8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 1) presented by Mr. Corser, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua, - Annual. Beport for the year 1920- 1921.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers wore presented, pursuant to Statute : -
High Court Procedure Act -Rule of Court - Rule re sitting - Dated 29th August, 1922.
Iron and Steel Bounty Act - Return (New South Wales) for 1921-22.
Shipping -Report on the operations of the Inter-State Central Committee (InterState Shipping).
.- by leave. - On behalf of the Opposition I desire to state that, owing to the feeling of uncertainty existing in the public mind as to the holding of an election this year, and this uncertainty having the tendency to unsettle business, if the Prime Minister will make the definite announcement that he intends to submit the proposals to amend the Constitution, as promised in the Governor-General’s Speech, and will say what other measures he wishes to be made law, we will place no unreasonable obstacle in the way of dealing with such legislation. In regard to the constitutional amendments, it would be necessary to deal with them at an early date,so as to comply with the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution, which provides that not less than two months must elapse after the passing of the proposed law by each House of the Parliament before it is submitted to the electors.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement that appears in this morning’s press to the effect that 226 wooden ships were sold in America for £700 apiece? If so, will he bring the fact under the notice of the honorable member for Dalley?
– My attention was drawn to the statement referred to. At the present exchange rate, the price at which these wooden ships were sold was about £660 a ship. It is with great pleasure I now bring the matter under the notice of the honorable member for Dalley.
– Will the . right honorable gentleman complete his information by telling me whether the vessels were sold secretly or by public tender?
– I believe that they were sold by what the honorable member would term a “ secret private arrangement,” to which the utmost publicity was given throughout the United States of America and the whole world.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received from the President of the Housewives Association, Mrs. Glen cross, a letter relating to a public meeting held in the Assembly Hall, Melbourne, on the 10 th July last, to protest against the renewal of the Sugar Agreement? As the meeting was held and the letter writtento influence the votes of members of this Parliament, will the right honorable gentleman, if he has received the letter, make it available to honorable members?
– I have received a letter from Mrs. Glencross conveying a copy of the resolution carried at the meeting referred to. Those present at the meeting were, as honorable members know well, our political opponents, and the re solution is of the kind that would be carried at such a meeting. I have pleasure in laying it on the table, to make it available to nonorable members.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the Prime Minister official information regarding the Australian newspaper articles derogatory of the administration of Nauru which were circulated by German agents before the Mandates Commission? Can he state the nature of those articles and the names of the newspapers in which they were published ?
– I have been in communication with the High Commissioner on the subject. The information we have received so far is not detailed enough to enable me to answer the question fully, but we gather that in the main the statements that were circulated before the Mandates Commission were reprints from the Age newspaper published in this city. I shall verify this, and ascertain whether excerpts from other newspapers were similarly circulated. It must be evident that the object of the person responsible for these statements was to injure Australia. It was a pro-German move, and naturally they went to the Age newspaper in order to secure circulation and sympathetic treatment.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Leafield Wireless Station is in direct communication with vessels trading on the Australian coast, and is distributing British press news, and will he make arrangements through the Amalgamated Wireless Company for the similar broadcasting of Australian press news for the information of steamers overseas.
– I am not aware of what now takes place, but I shall make inquiries, and see whether it can be arranged to broadcast Australian news in the manner suggested.
– Some days ago I directed a question to the Government respecting the report of the Director of Navigation (Captain Davis) upon the recently established radio station in the Willis Island group. Has the Prime Minister made himself acquainted with the details of that report; and if so, is he prepared to say whether the Government intend to give effect to the recommendations regarding the future maintenance of the station?
-I shall look into the matter to-day, and let the honorable member have an answer to-morrow.
– In view of the fact that Colonel Semmens is drawing two salaries and occupying two positions, I would like to be informed what action the Government intend ‘to take in this matter.
– I hope before long to secure the passage of a Bill which will enable the Government to terminate the present temporary arrangement.
– In well established districts where there are allowance post-offices which, however, do not bring in an amount of revenue that would justify the establishment of official postoffices, will the Postmaster-General’s Department consider the question of erecting small post-office buildings, in order to obviate the lack of proper accommodation in which the allowance officers often have to work?
– If the honorable member will give notice of his question the matter will receive attention.
– In connexion with the work which has been for long conducted by local repatriation bodies in such provincial centres as, for example, Bendigo and Ballarat, I understand that notice has been received to the effect that these committees are to be wound up. In view of the character of the work performed by many earnest and enthusiastic local people, I ask if the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) will not reconsider the intention to close such organizations?
– Repatriation Committees are under the control of the Minister for Repatriation. I will confer with him, and let the honorable member have a reply to-morrow.
Administration and Staffs
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
New South Wales, 366; Victoria, 331; South Australia, 75; Western Australia, 67; Tasmania, 38; Total, 1,082.*
War Service Homes. - Central, 48; Queensland,61; New South Wales, 173; Victoria, 70; South Australia, 0; Western Australia, 6; Tasmania, 19; Total, 377
Included in this number are architects, inspectors, and other members of the works staff, totalling 100, whose salaries are charged on a percentage basis to the cost of the homes built.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Tn view of the promise of the Prime Minister at the conference of fruit-growers held in Melbourne on 16th August last, thathe would let them know within a week whether there wouldbe a Fruit Pool for the coming season, will he inform the House as to what he proposes to do regarding this matter?
– The matter is at present receiving serious consideration at the hands of the Government, and it is hoped to be able to furnish the Parliamentwith information at an early date.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has received any request from the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland respectively, for the calling of a Constitutional Convention, for the purpose of considering the question of the subdivision of the larger States of Australia?
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Will he inform the House how many men are now employed at Canberra, and if reasonable efforts are being made so that the £450,000 voted for expenditure this year will be expended this year, and thus prevent any large carry-over, such as occurred last year?
– There are 613 workmen now employed in the Federal Capital Territory in connexion with the construction of the Capital. Of the £450,000 referred to bythe honorable member, about £65,000 is for acquisition of lands, maintenance of power, light, water, hospital, afforestation, railway, and other services, some of them revenueproducing. Of the balance, a considerable portion has been either paid or earmarked to meet liabilities under contracts entered into. Every effort is being made to suitably expend the rest of the money before the next vote is available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Does not section 50 of the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulation No. 281 clearly contemplate that an officer shall be the judge as to whether he is likely to be “ affected “ by a report or recommendation or action taken by the Public Service Commissioner?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I ask that this question be addressed to my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers), by whose Department the matter is administered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. No. Except -
Compensation to Officers
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Has any distinction been made as regards compensation to officers discharged from the Naval Works Branch in view of the fact that all officers employed therein were temporarily employed; and, if so, why?
– Yes. Approval has been given only for compensation to be paid to certain officers whose appointments were confirmed by the Minister when the Naval Works were transferred to the Works and Railways Department.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The administration of the Red Cross finances is a matter which is entirely outside the control of the Commonwealth Government.
Country Post-offices : Riverina Mails Conveyance.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he give the House any reasons why the Postal Department declines to display the names of country towns and localities upon country post-offices?
– The exhibition on a post-office building of the name of the locality in which it is situated is not a necessity in so far as the relations between the public and the Post Office are concerned. I am more concerned in providing additional post-offices in country districts than in incurring expenditure, with which this Department should not be saddled, in writing the names on existing buildings.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
– On the 8th September, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) inquired for certain particulars desired by him concerning repairs done to Commonwealth vessels. As some of the information is obtainable only from the head office of the Commonwealth Government Line, some time must naturally elapse before it is available. As soon as it comes to hand,I shall lay the information on the table.
Bill presented by Mr. Hector Lamond, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 13 th September (vide page 2200), on motion by Sir Granville Ryrie -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- The action of the Government in bringing down this Bill will, I think, meet with the approval of all members in the House. For a considerable time past there has been a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Northern Territory, because, whilst the residents are subject to taxation, they have been given no representation in this Parliament. The legislation which controls the Territory comprises Ordinances issued by the Government and gazetted, and some of them have provoked a good deal of ill-feeling. This was only to be expected, having regard to the fact that the residents prior to the Territory being transferred to the Commonwealth, had representation and a vote in the South Australian State Parliament. We can understand that the residents, as Britishers, resent bitterly, as we would do, being subject to taxation without representation.
