8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers;’
– Has the Minister for Tradeand Customs noticed in the press a statement’ purporting’ to have been made by the Premier of South. Australia, Sir Henry Barwell, in regard to fruit exports from. Australia, which is rather detrimental to the Australian trade. Has he also. noticed . in the press statements by a recognised authority eulogizing the condition in which such exports have been received at Home. If so, will he state which of the two statements is correct*
-I have read a long statement on ‘ the subject by Sir Henry Barwell, and I have also seen a statement in the Grocers’ Gazette. It is very, refreshing, to find in that publication the most complimentaryreferences to the way in which’ . Australian fruit, is prepared for export, and. the statement that great credit is due to- the fruit-growers, pro cessors, and all persons’ concerned. I regret, however, that, damaging statements are sometimes made in this country by those who ought to be among the first to champion: Australian trade.
Mr. FOWLER brought up the final report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the War Service Homes Commission:
Ordered to be printed.
Issue of Military Blankets
-In view of the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister,, in reply to a question which I put tohim, I ask him whether he will now take into- consideration the issue -of blankets to many hundreds of unemployed in the- Newcastle district who are- in necessitous’ circumstances?
– My honorable colleague the Minister for Defence’ (Mr. Greene) has had this matter brought under his notice, and I understand has made, available a great many blankets to unemployed returned soldiers . indifferent parts of the Commonwealth.. If the honorable member, will allow his. question to stand over, I will consult the Minister for Defence, who to-morrow- will give, him: a considered answer.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether the deadlock now existing between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia as. to the building of War Service Homes in that State has been’ overcome. If not, will he lay on the table of the House a copy of the’ agreement entered’ into by the’ Commonwealth and the Government of South Australia for the building of War Service Homes?’
– No agreement has yet been entered into with, the Government of South Australia for the building of War Service Homes.
– In view of the very great scientific and historic value of Mrs. Ellis Rowan’s collection to the Australian nation, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will favorably reconsider the question of its purchase. A number of paintings from the collection are now on view in the Queen’s Hall?
– The matter has been considered by the Government. When I referred to it on a previous occasion, I stated that, in the opinion of experts well qualified to judge, the collection comprised works of art, which, quite apart from their value as such, were of great value . as faithful replicas of the flora and partly of the fauna of Australia and New Guinea. I think itwas Mr. Mann, of the Sydney Art Gallery, who recommended, however, that we should pay only £3,000 for it. I have not asked, and 1 refuse to ask, Mrs. Rowan to accept £3,000 for the collection, which represents her life’s work. Either the pictures are worth having, in which case they are valuable, and a reasonable price should be paid for them, or we should not have anything to do with them. I do not pose as an expert, but it gives me great pleasure to see these pictures. I believe they are most valuable, and that we ought to purchase them. I ask the House to find some means of expressing an opinion on the question. If the House approves of the purchase of the collection the Government will acquire it at a reasonable price.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs take into consideration the advisableness of reducing the price of sugar immediately the debit balance, as disclosed in the balance-sheet recently submitted by him to the House, has been wiped off?
– The Government have taken that matter into consideration, and have announced the reduction in the price ofsugar that is to be made. If any further reduction is possible, it will be made at the earliest stage.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral state whether the Government intend to accept the award of Sir Mark
Sheldon, as arbitrator in the KidmanMayoh ship-building contract scandal, and so to accept a refund of only £75,000 out of the £104,000 paid by the Commonwealth Treasury in respect of the contract?
– The Government, like every other litigant is bound by an award made according to law, and, therefore, we are bound by the decision of this Tribunal.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral consider that, after an inquiry made in secret, the finding of Sir Mark Sheldon can be considered to be an award in accordance with the law?
– The finding is absolutely in accordance with the law. It was made in the usual way, and the whole proceedings were conducted after the manner of all arbitration proceedings.
– All arbitration proceedings?
– Yes. It is rarely that, in cases such as this, an arbitrator sits in open Court, as does an Arbitration Court Judge; but-
– Under what Act was award made?
– In accordance with the provisions of . the New South Wales Arbitration Act.
– Has the Prime Minister yet made inquiries in regard to the question recently asked by me as to the reason why effect has not been given to the award made by the Shipbuilding Tribunal in respect of the wages of ironworkers’ assistants and mechanics?
– I shall endeavour to get the papers and have them here tomorrow.
Floods at Canberra - Willis Islands Wireless Station.
–Has the Minister for Works and Railways received any recent advices regarding floods at Canberra?
– Yes. We received this morning a telegram from the Director of Works at Canberra to the effect that a record flood is being experienced there. The railway bridge over the Molonglo has been washed away, and the water supply to the Duntroon College cut off. The damage is being repaired and a supply of water for the College will be available again by to-morrow.
– Is it to be understood from the replies given by the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) yesterday, with respect to meteorological reports, that the Willis Islands radio station is to” be continued?
– I cannot now tell the honorable member. If ifc is found that the reports emanating from the Willis group regarding approaching cyclones and the like are useful, or at all important, the station will be actively maintained. If the notifications from that source are found to be of’ no value, however, they will be “ cut out.”
– Hae the attention of the Government been directed to the fact that two men were drowned in my electorate this morning? One of those two who were swept away by flood waters was a mailman. Will the Honorary Minister make inquiries and ascertain whether these deaths were due to lack of official notification concerning weather conditions, and the imminence of disastrous floods ?
– Yes, I shall have immediate inquiries made.
– A week or two ago I sought information concerning the number of employees in the Government Service outside the ambit of the Public Service Commissioner’s authority. Can the Prime Minister inform me if those particulars are yet to hand?
– The information is not yet available.
Encouragement to Young Australians
– Seeing that wonderful success has attended the propaganda and work of young students and mechanics in connexion with the spread of the use of wireless telephony and telegraphy in the United States of America, will the Government remove the embargoes which are now placed upon young and qualified. Australian enthusiasts in this direction so that Australia may enjoy some of those benefits and privileges which are derived in America by the full and unrestricted encouragement of experiment in the directions indicated ?
– I think that something in the direction suggested by the honorable member has already been done here. I saw, by the way, an excellent illustration in a newspaper recently, having to do with a young American who had converted one of his father’s hats into a wireless receiver. I know of nothing in the law in this country to prevent young Australians from following that admirable example. We have removed nearly all the embargoes which have been in vogue in recent years; and, I repeat, I know of none that would prevent the conduct of wireless research Indeed, I should be very glad to encourage any young Austraiian who desired to advance along the path of greater knowledge of wireless telephony and telegraphy.
Shearers and Arbitration Court
– In view of a statement made by the Prime Minister last night to a deputation having to do with industrial tribunals, in the course of which the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said that a most powerful organization was taking a great industry by the throat and, in effect, was saying, “You will not get the wool off except at prices we mean to extort,” I wish to know if the Prime Minister has examined the judgment and award of Mr. Justice Powers, and the reply of officers of the Australian Workers Union, in which they put it forth very strongly that the grounds of the award were fallacious, and that arithmetical errors had been committed by the Judge in making his decision. If the Prime Minister has not made the necessary examination of both sides of the question will he do so before making any more comments?
– No; I shall not do anything of the sort. I shall exercise my rights as a free citizen of this country to make as many comments as I please. I think that I accurately described the situation. The Australian Workers Union, is, in fact, holding up the pastoral industry, and is doing so because the industry is of such a character that the wool must be got off the sheep’s backs at this precise season or there is a dead loss.
– The Prime Minister does not know what he is talking about.
– The honorable member has brought this on himself. I will say this: the union is deliberately assisting, and promoting, and fomenting a strike Whether the Court is a party to it, I express no opinion. Whether the Court has made a mistake or not, I do not say. But I am certain that the union is making a mistake, and is committing an assault on the peace and well-being of this country.
Establishment of Canteen
– Can the Minister for Works and Railways inform me whether there is any foundation for the rumour that, in the interests of humanity, he is about to establish a canteen at Canberra?
– I should like to learn the source of the honorable member’s advice in that direction. If he will be good enough to put his question on to-morrow’s notice-paper I shall endeavour to deal with it.
– When does the Minister for Works and Railways expect to receive the report of the Public Works Committee with respect to the NorthSouth Railway?
– I certainly cannot receive a report by that Committee upon the question before its members have returned from taking evidence in Adelaide,
Reported Arrangement Regarding Freights
– Is there any truth in the rumour that the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers has entered’ into arrangements with Lord Inch cape’s Combine for the purpose of keeping up freights in connexion with the carriage of cargo to Australia . from Colombo and other ports?
– There is no truth in the rumour. Where did the honorable member hear a yarn like that? I really think it is an abuse of the privileges of this House that the honorable member should ask a question of that kind. As a matter of fact, 1 believe the honorable member himself invented the rumour. Certainly there is no truth in it.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I think that the Prime Minister exceeds his rights when he casts upon me such anaspersion. I asked my question on the basis of a public statement reported to-day in Melbourne, and published, no doubt, not only in this city, but in all the capital cities of the Commonwealth. ‘ The statement is based upon authentic information, emanating - from an official of the Conference line, to the effect that an arrangement has been made between the Commonwealth Government Line of steamers and the Inchcape Combine for the regulation of freights and carriage of cargo. I have a perfect right to ask that question, and I resent the insulting manner in which the Prime Minister has attempted to reply to it.
– All I can say is that I am very sorry that the honorable member did not like my reply. If he persists in asking questions of that nature, which I cannot possibly be expected to answer offhand, he must expect to get an answer something like that which I gave him. I have not seen the rumour to which he refers. Where did he see it ? The honorable member invents these things.
– I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the statement that I invent rumours of this kind. I consider his remark a reflection upon my honour.
– I withdraw the statement. The honorable member is incapable of inventing anything.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that the insulting personal remark made by the Prime Minister be withdrawn. He should not be allowed to behave like a larrikin when in charge of the business of this House.
-Order! Will the honorable member for Dalley be good enough to say to what remark he objects ? I did not catch it.
– I object to the Prime Minister’s statement that I am incapable of inventing anything.
– I can scarcely ask the Prime Minister to withdraw and apologize for a statement of that kind, which involves a contradiction of what he had said before, and is not in itself unparliamentary. He may, indeed, wittingly or otherwise, be paying the honorable member a compliment.
– The Prime Minister should not be allowed to carry on in this way, like a larrikin. Anyway, we will have this matter out on an adjournment motion.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to express regret for my remarks concerning the honorable member for Dalley. I am sorry.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will he state the position as it at present exists in connexion with the arrangement entered into between the Commonwealth and Dr. Spahlinger for the supply of T.B. serum?
– Correspondence is still taking place between the Commonwealth and Dr. Spahlinger on the matter. It is considered that further tests of the treatment should be made, and for this purpose endeavours are being made for sufficiently large samples to be obtained from Dr.Spahlinger to carry out laboratory experiments.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In reference to his speech at Adelaide on the 29th May, in reply to a deputation asking that a portion of company profits should be exempt from income tax, in whichhe stated it was the intention of the Government to deal with the matter, will he bring in the necessary Bill at an early date?
– Apparently the honorable member has been misled by some faulty newspaper report. I did not receive a deputation in Adelaide on the subject mentioned, or make any state ment of the character indicated.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the heavy export of American surplus stocks of canned fruits to Great Britain, he will make representations to the British ‘ Government in order to secure some form of preference for Australian canned fruit?
– At a recent Conference of Federal and State Ministers, at which the Minister for Trade and Customs was chairman, it was decided that action should be taken to obtain preference, and the necessary representations with that end in view are being made.
Proposed Grant for Public Works
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister forRepatriation, upon notice -
-The Commissioners advise as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
L.R.C.S., Edinburgh, 1902
L.S.T.S., Glasgow, 1895
M.D., Kentucky, U.S.A
D.D.S., Kentucky University
Member of Pharmaceutical Society, New South Wales
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will make available a return showing the profit made by the Federal Government on the export of gold during the war?
– Profit was made by the Federal Government on the export of gold in 1915-16 only, when the profit amounted to £11,572 10s.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether theGovernment has decided to guarantee the next season’s cotton crop; and, if so, what are the details of such guarantee?
– The Government has decided to co-operate with the Governments of the States, and, it is hoped, with the Empire Cotton Growing Association, to give a guarantee which so far as the aggregate amount is concerned is without limit. The amount of the guarantee per pound will, as stated in this House yesterday, rest upon a basis which has not yet been settled. In all probability, however, it will be the same as that given last year for seed cotton.
Mr. L. Ainsworth
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - l and 2. Yes.
Designs for Public Buildings
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member when available.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to. the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The contractors for these services must provide and reserve in each aeroplane employed thereon space sufficient to accommodate 100 lbs. of.” mail, and the Postmaster -General has approved of the- services being availed of for the conveyance of first class mail matter, provided that only such matter . be carried as is superscribed for transmission by aerial service, and bears in postage stamps a special fee at the rate of 3d. per½ oz. or portion in addition to the ordinary rate of postage.
The following are the contractors for and subsidies payable in respect of the above services : -
– On the 14th July the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) asked the following question, upon notice -
What were the imports of sugar into the Commonwealth from 1st July, 1921, to 30th June, 1922, giving separately tonnage, ports of shipment, and values f.o.b. and c.i.f. and e., without duties.
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The following papers were presented : -
Sugar. - Agreements, &c., between the Government’ of the Commonwealth and the Government of Queensland with regard to sugar crops from 1915 to 1922 inclusive.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 97, 98, 99, 100.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of . this House, the time has arrived to reduce the postal charges within the Commonwealth.
It is not my intention to devote much time to the advocacy of a system of cheap postage, either within, or without the Commonwealth. That battle was fought and won long ago in this House. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) as long ago as 1906 delivered a very convincing address in this Chamber, and led a most instructive debate upon the subject. He was followed in 1911 by the then PostmasterGeneral, Mr. (now Senator) Thomas, and in that debate Mr. Thomas was supported by a very large majority of members of this House. I do not think that the opinion of members has materially altered since that occasion. The principal argument against this proposal was then, and, I presume, still is, that the time has not arrived for the reform. It is always the argument of every conservative and reactionary individual in ‘ respect of every matter brought before this or any other
House that the time is not opportune, or that the state of the finances will not. permit. To that type of mind the time is never opportune for any improvement of any kind. The increase of the postal rates during the war was a special burden put upon the people of Australia, and like other burdens at that time it was borne by them cheerfully and with good-will. But the time has arrived for those charges to be reconsidered, and the people are justified in demanding a reduction in the rates. The British Government has already recognised the necessity for a reduction, not only in its postal charges, but in other charges in connexion with the Postal Department, and although taxation in Great Britain at the present time is over £24 per head of the population, whilst that of the Commonwealth is only a little over £12 per head, the Imperial Post Office last year saw fit to give reductions and concessions in its Department amounting to £7,400,000 per annum. The Observer of 28th May last had an article dealing with this subject, in which it said -
To.morrow the reduced postal rates come into force. The most important of these concessions is that the postage on letters not exceeding 1 oz. in weight will be reduced from 2d. to l½d. For letters over 1 oz. and not exceeding 3. ozs., the postage will continue to be 2d., with a½d. for every additional ounce. This reduced, or l½d. rate, will apply not only to inland letters, but to letters under 1 oz. for ‘the British Empire generally, to the United States of America and the British postal agencies in Morocco, although for these overseas letters the charge for every additional ounce beyond the first is l½d. . . . The British PostmasterGeneral estimated that there would be an increase of 335,000,000 letters under the reduced charges, or a 10 per cent. increase. As to inland postcards the reduction is from 1½d. to1d., while as to picture cards, which carry not more than five words of a conventional character, the charge is½d. The PostmasterGeneral estimated -that this reduction would mean an increase of 20 per cent., representing an additional 10,000,000 cards.
The Government of the United States of America also has made very large reductions and concessions in the internal and external postal rates, yet in Australia, where it is of the most vital importance that nothing should be done that will hamper in any way either internal or external communication, we have a system of postal rates which is restrictive and irritating in the extreme. The Sydney Chamber of Commerce Journal recently commented upon the difference between the postal rates in America and those in Australia. It said -
While Australia following on its representation at last year’s International Postal Union Conference at Madrid increased its postage to nearly all overseas countries, other than the British Empire, the United States adopted a diametrically opposite policy. That country has now arranged with sixty-three countries for a 2-cent rate of letters under one ounce. . .
The fact is the U.S.A. Postal authorities realize that a reduction of postage promotes trade and commerce, and intercourse with other countries, while Australia’s policy seems to lie to make its postal rates so high as to have a restrictive effect.
It is essential to our development that all methods of communication should be made as easy, effective, and cheap as possible. When penny postage was introduced in 1911, three out of the six States, Victoria, Western Australia, and Queensland, showed an excess of expenditure over revenue, while New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania showed small credit balances. To-day tha postal revenue shows a surplus over expenditure, and this has been the case for some years. In 1918-19 the postal revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department showed a surplus of £239,337, while all branches of the Department bad a surplus of £524,645. In 1919-20 the Post and Telegraph Department showed a credit balance in postal matters of £81,217, and a total credit for all Departments of £487,954. The last return available, that for 1920-21, show9 that the postal revenue of “the Department had a credit balance of £929,605, and that the total surplus for the whole of the Department amounted to £1,143,768.
– Is the honorable member in favour of curtailing country postal facilities ?
– I am not. The adoption of the motion will have exactly the opposite effect. It is because I believe that increased postal facilities will broaden communication and increase the correspondence of people in the country districts that I think this reform should be brought about at once. The figures I have quoted show that the Postal Department has had, during the last three years, a surplus revenue of £2,156,367. Even allowing for a deficiency of £8,312 in telegraph revenue last year, there was a net surplus of £1,143,768, nearly £1,000,000 of which was purely postal revenue. The Post and Telegraph Department was established for the purpose of supplying necessary services to the community. It is the duty of the Government to supply these services- as efficiently and economically as possible, and the Postal Department ought not to be called upon to earn profits for the purpose of bolstering up the Consolidated Revenue.. As a matter of fact, at the present time there are considerable sums of money paid from the Post Office into Consolidated Revenue, which sums should not go into the general funds of the country. For instance, money which is paid by the public for increased facilities of various kinds should be paid into a Trust Fund, where it could be held available for the purposes for which it has been paid in. At present the services for which people have already paid are delayed until after the passage of the Estimates, in which the money is voted out in the ordinary way as if the expenditure were being met from the, country’s revenue. This practice is to all intents and purposes a breach of trust in respect to the people who put’ down these: deposits for specific purposes, and it is time some alteration was made in the departmental practice in this respect. I know that the Treasurer is always very pleased if he can swell his revenue from the Post anc Telegraph Department, or any other Department. But the legitimate, object of the Department controlled by the PostmasterGeneral is to’ supply effective services, and so long as it supplies these services without being a burden to the taxpayer, the Treasurer should be satisfied with the control of the Department. There is a danger that the loss of revenue due to the introduction of the reform.:] suggest may be exaggerated. When the then Postmaster-General introduced penny postage, in 1911, he estimated that there would be an. immediate loss of revenue to the extent of £400,000, but the actual deficiency for the first year following the introduction of the reform did not amount to more than £263,763. This was reduced in the following year to £99,323, and’ in the third year the deficit, disappeared entirely, and was replaced .by a gain of £45,082. It can be shown very clearly that the imposition of increased postage rates brings about a very large reduction in the actual number of letters and post-cards posted. In 1919-20 the number of letters and post-cards posted in the Commonwealth for delivery within the Commonwealth was 526,261,391. In 1920-21 the number decreased to 512,020,544, a reduction of 14,240,847 in one period of twelve months. We may anticipate that an opposite result should follow a reduction in the postage rate, that is. to say, there ought to be a . considerable increase in the quantity of correspondence posted. There was a considerable immediate increase upon the introduction of penny postage in 1911, as shown by the following table: -
I find, too, that since the increased rates have been imposed, there has been a reduction of no less than 14,240,847 in the number of letters and post-cards posted within the Commonwealth. The figures are as follow: -
So far as the whole of the outward postal matter handled by the Department is concerned the number of postal articles dealt with during the same period dropped from 546,000,000 to 533,000,000.
