4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and lead prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether this paragraph, which appears in this morning’s Argus, correctly interprets his desires -
It is hoped by the Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) that the medical profession will assist in every way to increase the usefulness of the maternity bonus. The Commissioner (Mr. G. T. Allen) said yesterday that, by direction of the Minister, he had written to the secretary of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association, suggesting that the branch draft a circular containing medical directions to women as to the precautions they should take before and after child-birth.
Will the right honorable gentleman explain why he thinks that mothers will be benefited by receiving, some months after the birth of their children, instructions as to what should be done before child-birth?
– The benefit theywill receive from the honorable member’s question is that it will show them that he is not fit to be here.
– I rise to order, and with the permission of the House I shall move the adjournment to show the need for comprehensive action dealing with the whole question of maternity assistance in its widest aspect.
– The honorable member rose to a point of order.
– Because I was grossly insulted when asking a reasonable question.
– The honorable member anticipated my intervention. I point out to the Prime Minister that in answering a question, no reflection should be cast on the member who asked it, and I request him to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw, with pleasure, at your direction, Mr. Speaker.
– I think that the Prime Minister should apologise to me. As I have received no reply to my question, I shall put it again in different terms. The statement is published in this morning’s
Argus that the British Medical Association is being asked to circularize mothers regarding the precautions they should take before child-birth. It is very necessary that they should have such information, but that is not the point. What I wish to know is whether the Prime Minister will explain to the House what value it is to a mother to get this advice at least two months after it would be of use to her.
– It would be of use on the next occasion.
– I ask the Prime Minister, if , he can keep himself in check, to make the explanation.
– The question put by the honorable member calls for no reply.
– A Minister who does not desire to answer a question cannot be compelled to do so.
– Then I ask the Prime Minister whether he will provide machinery which will enable mothers to be informed, before the birth of children, what they ought to do, according to the opinion of the British Medical Association.
– That has already been done.
– It would not appear so from the newspaper reports.
– In view of the statement of Opposition members yesterday, that only one case of fraud in connexion with the postal voting at the last Commonwealth elections was proved, I ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he can inform the House what was the number of prosecutions for wilfully corrupt practices in connexion with postal voting at the last election? I understand that a list of cases was laid on the table.
– I shall give the honorable member the information next Tuesday.
– The Prime Minister has several times expressed an opinion about the probability of New Zealand federating with Australia, and the English magazines - especially the United Empire - are beginning to discuss the matter. In an article in the United Empire, this statement is made -
Mr. Andrew Fisher, the Australian Federal Premier, has discussed in one or two of his recent speeches the possibility that New Zealand might eventually federate with the Commonwealth. The idea has always been favoured in Australia, but it has never been greatly supported in New Zealand, and it does not appear to be much more popular now than it was twenty years ago….. No doubt Mr. Fisher is thinking mainly of Australasian defence when he advocates a joining of forces. But New Zealand has so far displayed no readiness to, share in the Australian Navy; indeed, she has specifically stated that she prefers to contribute directly to the Imperial Fleet.
I ask the right honorable gentleman if he has any real ground, beyond his own desire that something of the kind may happen, for regarding federation with New Zealand as probable. If he has such ground, will he make it known to the House ?
– I think there is good reason for believing that there is a growing sentiment in New Zealand in favour of reciprocal trade relations, and a closer connexion for purposes of defence. There is evidence of that in the statements which have been published, both here and in the Dominion. I feel sure, from correspondence that I have received, directly and indirectly, that the feeling is growing, and I hope that it will continue to grow.
– May we see the correspondence ?
– It is not official.
– In view of the fact that the London Stock Exchanges and those of Europe are very much disturbed by the war among the south-eastern countries of Europe, I wish to know from the Minister whether Australian securities have thereby been prejudiced or in any way affected ?
– All that I have observed in regard to Australian securities is that money is becoming dearer, and that stocks bearing a low rate of interest are therefore depreciating. That is the ordinary happening when there is a rise in the price of money. I see nothing to be alarmed about beyond the fact of the disturbance in the Balkans.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs seen statements in the press to the effect that some persons whose nationalities are affected by the Balkans disturbance are about to leave the Commonwealth for the purpose of returning to their countries and taking part in the war? Will these persons come under the Alien Restriction Act if they leave the Commonwealth? Are permits being granted to them to enable them to leave Australia and to come back? Or. will they, when they leave, be in the position of persons coming under the Alien Restriction Act, and be prevented from coming back.
– I should be glad if the honorable member would give notice of the question, in which he has made several inquiries. All that I have seen in the newspapers is that a certain number of Greeks are talking of going back to Greece. No permits have been granted.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs inform the House when he proposes to christen the Federal Capital, and will he give honorable members an opportunity of saying what its name shall be?
– The whole question is now under advisement, and the honorable member will shortly hear the result.
– I shall move the adjournment of the House to-morrow about this matter.
– That will be a “ capital “ move on your part.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence - upon notice -
– The answers are- 1, 2, 3, and 4. The information desired is contained in the following statement : -
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has been brought forward in response to action taken by a Royal Commission which, in 1910, inquired into certain losses through Customs leakage in Tasmania, and also “any losses the said State has suffered since the advent of Federation.” It will be remembered that the latter words were not included in the first letters patent that were issued. The Commission examined a number of witnesses, came to certain conclusions, and’ made a report which was laid upon the table of this House on the 3rd October, 191 1. The amount of losses through Customs leakage was practically nominal ; that was admitted by the Royal Commission itself.
– Practically none.
– It was a negligible quantity compared with the amount of money which the Commission recommended should be given as a grant to Tasmania. I think that all parties concerned practically agreed upon that. The question then arose whether a grant should be made, not upon estimated losses through Customs leakage as alleged, but on the ground set forth in. section 96 of the Constitution, which reads : -
During a period of ten years after the estab’lishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
The Royal Commission recommended the grant of ,£900,000 by the Commonwealth to Tasmania under that section. I, on behalf of the Government, thought that an appeal of that kind to this House, although it was recommended by a Royal Commission, ought to be made by the representative of the State concerned. Sir Elliot Lewis, Premier of Tasmania at the time, concurred in that suggestion without in any way reflecting upon the work of the Royal Commission or its recommendation. He made an appeal under section 96 of the Constitution, and in its terms as from one Government to another. Subsequently the Chairman of the Royal Commission interrogated the Government as to what they proposed to do. We stated that we proposed to give favorable consideration to the report, and after the fullest consideration we determined to ask Parliament to provide for the payment ot ^500,000 to Tasmania out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund on the terms which are set out in the schedule to this Bill. So far as Customs leakage is concerned the leakage, if it took place to any extent, did not materially benefit the whole of the States on the mainland, but that is a matter which need not be discussed now. Evidently it referred particularly to the two nearest and biggest States. Had this matter been dealt with by the Governments prior to the rearrangement of the finances of the Commonwealth it would have been dealt with in a different way. Presumably the States that benefited by the leakage would have been debited in proportion to the benefit which they received. Under the present financial arrangement that would be impossible.
– It would have been a very difficult thing to ascertain.
– Yes ; and I only mention it to show the difficulty there is in dealing with a question of this kind. This Parliament might very well brush that on one side, and take up the matter .of any payment to be made to Tasmania as a per capita Commonwealth obligation. I go further and recommend honorable members to consider this question without conditions. A number of honorable members I know think that it is a matter to which this Parliament may very well attach conditions. Some of them consider that we ought to prescribe in the Bill the conditions under which Tasmania can deal with the grant. There is no doubt as to the power of Parliament to impose conditions, but, so far from recommending a course of the kind, I strongly deprecate it. At the same time, however, I should not like to commit myself or any of my colleagues to a .declaration that at no ‘time should the Commonwealth impose conditions in regard -to a grant. Circumstances may arise under which it would be the duty of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament to make a grant of the kind conditional, but in the present case I do not think there is any warrant to do so. There is nothing, so far as natural resources and wealth are concerned, that places Tasmania at a disadvantage compared with the mainland. Her harbors are amongst the best of the world, and her rivers are equal to any. At present unhappily a dark shadow is cast over the island by an appalling disaster; but we may say that the mining industry of Tasmania, in proportion to the size of the State, is as great, if not greater, than that of any other part of Australia. In Tasmania can be found excellent land of every kind - agricultural, horticultural, and pastoral - and so I say that, so far as natural resources are concerned, there is nothing whatever to create any alarm in the minds of the people of Australia or of Tasmania itself as to the future of the State. Further, Tasmania, as some honorable members might say, has been blessed by what is called a Liberal Government from the very first; and, under all the circumstances, no one could, expect the State to be embarrassed. Doubtless the Bill will be attacked on two grounds, first, that the amount proposed is too large, and, secondly, that it is too small. The amount proposed is not that recommended by the Royal Commission, but I think it -is quite sufficient to cover the loss, through leakage, which, at the highest estimate, is , £70,000, and to form a handsome grant. This money distributed over a number of years will, in my judgment, prove most beneficial, and enable the State to surmount any difficulties that may have been caused through its entering Federation. I wish all success and prosperity to the State of Tasmania, which, I may point out, has the largest representation in this House, in proportion to population, of any State of the Union. It is conveniently situated to the mainland, and I am. sure that honorable members on all sides will agree with me in expressing the hope that this grant will assist to bring Tasmania, not into a state of solvency - for its solvency is not questioned - but into, say, a position of affluence.
– Tasmania will have to revise her political arrangements.
– It is no part of the duty of this Parliament to instruct a State how to conduct its own business; that must be left to those who elect the State Parliaments. Were I a representative of that State, I might have certain views of my own regarding its relations with the Commonwealth Government, but, at present, it is my duty to recommend the House to accept this measure. It is proposed, this year, to give Tasmania £.95,000. This will be decreased to£85,000 in the following year, and by £10,000 in each succeeding year, until there is a final payment on a sliding scale of£5, 000. To those honorable members opposite who may hold the opinion that the amount ought to be larger, I can only reply that they missed their opportunity when they were in office, and when a clamour was made by the State for assistance. The Labour Government, at any rate, appointed the Royal Commission.
– Why did the Labour Government not give a grant when they were in office before ?
– For the simple reason that, before we could even get our policy submitted to the House, the honorable member joined with others to thrust us from office. The purpose of that hurried action was to prevent the present Minister of Defence being sent to the Imperial Conference.
– The GovernorGeneral’s Speech had been read to the House.
– But the policy of the Government had not been discussed. No representatives can interfere with the GovernorGeneral reading his speech.
– But who prepares it?
– Ask “the marines.” This grant is a fair beginning, and I believe that it will be recognised as such by the Tasmanian people. Of course, the representatives of the State asked for the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission; but, while I have no wish to reflect on that body, we know what Royal Commissions are.
– The Prime Minister will recognise that it was a unanimous recommendation by the Royal Commission.
– Quite so; and in time to come the amount may be supplemented if it be thought necessary. At present, the sum proposed is, in my opinion, all that is warranted by the circumstances, and I think it ought to be cheerfully recognised; as a handsome offer.
.- The Prime Minister is to be congratulated on the fact that this urgent matter has been dealt with. It is a question which should be lifted above all party considerations, and this should be regarded, not as a grant in. the ordinary sense of the word, but as a meed of justice to Tasmania. If honorable members refer to the official reports of the Convention debates, they will find that section 96 was inserted in the Constitution at the instance of a Tasmanian delegate, Mr. Henry, who contemplated circumstances arising in which a State might suffer financially through the operation of Federal laws. I disagree with the contention of the Prime Minister that the sum he proposes is sufficient. As a member of the Commission who investigated the matter, I claim that their recommendation that a vote of , £900,000 should be made to Tasmania is based upon the evidence tendered to that Commission. It is difficult to understand what justification the Treasurer can put forward for reducing the amount they recommended to £500,000. If a vote of£900, 000 is justified by the evidence tendered to the Commission, the vote proposed by the Treasurer is insufficient. If a vote of£500, 000 is sufficient, the vote recommended by the Commission was far too high. It seems to me that the treatment of the Commission by the Treasurer cannot be excused. The
Commission was composed of a representative from every State in the Commonwealth, and represented all political parties. The members of the Commission approached their task with open minds and a conscientious desire to do justice to Tasmania if a real claim for assistance could be presented on behalf of that State. Having given the matter the fullest investigation, they came to the conclusion that Tasmania had suffered seriously through the operation of Federal laws, and unanimously recommended a grant of £900,000. I have been disappointed that the Treasurer, in introducing this measure, did not give some cogent reason for His proposal to cut down the recommendation of the Commission to .£500,000.
– The Treasurer . knows that a grant of £500,000 is quite enough.
– If that be so, we may regard his proposal as a vote of want of confidence in the Commission. It would appear that the Treasurer, on his independent judgment of the evidence taken by the Commission, came to the conclusion that the Commissioners, representing every State in the Commonwealth, and all political parties, were unable to come to a sound conclusion on the evidence tendered to them.
– Surely the honorable member did not think that the Commission was to supersede this Parliament?
– This Parliament had the matter under consideration, to a greater or less extent, for a number of years, and honorable members found it impossible to make up their minds as to what was due to Tasmania.
– Because they had no evidence on which to come to a conclusion.
– It was admitted over and over again that Tasmania had a claim. Successive Federal Treasurers made that admission, but it was impossible to say what sum was really due to Tasmania. In order to obtain definite and reliable evidence on the subject, it was resolved to appoint a Commission to investigate the whole question. I think I am justified in saying that, with their Chairman, no Commission ever carried out a more conscientious investigation. As a result of all their inquiries from the various witnesses who appeared before them, every member of the Commission attached his signature to a report recommending a grant of £900,000 to Tasmania. If the Treasurer had intimated that the exigencies of the Commonwealth did not permit of a grant of more than £500,000, we might take a little more temperate view of his proposal. But the honorable gentleman has stated definitely that he believes that £500,000 is as much as this Parliament should vote in the circumstances, and, I presume, on the evidence tendered to the Commission. In the opinion of the Treasurer, therefore, the members of the Commission exceeded their duties or formed an unsound conclusion upon the evidence tendered to them. That is a very grave and serious reflection on the Commission who investigated this question.
– How many Commissions have had their recommendations as fully carried out?
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that the Commission to which I am referring dealt with a definite business proposition which did. not involve any question of policy. This is not a new matter at all. The history of the claim dates back to the beginning of Federation. As I have said, one of the delegates from Tasmania to the Federal Convention realizing that it is possible that Tasmania, being the smallest State of the group, might suffer financially through the handing over of Customs and other sources of revenue to the Commonwealth, secured the insertion of section 96 of the Constitution under which it is possible for this Parliament to give financial assistance to a needy State if it considers that the State has suffered financially through the operation of Federal law. That section is founded upon a sound principle that this being the National Parliament of the Commonwealth should not impose laws which will cause a financial loss to any particular State. It was put by the Statistician of Tasmania that a citizen of that State should Be regarded as a citizen of the Commonwealth, and should suffer no particular injury as the result of the operation of Federal laws. I say that the history of the claim dates back to the beginning of Federation, and as early as 1903 the matter was discussed by Sir William Lyne, who, as Minister of Trade and Customs, admitted that on the ground of Customs leakage alone a grant should be made to Tasmania, and he suggested that at that time a lump sum of £1 10,000 should be paid to that State to cover loss suffered through Federation.
Various Conferences on the subject were held between Federal Treasurers and Premiers and Treasurers of’ Tasmania. In 1907 further representations were made, and claims were put forward in the Senate and in this House by members representing Tasmania. Then the Commission to which I have referred was appointed, and, after full inquiry, unanimously recommended a grant of £900,000. The members of the Commission took evidence from every available source, and I believe that any reasonable study of the financial position of Tasmania will show clearly that that State has suffered to the extent of at least £100,000 per annum as a result of Federation. Some witnesses believed the loss exceeded, and very few estimated it at less than, that amount. The recommendation in the report of the Commission is backed up by the evidence which is attached to that report.
– The honorable member does not contend that that loss is all due to Customs leakage.
– No. But Customs leakage, owing to the transfer of goods under the Inter- State certificate system, is claimed by Tasmanian representatives to account for a definite and material loss to the State. The Commission had not been sitting for very long before they discovered that the larger question as to the granting of financial assistance under section 96 of the Constitution completely overwhelmed the claim in respect of Customs leakage.
– And that question never arose until the Commission was appointed.
– Quite so; and the Commission, wisely realizing that that was the sounder claim, paid special attention to it. The most valuable work done by the Commission was the collection of evidence showing the way in which Tasmania had suffered loss of revenue through the operation of the Customs laws of the Commonwealth. If we were to take as the basis of Tasmania’s claim only the losses sustained by reason of Customs leakage, we should be unable to show that any very material loss had occurred. The Commission, after careful inquiry, arrived at the conclusion that the Customs leakage had not exceeded £10,000 per annum. Treasury officials, I understand, estimated that there had been a probable loss of £5/000 a year, while Tasmanian traders estimated that the loss ran up to £20,000 per annum. The Commission found it very difficult to obtain authoritative and conclusive information on the subject, in view of the fact that, under the InterState certificate system, there was not that check on the introduction of goods which was exercised in the case of oversea imports. Very often there were large transfers of goods from a Melbourne house to one of its Tasmanian branches, and it was impossible to check goods sent into Tasmania in this way, or purchased on the mainland and carried over as passengers’ luggage, without the production of InterState certificates. The list of credits from the beginning of Federation shows that Tasmania has been consistently credited with a lower Customs revenue than she enjoyed prior to Federation. It has been said that the spending power of the people there is below that of the people of the mainland ; but there is probably no very direct evidence to show that that is so. It was plainly shown to the Commission, however, that Tasmania, under its own Customs Tariff, prior to Federation, secured a revenue of £2 15s. 10d. per head, whereas under the Federal Tariff its Customs revenue had been reduced to £2 is. 10d. per head.
– Tasmania is not the only State that suffered in that respect.
– With the exception of Queensland, it is; but Queensland differs from Tasmania in the important respect that it has an enormous territorial revenue. Queensland has opportunities to secure revenue by means of its internal system of taxation which are not possible to Tasmania. As a matter of fact, we were shown that Tasmania had done its best to improve its position by means of direct taxation, and that whilst the direct taxation on the mainland had increased by only 2s. 10d. per head, direct taxation in Tasmania had increased from 12s. 6d. per head in 1901, to 32s. 6d. per head in 1909. Mr. R. M. Johnstone, the State Statistician of Tasmania, spoke of what he described as the inopimeter system - “ inopimeter “ being a word coined by himself, I think, to describe the relative self-sacrifice of the States. The Commonwealth Parliament, in taking over the application and collection of Customs duties, deprived Tasmania of revenue which was highly essential to enable it to meet its expenditure. The position of Tasmania in this respect was different from that of any other State. Tasmania had found, because of its small revenue and comparatively small territory-
– It has more auriferous country than has any other State.
– But it is not developed.
– Whose fa.ult is that? It has one of the richest belts of country in Australia.
– The problem of developing Tasmania is one of the most difficult that any State Parliament could be called upon to face. Tasmania enjoys a good climate, and has great possibilities in the matter of its mineral wealth, which I believe has hardly been exploited. But, as a matter of fact, it is a very small territory. It comprises only 17,000,000 acres, and of that area, only 5,000,000 acres have been- alienated. The difficulty of tapping the rich agricultural areas distributed in small patches over the whole of the territory is responsible for the comparatively small slice of country that has been alienated from the Crown.
– Tasmania, like Victoria, is suffering from’ a Legislative Council.
– I am not discussing any Socialistic experiment; I am dealing with a plain financial proposal, and I assert that the Tasmanian Government has done great work in opening up the difficult country which it controls. Something like £[10,000,000 have been expended on roads and railways in Tasmania ; and, of that amount, no less than £2,000,000 have been expended on roadways. As a small State, its development is a most difficult problem. Its railway system is good, having regard to its size, but its railways suffer from the disability that they have to compete with water carriage all round the coast. Consequently, the Tasmanian railways do not* yield more than 2 per cent, on the capital invested ; whereas the railways of every other State return up to 4 per cent. This increase is due to the larger production on tha mainland, the larger areas served, the fact that main trunk lines have been pushed well inland, and the absence of water-carriage competition. Tasmania, owing to all these disabilities, suffered seriously by reason of the transfer of the Customs to Federation. We have to consider whether we are prepared to allow a State like Tasmania practically to be wiped out of existence as the result of the operation of Federal laws. Coming to the revenue which was derived from Customs, I find that, in 1902-3, Tasmania was credited with a return of 9s. 3d. per capita; in 1903, of 8s. 3d. per capita; in 1904, of 7s. 6d. per capita; in 1905, of 8s. 4d. per capita; in 1906, of 8s. 8d. per capita; in 1907, of ns. per capita; in 1908, of ros. 6d. per capita; and, in 1909, of ns. 3d. per capita below the average return of the other States. If we sift the evidence which was tendered to the Commission, and endeavour to make conditions, as far as possible, square with one another, we shall find that the conditions which obtain in Victoria most nearly approximate those which obtain in Tasmania. It was under the bookkeeping system that the revenue returns which I have just quoted were obtained. I believe that that system was continued too long. In my opinion, it should have ceased after it had been in operation for five years. We have it on the authority of Sir Elliot Lewis that, if it had been abolished at the end of that period, Tasmania, under the per capita system, would have been enriched through the Customs alone to the extent of £300,000 or £400,000 during the past three or four years. If we superimpose on that another -£50,000 to represent the Customs leakage which occurred over a period of five years, it will be seen that between 1905 and 1910, when the financial re-adjustment took place, Tasmania would have received by way of refund a sum equal to the grant which is now proposed. Comparing Victoria and Tasmania from the stand-point of Customs revenue, I find that, in 1902, the difference to the disadvantage of Tasmania was 7d. per head ; in 1903, it was 2s. 3d. ; in 1904, it was 4s. 6d. ; iri 1905, it was 5s. 7d. ; in 1906, it was 6s. ; in 1907, it was 7s. ; in 1908, it was 6s. 9d. ; and, in 1909, it was 4s. 1 id. Thus, if Tasmania had been* credited upon the same basis as Victoria was credited, she would have received £[4,600 more revenue in 1902, £20,000 more in 1903, ,£40,000 more in 1904, £45.000 more in 1905, £54,000 more in 1906, ,£63,000 more in 1907, £44,000 * more in 1908, and £46,000 more in 1909. There is another phase of this question which must be considered apart from the direct loss which that State has sustained as the result of the operation of our Customs Tariff Act. We cannot get away from the fact that nearly the whole of the new trade which has keen done by Tasmania has been in goods which were imported free of duty from the other States. The opening of the Tasmanian market has proved an immense gain to Victoria and South Australia. In 1901, the dutiable imports into Tasmania, under the old State Tariff, were valued at£1, 586,000, whereas, in 1909, they were valued at only £1,486,000 - a decrease of £100,000. The increase of importations into Tasmania during the same period amounted to £1,156,000. So that more than the whole of the increase of importations - oversea and Inter-State - during the nine years following the inauguration of the Federation was represented by free goods - that is, by goods imported from oversea or transferred from the other States. I certainly think the Treasurer is to be congratulated upon having brought forward this urgent matter before the session closed. I am glad that some recognition is about to be extended to Tasmania, which has heroically battled with adverse circumstances, against which no other State has had to contend, and which has also had her finances seriously crippled as a result of the operation of Federal laws.
– Not of Federal laws, but of the Federal Constitution.
– As a result of the operation of Federal laws based upon the Federal Constitution.
– The honorable member means the Customs Tariff Act, for example.
– The Constitution imposed a uniform Tariff - not a Federal law.
– We know that all our laws are controlled by the Constitution.
Mr.Mathews. - They are controlled by the High Court - not by the Constitution.
– The point is that Tasmania accepted the Constitution.
