3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in connexion with the attack on the French recruiting steamer Guadalite, at Espiègle Say, Mallicolo Island, New Hebrides, and the murder of the master and native crew, if there is any reason to believe that there is a lack of proper supervision over recruiting, and that unwilling natives are taken away from their homes to work on plantations in other islands? Has he seen the ‘following statement published in an article in the Sydney Evening News yesterday? -
The remarkable fact was elicited from a planter that a native cannot be persuaded to work on his own island. If such is the case, it would seem, interpreted, that as he will not work at home, he is taken elsewhere, and made to work, and the whole system savours very strongly of a mild form of slavery, which opinion is borne out by the frequency of outrages, such as now reported.
Il is difficult to understand why a native should not be willing to perform the same work on his own island as he does on another ; the explanation is forced upon us that he is not altogether a willing recruit; that he is lured into a contract by a wily, loquacious recruiter, and broken into harness when once he is secured, safe from the stimulating influence of his own warlike tribe, whose numbers and strength would be a menace to a solitary white man’s exactings.
Will the honorable gentleman have inquiries made, with a view to prevent the recurrence - of abuses of recruiting, if it should be found that any exist?
– The late Prime Minister of New Zealand and myself joined in a strong protest against certain parts of the Convention under- which1 the New Hebrides are now governed by Great Britain - and France, as affording insufficient security to the native population ; and, in spite of the circumstances to which the honorable member has referred, it is a question whether action can be taken which will be followed by good results. The employment of labourers on islands other than their own is open to a kindlier explanation than that given by the Evening News. I have heard it said by those interested in the natives, and under no necessity to excuse any action of their own, that the islanders who engage for a definite term of service cannot be made to understand that it is not to be abridged at their own pleasure, and that they are not at liberty to return to their villages without warning, and for indefinite periods, coming back at their own choice. By reason of what is generally described as an instability of temperament, they cannot bc made to understand the idea of contract binding their actions for fixed periods.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-‘General if there is any truth in the rumour that the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, in the interest of their potato rings and combines, have requested the Commonwealth Government to exercise its quarantine powers to prevent the shipping of any more potatoes from Tasmanian ports ? Does he not think that the Tasmanian producers and traders whose potatoes were landed in Melbourne before the embargo, but not allowed to be sold, are entitled to compensation from the Victorian Government for the great loss sustained ?
– I am not in a position to answer the first question. As to the second, everything depends upon whether the inspection laws of the States are valid - that is, framed purely for the protection of the health of their people. If they go beyond that, an Act of this Parliament would override them. I suggest that some one acquainted with the facts, and possessed of the necessary fee, should consult with a member of the body of professional philanthropists to which I belong, and get an opinion from him.
– I wish to know from the honorable member for Wide Bay, with reference to the alleged discovery of the North Pole, whether the Labour party has yet put in a claim to prior discovery?
– It has been stated, regarding the recent Conference between representatives of the Commonwealth and the States as to projected industrial legislation, that the Inter-State Commission is to have power to deal with matters referred to them under circumstances to be provided for in State legislation. Does the Prime Minister propose to provide for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission after having referred the measure to the States for approval, ‘or does he propose to introduce other industrial legislation beyond that outlined at the Conference?
– The discussion to which my honorable, friend refers took place mainly between the Attorney-General and the Premier and Attorney-Genera] of New South Wales, and had relation to the manner in which the two sets of legislation shall fit into each other. Each Government will be entirely and wholly responsible for ‘ the measures which it submits to its Parliament. They are interested in knowing what form “our legislation is likely to take, when we proceed with the Bill which we hope to introduce at an early date. So far as I am aware, it will not be necessary to introduce other industrial legislation in this connexion this session.
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table the following paper : -
Patents Acts - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 96.
– I desire, by leave, to move for leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution relating to finance.
-Is it the pleasure of the House that leave be given to the Prime Minister ?
– I object.
– I’ regret that leave has been refused, and give notice that I will to-morrow move for leave to introduce, the Bill.
– This is a fine bit of finnessing.
– It is on the part of the other side. I also give notice -that I shall move to-morrow for leave to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the transfer of the public debts of the States.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of ‘the Government to ask the House to proceed further this session with the consideration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
– It is. The refusal to grant leave to introduce a Bill relating to the finances makes it possible that the consideration of the measure may be resumed soon.
– Having regard to what appeared to me to be the somewhat vague statement made by the Prime Minister, I wish to ask him whether he has in his mind any doubt as to the House being invited to resume the consideration of the Bill this session?
– I thought I had made it clear that there was no doubt whatever on the subject, and hope that we are very near the resumption of the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– Following up the questions I have just put, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether there is any foundation for a rumour that is afloat that the Government intend to deal with the Bill as a non-party measure.
– As I have already said, we shall proceed, very soon, with the motion for the second reading of the Bill. The honorable member will then learn the attitude of the Government. We recommend the agreement to the House.
Queen Victoria Markets
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will _ lay upon the table of the House all the correspondence between the Government and the municipal council of Sydney, relating to the offer to take over the Queen Victoria Markets for use as the Sydney General Post Office; and also whether negotiations in connexion with that offer have been closed, or whether the Government will consider any further offers that may be made in that connexion ?
– I think I can inform the honorable member that all negotiations for taking over the Queen Victoria Markets, Sydney, have been completed for the present, and that the Government do not see their way to accept the offer. I shall be pleased to lay upon the table of the Library the correspondence relating to the subject.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether there is any ground for the statement made jesterday in Sydney that the Governor-General intended to resign or had resigned his office?
– So far as I am aware, there is not the slightest foundation for it.
– As a matter of urgency, leave was given the Minister of Defence, some three or four weeks ago, to introduce a Bill relating to Defence; and I desire now to ask the honorable gentleman when it is proposed to deal, by legislation, with the question of Defence?
– So far as I can see the Bill will probably be introduced next week.
Post Office, Korobeit - Telephone Line, Geelong to Breakwater - Jan Juc and Airey’s Inlet - Telephone Poles
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Theanswers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I did not receive the letter.
– On 3rd inst., the honorable member for Wannon put to me the following questions : -
An interim reply was then given, and I beg now to submit the following, which has been supplied by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 1 , 2, and 3, be postponed until after the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 4 and 5.
I desire to take advantage of the encouragement that has been given to the proposal of the Government to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill.
.- I have no seriousobjection to offer to the Government arranging the order of business in their own way. I presume that the Prime Minister has changed his mind since the notice-paper was issued as to what shouldbe the order of business.
.- I think that I may take this motion as fairly indicating the intentions of the Government with regard to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. The resumption of the debate on the measure is the second order of” the day, and it is now proposed to postpone it until the High Commissioner Bill has been dealt with. Unless the consideration of the Bill be resumed very shortly, it will beimpossible to dispose of it this session. I desire to impress on the Government the position of South Australia in regard to the proposed agreement. Since 1901, the development of the Territory has been held in suspense because of the projected agreement with the Commonwealth to take it over, and the delay that is taking place is unfair not only to the State Government, but to the residents of the Territory. I wish the Government to say straight out whether or not they intend to proceed with the Bill. The sooner the decision of the Parliament is obtained the better. If the Bill be rejected, the South Australian Government will be at liberty to make arrangements for the settlement of the Territory, which, under present circumstances, they are unable to do.
– They have had a good many years in which to settle the Territory.
– Since 1901 , the State Government have refused to grant leases in respect of lands in the Territory for a longer period than twelve months, and the honorable member knows full well that no man would care about taking up an area on such a short tenancy. Even in the matter of building allotments a lease will not be granted for more than twelve months.
– And the people are not looking for building leases there.
– The honorable member may think that he is familiar with the whole subject, but I know of a case in which a man had had placed on a block of land in the Territory all the material required! for building a house, but refused to go on with the work because only an annual lease would be granted to him. If the- resumption of the debate on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill is to be postponed to-day in order that we may pro- ceed with the High Commissioner Bill, we may expect it to be further postponed to-morrow for some other reason. I am sure that South Australia is anxious, and, in fact; getting rather suspicious, about this matter being hung up. I understood the Prime Minister, when he last referred to the question, to say that, after the Premiers’ Conference, he intended to push it to an issue; but, since then, it has been postponed, and now a further postponement is “suggested. I venture to enter a protest, which, I am sure, will be indorsed by every honorable member from South Australia, whether he be of .the Opposition or among the Government supporters. A large number of members, whether they favour the proposal to take over the Territory or not, regard it as only fair that South Australia should know its actual position in connexion with the agreement.
– I am quite in agreement with the honorable member for Grey. South Australia has waited for a long time for a settlement of this question ; and I may remind honorable members that a great change has come over that State since 1901. Times were then very bad in South Australia, but they have greatly improved since; and it has come home to the people there that, in order to settle the country, there must be railways. That has been made evident at Pinnaroo and Port Lincoln; and I am quite sure that, if the South Australian people had known as much as they know now, the agreement before us would never have been submitted. It is quite time that South Australia should know her position, and it is, further, my opinion that, if the Commonwealth dees not take over the Territory at once, the opportunity will not again be presented. The bargain offered is the cheapest that any country in the world ever had an opportunity to accept ; but it is recognised that the Commonwealth can administer the Territory better than can the State; and I hope that the matter will be no longer left in suspense.
.- I desire to call attention to the manner in which the Government arrange the business of the House. There are on the noticepaper some seventeen Bills, none of which have been advanced beyond the secondreading stage, but, after the delivery of one speech or so, have been dropped. The members of the Government, as old parliamentary hands, know that, in order to pass Bills, honorable members must be kept at them until the measures are through.
– The debates ‘ on most of these were adjourned at the request of the Opposition.
– That is not correct. In most cases, the only speech delivered was that of the Minister in charge df the measure.
– In the case of six Bills introduced on one night, the debates were adjourned at the request of the Opposition.
– When a Bill is introduced by a Minister, it is usual, in this, as in all Parliaments, for an adjournment of the debate to take place, until the following day at any rate, on the conclusion of the honorable gentleman’s remarks ;. but, as a matter of fact, we have heard nothing of these Bills since. What have we been doing”? The Works Estimates have been put through.
– What is the honorable member doing now ?
– I am calling attention to the fact that the Government show, by their conduct and the arrangement of the business, that they do not desire to get any measures through. In the face of the constant accusation, which is the trump card of the Government party, that the Opposition are in some way or other obstructing business, I desire to enter my protest to the House and to the country, so far as the protest may reach the people - though I admit it has a very poor chance of doing so - against the present attitude of the Government. This accusation of obstruction is the only point in their political programme on which* honorable members opposite can raise a chorus of approval ; on all other points of policy they are at daggers drawn. There is not a single item on the notice-paper the passing of which the Opposition desire in the least degree to obstruct or hinder, though, of course, we do not undertake to agree to every measure. We must assume that the Bills are urgent, or they would not have been introduced ; and yet the Government, apparently, take the view : “ We. do not wish any of the measures to be passed, and we shall, therefore, turn the Opposition on to the Estimates.” Why did we not have the High Commissioner Bill before us last week?
– Because some of the honorable member’s colleagues led us to believe that honorable members opposite would oppose the Bill.
– The Minister of Defence had better disclose a little more, or have kept that interjection to himself. Personally, I never heard anything of the kind suggested.
– When the Bills were submitted to the Opposition, the honorable member for West Sydney excepted the High Commissioner Bill.
– If that be so, it must have been an inadvertence, because, as a matter of fact, the Opposition have no desire to prevent the passing of that measure; at. any rate, if there is such a desire, 1 have not heard of it. I believe the Bill ought to be put through at the earliest moment, and we might have done it last week, instead of the attention of the House being diverted to the Estimates. That action of the Government clearly showed that they were not sincere in their professed anxiety to get the Bill through. If the Government are anxious to pass it,’ and to appoint a High Commissioner when it is passed - if they are prepared to undertake to. make the appointment as soon as the Bill is through - I am prepared to assist them in every possible way to get it through, but everything depends on tthat. I am not prepared simply to give them power to appoint a High Commissioner when it may suit their book during the recess or at some later period. We want a High Commissioner urgently, and for that reason the Opposition are prepared to assist the Government to pass the Bill. So far as concerns the remarks ot the honorable member for Grey, and the honorable member for Barker, about the postponement of the Northern Territory
Acceptance Bill, the treatment of that measure by the Government reflects very little credit on them, and does not induce one to believe that they have any sincere desire to see it become law. It could have been gone on with if the Government had chosen, but instead of that it is postponed, and put down further and further until we do not know when it will be reached. I assume, that the Government circulate the noticepaper in order to intimate to honorable members what business is coming on, and we have a right to expect that the order of business indicated by the Government will be adhered to unless there are strong reasons for setting it aside. On to-day’s notice-paper the first item is Supply, and’ the second is the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
– It was announced that Supply would not be proceeded .with this week.
– I was not present when that was said, and I can only take the notice-paper as I .find it. The position with regard to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill is exactly as’ the honorable member for Grey has pointed out. Until the matter is settled by this Parliament, one way or the other, South Australia is put in an unfair position and, what is still more important, we are taking up an attitude of gross unfairness to the Northern Territory itself, because no development can take place in that important part of Australia until the question of its control is. settled. The measure has been before the House now for a month or more, and it certainly ought to be proceeded with and brought to an issue one way or the other.
.- The honorable member for Boothby would have made a fair complaint if it were true, but when, by interjection, I said that most of the measures which he complained had not been dealt with were postponed at the instance of members of the Opposition, he replied that my statement was not correct. I have in the notice-paper ready means of proving it. It shows that the debate on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill was adjourned at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, a member of the Opposition.
– Time was up, and we had to do it.
– I shall deal with that directly. The debate on the High Commissioner Bill was adjourned at the in- stance of the honorable member for West Sydney, a prominent member of the Opposition,’ while the debate on the Bureau of Agriculture Bill was adjourned at the instance of the same honorable member, as was that on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The debate on the Telegraph (Emergency) Bill was adjourned at the instance of the honorable member for Barrier, also a member of the Opposition, while the adjournment of the debate on the Norfolk Island Bill was secured by the. honorable member for Melbourne, and so on. I am pointing out these facts for my own protection. Before charging an honorable member with inaccuracy, the least the honorable member for Boothby could do would be to make certain of his facts.
– There were circumstances in those cases which we could not help.
– But the statement of the honorable member for Boothby has gone out to the country, that only the Government or their supporters are answerable for the postponement of public business. I am as much concerned in the matter as is any member of the Opposition. I thought then, as I think now, that it was bad business for a Government to introduce six measures in one night, advance the second readings only by one speech, and then allow the debates to be adjourned. That is not dealing with the affairs of the country as they should be dealt with, and to see a business-sheet of sixteen or seventeen measures in shreds and patches is no invitation even to honorable members on this side of the House to pay, very, close attention to it. As a member sitting on the Ministerial side, I am just as anxious as is any honorable member in Opposition to know the current of legislation in this Chamber. The only complaint I make is that the Government were foolish and weak enough to allow the arguments of urgency then advanced by the Opposition to have any weight with them, and to postpone the particular measure which has been referred to. I am satisfied that ,a lot of the Bills which I have cited are very important, and should be dealt with, even if ultimately they are not accepted by the House. They should be taken off the notice-paper or else proceeded with. No honorable member likes to be charged with want of accuracy, when he can show, as I have, proof of his statement in the case of seven or eight measures on the noticepaper.
.- I think it was on Thursday night that, upon the Leader of the Opposition reviewing the state of the notice-paper, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would notify honorable members who had the right to resume an adjourned debate of the intention of the Government to bring on any measure out of its order. The honorable gentleman then informed me very kindly that he proposed to do so. I wish to reply to the statement of the Minister of Defence, that I declared that the Opposition would assist the Government to pass any measure except one. I emphatically did say that we would pass any measure on that particular evening except that one. I’ said then, and say now, that there are a number of measures before the House which could be passed in half-an-hour by any Government who made up their minds about it. Here is the Norfolk Island Bill, for instance. I have not read it, and do not want to. Bills like that are passed when people are asleep. I venture to say that even if every man in the House were put on the rack he would not be found to know what the Telegraph (Emergency) Bill is. The Government, if they made up their minds to do so, could get it through before the Clerk had finished echoing “ Amen “ to the prayers. Here is another one - the Lighthouses Bill. That kind of Bill is not a party measure, and excites no feeling. It only needs the Government to put it through, and get it off the notice-paper, so that we may get on with something that we are concerned in. On the particular evening to which the Minister of Defence alludes, I said that the Opposition would get all these measures out of the road, but not the High Commissioner Bill without discussing it. I say so now. I differentiated between the High Commissioner Bill and the Norfolk Island Bill, because I said that the former involved a job for somebody, and I was, therefore, anxious that it should be adequately discussed. I am quite ready to debate it, and consequently I asked the Prime Minister to inform me when it would be considered. The honorable member for Dalley has affirmed that consideration of a number of measures upon the businesspaper has been postponed at the instance of members of the Opposition. That statement is perfectly true. But for what reason was the consideration of those measures postponed ? I recollect one evening upon which the second reading of no less than five Bills was moved by the Government.
– That was the evening upon which the honorable member said he was prepared to pass every measure upon the business-paper, with the exception of the Land Tax Assessment Bill and the High Commissioner Bill.
– Exactly. The reason that I requested an adjournment of the debate upon the High Commissioner Bill was that the Minister of External Affairs had delivered a speech upon it which occupied one hour, and that honorable members had only just seen the Bill for the first time.
– It had been circulated before.
– It had not been circulated very long. It had only just reached the hands of honorable members, and. under such circumstances, the almost invariable practice is to adjourn the discussion, of measures until the following day. Upon the same evening the second readings of the Bureau of Agriculture Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Telegraph (Emergency) Bill, and the Norfolk Island Bill were moved. It is significant that no effort has since been made to advance those measures a single stage. Consequently, the whole blame for the present position must rest with the Government. The honorable member for Dalley, who has endeavoured to make it appear that the Opposition are responsible for the nonconsideration of certain Bills, has overlooked the fact that all the measures which I have enumerated were brought forward on the same day, and that no effort has since been made to deal with them.
.- The attitude of members of the Opposition towards this proposal is a very curious one when contrasted with their previous attitude while sitting behind the present Prime Minister and also behind their own Government. When other honorable members and myself were in the happy position of sitting in Opposition we felt bound on numerous occasions to protest against the action of the Government in failing to proceed with business in the order in which it appeared on the noticepaper. They were in the habit of chopping and changing all over the place.
– But did the honorable member ever see anything like the practice of the present Government in that connexion ?
– Yes. We had vo constantly complain of the disadvantage at which we were taken by reason of the methods that were adopted by the Government. But the present members of the Opposition used merely to smile at our protest and to remind us that it was for the Ministry to determine what business ought to be proceeded with, and the order in which they would take it. So that everything apparently depends upon where honorable members opposite ‘happen to be sitting. Those who now so loudly complain because business is not dealt with in the order in which it appears on the paper were always ready to indorse everything that the former Deakin Government did, no matter whether they selected the last, the first or the middle item on the business-paper for consideration first. Then, no appeal or protest on our part was of any avail. I would also remind those honorable members that on Friday last the Prime Minister notified the Leader of the Opposition, who expressed a desire that the High Commissioner Bill should be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment, that, in all probability, it would be dealt with to-day. He also stated that the financial agreement which had been arrived at with the State Premiers would be brought on, probably, to-day ; but the adoption of that course has been rendered impossible owing to an objection having been raised from the Opposition side to grant leave to introduce the Bill without the usual notice of motion. In seeking to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill, the Prime Minister is, therefore, merely redeeming the promise which he made on Friday last to the Leader of the Opposition.
– When this proposal was submitted, the Prime Minister must have known that his action would call forth protests from South Australian representatives in this Chamber. In speaking on the Budget the other evening, I expressed doubt as to the sincerity of the Government in reference to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. Thereupon the Minister of External Affairs interjected that I was unfair to the Government. I then asked him whether the Government were united in their support of the Bill, and I received no reply. To-day, when the honorable member for Gray put a similar question, he received the evasive answer, “ The honorable member will find out later on.” I am anxious to ascertain whether the Government are united in their desire to pass that Bill at an early date, and the South Australian Government are similarly anxious. It has been suggested that consideration of that measure was postponed at the instance of an honorable member upon this side of the House. But it must be recollected that that request was preferred only after the usual hour of adjournment had arrived. Further, if the Government desire to proceed with their measures - irrespective of whether or not the Opposition are willing that that course should be adopted - they need not consent to an adjournment. I shall not protest against sitting late on any evening, if by so doing we are likely to accomplish goodwork. In reference to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, we canndti expedt the South Australian Government to attempt to initiate any large scheme for dealing with the Territory untilthe fate of that measure has been determined. In justice alike to the South Australian Government and to the residents of the Territory, who, I am sorry to say, are leaving it because they recognise that the Government are not sincere in their professions, the consideration of that Bill should be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment.
– Why are the residents of the Northern Territory not content to remain under the administration of the South Australian Government ?
– Because that Government are not in a position to deal with such a vast and rich territory. People are leaving it to-day at the very time that the Government are loudly proclaiming their anxiety to settle its vast empty spaces.
– Only the other day the honorable member said that the South Australian Government would not accept the conditions of transfer which this Parliament is likely to impose.
