independence, was a great pamphleteer, and Tom Paine was another. I trust that honorable members will search out their hearts, and be prepared to do unto others as they would that they should do unto them.
– Having consulted with some honorable members who are more familiar with the printing trade than I am, I have come to the conclusion that my amendment is somewhat impracticable, and, with the consent of the House, I desire to withdraw it.
.- I should like to speak to the amendment before it is withdrawn. The proposal is that any honorable member may borrow the stereos, or matrices from the Government Printer. Such a rule has been in operation in connexion with the Victorian Parliament for the last ten years, and I do not know that it is one to which the Government could take exception. These matrices can be prepared at a cost of about sixpence per Ilansard page, and an honorable member may keep it in his pigeon-hole for fifty years, because it can be used at any time. All that is necessary is to send the matrix to the printer, to have the type cast and the printing done. It was on my initiative that this plan -was adopted by the Victorian Government; and if the Commonwealth Government could see their way to extend a similar privilege to honorable members there would be no need for the amendment. I may say that the rule in Victoria has never been rescinded, and if it is not acted upon it is simply because honorable- members do not care to avail themselves of the privilege. As a believer in trade unionism, I think it would be better to have this work done by outside printing offices.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
That the only reprints permitted be an exact reproduction of Hansard, but speeches already ordered by members, with cross-headings, shall be printed and delivered.
– Before the business of the day is called upon, I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs a question without notice.
– I point out to the honorable member that the ordinary custom has been to proceed with the questions on the notice-paper when the business has been interrupted for any considerable period. I do not wish to deprive any honorable member of any right he may consider he has. I find, however, that the record is not quite clear as to whether I asked if there were any petitions or notices of motion, and, therefore, I think the honorable member may proceed.
– I desire to say, by way of explanation, that 1 did not understand the rule to be as you, Mr. Speaker, have stated. I have been waiting here for several hours to ask this question.
– The honorable member need not discuss that ruling. He may put the question.
– I am merely making an explanation. I have waited for several hours in order to put this question, and-
– An honorable member is entitled to make a personal explanation only when he has been misrepresented, and I am not aware that that is the case in the present instance.
– I was only referring to what I regard as the rather .precipitate manner in which the business was called which would exclude my question.
– Order 1 The honorable member must obey the direction of the Chair.
– I always do so. My object now is to ascertain from the Minister of External Affairs whether he has authorized the landing at Broome of a Japanese medical man for attendance on the Japanese there? Further, I desire to ask whether the Government .are in possession of information from Broome that, if a Japanese doctor be allowed to land to attend the Japanese patients, it will mean that the European medical man at present there will be driven out of the place for want of practice, and the white residents will be forced .to rely on the skill of the Japanese doctor?
– I understand the first question to be whether I have authorized the landing of the Japanese doctor, and I may say -that at present there is no application before the Department with respect to the exemption of any doctor. On a previous occasion I informed the House that a letter had been written by the Japanese Consul, asking if any exception would be taken; and he was informed that it would be possible for a Japanese doctor to land for a period of two years, provided he was a qualified medical practitioner, who intended to devote his time solely to the practice of his profession.
– Where must he be qualified - in Australia or Japan?
– I presume” qualified “ means qualified in accordance with the law of Western Australia.
– Who gave that permission ?
– That was a letter written from the Department in April last. As to the second question, there is no information in the Department that the landing of a Japanese doctor would leave no practice for the European doctor in Broome. All we have had is a notification from the Premier of Western Australia that a protest would be forwarded. That notification was by telegraph, and the protest itself has not yet arrived.
– I have it here.
– No protest has been received officially by the Department.
– Has the Minister found any record of any Ministerial action in April last, or was this not done by the head of the Department, without the knowledge of the Government?
– The official papers show no express Ministerial sanction. I understand that on the day on which the letter was written to the Japanese Consul, the then Minister of External Affairs, the honorable member for Boothby, was in Papua.
– There was no Ministerial sanction at all in the matter.
– In theevent of this Japanese medical man applying for permission to settle in Australia, is it the intention of the Minister to grant the application?
– Having been informed that a protest has been forwarded to us in connexion with this matter, it will be our duty to await its arrival in order that, beforetaking any action, we may ascertain what are the real facts of the case.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the following statement which appears in the Melbourne Herald of this evening? -
London, Wednesday night.
Considerable misapprehension prevails in press circles regarding the offer to Great Britain from the Commonwealth of a Dreadnought or its equivalent.
Some of the newspapers are discussing the offer as though the Commonwealth desired the movements of the gift Dreadnought to be restricted to Australian waters and the warship to be used independently of such general Imperial measures of defence of the Australian coast as the authorities may advise.
Another newspaper error which has led to misapprehension is that the Commonwealth desires to shorten the term of the naval agreement, which terminates in 1913.
Colonel Foxton, the Commonwealth representative at the Imperial Defence Conference, has found it necessary to make it . known that the Commonwealth Government has no desire to interfere with that arrangement.
Is the honorable member for Brisbane, who is mentioned here as Colonel Foxton, the representative of the Government, justified in announcing to the people of Great Britain the policy of the Government before that policy has been announced to the people of Australia?
– The honorable member’s statement of the facts is somewhat inexact. The late Government conveyed the intimation to the British Government, and I may assume that Colonel Foxton has been informed that there is no alteration.
– I desire to know how the Prime Minister can reasonably assume that the answer given by Colonel Foxton applied to the late Government, seeing that that Government made no offer of a Dreadnought to the Mother Country, and that the paragraph which I quoted deals with the offer of a Dreadnought by the Commonwealth ?
– The practice of asking Ministers of the Commonwealth to become responsible for newspaper paragraphs in England is a rather remarkable, and, unfortunately, a growing one. The honorable member in his question referred to two statements made in two different newspapers. One related to the offer of a Dreadnought, and did not refer to this Government. It was to the other portion of his question that I replied.
– What I desire to learn from the Prime Minister is whether Colonel Foxton was justified in giving the reply which he is alleged to have given on the authoritv of the Government?
– Yes. In future, I shall ask the honorable member and other honorable members to give notice of questions of this kind.
– I ask the Prime
Minister whether he has any recollection of my having presented a petition to this House on1st June last, signed by nearly 59,000 electors of Australia, praying that a referendum should be taken on the question of the unification of these States? If so, will he give me a definite answer as to whether the Government intend to accede to the prayer of that petition because in the event of his reply being in the negative, I propose to take further action ?
– The question is one of which the honorable member should give notice.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the fact that a most excellent collection of Australian literature and relics is now being relegated to a cellar in this House, and to ask whether the Government will take into consideration the desirableness of allowing a few specimens from that collection to be permanently placed in the Queen’s Hall? Whilst they were there they filled up the niches, and were objects of great interest to visitors. I am sure he will agree with me that it is a pity to hide them in the cellar.
– I understand that the Library Committee has charge of the exhibits in question, and I would suggest to the honorable member that he should communicate with them on the subject.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice-
If the Minister will allow all the papers in the case of Mr. G. S. Brown, Senior Clerk and Accountant, Patent Office, to be placed on the table of the Library?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As the files are very voluminous and contain matter of a more or less confidential character, it is not considered advisable to lay them upon the table of the Library, but the Minister will be pleased to afford the honorable member (for his own personal information) every facility for their perusal.
Date of Payment - Deductions
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it a fact that some of those who applied for the old-age pension prior to 1st July, but” who have not been before the Magistrate, will only receive pensions from the 29th July?
