4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Bounty - Royal Commission
– Has the Prime Minister yet replied to the communication of the Premier of Queensland regarding the bounty on sugar?
– No. I have merely acknowledged the letter.
– I wish to know from th» Attorney-General if he has read the press report of yesterday’s proceedings in the High Court regarding the Sugar Commission, and the statement of the Chief Justice -
We are bound to conclude that the Commission, so far as it can, intend to enforce the production of books. It cannot do so by selling them, but it can enforce its order by punishment with such fines that the company would bc bound to produce the books. If the contention were disclaimed that would alter the position.
Later, the Chief Justice said -
After the discussion, I should say the Commission would act as reasonable persons would, and not ask questions that are not material.
Is the Attorney-General aware of any questions asked by the members of the Royal Commission during their inquiry into the sugar industry, which were immaterial, and does he intend on behalf of the Government to ask the counsel. appearing for the Crown for an unreserved and unqualified decision by the Court respecting the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to Royal Commissions ?
– My attention lias been called to a report of the proceedings in the High Court, and I have read the remarks of the Chief Justice. The position taken up by the counsel for the Crown, under instructions from me, was that the Government desired to ascertain whether the Royal Commissions Act is or is not valid.
Subject to the validity of that Act, the Commonwealth declines to limit its rights, and insists on exercising any or all of its powers, and the Commission will ask any question that it thinks relevant and proper. lt is not our intention to recede from that position. The Commission will, of course, please itself as to the questions it asks, and should it ask an irrelevant or immaterial question, it will be for the witness to take exception to the ques: tion, and to follow whatever course, subject to the law, he may think right. The Government is only concerned with the validity of the Act. If the High Court declares the Act to be valid, the Commission will be able to ask what questions it pleases, subject to the scope of the Commission and the Act. It is absurd to suppose that immaterial or irrelevant questions would be asked by the Commission. I cannot believe that the Commission would ask such questions. The Crown does not admit that its rights are limited in any way, either by the Constitution or by the Statute.
– I invite the attention of the Prime Minister to the following newspaper paragraph -
Mr. Atkinson, the Chief Inspector of Mines, who has been at Newcastle inquiring into the case of the fire at Pelaw-Main mine, returned to Sydney to-day. He states that he found the explosion was due to the use of the ex- plosive called “Arkite,” although it was used y a qualified worker. When the explosion took place the fire-damp was ignited, and the coal being of a bituminous nature, the fire quickly assumed serious proportions.
To safeguard life and property, and encourage the manufacture in Australia of suitable explosives, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of establishing a testing ‘ station within the Commonwealth ?
– The question has been before me at various times. I think that the time has arrived when a Board or an institution for the testing of public explosives might be established. Nearly all explosives deteriorate in transit, and the Commonwealth might well consider the safety and welfare of its people by providing for a testing institute. The matter will have serious and favorable consideration, especially now that the New South Wales Chief Inspector of Mines, who has had great experience, has drawn attention to a specific case in which injury has been done by a defective explosive.
– The following paragraph appears in the seventh annual report of the Executive Committee of the Australian National Defence League -
It is well to point out here that the Prime Minister has recently stated in Parliament that his Government generally accepts, and is pre- pared to - carry into effect in due course, all Admiral Henderson’s far-reaching recommendations for the creation of a powerful Australian Fleet.
Did the Prime Minister make such a statement, and does the Government intend to carry out all Admiral Henderson’s farreaching recommendations ?
– The Minister of Defence has given a full and. detailed t statement of the Government policy, wh’ich is available in Hansard.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question which arises out of an answer that .he gave to an inquiry put to him by the honorable member for Richmond. The honorable member asked him whether the Government had committed themselves to the whole of Admiral Henderson’s scheme. The Prime Minister’s reply was that we should find the answer to that question set forth in a statement which was made by the Minister of Defence. I wish to know whether the following represents the Government view upon this question -
The- position which the Government take up with regard to the scheme and its commitments is this : we say that if Parliament is going to adopt the scheme, complete the naval bases, and build the ships proposed in the seven years? period, the amounts which I have mentioned indicate what it will be called. upon to vote. It will be for Parliament to say each year whether it is prepared to vote them.
That is the only statement which has, so far, been made upon this subject, and I wish to know whether it represents all that the Government are committed to in connexion with that scheme extending over a period of twenty-two years?
– A fuller statement than that quoted by the honorable member - has been made in another place. The Government not only pin their faith to Admiral’ Henderson’s scheme generally, so far as it goes, but there is no limit to their expenditure upon the naval and military defence of this country which necessity and unforeseen circumstances may demand. - An unlimited amount will be spent should that course be considered necessary. The Ministry will proceed with an adequate sea defence at the earliest possible moment if they have the honour of continuing to govern the country.
– Seeing that large sums of money are being expended in country towns on the buying of land and the erection of bank premises, and that a duplication of staffs is occurring, I ask the Prime Minister if he thinks it too late to endeavour to bring about the amalgamation of the Commonwealth and State Savings Banks, to prevent unnecessary burdens being placed on the taxpayers.
– I hope it is not too late even now to make such arrangements with the State Governments. The proposal I made to them was of such a nature that I wondered then, and wonder still more now, why it was not accepted. We have still an open mind, and if the matter can be satisfactorily arranged, we shall be glad to arrange it. In the meantime, we must proceed with the operation of our own bank, because we have been challenged in the matter.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General a question without notice, referring to the decision of the High Court upholding the appeal of the shipping companies in the Vend case. Have the Government considered what action should be taken in the matter, and, if so, what action do they propose to take?
– In reply to the honorable member, I have to say that the Government have not come to any decision in regard to this matter. I am availing myself of an opportunity to read His Honour’s judgment. When I have done that I shall be in a position to say whether it is the intention of the Government to appeal or not.
– With further reference to a matter I brought under his notice on Friday last, I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question concerning a statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong, to the effect that, as Minister of Trade and Customs in. a previous Administration, he had had prepared all the data necessary to enable a general scheme of unemployment in surance, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, and some other forms of social insurance to be introduced. The Minister of Trade and Customs said he would look up the papers in the meantime, and asked me to again remind him of the matter to-day. I ask the honorable gentleman now to say to what extent such information had been prepared, and whether it is correct that sufficient information on the subject was in the Department to enable a scheme of the kind referred to to be prepared and tabled straight away?
– The honorable member for Kooyong did not say what has been attributed to him.
– It is not correct to say that any scheme was prepared for any general system of social insurance.
– The honorable member for Kooyong did not say so.
– I said on last Friday, in reply to the honorable member for Cook, that I was not present when the honorable member for Kooyong made his statement regarding the matter., I have since looked up a letter which the honorable gentleman, as Minister of Trade and Customs, sent to Mr. J. H. Taylor, corresponding secretary of the M.U.I.O.O. F., Melbourne, stating that he had been giving some consideration to the question of insuring workers against unemployment, and that he would be glad of the benefit of Mr. Taylor’s experience, and any suggestions that he might care to make on the subject generally, more especially in regard to the following questions -
Mr. Taylor furnished a memorandum inreply on the 15th September, 1909, dealing with the matter of unemployment insurance only. On the 27th October, 1909, the Minister of Trade and Customs addressed a letter to Mr. W. Campbell, secretary Iron Trades Council, Melbourne, in similar terms to the one sent to Mr. Taylor. Mr. Campbell replied that he would endeavour to “furnish a report as desired by the Minister. The report does not, however, appear to have come to hand. In August, 1909, the honorable member for Darling Downs suggested that the Minister should communicate with the ‘Imperial Statistical Office, Berlin, for a copy of a publication dealing with the subject of insurance against unemployment. In response to a letter dated 1st September, 3909, the Imperial Statistical Office, Berlin, forwarded a copy of a publication containing particulars of the matter in “ foreign countries and in the German Empire.” The Government Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, during his visit to Europe, in j 909* ‘ collected information on the subject of social insurance, which was published as a special report to the present Government in September, 1910.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question without notice, having reference to . the statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong last week, when he said that the late Government gave very full attention to this matter of social insurance, and that it was a matter on which he had collected information for the framing of a Bill. I ask the Minister now whether he has given any instruction for the preparation of such a Bill, or whether there has been prepared by him any Bill covering a comprehensive policy of social insurance ?
– I have not given any instruction for the preparation of a Bill dealing with social insurance. No memorandum on the matter was left in the Department by my predecessor. The only thing I could find was a report by Mr. Taylor, which deals with unemployment insurance only. The only report dealing with social insurance is one prepared by Mr. Knibbs, as the result of information he collected when in Europe, attending a Statistical Conference. After representations had been made to me by Mr. Knibbs, it was on my suggestion to the present Cabinet that that report was printed. It is not the intention of the Government, so far as I know, to introduce any Bill dealing with social insurance this session.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that, by request, a report was presented by Mr. Knibbs on insurance in Germany, and generally on in surance in relation to old age, sickness, and unemployment ? I might be permitted to explain that it was I who asked Mr. Knibbs to report, and that the report is addressed to me or the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The report happens to be addressed by Mr. Knibbs to me, and it is dated the 9th September, 1910.
– There was a previous report.
– This is the only report on social insurance of which I am aware.
– I can assure the Minister that there was a previous short report, which was the result of a conversation I had with Mr. Knibbs.
– This is the only report I know of.. I asked on Friday that everything in the Department in relation to this matter might be got together. I am not sure that there is anything in addition to what has been presented by the Department.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, sir. When I was asking the Minister of Trade and Customs, a few moments ago, as to the statements made by the honorable member for Kooyong on Thursday, I was met with ejaculations of surprise by some members of the Opposition. The amendment which the honorable member for Kooyong moved to the Maternity Allowance Bill was as follows : -
That the following words be added :- “ That the Committee on the Bill be instructed to incorporate in the Bill provision for a national insurance scheme providing for sickness, “unemployment, and medical attendance, as well as maternity, and subsidized by an appropriation to the extent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate.”
I lay stress upon the words “ immediate and adequate. ‘ ‘ In support of his proposal, the honorable gentleman said -
I submit that the only effective way of dealing with the subject with which the Bill deals is to introduce a comprehensive scheme covering it and other social questions. The last Government gave very full attention to this matter, and it was my duty to collect information for the framing of a Bill to carry into effect its policy. That information is in the possession of the Department which I was administering.
I think, sir, that that statement amply justifies the form of the question that I put to the Minister.
Electoral Rolls, New South Wales : Alleged Roll Stuffing - Population Statistics : Inter-State Transfers - Naming of Federal Capital - Government House, Sydney - Steel Rails
-I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to a. statement made by Senator Millen from a public platform in New South Wales to the effect that the number of persons on the new Commonwealth electoral rolls for that State is in excess of the number of adult persons in that State, and, if so, whether he will cause inquiry to be made?
– I have seen the statement as recorded in the press. In this morning’s newspapers, however, Mr. Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, in replying to the assertion, points out that Senator Millen is mistaken, and that, according to their own figures, we are right.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is not a fact that Mr. Knibbs’ figures, to which he has just referred in reply to the honorable member for Robertson, show that there is an excess of about 11,000 on the rolls over and above the actual number of the adult population as indicated by the Statist’s returns?
– I do not know that that is so. I have heard a lot of talk about the matter, but to me it seems to be all loose talk, without any real foundation.
– With regard to the dispute as to arrivals and departures at and from Inter- State railway stations, such as Albury, I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the Government intend to appoint special officers to check the arrivals and departures at the InterState stations?
– We have hitherto depended on the States for information in regard to the matter. If the information so supplied is wrong, the blame rests with the States, and not with the Commonwealth.
– Are the Government going to appoint any supervising officer?
– I fail to see why we should enter into their funeral.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is true, as reported in the press, that he proposes next January to christen the Federal Capital, and to lay the foundation stone? If so, will he give the House an opportunity to determine what name should be given to the Capital before he actually christens it?
– I shall be delighted to have suggestions as to the name that should be given to the Capital. The honorable member need have no doubt but that the House will be given a. show.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is now prepared to answer the question which I put to him the other day in regard to the Governor-General’s residence in Sydney?
– I will give the honorable member an answer to-morrow morning.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the report which appears in the press this morning, to the effect that a quantity of steel rails has been ordered from the Lithgow foundry, is correct, and, if so, how many tons have been ordered, and what price has been paid for them?
– It i’s correct that we have given an order; but I would ask the honorable member to wait a day or twofor the balance of the particulars relating to that order.
– I rise to give notice of a motion of censure, but I do not propose to ask the Prime Minister to adjourn the House. I beg to give notice that on Wednesday, the 2nd October, I shall move -
That an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, informing him that the Fusion known as His Majesty’s Opposition merits the censure of the House and the country -
for its failure to realize its national and constitutional obligations ;
for flagrant neglect of its duty to vote against those measures which it professes not to believe in ;
for unduly taking up the time of the
House in moving amendments-
– Order !
– which, if one may judge by the remarks
– Order ! Mr. HIGGS.- made in support thereof, ought to be put-
– Order !
– to a vote and a division recorded thereon.
-Order ! Order ! .
– Chair. Mr. HIGGS.- ‘
– Order !
– I name the honorable member for disobeying the Chair.
– (/) for its general incompetence.
– I name the honorable member for Capricornia for disobeying the Chair.
– It has been my unfortunatelot on occasions such as this to carry out the duty that devolves upon me of protecting the Chair. On every occasion I have suggested that the honorable member who has so offended should be allowed an opportunity to withdraw what he has said and to apologize to the House, and I should like that procedure to be allowed this time, sir.
– I wish to remind honorable members that they placed me in this position to conduct the business of the House in an orderly way. Unfortunately it falls to my lot at times to take extreme measures. On this occasion I have been compelled to do so; the right honorable member can see as well as every other member in the Chamber that no other course was open to me to take. If this practice goes on, and a member is allowed to get up and apologize - it does not matter for one moment on which side it is done - I can see nothing ahead but endless chaos. In the circumstances somebody must be put in a position that will stop it in some effective way, else the House will get into a state of chaos, from which it will find it very difficult in the near future to extricate itself.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like to be allowed to apologize to the House if you say that I was out of order in giving notice of my motion, and I hereby apologize to you for disobeying your ruling.
– Order I
– I now wish to raise a point of order.
– The honorable member will resume his seat. He must not understand that I gave a ruling at all. He deliberately disobeyed the Chair. He cannot excuse himself on the ground that he did not hear me. Even honorable members close to him drew his attention to the fact that I was on my feet, and it is a standing order of the Chamber that when the Speaker rises other members must remain seated.
– The Opposition made a lot of row, sir.
– The honorable member entirely disregarded the Chair. I think that on an occasion like this something more is required.
– Was I out of order, Mr. Speaker ?
– The honorable member was distinctly out of order.
– Will Mr. Speaker tell me in what respect I was out of order? I gave notice of a motion.
– Order ! The honorable member could see that when I rose I had a desire to correct him in some way, but he deliberately and distinctly disobeyed a rule of the House and disobeyed my callto order on several occasions. That in itself is sufficient to show, and the honorable member has been long enough in Parliament to know, that he was wrong in doing what he did.
– I wish to raise a point of order. I was proceeding to give notice of a motion-
– The honorable member had no right whatever to persist in that course when I intervened. The honorable member must see that if I permitted motions of that character to bebrought forward every day, the business of the House would get into a state of chaos.
– May I be allowed to say, by way of explanation, that I consider my motion was perfectly in order.
– Order I
– If you, sir, will not permit me to explain, I have no option but to allow the House to take whatever course it may deem fit.
– The honorable member must withdraw and apologize to theHouse unreservedly.If he does so, I will accept his withdrawal and apology,, but he must do that - nothing more andnothing less.
– I withdraw, and I apologize to you, sir, and to the House, for having disobeyed your ruling. But I desire to raise a point of order.
– On this occasion I will accept the honorable member’s withdrawal; but T wish the Government, and whatever Government may be in power during the time that I occupy my present office, to clearly understand that if this sort of thing occurs in the ‘future some more extreme action will have to be taken. This is the third or fourth occasion upon which it has happened, and a mere apology has been offered by the- offending honorable member. Honorable members must recognise that the business of the House cannot be conducted in that way.
– My duty, sir, is to protect you in your position in the chair, and I understand that what you have laid down is in the future to be a rule of the House, so that when once an honorable member has been named, I shall move accordingly.
– With great respect, I wish to raise a point of order. I submit that under our Standing Orders I am entitled to give notice of any motion so long as it is couched in respectful language, and that it is not within your competency to say that it is frivolous, or that the said notice is out of order. In framing my motion of censure on the Opposition, I took particular trouble, and its terms were those which were used by the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the Prime Minister and the Government.
– Do I understand that the honorable member intends to move that my ruling be disagreed with?
– I am merely raising a point of order. I have no desire to submit a motion of dissent from your ruling - I would prefer to adopt a less aggressive course if it be possible to do so. This is the first time during my parliamentary experience when the terms of any motion couched in proper language have been challenged by Mr. Speaker and ruled out of order. If you, sir, rule that I cannot give notice of that motion I must take exception to your ruling by moving that it be disagreed with.
– The motion of which the honorable member desired to give notice is out of order on the ground that it is frivolous.
– One would think that we were in the American Congress with Speaker Cannon in charge.
– If I permitted such a motion to be brought forward, I can conceive of every honorable member who may desire to say something against another honorable member, or against any section of the House, framing a motion in such a way that he would practically incorporate in it a whole speech. In such circumstances, I can see no finality to the business of the House. I am sure that the honorable member himself, on calmer reflection, will recognise that that sort of thing is not permissible.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, if any appointments are made to carry but the administration of the Maternity Allowance Bill, when passed, he will appoint women?
– The policy of this Government in relation to appointments, is to give the same opportunity to women as to men, not only in this, but in other matters. There will be no inspectoral work in connexion with this scheme. The only difference will be that women, instead of men, will sign the receipts, or write the documents. It is quite a mistake to think that there are going to be inspectors, &c, to examine. The women of the Commonwealth have the same opportunity under the Public Service Acf and the regulations as have men at the present time. I do not think that, because this is a maternity allowance, we can make an exception.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have taken into consideration the necessity for appointing some person to inquire into the rights of South Australian transferred officers, seeing that they have no right of appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and if they have decided upon such an appointment, when is it likely to be made?