– The South Australian Government are prepared to accept the agreement which was arrived at between the Prime Minister and the late Premier of that State. I desire to know whether the Government are unanimously in favour of that agreement, and whether honorable members opposite are willing to support it. We have a right to know that. I emphatically protest against the repeated attempts in this House to waste time. I have always been prepared to sit late to assist any Government in getting on with its business. I did so in the case of the
Reid Government, and should do it again willingly. But it appears to me that there is no attempt on the part of the present Ministry to deal with business in an earnest fashion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from nth August (vide page 2307), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now lead a second time.
.- I do not remember how long it is since a measure dealing with this subject has been before the House. Certainly, many years have elapsed since we were told that the matter was one of extreme urgency. We were led to believe that within a brief period a proposal to establish the office of High Commissioner would be pushed to a conclusion. In some way or other, we have been muddling along; and the Government, at a stage of the session when the prospect of the passing of legislation of this kind does not strike one as being particularly hopeful, have introduced the present Bill. In some particulars, it differs from Bills on the same subject that have preceded it. But I do not think that those particulars are vital. The salary laid down in this Bill is larger than the one previously proposed. To that, however, I take no sort of exception. The necessity for Australia to be represented in London by one man is very real. It is almost impossible to let down in terms what Australia loses through not speaking with one voice at the head-quarters of the Empire. No doubt the present representative of the Commonwealth who is there does his very best. But, in any case, he is not clothed with authority, and he speaks, not for the Commonwealth asa whole, but only in some particulars. The High Commissioner would, I hope, gather into his own hands the whole of the authority now vested in, and would enjoy all the dignity now spread over, the representatives of the six States. The Minister, in introducing the Bill, told us some of the things that the High Commissioner would be expected to do. Briefly, I take it his duties would be to represent Australia diplomatically. He would, in some respects, be an ambassador, residing, not in a foreign country, but in a friendly one - in his own country, as it were. He would have to possess all the qualifications that make for a successful representative. In addition, he would have to exercise those functions, which are very much called for in our case, of representing the true position of Australia, both in regard to her legislation and her resources, potential and actual. Tt would be advisable that such a man should know something of finance. It is rather unfortunate that we have not yet dealt with the financial question, so far as concerns the relations of the States and the Commonwealth ; because, whatever may be the immediate result of the agreement made with the Premiers, the ultimate result, I feel sure, will be different. This Commonwealth will not rest quietly under such an agreement, because the circumstances of the case are quite opposed to it. There should be a complete severance of the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth. There ought to be an assumption by the Commonwealth of the State liabilities; and, where the State revenues are insufficient, some arrangement, such as the honorable member for Mernda has suggested, should be made with respect to them. At any rate, the .severance should be complete, and should leave both parties free to carve out their own destiny. There should be, I will not say a paternal control over the power to go on the market to borrow, but some regulating influence. That, I think, is undeniable. We a.re not able to say that the High Commissioner could exercise at present the powers that we contemplate, in view of the fact that the Government propose to ask Parliament to embody the financial agreement in the Constitution and make it permanent - a condition to which I venture to hope this House will not agree. But I consider that such will not be the case for any length of time ; and that, therefore, the High Commissioner must be a man who understands finance. He must have other qualifications. He must be endowed with social attainments. It seems a very absurd thing to ask that a man who is to take up this important work should be a man who can shine in after-dinner speaking. Yet that is one of the chief qualifications. It is almost an indispensable qualification in ambassadors, and representatives of that kind, that they shall be able to make some respectable figure in the social world. Therefore, the man who is to fill this office must be a man who is not at all easy to obtain. He must be a man who knows something of Australia, and is attuned to our policy. I want to deal with that aspect of the matter for a few moments. We have now, for good or for evil, reached a certain standard in respect of our aspirations and ideals. There are some gentlemen who, although they conform to the letter of these ideals and aspirations, are entirely opposed to them in spirit. I am not now speaking of any party. I am speaking of Australia as a whole. There are some things on which Australia, as distinct from any section or party in the Commonwealth, has made up its mind. Upon these things, there are gentlemen, some of whom are members of this House, who are completely opposed to the veryessence and foundation of those ideas. Men of such a type, though they may possess all the other qualifications, maybe eminent at once in diplomacy and finance, and as after-dinner speakers may rival the great Rufus Choate himself, are still quite unsuited to represent the Commonwealth in London. The measure is one to which, in itself, no exception can be taken. The whole question, after all, really is : Who is the man ? When a despot dies, the great question is, “ Who is to be the next? “ in a Democracy there are redeeming and equalizing factors at work, and differences are not so great as between Governments and the possibilities of liberty. Here it is proposed that we should endow a man for five years with authority to represent the Commonwealth. If he starts wrong, it is very clear that at the end of five years he will be as far apart from our ideas as the poles are asunder. Therefore, I say it is in the last degree essential that the man who represents Australia in London shall represent Australian opinion to-day, and shall not be politically a fossil of the post-pliocene epoch. Who is to be the man? That is the beginning and end of the matter. We are asked to pass this Bill, and it is very much like asking us to shut our eyes and open our mouths, and see what the Fusion will send us. I do not feel at all inclined to do that. I shall open my mouth, but I shall not shut my eyes. My opinion is that the name of the proposed High Commissioner should be inserted in the Bill. It is a very well-known fact that diplomacy is not confined to London, nor is underground engineering confined to digging tunnels under the harbor in Sydney and elsewhere. Whether there is an apprenticeship served to this business, I’ do not know, but I do know that the number of experts in it is simply surprising, and their skill is calculated to make neophytes envious. It is because we have a Government who exist by the grace of God, and a fluctuating majority, who are in to-day, and no doubt will be in to-morrow, but who may not be there three, or four, or twelve months hence that I venture to say that we ought to appoint a High Commissioner who will represent, not the Fusion, but the people of Australia. Let me put this point to honorable members : If the Deakin Administration had remained in power, and it would have done so if it had been allowed, the gentleman who would have been nominated for this post, in all human probability, would not have been the gentleman who will be nominated by the present Government. If the Fisher Government had remained in power, and had gone on with this legislation, is it conceivable that they would have appointed one gentleman whose name has been prominently mentioned in connexion with this matter? It is not humanly possible.
– Would the Fisher Government have agreed to an amendment to insert the name of the High Commissioner in the Bill?
– I say that the Fisher Government would have represented Australia in this respect. With every essential policy that has been affirmed, and reaffirmed, by the people, since 1900, until now, the Labour party has been in accord, The Fusion is not in accord with respect to those policies. I do not deny that a number of honorable members who are supporting the Fusion are in accord with the policies affirmed by the people, but the Fusion, as a whole, does not represent, in any sense of the word, Australian opinion. I say nothing at all about a number of gentlemen who for manyyears have been voicing Democratic opinions, and backing them up by Democratic votes, but I do say that, take the Fusion “by and large,” it does not represent Australian opinion at all. On the only occasion on which the Fusion party had a chance to put that to the test, and see bv going to the country whether they did represent Australian opinion, they would not go. When honorable members entered the first Federal Parliament, they almost expected, in the innocence of their hearts, to find the shadow of the High Commissioner rising behind the Speaker’s chair, and assuming form and substance during the first session. But sessions and Parliaments have passed, and no High Commis sioner has been appointed yet. Now, in the death-struggle of a Parliament, under a Government who have nineteen measures on the business-paper, not one of which embodies a solitary item of their policy, who have not the courage to bring down anything, nor the determination to go on with it if they did muster up the courage to introduce such a measure, we are asked to go on with the High Commissioner Bill. I shall be very glad indeed to go on with the Bill, but I do not propose that the members of the present Government should have an opportunity to engineer any more difficult rivers, unless it be the river of Jordan, which will be the last one they will cross. I do not propose to help them to build any bridges at all. When I see the name of the man who is to be appointed High Commissioner in the Bill, the measure will appeal to me. I am not very hard to please in the matter. Whilst possibly I should prefer another man than the man who would be accepted by a majority in this House, I am not going to ask for a man whp sees everything through my spectacles. I am going to ask for a man who represents Australian opinion, so far as such a man is acceptable to all parties, and of whom we can say : “ This is a representative man.” I am not going to have a man who does not represent anybody.
– Those who run can read n’ow.
– I propose to have the name of the man who is to be appointed inserted in the Bill. The Government mayobject to that. One never knows what a Government of this kind may do. They may even object to a simple proposal of that nature.
– Would the honorable gentleman have a fresh Bill for every appointment ?
– Yes; I think that would be a very good idea. That, I think, opens up the deliriously delightful prospect for Australia - that every man has a chance, if he can only get his name put into a Bill, of becoming High Commissioner. Just as in the United States every boy is told that he may become its President, so in Australia a man may have a chance to become its High Commissioner. In my opinion that would be very much fairer. In this morning’s Age there was an article pointing out the futilities of party Government. This is one of those futilities. We have one side of the House composed of two parties who have absolutely nothing in common, and if we could only have an enormous megaphone shouting their speeches at the last election into each other’s ears, the Fusion would be burst up. Yet it is proposed calmly by such a heterogeneous body, its members having nothing in common, to make a permanent appointment. It ought not to be thought of, and in Committee I propose to move an amendment to place the name of the High Commissioner in the Bill. That, I think, would be an eminently desirable thing to do, and the High Commissioner would then go Home with the imprimatur of Parliament upon him. During the life of this House we have had three Ministries. What majority would the High Commissioner represent - the last or the first? He would not represent the first or the second, because if the appointment had been made by the first Deakin Ministry, the appointee would not have been the same man as will be appointed. If the second Administration had made the appointment, perhaps the appointee would not have been the same as will be appointed, and the third Ministry will certainly not appoint the man who would have been appointed by the first or second Ministry. Therefore, it is very much fairer and better that the Parliament should make the appointment. In other respects it is going to do everything, and why should it not do so in this regard?. It may be said that it is the right of the Executive to make the appointment, and no doubt it is. That the Executive ought to make all appointments I do not deny. But this is an appointment quite unique - the representative of Australia. It is an appointment which, in the very nature of things, can hardly be unmade. The High Commissioner will represent Australia in another country. The injury which he can do to Australia, by misrepresenting her at the centre of the Empire, is beyond calculation. He can misrepresent her ideals, her aspirations, her resources, and her desires in every respect. I do not want to allude to any honorable members by name. But imagine a man whom we all know very well in this Chamber, and who has been here, there, and everywhere, and now wants to be somewhere else.
– He is a bulky man.
– Never mind. What opinion would he represent? We do not want a man to go Home and represent
England. We need a man to go Home and represent Australia. In this Chamber there are some men who seem quite unable to draw that distinction. A man may be a very loyal and devoted adherent to, and worshipper of, the Empire, and still he may be a very loyal and patriotic Australian all the time. But there are some gentlemen who out-Herod Herod in this matter.
– There is too much ‘‘King and Emperor” about them?
– The honorable gentleman wants to leg-rope me when I am merely drawing an illustration. That kind of man would not suit me at all, nor would he suit Australia. I desire a .man to be appointed who, if necessary, Will tell the people in England what we want and think - in short, the truth. We ought not to be ashamed that the truth about Australia should be told; that certainly is notan undesirable thing. That the ‘Commissioner may not altogether agree with the sentiments held here we cannot help. Suppose that a man from this side went Home. He would not be doing his duty unless he declared in set terms, if occasion called for it, that his were not the only opinions held in Australia, that in some things Australian sentiments and ideals were identical and general, while in other things there was a difference of opinion. But there are other gentlemen here, who are quite, unable to conceive that the world is moving on, and who would be deemed hopelessly conservative if they lived in England. In fact, I do not hesitate to say that the party, which in England is called to-day the Conservative party, but which to a very large extent finds expression as the Tariff Reform party, is in many essential particulars miles ahead of some honorable gentlemen who sit in this Chamber. To the measure itself I take no exception. Of course there may be one or two small matters which, in Committee, one would like to amend. Take clause 9, for instance, which deals with the appointment of officers by the High Commissioner. Whether that is desirable or not is a matter of opinion. Personally, I do not take exception to it. T am inclined to think that, circumstanced as he may be, he should appoint his own staff, but, of course, there may be some reasons why he should not do so. I think that clause 7, which precludes the High Commissioner from engaging in any business or acting as attorney or agent of a company or syndicate is a most desirable one. I take no exception to the tenure of his office nor to the amount of his salary, which, as 1 said, appears to me quite adequate. Of the High Commissioners in England to-day, namely, Lord Strathcona and Mr. Hall Jones, the former is a man of very great wealth indeed. We can hardly expect to get a man who can compete with him if he chooses to make a display. But we can, at least, insure to our representative that he shall be housed and established in a decent and dignified way, and that, I feel sure, no Australian will begrudge. That he shall be a representative of Australia is an essential.
– Will ,£5,000 a year suffice to do that?
– I do not propose to express an opinion about that. I should say that, if the High Commissioner gets an allowance of £2,000 a year and travelling expenses, he can manage to get along all right. Of course, if the honorable member regards that as so insufficient that she will not submit himself as a candidate, then I have only to say that, while we are all extremely regretful, that is one of those unfortunate circumstances which in the niggardly state of our finances we cannot help. Quite a number would not so regard it. Everything turns on the man. If Ministers would indicate whom they have in their minds, that would be sufficient for me. We have a right to know whom it is proposed to appoint. The circumstances connected with the appointment of Justices of the High Court are different. Such appointments are circumscribed, as appointees must possess certain qualifications, and Ministries are compelled by tradition and regard for the position to make appointments acceptable to the Justices. On one occasion in New South Wales a gentleman who had been appointed Chief Justice resigned, because his appointment was not acceptable to the puisne Judges.
– If the Ministry made an unsuitable appointment it could be censured b Parliament.
– We should be informed as to whom it is proposed to appoint. I shall move an amendment to enable the matter to be discussed ; but if the information can be given without the insertion of a name, -I shall not press it. The Ministry must be responsible for any appointment, but as the person appointed will represent Australia, he should be acceptable to both Parliament and people. No
Government can be said to represent the Commonwealth, though if a choice were made by the two Houses at a joint sitting, we should have a High Commissioner chosen by the representatives of the people. I desire that the measure shall become law as soon as possible, but the right man must be appointed.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney is right in saying that the representative of the Commonwealth should be attuned to Australian sentiment; but will he keep in tune after he gets to Great Britain? We have known Agents-General to leave Australia in accord with the political opinions of the time, who, after twelve months’ absence, have lost touch with Australian sentiment. The honorable member’s desire to know the name of the likely appointee is natural ; but would the Fisher Government have allowed the House to amend a measure of this kind by inserting a name?
– I am glad to have that frank admission. This Government would deserve to lose office if it consented to such an amendment. I am as desirous as is any honorable member for a proper appointment to this high post, but I shall emulate the delicacy of the honorable member for West Sydney in not saying more regarding my personal opinions than that many of those whose friends regard them as suitable for the position would not voice the true spirit of Australian! Democracy. Many Ministries have considered the advisability of appointing a High Commissioner,’ but hitherto all have been afraid to make any definite proposal.
– That is not true of the last Ministry.
– It had only six weeks of active parliamentary life, when it was not expected to deal with this question; during the rest of its existence Parliament was in recess. The Ministry must take the responsibility for its appointment, and if its choice is bad, must expect to be censured.
– The honorable member says that some of the Agents-General lost touch with Australia after twelve months in London.
– There are aspirants for the High Commissionership whose avowed principles are contrary to Australian sentiment, and, in my view, quite out of touch with our political sentiment.’
– Does the honorable member think that the High Commissionership should be a rich man’s position?
– No; though I would not debar a rich man if he possessed the necessary qualifications. As an Executive act, the appointment of a High Commissioner is as important as is an appointment to the High Court Bench. The history of appointments to the High Court Bench shows that men of high legal attainments who have subsequently proved their worthiness for the position, but who were for many years active members of this Parliament, have been selected. They were appointed by the Government of the day, who took the responsibility, and no one canvassed their action. Experience has shown that although the area of selection was somewhat restricted, the appointments made were most commendable. I hope that we shall have selected for the position of High Commissioner the best of the best obtainable in Australia.. Listening to the description given by the honorable member for West Sydney of the essentials for the office, I could not help thinking that the honorable member was asking for the appointment of a veritable Admirable Crichton. I fear that Australia cannot produce such a man. The first step has been taken to-day in this House for the transfer of the State debts to the Commonwealth,” and if that step be successful, the appointment of the right man ‘must lead to an immense saving to Australia. If the High Commissioner is to be the n’ational financier, with power to consolidate the State debts and the new loans, he should be able to effect enormous savings, and from the commercial and practical side of the question there must be an immediate gain. The honorable member for West Sydney also spoke of the after-dinner oratory in which the High Commissioner would have to indulge, and it occurred to me that if our representative is to attend in London the numerous banquets to which he will be invited, he will have to be a very healthy man, blessed with an excellent digestive apparatus. We shall certainly need to have in the office a man who will be able to catch the ears ‘of his audiences. These, as well as other great and noble attributes are required, and yet the Bill provides for a salary of only ,£3,000 per annum. Having regard to all that is expected of the High Commissioner, the salary is a miserable one.
– It is not a very high salary for an archangel.
– Nor for even a national financier. There may be greater patriots iri; Australia than I have met, but I do not think we shall find many men of high standing, and fit to occupy the position, who will be prepared to accept the appointment for five years at £3,000 per annum. The fact that that limitation is to be imposed on the appointment does away, 1 think, with the fear that some honorable members entertain that the man appointed to this office may get out of touch with Australia, and I do not think that any honorable member, when- he looks the matter fairly and squarely in the- face, will refuse to vote for a higher salary than £3,000 per annum. At the present time, we vote a salary of £10,000 per annum for the Governor-General, and an additional sum of £8,000 per annum for the up-keep of his various official residences. The Governor-General has little to do with the important functions of the Commonwealth - he occupies something in the’ nature of the position of a social registrar - but as the representative of the King we vote him £18,000 per annum in all, whereas it is proposed to pay a salary of only £3,000 per annum to the High Commissioner, who is to represent the Commonwealth in the heart of the Empire, to voice the progressive ideals of Australia, to control its financial arrangements, and, by his administration to encourage many people to leave the Old Country for this land. In the circumstances, the salary proposed is most ridiculous. Unless the position is to be a’ sinecure for a political friend of the Government, a higher salary should be voted. On the other hand, if it is to be merely a sinecure for a Ministerial friend, then £3,000 per annum is too much to pay. The office is too important to be filled by such an individual. I hope that the Government will resist a proposal to insert in the Bill the name of the gentleman to be selected ; also that an appointment will be made quite irrespective of party considerations, and that the best man obtainable in Australia will be secured. What man, fit to occupy the position of High Commissioner, would allow his name to be canvassed in this Parliament? We shall reduce our procedure tt> a very low standard by taking such an action ; and the man who would allow his name to be the sport of a vote in either
House would immediately stamp himself, in my view, as unfit for- the position.
– Could that be prevented ?
– If my vote can prevent it, it certainly will. The honorable member for West Sydney has foreshadowed an amendment providing for the insertion in the Bill of the name of the gentleman to be appointed.
– The honorable member said that, so far as he was concerned, he would be satisfied if the Government would announce the name of the gentleman to be appointed.
– Quite so; but he said, further, that another place should also have the right to vote on the question, and he suggested that both Houses should meet to make an appointment. A man who allows his name to be submitted to this House - who chances selection by a vote of this House - will immediately prove himself, no matter how high his qualifications may be, unworthy of the office. I should regard even my best friend in politics as unsuitable for the position if I knew that he was canvassing for it, or encouraging a canvass on his behalf. Men likely to take the position, or to be considered in connexion with it, ought to be most delicate over the matter, and to refuse to allow themselves to. be approached in any way. Whether I was in favour of a particular person or against him, I should say that, if there were any underground touting, he would be unfit to represent the Commonwealth in such a capacity.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney is a good man !
– In that interjection there is the essence of touting, though I do not say that it is intended ; and if I were to express my opinion on the point, my words might be read in the same way. I have my cwn idea as to the class of man who would make a useful High Commissioner; but the truth is that Australia is lamentably short of such men, for the simple reason that we have not individuals who ha.ve leisure plus the other qualities. I have no desire to see this made a rich man’s preserve, but, if we fix the salary at £3,000, we shall undoubtedly bring about that result. I hope I am not so narrow as to say 1hat a man may not be rich both materially and in mental qualities ; and if Australia can produce such men, from whom a choice can be made, all the better. If there are Strathconas about Collins-street, let us have the best amongst them, but, as a matter of fact, we in Australia are a work-a-day people, and the margin between those who have to depend upon their daily toil and those who have not is a small one. Australia, in her practical mood, does not require a representative to be a mere social pivot in the Old Country.
– That is what the High Commissioner will be for a good many years to come !
– I do not think so; because, what with the transfer of the States debts and other work, there will be plenty for him to do. If all we expect is a social butterfly, the sooner we kill the Bill the better. A High Commissioner is necessary for the ‘Commonwealth ; but it is absurd to say that all we require is a man who can entertain. The richest of the rich in Australia would be regarded as comparatively poor in England; and we cannot expect to compete in expenditure with, the wealthy pork butchers from America. The provision of £2,000 per year for the expense of an official residence will have the effect of practically reducing the salary of £3,000, because a house in the swell quarter of London would, in rental alone, cost more than £1,000 per year, and one banquet, at. which 300 guests would be a small number for the Old Country, would absorb another £1,000. There is no doubt that an official could do very well in Melbourne or ‘ Sydney on £3,000 as salary, with £2,000 in addition for an official residence ; but he would be altogether lost sight of in England.