– No. In such cases pensions will be paid from 1st July.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
If, in view of the inconvenience that legal gentlemen and citizens suffer when, after office hours, it is necessary to obtain duty stamps, he will permit duty stamps of the value of is. 6d. to be obtainable at the Telegraph Office, G.P.O.?
Section 51 of the Constitution.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In the application of this principle to the facts of the case, the Court held that sections S and 8 of the Australian Industries^ Preservation Act were primarily legislation with respect to domestic trade ; and not being capable of justification as incidental to the Commonwealth power with respect to corporations, were ultra vires.
– I desire to lay upon the table-
Premiers’ Conference (Melbourne), 1909 - Correspondence betwee’n the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales (22nd June to 26th July, 1909).
That -the paper be printed.
I undertook last night to consult the Leader of the Opposition as to the method which should be adopted in bringing before the House the proposal of the Government in reference to its adjournment for a short period. We intend to invite the House to adjourn from Friday, the 13th instant - that is, to-morrow week - over the next week, and to re-assemble on the following Wednesday, instead of upon the Tuesday, in order that we may meet the convenience of representatives from Queensland and the more distant States.
– I understood that the Prime Minister intended to move a motion in favour of a special adjournment?
– If I can be assured that I shall be granted permission to do so. The Government very reluctantly propose this adjournment. We would not do so, but for the exceptional circumstances with which we are confronted, and the pressing obligations with which both Government and Parliament will very shortly be faced. Once, when a Premiers’ Conference was sitting in Melbourne, Commonwealth Ministers attended on three occasions. But as on two of these days this Parliament was sitting, they found’ it very difficult to prepare and present their case while discharging their parliamentary and departmental duties. At the forthcoming Conference, we shall be carrying a still heavier burden of responsibility. The Budget this year will deal with a situation without precedent in the history of the Commonwealth. Owing to the enormous payments to be made from the Treasury for old-age pensions, the demands of the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, and the measures to be proposed for the effective defence of the country, the financial situation requires, not only a much closer and more searching examination than usual, but also the consideration of new expedients. The preparation of the Budget is still absorbing the whole of the time and energy of Ministers, and the financial statement will be delivered next week, immediately before the assembling of the Premiers. The Premier of New South Wales, writing to me on the 22nd June, pointed out -
The State Premiers met in Hobart last March and arrived at certain resolutions unanimously as a basis for the adjustment of the financial relations of the Commonwealth with the States as a whole, and for the distribution of Commonwealth returns amongst the States. … In a few days the present financial Y:ar will have closed, and, I presume, in the light of the actual experience of another year, your Government will be better able to indicate the position for the future. Moreover, I gather from reports in the press that it is proposed to ask the States to confer -certain powers on the Inter-State Commission to regulate undue State competition in industrial matters. This would necessitate a further meeting of the State Premiers at an early date. If this occasion could also be made use of for further consideration of the financial position, I would be prepared to ask the Premiers .of the States to deal with this matter also.
He dwells on the great importance of the financial situation to the States, and asks -
If a meeting could be arranged .somewhere about the middle of August. … As the Commonwealth Parliament would then be in session, I am of opinion that the appropriate place of meeting would be Melbourne.
To that I replied, on the 30th June -
Following that letter, some telegrams passed as to the date of meeting. The Premiers fixed the 1.3th August; we informed them that we could not make it convenient to meet them earlier than the 16th; and that date was finally agreed to. They were informed that-
The propositions to be submitted to our electors will consist of a general statement in our platform of the views of this Government in respect to what may be termed a permanent settlement of the future financial relations of the States with the Commonwealth.
In one of the last letters, I point out that that was on the assumption that the temporary proposal for a fixed and shorter period had been assented to by this House. If it had not, that also would be submitted to the country. That is the gist of the correspondence. Ministers have the preparation of the Budget to engross their attention until the opening of the Conference, and when meeting the Premiers, will have to give attention to the position of the Commonwealth, not merely in regard to the current finances, but also in consequence of the expiration of the Braddon section of the Constitution at the end of 1910. General powers of taxation are jointly held and independently shared by the Commonwealth and the States, without qualification or limitation ; but the levying of indirect taxation rests wholly with the Commonwealth. The Braddon section provides that, for the first ten years, three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue must be returned to the States, leaving the remaining onefourth for the services of the Commonwealth. Hitherto, the States have largely depended for revenue on the sums returned by the Commonwealth, and are expecting to have some share of the Customs revenue, and some considerable share, to depend upon in the future. Their own finances will be governed very largely, and in some cases one might say absolutely, by the new division of the receipts from Customs and Excise after the year 1910. A consideration of that question, and a knowledge of the intention of this Parliament, are therefore of the utmost importance to the States.. But the same situation is just as full of responsibilities and anxieties for the Commonwealth itself. Its expanding necessities have to be taken into account and carefully assessed. An examination of the range of its powers has to be made, and a possible extension of those powers foreseen. We therefore,, feeling as we do our responsibility to the electors of the Common wealth, who are also the electors of the States, realize that at the coming general election one of the greatest issues to be submitted - perhaps the greatest issue of all, if we take into account the many other questions that depend directly or indirectly upon the financial position of the Commonwealth Treasury - will be the financial. As we shall be appealing to the electors we require to be fortified with such a statement of the case for the Commonwealth as will enable us to satisfy them that our demands are, not only just, but reasonable, made with a due regard to the responsibilities of Australia as a whole, and at the same time not ignoring the great responsibilities and critical positions of the several State Legislatures under any agreement which we may carry out”. On no subjects are the electors likely to require from us fuller and more complete information, on no matters are we more likely to be criticised than in respect to the proposed division of the Customs and Excise revenue, even for a period of years, and particularly if any proposals in regard to that revenue for either that period or for a longer period are associated with counterbalancing financial changes, such as the acceptance of the whole of the debts of the States. That would introduce into this problem other considerations of the greatest moment to the whole of the people of Australia in both their spheres. Under these circumstances, as I think honorable members will recognise, we find ourselves not altogether in a new situation, but in one of which many important features have become so much more marked than they have been hitherto, that it may be fairly described as a new situation. Never will the electors at the ballot-box cast their suffrages, determining by them so man momentous issues for the future as they will in the forthcoming general election. A great number of those issues will, as I have said, centre in the all-important question of finance, rendered more than trebly significant on this occasion, because it will determine our own future and also the future to a large extent of the States and their Legislatures, under any agreement which is proposed in substitution for the Braddon section. It needs no development of these considerations to remind honorable members of the great gravity of the choice to be made, and the immense importance of our being able to present to the people of Australia a clear, and,, so far as possible, a simple series of propositions in this regard, so that, when the Commonwealth Parliament is resolved into its constituent parts, and honorable members seek their constituencies, they shall be able to state the case for the Commonwealth in a pithy manner. Weseek as far as possible to set aside any qualifying considerations which may be disposed of in anticipation beforehand in order to concentrate attention upon any differences between the proposals of the Government and those of men who take a contrary view. The States and their interests have also their appeal which they will be legitimately justified in making to the country. Under these circumstances, I venture to think that it is a reasonable request of Ministers to be relieved for a week from the obligation of maintaining their attendance in Parliament, and also set free, so far as may be possible, from their departmental duties in order that they may not only enter the Conference prepared, but have at all events a few days in which the necessary delays for consideration, examination of figures, and comparison of proposals may be made. We hope that the decision of the Conference may be, if possible, final.
-How many Ministers will be present?
– Such Ministers as may be necessary will attend. There will always be the Treasurer and myself, and on occasion it is possible that one or two of our colleagues will also be needed. It is also probable that the whole Cabinet may be required to meet if that be necessary in the event of proposals being made which we have not previously considered fully.
