7th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– A dayor two ago, the honorable member forBrisbane asked, on behalf of the honorable member for Macquarie, if inquiries could be made into complaints by lads employed in the Bathurst RailwayWorkshops in reference to the conditions under which they have to drill. The reply with which I have been furnished is as follows : -
The Commandant, 2nd Military District, reported that a complaint was received from one trainee employed at the Bathurst Railway Workshops. This trainee stated that insufficient time was allowed to permit him to appear on parade at the proper time.The case has been investigated, and the Commandant states that he will consult with the Railway Commissioners in the matter.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories lay on the table the report of Mr.O. E. Oliver on the water supply and sewerage scheme for Canberra ?
– The report is a long one, and would cost a lot to print. As the estimates of expenditure in connexion, with the Capital have been largely cut down, I have thought it best not to lay the report on the table, but I shall be glad to let honorable members see it.
– As butter is a whole- some and nourishing food, will the Assistant Minister for Defence arrange for that article of diet being supplied to the men in camp?
– The honorable’ member for Nepean has asked a similar question. He wishes to know whether the New Zealand scale of rations cannot be adoptedIt is true that New Zealanders get butter and condensed milk, but the Australian soldier is on the wholebetter off than the New Zealand soldier. . Both prior to embarkation are paid 5s. a day, but after embarkation the Australian soldier gets 6s. a day, of which1s. is deferred pay, and the New Zealand soldier gets only 5s. per day, of which 3s. are deferred pay. At the present time the Australian dietary is on a liberal scale, and more than is absolutely necessary for the requirements of the men. In certain camps soldiers are obtaining condensed milk as an “ in lieu “ ration.
– Why do they not get it in all the camps?
-It is open tothem to do so, but were the Government to give as an extra. the New Zealand ration of 2 oz. of butter and an eighth of a tin of condensed milk per man, the cost for 30,000 men would be £375 a day, and if 4 oz. of’ butter were given, £625 a day. Our dietary scale is a liberal one, and as “ in lieu “ rations can be given, it is not considered advisable to alter it
– Will the Prime Minister say what is to be the order of business to-day?
– The first business will be the delivery of the Budget statement by the Treasurer. Afterwards the Assistant Minister for Defence will move the second reading of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill, and the Minister for Home and Territories will move the second reading of the Naturalization Bill.
Finally, the Public Service Bill will be dealt with. The War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill will not he proceeded with until to-morrow.
Cost op Living.
– Is it a fact that the steamer Houtmann has left the port of Melbourne for foreign parts half empty because the wharf labourers refused to load her?
– I do not know whether the steamer has left yet, but I have been informed that the wharf labourers* decline to load her, or, I under - stand, to coal her. In this port the wharf labourers and the stevedores belong to two distinct unions, both of which belong to the same federation. - The stevedores assist in loading on, the ship itself, while the wharf labourers are employed on the wharf. It is the latter who have declined to load tibia vessel. The stevedores are ready to work. I have received a quasi-official report of the circumstances, and I am getting a full report, which I shall maker available to- . morrow. I shall then state the policy of the Government in regard to the matter.
– Is it not alleged that the reason the wharf labourers are taking the action the Prime Minister has referred to, is the high prices charged for food? I desire also to- know whether the Government have considered the question of the high cost of living, and what is their policy in regard thereto?
– It ‘is true that the reason put forward as a pretext by the wharf labourers for their refusal to handle cargo is that the exporta- ^ tion of this wheat or flour might have some effect on the price of bread. Some representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation waited upon me as a deputation yesterday, and’ I then put forward certain facts which they made’ no attempt to refute. Those facte were very clear, and a complete answer to any of the statements made by the wharf labourers, who are, I am perfectly sure, the dupes of designing and cunning men in our midst- -
– Why not say that it is German gold?
– I am not alluding to the honorable member. The facts show conclusively that ‘bread is sold in Australia at a lower .rate than in any one of the belligerent countries - that bread is little, if any, higher in price than it waa in pre-war days - and that there ‘is no room for rigging the market in regard to wheat and flour, because this is all, or practically all, vested in the Government of the country. The industry is under the control of the Government, and the whole of the receipts therefrom go through the channel of the Government direct into the pockets of the producers. . As to the second part of the question, the policy of the Government in regard to the cost of living is precisely the same as that of the Government of which the honorable member for Capricornia was a member. The cost of bread is exactly the same now as it was then.
– On Friday, the 3rd instant, Mr. Finlayson, for Mr. Nicholls, asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
For what reason waa the. offer of Mr. Niel Featherstone for the free use of his dysentery remedies refused by the Defence Department?
The reply then given was -
Inquiries are being made, and the honorable member will be informed as soon as possible. .
I am now able ‘to inform the honorable member-^
The position is that Mr. Featherstone has been asked to furnish the nature and particulars of his specific to enable an opinion to be arrived at. it is not the practice of the Department,.
I may add,, to experiment on soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Does the Prime Minister recognise the great inconvenience existing in the present duplication of election rolls and land and income tax returns for the Commonwealth and State? Is it the intention of the Government to introduce legislation this session for the purpose of providing - (a) uniform electoral rolls; (5) uniform returns for income tax; (c) ‘ uniform returns for land tax!
– The Government does recognise the great inconvenience caused by the present duplication of electoral rolls and land and income tax returns. The Government, through its representatives, at the .last Premiers’ Conference arranged for the preparation of one roll for State and Commonwealth, and one return for Commonwealth and State income taxes. This alteration is being pushed forward as rapidly as possible, and the delay is not to be attributed either to this or the State Governments. It is purely a question of machinery; and the various Taxation Departments, Commonwealth and State, have the matter in hand.
– In view of the published deaths in India of 6,000,000 of people from plague, will the Government, bearing in mind the myriads of mice infesting the various States, instruct all their surgical and medical Departments to collaborate with the State medical Departments to take adequate precautions against the introduction of plague rodents from the East?
– In view of the Treasurer’s invitation to honorable members to give due notice of any amendments they desire to move in the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill, I desire to know whether, the right honorable gentleman himself will give us due notice of any amendments he proposes ?
– Yes, I shall be very glad to do so.
Transfers : Tuberculosis in Camps : Land for Returned Soldiers.
– What is the reason that soldiers in camp are allowed to transfer to the artillery, seeing that .infantry are required at the Front, and that the departure of artillery from Australia seems a very remote contingency ?
– I am not aware of any reason; but I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable member.
– Seeing that the health of the people of the Commonwealth is of paramount importance, will the Prime Minister immediately communicate with the Premiers of the various States in order to ascertain’ what action, if any, the State Governments are taking with a view to the reduction of tuberculosis in camp 1 >
– I shall,, of course, take whatever action is necessary to deal with this matter, . but I” cannot help observing that, as we have already had a reference to the plague, and I now am asked about tuberculosis, it is evident we shall have to amend the Litany and pray, “ From plague, tuberculosis, and the Opposition, good Lord, deliver us!”
– Is the Prime Minister aware of any reason for the refusal of the Queensland Government to join in the scheme for making financial provision for the settlement of returned soldiers on the land, as agreed, by the Commonwealth Government at the Premiers’ Conference held in January last.
– Yes, I am aware of the reason. The reason put forward by Mr. Hunter, acting on behalf of the Queensland Government, was that the proposal involved an undue interference with the rights of the States, and that, therefore, he was unable to recommend its adoption by his Government. I do not agree with that view, but that was the reason given.
– With reference to the statement made last Thursday week by the honorable member for Brisbane that it had “been announced in the press that a Select Committee had been appointed to inquire into the medical inspection of recruits for the’ Army, I now desire to intimate that a cablegram has been despatched to the Imperial Government, requesting that copies of the report be forwarded to Australia.
– In view of the extension of apiculture, will the Prime Minister endeavour to make available for the export’ of honey portion of the limited shipping space available, and also seek to popularize the use of honey in camps in Australia, as is done in America and elsewhere ?
– I assume that the honorable member refers to a statement made yesterday by a deputation which. waited upon me. I shall endeavour to do what) he has suggested.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral considered the desirability of sending Australian letters by way of San Francisco, and thence under tha American .flag to England?
– The Department is making use of every available avenue in order to continue as well as practicable the mail service between Australia arid Europe.
Price Fixing - Queensland- Meat Embargo
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House when the Government propose to attempt to reduce the high cost of living?
– The fact has probably escaped the honorable member’s attention that the Government have been directing their attention to that matter for a considerable time. Probably the honorable member is not aware that maximum prices are fixed for a number of commodities, amongst them being the staple products upon which the people live. Prices are fixed for flour, wheat and its by-products, sugar, butter, and rabbits. Of course, all these things are beneath the honorable gentleman’s notice.
– Does the Government propose to regulate the price of meat, the increase in which exceeds that of any of the other commodities he has mentioned ?
– The honorable gentleman will remember what he did in regard to this matter during the time he was in office. I am sure that you, sir, would, be only too glad to afford the House an opportunity of hearing from the honorable member what he did, so that we might go and do likewise. The honorable member knows perfectly well .what has been the position in regard to meat, and he is as well acquainted as any man with the many difficulties in connexion with the regulation of its price. It is practically impossible to regulate the price of meat unless we regulate the price of cattle on the hoof. I know of no way - and in this regard I sit at the feet of the honorable member - of compelling a man to raise stock except at such prices as will pay him, nor do I know of any means by which human nature can be so changed as to immolate itself and sell in any market other than the best. The workers will not do so, and honorable members of the Opposition would be the first to blame them if they did. I would, at any rate. The man who grows meat is no less a producer than the man who works on the wharf. What we have to do, if possible, is to hold the scales evenly between all sections of society. I invite honorable members sitting in Opposition, and also those people outside who are seeking to mislead the unfortunate men who are compelled to work on the wharfs for their living, to pull this chestnut out of the fire, to explain : how the price “ of living - meaning thereby the prices of wheat, flour, sugar, butter, rabbits, and so forth - can be reduced below its present level, except by the exploitation of the man who produces those commodities, and who works, at least, as hard as any other person in the community.
– Have the Government taken any steps to have the embargo placed by a Labour Government on the export of beef and mutton from Queensland removed t
– The embargo which was formerly in existence has .been removed, arid I do not think that any honorable member opposite would defend the imposition of iti.
– Will the Prime Minister have investigations made into the accuracy of statements that have . been made that stock and station agents in Melbourne and elsewhere are limiting the supplies of stock to the market every week in order to keep up the price of meat?
– I shall be pleased to make inquiries into the operation of any rings or arrangements that have a tendency to exploit the public, or to create an artificial scarcity. Every honorable member, no matter on what side of the House he sits, is elected to see that all sorts “and conditions of men get a fair deal. I am perfectly persuaded that honorable members opposite will not say that the man who grows meat has not the right to get a fair, return for his labour. On the other hand, no honorable member on this side will say - certainly, I do not say - that any one has the right to create an artificial scarcitiy, and fill his pockets at the expense of both the consumer and the producer. I shall make inquiries in order to expose such conduct, and if it is found that certain persons are acting as stated, I shall take steps to see that they are punished.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Queensland Government are preventing fat cattle from passing to other parts of Australia owing to the fact that beef cattle are affected by the tick pest, which is an imaginary complaint?
– I have a great reverence for “ tick,” as have most men who have known adversity, butI am not aware to what extent the Government of Queensland are using the tick dangeras a means of preventing the movement of cattle southwards. I am sure that the honorable member for Calare would not sugfest that the precautions which are necessary to prevent the spread of such a very serious disease should not be taken. On the other hand, I quite agree with him that it should not be made a pretext for other action. However, I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– Does not the Prime Minister know that most of the fat cattle and sheep are sold in the paddocks in country districts, and not in. saleyards, as alleged by the honorable member for Maribyrnong? Therefore, the stock and station agents have nothing whatever to do with the increase in prices.
– Order ! The honorable member must not debate the matter.
– I confess that I know nothing of the manner in which sheep and cattle are sold. I know that in New South Wales they are sold in the yards at Homebush, and I suppose the same conditions prevail in Victoria. I presume that stock are sent down to saleyards in order to suit the interests of the seller.I can hardly conceive that stock and station agents as such, unless they are the owners of the sheep or cattle, can withhold them from the market.
– I desire to ask a question in reference to a case that has just been brought under my notice, viz. : - The wife of ex-Sergeant Wood, with 722 days’ service with the Australian Imperial Force, died on the29th April, leaving two children, but no money reached those children from the Pay Office until yesterday, whena sum of £915s. was paid. My question is whether the officer in the Department who was guilty of leaving these orphans without means of support will be punished, and whether steps will be taken to prevent such a thing occurring again?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter immediately.
– I ask the Honorary Minister whether the Departmental Commission appointed to inquire into the workings of the Pay Office at Victoria Barracks has finished its deliberations, and when its report will be made’ available to honorable members ?
– If the honorable member will repeat his question to-morrow, I shall have inquiries made in the meantime.
– Is the Honorary Minister aware that there is a youth sixteen years of age undergoing twenty-one days’ confinement in the Bendigo camp ? He enlisted when he was fifteen years of age, and any one should have seen that he was not eighteen years old. Will the Honorary Minister have inquiries made with a view to releasing this ‘ ‘ criminal’ ‘ ?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter, and if the honorable member will repeat his question tomorrow, I will endeavour to furnish him with an answer.
Plant and Output
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Commonwealth Government and Messrs. Pratt and Whitney, New South Wales, for the supply of necessary plant for the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, provide that the plant should turn out a rifle interchangeable in all its parts with the rifle then approved and in use by the British Government?
– : - ‘ - . -
presented, and what year is covered by the statement last presented?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Sentences: Death Penalty
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister state -
The number of members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been sentenced to periods of detention of twenty-eight days or more - (a) before embarkation, (b) after embarkation ?
The number of members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been sentenced to the death penalty?
The number of cases where the death penalty has been carried into effect?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Internmentof Enemy Subjects
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The following papers were presented : -
Apples - Return showing exports from each State of the Commonwealth during 1912, 1913, first six months of 1914, 1914-15, 1915-16, 1916-17.
Ordered to be printed.
Customs Act -
Proclamation prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Glue Pieces (dated18th July, 1917).
Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 158.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 159.
Public Service Act - Promotion of T. S. Hulme, Department of the Treasury.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ending 30th June, 1918, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
– I move -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1, the Parliament, namely, “ The President, £1,100.” be agreed to.
Since the outbreak of war, it has become the practice to present the Estimates to Parliament very late in the financial year. Many disadvantages result from such delay, and successful effort has been made to lay the Estimates for 1917-18 before Parliament at this early date after the close of the financial year.
Balance-sheet. A balance-sheet of the transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Commonwealth in the current and preceding financial years is submitted in the following condensed form : -
The balance of £2,102,177 brought forward to the year 1917-18 is what remains of the surplus of 1915-16. In 1916-17 the revenue amounted to £34,035,173, and the expenditure was £34,932,996, resulting in a deficit of £897,823 on the transactions of the year.
To get a complete view of the Commonwealth finances, it is necessary not only to look at the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which has just been referred to, but also at the expenditure out of Loan Funds.
The policy of paying for permanent works out of Loan Funds, which has been hitherto followed to some extent by the Commonwealth, and is followed by ail the
States, was not adhered to in the financial year 1916-17. In the present financial year, however, it is proposed to pay out of loan for works, which are detailed in the Estimates, and which are estimated to cost £2,742,725.
The total Receipts and Expenditure of the Commonwealth from revenue and Loan Funds may be summarized as follows : -
The foregoing does not include loan moneys raised for State works and handed over to States.
Custom’s and Excise Revenue. The Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth reached its highest in 1915- 16, when the receipts amounted to £16,934,103. During 1916-17 the revenuebegan to fall, and, in that year, amounted to £15,606,441. In the present financial year it is estimated that only £13,630,000 will be received, even without allowing for any reduction of revenue resulting from the policy of the Government in relation to the prohibition of luxuries. An announcement as to this policy will be made this week.
The decrease of the estimated Customs and Excise Revenue 1917-1918, as compared with the previous year, is £1,976,441. The reduction below the amount received in 1915-1916 is £3,304,103.
Direct Taxation. Until the year 1910- 1911, the Commonwealth had no direct taxation. The total direct taxation of the Commonwealth now amounts to: -
The present systems of collecting Commonwealth and State direct taxation are both irritating and expensive. The Government intends to do its utmost to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs.
A Conference of Commonwealth and State Taxation officers was held in Melbourne in March last. Its report will shortlybe made available to members.
The Commonwealth Government proposes to introduce to the House an amending Income Tax Assessment Bill based upon the draft Bill prepared by the Conference. It is hoped and believed that the co-operation of the States will be secured, and that in future taxpayers will be relieved.
It isthe intention of the Government to urge the State Governments to adopt the Federal Income Tax Act as their own, and to authorize the Commonwealth Taxation Department to collect the State taxes at rates fixed by the State Governments.
The Conference of officers adopted uniform definitions for “improved value,” “ value of improvements,” and “ unimproved value,” the definitions agreed upon being those which appear in the Federal Land Tax Assessment Act. Approval by the various Legislatures will enable Federal and State land tax to be levied on common values”, settled by one authority.
Transfer of Part of Unexpended London . Balances. For some years it has been the practice of the Treasury, when goods are ordered in Great Britain, to set aside money in order to pay for the goods when delivered. The money was transferred from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the credit of a Trust Account known as the “ London Liabilities Account,” The result is that money is carried forward from year to year, because in some cases many months - and even years - elapse between the time when the money is set aside and the time of payment for the goods.
The usual practice is to meet expenditure out of current revenue, and this is followed by the Commonwealth in relation to expenditure within Australia. . Under existing circumstances there is neither reason nor necessity for storing up money to meet payments in London long before it is required.
The balance of moneys lying in the “London Liabilities Account” on 31st March, 1917, was £4,591,776, and of this £2,925,291 belonged to the Consolidated Revenue. The proposed transfer to the Consolidated Revenue Fund is £825,355.
Expenditure out of Revenue, not Including War. The total expenditure out of Revenue, not including war, is estimated at £24,174,481 in 1917-1918, including £1,257,617 for new works. The actual expenditure last year was £26,526,026, including £4,301,530 for new works.
A more useful comparison may be made by omitting payments to” the States, new works, and (for last year) the repayment to the Australian Notes Fund. There will remain what may be called the expenditure on ordinary services, and the position is -
Every member of the Ministry is fully alive, not only to the necessity of keeping within the Departmental Estimates, but also to the obligation not to incur any expenditure that can without injury be avoided.