– It is a job well worth £10,000 per year !
– We pay the GovernorGeneral £18,000 per year in salary and residence allowances, and we do not growl much about it. We do not desire a cheap and nasty High Commissioner, nor do we desire that, after five years of office, the holder of the position shall find that he has suffered financially. To the man in the street a salary of £3,000, with £2,000 for a residence, may appear large ; but the working classes of Australia are not more parsimonious than other people, though we all like to know that we are getting value for our money. My trouble is that the smallness of the salary limits our choice.
– How about calling for tenders ?
– I have no doubt we should have numerous applications.
– Hear, hear ; that is private enterprise !
– If we left the matter to private enterprise, I am afraid we should find the position syndicated in a month. While the Government take the responsibility of the appointment, there is no reason why they should not give us a broad hint as to whom they are likely to appoint, but I should certainly object to any attempt by the House to dragoon the Government into inserting a name in the Bill. ‘ Any Ministry that allow the House to take away their executive power, and have not pluck to make the appointment themselves, deserve to go out of office. If the present Government make an appointment which is bad for Australia, they equally deserve to be dismissed. One honorable member on the Opposition side very pertinently asked the Prime Minister if the appointment was to be made before the end of the session. If this is an important matter, the sooner the appointment is made the better, and it should be made before the session ends. If the Government assure the House that the appointment will be made immediately after the Bill is passed, subject to their obtaining the consent of the gentleman whom they desire to appoint, the House can deal with the matter; but the House should not allow the appointment to be delayed until after the dissolution. An easy way to get over that difficulty would be for the House to hold up the Appropriation Bill, if. the appointment is not made within a reasonable time after the passage of this measure. I am as concerned about the matter as is the honorable member for West Sydney, for if one honorable member, whom I have in my rr.ind, is appointed to the position, I shall do my best in the interests of Australia to upset any Government that appoint him. What I am concerned about has been well put by the honorable member for West Sydney, and my addition is that I want the salary larger, for I do not wish the position to be made a rich man’s preserve. It is very important that a man who represents Australia in London should voice Australian opinion, but if some persons whose names are currently mentioned as candidates for the position are appointed, any Government who appoint them cannot have understood Australian thought or Australian ideas.
– Can the honorable member give us a broad hint as to who they are?
– The Honorable member for Fawkner is supposed to belong to a walk of life of which the chief characteristic is politeness, but I have just as fine a sense of the ordinary politeness that is necessary in public life as the honorable member has, and if he had been present earlier he would have heard why I refused even to hint at a name. Any member of the Senate or of this House, or elsewhere in public life, who touts either by himself or through his friends for the position, or allows himself to be approached by honorable members regarding it, does not deserve to get it. He is not high enough for it. As a native of Australia, I hope that the first man we send to England as High Commissioner will be the best of our best, mentally and in every other way. Let Australia pay well for the best man, but £3,000 a year will not pay for the class of man that I and my electors desire to see appointed.
.This is the second time that a High Commissioner Bill has been introduced in this House, but it is the first time that it has reached the second reading stage. The measure introduced five vears ago passed its first reading, and then lapsed. I believe it was dropped by the then Government because of a resolution carried in the Senate requiring that the name should be inserted in any measure appointing a High Commissioner. The honorable member for Dalley said that no Government had since had the pluck to go on with the measure, because of the difficulty of making a selection and the avalanche of reproaches that would probably fall on them from all sections of the House when a selection was made. Perhaps, also, it was because no Government could select a man who they could be sure would command the vote of both Houses. I suppose that any Government, if they had thought that they could find such a man, would not have hesitated to push the Bill forward. I do not know whether those were the reasons why previous Governments did not go on with the Bill, but I can assure the House that the late Government intended to bring it forward as one of their earliest measures, and I should not have been at all satis fied if, after something like three months of session, the Bill were not through, or the House had not had an opportunity of putting it through. I do not think the Government have been unnecessarily hurried in this matter. On the contrary, they have taken a considerable time over it, especially as it is most desirable - as will be admitted even by honorable members who sit on the Ministerial side, and who, to some extent, trust the present Government - that any appointment such as this should be made during the parliamentary session, so that the Government making -it may at once be brought to face the consequences of anything like a wrongful appointment - 1 do not mean- an irregular appointment, but the appointment of a wrong man. The Minister of External Affairs, when introducing the Bill, set out for the High Commissioner qualifications, all of which no living man could possibly possess. I do not find fault with them, because they are all advisable, if we could unite them in one man. lt would be a fine thing for the Commonwealth if such a paragon as the Minister outlined could be discovered.
– The standard set up prevents any member of the ‘ Fusion party being appointed.
– Quite so ; and the difficulty I foresee is that it limits the appointment to members of the Opposition. How will that suit the Fusion party?
– Their modesty will prevent them from accepting it.
– If the Minister thinks that the sense of modesty of the Fusion party will prevent any of them from accepting the position, I am afraid he is over-calculating its strength. The honorable member for Dalley has suggested that the High Commissioner may be a social butterfly.
– No. I said that it would be absurd to ask him to become a social butterfly.
– If the High Commissioner efficiently discharges the duties which will devolve upon him, whatever may be his natural proclivities, he will not have much time in which to become a social butterfly. The gentlemen who are alleged by the newspapers to be in the running for the appointment, would not be likely to cut very elegant figures as butterflies.
– They would more closely resemble beetles.
– If the Minister of External Affairs had said that they would more closely resemble beetle crushers, his statement would have been more accurate. I believe that whoever is appointed to the distinguished office of High Commissioner will have a great deal to do in giving effect, on behalf of the Government, to principles which have been laid down at Imperial Conferences. He will also be called upon to correct erroneous statements regarding Australia and Australian legislation.
– That , will take him some time, if we continue to follow the course which we are pursuing.
– It will certainly take him some time if gentlemen who have done exceedingly well in Australia, who owe everything they possess to it, immediately they get away from our shores, insist upon disparaging the country which has been so kind to them. I know that the honorable member has no sympathy with that sort of thing.
– I know that nobody understands me better than does the honorable member.
– The honorable member is quite right. I agree with the statement of the honorable (member for Dalley that we cannot expect any man of high attainments - unless he be wealthy - to accept the office of High Commissioner at a salary of £3,000 per annum. Of course, it is very easy to urge that that amount is a fine salary. But, when we consider the obligations which will be imposed upon the High Commissioner, we must confess that it is not an adequate remuneration. That official will be the representative of Australia, and will practically have ‘ to maintain an open house to Australian callers. In. addition, he will have to sacrifice whatever business he may be interested in here, for a period of five years.
– Under this Bill he will be obliged to maintain a house that is worth £2,000 a year.
– There is a good deal in the honorable member’s contention. If we fix the salary of the High Commissioner at £3,000 a year, the Government will be compelled to appoint a wealthy man to the office, because no person of conspicuous ability who is not wealthy, will be able to accept it.
– What about the honour attaching to the position?
– The leading men in Australia already occupy honorable positions, and the honour attaching to those positions would not be enhanced by their acceptance of this “ job” in the Old Country.
– Is it a “ job “ ?
– I am afraid that it is.
– If there be one appointment more than another which ought not to partake of the nature of a “ job,” it is that of the representative of Australia at the hub of the universe. We ought to select absolutely the best man available for the position, and with that end in view, I shall support any proposal to fix the salary of the High Commissioner at£5,000 per annum, because by so doing, we shall enlarge the area of our choice.
– What salary ‘does Lord Strathcona receive?
– I do not know. It must be recollected, however, that Lord Strathcona is a multi-millionaire, so that the salary which he receives is a matter of indifference to him. Probably he has an income of£100,000 a year or more. There are certain gentlemen who might accept the position of High Commissioner, and whose appointment would reflect credit upon the Commonwealth. But I do not think it likely that they could afford to accept it at the salary which is proposed in this Bill.I notice that the expenses of the High Commissioner, and of his official residence, are not to exceed , £2,000 per annum. Would it not be better to fix his salary at£5,000, and to allow him to choose his own residence? The honorable member for Dalley discussed at some length the. question of whether we ought to insert the name of the future High Commissioner in this Bill.If a proposal be submitted in that connexion, I shall be found supporting it.
– But the Government which agreed to such a proposal would be defeated.
– That is their business. Possibly they may be prepared to support it.
– They would be a poor kind of Government if they did support it.
– Of course I do not know whether the Government are willing to agree to such a proposal. At any rate, I must repeat what I said previously, that if the late Government had been asked to insert in the Bill the name of the man whom they intended to appoint, I do not think that they would have consented. I should not have been in favour of such a course.
– Why does the honorable member desire the present Government to do so?
– I do not. The Government can do as they please ; though, personally, I am prepared to insert the name of the High Commissioner in the Bill, because I should like to know who he is to be. I do not trust this Government as much as I trusted the Government of which I was a member, to make a good appointment.
– Incredible !
– The honorable member had to keep his eye on the late Government.
– I could trust the late Government absolutely. From the fact that the present Government propose to pay a salary of£3,000 per annum, I am inclined to think that they intend to appoint somebody who is sufficiently well off to do without a salary at all. I wish I could induce the Minister to indicate a few persons whom the Government consider to be suitable. At present, I have not heard mentioned the name of any one whom I consider to be up to standard.
– I have already said that the Government have no person in their mind’s eye.
– Not officially.
– If the Government have no person in their mind’s eye, how long will it take them to open their eyes when they get the Bill through? It is of no use to waste our time with this measure unless somebody is to be appointed. I fear that the measure has been, introduced at this stage of the session with a view of making no appointment until the recess. It ought to be made while Parliament is sitting.
– W.e can always control such matters.
– A Government, with a majority behind them can do very much as they like. Whatever the Opposition may say or do makes not the slightest difference.
– This House and the Senate can block an Appropriation Bill for months.
– The point is as to whether the Government ought to insert the name of their nominee in the Bill.
– That cannot be done at the second-reading stage.
– But the point can be discussed. A number of reasons have been suggested as to why the measure was not previously introduced. Was it because the Senate carried a motion that the name of the High Commissioner should be submitted to both Houses before any Bill is passed? If the Senate re-asserts its previous demand, I understand that the Government will take up the attitude that it is useless to proceed with the Bill. The question, therefore, is vitally important. As far as I am concerned, I desire that the Government shall have an opportunity of getting the Bill through as quickly as possible. But, suppose that we carried the second reading without further discussion ! What guarantee is there that the Bill would not be laid aside until the end of the session ? If the Minister will assure us that there is a real intention to proceed with it, I shall cut short my remarks.
– We ask the House to proceed with the Bill now, and to pass it through all its stages to-night.
– Even if we did so, our experience of the conduct of business by the Government is such that we have no reason to believe that the Bill would be pushed through in the Senate.
– The Senate is now waiting for work to do.
– I know nothing about the condition of the business-paper in the Senate; but I shall support the Government in regard to this Bill, and shall vote for an increase of the salary of the High Commissioner to , £5,000. I also propose to support any attempt which may be made to insert the name of the High Commissioner in the Bill ; though I admit that I do not expect the Government to agree to that. I trust that the result of the discussion will be that the measure will be passed by both Houses as early as possible, that the Government will make an appointment this session, and that there will be an opportunity of discussing the appointment when made.
– I am afraid that there is very little use in speaking against this Bill. When the Ministerialists unite forces with the front Opposition bench one has to realize that the numbers are against one. Nevertheless, I think that there has been a failure up to the present to show what the High Commissioner is to do. The Minister of Ex ternal Affairs, in introducing the Bill, gave an eloquent sketch of what the functions of the official in question are to be. But it is obvious that there will be practically no work for him, except attending public and official banquets, and speaking on behalf of Australia at various functions.
– Does the honorable member suggest that that is all that Captain Collins is doing now?
– He is doing very little more. If the Commonwealth had control over the indebtedness of Australia, if we had assumed responsibility for the State debts, there would be good work to be done by a practical, business man. But the good service to Australia in that event could only be rendered by treating the High Commissioner’s staff in London as South Australia and Tasmania treated their staff in relation to the financing of loans. The other States have always paid deference to certain financial institutions every time they approached the money market. From the practice followed by State Governments in floating loans, it would appear as if they thought it was necessary in approaching the London money lenders to first of all butter the palms of the authorities of certain banks and financial institutions. It would seem, in their opinion, to be necessary that these people should receive a high commission on every loan floated. I think that if the matter had been dealt with in a business-like way, the Commonwealth would, years ago, have taken over the debts of the States, and if that course had been followed I admit that there would be something for the High Commissioner to do. If we had been prepared to embark on an extensive immigration policy, there would also have been work for the High Commissioner to do. Imagine this officer speaking in a public hall in London of the great securities offered by the Commonwealth, and our ability to meet all our obligations, when we know that up to the present this Parliament has, I am glad to be able to say, resolutely set its face against a Commonwealth loan policy. Fancy the absurdity of the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth pointing out the enormous advantages which must accrue to the unemployed of Great Britain, or to those possessed of a small amount of capital, if they emigrated to Australia, when up to the present we have done nothing to initiate an immigration policy.
– The honorable member forgets that the Government “ are taking active steps.”
– Every Government we have had have professed to take active steps, but they have all taken very good care to put no vote on the Estimates to meet the expenditure involved in the prosecution of an immigration policy. I do not know whether the majority of honorable members would approve of such a policy.
– Ask honorable members opposite.
– I might ask honorable members on both sides of the House, because, up to the present nothing practical has been done in this direction by either side. I repeat that we have been given no detailed information of the work which the High Commissioner will be called upon to do. If honorable members believe that, because Canada and New Zealand are represented by High Commissioners in London, the dignity of the Commonwealth demands that we should be similarly represented, then the salary proposed is quite sufficiently high. Personally, I do not believe that the people of Australia should be called upon to meet the expense of private hospitalities extended by the High Commissioner. There are certain public functions and certain public duties which any representative of the Commonwealth would be expected to attend and perform, but the salary proposed in the Bill is quite sufficient for the purpose when we remember that the wealthy Dominion of Canada, with nearly double the population of Australia, pays only £2,000 a year to her High Commissioner, who, after years of hard work, is still engaged in active service on behalf of the Dominion. I do not know of any representative in London of any of the British Dominions who is so well paid as we propose to pay our High Commissioner. If he is to emulate Lord Strathcona in entertaining Royalty, a salary of £25,000 is much more nearly what will be required than is a salary of £5,000. Canada pays her High Commissioner a certain salary, and permits him to entertain as he pleases at his own expense. That is the course followed by all the State Governments with regard to their Agents-General, and for many years to come the duties of the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth will not be so onerous as are those of the Agent-General of a State. Until we take over the debts of the States and carry out an immigration policy there will be nothing for the High Commissioner to do except, as some one has said, to breathe Australian sentiment in Great Britain. If that be so, we shall, by passing the Bill, be committing ourselves to pay too much for a bubble. If, as has been whispered or suggested, this Bill is intended to make a position for any particular man, it is neither more nor less than a job.
– That is not so.
– If it is intended for the purpose, either of promoting a supporter or getting rid of an opponent, I hope the measure will not pass.
– That is not the position.
– I accept the assurance of the Minister. The Government should not for an instant listen to the suggestion to put the name of the High Commissioner in the Bill. The appointment of that officer will be an administrative act ; and if the Government cannot be trusted to make such an appointment, they certainly cannot be trusted to carry out very much more important functions. If the name of the High Commissioner were mentioned, it would give rise to a protracted and very unfortunate debate as to the merits or demerits of certain persons. Should a certain aspirant for the position be selected, and his name be inserted in the Bill, it is more than probable that while theproposed appointment would suit some persons, it would be objectionable to others. I doubt whether the Government could appoint any man who would receive universal support from either their own party, the Opposition, the House as a whole, or from the country. If the Bill is passed, the Government should be prepared to make the appointment and accept full responsibility for it.
– But they ought to make the appointment before the session closes.
– That is a matter entirely ‘for themselves. If Parliament is strong enough to force their hand, they will do so; but if the Government are sufficiently strong to withstand an attack, they will make the appointment as and when they like, and will accept full responsibility for it.
– They do not need the measure now if they do not require to make the appointment now.
– Even should the Bill be passed, I should like the appointment hung up for a considerable time ; and certainly until some effort is made by taking over the debts of the States to provide some work for a High Commissioner to do. If I thought that it would have the effect of delaying the passage of the Bill for a year, or for a couple of years, I should be prepared to vote against the second reading. I see no necessity for it, and the urgency of it has not been shown. It is quite certain that under existing conditions we shall not supersede the State Agents-General by making this appointment. So long as the State Parliaments control the indebtedness of the States, and State Governments continue to borrow, they must have their separate representatives in London. The appointment of the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth would involve no material diminution in the work of the State AgentsGeneral. We should find, as the Canadians have found, that the office of High Commissioner creates its own work. The Government of Canada, and large business houses established in the Dominion, have found it necessary, in spite of the appointment of the High Commissioner of the Dominion, to continue to avail themselves of the services of commercial agents in London. The High Commissioner cannot, and will not, undertake any duties of that kind. Therefore, it must be recognised that in approving of this salary we shall add so much more to the public expenditure. I think that we have a perfect right to ask that the duties to be performed shall be commensurate with the expenditure involved. On these grounds I shall oppose any increase of the salary ; it would be a fatal mistake to take that step. In my opinion, it would be very improper for the House to say that, because the High Commissioner may not have private means, and must accept hospitality, the people of Australia shall foot the bill in order that he may be in a position to return it. Let the House fix a salary for the work which is to be performed, and let the officer, whoever he may be, do exactly as a Minister does. Some Ministers may not be quite so liberal as are others. Some Ministers may spend out of their private means while others may not. The House does not vote a particular allowance to Ministers because they may be called upon to return hospitality. The House does not say : “ We cannot allow our Ministers to look mean, therefore we shall vote a certain sum to enable them to return hospitality.”
I do not think that the people of Australia are prepared to accept such an obligation as that, and certainly it should not be accepted in the case of the High Commissioner. If there is any man in Australia whom the Government want to appoint, and he says that he is not in a position to accept the salary, they ought to look out for another person. I do not think that the House should fix the salary of an office to meet the financial position of any individual. I see no necessity for passing the Bill at this stage, and I fail to see that the people of Australia will for many years to come get a return for the expenditure.
.- Prior to Federation it was not understood that offices of profit would be duplicated under either the Commonwealth or the State Governments. This Bill provides that the High Commissioner may take over some, if not all, of the duties of the representatives of the States ; but I have not heard that an arrangement of that kind has yet been come to. I have no objection to the Bill being passed. I do not intend *to stop legislation of a proper character, but I hold that before a High Commissioner is appointed, and his duties are defined, the States and the Commonwealth should be brought into line. In my opinion it would be a perfect farce to set up in London another huge establishment to represent a mere handful of people. The expenditure of this country is becoming rather a troublesome question. With business men, who want 20s. worth of value for every £1 spent, the feeling is growing that the Commonwealth is not getting value for expenditure. When the people voted for Federation the feeling was that it would be followed by a limitation of legislative, functions - by a reduction of the number of Parliaments - but that anticipation has not been realized. On the contrary, experience has shown - and I think that ninety persons out of every hundred recognise to-day - the utter impossibility of the Federal Parliament enacting more domestic legislation for the people. The trouble we have had with a simple Department like the Postmaster-General’s, has been really dreadful, and yet it is now proposed to set up an expensive establishment in London. I am not going to cavil at a salary of £3,000 or £2,000, or any amount. I think that the High Commissioner should be a man able to take his place amongst the representatives of the nations of the world, and, to my mind, the question of voting £1,000 or £2,000, or even £5,000 for the office is unimportant. Before an appointment is made, however, the Commonwealth Government should get into touch with the State Governments, and come to an arrangement for the abolition of some of their establishments. My own opinion is that the duties of the High Commissioner should embrace many of the matters indicated by the honorable member foi Franklin. There can be no question that the financial position of the Commonwealth will necessitate the raising of a loan. Then the question arises, as to whether the Commonwealth cannot do much better than the States have done through having to pay huge commissions for the flotation of loans. But that time has not come yet, and it will not come until the Commonwealth takes over the State debts. It is absurd to suggest that the only duty which the representative of Australia will have to perform will be to attend at dinner parties or functions of that kind, entailing expense. Undoubtedly the social element will play an important part. Certainly the High Commissioner must educate the nations of the world, at any rate the white nations, as to the immense capabilities of the Commonwealth, and for that purpose he will need to possess special qualifications. I believe that 90 per cent, of the people will condemn this additional appointment unless an arrangement is first come to by the Commonwealth with the States to avoid the duplication of services.