– Will the election be held after the Conference?
– How long afterwards?
– That is more than I can inform the honorable memberat present. Supposing that an adjournment for the short time named to be justified under these special conditions, I think that honorable members will admit that the time for the adjournment has been well chosen. I could wish that it had been possible a fortnight earlier, in order that the jubilee of the great State of Queensland might have been freely attended by its representatives, and many other representatives. But it was not possible for the Premiers to arrange to meet before the 13th - a period at which most of the functions in Queensland will be over.
It would have been a great pleasure to have taken advantage of the opportunity which is thus afforded in order that the Commonwealth might have been fully represented there, as well as the States. The House, from this point of view, will, I think, allow, that the Budget having been launched, the statement of the finances of last year having been laid before honorable members, and the proposals of the Government for the current twelve months having been submitted to them, they will have abundant food for reflection and consideration during that short interval. Therefore the occasion granting that an adjournment is necessary, is probably as timely as it could be well made. But, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this is the occasion on which, if ever, in the life of this Parliament, a definite demarcation of the financial proposals of the Commonwealth, and a definite statement of the financial views and aims of the States may be really final. It will properly be called final if the sittings proposed to be held a fortnight hence fulfil their purpose. There have been already, I think, seven Conferences of Premiers with which Commonwealth Ministers have been associated in one way or another. The coming Conference will be the eighth, and probably the last of the series before the Braddon section takes its new shape, whatever that may be. The previous Conferences have exhausted a number of the open possibilities of a financial character. But the coming Conference must either find the Premiers in such’ a mood that they are prepared to consider their own requirements, their own situations and necessary demands in the light of the requirements of the Commonwealth and its future financial position, or else this Conference will not only end with a postponement and adjournment of the question, as has happened on previous occasions, but it will send the question directly to the electors in whatever form this Parliament may think fit to shape it. Certainly, this will be the last opportunity which the representatives of the States will have of considering their position together prior to the cessation of the Braddon section, or, rather, prior to the general election, which precedes by some few months the termination of the period governed by the Braddon section. Having regard to the gravity of the question to the people of Australia as electors and taxpayers to the Commonwealth, it is impossible for us to exaggerate the momentous; nature of the coming Conference from our point of view. Whatever we may do during the rest of this session, it is perfectly certain that if we are fortunate enough - as I earnestly and most anxiously hope we shall be - to arrive at a common understanding, admitted to be fair to the Commonwealth and its future, and also fair to the States-
– Will not the Senate watch the interests of the States?
– I am sure that the Senate will do its duty in regard to this question.
– Why is not the Senate to ,be represented at the Conference ?
– It will be. The Senate will have its representatives in the Government which will embody the views of the Senate and of this House, as the views of the great majority of the people of Australia. The significance of this Conference to us is even greater than to the representatives of the States, because the issue must be decided at our elections, and not at any State elections, to which the State Ministers will no doubt be looking forward. We have to shoulder the burden of national responsibility. We face the constituencies of Australia, and it will be the decision which the electors of Australia give at our forthcoming general election, and not anything that takes place at any State election,- or in any State Legislature, that will decide our financial future for the next few years. Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, it appears to us that in taking the unusual step of asking the House-to adjourn for a week, in order that an opportunity mav be afforded for the conduct of this question to a final consideration between ourselves and the Premiers, the Government are making no unreasonable demand. On the contrary, we have cut down the period to the shortest possible. We shall be happy if the proceedings are concluded within the time named. But, having in view the great pressure of business upon us, and the great mass of legislation which we require to deal with, if we are to conclude this session with a satisfactory contribution to the statute-book of Australia, we have ‘been very reluctant to ask for the suspension of the proceedings of Parliament, even for a single week. I confess that reluctance is now to some extent, tempered by the unfortunate fact that the progress we are making with our work has been by no means rapid up to this date.
Still, however, that argument is capable of being applied both ways. The principal anxiety of the Government is to be able to do justice to .their obligations, and in the circumstances which at present obtain to be able to put their case to the best advantage. For that purpose, this brief adjournment is indispensable. If, during that week for which we ask, we succeed in clarifying this issue, in getting rid of some of those matters which have hitherto been quite properly associated with it, having as a result a ten,dency to lead the public criticism aside from its main principle - if we are able to concentrate the attention of the people of the Commonwealth upon this great financial issue on this critical occasion - it will have been a week extremely well spent. I do not know that one need dwell upon the nature of the meeting arranged. We are invited to discuss the future finances of the States with the Premiers and Treasurers, and if nothing else results from the discussion but a better understanding of each other’s position, and a clearer, demarcation of our differences, as well as our agreements, that, in itself, will be worth a good deal. Of course, an agreement, if we are fortunate enough to obtain one, would mean that a great body of public opinion, which is apt to be swayed by State or local considerations, and not called upon in its local Legislatures to be much swayed by any other considerations, will be brought behind the great national sentiment upon which the Commonwealth and this Parliament depend. Ours is a Federal Constitution, and the part of that Constitution under which we have been, both by its terms and by the necessities of the situation, most closely bound to the States, is in its financial relations. As the part of the Constitution to which I refer requires the dividing of one fund raised by this Parliament between two sets of claimants, our rival necessities- must necessarily be irksome, lend -themselves to misunderstanding, and involve a certain amount of competition. All this we must be prepared for. It was in order to meet these conditions, and enable us to overcome them, that frequent Conferences have been held, which certainly have greatly assisted in making it plain to both sides what were the reasonable requirements of the other. I trust that the forthcoming Conference will be more fruitful, that all its members will be able to work together, and that, at all events, we shall approach the consideration of the issues before us with a hope that the proceedings will not terminate without an agreement which will be recognised as equitable by both sides. At all events, a great effort will be made by us to obtain finality. The Government will ask no more than fair consideration at the close of the Conference, whether they are able to agree or disagree with the body of influential and able men who are at present the principal responsible Ministers of the various States. If we are obliged to disagree with them, we shall do it at all events clearly and explicitly. We enter the Conference with every wish to be perfectly fair to the States, consistently with the necessities of the future of the Commonwealth, which we cannot cripple, and which are our peculiar and special care. There lies the. crux of the whole position. I therefore trust that honorable members will view with favour the proposal to give this brief adjournment, in order that the Conference of Premiers to be held in Melbourne shall not be rendered less effective owing to the absence of Commonwealth Ministers, who have always been willing to discuss these questions with the State Premiers. I also trust that honorable members will agree that in taking this course, we shall really be contributing to the work of this Parliament, and that the interruption is made in order that our work here may more efficiently and more rapidly proceed. I desire, therefore, to move -
That the House, at its rising on Friday, 13th August, adjourn until Wednesday, 25th August.
– It will be necessary first of all to dispose of the motion for the printing of the paper.
– I presume that discussion will be allowed on the other motion which the Prime Minister desires to move ?
– It will be necessary for the Prime Minister to obtain leave to move the subsequent motion.
– On a point of order, I wish to ask whether the Prime Minister can submit a further motion without the leave of the House ?
– The question before the House is that a certain paper be printed. In. order that there may be no confusion, after that motion has been disposed of, the Prime Minister will have to obtain leave to submit his motion with regard to the adjournment of the House at its rising on 13th August. Of course, if leave is not given, it might be better to discuss the question that has been raised on the motion for the printing of the paper.
– There should foe no objection to leave being given to the Prime Minister to move the second motion tonight.
– I shall object.
– It is by arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition.
– Do I understand that the Prime Minister moves that the paper be printed ?