– Would it not be better to attach the Territory to one of the existingState electorates?
– It cannot be done.
– As an illustration of the way in which the Territory is governed, I quote from Ordinance No. 13 of 1921-
– The Government removed some of the residents before there was a regulation.
– They appear to do as they like. That regulation is a serious invasion of the rights of British citizens. If residents in other parts of Australia fail to comply with the law they become subject to certain pains and penalties, but the Government do not deport them from the Commonwealth. The people of the Territory, however, are subject to a harsh regulation in regard to the framing of which they have had no voice. This Bill will confer a certain measure of relief, but it is deficient in as much as whilst conferring representation on the Northern Territory, it does not give the representative the right to vote. Of course, it will be urged that because the people in the Northern Territory are so few they should not have the right to vote. I agree that we should adhere as closely as possible to one vote one value, but the circumstances of the Northern Territory are exceptional, and it is impossible to place its residents in the same category as the people of any of the existing States. This Bill does not go far enough. What satisfaction will the people of the Territory derive from having representation without a vote? Their representative, apparently, is to enjoy all the privileges which other honorable members enjoy except that he may not vote on any question; whenever there is a division, even though it be on a matter concerning the Territory itself, he must leave the chamber.
– The Government propose to give him a gun, but no cartridges.
– Or, at any rate, only blank cartridges. The new member is to have the right to express the views of the people he represents, but he may not take any action to give effect to those views. Whilst in ordinary circumstances I would not approve of such a large disproportion in electoral numbers as there would be between the Northern Territory as a constituency and any of the existing electorates, I consider that the Territory is entitled to special consideration.Its people are far removed from the centre of any State. So far the Commonwealth has made very little advance in the development of the Territory, and I am hopeful that if the people there are allowed to elect a representative he will be able to assist the Government and the House in formulating a sound developmental policy. But he should have a vote, and I shall take action in Committee to test the feelings of honorable members in that regard. It would appear that the people in the Territory have been rather prejudiced by certain statements that have been made in this House. The Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie), who is in charge of the Bill, is one of those who have not done justice to the people of the Territory, and I remind honorable members of the following question and answer which appeared in Hansard of 21st April, 1921 : -
– Has the attention of the Assistant Minister for Defence been called to the statement in the newspapers that the Defence Department has paid £ 700 or more for the removal of two trees from an aeroplane ground at Darwin? Is the statement correct? If not, what work has been done for the money?
– I read the statement in the press, and knowing something of the so-called working men of Darwin, I was surprised that the smallest tree could be removed for the expenditure mentioned.
– A most indiscreet reply.
– It is a slur on the working men of the Northern Territory.
– The so-called working men of Darwin are the greatest Bolsheviks in Australia. I have no hesitation in saying that. In any case, they have no votes.
Now, the Minister brings forward a Bill which, by giving representation without the right to vote, follows up logically the statement I have just quoted. Are the assertions which have been made in defamation of the Territory justified? I have received many communications in denial ofal legat ions concerning conditions up there, and on various occasions I have brought them before the House. I refer honorable members to the different reports that have been made upon the Territory. Mr. Justice Ewing, as a Royal Commissioner, would not make statements that were unwarranted, and on page 16 of his report he said -
-time Minister for Home Affairs, stated that the people of the Northern Territory required “ a strong hand anda big boot.” No doubt a strong hand is essential, but it might be suggested that the phase should be a “ strong hand, justice, and a decency of treatment.”
That statement plainly shows that the people of the Northern Territory have not been receiving from the Government the treatment they had a right to expect. The annual report of the Acting Administrator (Mr. Staniforth Smith) for 1919-20 contains the following: -
Although two out of every three men in Darwin were unemployed on the closing’ of the meatworks, there was no rioting or disturbance of any kind. The Territory has been remarkably free from serious crime during the whole year.
This law-abiding attitude of the workers was, I believe, largely due to the Prime Minister’s pledge that the people of the Northern Territory would he granted representation in the Federal Parliament, after having had the parliamentary franchise taken from them since 1911.
I think the taunts that have been hurled at the workers here, by certain misinformed people, that they are variously Bolshevists, Independent Workers of the World, and Anarchists can be refuted by the record they hold that a larger percentage of men voluntarily enlisted for the Front than in any other part of Australia, that they subscribed more per capita to theRed Cross Fund, that they carried the conscription referenda on every occasion, and have erected a magnificent monument in Darwin to their fallen comrades.
These are the people who are described as Bolsheviks, Anarchists, and so forth by the Government in order to justify the Ordinances which have been brought into f orce from time to time. In another part the report says: -
It is an interesting reflection that while the various States of the Commonwealth during the last forty-six years have been covered with telegraph lines even to the most remote settlements, not one mile of line has been built by the Government in the Territory, and yet it can be said that no Public Service is more valuable and no other agency, for the expenditure incurred, is more stimulating to development.
Since we have taken over the Northern Territory nothing has been done to develop it, possibly owing to the absence of representation of the people in Parliament, and all the time we have heard taunts thrown at the people of the Territory, and have seen Ordinances enforced for the purpose of making their conditions practically unbearable. The wonder is that the people there have not kicked long ago, but have remained loyal to the laws the Government brought into) existence. Here is another statement from the Administrator’s report -
The Northern Territory is the last province of Australia to claim the toga of citizenship.
The promise of the Prime Minister of Australia that a Bill would be introduced to give the people of the Northern Territory a representative in the National Parliament was received throughout the Territory with tha keenest pleasure.
And hereis another -
For twenty years the people of the Northern Territory, thanks to South Australia, enjoyed the fullest franchise and could proudly claim both State and Federal representation.
On the 1st January, 1911, the Commonwealth assumed the control of the Territory and all citizenship and voting power was taken from them, and this condition has continued up to the present, although section 122 of the Commonwealth Constitution expressly provides that “The Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory surrendered by any State . . . and may allow the representation of . such Territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.”
A new era is dawning for the Territory; there is now a definite prospect of the early introduction of legislation to give the people of the Northern Territory a representativein the Federal Parliament, and this has given general satisfaction.
That report, as I have said, covers the 1919-20 period, and we are only now discussing a measure which purposes to give the people of the Northern Territory representation in this Parliament, although the person chosen to represent them is not to have a vote upon any matter affecting either his own people or the Commonwealth. It may be said that this Parliament has not the power to grant him a vote, but our power in that respect ia laid down in the Constitution. First of. all, section 122 provides -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any Territory placed by the
Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such Territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
The language of that provision is very clear. We can admit the representative of the Northern Territory on whatever terms we think fit to impose. Section 24 provides -
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 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: -
Of course the people of the Northern Territory cannot claim representation equal to that of any State, but they can certainly be given representation in proportion to their own numbers, although it is clear that it should not exceed one member of this House, seeing that the number of electors would not be anything approaching the quota required for the election of a member in any State. In time the population of the Territory may so increase as to enable more representatives to be sent to this Parliament. Section 27 of the Constitution says -
Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of the members of the House of Representatives.
The Constitution leaves no doubt upon the point; we can give to the person chosen to represent the Northern Territory a vote in this House. I do not know what the Honorary Minister will say in that regard.
– He has not said anything on that point.
– He was careful not to commit himself, but I submit that his proposals will not give satisfaction to the people of tlhe Northern Territory. Any well-governed people should have full representation in the Parliament of their country. But if the principle now proposed to be adopted is followed, in time to come we shall possibly have three or four members of this Parliament sitting here representing small States, but without the right to vote. Sir Granville Ryrie. - Does the honorable member contend that 1,700 people in the Northern Territory should have a voting power equal to 47,000 people in a State?
– But their circumstances are special.
– What about putting the representative of the Northern Territory in the Senate!
– The Senate would not agree to that.
