3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at n a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether he can yet say, as the result of his inquiries, that the Newcastle coal vend is a combination in restraint of trade, and injurious to the public within the meaning of the Australian Industries Preservation Act ; and, if so, whether it is intended to initiate a prosecution against those concerned in the vend ?
– As the inquiries now . being made may result in litigation, I should prefer not to have such a question put to me. I do not think that, under the circumstances, I could answer it.
– I desire to ask the ‘Attorney-General whether his attention has been directed to the following paragraph, which appeared in Thursday evening’s issue of the Herald -
In their innermost thoughts the proprietors cannot regard it as a childish scheme, for last week one of the leading members of their association approached our manager, under manager, and weighman, and told them that if they worked the colliery for the miners they would be blackballed by members of the vend throughout the Newcastle and Maitland districts. But if they resigned, the vend would stick to them, and the result was that the manager resigned after he had delayed the starting of the pit as long as he could. And now the under manager and weighman have also resigned.
Further, I wish to ask the AttorneyGeneral whether there is any Commonwealth law to prevent the New South Wales Government, or the Railway Department of that State, becoming, so to speak, an Australian Kruger, and commandeering the miners’ coal? Can he say what is the difference between such an action, and that of a. general, at the head of an invading army, commandeering all provisions for his commissariat?
– I confess that the intellectual lassitude ensuing upon yesterday’s long sitting renders it difficult for me to answer, off-hand, the honorable member’s question. With his usual ability, he has put rather a poser to me. T prefer not to answer the question at present, as it involves matters with which I cannot now deal ; and also because there may be involved a question of State, rather than of Federal, sphere.
Federal Inspection of Inter-State Produce
– As it may be impossible during the present session to pass an amendment of the Quarantine Act, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government, during the recess, to try to arrange for the Federal inspection of produce passing from State to State, at the earliest possible opportunity ?
– The question, in several aspects, has been before us. We have, at present, no power to act as the honorable member suggests; but the best mode of dealing in future with questions involving an interference with Inter-State trade will be taken into immediate consideration by the Government.
Telephone Lines : New South Wales - Tenders for Copper Wire - Telephone Flat and Toll Rates
– Ora 1st instant, tenders for the supply of a large quantity of copper wire for trunk telephone lines in different parts of New South Wales closed. Will the Postmaster-General in-, form the House what was the result of those tenders, and whether the work of constructing the lines in question is proceeding?
– I recently accepted contracts for the supply of a large quantity of cable, telegraph, and telephone wires, but I do not know that any of those contracts included the tenders referred to by the honorable member. I shall make inquiries, and supply him with full particulars.
– On 25th November last, I asked the Postmaster- General, upon notice, a series of questions relating to flat and toll rates, and to certain other matters connected with the services of his Department. The honorable gentleman then promised to obtain and supply me with the information at a later date. I desire to know whether he has yet obtained it?
– Not yet. It will take a considerable time to compile and prepare it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a paragraph published in the South Australian Advertiser of 19th November last,’ giving portion of the narrativi; of Mr. C. G. Sawyer, one of the passengers on the missing steamer Waratah, who left her at Durban. That narrative contains some startling statements, and I ask the Prime Minister whether, in the course of the inquiries which I understand he has initiated, he will cause this letter to be brought under the notice of the South African authorities with a view of obtaining evidence from the gentleman in question, as well as from other passengers who may have left the steamer with him?
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the speedy way in which certain measures were dealt with yesterday, he will consent to ask the’ House to devote this session ten or fifteen minutes to the consideration of the motion of which I gave notice this morning, in order toshow the womenfolk of England that the women of Australia properly use the franchise. The notice of motion isas follows: -
That, as foreseen by its advocates, its effects have been :
– At the present moment time is almost invaluable.
– I ask for only ten minutes.
– I doubt if it be necessary to devote even two minutes to such a proposition, since I believe there would be no hesitation on the part of honorable members in giving a cheerful assent to the proposition, so far as it testifies to the universal content in Australia with the extension of the suffrage to women.
.- I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The present unsatisfactory position of the Northern Territory Agreement.”
– I would point out to the honorable member that under our Standing Orders it is incompetent for an honorable member to allude, to any measure pending in another place.
– I do not refer to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
– I assume that the honorable member has so prepared his case that it will come strictly within . the terms of his motion. Does he desire to retain the word “agreement” in the written notice that hehas just handed to me ?
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– It has been urged for some time -not only in this House, but throughout the Commonwealth, that it is a menace to Australia to have unoccupied that vast tract of country known as the Northern Territory, which comprises onesixth of the whole of the continent. During the last week we have had before us a measure committing the Commonwealth to a proposal to float a loan of£3,500,000. for the purposes of naval defence, and the argument used to show the urgency of that Bill was that at any moment the enemy might be at our door. I should not have submitted this motion but for something that has occurred in another place. Knowing the feeling of the people of South Australia, I am confident that the agreement drafted by the late Premier of South Australia and the present Prime Minister, if altered as proposed by another place, will be unacceptable to South Australia. It will mean that our northern doorway will be left open, and that the vacant Territory will continue to be a menace to Australia. I take it that the agreement, signed by the Prime Minister and the late Premier of South Australia, Mr. Price, was as solemn, sacred, and bindingas the financial agreement recently entered into with the States ; and it is with reluctance that I have to refer to the votes given by Ministers and Ministerial supporters. It is not necessary for me to refer to the stringent measures resorted to by the Government in order to secure the passing of the Bill relating to the financial agreement, as contrasted with the treatment accorded to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. Notwithstanding all that has been said about the menace which is presented by this huge empty space in the north, and of the great obligation that rests on the Commonwealth, only three Ministers voted in favour of the Bill; and I should be remiss in my duty, as a representative of South Australia, if I allowed this opportunity to pass without impressing on the House the gravity of the position.
– Does the honorable member mind saying whether those Ministers who voted against the taking over of the Territory voted for it before, or were thev consistent?
– Are we to believe that all the talk about the heroism of South Australia in guarding the Northern Territory is so much lip service? What would have been the position had South. Australia chosen to part with this Territory to a chartered company ? The great bulk of some of the most valuable lands would have been bartered away and alienated. Through the Agent-General, Mr. Playford, the South Australian Government received an offer of £10,000,000 from a syndicate for certain concessions, but that offer was refused, because it was accompanied with a condition that the syndicate should be permitted to employ any class of labour they might require. The South Australian Government regarded such a condition as a serious menace to the policy of a White Australia ; and so they continued to carry the burden. For nine years, practically from the first Commonwealth Parliament, no lands have been parted with except on a simple annual permit, the public utterances of responsible men being taken as an earnest of the intention of the Central Government to assume the control of the Territory. Had the South Australian Government been prepared to give a better tenure, they could have parted with thousands of miles of country on remunerative terms ; but this, as I have said, they have always refused to do. Is it conceivable that behind the Ministry in the Senate there are only two men, beyond the representatives of South Australia, who believe that an obligation rests on the Commonwealth? No one has done more than the Minister of External Affairs to further the passage of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, and I believe that the Prime Minister is in. earnest on the question ; but what can we say of the other Ministers?
– What can the honorable member say about them?
– One Minister not only did not vote, but refused to give me a pair, while in the Senate the Government Whip used his influence againstthe agreement, and on the floor of the House was in open opposition to it.
– Order. The honorable member must not refer to those matters.
– Never in my experience did I see the like of what I saw last night, with the Government Whip-
– Whipping against a Government measure !
– Order !
– I regret very much that I am not able to refer to these matters in the strong language that the circumstances demand. Has South Australia been fooled ? If there was such a division of opinion amongst the followers of the Government, the honest course would have been to at once acquaint the South Australian Government with the fact. South. Australia has done everything possible to carry out the White Australia policy ; and they have been led to believe that, not only on one side, but on all sides of both the Commonwealth Houses of Parliament, there was an earnest desire to take over the Territory under the agreement. I candidly confess that the development of one-sixth, of the whole of the Continent is too great a problem for South Australia. If the State has to continue to face the position alone, I see no alternative except for its Government to take the responsibility of allowing a syndicate to undertake the work of development. Does the Commonwealth Government desire to see this Territory parted with on the land-grant system? Is it desired that those developing the Territory shall be untrammelled by any labour conditions ? It is my decided opinion, and one that I should hold whether or not I was a representative of South Australia, that, whether it be done to-day, tomorrow, or twenty years hence, the Commonwealth must eventually take over this Territory; and the question is whether it would not be better to take it over at once, when there are 344,000,000 acres of Crown lands.
– The ‘Commonwealth will always be willing to take over the Territory without the railway condition.
– I have heard that argument before. We hear great tribute paid to South Australia for what it has done for the Northern Territory, but, when it comes to a matter of cash, there is a different tune. One would think that the compensation it is proposed to give to South Australia was for nothing
– It is not a question of bargain and sale.
– I regret to say that it has been made a question of bargain and1 sale, although I was under the impression that we were dealing with a great national issue. We have pledged the Commonwealth to a loan of ^3,500,000, on the plea that the enemy is almost at our door. Does that same plea not apply with equal force to the taking over of the Northern Territory? Is it conceivable that, in the opinion of the Commonwealth Parliament, it is the duty of one State to keep the Northern Territory free from the invader? One branch of the Parliament has admitted the obligations of the Commonwealth, but the other branch has dealt with the matter in a huckstering, bargaining spirit, in which there is no trace of national sentiment. The measure has not yet reached its final stage; and I sincerely hope that still another effort will be made before we go into recess to bring the Northern Territory under the control of the Commonwealth. I assure the House that I have not moved this motion with any intention of wasting time. I have done so because I realize keenly the seriousness of the position, and I again urge the House to do everything in its power to bring about some definite result before the session closes, in order that we may complete one of the grandest national undertakings in which the Commonwealth has vet been engaged.
– The question which has been raised, so far as the Standing Orders permit, by the honorable member “for Grey is of so momentous a character that, despite the hour of the session and the pressure of business, one cannot object to the honorable member’s action in taking this opportunity to express his feelings. I can’ only add that if there be a member in this Chamber more disappointed with the result than 1 am myself,’ he must be extremely disappointed indeed. It is not only a disappointment, but a surprise, for within an hour or two of the division referred to, I was confidently assured, by those who ought to know, that there was a majority - very small, but still a majority - in favour of the agreement. I do not wish to allude to members’ relationships to this measure, except to say that the agreement was framed with the approbation of a previous Government, and, in the circumstances of the formation of this Government, was not included in the platform upon which the Cabinet was based. But honorable members will have seen from what- has occurred in this House that there has been a great disposition on the part of new members of the Government to meet the views of their present colleagues, and uphold the agreement. There are one or two exceptions in the party, but they happened to be of members who had committed themselves previously by speech, by writing, and by argument in the strongest manner against the proposal, before they were associated with this Government or this party. I would have been asking more than could be fairly expected from them that they should absolutely reverse their attitude. But I know of cases in which the antagonism had not been so expressed, but in which, out of a desire to recognise the national sentiment, personal views in the matter wei e put aside both in this House and in the other. I ‘am free to admit that I used whatever personal influence I possess in both Chambers in support of an agreement which I believe to be in the best interests of Australia. I altogether decline to accept the present verdict as in any respect final. I do not regard the agreement as disposed of. I do not regard it as rejected. I am satisfied that some, at least, of those who are at present opposed to it have voted against it on what might be termed minor grounds. Certain conditions in the agreement do not meet with their approbation, and I shall feel it my duty to endeavour to ascertain more clearly –what their views regarding those conditions are. We know that they are limited to the question of railways, and shall, therefore, be able to discover in what particular respect they think the agreement ought to be amended. Last night, after recovering from the first shock of surprise and disappointment, I at once communicated with my colleague in charge of the measure in the other Chamber, in order that no step might be taken that would present any obstacle to this course. When we have ascertained a little more definitely the precise objections to the conditions, we may see whether it be not possible to still take the measure a step further in that Chamber, in such a way as to meet the approval of this Chamber. Even if we cannot obtain a complete settlement this session, we may reach a position from which we can resume negotiations with the Government of South Australia to ascertain how far they would be willing either to meet the objections or dispose of them bv counter suggestions. I” agree with every word uttered by the honorable member for Grey as to the importance to Australia as a whole of the acquisition of this “ disputed Territory.” Nothing that has been done ought to be allowed to operate as a bar, or, unless absolutely unavoidable, even as a hindrance, to that settlement. I do not, even at this time of the session, abandon all hope of a more modified proposal, instead of a rejection, elsewhere. But in any and every event I propose to proceed with the matter without further delay, and, whatever may be the verdict there, to endeavour to arrive at some understanding with the Government of South Australia, if possible, before the programme of this Government is submitted to the country. Thus, if the question be not settled in these Chambers before Parliament rises- - and that would appear to be an almost ‘impossible task at present - we may be able to put forward a proposal which Australia as a whole can deal with, as part of the Ministerial policy- That would mean the re-opening of negotia tions, with a view to the acquisition of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth, in the interests of the whole of its people, early in the next Parliament.
.- I am positively astounded at the Prime Minister’s remarks, which would lead a stranger to believe that an exceptional effort had been put forward by the Ministry to secure the acceptance of the agreement in both Houses. I very much regret that the Prime Minister has to go. It is characteristic of the attitude of the Ministry on most subjects. A Minister, after making certain statements, and often after making an attack, will almost immediately have private or other business to attend to, and seldom, if ever, remain to listen to a reply, or to discuss the subject more fully with members holding opposite views.
– The Prime Minister has public business this morning.
– I want no impertinence from the Government Whip.
– The honorable member was glad of my assistance when the Bill was before this House.
– I shall tell the honorable member presently my estimate of the value df his assistance, if he will keep his impertinence to himself. We have had far loo much of it during this session. If, honorable members have remained quiet about it, it has been out of personal consideration for him, and he ought not to take advantage of their leniency. I regret that the Prime Minister should have been cri lied away.
– On public business.
