8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know if the Government have finalized the appointments to administrative positions in the Northern Territory, and, if not, when it is anticipated that a statement on the subject will be made to the House?
– A sub-committee of the Cabinet has been appointed to go through the applications, and I expect to be able to make an announcement within a few days.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a circular issued by Mr. Greatrex, a Sydney accountant, in which it is pointed out that by the imposition of duties based on the mint par rate of exchange, there was a loss for the year 1919-20 of £2,789,000 in connexion with goods imported from theUnited States and Japan, and that on goods imported from France and Italy, £884,000 was collected in excess of what should have been paid ? I ask the honorable gentleman if he will have the statement analyzed with a view to furnishing the House with the departmental opinion concerning it?
– I have already on several occasions dealt in this House with similar statements, and have admitted that, under the system which we believe to be required to be followed by the law of the land, we have not got as much duty from certain importations as we should have received had another method of valuation been adopted. It is impossible to get accurate information as to the loss of revenue, because, to do so, every individual invoice would have to be examined in connexion with the variations of exchange from time to time, so that only an approximation to the actual figures can be obtained. I am inclined to think, however, that the figures mentioned by the honorable member are pretty wide of the mark.
– Has the Prime Minister read a statement made by a representative of the Times who visited Australia with the Prince of Wales, in which that gentleman speaks broadly of the degeneracy of the political world of Australia, and playfully refers to the Prime Minister as the principal degenerate.
– I have not read the statement. In what newspaper has it appeared ?
– I saw it in the Age. I mention it thinking that the Prime Minister might like to reply to it.
– I do not admit its truth.
– Is it correct, as is stated in the newspapers, that practically every Commonwealth Minister who has left Australia for England during the past four or five years has been instructed to reorganize the High Commissioner’s Office, and that Commonwealth Government officials have also gone to England with that purpose in view ? Is there any truth in any part of the statement?
– Certainly, the statement is not correct. As to whether there is any truth in any part of it, that is a difficult question to answer.
– The newspapers are saying that every Minister who has gone from here has been instructed to reorganize the High Commissioner’s Office.
– I do not think it quite accurate to say that the newspapers are saying that; one man in London, who represents a newspaper, is saying it. When I was last in that city, it contained about 7,000,000 inhabitants, and I do not know that we need feel much alarmed at anything that only one of them may say.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the report concerning the rather extraordinary proceedings of the Expropriation Committee’s proceedings m German New Guinea, disclosed in yesterday’s Argus?
– I saw in the Argus newspaper an article about the Expropriation Poard, which I considered most unfortunate, because calculated to considerably embarrass this country. Honorable members know that it cost us a great deal of money, to say nothing of thelives sacrificed in the war, to obtain control of German New Guinea. The Peace Treaty provides for our dealing with German nationals there, and it must come with some shock to Australians to find an Australian newspaper taking upon itself to uphold German interests.
– It does not do that.
– Then I must have read a different article from that to which the honorable member refers, and therefore am unable to answer his question.
Commonwealth Guarantee - Price for Local Consumption
– (By leave). - Last week I stated that I hoped to be able to give honorable member? certain information of interest to the community in general, and to the primary producers in particular, relating to wheat. I desire to deal, firstly, with the Commonwealth guarantee of 5s. per bushel for wheat delivered at railway sidings; and, secondly, with the price of wheat for local consumption. I will deal with these matters in that order. As to the 5s. guarantee, there was a discussion in this House last week in reference to the obligation of the Commonwealth ‘in this regard, and I then took the opportunity of stating the position as the Government understood it. Upon a motion, which had been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), an amendment was moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), which the Government acccepted, and the House approved. That -resolution, to which I said the Government would endeavour to give effect, was as follows: -
That tlie Government, having guaranteed the producer 5s. per bushel at sidings for this season’s wheat, should arrange for payment of same on delivery by cash and certificates, such certificates to be repayable in such instalments and sit such periods as recommended by the Central Wheat Board; and, in the opinion of this House, nothing should be done that would prevent the producer from receiving export parity for all wheat, including wheat for home consumption.
My right honorable colleague, the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), and I had an opportunity last week of conferring with representatives of the Associated Banks and the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. The wheat position was discussed in all its aspects. It was fully realized that a large sum of money, certainly £30,000,000, and possibly more, was involved. The question was one of very great importance. A satisfactory solution had, if at all possible, to be found. Eventually the following arrangement was agreed to : -
That in respect of wheat delivered at railway sidings, an immediate cash payment of *2s. 6d- per bushel be made, and a certificate representing 2s. Gd. per bushel, and payable on 30th April, be issued.
This agreement was carried subject to ratification by the Commonwealth Government and by the Boards of the banks. Both Cabinet and the different banks have now approved, and this morning I had the honour of referring the agreement to the Australian Wheat Board, who also unanimously indorsed it. I shall now endeavour to explain the operation of the- scheme. It involves the payment of 2s. 6d. in cash, and the issue of a certificate for 2s. 6d., redeemable on 30th April. In order that honorable members and the fanners may understand exactly what this means, it is necessary that Ishould point out the fundamental difference between this certificate and those issued previously. The previous certificates were redeemable, not on any definite day, but on a date to be fixed. As no one knew when they would be redeemed, naturally they fluctuated in value very considerably, and it is only right to recall the fact that speculators reaped a very great and unfair proportion of the money that the Commonwealth and the Pool had to find. ‘ The certificates issued under the new arrangement stand in an entirely different category. They will be redeemable by the banks on 30th April; and so have an immediate value. They will be practically ninety days’ bills. The ordinary commercial terms of discounting a “stock bill at up to four months are 2^ per cent, commission, plus -interest at 8 per cent, per annum. That works out at about 2s. 3d. for every 20 bushels of wheat, or a little more than 1 7-20d. per bushel. For all practical purposes, therefore, the cash equivalent of the 2s. 6d. certificate under the arrangement made by the Commonwealth is 2s. 6d., less, say, lid., or 2s. 4£d. This applies to the 2s. 6d. certificate payable on 30th April. In addition, of course, the farmer will receive 2s. 6d. cash. Honorable members will appreciate the advantage of this arrangement over those previously adopted. These certificates, I have nodoubt, will be sufficient for all the pressing needs of the farmer and will enable him to meet his obligations for machinery, debts due to the storekeeper, liabilities in respect of mortgages, &c. The certificate, then, is a gilt-edged security, redeemable in ninety days; and, although the banks are under no obligation to cash them before 30th April, the certificates will readily be accepted in payment of debts, or cashed by those who discount bills on or about the terms I have stated. I ask the farmers to note particularly that the certificates are worth what I say within a fractional margin, and I hope they will refrain, therefore, from allowing the speculator to enrich himself at their expense. The Commonwealth is paying 6 per cent, per annum for this money, has engaged to repay £15,000,000, or half the total amount, whatever that may be, in 61x months, and the remaining half in twelve months, with the right of reviewing the position at the end of twelve months if we are unable to meet our obligations at that time. These, then, are the details of the arrangement, which the Wheat Board regards as entirely satisfactory, and I venture ‘to say it is one which will commend itself, not only to honorable members in this House, but to the farming community generally.
I leave this matter for a moment and come now to the question of wheat for local consumption, which is covered by the second portion of the resolution, to which this House assented last week. I remind honorable members that the Government of the Commonwealth, when before the electors, stated that it was not in favour of the continuance of the Wheat Fool, and that it would do nothing to prevent the farmers getting the world’s parity for their wheat, whether that was needed for local consumption or export purposes. I have explained at length the circumstances which induced the Commonwealth Government to accept the invitation of the State Governments to enter the Pool. The action of the States relieved us from our obligation under the promise we made that we would do nothing to prevent the farmers getting the world’s parity for their wheat. Honorable members are familiar with the facts. The wheat-producing States had formed a Fool, and’ had passed such legislation as made private trading in wheat impossible. The farmer was unable either to export his wheat or to sell it locally. The wheat, therefore, for all practical purposes, having passed from the farmer to the State, the Commonwealth had to consider whether it ought to remain outside the Pool. As the Fool would be very seriously embarrassed if the financial support of the Commonwealth was withheld, the Commonwealth thought it its duty to become a member of the Pool ; and that it did with, I feel quite sure, the approval of the overwhelming majority of the members of this Chamber. The Commonwealth Government clearly stated its policy in regard to the right of the wheat-grower to the world’s parity, but the wheat-producing
States having subsequently taken such action as prohibited private trading, by which, for all practical purposes, they acquired the wheat, this so completely changed the position that action by the Commonwealth was called for in order that its policy, as clearly stated at the election - viz., that the farmer was entitled to world’s parity - should be given effect to. The Commonwealth, therefore, being pledged to do nothing to prevent the grower getting the world’s parity for wheat for local consumption, when a Conference was called upon to consider the question of fixing the price of wheat for local consumption, the Government decided to be represented thereat. The Conference met on Friday last, and was attended by the Premiers and the Ministers of Agriculture of all the States, including the non-wheat-export States - Queensland and Tasmania. It was avery representative Conference, and the farmers’ representatives were present from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. The matter was considered at considerable length, and every aspect of the problem carefully reviewed.
I may remind honorable members that the Wheat Board, as such, has nothing to do with fixing the price for local consumption; that is a question for the States, qua States, not the Fool. So it was a proper thing that the States should decide this matter; although all the members of the Wheat Board were, in fact, present at the Conference. The Conference at once recognised the necessity of coming to a decision without delay. There were two alternative policies’ - one to fix the price from month to month, or from time to time, and the other to fix a uniform price for twelve months. Both of these courses had their advantages and disadvantages. The Commonwealth and the States - at any rate, the wheat-producing States - all agreed that the producer was entitled to the world’s parity for local consumption. The Commonwealth had to consider the interests of the producers in the light of the pledge the Commonwealth had giventhem, and representatives of the Statesand the Commonwealth had to considerthe interests of the consumer, for wewere dealing with the staple commodity of the people. And the Conference was; faced by this fact: It was essential to retain a sufficient quantity of wheat to supply the whole of Australia, not only for twelve months, but to meet a possible shortage or a failure in the next crop. The Conference, in approaching the question, considered the position of the farmer, who, being denied the opportunity of selling at the present world’s parity that wheat withdrawn from, the exportable Pool, was of opinion that he was entitled to some consideration on that account. The interests of Australia demand that we should retain a sufficient quantity of wheat to feed our own people; on the other hand, the farmers are entitled to the whole benefit of the world’s price for their wheat. We were confronted by these two more or’ less conflicting interests, and we had to endeavour to harmonize them. We were dealing with a very large quantity of wheat com.pulsorily withdrawn ‘ from the Pool. Much of this wheat would not be consumed for many months. What was a fair price for it? In endeavouring to decide this point we had to consider, first of all, what was the equivalent of the world’s parity for the whole period of the year .921? We know what it is today, bv no man is able to say what it will be in a month, and certainly no man is able to say what it will be in twelve months. If we were going to fix the price of the farmer’s wheat twelve months ahead, it might be argued that the price of wheat might fall, and, that being so, the farmer should be compelled to take that risk and bear the loss. No doubt that view is one which will appeal to many. On the other hand, the farmers’ representatives put very strongly the position from the stand-point of the farmer. It was urged that it was not fair to deny the farmers the opportunity to sell their wheat to-day when it could be sold at a high price, and then to tell them, “ We will hold your wheat, prevent you getting it on the market of the world, and refrain from purchasing ourselves in the hope that the prices will fall, and, when the market breaks, we will buy at the lower price.” The question was considered very carefully. Although our experts were present, naturally they were not able to tell us what would be the price of wheat in twelve months’ time, but they could, and did, tell . us that sales were now .being made freely at the world’s parity as it is to-day, and they strongly urged that we should bear in mind that there was no reason to believe that the world’s price would fall very much.
The advantages of a uniform price over the year are obvious. In the first place, it stabilizes the industry. It gives an assured value to over 30,000,000 bushels of wheat, so that those who are dealing with* the farmers - the banks, storekeepers, machinery agents, and others - are able to say that the wheat which the farmer holds has a definite fixed value independent of any of the vagaries of the market, or of any of those circumstances that affect commodities withheld from immediate sale. In addition, a uniform price for the year, it was urged, would not only enable the farmer more easily to adjust his financial difficulties - and it is not to be forgotten that the farmers in some of the States have suffered from a very grievous drought - but would encourage him to go on growing wheat. This consideration very materially, affected the Conference.. It profoundly affected me. I believe there is no way by which the tendency of modern civilization to flock to the towns can be so effectively checked as by making it profitable to go on the land. I have been listening for many years to appeals by honorable members, and have said a great deal myself about the great need for land settlement, but I certainly do not believe that mere words will do much good. We must make life on the land worth while. The farmer ought not to be expected to meet ‘ all the difficulties which country life involves without some corresponding advantages. He ought not to be expected to take the risk not merely of the vagaries of the market, because every manufacturer takes that risk, but of a total failure of output. The latter is a risk which the manufacturer does not take. A man may make, say, 10,000 pairs of boots, and prices may fall. The boots, however, are in existence, and may be sold for something. But the farmer may work hard and have nothing at all to show for his labour. He may put in just as much work on land which, owing to drought or some other untoward circumstance, yields only 3 bushels to the acre, or nothing at all, as is involved in producing a crop of 30 bushels to the acre. We all believe it to be in the highest degree important that the primary industries should be encouraged, and no more effective means of encouraging people to remain on the land and of inducing others to go on it could be devised than that of stabilizing the industry and making it worth while to go on the land.
These reasons determined the Conference to reject the proposal to attempt to adjust, from month to month, the price of wheat for local consumption in favour of a proposition to fix it for the whole year. That principle having been affirmed, it was considered that the Conference was not the proper body to determine what the price should be. The question was therefore remitted to the Wheat Board to determine what was, all things being considered, a fair commutation of the world’s parity over a period of the next twelve months. The Wheat Board considered the question, and made a recommendation to the Conference, which the Conference, in its turn, unanimously adopted. The price the Wheat Board recommended was 9s. per bushel. It considered that 9s., although less than the world’s parity to-day, was a fair commutation of the expectancy of prices for the whole year. The Conference, in coming to the decision to accept the recommendation of the Wheat Board, had before it several facts,. It knew what was the world’s parity to-day, and, what was more, having sold forward, it was able to say what oversea buyers were paying for May, June, July, August, September, October, and December, 1921, delivery. It was unable, of course, to say what the then price would be, but it was able to say that there were buyers who were prepared to purchase wheat to-day, to be delivered in December, 1921, and to pay substantially more than 9s. per bushel for it. In the circumstances, therefore, it felt that it was fully justified in agreeing to that price.
– Is the 9s. the net price ?