– - I am pleased to find that the Government have brought forward this Bill. I do not quite agree with those who think that it should have been brought forward at an earlier stage. In my opinion the Government have kept faith with their statement that it would be one of their earliest Bills. 1 expect them to proceed with it; but as regards the making of an appointment, I would not expect them to do other than what is done by every Government. It will be satisfactory to the Parliament to know who the appointee is, but if the appointment is deferred until the Government get into recess, they will only be doing that which is customary. I do not intend to exact from them any promise in that regard. No doubt every honorable member would like to have an op portunity of reviewing the appointment. But it might make a very great difference 111 getting a gentleman to accept the position if he knew that in this House he would have to go through a ragging should some disappointment have been experienced. However, that is a matter for the Government to consider. Personally, I should like to see the appointment made. There are many. Australians who are capable of filling the position to the satisfaction of their countrymen, and the High Commissionership should be the blue ribbon of our public life. I should be delighted at the appointment of some one who had passed through this Parliament, and thus served the whole Commonwealth. I do not agree with those who say that the High Commissioner will have nothing to do. He will have a great deal to do in connexion with the consolidation of our public debts, for one thing. Once the appointment is made, that matter cannot be long delayed. I do not approve of the provision in clause 5 that the High Commissioner shall, at the request of the Governments of the States, perform for them functions and duties similar to those described in the Bill, and to those now discharged by the Agents-General. In my opinion, his instructions should come only from the Commonwealth Government, through whom the States should make known their requirements. It would degrade the position: to place the High Commissioner at the call of the States, and one who would be ready to receive instructions from them instead of from the Commonwealth would not be worthy to fill the office. If the High Commissioner does not perform his duties satisfactorily, he may be removed from office upon a joint address of this Parliament. I approve of the five years’ tenure of office, because a good man’ can be re-appointed. We need a man of good address and good reputation, who will worthily represent every Australian interest.
– A Free Trader or a Protectionist ?
– A wise man will know the arguments for and against both policies, but he will be a diplomatist, and will not put his fiscal views forward. He will represent all classes of the community, the Socialists as well as those who are opposed to extreme Socialism. Parliament can be trusted not to approve of an unsuitable appointment. The States have appointed good men as Agents-
General. There is not one of them who has not been capable, and Australia can be trusted to choose a suitable representative. But a good man must be well paid. A salary of £3,006 a year would be quite insufficient, and £2,000 will not be enough for the upkeep of an official residence. The travelling expenses, of course, will come to a large sum. In my opinion, the salary of the High Commissioner should not be less than) £5,000 per annum. Even the representatives of small European principalities receive very high salaries, to enable them to keep up the honour and dignity of the countries they represent, though those countries are insignificant compared with Australia. The position of the High Commissioner will be as important as that of the Governor-General.
– What we require is a business appointment.
– The High Commissioner should be a man to whom the State Agents-General can appeal for advice as the Governors of the States appeal to the Governor-General for advice on constitutional questions.
– I have not heard of that being done.
– It was done by. the present Governor of New South Wales when Governor of Queensland, though I should not be in order in discussing the matter now. The salary should be in keeping with* the importance of the office. When Warren Hastings was Governor-General of India, his salary was not sufficient, but he did things in such style that he was afterwards impeached, because it was thought that he was too poor to have the money to maintain so good an establishment without accepting bribes. There are no rich men in Australia in the sense that there are in the United States, but there may be some prepared to accept the position, and to willingly spend their own money in connexion with it. From such men a suitable representative may not be obtained. We should be prepared to pay for every service that is done for us, and should not expect the High Commissioner to expend his own money “or run into debt in suitably carrying out the responsibilities of his office. Such an expenditure might be carried to an extreme that would bring discredit on the Commonwealth. We have had in Australia men occupying high official positions who have been so lavish in their hospitality as to cause a good deal of annoyance. The salary of the High Commissioner should be fixed, and he should not be expected to go beyond it. We should grant a salary that will enable the High Commissioner to do credit to Australia. The naming in the House of the man to be appointed is a mere matter of detail. It is the responsibility of the Government to make a good appointment. No Administration could afford” to make a weak one, for such a mistake would lead to its downfall. A political appointment is certainly out of the question. I feel confident that no public man in Australia would sell himself to the Government for the sake of securing the office, and I think it will be very difficult to find a suitable man to accept the position at the salary offered, unless he is willing to expend a good deal of his own money in filling the office in a way that will be creditable to him in the eyes of his fellow ambassadors. The Commonwealth should find money to cover all expenditure attaching to the office.
.- I view with satisfaction the fact that we have apparently reached a stage at which the Government seriously mean to provide for what has been recognised since the inception of Federation as a need, and, at one time, as the urgent need, of Australia. This measure can be discussed without party feeling; but it is interesting to observe that it was not introduced until we had reached a critical period in the history of our finances. In the circumstances, perhaps, it is natural that some honorable members should be quibbling about the proposed expenditure. My own opinion is that the salary is not as high as it ought to be. It must be recognised that it is not sufficient, having regard to the duties which the High Commissioner will have to carry out. It is strange . that we should have been able to carry on for over eight years without such representation in London, since each of the six States has thought it desirable to be specially represented there, and to maintain separate staffs and offices. If they have found it necessary to have such representation, it must be even more necessary that we should have a High Commissioner. There has been some delay, of which no explanation has been offered, in proceeding with the consideration of thisBill, and some honorable members seem, toinfer that the Government postponed the consideration of this and other measuresuntil they had had an opportunity of meeting the State Premiers in conference. A member of the Cabinet ought certainly to tell the House what was the feeling expressed by the Premiers at the Conference in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner, who would take” over certain functions now being discharged by the Agents-General of the States.
– I think that they were too busy with other matters to touch upon this question at the Conference.
– The doubt on the point is one of the unfortunate results of the Government having entered into a secret caucus, and being pledged, apparently, not to state what happened there. The Parliament ought to put down its foot on such procedure. The business of Australia ought not to be done in secret. The Labour party are often twitted with meeting in caucus, when they have nothing more than an ordinary business meeting ; but the representatives of the Government met the State Premiers in a secret caucus, and, apparently, indulged in a good deal of bargaining. The Premiers may consider that they are at the head of sovereign States ; but it must not be forgotten that the people have to find the money for all public services, and that unnecessary expenditure means unnecessary taxation. That the States should have, in London, separate representatives working not very harmoniously together, and often contradicting each other’s statements in regard to State matters, is certainly undesirable, apart altogether from the additional cost which such a system entails. The Government ought to tell us what were the views expressed by the State Premiers at the recent Conference, so far as this question is concerned. Are they prepared to fall into line with the Commonwealth as soon as a High Commissioner is appointed, and to transfer to that officer many of the duties now carried out bv the Agents-General ? If they are, the fears of some honorable members as to an additional burden being imposed upon the people may be removed. Probably that feeling is justified by the want of knowledge as to how the State Premiers view this proposal. Every honorable member who has spoken to this question has admitted that the salary proposed to be paid is too low ; and it must have occurred to honorable members generally that, apart from the salary and travelling allowance of the High Commissioner, and the up keep of his office, provision will have to be made for a complete staff. Are we to have from the Government any information on the subject, or are they so dominated by the State Premiers that they dare not speak?
– Did not the Minister of External Affairs, in moving the second reading of the Bill, give details of the expenditure ?
– But since then the Prime Minister and his colleagues have had an opportunity to talk over the matter with the State Premiers. The. Minister of External Affairs deta’iled many of the important functions which the High Commissioner is to discharge; but we ought to know whether, in making this appointment, we shall impose on the people an additional burden, amounting to some thousands of pounds, apart from the salary and travelling allowance which the High Commissioner will receive. If the States will show a readiness to change their attitude on most matters, and recognise the Federation, together with the fact that all ‘the taxation is borne by- one set of taxpayers, .we shall be able to make this office more complete and efficient, and pay a salary such as will command the services of a brainy man with his heart in the work. It is not unreasonable to ask for information or some assurance on this point. We have not been allowed to know anything of the financial arrangements with the States, or whether they are prepared to fall into line. Are the States prepared, for instance, to allow the Commonwealth to take charge of immigration for the whole of Australia, and have all the information centralized at one office without regard to particular States? As Federation grows the work of the High Commissioner will doubtless increase, and, from observations made, the High Commissioner, in addition to a great capacity for big dinners, will, of course, require to be a diplomat, and, what is, I think, most important, thoroughly representative of Australian sentiment. These qualifications necessarily narrow the field of selection ; and there is no escape from the view that the individual is all important, because it is the personal attributes that count. For the organization of the office, and the superintendence of the staff from a business standpoint, special qualities are necessary, and to these must be added experience and knowledge of Australian politics. I join with those who claim that it is not unreasonable to ask the Government, if not to submit the name - to which course there mav be some objection - to, at any rate, make the appointment before we go into recess. We all know that names have been talked about in an informal sort of way, and, the choice being limited, a man ought quickly to be found. If the appointment is postponed until recess it will indicate that the Government are rather afraid of criticism ; but they must not overlook the fact that the appointment will not escape comment on every election platform. If, however, the appointment is made before Parliament rises, any criticism will be uttered in the H n,ise, with the full responsibility that rests on every member, and Ministers will be here to supply information that may clear objections or misunderstandings. It is desirable that our representative in. London should feel that he has the general confidence of the Parliament of the Commonwealth ; and the Federal Government, for the first time, and in a dying Parliament, will have the chance to make the most important appointment yet at their command. I believe there are gentlemen who would fill the position with credit and honour, and. if possible, there ought to be a general agreement as to the appointment. Whatever may be the political opinions or political past of the person appointed, the Opposition, as well as Government supporters, will recognise the high office, and not indulge in carping or unsparing criticism, except, of course, in case of a very unfit selection. We have not much chance to punish the present Government for any misdoing; but I point out that, though it is not likely, the supporters of the present Ministry might rebel on an issue of the kind, ot that the electors might take umbrage and cast their votes according to the appointment made. This view I commend to the Government, who. like other Governments, I suppose, are afraid only of losing office. The measure is a simple one, and the Government ought to let us know their views in regard to the filling of the position and the work that has to be done, particularly from the point of view I have emphasized more than once. Up to the present any requests from the Opposition nave not resulted in much satisfaction ; but this is an entirely non-party question, and it is reasonable to ask what view the State Premiers take.
– When moving the second reading of the Bill. I stated that the Government had had no communication with the State Premiers since the letters to which I then referred.
– Then is the House to understand that the matter was not discussed, formally or informally, when Ministers sat with the State Premiers in conference? It seems an extraordinary position.
– This Bill was introduced before the Premiers’ Conference met.
– I have already mentioned the fact that after the Minister had introduced the Bill, in a very able speech, the Conference with the State Premiers took place, and it is reasonable to suppose that the opportunity was then taken to ascertain the views of the State Premiers on the subject. Surely the fact of the Bill having been introduced would cause the State Premiers to express their opinions about it, even unofficially. I am not speaking of official communications, such as the Minister referred to in his interjection. The House and the public are entirely in the dark as to what took place, owing to the caucus being absolutely secret. Apparently because Ministers have been sworn to secrecy, we’ can get no information, not even a hint, although the matter is most important to the taxpayers. If the States do away with their Agents-General, as they ought to do, and hand over their functions to our central office, it will mean that the High Commissioner and his staff will have a greatly increased amount of business to do, and require very large offices. It will be necessary to pay a big rent for the premises, and to have a big staff to do the work. That will necessitate a large addition to Commonwealth expenditure, and will be another item of expense of which the Commonwealth will relieve the States. Surely, therefore, we ought “ to know whether the question has been considered or discussed with the State representatives. The honorable member for Franklin apparently had the same idea in his mind. Although the Minister does not seem to rise to the occasion at all, I am justified in emphasizing the fact, and asking what the Government propose to do. Is this to be an added expenditure by the Commonwealth, without any economy on the part of the States, or is it to be an expenditure transferred from the States to the Commonwealth, leaving us still to hand over to the States the money with which we may have to provide them under any arrangement that may be made? The question of the handling of the State debts is associated with that of appointing a High
Commissioner, and, therefore, it is not at all unreasonable to ask the Minister to give us information on all these phases of the matter. If the duties of the position are so much enlarged, it will be so ‘much the more important, and qualifications which might fit a man simply to do the diplomatic work, and to keep in touch with Australian interests, will not be sufficient if the High Commissioner is to be in charge of a huge Department in which a vast amount of work has to be done, with heavy responsibilities that will keep him at work all the time,, quite apart from his social and representative functions. Any man who goes to London to do honour to the Commonwealth, and to represent it thoroughly, will find the position a big strain on him, and also on his time and his pocket. AH these considerations emphasize the importance of a proper understanding of the question, but, judging by this Bill, by the salary proposed, and by all that we have heard from the Government, they do not appear to have realized the importance of the High Commissionership, and of all that is associated with it. They do not seem to have foreseen or provided for the big office and staff that may be necessary to do the great amount of work which will have to be done if the duties now performed by the State AgentsGeneral are taken over. Unless the States are prepared to make a radical departure from their previous line of conduct, and show a willingness to work harmoniously with the Commonwealth in this matter, I believe that there would be a good deal of justification even for delaying the Bill further, although I am one of those who from the first have asked that provision should be made for a High Commissioner, and I am not going to vote against the measure on that ground. We are justified in asking for full information, so that we may be able to vote for the measure with our eyes open, and in impressing upon the State Governments the fact that we expect, and even demand, that they shall meet us properly. I did hope that the Government, in meeting the State Premiers, would let them know the feeling of this Parliament, and endeavour to ascertain their views and intentions. The State Premiers, if they were fit for their positions as leaders of their Houses, could surely have guaranteed that whatever they proposed their Parliaments would carry. If they are not prepared to let the High Commissioner’s office take over the work at present done by the State Agents-General, then a huge expense will be imposed upon the people, and honorable members like the honorable member for Franklin and others, are not unreasonable in being a little chary about rushing in to vote for the appointment of a High Commissioner. I hope that before the debate goes too far, we shall receive from Ministers information on the points which I have endeavoured to bring under their notice.
.- I think this question is pretty well agreed upon by all sides of the House, and does not require much debate. My only regret is that the appointment was not made long ago, because then a great number of the difficulties which this Parliament has had to face would have been avoided. The matter is wrapt up with a great many of the most important questions, such as immigration, and the unification of our loans, with which the Commonwealth Parliament has to deal. Until we have a High Commissioner, it will be difficult to tackle, effectively, those great problems. The honorable member for Indi has touched upon the important point of the duplication of offices. As a people, we are becoming very much over-supplied with officers of one sort or another j and if we had made this appointment earlier, I believe that to-day we should have had every State represented under the one roof. I think that is not impossible of achievement even now ; and I hope that the outcome of the recent friendly meetings between Commonwealth Ministers and the Premiers of the States, will be a much more harmonious feeling between the different Governments, which, after all, are acting for the same set of people. I hope that within a few days the Prime Minister will be able to make an announcement to the effect that after the Commonwealth Government have appointed the High Commissioner, the State agencies will be brought under the same roof. There ought to be a Department in the High Commissioner’soffice for each State, with a proper set of books kept, and proper functions allotted to each. The State agencies in Londonought to be only Departments in the High Commissioner’s office.
– Would the honorable member abolish the present agencies?
– I certainly should, [f Australia is to be really federated, as we all hope it will be, one of its first necessities is to have in London only one agency for Australia. The States as States should not be known outside the Commonwealth.
– Has Canada found that possible?
– I do not know ; but I do know that in London one never hears of any Canadian province. I am fairly well up in geography, but I would not like to attempt to enumerate the Canadian Provinces, and I doubt whether the honorable member could do it. We do not want to have the States competing against each other in the London market. Rather ought they to be working together under the High Commissioner. A great saving could thus be effected.
– It could be if the States would agree to the adoption of that course.
-I think that they would have to agree to it. Our people are possessed of common sense, and they would very soon compel the State Parliaments to do “their work in the most economical and effective manner.
– They have not done that so far.
– This Parliament is to blame for that. Had a High Commissioner been appointed in the first instance, the States would long ere this have fallen into line, and their work in London would have been performed by the High Commissioner, who would have a Department devoted to the requirements of each. A good deal has been said in reference to the Government having hinted who will be the first High Commissioner for the Commonwealth. I entirely agree with the statement of the honorable member for Dalley that any person who is found touting for that position should be at once disqualified. But I do not think there has been any touting for it. It is of vital importance to the Commonwealth that we should procure the services of the best men available for the office.
– Who does the honorable member think should be appointed ?
– The honorable member is asking me too much. If I were the Prime Minister I would not tell him until this Bill had become law.
– The honorable member thinks that the Government have made up their mind?
– The honorable member is as good a judge of that matter as I am. A salary of £3,000 a year is not a large one to offer the High Commissioner, even after allowing him £2,000 for the purpose of maintaining an official residence. It almost looks as if a rich man will have to be chosen for the position. I am rather surprised at the suggestion of my honorable friends opposite that the salary should ‘be increased, because they have always declared that no man is worth more than £500 a year.
– Who has declared that?
– It has been repeatedly stated by a great number of my honorable friends opposite.
– I do not know to whom the honorable member is alluding. Will he be good enough to give us the name?
– Tom Mann.
– We have nothing to do with Tom Mann.
– My honorable friends have always declared themselves in favour of one man one job, and II think that £500 a year was the maximum salary which they favoured. I am very glad that they entertain a more reasonable view of this question. The salary which should be paid to the High Commissioner will very greatly depend upon the person who is chosen for the office. Some men would be worth £10,000 a year to Australia - others would not be worth £3,000.
– We cannot provide that a special salary shall be paid to a special man.
– That is the difficulty. We cannot expect the Government to undertake negotiations in regard to the salary payable to the High Commissioner in addition to intrusting them with his selection. I am very glad that they intend to insist upon making the selection themselves, because that is their prerogative. In my opinion, a salary of £5,000 a year would be much nearer the requirements of the position.
– With £3,000 far expenses.
– I think that a salary of £5,000 a year, with £2,000 for expenses, would be a fairly liberal remuneration, and that it would have the effect of enlarging the area of our choice. The Government will consult the best interests of Australia if they select a representative man, one who will not cry “ stinking fish “ about this country, and who will promptly correct erroneous statements in regard to it. ‘ We do not wish to see Australia decried on the other side of the world. On the contrary, we require a representative man whose aim it will be to keep our name sweet in the Mother Country.
.- I recognise that the honorable member for Fawkner does not usually make statements which he is not prepared to substantiate, and for that reason I regret that he did not mention his authority for his allegation that the Labour party have declared that no man is worth a salary of more than £500 a year. I have yet to learn that Shakspeare received £10,000 a year, 01 even ten thousand pence, and yet no rich man has left such an enduring mark upon our literature. When Milton defended England so vigorously he was not possesed of £10,000 or of £5,000. He did not receive a salary of even £500 a year. Yet I doubt if honorable members can mention the name of a single wealthy man of his time whose achievements can be ‘compared with’ his. We all recognise that .we must grant the High Commissioner a fairly large salary. I have lived in London for 10s. a week, and. I have spent £10 a week there. It is a city in which one can spend as _ much as can be expended in any other city in the world, and it is also a city in which one can live reasonably cheap. Whatever salary may be proposed, I intend to submit an amendment similar to that which I moved when the salary of the GovernorGeneral was under consideration. That amendment, I think, has saved Australia from being mulcted in £20,000 a year instead of £10,000. The clause relating to this matter affirmed that the salary of the Governor-General should not be less than £10,000. I submitted an amendment to omit the word “ less “ with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the word ‘ ‘ more. ‘ ‘
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– I have already pointed out that the carrying of an amendment moved by me in the Parliament of this State, affecting the Commonwealth Constitution, was the means of preventing an extra £10,000 per annum being paid to the Governor-General. That arose in this manner : The Government of the day, of which the Premier was Sir George Turner, brought the Commonwealth Bill before the State Parliament for considera tion. It was then provided that the salary of the Governor-General should be “not less than” £10,000. I had had some experience of parliamentary promises, and with a view to making matters more sure, I proposed to strike out the word “less” and insert the . word “more.” That made the provision read that the salary of the Governor-General should “not be more than £10,000 per annum.” It will be within the recollection of honorable members that the first GovernorGeneral, Lord Hopetoun, was not content with the salary of £10,000 per annum, and the State of New South Wales went so far as to offer to pay its proportion of an extra. £10,000. Victoria, however, did not offer to pay her share. I was a member of the State Parliament at the time, and when a proposal was made, I submitted an amendment. The Government of the day went so far as to ask me to withdraw my proposal. But I said : “No; vote against it if you like, and let the people know how you vote.” My amendment was agreed to. I claim that thereby we saved £10,000 per year. Having in view what took place on that occasion I shall, when this Bill gets into Committee, move ah amendment to the effect that the salary of the High. Commissioner be ‘ ‘ notmore than “ the amount of £3,000 which is here provided for. .
– The Bill provides that the salary shall be £3,000.
– The amount might afterwards be raised.
– We cannot bind the hands of a future Parliament.
– The Governor-General’s expenses have brought up the payments to £20,000 per year now.
– I was not referring to the expenses, but to the salary. . There are other amendments which I should like to see made in the Bill. Clause 3, for instance, provides that the High Commissioner shall hold office for a period not exceeding five years, and shall be eligible’ for re-appointment. I trust that an age limit will be imposed, because, in my opinion, the brain capacity of a man representing a continent like ours should be at its highest. Consequently, the High Commissioner should be a comparatively young man. Again, the Bill provides that the High Commissioner may, at any time, be removed from office for misbehaviour or incapacity, on a joint address from both
Houses of the Parliament. I am sorry that our people have not the same advantage as the Switzers have. The people should have the power to initiate a proposal to remove an officer of this description if they are not content with him. The people should control Parliament in the matter. It is likewise provided that the High Commissioner may, if requested, represent the State Governments, and act for the States. I think that some definite arrangement should be made with the States as otherwise nothing may be done. When the Commonwealth was established, it was held that there was no longer a need for State Governors. I believe that the opinion of the majority of the members of this Parliament would be in favour of removing the Governors of the various States.
