5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Before we proceed to the business of the day, I wish to make mention of the appalling shipping catastrophe, whichoccurred in the St: Lawrence a few days ago, whereby nearly one thousand persons were, without warning, sent to their long home. Our human relationships are subject to these sudden interruptions, and a heavy toll is levied on the transportation of our commerce across the seas. The. circumstances of the wreck of the Empress of Ireland are peculiarly shocking. Two years ago the world’s largest steamer foundered through striking an iceberg during a fog. It was thought in that case that the precaution of slowing down should have been taken earlier; the Empress of Ireland met disaster after all the precautions for avoiding injury in a fog which human ingenuity could suggest and prudence dictate had been taken. Again and again after we have made our best arrangements, and enforced the wisest regulations that thought can devise, the element of human error, which seems incalculable, creeps in, and upsets our plans.Now there is recorded another big sea tragedy, nearly one thousand persons of all ranks and degrees of ability and service being swept to a watery grave. These events strike a chord of common feeling. All we can do is to express our sympathy with those near and dear to the victims for the irreparable loss which they have suffered. Yesterday, in obedience to this prompting of our common humanity, the Governor-General, on behalf of the Government, despatched to the GovernorGeneral of Canada the following cablegram : -
Will you kindly convey to Canada Australia’s deepest sympathy with sister Dominion and relatives of those who have perished in terrible shipping disaster.
There we must leave it, paying our tribute to the bravery of those who did their best to save what was left of the wreck.
.- I join’ with the Prime Minister in offering sympathy to the relatives and friends of those who have been lost in this sad disaster, the suddenness and magnitude of which must have appalled the whole world. ‘ In every continent, and possibly in nearly every country, there are to-day citizens who have been bereaved by this calamity, which is therefore worldwide in its effects. Accidents like this, whether great or small, can be made less liable by the wisdom of the legislators of civilized communities, but when everything has been done, mental failure, unconscious misdirection, or circumstances which human effort cannot control, will still occasionally bring disaster. I agree with the Prime Minister that the greatest sympathy should be shown with the Dominion of Canada, and I am glad that the message which he has read was sent by the Governor-General. I have read that in every town of importance in the Dominion there are persons now in mourning. We must express our sorrow with them, and the hope that, in the future, there will be fewer of these sensational disasters than there have been in the past. I am sure that whatever this Legislature may do with a view to preventing accidents on the waters surrounding our own coasts will receive the hearty approval and support of the people of Australia.
The following papers were presented : -
Inter-State Commission Act - “ Typothetae “ - Report by the Inter-State Commission upon a combination (known as Typothetse) between Master Printers Paper Merchants and Suppliers of Printers’ Materials in the State of Vic toria.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, No. 52.
Lands Acquisition Act and Northern Territory Land Acquisition Ordinance -
Land acquired under, at - Burra, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Darwin, Northern Territory - For Public Workshops.
Queanbeyan, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Yeronga, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 60.
Public Service Act -
Appointment of A. E. Taylor and R. A. Turner,’ as Draughtsmen, Class F, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, New South Wales.
Promotion of H. W. Buckley, as Clerk, 4th Class, Land Tax Branch, Central Staff.
Rifle Ranges - Return to an Order of the House dated 27th May, 1814.
– A motion was carried in the Senate last Friday disallowing the distinctive uniforms of the national regiments. Inasmuch as the regulation, allowing such uniforms, was framed by the last Government, what steps does this Government intend to take to give effect to it ?
– Either House of the Parliament has . power to disallow a regulation. The disallowance by the Senate of the regulation referred to is greatly to be regretted.
– I wish to ask the
Prime Minister a question in relation to a position that has arisen through the rejection by the other Chamber of this Legislature of a measure sent up to it by this House, in order to satisfy the conditions of section 57 of the Constitution Act. I wish to ask whether his attention has been drawn to the provisions of the Constitution in regard to the period during which the power that is given to His Excellency the Governor-General to dissolve both Houses runs; because it is a matter of most vital importance to this House and to the country to know whether the Government propose to give the advice to His Excellency at such a period as will enable His Excellency to follow that advice, if given. The section concerns the privileges of this Parliament, and of every member of it, and, in my opinion, the power embraced in it must be immediately exercised, or else it lapses. Does the Prime Minister propose to take immediate steps to enable His Excellency to act in accordance with section 57 ?
– I wonder why my honorable friend brings up these unpleasant questions.
– We are dealing with business ; do not joke.
– Dealing with business ?
– Certainly. It ought to be important enough to be dealt with seriously.
– Order ! There can be no debate.
– The honorable member has not been serious since he has been dislodged from this bench, and I am afraid he will never be serious again or happy while he is over there.
– Order ! This is a question.
– It was not a question that was submitted by the honorable member ; it was a. deliverance. However, all I have to say, in reply, is that I hope that the Government know their duty, and will perform it at the proper time.
Parliament House Designs
– A statement has been published that a commission has been appointed to sit in London and adjudicate on the designs for the House of Parliament at Canberra. Why has London been selected for such an important work instead of a place in Australia ?
– London has been decided on as the place for the adjudication of these designs by this Government just as it was by the last; for the reason that it is most readily accessible to the four other members of the Committee over whom the Australian architect will preside.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say whether there is any truth in the rumour that instructions have been given by the Government that enrolment under the Electoral Act must cease within three weeks?
– I do not know of any such order or direction.
– It appeared in the Adelaide newspapers.
– And in the Sydney newspapers.
– All I know isthat for some time past every effort has. been made to get the rolls into good condition.
PRIORITY of Mail Matter.
– Is it a fact that Melbourne newspapers are treated as firstclass mail matter, thereby gaining priority of delivery, while provincial newspapers, such as those of Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong, are treated as second-class mail matter, and their delivery is delayed in comparison with Melbourne papers? If this is a fact, will the Postmaster-General see that some alteration is made?
– No instructions have been given to favour one set of newspapers against another. The instructions are that all newspapers are to be treated as first-class mail matter, but if any honorable member will point out where that rule has not been observed, I shall look into the matter for him.
– Has Mr. Deakin been appointed as Commissioner representing the Commonwealth at the Panama Exposition ?
- Mr. Deakin was appointed about two months ago, and he has been acting here as chief representative of the Commonwealth in conjunction with the Committee of members appointed by the States who are acting in co-operation with the Commonwealth.
– Will the Minister of External Affairs state whether the Chief Commissioner representing the Commonwealth at the Panama Exposition has the right to appoint representatives of the States, or are such appointments left entirely to the States?
– The Chief Commissioner really makes no appointments. The Commonwealth appointments are made by me on behalf of the Commonwealth; but, of course, in the case of the appointment of an officer who has to act in close relation to members of the Commission, I consult the Chief Commissioner as to whether such an officer will be suitable. The States, however, appoint their own officers. Each State that has joined in the representation of Australia at the Exposition will send a representative to the
Commission, which will meet here next week, when I hope all the States will he represented. I did notice that Tasmania gave formal notice of withdrawal, but I think that on reconsideration that State will join in with the others, especially in view of the fact that the expenditure is comparatively small. It may be that some details of administration have been overlooked by the State Minister.
– What salary and travelling expenses do the Government propose to allow the Chief Commissioner?
– I am certain that Mr. Deakin will accept no salary. My difficulty is to get him to accept even reasonable expenses. I am certain that all I shall be able to induce him to accept is such expenses as he will incur in doing the Commonwealth work at the Exposition.
– Is it correct that the
Teesdale Smith contract will not be completed for another six weeks, and if so, are any penalties being imposed?
– My information is that the suggestion of the honorable member that it will take six weeks to complete the contract is not correct. I anticipate the completion of the contract any day now. Any penalties that are enforceable will be enforced.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs say whether it is likely that the Navigation Act will be proclaimed and brought into operation during this year?
– It is impossible for me to fix upon any definite date. The Act certainly cannot be proclaimed for several months yet.
– Seeing that £400,000 was placed on the Estimates last year for the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River, I would like to know how much of the line has been constructed, and how much of the money has been spent?
– The work of constructing the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway has only really been begun within the last three or four weeks. The work of construction has been just handed over to the Department of Home Affairs, and therefore I cannot tell at the moment what has been spent on preparatory work, but there has been no delay on the part of the Department of External Affairs. If the work was to be carried out by a single contract a start could not have been made before about April, but the line is now being built under the method of small contracts that I foreshadowed in the House, and the only delay has been caused by such matters as inquiry into any change that may take place in . regard to the rails. I awaited information in this regard from the Engineer-in-Chief lately appointed. There has been some expenditure in regard to material, but I am sure that the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs will be only too pleased to supply the honorable member with any information.
– What progress is being made with the construction of the line? Is the work being done by day labour or by contract?
– The actual work of construction has just about begun. Mr. Davis, the officer in charge of the construction work at Darwin, was to arrive yesterday at that port, and to commence immediately the work of construction under the direction of the EngineerinChief. The honorable member will find that the construction is being pushed on very expeditiously, and with a view to there being as little delay as possible ; also to combine settlement along the line with the engagement of workers for the railway, the constructional policy being a mixed one of small contracts and day labour.
– There was a rather strong article in Monday’s Argus dealing roughly with the Opposition, and speaking of the strong policy of the Government.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in asking a question founded on a newspaper statement.
– It is generally said that the Government hare a strong policy, and I think that if the policy was given to the newspapers the Opposition ought also to know what it is.
– Order !
– Is the Minister of External Affairs aware that a strike in connexion with the building trade has taken place in London? If so, has that strike interfered with the construction of the Commonwealth offices in London?
– I noticed in the press that a strike had taken place. It did for a time delay the building operations, but so far as I am aware, no serious inconvenience has been caused.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to draw attention to the omission from the Mansard reports of the pairs arranged in recent divisions. I have had a standing pair with the honorable member for Werriwa for some time ; but I find that the pairs are omitted from several divisions. I am aware, of course, that pairs are not recorded in the Votes and Proceedings, but it has been a rule throughout the whole of this Parliament to. record them in the Hansard reports. I was unavoidably prevented from being in the House, and the omission of the pairs from Hansard, implying my non-participation in the divisions, may be misinterpreted, especially as the voting was close in each case. Therefore, I desire to make it clear that I had paired in the divisions recorded on pages 1394 (closure), 1403 (two divisions) (closure), 1404 (clause 1, Government Preference Prohibition Bill), 1414 (closure), 1415 (omission of the word “ favoritism “), 1419 (amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne), 1420 (new clause proposed by the honorable member, for Cook), 1421-2 (new clauses proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia), and 1423 (closure).
– The Hansard staff generally rely for their information regarding pairs on the pair-book, which is placed at the end of the table, and in which pairs are usually recorded. It appears that on the occasion mentioned by the honorable member the pairs had not been recorded in the book, which, however is not official in any way.
– May I explain that I entered up the pairs on the principal divisions. I did not enter up the pairs for each separate division, but I assumed that Hansard would copy the pairs from one division to another.
Mr.FINLAYSON.- When does the Honorary Minister hope to fulfil the promise which he made to me last week in regard to the issue of the bi-monthly schedule of public works.
– I hope to get it back from the printer to-day.
– Will the Prime Minister say when he proposes to introduce legislation which will enable him, as he stated in a speech made after the Premiers’ Conference, “to go nap for a million” with regard to the Murray River Waters Agreement?
– As soon as possible.
Preference to Unionists
– Is the Honorary Minister yet prepared to place on the table a copy of the agreement in which the Government provided for preference to unionists on the east-west railway?
– There is no such agreement, and consequently it cannot be laid on the table. I have already explained to the honorable member several times that the agreement with the men is not signed, and the honorable member knows by this time that the only possible excuse, however shadowy, for pretending that the agreement gives preference to unionists is the fact that an agreement between the union and the Government is necessarily limited in its scope to members of the union.
– I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs if, instead of making voluminous explanations, he is prepared to lay on the table of the House the draft agreement?
– I will answer the question - No.
– I wish to ask the Honorary Minister a question in regard to preference to unionists on the transcontinental railway. I remind the honorable gentleman that he did not answer the question that I asked a few moments ago. Is it not a fact that about a fortnight ago he promised to lay a copy of the agreement on the table, and said that he only required time for his typist to copy it? Does he now propose to lay the agreement on the table, or is he going back on his promise?
– I ask whether the honorable member is in order in asking questions conveying statements which he knows are not correct?
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Cook must withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the words, and say that the Prime Minister’s statement is inaccurate.
– The same question has been asked and answered repeatedly, and the statement which is contained in the question every time has been emphatically denied. Is it in order for an honorable member to keep on asking such a question incessantly and interminably ?
– It certainly is not in order for an honorable member to knowingly ask a question conveying or implying an inaccurate statement. I am not prepared to say that the honorable member for Cook has done this, and I am certainly not in a position to know whether the question asked is correctly described by the Prime Minister.
– I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that you have not grasped my point of order. My point is that this question has been asked a number of times, and that the statement in the question has been denied over and over again by the Honorary Minister. I wish to know whether it is in order under cover of a question to keep on repeating a statement which is alleged by the Honorary Minister to be not in accordance with fact.
– Statements of any kind made under cover of a question are not in order except such as may be necessary to explain the question. As to the other point, I am not in a position to judge Whether the information has been given ; but if such information has been given, certainly it is not in order to repeat the question.
– I did not say that the information has been given, but that the statement has been denied repeatedly.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. A week or two ago, when the Government Preference Prohibition Bill was under consideration, I produced a newspaper report of an agreement which had been entered into on behalf of the Government, and signed, I understand, by one of the officers, with the Adelaide Branch of the Australian Workers Union, providing for the strongest preference to unionists that one can conceive. I asked the Honorary Minister whether he would lay a copy of that agreement on the table, and he promised to do so. When I repeated my question a couple of days afterwards, he said the delay had taken place because it was necessary to have a day’s notice in order that his typist might copy the document. The Honorary Minister kept on stating that the agreement did not provide for preference to unionists, and I wish the document to be laid on the table, so that honorable members and the country may judge for themselves.
– The honorable member will not get it now, anyhow.
– The Prime Minis ter is afraid to produce it.
– There is nothing to be afraid of.
– I hope that this is the last time that-
– Do I understand the Honorary Minister to be making a personal explanation ?
– Certainly. The honorable member for Cook did some time ago ask me to lay on the table an agreement that had been made, as between the Government and the men, and I said I would be happy to produce a copy. But no agreement has been signed between the Government officers and the men, as the honorable member for Cook has since been many times informed. I stated what was the nature of the draft agreement, which is under the consideration of the Crown Law authorities. That agreement was simply for the payment of a wage of11s. 8d. from the present place of working right up to Tarcoola. No such thing as preference to unionists, or anything that could be mistaken for one moment as such, could be read into the agreement-
– Then lay the agreement on the table.
– It was thought by the railway people that this agreement with the union might be put in documentary form, and a draft was prepared. In the draft agreement the union undertook to do certain things, and the Government undertook to do certain things. What the Government undertook to do was to pay11s. 8d. as far as Tarcoola, and what the union undertook to do -
– The members of this union had preference.
– No, certainly not. So far as the union’s obligations are concerned they are declared in the draft agreement to be restricted, as they must necessarily be, to the members of the union. I volunteered to let the honorable member see a copy of the agreement, but I withdraw that offer now, though I will let the honorable member for Kennedy see it, if he wishes to, this afternoon. It would be mere nonsense to lay an unsigned and unfinished agreement on the table.
– Is it not a fact that work is proceeding on the transcontinental railway under the agreement with the Australian Workers Union - that the terms of the agreement have been settled even though the agreement is not signed ? Is the union not already working for the Government under the agreement ?
– I am going to answer that question. It is time, I think, that the attention of the honorable member’s constituents outside was called to the way in which he is constantly taunting the Government for having anything to do with unionists. That is what the position has come to. The honorable member has done nothing in recent days . but persistently persecute this Government, because, as he imagines, we have treated unionists fairly. It is time the honorable member’s constituents knew just where he is in relation to this Government and unionism.
– My constituents know and understand the Prime Minister pretty well.
– I remind honorable members that there is no obligation on Ministers to answer questions without notice. No debate can be permitted in connexion with questions, and what is going on now is, apparently, an attempt to carry on an irregular debate under cover of questions. This must not proceed.
– It has been going on for some time, and I wish to say now that we shall answer no more questions without notice to-day.
– In view of the appointment of Mr. Justice Street as a Royal Commissioner to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust, will the Attorney-General inform the House under what Act the appointment was made, and what powers of compulsory inquiry the learned Judge will have, in view of the decision of the Privy Council?
– The appointment was made, not under any Act of Parliament, but by virtue of the usual prerogative of the Crown to appoint Royal Commissions. The honorable member, I thought, would have heard the notice of motion given by my honorable colleague, the Minister of External Affairs-
– I did.
– It was a notice of motion for leave to introduce a Bill to vest the Commissioner with the necessary powers, which, according to the recent decision of the Privy Council, if it be right, are not vested in him at present.
– In view of the fact that the Anglo-French Delegation is about to visit the New Hebrides to inquire into methods of government there, I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether Australia is to be represented upon that delegation ?
– I have no official knowledge that the Commission is to visit the New Hebrides. All that I know of the matter is that which I have gathered from the newspapers. There has been no communication between the Home Government and that of the Commonwealth as to such a visit being made for the purpose of collecting facts.
– In view of the challenge which the Attorney-General threw out to the Opposition a few days ago, when he said that if the Government Preference Prohibition Bill were rejected the Government would take a certain course, I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether, having regard to the rejection of the Bill by the Senate, he is going to take the action which he then indicated ?
– I must refer my honorable friend to the Prime Minister.
– In regard to the litigation proceeding between the Commonwealth and the Marconi Company, will the Postmaster-General state whether the Government are negotiating with the company? Is the honorable gentleman prepared to inform the House of the exact position at the present time in relation to the matter?
– Some new phases of this case have arisen, and we are to have a consultation to-morrow morning with our counsel.
– Who are they?
- Mr. Starke and Mr. Garran.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House of the nature of the negotiations now proceeding in connexion with the Marconi litigation, and whether his Department is acting upon the advice of the AttorneyGeneral ?
– The only persons who are advising me in the matter are outside counsel, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Crown Solicitor. I have not consulted the AttorneyGeneral in any way whatever in regard to the case.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs what has become of the Bureau of Agriculture Bill? If it has not been abandoned by the Government, is it proposed to introduce it again this session ?
