5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the Chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he has come to the determination to refer the question of whether headlines shall be allowed in the reprints of the Hansard report of speeches to the Printing Committee.
– I am sorry that I have nothad time to give the matter consideration, but I hope to do so when we can spare time from more serious matters. Meanwhile I suggest to my honorable friends opposite that they might in their Caucus get the Senate to do some business, and to ceaseworrying, us. My time was so much occupied yesterday regarding the non-transaction of business in the Upper House of Australia, that I had not the opportunity to attend to this mere matter of regulation.
Mr. AGAR WYNNE laid upon the table the following papers: -
Balance-sheet on 30th June, 1913, and Financial Statements showing the working results of the various branches for the year 1912-13; together with covering reports by the Secretary and the Chief Accountant.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act- Promotion of W. Herbert as Postmaster, Grade IV., 3rd Class, Bega, New South Wales.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General whether it hasbeen suggested to the Government that some system other than the Balsillie or Commonwealth system should be used for the high-power wireless station at Port Darwin?
– At present the only system we have is the Balsillie system but, of course, if something better came forward it would be taken into consideration. The present intention is to use the Balsillie system at Port Darwin.
– Has the Minister received an offer from the Marconi Company to construct the high-power station at Port Darwin, and, if so, is he giving consideration to that offer ?
– There has been no such offer from the Marconi Company since this Government has been in power. If an offer was made, it must have been made before we took office. I am not considering the use of any other system at Port Darwin than the Balsillie system.
– I ask the Minister re presenting the Minister of Defence if the Government is satisfied with the work. that has been done at the Small Arms Factory. Will he cause inquiries to be made regarding the smallness of the output, in view of the large amount of money that has been expended on machinery.
– We are not satisfied with the results, but X understand that the Minister of Defence is paying special attention to the matter, with a view to obtaining an improvement.
– I ask the Treasurer when are we likely to have the report of the Auditor-General? To-day is the 21st of November, and we are within a few weeks of the end of the session. Is the report not to be presented in time to be discussed t
– I am informed that the Treasury forwarded the accounts to the Auditor-General on Monday last.
– I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, I understand, has the matter in hand, whether he has investigated the operations of a combine of master printers, known as the Typo.thetæ, and, if so, what decision has he come to ?
– The matter has been before the Customs Department, and interviews have been held, but I am not in a position to disclose what has taken _place.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Melbourne Ports asked a question about the proposed importation of ammunition waggons. I have been furnished with the following information on the subject: -
The Defence Department has ordered 16 Howitzer guns. These ,guns are a new departure, and their accompanying ammunition waggons are also of a new type hitherto unknown in the Commonwealth, and only recently adopted by the War Office.
Each of these guns has 3 ammunition waggons.
The total number required therefor is 48.
The Department, however, is only ordering i waggon ner gun - total 16, and is, at the same time, ordering all specifications and drawings so as to be able to get the remaining 2 per each gun manufactured locally.
The majority of the 16 imported will be used also as samples to aid local manufacture.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Seeing that butter for export is examined and analyzed by expert officers prior to shipment, will he cause a similar regulation to apply to all margarine exported from Australia. ‘
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The Regulations under the Commerce Act already provide that exporters of margarine shall give notice of their intention to export this product in order that it may be examined to see if it is correctly described and marked.
The Regulations also provide that the word “ margarine “ shall be conspicuously and indelibly impressed in block letters at least J-inch square in a prominent position on top, bottom, and sides of the outer covering of margarine containers prior to export.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
Why are men being dismissed from work at Maribyrnong - the services of painters and others having been dispensed with while the work remains in an incomplete state?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that the new Defence buildings at Maribyrnong are completed. All that now remains to be done prior to their occupation by the military is to supply furniture.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Act 1901- 1912 and the Post and Telegraph Rates Act 1902- 1911.
This is a non-controversial measure, dealing with two small matters. The British Government has asked us to pass an Act similar to one recently passed by the Imperial Parliament, in order that there may be reciprocal arrangements between Great Britain and Australia regarding the posting of newspapers. At present newspapers can be sent from Australia to England at certain rates, and we are asked to sanction the adoption of the same rates for newspapers posted from England to Australia. The second matter dealt with is the authorization of letter telegrams, which have been a great success in the United States, and in Canada. As the rates for telegrams are fixed in the schedule to an Act, it is necessary to, bring in an amending Bill to enable us to frame letter telegram rates.
– Is the letter telegram the “ lettergram “ that was advertised in the post-offices a couple of months ago?
– It is the lettergram that is mentioned on the postal sheets, but these have not yet been distributed to the public.
– I hope that in moving the second reading, the PostmasterGeneral will tell the House what loss is estimated to follow the adoption of the English newspaper rates, and what advantage the Commonwealth will gain by the adoption of the letter-telegram system.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Agar Wynne) read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend sections 9 and 11 of the Australian Notes Act 1910-1911.
.- We should have some explanation as to the intention of this Bill.
– Full information was given in the policy speech.
– And it was explained in the Budget.
– What is the effect of the Bill ?
– That we go back to where we were previously, having a reserve of one-quarter up to £7,000,000, and then, afterwards, £1 for £1.
– I do not object to the right honorable gentleman introducing the Bill, but I think we should have some explanation. I had no objection to the Postmaster-General adopting the course he did, because I had an idea of what he was dealing with, but as an ex- Acting Treasurer I think we are entitled to some explanation of what the Treasurer intends in connexion with the Australian notes. I trust ‘the right honorable gentleman will give that explanation on the second reading. If, as he has said, the intention is to have a reserve of one-quarter up to £7,000,000, I am prepared to debate the point on the second reading. I trust the Prime Minister does not propose to proceed with the second reading today.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented and (on motion by Sir.. John Forrest) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to provide for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, the appointment of officers, the making of charges, and the appropriation of money in connexion with such railway.
Bill presented and read a first time…
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th November, vide page 3389) :
Amendment (by Mr. Finlayson) again proposed -
That the following new clause be added to the Bill : - “ The manufacture, importation, and sale of alcoholic liquors, for beverage purposes is prohibited.”
Upon which Mr. Mathews had moved - “ That the words ‘ is prohibited ‘ be left out, . with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘shall be decided by a local option poll of all adult residents of Norfolk Island.’”
– I congratulate the Minister of External
Affairs on the fact that, after the unseemly manner in which he was treated last night by the Prime Minister, he has overcome the petulance of the honorable gentleman.
– That is very clever. I congratulate you.
.- The proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane is one that could only emanate from a gentleman who has a “crank” and thinks the whole world can be run on his own particular ideas, and those of his friends. I shall vote against the honorable member’s proposal and support ths Bill as introduced. During the course of the debate upon this proposal, the honorable member for Kennedy made statements which, in justice to those in charge of affairs in Papua should not be allowed to go unchallenged. I have visited Papua with the idea of learning how affairs were administered there, and I came away impressed with the idea that the administration in regard to liquor consumption was Very creditable. During the whole of my visit to various portions of Papua, I did not come across a case where there were any grounds of suspicion that the natives were using alcohol. I know there are three hotels in Samarai for sixty people, but there are only two hotels at Port Moresby for 500 or 600 white people. The only decent place in Papua where one could get a meal was in an hotel, and to attempt to remove the hotels would be to inflict a great hardship on the people of Papua. If anything makes life tolerable in these out-of-the-way places, it is a decent hotel where one can get a ‘decent meal and a decent bed. I have visited all parts of Australia with the object of finding out their wants. This necessitates one’s being away from home a great deal, and if honorable members had the same experience that I have had of going into habitations, other than hotels, they would bo life-long supporters of having decent hotels in both Australia and Papua. To introduce this prohibition nonsense into the Bill before us is to make Parliament absolutely ridiculous. The proposal is out of place. It has no justification when we are dealing with the inhabitants of Norfolk Island. It might be different if we were dealing with the New Hebrides, where there is a large coloured race and a tendency to give natives the opportunity of tasting what is sometimes called white man’s poison, but there is no fear of that in Norfolk Island. The citizens of that island need no prohibition. They are able to sufficiently control themselves, and to know when they require liquor for the stomach’s sake. The liquor question is all a matter of the stomach. The islanders are sufficiently strong in mind and- sensitive to what is good for themselves, to take liquor or leave it alone. The peculiar thing about this proposal is that the people of Norfolk Island have not votes. One would think from the way some honorable members have spoken that these islanders had votes, but there is no fear of honorable members bumping up against them in an endeavour to explain the idiotic idea of trying to bring about prohibition upon Norfolk Island, which proposal in itself is an insult to the intelligence of the people on the island. I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Melbourne, who at all times appeals to Democracy, but in this . case is not willing to give the people of the island an opportunity to decide for themselves. I have always been a Democrat, and whenever I have the opportunity to pass legislation so that the people may have a voice in any matter, I am prepared to assent to whatever decision the people arrive at. If we absolutely prohibit the sale or manufacture of liquor on this island it may prevent the growth of some industry there.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will give the people on the island the opportunity to vote upon the question.
– There is no justification ‘ for putting before the House the extreme ideas of certain persons. They are generally of the type that have few brains. The honorable member for Brisbane claims that the trend of thought is in the direction of prohibition. The honorable member must have been asleep somewhere. The trend of thought is to have State control of the liquor traffic. Whoever may think that he is going to bring about prohibition by Acts of Parliament should, as one honorable member has put it, get’ a phrenologist to feel his bumps. I think they would be very small bumps, with very little in them. I had a little experience going from Sydney to Norfolk Island. The weather was so bad that we could not make a landing, and the honorable member for Denison, who was accompanying me, was very sick. I went to the bar on the boat to get something for him, but I found that the people are so cautious in these seas that there was no bar open, and even though a person on board is sick, there is no opportunity of getting anything in the way of drink.
– You could buy a bottle. I bought a bottle.
– That would be sly-grog selling - the very thing I want to avoid. I believe there is a provision in the mail contract that no drink is to be obtained on the steamer until after it leaves Norfolk Island for the New Hebrides. The greatest friend of the sly-grog shop is the prohibitionist. Sly-grog selling is one of the greatest curses of any community. If prohibitionists would be as earnest in endeavoring to improve the general conditions of the people as they are in advocating their fad, it would be much better for everybody. There has not been half the drunkenness in New South Wales since the Labour party came into power, because they have done something to improve the condition of the people. As a business man, I can assure the Committee that some of these prohibitionists are not the best people to do business with. I hope the honorable member for Brisbane, in spite of his enthusiasm for prohibition, will see the wisdom of withdrawing his amendment. There is no necessity for it, and it would be an absolute insult to the people of Norfolk Island to pass it. They are sufficiently intelligent to settle the matter themselves. I have never heard of any drunkenness on the island. These people have no vote in regard to this House, and we have no right to impose restrictions on them in this matter. For all we know, the island might be able to produce alcohol and obtain a large revenue from it.
– The question before the Committee is the question of local option.
– I do not think we should fiddle with either question. Local option is out of place, and prohibition is ridiculous. The Committee would be wise not to interfere with things which the people of the island have not asked us to interfere with.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has received letters from Norfolk Island.
– I have received letters asking me to do certain things, and when I have made inquiries, I have found that the writer ought to be under lock and key. The persons who wrote to the honorable member might be fanatics like himself. I should like to give every credit to all the officials at Papua for the manner in which the natives of that island regard the use of alcohol. All those in the parliamentary party that visited Papua were surprised to find that the natives took no interest whatever in alcohol. All they would do with a bottle of beer or champagne would be to knock off the top with the silver or gold paper on it and use it as an ornament for the hair, pouring the liquor away. There is no justification for the statements that have been made that the natives there are able to indulge in the use of strong drink. I shall certainly vote against any proposal to try experimental legislation on the people of Norfolk Island who have no opportunity of protesting against what may be a grave injustice to them. I am against injustice every time.
– One argument I propose to use in support of the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is this: Some honorable members think that the islanders have no votes at all, but the Statesman’s Year-Book, at page 316, gives the following particulars : -
Norfolk Island, 29 deg. S. latitude, 163 deg. E. longitude, area 10 square miles, population 967, administered since 1903 by an Executive Council of a President, two elected and four appointed members.
That is not a democratic form of Government, and it replaced the most democratic constitution in existence south of the line. The honorable member has moved to give the majority the right to control this matter by local option, and the present constitution is a basis on which local option can be worked. If the amendment is carried, I appeal to the Minister to bring in the necessary clauses to give effect to it.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed new clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted in the proposed new clause be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the proposed new clause agreed to.
– As I mentioned previously, there was an amendment which the Government were prepared to accept; and in order that the Committee may have an opportunity to consider that amendment, it will, under the circumstances, be necessary to negative this clause as amended. I remind honorable members that there is no provision in Norfolk Island for carrying out a local option poll.