– I realize that I must not pursue that argument, but, at any rate,. I may remark that it was understood that one result of Federation would be to remove the need for appointing State Governors. We must be careful that the appointment of a Commonwealth High Commissioner does not mean simply the creation of another Agent- General. It would be well for the Government to intimate to the various States that they might as well withdraw their Agents- General as soon- as we appoint our High Commissioner. My experience during a residence of six and a half years in London was that it was very difficult indeed to find the Agent-General of a State, or to get him to do anything. I well remember that, having secured my qualification as a medical man, I went to the office of the Agent-General for Victoria with the object of securing an appointment as a ship’s surgeon. But I was like an individual who makes an inquiry at the front door, and is sent round to the servant’s quarters. I was told that the office did not concern itself with matters like that. On my next visit to London, I went !to the Agent-General’s office as a member of the State Parliament. I told the officials that I had a letter of introduction from the Premier of the day. When I said : “I hope you will be able to help me to find ‘a ship,” the difference in the treatment I received, as compared with that meted out to me when I went as a private individual, was very remarkable. As a matter of fact, at this very time I already had in my pocket an appointment to a ship that was taking out immigrants to Western Australia. But I made the inquiry in order to note the difference extended to a member of Parliament and to a private individual. I will not, as a matter of kindness, mention the name of the Agent-General. One of the principal duties of an Agent-General has been to secure invitations for wealthypeople from Australia. When a wealthywoman went to London, the Agent-General secured for her presentation to the Queen, before whom she appeared, with about half-a-dozen yards of beautiful silk draperies trailing behind her ; whilst the rich gentleman got himself into a suit of clothes known as Court dress, which, in the majority of cases, was by no means becoming, for it is not every one who can show a good leg. Some of the Agents-General knew very little about the countries they were supposed to represent. I know that when one AgentGeneral was asked for certain information about Victoria, he had . to send to an Australian living in London to obtain it. The gentleman was the late Mr. Thomas Eldridge Healey. From 1880 to 1887 I had some experience of the work of the Agents-General. I think it is a waste of good Australian money to keep them all there. I think that .£3,000 a year would be a good salary for this office. When in Europe nation meets nation to settle matters by arbitration, a national representative considered amongst the first in importance is the President of Switzerland, who receives a salary of only about £700 a. year, and is not given a big palace to live in. Rather than allow the High Commissioner £2,000 for an official residence, as proposed in the Bill, I would prefer to pay him a salary of .£5,000 a year and let him live where he pleases, and extend such hospitalities as he likes. The men who attend society functions are never in need of a dinner; a seat at atheatre, or the means to enjoy other amusements. It is not the duty of the Commonwealth to spend a large amount of money in entertaining court officials with ridiculous titles. We have some officers here with ridiculous titles. They ‘do good work no doubt, but I could wish they were not named in the way they are. We are setting aside these absurdities in Australia, and in some of the State Parliaments they have dispensed with the silly idiotic thing called the mace that we have here. To refer again to the example of Switzerlandwhen a representative of that country was appointed at Washington, with a salary of £400 a year and expenses under £800 a year, the Swiss people objected. One per cent, of the people exercised the initiative and brought about a referendum at which the people told the Ministry of the day that they had done wrong. If the electors of Australia, the people who will have to pay this money, were asked tha question, they would say that the salary and allowances proposed to be voted to the High Commissioner under this Bill are too high. I am prepared, as an experiment, to agree to vote a salary of £3,000 to the High Commissioner. ‘But the Bill proposes that he shall also receive £2,000 a year for an official residence, and such sums for travelling expenses as the Minister allows. I should prefer to see sub-clause 2 of clause 6 omitted, and the High Commissioner given a salary of £5,000 with the right to live where he pleases. By voting allowances in the way proposed we shall be imposing a duty upon the High Commissioner to live in a high and mighty style, and spend money in entertaining people. I am satisfied that that is not the desire of the electors of Australia. Whatever the salary paid to the High Commissioner may be he should be expected to live within it. I should not desire the wealthiest man who accepted the post to spend one penny more than the salary paid him by the Commonwealth justified. If that were understood it would avoid the carping criticisms we hear in connexion with the Governors of the various States. In clause 7 it is provided that -
A person appointed to be the High Commissioner shall not during his tenure- of office, except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister, be or act as director or agent of or hold any office in any company or syndicate whether incorporated or unincorporated or hold any other office or employment whether within or without the Commonwealth.
I do not know of any member of the Public Service who is permitted to hold other than his official office, and I maintain that even if the High Commissioner were the highest officer of the Commonwealth he should be under the same restriction in this respect as the most lowly paid officer in the Service. I venture to suggest that it would be better to make clause 7 read -
A person appointed to be the High Commissioner shall not during his tenure of office, unless as prescribed by the Parliament, and so on. I know the answer which Ministers will give to that suggestion, but it is not sufficient to say that the Minister would be responsible to Parliament, because, under our confounded party system of Government, if one Minister makes a mistake, which is resented by Parliament, the whole of the Ministry must resign. It would be much more agreeable to me if the High Commissioner were not allowed to hold any office other than that of our representative in London. Clause 8 says -
The Governor-General may, subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, appoint officers -
I do not see any objection to that provision, because I take it that His Excellency will be merely the mouthpiece of the Government of the day. But clause 9 reads -
That provision means, I take it, that the persons would be temporarily employed until the Governor-General confirmed their appointments. I should prefer persons to be admitted to the staff of the High Commissioner on probation. When I entered the banking circle, every officer in a bank was employed on approval for three months, and, if he did not suit - if he could not add figures quickly enough - he was sent away.
– Is not that really what this provision means?
– I am quite averse to temporary appointments. In this State a’ temporary appointment has .been continued for twenty or twenty-three years. The honorable member for Maribyrnong will remember the case to which I allude. Whenever the opportunity arises, I shall protest against this system of temporary employment.
– This provision means that the Government of the day may dismiss an officer.
– I quite understand that. Clause 9 also contains this provision -
That, to my mind, will leave a loophole for an uncertain sum to be expended, because no limit is fixed. Of course, the Ministry of the day would be answerable to Parliament, whatever expenditure might be incurred. If it exceeded a certain sum, honorable members would naturally object. I should prefer a lump sum to be appropriated, and the High Commissioner allowed to manage the whole business of his office. Clause 9 goes on to say - .
I object to that provision. In this community, women have been admitted to the franchise, and one would have thought that the Commonwealth Government, who boast that women are paid at the same rate as men for a similar class of work, would give fair play to” female citizens. I do not know what the position is in Sydney and other State capitals, but in Melbourne, while only one place is provided for men looking for employment under the Public Service Act, four or five places are provided for women, and too frequently they are fooled, simply because they belong to the humble class of workers. I shall discuss that matter on another occasion. Before I can vote for the provision that the High Commissioner’s officers shall not be -subject to the Public Service Act, I shall require to hear a strong justification from the Minister. My present objection may be removed by the enlightenment which he may afford to me.
– I think that I can explain that satisfactorily to the honorable member.
– Clause 10 says-
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which, by this Act, are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act.
These regulations, I take it, will originate with the Governor-General in Council, and the Ministry will take full responsibility for them. As I said before, I lived in London on 10s. a week, and have also spent £10 a week there. It is a very expensive place to live in. If we expect our representative to maintain an equality with the highlypaid Ambassadors of foreign countries at Court and elsewhere, the proposed salary is not ample. But for performing the work of High Commissioner for Australia in London, it is, I think, more than ample. If we expect the High Commissioner to move day by day and night by night in the giddy whirl of London, with its many official dinners, countless receptions, and innumerable amusements which are supposed to be patronized by high officials, the amount is little enough. If we require our representative to act on business lines, .as is done in great American houses, and to see whomsoever may call, the amount is ample. If we expect him to work, to put in “six or four hours a day in his office, and reply to any slander which may be heaped upon Australia, the amount is ample. Compared with the salary which Switzerland - a small community comprising only 3,000,000 persons - pays to its representative, the proposed salary for our High Commissioner is a very handsome one. For many years the head of the mighty American Republic, governing 80,000,000 of English – speaking people, received a salary of £10,000 a year. The honorable member for Darwin can correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that the salary of the present President has been increased to £20,000.
– It has been increased to .£25,000.
– I know that from the time when the United States became glorious, its President drew a salary of only £10,000 a year.
– But he drew about three times as much for expenses.
– The honorable member certainly cannot have looked tip the expenses of White House, else he would not have made that wildly inaccurate statement.
– I looked up the figures quite recently.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong, because I am quoting from the latest return. I remember well that when General Jackson rode up to White House and hitched his horse to the fence–
– That was Jefferson.
– I did not know that Jefferson was a general. It was General Jackson who hitched the bridle of his horse to the post in front of the WhiteHouse. An American told me the tale, and I believe him. The expenses of the White House at Washington were nothinglike so large as the salary drawn by the President. Under Abraham Lincoln, whosename is loved by Englishmen as well as Americans, the expenses were not as great as those of the Victorian Government House, as set forth in a return presented’ to the State Parliament in compliance with a resolution agreed to on motion by the present Prime Minister. Whatever salary is provided for the High Commissioner, we should not continue the absurdity of an allowance for expenses. Let him have a lump sum, and be free to live in whatever house he likes, managing his receptions as he pleases. If he will give to Australian interests the attention which they demand, and keep his homeland in remembrance, he will do the duties required of him, and obtain credit from the Commonwealth. We cannot hope, nor do we wish, to attract here the aristocracy of Great Britain. The immigrants we need are the bone and sinew of the Old Land, men and women who will help to build up the Empire. What we need is to establish an office where people can get all necessary information relative to Australia. I hope that ultimately they will be able, by means of such an office, to acquire, and afterwards to settle on land here, without the absurd red-tape formalities which now prevail under State control. If the High ‘Commissioner does the work that requires doing, he will earn his salary, and do credit to his position.
.- The time has come when Parliament should provide for a High Commissioner. The advisability of creating such an office has been spoken of continually since the inception of Federation, and- Australians returning from the Old Country frequently refer to the need for a representative of the Commonwealth’ in London. Of course, the appointment of a High Commissioner will rest with. Ministers, to be made when they think necessary ; but, nevertheless, the Bill should be passed into law at once. The presence of a High Commissioner in London” will give the British people a much better idea of the importance of Australia than they have now. and will bring us prominently before them. It is not to be wondered at if they at present have a somewhat confused idea, regarding this country, seeing that there are no fewer than six Agents-General representing the States. These officers were asked recently to report as to the probable cost of a High Commissioner’s office, which would do the work of the Commonwealth and the States. The maintenance- of the present AgentsGeneral costs something like ^35.000 a year, and they estimated that a High Commissioner’s office in which the work of the Commonwealth as we’ll as of the State* would be conducted would cost £38.750, nr £3.750 more. They pointed out that for this extra sum the States would gain increased efficiency of administration, because in many Departments the present offices are not quite what they should be, and to make them efficient would cost more than the sum now spent on them. Last year the. Commonwealth spent £3,650 upon its offices in London. It is estimated that were the States not to abolish the office of Agent-General, a High Commissioner would cost us - including salaries and all expenses - about £12,000 per annum, or £8,000 more than we are now spending. But we should gain from the appointment benefits which are not now ob’tainable, which would make it better worth while to increase our expenditure than to continue the present unsatisfactory arrangement. The money will be well spent if we get the right man. We are now on the eve of a better understanding between the Commonwealth and the States than has yet existed since Federation. Therefore, even’ if the States do not abolish their London offices, they will be prepared at least to transfer to the High Commissioner’s office many of the functions that they now perform, arid so to reduce their expenditure.
– The Commonwealth must maintain supremacy in Commonwealth finance.
– When the State debts are transferred to the Commonwealth, as no doubt they will be in due course, the High Commissioner will have his work largely increased. Good work might be accomplished, not only in appointing a Commissioner, but in obtaining buildings in a prominent and suitable part of London in which, not only he, but the representatives of all the States, could be housed.
– That is the honorable member for Darwin’s scheme.
– I do not know who was the first to suggest it, but it is an admirably sensible one. When the High Commissioner is properly ensconced in his office he will have to deal, not only with our financial arrangements in London, but with the question of immigration, and we shall be doing good work in appointing a representative in London who will be able to direct to Australia a stream of immigration of the right sort.
– Will the honorable member suggest where such immigrants would get work when they came here?
– Men of the right type will soon find work. If the High
Commissioner succeeds in sending us a good supply of immigrants of the right type, of whom plenty must be offering in the United Kingdom, we shall, in that respect alone, be amply repaid for any ‘expenditure upon his office. That, however, will be only one of his important duties. He will have to do with the mercantile and financial life of Australia in England, and as soon as the debts of the States are transferred his duties in that regard will be materially augmented. In selecting a gentleman for this office, the Government should not merely look to those who occupy seats in this Parliament ; if there is a better man outside, I hope the Government will appoint him. I do not propose to deal with the question of what the High Commissioner’s salary should be. I have not had the privilege of living in London, and am therefore not competent to determine what is the salary required for the office. If the right man be selected, however, the salary that we pay him, whether it be £5,000 or £10,000 per annum, will be money well spent. We shall obtain more than va lue for it if a suitable appointment be made. If the Bill be passed, and the Government, not necessarily now, but whenever they deem fit, make an appointment we shall have in London offices wherein the Commonwealth and the States will work together for the benefit of the people, and, provided the money be well spent, we shallderive untold benefits.
– There are some clauses of the Bill with which I do not agree, and I must confess to a feeling of uneasiness while listening to the doubts expressed by several of the Ministerial supporters as to the bona fides of the Government with regard to the proposed appointment. It would seem that all they desire is that the Bill should be passed, and that they do not wish that a High Commissioner shall be immediately appointed. If an appointment is not to be made as soon as the Bill becomes law, 1 fail to see why we should deal with it now, since there is a great deal of other business before us of pressing urgency. If we are sincere, I hope that when the measure is passed a High Commissioner .will be appointed without delay. My chief reason for supporting the Bill is that the appointment of a High Commissioner will be one more step towards the consummation of an Australian Federation. It will, bring us more directly before, the public, not only in Great Britain, but throughout the world, as a young yet established nation. The delay in securing the efficient representation of the Commonwealth in London must have led many people to believe that we are not truly federated, and that we intend, for all time, to stand by the principle of State rights. Whether the High Commissioner supersede the Agents-General or not, I think it is well that he should be appointed so that we may have in London an Australian representative to fight for Australian interests. Although the States are collectively represented by the several Agents-General, it is impossible for any one of them in fighting for his State to take up a truly Australian stand. The function of the occupant of this splendid position will be to push the interests of Australia commercially and financially, and to otherwise advertise the country. We require a man who will at all times defend and make known Australia, without sinking to the level of advertising merely some corner of it. The proper settlement and utilization of our great spaces have been retarded, owing to the fact that, while the strings have been pulled strenuously for, say, Victoria and New South Wales, no great efforts have been made in this regard for the country as a whole. We can quite understand that each Agent- General, in forwarding the claims of his own State, would not go out of his way to remove the effect of disparaging criticism cast on the other States; and it seems to me that the appointment of an officer who could act as a public defender of Australian interests is most desirable. Globe-trotters, after a cursory glance from the windows of express trains on the coast line in the eastern and southern divisions, talk glibly of Australia as a very fine country with some fertile borders, but with a great desert in the interior. It is that sort of impression we desire to remove, not only in Great Britain, but in the world generably, before we can present Australia as a desirable place of residence. When we glance at what Australia has been, and see the waste lands which have been converted into fer.tile regions, we have ground for hope that, if our case is properly pleaded, we may soon see a steady inflow of immigration. I was pleased to hear the remark that the best men for this position are in Parliament, and let us hope that there are many ; but it is most certainly necessary to properly finance the person selected, if he is to be prevented from dabbling in business o.i his own account. Who will have the temerity to say that there will not be sufficient work to keep the High Commissioner occupied, if he is to represent the country, and that he must be allowed to act as director of companies, and so forth ? Clause 7 provides that the High Commissioner shall not, “except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister,” act as director or agent, or hold any office in any company or syndicate, whether within or without the Commonwealth. Why should the words I have quoted be permitted to remain? It ought to be understood that the High Commissioner shall devote his whole time to his official duties, representing the interests of Australia as a whole.
– Surely the honorable member would not prevent the High Commissioner acting as director of the National Postal Bank?
– That is another matter ; as director of that bank the High Commissioner would be acting on behalf of the Commonwealth.
– The High Commissioner would be prevented from acting in that capacity but for the provision to which the honorable member objects.
– I would not allow the High Commissioner to act as director of any private company, even with the consent of the Minister.
– Why should the Minister have that discretion ?
– If the High Commissioner is to be permitted to act as a director of companies, it would be better to give the Minister that discretion; but I would rather have it definitely provided that the holder of the office shall not act in any such capacity. Another clause indicates that the States may withdraw their Agents-General and allow the High Commissioner to act for them, and with that I entirely agree, because the Agents-General must come into conflict in fighting for their individual States. For the reason that I do not approve of the High Commissioner undertaking private work in connexion with companies.. I advocate the payment of a substantial salary in keeping with the position, though I cannot understand honorable members picturing such an official as an extravagant entertainer. I should prefer to see in the position a capable, business man, who will make the interests of the Commonwealth his first study, and have a due appreciation of the importance of his office. If the work of the office be properly performed, there will not be much time for entertaining, though, of course, the High Commissioner must attend functions, and casually entertain ih such a way as to help the administration. We know that a salary of £5,000 or £10,000, or even £20,000, would be of little or no use if lavish entertaining were made a part of the duties of this officer. The honorable member for Fawkner interjected during the debate that he thought the Labour party were against paying any man more than £500 per year. Such an idea has never entered my mind.
– That used frequently to be said in the salad days of the Labour party, which began in 1890, when the honorable member was in knickerbockers.
– I am very pleased that the honorable member has such a fund of information in regard to the Labour party. My view is that if a man is worth the money, and earns it, he should be paid well ; but, in deciding what one man shall get as compared with another, I desire to see the great gulf between some men and others- bridged. It is unfair that lavish salaries should be paid to men who do not give sufficient work in return, while others are made to work for a pittance which is not a living wage. In this case it is paltry for any person to object to the payment of an adequate salary. That is essential. When a man gives up all his other business and devotes the whole of his time to the work of Australia, which I want to see this officer do, he should get a decent salary, but if he is to be allowed to act as a company promoter I shall take a different attitude on the question. In such a case he would spend too much of his time in providing funds for himself. With regard to the general qualifications of the High Commissioner, the one great thing which we want to see in our representative, apart from business capacity and a readiness to carry out the details of the work imposed on him, is a strong, sound Australian sentiment, and a determination to stand up for Australia against any encroachments whatsoever. I. want to see appointed a man who, while being thoroughlyloyal to the British Empire, will always be ready to speak twice for Australia, and to fight our battles, no matter whom he has to meet. I should be sorry to cast any vote in this Chamber for the appointment to the position of High Commissioner of a man who is not strongly imbued with Australian sentiment. I do not wish to see sent across the seas to take this position any gentleman who will assume a halting attitude in regard to Australian rights or possibilities. Immigration naturally flashes into one’s mind as a great work for our High Commissioner. Time and again Australia has been slandered, even by her politicians, and rumours have reached the Old Country much to our detriment. This officer will be able to meet and refute any slanders which may be circulated in the future, and also to give directions to intending immigrants of the proper class as to where they will best succeed in Australia. The immigration policy in the past has been to send men to the particular State represented by the Agent-General to whom the application was made. To-day, while labour may be a glut on the market in Tasmania there may be a great demand for it in the Northern Territory. There is a great need for settlers there, and in Queensland and New South Wales there is a big demand for the right class of men, and we shall welcome them ; but the agent representing Western Australia or Tasmania is hardly likely to trouble about immigrants for Queensland or South Australia. I look forward to a new and revivified policy of immigration to follow on the appointment of a High Commissioner. I think it will so spur the matter on that all doubts as to the peopling of this great Commonwealth will be set at rest. Although our representative may start with restricted obligations, on account of the existence of State Agents-General, and because certain work has not been completed by this Parliament, it must be patent to every one that as time rolls on his duties will expand. The consolidation of the State debts, and the assumption by the Commonwealth of the responsibility of financing and repaying them, will undoubtedly add greatly to his work. That consideration inclines one to select a man who, while possessed, perhaps, even of commercial experience, will be able to fight well the battle of finance for Australia. Of course, one cannot say how soon the State debts will be taken over.
– Never, if this Premiers’ contract goes through.
– We must hope that this Parliament will see the necessity of bringing about a proper financial arrangement, and that, when we have in
London a High Commissioner representing the Commonwealth, we shall not hesitate to bring about Federal control of the State debts. I wish to urge upon the Government the necessity of laying it down clearly and distinctly in this measure that the High Commissioner must confine himself absolutely to the work for which he is appointed, and have no right to undertake company promoting or work of that kind. I would! further urge the House, in regard to the selection, to stand solidly for the appointment of a man who is a good Australian and a staunch champion of the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I should like to congratulate the Government upon having resolved at last to carry some of these Bills through to completion. I am very much1 in sympathy with some of the complaints which have been made of the arrangement of an enormous number of measures on the noticepaper in such a way that we never knew exactly what the business of the day is going to be. Now that we are beginning to carry some of these measures through, I shall feel in some way compensated for the extra attendance which I have put in in this Parliament in order to give the Fusion as strong a support as I could. The honorable member for New England, who has just spoken, has a very peculiar sense of proportion when he supposes that the appointment of a High Commissioner will attract the attention,’ “ not only of the English people, but of the people of the world.” I am afraid he has a rather exaggerated conception of the position which Australia occupies in the eyes of the people of England and of Europe. The appointment of a High Commissioner, whether at £3,000 or £5,000 a year, will never be heard of outside of London. As to its attracting attention in Europe, the honorable member forgets the wonderful galaxy of ambassadors in England from every country in the world, among whom a High Commissioner” from Australia will be just as inconspicuous as if he were an Under-Secretary. This Bill is a purely utilitarian one, and we have to look for’ the value for our money, not in the honour, or glory, or glamour, which will gather round the High Commissioner, but in the use, in the strict sense of the word, which he is going to be to the Australian people. In the course of his remarks the honorable member for New England intimated that he is of opinion that honorable members on this side of the House merely desire the introduction of the Bill, and are not anxious that a High Commissioner should be appointed. I invite him to name a single honorable- member upon this side of the chamber who has used words which justify such a conclusion.
