4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., -and read prayers.
– I wish to know, from the Prime Minister, whether his attention has been called to a statement in this morning’s Argus . headed, “ Spies in Australia: Remarkable disclosures: Geriman and Japanese.” According to that staternient, Mr. A. G. Taylor, secretary to the conference of the Australian local government engineers, and captain in the Intelligence Corps of the Commonwealth Military Forces, says that a distinguished Japanese officer was recently discovered making surveys of several vulnerable points on the >coast of New South Wales, and that a company of Germans was arrested while making surveys and plotting plans at Prospect, near Sydney. I ask whether there is any truth tin the statements, and, if so, whether the iright honorable gentleman will consider the advisableness of applying to this country, for its protection, the laws which Germany and Japan apply to foreigners in cases of espionage ?
– Practically the same question has just been asked by the honorable member for Hunter. The Honorary (Minister asked that notice be given of it, presumably because he thinks the matter of some importance. I attach no importance jfco the statements.
– In a paragraph appearing in last night’s Herald, it was -stated that only Australian artists who are *in London will have an opportunity to compete for the commissions for the historical portraits which are to be acquired by the Commonwealth, and I ask the Prime Minister, on behalf of our artists who are struggling to earn a miserable pittance in this part of the world, which is not an art centre, if it is intended to prevent them from competing for what will be the prizes of the artistic world ?
– I do not know what .statement appeared in the Herald. A 1 Board has been appointed, and most of the paintings will be made by Australian artists living in this country; but some of them will be made oversea, because the subjects to be painted are not in Australia, and Australian artists living in London will get that work. Honorable members know that the number of portraits to be painted in Australia is much greater than the number to be painted elsewhere. If the representatives of the newspapers will inquire, they will get all the particulars in matters of this kind.
– I wish to know, from the Minister of External Affairs, if he has considered the advisability of purchasing scenes painted by Australian artists, to be placed in the offices of the High Commissioner in London.
– The matter is being considered.
Mr. FISHER laid upon the table the following paper : -
Public Service - Government Mine
– Is it the intention of the Minister of External Affairs to bring the officials of the Northern Territory under the Public Service Act, so that they may be available for service in any part of Australia, and capable of being transferred to other places?
– It is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill for the control of the public servants of the Northern Territory, and the phase of the matter referred to will be considered when the measure is being drafted.
– Is the Minister of External Affairs aware that a party of miners in the Northern Territory are threatening to jump the Government mine? What is he going to do about the matter?
– I am not aware.
Cadet Uniforms : Examination Regulations
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence been drawn to a telegram from Bathurst in to-day’s Argus with reference to the delay in supplying uniforms to cadets? It is a very short telegram, sir, which I hope you will allow me to read -
The Rev. M. J. O’Reilly referred, at a meeting of the jubilee celebrations committee, to the delay in supplying the cadets at St. Stanislaus’ College with uniforms. He said that, some time ago - the exact date had been lost in the twilight of fable - the college boys had been measured for a cadet outfit. Up to date, however, they had only received uniforms for half the boys, and there did not appear to be any immediate possibility of getting the remainder. In the meantime, some had died, some had left the college, and some had married, and by the time the last uniform was delivered he would be underground.
I wish to know whether anything is being done to supply uniforms to cadets?
– I had not previously heard of such an astonishing statement from any reverend gentleman. All possible speed is being made in providing uniforms to the cadets throughout the Commonwealth, but we cannot supply 100,000 uniforms in a few days, or even in a few months, because there is difficulty in securing the cloth, and there is also delay in the manufacture of uniforms. At the same time no delay which is in any way avoidable has occurred up to the present moment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the questions are -
I may add that a copy of the commanding officer’s report will be here in a few moments, when I shall submit it for the honorable member’s perusal.
– Do you mind asking these kind gentlemen how they can attend here while they are working?
Select Committee : Supply of Insulators : Case of Mr. Cleary
– I desire to draw theattention of the Prime Minister to a veryimportant motion in my name on the notice-paper for to-day, and to ask him if he thinks that there is any possibility of reaching it, with the view to taking a division? I refer to a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee on the Post and Telegraph Department.
– I promised honorable members who have private business on the notice-paper to provide time before the close of the session for its consideration, and that promise will be kept.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General have inquiries made into the failure of the contractors to supply insulators within the contract time, and will he, at an early date, make a statement to the House as to whether that is the only reason for the extraordinary delay in establishing the telephones for which requisition has been made in Sydney ?
– I shall communicate the request to the Postmaster-General.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster- General have the papers in connexion with the case of Mr. Cleary, who was recently dismissed from the Postal Department, laid upon the table?
– I take it that the honorable member will be satisfied if the papers are laid upon the table of the Library ?
– I shall ask the Post- master-General to do so.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been drawn to a cablegram in to-day’s Age headed “ Consumption Cure,” and stating that the British Medical Association is being prosecuted by some person for alleged libel ? Will the Department watch the proceedings in the interests of the people of Australia?
– I did see the cablegram in to-day ‘a newspaper. The books referred to in the prosecution - Secret Remedies and More Secret Remedies - are in the possession of the Department. They are very valuable in helping us to decide the constituents of patent medicines, and I believe that they are recognised to be genuine. So far as I know, this is the first time that any analysis of the Association has been called in question, and I personally hope that the Association will come out on top in the case.
Appointment of Medical Men.
– In view of the wide spread dissatisfaction at the unfair appointment of a medical officer, who was brought from Western Australia to Melbourne, and in view of the insult which was offered to medical men, will the Prime Minister, in the case of any medical appointment being made under the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Bill, see that all medical men shall have a fair chance ?
– I am not aware of the circumstances related in the first part of the question.
– The Minister of Home Affairs is.
– As regards the second part, all medical men will have an opportunity of applying for that work. I am sure that there was no insult intended to any member of the medical profession.
– Oh, there was, and they took it as such.
– I should like to know the particulars.
– I shall ask the Minister of Home Affairs to give them to you.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers, to the honorable member’s questions are -
Motion (by Mr. King O’malley) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. F. Foate, H. Langw’ell, and J. G. McLaren, the Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 24th day of October, 1912, subject to certain corrections referred to in telegrams from the Commissioners, and laid upon the table of the House on the 29th day of October, 1912.
– I hope, for many reasons, that the House will not accept the recommendation of the Commission. Perhaps my chief reason is that the Commissioners have not divided the State in strict conformity with the Electoral Act I do not wish to cast a personal reflection upon any of the Commissioners. I believe that they are conscientious men, and carried out the task set them to the best of their ability. I believe that they have made the best of a bad job, but I hope that the
House will send back the report to them for reconsideration. Section 16 of the Act reads -
In making any distribution of States into subdivisions the Commissioners shall give due consideration to-^-
Community or diversity of interest,
Means of communication,
Existing boundaries of divisions,
Boundaries of State electorates.
In regard to many of the divisions I do not think that the Commissioners made a particular point of community or diversity of interest. Certainly in connexion with the Nepean division I do not think that they took the matter into consideration. Now, if it is anything, it is an industrial electorate. The Parramatta and Harris Park portion is occupied almost entirely by working men, while at Richmond, Windsor Castle Hill, and Dural, there is a fruit-growing population, so that it is difficult to see any community of interests. I lodged an objection, but the Commissioners, after mature consideration, could not see their way to make any alteration. As to bringing into line Federal and State electoral boundaries, the Commissioners do not appear to have taken the matter into consideration at all ; and, so far as Nepean is concerned, the State boundaries are not followed one inch. My constituency contains the whole or part of seven different electorates, including Burwood, Granville, Canterbury, Sherbrooke, Cambden, Hawkesbury, and Hartley. The way the electorates are scattered about at the present time is almost scandalous. There are now two Commissions, one Federal and one State, engaged in fixing electoral boundaries; and a better opportunity was never presented for readjusting the whole plan on better lines. The Government would be well advised, even at the expense of some delay, if they sent this report back, with a view to an honorable understanding with the State Government to arrange the boundaries in a manner similar to that adopted in Tasmania. In the island State, the electorates are planned out on a business-like basis. The number of State electorates in each Federal electorate is known exactly; and, if the suggestion I have made were carried out, one set of Commissioners could do this work, and much expense would be saved. The Surveyor-General, I take it, would be one Commissioner, and the State and Commonwealth could each appoint another Commissioner.
– That would mean a vastly larger number of voters in the city than in* the country electorates, and. that, I take it,., is against Democracy.
– That does not happen in-. Tasmania, and I do not see why it should, happen in New South Wales. At present,, as I have said, there are two sets of Commissioners, two sets of rolls, two sets of’’ officers, and two sets of boundaries; and itis easy to see how time and money could besaved. The idea is not a new one. Only,quite recently, the honorable member for Swan asked a question in this House which! suggested the fixing of the Federal boundaries in the way I have indicated ; and? I believe the subject has been mentioned in’ another place by Senator Millen. I know,, personally, that the electors as a whole, and1’ particularly the women electors, do not understand the continual collection of names and other business connected withL the rolls.
– There ought to be a» uniform system of voting.
– Quite so; but we are note dealing with that matter now. In NewSouth Wales a policeman goes aboute amongst the householders collecting names for the State rolls, and,, perhaps, within a month the same constable is around again collecting for the Federal rolls. This, gives rise to much confusion, inconvenience,,, and needless expense. At the annual! Labour Conference in 19 10 the question? was discussed on a motion submitted by the Parramatta Political Labour Leagueto the effect that the State and Federal; electorates should be delimited and that each Federal electorate should containwithin its boundaries two equally dividedl State electorates.
– What came of that motion?
– It was carried by seventyvotes to fifty-one, and I cannot understand, with a Federal Labour Government and a State Labour Government, and two redistribution schemes under consideration, why the motion has hot been given effect. to
– And coming from? Parramatta, too !
– And coming from Parramatta, which is a very enlightened place.. At that Conference Senator Rae supported’ the motion,’ and urged that a good case had been made out for it.
– And yet the Government contemptuously cast it aside !
– In that I think the Government are wrong. The late Mr. Dacey, who was afterwards Treasurer in New : South Wales, said at that Conference that he was prepared to support a reduction
Of members in the State Parliament, and he agreed that a convenient way would be toy dividing the electoral divisions, and he would, he said, like to see one common troll for . the Federal Parliament, the State Parliament, and shire councils. That, of -course, carries the idea further than I fhave suggested ; but it would be a great ^convenience, and save time and money if something of the kind were done. Mr. Catts, the present honorable member -for Cook, said that he was in favour of the -system, and that it had been tried and had worked well in Tasmania. Mr. Neilson, M.L.A., of New South Wales, also supported the proposal.
– Mr. Neilson, a member of ithe State Parliament of New South Wales.
– No, he is not; he .Vis only drawing the pay.
– He supported the motion; -and I find that the press of New South Wales was practically unanimous on the matter. The Sydney Morning Herald published a very able leader, in which it was -stated that the case for an alteration of “boundaries which would make the State electorates complete within the boundaries of Federal electorates, was practically unanswerable. If that could be brought about by a reference of the matter again to the -Commissioners, we should be amply repaid, even though it should involve some delay, and the redistribution having to be done all -over again. If the Government would suggest to the Commissioners that they should -try to carry out this idea, it would be in keeping with practically the unanimous feeling of the people of New South Wales, and, in particular, with the views of the Labour Conference, which drafts and formulates our programme. I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the redistribution be referred back to the Commissioners for further consideration.”
– Under your ruling the other day, sir, the amendment submitted will preclude a. discussion upon either the original motion or the amendment. You ruled that we must confine ourselves to the one question of whether the words proposed to be left, out should be left out or not. I should like to know what will be the scope of the debate under that rule?
– If the honorabe member desires to debate the matter, he may do so; and if he transgresses, I shall call his attention to the fact.
– I should like to hear what is going to happen if the redistribution scheme is referred back to the Commissioners? I wish to know whether we are likely to get any scheme approved of before the next general elections? I have in my electorate some 47,000 electors.
– Is not that enough ?
– It is too many, not for my complete satisfaction, but because, in my view, the electorates ought to be arranged on the basis of one vote one value.
– Does the honorable member believe he would get much support for that on his side?
– Honorable members on this side gave one vote one value to the Australian people; but I refuse to be induced by any interjection to suggest that a matter of this kind is a party matter. The principle of one vote one value should be the basis of any distribution of electorates in Australia.
– There are 43,000 electors in Nepean.
– There are 47,000 in Wentworth, and, consequently, if, as a result of the honorable member’s amendment, the scheme submitted, is sent back to’ the Commissioners, and we are not able to secure a redistribution of New South Wales which will correct the existing anomalies before the next election, a grave injustice will be done to the people of that State.
– There is no necessity for a redistribution.
– I am at a loss to understand why the honorable member should say that when one electorate contains about 20,000 electors and another contains 47,000.
– The thing has readjusted itself since that.
– I think I can pass that interjection by. It can hardly have been intended. If the Commissioners were to carry out the idea suggested by the honorable member for Nepean, the existing offence against the principle of one vote one value in New South Wales would be made even more marked than ever. In the State Parliament of New South Wales, and owing to the administration of roads and bridge votes, a practice has grown up of giving country electorates a greater proportionate representation than is given to city electorates,
– With each redistribution there are fewer country representatives.
– But the honorable member will admit that country electorates in New South Wales usually ‘comprise a smaller number of electors than do any of the city electorates.
– There has been differentiation to some extent.
– And there is differentiation in this case.
– To the extent of about 5,000 electors.
– It is a differentiation which I resent, because I think that one vote should have one value no matter where an elector resides.
– That cannot be absolutely secured.
– But in this case, I think that the Commissioners have worked by design to give the country electors greater representation than those residing in the cities. I cannot see the foggiest shadow of justification for that.
– Then vote against the redistribution scheme.
– What! And perhaps commit myself to doing an injustice to an electorate comprising 47,000 electors by making it impossible perhaps to have a redistribution before the next general election.
– But they are represented by the honorable member.
– And are thoroughly content to be so represented. Some of my present constituents are being transferred to the electorate of South Sydney, and I therefore think that the honorable member will vote for the redistribution.
– The transfer will not affect me in the least.
– If the honorable member votes against this redistribution he will be showing the electors in Randwick that he wants to do without them.
– I am not at all particular. I take things philosophically.
– The honorable member was never particular, but I think we should have from the responsible Minister a state ment showing exactly where we stand. If the amendment is carried - and I take it that the heavy roll up of my honorable friends opposite is an’ indication that the exigencies of the honorable member for South Sydney are to be very carefully considered - we shall have to deal with theredistribution again before the end of the session. I hope that the Minister will state exactly where we stand, because I am sure we all desire to do the fair thing.
.- I desire briefly to explain my position, anr! to point out that two municipal councils, in my electorate, have objected to this redistribution. The present electorate of SouthSydney is a purely manufacturing and industrial community, and has, from the inception of Federation, included the municipalities of Botany and Mascotte. Both municipal councils have carried resolutions protesting against the alteration that has been made. A body of 3,400 in one of these municipalities has been added to the electorate of Cook. This transfer, they say, they do not desire. They do not wish to break off their connexion with the South Sydney district, and they protest against this alteration. Residents at the other end of Botany object to being bracketed with Randwick, which is a purely residential1 district. There is certainly no community of interest between the two places, and I have been asked consequently to voteagainst the acceptance of the present redistribution, with a view to securing the maintenance of the present community of interest between Botany and Mascotte, and also to try to prevent part of the Randwick district being added to the electorate. I donot feel very strongly on this question. I do not think that the’ alteration made is likely to affect the result of the election one way or the other; but I am simply giving expression to the views expressed by the people, who have held meetings, as well as by the municipal councils, when I say that I think the scheme ought to be sent back to see if these objections could not beeliminated. Neither the honorable member for Wentworth nor the honorablemember for Cook, would be affected by the making of the desired change. Like thehonorable member for Wentworth, I fail’ to see why this redistribution scheme should have been framed as if it had come out of a sausage machine, so that all the metropolitan electorates comprise some 37,500 electors, while the rural electorates comprisefrom 30,000 to 32,000 electors. This is ai departure from the principle of one vote one value. My contention is that, within 1,000 or so, the number of electors in country and metropolitan constituencies should be alike. It is certainly wrong that there should be more than 5,000 electors in each of the metropolitan constituencies than there are in many of the country electorates. In the redistribution scheme for Victoria, recognition was given to the principle of one vote one value.
– The number, in some of the country electorates, is practically up to that of the city constituencies. Cowper and Richmond, for instance, have nearly as many electors as are in any city electorate.
– The honorable member is mistaken; they have only some 30,000 or 32,000 electors.
– There are 35,536 electors in Cowper.
– On the average, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 more electors in every metropolitan constituency than there are in any country constituency. Such differentiation should not be recognised as a principle. The honorable member for Nepean says that, whilst his constituency is practically a country one, the number of electors which it comprises is well up to the city limit. In other words, the Commissioners could not place more than 40,000 electors in any electorate, and in the electorate of Nepean there are 37,000 electors; so that they have gone very close up to the limit. I do not blame the Commissioners ; I think they have done their best, but they ought to take notice of objections lodged by members and municipalities. Had they adopted some of the suggestions made by the people interested, or shown any desire to meet their views, I should have been satisfied. We should send back this scheme, with a view to the elimination of some of the anomalies, and securing a fair deal for all when the elections come round.
– Does the report show that the Commissioners did not consider the suggestions ?
– They may have considered objections, but they have not adopted any of them.
– Very often a lot of partisans lodge objections.
– I think that good reasons were advanced for one or two slight alterations which were suggested, and the adoption of ‘ which would have preserved the existing community of interest without in juring any one. Under the circumstances, I shall vote to send back this scheme to the Commissioners. The redistribution does not affect me, but surely, when we believe that there are anomalies in the scheme, we should send it back in order that they may be rectified.
.- I have invariably noted that those honorable members who are least in sympathy with the democratic principles of our institutions are those who boast most of their Democracy. The honorable member for Indi this morning made some rather senseless remarks in reply to the honorable member for Wentworth, as to the importance of redistributing the Commonwealth divisions from time to time, when the number of electors in certain districts outgrows that of their neighbours. The honorable member for Wentworth’s constituency has grown, I think, to 48,000. The original quota was 27,000. My own has grown to 47,000 or 48,000. That of the .honorable member for North Sydney has grown with equal rapidity. According to the honorable member for Indi, who is one of the most blatant Democrats in this House - I use the word blatant as indicating boastful - there should be no redistribution at all. I should like to know how that attitude is reconciled with the cry about one man one vote, which we have been hearing for years. The- men who wanted one man one vote do not now like it. We know very well that the general outcome of one man one vote, subject to the differing growths of constituencies in a young country like Australia, was this : That, at the last election, although the party, which sits on the Ministerial side, came back with a majority of eleven members in this House, the aggregate representation of the units making up that majority gave them’ a majority of only 14,000 people. That is to say, 14,000 people in the whole Commonwealth gave them a majority of eleven members in Ibis House; it handed over the destinies of this country to the management of a party which had so little of a majority, .that I have heard it estimated by other authorities at only 3,000.
– May I ask the honorable member-
– No, you may not. I am not here as an encyclopedia, to be referred to by honorable members.
– I understood the honorable member to say-
– No, you do not understand the honorable member. You never did understand him. I only want to emphasize the point that the most undemocratic people in regard to our political life are those who boast most of their Democracy. Notwithstanding that it was demonstrated again and again, by Electoral Commissioners and by public reports emanating from officers under the present Government, that some constituencies have grown from 27,000 to 48,000 voters, there are plenty of honorable members opposite who say4 in effect : “Well, we like things as they are; they have secured a majority of eleven for us in this House, and we would like them to stay in the position’ to which they have grown.” In other words, some honorable members, representing, perhaps, 25,000 people, would like to have the same representation in this supposed democratic assemblage as those who represent a constituency of 47,000 or 50,000. I do not talk about Democracy, but I practise it. Whenever in my political history a democratic proposal has come before Parliament, I think that a reference to Hansard will show that I voted for it. I voted for women’s suffrage twenty-two years ago, before some honorable members opposite thought about it ; and in every democratic movement I have, I think, been quite consistent. I recognised that there should be redistribution when the seats were changed last time. I recognise it now.
– The honorable member is square against the Toryism of the other side.
– I am, I hope, square against everything. I merely wish to protest at this stage of my .remarks against the frequent indications on the other side of a desire to let things stay as they are. Honorable members opposite are the Conservatives; they are the Tories; they are the un-Democratic party in this country ; and if you want Democracy and a desire for equality you have to come to this side of the House. Whatever our personal opinions may be, we must recognise the fact that the three Commissioners appointed to do this work are in the nature of specialists. We are all specialists when we can give sufficient time to a subject to understand it better than our neighbours. These men were .especially qualified to investigate this matter. They know the principles which should guide them. They have not worked on an isolated principle as to whether a particular thing suits a particular class, such as one section in the constituency of the honorable member for South Sydney. They have devoted weeks and weeks to the work. They know there should be something like an equal division of. electors. They know that the work should be done without bias. I do not think that any one could for a moment think that there has been any bias on the part of the men appointed for this work. Commissioners in the different States have redistributed the whole Commonwealth. I should like to know which one of us, taking’ the circumstances of his own constituency - of which perhaps we know more than of any other - is in a position to say that the work has not been properly done? I can understand a little dissatisfaction. I may feel a little bit dissatisfied with my own constituency in one or two particulars, because I know that the Commissioners have taken out of it a large section in which I was very sure of getting very wide support, and have added to it another section- .
– For which the honorable member will have to fight.
– A section of another suburb in which I am prepared to fight; and I hope that I shall meet the honorable member on the border and look at him from over the fence. But I do not go whining about the House saying that I do not like it ; I do not go crying out about these men, and saying that they are unfit’ for their work. I do not’ say that the people of Petersham protest against this distribution, because they have been my constituents in the past, nor do I say that the people of Leichhardt protest because they have been brought into the constituency. I recognise that the Commissioners have followed the principles which it is acknowledged should guide them in dividing electorates, and I am prepared to take my chance. I know that they have been guided by public convenience and public advantage, whilst my isolated views, and the isolated views of other honorable members, might be affected by personal convenience. Therefore, upon the principle that these men are specialists, that they have devoted their time and energies to the work, that they have no doubt been guided by true principles in. giving equal representation to the whole people, I should unhesitatingly support their scheme. I do1 not say that I should not be open to argument if I could be shown that these officers had allowed, some vicious principles to guide them, or had’ deliberately divided the State so as to give a grossly larger number of constituents to one constituency than, to others.. But unless it can be shown that some vicious principles have been, followed I do not see why we should not be prepared to say that they have discharged their duties properly. In the absence of. any such evidence I shall assume that they have done their duty as honorable men, and that they have observed the principles which are generally acknowledged as being those which should guide them. The honorable member for Nepean has referred to the present system, and I entirely agree with what he has said. I think that one ideal at which we should aim in this redistribution is to- make the Federal constituencies, as far as possible, coterminous with those of the States. If our Federal representation is to be equivalent in each constituency to four State constituencies I think we ought as soon as possible, and that the Commissioners ought, to observe the boundaries of State constituencies ; or else the State people ought to arrange their electorates according to the boundaries of Federal constituencies, both co-operating to> arrive at the best possible conclusion, so- that the people may not be put to the trouble of ascertaining anew, from time to time> in what constituency they are located. I know that a great deal of inconvenience results to those persons who cannot devote the time necessary to enable them to discover the particular electoral division in which they are situated. How many electors, for example, have the advantage of looking at maps such as are displayed in this chamber, and of seeing for themselves the exact boundary-line of their electorate? It is our duty, as their representatives, to see that these matters are determined upon methodical principles, in order that they may be convenienced as much as possible. I agree with the honorable member for Nepean that, both, on the ground of cost and convenience, our electoral divisions ought to be made as compact as circumstances will permit. At the same time, I recognise that there should be some community of interest between the various portions of a constituency, and that it is un desirable that a rich, residential area should be linked up with a large industrial centre-.. It is advisable that our electorates should, as much as possible, represent broad interests. It must be self-evident that if we graft on to a large industrial constituency a small portion of a residential district, the chances are that the residential area will cease to be represented at all. Similarly, if we engraft on to a well-to-do residential area a portion of an industrial district, the chances are that the industrial district will not be adequately represented. Consequently, we should take care that the character, of the districts which are included in an electoral division, should, as far as possible, be homogeneous. I admit that under the scheme which we are now considering there are long tongues, as it were, running out from some of the electorates, but in most cases these result from the outline of the harbor, and are therefore unavoidable. We ought always to remember that the Commissioners who have made this redistribution are experts, and that they have devoted a great deal of time to their task - perhaps a hundred times as much as any honorable member has devoted to the consideration of the scheme. Therefore, we ought not to allow an objection to one of the many factors which they have had to consider to induce us to disapprove of a redistribution which has received such care and consideration at their hands. Unless I hear some very strong arguments against the honesty of purpose of the Commissioners, or against the general fairness of the proposed redistribution, I intend to support it.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, in his usual lecturing style-
– Order !