– Nine shillings is the seaport basis. I am satisfied that this arrangement will be regarded as. fair by all sections of the community. We have to hold the scales fairly between the producer and consumer, and must remember - here I admit I am speaking for myself - that even if we are giving to the farmer something which may be more than the world’s parity in December, 1921, we have to consider what might be. the effect of giving a price that would discourage the man on .the land. That is a factor which influenced me very much. We cannot peer into the future and say what the price of wheat will be in August or October, 1921, but we can say that the figure- agreed upon for local consumption is less than the price at which we are selling wheat for delivery abroad in December, 1921. Therefore, the world considers, as far as it is a buyer, that the price we have fixed is a fair one. It would be inadvisible to tell the House the price we are getting for wheat we are selling overseas - we are endeavouring to get the best we possibly can for it - but the position is that the consumers of Australia, who, during the war, got their bread cheaper than the people of any other country in .the world, will still continue to do so, and if the millers and bakers are content with reasonable profits the 21b. loaf can be sold over the counter at 6d.
Wages in this country have been gradually readjusting themselves to the basis of the 6d. loaf - in New South Wales, I think, the standard is calculated on the loaf at 5£d. or 6d. - but I maintain it is better to know where we are for twelve months, and readjust things on that basis, than to endeavour month ‘after month to grope after a world’s parity for wheat which might be subject to violent fluctuations, and over the. whole year would certainly not put the consumer in a better position. On the other hand, it would disorganize our finances, and put the producer at a great disadvantage at a time when he needs immediate financial help. The price of wheat to be retained for local consumption is fixed at 9s. on seaport basis, with fortnightly deliveries, and payment in advance by fortnightly settlements.
The Commonwealth takes the full responsibility in regard to the arrangements for the payment of the guarantee; but the States, although they are not directly responsible, have all been consulted, ‘and have approved of the arrangement made. And as I have said, the Wheat Board has unanimously indorsed it. The matter of fixing the price for local consumption -is primarily one for the wheat-producing States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western
Australia; but the other States - Queensland and Tasmania - which have no exportable surplus, have accepted the fixed price as a fair and reasonable one, and are prepared to adopt it. I understand that Queensland proposes to establish a local Pool in relation to its own wheat for local purposes only. Tasmania, of course, looks to the mainland for much of its wheat ; butthe State Government have expressed their willingness to fix this price. Western Australia, which was represented at the Conference by the Minister for Agriculture, has not yet assented to the arrangement for fixing the price of wheat for local consumption ; but the matter has been referred to the Premier of the State, from whom an early reply is expected.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) asks when the cash will be paid to the farmers. Clause 1 of the agreement says that for wheat delivered at railway siding an immediate cash payment of 2s. 6d. per bushel will be made. I suppose there will be two certificates handed to the farmer - one for 2s. 6d., which will be immediately negotiable in any bank ; and the other payable at ninety days, which can be discounted in the ordinary way. That is to say, half the cash will be available at any bank immediately, and the other half will be covered by a certificate, which the bank will not take the responsibility of engaging to discount immediately, but which, nevertheless, may be discounted, if necessary, in the usual way. I think that we may be congratulated on this solution of a very tangled and important question.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will arrange to have made available to honorable members, especially to honorable members representing country electorates, 5,000 or 6,000 copies of the Hansard report of his statement, for transmission to the farmers’ associations throughout Australia, so that the farmers may know exactly what the right honorable gentleman has said?
– I shall do that.
– I wish, by leave, to make a statement.
– Is it intended to allow other honorable members the same privilege? If not, I shall object to leave being granted to the Leader of the Opposition.
– To enable a general discussion to take place, I move, by leave -
That the following resolutions be printed: - “ Guaranteed that in respect of wheat delivered at railway sidings an immediate cash payment of 2s.6d. per bushel be made, and that a certificate representing 2s.6d. per bushel, and payable on 30th April, 1921, be issued.” “ That the price of wheat to be retained for local consumption be such price as will be a fair commutation of the expectancy of the overseas markets over the year 1921 on a basis of fortnightly deliveries, with payment in advance by fortnightly settlements.” “ That the fair commutation of the equivalent of the overseas parity is 9s. per bushel, seaport basis.”
.-I am glad that the PrimeMinister has adopted a course which will give every honorable member an opportunity of speaking.
– Provided that he can get a call before 5 o’clock.
– I shall not occupy more than five minutes, though. I would have liked to speak much longer had I had an opportunity of considering, more closely the details of these arrangements. It may be all very well for one section of the community to have got everything that it desires, but it must not be forgotten that the consumers ofbread - that is, the community at large - are to be called upon to pay the cost. I do not object to the farmer, or to any one else, getting a fair price for his produce; but I object to him, or the manufacturer, or any other person, taking advantage of the necessities of the community to exploit it by charging the highest possible price. If it is right that the farmer shall get export parity for what he sells locally, why should not the producer of coal and the producer of sugar be similarly treated? It was stated the other day that Australia would have to pay another £25,000,000 a year for its coal supply if the coal-owners were to get export parity for the 10,000,000 tons of coal consumed in the Commonwealth. That, however, is a subject on which the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) are better able to speak than I am. The farmer is to get 2s. 6d. per bushel for his wheat, instead of 5s. per bushel, which, to my way of thinking, was definitely promised to him. He will also receive a certificate for 2s. 6d. ; but this will not, as the Prime Minister has said, be payable in ninety days, because there are 180 days between the present date and the 30th April.
– But no wheat is yet available.
– Wheat will be harvested before the end of January.
– Before the end of December.
– They are delivering wheat now in South Australia.
– The people of Australia will be surprised to learn that the export parity has been fixed twelve months ahead, and not, as they were led to expect it would be, from month to month. When the sugar agreement was made, it was admitted that we were getting sugar more cheaply than we should get it at that particular time; but it was explained that, in all probability, the price would fall before the end of the three years’ agreement. It is possible that the export parity of wheat may fall within the next twelve months. But under the agreement our people will have to pay 6d. over the counter for the 2-lb. loaf not only this year, but during the whole of next year. It is known that in Victoria the millers and bakers have combined, and will continue to charge the public just what they please, as they have done in the past. Even when the Commonwealth was controlling prices it could not control the actions of the Millers Combine in Victoria. It took one miller only to Court because he refused to supply flour, but dozens of such cases were known to the authorities. The millers will continue to please themselves as to whom they will supply with flour, and the bakers as to whom they will supply with bread. In Victoria a customer is not allowed to change his baker without the consent of the Master Bakers Association. Yet it is wondered at that the people complain.
– What the honorable member is speaking of is an instance of successful unionism.
– It is owing to the existence in Victoria of an anti-Labour Government. That Government got a bit of a set-back at the recent election, but, unfortunately, not a sufficient one to put it out of office.
– Is it not the Master Bakers Union that does what you complain of ?
– The master bakers acting with the millers. They will continue to please themselves as to what they will charge.
– And what you are now complaining about is the Farmers Union.
– The farmers have as much right to form a union as have the honorable member and I to join industrial unions.
– But honorable gentlemen opposite complain of unionism.
– I am objecting to the exploitation of the people by the master bakers and millers in the manner that has been practised in the past. The Prime Minister has told us that the Commonwealth has had. nothing to do with the fixing of prices.
– I said that the Wheat Board had nothing to do with the fixing of the price of wheat for local consumption; that they dealt only with export wheat.
– But the Wheat Board recommended 9s. per bushel, and to that the Conference agreed. The honorable member said that it was the State authorities that fixed the price.
– I was a member of the Conference, and in the chair.
– I am trying to look at this matter from the consumers’ point of view. There was not a single representative of the consumers on the Wheat Board or on the Conference.
– What about Mr. Theodore?
– There were more antiLabour Premiers than Labour Premiers at the Conference.
– They all voted for the resolution fixing the price for local consumption, and Mr. Dunn moved it.
– Because Mr. Dunn is a Labour man, he is to carry the blame !
– I do not say that he has any blame to carry. What has it to do with the question that he is a Labour man? Mr. Theodore also voted for the resolution. What we had to do was to deal with facts.
– The consumers, as consumers,were not represented at the Conference, and I protest again, as I did last week, against resolutions affecting the community at large being agreed to by bodies on which the public is not represented. Last week the Government declared that they would not have a representative of Labour on the Board of Trade, to which new powers were to be given.
– Let the public buy in a cheaper market if they can.
– Some persons are saying, “ Let the farmers pay for their irrigation schemes, instead of putting the cost on the whole community,” and “ Let the farmers pay for the carriage of manures at the same rates as other persons pay for transport.” I am not here to set town against country, but I ask for a fair deal for every section of the community.
I hope that speculators, such as those who reaped a rich harvest by dealing in wheat scrip, will be prevented from dealing in the proposed certificates, though it will be difficult to prevent such dealing. We tried to prevent the negotiation of the war gratuities, but every one knows that we have not been able to prevent it. Unless the certificates are made negotiable by the banks, or the farmers are protected in some way through the banks, the poor man will suffer, though the wealthy, who need no looking after, will do well.
– I think that it will come as a surprise to the majority of the people of Australia to learn that the world’s parity for wheat is equivalent to 9s. per bushel for local consumption. I listened, as did honorable members generally, with interest to the statement of the Prime Minister. If we accept the Wheat Board as expert in forecasting the wheat market, the right honorable gentleman has made out a case that cannot readily be answered. But I do not think that sufficient attention has been given to the necessary effect of this determination on the price of bread. To raise the price of bread throughout Australia by, in some cases,1d. per loaf is a very serious thing to do at the present time. It makes bread dear to those least able to buyit. I agree with the Prime Minister that, until country life is as attractive as city life, not only to the farmer, but also to those who work on the farm, people will come from the country to the cities. This can be prevented only by making rural industry profitable, both to the man who invests his capital in it and to the man who puts his labour into it. But, if to do it, the community must pay more for wheat than the world’s parity, the burden should not be borne by all consumers of bread, as such, but, like other financial burdens, should be distributed with some regard to the ability of the taxpayer to meet his obligations. It may be, as the Prime Minister anticipates, that the price of 9s. per bushel will give the farmer no extra payment for wheat locally consumed; that the future alone will determine. But, should the event show that the people are being asked to pay for wheat consumed locally more than the world’s parity, it seems to me the Government should consider the question whether it ought not to give some relief to those who, by reason of the increased price of bread, resulting from this determination, are made to bear the whole burden.
Mr.Fenton. - Did the conference consider what would be the effect on the price of bread?
– It was not the business of the conference to consider that - it is the business of the Government.
Mr.Fenton. - It is the business of the Prime Minister.
– In Britain, during the war, it was necessary to subsidize bread, in order to provide it for the people at a reasonable rate ; and if we are going to artificially increase the return to this agricultural industry
– Are we doing that?
– That is a matter which the future will determine. I have the greatest apprehension as to whether, after we give this price-
– The people will even then get cheaper bread than if we had to meet the world’s parity.
– That may be so ; but even if the J anuary price were much higher than it is to-day, it would bo utterly impossible for the whole of the Australian wheat to be sold at that price; it would be impossible to realize all our wheat at the one time.
– We have sold some wheat ten months ahead; why not sell the other?
– That might be possible; if we are selling ten months ahead.
– We are doing so now.
– I do not think that the Commonwealth is able to sell 100,000,000 bushels of wheat at that rate.
– I do not say that.
– That is what we shall have to sell. The fact that we can sell 10,000 bushels of wheat at a high price to-day is no proof that we can sell the whole of the Australian harvest at the same price to-day, tomorrow, or some other time. And what guarantee have we that, if the world’s parity rises, as some people still seem to think it may, to a price that will leave us1s. or 2s. behind the world’s price, the same political pressure will not be brought to bear and the local price disturbed when the contract is half way through? What guarantee is there of any permanent agreement?
– We fixed the price at 7s. 8d., and three months ago wheat was at 15s. The people were getting their wheat at half price, and the farmers did not kick up a row about that.
– I think we heard a good deal about it from the farmers. However, if the local price fixed is going to increase the price to the extent that it may, the Government ought to consider whether the taxpayers as a whole should not bear part of the burden, as was the case in England, especially if one of the objects of the high price is to encourage a local industry.
– I listened with great attention to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), particularly in view of the speech the right honorable gentleman made last week. I can say that I am quite satisfied that the Prime Minister has done the best he possibly could for the purpose of giving effect to the promise he made.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that he is “ more than satisfied “?
– I am quite satisfied.
– I thought the honorable member said that he was “ more than satisfied.”
– I had anticipated that there might be some difficulty in regard to the request I made last week, when I asked that the certificates issued should be partly in the nature of a bond. The Prime Minister has told us to-day that the certificates will be payable on the 30th April, and are in the nature of a bond - they represent an agreement that on the 30th April the Commonwealth Government will pay the balance of this money. When we realize what a bumper harvest we expect, and the enormous amount of money that would be required to pay 5s. per bushel in cash, every thinking member must admit that it would have been an impossible undertaking for the Government. I am satisfied that the arrangement made will meet with the approval of the great majority of the wheat producers; and as to that portion of the agreement I am quite satisfied. In reference to the world’s parity, I would like to ask the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) and the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) whether, if an application were made to the Wheat Board for a contract for the sale of wheat at the present world’s parity, they would not ask a guarantee from the Government that sufficient wheat would be retained to make up any shortage we might have here. Would there not be an application made to the Government to at once restrict export so as to cover any local shortage? Under such circumstances, would they not declare it to be the duty of the Government to see that sufficient wheat was retained to feed the Australian people ?
– Does that not operate now ?
– It must operate under any circumstances, but the honorable member must see that if the Government made a contract to sell 100,000,000 bushels of wheat at, say, vs., there must be a shortage here, and that, under the circumstances, they would declare it to be the duty of the Government not to sell more than we can afford to export. That would place the producer in an unfair position.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ the world’s parity “ ?
– I mean the export parity - the cash export parity fixed by the Central Board. That Board consists of a number of gentlemen specially interested in the export and wheat handling business; they have their agents, and they understand all the ramifications of the market, and know the prevailing prices abroad. Under the circumstances, it would be easy for that Board to say what is the export parity.
– On what basis do they make their calculation?
– I was not at their meetings, but apparently-
– The price fixed is substantially under the price at which we could sell wheat now at six or eight months ahead.
– That may be, but if the Premier of the Labour Administration of New South Wales and the Premier of the Labour Administration of Queensland are satisfied, I think we ought to be satisfied with the arrangements made. If it be assumed that the price of bread would be too high in Australia, then it is the duty of all the people to bear their proportion of the burden. As I said last week, I cannot see why the doctor, the lawyer, or the agent in the city who produces nothing in the way of food should get his cheap loaf and pay nothing towards providing a cheaper loaf for his poorer fellow-citizens. It would be most unfair to ask the farmer to provide the cheaper loaf; it is the duty of the State Governments, if the price of bread be considered too high, to buy the necessary wheat, and let the general community pay the difference by way of taxation.
So far as fixing the parity over a whole year is concerned, I think the Board has taken the wisest course. It is quite possible an application may be made for a large sale before the year ends; and how could the Board deal with a large order for many millions of bushels if they were afraid there might be a shortage here? It would be their duty to the producers to accept the highest price offered ; and, therefore, if it be desired to provide thepeople with a cheaper loaf the fairest and most feasible scheme is to ask the general community to contribute to the cost.
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has told us that he is not quite satisfied, but very nearly satisfied, with the arrangement made to pay half in cash and half in certificates for this season’s wheat.
– I was asked if I was “ more than satisfied,” and I replied that I was satisfied.