It is not intended to deal in detail with the expenditure at this stage. That will be done by the Minister when the Estimates of each Department are being dealt with in Committee. It may, however, be said that while as much economy as is reasonable has been exercised, it has not’ been considered advisable to sacrifice efficiency or to act inconsiderately towards the employees of the Government.
War Expenditure out of Revenue. The expenditure out of revenue upon the war has been ‘: -
The estimated war expenditure from revenue for 1917-18 may be compared with the expenditure last year in the following way : -
An increase of £4,702,381.
In 1916-17, the’( annual payment into Sinking Fund was at the rate of 1 per cent., but it has been decided, for the year 1917-18, to adhere to £ per cent., which is the rate mentioned in the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act. The whole question of the Sinking Fund requires to be placed on an improved foundation.
War Expenditure out of Loan and Revenue. The war expenditure out of loan has been : -
Included in the estimate of expenditure out of loan in 1917-18 is an amount of £26,000,000, which is due to the British Government. Most of the expenditure on the Australian Imperial Force is made direct by the Australian Government, but in addition very heavy expenditure is made by the British Government, principally for the maintenance of the troops at the Front, and the supply to them of munitions. The estimated expenditure by the British Government in respect of the Australian Imperial Force, from the commencement up to 30th June, 1917, was £28,500,000, and up to 30th June, 1918, it is estimated that a further amount of £29,750,000 will be required. The Commonwealth had repaid £5,000,000 up to 30th June, 1917, and since that date is paying £3,500,000 more, at the rate of £500,000 a week. The British Government has been generous in this matter, and has not even suggested that payment should be made ; but, of’ course, it is in-‘ tended that, as soon as possible, the indebtedness shall be reduced.
The payment to the British Government is dependent upon several contingencies, chiefly relating to the overseas sale of Australian produce, and the raising of sufficient amounts of loan in Australia.
Included in the estimate of expenditure out of War Loan are an amount of £2,850,000 for advances to the States for the construction and erection of silos for wheat storage, and an amount of £2,000,000 to be advanced to the States for the purpose of settling returned soldiers on the land. This £2,000,000, and the £1,000,000 to be provided for general repatriation purposes out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, make, in all, £3,000,000, which it is estimated will be sufficient to meet the expenditure on repatriation during 1917-18.
Expenditure out of Loan for Works. The proposed expenditure for 1917-18 on works to be paid for out of loan may be summarized as follows: -
The items to be placed on loan amount to a proposed expenditure, for the most part during the current year, of £2,742,725, and are properly chargeable to Loan Funds. Not to proceed with these urgently necessary works would mean a large withdrawal of employment, which should, where possible, be continued, as otherwise existing difficulties would be accentuated. By avoiding increased taxation as far as possible, and the curtailment of employment resulting from taxation, wealth production will be encouraged.
Federal Capital. The amounts provided in respect of the Federal Capital are as follow: -
All the expenditure in 1916-17 was made from revenue, and, for 1917-18, land and construction of railway, amounting in all to £123,800, have been placed upon loan. “Northern Territory. The estimated expenditure on the Northern Territory in 1917-18 may be compared with the actual expenditure in 1916-17 as follows: -
“Australia House,” London. The erection of the Commonwealth Offices in London, known as Australia House,” is now approaching completion. The site was purchased in the year 1911-12, and, since then, the building has been steadily proceeded with. The total amount expended up to the 30th June, 1917, ineluding £400,000 for the site, was £738,931, of which £617,690 was provided from loan, and £121,241 from revenue. The estimated expenditure for the current year is £100,000, chargeable to loan. It is hoped that this provision will be sufficient to enable the building to be completed.
Provision is made in the Estimates of the current year for £12,800 to cover upkeep and maintenance, including municipal and other taxes. As a set-off to this expenditure, it is estimated that rents, amounting to £10,000, will be received during the year. Amongst the tenancies already arranged for may be mentioned those of the Agent-General for Victoria and the British Government, who “pay rents of £2,200 and £6,275 respectively.
The Commonwealth Government is relieved of the payment which it has hitherto made for rent in London. The amount for the year 1915-16 was £2,960.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions. At 30th June, 1917, there were in the Commonwealth 93,672 old-age pensioners, and 26,781 invalid pensioners - total 120,453 - equal in all to approximately 4£ per cent, of the adult population.
The expenditure for 1916-17 was £3,452,849, being an increase of £593,083 over the preceding financial year. This very large increase is due principally to the amendment of the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act in October last, as a result of which all pensions were increased by 5s. per fortnight. In my financial statement of 14th June last, I estimated the cost of this amendment at £800,000 per annum. The expenditure for 1917-18 is estimated at £3,830,000. Here, again, there is a considerable increase, due chiefly to the fact that the increase in the rate of pensions was operative for only nine months in the last financial year.
As a result of the amending Act of 1916, all inmates of benevolent asylums for whose maintenance the Commonwealth makes payment, are now receiving pensions of 2s. per week. This amount is paid to them personally, or, in some cases, disbursed for their benefit.
The Government proposes to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act so that war pensions, and payments by the Defence Department to persons by reason of their dependence on members of the Forces, will not interfere with pensions under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act.
Maternity Allowances. During the financial year 1916-17, 132,407 maternity allowances were paid, representing an expenditure of £662,035. This was an increase of 458 allowances compared with the preceding financial year.
War Pensions. The war pensions which are payable in Australia numbered 42,815 on the last day of the financial year 1916-17. The expenditure of that year was £1,149,423. At the end of the preceding financial year, war pensions numbered 8,754, and the expenditure for the year was £129,273. The expenditure for 1917-18 is estimated at £2,600,000.
Arrangements exist with the Governments of New Zealand and South Africa for payment of Commonwealth war pensions in those countries. In other countries outside the Commonwealth payment is made through the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions in London.
Australian Notes Fund. On the 30th July, 1917, the position of the Australian Notes Fund was: -
The amount on current account at the Commonwealth Bank is £3,701,505. This credit has arisen partly by the accumulation of interest, which now amounts to £1,215,996 per annum, and partly to certain gold transactions. The Treasury is considering the question of using this credit balance for the purpose of cancelling an equivalent value of Notes in circulation.
Loans to States. Loans made to the States before the War out of the Notes Fund, and still outstanding, amount to £2,634,000. These loans are repayable at various dates between 1919 and 1926.
Soon after the outbreak of war, the Commonwealth lent to theStates, except Queensland, out of the Notes Fund: -
The money was lent under agreement to repay it two years after it was- paid to the States. Subsequently it was agreed to extend the period to three years, and the dates of repayment run between November, 1917, and December, 1918.
On 6th November, 1915, the Commonwealth entered into an agreement with the States (except New South Wales).. The agreement includes the following: -
The foregoing arrangements do not apply to renewals by the States of their existing loans. The moneys referred to in the agreement are for ordinary public works, &c.,of the States, and are not for the erection of silos, or for the settlement of returned soldiers on the land or for other repatriation purposes. The amount to be advanced to the States, in 1917-18, for erection of silos for wheat storage is £2,850,000, and the amount to be advanced for purposes of settling returned soldiers on the land is £2,000,000.
At the Premiers’ Conference in January, 1917, the agreement of 6th November, 1915, was modified as follows: -
In pursuance of the agreement of 6th November, 1915, the Commonwealth in June, 1916, raised £4,000,000 for the States in London at51/4 per cent., the price obtained being par. The loan is redeemable in 1920-22. In’ April, 1917, the Commonwealth raised another loan of £3,500,000 in London for the States. The price of issue was 98, and the rate of interest51/2per cent. per annum. This loan is redeemable in 1922-27. The Imperial Government agreed that the Commonwealth might make further advances to the States, totalling £3,000,000, out of War Funds supplied by the British Government, in anticipation of the issue of a further loan for the States, out of which the advances will be repaid to the War Funds. The States have already been paid their proportions of this £3,000,000. The amount of £3,000,000 was paid to the States as follows: -
The summary of amounts lent byor through the Commonwealth to the States is : -
The foregoing does not include what will be loaned to the States in 1917-18 in respect of their ordinarypublic works.
The Commonwealth hopes to be able to raise the £6,840,000 required by the States for this calendar year, being £3,840,000 still due to the States and £3,000,000 to recoup to War Loan the amount already advanced. The obligation of the States to repay the £18,000,000 is definite, and, as it is desired to vary that obligation, the agreement of 6th, November, 1915, might well be reconsidered as regards payments beyond this calendar year. The Government is anxious to work in the closest harmony with the Governments of the States in this matter, and feels sure mutually satisfactory arrangements will be made.
Every effort will be made to raise this money in Australia, and the Government will find it necessary to issue a new War Loan at an early date.
Ordinary Inscribed Stock and Treasury Bonds will be sold at convenient timesas in the past, and, in addition, the Government desires to encourage systematic saving by the people of the Commonwealth, with a view to assisting in financing the war. War Savings Certificates and War Savings Stamps are accordingly being issued under a scheme which provides facilities for the investment of sums from 6d. to £875. Several denominations of certificates are issued’, and in each case the purchase money is repaid at the end of three years, together with compound interest at the rate of 41/2 per cent. per annum.
Whilst the 6d. and 2s. 6d.War Savings Stamps provide a means for setting aside small amounts for investment in certificates, the Government particularly desires to encourage the formation of War Savings Groups. These groups arrange for payment of subscriptions at regular intervals, and for immediately investing the moneys in certificates. Good results are secured under the group system of saving, because of the regularity of the payments expected of the members, and the force of example which every member exerts upon the rest.
The Government has recently appointed committees of representative men to conduct the War Savings Campaign throughout the Commonwealth. All classes are invited to take part in this campaign, and to assist the movement in every way possible.
Public Debt of the Commonwealth. The Public Debt of the Commonwealth at 30th June,, 1917, was £169,177,767. This amount includes subscriptions to the Fourth War Loan, the due date of some of which has not yet been reached.
The Public Debt is made up as under -
There was owing to the British Government at 30th June, 1917, in respect of the maintenance of Australian Forces at the Front, an amount estimated at £23,500,000. As against this, however, the Commonwealth had in hand, at the same date, £17,745,163 of war loan moneys, and there was a further amount of £6,187,668 still to be received by the Commonwealth on account of the fourth war loan. The public debt of £169,177,767, previously shown, includes these amounts of £17,745,163 and £6,187,668.
The following are particulars of the war loans raised in the Commonwealth : -
The following are. details of the war loans from the Government of the United Kingdom : -
There is parliamentary authority to borrow £2,000,000 more from the Imperial Government, which has agreed to lend the amount.
The total amount authorized to be raised in the Commonwealth for war purposes is £88,000,000. Of this amount £80,053,610 had been raised at 30th June, 1917, by the issue of stock and bonds, and £736,000 by the issue of war savings certificates. The balance authorized to be raised is £7,210,390.
At the 28th July, the amount received from the sale of war savings certificates had increased to £1,349,285.
The stock and bonds issued in Australia, still outstanding and amounting to £79,454,720, bear interest at the rate of 41/2 per cent. per annum, and are redeemable on 15th December, 1925.
On the closing of the accounts for 1916-17 the financial position was found to be much better than had been anticipated. Instead of the small surplus of £126,886, the credit balance was £2,102,177. Moreover, the interest payments during 1917-18 will not be so large as expected, because the Treasury hope to raise loan moneys in such a manner that the balances unexpended will be much less than they have been in the past. During the year 1916-17, owing principally to the fact that ‘payments due to the British Government were deferred, the cash to the credit of the Treasury, including money lent for short periods in London and Australia, was greatly in excess of immediate requirements, as the followngfigures show: -
Offsetting the above, throughout the year, there were overdrafts in the Commonwealth Bank varying between £1,025,000 and £2,250,000. These overdrafts were not necessitated by lack of funds, but were convenient for the payment of accounts, and no interest was paid by the Commonwealth on the overdrafts.
New Taxation. New taxation proposals by the Government are -
Additional taxation would have been necessary but for the surplus brought forward from last year and the transfer of £825,355 in London. I am glad to say that these fortuitous circumstances have made it possible to avoid this year a large increase of taxation. The people of the Commonwealth are already heavily taxed.
From a return furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician, it appears that 84.2 per cent, of the income tax, assessed for 1915-16, which was £4,436,997, is paid by 13,372 persons who have £1,000 a year or more, that 52,491 persons who have £200 and less than £1,000 a year pay 12 per cent., and that 167,853 persons who have less than £200 a year pay 3.8 per cent.
The return shows also that the taxation per head in 1915-16, for Common^ wealth and States, including double taxation on land and incomes, &c, was £6 8s. 5d., as compared with £6 6s. Id. in Great Britain.
As the war proceeds, costing the Commonwealth over £80,000,000 a year, increased taxation will be inevitable, but it will be the endeavour of the Government to ask for the imposition of the necessary increased taxation only when it. is actu ally required, and to impose it in the way that will be least felt by the people.
During this terrible war a great financial responsibility rests upon the people of Australia. We realize that we are ‘part of a great Empire, and that we are fighting for its integrity and for our national life. We are confronted by foes unparalleled in the world’s history for cruelty and barbaric atrocity. We are determined to stand firm and united with our kinsmen in the Old Land, and with our brave Allies, until there is an assured, and, we hope, not distant, victory. We owe ^everything we possess, including our home on this continent, to the people of the Motherland. We have enjoyed the advantages of peace and. security under her care and protection for over a hundred years, and in this day of trial and adversity we are closer to the “ Old Land “ than we ever were, even in the peaceful and prosperous days of the past.
– I lay on the table Budget-papers, prepared for the information of honorable members.
Ordered to be printed.
– I move: -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill, entitled “ A Bill for an Act to make provision for the Repatriation of Australian Soldiers,” provides the machinery for the development and administration of a scheme for the repatriation of our soldiers, and the essence of the measure is really contained in the words of clause 8 as follow: -
Regulations providing for the granting of assistance and benefits to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service, and to the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers, &c.
Those words define the scope of the repatriation scheme as outlined by the Bill, but the Minister in charge of repatriation _ after consultation with Cabinet, has decided to extend their scope in order that widows with children may come under the general scheme.
This Bill is really an expression on behalf of the community of its sense of obligation to the soldiers who have made untold sacrifices for the preservation of their country and the Empire, and in some way seeks to make a return for the invaluable services that our soldiers have rendered to the nation. Any scheme of repatriation must of necessity be tentative in its nature. No such scheme has been in operation elsewhere, so that there has been no precedent to- guide the Government in formulating one. The Bill has been framed so as to be elastic, and in order that it may be adapted to changed conditions that may arise in the future, and which are not present to our mind to-day. The object in view may be put in a few words: It isi an organized effort on behalf of the community to adequately care for those returned soldiers who have come back partly or wholly incapacitated through illness or through wounds received at the Front, and to reestablish in civil life on their return from the Front those men who have taken up arms in defence of their country. Using the phrase which has been employed by the Minister in charge of repatriation, a scheme for repatriation must not be regarded in any sense as a mere money scattering proposition; it must be an organized effort to give real and valuable assistance to our returned soldiers. It will .also have an economic effect, because it will mean restoring our soldiers to their various civil occupations at the earliest possible moment, so that they may be in an immediate position to take up their part as citizens in the general production of wealth throughout the community.
Under the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Fund Act of 1916 a body of trustees was constituted and empowered to hold certain sums of money, but that scheme was in substance merely a voluntary effort for the collection of funds which were to be held by the trustees, and to be supplemented by Commonwealth grants. Altogether £109,355 was contributed by private effort, and the Commonwealth grant was £250,000.
– Have those trustees exercised any functions?
– It is proposed to abolish the Board of Trustees, and to vest all the funds held by them in the- Commission which is to be constituted under the Bill now before the House. The Commonwealth Government have decided from the experience of the working of the Act that they should take full reponsi-bility for repatriation. They consider that repatriation is a . national responsibility, and they are prepared to accept that responsibility.
– No, they do not. They pass it on to the States.
– The Commonwealth Government are asking Parliament to enact this Bill, and in doing so to accept full responsibility for the repatriation of our soldiers. No further appeals will be made for contributions to the central fund,’ but where there is a desire in various localities to supplement what the Commonwealth Government are doing, local committees will still be free to collect and apply moneys as a supplement to whatever is done under the Commonwealth scheme.
– In such cases will any reduction be made in the Commonwealth allowance 1
– No. There will be a general uniform policy, and all allowances will be made under the regulations which will be drawn up. With a view to securing uniformity of action and uniformity of grants as far as is possible under one scheme, it is advisable for the Commonwealth to tak© the full responsibility and constitute its own agencies, and to administer the grants which will come from Commonwealth sources. Generally speaking, the object of repatriation is to reestablish the soldier in civil life, and in this regard it is important to consider the date at which repatriation should begin, and that at which the responsibility of the Minister administering this Bill will arise. This matter is decided in clause 8, which provides in effect that repatriation will begin from the moment of the discharge of the Australian soldier from the Australian Imperial Force. There are many funds in Australia to-day which are being applied in various ways for the amelioration of soldiers and their dependants, and with a view to securing a definite line of action and uniformity the Minister in charge of repatriation convened a conference of the promoters of these various funds!. This conference met and reviewed the whole question from the point of view of amelioration. By “ amelioration “ I mean, providing out of voluntary funds grants to soldiers and their dependants from the moment they enter camps up to the date of their return, and from the date of their return to the date of their discharge from the Australian Imperial Force. As a result of the conference a common agreement was arrived at to secure a uniform practice throughout Australia. Three things were agreed upon - uniformity of grants, a common collective agencyin each State, and Commonwealth supervision as regards expenditure upon administration. In coming to an agreement as to what the scale of allowances should be, the conference practically adopted the highest scale existing in any State. There are two periods covered by the scale of allowances. The first period is from the date of enlistment to the date of return. The second period is from the date of return of the soldier to his discharge. I have in detail the scales agreed upon. Honorable members will understand that they represent the amount of income which the persons mentioned will draw, made up by the allotments of pay and grants. The scale for the first period, from the date” of enlistment to the date of return, is as follows: -
– Is there any age limit for children?
– I am not sure, but I believe that the age limit is sixteen years. These are the cases of grants to the dependants of absent soldiers in order to bring the incomes up to the standards that I have detailed. After the soldier’s return another scale operates, and that which has been agreed upon is as follows : - Single men, £2 10s. per week; man and wife, £3 5s. per week; for the first two children an additional 5s. each per week, and for children over two in number 2s. 6d. each per week. The object of the conference was to bring about this uniformity and to provide, as far as funds would permit, for generous and liberal treatment.