– There is a Parliament there - an Executive, with two elective members.
– The Executive is merely an administrative body, with no legislative functions. There has now been introduced in the Bill a very embarrassing provision, which, so far from leading to temperance, will, I am afraid, have the very opposite result, for there will be immediately started an agitation, on some side or other, among people who are now living on terms of perfect amity. My suggestion is that we leave matters as they now stand, adopting the amendment I have suggested.
– If the opportunity desired is given to the Government to submit the amendment, will there be a further opportunity to have a test vote on the new clause we have just dealt with ?
– We are testing that clause now - the only question before us is the new clause as amended. If my suggestion is accepted the sale of liquor will be restricted to the Mission Station, and to officers of the Pacific Cable Board. Of the latter there are only about nine or ten, who come and go; and all round the island there is no sale of liquor for any purpose except that of medicine, under the control of the Resident Commissioner. We have at present, I think, everything we could desire to promote the cause of temperance; and, for goodness’ sake, do not let us introduce local option under conditions which may defeat the object we have in view ! I ask honorable members to negative the clause as amended, and so enable me to propose the following:
The manufacture, or except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force in Norfolk Island, the sale or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited.
– Then the honorable member does not believe in local home rule 1
– This is not a question of home rule. In due course some administrative Bill will have to be introduced, and all the principles we are now discussing could be tested on that.
– They are white people like ourselves.
– There is no home rule at present on Norfolk Island.
– Why not give the people there as much home rule as we can?
– We cannot do that until we bring in an administrative Bill.
– It was done in the case of Papua.
– It is proposed to ask the people of Norfolk Island to conduct a local option poll before they have the necessary machinery.
– They have the machinery already.
– I assure the honorable member that they have not.
– They tell me that they can take a vote there.
– Some years ago votes were taken amongst the Norfolk Island people, but their meetings were merely ordinary friendly gatherings, with a view to asking the Government of New South Wales to pass particular Ordinances. I appeal to honorable members to adopt what is a moderate and reasonable course, namely, fo prevent manufacture, and in other respects continue the present conditions until they are altered by Bill or Ordinance.
.- An extraordinary procedure has been adopted by the Government.
– Every procedure of the Government is extraordinary, according to the honorable member !
– I am glad the Prime Minister admits the fact, though I must say he does not do so very gracefully.
– We are getting tired of this old cry - change it, for goodness’ sake!
– The Minister of External Affairs, who is in charge of the measure, has endeavoured to show that the present conditions are better than those which have just been adopted by a majority of the Committee. The whole of his argument was directed to our leaving the protection of the people on Norfolk Island to a benevolent Government, instead of allowing them to protect themselves. The principle on which the Commonwealth was established was that the people should manage their own affairs; and that power ought not to be taken from the people, and delegated to a Government, acting through an Administrator, in the matter of the liquor traffic, any more than in any other matter. It is not sufficient for the Minister to say that the Norfolk Islanders are a particular people who would be better protected by a dictator - because, after all, it is a dictatorship - and there is more wit than wisdom in the argument. The Government approached the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and, as I understand, indicated that they would accept his proposal in preference to that of the honorable member for Brisbane.
– No; they did not.
– At any rate the Government preferred the honorable member’s proposal. They, however, endeavoured by every means within their power to prevent local option being carried ; and I do not object to that, because, I presume, they did it in good faith. I am prepared to vote for prohibition altogether, because then the responsibility would rest entirely with the House, and not with the Government. If the matter be left to the Government, one Administration may enforce prohibition, while another may take a different view; but if there be a decision of the House, the matter will be settled in a proper constitutional way, leaving no discretion to the Executive. Although the residents of the island suffer great disability, they are a white population, and, in my opinion, they ought not to be placed in a different position from that of the people on the mainland. This question having been decided by a majority of the Committee, I think the Government ought to allow the clause to pass, and it will soon be discovered whether the residents can .be intrusted with local governing powers. What better opportunity could there be to test the capacity of a little community of this kind to govern themselves than that presented by the power to deal with the liquor traffic by means of local option t I hope the Committee will not agree to the suggestion of the Minister of External Affairs, but will give the people of Nor- folk Island a chance to manage their own affairs in their own way.
.- The honorable member has just made a speech such as he often makes.
– Hear, hear; a straightforward speech.
– If the Prime Minister wishes to carry out this proposal, he should say nothing.
– I want to know if we are to have another deadlock?
– The Prime Minister is a splendid actor, anyhow.
– The honorable memberhas not the intelligence to be even that.
– The Prime Minister would make a good clown for a circus.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has made a speech such as he often makes - one-sided, unfair, and in every way reprehensible when discussing a question of this kind. He says that the Government have tried their very best to defeat local option. Is that all that the Government have done ?
– It is one of the things that they have done. They have done a lot more.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has endeavoured to make it appear to the temperance people outside that we have voted against their principles, their platform, and their proposals.
Several Opposition Members. - So you have.
– I am glad to hear all these cheers from those who support the publicans outside. I am glad to hear all these cheers from round the House as to what has been done.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the Prime Minister be obliged to withdraw the words, which are absolutely untrue, that honorable members upon this side of the Chamber support the publicans outside.
– Order! The honorable member has been guilty of a breach of the Standing Orders in stating his point of order. He must withdraw the words “ absolutely untrue.”
– I withdraw the words complained of, and ask that the Prime Minister be made to withdraw the words he used, which are offensive to honorable members upon this side of the Chamber.
– What words?
– The words that honorable members over here are supporting the publicans outside.
– I did not hear the Prime Minister make any specific charge. I understood him to make a general statement which did not refer to any particular side of the Chamber. But if the expression he used is offensive to honorable members, I will ask him to withdraw it.
– Certainly, I withdraw it. But I should like to know what I am to withdraw.
– The deliberate lie that the Prime Minister told just now.
– Order! The honorable member for Kennedy must not use expressions of that kind. He knows perfectly well that they are out of order, and I might reasonably expect him to assist me in carrying out our Standing Orders.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– Did not the Prime Minister say that we supported the publicans outside ?
– No, I did not. I said it was amusing to see those who did get the publicans’ support outside cheering the statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and apparently glorying in the fact that the Government had tried to defeat local option. It struck me as being anomalous. That is the statement which I made, and it is the statement which I repeat.
– If the Prime Minister does not correct Hansard he will find that he has made two different statements.
– I wish to say that the Government has voted against both these proposals and will vote in favour of one of their own, and that one of their own is to leave the present Ordinance as it is, with some little additions to it providing for the prevention of the manufacture of and supply of grog of any kind, except under the conditions now imposed in the Ordinance. Our proposal is infinitely better than is any local option proposal.
– No, it is not.
– I say that it is. As much as the heavens are above the earth so is our proposal, from a temperance point of view, above any proposal for mere local option in a place like Norfolk Island. Ours is a proposal-
– For sly-grog selling..
– Ours is a proposal to maintain a condition of things which has been proved by actual experience to be effective for the purpose named. There is no drinking going on in Norfolk Island to-day. That is the test of the whole thing.
– That is what was said about Papua.
– Who says there is no drinking going on in Norfolk Island?
– The facts show it. All the authorities from whom we can get information - all the authorities who are there - say so. Of course honorable members opposite know more about this matter than do the authorities on the spot. Then the honorable member for Wide Bay got back to the great principle of local government. All I wish to say is that the people of Norfolk Island can have local governing powers to the full extent the moment they ask for them, and the moment it is proved that they are capable of exercising them. It does not seem to have glimmered in the. honorable member’s mind that this is a Constitution which will permit of legislation under any conditions that the people themselves require. There is nothing in this Constitution to take local government from them. The honorable member does not appear to know what we are doing. That is his trouble. He only knows one thing - that he has voted for a very nice placard - and he knows that the honorable member who moved it has voted for a placard which will serve him well outside. But I would rather deal with fact than with a placard. The fact is that there is practically prohibition in Norfolk Island to-day. The natives do not get liquor. Liquor is not consumed there, thanks to the Ordinance we have. When we get a condition of things like that, this Government propose to let well alone rather than to indulge in any experiments which may lead to matters being made very different and very much worse.
– I am quite prepared to vote for the proposal of the Minister of External Affairs. But the attitude of the Prime Minister is not calculated to induce one to vote in that direction.
– I do not care how the honorable member votes.
– The Prime Minister has a fatal facility for making offensive remarks. I do not wish to use this proposal as a placard at all. I say that one of the worst things we can do is to give the power of local option to native or halfcaste races. Without taking any stand on the temperance question at all, I hold that if there are any drinks to be dispensed in these islands, they ought to be dispensed under autocratic control.
– They are white people.
– They are not all white people. As a matter of fact, they occupy a worse position than purely native races, because theyhave within their veins an admixture of island blood, and no races are more susceptible to the effects of strong drink than are the half-caste races of the world. I am quite prepared to go back to the original position, which I think is the best one. In matters of this kind, however, it would be infinitely better if the Prime Minister were less offensive in his remarks.
.- I feel very strongly on this matter, and that must be my excuse for exercising my right to speak a few words as a member of this Committee. It has been said that the inhabitants of Norfolk Island are under a form of dictatorship, and that it is desirable to give them as much home rule as we can. I cannot see the force of that form of reasoning. We have undoubtedly agreed to provisions which, to a large extent, establish a dictatorship over them. It is now proposed to hand over to people to whom we cannot trust the other affairs of government, the most difficult question, perhaps, which any civilized community can be called upon to decide. I am not a teetotaller, and I am in favour of the principle of local option. But I confess that the prospect we are opening up in handing over local option to these people simply appals me. We call them civilized, and we call them white. They are so, to a large extent. But it is still admitted by all who have visited Norfolk Island that they are simple and unsophisticated, and that, for their own benefit, they have necessarily been under a considerable amount of tutelage in the past.
– Probably they lost through the tutelage.
– Just consider the possibilities we are opening up for the ruin of these people if we take away the control that has been wisely exercised in the past over a good many of their local affairs. Just imagine what may happen in the island if we grant them local option. Suppose in connexion with the telegraph depot there are one or two persons who desire a greater amount of freedom in the matter of facilities for drinking. Consider what may happen if some person or other who visits the island discovers an opportunity for creating a profitable drink traffic, if only he can persuade a majority of the simple islanders that it will confer a benefit upon them. If we open the door to the drink trade amongst these people, in a few years they will be ruined and degenerate. I cannot allow this proposal to pass without entering my solemn protest against it. I hope the Committee will indorse the action of the Government.
– I am of the opinion that this question ought not to be regarded too much from a party stand-point. In my judgment, the principle of local option should be confined to the mainland, and not introduced into an island of this character. At the present time the drink traffic in Norfolk Island is under the control of the Government. Honorable members may say that it is under the control of a tyrant, or of the Emperor Nicholas, if they choose, but the fact remains that it is under the control of the Government. I know some honorable members in this Chamber, and I am acquainted with some thousands of persons outside of it, who believe in the State control of the liquor trade. I believe in it myself. I am of opinion that it offers the best solution of the difficulty, but I do not think that the State control of the industry is a matter which can be fought for on the mainland, because of the difficulty that would be experienced in taking over vested interests, and also because public opinion has not yet been educated upon it. Nevertheless, I believe that that is the best way of dealing with the liquor question. If there is to be any liquor sold on the island, it should be sold by the authority of the Government. It would be better to have no liquor there at all. At the same time, if it is to be there, the traffic should be in the hands of an authority who will put up an establishment where the liquor may be sold to persons, to be used in moderation, not a place in which persons may get drunk. As long as the liquor traffic is the same as the traffic of the butcher or the baker, we cannot blame a seller of liquor for having drunken people about his premises. The hotelkeeper has as much right to sell his goods as has a butcher or a baker, but public opinion behind Parliament cannot see that. The moment that the control of the liquor traffic passes into the hands of the authorities, they will see that it is sold under proper conditions. What better guarantee for insuring sobriety could we have than that? Believing, as I do, in the nationalization of industries, I see here a splendid opportunity for making an experiment. There are no vested interests to be bought out. In the course of a few years the island may have a larger population. Without the expenditure of a shilling to extinguish any vested interest, we have a grand opportunity to place the liquor trade under the control of the Government. I do not envy honorable members who have been talking all over Australia about the nationalization of industries, if they will not give an opportunity for trying an experiment on Norfolk Island.
– For a real good old Tory, commend me to the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– I know that.
– The real issuewhich the honorable member cannot shirk - is whether the control of the liquor trade on Norfolk Island is to be in the hands of a Government official, or whether we are to trust the people to control the trade. The honorable member tries to get round that issue, as he tries to get round every other question. Do not let us attempt to shirk the issue. The honorable member drags in the question of the nationalization of the liquor traffic.