Colonel Foxton. - And the honorable member speaking knows it ; he has been told so by his leader.
– He admits that the Prime Minister has an engagement; he said so three or four times.
– Order ! Will honorable members be silent and allow the honorable member to proceed?
– I shall be glad to proceed when the Honorary Minister has finished interrupting the proceedings. His attitude in this matter is peculiar, and he, of all Ministers, ought to remain quiet. We were told by the Prime Minister that only an hour before a certain division was taken in another place, he was assured that the acceptance of the agreement was probable. T am justified, as one of the representatives of the State most directly concerned, in asking him. in the name of all that is truthful, who gave him that assurance, particularly when we know that a paid Government official was himself in most active opposition to the Bill, and, more than any other man in either Chamber, was the one who ought to have known precisely what the result of the division was likely to be.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to remember the standing order under which we are governed with regard to this matter, and not to allude to the action of . any member of another place upon a matter which cannot be discussed here at the present time.
– I refrained from naming any particular person, but as you permitted the Prime Minister to say that hewas assured by certainpersons in another place as to what was going on, I presumed that you would permit me to ask who those persons were, and to say that so far as I could judge from the work of certain persons in that place, quite the opposite to the assurance given to the Prime Minister was known then and for some time previously, I shall make no further reference to that matter, since the truth is so painful to some members of the Ministry. The Prime Minister stated that everything was done in this House by the Ministry to secure the acceptance of the agreement. He must be suffering from some indisposition that has prevented him from speaking in his usual manner, for with the notable exception of the Minister of External Affairs, to whom I am grateful, no disposition was shown by any Minister in this House-
– The Attorney-General.
– The Attorney-General was quiet on the subject.
– There was not a phase of the question in which the Attorney-General did not actively assist.
– I am grateful to the Minister of External Affairs, but so far as the general body of the Ministry, the Prime Minister included, were concerned, there was scarcely a hand moved, or a word spoken, by them to secure the passage of the Bill. Their conduct on that occasion was in marked contrast to that on another agreement, for which practically every member of the Ministry was working night and day and on tenter-hooks for fear it might be lost.
– The honorable member is mistaken to this extent - that, although against the Bill, I was asked specially by the Government Whip to vote for it.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Corio would come in at any moment to assist the Government Whip, both of them being in a peculiar position. I was sitting here the whole time, and, so far as I know, little, if anything, was done by the Whip for the Bill.
– Ask the honorable member for Grey about that.
– The whipping, if any, was done by the honorable member for Grey, but for the greater part of the time, in marked contrast to the energy which he displayed in connexion with the other measure to which I have referred, the Government Whip was absent from the chamber - a peculiar thing for him, and therefore the more noticeable. We are informed that certain members of the Ministry and certain Ministerialists refrained from voting for the agreement because they had previously written and spoken against it. If that is to be an argument, I ask why those who wrote and spoke against what is known as the Financial Agreement were not permitted to. vote in accordance with their expressed views. There were honorable members opposite who not only spoke against the agreement before it came under consideration here, but even in this chamber argued emphatically against it. Yet the influence of the Ministry and of the Ministerial Whip were brought so heavily to bear on them that their writings, speeches, and previous votes were ignored, and they votedfor the agreement. We had an indication from the Prime Minister that the previous alleged modification in the agreement we are now considering would have been acceptable to him. , At any rate, there was an intimation to that effect to be read into his speech. But, so far as I understand the attitude of the people of South Australia, there can be no modification of the agreement. They are giving away everything in a true Federal spirit, in the belief that the Territory should be governed and controlled bv the Commonwealth.
– Then why do they not keep their railway, and give us the Territory ?
– The railway is, for all practical purposes, part and parcel of the Territory. It was built only for the purposes of its development, and would not have been contemplated under any other circumstances. The whole expenditure on the railway was entirely in the interests of the Territory, and the railway must go with the Territory in any alteration of control.
– It is absolutely useless for the purpose of developing the Territory.
– When the honorable member says that 300 miles of railway is not of any use for developing the Territory, I cannot understand his mental condition.
– I have had the advice of the best experts.
– We have had a statement - -which looks very much as if it had been influenced - by an alleged expert from one of the other States, but the character of his utterances is such as to take from what he has written.
– I do not speak of the gentleman to whom the honorable member refers. I have had other advice.
– The honorable member should not support his position and contradict my remarks by referring to the opinions of experts to whom it is impossible for me, not knowing who they are, to offer a reply. I know of no modification of the agreement which would be ac- «ceptable to the people of South Australia. They have offered the Territory to the Commonwealth, believing that it should be under Commonwealth control, and I, as representing part of the State, regret very much that the attitude of certain honorable members, and the conduct of the Ministry, apart from the Minister of External Affairs, has been so disappointing, particularly in another branch of the Legislature.
– I do not intend to occupy more than a few minutes, or to deal with the general principles connected with the mo- tion. I compliment the honorable member for Grey upon his intense earnestness in this matter, and for the good taste which he displayed in putting his case before the House. I am bound to say, as a matter of common honesty, that the allegations of insincerity which have been made concerning the Prime Minister are without foundation, and I do not think that want of sincerity will be even suggested so ‘far as the Attorney-General is concerned. I know that from the beginning to the end, both of them, and also the Minister in charge of the Bill, have done splendid work, and their conduct leaves nothing to be desired. At all times they showed earnestness, and a readiness to assist in every way possible.
It is idle to talk about what happened in this Chamber regarding the measure, because, however secured, there was a handsome majority for the acceptance of the Northern Territory. I cannot speak of what occurred in another place. So far as South Australia, one of the contracting parties, is concerned, time is the essence of the contract. It has been stated by several honorable members that development has not continued in the Northern Territory. It has been arrested for the last nine years in order that South Australia might hand over the Territory to the Commonwealth with as few acres alienated as possible. For years past, the South Australian Government has refused to alienate an acre by pastoral lease, the pastoral interests there having been conducted for some years on annual permits. Those who know anything about business must admit that there cannot be satisfactory development under such conditions. During recent years, in all parts of Australia, the pastoral industry has had a fillip such as it never received before in the history of this country, but in the Northern Territory the advantage of that has been lost. Right up to the moment of Federation, South Australia refused even to consider tempting offers for the transfer of the Territory, or of any portion of it, desiring to keep its population white, I hope, almost against hope, that, as the Prime Minister suggested, there is still a possibility of the acceptance of the agreement in these dying hours of the present Parliament, I hope that the expectation of the Prime Minister is not without foundation, and for this reason : Any alternative will drive South Australia - and it is the biggest certainty in the world - into the hands of land-grant syndicates. The attitude of this Parliament to-day, which future Parliaments will bitterly regret, leaves no other policy open to South Australia than the land-grant policy.
– I should like to take the optimistic view which has been expressed by the Prime Minister of the possibility of still acquiring the Territory for the Commonwealth. I agree with him, that, if it were possible under the crcumstances to obtain a modificaion of the agreement which South Australia would accept, it would be worth doing; but my opinion is that that is hopeless. Some honorable members may have thought that the representatives of South Australia, in saying that the terms of the agreement were the only terms which the
State would accept, were merely trying to induce honorable members to vote for it as it stood, but I absolutely believe that the State Parliament will not consent to any modification of the terms. The agreement contains the ultimate terms which they would accept.
Colonel Foxton. - So we always understood.
– If that is so, the Honorary Minister will see that the view of the Prime Minister as to the possibility of now making an alteration which will be acceptable is hopeless.
– I am afraid that no further attempt in this direction will be successful. Without discussing whether the Government is culpable, or whether Ministers have worked their hardest to secure the . acceptance of the agreement, I wish to express my personal appreciation of the way in which the Minister of External Affairs has worked in the matter, and to state that, in my view, the honorable member for Grey was quite justified in saying that the Prime Minister has been sincere in what he has done regarding it. It is extremely unfortunate that, in the Senate, the Government was unable to bring to the support of one of the most important measures that has come before the Parliament, and one to which the Prime Minister was pledged, a single member of its following who is not a South Australian representative. No member of the Fusion party, other than the two Ministers in the Senate, and the representatives of South Australia, voted for the agreement. It is ‘extremely unfortunate, too, that the party now in power should ta.ke such a narrow view of national questions, and that this matter should have. had to be brought forward at this time. I believe that the opportunity for acquiring the Territory has now gone. I hope that it may not prove so, but I am afraid that it is so. Should there be a possibility of securing a change in the vote, I hope, of course, that it will be done.
– The Prime Minister so fittingly voiced my opinions on this subject that I did not intend to speak on the motion. I am disappointed at what has occurred, because I have expressed more than once my feeling that it is absolutely necessary, for national reasons, that Australia should have complete possession of the Northern Terri tory. South Australia has done good work there in the past, but the burden has become too great for her. We have considered the question, not from her standpoint, but from the national stand-point. I rise to speak now, however, because a previous speaker implied, and almost directly stated, that the Attorney-General’s efforts on behalf of the Bill were not very strong.
– The Attorney-General has worked hard for it.
– Of course, the AttorneyGeneral has worked hard.
– I am glad that honorable members express that opinion. My position enables me to know what the AttorneyGeneral has done. At every stage we have received from him most valuable help and assistance. It is characteristic of him to put zeal, industry, and ability into all that he undertakes ; and in connexion with this measure he has done valuable work for South Australia, his modesty enhancing the worth of his undertakings. I rose to emphasize the splendid work which he has done in this matter.
– Hear, hear !
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane- Honorary Minister) [12.0]. - I do not intend to discuss the merits of the Bill, which really form the subject-matter of this motion. I have been told that if there is any honorable member who ought to remain silent on this question, it is myself. I am inclined to think that I have, perhaps, made a mistake in remaining silent as long as I have done. It may be news to the honorable member who made the observation to which I refer that, on the public platforms of Queensland, as well as in this House a.nd through the press, I have ventilated ‘my strong opposition to the conditions of the agreement for the transfer of the Territory. I did so prior to becoming a. member of the present Government, and, by abstaining from voting on the Bill, I have not only earned a considerable measure of adverse criticism at the hands of those who support the Bill, and who claim that I ought to have voted with the rest of my colleagues for it ; but I have been abused in the press of my own State for having gone back upon my previously expressed opinions. The honorable member, who criticised the Prime Minister in no unmeasured terms, and condemned hint for having left the chamber, although he was compelled to do so to attend to public business, had no sooner concluded his diatribe that he too retired, and probably with much less reason.
– He had an engagement.
Colonel FOXTON. - That may be so. The honorable member was apparently inclined to blame me for having refrained from voting with the restof the Government. Let me tell him that I am not built that way. I am not prepared to change my views, or to vote in direct opposition to them, merely because I happen to be in office. The fact that I have accepted a position, humble as it may be, in the Cabinet, will not cause me todepart from my previously expressed opinions. If it is contended by honorable members opposite that on becoming a member of the Government I should have changed my principles, I can only say that my view of political morality is not theirs.
– The honorable gentleman has been a Cabinet Minister before to-day ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I have. Does the honorable member say that, having previously written and spoken against the agreement, as embodied in the Bill, I should have been justified in supporting that measure merely because I had accepted a position in the Cabinet?
– I make no allegations against the honorable member.
– The honorable member would have been justified in voting against the Bill.
Colonel FOXTON.- I agree with the honorable member ; but the honorable member for Boothby, who has been a member of a Ministry, knows that it is sometimes difficult for a Minister to vote against his colleagues on a Government measure. In abstaining from voting, I went as far as the opponents of the Bill could expect me to go. I would again remind those supporting the Bill that in doing so I earned considerable adverse criticism on the part of the public press of Queensland, the allegation being that in refraining from voting I abandoned my principles, and I am glad to have had this opportunity to break a silence which I think I have maintained toolong.
.- It seems like old times to hear the Honorary Minister endeavouring to explain away an awkward position in . which he finds himself. The honorable gentleman is one of the strongest opponents of the Northern Territory agreement of whom I know. Some time ago he contributed to the press a series of able articles, in which he objected, not so much to the taking over of the Territory, as to the terms on which it was proposed to take it over. He now puts before us a new code of Cabinet ethics, declaring that the fact that he is a member of the Government will not bind him to support any Government proposal contrary to views that he has previously expressed.
– It is indefensible conduct.
– Quite so. If he differs from his colleagues with regard to certain provisions of the Defence Bill, will he take independent action? I make bold to say that neither this norany other Government could be unanimous on any one subject.
Colonel Foxton. - Does the honorable member hold that I should have voted for the Bill ?
– No. I say that the honorable gentleman ought to have had the courage to vote against it. He says that, by abstaining from voting, he went as far as he could to enable the Bill to be carried. That is really the position he takes up.
Colonel Foxton. - I said nothing of the kind. I rise to a point of order, and submit, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member is not correctly interpreting what I said.
– That is not a point of order.
– I do not wish to misrepresent the honorable gentleman. He stated distinctly that he went as far as he could possibly go by remaining outside the chamber when the division was taken. That means that the honorable gentleman desired to favour the Government proposal.
Colonel Foxton. - No.
– If the honorable member did not desire to do so, then he should have voted against the Bill. To save his position as a member of the Government, he stopped outside, and he says that he thus did as much as he could to assist the Government to carry the Bill.
Colonel Foxton. - I deny that I said anything of the kind.
– The honorable member did not use those words, but that was the only conclusion that could be drawn from his statement.
Colonel Foxton. - Why did the honorable member say that I made such a statement? As Chairman of Committees he ought to know better.
– The honorable member did not use the exact words that I attributed to him, but no interpretation could be placed upon his statement save that which I have given. Had the result of the division depended on one vote, what would have been the consequence of the honorable member’s action in refusing to vote? As it happened, his absence from the division was immaterial, because there was a large majority in favour of the Bill ; but had the voting been close, the honorable member, by his absence, might have been responsible for the passing of the measure. I regret very much that he took the course that he did. In the circumstances, he ought to have voted with the Government.
Colonel Foxton. - I know those are the honorable member’s political ethics.
– Or he should have left it.