– An answer to the honorable member’s question was given by the Postmaster- General the other day. I ask him to give notice of his question to my colleague the Postmaster-General.
Liverpool Manoeuvre Area - Construction of Cruisers, Destroyers, and Dredges
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether any definite arrangement has yet been arrived at in regard to the acquisition of private lands in the manoeuvre area at Liverpool?
– As regards private lands, no; but as to the general resumption of the area, I may say that the Commonwealth Government are now prepared to provide the means to enable the whole of it to be resumed for the purpose for which it was originally intended-
– By the Federal Government?
– The Commonwealth Government are to provide the means, and I think the resumption will be accomplished in a verv short time.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister why land in the Federal Territory cannot be used for a manoeuvre area, instead of the Government being called upon to buy land for the purpose near Sydney?
– The question ought really to have been addressed to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence. The Defence Department state that they require a manoeuvre area at Liverpool, and that the piece of land in question is that which they need. Knowing the Defence Department as I do, however, I have no doubt that they will need another manoeuvre area at the Federal Capital.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister lay upon the table of the House the tender and the contract in connexion with the construction of the destroyers and cruisers at the Fitzroy Dock?
– Copies of correspondence, and of the form of contract entered into, are being laid on the table.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the tenderers for dredges had to draw up the plans and specifications themselves ?
– The answers to the honorable ^ember’s questions are -
In response, on 30th July, two tenders were received : -
Negotiations have also been entered into’ with the State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria.
Tasmanian Mail Service - Postage of Letters at Railway Stations.Female Telephonists, Sydney - Wireless Station, Fremantle.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table the correspondence that has taken place between his Department and various steam-ship companies regarding the Tasmanian mail service ?
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that the Government have accepted the Combine’s tender for a mail service between Tasmania and the mainland for a further period of three years ?
– The tender of the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand and Messrs. Huddart Parker and Company has been accepted for a period of two years. I am sorry to have to say that, notwithstanding their negotiations, the Government have not been able to obtain a more satisfactory service between the mainland and Tasmania.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Week under such tender?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Melbourne-Burnie Service. - The Union Steamship Company of New Zealand - contractors.
Mr. McWILLIAMS (for Dr. Carty Salmon) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the Minister’s desire, expressed in the House, to secure uniformity of treatment regarding the late fee charged on letters posted at railway stations, he will consider the alternative of remitting the extra charge in States where it is in vogue instead of imposing it where it has not previously existed ?
– No. The imposition of a late fee is in operation in the principal countries of the world, and is necessary to avoid congestion of postings and consequent delay in the handling of correspondence.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question, without notice, with reference to the proposed increase of the number of hours to be worked by female telephonists in Sydney. What do the Government intend to do to settle the matter in dispute with expedition?
– In reply to the honorable gentleman, I may say that the hours of labour of female telephonists in Sydney have not been changed. The conditions relating to city exchanges involve upon lady telephonists the responsibility of working, if required, thirty-seven hours in each week. Owing to the unfortunate conditions of the network in Sydney, and the troublesome switchboards there, it has not been the practice to insist upon lady telephonists there working the full time. But conditions have altered so considerably in Sydney during the last few months that it is believed that there is now no special justification for continuing any difference in the hours of labour at the Sydney Exchange as compared with other city exchanges. Consequently, the girls have been called ‘ upon to work what has always been recognised as the full time, though it has not previously been insisted upon in Sydney. There is a difficulty in Sydney, not only with the Telephone Branch, but also’ in connexion with the Telegraph Branch of the Department, and it is my intention, either this afternoon or to-morrow afternoon, to go across to Sydney to look into these matters, and see if I cannot straighten out the unsatisfactory state of affairs existing there at the present time.
– Following upon the Minister’s reply, I should like to ask, without notice, whether he considers it desirable, in connexion with the proposed extension of hours of women telephonists in Sydney, that they should be called upon to perform duties from 7 o’clock in the morning? This must mean that they will have to get out of bed at 6 o’clock, and be on their way to their work shortly after that hour. Does the Minister consider that a desirable thing to ask women to do? Will the honorable gentleman, in the cir- . cumstances, take steps to see that the service in the early hours of the morning shall, in future, be carried on by men and not women?
– In reply to the honor- .. able member, I am unable to inform him as to the exact hour that is fixed for the starting of work by lady telephonists in Sydney; but the Department have laid it down that lady telephonists cannot be called upon to work at night. Men are obliged to do the work of the night shift ; and, in the circumstances, it is not unreasonable that female telephonists should be called upon to take up the work early in the morning.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in the event of his coming to the conclusion that the telephone girls in New South Wales are working too long, he will also consider the desirableness of reducing the hours of work of the girls in the Victorian branch of the Service ?
– I know of no special reason why the telephone girls in Melbourne should work longer than do the telephone girls in Sydney or Brisbane.
– Will the honorable membei treat all the States alike in this regard?
– Yes; I am going to Sydney for the special purpose of inquiring into the conditions of employment, and shall give a decision on the information thus obtained first hand.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral kindly inform the House as to the number of calls to which a girl is called upon to attend at the Sydney Telephone Exchange in an hour?
– Speaking from memory, I think that, on the old. system, the number of calls was 104 per hour, and that on the common battery it is about 140.
– If the Postmaster.General is not going over to Sydney to-day to inquire into the telephone trouble, will he send through’ an instruction to suspend the order of the roster until he has time to visit that city with a view to making the necessary inquiries?
– The answer to the honorable member is that I have made up my mind to go across to Sydney to-night.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is true - as stated in the newspapers to-day - that the wireless station at Fremantle is now open for public business?
Freezing Works, Portland - Angora and Ostrich Rearing
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has the Commonwealth imposed any restriction upon the said export?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: - 1 and 2. The export from British South Africa of Angora rams and ewes is prohibited except to South African Colonies, &c, which have enacted similar prohibitive legislation.
t Also 200, valued at £350, shipped to German South-west Africa. §Also 599, valued at ^584, shipped to British East Africa.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Referring to questions of the honorable member for Wentworth, answered on the 14th- August, will the Minister state - i.- Referring to question j, previously asked, whether it is not a matter for the Patent Attorney to determine how and in what manner his signature is submitted to the Patents Department, end whether by his own hand or that of ‘ his Attorney?
Will rubber-stump impressions be recognised as the signature of a Patent Attorney whether made by his own hand or that of his delegate ?
Have not complaints been received by the Attorney-General of hardship under the substituted practice as compared with that of a satisfactory seven years’ trial?
What is the difference between the Attorney of a Patent Attorney under power of appointment of principal and the Attorney of the Patent Attorney’s said principal?
Was not the substituted practice retrospective in that it involved the return to Patent Attorneys of numerous papers for re-signing; and, if so, how many of such?
What was the fixed date of the coming into force of the substituted practice?
In what way was the old practice unsatisfactory or prejudicial to the Patents Department?
Did the Commissioner of Patents ever express any disapproval of the old practice, or did the Examiner of Patents object to same?
What has been gained by the change of practice?
Will he approve of a new regulation giving Patent Attorneys the same privilege in regard to the Patent Office as are possessed by Solicitors in reference to the Supreme Court?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence - Construction of Destroyers and Cruiser at the Fitzroy Dock, New South Wales - Papers re. Public Service Act - Postmaster-General’s Department - Appointment of H. M. Cox as Assistant Engineer, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Western Australia.
.- I move-
That on Wednesdays and Thursdays in each week the House shall, unless otherwise ordered, meet at half-past Ten o’clock a.m.
The purpose of the motion is to secure a. greater amount of time for the discussion of the important business that has yet to come before the House, and to dispose of the business now before it. Most honor able members will desire to see the end of the session before the end of the year, but, of course, the Government have stated quite clearly that they must come to the endof the business, even if it is necessary to continue the session in the new year.
– Yes, but what business ?
– The business outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech. For instance, we have the Navigation Bill before us.
– But what business in addition to that which is already on the notice-paper ?
– We have the Referenda Bills, and the Inter-State Commission Bill, all very large measures. Then there is the Tasmania Grant Bill, the motions for the redistribution of electorates, the Lighthouses Bill, the Bounties Act Amendment Bill, Old-age Pensions Bill, Judiciary Bill, and a Commonwealth law dealing generally with insurance. There are sundry other measures mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, such as the Public Service Bill, Post and Telegraph Bill, Trade Marks Bill, Quarantine Bill, Customs Bill, and Bills relating to bankruptcy, banking, copyright, transferred properties, &c. I thinkit would be advisable that the general Banking Bill should be drafted and submitted to the House, and allowed to remain over for consideration and criticism. I think that is a very wise course. Some Ministries take the course of sending a Bill out privately to the people concerned. I prefer that it should be laid on the table of the House, and made public to every one. There can then be no complaint about it being submitted privately, and getting into the hands of the public before it comes before Parliament.
– How many innocents are you going to slaughter?
– I hope none.
– Every Parliament slaughters a good many.
– That is, unfortunately, true. I believe the course I am taking is the best way to do the work - in the daytime, if we can. Honorable members will see that we are not yet proposing to sit on Mondays. If it is necessary, we may annex that day also. In the meantime we shall begin moderately by sitting early on Wednesday and Thursday.
.- One admits the necessity, towards the close of the session, of taking precautions to permit the necessary time to be devoted to measures with which we have yet to deal, but the step is taken earlier than usual in the present instance. The objection that would be taken in ordinary circumstances need not be taken in this session and in present circumstances. A proposal of this kind should be conditioned by a clear indication that members who commence their legislative work at half-past 10 in the morning will not be kept after about the same hour at night.
– If reasonable progress is made, I shall certainly agree.
– If the Ministry gets all the progress it. wants, of course it will consent to an adjournment.
– Reasonable progress. Mr. DEAKIN. - Ministers are to be the judges of what is reasonable.
– I have been blamed for being easy-going.
– More often for not going easily. However, this is a material point. I am sure the Prime Minister agrees that, whatever may be the quantum of the work done after 10 or n at night, it almost invariably and often seriously suffers in quality.
– But sometimes the House does not begin to do any business till then.
– That is most unfortunate. The weariness of many members, and the exhausted atmosphere of most chambers after a long sitting, probably explains a good deal of bad legislation. I trust the Government will not unduly pile loads upon the back of Parliament. The Prime Minister and his colleagues have it in their hands to make this path much easier. If the remaining measures with which we have to deal, such as the InterState Commission Bill, the Referenda Bills, and the Judiciary Bill, were promptly laid on the table, we should have an opportunity of quietly considering them, and time would be saved. Few of the measures in the long list on the notice-paper are of great length, and most of them, do not involve a great variety of considerations, but in the Navigation Bill we have one measure which makes up for all the rest. It might well be divided into a number of different Bills. So independent are the issues raised that, in some instances, a clause is a Bill in itself. I am sure the universal feeling is that, having regard to the time the Navigation Bill has been before us, we ought to deal with it.
– Yes, it will take another Parliament to get it through if we do not.
– It deserves not another Parliament, but a session to itself.
– The Bill goes from Parliament to Parliament, and gets no further forward.
– The Navigation Bill is a measure of such a character that, in reality, it contains a whole series of Bills. Sometimes a clause is a Bill. I think it would be worth the while of Ministers to go through the measure carefully. It deals with a certain number of questions which are rendered very much more complex than they otherwise would be by the legal difficulties involved. I suggest that Ministers should consider whether some of those clauses not absolutely material to the general working of the Bill might not be allowed to remain over for consideration in another session. Otherwise I foresee that the practical clauses of the Bill wilt not receive sufficient attention at present.. The theoretical clauses, those raising questions of theory, and1 others adopting provisions in force in other countries under other circumstances, which, with modifications, are sought to be applied here - might remain for future consideration. Then, again, we have not yet touched some of the financial measures foreshadowed.
– None of a serious nature. There is the Tasmanian grant, for instance.
– If every measure were as direct and straightforward as that, we should have no difficulty in dealing with them’. But there are others. The Navigation . Bill, however, really prevents a task of almost unparalleled difficulty. What I am . pleading in that regard is that it is not sufficient to free us from responsibility by saying that because the questions involved are difficult, we will pass the Bill without that consideration which is due to it, demanded by the great series of interests - amongst the greatest of our public interests - to which it relates. Under these circumstances, the Navigation Bill is at present hot only a standing dish, but apparently will be an obstacle, or a seriesof obstacles, which we shall have to overcome. Then there is the Referendum Bill,
– As soon as we conveniently can, we shall let honorable memberssee what we propose in that regard.
– I had hoped that thetime would be about arriving.
– There will be more than one Bill, I think.
– I suppose that the Northern Territory land matter will be settled soon.
– Oh, yes ; the Minister has promised that.
– The Prime Minister admits that the burden already imposed upon the assiduous members of the House involves about as great demands as can possibly be made upon our strength and staying powers if we are to deal with this programme of business before the House rises at about Christmas time. Personally, 1 do not see how the work foreshadowed is to be accomplished in regard to the Navigation Bill. I am sorry to say that, because it is one of the most important measures before us. But, apart from that exceptional measure, we have before us ample work to keep us engaged right up to Christmas. I venture to suggest that the endeavour to accomplish that task by late hours and long sittings will not only result in inferior work, but in dissatisfaction and less rapid progress than we ought to achieve. Because, after all, however different our aims may be in point of policy, there can be no other desire on the part of honorable members than to accomplish this session a record of business well and faithfully done. In that object, we are running neck and neck together.
– I am not anxious for long hours. I get my full share of them already.
– I am sure that every Prime Minister does. The work at present before us is quite hard enough. I can see in many honorable members, and certainly feel in myself, evidences of severe strain, although we are only half through the session.
– Half through with the talk, but not with the business.
– I do not know that we are entitled to reproach either side at present with more than occasional exuberant outbursts. At all events, many of us have found the session already sufficiently burdensome, and if we are undertaking more work, are doing it in the hope that by common collaboration we may possibly be able to achieve a record of effective work well done. But our desire should be to avoid passing measures hastily drafted and hastily considered, though involving problematic schemes to which we are committing the country. Every endeavour will be made by honorable members on this side of the House, who are just as anxious as the supporters of the Government to close the session at Christmas with a good record of service. There are some measures which are of a practical nature, which we should be able to pass. There are others over which we shall have to fight, and fight hard. I can assure them that the measure’s to which I refer will receive the best attention we can give, and am satisfied that my honorable friends opposite will give us their best in return. The Referendum Bills in particular deal with propositions than which none more momentous can come before the country, have come before the country, or are likely to come before the country.
– The honorable member talked the question out last time.
– The Referendum went to the country last time, and the country decided it. It will decide again. If we can secure the honorable member’s assistance by some brief spaces of silence, to enable other honorable members to be heard, we shall be able to get through. The Opposition, at all events, will take every care that the country shall be thoroughly well informed upon the vital and all-important measures upon which we shall be voting.
– I join with the Leader of the Opposition in requesting the Prime Minister not to ask the House to sit late at night if he can avoid doing so.
– Hear, hear.
– I prefer to come here in the morning rather than to sit up all night. We are all more or less involved, but I am sure that if we refrain from making speeches against measures which we intend to support, or if we will, having spoken against a measure, show our belief in our own arguments by voting against it, we shall conduce to the more rapid progress of business. Again, if we will refrain from giving notices of motions dissenting from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and then failing to attend-
– Order ! The honorable member must not deal with that matter.
– That is not so, either.
– I was trying to illustrate how time is sometimes thoughtlessly occupied by some honorable members. If some honorable members would show more desire for harmony, discord would not enter so largely into our proceedings. I have seen honorable members opposite rushing about the benches protesting to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that he ought to go on with a motion which he was inclined to withdraw. As we arenearing Christmas, an opportunity is presented for reform; and I hope we shall be able to proceed with business at greater speed.
.- We should not assume facts against ourselves. We have not such extensive powers as have the Parliaments of some of the States, or as has the House of Commons. But, if honorable members look up the records of the House of Commons for the last ten or twelve years, they will see that that Chamber has not, in the long run, as good an output as we have. During the ten years ending with last year we passed about 350 Acts, and the House of Commons, in the ten years ending 1909, passed 388 Acts. In the House of Commons, only 276 days were devoted to the consideration of 318 Acts ; and that indicates a legislative carelessness or listlessness which we should not be asked to copy. If the Government come down with as full a quiver as the Prime Minister has indicated, it will be impossible for the Opposition to deal with all the measures honestly in the way of criticism. Notwithstanding the waste of time which is associated with every deliberative assembly, I do not think that the Federal Parliament shows a bad record as compared with the Imperial Parliament. I am sure that what the Leader of the Opposition has said will be acquiesced in by his followers, even in the case of such a long and technical work as the Navigation Bill. I hope, however, that the Prime Minister is not coming down with such a lengthy list of measures as that he has mentioned. There is the Bankruptcy Bill, for instance, over which I have a recollection of expending some midnight oil.
– We shall introduce that Bill into the Senate and see how it gets on.
– No doubt, it will get on until the day of political judgment. It is almost as great a measure as the Navigation Bill; and I fancy that the honorable member for Darling Downs was responsible for its introduction in the first place.
– It seems to have passed the usually bright perception of the honorable member for Capricornia that, after all, we have some political duties besides those we carry out in this Chamber. In the first place, it is the duty of honorable members, on whichever side of the House they sit, to carefully examine all Government measures. If we are to meet at half-past 10 o’clock in the morning and sit until half -past 11 or halfpast 12 at night, it is obvious that only those whose conscience will not allow them to sleep will have any chance of studying the measures submitted. I do not wish the honorable member for Capricornia to have any undue advantage over myself ; and I confess that I require a certain amount of time to sleep, and would like some guide as to the business brought on from week to week, so that even under the most difficult circumstances we may be able to do our duty as critics.
– That is a good suggestion; I shall endeavour to give a forecast of the business to come on.
– If that is done, we shall do our best to meet the Government.
– That is fair.