– I consider myself a professor as compared with the honorable member.
– I would have made this explanation by means of an interjection, but the honorable member would not permit me to do so.
– The honorable member was not in the chamber when I spoke-
– I was here all the time.
– Then the honorable member must have been under the seat.
– Whilst another honorable member was addressing the Chamber this morning, I made an interjection which the honorable member for Parkes evidently did not hear, otherwise he would not have made the observations which he did. I said that, so far as Victoria was concerned, there was no justification for the proposed redistribution; and events have proved my contention. Several honorable members upon the opposite side of the House, as well as upon this side of it, have, during the last few months - since the Victorian redistribution took place - asked the Minister of Home Affairs to explain why there is a serious discrepancy between the census returns and our electoral rolls? Every honorable member is aware that a great many names appear on our electoral rolls which are not accounted for on the census returns. As the Victorian redistribution is based upon the census returns, I take it that my interjection was to the point.
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for Parkes did not hear my interjection, otherwise he would not have made the remarks which he did.
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– My interjection was based on a number of questions which have been put to the Minister of Home Affairs in regard to the discrepancy disclosed between our electoral rolls and the census returns. I may add that, if majorities had their rights, the honorable member for Parkes would not occupy his present position.
– Order ! When an honorable member rises to make a personal explanation, it is most difficult for me to follow it. But if, at the end of an explanation, he adds remarks of a personal character, he is pursuing a course of action which is most disorderly.
– I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Parkes on the discovery which he seems to have made, namely, that he is far excellence a Democrat. My memory carries me back to an event which happened in New South Wales some years ago-
– Order ! Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the question which is before the Chair?
– I think I shall be able to do so. At any rate, I shall do my best. My memory carries me back to an event which occurred in Sydney some years ago when the late Sir George Grey delivered an address in the Town Hall on Democracy. On that occasion he strongly urged the then infant Labour movement to adopt the principle of one man one vote, or adult suffrage, as the forefront of its fighting programme. It. followed his wise advice. But it did not secure the enactment of democratic legislation without having to face a great deal of opposition, and certainly that opposition did not emanate from the side of the House upon which I sat.
– When the late Sir Henry Parkes and myself advocated democratic legislation twenty-two years ago not a member of the Labour party supported us.
– The Labour party was not then born. The Government deserve to be congratulated on the selection which they made of men to act as Commissioners to redistribute the electoral divisions of New South Wales. The work of those Commissioners has been exceedingly well done, especially if we compare it with the work done by the Commissioners appointed for a similar purpose in other States, notably, in Western Australia, and, to a lesser degree, in Queensland.
– The Queensland Commissioners did their work excellently.
– They amended their original scheme, and the fact that this House adopted the amended scheme is a fair indication that it constituted an improvement upon the original redistribution. The work of redistributing the electoral divisions of a State is a very difficult and intricate one.: So far as I can judge, the New South Wales Commissioners have given their work very careful consideration, and have recommended a scheme of redistribution of which, on the whole, they need not be ashamed. There will always be differences of opinion regarding details, and in some small matters I think the scheme capable of improvement. But when one considers details, one is in- clined to limit the scope of his vision too much, and to forget that the Commissioners must have regard, not only to individual divisions, but to the whole State, and may have a very effective reply, from the broader stand-point, to any criticism of portions of their scheme. I have no substantial ground for objecting to their proposals. In the past I have suffered from the redistribution of electorates, and have known very drastic changes to be made. On this occasion the changes are not nearly so drastic. Like other honorable members, I naturally, feel regret at having to part from districts that I know thoroughly and well, and from people who sympathize with me, and have accorded me substantial support.
What is known as the Peak Hill district is not to form part of the proposed new Calare division. That district was part of the electorate that first sent me to State politics, twenty years ago. Afterwards it was part of the Commonwealth Canobolas division, and was then made part of the Calare division. It is now to be transferred to the Darling division. Having been intimately connected with it for twenty years, I should be wanting in gratitude did I not regret the possibility of losing its valuable, generous, and continuous support. As a compensation, Orange, of the old Canobolas division, is to be added to the new Calare electorate.
At the southern end of the present Calare division are the important centres of Temora and Grenfell, which at one time were part of the Bland division, then represented by Mr. J. C. Watson. Just before the election of 1906, they were brought into the Calare division, and I have been associated with them on friendly terms ever since, and regret the severance from them.
The districts of Peak Hill, Bimbi, Barmedman, Temora, and Grenfell recorded 3,301 votes for me at the last election, and gave 2,715 votes to my opponent, but Wellington, Stuarttown, and Orange, which were in the divisions of Robertson and Macquarie, and are to be added to the new Calare division, cast 3,226 votes for the Labour candidate and 5,566 against him, so that the strength of the two parties in the division is practically unaffected by the new arrangement. My only regret is at ceasing a long and close connexion with the divisions I have named.
I have no word of condemnation, but a word of commendation, for the way in which the Commissioners have carried out their very difficult work. I do not yield to any man in the desire to have the electorates arranged on the principle of recognising the value of every voter. In the old, undemocratic days, before there was a Labour movement, the basis of representation was, not one man one vote, but property qualifications, and the electorates were divided so as to give the country, generally speaking, a preponderance of representation as against the cities. Matters have since been changed, and we now have this newer form, and in its development we have certain aspects presented to us which call for some attention. Unfortunately, ever since the very severe financial set-back in the early nineties, and the very severe drought of 1902-3, the country has not developed at the same rate as the cities, with the result that the country representation on the basis of one man one vote, has not progressed to the same extent as has the city representation. This was noticed especially in connexion with the redistribution for the 1906 elections. On that occasion New South Wales gained a seat, but in the redistribution the country districts lost a seat, and Sydney increased its representation by two seats. The old Canobolas electorate, which I then had the honour of representing, and an adjacent electorate which the Honorable J. C. Watson represented, were eliminated, and the major portion of the territory occupied by those electorates was merged into a new electorate known as Calare, and Sydney and its suburbs gained two seats as the result of the division. The present arrangement means that the country seats generally are extended over a greater area. If honorable members will note the extent to which, for instance, the Barrier electorate was enlarged in 1906, and the greater extent to which it is being enlarged to-day, they will realize how the principle has operated. But this enlargement is, I suppose, inseparable from the fair and just application of the principle of giving to every vote as nearly as possible its one value. As an exponent of that principle I cannot feel myself called upon to sacrifice it for the disadvantages of country representation which are brought about by this complete application.
Looking at the scheme before the House from a local stand-point it seems that there is a possibility of some amendments being made which would give more complete expression . to the principle of community of interest. Take, for instance, the Werriwa electorate. At present the Great Southern railway runs pretty well through the centre of the electorate, and it is only reasonable to suppose that the very existence of the line makes for community of interest - a feeling which could not be brought about by any other circumstance. Looking at the subdivision, we find that the Eden-Monaro electorate cuts in upon the Werriwa electorate, and cuts across the trunk railway between Goulburn and Harden andMurrumburra, and that a number of towns, such as Yass, and a lot of small towns like Galong are taken from their present relationship with Werriwa, which has existed ever since Federation, and added to what was the far-away electorate of Eden-Monaro. That, it seems to me, cuts directly across the grain of the principle of common interest. No conditions have arisen in the meanwhile which make the interests of these people more closely connected with the interests of the main centres of Eden and Monaro rather than with the interests of the main centres of the old Werriwa electorate. To compensate for this particular loss, Werriwa is extended eastward so as to embrace a considerable number of electors lying east of Goulburn, in the direction of Mossvale, who originally were included in the Illawarra division. Now the Eden-Monaro electorate extends considerably over the old Illawarra electorate, and it seems to me that there should be no greater infringement of the principle of a common interest if this portion of the electorate were added to Eden-Monaro, rather than that an interruption should be made by the extension of that electorate over that part of the old Werriwa electorate lying between Goulburn and Harden. If that was thought to be the case, it could, I think, be re-adjusted without calling for any drastic alteration of the general scheme submitted by the Commissioners.
Again, take the electorate of Nepean. Its representative holds that the community of interest should embrace a larger section of the Parramatta division than at present rather than the agricultural area- lying north. If that be so- and I’ am not prepared to say that it is, because my knowledge of the local conditions is not sufficiently intimate - a re-arrangement could, I think, he made, and a greater community of interest secured thereby without a drastic change of the whole scheme. If that could be secured, I, for one, should not object to the scheme being, sent, back to the Commission -for the purpose of having these minor alterationsmade. But if it is to involve a drastic change of the whole scheme, then I do notsee that the country interests, which should, receive some consideration, are to be benefited more by any other change of thescheme which is possible as compared, with that which is submitted. I am in a difficulty.
I -realize that the work of the Commissioners has been of such a clear, fair,, and impartial character that it can only claim from me commendation instead of condemnation. On the other hand, I’ recognise that what has been advanced bysome honorable members in the way of minor details might lead to a fairer adjustment of the matter, of community of interest, and for that reason only I shall beprepared to consent to the scheme being, sent back to the Commissioners for furtherconsideration. But if it is to involve a drasticchange of electorates, which would mean> practically a repetition of what took place- in 1906 - the elimination of country electorates and the substitution of further cityelectorates I, for one, although I yield’ to no man in my desire to see the principleof equality of voting power maintained, shall not be prepared to support a drastic change of that character as against the fair and moderate proposal now before theHouse.
– The Government intend to support the proposals submitted by the Commissioners, as they have done on every previous occasion. Generally; speaking, I think the Commissioners have done very good work, though, of course, I do not, for one moment, claim that it is perfect. Doubtless if the report were referred back the Commissioners might be able to improve it in some matters of detail, as was the case when the reports in reference to Queensland and Western Australia were returned.
– The Commissioners, did what they were desired to da
– I do not think that is a fair way of putting the matter, because, when the amended reports reached us, they were accepted, by. the House.
– There is nothing * fresh to send back to the Commissioners.
– I think there ought to be a redistribution of seats, because the numbers in some cases are altogether out of proportion. As far as possible we ought to have one adult one vote, and when I say “as far as possible “ I do not mean that there ought to be exactly the same quota in the country as in the city, because there ought to be a fair margin allowed. That is the view I have always taken, though, theoretically, and in the abstract, the electorates ought to be exactly the same. It is not fair that one constituency should have 50,000 electors and another only 25,000. Personally,’ I happen to represent a constituency with only 25,000 or 26,000 electors, and I admit that that is -too great a difference as compared with North Sydney, for instance^ with 50,000 electors. Should it be decided to refer the report back to the Commissioners, I do not see why there should not be time to consider amended recommendations before the close of the session. If there are honorable members who know the districts, and can suggest necessary alterations, it is only fair that their ideas should be brought before the Commissioners. Of course, the Commissioners could “ turn down “ any suggestions that were made.
– The Commissioners said that all the objections have been considered, and have been “turned down.”
– The Minister is apparently advising honorable members to reject the recommendations of the Commissioners !
– On the contrary ; I am ; going to vote for their adoption. As I pointed out before, when the report was referred back in the case of Western Australia, the Commissioners made alterations which were gladly accepted by the House; indeed, I think the honorable member for Swan is as much in favour of the new redistribution 1
– No, I am not.
– However, there is no doubt that the Commissioners have the right, if a report be referred back to them, to return it in exactly the same terms as previously.
– I do not think so, because the Act says that the Commissioners must make a fresh redistribution.
– They could make that “ fresh “ distribution the same as the last one. I could not help being a little amused at the speech of the honorable member for
Parkes, who informed us that he is always actuated by the very loftiest of principles - by the idea of doing his duty to the country quite regardless of any personal considerations. The honorable member said that, unless the Commissioners had done something dishonest, he was prepared to support their recommendation.
– I said that, unless they had adopted some vicious principle, I would support them.
– The honorable member expressed the opinion that the Commissioners know a hundred times better than we do how the seats ought to be redistributed; and, consequently, he would have great hesitancy in voting against their determination. It is very awkward for any honorable member, who claims to be immaculate, that there should be such a publication as Hansard.
– The Minister of External Affairs is the only immaculate man in the House.
– I never claimed to be immaculate. During the last Parliament, a Redistribution Bill for Western Australia was introduced by the then Minister of Home Affairs, the honorable member for Illawarra, and I find that amongst, those who voted to “ turn down “ the Commissioner’s scheme was the immaculate member for Parkes.
– I was satisfied that there was a vicious principle in the scheme.
– Although the then Minister of Home Affairs asked his party to support him, the honorable member for Parkes voted against the recommendations.
– Does that not show that I was very much impressed with the want of correctness in the recommendations ?
– I have to accept the statement of the honorable member, but it was a peculiar coincidence that that vote was taken in order, apparently, to save the honorable member for Fremantle. As I have said, the Government intend to support the recommendations.
– Are all the members of the Government going to vote?
– Every member of the Government who is here will vote.
– How many will be here?
– I shall be here. ‘
– Where are the others ?
– I shall vote for the adoption of the recommendations, although, personally, it would suit me better if they were rejected.
.- I approach this question from a non-party point of view, though honorable members opposite may not be prepared to give me credit for doing so.
– To which party does the honorable member refer, the one he belongs to now or the one to which he belonged for years?
– The one I belonged to for years was not the party to which the honorable member for Parkes always belonged. I am aware that honorable members are charged sometimes with discussing these motions according as the scheme proposed suits themselves or does not. If I were this morning to follow that course I should vote for the redistribution proposed. I know that the honorable member for Parramatta is connected with an association which would be very pleased if the proposed scheme were rejected, notwithstanding the fact that it is likely that honorable members opposite will vote for it. The Hercules who is to be brought forth against myself to pull down the Labour flag in Riverina was to have been selected on the 15th of this month, but it was felt that it would be useless to offer any opposition to me if the redistribution scheme now submitted were given effect, and the selection of the Opposition candidate was therefore postponed until the close of this month in the hope that some alteration might be made in the scheme. I am here, not as an individual, but as a representative of the electors of my constituency, and I have to inform the House, as the Commissioners have already been informed, that 7,000 electors who are taken from the original district of Riverina, and included in the district of Barrier, have protested against the proposed redistribution, and with very good reason. There is not a shire council, municipal or other public body in the area proposed to be taken from the Riverina district that has not sent in a strongly, but respectfully, worded protest to the Commissioners. They have also made suggestions which the Commissioners have made no attempt to meet. I do not know some of the Commissioners, and have not a word to say against any of them personally, but I am at a loss to understand why they have not re cognised that they had not, and could not, obtain as much knowledge of the conditions of the different districts of New South Wales as is possessed by honorable, members representing those districts. It was their duty to confer in some way with, the members representing the district in, order to obtain the fullest information as to the conditions prevailing in them. But these Commissioners have accepted no suggestion. When the New South Wales districts were first arranged, there was only one Commissioner appointed for the task. He sent out notifications to every member of the Parliament, arid to all public bodies throughout the States, asking that suggestions should be sent in to him, or that he should be waited upon. He took every means open to him to arrive at an equitable conclusion in the interests of the whole community with the result that his scheme of distribution, though not whollyacceptable, was agreed to by Parliament without demur. . I have had time only te* glance at the scheme now before the House,, and, strange to say, I was not supplied, as I think honorable members ought to be, with a copy of the report of the Commissioners or plans of the proposed redistribution. I should say that some weeks ago I got a plan which was sent back to the Commissioners. It is unfair to honorable: members and their constituents that they should not be supplied with this information. I ask honorable members to follow; what is proposed in connexion with theRiverina district. The Commissioners statein their report that they have given dueconsideration to the two essential principles^ laid down in the Act - community of interests, and means of communication. What’ did we understand “ community of interest “ to mean when we passed the Act?” It surely was that the chief commercial or industrial interests were to be given consideration in arranging the boundaries of/ an electorate; that where the mining interest prevailed it should be conserved, and in the same way where the agricultural or pastoral interest predominated regard” should be had to that fact in fixing the boundaries. What is meant by “ means of - communication “7 It means not only the means available to any person to travel’” from one part of an electorate to another, or from any part of the electorate to the centre of it, but it must also include the means of communication for . carrying on> the industries of a district. The northern^ boundary of the Riverina district originally took in the country to within about 17 miles from Broken Hill. When the first alteration was made, the portion of the country on the River Murray and near the boundary of South Australia was cut off and added to the Broken Hill electorate. That was very much objected to. The honorable member for Parramatta asks me whether 1 intend to talk out the motion, but I propose to do my duty.
– There is only a quarter of an hour left for the debate on the motion.
– The House can give leave that it should be continued.
– I have a sheaf ot correspondence from various public bodies in my electorate, and I have been asked to lay their objections, and not mine, to the proposed redistribution before the House for its consideration. The Commissioners in this case have absolutely failed to give any consideration to either community of interest or means of communication. They have handed over a large portion of the Riverina district, which is purely pastoral and agricultural country, and in which there is no indication of minerals, to the Barrier district, which is essentially a mining district. They propose to add the whole of the western portion of New South Wales to the Broken Hill electorate, and a more ridiculous proposition was never made. Under the scheme submitted, the Broken Hill electorate will include such towns as Balranald, Moulamein, Barham, Moama, Mathoura, Deniliquin, and others which have no community of interest whatever with Broken Hill, and there are no means of communication between them. If, under this scheme, an elector in the southern part of the new district of Barrier desired to reach the centre of the electorate, he would have to travel down to Melbourne first, from Melbourne to Adelaide, and thence to Broken Hill, a distance of between 1,000 and 2,000 miles. Such a distribution is clearly absurd on the face of it, and I am absolutely amazed that the Commissioners should expect honorable members, whose duty it is to do justice to the electors, to accept it. If I were to consider my own interests, I should prefer the scheme to remain as it is, but I could not, in justice to the people whom I have so long represented, support its adoption. Due regard has not been paid either to community of interest or means of communication. Broken Hill and the neighbouring country comprise purely mining centres. There are a few squatters, but the whole country is mineral in character, and mining predominates. Community of interest would be secured by going eastwards and taking off portion of the Darling country, which includes mining districts-
– Including Cobar?
– Yes, if that were necessary. The Commissioners could then have taken off the north portion of Riverina which comprises such mining districts as Mount Hope and Gilgunnia, and between that portion and the northern portion of Riverina community of interest would undoubtedly be secured. As to means of communication between that area and Broken Hill, I would point out that the State Parliament has approved of the construction of a railway from Condobolin to Broken Hill; so that such an alteration as I have suggested would secure community of interest and pay due regard to means of communication. As it is, the Commissioners have removed 7,000 electors from one side of the existing electorate of Riverina and added 6,000 from an electorate on the other side. I have never met with a more remarkable proposition. If honorable members examine the boundaries of the proposed new electorate, they will admit that 49,000 spiders could not have drawn a more intricate map. At the present time, the only means of communication between Broken Hill and portion of the electorate of Riverina, which has been attached to that constituency, is via Melbourne and Adelaide. During certain parts of the year, it is impossible to get through, even by motor car. When there is a heavy rainfall in the Darling River country, the roads are so bad that a motor car would be bogged, and it would be difficult even to reach Broken Hill from this point by means of horses -and vehicles. Were we in earnest when we declared that in making a redistribution of electorates full consideration should be given to community of interest and means” of communication? What possible community of interest can there be between the people in the Riverinaportion of the electorate of Broken Hill and Broken Hill itself? The people of Riverina are not miners, but agriculturists and pastoralists, so that their commercial’ centre is southward, and not northward. As a matter of fact, they would not think of going to Broken Hill. I can only repeat what I said in this House some years ago, when the western portion of the then existing electorate of Riverina was cut off and added to Broken Hill. There was then a howl of indignation from the people in my electorate. I say this out of no disrespect to the Minister of External Affairs, who represents Broken Hill, but residents of Riverina, who were thrown into the electorate of .Barrier, considered that they were absolutely disfranchised. Municipal councils and various farmers’ and settlers’ associations have addressed to the Commissioners letters asking them to reconsider their scheme, and making suggestions such as I have put before the House. The only reply they have received is that which has been addressed to me namely, that due consideration will be given to every matter relating to the redistribution. As I understand that the Government are anxious to bring on other ^business, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) £12.29]. - I should like to ask the Prime Minister when he proposes that the debate on the New South Wales redistribution scheme shall be resumed?
– Immediately after we have disposed of the grievance motion.
– We can go straight on with it if the Opposition have no grievances to ventilate.
– The time available is altogether too short if anything is to be done in the way of revising the scheme. I do not think my honorable friends opposite who come from New South Wales desire to go back to a scheme which would give one electorate 22,000 and another 49,000 electors. As there is so little time for the revision of the scheme, I think that I shall undertake on behalf of the Opposition to proceed with its consideration at once instead of dealing with other grievances.
.- I arranged for this motion to be submitted so that honorable members would be able to ven tilate their grievances if they so desired., Members of the Opposition had persisted in asserting that grievance day had been taken from them-
– The Prime Minister selected this day for bringing on the redistribution scheme so that we would not have an opportunity to state our grievances.
– I shall be more considerate than the honorable member for Richmond, who seems to pretend a grievance where none exists. The grievance of the Opposition seems to be now, that they have been provided with an opportunity for airing their grievances. I want them to have that opportunity.
– And the right honorable member gives us an alternative.
– I have arranged that the New South Wales electoral matter shall come on immediately after grievances have been disposed of.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to say that in the course of the debate this morning I commented in severe terms upon the tendency on the part of the party opposite to belittle democratic institutions, and I spoke of a woman’s suffrage motion proposed by Sir Henry Parkes in 1 89 1. I pointed out that some of the members of the Labour party opposed that motion, and that I supported it. The honorable member for Calare, who followed me, drew the attention of the House to the fact that Sir George Grey, who came to this country during the sittings of the convention on Federation in 1891, had recommended the Labour party to turn their attention to adult suffrage, and he said that I, with others, and the party to which I belong, opposed that movement. I am sure that the honorable member is not aware of the facts of the case. Turning to the New South Wales Hansard for 1891 I find that Sir Henry Parkes, on the 30th July of that year, moved the following motion -
That, in the opinion of this House, the franchise for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly should be extended to women on the same conditions and subject to the same disqualifications as those imposed by law upon male electors.
I find that I not only supported that motion, but that I spoke at length in favour of it. I have picked out a sentence which expresses succinctly the view that I put. I said -
Those who oppose this resolution cannot honestly advocate equality of voting among men, because the very principle of one man one vote is a recognition of the equality of men, because of their human nature, and if we are not going to deny the Tight to the term human nature to women we cannot for a moment deny their right to equality with us in the legislation of the country to which they are as amenable as ourselves.
I find that no fewer than ten Labour members who were at. that time members of the New South Wales Parliament voted against Sir Henry Parkes’ motion.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 4934).