– I hope you will recognise the implications of that position.
– I do. I would sooner trust the people of Norfolk Island to deal with this question than trust a Governmentofficial, be he who he may, good, bad, or indifferent. I hold very strong opinions on this question, and I am not going to alter the vote I gave. I think that the Government are making a mistake in not accepting the Committee’s deliberate expression of opinion. This is not a party question; it is one which, to my mind, should rise far above all party considerations.
– If you trust the people, why do you force upon them local option, whether they like it or not ? If you were to leave it optional with them, I could understand it.
-“ Local option “ means “trust of the people.” Here is another specimen of the disguised Tory. The honorable member for Batman in many cases has the thinnest veneer of Democracy. He asks, “ Why do you force local option on the people of the island?” Every extension of the franchise that has ever been given has forced the franchise on some people.
– You are forcing the people to go to a poll.
– No , we cannot force the people to go to a poll. We want to give them the privilege and the right to go to the poll and decide this question.
– It is giving the electors the right to control the island.
– You want to give them a voice to say what they want?
– Exactly. I am sufficiently democratic to believe that we can trust the people in anything. If the franchise had been restricted to those who, it was thought, were entitled to it, not a quarter of the people in the British Dominions to-day would have had it, because the argument against the granting of the privilege of selfgovernment to a people has always been that the people who have not the privilege to-day cannot sufficiently be trusted with the exercise of it. To my mind, this proposal is clean-cut and simple. The one issue, as the Prime Minister has acknowledged, is whether the Government Resident is to have full control of the liquor traffic, or whether the people of the island are to be trusted with the right of saying to what extent the traffic shall be carried on, or, what is more important than that, to my mind, whether there shall be any liquor traffic at all. In my opinion, the subject was thoroughly discussed. First, the question of total prohibition was put to the Committee and rejected; then the question of local option was put distinctly, and a sufficient number of honorable members, who had voted against prohibition, crossed the chamber and voted to give the people of the island the right to decide the question for themselves. I hope that that deliberately-expressed verdict will be adhered to.
.- If the Government have decided to carry the clause which they want, I ask them to consider for a moment the two exceptions it makes. One exception is in favour of a church which has the greatest monopoly of the island. According to The Statesman’s Y ear-Book, the island consists of 10 square miles, and the Melanesian Mission owns over 1,000 acres of the very best land there. If prohibition is to be prescribed, the clause should provide that not even shall that church have alcohol. Again, the submarine cables are linked up on the island. Why should the men employed at the cable station have the privilege of getting alcohol, while other men on the island are denied that right? I wish to impress upon the Prima Minister that the Norfolk Islanders had the most democratic Constitution to be found south of the line. They were only equalled by the Lands gemeinde in some of the Swiss cantons. They could elect their legislators and pass laws, and they have passed some of the best laws I have ever read, except the land system of the Jubilee mentioned in the Bible. New South Wales, being envious of the island, took up a little difference that had occurred! there and appointed an officer at a salary nearly equal to the whole revenue of the. island. I ask the Minister to accept my suggestion. I am not one who would use the fact on a platform, because it would be unjust. The Ministry had a clause which they thought fitted the case exactly, but they must agree with me that the two exceptions I have pointed out are unjust. The church has a big monopoly on the island, and the men at the cable station are not teetotallers. Their employers can find, on the mainland, plenty of operators who are teetotallers. I would advise the Government, if they are really going in for a policy of prohibition, not torn ake two exceptions. I have nothing to say against the Church of England. My grandfather was a member of the church : I have a respect for it, but, in my opinion, a church which holds such a large area of land on the island, is not doing its duty as a Christian church, and following out the teachings of its great Founder.
.- The more I think over this proposal, the more astounding does it strike me that honorable members will not make the distinctions that ought to be made in connexion with the argument in favour of local selfgovernment. Why is it that on this very dangerous question - this matter which is fraught with so much danger to our territories and to outlying places - they insist on giving the people full rights of self-government, and, on ordinary matters, do not say a word about selfgovernment? It is only on this dangerous matter that my honorable friends propose to give complete self-government. Where is their reason ? Why is this question singled out of all others? Why do my friends opposite wish to empower the people on the island to deal with this dangerous question and to withhold from their control other matters which are not dangerous, which are only useful or otherwise?
– Why discuss this in a party spirit like that?
– I am not discussing it in a party spirit.
– Yes, you are; because you are referring to those opposite.
– I feel warmly over this matter, because I think that the Committee is making a serious mistake. It is my duty to warn the Committee of what is going on.
– The majority think that the Government are making a serious mistake.
– Quite so.
– They have just decided so.
– May I express my opinion ? That is all that I am trying to do. This responsibility is mine in a sense that does not apply to my honorable friends.
– It is not.
– Does not each one of us take the responsibility of his vote?
– Not in the sense that the Government has to take its responsibility. There is a distinction in these matters.
– We have all to face our constituents.
– What is the government of Norfolk Island? It is the government which we expressly preserve in this Bill. It consists of an Executive Council composed of the Resident Magistrate and six members, four being nominated by the Governor of New South Wales. On the island there is no machinery for selfgovernment. Are my honorable friends going to set up elaborate machinery for the purpose of dealing with this matter, and with no other ?
– It is not very elaborate machinery to give them the vote.
– Why is the distinction made? My honorable friends do not propose to give the islanders the vote in any other matter.
– Yes, we will; if you. give us a chance.
– Here is the. chance for my honorable friends. Why should they confine their efforts to the grant of self-government to deal with one dangerous question?
– We will take you at your word; we will extend the principle.
– We will draft a clause to give the islanders the privilege.
– Honorable members will not do much more with the Bill.
– Are you going to apply the closure ?
– I shall have to withdraw the Bill - a really noncontentious measure.
– It is not.
– It is a really non-contentious measure, which my honorable friends agreed to treat as such.
– You are making it contentious.
– And they immediately sprung upon the Committee the great fundamental question of selfgovernment. Nothing has ever been more unfair in the history of this Parliament than the treatment of this little innocent Bill. The other questions can come in their good time, and be discussed, but this is an urgent matter. Reform is badly needed at Norfolk Island. This is not the way to go about rectifying the evils which our predecessors admit do exist. This is practically their Bill. My honorable friends could discover no provision of this kind while they were in responsible positions.
– They would have got it all the same.
– No mention of this kind of thing was made while my honorable friends sat on this side. It is only when they get over there that they begin - for political purposes, it seems to me - to try to introduce into a Bill of this kind provisions affecting fundamental principles of government.
– The honorable member for Franklin is an earnest supporter of the Ministry.
– My remarks are addressed to those to whom they apply, and I make no distinctions. I want to know why the whole machinery of self-government is to be provided in this Bill for one purpose only - the regulation of the liquor traffic. The honorable member for Brisbane has voted to give the people of Norfolk Island the right to say that they will have hotels, that they will manufacture liquor, sell it, and supply it. The Government takes up the attitude that no permission should be given for the manufacture or sale of liquor, and that no liquor should be imported except through the Government Resident. The honorable member for Brisbane has voted to give the people of Norfolk Island the right to manufacture liquor if they so desire. We say that they ought not to have that right, and that we shall not allow them to manufacture liquor, because we think that, in a community like theirs, the Government should have an oversight of matters relating to the moral and social welfare of the people. We propose, therefore, to try to defeat the clause which has been carried in favour of giving the Norfolk Islanders the right to open hotels. We propose to ask the Committee to negative the clause, and to give us the right to control the importation of liquor as it is being controlled to-day, in a manner that, admittedly, is perfectly satisfactory from every point of view.
– The Prime Minister has discussed, in a strongly partisan spirit, a matter which is wholly non-party. He did not confine himself to facts, but misrepresented the position so far as it was possible for the human mind to do so. He accused the honorable member for Brisbane of voting in favour of the sale of liquor and its manufacture in Norfolk Island, and of giving the Norfolk Islanders the right to open hotels. The honorable member, however, voted to prevent the sale and manufacture of liquor in Norfolk Island. He voted against the introduction of liquor into the island, but the Prime Minister voted in favour of giving the Norfolk Islanders the right to sell liquor and to manufacture it, and the right to open hotels.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– That was the effect of the honorable gentleman’s vote. He has accused the honorable member for Brisbane of doing the very thing which he did himself. There could not have been a stronger misrepresentation of the position. He tried, in characteristic fashion, to twist the situation, and his statement was not in accordance with facts.
– Does local option mean the right to have liquor if you choose?
– Of course it does.
– We voted to prohibit the importation of liquor into Norfolk Island, and the Prime Minister voted against the prohibition. The first vote was for the prohibition of the sale, manufacture, and importation of liquor. We, on this side, voted for the prohibition, but the Prime Minister voted against it. Now he tries to excuse himself before certain persons in the community. Of course, if he likes to twist and twirl, which is a speciality with him, I do not know that I have any right to call attention to the matter.
– I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you hear these insults which are pouring out of this ex-Speaker.
– I ask whether the Prime Minister is in order in continually referring to the honorable member for Kennedy as the ex-Speaker? I hold that he is entitled to refer to him only by the name of his constituency.
– I do not mind.
– I am entitled to say that he is the ex-Speaker. There is no other title that fits him so well, so far as I know.
– It is not in order to refer to an honorable member except by the name of his constituency. The honorable member for Kennedy having made certain remarks that are objected to, I ask him to withdraw them.
– I withdraw what I said if it has hurt the Prime Minister, but I remind him that when he hurls unpleasant statements across the chamber, he must expect to have them returned.
– I hurled none.
– The Prime Minister never does anything else. When
I say unpleasant things, and the compliment is returned, I try to bear it with a good grace. The honorable member for Brisbane moved to insert the following words as a new clause : -
The manufacture, importation, and sale of alcoholic liquors for beverage purposes is prohibited.
The Prime Minister voted against that.
– In favour of a more practical proposal.
– Why does not the Prime Minister explain his position when on his feet, instead of by inter jection ?
– I have done so.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister is to be held responsible for many of his interjections. I believe that there are about 1,000 interjections made by him recorded in the first sixteen numbers of Hansard issued this session. The Government wishes to retain an exemption. If it proposed to abolish the present exemption, the position of the Prime Minister would be logical. If he were prepared to prevent the Melanesian Mission and the cable station from getting liquor, he would be logical, but he wishes to continue the exemption in favour of those places. We say that there should be no exemption at all. If a Government can by Ordinance exempt a section of the community, it could exempt part of the island, and finally we might have a Government allowing the sale of liquor throughout the island. I do not think that the power to do this should be in the hands of any Government. This is a matter for Parliament to decide. Parliament should say definitely what it desires. If matters are left in the hands of the Government, we do not know where we shall stand in the future. These Ordinances have to be laid on the table of the House when Parliament is sitting, or within a certain number of days after the meeting of Parliament, and become law, unless a motion to disallow is carried. Notice must be given of such a motion within fifteen days, but if the Government will not permit it to be discussed, what position arises? The Government could introduce the liquor traffic into Norfolk Island by Ordinance if the Bill were not amended, and it might be impossible for the House to disallow that Ordinance, because of the impossibility of dealing with a motion for disallowance. This being so, we have the right to take the strongest stand on this matter. On a former occasion, when a Constitution Bill was before the House, the Prime Minister voted for prohibition, although he now says that this, being a constitutional Bill, the clause that it is proposed to insert is one which should not be inserted. The honorable gentleman has asked. How is it that we are not prepared to put into the Bill a provision giving the franchise to the people of Norfolk Island ? Will he allow us to do that? If we attempted to do it, he would be the first to rise to a point of order.
– The honorable member may not go into that matter.
– You allowed the Prime Minister to challenge us, and we should have the right to reply to him. I think that we have done the correct thing in providing for local option, seeing that we could not get prohibition. It is one of our first duties to protect the inhabitants of the Commonwealth territories from the sale of intoxicating liquors. I trust that the Committee will stand by the position which it has taken up, and not be browbeaten by the Prime Minister.
– I was not in the chamber when the Prime Minister made references that would have been in order only on the general discussion of the Bill. I endeavour to be fair to both sides, and hope that I am doing my duty in a way that is earning a certain amount of commendation; if not, it will be very unpleasant for me to remain where I am.
– I did not know that you were out of the chair when the Prime Minister was speaking, and if anything I said was offensive to you, I withdraw it, and apologize for having said it.
.- I have always been a strong advocate off local option in Victoria, and I think the question of the adoption of the same principle for Norfolk Island should be easily settled. The first thing to be taken into consideration in approaching this matter is the question whether the people on Norfolk Island are fully qualified to exercise local option. Various views have been expressed in. the Committee this morning upon this point, some honorable members saying that the islanders are qualified, and other honorable members saying that they are not; and, in view of this division of opinion, I think that we should not be forced to come to a decision upon this point until we have the necessary information before us as to the wisdom of intrusting this power to the islanders.