– The objection to the honorable member’s proposal is that the Senate would be the wrong place for the representative of the Northern Territory. His place, as a representative of the people, should be in the people’s House.
– But in any case he would be of no use to any one without a vote.
– I am pleased that the honorable member takes that view, because I contend that if the representative of the Territory is to be admitted to this House, he should have a vote. He certainly will not be of much use without it.
– I do not think he would be of much use, personally, if he came here knowing that he would have no vote.
– Yes , I was just about to remark that it is almost an insult to ask a man to take part in the proceedings of this House and then walk out of the chamber when a division is about to be taken. If the Northern Territory people requested me to represent them under the. conditions laid down, I would not come here.
– What can the representative of the Northern Territory do if he has no vote?
– He can voice the grievances of the people of the Territory, and make representations to this Parliament.
– He can also scan the Ordinances put in force from time to time, but can do nothing to get them amended. If it comes to a. matter of equal voting when his vote might decide the form of certain Ordinances, he will have to get out of the chamber and allow the law to pass unaltered.
– The system seems to work all right in the American States.
– That may be, but the fundamental principle of British government is, as far as possible, to give representation and a vote - full representation. I do not regard the proposal before us as a satisfactory means of meeting the position, and I hope that in Committee the Minister will agree to amend the Bill in the direction, suggested. It cannot make any difference beyond, as I say, giving the people of the Territory that to which they are entitled. This is a special case, which we have to deal with on its merits. Unfortunately, the population is sparse, and unattached to any other State. When we took over the Territory those people lost their political rights; and we can well understand their dissatisfaction at having no representative in the Federal Parliament. No wonder they complain about being governed from Melbourne, for this is the kind of grievance that has caused wars in various parts of the world. There is great objection to being governed from distant centres where those who govern are ignorant of the conditions prevailing in the governed Territories. How many of us here are in a position to deal with questions concerning the Northern Territory ? Some of us have visited the place, but most of us have not.
– The same applies to Canberra.
– Canberra is accessible if wa desire to go there; but, as a matter of fact, members of Parliament are kept so busy that they consider themselves fortunate if they can get a week o* a fortnight’s holiday about Christmas time. My own opinion is that we ought to visit every part of the Commonwealth, and also the Mandated Territories; but, for the reason I have stated, that is impossible, much as we may desire to go. If a representative of the Territory is admitted here, he ought to possess the same rights as we do as representatives of the people in other parts of Australia. Such a main should either have a full voting power, or should not be here at all. As I have said, I regard the proposal placed before us as an insult to the people of the Territory. There are reports that they hail with satisfaction the promise of representation; but I am sure that, when they learn that it ia representation without the power of the vote, their indignation will be great.
– They know that there is no vote.
– I do not know whether, they know that or not. I understand that a gentleman has been selected as a delegate by the inhabitants of the Territory, and is now on his way here for the purpose of discussing matters . affecting their interests. At regular intervals I get wires and letters complaining of the condition of affairs there; and of the Government Ordinances; and I think I am safe in saying that the people will not be satisfied unless they have full representation with the power of the vote. I offer no opposition to the measure, and am pleased to see it introduced even at this belated hour. At the same time, I shall take the necessary steps to test the opinion of honorable members on the points I have raised when we reach the Committee stage.
– This is just one of those half measures which will do no good. For years I have urged that the whole principle on which we treat the Northern Territory is entirely wrong. We have created huge Government Departments there, and at one time I believe the public servants represented a large percentage of the entire population. The other day I read an interesting article by Mr. Cotton, who has had great experience in the Northern Territory, where, L believe, he owns cattle stations; and the suggestionhe makes is, I think, the correct one. It is that we should treat the Northern Territory exactly as we treat the rest of Australia, that is, instead of building up huge Departments with commissioners and inspectors, and a whole array of public servants, there should be a police magistrate, with a few policemen and a clerk, to conduct the public business. I have read the reports of Mr. Justice Ewing, and other Commissioners, and I can see nothing inherent in the Darwin population to call for the elaborate governmental machinery that has prevailed in the past. Mr. Justice Ewing’s report shows that he, at any rate, took a great deal of trouble to thoroughly understand the position there, and his opinion is one that ought to carry some weight here. Why should we not place the Northern Territory in one of the existing State electorates? I know it may be said that we have no power to do this under the Constitution, and though I am not quite prepared to accept that dictum, I shall for the time being take it for granted. Within a few months there will he a general election. What is to prevent the Government submitting a little clause by way of referendum to enable them, by an amendment of the Constitution, to place both Canberra and the Northern Territory in existing State electorates, and thus give the people the perfect representation that is enjoyed by the rest of Australia?
– What about New Guinea ?
– In New Guinea the white population is exceedingly small, and, in any case, that is a “ fence we oan jump “ when we come to it. For the first ten years of Federation the Northern Territory was included in one of the existing State electorates, and there was then none of the trouble we have since experienced. The people there could apply to their own member, and have their claims and grievances brought before the Federal Parliament, and, what is more important still, have their convictions and ideas tested by a vote. To have a Northern Territory representative here to voice the claims of his constituents, and when the time came for a decision of the issue, to declare that he should not exercise a vote seems to me absurd. After all, it is the vote that actually counts, and to ask this man to walk out of the chamber when a decision is being taken on some question in which he and his constituents were vitally interested, would be intolerable. The sooner we get rid of the idea that the Northern Territory is ai foreign country, and has to be treated in some special way, the better. There is an impression that we must send special Commissioners there, armed with drastic powers, but, as I have said, a police magistrate with a few policemen would be sufficient, as has been proved in other parts of Australia just as sparsely populated. In the far north of Queensland, and especially in the far north of Western Australia, where there are fewer people than in tie Territory, the government is good, and there are no complaints. That is simply because the people have their own, State member, and their own Federal member, to voice their claims. The time has come to face the position in regard to the Territory. The last report of the Administrator shows that in his opinion the great grievance is the lack of representation in the Federal Parliament; and I do not think that the so-called representation proposed in this measure will prove satisfactory. The representative of the Territory should have a vote or not be here at all, and for that reason I urge that the Northern Territory, and also Canberra, should be included in State electorates. The misgovernment of the Northern Territory and the excessive expenditure there are things not creditable to this Parliament, and the time has come when we must face the situation. The Bill, however, does not help us to do so. It is not enough to allow the people of the Territory to send a man here to ventilate their grievances and deny him the right to vote on any matter in which the Territory may be concerned. I urge the Minister to see if it is -not possible to put the Northern Territory again into the position which it occupied ten years ago, when it was part of a South Australian electorate, and was, therefore, represented in this Parliament. I do net think the people of any part of Australia will be satisfied to pay taxes unless they have an effective voice in the making of the laws by which they are governed. My suggestion is a practicable one. Ite adoption would satisfy the people of the Territory, and would do away with the need for special representation, which is always to be avoided. I think that under the Constitution we could give effect to my proposal, but should there be any doubt on that point, the Government could, at the next election, obtain from the people the power necessary to place the Federal Territories within Commonwealth electorates. As it stands, the Bill is one of those half measures which is doomed to failure.
.- I sincerely regret that the Government have brought in this measure. The last speaker and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) have complained that the residents in the Northern Territory and in the Federal Capital Territory are without representation here; but I ask them to look the facts in the face. There is not a -man on the other side of the Chamber who is not. al ways ready to represent the people of the Federal Capital Territory and to champion their cause when any question affecting their interests crops up here. The people of the Northern Territory are also well represented here. If a representative were sent here from the Northern Territory to voice the opinions of the people there, ihe would carry no weight, having no vote; and even with the right to vote he would he ineffective. At the present time, whenever a question concerning the Northern Territory arises, members on both sides champion, the cause of the people there in a manner in which no direct representative of the Territory could do. Northern Territory matters have been discussed here at great length, and whenever remedies for abuses have been suggested by the people there they have been adopted. I am entirely of the opinion that there should be no taxation without representation, and I think that if we wished to increase the population of the Territory we should abolish taxation there. In 1920-21, the revenue collected in the Territory from duties on alcoholic liquors was £10, and the revenue from duties on narcotics £47, the explanation being largely that the supplies of alcoholic liquors and narcotics paid duty in the south, whence they were imported. In 1917-18, these duties yielded nearly £14,000. I have taken a few figures from the Year-Booh, which show the revenue from the taxation of the Territory to be small, and it would be email per capita if distributed among the whole population, but, as a matter of fact, it is drawn from only a few persons.