.- When the debate on this subject was interrupted, I was dealing with the objections lodged against the distribution of New South Wales by my constituents, on the ground of want of community of interest and means of communication. Of course, it is not possible for honorable members to become acquainted with all the leading features of States which they do not represent, but they have a certain amount of knowledge of the geographical conditions of this country. Now Deniliquin is, and has been for all time, looked upon as the centre of Riverina. There is no question that it is the centre. The constituency derives its name from the fact that it embraces a large part of the river system, including the Murray, the Mumimbidgee, the Lachlan, and other streams. Deniliquin has also been the electoral centre of Riverina. Now, however, not only the centre, but the country for something like 45 miles east of the centre has been taken out of the Riverina electorate and added on to the Barrier, better known as Broken Hill. What has become of Riverina? The Commissioners have practically put Riverina out of Riverina altogether. Deniliquin is a very important town. It includes some thousands of inhabitants. It has community of interest southward. It has means of communication with Melbourne by means of a railway. Other parts of the Tocumwal district also have means of communication with Melbourne. They use Melbourne commercially and in other senses. But their community of interest with other parts of the Riverina electorate is to be totally disregarded. Repetition is tedious, but one or two facts cannot be too strongly impressed upon honorable members. When the West Australian redistribution was under consideration, it was pointed out very strongly that there was a. want of means of communication between’ different parts of one electorate, and that that was a feature which ought to have been considered by the Commissioners. The result was that the scheme was sent back to> the Commissioners, and they were madeaware of what the opinions of the membersof this House were.
– Not this House ; it was the Senate that rejected the original West Australian scheme.
– The Senate is part of this Parliament, representing the sameconstituents. The fact remains ; whether the objection emanated from this House or from another place is not material. What is material is that the facts placed beforeParliament by the honorable member representing the constituency chiefly affected’ were taken into consideration by the verysame Commissioners.
– No, not tlie same Commissioners. The principal Commissioner had gone away on a holiday, and had to be.replaced by another man.
– In that respect I annul error ; but, at all events, the scheme wassent back to the Commissioners, at least: two of whom had had to do with the original division. They gave consideration tothe statements made in Parliament, and restored the electors of the constituencychiefly concerned to the community of interest of which they had been previously deprived. My constituents ask me to puttheir case as forcibly as I can. They point: out that they will suffer, under this scheme^ a very serious injustice. With all due respect to the Minister, they say that they will be practically disfranchised. It will be useless for them to take any part in thepolitical development of Australia. Politically they will be cut off, and they will” also be deprived of their means of communication. Can any man who can divest - himself of party feeling look at the proposed redistribution and say that it is a fair one? A glance at the map will show thatthe whole of the western portion of New South Wales from the Queensland border to Tocumwal, within 180 miles of Melbourne, is to be thrown into one electorate - in which the mining interests must predominate because of the population which is centred in Broken Hill. This scheme - will result in the disfranchisement of 7,000- electors. It is manifestly unjust. If I’ merely desired to represent an electorate in*
New South Wales it would be very much better for me to be confined to a small area which had means of communication that enabled me to get about it than it would be for me to represent a division in which communication was difficult, and travelling was consequently expensive. But I should be a craven if I ignored the interests of the electors. Not a single request has been made to me to support this scheme. Practically the whole of the 7,000 electors to whom I have referred have asked me to oppose it.
– How can the Barrier division contain the required number of voters if it be not made to embrace some of the adjacent districts?
– The honorable member was not present when I explained the position. The Barrier division required about 7,000 or 8,000 electors to make up its deficiency. Community of interest, I take it, means community of interest commercially, and if the mining interest is to predominate in the Barrier electorate, the mining portions of the community should be grouped together. The belt of country along the Barrier is of a mineral character. The country to the south of it is agricultural and pastoral country. By extending the Barrier electorate so as to embrace a portion of the Darling division we would still confine it to a mineral belt. By cutting off the northern portion of Riverina from that electorate, which embraces Mount Hope and Gilgunnia, the mineral interests would be considered, and the deficiency to the Barrier could be made up. In other words, community of interest would be studied. The New South Wales Government have already approved of the construction of a line of railway -from Condobolin to Broken Hill, so that the electors within that area will have railway communication right through. The proposed redistribution ignores both means of communication and community of interest. That being so, I do not think the House should hesitate to reject it. This should not be a party question. The only course open to us is to refer the scheme back to the Commissioners. The honorable member for Parramatta has said that there is not time to do so. I think there is ample time available to enable the Commissioners to reconsider the matter “in the light of the additional knowledge which they now possess. I know of no case where practically 7,000 electors have protested against a proposed redistribution in which the Commissioners have not efifected an alteration in it before returning it to this Parliament. In this instance the Commissioners have proceeded upon wrong lines. They appear to have been imbued with the idea that it is desirable to draw everything to a common centre. Let me put the matter from another stand-point. There are 30,000 miners collected around Broken Hill, whilst 15,000 agriculturists and pastoralists are spread over the remaining portion of the Barrier electorate. What chance is there of any community of interest ever existing between these two sections? The result is that the agriculturists and pastoralists feel that they are being absolutely disfranchised and that the Commissioners intend to give them no voice in political matters.
– That is the effect of the proposed redistribution, but I do not suppose that the Commissioners deliberately aimed at disfranchising them.
– I do not say that the Commissioners acted in that fashion. They committed an error of judgment. I am merely putting the view of the 7,000 electors who consider that they have been disfranchised. The party which is opposed to me in politics recognise that the chance of any candidate whom it may nominate is hopeless if this redistribution be agreed to, and accordingly they have postponed making their selection. But I view the matter from another stand-point. I have to consider the important towns of Balranald, Moulamein, Deniliquin, Moama, Barham, “ Mathoura, and a number of others, all of which - if this scheme is adopted - will be cut off from their natural centres’, politically and commercially, and added to an electorate hundreds of miles away, with which they have no connexion whatever. I feel I need do no more than appeal to honorable members once again to look up the map of the proposed boundaries. I have, I believe, done my duty; and, although I may not be thanked for what I am doing, I contend that this report should be sent back to the Commissioners, with a request that they prepare a scheme more in consonance with justice.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat ought to remember that there are other electorates besides Riverina, and that all have to be dovetailed in the general scheme. If Riverina were a centre of population, and we had to consider that only, the honorable member has made out a good case. But I cannot at all approve of the suggestion that the Commissioners should have started from Sydney and worked outwards, because that would have meant the loss of two country seats, a thing to be deplored. I hope the House will accept the boundaries as suggested by the Commissioners, who seem to me to have had a very difficult task to perform. What is the use of having non-political Commissioners if a majority of the House can send back reports and really control the redistribution? It is idle to say that party feeling does not enter into these matters. Wait until the division bell rings ! The Minister of External Affairs has told us that the Government will support the proposals of the Commissioners ; and when the bell rings we shall see what that support means. From an interjection by the honorable member for Parramatta, we might be led to think that even some of the Ministers will not vote in support of ‘ the Commissioners’ report. That is not the way for a Government, and especially a strong Government, to back up proposals of the kind.
– If Ministers think that the Commissioners are wrong, they ought all to vote against the recommendations.^
– Quite so”; I see no necessity for the Government to vote as a body on such a question.
– If the Government think that the proposed redistribution is not a proper one, they should not propose its adoption.
– This should not be made a Government proposal; and if the Government decide to make it a Ministerial question, they should not be open to the suspicion of absenting themselves when the vote is taken. I should prefer to see Ministers divided on the question, because it is very unfair to make it a party matter. I believe that the best has been done by the Commissioners, who have considered community of interest as far as possible. After all, community of interest in the Commonwealth and community of interest in a State are two different things. It would be very difficult to form an electorate representing all mining or all commercial interests, at any rate, in a big State like New South Wales. We cannot all discuss this matter from the high stand-point taken by the honorable member for Riverina. If I thought my electorate was so divided that I was sure to be returned, I would not rise and suggest that it should be altered to suit other interests, and I congratulate the honorable member for Riverina on being able to take such a stand. There is a lot of human nature amongst us, and we take an individual view of the question. We ask how the division suits ourselves, then how it suits the party, and then how it suits the country - that, in my opinion, is the order in which these matters are generally considered.
– What about the “ broad national stand-point “ ?
– The “ broad national stand-point “ generally comes last, in my opinion. If we refer this report back, it will be almost certain, as I said, that two seats will be lost to the country and given to the city. The trend of population to the city is a curse of civilization, and it ought to be prevented as far as possible. The Commissioners, if the report be referred to them again, will have nothing to guide them but what is being said by honorable members on the present occasion.
– Partisan opinions t
– Of course, and they come from all sides of the House. The honorable member for Calare, dealing with my electorate instead of his own, said there was nothing in common between Queanbeyan and Eden-Monaro. We all know that Yass is part of the Queanbeyan district, and that there is constant communication and business relations between them, thus showing community of interest. The proposed railway to connect Yass, Queanbeyan, and Jervis Bay, will create greater community of interest; and, under all the circumstances, I do not see that there could be a better redistribution than that made by the Commissioners. In the event of our referring the report back, the Commissioners might submit a second scheme with which we could not agree; and then, of course, there would be no time to deal with the matter this session.
– Let an unjust scheme be sent back a dozen times, if necessary.
– But I think that the scheme is a just one. The old boundaries would suit me just as well, and I should be prepared to trust to them again.
– But what about Riverina ?
– A good case has, I think, been made put for Riverina; but, in any scheme, ithere must be something that is objectionable to some one. If this scheme is sent back to the Commissioners, as it may be, it is just as well they should have all the information possible. It has been suggested that Eden-Monaro should not embrace Nowra and Berry, the rich agricultural districts on the south coast ; but every one knows that these centres are part and parcel of each other, and there is leal community of interest.
– What about the north cosist ?
– The same applies on the north coast ; and as to the relative richness of two districts, where are *he highest values obtainable ? On the south coast, dairying country has brought up to ^joo an acre; and I have yet to learn that that value has been reached on the north coast.
– The relative values of the land on the north coast and the south coast of New South Wales have probably but little to do with this debate, but the fact that very rich dairying land extends from Bega to Moruya, Milton, and right on to Nowra and Berry, And that the people throughout those districts carry on the same class of industry, suggests to my mind great community of interest amongst them. This view is strengthened by the fact that all these districts are served at the present time by the one line of steamers and that later on >they will probably be served by the one iline of railway. The railway which runs at present to Nowra will probably be taken ithrough these other centres to Eden. Then again the electorate embraces Jervis Bay, tfhe future Federal port, which is to be conihected by a railway running through Braidwood on to the Bungendore, Queanbeyan, Gunning, and Yass districts. The present community of interest will therefore be still stronger later on. That fact should be taken into consideration,- and no doubt the Commissioners have not lost sight of it. In the circumstances, therefore, it is difficult to follow the arguments of the honorable member for Calare, who takes exception to the way in which the boundaries of my electorate have been fixed. I may say that my electorate is (bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, and on the west by the setting sun. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Commissioners, in dealing with EdenMonaro, could not go further east without going into the ocean, that they could not go south without crossing the Victorian border, and that they could not go west without encountering the almost impossible barrier of the Snowy Mountains. They have very sensibly gone north, and brought in centres of population that are identical in interest with those previously in the electorate. It is, therefore, surprising to me to hear honorable members who know nothing of my electorate endeavouring to show that the Commissioners should have made a wiser redistribution. Such arguments make one suspect that they are prompted by reasons other than a desire for the good of the country. The Commissioners have done well. If we referred this scheme back to them, we should probably get something worse, or, at all events, a . scheme which we should have to deal with in great haste.
– Does the honorable member think it possible to get a worse redistribution ?
– I do. So far as my own electorate is concerned, I do not think a better redistribution could be secured than that which was made by the Commissioners. I speak with a knowledge of the district equal to that which the honorable member has of the Riverina. If the Commissioners adopted the honora’ble member’s suggestion, and, instead of starting from the back, commenced from Sydney, the result would be a state of congestion such as has always been the curse of the . country. It would mean . that, instead of having metropolitan constituencies containing more . electors than are to be found in a country electorate, we should have a greater number of city constituencies.
– It would be better for the people if there were more representatives of the metropolitan districts.
– The honorable member for Maranoa does not represent a city constituency, but in a tussle I should back him against the honorable member. It would be unwise for us to throw away a scheme which gives the country electorates fair representation.
– Does not the honorable member think that every electorate should be made to suit the local member ?
– I said at the outset that I thought most of us commenced the consideration of a matter of this kind from that stand-point. I cannot rise to those great heights of patriotism which some honorable members profess to be able to reach. Local interests affect me, and I consider the local interest of my district. I believe that this redistribution will be good from the point of view of that part of the country which I represent, and what is good for my district must be good for the country.
– Then the honorable member does not belong to the same school of politics as the honorable member for Parkes.
– If we were to proceed to a ballot on that line of thought, I think I should 6e found to have with me a great majority. It is, after all, foolish for us to indulge in mere makebelieve, and to suggest that debates on this question are hedged about by great national ideals. As a matter of fact, they are not.. That is why I condemn the existing system. I think that judges or other men quite independent of politics should prepare these redistribution schemes, and’ that their decision should be final.
– We have judges to do the work now. Every man is the judge of his own electorate.
– That is so. Following up the honorable member’s idea, let me suggest that, if this scheme be rejected, we form a committee and redistribute the divisions for ourselves. Seriously speaking, however, why should we put our personal interests before those of the people as a whole?
– Whose interests is the honorable member considering ?
– I am considering the interests of the people and that part of the country which I represent, and which I know well. It is to be regretted that these schemes should be discussed, as they undoubtedly are, on party lines. A few honorable members may’ take the same view as the honorable member for Riverina who, while he believes that the new boundaries of his electorate are favorable from his own point of view, is prepared to vote against the whole scheme because, he thinks that they are not in the interests of the country. But most honorable members have a little human’ nature in them, and are prepared to look after their own district interests.
– What would the country, districts do if they lost a member ?
– Thosewho represent country electorates fight for what they consider will best suit the country. Another point to be considered isthat if this scheme be referred back to the Commissioners they will be expected in making a further redistribution to haveregard to this debate. The debates in this. House, however, are not a very good basisfor them to work upon. After all, speeches are made with a view of securing an improvement in respect of certain electoral! boundaries, and not of the scheme as a whole. If we refer the scheme back tothe Commissioners, and their second report be rejected, we shall probably have to takethe old boundaries. I do not object tothem, although they are inequitable in* point of the number of electors in. the different constituencies. I do not profess tobe familiar with the boundaries of each? electorate; but I know New South Walesas well as do most honorable members.. The fact that there has been no public outcry against this scheme - that few, if any, publicmeetings to protest against it have beenheld - satisfies me that the people considerthat this is a reasonable compromise between al] the interests which are at stake.. Believing that, I propose to stand by the scheme. I think that the Commissioners*, have been well advised ; that they have not. dealt with their work from a party standpoint, but have been guided solely by a desire to conserve the interests of the country.. I shall, therefore, support the scheme, believing it to be as good as any we could secure, and that if it were rejected we might possibly get something worse.
.- I shall strongly oppose this scheme, on several grounds; but, before proceeding to discuss^ it, I desire to refer to the statement made by the honorable member for Parkes that he was a Democrat all the time, and that, believing that the Commissioners had paid? due regard to the principle of one vote one value, he was going to support the redistribution. I have before me figures which* satisfy me that the Commissioners have not considered that principle to the extent that” they should have done, and that they could have adjusted relative values on a fairer basis. In making this statement, I have no desire to impute motives to the Commissioners. I am inclined to think that, having taken into consideration the whole of the circumstances, they accepted the current view that country districts should have a larger proportionate representation than the metropolitan districts. That is certainly the current view, but it is based on superficial reasoning. The honorable member for Parkes, however, did not raise that point ; he simply asserted that the Commissioners had, as far as possible, conserved the principle of one vote one value. The Age, of recent date, published certain figures, which I have checked and found to be substantially accurate. It pointed out that -
An analysis of the proposed redistribution of the electoral divisions of New South Wales discloses the interesting fact that while the average enrolment in the sixteen country electorates is just over 32,000, it is over 37,000 in each of the eleven divisions in the metropolitan and submetropolitan area. In other words, 523,069 electors in the country are to elect sixteen members to the House of Representatives, while the remaining 412,675 people on the rolls are to be given eleven representatives.
The discrepancy, therefore, as between country electors and city electors is about 110,000 in favour of the rural electorates. Allowing eleven representatives for an equal number of electors in country and city constituencies, we find that there is a surplus of five representatives for the’ 110,000 electors in the country districts, or one representative for approximately every 22,000 electors, a number considerably below the minimum allowed by the Constitution. Clearly, there is not an equal adjustment of voting power. Sixteen representatives are to represent 523,000 electors, and eleven to represent 412,000. That being so, the country districts have five more representatives than have the city districts; which means that, if we allow the same number of representatives for the - same number of people in city and country, we have five surplus representatives for the country representing 110,000 electors, or one representative for approximately every; 22,000 electors. That is not in accordance with the principle of one vote one value. I submit these figures to the honorable member for Parkes as a reason why he should vary his decision in this matter. If he desires to stand for true democratic sentiment, above all party bias, let him vote for a better distribution than that now before us. We have, in each of the country electorates, from 31,000 to 35,000 electors. In only one country constituency - the electorate of Cowper - are there 35,000 electors. Most of them contain only 31,000 electors. Robertson has only 31,000, Riverina 32,000, Richmond nearly 34,000, New England 32,000, Macquarie nearly 32,000, Hunter 34,000, Hume 31,000, Gwydir 33,000, Eden-Monaro 31,000, Darling 30,000, Cowper 35,000, Barrier 29,000, Illawarra 34,000, Calare 31,000-
– Let the honorable member tell us what were the old boundaries of those electorates?
– It is immaterial to me what were the boundaries. We are now dealing with a proposal which is designed to fairly adjust the representation of New South Wales. My argument is that the proposed redistribution will not achieve that object. The division of Nepean contains 37,000 electors, West Sydney 37,000, Wentworth 37,000, South Sydney 37,000, Parramatta 37,000, Parkes nearly 38,000, North Sydney 38,000, Lang 38,000, East Sydney 38,000, Dalley 38,000, Cook 38,000, and Newcastle 35,000. Under the proposed redistribution the city voter will not have the same power as will the country voter. I know there is a tendency for honorable members to argue that the city elector should not have equal power With the country elector, because of the sparse population of the country. I consider that that is superficial reasoning. The congestion of our cities is one of those evils which will work its own cure. The electors in our cities are more apt to cast a Liberal vote in regard to land legislation than are the electors of the country, and so open outlets that will ease congestion. We can hope for more democratic representation from the congested areas in our cities, where they feel the pinch, than we can from the country. I disclaim any desire to interfere with the Commissioners who are responsible for the scheme. I believe that they have accepted the common view, and so far as their judgment guided them they have done their work well. They have managed to cut up New South Wales in such a way that that State will not lose a representative. The total representation of New South Wales will not be affected by the proposed redistribution.
– It would be most indecent to appeal to the country on the existing electoral boundaries.
– It would be no more indecent than it would be to appeal to the country now when the Barrier division contains only 29,000 electors, whilst electorates like Parkes contain 38,000 electors. I admit that the disparity between the number of voters in the different divisions is greater to-day than it would be under the scheme recommended for our adoption by the Commissioners. But I am not going to accept a cure which is not as good as it might be when it is possible to get a better remedy. The question of an extra representative for New South Wales is not at stake at all. New South Wales is not entitled to an additional member, nor is she due to lose a representative. But there are local considerations which ought not to be a negligible quantity in our determination of this matter. There is the question of community of interest, for example. Of course, I can speak with more authority in regard to my own electorate than I can in regard to other areas. In the proposed Macquarie division some thousands of men are engaged in the mining and in other secondary industries, but on the broad plains of that electorate very little industrial work is carried on. There are no large industrial centres there. They are concentrated on the mountains, and the grouping of the two interests will result in a clash of feeling and in the’ flouting of local sentiment which we are entitled to regard. I make bold to say that there is no community of interest between the Macquarie plains and the mining towns which it is proposed to tack on to the Macquarie electorate. Under this scheme, that division would provide a more secure Labour seat than it has done hitherto. But I am not going to remain silent when I consider that a fair adjustment has not been made. No less than three petitions have been sent in from residents of Bathurst, which is the oldest country town in New South Wales, and the town around which cluster most historic associations, praying that the proposed redistribution shall not be adopted. Under the scheme of the Commissioners, Bathurst would be grouped with Lithgow, which is a growing town, and which would doubtless become the centre of the proposed new electorate. That would create considerable ill-feeling, because Bathurst rightly claims to be the natural centre of a certain area. Had the Commissioners considered the question of community of interest, they would have arranged the boundaries of the Macquarie electorate in such a way that Bathurst would still have been its natural centre. This country owes a good deal to the old historic town of Bathurst, which has given many fine sons to Australia. Some of the oldest families in Australia . hail from that centre. . It has been my lot to give them - they are mostly large land-owners - some hard raps, to tell them plainly that vested interests established by pioneers carry no hereditary right when they conflict with the national welfare, and that they ought not to be considered at the expense of an educated Democracy. But I would point out that there are surrounding Bathurst many associations which justify the sentiment existing in the Macquarie electorate, which demands that it should continue to be the centre of that electorate. The proposed redistribution, if adopted, will engender dissension, which is very undesirable. I think, too, that it is high time an adjustment was made as between State electorates and Federal electorates. The same rolls should be used for both State and Federal elections. The boundaries of the State electorates which are contained in any Federal electorate should be so arranged as to permit of the external State boundaries being coterminus with the boundaries of the Federal electorate. Such a simple matter would naturally occur to any man in the street. It is a reflection on the Government that they have so far ignored it.
– The Commonwealth has been endeavouring to get the States into line on that matter for six or seven years.
– If sufficient pressure be brought to bear,- I think it will be found possible to make an arrangement of that kind. It is only an ordinary business procedure, and I cannot understand the inac* tivity which exists in getting the question settled now that the opportunity for its settlement is provided. For these reasons, I strongly urge that the proposed redistribution should be returned to the Commissioners for further revision.
– We are all great Democrats, and view this matter solely from the stand-point of the interests of the country.
– The Opposition do not. They view it from a party stand-point.
– It is unfortunate for the honorable member that the two honorable members on the other side of the chamber, who have made the strongest speeches on this question, are the two men who are personally in a difficulty under the proposed redistribution.
– They are the men who ought to grumble.
– The Democracy of all Australia, apparently, centres in the Macquarie and the Nepean electorates. One of the arguments used by the honorable member for Nepean seems to me to get us very near to political corruption and engineering - “ gerrymandering,” I think it is called. It was alleged by him that the reason why the Government should refer this scheme back to the Commissioners is that the last Labour Conference affirmed that there should be a different grouping of the electorates from that which obtains at present. I have yet to learn that the Government should set aside our Electoral Act for the purpose of pleasing a Labour Conference. I think it was an audacious claim for the honorable member for Nepean to unblushingly make.
– It is a common-sense claim, anyhow.
– May I suggest to the honorable member that he has been sleeping on that claim for three years, and only discovered that reform is necessary when he finds that the proposed redistribution will tell against him in his electorate.
– I may oppose the honorable member yet.
– The honorable member is quite welcome to do that. His great grievance is that the Commissioners will not cut out of my electorate the town of Parramatta for the purpose of including it in his electorate.
– The honorable member would not be sorry if that were done.
– Yes, 1 would.
– Parramatta is not a stronghold of the honorable member’s.
– It is weakening every day.
– I take all the chances as to whether it is weakening or not. The new part which has been included in my electorate under this redistribution scheme will not be so favorable to me as is the part which I shall lose under it. Just why the honorable member for Nepean does not desire his constituency to take in a portion of my electorate, I do not know. I wish to tell him that that portion includes the best citizens in . this community. They have always treated me in the most generous and handsome way.
– That is the reason why he does not wish to have them.
– Is that why the honorable member himself wishes to lose them?
– I do not wish to lose them. On the figures, the redistribution was against me, but I must accept that. The plain English is that the scheme does not suit the last speaker and’ the honorable member for Nepean.