– Quite so. When an honorable member feels that he cannot possibly support a proposal made by a Government of which he is a member, he ought to retire from it. The honorable gentleman seems to have laid down a rather peculiar course of procedure for Cabinet Ministers. As a matter of fact, I, like the Honorary Minister, am opposed to the conditions of the agreement. The articles which he wrote on the subject were certainly excellent. In them he had nothing to say with regard to the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth; he objected merely to the conditions sought to be imposed. That is exactly my position. The only other point to which I desire to refer is the apparent insincerity of the Government with regard to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. On their invitation we devoted to its discussion several weeks which might well have been made available for the consideration of other important legislation, and it would appear that whilst the Government were pretending to be anxious to carry the measure, they availed themselves of every opportunity to bring about its defeat. A member of the Government in this House abstained from voting for the Bill, whilst the Government Whip in another place did all that he could to bring about its defeat. It is extraordinary to find a Government pretending that it is necessary that a Bill should1 be carried, whilst their Whip in another place does all in his power to secure its- rejection.
.- I do not wish to discuss the action taken by the Honorary Minister in regard to the Bill, save to say that many precedents may “ be quoted in support of his action in refraining from voting; although I do” not know of any case where a Minister has voted, as suggested by the honorable member for Kennedy, in opposition to the rest of his colleagues ora a Government question. I regret the stand-and-deliver attitude that has been adopted by representatives of South Australia in reference to this matter. The honorable member for Boothby has told us that if we do not accept the agreement we shall obtain no other; and that no modification of it will be allowed by the Government of South Australia. The honorable member for Wakefield also put a pistol to our heads, declaring that if we do not take the agreement as submitted to this House a land-grant railway will be run through the Territory.
– That is so.
– I do not think that either honorable member is correct in his statement. The report of the debate in the South Australian Parliament shows that the Minister for the Northern! Territory, in introducing a measure relating to the transfer, said that there was a possibility that the railway clauses of the agreement might have to be amended.
– The honorable member is now proceeding to discuss the Bill itself. I ask him not to do that.
– So far as the position of the Northern Territory is concerned. I do not think that the votes taken here and in another place will prejudice this question to any great extent, and I am glad to think that negotiations may be reopened. Those who support the measure ought to give those of a different opinion credit for an equal interest with themselves in the welfare of this great Commonwealth. The House is, I think, practically unanimous in the opinion that the Territory should be taken over on reasonable terms, because at present it is certainly a menace to Australia. The argument as to a possible invasion does not, I confess, appeal to me, because I cannot conceive that an invader would land in that part of Australia. On the other hand, however, as I have said, there is always danger in leaving a vast territory of this kind unoccupied, and we all agree that, given, a fair agreement, the Territory ought to be taken over.
There is really very little at issue between those who support and those who oppose the agreement.
– Only a railway !
– It is not even a railway, but only the particular route that a railwav should take. The question of the immediate construction of the line is also one that ought to be decided. In spite of the pessimistic view put forward by the representatives of South Australia, I hope that during the recess the Prime Minister may be able to obtain such an amendment of the agreement as will make it acceptable to all parties, and thus, at an early date, solve this very serious questionin the interests of the Commonwealth.
.- I do not rise to discuss the taking over ot the Territory, or even to offer an opinion on the differences between honorable members in regard to the agreement. I had proposed to express my views on the action of the Government, but since hearing the Prime Minister, and learning that there Is yet a chance of negotiations in order to keep faith with the representatives and Government of South Australia, I shall not prejudge the position. I shall wait to see whether there is any reliance to be placed on the promise made, and, if it should prove that there is not, I shall express my opinion in no uncertain way.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide has made some reference to my attitude on this question.
– I did not refer to the honorable member.
– The Government Whip asked me specially to vote for the Bill, although he knew I was ready to vote against the second reading, and was really disappointed that I had not that opportunity. To my knowledge, and also to the knowledge of the honorable member for Wakefield, the Prime Minister did everything he could to induce honorable members to accept the Bill, and but for his personal influence and the influence of the Government Whip, the Bill would not have achieved the success it did ; indeed, I feel certain that if the division had been taken at an earlier stage of the session it would have met with a different fate. A good deal of the chagrin and venom exhibited by the honorable member for Adelaide is due to his knowledge that he has done less than any other of the South Australian representatives to further the passage of the Bill, though I believe the honorable member did vote for it, and to that extent his constituents are to be congratulated. I desire now to refer to the indefensible attitude, from a constitutional point of view, of the honorable member for Brisbane. He is a member of the Government, but he has told us that he is going to keep to his own opinions, and that if the Cabinet disagree with him he has a right to vote against his colleagues.
Colonel Foxton. - I did not say that ; I confined myself strictly to this particular question.
– I have, of course, to accept the honorable member’s statement; but I certainly understood him to say that his being a member of the Ministry did not compel him to yield up his opinions’ on questions on which he held very strong opinions, and that he had not voted simply because he was against the measure. There is no doubt what the constitutional position is as shown in Hearn’s The Government of England, Todd, or May. At page 215 of Hearn’s work is the following -
It is a consequence of this corporate character of the Ministry that the opinion of the majority should bind the minority. The Ministry is one body, and can have but one voice. On questions with which the Ministry, as such, does not undertake to deal, unanimity is needless. But on every Ministerial question, on every matter relating to the Executive Government, and on every Bill which the Government considers important for the business of administration, all members of the Government must act as one man.
Colonel Foxton. - Can thehonorable member find anything there which implies that it is necessary for a member of a Ministry to vole on every question?
– This agreement was signed by the Prime . Minister as head of the Ministry, and the honorable member should either have voted in support of it, or have refused to stay in the Government. The extract from The Government of England continues -
At the present time the principle is well established, and is constantly observed in practice. When a difference exists upon any subject of Ministerial policy between any Minister and his colleagues, if no compromise can be effected, and if the dissentient Minister wish to avoid the responsibility of the course sanctioned by the majority of the Cabinet, he must resign.
Colonel Foxton. - Then the honorable member says that I ought to have resigned ?
– I do not think that the honorable member will resign, although it is the constitutional course. He cannot escape Ministerial responsibility by abstaining from voting. As a member of the Ministry he is responsible for the Ministry’s corporate acts, and one of its corporate acts was to bring this measure before the House, and use every effort to have it passed.
– This Ministry did not make the agreement.
Colonel Foxton. - That is so.
– I point out to the honorable member for Corio that the adjournment of the House was moved for a special purpose, and I think the honorable member is getting away from that purpose, as indicated in the motion of the honorable member for Grey.
– May I ask what is the special purpose of the motion of adjournment?
– It is to consider the position of the Northern Territory.
– It is very important to the House and to the country that the Ministry should support ‘their own. Bills; and an attack has been made on the Prime Minister, and the Ministry generally, for not sufficiently supporting this measure in another place.
– I ask the honorable member not to continue that line of discussion.
– Am I not in order in referring to the remark of the Honorary Minister that it was a previous Ministry who entered into this agreement? How-‘ ever, I really rose to point out that the Prime Minister, and all the other Ministers, except the honorable member for Brisbane, did their best to further the passage of this Bill.
– Another place having, quite within its rights, dealt with this Bill, it would be well, I think, if the Government could give an intimation to the South Australian Ministry that the feeling of this Parliament is against including the railway proposal within the Northern Territory agreement. Two or three months ago, the Bill had no chance whatever of being passed with this railway clause in it.
– I point out that the Bill and its details must not be discussed now. The question is the position of the Northern Territory
– The position of the Northern Territory is that this Parliament has no objection to take it over without the railway conditions. I believe that, in the first instance, the Government of
South Australia did not seek to have the railway included; but it has been included now ; and we are threatened by honorable members from South Australia-
– The proposal would; never have been brought before the South. Australian Parliament without the railway !
– What is happening? The Commonwealth Government is to be the milch cow for all the Ministries of the different States; the moment they have a non-paying concern they endeavour to put it on the Commonwealth.
– This is playing it lowdown !
– It is not “ playing it low down,” but represents exactly what is happening.
– The Commonwealth, fs not asked to shoulder any expenditure that South Australia is not bearing at the present time.
– The fact is, we are asked to take over a railway, the losson which is about ^100,000 a year. The honorable member for Adelaide does not speak like a member of the Commonwealth. Parliament, but like the representative of a State trying to gain an advantage over the rest of Australia, in a bargain which is not in the interests of the country as a whole. That is the objection taken by alarge section of the members’ of this House,, and by a majority of the members of another place.
– The honorable member had an objection to the financial agreement,, but he voted for it.
– I voted against it in Committee. I said, in this Chamber, that I would make a fair fight for tileamendment in Committee, but that if I were defeated I would not block the Bill on the third reading, on the technical point of the necessity for a statutory majority.
– The honorable member voted for the financial agreement.
– I played the game as fairly as it could be played.
– The honorable member voted against it when his opposition was immaterial, but at the critical time he voted’ for it.
– I voted against it at the critical time, and that was when it was in Committee. The Northern Territory agreement, was carried in this Houseonly by log-rolling.
– Order ! The honorable member must not make that statement.
– Well, it was carried only by very strong canvassing.
– What is log-rolling?
– It is another way of canvassing.
– Getting a bit of timber, and pushing it along.
– There was a mighty lot of pushing over the Northern Territory agreement.
– Was there none over the financial agreement?
– Yes, there was plenty on that also. I trust the Government will advise the South Australian Ministry as to the views of this Parliament.I believe Parliament is unprepared to take over the railway in connexion with the scheme. Some honorable members have threatened that if the Territory is not taken over on these terms, South Australia will build a railway on the land-grant principle.
– One of the honorable member’s own party made that threat.
– I do not care who made it ; the matter has nothing to do with us, and we are not to be threatened in that way. If South Australia likes to build a railway on the land-grant principle, it has nothing to do with, the other States. I believe that when the South Australian Government are informed of the views of the members of this Parliament, they will be only too glad to get rid of the Territory without the incubus of the railway.
– I am sorry to hear the honorable member for Balaclava oppose the Northern Territory agreement. It is a great national work, and part of the national programme.
– How would the honorable member finance it ?
– If the honorable member waits until I am Treasurer, he will see me fix it up in no time. The honorable member himself, if he were Treasurer, could finance it. This is a great national work, and the foundation of a national railway. The people of Australia owe the little State of South Australia a great debt of gratitude for having kept the Territory, with a few exceptions, white. It would have been very easy for South Australia to have had by now a couple of million Asiatics living there. They could have offered a syndicate the right to build the railway to Port Darwin, with millions of acres of land on which to settle Asiatics.
– Asiatics cannot be brought into Australia.
– It could have been done when I was a member of the South Australian Parliament. Very few of us knew anything about the White Australian idea at that time ; in fact, I think I would have voted for such a proposal. I was not a Labour man then, but a private syndicator. The South Australian Government at that time had the numbers in the House, and could have handed the Territory over to a syndicate on those terms if they had wanted to. There were great syndicates after it, and they could easily have been given the right to bring in a mighty Asiatic population, which would have flocked down into the streets of Melbourne and Sydney, and done as the coloured people of the South are doing now in the Northern States - making slaves of their white women. That is the state of things which we might have had in Australia to-day if the South Australian Parliament had acted as I indicate, and I would have voted, although in ignorance, to bring it about. I have had my eyes opened since. In fact, I have had an experience like that of Saul of Tarsus. I am sorry that the Government did not go up into the Senate and flog the members there-
– Order !
– I quite agree with you, Mr. Speaker; it was only an inadvertance. I appeal to the House to do justice to South Australia. If we are going on with the slipshod method of finance that is now being adopted it will make no difference if we incur a liability of £3,000,000 or£4,000,000 more on behalf of South Australia. At the same time we do owe it to South Australia to carry out the agreement. I am the only member from Tasmania in this chamber who has voted for it. It is of no benefit to my constituents, except as a national work, but as such it appeals to me as an Australian, who owes a paramount allegiance to the Commonwealth, and a subordinate allegiance to the State of Tasmania.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Claims for Enrolment
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Permanent Forces : Allowance to Married Men
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I have not the particulars with me, but the answer to the first question is -
The fact is as alleged in the question.
The other particulars I shall obtain, meanwhile assuring the honorable member that if the men have not been paid they will be.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Pensioners in Hospitals.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Native Female Labour : Ordinances - Land Leases
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. There is no record that Burns, Philp, and Company have leased any land since the transfer of the Territory. Inquiries will be made from the Papuan authorities as to the extent and terms of any leases granted prior to that time.
Telegraph and Telephone Lines, New South Wales
asked the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
– Yes, the necessary information will be obtained and supplied.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The number of medals to be awarded in one year shall not exceed 120, of which thirty are for service in His Majesty’s Dominions beyond the Seas. In very special circumstances this number may be exceeded. The qualifications are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause 4 insert the following new clause : - “ 4a. Provided that the limitation in the pre ceding section in respect to service in the ranks shall not apply, except as far as may be found possible, until the expiration of two years from the commencement of the training prescribed in section one hundred and twenty-five, paragraph (c); “Provided also that thelimitation in the preceding section shall not at any time apply to the appointment of officers in the Senior Cadets.”
– A number of these amendments are simply machinery provisions inserted at our own instance in another Chamber. There are one or two others inserted on the motion of my predecessor in office. I propose to accept a number of them. With regard to the first, instead of being inserted as a new clause, it should be added as a proviso to proposed new section11a in clause 4. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to with the modification that it be inserted in clause 4 as provisos to section11a, that “4a” be left out, and that the words “ the preceding,” twice occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ this.”
– I agree with the Minister that many of the Senate’s amendments are of a trivial character, so that it scarcely matters whether they are adopted or not. This amendment, however, seems to admit of the appointment as officers of persons who have not served in the ranks, though, of course, there is the qualification “ except as far as may be found possible.”
, - The honorable member has reminded me of an explanation which I omitted to make. The intention is that persons shall not be eligible for appointment as officers until they have served for a period in the ranks, to acquire the experience which is deemed necessary. This prevision, however, will give us a free hand for two years. After that it will be impossible to appoint officers except from among those who have served in the ranks.