– Would you remit the taxation of any rich man who might go to live in the Territory? If you did, you would make the Territory the Toorak of Australia.
– I would remit so much of his taxation as was leviable upon land held or income earned within the Territory. In 1920*21, the Customs and Excise revenue of the Northern Territory was £3,995,’ the territorial revenue, £18,846; the land and income taxation, £6,445; miscellaneous income, £12,849; lighthouse and light dues, £1,124; and stamp duties, £740 ; making a total of £42,999. I have not been able to obtain the land tax and income tax figures separately. In my opinion, we might well cease to tax necessary commodities in the Territory, though I would con tinue to impose duties on narcotic and alcoholic beverages.
– In New South Wales beer has been declared a necessary commodity.
– Narcotics and alcoholic beverages should be taxable, because otherwise they would be largely imported from outside.
– And a railway would have to be built to bring the stuff south.
– The territorial charges, if not wholly remitted, might at least be divided by two. The land and income taxation is collected from a very few individuals, the great bulk of the population of Darwin paying neither land nor income tax. Lighthouse and light dues are small, because few ships visit the Territory. These charges might very well be remitted. Honorable members opposite are doing all they can to attract population to Canberra, but I think that they will be disappointed, because if ever there was a wild-cat scheme introduced into this Parliament, the scheme for the settlment of Canberra is such. The honorable member ‘ for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) spoke of having met in Melbourne a gentleman who is largely interested in the Northern Territory, where he has a big property and big herds of cattle. The other day I met that gentleman in the Queen’s Hall, and asked him what he thought about the proposal to give representation to the Territory. His reply was, “For God’s sake, get it off your mind ! We do not want it. It would be_ of no use to us.” I pointed out to him that the representation the Territory now enjoys here is much more effective than that proposed by the Minister would be. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to my suggestion. The Bill, as it stands, is useless. We do not know the source from which it emanated, but the Minister, who is big-hearted, has probably responded to some appeal made to him. However, if he thinks the matter over he will be convinced that the Territory would be better off without direct representation than if it had a representative here who could not vote. A man who, after stating his opinions in this chamber, had to go beyond the bar when a division was called, would be in an ignominious position, which neither he nor those whom he represented would consider satisfactory.
.- It would not be unjust to classify the measure with a number of others designed to placate criticism in view of the early approach of the general election.
– Up in the Northern Territory? The honorable member should not talk rot. He waa speaking about “flapdoodle” only a minute or so ago. I advise him not to talk any more of it here.
– While, on the face of the Bill, there is some pretence to do justice to a long-suffering people, when the measure is submitted to examination the benefits likely to accrue to residents of the Northern Territory are found to be illusory. I am under no misapprehension concerning the possibilities of developing the Territory. We have heard a good deal in this Chamber regarding the conversion of our great northern tract into a veritable Garden of Eden. We have heard much about importing into the Territory a population quite out of proportion to the general population of the Commonwealth. I am not one of those who believe that we can set up, in the heart of Northern Australia, a population countented and prosperous, and designed to convert that Territory into another Garden of Eden, while, ‘ in fact, much more accessible parts of th’e Commonwealth are still untilled, and, therefore, unpopulated. We cannot proceed with the development of the Northern Territory in advance of the general development of Australia as a whole. But there is one fundamental matter to which we can and ought to direct our attention. We should secure, as far as legislation can secure, the happiness and comfort of the people who are already in the Terri.ritory. In order to achieve that, out first care should be to safeguard their fundamental rights, that is, to give them the right to state their grievances with the hope of having them redressed before the only tribunal which can adequately deal with them, namely, the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The story of the injustice of imposing taxation without representation is too old to require repetition. Here we have an area which forms a very considerable part of the whole of the Commonwealth Territory; an area which, if .1 remember rightly, comprises not les3 than 335,000,000 acres. We have in that Territory a. very scant population; but if we cannot take practical political measures to increase it, at least we should fight shy of anything calculated to drive out the small numbers already there. The Go vernment have now presented a proposal to give to the Territory representation in this Chamber. When I tell the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) that the proposition appears -to be ‘in some way part of the Government’s electioneering propaganda, he criticises my suggestion as being purely “flapdoodle.” These people, having no votes - as the Minister somewhat sarcastically remarked in this’ House on one occasion - they cannot possibly influence the policy of the Government! It is true that they have no votes, but it is> true also that the Government are not above telling the electors of the Commonwealth that they have settled the vexed question of the Northern Territory by according, to its residents representation in this Chamber. The Government, having promised representation, intend to make sure that, in the event of a close division in this Chamber upon any matter of Government policy, the balance of power shall not be disturbed by the entrance of a Northern Territory representative. I desire, however, that this representation shall be made effective; and the only means to that end lies in the right of the Territory’s representative to exercise the vote. I have always taken what may be regarded as rather an extreme view with reference to those persons upon whom the burdens of taxation and the necessity for obeying laws are imposed while they have not the enjoyment, at the same time, of the right to exercise their votes. I have even gone so far as to say, in connexion with the history of great struggles on the merits of this very principle, that I would not blame any person for committing any act of extravagant conduct, or misconduct, directed against a Government that withheld from that person the right to exercise his or her vote in connexion with the administration of the affairs of the country. In the circumstances, honorable members should embrace the present opportunity to extend voting power to the proposed representative of the Northern Territory.
The Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) has said that he foresees some constitutional difficulty in the matter. I acquit him of the suggestion that he has any personal knowledge. I attribute to him an absolutely virginal innocence of* the constitutional position. But I assume that somebody in authority, or possessing knowledge, or who ought to possess knowledge, has told him that there is a constitutional difficulty in the way of according the right to vote to the chosen (representative pf the Northern Territory.
– The honorable member is pleased to be very sarcastic.
– The Honorary Minister has not informed the House who or what is his authority. He has not argued the matter in any way, and honorable members, therefore, are left to speculate upon the grounds on which such an opinion, bare and barren as it is, has been founded. I need not again quote the terms of the Constitution, which, however, are perfectly clear in that they enable the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws giving a Territory representation, in this Parliament under such terms and conditions - including, I apprehend, the right to vote - as the Parliament may think fit. It appears to me that the framers of the Constitution sufficiently apprehended the justice of having our Territories represented here to influence them in making provision for that representation in the original draft of the Constitution. And they made such provision clear and definite. If there were any difficulty at all, I would have assumed that it would be a difficulty of securing the actual representation in this Chamber rather than in the direction of giving the selected representative a vote. However, there appears to me to be no difficulty whatever; but, if there is, it is “up to” the Honorary Minister to indicate where the difficulty lies. It will not suffice . for him to say that he has been informed that the Government cannot constitutionally grant the right to vote. To take such a stand is, I suggest, to use a much overworked phrase, pure camouflage on the part of the Honorary Minister.
I sympathize considerably with the residents of the Northern Territory for the reason that, not only have they had inflicted on them laws in the making of which they have had no voice, but because they have been saddled with laws by persons who are quite out of sympathy with the first principles of democratic government. At present, in the person of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), the people of the Territory are subservient practically to the lightest whim of an absentee militarist. Any one who is familiar with the history of our Crown colonies, with the agitations and quarrels arising from misgovernment, from the lack of government, or due to absentee government, must realize that this kind of thing - government by Ordinances in which the people of the Territory have no say, government by Ordinances which even the members of this Parliament have scarcely an opportunity to read or understand - is a direct invitation to the Territory to rebel, not necessarily by force of arms, but, at all events, by simmering antagonism to the Government. What do honorable members know of local conditions in the Territory? The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has well said that it is only on rare occasions that one or two members of Parliament are afforded opportunities to observe conditions firsthand. It is about ten years since I, in company with the Honorary Minister, among others, paid a visit to the Northern Territory; and I am bound to remark that I have a much better opinion of the Honorary Minister as a genial travelling companion than as a capable administrator of the Territory.