– I am indifferent.
– They are all making eloquent speeches, because they are absolutely indifferent !. It is marvellous how disinterested we are- when our seats are in danger.
– How does the Illawarra division suit the Opposition?
– The honorable member for Illawarra seems to be the. only self-sacrificing patriot in the House. He has not said a word against the scheme, although it injures his prospects more than those of any other honorable member are injured. He is not squealing like other honorable members, nor protesting how much he desires to apply the bedrock principles of Democracy.
– For his own benefit.
– The honorable member for Illawarra puts up with the distribution, and accepts the scheme as being, on the whole, the best that could bé proposed. The honorable member for Macquarie spoke about community of interest, and complained of an old centre like Bathurst being made part of the same division as the Blue Mountains. But there is less diversity of interest in that division than there has been hitherto in the Nepean division, which contained city men living at Strathfield and Homebush, and the miners of Lithgow.
– And the population of Clyde and Granville, two industrial centres .
– To-day, Cobar dominates the Darling division, Broken Hill dominates the new Barrier division, and a number of farming centres will dominate the Upper Hunter. That cannot be prevented in a country so large as New South Wales.
– Bathurst and Lithgow are two dominating centres, having different interests.-
– It is. a pernicious doctrine that any one big centre should dominate a division. What is needed is a grouping of the electors with a >due regard to their interests and geographical situation. It is a work of supreme difficulty to harmonize all interests in a scheme of this kind. The only change the Commissioners could have made would have been to give another seat or two to Sydney.
– That could not have been done without taking seats from the country. Would the honorable mem<ber approve of reducing the country representation ?
– I approve of the scheme that has been put before us. Does the honorable member do so? Is that why he is voting to refer it back to the Commissioners ?
– Wait and see.
– I must wait; because I could not gather from the honorable member’s speech what he is going to do.
– It appeared that he intends to wait and see.
– When tie sat down, none of us knew what he was going to do, and we do not know now. I wish I could make speeches like that.
– The Opposition members all made such speeches on the Maternity Allowance Bill.
– No. In this scheme the identity of every electorate seems to have been preserved. Instead of beginning in the city where the congestion is, the Commissioners went into the country, and stretched all the divisions right down into the city.
– They have stretched Riverina out altogether. Did they not tell the honorable member so when he was in Deniliquin ?
– Yes. They are very desirous of remaining in Riverina. They think that it will give them a better chance of displacing my honorable friend.
– I am helping them to remain.
– My honorable friend is accustomed to commit political suicide ! He has been doing that all his life, yet he is still here !
– And I shall be in the next Parliament.
– I shall not complain of that. It is useless to compare a large State like New South Wales, having an area of over 300,000 square miles, with a small State like Tasmania, with an area of about 26,000 square miles. When it is necessary to take, in a whole countryside to obtain the numbers necessary to provide approximately for one man one vote, directions cannot be followed strictly, and there must be diversity of interests represented in a division. The ideal distribution must always be kept in view, and in practice you must get as near as possible to equal voting, and the giving of equal value to votes. A margin of variation is provided in order to make redistribution practicable, and to provide for the conservation of interests. The scheme keeps as well within the margin of variation as is possible, and nothing is to be gained by sending it back to the Commissioners.. One electorate cannot be altered without altering several others, perhaps making them worse than they were. Everything that has been said by the honorable members for Nepean, Macquarie, Riverina, and the other critics of the scheme has already been .put before the Commissioners, and I do not know how the latter can alter the distribution without beginning at the other end, which would not be of advantage to the country districts. The amendment amounts to a negative of the original motion, and will furnish the Commissioners with no reasons for altering the scheme. They will be forced to read the report of the debates to obtain reasons, and having done so will be more confused than before.
– That was done in regard to the Western Australian and Queensland distributions.
– If it is intended to send back the scheme, it will be better to merely negative the motion. Under the Act, if that is done, the Minister must send back the scheme for further consideration. I have never heard fewer reasons for rejecting a scheme than have been put forward in this debate. No one has suggested that the Commissioners have not done their best to properly distribute the electorates, and it has not been suggested that they favour one party more than another. It cannot be suggested. Although some of the Commissioners have been in politics, and, if anything, favour the Government side rather than the Opposition, it has not been suggested that they are biased..
– It was not suggested that the Commissioners were biased when the Western Australian distribution was voted against.
– I am not so sure about that.
– A colleague of the honorable member moved the acceptance of that scheme.
– Yes; but if the debates are referred to it will be seen that his conduct contrasts with that of the present Minister, who merely moved this motion, and disappeared.
– The honorable member knows that the Minister is ill.
– I do not know it. He struck me as being particularly well when he moved the motion. I am sorry if he is ill. Why did not some one else move the motion, and support it with reasons?
– The reasons were of no use to his own side.
– In the case to which I am referring, the Minister was deserted by his own colleagues.
– It is said that some of the Ministers will not support the scheme now under discussion.
– Will every Minister be in the division list?
– We have had one speech from Ministers - from the Minister of External Affairs.
– Why make a party question of this ? It ought to be a matter for the House.
– Most certainly it is a matter for the House. But if ever a speech was made which constituted an appeal to his own side to throw out the recommendations, it was the speech made by the Minister of External Affairs. He suggested’ that no harm could result if the report were sent back, and that there was time to do so, and he intimated that he did not agree with the recommendations. That was a speech which ought to have been made by an opponent of the proposals, and not by a member of the Government. The Prime Minister is not able to bind every Minister, and we cannot say how Ministers will vote.
– The Prime Minister said that Ministers would either vote or be paired.
– All I hope is that Ministers, who may have been driven out by the poisonous atmosphere of the chamber, and who are now walking about the gardens or down the street, will find time to come in and vote. Frankly, I say that, while there are details in the scheme which might be amended for the better, it would be advisable to adopt it, following the general principles that we have hitherto laid down. Not an honorable member opposite, except the honorable member for Riverina, has suggested that the principles followed by the Commissioners are wrong. Nothing has been said more than that this or that detail could be altered, and the Commissioners, who have been studying the details for six months, know better than any one whether any alterations could be made consistently with the’ principles laid down.
– The Commissioners would not accept any suggestions whatever ; they would not allow a member to interview them.
– The Commissioners point out in their report that seven or eight honorable members over there have been making representations to them.
– They had not time to discuss the matter with me, at any rate.
– The Commissioners say that representations have been made from seven or eight different electorates.
– That does not say that representations were made by seven or eight members.
– I suppose that members had a hand in it ; indeed, I know as to some of them; but of that I am not complaining. The Commissioners tell us that “objections and suggestions, in writing” relating to the proposed division of Eden-Monaro, Lang, South Sydney, Macquarie, Nepean, Riverina, and Werriwa, were made. Has the honorable member for Eden-Monaro been making representations ?
– No ; I am satisfied.
– Nobody would dream that the honorable member would do so.
– I should have done so if I could have suggested any improvement; but I could not.
– There were no letters or protest from me.
– Every elector in Riverina protested.
– The Commissioners do not say that the members for the districts protested.
– I do not hesitate to say that if I felt as strongly as some honorable members opposite, I should not have hesitated to write to the Commissioners, because, in my opinion, a member should represent his constituents in that respect as in any other. As a matter of fact, I know nothing about the matter, and I have never interfered in electoral redistribution. I am inclined to agree with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that the sooner this matter is placed in the hands of a Judge, whose decision will be final, the better it will be for all concerned.
– The sooner members of Parliament decide the matter for themselves, the better.
– Does the honorable member mean the redistribution of electorates ?
– I could conceive of no’ greater calamity to the country. I am rather surprised at the honorable member for Herbert, who, apparently, does not see that his suggestion is the very essence of gerrymandering.
– Honorable members opposite would take care that we did not gerrymander, and we would take care that they did not.
– The essence of gerrymandering is secrecy.
– My impression is that the electoral boundaries cannot be altered in secret, but must be put down in black and white. For the reasons I have given, I do not see what good could be done by sending these proposals back. Much as I regret to see my electorate divided in the way proposed, I think my duty requires that I should vote for the present scheme, especially as I cannot suggest any alterations for the benefit of the interests of New South Wales as a whole. If I had my own way, I should vsry much alter my own electorate, but I do not think any man ought to look at a matter of this kind from the stand-point of purely selfish considerations. Any other scheme we could get would be less symmetrical, and I fear that less consideration would be given to the harmonizing of the various interests. The Commissioners have, I believe, on the whole, done their work fairly well, and, out of deference to their judg ment, it would be well to pass the scheme in its entirety.
– The remark! of the honorable member for Parramatta would have been passed over by me but for what he said regarding the Minister who introduced this proposal to the House. In general, an explanation by a Minister of an ordinary matter submitted is a good thing by way of a lead; but, with a proposal of this kind, nothing is more appropriate than that the Minister should submit it for the consideration of the House, if he is of opinion that the Commissioners have performed their duty to the best of their ability, without conscious bias. For a Minister to take sides in such a matter would certainly be most objectionable. If he . opposed the scheme, or if he approved of it, he would have to give very admirable reasons for doing so. The present Minister of Home Affairs represents a State where there is no redistribution necessary, and, therefore, he cannot, except as a member of the House, be in any way interested in the distribution of New South Wales seats. Under the circumstances, that honorable gentleman is -free from any charge regarding partiality. This new-born zeal and virtue cf the honorable member for Parramatta is hardly in keeping with his action as a Minister of the Crown in 1909. On the 23rd November in that year, the honorable member for Illawarra, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, submitted the redistribution scheme for Western Australia, in a speech of considerable length, reviewing the whole of the circumstances. He frankly stated that he was not quite satisfied with the manner in which the Commissioners had distributed the electorates in that State, and, amongst other things, as reported in Hansard of that year, page 6148, he said -
The position is that I have submitted a proposition to the House approving of the action of the Commissioners in the circumstances. It is not a Ministerial matter, but one which, merely in my capacity as Minister, it is my duty to submit to the House.
Could anything be clearer? The Hansard report continues -
– Does the Prime Minister agree that it is not a Ministerial matter?
– Is it to be treated as a party matter ?
– Having put the matter before the House, I hope that honorable members will consider it fully, and deal with, it entirely on its merits.
– It would be interesting to know how Ministers voted on that occasion !
– How are Ministers going to vote this time?
– In the same way as the Minister of Home Affairs.
– The Ministry will deal with this matter in the way they think it wise the Ministry should. My recollection is that on the occasion in 1909 the discussion was stopped by the application of the closure. I find that the honorable member for Illawarra, as Minister of Home Affairs, moved, while the honorable member for Gwydir was speaking on this very question, “That the question be now put.” That motion was submitted with the object of preventing discussion.
– It was very necessary at the time.
– And the honorable member could not get one member of his own party to vote with him for the acceptance of the scheme.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs voted with me.
– He did not.
– I was to have voted with the honorable member ; there was a mistake in the pair list.
– The action of which the Prime Minister complains was taken after a member of the present Ministry had tried to count out the House.
– The tactics of the Government of that time were not to listen to argument. In the circumstances, therefore, any honorable member was justified in calling attention to the state of the House in order that the question might be properly discussed.
– The motion “ That the question be now put” was moved at11 o’clock at night, after the matter had been discussed all day.
– And the result was that every member of that Goyernment deserted the Minister of Home Affairs and voted against the motion for the acceptance of the scheme.
– And not one member of the present dominant party voted with him.
– We did not make it a party matter.
– No one suggests that it ought to be a party matter. I hope that such questions, will never be dealt with from a party stand-point.
– They are practically made party matters.
– Unfortunately, it is impossible to wholly eliminate party considerations; but, in my opinion, it is the duty of the Government, when they believe that the officers appointed by them to draw up a scheme have acted in a bond fide manner and discharged their duties to the best of their ability, to accept their recommendation. Unless they are convinced that a better scheme could have been prepared, or that gross want of capacity, although no conscious bias, has been shown, they should vote for it. I said on a previous occasion that I did not think our machinery was the best that could be devised for this work. But the Government, having appointed these officers, must stand by them in the circumstances I have mentioned. In one case the Senate rejected a scheme of redistribution for Western Australia, but when that scheme came back with an alteration it was approved. Then, the Queensland redistribution scheme was rejected by one House, and when it came back - although, to my mind, it was in no way improved - the House accepted it. It is difficult under the most favorable circumstances to obtain a true redistribution of a great continent like Australia. We ought, however, as far as possible, to eliminate party feeling from the consideration of these matters.
– We have not yet been able to do so.
– It is only human nature that men should be anxious to protect their own interests, but it is the bounden dutyof this Parliament to do what is best for the country.
– The whole system should be altered very soon.
– I think that better machinery than we have at present for this work could be obtained. The men appointed to do this difficult, delicate, and uncongenial work have endeavoured to carry it out to the best of their ability, in the interests of the proper representation of the Commonwealth.
– The Governmentaltered one Board of Commissioners.
– Not for political purposes. My recollection is that a member of the original Commission had left for Europe, and that we had, therefore, to” appoint some one to take his place. No charge can be levelled against the Ministry in that respect.
– No; but I do not think it was legal.
– That is altogether different from any suggestion of political bias.
– A very good man was appointed to fill the gap.
– I am glad to have that statement from the right honorable member. While it is hardly in keeping with the dignity of Parliament that any one party should claim a special virtue in these matters, the action of the late Government in deserting their colleague who moved the acceptance of a scheme of redistribution was certainly not commendable. If a Ministry believe that a scheme has been drawn up in good faith they should support it. It would be an outrage on the constitutional duty that devolves upon a Ministry in a matter of this kind to make it a party question, and such an action could not be taken with the object of securing the best possible representation of the Commonwealth.
– The speeches to which we have listened during this debate should convince us that the law which provides that Parliament shall itself decide upon the acceptance or rejection of every scheme of rearrangement of electorates is unsatisfactory. That has been my opinion, based upon experience, ever since the system has been in force, and I hope that the day is close at hand when we shall have a, strong tribunal to settle matters of this kind, and that the decision of that tribunal will- be final. The tribunal might be a little stronger in numbers than is the present one for drawing up redistribution schemes.
– How would the right honorable member constitute it?
– I would suggest that the tribunal should be constituted by law. I should enact that men holding certain offices should constitute the tribunal, to be presided over by, say, a District Court Judge, and that their decision should be final. The procedure which we have adopted, and for which 1 am as much responsible as any one else, was the result of growth. At one time, in the States, the Government of the day distributed the electorates, and submitted their scheme to Parliament. The scheme was then referred to a Select Committee, both ides were represented, and a conclusion arrived at. That system was found to work very well in Western Australia in the early days of self-government, but is unsuitable now. In the first Electoral Act passed by this Parliament one Commissioner was authorized to carry out the work, but that was not found to be satisfactory. It would not be satisfactory to have only one Commissioner to distribute a large area like New South Wales, Queensland, or Victoria into Federal electorates. We now have three Commissioners in each State to do this work for the Commonwealth, and have provided that one of their number shall be the Surveyor-General for the State. It is reasonable to assume that the SurveyorGeneral must have a considerable knowledge of the several districts and of the general geography of his State. If we had a tribunal, consisting of men holding certain offices, for the time being presided over by a Judge, and declared that the decision of that tribunal should be final, I am sure we should respect its findings, even if we did not always agree with them. We should, at least, know that no political influence had been brought to bear upon it, and that is absolutely essential in the interests of our parliamentary system. The Government seem to take to themselves some credit - and perhaps they are deserving of a little - because they have supported schemes submitted by the Commissioners appointed by them, notwithstanding that their party have been opposed to them. After all, however, they are not deserving of very much praise. The attitude they have taken up would be all very well if it were assumed on only one occasion, but when we see it repeated more than once, it must be admitted that they are acting in a most undignified way. In the first place, a scheme is submitted to the House, and is supported by the Government. The House rejects it, and an amended scheme is submitted, with the result that the Ministry again support it. A. scheme might be sent back half a dozen times, and it seems almost ludicrous that every amended scheme should be supported by the Government. It suggests that they have no opinion, and are willing to support anything.
– It is very like a pennyintheslot machine.
– They are acting like a mere machine. I have no desire to take any credit for what we did when we were in office.
– I should say not.
– The arguments that are being used in regard to the present Ministry might have been levelled at some members of the Ministry to which I belonged, but in our case we did not make it a party matter, and every one was free to vote as he pleased.
– The right honorable member is honest enough to admit that his Government did a discreditable action.
– I am not prepared to make any such admission. I certainly was not interested in rejecting the scheme in question, although I voted for its rejection. From my own point pf view the scheme submitted by the Commissioner was satisfactory. Everybody knows that.
– The honorable member knows that his party would have lost the representation of Fremantle if that distribution had been carried.
– I admit that the re-arrangement of the Fremantle electorate was not considered suitable. But the arrangement of my electorate, the Swan, suited me personally. It made my seat absolutely safe. Nevertheless, I did not think the proposed re-arrangement, as a whole, a good one, and I voted in favour of its rejection. But the Government of which I was a member did not transform themselves into rubber stamps, and. each Minister was at liberty to vote as he chose. The honorable member for Darling Downs tells us that he intended to vote for the adoption of the scheme.
– But he did not do so. He was paired with the honorable member for Maranoa.
– As the result of a mistake. The honorable member for Illawarra will tell the Minister that.
– The Government of “which I was a member acted more sensibly and reasonably than the present Government are doing. To-day Ministers appear to be merely “ rubber stamps.” They will support anything. They will vote for this arrangement, and if it does not suit their supporters they will vote for the next one that is presented. Upon a former occasion a good deal was said in reference to a discrepancy of 3,000 or 4,000 electors as between one electoral division and another. But under the redistribution which we are now considering there is a discrepancy of 8,726. This shows that the argument then used by the member for Coolgardie had no real foundation.
– Thien why does not the honorable member vote against it?
– I am. not objecting to it. It is sometimes necessary for one electorate to be larger than another, because of community of interest, or for some other good reason, and the law provides for this being done.
I agree with the honorable member for Macquarie that we should do our best to make the external boundaries of the State electorates and the Federal electorates the same. We have always managed to do that in Western Australia, although there are only five Commonwealth electoral divisions in that State. Each Federal electorate consists of so many State electorates, and the Commissioners do their best to make the external boundaries the same. That is a great convenience, because the electors know the State electorate boundaries, whereas they do not know the Federal electorate boundaries so well. They are familiar with the external boundaries of the State electorates of Beverley or Albany, for instance, but when we cut across a State electorate it is difficult for them to know whether they are in one Federal electorate or in another. I think, too, we should endeavour to make the Federal and the State rolls the same.
– It would save a lot of expense.
– And it would be much more convenient.
– It is not done in Victoria.
– Where there are so many electorates, as in Victoria and New South Wales, it should be an easy matter to group them together. My principal object in rising was to urge upon the Government that the course of action which they are pursuing is neither edifying nor dignified. -
– The honorable member has not suggested any scheme.
– I thought I had outlined a plan, but will now do so again. Instead of Parliament being ‘ the final tribunal to determine the boundaries of electoral divisions, the Commissioners in each State should, be the final arbiters. They should be nominated in the Statute, and might well be the officers occupying the following positions in each State : - The Surveyor-General, the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, the Chief Electoral .Officer for the State, and the Registrar-General, with a District Court
Judge or a senior Stipendiary Magistrate to act as President. If that course were followed, no party which happened to be in power would have the right to appoint Commissioners. The existing system is open to the objection that the Government of the day nominate all but one of the Commissioners. It is not in my mind that everything is not as it ought to be in regard to the appointment of these Commissioners. In my own State excellent men were appointed. But’ I do say that under the existing system there is room for the appointment of persons who are in sympathy with the political party which happens to be dominant at the time. If certain officers were nominated in the Statute that possibility would be removed.
– Does not the right honor* able member think it is peculiar that the party behind the Government always seems to vote against the redistribution which is proposed by the Government nominees?
– That is because, being influenced by party considerations, the redistribution does not suit them.
– It is very flattering to the Commissioners.
– I submit that the adoption of the suggestion which I have made would remove the possibility of persons being appointed as Commissioners because they happened to sympathize with the political party in power.
– Nobody should be superior to Parliament.
– The law is superior to Parliament. It has been said by a great lawyer that “the law is above the House of Commons and above the Crown.”
– And Pitt said that Parliament should be omnipotent.
– That statement does not in the least affect my proposal. I have no knowledge of the boundaries of the electoral divisions of New South Wales. But I know that when the redistribution of Western Australia, into electoral divisions was under consideration, some few honorable members opposite did not hesitate to criticise adversely the work of the Commissioners, when, as a matter of fact, they knew very little, if anything, about it. As a consequence they rushed in where I fear to tread. Honorable members opposite (know that there are certain members of their own party who are not well treated under the scheme which we are now considering, and they are willing to vote so as to support their friends.
– That is what the honorable member did.
– Even if that statement had any foundation for it, two wrongs do not make a right. Instead of honorable members opposite being made ofgold they are composed only of clay, and very poor clay, too. Probably we shall find a number of honorable members opposite voting for the rejection of this scheme, not because they know anything whatever about it, but because it is calculated to injure some of their colleagues.
– That is not so in my case.
– Then wl , does the honorable member oppose the scheme ?
– I place the interests of the people above my own interests.
– “ The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I think the honorable member for Riverina “protests too much,” and places himself upon too high a pedestal for one in this mundane sphere. I shall support the Government in their desire to uphold the decision of the Commissioners who have been appointed to re-cast these electoral divisions. Believing that they are competent and honorable men, I see no reason why we should reject their scheme. The honorable members for Eden-Monaro and Calare have said that the arrangement of their electorates is all right for them ; the honorable member for Illawarra has affirmed that though it is not all right for him, he will support it. The honorable member for Riverina does not wish it to be upset on his own account, nor does the honorable member for Macquarie. The honorable member for Nepean alone has declared that the scheme is not a good one for him, and desires to see it upset.
– I am all right.
– Then why return the scheme to the Commissioners? In the absence of good reasons to the contrary, and seeing that every one appears to be satisfied, I intend to support the proposal of the Government.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In the course of his remarks this morning, the honorable member for Calare stated that when Sir George Grey visited Australia for the purpose of; attending the first session of the Federal Convention, that statesman suggested that the Labour party should adopt adult suffrage in its fighting programme, and the honorable member insinuated that I had opposed it. I then quoted Hansard to show that in 1891 I voted for a resolution in favour of women’s suffrage, and that ten members of the Labour party voted against it. I have since found that I was wrong as to the number of my honorable friends who had opposed it. I have gone through the Hansard again with the honorable member for Robertson, and I have discovered that I ought to have said that twenty members of the Labour party voted against it.