.- The provision will enable the administration for two years to appoint as officers of the Citizen Forces persons who have not served in the ranks. As the Bill left this Chamber, it required all appointments of officers to be made from those who had served in the ranks. I believe that there is a sufficient number of experienced men in the ranks who will be able to qualify for all appointments necessary within the next two years, and the appointment of any others should, as far as possible, be avoided.
– Wherever we can appoint men from the ranks as officers, we shall do so.
– I hope that the Minister will pay strict regard to the words “except as far as may be found possible.”
Motion agreed to.
Clause 7 (Amendment of section 36 or principal Act) -
Senate’s Amendment. - At end of clause add the following words : - “ Section thirty-six of the- Principal Act is also amended by adding the following provisosthereto : -
Provided that the regulations may prescribe that any member of the Defence Force may, at his option, on the expiration of his original enlistment or subsequent re-engagement, reengage to serve for a further period without any fresh oath of enlistment, subject nevertheless to the veto of the Minister or other authority mentioned in the regulations and to such other conditions as are specified in the regulations, and such member who so re-engages shall sign before his commanding officer an agreement toreengage in accordance with the said regulations to be indorsed upon or attached to the original oath of enlistment, and such member shall, during the period of such re-engagement, continue to be bound by his original oath of enlistment.
Provided also that, except in time of war, any member who has re-engaged after the completion of his original period of enlistment mayclaim his discharge under section forty and shall not be required to pay the sum therein prescribed.’.”
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to with themodification that the word “ Principal “ beinserted before the word “ Act “ in the first lineof the clause.
– It seems to me that the other Chamber has made amendments which are entirely superfluous. These provisos merely increase the bulk of the Bill, and necessitate the formulation of regulations, without making anymaterial alteration in the law. At the present time, regulations are hurled at us. almost every week, so that we scarcely, know what rules we are working under. The effect of the Senate’s proposal is to give those who re-engage for a second period a little more independence than those who are undergoing the first period of training, whereas, in my opinion, they should be on precisely the same footing. To give this privilege is liable to breed dissatisfaction and discontent among the recruits.
– Does the honorablemember not think that the man who hasserved for a period and re-engages should have an advantage?
– I would give those who hold rank all the privileges and dignityattaching to their particular grade; but, where two men are on an equalitv of rank, I would not give one any privileges over the other merely because he had re-engaged for a second term of service.
– The object of the provision is to give men the right to re-engagement if there is no objection to them. At the present time, those who wish to re-engage have to ask for permission, but, under this proposal, re-engagement will be automatic, unless there is a special reason why a man should not re-engage.
– It is subject to the veto of the Minister.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendments in clauses 10 and11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
All those liable to be trained as junior cadets shall be trained in physical drill, elementary marching drill, and the use of miniature rifles. The training shall be carried out in the manner and at the times prescribed.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ in physical drill, elementary marching drill, and the use of miniature rifles. The training shall be carried out in the manner and at the times,” insert “ as.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The proposal is merely to give a little more elasticity in regard to the method of training junior cadets. Instead of prescribing exactly how they should be trained, it proposes to enable the Minister to make regulations to suit varying circumstances.
.- It seems to me that the amendment weakens the provision in the Bill. A Minister who has regard to the defences of the country may provide adequately for the training of the Cadets, but one holding the views which the present Minister held some years ago might make no provision for drills at all. I think that the amendment goes further than is intended. I have not the technical knowledge of the honorable member for Adelaide, but, in my opinion, this is a proposal to weaken a fundamental principle.
– It should be laid down in the measure that physical drill - elementary marching drill - shall be the training of the Cadets.
– Since Australia has adopted the principle of compulsory military training, we should not agree to an amendment under which such training might be dropped altogether.
– The amendment applies only to the Junior Cadets, to lads betweenthe ages of twelve and fourteen.
– Quite so; but the Minister believes in training those cadets?
– I think I am right in saying that Parliament desires that they shall be trained, and, that being so, we should not agree to a provision which would allow a Minister to stop this training altogether.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I have grave doubts as to whether the Committee will be doing right in accepting this amendment. I understand that it was inserted in another place at the instigation of the Government, and, if accepted, it Hill leave the whole of the training of Junior Cadets to. be determined by the Minister of the day, If I understood the feeling of the Committee when we passed this clause originally it was that the drill of Junior Cadets should be defined by Parliament, and not left to the whim of the Minister. Some military authorities might advise him that the drill should be lenient, and others that it should be of a strenuous character. But the chief difficulty in the way of accepting this amendment is that in the event of a Ministry happening to want funds badly, it would make it possible for him by a stroke of the pen to decide that the Junior Cadets should receive no training, and thus save , £30,000 or . £40,000 a year. There is no doubt that the financial situation in the immediate future will be such that Ministers will be grasping greedily at every penny j but if the Committee does not share my view, I can only say that in entering this protest I have done my duty.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 13 (Amendment of section 63 of principal Act) -
Senate’s Amendment. - Add the following new sub-section : - “ (3.) All appointments in the Department of Defence (other than such appointments to the Central Staff as ought in the opinion of the Governor-General to be under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902) shall be appointments in the Naval or Military Defence Forces, and members of the Permanent Naval or Military Forces who have served not less than five years therein shall, in cases of equality of qualifications, have preference over other applicants for those appointments.”
– This amendment will carry out a promise made by me in this Chamber to the honorable member for Maranoa. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I do not like this provision. It is likely to bring about that which many of us have been fighting against for years - the domination of the military side of the Department. I should have no objection to military clerks who qualify, obtaining all the advantages of the Public Service Act, but it seems to me that both the Secretary of the Department and the head of the ordnance stores ought tobe civilians. They should be free from military domination or influence.
– My experience teaches me that a civilian at the head of the Department is not a success.
– My honorable friend has been a soldier, and has been contaminated by the influence of militarism.
– I am not obsessed by militarism.
– There are certain positions that ought to be free from military influence. Take, for instance, the position of Secretary to the Minister.
– The Central Staff is excluded.
– I do not think it is.
– The honorable member will not let the men come under the Public Service Act, and he will not let them officer their own Department.
– I have no objection to their entering the Public Service, and am prepared to move to that effect.
– This amendment does not apply to the Central Staff. The idea underlying it is, that other things being equal, employment of a military kind should be reserved for permanent men who have served their country for a number of years.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I drafted this amendment at the instance of the honorable member for Maranoa. I thought that the proposal, which was put so forcibly and ably by him, was indorsed by honorable members generally. I took it that the House was of opinion, as another place is, that a provision of this kind should be inserted.
– The honorable member does not say that the matter was discussed in this House?
– It was discussed at length, and with much fervour. It was brought forward by the honorable member for Maranoa.
– And the honorable member gave him a promise.
– I promised that I would consult the Public Service Commissioner, and, if necessary, legislate during this session to carry out what he proposed. I have carried out that promise. I have done this after consulting the Public Service Commissioner, who agrees with what we propose, and I think that it is perfectly safe.
Amendment (by Mr. Mauger) negatived -
That the following words be added : -“ with; the modification that the word’ permanent ‘ be left out.”
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause 16 insert. the following new clause : - “16a. (1) Section seventy-nine of the Principal.
Act is amended -
– We find this provision necessary. Several cases have occurred in which members of the Forces have been asked to deliver up property, asrequired by regulation ; but we find that we have no power to enforce that regulation. We are therefore proposing now to take the necessary power. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 17 -
After section one hundred and twenty-three of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “ 123a. No intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be sold or supplied at any naval or military canteen, camp, fort, or post, except as prescribed for purely medical purposes…..
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ supplied,” line 5, insert “ and no person shall have such intoxicating or spirituous liquors in his possession.”
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
.- I understand that, if this amendment is carried, the result will be that liquor can be supplied in the canteens.
– This, with the succeeding amendment made by the Senate, will mean prohibition in camp, but the continuance of the barrack canteen as at present. The two amendments were made on the motion of my predecessor in office, who argued very strongly that they were in the interests of temperance. The amendment before us tightens up our proposals so far as training and camps go, but, taken with the next amendment, it will leave the ordinary canteen in barracks, as at present. I venture to say that, altogether, this is an even better provision than we passed, so far as the general question of temperance is concerned. Honorable members may take my word that the canteens in barracks are managed in the most stringent way. I have had the fullest investigation made, and there is really very little drinking carried on. The liquors are confined to ales and wine, no spirits of any kind being permitted. Since we prohibit drink entirely in camp while training is proceeding, it seems to me we might verywell accept the clause as sent down.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong some time ago made certain charges which I have since been able to discover were absolutely true. It is our duty, as trustees for the public, to see that our boys are preserved from becoming alcoholic maniacs. Mr. O’Brien told me that his son was at the place spoken of by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and that there was no drink except beer to be had. I believe that, subsequently, a dozen bottles of lemonade were sent for, but in the meantime the boys drank beer not knowing that it was beer.
– They were not Australian boys !
– They were. There are enough boozers in Australia without encouraging them in our drill halls. The aim ought to be to reform, and to enable the boys to grow up sober men.
– I point out that those who are in favour of strict teetotalism ought to vote for this amendment. The question as to liquor in time of training must be fought out on the next amendment.
.-I understand that if we accept this amendment, liquor will be allowed in canteen at the barracks?
– Unless there is training going on.
– That is only two or three times a year. When this Bill went to the Senate, it provided that no liquor was to be sold in the barracks canteen, but it did not provide that no liquor was to be sold during the time of training.
– It provided that no intoxicating spirituous liquors should be supplied in canteen orcamp except when prescribed for purely medical purposes.
– The Senate has altered that particular clause, so as to strengthen our position so far as the training camps are concerned, but it leaves the barrack canteen open.
– That is so. Amendment number 9 tightens the prohibition at the camp.
– Do I understand that if we pass this amendment, it will tighten, as the Minister says, the prohibition at the camp, but that when we come to deal with the next amendment, we shall still have an opportunity to say that no liquor shall be sold at the canteen?
– That is so.
.- I have read the debates in another place, and it is a striking fact that Rechabites and leading teetotallers there take an opposite position from that of some of my fellow members and myself. The Minister of Defence, whose temperance principles no one will impugn, holds that the canteen, as at present conducted, is conducive to temperance rather than to intemperance, but I entirely and absolutely disagree with him. The honorable gentleman, however, of course, has a perfect right to his opinion, and I do not impugn his honesty of purpose for a moment. I point out, however, that this is the second or third’ time this proposal has been presented to the Senate, and refused, so that it would seem hopeless to expect that Chamber to adopt it.
– Then I suppose we must absolutely abandon it.
– I am not asking the honorable member to abandon anything.
-The honorable member would be more in order in dealing with that question on the next amendment.
– The two amendments have been dealt with together up to the present ; but I shall only say that, while I am not prepared to give up any of my principles, I want to make whatever provision I can get as strong as possible.
.- Is this the proper time to get an assurance from the Minister of Defence that officers will not be supplied with liquor at the canteen at a cheaper rate than that at which the men are supplied?
– I am not aware that officers are supplied at a cheaper rate.
– That was so at one time, as an inquiry showed.
– I can only say that I shall inquire into the matter. There seems to be no reason why officers should not pay as much for their drinks as do members of the rank and file.
– Some of the decent officers always did so, but others did not: There was an inquiry into this matter some time ago.
– The practice has been abolished.
– I think honorable members may lea.ve the matter to me.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ post “ insert ’ during such time as training of persons as prescribed in paragraphs (a), (i), and *(c), of section one hundred and twenty-five is proceeding in such naval or military camp, fort, or post.”
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane- Honorary Minister) [2.41]. - T.was not in Australia when this Bill was previously before this Chamber, and I should like to take the present opportunity to relate a personal experience, which may be of value to the Committee. Some time ago, before I was a member of this House, there was considerable discussion in the press, and, I think, also in Parliament, as to the de sirability or otherwise of totally prohibiting intoxicating liquors in camp. I forget exactly what orders were issued, but, at any rate, after it had been decided to do away with the “wet” canteen, as it is called, in camp, the order was revoked. However, when I happened to be in command of a camp shortly afterwards, at which there were 1,000 or 1,200 men, I thought I would try the experiment of prohibition. It was optional with me, as the commanding officer, to have a canteen or not, as I thought best ; and, with my staff officer, I arranged that no liquor should be obtainable in camp. On the first night of the camp I found that a large number of the men had gone out, and that some of them had been found at hotels up to four miles away.
– Is this the Ministerial position, or not? If not, why is the Honorary Minister putting it forward?
Colonel FOXTON.- I arn merely relating facts. I fail to see that it is not desirable to have the truth of the matter, even though it may not conform with the views of some honorable members, i desire to relate my personal experience in an attempt to carry into effect what is now proposed. I sent out patrols, and went out myself, and found men going through the bush to hotels, one of which was about a mile and a-half away, and the other about four miles. My experiment was tried in the interests of temperance, and I believe it was unique, as being the. first.
– I agree with the honorable member, but his argument should not be directed against his fellow Ministers.
Colonel FOXTON.- Perhaps the honorable member will allow me to be. the judge of when I shall speak, and what I shall say. On the second night, the experience was the same, in an aggravated form. Although I had been for nearly forty years attending camps, I do not think I had ever seen more drunkenness than I did on those two nights; and, in support of temperance principles, I was forced to telegraph to Brisbane for hogsheads of beer with which to open a canteen. From, that time there was no more drunkenness in camp, because the beer was sold under supervision, and no man ‘who was in the slightest degree intoxicated could obtain it.
– This is a remarkable speech, in view of the attitude of the Minister of Defence.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am expressing no opinion as to whether or not this amendment should be accepted. I am prepared to accept, as in, duty bound, the decision of my colleague who is in charge of the Bill, but I think I should fail in my duty to the public if I did not relate this personal experience.