As I have said, there is very great danger of exaggerating the loss of revenue that maybe occasioned by theintroduction of this reform.
– If we reverted to1d. postage, the revenue from this source would be reduced by one-half.
– I have been endeavouring to show that the increase in the number of letters and post-cards posted within the Commonwealth would be so great that the loss actually sustained would be considerably less than one-half of the revenue at present received from 2d. postage. In 1910, the postal revenue was £2,541,080; in 1911, £2,646,730; in 1912, following the introduction of1d. postage, it dropped to £2,375,390; but in 1914 it rose to £2,691,812, a revenue greater than that received before1d. postage came into operation. The following table will be found of interest: -
I think these figures will convince honorable members that we have no need to fear a reduction in the revenue of the Postal Department to anything like the extent suggested by the Minister. On the contrary, the evidence goes toshow that, within three years of the introduction of the reform I advocate, the increase in the postal matter handled will more than make good the deficiency. We may anticipate, not merely getting back to the level reached last year, but going considerably beyond it. Many large firms now employ boys to deliver letters and accounts which they sent through the post before the abolition of1d. postage.
– Many did the same thing when we had1d. postage.
– But not to anything like the present extent. Not only large private firms but public bodies have found it necessary to resort to delivery by hand in order to avoid the heavy expenditure which 2d. postage entails. In New. South Wales, at the beginning of this year, the Hurstville Council had to send out its rate notices. These had previously been sent through the post, but on account of the increased postal rate the council . decided to deliver them by hand. Applications were invited from persons willing to undertake the work, whereupon the Postal Department, in what I consider to be a very high-handed manner, interfered and threatened to prosecute the members of the council and the town clerk for a breach of the Postal Act. They contended, wrongly I think, that it was a breach of the Postal Act to employ persons to deliver the rate notices. The “ bluff,” however, succeeded. In deference to the representations made by the Department, the Hurstville (Council decided to send its rate notices as usual through the post, and the matter, having got into the press, many other municipalities that were making arrangements for delivery of rate notices by hand were also bluffed into distributing them through the Post Office in the ordinary way.
– Had the Hurstville Council some thousands of notices to send out?
– Between, 5,000 and 10,000. The Parramatta Council had some 12,000 of them to send out. That municipality could have delivered its notices by hand, more readily than the Hurstville Council, which ‘ has to deal with a far more scattered population.
– Do not rate notices come under the lower scale of charges applying to postal articles posted in large numbers?
– I cannot say, but I know that the Postmaster-General’s Department, in this instance, interfered in the most arbitrary and high-handed manner. There was no justification for the action it took.
The Sydney City Council is now delivering by hand all its electric supply accounts. The last quarter’s notices in respect of electric current were delivered by hand instead of being sent through the post as in previous years. That is but an illustration of what is being done by large institutions and firms that have to deal with a considerable volume of . corre- ‘ spondence. In view of all these facts we are fully justified in anticipating a repetition of our experience, when1d. postage was first introduced. We may safety anticipate a very large increase in postal business.
Another argument that has been used is that the increased number of postal articles which would be handled by. the Department as the result of the return to1d. postage would necessitate the employment of additional hands. That contention is not borne out by our experience. So far as I am aware, there was no decrease in the number of hands employed by the Department when we raised the postage to 2d., although, as I have shown, the result of the increase was that the number of postal articles dealt with by the Department was reduced to the extent of millions. I do not think there will be any material increase in the number of employees in the Department if this reduction in rates be made.
– We should have to pay extra amounts in respect of country mails because of the additional weight of parcels carried.
– Both in that respect, and in respect of some country postoffices where the officials in charge are paid on the basis of the volume of business transacted an increased allowance might have to be made.
– What the people in the country want is not1d. postage, but additional services.
– I think they require both. I am endeavouring to point out that the revenue of the Department not only justifies the reduction of the rates for which I ask, but warrants the supply of additional services to country districts. The changes I advocate do not threaten any interest, but must prove beneficial.
– The official estimate is that it will involve a loss of revenue amounting to £1,000,000.
– A former PostmasterGeneral told the House that, on the figures supplied to him by officers of his Department, the introduction of1d. postage would mean a decrease of £400,000 per annum in the revenue of the Department. Those figures applied to not only Commonwealth but international1d. postage. For the first year following the introduction of1d. postage, however, there was a loss of only £236,000 ; in the second year the loss was only £99,000; while in the third year there was an actual increase in the re-‘ venue.What occurred then will occur on this occasion. I repeat that the changes I advocate threaten no interests, and must be beneficial to the whole community. They will bring the people of the Commonwealth into closer and more frequent correspondence and intercourse than is now possible, and must result in improved conditions to the whole community. The experience of all nations justifies these reductions. The experience of the Common weal hh itself provides evidence of the strongest character that there will be no appreciable decline in the revenue from the reduction in postal rates. The loss of revenue is problematical, and the benefits are very real. I have therefore every confidence in asking the House to agree to the motion which I have submitted.
– It is quite refreshing to hear this question again discussed in the House. Statements made by way of interjection this afternoon by the PostmasterGeneral serve only to show how true it is that history repeats itself. We have heard during the debate the same old Conservative wheeze as to the loss of revenue which Id. postage would involve that we heard when in 1906 I first proposed Id. postage. Very few of those who took part in the division on that occasion are in the House to-day. The present Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton), however, is among the number, and I find that he voted against the motion. The reason he then gave for opposing Id. postage was that we could not afford to make a reduction. I cannot understand the attitude of people who seem to have abundant faith in every country save their own. They remind me of the story of the man who, while standing on North Head, Sydney was heard groaning, and when asked the reason, said “ You see that ship rolling, rolling, rolling, 4 miles out to sea? Well, it will roll and roll and roll towards the shore until at last it may roll on to my sore toe.” His fear was just about as reasonable as is that of those, who say that we shall suffer much loss of revenue by reverting to Id. postage. Such people fail to realize that this country is growing richer and richer, and that we should have faith in it. We are proud of the country to which we belong, and which has proved itself equal to every call made upon it. It is ridiculous to argue that the Government should charge more for the use of telephones and higher postage rates. What has been the history of the imposition, of postage rates throughout the world ? In every country where there has been a marked -reduction of rates the aggregate revenue has naturally fallen immediately afterwards, but has been more than adjusted within a period of three years. Without exception, any loss has been swiftly overtaken. When postage rates were reduced in Australia all sorts of dismal things were said. Many people believed the country would lose great “sums in revenue. What actually happened? The Postmaster-General’s Department lost less than £250,000 in the first year, and only a very small sum in the second year; while, in the third year, there was actually an increase.
– Every time the rates have gone up there has been an increase in revenue.
– I regret that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton) has not long ago perceived the error of that line of argument. I congratulate him upon his elevation to the most important office in the Ministry, and I am glad that he has been sensible enough lo seek the proper source for securing more money fan the services provided by his Department. But. what sort of services are we getting to-day ? I invite the Postmaster-General to examine the public telephone booths in the Sydney Railway Station. They are dirty, dismal holes; and, on any day, half of them will be found to be out of order.
– Are they any worse than when the honorable member was Postmaster-General ?
– During my regime I introduced some of the improvements which the Minister now sneers at. I am willing to stake my reputation against his as administrator of that great public Department. It ill-becomes the Postmaster-General, with his record in this House, to sneer at my term of office. The Minister took a very different stand in my day - when he was only a private member - from that which he adopts today. - The Minister now does what his officers tell him. He goes in ‘for the rubber-stamp business.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member’s real opinion of me.
– It is, that the Minister is no more than a rubber stamp. I know, however, that that is an easy Ministerial way of doing tilings. From personal experience I am aware that if a Minister bows the knee, and bends the head, to his leading officials he* is likely to have an easy time as administrator.
If I were to tell the Postmaster-General what the public are saying about his services, my remarks would cause my compulsory retirement from these immediate precincts. And, even if Mr. Speaker did not intervene, they would not be recorded in Hansard; for the views of the public on the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services are unprintable. 1 propose to draw certain comparisons between administrative methods to-day and those existing during my term as PostmasterGeneral. I heard the other day of a certain request by a postmistress living on Government-owned premises. She wanted a new cooking stove, as the old one had fallen to pieces. An inspector reported on the matter. How far he had to travel I do not know; but his costs were probably £10 to £12. He reported that a new stove was needed, and should be provided at a cost between £8 and £10. Another inspector was sent to the little post-office in question, and his expenses also amounted to about £10. His report was to the effect that the first inspector was a truthful man; that the old stove was, indeed, useless, for it was broken and had been thrown into the back yard; and, further, that the PostmasterGeneral, as landlord of the premises, should provide a new stove. That was the end of the business for some time; and then I made inquiries. I was told that the money for the stove would have to be provided from Melbourne, and that it could not be secured. I thereupon threatened that there would be “something doing” if action were not taken. A stove has since been provided, and the poorly-paid postmistress is, I presume, satisfied.
– How would the honorable member have dealt with that application, for a new stove had he still been Postmaster-General ?
– The question is irrelevant.
– Not at all ! The honorable member promised to draw comparisons.
– Well, a new stove would have been installed without first calling upon the expensive services of two inspectors.
– But that system of sending inspectors to report existed during the honorable member’s time as administrator.
– There would not have been a waste of public money such as occurred in this instance.
I wish to know if it is a fact that, during last year, a certain postmaster became due for a rise of £15 to £20, and that, as his office was not gathering suffi cient revenue to entitle him to remain there upon his augmented ‘salary, some twenty or thirty other postmasters had to be removed from their posts to other offices, at a cost of £1,000, in order to properly place the official who had become entitled to a rise?
– The system is exactly the same as when the honorable member was Postmaster-General.
– Does the Minister admit that the incident is true 1
– That is the system.
– Well, if this country will stand for that it will stand for anything. The Postmaster - General admits that it cost £1,000 to freshly place the postmaster who had earned a £20 rise.
– I did not say that.
– The system is a farce, if some twenty other postmasters have to be moved about the country to- make an appropriate opening for one mau.
– I repeat that the system is what it was in the honorable member’s day. If it is a farce now it was a farce then, and he should have put .an end to it.
– No good purpose can be served by arguing with the Postmaster -General. The point which I have already stressed is that if postage rates are increased by one penny there is an immediate accretion of revenue; but, eventually, the aggregate drops. On the other hand, if postage rates are decreased there is an immediate consequent fallingoff of revenue, but the aggregate within three years becomes greater. The twopenny postage rate was really instituted as a form of war tax. There is no longer justification for imposing such a tax. Contrary to his usual practice, the PostmasterGeneral appears disposed to gird at me, and to draw comparisons as regards the present and earlier administrations of the Department. But I ammerely showing what his present attitude represents to the public. The Minister may smile in his superior way now, but it is quite possible that when we next face the electors, he and others who adopt the same attitude over this matter will be found with their hands in the air’ crying out for political mercy. I strongly resent the attitude of the Postmaster-General. He is quite entitled to his own opinion, of course, and it is consistent with his attitude in 1906, when I moved for the introduction of penny postage. He was opposed to it then, and to that extent his present attitude is quite consistent. But it is bad policy for the Government to penalize people in isolated parts of the Commonwealth. Only the other day, the Minister announced with a flourish of trumpets that he was going to get the Treasurer to provide him with £8,000,000 of loan money to make up some of the arrears of public works in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Departments. The Minister has not been long at the head of the Department, but he has been there long enough to say that he is not prepared to make any reduction in the telephonic and postage rates. Unless I misjudge the people very much, it will be impossible for any Government fto flout their wishes in this way and remain in office for any length of time. I invite the Minister to get the opinion of the big merchants, as well as the people out-back, upon the present position. In many instances, people have been waiting for eighteen months for telephones. I am not blaming the present PostmasterGeneral, of course. I am blaming the Department, and think that the sooner a change is made in the system the better; it will be for the Commonwealth. The Minister stated the other day that the salaries of those officers in charge of small post-offices were paid on the volume of business done. Evidently he was misinformed, because salaries are paid upon the amount of revenue received. We admit, of course, that, as there are so many of these small post-offices, those in charge of them could not be paid big salaries, hut they should foe fairly recompensed for the service rendered. The weight system itself is bad. Experience has shown that in countries where the rate for the carriage of mail matter from 1 oz. to $ lb. is the same, the position is much more satisfactory, because our system necessitates a considerable amount of double handling and weighing, besides causing a great deal of annoyance to addressees, who are called upon to pay postal surcharges. It would be as well if the Postmaster- General . stirred up some of his officers in order to Bee what oan be done to improve the position. The recent Conference at Madrid ifr. Austin Chapman. has had serious ‘consequences for the commercial community in this country. All countries, even China, are now in the Postal Union. When ‘ I attended a similar Conference ten years ago, the only countries outside the Postal Union were Ethiopia and China. It is well known that delegates at these gatherings fight for their own particular interests. Switzerland, for instance, with no sea-borne traffic is indifferent on the ‘ question of seacarriage of mails; but naturally any increases in these charges means a very great deal to Great Britain and Australia, the former of which is tile greatest advertising country in the world. It should be the business of our delegates to these conferences to look after our own affairs. The last Madrid Conference has resulted in the doubling and trebling of some of our postal charges; but, unfortunately, we do not know who was responsible, for that. Surely, the PostmasterGeneral reads the criticisms from the commercial community in the daily press ? Although I had a very rocky time when I was administering the Department some years ago, I have no hesitation in saying that the Department has never been so bare of facilities as it is to-day. Will any honorable member stand up in this House and say that the administration of the Department in his division is satisfactory. According to figures furnished by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) there was a net profit last year of £1,143,768. If I had time I would like to. search Hansard for some remarks made by the present Postmaster-General, who declared, during my administration of the Department, that the Post Office should not be run for the purpose of making a profit; but that it must be regarded as a great educational institution for the ‘ benefit .of the people. If he were now living in the back-blocks .he would know that the arrival of the mail’ is quite an event to people in some districts; and, instead of making the people pay double postage and double rates for telephones, something should be ‘done to make their position easier. I know the Minister holds the view that everything is all right, and that the last button has been polished; but the people, and especially the commercial community, hold quite a different opinion. Nearly every commercial man now sends telegrams at urgent rate, which means double rates. And ask the officials of the Australian Mutual Provident Society what present postage means to them. They will tell you that when postage was Id., they posted twice the volume of correspondence, and were able to use the facilities provided, as an advertising medium.
– You will admit, I suppose, that if rates were reduced by onehalf we should have to double the output to get the same revenue?
– The history of the world has shown that, in a very short time, the output is more than doubled, and the business more profitable. The Minister might as well ask what would happen if we charged 6d. postage upon each letter sent through the Post Office. The result would be that we would get less and less revenue.
– If the volume of business were doubled more labour would be required, of course.
– That may be true; but the history of postal reform in other countries indicates that while the volume of mail matter increased from 60 to 70 per cent., the increase in the cost of handling amounted to only 5 per cent. If we doubled our population to-morrow should we have to double the present staffs in our Customs and Postal Departments, and Public Service generally?
– It is desirable, of course, that more employment should be provided.
– The honorable member may use that argument if he likes ; but with the present direct and indirect taxation systems in force, I am afraid that we could hardly expect people to find employment in some districts at all. In my division the people are overburdened by taxation. The honorable member for Nepean demonstrated that, if we had penny postage, penny telephones, penny trams, and Id. on cheques, the revenue would be more than doubled. I believe he is right.
– We would not draw any more cheques, surely !
– I know that many business houses which formerly drew thirty or forty cheques for the payment of accounts now draw one cheque and pay the accounts in cash. In this way, of course, they expose themselves to the risk of robbery. In my own case, I have on many occasions drawn one big cheque for the payment of numerous small accounts. We are told that the time for these reforms is not opportune. The attitude of some honorable members reminds me of the man who said, “ The day of judgment will be a busy day; let us settle on the day after.” I appeal to honorable members to have some faith in the future of Australia. I prophesy that during the next ten years there will be more progress in the Commonwealth than there has been during the last 100 years. All that is needed is a broader and more courageous outlook. Why should we weigh the people down with the burden of taxation, and so make it impossible to start big factories and industries? The honorable member for Nepean is to be commended for having moved this motion, and I have pleasure in seconding it. The Postal Department was never in such a bad state as it is to-day. Will any honorable member say that he can see any improvement in it?
– Nobody will say that the Department has improved.
– Nobody could say that. I find on looking up the records that there are in the House today only eleven members who voted on this question in 1906. Time has an extraordinary influence upon the personnel of this House.
– I voted against penny postage then, and will do .so again.
– I am surprised at the Postmaster-General’s attitude as revealed by his interjections. Does the honorable gentleman think that in his own electorate postal conditions have improved? Do his constituents prefer to pay 2d. for a letter and increased rates for telegrams?
– Quite a number of them told me that they want, not a reduction in postage charges, but more facilities. I received to-day a deputation which brought forward that request.
– I, too, want more facilities; and is not the Department to raise a big loan for the purpose of providing them? But what is the good of providing a telephone for people if the charge is so high that they cannot afford to use it?
– We have the cheapest telephone system in the world.
– And the rottenest. I can quite understand that a person who has had such a tremendous experience as has the Postmaster-General knows more than does the British PostmasterGeneral. Was the Minister listening when the honorable member for Nepean quoted what the British PostmasterGeneral said?
– I was.
– Does he think that the British PostmasterGeneral is a fool? My view is that those old Britishers know what they are doing. They will not throw away a lot of revenue, and they are not bad fellows to follow.
– I also read that the British postal authorities are making good their losses from the Trust Account.
– Will the honorable member tell us how he will vote?
– I always know how I will vote. I have not to go upstairs to consult the Age and Argus before I record a vote. I remind the House that twenty years ago the then Governor-General (Lord Hopetoun), in his Speech to Parliament, said -
As soon as practicable ‘the postal and telegraphic rates of the several States will be assimilated, and when the finances of the Commonwealth permit, a uniform, and, if possible, a universal, penny postage rate will be established.
Has the country progressed in the meantime? Are we as satisfied with the prospect of Australia as we were then? Will the Minister attempt to ram it down my throat that we cannot afford that pennypostage which was promised twenty years ago. -I remind honorable members that though on 364 days in the year they may be masters, the -365th day is polling day, when the people are masters. Would any honorable member say that he is satisfied with the administration of the Postal Department? I should like, the Government Whip (Mr. Marr) to tell the House of some of his experiences as an employee of the Postal Department. The PostmasterGeneral admitted, by inference, that in order to give a postmaster a rise of from £15 to £20 he has to spend about £1,000 in transferring various officers. That is the’ fault of the system. I do not hold the Minister responsible for that, but he will be responsible if he allows such a faulty system to continue.
– Is not the Public Service Commissioner responsible?
– The fault lies with the system, and I am surprised that when the honorable member was a Minister he did not seek to rectify these defects. If the Postmaster-General desires to succeed he must remove the Central Administration to Canberra, and then perhaps we shall have a proper system and proper control.