.- As one of those who intends to support the amendment which has been submitted, 1 wish to say that my action is not prompted by a desire to depart any further than is necessary from the principle of one man one vote, and one vote one value. Parliament has already recognised that the circumstances existent in this country are such that the rigid application of that principle may. produce injustices greater than those which it is intended to prevent. The sparse population of our country electorates is in itself a reason why we cannot enforce a rigid application of that principle. When Parliament, in its wisdom, allowed the Commissioners -to depart from the quota to the extent of either one-fifth above or below it, it recognised that that principle was one which must be applied in the light of local circumstances. Therefore, I contend that when I take up a position hostile to this scheme, P cannot be charged with the desire to depart from the principle to. which I have referred any further than Parliament recognised it should be departed from,, if the circumstances warranted it. My objection to the proposed redistribution is that in it the Commissioners have ignored another settled principle. In saying that, I do not C9st any reflection on their honesty, zeal, or determination to arrive at right conclusions. But, notwithstanding their ability and zeal, and .the fact that they are experts, as has been pointed out, “it is impossible that they should be thoroughly conversant with all the local conditions of every division, although they are compelled to take these local conditions into consideration. In determining the boundaries of the Werriwa division, they have not shown an intimate knowledge of local conditions, and have, therefore, not preserved community of interest. They have ignored, in many cases,the associations created by railway connexions, and have not had regard to State electoral boundaries. Werriwa is a striking; example of what the honorable member for Parkes referred to as a “ tongue “ electorate, since it extends from a point 280’ miles inland to within 40 or 50 miles of* the coast. Practically, it is like Euclid’s, definition of a line, “ Length withoutbreadth,” and an electorate bo shaped cannot preserve community of interest and? recognise old political associations. TheBinalong district has been taken out of Werriwa, although only a few miles from< Harden. Binalong has been associated with Burrowa in State politics, and thepeople of the two places trade between one another, and have long been connected’ socially. Then Yass and Bowning havebeen put into the electorate of EdenMonaro, though there is no community of” interest between those places and the* Monaro country, the latter being a coastal district and Yass an inland district. Theinterests of Yass are similar to the interests of parts of the Werriwa division* from which it has been taken. Gunning,, again, is associated with Goulburn, thecentre of the Werriwa division, being connected with it by railway, and having the same political interests. In my opinion,, the Commissioners have followed the railway line too closely. They have taken astrip of land from the northern portion of the old Werriwa division in one place, and*’ in another place have taken a strip from’ the southern portion, and have thus separated communities possessing, by reason of” their callings, the same political interests, and connected by commercial and social ties. Social connexion must always be considered, and, where social ties arestrong, the electors should all be in the same division. I shall vote for the sending - back of the scheme to the Commissionersfor reconsideration. I believe that, werethey to leave in Werriwa some of theplaces that they, propose to take out, moreregard would be paid to community of interest in that division and in the EdenMonaro division as well.
– I wish to say a few words regarding twoobjections which have been raised by thosewho support the amendment. A number of honorable members seem to desire thatall the divisions .shall be of the samenumerical strength, though I cannot under- -stand the advocacy of that view by a country member. This Parliament has approved of the principle of one-man-one-vote and one- vote-one- value ; but, as practical men, we have recognised that to have all the electorates of the same numerical strength is impossible, and would be a denial of that principle. The Commissioners “have, therefore, been empowered, in making a redistribution, to exceed or go below the quota, as the case may require, to an -extent of not more than one-fifth. The quota for New South Wales has been fixed at 34,657, allowing a maximum of 41,588 -and a minimum of 27,726 for a division, and a difference of nearly 14,000 between the maximum and the minimum. This discrepancy has been permitted because it ;has been realized that the difficulties under which country electors labour in recording -a vote makes it impossible for the same number of votes to be recorded in a country division as can be recorded in a city division. In view of this fact, it is surprising to hear the statement that the principle of one-man-one-vote and onevoteonevalue is a reason for sending back this distribution to the Commissioners, and asking them to equalize the numerical strength -of the electors. A stronger reason than any other for not insisting upon having divisions with equal numerical strength is that a large number of the country electorates were recently disfranchised by the abolition of the postal vote. In the city a man can record his vote on his way to work in the morning, or on returning home “in the afternoon.
– Some have not a chance to leave their work.
– That is absurd, remem”bering the hours that the polling booths are “kept open. Very few electors in the city have to spend half-an-hour in recording -their vote, but country electors have often -a long, hard day’s ride to get to the polling booth, and it is often impossible for many women to record their votes at all. If the divisions were of the same numerical strength, the principle of one- vote-one- value would not be recognised in the least. To refer to it is the lame excuse of men who are driven into a corner, and who, if honest, would admit that their objections have no good foundation. We have been told, too, that community of interest should have been more studied, as though all the mining people could be in one division, all the dairying people in another, all the pastoralists in another, and so on. That, of course, is not possible. In my division, for example, there are a certain number of miners, but they, in the view of some honorable members, are disfranchised because the predominating influence is the dairying interest. In the Nepean division we have Lithgow, with its mines and manufactures ; the Blue Mountains, where the industry is fruit-growing ; Penrith, on this side of the mountains, where there is agriculture combined with fruit-growing j and, still nearer the coast, the city influence. Again, in Macquarie, at Orange there is the fruitgrowing interest, at Lucknow the mining interest, at Bathurst the agricultural interest, and, further out, the pastoral interest. In every constituency there must be diversity of interest, all sorts and conditions of people being within the one Boundary. That cannot be avoided. Nor is it possible in making a redistribution to absolutely maintain the old associations. A redistribution presupposes the alteration of boundaries, and the reallotment of electors. That brings me to another point, the claim that the Commonwealth divisional boundaries should follow as closely as possible the State divisional boundaries. In a general way the State divisions should be recognised, but it is impossible to recognise them in every instance.
– There are 90 State electorates and 27 Federal electorates in New South Wales, and if the honorable member can divide 90 by 27 and get an absolutely even result, he is a cleverer man than I am.
– That is too much to expect anybody to be !
– Exactly ; but that is one of the practical difficulties with which we are immediately faced.
– Could not the figures be altered by arrangement with the State?
– That would necessitate a redistribution of seats, with an alteration in the number of members, for the State House, every time it was necessary to have a redistribution for the Federal House, and that would be asking something altogether unreasonable from the States. It is utterly impossible to have the numbers exactly in correspondence, and to make the boundaries coincide in every particular; and, in my opinion, any attempt in that direction would lead to still greater discrepancy in community of interest. The only case, so far as I can see, that has been made out for sending the scheme back to the Commissioners is that presented in connexion with the Barrier electorate. I draw the attention of the honorable member for Riverina to paragraph 10 of the Commissioners’ report -
The divisions of Barrier and Darling present special difficulties, as, owing to their sparse population, immense areas have to be included to obtain even the minimum number of electors required by law. If these two divisions were excluded from the comparison, the range of the proposed divisions would be 6,717.
Every one must admit that the divisions in the western part of New South Wales call for particular treatment, and that they are very difficult to deal with in any way. I grant willingly that, so far as Deniliquin is concerned, there is no community of interest with the Barrier or Broken Hill, but that can be said equally of the whole of the pastoral country north of that place. What would be the position if we adopted the suggestion of the honorable member for Riverina, and took in a considerable part of the western portion of the Darling electorate? Would there be any greater community of interests ? There are, of course, mining centres in both portions; but means of communication, after all, are the greatest factor in community of interest in a large electorate such as this. At certain portions of the year, the only way in which the people could reach Broken Hill from the district referred to would be by travelling round by Sydney and Melbourne, or about 1,500 miles further than the people of Deniliquin are called upon to travel.
– They can travel down the Darling, and get within 70 miles of Broken Hill.
– The honorable member himself pointed out that, at certain seasons, it is impossible to get from Deniliquin and Cobar to Broken Hill; and, so far as the line from Condobolin is concerned, I am confident that we shall see another redistribution before it is completed. As a matter of fact, the part of the country which the honorable member for Riverina suggests should be included would be in a worse position than that part recommended by the Commissioners, so far as means of communication are concerned; and I have no doubt that that was the reason which weighed with the Commissioners. Taking the whole of the circumstances into consideration, honorable members should vote for the scheme which has been submitted. Personally, I am in the happy position that there is practically no change in my elec torate, and in the portion severed from my electorate, the voting is _about equally divided. From a party stand-point, I see no advantage one way or the other under the proposed scheme. It is possible that Parliament will have dissolved before the Commissioners could possibly go over the ground again.
– They have all the data, and could do the work in a fortnight.
– The risk is too great at this stage of the session.
– What does the honorable member think of a Government who would send a scheme back within a fortnight of the dissolution? That was done by the late Government.
– At any rate, considering the enormous discrepancies in New South Wales, we should take no risks, but agree to the scheme as submitted.
– I am not so fortunate as the honorable member for Richmond, because my electorate has been interfered with very considerably. If the scheme submitted is adopted, I shall have to say good-bye to two sections, at any rate, of my present constituents, with a large majority of whom I have been on particularly good terms, politically and personally, during the whole of my life. It is suggested that community of interest has not been sufficiently taken into account in the preparation of this scheme, but who can say that in Illawarra at present there is full community of interest? About one-half of the constituency consists of the dairying and agricultural class, and the other half of the mining class; and wherever redistribution may take place discrepancies of the sort must crop up. Considering how population and the industrial and commercial interests of New South Wales are distributed, I do not see how it is possible to carve out constituencies so as to insure absolute community of interest. We all believe that, as far as possible, the vote of every man and woman should be equal; but in New South Wales, if an election were held on the present distribu tion, we should have a constituency of 22,000 electors with a voting power equal to that of another electorate of 49,000 voters. This is a state of affairs which, in the interests of Democracy, ought to be remedied before the next Federal elections. Some reference has been made to the time when I had the honour to occupy the position of Minister of Home Affairs, and in that capacity introduced a redistribution scheme for Western Australia. It was my duty, as I say, as Minister, to submit that scheme for approval or rejection. It was not a Cabinet or Government matter as we understand the word; and the then Ministers were absolutely free to vote as they pleased. I submitted the scheme in a lengthy speech, giving the fullest information at my command, and I left it to the House to decide the matter, so that, if necessary, the report might be sent back to the Commissioners for amendment. That was the plain simple duty which devolved on me, and I carried it out to the best of my ability. With the exception of a few moments, I have been in the Chamber during the whole of this discussion; and I have not heard any argument sufficiently strong to induce me, notwithstanding the treatment of my constituency, to oppose the scheme submitted by the three Commissioners. The Chairman of those Commissioners is Mr. Frederick Poate, and the other two Commissioners are Mr. Hugh Langwell and Mr. J. G. McLaren. Mr. Langwell is well known as a member of the Western Land Board, and he has probably as large a knowledge of New South Wales as any man in the country; indeed, all three gentlemen are well qualified for the work they undertook. No one has suggested that, in preparing this scheme, they have been influenced by any improper consideration, or that they have not acted to the best of their ability.
– Hear, hear ! We simply say that there has been an error of judgment.
– As to that, nothing has been said during this debate which would warrant either myself or any other member voting against the scheme. Let us consider, for a moment, the complaint made by the honorable member for Riverina in regard to portion of his electorate having been added to the constituency of Barrier. He pointed out that in the chief centre of Barrier there were 30,000 miners, and that scattered over a large area comprising portion of the original electorate of Riverina, which had been added to the electorate of Barrier, there were 15,000 agriculturists and pastoralists. That state of affairs is by no means peculiar to the electorate of Barrier. It exists in the electorate of Illawarra, for instance, and, in my opinion, it is absolutely impossible to make any distribution of New South Wales without some slight conflict of interest. We know “that, under the Act, the Commissioners are bound to take into consideration community of interest, as far as it is possible to do so. In view of the great falling off in the number of electors in the southern constituencies, and particularly in the electorate of Eden-Monaro, it seems to me that it was absolutely impossible for the Commissioners to avoid cutting into Illawarra in order to secure for Eden-Monaro the requisite number of electors. They had also necessarily to cut into the electorate of Werriwa to a certain extent. So far as I am aware there has been no public outcry in New South Wales regarding this redistribution. I have not heard of any large public meeting being held to protest against it. Only one protest came from my own constituency, and that was from Berry, which has hitherto formed part of the southern portion of Illawarra, but has been, added, under this scheme, to the electorate of Eden-Monaro. That protest was forwarded to me by the mayor of the town, and was carried at a public meeting. Whilst I recognise that the trading and commercial interests of Berry, Nowra, and other towns in that district tend towards Sydney rather than towards EdenMonaro, I am bound to admit that the residents of Nowra, Berry, Cambewarra, and other towns in that part of New South Wales have more community of interest, so far as their individual occupations are concerned, with the residents of EdenMonaro than they have with those who reside in the big industrial districts in the northern part of the electorate of Illawarra. Whilst the people of those districts have been separated from the farming communities of Dapto, Jamberoo, Kiama, and Gerringong, they are certainly at one, so far as community of interests is concerned, with the people of Bega, Pambula, and other portions of EdenMonaro. If this redistribution is carried the farming section of the community in Kiama, Jamberoo, Gerringong, and Dapto will have very little hope of having their interests properly represented in competition with the large industrial vote which exists in the northern end of the Illawarra electorate, and which will be increased to a very large extent by the extension of the Illawarra constituency so as to embrace portion of the constituency of Lang, including such industrial centres as Mortlake. It was urged by the honorable member for Werriwa that community of interest has not been considered in determining the boundaries of his electorate, and in support of his contention he mentioned that portion of the electorate of Illawarra had been added to his constituency. Those who are familiar with the country, however, will recognise that the districts which have been transferred from Illawarra to Werriwa - such as Moss Vale, Camden, Picton, and Bowral - have more community of interest with Werriwa than with Illawarra.
– They deal directly with Goulburn.
– I was just about to point out that on sale days at Moss Vale, it is usual to find from 50 to 100 residents of Goulburn doing business there. Likewise, people from Moss Vale, Camden, Picton, and Bowral will be found in the Goulburn saleyards from time to time, and it cannot be denied that, so far as business and social relation are concerned, there is community of interest between the people of these districts and the rest of Werriwa. The honorable member has also objected that the existing railway communication with these districts has not been taken into consideration. I fail to understand how’ he could advance such an argument. We all know that the Great Southern line runs through Camden, up to Picton, Moss Vale, Bowral, and other centres of population which have been added to Werriwa, and enables residents there to communicate with Goulburn, the big centre of the constituency. That being so, the honorable member’s contention falls to the ground. The Commissioners have made the best of a very difficult task. I certainly agree that this should not be made a party or personal matter. It should be dealt with in the interests of the. whole of the electors of New South Wales as part of the Commonwealth.
– It should be made a national question. -
– Undoubtedly. If I were to view this scheme from my own personal stand-point, I should be found in strong opposition to it, since it cuts up into three portions the constituency which I have had the honour of representing since the inception of Federation. In all the circum-. stances, however, I believe the redistribution has been made with due regard to the change in population, and that it more fully meets the interests of the people than does the existing distribution. I do not know what position Ministers are going to take up, but I trust that, before the next general election, the remarkable discrepancy existing between the number of electors in various electorates throughout New South Wales will be remedied, and that we shall endeavour, as far as possible, to see that theprinciple of one man one vote, and one voteone value, can be fully recognised in connexion with the next Federal election.
Question - That the words proposed to beleft out stand part of the motion - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Division 1 (The Senate),£5,953, agreed to.
– I think this is a fitting time to suggest that some action ought to be taken with a view to the framing of permanent Standing Orders. At the present time a very serious responsibility is imposed on Mr.
Speaker, seeing that he is called upon to interpret provisional Standing Orders in conjunction with precedents which have been established in the House of Commons, and -which have been laid down by M ay. Take, for instance, a few of the difficulties in which Mr. Speaker has found himself during the current session. Honorable members will recollect that on one occasion he ruled - in the case of an alternative motion that all the words after “ that “ be left out with a vi’ew to inserting some other words in lieu thereof - that the only matter which honorable members could discuss was the iblank which would be created by the omission. It was pointed out to him that that interpretation would place honorable mem- : bers in a most embarrassing position, but ihis reply was that he had to consider the provisional Standing Orders. It is obvious to honorable members who have been present to-day that he has since ruminated over that decision, and has come to the conclusion that it was not a proper interpretation to place upon our Standing Orders. To-day, when a motion was submitted to leave out all the words after “that,” Mr. Speaker permitted us to discuss both the original motion and the proposition which was intended to take its place in all its ‘bearings.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in discussing in Committee Mr. Speaker’s ruling ?
– At the present time we have under consideration the question of voting the salary of Mr. Speaker, and I would ask the honorable member for Gippsland what other opportunity we have of deabating his powers? Mr. Speaker is not sacrosanct, nor does he occupy the position of a magistrate in a Police Court, against whom nothing may be said by those who practise there. Mr. Speaker is the officer of this House, and it is our duty to accord him respect.
– Is the honorable member discussing the point of order ?
– The point raised by the honorable member for Gippsland is that I am not in order in discussing a ruling of Mr. Speaker when Mr. Speaker is not in the chair.
– My point of order is that the honorable member is not in order in debating a ruling of Mr. Speaker while the House is in Committee.
– I am not discussing the anerits of Mr. Speaker’s rulingper se, but
I am making an incidental reference to it, in order to show that he experiences great difficulty in administering our provisional Standing Orders, and that the only way in which he can be placed in a safe position is by framing Standing Orders which will be Standing Orders in reality. I made a passing reference only to Mr. Speaker’s ruling. I have pointed out that the interpretations which he has placed upon our provisional Standing Orders, in two separate instances, have been diametrically opposed to one another, thus evidencing the difficulty which he experiences. Now that we are voting the salary of Mr. Speaker, I submit that I am in order in embracing the opportunity to review the difficulties of his position.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing under cover of this division any decision given by Mr. Speaker. If he wishes to refer to the necessity which exists for amending our Standing Orders, and in that connexion makes an incidental reference to Mr. Speaker and his difficulties, his remarks will be in order.
– That is all I propose to do. I wish also to point out that our present Standing Orders are somewhat loosely applied, so that honorable members experience great difficulty in knowing exactly where they stand. I recollect one occasion - and the Hansard report bears out my recollection - on which the Prime Minister rose, and said that for certain purposes he moved the adjournment of the debate.
– I moved the adjournment of the debate in order to enable an agreement to be carried out.
– The Hansard report transposes the words, and makes the Prime Minister say “ in order to enable the agreement to be carried out, I move the adjournment of the debate.”
– I will accept the honorable member’s version of it.
– It is not very material. Had the Standing Orders been rigidly interpreted the Prime Minister would have been out of order on that occasion. It is very difficult to differentiate between a speech and a reason, because the power of speech is given us to adduce reasons-
– Or to conceal our thoughts-
– If an honorable member, after making a speech, were to move the adjournment of a debate he would be out of order. Yet the Prime Minister was allowed to do that. But when, after a speech of ten minutes, I wished to submit a similar motion, Mr. Speaker said that I was out of order I admit that he was the arbiter, and that his decision was just. But the difficulty is obvious.
– The honorable member must not question the ruling of Mr. Speaker,
– I am not doing so. I say that Mr. Speaker was right.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is merely canvassing Mr. Speaker’s ruling.
– I am not, but the difficulties of his position must be very great when the Standing Orders do not show him conclusively what he ought to do. It is hard that one honorable member should be ruled out of order after he has spoken for only ten minutes, and that another honorable member should not be ruled out of order under similar circumstances.
– How can the honorable member get at the matter under this item?
– I do not propose to get at it.
– The honorable member ought to say frankly that Mr. Speaker understood me to move the adjournment of the debate first and to make my remarks afterwards. That made all the difference.
– Mr. Speaker said, when I asked a question in the House-
– I must insist on the. honorable member refraining from entering into a debate upon Mr. Speaker’s ruling.
– The Prime Minister has said something which is’ not borne out by the records of this House.
– My statement makes Mr. Speaker right in both cases. That is evidently what he understood, and he had only his own mind to guide him.
– I want him to have Standing Orders to guide him.
– The honorable member . is not fair to Mr. Speaker.
– I do not wish to be unfair to him. His decision in my case was right.
– His decision in the honorable member’s case and in my case was the same, according to what he understood.
– Not according to the
– I must insist on the honorable member refraining from discussing Mr. Speaker’s ruling.
– Mr. Speaker was under the impression that I moved the motion first and made my remarks afterwards.
– If the Prime Minister will look at Hansard he will find that Mr. Speaker was wrong.
– The way in which the honorable member is treating Mr. Speaker is quite unfair. I will put the positionthe other way.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will obtain the permission of the House to read his own statement.
– What was in Mr. Speaker’s mind when he gave the decision?
– How can I say?
– He made a statement which is recorded in Hansard.
– This discussion is altogether irregular.
– I should have finished long ago but for the intervention of the Prime Minister.
There is one other thing ‘ that I wish to mention. I think that when Parliament sits long hours, as it is doing now, its officers should receive an increase to their salaries. If we ask the officers of any other public Department to work beyond the usual hours, we pay them overtime, as a matter of course, and we should pay overtime to our own officers. It is absurd to compel our officers to attend the sittings of Parliament from half-past 10 in the morning until n o’clock at night, and not pay them more than when Parliament meets at half-past 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It is not the fault of the officers that we have to sit long hours, and their extra labour should receive monetary recognition. I hope that the Prime Minister will arrange to make provision for that.
.- -The matter just mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth will be considered. He spoke of the need of altering the Standing Orders, and incidentally referred to two rulings given by Mr. Speaker. I do not accept his statement of the facts, and I do not think it would be borne out by Han sard. My recollection is that Mr. Speaker took my motion as having been moved before I said anything, that I moved the adjournment, and added,’ “ In order that an agreement may be kept.” When challenged, he made that explanation. Therefore, his decision in that case was on the same lines as that in the other case referred to.
– I wish to point out that our messengers are now receiving the same salaries as they were getting some years ago, although the cost of living has risen so much that those salaries represent 20 per cent, less than they did then. Ever since the Labour Government came into power; the purchasing power of their salaries has been steadily decreasing. I do not say that this is cause and effect, because it is said that the same thing is happening all over the world ; but our Arbitration Courts recognise the fact by advancing the wages of workmen who come before them. Our messengers draw small salaries for doing important and confidential work, and no one can say that a senior messenger is too well paid at ,£188 a year. I have always held that these confidential servants are worth more than the salaries allotted to them, because they have a good deal of responsibility. I direct the attention of Mr. Speaker to the fact that they have received no increases of recent years. At the present time, ;£i88 is not worth more than ^150 was worth a few years back. There should, therefore, be some adjustment of these salaries. I am firmly of opinion that the men are long overdue for increases, for no other reason than that the rise in the cost of living has decreased the value of their salaries.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that the statements made by the Prime Minister just now were not correct.
– The honorable member is evading my ruling. I shall not allow him to discuss any decision of Mr. Speaker at this stage. He must take another opportunity to say what he wishes to say.
– The Prime Minister said that the statements which I made were not correct. I refer him to two pages in Hansard, which show that they were correct. On page 41 15 the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
In order that arrangements shall not be broken, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
On page 4185 the Hansard report makes Mr. Speaker say -
The Prime Minister moved the adjournment of the debate referred to, and then made some remarks.
– That is what Mr. Speaker thought, and therefore his decision was correct.
– I said that.
– I think not. The honorable member conveyed a wrong impression to this side of the Chamber.
– I merely stated that the Prime Minister did not do what Mr. Speaker thought that he had done.
– - I” order to test the feeling of the Committee, and because I cannot move an increase, I move -
That the item, “ Senior messengers at £188,” be reduced by £1.
I feel very strongly that our messengers should receive higher salaries. Although the wages of all sorts of employes outside have been increased, the salaries of our officers have not been increased. Those who have fixed salaries have been much more hardly hit than any others by the tremendous increase in the cost of living of recent years.
.- This matter has been brought under the notice of the President and myself on different occasions, and we have gone into it very thoroughly. The cleaners have had two increases since we have been in office, and although the other messengers have not received an increase, we have promised to take the matter into consideration in the framing of the next set of Estimates.
– In the Estimates for 1910-11 the messengers’ salaries were the same as they are now.
– They have not been increased.
– They ought to be increased.
.- I take it that Mr. Speaker will give favorable consideration to the appeal which has been made on behalf of the messengers. I will go further, and ask him to consider the advisability of recompensing all the officers of the House for the additional work put on them by long sittings.
– The increase in the cost of living is sufficient justification for increasing the salaries.
– Yes, that makes a sufficient ground for an appeal, which becomes irresistible when the strain of long sittings is considered. It is hard enough for honorable members to remain here for many hours at a time, but it is still worse for those who have to be in attendance on us. I hope that Mr. Speaker will see that when there is extra work, extra pay is given. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that the rise in the cost of living has received no recognition by Parliament, so far as our officers are concerned, although it has been recognised everywhere outside, and the officers of other public Departments are automatically granted increases. We should set an example to other employers, but we do not do so.
– If the Opposition would go home, Parliament would not have to sit late.
– If it were not for the Opposition, there would not be the whisper of a suggestion about increases to our officers. I hope that Mr. Speaker will give favorable consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I wish to draw attention to the fact that much of the stationery supplied for the use of honorable members is of very poor -quality.