– At all events, the arrangement does not, as I understand it, give effect to the resolution that was carried by this House. That resolution affirmed the desirability of provision being made for part payment in certificates and part in cash.
– We have got that.
– And the resolution went on to say that for home consumption the price should be fixed on the world’s parity. That latter part of the resolution has not been given effect to. We are told that the price is to be a fixed one, and this, the Prime Minister says, is under the world’s parity.
– At the present moment.
– At the present moment. Whatever may be the merits of the decision of the Conference between the Prime Minister and the Wheat Board it does not give effect to the resolution that was carried in this House, and, consequently, I can quite understand that the honorable member for Dampier is not quite satisfied.
– I object to the honorable member putting words into my mouth.
– The amendment which the honorable member for Dampier had some difficulty in framing in order to get himself out of a difficulty - an amendment which I venture to say the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) helped him to frame - has not been given effect to as a result of this Conference. However, I am not much concerned about that amendment which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) launched in order to defeat the motion moved from this side of the House in favour of a five-shilling cash payment at the railway siding. I deeply regret that it should go forth to the greatmass of the wheat-growers that the definite promise made at the last election has been broken. The honorable member for Dampier says that the primary producers will be satisfied with the arrangement made to pay only 2s. 6d. on delivery, but from scores of resolutions sent to me, I believe that the keenest regret and disappointment will be the result, particularly in New South Wales - where the wheatgrowers are just recovering from a two years’ drought. It is all very fine for the Prime Minister to say that the growers will be able to use these certificates in paying for their agricultural implements, and so forth. That may be so. It may serve the interests of the wealthy primary producer, but it will be of very little good to the man in a small way who is facing big debts. It will be of no use for him. to go to those business people to whom he owes big bills. The only thing that will save a number of these people is cash. They are to get only 2s. 6d. per bushel, which will not save a number of them. I have letters which show that to be a fact. I quoted one to theHouse on Friday, showing that certain people inNew South Wales, if they do, not get a cash payment of 5s. at the railwaysiding will be unable to meet their obligations.
– What is the difference between 5s. and the proposed method of payment; that is, 2s. 6d. cash, and the rest in certificates?
– The difference is 100 per cent.
Mr.Hill. - The difference is 11/3d. per bushel at the most. The 2s. 6d. cash, together with his certificate at ninety days’ sight, is equivalent to 4s. 102/3d.
– The honorable member can put that construction on it, but he will admit that until the 30 th April a man cannot take his certificate to the bank and get cash for it.
– He can take it to the bank on the 1st February, and have it discounted, and the discount will cost him only 11/3d. per bushel.
– That is absurd in view of the statement which the honorable member himself has made that there is not enough money in the country to pay the full 5s. I have no doubt that it will be a very excellent arrangement for the banks. As well as we can estimate now, 6 per cent. on over £20,000,000 for about six months will mean £600,000 or £800,000 in interest to the banking institutions of Australia, so that it is an excellent deal for them, but it will be of very little use to the man who wants cash at the railway siding. We are told that he has a chance of getting 2s. 6d. at the railway siding, and the Prime Minister has said that the certificate means that he will have to wait only ninety days for the balance. I know places where they are going to begin harvesting in a fortnight’s time, so that it does not mean ninety days at all. It is more like double that number of days; so that, whichever way we look at it, it is not an arrangement that will be satisfactoryto the great bulk of those primary producers who, to use a colloquialism, are “ up against it.” That is so particularly in the State of New South Wales.
– Advances during the last three or four years have only been made towards the latter end of January or the beginning of February, so that this is no different from any other year.
– The honorable member is in a little bit. of. a difficulty in regard to this matter. He says that this year is no different from any other. Last: year the growers got their 5s., did they not?
– They got it. It was a payment of the full 5s., and when the promise was made by the Prime Minister the great bulk of them considered that it was to be interpreted in the same terms as previously, and that they would be in the same position as they were in last year.
– Five shillings last year is equivalent to a first payment of1s. 3d. per bushel on this season’s crop.
– The honorable member works it out that way. In fact, he has worked it out in several ways since he allowed himself to agree to the present arrangement. He knows that at Tungamah, which, if not in his own electorate, is very near it, a representative meeting of farmers was held the other day, and condemned him for his recent utterance on this question.
-I will get at the bottom of that farmers’ meeting in a day or two.
– The honorable member will be very lucky if they do not turn the tables on him, but I will leave him to deal with his own farmers in his own way. The fact remains that that meeting of farmers at Tungamah indorsed every word that I am saying to-day. I have had several letters to the same effect, even since the House passed the resolution the ether day. I have one which reached me only to-day, concerning a meeting in the Corowa district. This was said to be the largest meeting of primary producers ever held in the district: - it is not very far from the electorate of the honorable member for Echuca - and it carried unanimously a resolution that the farmers understood that the first payment would be one of 5s. at railway sidings. That is what they interpreted the Prime Minister’s pledge to mean. They said they wanted the full 5s. on delivery at railway siding. This is only one of the many large meetings that have been held throughout New South Wales. I am not only putting my own interpretation on the matter. I am putting that interpretation on it_ because nine out of every ten letters that have reached me from New South Wales bearing on this question show that resolutions were carried by the farmers in favour of a 5s. payment. I am concerned only with that aspect of it. People may twist and turn it in any way they like. I am not concerned about what was done the other day, but I am concerned with the fact that we are now definitely assured that effect is not to be given to the promise made by the Prime Minister at the hist election. We are told that the farmers are to be paid only 2s. 6d., and to receive for the rest a certificate which will be negotiable on the 30th April next year. That arrangement is no good to the man who is in the distress to-day.
– What is there new in the Prime Minister breaking his pledge?
– There is nothing new in the Prime Minister breaking a pledge, and if it were not for the seriousness of it we could overlook this breach of a pledge just as we have had to ‘ overlook many , more. I deeply regret that the matter has been decided in a way which is foreign to the definite pledge made by the Prime Minister at the last election. When the Government say that that pledge did not mean a cash payment of 5s. at railway sidings, my answer is that there was no reason why the man on the land should put a different construction on the pledge made at the last election from that which he’ put on the pledge made previously, when he received his full 5s. for the last year’s harvest. He had no reason to interpret it in any other way. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and other members of the Country party say, the primary producers will be disappointed with the present arrangement. If there is any satisfaction coming to any section of the primary producers over this arrangement, I believe they have to thank, not the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Wheat Board that was held last week, but the Labour party for submitting amotion to the House to compel the 5s. payment, because up to then nothing whatever was being done. No mention was made of the matter until the Labour party brought it up in this House. Although the primary producers have not got what they want, still, if they have anything at all to be thankful for, it is the fact that we submitted a motion to compel the Government to pay 5s. in cash at the railway sidings, and only for Country party members voting against that motion the farmers would have got their 5s. I believe it was. our action that stirred things up. No one else in the House said anything about it, and no one else seemed to care. I believe it was our party that stirred up the Prime Minister, and our honorable friends of the so-called Country party, to take an interest in the question.. From that aspect of the question alone am I thankful that any little satisfaction which any section of the primary producers will get out of the arrangement is the result “ of what the Labour party did to make the Prime Minister take some kind of action, when he appeared to have practically gone to sleep on the question. I take it as final that the Wheat Pool and our honorable friends in the Ministerial corner have all acquiesced in this little arrangement, which is eminently suitable to .the private banking institutions. The other side have all acquiesced, and are a happy family, and the only people who will not be happy are the unfortu- nate farmers who were looking for the 5s. in cash, but apparently are not to receive it; and even though the numbers are against me, I offer my emphatic protest against this gross breach of faith.
.- While I congratulate the wheat-growers, more particularly of the four States which produce a large quantity of wheat, I should like the House to consider what is to be done for the thousands of farmers in Queensland who are producing maize. Some arrangement ought to be made to guarantee them a minimum price for their product. There will be difficulty in securing space on oversea vessels, since, I understand, preference will be given to wheat and wool. They have suffered for the last two or two and a half years from a drought which has been more severe than they or the settlers in any other part of Australia have ever encountered. They grow an enormous quantity of maize, but no action whatever seems to be taken to safeguard their interests in the same way as the wheat interests are looked after. All primary producers, whether they grow wheat, maize, or sugar, should be treated exactly alike. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) made some remark about the world’s parity for sugar, but sugar is not a parallel case. Unfortunately, the Queensland Government commandeered the Queensland sugar crop for three seasons, and made an arrangement to sell it to the Commonwealth Government without this House having a say in the price until the whole deal was finalized. I think we are forgetting our obligations to the primary producers throughout the whole of the States, because those in certain States appear to possess larger and more influential representation. In common justice, something should be done to relieve the maize farmers of Queensland, who have had as bad a time, if not a worse time, than the wheat farmers have had during the past two and a-half years.
– What price does the honorable member suggest?
– That is a matter to be considered, but something should be done to give the Queensland maize growers the benefit of a fixed minimum price for their commodity.
– I listened with a good deal of interest to the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon, and find that he has kept half his promise, which is as much as anybody who knows him could expect him to do. That is my opinion, and I am giving it as such. Doubts have been thrown on the assertions made by members of this party, that the farmers of Australia understood that the first payment of 5s. would be in cash. Day by day we have received communications from the Farmers and Settlers Associations and Primary Producers Unions, which are the official associations of the primary producers, showing that they thought and believed, although of course that belief will now be dispelled, that they were to be paid the 5s. in cash. I intend to place upon the records of this Parliament the opinions of the farmers throughout the length and breadth of Australia, from whom resolutions to that effect have come. The Curlewis Branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association has asked me to place before the Prime Minister the following resolution, which was carried at a meeting recently held by it : -
That this meeting of farmers, resident in the Curlewis District of New South Wales, hereby resolve -
That for the past five years the wheatgrowing industry has suffered grievous hardships and pecuniary loss.
The farmers of the Commonwealth were encouraged by the specific promise made by the Prime Minister of Australia, at Bendigo, on the 20th October, 1920, when Mr. Hughes said, “ The Federal Government would guarantee wheat-growers to the amount of 5s. per bushel for wheat delivered at railway stations for years 1919-20 and 1920-21.”
This promise was honoured for the deliveries of last season.
The yield in New South Wales for 1919-20 averaged only 3 bushels per acre, and the financial resources of wheat-growers were strained to breaking point.
Largely owing to the promise made by the Prime Minister, that the guarantee would cover the 1920-21 crop, the Wheat-farmers of New South Wales put forth every effort and extended their acreage.
There is every prospect now pf a good return for their labour, and serious alarm is occasioned by the attitude of the Prime Minister in regard to the guarantee.
This meeting calls upon the Prime Minister to redeem his promise and have the necessary payment made in the same manner as obtained last season.
A similar resolution has been passed by the Emerald Hill Branch of the Association, as well as by many others, which I have not by me just now.
Whatever may be the view of the socalled Country party with regard to the proposal to issue certificates, I may say at once that it does not satisfy the wheatgrowers. The Country party in this House is hand in glove with the Prime Minister (Mr; Hughes) and the financial institutions. Those who back up the Government’s proposal must have been “ nobbled “ by the banks. Whether they know it or not, they are doing the work of the banks, who will make about £500,000 out of the discounting of these certificates. It is unreasonable to think that the small farmers will be able to adjust their financial difficulties if they have to go to the banking institutions with these certificates. It is destroying confidence in the resources of the Commonwealth to say that the Commonwealth is incapable of finding the money necessary to enable a cash payment of 5s. per bushel to be made in respect of all wheat delivered at railway sidings. It has been repeatedly pointed out by honorable members of the Labour party that during the war period the expenditure of the Commonwealth amounted to nearly £100,000,000 a year, and that, if the war had been waged for another twelve months, the Government would have continued to provide for that expenditure. No one will suggest that Australia would have pulled out of the war had it gone on for another twelve months, and that being so, those who assert that the Commonwealth cannot find the money to enable a cash payment of 5s. per bushel to be made are simply clouding the issue. War contractors and every one else who had dealings with the Government during the war period could be paid in cash. The expenditure involved in the Naval and Military Estimates can be paid in cash; but when the Government are asked, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise, to finance the primary producers - to stand by the men who make this Commonwealth possible - they reply they cannot find the money.
The Prime Minister, at the outset of this controversy told us that he would consult the banks, and that he felt convinced that they would stand behind the Government. The inference to be drawn from his statement was that he considered that the banking institutions are paramount, and that he is but a pawn or a plaything in their hands. Instead oi the Government being supreme, he seems to consider that the financial institutions are above the Government. If the banks were not prepared to do what was required of them in financing the primary producers, the Prime Minister should have come down with a proposal to extend the resources of the Commonwealth Bank, in order that the promisethat he made might be fulfilled. This is the hardest blow that has ever been struck at the primary producers of Australia, and, despite the attempts that may be made to misrepresent the position, I hope the farmers of the Commonwealth will see to it that the Government are not allowed to remain in a. position in which it can again hit them in the same way. The Prime Minister, and the Government as a whole, have once more broken their promise, and they have been supported in their breach of faith by members of the so-called Country party. It is surprising to hear the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), who is a member of the Australian Wheat Board, defending the attitude of the Government. He, the farmers’ representative on that Board, is one of the first to stand up for the Government in this matter.
– He stands up for what he believes to be right.
– The honorable member is in the Prime Minister’s “ bag.’’ The Prime Minister has got him “ nobbled.”
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark and to refrain from indulging in personalities.
– Then I will withdraw the honorable member for Echuca from the Prime Minister’s bag.
– Order ! The honorable member is aggravating his offence. I ask him to withdraw the remark unreservedly.
-I withdraw it, sir, but, as a small wheat-grower, I feel very strongly on this matter, believing that I have been deceived by the Government. No member of the Country party or of the National party will be able to justify his defence of the Government in regard to this matter.
We find that, as usual, the financial institutions, through the instrumentality of the Government, are to reap a rich harvest at the expense of the men in the back country. We on this side of the House regret that the Country party, which has been returned to this Parliament to safeguard the interests of the primary producers - to force the hands of the Government - has been the first to stand behind them in their three-card trick so far as this matter is concerned.
– I ask whether that remark is in order?
– The honorable member must not continue to disregard the rules of debate. He has just made another offensive allusion, which I ask him to withdraw.
– I withdraw it. It was a figure of speech, which reflected on the cards. In the deception that has been practised-
– Order! While making every allowance for the fact that the honorable member may feel strongly on this matter, I must ask him to address the House without casting reflections on others. The standing order which calls for decorum in debate must be observed.
– I have no desire to violate the Standing Orders, but’ I feel that I have been deceived by the Prime Minister’s guarantee of 5s. per bushel on all wheat delivered at railway sidings. The wheat-growers as a whole have been deceived in this matter. I trust that the primary producers throughout Australia will recognise that the Labour party have fought the Government on this question, that it has endeavoured to force their hands, and that it is only because of the stand made by members of the Labour party that they are to get what little the Ministry now propose to give them. But for our action I do not think the Prime Minister would have been prepared to make a cash payment of even 2s. 6d. per bushel. He would have simply issued a bond, which would probably have been redeemable only on the receipt of the Commonwealth’s share of the indemnity from Germany, of which we have heard so much and will see so little.