.-There is no doubt that this motion would meet with the approval of the majority of people if it could be shown that a reduction of postal, telephonic, and telegraphic charges were practicable; but I cannot support the motion until I have evidence that with such a reduction the present revenue can be maintained and the increased facilities that are demanded by the people in every State can be afforded. I cannot follow the argument advanced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) that the people who live outback are special sufferers because postal and telephonic rates are high. It is obvious that the people who live in the big centres and enjoy these facilities would readily approve of a reduction in rates. But I fail to see how people living out-back, without a mail service and without telegraphic or telephonic communication, are sufferers because the charges are high. In my own electorate more telephones and mail services are still required; and until I can get those conveniences I will not support the reduction of rates charged to people who are already enjoying all the good things with which the Postal Department can provide them. At the same time, the rates charged by the Postal Department should not be a means of swelling the general revenue. The Department should be selfsupporting, but nothing more. It has been self-supporting in the past, but I do not feel justified in believing the contention put forward by the mover and seconder of the motion that if the rates are reduced the revenue would be increased. If I were convinced of such a result, I would have no hesitation in supporting the motion.. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that if the postal rate were increased to Cd., the revenue would further decrease. I would he pleased if the profiteers in the community would accept his contention, because there would be a decrease in price immediately. The argument that no benefit results from increasing rates is justified to a certain extent, for we know that very often the man who charges unreasonable prices for his commodities loses business; but, with all respect to the wider knowledge and experience of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I cannot believe that the revenue would be increased by a reduction of rates. I can. however, indorse what he said about the need for greater facilities. I do not think there is any honorable member who will differ from him on that point. We have fought for an extension of postal, telephonic, and telegraphic facilities, particularly in country districts, many times during the period I have been a member of this House, and I am pleased to have the assurance of the Postmaster-General that in the near future there will be a very great improvement in that respect. I want for my own electorate some of the £9,000,000 of loan money he is prepared to spend, and I mean to have it. The Department has been rather tardy in giving me an assurance that very much needed extensions of telephonic and mail services will be given at an early date. That is the only complaint I have against the Department. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro challenged honorable members to say that there had been an improvement in postal administration generally in recent years. I, at any rate, consider that there has been a very marked improvement during the last two years, and I am prepared to give the Department the credit which is its due in that regard. I give credit also to the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton), and to his predecessor (Mr. Wise). But we want still more facilities, and we shall not achieve that result by reducing postage rates at the present time. What has been said by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) In reference to persons who are doing postal work at a wage very much below what is in keeping with the labour they perform is justified in every respect. There are young women carrying on the duties of postmistresses in country districts at a remuneration which is so nominal that it can scarcely be called a wage. They are doing their work for the benefit of the people in their districts, and they are doing it well. We are not justified in claiming that those who are given every facility for posting letters, and having them delivered at their doors, should have a reduction in their postage rates until we do justice to the people in outlying districts. We cannot do that justice by reducing rates. I have no intention of saying anything more on this subject. It is possible that there will be a vote upon the question, and I thought it necessary to put my views before the House in order to justify the vote I intend te give. Undoubtedly if we were in a position to reduce postage rates, and are to continue to make the Postal Department self-supporting, it would be a very acceptable reform to the .people generally, but until we are satisfied that the reduction sought can be brought about without making the Postal Department a burden on the general community I cannot support such a motion.
– I am quite satisfied that penny postage is desirable. It is equally desirable that wc should have cheap sugar, cheap suits, cheap boots, cheap living, and a consequent increased purchasing power of the sovereign; but, in the economical conditions prevailing to-day, I cannot see why we should single out one Department from others, and compel it to be run on oldtime costs. The working costs of the Postal Department have gone up in equal ratio with those of every other Department or concern. We would like to have cheap newspapers, but we have to pay double the old rates.
– The Daily Telegraph in Sydney is now Id.
– The price of newspapers in Victoria is just 100 per cent, higher than a few years ago.
– Is the honorable member referring to those newspapers which supported the honorable member because he kicked up a hiss about the increase in members’ salaries?
– The newspapers in question do not assist me except to the extent that their very severe criticism of me is, I take it, a compliment to me.
– They supported the honorable member on the salary question.
– The whole question of postage rates is an economic one. If the general revenue is increased by the amount paid by the whole of the people who use the services of the Department for the distribution of their information, it is thus a levy upon the whole community. While we require facilities in country districts which have to be provided at present-day costs, we cannot afford to cut down a section of the utilities afforded by the Department either for political purposes or for the convenience of a few individuals. If Parliament decided to make a “general cut down in everything, including honorable members’ salaries, such a step would have my support, because undoubtedly it would be the shortest cut to prosperity. No one would be the loser to the extent of one farthing. The only effect would be to substantially increase the purchasing power of our money. By inflating the cost of everything we are obliged to pay more money for . the commodities we require, and I do not see how the PostmasterGeneral, at the present value of money, could get on anyeasier than could other Departments or concerns. The question at issue is one that must be dealt with on general lines and in the light of the present value of money. Wages paid in the Postal Department have increased.
– The Postal Department has earned considerable surpluses.
-It was wrong for past Treasurers to deprive the Postal Department of the profits it earned, impoverishing it to such an extent that its services are sadly in arrear, so much so that the loan which the Postmaster -General is seeking will have to be floated to enable the Department . to keep pace with the pressing requirements of the country.
Mr.Considine. - Does the honorable member suggest that the people without postal facilities in country districts should wait until the Department can provide those facilities out of profits?
– No. I am speaking in the interests of people who lack those conveniences in country districts. Their quarrel is not with the twopenny stamp; it is withthe absolute absence of means of telephonic or telegraphic communication .
– A greater revenue will be earned by the Department with penny postage.
– I am, informed that a greater revenue has been earned since the introduction of the two-penny stamp, and it is a simple matter of calculation to see that if the extra revenue derived from that source had not come in, the Departmental arrears would have been much greater than they are. I want penny postage, but I cannot see how we can have it if we are to overcome the arrears and at the same time pay interest and sinking fund on the loan that will be required. The whole question is a business proposition. On these grounds I am not prepared to take an unreasonable step. It might be very nice to have penny postage, and I dare say that many people in my electorate hold that twopence is too much to pay; but I shall have the opportunity of telling them why I vote in the way I intend on this question.
Mr.CONSIDINE (Barrier) [4.28].- I desire to say a few words on this question.
– The honorable member said a good few words upon it while I was speaking.
Mr.CONSIDINE. - And apparently the honorable member is about to follow my example. He does not think that we should revert to penny postage, or that the people should have cheaper telephonic or telegraphic facilities.
– I think that we should have penny postage when we can afford to have it.
– The honorable member’s only argument was that the revenue had increased when the charges were made higher, and he sees no reason for reducing the cost of postage, although he can always see ample reason for reducing his own salary from £1,000 to £600. On every -occasion on which this question has been debated in the House I have contended that the Postal. Department should notbe treated as a business concern and run to make -a -profit.. It is a Department which supplies . services which are absolutely necessary,particularly for people who have not the advantage of living in cities. The same view . should be held -by all honorable members who represent large areas where the means of communication are so lacking. Take, for instance, the large territory I represent, with such great distances between the various centres of population, and the inconvenience and risk to life to which people have to submit when they are taken ill and are unable to reach a medical man.
– What the honorable member wants is telephonic communication.
– That is so; but the argument advanced by the honorable member applies equally to telephonic and telegraphic facilities.
– Will the honorable member advocate a reduction of wages if I support a reduction in the postal rates?
– It is not a question of whether I am in favour of reducing wages or the cost of material. I am not concerned as to how the facilities which the people in my electorate require are to be given. I am not administering the Postal Department; but if the honorable member would lend me his support, and place me in that desirable position, I have no doubt I would administer it to the satisfaction of myself, and, possibly, that of my constituents, if not to that of the honorable member. The question for honorable members is not to show how reduced costs can be brought about, but to say whether they are in favour of people who lack postal facilities obtaining them in the back country, placing on the Ministry of the day the responsibility of saying how they shall be provided. I am surprised that an honorable member who claims to represent the interests of country people should put obstacles in the way of . those who wish to support him. The honorable member for Swan does not seem to wish that the people he claims to represent should be brought within the benefits that can be provided by the, Postal Department. No doubt when he is campaigning he will find it very difficult to explain his extraordinary attitude.
– That is the occasion which the honorable member is thinking about more than anything else.
– Not at all. I have been very consistent in the attitude I have taken up in regard to this matter.
– It is a very popular attitude.
– It is not a. question of popularity; it is aquestion of affording facilities to people whose lives are endangered, and whose health is likely to suffer through the lack of means of communication in outlying districts. Take the case of Tibooburra or Milparinka. Each of these places is separated from Broken Hill by over 100 miles, and each is without the facility of means of communication. If the people in either place had telephonic communication with Broken Hill they could ring up and secure the services of a medical man there.
– Could they not do so whether the telephonic charge was high or low ?
– I know of one case where the patient had to be moved from Milparinka to Broken Hill. The road was so rough that the nurse in charge was thrown out, and had her. arm broken, and the patient died. The journey would have killed him if the disease had not.
– How would1d. postage have prevented it ?
– I am not dealing with that phase of the question. I am dealing with the whole matter of the lack of facilities which the Department could supply to people in theoutlving districts.
– I am afraid that that question is not covered by the motion, which deals specifically with postal charges within the Commonwealth.
– I am dealing with the subject that previous speakers were allowed to touch upon.
– In answer to the honorable member for Swan, I am illustrating a point; I wish to make by quoting a case which has come under my notice. However, with regard to the question of the reduction of the postal rates from 2d. to1d., we were told when the rate was increased that it was purely a war-time measure.
– We did not revert to two-penny postage until after the war.
– I may be mistaken, but I think the rates were increased during the war period.
– No; a war tax of id. was imposed during the war period, and subsequently there was a reversion to twopenny postage.
– From my point of view the Postal Department ought to be administered irrespective of the profit derived from the services’ rendered by it. It is from. that stand-point that I support the proposal to revert to penny postage. It is not because I believe that such a reduction will benefit the great masses of the people. I know that it will benefit the business interests more than any other section; but I support it because it is a step in the direction that I want to go. My desire is that we shall, wipe out all postal charges. I would be prepared to support a still further reduction than, that now proposed in order to make the facilities of the Department available to all and sundry.
– The honorable member has not told lis how those services_are to lie paid for.
– The honorable member (Mr. Prowse) takes up very much the attitude of those who in the old days opposed the abolition of tolls and punt charges. It used to be said, for instance, that the abolition of tolls in respect of bridges would result in people continually running backwards and forwards over them.
– The honorable member wants the other fellow to pay.
– I do not. I know that it is the working men and women on the land, in the workshops, and in the mines, who have to pay for these and all other services. I recognise, in supporting this motion, that if it is adopted the benefit will go chiefly to the business interests.
– Then the honorable member is becoming somewhat conservative?
– No. My point is that even if the business people do benefit by the adoption of this proposal, I shall at least get a little nearer to the goal I desire to reach. When the opportunity presents itself, I shall support a still further reduction; I would abolish the whole cost of postage. I, regard the Department as a public necessity, and consider that the people should be able to participate in its services just as freely as they may enter a public park or any public institution which is beneficial and necessary to them. The cost of this Department’s services should be provided out of the revenue derived from a progressive income tax.
– Would the honorable member take up the same attitude with regard to the parcels post?
– I would include all avenues of postal activities. Had I the power, I should insist upon the people who monopolize the wealth of the community paying for the facilities which the community enjoys.
– No wonder we are at variance.
– Of course we are at variance. It must be very difficult for the honorable member, who so zealously safeguards business interests, to oppose them on this occasion.
Fearing that honorable members might have forgotten the attitude which I have always taken up with regard to taxation, I have availed myself of this opportunity to again emphasize the point that while I think that the people in the back country should have increased facilities - and I shall support every motion designed to increase the facilities of the Department in the out-back districts - I hold that those who should pay for such services are the people who derive the greatest benefit from the wealth that is produced in this country. I refer to the people who monopolize it. They should provide the revenue to enable the extension of the facilities of the Department in country districts.
– The big city houses are helping now to pay for back-country facilities.
– We know the extent to which they are helping to pay for such services. They can pass on the postal charges, just as they pass on everything else. It is the people who are exploited on the land, in the workshops, the factories, and the mines, who cannot pass them on. They pay for all these services, and it is out of the wealth produced by them that these other people seek to reap the full benefit. Honorable members speak of the equality of the postal rates; but there is really no equality. When a flat rate is struck, there is no equality of payment. A man who is in receipt of £3 per week pays 2d. on every letter posted, just as does the man who receives £1,000 a year. There is no equality under such a system. A man who is struggling along on £3 a week, and can scarcely keep body and soul together, has nothing on which taxation may be levied.
– Such a man does not write many letters.
– He has occasionally to write letters. It is absurd to say that such a man would receive from the proposed reduction a benefit in any way comparable to that of the business man who conducts a voluminous correspondence.
– The honorable member is right in that respect.
– The position, so far as taxation is concerned, when viewed from the same angle, should be equally obvious to the honorable member. That is why I say that the revenue which the Department needs to enable it to extend its facilities should not be derived from postal and telegraphic charges, but should be a charge upon the whole Commonwealth. I recognise that the people who will immediately benefit from such a reduction as is proposed in this case are those engaged in business, yet, because the proposal coincides with my views on the broad general question, and’ approximates to what I desire in regard to this Department, I shall support the motion.
.- This is a matter of vital importance to the Commonwealth, and should be well considered. I am confident that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton) will not be so foolish as to agree to reduce the city postal rates. His .sense of justice, I am sure, will prevent him from doing anything of the kind while there is such a demand for much improved postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities in the country districts. I recently attended a conference of representatives of Chambers of Commerce of Australia, held in Hobart, at which this question was raised by a representative of the Sydney Chamber. He moved that there should bo a return to penny postage, and was supported by a representative of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce; but when several of us took up the matter strongly, and showed exactly what the position was in the country, the motion was withdrawn. Those who had favoured it saw the justice of refraining from seeking a reduction so long as it was impossible for the people out-back to obtain reasonable postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. It is all very well’ for honorable members to point to the surplus earned by the Department, but we must not lose sight of the fact -that a very large expenditure will be necessary to complete the works for which we have so long been waiting. We have been waiting for the arrival of plant and equipment to enable the authorized extension of telephone and telegraph facilities in the western districts of Queensland and other out-back parts of the Commonwealth. Australia is capable of carrying a population of 150,000,000, instead of a little over 5,000,000, as at present, and if those who urge that we want more people are sincere, they will recognise that we must improve the services of the Department in country districts in order to encourage people to settle on the land. It is the lack of such facilities that prevents so many people from going on the land. We have in Queensland a magnificent area of 419,000,000 acres, and honorable members know what the people in the western districts of that State are suffering because of their inability to secure the postal* telegraphic, and telephonic communications to which they are entitled. In the circumstances, why should we revert to penny postage to benefit the people of our cities, who have been well considered ? One of the largest firms in this city, which perhaps posts more letters than does any other in the State, has publicly announced that it would prefer the two-penny postage to be continued in order that increased facilities may be given by the Department to those who settle on the land.
– They pass on their postal charges.
– They do not. I am speaking of a large firm connected with the sheep and cattle industry as stock and station agents. They cannot pass on the postage.
– A deputation representing a very large section of the people of Victoria recently told me that what they wanted was not a reduction in the postal rates, but increased postal facilities.
– That, I think, is the general opinion. If honorable members had taken the trouble to ascertain the views of the people in the back country, they would agitate, not foi- a reduction in postal rates in the city, but for increased facilities to the settlers. I have inside knowledge of these matters. Week after week I receive numerous letters from people in different parts of my electorate urging the necessity for a further extension of the facilities from the Department. We have no right to shut our eyes to these facts. If the Postmaster-General has any surplus it should be applied to the relief of stress in the country, and should not be devoted to giving still greater facilities to city people who have practically every convenience they could wish. I am confident that the Postmaster-General will see that no such reduction as is sought shall be made.
.- The arguments of the honorable member who has just spoken fail to convince. Without doubt, there are some large city firms which would support the retention of the 2d. postage rate. But the fact is that the added cost of this form of taxation does not fall upon their shoulders; they are able to “ pass it on.” The people who pay are those who produce in the country. They pay in the form of the additional cost of articles which they procure from city firms through the post. It has been urged in the course of the debate that we should reduce the cost of living. The trouble appears to be to know where to begin. Some people suggest that there should be, first, a cuttingdown pf wages. That, I maintain, would be beginning at the wrong end. A great number of working men who have families to support find it difficult to do so even in these days of high rates of pay. But wages inevitably must come down if we are to compete successfully with the rest of the civilized world, where wage rates are lower. We must reduce the cost of living. How, and where, shall wo begin? Unless production is increased per head in Australia, wages must come down. Before wages are reduced, there are other things which should be cut down. First and foremost of these factors is the cost of government. Rents, also, are a fair and reasonable objective for the pruning knife. The simplest and most efficient method, then, of reducing the cost of living is to begin by cutting down the cost of government. And in respect of postage rates a good opportunity is afforded for making a start.
– The increased rates were imposed to pay certain national commitments. Those have not yet been wiped out.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral suggest that the money made out of the postal services goes back . into the Department which he administers? The money is put into the Treasury, and this Parliament has to vote afresh every year the sums required for maintaining and extending postal, telephonic, and telegraphic facilities.
– Inasmuch as the money goes back into the Treasury, it relieves the Treasurer from imposing additional taxation generally.
– Almost every Department to-day is costing more than ever before.
– My wages bill, as a result of recent awards, has gone up to the extent of £1,500,000 sterling.
– The cost of government must first be reduced, and then the wages bills of which the Minister complains, can be brought down. While Departments are being administered after the methods of to-day, it is not reasonable to talk of reducing wages. Until a beginning is made with the reduction of the cost of government, there is little chance of Australia holding her own in respect of her manufactured products. The increase of postal rates was a war-time form of taxation, and those rates now provide a good opening to make a start upon the reduction of governmental costs.
.- I sympathize with many of the views which have been expressed by supporters of the motion this afternoon; but, at the same time, I cannot support it. Honorable members are probably in constant receipt of letters from all over their electorate, asking for increased postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. The bulk of the burden of extra postage costs certainly falls upon the shoulders of city people ; but no one could expect the PostmasterGeneral, upon a falling revenue, to extend the facilities afforded by his Department. Until something approaching a reasonable standard of communication in country districts is achieved the Government should maintain the .present rates of postage.
– The extra money derived from the increased rates is not given to the Postmaster-General to spend upon country facilities.
– The fact that the additional revenue goes to the Treasury improves the prospects of the PostmasterGeneral when he seeks more funds for the extension of facilities. The average person in country districts does not write more than one letter a week. The bulk of postage costs, therefore, falls upon city people. If rates are reduced it will be impossible to expect any decrease in the cost of living as a- direct consequence. The amounts paid by large city firms for postage stamps must be considerable; but I cannot believe that reduced rates will bring down the cost of living generally. The present progressive policy of the Department should be maintained.
– Does the honorable member suggest that it has a progressive policy ?
– I am able to speak from grateful personal experience. I have known numbers of instances, during the past six months, in which requests for the extension of the facilities administered by the Postmaster-General have been granted.
– The honorable member is lucky.
– I am glad that people in my electorate have benefited; but I do not suggest that they have been exceptionally fortunate; There has recently been an all-round increase in the provision of postal, telephonic, and telegraphic services in the country, and the policy is one of which I cordially approve. The Postmaster-General has been promised a large sum for the further extension of important works throughout the Commonwealth. His progressive policy would be seriously interfered with if there were a reduction of postage rates. Honorable members should not play up to popular feeling outside in asking for a reduction in postal rates at the present time.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided.
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Redistribution of New South Wales
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 785), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. J. Broughton, S. Irwin, and H. A. Smith, the Distribution Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in red on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Barton” be substituted for “ Kogarah,” and the name “ Reid “ for “ Granville.”
.- The most important duty that can devolve upon the Parliament of any country’ is to determine the method by which the people shall say who shall represent them in that Parliament. This duty is more important under a Federation, which is a union of several States, because each is entitled to a definite share of representation proportionate to the numbers of its people. The Federal Convention recognised this, and the Constitution which was evolved by that gathering indicates quite clearly that a doubt existed in the minds of the delegates as to whether they were offering a permanent solution of the question of equitable representation of the various States. This is suggested in the first place by the use of the words “ as nearly as practicable,” in connexion with the number of representatives to be returned to the House of Representatives as compared with the number to be elected for the Senate, and, in the second place, by the provision that the method of securing that representation should stand only till Parliament should otherwise provide. The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom), when speaking upon this motion yesterday, pointed out that three principles were involved ; but I should like to remind him that two of these are fixed and inviolable, and about the third there is a certain amount of elasticity. Strange to say, the Minister devoted the whole of his attention yesterday, not to those principles that are inviolable, but to the one in connexion with which there is a qualification, and which is, therefore, to some extent elastic. These three principles are - (1) That there must be a minimum of representation for the different States; (2) that the number of members of the House of Representatives should be as nearly as practicable twice that of the Senate; and (3) that the representatives from the several States should be in proportion to the number of the people in those States. Two> of these principles, as I have already shown, have no qualification whatever, but the third implies a qualification in that the minimum representation for each State ‘ may only be altered under the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution. The House of Representatives is designed expressly to contain representatives of the people as people, as distinct from the Senate, which is intended to represent the States as States. I take it that the whole underlying idea of creating the House of Representatives was to give a House in which the people wherever they happen to reside, would have the same voting weight whether they lived in one State or another; and that the number of the members was to be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators. The Convention delegates worshipped at the shrine of equity and justice, but the Attorney -General yesterday worshipped at the shrine of actual numbers, and said, in effect, that this was to be regarded as the beginning and end of the whole section. That the Convention’s suggestion as to representation was not intended to be regarded as cast-iron is indicated by the fact that in section 26 . of the Constitution there are two illustrations as to the numbers which might be in the House, varying, in each case, with the number of States in the Federation. On the assumption that there would be five States in the Federation the number was fixed at sixty -two, and on the assumption that there would be six States the number was placed at seventy-five. The Convention evolved a formula for the purpose of determining the number of representatives in each State, after allowing the full minimum representation for two States which had not a sufficient population to obtain the quota. This formula gave a House which would vary from seventyfour on the one hand to seventy-six on the other.