– And we shall endeavour to put through the business with celerity. We have our week ends, of course, and those who are rabid for work, like the honorable member for Capricornia, can devote that time to the study of the legislation submitted. If we can have from Saturday to Monday to study the measures to be introduced in the following week, we shall, at any rate, be able to make some “ fist “ at them. After all, much of the time of this Parliament is occupied in reconsidering measures previously passed.
– That was so under the old regime.
– It is so under this regime. I can remember the impatience with which honorable members opposite greeted all criticism of the first Commonwealth Notes Bill; and yet that measure was amended by themselves before it had been two years on the statute-book, and, indeed, before it had really been tested. It is rushing the business that results in faulty measures requiring amendment ; and this accounts for more delay and lost time than can be charged to the criticism of honorable members on this side.
– I shall give a forecast from week to week of the business tobe done.
– If so, we shall endeavour to meet the Government.
– One of the singular features of the session is that, up to date, we have spent almost as. much time in determining how we are going to do business as we have spent in actual business done. Foi instance, we spent a whole week in limiting speeches ; and, since then, we have spent a day in taking away the time previously devoted to private members’ business. 1 have never seen a session in which there has been so much frittering away of time, in discussing how, where, and under what circumstances we shall conduct our business. The fact is clear, either that it is proposed to place on the statute-book a mass of ill -digested legislation, or, on the other hand, that some members of the House are going to work themselves to an absolute standstill in an endeavour to scrutinize measures and make them workable. I venture to say that the Government are ‘responsible for a good deal of the time wasted. After nearly a week spent upon the Lands Ordinance relating to the settlement of the Northern Territory, that measure had to be withdrawn for amendment ; and if the criticism on this side had been like the criticism on the opposite side that Ordinance would have been law to-day, and a deadly blow would have been struck at the very vitals of the democratic government of our lands.
– The honorable member knows that the criticism on this side was just as severe as the criticism on the other side.
– I do not know that ; and I repeat that,, if it had not been for the criticism on this side, the measure would have been in full force to-day.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss those matters.
– As a rule, a Government asks for lengthened hours of sitting when all the business has been submitted, and an effort is to be made to clear off what is deemed to be the most urgent. On the present occasion., however, a list of measures has been outlined by the Prime Minister, who tells us that these must be passed this session, although we know that they have not yet been framed. The Prime Minister wishes us to _ enter, on this legislative orgy, for it is neither more nor less, and to pass measures that have not yet been framed by the Government. The honorable gentlemen indicated to us to-day that the Government had not yet made up their mind as to the terms in which the referenda proposals are to be submitted. Then there is the Banking Bill, which evidently has not yet received final revision at the hands of the law ad*visers of the Government; and the same remark may be made of other important measures, such as the Bankruptcy Bill. Any one of these measures is in its way as important as the Navigation Bill, and might form the chief proposal of a session’s work. If those measures, in addition to others, are .passed this session it will mean a mass of legislation that cannot be a credit to this Parliament. In other words, we are being asked to do the impossible ; we may pass these measures but we shall have to revise them, and in the meantime they will prove the reverse of a benefit to the community. The people will have to interpret and work under them as best they may. But we were not elected to legislate in that way. It would be better not to legislate at all than to pass imperfect measure’s which must cause infinite irritation, trouble and expense, without benefiting the country. I strongly advise the Government not to press on with their bankruptcy and banking legislation if they wish to close the session within a reasonable time.
I have always held that to sit all day and until midnight is not a good way to get through work, because the long sittings make members nervous and talkative, and thus less business is done. If we meet each morning at half-past 10, there will be no time in which to consider proposals for legislation. The transaction of business would be more rapid were Ministers not so constantly absent from the chamber, and these absences will increase with the carrying of this motion. I have never been in a Parliament in which Ministers paid less attention to business than do the present Ministers. I do not think that the Prime Minister was in the chamber half-a-dozen hours during the whole of the Budget debate.
– That is not correct.
– Although the right honorable gentleman is at the head of the Treasury, he was hardly in the cham- ber during that debate, lt is customary now for a Minister to move the second reading of a Bill, making a speech which gives no information, and then to leave the chamber, honorable members being cast upon their own resources in arriving at an understanding of its provisions.
– That is not so.
– It is so; though I admit that the Minister of Trade and Customs tries to master his proposals, and to afford information to the House. It is a pity that other Ministers do not follow his example. If Ministers were present to answer the questions which arise during the consideration of measures, it would expedite business.
– Let us get to work now.
– I want to get to work, and have no wish to stay here a day longer than is necessary. The sooner we leave, the better it will be for the country, and for the great issue which is to be decided later ; although I am not desirous of an appeal to the ballot-box until the proposed redistributions of seats have all been determined upon, and we have had lime to make ourselves fully acquainted with the new conditions.
Another thing that would conduce to expedition is the ‘better preparation of measures. Many proposals, such as the Northern Territory Crown Lands Ordinance, and others I could name, have been thrown before us in a chaotic condition, and this has necessitated discussion, honorable members having had to feel their way towards a reasonable understanding of the matter. I have been in Parliament for a good many years, and know that the constant drip- drip of talk which it is proposed1 to create will not lead to business being done more quickly.
– Why does the honorable member repeat himself so often?
– Business would be done more quickly if insults were hurled at the Opposition less frequently. Nothing so provokes discussion as the interjection of insulting expressions by those who seem to have nothing else to say. Those who are doing their duty in discussing proposals in the light t>f the public interest should not be subjected to this kind of treatment. No’ doubt the Government have determined to pass this motion, and we shall therefore have to do our duty as well as we can notwithstanding it. If the measures outlined in the last speech of the Governor-General are to be passed after proper consideration, we shall have to sit during the remainder of this and the whole of next year to rationally consider them; if the attempt be made to put them on the statute-book without that proper consideration, infinite trouble must follow, and the High Court will probably be appealed to for the interpretation of what we should have made plain.
– We all recognise that when the business of the session is becoming congested the sitting hours must be extended, but, except under the present Government, extra sitting hours have been found necessary only in the closing weeks of the session. At present we are in the middle of the session, and there is no excuse for asking us to sit longer than usual. The motion is part of an attempt to invade the rights of members generally, and especially of the Opposition. Soon after the commencement of the session, the Prime Minister took advantage of a private member’s motion, .giving Government time for its discussion, to put a limitation on speeches. Among the reasons given for that action was that it would obviate the necessity’ of lengthening the sittings, or of sitting late at night. But what has been our experience? So far as the curtailment’ of speeches is concerned, many honorable members on this side have not availed them- selves of opportunities to speak, and very few of those who have spoken have exercised their right to occupy the full time allowed by the standing order. The majority of speakers who have taken advantage of the full time allowed have been heard from the other side. Honorable members opposite have frequently had to be informed that their time had expired, whilst that has been necessary in the case of very few honorable members on this side. In the circumstances, it is clear that the accusation that members of the Opposition have been guilty of wasting time cannot be sustained. The next thing the Government did, was, at an unprecedentedly early stage of the session, to submit a motion giving precedence to Government tainess, and depriving the House of the opportunity to discuss private members’ business. Probably the motion was submitted with a view to avoiding the discussion of a number of awkward questions which were on the business-paper in the names of private members. I recall the fact that when the honorable member for Ballarat, as Leader of the Government, submitted a similar motion as early in the year as the 15th September, the present Prime Minister said -
A stranger hearing the Prime Minister for the first time would consider his request most reasonable, but I assert deliberately that the honorable gentleman could not propose any course more likely to cause waste of time than that which he has put before us. I do not know why the Government have brought forward the motion at this time.
The honorable gentleman then went on to say how valuable is the time given to the discussion of private’ members’ motions. He said -
Every Government endeavours to belittle the importance of private members’ business without justification.
He went on to quote a number of instances to show that it was in the discussion of private members’ motions that a number of immensely beneficial reforms had their origin. He said -
It is a fallacious idea that private members’ business does no good. Quite the opposite is the fact, and in all Parliaments of the world we find that nearly every reform has been initiated as private members’ business.
In that way, the honorable gentleman opposed the motion to supersede private members’ business. He considered that the Government proposal would make unnecessary inroads upon private members’ time. It is now further proposed that we should, in future, have morning sittings. The morning is the only time which honorable members have for the consideration, of measures submitted to Parliament, and to attend to their correspondence. Ministers must themselves find morning sittings very awkward, because their departmental business should properly be transacted during the morning hours. That business will, in future, apparently have to be left very largely to the departmental heads, and-under this proposal the reign of officialism and red-tape, which the Minister of Home Affairs so roundly condemns, will probably become more rampant than ever. I think the curtailment of speeches is in itself a sufficiently serious inroad upon the rights of honorable members. It was brought about distinctly with the object that less time should be occupied in the discussion of measures submitted to Parliament. Ministers should remember that, notwithstanding the statements of their supporters, members of the Opposition do not criticise Government measures merely as an act of grace on the part of the Government and its supporters. They have a responsibility to their constituents, which Ministers and their supporters do not appear to realize. There is an obligation resting on members of the Opposition to give full and careful attention to all measures submitted by the Government, and to criticise them in the public interest. A reasonable time should always be allowed for that criticism, and no one can say that the limits of reasonable discussion have been exceeded by any honorable member on either side during this ses sion. The proposal, therefore, cannot be justified on the ground that there has been any waste of time on the part of honorable members on either side. I venture to believe that the new arrangement will not prevent late sittings, as honorable members who support the proposal appear to think. I have not the slightest doubt that, as the session draws to a close, we shall have the Prime Minister intimating that the House should sit longer, and all-night sittings will be as frequent during this session as they have been in previous sessions. We shall be called upon to sit during the morning and afternoon, as well as late at night, and what kind of legislation is likely to be passed in this Chamber under such conditions? Common sense suggests that carefully considered legislation will not be passed under such conditions, and that the country is likely to suffer from the effects of a very severe attack of legislative indigestion. We have been told by the Prime Minister that certain Bills are not even yet ready for submission to the House. Much trouble has arisen during this session, and, in fact, during the whole of the time the present Government have occupied the Treasury benches, from the fact that their measures have been introduced without being properly considered. They have been badly framed, and, after criticism by the Opposition, have been found to be so defective that they have had to be taken back to the workshop, and amendments brought forward by the Government, or fresh measures submitted, with the provisions of which honorable members have had no opportunity to familiarize themselves. By the time they have come here fully prepared to discuss their merits, the measures have been withdrawn from discussion, and others substituted. In this way, Bills have been shuffled about in a most curious fashion. Members of the Opposition have had, moreover, the additional difficulty to contend with of finding that even Ministers themselves knew little or nothing about the Bills of which they were in charge. The practice of the Liberal Government when they brought down important measures was, not only to give honorable members copies within a reasonable time, in order to enable them to understand their provisions, but also, in some instances, to take the precaution of supplying explanatory memoranda which made the study of the Bills very much easier, and, of course, facilitated their discussion here very much. If there has been any delay in getting on with business and passing measures, the Government are mainly responsible, because they themselves have, as I said, brought in their measures very ill-considered and ill-digested, and have not come to the House equipped with the .necessary knowledge to keep members informed as to either the scope or intention of the measures or their provisions. Member after member oh this side has sought in vain to be informed in connexion with Bills, and consequently they have had to spend a little more time than otherwise might have been necessary in debating the measures, in order to get at their underlying principles, and their more or less obscure meaning. I think that the House will be very unwise in assenting, thus early in the session, to the sacrifice of what little time is now available to honorable members to study Bills and attend to their correspondence.
– One or two suggestions have been made which will receive very favorable consideration. One is to forecast, as far as possible, the business of the succeeding week, and to get the important measures before honorable members as early as possible. I do not take any notice of the nonsense which has been talked about the absence of Ministers from the chamber, or about ill-digested legislation. More Bills have been put through Parliament with fewer alterations by this Government than has been done by any other Government.
– No other Government had a majority in both Houses.
– And no Act of this Government has been declared unconstitutional. That kind of patter may be good enough for fools, but it will not stand examination.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
The honorable member for Darling Downs asked me if I would be good enough to ascertain from the Attorney-General the position of this Bill as regards our constitutional powers. I am able to say that he has no doubt as to the constitutionality of this Bill, and, of course, that involves the penalties. I make that statement on be half of the Government. As regards the acceptableness of the Bill to the community, or its usefulness, I do not wish to take up time now, otherwise I should be very glad, as it is a very interesting subject, to make a few remarks in reply to certain statements which have been made.
– I desire, briefly, to put on record our most important objections to this measure. In the first place, this Bill deals with only a segment of the great social issues involved - a very important segment, but, nevertheless, only one of many. In the second place, it deals only with one method of relief, and that is by the grant of an allowance simply based on a birth. And, in the next place, it only makes provisions for making this grant isolated and apart. Before our social life is thoroughly organized, conditions of stability must be established for all classes, including those whose livelihoods are precarious, and who are, of course, always subject to the accidents of mortality.
To deal separately, and only, with mother and child at the time of its birth by a direct endowment, though it avoids the embarrassment of machinery and endeavours to avoid even the checks which are necessary, is a rash experiment.
– I am not sure about that illustration about being isolated, &c.
– I am speaking of this proposition to deal with the parent and child at birth, as if that was the only social need which had to be met by legislation of this character. If this had been associated with a complete scheme providing for sickness, unemployment, and accidents, each branch would have assisted the other, supplying safeguards against misstatement, deceit, or misappropriation of money.
– I meant an isolated effort to help in a chain of circumstances.
– What I mean is that the Government have isolated the mother - really the mother and the child - at the instant of birth, and dealt with that crisis as they can under the limitations of the Constitution - if they are within the Constitution. Their task would have been much more effectively and completely performed if taken in conjunction with a much wider scheme dealing with unemployment, sickness, and other accidents, which, requiring to be faced by all those who earn their livelihood, fall with special severity upon the millions of toilers who hitherto have had but very slight aid from State support or State care in the misfortunes of their toil- ing lives. The scheme, therefore, appears to be incomplete by its very nature, imperfect, and insufficient in its proportions, due perhaps, in part, to our constitutional restrictions.
May I again venture to repeat suggestions made on the second reading of the Bill, which, from the criticisms accorded them, hardly appear to have been understood in this particular relation? The Government pays the money, unconcerned as to the particular purpose to which it is being appropriated, and there may not be grave risk of misapplication in any real home. In most of them, I venture to believe and to hope that the mother, and after the mother the child, will obtain the whole of the value of the money applied to nourishment and clothing, so as to carry the parent over her period of trial, and give the child a better start in life. It should be better cared for by a better-cared-for mother, whatever surplus there may be of the £5 being applied towards procuring those necessaries, or it may be those medicaments, which the circumstance may call for. J do not think that the Prime Minister and the supporters of the Bill sufficiently realize that these conditions do not, by any means, apply to all the children born in this community. A certain number will be born under conditions most painful to the mothers, often under circumstances unfavorable to health, physical or moral, even permitting this money, sacredly set apart for motherhood and for the child, being applied to the purchase of alcohol, or wasted upon folly.
– The same argument was used in respect of old-age pensions.
– The Attorney-General himself admits that abuses exist there which we cannot hope to cure. But that is no justification for neglect on our part now to take advantage of every necessary precaution. In this brief explanation I am merely reiterating the points elaborated in my speech on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I say again that charity organizations generally are capable of being used to great advantage amongst those unfortunate sections of society in which supervision, advice, and care are most urgently needed. The Prime Minister can supply many deficiencies in this scheme without any trespass on our Constitution, if he will link up with this work existing societies and philan thropic bodies which will take care that, in the slums and amongst the unfortunate classes, voluntary helpers will guard the mother and the child against the parasites who will otherwise prey upon them.
– We are all anxious to do that.
– It seemed to be supposed that I was submitting a proposition that the whole of this allowance should be supervised by these bodies. That is not so. They may contribute to secure the proper outlay of the ^5, but cannot attempt to cope with the other great remedial measures proposed. The particular proposal before us will certainly justify itself wherever the allowance is honestly applied to the necessitous mother and the child. As it stands, it implies a certain amount of anticipatory outlay on the part of the mothers which may create a difficulty in cases where their credit, for some reason or other, is not good.
I will not labour this point, because it can be partly met by the assistance of which I have spoken. But very often this money could be better expended before than after the birth of the child. It could then be spent to greater advantage to the mother, and with decidedly more benefit to the child. If we were in touch with those organizations of unpaid persons who, for the love of their fellow creatures, undertake to lend their invaluable aid in this mariner, we might hope to see that made a far more important feature than we can now expect in the case of those who live from hand to mouth, or who are unaccustomed to make a wise use of their means. By-and-by, when experience has cast some light upon the operation of the Bill, when some of the obstacles common in the old world have been removed, we may find that new difficulties have to be encountered before this allowance fulfils its purpose.
But a still stronger support to this scheme, and a far higher guarantee, both of efficiency and economy, will be supplied when this forms part, and only one part, of the necessary -larger scheme of a comprehensive measure of social reconstruction under modern conditions. Obviously we are only at the beginning of a period in which, in a more or less experimental form, endeavour after endeavour will be made to secure to the working man, his wife and family, a greater sense of stability and assurance against the hazards of illness . and unemployment. Until that has been done no nation in the future will be considered to have properly found its feet. Not until the masses realize their close union with the whole of their fellow citizens, not until they co-operate with their endeavours to assist them, and feel themselves supported by the entire community, will the section–for whom these schemes are more particularly provided - the working classes - become strong enough and experienced enough, standing together to take their control into their own hands. Then, and then only, shall we get an efficient scheme, and appreciation of the principle of self help which underlies it. To that we all look forward.
We begin with the preservation of child life, and the preservation of the mother during the trials to which child-bearing exposes her. But after all we have selected only one trial, and one method of granting assistance, when, as a matter of fact, these should take their place in a far more comprehensive and inter-related scheme than that with which we are now confronted. The several reconstruction schemes should render great assistance to one another. Though their applications on the surface might seem diverse, they would be at one if promoted by the same principle. That principle is the securing of social health and stability, by means of co-operation of a kindly and generous character, not simply on the part of the representatives of the people in Parliament towards their constituents, but on the part of the people themselves when they reach a higher platform. Then they will take these matters voluntarily into their own hands, with a full capacity to deal with them on the spot. In the meantime they may gain by assistance and advice, but they will gain more by taking charge themselves of the complete scheme. This will provide them against emergencies, such as industrial disturbances, illness, incapacity, maternity, and the rearing of the child, not only just at the period of birth, but until it is afforded the opportunity of becoming completely furnished with the requisites of a good citizen, no matter to what class of the community it may belong.