– The Constitution imposes certain limitations upon this Parliament, which we have to recognise, and, although the question of the imposition of a uniform Tariff is dealt with a little more elaborately in the Constitution than are other questions, we had nevertheless to enact a law in respect of it. I believe that Tasmania has received certain benefits from Federation. I am of opinion that the increased competition to which Tasmania is now exposed has seriouslyinterfered with very important industries, which would have sprung up there but for the operation of Inter-State Free Trade. I believe the producer of Tasmania has received substantial benefits through having the wider markets of Australia to which to send his goods, without having to pay duty on them, and the Tasmanian consumer has benefited through having a wider competition operating from the mainland, thus enabling him to buy his goods cheaper than would have been the case had the previous high Tariff of Tasmania continued. These, I believe, are substantial benefits, so that I think this claim is a Treasurer’s claim. I do not think that the influence which the Federal Constitution or Federal laws may have had on Tasmania has operated prejudicially to Tasmania’s citizens generally, except so far as they have had to pay largely increased direct taxation to their State Treasury, because of the Federal Parliament taking from them a large proportion of the Customs revenue which their own Tariff formerly produced. I do not want to play off one State against another, but this should be a question of even-handed justice all round. Victoria has benefited by having a much wider InterState trade, Queensland has substantially gained owing to the development of her sugar industry through the operation of Federal laws, and I believe that South Australia has benefited by the very fact of getting rid of the Northern Territory. Western Australia was allowed to keep partial control of her own Tariff to meet her own special circumstances, while New South Wales has benefited to the extent of about£14,000,000 or £15, 000,000 in extra revenue.
– With magnificent factories and industries.
– Yes, that is a point which I thank the honorable member for reminding me of. Because Tasmaniahas been in a different position from the other States by reason of her restricted territorial revenue, so she demands under the Constitution a substantial return for the loss which she has incurred through the Commonwealth Parliament taking away her power to levy taxation through the Customs. The question of a grant is not a new one. According to Sir Elliot Lewis, who tendered some valuable evidence to the Commission, the Dominion Parliament of Canada granted Quebec $70,000, Nova Scotia $60,000, and New Brunswick $50,000. I have searched the report of the Commission and have failed to find in the evidence any substantial argument to contravene the splendid and convincing testimony of the experts of Tasmania. In the circumstances, whilst appreciating the fact that the Treasurer has introduced a Bill, this session, to grant a substantial sum to Tasmania, I regret that he has not seen fit to increase the amount beyond £[500,000. It might have been safely increased by £10,000 per annum for the last seven years, making £70,000 in all, as representing the loss to Tasmania through the operation of the certificate system of transfer of goods. The Commission put that leakage down at £[10,000 per annum. The payment of £500,000 now proposed is less by £400,000 than the amount which the Commission unanimously recommended, but the allowance for leakage might be regarded as a separate conclusion by the Commission. Even at this late hour the Treasurer might see fit to allow Tasmania, say, in round figures, another £[100,000, which would represent, roughly, the leakage for the nine years covered by the Commission’s investigation. Tasmania is clearly entitled on the evidence tendered to the £[500,000 proposed to be given under section 96 of the Constitution. I do not regard it as a grant at all. It is a mere refund of money to which the State was entitled. It was contemplated in the Constitution that such payments might be necessary, and the necessity has been established by the overwhelming evidence tendered to the Commission. Although the amount may seem large, that is simply because of the delay that has taken place in tackling this important question. We are voting a sum of money after nine years’ delay. All the ex-Treasurers who gave evidence before the Commission were unanimous as to the difficulty of the position of Tasmania, and we received no evidence rebutting their statements. We had testimony from Mr. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician, that the smaller. State is the one that can least afford to lose revenue through the Customs, as Tasmania lost it. I am not prepared to say that Tasmania, on coming into the Federation, should not have been called upon to pay her proportion of the sacrifices necessary on the part of the different States in order to achieve the union that we now enjoy, but I would point out that Tasmania, in addition to the 15s. per head which she has lost in Customs revenue, has been paying her proportion of the Commonwealth expenditure. Mr.
Henry, one of the Tasmanian delegates to the Convention, fought the matter very strenuously, because he believed that Tasmania, being a small State, would be placed at a disadvantage under Federation as compared with the other States. The matter was argued in the Convention, and the result was that “section 96 was inserted in the Constitution. That section binds this Parliament honorably to carry out the intention in coming to the assistance of any necessitous State. The Federal Government appointed a Commission composed of members of Parliament sitting on both sides of this House, and I believe representative of every phase of politics. That Commission impartially looked at the matter from the Australian stand-point. They took a large quantity of evidence, and came to a unanimous conclusion. Without reflecting upon the Treasurer, I venture to say that under the circumstances he is not justified in ignoring the unanimous report of the Commission to the extent of £400,000. The Constitution requires us to assist any State whose finances are dislocated by the operation of Federal laws. I think our sense of justice should induce us to honour the recommendation made. I am very glad that the matter has at length been dealt with, but I regret very much that the Treasurer has not consented to render more adequate assistance in justice to the needy State of the Commonwealth.
.- Inasmuch as I was Chairman of the Select Committee - afterwards turned into a Royal Commission - appointed to inquire into the financial situation of Tasmania, I desire to say a few words upon the subject. I concur absolutely in the remarks made by the previous speaker. He has laid before the House a careful and honest view of the whole of the circumstances affecting Tasmania since the inception of Federation. It must be admitted by those honorable members who have the honour of representing the larger States of the Commonwealth that Tasmania was very plucky indeed when, in the first instance, she decided to enter the Union. She was content to trust the other States.
– Tasmania asked for no conditions.
– She made no conditions whatever. Western Australia stood out for special treatment. So did New South Wales. Their terms were granted.
But Tasmania joined the Union absolutely without making any bargain. She had the utmost confidence that if it were proved that she was injured by the operation of Federal law justice would be done to her.
– It was a matter of good faith.
– Undoubtedly. It was decided by the members of the Federal Convention that it was but just that if a State was injured due provision should be made to meet her situation. I agree with the previous speaker that it is to be regretted that the Prime Minister has cut down the amount of grant recommended by the Royal Commission from £900,000 to £500,000. It has to be remembered that the Royal Commission was appointed at the instigation of the Commonwealth Government. It took voluminous evidence, and considered the subject in all itsaspects. The Prime Minister has not told us why he resolved to cut down the amount. Of course, I desire to thank him for taking action at all. It is quite possible that if another Government had been in power no attention whatever would have been paid to the report of the Commission. Perhaps the Prime Minister thinks - in fact, I have heard him say to deputations that waited upon him in Tasmania - that the Royal Commission was very liberal in its views, and showed great kindness to Tasmania. But I do not think that the Commission recommended more than the evidence justified. Evidence was taken from Mr. Allen, the Secretary of the Treasurer’s own Department ; from Mr.Lockyer, the Comptroller of Customs ; from Mr. Knibbs, the Statistician; from officials of the State; from ex-Treasurers of the Commonwealth ; and from Tasmanian Ministers and exMinisters. We based our report upon that evidence, and gave our reasons for it. There is no doubt that Tasmania has suffered terribly since Federation was instituted. If honorable members turn to paragraph 10 of the Commission’s report, they will find ample evidence of that. It states -
In the year 1900-1, prior to Federation, Tasmania received £475,000 from its transferred Departments. The average annual return since has been £361,000, an annual loss of £114,000, while the six States enjoyed an aggregate gain of £1,626,716. Tasmania’s loss under this heading for the nine years ending 1909-10 amounted to £1,028,997, while the aggregate gain for the six States forthe same period was£14,640,444.
That situation was brought about by the operation of Federation. Section 96 of the Constitution expressly lays it down that if a State is injured by the operation of Federation she shall be assisted. I do not look upon this grant as money given to Tasmania to assist her, but as money which practically belongs to her. She is justly entitled to it. Have the people of Tasmania benefited since Federation? We have certainly received less from Customs and Excise, and yet we are paying more for our goods. If the people of Tasmania had been paying less for their goods because of the lower receipts from Customs, their position would not have been so bad ; but they were paying more. Yet we are told that Tasmania is now getting a grant as a necessitous State. I consider that this money is owing to Tasmania because of the operation of laws passed under the Constitution, that instrument providing that, should a State suffer, this Parliament must recognise the fact. Tasmania; has contributed her share towards the cost of the public expenditure throughout Australia, and, will bear her proportion of the burden incurred by the construction of the transcontinental railways, in the taking over and development of the Northern Territory, the construction of the Federal Capital, and other large projects. But, although Tasmania has paid her share per head of population towards the expenditure of the Commonwealth, she has received through the Customs less than her share per head ; so that she has been injured by Federation. I am pleased that the House appears to be unanimously of the opinion that the State should be given assistance. As to the amount proposed to be granted - £500,000 - a private member cannot propose an increase, and to move a reduction by way of intimating to the Government that a larger sum is needed, would be a dangerous procedure.
– We might lose all.
– The Government might say, “ This matter may very well stand over until next session.” I am not willing to take that risk. As one who is practically responsible for the introduction of the Bill at this juncture, I feel that it would be unwise to attempt to alter the proposal of the Treasurer. But if I have the honour to sit in the next Parliament, I shall not forget that Tasmania has a right to £400, 000, in addition to the £500,000 about to be granted to her.I accept this£500,000 without prejudice.
– As part payment.
– Yes. It is something on account. The Treasurer in introducing the Bill might have told us why the Cabinet fixed the grant at£500,000. I think that the Government should have accepted the recommendation of the Royal Commission in its entirety.
– Or reasons should have been given why that was not done.
– Yes. We are forced to accept this£500,000, trusting that Parliament at some future date will provide for the payment of the£400,000 additional which is owing to Tasmania. The Prime Minister, when visiting that State, said that his Government was prepared to make it a grant of £500,000, but should some succeeding Administration be more generously disposed. I hope that Tasmania will get another £400,000.
– It is a matter of right.
– Yes. Tasmania is entitled to £900,000, and the Government should have provided for a grant of that amount. No reason has been given for proposing the grant of a smaller amount. Would the Premier of a State go before a Royal Commission, and, when giving evidence on oath, ask that the provisions of section 96 of the Constitution should be applied to it because of the financial position caused by Federation, if he were not absolutely forced to do so? The Premier of a State would be proud to say, “ Our people are prospering so much that they need no assistance from the Federation.” The fact that Sir Elliot Lewis, when Premier of Tasmania, was forced to ask the Royal Commission to recommend the Commonwealth to deal liberally with his State because she was heavily hit by Federation shows that Tasmania has a claim to consideration.
– The public men of the State who came before the Commission asked for assistance most reluctantly.
– Undoubtedly. Those holding public positions in Tasmania felt humiliated in having to ask for this assistance. One honorable gentleman in Tasmania went so far as to say, “ Mr. Chairman, and Commissioners, I am sorry, after representing the people of Tasmania in its Parliament for so many years that we are forced, through no fault of our own, to come and practically ask for an amount from the Federal Parliament, but we are driven to it.” I hope that if any honorable members speak on this motion they will give an intimation to the Government similar to that which the honorable member for Wimmera, who was a member of the Commission, has given. If it is not out of place, sir, I desire to thank the members of the Commission for the hard work they put in in thoroughly sifting out the position of Tasmania with relation to the Commonwealth, and the able manner in which they discharged their duties. I, as Chairman of the Commission, very greatly feared from the cross-examination by my colleagues, especially by my honorable friend the Honorary Minister, that there was going to be a minority report. His questions were very cutting and biting at times; in fact,witnesses winced under them, but in the end he saw that Tasmania was injured by Federation. I thank the members of the Commission for the work they did for Tasmania, and I trust that should this Government remain in power the State will eventually get the whole of the £900,000. I have much pleasure in supporting the second reading of the Bill.
– I cordially support the Bill. Almost ever since I have been m this House I have, from time to time, urged the course which is now being adopted by the - Prime Minister. I compliment him upon his action in bringing in the Bill. For many a year Tasmania has suffered more acutely than has any other State, owing to the disabilities imposed upon her by the act of Federation itself. I doubt, not that there are some compensating advantages, but so far we have not been able to bring them to light. All along the line it has been one series of disadvantages, so far as the unfortunate little State over the water is concerned. I say, “ unfortunate “ only in its financial sense. I believe that Tasmania herself is sound to the core, economically, industrially, and in every other way, but her resources at present are latent, and seem as though they would be so for some years to come. Developments are going on which, I have no doubt, will in time alter the face of the little island. But until those developments have been made there does appear to be a case for some assistance on the part of the rest of Australia, so far as her financial obligations go. I am saying now nothing which I have not said for many years past, whenever I have had the opportunity on this side of the House. I am not quite sure that I agree with the Prime Minister that this is a handsome sum. To my way of thinking it is not particularly handsome to help a State to the extent indicated in the schedule. A payment of £40,000 or £50,000, or£60,000 a year, while it will help them over there-
– £95,000, £85,000, £75,000, £65,000.
– I am speaking of the amounts to be paid in the succeeding years. I am not quite sure that we are not proceeding in the wrong way in the matter of distribution. It seems to me that we are looking after ourselves, rather than Tasmania, in the form which the grant is taking.
– I do not think that they object.
– Would it notbe better in these piping times of prosperity to give Tasmania a smaller amount, and later, when she will be pressed more heavily perhaps than any other State, a larger amount - that is in the lean years.
– No; this is the better way.
– No; I doubt it. I think that Tasmania could much better do with a smaller amount this year than a larger amount later when her finances will be more straitened than they are to-day. I know that it would be harder for us; but it would be less hard for us than for Tasmania, when the turn of the years comes ; and it looks as if there was already the beginning of a slight turn.
– Cheer up !
– At school, we used to recite a little poem called “ My father is at the helm.” The Prime Minister is at the helm, and I suppose that all is well.
– I do not think that there is the slightest cause for pessimism.
– I am not so sure that the method of distribution set out in the schedule could not be altered with advantage to the little island. However, that is a minor matter. Tasmania suffers, it seems to me, in three ways. First, the making uniform of the Tariff left her with a great deal less money to spend and straightened her finances at once. During the last ten or eleven years, there has been nothing else than a heroic struggle proceeding across the water to make ends meet. When one finds the direct taxation there leaping up from 12s. 6d. to 32s. 6d. per head, while the other States have had little or none of it, one can realize the strain which has been put on the island.
– And 4s. or 5s. through the Federal land tax as well.
– In passing, one cannot help having a bit of a sly dig at my honorable friends on the other side, because, according to their theory, all this direct taxation should have made this tight little island very prosperous indeed.
– They have not got it. They tax the improvements.
– Up to lately, they taxed the improvements.
– That was abolished two years ago.
– Order !
– I am sorry I spoke, sir. The fact remains that to-day 32s. 6d. a head in direct taxation is extracted from the people of the island in addition to the land tax which we impose. Their direct taxation now is, I should think, nearly 50 per cent. of the total taxation.
– It is very nearly £2 a head.
– Yet they want this assistance. All this direct taxation, which theoretically does wonders, does not seem to work out in the little island ; and to-day her finances are straightened. Her resources are latent, and from every point of view, there seems to be a stringency over there. In this case, we are under obligation to come to her help. It should have been done long ago. But it is only lately that we have been able to act under the Constitution, and it is only lately that the State has been in the mood to accept help. For many a year, she scouted the idea of having anything given to her in this direct way.
– The honorable member does not blame Tasmania?
– I do not; I think it is to Tasmania’s credit that, for some years, she stood out and resented any idea of a grant. It is quite clear that only sheer pressure, and, I suppose, a growing sense of injustice, have of late years caused her to take a different view. In my opinion, we are making no gift to Tasmania that she is not justly and fully entitled to. There is no element of charity or patronage about this grant, which merely represents what is due to
Tasmania. I am hoping that in the future there will be such financial and commercial development in Tasmania as will enable her to do without any assistance of this kind. I firmly believe there will be those developments, but the time it not yet; indeed, all the indications are that Tasmania is going to have a hard struggle in the immediate future, so far as her factories and industrial enterprises generally are concerned. This, I suppose, is due to the concentration of the manufactures of Australia in two or three of the large States, and a corresponding diminution of activity in some of the smaller States. This is one of the singular facts brought out in Mr. Knibbs’ book. In proportion as the two large States have grown in a manufacturing sense some of the other States have either receded or stood still. Doubtless it is the principle of concentration asserting itself in this as it does in every other relation of life in modern days; and it is bound to continue, so far as I can see, at any rate until Tasmania develops some fresh natural resources. Whether that will be in the way of electrical development or not I do not know, but there is the possibility that electricity may yet revolutionize the little island. I was reading only the other day that Italy, which, not many years ago, was one of the poorest, most poverty-stricken countries of Europe is now ahead in many respects. For instance, Italy has more units of electricity per head than any other European country.
– Her people are coming forward again as inventors.
– These developments undoubtedly show keen intellectual advance; and it is quite possible that Tasmania may develop in some such direction. But the fact remains that to-day Tasmania requires this help, because of her position in the Federation; the need is not due to any inherent defect in the island itself. I believe that before Federation the Tasmanian Government had to tax everything they could lay their hands on.
– There was a revenue Tariff.
– Which averaged 23 or 24 per cent.
– About 20 per cent.
– I remember Sir Philip Fysh saying a few years ago that he thought the Tariff represented about 23 per cent. ; and that used to be called a Free Trade Tariff.
– No, a revenue Tariff.
– The Tasmanian people could not afford to indulge in such a thing as a scientific Tariff, and they had. practically no free list. Under Federation Tasmania got a free list that meant an impoverishment of the State Treasury that has continued until to-day. Then Tasmania lost again through the book-keeping system, as proved beyond doubt in the report presented to the House. I should say that if the Royal Commission were able to discover a leakage of £70,000 in seven years the probabilities are that the real leakage has been greater.
– Unquestionably, the leakage has been greater, but it cannot be proved.
– The Royal Commission would not have been justified in reporting on the facts that were not substantiated; they were not appointed to theorise or guess about the matter, but to investigate facts. We, however, may make a guess; and I say that the probabilities are that the leakage was even greater than that proved. If that be so, other States have directly benefited; what Tasmania has lost other States have gained, and I believe Victoria has been the largest gainer. There is the other fact that I have already mentioned, that Federation and our fiscal developments, with Inter-State trade, have practically neutralized - I shall put it that way - Tasmanian industrial life.
– Tasmania is making nearly all the jam for Victoria now.
– And good luck to Tasmania, which is entitled to make something. The fact remains that there has been hardly any increase in the number of factory hands employed in Tasmania, while, in this respect, every other State, particularly the two large States, has gone ahead in the last ten or eleven years. All this makes it clear that the grant proposed in the Bill represents an act of the barest justice; and this House would do a very wrong thing if it raised the slightest cavil to the proposal. Every State has had attention paid to it in recent years; and, while we represent Australia, that does not deter us, from time to time, from giving some attention to the interests of individual States. From this point of view alone this Bill is an act of the barest justice. For instance, our good friends in the West have had a special Tariff allowance year by year.
– We paid it ourselves, remember that.
– I know; but I remind the honorable gentleman that New South Wales is, through the Tariff, paying a good deal of the money distributed to the other States. I have no hesitation in saying that a -per capita distribution of the revenue in New South Wales would give that State £500,000 more.
– Queensland is worse off than New South Wales.
– Not so; the position of Queensland is that she loses nothing, but she gains nothing. Queensland is the worst off amongst the States which gain at the expense of New South Wales.
– We are the worst off amongst all the States from a per capita point of view.
– If the Prime Minister goes into the figures he will see that he is not correct. Victoria gains about £150,000 a year, and Tasmania about £100,000, from the same source.
– In New South Wales there is paid only £240,000 altogether through the Customs.
– If the honorable member looks up the figures of a couple of years ago he will see that what “I am stating is correct. Then we are constructing a railway to the West, which is an Australian matter, as well as being of peculiar advantage to Western Australia.
– South Australia has 640 miles of that railway, as compared with 450 miles in Western Australia.
– We have taken this burden from South Australia, and there is looming ahead of us, for railways alone, an expenditure of from £10,000,000 to £14,000,000 in the next few years. In the case of Queensland, we have been very kind to her sugar industry. My own State has not done so badly. We seem to have annexed a good share of the bounties voted by this Parliament. So the thing has gone round, and it seems to me that little Tasmania is now to get her share under the proposal of the Treasurer. According to the Bill, this is a grant in aid, for the purpose of financial assistance to the State of Tasmania. As I have already said, it ought not to be considered a party question. It is a broad, national, financial question, the concern of honorable members on both sides of the House. It is a matter of meting out justice to a needy State of the Commonwealth. In that spirit I now say that I think the Prime Minister should consider very seriously whether he should not add to the £500,000 he proposes should be given to Tasmania the £70,000 representing the loss directly traceable to Customs leakage? If the honorable gentleman could see his way to do SO, he would have the vote of every man on this side. I believe that he would have the whole House with him in allocating a further £70,000 to Tasmania for the purpose of making up the leakage, which has been proved bv the Commission to exist without the possibility of doubt. I say again how glad I am to see Tasmania at last getting a modicum of the justice which has been denied her so long. I hope sincerely that events will so turn out that die little island will, in the near future, not require to ask assistance at the hands of this Parliament. I hope that her prosperity will be such that” she will not only be self-contained financially, but, owing to the development of her trade, will be in a position to assist the finances of the other States.
.- I wish briefly to enter a protest against the grant of this sum of money, and I do so on the ground that Tasmania is remarkable as being the most unfortunate and worst governed of the six States of the Commonwealth. We are fold by historians that the inhabitants of a country wisely governed by astute statesmen are blessed. I am sure that the Liberals of this House will agree with me that the faults of past legislation in Tasmania cannot have been due to Liberals in that State, and must be due to Conservatives. In my opinion, Tasmania is in the worst position of any selfgoverning community under the Union Jack. If the Liberals have but recently exercised an influence in that State, they must only work the harder to make the laws better than they are. In my view, the only hope of rescue for the Island State is the advent of a Labour Government, similar to the present Government of the Commonwealth, to take charge of her affairs. I believe that there is no country in the world, in the same latitude as Tasmania, that possesses such natural advantages. Her seas teem with fish. Thou- sands of tons of sardines might be secured on the western coast. The wealth of the fisheries in Tasmanian waters is, perhaps, not surpassed, with the exception of those of countries fronting the German Ocean and of Newfoundland. In the matter of mineral wealth, I need only refer honorable members to the tin, copper, gold, and silver to be found in the western districts of the island. The tin mines of Tasmania are famous throughout the world. As to the land, there is soil in Tasmania as black as soot, and some of the best land for apples to be found in any part of the world. In spite of all these natural advantages, we have the Tasmanian community in the position of a mendicant in the Commonwealth. This must be due to the bad laws of the past. The statesmen of the past have left the community in their present position. In the matter of education, Tasmania is the most backward of the States. I have some happy memories of Tasmania, and have met some brave men there, and with a sense of the gloom of the terrible disaster which is hanging over the State at the present moment, I say that the laws of the State require to be amended. With the referendum and initiative, and the reform of the present effete and hopeless Parliament of the country, Tasmania might be made to flourish. Tasmania has not to suffer the terrible winter of England and the South of Scotland, or of other countries in the same latitude, and yet with all her natural advantages she occupies the lowest position amongst the States of the Commonwealth. Her land laws are worse than those of any of the other States, and she is not politically up-to-date. I hope that after the next election a Government will be returned that will be able to make the island what it should be.
– Tasmania has just had an election.
– She wants another, and, if necessary, another after that, until the right Government gets into power there. I should like to see even such a Government controlled by the votes of the citizens of Tasmania through the referendum and initiative. I can instance the fact that on a private railway in Tasmania a charge of 3d. per mile is made, and this is owing in a large measure to the enormous area of land controlled by the Van Diemen’s Land Company. I am glad to see that our law is beginning to operate upon that company.