– I think that honorable members opposite are extremely anxious that the High Commissioner should be appointed.
– I am very glad to note that there is a difference of opinion in the Caucus party. For ten years the members of the late Opposition have been urging the appointment of a High Commissioner, and more than once I have declared that the action of successive Governments in bringing forward . this Bill reminded me of the holding of a bunch of carrots before the head of a well-known animal. It seemed to me that they were hanging out the appointment of a High Commissioner as one of the prizes which were to be had in the -future, with a view to inducing honorable members to accord them support. I am glad that this leg of mutton on the greasy pole is now going to be taken down, and that some.body who meets with the approval of the Government is to receive this particular prize. The main proposition involved in the Bill is one upon which there can be no difference of opinion. The Constitution under which this Parliament was created, and by virtue of which we are here as representatives of the people, gives a plain direction that a High Commissioner shall be appointed. I am quite sure that the framers of our Constitution contemplated that that high officer woul’d have been appointed years ago, because, from the very day upon which the first Commonwealth Parliament met, there have been occasions on which he could have rendered great service to Australia in London by correcting many of the false statements which have been made in regard to the Commonwealth and its legislation. We have had no such representative there, and from time to time we have had to trust this championing work to the Agents-General’ of the different States, some of whom have rendered good service to the Commonwealth; especially the Agent-General for New South Wales. More recently we have had to trust to Captain Collins.’ who has creditably represented the Commonwealth. There can be no doubt that if we had had a High Commissioner in London from 1901 till now Australia would have been saved a great many of the misrepresentations from which she has suffered in the interim. Not only does the Constitution direct that a High Commissioner shall be appointed, but it is an absolute necessity that we should have such an officer in London. Looking at the matter merely from its commercial side it must be recollected that we transact a great deal of business in that city. The whole of the supplies required in connexion with our great postal and telegraphic services Have to be purchased there, and those purchases aggregate hundreds of thousands of pounds. If the business connected with the purchase of all these necessaries were supervised by a person in high authority the chances are that we should save his salary in a very short time. The diplomatic part of his duties is equally important. During our advocacy of Federation, many years ago, we used to talk of the time when Australia would speak with one voice. Up to the present, however, although Federation has been in existence for ten years, Australia has never spoken with one voice. It has spoken with six and sometimes more than six voices, because we know that a number of newspaper correspondents are accustomed to send Home from time to time apparently authorative statements setting out what are Australian aspirations and what is Australian public opinion. There is no duly authorized official in London to take up the cudgels on behal f of the Government, and to say definitely what is Australian public opinion, as it is represented by majority government in the Commonwealth. The diplomatic functions of an official of this kind will undoubtedly be very important. We know perfectly well that in connexion with measures the Royal assent to which is hesitatingly given, we require a man of great influence and considerable ability to interview Ministers of State from time to time and to arrange the difficulties which may arise between me Commonwealth and the Imperial Government. It is not likely that Ministers in England will permit the same influence to be exercised by a subordinate officer that they would permit in the case of a plenipotentiary such as the High Commissioner, because he would represent the Australian people as a whole. Then, in regard to loans, we are, I hope, on the eve of some great transaction. From the moment that transaction takes place it will be necessary to have some person in London who, if he be not possessed of high financial knowledge himself, will be able, by reason of his influence with bodies like the directors of the Bank of England and other great institutions, to command the financial knowledge of other people in order that he may arrange, from time to time, for the conversion of Australian loans.
– And for. their renewal, too.
– Yes. At the present time it would be impossible for the Commonwealth to do any thing concerning the finances on a large scale, except through the less influential medium of an AgentGeneral - less influential in that he would not directly represent the Commonwealth, and consequently would not exercise the influence that would be wielded by the High Commissioner.
– Can we get a competent man for £3,000 a vear ?
– I shall deal with that aspect of the question . in a moment. For some years past we have had reason to complain that, whereas Australia has been obtaining a comparatively sparse supply of immigrants, Canada has been receiving hundreds of thousands of them. At the same time, I think that the magnitude of the Canadian immigration has been somewhat exaggerated. We all know that owing to the proximity of Canada to Great Britain, it has become a practice for thousands of men to pass from the latter country to the former, merely for the harvesting season, and at its conclusion to return to England to pursue their ordinary avocations, just as the shearers of Australia pass through different States to inland districts and, on the completion of their work, return to their homes. The immigrants who have gone to Canada for the purpose of taking part in the harvesting operations, number many thousands, and probably they have been included in the immigration returns of that country. This possibly accounts in part for the startling disparity between the number of immigrants which Canada is alleged to have received as against the number that has been received bv Australia. The High ‘Commissioner will discharge very important functions in supervising that work. If he embarks upon an immigration scheme in a truly enterprising spirit, he will establish agencies all over England - agencies which will not circulate exaggerated statements for the purpose of hoodwinking people, and of inducing them, by means of false pretences, to come to Australia, but which will tell them plain facts in regard to the land which will be at their disposal, and the work which will be open to them on their arrival here. All these agencies will require careful management and administration. Expenditure will have to be incurred by all these branches, and we shall require a man of unquestionable probity to supervise that expenditure, and to bring his commercial knowledge to bear upon the disbursement of money in advertising our resources, and in seeing that Commonwealth money is profitably spent. All these duties in themselves will require no mean order of man. They require considerable versatility. We cannot doubt that we may, on behalf of Australia, have missed a splendid opportunity in losing the property which was offered to the Commonwealth for the purpose of London offices some time ago. I joined with others in rejecting that offer, and I did so for the reason that I was exceedingly sceptical as to the bona fides of the whole transaction: I could not help feeling that if we had had a High Commissioner in England at the time, and if he had been the sort of man to win the complete confidence of the Parliament and the people of Australia, we should have had no hesitation in leaving to him the negotiations in regard to that great building. I also felt that it would have been a great mistake at that time for us to plunge into the purchase of a site for London offices until we had had ample opportunities of ascertaining the best part of London for that purpose. . My idea is that the High Commissioner, whoever he may happen to be, will have to live some months, and perhaps some years, in England, before he makes up his mind as to the best and most convenient part of London in which to establish the Commonwealth offices. It by no means follows that the building in the Strand which has been erected at the instance of the last Victorian Premier is in the best situation. It by no means follows that the site offered to the honorable member far Hume, or to the Prime Minister, on their last visit to London, was. in the best situation. No one, after so short a visit, no one with so little experience of the requirements of the High Commissioner in London, could possibly say what the best site would be. But after many, months of residence, the High Commissioner will be in a position to tell us; and if by that time the High Commissioner’s office, and the offices of the Agents-General, can be brought together in one building, so that the public will know it as the Australian building in London, it will be all the better for the States, and for the Commonwealth also. It is supposed, by some honorable members, that the appointment of the High Commissioner should be a signal to the States to do away with their AgentsGeneral. I do not share that feeling.
– It is so assumed in this Bill.
– It is a wholly unauthorized assumption. I hold that we have no more right to tell the States how they should manage their business than they have to tell us how we should manage ours.
– They have been telling us that pretty plainly lately.
– The honorable member will admit that, after all, this Federation is not the creation of the Commonwealth Parliament. We do well to remember that. We are very apt to talk in this House as if this Parliament had created the States in the spirit of , “ Let there be light, and there was light ! “ As a fact, the States created us.
– No; the people cre3. ted us.
– The States are the people. I am not talking of any abstract entities when I speak of the States. I am talking of the people of the States. In that sense, I say that the States created us.. What did they do? The people met together through their representatives, and resolved that there were certain legislative and administrative functions which it was desirable, on account of their being performed in common in all the States, should be relegated to a separate Federal Parliament. They, therefore, agreed to give up certain of their legislative and administrative powers, in order that this Parliament might be brought into existence. We have no right now to turn round to the States and assume towards them a patronizing attitude.
– The Imperial Parliament created the Commonwealth.
– I am not talking law to the honorable member. I am talking practical legislation. The patronizing attitude of some people towards the States ought not to be encouraged. We have no right to dictate to the States, and to say that they shall do away with their Agents-General because we are going to create a High Commissioner. I consider that there is no necessary connexion between the two things. Do honorable members forget that the States possess about £150,000,000 worth of railways, and that a very large part of the rolling-stock and the permanent way material for those railways has to be bought in England?
– If the honorable member had said what he is now saying to the people of New South Wales before the Federal Constitution was adopted, they would never have agreed to it.
– I did say it. I am in the habit of telling the whole truth to the. people whom I address. I attribute some of my, electioneering success to that fact. It may not be palatable to the public sometimes to have the truth told to them ; but I have always pursued that policy, and they have respected me for doing it. The States are perfectly within their rights in having Agents- General in London. Do honorable members know exactly what the Agents-General do, and what they receive? Do they know, for instance, that the AgentGeneral for Tasmania is paid only £400 a year? We talk of these people as if they were great diplomatic or ambassadorial personages, enjoying salaries of many thousands of pounds. The work which has to be done in London for the State of New South Wales is so great that, quite apart from the Agent-General, an engineer is paid £1,200 a year simply to superintend the purchase of iron work for railways and bridges. We have to recollect that the offices of the Agents-General in London are big nerve centres, with which we have no business, over which we have no control, of whose work probably we have very” little idea. Apart from the purchase of rolling-stock and similar material, the States have their loans to negotiate, and the business in connexion with the payment of interest to transact. We are not in a position, and we are not going to be in a position, to deprive the States of their right to raise loans on their own account. We can no more deprive the States of their right to borrow for their own purposes than the States themselves can take away the rights of municipalities to borrow for their works.
– The States do restrict the borrowing powers of municipalities bylegislation.
– No doubt the municipalities have to get permission to barrow, but still they are allowed to borrow, and the States help them to do so. I am trying to meet the idea that the Commonwealth is going to manage everything for the whole of Australia. The States will hesitate to give up the right to negotiate their own loans. We may take over their debts - either those incurred up to the beginning of Federation or up to the present time - but they will never give up their right to negotiate fresh loans, and therefore they will require their AgentsGeneral, apart from our High Commissioner, to .manage their loans, which will be negotiated either through the Bank of England, or some other financial institution. Then there are the purchases which have to be made in connexion with the Works Departments of the States.
– Would the honorable member add another great Borrowing power to those already in existence?
– I would not take any away. I am talking of the things we can do, and not of what we might wish to do, but cannot do. We cannot take away the rights of the States, or of the municipalities, to borrow. It is a Aery good thing that we cannot, because I do not think that this Parliament has displayed such profound and superhuman wisdom as to give us any right to claim that we could do better for other Australian authorities than they can do for themselves. I hope that the House will remember, therefore, that the idea that by appointing a High Commissioner we are going to do away with the AgentsGeneral of the various States is a mistake. Honorable members have heard that the salaries paid to these men are very small. They know something of their work, and they know that the Agents-General for New Zealand, New South Wales in particular, and I think I may add Western Australia, have been of great service to the Commonwealth as well as to the States they represent. I should like now to say a word about the terms of the appointment. I quite approve of the five years’ term included in the Bill. I have no hesitation itf saving that if we made the appointment at the pleasure of the Government, we should not find one of the seventy-four members of this House who would accept the position. The only way in which we can secure the services of the ablest type of man that I hope the Government will look for is by giving him an assurance that he will be able to con tinue in the office for a reasonable term. I should say that in fixing the term at five years, we shall probably limit the tenure of the position to that period. I have no doubt that in the whirligig of politics this office of High Commissioner will appear to have so much of halo, glamour, or glory about it that Prime Ministers in the future will be very anxious to. take the position as a sort of coping stone to their political careers. Therefore, I should say that any honorable member who receives the appointment may well count upon the five years for which it will’ be secured to him under this Bill as the limit of the period during which he will be allowed to hold the position. I am satisfied that if a term of less than five years were provided Im no person competent to properly fill the position would accept it. On the subject of the remuneration, I am entirely in accord with those who say that the salary should be higher than that fixed in the Bill. I have always felt that what is intended to be covered by the allowance of £2,000 mentioned in the Bill should have been an establishment provided by the Commonwealth. I have always felt that the Commonwealth, with the advice of the High Commissioner, should purchase a house, which should be known as the Commonwealth1 High Commissioner’s Residence, which should be furnished and equipped in every way with a suitable staff of servants, .the necessary carriage and horses, or motor, at the expense of the Commonwealth, as a permanent establishment. Instead of allowing £2.000 to be spent at the discretion of the High Commissioner, I should have preferred to see an official residence of the Commonwealth High Commissioner established in London.
– The allowance of £2,000 would be useless for any purpose beyond that.
– I do not think that any High Commissioner would be justified in spending any of the proposed allowance on anything of a personal character. I think that what I have suggested would have been the better course to have followed. If the Government think differently, the matter is one of administration with which I have no concern. I think that a salary of £5,000 a year, in addition to the £2.000, for this position would be little enough.
– It would not be enough.
– It is not intended that the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth shall compete in any way with the High Commissioner of Canada. Lord Strathcona is reckoned among the millionaires. He is one of the great CanadianPacific railway kings, and has unlimited wealth, and it is therefore absurd to assume that the Commonwealth High Commissioner should compete in any way with men of his type. But I do say that for a man of recognised ability and versatility, as the High Commissioner should be, a salary of £3,000 a year is rather paltry. Many general managers of banks in Australia receive £3,500 a year, and honorable members are aware that the general manager of a wellknown Australian insurance company receives that salary. Men coming here representing well-known financial investors receive a salary of from £7,000 to £10,000 a year, and we know that in America men in the employ of the Steel Companies receive as much as £150,000 a year for services rendered as servants of those companies.
– They are experts.
– I admit that they are men with brains. It is men with special brains who always command big salaries. Members of the parliamentary Bar in England have made incomes of from £20,000 to £50,000 a year because they were possessed of special brains. It is the same in every walk of life. Railway Commissioners receive in Australia over £3,000 a year because they are men with special brains. There is a great difference between a man working for £3 a week in a workshop at the same thing from the beginning to the end of his life, and a man receiving £20,000 a year because he is possessed of special brains, and can give valuable advice in the management of a business. When we know that men who possess no very remarkable qualifications, and with no obligation to maintain any special social position, are receiving from £3,000 to £3) 500 a year in Australia, it must be admitted that £3,000 a year is a paltrysalary for a High Commissioner in London. Let honorable members consider what the High Commissioner will have to do. He must maintain his wife, and possibly daughters, up to the level of his position. He must attend a hundred and one functions from one end of the year to the other. He and his family will be supposed to live in a manner befitting their high position. They will be supposed to visit country houses to which they will be invited by statesmen and others who might be of use to the Commonwealth. The High Commissioner will be expected to take part in almost every State function. He will be expected to entertain. I suppose that every Premier, and every Minister who goes from Australia to London, will call upon the High Commissioner and will expect to be entertained. I can easily imagine that at the residence of the High Commissioner there will be an endless round of reciprocal functions to meet Australians.
– He would not live for the five years.
– No doubt, amongst the other qualifications for the office, the gentleman appointed High Commissioner will require to have a good digestion. I tremble for the digestion and the nerves of the gentleman who accepts this post. I fancy that during his occupancy of the office he will often wish himself back in the quiet and comparative irresponsibility of a legislator here, because he will be involved in many delicate diplomatic situations which will try the best man, if he is going to properly represent Australia amongst the statesmen and ambassadors in England.
– If he does not give dinners people will write letters to the Australian press.
– I am not talking of dinners in the sense of mere enjoyment, but in the sense of social events. I am pointing out that in that high position the High Commissioner will be expected to return much of the hospitality which is offered to him and his wife in London. It would be a beggarly thing for us to send a man to London at a salary of £3,000, which persons there would be able to saywas less than that which they gave to bank managers in Australia for their” work.
– We must make the salary £10,000 a vear.
– -“No. 1 am quite sure that the High Commissioner can easily save money to the Commonwealth in many ways. He can save us many misunderstandings. He can save us from being misrepresented by newspaper correspondents, as we have been repeatedly. He can save us a considerable amount in connexion with loans. He can save us money in conducting negotiations for the Commonwealth. Have honorable members thought that if we embark upon a very elaborate scheme of naval construction, our High Commissioner, through whom the contributions of Australia will have to pass, will have a very great work laid out for him in supervising the charges and payments?
– The objection is that the salary is too small.
– I am very glad to see that there are one or two men here with royal ideas. They happen to be the wealthy men of the House, who speak as if they would fling money about. I am not inclined to think that the people of Australia would consent to any extravagant payment to the High Commissioner, but I believe that they would regard a salary of £5,000, with an allowance of £2,000, as moderate enough to maintain the establishment of the Commonwealth in London. I intend to vote for that salary. A number of honorable members on the other side have made the demand upon the Government that they should put into the Bill the name of the person whom they intend to appoint.
– If the Government did that, they ought to go out.
– I quite agree with the honorable member that if the Government did that sort of thing, they would not be fit for their position. There is a distinction between legislation and administration, which every man ought, sooner or later, to instil into his mind, so that he may not mistake the one for the other. To attempt to dictate how the Government shall exercise the administrative power which is placed in their hands is to make an offensive suggestion to them, and to endeavour to create a precedent which would be a very dangerous one in our history. The Prime Minister would not I am sure entertain the idea. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill, subject to an amendment to increase the salary of the High Commissioner to £5,000 a year. The honorable member for New England spoke of the qualification in the Bill in regard to the offices which the High Commissioner may hold as a dangerous one, and seemed to see in it a possibility that the Government may permit him to go on to innumerable boards, and so supplement his income. I do not think that any honorable member need be anxious on that score. In England there may be many positions attached to organizations which it could not be other than beneficial to the Commonwealth for the High ‘Commissioner to fill, and it may be necessary for the High Commissioner to hold some office, probably without any pay, in connexion with some of those organizations or institutions, in order that he may be of the greatest possible service to the Commonwealth. The Government want the power to make exceptions, and if a Government were to make an exception in such a way as to impress the House with the idea that the High Commissioner was making more money than he was intended to receive, and thereby taking time out of those hours which he was supposed to give to the Commonwealth, the House could at once resent their action, either by a motion, or in some other way. Probably I should be the first to join any honorable member in resenting any attempt to authorize the High Commissioner to act on bank or insurance boards, which would take his attention away from the primary purpose of the office which he held in England.
.-I listened very attentively to the honorable member for Parkes in supporting this measure. I admit at once that if any arguments were needed why we should not appoint a High Commissioner at this stage, they have been furnished by him. He has told us that we must not look forward to the transfer of the duties of the State Agents-General to the High Commissioner. Nearly every speaker has suggested that that would be one of the results of his appointment. Notwithstanding the very able way in which the honorable member for Parkes has defined the duties and obligations of the High Commissioner, I maintain that at this stage there is no justification for paying even the salary which is stated in the Bill, if he is not also to perform the work of the State Agents- General. We are looking upon the matter perhaps from a national standpoint, but in my opinion the Bill is altogether premature. It has been said that the Government intend to come to an arrangement with the State Governments in regard to the State debts, and that the Commonwealth will take over some obligations which are not now indicated on the notice-paper. In that case, does it not seem reasonable to expect that we should be taken into the confidence of the Government before we are asked to agree to’ the appointment of a High Commissioner? Does it not seem reasonable to ask that the Government, before they enter upon the proposed expenditure, should at least make some arrangement with the States as to the work which they are prepared to transfer to the High Commissioner, so that we may know what duties are likely to devolve upon him, and the probable cost of his department.
– What duties would the honorable member suggest could be transferred ?
– I hold in my hand a report which was furnished at the instance of the Prime Minister by the AgentsGeneral, who, I think, the honorable member will admit know something about the duties which would have to be performed by the representative of the Commonwealth, or by the representatives of the Commonwealth and the States. In their report, the Agents-General say-
The High Commissioner for the Commonwealth, if all the duties of the State officers were transferred to him, would be the ordinary channel for negotiating new and paying off old loans and placing Treasury bills; he would be charged also with the duty of managing the financial business of the States in London, paying claims upon them, and receiving moneys on their account. He would also be the ordinary channel of communication between the Federal Government and the Colonial Office, direct communications by the State Governments would probably be discontinued except in exceptional circumstances in matters relating to the Governors of the State. The High Commissioner would manage the commercial agency, instruct the inspecting engineer, obtain and organize immigrants, defend the Commonwealth, and support its interests in the public press, advertise its resources, advise investors proposing to place their capital in Australia, perform the duties usually carried out by Consuls placed abroad, watch the interests of Australia in connexion with treaties enteredinto by Great Britain with foreign countries, and, in addition, perform such social duties as would naturally fall to a high official.