I have in my possession a long and interesting communication from a person who recently occupied a high position in the Northern Territory. I am not permitted at present to disclose his name, although I may be able to do so later. I am glad to be able to say, however, that he is a gentleman who left the Territory with an excellent name and record among the rank and file of its residents.
– The honorable member means that he was not deported?
– He was not deported, nor did he beat a strategic retreat at the critical moment. He came away, if not covered with glory, at any rate having earned the good-will of those among whom he carried on his important duties. In a painstaking manner he has analyzed the position existing in the Territory. He points out that one of the difficulties under which its people labour has to do with the Public Service. Public servants in the Territory are required to live under tropical conditions for many years without the possibility, or the means, of enjoying much-needed furlough in cooler climates. That undermines the health and stamina and destroys the good-will of the Service. He points out, too, that if some disgruntled person comes to Melbourne, and pours a tale of woe into the ear of the Minister, the probabilities are that the Minister will forthwith issue an Ordinance imposing the will of, perhaps, an eccentric upon the Territory, the Minister himself being totally ignorant of the actual conditions obtaining. When we have in this House a man who is distinctly representative of the Territory, responsible to all classes of people there, and dependent for his position, emoluments, and good name alike, upon every class, we shall not have any more of this one-sided and secret legislation. Legislation by Ordinance is just as objectionable - and that is saying a good deal - as legislation by means of regulations. There is hardly one member of this Parliament but will remember with shame and indignation what was done, especially during the war, by means of what were known as regulations, and although those regulations were required by Act of Parliament to be laid upon the table of the House, no opportunity was ever given to challenge or discuss them. The consequence was that the Hughes Ministry have earned a reputation for oblique government so unsavoury that it will probably take a good many decades to efface it from the minds of the people. The same kind of objection applies to the Ordinances. We are governing “the Territory in a hole-and-corner manner. We are not governing it in a way to win and increase the respect of the people in the Territory, or in such a way as to preserve order and goodwill amongst them. Neither are we making any serious attempt to safeguard the health of the people whom we send there to do the Commonwealth’s work. I do not wish to be over-harsh or critical of some of the people who were sent to the north to discharge important duties - reports of Commissions are on record which tell us something about them - but the undignified and humiliating flight of the late Acting Administrator and his chief judicial officer constituted a stigma upon the officers themselves and the Commonwealth as a whole. Such a condition of affairs never could have been reached if the Territory had been properly represented in this Chamber, and had been afforded a constitutional outlet for the pent-up feelings of its people. We shall never be able to deal with the questions of land settlement, and education, or the important matter of guarding the interests of the coloured race, unless we have intelligent representation of the Territory in this Parliament, and I ask the Government not to be constantly in dread of having a vote recorded against them. Give the representative of the Territory a vote. It is true that it is to some extent out of harmony with the views of my party and myself to say that 1,500 or 2,000 white people should have as much representation in this Chamber as is given to 40,000. That certainly is an anomaly, and it appears so to us as a party who believe in the application, as far as possible, of the principle of one vote, one value. But when we are confronted with two evils - on the one hand depriving the people of a fundamental right, and on the other hand creating an inequality, it is infinitely better to create the inequality than to violate a fundamental right. Therefore, I hope that when the Leader of the Opposition moves his projected amendment upon this Bill it will be sympathetically received. We do not stand to lose at all by a little over-generous treatment of the Northern Territory, especially when we remember that we are so deeply indebted to its people. By that I mean that we have doneso great and so long-sustained a wrong in depriving them of representation altogether, that even if they should be a little over-represented in the years immediately to come, that will but serve to balance the injustice of the past. I should like to have heard more from the Honorary Minister regarding the constitutional difficulties of which he spoke, and which neither the Leader of the Opposition nor I can at present appreciate. That constitutional difficulty being brushed away as non-existent, I hope that now we have begun to handle this problem - and we welcome this measure in any form as being at all events a basisof discussion upon which we may be ableto build an edifice of justice - the House, in its wisdom, will see that full justice is done to those people to whom justice has been so long denied. I do not think that anything less will satisfy the people of the Northern Territory. For instance, they would not be satisfied to be associated, as the honorable member for Franklin suggested, with some other State, even if the very real constitutional obstacles in the way of so doing could be overcome. To make them merely an appendage to any State of the Commonwealth would not satisfy them. They are entitled to be satisfied, and I do not think. that the honorable member’s suggestion would prove a wise solution. Nothing less than adequate representation - and I shall not be afraid if it is a little more than adequate - will satisfy the people of the Territory. Therefore, I hope that the Bill, with the essential amendment indicated by the Leader of the Opposition, will be carried.
.- In dealing with this question we should look a little further than the mere representation of the Northern Territory; we should frankly and fairly face the broader question of dealing withthe government of that Territory as a whole. Not merely so, but I think the time has come when we, having cumbered ourselves with other Territories, cannot make a special case of one; we must outline a policy of representation for all Territories controlled by the Commonwealth. I am no lawyer, but I understand that special cases make bad law. If in this case we allow our generosity to run away with our judgment we may have cause for regret when we come later to deal with the whole question of governing the Northern Territory and Papua and other waste parts of Australia, where, at the present time, there is no settlement worth speaking of. Although I agree with the remarks of the Honorary Minister and previous speakers that the Northern Territory is entitled to representation in this Parliament, in order that its wishes and requirements may be fully ventilated and understood, I do not think that the mere giving of such representation will prove a panacea for all the ills that have cropped up in the Territory. Those ills can, however, be remedied by some alteration of the present system of governing that area. The Honorary Minister has stated that there are constitutional objections to a vote being given to any person who may be elected to represent the Territory, but I do not think we shall get very far if we burke the issue in that way right at the very commencement. I do not think that there are constitutional grounds which prevent a vote being given to any representative of the Territory. My objection to the giving of a vote is based upon other grounds. Section 122 of the
Constitution provides for representation to be given to a Territory in any way that Parliament thinks fit.
– Why did the framers word the provision in that way if they meant the Territory to have full representation ?
– Section 122 reads -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of, and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation, of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
– Which means that such Territory shall not have full representation. The framers contemplated that the representation would be limited.
– This Parliament has the privilege of allowing representation to a Territory in either House to the extent and on the terms that it thinks fit. It is competent for Parliament to give the representative of the Territory a vote or to withhold it.
– The words “ to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit” show that the framers contemplated that the representation would not include the right to vote.
– This Parliament can do as it likes.
– Yes, and we can give the Territory ten members or one.
– To further confirm the opinion I have expressed, I refer honorable member’s to the following comment by Quick and Garran: -
A territorywhich has been surrendered to the Commonwealth by a State, or placed under the authority of the Commonwealth by the Queen, or been otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, may be allowed representation in either House of the Federal Parliament to the extent and on such terms as the Parliament thinks fit. The representation thus accorded is not representation as a State, but territorial representation. It may be allowed not only - as in the case of new States - “ to the extent “ which the Parliament thinks fit, but also “ on the terms which it thinks fit.” Apparently, therefore, the Parliament may not only fix the number of representatives for a territory, but determine - at least in some degree - the mode of representation. In the United States, there being no power to allow the territories to send members to Congress, the organized territories are nevertheless allowed to be represented in Congress by delegates who may speak but not’ vote. It would seem clear that under this Constitution the Parliament may, if it thinks fit, allow the representation of territories by delegates of the same kind who, although allowed to sit and speak in the Senate or the House of Representatives, would not be members of either House or entitled to vote therein. The Parliament may, however, under this section, allow a territory to be represented by actual members in either House; and in thai case no terms would be imposed inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution as to mode of election, tenure, and light to vote. The number of representatives which a territory may be allowed is, of course, absolutely in the discretion of Parliament.