– I must do so unless there is an understanding that the other motion will be submitted. I think the second motion is the more desirable to debate.
– I think so, too.
– If I have the power I shall object to the second motion being moved to-night.
– That disposes of the matter. The question is -
That the paper laid upon the table be printed.
– I understood from the Prime Minister, when he left me about an hour ago, that he intended to move a motion such as theone of which notice has just been given. I did not think that he would anticipate it by moving that a paper be printed, and make a carefully prepared speech on the question of the financial relationship of the Commonwealth and the States, and the duty devolving upon the Government and the House of dealing seriously with financial and other issues at the earliest possible moment. I agree with him that the financial position of the Commonwealth is serious from one point of view, but I do not agree with him that it presents a new situation. It has been serious for some years, and the Prime Minister is as much responsible for it as is any other member in the Chamber. At a time when money was required for the public services of the Commonwealth, different Governments returned freely to the States amounts in excess of what the Constitution demanded. No complaint need be made about that now beyond this : that the various Governments then allowed the PostmasterGeneral’s and Defence Departments to fall into a state of inefficiency to the detriment of the Commonwealth and with no distinct advantage to the States.
– They did so under a misapprehension of their constitutional rights.
– I admit it. We are indebted to the honorable member for Flinders for the legal acumen which he displayed in discussing that aspect of the question some years ago. Many of us laymen have to rely to a great extent upon the assistance of the legal gentlemen advising the Government and the legal members of the House. I as a layman thought that we could not put any of the surplus of our one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue to a trust fund until the expiration of the book-keeping period. That opinion may or may not have been correct, but no complaint can be made now of the Commonwealth taking full advantage of its constitutional powers by the Surplus Revenue Act. I do not agree with the Prime Minister that there are any more- tremendous issues to be discussed at the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference than have been discussed since the first of those Conferences met. The very first issue debated by the Premiers when they first met was the operation of the Braddon section. Their principal object in meeting was to endeavour to come to an agreement with the Commonwealth for the continuation of that section indefinitely. Proposals have been made from time to time to them by representatives of the Commonwealth Government, but none has been accepted. It is true that in one instance an attempt was made to accept, but the proposal was never adopted by the whole of the States nor by the Commonwealth. Government. The Prime Minister now speaks of the tremendous financial and other difficulties that must be dealt with prior to the pending general election of the Commonwealth. Those difficulties have always existed, and will still exist. No amount of declamation that the electors of the Commonwealth and the electors of the States are one and the same will get us out of them any more readily than would a plain statement of the fact that the Commonwealth requires and must have a greater proportion of the revenue that it collects than it has at present, in order to carry on the great public services of this country. Why do not the Government say so? What is the use of oratorical flourishes in a matter of this kind?
– The Prime Minister has just said so very clearly.
– I am glad to hear it. I took down one phrase which in itself was quite clear, but I did not understand what the Prime Minister .meant by it. I understood him to state that his proposition must be for a permanent settlement, but he afterwards qualified that by calling it “ what may be regarded as a permanent settlement.” That qualification does not assist him at all.
– The honorable member cannot suggest any settlement that the people of Australia could not alter.
– That is true. But this Parliament has the power to legislate in such a way as to claim from the 1st day of January, 191 1, a larger share of the Customs and Excise revenue than it obtains at present.
– It cannot make any arrangement permanent as against future Parliaments.
– No; but this Parliament can legislate in that direction at once, and need not wait until 1911. If the Prime Minister is so sure of his ground, and if the Government, several of the members of which are legal members, and another a distinguished Treasurer, know exactly what the Commonwealth necessities are, why do they not state them to the House? Why should the Prime Minister make a statement in his own capacity, and not as Treasurer, as to the enormous responsibilities and requirements of the Commonwealth, the great necessities of the States, the insufficiency of the revenue to carry out both those services, and the great and onerous duties that will devolve upon the people at the next election? Why not make now a plain, straightforward statement of the necessities of the Commonwealth ?
– That will come in the Budget.
– That is a good point. The Government are taking credit to themselves for the fact that the Treasurer will make his Budget speech just prior to the adjournment of the House over the Premiers’ Conference. They do not intend that their Budget statement shall receive a single word of criticism from the members of this House until the organs of the press that are friendly to them have an opportunity to assist them to hide its weaknesses, and to give prominence to its good points, if it happens to have any. This may be a very clever political move, but I doubt whether it will benefit the Commonwealth in any way. I have, from time to time, joined with other members of ‘ this House in endeavouring to secure a full discussion of financial questions. I have regarded it as a distinct weakness in the proceedings of this Parliament that during the last four or five years we have had practically no financial discussions apart from those attaching to the consideration of Budget statements, and the necessities of the Government Departments. Because the two largest States of the Commonwealth adjoin, and their centres of population are nearer to the Seat of Government than are the’ centres of population of the other States, honorable members are apt to forget that there is a very large body of electors who never learn what actually transpires in this Parliament. Honest men and women in Australia have the most mistaken ideas as to our attitude on important public questions. They have no conception of the financial position of the ‘Commonwealth. I state the bare fact when I say that there are many newspapers, reputable in their own way, that grossly misrepresent every financial proposal put forward in this Chamber. Some of the most sober and sensible financial proposals have been entirely misrepresented To give an illustration, let me remind the House that the honorable member for Hume, as Treasurer, proposed that ,£6,000,000 should be returned to the States, and that, after an interval of five years, the amount returned should be increased by onethirtieth each year, ‘ for thirty years, so that, at the end of thirty-five years, the permanent annual contribution to the revenues of the State Governments would amount to £9,000,000. That proposal was misrepresented to such an extent that some newspapers stated again and again that the honorable gentleman proposed to return to the States only £6, 000,000 annually for all time. Why should we permit statements of that kind to be published, when, by a discussion on the financial position in this House, we might enable the electors in every State to understand the true position? The honorable member for Mernda submitted a scheme for the taking over of the State debts, which, from my point pf view, was a very acceptable one. I do not think, from what I know of the State Premiers and Governments that they are prepared at the present time to allow the Commonwealth to take over the State debts.
– The States will regret it later.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is correct, if he means that the electors of the Commonwealth, who are the people who have to bear the burden, will regret it. The Treasurer has said, and every other Treasurer of the Commonwealth has indorsed the opinion, that if the Commonwealth Government were to handle the State debts they would be able to convert them at a lower rate of interest than is now being paid upon them, and in that way we should be able, in the near future, to save for the people a very large sum annually. The great advantage of the adoption of such a proposal would be that it would bring about an absolute and permanent severance of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and States. From my point of view, that is most, desirable. It would’, perhaps, be out of place for me to express any further opinion on matters which the Government intend to submit to the Premiers’ Conference. The Prime Minister’s remarks left upon me the impression that the Government are going into the Conference, not to maintain the rights of the Commonwealth, but to conciliate the representatives of the States. It is quite true that the honorable gentleman said that there would he conflicting opinions expressed. That is inevitable. But I am not sanguine that the present or any other Government of the Commonwealth will be able to induce the representatives of. the States to accept a permanent solution of our financial difficulties, which will be fair and just to the Commonwealth. The fact is that we are still so near to the time when Federation was accomplished that State Premiers, Governments, and Parliaments are unable to free themselves from the idea that the States are supreme in everything. It is true that the State Governments have grave responsibilities. They have great work to perform, within their sphere of action, in helping to promote the progress and settlement of the country. But their responsibilities are as nothing compared to those which are now cast on the Government of the Commonwealth.
– Take the matter of defence alone.