.- I do not intend to speak at length on this question, since I explained my attitude fully when it was last before the House. As a representative of one of the largest wheat-growing divisions in New South Wales here, I am profoundly disappointed with the arrangement which has been made under which a cash payment of only 2s. 6d. per bushel is to be made on delivery of wheat at railway sidings.
Mr.McWilliams. - There is to be another 2s. 6d. per bushel in ninety days.
– As to that, we shall have something to say later on. The farmers of New South Wales are not very much concerned just now as to the payment of world’s parity, since, as the result of the additional 2s. 6d. per bushel which the State Government has promised to give them, they have been guaranteed almost that amount. Their chief concern is that the first cash payment made shall be sufficiently large to tide them over their financial obligations, and to enable them to set about next season’s work. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has stated that the farmers are to receive 2s. 6d. per bushel in cash, and that certificates for the balance will be issued. The argument used today is that we have not the money available to enable an initial cash payment of 5s. per bushel to be made.’ The Prime Minister, however, has naively told us that, although the Government cannot find the money to make an initial cash payment of 5s. per bushel, the banks, in all probability, will be able almost immediately to discount the certificates. The certificates, after all, are only credit instruments, and, that being so, why should it not be possible for the banks to create at once credit instruments in respect of the whole guarantee of 5s. per bushel?
– What is Mr. Storey going to do?
– The honorable member and those who think with him should thank God that there is a State Labour Premier whom they can always drag into these discussions. Mr. Storey has nothing to do with this Parliament, but, as Premier of New South Wales, he has made a promise which I am convinced he will fulfil. I am reminded by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle) that, unlike that made by the Prime Minister, it was not an electioneering promise - that Mr. Storey and his party had safely negotiated the rapids of a general election, and were in power when he guaranteed the additional 2s. 6d. per bushel.
– But he has a very shaky majority.
– And this Government would have a very shaky majority if the honorable member and his party were true to the pledges they gave the people at the last general election. We have been told that the certificates in respect of a payment of 2s. 6d. per bushel will be cashed almost immediately by the banking institutions. I must repeat the statement I made the other day that honorable members opposite, who profess to represent the primary producers, in going to the huge financial institutions, have appealed to the greatest financial enemy that the primary producers have. They met the representatives of these institutions in conference and allowed them the greater say in determining how the farmers shall be granted a credit - a credit which will be created by their own wheat. The plea that this credit cannot be at once granted to the extent of 5s. per bushel is so much camouflage. The very statement of the Prime Minister that cash to the extent of 2s. 6d. per bushel will be paid immediately, and that certificates will be issued for the balance - certificates whichthe banks will discount - is conclusive evidence of that. The banking institutions are to get a “ cut” out of the farmers’ produce. When certificates are issued the banks will discount them at their own rate.
– They will have their pound of flesh.
– The Government have not sufficient courage to attempt to dictate terms to the financial institutions of this country, and they never had. However, their action is being supported by the so-called Country party, and therefore I recognise that protests are useless. Although we are told that it is not possible to give the farmer the immediate use of the credit which his own wheat will create, we are assured that the banks will issue certificates against the balance of the guarantee of 5s. per bushel and will negotiate those certificates at a discount. This is another instance of the Government backing up the wealthy financial institutions of this country by enabling them to exact a little more from our primary producers. I enter my protest against the agreement. It would be just as easy to grant the farmer a credit to the full extent of 5s. per bushel as it will be to pay him 2s. 6d. per bushel in cash and to issue a certificate for the balance, which the banks will be willing to discount almost immediately.
.- I scarcely know how to breathe, because of the numerous bouquets which have been thrown at me by honorable members opposite. I wish I could believe that all that they have said this afternoon was sincere. As a member of the Wheat Board, I have been in close consultation with the Prime Minister, with the various members of that Board, with the State Premiers, and with the Ministers for Agriculture of the various States. The determinations which we have arrived at have been unanimous determinations. Mr. Storey and Mr. Dunn, whom I very much like, and indeed love, were members of the Board.
– Did the honorable member say “ love “ ?
– Yes. There are some individuals for whom one feels an instinctive liking, and Mr. Dunn is one of them. He is a member of the Wheat Board, and I appreciate the help which he gave to us. I wish that my honorable friends opposite were as fair as he is.
– I have always heard Labour men praised by honorable members opposite when they did not happen to be in Parliament. But when we are here we are always wrong.
– I listened very attentively to the lengthy statement of the Prime Minister, and I entirely agree with everything that he said.
– That is just what we would expect the honorable member to do.
– It is just what honorable members opposite in their hearts did not expect me to do. They know that I do not always agree with the Prime Minister. But I did agree with him in the attitude which he took up in regard to the guarantee of 5s. per bushel. However, I have no desire to discuss that matter now, although it has been dragged in by honorable members opposite. When we reflect that the arrangement which has been made is for a cash payment to our farmers of 2s. 6d. per bushel for their wheat, and for a further payment by the issue of certificates of approximately 2s. 42/3d. per bushel, making a total payment upon the 1st May next of 4s.102/3d. per bushel, it will be admitted that the Government have gone a long way towards redeeming their promise, even if that promise be interpreted to mean a first cash payment of 5s. per bushel. In my opinion, the payment of 4s.102/3d. per bushel will enable the majority of our farmers in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria to pay their debts and to continue solvent. The New South Wales farmers have been promised an additional 2s. 6d. per bushel, so that, in all the circumstances, if they have not been well treated, they have been fairly treated. The whole object of the recent Conference was to deal as fairly as possible, not merely with the producer, but with the consumer.
– May I ask a question? Who will get the other11/3d. per bushel?
– I presume the man who discounts the bill.
– The banks, of course.
– Did the honorable member ever do anything for nothing ?
– If the banks can pay 4s.102/3d. per bushel for our wheat, why cannot they pay the full 5s. per bushel?
– I am perfectly satisfied that the great majority of our farmers in practically every State will be thoroughly satisfied with the arrangement which has been made.
– I do not know of a single farmer who will be satisfied with it.
– Honorable members opposite have read letters, setting out the views of some farmers upon the guarantee of 5s. per bushel. But I have been the recipient of many letters in which my correspondents have maintained the opposite view, and in which they have congratulated me upon the attitude that I have taken up. The Prime Minister made a detailed statement this afternoon which was accurate in every particular. The Conference sat for five or six days, during which time it carefully considered every phase of the situation, the endeavour of its members being to deal equitably between the producer upon the one side, and the consumer upon the other.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th October, vide page 6109) :
British subject previously to her marriage to an alien, and whose husband has died, or whose marriage has been dissolved, the requirements of this section as to residence shall not apply, and, the Governor-General may, in any other special case, if he thinks fit, grant a certificate of naturalization, although the four years’ residence or five years’ service has not been within the last eight years before the application . . . .
Upon which Mr. Brennan had moved by way of amendment -
That the words “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 requirements of this section as to residence shall not apply, and “ be left out.
.- I think it would be more convenient if the issue raised in my proposal were discussed at a later stage, and, therefore, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- A good deal of misconception appears to exist in regard to this clause. Quite a number of persons imagine that because honorable members upon this side of the chamber object to extending the . residential qualification in the case of all aliens from two to five years, we are pleading for aliens from those countries with which we have recently been at war. Personally, I urge the claim upon behalf of all aliens.
– A five years’ residential qualification is imposed by the law of the United States of America.
– No. I have worked alongside aliens who were naturalized in the United States of America, although they have been resident in that country for only six months.
– How many years ago?
– It was in 1892. These men treated the taking out of naturalization papers as a joke.
– I am assured that the period of residence required there to-day is five years.
– I am satisfied that it is not. While I do not undervalue the privileges of citizenship of any country, we ought not to make it more difficult for aliens to become naturalized here. Under this Bill the very men who during the late war were termed by honorable members opposite “ our gallant Allies “ - I refer to Frenchmen, Italians, Belgians, and Americans - will be required to reside within the Commonwealth for five years before they can become naturalized. We are thus raising against them a greater barrier than existed prior to the war. This has nothing at all to do with the Germans. Those who must now wait for five years before they can be naturalized include citizens of countries whose soldiers fought side by side with ours in the Great War.
– The United States of America cannot complain of this proposed piece of legislation.
– Does the honorable member think it wise to follow a bad example? We have heard a lot of talk about our gallant Allies, and how they stoodshoulder to shoulder with us ; but what are we doing to them now?
– The Japanese were also our Allies.
– They are dealt with under a separate Statute, and if there were any proposition to modify our laws in respect of the Japanese I would oppose it.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Persons previously naturalized).
.- I note that sub-clause 2 places the grant of a certificate, in the case of a person who has been previously naturalized and desires to receive a certificate under this Statute in the absolute discretion of the Governor-General, who may, without assigning any reasons, withhold the certificate; whereupon there can be no appeal from his decision. That scarcely appears to be fair. This clause does not involve the granting of a new certificate; but it is to be discretionary whether or not a person already naturalized shall be permitted to receive the wider certificate obtainable under this measure.
.- The rights of persons naturalized under the Commonwealth Act have been already secured. But what is the exact position of those who have been naturalized under one of the State Acts, and to whom the Governor-General may not wish to give the further general certificate of naturalization under this measure? How do, such people stand, particularly regarding the matter of revocation? Although they are naturalized now, what will be their status if they are refused naturalization in the terms of this clause?
– It is my intention, later, to move for the insertion of a new clause under the terms of which a State certificate may be amended. There is nothing in our laws at present to prevent a person who holds a State certificate from surrendering it, and applying to come under the Commonwealth Act. There have been complaints concerning inaccuracies in old State certificates. One such was brought under my notice recently by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). According to the applicant, misstatements appeared in his certificate respecting age and birthplace. As the law stands at this moment, a State certificate cannot be amended; but my proposed new clause -will provide for such circumstances. Any one now holding a State certificate can, and could for some time past, apply for a Commonwealth certificate.
– But if he were refused the Commonwealth certificate, where would be stand.?
– He would still hold his State certificate. This clause will not affect any existing certificate. (Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Persons under disability).
.- This clause deals with several matters, the first of which is that it enables a person making application for a certificate of naturalization to apply to have the name of minor children included in the certificate. The existing law provides that where minor children have resided in this country with an alien they become entitled to a certificate of naturalization, and one would have thought that that was sufficient to secure to these infants all the rights of naturalized persons. Unfortunately, however, we have had the recent experience of war, and the status of, notably, Italians resident in this country, to remind us that, in their case, although there were infants who have since come to manhood, and who had qualified in that way for letters of naturalization, having made formal application for the papers, some of them were on the list provided by the Italian Consul as being Italian citizens and fit subjects for deportation under that monstrous policy pursued by the Government with the connivance of the Italian Consul during the war. The disastrous consequence followed that, whilst the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), acting upon, without question, the certificate of the Italian Consul, was permitting a system of deportation, the Minister for Home and Territories - the predecessor of the present Minister - was issuing certificates showing that these young men were naturalized persons.; and they would have been deported but for the agitation raised by honorable members on this side of the chamber and others outside. In addition to that, it may be relevant to say that persons who, in their own right, had obtained certificates of naturalization, were seized and arrested and would have been deported had it not been for the sane resistance and protest of the Labour party. It may be convenient, and it is fair in principle, that a person now applying may nominate infant children to get the benefit of a certificate which will be a safeguard to these young people in after years.
There then follows in this clause that general reservation of discretion in the Minister, which is a principle running throughout the Bill, and which, I may say, I cannot altogether quarrel with, because we must have discretion resting somewhere in the granting of certificates of naturalization, and, after all, one can hardly imagine a place where it could better rest than with the Minister who is in turn responsible to Parliament.
In sub-clause 3 of this clause these words occur : “ Except as provided by this
Act, a certificate of naturalization shall not be granted to any person under disability.” In the definition, which we have already adopted, a married woman is a person under disability, and I propose at this stage, although we have not considered that part of the Bill which deals more fully with the status of married women, to move an amendment because I may. be precluded later. I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided that no woman born in Australia, and being a natural-born British subject, shall cease to be a British subject by reason merely of her marriage with an alien.”
I desire to safeguard the interests of those Australian women, who, being born here, are, at the time of their birth and up to the time of their marriage, entitled to all the rights of British citizenship, and who are, as we perhaps prefer to say, Australian citizens. It seems to be taken for granted that the acceptance of a proposal of this kind would be a radical departure, not only from British legislation, but also from the practice obtaining, forthe most part, throughout the civilized world. I endeavoured to show, on the motion for the second reading, that it would not be so. In America, at all events, though the law is somewhat obscure, they seem to jealously guard the status of their American-born women, and the marriage of an American girl to an alien does not destroy the American nationality of the woman. In several of the South American Republics the same law exists. In America it prevails so long as the woman continues to be domiciled in the United States of America. In Haiti and Venezuela it continues under all circumstances. In the emancipation of women we have advanced considerably in regard to their contractual and property rights, and generally we have, by legislation, as well as by our moral code, raised the status of women very considerably from the tune when man, being the stronger animal, determined it by threats with a club or other lethal weapon. We have made considerable advance as regards property and contractual rights and their standing as citizens, and women are now entitled to the same protection as men. It is therefore curious, in the twentieth century that a girl born in this country, and never having been out of it, should find herself, by reason of marriage, declared to be of German, Austrian, or French nationality when foreign blood does not flow in her veins. We have now determined that it will take five years to qualify for nationality in this country. It may be, therefore, even with the very strongest desire and in the best of good faith on the part of a man to become naturalized, thathe may find himself in the Commonwealth for, say, three years, but disqualified from marriage with an Australian girl because she feels that if she contracts marriage she will lose her citizen rights.
– I do not think that will retard many, other things being equal.
– It may not retard them from marrying, but it might lead to serious consequences in the event of war or the possibility of war. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell)’ must know, as I do, that the position of an alien - whether an alien by the artificial process of marriage or by birth - in the disturbed time of war is an unenviable one. If our feeling is to be one of hostility and distrust towards those who come from other countries, we should see, at least, that the rights of people born in Australia are protected, and that they are not arbitrarily thrown into the ranks of the enemy by a foolish law of the character now existing. In these circumstances, women must realize that a man may never be granted a certificate of naturalization, as the Minister in his discretion may never be prepared to grant it. We have hedged this law around with stringent provisions, but, having doneso, we should be very careful not to detrimentally affect our own people.
– I cannot accept the amendment. The object of the Bill is to secure uniformity in legislation of this character within the Empire, and the clause under discussion follows on that principle.
– But we do not want to follow Great Britain slavishly in everything.
– The honorable member may not want this legislation at all. There are other people who do. The Bill offers greater scope for naturalization than any of existing legislation, because it provides for Empire naturalization. If a woman marries a foreigner who intends to leave Australia, surely it is uo hardship to say that she shall take the nationality of her husband. If, on the other hand, an Australian-born woman marries a foreigner who remains in Australia, why should not the husband become naturalized?
– Because he has to live here for five years before he can apply for naturalization.
– I understand, although the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) thinks otherwise, that the American law contains the same provisions as are in this Bill. I will not be dogmatic about some of the minor Republics, but I understand that under the United States of America law a woman marrying a foreigner takes the nationality of her husband whether she is American-born or not. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the foreigner becoming naturalized except the limitation of time which, after all, is a very short period in the lifetime of any person.