That, I think, completely disposes of the question as to the standing that any such representative may have. That is a matter entirely for determination by this Parliament. The question arises as to whether it would be fair to the other members of this House, or even the Territory itself, for a member representing so few people as are in the Territory at the present time, to be allowed a vote which might make or unmake Ministries, and might easily have a very big effect upon the financial administration of the Commonwealth. In t,his regard it is well worth while seeing what has been the experience in the United States of America. We find that the Territories there have been divided into two classes - the organized and the unorganized. The latter are described as Territories governed from Washington, the seat of Government, and the organized are those which have a large degree of self-government. According to Ashley’s The American Federal State -
In what we may call the territorial, as distinguished from the colonial, government, we have a combination of self-government with control by the United States. The Legislature of two Houses is chosen by the people for a term of two years, and its sessions are biennial. The Legislature has almost as full power as the Legislatures of the States, subject, of course, to the negative of Congress. Each Territory chooses a delegate, who sits in the House of Representatives, and may speak on Bills affecting the Territory, though he has no vote. The people also elect all Judges, except the very highest, and all local officials.
– Can the representative of an unorganized Territory spaak only on Bills affecting his own Territory.
– That is what Ashley says. Representatives of these Territories can speak on Bills affecting the Territories they represent, but they have no vote.
– Is the honorable member quoting from a recent book?
– It is dated 1902. Of as much importance as the choice of a representative for the Northern Territory, and his right to a vote in this House, is the other question as to how the Territory should be governed - whether it is to continue in. its present unorganized condition, or whether it is to be organized. The experience of the British race throughout the ages has been that the best results are obtained when the British people have full local control of their own government; and, contemporaneously with the giving of representation to the Northern Territory, I would like to see the opportunity taken to properly organize the administrative control of the Territory in the hands of a local Council. I would not suggest that tha Council should’ be entirely elective. I think that the methods adopted in Australia before responsible government was given in full could readily be applied; that is to say, the Council should be partly nominee and partly elected. Take a Council of twelve. Six of the members of. that Council could be nominated by the Government of the day as representing various interests in the Territory and the other six could be chosen by the people of the Territory as a whole. The Administrator, of course, would be appointed by the Commonwealth Government. The Council should be given control of the revenue of the Territory, and should be told pretty firmly that it would have to carry on with that, and must not look to be spoon-fed, as the Territory has been so far., I am sure that, with this system in force. the development within the next few years would be much greater than we have hitherto had1.
– If they were confined to their own revenue that form of government would not live a year.
– The present land revenue of the Territory is £18,000. It was more five or six years ago, and I am sure it would he more again if more interest were taken in their conditions. The mining revenue is £2,500, although the value of metals has dropped from £80,000 in the previous year to £20,000. There are many other sources of revenue available. Plenty of States have started both here and in America with revenues not very much larger than that which would be available to the Council I propose to place in control of the Northern Territory, but in any case it would be better for the Commonwealth Parliament to make a special grant such as has been given to Tasmania, and to tell the people of the Northern Territory that a definite limit will be placed upon the granting of such assistance, or allow them to have their own Customs duties for a period as Western Australia had. The condition o£ affairs one finds in the Northern Territory under the present system of administration is very unsatisfactory. There is an absence of coordination. Three different Departments are responsible to three different capitals - one to Melbourne, one to Brisbane, and another to Adelaide. There is a lack of co-ordination between the territorial administration and other Departments which are responsible to outside heads in the various States. The lack of coordination is so great that vacant offices belonging to the territorial administration have not been made available to officers of other Departments desiring to utilize them for official purposes, and it has been found necessary for other buildings to be rented. When one medical officer went to Darwin he had to reside for several months ixa a galvanized iron structure although there were eight Government cottages empty at the time. Ultimately, when he got into one of those cottages he was charged £120 per annum as rent, whereas if he had been a Territorial officer his rent would not have exceeded £80 per annum. Although there are only thirty-two vessels in and out of Port Darwin each year, there is a port health officer as well as a Government medical officer to attend to the boats. One man may have practically nothing to do for two or three weeks in each month. Ordinances have been prepared in Melbourne which are totally unsuited for the district. This condition of affairs is of no use to the Commonwealth or to the Territory itself, and the time is ripe, not only for the people of that part of Australia to have representation in this House, but also for a simultaneous organization of this Territory and all other Territories of the Commonwealth, so that we may be able to secure the best possible local selfgovernment and the mobilization of that capacity for public service which is avail able but is now lying in disuse. Seeing that all that is asked for in this Bill is that the representative of the Northern Territory should have a voice in the Commonwealth Parliament, my view is that his voice should be heard, not in the House of Representatives, but in the Senate.
.- I indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), particularly in regard to’ his proposal for the establishment of self-government in the Northern Territory, but I regret what has been said by the honorable members for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) and Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams). The latter honorable, member said that the position of a member of this House with a voice but no vote would be intolerable. The position of the Northern Territory at present through having no representation in this Parliament is infinitely more intolerable.
– How would the representatives of Tasmania like to have a voice in this Parliament, but no vote?
– The positions are not comparable.
– In the matter of population the people of Tasmania have not a great deal of advantage over the people of the Northern Territory.
– We have 213,000 people in Tasmania, whereas the population of the Northern Territory is about 3,000. In any case, Tasmania came into the Federation as an original State, with its representation laid down in the Constitution. That Act does not provide that the people of any Territory subsequently created or given representation in ‘ this House shall have a vote until the number of its population reaches the proper quota.
– It is purely a matter for this Parliament.
– No ; the matter has been clearly explained by the Honorary Minister in charge of the Bill. Unless the Constitution is amended the member representing the people of the Northern Territory cannot exercise a vote in this House.
The honorable member for Herbert has quoted figures to show that the taxation collected in the Northern Territory is very small; but his comparison is most unfair, because most of the big pastoral companies operating in the Territory pay their income tax in Brisbane and Sydney, and a number pay it in South Australia. There is a member of the Senate who in the year 1919 paid £8,000 in income tax, upon one pastoral property situated in the Northern Territory, and that amount was not paid into the revenue at Darwin. The same remark applies to the Customs and Excise collections on the commodities consumed by the people of the Northern Territory. Consequently, it is unfair to regard the revenue receipts at Darwin itself as a reflex of the actual amount of taxation derived by the Commonwealth Treasury from the people of the Territory.
– The larger the amount collected, the more it supports my argument; because I seek to have the taxation remitted.
– The remission of taxation will not prove a panacea for the ills from which the people of the Territory are suffering. The real point is the policy of development; but that matter is not now under discussion. The Bill may not go as far as I would like, or as far as the people affected would like, but it goes practically all the way. The only method by which these people can get their cause championed at the present time is to write letters to members of this Parliament. By every mail from Darwin I get letters from people asking me to do something to remedy anomalies in the postal service, and so forth. It should be the duty of a member representing the district to look after these matters, and I am pleased to see that one clause of the Bill stipulates that the person elected to represent the Territory must be a resident of the Territory. It seems to me a preposterous proposal to suggest that an area which covers 500,000 square miles should be tacked on to an existing State electorate. I believe that I have spoken to more people who have lived, and who are living, in the Northern Territory than has any other member of this House, and I can say confidently that the provisions of this Bill will be generally acceptable to them. The question of according a vote will come along later, when the representative comes down to the House; but, on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, I should imagine that the situation will be met by having a representative, even although he may have no vote. In regard to the proposal that the people in outlying parts should vote by post, seeing that the mails are brought in from some outlying districts not more than once in six weeks, and as it is possible that election returns may not be got in under seven or eight weeks, it may be necessary to extend the time allowed for the reception of postal votes. A remark waa made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) about the right to vote possessed by a person who pays taxation. I remind the honorable member that he is not blameless, seeing that he is a member of the party which at one time struck off the statute-book the legislation which gave the right of postal voting. It will be seen, therefore, that there are disabilities that have obtained in the southern populated portions of this country as well as in the Territory.