– At least, not until the right of self-government is granted.
– The position is that there is now no power under which they oan properly exercise a local option vote; there is no machinery provided in order to take a poll. The Bill before us’ is merely to give the Commonwealth control over the island, and various things will be necessary before that stage will be reached at which a local option poll can be taken. Any action we take should be based on a proper familiarity with the true position, of things upon the island. We know that there is an Ordinance which prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquor, and we are informed by the Prime Minister that it is proposed to enlarge its scope in order to make it more effective in the direction desired. Because of this I voted against the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane. I believe that the Government are prepared to do something better in this particular direction. The proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane was somewhat bald, whereas the Government are prepared to submit an amendment which will be strictly in accord with the existing order of things. I am prepared to support the Government in their proposal to strengthen the Ordinance in the direction of saving the people of Norfolk Island from the possible evils of the use of intoxicating liquors. Their proposal will be strictly in accordance with law, whereas that of the honorable member for Brisbane would assuredly fail, because it is not in accordance with existing conditions. I give honorable members credit for the fact that they are sincerely in earnest in their endeavour to protect the people of the island from the ravages of strong drink; I am not prepared to say that this proposal is merely a placard, as the Prime Minister, by interjection, has hinted, but I would point out that, as a result of the adoption of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, there is a possibility of the majority’ of the people of Norfolk Island voting in favour of introducing strong drink into the island. In these circumstances, the only attitude that the honorable member for Brisbane can assume, seeing that he has practically lost his proposed clause now that it has been so amended, is to support the Government, who propose to amend the existing Ordinance in the direction of securing exactly what the honorable member desires.
.- The Prime Minister made use of the word “ non-contentious “ when referring to this Bill. There is no contention about taking over the control of Norfolk Island, but an honorable member, in the exercise of his rights, suggested what he considered to be an improvement in the Bill, namely, that the manufacture, sale, and supply of liquor on Norfolk Island should’ be prohibited, and certain honorable members voted against the prohibition thus suggested, and also an amendment to the effect that the residents of the island should have the right to say whether liquor should be sold there or not. Now the Prime Minister, and a majority of his followers, find themselves in a very awkward predicament.
– Not at all.
– All the Prime Minister’s petulance, heat, anger, and charges against this side, and references to publicans, were the outcome of his finding himself in the awkward predicament of having, with a majority of his followers, voted against the principle of local option . I do not know whether the Prime Minister is pledged to local option, but simply breaking an election pledge should not place him in an awkward predicament. I ‘know that he, with the majority of his followers, specifically voted against the principle, and now they seek to find some loophole of escape by suggesting an amendment in the event of this particular clause being defeated.
Several Ministerial members intersecting,
– Let the honorable member make his non-party speech.
– Order I
– I am not concerned with the Prime Minister’s interjection. The Prime Minister is the chief interjector in the chamber. Strange to say, the moment he rises on his feet, if there be one interjection, he looks imploringly at the Chairman or Speaker, and pleads for silence, but any other honorable member who is speaking is subjected to a constant outpouring of interjections by the Prime Minister. I do not object to- that. In- this instance, the Prime Minister has made a bitterly partisan speech, and made charges against this side - charges that were offensive to every sense of justice and to the truth, and which he had to withdraw - with the object of covering up his own awkward predicament at finding himself voting against the principle of local option.
Colonel Ryrie. - As applicable to Norfolk Island.
– We had two speeches from the Prime Minister. In the first lie said that we were passing the Constitution for Norfolk Island, and the islanders could have what laws they wished. In his second speech he contradicted this, fortunately for himself, and pointed out that the Bill now under consideration does not give the islanders power to do anything. What it does do is to enable the Federal Government of the day, Labour or Liberal, to make all the laws it chooses with respect to Norfolk Island by Ordinances, whether Parliament be in session or not. When these Ordinances are made they are the law for the island, and remain such unless disallowed by resolution of Parliament, and it will be a comparatively easy matter to prevent Parliament discussing any Ordinance if the Government so desire, just as Parliament is now prevented from discussing regulations which have the force of law. The position is that the islanders have no power to make laws for themselves, but if the clause proposed by the honorable member for Brisbane - as amended by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - be added to the Bill, then they will have the right to vote in respect of the liquor question. And who are better qualified ,to say “yea” or “ nay “ as to’ whether liquor is to be admitted, manufactured, or sold on the island ? There have been statements made that these islanders are coloured people or half-castes, and that they have island blood in them. I have not had the privilege of visiting the island, but those who have been there assure me that these aspersions are not justified, and that the people are almost on an equality with ourselves so far as purity of race is concerned, if there be any purity of race to brag about. Also, it is said that they are distinctly democratic in their tendencies, and that they have a full knowledge of their own requirements, and are qualified to govern themselves. It is suggested that in the future there may be some sort of a Constitution under which they may govern themselves. It seems to me most proper that they should start with one or two questions, and what better questions could there be to start with than the right to say whether the sale, manufacture, or importation of liquor should be permitted ? I have been in favour of the local-option principle for many years. I voted for it in State politics. We claim the principle as a right in our individual States. Why not give it to this island ? There is no reason why it should be objected to. Even as it is now, ‘the Ministry would let the matter go but that they seek some escape from the last vote they gave, and consequently they are attempting to repeat, with a slight alteration, a proposal that they actually by their votes defeated this morning.
– Do you not know that the amendment suggested by the Minister was read out to the Committee before any vote was taken ? Why this misrepresentation ?
– There is no misrepresentation. These exhibitions of temper, petulance, and irritability - if the honorable member was a little older, I would say irascibility - are becoming rather painful. No member of the Opposition can say two consecutive sentences without these interjections from the Prime Minister, all calculated to mislead the electors.
– I must ask the Prime Minister to cease from interjecting.
– Of course, if it be any consolation to the Prime Minister, I admit that his amendment was read out before the vote was taken, because the pulse of the Committee had been felt. It was beyond doubt how the vote was going. First, that there would be a majority against total prohibition, and, secondly, that there would be a majority in favour of local option. Therefore, seeing the predicament in which they would be placed, the amendment indicated by the Minister of External Affairs was intimated to the Committee. It is of a tricky character, and is, with some slight exceptions, what the Committee have already voted against. We voted against total prohibition; the amendment suggested is -
The manufacture or, except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force in Norfolk Island, the sale or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited.
Let me pub this in my own way - the manufacture, sale, or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited in Norfolk Island, except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force there. The Ordinance permits the Melanesian Mission to touch liquor to a slight extent, and it permits a few telegraph people to have liquor. The Committee have distinctly voted on a prohibition touching the whole of Norfolk Island. It would have taken away the right of the Mission and the few telegraph people to have liquor. The amendment suggested by the Government prohibits the sale, manufacture, or supply of liquor, except to these two or three people. I am justified in saying that, first, the Government voted against prohibition, and now, by a tricky amendment, they seek to escape the consequences of their action of having voted against the local-option principle; they seek by the use of a few words to show that they are voting to prohibit the sale of liquor in Norfolk Island. They want to go back upon the ground they have trodden over, and to be able to peddle from their point of view with the temperance people outside, whose principles they have, no doubt, offended by the vote they recently gave.
– Do you think they have ?
– If the thought were not in the Prime Minister’s mind, he would not have shown anger. He would not propose this amendment, which embodies all that he voted against an hour and a-half ago, but an hour and a-half is plenty of time for him to change his principles. I have been in favour of the local-option principle for many years, and if I grant it by my vote to people whom I represent in the State, why should I not do the same with other people ? There is nothing about the Norfolk Island people that we should deny them the right to exercise their opinion with respect to this question. It is an insult to them to deny them that right. I voted against total prohibition, and believe in the people governing themselves in these matters, and, therefore, I voted infavour of the principle of local option. In the circumstances, I find myself unable to assist the Government in their attempted trickery.
– No more unjust or unfair statement can be made than that which has just been made by my honorable friend on the other side, that the vote recorded by a number of honorable members was a vote against temperance. As a matter of fact, it is a question as to how we can best govern inthe highest interests of the people of Norfolk. Island. Having adoptedthe principle of local option for Papua, we should adopt it also for Norfolk Island. It is said that delays may occur before the local option provisions come into operation. Machinery, of course, has to be provided, and if that is so, it is an objection that must be reckoned with. We should, therefore, make certain that the present very excellent laws should remain in operation until machinery to bring local option into force takes its place. That is a matter upon which the whole Committee is reasonably agreed. I do not suggest that those who voted on this side are against local option per se. It was simply a question as to which was the better course in the circumstances.
– Why not have both of them ?
– That is what I want to bring about. The Committee may agree to leave the clause practically as it stands, with the addition of a proviso that it is not to come into operation until the necessary machinery laws have been passed.
– Does the Government agree to that?
– No. The Government take up the ground that the grant of self-government must precede the grant of local option.
– That is exactly what I am arguing for, and a proviso of that kind can be added to the existing clause.
– But the Prime Minister told us that they already had a system of self-government.
– I think it is only a very nominal system. It will be necessary to add later on the necessary provision for a system of local selfgovernment, and in preparing an administrative measure of that kind it would be requisite to provide the proper machinery to bring it into operation.
– Do you suggest that we should institute machinery to give the people a vote on this question, and on no other?
– No. I say it is desirable in the administrative Bill that will have to be brought in to make some machinery provisions to carry out the’ local option clauses of this Bill.
– I am not in favour of local option for these islands.
– I differ from my honorable friend in that regard. As the Committee has by a substantial majority assented to the principle of local option, it is quite competent to frame a proviso that the present system shall remain in operation until the administrative Bill is introduced with machinery to bring local option into operation. That will be a reasonable compromise.
.- I must admit that I am at loggerheads with myself on this question. I have always been strongly in favour of local option, and have consistently voted in favour of it in the electoral laws. Unfortunately, I do not know these islanders, and do not know whether they are really capable of judging for themselves on such a question as the drink problem, but I have been assured by the honorable member for Melbourne that they are quite capable of doing so. The honorable member for Kooyong has suggested a real way out of the difficulty. Let us delay the taking of the local-option poll until selfgovernment shall have been granted. . I am pledged to local option in the Federal Territories, not only by word of mouth, but by my signature, and could not depart from my pledges. The islanders are, perhaps, slightly different from the people of the mainland, but as I am assured that they can decide for themselves, and as the proposition of the honorable member for Kooyong will give them the opportunity to exercise their franchise in this respect later on, I must strongly support the honorable member’s suggestion.
.- My views have, if anything, become hardened by the speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, by yourself, and by the honorable member for Echuca. The gentle taunt coming from the honorable member for Franklin regarding my voting as a Tory on this question is, perhaps, hardly worthy of a rejoinder. My one object throughout the discussion, both upon the original proposal and the amendment now before the Committee, has been to leave this matter, as far as possible, in the unlimited discretion of the people of this dependency. I hope, therefore, I shall not be accused by the Prime Minister of taking up a party attitude. He says he is absoutely opposed to intrusting these people with the determination of this matter by means of local option.
– Under this proposal, yes.
– The honorable member for Echuca refers to them as a simple people, who are not to be so trusted, and you yourself said that in a matter of this kind they should not be so trusted, seeing that they had no voice in other matters of governmental machinery. Two wrongs cannot possibly make a right, and if, in the exigencies of the present political situation, we are not able to give them the franchise, that is no reason why, when a motion of this kind is before the Committee, I should vote in any other direction than to leave the matter in the discretion of the people themselves. I was opposed to prohibition, as I am not one of those who think they can set up codes of morality for a dependency like this and expect the people there to obey them, or surround them with all kinds of restrictions which we would not think of imposing upon ourselves. I give the honorable member for Brisbane credit, for consistency in that respect, because he did commence with ourselves. The issue is between local option and the existing conditions. The existing conditions are governed by an Ordinance which prescribes a certain measure of prohibition. I do not believe in prohibition. I do not believe in Ordinances, and I, therefore, propose to accept the local-option proposal. I do not want to impose on these people the obligation of taking a localoption poll if they do not desire to do so, but seeing that .there is an alternative between the existing conditions, which leave the distribution of liquor in the hands cf the Government^ Resident, and leaving it in the hands of the people themselves, I am absolutely in favour, as between those two, of an unlimited discretion being reposed in the people to take a local-option poll if they think fit. The sooner the people there have a vote in this respect the better. My vote, if challenged, will go on the side of giving them an opportunity of taking a poll whenever they think fit.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.16 p.m.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the following new clause be added : - “ The manufacture or, except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force in Norfolk Island, the sale or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; Standing Orders suspended and report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) proposed - .