The fact that these schemes would be largely contributory is, when they are consistently applied, an advantage rather than a hindrance. It is in connexion with the contributory aspect that the old public maxim “ no taxation without representation “ applies. When those’ who are to share the benefits it will offer take their stand on the contributory system, they must have a large voice in controlling that system and administering it. It. will pass into the hands of those immediately affected, who will then be well equipped for facing these various emergencies, which, by different forms of social union, by co-operation and mutual action, we are seeking to provide against. The State is leading the way, but it can lead only a part of the way. Under the present proposal, the community, through the State, is to contribute the whole allowance as a birthday gift. But, under Mr. Lloyd - George’s great scheme, as well as under the German, Austrian, Italian, and some other schemes, we find the contributory principle being gradually introduced. Undoubtedly in the future these will be given a far wider scope, with far greater varieties of application, than the development of those countries has hitherto permitted.
However faulty this measure, however obvious and serious its omissions and numerous the risks that it must run, I look upon it, after all, as a social endeavour in the right direction. I wish it had been conditioned and shaped in another way, and especially that it had other associations in support to make it more efficient. But, with all these conditions, recognising its disabilities and dangers, it marks, after all, another forward step towards social union, and, if I may say so, social re-formation - for, in that plain sense of the term, rather than in the “ reformation,” which customarily carries a slightly different meaning - is found the1 great practical hope for future schemes of this kind. If they are merely to be planned in Parliaments, supported by State moneys, and carried out by State officials, they will all fall very far short of their aim. Not until they become part of the natural _ every-day healthy activity of the community - every part of the community bearing its share of the burden, and every part linked with the other - shall we get the full value of this or any other scheme of social assistance and cooperation
– The incidence of taxation will have to be altered before that can be brought about.
– Honorable members always assert that something must be done before another thing can be brought about. The honorable member for Maribyrnong needs only to be re- minded that we are confessedly living in an imperfect world, and proceeding by imperfect methods. We have to take opportunities as they come, and not necessarily to follow the strict logical order of their acceptance.
– That is what we are doing in this case.
– No. I have taken the objection that we are not following the strict logical order; but yet that, having regard to its merits and value, I am unable to vote against the Bill.
In those circumstances, I trust that this measure, so far from indicating to us a dead-end, so far from laying down a principle for future application in connexion with any of its operations, will be recognised for what it is. Excellent as it may be in the core, it is but a stop-gap measure - a measure for the moment - to carry us on until we are prepared to cope with the whole problem more thoroughly. This one will work under numerous difficulties, and, in many particulars, disappoint many who have supported it. But it is, at all event’s, a beginning in the fight direction. I hope that we shall have men and women courageous enough to correct its faults and misapplications. We ought to calculate on the generous assistance of the public, if they are invited to give it, in making this crude plan a greater success than it can be if left only in official hands. I trust, as illustrating to the community, as a whole, our sense of the unity of the nation, and our common obligations to each other, as well as to the future, that, in passing this Bill, we have taken a step that we shall not need to retrace so far as it relates to the necessitous mothers and children of the community, but that we shall rather buttress, support, and complete it, by means of various additions that are necessary to any scheme of complete social establishment.
– I have not hitherto discussed the merits of the Bill ; and now, at its last stage, I desire only to repeat the opinion I have already expressed, that it is a measure not contemplated as coming within the scope of the Federal Parliament, and that it is beyond our powers. The Constitution is our guide. It is the basis of all our powers. However beneficent, reasonable, or desirable a measure may be, if it is not within our powers, we must forego dealing with it until we have, by the means provided, by the Constitution, .obtained the power to pass it. Section 83 of the Constitution provides that -
No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law - and section 81 provides that -
All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth, in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
That is to say, they must be appropriated for ‘ ‘ the purposes of the Commonwealth.” I submit that the maternity allowance for which this Bill provides is not a purpose of the Commonwealth, and that it is an “ ungranted “ power. If that be so - if my judgment be right - then the Bill is ultra vires. If we can pass such a Bill as this, we must be able to do anything in the way of expending money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund without any limitations. This power was never given to us by the States. Twist and turn the paragraphs of section 51 of the . Constitution as you may, you will find nothing on which you can hang an immense expenditure like this. The power to make this expenditure was never given to us, and, therefore, still belongs to the States in the way that all other kindred subjects, such as hospitals, charitable institutions of all sorts, education, and other matters of that character, were retained by the States. It seems to me that, if we can do this, we can expend large sums of money on building schools and universities. It is not a question whether the proposal is beneficent, necessary, or desirable. The whole issue is : Is it within our powers? Has the power been granted to us? I think it has not been.
I should like to refer to another matter, namely, to what was said by the Prime Minister on the second reading. He said-
– Order ! The honororable member would be out of order in making the quotation.
– I think I may say, without quoting the right honorable gentleman, that he gave us to understand that there was “ not the slightest stigma of charity “ attached to this proposal. I arn not prepared to admit that there is any stigma in charity. To say so is to place upon that beautiful word a construction altogether at variance with its true meaning.
Charity means kindness, and high regard, and love, liberality to the poor, and liberality in relieving the necessities of the distressed.
– It is said to be the greatest virtue of all.
– Actions of that kind do not seem to have any relation to that which would leave a stigma behind it. If we turn to the Scriptures, which have just been referred to by the honorable and gallant member for North Sydney, we learn that charity and benevolence are the great Christian virtues. It is written : “ He that hath pity on the poor lendeth to the Lord,” and “Blessed is he that considereth the poor.” It may be reserved for the party opposite to put forward the new doctrine that helping the poor leaves a stigma behind-
– We never said that.
– The Prime Minister said there was no “ stigma of charity” attached to this Bill. Does the right honorable gentleman desire, and is he prepared to advocate, that there should be no charitable effort?
– No, sir ; there is abundance of room for it every day.
– Does he say that there should be no benevolence except by the State? Is he prepared to assert that the poor should go without hospitals unless they are wholly provided by the State; that the aged shall not have benevolent institutions prepared for them by private beneficence; that the blind should turn only to the State for their care and comfort ?
– Does this Bill in any way hinder what you are advocating?
– I think it does. Is the right honorable member prepared to say that the afflicted shall find no rest or comfort tn the homes of peace provided by private benefactions? Does he contend that, because the old-age pension system applies to only a certain class of people who are in need, a stigma of charity attaches to it, and, therefore, to those poor people who are receiving assistance from the State? That is what the right honorable member’s words mean, if they mean anything. I very much regret that he should have inferred that this sort of subterfuge, by which all will be entitled to claim the grant - although a great many will not ask for it or receive it - puts the matter into a different category by removing the “ stigma of charity.” Are all those persons to whom I have referred, tainted? Have they a stigma upon them? I hope and believe not. Are they different from those who, being fairly well off, even rich, are invited by the Bill to take this sum from the coffers of the State ? Are those who are invited to take this amount, and some perhaps will take it, in any different position from those who are really in need, ‘ and receiving assistance not only from public institutions but from private benefactions? I think there is no difference whatever. It is the purest hypocrisy to say. that, because a proposal covers every one, although it is not expected *to be availed of by many who are well off, those who receive money under it are in a different category from those who, through want, through being unable to work, have a pension or allowance made to them. Even the education of this country, which is open to all, is not availed of by all, A great many of those who are not in need do not make use of it for their children, but they might do so if they liked. Does that alter in any way the character of the grant for education out of the taxes paid by the people? I do not think it does. Those who make use of it are receiving State aid. All those who are in a public hospital or a benevolent institution, such as a blind asylum, or a home of peace, supported by the State, and all those who are receiving old-age pensions, are receiving State aid. No attempt to alter that fact will be anything but what I call hypocrisy or pride. We know that it has been said that “ pride and poverty are ill met.”
– No; the right honorable member is misquoting. The quotation is that” age and want are an ill-matched pair.
– That is another quotation. If any one receives benefits supplied by all, and which all do not share, even though all have a right to share in them, that is State aid. Everybody pays, but all do not receive the benefit. I have made these few observations to show that when one comes to look into the statement of the Prime Minister that “ there is not the slightest stigma of charity attached to this allowance,” it becomes clear that there is no real difference between this particular allowance and any other allowance or assistance received from any Stateaided institution in this country. It would be difficult to prove otherwise.
As far as the humanitarian aspect of the question is concerned, I do not suppose that there is any one in this
House who would not be glad to assist in providing from the public funds, or from his own funds as far as he could afford help to any person who is in want 01 distress, or who was in need of assistance of any kind. But, in my opinion, this Bill tries to do too much, because it provides that those who are not in want, and who have no need, and who ought not to receive help from the State, shall be entitled to receive it. However, I have said all that I desire to say upon the subject. I believe that the Bill is beyond our powers - that we are invading rights which were not handed over to us under the Constitution. Therefore, I am convinced that if the matter is tested, what I have indicated will be the result. If, on the other hand, the measure be within the powers of this Parliament, there is hardly anything in the way of expenditure that any one can imagine that is not also within our powers.
.- Sufficient has not only been said by the right honorable member for Swan, but by others, in the debate upon this Bill to show that there are grave doubts as to the constitutional power of Parliament to pass an appropriation for its purposes. The sole ground upon which the legality of the Bill is based is the appropriating power of Parliament. As already pointed out, the appropriating power is intended to be subsidiary to or to assist in effectuating and carrying into execution the legislative powers of Parliament. Those powers are defined in section 51 of the Constitution, and the cognate and correlative sections. Suppose’ that there is an unlimited power of appropriation. Nevertheless, there is not associated with that appropriating power what is called the incidental power of providing machinery for giving effect to the appropriating power, and surrounding it with sufficient safeguards and securities for its execution. Attention has been drawn to that point already, and I only mention it in passing to emphasize that it has not escaped attention. There are other clauses in this Bill which go beyond the appropriating power of Parliament. There are machinery and procedure sections; there are references to powers and functions to be vested in the Commissioner intrusted with the execution of the measure; and there is a clause giving power to pass regulations. No attempt has been made to justify the insertion of the clause giving power to pass regulations to carry into execution this appropriating power.
There is also a penalty section against per: sons making false declarations to secure grants under this Bill. Where is there a section in the Constitution giving power to penalize false declarations of that kind? The appropriating power of the Constitution alone is not associated with any machinery or incidental power. But I must say that on all important constitutional questions, although there may be doubts, there can be no absolute certainty one way or the other. The matter is open to argument. One can only express one’s own views. Should the occasion arise, there is an authority provided by the Constitution, namely, the High Court, for determining the legality and constitutionality of such measures as this. I am a sufficiently strong federalist to recognise that one ought not to vote against a Bill merely because there is a doubt of its constitutionality. I should not be disposed to assume that attitude, because I know that finality does not rest with this Parliament. It rests elsewhere. Nevertheless, we ought to recognise and keep steadily in view the broad lines of constitutional authority, and those limitations ought not to be neglected or ignored in passing legislation of this kind. I should be very sorry to give a vote on this Bill on grounds of constitutionality or otherwise, because such an action would be open to misconstruction. “I should not care about using a constitutional point to assist in defeating any measure of generous, kindly, and useful legislation that might be submitted to Parliament. Such questions should be dealt with elsewhere, under proper conditions. If the States, who are interested as residuary legatees of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth, feel disposed to raise the question, it will be determined. Meanwhile, I desire to draw attention to what I consider to be certain defects in this scheme of maternity allowance. I can only regret that the Ministry and their majority have not seen fit to recognise the force of the criticism which has already been advanced by the Opposition in reference to the scheme. I certainly think that while the Bill may be based upon a generous, liberal, and humane instinct and principle, it does not go far enough in endeavouring to recognise other forces which might be utilized in carrying out such a scheme as this. As already mentioned by myself and otherson this side, this grant ought to be associated with some form of insurance, in. which those interested, or, desiring to avail themselves of it, would have an obligation to contribute. I do not say that participants should be required to contribute very large sums ; but, with few exceptions, they should be required to give something to a national fund, subsidized, maintained, and guaranteed by the Government, in the same way that the National Providence Fund of New Zealand is. One of the prominent features of the New Zealand system is an allowance of £6 for maternity ; but the beneficiaries are required to contribute small sums, ranging from ad. to 2s. or 2s. od. per week, according to age. This fund not only makes provision for domestic events, such as maternity or sickness of children, but cultivates habits of thrift, and permits a feeling of self-reliance, independence, and self-respect.’ The danger of the Bill is that, this being an unconditional grant, without qualification or security, it may end in being regarded as a pure bounty or dole from the State, without the accompaniment of any feeling of self-respect. This is undoubtedly a fundamental defect in the scheme, and the principle of contributory insurance, at any rate with respect to married people, might very well have been initiated without imposing a serious burden on any class in the community. I have looked through the Bill, and carefully considered the statements of Ministers and their supporters,. and, up to the present, I have not been able to grasp any specific principle on which the scheme is based, except the one enunciated by the Prime Minister, namely, that it is to protect the lives of citizens and coming citizens. It is denied that the scheme is based on charitable motives or considerations ; but surely it cannot be denied that it is based on humane motives and considerations, if the word “charity” is objected to? It is not for one moment suggested that the allowance is intended to promote the increase of the population, or that it is for the purpose of preventing such crimes against society as that of race suicide. It is supposed to be based on humane considerations; and that means that it is intended to reach and benefit certain sections of the population who need assistance and protection in a certain critical event in their history. I therefore fail to see why some provision should not be made in the Bill limiting the operation of the bounty or bonus to specific cases in which it is required. It is objected that this would involve class distinction, and amount to a stigma, and that people might refuse to participate if the allowance were limited to particular classes. I fail to see the force of such an argument - how the suggestion that this is a charitable or humane grant could operate adversely. Surely it is not intended by the most enthusiastic friends of the Bill that everybody in the community is to draw the £5 ? There must be some limit, either expressed or implied, to the application of the Statute. It cannot be intended or desired by the friends of the Bill that any would draw this allowance except those who need it; and yet it is obvious that, in the absence of some legal limitation or condition, many people of means, or, perhaps, of fortune, will exercise the right, although the fundamental motive, while not legally expressed, is a humane, kindly, and generous one. Parliament ought to protect the public funds, in any case, from reaching people who do not desire, and who ought not to be allowed to draw, the allowance; and the Bill could have contained a limitation somewhat similar to that imposed in New Zealand, where participants have to make a statutory declaration that their income does not exceed £200 per annum. I do not suggest that that need necessarily be the maximum salary in the Commonwealth; we might raise it to £250 or ,£300, if desired ; but, undoubtedly, this would provide a safeguard against abuse and unnecessary public expenditure. This idea has been rejected on the ground that it might lead to class distinction, and reference has been made to the national system of education, under which rich and poor have the privilege of sending their children to the State schools. There is, however, a fundamental difference between the two cases. Free education has to be recognised and granted because it is associated with a compulsory principle; people are required by law to send their children to school under severe penalties, and Parliament could not reasonably insist, unless the compulsory principle were associated with free education. The cases have no analogy, and ought not to be cited in support of this proposed maternity grant.
– Does the honorable member think that we ought to compel alL people to take the allowance?
– No; but I say that people who are not entitled to it may take it, and Parliament has the right to prevent any abuse of what is intended as a humane consideration. As the Bill stands, it is possible that there may be involved an expenditure of .£500,000 for the purpose of meeting cases the cost of which might not exceed £ 10,000. Even if there are a number of hard and difficult cases in family relationship, both in married life and out of it, for which Parliament ought to make some humane provision, there is a limit to such cases. The calculation may not be quite accurate, but it has been estimated by some critics of this proposal that the cases undealt with by the existing institutions and agencies could be fully met with an expenditure not exceeding ^10,000 a year, whereas the Bill, applying, as it does, to all mothers, whether necessitous or not, will involve an expenditure of, perhaps, ^500,000 That may be regarded as a fundamental defect, though, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, experience may convince the people of this and other defects, and, later, amendments may be insisted on to remove the abuses that the proposal in its present crudity provides for. Another point to which I direct attention is this. The Bill provides for the payment of a cash allowance of £5 to every woman who, after it becomes law, gives birth to a chil’d. ho distinction being drawn between children born in wedlock and those born out of wedlock. I do not suggest for a moment that the necessity, difficulties, and misery of the women who bear children out of wedlock should not be remembered and relieved. What I wish to impress upon the House is that the position of such women differs materially from that of the women whose children are born in the comfort and honour of wedded life, and therefore there should be a difference in their treatment, not as to the aid given to them, but as to the manner of assisting them. A married woman, as a rule, has a home and a husband to protect her, and her children are born under every advantage. To such women a cash allowance may fairly be paid without security. Unmarried women, on the other hand, are often waifs and strays, sometimes cast off by their relatives because of their misfortunes.
– God forbid !
– Such things happen.
– I call those who are responsible for them brutes.
– A woman so circumstanced needs, not a dole of ^5, but a home. There are already in this country a large number of maternity and rescue homes established for the relief of unfortunate women and girls, and it would be better to assist these homes in providing security and proper treatment for unfortunates than merely to make a cash distribution of £5 to each unmarried mother.
– We cannot follow the expenditure of this money.
– I think it can be done. Assuming that the Attorney-General has the power that he himself contends for, he could grant subsidies to some of these noble institutions. The Salvation Army is engaged in splendid work of this kind, and the Catholic and all Protestant denominations have established homes. Five pound’s given to them for each case admitted would be well laid out in providing Christian surroundings, consolation, friendship, and protection for the girls.
– While some of these institutions are excellent, others are not.
– Places in which the conditions are such as were described by the honorable member for Bass the other night are very rare, and are fast passing away. Those which are subsidized by the Governments of Australia are creditable institutions, which might safely be intrusted with the spending of £5 for the benefit of each case admitted. I do not wish to deprive unmarried women of a penny-worth of relief. My suggestion is that £5 would be more economically expended: for their benefit, and the expenditure would provide better results, if grants were made to these institutions.