– What the Honorary Minister says is no doubt absolutely correct, but I remind him of the difference between then and now. We are going to take youths - mere boys, so to speak - into camp ; and, however much honorable members may differ as to the advisability of liquor in regard to adults, I do not think there will be any difference of opinion as to the advisability of keeping liquor away from the young trainees.
.- The argument of the honorable member for Brisbane boiled down is that hotels should be opened up all over the place and beer made available wherever possible, because in that way there would be less drunkenness. When this proposal left the House all canteens were to be closed, whether in barracks or camps. Another place now proposes that the canteens shall still continue, and that this provision shall apply only to boys undergoing compulsory training. Less than six weeks ago this Chamber decided without a division to close all canteens, but it seems to be impossible to carry that in another place. The Minister is to be congratulated on the effort he has made, but I regret that it is not possible to close the whole of the canteens in connexion with naval and military forces.
Colonel Foxton. - It would mean more drunkenness.
– If that is the opinion of the honorable member for Brisbane we ought not to impose any restriction at all. I think the object of every member of the Committee in supporting this proposal is to remove temptation. If that is not the object, there is nothing in it. I regret that we are not able to get all that we desire, and hope that when we have another opportunity we shall be in a position to deal with the question more effectively than we can to-day.
.-I did not intend to speak on the question until I heard the extraordinary speech of the Honorary Minister. Why are the Government going to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors in juvenile camps if the argument of the Honorary Minister, that the restriction will lead to drunkenness, is a sound one? According to him, canteens ought to be established at every street corner. All the facts, however, are plainly against that argument. If some men did go from the particular camp mentioned by the Honorary Minister and obtain drink, they were not nearly so numerous as those who would have taken it in the camp if there had been a canteen there. The Minister of Defence acted quite rightly in accepting the amendment when it was first moved in this Chamber, but if it is impossible to get all that we want I am prepared to take what we can get, so long as it is understood that no liquor will be available in the canteen for adults when the juveniles or cadets are in the camp. If liquor is available for the adults, what happened recently at the military tattoo at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, will happen again. The liquor was not taken there for the cadets, but they got it. If cadets and adults are out together and liquor is available in the camp for adults the juveniles will obtain it by some means or other. We are proposing to take boys compulsorily from their homes, and many of them have never been in such places before, or had the temptation placed in their way. We shall be studying the welfare of these young Australians if we keep liquor away from them as much as possible. Some say that beer is good for the constitution. I have never tasted it, but I have a very fine constitution, and I am satisfied that total abstinence is best. I know hundreds of men who would be better to-day if they had never taken intoxicating liquor.
.- The closing words of the honorable member for Bass have properly resolved this into a constitutionalquestion. I am rather surprised at the Minister of Defence accepting the Senate’s amendment, seeing that the honorable member for Brisbane, who is also a member of the Cabinet, is going to vote against it.
Colonel Foxton. - I did not say so.
– So far, we have had the Ministry speaking with two different voices, but I am glad to learn now that not only the Minister of Defence, but also the Defence representative of the Government, are going to vote for the proposal. I am pleased that the Ministry will accept the amendment, because those who know the history of this legislation will know that this is about the fourth time that we have tried to get a provision in this direction through the Senate. I am afraid that if it goes back to the Senate there will be a possibility of losing the great advantage already gained by the Bill. The exclusion of young men under twenty is one of the best things that we can possibly have, and is such an advance that I hope those who want to go further will not, by asking for everything, imperil it.
.- The peculiar feature about the advocacy of the abolition of canteens this afternoon is that nearly all those who have been most enthusiastic for it confess that they have never tasted intoxicating liquors, and, therefore, have not the slightest idea of their effects.
– We can see the effect on other people.
– One also has an opportunity of observing the dire effects of abstinence in certain cases. A very wrong idea is prevalent with regard to liquor, especially amongst out temperance friends. There is no doubt of the evil effects of spirituous liquor taken in excess, but to prevent the soldier, whether citizen or regular, from having any liquor at all, nearly always leads, and is bound to lead, to excess in another direction. That is to say, he will get liquor even if he has to travel a considerable distance for it, so long as the ordinary hotels are open, as the honorable member for Brisbane mentioned. I have seen camps where there were no canteens, and every hotel within a reasonable distance always did a thriving trade. The men would stop there much longer, because there was no hope of getting liquor when they returned to camp, than they would have done had the canteen been open in the ordinary way. My idea is that it would be much preferable for the Government to prohibit the sale of spirituous liquors in connexion with the Military Forces, except on a medical certificate, but to allow light beer to any extent that the men are willing to pay for.
– Would not the honorable member allow light wines?
– I have no objection to light wines, but light beer should certainly be allowed for any man or youth who has been marching about all day in the hot sun, with dust in his throat all the time. He needs something in the way of a drink, but the ordinary teetotal drink is just about as rotten a proposition as it is possible to imagine. Even teetotallers have confessed to me that their great trouble was to find a drink that would satisfy them.I have tried some teetotal beverages, but I cannot say that they have attracted me. The cause of temperance would be materially served by the saleof light beer and, possibly, light wines in canteens. The authorities could insist upon it being sufficiently light to be practically non-intoxicating; but to close the canteens altogether is to apply a cure which is worse than the disease.
– The best work in the world has been done by teetotallers.
– That is a matter of assumption. What is the best work in the world? I shall not argue the question of what teetotalism has or has not done, but I dare say even the honorable member who interjects would be the better for a little wholesome beer if he would take it in moderation. My view is that the canteens should be open for the supply of light beer to the soldiers, whether youths or adults. In either case, it could do them no harm, and it would certainly prevent them obtaining worse liquor away from the camp.
– I do not propose to deliver a temperance lecture to the Committee, but I wish to reply to the honorable member for South Sydney. He is probably quite right in the statement that teetotal drinks, if partaken of as a regular beverage, would be even worse than alcohol. I do not propose to give my personal experiences, but for many years I hare not drunk alcohol, and have had some knowledge of camp life. These encampments are not arranged for the social entertainment of those who take part in them ; they are designed to inure youths and adults to service conditions, under which canteens do not exist.
– There was plenty of beer obtainable by the troops during the South African war.
– Not at the front.
– When the men got near the column.
– Lord Roberts said that those who took alcoholic drink could not be depended on.
– Senator Lt.-Colonel Cameron, and other senators who have had actual experience of warfare and military training, strongly advocated the abolition of canteens at encampments. Apart from moral considerations, it must be apparent to those who have had experience of the ways of the world thatthe habit of drinking intoxicating liquor is generally acquired by process ofimitation. Youths like to imitate their elders, and, as their carrying capacity is not so great, many of them drink to excess. After a heavy day’s work, the younger men in an encampment often fly to alcohol, and, not being accustomed to its consumption, become undisciplined, and give their officers at night more trouble than they had all day. In the interests of discipline, and’ of those appointed for the instruction of the troops in the methods of warfare, it is advisable to keep liquor out of encampments. My own habits are temperate, and I agree with those who contend that the average man of resolution will not allow himself to drink to excess; but I would not dictate to others what they shall do, any more than I would allow them to dictate to me. At the same time, as military encampments are arranged to give those who take part in them solid training, we should make provision for preventing the taking of liquor there.
.- As I understand, the position is this : We have agreed to an amendment of the Senate prohibiting persons in camp from, having intoxicating or spirituous liquors in their possession, and are now considering a proposal to prevent the selling of intoxicating drink in military barracks during training. I ask what can we lose by sending this question back to the Senate? It cannot negative what both Chambers have now agreed to. The taking of drink to military camps of training is prohibited.
Colonel Foxton. - Canteens in camps *re abolished, but drinking is not.
– At any rate, it is prohibited by law. The Honorary Minister made an extremely strange speech. Directly the Committee, on the motion of the Minister of Defence, had accepted the Senate’s amendment, he rose to point out that its action would increase, drunkenness.
Colonel Foxton, - I endeavoured to speak on the subject before, but was prevented, and I was requested to say after the question was put what I wished to say previously.
– My point is that the Honorary Minister told the Committee that what has been done would tend to promote drunkenness.
Colonel Foxton. - I put facts before it.
– We cannot gain anything by referring the matter now under consideration back to the Senate.
– Because there is not the least chance that it will accept the. pro.posal, having already rejected it twice.
– The Legislative Council of Victoria refused on many occasions to agree to female suffrage, but ultimately agreed to it-
– I am certain that we shall gain nothing by sending this amendment back to the Senate.
– The Ministry fought very hard for a proposal to send back to the Senate a very small amendment in the High Commissioner Bill. We do not wish to increase drunkenness. It would be better not to have a Defence Bill at all than to have a Bill which will do that. The honorable member for Maribyrnong suggests that we are endangering what we have already gained by pressing this proposal, but I fail to see that we should run any risk.
– The Senate can strike out the whole clause if we refer the matter back to them.
– We have been asked to deal with two separate amendments, one of which we have accepted.
– But the two amendments occur in the one clause, which the Senate can negative if we refer this matter back to it.
– If we amend in any way a Senate proposal, it can reject its amendment as altered by us.
– The Senate has sent us two separate amendments, to one of which we have agreed. If we reject the other, and send the Bill back to the Senate, it cannot alter the provision which we have accepted.
– If that provision stands absolutely by itself the Senate cannot alter it after the Committee has accepted it.
– I do not think that we shall lose anything by insisting that canteens shall not be established in barracks. Therefore, I shall not hesitate to vote against the amendment now before the Committee. The Senate has sent to us a number of amendments, and surely, if we accept them all, with the exception of one or two, it will not insist upon this. ‘ The temperance cause will not be endangered by the rejection of this amendment.
– There is a risk.
– The honorable member is entitled to his opinion and I am entitled to mine, and I do not hesitate to say that the temperance cause will not be injured by our rejection of this amendment. If we accept all the Senate’s amendments, with one or two exceptions, they cannot reasonably complain.
.-I should like to remind my honorable friend of the fact that this clause was fought in the Senate with a vigour, persistence, and determination, such as was not associated with the consideration of any other provision. It was the one clause as to which there was a recommittal.
– On a point of order, is the honorable member in order in referring to something that has happened in another place ?
– So it is politics, not temperance, that the honorable member is after ! He is trying to block me from putting facts before the Committee. . He wishes to make politics out of the whole thing ! Very well. Let him do so.
.- I certainly do not wish to make political capital out of this matter. I possess sufficient independence not to care how my acts may be judged outside as long as they have the authority of my own conscience. I am not here to pole before the electors because a general election is near at hand j 1 am not here to kneel or bow to the Rechabite or any other party. I believe that if I do in this House what I conceive to be right I shall have the respect of all parties, regardless of what their principles may be. I cannot understand the attitude of a man like thd “honorable member for ‘Barrier, who speaks with his tongue in his cheek, and who, during the consideration of a serious matter of this kind, indulges in a ribald joke about the designation of the electorate represented by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, while at the same time pretending to uphold grand and sacred principles for the reformation of the people. I do not object to listen to the honorable member when he is sincere, but I am inclined to agree with, the Minister of Defence, that he is thinking more of politics than anything else. I have had a good deal to do with men, and have discussed with both privates and officers the question of canteens. From what I have seen, and have learned, I am satisfied that we shall make a very great mistake if we do not accept this amendment. I regretted very much the insertion in the Bill of the original clause, believing it to be too drastic, and I am glad now to have an opportunity tq support such an amendment as this. Having seen a lot of the suffering that results from excess in alcohol, I regret as much as any man that some method cannot be devised of sweeping all alcohol off the face of the earth. But it seems to me that we must be temperate ourselves, and that those who believe in the total abolition of liquor can hardly be said to be temperate in their ideas.
– It is, of course, a matter of opinion. I believe in the rule of the majority, and I trust that a majority of the Committee will support this amend- , ment. When the Papua Bill was before us, an argument was advanced that I should like to put forward now. It was said then that if we applied the principle of prohibition there, the result would be illicit selling, and that a large quantity of cheap, inferior liquor would be secretly in-, traduced and sold in the Territory. It was consequently decided that the liquor trade there might - be licensed and carried on under proper restrictions, and I see no reason why the same course should not be pursued in this connexion. It has been the custom for ages to permit canteens in barracks, where they are under the control of responsible officers. An officer in command has only to enter a canteen and give am order, and not a man there dare swallow the liquor that remains in his glass. Under such control I do not think that canteens in barracks can be abused, but I have seen liquor supplied in camp canteens tocivilians not in training, but visiting. That should be specially guarded against, and I hope that the Minister will bring to bear stringent .measures to provide that civilians shall not be supplied with liquor, more especially on Sundays, in camp.
– Does not the honorablemember think we could overcome the difficulty by making beer available in the camp to men, but prohibiting its use by boys?
– The sale of liquor under regulations in camps is more likely toconduce to temperance than would the abolition of the system. If it were abolished” altogether, illicit selling would go on. Bad’ liquor would be supplied on the outskirts, of camps, and some men, if they could not obtain a drink in camp, might travel a considerable distance to obtain one. If the men are able to obtain liquor in campunder certain restrictions at a moderateprice, I think that the system will be more- conducive to temperance than otherwise. I shall therefore support the amendment.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment leaving out section 123b, clause 17, agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment, inserting new clause 37 a, verbally amended and agreed to.
The prescribed training shall be, in each year ending the thirtieth day of June, of the following duration : -
No employer shall prevent . . . any employee …. from rendering the personal service required of him or … . attempt to penalize any employee for rendering or being liable to render such personal service…..
No officer shall be appointed . . . until he has passed, as prescribed, a course at the Military College.
Senate’s Amendment. - After “Cadets” insert “ not exceeding.”