– The Bill has not been abandoned. Had the honorable member shown last session the interest which he is now displaying in it, the Bill by this time would probably have become law, and have been helping the Australian farmers.
– Will the Treasurer state whether the Government have made any definite arrangement with regard to the future control of the Savings Bank of Tasmania, and whether it is the intention of the Ministry to place Tasmania, so far as its Savings Bank business is concerned, in the position of the other States ?
– An arrangement has been made by the Tasmanian Government to hand over its Savings Bank business to the Commonwealth Bank. At the recent Conference, it was arranged between the Commonwealth and the representatives of four of the States, that we should introduce legislation providing that, subject to certain conditions, Savings Bank business should be carried on only by the States themselves. It was also agreed that Tasmania should be at liberty, if it so desired, to come under that arrangement. The representative of Tasmania said that he felt sure that it would do so. That is how the matter stands. Leave has been obtained to introduce a Bill to give effect to this agreement, and, under it, the door will be left open for Tasmania to come in with the other States if it so desires.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that Tasmania is the first State to fall into line with the spirit of the banking legislation of the Commonwealth ? Is it not a fact that the State Government has agreed, as from 6th instant, to conduct all its financial business through the Commonwealth Bank, and to allow that bank to arrange whatever borrowings it may desire ?
– I believe that an arrangement to that effect has been made, but I am not able to give the honorable member a definite answer to his question. If he will give notice of his question, I shall consult the Governor of the Bank as to the exact arrangement made.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he lias yet carried out a promise which he made recently to negotiate with the shipping companies trading directly between Tasmania and the mainland with the object of securing a wireless installation on their steamers for the greater safety of human life at seal
– The suggestion made by the honorable member was received by us, and I dare say that it is being acted upon in accordance with the instructions issued.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs a question relating to the purification of the rolls. Complaints are being made in different parts of Australia as to the wrongful removal of names from the rolls. Within tlie last day or two cases have been brought under my notice where names appearing on the rolls were objected to on the ground that the persons concerned had not been living for one month at the addresses given, whereas they had actually been residing there for nine years. Will the Minister of Home Affairs issue directions to the Registrars to exercise more caution in the discharge of their duties ?
– If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper we shall have full inquiries made into it. I am afraid that sufficient general directions have already been given. Whatever direction we may give, either to the Registrars or to any other officials, we shall still have to contend with the element of human error., and I fear that we cannot provide against it in every case.
– Has the Prime Minister any information in regard to the application for employment at Jervis Bay, to which I referred during the debate on the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, and in regard to which the applicant was requested to state to what union he belonged ? I understood that the Honorary Minister was going to give us some information; and it certainly is a matter on which we ought to have some. Ample time has now elapsed, and I should be glad to know if the information is at hand.
– I have been obtaining the information in question, and I would prefer that the honorable member asked his questions categorically, and placed them on the notice paper. I do desire to say, however, that the insinuation that a person, who was not a unionist, has been appointed over the head of a unionist, has already been disproved, in so far as that person has himself been a member of the same union as the other man ‘for the last fifteen years. We have ample proof that there is no foundation whatever for the insinuation made.
– The Honorary Minister rises and, in a very naive kind of way, says he has ample proof -
– Order !
– I wish to ask a question, and this is a way I have of getting to my question. Will the Honorary Minister lay on the table the communication hs has received from the Resident Engineer in regard to this matter, so that we may have an opportunity to ascertain whether the proof is “ ample “ or not?
– I shall let the honorable member have the facts as soon as the business is completed.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow : -
The sums mentioned in answer to question 4 include, I understand, repairs and everything. It is impossible to answer question 5.
Medical Examination - Wakships’ Queensland Visit - Lieut. R. V. Pollck - Church Parade - Liverpool Camp - Colonel Tope, Lt. -Colonel Courtney, Colonel McShane.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Australian warships Melbourne, Encounter, Warrego, Parramatta, and Varra, under the command of Rear-Admiral Patey, and leaving Sydney about the middle of June, will visit the ports of Gladstone, Rockhampton, and St. Lawrence; and, if so, will the Minister be good enough to ascertain the approximate dates of said visit? present made provide that H.M.A.S. Melbourne shall be at Sea Hill about 19th June, and that H.M.A.S. Sydney shall be at Gladstone some time in July, the date not being actually yet fixed. Arrangements will be made, as far as the exigencies of the service permit, for ships to visit other Queensland ports. The honorable member will be duly informed of the actual dates of any further arrangements made in this connexion.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Lieutenant R. V. Pollok was appointed to the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the Commonwealth Forces without having to pass an examination; and, if so, will Australian officers have the same privilege?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Lieutenant Pollok is an officer of the British Army, and lias been appointed with the temporary rank of Lieutenant to the Administrative and Instructional Staff on loan from the War Office for four years. An examination is not necessary when an officer is on loan from the British Army. The only Australian officers who could be compared with Lieutenant Pollok would be officers of another branch of the Permanent Forces, such as the Artillery or Engineers, who transfer to the Instructional Staff, and they would not be required to pass a further examination. Militia officers seeking appointment to the Administrative and Instructional Staff are required to submit to examination, and it is not considered desirable that they should be appointed without examination. The granting of temporary rank, as in the case of Lieutenant Pollok, is a reciprocal arrangement between the British and Australian Governments.
Mr. HIGGS (for Mr. Mathews) asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
As the matter referred to is still sub judice, it is not considered desirable, in the interests of the officers and others concerned, to make any statement at present. The papers, &c, will be made available at as early a date as possible after the matter has been dealt with.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Sydney - Wollongong Telephone - Letteb-pillar Pilfering - Gladstone and Townsville Coastal Mail.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What progress has been made regarding a promise of the Deputy Postmaster-General, New South Wales, to a deputation from Wollongong early this year to give better telephonic facilities between Sydney and Wollongong?
– Inquiry is being made, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible. On Thursday last the honorable member for Batman asked the following questions: -
I was not aware of any complaints, but I have had inquiries made, and the Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, has furnished the following information -
On Friday last the honorable member for Capricornia asked the following question -
Will the Postmaster-Generalbe good enough to stipulate that coastal mail steamers carrying maiis to Gladstone, Townsville, &c. (see Commonwealth Gazette, page 841, 9th May instant), shall also carry produce and other cargo, if required by residents of Gladstone district?
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, has furnished the following report -
The service between Gladstone and Townsville is intended to secure expeditious transmission of mails between those places and ports en route. The time allowed under the mail contract would not permit of any delay by the contractors for the purposes of shipping or unshipping cargo at various ports of call between Gladstone and Townsville, and, consequently, they have been compelled practically to refuse cargo for Mackay and Bowen. If the request made by the honorable member were complied with, the time-table would require to be materially altered, and the value of the service for mail purposes would be correspondingly diminished. Shippers at Gladstone have opportunities for sending cargo via Port Alma at frequent intervals by coastal vessels not under the contract.
The Deputy Postmaster-General does not recommend compliance with the request, as it would seriously impair the usefulness of the mail service.
– I rise to a matter of privilege that concerns the businesspaper. On the last day of sitting there were on the business-paper two notices of motion, one by Sir John Forrest, to ask for leave to bring in a Bill relating to Savings Bank business, and the other by Mr. Groom to ask for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act;, a measure which we understood was to deal with the Beef Trust. The Government said they wanted to go on with these Bills as matters of urgency. Neither of these notices of motion appears on to-day’s businesspaper. I should like to know where they have gone.
– There is no question of privilege. Leave was given on the last day of. sitting to bring in the Bills referred to, but those Bills have not yet been presented, so they do not appear on the notice-paper. This is the usual practice.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta-
Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs) [3.29].- I move- .
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The . Bill is similar to that introduced last . session, which received, its; quietus in much thersameway asthe measureto; which reference has been made: so-fre- quently of late. I do not know whether it is necessary that I should traverse the ground again and attempt to make argument for it; the obligation is rather on those who are opposed to it to show reasons why the Bill should not pass.
– I wish to pass it for the purpose of enfranchising women who need it, and to perform a simple act of justice to the women of this country who are doing their duty, but who, from one cause and another, happen to be laid aside by illness on polling days.
– Will the honorable member confine the Bill to such persons?
– I ask that the Prime Minister may be allowed to speak without interruption.
– I propose to confine its provisions to all who are badly in need of them, and they are very many.
– Out at Kooyong.
– It is wonderful how honorable members sneer at the sick and invalid of the community when any reference is made to them.
– You know that that is not true.
– Why, then, all this derisive laughter ?
– I rise to order. I object to the remark that we are sneering at the sick and invalid, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I did not understand the Prime Minister to apply his words to any individual member. I ‘would remind honorable members generally that if they persist in interjecting, especially after the Chair has called them to order, they invite rejoinders, which aire not always of a pleasant character.
– I did not apply my words to any particular individual, but I say that when reference is made to the infirm and sick of the community there is almost unanimous and derisive laughter from the other side. As to the need for the Bill, the Commonwealth Statistician tells us that the daily average of women requiring the right to vote by post for a certain reason is 22,000 ; that the daily average of the sick is 30,000;andthatthedailyaverageof the infirm whoare unable to go to the poll is 25,000. In all, there are, on the average, every day of the year, 77,000 sick and infirm persons in the community, and it is to provide them with the facilities for voting that this Bill has been introduced.
– How many of them would like to be left alone by the political canvasser ?
-I do not know. I have not been a political canvasser amongst these persons. Perhaps the honorable member has done that work, and, therefore, interjects so confidently. He, perhaps, has been rounding them up in the institutions or at their own homes. At any rate, the criticism comes pat, that they ought to be left alone. How does he know? I know that the Commonwealth Statistician alleges that the number I have stated is in need of the postal vote, and must suffer disfranchisement because of physical disability or ill-health if compelled to comply with the condition imposed on ordinary electors of having to present themselves in person at the polling booths.
– Does Mr. Knibbs say that they require the postal vote ?
– I hope that he has not so far forgotten his duty as to dabble in politics.
– Those were the Prime Minister’s words.
– Order !
– What am I to do, Mr. Speaker?
– I have already called the honorable member for Cook to order.
– But he does not stop. I would not mind if there were a tittle of justification for anything he said. I never met such a brazen individual in my life. The bulk of the members of this House have some desire to preserve a reputation for credibility.
– You have not.
– I ask the honorable member for Cook not to interject.
– The honorable member seems to be absolutely reckless. .
– Will the Prime Minister address himself to the Bill?
– I have called attention to the figures supplied by the Government Statistician, givingjhe daily average numberof the persons unable to present themselves at the polling booths by reason of sickness or infirmity. They are the persons whom it is in contemplation to benefit when a measure providing for postal voting is presented to this or any other Legislature. In 1910 84,000 postal votes were recorded. That is the clearest possible proof that this machinery has been availed of, and that it has fulfilled a useful function, and met the needs of the people. I do not know how else we are to gauge it. I do not know how honorable members imagine that it is taking advantage of people who do not need it. However, there is no proof of that assertion; we have simply the bald statement without a tittle of justification. On the other hand is the fact that84,000 postal votes were recorded in 1910, and the only argument on which the protest against the postal vote is based is the fact that 49,000 of these postal votes were supposed to be for Liberals, while 33,000 were supposed to be for Labour men. I say “ supposed to be “ in each case.
– Do you say that there were 84,000 postal votes cast in 1910?
– I am speaking of the total absent and postal votes, and saying that the fact that the majority of these votes was cast for Liberals is alleged to be conclusive argument that something was done to manipulate the postal vote. I know of no provision in the Electoral Act which is as safeguarded as are the postal vote provisions. The penalties are heavy, the requirements are strict to the point of severity, and the fact that there have been only a few cases of irregularity brought to the Courts and dealt with is the clearest possible proof that nothing very wrong has taken place’ in connexion with the postal vote. Not one case of actual fraud has been discovered.
– Not one.
– What about the case of the J.P. at Coleraine?
– The honorable member is not distinguishingbetween irregularity and fraud. . For fraud, the penalties are severe, ranging up to £100 and three months’ imprisonment, Let us run through the safeguards and see if anything could be better in that regard. In the first place, the duty of an authorized witness is laid down very clearly, and for any deflection in the performance of that,duty, in a case of clear fraud,there isa penalty off£50, or one month’s im prisonment.
– I would not give information in order to get a girl imprisoned for three months for voting by post, though I know of plenty who voted by post, and should not have done so.
– The honorable member would rather take the vote from the innocent than punish the guilty. It is. the duty of any one who knows that deliberate fraud has been committed to report it.
– They were deceived. They were told by the canvassers that they could vote by post.
– The honorable member’s answer is not sufficient.
– Your crowd managed it all right.
– All I know is that I dare say “our crowd,” as the honorable member calls us, knows just as much as the other side about these things. I do not pretend that every one in our party is an angel, and that every one on the other side is the other thing. I dare say that if we investigated the matter closely we should find that there is much of a muchness in human nature on both sides in regard to operating this electoral machinery. The point is, however, that there is only one party that is complaining about this particular machinery. Our party do not complain. Why do the other side complain ? Does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports suggest that they are not able to take care of themselves, and that these persons are poor little innocents who need to be taken care of kindly and safely by some motherly Act of Parliament?
– What I do suggest is that the methods are more suitable to your side than to ours.
– Order !
– The honorable member must go further than that when he makes that allegation, for, whether he knows it or not, he is impugning all the forces in this community which are set for the preservation of law and order; in effect, he is saying that all the administrators of justice, and all officials concerned in the administration of the Electoral Department, are winking at their duty, and are political partisans to boot.
– I have not said that.
– No; the honorable member has not said it, but what I have said is implied in his statement.
He has said that our party manipulates votes, and that the other party do not. The same penalties apply to this side as to that. The same impositions are placed on honorable members on this side as on honorable members on that side. The electoral law is for both sides, and all sides’, and all parties, and no party; it is for every one who wishes to vote. Therefore, every argument we hear from the other side that this or that violation of the law takes place, is simply an implication that the officials of the Electoral Department are not doing their duty, and that they are favouring one side as against the other. I come back to the question again - Why is it that our party do not complain as to the postal vote, while the whole of the other party do ?
– Because your organizations use it mostly, and can do so because they have the methods,
– Here, again, is the same implication - that the officials who are operating these provisions’ are conniving at wrong-doing by this side.
– I did not say that. I said that your organizations could use it better.
– What other explanation is there if it is followed point by point?
– You are too innocent.
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is out of order.
– I try to interpret the English language in a plain and straightforward way; and when the honorable member says that our party is permitted to do wrong, while the other side do nothing but what is right, I say that it is a gross reflection on the officers of the Department, as well as upon those people outside who are set to administer justice. But what are the facts? From 1904 until 30th April, 1914, that is ten years, there have been only ten cases of irregularity. If that is gross and widespread wrong-doing, I should like to know the honorable member’s idea of what immunity from crime is. There are ten cases, and not a case of fraud in the whole period. The fines tell their own tale. They ranged from £l up to £5. The offences have been confined generally to irregularities, mostly on the part of justices of the peace who have not ascertained the truth of the statements they have witnessed. Those are the irregularities that have been hauled up before the Courts. Not one case of a man manipulating the postal vote has been brought before the Law Courts. While that is so in regard to postal voting, there have been numberless cases of fraud in regard to the Electoral Act generally. Therefore, this conclusion emerges - that the postal voting sections of the Electoral Act have been most faithfully administered, and most severely safeguarded, and that of all the provisions of the Act, they are the one part which has worked well, and as to which there has been no fraud that has been discoverable and punishable. There is the record of ten years, and it is a deadly one for my honorable friends opposite - only ten cases of irregularity in ten years’ operation of the postal vote.
– I would not believe that you could be so easily deceived.
– I am always prepared to be deceived by official facts given to me by persons who have no object in life whatever but to state the facts - men outside our own party feelings, who are not dominated by party passions as we are. Those are the facts that they give to us, and they say, in trumpet tones, that if ever a part of the Electoral Act was fairly and properly administered, if ever a portion of such a measure worked well, it was the postal-voting sections-. Every other portion of the Act has been indicted at some time or other because of some fraud or other being perpetrated under it.
– There must be a lot of sick people in Kooyong.
– I have heard a great deal about Kooyong in connexion with this matter. What does it. mean ? Simply that the people in Kooyong exercised their vote.
– By post.
– In accordance with the law.
– Quite so.
– There must be a lot of sickly people there.
– Order! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must not continue to interject.
– Has it come to this, that when we get a good’ poll in an electorate it is evidence of fraud and chicanery?
– I have just pointedly asked the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to cease interjecting, and I am sorry the honorable member has again immediately done so. If he continues to disregard my authority, I shall take another course.
– It is the most’ astounding thing that I know of, that, because a vote is taken advantage of to the fullest extent, because it is used extensively, the very thing we are encouraging people every day to do, that is to be regarded as proof positive of fraud and chicanery. The object of the postal-voting provisions is almost to compel people to vote. There is compulsion in our electoral law. We say that people must register, and we say, also, by the mouths of the Opposition, that if they do vote, and vote well, they are fraud’s. That is what honorable members are saying. What else is there in the argument about the Kooyong electorate? Has- any voter in Kooyong been punished for fraud? There are plenty of agencies for finding out what is going on, and we may be sure that iffraud did take place in Kooyong it would have been unearthed long ago. Some people know nearly everything that is going on to-day, sometimes even before Ministers do, and yet as to these matters; concerning which they make the most astounding allegations, they know nothings and can do nothing. All they do is to insinuate and imply that fraud has taken place, simply because the people of Kooyong recorded a plumper vote. I say that these facts rightly considered, show to what extent this vote has been availed of; show the need that this vote was intended to meet ; and show that the result is satisfactory. All these reasons honorable members bring forward, when they are analyzed, are reasons for the perpetuation of the vote, and not for its destruction or abolition. The reason why there have not been many prosecutions under this postal vote section is the severity of the safeguards imposed in the Act. Take one or two f acts, for instance. An authorized witness has to say that he knows- personally the person whose- signature he is witnessing, and if he -cannot show that he does know that person, and if he does not fulfil other conditions) he is liable to a. fine of £50 and a -month’s, imprisonment.A man must be-indeed a scoundrel who will run many risks under that proposal, and there are not many of the kind of individual in Kooyong who are fond of running their neck into a noose and risking a month’s imprisonment or a fine of £50 for the sake of certifying that somebody is somebody. The same thing applies all round. When the signature has been witnessed, the application, properly accredited, goes to the Returning Officer. He is supposed to check it, to find out whether an absent vote has been polled from the same person or if a postal vote has been obtained previously; and if he is satisfied that the application is in order he sends back a ballot-paper. Then another process has to commence. Further witnessing has to take place. The applicant has again to obtain an authorized witness, who has to certify that he knows something about the person to whose signature he is a witness, and that witness is under penalties that he shall not divulge the direction in which the vote is given. Again, the penalty staring him in the face is a fine of £100 or three months imprisonment. The vote is sent to the Returning Officer, and the signature is again checked. I venture to say there has never been a more complete system of checks devised in connexion with voting anywhere in the world than is the case with regard to the postal vote. On top of all that, honorable members opposite say,” You cannot safeguard it ; you can manipulate the vote as easily as winking.” Such is not the case, and the fact that the alleged frauds have not been brought to justice and that fine or imprisonment has not been imposed in a single case is the best of all indications that no such manipulation is possible.