So far, I have dealt only with the position of the men up to the date of discharge. I come now to the point at which amelioration ceases and repatriation begins, and it is here that the responsibility of the Commonwealth commences. It will, perhaps, be found advantageous if, in outlining this scheme, I deal with each class of persons who are likely to come under it. Of these there are several. In the first place, it is proposed that the men, before they actually come under the operation of thescheme, shall be registered. At present the position is that a’ soldier is discharged, receives his pay, and then may or may not apply to a Repatriation Committee for assistance. In some instances, returned soldiers first expend their money and then seek aid. It is not for us, however, to criticise such action on the part of the men who have made big sacrifices for their country. Rather should it be our aim to consider this question solely from the point of view of how we can best help them. The intention of the scheme is to secure registration before discharge, and, if possible, while the men are yet oversea, so as to minimize the time between the discharge and the re-establishment of the soldier in some civil calling or occupation.
– The men who have already returned will, of course, come under this scheme ?
– Quite so. The desire will be to secure the registration of the men before they are discharged, and, if possible, to have the discharging office and the repatriation office in the one building, so that the two operations may be immediately linked up.
– The whole matter of administration will be carried out under the one roof ?
– Yes; and in each State.
– Including the provision of pensions?
– The payment of war pensionscomes under the jurisdiction of the Treasurer. The point with which we are now concerned is that of keeping in touch with the soldier from the day of his return until he finally comes, under the repatriation scheme. An endeavour will be made, at the earliest possible moment, to obtain information as to the men who wish to come under the scheme, the qualifications they possess, and the particular calling which each man desires to follow on his return. That information having been obtained bythe officers and committees concerned, they shall at once be able to apply the scheme to each individual.
It is hoped that a vast proportion of our soldiers will return in good health andvigour ready to resume the civil occupations which they followed before the war. Many men so situated will not desire to come under this scheme, but experience teaches us that some of them will. The hope is that those who are in good health will return to the occupations they followed prior to enlistment. In order to assist them in doing so, or in obtaining other employment, it is proposed to provide for a system of registration for employment, or, in other words, for the establishment of a Bureau of Employment in each State. These bureaux will be linked up with local agencies or committees scattered throughout the rural districts of Australia.
– The Minister does not regard as repatriation work the returning of a man to his old job ?
– Many men will desire to secure employment at their former avocation, and we must help them to do so.
– Is this scheme actually in operation now in respect of men who have already returned ?
– I am at present dealing only with the proposals of the Minister.
– As a matter of fact the scheme which the honorable gentleman has outlined is in operation in Queensland today.
– That is so. Senator Millen has displayed great energy in dealing with this question, and has availed himself of every possible source of light and guidance. I may say, in passing, that he submitted the scheme to the Senate in a speech that will rank as being among the most notable made in connexion with the war. He formulated for the first time in history a scheme on behalf of a nation - a scheme framed with the intention that the nation should help those who had fought for it, and Help them in an organized way. To return to the point I was discussing when interrupted, the Central Bureau of employment will be linked up with country districts. There are already in existence, in several of the States, bureaux established for this purpose, and the Minister has been assured of the hearty co-operation of the State
Governments in carrying out this arrangement, so that unnecessary duplication may be avoided.
The second class to be considered in connexion with repatriation is that of apprentices who enlisted before the completion of their indentures. At the time of their enlistment many young men were serving their apprenticeship to various trades, and those apprenticeships have been broken. Some two orthree years may elapse between the date of their enlistment and the time of their return. Meantime, they will have lost their training, and consequently, although they will have advanced in years,their earning capacity will not be what it would have been had they remained at home and completed their indentures. It is not fair that these young men should be compelled to work for the wages they were earning at the time of their enlistment, and this is a responsibility of which the Minister has not lost sight. The object will beto enable them to complete their apprenticeship, the Repatriation Commission supplementing their wages to allow this to be done. Where Government employment can be provided to enable them to complete their apprenticeship it will be given; but where that is not possible, an effort will be made to induce private firms to provide for them. In other words, they will be asked to take over and complete the broken indentures, the Commission subsidizing the wages as far as may be necessary. Where it is impossible for these young men to complete their training under either Government or private employment, there may be on the part of the Commonwealth an obligation to consider the creation of special training establishments. The question of the remuneration of these young men is one of importance. An apprentice may have enlisted at eighteen years of age and may not return until he is twenty-one, with the resultthat the wage of a man of eighteen is not adequate for the man of twenty-one. The intention of the scheme is not to allow such a loss to fall on the men, but as far as possible, to placethem in the position that they would have occupied, so far as the rates of wages are concerned, had they remained at home and completed their indentures.
– What will be the position of a man who had passed the examinations for the Public Service, but was not called up prior to his enlistment?
– Such men will be dealt with under the Public Service Bill, which provides for preference of employment to returned soldiers.
– They will not be asked to undergo a further examination ?
– We may well leave the consideration of that question until the Public Service Bill is before us. The intention of the Government is that returned soldiers shall receive preference of employment, and my own personal view is that the rights of those who, before leaving for the Front, qualified for the Public Service should be preserved.
– Will they be required to undergo >a further medical examination?
– A regulation dealing with that question has been framed. But I fear Mr. Speaker will not allow me to discuss that matter on the measure now before us.
I come now to another phase of this repatriation scheme, and one of the most important. I refer to land settlement. The States, as honorable members are aware, have jurisdiction oven the lands of Australia; and, in order that this aspect of the question might be dealt with, a special conference of representatives of each of the States was called to develop a definite policy. The matter was discussed at length, and five of the six States agreed to a definite plan. Shortly put, the agreement is that the States who own the lands shall provide the lands for this scheme, and that the Commonwealth shall advance to the States the money necessary to enable a grant not exceeding £500 to be made to each settler, for the purpose of improving his holding and providing plant, stock, and other essentials to his success.
– Will that advance also be made in respect of private lands on which’ returned soldiers have settled ? .
– I am dealing now only with the arrangements actually made with the States.
– What will be the position if one State fails to come under this arrangement ?
– I trust that all the States will realize, just as we do, that the well-being of the returned soldiers should be our first consideration, and that all will come into line in respect of this agreement.
– What State is standing out?
– A difficulty has arisen with regard to Queensland.
– In regard to the question of land settlement, will the Commonwealth continue to hold control over the administration of this part of the scheme ?
– The ‘Commonwealth will certainly retain some control over it with respect to finance. A special Board, consisting of a Minister from each State and a Commonwealth Minister, and to be known as the Soldiers’ Settlement Board of Australia, is to be constituted.
– Will that Board also deal with the question of the suitability of the land?
– No. The States who own the land will have control of their own policy in each case.
– Will the Commonwealth have no voice in the selection of the land?
– The selection of the land will rest with the State; but there will be co-operation as between the States and the Commonwealth.
– Has the question of providing money for the repurchase of alienated estates been discussed?
– As to that, no decision hae yet been arrived at. The Minister desires .to get into touch with the States, and to secure, as far as possible^ the establishment of small settlements. The amount to be advanced in each case is not in itself sufficient to enable large areas of land to be dealt with. Where a man already has land, this advance of £500 will be made to him ; but the intention is to establish smaller settlement schemes rather than attempt to deal with large areas.
– Small settlements on good land?
– Closer settlement on suitable land, so that a speedy return may be obtained from its occupation. In connexion with these small settlements, there should be organized effort to bring about the working of certain industries on cooperative lines, the Government guaranteeing a market and organizing the handling and sale of the products.
Under this scheme, it is proposed tlo establish training farms, the losses upon which will be borne equally by the Commonwealth and She States. In regard to other occupations which returned soldiers may desire to follow, the regulations will provide for them, but it is obvious that something will have to be done for reburned soldiers who have been discharged, and who are awaiting employment, and in this connexion the Minister proposes a scheme of reserve employment. One suggestion which has been made is that forestry should be encouraged in Australia, so that during this period of waiting their services may be utilized in that direction. There has also been under consideration the question of furnishing men with employment on the works to be undertaken by the River Murray Waters. Commission, and the Minister is now communicating with the States concerned with two objects in view - first, the employment of returned soldiers on those works, and, secondly, their settlement upon the lands embraced within that scheme.
I have ,now dealt with those men who are in possession of all their faculties, and who are healthy and strong. I wish now to direct attention to two other classes - those who are partially incapacitated and those who are totally incapacitated. Both deserve the most sympathetic treatment that we can extend to them, and this scheme has been framed with that object in view. In this connexion it is intended to establish in our hospitals what are known as’ curative workshops - that is to say, workshops in which light employment will be provided for those who are partially incapacitated.’ Such work will prove healthful to them, and ‘will furnish them with a certain amount of preliminary training. By arrangement with the Minister for Defence, two of these workshops are to be established immediately, one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne, but it is intended to extend them, as circumstances require,throughout Australia. These workshops can be operated even before returned soldiers are discharged, and, as a matter of fact, will be utilized before the men come under the repatriation scheme.
– The workshops, I presume, will deal with different trades.
– It is only elementary training which will be provided in them. They are primarily intended to train the men in the use of artificial limbs, and to interest them. When the men are discharged, they will require further training. But by that time they will have been granted pensions, and will be in a better position to utilize whatever faculties they may possess in an endeavour to supplement their incomes. lit) will, of course, be necessary to provide also for advanced training for those who are partially incapacitated. (It has been suggested that we might establish special institutions for this purpose, but it has been thought better to endeavour to make an arrangement with manufacturers under which these returned and partially incapacitated soldiers will be permitted to enter factories and mingle with their fellow men there.
– There will be a strike over that.
– The Ministry is hopeful of being able to .make an arrangement with the unions and employers which will bring about the result I have indicated. I think.it will be found that the unions are humane in this matter. We believe that they will endeavour to assist their fellow-citizens, who have fought and suffered for them, to obtain some means of supplementing their incomes. In the case of the permanently incapacitated, we are faced with an entirely different problem. These men are to be provided with suitable homes, and where they desire to remain with their own relatives, it is proposed to supplement their pensions so as to enable them to receive nursing attention.
– When a partially incapacitated man becomes expert enough to supplement his pension, will that pension be reduced?
– No. I will, however, deal with that phase of the matter presently. The Minister has suggested tentatively that the allowance to be granted . to a permanently incapacitated soldier for nursing attendance shall be 10s. per week.
I now come to another class with which we shall have to deal, namely, those who are affected with tubercular disease. In their case, it is intended to provide proper sanatoria in which they shall be given every attention: Still another aspect of repatriation involves the supply of necessary artificial limbs. It is proposed to establish in Australia a factory for the purpose of manufacturing these limbs.
At the present time, we are making arrangements for their importation. But it is intended to establish afactory for thenmanufacture here, and we are now obtaining the necessary experts for the purpose. It is not merely the provision of these artificial limbs that we have to consider, bub also their maintenance.
– They should be taught the use of the limbs.
– That has been provided for in the earlier part of the scheme. As a matter of fact, such instruction is already being given in the military hospitals.
In regard to pensions, it is only right that there should be some definite decision given in respect to them, and for obvious reasons. When a returned soldier knows definitely the amount of his pension, he will naturally feel a sense of security, and will endeavour to supplement it to the full extent of his capacity. After he has overcome the defects inseparable from the use of artificial limbs, and gained a victory, he ought notto be deprived of the fruits of that victory. Consequently it is proposed that after the lapse of six months his pension shall be fixed finally, and that it shall not afterwards be liable to any reduction. But should a man subsequently develop further defects from injuries arising out of the war, we intend to allow his pension to be reviewed with the idea of increasing it. But I wish honorable members to understand that there can be no review of it for the purpose of decreasing it.
I have now given a general outline of the scheme, and I may add that the Minister has stated that the proposals embodied in this Bill are to be considered of a more or less tentative character. As we have had no experience of repatriation, he will welcome suggestions with a view to improving the measure.
– This is not a party question.
– Who suggested that it was?
– Then why make the statement?
– The general principle of the Bill embodies Governmental responsibility for this scheme of repatriation As I have already pointed out, the obligation ought to be a national one, and in order to give effect to it, there should be Min isterial responsibility for the development of the scheme and for its administration throughout the Commonwealth. It follows therefore that there must be a Minister placed in control of it, and accordingly it is intended to introduce a Bill to constitute a Minister for Repatriation. He will be in charge of a Department. He will have under him a chief executive officer of the Commonwealth, and a chief executive officer in each of the States. They, in turn, will have under them the necessary officials to give effect to the scheme. It will be admitted, I think, that throughout Australia during the war, there has been a wonderful exhibition of capable management by persons who have voluntarily given their services to assistour returned soldiers, and who have helped in connexion with the movements on behalf of soldiers and their dependants. In these circumstances, it has been considered advisable to frame a scheme which, while preserving Ministerial responsibility and that official control which will insure uniformity, precision, and exactness, and while insuring adequate supervision in the distribution of the funds, will invite the hearty co-operation of voluntary workers. With this object in view, it is . intended to constitute a Central Commission consisting of seven persons, including the Minister: These persons will be appointed by the Governor-General, and two out of the six members whom he will appoint areto be returned soldiers. The Commission will be a body corporate, capable of holding property of its own. It will have intrusted to it the power of recommending to the Government regulations for giving effect to this scheme. It will consider questions of policy, the nature of the grants which shall be made, the area over which they shall apply, and the conditions governing those grants. . All these matters will be set out in regulations to be submitted to the Governor-General for enactment. The Commission will also be a Board of Appeal. Any soldier who may be dissatisfied with the decision of a State Board may appeal to the Central Commission.
– Even in regard to land matters?
– The States have jurisdiction in land matters, but an appeal may be made in regard to any matter coming within the regulations and the jurisdiction of the Central Commission. What we desire is the harmonious cooperation of Governmental agencies, in order that the best possible result may be secured. The determinations of the Commission upon appeals are to be final. The Commission is also to act as a Board of Advice.
– To whom?
– To the Minister, who will be its chairman.
– Who will be the remaining members of the Commission ?
– They will be appointed by the Government, and. two of them will be returned soldiers.
There will also be State Boards, constituted by seven members, two of whom will be returned soldiers.
– Will the positions all be honorary ?
– Yes. The State Boards will act under the regulations which will be framed. In this way we hope to secure uniformity.
Mir. Page. - Who will be the paid official t
– An executive officer will be appointed for each State*
– Will he be a Commonwealth officer?
– Tes ; and a paid official.
– Will the returned soldiers be pai.d ?
– All the members of the State Boards, like the members of the Central Commission, will act in an honorary capacity. The State Boards will consider such applications as may be made to them by returned soldiers, and, as I have said, from their decisions there will be an appeal to the Central Commission.
There will also be Local Committees, who will do important work under the State Boards.
– Will their members be elective or nominee?
– That has to be determined. The State Boards will consider, among) other things, the granting of money to returned soldiers, and the Local Committees will see to the proper application of ‘the grants within their respective districts. They will thus act as the agents and delegates of the State Boards. They will assist in questions of employment, and will be free to raise funds locally to supplement the grants made in their districts.
– Will they have any power of suggestion?
– There will be nothing to prevent Local Committees from making suggestions to the State Boards, or the State Boards from making suggestions to the Central Commission. At the beginning there are sure to be difficulties which must be referred to the Central Commission.
– These references will receive consideration, and that will be the end of them.
– Perhaps the honorable member speaks from his attitude on past occasions. It is thought that the Local Committees will be in touch with the men themselves, and that thus the scheme will be carried out sympathetically.
– What will be the jurisdiction of Local Committees ?
– It is impossible to say now what will be the areas within which the Local Committees will operate. We cannot adopt the municipal divisions, because they are often too limited in area. The intention is to define such areas as may best secure efficiency.
– Will the Local Committees be allowed to act without reference to the State Boards?
– It will be for them to carry out the decisions of the State Boards in regard to grants; they will not be able to deal with applications for money.
– Then they will soon get tired of their job.
– I do not think so. I believe that that is the way in which the . repatriation work is now being done in Queensland. Only by making grants from a common centre under common regulations can we get uniformity and just treatment.
– Will a Local Commit- . tee be able under the regulations to make a grant?
– No, though it may raise . funds to supplement any grant.
– It will have full control over money raised locally.
– That will not be much.
– Certain districts have been very generous in this matter.
It is impossible to say at this juncture what repatriation will cost the Commonwealth. We do not know how long the war will last, nor do we know how many v returned soldiers will take advantage of this scheme. But I believe it to be the feeling of the people, that no matter what the cost, within reason, we must foot the bill. Therefore the Treasurer has provided for the advance to the States out of loan money of £2,000,000 to be applied to settling returned soldiers on the. land.
Mr.Falkiner. - Is that for buying land ?
– No; that is for advances for improvements, stock, plant, and so forth. In addition £1,000,000 is to be provided out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for general repatriation purposes.
– The money referred to is to be advanced to the State Governments.
– The £2,000,000 is to be lent bythe Commonwealth to the States, and interest is to be paid on it.
-Are the advances all by way of loan ?
– The £2,000,000 will be advanced by way of loan.
– Are there to be any gifts by the Commonwealth ?
– Grants are bound to be made in connexion with a general scheme of this character. This year the Government will provide £3,000,000 for repatriation purposes.
– Let us know definitely how the £2,000,000 is to be regarded.
– The £2,000,000 is to be an advance to the States, to be loaned out by them to returned men, to provide stock, plant, equipment, and improvements.
– At a fixed rate of interest?
– There has been an agreement with the States regarding the rate of interest. The remaining £1,000,000, for general repatriation purposes, will be taken out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– How will it be allocated?
– According to the necessities of the case. If the money is not required it will not be used, and if more money is required, the Minister will have no hesitation in asking the Treasurer for it.
– It will not be possible to apply the money loaned to the State for the building of railways or roads?
– I have stated the purposes to which the money is to be applied.
I have now given in outline the scheme formulated by the Minister in another place and the machinery for carrying it out. This scheme is an earnest of the desire of the Government to give effect to the wishes of the people of Australia. Many of our soldiers relinquished good positions in civil life when they enlisted, and have made great sacrifices for their country. It is felt that the least the Commonwealth can do is to try to replace them in positions as good at least as those which they left. We hope to re-establish our soldiers in civil life so that they may in the future play their part in Commonwealth affairs as well as they could have done had they not gone to the war.
.- I move-
That the debate be now adjourned.
I hope that the Minister will not bring on this Bill again to-morrow, but will postpone the resumption of the debate to a latter day. Let us get on with the War Profits Tax Assessment Bill.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Mr. GLYNN (Angasi - Minister for
Home and Territories) [5.35]. - I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure does not involve a fundamental alteration of the law of naturalization, and, in order to understand its true import, perhaps I had better make a few observations upon the question of nationality itself. It is rather a delicate subject, and I think that honorable members will be more able then to appreciate what the Imperial position is, and what this Bill for the present contains, if I deal somewhat broadly with the general question.