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I arrived in the chamber just too late to hear the new clause added, on the motion of the Minister, read. I should like to learn what its substance is.
– It really allows the existing law in Norfolk Island to remain as it is. It prohibits the manufacture, sale, or supply of alcoholic liquor on the island, except in accordance with the present law.
– That is an extra safeguard ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th September, (vide page 1262), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Two months have elapsed since this Bill was last under our consideration, and as in the interval honorable members have had an opportunity to fight amongst themselves on contentious matters, I hope that they will be prepared to give a wholesome and generous support to this very deserving measure, which has really no party aspect, and can tend only to the betterment of every Australian citizen. When I dealt with this subject on a previous occasion, I pointed out, to some extent, the disadvantages under which agriculturists labour in Australia by reason of the absence of scientific knowledge to help them to cope with many of the natural enemies of agriculture. Since then I have had an opportunity to visit two of the research farms in our own State. I found that the Victorian State Government, at their central research farm, at Werribee, were doing very good work. If any honorable member needs to be impressed with the true value of the practical application of scientific methods of agriculture, then I recommend him to pay a visit to that farm. In approaching it from different directions, we found that many of the crops were in a very backward state. This, no doubt, was due largely to the light rainfall for the season, but it was also due to the farming methods employed, and it was not until we reached the State Agricultural Farm itself that we really saw the advantages that are being derived to-day from the practical application of the best-known means of agriculture. I commend the work performed by the Victorian Director of Agriculture, and his lieutenant, Mr. Richardson, one of the foremost wheat experts of Australia. This subject takes us right into the Federal sphere. We have in the Northern Territory and the Federal Capital area two large tracts of country under the direct control of the National Parliament, and the development of agriculture must play a prominent part in the settlement of those territories. The secondary industries are not likely to gain a footing there until the primary industries have been well advanced. What is sought to be achieved by the establishment of this Bureau of Agriculture is generally the -
Closely associated with any Agricultural Bureau there must also be a Bureau of Veterinary Science. At this early stage of the debate I am unable to anticipate the objections that may be urged against this Bill. I hope there will be none; but from a few interjections made while the Prime Minister was introducing it, I /gather that some honorable members feel that the States themselves are already doing good and sufficient work. I am quite prepared to admit that they are doing good work, but their opportunity to do sufficient work is altogether too restricted. Is the science of agriculture to be limited to any particular State, and to the activities of that State, whose opportunities must naturally be confined to its available resources ? We all know that the pest life of Australia - the diseases peculiar to animal and plant life - know no - State boundaries. I wish to see this nation set up Federal activities of such a nature that we shall be able to pursue these troubles wherever we find them, from one end of Australia to the other. That is one of the objects of the Bill, and it is so de-, signed that co-operation with the States is one of its leading features. Without showing any disrespect to the State authorities, I can safely say that to-day there is practically no laboratory work of any real value to Australia carried on by the State Departments in connexion with the science of agriculture. That, indeed, is admitted by the States. They have certainly very valuable establishments, which are doing good work, but they are not carrying on any real laboratory work of a highly scientific character that is likely to put the science of agriculture in Australia on as high a plane as it ought to be.
– Does not the honorable member think that this is a matter for *,he States themselves?
– No. So far the States have not undertaken laboratory work. In this matter I take the United States as a model. In connexion with the agitation of the National Soil Fertilization League of the United States of America, Congress is at present engaged in considering a vote involving an expenditure of .£2,000,000. There is nothing pettifogging about the United States of America in this regard, and I hope that we shall take a broad view of this question.
– The United States of America is spending £3,750,000 a year on this subject.
– And Congress is now considering a vote of £2,000,000 in connexion with one specific branch, namely, soil fertilization. For the benefit of honorable members, who, perhaps, have not gone into this question, I should like to point out that what is known as the world’s crop of wheat is, approximately, 36,068,000 bushels per annum, the yield being confined chiefly to what are known as the fifteen wheat-producing countries. Without going into tedious details, it might also be well to give the House an idea of the position that Australia holds among these countries with regard to wheat yield and the value of her wheat from the stand-point of its protein contents. In 1909, Belgium headed the list in the world’s wheat yield, with an average of 39.22 bushels per acre. Then came Denmark with 36.90 bushels per acre, and the United Kingdom with 33.85 bushels per acre, Australia being a long way down the list, with an average of 13.43 bushels per acre.
– She was eighteenth on the list.
– Again, in 1910, Belgium headed the list with an average of 32.72; then came Sweden, with an average of 32.48 bushels per acre; the Netherlands, 31.83; and the United Kingdom, 30.48. Then, a long way down the list, came Australia with a diminished average yield of 12.9 bushels per acre.
– Intense culture is carried on in those countries, but it does not exist here.
– That is so; but does the honorable member say that he would object to the introduction of any system by which we could increase Australia’s wheat yield.
– Certainly not.
– Let us look at wh*at has been done in the breeding of wheat. Two men stand out iri this connexion - the late Mr. Farrer and Mr. John DartToo much cannot be said of what Mr. Farrer did by the production of what is known as “ Federation “ wheat. This was first tried in the district where I live in 1906 ; and I happened to have some of the first of it myself. I can safely say that for years nothing has happened in the agricultural world that has done more to put money into the pockets of the producers than the use of this wheat. Mr. Dart is responsible for evolving what is known as “ Dart’s Imperial “ wheat.
– There was also Mr. Marshall, of South Australia.
– Yes; Mr. Marshall has done good work. Mr. Dart originally selected two heads of wheat at Bordertown, South Australia, and from those produced a wheat tha,t has throughout maintained its standard. In the case of the “ Federation “ wheat, however, practical men are now finding signs of degeneracy, the wheat losing many of its original characteristics. For the first few years after this wheat was introduced into the Wimmera and the Mallee, which, we all know, are the granaries of Victoria, it was a very low variety, whereas now it grows over the top of any fence. These are merely two examples of what has been done, not by a continuous and well-designed scheme of wheat hybridization, but by two men, who, from sheer love of the work, have bestowed many advantages on the community.
– Would a Bill of this kind have assisted in that work?
– Most certainly I think it would. The Federal authority has control of the bulk of the finances, and if it could create an Agricultural Department to work in co-operation with the State, much good would be done. The results of laboratory experiments could be tested and demonstrated on farms conducted by the Commonwealth and the States, and the information thus gained could be placed at the disposal of the practical men engaged in agriculture. And what can be said of wheat can also be said of the other cereals, and of the animal and plant life generally of Australia. What has been achieved up to the present has been by the common sense and knowledge of the practical man on the land. He has practically blundered into many of those new methods, if I may so express myself, and has turned his discoveries to advantage with that shrewdness and adaptability that he invariably exhibits. The time has arrived, however, when we find other countries taking leading positions in the science of agriculture; and I am loath to believe that Australia will lag behind when the opportunity is presented to advance. I hope that honorable members on both sides will co-operate in the establishment of a Department of Agriculture in the Federal sphere, because, in my judgment, it will prove of immense service in the working out of scientific problems, which the practical man cannot be expected to understand. A word must be said for what has been achieved by the studmaster. The practical farmer has done a great deal, but the stud-master, whether in wheat, cattle, or sheep, has- made great advances in the matter of increasing the productivity of the country. A man who can add an extra pound or two to the sheep’s back renders, in my opinion, far greater service to Australia than the man who is helping to’ put legislation on the statute-book. After all, so far as Australia is concerned, our secondary industries can move only at a pace regulated by primary production. Although practically 90 per cent, of my constituents are engaged in rural industries, I still felt it my duty, when a candidate, to advocate that every reasonable assistance should be given to the establishment of secondary industries. Now, it is not unreasonable that i should ask those engaged in the secondary industries, whether employers or employed, to join in helping, at so slight a cost to themselves, the primary producers. I complimented the Government on the early introduction of .this Bill, but I cannot compliment them on placing such a small sum as £5,000 on the Estimates in order to carry it into effect.
– That £5,000 is for preliminary expenses.
– But it is not an evidence of the earnestness that I hope is behind the measure. In my judgment, if the vote for the purposes of this Bill, and the vote of £85,000 for the Woollen Mill at Geelong, were reversed, we might have greater hopes of usefulness from the establishment of the Agricultural Bureau.
– Does the Woollen Mill not help the: rural producer?
– It does, but at the present time there are many factories under private enterprise which could provide tunics.
– Orders have to be given two years ahead to private factories.
– I am quite certain that if the Government had entered into negotiations- for the supply, in advance, of tunics, they would have got them. I do not think that, under present conditions, the scientists’ brains are available in Australia to enable the science of agriculture to be developed to the extent to which we hope to see it developed. I say this -without wishing in any way to reflect on those engaged in this work for the States.
– Why do not the farmers join together and do this work for themselves ?
– I expected that question.
– This obstruction of Government business is objectionable. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 50
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it. I do not see what good purpose can be served by a debate of such importance as this being interrupted in the fashion in which the honorable member interrupted it.
– Order ! Will the honorable member discuss the Bill?
– An additional reason for this measure is to be found in the fact that during recent years the lands of Australia have considerably increased in value, thereby placing on the shoulders of the agriculturist an additional burden in the cost of his production. The cost of labour and of services generally has increased, and the higher price of machinery and land has also combined to make much more difficult and less remunerative the business of wheat-growing in particular. That being so, anything we can do to increase the production of the man on the land must give more employment to those directly engaged by the agriculturist, and to those who are engaged in the manufacture of machinery, and must also add to the national wealth. I can conceive of no greater opportunity than this for honorable members to show their practical appreciation of the labours of those who are in partnership with the elements before their industry becomes profitable. Under modern organization the worker leaves home with a certain knowledge of what his day’s labour will be worth to him. Similarly, the manufacturer knows very well what he can charge for his products. But the man on the land is in partnership with the elements, and if they are unfavorable he does not know how he will be able to balance his accounts at the end of the year. He does not know what will be the value of his produce in the markets of the world, and the values that rule in Australia, for most of his products are governed by the markets of the world. In these circumstances, and because of the backward state of the science of agriculture in the Commonwealth, I appeal to honorable members to loyally support the Government in passing this Bill into law in as brief a time as possible.
.- So far as I am concerned, the appeal of the honorable member in respect to the passing of this Bill was quite unnecessary. I realize its importance, and the only thing which grieves me is that we do not devote more time to passing national legislation instead of wrangling in the way that we have been doing during the last few months. I hope that the remainder of the session will be devoted to the consideration of measures which will be of real benefit to the people of Australia.
When I hear honorable members talking of a dissolution, it seems to me that there is a very perceptible circumambient odour of hyprocrisy about the chamber.
– Order ! Will the honorable member address himself to the Bill?
– I know that if I were to form an anti-dissolution society I would get about 100 adherents immediately from both sides of this Parliament. I need hardly remind the House that a Fruit Commission was appointed some time ago, and that, in its report, it strongly recommends the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. There are many ways in which such a Bureau will be of assistance to the primary producers and to all the people of Australia. The honorable member for Wannon has already mentioned that in the United States of America very many millions of pounds are annually expended in the furtherance of this object, and we all know what a great place amongst the productive countries of the world the United States of America has occupied during recent years. I should like to devote a portion of my time this afternoon to discussing a very important agricultural industry, and one which,” I feel certain, will be of great advantage to the people of Australia. This matter was brought forward during the debate on the AddressinReply by the honorable member for Gippsland, who spoke of the cultivation of sugar beet and of the manufacture of beet sugar which are being undertaken in that part of Victoria. Now, it so happens that I come from a part where, taking into consideration the size of the country, more sugar beet is grown, and more beet sugar manufactured, than are grown and manufactured in any other part of the world. I allude, not to the Empire of Germany, but to the little Duchy of Brunswick, in which I was born. Just as the people of Australia speak of their wheat harvests, so the general conversation amongst the people there always has reference to the sugar crop, and to what will be the percentage of saccharine in the beet. Consequently, even one who is not of an observant turn of mind cannot help acquiring some knowledge of the sugar-beet industry. But it has been my good fortune not only to have spent the early days of my life there, but I have since paid two visits to the Fatherland, and, as I felt that the time might come when I would have an opportunity of bringing this question prominently before the people of Australia, I made it my business to become acquainted with the sugar-beet industry to the best of my ability. I had special opportunities of doing so, because it so happened that some of my college friends were engaged in that industry. Some of them had turned their attention to agriculture, and were growing the beet, while others were engaged in the laboratories, and in other positions in the sugar factories and refineries. They were only too pleasedto give me as good an insight into the business as was possible, and I learned as much about it as it is in the province of a layman to do. I wish honorable members, however, to distinctly understand that I do not pose as one who is possessed of expert knowledge. I studied the question to the best of my ability, and I came to realize the immense possibilities which lay before Australia in respect of the cultivation of sugar beet and the manufacture of beet sugar. In very many localities this country, above all others, is as suitable for the growth of good crops of beet as it is for the growth of good crops of wheat, and even more so.