– A lot of robberies take place, but you do not find the thief.
– That is true; but a lot of robberies have been perpetrated, and the robbers are in gaol to-day and anxious to get out. There isnot in gaol one of those rascals to whom honorable members opposite refer. Is it not singular that, though there is a daily average of 70,000 or 80,000 sick and infirm adults in Australia, honorable members cannot sheet home a case of abuse to any of those people? Honorable members say that abuse goes on, but the fact remains that they cannot prove any case of manipulation of postal votes. Therefore,I think we may reasonably infer that the postal vote has: not been abused, but has done a very great deal of good to invalids and sick people in the community.
– None are so blind as those who will not see.
– Quite so, and none are so blind as those who cannot see. There are two kinds of blind people, those who will not see, and those who cannot see, and I do not know that there is anything to choose between the two. What is the reason for this postal vote? The tradition, the underlying argument all down the years from generation to generation, is that the country is best governed when all the people take a hand in the government. That is the fundamental theory of our Democracy. It rests upon that principle that the country is most safely governed - whether it is best governed or not is a question open to argument - but the theory is that society is safest when everybody is given a hand in the government of that society. That is the principle upon which we proceed, and, therefore, the vote becomes a duty to be performed, as well as a privilege to be enjoyed. There are a lot of people in the community to-day who think that the vote is given to them to use or not just as they choose. That is not the fundamental idea of the vote at all. The vote is not given as a mere pleasurable exercise on their part to enable them to confer a favour on some individual. The reasons for conferring the vote go further back than that. The vote is given to people in these democratic days so that the State may be safely governed, and it is believed to be more safely governed when all the people take a hand in the governing. Clearly, therefore, voting is a duty, and that is why compulsion has been imposed upon people to register their names. If we apply compulsion as we have done; we come across many anomalies which will require a great deal of rectification before we reach ideal conditions. Let us take this case: We compel a sick woman to register her name, and we tell her that if she does not register, she is liable to a fine of 40s. After compelling her to register, honorable members opposite are deliberately declining to give her an opportunity to record her vote. Is there anything fair about that? Honorable members lay compulsion on that woman to qualifytovote, and then deprive her of the only opportunity open to her to exercise the vote. The whole thing is illogical to the last degree. There is no reason in that sort of compulsion. Responsibility must carry its corresponding privileges, and the aim of all our electoral measures should be, as far as possible, to confer equal opportunities for voting throughout the length, and breadth of the country. The opportunities never can be equal. Even when we have done our best, there can never be equal opportunities when one man has to travel 20 miles, and lose a day or two days’ pay in order to record his vote, while another has only to travel across the street at a cost of ten minutes’ effort. The opportunities are not equal there, nor can they be equal when women and infirm and sick people are compelled to qualify to vote when honorable members deny them the privilege of recording their votes. They have not equal opportunity when voting day comes round. They suffer disabilities which are due, not to their own fault, but to the fact that we have laid upon these people the obligations of a civilized community. Honorable members say to them, “ Notwithstanding that we have compelled you to register, and will fine you for not doing so, you shall not vote because there is a fear that somebody might persuade you to vote wrongly.” That is the position to which honorable members opposite are driven in their opposition to this Bill.
– There is the violation of the secrecy of the ballot.
– All I have to say in answer to that is that if these pro visions of the Bill are carried out, the ballot ought to be very secret indeed, and if the secrecy of the ballot is being violated, then the people who connive at the opening of the ballot should be punished and put in gaol. That is the place for them; but do not deprive a woman who is lying ill in bed of the vote because some miscreant outside has not done his duty. Do not punish the innocent because of something the guilty man has done. That is what honorable members are doing in connexion with the postal vote. I admit that if the manipulation of the vote had gone on to half the extent that honorable members say, it would mean a revision of the postal provisions of this Bill; but I do not care what manipulation has taken ,place, .we. have no right -to deprive these people of the vote,’ simply because of the possibility of some miscreant doing what he should not do. Honorable members make out an argument thereby fbr better machinery, and not for the abolition’ of the machinery we have. I need not worry the House further. This matter has been threshed out fairly well, and this Government, believing as we do in the fundamental basis of democratic government, believing that people ought to be encouraged to vote, and that opportunities should be provided for them to do so, propose, if permitted, to re-impose these voting provisions in the Electoral Act, so that those women engaged in their high and holy duty, even when laid aside, and who may not mix with the crowd’ to record their votes, shall still be cumbered amongst those who believe in ti: their country, and desire to help in its government. In regard to the sick and the infirm, the same argument applies. Tha Government believe that, notwithstanding that those people suffer disabilities, illness, and infirmities, yet by reason cf their lifelong service to the State, by reason of the fact that they are still residents of the State, and subject to all the disabilities that the State sometimes imposes upon them, that they are subject to all the responsibilities of taxpayers, they shall not be denied their voice in the government of- the country merely because some temporary -malady has overtaken them. That is the argument for this Bill, and at that I leave it. I move the second- reading and I hope that our friends opposite will assist us to put the measure on the statute-book.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay) [4.01- The Prime Minister went into heroics m moving the second reading of this Bill for the second time. The honorable member has claimed that his Government are seeking to give every facility to exercise the franchise to every elector. The party to which I have the honour to belong is the party that has done more to extend the franchise and give voting facilities, consistent with the secrecy cif the ballot and protection of the voter, than any other party in Australia. Our policy in that matter is unaltered. The reply to all these heroics of the Prime Minister is that he stated in 1911 that the absent vote is as good as the postal vote.
– You are playing your old tricks >again. I did not say anything of the kind. You are referring to something in Hansard, I know; but quote the whole passage, and I will he satisfied. The context shows that I could not have made that interjection.
– I give the quotation as it is handed to me - Hansard, 7th December, 1911, page 3937.
– It is in Hansard as an interjection; but the argument I used shows that I could not have made that interjection, except ironically.
– Time and circumstances alter the Prime Minister’s opinion.
– Did they alter the right honorable gentleman’s opinions? Has his opinion altered on this matter ?
– The honorable member is entitled to alter his opinions. No one makes complaint about that.
– I should think not, considering that you have altered your opinion on this matter.
– I have not changed my opinion on this matter. I believe in postal voting, if it were within the wit of man to devise a scheme of voting that would protect the postal voter. The Prime Minister said that no fraud had been proved in connexion withthe system. My reply is that families have been ‘separated, and that fraud, coercion, and intimidation have occurred in connexion with it. Instances can be given where the way in which certain persons voted by post, was discovered from an examination of the blotting-paper used by them. Family ties Have been broken, and friends have been separated as the result of the postal-vote system.
– Family ties broken ?
– Familyfriendships have been broken through thesystem .
– Not necessarily becauseof the system, but because of the way in which the vote wascast.
– The point is that the wit of man has been unable todevise sufficient machinery to protect the voter who avails himself ofthe system. It is a principle of democratic government that every voter shall be absolutely free to vote as he pleases, and that principle is destroyedwherethere is any violation -of the secrecy of the ballot. Itis because voting by post violates the secrecy of the ballot that I havebeen compelled,reluctantly, to cease tosupport the system . I was atone time a strong advocate of voting by post, and I am not the only; one who has changed his views upon it. Mr. Kidston, after years of experience, said -
Postal voting tampers with the secrecy of the ballot, and strikes at the vitals of Democracy.
– But does it ?
-Certainly it does. That was the experience of anhonorable gentleman who was at one time a warm advocate of the system. He, and others who claim to be Liberals, were led to the same conclusion, as will be found by reference to the Queensland Hansard. I am not going to repeat the sworn evidence of what took place in Queensland.
– Why run after State precedents in this instance? The right honorable member would not do soin any other case. Why does he not confine himself to the Commonwealth experience?
– I shall confine myself to the Prime Minister. ‘The honorable gentleman himself asked us to consider the position of persons 20 miles away from a polling place.
– No. I spoke of electors having to travel 20 miles - 10 miles there and 10 miles back - to record their votes.
– Very well. The honorable gentleman asked us to compare the situation of such persons with that of electors who had merely to step from one side of a street to another in order to vote. We were asked whether it wasnot reasonable to facilitate the exercise of the franchise by the sick and infirm, who could’ vote if a ballot-paper was brought to them. Is it not a fact that, at the last general election at which the system was in operation, nearly one-half of the postal votes cast throughout Australia were recorded where the most distantelector wast only the length of a street from a polling place ?
– What was the reason for it?
– The reason was in violent contrast to the Prime Minister’s opinion.
– Does the right honorable member suggest that’ there must have been some wrong-doing ?
– I say that theprin ciple isabsolutely abused.
– Oh, youslanderer
– I have always the courage of my opinions. The Prime Minister will probably say, “ If there was any wrong-doing or abuse of the system, why not prove it?.” My objection to the system is absolutely sustained by the fact that it is beyond the wit of man. to devise a means by which any abuse of such a system can be exposed. No one can deny that the system is abused. Money, position, and social circumstances are used as a powerful lever to induce many people, when voting by post, to vote other than their judgment would dictate if they were free from such influences.
– Now the right honorable member is slandering the electors.
– No interjection will deter me from saying what I intend to say in regard to this matter. Bread and butter considerations, or a desire to main.tain peace, induce some people exercising the postal-vote system to vote other than * they would do if they were free to exe’rcise their independent judgment. When we were in office we extended the facilities for voting by providing polling booths at places where sick and infirm people were located, in order that they might actually place their own ballot-papers in the ballot-boxes. I do not think we could have done more than that, and, as the result of our efforts, the percentage of votes recorded throughout Australia at the last general election was greater than ever before experienced in the history of the Commonwealth. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that, although voting by post was abolished, the electoral machinery provided by us enabled a larger percentage of people to vote than would otherwise have been possible.
– We had polling booths in the hospitals in some of the States.
– I have just mentioned that we established polling places where infirm and sick people were receiving attention, so that they might vote as they desired, and actually place their own ballot-papers in a ballot-box.
– But what about the sick people living in: their own homes ?
– The honorable member for Hunter made a proposal last session to enable every sick or infirm elector to vote at home, but the Government would have nothing to do with it. If the secrecy of the ballot is not to be violated, then every person recording his’ vote should put his own ballot-paper in a ballot-box. I have referred previously to a serious disability that arises under the postal-rote system, and also where absent votes are cast prior to the day of election. In these days, when parties are so evenly balanced, the result of an election might be determined by the postal vote recorded’. Under this Bill postal votes must be cast before election day. Between the day on which they were recorded and the date of election, the political situation might have entirely changed, so that, in such circumstances, the verdict of the country might be given on the political circumstances actually existing,, not on the day of election, but at some prior date. With the postal-vote system in force, it is impossible for the will of the people to be declared as at any particular date. That is undoubtedly a serious defect. I think. I am correct in saying that the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs last year said that the postal-vote system was capable of fraud.
– It is impossible to devise any machinery that is not capable of fraud. As long as there are fraudulent people there will be fraud, no matter what the machinery is.
– The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs spoke of fraud creeping in, in a wider sense, in connexion with the postal vote. Even the Prime’ Minister himself holds that the system, at best, is a very risky one.
– I have seen no reason yet to condemn it.
– A great ‘deal has been, said about depriving the sick and the infirm of the franchise. I venture to say that large numbers of the sick and infirm have no desire to be troubled with election matters at all. The statistics furnished by Mr. Knibbs as to the number of sick people are, no doubt, perfectly correct from a statistician’s point of view, but I would like to add that there are many people, seriously ill, who ought not to be approached, and have no wish to be approached. Nothing in the world, however, will prevent political agents trespassing if they think they can secure a vote. It will be seen, therefore, that there are two sides to. this question. First, -we have to consider the health, and welfare of the subject, and, secondly, to safeguard the secrecy of the ballot - and provide against fraud and abuse.
– How would the right honorable gentleman meet the case of a mild epidemic, when there were hundreds and thousands of people affected - I mean an epidemic mild in form, but widespread in regard to numbers?
– It is a general rule in law and politics that we cannot pass any measure to deal with what may be called exceptional cases. If, however, there is any advantage in one system or the other, we on this side claim it for our system, and hold that the absent vote gives a far surer guarantee than does the postal vote.
– I thought honorable members opposite proposed a sort of travelling menagerie box.
– Honorable members may call it what they like; at any rate, the proposal is one that would insure the secrecy of the ballot, which is the first fundamental principle of democratic government.
– There is not much secrecy; no one is afraid to say how he is going to vote.
– What strange views honorable members have! In these days trusts, combines, and monopolies have greater powers than were wielded by the dukes, lords, and barons, in the feudal times. If those trusts and combines had the power to peep into the ballot-box we should, unless there were a mighty combination against them, soon see the end of true Democracy. We should then find honorable gentlemen who would be glad of the nomination of these powerful corporations, and would speak and act as they were told.
– Does the right honorable member think that the employes of these monopolists vote as they are told to vote?
– Happily not in Australia.
– We are legislating for Australia.
– In Charters Towers, when the postal vote was in full swing, managers of the great mines went to the homes of the workmen and collected the postal votes of the wives and families; and the evidence as to that is available for the honorable member if he cares to see it. It was on such grounds that Mr. Kidston made his declaration that “ postal voting tampered with the secrecy of the ballot, and struck at the vitals of Democracy.”
– Had Mr. Kidston not made his declaration before the right honorable gentleman helped to pass the postal vote in this House?
– No; the honorable member is quite in error. It was in 1907 that Mr. Kidston made his declaration, whereas I had advocated the postal vote in 1902 or 1903 ; it is quite incorrect to say that the declaration was prior to my advocacy of the vote.
– I merely asked the question.
– Queensland, I think, fell into line with the Commonwealth on this question ; and I have still hopes that we may yet devise machinery to enable the postal vote to be cast, but I see no possibility of it at the present time. I have another complaint regarding this measure, and that is that it ought not to have been introduced in the way it has been. If this Parliament is going to establish procedure of this kind, all sorts of troubles will arise. This Bill does not set out what the machinery shall be, but merely intimates that certain machinery shall again be brought into operation. Under the circumstances, it is doubtful whether, on the strict interpretation of the Standing Orders, we shall be allowed to discuss these proposals in detail. However, the main purport and intention of the Bill is not the restoration of the postal vote.
– The right honorable member has no justification for saying that.
– We have been told by the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral that this and the Government Preference Prohibition Bill are two “test” measures.
– In this form only - in this one-clause form only. If there had been the slightest chance of getting a series of proposals through, I should have submitted them in detail.
– The Opposition would not let them through.
– The Prime Minister now tells us that these Bills are test Bills “in this form only”; and, therefore, it will be seen that their purport and intention is not to improve the electoral machinery, but to secure a double dissolution.
– Does the right honorable member mean to suggest that,. in introducing this Bill, we have no other object than that in view?
– Let me examine that point. When the Speaker comes into the House each day, he bows first to the Government side, and then to the Opposition side.
– Go on ! What is this ?
– And you, Mr. Speaker, with the wit possessed by any one occupying your exalted position, observe that you are bowing to an equal number on either side. The Government, because of their position as a Government, speak first, and you hear them; but you know that, when a decision has to be given on a particular point, there are equal numbers for and against. We are asked by this Government to pass legislation, with your assistance, sir, when you think well to give it; and this, too, against another elective Chamber in which there is a majority of twenty-nine of a different opinion.
– Is the other place elected on strictly democratic lines?
– -The members of the Senate are elected by the same electors, and in the same way, as are the members of this House, on a broad, democratic basis; they use the same ballot-box, and the electors are handed similar ballot-papers for both Houses. In this House, a Government with no majority seeks to deny to members of another place, even the right to deliberate on measures, and challenges that other Chamber, not only in Parliament, but in the country. Even the Governor-General has been hustled and bustled by statements made publicly by the Government, in the most indecent way possible. In all my experience and reading, I never knew of a Government so forgetful of their duty, and. of the dignity of their position. Lately, however, there has been what I might call a quiet and serene calm ; a little decency has been introduced, and, perhaps, as suggested by an honorable member, near me, . a dignified representative of the Crown has resented the making of statements regarding what may subsequently be said to him directly. Such procedure has been unknown hitherto, and I hope we shallnot see it. again.
– I think the right honor able memberis imagining.
Mr.FISHER. - imagining ! The newspapers are teeming with the informa tion. The Prime Minister, at St. Hilda, said, “ We must go on or go out.”
– The right honorable member is absolutely incorrect in his suggestion.
– Does the honorable member seriously say that?
Mr.Groom. - I do.
– Then I can only repeat that at St. Hilda the Prime Minister, as subsequently admitted by himself, said, “ We must go on or go out.”
– The right honorable member was suggesting that the Government were doing things unworthy of their office.
– As I said before, in all my experience and my reading I have never known of anything like the statements made by responsible Ministers in a situation such as the present.
– Did not the honorable member for West Sydney saythe other night that a double dissolution could not possibly be given on this Bill?
– The honorable member forgets that the honorablemember for West Sydney has no responsibility as a Minister of the Crown.
– But he has as a member of this House.