– Suppose, as sometimes happens, an alien husband of an Australian-born woman clears out and leaves her? Under this Bill she will lose her nationality altogether.
– The honorable member is quoting an extreme case which is not touched by the amendment.
– I know; but it is a case in point.
– In that case the wife would for the time being lose her nationality, but the principle laid down in this Bill is the law of every civilized community.
– If an Australian-born man married a foreign woman, he would not be deprived of his rights.
– No, because under the law the wife takes the nationality of her husband. I repeat that the clause now under discussion is based on the English law for the purpose of securing uniformity. Otherwise there would have been no necessity to introduce the Bill.
– Perhaps there was no necessity for it.
– There was. For years we have had complaints that foreigners, who had become naturalized in Australia, were regarded as aliens in New Zealand if they took up residence in that Dominion, and vice versâ. This question has been the subject of many Imperial Conferences, and the object of the Bill is to bring about Imperial uniformity.
– It is the thin end of the wedge of Imperial Federation.
– It is reciprocity in legislation.
– There is no doubt that, as the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has suggested, this is the thin end of the wedge of Imperial Federation. We are getting nearer to that state of things every day. Our laws are being framed on what we think they want in the dear old Mother Country.
– I presume that, if a foreigner, married to an Australian woman, deserted her, she would get divorce and regain her nationality, and that, if she became a widow, she would have the same rights.
– If we get much more legislation based on the idea of uniformity with the law in Great Britain, we shall undoubtedly be getting nearer to Imperial Federation, and the charge that this Parliament readily acquiesces in such legislative proposals will have much greater weight. As a representative of Australian Democracy I am not going to follow slavishly any British law at all. In regard to naturalization, the sooner we break away rather than follow British law the better it will be. There is no reason on earth why an Australianborn woman should not have the same rights as an Australian-born man; but in this Bill we are restricting her rights. Why should we, by means of this measure, limit the field of matrimony to any Australian-born woman? The whole thing is preposterous, and I am surprised that anybody should accept the principle. But I do not think it will be accepted. I know, however, that we are like voices in the wilderness in our objection to this measure, and are met with the contention that our legislation must be brought into conformity with that of the dear old Motherland.
-We owe the dear old Motherland a lot, you know.
– Perhapswe do, but we owe her nothing so far as naturalization is concerned. It was only a little while ago that Great Britain gave women in the United Kingdom any political rights at all. In Australia we should take the stand that women should have the same privileges as men; that a mother, like the father, should be sued for desertion of her children.
– The only case that this clause will affect will be that of an Australian-born woman married to a foreigner who deliberately refuses to become naturalized.
– Well, I am surprised that the Minister will not accept the amendment. He has told us that none of the privileges obtained tinder State laws will be taken away by this measure, but we are not now allowing any opportunity for naturalization under a State law. Nobody has a right to deprive any native-born Australian woman of her birthright. Indeed, I doubt the authority of the Government to take away the birthright of any child born in Australia of an alien father, though in this Bill we say that, if a father be an unnaturalized foreigner, the mother becomes denaturalized.
– Do you carry your argument farther, and include an Australianborn child of a Chinese father?
– I say that all children born in this country are Australian, whether the father is naturalized or not. We cannot get away from the fact that they are Australian-born citizens. It has been held in Conservative Great Britain that a father cannot sell his child’s birthright, even if he leaves England and becomes a naturalized subject of the United States of America ; but in this Bill we say that an Australianborn woman who marries a foreigner loses her nationality and her children become denaturalized. I suppose that we shall have to leave the matter, as the Minister will not accept an amendment; but I can assure him that this will not make the ties with the Motherland any stronger, because for the future we shall watch more jealously any proposal to fritter away our rights on the plea that it is desirable to have uniformity with the British law.
.- I do not wish to delay the Committee except with a few words. When I spoke of the position in America, I had in mind a passage which I had read in Hall’s International Law, seventh edition. He touches this subject, but does not, I admit, appear to be very positive. On page 238 of the last edition he says -
Except in some American countries, the nationality of a wife is merged in that of her husband, so that when a woman marries a foreigner she loses her own nationality and acquires his, and a subsequent change of nationality on his part carries with it, of course, a like change on her side. By the law of the United States of America, a native woman marrying a foreigner, perhaps, remained a subject of her State, though an alien woman marrying an American citizen becomes herself naturalized; by that of Ecuador, a native woman retains her nationality so long as she stays in the country; and in Venezuela and Haiti she keeps it in all circumstances.
I observe in the note to that passage that Mr. Hall points out that the American law on the subject is notclear, but it appears to be as I have stated. I was referring to this statement when I spoke of the United States of America as having adopted this principle. The Minister has asked why should not an Australianborn woman marrying a foreigner who is about to return to his own country take the nationality of her husband. My amendment will not in the slightest degree prevent her from doing this. It merely states that by reason only of her marriage with an alien she shall not cease to be a British subject.
– Burges’ Colonial and Foreign Law shows that an American woman who marries an alien takes the nationality of her husband, and it gives a list of countries to which this law applies, such as France, Greece, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Japan.
– Well, I have quoted an authority sufficient to show that I am not speaking without some knowledge of the subject. If an Australian girl, having married an alien, desires to leave this country she may become naturalized in another country or in the country in which her husband resides, and may become recognised as a citizen of that country, but it ought to be quite a simple matter to provide in this Bill that at least while she is domiciled in Australia she will maintain her rights as an Australian citizen, and therefore also her rights as a British subject. However, my view is that we should not make any limitation, but that we should leave untouched and inviolate the Australian rights of any Australian-born woman.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has made out a good case for his amendment, with which I am in sympathy, but as the Minister (Mr. Poynton) tells us that the object of this Bill is to standardize naturalization throughout the Empire we ought to be clear on the point as to whether any amendments, if carried, will wreck the Bill. If we are not allowed to make any amendments, there is no advantage to be gained by discussing the Bill, and it becomes simply a question of whether it is worth while having uniformity or not. It would be well for the Minister to say whether the carrying of this amendment would damn the Bill.
– I have already indicated that it would.
– In that case we are only wasting time by prolonging the discussion.
.- The very circumstance which the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) has pointed out simply demonstrates the fact that we are not masters of our own business. Apparently the insertion of a provision to protect the interests of an Australian citizen would be fatal to the Bill, and it is emphasized by the Minister that we must not do anything to disturb what has already been done in some other part of the Empire. I hold that we ought to have some voice in the making of legislation which it is sought to have applied uniformly.
– There is nothing to prevent us from altering the Bill.
– But the Minister tells us that any alteration would be fatal to it.,
– How can we have uniform legislation upon this subject throughout the Empire if the naturalization laws in different parts of the Empire vary in respect to certain conditions?
– I do not ask for any differentiation in respect to certain sets of circumstances, but I claim that we ought to have some voice in the framing of an agreement to which we are asked to become a party, and that those whose interests we represent should be able to realize that they are protected. When we are asked to accept without qualification legislation already decided upon elsewhere, how can we continue to be a self-governing Dominion ?
– The honorable member is at liberty to fight for an amendment, and if he cannot succeed, well and good.
– I realize that I am entitled to fight for an amendment; but, in regard to this Bill, a fundamental principle, which we always thought governed our legislation in Australia, namely, the power to determine our own affairs, is absolutely destroyed. As an Australian, I am not prepared to delegate to any other part of the Empire the power to determine the nature of legislation to be enforced in Australia. I want to see the citizens of this country kept free from any outside interference in respect to determining what laws shall apply here. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has rightly pointed out, this legislation affects vitally the interests of our women-folk. To make an Australianborn woman, who chooses to marry a person who is not naturalized here, an alien, is not in keeping with the elementary principles of justice. This legislation certainly does not conserve the interests of our own people, whose birthright it is to be regarded as Australian citizens. An Australian-born man can marry an alien woman, and still be regarded as having fulfilled allthe conditions attaching to his citizenship; but an Australian-born woman who marries an alien is to be deprived of her birthright as an Australian.
– That is the law to-day.
– I quite understand the position; but we should always be willing to remove any undesirable feature of our legislation; that is our duty here.
– And at the same time deprive ourselves of the advantage to be gained by passing this Bill.
– By passing this Bill as it stands we shall deprive ourselves of a number of Australian citizens. Legislation which will do this cannot be described as desirable and advantageous, particularly in a country which is seeking population. If we deprive Australia of her natural-born citizens by making them aliens, we cannot prosper as we should.
– That argument would hold good if the honorable member could show that the Government would prevent aliens from becoming naturalized.
– At the end of five years circumstances may arise that may prevent an alien from becoming naturalized. We do not know what will happen within five years. A woman who marries an alien and is thus deprived of her nationality as an Australian, may hope to be restored to her nationality at the end of five years, but may be met by a set of circumstances under which the Government are not prepared to naturalize her husband.
– In ninety -nine cases out of a hundred the Government would agree to issue the naturalization papers.
– It is the hundredth case whose interests I am endeavouring to protect. My object in rising is to protect the womanhood of Australia from such legislation as this, particularly when it has not received the wholehearted indorsement of an Australian Parliament. A Democracy should demand equality of sex in the rights of citizenship. This legislation comes to us with a request that because it has been adopted in other parts of the Empire we should slavishly follow it here. I am certainly opposed to such a course where Australian interests are involved.
.- We are a sovereign people, with a free Constitution, and entitled to determine matters for ourselves without dictation from elsewhere. Therefore, the proposition that we should conform to legislation of this character because it has been agreed to outside Australia does not appeal to me. This Bill may be part of an
Imperial scheme, but, so far, Australia has not even accepted British naturalization, but has had its own law in this regard. It has not even permitted any naturalization certificate issued in any other part of the Empire to hold good here. This was a safe course for us to adopt, and it will be a safe course for us to continue. As it is quite possible that aliens who may have been naturalized in other parts of the Empire may not be considered proper persons to be naturalized here, it is a power we ought to reserve to ourselves. However, the idea that we should adopt a clause because it has been included in legislation in another part of the Empire should have no support from us. Of course, if the merits of the provision suggest its adoption, it is quite a different matter. It seems to me absurd that an Australianborn woman, whose parents may be Australians, and probably of British descent, should, on marrying an alien, lose her Australian rights of citizenship, and be able to acquire them again only on the naturalization of her husband. I support the amendment, because I think that men and women should have equal treatment in matters of this kind. It is to the women of Australia that we look for the rearing and bringing up of future generations. The only argument for the provision in the Bill seems to be that it conforms with the law in other parts of the Empire; but if we are to take our laws from other places, we may as well get rid of this Parliament’ altogether. My view is that if the provision in the Bill cannot be supported on its own merits, it should be rejected, no matter where it may have originated.
.- I am unable to understand the Minister’s statement that if the amendment is accepted the Bill will be rendered null and void.Why should that be so ?
– Because it will destroy the uniformity of our law with that of the Empire.
– Where is it stated that if our law is not made uniform with that of the Empire the Bill will be null and void ?
– Look at the English Act.
– I know nothing there to support the declaration that the acceptance of the amendment will render the Bill null and void, so far as the Empirewide operation of naturalization certificates is concerned. I have already argued that it is possible, if we so desire, to provide for an Australian naturalization, allowing those who wish for an Empire naturalization .to obtain it by complying with the necessary conditions, such as the five years’ residence. At the present time, an alien can be naturalized in Australia after a residence of two years. Why cannot we retain this condition in respect of Australian naturalization, and, as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has suggested, give an Empirewide certificate of naturalization to those who desire it, and comply with the conditions? The Minister said that that would require the issue of certificates of different kinds, which would cause confusion and difficulty. That objection, however, does not apply to the amendment, which provides simply for the declaration by the Committee that an Australian woman shall not, on being married to an alien, thereby be deprived of her Australian nationality, but may remain an Australian if she cares to do so. In making such a declaration, we ‘should not be asking the British Empire to recognise anything. The only document which can be recognised as Empire-wide in its operation is the certificate, and the amendment says nothing of such certificate. All it says is that a woman need not give up her Australian nationality on marrying a foreigner. The British Empire is not being asked to recognise anything. I shall be glad if the Minister can refer me to any part of the measure, or to any correspondence indicating that the amendment will render the Bill null and void.
– Sub-clause 3 of clause 5 in the first schedule says -
Except as provided by this Act, a certificate of naturalization shall not be granted to any person under disability.
– That sub-clause refers to certificates; but the amendment does not provide for - the granting of a certificate to any person. The woman who marries an alien will have no document or certificate except her marriage certificate, which is not the certificate referred to in the schedule. No provision is made for the issue of a certificate, and the amendment can have only an Australian operation. I hope that the Minister will consider the proposal from that point of view. It is only fair that he should do so, especially when a member like the honorable member for Moreton is convinced ‘of the soundness of the argument, but says that, because of some artificial obstacle, he cannot support the amendment.
– I did not say that I would not support it; but I do not wish to lose the .whole Bill.
– I do not think that the Bill would be lost by the carrying of the amendment.
.- I join with other honorable members in appealing to the Minister to accept the amendment. It seems to me very unfair to say that, if an Australian-born woman marries a foreigner, she shall lose her nationality. With her nationality such a woman loses citizen privileges, and among them the franchise. I have known Australian women to marry foreigners who have always been good Australian citizens. In some cases, unfortunately, the husbands did not get naturalized before the war, though to all intents and purposes they were as good citizens as any of British nationality. It is proposed that, if a woman marries an unnaturalized person, she shall lose her citizenship, and shall not be entitled to vote until her husband has resided in Australia for five years. Previously the term of residence was two years. There is no justification for legislation -to restrict the rights of citizenship to this extent. The plea advanced for the provision in the Bill is that it will secure uniformity. For some time past we have been drifting away from what was the practice before the war, and, instead of legislating for ourselves in the interests of this community, have been accepting legislation drafted for us in some other part of the world.- Now, when we show clearly the need for an amendment of the law;, we are told by the Minister that it cannot be accepted, because the Bill would then not be in conformity with what the British Government has determined.
– The question is, shall we have uniformity or not?
– This matter has been brought up at a number of Imperial Conferences at the request of our own representatives.
– What is the difference between permitting persons outside Australia to draft legislation for us and being unable to amend proposals for legislation, because their amendment would prevent them from being uniform with legislation drafted elsewhere ?
– We may do as we please.
– That is my contention; but, for some time, in place of legislating for Australian conditions, which are different from those obtaining in many other British Dominions, we have been slavishly following in regard to some matters, the lines laid down by other representative assemblies in the British Empire. That is not fair. The arguments advanced in opposition to this ‘amendment are not bond fide. It would not interfere in the least with the desire of the Government to secure uniformity if we enacted that two years’ residence should be a sufficient qualification for naturalization in Australia, and that five years’ residence should be required in the case of Empire naturalization. Why should we, because of any proposal put before a Conference held elsewhere, take away existing rights ? Where an Australian woman marries a foreigner she ought not to lose her rights as an Australian citizen. She should continue in possession of all the Tights of citizenship of the country in which she was born.