– You mean by using seventy- two as a divisor?
– Yes, as I shall show in the course of my remarks. Working on that basis, it can be shown that if the States of Tasmania, and Western Australia had a population entitling them to the full number of members in the House of Representatives, the House would vary between seventy-one and seventythree, but under the present formula, if there were 72,000 more people in Western Australia, or Tasmania, we would have a House of seventy-four, because in those circumstances, by reason of the fact that the quota for the whole of the Commonwealth would be raised, South Australia would have six. The system I am propounding is not unique. So far as I can learn it is in force in every country in the world where the proportional system of representation is adopted. Unless we establish an equitable quota the result will be most unsatisfactory for various States in turn. On this occasion it happens to be Victoria, but after the next census it might be some” other State.
– Is not the present position due rather to the distribution of the adult population ?
– That has no relationship to the problem at all. The population determines the number of representatives which each State shall have in the Commonwealth Parliament. The question of the number of electors is quite subsidiary, and is only used to illustrate the inequity of the present system. Let me give another illustration. If, at the last census, Victoria had registered 10,522 people more than it had, and the total population ofthe Commonwealth had been the same, the number of members in this House, under the present constitutional formula, would have been seventysix, an increase of one member, namely, twenty-eight in New South Wales, twenty-one in Victorias ten in Queensland, seven in South Australia, and five each in Western Australia and Tasmania.
– Under any system you get a fluctuation in population, which, affects the representation.
– Yes, but the system I am advocating would inflict the least inequity and least injustice on the various States and the people concerned. That is my whole point. This is a matter which has engaged the attention of the students of parliamentary government in every State in the world where representatives of the people are returned to the various Parliaments in proportion to the population. The present provision was oily inserted in the Constitution as a temporary model until we could get something better. Let me give another illustration. If at the last census South Australia, had 7,177 fewer persons, and if this number had been divided amongst the people in the various States there would have been seventy-four members in this House, or a reduction of one on the present representation. All sorts of permutations and combinations are possible, and I shall show presently that the reasons given by the Minister yesterday for adhering slavishly to the present system, because it happens to produce one less member for the whole Parliament, go by the board, because they are full of inaccuracies and errors, anc! in some instances may result in returning a number less than twice the number of the senators as desired, and would defeat the precaution against’ dead-lock, for which this provision was specially designed. The amendment I shall move is an alternative proposal which in the first place suggests what is the most readily determined and most equitable quota. In order to determine the number of members to be elected in each State, the Commonwealth may be regarded as being practically one large electorate, in which there are six parties desiring to return representatives. The Constitution says that the number of representatives for each of these States, which may be considered as parties for this purpose, shall be determined in proportion to the numbers of their people. That clearly lays down that there must be a proportional system whereby each State will receive its just representation. What are the means that are usually adopted to secure a right quota in such circumstances? Up till 1881 in the various systems of proportional representation then in use, the practice was that which the Constitution suggests, viz., to divide the population by the number of the members to be elected, but it was frequently found that the quota in such circumstances was too high, and a sixteenmember electorate, for instance, would have a quota for only fourteen members.
– That was due to the voters dropping out.
– It was due to the fact that the quota was too high. It was found also that if the numbers were arranged in certain ways the result was not true proportional representation. To correct that defect recourse was had to the simple procedure that obtained in connexion with the return of members for a single constituency, namely, obtaining the quota by dividing the total population by the number of members to be returned, plus one. That is what has been done continuously in practically every system of proportional representation, and is the universal practice in all British dominions.
– Can the honorable member explain why the quota is too high if the number of people is divided simply by the number of members to be returned ?
– We find that by dividing the total population of 5,416,000 by seventy-two we get a quota of 75,231, which gives New South Wales 27.91 members, or .09 less than the number of members it returns; Queensland 9.93 members, or .07 less than the number of members it returns; and South Australia, 6.58, which is .42 less than the total number of members it returns, whilst at the same time Victoria has .35 of a quota more than is really necessary for twenty members. That shows a difference of .8 between the highest and lowest remainders practically unaccounted for, and brings about a condition- in which there are over 6,000 electors in each electorate in Victoria who are unable to secure any representation at all as compared with South Australia.
– Will the honorable member’s system obviate that?
– To a very great extent, and the reason I adopted this method was that it would reduce the inequalities and inaccuracies under the system adopted up to 1881. If the Federal Convention were sitting at the present time, and its members had the experience of fifteen years working of proportional representation in Tasmania, and of its operations in two elections in New South. Wales, they, as practical statesmen, would incorporate in the Constitution exactly the system I am- suggesting to-day.
– Under the proportional represenation which the honorable member is advocating, and which is in vogue in all other countries, the SUP- porters of one candidate in every electorate are absolutely disfranchised.
– That is not so. It has been shown on numerous occasions that where there are sixteen or twenty members to be elected, and the quota is high, more people must be disfranchised than when it is lower. The quota I am suggesting is the true one. The honor able member for Illawarra is not elected by the whole of the electors of Illawarra, but by only half the electors, plus one.
– And the electors who voted against me are absolutely disfranchised.
– This matter has received the attention, not only of mere amateurs, but also of experts,’ for over forty years, and they have decided that the system I am suggesting gives the fairest result, as can be seen from the table I have prepared. It shows the marked inequity that has occurred in connexion with the redistribution now before the House, the injustice that occurred at the last distribution, and also how much nearer to actual justice the system I propose will bring the whole proposition -
Honorable members -will observe that, under the Redistribution Act, there is a total difference between the highest and lowest population quotas of something like 6,000, and a total difference in the electoral quota of 3,600. Under the system which I suggest, and which, I. repeat, is universal in other countries and other British States, the variation in the number of people to each member is only 4,200, whilst the variation in the electoral quotas is only 1,600, as against .3,600. As in Victoria there are twenty members, we have, under the Representation Act scheme, a real difference between South Australia and Victoria of about 72,000 people who are disfranchised. Under my proposal, they would number only 32,000. Under the 1911 census, a similar condition of affairs obtained, and then the figures were more grossly inequitable than on the present occasion, for this reason: To-day New South Wales and Queensland almost approximate to the total number of units they are entitled to,’ but on the last occasion New South Wales was .25 short of the quota, whereas Victoria was 37 above the quota. There was a difference of something like 4,300 between the highest and the lowest population quotas. The electoral quotas showed a similar difference, the maximum variation being 3,600. If the system I advocate had been in operation in 1911, the difference would have been only about 1,400, and Victoria, though.it would have retained an extra member, would have still had an electoral quota of something like 1,000 more than that of any other State.
The method I advocate would not bring about any increase of members of this House to any greater degree than would be brought about by the continued use of the present system. The fact that the maximum number of members possible to be elected to the House of Representatives is to some degree elastic, although it is fixed as nearly as practicable at twice the number of senators, indicates that under the present method we may have seventysix members of the House of Representatives.
– Does the honorable member claim that, working on the basis of seventy-two members, we can have seventy-six members?
– I have shown that it is possible.
– Under the present formula, with two States each retaining five members ? * -
– Yes, under the present formula, because in arriving at the quota no attention is paid to the fact that two States must have a minimum of five members. The point is that, if all the States were up to the minimum of population as regards the quota, we would still be able to have a House of Representatives containing from seventy-one to seventy-three members on the present method of arriving at the quota. That is exactly what can be done by the adoption of the quota suggested by me. Roughly, there would be actually no difference in the result obtained. In ninety cases out of 100, under both methods, the result would be seventy-two members.
– Does the honorable member seek to equalize States which are under the quota?
– I am hoping to demonstrate a means whereby an equitable quota may be obtained, and to show that the method I suggest has obtained excellent results in practically all countries where it has been adopted. I also want to show that it . will correct those inequities which are recognised to be inevitable under the present system. The method of obtaining the quota I suggest, that is, by adding one to the number of members desired, to obtain the divisor, is the universal rule for obtaining a quota. Thus, if we wanted a quota for six members, we would divide by six plus one. If we wanted a quota for ten members, we would divide by ten plus one. In determining the quota for seventy-two members, the universal practice is to divide by seventy-two plus one.
– Where is there a seventy-two plus one quota elsewhere?
– That method is adopted in Tasmania, Kew South Wales, and South Africa.
– It is the recognised means of obtaining an equitable quota - what is regarded as the true quota.
– It is the true quota, and is universally recognised as such. It was adopted in Tasmania by the Honorable Inglis Clark, a very distinguished member of the early Federal Conventions, whose system, known as the
Hare-Clark, is still operating in that State. If he had had at the time of the Federal Convention the knowledge of the working of the system he subsequently gained, I have no doubt he would have proposed its inclusion in the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
By the method I suggest we would get a quota of 74,200, a much more equitable quota than can be arrived at under the present system as shown by the figures I have given. As to the results obtained regarding them from the point of view of the likelihood of the difference in the population of various States diminishing and the electoral quota, being diminished also, the equity of the method I suggest can be seen by looking at the remainders obtained after dividing the quota into the population of each State. It will be seen that, whereas there is fi difference of .8* under the present method between the various remainders, under my method the difference is justabout .6, covering to some degree the deficiency between the whole. That is the system in universal use throughout the British Empire. On the Continent of Europe other systems have been devised to bring about equitable quotas. They are two in number. Switzerland determines by actual arithmetical and mathematical experiment and .trial the quota which, being divided into the number of people in a particular electorate or State, will give the most equitable results. If applied to Australia this method would give a quota of between 74,300 and 74,500, and a return which would leave the remainders covered by a fraction of two-fifths or .4. In Belgium a system has been specially designed for use in cases where the number of members, plus one, is taken as the divisor.
– Does the honorable member say that in Belgium the number of members is used as the divisor?
– Yes, they frequently find that if they do nothing, but use the number of members as the divisor for ascertaining the quota the number of members that can be elected falls shortof the number required. For instance, if there are sixteen members to be elected as a result of applying this method, they can only get fourteen members elected, two short of the total number of seats to be filled. In order to overcome that difficulty they have adopted the following method. - They take each party’s numbers; if there are six parties and sixteen members to be elected, they put each party’s votes down one after another in a row and divide each number, first of all by one, then by two, then by three, then by four, and so on right down to sixteen, the full number of seats to be filled. Thus they get ninety-six sets of numbers, and from these ninety-six they take the sixteenth highest number and declare that to be the quota to determine who shall be elected. If there are 8,000 votes for one party, and the quota happens to be 1,600, that party will get five seats. If another party has 3,800 votes it will get two seats, and so on. That is the D’Hondt system. The Belgian electoral officers always go through a very complicated process to insure that the quota is equitable to all concerned, and I would be satisfied, as my motion suggests, with, an alteration of our Electoral Act to permit of the use of such an alternative quota, because all I am seeking is equity and justice and that fair deal to which each State is entitled. These were ends aimed at by the framers of our Constitution. The figures I have quoted show beyond question that the present system is capable of improvement, and it can be improved in a manner found useful in other countries. However, I have sought in my proposal to obviate the enormous arithmetical proposition which is followed in Belgium. I have tried it in respect of the population of Australia, but I could not have arrived at ‘any conclusion except for the assistance of my secretary, Mr. Fullerton. Neither of us would nave been able to come to any solution except for our practical knowledge of the working of the proportional system in the States. But if the system used ordinarily in elections held under the proportional system is burked at by the Attorney-General, I suggest a method by which we may use the basis of seventy-two all the time, and yet obtain an equitable, quota. It is a modification of the D’Hondt system, under which, if we so desired, we could divide, just as we do at present, the seventy-two members into the total population of the Commonwealth. That would give us the quota. We should then divide the number of members into the population of each State, which would give us the population quota for each electorate in each State. We should then find, however, as the table to which I have referred shows, that there was a wide disparity between the various States. To overcome that disparity my proposal is that we should take the total of the quotas of the four States which are not affected by the provisions for minimum representation, namely, 297,091 - Western Australia and Tasmania have nothing to do with the quota, since they come under the minimum provision - and divide that total by four. That would give us the average quota of 74,272, which is almost exactly the same quota as would be obtained by the adoption of the system first suggested, which is followed in New South Wales and Tasmania; and divided by the total number of members, plus one, to obtain an equitable quota.
– This would really operate in only four States.
– Yes. If the six States were up to the minimum we would divide by six and not by four. It is only because at the present time an equitable quota has to be struck from the four States actually using the system thatwe propose to divide by four. This is a very simple modification. I admit that it would not give us absolute accuracy, but it would to a very great extent modify the inaccuracies and errors that occur under the present system. In no circumstances can it be conceived that it would conflict with any constitutional provision, because the number we use all the time is that to which the Minister seems wedded - the number seventy-two. The Swiss system, as set out in a work by a professor whose name for the moment I cannot recall, is one under which by actual arithmetical calculations the number which gives the nearest approach to equity is ascertained. That is to say, there are three ways. There is, first of all, the ordinary accepted system of proportional representation, under which we would divide the number of people in Australia by the number of members to be elected, plus one. That is absolutely constitutional, since what we wish to determine is the quota necessary to return seventy-two members to the House. No further proof of its constitutionality need be given. In the second place, should the Minister have any doubt on that score - and I do not think if possible that he should, because one of the most eminent constitutional authorities in Australia has told me that he sees no constitutional difficulty in the way–
– No constitutional difficulty in “the way of the last proposal made by the honorable member?
– No constitutional difficulty in the way of the proportional system of dividing the total by seventy-two plus one. I discussed the matter not more than an hour ago in the parliamentary Library with the eminent constitutional authority to whom I have just referred. If there is any inclination to “ boggle “ at this proposal, then we say to the Minister, “Use your seventy-two, but use it in. a way that will give justice to every one concerned throughout Australia.” This is a matter which, sooner or later, must affect every State. At present, Victoria alone is affected. On the occasion of the next redistribution, New South Wales or South Australia, or perhaps both, may be affected. In any case, there is no reason why we should adhere to the old method simply because it happens to be old, and because some people are disinclined to shift unless they are forced to do so.
For the reasons I have given,, I have no hesitation in submitting the amendment of which I have given notice. I move -
That all the words after “ That “ be omitted, with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “consideration of the approval of the distribution of the several States into electoral divisions as proposed by the several Distribution Commissioners be postponed pending the Government bringing in a Bill to amend the Representation Act 1005 so as to provide either -
That for the purpose of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States the following procedure shall be followed: -
for the adoption of such other form of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States as shall (subject to the Constitution) insure the most equitable representation in proportion to their people.”
In conclusion, I would point out that the method proposed by me at the present time would affect only the State of Victoria. It would leave absolutely untouched the distribution of New South Wales, South Australia, and the other States ; but it is necessary that before any of the distribution schemes are passed, this matter, which is one of principle, shall be dealt with by the House. It would mean a different quota, but the fact that the other States are at the present time below the unit numbers which they have been allotted, and that Victoria is almost on the . 5 mark, which determines whether she shall go up to the next unit or not, explains why on this occasion Victoria would gain one member.
– She would gain under the method proposed by the honorable member the one member that she would lose under the present system.
– That is so. Under myproposal she would have the same number of representatives that she has at the present time. I would also like to make it perfectly clear that the carrying of my amendment would not in any way commit the House to a determination that the number of members of the House of Representatives shall be for all time seventy-six. It is quite possible, under the system proposed by me, for the number of members to be 74, 75, or 76, at the same time as three additional members are being given to Western “ Australia or Tasmania, and that when the number of people in both Tasmania and Western Aus- tralia is equal to the full quota of five, which they would obtain, the House should consist of from seventy-one to seventy-three members. The only point is that the difference between the highest and lowest population quotas and that between the highest and lowest electoral quotas in all the States would be very much smaller under this system than they are at present.
– The Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) has approached this matter in a very reasonable spirit, and has put his case clearly and temperately before the House. I am convinced, however, that a careful examination of, his proposals, and what their effect would be, will convince him that he should not press his amendment. Clearly, if the amendment is agreed to, it will mean the rejection of the whole scheme of redistribution of New South Wales, and will involve a fresh reference to the Commissioners.
-How is that?
– The Government in this motion ask the House to approve a scheme of redistribution of New South Wales. The Leader of the Country party, however, proposes to omit all the words after “ That “, and, in effect, to give a direction to the Government to bring down a Bill to amend ‘the Representation Act of 1905, and to substitute an entirely new method of ascertaining the population quota for Australia. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) will admit that my statement is correct.
– I do not.
– I appeal to the Leader of the Country party to say whether I am misinterpreting his proposal. He agrees that I am not. To give effect to the amendment it would be necessary, in the first place, to amend the law. That means that the scheme for the redistribution of New South Wales as now before the House must be rejected, that a fresh basis will have to be laid down, and the whole question of enumeration dealt with according to new principles. I want the House to know exactly what this amendment means.
– It would not affect one electorate in New South Wales.
– In the ultimate result, it may. The honorable member, by his amendment, in effect proposes to reject the scheme of redistribution, as made by the Commissioners, with a view to the introduction of an amending. Bill providing, as he claims, for a more equitable basis of distribution.
– I think that the Attorney-General is taking a purely technical objection to the amendment.
– That is not so. The amendment proposes an alteration of the law, and a further redistribution of New South Wales. I do not think the honorable member who has submitted it will say that my objection is a technical one’. He says that his first scheme, providing for a division of the total number of voters by the number of members in the House of Representatives, namely, seventy-two, plus one, is based on the principle of proportional representation, and that if we carry it out, we shall secure more equitable results than can be obtained under the system for which, the Representation Act makes provision. Let us examine the position. What is proportional representation? Take the case of a constituency returning three members, for which there are three- candidates, and in which there are 20,000 voters. The quota would be ascertained by dividing the total number of voters by three, plus one. To the number so obtained one must be added. There is a mathematical reason for the addition, because the quota so obtained represents the number of votes that absolutely insure a candidate’s election. It is impossible for three other candidates to be above or level with him, because the total number of voters is less than four times 5,001. A candidate, we will say, gets the required majority, 5,001 votes, but he happens to have a surplus. Under the system of proportional representation, the surplus votes are distributed, and the name of the lowest candidate on the poll is struck out, and his votes are distributed according to a certain proportion. What would the honorable member do under his scheme in such a case? Could he carry it to its logical conclusion ?
– It is something totally different from the ordinary scheme of proportional representation.
– That is so. There is no analogy at all. The one scheme is designed to secure a majority vote at an election, and the other to determine the number of members to be allotted to all the States of the Commonwealth. The honorable member would use his quota to determine the number of members. He does not propose to transfer population nor does he propose to distribute surplus population. He cannot base his scheme on any defined logical principle. It seems to me that his scheme, as a whole, is impracticable. It is utterly impossible of execution on a proper basis.
– That is a very remarkable statement in view of the actual result as worked out and explained to the House by me.
– It is not. The honorable member is contending for a system of proportional voting, and I have given him a sample illustration. Instead of carrying out the system, all he does is to take seventy-two, plus one, and he stops there. Seventy-two seats have to be filled. He adds one, but he does not carry on the whole process of proportional voting. He stops short and simply takes seventy-three instead of seventy-two, as the number to be divided into the population of the Commonwealth.