British nationality depends upon acquisition in various ways. A man may be a British subject by being born within the King’s allegiance, which practically means within the limits of the Empire. It does not necessarily mean the Empire, because originally nationality arose out of personal loyalty to the Sovereign, and the limit of the Sovereign’s royalty was not circumscribed by the portion over which he must necessarily rule - that is, the British Empire. I may say that protectorates do not come within the territory of the Crown for the purpose of nationality. It may be acquired also by the fact that a child of a natural-horn British subject born abroad is entitled to the position of a natural-born British subject. Then it may be acquired through a certificate or letters of naturalization, or through what are called letters of denization, which was the only method of acquiring nationality prior to 1844. It was a matter, as I have said, of allegiance to the King, and being a prerogative, the only way of acquiring the rights of a British subject except by birth was by getting an express grant under letters of denization from the Sovereign. But, in 1844, the statutory provisions came in, to which I shall make a short reference, later. Nationality may also come by marriage with a British subject or through parentage. The law as regards parentage is just a little conflicting, but the position at present in Australia is that an infant whose father obtained a certificate of naturalization, or whose mother, being a widow or divorced, obtained a certificate of naturalization, or whose mother was married to a naturalborn British subject or to a person who had obtained letters of naturalization, and who during infancy resided in Australia with his parents, under our Naturalization Act of 1903 was regarded as a British subject. An anomaly arose in “connexion with that Act making provision that persons who had obtained certificates of naturalisation under State laws should be regarded as naturalized for the purposes of that Act, which I shall refer to later, and which is one of the matters dealt with in this Bill. Then nationality may be conferred through annexation, “that is, if a territory is effectively taken over during war; most of them at present are effectively taken by our troops, but they are technically under military occupation. Through annexation, of which one of the chief evidences is a treaty of peace, the persons within that territory change their allegiance and become subjects of the Crown to which the territory is annexed. Then there are in cases some defects. There is the defect of local naturalization. I refer to this matter because an Imperial Act, as I shall show later, was passed in 1914, and an Imperial question as to whether we should not adopt some of its provisions arose, and is still under consideration. The defect of our naturalization is that we can only naturalize within the Commonwealth, so that if a naturalized person leaves the Commonwealth he immediately loses his nationality here ; and if, as in some cases occurs, he has lost the nationality of the place of his origin or birth, then he ceases to have any nationality, which under the circumstances of the war, perhaps, is a mixed blessing. He becomes, in fact, an alien again.
– When we adopt the provisions of the Act of 1914, to which I shall refer presently; but this Bill, as I said. does not deal with the continental laws. It does not really adopt the provisions of the Act- of 1914 for reasons which I shall touch upon later.
It may be asked what are the privileges conferred by nationality.- There is the right to the protection of the Crown against the action of foreign countries, to be tried by British law in Consular Courts, wherever the provision as regards those Courts still holds ; if single, and desirous of becoming married, to be married in a foreign country under the Foreign Marriages Act of 1892. There is also the right to hold a share in a British ship, and there are some- other matters to which I need not refer. Certain restrictions on the right to hold property were removed by an Imperial Act of 1870, but some have been restored by the local Legislatures of the States, because some’ States, such as New South Wales, and,. I think, to an extent, Victoria, have passed Acts declaring that aliens cannot hold real property. I believe that Victoria does not even allow a transfer from an alien to take place, which- I assure honorable members is rather embarrassing.
– Do you say that what are now termed neutral countries naturalize Britishers t
– I think so. There is no alteration that I know of in the comity on that matter since the war started; but I think such naturalization during war would not affect allegiance to the British Crown.
– If Victoria erred, it was in following the lead of the Commonwealth. She followed very much our own principle.
– I do not quite follow the honorable member.
– You said that the Commonwealth enacted that aliens should not hold shares, and Victoria said that they should not hold land.
– I am merely stating a fact? and it. is not for me to question the wisdom of the State Legislature.
The responsibilities of a British subject include liability to be tried, in Consular Courts, and if it is of any interest to honorable members to know, British subjects who commit the offence of treason, murder, or - perhaps I am too personal- bigamy, and certain other offences abroad, have the responsibility of being tried when they get back to British Courts. They may also be extradited under treaties which apply to some countries. I mentioned also that nationality confers the right to the protection of the Crown wherever a subject is. We always hear the saying, “ civis Romanus sum.” I should think that, under the conditions of this war, it has been impressed upon us by the might - developed under extraordinary circumstances, and still in reserve - of the British Empire that to call a person a British citizen has an international significance, which did nob quite attach to the term ‘ ‘ civis Romanus wm ‘ ‘ in the days of Imeprial Rome. The protection is given, nevertheless, by courtesy. So that a person naturalized here who goes Home, or even to China, though he is not entitled to many of the statutory privileges of a naturalized person, or to any of them, as a fact, does get, as a matter of the beneficence of British rule, protection from the British flag or British diplomacy.
– Do you propose in this Bill to naturalize a German when Germany does not recognise naturalization ?
– I shall deal with that matter later. A passport issued by the Foreign Office contains an endorsement stating that it is granted with the qualification that the holder is within the limits of the colony in which he was naturalized, a British colonial subject by naturalization, and is entitled as a matter of courtesy to the general good offices and assistance of His Majesty’s representative abroad.
Letters of naturalization, except in some cases where the power exists to confer them by Statute, create only a qualification to acquire rights. A misapprehension on that point is alleged to have existed in connexion with some of the
Imperial Conferences at Home, and it may have retarded the adoption of the Imperial Act of 1914, or of the principles of that Act, which were mooted in some of the Conferences. Except as in sections of our Act, there is an express declaration made by a Statute, naturalization only creates a qualification, so that a person naturalized does not, apart from Statute, become an elector. He becomes qualified to become an elector in accordance with electoral laws. He does not acquire the right to emigrate to Australia in contravention of immigration laws. An alien has no right to land here, whether we passed an Immigration Act or not. Certain British subjects, as well as’ aliens, cannot land in Australia because we make certain conditions as regards the class of immigrants Who are to come here, some being dependent upon colour, and some dependent upon character and other things. An alien cannot land so that, as in the case of A h Toy v. Musgrave, decided, I think, in 1889, whenthe Chinese Restriction Acts were found ineffective to stop about 265 Chinese who arrived by the African, an act of State stopped the coming in of those men, and the Privy Council, on appeal, decided that an alien had no right to land, and could be stopped without the provisions of an Act of Parliament, and that any remedy afterwards was to be obtained through diplomatic intervention. I said that until 1844 naturalization was conferred by the Crown, not under an Act of Parliament. In 1870 a most important Act was passed, and property restrictions upon aliens were abolished by Imperial law, the intention being ‘ to affect the United Kingdom only, though that provision was spoken of as being doubtful. An alien, therefore, can hold property unless there is some statutory provision to the contrary. Previously, by common law, he was disqualified from holding it.
– Whether he was naturalized or nott
– I mean an alien,, of course.
– Who was naturalized?
– No. An alien can hold property under the Act of 1870. The common law provision was that he waa incapable of acquiring or holding property within the Empire, and the Act provided that the disqualification should not attach to aliens for the’ future. It, the common law, also provided that a man could never shake off his nationality, or, if it is more comprehensive in another language - Nemo protest exuere pasriam. No man can put off his nationality without the permission of the Crown. That principle was modified in 1870, by making provision for renunciation in certain cases, and also for becoming a British subject, where a person for some reason or other has lost his allegiance to the Crown. There was also a provision that, in order to get the certificate of naturalization, there should be five years’ residence within the United Kingdom- That was found to be inconvenient to the colonies, because it meant that a man who emigrated after, say, three or four years’ residence, lost ‘his residential qualification. He also wasobliged to make a declaration^ when he had been five years in residence, and applied for a certificate, that he intended to remain. I think that some objections were, or might have been, made by the Dominions on the ground that this had a tendency to interfere with immigration or migration within the Empire. That was one of the reasons which led to a modification of the provisions in the Imperial Act of 1914, which now provides that four of the five years’ residence may be within the Dominions, and only one within the United Kingdom itself. The question of uniformity under the Act of 1914, to which those generalities lead me, was discussed in 1901 and in 1907, and again in 1917, by the Imperial War Conference. It was further considered by an InterDepartmental Conference in 1908, and I myself helped to shape the memorandum that arose out of it. The result of the last Conference on the subject, apart from the War Conference of 1917, was that after a great deal of discussion it was decided that certain principles should be expressed in an Imperial Bill which could be adopted by the Dominions. In effect, the compromise come to was that the term of residence might be made the same, five years; that a person should be of good character, have some knowledge of the English language - which was not required before - and that he must intend to reside within the Empire, or serve under the Crown. In Part II. of the English measure, which .contains a number of modifications of the law as to nationality, there are provisions which may be adopted by the
Dominions, and under which a certificate holding good throughout the Empire may be granted, subject to local laws. That is the reason I mention that naturalization itself does not confer certain rights, bub a qualification for rights; and that principle has been recognised in Part II. of the Imperial Act of 1914, in various provisions to which I had better refer. The resolution passed by the Imperial War Committee was -
The Conference recognises the desirability of securing uniformity of policy and action throughout the Empire with regard to naturalization.
There was a memorandum prepared by the Home Office containing a suggestion that legislative changes shall be made only with the assent of all members of the Empire, and by legislative methods similar to those by which the Act of 1914 was carried ; and that separate legislation by any part of the Empire modifying the position in that Act was to be deprecated.
The reason I have not introduced a Bill to adopt Part II. of the Imperial Act is that in consequence of recommendations which were made by the Imperial Government, and adopted by the Imperial War Committee, there may be some fairly drastic alterations of that part of the Imperial Act, and these the Dominions will have to adopt in order to create the .power to issue a certificate of naturalization throughout the Empire. I, therefore, thought it better to wait until the communications now passing between the Dominion Governments and the Imperial Government, have been effective in making amendments acceptable to all. Further, it is possible that the matter may be one of the subjects of an Imperial Conference after the war.
The Imperial Act gives naturalization ‘ subject to local laws, and it provides also that there must be a knowledge of English, that children may be included in the certificate. - which was not .the case up to 1914 - that if the husband ceases to be naturalized, nationality may be taken from the wife, or if she is not so deprived of her rights as a subject through some’ special circumstances, she may within six months make a declaration of alienage.
– If a naturalized subject went from Australia to America, and became an American citizen, would his wife and family left here lose their nationality in consequence of his act?
– Nob under the Imperial Act, though the American law contains provisions aa ito renunciation. There are, of course, special circumstances - connected with treason, for instance - under which the woman’s nationality might be .taken away. That is merely a power, and under ordinary circumstances the nationality of the wife remains unimpaired, though, as I say, she may ‘make a declaration within six months.
– In England a woman is not recognized as a citizen.
– I am happy to say that a woman now stands on a much higher pedestal than that interjection would suggest. Happily, we have not lost some of that primitive idealization which raises a woman to the level to which she is entitled. I speak with much sympathy on “this subject, because I was, I think, tie first man in the Empire elected by the suffrage of women, which shows that there is more in woman than some people think. That was at a by-election in 1896, after the first Women’s Suffrage Act had been passed in Australia, and it restored me to political life as the representative of sanity.
There is a provision in the Imperial Act by which infants lose their nationality when the parents surrender it, unless by losing the British nationality that infant would not become the subject of another State. Such child, on attaining majority, may apply to resume. It is also provided that a British subject, on naturalization in another country, ceases to be British. At present the law is that a son born abroad of a natural-born British subject is British, and that the son of a naturalized British subject has equal rights.
– But what if he is a subject under the low of the country he was born in?
– The infant son loses the nationality on .the father losing it.
– If an alien woman marries a British subject in Australia, has she to apply for naturalization papers?
– She becomes a British subject on marrying a naturalized British subject.
– But a British woman who marries an alien here does not become an alien.
– Yes; naturalization comes through the husband. The Imperial Act of 1914 is the one that we hope to adopt after the war. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, at one Imperial Conference in 1911, said-
I think this principle may be laid down to be ultimately reached - a British subject anywhere, a British subject everywhere.
There has been a doubt expressed in Canada as to the effect of the Canadian certificate of naturalization. It was held by some Canadian writers that under section 91 of the British North American Act of 1867 the Canadian certificate was of Empire significance, and that was the opinion expressed by Mr. Ewart, who was, I think, in Australia some time ago. Lord Emmott, in moving the second reading of the Bill in 1914, in the House of Lords, said -
At present an alien naturalized in the United Kingdom carried with him, either by right or by courtesy, over the whole world practically the same privileges as a natural-born British subject.
I do not think that that is the case as regards right, and I mention the matter because it is important to know that, without their consent, the Imperial Act of 1914 cannot, by constitutional practice, be made obligatory on- the Dominions. I find from an article in the Quarterly Review of the 1st January, 1914, that an opinion to that effect had been expressed by the ‘ British authorities some time before the Act became law.
– Was that Act passed before the war broke out?’
– A few days after the war broke out. It had been agreed to at the Conference of 1911, and was ready just before the war.
– How does that affect our Act in regard to Asiatics?
– It does not touch on that point, but I will read the opinion of the Colonial Department some years ago, in a quotation from an article by Richard Jebb- -
The following considerations suggest that naturalization in the United Kingdom has no effect outside its borders: - (1) In a circular despatch of 10th September, 1874, the Colonial Secretary informed the colonial Governments that, as he was advised, “a certificate of naturalization granted under the authority of the Acts of 1844 or 1870 confers upon an alien no rights or privileges in a British colony.” (2) The Committee of 1899 state that the authorities are divided in opinion as to whether section 7 of the Act of 1870 confers upon an alien naturalized in the United Kingdom the status of a British subject outside the United Kingdom, either in a foreign country or in a British colony.
So far as the Imperial authorities are concerned, the doubt has been removed hy that opinion.
– Will the Bill give that right ? . *
– No. The British Acts of 1847 and 1870 expressed the right of the colonies to regulate naturalization within the limits of their own territories.
I do not wish to weary honorable members, but there was a case, Rdx v. Albany-street Police Station Superintendent, in which it was laid down that a child born in a foreign State did not obtain the status of British nationality by the mere fact that the father was a naturalized British subject. In another case, it was laid down by Lord Hals*bury -
The right of protection and the obligations of allegiance are necessarily involved in the nationality conferred by naturalization, but the privileges attached to it, where those, defend upon residence, are quite independent of nationality.
The Imperial .Act contains a provision that we are not to be affected by the Imperial Act as regards local legislation.
– Then Lord Emmott was wrong.
– He was expressing his opinion of the law at the time he introduced the BiU.
– Is he a legal man ?
– He is an able man, and may have referred to protection by courtesy, but great authorities differed on the point, to which I think it better to refer, however abstruse the subject may be.
Section 26 of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act provides that -
Nothing in this Act shall take away or abridge any power vested in, or exercisable by, the Legislature or Government of any British Possession, or affect the operation of any law at present in force which has been passed in the exercise of such a power, or prevent any such Legislature or Government from treating differently different classes of British subjects.
That is the point the honorable member referred to. It is an express declaration that our autonomy in this matter is absolutely unimpaired. The quotation is from the Act of 1914, but, as a matter of fact, provisions, implied if not express, to that effect existed in the Act of 1847 and the Act of 1870. Any doubt on the matter, however, was removed, not only by the opinion I have referred to, but by the express terms of the Imperial Act I have just quoted. Other parts of the Imperial Act, however, may apply in these Dominions, and may involve, perhaps unconsciously, a modification of the principle that you oan never take away or derogate from a grant of self-government; in other words, that you can never, without the request of the particular parts of the Dominions affected, pass legislation to be operative within them, except as purely relating to some Imperial matter or matter affecting only the United Kingdom.
– Does this Bill remove the embargo that exists now with regard to natives of Mr Lebanon?
– No; it does not touch the question. It deals only with the question of acquiring naturalization. The right of entry depends on other Acts.
– Do you not think they ought to be admitted?
– I assure the honorable member that they have been treated with more consideration than any other class.
– But they are not naturalized.
– We have to keep in touch with the Imperial sense in this matter, and there are reasons relating to their continent of origin why we could not naturalize them. However, so far as we could manage it, the provisions of the Act have not been drastically applied to the natives of Mr Lebanon.
With regard to double nationality, I mentioned that some amendments were made by the Act of 1870, one by which a renunciation of nationality could be made, and one that a declaration of alienage could be made in certain cases. Westlake, in his International Law, says -
Any person who, by reason ‘of his having been born within the Dominions of his Majesty, is a natural-born subject, but who also at the time of his birth became, under the law of any foreign State, a subject of such State, and is still such subject, may make a declaration of alienage. That was tried since the war broke out; but it was decided, in the case of Rex v. Officer, reported in the Times of 13th March, 1917, that you cannot, while the war is on, renounce allegiance.
– Would a child born of Scottish parents in China have to be naturalized as a British subject?
-No, being the son of a British subject, he would be a British subject himself. Under the British Act nationality is lost by voluntarily becoming the naturalized subject of a foreign country, and under section 7 of the Act of 1870, if not affected by the Act of 1914, a naturalized person in a foreign country, of which he was formerly a subject, loses it if not released.
There is one inconvenience of the limitation of our power of local naturalization - that there is a disinclination on the part of foreign countries to take action on the question of double nationality ; to make provision such as exists between us and the United States of America, for instance, that one nationality goes as soon as the other is acquired. Foreign Governments may object, because any concession that they would get in return might have only a local application in particular parts of the British Dominions, and some of them, therefore, are not inclined to enter into a treaty such as we have had with other countries. The Quarterly Review, of 1st January, 1914, pointed out that -
Foreign Governments could not be expected to agree to cancel the allegiance of their emigrant subjects unless the British Government could offer to those settlers a nationality as ubiquitous in intention as that which they would have lost.
Russia will not allow naturalization of her subjects to be recognised without the permission of the Consul. If a Russian is naturalized here, and leaves our shores, he ceases to be a British subject, and was, until recently - I do not know whether it is so under the new Government - liable to certain penalties on his return to Russia for having evaded military service. The Journal of Comparative Legislation, vol. xxiii, page 137, states on this point -
The acquisition of a new nationality carries with it, theoretically, at least, the necessity to abandon the original nationality. But it must be stated that all States have not recognised yet that a subject of a State possesses the so-called innate or primordial right to renounce his allegiance. Germany still maintains the permanent character of nationality, even when her subjects have obtained effective nationalization in a foreign country, unless they have been authorized to change their nationality, and thus break the original bonds of allegiance. Allegiance is claimed by Argentina and Venezuela from their citizens, even when they have been naturalized in foreign countries.