.- This clause is not limited to men who are compelled to attend training; but extends to militiamen who are really volunteers; and, in my opinion, a very serious alteration of principle is involved. I remember the case of a grocer’s assistant who, on Easter Saturday, one of the busiest days of the year, vent, without his employer’s consent, into camp as a militiaman, and therefore greatly interfered with his work, and, under this clause his employer will have no say in the matter. I take it that there is a great distinction between the position of a man in the compulsory service, and a man who volunteers to become a militiaman. Of course, I do not think that an employer should object more than is absolutely necessary to his employes attending camp ; but it is easy to conceive that there will be great inconvenience to all businesses if militiamen have to attend the Kitchener camps from the 10th to the 17th. Another case of which I know is that of the employes in a large biscuit factory, where there are five militiamen on whom depends the work of a great number of other men. If this amendment be agreed to, the employers, although the men are volunteers, will be compelled to permit them to leave their employment for days together, and the employes will not be averse, seeing that they will be paid 8s. a day. Another case, still, is that of a man who hitherto has been permitted to leave camp on the Sunday because he had to light up some brick kilns on which the employment of about 110 men depended. I quite agree with strengthening the clause so far as those under compulsory service are concerned ; but I think we ought to have some consideration for the employer in the case of militiamen who, as we know, are obliged to take all their camp training at once, instead of, as in the case of the compulsory men, being able to spread it over the year. I may as well mention another instance, in which it is absolutely necessary that a member of the militia force should be at the disposal of his employer in order to water horses for about twenty-five carters. I do not know whether the arguments I am presenting were used in another place, but the officials of a Department do not always consider the convenience of employers and others. Who submitted this amendment in the Senate?
– Was it not the VicePresident of the Executive Council?
– I think the clause will prove a serious interference with the busines of the country, and may have the effect of causing employers to refuse to employ members of the militia. As this service is voluntary, the course proposed will eventually injure the movement. This would be a most unfortunate result ; but I can say that, although I take a great interest in the militia movement, I should have to consider my position if I found that the whole of my clerks were called away for eight days at a time.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The reply to the honorable member for Corio is a very brief and a very simple one. I am taking this course in order that I may get the militiamen into an eightdays’camp - that is the plain English of the matter. There is no trouble in some of the States, where it is the recognised rule; but there is trouble in one or two others.
– Which States?
– Victoria is one. We are simply playing at soldiering unless we can get these men into an eight-days’ continuous camp. While that may be inconvenient - and I do not deny allthat the honorable member has said - it is unavoidable in the interests of the effective defence of Australia. I have nothing more to say, except to express my fear that if this inconvenience is not borne by both men and masters, it simply means that some provision even more drastic will assuredly be imposed.
– If the service is compulsory, the employer can say, “ You have to go.” But if it is voluntary he will say, “ I will not employ you. You need not join the Militia unless you like.”
– That will mean that the voluntary principle breaks down.
– It has broken down.
-I do not think so. It has not broken down elsewhere. Men can be got into camps for eight days in New South Wales and Queensland.
– Only four in South Australia.
– It is playing at soldiering to take men into camp for only four days, and the sooner that kind of thing is ended the better for the defence of Australia.
.- The Committee is indebted to the honorable member for Corio for bringing the matter forward, and I am rather disappointed that the Minister, in his reply, was so unsympathetic towards the honorable member’s object. I think the honorable member is thoroughly in earnest in his desire to make the Bill effective, and the Forces as efficient as possible. He has instanced some cases, and I know of others. There are many factories where there are employed in certain departments experts whose attendance is absolutely necessary. Other men cannot be substituted temporarily for them, and without their attendance the whole of the factory may be stopped.
– Most of them have an understudy.
– In some large establishments, there may be one or two understudies; but if three or four men in these positions happened to be members of the Forces, and they were called out for eight days, very serious damage might be caused. The Minister ought to provide some means whereby cases of that kind could be met.
– The. Minister can exempt.
– Is that quite clear? Otherwise, great, and perfectly needless, damage might be done, not to the owner of the factory, but, in many cases, to hundreds of men through factories being closed down. I am sure the Minister and the Government do not intend anything of that kind, and I shall be glad if they can -satisfy me that there are means to prevent it. I quite approve of the necessity of a firm hand to compel all parties to fall in with the scheme; but there should be some safety-valve by which bonâ fide cases of hardship and inconvenience can be dealt with.
– This is exactly the point that I raised when we were previously debating: the principle of compulsory training. There may be a great business with a couple of thousand operatives, and an engine running the whole machinery. If the engineer is taken away to the woods for eight days, and cannot be replaced, all those employeswill be thrown into idleness.
– A large proportion of them would be in the service.
– Then the whole factory must be closed.
– They do not closein other countries.
– I am only saying this as a farewell shot at the crowning infamy of compelling men to close their businesses while young men are taken out into the bush to be taught to shoot down Christians.
– As one who has consistently supported the principle of universal training, I think that, until it has absolutely become the law of thecountry, and adjustments are made between employers and employés, we should not impose a restriction such as that to which the honorable member for Corio has very properly drawn attention. It would probably have the effect of reducing the number who might go into the voluntary arms of the service, and it ought to be made clear that the Minister has the power, under certain conditions and in certain circumstances, to release those called upon to attend drill. If that power is not given, I am afraid it will operate very strongly against an increase of the Militia and place many employers in a great difficulty. The provision should be modified as the honorable member for Corio suggests, in order that the Minister may give the necessary release in specific circumstances of difficulty, without recourse to the machinery of red-tape. I have in my mind one business undertaking where, if three of the men employed were compelled to be absent at the same time, a large industry would be absolutely dislocated and the suffering would fall upon the whole of those engaged in it.
.- I take an entirely different view from the honorable member for Kooyong. When administering the Postal and Home Affairs Departments, I was appealed to quite a number of times to use my influence with employers to allow their men to go to drill, and I discovered an amount of selfishness that was simply abominable.
– This will react upon the worker.
– I do not think it will.
– It will. I know what I am talking about.
– I am also speaking from knowledge. I assert that many employers have not realized their duty to this community. I found that the richer the employer, the greater was his reluctance to let his men off.
– I wish to know if there is a quorum present. If we are to sit on Saturday afternoon, we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I believe the vast majority of employers will co-operate, and what I have said does not apply to them. But it does apply to a number of men who will not only not do their part, but who throw every obstacle in the way of volunteers who are anxious to take part in drills, camps, and demonstrations. I speak from knowledge extending over a considerable period.
I have frequently had to interview large employers, and found the greatest possible difficulty in inducing them to put up with even a little inconvenience. I can understand what the honorable member for Mernda said in regard to experts, but surely there would be no difficulty in arranging for their exemption. No Minister would attempt to throw a huge factory into chaos.
– How many experts of that kind will be in the service?
– Very few. I am confident that the Minister is quite right in insisting that the employers, as well as the men, must do their duty.
– We must take into consideration the interests of the men, and the speech of the honorable member for Maribyrnong raises the question whether they will be employed if the employer is liable to all the pains and penalties proposed. Such cases as those mentioned by the honorable member may occur in Melbourne, but I have not heard of them occurring anywhere else. I think the majority of employers recognise the responsibility and necessity of defence, and are willing to let their men go. I have a few working for me, and have always let them go to camp for a fortnight, andpaid them for the time, because I recognised that they were going there for the good of the country. Every employer ought to realize his responsibility in that direction. At the same time, there are some employers who might penalize their men, and we ought to study the men in that connexion. I hope that the Bill, when passed, will’ be administered with common sense, and that the people of Australia will realize that defence is necessary. I do not belong to the fighting class myself, but I believe we should defend Australia, and it is only by the employer and the employé working together for the good of the country that we shall have a true defence. If, however, one fights against the other, both will suffer.
– I hope honorable members will allow the clause topass. They may rest assured that all the cases referred to can be met. We have power to give the men leave for any time that we choose.
.- In view of the fact that only a small number of employers will prevent their men attending training, does the Minister intend to keep a list of employers who refuse to let their men go, and, secondly, is any penalty to be imposed on those who so refuse ?
– Penalties are provided for.
– Will a list also be kept of masters who dismiss their men because they go to camp ? It will be foolish to establish a military system of this kind if we have not some means of protecting the employés.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment inserting after “ him “ the words “ or from attending any camp of instruction appointed to be held by the Head-Quarters of the Commonwealth or any Military District,” agreed to, with a consequential amendment of proposed new section 134 sub-section 2.
Senate’s amendments inserting after “service” the words “or for attending such camps,” and adding new sub-section to section 138, agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - At end of proposed new section 143 add the following new sub-section : - “ (3.) All persons liable to be trained under paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of section one hundred and twenty-five of this Act who are forbidden by the doctrines of their religion to bear arms shall, so far as possible, be allotted to noncombatant duties.”
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
.- If the sub-clause proposed by the Senate is agreed to, it will mean, read in conjunction with proposed new section 135, that every man who is brought before a Court for the purpose of enforcing his military obligations will be able to evade them. Proposed new section 135 provides -
Everyperson who in any year without lawful excuse evades or fails to render the personal service required by this part shall be guilty of an offence…..
When charged under that provision, the man could point at once to the sub-clause now proposed. I believe that every man who has sincere religious convictions against warfare should be exempted from military service ; but I do not wish religion to be used by men who do not sincerely hold the views to which I refer as an excuse for avoiding the ordinary duties of citizenship. Section 61 of the Act of 1903 would meet the case pretty fairly if it were extended to men under this Bill, as it should be. It provides that -
The Governor-General may, by Regulation, declare what persons will be exempt from service in the Defence Force, provided that persons whom the doctrines of their religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service shall be exempt upon such conditions as may be prescribed.
I desire to give the Minister control in this matter. Not only Quakers, but members of the Peace Society, and others who have adopted the doctrines of Count Tolstoy, conscientiously object to warfare, and the number of persons holding such views is increasing; but the Government ought to be able to prevent abuses.
– The provision says “so far as possible.”
– I think that a Court would interpret that to apply to the performance of non-combatant duties, and would say that every man forbidden by the doctrines of his religion to bear arms had the right to be allotted to noncombatant duties. It must be remembered that this provision applies to youths under twenty. I should like to know what noncombatant duties there are which could absorb all who have religious scruples about warfare ?
– They could be allotted to the Army Service Corps.
– Or to the Army Medical Service Corps, or to the Transport Corps.
– These are not enough to make up a third of the second column.
– But the persons to whom the honorable member refers are very few in comparison with the whole population.
– My officers inform me that we should be able to absorb all, and more.
– I think that the Government should have some such power to prevent abuse of regulation as is given in section 61. Otherwise it will not be until a man is taken to Court for neglect to undergo training that it will be discovered that he “ has religion,” to use the phrase of the honorable member for Darwin. It seems to me that it would be fair, under such circumstances, to charge a fee where there is exemption. At any rate, the exemption should be under such conditions as may be prescribed.
– The provision in the principal Act applies only to liability to serve in. time of war.
– That is so. With sincere conviction I heartily sympathize, but think that a similar provision should be adopted in this case. The Minister should have control.
– He will have control.
– The Minister cannot make regulations overriding the Act. When persons are brought to Court for not subjecting themselves to training, they will declare that they are exempt under this provision, alleging that the doctrines of their religion, which they can support by citing two or three verses from the New Testament, forbid them to bear arms. They will thus injure men of real convictions. I shall not push my objection, but as the Bill has to be returned to the Senate, I think that this provision might well be amended.
– If the honorable member reads the provision carefully, he will see that religion can be used as an excuse only in cases where it is possible to allot to non-combatant duties those who have scruples against engaging in warfare. If it is found that the exigencies of the service require some such persons to bear arms, they must do so. But asfar as possible we shall exempt them, allotting them to non-combatant duties.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments, inserting after the word “No” the words “applicant or,” line 11, and adding the following provision, agreed to -
Provided that sections one hundred and fortynine and one hundred and fifty shall not applv to officers of the Medical, Veterinary, Ordnance, and other Departmental services.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment leaving out section 151 be agreed to.
.- Remembering how strenuously the Minister fought for the retention of this provision, in opposition to the honorable member for Wentworth and others, I should like to hear definitely from him that he really wishes us now to leave it out.
– I assure the honorable member that I do.
Motion agreed to.
– Would it not be as well to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Resolutions reported and adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure requires more considerationi than the time at our disposal really permits us to give to it ; but I shall endeavour to draw the attention of honorable members to its main points, in the hope that it may be passed through its various stages to-day. In 1903 we passed a Patents Bill, based, to a large extent, on the English Act of 1902, making certain improvements in the legislation of the States, and, amongst other things, reducing the fees chargeable from about £91 to £13, exclusive of the cost of drawings, or, with that cost, from about £120 to . £20, the lowestcharges in any place where patent laws exist, with the exception of Belgium.
– And America.
– I do not think so. The revenue from the Department which administers the law of patents, trade marks, copyright and designs for the year 1909-10 is estimated at £18,270, and the expenditure at £20,973,’ showing a loss of about £2,703, or, taking into account the amount returnable to the States, £4,273. The Senate has reduced the fee for sealing from £5 to £3. and have increased the fee for renewaP from £5 to£12. As a renewal does not come in until seven years after the sealing of the patent, the Commonwealth does not reap the benefit for some time. The 1st June, 191 1, is the first date on which renewal fees will be payable to the Commonwealth for its own purposes. I might emphasize the matter by informing honorable members that of the total fees received between 1st June, 1904, when the Act became operative, and the 30th June,. 1909, amounting to £23,851, £23,017 was in respect of renewals, and was all paid to the States. The effect of these figures is, that there is a loss on the working of the Department. I have given the annual loss at present as £2,703, leaving out the figures relating to the States. It is impossible to say what will be the position a few years hence. Until the fees for renewals have begun to come in, we cannot really ascertain, since the present is an experimental period, how the Department will pay. I think in the circumstances it was a mistake for the Senate to reduce the fee.
– What are the total fees received for renewals during the present vear?