– I agree that that is so.
– There was a change lately, and some of the paper now sup-‘ plied is much better ; but in the case of the envelopes it is impossible to get them to stick without using paste.
– Where is this paper made, I wonder.
– I do not know.
.- Is it proposed to give the House messengers any increase in their pay ?
– They are not to have any increases this year.
– I hope their case will be favorably considered, because, I suppose, no Parliament in Australia works its officers as does this Parliament”. Early in the session we have morning sittings, which are quite a new feature of Parliament life; and, as the burdens of the officers have been increased, they should, like employes outside, receive some consideration.
.- I was pointing out that the note-paper supplied is the greatest rubbish, and it tears with the slightest strain. The better quality paper which was supplied a little while ago has disappeared. Surely the Commonwealth can afford to supply this House with decent writing-paper and envelopes.
.- There has been a great deal of trouble iti regard to the note-paper and envelopes provided for the use of honorable members, a number of whom have waited on me in connexion with the matter. Some steps were taken to obtain paper of a better quality, but, as events turned out, it was fortunate that a full supply was not ordered until it was ascertained how it would be received. Instructions were given that a certain quantity of the old paper and certain quantities of better quality paper should be placed in the various rooms, in order to ascertain how it was received. One result was that honorable members complained that the ink would not run on the good paper, and, further, that the envelopes of the better class paper would not stick. The good paper is largely left, and the inferior paper used; but it is proposed to continue the practice of supplying both kinds until a decided preference is shown. The price of envelopes has risen, I may say, from 9s. 6d. per 1,000 to 28s. ‘and 30s. per 1,000 ; and as we use 104,000 envelopes a year, the increase in the outlay, in consequence of obtaining the better quality, is about £100 per annum. However, every effort will be made to provide the paper that honorable members prefer.
.- I have noticed that the note-paper supplied is of a very uneven quality, but there is nothing in the Estimates to give us any indication whether there is any saving in money by the use of the inferior sort. I find that about 90 per cent, of the envelopes will not stick, but have to be pasted down ; and this may prove very inconvenient under certain circumstances.
.- I am largely influenced by the consideration whether the paper is locally produced or imported, and I am prepared to use the local article, even if it be not up to the English or American, standard. I do not know whether the paper complained about is or is not made in Australia; but, in any case, I cannot understand the honorable member for Richmond preferring note-paper with a surface almost parchmentlike, and presenting great difficulties in writing. If note-paper can be locally produced, and it is good enough for other people, it should be good enough for members of Parliament.
– But is it Australian paper ?
– I think so; but I am not quite sure.
– It is said to be imported.
– I believe that in the Geelong Mills paper is produced good enough for anybody to use, but it is impossible to manufacture locally the superior hand-made paper preferred by the honorable member for Richmond. It is said that there are not in Australia the particular woods necessary to make the very best paper pulp, but paper can be produced sufficiently good for the use of members of this House. I remember that when cards were required for the Electoral Department some prejudice was exhibited against the locallymade article, but the Minister of Home Affairs - and I stood behind him in the matter - insisted on the Australian article being supplied. However, my chief complaint is about the coat-of-arms which appears on our note-paper. I would sooner see a good coat-of-arms on a piece of brown paper than a bad coat-of-arms on the best note-paper. The coat-of-arms which we use is a miserable production, and the person responsible for it ought to give up the business. I understand that there is some difficulty in getting the College of Heralds to arrive at a decision, and that, once they have decided, it takes a long time to induce them to make a change. Let us have a decent Australian coat-of-arms on our writing paper. The kangaroo depicted is most unlifelike, and, as for the poor, unfortunate emu, with its leg tucked up against the Australian shield-
– Could an emu stick up its leg in that way ?
– I do not know ; but I know that an emu can kick out well behind, and pretty well as hard as a horse can.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I am merely pointing out that any man with the slightest artistic bent could produce a better coat-of-arms than ours.
– There is a new coatofarms before the Herald’s College now.
– When will it leave the Herald’s College”?
– After the College has expressed its pleasure.
– I positively feel ashamed to send out note-paper bearing such a coat-of-arms, and it is truly consoling to think that it does not circulate much outside Australia.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong has made an appeal on behalf of Australian paper, and I regret that he did not inform us where writing paper is made in this country.
– In Geelong.
– Is the honorable member aware that writing paper is made also in other mills? I like the “broad national spirit,” but I think we have in Sydney what are known as the Sydney Paper Mills, and I fancy they turn out as good a production as that of Geelong.
– I spoke of Australian paper, not of Victorian paper.
– It is well to show that “ Australian “ means something a little wider than a yard or two from the honorable member’s constituency.
– In what constituency are the Sydney Paper Mills?
– I desire to show anentire absence of anything in the nature of personal interest in this matter. The electorate of Wentworth is not concerned directly with the Sydney Paper Mills, which are in the constituency represented by the honorable member for South Sydney. That honorable member, I am sure, will be delighted that I have risen immediately on hearing the honorable member for Maribyrnong, to point out the rights, and ask for the observance of those rights, of what I think is the best paper mill in Australia.
– The honorable member will agree with me that we ought to insist upon Australian paper being used.
– Provided that the Government does not place itself at the mercy of the paper mill proprietors. If we gave anything in the nature 6f a direction to the Government to use Australian paper at all costs the screw might be put on them ; but we can reasonably ask the Government to give Australian paper a substantial preference.
As to the subject of heraldry, I may say that I have heard my honorable friend in many guises, but that until to-day I was not aware that he was a close observer of the College of Heralds. He is familiar with the habits of the kangaroo and emu, and he declares that in this coatofarms the emu is asked to do something which in private life it would never dream of doing. The habits of heraldic animals, however, are not altogether founded on established fact, and it is not the fault of the College of Heralds that the emu in this case is asked to do something which in ordinary circumstances would horrify it. It seems to me that the emu and the kangaroo are hardly symbolic of the best qualities of the Australian people. They have the smallest heads of any of the animal kingdom. Is that a mark of the Australian people ?
– At all events, the kangaroo, I understand, cannot put his tail between his legs.
– The emu and the kangaroo are so built that they hardly fit into the heraldic atmosphere, and I think we make ourselves ridiculous when we endeavour to carry on the traditions of the Old World with some of the wild creations of our Australian fauna.
As to the note-paper controversy, I think that the paper provided for our use is not as good as it might be. It is certainly not as good as can be obtained in any stationer’s shop. The envelopes are the worst that I have ever been asked to use. They are absolutely without gum, and one spends as much time in gumming down an envelope as one should have to spend in gumming down a dozen. It would be well to sell the envelopes that we have in stock. Students of heraldry might be glad to buy them for the sake of the coat-of-arms imprinted on them. They might regard them as interesting souvenirs; but the envelopes are no good for practical purposes. We should endeavour to have some made by a manufacturer who realizes that gum is, after all, ari important part of the building of an envelope. I .would ask the honorable member for Capricornia, who has been in the journalistic profession, and consequently realizes the value of a paper that can be easily torn up, to give us the benefit of his judgment upon this question. The honorable member for Maribyrnong says that the easier a paper is to tear up the better it is for writing purposes. I have not tried the ribbed paper, but I have the other, and find that the difficulty is not in writing on it, but in getting it to hang together. It shows a disposition to dissolution which is not characteristic of the Australian Parliament.
– The honorable member, at all events, must support my suggestion as to the use of Australian paper.
– I am willing to support the honorable member with regard to the output of the Sydney mills, although they are not in my electorate. I hope that Mr. Speaker will see that the new envelopes are properly gummed. I do not care much about the quality of the paper, but I do want a serviceable article.
.- ;I do not know why there should be all this controversy about a very minor matter of note-paper. We are simply wasting a lot of time in discussing it.
– Is the honorable member in order in making that statement?
– The honorable member is not in order in reflecting on other honorable members.
– I am quite prepared to withdraw and apologize. In this matter, I think that we have the case of a bad workman complaining of his tools. The note-paper is as good as any man could wish to use if he is able to write a decent hand. Many honorable members who write a hand that it is almost impossible to read wish to blame the paper for their own shortcomings. Some complain that the paper used in making the envelopes is too thin, and that their writing is visible through the envelopes. As to the coat-of-arms, I see nothing very wrong with it. It is certainly Australian in character. The kangaroo’s tail is, perhaps, a little short, but I do not know that any other fault can be found with the device. The note-paper is so tough that one could almost make a shroud out of it. I think that a lot of time has been wasted in discussing this matter. Surely honorable members do not want a coat-of-arms emblazoned in gold, at great cost, on the official note-paper.
– No. We want a better kangaroo and emu in the device.
– Both are well proportioned, and I see no reason for complaint. As to the note-paper, it is good enough for me, and it seems to me that the whole complaint is a farce.
.- I am sorry that the honorable and gallant member for North Sydney should have confessed that this note-paper is good enough for anything that he wishes to place upon it. It certainly will not last long if he puts something on it. The honorable and gallant gentleman has told us that the envelopes are so very thin that it is easy to see through them.
– I desire to know if the honorable member is in order in continually referring to me as “ the honorable and gallant gentleman”? I object to these adjectives being attached to my name. I insist that I should be referred to as “ the honorable member for North Sydney.”
– It is the parliamentary practice to apply the term “ honorable and gallant” to a man with military standing. “
– I would refer you, sir, to the practice of the House of Commons, where the custom is to refer to any honorable member as the honorable member for so-and-so.
– I have already referred to the practice of the House of Commons, and I can assure the honorable member that my statement is correct.
– I think I have said all that is necessary in regard to the paper which is supplied to honorable members. I hope Mr. Speaker will see that in future we are supplied with a paper with a face which will take the pen, whilst being of a somewhat durable quality.
– What is wanted apparently is an intermediate paper.
– Exactly. My main complaint, however, has reference to the absence of gum from the envelopes.
.- I quite agree with the observations of the honorable member for Maribyrnong in regard to the quality of the paper which is supplied to honorable members. We frequently get good writing-paper, but we often get rubbish. I would like to indorse the statement of the honorable member for Wentworth in regard; to the envelopes. These are so bad that one often has to use half-a-dozen before he can obtain one which will securely enclose his letter. Then if one retires to the Library in order that he may write his letters in quietude, he cannot procure an envelope which has not upon.it a number of useless words such as “ On His Majesty’s Service,” and at the foot of it “ The Library,” with the . form . for a date. These words are wholly, unnecessary, and cause a great deal of trouble, because if an honorable member wishes to write a private letter from the Library, he has either to score out the whole of them, or to give the letter an official appearance, for which there is no justification. With regard to the cost of the paper, I differ from the honorable member for Maribyrnong. As a Free Trader, I advocate purchasing our note-paper where we can obtain the best value for our money. We ought not to accept Australian-made paper merely because it is Australian-made. If the Australian mills can manufacture as good an article as can be obtained elsewhere, by all means let us purchase it, and give it a preference, but not otherwise. With regard to the heraldic portion of our envelopes, it is certainly not artistic, but the attitude of the animals which are there displayed is not a question which may be raised in connexion with heraldic matters. Otherwise we might object to the presence of the unicorn on the British coat of arms, since an unicorn has never existed in this world. One has to accept the conventional form and unnatural ‘attitudes of these animals, and I suppose we do so without criticising them because of their constitutionality and antiquity. The two objections which I wish to voice are that some of our note-paper is of a rubbishy character, and that our Library stationery is much more’ expensive than it need be because of the unnecessary matter that is printed upon it. .
– - I wish to say a few words on this great national question which affects so profoundly the destinies of Australia. I do not know where our note-paper comes from. Perhaps Mr. Speaker can tell us who is the contractor for the supply of it?
– The Government Printer.
– Does he make it?
– I understand that most of it is imported, that it is cut to size here, and that the envelopes are made in Australia.
– I am inclined to think that my friends who complain so much about the quality of the notepaper supplied to us might have something very much more important to complain of. I do not experience any trouble with it. But the envelopes which we get are the invention of Satan. I have given up the idea of sticking them. I overcome the difficulty by at once resorting to the paste-pot. That saves time and trouble, because after one has done his best he ultimately has to resort to the paste-pot. It is peculiar that no trouble on this account is experienced elsewhere.One may enter any stationer’s shop in Melbourne, and purchase an envelope which is perfectly satisfactory. People must go out of their way to supply us with stationery which is not good. A little while ago complaints were made regarding the quality of the note-paper supplied to honorable members, and we were assured that afterwards a better quality was supplied. I did not appreciate the improvement, but a number of my friends who have finer tastes told me that the stationery which was supplied after those complaints were made was very much better than it had been. I wrote my letters on a superior paper, and enclosed them in superior envelopes, and then found that I could read all that I had written through the envelopes. I certainly did complain of that to Mr. Speaker. We ought” at least to be furnished with envelopes which will render the writing in our letters invisible. Some of the note-paper in our Parliamentary Library is as thick as an ordinary pen, and it will almost break before it can be folded up.
– lt is good paper, though.
– I do not call that good paper. Lately a Committee was appointed in the House of Commons, at the instance of Mr. Lloyd-George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to investigate the Estimates. That gentleman frankly told the House that he could not follow the authorities of Parliament to expend money, and see that its intention was carried out. He, therefore, asked that a Committee should be appointed to deal with the Estimates, and that course was adopted. A Committee of Accounts has also been’ appointed for the purpose of investigating account matters. Strange to say, one of their first reports, which was made a month or two ago, has reference to the supply of note-paper to the House of Commons. Mr. t Speaker talks of the expenditure of £100 here as if it would bankrupt the Commonwealth. But the report in question shows that for note-paper and stationery, the expenditure of the House of Commons alone, amounts to ,£9,000 a year. They have discovered that, because each Minister selects his own brand of note-paper, the cost of supplying this article is increased by £2,000 a year. Apparently, the Imperial Ministers have expensive tastes in note-paper. The Committee recommend that the same kind of note-paper should be used by every one. These small expenses, in the aggregate, amount to a great deal, and we might, in all seriousness, follow the example of the House of
Commons. I find that there are sixty-sis items in these Estimates relating to incidental and petty cash expenditure, the sums so appropriated ranging from £2 to £5,000, and totalling £45,000. No one knows how this money is spent. Then, there is an enormous expenditure under the heading of “ Contingency, “ and,, again, the entry “ Miscellaneous “ shows its head everywhere throughout the Estimates. Under these three headings the expenditure must be very large indeed. One would think that two or three petty cash accounts would be enough for any Department j but some of them have ten or a> dozen. This is a convenient way of pro; viding for the spending of money without the knowledge of Parliament.
– I do not think so. Every business must keep petty cash accounts,, and every Department.
– The number of these accounts must depend on the size and nature of the business.
– In my judgment, we badly need a Committee to investigate the spending of the Departments. The House of Commons has found it of advantage to have an investigation into its expenditure, and we might well follow itsexample. The sooner we get a Committee of Accounts the better.
– They have similar Committees in the State Parliaments.
– Yes, and they do useful work. Such a Committee is more necessary here, because we have no Public Works Committee, and everything is left to Ministers. It is no reflection on Ministers to say that they cannot investigate in detail the expenditure of their Departments, and Parliament has no check. Having voted the money, we do not know how it is spent, so far as small details are concerned ; and in big businesses, details often make the difference between profit and loss. The sooner we make a change the better. The honorable member for Wentworth the other night spoke of the Committees connected with the French’ Parliament. The House of Commons Committee has pointed out that there are eighteen Grand Committees in France.
– They do a great deal of the detailed work of Parliament.
– Yes. There are two Grand Committees which do nothing but investigate foreign affairs; and quite a number of Committees give attention to Treasury matters. No doubt their work is useful in informing Parliament how money is spent, and in advising the Ministers as to how Estimates should be framed.
– The honorable member is making a general speech.
– I do not think that I am going beyond the question before the Chair. A great deal has been said about the quality of our note-paper, and the discussion reminded me of the report of the House of Commons to which I have referred. It is estimated that a saving of some thousands of pounds will be the result of the investigations of the House of Commons Committee, and a Committee to investigate our expenditure would also do valuable work. Its appointment is the more needed because we have no check upon our expenditure. Such a Committee could obtain information regarding the way in which money is expended on telephone tunnels, the purchase of steel rails, and other matters about which we can get no information, and in regard to which our inquiries are regarded as a deep and dark political conspiracy.
– I shall try to get the honorablemember any information that he desires if he will tell me what it is. I look into as many of these matters as I can.
– I am sure that the right honorable member does that. My remarks are quite impersonal. Committees of the kind to which I refer have been established in every country in which government has become complex. Ministers cannot poke their noses into questions of detail, and are not paid to do so. Their business is to direct the general policy of the Departments.
– The honorable member is now speaking at large.
.- Some years ago I had the privilege of inventing a security envelope, for which I got a lot of kudos and praise, though not much cash. My investigations showed me that it is very easy to open ordinary envelopes, especially when made of stiff paper, to which the gum does not adhere very well. It is not so easy to open envelopes made of paper of poor quality. In the case of the thick, expensive paper, the gum does not act so well as in the case of the ordinary paper, which is good enough for anybody to use. I cannot see where the advantage is in having every single sheet of note-paper embossed. Of course, in the case of collectors, such specimens of parliamentary paper might be of some value, but, as one who, I suppose, has the largest correspondence of any private member - I have over 7,000 letters filed since last election - I do not think that the majority of those who receive letters addressed from this House take any notice of the coat-of-arms. We may take it, I think, that the embossing costs about twice as much as the printing of a similar design. There is no doubt that the coatofarms might be more artistically designed. Under all the circumstances, I regard the cheapest stationery as much more commonsense and businesslike.
Proposed vote agreed to.
.- I observe that the number of typists has been reduced from six to four, and I should like to know the reason why.
.- There were appointed originally six permanent typists, and now there are only four, owing to the fact that two have resigned and gone to other Departments. A desire was expressed that additional appointments should be of a temporary character, and two temporary typists have been engaged to make up the staff.
Proposed vote agreed to.
.- I take it that this division covers the invaluable Petherick collection at present housed in the basement. It is to be regretted, - though I do not think this is the fault of the Library Committee - that this collection should be hidden away in the way it is. Whenever I have visitors to Parliament House, this collection is one of the first things I show them. The early historical records are the most profoundly interesting of anything connected with our Parliament ; and I am afraid that they may be spoiled if they are constantly handled. Under the circumstances, some provision ought to be made for their protection under glass. There are documents in the collection which, if I had them in my personal possession, would be protected in a very different way. There are a number of prints, coloured and uncoloured, which were issued when New South Wales was the entire colony on the eastern coast, and which are of unique interest. It would be worth while expending any sum of money within reason to insure that these are safeguarded in such a way that people may look on them without handling them.
– I suppose the honorable member means some protection like that afforded by the cases in the British Museum?
– I am not an expert on the question, and I am quite prepared to leave the matter to the Library Committee, the members of which, I am sure, realize the importance of the collection, and would welcome any grant that might be made.
– Is there any space in which to adequately house the collection ?
– I shall be glad to find money at any time for the purpose, if it be necessary.
– If it is a question of room, we ought to endeavour to make some provision of a temporary character.
– Negotiations have been opened up with .the State Government in regard to the utilization of the north wing of Parliament House for the housing of this collection.
– I hope those negotiations will soon be satisfactorily concluded. I should like to draw particular attention to the pamphlet records. Mr. Petherick, in his long life, has collected pamphlets dealing with all sorts of matters of Australasian interest, and these, I think, ought to be bound.
– They are very interesting as they are.
– I do not think that collectors would approve of the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– If the pamphlets are bound they lose their identity.
– I think that they could be bound in such a way as not to lose their identity. These pamphlets, of course, were not printed to last, but were thought to be of merely immediate contemporaneous value. I am referring more particularly to the pamphlets dealing with New Zealand, the Islands, and so forth; and I fancy they could easily be bound, separately if that be desired. Otherwise, I am afraid, these documents will simply fall to pieces in time.
– lt might be advisable to reprint the rare pamphlets and safeguard the originals.
– Quite so, and I take this opportunity to bring the question under the notice of Parliament. This collection is invaluable, and its interest ought to be realized more than it is at present.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes) [6.26l - I hope that the advice of the honorable member for Wentworth will not be followed. If we consulted the Archivist himself, or any experienced collector, we should be told that the pamphlets have their great value because qf their age and scarcity, and because they are in their original form. We all know the extent to which bibliomania is carried. Original books sometimes attain greater value because they have never been cut; and I have known many cases in which engravings, worth hundreds of pounds, have completely lost their value because the edges have been cut for the purpose of framing. I readily admit that this mania may be carried too far for practical people, but, at the same time, the pamphlets are the contents of our archives, and they derive their value from their original form, and we ought to hesitate before we disfigure them’ in any way, even by binding them. There is another matter te* which I desire to call attention. The Prime Minister, I know, sympathizes with the attempt which the Archivist has been making during the whole of his life to prepare a bibliographical index to Australianliterature. Mr. Petherick has spent a verylong period in indexing the literature which* has a bearing on Australia in all stages of its history.
– I have seen the index.
– Most of us have seen it, and I know of what enormous value such a work will be to the world. Every library would possess itself of a copy if it were printed. Mr. Petherick has made his work the idol of his life, and we know from personal conversations with him that he could in a very shorttime have the first part ready for publication, and could afterwards proceed to’ keep the record up to date. I should like the Prime Minister to consult with Mr. Petherick as to the preparation of the first part for printing.
– As the matter is under the control of the Library Committee, I” should like that body to take the initiative.
– T hope that Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee, will take the matter in hand. Mr_
Petherick, like all men of his stamp, is exceedingly modest, and disinclined to push himself forward in a public way. He may speak privately to many people, but I distinguish between that and a desire for publicity. Mr. Petherick should be encouraged in every way to bring his work before the public. He is a man of years, and we may lose him at any moment; and, in my opinion, there is not another man in Australia who could more ably complete this work for printing. We ought, therefore, to avail ourselves of his presence here ; and, in my opinion, this would prove one of the most valuable publications that has ever gone out of Australia. The value of a particular branch of the Library to which the honorable member for Wentworth has referred cannot be overstated, but we ought to remember that the present habitation is only a temporary one. In a few years we shall have our own establishment, and then, as in the case of the Mitchell Library, accommodation can be provided worthy of the collection. I ask honorable members to remember that “Mr. Petherick is getting into years, and, while he is in health, he ought to be encouraged to issue this publication for the benefit of the world and the reputation of Australia. Mr. Petherick ought to be enabled to continue from day to day, so that, by-and-by, we may have the credit and glory of producing, through him, the finest bibliographical index to the history of the Australian continent.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- The subject of our Library has been raised by several honorable members, and special reference has been made to the Petherick Collection. The Commonwealth is to be congratulated upon the possession of such a magnificent collection as that made by Mr. Petherick, to whom we are deeply indebted for his gift to the nation. If Mr. Petherick had not been, not only a booklover, but a man of considerable discretion and ability, his wonderful collection would never have been obtained. There was a danger of it being dissipated and scattered over the libraries of the world ; but, fortunately, Mr. Petherick, with great public spirit, entered into a contract with us to take his collection as a gift to the nation, and in return for his action we appointed him Commonwealth Archivist. The Parliament accepted the -gift in the spirit in which it was offered. We ought to try to preserve this magnificent collection in our Library in the Federal Capital, and to supplement and build it up in every possible way, so that we may have in the Capital of the Commonwealth the best historical material that can be gathered for the use of those who in the future will be called upon to write the story of early Australia. This collection is important, not only from a literary, but from a geographical and scientific point of view. Honorable members would do well to let it be known outside that Mr. Speaker will be pleased to accept from the public generally books, documents, or written records of value as going to make up the history of Australia. A great deal of our early history is probably to be found in written letters forming part of private correspondence in the early days. If many of those documents which are now only in manuscript could be ‘collected and presented to Mr. Speaker as a. gift to the nation, valuable additions would be made to the wealth of historical matter which we now possess. As Chairman of the Library Committee Mr. Speaker thoroughly realizes his responsibility in respect of the works now in our possession. I speak from my knowledge of his action as Chairman of the Library Committee, and am able to say that he has taken all possible steps to properly safeguard the collection. He has readily acceded to any requests made by Mr. Petherick for additional glass casing or improved cupboards or drawers for the storing of his collection, and in so doing I am sure has only carried out the will of the Parliament. If Mr. Petherick lets it be known that any volumes in his collection require to be bound, in order to insure their preservation, the Committee will be pleased to take whatever steps are necessary to preserve them intact. At the same time it is open to question, as suggested by an honorable member, whether it would be wise to bind all our pamphlets together in book form. Before they are bound they should at least be classified: but whilst we are still engaged in the process of collecting, it would’ be a mistake to bind them. That should not be done until the collection is complete. Until we reach the Federal Capital this Library must remain in a more or lessfloating condition. We cannot attempt to treat it as if finality had been reached. I hope that it is only the germ of thefuture library of Australia. I sincerely trust that the suggestion made, by way of interjection, by . Mr. Speaker, will be ultimately carried out, and that a special portion of the Commonwealth Library, wherever it is to be located, will be ;set apart for Australian works. The Petherick Collection will, of course, form the basis of the Australian Library, and should be supplemented in every way. To do that we must back up Mr. Speaker’s efforts, and solicit from the public gifts of books, pictures, plates, maps, prints, And manuscript that are likely to cast any flight upon Australian history or geography ind the science and public life of this continent. I hope that that idea will be adopted. We have made an excellent beginning. Mr. Speaker has also taken a very keen interest in the preservation of the historical records in our possession. There iia on these Estimates an item relating to :that matter. The work of going through our historical records, and of collecting, indexing, and . publishing them in proper historical form, as being .proceeded with most efficiently, -and in time to come these records will be invaluable to those interested in Australian ^history. Those who have examined them :must have been astounded at the mass of magnificent material that we have in our Library; but a lot of literary and his.torical work has yet to be done in order that we may gain an adequate knowledge of our history. For instance, the life of William, Charles “Wentworth, the first Australian patriot, who formulated for us the right of trial by jury in Australia, and stood up for the liberty of the press, has not yet been’ fully written.