– Will sugar beet stand irrigation?
– In the south-eastern portions of South Australia, at Mount Gambier for example, there is a volcanic soil in many places, and I have never in my life seen root crops grown to such perfection from the stand-point of quality and quantity as I have seen grown there, without irrigation, because there is sufficient rainfall, and, I may add, without much attention. In order to show how prolifically root crops will grow in that part of Australia, I may mention that some years ago a chicory factory was erected at Rendelsham, and during the time it was running it was a financial success. Honorable members may ask why did not the factory keep on running. The explanation is that for some reason or other the people of Australia are tea drinkers, and do not use much coffee, and, of course, less chicory. The demand for chicory was soon more than overtaken by the supply. When I was down in the south-east, not long ago, I saw how prolifically the chicory root is growing wild. Of course, it is not cultivated now. It has practically spread over acres and acres of country in the vicinity of the locality where the factory was in existence.
– Can. we not grow it here?
– Just so. It shows how root crops will grow. I have seen turnips in the little township of Tantanoola, where it will be remembered a tiger used to roam in years gone by. I did not weigh the turnips, but I was told that they averaged seven pounds. They were certainly of good quality, because I had some with my dinner afterwards. In .respect to other root crops, such as onions, in Beachport, I noticed a woman going about with a sugar bag on her back. It was full, and evidently it was fairly heavy. The woman happened to know me, and I got into conversation with her, when I asked what the bag contained. She said, “ Onions.” “Onions?” I exclaimed, because to me they looked like footballs through the bag. I asked how many she had, and she said, “Twelve.” The onions were of such size that twelve nearly filled a 70-lb. sugar bag. It will be recognised that root crops grow to perfection in that part of Australia, and I know that such is the case in other parts. The establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, I am sure, will help that and many other primary industries very much indeed.
– Are you prepared to state the value of a beet crop per acre as compared with onions, potatoes, and such articles?
– I have not- grown any, but I can give the honorable member facts and figures, and show him how the industry has been a perfect blessing, I may say a God-send, to many people on the continent of Europe, and is fast proving itself to be a blessing to the people of the United States, and ‘ will become more so as time passes. It must not be forgotten that, whereas the chicory factory,- although a financial success, could not keep going, the sugar industry is a different thing altogether, because sugar is in constant demand ; indeed the demand is growing. We are consuming per capita more and more sugar as the years roll on. There has been no diminution in the consumption but an increase each year, as statistics prove fully. We do not produce enough cane sugar in. Australia to meet the demand, to say nothing about any export which may take place. It is far better for the people of Australia to spend money in the development of agriculture in the portions which are most inhabited and most congenial to the white race, that is in places where the white race can live in comfort, as they can do in the southern parts where sugar-beet growing would be undertaken.
– Surely you would not neglect the tropical portions of Australia ?
– No. In my opinion the time will come when there will not be a sugar-cane industry in existence in Queensland as there is now. I have my own reasons for expressing that opinion, but I do not want to go into them now, as that would take up too much time. We would have a good substitute in beet sugar. Furthermore, we could produce beet sugar as cheaply, possibly more cheaply, than the people of America do, and as cheaply, I believe, as the people on the continent of Europe do, in spite of the difference in the wages. I will speak about the question of wages later. There is a great demand for sugar, and therefore the sugar industry is on a different footing from the chicory industry.
– Why is not beet-sugar growing a success in Victoria ?
– I am living in hopes that it will be a success yet. I will state one reason why I think it has not been a success. I have never been at the Maffra factory, but I have read statements in connexion with the industry and the percentage of saccharine in the beet grown near Maffra, and worked up into sugar. I do not know whether it was absolutely the case or not, but I have been told that during what “is called the “ campaign,” which lasts about three or four months in the Old Country, the factory was only run with one shift. Is that so?
– I understand that there was ample provision made to deal with the quantity .of beet grown.
– Perhaps the factory had not been able to get the necessary quantity of beet. Unless a factory is run with three shifts during the “ campaign “ - that is during the time when the sugar is made, as is done on the continent of Europe - it means a considerable loss of money. If the factory at Maffra cannot be supplied with the necessary quantity of beet, or if for some reason the factory is worked with only one shift during the busiest portion of the year, that in itself must be a drawback, and that must be why it does not prove such a financial success as it otherwise would do. We know the old saying that Rome was not built in a day. The sugar industry was not built up in a day, even in America, or on the continent of Europe. As a matter of fact, we in Australia stand in a better position, because we can learn and profit by the mistakes which have been made in those countries. We do not need to go through the rigmarole again. We can profit by the mistakes made by the people of those countries, and practically we step into an inheritance which they did not have. When beet was first planted in Europe the yield per acre was very insignificant indeed in comparison with the yield at the present time. Again and again people have gone in for sugar beet growing, and it has not been a financial success, but a distinct failure. There have been failures in France and other parts of Europe. I know that there have been very many failures in Germany. .But, after all, the industry lived through those initial stages of development. It has now been put on a very firm footing indeed, and gives employment to very many thousands, perhaps to hundreds of thousands, of people. As regards the growing of sugar beet and the making of beet sugar, the United States are an object lesson to us. Not until 1888, or just twenty-five years ago, did the growing of sugar beet and the making of beet sugar receive any serious attention there. Yet in 1904, 11,000,000 tons of beet, not sugar, were grown. I do not wish to go back into ancient history, but really the history of sugar beet is very interesting to some people; it is to me, at any rate. I have read very largely on the subject, besides having had ocular demonstration. The beet itself was known to the ancients. I remember reading that even in the time of Pliny the Elder beet was known, and that he looked upon it as a very great adjunct to the food supply of the people. He looked upon beet, next to beans and grain, as the best food supply that the people had at that time. But it was not until 1747 that the idea first originated in the brain of man to get sugar out of the beet. No practical use, however, was made of the discovery until the end of the eighteenth century, when a factory was established. It went ahead very fast during the time of the Napoleonic wars. As honorable members know, Napoleon issued a decree closing the ports of the continent of Europe against the importation of all colonial produce - of course, with the object of dealing a death-blow at the United Kingdom. As necessity is the mother of invention, the people of continental countries had to set their wits to work, and the beet sugar industry received a very great impetus. From that time until now it has grown by leaps and bounds. The first beet sugar factory was established with Government aid in the kingdom of Prussia, and from that beginning a very great industry has been built up. Let us turn now to the United States, and see how the people of that country had to fight against what they looked upon as adverse circumstances, just as we do in connexion with the Maffra factory at the present time, and how they triumphed in a very brief space of time. In 1830 there was a society formed in Philadelphia to grow sugar beet and to make beet sugar. It proved to be a financial failure, and it was very soon a thing of the past. It was not until 1838, in Northampton, in Massachusetts, that any good sugar was made, and then only 1,000 tons were produced1. It was not a commercial success, though several other trials were made, ..but without any tangible result. As I said, it was not until 1888 that the industry was taken in hand in proper style by an individual named Spreckels. He started in California, and from 1888 until now the industry has gone ahead very rapidly indeed. But even up to 1907 only one-fifth of the sugar, including all kinds, which is consumed in the United States was grown there, and grown, too, on less than 250,000 acres of land.
– What is the average net return of sugar from a ton of beet?
– I do not know the average net return of sugar. It is important to remember that it is not the size, but the quality of the beet which has to be taken into consideration. The percentage of saccharine in the beet is the great point, and I am able to inform honorable members that, during the interval from the time when I was a boy until I visited the -Continent again as a grown-up man, the percentage of saccharine in the beet grown on the Continent had been raised from 12 to 18 per cent. I believe that at Maffra the percentage is 16^. I was told by a friend who occupied a prominent position in one of the laboratories of a sugar refinery, that with 18 per cent, of saccharine derived from beet on the Continent, 50 per cent, of the saccharine still remains, so that, under perfect conditions, it should be possible to obtain 27 per cent, of saccharine. The beet industry is of importance, not merely because of the production of sugar from it. The by-products of the industry are of very great value. On the Continent of Europe, strange as it may seem, blacking is made from some of the refuse of the beet. Vinegar is also a by-product. But the most important by-product of the industry which, in the aggregate, is of almost incalculable value, is the refuse leftafter the sugar has been extracted from the beet, when used for the rearing and fattening of sheep and cattle. I was told upon reliable authority that, during one campaign, a factory in America was able to feed no less than 40,000 sheep. I have seen green steers of Urge frame being kept at a beet sugar factory for less than three months, and, when killed, they have turned the scales at over 1,200 lbs. dead weight. Honorable members who know anything about the fattening of cattle and the meat industry will be aware that to secure meat’ of the most succulent and nutritious quality, which it is a pleasure “to eat, it is necessary that the animal should be fattened very quickly After a beast is what we call “ripe,” the sooner it is killed the better the meat will be. The meat of animals fattened in this way will always fetch a fair price, even when the prices ruling for meat of inferior quality are very low indeed. There will always be a ready market for fat cattle and sheep throughout the world. There will, undoubtedly, in the near future, be a great scarcity of animal food throughout the world.
– That is Australia’s greatest opportunity.
– It is absolutely. There is much talk of bringing people here for the defence of the country, but, if we are to defend the country, we must do so by closer settlement. We can only bring about closer settlement by giving people who are brought here inducements to get away from the towns. I consider that, from the point of view of defence, the. development of the beet sugar industry would be of the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth. I do not know how things are done at Maffra, but in America, and in the case of factories I have seen on the Continent of Europe, a refinery is attached to each sugar-beet factory, and the cost of both would be anything up to £150,000. I do not know what has been spent on the Maffra factory. One matter of great importance is that the farmers delivering beet to a factory should not live too far away from it. If they have to cart their beet many miles to the factory the cost must necessarily depreciate their profit. The beet farmers should not, in my opinion, live more than 3 miles from the factory using their crop. Let me say a word or two on the wages question, which is a sore point with honorable members opposite. They think that it is impossible to establish the beet -sugar industry in Australia, because they hold that we cannot compete with the cheaper labour countries on the Continent of Europe. We can grow wheat and wool here in competition with the rest of .the world, although wheat is produced in India at a wages rate of, I suppose, :about 6d. per day, and it is produced in °ot!her parts of the world where the wages of .the industry are not nearly so high as they are here. The same may be said of the wool industry. Our wool is brought into competition with wool produced. in other countries, though the wages paid here are, thank heaven, very much higher than the wages in the same industry in other parte of the world.
– Those industries do not employ much labour.
– That is so; but, in my opinion, one of the advantages of the establishment of the beet industry is that it would induce a large number of people to live by the industry. More money is spent for labour in this industry than in any other primary one I know of. Honorable members may say that wages here are too high to permit of the successful establishment of the industry, but let me inform them that in the United States, where the industry has gone ahead, as I have shown, by leaps and bounds, wages are, if anything, higher than they are here. I have it on excellent authority that
Mr. Claus Spreckels paid the socalled Dago, that is, the Southern European, 12s. a day, and the native-born American 14s. a day. Those wages are higher than the wages paid here, yet Mr. Spreckels made a financial success of the industry, and, as honorable members know, died a multi-millionaire.
– We have not, so far, been able to reach that position with our cane industry.
– One reason for that is that people are not too eager to work in the cane-fields. I should not care to have to do so, and would not do so unless I was compelled. That, however, is a very different proposition from work in the southern portions of the Commonwealth in the industry to which I am referring. I am satisfied that the establishment of the beet industry would be a means of inducing people who come here to go upon the land instead of wandering about the streets of our cities. One honorable member made an inquiry with respect to the prospects from inferior soil. It will not he necessary in Australia to test this industry on inferior soil for many years to come, as there is any amount of superior soil available for the growth of beet. If, however, the time should come when inferior soil has to be used, I may tell honorable members that I have personally known wonderful results to be obtained from soil which would be looked upon as very inferior. Where inferior soil is cultivated, manure must, of course, be used, and if the rainfall is insufficient, there must be irrigation, but in California, and in New Mexico, and other States of America, by manuring and irrigation, beet is cultivated upon comparatively inferior lands, and pays handsome dividends.
– Is it possible to get a good percentage of saccharine where land is irrigated ?