– Given £5, a girl can go into one of these institutions.
– Steps should be taken to offer the girls inducements to go into homes so that their money will not be wasted. Unless they can be surrounded by good associations and friends, the allowance will be of little benefit to them, and will not substantially better their position. It is preferable to provide for their proper treatment, amid religious, hospitable, and benevolent surroundings, than to merely give them a £5- note each, and leave them to take care of themselves. Very few men in Australia would begrudge any assistance given to these poor women. But the parliamentary interference proposed by the Government may, in some cases, make their case worse, and be instrumental in bringing about the escape of the men responsible for their ruin.
– Because, at present, these girls can go before the justices, and obtain pre:maternity allowances.
– The provisions of the £5 allowance will not prevent that.
– It may operate as an inducement to avoid the pain of exposure incidental to police court proceedings, and thus many men responsible for the ruin of girls may escape scot free. They should be pursued to the ends of the earth, if necessary, brought back, and made to face their obligations. I hope that, however good the motives of the Government may be in proposing this maternity allowance, it will not be found to lead to any relaxation of existing State law by which men responsible for the ruin of poor girls are brought to book and made to shoulder their proper burden. I am of opinion that it is one of the strongest criticisms offered against the proposal that it may lead to the escape of such men. I hope that it will not have that effect; but I give a warning in the matter, so that the Government, and those who are determined to carry this measure, may take such steps as may be found necessary, first of all, to see that these unfortunate girls are induced to enter a properly-conducted and properlyinspected maternity home in which to spend the allowance ; and, secondly, to see that there shall be no relaxation of State laws requiring those who are the cause of their ruin to be brought to book and made to shoulder the burden of maintaining their illegitimate children.
-S1]- - I do not intend to detain the House very long on this motion.
– The honorable member is the fifth who has addressed himself to it from the other side.
– The Prime Minister should not make a remark of that kind. He knows that his own followers do not pay any attention to any of these matters.
– How many more abject apologies are we to have from the other side for what honorable members opposite have said against this Bill?
– I have so far made no apology for my attitude towards the Bill.
– Yes; many apologies. They are reported in Hansard.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to cease his interjections.
– The honorable member does not know- what an apology is or he would not make such an inane interjection. I have listened carefully to see whether the Government would commit themselves to any definite principle in the granting of this money. So far, there has been only one statement made, and that by the Prime Minister, which gives us the principle of the proposal from their point of view. He says that the Government are proposing this measure of relief, because relief it is after all is said and done, for the purpose of giving additional protection to a woman at that crisis in her life the result of which is an addition to the population of the country. The more I think over the matter, the more it seems to me that every object which the Government profess to have in view in submitting this Bill could be accomplished more usefully, and with greater efficiency, through machinery already existing in the various States for the purpose, and which we cannot, under our Federal powers, hope to set up. The Bill, so far as I can see, will give no reasonable measure of relief at all. All I can make out of the proposal to make this allowance is that the Government feel that it will be a very nice and popular thing to do, and will add to their credit at the forthcoming elections. I can find no other motive dominating the introduction of this proposal.
– The honorable member is now going beyond what is fair debate.
– T am discussing the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– The honorable member should not impute unworthy motives to honorable members on the other side.
– Is a political motive an unworthy motive?
– The honorable member said that the Bill was introduced only for the purpose of the elections. He* should not use an argument of that kind.
– It is the first time I have ever heard a statement of that sort ruled out of order. According to that ruling, we may not say that honorable members on the other side are doing anything for a political purpose.
– The honorable member will see that if the Government were doing what he has attributed to them, they would be doing something which would be unworthy of a Government of the Commonwealth. It must, therefore, be an unworthy motive which the honorable member was attributing to the Government. In any case, the motion for the third reading of a Bill is to enable honorable members to discuss its contents, and to say whether, in view of what it contains, it should, or should not, be carried.
– I am bound to ask a reason for the introduction of a measure, either on the second reading or the third reading.
– Not on the third reading.
– I can discuss, on the third reading, anything which I could discuss on the second reading The debate is just as’ open and wide on the third reading as it is on the second reading of a Bill. So, at least, the authorities say. I do not know. I am beginning to wonder lately whether there are any parliamentary authorities.
– Order 1 The honorable member should confine himself to the question.
– I intend to do so. I hope you, sir, will not confine yourself to me. You are doing so with a vengeance lately.
– The honorable member must cease these reflections upon the Chair. I have to put up with them almost every time the honorable member gets up to speak. I ask now that they shall not be continued.
– I never get up to speak, but you, sir, come at me at once.
– If the honorable member again reflects upon the Chair, I shall name him to the House.
– I am inclined to think that I shall be named before I have gone very much further. It seems to me to be quite in the order of things now proceeding that I should be named. Sir, I decline to proceed in the circumstances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth September, vide page 3108):
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Navigation Act 1911, and shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation.
– Early this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition expressed a hope that we should be able at least to take up certain portions of the Navigation Bill. He pointed out that it is an extraordinarily long measure. I candidly admit that, owing to the length of the measure, and to the fact that so many varied interests are covered by it, beginning the proceedings of the Committee stage seems like starting upon a long race without knowing when one is to finish. I move -
That after the word “ proclamation “, the following words be added : - “ after the King’s assent thereto has been proclaimed in the Commonwealth.”
It was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition on the second reading of the Bill that this was a very desirable amendment to make. If it be made it will meet a suggestion referred to in the correspondence with the Board of Trade. They have said that some such qualification of this clause is desirable in order to avoid any doubt as to the validity of the measure. The Imperial authorities contend that the Commonwealth Parliament has not the right, under the Constitution, to legislate in the way proposed, and that our power to do so is derived only from sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act. I do not know whether the Attorney-General admits that contention for a moment, but it is doubtful whether we should refuse to make the amendment merely in order to test the question. As it deals with a purely legal matter, the amendment will be discussed, if necessary, by the Attorney-General.
.- I think, on the whole, that the Minister is right in seeking to put in this amendment. This matter has been the subject of a great deal of correspondence with the Imperial Government, and, I think, of a memorandum by the Attorney-General’s Department.
– By the Customs Department.
– I think that Mr. Garran also submitted a memorandum, and, as a matter of fact, gave an opinion which was the basis of the correspondence with the Board of Trade. The point was as to whether we should be impliedly restricting our opinion of our power - because we cannot restrict our power - by putting in these words; whether it would involve a recognition of a statement of the advisers of the Board of Trade. As we have independent powers under the Constitution, I see no harm in making the amendment, because if the source of our power be the Merchant Shipping Act, we shall have complied with sections 735 and 736 of that Act.
– I concur that this is a very desirable amendment to make; but has the AttorneyGeneral considered whether these words go far enough to indicate that .the Bill is to be reserved for the Royal assent? He will remember that, in my second-reading speech, I quoted part of the. Merchant Shipping Act relating to the coasting trade. That Act gives self-governing dominions power over the coasting trade in certain cases to be dealt with in legislation which, on the face thereof, appears to be reserved for the Royal assent. I should like ‘to know whether the Attorney-General means these words to indicate that the Bill is to be reserved for the Royal assent, because, so far, there is nothing to show that it is to be so reserved. Probably, to comply strictly with the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act, there ought to be a clause to that effect.
– The Lighthouses Bill may be invalid, because we did not do that.
– I am not quite sure on the point, but I think that my suggestion is worth taking a note of.
– We do not admit that, under the Constitution, such a provision as is proposed is absolutely necessary. There has been a lengthy correspondence with the Board of m Trade, and we are animated b.y a very hearty desire to meet them in every possible way. We desire, too, that there should be not only conformity in shipping legislation, but a recognition of our wish to promote conformity, and this clause has been inserted to show clearly that our intent is not at all to ignore, or in any way to invite conflict, but rather to preclude it. I think that the clause is sufficient to satisfy the Board of Trade, andalso the terms of sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act. I think that the terms of the amendment will sufficiently indicate that the Bill cannot take effect until after the King’s assent has been proclaimed. If it cannot take effect until then, clearly the King’s assent must have been obtained, and as soon as it is obtained we should, of course, know of it. And that being so, I think that it goes beyond what the Merchant Shipping Act requires, if that Act imposes any limitations upon the powers of the Constitution in this direction. I therefore think that the amendment goes far enough.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall not apply to ships belonging to the King’s Navy, or the Navy of the Commonwealth, or of any British Possession, or to the Navy of any foreign Government.
.- The Minister of Trade and Customs will remember that a question was raised by the Marine Board of South Australia as to why the draft of this clause as it stood in the Bill of 1908 has been amended. I have not a copy of that Bill here, but I think that in 1908, and probably until 1910, in clause 2 the Bill was expressed not to apply to public ships belonging to the King. According to what I read in the press, the President of the Marine Board of South Australia wrote to the Minister some time ago expressing surprise at the terms of clause 2 being altered in the present Bill. Down to 1908, if not to 1910, the public ships of the State Government were exempt from the operation of the Bill, and the President of the Marine Board of South Australia, with a good deal of reason I think, drew attention to the fact that by including not merely the navies, but the ships of the Government of the State, many of the vessels of the Marine Board whose operations are confined to the State, and which, I believe, . never go beyond the State would - so far as this measure is valid, and there may be doubt on the particular provisions that would affect the position - come within its provisions. I have here a letter in which it is mentioned that South Australia is about to re-organize marine matters. A new Board is to be created to control harbors and all matters within its jurisdiction. The local Bill contains the necessary provisions, and among other things the Board will control harbor lights, harbor works, pilotage, and so on. There is a list of various matters which will be subject to the administration of the reconstituted Marine Board, and naturally the authorities, who are making elaborate provision for the control of various matters which are touched by the local Bill, are anxious to see that their local jurisdiction is not overridden by the provisions of our Bill, which may not really be necessary for the accomplishment of our purpose. Among things to which attention, is drawn, is the amendment of clause 2, so as to bring within its scope Government vessels, including, of course, all the vessels of a subordinate agency of the Government, such as the Marine Board. I have doubts on the policy. I only want to know what the Minister has to say about the matter. This Bill is based on the assumption that we have incidental powers, fairly far-reaching, to frame a rule of the road applicable to vessels on the sea, because the sea is really the highway not only for local purposes, but also for InterState purposes. Probably the AttorneyGeneral, in advising on this Bill, assumed that, as we have Inter-State power in relation to lights and beacons, that InterState power will be very limited, unless it gives us power to frame rules applicable to all vessels using Inter-State means of carriage, and as part of an Inter-State voyage must be over local waters, if vessels use local waters, although their operations do not extend to another State, they must be subject to the rules framed under the Commonwealth law, because we could not have one rule as to lights for an Inter-Stale vessel, and another rule applicable to an Inter-State voyage. It does not necessarily follow because the Marine Board has pointed out the position in which they would be placed, that they are in the right. 1 have not had time to sift the matter. That, perhaps, is a point of view that may have been overlooked.
– There is not any question of State instrumentalities?.
– I am glad that the honorable member has made that remark, because I have looked up the matter a little, lt is doubtful whether these vessels would be State instrumentalities. It has not been absolutely decided bv the High Court - it may soon be decided - as to when a vessel or a Government does something which might be regarded as trading it still retains its character as a Government instrumentality in the ordinary sense - that is to say, something which is required as an agency to give efficiency to Government administration. It may be merely a trading body, and, if so, I am afraid that the matter has already been decided’ by an undelivered judgment. In America this very question cropped up, and there it was held, in two cases, that State vessels are not necessarily instrumentalities of Government. I mention that because it may be that some of the Boards of the States think they will be exempt under the doctrine of State instrumentality. In one case - that of the Oyster Police Steamers of Maryland, which is reported in Volume 131 of the Federal Reporter, page 763, it was held that the steam vessels belonging to that State, and used by its officers in the enforcement of its fishery laws to protect the State oyster beds, &c, were subject to the navigation law of the United States, which, amongst other things, provided for an inspection of the boilers and hulls of those vessels. The Court stated that the exemption from seizure by private suitors both at common law and in the Admiralty of the proper instruments of Government, when not the result of special legislation, was based entirely upon the rule of public policy established by the Courts, which, upon grounds of public welfare and necessity, protected from public sequestration property required for the exercise of governmental powers, either inherent or delegated. But I find but little analogy between this exemption and the claim to be exempt from a penal forfeiture inflicted by a valid law enacted by a sovereign power having express power granted to make the law. That is not absolutely conclusive, because it assumes the validity of the law. I think that the Court went on to distinguish between such agencies of the Government as really were governmental in character and those which were of a purely trading character.
– Did the Court indicate any rule under which it drew that distinction?
– I do not think that it did in that case. There have been subsequent cases in which the doctrine of instrumentalities has been more widely recognised. But in the final case, that of South Carolina v. the United States, it was held that the trade by a State in liquor was pure trading, and that the Government licences issued in connexion with that trade were not exempt from taxation on the ground that they were instrumental to the functions of Government. On other grounds, too - for instance, the necessity of having a rule of the road - it may be decided that the vessels of the Marine Board of South Australia are subject to our navigation law. . That brings me back to the policy of whether we ought to extend our navigation law to them. There is another matter connected with this clause to which I desire to direct attention. I am sure that the honorable member for Kooyong, who has just entered the chamber, and other honorable members who are very familiar with this Bill, desire only to bring forward points of substance with a view of getting this technical measure disposed of as quickly as possible.
– It would be more convenient if proposals which are in any way cognate to the scope of the amendment were indicated now, so that we might discuss them at once.
– There may not be a great many amendments to make in the Bill. Honorable members can only point out its defects, and leave it to the Government to bring forward amendments to remedy them.
– That course will be very difficult, seeing that the Bill has already passed the Senate.
– Personally I would suggest that the Government ought to include in this clause some such provision as is contained in the Act of 1908, so as to give a greater scope than would otherwise be possible to the amended marine laws of South Australia. Are we called upon by any public necessity to interfere with that State’s local management of this matter? I doubt it. The voyages of State vessels do not extend outside that State. In England such vessels are exempt from the operation of the Merchant Shipping Act. They can be brought under that Act only by an express Order-in-Council. The extent to which the law can apply to them depends entirely on what- the Admiralty thinks best.- I suggest to the Minister of Trade and Customs that State vessels ought to be exempt from this Bill. We ought to insert at the end of this clause the words, “or to public ships belonging to a State.” I think those are the words which are contained in the Act of 1908, so that they must have been carefully considered. At any rate, they would include all vessels which belong to the Marine Board.
– Would they include pilot- boats?
– I think so. These vessels may be exempted from the operation of the Bill as instrumentalities. But there is no reason why we should not expressly exempt them if there is no paramount policy which determines the expediency of including them in the Bill. I wish also to direct attention to a letter which has reached me, and which has reference to Papua. If what is stated in the copy of a letter which has been sent to the Minister is correct, we may be granting a monopoly to one line of steamers in Papua by continuing to make this Bill applicable to that Territory. It has already been pointed out that Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company receive a sub sidy of ,£3,000 a year from the Commonwealth, and that there are other lines of steamers - the North German Lloyd Company’s vessels, for example - which necessarily have to employ coloured crews, and which may not pay the rates of wages which are prescribed by this Bill. These lines, to continue trading, will have to pay the crews of their vessels the rates of wages set out in the Bill. It has already been pointed out that that will have an unfortunate effect upon Papua, because there will be given to one subsidized company a monopoly of the trade in it. There will, it is thought, be no competition of any moment. Is it wise to say that these vessels cannot trade between our territory and Papua outside the conditions of this Bill? They may be outside the conditions of our Bill altogether for general purposes; but in connexion with Papua they may need to have crews such as would not take them outside it. In the letter to which I have referred it is stated that there are in Papua several merchants who, in connexion with their business, must run small boats on which they cannot pay white men’s wages. We have to remember that in this connexion we are dealing, not with Australia, but with a coloured settlement. It has been pointed out that if these local merchants are not to employ native crews on their boats, except upon the condition that they pay the wages properly applicable to Australia, the development of the Territory may be greatly retarded. I merely draw attention to these matters; the Minister himself may see his way to make an amendment in this direction as regards the State. The other exemption need not be put in. We might add the words, “or to voyages between Australia and the Territory of Papua until a date to be fixed by proclamation.” In other words, we might provide that in respect of any voyage between Australia and Papua this measure shall not apply until a date to be fixed by proclamation. When it became expedient the proclamation might be issued. That, perhaps, might go too far. It might, for instance, give Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company the right to employ coloured crews. I do not know whether they do so at present. It is possible that, with a subsidy of £3,000 a year, they are in a position to pay on those vessels the rates applicable to the coasting trade of Austrafia proper; but some such words as I suggest would meet the purpose.
– The point raised by the honorable member is of great importance. -) The position of the Commonwealth is by no means clear, nor can we hope it to be made so until there has been some pronouncement upon it by a Court of Law. But the position of the Government - and I think it should be that of the Parliament - is that, subject to any restriction which the Court declares that the Constitution or Imperial law imposes, we should not limit our powers in regard to navigation and snipping. It is obvious, I think, that the interests of the Commonwealth and of the Empire are alike bound up in uniformity of navigation and shipping laws. That has been strongly recognised by the various efforts made from time to time to bring about uniformity. Some five years ago, a Conference was held in London, at which representatives of the Commonwealth and New Zealand, as well as of the United Kingdom, were present. An effort was then made, as far as possible, to promote uniformity - to adjust matters in dispute, and to get such general uniformity of law as would be convenient and advantageous for the greatest industry of the Empire. For whatever else we may say of the shipping industry, we must always remember that it is incomparably the greatest industry of the Empire, and that it would be most unfortunate if, in attempting to-night to secure uniformity of legislation throughout the Commonwealth, and ultimately throughout the Empire - for I take it that is what we are trying to do - we should substitute for six laws and the Merchant Shipping Act seven laws and the Merchant Shipping Act. It is proposed, by a suggested amendment, to create another class of ships which might possibly be outside any existing or future Commonwealth laws. For my own part, I do not think that State ships should be treated differently from privately-owned ships. All persons using the highway, whether they be kings or beggars, should observe the same laws. The rule of the road in respect of our city streets, and that relating to our country highways, is made for all, and applies to all, and I think that the rule of the road on the ocean highways should apply to all, whether it be the State or private citizens.