– I take also the industrial legislation which we have just been considering, in making provision for the payment of old-age pensions. As the Prime Minister has said, we have, under that legislation, cast a great responsibility on the Commonwealth Government.
– The State Governments have resented it.
– It is quite true that they have. We ought not to regard too seriously the resentment of the State Governments. We should try to recognise that the powers with which they are now vested are being transferred to Federal authority from time to time. No authority cares to have its wings clipped, or its dignity lessened. It would! humiliate this Parliament, and injure the interests of the people if any Federal Government were to go to the Premiers of the States, and give away the rights of this Parliament in such a way as to interfere with the permanent progress of the Commonwealth. That is the true position, and it should be calmly and faithfully put before the representatives . of the States. I oan speak freely on this matter, because the late Government felt obliged at the Hobart Conference to offer the Premiers of the States a smaller sum than any previous Government had offered them as a permanent settlement of the great financial question.
– That offer was made in the Gympie speech’.
– I thank the honorable member for his correction.
– At the Premiers’ Conference, the honorable member said that he did not know what he was going to do.
– If the honorable member will do me the honour of reading what I did say, he will find .that I stated that I felt it .an honour, to receive an invitation to be present ; that I thanked the Premiers for the courtesy they had extended to me ; but that, as Prime Minister, I met them only as I should meet any other body to. discuss in a friendly way the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. 1 cast no reflection on the Senate by attending that Conference. Honorable members of another place have been elected for the specific purpose of conserving State rights, and, with all respect to the Premiers and those associated with them, who have taken part in these Conferences from time to time, I cannot refrain from saying that that part of their deliberations in which the)- attempted to usurp the rights of the Senate is the least valuable of their contributions to the proceedings. The time may come when senators will take up the position that they alone have the constitutional power to deal with the relations of the Commonwealth and the States. I have always felt that we cannot have too many Conferences and consultations; and that, when kept within their proper sphere, they must be very beneficial. I ask the Prime Minister now whether he thinks that in his elaborate statement he has proved the case for a week’s adjournment. I think not. The Prime Minister carefully repeated the statement that he has made again and again since he first left office, that the Parliament has an enormous quantity of work awaiting its attention. That “statement has been made by him on the public platform, as well as in this House during the present session. And yet what do we find on the business-paper ? Not one proposition of magnitude.
– Who is responsible for that ?
– The Government. A day or two ago the Minister of Defence asked leave to introduce a Bill to provide the necessary authority to place our defences on a proper basis. But, having obtained that leave he was not prepared to go on ; he had no Bill ready to present. The Government have . been given every opportunity to bring forward business.
– This suggestion of duress has been carried rather too far. Again and again I have felt that the Government desire nothing more than that time should pass away without any serious business being undertaken.
– Does the honorable member say that after wasting day after day?
– What did the honorable member do when he was Leader of the Opposition?
– The honorable member for Parramatta may regard his suggestion as a clever one; but, whilst I have been in this House, I have never wasted for any purpose whatever a single hour of public time, nor have I countenanced any waste of public time, for even party purposes.
– Then it has been done in spite of the honorable member.
– It has not.
– If there has been a w aste of time - and I am- not going to deny the authority of the Minister of Defence to speak on the subject - I fear that some honorable members on this side of the House have been smitten by the bad example which the honorable gentleman set when he was Leader of the Opposition. I deny, however, that there has been any obstruction on the part of the Opposition.
– Four adjournment motions in a fortnight.
– The Prime Minister has said again and again that there is a great deal of important business to be transacted. From time to time he has stated in public that the Government have twenty-three or twenty-four measures prepared and ready to go on with, and at the Australian Natives’ Association banquet in January last he outlined a long list of measures which had been left in hand by the late Government. It is a distinguishing feature of the Administrations which the Prime Minister has led that they have always had plenty of measures on the stocks. Indeed, it is impossible to think of any legislative subject that has not been proposed by one or other of the Government.? which he has led, or in respect of which memoranda or reports have not been submitted by them. No one can hope to originate any scheme that has not been included at some time or Other in the honorable member’s programme. Notwithstanding the volume of work that demands our attention, the Prime Minister now wishes to waste another week. He desires an adjournment, in order, as he says, that he and his Ministers may be able to attend the Conference of Premiers, and to hold Cabinet meetings. Why is the Cabinet to meet in the meantime? Has not the Prime Minister told us that the Treasurer will deliver his Budget before the Conference takes place? If, on attending the Conference, he finds that the Budget is not the correct one-
– The Budget is for next vear.
– The Budget is’ for the current financial year, and not for next year. The honorable member is very_keen on these matters, but I am sure that the Prime Minister is quite able to get out of any difficulty, if he is in one. According to the honorable gentleman, the next Budget is one of the most important that is ever likely to be delivered here; and if the Government know what is necessary for trie Commonwealth, they should declare their financial policy in that Budget. If their policy is a settled one, it will be. very easy for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to say to the Conference, “ These are the propositions which we think are in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and we shall be glad, indeed, if you can agree; but, failing agreement, we stand by them.”
– Would not a. letter do just as well?
– The Minister of Defence has found an easier way. Is he in conflict with the Prime Minister ?
– There is no _need to go on with the motion, if the Prime Minister does as the honorable member suggests.
– If we understand the Minister of Defence aright, the Budget, apparently, is not to include any of the matters to be discussed at the Conference.
– The honorable member suggested that the Government should simply announce their proposals and ask the Conference to agree, and that, if the Conference did not agree, we should simply go on our way. Why make any suggestion to the Conference?
– There are one of two positions which the Government must take up; they must either lay down their financial policy in the Budget and stand by it, or they must lay down a temporizing policy and adjust it with the Premiers of the States. Either we have a Government prepared to stake its existence on the policy it has adopted in the interests of the Commonwealth, or we have a Government which will pander to anybody able to give then: a short lease of life, even though that may mean disaster to the Commonwealth for the time being. That may be strong language, but it is the -only language fitted for the occasion. If the Government find themselves in any way embarrassed in attending the Conference while Parliament is sitting, I shall promise to give any protection desired for any number of Ministers. No person in my position could do more than that. I do not think that Ministers will find the strain of the Conference very severe; and if the Prime Minister agrees to withdraw this motion, I shall give him that pledge and promise.
– Of course, I considered that before I made this proposal.
– Considered what?
– Considered whether it was possible to do that.
– I would not, in ordinary circumstances, have given such an assurance, but I know how assiduously it is being whispered throughout the country, in every conceivable corner and newspaper, that the Government have been obstructed and prevented from doing business.
– That is the fact, so far.
– This is the most childlike and humiliated Government I ever saw ! The Government have a majority composed of all the talents and influence, and yet they declare - poor things ! - that they are prevented from carrying on the business of the country. I have heard similar statements made and persisted in before, and always by Coalition Governments; and I have had experience of three.
– The honorable member said the same himself when on the Government side.
– If so, I was always prepared to take proper means to give effect to the will of the majority.
– And the honorable member did so.
– I think we did ; at any rate, the Prime Minister knows I was always ready to give effect to the will of the majority. It is time this childish nonsense was dropped by the Government, and that they declared a policy the people can understand. For the Prime Minister to tell us, on a motion for the printing of a paper, that he desires a week’s adjournment, so that he may be able to hold intermittent Cabinet meetings after the financial policy has been declared, is a weakness I never anticipated he would display to the House. I cannot agree, on behalf of the Opposition, to the proposed adjournment. In making that statement I find myself in the usual difficulty that we have not a direct proposition before vs.
– That is not my fault.