I compliment representatives of Tasmania on both sides of the House upon the good fight they have put up. One point was made by the Prime Minister which I should like to emphasize. The honorable gentleman referred to the fact that, though Tasmania is the smallest community in the Commonwealth, she has, in proportion to population, a greater voting power in the Commonwealth Parliament than have any two of the other States. In the Senate, Tasmania has the same number of representatives as has the larger and wealthier State of New South Wales, although I admit that there is room for improvement at the next general election in its representation there.
– How will that equal re presentation enable Tasmania to pay its debts ?
– It gives Tasmania a better chance to secure common-sense men to look after its affairs. I read the legislative history of Tasmania before I entered politics, and it made me feel ashamed of that State as a part of Australia.Honorable members may recollect that there was at one time a movement on foot for Victoria to annex Tasmania.
– It would have been a good thing, too.
– It would have been in one sense, but had it been carried to a successful issue, Tasmania would not have had the magnificent representation in the Commonwealth Parliament that it enjoys to-day. I shall vote against this Bill as a matter of principle. I cannot blame the representatives of Tasmania for supporting it ; but if at any time Tasmania achieves that success, which, I am sure, we all desire it to secure, its Government should regard it as a sacred duty on its corporate honour to return to the Commonwealth the money which it received from us in its hour of need.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has made an attack on the principle of this measure, mainly on the ground that Tasmania is the worstgoverned State in the Union. The peculiar feature of Tasmanian government which differentiates it from the government of other States has been its system of taxation. We find that in Tasmania about 33s. per head is raised by way of direct taxation, or more than twice the amount raised by direct taxation in any other State. It is obvious that all taxation is ultimately borne by the people themselves, so that to the extent that a country has to impose very heavy taxation, I think we can safely say that it is unfortunatelygoverned. But I did not expect the doctrine to be enunciated by honorable members opposite that the State in which the highest direct taxation prevails is the worstgoverned in the Commonwealth.
I regard Tasmania with a great deal of sympathy, because not only has there been a leakage of revenue under our bookkeeping system, but force of circumstances has actually wiped out a number of Tasmanian industries. If the honorable member for Melbourne will permit me to say so, I do not think that representatives of thisState, which has reaped the bulk of the gain resulting from the wiping out of those industries, should take up an unsympathetic attitude towards this proposal. When all is said and done, with the wiping out of these Tasmanian industries, who have since been manufacturing and supplying all the material used in that State?
– It has been supplied by Melbourne and suburbs.
– Quite so; I therefore think that, upon consideration, the honorable member for Melbourne will see that the more generous attitude for him to adopt would be one of recognising how force of circumstances, under our Constitution, has hit Tasmania and helped Melbourne, and that therefore it is only fair to do what we can for that tight little island, which is now in such financial stress. I indorse this proposition. I recognise that Tasmania has been severely hit; but I trust that in the future she will occupy a better position. In connexion with this proposal, and especially in the light of some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Parramatta, I desire to say that I think we are coming to a turn of the tide in Australia. I have never been given to Cassandra-like prophesy, and I hope that the turn in the tide will not be a very serious one; but the vastly increased public revenues of past years, and the large revenues of the Australian people, due to the good seasons of the past, are now, I think, for a number of reasons, receiving their check. It is idle to suggest that our country, with its falling exports, its increasing tightness of money, and its disappointing season, compared with the seasons of a few years ago, is going to maintain the rate of progress, if we put it at its best, that we have been able to maintain during the past decade. We have, therefore, to look to a tightening up in Australia; and we must regard all these questions not as proposals to give charitable doles to this, that, or the other State, but as grants as of right between State and State and Commonwealth. I put it purely on the question of right that Tasmania is entitled to this grant; and I take it that every honorable member will agree to it.
I certainly desire to compliment the representatives of Tasmania upon the way in which they have managed to bring this matter before the attention of honorable members. I referred a few moments ago to the taxation of the various States. I was speaking, of course, entirely from memory, but I am now able to put before honorable members the actual figures. Knibbs, in the Official YearBook for 1901-11, gives, at page 815, a table furnishing an indication of the relative importance of the different sources of revenue in the several States, the figures quoted being the percentage which each item of revenue bore to the total for the State for the year 1910-11. He shows that the percentage of State taxation to the total State revenue in that year was as follows: - New South Wales, 7.42 per cent.; Victoria, 15.83 percent.; Queensland, 12.54per cent. ; South Australia, 13.05per cent. ; Western Australia, 8.45 per cent. ; and Tasmania, the very high rate of 29.38 per cent The average for all the States was 11.23 cent. I give these figures to prove the comparative accuracy of the statement I made earlier in my speech.
– Tasmania is not a wellgoverned State.
– It is not a fortunatelygoverned State when it has to raise so much taxation. We are indebted to the representatives of Tasmania for the way in which they have placed this matter before the House. I recollect that almost the first fusillade to which I was subjected when I entered this Chamber was one from the representatives of that State, who at that time were nearly all members of the Opposition. I remember that ayoung and vigorous gentleman, with an elderly appearance, used to buttonhole me on this question upon every conceivable occasion, while another gentleman of wisdom, who possessed a youthful appearance, never allowed me to lose sight of it. Honorable members were brought to see this matter in its true perspective before a Commission was appointed to inquire into it, chiefly owing to the determined and persistent attitude of members of the Opposition who hailed from Tasmania. I regard the proposed grant as one of right, and not in the nature of a dole. If I regarded it in the light of a dole, I would oppose it, because I realize that from the point of view of the finances of Australia bad times are ahead.
– In the first place, I wish to compliment the Commission which inquired into this matter upon the very able report which it submitted to this Parliament. That report has proved invaluable to me in enabling me to arrive at a decision upon it. I should have liked the Treasurer to have submitted a proposal to grant Tasmania the sum of £[900,000, in lieu of £500,000. But, because he has not done so, it is not my intention to adversely criticise his action. We know that, as far back as 1903, the Premier of Tasmania approached the Prime Minister of the day with a request for financial assistance to that State.
– Not under section 96 of the Constitution.
– He sought financial assistance on behalf of Tasmania, and at that time it was possible for the Commonwealth Government to have rendered that assistance. Had it been otherwise, successive Premiers of Tasmania would scarcely have wasted their valuable time in waiting upon the Prime Minister with any such request. We know that Captain Evans says that he waited on the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth on no less than four occasions, and that he lamented his inability to secure the desired aid from the right honorable member for Swan.
– I gave him about £30,000 a year.
– Up to the time that the Premier of Tasmania approached the right honorable member, Tasmania was actually paying for the carriage of her mails across Bass Strait. The right honorable member was good enough to allow the Commonwealth to take over that burden. According to the evidence of Captain Evans, ‘that step afforded Tasmania considerable financial relief. Then another
Premier, in the person of Mr. Propsting, approached the Commonwealth with a request for financial aid, but failed to obtain it. Consequently, it would be unfair on my part to adversely criticise the Government because they have not seen fit to propose a grant of ,£900, 000 to Tasmania. I am deeply grateful to the Prime Minister for proposing to grant that State even the sum of £500,000 ; but I reserve to myself the right to come along at a later period and to ask. for more assistance. Tasmania lost heavily by reason of the operation of the bookkeeping system.
– Does the honorable member know that many a man has been convicted for doing less than he is doing ?
– Here is Mr. Knibbs’ evidence on this question. He was asked by the chairman -
Taking the table on page 806, showing the surplus Commonwealth revenue per head of population paid to the States for 1904-5 to 1908-9, what are the aggregate amounts for those five years per head of population returned lo New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania respectively ?
To which he replied -
Approximately, New South Wales, £9 19s. id. ; Victoria, £& I 2S. gd. ; Tasmania, £y 2s. 10d
Then Sir Elliot Lewis, when he appeared before the Commission, was examined as follows -
I have just worked that out roughly, and I find that if Tasmania had received the same amount per head as was returned to New South Wales during the four years I have just quoted, it would have made a difference of £500,000? - Yes; a difference of about £120,000 a year.
Would that have been very acceptable to yourself ? - Most acceptable, and it would have been well used.
So that the representatives of Tasmania do not come here either as paupers or robbers. We simply ask for our right in this matter - that is, for assistance from the Commonwealth when our State is experiencing great financial trouble. Some honorable members have said that Tasmania is not in the bad position in which she is represented to be. I can assure them that that State is suffering very keenly from a financial standpoint, and that it has tried to meet its obligations to the best of its ability. May I remind honorable members of one paragraph in the Commission’s report which clearly shows the burden that the taxpayer in Tasmania carries ? I feel sure that even the honorable member for Melbourne, when he hears that paragraph read, will withdraw his opposition to this Bill. It is as follows -
Definite action has been taken by successive Governments to grapple with the situation. Expenditure has been cut down, developmental work retarded, and direct taxation heavily increased.From 12s.10d. per head, prior to Federation, it has increased to 32s. 6d., an increase of 19s. 8d. per head, as against an average increase for all six States of 2s. 4d. The direct taxation of 32s. 6d. per head compares with an average for all six States of 18s. 4d. The State has been compelled to increase its direct taxation by over 800 per cent. more than the average of the other States. From £111,515, in 1901, it had risen to £303,390, in 1909-10. The exemption under the income tax is down to £100 for married, and £80 for single, men.
I do not know any other State in which a man with that amount of income is called upon to pay income tax. Surely, in the face of the facts that I have given to the House, I am justified in appealing to the generosity of the honorable member for Maranoa. We know how big-hearted he is. He has never been known to cripple any private individual, and I am sure he is not going to cripple a necessitous State such as Tasmania is at the present time. I am sure the honorable member has not had time to give to this question the consideration it warrants, and I have no hesitation in predicting that he will withdraw all his opposition to the proposal.
– Give some good reasons for it.
– I have already given one good reason - that, owing to the loss of revenue during the book-keeping period, Tasmania is entitled to the £500,000 proposed to be paid to her. Another most important reason is that Tasmania has really become a suburb of Victoria and New South Wales. The Statistician states that the Australian produce transferred from other Australian States to Tasmania increased between 1903 and 1909 by 86.1 per cent. Of course he refers to Australia, but almost the whole of that trade comes from New South Wales and Victoria.
– Do you know that it was a Tasmanian who was responsible for that blot?
– I know; and Tasmania has suffered through it. I want the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to recognise how Victoria has gained. I do not hesitate to say that I did interview him personally, and tried to show by per suasion and argument that his opposition to the grant was not justified. The people who have benefited most by the introduction of Federation are the people of Victoria, owing to Victoria having a splendid manufacturing system built up under its protective Tariff. When they federated, they were in a position to compete with our State to such an extent that they simply wiped our factories out of existence. No Victorian should raise any opposition to this measure. If the sum of money is granted it will tide us over a very trying time. Tasmania is, at the present time, in the position of a firm whose trade has increased to such an extent that it has got beyond its existing capital. Give us the capital and we shall produce the asset. We shall develop our country in such a way that, in time, we shall become equally as rich as any of the other States in proportion to our area and population. We only require capital to develop our little island, and then I venture to say we shall be able to show a return equal to any. Before I resume my seat I would implore honorable members not to raise the opposition to this measure that some of them have intimated to us that they intend doing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Subject to this Act, there shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, for the purposes of financial assistance to the State of Tasmania, the sum of Five hundred thousand pounds.
.- What do the Government propose to do with regard to the extra £70,000?
– There is no proposal in addition to what is in the Bill.
– It seemed to me from the remarks of the honorable member for Wimmera, a member of the Royal Commission, that the State was entitled to the extra £70,000.
– It is entitled to nothing. This is purely a charity vote.
– Such a remark comes with the very worst possible grace from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. His own State has been reaping the benefit of the ruin of Tasmanian industries. This is either a question of right, or else we ought not to grant the money at all. I think it is a question of right. We ought to know definitely on this clause whether or not the Government are going to accede to the representations of the honorable member for Wimmera, and give the extra £70,000. The Honorary Minister laconically says, “ We are not going to give anything else than is in the Bill.”
– You are not justified in using the word “ laconically.”
-I never knew such purists in the English language ! The Government are not giving Tasmania all that she is entitled to.
– She has no claim at all ; it is a charity vote, and you know it.
– The honorable member knows that there is many a factory chimney smoking in his electorate because of the ruin of the industries of Tasmania.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- I did not speak on the motion for the second reading, because I was desirous that the Bill should get into Committee; I rise now because I wish the Committee to give consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member for Wimmera that, as this grant is being made under section 96 of the Constitution, there should also be a recognition of the loss Tasmania has suffered by the leakage of the Customs revenue, which I believe to be greater than it was stated to be by the Royal Commission. The members of the Commission found it practically impossible to arrive at an accurate estimate of the Customs leakage, a subject which has been a cause of trouble ever since I entered the House. The efficacy of the Inter-State certificates in checking Customs leakage has been repeatedly challenged here. During the last nine years, I and others have shown, from our personal knowledge of the system, that it has not protected the State of Tasmania. I shall not exhaust the patience of honorable members by quoting the evidence on the subject taken by the Royal Commission, because they have already read it ; but I would remind them that Mr. Warr, of Sydney, the largest Customs House agent there, giving evidence on oath, said that the passing of Inter-State certificates was treated as a matter of form, that the certificates were merely presented and passed1 without any attempt to check their correctness. During the life of the Braddon section it was held that any adjustment necessary in connexion with Customs duties was a matter for the States, and not for the Commonwealth; and the honorable member for Hume, at one time, almost arranged with New South Wales and Victoria, which Were benefiting at the expense of Tasmania, that they should recognise the latter’s claim to compensation. The honorable member estimated the loss to Tasmania through leakage at about£20,000 a year; andI am certain that, after 1902, the annual loss of the State was at least that amount. Until the end of 1902, there was a fairly efficient check provided ; but, at the request of the traders of Victoria, the system was altered, and practically all the safeguards against loss removed. Victorian and New South Wales witnesses showed plainly that the passing of Inter- State certificates was regarded solely as a matter of form; and one of them stated frankly that it was for the Parliament of Tasmania, and not for them, to protect the people of the State. The Commission was shown one Inter- State certificate which contained 800 odd items, and it was passed in a few minutes.
– What is the honorable member growling about? Tasmania is to get what she asks for.
– We want justice.
– When will Tasmania repay this money?
– Never. Tasmanian representatives have the effrontery to say that they intend to ask for more later on.
– The making of a grant of this kind is not a new thing. Parliament, without a word of objection, granted £3,500,000 to Western Australia.
– That is a grossly unfair thing to say. Parliament had to do that under the Constitution.
– The grant was made under the Financial Agreement of 1910.
– Under the Constitution, Western Australia was allowed to levy a special Tariff for her own advantage, and she has not to thank the Commonwealth for the revenue so obtained ; but, under the Financial Agreement arrived at two years ago, the State of Western Australia receives from the Commonwealth, in annual instalments, £3,250,000.
– That is merely a continuance of the provision in the Constitution.
– No. Under the Financial Agreement, the Commonwealth returns to each State 25s. per head of population ; but Western Australia receives, in addition, a special grant of£3,250,000, which is being paid to her in annual instalments. I do not begrudge the money to Western Australia, because her position was much the same as that of Tasmania. Prior to Federation, both States were obtaining a large part of their revenue from Customs duties, and suffered greatly by the handing over of Customs duties to the Commonwealth. When the Braddon section of the Constitution ceased to have effect, this Parliament made Western Australia a free gift of £3,500,000.
– The money will be found by the taxpayers of Western Australia.
– It will be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth.
– Western Australian taxpayers will provide it.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. The feeling of honorable members is that the amount recommended by the Royal Commission to be granted to Tasmania has been materially reduced. It must be remembered that the rights of the Commonwealth were carefully safeguarded by the members of that Commission. The Honorary Minister, for instance, challenged every statement made before the Commission, and cross-examined the witnesses very severely.
– So did the honorable member for Wimmera.
– Yes. I intend to test the feeling of the Committee as to whether Tasmania should not receive, in addition to this grant, the sum of £70,000 to make good her loss through Customs leakage. Every member will admit that there was a leakage amounting to at least£70,000.
– The honorable member must speak for himself.
-I do not think that any member, speaking authoritatively, would say that there has not been that leakage.
– If the honorable member intends to move an amendment, let him move to make the grant £900,000.
– To move an amendment having for its object the repayment to Tasmania of the amount which she is supposed to have lost through Customs leakage is an admission that that is all the State should get.
– Not at all.
– Why did not Tasmanian representatives ask that special consideration should be given to the State under the Financial Agreement?
– I moved in that direction.
– I have tried to the utmost of my ability to get this matter remedied before, but have always been blocked. I move -
That after the word “ hundred,” line 5, the word “and” be inserted.
The rejection of the amendment will be taken to mean that the Committee objects to increase the grant to Tasmania, but its acceptance will be an intimation to the Government that it should increase the grant by £70,000, to repay to Tasmania what she has lost by Customs leakage.
– I am glad to see that the Government are at last trying to help Tasmania, a State which has had a very serious struggle since Federation. At the same time, in the face of the report of the Royal Commission, and the unanimous recommendation of the members of that tody, to the effect that Tasmania should be recouped to the amount of £900,000, I hope that this Parliament, in the future, should the State need assistance, will grant the balance, or a reasonable proportion thereof. It is open to the Commonwealth to grant any assistance to a State that is in need; and the reason that this question has not been raised before is that Tasmania would not accept charity if that could possibly be helped.
– This is not charity.
– I know that it is not charity.
– I am not voting for this as a charitable dole, but as a right.
– And I claim it as a right. In the past, Tasmania felt that she had suffered special loss through Customs leakage, and this was the point discussed. The Premiers of Tasmania have frequently come to Melbourne, and Conferences have been held ; and, finally, the honorable member for Bass moved that Tasmania should be recouped. £20,000 a year for ten years. At that time, there was before us the Bill, under which the States are now paid 25s. per capita, and I attempted to insert an amendment which would have met the desire of the honorable member for Bass. Eventually a Royal Commission was appointed; and no doubt such a body is in a better position to gather information than is any individual member or members. That Commission considered, not only the question of leakage, but the whole position of Tasmania in relation to Federation.
– What would. Tasmania have lost had she remained out of Federation ?
– Tasmania would have lost nothing. That is a question frequently discussed in Tasmania; and only the other day, when travelling, I found, in conversation with a number of representative people, that, in their opinion, the State would have been in a very fine position if she hadkept out of the Union. I believe that if it were left to the people of Tasmania to-day they would be only too ready to walk out of the Union, and take their chance.
– What advantage would that be tothem?
– The people of Tasmania see that there would be an advantage. Those people know the conditions of the country, whereas I suppose the Minister, if he has ever been there in his life, has simply gadded through as a tourist.
– I am asking the honorable member for information.
– The people of Tasmania consider that they would have had very large advantages had they remained out of the Union.
– But what are the advantages ?
– In the first place they would have been able to impose their own Customs Tariff, and they would have been able to deal with whom they liked, whether on the mainland or in foreign countries.
– Ask the honorable member for Parramatta if the latter is an advantage.
– It would be an advantage from a governmental point of view, because it would mean revenue.
– What about the establishment of local industries ?
– It would have been possible to maintain in Tasmania soap and candle, boot, and other factories, which have been closed owing to the competition of the larger establishments on the mainland. Further, it would have been possible to prevent the “dumping” that takes place. Recently flour has been largely “dumped” in Tasmania; and themilling industry in that State is nothing like so flourishing as it was before Federation.
– More wheat must be grown in Tasmania.
– Possibly. Tasmania is not a great wheat country.
– The wheat-ring of Melbourne allows the “dumping” of flour in Tasmania.
– There is “ dumping,” or, at any rate, there has been in the past. This Bill establishes a precedent; it is the first time that any State has applied for assistance under section 96 of the Constitution. If the Parliament is of opinion that Tasmania requires assistance, that assistance ought to be forthcoming as a right. Some of the larger States, which have had years of prosperity, may in the future have to make an appeal under this section of the Constitution. Of course, I sincerely hope that such will not be the case; but strange things happen.
– Is the honorable member in favour of this Bill?
– I am.
– Then why “ stone- wall “ it?
– I am not “ stonewalling “ it ; on the contrary, I am in favour of this Bill, and also of the amendment. The Royal Commission recommended that£900,000 should be paid, and the Bill provides for only £500,000 ; but, of course, for the latter I am very thankful. At the same time, we ought to be informed as to the reason why the Government did not adopt the report of the Royal Commission. Surely, when a Minister introduces a Bill we are entitled to know the reasons why he places the measure before us. However, I shall not press the point; I am glad to see that, now we have been forced to ask for assistance, we are going to receive a substantial amount, though it by no means represents the loss which the State has sustained.
– Tasmania has lost nothing.
– Then why does the honorable member, as a member of the Government, propose to give Tasmania anything at all?
– It is given under section 96.
– Tasmania, when she entered the Federation, had a Customs revenue of £475,000 per annum, and, since Federation, she has not received that amount within£200,000.
– Who pays the Customs duties ; the man inside or the foreigner ?
– The Minister, in that smug way of his, has put what he may consider a clever question, but it is a question very easily answered in the case of Tasmania. The Government of Tasmania are not getting anything like the amount I have mentioned, and the £200,000 short is not in the pockets of the people of Tasmania. The goods which are sent so. freely from the mainland cost the people of Tasmania just about as much as they were called upon to pay for imported articles after the duty had been paid; and the duty then collected went into the Treasury. The Government of Tasmania, which requires money to develop the resources of the State, are crippled in their efforts. They have resorted to most drastic direct taxation, a system so much favoured by honorable members opposite; and yet the supporters of the Government do not seem to think that Tasmania is governed on proper lines. All this, however, is beside the mark. I am satisfied, after reading the evidence, not only of business men, but of Mr. Stewart, an ex-Treasurer of the State, that Tasmania has suffered. Indeed, Mr. Stewart thinks that £1,000,000 would not recoup Tasmania; and I notice that that gentleman, who was Treasurer for some few years after Federation, complained that the claim now realized in this Bill was not made years ago. Representatives of the State of Tasmania were always bringing this question before the House, though not in this form.
– It will not result profitably to the honorable member to go back to those debates.
– I am now referring to Mr. Stewart’s evidence, and that gentleman is as much to blame as any one else, because, as Treasurer of the State, he should have shown to honorable members of this House that Tasmania was willing to be brought under section 96 of the Constitution. At first, we always acted in cooperation with the State Treasurer and Government : but the appointment of a Royal Commission opened up new ground. Not only the leakage question, but the question of the general sacrifice made by Tasmania, was brought under consideration, and the Commission reported that Tasmania was entitled to a certain sum of money. I am sorry that we are not to receive the amount recommended by the Commission, but I am glad that the Prime Minister has proposed, at all events, a substantial advance towards it. I sincerely hope that if Tasmania’s position should not improve, the Federal Parliament will be prepared later on to supplement this grant according to her needs. Under section 96 of the Constitution Tasmania has a right to this assistance, and I trust that no other State will be so unfortunate as to be called’ upon to make a similar demand upon the finances, of the Commonwealth.
– I am surprised at the action taken by the honorable member for Franklin, who, as a member of the Royal Commission, attached his signature to a recommendation that the Parliament should grant Tasmania £900,000. He is to-day violating, so to speak, his own signature by moving an amendment which he says is intended to be a direction to the Government that the proposed grant of £500,000 should be increased by £70,000. He intimated that he had decided to make this request for an additional £70,000 after consultation with other honorable members. What is his motive? I may say at once that I am not going to be placed in a false position,, and that I, therefore, intend to support the amendment. Since the honorable member has seen fit to move an amendment as a direction to the Government to increase the proposed grant, he should at least have acted in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission to which he agreed, and have proposed that the grant should be increased to £900,000.