This, generally correct, may be affected by German legislation of 1913. The Bill provides, on the question of double nationality, that no certificate is to be issued unless the applicant renounces his other nationality. That may not be thoroughly effective, but in administration there will be additional provisions, including one to get over the difficulty created by the Delbruck (German) Act of 1913. That German nationality law makes the acquisition of a foreign nationality one of the causes of loss of German nationality, but provides, at the same time, that if the person naturalized abroad has, before naturalization, applied for and received the written permission of the competent authorities of his home State to retain his nationality, then his German nationality is not lost. That law’ provides that a former German - even if he has not returned to Germany - may be granted direct Imperial nationality. It will be provided in administration - and power to make the provision is taken by this Bill - that we may take certain action in the terms of a recommendation made by the Aliens sub-Committee of the Imperial Reconstruction Committee, that if “ every German applicant for naturalization is compelled to include in his memorial a statement that he has nob applied for or received, and does not intend to apply for, the permission of the authorities of his home State to retain his nationality, then the certificate granted to any such person who does in fact obtain that written permission, will have been obtained by false representations, and can at any time be revoked under Section 7 of the Act of 1914.”
– Is that a sufficient protection ? Ought he not to get some certificate from his own Government that his allegiance to that Government is completely sundered ?
– I quite agree with the honorable member that that would be the most effective protection, and it is for that reason that I referred to the fact that foreign Governments are disinclined, in some cases, owing to local naturalization not being effective, to enter into treaties.
– Ought he not, before he can even apply for naturalization here, to produce evidence that his allegiance to his own country is completely severed ?
– He may not be able to do that.
– What are you going to do to him under your Bill if he does not ?
– We are not necessarily giving a right to naturalization. There are very few naturalized now, because naturalization is granted only in special cases that would lead to some difficulty, which, I am sure, honorable members would agree ought to be removed. I am dealing simply with the right to apply for naturalization. No right to get naturalization is conferred. That is a matter absolutely in the discretion of the GovernorGeneral, and whether a certificate is granted or not rests with the Minister administering the Act. The German Act of 1870, I think, made provision - I have not seen it for two or three years - that a German could get his nationality revoked, and certificates are issued to show that he has done so. The reason was that America required a person to have got rid of his nationality of origin before he could become a naturalized American.
– Why cannot we do the same ?
– If the House wishes to go that length it can be done.
– What objections are there to it?
– I have gone as far as I possibly can at present. I have dealt with some matters that do not seem to relate directly to the Bill, because I desired to lead up to an apprehension of the Imperial position. I do not like to make an alteration of substance that the Imperial Government have not yet made, and as to which Imperial views may differ.
– How would it affect those who have purchased land, and who have not yet got titles?
– There are many cases of hardship created.
– Governments have even made advances to these ,people.
– I have to consider matters of that kind as Minister administering the law under which people are naturalized. The honorable member for Brisbane asked me just now what objections there are. I think on the whole that it is better to wait until we see what drastic amendments, if any, will be made by the Imperial authorities. They have not dealt even in the Act of 1914 with the question of double nationality, and I am putting in provisions which are .not in the Imperial measure.
– Was not that Act passed before the war?
– No, it was passed in August, 1914.
– They had not felt the effects then.
– I quite agree, and some opinions have been expressed that the Imperial authorities when they passed that Act were not quite conscious of the position.
– If a German is naturalized here, do you say that denaturalizes him so far as his own country is concerned ?
– That is the law of Germany, unless under the Delbruck Act he signs with the consul of his country a request to be permitted to retain the nationality that otherwise he would have lost. We are going to oblige him, by Act of Parliament, to renounce his nationality if he applies. In addition, he will make a declaration in the terms of the recommendation of the Aliens SubCommittee of tile Imperial Reconstruction Committee which I quoted just now. I was trying to point out that the reason I have not gone the full length of declaring that there must be evidence that a man has lost his nationality of origin before he cap acquire ours, was that the Imperial Act does not make that provision, and that communications are now passing between us and the Imperial Government which may lead to out introducing a full and comprehensive measure making provision for Empire naturalization, and making such other amendments as may be agreed upon between the Imperial Government and the Commonwealth.
We shall also oblige all future applicants for naturalization to advertise their” intention to’ apply, and that will .afford opportunities to others to make recommendations against naturalization. The applicant must read and write English. In administration more conditions have been attached to naturalization than applied before the -war ; but, as a matter of Statute, only one certificate of character is obligatory, namely, from a justice of ‘ the peace, a police magistrate, a Stateschool teacher, or a police officer. The Bill provides for three certificates of character by three natural-born British subjects, two of whom must be householders and the other a justice of the peace, police magistrate, State-school teacher, or police officer. In addition, the oath of allegiance must be taken after naturalization is approved.
– Why not provide that the certificate of character shall be by freeholders, instead of by householders?
– A person might have a lease for 99 years, which is almost equivalent to a freehold. ‘Section 3 of the Act of 1903 provides that a person who had, before the passing of that Act, obtained a certificate of naturalization from a State, or a colony which had become a State, shall be deemed to be naturalized. The effect of that provision is that, in some States, persons become naturalized under the Act, and in other States they do not. A person must have become naturalized under a certificate of naturalization, but a person might be a British subject through marriage, or by reason of being an infant of .a parent who became naturalized. Section 3 does not validate such naturalization if conferred under a State Act. That disability is removed by a re-draft of the section. In some States, such as New South Wales, the naturalization of “ the parent carries with it the naturalization of the child, but that is not the case in South Australia. The Act provides that an infant whose father or mother, after widowhood or divorce, took out letters of naturalization, shall become naturalized, but if the mother’s naturalization was effected through marriage the infant would not be naturalized. The Bill remedies, that state of affairs. I may here remark that some amendments on the draft of the Bill are still under consideration. I have not had time to circulate them to-day, but I will do so as soon as possible. There may be a doubt as to whether we should deal with’ a measure such as this now, or defer it till a later period.
– We can do so little bow; would it not be better to wait?
– I introduced the Bill in deference to the opinion, that we should have some provision against dual nationality. We are taking precautions in administrative practice, but I thought it would be better .to have a rule enforced by Act of Parliament. I merely mention that the provision in regard to infants is open for discussion, and if honorable members are opposed to it I shall not press it.
– Would not your administrative power be sufficient without this Act?
– Undoubtedly it would in regard to some of the provisions. As a matter of fact, I could confer the opportunity of renunciation by administrative act, but in deference to Parliament, which has done so much in the way of procedure for naturalization, I thought that any substantial change ought to have the sanction of an Act of Parliament. For instance, here is a matter that requires to be dealt with by Statute. Under the present law we have power to revoke letters of naturalization only when they have been obtained by fraud. The Bill confers a general power of revocation, and in war time that may be very necessary. The Imperial Government are considering amendments in the same direction. But I find that they intend to confer power of revocation only for specific causes. I think the clause in the Bill is more effective than the British provision. However, whatever power is to be given in this regard must be conferred by Statute. Grants’ of naturalization will be advertised so that ‘the public may be aware, from moment to moment, of what is taking place.
– In what publication will they be advertised ?
– In the Commonwealth Government Gazette.
– You might as well advertise them in the War Cry.
– I think honorable members of Parliament who are interested in the matter on behalf of the public will read the. Gazette. At present no fee ia charged for naturalization, but I propose to make provision for some fee to be charged. I do not think I need say more at this stage on the general scope of the measure. On a recent Sunday, after an interval of about thirty-five years, I again read Curran’s speech in defence of Hamilton Rohan, and if I can recall one of its passages, it may serve as a quasi-peroration to a rather obscure exposition of the Bill. Curran’s remarks show that some of the men who have stood out most boldly in the matter of emancipation were men like Curran and Grattan, who were born in Ireland. He said -
I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims even to the stranger and sojourner, the moment he sets foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of universal emancipation. No matter in what language bis doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion, incompatible vith freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon’ him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around him; and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of Universal emancipation.
I merely wish to add that one of the sources of the moral strength of the British people in the present war, has been the perhaps ultra-generosity with which we have treated other nations.
Sitting suspended from 6-30 to 7.J/.5 p.m.
.- I do not intend to ask the Minister to postpone consideration of this Bill, though I am not sure it is wise ito go on with a measure of this description until we have learned what action the Imperial Government propose to take on the general question of naturalization. Apparently the Government have come down with this as one of their Win-t he-war measures, though I fail to see how it will bring the war to a successful termination a moment earlier than if it had not been introduced. It appears to be one of the “ stopgap “ Bills, brought in to engage the attention of honorable members while the Government are making up their minds with regard to the more ‘ important and serious matters, such as the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill, on the business paper, and in the discussion of which this House could be very well engaged. I followed the Minister’s explanation of the Bill as well as I was able, and I could not help thinking that he was not expounding the principles of the Bill so much as engaged in dealing with the general question of naturalization. _ He did not explain the difference between this measure and the Act on our statute-book, and I regret that the usual memoranda were not prepared to show the effect of amendments proposed in the existing law.
The first alteration I notice is the repeal of section 6 of the principal Act, and the insertion in clause 4 of revised provisions concerning evidence to be given in support of applications for naturalization, including an advertisement of intention to apply for a certificate of naturalization. I asked, by interjection, if it were intended that the advertisement should appear in the Government Gazette, as I do not think the general public would then be very much the wiser.
– It does not mean an advertisement in the Government Gazette. I was referring to advertisements in the ordinary papers.
– The provision, then, will make the matter of obtaining letters of naturalization rather more difficult than hitherto. When we passed the principal Act in 1903, shortly after the termination of the South African war, we rather prided ourselves, I think, on the fact that we were making naturalization as easy as possible. All honorable members who were in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth will remember how we approached the debate on this subject then.
Mr. Richard Foster__ We dropped the usual fee.
– Yes; the fee usually charged in other countries was abolished in our principal Act.
– You must- remember that the provision as to the reading and writing of English would be a bar.
– I am aware of that. When I was working in the United States of America some years ago, I know that a large number of people came over from Europe, and’ became naturalized. They . thought no more of it than of writing a letter. One day I asked a man, when he came back to work, what happened, and he replied - “ An old bloke sat at the other side of the table, and repeated a whole lot of stuff to me, and said ‘ Queen Victoria ‘ and ‘ President of the United States,’ put up your right hand - one dollar.” That was his idea of swearing allegiance to the President of the United States of America, and forswearing his allegiance to Queen Victoria. I presume that in the
Bill before us it is intended to tighten up the provisions of our existing law.
– Yes, that’ is so.
– The intention, I take it, is to make it more difficult for a foreigner by charging a fee, and then requiring the applicant to advertise his intention to apply for naturalization papers.
– And to cure some anomalies in the present law.
– I do not know if the interjection by the honorable member for Flinders, that we should wait until the Imperial Parliament has legislated on this subject, has any weight, but I understand that, after the war, there will have to be general legislation on this and other subjects of a similar nature. If, however, the Minister says the measure is essential for the removal of some anomalies in our naturalization law, I will not offer any objection.
In clause 5 I notice a provision that the Governor-General shall not issue the certificate until he has received from the applicant a certificate of a Justice of the High Court or a Judge of a Court of a State, or police, stipendiary, or special magistrate, that the applicant has before him renounced his allegiance to the country of which he was, at the time of his making his application, a subject. I presume this provision is intended to prevent a repetition of what has been happening under the Delbruck law in regard to Germans seeking naturalization. After obtaining their certificate papers many of them went to their Consuls, and by entering into certain bonds were able to hold citizenship both of the country in which they were naturalized and of Germany. It seems to me that if they had been accustomed to do that in the past they cannot be trusted not to do it in the future.
– There is no doubt we may not be able absolutely to prevent them, but they must make a declaration before they get a certificate of naturalization.
– The other point that has engaged my attention is contained in clause 6, which repeals section 10 of the principal Act, dealing with children of naturalized persons, and practically reenacts the same section with an alteration providing that any person not being a natural-born British subject, and who has at any time “during infancy” resided in Australia with hL father or mother, shall be deemed to be naturalized in the Commonwealth.- Sub-clauses a and ‘,& are practically the same as in section 10, and, so far as I can gather, the only alteration in the section is the insertion of the words “ during infancy.”
– There are different words, but they had the same effect.
– It might be necessary to define what “infancy “is. I am quite willing that the Minister should have the Bill passed, but I regret that we are unable to go on with those other measures which we were told are urgent as part of the Government’s programme. It seems to me that this Bill is a commentary on the declaration of the Government that they were prepared to go on with legislation for winning the war. Instead of doing that they have brought down this Bill, the object of which is to set right one or two anomalies in our naturalization legislation.
– I rather regret that the Government have brought the measure down, as the Minister admitted that he had the power to do all that was necessary by administration. I gather, from what the Minister said, that for a long time the Imperial Government has discussed with Dominion conferences this question “of a uniform naturalization law throughout the Empire, but with the important reservation that the British authorities did not desire in any way, either directly or indirectly, to interfere with the legislation of the Commonwealth or any other Parliament in the self-governing portions of the Empire. It is sometimes suggested that there is an inclination in London to override our political* institutions, but there never was any ground for such a base and infamous statement. Naturalization in Australia in - pre-war times was as free as the air. I do not know whether both political parties desired to get as many votes as possible, but as far as I can gather, there has never been any diffi_culty in the way of foreigners, including Greeks, getting naturalization papers. That is’ a very undesirable state of affairs. It has always been repugnant to me, as an Australian by adoption, that we have been so ready to barter away our political rights as Britishers, and when we are making an alteration in our naturalization laws we ought to bear this in mind. I do not want to speak dogmatically on this subject - I think it is just as well that this matter should be well debated by honorable members before final judgment is passed upon it - but it always struck’ me that we made a very great mistake as Australians in allowing any foreigners to become naturalized while they ‘still regarded themselves as subjects of the country which they were supposed to renounce r A man cannot be a Frenchman and an Australian at the same time. I asked the Minister what was the naturalization law of France at the present time, and to my great surprise my honorable and learned friend did not seem to know.
– I have read it, but the law has been altered three or four times recently, and I did not wish to make an inaccurate statement concerning it.
– I have always assumed that the honorable and learned gentleman knows nearly everything, and that is why I was so much surprised that he did not appear to know this. My attention was called to this matter not very long ago, and I think that I may say that under the laws of France and Italy, as well as of the other European States, we may naturalize citizens of those countries all day long if we please, but the Governments of those countries will not recognise their naturalization here. The law of France goes, I think, a step further. I know it was stated not long, ago that some eminent military men in the American Army, because they happened to be of French descent, might, under the French naturalization law, be compelled to serve in the French Army if they visited that country. I can mention a case that came under my personal observation to show that the Italian law has some bearing upon the ownership of property. I am acquainted with a young Italian who was naturalizated here under our free system. Some of his brothers and sisters are native-born Australians. He was himself born in Italy, and some time ago he went back to Italy to join the Italian Navy. He served in that navy for three years and then returned to South Australia, where he now resides. I saw him before he went to Italy and asked him why he did not join the English Navy or the Australian Navy since he belonged to us. He replied that if he did not return to Italy and join the Italian Navy certain property belonging to the family would be forfeited.
The Minister’ made reference to the stringency of the Russian law, but I doubt if it is any more stringent than those of other European countries. So far as the naturalization of Germans is concerned, I suppose that no Britisher or Australian would in future take the word or the oath of a German who was prepared to swear that he would no longer be a subject of the German Empire. “We can leave the naturalization of Germans and Austrians out of the question, but it is still undesirable to deal with this matter at the present time. I suggest that the Government would do well to withdraw this measure until after the war. No doubt, the question with which it deals will, after the war, come up for consideration at conferences at which Australia will be represented, and some basic law on the subject of naturalization will be laid down. When the Imperial authorities have agreed upon the principles of a basic law dealing with the question, it will be time enough for us to take up the consideration of it. I confess that at this juncture it gives me no pleasure to criticise the provisions of the French law. It serves no good purpose at this time to mark the differences that exist between ourselves and our Allies on the subject of naturalization. I do not wish it to be inferred that I think that the present Government of France would seek to unduly interfere with Frenchmen or persons of French descent who have been naturalized here. The only point I wish to make is that they apparently claim the power to do “so under their own naturalization law.
I think that we should refuse to naturalize any foreigner unless the authorities of the nation to which he belongs admit his right to renounce his allegiance to it. I understood the Minister to say that he has already the powers he asks for under this Bill, except that it is proposed that every applicant for naturalization must now find three persons to certify to his character. Under the War Precautions Act the Government are able to prevent the naturalization of any persons whom they think should not be naturalized in the interests of the community. If we were living in normal times, there might be some justification for the . introduction of this measure, but these are not normal times, and as the Government have the extreme powers they require, and which, in my opinion, they have so far used with great judgment and wisdom, I think they may be safely allowed to continue the exercise of those powers and postpone the consideration of this question. If they think that the Bill should be gone on with, I shall give them my support as usual, but I prefer that it should be withdrawn, because the present is not an opportune time to deal with the subject of naturalization. It is admitted that the amendment of the naturalization law’ is held in suspense in the Old Country at present, and we should do no harm to hold it in suspense here until after the war.
.- The experience of the last three years has amply demonstrated that the necessity will arise for the revision of our naturalization laws. But I am entirely of the opinion that this is not the time to revise th’em. While the excitement of the war is upon us, and we have, certainly with good reason, a distorted view of the people of enemy countries, we are not in a proper frame of mind to view dispassionately the responsibilities of citizenship as applied to the people of either enemy, allied, or neutral countries. We have an undoubted partiality and friendly feeling towards the people of Russia, France, and Italy at the present time. Conversely we have, and quite naturally and properly, in view of the experience of the last three years, a hateful and unfriendly opinion of our enemies. But a very few years prior to the war our attitude towards our present enemies was just as friendly as it now is towards our Allies. Who will say that not long after the war we shall not be saying of the people of Russia, Italy, and France just what we now. are saying of the Germans? I am anxious that we should be as fair as it is possible for us to be, even in war time, even to those opposed to us.
– We can _ alter our law - if that should appear to be necessary later.
– Quite so, and for that reason I suggest that the consideration of this measure should be delayed until normal conditions are resumed. From the Australian point of view, the citizen of one country is as good or as bad as the citizen of another, and if we postpone the consideration of this question until the war is over, we shall be able to approach it with some judicial fairness. I listened most carefully to the second-reading speech of the Minister’ for Home and Territories, and it gave me the impression that the Bill deals with a question of a highly technical character, more suitable for discussion by the legal than by the lay mind. One cannot but sympathize with the idea that, as far as possible, the naturalization laws of the various parts of the Empire should follow upon generally similar lines It is satisfactory to know that our local autonomy will not be in the least imperilled by any (Imperial Act which may be passed.