– Has the honorable member for Franklin forgotten what is due to the position of a Minister of the Crown, who is sworn to secrecy in regard to the advice tendered to the representative of the Crown? The position of a Minister is very different from that of a private member. In such matters as those under discussion, the first intimation of any view held by the Ministry must, in England, be conveyed to the King himself, and, in the Dominions, to the representative of the Crown.
– The prejudging of the verdict is just the samein either case.
-Honorable members know that this Ministry has trespassed in this matter in a manner reflecting no credit on it. It has been the first in the Commonwealth, and, I hope, will be the last, to do so. . Ministers claim to be, not like their Labour predecessors, unskilled in the duties and unable to uphold the dignity of advisers of the Crown, but versed in the best traditions of responsible government,and desirous ofupholding them. I am not one of those who speak of the position of the Crown lightly. The representative of the Crown here, the Governor-General, stands impartially between the political parties of the Commonwealth, to do what he considers right according to law. Any attempt to coerce him will bo to the disadvantage of the nation. I could quote hundreds of passages showing that there has been such an attempt, but I do not intend to do so. Compared with a short time ago, there is now a dead calm, which is significant. We do not now hear members of the Government saying, “ Come on. Shake her up.” They say now, “ Please do not hurry with this thing.” The Caucus has been at work. There were a few plungers until it was seen that business was meant, and then their tails went down. Whatever may be the fate of the Bill, it will not determine matters. But Ministers cannot escape the consequences of their words and actions.
I should like to put on record, in this connexion, the opinions of some of those who framed the Constitution, and who anticipated a situation like the present. There was considerable discussion in the Federal Convention about the settling of dead-locks between the Senate and the House of Representatives. At Adelaide, in 1907, one of three proposals for dealing with the matter was the double dissolution, which was defeated. That proposal was again submitted in Sydney during the same year, when the present Treasurer was one of its strongest opponents, although he is a leading member of the Government which is now trying to force a double dissolution. It is interesting to recall at this juncture the views expressed by the right honorable gentleman when he spoke in the Convention as one of the representatives of Western Australia -
All these precautions are unnecessary, and may “be found mischievous, because they will encourage differences rather than put an end to-, them. If yon give the power to dissolve both Houses - the double dissolution, as it has been called - allowing the Government of the day to appeal to the constituencies whenever a conflict of opinions occurs, it may, as time goes on, be used for a very different purpose from that for “ which it is being advocated at the’ .present time. I can imagine that a Government, which -felt, itself somewhat weak, or which thought . that an ..occasion was an opportune one for an appeal to the country, might encourage ‘conflict rather than try to avoid it, .in order - that .in this way it might be . able to, . recommend. ;a. dissolution, of bothHouses, in (he, hope that, that would strengthen their following, or at ‘any length give- it more- time. . . . Knowing as we do, that theConstitution of the United States of Americahas been used for purposes foreign to the intention of its framers, you may depend upon it that, as time goes on, every possible device will be used to gain political influence and power by taking advantage of the form of tha Constitution.
That is what the Government is doing. The Constitution is being used by a Government of which the right honorable gentleman is a member. He knew the possibilities. Speaking again in the Convention in 1897, he said -
What will happen under the proposal for a dual dissolution? A measure will pass tha Lower House, we will say, without any difficulty, and it will go to the Upper House. In that Chamber there is a great discussion about it. The newspapers favorable to the Government will at once begin to threaten the Upper House that if they do not pass the measure they will be dissolved.
History written in advance ! Apparently the Treasurer showed this Government how bo do what is proposed. He said in. advance that it would be done.
While they are considering the measure a pistol will be held at their heads. Is that the sort of Constitution we want to create in this country? Is that what we desire? That theUpper House should be coerced at the beginning, that it should be told, “ If you do not pass this measure in the way we have passed’, it you will be dissolved.” They would be threatened before they had actually come to any decision, and great disaster would result.
The Senate has been threatened from theday of the last election, a policy being, manufactured for the purpose. The partynewspapers were invited to make thisa cry. “ Never mind the evidence,” they were told, “ make assertions, and create a public opinion. We are going to tackle the Upper House.” Ministers said to their political organizations and supporters in Parliament, “ We have nopolicy. Prevent us from having to produce a policy by making the obstruction of the Senate a cry. If we can stop progress in Australia, it will suit our cause,, and it will suit the capitalists who helped us into office.”
Mr. Justice Barton was the distinguished Leader of the Federal movement after the death of the lamented’ Sir Henry Parkes. He did great’ work, and deserves great credit for what he did. When he took up -the cause, he did not turn back. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, he stood by it until he brought about fruition. Speaking in 3897 at theConvention, Mr. Justice “Barton said - “ Dead-lock” is not a term which is strictlyapplicable to any case except that in which the constitutional’ machine is prevented from: properly working. I am in very great doubt whether the term can be strictly applied to any case except the stoppage of Legislative machinery arising out of conflict upon the finances of the country. A stoppage which arises on any matter of ordinary legislation, because the two Houses cannot come to an agreement at first, is not a thing which is properly designated by the term “ deadlock,” because the working of the Constitution goes on-the constitutional machine proceeds notwithstanding a disagreement. It is only when the- fuel of the machine of government is withheld that the machinery of government comes to a stop, and that fuel is money.
I suppose that Sir Edward Barton’s opinion must count for nothing compared with that of the Cook Government when a party cause is at stake. In 1898 Sir William McMillan summed up the situation in this way-
I do say that if you create any machinery which, under the guise of settling dead-locks, will really be used to create dead-locks, you will strike a blow absolutely at the power and dignity of the Senate.
During the discussion on these Bills, Ministers have made their position clear in regard to an, even more important matter than the double dissolution. An attack has been made on the bi-cameral system of the Constitution and the equal representation of the States in the Senate. The Prime Minister, repeating the statement originally made by the Attorney-General, has challenged us to say whether we believe in an Upper House constituted as the Senate is. Before the Constitution Bill was adopted, I did not regard the constitution of the Senate as the best that we could have, and, with others, sought to the utmost of our ability to prevent it, by constitutional means, from being accepted. Now we have a proposal from the Government to alter the representation in the Senate, not in a constitutional way, but for party reasons having no connexion with the constitutional issue. The basis on which the Senate is elected is one State one vote. Surely that can be allowed. We have provided for one man one vote and one woman one vote, not on the ground of intellectual fitness, but’ because each man and each woman is a separate and distinctive entity in the community. For the constitution of a revising Chamber can you have a more logical basis than the equal representation of each State?
– Giving Tasmania nine votes in the , Senate for .every vote .pos-‘ sessed by New South Wales !’’
– The honorable member must have been dreaming; I do’ hot wish to argue this question from a purely party point of view, because I seek to get from the Government a clear, definite, and distinct declaration. It is not a matter that can be passed on gently in order to see how the country feels 65 it. I am referring to a fundamental part of the Constitution, and the question must be tackled in a straightforward way. If the other Chamber, which is a co-ordinate House in some respects with this, is not to have a say in these matters, let it be wiped out altogether; but do not let any step with that object in view be associated with, a political question of this kind that had no particular significance at the last general election.
My last complaint about the Government is that they have no warrant from the electors to proceed with these Bills as they are doing, and that twelve months ago they had no justification in coming to this House without a programme, determined to do nothing unless they got these Bills. They are the worst enemies of Australia - worse than trusts, combines, and monopolies, because they have an opportunity to protect the interests of the people and will not do it.They do nothing, and prevent Parliament doing anything. A gentleman said today, “You seem to be busy up at the House “; and the reply was, “ No, nothing is being done; and that is precisely what the Government want.” They have stopped business for party political ends’. They have hindered the machinery of government in Australia for more than a year in the hope of getting a longer term with a majority in order to do what they have not the courage to do now.
They have condemned much of the legislation passed by previous Federal Parliaments; they condemn it now secretly and viciously under the breath; but they say, “ We shall not interfere with it now. We cannot do it.” But if they can get another election on a false ‘issue, with powerful press influence behind them, they hope to get a majority; and knowing them as we know them, we do not hesitate to believe that they will then not stop short of carrying out what are their intentions, but not what they have put before the’ electors. What does the Attorney-General. say about the maternity allowances-even about the invalid and old-age pensions? What did the VicePresident of the Executive Council say the other day regarding the maternity allowance? “That he is against it, but that he will not touch it now.” But if the opportunity comes “ later on,” what will they do? They pledged themselves to deal with the Tariff, but when they got the opportunity the other day they said, “ Not now.” So with any legislation. They have delayed every urgent matter. When the question of the high cost of living came up during the last Parliament, honorable members showed how, from their point of view, they were going to’ protect the interests of the poor men struggling with families; but what have they done since they came into office?
– Is this the postal vote?
– I was dealing with the constitutional question.
– There is no constitutional question arising out of the second reading of the Postal Vote Restoration Bill. .
– Very well, I shall pass away from that subject. The Prime Minister says that there is no constitutional question involved. And that is what 1 have been saying. I have just been pointing out, during the absence of the Prime Minister from the chamber, that, until last week, the Ministry did little else but talk about their determination to put through these two test Bills. We only knew them as test Bills. We did not know them by their titles, but, by the language used by the Government and their supporters and the press, we knew them as the two test Bills’. And the Prime Minister said to all the world, including His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, if he would listen or read, “ We must either go on or go out.”
-What do you wish ?
– The Prime Minister smiles. I do not wish to misquote him. He quite admits that “ Go on or ‘go out “ is the proper quotation of something he has said outside the House.
– Yes. I do not mind.
-The Minister of Trade and Customs, who was -representing, the Prime Minister during the latter’s absence from the chamber, had denied it; but I had put the quotation to the Prime Minister previously, and he, had .admitted, it. We shall npt delay .this Bill long.. ‘;
– You Mid the other day’- that it was ‘”’”’ all up,” ‘ when
Gardiner and Rae sprang that division on you.
– We feel that a young country cannot afford to waste an unlimited amount of time on stagnation. The Government have had ample opportunity to show the country whether they have a policy or not, or whether they intend to go on with anything; but they have failed absolutely to propose anything or suggest anything.
– What nonsense 1
– Declamatory statements about the Opposition are not the business of the Government. It is a recognised principle in deliberative assemblies and Parliaments constituted on a representative and responsible government basis’ that, in regard to policy, the Opposition may. say or do what they please; but that it is the bounden duty of a Government, while the people are calling for legislation, to even anticipate their wants ; or, at any rate, when their duty is plainly to be seen, to proceed with legislation that is urgently called for - =as advisers of the Crown, to see that that legislation is brought in, and to do everything possible to pass it through Parliament. The present Government have failed in their duty in that respect, and it is the duty of the Opposition to see that Ministers are afforded the earliest opportunity of “ getting out,” so that the business of the country may go on.
.- An interjection by the honorable member for Maranoa has brought to my mind an utterance of the Leader of the Opposition, in which he stated that blame rested with the Liberal party for not dealing with the Tariff during the last twelve months, during which time the InterState’ Commission has been appointed particularly to deal with that subject. In other words, he is asking this House before the report of an independent body of men-
– The honorable member ‘must discuss the Bill. Irrelevant interjections do not .justify an irrelevant speech.
-I just wish to say that’ the honorable member had thr.ee years in which to “deal with that question, and did npt deal with it at all. *WHen the honorable member takes, exception ‘.toMJP^li ,’ipjr restoring the postal vote’,’ ‘and says .that. it. is a measure, that is aimed’ against the Labour party, which the Liberals have brought forward with no hope of being able to pass it, I am astounded; because, if we are to judge by his own utterances, the restoration of the postal vote is one of the very first things that should be attended to. Speaking on the 11th December, 1905, after the late Mr. Batchelor had moved an amendment against some of the provisions of the postal vote, the Leader of the Opposition said -
I am sorry to hear so many of my friends attacking the postal vote provisions of the Electoral Act. I regard those provisions as the necessary corollary to a universal franchise…… Because certain persons may have misused the privileges conferred by an Act of Parliament, we ought not to deprive even one eligible voter of the opportunity to exercise the franchise. One would imagine, from the statements of some honorable members, that these postal votes are open to the public. As a matter of fact, they re, and ought to be, as secret as if they were placed in the ballot-box.
Then after an interjection by Mr. Batchelor, he said -
Does he say that we cannot reach such offenders I
– I am certain that we cannot.
– I say that we can. Whan such offences are proved, the Government which failed to reach their authors would not continue in office very long. Upon the proposal to require an elector who wishes to avail himself of the postal provisions of ‘the Act to go before a postmaster, I am opposed to the honorable member for Boothby, for the reason that there are many cripples who are mentally sound, but whom it would be absolutely impossible to take to a post-office. Why should they be deprived of the right to exercise the franchise? The honorable and learned member for Corio points out that the mere fact of another person looking at the signature of a voter is an offence.
In these circumstances, the honorable member will see that we are merely restoring the provisions of the Electoral Act to which he gave his full support.
– The Bill does not deal with the sick and invalid alone.
– The Bill merely restores the postal vote as it was, but with further safeguards against the violation of it.
– Where are the further safeguards ?
– There is even a penalty for looking at the signature of a voter. When the provisions were first adopted, a good many safeguards were passed, so many that the honorable member for Gwydir pointed out that weran a danger of abolishing the chance of its being properly exercised. When we look at the number of votes exercised, and at how many thousands of women who think it much more pleasant to vote in that way, and when we think of the number of people who reside 4 or 5 miles from a polling booth - when we add them all up, the surprise to us as a Parliament is that greater advantage was not taken of the postal vote.
– We are prepared to grant facilities to those people, but not to everybody.
– We are only reinstating the electoral law exactly as it was before, and to try to deal with the matter in any other way is to endeavour to throw dust in the eyes of the public. The honorable member’s remark cannot be said to be a genuine and valid excuse. The number of persons who exercised the postal vote throughout the Commonwealth at the last election in which that vote was in use was only 29,000, and in some constituencies there were not more than 1,500 postal votes recorded, although there were as many as 35,000 voters on the rolls of some electorates.
– No electorate polled 35,000.
– But there were that number on the roll, and the highest number of postal votes recorded in any one constituency was, I think, 1,430. Therefore, all this talk about the abuse of the postal vote, and about the necessity of safeguarding the public against imaginary dangers is not correct!.
– They were real dangers in Queensland, and everywhere else.
– I do not know what happened in Queensland, but the evil could not have been great, otherwise the Ministry, of which the honorable member was head, would have put the Act into force. I give the honorable member that much credit, that if there had been any fraud he and his Ministers would have been too sound in administration to allow such a thing to take place without trying to fit the punishment to the crime. The total number of postal votes polled in Queensland was only 4,020, so that the proportion was not very great.
– Does not the honorable member see that that is the same proportion as for the Commonwealth as a whole ?
– Yes, just., about’ the same proportion, which” is exactly what one would expect, . ad Queensland is becoming more settled. In fact, I should expect a closely settled constituency like Melbourne to exercise a slightly larger proportion of postal votes than country constituencies, because there are perhaps a- larger number of old people who have come to live in the cities, and a greater number- of women who are necessarily living in the big centres. In the circumstances I have mentioned, any objection on the part of honorable members opposite to the passage of this Bill must be on the ground that they do not propose to allow any legislation brought forward by the present Government to pass. When we- look up the utterances of honorable members, this seems to be the- very measure that they ought not to have opposed, seeing how carefully it was selected to meet their wishes, as expressed in the utterances by the honorable members for Wide Bay, Gwydir, and Herbert, and other honorable members. It really seems, as if the Prime Minister had gone to extremes in his desire to meet the wishes of the Opposition, and to try to legislate on a matter in regard to which this House has always been in entire accord. That is to say, all the leaders and Ministers of the Labour party were fully in accord with the restoration of the postal-vote provisions. Therefore, when this Bill was brought forward, so far from being treated as introducing an element of discord, it ought to have been accepted as a matter of harmony between us all,
– It was brought forward as a test measure.
– There was no word said at that particular time about a constitutional difficulty, beyond the expression of opinion by members on both sides of the House that with parties so equally balanced it would be difficult for the Government to carry on, unless a spirit of conciliation were shown by the Labour party. To cultivate that spirit of conciliation, and to try to meet the wishes of members of the Opposition, what did the Government do? They ransacked Hansard to ascertain what Bills the Opposition were likely to agree to. We found that the Leader of the Labour party, and the great bulk of Labour members, expressed the desire that the provisions of the postal vote should be in. operation. .- Now we bring, forward this measure, and such is the. force- of party opposition that, I regret to say, honor able members seem not to recognise the olive branch that is thrown out to them, but treat the Bill as if it were a measure - which had been brought down by the Government in a manner hostile to them. If honorable members were not treating this Bill in an absolutely party spirit - if they were desirous of supporting any legislation at call - they would recollect what they said in times past, and would bear in mind the words of the honorable member for Wide Bay, that “ We ought not to prevent any citizens exercising the franchise if it is possible to grant it to them.” I have already said that 29,000 citizens did exercise the franchise by means of the postal vote when it was last in use, and those people we now debar from exercising the franchise: Therefore, hon- .orable members can only be opposing this Bill in a spirit of factious opposition. I am glad to hear that the members of the Opposition are not going to put forward much argument against the measure ; they will only vote, no doubt being anxious to restrict discussion, lest they should be confronted with their own speeches on the subject. I think it is only right that the country should know that the Labour party are acting in such a spirit of opposition that the very measure which the Government have picked out as the measure which more members spoke in favour of than any other measure that could be suggested, is being opposed by them most bitterly, as if it were likely to injure thousands instead of being a boon to thousands of people. Again, on behalf of the great mass of workers in this community, I take exception to the utterance of the honorable member for Wide Bay that, merely because of monetary or social influences, electors will vote against their own convictions.
– He did not say that.