– On these figures, if one divides by seventy-four the same result is obtained.
– Of course. The bigger the divisor, the less the quota will be. The House sees clearly, therefore that the honorable member for Cowper would not be carrying out the system of proportional representation as established under the systems which he himself has quoted. I repeat that he takes, as a basis, the number seventy-two, and adds one. Why does he add one? Where is the logic of so doing? What i3 the principle behind such a process? He might add two, or three, or four, or five. By using seventythree as the divisor, he produces in the case of Victoria the result which he desires ( to achieve; but he does so purely accidentally. What principle does he employ? Why does he use one rather than two? Or why does he not subtract one?
– For the reason that the quota is already too high.
– The honorable member has not shown that it is too high. His argument is begging the whole question. As the population increases, of necessity, every year, the quota must increase.
– The AttorneyGeneral forgets that the whole system of proportional representation is based on the principle of securing, not a majority, but the fair representation of all parties in all the States.
– But the honorable member is not applying the principle. He has taken an arbitrary figure 1 and lias added it to seventy-two for the sole reason that it accidentally happens to suit his case. The honorable member uses seventytwo plus one because, he says, the quota is too high. In twenty years, when the population of this country shall have been doubled, perhaps, what principle would he then adopt?
– I would still use the total of seventy-two plus one. The Minister does not understand.
– Does the honorable member transfer population under this system ?
– No, but we use the remainder.
– The honorable member is only taking the first step in working out proportional representation. He stops at that step and abandons the rest of the principle.
– That is the only step necessary in order to arrive at a quota.
– A quota can be secured by adding two.
– You cannot get a quota that will give you, as nearly as practicable, the number seventy-two.
– By adding one purely fortuitously, and taking only the first step along the path of proportional representation, the honorable member gets a result which he desires. But on what principle does he employ the figure 11 The honorable member says he does so because the quota is too high. However, T have already gone over that ground, point by point.
Owing to the provision in the Representation Act whereby an additional number is allotted to a State for a remainder exceeding .5 of the quota, and no representation is given for any less remainder, it is possible with a divisor of 72 to obtain 70, 71, 72, 73, or 74 members. Seventy would be the result where five States had remainders just under .5 - say, 45 ; in which event the sixth State would necessarily have a remainder of .75. In this case there would be five remainders, each .45 of a quota; and one .75 of a quota; or a total of three quotas; for which, one member only would be allotted, and the total representation, thus, would be 70. On the other hand, if each of five States had a remainder of .55 - just sufficient to entitle the State to an additional member - and the sixth State had a remainder of .25, which, necessarily, in these circumstances it would have, there would be five members allotted in respect of the three quotas ; and the total number of members would be seventy-four. These examples are the extremes. In each case seventy-two would be the mean; and it has so happened, ever since the inception of the Commonwealth that seventy-two members have been allotted in respect of population. The Constitution provides that the number of persons chosen to represent the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. And we must take into consideration the respective numbers of all the States. When the honorable member’ for Cowper works out his sum in proportion, that becomes fundamental.
– I took into account the whole population of Australia in order to get my quota.
– We are bound by the terms of the Constitution; and, in any scheme for making calculations, we cannot take four States only, and work ip a quota from them.
– That was not done in my case until after the whole of the people of all the States had been taken originally.
– In working out the proportions, I repeat, one must take into consideration the population of the Commonwealth and the numbers of the people in each of the respective States.
– I have already done so.
– No; the honorable member has left out two States altogether.
I have demonstrated to the House two things, the first of which is that this addition of the figure 1 has been made without any regard for principle, so leading to a distinct violation of the Constitution.
– That is not correct.
– It is. In adding 1 there is no principle of guidance or logic. When we are trying to arrive at a quota of voters for electing a member by proportional representation there is a reason for adding 1.
– And the same reason is applicable here.
– No. At an election we are dealing with majorities and minorities; here we are dealing with the -basis of representation of the respective States.
T now nsk honorable members to examine the case of the honorable member for Cowper from another point of view. What is wrong with the present method? The honorable member finds fault with the existing system because, as he says, it produces inequitable results in Victoria.
– In one State.
– The honorable member says that, if we compare the quotas for the respective States, Victoria’s quota will be seen to be very much higher than that of New South Wales. Under the present system, the New South Wales quota is 74,991, while that of Victoria is 76,576. Therefore, the existing quota for New South Wales is 1,585 per division over and above that of Victoria. Thus, the honorable member says, there is inequality. But, even if the quota is changed, we still produce fractional results, which produce the same inequalities. For how long are we to carry on that process? We can never reach a point at which absolute equality is obtained. As we get further and further away we recede further and further from, the divisor of seventy-two.
I suggest now that the House consider,tile honorable member’s next proposition. He states that his scheme is a modification of the D’Hondt system. Humphreys, in his work, Proportional Representation, illustrates the working of the D’Hondt system, under which the voter was required to vote for certain party lists. In the example given, an election for five vacancies, the first list polls 8,000 votes, the second 7,500 votes, and the third 4,000. These are divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. The five highest of the resulting quotas are not calculated, the fifth highest being taken as the quota. This quota, divided into the total vote for each party and ignoring fractional remainders, gives the required number of five members apportioned among the different parties. I asked the officers to apply the D’Hondt system to the election of members for this Parliament, because I anticipated that it would work very much to the advantage of the larger States, and I found that it. would give New South Wales 29 members, Victoria 21, Queensland 10, South Australia 6, and so on, Tasmania, on this basis, getting only two members. The system, instead of producing absolutely mathematical accuracy, would be quite different, with the result that the, smaller States would suffer, while the larger States would materially benefit. At page 188, Humphreys says of the D’Hondt system -
The Belgian “rule works to the advantage of the largest party, a fact that many may consider as a point in its favour. At page 190-
The steady working of the D’Hondt rule in favour of the larger parties has, however, not escaped the -attention of the advocates of proportional representation.
– What I have suggested is a modification of that system.
– Very well, we shall see what - the honorable member’s .suggestion really means. In the first place, as the honorable member has worked it out, his scheme does not apply the D’Hondt rule at all, because it makes no use of lists and the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4. The second of the illustrations which the honorable member has submitted is based entirely on the elimination of the two smaller States in his final average. He accepts the provision in the Representation Act for the ascertainment of the total population quotas of the four big States, and having done that, he takes the sum of the quotas for the four States and divides it again by four to obtain another quota, thus getting an average of an average, and creating a most extraordinary position. His system does not represent the D’Hondt system in the remotest degree, and the only reason for its acceptance is that it accidentally produces a certain result. How far is the honorable member prepared to apply the principle? He objects to the present quota because it produces results unfavorable to Victoria. But carry his scheme a step further and you may produce a result unfavorable to New South Wales, or, perhaps, Queensland. He states in his memorandum -
It may, of course, he argued that one could go on obtaining quotas under this system until absolute accuracy were obtained by increasing the number of members, but being limited -by the Constitution to keep the total number of members ‘os nearly as practicable to 72, it seems reasonable that the average quota should be obtained at least once.
He realizes that if we are going to reach the ideal condition we shall have to depart from the provisions contained in the Constitution, but his scheme is not based upon any settled principle whatever. He simply makes an average of an average, and the results are purely accidental.
– It produces a much more equitable’ result than the present system.
– Ihave had the system worked out with shifting populations, and I find the results are purely accidental. If, for the sake of argument, we were to transfer 30,000 people from Victoria to New South Wales, the whole of the honorable member’s calculations would be completely upset. Any scheme, to be equitable, must be capable of universal application. The honorable member has not set up any such principle in either of the two cases he has mentioned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I propose to summarize briefly the objections to the amendment, so that honorable members may realize exactly the weaknesses of it. In the first place the honorable member bases his scheme on proportional representation, and I have pointed out that he does not carry out fully his own proposition. Therefore, his method is absolutely incomplete; it cannot be put into any scheme of representation as laid down in the Constitution, because it has no definite basis on any intelligible principle. The figure one is introduced in an arbitrary manner, and accidentally produces a. result which gives Victoria twenty-one seats. But the fatal constitutional objection to it is that it gives a mean total of seven ty -three seats instead of “as nearly as practicable “ seventy-two.
– We have two illustrations of the working out of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Cowper. Does the Attorney-General say that other illustrations will not produce different results?
– They must produce different results. Here is an illustration that has been worked out by the Department : Suppose that 30,000 people migrated from Victoria to New South Wales, and the divisor of seventy -three suggested by the honorable member for Cowper were applied, the result would be as follows: - New South Wales, with a population of 2,129,763 would have twenty-nine members, or one member to each 73,440 people; Victoria, having a population of 1,501,529, would have twenty members, or one member to each 75,076 people. The excess in Victoria over New South Wales under the honorable member’s system would be 1,636.
Therefore, by the mere migration of 30,000 people across the border, the whole basis of his figures is falsified, and the very result to which he takes exception is reproduced.
– How does that falsify my figures?
– The honorable member must see that in applying a mathematical principle every time the population factor alters, a. different result must be obtained. There is no method under the sun by which we can devise a formula that will give the same result with a varying population factor.
– The difference would be smaller under my system than if the divisor were the seventy-two which the Minister suggests.
– We could make the difference still smaller by making seventysix the divisor, bub we cannot get away from the seventy-two.
– That is the Minister’s opinion.
– Surely the honorable member can read the Constitution for himself.
– I have bad it read to me in the past hour by a professor of law who is a constitutional authority.
– I would like that constitutional authority to be present. ‘ Quick andGarran do not share his view.
– Who are Quick and Garran, anyhow?
– Sir John Quick and . Sir Robert Garran are two leading authorities on the Commonwealth Constitution. The honorable member knows that the Constitution requires the number of members of the House of Representatives to be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators, or seventy-two, and he cannot, for party political purposes, convert it into seventy-three.
– That is unworthy of the Minister.
– I repeat that statement. The number of members has to be worked out on the lines laid down in the Constitution and independent of party considerations. The honorable member’s system, when applied, produces exactly the same result in population variation as we get when we apply the number seventy-two, but because his divisor is the greater it yields a smaller quota.
– It gives a more equitable quota.
– If it did it would be only at the cost of departing from the constitutional basis.
– In regard to the supposititious migration of 30,000 people from Victoria to New South Wales, will the Minister explain the result which the proposed amendment would yield ?
– - It would produce exactly the same result as that yielded by the present system to which the honorable member for Cowper objects. Under the present system, the population quotas are- New South Wales, 74,991; Victoria, 76,576, or an excess in Victoria of 1,585 per division. Now, apply the method prescribed by the honorable member for Cowper and assume that there is a migration across the border of 30,000 people - when the Federal Capital is established 15,000 people will leave Victoria straightway - and the quota in New South Wales will be 73,440 and in Victoria 75,076, leaving an excess in Victoria of 1,636 per division. That is exactly the same result as that to which the honorable member objects when obtained under the present system, and it has a further disadvantage of being contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
– Because, instead of being as nearly as practicable seventytwo, it becomes nearly as practicable seventy-three.
– I take it that the Constitution means, as nearly as is practicable in order to give representation to the people.
– We must keep as close as possible to seventy-two.
– In quoting those figures, has the Minister taken into consideration the quotas of the whole of the other four States?
– I have shown that, under the so-called equitable system proposed by the Leader of the Country party, we get the same result - variation of population quotas. I have shown that his proposal does not follow out completely any system of proportional representation, and that if applied it produces results which, when they are the outcome of the system laid down in the Representation Act, he considers inequitable. I have shown also that the honorable member uses the basis of seventythree instead of the basis of seventy-two required by the Constitution.
Now let us take the other method adopted by the honorable member. It is equally open to condemnation. I have already shown that the honorable member does not attempt to apply the D’Hondt system fully, or even in part. I have further shown that, even if we applied the D’Hondt system in its entirety, we should take away representation from the smaller States and give it to the majority in the larger States. I have eminent authorities who believe in the proportional system of voting, and state that they cannot accept the D’Hondt system. I .ask honorable members now to follow me in order to see how the honorable member arrives at his second method.
He takes the figures worked out as they are laid down on the lines of the Representation Act - that is to say, he takes the six States and works out his figures exactly as they are worked out under that Act - and he arrives at the quota which the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth must get under the method laid down for his guidance. He adds the quotas of the four States, which amount to 297,091. The honorable member proceeds to eliminate the quotas of population of the smaller populated States of Tasmania and Western Australia, and averages the quotas of the four remaining larger States. In this way he produces what he calls his quota; but I defy him to point to any electoral system in the world that has attempted to solve the problem in the same way. In any case, the honorable member’s method does not mathematically produce results any different from those arrived at under the system at present in operation which he criticises. And when the honorable member takes the average of four States instead of six, he is departing from the fundamental provision of our legislation, which stipulates that the population of all the States must be taken into consideration in arriving at the quota.
– But there has K already been a departure from that principle by making allowance for a minimum representation in this House.
– No. The honorable member is aware that under the Representation Act the population of each of the States is taken into account.
– But the representation of Tasmania and Western Australia is not determined on a quota.
– The population of all the States must be taken into consideration in arriving at a quota.
– We have done that.
– Because the Constitution requires it, and the honorable member in one set of figures has taken the population of all the States into consideration ; but in order to obtain a result which accidentally brings out some feature in favour of his argument he has eliminated the population of two States and worked out his average quota on four States instead of six. His method cannot be justified on principle or upon grounds of expediency. In any case, in practice it would result in just the same anomalies as those he now criticises. In the circumstances, his amendment could not possibly be agreed to. Nothing has been proved to show that the method carried out under the existing law, which was settled by the Convention, after days and days of debate, is wrong.
– That Convention was held twenty-three years ago.
– The Mosaic law was established long ago, and the honorable member still obeys it, I trust. Age has nothing to do with the question. The point is whether the method adopted is right or wrong. If it is wrong, where is it wrong? To what State does it apply inequitably? As a matter of fact, it applies to the whole six States on an absolutely equal basis.
– It cannot be called equal when we find 60,000 people disfranchised.
– No one is disfranchised. It is a fundamental rule of the Federal Constitution that each State is represented in proportion to its population. If it should happen that one State falls behind the others in the matter of population, that fact should not prevent the other States from getting their just dues.
– Victoria has not fallen behind in population. During the ten years she has gained more than the whole population of Tasmania.
– But in proportion to the State of New South Wales, Victoria has fallen behind. In the framing of the Constitution it was foreseen that there would be a variation of populations in the different States. The time may come when Queensland will have the largest population, if it is not subdivided, and the greatest share of representation in this House. All of this was foreseen. Where is the inequity in the rule which provides that each State shall have a number of representatives in this House in proportion to the strength of its population ?
– That is all we are asking.
– But the honorable member is now seeking to override the operation of the law by a method which would produce inequalities just as great as those he now attempts to remove. We are all sorry that Victoria is losing part of its representation. In the Convention the representatives of Victoria foresaw what was likely to happen, and attempted to insert a clause in the Constitution providing that there should always be one member in this House for every 50,000 people. They foresaw that, relatively to the rest of the Commonwealth, Victoria would have a decrease in the number of representatives, and in order to maintain the representation of their State at a certain strength they submitted that proposal. I am not certain, but I think that the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) did make an attempt to fit it into his scheme.
– I would like to have such a provision, but it is impossible under the present Constitution.
– That is so. The Convention rejected that proposal. But what is wrong with the present scheme? ‘It works out equitably and follows out the rule adopted in the UnitedStates of America, that wherever there is a fraction over one-half an additional member is given.
– The United States of America increases its members according to the population.
– In the United States of America the position is quite different. The number of members can be increased every time it is deemed fit to do so. There the rule was one member to every 30,000 of population, but with the increase of population that basis became entirely out of date, and now it runs to hundreds of thousands.
– We should follow their example and change our numbers.
– Certainly; but under the Constitution we cannot change our numbers other than by methods set out in the Constitution itself.
Mr.Fenton. - The number of members of Congress has increased.
– Exactly; and we can increase the number of- members, of the House of Representatives and the Senate if we wish to do so, but must apply the two to one ratio. But even then we would still have the same problem which faces us now. When the number of members of Congress was fixed at 420, the problem was to distribute that number equitably among the States. It was the same problem as we have to-day, namely, how to distribute seventy-two members among the States, or if we cannot get seventy-two, a number as near to seventytwo as practicable. The rule laid down works out fairly and equitably to all the States; no preference is shown to one State over another. The method adopted may hit Victoria to-day; to-morrow it may hit South Australia, or some other State. The benefit of increased representation is given to the State entitled to it. The effect of accepting the honorable member’s amendment would be to reject the scheme of redistribution in New South Wales, and cause the whole matter to be gone over again. It would also necessitate an amendment of the Representation Act. I urge upon honorable members that no suggestion of a reasonable or practicable character has been put forward as a rule which could have universal application and would do justice to all the States, and in the circumstances I ask the House to stand by the existing law and agree to the motion which gives to New South Wales the representation in this House to which that State is entitled.
.- The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) has expressed his sympathy for Victoria. In this matter I do not want any particular sympathy for Victoria.. I leave it to members of the Ministry, who have a capacity for urging one view one day when they are out of the Ministry, and just the opposite another day when they are in the Ministry, to approach a ques tion of this nature on the basis of expediency rather than principle. I am not concerned as to how this distribution is going to affect Victoria. I have always tried, with a greater or less measure of success, to approach questions in this House, which is an Australian House, from an Australian rather than a local stand-point, and I venture to approach this question from precisely that point of view. In regard to representation, we have already embodied two matters of principle in the Constitution which offend against fundamental democratic, principles. One of these has regard to the equal representation of the States in the Senate. This was a matter of expediency which had to be resorted to in order to persuade those who had no conception of what the Federal spirit really was to accept the Federal compact. In order to establish the principle of Federation at all, the framers of the Constitution found it necessary to. impinge in a very serious manner upon a fundamental principle of representation.
– In order to protect minorities.
– The second House, or the House of review as it was to be, was constituted upon the basis of States - upon geographical principles, without regard to the rights of the electors as such. That, I say, was a violation of a fundamental democratic principle. In Victoria, at the present time, we are giving special advertisement to a very grave scandal, namely, the fact that small electorates with 5,000 or 6,000 inhabitants return representatives to the Legislative Assembly, of the State on precisely the same basis as 40,000 people return representatives in other electorates.
– Worse instances could be quoted.
– Yes, and they are only tolerated by a Government consisting of friends of the honorable member who makes the observation. This is not, as the Minister seemed to suggest, a matter of expediency at all. He cannot take refuge behind the fact that Parliament has delegateda certain amount of its power and authority to three Commissioners, whose office has been created and limited by this Parliament. It would be much more unjust if he should presume to take refuge behind the fact that, their work having been . accomplished, it will involve a considerable amount of trouble and delay if it has now to he reviewed. Representation on just lines is much too serious and important a matter to he made a plaything of party politics, or an instrument for expediency or convenience to be brought to the aid of a Government in trouble. I can suggest no reason for anxiety on the part of the Minister in this matter unless it be that he fears, as he may well do, the grave danger of an early and unlooked-for election.
I do not propose to debate this matter at length, because the Minister has succeeded rather in obscuring than in clarifying the issue by his very lengthy and involved address. I do not pretend to be expert in the details of any of the systems of proportional representation. I do pretend, however, to have a perfectly clear grasp of the principle that we should seek to have represented in this Chamber, as nearly as is practicable, the various peoples of the States. My only reason for supporting, as I intend to do, the amendment moved .by the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) is that, if agreed to, it will, at all. events, effect a very substantial improvement on the proposal submitted by the Minister. Because it will secure a nearer approach to ideal justice in the settlement of this matter, I have no hesitation in supporting it. I” should find myself in grave difficulty to comprehend how any man espousing and avowing the principles of Democracy could possibly be opposed to the amendment on any other ground than that of expediency. We are told that its acceptance will involve too much trouble and delay. We may offend the Commissioners, or may embarrass some of our friends in New South Wales, if we give effect to it. I do riot think it was becoming of the Minister to threaten any of my timorous friends representing New South Wales by his suggestion that if the amendment is accepted the whole scheme of distribution will have to go back into the melting pot. I propose to support the amendment as a matter of principle rather than of expediency.