-I should have been much better pleased if the Prime Minister had been able to agree to submit a motion for the proposed adjournment.
– Notice could be given to-night, and the motion submitted tomorrow.
– I asked the Prime Minister to submit the motion as early as possible, so that honorable members representing distant constituencies might be able to make their arrangements if an adjournment did happen to be authorized, and I further promised that, so far as I was able, consistently with the importance of the matter, to confine the discussion within reasonable limits.
– What about those of us who have no chance of getting to our States during the adjournment?
– No doubt there is a difficulty in that regard, but I am sure that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would not desire that other honorable members should be deprived of a short visit to their States, merely because time will not permit of his returning to Western Australia.
– I do not think there is any justification for the adjournment.
– That is another matter, though I agree with the honorable member. I regret that the Government see fit to ask for a further delay of one week in proceeding with important business, which, according to their own statements, ought to be concluded at the earliest possible moment.
– I had thought that some member on the Government side would follow the honorable member for Wide Bay. I rise to object to the Prime Minister submitting, at this hour of the night, and without notice, a proposal to adjourn the House for practically twelve days.
– He practically gave notice of it last week.
– He did not. My way of fighting is not to give anything away ; and I will screw the necks of some of those who say nasty things about me by-and-by.
– I ask the honorable member to conduct the debate on lines which will insure it being carried on with due decorum. I scarcely heard the expression which he used, but I think he indulged in a threat of physical violence.
– The honorable member for Bourke has been rude to me several times to-day, and unlesshe keeps quiet whilst I am speaking, he must expect a rejoinder.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member has threatened to screw our necks. He knows that I am excessively nervous, and I hope that he will be compelled to withdraw that threat.
– Since it appears that the Minister of Defence thought the threat was applied to him, I must ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw it.
– I did not make any attack upon the Minister. He was a long way from my thoughts. In addition, I did not use the term which has been attributed to me, except in a political sense.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether interjections are permissible, and, if not, will you, sir, put a stop to them?
– Interjections are very disorderly ; and I must ask honorable members to refrain from making them, as they only serve to provoke other interjections. I understand that the honorable member for Hume has withdrawn the remark which the Minister of Defence regarded as personally offensive.
– I did not threaten to wring the necks of honorable members opposite in a physical sense. If I have said anything to which objection can be taken, most certainly I withdraw it. I protest against this motion being tabled without notice, between 10 and11 p.m.
– The Prime Minister made a clear statement of his intention last week.
– Clear statements do not often emanate from the Prime Minister ; and, whatever he may have said last week, I was content to ignore, because there is a proper course to pursue in connexion with this matter, and that course was to give due notice of this motion. During an early stage in to-day’s sitting, I withdrew an objection whichI had raised, and which enabled the Prime Minister to filch from private members the time that should have been devoted to their business. Last year, when the Premiers’ Conference was sitting, this Parliament did not adjourn, and I venture to say that there has been no period in the history of the Commonwealth when its financial position was more acute than it was then. It will be recollected that the proposal outlined by the honorable member for Mernda in regard to the adjustment of the future financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, was submitted to that gathering in a modified form. On that occasion, I submitted figures to the Prime Minister, which are in the Treasury to-day, and I will undertake to say that, within two days they can be brought up to date. Where, then, is the necessity for this long adjournment, or for the wordy statement of the Prime Minister, in which he was careful - as he always is - to leave a loop-hole for escape. The proposal for an adjournment comes with specially bad grace from him, seeing that at the beginning of the session he refused to allow the late Government an opportunity to defend themselves or their policy, upon the ground that the time at our disposal was so short. His very next step, however, was to secure an adjournment of Parliament for three weeks, notwithstanding that under similar circumstances it had never previously adjourned for more than two weeks. His action constituted the first waste of time that had occurred during the current session.
– The Government obtained that adjournment to enable them to get their Bills ready.
– And they are not ready now. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to write articles alleging waste of time on the part of the Opposition, and for the press to support them. I do not hesitate to say that there has been less waste of time by the Opposition in this Parliament than has occurred in any other Parliament with which I am familiar. I have read the newspaper articles to which I have alluded ; and I know the authors of them, and those articles may yet result in one or two libel actions, because I will not stand nonsense by understrappers who are being “egged on” by the head of the Government. The Treasurer need not hold up his finger, because it is not a very good one. It is a thick finger, and not an artistic one. During the period that was occupied in debating the want of confidence motion, the Government should have prepared the Bills which they intend to submit to Parliament. But we find that none of those measures have been prepared. Why ? Because the “ Confusion “ party cannot agree among themselves. They have some very ugly and knotty questions to decide, especially in connexion with matters of defence, and consequently it is hard for them to arrive at an agreement. What I cannot avoid seeing, is that the Prime Minister is endeavouring, by all sorts of pretexts, to cause delay, in order that he may not be called upon to take up any serious and concentrated position. I know him of old. I have no hesitation in saying that the State Premiers will never again be offered such liberal terms by the Commonwealth as they were offered on the occasion of their last Conference.
– Far too liberal.
– Probably they are. We offered to take over , £6,000,000 of interest at once, leaving £2,000,000 to be paid by the States for a period of five years, after which the Commonwealth would reduce the amount by one- thirtieth annually, and, at theend of thirty-five years, would shoulder the whole responsibility for debts and interest. Had the debts of the States, including those of South Australia, been taken over by the Commonwealth, there would be no need for the discussion which we are now having regarding the Northern Territory. When the Prime Minister and I last met the Premiers, they were supposed, as a whole, to have the confidence of their States. But now the Queensland Premier has a majority of only one, and the Premiers of South Australia and Western Australia are in the same position. What will be the value of any arrangement made with Governments, which are toppling over? The Queensland Government are likely to fall almost immediately, I believe.
– The Commonwealth Government, however, are in a strong position.
– At the elections it will come down like a ton of bricks. The party opposite is the “ Confusion “ party. They cannot make any definite and straightforward statement of policy, because they are not agreed. I have already asked how long the Tariff is to remain in abeyance, but the Free Traders and the little Protectionist section cannot agree, and, therefore, wish to put the matter off indefinitely. The Government have to provide for defence. Ministers should come to an arrangement as to what their defence policy is to be, and what they will spend during the first two or. three years. They should know by now how much will be required for old-age pensions.
– How much will be required ?
– I cannot say, but I think that too much is asked for. More is being asked than I anticipated could reasonably be required. It is, however, for the Government to estimate what is needed. Ministers must know, too, what is required for the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– They do not.
– They must know, unless the Postal Commission is going to recommend them to double the amount. I know what it is within a very small sum. The Northern Territory Acceptance Bill will be dealt with in two or three days, and Ministers ought to know what expenditure it will necessitate, and how much will be required for the railway to Port Darwin and for that from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– They are not serious about these proposals.
– At any rate, I am. Those two railways should be carried out. Why must all the Ministers attend the Conference of Premiers? What have they been doing since they came into power? Merely sitting in their offices twiddling their thumbs,nstead of getting Bills ready. It will be a crime if the Ministry tries to make the financial question a party one. The Prime Minister is capable of doing so, and it would appear from his speech that he intends to do so. In a matter of that sort he is an adept. But the result will be detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth and of the States. The Government should make no arrangement with the Premiers, and any proposals recommended should be put before this Parliament.
– The Government have a majority.