– The honorable member said that money and social circumstances were brought into play, and that those interfered with the exercise of that right to vote that ought to be exercised freely by every adult. It is clear that that slander - if one is to treat it as such . - can. only apply to the working people who support the Labour party. The honorable member’s remarks, cannot apply to the Liberal voter, because if. he votes as he.” had intended to. vote, there could ‘<ii . have been no influence’ brought to bear -‘ upon, him, and therefore there was no injury done to the community. The only slander is upon the working man, who thinks with the Labour party, but, owing (to certain influences, votes the other way. I decline to believe that amongst the honest, sound workmen of ‘Australia can be found people so amenable to influence as to barter their votes for money or for a word of praise. If that is the case, the sooner we find out those voters and take the franchise away from them the better. And the sooner the members of the Labour’ party cease talking about such voters being “ the voice of God “ the better, because clearly men of that type are much more fitted to belong to the criminal class than to any other. On behalf of the ordinary average elector -of Australia, I must take exception to the statement made by the Leader of the Labour party that amongst the workers there are so many with Labour tendencies who yet vote against their convictions. I do not believe that statement, and I say that the honorable member’s remarks are a slander on so many workers in the community that ought not to be uttered by a member professing to be acting in the interests of Labour. Members of the Opposition should cease cackling about protecting the interests of Labour when we find them opposing a Bill that would recognise the right of the whole of the workers of Australia as against the 400,000 who are organized. Honorable members say, “No; we will stand for the 400,000 organized men, and they may be able, by reason of their organization, to beat the others who are disorganized.”
– We do not want “ scabs.”
– If the honorable member means that nobody is to live unless he belongs to a union, let him say so. However, I am not going to be drawn into an argument as to whether everybody should belong to a. union or not. All I contend is that, whether a man is in a union or out of one, if he has the right and- the capacity to exercise a vote, but is in ill-health, or; for any of various other reasons mentioned in the Bill, is unable to attend a polling booth, he should be given an opportunity to vote. We seek to broaden the franchise. I am not going, to argue at this moment whether this is the simplest way to do it, or whether the mere restoration of’ the postal vote would be the best method’ which one would wish to adopt to give effect to our desire, but in this way we are restoring those clauses of the previous Electoral Act which allowed a postal vote to be recorded. It is manifest from their opposition to this Bill that members of the Opposition would, if they had the chance, deprive the people of’the country of any opportunity of exercising a postal vote.
– Why did your party knock the postal vote out in Queensland ?
– I have nothing to do with what any party did in Queensland or elsewhere. Considering the expressions of opinion from members on both sides, and the number of members who, by their previous speeches, were fully committed to the postal vote, I say that the Labour party, in opposing this Bill, are acting unwisely. They may be blocking legislation, but I am not sure that that is a good party move, even at the present time, although the people have not had a full opportunity of understanding what has been done. Where the general elector has an opportunity of seeing what is being done by the Labour party, and of seeing how it may Tall to his lot to be deprived of his vote, and to hundreds of others who are mentally capable of voting, but who are incapacitated by illness from going to a polling booth, the elector must, if he believes in adult franchise, record his vote against those people who seek to deny him and other citizens of their right to vote. We seek to restore the postal vote, which 29,000 electors exercised on a previous occasion. By the action of the Labour party, probably an even greater number were deprived of the opportunity of voting at the last election, because once the provisions were better understood they would be made more use of, and many people would have been able to exercise the vote who, not aware of the absent-voting provisions, found, themselves disfranchised through being unable to attend a polling booth.
– Will the honorable member tell us what became of the thousands of the postal votes that were not recorded after they were issued?
– Even if it does appear that in one or two cases postal vote papers were missing, it is manifest that’ they were never recorded at’.all. /We cannot prevent fraud or the breaking of any law. No one has’1 ever asserted; that ari
Act of Parliament can be so framed as to prevent any violation of it. It is precisely the type of men who are constantly breaking the law that we recognise as belonging to the criminal type. The Government have met the Opposition in a spirit of conciliation. The Government Preference Prohibition Bill, for instance, did not affect awards made by the Arbitration Court. It related only to Government employes. I would have gone very much further, but the Government apparently desired to conciliate honorable members opposite, just as they are accommodating them now in connexion with this Bill. There has been too much conciliation. I would have cleared the ground at once, and would have said that no man has a right to force another -to enter a union, and to contribute to funds which may be used by secretaries or any one else for political purposes. The Opposition have been met by the Government in a spirit of conciliation, and yet they are not satisfied. They talk of the two test Bills. The Bills were really to test the sincerity of the Opposition - to test whether they would allow us to do any business.
– Who ‘called them test Bills?
– The honorable member and his leader have done so.
– They were so described in the first instance by the Government.
– Something had to be brought forward to test whether honorable members opposite would allow the Government to deal with any business whatever. In this Bill the Government are proposing something of which approval has at one time or other been expressed by members of the late Administration. We are, therefore, holding out the olive branch to honorable members opposite.
– Surely the honorable member does not mean .that ?
– It is true that some honorable members opposite regard it, not as an olive branch, but rather as a piece of prickly pear. They may yet find that it is a prickly pear, -and their digestions will suffer accordingly. There is probably a good deal of confusion amongst honorable members opposite. No doubt many of the more moderate members of the party would be prepared, but for party rule, to pass this Bill without any trouble whatever1. They know that it should hive their support.
– It would have been through by now if the honorable member had not risen to speak.
– The Bill is designed to enable votes to be recorded by many citizens who would otherwise be disfranchised. In opposing it, honorable members are utterly losing sight of the interests of the electors.
– What is the object of this obstruction?
– To allow the Labour party time to reflect. I am afraid, however, that they are not prepared to give much consideration to a matter of this kind. They are afforded an opportunity to vote with us to restore the postal vote system, and if they avail themselves of it they will show that they have at last reached the stage of repentance. The olive branch is held out to them by the Government, and if it be accepted they will find a willingness on the part of honorable members on this side of the House to meet them.
– The honorable member might ashwell save his treacle.
– The honorable member need not take advantage of it. If the Opposition, even at this late stage, showed some desire to allow legislation to proceed, I am satisfied that they would find the Ministry and the great bulk of honorable members on this side willing to meet them. Every one knows that a dissolution must involve great expense,’ and the present state of affairs is such; perhaps, that it is undesirable, in the best interests of the country, that a general election should take place if it can be avoided. But honorable members opposite are forcing it upon us. They are declining to allow any business to be done, and even now are opposing a measure which, if introduced by any other Ministry, would have received their support. The bulk of the legislation introduced by the late Government was opposed to the interests of the people. The legislation of the Labour party has been in the direction of making capital dearer, and making it harder for the poor to live.
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– I am glad that the honorable gentleman is feeling the sting of my remarks. The objection that is being offered to this Bill cannot .commend itself to the thoughtful members of the
Opposition. Party rule, however, is being exercised, and, although the bulk of the Opposition are at heart in favour of this Sill, they are absolutely determined not to allow it or any other legislation to be passed by the present Government. I adjure honorable members opposite to forego their party prejudices. Surely they must recognise that it is the duty of Parliament to afford every citizen an opportunity to vote. To the wealthy man who owns a motor-car, and who can travel some distance to a polling booth without any inconvenience whatever, this Bill means nothing. The wealthy man can afford to pay for a conveyance, but the poor cannot, and the Labour party, in opposing this Bill, are seeking to deprive many poor persons of the right to exercise the franchise. They pretend to be in favour of the workers of the community, yet they legislate against them. The poor who cannot hire a conveyance to go to a polling place are to be deprived of the right to vote by post.
– The honorable member would be the first to vote for any measure that would deprive the worker of the right to vote.
– No, I believe in voting by post. The Labour party . have legislated on behalf of trusts. Are they now going to deprive large numbers of the poorer section of the community of the right to vote? If they could do so, they would deprive of the franchise every one who had declared that he was not in- favour of their party.
– Even the honorable member does not believe that.
– I know that the honorable member would object to anything of the kind, but the attitude of his party suggests that they are working in that direction. I appeal to them to vote as they think. They voted at one time for the postal-vote system, and we are now seeking to restore it. But it seems that they are not prepared to allow even the proposals they favour to go through, so that when they say to the Government, “ If you had brought along something else, we would have voted for it,” they must know that they are saying what is not correct.
– That is a serious statement to make.
– And I. am unable to qualify it in fact, I think that the late
Mr. Batchelor was the only one that disagreed with the then attitude of the Labour party. Are honorable members opposite going to vote in accordance with their opinions, or as the Caucus may dictate? It is clear that the rejection of this Bill would not affect the wealthy people, but would strike at what may be called the poorer voters. There seems to be an impression that the opposition to the Bill is on solid party grounds, but that is not so, because there is scarcely a Labour man who is not in full accord with the measure. Honorable members opposite who disregard their previous votes are not a Labour party, but a “ trust “ party, whether the “ trust “ be called a “ union,” or by any other name.
– Then it is a wonder we do not get any help from the trusts.
– Does the honorable member deny that the Labour party do get help from trusts? Certainly, the party on this side of the House never get any such assistance. The Bill is to restore to every citizen a right, the exercise of which worked very well for at least - three elections.
– Why was it repealed?
– Because, as it was said, the Labour party considered that more postal votes were cast in favour of the Liberals than for their own side. That is a statement that I never made use of myself, but, if it were true, it was not a reason for repeal, but for scrutinizing the electoral machinery. Every one should be able to exercise his own judgment in political matters.
– That is what we desire.
– But some unions declare that if a member votes other than as they direct he shall be excluded from membership.
– Where is that said?
– Unionists have been called upon, on more than one occasion., to vote exactly as their, ‘organization dictated, and large sums of money are collected from unionists for political purposes. If the postal vote were restored, men, in many cases, would not be forced to vote in a particular direction under threat of. being called black-legs. It is clear that if we had. compulsory voting, which is favouredby gome honorable members opposite there would have tobe postal voting.
– With a proper system.
– I presume that any system adopted would be very little different from that now proposed, which has stood the test of a certain amount of experience. At any rate, no better system has been suggested by honorable members opposite; and the amendments indicated are not distinguished for either practical or legal knowledge.
– Would the honorable member favour everybody voting by post?
– I should have no objection, if, in that way, we could get a free and unprejudiced expression of opinion from the electors. All the provisions that were in vogue from 1902 to 1910, with the object of preventing abuse and fraud, are restored by the Bill.
– Although they proved ineffective.
– The honorable member is making a shocking attack on the administration of the late Government; he is asserting that, although they were aware of fraud, they did not take proceedings. I urge the Labour party to call to their aid a little common sense, and to vote according to their previouslyexpressed opinion.
– Does the honorable member think that thepassing of the Bill would prevent a dissolution ?
– If honorable members opposite are prepared to permit legislation, and thus make a dissolution unnecessary, no one will welcome the fact more than will the Government, who are simply forced to their present position by the attitude of honorable members opposite. This Bill makes a proposal of which the Labour party formerly expressed approval; and if they will not accept such legislation, what kind of legislation can we expect them to accept? Their present attitude is contrary to the interests of the country, and certainly contrary to the interests of large bodies of electors ; and it will have the effect of forcing on the community a dissolution - an event which has not been sought by the Liberal party, and would not be sought by them now, were it not for the rejection of legislation of this kind..
– That is not right !
– Could we have any better proof than a refusal to accept a proposal of which honorable members opposite formerly approved? The honorable member for Wide Bay said that to force a dissolution over measures of this kind was to strain the Constitution. I agree with him. I go further, and say that it weakens the power of the Senate to a degree which may, perhaps, be found unwholesome at some future time, and in a manner of which I, as a Constitutionalist, do not quite approve. But there is no other course left open to us. If honorable members will persist in their opposition, we must do what we are doing, because the country cannot be allowed to clamour, unsatisfied, for necessary legislation.
– The honorable member is, therefore, consenting to destroy the Constitution ?
-No. The Constitution was framed under the belief that it would be used by men exercising their intelligence and judgment on public matters, but honorable members opposite are not doing that. Under these circumstances, we have no option but to send these Bills to the Senate, though even at this late hour the Labour party has a chance to show its regret for what has been done, and to alter its attitude.
.- I wish to show the hypocrisy of the Government in this matter, and to convict Ministers out of their own mouths. On the 11th September of last year the Honorary Minister brought in a Bill to amend the Electoral Act. That Bill provided for the restoration of the postal vote under certain conditions. By it the exercise of the postal vote was surrounded with many safeguards, which were not in the Act in 1909, an admission by the Government that the exercise of the postal vote, as provided for in that Act, was not sufficiently safeguarded against corruption.The main additional safeguards that were provided in the amending Electoral Bill number nine -
Although all these safeguards were contained in the amending Electoral Bill introduced last September, the Government now asks us to pass a Bill providing that sections 3, 4, 14, 23, 35, and 38 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act of 1911 shall be repealed, and the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-9 which were repealed by those sections revived and re-enacted. In other words, Ministers now propose to go back to the provisions relating to the exercise of the postal vote which were contained in the Act of 1909, although in September of last year they regarded those provisions as lamentably deficient in safeguards against bribery and corruption.
– Did not your party object to those safeguards?
– No. The Government dropped the Bill during its second reading stage. The Bill, besides providing for the safeguards to which I have referred, made an attack upon the secrecy of the ballot; and had the Bill been passed, it would have revived a condition of things that obtained in 1830, the time of the rotten boroughs. When it was pointed out to Ministers that they had got themselves into a hole by interfering with the secrecy of the ballot by compelling each elector to sign the butt from which his ballot-paper, numbered in the same way, was torn, Ministers dropped the Bill.
– The honorable member is not now discussing the Bill before the Chair.
– I propose only to add to what I have said that proof of my statements is easily obtainable.
The first safeguard that I have mentioned can be found by comparing section 109 of the Act of 1909 with clause 110 of the Bill introduced last September.
The secondsafeguard canbe found by comparing section 110 of the Act of 1909 with clause 112 of the 1913 Bill.
The third and fourth will be proven by comparing section 118a of the 1909 Act with clause 116 of the 1913 Bill.
The fifth will be found by comparing section 118a of the 1909 Act with clause 117 of the 1913 Bill..
The sixth is the omission of section 118b from the 1909 Act.
The seventh can be found by comparing section 119 of the Act with clause 119 of the Bill of 1913.
The general alteration of instructions to Returning Officers in regard to the treatment and counting of the postal ballotpapers will be found by comparing section 119 of the Act of 1909 with clause- 119 of the Bill of 1913.
– I have not yet been able to connect the honorable member’s remarks with the Bill before the Chair.
– The Bill provides for the re-enactment in their entirety of the repealed sections of the Act of 1909, which provide for postal voting; and the Government is clearly convicted of hypocrisy in connexion with the introduction of the present Bill, because in September last it introduced a Bill to amend the Electoral Act, which provided for the restoration of postal voting surrounded with the safeguards that I have mentioned, all of which are now omitted.
The omission of these safeguards shows that the present Bill is introduced for an ulterior purpose, and not bond fide for the re-establishment of the postal vote.
The Prime Minister, in referring to-day to the invalids and women folk, spoke with his tongue in his cheek, having regard to the Bill introduced last September and immediately abandoned.
If the postal vote were surrounded with reasonable safeguards, such as those suggested last session, there would be less objection to it.
I am in favour of the postal vote, and of affording every facility to the women of Australia to exercise the franchise. If the Government is prepared to deal seriously with the matter, and to accept suggestions for reasonable amendments to safeguard the exercise of the postal vote against corruption, it can claim my vote.
But until I see evidence of sincerity I cannot support! the Bill. I do not wish to occupy further time. I recognise that the Government is not out for honest legislation, but merely intends a bit of party trickery. If it ‘is to be a battle ; of wits, the best way in which to treat Ministers is to give them the Bill as soon as possible. We know that they have no other legislative proposals that they seriously wish to bring forward. Let them go to the Governor-General and receive the rebuff which they are sure to get. Then we shall have a change of Government, and there will be a chance of getting needed legislation of a national character.