– It is open to the honorable member to move a further amendment.
– If I do, I shall move an amendment with the object of increasing the grant to £900,000. I do not wish, however, to jeopardize this Bill. If the amendment is carried the honorable member for Franklin will have to take the responsibility for the action of the Government in regard to it. If he moved to increase the grant in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission I should “go the whole hog” with him.
– The honorable member cannot support the proposal to increase the grant by £70,000.
– I must support it, as a proposal to bring the grant nearer the amount which I, as Chairman of the Commission, recommended should be paid, to Tasmania.
– But what if it meant destroying the Bill?
– I must support my own recommendation.
– The Ministry may be prepared to grant an additional £70,000.
– I understood the Minister to say, by way of interjection, that the Government were not prepared to consent to the suggested increase. The honorable member for Franklin is placing the members of the Royal Commission in a very awkward position by moving this amendment.
-It is simply done to put the representatives of Tasmania on this side of the House”in a hole.”
– I share the honorable member for Denison’s view.
– Surely the honorable member can treat this as a non-party question.
– I shall, by my vote, do so; and if I am in order I shall give notice of a further amendment.
– On a point of order I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether it is competent for a private member to move an amendment which would have the effect of increasing the expenditure?
– Such an amendment could not be moved by a private member, but in this case the amendment is simply for the insertion of the word “and”.
– With a view to the insertion, later on, of the words “ seventy thousand and “.
– With a view to nothing.
– The honorable member for Franklin has not moved to insert any amount in the Bill.
– I may ask, in the circumstances, whether the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Franklin has been moved on behalf of the Opposition?
– That is not a fair question to ask.
– It is only fair that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is in charge of his party, should reply to my question. The Government have submitted this Bill, and an unusual amendment has been submitted.
– It is quite a usual amendment.
– It is an unusual amendment to be moved in Committee. The carrying of the amendment to insert the word “ and “ would have no other effect than that of making the clause ungrammatical. As it stands, it signifies nothing. If it is moved on behalf of the Opposition, with the intention of increasing the proposed grant, it is out of order, and is a mere attempt to evade the Standing Orders. As this is not a party matter, I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to state whether the amendment has been moved on behalf of the Opposition?
– How could he find out?
– I do not ask him to bind the honorable member. It would require too much tape to bind him. My request is a fair and ordinary one. Why this reticence on the part of honorable members opposite?
– We are free agents.
– Apparently, honorable members opposite are not free to reply to my question, either in the affirmative or the negative. I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will favour me with a reply.
– I am longing for an opportunity to answer the honorable member.
– Then I shall give the honorable member an opportunity to do so.
– I was glad to be able to support the second reading of this Bill. Had not the representatives of Tasmania at the Federal Convention been as sanguine as they were they might have secured concessions favorable to that State. Throughout the Convention a very generous feeling was displayed towards the smaller States, but the representatives of Tasmania thought that she would be able to carry on underFederation without any special consideration, and in the circumstances they naturallyrefrained from asking for any concession. With the establishment of Federation, however, the people of Tasmania, and especially those taking a prominent part in its government, soon found that the operation of the Customs Tariff Act was generally disadvantageous to their revenue. The fact that Federation would give Tasmania a free market in Victoria was one of the levers used to induce that State to enter the Union, but however beneficial Federation may have been to Tasmania in that respect, the fact remains that the Customs revenue of the island State, as compared with that received prior to Federation, has been dwindling away, and that it has been passing through very difficult times. Despite the fact that additional and heavy direct taxation has been imposed, the Tasmanian Government have experienced great difficulty in making both ends meet. When I took office as Treasurer in 1905, they were most persistent in their endeavours to secure even a few pounds in excess of that which was coming to the State under the operation of the Braddon section. I did all I could to help them, and as the honorable member for Denison has said, many concessions which they did not at first enjoy were extended to them. At the outset of Federation Tasmania was required to pay £13,000 a year in respect of the mail service between Melbourne and Launceston. I did away with that charge, and we also provided for the uniform telegraphic rates which applied throughout Australia should also apply to Tasmania. Prior to our action it cost less to send a telegram from one end of the mainland to the other than it did to send one from Tasmania to Victoria. I was instrumental in having that abolished. There were subsidies in connexion with the cable service, and these were abolished also. We gave Tasmania about £25,000 a year that they were charged with previously, and with which I thought they ought not to be charged. Then the question arose as to leakage. At that time, the Government of Tasmania based their claim altogether 011 the leakage, which they thought was much greater than it was proved to be. The Commission arrived at an estimate of £10,000 a year, or £70,000 for seven years. Still, Tasmania struggled on, and then the change from three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue under the Braddon section, to 25s. per capita, was made a couple of years ago. This further diminished their revenue. It dropped from £409,000 in 1907-8, to £374,000 in the next year; it then rose to £391,000, and fell to £242,000 in 1910.
– Doe3 the honorable member support the decrease that is being moved by the honorable member for Franklin, in the amount proposed to be granted to Tasmania?
– I have not heard of any decrease; and shall be glad to support the addition proposed by the honorable member for Franklin. I do not want to give more than is necessary ; but I have not heard any good reason why the Government, after appointing an impartial Commission, should have practically cut the Commission’s recommendation in half. That action on their part requires more explanation than we have had. The Commission went into the matter thoroughly, and recommended the payment of £900,000 spread over a number of years. I was a member of the Commission at the beginning, but as I had to go away, I resigned. Tasmania is a small struggling State, which has done its best, I am sure, for a number of years in regard to Federation, and also in regard to the Empire. If we err at all in this matter, we might err on the generous side. Probably the Government think they are doing so in giving £500,000 ; but I do not see much use in appointing a Royal Commission and then treating its recommendations as if they were non-existent. The Commission was ably presided over by the honorable member for Bass, who took an immense amount of trouble to ascertain the facts. No one could say that it was a partisan Commission, or likely to be unduly influenced in favour of Tasmania. Leaving out the honorable member for Bass, and the honorable member for Franklin, who come from Tasmania, the others are not particularly interested in giving Tasmania more than it should get. In fact, their interests would be to give as little as possible. When we are about it, we ought to act on the generous side. While I am quite prepared to support the Bill, I must say that the Government would have done well if they had acted! a little more in accord with the recommendation of the Commission. I do not know what the honorable member for Franklin proposes to move. I know he cannot move for an additional sum ; but if he move3 for the insertion of the word “and,” not in a spirit of opposition, but simply to show the Government in a courteous way that those who vote with him think that they should have acted more generously, no one should be able to take exception to it. Such an amendment, intended to show the Government that the Committee would be pleased if a little more generous view were taken of the recommendation of the Commission, should not be regarded as adverse to the Government in any way, because Governments are often glad to have expressions of opinion of that kind to guide them.
.- The clause provides that “ five hundred thousand pounds “ shall be paid to Tasmania. The honorable member for Franklin has moved to insert the word “ and” after the word “hundred.” This will make the clause read “ Five hundred and thousand pounds.” This, of course, means £500 plus £1,000, or £1,500; so that the honorable member for Franklin, who, in his cuteness thought he was doing something which would gain him a little political kudos outside, is actually moving to reduce the amount from £500,000 to £1,500, or a reduction of £498,500.
– The honorable member for Bass said he would support the amendment.
– The honorable member for Bass, apparently, took the statement of the honorable member for Franklin at that honorable member’s valuation, and did not examine the amendment. No honorable member has a right to move an amendment and say that it means something else. I shall vote on every proposition that comes before the House according to what it reads in English, and not according to what somebody else may say it means. The honorable member for Franklin might as well try to put a Chinese character into the clause, and tell us that it means something else. This is one of the most palpable political dodges that we have had from the other side. The honorable member for Parramatta, when asked a few moments ago where it led to, said, “ It leads to nowhere.” It would require another amendment to make it read sensibly, and the remark of the honorable member for Parramatta shows that it is nothing but a political sham. Seeing, however, that the honorable member for Franklin asks the Committee to carry the amendment, I am prepared to support it. Let him get up into the collar and stick to it.
– I intend to.
– Is the honorable member going to vote for it?
– Yes. Is the honorable member for Franklin satisfied with £1,500 instead of £500,000? I am prepared to take him at his word.
– Are you in favour of paying Tasmania only £1,500?
– I am in favour of the Government measure, but when I find a member representing the most populous part of Tasmania asking for only £1,500, I will give him an opportunity for a division on the question. The other day we had a little of this political trickery, and some honorable members opposite found themselves in the ditch before it was all over.
– Is this in order?
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to a motion as political trickery.
– If the honorable member for Franklin says he means something else, let him move an amendment stating exactly what he does mean. He is not so dense that he cannot find words for that purpose. Let him move his amendment.
– And not place others in a false position.
– I do not think that this amendment will place anybody in a false position. The honorable member for Franklin is not entitled to move an amendment to reduce the amount, and then say that all those who voted for it were in favour of increasing the amount. Let the electors outside look at the clause and see how it reads with the honorable member’s amendment. It is really an intimation to the Government that Tasmania does not want any assistance at all, because £1,500 is a ridiculous sum to offer.
– It is to be regretted that the Honorary Minister, who is in charge of the Committee, should have tried to put the responsibility of leading the Committee on to the shoulders of the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I asked a question.
– But the Minister gave no indication of the attitude of the Government on the question.
– Why should he?
– Is he not leading the Committee? Could he not accept or reject the amendment?
– We do not know what the amendment means.
– The Honorary Minister knows well enough, and so does the honorable member for Cook. We are, and have been, discussing the Bill in a purely non-party spirit, and one honorable member has moved an amendment, with a view to ascertain whether the Committee are in favour of giving Tasmania at least another £70,000. The honorable member for Bass, with perfect frankness, which does him credit, rose in the beginning and said distinctly, “ We signed our names to a recommendation for the payment of £900,000 over a period of years, and I think that that sum should have been granted. It has not been granted, and I should like to know the reason why.” The honorable “member for Wimmera also said, “ I believe the Government should have paid the £900,000. Their action looks like a want of confidence in the Commission, because they have givenonly £500,000 when we unanimously recommended £900,000.” The honorable member for Adelaide signed the recommendation also, but I can understand his reluctance to rise and state what amount he thinks should be given. As a member of the Cabinet, he is justified, of course, in taking distinct corporate action with the Government. As a member of the Cabinet he may have other reasons in his mind for not going as far as £900,000. The honorable member for Franklin wishes to ascertain from the Committee whether it thinks the grant should not be increased.
– The usual thing is to move to create a blank.
– An amendment to ascertain the opinion of the Committee can be moved in any way that may be thought convenient. It would be useless for the honorable member to move to increase the grant by £70,000, because the recommendation of the Governor- General covers an appropriation of only £500,000 ; but if the amendment is agreed to ona non-party vote, Ministers will be able to obtain from the Governor- General a recommendation covering the grant of an additional
– Why not pass the Bill as it is, and provide afterwards for an additional grant of £70,000?
– I am sure that if the Government promise ; to enable us to dc that, the amendment will be withdrawn.
– If the amendment were carried, Tasmania would getless than she is being offered.
– The honorable member knows that that is mere quibbling, because the amendment has been moved only to test the feeling of the Committee regarding the proposal to increase the grant by £70,000. The honorable member for Bass, who is a broad-minded man, did not raisethat quibble, nor did the Minister, who merely asked whether the proposed increase had the support of the Opposition. The action of the Government in offering £500,000, the Royal Commission having recommended £900,000, resembles that of the arbitrator who splits the difference, hoping to please both parties. The honorable member for Bass holds that nothing less than the full amount awarded by the Commission will satisfy Tasmania. The honorable member for Wimmera also takes that stand. There is no desire to kill the Bill, and there should not be any imputation of unfairness or dishonesty. Both sides have agreed that Tasmania is entitled to assistance. The second reading of the Bill was passed without a division, and the desirability of making a grant having been affirmed, it only remains to settle the amount. We can approach the consideration of details in a quiet, calm, judicial, and non-party manner. The returns show that Tasmania has suffered considerable loss in the past, and the larger States may well say that they are prepared to come to her assistance. The honorable member for Bass put a very good case before the Committee, and it was supported in an able speech by the honorable member for Wimmera. I think that it will satisfy Tasmania, and please honorable members generally, if the Government say that, the principle of the grant having been affirmed, it is prepared to increase the amount by £70,000.
.- I am surprised that a difference of opinion has arisen in this matter. It is, I believe, desired to treat Tasmania fairly. Earlier in the year, when visiting that State, I was asked, as a representative of Victoria, why the Government had promised to grant only £500,000 when the Royal Commission which had investigated the claims of Tasmania had recommended a grant of £900,000. My reply was that no doubt the Commission, after inquiring into the financial relations of Tasmania with the Commonwealth, felt that the State was entitled to £900,000, but that the Government, having control of the purse, had to determine how the public revenue could be best spent in the interests of the whole Commonwealth, andhad come to the decision that £500,000 would be sufficient to grant to Tasmania. I also said that if it were found, after a few years,that £500,000 was not, sufficient, I would be prepared to consider any request for a further grant. I admit that Tasmania deserves consideration, but £500,000 is a large sum togrant. Should it ultimately prove too small, there is no reason why full effect should not be given to the recommendation of the Commission.
.- Believing that£900,000, the grant recommended by the Commission should be given to Tasmania, I am prepared to support any effort to increase the grant proposed by the Government. Like the others who signed the Commission’s report, I conscientiously believed, after the fullest investigation of the case, that Tasmania. waas entitled to£900,000, and I am of opinion that the obligations of the Commonwealth towards a small and weak State cannot be discharged by any smaller payment. I am amazed at the moderation of the honorable member for Franklin. My opinion is that section 96 of the Constitution was intended to cover the transitions of the bookkeeping period. That period having expired, Tasmania has a claim to just treatment at the hands of this Parliament. A grant of£900,000 may appear a very large one, but it was recommended to cover a period of nine years, during which Tasmania was losing heavily. All the States were represented on the Royal Commission. Tasmania was represented by the honorable members for Bass and Franklin, Queensland by the honorable member for Herbert, New South Wales by the honorable member for Hume, South Australia by the honorable member for Adelaide, Western Australia by the honorable member forFremantle, andVictoria by myself. I object to the statement that this is a charitable grant, or a gift to Tasmania. The evidence shows that Tasmania, over a period of nine years, Lost more than£100,000 a year.During the year before Federation, her revenue from the State Customs duties was £475,000, but in 1906 she received from the Commonwealth Customs duties only £361,000, a loss of£114,000. That takes no account of the increase in her importations, and, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, had she not fede- rated, she would have received in Customs duties in 1906, under her own Tariff, £708,000, so that her loss that year was, over £300,000, and her aggregate loss for nine years nearly £3,000,000.
– Why not make up the loss by other taxation?
– One thing to the credit of Tasmania is that she has heroically endeavoured to make up the deficiency by levying direct taxation before appealing to the Commonwealth Parlia ment. The direct taxation in Tasmania has been increased from 12s.10d.per head to 32s. 6d. per head, and, in addition, there is the Federal land tax ; whereas, in the same period, the direct taxation throughout the Commonwealth has been increased by only 2s. 4d. per head. The case is overwhelmingly in favour of Tasmania. On the basis of the loss of Customs revenue, Tasmania could easily have claimed double the amount recommended by the Royal Commission - that is, from the stand-point of the Treasury, and not altogether from the stand-point of the consumer or the taxpayer. I am prepared to vote for any increase, but shall not be satisfied with anything less than the amount recommended by the Commission after the fullest investigation.
Question - That the word “and” proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move - -.
That the .word “thousand” be left out.
– -Let the clause go !
– I wish to block this altogether - that is my position. It seems to me that some Tasmanian members do not want this grant, whilst some do; and if, when we desire to give people something, they do not show a disposition to accept it, the proper thing is to button up our pockets. What we do in private life, we ought to do in public life.
– The Government mean to carry what they propose.
– Not with my assistance !
– I think the proposal is a very handsome one, notwithstanding what the Royal Commission reported.
– We all thought that.
– With all respect, I may say that it is the easiest thing in the world for a Royal Commission to recommend an expenditure of millions of money, but it is the duty of the Treasurer to see that what is granted is fair and reasonable.
– Would the Prime Minister mind saying why he thinks this proposal reasonable? He has not told us as yet.
– I have told the Committee in the plainest possible language. The great mass of the Tasmanian people think they are being handsomely done by. When I find representative men, who, during their six or seven years of office, did nothing in regard to this claim, and who now take action for purely party purposes, and indulge in what I may call child-like tactics, I must ask the party behind me to give adherence to what the Government think is a fair thing, so that Tasmania may get what she desires without further trouble. I ask the honorable member for Maranoa not to press the amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta)
L$-56]- - We are all much obliged to the Prime Minister for putting this matter in its true setting. From what the honorable gentleman now says it is quite plain that honorable members on his own side have voted for Oi paltry increase, which, in their hearts, they know is not sincerely meant.
– What did honorable members opposite do just now for mere party purposes?
– It is not I, but the Prime Minister, who says that honorable members opposite have so voted.
– The “ shoe is pinching. “
– The “ shoe ,: is evidently “ pinching “ somewhere, but where and how I dp not pretend to know at any rate, we over here are perfectly comfortable about the matter.
– You do not look it !
– Honorable members opposite accuse the Government . of extravagance, and now propose further expenditure !
– The honorable member will find, if he studies economics long enough, that a Government can be economical and yet generous - the two things are not inconsistent. A Government may discharge all its obligations to every member of the community, and yet observe the strictest, economy. The Government are throwing money around wholesale, and they might as well be generous to a needy little State.
– Name an item on which money has been “ thrown around.” This is another of the honorable member’s general statements !
– I am not supposed to be discussing the Budget now, but a proposal to make a special grant to Tasmania.
– No man on the honorable member’s side dare name an item !
– May I proceed with by remarks, seeing that the honorable member asked me to speak. It has been left to a supporter of the Government, which is supposed to be overflowing with generous feelings towards Tasmania, to try to cripple the proposed grant. The Opposition think that the grant is too small, and that at least an addition equal to the leakage proved by the Commission on indisputable evidence to have occurred should be made. I and my honorable friends on this side of the House took the only course open to us to obtain the decision of the Committee as to whether that amount should be added.
– This is an official statement on behalf of the Opposition. The Opposition say that if Tasmania gets an additional £70,000 that should be the end of the matter.
– My honorable friend may place on my remarks what interpretation he thinks fit. My language is clear enough for a schoolboy to understand, but evidently it is not plain to some members of the Ministry. We are in favour of dealing generously with Tasmania. The Government proposal is that during a period of ten years Tasmania shall receive from the Commonwealth £500,000. Let there be no mistake about this Bill. It is not a Bill to make an immediate grant and to afford an early opportunity for revision; it is a proposal to fix the rate of payment for ten years on a sliding scale. The schedule settles the matter for at least ten years ahead. It is idle for any honorable member opposite to say, “ When we get this Bill through we shall try to obtain a further grant.” This Bill will stand against any such endeavour ; honorable members opposite are voting that this arrangement shall stand for ten years.
– That is not correct. Any Government may increase the grant.
– By bringing in a new Bill and repealing this law.
– What nonsense !
– Will the Prime Minister point to any provision in the Bill which would enable him by a vote of the House to increase the schedule.
– Yes, it could be increased any day.
– The right honorable member would be breaking this law if he increased it.
– In that case we should be breaking the Old-age Pensions Act by broadening its operation.
– That is a different matter altogether. This Bill fixes upon a definite amount.
– That will not go down.
– I do not wish it to go down- I am talking up for a State that needs a little help. As the Prime Minister has seen fit to give an unfair and despicable party colouring to this matter-
– The honorable member is not in order in describing as “ despicable “ the remarks of the Prime Minister.
– I withdraw the word, and say that the Prime Minister has sought in a very reprehensible way to give a party colouring to the action that is being taken by us. 1 suggested originally that £70,000 should be added to the proposed grant of £500,000. I told the Prime Minister at the time that this was not a party question, and I offered him the support of every member of the Opposition if he would agree to incorporate in the Bill a proposal to grant Tasmania an additional £70,000. Was that a party action?
– Why did not the honorable member do something for Tasmania when he was in- office?
– The Braddon section was in the way. Why have not the honorable member and his party taken action before? They have been running the Government of Australia for ten years. They have been in power for three years, and have been running the Government of the country for ten. The Prime Minister ought not to have endeavoured to give a party complexion to our proposal. Either he is in favour of adding to the grant the £70,000 due to Tasmania in respect of Customs leakage or he is not. If he is not in favour of it, there is an end to the matter ; but I hope that he will allow us to express our opinion concerning a question of great importance to the little State of the Union. I am quite consistent; for many years I have advocated this help to Tasmania, but it is only of late that Tasmania has been induced to take up the proper attitude, and that our finances have permitted any Government to propose this assistance. The opportunity is open to the Government. An additional £70,000 will not ruin the Commonwealth, but it will be of great help to a State that is very much in need of assistance.
– In view of recent developments, and more particularly having regard to what took place on the division taken a few minutes ago, I feel called upon to give expression to my opinion concerning this Bill. The Prime Minister, in introducing, it, said it was one which treated generously the claims of Tasmania. I consider that it does something more. In looking through the expenditure for the year, I came to the conclusion that this was the one item in the proposals of the Ministry that I should least care to justify before my electors as an expenditure that did not come within the charge of extravagance levelled at us by the Opposition. Is Tasmania the only State in respect of which a leakage of Customs revenue has occurred? Have not’ leakages occurred in the case of other States ?
– No one has said, anything to the contrary.
– Then why should Tasmania be singled out for special treatment ?
– The statistics do not show that the other States have suffered.
– There is no very special evidence to show that Tasmania has. suffered.
– Read the evidence taken before the Commission.
– I am confident that evidence could be obtained showing that other States have also suffered a loss of Customs revenue: While there may be some justification for the assumption that there has been a leakage, I think that the Government proposal errs on the side of liberality rather than parsimony, and I hope that the honorable member for Maranoa will press his amendment to a division. I desire an opportunity to record my vote in opposition to what appears to me to be extravagant expenditure. This grant errs on the side of liberality rather than fair treatment, and, in so far as it does so, it is unfair to. the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. There are many other items of national interest on which the money could be expended with more advantage to the general community. That being so, I desire an opportunity to register my vote against what has long appealed to me as an extravagant appropriation that can least be defended by the Government: and their supporters.
I fail to see, in the legitimate efforts made by Tasmanian representatives to increase the proposed grant, any justification for retaliation or irritation on the part of any section of the House. We are quite pre pared to support the Bill as it stands,or any legitimate amendment within the recommendation of the Royal Commission. Very strong evidence was collected by a representative Commission which investigated the whole financial position of Tasmania resultant upon Federation, and I think that the findings of that Commission fully justify this Bill. After all, the Bill appears to propose only an instalment of assistance to Tasmania, and I fail to see why there should be any uproar; merely because some representatives of Tasmania have endeavoured to increase the grant within the finding of the Commission. Their constituents would have considered that they were neglecting their duty if they had not done so.
– We shall not be extravagant this time.
– I am surprised that the honorable member, with his gene rous instincts, should be proposing to retaliate against honorable members who have taken certain action with, the object of discharging an obvious duty to their constituents. This, clause provides for a grant of£5,00,000; but the Royal Commission found, as a fact, that Tasmania’s loss under theheading of revenue for the nine years ended 1909-10 was , £1,028,997.
– That is on the old basis.