– I am at a loss to account for the argument that has been advanced by honorable members opposite to the effect that our work in this Parliament is dominated by legislation passed in Great Britain. The suggestion is preposterous. This Parliament can do exactly as it pleases, within the limits of the Constitution, but if, in respect of naturalization laws, we desire uniformity throughout the British Empire, we must follow as nearly as possible the lines laid down in other parts of the Empire.
– There is no reason why we should not ‘ provide that two years’ residence shall be a sufficient qualification for naturalization in Australia, and that after five years’ residence a certificate in respect of Empire naturalization shall be issued.
– No; but the Committee has already dealt with that point. The majority decided against the honorable member’s contention, not because they were bound by legislation passed by any other country, but .because they believed in the principle laid down. It is absurd to say that we cannot impose whatever conditions we please. The only question in this case is as to whether or not uniform legislation is desirable. If it is, then we must follow the lines laid down by the Minister (Mr. Poynton). The honorable gentleman has said openly, “ I desire uniformity in this regard. I believe that uniform naturalization laws throughout the Empire are very desirable.”
– In what respect does this measure differ from others, such as the Workers’ Compensation Act, that we should* almost literally follow the English Act?
– The Minister says that he desires uniformity in respect of this legislation, but that does not affect our privileges in any shape or form. Although there is at the end of this clause a reference to persons “ under disability,” it seems to me that we could deal better with this question when we come to clause 17. It is provided in that clause that the wife of a British subject shall be deemed to be a British subject, and that the wife of an alien shall be deemed to be an alien.
– By the time that we reached that clause we should already have placed this embargo in the Bill.
– Not at all. It is on clause 17 that this question should be raised. Assuming that it will be discussed at that stage, I do not propose to deal with it now, except to say that I think we are right in providing that when an Australian-born woman marries ‘ an alien she shall take the nationality of her husband? That principle has always been observed, and I am quite in accord with the provisions of clause 17, on which I think this amendment should be dealt with.
– I would suggest that the honorable member for. Batman (Mr. Brennan) withdraw his amendment and bring it forward again when we reach clause 17. I understand that that clause could be so amended as to carry out the object which the honorable member has in view, while at the same time not affecting the principle of the Bill in regard to Empire naturalization. If it is considered by the Committee that there should be inserted in the Bill a’ provision which would enable an Australian-born woman married to an alien to retain her nationality, such an amendment could be made in clause 17 without materially interfering with the scope of the whole Bill, as we should do by amending this clause in the way now proposed.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- I was anxious to have the definition of “ disability “ in clause 5 altered as regards the reference to married women. The wisest course would be to remove the disability on women who marry foreigners by accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) on this clause. It is all very well to say that women have an opportunity to marry Australians and need not marry aliens, but unfortunately women will select their own husbands. We have now provided that an alien must be in this country for five years before he can become naturalized, and a woman will not wait five years to get married.
.- I do not see why the Minister (Mr. Poynton) should not accept the amendment. The only reason he has put forward is that the Imperial Conference, or a Conference of the various Dominions and Great Britain, decided upon uniform legislation on this and other matters. While I do not attach very great importance to the question of naturalization, in view of our experience of its “ benefits “ during the. war period, it seems to me that the Minister’s contention that we should pass this Bill because the Imperial authorities desire uniform legislation on the subject throughout the Empire is not a very sound argument why the people of Australia should allow Australian women who marry foreigners to lose their nationality rights. If the Minister’s contention is correct, the same argument would have applied to the enfranchisement of women in Australia. When Bills were introduced to confer the franchise on all Australian women of the age of twenty-one years, it might similarly have been argued that they should not be passed because all women in Great. Britain were not enfranchised. Only women with certain property qualifications are allowed to vote in Great Britain. The Minister’s argument would mean that various other parts of the Empire would have to remain backward in their legislation until Imperial headquarters saw fit to advance.
– Your argument would be good if we were passing a franchise Bill, but we are not.
– The fact that the present Ministry were not in power when Australian women were enfranchised does not destroy the principle which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is trying to establish.
– I voted for the enfranchisement of women twenty-six years ago.
– I know the honorable member did, but if he were logical he should have opposed the Bill to enfranchise Australian women on the ground that the reform had not taken place in Great Britain. According to the Minister, whatever is decided by the Imperial Conference, or the Round Table group, or whoever it is that is endeavouring to foist the Imperial Federation scheme upon the Dominions and take away their self-governing rights, must be adopted by us without amendment.
– It is quite optional whether you take the Bill or not.
– In one sense it is. The Minister says Parliament can decide if it wishes in favour of this amendment, but, on the other hand, any one who knows the proceedings of this Parliament may besure that the majority who. follow the Government will tamely acquiesce in whatever they do. An arrangement is first come to at the Imperial Conference and then it is passed through this Legislature after a pretence at debate.
– The law concerning the nationality of women was the same when your Ministry were in power.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- An attempt is being made now to remedy a defect that is recognised in existing legislation, but the fact that the Labour Government who were in power some time previously did not take the opportunity to make this amendment is no reason why the present Government should not remedy it. The Minister’s interjection may be good party tactics, but it is very bad logic. It does not affect the principle. I fail to see why the plea for uniformity should be allowed to defeat an amendment which is calculated to protect the women of Australia who marry foreigners, more especially when it is proposed to increase the qualifying period for naturalization from two to five years. An Australian woman who marries a foreigner, who afterwards deserts her, is robbed of her rights as a citizen, in addition to being left here to battle along as best she can. Such cases may be rare, but the Minister has admitted that they can occur.
– She is entitled to divorce in those circumstances, and then would be able to obtain the franchise.
– She would have to wait a long period before she could sue for divorce.
– The period varies in the different States.
– It is three years in Victoria.
– All that could be avoided by accepting this amendment, and the woman would not be under the necessity of going to the expense and trouble of securing a divorce in order to regain whatever citizen rights she had before she married. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has shown an easy way to overcome the difficulty, by having a dual system of Imperial citizenship and Australian citizenship functioning side by side. The only reply to our arguments throughout the debate has been the plea that we have agreed at the Imperial Conference, or made some other arrangement, to bring our legislation into conformity with that of the rest of the Empire. No case has been put forward against this amendment except that continual cry for uniformity. No attempt has been made to show what advantages will accrue to the citizens of Australia, some of whom will certainly be in danger of having their rights curtailed by this legislation, by falling into line with the legislation of Great Britain. It is apparent that the Ministryhave determined to put the Bill through unaltered, even if an amendment would make it more acceptable to the people who will suffer the disadvantages under it. As the Government have the numbers, it is of no use to occupy further time in talking about it. They are determined to put it through, and through it will go.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Brennan’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority.. . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Effect of certificate of naturalization).
.- There is nothing, from my point of view, particularly objectionable in this clause; but I beg to call the attention of the Minister (Mr. Poynton) to a peculiarity in the proviso, which is as follows: -
Provided that where, by any provision of the Constitution or of any Act or State Constitution or Act, a distinction is made between the rights, powers or privileges of naturalborn British subjects and those of persons naturalized in the Commonwealth or in a State, the rights, powers, and privileges conferred by this section shall, for the purposes of that provision, be only those (if any) to which persons so naturalized are therein expressed to be entitled.
First of all, I cannot understand why this proviso, or this clause, is expressly stated to be subject to the Constitution. I take it that every Act of this Parliament is subject to our constitutional limitations. On the other hand, there is a peculiarity about this clause in that it expressly asserts the superiority of each and every State Legislature in a matter over which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction. This, of course, may not be exclusive jurisdiction; but it is curious to find the Commonwealth Parliament going out of its way to assert that a clause in one of its Acts is subject to any Act passed by any State Legislature on the same subject.
– Is that not unconstitutional?
– Well, if the proviso had been left out altogether, I do not suggest that it would have prevented the State Legislatures from legislating in respect of. differences between naturalized and nonnaturalized persons, and drawing a distinction for their several State purposes. That, however, does not seem sufficient reason why the Commonwealth Parliament should expressly state that it is legislating in respect of the rights of naturalized persons, in the light of an admission that every State Legislature has the right to make a discrimination which this clause is expressly designed to render impossible. There is the further peculiarity that we go out of our way to say that this clause shall be subject to the Constitution, which, of course, every Act of this Parliament must necessarily be.
– I must point out to the honorable member that this clause is an exact copy of section8 of the original Act.
– It is rather peculiar. I have not seen such a clause anywhere else.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Revocation of certificate of naturalization).
– I notice that, according to paragraphb of this clause, the Governor-General has power torevoke a certificate of naturalization granted to a person who has, within five years of the date of the granting of the certificate, been sentenced by any Court to imprisonment for a term of not less than twelve months, or to a fine of not less than £100. In connexion with all the other paragraphs it is compulsory that the person to whom letters of naturalization have been granted, and whose certificate of naturalization it is desired to revoke, shall be afforded an opportunity of appealing to a Judge of the Supreme Court. But under this clause, if a naturalized alien has been fined £100, the GovernorGeneral has the power to revoke his naturalization certificate.
– Only if he is fined within five years of being granted the certificate.
– But a person may be fined £100 for an offence which may not justify the revocation of his naturalization certificate.
– This provision is copied from the first schedule to the Imperial Act.
– Would it not be just to make sub-clauses 4 and 5 apply to all these cases? I do not like the idea of the Governor-General being vested with power to revoke the naturalization certificate of any man without that man being afforded a right of appeal.
– Here, again, any alteration of the provision to which reference has been made will impair the uniformity of the Bill with Imperial legislation. The first schedule to the measure is an exact copy of the British Act. Under sub-clause 4, the right of appeal to a Judge of a Supreme Court will apply to paragraphs a, c, and e, but not to paragraphs b and d.
-Cannot a departure be made from the Imperial Act upon a question of this sort?
– It may or may not. I ask honorable members to adhere to the Bill in its present form.
.- Honornble members generally recognise that under the stress of war England was compelled to grant a larger measure of freedom to her people than they had previously enjoyed. But is the civilization of the Old Country, as reflected in her laws, equal to our own? We endowed our citizens with the rightto vote because of their manhood or womanhood before Great Britain conceded thema similar right..
– There they have not the vote yet.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, and they will not get it until the abolition of that abomination, the House of Lords. Is it worth while to slavishly copy laws which we know are not up to date? Our laws do not discriminate between citizen and citizen, except in relationto the question of naturalization. I have no desire to labour this question, but I join with the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in urging that, whenever the Governor-General has decided to revoke a certificate of naturalization, the person to whom it has been granted should have the right of appeal. It seems absolutely unjust that a man or woman should be punished without a hearing.
– Under the existing law I can refuse a hearing in every case.
– Nobody recognises more than I do that, when a Minister desires to do a certain thing, his powers are almost unlimited. That fact has been demonstrated by the action of Ministers again and again. It is true that a Minister has the power to refuse a hearing in certain cases, but I hope that he will never exercise thatpower.From my knowledge of him, I do not believe that he would punish any man or woman without first giving them a hearing.
– But we do not know who will be the Minister in twelve months, two years, or, perhaps, five years’ time.
– Exactly. If we had a Minister who was perfect, there would be no need to hedge the Bill round with these safeguards. But as that is impossible, I urge the honorable gentleman not to slavishly follow the Imperial Act. Had we followed Imperial legislation in other respects, no citizens in this country prior to the war would have had the right to vote because of their manhood or womanhood. Let us lead the Home Land in this, as we have led her in other matters.
.- Upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I said that whilst we ought not to be too hasty in granting letters of naturalization to aliens, we ought not to deprive those who have already been naturalized of their citizenship rights without very serious reason and in the absence of very definite proof in justification of our act. It seems to me that under paragraph a of sub-clause 2 we are going to deprivea man of his citizenship rights merely because he has been fined £100. Moreover, he is to have no right of appeal. The wording of the provision is mandatory. If a naturalized alien has been fined £100 for any offence he will automatically lose his citizenship rights.
– If the honorable member will look at a later provision, he will see that a naturalization certificate will be revoked only in case its continuance will not be conducive to the public good. It would be a very extreme case, therefore, in which such action was taken.
– It seems unfair that a man should be punished twice for the same offence.
– Under the present law the Governor-General - which means the Minister and the Government - can revoke a certificate of naturalization in any circumstances.
– I do not suggest that the present law is perfect. I would like the Minister to say how the provision will affect anybody who has been naturalized under State laws. Will the clause give him the power to revoke any naturalization certificate granted before the Commonwealth took over the control of naturalization?
– I mentioned earlier to-day that clause 33 gives greater powers to the Governor-General in respect of the revocation of naturalization certificates than does this clause. I propose to amend that clause, with a view to making it conform to the provision with which we are now dealing.
– Will the alteration be in conformity with the British Act?
– It seems strange that the Minister can alter one portion of the Bill without impairing its uniformity with British legislation, but cannot alter another portion of it.
– Anything outside the schedule to the Bill, which is the
British Act, will not affect the question of uniformity.
.- Upon the general subject of revocation, I stated previously that I do not think there should be any revocation of naturalization certificates.
– Not under any circum stances?
– Subject only to one qualification, namely, that which is set out in the first part of this clause, which reads -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a certificate of naturalization granted by him has been obtained by false representation or fraud, or by concealment of material circumstances . . . the Governor-General shall, by order, revoke the certificate.
The principle which applies in the domain of real property and in the perfecting of titles whereby a certificate of title-
– Does not the honorable member think that if a naturalized person were trading with the enemy during a period of war, his certificate of naturalization should be revoked?
– I shall deal with that matter presently. I agree thatwhat one obtains by fraud should not be regarded as sacrosanct, and that he may very properly be called upon to disgorge it. There is a kind of analogy in the real property law which makes a certificate of title practically irrevocable except where it has been obtained by fraud. Apart from that condition - although there may be serious offences enumerated in the clause as reasons for the revocation of letters of naturalization - there is a good deal to be said in favour of declining to revoke a certificate of naturalization when once it has been granted. I say that, not by way of condoning or minimizing the seriousness of the offence to which the Minister has just called attention - that of a naturalized person engaging in trade with the enemy during a period of war. That, probably, is one of the strongest grounds for revocation in the clause. But, where there are very exacting provisions to be fulfilled before a grant of letters of naturalization; where there is required, as under this Bill, five years’ residence; and when the applicant is then submitted to a searching examination concerning character, and a variety of other related matters; then, after that length of residence and after that examination, when we take a man into the ranks of our citizenship we should render ourselves permanently responsible for him. From the practical stand-point, that is really a safer course than if we were to resort to the method of revocation of letters of naturalization. For, when we have revoked them, what are we going to do with the individual?We may resort to a policy of deportation - a practice not altogether foreign to this Government; but it is a very cumbrous and unsatisfactory way of dealing with recalcitrants of our own country. And, when we remember that these people have probably established families and have their circles of relatives and friends who still remain here, the fact of denaturalizing them creates only more dissatisfaction and danger than if we were to deal with them as law-breakers, if they are so, who were natural-born or naturalized citizens of the Commonwealth or the Empire. I was impressed by the significant remark of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) that we should be very chary about making aliens of persons whom we had once admitted to citizenship. So far from that being a disloyalist plea, it can be argued from the point of view of law-abiding citizenship. The law can and ought to punish guilty persons for what they do. When we make persons citizens, we should be permanently responsible for them.