.- I have no intention of occupying much time, but after the glaring statements of the honorable members for Wide Bay and Cook, I should be wanting in my duty to my electors and the country if I made no reply. The honorable member for Cook has stated that the Government should have inserted in this Bill the safeguards contained in the amending Electoral Bill of last year; but, according to honorable members opposite, the weak thing about the Amending Bill was that the safeguards introduced were not sufficient to prevent corruption in connexion with the exercise of the postal vote. Now, if there was one point on which they centred their attack on the Bill, it was the weakness of the safeguards proposed. Yet the honorable member for Cook has the audacity to say that were those safeguards incorporated in this Bill, honorable members opposite would vote for it. For three or four weeks the Amending Electoral Bill was discussed until we were sick and tired of it, the whole attack being centred upon the weakness of the safeguards proposed for the protection of the postal vote. I represent a country electorate, and I think that it is high time that the opinions of the country electors should be voiced. ‘ The people living in the country are the backbone and sinew of the land. They are the pioneers who have sacrificed the pleasures of: living in big cities, where there are all .the advantages of education, amusement, and where there are churches, telephones, and everything that makes life agreeable, and where, at poll- ing time, all a man has to do is, perhaps, to go across the road and record a vote. Country electors should have equal rights with city electors. . Honorable members boast of the principle of “ one man- ohe vote, one. vote one value “ ; “but where does equality of value come in when one nian Has, ‘ perhaps, to travel for “ flays to re- 1 cord his vote - the honorable member for Maranoa has repeatedly told us that many electors in his district have to travel 100 miles to record their votes - while in the city a man can jump on a tram and record his vote in ten minutes? In the country a man may have to spend a week or ten days in order to record his vote. Yet honorable members have the audacity to say, as a party, that they believe in the principle of “ one man one vote, one vote one value.” Their claim is simply nonsense. There is no such thing as “ one value “ in it, when a man in the city can vote in ten minutes, and the man in the country has to lose, perhaps, ten days in order to vote. In regard to the safeguards attached to postal voting, if we look into the absent-voting provisions dealing with persons who are leaving Australia for other countries, we find that the conditions under which these people vote are. exactly similar to those under which they are asked to vote under the postal-voting provisions. The difference is that between tweedledum and tweedledee; it is so microscopic that it may be said to be invisible. Honorable members put that provision in regard to absent voting on the statute-book because they knew that the majority of the sailors who would vote under it would be voting for their side, and, so long as they secured a majority by means of that system, they were perfectly satisfied with it, though they strongly objected to postal voting, because at one election the Liberal party secured a majority of 12,000 votes, which was the assertion of the three Labour Senate candidates in New South Wales. They made that statement at Dubbo and Wellington, and in other parts of the State. It- was repeatedly said that, through the postal-vote provi sions, the Liberals got a majority of 12,000 votes. One reason more than another why I support the postal-voting provision is that stated by the honorable member for Werriwa, that the rich people have motor cars and buggies, whereas the poorer people have to tramp to the polling booths, Those who have to. tramp long distances to polling booths . should , be permitted to vote by post. It would seem, from the obstruction and interjections, pf honorable members, that, the Liberals are the strongest supporters. e£ the. working classes, who; should not be compelled ‘ito put ‘ down1’’ their- tools1 and “ leave their work, and waste their time, to record their votes, if other means can be devised which would avoid that waste of time. The honorable member for Wide Bay occupied some little time in dealing with the system in force in Queensland some years ago. He did not compare the Queensland system with the Commonwealth system. I wish he had done so. He told us how Queensland had first adopted postal voting, and then abolished it, and he quoted speeches by Mr. Kidston ; but he did not quote his own speech in which he favored it, because it did not suit his purpose to do so. Nor did he tell the House that the system had been re-introduced into Queensland; and he did not speak of the numerous safeguards attaching to the Commonwealth system, and of the few in regard to the Queensland system. Between the two systems there was as wide a difference as the difference between the poles. Then the honorable member inferred - and it was a wicked insinuation - that the postal-voting system opened the door to fraud and corruption”, and that money could purchase scores of votes for the Liberals. The honorable member travelled through New South Wales during the recess, and complained about the manner in which the Prime Minister had slandered the electors of Australia, but the insinuation of the honorable member that the votes of the sick and crippled and halt, and those far removed from polling booths, could be bought, was a most gross slander upon the people of Australia. I can hardly imagine such words being uttered by one professing to lead the Labour party. The honorable member explained that facilities for voting had been extended to all hospitals. He showed that the inmates of hospitals and such-like institutions could vote. But if they have that right, why should not those outside hospitals have it - the sick, laid up in their own homes? Why discriminate? Simply because the Leader of the Opposition knows well that the class who are likely to vote for him will be inmates of hospitals, while those who are laid up in their own homes are likely to vote for the Liberals. That is the inference I draw from the argument of the honorable member. He also argues that people who are so sick that they are either mentally incapacitated or enfeebled in mind, and are, perhaps,” not conscious of what they are doing, should have votes, yet people in their full mental capacity are to be denied the right to vote by post if they happen to be mora than 5 miles from a polling booth. The franchise in Australia was the most perfect under’ the sun until the Labour party interfered with the inestimable privilege granted to the people living over 5 miles from a polling booth, and those who are sick and infirm; and w» cannot say that Parliament’ is representative of all the electors until we give all the electors the right to vote. When we extend the right to vote to every person, no matter what his position may be, or what may be the condition of his health, we shall be representative of the whole of the electors of Australia. In New South Wales and Victoria, there are pastoral and agricultural societies composed of both Labour and Liberal members of the community. These societies do not recognise parties, they comprise all parties, and the members have real happy times at their annual shows. Each society has a board of directors, or committee of management, and the method of electing these directors is to send out ballot-papers to be filled in and returned by post. Each member has a postal vote sent to him. There are no complaints about the system. Though there are many Labour members on these committees, they do not complain. They are perfectly satisfied with the system. The local governing boards of New South Wales have power to adopt the principle: of voting by post, and half the shires in that State have adopted itAnd those councillors, six for each shire, are elected by the postal vote in many shires. There is no complaint about it; there are no indignation meetings throughout the country to protest against that application of the postal-vote system. The people are perfectly satisfied, and everything goes on all right. Another instance is that of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the biggest financial institution in Australia. I insured with that society about twenty years ago, and every year I receive f rom Sydney ballot-papers so that. I may vote for the board of directors. The Australian Mutual Provident Society is not a Liberal institution. An. analysis of its “policy-holders would probably disclose that there are just as many amongst them who have Labour principles as have
Liberal principles. Yet they are satisfied to carry on their business through a board- of directors elected by postal vote. Surely if the principle is good enough for the Australian Mutual Provident Society, for the local governing bodies and for other institutions, there is abundant reason why it should likewise be satisfactory as part of our electoral law. I .am not speaking with any party feeling, but because I am honestly interested in the country people of Australia, and for their sake I support this Bill. I may be permitted to relate a little experience of my own. A few years ago I visited the Bourke district, with a view to buying Winbar station, along the Darling River. The station comprises about half-a-million acres, and carried a lot of sheep; it seemed a very cheap proposition. The homestead was 20 miles from a polling booth, and the boundaryrider lived some 40 miles from the homestead. When we reached his hut, we were discussing politics with him, and he told us that in order to record his vote he was obliged to travel 40 miles to the homestead and then another 20 miles to the polling booth, making a total of 60 miles. I consider that that man ought to have the right to vote by post.
– How could he?
– I suppose he could have found a justice of the peace within shorter distance than he had to travel to a booth. As soon as one mentions justices of the peace there is a storm of abuse from the Opposition side; but a very careful analysis made- in this House only a few months ago showed that there Were more justices appointed from the Labour side than from this side.
– Sit down, and pass the Bill.
– Will you give us the second reading?
– Yes; and the third reading, too.
– If the Opposition will give us the Bill the honorable member for Calare had better sit down.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– Considering this Bill first of all as a measure of electoral reform, the whole circumstances show it to be a sham. Let us look at the position broadly. The electoral, law of the Commonwealth is the most liberal in the world. The present Act, which was passed by the Labour Government, ex- tends the franchise more widely than that of any other country, and does so without respect to creed or status. It makes no distinctions,, and sets up no obstructions. One of the results of this law - one most surprising and distasteful to the present Government - was, that a larger poll was recorded - at the last general election than ever before. That the Government should introduce this measure as one of extreme urgency, as one which ought properly to be considered before any of those important measures upon which it was returned is, to say the least, a piece of partisan hypocrisy which, in the circumstances, is quite inexcusable’:’ If there is a need for an amendment of the electoral law, there is no excuse for the at- tempt to make the measure a party one, let alone a measure upon which the most extreme remedy possessed by the Legislature, under the Constitution, is to be resorted to. It is a matter of detail, a question concerning the electoral machinery of the country, and that alone. It certainly is a travesty upon affairs, as we know them, that a party embracing all the Conservative forces of the Commonwealth should pose before the country as reformers of the electoral law. It has been a favorite device of Conservatives the world over, and at all times, first of all to ignore reform, and then to choke it by the introduction of specious imitations of, or pretences at, reform. The Government calls itself a Liberal Administration. It certainly will not be denied by any impartial person that in every country there are forces which stand for Conservatism and reaction. Behind which party are those forces to-day ? For the Government which stands where it does, and lives, every day, by reason of the support of the extreme reactionaries of the Commonwealth, to pose as reformers of the electoral machinery of Australia would be a most amusing circumstance if it did not have its tragic side. The Ministerial party is really the lineal descendant of those estimable gentlemen who opposed the Catholic Emancipation Bill, who opposed the extension of the rights of complete citizenship to the Jews, and who have at all times hung on, and still hang on, to a property qualification. It is the lineal descendant of those estimable gentlemen who hang on to, and depend for their chance of success in Great Britain today upon, the retention of the property qualification, and who in this very State - for honorable members opposite cannot dissociate themselves from their supporters^ - are dependent for their position upon the property qualification as it exists in the Legislative Council. The Labour party, on the other hand, has a clean and a clear record in this matter. It has always stood for the extension of the franchise. It has lived to see the day when every man and woman in this country has, or ought to have, a vote, and can get a vote. But it has seen the day when a right honorable member of the present Government was returned to Parliament - this was in “ the good old days “ - with a constituency of, I think, thirty-nine, or, it may have been, forty voters. I would npt rob the right hon orable gentleman of one in such suggestive circumstances.
– There were thirty-seven.
– Never mind, I will make it an even forty. That such a party should pretend that its one object in life is to extend the right to vote to the sick and infirm of this country is really astounding. What do the members of that party care about the sick, the aged, and the infirm ? If they thought anything at all about them, if they had one honest desire to extend the vote, would they invite this Parliament, as they have done, and are doing, to reject this measure? This Bill pretends to extend the power to vote to persons who do nob possess it, yet we are invited not to pass, but to reject it. It is one of the most singular facts - and I am glad that it is singular since if it were usual, iti would involve us in a common shame - i« the history of the Commonwealth that this Parliament, which was created to deal with great national matters, and which has dealt with them so far as its powers would allow it, is now subdued to the melancholy position of having to engage in rejecting sham measures at the instance of the Government. If we passed this measure, the Government, according to their own statement, would be involved in a most unhappy position. But we are not! sent here to play with the machinery of legislation in this way. The Government! pretend to extend the franchise, but they belong to a party that has always opposed extension of the franchise. The forces behind the Labour party have been responsible for every extension of the franchise during the last twenty years. We have lived to see the property qualification destroyed. We have lived to see the vote extended from men to adults. We have destroyed utterly those barriers of caste which were set up by the progenitors of those noble reformers whom we see on the Government side of the House. Some of them smile at even the faintest suggestion that there is any connexion, hereditary or otherwise, between them and the forces of Toryism in Britain. Theirs is such an olla podrida, gathered from the highways and byways of politics, that it is impossible to trace any distinct parentage or construct any genealogical trees in regard to them.
Viewing the whole of the circumstances surrounding this Bill, it. is perfectly clear that it was introduced for one purpose only, and that was not to. extend the vote to the sick or the infirm, hut merely to serve a party object. Let us look at it fairly. Why are we asked again to consider this measure? The Senate, when the Bill was sent up last session, made a number of amendments. Those amendments, which were subsequently rejected by the Government, made ample provision whereby every infirm or sick person throughout Australia could vote. It was not enough, however, that ample provision was made. We must accept this Bill as it stands, without the alteration of a comma, without even an attempt to make it read as an intelligent effort at legislation. I venture to say that this Parliament has never before seen a measure drawn as this has been. On the face of. it, there is nothing from which any layman could gather anything at all of its purpose. It defies, any attempt at open amendment or even at plain discussion. It is introduced for the deliberate purpose of creating a dead-lock. To suppose for one moment that the framers of the Constitution intended section 57 to be abused in this fashion is to suppose that they were traitors to the Commonwealth . The Government has set about deliberately creating a crisis upon a relatively trivial part of the electoral machinery. It does so without excuse or provocation. It introduces this sham measure of electoral reform in face of the fact that the franchise to-day in this country is extended to all sorts and conditions of men and women, irrespective of creed or status. It does so in face of the fact that the Senate has agreed to amendments- which would extend the franchise to even those persons who, the Government now alleges, are denied the franchise.
One of the chief grounds for criticism against the Labour party at the last election was that the Electoral Act was too liberal, and that, in the absence of safeguards, it permitted fraud. We were told that wholesale fraud had been committed ; but the most ingenious, . the most meticulous research into the matter has failed to bring forward a tittle of evidence in support of that charge. Nevertheless, the investigation has proved that there was a heavier poll than ever before, that there was no fraud, .and that the ..whole trouble; was that. a larger pro- portion of persons cast their votes for
Labour than against it. This measure invites irregularities, and threatens to destroy the secrecy of the ballot.
The Government pose as being feverishly anxious to effect electoral reform; but what is the position? They say that there are thousands of persons in the country who are, or may be, prevented from voting at the next election. They know very well, of course - since they invite us to reject this measure - that nothing that we can do here can give the people the right to vote if they have not the right now. No matter how the Government posture or attempt to explain away the fact, they can never get out of the dilemma that at the present time no effort is1 being made by them to remedy what they consider to be an unfortunate state of affairs. Last session- the Government did introduce a Bill dealing with electoral reform; but, after carrying it to its second reading; they dropped it. There are two things that may be said of that Bill - first, that the measure in itself was the complement to the measure before us; and, second, that it proposed to create certain safeguards on the use of the postal vote. But the safeguards in that Bill have now been deliberately and brutally abandoned. This measure, which, along with the safeguards, was quite a different thing, and might have been discussed fairly, is, as it stands now, naked, without any pretence at those necessary safeguards which ought to be attendant upon any appeal to the people.
This measure is . the sole contribution by the Government towards, electoral reform, and it is introduced for the deliberate purpose of being rejected. I ask honorable members opposite to remember,- when they are on the hustings, and face to face with the people, as they soon will be - where posturing will no longer serve them - that, with all they have said and done, they have never made one honest effort to pass a law to extend the vote to the sick and infirm. When they introduced the other measure of electoral reform, they did promise something. . I am not going -to say anything on . that measure by way of criticism - good, bad, or indifferent; but. that was a measure for the. purpose of, being, passed into, law, ^whereas tb.e.measure . before us is introduced for the purpose of being thrown underneath the table. To charge this Government with pretence is like charging Satan with sin; the charge slips off their backs like a marble from the back of a tortoise, finding no place on which it can even make a dent. But I wish to take this double-dyed sham and strip it of its last cloak of pretension. This measure is introduced, not for the purpose of extending the postal vote, but for the purpose of bringing about a double dissolution; and it is introduced by a Government who are disfranchising hundreds and thousands of the citizens, of Australia. I make that charge deliberately. Here is a measure introduced ostensibly to do justice to a very small percentage of the people of the country. If it were an honest attempt, we should welcome it. Every man and every woman, sick or well, should have a vote; and I would not be bound by party, or in any other way, in any attempt to take from any human being that right. This Bill will not give that right.
– It will.
-It will not, and the honorable member knows it. The AttorneyGeneral, and all the members of the Government, say that the two measures which are before this Parliament are the measures on which they propose to invite the Governor-General to grant a double dissolution.
– It is to restore the original postal vote.
– It is a sham. The Government, as it avowedly is, now stands within a stone’s throw of a double dissolution, or an appeal to the people of some sort; and I cannot help noticing the change that has come over them - the change from the white-heat fervour’ that glowed on their faces when all they had to do was to buy feather pillows at 3s. 6d. each, and lie down and fight for their country all night, and pretend they desired a dissolution in that way - -to their appearance now, when they are brought face to face with the naked and horrid truth that, owing to some disarrangement of the machinery, which they were led to believe was perfectly guarded, there seems no longer any hope that an appeal can be obviated. Only yesterday honorable members opposite were dumb dogs, whereas now every one of them wishes to rise ; they are all taking notes’; and they are prepare’©^’ to’ “carry on thi’s debate ad- infinitum. Days and nights may come arid go, and the end of the session arrive, but their verbosity on this question will not be exhausted.
The Government talk about disfranchising the sick and infirm. What are they doing? Under the electoral law as it stands provision is made for the taking of a roll and for compulsory enrolment. Every person who is not enrolled, and who does not take the steps to become enrolled, as provided by the Act, is liable to prosecution. I make a charge in regard to something with which I am well acquainted when I say that in the suburbs of Sydney to-day there are literally thousands and thousands who no longer have any right to vote, by virtue of the rolls on which their names appear. They are being struck off those rolls, and no steps are being taken to put them on others or to prosecute the people for not themselves taking steps. In the great cities, and in Sydney in particular, quite 20 per cent, of the people move from one division to another every twelve months, and their names will disappear from their present rolls, and will not appear on any other. The police are now making a canvass, but they are taking no steps beyond leaving the notices or cards to be filled up. I do not hesitate to say that from 7£ to 15 per cent, of the people in Sydney - I know nothing of Melbourne - will be unable to vote at the next election. This Government, who are consumed with patriotic fire to give the vote to the sick and aged by a measure which it invites the House to reject, are not doing their duty by putting the law in force, except so far as it serves their own purpose. I wish to emphasize the fact that, while we. are haggling here over a measure that has no vitality - that never lived and never can be made alive, which pretends to give the franchise, but which cannot give it - thousands of people are losing their right to vote. The Government cannot ignore this point, because already a measure has been rejected, and, technically, section 57 of the Constitution has been satisfied; and they must, if they wish a double dissolution, forthwith ask for one. - and they might get it. What a dreadful thing that would be for the Government! Whether the Government get a double dissolution or not, there is’ every ‘: reason to believe that, in some way or”, other-,’ at least one1 Chamber’ of the Legislature will have to go to the people; and it ought to go to the whole people, and not only to some of them. Every man and woman in Australia ought to be able to say “ Yea “ or “ NT ay “ in this the greatest of all crises that have confronted the people of Australia since responsible government was granted. We have come to the parting of the ways. The question is whether there shall be given to this Parliament powers to deal with great questions - whether the Government shall remain in the hands of men who, for twelve mouths, have done nothing, who have no programme, no plan, or none they dare avow, or in the hands of men who, at least, have the courage of their opinions, and are prepared to do something. I have no doubt what the verdict will be, nor have the Government any doubt.
I wish to say nothing further on that point, because I do not care about participating in an obvious fraud; and I deliberately call this measure a legislative fraud. It is an abuse of the constitutional processes- by virtue of which we carry on our legislative functions here. The Bill involves no principle, and it cannot be made to satisfy the conditions under section 57, as they who framed the measure know perfectly well. Others wise the Government would have embalmed in some measure a great principle on which we might with confidence have appealed to the people. They have taken good care not to do that; and they seek to fasten on the shoulders of honorable members on this side an obloquy which I repudiate and decline to bear. They say that we are opposed to the extension of the postal vote. That is absolutely untrue. We welcome any attempt to enfranchise any section of the community which, by accident or adverse circumstance, is at present prevented from voting. The more the voters, the better for the Labour party. Honorable members can read the writing on ‘ the wall. At every election since 1900 there has been an ominous increase in the number of votes polled, and a more than corresponding increase in the number of Labour members returned to Parliament. What have we to lose by an appeal to the people ? But what have the people as a whole to hope for from the party opposite ? Nothing. Even at this supreme hour, when at length the Government has succeeded by what it must regard as an unfortunate set of circumstances in obtaining what it pretended to want, do Ministers say, “ This is the programme upon which we propose to go to the country?” Do they show a readiness to advance that legislation which they have concealed successfully for twelve months ? No. They say that the country is running downhill towards financial bankruptcy; but is there any indication of proposals for re-establishing our financial stability? We are face to face with great social questions, yet the Government offers no solution. All we have is the resuscitation of this wretched sham, -upon’ which, the people are told, the Government will stand or fall. It is a worthy measure upon which the Ministry have elected to stand or fall, a thing after their own heart and likeness, the shadow of a sham; without vitality, without purpose, moving without direction, having no origin which it can claim, and no objective. All I wish to make clear is that, in spite of the Bill being a sham, I shall not allow the Government to place on my shoulders the blame of refusing to give to the sick ‘.of this country a vote. Let them bring down a measure, to be passed this session, and to be put into force at the next election,’ to give a vote to the sick, the aged, the infirm, those who- in any instance, or by whatever mischance, may be prevented from voting, and I shall support it, providing only that the proper and necessary safeguards surround it which are demanded in all electoral enactments.