The performance of those duties would make the High Commissionership a very important and responsible office.
– It would be impossible for one man to perform them all.
– The Agents-General continue -
The possibility of refusal of transfer of functions by the States must, therefore, be kept in mind ; and there remains to be considered what would be the position of the High Commissioner’s office if such transfers were not made. Shorn of the State business, the High Commissioner’s office, though one of great dignity, would not be important from a business point of view. He would, of course, be the channel through which diplomatic communications would be made to the Colonial office, but the cable has so greatly simplified the business of negotiations, that diplomatic work in London has lost much of its importance. He would voice the opinion of the Commonwealth Go vernment in the public press, and would probably be given the work of advertising the Commonwealth as a whole. In regard to immigration, his influence would be limited to the extent of the co-operation of the States, but in the matter of commercial agencies, he would have fair scope, especially if the States did not maintain their own separate agencies, and he would supervise the orders placed in Europe for material such as warlike stores, telegraphic material, &c, required by the Commonwealth Departments, and in addition, he would have the social duties which naturally attach themselves to the accredited representative of the Commonwealth.
We are proposing to build a house before the plans and specifications have been drawn. We do not know what duties will devolve upon the High Commissioner or what arrangements will be made with the States ; and any step that we take without this information must be a step in the dark. The Agents-General estimated the cost of the High Commissioner’s office as follows : -
When everything is taken into account, the cost to the Commonwealth will be £90,601.
– The last items are not a proper charge in this connexion.
– Does not the honorable member think that the States should pay the Commonwealth for the work it does for them?
– The Government, in negotiating with the Stares as to the future financial relations between them and the Commonwealth, should use the present opportunity to make proper arrangements re- garding matters of this kind, and to obtain^ a clear understanding regarding the transfer of obligations from the States to the Commonwealth. The Bill should not be passed until we know what obligations we are to be asked to accept on behalf of the States, and can estimate, with some measure of accuracy, what the duties of the High Commissioner will be.
– Does not the honorable member think that we shall need a High Commissioner in connexion with Commonwealth loans, even if we do not deal with those of the States?
– We have the opinion of experts in which more confidence can be placed than in any that I might form on the subject. The honorable member for North Sydney has said that the latter’ addition to the estimated expenditure drawn up by the Agents-General is not properly an expenditure under that heading. Leaving that aside, and taking only the official and administrative expenditure which would be involved by the appointment of a High Commissioner to attend to the work of the Commonwealth and of the States, we find that it would amount to £38,750 per annum. That estimate does not include the salary and allowance for which provision will be made under this Bill. The estimated expenditure per. annum in connexion with the inscription of stock and payment of interest on the Australian loans, in London, in 1905, was £51,851. The AgentsGeneral meeting in Conference in 1905 estimated .what would be the cost of the High Commissioner’s Office if the States refused to transfer functions now performed by them. They reported -
Tt is difficult to determine with much precision, the- probable cost of a High Commissioner’s office established on the lesser scale, as there can be no certainty of its actual duties, but if the business indicated in the preceding paragraph be assigned ‘to the High Commissioner the following would be the approximate cost of his establishment : -
I believe that .the Minister, in moving the second reading of this Bill, suggested that the cost of the .office would be about £36,000 per annum.
– It is impossible to form an estimate, but I said that the expenditure would depend on the work that was taken over from the States.
– We are asked to appoint a High Commissioner, whose duties we cannot determine, whose responsibilities we cannot measure, and whose office expenditure consequently we cannot calculate. What kind of legislation is this? The honorable member for Parkes talked of a bunch of carrots that he had seen hanging over the nose of a common quadruped, and of a leg of mutton suspended’ from a greasy pole. The bunch of carrots remains where he saw it, and during the next three or four weeks men will be climbing the greasy pole to reach the leg of mutton. Who will take only the grease, and who will secure the leg of mutton, I cannot say ; but since the Government have nothing tangible to put before the House in support of their proposal to appoint a High Commissioner, it seems to me that this is merely an effort on their part either to rid themselves of a disaffected follower, or to placate a’ prospective enemy. No one would charge the Government with attempting to do anything for which they could not give good reasons; but inasmuch as they have increased the number of Honorary Ministers in order to placate some supporters whom they could not otherwise pacify, is it unreasonable to assume that they are urging on the passing of this Bill at the present stage, because they desire to get rid of some one whom they do not want in their camp, or wish to placate an immediate supporter who is not satisfied with his lot on the Ministerial side of the House? We have heard a good deal of the representation of Canada in England, and I would point out that the Canadian High Commissioner’s Office there costs ,£200,000 per annum. The report of the AgentsGeneral is mv authority, and, according to . that document, . in the Canadian case, . the expenditure, including commercial, agencies and immigration, is about £200,000 a year. We are told, that one of the great functions of our High Commissioner will be to inaugurate an immigration policy which will result in a flood of immigration during the first year or two of his office. The report goes on to say that ,£19 1,600 of the £200.000 was spent on immigration, and £8,400 on the High Commissioner’s office per annum. The report of the AgentsGeneral goes on to say -
The Dominion of Canada does not transact business in London at all comparable with that of the Australian States. In a commercial and financial sense what Great Britain is to Australia, the United States are to Canada, and the fact that the two countries are adjacent renders the direct representation of Canada in the United States unnecessary. The High Commissioner of Canada in England has little concern with the issue of loans or the payment of interest, nor is the purchase of stores and material any considerable part of his duty. The High Commissioner for the Commonwealth, if all the duties of the State officers were transferred to him- will perform certain duties. That is how the difference in the cost is explained - it is simply because our relations with the country are more patriotic, and immigration and other business is regarded as part and parcel of the Empire’s work. The Government absolutely ask us to pass this Bill blindfolded. I should say that it is the duty of the Minister in charge of a measure to guide the House with regard to the obligations that are to be shouldered ; but, as in the case of the Budget, we are asked to adopt a measure in the dark, regardless of the changed conditions caused by the caucus meeting of State Premiers. The Government are simply playing blind man’s. buff, and holding the main issue up their sleeve. The honorable member for Parkes said that we could not take away from the States their right to be represented in London as they chose; and that I admit.
– But the public will demand that the expenditure be cut down.
– That may be so, but it is not altogether a certainty in the light of the experience of Canada. One would have imagined that when a High Commissioner was appointed for Canada the public would, as a matter of political evolution, have demanded a curtailment of expenses in connexion with the representation of the various States. But ‘Canada has had a High Commissioner for the fairly experimental period of twenty-five years, and the provincial representation remains. This does not hold out any great hope for us. Clause 5 of the Bill provides -
Subject to the provisions of the last preceding section, the High Commissioner, for the purpose of more _ economically and effectively advancing the material interests and welfare of every part of Australia, shall also, at the request of the Governments of the several States, perform for the States functions and duties ^similar to those hereinbefore described and similar to those now discharged by the AgentsGeneral of the States, and shall perform the same without discrimination or preference, or to the advantage or disadvantage of any State as regards another State.
What kind of piecemeal administration are we going to have? One State may appeal to the High Commissioner to undertake certain functions which it may deem expedient to transfer to him. Another State may feel that the Commonwealth officer doing that work would prejudicially affect its welfare, or the welfare of the States generally. This indecisive and absolutely unwarrantable provision will make confusion worse confounded through the absence of a definite description of the duties that the High Commissioner will be bound to perform. I know that this matter is of no importance to the Prime Minister or to the Minister in charge of the Bill. They have made up their minds, they have the numbers, and no argument has any effect upon them. They are fixing up the business for to-morrow, when they ought to be considering the business of today. That is characteristic of Governments which, having a docile majority behind them, rely on brute force instead of on the intelligence that should guide’ an assembly of this character.
– Order ! I am sorry to again have to draw honorable members’ attention to the fact that it is distinctly against the Standing Orders for honorable members to conduct conversations. in such a way as to disturb the honorable member who is addressing the House. T ask honorable members not to offend again, or I shall be compelled to take other steps.
– I was endeavouring to convince the Minister in charge of the Bill that it would be well to withdraw it until we had dealt with the financial Tela-‘ tions of the Commonwealth and the States -until Parliament knew what position it was to be placed in, when the mysterious agreement, arrived at in a most mysterious way, is submitted for the people’s representatives at least to look at, if not to discuss. It is unfair, in fact it is an insult, to the House to ask it to pass a Bill of this kind with an absolute lack of important information which should be available to us on demand from the Minister, but which he evidently will not attempt to give us. No Government should adopt a stand-and-deliver attitude, or tell the House that it must pass a measure because they have fathered it, and refuse to consider the arguments advanced by honorable members, who are equally entitled with Ministers to be heard. When the Government talk about the High Commissioner performing “ for the States functions and duties similar to those hereinbefore described,” they are practically doing what they have been doing ever since they came into office - handing over the duties and obligations of the Commonwealth to the States, and subordinating the powers of the National Parliament to the State Parliaments. They are going cap in hand to the State Premiers, asking: “What shall we do? How much will you let us have? Do you think you can afford to let us have an opportunity to take over this part of, the duties which have hitherto been performed by you ? Will you let us take over some of the State responsibilities? Will you let us reduce your expenditure by taking over some of your obligations? If so, kindly say so.” It has been so with regard to the State debts, and it is so with regard to this and every other” measure upon which a National Government should stand firm in its independence as representing a sovereign people. They should demand what it is their duty to demand, not as State frighters, or State righters, but as Federalists, elected to this Parliament to guard the Federal Constitution, and to see that it is not dragged into the mire at the behest of a number of necessitous State Premiers to whom they may toady from time to time, in order to” get support to keep them in power. I have heard some members on this side speak with their tongue in their cheek with regard to this measure, indicating that they had already committed themselves on the question to some extent when occupying seats on the Ministerial side of the Chamber. Whether I am on that side with the Labour Government or on this side in Opposition, I shall not forfeit my right to demand a clear exposition of the responsibilities which any Government ask me to father by my vote. I am not influenced by what may have been said by men on this side. They have not realized that in this measure we are being led into a trap by the Government, or that we are being placed in the dark by the lack of information which the Minister is unable, or unwilling, to supply. They will be neglecting their duty to this Chamber, and to the people who sent them here, if they do not stand firm and demand a reply by the Minister, and some amendment in the Bill. My objection is wholly to the indefiniteness of clause 5, which is as cloudy as it is possible to be. We cannot get from it any idea of what functions the States are going to transfer to the Commonwealth. The Minister says the expenditure will be governed by what the States will let us take over. The Commonwealth should not be placed in that position. There should be no subordination of our powers to the States, and no Minister worth his salt would stoop to insert in any Bill a provision of that character. They had the opportunity, a few weeks ago, and it is still open to them, not only to inform the States what the Commonwealth wants, but to force the States to come to an amicable, definite, and clear arrangement with regard to all matters which involve State and Federal administration, and State and Federal finance.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I am dealing with the question of whether the States are to transfer their duties to the Commonwealth under clause 5. Does not that involve the question of finance?
– I would point out to the honorable member-
– Chair ! Why does not the honorable member resume his seat ?
– I would “ Chair “ the honorable member in the ear if he were outside.
– The honorable member for Gwydir must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it; but it is one of those things which arise from constant interjections.
– I draw the attention of the honorable member to the fact that clause 5, which he relies upon, does not deal with the question of whether the State debts should be taken over - a question which he was proceeding to discuss. It provides only that under certain conditions the High Commissioner shall do certain work. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the Bill.
– I only introduced that matter incidentally, in order to try to instil into the Government some regard for the rights of the House. I mentioned, in passing, that the Government had the power to demand from the States how much or how little of their duties should be taken over under this Bill. If the Minister knows what the obligations of the
High Commissioner are likely to be, he should give the information to the House. I have never previously witnessed the system of hide-and-seek which has been introduced into politics by the Government. The honorable member for Parkes was very entertaining when he suggested that we might well leave to the determination of the Minister the outside offices which the High Commissioner shall be permitted to hold. I say emphatically that the safest course for us to follow is to’ refuse to leave any such matter to the discretion of a Minister. The position of High Commissioner is too important to permit of its occupant holding other offices.
– Ought we to refrain from appointing a High Commissioner until the States give us the desired permission ?
– If we continue to follow the course which we have been pursuing the time is not far distant when we shall not lae able to discuss any matter in Parliament without the consent of the States. The honorable member for Parkes appears to think that it is highly undesirable that Parliament should forbid the High Commissioner to hold any outside positions. Need I remind him that all Ministers cannot be acquitted of having brought powerful influence to bear whenever their private or semi-private interests were at stake? When we are engaged in enacting laws our aim should be to prevent a man departing from the path of rectitude at the behest of another. What is the position today in reference to our Judiciary ? In order to inspire the public with confidence in the administration of justice the law clearly forbids the members of our Judiciary to enter into relations which may prejudice the judgments which they may be called upon to deliver from time to time. The same principle should apply equally to our High Commissioner. That being so, I object to the provision in the Bill which would permit him to discharge functions which may prejudice the integrity of his administration. The honorable member for Parkes has declared that if “the High Commissioner did anything of a doubtful character Australia would soon learn of it, and we should then be able to dismiss him from his office- Such a statement is absolutely absurd. It is highly improbable, for example, that Australia would ever learn that the name of the High Commissioner had been attached to any proposition by company promoters as a mere decoy. We all know that in years past State politicians frequently received so many shares in bogus companies for permitting their names to appear on prospectuses for the purpose of bolstering up those companies. The same old Adam is alive to-day in the financial world. Seeing that the name of the High Commissioner may be used to delude a number of people to enter unsound concerns, we should, if we permitted that kind of thing to occur, be raising up a curse which we should ever after regret. If 1 had my way, there would be no half-hearted oppositionto this Bill. I would not allow it to pass until the agreement between the State Premiers and the Commonwealth was laid before Parliament. The two matters are interlinked. They cannot be separated. If Parliament does not agree to the financial arrangement, the whole face of the Bill now under consideration will be changed. Until we have made some arrangement to take over the. State debts, the duties of the High Commissioner will be practically reduced to zero. In the main, he will be merely an ornamental officer.
– What about immigration?
– Immigration is a parrot cry with the honorable member for Fawkner. It is the beau ideal of his political existence. But I remind him that the best way of inducing immigrants to come to Australia is to let them know through their friends who are already here that this is a country where they can live and prosper, where they can better their position, and obtain land for themselves. We do not want an expensive High Commissioner to induce immigrants to come here. The best advertisement for Australia will be the recommendation of men who are already here, and who send to their relatives, telling them : “We are doing well in this country, where there is land which we can cultivate, and you can come out and do the same.” If men who are already here could write to their relatives in England in .that strain, we should not need the honorable member for Fawkner to cry out for immigration, in the interests of his fellow employers of labour. I do not under-estimate the importance of the duties which the High Commissioner will have to perform with respect to immigration, but T sar 1 that no High Commissioner should be called upon to induce immigrants to come here unless there is a fair probability that when they arrive they will be able to find employment, without depriving others of their work. In my judgment, any Government that attempts to force on an immigration policy will commit suicide, and will do more injury than good to Australia. We shall, however, have more time to discuss that question later on. I think I may now ask the Government to allow me to resume my remarks to-morrow.
– Another nine hours’ speech ?
– If I could only induce the honorable member for Indi to look at such questions from a sensible standpoint, I would speak for ten hours ; but if I spoke till the end of time, he would still remain the same. There is no possible chance of piercing that canister of his with a reasonable thought. His interjection reminds me of his marvellous speech on this subject. I thought that whenhe commenced to address the House on this Bill, he had at last found a topic upon which he would be able to give us some enlightenment. The honorable member said : “ Are you really going to appoint a High Commissioner before you abolish the State Agents-General ? I understood, when Federation was in the wind, that we were going to abolish all these duplicated offices, such as the Agents-General, the Governors, and all the rest of them.” Then the honorable member wound up by stating that he intended to support the Government, and to vote for a Bill under which a High Commissioner would be appointed. The honorable member commenced to talk about five different aspects of this question, but he never finished a single point; and after he had, in his own way, given a number of reasons for not appointing the High Commissioner, he wound up by announcing his determination to support the Government and the Bill. Every time he commenced, it could be seen that the honorable member was opposed to the Bill, but he realized that if he went much further in that way, the whip would be cracked, and he would have to swallow his principles in obedience to his party. That is the type of man-
– Order. The honorable member must not make that statement.
– What statement?
– That an honorable member would swallow his principles for his party.
– I did not make that statement.
– The honorable member is now doing something which he knows he ought not to do. I ask him to withdraw the statement.
– I cannot withdraw what I did not utter. I did not say that the honorable member could swallow his principles.
– If the honorable member did not say so, I have made a mistake. I accept his assurance that he did not use the words which I have attributed to him. I ask him to refrain from discussing other honorable members, and to confine himself to the Bill.
– I supposeI am permitted to discuss speeches made by other honorable members in this debate. I take it that when the honorable member for Indi has made a speech, however valueless it may be, I am entitled to offer a few observations upon it in a deliberative assembly of this character. However, the honorable member is not worth while getting into trouble over. I ask the Minister to agree to an adjournment of the debate.
– No; not at this stage.
– I suggest that the debate might be allowed to stand over until to-morrow. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to push the Bill through before the House is asked to deal with the agreement arrived at at the Premiers’ Conference.
– We should like the House to pass the second reading of the Bill to-night.
– Of an important Bill of this character?
– Yes; why not?
– All I can say is that when the honorable member for Parramatta stood where I now stand, he would have considered that a preposterous proposition. He knows that I am only paying him a tribute of praise when I make that remark.
– I ask the honorable member to address himself to the second reading of the Bill.
– I say with regard to the matter of the adjournment of the debate
– Order ; the honorable member cannot now speak on the adjournment of the debate.
– I am not speaking on the adjournment of the debate. I was going to say that as I could not secure an adjournment of the debate, I intend to proceed with the discussion of the second reading.
– Will the honorable member be long?
– It just depends upon the attitude of the Government.
– Then the honorable member is not discussing the merits of the Bill?
– I do not look for light or leading from the Minister of External Affairs, who, as Attorney-General, has so often misled this Chamber by his opinions.
– The honorable member will take his seat. He has now said something offensive of another honorable member.
– The honorable member’s remarks were offensive also.
– The honorable member for Gwydir, as an old member of this House must know that he should not interrupt the Chair. He has just said something which I regard as offensive. He has accused the Minister of External Affairs of misleading the House as Attorney - General. I ask him to withdraw that statement.
– I will withdraw the statement, but I ask you, sir, to ask the Minister of External Affairs to withdraw his impertinent observation that I have not been discussing the merits of the Bill.
– I did not hear the Minister say so.
– That was the statement that brought about my retort.
– The honorable member is out of order in addressing the Chair while seated. As the honorable member complains that the Minister has said something which he regards as offensive, I ask the Minister to withdraw the statement.
– I withdraw the remark if it is regarded as offensive. I was not aware that I had said anything offensive.
– We have here a measure for the appointment of a High Commissioner of the Commonwealth in London, but we have been given no information as to who is to be the High Commissioner. It would be very interestingto know who is to fill this position.I think the House ought to know who is to be charged with its responsibilities. There are some honorable members who think that the appointment should be left to the Go vernment. I am one of those who would not leave anything to the present Government if I could help it. After the experience we have had of them, I would not leave anything to be settled by the members of the Fusion Government if I could possibly avoid it. What can be the objection to making this appointment fairly and above-board? What is the objection to include in the Bill the name of the man who is to he appointed to this position, whether he’ be a member of this House or not?
– We must create the position first.
– We could do that, and still include the name in the Bill.
– Would not that be a proper matter for consideration in Committee ?
– Possibly it would. I am only saying that, before we finally pass this measure, the House should be informed of the name of the person who is to fill this important position.
– I think the honorable member said that before.
– I shall say it again if I think it; necessary.
– The honorable member will keep on saving it.
– Will the honorable member take his seat? I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that one or two unfortunate expressions have been used to-night, but under the provocation of continued interruption. I ask honorable members to refrain from interrupting in any way the honorable member who is addressing the Chair.
– I say that we ought to know the name of the person who is to receive this appointment. I agree with a proposal which was made some years ago, to the effect that the man to fill this position should be selected by both Houses of the Parliament sitting together.
– That can be tested in Committee.
– I can discuss the matter on the second reading of the Bill, I think, if I know anything about the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member for Bourke is out of order in interjecting.