– Let us call the Federal Capital “ Wentworth.”
– There is yet another page in our history to be recorded. Wentworth laid the foundations of responsible -.government in Australia. He fought for it with the Imperial authorities in the Old “Country, and carried the Bill which he “himself had formulated. His career has yet to be written. A good, but small, “book has been written, but there has not 7et been published in, this continent a complete and detailed biographical account of Wentworth and his magnificent work as a statesman. We young Australians do not know yet the pioneering work that was done iri this continent, not merely in opening up the country, but in developing the political liberties which we now enjoy.
The Library which we are now collecting will be invaluable as a source of enlightenment in this respect. There is ample scope for men of literary gifts for original research in Australia. A tribute in this respect should be paid to one of our own Hansard staff for his excellent work. I do not suggest, however, that it will supersede the Mitchell Library, which is undoubtedly ‘ the premier collection in Australia and which, I hope, will continue to expand. Those who have been privileged to go through that Library must have recognised the wonderful work done by Mr. Mitchell, but, whilst it continues to grow, we shall not be absolved from the duty of seeing that our own Library is developed. We are fortunate in the fact that Mr. Speaker has ably followed up the splendid energy displayed by the late Mr. Speaker Holder in this regard. He has been unremitting in his zeal to safeguard the Library, and to do everything possible to make it an efficient instrument for the assistance of those who are working here in the interests of the nation. It is not often” that we have an opportunity to express our gratitude to him, and I, as a member of the Library Committee, may, perhaps, be pardoned for paying this tribute of praise to the work that he is doing in this respect.
– The remarks made by the honorable member for Darling Downs are well worthy of consideration. There are in Tasmania some rare and very valuable historical works relating to the early days of New South Wales and Tasmania which we should endeavour to secure. There are but few copies obtainable, and if they are lost they will be lost to us for all time.
– Some of them would be better left in Tasmania.
– That remark is quite uncalled for. These works show what has been done by men of whom, I am sorry to say, the rising generation know very little, but who, undoubtedly, did much to secure the liberties that we have to-day. It would be a public calamity if these records were lost. The Parliamentary Librarian, when he next visits Tasmania, or some authorized agent, should spend some little time in endeavouring to secure these rare records, which ought to be in the National Library.
– Does not the honorable member think that they would Le worth purchasing?
– Certainly ; and the price demanded would be relatively so small as to be scarcely worthy of consideration.
– The Librarian would get a lot of valuable works in Brown’s Curiosity Shop.
– Some very valuable works were obtained there for the proverbial song, and could be purchased at a reasonable price if they were traced to the people holding them.
– One of the most valuable copies of Burns’ works was sold in a halfcrown package.
– Other valuable works have been obtained in the same way. We have in our Library a book in which honorable members are invited to make suggestions as to works which should be added to the collection. In this book I have made only two suggestions. One was that a copy of Black America, which was written by a special correspondent of the Times, who was sent over to deal with the negro question in the United States of America, and which would be of great interest to supporters of the White Australia policy, should be purchased. Any Australian who reads Black America will recognise that it would be a calamity for Australia to run the risk of having in this continent the state of affairs that has arisen in America from the introduction of negroes. I suggested some years ago that a copy of that work should be obtained, but it has not yet been purchased. I also suggested that a book dealing with the rise and fall of the Confederacy of the American States, which gives a very valuable insight into a matter of great importance to Australia - the relative powers of the States and the Federation - should be placed on the Library shelves. It is one of the most valuable works of the kind that has been written; but this suggestion also has not been adopted. There are certain standard works that should be in the Library, but are not to be found there. I do not wish to find fault with the Library Committee, but I think an effort should be made to secure books dealing with matters which the people and the legislators of Australia have to consider in their every-day political lives. I would suggest that the Library Committee should allow their attention to cover a much wider scope than it has hitherto done. We are accumulating a very valuable Library, but a great deal more might be accomplished in the direction of securing works of reference, which would not becostly and which would be almost invaluable to us.
.- I? desire to refer to a new feature connected* with our Parliamentary Library. I alludeto the art collection which, of late, hasbeen growing rapidly. For instance, thereare the excellent reproductions of someof the old masters by Mr. Mortimer Menpes, which are now, quite inappropriately, interfering with the chaste beauty of the Queen’s Hall. Those reproductions would be perfectly beautiful if properly housed ; but, at present, they seem todetract from the white simplicity of thevery fine hall which is to be found in thecentre of this building. Such important details as the light which is required toset off a picture, have, owing to theexigencies of the situation, been entirelyoverlooked. Those are considerations whichare worthy of the attention of the LibraryCommittee.
A good many complimentary things1 have been said in regard to the Petherick Collection, but not one word which istoo complimentary. Personally, I doubtwhether our treatment of the aged1 Archivist is sufficiently considerate. ‘ That, old man, to whose life-long devotion weowe this great collection, spends his days in» a gloomy vault, without an assistant. P do not know whether he desires an assistant, because I have not discussed the matter with him, although I am one of thefew persons who visit the Petherick. Library ; but I think we ought to give him some assistance.
– Those books ought to be housed in the top story of this building, where the newspapers are kept now.
– I think so; but I do noR know what we could do with the bookswhich are there, and which belong to theVictorian Parliament. We must recollectthat we owe it to the generosity of theVictorian people that we are in this building.
An Honorable Member. - We ought to> get to Yass-Canberra.
– We ought to do so assoon as possible. In the interests of the– Petherick Collection, and of the aged Archivist, we ought to provide better housing accommodation for that collection. If we are not careful, we shall find that the damp of the cellar which the books occupy will detrimentally affect some of the manuscripts- and records. I see that some provision is made on these Estimates for the employment of one temporary clerk, and three temporary messengers, in our Library. These men are temporary employes because it is recognised that we are temporarily in occupation of this building, and because it is thought that when we leave it there will be less work for those who are engaged in our Library to perform. I do not hold that view. If the Library Committee are up to their work, three years hence, when we ought to be in Yass-Canberra, we shall have acquired a Library the looking after of which will require the services of, at least, one clerk and three assistant clerks. I do not think that the system of engaging temporary clerks and messengers is a good one to adopt in connexion with any Library. These men ought to be made permanent. I notice, too, that a cataloguer is employed. He is the only man who is receiving any increase outside of the temporary messengers. The whole matter requires looking into, from the housing of the Library down to the employment of temporary clerks in the Library. Reference has been made to the Mitchell Library, and to the greatness of that collection. It is a collection the comprehensiveness of which I hope will be equalled by our own collection in the course of a year or two; but we cannot, at present, hope to give our Library that recognition which New South Wales has bestowed upon her Library. That State has erected a great public building in which to house her Library, and we cannot do that because we are merely in temporary possession of this building. At the same time, we ought to do something to allow the public to appreciate, the importance of the Mitchell Collection. The Library Committee have been paying more attention to subscriptions to newspapers, periodicals and annuals than they have been to the purchase of books, maps, plates, periodicals, documents, &c. This year it is proposed to expend £320 in subscriptions to newspapers, periodicals and annuals, as against £200 which was appropriated for the purpose last year - an increase of £120 - whereas, of the sum of £1,800 voted last year for the purchase of new books, maps, plates and documents, only £598 was expended. Similarly, upon the collection of Australian historical records, the expenditure of £650 was authorized last year, of which sum only £150 was spent.
– It will be expended this year.
– This year we are appropriating only £650 under that heading. I draw attention to these matters, and hope that no effort will be spared to add to the Commonwealth Collection; otherwise, we shall find, when we leave this building, that, outside of the Petherick Collection, we shall have, practically, no ordinary Library of our own. That collection is purely an Australian collection of records. I recognise that one of its most interesting features is the collection relating to the South Sea Islands, which is probably more complete than is any similar collection in the world. Outside of the Petherick Library, our general Library is extraordinarily small, and no effort should be spared to supplement it.
– I should like to know who is responsible for the books we have in our Library.
– Mr. Petherick is responsible for the majority of them.
– I am referring to the works of fiction. Unfortunately, as the result of illness, I have been obliged to indulge in a good deal of light reading, and I confess that I cannot find in our Library a novel which is worth reading. Other honorable members to whom I have spoken make the same complaint. An arrangement, I believe, has been made by Mr. Speaker under which, when we visit Sydney, we can obtain almost any book that we want. Why is it that we cannot do the same thing here? We are told that Mullen’s does not keep them.
– I suppose because that class of literature is supposed not to be worth reading.
– I do not know to what class of book the honorable member refers. It does seem an anomaly that we cannot get a decent novel in our Parliamentary Library. Who is responsible for the selection of these books?
– The Library Committee.
– As no information seems to be forthcoming, I move -
That the proposed vote be reduced by £%.
.- Complaints have been made before about the quality of the fiction supplied to the Library, and I understood that an attempt was to be made to improve it, but according to the honorable member for Eden-
Monaro, there has not been an improvement. 1 rise to ask for information regarding the£650 set down for the collection of Australian Historical records. No doubt it is important that the Commonwealth should collect original and reliable data for the history of Australia. It can do that better than any private person. I hope that at the end of the year we shall have something tangible to show for this expenditure. What I wish to know is whether any special purchase is now in view. Last year only £150 was spent.
– Far more will be spent this year.
.- The collection of Australian historical records is one of the biggest works yet undertaken in this country. Some years ago the New South Wales Government published eight volumes, containing official records dealing with the early history of New South Wales, which covered the early history of Australia and embraced the period from the foundation of the colony to 181 1. A large amount of data, covering the period from 181 1 to 1830, was also collected in England and throughout Australia, but was uncollated and unindexed, and the Commonwealth Government undertook the work of putting it into order. For the past ten or eleven years the collating, indexing, and sorting of this material has been in progress under the direction of Mr. Bladon, who edited some of the volumes to which I have referred. He was to have carried the publication on to the year 1830, under Commonwealth supervision, but unfortunately fell ill, and for twelve or eighteen months before his death the work remained in abeyance. Since then we have been fortunate in securing the services of Dr. Watson, who has undertaken the task of editing the unpublished records, and intends to prepare three or four volumes a year. In all, some twenty-five or thirty volumes will be issued, over a period of several years. The intention is that the Commonwealth shall carry out the collection and publishing of records down to 1856, when responsible government was established, and that the Governments of each State will be asked to compile their own archives from that date onwards, the Commonwealth Government doing the same work in regard to the Commonwealth archives. When this work has been finished. Australia will have its history complete from the beginning, and will be the only nation in the world in that position. Supplementary to the eight volumes which have been published will be a volume of documents which have since come to light, and belong to the period they cover. That volume will soon be published, and by January or February next we hope to have the first volume of the second series in the hands of the printer. The printing is being done by the Government Printer of New South Wales, and Dr. Watson is now engaged on the big task of going through the records that have been collected. When I mention that there were 1 50 three-bushel bags of records in one office, and that each paper has to be studied separately, honorable members will realize how enormous the task is. A report received from Dr. Watson a week or ten days ago contained the very agreeable news that, although it had been thought that only eleven original documents relating to the first period were in the possession of the New South Wales Government, he has discovered about 160. I have not the slightest doubt that this work when completed will be one of the greatest historical importance. It is necessary that the work ‘should be pushed on, because, notwithstanding every precaution, the records may be destroyed by fire or other agency, and could not be replaced.; Regarding the supply of fiction to the Library, there is always a difference of opinion as to what books should be taken. Very little fiction is added permanently to our collection, but we have made an arrangement with a. Mel bourne firm of booksellers to supply us regularly with all the new fiction. This we keep for six months, and get a discount on the volumes ‘ returned, if they are in a fair state of preservation. But it often happens that a member asks for a novel that has been sent back, and we cannot secure it for him without buying it. If we buy it, we have no further use for it after he has read it.
– Why cannot we have the . same arrangement as they have in Sydney ?
– The Library Committee would be only too pleased to make a similar arrangement were it the wish of honorable members, because it would save library space, and relieve our officials of a good deal of responsibility. I understand that the Sydney arrangement is to allow members to go to the lending libraries and select what books they require. If members wish the Library Committee to make similar arrangements here, it is prepared to do so, but I am afraid that if that were done members would complain that the books they needed were not obtainable on the premises.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) [8.42J.- I am glad to hear what Mr. Speaker nas had to say about the progress of the work -of collecting the Australian historical records. I wish to put in a plea on behalf of the records relating to the Federal movement, in regard to which we should specialize, and of which we have every reason to be proud. Special attention might well <be given to the collection of all records relating to that important movement. Efforts -should be made to secure original letters written by well known Federalists, reports -of important speeches made at the beginning or during the progress of the movement, accounts of large public meetings held in connexion with it, and other similar records. In this way we could build up a splendid literature on the subject, and perpetuate the names of a large number of persons who rendered valuable service, but, <not having won the laurels of parliamentary (honours, may otherwise sink into oblivion. Presidents and secretaries of Federation leagues did good work’, and contributed -much to the literature and the success of »the Federal movement. The Committee should place itself in communication with these persons, and ask whether there are in -their possession original documents, reports of important speeches, and other records showing the progress of the movement.
– It would be most valuable to be able to trace the development of the Federal idea.
– What I suggest has been done in America, where a splendid literature on the subject has been compiled, and in it the names of men who would otherwise have been forgotten have been -embalmed. The workers who have helped to lay the foundations and build up such -great ideas are deserving of honour; and I hope Mr. Speaker will avail himself of an opportunity to issue some circular or advertisement inviting people to send in records as gifts or for sale. I- know that there is a large number of very valuable original letters in the possession of private individuals that ought to be secured.
– In my opinion, the explanation of Mr. Speaker is most unsatisfactory. It is admitted by honorable mem<bers, and some members of the Library Committee, that a good novel cannot be secured, but that only rubbish is supplied.
One honorable member has complained that the books on the table are interfering with his morals, and in saying this I do not wish to be understood as referring to the honorable member for Calare. If we are to have works of fiction, why cannot we have such works as can be obtained at any of the private libraries down town? .
– There is the Encyclopædia Britannica in the Library.
– And Hansard - what more does the honorable member want ?
– Some honorable members may be satisfied with their Bible, Hansard, and the Encyclopaedia Brittannica, but I spend a good deal of my time in reading, -and, in my opinion, the books supplied are a disgrace to the firm that supplies them. I intend to emphasize my opinion in this connexion by calling for a division.
– What books does the honorable member want - what authors?
– My taste may differ from that of the honorable member in many respects ; at any rate, most honorable members will admit that a really good work of fiction cannot be obtained from the Library. I have complained to Mr. Speaker, and to members of the Committee, and in order to show that I am in earnest, and to call attention to the rubbish that is supplied by Messrs. Melville and Mullen, I have moved an amendment.
.- I do not intend to say anything in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. As to the historical records, eight volumes have already been published, and others are in contemplation, so that we may have a complete record.
– I rise to order. I understand that Mr. Speaker has -already spoken two or three times on this question.
- Mr. Speaker has only spoken twice, and, seeing that he is in charge of these Estimates, he may speak as many times as he likes.
– I appreciate the little joke of the honorable member for Parramatta.
– It is no joke.
– The question we are dealing with is one of serious moment. It is only right that I should pay tribute to the New South Wales Government for their kindness in handing over to the Library Committee 2,000 or 3,000 sheet forms of the original copies, which will enable us to have a complete set of the historical records when they are published. These valiable prints were handed over unconditionally, and for them I desire to thank the New South Wales Government.
Mr. ATKINSON (Wilmot) [8.52I- Mr. Speaker a little while ago informed us that these books are here only for six months, and that, if afterwards an honorable member requires one of them, the Library Committee has to purchase it. I do not think that ought to be so, for an honorable member who cannot avail himself of the volume in the six months ought to purchase it for himself. If the present system be discontinued we shall in all likelihood be loaded up with” a great many useless volumes, whereas we ought to have a fresh supply every six months.
.- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has conferred a very signal favour on the Committee in so courageously bringing this matter up. It is clear that the selection of fiction is in no way satisfactory.
– There is no selection at all.
– I was about to say that no honorable member should accept a position on this Library Committee and neglect so important a duty. I have looked at the list of the Library Committee in order to satisfy myself whether there is any possibility that the -personnel may be to blame for the extraordinary state of affairs which now exists. Mr. Speaker, of course, is the President, and I would not say that that honorable gentleman would prove the best judge of a racy novel. To help him, Mr. Speaker has the honorable member for Calare, who, I understand, is much too busy about other matters to bother about novels. I should Tike to ask the honorable member how many times he has gone down and viewed the collection of Messers. Melville and Mullen. No ‘ doubt members of the Library Committee know where they can get good fiction, but, apparently, they think that the refuse of a great circulating library is all that is necessary for honorable members who cannot appreciate the light reading afforded by Hansard. The honorable member for Calare is the right man to help us in choosing a bright breezy novelette, if he would only take the trouble to do so. Other members of the (Library Committee are the honorable member for Darling Downs, the honorable member for Melbourne, the honorable member for Laaneeoorie, the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Darling.
Now, the honorable member for Darling isa humourist, who has written a work on» moral suasion in connexion with unionism- - a work which has found its way into theParliamentary Library.
– What is the process of suasion?
– It is baptism of a new order - compulsory immersion for the eradication of the wicked principle of industrial! independence.
– Order !
– I notice further that the honorable member for Angas is a member of the Committee. Now, that gentleman is a master of Shakspeare, but Shakspeare is not to be obtained in a circulating; library. I doubt whether there is a singlemember of the Library Committee, withthe exception of Mr. Anstey, who pays any serious attention to the important task of” selecting light literature for the use of honorable members in railway trains. Thevery reasonable arguments of the honorablemember for Eden-Monaro have not been* met in the least by Mr. Speaker or any of the Library Committee, who, apparently, are afraid to open their mouths at this juncture. With the honorable member for Eden-Monaro I think that the opinion” of the Committee ought to be tested on thisquestion: I should prefer the Sydney method, whereby honorable members mayselect their reading from some circulating: library.
– Mr. Speaker says thatsuch an arrangement could be made.
– At any rate, let us test the question on the motion to reduce thevote by jQi. The members of the LibraryCommittee ought to be made to “ toe theline “ for once in their lives.
– - I think the honorable member for EdenMonaro has a grievance, but this is not by any means the first time the matter has beenaired in this chamber. It seems impossibleto get any improvement in the arrangements which at present provide for a certain number of books to be sent up byone of the big firms in Melbourne for theuse of. honorable members.-
– Who selects the books ?”
– They are selected by the firm, and they are supposed? to be the kind of literature that honorablemembers will take a delight in. Apparently, however, this firm cannot judge thetaste of honorable members.
– Do the books there suit the honorable member?
– My experience of them has been of such a character that I have long since ceased to Jook at them. We should have a more satisfactory state of affairs if honorable members would agree to an arrangement like that obtaining in Sydney, where members may go to the large lending libraries and make their own selection. That was suggested on a previous occasion, but when it became apparent that ito adoption would lead to books being removed from their present convenient situation here, members living in Melbourne opposed it. It was with the object of meeting their wishes that the present arrangement was allowed to continue. If honorable members are willing to make their own selection at the private libraries, I am sure the Library Committee will be pleased to enable them to do so. In that way they would secure a wider and better field of selection than is at present open to them.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) (9.2]. - If an honorable member is unable to avail himself of the light fiction in the Library during the course of six months in each year, it is very unfair to suggest that the country should specially buy a book for him. It is the first time that I have heard of this sort of thing being done.
– It is not done’; that is the trouble.
– I understood, from Mr. Speaker’s explanation, that this had taken place.
– I am glad to hear that it has not been done. Any work of an instructive character should find an abiding place in the Library, and I hope that the Library Committee will attend to the peculiar taste in books displayed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. He says that there is nothing in the Library worth reading.
– It is quite true.
– Then his taste is not peculiar. I rose, however, to direct special attention to an item which I find cropping up all through the Estimates, and to make a protest against it The item is “ Writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon.” Small though the Estimates relating to the Parliament are, this item occurs no less than three or four times. Every little subdivision of a Department selects its own paper, and has its own special inscription placed on it. The practice is ridiculous, as well as inordinately expensive.
We find the item under the heading of “ Contingencies “ in connexion with the House of Representatives, and also in connexion with the Senate. Then we find it under the headings of “ Parliamentary Reporting Staff “ and “ Library.” It is expensive for every one of these little Departments to have its own special brand of paper and envelopes, and special printing thereon. The sooner something is done to stop this waste of money the better for the country. It is even more important than is the question of the literature supplied to honorable members to read in the trains. There are in these Estimates no less than sixty-six distinct items under the headings of “ Incidental and petty cash.” I do not know how many times this item of “ Writing paper and envelopes, including printing and embossing thereon,” occurs in the Estimates as a whole-
– What is the amount of the incidental expenditure ?
– There is an expenditure of £45,000 in respect of petty cash, the items ranging from £2 to ,£5,000. I should describe an item of £5,000 as substantial rather than petty. The expenditure is so broken up that one cannot tell what any particular item costs in connexion with the running of our Departments. It is time that the whole of the Estimates were analyzed, systematized, and presented to Parliament in a different way. The present system seems to be a very convenient way of covering up expenditure, so that the country shall not know what it costs to conduct the Departments along these lines of incidental expenditure. We have only a few officers in this Parliament, but they are scattered over many Departments, and every Department seems to think it necessary to have its own writing paper and envelopes, with special embossing and printing thereon. The whole thing would be a screaming farce if it were not dipping so deeply into the people’s pockets. I fail to see why, in connexion with our own establishment, at least, we should not have uniform paper and envelopes, and uniform printing thereon. There is no need for every little sub-branch of a Department to have its own peculiar idiosyncrasies in this way. This raising of rings round each sub-Department means multiplying the expense and aggregating the Estimates beyond any need of usefulness or service to the country.