This Bill, since its first introduction, has gone through an evolution almost historical, and very suggestive in its nature. We see clearly written in these pages before us how the first relatively crude conception laid on the table has evolved, until we have the comparatively finished project that is now before us.
It has been said by honorable members opposite that the Government have listened to suggestions, and have very extensively embodied in the Bill proposed amendments. That is perfectly true, and no greater compliment could be paid to the Government than that fact. That being the position, we have to consider the scope and intention of the Bill in its relation to the proposed amendment. The intention of the Bill is to promote uniformity of law, and, therefore, we should certainly hesitate before we take any class of ships out of its operation, since that would interfere with the very purpose for which the Bill is introduced. We want uniformity; but the suggestion is that we should legislate in such a way as not to secure it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– Any attempt to limit the scope of the measure is opposed to the very purpose for which it is introduced. Our endeavour is to secure uniformity. That can be “the only excuse for the Commonwealth interfering in this matter at all. In support of the view that it is desirable net only to have uniform legislation throughout Australia with regard to navigation and shipping, but uniform legislation throughout the Empire, I may point out that, in regard to copyright, patent law, and trade marks, as far as possible we repeat the English Statutes. In the Copyright Bill we have adopted the English Statute without alteration. The advantage of that practice is so obvious that it requires no argument. A man throughout the Empire knows exactly where he is. There is not one law here and another law in England. If uniformity be desirable in regard to copyright, patents, and other matters of that sort, how much more, desirable is it in the case of a law dealing with the most important industry of the Empire, upon which indeed the Empire absolutely depends? It is proposed so to limit the scope of the Commonwealth measure that there will be six State Acts operative in regard to Intrastate shipping, another for Inter-State shipping, and an absolute exemption in regard to State-owned ships. If that were done, we should have four distinct classes of shipping - foreign shipping, to which the
Bill will necessarily apply only in part; Commonwealth shipping, to which it will apply wholly; Intra-State shipping, to which it will apply, subject to the Constitution ; and State-owned shipping, to which it will not apply at all. If that is -the way in which it is proposed to secure a uniform law, we might well despair at the very outset of ever attaining it.
It is perfectly obvious that, whatever limitation there may be upon the powers of the Commonwealth to make laws in respect of navigation and shipping with regard to ships trading wholly within the limits of one State, that limitation clearly cannot extend to the rule of the road. Here is a highway along which Commonwealth and foreign shipping must pass. On that highway, our shipping must travel. It is absurd to say that we cannot make laws with respect to shipping that uses that road. The greatest danger to which shipping is exposed nowadays is not from wreck by storms or cataclysms of nature, but rather from the clumsiness, the stupidity, and the negligence of men. The
Titanic went down, as we know from the finding, owing to reckless negligence in the manner in which she was navigated. The risk of collision with derelicts, or insufficiently lighted vessels, is patent to all, and therefore the Commonwealth legislation in respect to the rule of the road must run all over Australia. In saying that, of course I am speaking of navigable, not inland waters, and of the rule of the road as it may be defined to affect Commonwealth shipping, properly so called. Clearly that affects, amongst other things, general observance of the rules of the road, the lighting of vessels, and their efficient navigation. I am putting those things which seem to be beyond argument. We come then to matters that I admit are not beyond argument. To what extent the manning of a vessel is incidental to that efficient navigation necessary for the safety of other vessels using the ocean highway, it is, of course, very difficult to precisely determine, but I should certainly say that an insufficiently and inefficiently manned vessel is a danger to all navigation. An Intra-State collier, for instance, goes out loaded below her mark. The men on her are worked for too long hours. No watch is kept, or very little, or the man on watch is asleep. We might leave that ship alone if she did not affect the safety of other ships, and the people on them, but such a vessel is a danger, not only to herself, but to all marine transport using that road. Just as a drunken chauffeur is a danger to all traffic, so an inefficiently manned boat is a danger to all marine transport. Whatever may be the limitations of the extent to which the Commonwealth may go in this matter, the Commonwealth ought not voluntarily to surrender any of its powers. It ought to endeavour to secure the purpose for which it was clothed with this very power, namely, uniformity of legislation, and that, in these days, proceeds along lines which are every day becoming more and more clearly defined. These are the safety of the travelling public and of the persons engaged in navigation.
The proposal to exempt State-owned ships is one to which I cannot agree. I could not agree with it, even if those other and broader reasons for disagreeing with it were not present. I do not think any ships should be specially exempted from the operation of this Act. It may be that the Constitution will exclude them. To the extent to which the Constitution would exclude Intra-State shipping, to that extent State-owned shipping would enjoy the same immunity. To more than that it ought not to be entitled. Why should it be? It is a little extraordinary that honorable members who are opposed to the principle of extending the functions of the State as an employer should propose to give the State, as an- employer, certain advantages over and above anybody else. The task of this Parliament is to make a law which will guarantee the safety of the travelling public as far as human effort can do so. I do not see why State-owned shipping should not be put on the same footing as privately-owned. That seems to me the principle of the matter. Attacking the proposal in detail, what are the ships which we are asked to exempt? I suppose if we obtained a category of State-owned shipping, we should find dredges and vessels of that class in an enormous majority. There are also small launches engaged in Marine Board and Harbor Board work. Then there are tugs and tenders. But with the exception of Western Australia I am not aware that any State has shipping in a sense that ought to be seriously considered in connexion with a Navigation Bill. They mostly have harbor and inland waters shipping or dredges, which are only technically shipping in any sense.
– They are working under awards, though.
– Of course they are. Under the circumstances, I cannot see, looking at the matter from the broad, general principle which underlies this measure, or regarding it from the aspect of the motive of the Bill - that keen and vigilant interference with all things which tend to inconvenience and endanger public life and safety - that we ought to make any distinction between one class of shipping and another. As far as the Constitution limits the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to Intra-State shipping, this Stateowned shipping will enjoy the same exemptions as privately-owned shipping. More than that ought not to be asked. Lastly, in regard to the shipping itself in detail, it is mostly shipping that in the very nature of the thing is affected by this measure in so slight a degree as to be practically outside it altogether. One other point was brought up by the honorable member for Angas in regard to Papua. Whether the Bill should extend to Papua is, of course, a matter for agreement. I am dealing only with the honorable gentleman’s objection, which applies equally to all shipping, where there .is, or may be, competition by vessels employing coloured crews. He contended that if this Bill was to extend to Papua, some vessels would be unable to pay the wages demanded on the coast. I am bound to say that such an argument does not appeal to me. What is the settled policy of this country? It is, and has been since the Parliament first had an opportunity to express itself, protection to the industries of Australia. I say this as one who, when there was an opportunity to express an opinion legislatively, opposed the policy. But it has now become the settled, and I think within our lifetime, the unalterable policy of this Commonwealth. I am utterly at a loss to understand why differential treatment should be meted out to this above any other industry? Is it the fact that it is conducted afloat that marks it out for different treatment? Because a man invests £50,000 or £500,000 in ships, is he to be treated differently from what he would be if he put £50,000 or £500,000 into a factory? I do not think so. But it is suggested that because the object is to limit competition and prevent coloured-labour boats plying to Papua, we ought not to apply the provision to that Possession. We can hardly anticipate now the inevitable results of this measure. We cannot say what they will be. We must wait and see. I do not admit that the result will be what the honorable member says. But I do say that this Parliament is committed to the policy of protection to native industries. That is one point. It is also committed to the White Australia policy. That is another point. We have a perfect right to endeavour to effect our object by insisting that all vessels trading on this coast shall pay the standard rates of wages, so that competition shall be fair; and no competition can be regarded as fair where men who are paid £8 or £9 a month have to- compete with persons who are paid 15s., 20s., and 30s. a month. In these circumstances, I think it would be a mistake to limit the scope of the measure any further than is expressed in this clause. For that reason, I hope the clause will stand as printed, and be confined to the King’s Navy, the Navy of the Commonwealth, or of any British Possession, and to the Navy of any foreign Government. It is merely an act of courtesy to insert the words applying to the Navy of any foreign Government. We have no power over any such vessels. We could not exercise such power with regard to the fighting ships of the Empire. The regulations in respect to them are in the very nature of the thing different. They are not mercantile marine, but fighting ships, and those laws which are applicable to peace are not suitable to war.
. -I do not know that there is any grave difference between us in regard to the matter discussed by the honorable member for Angas. But certain suggestions were made to the Government, which I think were, at least, entitled to consideration. As to the suggestion of the Attorney-General regarding the desirability of securing uniformity, I do not suppose that there is any honorable member who will for a moment dissent from his view. The only remark that I would make on the point is that, speaking generally, my honorable friend has not taken advantage of every opportunity to secure uniformity in this particular. I pointed out several instances where that criticism would especially apply. The point made by the Attorney-General was this : He said that it was most undesirable that this Navigation Bill should have the effect of making a seventh law as far as navigation is concerned. That is a somewhat elastic statement, and is hardly correct. It is not possible for us by this legislation to do away with certain powers which the States will *ill retain. It is quite true that by this navigation law we shall be able to deal with the vast proportion of our shipping. But the Constitution prescribes - and the provision is supported by judicial authority - that Intra-State shipping and vessels completely connected with Intra-State shipping shall be under the control of the State authorities.
– Does not the honorable member think that that is an anomaly?
– It is what the Constitution provides, and we must take the Constitution as we find it. The point I am making is this : Whilst complete uniformity may be desirable, still the fact remains that certain legislative power and jurisdiction will continue in the hands of the several States. I admit, as I have already indicated, that, speaking generally, the vast proportion of our shipping would be regulated by this national law. But my point is that we cannot by this measure secure absolute uniformity. Therefore, we must recognise that to a certain extent there must be seven navigation laws.
– Is not uniformity desirable?
– I think we should proceed towards uniformity as far as the Constitution will permit. I have complained that the Government have failed to do that which is within their power, so far as the British merchant shipping laws are concerned. Under the Constitution, as has been held by the High Court, the States have control over IntraState shipping. Is is, therefore, a reasonable suggestion that State vessels may be left under the control of the States themselves. As the honorable member tor Angas has pointed out, South Australia has a considerable amount of shipping under its control. I admit that, as soon as State ships appear on the national highway, they must be subject to the rule of the road; and I believe our Constitution gives us full power in this connexion. I for one was under the impression that our power was greater than it is, following the line of the decisions of the American Court; but our views have been considerably modified by the Kalibia case, in which it was held that the Commonwealth had no control over Intra-State shipping.
– Would not the InterState Commission have control?
– I do not think so ; the Inter-State Commission would have control only so far as differential rates, and so forth, are concerned.
– It is a peculiar thing that the Inter- State Commission should havecontrol over rates and fares, and not over wages.
– All industrial powers are reserved to the States, except in regard to Inter-State disputes; and so it is that we may reasonably expect the control of Inter- State shipping to remain with the States, and. that we hear the honorable member for Angas urging that the whole spirit and form of the Constitution means that the control of State shipping remains with the States.
– But what if the Stateships are doing Inter- State work?
– In such cases, the shipping would come under the Navigation Bill, foreign and Interestate trade being directly within the jurisdiction of the National Parliament. I submit, however, that, in shipping matters, a certain amount of authority remains with the States; and, therefore, f am anxious that we should not pass clauses which would throw any doubt on the constitutionality of the measure asa whole. While we have the undoubted power, so far as the rule of the road is concerned, we have no right, I submit, sofar as Intra-State shipping is concerned, toprescribe details as to the building, and so forth, of ships; that is a matter essentially for State legislation. I join withthe honorable member for Angas in urging, the Committee not to throw any doubt onthe constitutionality of the measure by the inclusion of questionable clauses. Of course, there is no doubt as to dredges, launches, and so forth, being within the control of the State; but there are other vessels, amongst them, for instance, the Lady Loch. That vessel is used for the purpose of supplying stores to lighthouses ; and would it be suggested that this vesselshould be taken from the control of the State? I merely mention the Lady Loch as an instance; and I have no doubt the honorable member for Hindmarsh could tell us of similar vessels under the control of the South Australian Government. It is a reasonable suggestion’ by the honorablemember for Angas that such vessels should remain under State jurisdiction.
– Would the honorable member make that suggestion if thesevessels were doing Inter-State trade?
– No; if the vessels were engaged in Inter-State trade, they would necessarily come under the navigation law. We know, however, that those vessels are not engaged in Inter-State trade, but are identified with the immediate requirements of the State itself. I admit at once that, if the States had shipping engaged in competition in Inter- State trade, the argument of the honorable member for Angas would not be a sound one; but we know, as a matter of fact, that vessels such as I have suggested are used for State business only, and should, therefore, be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. It is true, as the AttorneyGeneral pointed out, that Protection and a White Australia is the policy of the Commonwealth, but it is not the policy of Papua nor of the Commonwealthto apply the White Australia principle in that Territory. I admit that the concession to Papua is only a matter of immediate expediency, and should not continue for any considerable length of time. The white residents of the Territory are apprehensive that serious results will follow the application of Australian conditions to all vessels engaged in trade with , Papua. Until quite recently it has been found very difficult to get vessels to go to Papua, and now that Dutch and other liners have been induced to call, it is thought that it would be unwise to interfere with them, because any stoppage of or reduction of communications would at once affect the progress and prosperity of the Territory.
– Would not the honorable member protect an Australian steam-ship company trading to Papua against the competition of a Dutch company or any other foreign company?
– I shall be desirous of doing so when we can do it conveniently ; but communication with Papua having been established with difficulty, it should not be suddenly discouraged. Discrimination already exists in the Bill, although perhaps under a technical disguise, the fact being that a concession is being made to Western Australia. The suggestions of the honorable member for Angas in regard to shipping trading with Papua and the exemption of State-owned vessels are entitled to consideration.
– There is a view to be taken in regard to the exemption of State-owned vessels other than that of the honorable member for Angas, and if the Committee accepts it, no alteration of the clause will be necessary. The honorable member for Kooyong speaks of the prospect of having, not one navigation law, but seven. That is one of the disadvantages of our Constitution. I see no reason why Stateowned vessels should be exempted.
– Would the honorable member include dredges ?
– I would not exempt them. When the High Court gets on the job, there will be exemptions enough ; the claims of the State Righters will be maintained with a vengeance. It is said that the earlier Bills - this is Ihe third or fourth Bill that has been drafted - exempted State-owned vessels, but the reason is easy to discover. The first Bill was drafted by eminent State officials, who were not likely to introduce provisions which might put the State Marine Boards out of court. Let us look at the matter practically. Why should we say to private ship-owners, “ You must obey certain rules in connexion with the manning of your vessels, and the working and housing of your crews,” and exempt the authorities controlling the Stateowned vessels from these rules. Of course, these comic-opera sovereign authorities wish to be supreme, but why should a Stateowned vessel have fewer men in her stokehold than a private vessel of the same class would be compelled to carry ? A State Minister, like any other, not knowing anything about many of the matters under his control, has to accept the advice of his responsible officers, and an officer intrusted with the management of State vessels might suggest the utter disregard of the Commonwealth navigation law. In nine cases out of ten, this would be done in pure cussedness. When we take over the lighthouses, if that ever happens - becauseI am beginning to doubt our right to do anything - we shall need vessels to do the work that is now done under the authority of the States by the Lady Loch, the Governor Musgrave, and others, and those vessels, will not be exempt. Over and over again, disputes have arisen unnecessarily on these vessels, without the power of appeal by their employes, because they were serving on the King’s ships. It has only been under sympathetic Ministers that the removal of grievances has been possible. If the State Governments are entitlec to any exemption from a Federal law, nc doubt the High Court will preserve their rights. But we should make no special exemptions on behalf of any of the State Governments. It may be said of the State Governments in Australia, and possibly will be said of the Federal Government before long, that while they are very anxious that the public should conform to the law they are very seldom anxious to conform to it themselves. Every man who has been in public life in Australia for any time must be aware that many public offices are, from a health point of view, a disgrace to the Government under whose control they are. If they were the property of private persons, some public health officer would be down upon them at once, and insist upon alterations; but a Government apparently acts on its own sweet will, and does as it pleases in such matters. In view of this there is :ill the more reason why we should not make any exemptions in favour of Governments in a measure of this kind. If this be a desirable law to bring into operation against the public, it should be brought into operation equally against any Government or their servants. I shall not argue the legal aspect of the question with the honorable member for Angas, but content myself with putting what I believe to be the popular view of the matter. If honorable members will regard it in this light they will agree that the State Governments and the Federal Government should fall into line with what is required from private ship-owners.
.- The honorable member for Angas has not indicated an intention to move any amendment, but he has mentioned the fact that if certain vessels are State instrumentalities for the carrying out of purely State purposes, it is questionable whether it is within the competence of this Parliament to legally control such vessels.
– Very likely the honorable member is right in that.
– I think he is. If such vessels cast off the character, of State instrumentalities, and take on the character of privately-owned vessels, the honorable member for Angas does not suggest for a moment that they should not be made to comply with our navigation law in just the same way as privately-owned vessels. State Governments sometimes lend State-owned vessels to public persons and authorities for river picnics, and I have no hesitation in saying that in such cases there is no reason why those controlling the Stateowned vessels should not comply with the same provisions for the safety of the public as those in charge of privately-owned vessels are compelled to comply with. I have no sympathy with any desire to exempt those in charge of Government vessels from complying with the safeguards which we require from private owners of- vessels. If by the law we require that certain accommodation and a certain dietary scale shall be provided for seamen on privately-owned vessels, we should demand« that the same accommodation and the same dietary scale shall be provided for seamen on State-owned vessels so far as our power of legislation extends. We say that this Bill shall not apply to vessels of the Navy of any foreign Government. It has already been held under English law in connexion, for instance, with a Turkish vessel, that while it remained in British ports, and carried its character of sovereignty as representing the country from which it was despatched, it was entitled to certain privileges and exemptions from the law, but as soon as it engaged in trading operations it lost its character of sovereignty, and became subject to the law as it applied to any ordinary privately-owned vessel. That is the common-sense way of looking at such matters. The same rule will apply to our Government vessels. The Commonwealth Government will take over the boats which are now engaged in going from one lighthouse to another, and I say that the provisions of this law in toto ought to apply to those .vessels, and there should be no exemption whatever in their case. I have no doubt that on that point we are all agreed. But what still remains to be settled is the extent of our control, if any, of State instrumentalities, and there are serious doubts -as to our right to interfere with them.