Under this Bill, revocation may be made for a number of reasons. Some of these are necessarily the subject of a special inquiry. The person concerned has that benefit in some of the instances quoted in the clause; while, in others, he has not. He has that right under the terms of paragraphs (a), (c), and (e) of sub-clause 2, while in paragraphs (b) and (d) he has no such right. It is certainly an advance that this right of inquiry should have been granted at all. It is something quite new and refreshing for the Government to give to any man, in circumstances of this kind, the basic justice of an open inquiry of any sort whatsoever. To that extent the Government are deserving of congratulation.
– Then I ought to get the honorable member’s whole-hearted support.
– To that extent, the Minister will receive it. But it is curious that where a person - has within five years of the date of the grant of the certificate been sentenced by any Court in His Majesty’s Dominions to imprisonment of a term of not less than twelve months, or to a term of penal servitude, or to a fine of not less than one hundred pounds, his certificate of naturalization is revoked, and he has no claim to an inquiry. It is true that he is not altogether excluded from an inquiry, but he has no right to one. With the recollection that most honorable members have of the kind of thing done during the war, and of the character of the offences for which people were prosecuted, fined, and imprisoned, it must be obvious to them that it can be quite an easy thing for a very good citizen to be fined £100.
– Did they not fine people for saying there were six Australian Divisions?
– Yes. Men were prosecuted and punished under an Act which enabled the Court to impose a fine amounting to just this total of £100, or a term of imprisonment covering just this same period of six months, for saying there were six Australian Divisions in the field.
– They do not now deny that there were six.
– It was not then a question of what was right, but of what was expedient. And it was very inexpedient, for the purposes of conscription, for any one, who considered he had a special duty in telling the truth, to be permitted to do so in this respect.
– Surely the honorable member was not punished for telling the truth ?
– I was punished as far as it was possible to punish me. I judiciously abstained from saying there were six Divisions in any place where I was likely to be overheard by secret service men whom the honorable member’s Government paid to go about the country initiating prosecutions against law-abiding citizens. If I could not be good I was careful.
The Minister might at least, without interfering with that golden rule of uniformity which both possesses and oppresses him in dealing with this measure, amend the clause in order to give the benefit of a public inquiry to those persons indicated in the paragraph which I have just quoted; that is, an inquiry into the circumstances in which they have been fined. In other words, there should be a re-trial before a person is punished twice. When a man gets six months it may be taken for granted that justice has been done, and that he has been sufficiently punished for the one offence. Something along the same lines of argument may be said in regard to paragraph d, in relation to which also no inquiry has been provided. I invite the attention of the Minister to the last paragraph, which reads -
This is a ground of revocation, and mandatory at that.
– Could a man have two nationalities?
– But why should we be governed in the treatment of our citizens by a law passed by another country over which we have not only no control, but with which we are actually at war? Let us suppose that we have a Frenchman for a fellow citizen - since it is wiser to select a nation with which we are immediately and, for the present, more friendly - who came out here, and. after having passed through his five years’ probation, eventually became a naturalized citizen. He lives here for twenty-five years, rears a family, and establishes himself as a good and useful citizen in every respect, so that not even the most captious critic could suggest anything against him. Let us suppose, further, that war were to break out between Britain and France- which, God forbid - and let us suppose that France passes a law that every man born on French soil, and having had French citizenship, shall be called to the colours, and that they shall disregard any letters of naturalization given them by any other country. In such circumstances here is a citizen of our own country, who is paying our own taxes, and obeying our own laws, and who has not necessarily the slightest sympathy with the country from which he came; yet this foreign enemy nation is able to denaturalize a good citizen of our own country. And, because this enemy country has declared him to be not a citizen of this country, then, ipso facto, under this clause his letters of naturalization must necessarily be revoked. That is contrary to elemental justice. I do not know on what principle it is done at all. Why should we surrender the rights of our own citizens to an enemy country against which we are fighting? And, just for the reason that - according to its law - a citizen of this country ceases to be our citizen, why should we necessarily follow suit and cast him off? Something like that was said about the Germans during the war. It was under what was known as the Delbruck law that the Germans were said to decline to recognise our laws of naturalization as divesting Germans of their German citizenship. But, after all, so far as I can ascertain by reference to the text books, Germany’s stand in that respect was no different from the attitude adopted by France, Italy, and Spain. Indeed, I know scarcely any civilized country from whose laws upon this specific point those of Germany greatly differ.
– Switzerland stands out distinct from all.
– Probably she does. None of these countries admits the right of its citizens to go abroad and acquire another naturalization. The Latin maxim on the subject, well known in the text books, is Nemo potest exure patriam. “ Nobody may cast off his nationality.” That principle is well known, I say, in civilized countries. It is to be said in favour of Britain, however, that while she accepted and guarded that principle very jealously up to the time of the passing of the Naturalization Act of 1870, since then she has adopted the view that when one of her citizens goes abroad and acquires another nationality that person ceases to be a national of the British Empire. So far as I can see, Great Britain is almost alone in that regard; and I would like to know if the Minister can tell us what other countries have agreed to the principle that one of its citizens can go abroad and throw off nationality, and when he acquires nationality abroad, cease to owe allegiance to his own country.
– It might get a person into a very difficult position by calling him up against hisown people.
– I do not know what the honorable member means by that. There were men who came to this country before the recent great and tragic war who were born in Germany, and who had established themselves here and adopted British nationality for themselves and their families. In many cases these people were whole-hearted supporters of the Allied cause ; and if there is anything in war at all -and I have as little to say in its favour as any one - it is quite right that a person who adopts citizenship should make himself a citizen absolutely, with all its duties and responsibilities, whatever they may be. I would be glad if the Minister would let us know what the departmental view is concerning sub-clause e, and also if he can tell the Committee what other countries are prepared to say,” You give our people naturalization, and we will divest them of their responsibility to us.” I believe Great Britain has made such a declaration, but she is the only country which has said so in so many words. If it is not as I suggest, we will have the unpleasant consequences concerning which I argued in the earlier stages of this discussion. It is somewhat difficult to deal with a clause which extends over two pages; but, so far as I know, I have expressed my principal objection to this somewhat long and involved provision. I could not think of supporting the clause . in its present form.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 and . 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Conditional application of section).
.- This is a rather curious provision, which refers to the clause we have just adopted, and which enables us to recognise a certificate of naturalization granted by the Secretary of State. It is the first time we have had a provision enabling us to recognise naturalization issued in Great Britain. This clause states that the last preceding one shall not apply to certificates granted by the Government of any Dominion’ specified in the second schedule to this Bill unless the Legislature of that Dominion adopts Part II. of the British Act.
– That is adopted.
– In the interests of the Minister’s old friend, uniformity. The clause means that we will not recognise the certificates issued by other Dominions unless they recognise the British Act. I am, however, more concerned with the application of the British Act as a whole to Australia.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 -
.- We have been told by the Minister for Home and
Territories (Mr. Poynton) that it is desired to make the Bill uniform with the British Act;but we now come to a subclause which provides that PartII. of the British Act is adopted. Any honorable member who takes the trouble to peruse clauses 7 to 15 will find that they are practically word for word with the British Act, and I would like to know why the necessity arises to pass a provision of this character.
– It is all right.
Mr.BRENNAN (Batman) [9.13].- I move -
That the following words foe inserted after the word “adopted”: -“in so far as itis not inconsistent withthis Act.”
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has pointed out that, after careful examination, one must admit that it is fairly consistent. If we are goingto adoptthe provisions of the Imperial Parliament in globo, and without discussion, I would like a declaration by this Committee that we adopt them only subject to their being consistent with the provisions of the measure that we are now dealing with. I think that for the most part the schedule, which in itself is a copy of the British Act, is no more objectionable than the present Bill; but I do not undertake to say it is wholly unobjectionable from my point of view. Although I have not succeeded with any of the amendments I have moved, Isuggest that, if we are goingto adoptthe British Act, we should declare that it shall be subject to the provisions of this Act. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that this schedule is hallowed by its ancient origin, as it goes back to the time of William III.
.- Do I understand that the Minister accepts theamendment?
– No. I think it is only moved for the purpose of ridicule.
– It is in the interests of your old friend, “ Uniformity.”
– There does not seem to be anything wrong with the amendment. If there is anything inconsistent in the Act, there can be nothing to object to in the amendment, but if there is nothing inconsistent in the Act, it will do no harm. I rose a moment or two ago for the purpose of asking in what circumstances the Government adopts Part
– That is correct.
– Very well ; what I want to know now is, at what Imperial Conference was this decision arrived at ; who were the representatives of Australia, and what was the resolution? This isa very important matter. I have norecollection of any such gathering. We have been told, in a vague sort of way, about Imperial Conferences; but, so far, we have had no evidence of any such gatherings. If an Imperial Conference dealt with this matter., I would have thought that we would be merely adopting, not. Part II. of an old British Act of 1870, but something more agreeable to all the Dominions concerned. As it is, we have merely theadoption, holus bolus, ofPart II. of the British Act of 1870.
– We ought to be thankful that they did not go back to William the Conqueror.
– They adopted the Act of 1870 probably because of its provision that the naturalization of the overseas Dominions would only be accepted ifthe Dominions accepted Part II. of that Act. But I do not want to be drawn away from the main purpose of my rising, and that was to ascertain from the Minister what Imperial Conference it was that came to the conclusion that this kindof legislation was desirable, who were the representatives of the Commonwealth, and what result was arrived at. That is a simple question, and I shall be obliged if the Minister will be good enough to inform me. I have no doubt that he has information.
.- Surely the Minister is going to let us have the information asked for by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). It was a civil question, asked in a courteous manner. All through the debate we have been told that an Imperial Conference had dealt with this matter, and hadcome to certain conclusions. And now the honorable member for West Sydney has asked a question that–
– The question is a reflection on my veracity. The honorable member for West Sydney knows all about the Conference.
– I am not troubled about the question being a reflection upon the Minister’s veracity at all. I only want to know. I do not doubt that an Imperial Conference was held, but, like the honorable member for West Sydney, I would very much like to know who were our representatives at that gathering.
– Senator Pearce, Mr. Fisher, and the late Mr. Batchelor. The Conference was held in 1911.
– What a time the incubation has taken.
– We are now told that this Conference was held in 1911. One of our representatives at the Conference has been dead for nine years, and another has not been living in Australia for five years.
– They are picking up the arrears of work.
– During all that time this matter has been left in abeyance.
– And now when we introduce the legislation you are trying to hold it up.
– What resolution was passed at that Conference? I am also anxious to know how Senator Pearce, the late Mr. Batchelor, and the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher voted upon this particular question.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 (National status of married women) .
.- This, I understand, is the clause on which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) desires to move an amendment. The Minister (Mr. Poynton) cannot now raise the question of uniformity. We have been hamstrung so far as our decisions are concerned upon all clauses up to clause 16, because, so the Minister tells us, the Government are committed to uniformity with the Imperial Act. At the very last minute we got the information that certain resolutions were agreed to at an Imperial Conference in 1911. This, however, is purely an Australian matter, and if the honorable member for Batman moves his amendment I shall be pleased to support him.
.- When I raised the question before, it was suggested that my amendment could be more properly moved upon this clause, but I thought it better to get a speedy decision on the subject when the first definite reference was made in the Bill to persons under this disability. However, as the Committee has already given a decision upon the matter, I do not propose to move any further amendment in this direction. I shall content myself by voting against all clauses which write down the status of women.
– I would like to know the attitude of the Minister (Mr. Poynton) now that we have got beyond the clauses upon which he has been arguing for uniformity with legislation elsewhere in the Empire. I would like to know whether he will consider any amendments to clauses after -clause 16.
– Yes, I propose to move two important amendments later on.
– The Minister has told us that the Imperial Conference which decided upon the out-of-date proposals we are now considering was held in 1911, but he did not tell us what resolutions were adopted by that Conference. I would like to know what they were, or, at any rate, what the gist of them was, because the longer w.e deal with this measure the more I am satisfied that there is nothing in it, and that it has 6imply been brought forward in order to fill in time?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Status of Children).
.- I think the manner in which I submitted.., my question to the Minister (Mr. Poynton) deserves better than the discourtesy he has shown me. I ask him again : Will he tell me the gist of the resolutions adopted at a Conference as far back as 1911, upon which he is apparently in such a hurry to act now?
– I have not them with me now, but they were in the direction of securing something like uniformity throughout the Empire in the matter of naturalization.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 to 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 -
.- This clause ‘clearly has nothing to do with the question of securing, uniform legislation throughout, the Empire, but as thepowers it bestows are unnecessary, T propose to ask the Committee to strike it out.
.- If the clause is struck out persons may still make representations to the Minister with regard to others who are applying for naturalization.
– I do not think that can be prevented.- The honorable member will not suggest a provision that no representations be made to the Minister. This clause prevents the disclosure of the contents of any statutory declaration containing representations made to the Minister.
– That provision is made in sub-clause 3, which is certainly objectionable, but the other sub-clauses which require that persons who make representations to a, Minister shall make them on oath ought to be retained ; otherwise there will be no provision compelling them to do so. On the whole, I think that- the clause could very well stand with the deletion of sub-clause 3 .
– I have no objection to the retention only of subclauses 1 and 2. I move -
That sub-clause 3 be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 26 -
Any declaration made under this Act or under any Act hereby repealed, may be proved in any legal proceedings by the production of the original declaration, or of any copy thereof certified to be a true copy by the Governor-General, or by any person authorized by him in that behalf, and the production of the declaration or copy shall be evidence of the person therein named as declarant having made the declaration at the date therein mentioned.
.- I hope that this clause will be struck out, or, at any rate, certain portions of it which are clearly objectionable. The purpose is to allow persons merely _ to make representations by declaration without having their names disclosed or the credibility of their evidence examined in an open way. It is a continuance of that objectionable, secret, Star-chamber business which came in for so much adverse criticism during the war from honorable members ‘on this side of the House and at public meetings of outraged citizens, and is a practice which, odious in time of war, in times of peace might well be discontinued. Some person, in order to satisfy his own prejudice, or, it may be, malice”, or in order to buttress up his own business against that of a rival, may send in a declaration setting out grounds why, in his opinion, a certificate of naturalization should not be granted or should be revoked; and although it may be less objectionable that the declaration should be made on oath rather than in a casual, tittle-tattle manner, still, it is equally desirable that the person making it should be prepared to support it under cross-examination, and come into the light of day. The Minister, or the tribunal which may be formed under ‘this Bill, should have full power to cross-examine him, in order that the public may know who he is, what his motives are, and the sources of his information. It is marvellous what strong declarations some people will make if they are satisfied that their declarations will not be examined, or that they will not be cross-examined as to the truth of what they have stated. During the war this odious system, this throw-back to medievalism, which was the engine of so much injustice, was very popular with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who, apparently, not having a scintilla of idea as to what constituted justice, was ready to throw men into prison, and keep them there, on the secret evidence of any person who, actuated by malice, or for any reason, was pleased to decry a fellow man; and it makes one indignant now to be reminded, after the war is gone, of the kind of thing sanctioned by the Government, and especially by the Minister for Defence during the war, except in those cases “where members of his own party disciplined ‘ him, and made him give a trial to persons whom he was prepared to treat unjustly.