– I have fought majorities before, and have not been long in defeating them. On one occasion, with a party of seventeen, I eventually defeated a party that originally numbered sixty, I am afraid that the Government will attempt to bind this Parliament for electioneering purposes. That will be very reprehensible. We should not be financially under the heels of the States. I speak from experience when I say that no arrangement will be made with the Premiers, unless the Government gives away more than it should. Our responsibilities are very great. We could at any time come to the assistance of States, if they were in difficulty, but we should see, first of all, that the Commonwealth is placed above them in matters of finance.I am afraid that the Government will not do that. The Treasurer on a previous occasion almost abandoned to the States the powers of the Commonwealth. With his robustness and bluff he can over-ride the Prime Minister, who is like a child in his hands. I am afraid lest something shall be done for which we shall be sorry in the future.
– No arrangement will be binding for ever.
– I judge from the remarks of the Prime Minister that a big borrowing policy is intended. Unless we borrow, we shall need the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue within a few years if we take over the debts of the States. There will not be harmony between the Commonwealth and States until the financial bond between them is severed. Let that happen at once, and then let us see what is to be done. If the States do not agree to reasonable proposals, the Commonwealth can assume about £200,000,000 of debts without their consent. I presume, however, that we shall be able to discuss the proposed adjournment to-morrow.
– Why not settle it to-night ?
– That is a highly improper proposal, considering the lateness of the hour and the gravity of the situation. The Government have not been able to go on with business because it has not had measures ready, but it has basely attempted to charge the Opposition with wasting time.
– The honorable member’s leader knew all about the arrangements.
– I do not want to talk to thehonorable member at all. Let him mind his own business.
– Why did not the honorable member follow his leader, who agreed to this?
– I am used to parliamentary practice. I am pretty well accustomed to the Prime Minister, but lately he has done things which I never thought he was capable of doing, and therefore I am more suspicious of anything he does than ever I was before. I do not wish, however, to deal with that matter to-night. I firmly believe that it will be a waste of time to adjourn the House for twelve days- that is, over five sitting days - when good work could, be done. This adjournment is only wanted by the Government so that they may defer the statement of their defence proposals and the submission of other matters which should have been brought to a head long ago. The other night the Prime Minister made a very hot speech, in which he accused the Opposition of wasting time. He could have had no other object in making that speech than to irritate the Opposition, with a view to causing them to waste time. I said at the time that it was not a speech which should be thought much of, but one which was made for the purpose of causing the Opposition to lose their temper, and enable the press behind the Government to say,’” Oh, what a terrible waste of time.” I presume, sir, that to-morrow there will be another opportunity of dealing with the question of adjournment, and thereforeI shall not say any more on the subject now.
– The proposal to adjourn the House for a week” to enable Ministers to discuss the financial question with the State Premiers is, I think, a matter of momentous importance. At the Conference of Premiers, the Prime Minister proposes to apportion £8,000,000 for all time, or until such time as the people reverse the decision which shall then be arrived at. If that is not a question on which an honorable member should speak, I do not know what is. I hold that the Parliament which raises the money should have the responsibility of spending it. Up to last year, the Commonwealth had returned to- the States not less than £8,000,000 per year, and in order to do that our services were impoverished. The post, telegraph, and telephone services throughout the Commonwealth have been impoverished to such an extent as to require, on the computation of the present Postmaster-General, an expenditure of , £2,000,000 in order to put them in fair working order. The State Treasurers were so desirous of obtaining every penny they could that they tried to show that the Surplus Revenue Act was unconstitutional, in order that they might be able to appropriate every fraction it was possible to obtain, and leave the services controlled by the Commonwealth impoverished.
– Only what we did not spend.
– They were always clamouring at the Treasury for more money. They got all the surplus, and then they were so ungrateful as to tell the country that the impoverished services were so badly managed, and the payments were so paltry, and mean, as to show the incapacity of the Federal Government to manage the affairs of the Commonwealth. That is the kind of ingratitude we got from the State Treasurers, who were for ever clamouring at the Treasury for the last fraction of the surplus. It behoves the Government, through the Prime Minister, at the Conference, to see that the Commonwealth shall retain sufficient money for its requirements, not for the present, but for the future. It should be remembered that we have to provide for the taking over of the Northern Territory, and the naval and military defence of the Commonw ealth.
– Would the honorable member provide that sum out of the present revenue ?
– The honorable member has asked a very fair question. If we are in favour of taking over the Northern Territory - and that is part of the policy of the Government - we must be prepared to finance it to the extent of ,£150,000 a year. At the present time the Government have £8,000,000 which they propose to appropriate by an arrangement with the States for all time. I desire to say a few words to-night on what I regard as a momentous question. This is the only occasion on which we shall have an opportunity of raising our voices on behalf of our constituents before that money is practically appropriated, because the agreement entered into by the Prime Minister with the States will have to be kept.
– It will be made subject to the approval of Parliament.
– The Prime Minister, whoever he may be, represents a majority in the Parliament, and whatever he pledges himself to must be either kept or his will be rejected.
– It will all depend upon the arrangement.
– That is not so.
– The same- argument will apply to the agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory. All agreements are made subject to parliamentary approval.
– Certainly the agreement will be subject to the approval of Parliament, and, if it does not approve, the Prime Minister will return his commission and ask the Governor-General to send for some one else to advise him. But while the present Government have a majority at their back they can pledge this Parliament. The Prime Minister intimated that he would go to the country with his policy, and, in reply to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, he said, by way of explanation, that for) the present it would be settled, but that it could not be said to be settled for all time, because the people could alter it. That would mean an appeal to the people by referendum for an amendment of the Constitution. The Prime Minister did not explain whether he intended to ask the people to approve of the grant by Statute to the States for a limited period or for all time. I did read in a newspaper that he said that it would be a tentative arrangement for something like five years. I am disposed to think that we should not, even for five years, appropriate the sum of ,£8,000,000, because we know very well that our expenditure on old-age pensions, quarantine, and navigation will account for about £2,000,000. But there is another sum of j£3, 000,000 which the States should be told that they must not expect to receive in the future. It should be made known that the Commonwealth .will take over from the States, with their approval, or, if not with their approval, with the consent of the people, services that will require another sum of ,£3,000,000, so that we who raise the money shall have the responsibility of spending it, when he can economize for the States if they themselves will not do so. We should take over the Judiciary, and manage it just as we now manage the High Court. The States Treasurers must be given to understand that we cannot hand over to them the millions that have been paid to them in the past. The immediate requirements of the Commonwealth will absorb something like ,£3,000,000. The States have received about ,£8,000,000 per annum out of a revenue of ,£10,500,000. When we have fulfilled all our obligations, and taken over further services, there will be a balance of perhaps ,£2,000,000 which can be paid to the States. But there should be the stipulation that that payment is but tentative, and made on the condition that the States would do something national and satisfactory for the people. They should initiate a progressive land settlement policy, for instance, so that we may induce immigrants to come to Australia with some likelihood of settling them.
– Why not abolish the States altogether?
– There is no necessity to abolish the States. I am not proposing that.
– The honorable member is, indeed.
– Under present circumstances, we are raising money for the States to spend which this Government could expend more economically. Let them attempt to raise revenue for themselves, and the electors will want to know what they propose doing with it. Why should we tax the people to enable the State Governments to squander millions? It is about time something was said on this subject. What have the States to show for the millions which they have received from the Commonwealth? Yet they are clamouring for more. We have impoverished the services of the Commonwealth, notably the mail services and postal facilities, whilst State politicians have been stumping the country, and maligning this Parliament, representing that the services controlled by us were mismanaged.
– -Where have millions been squandered by the States?