– Quite so. Figures are given in the report showing how this estimate is arrived at. Whilst casually looking through the report, I came upon a passage in the evidence given by Mr. Joshua Thomas Hoskins Whitsitt, M.H.A., which; I thought very convincing. Mr. Whitsitt was asked whether he could give the financial position of the State since Federation, and show whether or not it had suffered by the Union. In reply, he said - and his answer should assist the honorable member for Calare in coming to the conclusion that there is a very strong case in favour of this grant, and the increase proposed by the honorable member for Franklin - that in the year 1900 Tasmania had a net surplus of £478,000. He went on to say,. “ Our trade to-day is £1,000,000 in excess of what it then was, and yet we received from the Commonwealth this year only £225,000.” That in itself, the witness said, was conclusive evidence that Tasmania had suffered. During the same period the expense of the transferred Departments increased, he stated, by something like , £200,000 a year, and during the bookkeeping period, of course that increased expenditure was debited to Tasmania. That State therefore had a re duced revenue under the Federal Tariff, and increased expenditure in the Departments under Federal control.
– The other States had the same.
– But not to the same extent. No State suffered so much through loss of revenue in Customs and Excise as did Tasmania, because Tasmania had a very strong revenue Tariff, deriving most of the money for carrying on the Government from Customs and Excise duties, and the protective incidence of the Federal Tariff abolished a large number of those revenue duties. The witness went on to say that Tasmania had, since Federation, endeavoured to make up its loss of revenue by resorting to direct taxation, which had been increased by 131 per cent. Tasmania, therefore, has not failed to make local efforts to make up for the loss of revenue resulting from Federation. The witness said that in 1900 indirect taxation was 15s. 2d. per head, and was now 32s. 6d. per bead ; whilst the cost of living, if anything, was higher than it used to be. The witness added, “I say advisedly tha,t we have not had a fair deal as the result of Federation.” He made an interesting comparison between what the other States had gained by Federation and what Tasmania had lost, and there is, no doubt, a great deal in what he said. He stated that, in joining the Federal Union, New South Wales made it a part of the bargain that she should have the Federal Capital. That is a very big consideration, and she is now enjoying the benefit of Federal expenditure, beginning at .the rate of £100,000 a year, and that expenditure will, no doubt, go on at an accelerated speed ; so that, from the financial stand-point, New South Wales has taken care to secure some of the assets and advantages of Federation in the shape of the Federal CapitalThe witness pointed out that Victoria had had her share in the shape of Melbourne being the temporary Seat of Government for the first ten years, with the prospect of another five years. Some experts think that the Seat of Government in Victoria has been worth to this State at least £^100,000 a year.
– Do you believe that?
– I arn not sure about it. It is a rough estimate, but, no doubt, having the Seat of Government in Melbourne has been of great financial advantage to Victoria, and there is also the political prestige arising from having the Capital. South Australia has gained the substantial advantage of being relieved of that tremendous burden, the Northern Territory.
– I object to that. It is a munificent gift to the Commonwealth. That State has given to the Commonwealth a nation.
– It may be a nation in years to come, but in the meantime it -comes to us, in the words of a late Premier of Victoria, in the shape of a damnosa hereditas. South Australia has also a prospective share in the transcontinental railway to the West, and in another transcontinental railway which is to connect Adelaide with Darwin. Western Australia has ;had her share in the shape of the fulfilment 0I that dream of the transcontinental railway that is now being gradually .accomplished, connecting the East with the West.
Through the diplomacy and statecraft of the right honorable member for Swan in the Convention, Western Australia also secured a special Tariff operative in her favour for ten years, and little Tasmania has come out with scarcely anything to show except loss. Queensland has had a great advantage in the preservation of its sugar industry, which is costing the country nearly half-a-million sterling. The witness worked it out that the sugar industry of Queensland cost poor little Tasmania £6,000 or £7,000 a year, and that the Western Australian preferential Tariff cost her £5,000 a year, so that she has had to contribute to all these great gains secured by the predominant partners iri the Federation, and comes out at the bottom of the list herself. I join with those who have spoken to-day in .saying that Tasmania is entitled to real sympathy, and, in fact, to substantial assistance from us.
– It is a pity that she did not get a little more sympathy from your party when you were in office.
– When we were in office, we had not at our disposal the extra £18,000,000 which will have been placed at the disposal of the present Government by the end of the present year in excess of the revenue which we had to handle. We had as much as we could do to keep the Postal Department going by scraping and saving in every -way. We had no room for liberality or generosity. The claim put forward on the part of Tasmania is perfectly justifiable. It looks a big bill to foot j but when we consider the merits of the case and the financial evidence given before the Commission, we must recognise that it is perfectly fair. The witness whom I was quoting said, finally, that since 1900 Tasmania had suffered to the tune of £1,114,000 through joining the Federation. There is the sworn evidence as to the financial loss which was found tohave resulted to Tasmania, and there ‘ is abundance of other evidence to justify the finding of the Commission, and warrant *he introduction of the Bill. If Parliament could see its way to increase the amount the money would be well spent, and might, indeed, be worse spent than in assisting little
– I rise to implore the ‘honorable member for Maranoa not to go on with his amendment, because if carried it would be most serious for Tasmania. If it is carried, however, the whole of the responsibility will rest on the shoulders of the honorable member for Franklin. He and the party opposite care not one iota for Tasmania as long as they put the honorable member for Bass and the honorable member for Denison in a hole at the next election. To show the Committee the inconsistency of the honorable member for Franklin, let me quote from a speech made by him in this House in September, 1909, as recorded in Hansard, page 3843. At that time he did not desire a grant at all for Tasmania, nor did he want anything like the amount that the Government are offering at the present time. This is what he said -
Personally, I have objected from the beginning to Tasmania receiving any special contribution from the Commonwealth. We do not want it. I objected to my State coming into the Federation as a pauper. I object to her remaining as a pauper. But I do make this claim. It has been admitted that there is a leakage, estimated by the late Treasurer- of Tasmania at ^40,000 a year.
Yet we find him now jeopardizing the proposed contribution to Tasmania simply to put the members on this side in a hole.
– I will withdraw my amendment now.
– I am, glad to hear the honorable member say so. Honorable members opposite used to state that we were caucus-ridden, as their press is continually saying, and that we were afraid to vote against our Government at a critical stage. Were we not found to-day voting with the honorable member, because we wanted to show the electors that we wish to do the best we can for Tasmania, and deprive honorable members opposite of the electioneering cry that they thought they would be able to use in that State against us?
.- I resent the accusation of the honorable member for Denison, and am satisfied to let my record stand against his assertions. At the time the honorable member for Franklin made the speech which the honorable member for Denison has just quoted from Hansard, the claim of Tasmania was always based on leakage, and there was no desire on her part to come to this Parliament as a necessitous State, and ask for relief under section 96 of the Constitution. All that has been altered. A Royal Commission has since been appointed, and has inquired, not only into the leakage question, but into Tasmania’s financial position generally. They found that Tasmania had made great sacrifices, and recommended the payment to her of £900,000, of which sum only £70,000 was put down on the score of leakage. When honorable members remember that fact, they will see that there is nothing in the quotation which the honorable member for Denison has made.
– There is nothing in it from the point of view of the intention with which the honorable member for Denison made the quotation. He tried to show that the honorable member for Franklin did not want this money for Tasmania. I think that the honorable member fo/ Maranoa and the honorable member for Calare have rather rushed into this matter without really considering what is at issue. They used the word “ extravagance,” but it is not extravagance for a man. to pay. his debts. If Tasmania, which has followed a certain procedure in coming to this Parliament under section 96, is adjudged by this Parliament to be entitled to so much money, she has a right to the money. If it is going to pinch any other State to provide the money, that is no affair of the Government. They have to pay the debt which is due by the Commonwealth. 1 am sure the honorable member for Calare cannot have given this sub- .ject the attention which he usually gives to matters upon which he addresses this Chamber, because when he stood up he knew nothing about the evidence upon which the Commission made its recommendation. I appeal to him to look at the matter impartially. The question is not one into which any heat should be imported. The Minister himself has declared it to be a non-party matter.
– Was not the division a party one?
– No. The honorable members for Bass, Denison, and Cook voted with us.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I merely desire to say, in reply to the interjection, that, as far as I know, every man voted according to his conviction.
– Having listened to the honorable members for Denison and Wilmot, I feel that I have achieved my purpose. The amendment wasa party move by the Opposition to put the honorable members for Denison and Bassin a queer position. It was hoped that they would vote against the amendment, so that afterwards they could be charged from the public platforms of Tasmania with having done so. I now ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Denison sought to give a party complexion to the debate, and berated another representative of the State for what he did some years ago. He threatened to tell the people of Tasmania of the miserably mean proposal of the honorable member for Franklin, but in doing so he may as well explain that that proposal meant a grant to the State of , £40,000 a year in perpetuity.
– That is an afterthought. There is nothing in Hansard about in perpetuity.
– The grant of £40,000 was proposed without limitation. Had the proposal been carried into effect, £140,000 would have already been paid, and during the ten years for which grants will be made under this Bill, Tasmania would have received under the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin £400,000, or £520,000 by the end of the period ; that is, £20,000 more than she will be given by this Government. But there was to be no end to the grant proposed by the honorable member for Franklin.
– An attempt has been made, quite unnecessarily, by the honorable members for Bass and Denison, to show that they have been badly treated. But what is the position? I was a member of a Commission, on which all the States were represented, which, having inquired into the operation of the Customs law upon the finances of Tasmania, ascertained that she had lost £70,000 by Customs leakage. I believe that the amount was from £20,000 to £25,000, but the Commission agreed to make a unanimous report. The recommendation of the Commission was that, in view of the financial situation of Tasmania, she should be granted by the Commonwealth £500,000, including this £70,000. The Government, however, propose to grant only £500,000. I did not speak on the second reading, because I was desirous that the Bill should get into Comrnittee, but will any one say, unless with the basest motives, that I had not the right to test the feeling of honorable members as to whether the grant should not be increased? As for the suggestion that the amendment was moved to put the honorable members for Bass and Denison in a hole-
– The honorable member is not discussing the clause.
– I am replying to remarks that have been made since the division on my amendment was taken.
– Those remarks were made on an amendment which has been withdrawn.
– Then I can only say that my amendment had no party object, and I fail to see how any honorable member could be injured by being asked to vote on it according to his conscience.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Schedule, preamble, and title agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Electoral Act - Report, with Maps, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions.
Ordered to be printed.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill covers much the same ground as is covered by the Seamen’s Compensation Act, although, unfortunately, limitations have been imposed by the High Court which prevent the application of that measure to all the shipping in Commonwealth waters. Fortunately, there will be no limitation on the operation of this measure. It provides for the payment of compensation to all workmen, directly, and in some cases indirectly, employed by the Commonwealth who may be injured in the course of, or by reason of, their employment, but it will not apply to “outworkers,” i.e., those who do work for the Commonwealth in their own homes or in workshops. Legislation of this kind is distinctly modern, and twenty years ago was scouted as outrageous, and spoken of as likely to create financial embarrassment, and to ruin industries. The fear of it, however, has been allayed by its operation in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and France. I think that all the States, with the exception of Victoria, have Workmen’s Compensation Acts covering private employment, though I do not know whether any of them has an Act covering public employment.
– I think that Queensland has.
– That is a logical extension of the principle.
– I advocated it a couple of years ago.
– I had the honour of introducing into the Queensland Parliament the first Bill dealing with the subject. It passed its second reading in 1899, and again in 1900. At that time, it was impossible to pass the legislation, but it has been taken up by the Parliament since and made law. This Bill will come into operation by proclamation. Perhaps the principal definition is that of “ workman,” which is as follows - “Workman” means any person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with the Commonwealth, whether by way of manual labour, clerical work, or otherwise, and whether the contract is expressed or implied, is oral or in writing, but does not include -
– What is an “ outworker “ ?
– “Outworker” is defined as follows - “ Outworker “ means a person to whom articles or materials are given out to be made up, cleaned, washed, altered, ornamented, finished, or repaired, or adapted for sale, in his own home or on other premises not under the control or management of the Commonwealth.
If a person is engaged in work absolutely away from the control of the Commonwealth, or any officer of the Commonwealth, he naturally would nor come under the ordinary definition of a “ workman.”
– Does the definition of “Workman” include all those in the Clerical Division?
– It includes all those who have “ entered into or worked under a contract of service or apprenticeship “ ; and that means every officer of the Public Service, in Parliament and outside of it. I say quite frankly that I am not at all wedded, and I do not think the Government are, to the elimination of public officers who receive above£500 a year.
– Such an elimination would be pretty hard on men employed in the Northern Territory.
– I have both general and particular reasons for the position which I am taking up. The general impression is that, when a man is earning. £500 a year or over, he ought to be able to provide for himself ; but this is a Workmen’s Compensation Bill ; and if a person earning£500 a year or over is injured, so that he is not able to continue his employment, it is not, in. my opinion, logical to deprive him of rights enjoyed by a man who is earning £499 a year.
– Then why is there this limitation in the Bill ?
– For the reason that, when there is doubt, it is better to have a provision of the kind, so that there may be discussion on it. As I have said, I regard the limitation as logically unsound, and, therefore, I take this early opportunity to mention the matter.
– Are there any workmen under the Commonwealth receiving £500 a year and over?
– The whole Public Service is embraced by the Bill.
– Are there any men employed by the Commonwealth who come under the definition of “ Workmen,” and who are receiving £500 a year and over?
– I think so, and I see no reason why they should not get compensation if they are disabled and are unable to continue their work. In addition to “outworkers,” the Naval and Military Forces are also excluded, as more fitting for treatment in another measure.
– According to clause 6, if the Commonwealth sub-let a contract, they still remain responsible.
– We cannot shirk our responsibility by simply sub-letting a contract; we must take care that any person employed, directly or indirectly, by us receives compensation.
– Does that cover the whole of the contracts that the Commonwealth may enter into?
– So far as is practicable, yes.
– TheGovernmentare adoptingthe principle of the Queensland Workmen’sCompensation Act ?
– Yes ; we must protect workmen against what is called the “ contractingout “ principle. Our first trouble was in this regard, and the workmen must be protected if the Commonwealth is originally responsible for the work. It has been a debatable question whether compensation should be paid during the first week of injury;and, in my opinion, it is a salutary principle that compensation should not be paid unless the injury ex- tends over one week.
– Suppose a man gets his finger burst?
– It is not necessary, in my opinion, that compensation should be paid in such case, if the injury does not extend over a week. The Bill isto provide for injuries of a serious character, and, particularly, to protect the dependents of men who may come by their death when performing their duties. Most of the ordinary benefit societies do not pay until after the third day ; and in a large measure of this kind I think it is not advisableto pay under a week; in other words, we consider temporary injuries as incidental to the carrying out of the work, and as not imposing any great burden.
– Does this Bill cover temporary employés?
– Yes,unless they work entirely in theirown workshops and beyond the controlof the Commonwealth. Perhaps the day is past when reasons may be re-submitted for proposing legislation of this kind ; and I feel sure that the Bill will pass in both Houses. I should like to quote the statement made by the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr.. Asquith. I used this quotation in the Queensland Parliament in 1899, when Mr. Asquith was not Prime Minister, and did not look like ever occupying the position. However, Mr. Asquith, dealing with what he called the fundamental principle of such legislation, said -
When a person, onhis own responsibility and for his own profit, sets in motion agencies which create risks forothers, he ought to be civilly responsible for the consequences of his own act.
That statement, like Mr. Asquith himself, isclear cut.
– I believe this whole ground could be coveredby a system of insurance without this Bill - I mean by a Commonwealth insurance.
– Those who believe in insurance believein it with all their might, but, personally, Ibelieve in workmen’s compensation.
– The Commonwealth mightputaside a certain amount every year, and thus create a fund for the purpose.
– Thehonorable member for Mernda is a financier, tout I ; cannot for the life of me seetheutility of the suggestionhe has made.
– That is what insurance companies do.
– Insurance companies have to do that to keep themselves solvent, because they cannot tell from year toyear, except from actual experience, whattheir obligations may be.
– The Commonwealth is in the same position.
– Governments, asI understand them, provide moneys by annual appropriation ; they do not raise more revenue from the people in one yearthan is required for that particular year.
– I wish that was so !
– To adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Mernda would really defeat the principle of appropriation and the control of the public purse. However, I do not desire to be driven away from the main issue by the interjection of the honorable member for Angas.
– This Bill must be based on outside insurance, and I do not see why we should not insure ourselves.
– That raises the vexed question of why we do not insure our own properties.
– It is very often done.
– It raisesthe question of why weshould not have a grand insurance scheme to insure our own property. The answer is that we think we can meet thecase without all that machinery - without employing public servants in useless work. Why should wenot meet our obligations annually as they arise ?
– That is not an answer to thequestion raised ; it is debatable whether we should, or shouldnot, insure our properties.
– There are a number of peopleoutside andinside Parliament who, whenever the State makes a proposal, immediately think that much machinery should be created, and numbers of people employed to do useless work. That is not my view ; I think the fewer people so employed the better it is for the community, because they entail a double loss, inasmuch as they must be withdrawn from other useful occupations. The honorable member for Parramatta inquired why members of the Defence Forces were excluded from the provisions of the Bill. I would remind him that under the Defence Act power is taken to provide relief for members of the Defence Forces injured while on duty.
– I know that; but somehow nothing has yet been done for then?.
– Regulations have been framed under the Act.
– Regulations have been framed, and I think that payments have been made under them. Another fundamental principle of all Workmen’s Compensation Acts is that claims shall not be made under more than one Act. That, I think, is a reasonable principle to lay down. Generally speaking, workmen may claim compensation at common law or under an Employers’ Liability Act, and,_ in some instances, under mining Acts. The honorable member for Darling Downs and other lawyers in the House must be well aware, however, of the difficulty that has been experienced in recovering damages under Compensation Acts. The principle that should underlie Compensation Acts is that as soon as the accident in respect to which the claim is made is proved payment should be made. At common law, in order to establish a claim for compensation, it is necessary to prove that an agent of the employer had done something that he ought not to have done or had left undone something that he ought to have done, with the result that the accident had happened. The same remark will apply to claims made under Employers Liability Acts. My experience ;of various Mining Acts under which compensation is obtainable was that in every instance proof had to be given, in support of a claim for compensation, that either the employers or their agents had failed to perform their duties, and that in consequence of that failure the accident had occurred. The result of that was that in nine cases out of ten, where damages should really have been paid, the companies went from Court to Court in fight ing the claim., and that in the end the plaintiff was defeated. Let me mention one celebrated case in Queensland; that of a man named Pilmer, who was killed while working in a shaft, and whose widow claimed damages. The case was tried at Gympie before Acting Judge McGregor, who, having heard all the facts, gave judgment for £1,250 damages. The defendant company appealed to the Full Court, and the judgment of the lower Court was set aside on a point of law. The case was then taken to the doors of the Privy Council, and was finally settled by the defendant company electing to pay to the widow a certain sum rather than contest the case before the Privy Council. Do honorable members think that any ordinary workman could successfully prosecute a claim for damages where such a costly legal procedure had to be followed? In the circumstances, therefore, it seems to me that it is only fair that payment should be made on proof that the accident, in respect of which the claim is made, has, to use the words of the Bill, arisen out of and in the course of the workman’semployment. I have expressed the opinion when not occupying a responsible position that compensation should be paid to any man who meets with an accident in the course of his ordinary employment. I have even gone further, and have said that a man who injures himself while in the employ of another should receive compensation from his employer on the ground that an industry ought to carry the risks* that attach to it. If all are treated alike no injustice can be done. It is in the interests of the nation as a whole that the dependents of those who are injured, and especially of those who lose their lives while following their usual employment, should be provided for in all circumstances. We have inserted in the Bill a proviso that a workman shall not be entitled to recover compensation, both independently of and also under this Act. If he chooses to claim compensation under an Employers’ Liability Act or at common law he may do so, but he may not seek compensation in more than one way. Such a provision is, I think, both fair and necessary. We also provide that compensation shall not be paid under thi* Bill where an accident arises through the serious and wilful misconduct of the. workman. This is a much-debated question. I should be inclined to say that if the accident arose solely from the wilful and serious misconduct of the workman compensation ought not to be paid.
– The general interpretation of the law has been in favour of the workmen.
– I have already expressed the opinion that compensation should follow in every case as soon as the accident forming the basis of the claim is proved. Wiser men than I am, however, have said that if a person, because of some mistaken idea that he should do a certain thing, kills himself, those dependent upon him should suffer the consequence.
– If he disregards repeated warnings.
– That gives rise to the more subtle question as to why an employer should keep about his works a person of that kind. Why should he not be put off before he meets with an accident ?
– The employer may not find out what manner of man he is until the accident actually happens.
– Why should not the employer discover that the man is not in a condition to be employed in a dangerous place ?
– Some employers and departmental officers hold that every accident is the fault of the employe.
– That is due to the fact that, after all, only a few years have elapsed since working men were supposed to have no rights. Fifty years ago, a proposal of this kind would have been viewed with apprehension, if not with horror. In years gone by, laws were framed on the basis of protecting capital and industry, and allowing the workman to take care of himself. That, however, is not the view of civilised Governments in these days, and therefore, under the Workmen’s ‘Compensation Acts, it is, so to speak, a matter cf indifference whether the boss thinks that the accident in respect of which a claim is made was due to the fault of the workman or not. Under this Bill, we provide that :i claim shall be disallowed if it is proved that the injury is attributable to the serious and wilful misconduct of the workman.
– The man who will not be warned ought to be sacked.
– Even the most competent man sometimes thinks there is no danger in doing a certain thing.
– That is so, and to their credit be it said the men who meet with accidents are generally doing something of a daring character in the interests of the employer.
– And often whilst meeting a case of emergency.
– Yes ; very frequently men run the risk of personal injury in the interests of their employers. I am reminded of a case which is now before the Queensland Courts. A competent engineer whom I knew very well went down a shaft with a view of examining a working part of the pump, and was looking up at it when the cage descended and killed him. His widow brought an action for damages against the company, which contended that it was no part of the deceased’s duty to look up the shaft as he was doing when he met his death. This shows the necessity of guarding against any possible loophole. Judging by the casual remarks made by the presiding Judge, he seems to hold the view that it was the duty of the engineer, if he saw anything going amiss with the engineering work of the mine, to look into it ; but it is just possible that the case may go against the plaintiff, although at the time the man was engaged in looking after the reasonable safety of the shaft.
– In the interests of his employers.
– Quite so. In the circumstances, therefore, it seems to me that there should be no restriction in this regard - that if a person is bond fide injured while in our employ compensation should follow as a matter of course.
– Less injustice is likely to be done under such a law.
– And there will be 110 law costs. Speaking generally, more -is usually paid by way of law costs than is paid as compensation. Under this Bill, we provide that in the case of the death of an employe three years’ wages, or a sum not exceeding £500, and not less than £200, shall be paid. Thus, if the workman was getting £150 a year, the amount paid would be £450. If he was getting only £50 a year, compensation to the extent of £200 would be paid.
– But if a workman were getting £400 a year?
– In that case only £500 would be paid, because that is the maxi mum. Those payments apply, of course where there are dependents. If there ar no dependents, the Commonwealth will see that the cost of medical attendance and funeral expenses are paid to areasonable amount. Where there is a dispute as to the amount of compensation, the question, if not settled by agreement, is to be settled by arbitration. The Bill refers to proceedings in the County Court. In Queensland, I think, those Courts are called District Courts.
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act County Courts include District Courts.