– 1 hope that the Minister (Mr. Poynton) will consent to the omission of the clause, or will allow it to be amended in such a way that the person making the declaration must appear before the Court. It would be monstrous to allow a Court of Law to accept a3 evidence a declaration sent to a Department without submitting the declarant to examination. Such a thing would be altogether contrary to British jurisprudence, and could not be justified. If we continue to follow the lines along which we have been travelling recently, we shall meet with trouble in the near future. When a declaration is made to the effect that an alien who wishes to be naturalized is not entitled to naturalization, or that a naturalized person should be denaturalized, the person making it should be put into the witness-box. During the recent war drastic legislation was passed, both in Australia and elsewhere, giving Governments greater powers than they exercised in normal times; and we seem unable to get out of the groove into which we then fell, our legislation still being based on abnormalities such as arose out of the war. In my opinion, both clauses 25 and 26 should be struck out. I do not approve of these declarations. There are many ways of bringing evidence against persons without allowing declarations to be sent to a Department which are not to be made public. Many persons, if they knew that their names would be published, would not make damaging statements about others; but, with the guarantee of secrecy, some persons have no scruples about taking away the character of others who are probably much better men. Yet it is proposed to give legislative sanction to that sort of thing. ., When a person is accused, and cannot test the veracity of his accuser by personal examination, great injustice must often be done. On reflection, the Minister should see that clause 26 serves no good purpose.
– It is purely legal.
– Yes ; but that does not make it right.
– The clause merely says that the declaration must be produced; it does not make the declaration evidence.
– If a declaration is made, and subsequently, for any reason, the case to which it relates goes before a Court for hearing, it can be produced as evidence, and the person making it need not be put into the witnessbox. But why should not any person who makes a declaration aspersing the character of another be put into the witnessbox to be tested as to his veracity?
– The clause merely says that the production of the declaration should be evidence as to the declarant having made it.
– The declaration is to be evidence against the person who is before the Court on some charge.Why should it be sent to the Court, unless it is to be taken as evidence ? It would have no value otherwise. It is to be put before the Court as evidence against the accused; but neither he nor his counsel will have the opportunity to examine the person who made it.
– I think you will find the same provision in every Act dealing with declarations.
– If there is one man in the Chamber more than another who would like every one to get British justice, it is the Minister (Mr. Poynton) ; but if he reads the preceding clause in connexion with that under discussion he will see how unjust is the law proposed in regard to a man applying for naturalization.We cannot forget the evidence on which many Australianborn persons were interned in this country during the war. In the Moreton district several men, as loyal as any in the community, were interned on framedup evidence, as they have since been able to prove to the satisfaction of their neighbours. I have particularly in mind the case of a man who was interned merely for political reasons. He was a professional man, occupying a high and responsible position in the Moreton district; but, because he got into “holts” with the Conservative candidate, a case was framed up against him. In the first instance, the uniformed police made a thorough investigation, but without result, and then two detectives were employed, who, after they had made an inquiry, reported favorably upon him. Then the authorities procured a couple of military spies, who soon rigged up a case, and the man was interned, although he was as innocent as I am. Indeed, he had never uttered the things that I have said on the public platform against this Government without being interned. He was taken from his wife and family, and his profession was “cruelled.” Under the clause, similar treatment might be meted out to a man applying for naturalization. The Bill does not deal with Germans only, it deals with all aliens, including those whom our friends opposite - the flag-waggers, the band players, the God-save-the-Kingers - spoke of as “ our brother Allies.” It was suggested that I should be run in,” because of what I had said about the Japanese in Northern Queensland. A detective followed me around to every platform, practically asking me to say something against the Japanese. Several members on this side of the House, including the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) were prosecuted; and I say that it is not British fair play if the accuser in a case is not there to be crossexamined. All we ask for is an open Court.
– The applicant has to make a declaration which is produced in evidence.
– But the clause speaks of “any declaration,” and that covers any declaration made against the man who desires to be naturalized. This means that declarations made in secret may be used as evidence.
– The clause does not say that the name of the person who makes the declaration shall not be disclosed.
– Any person may make representations in the form of a statutory declaration. Let me give honorable members a case, as the position strikes me. A person makes an application for naturalization, and, perhaps, some one in the same line of business desires to get a blow in “under the belt.’’ A man may be accused of having uttered disloyal sentiments years ago, and the accusation may be made in secret. This accusation is placed before the Minister, and the poor devil accused knows nothing of the charge made against him. Is that British fair play ?
– Could it not be provided that the name of the accuser shall be disclosed?
– It does not follow that, because a declaration is made, naturalization is refused on that ground.
– We have already passed a clause providing that the granting of a certificate shall be in the absolute discretion of the GovernorGeneral - which means the Minister - and the Minister may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold a certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good.From his decision there is no appeal.
– That is thelaw as it stands to-day.
– Is it British fair play to use secret evidence to, perhaps, damn a man for life? If that is British justice, it is not British justice as I know it.
– What does the honorable member desire ?
– The honorable member desires to strike this clause out.
– No; all I want is some safeguard against secret evidence behind some poor devil’s back.
– That seems fair; but, on the other hand, would the honorable member give any man naturalization?
– No, I should not.
– Cannotthe honorable member conceive of many cases in which it would not be possible to make public the reasons for refusing naturalization?
– If I had anything to say against a man, I should go straight to the Minister, give my name, and say it. What is there in naturalization, after all? I do not desire every Jack, Bill, and Tommy to be naturalized, but I do wish to prevent fraud and backstairs influence. I do not object to the clause, but I do object to the wording of it; if a man has anything to say against another, why should not the accused have the right of cross-examination? I know perfectly well that a number of Australians were interned as the result of jealousy and envy and that they had no chance of defending themselves. I know, four men in the Moreton district, who, even now, would, if they had the power, take their accusers into open Court. Australia is not the place for any Star Chamber business, and I would sooner see this clause rejected altogether.
– The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) altogether misunderstands the clause. There is no doubt that the honorable member had some reason to complain of the clause as originally printed, inasmuch as it provided that any one could make representations to the Minister in regard to any person applying for, or advertising his intention to apply for, naturalization. The clause originally provided that these representations should be in the form of a statutory declaration, and that the contents should not be disclosed to any person without the consent of the informant, except in a prosecution for perjury. That part of the clause, however, has been struck out, and the provision is not nearly so stringent as formerly.
– But there is still the power to make a secret declaration.
– The clause, as originally drafted, provided that the Minister must not disclose the name of the informant, but that part has been struck cut.
– I know the Minister desires to do the proper thing.
– There is nothing now to prevent the Minister from producing the man who makes the declaration. All the clause provides for is that the production of the declaration shall be evidence that tha person made the declaration.
– What do you put the declaration in at all for?
– We must have it. Under clause 24 an application for a certificate of naturalization is made by declaration. When I moved the deletion of sub-clause 3 of clause 25 I took all the sting out of the clause, and I do not see what the honorable member for Maranoa and others want further.
.- Some misapprehension seems to have arisen, accentuated by the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) conducting a conversation by interjection with the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page). The Minister (Mr. Poynton) has agreed to the removal of the most objectionable part of clause 25. I am quite willing to admit that some good purpose may be served by clause 26, and for that reason would not like to see it completely struck out, but on its wording it refers both to the declaration in clause 24 and the declaration in clause 25. Under clause 26 the evidence is not only that a declaration was made, but also as to the contents of that declaration, because a true copy may be produced. The declaration is also to be evidence that the person named in it made the declaration, and that the declaration was made on the date mentioned. The form of declaration mentioned in clause 24 has to be made by the person applying for naturalization, and if. in subsequent years litigation arises, perhaps by his children claiming to be British subjects, or that their father was naturalized, it may be necessary for them to prove that he made the declaration under clause 24, by the production of the declaration filed by him. Then the contents of that declaration are proven under the provisions of clause 26. A very good purpose is served by clause 26 so far as that declaration is concerned, and to that extent the clause should stand. At the same time there is foundation for the objections so forcibly put by the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan), Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and Maranoa (Mr. James Page). This can be got over by excepting from the operation of clause 26 the declaration referred to in clause 25. Do not make the production evidence of the declaration itself.
– I cannot agree to that.
– Then I move-
That after the word “ repealed “ the following words be inserted : - “ except a declaration made under the last preceding section.
I cannot exactly see in what legal proceedings a declaration under clause 25 will require, to be produced. In fact, I do not think clause 26 was ever intended to apply to the provisions of clause 25. Clause 25 has evidently been put in afterwards. The provisions of clause 26 are apt and appropriate for such formal declarations as a person is required to make when he applies for naturalization. It might later be said that the person never made a declaration, and his certificate might be challenged. In such a case proof by the production of the declaration is desirable.
– What is to be gained by excepting declarations made under clause 25 if they do get into any Court?
– The things that may be declared in that declaration are not formal matters.
– All that clause 26 says is that it is evidence of the person named as declarant having made the declaration.
– It proves more than that. It proves the declaration itself. Any copy produced has to be certified to be a true copy. It must be a true copy, because you are proving the declaration itself. Otherwise it would be only necessary to have the name and date copied. The clause says in so many words that you are proving the contents.
– Proving a declaration does not prove its contents.
– The clause says, “Any declaration . . . may be proved.’’ It goes on to say, “ The production of the declaration or copy shall be evidence of the person therein named as declarant having made the declaration at the date therein mentioned.”
– It proves that he made the declaration.
– First you. prove the declaration, and then the production of it is evidence, not only that the person made the declaration, but that he made it on the date therein mentioned.
– In clause 27 the same words are used to imply that the contents are to be proved.
– Of course, it proves the contents. The first part of it makes it evidence of the things contained in the declaration; the second part of it makes it evidence of the time that the declaration was made. Oft.en the time at which a declaration is made is important. For example, where a naturalization certificate was challenged, it would be important to prove that the declaration was made before the date in the certificate, because the applicant is required to make the declaration before. Under clause 24, it is provided that he “shall produce in. support, of. his application his own statutory declaration.” I, therefore, contend that the clause means that the production of the declaration, or a true copy thereof, proves not only the contents, but also the date. It would be very dangerous to allow things to be proved such as may be declared under clause 25. We do not know what may be the representations made under that clause; but we know the matters that may be declared under clause 24. That clause deals with very formal matters. Under it, the applicant is to declare his name, age, birthplace, occupation, and residence, the length of his residence in the British Empire, or the period within the eight years preceding the date of his application during which he has been in the service of the Crown. All these are simple, straightforward matters, to which he has to declare; but we cannot say what sort of representations might be made under clause 26. They might be such as were referred to by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) ; but I think that with this amendment the objection will be overcome.
Question -That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I desire to move a further amendment, which I hope the Minister (Mr. Poynton) will accept. The honorable gentleman has contended that the production of the declaration referred to is not to be evidence against the person making that declaration. Our interpretation of the clause is that it is designed to provide evidence, and, that being so, that it must be evidence against the person concerned. There can be no getting away from that position; but if the Minister’s contention is correct, he should be able to accept, without further discussion, the amendment that I propose to submit. I move -
That the following words he added: - “Provided that the person affected by such declaration will be entitled to publicly examine and cross-examine the declarant before such declaration is acted upon by the Minister.”
It is only British fair play that any person against whom evidence, in the form of a declaration, is tendered should have the right to test that evidence. The person against whom a charge is made ought to have the right to cross-examine the declarant. Otherwise he will not be afforded a fair chance of establishing his innocence. Every man should be given the fullest opportunity of proving his innocence in respect of any charge which may be laid against him. Anybody who has attended Court knows that very frequently a Judge is impressed by the demeanour of a witness. Upon many occasions I have been so impressed in dealing with arbitration matters.
– Suppose that the man who made the declaration is dead. How can he be called.?
– The alternative is that the declaration of’ a dead man against any person ought not to be used.
– This clause deals with all declarations made under the Bill.
– My proviso will enable the clause to deal with all declarations made under the Bill. It merely affirms that in any case arising out of those declarations which conies before the Court for inquiry the declarant shall appear in Court for the purpose of examination.
– To pacify the honorable member I will agree to the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 27 to 32 agreed to.
Clause 33- (1.) Where theGovernor-General is satisfied that it is desirable for any reason that a certificate or letters of naturalization, issued under the Act repealed by this Act or under any State Act, should be revoked or amended, he may revoke or amend the certificate or letters of naturalization. (3.) Any certificate or letter of naturaliza tion amended in pursuance of this section shall uponamendment be, and be taken to have been,of effect as so amended. (4.) The Governor- General may, by order, declare that any person who became naturalized by virtue of the issue of a certificate or letters of naturalization under the Act hereby repealed or under any State Act (not being the person to whom the certificate or letters of naturalization were issued) shall cease to be a British subject, and that person shall thereupon become an alien and shall he regarded as a subject of the State to which he belonged at the time of the issue of the certificate or letters.
Mr.POYNTON (Grey- Minister for Home and Territories) [10.31]. - I desire to make the power of revocation under this clause similar to that which obtains under clause 12. I therefore move -
That in sub-clause 1 the words “ revoked or amended, he may revoke or” bo omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ amended, he may.”
-I should like to hear what the Minister has to say in regard to the amendment.
– Only the other day the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) produced a certificate of naturalization, and informed me that the person to whom it had been granted, alleged that his age and birthplace as set out therein, were incorrect. The honorable member desired me to rectify the mistake. But I had no power to do that. Under this amendment I shall have that power. The second portion of the amendment is intended to make any revocation of a State certificate dependent upon the decision of a Court of inquiry presided over by a Judge.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to-
That sub-clauses 2 and 4 be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 34 -
.- Ought not the word “ revoked “ in this clause to be struck out so as to make the provision agree with the previous clause, which gives the Minister power to amend letters of naturalization?
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That the words “ in pursuance of the last preceding section,” twice occurring, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 35 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted: - 13a. For the purposes of the last two preceding sections “ certificate of naturalization” includes a certificate of naturalization issued under the Act repealed by this Act or under any State Act.
First Schedule (Part II. of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914).
.- I desire here to give effect to the ideas which I propounded on Friday last, namely, that thereshould be a certificate of naturalization specifically in respect of Australia, and for which a person would become qualified upon two years’ residence. I move -
That, in clause 2, sub-clause 1, the following new paragraph be inserted: - (aa) “that he has resided in Australia for a period of not less than two years, such certificate to confer on him all political and other rights, powers, and privileges enjoyed by citizens of Australia.”
My sole desire is to secure an alternative certificate, so far as residents in Australia are concerned, so that they can be placed upon the same footing as they were prior to the passing of this measure.
– The Committee, by agreeing to clause 16, has already adopted the first schedule, which I have now put pro formâ. I cannot, therefore, accept the amendment.
First schedule agreed to.
Second and third schedules, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 178, 179, 180.
Public Service Act - Appointments and Promotions -
Dunn, Department of the Treasury.
C. Lindsay, Attorney-General’s Department.
– To give effect to the understanding arrived at last week, I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201103_reps_8_94/>.