The Minister admitted that this Bill covered only a few anomalies, and that he has now a reserve of administrative power that enables him to deal with all these anomalies. In the circumstances I confess that I would much prefer to leave the administration of the naturalization law in the hands of the Minister, with the autocratic powers* which he now possesses, than to pass this Bill at this time to correct a few anomalies. Prior to the war, with very little questioning, we freely granted naturalization to all Europeans, and on the whole I do not think that our liberality in this connexion was greatly abused. The trouble we are in to-day is that the German and Austrian nations, whilst they allow their citizens to secure naturalization in other countries, do not relieve them of their citizen responsibilities to their own countries. It is the double nationality which has thus been brought about that is the cause of much of our trouble. The Russians are no better in that respect than are the Germans, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said that the French law is no better than the German law. It is within my own experience that during the present war the Russian Consul has demanded that Russians, naturalized citizens of this country, should go back to Russia to undertake military service there. He even went the length of asking employers of these Russians to dismiss them from their employment, so that he might be able to force them back to Russia to fight for that country. Either the naturalization of a Russian in Australia gives him Australian rights or it does not.
The ordinary layman entertains the view that once a man becomes naturalized, then, no matter from what country he comes, he is an Australian citizen, with all the rights, privileges, and protection guaranteed to Australian citizens. We have discovered, in an unfortunately lurid way, however, that many of the Germans who have settled in our country are still pledged to allegiance to their mother country, while at the same time they are pledged to give allegiance to Australia and its Government. We have to admit that very many of the Germans settled here have been excellent citizens, although a proportion of them have found the ties of blood-kinship stronger than those of their adopted citizenship in Australia. Obviously, such a position as thatcreated when Germans, pledged to allegiance to this country, are pledged still to owe allegiance to their own country, cannot be tolerated. And to the extent that this Bill provides that men must appear before a Justice to renounce their allegiance to their original Government before they can be naturalized here, it is a necessary and proper safeguard.
I am wondering, however, what the future holds out for us in this respect. I want to talk without any special reference to Germans on the one hand or to Russians or French on the other. We have a tremendous tract of country, full of wealth andnatural possibilities ; but we have to admit that, while the 5,000,000 people of Australia have done remarkably good work, have shown to the world what a virile, healthy, and vigorous people may do, at the present rate of progress we are a long way from effectively occupying and developing the country. We have to obtain more population, and the sooner we get it the better for the future of Australia. Next to the Australian-born citizen, I think it will be admitted that our own kith and kin from the British Isles are the most acceptable immigrants to this country. It is equally obvious, however, that after the war Great Britain will not have so many men available that she will be willing to part with many of them. Whilst we are told in the press that, after the war, the British Government will place no obstacle in the way of families emigrating to British Dominions, we can well understand that, for the sake of the safety and development of the Home Country, they will not offer them any special facilities. Even if they were prepared to do so, the number of emigrants from the British Isles would not mean very much in the aggregate. It would, of course, be of considerable assistance to Australia, but would not help us very much in the big development schemes that we ought to be undertaking. Where then are we to obtain citizens? We have decided that Africans and Asiatics shall not be allowed to come in. We believe that European peoples are suitable for the settlement of this country.
– But we do not want too many southern Europeans.
– I think some limitation should be placed on the number of southern Europeans entering Australia. The Germans as a whole, apart from their naturalization ideas, which we think; are entirely wrong, are much better colonists than are people from southern Europe. That I think has been proved. But there seems to be nothing but danger attaching to the admission of the people of any European country to the rights of Australian citizenship, so long as any authority holds over them allegiance to their Mother Country.
That brings me to the point that we cannot have two classes of citizens in Australia. The people must either be Australians or aliens. We must either assimilate or reject. At present, however, we have in Australia three classes of citizens. We have the honest, naturalized citizen, who is a genuine Australian - who has renounced his native country and takes no cognizance ofwhat is going on there. Then, unfortunately, we have others - too many of them - who profess allegiance to Australia while in their hearts they hold allegiance to the enemy countries from which they come. Thirdly, we have the unnaturalized citizens, for whom I have no respect.
– The honorable member must not forget that we have in Australia some people whom the law will not allow to take out naturalization papers.
– I am aware of that. In that connexion there is one class that the Minister might favorably consider.We have here a number of people. - mostly elderly - who camefrom European countries in the early days, and who, while naturalization was dealt with by the State authorities, neglected to take out - or, for some reason, were misled in regard to the securing of - naturalization papers. There are some people who came from Schleswig-Holstein at an historical period.
– When was that?
– In 1863.
– Not many of thos© people are alive to-day.
– I think a good many are still living. They were allowed to come here, to acquire property, and to vote at municipal and State parliamentary elections. From their point of view that seemed practically to make them citizens of this country. Many of them entered municipal councils.
– Some entered i!he State Parliaments.
– Some of them entered State Parliaments,- but afternaturalization was taken over by the Commonwealth they discovered that they had failed tlo take out naturalization papers. Some consideration might well be extended to these people. They were neglectful, no doubt, bub were honestly misled by the fact that they were exercising all the rights and privileges of citizenship, although they were without the piece of paper which guaranteed them naturalization. There is at the back of our minds one fact that we cannot forget. We denounce Germany, and rightly so, for her dishonorable conduct in regard to the Belgium treaty. We denounce her for having treated as a mere “ scrap of paper “ the sacred promise which she, with other nations, gave to Belgium. We need to be careful, however, that we do not fall into the same error. There is in this country too big a tendency to treat as mere scraps of paper, liable to be torn up at any time, our guarantees to people of enemy birth who have become naturalized. We ought to ‘take up an honest attitude.
My feeling is that there should be in our Naturalization Act a provision that, in the event of war between the British Empire and any other country, then people from that country who have been naturalized here shall automatically lose their citizenship rights, in Australia until the war is over. Here to-day we are differentiating in a way 4han is causing a considerable amount of uneasiness, and which is neither correct nor just. There are in Australia some people who hold, naturalization papers which guarantee to them the rights of Australian citizenship, and they are exercising those rights and privileges. There are others, however, who have been deprived of them. Any man. whether he be an alien or a naturalized citizen, who is obviously disloyal, or who can be proved tlo be disloyal to the King or the country at such a time as this, can have no sympathy extended to him. But it should either be a case of “all in” or “all out.” It is impossible to be just in your differentiation. Iti would be a far more understandable position if we declared in our naturalization laws that where, for any unfortunate reason, the British Empire comes into conflict with any other power, then people who have come from that country, and who hold naturalization papers here, shall automatically lose their citizenship rights while the war is on. That would relieve us of much difficulty, such as we have had during the present war.
On the occasion of the Military Service Referendum, we deprived of the right to vote thousands of Australian citizens against whose loyalty nothing could be said, bu’b who were under suspicion of disloyalty because they had been born in’ enemy countries. During the last election, there was another deprivation of citizenship rights because these people happened to have been born in enemy countries. If that can be justified - and in some instances it can be absolutely justified - iti would be more honest to recognise that, whether these people be responsible or. not, the call of the blood, the call of country, is the strongest in human nature. If we were in an enemy country to-day, our sympathies would still be with our own country. It would be a shameful thing if they were not. How then,- can we complain of ‘these people, who were born in an enemy country, because they have some sympathy with their own land ?
– They have renounced their allegiance to their own country.
-=-They have not. That is the trouble.
– If the honorable member lived in Germany for ten years, he would still be a Scotsman.
– Undoubtedly ; and even if I had become a naturalized citizen of that country my loyalty to my own native land would still be the strongest element iri me. The only feature of .this Bill that seems to me to make ib worth while passing is that it provides that every person who,- in the future, seeks naturalization in Australia must, in a legal, special, and particular manner, renounce his ‘ allegiance to his native country.
I do not suggest that we should close the door too tightly against those who wish to come to Australia. If our naturalization he lightly given it will be just as lightly held. What people ob- - tain easily they value least. I do not suggest that we should slam the door in the face of either Germans on the one hand, or Russians on the other, of either Italians on the one hand orAustrians on the other. But we have every reason to be careful that we do not extend to anybody and everybody in the free and easy fashion of the past, the rights of citizenship. I’ think there is some reason for making rather more stringent legislative provisions in regard to naturalization than we have made hitherto. If the people of other nations understood clearly that when they came to Australia they could get citizenship rights only by renouncing their allegiance to their own country, and knew that those citizenship rights would be suspended in time of war, they would know exactly where they were, and we would know exactly where we were. At the present time, however, our Naturalization Act seems to be in a sort of “ come easy, go easy “ position. Then the Bill provides that in the future a fee shall be charged for naturalization..
– Another shame.
– I do not see what advantage will be conferred by that provision. The Bill does not specify the amount of the fee. It merely says “ such fee as is prescribed.” Personally, I do not see what advantage will be derived from the charging of a fee. It cannot be made for revenue purposes.
– It will merely mean paying for the record.
– But persons who desire to take out naturalization papers will necessarily be subjected to disabilities which will involve them in a certain amount of expenditure. I do not suggest that we should adopt the American system of granting naturalization to anybody who is prepared to pay one dollar for the privilege. The Minister did not mention what is the purpose of this fee, nor did he specify its amount. In my judgment, the amount of the fee ought not to be prescribed by regulation. It should be embodied in the Bill.
I do not think that the anomalies which the measure is intended to correct warrant us in tinkering with such an important question as natu ralization. The matter is one which is bound to crop up in the near future. Imperial Conferences that have already been held have realized its importance, and the difficulties surrounding it, and we might well have left it to be dealt with by another Imperial Conference. After all, the Australian view of this matter is practically on all fours with the view that is. entertained by other British Dominions. We are all practically in the same boat, and what will appeal to one will largely influence the others.
Then I ask the Minister whether any provision has been made for something in the nature of a reciprocal recognition of naturalization rights between the Commonwealth and New Zealand?
– Not in this Bill.
– Has it been made anywhere ?
– No. That will be dealt with in a larger measure, which I have already drafted. But a communication from Home induced me to proceed with this Bill.
– No doubt the Minister has some inside information on this matter. But I do not think there will be the slightest objection to a mutual recognition between Australia and New Zealand of their naturalization papers and rights. That is one of the things which will tend to draw New Zealand and Australia closer together. Our interests in the Pacific are so mutually advantageous that it seems to me it would be wise for us to cultivate every kind of reciprocal arrangement that is possible with New Zealand, conserving at the same time our own particular interests. I hope that when this matter again comes under review the Minister will consider how far we may meet the other parts of the Empire in a mutual arrangement under which naturalization rights will be uniform throughout.
.- It is not often that a naturalization measure comes before Parliament for review, and that an opportunity is presented to honorable members to express the views which they entertain in regard to it.
– Another foreigner speaking.
– Nobody would regard the honorable member as a foreigner. He would be branded as a Hottentot. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane that the mere act of naturalization will never remove from the man who naturalizes his love of his country or the allegiance which he feels he owes to that country. Now, of all countries in the world, Germany has the most up-to-date and the best naturalization law of its kind, because it says to its citizens, “Before you leave Germany, if you wish to naturalize in another country, you have the opportunity of denaturalizing here.” It is about the only country in the world which has a denaturalization law. But when a man has once denaturalized, he is regarded as a foreigner if he returns to Germany.
– Can he not denaturalize again?
– I understand that he can do so through the Commonwealth.
– The generally accepted law of the nations of Europe is that they own the citizens who leave their country for three generations. The Germans hold that, the French hold it, and the British hold it. As an illustration, let me relate an incident which occurred during the Franco-Prussian war. The French attempted to conscript a Paris solicitor who had never been out of that city and who could not speak a word of English. To all intents and purposes he was a Frenchman. When the authorities endeavoured to put the conscription law into force against him, he said, “I am a British subject.” He said it in French. Their answer was, “ Your father was born in Paris.” “Yes,” he replied, “but my grandfather was an Englishman who was not naturalized in France, and the British naturalization law claims me as a British subject.” The matter was referred, through the British ambassador, to the British Government, and it declared the man to be a British subject, and, as such, not liable to the French conscription law.
– The British law has been modified by an Act of 1914, and Britishers living abroad remain Britishers for two generations.
-America, reaching out for population to fill the country, was prepared to admit anybody to citizenship, and the States of Australia have followed American rather than British practice in this matter.
In my opinion the wisest method to adopt would be not to grant naturalization to any foreigner until the nation from which he came had ceased to have a hold on him - that is, not until the fourth generation.
– Then we could not give votes to those living here.
– What does that matter? The fact that some Germans have had the right to vote in this country since the war broke out has been a curse. to it. There should have been no such thing as a “ German vote.” If Germans wish to exercise the franchise, let them vote in Germany. We might well give foreigners living here the ordinary rights and privileges of citizenship excepting the franchise, allowing them the right to vote only after they have been naturalized, when by the evolution of time, their own country has no longer any claim on them. I have heard it said that Australian-born Germans have acted worse in some cases than naturalized persons born in Germany.
– I, for one, do not believe it.
– I know of instances.
– It has not been the rule.
– I would not formulate a rule from my small knowledge of Australian Germans, but I know of cases such as I have referred to, and the honorable gentleman has seen reports in the newspapers showing that some of those born in Australia of German parents have displayed greater antipathy to Great Britain than persons born in Germany. I know of Australian-born Germans of the honorable member’s own constituency, who are fighting in the German army against us. No doubt they hope to return to this country when the war is over, thinking that their action will not be known, and that they can resume the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship.
– Treat them as the Duke of Edinburgh’s children should be treated - as traitors.
– When the war is over different ideas will prevail. Our Allies of to-day have been our bitter enemies in the past. No one can foretell the future. But I believe in the good old Scotch precept, “ When you are in it, you are in it for all you are worth.” The Germans being our enemies to-day, it is our business to get them “ down and out “ as soon as we can. We should not allow foreigners to be naturalized too easily. We should fill this country, so far as we can, with people of our own race, so that we may have a homogeneous people. We shall still have our differences, as they have in the home of the race, but our ideals, our standards of life, our hopes and aspirations will be the same. It may take longer to fill the country with our own people than with foreigners, but we shall thereby avoid difficulties such as those with which they are at present beset in America, where you hear of “ GermanAmericans,” and there is the fear that a. large, force may be raised in the country itself to destroy the State. We shall act unwisely if we fill this country with foreigners, having ideals and manners of life quite different from our own. .
.- I agree with a great deal that has fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Henty. I have, perhaps, more knowledge of Australianborn Germans than any other member. I know that a workman’s club has sent many of its young men to fight on our side. No objection was raised against them, because they went as privates. I know another German who tried to make his name rhyme with the glorious Scottish name of Bruce. His real name is Bruche, and he is a man whose word I would not trust. When examined by a Commission consisting of members of this House, he absolutely sought to deceive us.
– Where is this man now ?
– He, instead of being dismissed, was sent to the Front. On oath he declared that he could not give the name of the house in which he lived, until a young man, who had the misfortune to bear an Irish name, and who had come under the lash of his cowardly cruelty, reminded him. He left Western Australia and went to Adelaide, being wise enough to take a Scotch name. Within a week he was raised from the rank of private. Later he had to return to Western Australia for a rest. The infamy was so great that the Defence Department held an inquiry into the matter. This Bruche is now an officer at the Front,, although the Commander-in-Chief has been told that he is of German parentage. I, with others, brought a matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence. I was simply asked to’ join the body of gentlemen because I belonged to the then Labour Party, and the satisfaction we got was that the man was withdrawn from the West. When Bruche was in the witness box and young O’Donnell asked him if he remembered the name of the house he lived in, he said ‘‘No.” “Was it Breslau ?” he was asked, and he said “ Yes.” When he was faced with a description of his office where the young man interviewed him, and where he said that he never saw him, he admitted everything. O’Donnell asked Bruch e if he could possibly be in that place without the permission of the officer in charge, and Bruche said “No.” “ Could I have got in there in the daytime or at night-time?” asked O’Donnell, and Bruche said “No.” O’Donnell then said, “Do you know anybody else who has never been in your room and who has described the room as I have?” and Bruche said “ No.” O’Donnell was there. Luckily he got a chance. I believe that he has received a commission, and gone to the Front, in spite of three German men who were officers there. Who were they ? Bruche, Buttner, and Strenke; but, of course, they were officers. Their action recalls that swell German doubledealer who, swearing the oath of naturalization, taking the name of Edwards, and then joining the Automobile Corps, and, I believe, also the Intelligence Department, to learn every road in Victoria in case of need, was allowed to resign from the Army and Navy Club, that club of frills and feathers. He was interned, is allowed £600 a year, and is the “boss cockie,” spending the money. Colonel Monash, reaching the rank of Colonel, although never having volunteered for the Boer War, did not ask for him to be expelled from the Army and Navy Club, but he did ask for the expulsion of a man who had the pluck to go to the Cape and fight, and was honored by the British Government with the disposal of over £9,000,000 of money. Of course, he was not a friend of Colonel Monash, Colonel Hughes, nor Colonel Burston. These others are men of high rank. One high officer says that if God spares his life, when he and his mates, come over here he will have an inquiry held. Colonel Monash earned the name in Gallipoli of being the “ Sand-bag General.”
My honorable friend, who has charge of this Bill, has never forgiven the women of this country for being born women.
– I am very glad that they were.
– The honorable and learned member does not recognise fully here that a woman is a citizen equally with a man. He is debarring women of the rights which men have - not wilfully on his part, but, if I may say so, through following too closely the example of England, which has always been brutal in her treatment of the weaker sex. A woman is treated in England as only a chattel belonging to man.
Honorable Members. - Oh!
– I repeat that in England women are only considered fit to be put among criminals and lunatics, and are not allowed to have a vote.
– They are not admitted to Parliament.
– I So not think that in England they will admit women to Parliament either; but what can we expect from a franchise which I have dared any member of this House to deny-
– Order ! I am afraid that the honorable member is wandering from the question before the House.
– I propose to link up my remarks with the fact that that is how naturalization is not granted there to women in the same way as it is granted to men, and how a woman sacrifices her nationality by marrying a foreigner. I maintain that if an Australian woman honours a foreigner by marrying him, she is a full citizen, and the fact should naturalize him and make him an Australian. Surely if a foreigner is worthy of a good Australian girl’s liking and desire, he is good enough to be an Australian, other things being equal? Oh, no! The wife becomes a foreigner, and I resent that fact, as I believe every honest man in our community does. If a woman was unfortunate enough to marry an alien enemy from, say, Germany, she was immediately deprived of her rights and made a German. God never made her a German, but man’s law does. This Bill still carries on that infamy. When we reflect that in England only one man out of three is entitled to a vote, we must recognise that the old Roman law making a woman subservient to man is carried down to its utmost limit.