The matter of principle is made clear by section 24 of the Constitution, which provides that-
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
The number of senators is. arbitrarily fixed at thirty-six, being six for each (State; and as it is provided that the membership of the House of Representatives shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators, it should be seventy-two. We cannot proceed ‘arbitrarily on these lines, because of a reason already referred to, namely, that we have fixed arbitrarily the minimum for the representation of the smaller States. They must he represented by not less than five members. Section 24 of the Constitution goes on to .provide -
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner : -
The manner of determination is then set out in the section. Honorable members will see that as to the number of members in the House of Representatives the framers of the Constitution were careful to say that they shall be “ as nearly as practicable” twice the number of members of the Senate. . That is a phrase of flexibility which permits of give and take to meet circumstances. What are the circumstances which that give-and-take phrase was designed to meet? The principle which it was designed to meet is that laid down in the second paragraph of section 24 of the Constitution, namely -
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. “ Shall be,” and rightly so, because, to do them justice, the gentlemen who framed the Constitution, so far as they saw and were permitted by the influences which operated against them, were guided by democratic principles. The main principle clearly is that the number of members shall” be determined “ in proportion to the respective numbers “ of the people in the several States, and the number is to be “ as nearly as practicable “ twice the number of the senators.
The Attorney-General has reversed the position for some reason best understood by himself. He has regarded the condition “ as nearly as practicable “ as inflexible and impenetrable, and has assumed the provision “ shall be in proportion 10 the respective numbers of their people “ to be flexible and changeable to accommodate itself to the other provision. One phrase is mandatory, the other is discretionary, in its incidence.
– He says that both provisions must be adhered to.
– I say that he quite reversed the proper order of things. The amendment and its details have been carefully worked out by the honorable member for Cowper. I feel disposed to commend the honorable member for making it clear that it is not merely theorizing, but a simple matter of arithmetic. Perhaps I should not say that it is simple, because that might seem to derogate from the exhausting labour which the honorable member must have put into his calculations. At all events, it is a matter of arithmetic, as he shows, and he has worked it out on well-known principles of proportional representation. He has established a quota, the adoption of which would not take away from the proper representation of New South Wales, and would secure to Victoria the same number of members that she has at present. I am not concerned with the relative claims of New South Wales and Victoria. I am not here to defend the honorable member for Cowper, or the Country party, in this matter. It is not a Country party matter. It is a matter upon which my honorable friends on this side, as the protagonists of Democracy and fair representation, should, if possible, be more concerned than the members of the Country party. The honorable member for Cowper has laid down principles under which we may retain the membership in the House of Representatives which Victoria now enjoys without doing injustice to any other State, and without any violation of any principle. The honorable member has been able to do so in accordance with the principle of proportional representation, which enables him to slightly vary - and this is a section of the Constitution which we -can vary by the simple process of legislation - the provisions of the Representation Act, as we are entitled to do.
Referring again to section 24, and the manner in which it provides for the determination of the number of members chosen in the several States in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, the section sets out -
A quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by twice the number of the Senators,
That is the provision which the honorable member for Cowper means to cure by means of legislation. He proposes, by reducing the measure of disparity which changes membership, to enable Victoria, as a practical illustration, to retain her present number of members. An honorable member asks what virtue there is in adding 1 to our divisor. There is virtue in it from two points of view.First of all, from the point of view that experience has shown that it will give us a juster measure of representation. But the best test of all is that, applying it to the figures now before us and working it out in detail, it enables us to secure representation on the basis of people quite apart from States. That is sufficient to commend it to me. It is for that reason I rose to say these few words in support of the amendment, for which I propose to give my vote. I hope it will be accepted.
I do not think it becoming that honorable members, the boundaries of whose electorates may possibly be disturbed by the proposal, should be threatened as I think they were by the Attorney-General. I do not think that the threat should have been uttered, because it was quite unworthy of the Minister, and of the very serious subject we are now considering. As a matter of fact, I think that the effect of the amendment on the distribution of divisions will on the whole be very slight. It would lead to the addition of another country electorate in Victoria. I am not now speaking for the party to which I belong, but as members of the Labour party, honorable members on this side of , the House are just as deeply concerned in seeing that the country is adequately represented in this chamber as they are in seeing that metropolitan areas are properly represented. We have a strong hope and conviction, supported by experience, that it might result in representation by a Labour member, and that we shall have, it may be, sadly, to bid adieu to some of the friends we have made in the Country party. While that may be so, none the less, if I may be permitted a Latin quotation, our motto is, “ Fiat justitia ruat cesium.”
– If the late Randolph Churchill, exChancellor of the Exchequer, had been here this afternoon, I am inclined to think he -would have said, as he did once before on an historic occasion, “ Damn these figures ! “ I must confess that I have been unable to follow closely “some of the inner arguments of the mover of the amendment (Dr. Earle Page), or the arguments of the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom), who is in charge of the motion ; but from the figures put before us - and I take it that they are admitted by both sides to be accurate - the amendment seems to offer a more equitable representation than do the proposals of the Government. The Attorney-General stated that if there occurred a migration of 30,000 people from Victoria to New South Wales, the formula discovered by- the Leader of the Country party to provide a more accurate representation would not apply; but I do not think he had regard to the fact that the quota for only four States has to be considered in this matter. It has been mentioned during the debate that should this amendment be .carried, and it be necessary for the Government to bring in a Bill to increase from seventy-five to seventy-six - the number of members of the House of Representatives, that would be a violation of the Constitution.
– Such a Bill would be unnecessary.
– At all events, the number of members of the House of Representatives in the next Parliament would have to be seventy-six instead of seventy-five.
– And in the succeeding Parliament the number would be only seventy-four.
– In the next Parliament the number of members of this House would be seventy-six. It may be that the Attorney-General looks upon the Constitution as sacrosanct in both the letter and the spirit. In another place a year or so ago I raised a question with regard to another constitutional point; but the Constitution on that occasion was not so regarded, and a slight alteration was made. I refer now, speaking from memory, to that section of the Constitution which makes it obligatory on the part of the Government of the day to have one session of the Parliament in every year. Honorable members will know that on that provision is based several of our Standing Orders which relate to what can and what cannot be done in a certain session of Parliament. In another place I raised the question of the Government of the day running over the same session from one year to the other. As a result of my raising that point the constitutional question was not settled, but the Standing Orders Committee, at all events, altered the Standing Orders so that they should not conflict with what, in my opinion, was a violation of the Constitution.
The way in which I shall vote upon this amendment will depend very largely upon whether my honorable friend who has submitted it can disprove the statement made by the Minister that if a migration of population as between State and State occurred, the formula suggested by him would not apply. I think the responsibility is upon the supporters of the amendment to answer that assertion.
– We would have exactly the same disproportionate results in such circumstances.
– I am inclined to think we should have exactly the same mathematical results.
– We could, by adjusting the population to the right figure.
– Under the proposal of the mover of the amendment, the disproportion of population as between the quotas of the various States in the year 1911 would come down from about 5,146 to 3,580, and in 1921 would fall from 3,600 to 1,480, and I want to know whether the Minister, even reckoning on any migration of population from one State to the other, can fault that. I may be wrong, but so far as I can follow it, the position is that the mover of the amendment has found us a formula that’ will bring down the disproportion of population to electorates as between State and State. If the Minister can disprove that formula by any migration of population, then my friend is wrong; if he cannot, he is right.
– It can be disproved. It can be shown that the disproportion is greater under the scheme provided for in the amendment than it is in the other case. It is just a matter of arranging the figures.
– I want now to refer to another matter which is not quite so complex or involved ‘as are the arguments we have had up to the present time. The question of the redistribution of New South Wales is also before the House. The Attorney-General stated that, should the amendment be carried, the redistribution scheme will automatically be sent back to the New South Wales Commissioners. I do not agree with the honorable gentleman on the technicality he raised, but, in any event, I shall vote for the scheme to be sent back. I now desire to give the reasons why, in my opinion, the scheme in some respects should be amended. A redistribution, I admit, is always difficult. The Commissioners cannot please every one, and any distribution may be, and, as a matter of fact, always is, criticised. As a member of this House, it is immaterial to me from a political point of view whether the scheme be sent back or not; but, in” voicing some objections to it, I am voicing practically the unanimous opinion of the whole of the local governing bodies concerned. I think I am also trying to uphold, in the objections I have to the scheme, definite principles laid down by the Electoral Act itself. I believe it is generally admitted that if we could, as between the Commonwealth and States, design such a redistribution as would bring nearer to us uniformity of State and Commonwealth electorates, and State rolls and Commonwealth rolls, it would be a good thing for the people of the Commonwealth, and1 save a considerable expenditure of public moneys. I believe that every redistribution should be guided along the lines I have suggested. In redistributing the Federal electorates in the three States of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, I understand that the subdivisional unit has been considered, so that there will be a minimum of complication as between State and Federal rolls. That being so, any shattering of these will not only mean new rolls and alterations, but will put uniformity further away from us. It is important also in redistribution schemes to keep municipal areas as far as possible intact. I shall point out in what- respect the scheme .for the redistribution in two electorates in New South Wales not only splits . municipalities, but shatters subdivisional units. I want to look particularly to that part of the redistribution that concerns the proposed new electorate of Martin and the new electorate of Parramatta. Every honorable member is more familiar with his own constituency than with any other. I do not wish in any way to tire the House by references to localities with which honorable members may not be familiar, but I would put it to the House that, in considering the whole ambit of redistribution, the several points I have mentioned have to be taken ‘into account.
It will be within the knowledge of honorable members that, under this scheme, New South Wales has an additional member, and that one electorate - the old electorate of Nepean, of which my honorable friend, Mr. Bowden, is now the representative, has been cut out. The net result of the cutting out of one of the old electorates, and the addition of one electorate in respect of the whole area of the State, is that we have practically to create two additional metropolitan electorates. -Section 19 of the Electoral Act provides that the Redistribution Commissioners shall be guided by certain principles. We have heard this afternoon, and again this evening, of the principles that should govern the determination of the number of members to be given to each State. Once that has been decided, we are told, and rightly told, that the redistribution itself shall be placed in the hands of independent Commissioners, who, in .turn, must be guided by the certain definite principles in our electoral law. The principles which, amongst others, must govern them in redistributing the States into Federal divisions are community or diversity of interests, means of communication, physical features, existing boundaries and divisions and subdivisions, and State electoral boundaries. What has been done in regard to the two electorates I have mentioned? The electorate of Martin has been formed out of one of the extra quotas for the metropolitan division and carried across the Parramatta River, which at the point mentioned is practically an arm of the sea. Some of the great western suburbs in Sydney have been linked with northern suburbs, while some of the northern suburbs have been cut out, and in doing this, .community of interest, means of communication, physical features, and all the provisions laid down in the electoral law to guide the Commissioners have been breached. When particulars of the scheme were first published in order to allow objections to be lodged, complaints against the new electorates of Martin and Parramatta came before the Commissioners thick and fast. The municipalities of Parramatta, Ryde, Hunter’s Hill, Eastwood, Ermington, and Rydalmere, and the shire of Kuringai on the northern side of- the Parramatta, lodged objections to the scheme, some of which varied in nature, hut all- concentrated upon the one point objecting to being linked up with areas south of the Parramatta River. The areas it is proposed to attach to districts north of the Parramatta River are the municipalities of Burwood and Concord. A representative from Drummoyne also opposed the scheme, and objections were lodged with the Commissioners because these districts were linked up with areas north of the Parramatta River. As a result of these objections, which were unanimous in favour of the division by the Parramatta River, a deputation, which I had the honour to introduce, waited upon the Commissioners. A further objection on the part of the municipality of Parramatta was that of being linked in a new electorate with districts that went as far south as Cronulla. A further objection came from Hornsby against being linked up with the southern portion, with which they had no means of communication and. no community of interest. ‘ At that deputation, to which I have referred, there was a delegate, a substitute, or an apology from every local governing body in the two new electorates concerned, and the deputationists laid their objections before the Commissioners in the direction I have mentioned. The mayor of Parramatta spoke first, and said the matter had been very fully discussed by the council, and very strong objections taken. Parramatta is an historic district that spreads out fan-like from the north, and it is proposed to link it up with areas as far south as Cronulla, with which there is no community of interest. Mr. Summerhayes, the mayor of Ryde, strongly objected to the position in which his municipality had been placed, and said that Ryde was an old and important town in the district, which was progressing in a remarkable manner. Another representative for Ryde Bald that the division of the two electorates I have mentioned runs right through the centre of their municipality. Alderman Swain and Councillor Fitzsimons, ex-president of the Kuringai Shire, all made objections which were, in effect, against the proposed linking up of their districts with the people of the western suburbs, and the proposed Federal constituency crossing the Parramatta River. Alderman Reid, from Burwood, which is a municipality in the western suburbs of Sydney, objected to the municipality being cut into three different sections under the scheme, and proved to the Commissioners that there was absolutely no community of interest between the district he represented and that north of the Parramatta River. Alderman Corry, mayor of Concord, indorsed his remarks, and Councillor Scott-Griffiths, of the Kuringai Shire, who has had some experience in redistribution in former years, submitted an alternative proposal to the Commissioners. . I believe that in dealing with a matter such as this, we should submit constructive as well as destructive criticism,’ because it is a difficult matter for the Commissioners to please every one. The Commissioners were good enough to supply me with an official copy of the records of the interview we had with them, and it appears that there would be no difficulty whatever in creating a new area south, of the Parramatta River which might be named Martin, and leaving intact that historic district which always has been, and probably always will be, connected with the town of Parramatta. Before the redistribution scheme was commenced, .the electorate of North Sydney and the one I have the honour to represent practically comprised three quotas of electors, or about 120,000, and why in the world we cannot have three electorates formed out of that area and the present complication avoided I cannot understand. The alternative proposal was to leave one quota on the northern side of the Parramatta, a large part of which would comprise the area served by the town of Parramatta, where the people do their banking, marketing, and find most of their amusement, and create a new electorate on the south side of the river, comprising the municipality of Drummoyne, portion of Burwood and Concord, rand the electorate of Martin could then comprise also the municipalities of Strathfield, Homebush, and Lidcombe, leaving the remainder for the new electorate of Granville, which would have no electors north of it, but would take in the whole of the remaining territory to be included in the south. The Commissioners say they have received and noted the objections, but have not seen fit to make any alterations in regard to the scheme. Apart ‘from the objections I have expressed to-night, the proposal divides the municipalities of Ryde, East.wood. and, I think, Hunter’s Hill. It affects also Ashfield, Burwood, Strathfield, Homebush, and the shires of Hornsby and Kuringai. It also shatters the present Federal subdivisions of Burwood, Gordon, Hunter’s Hill, Ryde, and the State subdivisions of Rossville, Burwood, and Croydon. In all, this scheme, so far as it concerns these two electorates, shatters seven Commonwealth and State subdivisions. I wish to put the position from the point of view of the local governing bodies, and I think some answer should be given to the arguments adduced, particularly in regard to the shattering of municipal boundaries and subdivisions and the total disregard to community of interests. If these proposals are not to be disposed of quickly, those relating to New South Wales and the two electorates mentioned in particular should? be returned to the Commissioners so that an effort, could be made to satisfy the local bodies, and prevent a shattering of the boundaries of so many municipalities and Commonwealth and State divisions. Honorable members naturally know more about the electorates they represent and the local interests involved. I am expecting to hear further objections voiced in respect of the New South Wales scheme. But I have considered it my own duty, in view of the unanimity of opinion expressed among the local governing bodies concerned, and in the light of the shattering of so many boundaries and areas, and also because of the simplicity with which the scheme can be readjusted, to place the whole situation in detail before the House. I hope that I shall have support in opposing the redistribu tion as proposed by the Commissioners for New South Wales.
.- The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) scarcely did himself justice to-day when he accused the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) of having introduced his amendment merely as a party move. The driving force behind the honorable member’s proposition is the desire that, as nearly as possible, there shall be dealt out even-handed justice throughout the constituencies over the whole of the Commonwealth. The Minister accused the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) of having used the system of proportional representation just as far as it would be of service to him in the furtherance of his arguments and, then, with having dropped it. The fact is that the honorable member employed the arguments furnished by that system for just as far as they apply to this question. The sole service of the system is to obtain a quota. The argument of the AttorneyGeneral that we should have gone further does not meet the situation. The purpose of the quota under the proportional representation system is to insure a proper proportion of parties, and it is ascertained on primary votes. The surplus votes are merely carried on from one candidate to another to place the various candidates in their proper positions. The second part of the proportional representation system has no bearing, therefore, upon the scheme presented by the honorable member for Cowper. All that is sought is that the proportional representation system shall be used in the fairest possible manner in order to obtain the right quota, so that there shall be as nearly as possible even representation of the various States, and of the different numbers of people throughout the States. Along those lines we shall have much more nearly correct representation than exists at present.
– But why adopt the proportional representation method of obtaining a quota?
– For the reason, that it is the fairest method we know of. It is the closest we can get to absolutely fair and equal representation.
The Attorney-General proceeded to say that the figures which the Leader of the Country party arrived at were the result of a mere accident. I would tell the Minister that they were reached as an outcome of three long calculations, which were produced each from a different angle. In every case they nearly coincide. They are mathematical propositions which have been most carefully worked out. They bring us more nearly to correct representation than would any other method. There have been three elections covering five electorates in Tasmania, and they all show that the system which the Leader of the Country party has put forward produces accurate results. The same has been proved in New . South Wales.
The Attorney-General asked what would happen if the numbers of the people increased. That would make no difference: the proportion would remain the same. Whether the total number were 5,000,000 or 50,000,000, the quota would be the same; the proportion would be the same, and the result would be similarly even, as nearly as possible, all over the Commonwealth.
The Attorney-General went on to condemn the proposal as being unconstitutional. The party to which I belong has had the best possible legal advice, to the effect that the proposition is constitutional. Lawyers will always differ; but we have been fortified by the opinion of the highest constitutional authority in this State. The Attorney-General held that our scheme was unconstitutional because we were taking the figure seventythree as the divisor, rather than seventytwo. We are doing nothing of the kind. We are employing seventy-two as being the correct number, and we are adding one unit extra, in order to provide that quota which is necessary to bring about an actual majority. The use of this extra unit does not mean more members. It literally means the addition of another unit in order to give the proportion which will secure the correct number of members in this House. But, even if we were actually trying to raise ‘the number - that is to say, the divisor - from seventytwo to seventy-three, instead of merely apparently doing so, that would not render our scheme unconstitutional. For it is laid down definitely that we are to have for our divisor, “ as nearly as practicable,” the number seventy -two. The men who framed the Constitution did not insert, in the verbiage of, the Constitution, the words “ as nearly as practicable,” the number seventy-two. The trouble might . arise.
– If you are going to use seventy-three as the divisor, merely to get a divisor, why not make it seventy-five?
– We must use one unit more than the actual number which we need.
– You simply want the seventy-three for a divisor. You can achieve the same results with seventyfive.
– The AttorneyGeneral clouded the whole issue, with a mass of verbiage which left honorable members dazed and gasping. I propose to quote an eminent authority upon the subject : -
The Hagenbach-Bischoff rule. like the D’Hondt rule, aims at finding an electoral quotient which will allow all the seats to be allotted to the different parties without remainder. In the former rule this is found by trial. The following example explains its mechanism: -
Suppose, in an election for sixteen seats, five lists have obtained votes as follows: -
The first quota is ascertained as prescribed in section 11. The numbers of votes is divided by one more than the number of vacancies, and the result is increased by one, thus: -
It will be observed that this quota is identical with the Droop quota of the single transferable vote system. The totals obtained by each list are divided by this quota, as many representatives being allotted to each list as the list contains the quota. Remainders are ignored -
Only fourteen out of sixteen seats have been allotted in this operation. It is obvious that the quota is too large, and a smaller quota is ascertained in the following way: The number of votes for each list is divided by one more than the number of members already assigned to such list, and the firstseat still to be disposed of is allotted to that list which has the largest quotient. The following table shows the process: -
The largest quotient is 1,384, and this figure, which is taken as the new quota, allows of the allotment of fifteen seats. There still remains one seat to be disposed of, and the process just described is again repeated, as shown in the following table: -
On this occasion all sixteen scats arc allotted, the final quota being 1,358.