– Then that is all right. Clause 7 provides -
Where the injury for which compensation is payable under this Act was caused under circumstances creating a legal liability in some person other than the Commonwealth to pay damages in respect thereof -
The whole question of giving notice, which caused a good deal of trouble in the Old Country, arises here. Sometimes a person working away from his own home was killed and buried before any one who took an interest in him turned up, and notice of the accident was not given. We provide in this Bill that notice of the accident must be given as soon as practicable after it has happened, and that the claim for compensation shall be made within six months of the occurrence of the accident, or, in case of death, within six months after the news of the death has been received by the claimant. Therefore, if no news of the death reaches the person who is entitled to receive the money for some time, he has still six months in which to put in the claim. Liberal allowance is made in case of defects or inaccuracies in the notice of accident, and also where claims cannot be made in the specified time. The Bill is practically on the lines of the Seamen’s Compensation Bill, but is much wider in its scope. Clause 8 deals with the appointment of medical referees, and pro vides that one who has been employed as , a medical practitionerin connexion with any case shall not act as a medical referee in that case. The Bill will involve a considerable expenditure to the Commonwealth - no one can calculate how much - but I am not at all alarmed at the amount it will cost. That the principle is a right one I have not the shadow of a doubt. The matter ought to be dealt with thissession. Indeed, the Bill ought to have been Statute law before, and I rather blame myself thatwe have not dealt with it earlier.
– It is only recently that the Government have begun to employ large bodies of workmen on railway works, &c.
– Yes, but this Bill includes the public servants also. As regards employés in the Postal Department, we have in nearly every instance during my term of office, wherethere was a bonâ fide case of accident, given reasonable compensation in accordance with the practice obtaining in the several States. I do not think there is any law authorizing the payment, and if the Auditor-General pulled me up, I am not sure that I would have a very good case. It is far better for Parliament to put in. Statute form what it proposes to do, and then every employé will know where he is. I want honorable members to understand that it is not only the permanent, but the casual employés that come under thismeasure, with the limitations that I have stated. Every employe who is under direct, or indirect, authority of the Government or its agent comes under the measure, but not persons who have taken Commonwealth work and carry it out in their own workshops or homes.
– Will it apply to temporary hands paid by the day?
– Yes, certainly. I should say that if a workman suffers injury bonâ fide, or loses his life in. the first hour of his employment, he, in the first case, or his dependents, in the second, should receive as full compensation as though he had worked for twenty years. I do not anticipate any serious injury or danger to the Commonwealth on account of that provision. If it were absent, there would be an inducement to the employer to hurry away workmen that were more prone to suffer accident than others from one place to another. I commend the Bill to the House, and shall be glad of any suggestions for improving it. I think the pro- posal to pay from £200 to £500 is reasonable. At any rate, it will provide a means of softening the blow that may fall, and, unfortunately, does fall, on the widows and orphans. In the case of permanent injury there is a considerable payment that will enable the sufferers to live in comparative comfort for probably the remainder of their lives. There is in the Bill a provision by which a person who is permanently injured, or receives such injuries as will prevent him from following his usual employment, can receive from the Government a lump sum. His weekly payment for injury can be commuted into a lump sum that will enable him, perhaps, to take up some business and make a living in another way. That is a convenient method of benefiting, both parties in the circumstances. I feel sure that this Bill will fill a gap in our social legislation. I tell honorable members opposite who prefer an insurance scheme that I sympathize with them, but I am totally against them…
– I only made the suggestion, as the whole thing is based on insurance.
– The contribution principle has been argued in all Parliaments.
– I mean that all these schemes are based on insurance, and I do not see why we should not do the insurance direct, without litigation. There must be some litigation under this Bill.
– I hope there will be very little. We must always discover whether the action is bond fide. The same principle obtains in the case of insurance. I am a member of a world-wide friendly society. We are all brothers and sisters in the organization, but we have to examine the claims put in by our members, and, unfortunately, we have to reject some. Under any scheme we could only pay according to certain rules; otherwise, the scheme would break down.
– I am not criticising the Bill; I think it is a good one.
– I did not regard the honorable member’s suggestion as antagonistic; but I think the way we have chosen is the more simple and economical, and I am sure it is the way by which those who bond fide suffer will get the quickest and surest relief. The moment you make the matter an insurance scheme, or delegate your duties as a Government to others, from that moment it becomes more difficult for the sufferers to get justice. The most un fortunate feature of Acts providing for the payment of damages as a tort or otherwise has been that many who are legally entitled to compensation are prevented from getting it, and widows and orphans have been allowed to go without what is their just due, simply because they have not the means of legally enforcing their claims.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an. appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for invalid and oldage pensions.
– How much?
– About £5,000,000. The invalid and old-age pensions expenditure is now approaching £2,250,000.
– The Treasurer is only asking for authority to place the money in the Trust Fund.
– This is a proposal for sanctioning the making of a big bag in which moneys can be placed to meet the annual expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions. No question of policy is involved, nor is any appropriation or taxation provided for.
– - Is there any requirement of the law making it imperative to pay into the Trust Fund all the money needed for invalid and. old-age pensions?
– Then why is it being provided for, especially at this period of the financial year ? I can understand the Treasurer, at the end of the financial year, sweeping all his surplus money into the Trust Fund, so that the States may not get any of it, but I do not know why it should be done at this period.
– Although the financial year is not far advanced, we are well into the session.
– How much had the right honorable gentleman at the beginning of the year?
– Nearly £1,200,000, but the whole of it has been appropriated for this year. I ask the Committee to affirm the expediency of bringing in a Bill to create a big enough purse to hold any surplus revenue available for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions. We wish to create a Trust Account which will take all the money available under any circumstances.
.- I understand the object of the Treasurer, who is following a system which he found already established; but it is rather a farce to appropriate moneys for a Trust Fund to cover the expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions for a period of two er three years. In principle the Treasurer might as well ask for authority to pay £50,000,000 to a Trust Account. I see no reason for having a Trust Account for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions, because that is such a straightforward business. I think that the GovernorGeneral can authorize the payment of the money without a special appropriation, but if that is not so, the Act could easily be amended to provide for it. The procedure now proposed is intended for the creation of a Trust Account into which may be paid any surplus remaining at the end of the financial year, so that, under section 94 of the Constitution, the money will, without doubt, belong to the Commonwealth. This is the authorization of an appropriation to extend over a long period. The ordinary man cannot understand such a procedure, and naturally asks why an appropriation for more than one year should be authorized. I do not like this system, because of the make-believe about it. I think that only the amount required for the financial year should be appropriated. When 1 was in office, £3,000,000 was appropriated, and now the Treasurer speaks of appropriating £5,000,000. We know exactly what must be spent each year on invalid and old-age pensions. In my opinion,this procedure is unbusiness-like. It seems unnecessary to ask for power to appropriate large sums which we shall not need, either this year or next.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs) [5.39I -Section 53 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act says that the Minister shall pay pensions out of moneys to be from time to time appropriated by Parliament for the purpose. Before the Treasurer can pay pensions, there must be an appropriation.
– By means of the Estimates.
– The amount can be put on the Estimates. The procedure now being followed arose out of the financial obligations imposed on the Commonwealth, by the Constitution. We wished to take control of £1,500,000 which we could accumulate, and, in order that the money might be “ expenditure “ within the meaning of the Constitution, and not money which could be claimed by the States, we created a Trust Fund, into which it was paid. Having been concerned in the establishment of this procedure, I am still in favour of it. What the right honorable member for Swan asks is whether it is advisable to make an appropriation much larger than will cover the sum you require for the year to pay into the Trust Fund, or so large that Parliament may not be asked to review the appropriation for perhaps two years. Clearly the Treasurer will not have a surplus of £2,500,000 at the end of this financial year, and I doubt whether, on his own showing, he will have any surplus. Indeed, it seems clear that he will not. My suggestion is that he should provide for the appropriation covering the surplus he is likely to have. The sum of £5,000,000 would cover two years’ appropriation.
– What about £3,000,000?
– I should say that that would be enough.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs has rightly explained the origin of the procedure. While the honorable member for Darling Downs was in office, there was created a Trust Fund for the purposes of the Navy and for old-age pensions.
– Chiefly old-age pensions.
– That is the only way, so far as I know,’ in which this Parliament could have accumulated any funds for those or other purposes. The trouble was not got rid of under the amendment of the Constitution; and I think the lawyers are very much in doubt whether we made the necessary amendment to prevent the balances still going over. Section 97 of the Constitution provides that the Parliament may provide for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenue ; and if there is an unexpended balance on the 30th June, it may not be ours at all, unless we have a Trust Fund into which it may be placed by the authority of this Parliament, and this Parliament only. I do not see why Parliament should hesitate to make provision for a Trust Fund into which all balances may be paid. The honorable member for Darling Downs objects to the sum of £5,000,000, and I shall be glad to meet him by suggesting £3,000,000 as not excessive. I do not agree with his reasoning that the Trust Fund will not come up for consideration next session, because it may come up at any time when the Treasurer thinks he can make use of it. Whenever a Trust Fund appropriation is brought under consideration, there is always a kind of suspicion as to what the meaning of a Trust Fund is. As a matter of fact, it is only providing a bag into which unexpended balances may be placed so that they will not go elsewhere, but remain with the Commonwealth.
– The Prime Minister has not yet told us why he desires to create this Trust Fund at this early period of the year. I can well understand his sweeping all the balances into a Trust Fund to save them at the end of the year, but I do not know why he desires to create a Trust Fund for that purpose during the currency of the year. I do not understand the multiplication of Trust Funds when there is no necessity. When money is placed in a Trust Fund, it is regarded as spent, though not a penny has been spent in some cases ; and the result is that those moneys pass beyond the control and purview of Parliament. Those funds could be manipulated by anybody.
– No, no ; do not say that !
– I shall show the Prime Minister how. Such funds could, I say, be manipulated by any Government in a most unfair way. For instance, over twelve months ago, we placed the substantial sum of £600,000 in a Trust Fund for the purposes of the Post Office, and during the year only about £170,000 was spent. So far as we are concerned, however, it is all spent, and we know neither any of the details of the spending nor whether the money has been spent at all.
– The facts are all shown in the Budget statement.
– What is to stop the Treasurer from getting a vote of this kind, and not spending it for a year or two, and afterwards spending it when it suits his purpose?
– I can do nothing of the kind.
– But the Treasurer can do so; he is not tied to spending the money at any time, but may keep the vote for seven years, and then spend it.
– How can that be when a Parliament lasts only for three years.
– It all depends on the period for which the Trust Fund is set up ; indeed, I see nothing to prevent the Government keeping such a Fund for ten years.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that this House could not take moneys out of a Trust Fund?
– Of course it could, but the House does not know anything about them.
– We cannot admit that.
– How many honorable members know that only £170,000 out of the £600,000 in the Fund to which Ihave referred has been spent.
– Where is it?
– It is in the Trust Fund.
– All the facts are before honorable members.
– But there are no details of any kind, and there will not be. The honorable member can keep money there for another five years, if he remains in office, and then spend it; and thus we lose altogether control over it. Any Government that desired to manipulate the moneys for political purposes could do so with the greatest readiness. I am informed by the honorable member for Swan that on the 1st July, 1912, we had voted I do not know how many millions for old-age pensions, and there remained unspent £1,153,000 at the beginning of the year.
– There are appropriations for this year.
– They have to be re-appropriated - the moneys having been spent, we are re-appropriating them.
– We are going to appropriate additional moneys.
– We are going through the anomaly of re-appropriating these moneys.
– That is all against the honorable member’s own statement. The money is being appropriated for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions.
– That is so.
– And it cannot be expended otherwise.
– But that does not apply to the Post Office vote.
– Yes, it does.
– It is not in the Estimates this year.
– It is in the Trust Fund for expenditure sanctioned by Parliament.
– I should like the honorable member to point out where it is re-appropriated.
– All in good time.
– I have searched the Estimates, and I cannot find any trace ofit.
– I think it was so stated in my Financial Statement, too.
– I do not think that the honorable member will find that that is so.
– Every work that is not done is accounted for in the AuditorGeneral’s report.
– The AuditorGeneral tells us all about these matters about a couple of years after the money has been spent, and I am told that he does not get the Government accounts as he used to do.
– That is not so.
– The AuditorGeneral has complained twice that he cannot get the accounts from the Government.
– Not to me.
– It is so stated in his last two reports. He says that his audit is rendered practically useless, because he cannot get the accounts in time.
– He has not complained to me.
– If the Opposition had done its duty, it would have censured the Government long ago on those reports.
– Now that the honorable member has said that, I hope he will go further.
– Why not censure the Government ?
– Because we cannot alter a vote in this House in any way, and I am doing what I can now.
– I think the honorable member ought to go further.
– I shall go as far as the Prime Minister desires. The Auditor-General has animadverted on the way the accounts are presented, and he has declared that his audit is not as effective as it ought to be, because of the late period at which the accounts are submitted. He points out, for the first time, to this Government, that he has found it impossible to report before the session has ended, and that, therefore, his report is not nearly so effective as it ought to be by reason of the failure of the Government to render the accounts earlier.
– That statement should be followed up by a quotation.
– I shall find the quotation if the Prime Minister disputes what I say.
– I read it only two days ago.
– Quite so; I also have read it.
– No complaint has reached me, to my knowledge.
– Does the Prime Minister not get the Auditor-General’s report?
– He will find what I have said set out there in black and white; and, in my judgment, the positionis a little serious.
– I should like the honorable member to raise the question.
– I wish I had the Auditor-General’s report with me now.
– I shall go and get it.
– I have to deal with a Deputy Leader of an Opposition who talks about the funds being manipulated.
– I never said that the funds had been manipulated. I said that the Government could, if they so desired, under the present Trust Fund arrangements, manipulate the spending of the funds.
– That is just the same.
– What I mean is that the Government may defer the spending of the money until it suits them to spend it.
– That is not manipulation.
– The honorable member suggests that this may extend over five years, while a Parliament only lives for three years.
– The honorable member is only pointing out the anomaly that arises under those Trust Fund arrangements - a Government which lives for only three years may create a Trust Fund which exists for thirteen years.
– The honorable member would be glad of a Trust Fund if he happened to come into power.
– I am not saying that I should not. The late Government left a deficit of £500,000, but we made financial arrangements which gave £3,000,000 to clear that deficit off.
– The honorable member denied that the other day.
– I am referring to the deficit of half-a-million on which the Prime Minister and the Government are constantly harping. Their trouble seems to be that, havinga deficit of £500,000, we did not proceed to tax the people of thecountry, in order to pay off the deficit, although we were making arrangements whichultimatelygave the present Government £3,000,000 for the purpose. There was never a more absurd contentionthan that submitted by the Government in reference to this deficit. We did leave a deficit, and it would have been a criminal act on the part of any Government to impose additional taxation for its liquidation, when arrangements were being made with the States to raise £3,000,000 for the purpose.
– The late Government wished to float a loan.
– I am not talking about a loan, but about the financial arrangements with the States. May 1 remind the Minister of External Affairs that this year the Government are raising £750,000 of loan money ? While they are building Commonwealth works in Australia out of revenue, they are erecting the High Commissioner’s Office, in London, out of loan money, and are going to buy the land for the Federal Capital out of loan money. Honorable members will find in the Estimates items on which interest is payable, amounting altogether to £750,000. This non-borrowing Government provides in the Estimates this year for interest payments on sums amounting to£750,000.
– £400,000 in respect of the London site, and the rest in respect of a transferred South Australian debt.
– The Government arealso going to pay for the transcontinental railway out of borrowedmoney.
– Quite so; and they aregoing to buythe land forthe FederalCapital out of loan account.
-Doesthe honorable member suggestthat we should not proceed withthe Federal Capital?
– Thehonorable member is becoming so callousthat he does not realize how ridiculous he is making him self. I know that it is rather rough on my honorablef riends opposite, but I invite them to look at the Loan Bill passed by therm, under which authority is given them to raise £2,600,000. Let us get back to the Auditor-General’s report. Here is what he says in his report on the accounts for the year ended 30th June, 1910-
The statementofthe Honorable the Treasurer relating to the accounts for the year 1909-10 was received by me, complete, this 10th day of March, 1911.
So that nearly ten months elapsed from the close of the financial year before the Audi- tor-General received theaccounts complete -
The accounts had been fully audited, and my report is now made thereon, supplemented by further information relating to the public accounts. The late receipt of the Statement and Accounts made it impossible for my report to be prepared and presented to Parliamentprior to the close of the recent session.
– What of that? It was theGovernment’s first year ofoffice.
– Butthe AuditorGeneral made the same complaintin respectof the following year.In this report, he wenton to say -
My previouseight annual reports had all been submitted for the information of Parliament in the first instance.
In other words, every previous Treasurer had let him have the accounts in time to report while the House was in session -
In the present case it becomes my duty, in accordance with the provisions of section No. 53 (2) of the Audit Acts to transmit to the Treasurer, with ‘the view to publication, a copy of the statement and report prior to submitting the same to Parliament.
– They were the accounts of the Fusion Government.
– I do not know that that excuses my right honorable friend. He will findthe samecomplaint made by the Auditor-General in respect of theaccounts for the succeeding year. My recollection isthat the Auditor-General complains that his report in respect of the accounts for the year 1910-11 is of very little valueowing tothelate period in Which itwasissued astheresult ofthe delay in forwarding to him the complete accounts. That is what hesaysofthe first two years’ accounts , of this reform Government.
– During the financial year 1909-10 we were only two months in office.
– And when the right honorablegentlemansubmittedthose accounts to the Auditor-General he had been in office for eleven months. Here is a further statement by the Auditor-General in respect of the accounts for the succeeding year. My right honorable friend should not stir this matter up.
– Do not misunderstand me. I desire the honorable member to stir up. every financial matter. It will be found that they all tell in my favour. I wish him to let the public know of every financial matter that he considers to be doubtful.
– it is a question, not of doubt, but of what ought to be done to keep the accounts in proper order. In his report for the financial year 1910-11 the Auditor-General stated that (he first instalment of the statement was received in the middle of March of the succeeding year, but the complete accounts were not received by him until 30th April, 1912. He continues -
The first instalment of the statement was received in the middle of March, but the accounts generally had been fully audited, so far as that was possible, in anticipation of the receipt of the statement. As was the case in the previous year, the Treasury statement came to hand too late for submission to Parliament with my report during last session, and, as required by the provisions of the Audit Acts, the statement and report are transmitted to the Treasurer for publication in the Commonwealth Gazette.
Instead of being presented to the House, as they ought to have been, the AuditorGeneral was forced to publish them in the Gazette after Parliament had gone into recess, and could take no action upon his report. The report continues -
The late receipt of the Treasury accounts, and the consequent delay in the presentation of this report, has rendered much of the subjectmatter of the latter of less public interest than it might otherwise have possessed.
That is strong language for a cautious, prudent Auditor-General, who has, at all times, to pick and choose his words, to use in regard to the presentation of the public accounts and their conduct by the Treasury officials. He went on to say that in consequence of the late receipt of these accounts, and to make his report of use to the House, he had to bring it up to a later date than the 30th June, 1911, the end of the period with which the report is required to deal. Among the accounts referred to are those respecting the position of the Australian notes issue, the gold reserve, the destruction of redeemed and spoilt notes and paper, and so forth.
– That is an unfortunate reference.
– I know nothing about that. The Auditor-General states that for the last two years the accounts have been presented to him at such a late period as to render his report less effective than it ought to be.
– Not less effective, but less interesting.
– It is the same thing; if he does not say it, I will say it for him. The Auditor- General means to say that in consequence of this delay the accounts do not come to the Parliament, and we, therefore, lose our control of them.
– Do not infer that the Auditor- General is not performing his work effectively.
– I do not. The Auditor- General says that his remarks are of less interest than they would have been had it been possible to prepare his report in time for submission to Parliament. There is nothing to prevent the Government from asking the House to multiply these Trust Funds - paying into then* money which is then regarded as spent, but. which may not be spent for some years- later. Our accounts, therefore, are moreor less in confusion, and we lose control in that way of our public moneys. Indeed some of them may be lost altogether if we do not specially hunt them up. The multiplication of Trust Funds where there is no occasion to do so is an unhealthy practice. I see no necessity for creating Trust Funds during the currency of the year for old-age pensions, the payments of which have to be made regularly, and theincome of which is voted once a year. I1 recognise with the Treasurer the necessity of sweeping up his savings at the end of the year, so as to keep them for Commonwealth services.
– The honorable member would keep them for State purposes; that is the object of his manoeuvring.
-According to the honorable member I am doing lots of things of which I myself know nothing. I can understand these Trust Funds beingcreated for the purposes of expenditures where there is no certainty . as towhen the payments will have to be made. When you order defence material, you cannot tell whether it will arrive within theyear or not, and may require a Trust Fund! from which to take the money when payment has to be made. I hear, for the first time, now, the Treasurer’s proposal to ask for a Trust Fund to contain £5,000,000 for the purposes of old-age pensions. That cannot be necessary, since less than £3,000,000 will be required until we come to vote further money for the purpose. The right honorable gentleman now says that he has no objection to reducing the amount to £3,000,000, which will be the right thing to do. The House will then be in the proper position of having control over the money to use as it thinks fit from year to year. I should like to see the Treasurer get out a detailed statement with regard to the trust accounts in general. He is curtailing those very useful tables for the first time this year. In the last Budget-papers there were three pages of them; but they are curtailed this year to one page, and less and less detail is being furnished.
– I will get a full statement to give to Parliament.
– The trust accounts ought to be set out in detail, so that we may know exactly the moneys that we have placed in them, and which are supposed to be spent when they are not. They are spent constitutionally, but actually they are not spent. We should know exactly how they are progressing, and so be better able to criticise them when we see the necessity for doing so.
– I am very glad that the honorable member for Parramatta has brought out the question of the remarks of the Auditor- General. The reason why I asked for fuller particulars was because the honorable member used the word “ manipulating.” That is a most serious word to use in reference to Treasury matters, and in that connexion it certainly ought to be employed with great care. All that the Auditor-General says in his report is that his work could not be completed,, because the accounts were not in. It should be remembered that the whole financial position of the Commonwealth was transformed in 1909-10, and the difficulty of getting out the accounts was increased tenfold. That, of course, is no justification for the Treasury not being prepared with a full and complete statement for the Auditor-General. If the Treasury or other Departments can be brought up to such a state of efficiency as will enable this to be done, it will be done.
– Was not the right honorable member aware of these criticisms ?
– I have no recollection of a complaint or a suggestion of any kind being made. If it was made, it did not make an impression on my mind, but I am, perhaps, to blame for that. In any case, the explanation will be clear. The AuditorGeneral suggests in his report that the accounts could be submitted in time for him to lay his report before Parliament during the session. I have shown that since 1909 a complete change in the Commonwealth accounts has taken place, and there has been greater difficulty in making adjustments. The Commonwealth expenditure and operations have also increased threefold since that date, and it was a very difficult thing, during that transformation period, to turn out the accounts as simply as they were turned out from 190 1-2 to 1908-9. Any one who has any knowledge of the previous Treasury work will understand the difficulties of getting all the accounts in, and I think it is a wonderful performance to get them closed in July, in any circumstances, and be able to make a statement to this House a month afterwards, regarding a continent as big as Europe. The accounts have to come from every portion of the Commonwealth, and be determined and checked. The Auditor- General does not suggest that there wasany avoidable cause for the delay.
– That would not be his function.
– He does not say that the circumstances have changed. He simply says, “ I believe my report would be of more effect if it were presented to the House before the session closes.” I agree with that, and anything I can do to see that it is done will be done. He also says, “ I have brought my report more up to date.” At the same time, I have no recollection of any suggestion or complaint reaching me regarding the accounts, beyond what appears in the report, and I am very glad that the matter has been brought up. The proposed Trust Fund does , not give the Treasurer, or the Government, or’ any person, authority to spend any money at all. The Bill gives them authority toplace any balance in the Trust Fund. If there is no balance, nothing is paid in. So far as regards the appropriation of money for the Postmaster-General’s Department, that was appropriated by am
Act for specific purposes, andcannot be diverted by the Treasurer to other purposes.
– It is said that it was spent twelve months ago, and yetonlya portion of it was spent.
– It was appropriated twelve months ago for specific purposes.
– It was accounted for as the expenditure of last year in your Budget statement.