– With inferior soil there must be manuring, and a good deal of labour in thinning the crop, but I have been told that, on irrigated lands, the percentage of saccharine is quite as high from inferior soil as from superior soil. Some persons say that the establishment and conduct of an Agricultural Bureau should be left to the States. It is true that in this matter the States are doing a great deal, but there are some things which it is better that the Federal Government should take in hand, and make their special care. I may instance the work of afforestation, which I look upon as a national matter.
– The State Parliaments would not permit of any interference.
– We have no power under the Constitution to interfere in that matter.
– Then the Constitution should be altered so that we might have the power. I look upon afforestation as a matter of national importance, and, from the stand-point of political economy, as of as much importance as our defence system. The defence system is under Federal control, and afforestation should also be taken in hand by the Federal authority. Some honorable members may have read the remarks which have been made by Sir Rider Haggard on the subject of the deforestation of Australia. This has always been a very sore point with me, and I have regretted the state of things that has existed. I am satisfied that the existence of well dispersed forests in any country means an increased rainfall.
– Does the honorable member think that that conclusion has been established?
– I do not say that it is an established fact, but that it is my belief. I do not pose as a man of science, and I know there is a difference of opinion on this matter, but I have a reason for arriving at the conclusion I have expressed. I have lived long enough to see the great barons and nobility of Russia becoming poorer and poorer as time goes on. A gentleman from Russia told me, and I have also read a statement to the same effect, that one of the reasons for this has been the deforestation of their lands. At one time they had thousands of square miles of forests. After the abolition of serfdom by the ukase of Nicholas II., the barons of Russia found it increasingly difficult to fill their exchequers, and they set to work to cut their forests down as quickly as possible. Whether it be a coincidence or not,I am unable to say, but the fact remains that since the denudation of the country of forests, those parts of Russia have been frequently visited with recurring droughts, and consequent famine amongst the peasantry.
– Has the rainfall in those parts actually decreased?
– The emancipation of the Russian serfs took place only about sixty years ago, and the interval has not been sufficiently long to prove the conclusion, but even if the rainfall has not actually decreased as a result of deforestation, honorable members are aware that the forests retain moisture. That moisture is gradually evaporated, and the generally accepted theory is that it again produces rain, though no one who has not lived in countries where forestry is a science, and where forests, farms, and plains are intermingled, knows the delights and advantages which forests bring to a countryside. Besides, the commercial value of timber is constantly increasing. There is already a timber famine. I read the other day that some of the timber coming here is too sappy, which shows that the trees are being cut down when immature, or at a wrong time of the year. It is the duty of this National Parliament to protect the interests, not only of the present population of Australia, but also of posterity, and to provide against -future evils. The Bureau, :I trust, will be not only a bureau- of agriculture, but also a bureau of arboriculture.
– -Live stock and forestry come within the -scope of the -Bill.
– I know that is so. One honorable member has spoken of the export of fat lambs; that is a thing that the ‘State has not taken up as it should have done. The prices of cattle and sheep have .gone up very much of late years; but, unfortunately, in South Australia, at any rate, .notwithstanding seven good seasons in succession, the number of sheep has decreased.
– Because the lambing percentage has been going down every year.
– When I see thousands of lambs being bought for export, and find that a large percentage of them are ewe lambs, I fear that the squatters are losing sight of their own interests, and are pursuing a suicidal policy. There was a time, as some of us are old -enough to remember, when the pastoral industry was in very sore straits. I remember that, on one occasion, 600 cattle were sent from .Currawillinghi, in Queensland, to-be sold in Adelaide, and that the owners had subsequently to remit’ a cheque for £27 to pay the expenses, the prices obtained not being sufficient. That was before there was an export trade. I, myself, not once, but many times, “have bought 40-lb. lambs at ‘5s. a-piece - a price which could not pay the squatter. It was no wonder, then, that some of them were anxious to leave the land, and to get into the cities. But the .position has been altered by the establishment of an export trade; and it is our duty to see that this trade expands, until we are sending regular supplies to the countries that are our customers.
– We may have to consider keeping here approved females.
– Yes. I have been assured that, in South Australia, the merinos are deteriorating.
– The man who says so does not know what he is talking about.
– I am merely repeating what I have heard said on the subject. When the continental countries compel their Governments to remove the duties on imported meat, the millions of Europe will be splendid customers to Australia and other cattle and sheep-raising countries, and a Federal Bureau of Agriculture should assist the development of this trade. It is all very well for some farmers to say, “ We are hard-headed, practical men, and these new-fangled ideas are of no assistance to us “ ; but the young farmers and graziers do not take that view. The adoption of better modes of agriculture has greatly increased production, and the laboratories of the proposed Bureau ought to result in the discovery of further improvements. Every day we read of new ideas “and new methods of production. There are other subjects which I should like to go into if time would permit. There is, for instance, aviculture. The poultry business should be a very profitable one to Australia. Some honorable members may not be aware that the egg and poultry production of the United States of America is worth more than any other primary production of the country, including wheat. What part df -‘God’s earth is -better suited to the ‘poultry industry ‘than Australia? Here the hens, because of the genial climate, lay all the year round. -One -lady assured me that she got ‘260 ‘eggs in a season from a Leghorn h’en. We have far better .climatic conditions than any other part of the world for aviculture. -In England, the United States, and -Canada, the birds have to be housed in the winter, and we know that fowls do not lay in cold weather-; but here in Australia the climate is so suitable that they lay practically all the year round. There is an unlimited opportunity in this direction, in respect not only to eggs, but also to the raising of poultry for the market. Recently, it was my task to go round the district that I now represent, and because I might at some time in the future go in for poultry raising, I took the opportunity to make inquiries as to how the industry was paying. With the exception of one man who had not tried it very long, all from whom I inquired assured me that, though, in most cases, it was not a regular business, but merely something to augment their incomes in ot her directions, poultry farming was a financial success. Honorable members representing New South Wales constituencies will remember that some years ago there was a gentleman who kept a duck farm at Botany. That gentleman proved absolutely that on a few acres of ground he had netted £1,000 a year out of ducks alone. So we can see what a great field there is for a Bureau of Agriculture. I hope this Bill will receive the earnest attention of members on both sides of the House. Thank goodness, it is not a measure over which wrangling need take place If we pass it, no matter what may be said of this Parliament otherwise, the people of Australia and posterity will have cause to bless it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Patten) adjourned.
” The Case for Labour “ : Statements by the Prime Minister and Senator Millen.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to call the attention of the House to a statement made by Senator Millen, Leader of the Government in another place, in speaking on Wednesday last to a motion by Senator McGregor.. He is reported on page 3274 of this session’s Hansard to have said–
– The honorable member cannot quote from a report of proceedings that have occurred in another place.
– Very well. I can say that Senator Millen has declared that in an article written by me for the Sydney Daily Telegraph, under the heading of “ The Case for Labour,” I boasted that the Opposition had prevented the Government doing any business. I have before me the article to which allusion was made, and because the statement of Senator Millen was so outrageously inaccurate, and there was absolutely no excuse for it, I propose to read just what I wrote. Dealing with the question of a double dissolution, and the action of the Government in sending certain measuresto the Senate, and making them test measures, I wrote -
And having sent their absurd little tomtit egg to the Senate the Government takes every precaution to prevent it being hatched !
The Position in the Senate.
Remember, that until the Senate has dealt with, this measure - or some other - twice, an interval of three months intervening - all talk of a double dissolution is mere idle babble. Remember that the Government has control of the business of the House of Representatives, and can (and does) force through any measure it pleases within twenty-four hours.
Remember that, although in the Senate it is in a hopeless minority, it is for this purpose none the worse off, since it does not want to pass its measures, but to have them rejected (for only by rejection of its Bills can it pave the way to a double dissolution). Its policy, therefore, if it were in earnest, would be to invite rejection of its measures. The key of the situation is in the hands of the Senate. Unless it rejects the measures upon which the Government elects to go to the country there can be no double dissolution. Directly it does reject them, the first step to a double dissolution has been taken.
This is a plain statement of the case, and admits of no argument. Any Government desirous of bringing about a double dissolution would have lost no time in sending up its measures to the Senate, and compelling it to accept or reject them. But, as already pointed out, this is just what the Government has most carefully refrained from doing. Confronted with our challenge to go to the people at once, it blusters about “ a double dissolution.” It pretends to want to go to the electors, and declares that both Houses must go. Placed in a position to bring about a double dissolution by compelling the Senate to take action, it shuts the Senate up and goes home ! It has shut up the Senate for a fortnight. The pretext given was that the vote of no-confidence had been moved in the House of Representatives. But the debate on that vote was stifled within two hours of its commencement. And the Government knew that it was to be so stifled. What terms are we to apply to men who put forward such a pretext for the adjournment of the Senate in such circumstances? And this practice of adjourning the Senate - the House which is to settle the issue and bring about a double dissolution - has been all along the settled policy of the Government. It has adjourned the Senate upon every conceivable pretext. The House of Representatives has sat some fifty-five days during the session. The Senate has sat just seventeen.
In the face of these facts the Government stands condemned. Its pretence that it has stifled free speech in order to get on with public business, that it refrains from going to the electors because it desires that both Houses should go, is cut to mincemeat by this plain, unadulterated statement of the fact. The declaration of the Government that it is anxious to get to the electors either by way of a single or double dissolution is a mere hypocritical pose. They are afraid to go to the people. The facts prove that they resolutely refrain from doing those things which must be done if an appeal to the people is to be made. Their pose of feverish anxiety “to get on with public business” is stripped bare. They have all along, and they are now, taking every care that no public business of any benefit to the public is done, and, above all, they are taking care that the Senate shall have no chance of creating the condition which must precede an appeal to the people.
In face of that extract there is only one term to apply to Senator Millen’s reference, and parliamentary practice does not permit me to use it. I now come to a statement made by the Prime Minister, which appeared in this morning’s Argus, and is under the headings “Who wastes time ?” “ Value of figures,” “ Prime Minister’s Salary,” and winds up with a reference to a quotation from an article by myself. Speaking of the Senate he says -
Only the other day Mr. Hughes wrote of it as follows : - “The will of the people must prevail! What hyprocitical cant this is about the Senate blocking the will of the people. Why, the Senate was created for no other purpose than to block the will of the people.”
That purports to be an extract from “ The Case for Labour,” and to represent my opinion in the matter. The Prime Minister comments upon it in these words -
Those are the utterances of Democratic leaders in these valiant days.
I want to read what I did say, in order that I may convict the Prime Minister of what is an inexcusable act on the part of a public man. In the Daily Telegraph of Saturday, 13th September, in “ The Case for Labour,” after dealing, under the heading of “ A Double Dissolution,” with the functions of the Senate as set forth in the Constitution and elsewhere, I go on to say -
Look upon this picture and upon that, and marvel at the inconsistency of man. In this Senate, whose mere existence the united press of Australia now declares makes good government impossible; that same august and sacred body which but a little while back was the very rock upon which alone good government was possible. Is this iconoclastic and turbulent body now credited with the fell purpose of amending the legislation of the heaven-born Liberal Ministry, with their policy of “ sound, honest, and economical government” in the interest of the people; that same venerable and august chamber created to safeguard the interest of privilege, by amending and rejecting all legislation threatening the interest of privilege ? Ah ! this is the whole trouble. The Senate has become, by some frightful mischance, Democratic - it represents the people, and so it must be dissolved, and the people bulldosed and gulled into electing one representing vested interests. The will of the people must prevail ! How the little tin gods must laugh at this gibe. The will of the people must prevail ! What hypocritical cant this is about the Senate blocking the will of the people ! Why, the Senate was created for no other purpose than to block the will of the people, and as long as it did that it was revered by those who created it. The Senate must be dissolved. Whilst Labour was in a minority in that Chamber not one word of criticism was ever directed against the Senate or its methods. A glamour rested upon its functions and the manner in which it performed them. And there was no word, no whisper, of any attempt or necessity for sending the Senate’ prematurely to the people. Whilst the Senate served the purposes of plutocracy such a proposal would have been regarded as sacrilege. But when the Senate, which had been confidently expected to review and suspend pestiferous reforms, became imbued with the spirit of the age, and threatened to “ review and suspend “ legislation against the interests of the people, then it became anathema ! And with one accord, from Dan to Beersheba, the voices and organs of the plutocracy demanded its dissolution. To turn down measures in the interests of the people is the crowning political virtue, and those that do this are patriots. But to threaten legislation in the interests of plutocracy is a crime for which those who are guilty must die. But it will not die yet.
– Go on a bit.
– That is the end. After that there is a reference to Mr. Chamberlain’s cough remedy, which I give the honorable member in.
– There is a further reference.
– I have read to the end.
– I say I have.
– You have not read it all.
– Order ! These contradictions across the chamber are not in order.
– The honorable member is an infamous liar.
– The honorable member must withdraw and apologize for those words.
– I withdraw and apologize. I have read to the end.