– Why did the honorable member’s Government not do this?
– The honorable member was, no doubt, asleep in a political hollow log at the time, and does not know that while in office the Labour Government enfranchised the people of Australia for the first time. We broke down the last of the barriers preventing the fullest exercise of the franchise, extending the vote freely to all sorts and conditions of the people. The only restrictions we allowed were designed to prevent the repetition of frauds so gross and obvious that no genuine champion could be found to fight their battle. The reintroduction of postal voting in Queensland has been surrounded with the safeguards for which we now ask. Do honor- ‘ able gentlemen opposite forget that in Victoria not only is there a property qualification, required of Legislative; Council electors, but the Liberal party- holds office because of a gross and scandalous inequality between country and town electorates, the elector in the town not possessing half the voting power of the elector in the country ? Do they not know that in ‘South Australia there has been perpetrated the most gross gerrymandering known to that State? Do they not know that in Western Australia the Wilson Government were hunted out of office for a scandalous piece of gerrymandering? Are they not aware that Liberalism, so-called, has everywhere lived, and now lives, by speciously crying aloud, “ Liberty, liberty,” and riveting the chains on to the limbs of the people ? The Labour party demand something real in the nature of freedom. We require something more than a sham. We are ready to extend the franchise to the sick now, and the amendments proposed by the Senate were ample for that purpose. Should they not be so, why not reason together like sensible men and make them what we need, instead of throwing them out contemptuously as if they were not capable of forming a basis for a reasonable compromise ? But nothing will serve honorable members opposite but the rejection of all proposals for amendment. To that I shall be no party, and, therefore, I shall vote against the Bill.
.- As one who, in his early political career, advocated postal voting, I am now only too willing to give the franchise to the sick and the infirm who cannot go to the polling booths. But I want to have such safeguards provided that infamy and crime such as have come under my own notice, and of which I have given sworn testimony before a Commission, may not be again committed. I propose to read from the report of a Committee of this House, consisting of fourteen members, some of whom have now gone through the shadows, and of whom ten were Liberals and only four Labour members. The members of the Committee were Mr. Thomas Brown, the late Mr. Batchelor, Mr. Cameron, Mr. Fowler,Mr. Groom, Mr. Kelly, the late Sir William Lyne, Mr. Mauger, Mr. McCay, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Allan McLean, Mr. Poynton, Mr. Sydney Smith and Mr. Storrer. Let me quote what this Committee, which,, in 1904, investigated the administration of the Electoral Act, reported concerning part X. of the Act of 1902 ” Voting by Post.” They said -
Your Committee are of opinion that the sections allowing voting by post should be amended. No objection was taken to subsections (ft) and (c) of section 109. Even if the evidence of serious abuse of sub-section (a) testified to by witnesses, does not establish the facts alleged, yet it is clear that the subsection is open to serious abuse. Without concluding that undue influence was used in connexion with the postal vote, the evidence adduced shows that under the present subsection advantage may be taken to destroy the. free and secret exercise of the franchise. The’ application forms may be witnessed in blank, and these forms may be taken in numbers by agents for candidates when canvassing, and pressure brought to bear upon persons whose names are on the roll. The evidence justifies your Committee in finding that many persons who voted by post had not reason to believe they would be more than five miles from their polling place on the day of election, and were on that day within that limit. It would appear that the voting facilities provided have been used contrary to the intention of the Act. The provisions of this section were freely, availed of. At the general election held on the 16th December, 1903, postal votes were recorded to the number of 10,143 out of a total number of 887,312, equivalent to the proportion of 1.14 per cent. While admitting the public advantage of these sections, yet it is apparent that there must be further safeguards to preserve the purity of election, without which the repeal of sub-section (a) becomes necessary.
– Was that agreed to unanimously ?
– Yes. The law was subsequently altered, and I now place side by side section 109 of the Act of 1902 and section 109. of the Act of 1909 which provided for the postal vote, to show the nature of the changes made -
The Act of 1909, however, greatly increased the list of persons who might witness a postal vote. As the evidence has been published in the press, I am at liberty to say that when the electoral officers of the various States were under examination by the existing Electoral Commission, of which I am a member, I asked them if it would make the postal vote absolutely secure were an officer of the Electoral Department deputed in centres of population to call on any one wishing a postal vote. The answer to that invariably was in the affirmative; but, of course, one must recognise that, in the large, wide spaces of Australia, we could not possibly send an official to call where men have sometimes to travel 100 or 200 miles, and in one constituency in Western Australia 500 miles, to record votes. That goes without saying. But I pledge my honour, from the knowledge I have had in Melbourne, that bribery and corruption in regard to the postal vote is almost circumscribed by a close population; in other words, that it is only in a congested population that money can be adequately used for bribery and corruption. In the wider spaces it cannot possibly occur. I shall now quote a most glaring example of bribery and corruption that I proved in the High Court. From the General Post Office, Melbourne, to Victoria-street, along Elizabeth-street, is 3,000 feet; from Elizabeth-street, along Victoria-street, to Spring-street, is about 1,200 yards; from Victoria-street, along Spring-street . to Bourke-street, is about 600 yards; and, from Spring-street, along Bourke-street, to the General Post Office, is about 800 yards. These are the boundaries of the Gipps ward in the electoral division of Melbourne; yet more- postal votes were used in that one-ninth of the division of Melbourne than in the wide expanse of the whole of Western Australia, or in Tasmania. Surely no one will say that there were more sick people in that little bit of congested city than there were in the whole of Western Australia. Surely there was more excuse in Western Australia for getting votes on account of distance from the polling booth. No one could say that there were more women about to, become mothers in that little bit of Melbourne than in the State of , Western Australia, or in the —– of .Tasmania., ft was proved tha,t innocent young women were caused to declare that they were about to become mothers, in taking advantage of the provision which was placed in the first Electoral Act in order to deal with those about to enjoy the heaven-given gift of motherhood; and through the infamy of canvassers going round these young women were made to perjure themselves.
– Can you prove that?
– I can quote from the sworn evidence, and the honorable member can look up the records of the High Court for himself. The general election was in December of 1903, and on the 31st March following, after the Court had rendered the Melbourne election void, a by-election was held. I shall now quote from the evidence I gave before the Select Committee on the 5th July, 1904 -
At the second election, the number of Presiding Officers was reduced from sixty-five to fifty-nine, the poll clerks from sixty-four tofortythree, and the number of tables from fifty- to thirty-seven. In that way a saving in salaries and in furnishing expenses amounting to £54 9s. was effected.
I stated that if the same officials had had control of the second election, SirMalcolm McEacharn would have won- it by the same means as he won the first. In the second election, they were all publ:c officials. My ‘ evidence before the Select Committee proceeded -
Colonel Miller, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Newman, Mr. Kneip, and, indeed, every Federal officer,, was at all times courteous and willing to assist in accord with’ h’is duties.
By Mr. -Mauger. - Do you know him? - I have known him since this incident occurred;
And you deliberately- state that a responsible officer gave this man two sets of ballotpapers? - Yes; instead of giving him one set for the Senate and a ballot-paper for the House of Representatives, he gave him two complete sets.
That was in reference to a sworn declaration in the hands of my solicitor representing me at the High Court. Again, to continue my evidence -
In -connexion with the State election, held on 1st October, 1902, only fifty-one votes were recorded by POSt
That was in the State electorates comprising the Federal division of- Melbourne, and under the manhood, franchise of, Victoria. It is necessary to double thatnumber for the sake of comparison with adult franchise. ‘
Notwithstanding that fact, 647 postal votes were ‘ recorded at the Melbourne election oil. the. 16th December, 1903, while at the electionheld on 30th March, last,, there were .no less than. 8.15 postal votes. i At the December elec?. tion, the “increase of postal votes over the number recorded in connexion with the State elections named was equal to 1,268 per cent; while at the March election the increase was equal to 1,600 per cent.
By Mr. Manger. - The fact that women were unable to vote at the State elections would largely account for the small number of postal votes? - That is why I thought it advisable to give the figures relating to districts representing double the area of the Federal electorate of Melbourne. The figures show that there must be some reason for the concentration of the practice of voting by post in Melbourne. A return which the Department has supplied me with shows that at the last general election 10,124 postal votes were recorded throughout Australia, and of that number more than half, namely, 5,223, were recorded in Victoria.
Will any honorable member justify that little mouthful of territory that is called Victoria having more postal votes than the rest of Australia ? Let me continue my evidence. But, as it is rather lengthy, I shall give the gist of it. In Melbourne, in the March elections, there were applications for 815 postal votes. In the whole of South Australia, with its territory of 903,690 square miles, there were only 598 postal votes.
– If , the votes were honestly given, it does not matter who voted by post.
– In Western Australia, with an area of nearly 1,000,000 square miles, there were only 321 postal votes recorded; and in Tasmania, there were only 240 postal votes. Surely there must be something wrong when one twenty-third of the State of Victoria could record more postal votes than Western Australia and Tasmania put together. It cannot be said that it was the aristocratic portion of the electorate that recorded these votes. Jolimont, with 4,442 votes, had only 1.10 postal votes; whereas the little Gipps Ward, with 3,078 votes, had 368 postal votes; proving that Tasmania did not have as many postal votes as the ninth part of the electoral division of Melbourne. The Prime Minister has said that honorable members of the Opposition always sneer and laugh when any reference is made to giving votes to sick men and women. I throw back that assertion, and ask the Prime Minister to look at the evidence and report of this Select. Committee. Boiled down, the answer is, “ Byall means, give the Vote to thesick and . infirm. Ihad one experience of a travelling booth at a benevolent asylum. There was a scrutineer for each side, and the ballotbox was taken to the bedsides, and the old people could give their votes. That was under the freer franchise of the Federal Government, because the Labour party are strong in Federal politics; but they are not allowed to record their votes under the electoral law of the State of Victoria, because in that State a Liberal Government dominates affairs, and is descending to the vilest means possible by saying that a man who lives in the country should have twice the voting power of the man who lives in the city. The history of the world has been the history of the cities, and though towns and cities which become great are nothing but cancers on the country, nevertheless, they attract the greatest brains, which by friction cause the greatest thoughts to be given expression to. The bucolic intellect is a legend handed down by the ages, and it is no less true to day than when ‘ the elder Greeks acknowledged it. I believe that there is a conspiracy on the part of the Liberal Governments’ of Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia, to give the country two and a half times the voting power of the towns. How can any one who dares’ to call himself a Liberal say that 100,000 in the country should have the same representation as a quarter of a million in the city? How dare any one say, as they are now proposing in South Australia, that the people in the country shall have two and a half times the voting power of the man in the city? Talk about “gerrymandering”! That word is derived from Governor Gerry, of the United States, who arranged that 129,000 voters should return twenty-three senators, and that another 132,000 voters, who were against him, should elect only eighteen senators.
-What refers to a State Parliament. You have been quoting Federal Parliaments.
– Does the honorable member think I am going to stop at the first letter of the alphabet? Apparently his intellect is not quick enough to follow my remarks. The honorable member is so young. I pass by a babyish remark like that. When the honorable member makes a challenge, I. will meet him, and if I cannot carryan audience with me on the referenda . Iwill resign if he has the courage to dothe same.
The answer, from which I was quoting, in the Committee evidence, continues -
I have a note here that Mr. Kidd, theReturning Officer at Alexandra, absolutely refused to accept a postal-vote certificate offered him by a voter who wished to. vote for the Melbourne electorate.
Can you give us the details? - My note is that the Alexandra Returning Officer, Mr. Kidd, “ refused certificate, wrote name, but no square or cross.” ….
Have you any facts to give us in support of that statement? - I have. It would be well if a Crown Prosecutor or officer holding a somewhat similar position were appointed to receive statements as to undue influence, on which action might be taken. Persons have been told that they would be turned out of their houses if they failed to vote.
By the Chairman.-Can you give us any specific instance? - Mr.-
I do not want to give any of these names -
Mr.- was accused of having made this threat. I am prepared to hand in a sworn declaration, although I would rather not mention names.
You complain of acts by individuals not officially connected with the administration of the Act? - The difficulty is to get anything done when you have clear proof.
In one case an alderman of the city of Melbourne went to the gaol, bailed out two unfortunates, and made them vote, and threatened that if they did not vote as he asked, he would not bail them out again. Sworn declarations were in the hands of Mr. Gaunson, and the incidents could have been proved.
-What election was that?
– What is known as the Malcolm McEacharn election.
– You are going back to ancient history.
– I cannot give sworn evidence up to date. The honorable member might just as well ask me to bring the Bible up to date.
If you hand in any document, it will become one of the papers of the Committee? - I shall give the Committee extracts from these declarations, and if they desire to have the declarations handed in, I shall be prepared to put them in as evidence. I have a declaration by a woman, who states that -
I will omit the names, which honorable members may see by referring to the evidence -
I was pressed by- , publican, Little Lonsdale-street, who brought two policemen to witness my application for a vote by post. When the ballot-papers came, I was under the influence of drink. I did not know what I was doing. I wrote in the presence of a policeman. I wanted to vote for Dr. Maloney;coerced me to vote for McEacharn.
Another declaration by a woman was -
I made an application for a postal ballotpaper, and I received a ballot-paper. I signed the application in the presence of a policeman. I took the ballot-paper down to- hotel, in Little Lonsdale-street. I did not write Malcolm McEacharn’s name. I simply signed my name in the presence of a policeman. The ballot-paper was open on the table; there were two other persons in the room,- andThey could see how I voted. One,- , induced me to apply for a ballot-paper (postal). I was not ill, nor likely to be. I did not like to go to the polling booth.
An affidavit by a gentleman who acted as scrutineer sets forth that -
Whilst acting as scrutineer (voluntary) at the table N to R, at Hotham polling place, after the ballot-papers for the House of Representatives were counted and tied up, and the numbers declared and signed for- rafter some considerable time, when counting the Senate ballot-papers - it was discovered that a ballot-paper for the House of Representatives was mixed with the Senate ballot-papers, and such ballot-paper was a vote for Dr. Maloney. This vote was not included in the number handed in as total from such table.
Another gentleman making a declaration says -
During the progress of the tallying of the votes after the ballot-boxes had been opened by the Returning Officer’s deputy, I found about twenty ballot-papers (red ones) on the. floor under the table where I was then standing near. I picked them up, and handed them to the poll clerk, and he accepted same, and they were counted with the others. They had apparently fallen off the table on to the floor. That as soon as I gave them to him, he put them on the form and sat on them, and when the counting took place, he included them in the tally. I had previous to this pointed out to Constable Fallon that the said papers were on the floor, and he saw me hand them to the poll clerk. 1043. By the Chairman. - Were these unused ballot-papers? - No. This took place in my stronghold. I have still another declaration in reference to a postal vote. The lady states -
I am an elector for Gipps Ward in the Melbourne Division, and that a gentleman approached me after I had received a postal ballot-paper, and persuaded me to vote for McEacharn. He was alone. In his presence I voted at his suggestion. He then took away the paper. He returned prior to the election and asked me to say a policeman was present, or some one would get six months. I refused to tell an untruth. He unduly influenced me to vote against my wishes.
This declaration i3 backed up by another declaration by a gentleman, who says -
That on the 12th December, 1003, I was at the Union Hotel, Russell -street, Melbourne, when a canvasser for Sir Malcolm McEacharn, accompanied by Senior-Constable Stapleton, entered the Union Hotel, where they inter-. viewed a barmaid named- , with the result that an application for a postal ballotpaperwas produced by the canvasser.- signed the paper, the senior-constable witnessed it, remarking, at the time, “ You are neither ill, nor unable to go to the polling booth. I will not witness any more papers of this kind.’-‘ On the 14th December, 1903, at the suggestion of the said canvasser, the ballot-paper was opened. He coerced her to vote for Sir Malcolm McEacharn. The canvasser saw the whole of the contents of the papers (throe), and no person witnessed her signature, and the said ballot-papers were taken away by the said canvasser to Sir Malcolm McEacharn’s committee rooms inRussellstreet. That the said- informed me that the said canvasser told her to say, if she was asked who witnessed the ballot-paper, that a constable was present, because if she did not he would . got into trouble. That on the 16th December, J.H03. J acted as scrutineer for Dr. Maloney, and during that day, on several occasions, two persons went into the polling-bos together.
Tluit canvasser, during the hearing of the case before the High Court, had his passage paid to South Africa, to get rid of him. That man is in Australia now, and is perfectly willing to acknowledge what I have said. That is the sort of thing the Government desire to bring in without further safeguards. This is not the Bill that was proposed to be amended last session - 1048. If ii Mr. Groom. - Do the declarations show what was done with the envelope in connexion with the application made l>y a barmaid at the Union Hotel. The Act requires that as soon as n postal vote is recorded it shall be placed in an envelope, and forthwith posted by the officer who receives it? - That provision was violated in the Union Hotel case, and, indeed, was repeatedly broken. The gentleman who was afraid of getting six months has since cleared out to South Africa. In the Union Club Hotel (Collins-street) case the policeman was only brought in when the papers had been sealed, and he was simply asked to witness the counterfoil. I have a statement^ showing that an officer in charge of one of the tables at the polling booth at the December elections told . a woman who wished to vote for me, and also for the four Labour candidates for the Senate, that Senator Best was one of the four Labour candidates.
Then there is a sworn declaration in regard to voting at the Benevolent Asylum. iFFonorable . members will remember that it was the right of the -elector, if he was Mind, illiterate, or uuub/le to vote, to have somebody with him. The custom was for the scrutineers of both sides to accompany the voters under such circumstances, but here is n case where that was not done - 1052. liy Mr. Brown. - Do you say that the Presiding Officer refused to carry out that part of the Act? - At the Benevolent Asylum the Returning Officer absolutely refused to permit this to be done. 1053. By Mr. Groom-. - Can you give us the name of the officer who refused to fulfil this duty? - Mr. O’Connor, a blind, but educated, man in the asylum, asked that he should be permitted to vote in the presence of the scrutineer, but his request was refused.