One other criticism which the AttorneyGeneral offered was to the effect that the remaining States interfere with the arrangement which the honorable member for Cowper has outlined. Tasmania and Western Australia were given their definite allotment of representatives when the Constitution was framed. Two schemes were laid down therein. One was that if Western Australia came into the Federation that would make the number of representatives’ in this House seventy-five - which it is at present. The other was that if Western Australia did not come in the total would be seventytwo. The remarks of the Minister on this phase of the subject had no bearing other than to confuse the whole issue.
The final charge which the AttorneyGeneral advanced against the honorable member’s . proposal is that if 30,000 persons moved over from Victoria to New South Wales, that movement of population would upset the whole scheme. This is what would take place : If those 30,000 moved over, the. total of 74,991 in New South Wales under the present system would be the quotient. Under the system proposed by the honorable member for Cowper the quota would be 73,440. In Victoria the number would be 76,576, and in New South Wales 75,076. So, under this system, even with those 30,000 people moving across the border, we would get really nearer, to proper representation than under the old system.
– You would be further away.
– No. The difference between 75,576 and 75,076 is only 1,500. We would be 1,500 to the good.
– The honorable member’s figures are all wrong.
– They have been provided for me by a thoroughly reliable authority, but I cannot vouch for them personally. This is a very intricate subject. No one has yet had time to go into it fully; but I maintain that, by accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper, we shall arrive more nearly at true representation of all the different numbers of the people throughout the. Commonwealth than under the present system. Personally, while I would rather see the scheme of the Commissioners for New South Wales, as it has been already announced, come into force, I shall not allow my individual inclinations to stand in the way of trying to get fair play all round. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) dealt at some length with particulars concerning his own electorate. In Robertson it would suit me very much better, and it would suit the people there very much better, if the Commissioners had not cut off the area from the Hunter River up to the mountain range at Murrundi. They have taken out of its natural surroundings a large part of the country from Aberdeen to Murrundi, and the electorate now extends only from Aberdeen to Allendale, which is the bottom end of it in that direction. Under the present scheme, I think the Commissioners have made a mistake in cutting off the top end of the electorate and adding it on to New England, with which it has no community of interest. There is only one thing that should count in connexion with the re-distribution of seats, after getting a sufficient quota in the electorate. There is no question of municipal or shire boundaries, but there is one thing that should be borne in mind, and that is community of interest. If there is to be any change in New South Wales I would strongly urge that the portion of the Upper Hunter which is naturally in the Hunter Valley, and is naturally portion of the Robertson electorate, should be restored to that electorate.
.- I find myself in agreement with our friends of the Country party on this question. I commend the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) for the amount, of industry he has shown in preparing his table of figures. In the time at my disposal I have examined them, and I can see nothing wrong with them. They appear to be correct, but there is something more that appeals to me. They bring about what we should all aim at in connexion with this redistribution, namely, equity. I listened to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom) this afternoon when he insisted that the amendment would be a violation of the Constitution. I am not going to set up as a constitutional authority, but I will take his reasoning and examine it, use what we would, call common sense, and test what he has said. He said, “ It is against the Constitution because the Constitution lays down that as nearly as practicable the House of Representatives must have seventy-two members, which is twice the number in the Senate.” The words, “ as nearly, as practicable “ give us at least a margin under the Constitution. We find that it has been laid down that this House shall consist of seventyfive, and not seventy-two, members. We have therefore departed from the actual number of seventy-two. Increase that number to seventy-five, and it is quite constitutional, but if we increase it by one more, and make it seventy-six, we are told that it will be unconstitutional. That sums up, in my opinion, the whole constitutional argument of the Minister. If we get away from seventy-two by adding three, so as to make it seventy-five, it is quite constitutional, but if we make it seventysix it becomes all wrong, and the lawyers are going to have a fight about it. We were asked by the Attorney-General what principle underlay the amendment. I take it that right through the speech of the honorable member for Cowper was the principle of equity. I would ask honorable members oppositely who are opposed to him, to state what principle is guiding them in their opposition to it. What principle other than the principle of equity should operate in the redistribution of seats? If the redistribution should not be based on fair representation - that is to say representation not of territory but of people - then what principle should operate? The honorable member was twitted for adop-ting the formula of proportional representation, and with a view to throwing ridicule on him was asked why he did not carry it to its logical conclusion by allowing the surplusses, and so on. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) kept asking, “ Why do you adopt that principle - the principle of the adding of one? “ The answer, I think, is very simple. The principle is adopted because it has been ascertained by years of experience that it is the best means of arriving at an equitable quota.
– That is funny.
– Things that are a bit common sense do amuse the Minister. It is very easy for the Minister to laugh at what he does .not understand. If it has been proved that it is an equitable method of arriving at the quota under a system of proportional representation, then it is surely an equitable method of arriving at the quota in the present instance. I am not much concerned with the theories that are put forward, nor with the names of the systems adopted, whether they be French or Belgian names, or the names of individuals in Australia. What does appeal to me is the practical tests that have been applied to them. I have examined a number of practical tests that have been applied to the formula as laid down by the honorable member for Cowper. There are two tests that can be applied to the census taken in 1911 and to the census taken in 1921. If the formula of the honorable member for Cowper is applied to these, the results are as nearly equitable as can be got in practice, and more equitable than under the system in operation at the present time. Let us examine the methods in Tasmania. I have analyzed the figures for three elections, covering five electorates, and if we consider the representation that each group should get, we find that it is as nearly equitable as possible in the practical application of the principle. Seventeen tests have been applied in the practical working out of this principle, and in every case we get equitable results. Let us see what we get under the system which the honorable members supporting the Government are championing. Under the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Cowper we would get representation in equitable proportion to the number of people in each State, excepting, of course, the smaller States, which have to be given a minimum. In the four States of Australia in which we base the representation upon the population, the formula gives a just quota; but the old scheme under which we are working is unjust and inequitable. Let me. state the quota for the different States under the proposal brought down by the Government. For New South Wales the quota per member is 39,748; for Queensland, 39,171; for South Australia, 39,161; and for Victoria, 42,789. This means that as compared with New South Wales, Victoria will have 60,000 electors disfranchised, and, as compared- with South Australia and Queensland, she will have approximately 70,000 odd disfranchised. If Victoria gained another seat under this scheme we should still have something like 20,000 electors disfranchised, as compared with New South Wales; but the surplus of votes we have in Victoria, as compared with New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia, is sufficient to give us one seat and a half more. Under the amendment Victoria will get one seat more. If the principles of equity and justice are to guide us, then the scheme put forward by the honorable member for Cowper must be adopted. The AttorneyGeneral made a remark to-day, which was supported by interjection by the Minister for Defence, that if 30,000 people left Victoria and went to the Federal Capital, it would make the position very much worse under the scheme proposed in the amendment. It would make it very slightly worse, comparing Victoria with New South Wales.
– It would be fifty-one worse.
– That is so; but suppose we compare Victoria with Queensland, or with South Australia. The comparison is then infinitely better. The position under the present scheme is that Victoria is 5,800 worse off, as against South Australia, and under the new scheme, if the 30,000 people referred to had migrated, it would be 4,290 worse off. Even with the supposititious case which honorable members have put for ward to bolster up their argument, even when 30,000 people are supposed to have left Victoria for New South Wales, the proposed scheme will still work out more equitably than the existing scheme. If there were better representation in the State Parliament of Victoria the population would not be leaving Victoria for the other States. Many of the people of Victoria have left this .State and. gone to other States where Labour Governments were in power.
I beard the Attorney-General cracking the whip this afternoon. I want to make a protest against that sort of thing. There are surely some measures that come before this House that can be dealt with on their merits, without the cracking of party whips. I thought the redistribution of seats would not have meant a party measure requiring the cracking of whips to determine how members should vote. The Attorney-General said that if ohe amendment of the honorable member for Cowper was agreed to it would be necessary to re-adjust the whole scheme in New South Wales. That was cracking the whip over those New South Wake members who, are pleased with the result of the redistribution.. That statement by the Minister is technically true, but in practical application it is false. On the figures from the 1921 census, the amendment would make an alteration in only one State. If it is adopted the Electoral Act will have to be amended to get the formula in obtaining a quota that will be more just. It is true that the effect will be to give Victoria twenty-one seats instead of twenty.
– It would perhaps be more honest to introduce it in that form.
– Under the Constitution .we cannot introduce it in that form, and the Honorary Minister ought to know it. The amendment would work out equitably for all the States. It is not s proposal to get one more seat for Victoria It is a proposal to make the scheme equitable. It may work against Victoria or a future occasion. Will the Honor ar’ Minister (Mr. Hector Lamond) say that as worked out under the propose formula, the scheme is inequitable? Does he say that the proposal of the Govern ment is equitable? Does he say that thi redistribution of seats as provided for i: equitable ?
– I do.
– Then I am satisfied that the Honorary Minister does not understand the meaning of equity, or he has no sense of justice in his composition.
– That is very cheap.
– But it is true. When you find Victoria with twenty seats, as against twenty-eight in New South Wales and find us with a quota of 42,000, as against 39,000 in New South Wales, and 39,000 in the other two States, and when the Honorary Minister calls that an equitable -scheme, he shows that he does not understand the meaning of the word, or does not want to be just.
Let me return to the whip that was cracked over the heads of honorable members by the AttorneyGeneral. He said it would throw the whole of the redistribution scheme in New South Wales back upon the Commissioners, and I repeat that it will do nothing of the sort. It is true that it will alter the whole scheme with regard to getting the quota in each State, but the quota for New South Wales will work out the same as under the present system. There will still be twenty-eight members for that State, and, therefore, it will not be . necessary to alter its boundaries. The only alteration will be with respect to the State of Victoria; and, in view of the present position, the amendment will effect some good, because the redistribution of seats in Victoria is far from being equitable. I believe in representation being on the basis of population with a certain margin to go and come upon; and, although I represent a city division, I believe that the margin should always be in favour of country districts. But what do we find ? The present scheme is absolutely against the interests of the country. The Victorian divisions with the largest number of voters are Wannon and Ballarat. With the exception of Yarra and Melbourne, all the metropolitan divisions have a smaller number of electors than either Ballarat or Wannon, and the latter stands alone as being the largest in Victoria. I realize, of course, that we cannot have an equal number of voters in all the divisions. There must be a margin, and that margin should always work’ out in favour of country districts. Take Ballarat as an illustration of the unsatisfactory redistribution arrangement. At present, its voters are not grouped because of any community of interest at all. The boundaries of that division are dragged down almost to the outskirts of the city of Melbourne. I do not think that any redistribution will affect my own division, but on the grounds of equity and justice the scheme should certainly be revised. I deprecate very much the action of the Minister in cracking the whip over the heads’ of the New South Wales members this afternoon by declaring that if the amendment is carried the redistribution scheme in that State will have to go back to the .Commissioners. As the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has shown, the representation of New South Wales will remain as at present, but Victoria will have one mare member, and even then the Victorian quota will be higher than that of any other State. I appeal to the honorable members’ sense of justice, and ask their support for the amendment, not because it will benefit Victoria, but because of its equity.
Mr. PROWSE (Swan) [9.501. - I do not propose to go into the technicalities of the redistribution scheme and the amendment; but, as one who has given a great deal of time to the consideration of another important subject, namely, the unjust incidence of taxation, the amendment seeking to bring about justice in the matter of representation appeals to me. But, to my mind, it only takes the first’ step in justice and equity. It certainly gives a quota on which members can be elected, but another injustice that is more injurious to Australia is the quota determined upon for country as against the metropolitan divisions. I hope honorable members will take cognisance of community of interests in the matter of the representation sought to be effected in the Constitution, but which appears to have been totally ignored in this redistribution scheme. The Commissioners should have recognised the difficulty of representation as concerns rural areas, and the importance of the people who are raising the money upon which all the people live. It must be manifest to honorable members that the representation of people in city areas, and who have interests in common, is quite an easy matter, but that- it is totally different with country people, living, as in so many instances they do, many miles apart. In my own State, for instance, one member represents eleventwelfths of the entire area of the State, which produces approximately 50 per cent, of the wealth upon which all the people live. These are matters that were taken into consideration to a certain extent in the Constitution, hut which should he more fully recognised in any redistribution scheme. Something on the basis of 40 to 60 should be recognised.
.- Like the honorable member who preceded me (Mr. Prowse) I have no intention of entering upon any labyrinth of figures in connexion with this matter. I merely wish to say, with all respect to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom), that when he commenced his speech this afternoon he appeared to be very much confused, but when he had finished he was quite confounded. This, no doubt, was due to his extreme desire to impress honorable members supporting the Government that the scheme should be adopted as it left the hands of the Redistribution Commissioners. I should like to know what officer was responsible for the figures quoted by the Attorney-General to-night, for, while I recognise that departmental officials are not expected to give away what may be regarded as Ministerial secrets, honorable members, I understand, are entitled to approach the various heads of Departments for information. If, for instance, I want to be informed on financial questions, I have a right to approach the Secretary to the Treasury, and if I seek enlightenment about electoral matters, I may approach officials’ of that Department. _ On 16th June, 1921, as soon as I was made aware of the approximate population in the various States, and what would be the probable allocation of members in a redistribution scheme, I asked for certain information in this House. The following is the Hansard record: -
– Whilst I realize that the electoral provisions of the Constitution can be amended only by the people themselves, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, prior to the redistribution of seats in accordance with the new proportions of population in the different States, he will afford the House an opportunity of discussing what is known as the formula for ascertaining the quota, which is pronounced by experts to be altogether ineffective and inequitable. If that is done, I am certain the House will do no injustice to any State. All I am asking for is a fair deal for all the States, so that we may arrive at a formula that will be just to all concerned?
– In my simplicity, I was not aware that there was anything occult, complex, or extremely difficult in ascertaining the quota for the electorates throughout the Commonwealth. I should think there would be no trouble about that, -and I ask the honorable member to indicate where the difficulty lies.
– If the Acting Prime Minister will inquire of the experts in connexion with the Department or the Minister presiding over it, I think he will be told that there are some inequalities in the present system.
– I shall certainly ask my colleague to make inquiries at the earliest possible moment.
I confess that I did not follow the matter up ; but I have been in consultation with quite a number of honorable members, and particularly with the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), who, at present, is not in Australia, because, by reason of its geographical position, it was generally recognised that if Victoria was to lose a member, the Grampians division, being the weakest numerically, would be the first attacked. It may be said that the action now being taken by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) and those ‘supporting the amendment is an eleventh hour effort, but, seeing that I raised the issue twelve months ago, and that the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) promised that it would be inquired into, I do not know what else could have been done. As a matter of fact, I do not think that the Minister took the trouble to inquire whether the system of redistribution was inequitable or hot. In this matter I stand, with other honorable members supporting the amendment, for equity. While New South Wales is entitled to an extra member - and’ I have no desire to deprive that State” of its rights in the matter - 1 have been advised that the only way to secure justice and equity for Victoria is to increase the members of “ this House from 75 to 76, and I have been informed on the best , authority that there are no constitutional difficulties in the way. After the Minister’s apology for the scheme to-night, I am more firmly convinced than ever that the proposal outlined in the amendment is the solution of the difficulty. There are no constitutional difficulties in the way, and this Parliament has a perfect light to increase the number of members from seventy -five to seventy -six. What is happening to Victoria to-day will be the experience of South Australia in 1926, at the end of the ensuing quinquennial period. If South Australia is found to be under the half quota it will have to forfeit a member to the State that is in the position of being above the half quota. I do not think any honorable member can say that the present system of fixing the number of members is an equitable one.
I,agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that, if Victoria is to retain her extra member, the extra constituency should be formed from the present country constituencies. I am quite satisfied with the new boundaries, i would be perfectly content if the matter went back to the Commissioners, and they again altered the boundaries, because, given a proper formula, I believe the Commissioners would arrive at an even more equitable decision. It is only beating the air for the Minister to indulge in technical terms, and work out various mathematical problems. He may blind a certain number of members, but he cannot show that the present system is equitable. Although I represent a city constituency, I am quite prepared to say that there should be some difference between the representation in the cities and in the country. 1 believe in the principle of one vote one value; but, if there is to be any giving away, the more widely spread country constituencies should have the advantage. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has announced that this is not to be regarded as a party question. Nevertheless, the whip has been cracked even to-night, and the warning has been sounded that this matter is to be treated as vital. It is not a party question, and Ministers should not try to force down the throats of members a proposal that they know in their own hearts is inequitable. I hope the House will support the. amendment.
– The amendment appears to me to be based on premises that are entirely wrong. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), for some extraordinary reason, devised a new method of obtaining the quota. I have been trying to make up my mind why it is that he is so anxious to get a new divisor. Surely he is aware that the quotient under the proportional representation system is, in the final analysis, the total number of electors divided by the number of members to be elected^ plus one. That is done, of course, for a specific purpose. If that were not done we should not be able to get the proper number of members elected.
– The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) showed that you could only get fourteen elected under that system.
– The sole reason for adding the one is to get a majority. If we have 20,000 people voting in an election, and if we take the quota as 5,000, and there are four candidates, we may get four people elected. What is done under the proportional system of representation is to add one. As three candidates must have 5,001 votes, the fourth man cannot be elected.
– The Minister is labouring under a misunderstanding.
– The honorable member apparently thinks that, because the word “ quota” is used in connexion with proportional representation, and is also used in connexion with the redistribution of seats, it means one and the same thing. The whole argument of the honorable member is based on an entirely wrong assumption. He has stated that his system would give better results. It is perfectly clear, of course, that if we divide by seventy-three instead of by seventy-two, we get a closer approximation; but if we divided by seventy-four we would be nearer still, and if we divided by 100 we should be still closer. Applying his method with different figures—with 30,000 taken from Victoria and added to New South Wales - there would be a worse result than we get now. Under the honorable member’s proposition, there would be twenty-eight members for New South Wales, twentyone for Victoria, ten for Queensland, and seven for South Australia. This would give 74,991 people to each member in New South Wales, and 72,929 in Victoria, or a difference of 1,505 per member in favour of Victoria. If the population of Victoria were reduced to the extent of 30,000, and that number were added to
New South Wales, we should get twentynine members for New South Wales and twenty for Victoria, while there would be 73,44.0 people to each member in New South Wales, and 75,076 in Victoria, a difference per member of 1,636 against Victoria. No matter what system we adopt, where we have fractions, we must always have certain disproportions and inaccuracies. I think the Attorney-General, this afternoon, showed perfectly clearly that the honorable member’s scheme is quite unconstitutional. Whether we take seventy, seventy-two, seventy-three, or seventyfour as the divisor, the mean of the possible number of members we can get must always be the divisor. Inasmuch as the mean must always be the divisor, it is clear that, instead of getting as nearly as practicable seventy-two members, we must get as nearly as practicable seventy-three, if we make seventy-three the divisor. The honorable member’s scheme being unconstitutional, the amendment should undoubtedly be rejected.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 1
– The Honorable member must use his own discretion. The Speaker has no official knowledge of pairs.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
Division called for and bells rung.
– Am I not to be allowed to move my amendment?
– Before the division was called for, knowing that some honorable members had intimated their intention tomove amendments, I twice stated the question to the House, but no honorable member rose to move any amendment. Honorable members must watch for the opportunity to move their amend-, ments; it is no part of the duty of the Speaker to call upon them if they do not rise in their places to catch the Speaker’s eye. There has been a great deal of interruption and noise, and if honorable members will not obey the rules of the House they must blame themselves if confusion, arises and they become the victims of it. I have on many occasions drawn attention” to disorderly conduct and noise which make it impossible for the business of the House to be conducted as it should be. It makes the situation very difficult to deal with, because it is more or less general.
If, however, a mistake has occurred, and the House prefers that the division should be called off, I shall offer no objection, although such procedure is irregular.