– I have them, but I am giving only what I think are the pertinent figures. I come now to theother clauses. Several are purely formal. Papua is to be brought within the scope of our Patents Act, and the result is that incidental provisions have to be made to meet that extension. They will be found in clause 3. There is in clause 4 a provision in relation to costs. The Commissioner has power to award, but no power to enforce, the collection of costs. Under this Bill we are giving him that power. Causes 6, 7, and 8 are purely formal.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Clause 9 makes an amendment in the existing provisions as regards additional patents. The old provision was that where improvements in a patent were being made an additional patent had to be taken out. We have brought that into line with the principle of the English Act, and have abolished the fee. There is provision also for the restoration of lapsed patents, and some further provisions in clauses 13 and 14. The two clauses of chief importance are those dealing with the working of patents or compulsory licences. In 1903 we made provision for the compulsory licence. The provisions existing under the English Act of 1883, with improvements incorporated in the English Act of 1902, were adopted by us, but they are not very efficacious, and we have endeavoured to improve them by bringing them into line with the last English Act. Under the Bill as it stands, they are not sufficient, because a man who applies for a compulsory licence has to fight from the start out of his own pocket. He has to face a heavy handicap in respect of the costs which the proceedings entail, and is met throughout the course of the application for a compulsory licence with many obstacles in the way of proof. We have endeavoured to minimize those, but at the same time my personal conviction is that to do what we wish as regards compulsory licences, the provisions of this Bill are not sufficient.
– I have again to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The compulsory licence provisions under the Bill as it stands are not sufficient. We propose, therefore, to introduce the principle which is embodied in the legislation of almost all countries with regard to the compulsory working of patents. I have given this matter a great deal of attention; since the Bill came from the Senate, and have prepared an amendment of the clause dealing with it which, I think, will be an improvement. It is not a slavish following of the English provision. It amounts to this : That if after a time it is found on petition being lodged that the manufacture in the Commonwealth is inadequate, and when the petition comes on for hearing, it is proved that the patent is being manufactured mainly or exclusively outside the Commonwealth, then, unless the patentee gives satisfactory reasons why he does not manufacture in Australia, an order is to be made to come into operation either at once or at a future date. The reason why it is not proposed that the order shall not necessarily come into operation at once is that we desire to give the patentee an opportunity to comply with the provisions under which the patent is granted; or, in other words, adopting the language of the Statute of Monopolies, to insure that he will introduce a new manufacture into the realm. If a man obtains a particular monopoly he must discharge his obligation in regard to it here. If within the date named in the order he does adequately manufacture according to our local demands, and in accordance with our progressive development, then the order will not be made. If he does not, and can show satisfactory reasons why he should have a little more time within which to carry out his obligation, he may be granted an extension not exceeding twelve months. If after that time he does not comply with the provisions of the Bill, the order will be made, and other people can manufacture the patent without being liable to an action for infringement: If after a time other people do not manufacture, and the patentee proceeds to do so in the Commonwealth then here is a locuspenitentiæ created. The patentee is allowed to go on manufacturing with protection and the order is cancelled. That I think is a very reasonable solution of the difficulty. I have listened to operatives, employers, people from England, and others, and, acting as a sort of Committee on the suggestions made, I recommend as a solution of the problem the new clause that I propose to move. Having regard to the circumstances, I am sure that the House will not think me discourteous if I refrain from speaking at any greater length. I shall be glad, however, to supply any information that may be desired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Revocation of patents worked outside the Commonwealth).
– I move -
That the clause be amended by leaving out proposed new section 87a and inserting in lieu thereof the following section : - “ 87a. - (1.) At any time not less than four years after the date of a patent, and not less than two years after the commencement of this section, any person may apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for an order declaring that the patented article or process is not manufactured or carried on to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth. (2.) If, on the hearing of the application, the
Court is satisfied that the patented article or process is manufactured or carried on exclusively or mainly outside the Commonwealth, then, subject to the provisions of this section, and unless the patentee proves that the article or process is manufactured or carried on to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth, or gives satisfactory reasons why the article or process is not so manufactured or carried on, it shall make the order applied for, to take effect either -
forthwith ; or
at the expiration of such reasonable time as is specified in the order, unless in the meantime it is shown to the satisfaction of the Court that the patented article or process is manufactured or carried on to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth :
Provided that no such order shall be made which is at variance with any treaty, convention, arrangement, or engagement with anyforeign country or part of the King’s Dominions. (3.) If, within the time specified in the order, the patented article or process is not manufactured or carried on to an adequate extentin the Commonwealth, but the patentee gives satisfactory reasons why it is not so manufactured or carried on, the’Court may make a further order extending the time so specified for any specified time not exceeding twelve months. (4.) From and after the time when an order under sub-section (2) of this section takes effect, the patent shall not be deemed to be infringed by the manufacture or carrying on in the Commonwealth of the patented article or process, or by the vending withinthe Commonwealth of the patented article made within the Commonwealth. (5.) If at any time after the making of an order under sub-section (2) of this section the Court is satisfied that the patented article or process is not manufactured or carried on in the Commonwealth by any other person than the patentee, and that the patentee is manufacturing it or carrying it on to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth, the Court may in its discretion, if it thinks it just so to do, revoke the order, which shall thenceforth cease to have effect. (6.) In any case in which the Court is empowered by this section to make an order under sub-section (2) thereof, it may, in its discretion, if it thinks it just so to do, instead of making such an order, order the patentee to grant a compulsory licence to the applicant on such terms as the Court thinks just. (7.) In any proceedings under this sectionthe Court may make such order as to costs as it thinks just, and may order the applicant to give such security as it thinks just for the costs of the proceedings and of any appeal therefrom, and, in default of such security being given within the time specified by the order, the proceedings or appeal shall be deemed to be abandoned.”
– I think that the Committee is entitled to some explanation from the AttorneyGeneral in respect of this amendment. The clause as it stands deals with patents that are not worked within the Commonwealth. This clause takes new power to compel the manufacture of patents.
– I do not see a quorum present.(Quorum formed.)
– I am not satisfied with the reasons that have been given for making the change. The Bill, as originally introduced, proposed that the Commissioner should hearappeals in the first instance, subject, of course, to appeal to a higher Court. I see no objection to the conditions laid down in the clause in reference to the manufacture of patents in Australia; but the proposal to vest the powers in the Supreme Court or the High Court will only place greater difficulties than now exist in the way of inventors. An appeal to the higher courts is a very expensive luxury, and will completely shut out the poor man. As I understand it, the whole policy of this patent law is the simplification and cheapening of the processes by which a patent can be obtained.
– This Bill reduces the fees.
– But the proposal removes the power from the Commissioner, and compels those interested to have recourse to the ordinary expensive legal machinery. No doubt those who have large vested interests will find such a provision convenient.; but we must not forget that there is a large number of people of small means who will never be able to afford the money necessary to protect their interests before the higher tribunals. In my opinion, the power ought to be left with the Commissioner, always, of course, subject to appeal. The original proposal was very much more in the interests of the manufacturing community generally ; and I can see no justification for the drastic alteration suggested.
.- Apparently the principle of the proposed amendment has been accepted, and the only question is whether the power shall be given to the Supreme Court and the High Court. Personally, I am in favour of the cheaper and more expeditious method. I should like to ask the Attorney-Generalwhether representations have been made from England in this matter. I have seen several references in the English newspapers to the fact that the Chambers of Commerce at Home have requested the Colonial Office to direct the Governor-General to see that amendments are made in this measure, relieving English patentees from the necessity of manufacturing in Australia. If there have been such representations, and they have influenced the change of front, I think the Committee should know the facts. However, from whatever direction the pressure, if any, has been exerted, the effect is the same.
– I urge that the Commissioner should have power to settle all these questions, though, of course, if two millionaires desire to go to law let them have their appeal. Inventors, however, are generally poor men; and I have in my possession now a list of constituents of mine who have perfected little inventions, but who are not able to get patents; and if these men have to go to a Supreme Court or the High Court, their case is hopeless. One advantage of the United States law is that, although there are 90,000,000 people there, the poorest can get his patent, though whether he can defend it when he gets it is another matter. There are lots of cases in which wealthy men or corporations steal patents, and, having made millions out of them, leave the owners to fight the matter in the Courts. For instance, Mr. Barker, who invented the endless chain pump, although he got a decision in his favour in the New York Court, and in the United States District Court, was defeated in the Ohio Court; and he never made a penny, simply because he could not appeal to the United States Supreme Court. As a matter of fact, it was not Westinghouse who invented the brake, but a man called O’Brien, and all the profit went to the former simply because O’Brien could not afford to fight his cause in the Courts. The honorable member for Corio is an able lawyer, anxious for business in the Courts, but he is prepared to adopt the cheaper method, which I and others favour. I can only say that, personally, if I had to fight a big law case over a patent, I should let the patent go.
– I am only too glad that honorable members have asked for an explanation, which, in the brief time allowed, I shall endeavour to give. I had a lot of information on my notes in case it was called for.
– Why not postpone the clause?
– I should gladly do so if I thought there was any matter of substance at the bottom of it. I have had no recommendation sent to me from any official quarter as to what should be done, but I did read in the English papers, and in some of the debates of the House of Commons, rather complacent suggestions made by chambers of manufactures, and some representatives apparently in sympathy with them throughout the United Kingdom, that we should forsooth allow reciprocity before they had established it by Act of Parliament in connexion with the working provisions of their Act. This would simply mean that our market would be flooded. I know what I am speaking of, and have discussed the matter, in my Department. I have seen only one man from England, and he, I believe, is connected with the Board of Trade. No official recommendations were made, but he was out here representing, I understand, large commercial concerns in some matters.
– Were there no recommendations made through the GovernorGeneral ?
– No. Senator Pulsford drew attention in another place to the possibility of reciprocity between Germany, France, Canada, and other places in connexion with the working of patents. If the people in England want reciprocity, let them put it on their statute-book there, and we will consider it, but at present it would simply cause a flooding of our markets with patented imports without a corresponding benefit to us in those of the United Kingdom. The reason an appeal is allowed direct to the High Court is that there may be only one hearing of a matter which may disclose the whole of a man’s business in relation to a patent.
The provision at present is that the case goes before the Commissioner, and if there is anything in the appeal for revocation it would almost certainly go before the Supreme Court of the State, or the High Court. After a hearing before the Commissioner lasting, perhaps, for two months, and bringing in the whole question of production abroad, the reasons why production is greater abroad, and the reasons why local consumption is not adequate there is certain to be an appeal to a Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court, and the whole thing is gone over again. I, therefore, thought it would be better in the interests of economy to have the best tribunal appealed to at once.
– Why not make the same provision then in the case of applications for the granting of patents?
– When you are granting a patent you are granting simply a dead instrument which gives no idea of the volume of trade. A’ man gets his monopoly, and up to then mav have produced nothing but a model. There are no disclosures to the public, because specifications are protected up to a certain point. But when you come to deal with an application for revocation, it is not a Question of the plan upon which production mav take place, but a question of the total operations of a man’s business here and abroad. I know that that has led in England in some cases to very extensive inquiries, and it struck me that the sense of the Committee would be far better met by providing that in matters of such great importance application may be made direct to the Court.
– I draw attention to the lack of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– We have not slavishly followed the English model, but have endeavoured to improve the clauses. In order to save expense, I also put in this clause a provision that, where a case for allowing manufacture without liability to p” action for infringement has not been made out, but a prima facie case has been made out for a compulsory licence, the Court may offer the remedy of a compulsory licence, instead of sending the man back again to make another application and commence de novo. That provision is not made in the English Act or elsewhere. The Court is the body to deal with it, and not the Commissioner. The matter first goes before the Commissioner to see if there is a prima facie case to send on, but the Commissioner does not adjudicate. I have acted throughout with a view to economize expense, and therefore with the same motive as is actuating those honorable members who have been criticising these provisions. My wish is to get matters of great importance decided at once by the final tribunal. In England, under this novel provision, I believe there havebeen in the majority of cases appeals to the Courts. In the leading’ case of Hatschek’s patent, there was an appeal from the Comptroller, who, from the volume of business, is a more important official even than our Commissioner, and in fact almost a judicial personage. There have been appeals from him in many cases,, and his decision, in some, has been reversed. That sort of thing completely upsets people, and causes an immense amount of expense, and therefore I think that on the whole the provision which I have made is the better and cheaper one.
.- The AttorneyGeneral has not touched upon another point. In the original clause as passed by the Senate, the term of four years after the date of the patent appeared, as it does in this new clause, but it provided for working “ not less than one year after the commencement of this Act,” whereas the Attorney-General proposes “ not less than two years.” Will that not allow a possibility of delay for six years ?
– I did not mention that matter, because I had not time. I inserted “two years,” because many remonstrances had” been made in regard to the one-year provision being insufficient. It was said by patent agents and others that in manycases it would be impossible for a man to commence working in that time.
– ‘Would not the man get six years’ grace?
– He might in some cases, from the time his patent had been taken out in the past. Even if “two years ,r is not put in, there is power to extend the time, and applications are generally made for that extension.
.- As the life of a patent is only about fourteenyears at the outside, why should six yearsbe allowed? I do not think the AttorneyGeneral should have made the alteration.
– I still think there are a large number of cases that could be dealt with by the Commissioner much more cheaply than by the Court. I admit that where big interests are at stake they will probably be fought out in the higher Courts.
– The point is that even in what the honorable member calls the small cases they will not be satisfied without a second hearing.
– That argument might apply to every other case, and every other Court.
– These are special cases.
– I do not see that they are much more special than a large number of others. I do not agree that certain cases must be sent direct to the High Court, simply because there is likely to be an appeal to the High Court in any case. This provision may mean a saving in some big cases, but will cause large expense in many instances where the matter could be dealt with bv the Commissioner without appeal. To test the Committee, I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ High Court or the Supreme Court “ with a viewto insert in lieu thereof the word “ Commissioner.”
.- I have circulated a new clause which bears on the matter. I understand that the object of the honorable member for Calare is to simplify the proceedings, and give every one who has got a patent a chance. I should like to see no appeal allowed to the HighCourt against the Commissioner’s decision. My experience of the High Court is that it may be very high in justice, and very high in law, but it is also very high in costs. I spent, three afternoons there recently at a cost of £200, and my barrister told me that if I had gone on with my case, which he said that nothing could prevent me from winning, it would have cost me £1,500. My vote in this House will always be given to stop appeals to the High Court where we have a competent officer appointed bv this Parliament to decide cases. I shall vote for the amendment.