– Surely there is a difference between regulating voting and depriving people of the right to vote.
– People are deprived of a vote if they cannot attend a polling booth, and are at the same time denied the right to vote by post. I shall vote for the Bill, and hope it will be passed without delay.
.- I am pleased that this Bill has been introduced, for I regard it as a step in the right’ direction. At the same time, it is not a complete measure, inasmuch as it does not give the prospective representative all the rights that are enjoyed by other members of this Parliament. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) seems to be “out of his stride” to-day. He says that we are all prepared to advocate the rights of the people of the Northern Territory and the Federal Territory. This reminds me of the old battle for1 the franchise, when those who possessed votes could not see why those who did not should worry,- because those with votes were able and willing to represent them. I am afraid that the honorable member has been carried back fifty or sixty years, if we may judge by the argument he uses. We are not here representing the Northern Territory, and the people there desire direct representation. They are on the outposts of the Commonwealth, and are doing valuable pioneering work in that part of the country, and under the circumstances they are entitled to every advantage that we can give them. It is to pur interests to induce as many people as possible to make their homes in the distant parts of the Commonwealth, and the best way to attain that end is to give them all full citizen rights and privileges. Some comment has been- made on the small number of people to be represented, but I notice that at the first Federal election a senator for Tasmania was elected with 1,199 votes, and many were returned with 2,000 and 3,000 votes. Tasmania sent six senators, and Senator Keating, the highest on the poll, had 3,700 votes, while the lowest, the one I first quoted, had 1,199 votes. A similar state of affairs prevailed throughout the States.
– Are those the total votes, or the No. 1 votes?
– They are the votes on which those senators were elected. It will be seen that the same remark as to the smallness of the population to be represented applies equally to Tasmania, Western Australia, and other States. I may say that the late Sir Philip Fysh, another Tasmanian member, was elected with 1,794 votes. In the Territory there are 1,700 people entitled to vote, and, in the face of the figures I have quoted, they cannot be denied the privilege.
– We are not denying them the right to vote.
– At any rate, the representatives of Tasmania should be quite prepared to give the Northern Territory people the right to a representative. If representation is to be according to population, Tasmania has too many members, not only here, but in the Senate. I do not object to Tasmania having its present number of representatives, but I think the same privilege should be given to the people of the Northern Territory, where there is so much developmental work to be done; and it is our duty to make the people there as contented and happy as possible. We are prepared to allow the proposed representative to come here and, financially and otherwise, receive the same treatment as is given to other members of the House. That being so, it would cost no more to extend to him the right of voting, and thus give him a higher standing amongst those whom he represents. So far as I understand, it will not be possible, according to the Bill, for the representative of the Northern Territory to be placed on any committee. However, I hope the time is not far distant when the residents of Canberra will- also have the right to representation in this House, and the same applies to New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands which we control. The people in the places I have mentioned pay taxation, and, therefore, are entitled to representation.
– That would make one vote one value a farce.
– I do not think so. We should not be entirely guided by what has been done under the United States of America Constitution; we are, I think, so far as our legislation goes, a little beyond the United States of America, and we ought to give facilities for the widest expression of opinion by the people of Australia. I hope the Bill will be passed as something better than nothing, but, at the same time, I think the Government are losing a golden opportunity to settle this question and satisfy the people of the Territory.
– I think this Bill is a mistake. It, apparently, satisfies nobody in the House. There are some who think that the Territory is not ripe for1 representation,, while there are others who think it is overripe; but neither party appears to consider the Bill satisfactory. That is chiefly, I take it, because of the extraordinary type of member that it is proposed to create for the first time in Australian history. He is to be here with a large mouth, which he may exercise incessantly within the Standing Orders, but he cannot say “ yea “ or “ nay “ to any of the questions which he himself has raised and which are special to the Territory or general to the Commonwealth. He is not to be a constituent of a quorum. He cannot be counted, according to the Bill, by Mr. Speaker or officers of the House, with a view, to determining whether in a given case, the constitutional number is present. He cannot be regarded as a member of an absolute majority of the House, and he cannot be Speaker or Chairman of Committees. He is to be the first parliamentary eunuch in Australia. I marvel that a man of such powerful physique and. such outstanding qualities of intellect, as the Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie), should have been given by his colleagues the duty of carrying so deformed an infant into this Chamber as the creature that is to be born of this Bill if it passes - that such a man should be the father, or the proclaimed father, of it. I shall vote for the creation of no representative that has no vote. If we are going to do the tiling at all let us do it properly.
– We are not worrying about it; if the House does not desire the Bill we can easily drop it!
– The father is offended because we criticise hia ill-begotten offspring, and it is his first this session. However, although it is natural that, when the child is criticised by onlookers, the parent should be offended, I hope the Minister will fallow the reasoning upon which I base my conclusions
I believe that the original intention of the Government to give representation in the Senate to the Territory was a wise one. The mistakewas made, I think, when they drafteda Bill which refused a vote to the prospective senator. In my opinion, the Governmentthis session ought to hark back to a proposition to give a fully-fledged senator to the Northern Territory, if they consider it wise; and foa- such a proposal I should vote. I shall not vote to create another member of this House with the full powers of an ordinary member, when his total constituency numbers only 1,700. That would not be one vote, one value, asis so strenuously and frequently recommended by honorable members on the Opposition benches. It is conceivable that a man might enter this House with 850 votes, and determine, not only the fate of measures, but the fate of Governments - determine the death or birth of Administrations and of parties. This constituency, I say, is not sufficiently organized, or sufficiently developed to warrant its participation to that extent in the exercise of the power of the Commonwealth of Australia. If we are to give those people representation, let us give it to them in such a way that it does not carry the power to determine the fate of Governments. It is perfectly true, as the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has said, that the American people have builded very wisely in the establishment of two forms of territorial government and representation. There must be a definite development of the Territory, and a definite basis of organization, before it can be admitted, in the first place, to local government; and, in the second place, to territorial representation in the House of Representatives at Congress; and, in the third place, to the status of a State. Right through the years, long before the Louisiana purchase, when the original territories were handed to the care of the primal thirteen States, the regulation for the government of those developing Territories were gradually made. We have almost 150 years of the experience of the great Republic of the West, as to how we should sanction and encourage local government and representation of the sparsely-populated Territories of a community like this; and we should follow the example set. If that were done, this Bill would not provide for representation of the Northern Territory in either House, but for the recognition of Papua, which is a much more highly-developed entity of the Commonwealth, than is the Northern Territory. Papua has an Administrator, and a local Council, with certain legislative as well as administrative functions.
– It distributes its own revenue.
– It distributes its own revenue, and occasionally it asks for assistance, either in the form of a subsidy or of a loan to be repaid later to the Central Treasury. This is a Territory that levies tribute on the Commonwealth, and has never yet been asked to live within its income, nor has its ability to do so been tested. In spite of the agitation which has taken place, the Northern Territory, judged by tho standard of Papua, is not yet ripe for representation in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament; and I cannot understand why the Government has offered the small number of persons there a kind of hybrid representation because their complaints have been long and loud, and yet has suggested nothing for Papua.
– Papua has a Legislative Council of its own.
– Yes; and the American practice has been that the first form of representation to be granted shall be local. When a Territory has obtained sufficient population, and is sufficiently organized, to warrant the grant of local government, it gets it. Later it may become entitled to claim its second privilege, namely, representation in Congress without a vote; and, finally,it may obtain full State representation and status. There are huge areas in Australia which, as the “new State movement” for which certain honorable gentlemen here are responsible proclaims, are suffering under disability in more practical form than the sparsely populated Northern Territory. In time to come, the fragments which break off the. larger States may be given the primal status of Territories, and we shall have to devise a system consonant with our Constitution to give them temporary representation while they are developing, and while their population is growing.
– There will be no fragments unless the persons residing in them are given votes.
– They will need representation, in the first place, for local governing purposes. The original impulse of the men who settle in new country is to secure control of the things that matter a great deal to them : the making of roads, the provision of water and the facilities for transport and communication. These are in the beginning more important than even the defence of the country. But later the spirit of nationhood grows in such a population.