Call for divisionwithdrawn.
.- I move: -
That the following words be added to the motion, “ and the name ‘ Eden-Monaro ‘ for 1 Monaro.’ “
It will be evident to every honorable member with a sense of fair play that there is no reason why the name of my electorate should be changed at the mere whim of the Commissioners.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following words be added to the motion, “ and the name ‘ Illawarra ‘ for Werriwa.’ ‘*
The name Illawarra stands for a great district, a great people, breeds of stock, and many other things. It is more than a name; it is a tradition. Illawarra is the garden of New South “Wales.
– We do not represent cattle; we represent people.
– I can hear the bellowing of some calves now. The name Werriwa stands for nothing. It is a coined word, and no one can tell me what it stands for. On the other hand, Illawarra stands for. a great race of people and a great breed of stock. Ask an Illawarra farmer where he comes from, and he proudly sticks up his chin and says, “ From Illawarra.” The district is as well known as Sydney. We have always had the electoral name of Illawarra. Why not retain it? The people in the district along the south coast of New South Wales are anxious that this should be done. They do not want to haveIllawarra deleted from the electoral map of Australia. The men of this district have pioneered many of the dairying portions of the Commonwealth. I could advance many reasons why my amendment should be carried. Some of the best known men in Australia, such as Sir Joseph Carruthers, Sir George Fuller, and Chief Justice Cullen, were born in Illawarra. As honorable members appear to be anxious to come to a vote, I need not advance further reasons for retaining the old name ofIllawarra.
– I second the motion. I think it would be a great pity if the historic name of Illawarra ceased to be associated with this Parliament.
.- I oppose the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), mainly because the people in that portion of the proposed new electorate which has the largest population have asked me to do so. I have received the following letter from the Chamber of Commerce, Goulburn, and from other representative bodies in that town: -
There is a movement to have the name of the Werriwa electorate changed to Illawarra. We have a decided objection to this.Over two-thirds of the new electorate will be coin, prised of the old electorate of Werriwa, and we fail to see why the small addition should seek to have it called after them.
If the honorable member considers that the name of Illawarra should be retained as an electorate of New South Wales I have no objection, but the very persons whom the honorable member mentioned as being anxious to perpetuate the name are not located in the proposed new division. The Illawarra breed of cattle, Sir George Fuller and others mentioned by the honorable member, are associated with the southern part of the old Illawarra electorate which has now been added to the division of Eden-Monaro. Places like Albion Park and Dapto have those traditions to which the honorable member has. referred, and they have been added to Eden-Monaro. That portion of Illawarra now embraced in Werriwa is the mining and industrial population. The famous cattle would not be included even if the name were changed to Illawarra. I see no reason why the new electorate for which the Honorary Minister (Mr. Hector Lamond) will stand should not be called Illawarra-. It would be most logical to give the name to that division, because it would comprise all the suburbs to the south of Sydney stretching along the Illawarra railway line. In fact, it would include the greater portion of the old Illawarra electorate now represented by the Honorary Minister. There are 22,000 of the voters of the old Illawarra division to be included in the new electorate for which the present member for Illawarra will seek election. - There are 22,000 of the old “Werriwa electors and two-thirds of the old Werriwa division in the new Werriwa division. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro says that Werriwa is a coined name, and stands for nothing. It is an aboriginal name, meaning “ deep water,” and has been the name of the electorate since Federation. I hope the House will not carry the amendment, but will stand by the recommendation made by the Commissioners.
– I support the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) in his opposition to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), whose proposal is about the strongest thing I have encountered since I came into this Parliament. The honorable member rightly proposed an alteration of the name of his own electorate, which will, no doubt, find support from the electors of the old and new EdenMonaro divisions, but he did not give one legitimate reason for his proposal to change the name of Werriwa to Illawarra. He did not produce one, line of communication from any of the electors in the new or old area in support of his proposal. He told us that there is an Illawarra breed of cattle. I do not know that any honorable member represents cattle, and I do not know why the fact that there is such a breed of cattle should be looked upon as an argument for naming a Commonwealth electoral division. The present member for Illawarra, the Honorary Minister (Mr. Hector Lamond) has said that it would be deplorable if the name Illawarra should disappear; but, if the amendment be carried, and the name of Illawarra is given to the new electorate of Werriwa, the Minister will take good care that he does not run for the district or endeavour to continue, his association with the electorate thus named Illawarra. There is only a narrow strip of country near the coast which has been taken out of the present existing Illawarra electorate and put into the proposed Werriwa electorate. The portion of Illawarra spoken of by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro as being the birthplace of that alleged illustrious statesman, Sir George Fuller, is not included in the new electorate. If the name Illawarra should be retained because Sir George Fuller happened to be ‘ born in the district, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro should ask that the last vote be rescinded in order that the name “ Illawarra “ may be substituted for that of ‘ Eden-Monaro. The portion of the Illawarra electorate* proposed to be included in the new electorate of Werriwa is a coal-mining and industrial centre, and is not the place Where Sir George Fuller was born, or a place noted for’ the Illawarra; breed of cattle. I hope that honorable members will view the amendment from a nonparty stand-point, and will vote against it. If the Assistant Minister (Mr. Hector Lamond) is desirous that the name Illawarra should be retained, he might urge, that the electorate for which he proposes to stand should be called by that name. No legitimate reason has been given for substituting the name “Illawarra” for “Werriwa” to describe the proposed new electorate of Werriwa, and it is unnecessary to retain the name, because it happens to be that of a certain .breed of cattle, or in order to perpetuate the memory of Sir George Fuller. I am satisfied that there are not half-a-dozen members who will be prepared to vote for the amendment, and I therefore hope that it will be quickly put. to the vote so that we may get on with other business.
– I have been rather surprised at the action taken by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman). As a * matter of courtesy to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), a change in the name of his electorate, if any were desired, might have been left to him. I supported the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in his last amendment, because I thought he had a perfect right to endeavour to retain the name of the electorate which he represents. I cannot agree with his present amendment proposing an alteration in the name of an electorate with which he is not connected, and, apparently, merely to suit some friends of his outside. I have yet to learn that the great majority of the electors included in the proposed new Werriwa electorate, namely, the Illawarra miners, are asking for any change in the name of the electorate. Only about 15,000 ©lectors have been transferred from the present electorate of Illawarra to the proposed Werriwa electorate. The municipalities concerned in the proposed new electorate of Werriwa have requested the honorable member for Werriwa to protest as vigorously as possible against the proposed change in the name of the electorate. These people have certainly as much right to consideration in the matter as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. It is true that Sir George Fuller and his people were in a portion of the district for a number of years, and practically made their wealth there; but the particular area with which Sir George Fuller is concerned is included in the boundaries, not of the proposed new Werriwa electorate, but of the new electorate of Eden-Monaro. Sir George Fuller might like to see the name “ Illawarra “ retained for family reasons; but the honorable member who moved the amendment advanced no reasons for the change he proposed. If, in connexion with all these proposals for the redistribution of electoral divisions, we are to have honorable members moving for au alteration of the names proposed for electorates, the settlement of this matter will be interminably delayed. This proposal for the distribution of New South Wales might have been disposed of twenty minutes ago were it not for the amendment now before the House. Speaking generally, I have a good opinion of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but I cannot approve of his action on this occasion.
– The honorable member knows that a majority of the present electors of Werriwa are Illawarra electors.
– I dispute that statement. The great majority of the electors of the present Werriwa electorate do not belong to Illawarra. There are 22,000 of the electors of the present Werriwa electorate included within the boundaries of the proposed new electorate, and only 15,000 electors of the present Illawarra electorate. If majorities are to rule, we have here 22,000 against 15,000, yet because certain people want a change of name, we are invited to agree that the views of 22,000 electors should give way to. those of 15,000. In fairness to the honorable member who represents Werriwa, and to the Commissioners, we are not justified in changing the name of. the proposed new Werriwa electorate in the way suggested. In view of the support given to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in carrying his first amendment on the voices, I now ask the honorable member to withdraw his present amendment in fairness to the honorable member particularly concerned, and to the majority of the electors of the proposed new Werriwa electorate.
.- I should like to see the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) withdraw his amendment. If any honorable member ventured to propose a change in the name of the constituency I have the honour to represent, I would feel very much concerned about it. The honorable member for Werriwa has read to the House a letter of protest from people in the constituency, and I intend, if we go to a division, to vote against the amendment. I hope, however, that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will 3ee .fit to give way to the representations which have been made in support of the retention of the old name.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) will see fit to withdraw his amendment.It strikes me that it is most discourteous for’ an honorable member to attempt to interfere with the name of another honorable member’s electorate. We on this side of the House have always been most courteous and considerate to the honorable member when he has required assistance for his constituency, and I think that, on this occasion, he might very well recede from the position taken up by him, and consider the claims of the honorable member now representing the constituency of Werriwa for the retention of the old name. Will the honorable member withdraw his amendment?
– No; I shall call for a division.
– Very well. I appeal to the good sense of the House to reject the amendment.
.- I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “and the name “” Sturt’ for ‘Darling’”
Honorable members are aware that under the proposed redistribution the name “ Barrier “ will disappear from the electoral map, while the bulk of the old Barrier electors will be included in the new electorate of Darling. The position, so far as the new electorate of Darling is concerned, is that it is 50 per cent. old Barrier and 33 per cent. old Darling, while the remaining 17 per cent. is made up of subdivisions of the electorates of Gwydir, Calare, . andRiverina.The name “ Darling “ has no real bearing upon the proposed new electorate. The only reason that the Commissioners could have had for applying it is that the River Darling waters a considerable portion of the electorate. The Darling, as honorable members are aware, takes its name from Governor Darling, whose memory is thus perpetuated. The honorable member who represents the present electorate of Darling can have no objection to the change of name unless it be one of sentiment because of his association with the old electorate. I want to make the new electorate neutral ground by substituting the name of the great Australian explorer who discovered the Darling and gave it the name of the then Governor of New SouthWales.
– The name of “ Sturt” is perpetuated to-day by its application to a magnificent street in Ballarat.
– I do not think that the application of the name to a mere side street in a relatively small town meets the requirement. I invite the honorable member (Mr. McGrath) to view this matter from a “ broad national standpoint.” I am not asking that the new electorate, which comprises 50 per cent. of the electors in the old division of Barrier, shall be re-named “Barrier”; I merely urge that the name of a famous explorer be substituted for that which has been chosen by the Commissioners.
– The honorable member desires that the present representatives of the divisions of Barrier and Darling shall start off scratch.
– The honorable member may take that view if he pleases. The change of name which I propose will confer no advantage on myself or on my possible opponent at the next election, the present representative of the electorate of Darling. I submit the amendment, and honorable members may please themselves whether or not they adopt my suggestion.
– I oppose the amendment for reasons which I think will be sufficiently strong to insure its rejection. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) seeks to perpetuate the name of “ Sturt,” the great Australian explorer, but the memory of that great man is already perpetuated in many ways. The name has been applied to many fine streets and to a beautiful Australian flower, while in various cities statues in remembrance ofSturt have been raised.
– The finest street in Australia - Sturt-street, Ballarat - is named after him.
– And last but not least the name is perpetuated by the State electorate of Sturt, which practically embraces the whole of the new electorate of Darling and comprises an enormous area of ‘ country. I do not know what more is needed to perpetuate the name of the great explorer. We have had the name “ Darling “ applied to a Federal electorate from the inception of the Commonwealth. The. River Darling practically runs right through this new electorate. The names of most of the great rivers of Australia have been applied . to Federal constituencies. We have, for instance, the divisions of Darling, Nepean, Cook, Hunter, Parramatta, Gwydir, Swan, and Yarra.
The gravest objection I have to the amendment is that the whole of the new electorate of Darling, with the exception of the subdivisions of Hay, Condobolin, and Walgett, is included within the State electorate of Sturt, and that to have a State and Federal electorate both bearing the same name and covering practically the same area would lead to great confusion. In the event of . the State and Federal elections being conducted about the same time, it is only natural to assume that there would be considerable confusion in the handling of ballot-boxes. On the claim cards the name Sturt would be confusing to the electors, and all the documents which necessarily pass -through the post in connexion with an election would necessarily be directed to the returning officer for the district of Sturt at a specified town, and further confusion would’ follow. In addition, an elector may have his name placed on the State roll for Sturt, and would, therefore, be under the impression that he was on the Commonwealth roll for the district bearing tho same name. I think it is the duty of Parliament to make the work of tho electors as easy as possible; but to name the district Sturt instead of Darling, as suggested by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), would lead to great confusion, and the proposal is one with which I do not think the House should agree. Broken Hill is the present centre of the State Sturt electorate, where tho returning officer is situated, and T anticipate that the Divisional Returning Officer for the proposed new electorate will also be stationed at Broken Hill. Such a condition would bring about confusion by having the two officers at the one centre, and, as I have mentioned, the confusion in regard to ballot-boxes and electoral printed matter would be .so great in effectively carrying out the provisions of the electoral law that I hope the House will retain the name Darling, which it has had for tho last twenty-one years.
– I intend to oppose’ the scheme submitted by the Commissioners for tho redistribution in the .State of New “South Wales, because after having given consideration to tho proposals as submitted to Parliament, I find that the Commissioners, in drawing up their scheme as far as certain electorates are concerned, and particularly the one I have the honor to represent, have not given due consideration to the community or diversity of interest, means of communication, physical features, and existing State and Federal boundaries. Considerable alterations have been made in my electorate. In the first place, the subdivision of Grenfell, which was taken from the old Werriwa electorate, has been added, as well as a portion of the old Werriwa electorate immediately adjoining Calare. The subdivision of Young has been placed in the Hume electorate, although, as far as community of interest is concerned, these subdivisions should be in “ the one electorate, as there is a community of interest between Young and Grenfell, and the subdivision has been made in an area which is practically the same in its interests. There is little community of interest between Grenfell and one portion of Calare, and any one can see by a brief glance at the plan, that in the Hume electorate, tho great portion of which is in the vicinity of the Victorian border, there cannot be any community of interest between that small section in the north, which takes in the Young subdivision, and which should be placed in the same electorate as Grenfell. I do not see why the subdivision of Young should not be in the Calare electorate, and if that subdivision is not included in Calare, the subdivision of Grenfell should not be, because there is a distinct community of interest between both places. On the northern portion of Calare electorate, the subdivision of Peak Hill and Dubbo has been taken from, the Darling electorate, and both of these subdivisions are either on ov adjacent to the main western railway line, which runs through Dubbo and Orange, where there are stock markets and principal centres of population. One cannot imagine why the distribution has been made in the manner submitted when there are no reasonable means of communication and community of interest between the Dubbo and Peak Hill subdivisions and the great bulk of the Gwydir electorate. The whole of the residents living in these subdivisions must travel through Calare electorate in order to go to Sydney, and they must also despatch their produce in the same direction. Their postal and telegraph communications and their supplies from Sydney pass through the districts named, and for these reasons the subdivisions should be within the Calare electorate. I am not discussing the proposals from a personal stand-point, because there is in the eastern portion of the present electorate the subdivision of Lucknow, the electors of which are opposed to Labour; but I suggest that that should be placed in the Calare electorate, because it is really a part of the district. For the reasons I have briefly outlined I trust the proposal will he rejected and the whole scheme. returned to New South Wales. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) directed attention to the confusion likely to be caused in the district which he represents, and I believe that if members give their unbiased opinions they must admitthat the Commissioners have unintentionally violated the terms of their commission, and have not taken into consideration those pointswhich are of vital interest, and which are clearly set out in the Electoral Act.
.- The proposed redistribution scheme in New South Wales is hotch-potch in character, and does not commend itself to me. In the electorate which I represent the local governing bodies have lodged a protest against the elimination of the Nepean electorate. As it is at present constituted, there is a community of interests which will have been altogether dispersed if the proposed scheme is adopted. The whole of the electorate at present is a fruit-growing and small farming community. The fruit-growing areas are proposed to be separated, however. Part of the electorate is to be tacked on to Robertson, which electorate extends so far as to take in Mudgee and Singleton. Those portions of the Hawkesbury district which have been so cut off from Nepean have no community of interest with Robertson. Still another piece is to be tacked on to Macquarie, while another is to’ help form the new electorate of Martin, and still another is proposed to be added to Werriwa. Naturally, the electors of Nepean are incensed with the Commissioners. Had the Commonwealth representative been better acquainted with the New South Wales districts the proposed redistribution would have been, of a far different character. It was unfortunate in this sense that Mr. McLaren, who has been in the electoral office ever since the Federation, should have been recently removed from his post to take up the secretaryship of the Department, and that Mr. Irwin, who is a first-class officer but who has had no previous knowledge of New South Wales, should have found the redistribution scheme his first big task upon his transfer to New South Wales from Tasmania. Had there been a representative with such knowledge of the conditions of the State as Mr. McLaren has shown in previous redistributions, the present scheme would have been very different. The new electorate of. Parramatta has been - described as a country constituency - an extrametropolitan area. It is no such thing. The majority of its residents axe metropolitan electors. The proposed plan of redistribution, instead of preserving the number of electorates, in the metropolitan area and in the country, has so altered matters that there are actually fourteen metropolitan and fourteen country electorates. The Commissioners say that they are making fifteen country and thirteen metropolitan’ electorates. Such is not the case. A far better distribution could havebeen planned. My constituents have protested as strongly ‘and earnestly as those represented by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten). If the proposition for New South Wales is sent back to the Commissioners something far more acceptable could be devised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.PRATTEN (Parramatta) [11.8]. - I desire to point out, Mr. Speaker, that when you declared the motion just previously under’ discussion agreed to on the voices, there were two “Noes.” The honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) and I had just spoken against the redistribution scheme in New South Wales, and we both called “ No” when the question was put from the Chair. It was my intention to call for a division.
– I point out to the honorable member for Parramatta that no division was called for, although some honorable members may have called “No.” When the question was put from the Chair, and I had announced the decision to be in the negative, no one challenged the decision. When the Speaker announces a decision, if a division is called for, the “Noes” or the “Ayes’’ call, as the case may be, again. It is too late now, however,- for the honorable member to suggest that he be given an opportunity to call for a division.
– The circumstances, I think, sir, are very similar to those wherein the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) was involved earlier in the evening. However, I must accept your ruling.
-Once a decision has been given it cannot bo retracted in the manner in which the honorable member would now desire. If honorable members will pay a little more attention to the rules of procedure and will converse less loudly - indeed, not at all - while importantdecisions are being announced from the Chair, confusion such as this will not arise. As a mutter of fact, there is no confusion in the present instance, or there should not be, in the mind of any honorable member. I clearly and fairly stated the decision. of the House uponthe motion under debate, so far as I could see and interpret it ; and it was not challenged. It cannot be challenged now.
– I am anxious to learn what business will come before the House to-morrow.I understand that the Standing Orders were suspended in order that the House might deal with the proposed electoral redistribution in Now South Wales. Then the House was to deal with the Washington Conference Treaties. I take it that honorable members will next proceed todiscuss the question of sugar. Can the Prime Minister indicate- the order of business for Friday!
– The first matter to receive the attention of honorable members tomorrow must be the Washington Conference Treaties: I have received a cablegram from London to-day pointing out that we are, apparently, the last to ratify the Treaties. That is a reflection upon us, because I am quite sure the whole Commonwealth Parliament approves of them. It is urgent that our formal approval shall be given forthwith. I did not notice that my colleague the Attorney-General had only placed one motion before the House’ in connexion with redistribution. I shall have to consider what we. are to do- to-morrow in regard to the matter, but it is clear that the Housewill have to address itself to the motions relating to the Washington Conference Treaties at the earliest possible moment.
– We agreed to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the Government to deal with, two things, and we are expecting to be given on opportunity to debate thesugar question. .
– All I can say now is that the motions of which my colleague has given notice are first in order on the business-paper, and that the only interpolationwill be in relation to the Treaties which I brought before the House yesterday.
– Will the debate on the sugar question follow the consideration of the Treaties?
– I have no objection to it following after the Washington Conference motions and the notices of motion relating to the redistribution of seats have been disposed of.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjournedat 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220727_reps_8_99/>.