Time was in Victoria when we used to charge a sovereign to naturalize a person, and then, if he only went over the Murray to New South Wales, he had to become naturalized again. Further, if he went to Queensland, or to New Zealand, he had to be naturalized again. That absurdity I tried to break down in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and succeeded so far that we reduced the naturalizationfee from £1 to 2s. 6d., but the naturalization was only good within the confines of our little State. That further absurdity, by the wisdom of the Commonwealth . Government, has been abrogated and any foreigner who is naturalized in a State is a full naturalized Australian citizen. I understand that since 1st January, 1915, such persons are entitled to naturalization in Great Britain and Ireland.
– Who are?
– Any foreigner who has been naturalized in the Commonweal th.
– No; but they accept the. certificate of naturalization, as we do, as some evidence.
– And then the holders take out another form?
– It does not confer naturalization.
– No; but it enables the holders of that evidence to apply for another paper which gives naturalization to them.
As regards the cost, this statement appears on page 423 of Whitaker’s Almanac -
An alien may acquire British nationality -
by special Act of Parliament;
by the conquest, annexation, or cession of the territory of which he is an inhabitant;
in the case of a woman, by marriage with a British subject; and
The fee payable to the Home Office in respect of the grant of a certificate of naturalization is fixed by the Government of the day, and is at present £3, of which £1 is payable on submission of the application, and the remainder on the grant of the certificate. The £1 payable on submission of the application is not returnable, whether or not a certificate is granted.
N.B. - In the case of a woman who was a British subject previously to her marriage to an alien, and whose husband has died, or whose marriage has been dissolved, the above requirements, both as to residence and as to fee, are relaxed.
In this community there are both men and women whose forebears, being foreigners and residing in Great Britain and Ireland, were not able to afford the fee of £5 5s. and to become naturalized. Hence during the whole term of their residence they were not able to exercise the full rights of citizenship. Sons came out to Australia, and with the easier justice which our laws gave to them, they wonder sometimes when they write to England and find that members of their family are still foreigners there through the inability of their parents to afford that sum of money. I wish to use that as an argument against the last clause of this Bill, to which the honorable member for Brisbane drew attention. This clause, paragraph 6, proposes to omit from section 12, sub-section 2. of the original Act, the words, “ not be liable to any fee or charge in respect thereof,” and to insert in their stead the words, “ be charged such fee as is prescribed.” Section 12 provides that a person to whom a certificate of naturalization is issued shall not be liable to any fee or charge therefor, and I hope that the Minister will see his way not to press the proposed amendment.
– It is merely a power that is taken, and it does not follow that any fee will be imposed.
– If the honorable gentlemen were the permanent head of the Department I should be willing to accept the clause as it stands, but my experience of political life tells me that where our intention is not clearly expressed it frequently happens in a case of this kind, that a charge may be imposed by regulation at the whim of a Ministers
The Naturalization Act that we have at present is a great advance on former legislation, and it has given our citizens fuller rights than are given in any country in the world, save the United States and Switzerland. Further, I hope that we shall hold out the hand of fellowship to New Zealand, and seek for some reciprocity in this matter. I should here like to thank the Minister for, in this connexion, having rendered justice to a man who was placed in a very critical position. In the New Zealand letters of naturalization, the place of birth of the man or woman is not always shown, and difficulties will arise sometimes that are almost insuperable unless one can obtain the sympathetic help of the Minister in charge. Clause 4 of the Bill provides that a person who was, before the passing of the measure, naturalized in a State, or in a Colony which has become a State, shall be deemed to be naturalized, and I suggest that it would be well to here insert the words “ including New Zealand.” Whether New Zealand will reciprocate is beside the question. The people of the Dominion come from the same four little Kingdoms, which are holding aloft the standard of liberty in the northern seas, and we could well offer them the clasp of friendship. We all recognise that if the dominion of the Pacific should pass away from the United States and Australia, we should certainly go down, unless the flag of New Zealand were kept flying. The small courtesies of life frequently make existence more endurable and pleasurable, and, with all due deference, I suggest the amendment I have indicated.
The English law is -
In order to be eligible for the grant of such a certificate in the United Kingdom, an alien must -
during the eight years preceding his application have resided for not less than five years in His Majesty’s Dominions (of which not less than one year immediately preceding the application must have been spent in the United Kingdom), or have been for not less than five years in the service of the Crown;
be of good character and have an adequate knowledge of the English language; and
intend to reside in His Majesty’s Dominions or to enter or continue in the service of the Crown.
I do not see any great objection to the term of five years, but if it be adopted for people from enemy countries, it should be applied only to persons under forty years of age, who have not seen fit to become naturalized. I should certainly not like to see it apply to those who have been here for half a lifetime, and are of advanced years. I hope that if this term is insisted on, a shorter one will be adopted in the case of our Allies, and my own opinion is that two years would be ample for people from the liberty -loving land of France, or our Allies of Russia, Servia, Belgium, Italy, and particularly the United States of America. In the
House of Lords or the House of Commons it -was suggested that there should be a system of reciprocity in citizenship between the United States of America and the British Empire, and I .certainly hope that the extended term of residence will not be applied in the case of Americans.
– There are treaties between the British Empire and the United States on the point.
– Language is the greatest power in the assimilation of discordant factors in a nation. The English language has conquered the four Kingdoms of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and it will absolutely conquer in the United States, even with its great mixture of nationalities.
We should see to it that the- German language is not taught in our schools, and in this regard the University of Melbourne is one of the greatest offenders, for there no student can pass the Senior Public Examination in modern languages unless he includes German. It is all very well for professors on the platform to honestly advocate their theories, but why do they not allow students to choose Russian, Italian, or even Japanese, considering that Japan is our ally, and doing splendid work? It is to be hoped that the spread of the German language will not receive the assistance it has in the past.
In conclusion, I hope that the period of residence, and the question of the fees, will be further considered.
– There are various charges made in the States, ranging from £1 to 2s. 6d.
– That is so. It was I who was instrumental in having the fee reduced to 2s. 6d. in Victoria, and, as I say, I hope the Minister will give the suggestion I have made his favorable consideration.
– No doubt a good deal of the Bill might be dealt with by administrative act, but there are some clauses that- remove anomalies. For instance, a woman may be a British subject in New South Wales but not throughout the Commonwealth, owing to the way section 3 of the Act of 1903 is drafted, and I am removing that anomaly. There is no power, except for fraud, to revoke certificates of naturalization in war time. It has been considered expedient by the Imperial Government, although they have not amended their own Act yet, and we ought to consider it expedient also, to take power in special circumstances to revoke letters of naturalization. That power is taken by the Bill. I mentioned the precautions that we have taken as regards grants by compelling advertisement’s to appear in the newspapers, and thus giving generally to persons the opportunity to make representations against naturalization, which will be considered by the Minister before any grant is made.
The main point raised during the discussion was as to the laws of other countries, and I might refer honorable members to what the position really is. The honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke about the French law. This, I think, has been amended on some points since the war, but not on any points pertinent to this debate. I remember that at the beginning of the war a proposal was submitted to the French Parliament to ‘take power to cancel naturalization, but it had a limited application. It applied practically only to men convicted of disloyalty, or criminals. There was a discussion in the French Chamber on the matter of revocation of certificates of persons of enemy origin who preserved their former nationality, but I am not sure whether a Bill was passed or not. It has also been suggested that in some cases a provision such as we are putting in this Bill might be incorporated as regards German nationality, but generally in France if a French subject goes abroad and gets naturalized he loses his French nationality, and that practically is the Continental system. In the last edition of Wheaton’s International Law it is stated that a Frenchman may, by the ‘ law of France, divest himself of his nationality in several ways, amongst which are the following: - (1) By naturalization abroad; (2) by accepting a public office under a foreign- Government without permission of his own Government; (3) by accepting military service under a foreign Government without the authorization of his own Government, but) here he remains subject to penalties to which he may be liable under French law, while emigration, with a view to evading military service, will also subject the emigrant to penalties if he returns to France within a certain period. France is therefore now practically in the British position of declaring that where a French subject has become naturalized .abroad there cannot be double allegiance. He ceases to owe allegiance tb France, but if by leaving and getting naturalized he has evaded the law of military service, he will be liable to military service if they get him within the jurisdiction again.
I looked up’ the German law three years ago, but the subject includes such a mass of detail that one cannot recall all the little differences. In 1870 Germany passed an Act that a man leaving might get a cancellation of his German nationality. That was the time when there was a recasting of the rules and laws regarding naturalization in some countries of Europe, and it was then that our Imperial Act of 1870 was passed. That German Act provided that a man might cancel his nationality on condition that he must get naturalized with some other country within six months. This was probably to enable Germans to become citizens of the United States of America. The United States of America practically provide for what I am providing in this Bill - they oblige a man to renounce his nationality.
– That was the law so far as Germany was concerned. They had not only to renounce their own nationality in Germany, but to be naturalized abroad.
– I was dealing with the position of ‘German immigrants in the United States of America, because what concerns us is the relation to Germany of men who come from Germany to settle here.
– Do you recollect the recent pronouncement of the German Con.sul that they never lose their. German nationality ?
– I have looked the matter up, and I think I know fairly well what the German law is. I have not only seen some ex-German consuls, but I have known a case in which a man had been dismissed from his nationality.
The United States Act of 1906 provides that a man desiring to be naturalized in the United States of America shall “ declare an oath, before the clerk of any Court authorized by this Act to naturalize aliens, or his authorized deputy, in .the district in which such alien resides, two years at least prior to his admission, and after he has reached the age of eighteen years, that it is his bond fide intention to become a citizen of the United States of America, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, and particularly by name to the Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty of which the alien may at the time be citizen or subject.” I have adopted that in this Bill, because we compel’ a man now, before be can be naturalized here, to renounce his allegiance to a foreign State, but you can never completely cancel his allegiance to a foreign State, execept by a treaty arrangement with that State, and we are not in a position to get those treaties made now. I am endeavouring, however, to go as far as I possibly can, and that is the reason this Bill is introduced.
In addition to the renunciation provided by Act, I shall provide by departmental regulation or procedure, that the applicant for naturalization must make a declaration that he is not going to take advantage of such an Act as the Delbrück Act’ of 1913, under which a German citizen, who may have lost his nationality by dismissal, by absence for ten years from Germany, or by any other reason, may get his nationality restored, and also that he will not attempt to put his name on the consular books to preserve his nationality after he has come here, or before he has left, Germany. I have gone as far as constitutional or international procedure will permit to attain the end we desire - that is, to prevent double allegiance being possible here.
– Do not they penalize or ostracize a German in Germany if he goes away from his country and renounces his nationality ?
– There is a provision in the Germein Act of 1870 which permits “that to be done. The British Act of 1914 contains a provision that the moment a man becomes naturalized in another country he loses his British nationality. German legislation provides .the same thing, but the Act of 1913 allowed a man to enter his name on the consular books, or in the books of some of the home authorities in Germany, before he felt, to retain his nationality.
– Was there not something similar in the British Act !
– The reason why I went into these somewhat abstruse details of the history of the- question is that I might bring honorable members to an understanding of the amendments. The rule in 1870 was that no man could divest himself of his nationality. Once a British subject always a British- subject. Britain has been, the quickest nation to respond to what are considered the more liberal ideas in regard to naturalization. Germany has been slower, but to some extent has followed our lead by allowing in certain the divestment of nationality. According te Wheaton -
German nationality may be lost - by express deprivation for not performing military service; by residing abroad, and failing to return when notified in time of war; by ten years’’ uninterrupted residence abroad .without registering at a German Consulate; by entering the service of a foreign State, and not renouncing it on demand of the home Government.
– But not by naturalization.
– The Delbrück Act contains that provision. The point is that Germans can preserve their nationality or, under the Delbrück Act, can have it restored.
– There was a provision whereby it was necessary for a German to deliberately renounce his nationality in order to make naturalization ‘ effective.
– Under Germany’s previous law, Germans lost their nationality by an absence of ten years, but I think the Delbrück Act was passed to remedy that,, and it also contained a provision which, enabled naturalized Germans, to regain their lost nationality. That is the obnoxious provision.
Sir- William Irvine. - Is it not a fact that in- the Franco-German war, and in the present war, Germans have been called to the colours after am, absence from Germany of more than ten years?
– I cannot say, but I have shown that in- France, although a man,, by becoming naturalized abroad, loses his citizenship, he cannot by so doing evade the obligation of the- military law. He can be recalled to France.
– After he has los* his nationality 1
– It seems to me that so long as a person owes allegiance in any form to another country it is. danger- ‘ous to naturalize him.
– I agree with the honorable’ member, and I am endeavouring to cur© that evil so far as. our legislative power will permit, but I cannot get rid of it altogether because we have no jurisdiction, and I say, with all respect,, that the Imperial Government has been rather lax in this respect. The Imperial Government has never dealt with the matter of double nationality in an effective way,, and,, if Parliament passes this Bill, we shall have the most, effective law in the British Empire for preventing the restoration of nationality.
– Can you do it effectively ?
– I am proposing to do it as well as it has been done in America. The United States Act actually contains this very provision for renunciation that I. am proposing, and I am also providing that- we will not grant naturalization, notwithstanding renunciation,, unless the applicant makes a declaration which gets rid of . the effect of the Delbrück Act.
– But the obligation of the military law will still remain.
– Although we have not the omnipotence that will enable us to cure an acknowledged evil,, it is incumbent on a member of Parliament to do whatever his legislative power will allow him to do in that direction. I think the American legislation of 1906 is a justification for the attitude I take up. I. hope there will be no misunderstanding on this point. The limitation of this Bill’ is not a limitation of desire but a limitation of necessity, because of the absence of power.
I do not wish to weary honorable members by quoting the laws of Europe, but practically the same position obtains throughout Europe, namely, that by naturalization abroad nationality is lost ; but conscript nations provide that their subjects cannot by naturalization abroad evade the military law. Britain, with a higher ethical perception, has declared that immediately a British citizen becomes naturalized abroad he loses his nationality and has no further obligation to the British flag. We are not going to hold on to men who are traitors by action,, whatever class of men they may be. The British Empire has. shown its capacity tofight under the most extreme difficulties for a noble ideal, and with the most effective application of moral force. That redounds to our credit. Realizing our position in the Empire, I am proposing to go as far as our legislative power will permit to remedy the defects of foreign law. The second reading of this Bill was brought on sooner than I expected, and I have not had time to circulate the modifications I shall propose to two of the clauses.
– If you had been more prepared for the Bill you would have given us a still more elaborate exposition.
– What, I have said was intended to lead up to an elucidation of the Imperial law. I do not regard this Bill as a subject for persiflage, or, in the words of The Vicar of Wakefield, as an opportunity for “ the ladies to continue the conversation, but not the argument.” In Committee I shall explain the alterations I shall propose to the Bill as drafted.
I should be very glad if I were in a position to introduce a comprehensive Bill adopting the provisions of Part II. of the Imperial Act of 1914, so as to enable us> to issue a certificate that would be valid throughout the Empire, and would be acknowledged, subject to the law of other nations, throughout the world; but at this stage I do not think we should do that, for the reason that communications are passing between the Imperial Government and the Commonwealth Government which may necessitate some amendment of that portion of the Imperial Act which we shall have to adopt to attain that end. But the provisions in the Bill now before us do not to any extent interfere with what the Imperial Government might do itf that regard. They are rather an advance in some directions, and for that reason I thought it better to submit the best amending law that is possible in the circumstances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Persons naturalized in a State deemed to be naturalized).
.- I would like to know if there is any objection to accepting a New Zealand naturalization certificate.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas- Minister for think it would be wise to make that addi tion because the Bill aims at correcting anomalies in our own legislation. When we bring in a more elaborate Bill the evil referred to may be cured. Naturalization throughout the Empire will be conferred when we adopt the Imperial Act.. -New Zealand naturalization stops at New Zealand, and I do not think we have power to declare it effective in Australia, though there may be doubt on this point. It will be a pity to insert a provision as suggested, in this clause. Our existing law provides that persons naturalized through certificates of naturalization are naturalized for the purposes of our Act of 1903. That is to say, naturalization effected in any of the States is deemed to be effective, but some people were naturalized not under certificates of ‘ naturalization, but by marriage, with the result that a woman under the New South Wales naturalization law may be a naturalized British subject in that State, but not in Victoria, unless she became naturalized under our Act. It was to cure that anomaly that this modification was adopted. I ask the honorable member not to introduce any extraneous matter with the object of arranging that naturalization in New Zealand shall be effective here. The conditions in the Dominion are different, and we have no diplomatic arrangements to accomplish the end sought, but as soon as the more comprehensive Bill is brought in, this may be done.
.- The difficulty mentioned by the Minister could be overcome by inserting- a new clause providing that any one holding naturalization papers for New Zealand should be entitled ito receive Commonwealth naturalization papers. Prior to the passing of our principal Act there were different naturalization laws in all the States, with the result that while a man might be a British subject in Victoria, he would be regarded as a foreigner in New South Wales. We wiped that ridiculous anomaly out when we passed our principal Act, and I want now to see reciprocal legislation with regard to New Zealand.
– I agree that the conditions for the admission of nationality ought to be the same if there is reciprocity, and I assure the honorable member that when an occasion arises we will do it.
– Iintend to test the feeling of the Committee by moving to insert a new clause at a later stage.
– If we accept New Zealand naturalization papers, why not the papers of every other British Dominion.
– The Minister for Customs knows that South Africa is very different from New Zealand. It is not a part of Australasia. I would be perfectly willing to make our legislation reciprocal with that of Fijialso.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section 6 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following sections inserted in its stead: - 6. (1) An applicant under paragraph (a) of the preceding section shall produce in support of his application his own statutory declaration stating his name, age, birthplace, occupation, and residence, the length of his residence in Australia, and such other particulars as are prescribed, and that he intends to settle in the Commonwealth.
An applicant under paragraph (b) of the preceding section shall produce in support of his application -
his certificate or letters of naturalization; and
his own statutory declaration that he is the person named in the certificate or letters, that he obtained the certificate or letters without any fraud or intentional false statement, that the signature and seal (if any) thereto are, to the best of his knowledge and belief, genuine, and such other particulars as are prescribed, and that he intends to settle in the Commonwealth.
In addition to compliance with the preceding provisions of this section an applicant shall -
advertise in the manner prescribed his intention to seek naturalization and produce to the Minister newspapers containing copies of the prescribed advertisement;
produce certificates of character from three naturalborn British subjects, two of whom are householders, and one of whom is a justice of the peace, a postmaster, a teacher of a State school, or an officer of police; and
satisfy the Minister that he is able to read and write English. 6a. (1) Any person may make representations to the Minister with regard to any person who has applied or has advertised his intention to apply for naturalization.