– No, it was an estimated expenditure; but the work was not completed, and the vote is in the same position as any other unexpended vote. The unexpended balance would have lapsed in the ordinary course but for the fact that it was specially appropriated. It is, therefore, continued over to next year, and, as Treasurer, I took care that, as the amount of money named was necessary for the two years to bring the Postmaster-General’s Department up toa reasonable state of efficiency, the unexpended balance should be carried forward, so that wehave a vote larger by the unexpended amount for this year’s work than we had for last year. The money having been appropriated by the Act, it is not necessary to appropriate it in the Estimates for the following year, but the statement of accounts will clearly show whatexpenditure has been incurred, and what work undertaken. The will of Parliament must , be carried out in the terms of the Act appropriating the money, which cannot be used for any other purpose. I would, therefore,ask the honorable member for Parramatta to be careful in his use of the word “manipulate” in reference to the accounts of the Treasury.
– What I mean has been fully explained by the Treasurer himself.
– The honorable member has already spoken twiceon the motion.
– Then I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member accusedmeof usingthe word “manipulation” unfairly.
– I used it in this way only, and I repeat it : I say that under the very vote referred to, the honorable memberwill have to expend this year, if he chooses, £1,500,000for works and new buildings for thePostmaster-General’s Department, although weonly voted £1, 000,000 odd for that purpose for this year. There is nothing to stop the Treasurer from using the £1,500,000.
– If you came in, you would stop the money being spent ?
– Not at all; I wouldhave had it spent before now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr.Hughes doprepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.
Fisher) read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30to8p.m.
– I move -
That this Billbe now read a second time.
To meet the wishes of the Opposition, I have made the appropriation , £3,000,000 instead of £5, 000,000.
– I wish to know whetherthe £3,000,000 referred to by the Prime Minister is a freshappropriation, additionalto the £1,153,000 which was to the credit of the old trust account at the beginning of this year.
– That moneyhas beenappropriated.
-But not spent?
– It will be spent before the end of the year.
– If £3,000,000 additional is to beappropriated, there will be available for the year £4,153,000.
– There will be an appropriation of £3,000,000 available for the next financial year.
– The £3,000,000 now being appropriated does notappear in the Estimates.
– Is £1,153,000 all that is to be spent within this financial year?
– Then where will the balancecome from?
-From the Consolidated Revenue.
– Thenthe trust account does not cover all the expenditure oninvailid andold-age pensions?
– It might, or it might not. If there were £2,500,000 at the credit of the trust account, it would covertheexpenditure for the year.
– There is now in the trust account only£1,153,000, to which must be added a sum taken from the Consolidated Revenue to meet the expenditure of the year?
– I have already appropriated out of the Consolidated Revenue enough for the present year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee .
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Appropriation of , £3,000,000 for invalid and old-age pensions).
– The only reason for this appropriation for the purposes of the trust account is to enable an account to be opened into which may be paid at the end of the financial year all or any part of the surplus then available. There would also be paid into the account at any time any sums that Parliament might direct to be so paid. Without an appropriation to a trust account of this kind, the Commonwealth might not be able to keep this surplus revenue.
– The surplus revenue might have to go to the States.
– Yes. I think that it is the duty of Parliament to see that there is always a Trust Fund into which any surplus may be paid.
.- I do not know whether by this Bill the Prime Minister can amend the invalid and old-age pensions law in regard to naturalization.
– I intend to bring in an amending Bill dealing with naturalization, and altering the provisions of the law in regard to pensioners who possess homes.
– There must be a considerable part of the money in the old trust account still unexpended.
– There is some.
– On the 22nd December, 191 1, we appropriated£4,000,000, and, six months after that date, there was to the credit of the Trust Account only £1,153,000. We are being asked now to create a new Trust Account before the old one is finished with. Will the Treasurer say how much was paid into the old account, and how much of that has been spent ?
– I could not give the information at this moment. It is necessary to open a new account now, to be on the safe side.
– There must be £2,000,000 of the £4,000,000 appropriated last year still unexpended, so that, with this additional appropriation of£3,000, 000, the Treasurer will have £5,000,000. I do not know why this appropriation is asked for.
– On behalf of the Opposition, should it come into power. The financial year will close before Parliament meets again next year.
– The solicitude for the convenience of the Opposition is most touching. Although we appropriated £4,000,000 last year, the Treasurer did not pay it into the old Trust Account, and he cannot have spent it all. The appropriation of £4,000,000 should have been sufficient for a year and a half. Ten months after receiving an appropriation of £4,000,000, the Treasurer, with £1,500,000 or £2,000,000 unspent, is asking, for another appropriation of £3,000,000. Is there any need for this ?
– I think so. We have always looked well ahead in case of accidents.
– I do not think that we are acting wisely in putting this expenditure out of the control of Parliament. It is not as if the pensions system were in danger. Parliament would always find the money for these pensions, even were the Trust Account exhausted. If there were no Trust Account in existence, invalid and old-age pensions would be provided for out of the Consolidated Revenue. I cannot see the reason for putting to the credit of a Trust Account a sum which cannot be expended for more than a year and a half or two years. The Trust Account is being used for a purpose which I do not understand. I cannot see how the invalid and old-age pensions system will be benefited by this proposal, under which Parliament will lose control of the expenditure for a year and a half or two years.
.- I hope that when the Prime Minister is considering the advisability of amending the old-age pensions law in regard to the deduction of the value of a home, he will also give consideration to the advisability of amending it with regard to the deduction of the surrender value of insurance policies. The surrender value of an insurance policy is nothing like its face value.
– The Bill has nothing to do with deductions in respect to homes.
– I am not dealing with homes, but with old-age pensions. However, if I am out of order, I must obey your ruling; but I thought I could discuss anything relating to pensions. People who insure have sometimes great difficulty in paying the premiums ; and to say that a reduction shall be made for the surrender value is to induce old-age pensioners to give up their policies and make use of the money during their lives. I hope that the Prime Minister will see his way to make provision for relieving people from what may prove an awkward position.
.- In the Australian Medical Gazette of May, 1911, there appears the following letter from a “ Country G.P.,” which I take to mean a general practitioner: -
In his able and comprehensive address at the annual meeting, our retiring President touched upon the matter of the inadequate fees offered by the State for the examination of cadets. There are, however, other services demanded by the Government from the medical profession which are very inadequately remunerated, i.e., the examination of claimants for invalidity pensions who live at a considerable distance from the examiner’s residence. The fees offered for this service are 10s. if claimants are examined at the doctor’s consulting-room, and 15s. if examined at their own homes. No mileage is allowed.
Recently I was instructed to visit and examine a claimant living twelve miles from my residence, and to reach whom I should have had to travel a very bad road. I applied through the local Registrar for a mileage fee in this case, and enclose herewith the reply received from the Deputy Commissioner. It is surely unfair to expect a busy practitioner to travel twenty-four miles for nothing. This seems to affect country medical men only, as the question of mileage in such cases can hardly arise in the metropolitan area.
Another matter which presses somewhat hardly on doctors practising in country districts is the attendance they are expected to render to oldage and invalidity pensioners. These persons, who in former years would have been removed to benevolent institutions, now practically claim gratuitous attention from local medical men. Of course, an allowance of a few shillings weekly does not enable pensioners to pay for medical advice when ill ; but if these pensions aTe granted for the purpose of relieving pressure on the space available in the charitable asylums, it seems but fair that the Government should provide a scheme of medical attendance on these persons when required.
I_should like the Prime Minister to give his attention to this matter, if he has not already done so.
– I am- happy to say that such a letter is singular. The members of the medical profession make very little complaint. It is impossible to pay them high fees.
– The writer does not suggest high fees, but merely points out the difficulties in outlying districts.
– We have nearly 100,000 invalid and old-age pensioners.
– This does not refer to an annual charge, but only to the charge in the first instance, when pensions are granted ; and I take it that the 100,000 covers all the city cases. I think that something should be done, and that reasonable rates should be paid for work done in country districts.
.- Can the Prime Minister tell us the exact state of the Trust accounts at the present time?
– I think the reserve is under £2,000,000.
– I presume the Prime Minister has the figures.
– I have not.
– According to the Budget-papers, the balance standing to the credit of the Trust Fund for the old-age pensions, prior to the introduction of the Bill in 1911, was £1,600,287, and the actual receipts during the twelve months were only £2,294,158. I take it that a certain amount of that would be paid in during the first six months of the financial year - that the balance would not be paid in right at the end but during the currency of the year.
– We credit the balances at the end of the year.
– If the whole sum was credited at the end of the year it would mean £1,705,842.
– I think it was about
– If the Prime Minister imagines that at the end of the year he will have a surplus of that amount, he is more sanguine than I am. My own opinion is that there is ample in the Trust Fund at the present time to cover the whole of this year; and, personally, I do not think we should load up these Funds in this way. It is a species of finance that may at any time land the Parliament in a precarious position.
– Nothing will go into the fund unless there is a balance.
– At the same time, the control of large sums of money is taken out of the hands of Parliament.
– That is not so ; the money is taken out of the control of other Parliaments, but not out of the control of this Parliament.
– That is not what I mean.
– It is what I mean.
– The control is not taken out of the hands of the Parliament of to-day, but is taken out of the control of the Parliament that is to come.
Mr.Fisher. - It is not taken out of the control of the Federal Parliament, but out of the control of other Parliaments.
– It is to a great extent taken out of the control of the Federal Parliament. Once moneys are put into the Trust Fund, the Treasurer may spend them without any sanction from the Parliament.
– The Treasurer has the right to use the funds once they are appropriated.
– No ; they have to be reappropriated.
– I do not think it is right for a Parliament, particularly in its last session, to vote large sums of money into a Trust Fund in this way. I admit that there may be a necessity for making due provision to cover any surplus which may reasonably be expected ; but has the Prime Minister any reasonable expectation of a surplus of £1,700,000?
– I have not.
– Then it seems to me that this is not the right way to conduct our finances.
– But I am taking no risks.
– I should very much like to see this peculiar system of finance dispensed with altogether. I admit that constitutional limitations do, to a certain extent, compel us to take this course, but we are not compelled to go years ahead of our requirements.
.- These Trust Funds enable the Government to withhold votes which have been appropriated for one purpose, and apply the money to a totally different purpose, and that is what strikes me as the serious part of the whole business. If money has been appropriated for a postoffice, and that post-office has not been built, the money voted is swept into a Trust Fund, and may be devoted to a totally different object. That is a reason why the House should not lightly lose control of those huge appropriations.
– It is a premium on procrastination.
– Quite so; and as I said earlier in the evening, it might lead to manipulation - that is the only word I can use. I do not mean personal manipulation, but manipulation for political purposes. Under the State régime, it is permissible to appropriate unexpended votes from one Department to another, but the State Houses are always made aware of the fact, whereas we are not, for we hear no more about the matter. A vote of £10,000 for the Postmaster-General may find its way into one of the Trust Funds, and, as I say, be used for a totally different purpose from that originally intended.. Under the circumstances, we cannot be said to have any effectual check or control over the spending of the money - that direct control, which is essential to economy, is surrendered. All that is necessary is for the Government to create Trust Funds, and then, for political or other reasons, they may manipulate the votes of the House in any way they choose, and this House has surrendered its right to see that a vote passed for a particular purpose is applied to that purpose. In this connexion, I think that it is high time that we had a Committee of Public Accounts set up to look after this very matter.
– I do not think that there is much more reason for fear at the present time than there would be if the Opposition were in power.
– There is not.
– The honorable member does not infer anything of the kind.
– No. I believe that the Prime Minister is no more dishonest in these matters than any member of the Opposition would be.
– What about the Naval vote of £250,000, which was taken out of the Trust Fund without the authority of Parliament?
– That is a case in point. We placed that money into a Trust Fund, and the present Government took it out without consulting Parliament. There ought to be a Committee of Accounts which would follow up the moneys that are voted, and report to the House as to how far they had been diverted from the purposes for which they were intended by the House.
– If -we voted a sum of money for the building of a post-office, and it was not expended by the end of the financial year, would it not have to be paid to the States if it were not placed to the credit of a Trust Fund?
– We do not want that to occur.
– But should there not be presented to the House a statement concerning such votes, so that we might know what had become of our money ? There should be presented by the Treasurer at the end of every year a statement of unexpended votes, showing what has been done with that money. At present, all we know is that these unexpended votes are swept together, and put into one of these Trust Funds. Hundreds of thousands of pounds which have been voted for particular purposes axe applied after the end of the financial year to purposes quite foreign to those for which the House intended them. That is a serious aspect of this question to which I think it well to call the attention of the Committee.
– I agree most cordially with the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta. It “would be very serious if the procrastinating methods of our Works Department were eventually encouraged by the Government for the purpose of providing a large Trust Fund upon which they could operate for their own objects later on. I do no* think one can be too careful in seeing that when establishing funds of this character one does not lessen the control of Parliament over the expenditure of the Commonwealth. Now that the matter of having a Public Accounts Committee has been broached, I may say that I cannot help realizing that the slackest sign of the work of this Parliament is in connexion with finance. If, for instance, you take the constitutional responsibility in this Chamber for the finances of Australia, you find that they are supposed to be under the close control and scrutiny of the Treasurer of the day. He is charged with the responsibility of properly controlling all the finances of Australia. Yet shortly before we adjourned for dinner this evening the Treasurer admitted that he had not read the last two reports of the Auditor-General. In other words, the general manager of a company does not even look into his ac counts ! That is what we now understand to be the state of affairs in reference to the Commonwealth .
– The Treasurer has confidence that all is correct.
– And therefore he will not bother to read anything ! That is a splendid doctrine for a man to subscribe to - when he is not responsible. I confess that I look for something more than that from whoever happens to be Treasurer of the Commonwealth, exercising this enormous responsibility. I rather favour - and I think it is applicable to the Commonwealth - the practice of the French Parliament. In the Chamber of Deputies, they have a system of what they call rapporteurs. There reporters deal with the various Estimates. For instance, in respect of the Military Estimates, a man is specially appointed by the Chamber with the right to roam all over the accounts within his sphere of investigation. His duty is a non-party one, and is outside the control and the influence of the Minister. He goes into all the accounts and work of the Department; sees how the work is done, and how the accounts are kept, and, generally speaking, what is the state of the Department’s affairs. He makes his report to the Chamber of Deputies once a year, and the Chamber pays as much attention to his report as it does to a policy statement by the Minister.
– When the Opposition gets into power ten years hence, it will be able to bring that system into effect.
– I hope that honorable members opposite may be led to do something useful in the few months of office still left to them, it should like to see them start upon this system. They have here a chance of doing something more than merely flying placards for political support. They have a chance of putting the finances in order. I use this Bill to make this suggestion with regard to the adoption of something in the nature of the French system of closely scrutinizing all accounts, because this is the only opportunity we shall have for some time to deal with such .a matter. We have already voted three months’ Supply, and have given up our control of the public purse in the meantime. I think that the rapporteur system is essential in respect of the great’ spending Departments. They are hopelessly disorganized, and are all loosely under the control of the Treasurer, who admits that he does not read the reports of the Auditor-General.
I cannot make a stronger condemnation of the existing system than that, and Ileave it to the consideration of honorable members and the country.
.- I am glad that the Treasurer has promised an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, particularly in the direction of excluding, up to a certain amount, the value of the home in determining whether a pension shall be paid. There is another matter to which I desire to draw attention, and it relates to the granting of invalid pensions. Under the present act, a man who has spent all his life in Australia might go away to a war in the service of the Empire, be invalided during that war, and return home to find that he was ineligible for an invalid pension. I do not know how many cases of the kind there are, but one painful case came under my own notice not long ago. It is quite possible that many thoroughly good citizens who have fought for the Empire in this way have returned to Australia to find themselves excluded from the benefit of the invalid pension system. I hope that the Treasurer will look into this phase of the question, and give it proper attention.
– It is one of the anomalies.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives with amendments, and had made consequential amendments in the Bill.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith in Committee of the whole House.
Clause 16 - “35.- ( 1.) Every trades union, registered or unregistered, organization, association, league, or body of persons, which has, or person who has, in connexion with any referendum, expended any money or incurred any expense.”…..
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “has,” line 4, insert”within three months of the date of taking any referendum.”
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to, with the following amendments, viz., after “ months “ leave out “ of “ and insert “ before “; after “taking” insert “the vote at.”
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the amendments of the amendment be agreed to.
.- I suggest to the Attorney-General that it would be desirable to consider the effects of the amendment which we made in the clause. I believe that a mistake was made. It occurred to me at the time that if we made the date of the issue of the writ the time of fixing the responsibility in respect of the expenditure, it would be consistent with other provisions of the act, and would always give two months at least for the purpose. The three months for which the amendment provides may have to date back to a time before the actual passing of the proposed law. I think that the AttorneyGeneral will see that an anomaly may arise. If we made the period two instead of three months, we should be fairly safe, but by fixing upon a period of three months we might carry the matter back to a period beginning before the proposed law was passed. It may be desirable to amend the Electoral Bill to bring it into linewith this Bill.
– This is a very useful provision, but why it should be in this Bill, and not in the Electoral Act, I do not know. It would be a goodthing to bring the Electoral Act into line with the Bill in that particular.
– For what it is worth, the principal Act has the three months’ provision in it It was because of this that we put the three months’ provision into this Bill.
– It would be worth while to amend the Electoral Act to make it definite, so that we should all understand what we have to face. We do not know it now. That applies to both sides equally.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendments in clause 16 agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted..
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Its object is to extend the benefits of the Designs Act to Papua. It consists of two clauses, and the operative clause provides that the Bill shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The Act referred to is No. 4 of 1906, entitled “ An Act relating to Copyright in Industrial Designs.” At the present time Papua is under a Queensland Act, which is not altogether satisfactory ; and the Commonwealth. Act is being extended to that country at the instance, and with the approval, of the Papuan authorities. No designs registered prior to the passing of this measure will be affected by it. It is also proposed to include in the Bill an amendment of the principal Act, in order to bring it into line with the English Copyright Act. All that it proposes to do is to give the holder of any registered design the option of taking it up for a second and third period of five years each, making fifteen years in all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 - (1.) This Act may be cited as the Designs Act 1912. (2.) The Designs Act 1906, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Designs Act 1906-1912.
, - I move -
That after the words “ amended by “ the words “ the Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Act 1910 and,” be inserted.
It will be remembered that a purely administrative measure was passed in 1910 for the purpose of transferring the Designs Branch to the Attorney-General’s Department from the Trade and Customs Department. This amendment relates only to that measure.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I take it that this Bill is being passed to apply our Act in its entirety to Papua, because it is thought inadvisable to ask the Papuan Legislative Council to pass local laws embodying the same provisions. Under the Papuan Act of 1905 we specifically say that the laws of the Commonwealth shall riot apply to Papua unless expressly made to do so. We are making this one apply* expressly now ; but I understand that, generally speaking, in any matter of this kind the Papuan Legislative Council would follow the Commonwealth- law.
– They have been following the Queensland law.
– What was the objection to their passing an Ordinance of this kind themselves ?
– The Papuan Legislature is limited in its capacity, and it is the usual thing, when a Commonwealth- law is to be made applicable to Papua, for the Commonwealth Parliament to apply it in this form.
– It would, perhaps, be wiser, instead of having to place this definition of power relating to Papua in every Commonwealth Act, to alter the Papuan Constitution Act of 1905 so as to provide that all Commonwealth Acts shall apply to Papua unless it is expressly provided to the contrary. . After all, the white residents of Papua are Australians, and the laws we pass with regard to Australia are scarcely likely to conflict, in the vast majority of cases, with local Ordinances. Where it was felt that there would be a conflict, we could expressly exempt Papua from the operation of the Statute. The present practice seems to be a roundabout way of getting at the same thing. I offer that as a suggestion for future consideration.
– This measure will be administered by the Attorney-General’s Department. In what way will it be administered in the Territory? Will the Attorney-General create a sub-office in the Territory, as he does in a State?
– Under section 8 of the principal Act, the Governor-General may appoint one or more deputy registrars of designs, having all the powers conferred on the Registrar. That will apply to Papua as it does to a State or part of a State.
– In the next section there is power to establish sub-offices, but only in States. It does not refer to a Territory. I do not know whether any rights have been created or certificates obtained in Papua under the existing law.
– I am informed that a. design was sought to be registered there, and that it threw the office into such a f urore that the machinery broke down.
– Perhaps paragraph (a) of sub-clause 3, of the next clause will cover the point I am raising. If no certificates have been granted, it is all right.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 (Extension of Act to Papua).
– When is it intended that the Act shall be proclaimed as applying to Papua ?
– As soon as the necessary machinery for its administration can be got into order.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 3. After sub-section (2) of section twentysix of the Designs Act 1906 the following subsections are inserted : - (2a.) If within the prescribed time before the expiration of the said live years, application for the extension of the period of registration is made to the Registrar in the prescribed manner, the Registrar shall, on payment of the prescribed fee, extend the period of registration for a second period of five years from the expiration of the original period of five years. (2b.) If within the prescribed time before the expiration of such second period of five years, application for the extension of the period of registration is made to the Registrar in the prescribed manner, the Registrar may, subject to the regulations and on payment of the prescribed fee, extend the period of registration for a third period of five years from the expiration of the second period of five years.’ “
This provision will give to any person who holds a registered design the option of extending the period of registration for a second, and subsequently, for a third, period of five years, so that he will be able to register it for fifteen years in all. This brings our law into line with the English Designs Act. The period of five years is too short for the registration of a design.
.- These provisions have been taken from sections 13 and 26 of the English Act dealing with the duration of copyright, which is part of the patents, copyrights, and designs law. The Attorney-General has acted wisely in adopting the recent provisions of the English law. I see no reason why at the end of five years the registration of a design should not be renewed. Under the law as amended it will be competent to register a design for fifteen years.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of the measure is to bring the Commonwealth law into line with that of England. This is desirable to secure uniformity, and to enable the Commonwealth to profit by the decisions of the English Courts. As the memorandum which I have circulated shows, at the Imperial Conference it was resolved without dissent -
That it is in the best interests of the Empire that there should be more uniformity throughout its centres and dependencies in the law of trade marks.
The amendments are all useful, but can hardly be termed fundamental, not affecting the basic principles of the Act. The new English legislation seeks to remedy the defects in procedure and substantive law which experience has disclosed, and we propose to adopt these amendments.
.- The Bill is rather technical and uninteresting to laymen, the short exposition of its provisions given by the Attorney-General being as entertaining as was possible. On looking through the last edition of Sebastian on Trade Marks - a godsend to us lawyers who have to suddenly get up a question of this kind - I find a sweeping eulogy of the amendments made by the English Act of 1905, and the Bill is a political piracy of the English legislation. On the authority of Sebastian, one can accept its provisions without much discussion, although the wisdom of one or two provisions is doubted. Sebastian says that the wisdom of the provision making the registration of a trade mark absolutely conclusive at the end of seven years, in the absence of fraud, is more than doubtful. In 1905, when the original Trade Marks Bill was before this House, the general principles of trade marks legislation were debated, and I then suggested to the Attorney- General of the day that it might be desirable to postpone our legislation - I made the same suggestion regarding the original Copyright Bill - for six or twelve months, in view of the probability that, on the presentation of the report of Fletcher Moulton’s Committee, new legislation would be introduced into the Imperial Parliament. Our legislation was nevertheless proceeded with, and now the amendments which I foreshadowed are before us. I drew attention to the fact that previous Imperial Conferences had affirmed the desirability of uniformity in these matters throughout the Empire, and I pointed out that, unless our law was in line with that of the Mother Country, we could not come under the International Convention, which applies to trade marks as well as copyrights and patents. I said, on the authority ofsome patent agents, tha t it was very desirable that the legislation should be postponed, with a view to adopting the necessary amendments which might be made in the English law, and pointed out that our legislation as introduced was not up to date. I said, too, that -
It was questionable whether we should get that reciprocal treatment in other countries to which me were entitled under the terms of the Convention.