– Does the honorable member say that a Government boat when carrying merchandise cannot be regarded as a State instrumentality?
– I put this case to the honorable member : Suppose the Government of Western Australia were to decide to engage in Inter- State trade in the transport, for instance, of stock from the eastern States to Western Australia. Their vessels engaged in that trade would acquire a new character, and it is open to question whether in such circumstances they could be regarded as purely State instrumentalities.
– They should be brought under our Federal Act.
– I say that if Stateowned vessels are engaged under conditions which bring them into competition with privately-owned vessels, they should be given no privilege or preference of any kind. I hope that it will be proved to be within our power to treat them in that way.
– What about the comparison, of railways which are carrying on trade in competition with private carriers ?
– The Commonwealth has power to deal with certain aspects of InterState trade by railways. The honorable member is suggesting that a State railway can afford to carry goods cheaper than can private persons. I am not dealing with that aspect of the question. I am speaking of the competition of State-owned and privately-owned vessels in the same field of operations, and I say that if both are engaged in competition in the same sphere they should be subject to the same conditions. One other point to which I wish to refer is the intention of the Government, as I understand it, to apply the provisions of this Bill to Papua. It will be a very serious matter if we attempt to apply the whole of the provisions of this Bill to Papua under existing conditions.
– There is a suggested amendment.
– I am aware of that. I am asking that the Minister shall carefully consider the matter. As it has been raised, I should like to make a few remarks in order that the Minister can consider the position, and perhaps at a later stage he may be able to bring down an amendment and save discussion then. I hold in my hand a letter from Messrs. C. R. Baldwin Limited, merchants, of Port Moresby, in Papua, and Sydney, in which the writer deals with the question of applying the coastal provisions generally to the boats trading with Papua now. The Minister is, of course, aware that one of the questions which have constantly troubled the External Affairs Department, has been the difficulty of getting regular communication between Australia and the Territory. He knows that often it used to take three or four months before the Department was able to get a decision on any subject, owing to the lack of means of communication. In 1909, the Department took steps to bring about an improvement, and called for tenders which, I think, the late Mr. Batchelor subsequently accepted. This firm point out that, at the present time, there are other facilities which the Bill threatens; but I do not intend to discuss that matter at this stage. The writer goes on to say -
There is another manner in which the proposed legislation would seriously affect the development of Papua. Most of the merchants and trading companies in the South Sca Islands run small schooners and cutters along the coast, and to the adjacent islands, for trading purposes. These boats, for the most part, ave in charge of natives, or one white man assisted by native boys. The conditions of trade would nEver warrant these boats being manned in any other way, but if the proposed legislation comes into force in Papua, these boats will certainly have lo cease trading.
It is for the above-mentioned reasons that the whole of the white settlers in Papua recognise that the proposed legislation will be a serious set-back to the development of the country. Unfortunately, as already stated, Papuan residents are entirely without representation in Australian politics, and have no means whatever of bringing their views or interests before the people of Australia, except by means of thi’ press.
The writer of this letter refers to the fact that a petition Has been presented, and states that this legislation, if carried out. will seriously affect the development of trade and commerce. What I should like the Minister to consider, when he comes to deal with the question of Papua, is the condition of its coasting trade, because I take it that we are governing the Territory primarily, not in the interests of the white people, but in the interests of the natives themselves.
– What do you call the coasting trade?
– I refer to the trade round Papua, and from the islands and back again. We are the trustees to protect the interests of the natives, and that is our primary charge. When the country was taken possession of in the name of Great Britain, the natives were assured that the lands would be theirs, and our whole land legislation is based on that principle. We have not resumed their lands, generally speaking, and we only take over from time to time lands which a.re not required by natives.
– Still, I think that we should discuss the Papuan trade when we come to the clause dealing with that matter.
– This Bill generally applies to ships.
– Then, according to that suggestion,, we can discuss the Papuan trade on every one of its 424 clauses?
– I am only instancing this case. However, if any of the clauses do apply to Papuan conditions, it will be legitimate to make a reference of this kind.
– The whole question -will be brought up on a proposed new clause.
– I do not desire to go further into the matter. I have only made these remarks because the matter has been brought under our notice. I expect that the Minister will give it his consideration, because I feel sure that he does not want to do anything which would’ act as a sort of set-back to those who are engaged in the development of the Territory and finding employment, especially for the natives..
.- It may save the Minister a little trouble afterwards if I say a few words now. I put the case as it seems to have been discussed by such bodies, as the Marine Boards, but I think it is due to these public bodies, if not tothe: States which they represent, and from which there may have been, some communication, to put before the Committee what is apparently agitating their minds.
– I think that we received a communication from most of the State Governments on this very point.
– I did not move an amendment, because I thought that, so far as the boats are not public, boats - and the Minister will remember that I expressly suggested public boats - they ought to be subject to whatever rule of the road we can apply. What we can apply is exceedingly doubtful, but the State authorities must take their chance as well as other bodies. What may be agitating their minds is the thought that they will be subject to the. awards that are made as regards rates of wages.
– I do not think that. This will not bring them, within- that or put them- out of it.
– The point is that the navigation power may extend to the regulation of wages. Some people seem, to think, that it does, but that is extremely doubtful.
– We cannot make any prohibition or any exception in regard to industrial matters.
– I am not asking that at all. So long as a vessel of a State is exercising the ordinary operations of private enterprise it ought to be subject to the very same law. I am not going even to deal with its public vessels now, because I believe if they are public they will be instrumentalities, and if they are not public they ought to fall within the ordinary law. I think that some of those State bodies imagine that the navigation power extendsto the regulation of wages on vessels.
– There is some difference of opinion on that point.
– The honorable member does not think that for a moment, does he?
– As a matter of fact, I have a letter in which the writer says that it is a most monstrous proposal to bring, such vessels under the awards of the Commonwealth. It is not a very mistaken im~pression for any persons to form, because, as a matter of fact, Ministers have thought that the navigation power enabled them to pass the Seamen’s Compensation Bill of 3909. I did not think so..
– I thought that it was your Government who passed that measure.
– The Minister is quite right. As the Bill came from my hands originally, it did not include the ultra vires provision, but the Senate thought that it was such a limited exercise of our powers that the Bill would not have gone through, if we had not extended its scope. It was: drafted, however, to give the High Court an opportunity of knocking, out any provisions which might be. beyond our jurisdiction, but the Judges had a difference of opinion.
– And they passed it’ all out.
– They knocked the tot out, and it was easy to pass another measure which received the blessing of honorable members on each side.
– This Bill is being, drafted in accordance with the Constitution.
– No doubt So far as public, bodies think that this Bill gives the right, of regulating the conditions- of em- ployment on a vessel, I am afraid that they will find that it is not so. It was not the navigation power, but the commerce power, under which we passed the Seamen’s Compensation Bill.
– Do you mind quoting the letter to which you referred just now ?
– It is marked on the top “ private and confidential.”
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Definitions).
– I move -
That the clause be postponed.
– Till when?
– Until the remaining provisions of the Bill have been dealt with. I feel sure that the honorable member for Kooyong, who has had a greater experience of this measure than has any other honorable member, will agree with me that after we have considered its remaining clauses, we shall have a better grasp of the various points which are contained in it than we shall have if we consider the definitions clause now.
Motion agreed to; clause postponed.
Clause 6 -
This Act shall be administered by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Department of Trade and Customs shall be the Department to carry it into effect.
.- In South Australia, it was enacted by a Bill which was passed in . 1910 that if the Minister found the work connected with the administration of the navigation law too much for him, a proclamation could be issued under which his responsibility could be shifted to another Minister. I think that a similar provision ought to obtain here. We all know the immense amount of work which the Minister of Trade and. Customs has to perform, and I cam well understand that he may not have the time at his disposal to discharge the many duties which this clause will impose upon him.
.- “ In Queensland, it is customary to insert in measures of this description a provision something like the following -
This Act shall be administered by the Minister for Trade and Customs, or such other Minister as may be intrusted with its administration.
This gives it a certain amount of elasticity, which I think is desirable. The Public Service Department was formerly under the control of the Minister of Home Affairs, but, as that Minister always manages everything himself, instead of through secretaries, the work became too heavy for him, and the Department in question was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department..
– The administration of the Trade Marks Act has been transferred from the Department of Trade and Customs to that of the Attorney- General.
– In drafting Bills of this character, it is desirable to allow a certain amount of elasticity.
– This happens to be one of the few clauses in the Bill which is identical with that contained in the measure of 1904. While there may be other Acts which may, with advantage, be administered by other Departments, I think that the question of navigation naturally falls under the Department of Trade and Customs. Quarantine, perhaps, might more easily be transferred to another Minister.
– If a similar provision were inserted to that which obtains in South Australia.,- the Minister could delegate- his authority.
– Yes, but the Department of Trade and: Customs is that under which the administration of this Bill most naturally falls. I will, however, look into what the honorable member has said.
– I quite agree with the Minister of Trade and Customs that the Department over which he presides is more naturally identified with shipping than is any other Department. According to the Acts Interpretation Act, wherever “ the Minister “ is referred to it means the Minister administering any enactment in respect of which the expression is used. But inasmuch as in’ this clause the Minister of Trade and Customs is specially mentioned, the administration of this measure will be confined to his Department. At the same time, there would be no harm in having an enabling Act such as has been suggested.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
The provisions of this part of this Act relating to ships, and to their owners, masters, and crews, shall, unless the subject-matter requires a different application, apply only to British ships, and to their owners, masters, and crews.
– I understand that notice has been given of the insertion of a new clause, to be known as 8 (a). When the second reading of the Bill was under consideration, a good deal was said upon the question of reciprocity - of allowing, where the conditions were equal, those prescribed by the Imperial Act to hold good, instead of bringing a British vessel under die operation of our law. I understand that the Minister has taken advantage of that criticism, and that he intends to insert the necessary amendment.
– Strange to say, the amendment was drafted prior to that criticism.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 -
A General Register of seamen shall be kept at the places and in the manner prescribed.
.- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether this clause means that no register is to be kept of the coloured seamen who are employed on vessels trading round our coast?
– This is one of the purely technical clauses of the Bill, and the Attorney-General and the honorable member for Darling Downs doubtless know a good deal more than I do of this register of seamen, seeing that both were members of the Navigation Commission. Under this clause, any seaman who desires to obtain particulars of his service from the register will be afforded an opportunity of doing so. The provision merely provides for a general register of seamen. No distinction is made between the classes of seamen who are employed on vessels.
– I think there is.
– I will have the matter looked up, with a view to ascertaining the position.
.- The interpretation clause of the Bill lays it down that “ seamen “ shall include practically every person serving on board a ship with the exception of the master and pilot. I wish to know whether all these persons will be obliged to register under this clause? Will a wireless-telegraph operator, for instance, have to register?
– The register, I understand, is kept in the seamen’s interests, so that if a seaman loses his discharge he can obtain a copy of his whole service from the time that he first went to sea. The register is intended to enable him to do that. A similar register is at present kept in the States.
– We have to remember that clause 8 sets forth to what part of the Act this clause applies. It declares that unless the subject-matter requires a different application it shall apply only to British ships, and to their owners, masters, and crews.
– A register is kept in all ports-
– But in this part of theAct we are dealing only with British ships, roasters, and crews, except where the subjectmatter otherwise indicates.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Mercantile Marine Offices).
– I desire to draw the attention of the Minister to a matter of considerable importance to the shipping community. This clause provides for the establishment of mercantile marine offices, and also for the appointment of a superintendent and deputy superintendents. The Bill in various parts describes the duties of these officers, which have to be done at the mercantile marine office itself. In the Bill of 1903, which I introduced, it was provided that the Minister should have power to permit any matter required by the Act to be transacted in the mercantile marine office or before a superintendent to be transacted elsewhere, save in taverns or inns, “ and before such other person as he appoints for the purpose.” That was only in accordance with the existing practice. Let us refer, by way of illustration, to the position of a steamer trading to Western Australia, such as the Karoola or the Kyarra. Each of those steamerscarries a crew of about 100, and at rhe end of six months’ service they have tosign on or off as the case may be. If it were necessary, as it would be under the clause as it stands, for that crew to go to the mercantile marine office, in order to sign on or off, there would be a serious block of business at the office, as well as much delay, and a loss of time on the part of the seamen and the ship. The present practice is for the Minister to send an officer to the ship concerned, and the signing on and off takes place before him on board ship. This is a great convenience. The clause to which I have referred, and which embodied the present practice, has been omitted from the Bill. I do not desire to spring an amendment on the Minister, but I ask him to make this provision. It is neither unfair nor unreasonable.
– The clause as, it stands is in accord with the present practice.
– The honorable member is in error. The present practice is that to which I have just referred. I suggest that he consent to an amendment.
– It would not apply to this clause.
– The provision in’ question appeared in clause n of- the Bill of 1908.
– But we are now dealing with clause 10, and the amendment would have to take the form of a new clause.
– I think that the draftsman considered that clause 44 covered the point.
– Where did the honor- 1 Lie member get the provision allowing for signing on and off to take place on shipboard?
– It embodied ti .to existing practice, and was inserted by Dr. 1,1/01 aston. If the Minister will undertake to make provision for the continuance of the present practice in the way I have suggested I shall be satisfied.
– No one knows better than does the honorable- member that in a matter of this kind the responsible Minister must rely upon the advice that he obtains from his officers as to the working of the present Acts. I am informed by an officer of one of the marine departments that the clause as it stands will allow the existing practice to be continued.
– No. Why was clause 11 in the Act of 1908 left out?
– I do not know why it was omitted by another place. We are rearranging provisions, and making various amendments which, I think, will have the effect of giving us a more complete measure than we should have if the Bill were passed as originally introduced. I shall look into the suggestion by the honorable member, and can assure him that I appreciate the difficulty which attendance at the mercantile marine office would involve in the case of a vessel carrying a large crew. I realize that it would be better to make the practice as easy as possible, but I would point out that the clause with which we are now dealing does not affect the matter.
– I think that the clause is satisfactory as it stands. If there has grown up a practice under which an officer of the mercantile marine office goes on board ship for the purpose of signing on a crew, 1 can only say that it is a practice that ought to be discontinued. It does not obtain so far as I am aware in any port in the United Kingdom. There, the master of a vessel has to go to the shipping office to sign on men.
– But would the honorable member apply that to men in the coastal trade whose agreement had expired, and who desired to sign on for a further period ?
– Certainly. The mercantile marine office is the place at which the work should be done. The British authorities were careful to see that everything of this kind should be done at the shipping office rather than on board ship, for the reason that the articles have to be read over so that the man who proposes to sign them shall understand them, and may be perfectly independent. There is a possibility of some of the men on ship-board having taken a drop of liquor, and they cannot have there that independence which they would have at a shipping office. That which the honorable member for Kooyong has referred to as being the practice in Australia, is certainly not the practice in Great Britain. All the reform that poor Jack has ever got has come from the Board of Trade insisting that articles and everything of that character shall be signed at the shipping office. I take the clause to mean what it says. A shipping office would not be established, for instance, at Heidelberg or Ballarat. There would be one at
Port Melbourne, another at Port Adelaide, another at Fremantle, and others at other places where there is a demand for sailors. In some of the smaller ports of Australia there may be a necessity to ship and discharge men. If so, the power is delegated to those smaller ports for that purpose. In a matter of this kind, we are practically re-enacting the navigation laws of the States.
.- The matter is not quite as simple as the honorable member for Hindmarsh makes out, because, in a port like Sydney, ships may be, geographically, a considerable distance from each other. The suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong is worth looking into, as all ports are not the same. In Melbourne, it would be very simple.
– How do they manage it in London? I suppose it is as big as Sydney ?
– The configuration of Sydney as a port is exceptional, and it might take half-a-day to get from one place to another.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Certificated officers/.
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - (2) Every British ship (other than those registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade), when going to sea from any place in Australia, shall be provided with a duly certificated master and such duly certificated’ officers as are, by the law of that part of the British Dominions in which the ship is registered, prescribed as being necessary for her when going to sea from any place in that part of the British Dominions.
– Making a sort of reciprocal arrangement?
– Making it reciprocal so far as the other sections of the British Dominions are concerned.
.- I fail to see the necessity or justification fox the new sub-clause. It is doubtful whether we shall be able to enforce it, even if it is put in. The clause, as it stands, provides for a ship going to sea that has been registered in Australia or is engaged in the coastal trade. Those are two cases where, undoubtedly, the Federal jurisdiction would attach, and we could prescribe a scale of officers, and provide for penalties in case of a breach. But the new subclause deals with British ships other than those registered in Australia or engaged in the coastal trade, and says that they shall comply with the law of their own country. Of course, the country of their origin will punish them if they go to sea in any part of the world without complying with the law pf the country of their origin. It seems to me, without further information, very doubtful whether a Commonwealth Court could enforce a penalty, prescribed, by the law of, say, South Africa or Canada, not relating to the coastal trade of Australia, and not relating to a ship registered in Australia. The new sub-clause should either be explained or reconsidered.
– Section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act requires British foreign-going ships putting to sea from any place in the United Kingdom to carry a certificated master and certain certificated mates. There is no provision regarding those ships if they are putting to sea from any place outside the United- Kingdom. The master of a British ship may come here and have his certificate cancelled in this port, or the certificate of any of his mates might be cancelled, and yet they could go to sea unless we put this clause in.
– They would be liable under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– They are not registered in Australia, and they could take the ship out in spite of us.
– What jurisdiction have you if you put in this clause?
– The ship will’ be sailing out of an Australian port. We are doing precisely the same as the British authorities would do if they cancelled the certificate of any of our officers-. Unless we made this provision, officers who had lost their certificates, or had them suspended, could defy our law, and sail a British-registered ship out independently of us.
– How are you going to catch them if they go to sea ?