.- I sympathize with the view expressed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who, as he has explained, requires a certain quantity of light literature; and there are representatives of other States who have to remain here for week-ends, and find it essential to have some light reading with which to while away the time. I do not suggest that honorable members, while at work here during the week, have much lime for reading fiction. I know that I have not. But I would suggest to Mr. Speaker that he should see that the latest and leading works of fiction are supplied to the Library.
– At present, we get only the rejects.
– That ought not to be. The Commonwealth Library should be supplied with up-to-date books as scon as they are published, and I hope that they will be secured in future for the recreation of honorable members.
– I would like to add my testimony to that of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro as to the rubbishy nature of most of the books which are to be found upon the Library table. I would suggest to the Library Committee that, instead of authorizing the firm which supplies those books to send along any works that it may choose, they should select their own authors. If that were done, we would not get the rubbish that we get at the present time. I have frequently looked through the list, and have been unable to discover the name of a single author of which I know anything. Consequently, I have joined a Library in the city where I can get the literature that I want. Occasionally, it is possible to get hold of a good book from the Library table, but to do so is an exception. I would suggest that, in future, the Library Committee should get books by authors of repute, whose works are worth reading.
.- This is not a new question by any means. A little while ago, the honorable member for Parramatta complained of certain expenditure, and he would certainly complain a good deal more, and with some justice, if the Library Committee acceded to the request of the honorable member for Richmond. A certain sum of money is appropriated for the purchase of books, and the practice is to spend that money in building up a permanent Library. It is not intended that at present we should fill the Library with works of .a general character.
– It would be better to get only one quarter the number of books and to get better books.
– At one time, we took this matter into consideration, and practically decided that we should dispense with novels altogether. Then a request was sent in by a number of honorable members that the old system should be continued, and, in view of the fact that a great many honorable members desire to indulge in light reading, whilst they are engaged in travelling between the capitals of the different States and this city, that request was granted. I would remind the Committee that these novels are not purchased. They are merely obtained on loan. If ,we are to acquire works by standard authors - that is, high-priced books - we ought to do so only as the result of a deliberate act on the part of this House. The Library Committee are not authorized to expend any money on novels. The books which are to be found on the Library table are fairly good.
– Do not they cost something?
– Why not get fewer books and better ones?
– Amongst a lot of chaff honorable members will find some grains of wheat, if they choose to look for them. As a member of the Library Committee I am opposed to doing anything more than we are doing. An arrangement has been made whereby honorable members who visit Sydney may obtain books from a fine Library there.
– What are the arrangements made in Sydney?
– If the honorable member will consult the Librarian, he will obtain all the information that he desires. The Library Committee have never recognised that it is part of their function to supply honorable members with novels. If I have a fancy for a novel, I buy it; that is what other honorable members should do.
.- I think that the honorable member for Darling has misunderstood the object which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has in view. The books which are placed on the Library table are obtained from a certain firm which is paid to supply them. That firm could supply different books. I have frequently looked at the list on the table, and I have come to the conclusion that the works which appear there are those which nobody else will read. The Library Committee should see that they get value for the money which they expend. We should not be content to receive the “ rejects “ of a circulating Library. It would be better to have no books at all. If the Library Committee will ask the Librarian to consult the firm which supplies those books-
– This has been done. We cannot get better books for the same money.
– A few pounds extra might satisfactorily dispose of the trouble. If we are paying ,£50 a year, and are getting something which is worth nothing, would it not be infinitely better to spend £60 a year, and get something of value? Either our present expenditure should be discontinued, or books should be supplied which have not been rejected elsewhere. I believe that Mr. Speaker would be able to make an arrangement which would be satisfactory to honorable members.
.- I have gained a lot of information this evening. Previously, I was not aware that honorable members had any privileges in the matter of obtaining books in Sydney. The Library Committee almost deserve a vote of censure for not having informed us of the fact. I have read one or two of the books which appear on the Library table with the result that I have been driven to play cards on my railway journeys to and from this city.
.- As a representative of New South Wales, I also confess that I have learned something tonight. We have been told that in the matter of supplying honorable members with light literature a different arrangement obtains in New South Wales from that which obtains in Victoria. The Library Committee, I take it. are anxious that we should read the very best books. But we do not get any books of that class on the Library table.
– There are some good novels there.
– As the honorable member for Richmond has stated, there are certain well-known authors whose works are appreciated, and one naturally looks for their books. ‘ But very often we cannot get them. It appears to me that the arrangement made for the supply of books in Sydney is infinitely better than that which obtains here. Under the former system, an honorable member is allowed to select his own books from a circulating library. I have no time whilst I am in Melbourne to read books other than those necessary to enable me to properly discharge my legislative duties. But when travelling by train long distances’ between the various capitals, we ought to have something to read, and the books supplied to us should be the very best. I would suggest to the - Library Committee that they should adopt the same practice in Melbourne as is adopted in Sydney.
– We cannot do it because of the expense.
– If it can be done in New South Wales, it can be done here.
– There are in members of this Parliament, and only a few of them visit New South Wales.
– Only a few honorable members require these books. As this matter has cropped up, I would like to know why the system which is adopted. in New South Wales cannot be followed here ? I hope that that information will be forthcoming ; otherwise some of us may be induced to vote for a reduction of the item which is under consideration.
.- -This discussion began in an almost farcical spirit, but it seems now to have become serious. In my opinion, the person who is not satisfied with, the supply of novels placed at our disposal in the Library is hard to please. Although not a novel reader, I know enough of the world of fiction to be aware “ that there are to be found on the Library table the chief works of the best-known novelists; men like Locke, de Morgan. Max Pemberton, and others. I was nob aware until this evening of the arrangements made by the Library Committee for the supply of fiction, but in Sydney Messrs. Angus and Robertson, as a matter of courtesy, make the members of this Parliament honorary subscribers to their library, a privilege of which I have taken advantage largely. From that library, not merely novels, but also any other books, may be taken. A similar arrangement might well be made with some Melbourne library, the privilege, if not granted as a matter of courtesy, being paid for. Should there be any need to alter the arrangements, I hope that an attempt will be made to give effect to the Sydney system.
– On these Estimates £2,000 is set down for the printing, editing, and pub- fishing of a military journal. Although an ex-Minister of Defence, who had to do with the inauguration of the system under which the journal is published, I have never been paid the compliment of having a copy sent to me. But I think that the publication should be on the table of our Library.
– It is there.
– I have never seen a copy there. I do not know why a copy should not be sent to every member. The publications of the Government Statistician and of the Departments generally are supplied to each member, and I think that we should also receive a copy of this military magazine, which is distributed broadcast among the members of the Military Forces. Whether it is worth the money that it costs is another matter. I am not dealing with that now.
– The military authorities regard it as essential from an educational point of view.
– Lord Kitchener’s idea was that there should be a symposium of the views of military men, enabling the discussion of military matters of importance.
– That is what is aimed at.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 5 (Refreshment rooms), £1,172.
.- Some time ago the honorable member for Brisbane carried through a number of tumultuous divisions a proposition to abolish the refreshment bar. As he put it succinctly the -other night, he got his triumph into the records of the House. I wonder whether the bar is still in existence.
– It was to-night.
– There is an amount set down here for water power for Parliament House.
– Perhaps by way of compromise with the honorable member. I do not wish to ask an inconvenient question, but I should like to know from Mr. Speaker, or some other member of the House Committee, what steps have been taken to give effect to the resolution.
– The Senate would not pass a similar resolution, with the result that senators can go to the bar, but the members of this House cannot.
– I understand that a member of this House goes there only when asked to do so by a member of the Senate.
– Of course, we cannot “ control the Senate. What do the words ‘ grant in aid ‘ ‘ mean ? To whom is the grant made?
– It is to meet the loss on the refreshment room.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 6 (Water power for Parliament House), £200, and division 7 (Electric lighting, repairs, &c.), £1,411, agreed to.;
.- I think that we should do something to put the Queen’s Hall into a better state of repair. The State of Victoria has acted generously in giving us the use of this building, and the least we can do is to keep it in first-class repair. But it is now just getting into that state when something needs to be done.
– That has been arranged for.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– Provision is made in this division for two gardeners at £264, or £132 each. That seems to me to be a small salary for the men who are in charge of these gardens.
– It seems to me to be small.
– They have received an increase this year since the Estimates were framed, and are now paid at the rate provided for by an award.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– I notice here an item of £188 per annum for an assistant engineer. I do not know what the duties of this gentleman are, but the salary strikes me as being rather small.
– He looks after the lights and bells and lifts.
– I do not think this man is too well paid. What is the honorable member for Dalley doing not to look after this brother of his?
– Do not worry ! If the honorable member for Parramatta wants a grievance, let him make it for himself.
– Doubtless this engineer is a trained man, and I fancy that people outside are receiving higher pay for similar duties. I notice throughout that not one of these lower-paid men have received any increases during the past few years, although the cost of living nas risen. In this Parliament we insist on the application of arbitration, with the fixing of wages on the highest scale, and we ought to apply the same principle to our own officers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division n (Prime Minister), £n,/95-
.- There are several items in this Department worth close consideration ; but, in the first place, it would help honorable members generally if the Prime Minister would explain what has actuated him in establishing this as a separate Department.
– The suggestion that an explanation should be made is a good one. In the early days of Federation, the Prime Minister nearly always took the position of Minister of External Affairs, and was thereby placed in direct communication with the Imperial and other authorities regarding outside relations. At that time a complete record of all communications, not only oversea, but Inter- State, were kept in the Department presided over by the Prime Minister. When Mr. Watson became Prime Minister he took the portfolio of Treasurer, and, therefore, was dissociated from the Department of External Affairs. This example was followed by the honorable member for Ballarat for some time, and subsequently by myself. This entailed a rearrangement, and the best, in my opinion, was to establish a Prime Minister’s Department, in which the whole of the official records to which I have referred could be kept. Further, it was advisable, I think, to take the Auditor-General from the Treasury, and place him under the Prime Minister, who may be supposed to represent all the Departments.
– The AuditorGeneral might have been placed under another Minister.
– I think that the Auditor-General ought to report to the Prime Minister rather than to the Treasurer.
– The Auditor- General reports to Parliament.
– But through a Minister.
– It does not matter which Minister.
– I think it does, and, in my opinion, it is important that he should report to the Prime Minister.
– But the Prime Minister is the Treasurer.
– That does not affect the question.
– Does the Prime Minister suggest that the Auditor-General should report to the Prime Minister in any other way than as means of communicating with Parliament?
– It is rather like the Treasurer reporting to himself.
– The Auditor-General might have occasion to report as to a particular Department, and it- might be necessary, if Parliament were not sitting, for the Prime Minister to take action of a serious character.
– But what if the Prime Minister is also Treasurer?
– That is hardly the point, and I wish the honorable member would get rid of the idea that the Prime Minister is the same person as the Treasurer. The Prime Minister represents all the Departments, and he is, therefore, in a position to take action without causing any embarrassment whatever.
– I have had some experience in this connexion, and it was my practice to place the Auditor-General under another Minister.
– I am sure that the right honorable gentleman kept an eye upon what was done by the Auditor-General, even though he put him under another Minister. The Auditor-General should have a departmental head through whom he can make communications. I also believe that the Public Service Commissioner, who has to deal with all the Government Departments, should be under the Prime Minister. He is under the Prime Minister at the present time. Generally speaking, all communications between the Commonwealth and the States have to be signed by the Prime Minister, and no communication passes between the Commonwealth and a State, or between the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government, except through the Prime Minister. Il is essential for record purposes, for expedition, and conciseness, that there should be a Prime Minister’s Department. Such a Department is known in many of the other Dominions, and it is well known under the Imperial Government.
– But the right honorable gentleman has to fill two offices.
– I am paid only for one. . ….
– 1 was not referring to that, but to the fact that the right honorable gentleman has to spend half his time in one office, and the other half in another.
– I understand that that distinguished statesman the late Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone, when he filled two offices, drew the whole salary of one, and half the salary of the other. We have made only a rearrangement of Departments, and when honorable members opposite have the good fortune to be in office again, I think they will agree that the arrangement works- very well, and is of advantage, not only to the Treasurer, but to all the Ministers.
– I established the system in Western Australia, but when I left it was abandoned.
– I think that that was a mistake. Perhaps I might make a general statement with respect to the officers of the Department.
.- The - ,-right honorable gentleman was suggesting the advisability of making a statement with regard to the cost incidental to the new offices. That is only important in so far as it may guide honorable members to a conclusion as to whether it was wise to place the Auditor-General and the Public Service Commissioner’ under the Prime Minister rather than under some other Minister. I personally believe that they should be under the Prime Minister ; but if the new arrangement involves a large incidental expenditure, it might justify a revision of one’s opinion as to the wisdom of the alteration. I am obliged to the Prime Minister for giving me an opportunity to make this statement.
– - There is, of course, a Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, and it includes, also, the Secretary to the Executive Council, who is properly under this Department. There are two additional Fifth class clerks. One was transferred from the External Affairs Department to perform duties in connexion with the Commonwealth Gazette, and the other is required to cope with the increase of work. . The office of senior messenger has been reclassified as Ministerial messenger.
– The honorable gentleman is giving details.
– I am accounting for the increases shown on the Estimates. The assistant is attached to the Honorary Minister’s office as messenger. A junior mes senger has been appointed for delivering papers to the various Departments. This work was previously carried out by the messenger of the Department of External Affairs, but the transfer of the offices to the new buildings necessitated the new appointment. I need not go into the contingency vote. There is on this year’s Estimates a vote for the Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, but an appointment was not made until October, 1911. The vote for historical memorials appeared on the Estimates for the House of Representatives last year, but now appears under the Department of the Prime Minister.
– Will the honorable gentleman tell the Committee whose portraits are to be painted. We have never had an authoritative list published.
– I believe that the portraits already decided upon by the Committee appointed include The GovernorsGeneral, Sir Henry Parkes, The Chief Justice of the High Court, The Prime Ministers, The Presidents of the Senate, and the Speakers of the House of Representatives. The present arrangements regarding the painting of the portraits is that Australian artists over-sea shall be commissioned to paint the portraits of persons who reside over-sea. In the case of GovernorsGeneral who are dead, replicas of portraits of them will be supplied by artists oversea. As regards subjects resident in the Commonwealth, Australian artists are being commissioned by a board ot experts, who are not allowed to compete for the work themselves, or to give it to any of their relatives. They will be intrusted -with the duty, after seeing a sketch of the portraits to be painted, of deciding whether the artists making the. sketches should receive commissions. They will be the judges in all matters, apart from the question of payment. The Committee have authorized a few portraits to be proceeded with, and commissions will, no doubt, be given within a short time. They will not turn down any one. That is to say, they have only said that, in their opinion, certain portraits ought to be painted. Commissions will be issued for the painting of some of the portraits within the next six months, but the Committee have not decided as to who should, or should not, be regarded “as a distinguished citizen of the Commonwealth for the purpose of this vote.
– We should not forget Australian historical figures, like Dr. Lang, for instance.
– The honorable member’ for Parkes, and other honorable members, 1 think, know my opinion in this matter. I believe that in Australia we have been very short-sighted in not spending a little money to provide historical memorials of this kind. I should prefer such memorials in oil, rather than in stone, of persons who have been eminent and distinguished in Australian history, and not merely as promoters of Federation. That is the view I have always taken, and I am glad that a beginning in this matter is being made on right lines. The work has been taken in hand by a committee of gentlemen who ask for no more than travelling expenses connected with the work. The committee is presided over by Mr. Hugh Paterson, of Melbourne, and in-, eludes the Director of the Sydney Art Gallery, Mr. Thistlethwaite, of Brisbane, and Mr. Ashton, of Adelaide. Those four gentlemen have agreed to take up this work, and to accept the responsibility of determining whether an artist is capable of executing the commission intrusted to him. As a rule, people do not care to take up a work of this kind, but these gentlemen have undertaken to do it, without fee or reward, although, should they require to travel from one city to another, we think that they should receive their expenses. The proposal is to pay up to £250 for a suitable painting.
– Are there to be no representations in marble?
– That has not been proposed, but I should be delighted to hear the views of honorable members on the subject. My own opinion is that oil-paintings are preferable. I should be glad if a picture of the whole of the members of the first Federal Convention could be painted.
– There is a good deal of the “ oily gammon “ about this lot.
– The honorable member may think so, but I ask him to consider for a moment the number of prominent public men who, within the last quarter of a century, have passed away, and of whom we have no portrait and no reliable historical record. The loss is one that we deplore. Notwithstanding what may be our shortcomings as individuals, I am certain that the people of the future would be very glad to have some record of what we were like, and how we did our business.
– The works of many of the persons referred to would be quite sufficient to keep their memory alive.
– I should be the last to belittle the work of Parliaments or individuals ; and. after all, the battles fought and won count for little compared with the great works of art and the effects of literature upon the growth and development of a people, and the morals of a nation. Mankind is more largely indebted to the ethical writers and the great painters for the progress of human society than it is to legislation passed by Parliament or to Judge-made laws.
– Why commemorate people who are so inferior?
– I doubt whether we know who the people of the future will regard as the superior and the inferior men of to-day. Generally speaking, half a century often elapses after the death of a great man before his superiority is discovered.
– Hear, hear ! We are all living in hopes.
– In poetry and ethics it is nearly always so. In economics it is almost an axiom that it is so, and it is certainly so in art. Perhaps not one artist in a hundred is considered to be a truly great painter until half a century or more after his death. It may be so with politicians. It may be that politicians who are thought the least of at the present time may be regarded later on as among the best of their day. As the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Gwydir have suggested, those who are considered to be leading men to-day may be thought, some years hence, to have ranked very low, while others may come to be regarded as men who did, great work for their country. It is, therefore, desirable to make the collection as wide as possible in the interests of those who will have to judge in the future.
.- I do not suggest that the items cannot be explained, but I would point out that the expenditure of this Department this year shows an increase of .£1 1,853. For the year 1911-12 the Department started out with an expenditure of .£36,225, whilst this year it is estimated that its expenditure will amount to £48,078, or an increase of
– Look at the services that have been transferred to this Department.
– Something more than the transfers has to be taken into account. Last year, rent, repairs, &c, under the Works and Buildings Account of this Department amounted to £757. whereas this year we are asked to vote under that heading , £3.384. At page 161 of the Estimates we have a statement showing that, in respect of the Prime Minister’s Department, under the heading of “ Works and Buildings,” £1,400 is set down for rent, £200 for repairs and maintenance, £105 for sanitation and water supply, and £1,445for fittings and furnishings, which, with another item, bring the total to £3,384. That, less £757, represents entirely new expenditure. Other items show an increase, and I wish to sound a note of warning that the Department should be kept well in hand.
– The item of £1.445inre- spect of fittings and furniture relates to the new building.
– Then there is the item of rent.
– That will refer to the Public Service Commissioner’s office, and the office of the Auditor-General, which has also been transferred.
– Last year the expenditure under this heading amounted to only £757-
– But last year they were not under this Department.
– T think that the increase is due to the expansion of the Department, to the fact that we are erecting new buildings, and furnishing them, and so forth. This is a growing permanent expenditure. I simply suggest to the Prime Minister that he should watch the growth of his Department, and not allow the expenditure of a new Department to unnecessarily increase. As to the painting of portraits of public men, I do not know whether the Committee has definitely decided to exclude representations in marble.
– I am glad to hear that, because experts have suggested to me the advisability of having some of these representations in marble. So far, we have only one work of the kind in the Library, and that is the bust of the late Lord Linlithgow. The Prime Minister might suggest to his Committee the advisableness of having some of these representations in marble.
– It is a representative Committee, including the Leader of the Opposition in this House, and in the Senate.
– I thought there was also an expert Committee.
– That Committee can only act on the decisions of the Parliamentary Committee.
– We have in Australia a certain number of persons who have attained distinction as sculptors, and I should like the Prime Minister to mention to the Committee the suggestion that I have made.
.- In looking through the Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department, I am rather struck with the progress in the matter of expenditure made by the Public Service Commissioner’s Branch. I was indulging myself in the hope that when the great bulk of the members of the Public Service - namely, the General Division - were permitted to appeal to the Arbitration Court for the adjustment of their grievances and the consideration of their demands, we should see a material reduction in the Estimates pertaining to the Commissioner’s office. There ought now to be no great expenditure. All that is required is a staff of officers to keep a record in order to comply with the law which this Parliament has passed. There certainly is no justification for increasing the staff, and there is less justification for increasing the expenditure. If the Arbitration Court is to adjudicate in matters pertaining to the General Division, and is to fix for a period of years the maximum and the minimum salaries that should be paid to officers’, there should be no necessity for this great Department, which at one time had full control and power - without, I admit, responsibility, which was one of the weaknesses of the whole system. The Public Service Commissioner at one time had full power to assess the value of every officer from a Deputy Postmaster-General down to a messenger boy. But with the . introduction of the new method there ought to be a tendency to economize in our Public Service administration. Because, after all, it must be remembered, our expenditure in other directions will increase. The work of the Arbitration Court in relation to public servants will not be done for nothing. It will cost money to represent the various cases that may be brought before the Court. That is an expenditure which should be set off against that formerly incurred in administering the Public Service Commissioner’s office. But I find . that there is no curtailment whatever. In- deed, the expenditure is going up year by.. year. In my opinion, this great officer, the Commissioner, has been responsible for, and the cause of, the whole of the trouble in the postal service. At present, he is not only an excrescence, but is absolutely unnecessary to wise administration. That must be so, when the Commonwealth Parliament has decided the relations of the Clerical and Professional Divisions respectively, and has provided an Arbitration Court to investigate the claims of the General Division. Therefore, I suggest to the Prime Minister that he might reasonably keep his eye on this autocratic Department. Hitherto, the Public Service Commissioner has been practically beyond criticism. He has said, “ This officer shall advance £100,” and there was no appeal. He has been omnipotent in his own office. There was no one to sit in judgment on his recommendations. It is necessary that some one should keep an eye on so autocratic a person, and especially on the financial advancement which is apparent in the management of his office. That remark applies not only to the central office, but to the State branches as well. It is a wellknown fact, and beyond dispute, that the men who are nearest the throne receive the favours of those who are sitting upon it. There are incontrovertible instances of that in connexion with the working of the Public Service Commissioner’s office. When we inquire why certain officers have been able to run up the ladder two or three steps at a time, whilst other officers have been for years trying in vain to secure advancement, the only explanation is that the fortunate ones have been under the eye of the Public Service inspectors, or have been in the office of the Commissioner himself. There was no tribunal to sit in judgment upon his decrees. He has checked the recommendations of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral without understanding them. These officers understood what was required far better than did the Public Service Commissioner’s Inspectors.
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.
Order of Business. - Maternity Al lowance - Northern Territory Land Ordinance.
– In moving -
That the House donow adjourn,
I wish to intimate’ that to-morrow I shall move that the House at its rising adjourn till half -past 2 o’clock on Wednesday next.
– What will be the business to-morrow?
– The first business will be the recommittal of the Workmen’s Compensation Bill, and that will be followed by the introduction of the Loan Bill. Afterwards we shall deal with the Copyright Bill, and then with the Estimates.
.- The Prime Minister laid on the table of the House to-day some papers relating to the maternity grant. I do not think that he quite understood the papers for’ which I asked. What I wanted to see was the correspondence with the British Medical Association, if any, in regard to the expert circular which was to be prepared.
– There was no correspondence.
– The Prime Minister has written to the British Medical Association, I understand?
– Not until two days subsequent to receiving the’honorable’s member’s note.
– There is nothing on the papers ?
– I will show them toothe honorable member.
– The Prime Minister promised that we should deal with the Northern Territory Land Ordinance this week.
– I did. It will be one of the measures submitted for consideration early next week.
– -In what form will it come down? Will a new Ordinance be issued, or will the matter be dealt with by Bill?
– I suppose the proposal will take the shape of an Ordinance.
– I ask the Prime Minister to let us have it in good time. In the interests of the Northern Territory, and of settlement there, we ought to have it at the earliest possible moment.
– I am urging the Minister of External Affairs to bring it down.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121031_reps_4_67/>.