– I hope the amendment will not be carried, but if the honorable member for Calare wishes to move it I would suggest that he move to insert the words, “ the Commissioner or “ before “ the High Court or the Supreme Court.” That will give the option.
Amendment of the amendment amended accordingly.
.- The effect of the amendment as suggested by the Attorney-General would be that either of the parties could compel the other to go to the High Court. It would be better to make it compulsory that the application should go to the Commissioner first.
– Better take the option.
– But then one of the parties may be compelled to go to the High Court against his wish. If A wishes to go to the Commissioner, and B to the High Court, can B compel A? The honorable member for Calare wishes to limit expenses. There are two parties to an action. Can the one who wishes the case to be taken before the Commissioner of Patents insist upon that course being followed ?
– The applicant has the choice.
– What about the patentee?
– He can appeal.
– But he can do that now.
– I should like to know whether the poor man will be enabled to insist upon the case being taken before the Commissioner first. It is the poor who are the inventors. The boodleiers get rich by stealing from them.
Question- That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Mr. Thomas Brown’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 17 (Amendment of Second Schedule of Principal Act).
– I proposeto ask the Committee to negative this and the succeeding clause for reasons which I have given. The Senate proposes to reduce the sealing fee from £5 to £3 and to increase the renewal fee from£5 to £12. It is impossible to make any estimate as to how this will work out on which we can place reliance, but I believe that it would mean a loss in revenue of over £2,000 a year.
Clause 18 negatived.
Amendments (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the following new clauses be inserted : - “6a. After section sixty-three of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - 63a. - (i.) Where the same applicant has put in two or more provisional specifications for inventions which are cognate or modifications one of the other, and has obtained thereby concurrent provisional protection for the same, and the Commissioner is of opinion that the whole of such inventions are such as to constitute a single invention and may properly be included in one patent, he may accept one complete specification in respect of the whole of such applications and grant a single patent thereon. (2.) Such patent shall bear the date of the earliest of such applications, but, in considering the validity of the same and for the purpose of the provisions of this Act with respect to oppositions to the grant of patents, the Court “or the Commissioner, as the case may be, shall have Tegard to the respective dates of the provisional specifications relating to the several matters claimed or included therein.’ “
After clause 14, insert the following clauses : - “ 14a. After section ninety-one of the Prin cipal Act the following section is inserted : - 91a. Where any person claiming to be the patentee of an invention, by circulars, advertisements, or otherwise, threatens any other person with any legal proceedings or liability in respect of any alleged infringement of the patent, any person aggrieved thereby may bring an action against him, and may obtain an injunction against the continuance of such threats, and may recover such damages (if any) as he has sustained thereby, if the alleged infringement to which the threats related was not in fact an infringement of any legal rights of the person making such threats.
Provided that this section shall not apply if the person making such threats with due diligence commences and prosecutes anaction for infringement of his patent’ “ 14b. Section one hundred and seven of the
Principal Act is amended by adding after the words ‘ describe himself as a patent attorney ‘ the words ‘ or as a patent agent or as an agent for obtaining patents.’ “
– The use of the term “Patent Attorney” does not imply that the person referred to must have a legal training.
Proposed new clauses agreed to.
.- It has been brought under my notice that a great many hard cases have occurred through persons having patents under State Acts losing them by omitting to renew under, the Commonwealth Act. Can the AttorneyGeneral see his way to accept a provision which would rectify matters so far as they are concerned ? I understand that a large number of persons are in this unfortunate position. I should like to see justice done to them. Their only fault is that they have not seen to the official registration of their patents according to law. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
After section 85b sub-section (7) insert - 85b. The foregoing section (and sub-sections) shall also apply to all State Patents which may have become void owing to like circumstances since the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Had I known that this Bill would be brought on to-day I should have been prepared to cite a good many instances in support of my contention. It is useless, however, to delay the Committee further at this stage. I ask the Ministry, if they cannot accept the amendment, in justice to endeavour to do something to help these people, if not in this, at least in a future measure.
– The subject-matter of this proposed new clause is provided for to some extent in the principal Act. . An application may be made within a reasonable time for a patent which, by some inadvertency, has lapsed, and if a satisfactory explanation can be given the patent may be restored. We have made provision for that in the measure that has already been passed.
– That is only in regard to Commonwealth patents.
– I am afraid that we could not go back. The Act has been in force since 1904, and to go back to what occurred iri connexion with State patents would mean an almost endless inquiry. I do not think the honorable member’s clause would be justifiable. All these matters relate to trade and monopolies. Fresh appliances are constantly being invented, and the honorable member’s proposal might work unfairly in respect of them. We have already provided that application for restoration shall be made quickly.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- I shall not press a further amendment which I have circulated, as I think that moved by the honorable member for Calare, and accepted by the Government, will meet the object I have in view.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Cook who, owing to public business of an urgent character, is unable to be present, I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - i6a. After section one hundred and twenty of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 120a. It shall not be lawful, in any contract of service made after the commencement of this section, to insert any clause or condition the effect of which would be to deprive the employee of the benefit of the patent of any invention made by him during the” term of his service under the contract, or of the right to patent for his own benefit any such invention, and any such clause or condition in any such contract of service shall be null and void.”
This clause is to secure to employes the benefits of inventions which they have made during their term of service, and which are being used by their employers. It is a reasonable proposition, and I ask the AttorneyGeneral to accept it.
– I hope not.
– Because a man so situated often makes use of a previous invention, and of his employer’s secrets to perfect his own invention.
– Not necessarily. I do not know what is the position in the other States, but in New South Wales the Railways Commissioners require any of their employes who invents any appliance to make them the first offer of it free of charge.
– Such an invention would be discovered by the employ^ while in the service of the Commissioners and under their training.
– Would the honorable member go so far as to say that a man who discovered an invention while in the service of another should not be allowed to patent it? If that were the law the scope of patents would be seriously limited. Many patents are the discoveries of workmen who must of necessity obtain their information in the course of their daily employment.
– Such a system as that to which the honorable member objects simply discourages brains.
– It is unjust to employes. It enables employers to secure the advantage of inventions created as the result of the intelligence of their men.
– I think that the same system obtains in connexion with the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
– Perhaps so. This new clause would prevent such an injustice, and I ask the Attorney-General to accept it.
– I am very glad that the honorable member has called attention to this matter, because, if there were anything in the nature of an attempt to exploit a man’s brains and labour on the part of persons having more than moral suasion over him we should be glad to remedy it. I have more than a doubt, however, as to whether the proposed new clause would not ‘ be regarded as part of the law of contracts and as not relating to patents. If it were it would be a matter for State regulation.
– The contract relates to the employment, and not to the discovery.
– The particular kind of property is immaterial ; whether it is a patent or anything else, is of no .concern. We are dealing in the Bill only with the conditions under which patents may be granted, but the honorable member’s pro- posal goes further. A man has a piece of property, and by his contract of service has to do a certain thing. That comes under the State law. I am not quite certain on the point, but if we agreed to such a provision as this we ought tomake it reciprocal.
– Employés in America are encouraged.
– Yes, and it is wise to encourage them. We should obtain far more of that co-operation upon which society should be based, if employers recognised that a man, who has devised something which his pocket will not enable him to carry out, ought to be considered. If the honorable member will not press his proposed new clause, I will promise him to look into the matter, and determine whether on the merits something should not be done bv means of a specific Bill.
– I trust that the Government will accept the proposed new clause. In the United States of America the most humble man in a factory, if he shows any capacity to improve the machinery employed therein, has a room set apart for his use, and is given the assistance of others. Within a week very often he is running the business. In England such a man would be dismissed as dangerous.
– I know a man named Mann who was dismissed from a factory in England because he showed some ability. The manufacturer thought that there was danger of his competing against him. He went to the United States, and is now a partner in a big firm in Patterson, New Jersey. Years ago the proprietor of a large factory in England used to manufacture clothing for export to Australia. His Colonial agents wrote to him again and again urging him to make the trousers which he supplied, a little longer. As these representations were disregarded, the agent went Home, and told the manufacturer that the trouble was that Austratralians were about an inch taller than the average Englishman.
– This is a case of “ breeches “ of the patent law.
– That is so. The reply of the manufacturer was, “ The factory has been in existence for 200 years, and we have always cut our trousers the same length. We cannot make them any longer, but go back and endeavour to shorten the Australians.” It is that sort of thing that is causing England to-day to be at the tail of the great economic and industrial race. In the United States and Germany, factory employes are encouraged to improve the machinery where they are employed, and that is why England today is running only third. It is a pity that the Government are not prepared to accept such a progressive and democratic proposition as this.
.- I am glad to have the assurance of the AttorneyGeneral that this matter will be looked into. I have heard many complaints on the part of employes of the Railway Department of New South Wales in regard to this very question. I am speaking subject to correction, but I understand that all inventions on the part of employés have to be offered to the Department before they are patented, so that the Department may avail itself of them if it chooses to do so, and make any grant that it thinks adequate. I have heard of cases where the Department has granted £10 to an employé in respect of an invention that has saved it hundreds of pounds. The question is of great importance to the employés of the Railway Department of New South Wales, and I am sure that the Attorney-General will take action if he finds that something can be done.
– As the Attorney-General has said, this is a very doubtful proposal from the point of view of its constitutionality, and he is, therefore, unable to accept it. He has said, however, that he entirely approves of the object which the honorable member for Calare has in view, and that he will look into the matter.
– How much further forward will that carry us.
– The Attorney-General has made a promise that he will look into the proposal, and, if it be constitutional, consider how best to make it law.
– We have done something to obtaining this promise from the Government, and, in the circumstances, I think it would be useless to press this proposed new clause to a division. I wish to point out, however, to the Attorney-General that this is a standing grievance among a large section of the community, and more particularly among employés of the Railway
Department of New South Wales. I know the case of a man employed in the New South Wales Railway Department who completed an invention which was the means of saving a large sum of money. He was taken off his regular work to supervise the installation ; but he was not allowed to claim any benefit ; and, when he went back to his regular work, his only reward was a reduction of 6d. a day in his pay. The worst feature was that the invention was practically claimed by his superior officers; and it was only years afterwards, when a Minister came into power who knew something of the matter, that justice wasdone. The Railway Department discourages inventions, with the result that employes, instead of taking out patents within the Commonwealth, go to America. We have been unable to induce the Commissioners to altar their policy; and I think that this is a matter to which the Attorney-General, who, I am sure, desires to encourage Australian invention, might turn his attention with a view to future legislation.
.- I have some personal knowledge of the ways of officials in the Railway and other Departments ; and the way in which the ingenious employes have been treated for many years is a standing disgrace. If, by any means, some of the superior officers, through whom all communications pass, obtain any knowledge of an invention they patent it, with the result that there are now many men who have made valuable discoveries, but who are simply waiting until they have saved enough to enable them to take out the patent elsewhere. I do not know whether I understand the honorable member far Corio, but I gathered from his interjection that, in his opinion, an employer has the right to the fruit of an employé’s brain. I know that there are some of the employing class who have that idea; but I fancy we are too civilized now not to admit that, beyond engaging to do certain work, the employé is under no obligation. I knowof several intelligent, smart men who are guarding secrets of their own, with a view to exploiting them to their own advantage in the future, simply because they receive no encouragement from the Railway, Department.
. -I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion. I confess that I am in a rather awkward position, seeing that I am simply acting for the honorable member who deserves the credit for this proposal, but who is called away on public business. However, on the representations of the Government, and in view of the feeling of the Committee, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Proposed new clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to very sincerely and heartily thank honorable members for the sacrifice of their Saturday, and for the large amount of practical and valuable work they have enabled us to do. I am sure that if the session closes, as I think it will, with content to all, in regard to the practical legislation we have been dealing with, and about which there is no difference of principle or opinion, we shall not regret that, even under pressure of circumstances, putting aside the ordinary rest they are entitled to claim, honorable members have done justice to the inventors and patentees of Australia.
.- I am sure that we all owe some thanks to the officers of the House after sittings so long and arduous. I ask the Prime Minister whether he cannot give ten minutes to a motion setting forth the good work that has been done by the women voters in Australia, so that it may be sent Home as an example to those in the Old Land, and as an incentive to abolish the present barbaric franchise there. I feel sure that if the Prime Minister were to submit such a motion, it would be passed in a few minutes, with the assent of every member of the House. It is simply a record of the splendid work done in our community by the women voters; and I am sure that it could not fail to have a most desirable effect in Great Britain.
.- I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, in view of the extra hours that have been worked by the attendants of the House, you will take into favorable consideration the question of recommending some extra allowance to them?
.- Will the Prime Minister kindly tell us what business he intends to proceed with on Monday, and also what business he hopes to conclude before the prorogation?
– In reply to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I propose on Monday to take the Estimates; and, if time permit, the Bills of Exchange Bill, Officers Compensation Bill, and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, roughly in the order in which they stand. Mr. Speaker will, of course, reply to the question of the honorable member for Lang. As to the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne, I may say that a similar request should be made in another place ; I am perfectly prepared to read most of the proposed motion as a statement which I believe to be true. The Leader for the Government in another place will take like action. For my own part; I cordially subscribe to the statement that - this House testifies to the facts that after sixteen years’ experience of Woman Suffrage in various parts of Australasia and nine years’ experience in the Commonwealth, the reform has justified the hopes of its supporters.
As foreseen by its advocates, its effects have been : -
Australasian experience convinces this House that to adopt Woman Suffrage is simply to apply to the political sphere that principle of Government that secures the best results in the domestic sphere, the mutual co-operation of men and women for the individual and general welfare.
That, I think, expresses the opinion of this House.
– Before putting the question, I desire to say, in reply to the honorable member for Lang, that the extra duties to which he referred, and which are most cheerfully rendered by the officers of this House, are recognised in the holidays allowed to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091204_reps_3_54/>.