– The honorable member seems to be introducing a good deal of matter that has itothing to do with voting by post. I understand the honorable member is referring to some phases of a certain election, other than voting by post. The honorable member will only be in order in referring to those matters as far as they relate to voting by post.
– I will endeavour to observe that limitation. Some of the postal votes recorded by inmates of the Benevolent Asylum were obtained under the most unfair conditions. Coercion was brought to bear on old people to injure them to vote in a certain way on the occasion to which I have referred ; but I am glad to say that that sort of thing has . not since occurred. Further questions put to me by the Select Committee, and my answers to them were as follows - 1061. Itij Mr. Groom. - Did you get the names of the 8.15 persons who voted by post? - No, that was the number at the last election. 1062. Have you any idea how many of those persons were actually in Melbourne on polling day. Mr. Miller himself says that he thinks the system has been greatly abused ? - No doubt. At the December election for Melbourne 647 postal votes were recorded, and I should think that out of that number not more than 100 were recorded by voters who were absent. A.p plications made by females were supposed to be on the ground that the applicants were ill, and I understand that paragraph (b) of section 109, which deals with this matter, was intended to relate to midwifery cases. 1063. That is so. You say that the Mareh election was conducted far better than the December election ? - Yes.
Were there . more Federal officers employed at the last election ? - Although the total number of officers employed was -less, there was a larger proportion of Federal officials.
– How many prosecutions resulted from those malpractices?
– I have never been able to . understand why action was not taken by the Committee. If the honorable member desires an answer to his question, I would refer him to the Liberals who were members of the Select Committee. It is a surprise to me that the Government have not seen fit before now to remove what is undoubtedly a very serious cause of difficulty in centres of population. Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, from the General Post Office to Victoriastreet, measures 1,000 yards, and within that area there are no less than seven different subdivisions of the division of Melbourne. It is therefore very difficult for the officers to follow the recording of absent votes in such an electorate. In the Latrobe subdivision, for instance, at the last election no fewer than 3,321 absent votes were polled. If the postalvote system is restored without any limitation, then every elector on each side of the street will be able to make use of it, and the polling booths will be overburdened.
– But they would not vote by post at the polling booths?
– Not if the postal votes were collected prior to the day of election. When the Bill goes into Committee I hope honorable members will seriously consider the desirableness of providing that in centres of population, at all events, the postal votes shall be collected by electoral officers. I do not accuse any honorable member opposite of desiring to take unfair advantage of the postal-vote system, or of stooping to bribery and corruption ; but I claim that they should join with us in making it as pure as possible, and purity in connexion with it can be secured only by providing for the collection of postal votes by officers of the Department. Two-thirds of the postal votes recorded at the last election at which the system was in force could have been collected in that way.
– How would the honorable member collect them in the country districts ?
– I recognise that bribery and corruption in connexion with the system are far more difficult in rural than in city electorates. It is in closely congested centres of population that the power of the purse can be brought to bear. There is in this city to-day a man who, if guaranteed protection is willing to prove that he knew how ninety-five Out of every 100 persons voting in the Gipps division for my opponent recorded their votes. In the Bill which was before us last session the following amendment was introduced by the Senate, but Was rejected by thisHouse -
An elector who, owing to serious illness or infirmity, has reason to believe that he will not be able to record his vote at any polling place during the hours of polling on the day of election may at any time after the issue of the writ and up to within seven days preceding the day of election make application to the Returning Officer of the Division in which he is enrolled that he be allowed to record his vote.
The Returning Officer on a day previous to the election, and after the time for receiving applications has expired, shall appoint an Assistant Returning Officer, who shall prior to or on the day of election call at the address of the person who claims a vote.
The Assistant Returning Officer, I presume, would be an officer of the Department. The expense of carrying out that provision would not be as large as is involved in the appointment of permanent Divisional Returning Officers, although I think that the action of the Government in making those permanent appointments is fully justified. Before concluding, I wish to make a quotation from the evidence given by Colonel Miller before the Select Committee of 1904 -
The facilities afforded by section X. of the Act, to be of public utility and value, must be elastic, but, at the same time, they should be so safeguarded as to render their abuse at once difficult and involving a serious penalty.
The provision was intended to enable electors who would bond fide be prevented, to the best of their belief, from personally recording their vote, to exercise their right of franchise; but the result of the practical experience gained shows that there are several means by which it is possible to apply these facilities in a manner which was not contemplated - for instance : -
The “Application Forms” may be witnessed in blank, and these forms may be taken in numbers by agents for candidates when canvassing for votes, and pressure brought to bear upon persons whose names are on the roll.
There is an increased risk of impersonation.
As a personal signature of the application is not imperative, the door is open to any person to sign for or on behalf of the applicant.
That these facilities are wrongly made use of by persons who have no reason, bona fide, to believe they will be absent more than five miles from the polling place for which they are enrolled, or who are not bond fide ill, or otherwise prevented from recording their votes in person, especially bearing in mind the very liberal regulations made under section139 of the Act.
Honorable members opposite may say that, notwithstanding that the voting by post system was abolished in Queensland, every member of the State Parliament, from the Premier downwards, pointing the finger of scorn at it, it has again been introduced. I would point out, however, that the regulations are far more stringent than were those under the original Act. The State Government, for instance, have done away with the practice of allowing justices of the peace to witness postal votes. Why have they done so? Because the conduct of many of these men was so infamous that the smell of it rose high into the heavens. I have been informed that justices of the peace were appointed, not in tens or fifteens, but in hundreds, and that every one of them could earn from £2 10s. to £3 10s. per week in collecting postal votes.
– More than that.
– Perhaps some of them did earn more. I trust that the Government, if the postal vote system is restored, will introduce additional safeguards. I have never prevented, or tried to prevent, any man or woman exercising the franchise. Our party, from the first, tried to broaden the franchise, and in this State it was only after repeated attacks by Labour men that Liberal Governments were induced to give the workers fair play in this respect. No member of our party would wilfully prevent any elector from voting, but we can never forget the infamies that obtained under the postal voting system which was previously in force in the Commonwealth. The system, as it formerly existed here, was an absolute curse. We can, if we choose, so frame this Bill with sufficient safeguards to prevent bribery and corruption, as to make it an honour to the country; and I do not believe there is a single man here who does not desire to make it as perfect as possible. Why not join hands in the work?
– I think the principle of the Bill was introduced by Mr. Kingston, with whom I remember collaborating on a State Bill in South Australia in 1896; and he was not likely to do any injustice.
– Charles Cameron Kingston was one of the few statesmen Australia has produced, and his name is revered as a type of Liberal legislator which, I am sorry to say, is not too often met with in our State Parliaments. In the South Australian Act only postmasters and postmistresses, and, in the case of a woman about to become a mother, a doctor can act as witnesses in connexion with a vote, which almost corresponds to a postal vote; and if we had a similar provision many of my objections would be removed. I do not know of any system of postal voting under the British flag outside of Australia.
– I believe the principle applies in many bodies associated or federated for trading purposes.
– Let us stick to States and countries, and not deal with associated trading bodies. In all my reading I have not learned that the principle of postal voting applies in the United States of America, Prance, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, or Belgium. Of course that is no argument, if the principle is innately good; and my desire is to see Australia lead the van. I have never taken part in any election that has given less trouble than the last Federal election, and I believe it was one of the purest ever held in the world, just as I believe that our roll is the most perfect. I remember once at an election in County Sligo, Ireland, I, a perfect stranger, was asked to carry a bundle of ballot-papers from one booth to another, where there was a shortage. I did not understand then that candidates in the Old Country had to pay the whole of the expenses of the election, including those of the officers and polling booths. Every Parliamentary seat in England costs from £1,100 to £5,000 to contest, whereas, under the Commonwealth Act, it is not possible for me to spend more than £100, and I have merely to get a few electors to sign the nomination paper and deposit £25, which is returnable under certain conditions. If the Ministry, . even at this late hour, will accept the amendment I have suggested, I am sure that honorable members on this side would be perfectly willing to support it. It is an amendment that has been indorsed by the Senate with practical unanimity; indeed, I do not believe that there was a division called for. After all, the Senate has as much right as we have to claim that it represents the people; and if their view be that as then enunciated, how can any one suggest that that Chamber is against the aged and the sick having a vote ? We cannot stop burglary, but, when he is caught, we can make it very awkward for the burglar; and so we can place proper safeguards in the Bill. The cost would be very small, for I believe that four active men could do all the necessary work in Melbourne and suburbs, while one mau would be sufficient for such places as Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, and Castlemaine. I arn reminded that, now we have permanent Divisional Returning Officers, they might very easily undertake the work ; and I can say that a good many officers in the Department have agreed that the procedure would be a sale one. If the Government cannot accept my suggestion, why should they .not give the people a chance of exercising the referendum and the initiative? I am sure that then the electors would not tolerate the present method of conducting public business, but would say, “ A plague on both your parties; get to work.” Let the Government bring in some measure for the benefit of a single part of Australia - to uplift humanity or make the conditions better for Australians - or let them introduce a Bill insuring that land will be easily available for settlement, and I am confident it would very quickly pass. We should not then be asked to worry about two trumpery little Bills such as those the Government have put before us; but, in any case, the great newspaper which sways Victoria has covered the proposals with such contumely and contempt that I do not think the Governor-General would dare to give a double dissolution upon them.
– I do not know how to describe the Bill before us ; but however I may do so, it clearly has been introduced for the purpose of creating a feather-pillow crisis. Have either party any constitutional power to use the Parliament of the nation to create a crisis simply for the purpose of transforming the Governor-General into a pernicious partisan?
– It is wicked and cruel !
– It is a crime against modern civilization and Christian progress. When did this partisan business start? I have heard it said that party politics is one of the grand products of old English intelligence. But party politics is not a product of England; it is the result of a suggestion by a Scotchman to a Dutchman. King William, of glorious, pious, and immortal memory, according to Sir Edward Carson and all Orangemen, wished to undertake a European war. Prior to that time the Ministries of the country had been made up of Whigs and Tories - of the intelligent and progressive men from both sides of Par liament - and there was no party government as we understand it. King Willian spoke to the Scotchman about raising the money for the war, and the Scotchman said, “ The only hope you have is to appoint Ministers all from one side - appoint all Whigs and they will vote any way you desire, and break their necks to stay on the Treasury bench.” The Scotchman was a true prophet, and the money was furnished for scandalous wars. When the Duke of Marlborough returned to England, he wished to revert to the old scheme of selecting intelligent business members of Parliament as Ministers; but when he, too, desired to carry on a war against France, he had to follow King William’s advice; and we have had party government ever since. In this House half the members are trying to keep in office, and the other half are trying to get them out ; and the whole position reminds me of an experience of mine in Western America. A friend and myself were crossing the prairies of Western Kansas when a buffalo charged us. I very quickly shinned up a tree while my friend took refuge inside a cave. My friend, however, kept running in and out of the cave, and every time he appeared the buffalo had another go at him. At last I said, “ For goodness sake stop inside; why don’t you stick in the cave?” And he replied, “ That’s all very fine old man, but there’s a bear and a rattlesnake inside.” That is the trouble of this Government. There is a bear and a rattlesnake in the hole, and every time that the Prime Minister goes in they drive him out, while the Attorney-General is “ up a tree.”
– They will all be “up a tree “ when the election comes. .
– I am opposed to these elections. We came in here for three years. I am a public trustee, and I want my pay. If you put me out, I do not mind, so long as you pay me. I was Minister of State for Home Affairs, not an animated rubber stamp.
– You were Minister for two years and niue months.
– Yes, and I was a rabbet stamp for three months. You have to listen to. them at first. During that time I had the administration of the Electoral. Department, and looked into the postal vote very carefully. I have no hesitation in. saying to-night that if you will raise £50,000, and give me the postal vote, with an office in Melbourne, I will elect any party that you may want. I will have half-a-million votes ready for you in the bag on election day.
– You can do pretty well with the absent vote.
– Absent voting is above board. The voter must go in front of an Electoral Officer. He has to sign a document before the Presiding Officer, and while he is signing that officer is taking notice of him. Then he deposits a ballot-paper in the box, and when it reaches the place for which he says he is enrolled, it is not counted should his statement be untrue. But the moment that a man, or his agent, or his “ tout,” makes an application for a postal vote, it is a closed and sealed book for ever. This is a Bill that was deliberately and definitely designed, framed, and proclaimed to the world for the specific purpose of creating a crisis, and bringing on a double dissolution. That has been proclaimed from the hill-tops.
– It was stated on the hustings.
– I am talking about the restoration of the postal vote.
– Order !
– I wish, Mr. Speaker, that you would let this be my funeral.
– It will be.
– It has not come about yet. They have been beating me every three years for the last thirteen years. “ It is a certainty this time,” they say. Send your money over, friend, and you will go down. Six thousand came in at the last election, but I “walloped” them.
– The honorable member must address himself to the question before the Chair.
– I ask you Mr. Speaker, where it is stated in the Constitution that any Government may introduce a Bill to utilize the GovernorGeneral as a partisan?
– The honorable member must not introduce the name of the Governor-General, and especially in such a way as he lias done.
– I will leave his name out, and say a man who ought to stand apart from party politics. Is not this making a partisan institution of what ought to be impartial? Is not the Bill designed for the purpose of creating a crisis? We are to have the nation penalized. On what? On these two little flimsies - the Siamese twins of the political desperation of a crisis-mongering Government. , This Bill, if it becomes law, will absolutely destroy the secrecy of the ballot-box, and will enable every defeated candidate to send a howl of slander from one part of Australia to another. It will fill Australia with charges of fraud and personation, as Ministers did after the last election. I am sorry that I did not bring with me some of the American newspapers giving an account of our last election. They said, “ Talk about Tammany Hall ! According to one Australian Minister, that institution is only an infant in its swaddling clothes compared with what they have in Australia.” If we had had postal voting, there would have been riots after the last election. Yon. would have had to call out the military to save the country. I claim that this is a Bill for granting preference to wealthy candidates. This is to be an absolute preference. Why ? Because it enables wealthy candidates, by the lavish expenditure of money, to engage clever agents, who will always have sufficient postal votes in the bag - to use the language of the classics - to win a closely-balanced party constituency. Is not that turning an election into a sham and a fraud ? Postal voting is the illegitimate child_ of chicanery, deception, and political immorality. It increases the people’s troubles without in any way making their burdens easier to bear. It will blight an honest election as lightning blights a tree. Postal voting takes from political honesty ambition and hope, and it robs truth of serenity and peace of mind, lt is the legalised pickpocket of national character, and it sneaks into the ballot-box only to corrupt and debauch it. Postal voting weakens administration, it enfeebles administrative justice, it dethrones equality of opportunity. It enters and it stains the cloisters of progressive -spirituality. It transforms the sick chamber into a howling bedlam of touting political agitation. Wherever it has gone, wherever it has been utilized, in Australia or in any other part of the world, it has produced demoralization and left only remorse. I” could have prosecuted hundreds of people if I had not had a bit of sympathy in my nature.
Day after day, motor cars were coming up, and a young man would say, “ He did not do it,” or I would be told “ She never attempted it,” until at last I said, “ I am not going to send these persons to gaol, or have them fined.” I had to fine half-a-dozen justices of the peace, and I was sorry to have to do that. Postal voting dulls the edge of honest political endeavour. It pollutes the stream that mingles with the currents of national political life, poisoning everything it touches. I have watched it carefully. If Australia wants to be a Tammany Hall, put postal voting in this Bill for partisanship. I remember at Five Points in New York at one election that, although there were only 7,000 or 8,000 names on the roll, 14,000 votes were polled. Postal voting will turn the abode of the feeble, the weak, the sick, and those suffering from senile decay into a dark cave of refuge for the unscrupulous organizer. All these things combined will contribute towards assisting materially in bringing us to the point where the postal vote becomes a stealthy, foul blackener of the characters of the people of Australia. I hate the postal vote, because I know from my experience that it can do great evil to Australia. I hate it with every fibre of my being and with every passion of my soul. Ministers can put it on the statute-book. In a Sunday-school under the shadow of the white mountains of Vermont, I was taught that whilst sitting beside the bed of the dying I should never remind them of their crimes, and I shall not remind the Government of their crimes; but I feel as a man feels when standing at the grave of one of his friends. Ministers brought in this Bill to bury us. With God’s help we shall bury them, with their flowers.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom (for Sir John Forrest), and read a first time.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation be made for the purposes of this Bill.
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation iff revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Manufactures Encouragement Act 1.908-1912.
.- Even on the introduction of this measure the Minister should give us some information as to what money it is proposed to spend and as to what is intended to be done with the money.
– The Act provided that £150,000 should be paid in bonuses from 1908 to 1914. The period covered by that measure will expire at the end of this month; but there is an unexpended balance of £10,473, and the object of this Bill is to enable that unexpended balance to be appropriated, otherwise it will lapse.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. W. H. Irvine, Mr. Glynn, and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom, and read a first time.
Commonwealth Bank - Colonial Meat Export Company. Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Trade and Customs) [9.53]. - The Treasurer, in reply to a question put by the honorable member for Calare, has received the following communication from the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank : -
Referring to the question asked by Mr. Pigott in the House of Representatives on the 8th instant, and my reply of the 16th and your further inquiry of the 21st idem, I have the honour to advise that the hours of business of the Savings Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia at Branches of the Bank, are as follow: - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, and at the Post Offices where agencies are conducted, the hours of business are from - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday (these hours are fixed to agree with the money order hours of business and meet the wishes of the Postmaster-General’s Department).
In some places, to meet the convenience of large numbers of the public, the agencies receive deposits at fixed hours, from, say, 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and 2 to 4 on Saturdays. No business is done on Sundays or Public Holidays.
The hours of business of the State Savings Banks at their Branches are, I understand - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, and for the convenience of the public,on certain evenings of the week; while at their agencies, I learn from my Inspectors’ reports in different States, business is conductedat all hours of the day and night, Sundays and Public Holidays included,
I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation in connexion with a statement I made when moving the adjournment of the House in order to deal with the operations of the Beef Trust. I said that the Beef Trust was connected with the Colonial Meat Export Company in Sydney. I find that I made a mistake in making that charge against the Colonial Meat Export Company of Sydney. They are in no way connected with the Beef Trust. I should have referred to the Sydney Meat Export Company, who, I have every reason to believe, are connected with the Beef Trust.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjournedat 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140603_reps_5_74/>.