– There was the case of the Papanui, which went to sea in spite of the Victorian Marine Board, and surely it is better to have our eyes open to the danger, and guard against it. I think the Board of Trade will commend our action in putting in the clause to prevent British shipping leaving an Australian port with uncertificated officers.
.- I sup°pose the Minister relies upon the external trade provisions for purposes of jurisdiction. Many vessels going to sea would not be under the coastal trade provisions, but section 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act gives us power to apply the provisions of part 2 of that Act to any British ships “ registered at, trading with, or being at any port” in this particular British Possession. Besides, there is our power in the Constitution to deal with external commerce. But when the vessel had gone to sea, there would be nothing to prevent the removal of the certificated officer, so that the use of the clause would be confined practically to our territorial waters. I do not see how you are going to follow a man, even if he is engaged in external commerce, once lie has left our port, unless he comes under section 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act. In that case, by virtue of an Imperial Act, we have power to pass legislation having, extra-territorial operation.
.- Is the Minister intending to use section 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act to apply section 92 of the same Act? The English Act says -
Every British foreign-going, ship and every British home trade passenger ship, when going to sea from any place in the United Kingdom shall be provided with officers duly certificated according to the following scale -
Then the scale is set out. Furthermore, section 264 provides that, if the Legislature of any British Poss’ession, by any law, apply to any British ship any of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, such law shall have effect throughout the British Dominions.. The Minister says that it is part of the law of the United Kingdom, that a vessel leaving that country shall have a proper complement of certificated officers, or be liable to a penalty. He also says that in Australia we must require that a vessel’ does not leave in such a condition that, if she left England, she would be liable to a penalty. If New Zealand, for instance, lays down a scale of certificated officers, it is not. desired that a vessel shall leave our shores without the same safeguards that New Zealand would require. Therefore, so far as it is possible by our legislation1, it is proposed to provide that all British ships not registered in Australia, when they leave Australia, shall comply with the law of their own. country. I must confess that, on the face of it, that seems to be fair. Because, after all, we require certificated officers to be carried for the safety of the passengers and the goods put on board the ships. When vessels leave Australian waters, they carry Australian goods and Australian citizens. We want to safeguard the lives of our people and the safety of our commerce.. We do not want to send goods and passengers to sea on vessels that have not a proper complement of officers. The Minister’s provision is intended to safeguard shipping in that respect. It is not a hardship to any vessel to say, “ We want you, when you come to our waters, to comply with the standards laid down in your own country.” I cannot say that I have looked into the legal aspect of the case carefully; but, in equity, it seems fair and reasonable to insert this provision, and I see no objection to it.
– This is the first of a series of clauses which have a very important bearing. The clause raises, for the first time, the question of manning. The manning scale is set forth in a schedule. I have not had an opportunity of considering the manning scale in its present form, and I want to know whether any alteration has been made from the scale originally prescribed ? Personally, I do not hesitate to say that I am in favour of a manning scale, because I agree with the Royal Commission which made an important recommendation on this subject. A ship cannot be said to be seaworthy unless she is manned by a competent crew. The new feature of the Bill in this relation is that, for the first time, we prescribe what the minimum scale shall1 be. It is quite true that the scale is open to variation at the instance of the Minister, on the recommendation of experts who constitute an Advisory Board. But I should like to have an assurance from the Minister as to any alterations, if any, and the nature of them. I had to go carefully info the matter some time ago, and came to the conclusion that the scale originally provided was a reasonable one.
– I do not think that it would be fair to ask honorable members, to pass this clause until they have dealt with the schedule in relation to’ manning. I therefore move -
That the clause be postponed.
Motion agreed to ; clause postponed.
Clause 12 -
Provided that the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in such ships and for such voyages and in such capacities as will enable him to qualify for a certificate of the next higher class.
– I draw attention to sub-clause 3, which provides that the holder of a second mate’s foreign-going certificate may ship as first mate of a limited coast-trade ship, or as mate of a river and bay ship. I think it is worthy of consideration as to whether a second mate, who has just passed his examination and who has had no experience, should be permitted to be placed in charge of a ship. I understand that it takes a young man some four years to become a second mate. A man may have previously been quite unaccustomed to responsibility ; but, if he happens to get a second mate’s certificate, he may be placed in charge, as first mate, of a ship carrying passengers. I ask the Minister whether it would not be wise to see that a man likely to be placed in such a position has had some previous practical experience.
– I do not see any cause for uneasiness in connexion with this clause. The British Board of Trade recognises the certificates of first mate, second mate, chief engineer, and second engineer. These certificates are recognised all over the world; and, surely, the holder of any of these certificates is competent to take charge of a vessel on the Australian coast.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has apparently overlooked the fact that this clause has no reference whatever to the Board of Trade certificate. The ship may be registered in some foreign country; and, in any case, the demands on the officer in charge of a ship on the coast, where the weather may be rough, is much greater than in the case of an ocean-going voyage. The foreign second mate’s certificate may be that of Chili, Argentine, or Bolivia, and yet it is to be reckoned as equivalent to the certificate of a first mate on the Aus- 0 tralian coast.
– It is intended that this certificate shall be a British certificate.
– If so, the fact should be stated.
– I can appreciate what the honorable member for Kooyong has said, but the difficulty is that the practice of many of the States is in accord, with the provisions of the Bill. I think that many of these officers are holders of second mates’ foreign-going certificates ; and from information I have, I think that many of them are anxious to get into the coastal trade. On the whole, I think the Minister would be wise to retain this clause.
– So far as I can see, there is no room for any ambiguity with regard to this clause. The endeavour is first to insure that ships shall be efficiently officered, and, secondly, to see that there is an opportunity for every person to rise from the lowest grade, either in the engineroom or on the deck, to the highest. The highest possible point, on the navigation side, is that of extra -master, and, on the engineering side, that of chief engineer ; and the Royal Commission, in making its recommendations, desired to insure that every competent man should be able to rise according to his merits.
– - The question raised was, does “ foreign going certificate” cover a certificate issued by a foreign nation.,
– The point I raised was the desirability of seeing that a man obtaining a second mate’s certificate should possess experience, justifying his being trusted with the responsibility of the post.
– The certificate here referred to is a certificate issued by the Commonwealth or recognised by it.
– Some of the certificates referred to in the clause are certificates recognised by the Board of Trade, others are Commonwealth certificates.
– The Board of Trade would not recognise some of those certificates.
– If they are sufficient for our purpose, that is enough. Regarding high .grade certificates, we ought to make sure that those issued by the Commonwealth will be recognised by foreign nations.
– That is provided for.
– Under clause 16 we recognise masters’ or officers’ certificates recognised by the Board of Trade of the United Kingdom, but I do not think that any others are recognised.
– We recognise Board of Trade certificates, and certificates that the Board of Trade recognises.
– There are our own certificates, the certificates of the Board of Trade, and the certificates that the Board of Trade recognises.
– I take -it that the only foreign-going certificates that we can recognise are those issued by the Board of Trade, or recognised by the Board of Trade. What the Board of Trade recognises we should recognise. The Attorney-General has referred to the possibility that will exist of persons who have not had the training usually associated with the obtaining of certificates gaining them, and especially to the opportunities for promotion in the engineering branch of the seamen’s profession. We do not wish to prevent any man from rising in his employment, but, of course, we must safeguard the interests of the community by providing the application of tests which will prevent persons from obtaining certificates of their competency to fill the higher posts in the service until they have proved their efficiency and capacity. We must see that the regulations framed to deal with this matter are such that no individual can qualify for a certificate until he has proved, not merely that he possesses the theoretical knowledge, but also that he has practical knowledge which would justify the granting to him of a certificate enabling responsibility for life and property to be placed in his hands.
. -A foreign-going certificate is a certificate issued by the Board of Trade, or one recognised by that body, and such certificates will be recognised and regarded as of equal value with similar certificates granted by the Commonwealth. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that, while nothing unnecessary should be done to prevent a man from rising in his profession, care should be taken to ascertain his capacity and efficiency for the posts he wishes to hold, and that while examinations for certificates should not be too hard, they should not be so easy that incompetent men may pass them. A deputation has waited on me asking that the holders of certain State certificates should be given Commonwealth certificates of equal value, and I think it right that we should not take away the livelihood of men possessing these certificates.
– Clause 21 deals with that.
– Yes, but it is desirable to make it clear now that these men will be fairly treated. Regulations will be framed which will prevent them from obtaining higher certificates than they now possess until they have shown by passing proper examinations that they possess the requisite knowledge and experience.
.- Will the Minister explain why under this clause a limited coast-trade ship apparently requires less efficient working than an Australiantrade ship?
– The Australian-trade ship will very likely be a bigger ship.
– But will not have to call at such dangerous ports.
– On, yes, she will.
– Oh, no. A limited coasttrade ship is given a radius of 400 miles, and will have to call at dangerous ports, enter bar harbors, berth at jetties, and so on. Under clause 5 an Australian-trade ship - includes every ship (other than a limited coasttrade ship or river and bay ship) employed in trading or going between places in Australia, and every ship employed in trading between [a) Australia and (i) territories under the authority of the Commonwealth, New Zealand, or the islands of the Pacific.
Then a limited coast-trade ship is defined to mean - a sea-going ship exclusively engaged in making short voyages from and to any port in Australia within limits (not exceeding a radius of four hundred .miles) determined for the port by the Governor-General.
A limited coast-trade ship trading along the coast, north and south from Sydney, within a radius of 400 miles, may under the clause have as first mate a man who has only a second mate’s certificate. An Australian-trade ship touching only at welllighted ports, and entering such harbors as Sydney, Fremantle, and Auckland, requires apparently, under this clause, more efficient working. I ask the Minister to bear in mind that, after all, the responsibility of those controlling a ship increases with proximity to land, and with the use of small and comparatively unimproved harbors such as those at which limited coast-trade ships will have to call.
– The people interested in those ships desire that they should be exempt from the Bill altogether.
– That may be so, but I am dealing with the matter from the point of view of the public.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether he has received a communication from the Northern Rivers Association dealing with the manning scale, and contending that there are certain hardships connected with the scale proposed by the Bill.
– Yes, I have received a communication from them.
– I wish the Minister to say whether he will secure the necessary information, and be prepared to discuss the justice of the contention of the Northern Rivers Association when we come to deal with the schedules fixing the manning scale. I should like to know whether it is intended that, river and bay ships requiring a master and mate will include under this Bill the ferry steamers in Sydney harbor.
– They will carry a master and mate for the safety of navigation.
– I wish to know whether it. is intended to apply the provisions of the manning scale to the Sydney ferry boats, such as those plying between Circular Quay and Manly?
– They must comply with the provisions of the Bill, so far as is required by the rule of the road and the safety of navigation.
– There is a manning scale for river and bay ships.
.”- There will be’ no difficulty in the Sydney ferry steamers complying with the provision requiring river and bay ships to carry a master and mate. The honorable member for Parramatta made a reference to the matter on the second reading of the Bill. There is no definition of what a mate of a river and bay ship shall be. The Bill does not say whether he is to a first, second, or third mate, and the practice at present followed on the ferry steamers can be continued. At present these steamers have an engineer, a master in charge on deck, and an assistant who takes charge when the master is otherwise occupied. Some of these vessels now run to over 50 horse-power.
– Some are vessels up to 100 horse-power.
– The practice is to have an assistant on these vessels who is practically a mate, though his duties are not defined, and he has no status as a mate. If the Bill is passed as it stands, all that the shipping companies owning these ferry Steamers will do will be to continue these men in the duties which they have hitherto been performing, but they will call them “mates,” and may pay them at a little higher rate. The provisions of the Bill will not make necessary the appointment of an additional officer.
– I wish it tobe made perfectly clear in regard to river and bay ships, that while they may be exempted from some provisions of the Bill, they will not be exempt from all. The operation of the proposed new clause must not be taken to exempt them entirely. Owing to some confusion in the adjustment of the proposed clauses two conflicting proposals have been printed together. It is proposed to rely, so far as the general scope of the limitation of the Act imposed by the Constitution is concerned, on paragraph 2 of the new clause printedas 1 a. We do not propose to take river and bay ships out of the Bill altogether. If we did the discussion about river and bay ships would be quite unnecessary. What the honorable member for Dalley said will apply. That control over river and bay ships, which is proper and necessary, can and will be taken, but beyond that there is no necessity to go.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
The Minister may, at any time before the delivery of a certificate -
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to what appears to me to be superfluous words. According to clause . 14 -
No person shall be admitted to examination for a certificate unless he is a British subject, and speaks the English language intelligibly, and possesses the prescribed qualifications.
That is to say, by regulations the necessary qualifications are to be prescribed. This clause begins with the provision that, subject to the conditions in sub-clause 2 thereof, a certificate in the form prescribed shall be delivered to every applicant who passes the prescribed examination satisfactorily ; that is, the prescribed examination referred to in clause 14. Then the clause continues with these superfluous words - and gives satisfactory evidence that he possesses the qualifications prescribed for the holder of the certificate, and of his sobriety, experience, ability, physical fitness and general good conduct.
All these things will appear in the prescribed qualifications referred to in clause 14, and, consequently, it will hamper the regulations to retain the words I have just quoted. In the first place, the Minister will have the fullest power to prescribe what the qualifications shall be, and under sub-clauseI of this clause the Minister may order a re-examination or make further inquiry before he issues a certificate.
– That is merely to meet a case of “ ringing in.”
– Exactly ; but the matters which are referred to in the second part of sub-clauseI are all subjects for regulations which the Minister is empowered by clause 14 to make, and consequently are superfluous.
– Will their retention be harmful ?
– They may be, because they may interfere with the Minister’s full power of making regulations in clause 14. Probably on reconsideration the Minister will find it advisable to delete the words.
– I have cut out as much as I thought was superfluous.
– I think that the Minister will find that these wordsare superfluous. Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 agreed to.
Clause 17 -
.- Does the word “unfitness” in sub-clause 1 mean physical unfitness? Might there not be professional unfitness? Would it notbe well to make an amendment so that the professional ability of a person who holds a certificate may be considered at any time?
– Is not that provided for in clause 15?
– Even that deals with the question of physical fitness. The words “medical examination” in clause 17 practically refer to physical fitness. I think that it should embrace something more than physical fitness.
– This provision refers principally to the failure of sight. In most of our ports to-day the pilots have to be tested periodically in regard to their eyesight, because cases have occurred where vessels have been wrecked simply on account of the unconscious failure of the sight of the persons who were in charge. In the Railway Department, too, the eyesight of engine-drivers is tested from time to time, because a man who is a first-class engine-driver to-day may not be able to pass the eyesight test at his next examination. If at any time it should be considered necessary, the holder of a certificate under the Bill will have to submit himself to an examination. The object of the provision is to make sure that the eyesight of officers is- all right. I do not know of any calling in which it is more important that this test should be applied.
– I have a note here that the words “ may require the delivery of the certificate to him,” at the end of sub-clauseI, originally appeared in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1862, and were repealed by the Amending Act of 1879. I cannot recall now why the words were repealed. I think that the idea was that a mere suspicion was not to be sufficient, but that there should be some conviction before the Minister could demand that the certificate should be handed over. The Minister has said very rightly that the main object of sub-clauseI is the testing of the eyesight. That is not a criminal offence. I think that the words “charge of incompetency,” in subclause 3, are hardly correct words to use.
– Substitute “ allegation “ for “ charge.”
– I move-
That the word” charge” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ question.”
.- I have no desire to occupy the time of the Committee, but I confess that the position . which is disclosed by clauses11 and 12 is not at all satisfactory to me. Clause 12 provides -
Certificates of competency (in this Division referred to as certificates) shall be granted in accordance with this Act for each of the following grades of officers -
Then clause 14 sets out -
No person shall be admitted to examination for a certificate unless he is a British subject, and speaks the English language intelligibly, and possess the prescribed qualifications.
Now, what are those qualifications? They are not set out in clause 14, and surely relate to the special qualifications which are specified in clause 12. This is not a question of physical fitness, but of professional fitness.
– Looking through this clause, it is clear that the Minister is informed in some way that a person is unfit to perform his duties. Thereupon, he asks him to return his certificate. Afterwards he causes an inquiry to be held into the matter before a Court of Marine Inquiry. I quite sympathize with the position which has been taken up by the honorable member for Kooyong, who objected to the use of the word “charge.” But, after all, anything which is submitted to a Court of inquiry must be in the nature of a charge. It does not matter very much, however, what it is called. As to the nature of the physical unfitness, that, I take it, is a matter which we are not competent to discuss. There may be a dozen things which may render a man quite unfit to discharge his duties. But the Minister ought not to be asked to say what those causes are.
– I trust the honorable member for Kooyong will withdraw his amendment. “ Incompetent “ means unable from any cause whatever to perform the official duty of the person in relation to whom the word is used. The word “ charge “ is used elsewhere in the Bill, and if we substitute another word for it in this clause, we shall be compelled to make numerous other amendments.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 18 to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
No person shall -
engage as an officer unless he is duly certificated ; or
take into employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated. Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– How will this clause affect ferry steamers and the men engaged upon them? Is there any provision in the Bill under which they may obtain certificates to fit them for specific duties?
– Any man who holds a certificate under a State Act will continue to hold it under this Bill, provided he is physically fit.
– But how about those who have not State certificates ? They do not go to sea, and yet the Bill provides that they must hold foreign-going certificates.
– I do not think they will be required to go to sea. If a man has not a master’s certificate, he will be able to take charge of river and bay boats with a mate’s certificate.
– I am concerned about the men who have spent the whole of their lives upon these ferry boats.
– There is nothing to prevent them gaining a master’s certificate.
– Yes. The Bill says they must have a mate’s certificate, which cannot be obtained unless they have had foreign-going experience. Many of them joined these ferry steamers as boys. The Government are making this unnecessarily harsh.
– There is no necessity for a man who wants, say, a Manly steam-boat certificate - a river and bay certificate - to go to sea.
– But he is to have with him a mate who is to have a foreign-going certificate.
– It will be a “mate” as defined by this Bill.
– As long as that is clear, I am satisfied.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 and 24 agreed to.
House adjourned at 10.19 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121001_reps_4_66/>.