-The Government seem to be so anxious to pass the measure, that they cannot tolerate a reasonable discussion of its main features. Everything will depend upon the man who is appointed to the position. Some persons may not think that it will make much difference who is selected, but I think that it will make; a very great difference to the administration of the Department. He will be called upon to advise the Commonwealth with regard to all matters affecting commerce, which will include the fiscal and general commercial policies of the countries with which we trade. I, as a Protectionist, hold that it is highly desirable that the High Commissioner should represent practically the will of the Australian people, as indicated at the polls. To my mind, it is important to a Parliament which has already decided upon a certain fiscal policy to govern its commerce with other nations, that it should consider the characteristics of the man to be appointed High Commissioner, either as exemplified to us by his conduct in this House, or elsewhere. I think that it would be wrong to appoint to the position a lifelong Free Trader - a man who had practically nailed his colours to the mast of Free Trade all his life - to represent a Protectionist community as indicated at the general election, by a large majority. It would be prejudicial to the interests of the community to have in this great position a gentleman who could not be relied upon to act in consonance with their expressed will. On the other hand, it is said that we need for the position a gentleman who will be able to entertain socially, who will be a kind of social gold bug competing with a number of plenipotentiaries residing in the great centre of the Empire. In my opinion, we do not need a person of that description. What we require is a man of hard practical, common sense, with some experience of the affairs of the world - not a man who has had experience in one phase of politics, but one who in his career has shown that he can apply himself to the varying conditions that obtain from time to time in a nation’s history. I readily admit that it is not easy to find such a person. I have no objection to an appointment being made, provided that the Government indicate to me the type of man whom they require to fill the position. If they cannot indicate the nature of his duties and responsibilities, then we cannot judge what type of man is required to do that which is not specified. Therein lies the whole secret of the position of the Government with regard to the Bill. I do not know whether the Ministry are prepared to deny it or not ; but it is inferred that one of their number is likely to be chosen. On the other hand, it is inferred that a certain member of the House who is not too happy in his present position, would be happier somewhere else, and that the Government would be still happier if he were elsewhere. It is suggested that a gentleman of that type is likely to be the successful candidate. I hope that it will not be a political selection. I trust that the high character of the position will warrant the Government in departing, for once at any rate, from the habit they have got into of placating supporters with the little pickings which fall to the lot of an Administration. But, be the gentleman to be selected who he may, his work should, in my judgment, include the whole of the functions which are now performed by the State Agents-General. The High Commissioner cannot discharge his duties to Australia as we expect them to be done unless he has full control in conducting necessary negotiations. No member of this House should tolerate or countenance the passing of this Bill on the assumption that the States will graciously condescend to hand over some of their obligations to the High Commissioner. He should be intrusted with all the functions of the State Agents-General. The Commonwealth should take over the whole of the State debts, and the management of those debts would be an important duty of the High Commissioner. If that step is taken, his duties will increase in importance far beyond what is indicated by the Bill. Is it not important to us to know tha.t the gentleman who is to be appointed is qualified to deal with gigantic financial proposals, such as would be involved in conducting the affairs of the States, as well as of the Commonwealth ? Is it reasonable or unreasonable for me to demand that I should be told the type of man required to fill the office before i give my assent to the Bill? If he is to be paid, as the State Agents-General suggest, £2,000 per year, and his Department is to cost, as they estimate, £4,600 per year, then we can pick practically anywhere in the House - with a few exceptions, of course - a gentleman who will be able to discharge the limited duties and responsibilities of the office. But if the Commonwealth is to take over the obligations of the States, we shall need quite a different type of man. We shall require the ablest man we can find in Australia.
– Is the honorable member likely to be long?
– I am ready to sit down if the Minister will consent to an adjournment.
– There is nothing that cannot be discussed in Committee. It is a fair thing to ask for the second reading of the Bill to-night.
– There have been as many speeches on the Government side as on this side.
– The Bill provides that the salary of the High Commissioner shall be £3,000 per annum, payable monthly out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It will be necessary to take a yearly vote to cover the salary and the expenses of the office, so that Parliament will have some check on the administration, and an opportunity to insist on the correction of abuses, should any occur. I am of opinion that it is not wise to vote £2,000 a year for the upkeep of an official residence. What right have we to tell the Commissioner that he must maintain an official residence, and incur heavy expense in entertaining Australian globetrotters who may call on him when in the vicinity ?
– At this early hour of the evening there should be a better attendance. [Quorum formed].
Motion (by Mr. Crouch) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– I suppose the Prime Minister is keeping away to save his skin.
– There can be no debate on the motion.
– The Prime Minister should be here.
– I ask the House to show that respect to the Chair which is its due. The faults of the Prime Minister should not be visited on me.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
I should like to say-
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short Title).
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
.- Mr. Chairman, I desire to say-
– The honorable member cannot speak at this stage.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the House will, tomorrow, again resolve itself into Committee.
– The honorable member is bringing something before me which Happened in Committee. I may point out that I have no knowledge of what happens in Committee, except what is included in the report of the Committee; and, therefore, I am unable to deal with the matter the honorable member desires to bring before me.
– It is to you, Mr. Speaker, to whom we refer all our troubles. I could not refer anything to the Chairman, because he was no sooner in the chair than he was out of it again ; that is no exaggeration, but a fact. We have every right to see that the Standing Orders are not used to make the proceedings of the House a farce.
– The honorable member must take his seat ; that matter is not before the House.
.- The question before the House, I presume, is that the Committee have leave to sit again to-morrow. .1 should like to know from the Minister in charge of the Bill whether he has the authority of the Prime Minister to say that the Government will be able to go on with the Bill to-morrow. To-day, when the House assembled, we had the spectacle of the Government changing the order of business on the notice-paper. In the Parliament, where the father of the honorable member for Darling Downs represented a constituency for a number of years, that was not allowed to be done, on the ground that the notice-paper is an indication of the business the Government desire to go on with. We allowed the Government to change the order of business to-day, and the reward has been the determination by the Government majority to stifle debate. I have not had an opportunity of uttering a word on the measure. I do not think it would be advisable to assist the Government in misleading the public regarding their anxiety to carry on public business. They are anxious to put this business on the notice-paper for tomorrow, but on Friday, while the honorable member for Melbourne was discussing the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act, the Ministerial Whip called attention to the state of the House. Thus we had the paid officer of the Government counting the House out during a discussion of the grievances of the people whom the Government contend they are .trying to assist. Those are the men that the country has to look. to. We are anxious to go on with the High Commissioner Bill, but I regret that the Prime Minister was not present to lead this movement. Apparently he lacks courage.
– That is not the question before the Chair.
– I am not accustomed to reflect upon honorable members, but the Prime Minister is the only one to whom 1 could look to guide the House.
– The honorable member was proceeding to discuss the attributes of the Prime Minister. I do not see the connexion between that question and the day on which the Committee shall sit again.
– I presume the Prime Minister always knows how the business is to be conducted. He was here to-day, and I suppose it was arranged how- the business was to proceed. It ran like clockwork, and I gather from that that it was all properly arranged before he left. If he is away ill, I regret it ; but if he is away on purpose when I desire to know whether he is ready to go on with this business, it is unfortunate. He ought to be here, and we ought to know exactly how the business is to proceed. The honorable member for Darling Downs was in charge of the Bill, but apparently he had not the courage to deal with it.
– What humbug this is !
– There are a lot of humbugs on that side.
– The honorable member for Bourke must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I also withdraw anything that may seem to reflect on the honour of honorable members, but we are dealing with a matter of the greatest importance - a matter that is not a party question at all. No one contends that it is. The Prime Minister knows that I promised’ him all the aid that I could give him, and 1 gave it to him.
– Why did the honorable member let a member of his party takeup over an hour and a half in talking rubbish ?
– I have listened to the honorable member for Parkes for five hours scathingly denouncing the present Prime Minister and those associated with him. The Government have chosen their own course and their own time. After declining to hear grievances discussed, they now declare that they intend to proceed with this important matter. I shall aid them in proceeding with it as far as possible, but, as regards the general question, of course, their conduct has been discovered by their action to-night.
.- When one tries to perform what he regards as his duty to the electors of the Commonwealth, men on the other side of the House-
– On a point of order-
– The honorable member for Corio.
– I beg to move -
That the question be now put.
– Order ! The question is, “That the question be now put.”
– Can that be moved when a member is on his feet ?
– Has not the Speaker a discretion in the matter?
– He has no discretion. The Standing Orders provide that any member may move the motion at any time.
– While an honorable member is speaking?
– Yes ; that is specially mentioned. I am anxious that honorable members should know that we are proceeding in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– The gag has been moved by a Victorian - an insignificant pup!
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has used an expression which should not be used in this House. I ask him to withdraw it, and apologize to the Chair for not assisting the Chair in the manner in which he ought to assist it.
– I withdraw it, and apologize.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House will, tomorrow, again resolve itself into Committee - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Order of Business - The Closure - Old-age Pensions.
– I beg to move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The Minister ought to beg to move it.
– As far as I know the business to-morrow will consist of a speech from the Prime Minister upon the financial agreement arrived at by the State Premiers. After that the consideration of the High Commissioner Bill will be proceeded with.
.- I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we have had only a tentative indication of what the business is to be to-morrow. That is the state of affairs which we have reached in this national Parliament - that there is not a member of the Government who can tell what business they intend to bring on.
– I have told the House what the business is to be.
– The honorable member told us “as far as he knew.” Such a position is a humiliation to this Parliament. It means that the Government have no idea of what they intend to bring forward. Apparently the members of the Ministry are going round endeavouring to discover how the majority of honorable members feel on particular questions, and whenever they find that they have a majority, they will march accordingly without regard to the interests of the country.
– I must congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his histrionic ability. Unfortunately, however, I have a sufficiently long memory to recollect the occasion, when a previous Opposition tried to obtain from the Government of the day which had the support of honorable members opposite, an indication as to business for the following day. I also have a recollection of the satisfied way in which the present Opposition accepted the vagueness which often resulted from our efforts.
– There was no gag then.
– Honorable members opposite were the originators of the gag.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– Their former Leader, the honorable member for South Sydney, then pressed the gag on the Government, and stated that they would not be worthy of support unless they submitted the standing order which was afterwards adopted.
– Because of the tactics of the Opposition.
– And because of the tactics of the present Opposition, the gag has “come home to roost.” I indicated when I resisted the motion for the gag on that occasion that if it were agreed to, I hoped that it would be put into operation, and that I should support its exercise whenever that course was justifiable. Therefore, honorable members opposite should not give such indications of bad temper when a measure which they kindly provided for expediting the business of this House has been used.
– Would the honorable member vote for the gag if it were proposed now?
– Let the honorable member move it. I shall not object.
– I feel very much inclined.
– The honorable member would be perfectly within his rights. More than that, honorable members opposite have for some weeks past requested that this step should be taken. They have indicated that the Government had power under the Standing Orders to exercise control over debate.
– Who said all this?
– The honorable member’s leaders said it.
– The honorable member cannot state who said so.
– Statements have been reported by the press as coming from the leaders of the honorable member’s party.
– Let the honorable member quote a case.
– Will the honorable member’s leaders deny that they pointed out what the powers under the Standing Orders were, and said that the Government could exercise them? The party opposite assisted to provide these powers ; insisted on their being provided ; and they have lately asked that the powers should be exercised. Why, therefore, should they compla’in?
– The honorable member knows why we complain.
– I rose chiefly to say that, although the Leader of the Opposition has expressed his dissatisfaction with the vagueness of the reply of the Minister of Defence, yet, when equally vague replies were given to a previous Opposition, his party justified them, and continued to support the then Government.
– The honorable member who has just sat down has stated that it was the present Opposition that helped to supply the gag. That is quite true. They helped to supply the gag to be used in case of obstruction. The standing order to which reference is made was passed on account of obstructive tactics. But such tactics cannot be charged against the Opposition in regard to the Bill which has been before the House to-night. We have had only five hours’ debate upon one of the most important measures that we have had under consideration this session - a measure upon which thePrime Minister could not make up his mind for nine years.
– Was one honorable member justified in speaking for an hour and a half on that Bill ?
– The honorable member for Parkes spoke on it for an hour. If a member of this House comes to a conclusion as to the amount of time which he requires to express himself, he should, if he has something to say, be allowed to speak until he has exhausted the subject. If he deliberately obstructs there may be some excuse for imposing the gag, but I defy any honorable member to say that there was anything like obstruction in regard to the Bill to which I have referred. We should have been justified in discussing it for days. But I rose chiefly to call the attention of the Treasurer to the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act.
– The Ministerial party will count the honorable member out on that question.
– I know that the Government Whip does not exhibit that regard for the old people that some of the honorable members sitting behind the Ministry feel. But the Treasurer has said that if we have any bond fide cases we should bring them under his notice. That is what I intend to do. It is of no use to go to the Commissioner, because’ he says that it is his duty to administer the Act as it is being administered.
– The interruptions on account of the loud conversation of honorable members are so troublesome that it is difficult for the honorable member to address the House. I must ask honorable members not to interrupt.
– I have to mention a case of an old man who is far past the old-age pensions age. He will never be able to work again. I doubt if he will live very long. He may die in a few months. He applied for his old-age pension. But he was able to earn something like £50 last year, and it has therefore been held that he is not entitled to the pension.
Surely the Government are not going to allow the Act to be administered in that way. I am sure that there is not an honorable member who woulddesire that if an old person has no income this year, and is entitled to an old-age pension on account of his disabilities, he should be held to be disentitled on account of his earnings last year. My object in rising is to ask the Treasurer to give instructions to the effect, that no matter what the earnings of a person may have been last year, he shall not be disentitled if he is unable to earn anything now. If he earns only £25 this year, though he may have earned £50 last year, he is entitled to an old-age pension; and I hope the Treasurer will see that the Act is administered in that way.
– It was very fitting and necessary that so reputable and respectable a member of the Fusion as the honorable member for North Sydney should be put up to justify the action taken by the Government to-night. Surely there is no other honorable member opposite so ready to do so? The honorable gentleman has been a member of this House for nine years, and he has never seen the gag put into operation before.
– Yes ; twice by honorable members opposite ; on the occasion of the election of the Speaker.
– Never before. The honorable member for North Sydney knows that, when on this side of the House, with the present Minister of Defence it was their usual practice to speak for an interminable length of time, and yet the gag was never imposed.
– Honorable members opposite moved the adjournment of the debate twice.
– Is that what the honorable member calls the gag?
– The honorable member for West Sydney will take his seat. Again, I have to direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that dialogue is not allowed. The honorable member addressing the Chair is entitled to the attention of the House. I ask honorable members to assist me in carrying out what is obviously a very salutary rule, by refraining from interjections.
– I have been a member of the Federal Parliament since its establishment, and I have never yet seen any honorable member stopped in the middle of his speech by a motion of any kind. The discussion of the second reading of the High Commissioner Bill was begun this afternoon at five or ten minutes to 4 o’clock. The honorable member for Gwydir, when interrupted, was speaking at 11 o’clock; allowing for the dinner adjournment of an hour and a quarter, that would be five and three-quarter hours. During that time, six honorable members on the other side spoke. I say that it was an infamous, and inexcusable act, that the gag should be imposed in such circumstances. I venture to say that in the British Parliament, the gag is never resorted to unless there has been a deliberate -and longcontinued effort at obstruction. I say most emphatically, that nothing done by. the Opposition to-day can be construed by any one as obstruction. If the honorable member for Gwydir was not in order in any part of his speech, that has nothing to do with the Opposition, but with the House and with Mr. Speaker. If the honorable member departed from the question, I say, with all deference to you, sir, that it was your duty to keep him to the subject. It was clear that it was not to the remarks of the honorable member that exception was taken, otherwise the motion submitted would have been that he be no further heard. The object was to squelch the debate, and let the electors realize the passionate eagerness with which this Fusion Government set to work on the business of the country. When it is a question of oldage pensions, the Defence policy, or the financial policy, do we find the Government doing anything of that kind? No. Here are all om friends opposite bound by a power, the very nature of which we can hardly realize, and they gag men who have been speaking. The honorable member for Parkes has been reminded that on one occasion he spoke for five hours.
– Yes ; and I talked sense.
– If the honorable member really talked sense for five hours on that occasion it was the only five hours in his whole life during which he contrived to do so.
– The honorable member talked solid abuse of the present Prime Minister.
– I do not doubt that the honorable member contrived to stand on his feet for that length of time. He is a man of fine physique, with a healthy belief in himself, which is no doubt a very proper thing for him to have. I must take his word for it that he talked sense during those five hours, but I never heard him talk what I call sense for so long a period on any occasion. I think it would be a perfectly proper thing to move the gag on any man who spoke for five hours.
– I should have taken it very good-naturedly.
– I did not move it. I always have my remedy. If a man speaks too. long for me I go outside. Honorable members opposite have started- this business. They will find that, like the boomerang, it will recoil upon themselves.
– That is what we told honorable members opposite when they helped to pass the standing order.
– They will have to justify their action to the country; and they will find that impossible, because it will be said that the High Commissioner Bill was discussed for only five hours and three-quarters after it had been on the business-paper for two months, and when no one would look at it. It was suddenly taken out of its place and pushed on a stage to-day. How far is it going to-morrow? Does anybody know? It mayor may not be proceeded with ; nobody knows what will happen to it. I do not wish to say anything more. I think the act of the Government was one which, I will not say they will be ashamed of, but I heartily believe that their followers will be ashamed of it. I venture to say the Government will regret it, the people outside will be indignant at it, and it will serve us admirably in our turn. I have nothing to apologize for. Most emphatically do I say that under no circumstances can this act be excused or justified. It is one without precedent in the history of this Parliament. It is one which in the very nature of the thing defies explanation, and one which, as I have said, the Government will heartily regret before twenty-four hours have passed over their heads.
– I voted in favour of the closure when I was sitting in Opposition.
– The honorable member supported its application after he himself had spoken to-day.
– To-day I voted for the application of the closure. When the Government of the day brought forward their proposals to amend the Standing Orders, and were assisted by the Corner party who now constitute the Opposition, I supported them, although I was a member of the then Opposition, and was one of the offenders. I saw the necessity for instituting this class of control.
– The honorable member did not see the necessity until he had spoken to-day, though.
– I still see the necessity for the rule. I shall always vote in favour of its application when I think that there has been sufficient discussion on a Bill. As regards this occasion we know what tactics have been employed, and the chickens are coming home to roost. At the same time I agree with those who say that sufficient time has not yet been devoted to the Bill.
– That is a crawl down.
– And still the honorable member voted for the application of the closure.
– In this House a system has sprung up of making secondreading speeches in Committee.
– Such speeches cannot be made, if the Chairman does his duty.
– It is a very bad system.
– It is a bad system which has been established. It is not infrequently that we have a full-dress debate in Committee, and if honorable members who have not yet spoken have anything to say, they will have an opportunity to speak then.
– Of getting gagged.
– I do not think that any harm has been done. I hope that the gag will be applied to me or to any other honorable member who makes himself a nuisance to the House. That is one reason why I voted for the adoption of the new Standing Order, and. so far as I am able, I shall insist upon its being applied whenever the privileges of honorable members are being abused ; but so far there has been no harm done, because, in Committee, every honorable member will have an opportunity of speaking at length on the Bill.
.The last speech is rather remarkable from the fact that the honorable member for Robertson admits that the Bill is of sufficient importance to discuss; but having made his own speech he immediately voted to apply the gag in order to prevent others from speaking.
– The honorable . member knows that he will still have an opportunity to speak.
– The honorable member for Robertson knows better than that.
– This is quite an epoch in the history of this Parliament. Tonight we are making history with a vengeance, and we should not part without offering our congratulations to the tool who was used. We generally look upon an informer
– Order. I do not think that that term should be used.
– I am speaking to the point, sir, and, if I am not “in order, it is your place to say so.
– Order. I point out to the honorable member that in the Speaker is vested a certain discretion with regard to warning an honorable member when he is reaching a debatable, or, perhaps, disorderly, statement. That is all that I desired to do, and I put it to the honorable member whether bis object will not be better served by using terms which may not be misconstrued.
– I wish to congratulate the honorable member for Corio upon being the instrument in the hands of the Ministers, who themselves had not the courage to apply the rule.
– And whose leader cleared out.
– There are times when some limit must be put to the time occupied here, but 1 venture to say that when that time does arrive, the action ought to be taken by a responsible Minister. We do not want the honorable member for Corio to be acting as scavenger fur the Government, doing work which they have not the courage to do themselves. Why did they not do this job? Simply because they did not want to have the stigma sticking to them, they used the honorable member to apply the gag. There has never been more justification for further discussion of a Bill than to-night, and yet the gag has been applied. I again congratulate the honorable member for Corio. I hope that he feels proud of his work.
– I do.
– It is indeed a reputation for the honorable member to take to his constituency.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member moved the application of the gag to the discussion on a Bill which may involve a considerable expenditure. Possibly there are some honorable members on the opposite side who are so eager to get the position that they want to know theirfate soon. I remind the honorable member for Corio that it is not hefor whom the position is being created. If he feels proud of his action, then he has very little to be proud of. If it were parliamentary, I would refer to an informer as a man who is looked upon with contempt. Personally I look upon the honorable member with contempt.
– Order. The honorable member must not say that.I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it, sir. I venture to say that there is no member of this House who will feel proud of the work which the honorablemember for Corio has done. Do the occupants of the Treasury bench feel proud of it? Do they feel proud of using this miserable tool ?
– Order. I appeal to the honorable member not to use such expressions, and to withdraw the one which he has just used.
– I apologize, sir. I feel strongly on this matter. It is probable that I am taking too much notice of the honorable member. It is the occupants of the Treasury bench to whom I ought to be applying such terms - men who had not the moral courage to stand up here and propose the application of the gag. However, let Ministers go to their homes and sleep over what they have done. If they think that this is the way in which they are going to proceed with business, they will make a great mistake. As a rule, Ido not occupy much time. I have not occupied much time this session, but if tactics of this kind are resorted to, I shall use every power I have in the House, and I have a number of powers. There are many stages of the Bill.
– The honorable member must not use threats.
– It is not a threat, sir, to say thatI shall use all my constitutional rights in the House.
– It is no threat at all.
– This was an arranged affair, because, half an hour before the gag was applied, I was told that It was going to be used to-night.
– It was fixed up at the caucus to-day.
M r. POYNTON. - The Government will be very sorry for what they have done.
Motion (by Dr. Wilson) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12. 28 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090907_reps_3_51/>.