The representations shall be in the form of a statutory declaration.
The contents of any statutory declaration filed with the Minister in pursuance of this section shall not be disclosed to any person without the consent of the person making the declaration other than for the purpose of a prosecution for perjury.
.- I should like a statement from the Minister indicating how many newspapers it is proposed that an applicant for naturalization shall advertise in. I have also looked through our Invalid and Old-age Pensions, War Pensions, and Electoral Acts which contain similar provisions concerning officials who may witness certificates to see in what respect this Bill differs from them. When I was Minister for Customs I was permitted to fill up pension forms for people I had known for a number of years, but I was not allowed to witness their signatures, though any officer of the Customs Department was so authorized. An applicant may have no difficulty in obtaining a certificate of character from two householders, but he may not be sufficiently well known to either a justice of the peace, a postmaster, a teacher of a State school, or an officer of the police to expect such a certificate from either of them.
– In the Electoral Act there is a very long list of persons who may be applied to by those desiring the right to vote.
– That is so, and I ask the Minister whether he cannot see his way to extend the list of officials or persons to whom an applicant for naturalization may apply in support of his application.
– The purpose of the list in this Bill is restrictive, whilst the purpose of the list of persons to whom applicants may apply under the Acts referred to by the honorable gentleman is enabling. This provision is taken from the existing Act. I have made the addition of the householders, and all must be natural-born British subjects.
– I am suggesting that the Minister might see his way to extend this list.
– We need a special class to identify a person and speak as to his character. The lists of persons referred to in the other Acts mentioned cover those whose only duty is to take a declaration. They are merely witnesses, whilst what isrequired here are persons who can give a certificate of character.
– Underthe Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, a member of Parliament may witness the signature of an applicant, and it occurred to me that bona fide persons desiring to obtain naturalization should be given a wider opportunity by the extension of the list of persons provided for in this clause to whom they may apply to support their application.
– Under these proposed new sections provision is made for requiring certificates of character in support of an application for naturalization, and these should be supplied by a special class. They will not merely witness a declaration, but will establish identity and certify as to knowledge. I do not think that in the administration of the law any difficulties have arisen as a result of the restriction as to the persons to whom the applicant may appeal in support of his application. I may inform the honorable member for Yarra that, in some cases, men of the highest standing have given certificates of character in the case of a number of applications, which I have still thought it necessary to refuse.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to a provision in the proposed new section 6a, which is only too painfully like some of the provisions that have been inserted in our War Precautions Act. It is a provision by which any person may make representations of a secret character against an applicant for naturalization. The proposed new section expressly says that -
So far so good, but there is this sub-clause 3 of the proposed new section -
The contents of any statutory declaration filed with the Minister in pursuance of this section shall not be disclosed to any person without the consent of the person making the declaration other than for the purpose of a prosecution for perjury.
It will be seen that the person makingthe declaration is amply protected, whilst no protection whatever is given to the person against whose character that declaration is secretly directed. I have always opposed, and I hope I shall always continue to do so, the recrudescence of the systems of the- middle ages, in regard to these matters under which a person’s character may be secretly impugned. He never knows his detractor, nor what is contained in the document by which hemay be injured. This document becomes filed as a permanent record in the public offices, and remains there for all time. No matter what precautions may be taken to secure its secrecy, it may injure an innocent person, whilst it always remains on record against him. That, in my opinion, is most unfair.
– How can it injure a person if it is only a record?
– I ask the right honorable gentleman how he would like to know that, in a public office in this country, for future generations to peruseat their leisure, there was a document containing the gravest statements reflecting upon his personal character, which hewould have no opportunity to answer ?
– Naturally, I should not like it. What then?
– I say that these statements, which may be communicated tothe authorities by the person making them, should also be communicated to the person against whom they are directed.
– There is something inthe honorable member’s objection, butwe could never administer the Act if we did what he proposes. I have thought thematter over very carefully, and I can assure the honorable member that I can see no way out of the difficulty.
– I will content myself by voting against the clause. I never have, in connexion with any of these measures, permitted myself to be associated with any of the methods which I have described as the methods of the middle ages, affecting the rights of citizens of Australia. I cannot associate myself with this proposal affecting the rights of applicants for its citizenship. Men who. come here to avail themselves of the protection of the British flag should not be treated in this way. I am opposed to the proposed new section 6a in its present form.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 21
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section 10 of the principal Act is repealed, sand the following section inserted in its stead: - “10. A person, not being a natural-born British subject -
whose father, or whose mother (being a widow or divorcee) is naturalized; or
whose mother is married to a natural-born British subject, or to a person who is naturalized, and who has at any time during infancy resided in Australia with such father or mother, shall in the Commonwealth be deemed to be naturalized, and have the same rights, powers, and privileges, and be subject to the same obligations as a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization.”
– I have re-drafted this clause. The clause as it stands provides for children being naturalized through their parents. As I said earlier in the evening, that was the law in some of the States, such as New South. Wales, but not in others, as, for instance, South Australia. Under it, a man thirty years of age, whose father took out a certificate of naturalization, wouldbecome naturalized because of that fact. I propose so to amend the clausethat it will apply to only such persons as are born of parents who became naturalized during the infancy of such persons. It is a slight modification, and will be more consistent with the object of the Bill. I move -
That all the words after “ stead,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ 10. A person (not being , a natural-born British subject) -
whose father, or whosemother(being a widow or divorcee) was naturalized under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State; or
whose mother has married a natural born British subject, or a person who is naturalized underthe law of the Commonwealth or of a State, and who at the tiros of such naturalization of his father or mother, or of such marriage of his mother, was an infant, and has atany time during infancy resided in Australia ‘with such father or mother, shall in the Commonwealth be deemed to be naturalized, and have the same rights, powers, and privileges, and be subject to the same obligations, as a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization.”
The effect of this is that a child would be naturalized if the parents were naturalized ; but it would not apply to those who were of age at the time that their parents took out naturalization papers. They will be able totake out naturalization papers for themselves.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Section 11 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words “it is proved to the satisfaction of the Governor-General thata certificate of naturalization has been obtained by any untrue statement of fact or intention,” and by inserting in their stead the following: “ (a) it is proved to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that a certificate of naturalization has been obtained by any untrue statement of fact or intention; or
the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable for any reason that a certificate of naturalization should be revoked.”
Mr. GLYNN” (Angas - Minister for Home and Territories [9.58]. - I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ and by omitting the proviso thereto and inserting in its stead the following subsections : - (2.) Where a certificate of naturalization is revoked the Governor-General may by order declare that the wife of the person whose certificate is revoked and any minor children of that person who have acquired British nationality pursuant to this Act shall cease to be British subjects and such persons shall thereupon become aliens, but save as in this subsection provided the nationality of the wife and minor children of a person whose certificate is revoked shall not be affected by the revocation and they shall remain British subjects :
Provided that it shall be lawful for any such wife within six months after the date of thf> order of revocation to make a declaration of alienage and on making that declaration she and any minor children of her husband and herself who have acquired British nationality pursuant to this Act shall cease to be British subjects and shall become aliens :
Provided further that it shall be lawful for any such minor child within six months after attaining the age of twenty-one years to make a declaration of alienage and thereupon he shall cease to be a British subject and shall become an alien. (3.) Nothing in this section shall affect the property rights of any person who so ceases to be a British subject, as existing at the date when he so ceased. “
The proviso referred to is to be found in section 11 of the principal Act, >which deals with revocation of certificates of naturalization. Such certificates can be revoked, under the law as it. stands, only where they have been obtained by fraud; but to that provision there is the proviso that the revocation shall not affect rights previously acquired by any other person.
– Is that an amendment?
– It is an amendment by way of an addition to the clause. As a matter of fact, a somewhat similar provision has been embodied in the Imperial Act. When I saw that honorable members were inclined to favour a more extensive measure, I thought it advisable to insert this amendment. Its effect is to provide that if a man loses his nationality the Governor-General may declare that his wife also loses it. Rut unless there be reason for taking action, this power will not be exercised. Otherwise, the nationality of the wife will remain unchanged.
.- I will undertake to say that nine-tenths of the members qf this Committee do not understand the amendment, although the legal members may pretend that they under-, stand it. It would have been better if the Minister had included this provision in the Bill before it was submitted for our consideration.
– A similar provision is contained in the Imperial Act.
– The honorable member knows that it is all right.
– I will accept the Minister’s word for that. As a matter of fact, we are obliged to do so. But it would have been far better if the provision had been included in the Bill when it was drafted.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– The latter portion of the amendment sets out that it shall be lawful for any minor child, within six months after attaining the age of twenty-one years, to make a declaration of alienage, and thereupon he shall cease to be a British subject. I should like to know why a limit of six months is imposed in this case?
– The option must be exercised shortly after the child becomes of .age.
– Then we shall be giving property stronger rights than are accorded to human life.
– Then why not limit property rights to a six-months’ period?
– A man ought not, by cancellation of his nationality, to be deprived of property which he has acquired while he was a British subject.
– Can he, as an alien, own property against the Commonwealth?
– Britain allows aliens to hold property.
Amendment agreed to.
.- This would have been a convenient place to introduce a very necessary amendment but for the fact that the Minister has informed us of his intention to bring forward a larger and more far-reaching measure dealing with naturalization at an early date. At the same time, I cannot allow this Bill to pass without reprobating the present condition of the law in regard to the rights of married women. As most honorable members are aware, a woman’s nationality is that of her husband, and a very glaring instance of the gross injustice of that arbitrary survival from mediaeval times was afforded the other day, when the Minister himself published the numbers of the persons to whom naturalization papers had recently been granted. One of these individuals was a German, and people were naturally led to inquire under what circumstances we would grant naturalization rights to a German at the present time. The person in- question was a woman who had married a German some twenty years ago, and had thus acquired his nationality although she herself was British born.Her husband has been dead for many years, but the nationality of this British-born lady persists as German.
– That is the law of every country except the United States of America, and there immense trouble has been caused by reason of there being two nationalities in one family.
– I think that the Minister recognises the absurdity of the existing condition of affairs, and I hope that when the wider measure foreshadowed by him is submitted for our consideration this anomaly will be removed. It certainly will not be satisfactory to me if I am then informed that we cannot proceed in advance of British legislation. Of course, I quite recognise that in this matter we are bound to some extent by British legislation, because’ it is an international matter.But I do hope that the Minister will effect this most necessary reform in our naturalization laws, which have long been the subject of protest by thinking women as well as men - even if necessary to the extent of making representations to the Imperial authorities.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section 12 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (2) thereof the words “not be liable to any fee or charge in respect thereof,” and inserting in their stead the words “be charged such fee as is prescribed.”
Section proposed to be amended -
A person to whom a certificate of naturalisation is granted shall not be liable to any fee or charge in respect thereof.
.- A person desiring letters of naturalization may be required to advertise in perhaps half-a-dozen newspapers, as well as pay a prescribed fee. We prided ourselves, when the Act of 1903 was passed, on having made naturalization free. The trouble in South Africa was caused greatly by the annoyance to Britishers of the Boer restrictions on naturalization.
– I hope that the Minister will abolish the fee, and let the noble Act on our statutebook remain unchanged in this respect.
– My intention is that the fee shall be a small one. In one of the States it was 2s. 6d., in another 10s., and, I believe, in one as much as £1. It has been suggested that a fee of 10s. would be sufficient. I think it will be better to leave the matter to regulation. Naturalization will be applied for in connexion with applications for old-age pensions.
– A person must be naturalized for three years before applying for an old-age pension.
– I think that that position has been altered. I remember moving in that direction.
– Surely the same fee will be charged to every one?
– More persons apply for letters of naturalization for the sake of old-age pensions than for any other reason, and, therefore, the fee should be small. I think that a fee of 10s. would do. However, if it is the wish of the Committee that no fee shall be charged, I move -
That paragraph (b) be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other Act, any person to whom letters of naturalization have been issued by the Dominion of New Zealand shall be entitled ipso facto to a grant of letters of naturalization from the Commonwealth.
My desire is that we should hold out the right hand of friendship to the Dominion of New Zealand. It. is foolish, and almost idiotic, to require a person who has become a British subject by naturalization in New Zealand to reside two years here before he can apply for naturalization under our law. As I pointed out earlier, prior to Federation a person who had been naturalized in Victoria, if he crossed into New South Wales, could not exercise the privileges of citizenship until he had lived there for a certain time, and had been naturalized under the New South Wales law. The pursuit of work might have compelled such a man to go on to Queensland., and there further naturalization would have been required ; and so with the other States.
– Is not this a matter for arrangement with the Dominion?
– Some one must make the advance. Two persons never say “ Good day “ . at the same moment The honorable member, being a big chap, would be the one to say “Good day” first, and I want the great Commonwealth of Australia to make an advance to the lesser Dominion. My wish is that the production of letters of naturalization granted in New Zealand shall enable a person to obtain letters of naturalization in the Commonwealth.
– I think that most members sympathize with the honorable member’s object; but would it not be wise to leave the whole matter over for consideration until a larger measure is before Parliament, providing in the meantime for reciprocity?
– The interjection reminds me of an incident following a big colliery accident Some were praying and speaking of their sympathy with the women and children who had been bereft of their breadwinners, when a man said, “ I do not know much about prayers, but this is my sympathy,” and planked down all the money that he had in his pocket. We may have, by-and-by, reciprocity with New Zealand in the matter of old-age pensions. Any one naturalized in the Home Land, in any of its four kingdoms, can exercise the rights of a British subject throughoutthe British Empire. I do not object to any altering of my phraseology, and I am willing to accept an amendment that will provide for the production of letters of naturalization from New Zealand giving the right to apply for letters of naturalization in Australia without anycondition. as to residence..
– That is not done in. Great Britain.
– In Great Britain they do not give men and women the right to vote. I do not wish to press my proposal to a division, but shall feel, bound to do so.
– All I can promise is most careful consideration of the proposal, probably towards its acceptance in connexion with a larger measure.
– When I was at school I was told that with a bigpinch of salt I could catch a bird, because it could not fly then. Is not the statement of the Minister much the same as that tale? He did a just act recently, and why should he not be willing now to allow residence in New Zealand to countas. residence in Australia?
– It is a matter fora reciprocal arrangement..
– Let the big Commonwealth of Australia make an advanceby holding out the hand to the smaller Dominion. I feel that it hopeless, and I. regret very much that the parochial feeling of a great continent should refuse the right to the small Dominion.
– It is by no means Hopeless.
– I submit the amendment.
.- I look upon this proposal as one which is designed for the benefit of the whole of the British Empire. The party to which I belong has always shown a proper spiritin these matters. I ask honorable members opposite to consider what is the intention of the phrase, “one people, one destiny.” In my opinion, the Government will be very unwise indeed if they do not accept the amendment. It is within the realm of reason, and in accordancewith those democratic ideals which the nations at large are endeavouring to formulate. The real meaning and -object of the present war is. to secure the government of the people by the people. Therefore, I cannot understand the Ministerial opposition to this proposal. I feel satisfied that in time New Zealand will acknowledge naturalization papers issued in Australia. It is our duty, I submit, to enact this proposal, and so teach the people of New,
Zealand what is the real meaning of democratic government. Honorable members opposite really ought to be falling over each other to .support the. amendment. Certainly the ‘hour is late, but no matter how late it .is, the duty of the! House is to legislate in accordance with the spirit and the intention of those who Bent us ‘here. It is all very well for tha Minister to tell us that by and by he is going to bring down some great measure. If honorable members understand why they are sent here, they will, seize the first opportunity to legislate in accordance with the desire of the people, and not wait for something to turu up. We were not sent here to adopt a Micawber style of doingbusiness, but to carry proposals of this character. Many of our supporters, of course, do not expect liberal legislation to emanate from the present Government, but we ought to sit here, even if we -should have to sit all- night, to enforce the will of the people and oppose the Conservatives on the other side, who seem to think that they possess all wisdom. Wo on this side are displaying the broad liberal spirit which is supposed to characterize English legislative bodies.. I ask the Government to assist the honorable member for Melbourne to get this principle enacted. I have been in New Zealand, and I feel confident that if the amendment is adopted, the people of that Dominion will clap their hands, to-morrow morning when they read in the press that the legislators of Australia are so liberal minded. Honorable members who sit on this side are the true leaders of Democracy. It was we who legislated in accordance with those noble principles which we hope will, as the outcome of the war, become, universal. It is our duty to inculcate into the minds of honorable members opposite the knowledge which we possess. If this amendment is rejected, they will feel sorry that they did not fall iu with the views of the honorable member for Melbourne. However, this is a serious matter about which we should not joke. If these persons are considered worthy of naturalization in New Zealand, it is an insult to the people of New Zealand to refuse naturalization here.
– The New Zealand Government will nob allow Australians to return to Australia.
– The honorable member forgets that thai! is a war measure on the part of the New Zealand Government. I hope that the Minister will sea his way clear to accept the amendment, which I regard -as in every way desirable.
– Will the Minister allow the consideration of the proposed new clause to be postponed in order that it may be printed I We all know very well that, when the division bells ring, members will come in and vote without really understanding that they are voting to exclude their brethren from New Zealand. If the clause is printed, and a vote taken on -a subsequent date, every member will know about what he is voting.
– There are technical .difficulties in the way of applying the proposed new clause. I quite agree with the principle advocated by the honorable member for Melbourne, and, as far as I can, I shall carry it out’; but1 -such am amendment cannot be made in the BiUnow before us.
– What is the use of sympathy if, when you have the power, you will not amend the Bill ? Will the Minister accept a clause if it is made to provide that any one to whom letters of naturalization have- been- issued by the Dominion of New Zealand will be .considered as having resided in the country for the necessary number of years, so that, they may apply immediately for naturalization here.
– I can assure tha honorable member that, so far as I am concerned, I shall, at the first opportunity, try to attain the end he has in view; but that cannot properly be done by means of this measure. The provision of 1903 applies only to certificates of naturalization issued in the United Kingdom, and I think the reason ja that these certificates are valid outside the United Kingdom, whereas those issued in New Zealand are not. We would be adopting a certificate of no efficiency here as the basis of a grant here; and I do not think we have the power. Even in the case .of the United Kingdom there must be certain procedure, which is not) provided for in the amendment ; and because the proposal is practically impossible of application under existing legislation I object to it. Notwithstanding that the provision* in our Act are applicable bo the United
Kingdom we are asked to accept conditions prescribed in New Zealand as determining the right of people to apply here; and this, I submit, would be departing from uniformity rather than accomplishing it.
Question - That the proposed newclause be added to the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question bo resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived .
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 August 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170808_reps_7_82/>.