I am glad that our legislation is now being brought right up to date. The Bill repeals the workers’ provision of the Trade Marks Act of 1905, on which such extended debates took place.
– It was declared invalid.
– It is quite right to repeal invalid provisions. There are several national marks in various parts of the world. In. recent newspapers from Home I have read that several English merchants have been prosecuted for a breach of the provisions protecting the Irish national trade mark, a trade mark not directly associated with the ownership of goods, but what the lawyers would call a mark in gross. One of the grounds on which the High Court decided that the workers’ trade mark was invalid was that it lacked that essential characteristic of a trade mark - direct association with the goods of a particular person . It struck me as rather curious that there was not a single reference pressed in the argument to the existence of those national trade marks, which, to some extent, and, perhaps, very slight extent, are open to the objection that was then successfully taken. I can find no direct reference in the authorities to these national trade marks; but from the papers which have arrived by the last few mails I find that there have been prosecutions and; convictions for the infringement of trade marks which come the nearest that I know of to the workers’ trade mark. However, this Bill is essentially one for Committee.
– I quite approve of the suggestion of the Attorney-General that we should make an effort to bring our law into line with that of Great Britain, so that we may secure the benefit of the various decisions. At the same time, defects have been discovered in the British law, and these should be remedied. For instance, in connexion with the essential particulars of a trade mark, it is sought to define the meaning of the word “ distinctive,” which has been the subject of a law case. The definition was intended in the British Act to enlarge the meaning of the word; but, unfortunately, when the matter came before the Court in the case of Pope’s Electric Lamp Company Limited, it was held that a surname was incapable of being adapted to distinguish a commodity. This was the decision, although there was overwhelming evidence produced to show that the word “ Pope “ had been used to distinguish the goods in question. I understand that an alteration in the British Act is contemplated in this connexion. We should not slavishly follow the British law, but, while aiming at uniformity, should cure any defects that are found.
.- The object, of course, is to bring our law into harmony with, the British law ; but, as has been, pointed out, one or two defects have been found in the latter, and these have been, or are going to be, remedied. One of the points is that indicated by the honorable member for Kooyong; and in Committee - for this is essentially a Committee Bill - we should take care to secure that a trade mark shall be truly distinguishing. In thecase referred to by the honorable member for Kooyong, it was held that the private name “ Pope “ did not come within the definition, and I suggest that an amendment should be made providing, that a mark shall be accepted, which, in; fact, is generally recognised as distinguishing. This would make a name applicable to any particular brand of goods. There are other amendments that are desirable, but these can be considered in. Committee.
.- The Attorney-General, in introducing the Bill, is honouring the arrangement that was made at the last Imperial Conference. Sir Joseph Ward there proposed that there should be more uniformity throughout the Empire in the law of copyright, patents, trade marks, and companies, and one of the representativesof Australia gave notice of another motion that it was desirable, as far as circumstances permitted, to secure and maintain uniformity in the company, trade mark, and patent law of the Empire. Mr. Batchelor, one of the representatives of Australia, agreed that the two motions should be practically taken as one, and the Chairman of the Conferenceregarded it as a matter which might be satisfactorily dealt with by the Standing Committee. It is highly desirable that there should be uniformity on account of the Imperial trade relations, and alsobecause we desire the benefit of reciprocal international arrangements. The case referred to by the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Fawkner will be found fully reported in the Chancery Division Reports of 191 1, from which I may read the following: -
In Re Applications of Pope’s Electric Lamp Company Limited, for Registration of a Trade Mark.
Special applications by Pope’s Electric Lamp Company Limited to register the word “ Pope “ as a trade mark for incandescent electric lamps were referred by the Board of Trade to the Court. The evidence established aprimâ facie case of the word having become identified by user with the goods of the applicant company.
Held, that the word “ Pope,” being for all essential purposes the surname of the manufacturer of the applicant company’s goods, was not in its nature adapted to distinguish them from the goods of other persons of the name of Pope, and could not become so adapted by user so as to be capable of registration as a trade mark under section 9, paragraph 5, of the Trade Marks Act 1905.
Held, also, that, even if the word could in its naturebe adapted to distinguish, the Court ought not inthe exercise of its discretion to make the order asked for.
In the report of the case it is set out that -
There was no evidence that amongst the public that name had obtained that secondary meaning, and in the view of the Court the probability was that it had not, because a very large number of the ordinarypublic who might buy a lamp bearing the name “Pope” would not have the smallest notion of the name of the company by which that lamp was made. But there was a large body of evidence from persons engaged in the trade, including in that term persons familiar with the habits and customs of the trade, that in the trade the name “ Pope “ applied in this way had come to denote the lamps manufactured by the applicant company.
I do not know whether the Attorney-General has ascertainedthat a later Bill on the subject has been introduced at Home. While desiring uniformity, we do not wish, of course, to create any hardships ; but from a paper that has been supplied to me, I understand that some amendments are contemplated in the English Act. Has the Minister any information on this point? I would suggest the advisability of considering the matter of giving a wider power of appeal from the decisions of the Registrar - ofenabling appeals to lie on all matters, as far as possible, from the Registrarto the Law Officer, so as to save expensive proceedings in the High Court. They areappeals under sections 34, 43, and 44. Another point hasbeen raised in regard to the question of costs.
– The appeal under section 34 lies, first of all, to the Law Officer.
– Yes. It has been suggested that a clause should be framed providing that an appeal to the Law Officer shall lie upon any decision or hearing from theRegistrar under this Act, and from the Law Officer to the Court. Clause 34 only deals with appeals in cases of conditional acceptance or refusal, and sections 43 and 44 deal with cases of opposition. It is desired that the provisions shall be extended and given a wider application. I am not sure of the facts, but I am informed that owing to the absence of some such procedure as this it was found necessary in a certain case to go to the Court to obtain , a mandamus.
– The objection to the amendment is that it would increase the work of the Law Officer to a very great extent.
– If the Attorney- General had any spare moments, I think-
– I am thinking of the Crown Solicitor.
– Quite so. I ask the Attorney- General to consider this proposal. The third point relates to costs. It is desired, if possible - and this may be done by regulation - to have some fixed scale of costs in respect of matters that are heard before the Registrar. At present those who desire to contest an application do not know what it will cost. There must always be some discretionary power, but a scale of fees might be suggested. I merely submit these matters for the consideration of the Attorney-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause s -
Section 16 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead : - “ 2. For the purposes of this section ‘ distinctive ‘ means adapted to distinguish the goods of the proprietor of the trade mark from those of other persons.” . . .
.- I wish to invite the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to a point raised by several honorable members on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, namely, as to whether some provision cannot be made allowing in certain special cases the registration of a surname as a distinctive mark. Under the clause as it stands geographical names and surnames are absolutely excluded.
– The honorable member has in mind the Pope case ?
– Yes. The English Act was amended so as to introduce some possibility of distinctive names being admitted, even though they might be surnames. But it has been held by a judicial decision that the word “ distinctive “ cannot possibly apply to a surname, since a surname cannot distinguish. It seems to me that a certain amount of discretion ought to be allowed to the Registrar or the Law Officer to allow, say, an inventor of some important device to attach his name to it. For instance, why should not Edison be allowed to apply his name to the Edison telephone? It has come already to be the universal practice to apply it. Then, again, the name “Marconi” is famous all over the world in connexion with wireless telegraphy. Why should not that name be just as distinctive as an invented word would be? Another trade name which has come to be generally recognised in practice, although I do not know whether it is actually authorized by registration, is the “ Welsbach “ lamp. These names have really been added to our language. They were originally surnames, but the owners have become so intimately identified with the inventions that these surnames have passed, as it were, beyond the common uses of surnames, and have become really distinctive and distinguishing trade marks. The decision to which reference has been made, however, declares that no surname in any case is to be allowed to become a trade mark. T think that in special cases the Registrar ought to be allowed to register a surname if it is found that it is capable of being distinguishing. The Court held that the word “distinctive” is a most limiting word, and cannot possibly apply to surnames. The suggestion is made that some words might be inserted, giving the Registrar power to register even a surname where it is capable of giving a distinctive or distinguishing meaning to the goods to which it is sought to be applied. Such an alteration would be useful and convenient, and, indeed, would be a great encouragement to inventors. Such names as “ Edison,” “ Welsbach,” and “ Marconi “ are just as worthy of registration as is some invented word. I suggest that the clause should be so amended as to give the Registrar a discretionary power to register surnames where they are capable of distinguishing the goods.
.- In order to remove the undoubted defect to which reference has been made, I move -
That after the word “distinguish,” line 4, the words “or in fact generally recognised as distinguishing “ be inserted.
T am advised that this amendment would allow of the registration of a surname. The decision of the English Court, which I understand would apply here, is that no surname is “adapted to distinguish”; in other words, that the registration of a surname would not comply with the provisions of the English law. I am sure that the Attorney-General is anxious to make this measure as perfect as possible, and I therefore ask him to agree to this amendment. I am advised by people in the trade who have given the question great study - and lawyers have also been looking into it - that the decision in the Pope case, which prevents the registration of a surname as a trade mark, would be overcome by this amendment.
– As I understand the arguments of the honorable member and those who have preceded him, a difficulty, practical in its nature, has arisen from the limiting effect of the word “ distinctive,” its meaning being in this case “ adapted to distinguish.” In the Pope case, as already explained by the honorable member for Darling Downs, this was held to preclude the employment of a surname owing to the fact that it was not in its very nature adapted to distinguish the goods. It has been argued that the learned Judge would have given a different decision had he not been bound by the words of the Statute. After looking through the judgment as well as possible in the limited time at my disposal, I must say that I cannot come to that conclusion. What the Judge says in effect is something quite to the contrary. At page 388 of the report of the judgment we have the statement -
The evidence in this case, as I have already said, is that to a large extent in the trade the user has rendered the trade mark distinctive, and supposing I were to come to the conclusion that the word is capable of being adapted to distinguish, and that the user has rendered it adapted to distinguish, still I am met with the further question :
He is now coming to the point : would he give a decision in favour of the applicant supposing those words were not in the section. He says -
Is the case one in which the Court ought to make the order that it is to be deemed a distinctive mark, that is to say, deemed to be adapted to distinguish, and so entitled to registration? I do not think it is. It seems to me it would come to this, that it would probably become the duty of the Court in the case of the name of very nearly every manufacturer of wellknown goods, goods in common use, to direct the registrar to proceed with the registration of the name as a trade mark. I cannot believe that that was the result contemplated by the Act. If that result had been contemplated by the Act, I cannot believe that it would, in the first paragraph of the section, have rendered it essential that the name, if that was to be the trade mark, should be represented in a special or particular manner, or that it would, in the fourth paragraph, have expressly excluded a surname from that which could be registered under that paragraph.
Those words exclude the interpretation which has been put upon the judgment so far as that point is concerned. Therefore, to insert the words “ or in fact generally recognised as distinguishing “ gould be to defeat the very purpose of the Bill, and they would be opposed to the spirit of the measure. The learned Judge took the operative sections of the Act in their order, and showed that such an interpretation was inconsistent with any or all of them, and with the policy of the Act. I submit that, in the Pope case, despite the statement of the case read by the honorable member for Darling Downs, His Honour, in giving judgment, decided against the view which the honorable member put forward. As the main reason for introducing this Bill is to bring our Act into line with the British Act, and as the spirit of the British Act is as referred to in the Pope judgment by His
Honour Mr. Justice Warrington, I must conclude that the proposed amendment would violate the spirit of the English Statute, and therefore be opposed to ourown. Registration is valuable only when it is selective, and when really distinctive in its nature and effects. If it is to be practically granted to everybody who shall apply - and I see no escape from the conclusion that His Honour arrived at - the Act must in a large measure be valueless and break down.
.- It would be safer to stick to the words of the Imperial Act. I quite recognise the force of what the honorable member for Fawkner has mentioned, but it is very dangerous to introduce into a Statute words that one is not quite sure would fall into line with the decisions under the last Act. The new clause is a copy ot the section in the English Act. In the first four paragraphs it declares what are essential particulars, and provides that if an application is made to register a trade mark which contains one of these, the registration shall take place forthwith, other things being equal and other conditions being complied with. Under the fifth paragraph it is provided that a trade mark containing “ any other distinctive mark “ may be registered, but that “ a name, signature, word or words other than such as fall within the descriptions of the first four paragraphs shall not be deemed a distinctive mark, except by order of the Registrar, law officer, or court.” In that case the Registrar must exercise his discretion as to whether it is really distinctive within the meaning of the Act; but any of the class of trade marks that fall under paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) seem to be placed beyond his discretion. Paragraph (a) specifies the name of a company, individual or firm represented in a special or particular manner, the object being, I suppose, to prevent the use of a surname or individual name that might belong, to other people unless specially or particularly distinguished, lt would, therefore, be very inadvisable to depart from the text of the English Act, which is approved of by such” a writer as Sebastian. In the last edition of his work, he says that in respect of this particular section the new Act is greatly to be preferred to that which went before. I cannot see that any harm is done by requiring a man who wishes to use his name to do it in such a special manner that the public will not be deceived, and the right of other people to use the same name will not be affected. It would be better, in the circumstances, if the honorable member withdrew the amendment.
– What is the objection to making it clear that it does in fact distinguish it?
– Sub-clause 2 dennes “distinctive” as “adapted to distinguish the goods, of the proprietor of the trade mark from those of other persons.” If it does, in fact, distinguish the goods, it must be adapted to do so. This Act very largely adopts user, and there are many sections where user has been brought in to guide the Registrar and the Court. If, as a matter of fact, a name has been used for many years, and ha”s, in fact, distinguished the goods, that ought to go a long way towards convincing the Registrar or the Court that it is “ adapted to distinguish them.”
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Rights of registered proprietor; registration prima facie evidence of validity ; registration conclusive after seven years).
.- Proposed new section 51A is as follows: -
Id all legal proceedings relating to .a registered trade mark (including applications under section seventy-one of this Act) the original registration of the trade mark under this Act shall, after the expiration of seven years from the date of the original registration be taken to be valid in all respects, unless the original registration -was obtained by fraud, or unless the trade mark offends against the provisions of section one hundred and fourteen of this Act.
We have a provision in our Trade Marks Act of 1905 that does not go quite so far, and this provision seems to be one of the few that has been questioned by some of the text-writers at Home. Sebastian mentions that in this respect the policy of the new Act is open to very grave question. Perhaps it is safer on general principles to leave the clause as it stands, unless a man of such authority as Sebastian urges some conclusive reason for altering the text of the Imperial Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 - “ (2.) An appeal shall lie to the Law Officer or, by leave of the Law Officer, to the Court from any decision of the Registrar under this section.”
.- It seems hardly necessary that the leave of the Law Officer should be required for an appeal to the Court from a decision of the Registrar. We might give people who feel aggrieved an absolute right to appeal to the Court. I therefore move -
That the words “by leave of the Law Officer “ be left out.
If the amendment be made, it will save litigants from expense and trouble. There is no need for requiring the leave of the. Law Officer to an appeal. Time is wasted, and business people are put to inconvenience by having to wait for this leave. The Law Officer is a busy official, and sometimes cannot look into matters for some weeks. If litigants could appeal direct to the Court, they would be greatly convenienced.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Fawkner is that there shall be a general right of appeal to the Court from the decision of the Registrar. At present an appeal lies only in certain cases, which are few in number, and arise chiefly under the section of the principal Act that we are amending. In my opinion it would be unwise to adopt the amendment without qualification. The three things aimed at are certainty, despatch, and economy. If the decision of the Law Officer is not final in certain cases the expenses of litigants will be increased. It is only in extraordinary cases that leave to appeal can be denied by the Law Officer, and I think it inadvisable that the violent departure from established procedure now suggested should be made.No doubt there have been instances’ in: which the decision of the Registrar has been unsatisfactory, and in one to which’ the honorable member for Fawkner alluded’ a mandamus had to be obtained to com-‘ pel the Registrar to hear the case.. Such’ proceedings are vexatious and undesirable,but the honorable member is on the horns of a dilemma. If he makes the appeal to the Law Officer alternative to the appeal to the High Court direct, litigants will have the option of two tribunals, and that will not promote expediency, cheapness, or certainty ; and if he substitutes the HighCourt for the Law Officer he merely pushesforward the procedure one stage. I am prepared to consider his proposal, if he will limit it to definite classes of decisions, or to cases coming under certain sections.
To give a general right of appeal is opposed to the principle of the Act. I am willing that the clause shall be postponed until to-morrow, with a view to giving the honorable member an opportunity to consult with his friends, and to enable me to look into the matter, and determine what can be safely done.
Clauses 22 to 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 (Forfeiture of articles, &c., on conviction).
– I ask the Attorney- General if he will consider the suggestion that has been made that a schedule of costs should be framed in connexion with proceedings before the Registrar. He might consult with the Registrar to-morrow on the subject.
– I am not sure that this clause is an exact copy of the English legislation. It is pretty drastic, because, in addition to other penalties for the infringement of a trade mark, forfeiture is provided for. When a person who has passedoff a trade mark cannot be found, there may be a general charge laid by a Court of summary jurisdiction, by advertisement, stating that unless cause be shown to the contrary the goods or things will be forfeited. Those goods may have passed into the hands of a bonâ fide purchaser for value, and I am not certain that sub-clause 3 protects such a person. It says that the forfeited goods may be disposed of in such manner as the Court directs, and goes on to provide that the Court may, out of any proceeds realized by the disposition of the goods, award any innocent party any loss he has sustained in dealing with the goods. I suppose that it is meant to include in the term “ dealing with the goods “ persons who have purchased the goods for value. “Dealing,” as a rule, means trading. I draw attention to the point, in order that the Attorney-General will be able to consider it before to-morrow, and may look up the English section.
– This clause repeats the English section.
– It repeats a section of the Merchandise Marks Act of1887, I think.
– We are copying the Mer- chandise Marks Act, which deals with a slightly different matter from the Trade Marks Act. That Act deals largely with importations.
– I ask the Committee to pass the clause now, and if I find that it is not what I have described it to be, we will recommit it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 26 to 29 agreed to.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to intimate that the first business to-morrow will be the third reading of the Navigation Bill ; then we shall proceed with the Trade Marks Bill and with Supply, if necessary.
.- Judging from the newspapers this morning, a course of action has been taken by the Government which is worthy of the consideration of honorable members; and I take this, the first opportunity since question time, to refer to it, because I do not wish to be bluffed out of the consideration of such questions. Two statements appeared in this morning’s newspapers. Both are to precisely the same purpose, so that I may assume that both were framed from information supplied by the Department controlling the maternity allowance. I must ask the indulgence of honorable members to make this statement now; but they will soon agree with me that the matter is one of some importance, and must be considered as soon as possible. I quote first from the Argus-
It is hoped by the Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, that the medical profession will assist in every way to increase the usefulness of the maternity bonus.
I am sure that every one hopes that -
The Commissioner (Mr. G. T. Allen) said yesterday that by direction of the Minister’ he had written to the secretary of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association, suggesting that the branch draft a circular containing medical directions to women as to the precautions they should take before and after child-birth.
If the branch adopts the suggestion the Department will have a large number of circulars printed, and with each money order for £5 sent out will enclose a copy. The idea is considered excellent by the officers of the Department, who say that, especially in remote localities, mothers should derive great benefit from hints given under the imprimatur of so authoritative a body as the British Medical Association.
The Age statement gives the general facts included in the Argus paragraph, and finishes as follows -
If the suggestion is adopted, the circular will be printed and distributed with the money orders that are paid under the scheme.
Now, honorable members know as well as I do that the money orders for the maternity allowance are to be paid out by postal note after the registration of, the birth of a child. The point which I tried to make at question time, and which I now make, is that this information will be very valuable indeed if given in time - and only if given in time - to the women concerned. It does not matter so much to women in very fortunate circumstances, but it does matter materially to women who are too poor, or in circumstances too difficult, to obtain medical advice for themselves. This advice of members of the British Medical Association ought to be forthcoming to these women before their time of labour. It ought to be available to guide them during the crisis. It is too late to talk of giving it to them a month or two after the child has been born.
– The Prime Minister said to-day that he had already sent out that information.
– The Prime Minister, after insulting me in a futile way-
– Order ! The honorable member must not use that expression.
– May I not say that the Prime Minister insulted me?
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that he must not use language of that description, and I ask him not to do so.
– Surely I can say that he insulted me.
– The honorable member must not say so, and if he says it again I shall take some course to prevent him.
– The Minister to-day gave the following answer to the question to which I eventually succeeded in getting a reply. I asked the Prime Minister “ whether he would provide machinery which would enable mothers to be informed before the birth of their children what they ought to do according to the opinion of members of the British Medical Association.”. The Prime Minister’s reply was, “ That has already been done.” But there is nothing more sure than that this machinery has not already been provided. The Prime Minister knows that as well as I do, and as well as does every member of this House. Indeed, the reason I have for ventilating the matter is that the information ought to be provided in time to be of use. My question this morning - after quoting the Argus paragraph - was as follows ; I am quoting from the Hansard report -
Will the right honorable gentleman explain why he thinks that mothers will be benefited by receiving, some months after the birth of their children, instructions as to what should be done before child-birth?
I wanted to get at what wag in the right honorable gentleman’s mind, and what was behind this particular method of doing the thing. I was, incidentally, trying to point out the inadequacy and the absurdity of giving women instructions for their own safety in child-birth months after the event. I am apparently debarred by the Standing Orders from referring to the Prime Minister’s reply. I then asked him a further question in approximately the same language, and the honorable member for Gwydir afforded me the only reply which I had received up to this stage. He said that the information thus provided too late would be of use for the next occasion. It would also, of course, be of use if it spread. But honorable members know, as well as do I and every student of this question, that the persons we have to take the most pains to assist are those who will not, unless the information be actually brought to them, acquaint themselves with the medical facts arid requirements. It is this particular section of the community whose interests we have to watch, and it is this section whom this proposal will not touch. I endeavoured to bring up this matter this afternoon, and I am bringing it up now to be sure that this side of the question shall receive some recognition. If the Government are going to provide information for mothers, their duty is to provide it in time. It will be of no use to do so months after child-birth.
– The Prime Minister says that it has already been done.
– The Prime Minister knows that it has not already been done. The reply he gave me was, “ That has already been done”; that is, that he had already provided machinery which will en able mothers to be informed, before the birth of their children, what they ought to do for their own self-protection, comfort, and the safety of their children. He knows as well as I do, and I defy him to contradict my statement, that he has not provided that machinery.
– Then you state that he misrepresented the case?
– Undoubtedly, the answer he gave was misleading.
– You have said worse than that.
– Now that I have made the matter perfectly clear to the Prime Minister, he knows that the answer he gave was incorrect.
– Do you say that he was wilfully misleading?
– I do not say that, though it is rather hard at times to tell whether the Prime Minister realizes what he is saying. In this particular matter, if he did know what he was saying, I think it is rather a misfortune that he happens to be Prime Minister, because what he did say is not the fact. I am willing to believe that he did not realize what he was saying at that juncture. I do not wish to labour the question. I only want to urge upon honorable members that this is a matter of great importance. The Government must get this information disseminated in time, unless the whole effort is going to be wasted. They must tackle the question seriously. It is of no use for them to fool with it. They must go right to the root of the matter, and provide the information in time in quarters where it is most needed.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has made a very lengthy explanation. I am sorry if I ruffled any of his feathers. A circular has been sent out to medical men who, undoubtedly, will communicate to their patients what they think may be best for them. The circular can be filled in for the maternity allowance, and every provision is being made to send out the other circular at the most suitable and convenient time.
– Can you place the regulations on the table?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121024_reps_4_67/>.