– If it were necessary for my argument, there would be no difficulty in snowing how mil-lions have been squandered. But the point which I wish to make clear is that as we raise the money, we should be responsible for the spending of it. If the Minister of Defence knows nothing about the millions of money returned to the States - representing the surplus revenue - which have been squandered, he is very ill-informed. In addition, New South Wales has borrowed several millions of pounds, and has very little to show for that money. I had no intention of being drawn into any reference to the extravagance of the States ; but I do protest when I see and hear State Ministers deriding the Commonwealth Parliament, and the services which we control, whilst not one Minister representing the Commonwealth has had the courage to stand up and defend his Department. We have simply ladled out money, whilst our own Departments have been strangled or impoverished. We have cut down mail services, and inconvenienced the whole community. The evidence collected by the Postal Commission affords proof of what I say. The question with which we are faced is a momentous one. The Prime Minister has not told us what his policy is to be. Now is the time for honorable members to speak. I approve of the Prime Minister meeting the Premiers on the present occasion. I have not approved of other Conferences of the kind ; because T considered that, instead of the Commonwealth taking its policy from the State Premiers, we should have laid down . the Commonwealth financial policy for their guidance. But the State Premiers, on this occasion, should not be allowed to live in a fool’s paradise. They should be plainly told that they are not to expect, in future, the immense sums they have had in the past, and that they must raise revenue from their own resources, but not behind the backs of their constituents.
– The honorable member’s remarks about squandering may apply to New South Wales; but they do not apply to Western Australia and Tasmania.
– There has not been squandering in New South Wales either.
– For the present, I shall not refer to other States than New South Wales.
– New South Wales has had £25,000,000 from the Commonwealth in eight years.
– What have the States done with this money, which was surplus revenue, and what have they done with the millions that they have borrowed and spent? If they want to spend, let them raise their own revenue. We are not- justified in raising as much as we do; but as we do raise it, let us be responsible for spending it. We can ask the States to hand over the Judiciary, as we are taking control of old-age pensions, navigation, and quarantine. These services will represent £5,000,000. The balance might be handed to the States, so long as they spend it judiciously, and for national purposes. But it should only be handed over tentatively. There is no reason why the Commonwealth should not launch out into fresh lines of policy. ( There is no reason why we should not carry out a policy of reclaiming and settling lands if the States bungle the business. We have justas much power to reclaim estates as the States have. I admit that they should do it better than we can, provided they work on judicious and national lines.
– We have to find the money for the Inter- State Commission.
– There is plenty of money for covering that service. I think that” honorable members should have something to say on the motion under con’sideration, even if we sit for three or four hours longer. The Prime Minister should be given to understand what we think and recommend, and should not meet the Premiers in a false position. I have made my views clear, and I hope the Prime Minister will be as candid to the Premiers as he was to us to-night. I thought he made a very clear statement. It suited me very well, and if he acts up to it the Premiers will find for the first time that they are not in the future to have the control of millions to spend as they like.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he will agree to the adjournment of the debate at this stage?
– If the other motion is coming on to-morrow this motion might’ be allowed to go through.
– This debate cannot be adjourned. The motion will have to be submitted to-night.
– I shall be quite willing to sit down if the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition will fix a time for the other motion, so as to allow ample opportunity for it to be discussed.
– I will consider the business and give notice on Tuesday to move the motion at some fixed time, probably Wednesday next.
– The Budget is fixed for Thursday.
– Then say Wednesday.
– I see no reason for postponing the debate on the main question until Wednesday. I quite agree with the honorable member for Robertson. He made a speech that does him credit. It shows that he at least considers the National Parliament as against the State Parliaments. Why cannotthe Prime Minister give an assurance that the debate will come on on Tuesday next, so that every honorable member may speak on the. question if he desires? It is theduty of every honorable member if he represents Australia to speak on it. Wednesday will be too late, because the Budget speech will be delivered on Thursday.
– I shall fix it for Wednesday in. all probability. I shall have to adjust the business.
– I do not want to put the Prime Minister in a difficulty, but the House should have a fair and reasonable opportunity to debate the question. To fix it for Wednesday would confine the debate upon this most important matter to a very short space of time. I believe every honorable member is prepared to allow the Prime Minister to give notice of the motion to-night for Tuesday next.
– Leave was refused by the honorable member for Hume.
– I heard the honorable member for Corio, who is one of the Prime Minister’s own followers, refuse him leave in a similar fashion. I want to speak on the question, but I do not wish to be forced to speak to-night or to condense my speech into a few minutes.
.- The discussion on this motion may not come on until Wednesday evening, and so we may have a late sitting to complete it prior lo the Budget speech on Thursday. The Prime Minister has expressed his views on the question, and I do not see why other honorable members should not express theirs for the benefit of the State Premiers before they meet. The Prime Minister evidently intended his speech to be taken notice of by the Premiers. I do not want to take up time in discussing the question of the printing of the paper.
– We have to put the Defence Bill through on Tuesday.
– That Bill, like a number of others, appears to be merely a placard with no serious intention behind it. Very likely those Bills are being introduced one after the other in order to impress the State Premiers when they meet. We ought to have an opportunity of discussing this question at reasonable length.
– The honorable member has his opportunity now.
– I refer to the question of the adjournment of the House over the Premiers’ Conference.
– That is not the question now before the Chair.
– Considerable latitude was allowed to the Prime Minister in discussing the motion for the printing of a paper. If a new discussion is initiated on Wednesday evening it may cause an all-night sitting, and upset the arrangements for the Budget speech on Thursday. If the Prime Minister leaves the discussion of the proposal until Wednesday, he must be prepared to accept responsibility for an all-night sitting, to enable honorable members to ventilate their views on financial questions prior to the meeting of the Premiers’- Conference.
– If honorable members are compelled to duplicate their speeches on this question, the fault willlie with the Government.
– We shall soonhave to consider whether we will allow- honorable members to duplicate and triplicate their speeches.
– I was not addressing the Minister of Defence, whose interjection ought not, in fairness, to be applied to me, as I am not in the habit of duplicating my speeches. If I am obliged to do so on this question, the fault will rest with the Government. If they intended to give honorable members an opportunity to discuss the proposed adjournment, they might have given’ notice of the motion in the ordinary way, and so have prevented a duplication of the debate. It is not quite fair that the Government, having an opportunity to conduct the business in a perfectly regular way, should bring this matter forward in such a manner that they must ask the special grace of the Opposition, and then turn round and complain of a waste of time.
– It was by arrangement with the honorable member’s leader.
– But the Prime Minister has not carried out the arrangement with the Leader of the. Opposition.
– I have done so as far as I could.
– What necessity was there to make such an arrangement when the honorable gentleman might yesterday have given notice that he would submit the motion to-day ? If that course had been adopted, it would not have been possible for honorable members opposite to charge . the Opposition, with wasting time. I believe that the whole business of this session, so far, has been deliberately arranged by the Government on a preconcerted plan, in such a way as to prevent anything being done, in order that the stigma for delay in the transaction of the business of the country shall attach to the Opposition. Honorable members opposite may be quite sure that although the newspapers are behind them, and everything said and done on this side is distorted and misrepresented, we shall take advantage of every opportunity to publish the fact that all the talk about waste of time is only so much humbug, and that the Government . have deliberately planned what they complain about.
.- Last week I heard the Prime Minister say that this question would be brought on about the middle of this week. Late on Thursday night is not the middle of the week. If this is theway the business of Parliament is to be transacted, we need not wonder that so few business men are disposed to take any part in polities.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I understand that the Prime Minister will bring on the question of the adjournment for the Premiers’ Conference early on Wednesday next.
Question resolvedn the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.39p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090805_reps_3_50/>.