– I said you had not readitall.
– Very well, I will read it all.
– Read what is material.
– I have shown what the honorable member has done, or what has been done by those to whom he gave this work.
– Go on; I am coming after you.
– I am not going to say that the honorable member did it. But I do say that he is responsible for the statement, and that I hope he will be man enough to apologize for it. The sentence in my writing which has been emasculated and, cut in half by the knife of a political assassin, is as follows: -
What hypocritical cant this is about the Senate blocking the will of the people ! Why, the Senate was created for no other purpose than to block the will of the people, and as long as it did that it was revered by those who created it.
Was there ever such a crowning illustration of the tactics to which men will descend for party purposes ? If the Prime Minister challenges me, I will read the article from end to end. I do not sup- pose the honorable member has time to look up all these things himself, but whoever did this workon his behalf marked the quotation deliberately, cutting it off in the. middle of a sentence, and completely altering it so that what was black became white. It has come to a pretty pass when the Leader of the Government in the Senate makes me responsible for a statement which I never uttered, and which I have proved could not be based on. anything I had written. In fact, I said the very opposite of what Senator Millen attributed to me. Then the Prime Minister makes himself responsible for a further statement which is equally inaccurate. In the whole history of this Parliament I have never known an instance of such wilful misquotation. It is made to appear that I said the Senate was created to block the will of the people, and that I left off there.
– I say so still.
– The honorable member would cut the words of the Redeemer himself in half.
– Mr. Speaker, do you permit this blasphemy in the chamber.
– I would ask the honorable member not to use language of this kind.
– What language?
– I do not think it is fit that the name of the Redeemer should be brought into debates as it has been, but I would remind the Prime Minister that he himself by his interjection is partly responsible for the outburst.
– I am speaking perfectly in order. The man who would do what the Prime Minister has done would make a saint appear to be a filthy, contemptible, and loathsome sinner. I shall leave it at that. The statements made are quite inaccurate. My words have been deliberately turned upside down. What I wrote has been cooked to suit the purposes of the party opposite. I protest in the most emphatic way against it, and I ask you, sir, as the guardian of the honour of the House, to compel the honorable member to apologize for. the action for which he is responsible.
.-I wish to ask the Prime Minister to be, good; enough to say, before he deals with other matters, whether he has yet arrived at a decision in regard to the insertion of cross-headings in reprints of speeches from Hansard published for honorable members at their own expense.
– Is it 60,000 or 120,000 copies that you want?
– I do not know that we want any thousands.
– I think I was told that 60,000 copies were required.
– What we ask is that private members may enjoy the same privileges in this regard as the Treasurer has taken to himself as the Minister controlling the Printing Department.
– Why does not. the right honorable gentleman say that he wants 120,000 copies?
– I do not.
– The right honorable gentleman asked for that number.
– I did not.
– Mr. Allen told me that you wanted 120,000 copies.
– I suppose that the right honorable member–
– Order ! The Treasurer is not in order in interjecting in this way.
– There is no need for the display of any heat. We questioned the Government Printer on the subject, and, obeying orders, like a good officer, he said that he could print up to 50,000 copies - that, I think, was the number mentioned - but that, by direction of the authority controlling him, he could not insert cross-headings in these re-prints. The Treasurer himself delivered a speech–
-Why travel all over this subject again ? Why not let us get home?
– I am putting a question to the Prime Minister. The Government Printer having said that he could not insert cross-headings in reprints from Hansard, because of a direction received from the Treasurer–
– That is not so.
– I cannot say that the Government Printer used those words, but that is the effect of a communication that has been made to me. The Treasurer told the House yesterday that he had caused to be published at the Government expense reprints from Hansard of speeches delivered by him. I do not think that was ever done before, except in regard to a Budget statement. In that respect, therefore, the Treasurer, as a Minister, is enjoying a privilege which is not extended to private members.
– It was not done for party purposes.
– I am referring to a reprint from Hansard of the speech delivered by the Treasurer on the Loan Bill. It was undoubtedly a party speech, and the Treasurer was allowed by the House to read it. I presume that honorable members have some rights. Honorable members are here, not because they are the “Right Hon. William John Jones” or “ Sir Thomas Nobody.” They are here because they represent various constituencies, and they speak only in the names of those constituencies. Individualities count for nothing in this House. Honorable members speak in the name of those whom they represent, and unless they can speak and act in their names, and enjoy equal rights, then this must cease to be a democratic House. A democratic franchise is useless unless we have a democratic Parliament.
– Who suggests anything to the contrary?
– That this is not a democratic House is exemplified every day. It is borne out by the Treasurer’s own statement. He has done one thing for himself, and is the Ministerial head of a Department which has denied the same right to another honorable member.
– That is not fair.
– I am speaking now subject to what the Prime Minister may say. The honorable gentleman promised the House yesterday that he would think over the matter, and probably make a statement to-day. If he is not prepared to do so now, I hope that he will give us his decision as early as possible. As Leader of the Opposition I am here to preserve the rights and privileges of every honorable member.
.- This question has cropped up a number of times -
– Honorable members want to stop me from catching my train and going home to-night.
– We are here to discuss public matters.
– Nothing like this was ever done on a Friday afternoon while the Labour party was in power. Why cannot honorable members be fair.
– I do not want to prevent the honorable gentleman from getting home, and I shall, therefore, sit down at once.
– I promise the Prime Minister, who appears to be restless, that I shall take only two or three minutes in bringing before the House a question which I consider to be of importance. The Defence Department, I understand, are about to import eighteen howitzers, and propose also to import an ammunition waggon for each of them. The excuse is offered, by the officers of the Department, I take it - I may be wrong in blaming them, but they seem to want to import as much as they can - that these ammunition waggons are to be brought out as patterns for the manufacture of another thirty-two waggons. Even if they are of a new typo one should be quite sufficient, and I think it would be just as well for the Ministry to take this matter in hand at once. I do not blame the Ministry; we know that departmental officers do this sort of thing. But, instead of bringing out eighteen, they should import only one, and manufacture the balance in Australia. It is not said that it is proposed to import these waggons as a matter of urgency. We have here shops which can make the waggons, and I hope that the Government, even at this late hour, will take action, and say that forty-nine instead of thirty-two shall be manufactured in Australia.
– We have listened for a quarter of an hour to a tirade of vitriolic and virulent abuse from the honorable member for West Sydney, and we have listened also whilst he has read into Hansard a tissue of misstatements, not one of which has a tittle of truth in it.
-I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the words “ not one of which has a tittle of truth in it.”
– I say that the honorable member has written to a newspaper statements which are not true, and that he has read these into Hansard.
– The honorable member said that the honorable member for West Sydney had read into Hansard certain statements which had not a tittle of truth. He is not in order in making that statement.
– I spoke of extracts from his own writings in a newspaper. I have yet to learn that such a statement is unparliamentary.
– I say that there is not a tittle of truth in any of the statements he makes.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the statement. An honorable member is just as much out of order in saying that an honorable member has read into Hansard untrue statements as he would be in saying that he had put into Hansard verbal untruths uttered in his speech.
– Shall I say that the honorable member has written in this newspaper a series of misstatements which have not a tittle of truth in them ? He writes that we have been deliberately blocking our own business all the session - that we have not tried to get it through. However, those statements may be allowed to pass without further notice; I am not going to even pay the honor able member the compliment of contradicting them. The simple record in today’s newspapers tells its own tale. As to the representations alleged against me, I have not time to deal with the honorable member in full. I say that nothing he has read has modified my statement in one iota.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– I must ask the honorable member for West Sydney to withdraw those words.
– Very well; I withdraw them.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.The following is a statement written by the honorable member, in “ The Case for Labour,” on the 13th September: -
The will of the people must prevail ! What hypocritical cant this is about the Senate blocking the will of the people ! Why, the Senate was created for no other purpose than to block the will of the people.
There is nothing in what the honorable member has read that modifies those words in the slightest degree. But in that same article another sentence occurs which the honorable member did not read. It is as follows: -
That it may reject legislation sent up by the House of Representatives is quite possible. It was for that very purpose it was created.
– That is right.
– The time has gone for the honorable member’s virulent abuse, and his blasphemy !
– Cannot the honorable member be a man for a few minutes?
– Is the Prime Minister in order in accusing another honorable member of blasphemy?
– I dealt with that matter at the time, and I ask honorable members not to revive the incident.
– Later, the honorable member for West Sydney wrote : -
They say now-
– What date is that article ?
– Will the honorable member be quiet?
– I shall not be quiet.
– I must ask you, Mr. Speaker, to compel the honorable member to be quiet. The honorable member later wrote -
They say now that the Senate is a dreadful mistake ; that it is undemocratic ; that it prevents the will of the people being enforced. Of course, as is well known, it was for this very purpose that the Senate was created.
That is a stronger statement than the other -
Its business was to do as the Legislative Councils of the States had always done, and still do- prevent the will of the people from taking effect.
The honorable member has been blessing the Senate for weeks and weeks past, approving, of all their doings.
– What is the good of talking about “ weeks and weeks,” when the Senate has only met on seventeen ‘ days 1
– Mr. Speaker, I hope you will control this irrepressible little man. As I say, the honorable member has been pouring his blessings on the devoted heads of senators for weeks past, approving all they have done in blocking the legislation of the country.
– That is not true, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for West Sydney must withdraw the statement that what the Prime Minister has said is “ not true.”
– But I take exception to the statement of the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member must first withdraw the expression that he himself used.
– I take exception to the statement the Prime Minister has made - it is not true.
– The honorable member must not use that expression.
– I take exception to his statement - it is not a true statement.
– The honorable member for West Sydney must first withdraw the statement he himself made.
– I think I have done so.
– The honorable member has not done bo, and he must withdraw the statement that what the Prime Minister has said is untrue.
– Yes, certainly, I withdraw it.
– Now I must ask the Prime Minister to ‘withdraw the words to which the honorable member for West Sydney takes exception.
– Of course, I withdraw the words. All I have said is that the honorable member has been pouring blessings on the head of the Senate for weeks past.
– The Prime Minister is now qualifying his withdrawal.
– I say that the honorable member has been blessing the Senate for its persistent attempts to block public- business, and to do things that it ought not to do. What are the facts of the case!
– Come to . the point - why did the Prime Minister cut my sentence in half?
– Because there was nothing that modified the sentence, and nothing that the honorable member has read has modified it. The honorable member declared that it was for the very purpose of preventing the will of the people being expressed that the Senate was created.
– That is not so - I take exception to that.
– The honorable member, as I have said, also wrote-
Its business’ was to do as the Legislative Councils of the States had always done, and still do - prevent the will of the people from taking effect.
Could anything be more unequivocal or more absurd, from a democratic point of view? Anxious to impress on the people to whom he writes that the very existence of the Senate-
– I rise to order, and 1 ‘ hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will see justice . done in this case. I . complain that the honorable gentleman is misquoting me; that he is now saying what I never said, and what is not in the article at all.
– The honorable member will see that that is not a point of order, but is more in the nature of a personal explanation, which can be made at some other time, hut not in the middle of another honorable member’s speech.
– On the 1st November, the honorable member further wrote about the Senate -
It meets by grace of the Opposition ; it discusses business in the order the Opposition determines ; it adjourns when and to what future date the Opposition pleases. The Opposition in the Senate absolutely controls the situation. That is perfectly true, and all this week the Opposition in the Senate have been controlling that Chamber in such a way as to frustrate the business of the country - the whole financial business of the country.
– I rise to order. .1 ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether the Prime Minister is in order in discussing the Senate and its actions?
– I was about to call the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that he was not in order in discussing the Senate, and that I had disallowed similar references earlier in the day.
– Then I shall content myself with answering the question of the Leader of the Opposition. I tell him now, as I told honorable members this morning, that I have not had time to attend to the business referred to. I said yesterday that no member had any privileges over another member. I suggest, however, that the right honorable gentleman would give us less trouble, and enable us to devote our attention to those regulations and other matters, if he and his Caucus would remove the block to public business in the Senate.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I ask that you make the Prime Minister withdraw those words.
– Make him withdraw !
– What is there out’ of order in what I said ?
– There is no doubt that it is out of order.
– I have more than once pointed out that it is quite out of order to debate what is being done in the other branch of the Legislature by direct reference to proceedings in the Senate. The Prime Minister knows as well as any one that it is not proper to so criticise the Senate; and that he could speak of “another place,” without mentioning the Senate specifically.
– I should like to make a personal explanation. I have yet to learn–
– There can be no personal explanation at this stage. The question is that the House do now adjourn.
– The Prime Minister has not withdrawn the remark to which I took exception.
– There is nothing to . withdraw.
– There is something to withdraw.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131121_reps_5_72/>.