– That would be all very well if there were not an Administration in Melbourne interfering without knowledge in everything done in the Northern Territory.
– That can be cured by giving the people of the Northern Territory local government. The next step is to give them representation in the central organization.
– What do the people of the Territory think of this measure?
– I understand that they regard it as a sop, as something that makes their position a little better than it is at present. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), who has visited the Territory recently, tells us that the people there await this measure thinking’ that it will help them along the road of development, but net regarding it as particularly useful, or constitutionally defensible. If we pass this measure because a population of 1,700 persons wishes us to do so, we shall be laying down a principle of representation which will be adversely commented on as Australia grows, and cannot be defended. I suggest to the Minister to hold over the Bill, which is in no sense a party measure, and to take consultation with the interests in the House that desire to give fair play to the residents of the Territory and at the same time to preserve the principles of our Constitution. We should see if we cannot evolve a better measure than this.
– The proposal would be still more grotesque if the representative of the Northern Territory were given a vote.
– In this House, Yes, hut in the other house No ! What will happen if we pass the Bill ? I have seen something of the kind happen in the Parliament of this State. There, for totally different reasons,from 1903 to 1906 special representation was given to the civil servants and railway servants of Victoria. The representatives of those bodies had the right to vote, but they were, and were expected to be, special advocates, and although both representatives were, I think, peculiarly fitted for the work they undertook, they made night hideous with their cries about service privileges, increments, and salaries, so that the Parliament, at the first opportunity, chopped out the system of separate representation with an axe.
– Still, the people of the Northern Territory have a right to be heard here.
– When they have sufficient organization and have exhausted the powers of self-government, they can be brought into the central organization, and their representatives can be given, not only a voice, but also a vote in the Senate. It would be improper, at the present time, to give the representative of 1,700 persons a voice, with or without a vote in this Chamber, which considers matters determining the fate of 5,000,000 persons.
– Within so large an area as the Northern Territory it is impossible for the people to get together and to organize.
– I am thinking of the gradual growth of population, industry, and settlement which will entitle these persons to rank as a permanent entity. Before the Northern Territory is given representation at the Seat of Government, its population and development must be sufficient to warrant such recognition. It would be best to withdraw the measure, in order to see if a better one could be devised to give fair play to these people. If that course is taken, we shall not have to subsequently destroy the -work that we are now being asked to do. Should a division be taken, I shalL vote against the Bill.
– I have stated before that the Northern Territory will always be a source of trouble to the Commonwealth while we continue to administer it on the lines that we are now following. Pastoral occupation, as it was known in the old days in the bigger States of the Union, is gradually giving way in those States to closer settlement, which is a good thing for Australia. But if we wish to develop the Northern Territory, the most natural way to do so will be to make available there to pastoralists leaseholds of a reasonable area. We should also provide a measure of selfgovernment sufficient to create a feeling of self-respect and citizenship among the people of the Territory. I agree with the last speaker that more development is needed there. The appointment of “ Pooh-Bah “ officials to govern the Territory, its people being taxed without representation, makes for dissatisfaction and retards development. If the Minister does not act on the suggestion of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), and postpone the consideration of the Bill in order that the principle which should govern the representation of the Northern Territory may be further considered, I shall yet- vote for it, because I think that the people of the Northern Territory should be heard in this House. I should like to know at first hand their opinions on matters in which they are concerned.
– Once or twice a year, perhaps.
– I would expect that some one of discretion would be chosen to represent the Northern Territory, and that he would not speak except on subjects in which his constituents were interested, because he would have no vote. It would be foolish of the House to decline to receive such first-hand information. Were such a member given the right to vote, there would be a violation of the representative principles of our Constitution, and other segregated sections in Australia might ask for similar treatment. I do not know that it would not be better to postpone the Bill to give the House time to reconsider the whole question of the administration and representation of the Territories. But the development of the Northern Territory can best be advanced by the adoption of the method I have mentioned. The pastoral interests of this country may be relied upon to develop the Territory, and the only officials needed there are a magistrate and a few policemen, the Commonwealth acting as its protector. When the Territory has been sufficiently developed, it will have acquired a status qualifying it to join the Federation of States.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) The member representing the Northern Territory shall not be entitled to vote on any question arising in the House of Representatives.
.- I move -
That the word “ not “ be left out.
Since the Government intend to provide for the representation of the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives, the representative should be given something more than a merely speaking part in our deliberations. It would be absurd to expect that, upon the ringing of the division bells, he should be required to stalk out of the chamber. It would be more than absurd; it would be utterly unsatisfactory to the people of the Territory. They would never be content with such a half measure of representation. No honorable member, were he a resident of our far-northern areas, would “ stand for “ it. Those people are Britishers, like ourselves; they are probably almost all farmer residents of 0 le various States, who at one time enjoyed full rights of citizenship. They are willing and anxious to do what they can in the direction of developing the Northern Territory. I know that if I were selected to represent them I would refuse to sit in this Chamber merely with a voice and bereft of a vote. Prior to the taking over of the Territory from South Australia, the people of the far north were given full representation in the South Australian House of Assembly; the members for the Territory had the right to vote, just as had all the other members. The Commonwealth cannot claim to have done much for the Northern Territory so far. We have actually taken from its residents those rights of citizenship which they formerly enjoyed. One cannot wonder at their present dissatisfaction. From time to time the Government issue Ordinances to keep these people in their place. I appeal to honorable members for fair play and for the preservation of British rights of citizenship. We welcome the proposal of the Government as amounting to a step in the right direction. But it is no more than a step; it gets the people of the Territory very little further forward. I believe in according representation upon the basis of numbers, so far as may be possible, and in giving to one vote one value. But, so far as the Territory is concerned, the application of those principles would be impossible. The Territory has only a very small number of residents, but they are so far removed from the heart df affairs in the Commonwealth that they should receive special consideration rather than a total lack of it. If we can make them, satisfied with their lot, they will do their best to improve their conditions. They will help enthusiastically in the Territory’s development. We cannot hope to populate those far parts if we do not accord their proposed representative in this Chamber complete rights and privileges.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. In my view, a more grotesque suggestion has never been made in this Chamber. It is absurd to advocate that there should be given a vote in this House to the representative of probably 800 or 900 electors. I mention that approximate number for the reason that there would probably not be more votes cast at an election by the adult population of the Northern Territory. I have been taken to task by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and accused of bias because of certain references which I made to a class of people at Port Darwin. I admit that I have referred to the workmen, or - as I called them - “ the so-called workers,” of the Northern Territory as Bolsheviks. These are the people who will be concerned in sending a representative into this Chamber. I do not deny that I applied the epithet “Bolsheviks”; but lie Leader of the Opposition further alleged that I had taunted those same people with the fact that they had no vote in the Commonwealth Legislature. If I said that they had not, I did not speak with any serious intent. Emphatically, I had no thought of saying so as a taunt. I have possibly been the victim of a misdirected joke. If I have been recorded in the cold print of Hansard as having said what the honorable member for Hunter suggests, I must admit that my joking comment would be likely to be taken seriously. I say now that I fearlessly made the statement that the so-called workers of Darwin were Bolsheviks; but I have never said that they were Bolsheviks because they had no vote or voice in this Parliament. I did not say that they should not have votes. I maintain that they are entitled to- the representation which the Government now purpose giving them. With respect to the term “ Bolshevik,” I do not know that I should not appeal, for the correct definition, to the honorable member who knows everything. I refer to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). I have had in mind that a Bolshevik is one who is an extremist, at all events, in industrial matters. All extremists nowadays are liable to be called Bolsheviks. I desire to show now that I had justification for speaking of certain persons in Darwin as Bolsheviks. I ask honorable members to listen attentively to a quotation which I shall make from the report of the Administrator, Mr. Urquhart, for the year ended 30th June, 1921.
– The Honorary Minister did not have that report before him when he made his statements.
– I did not; but the fact of its having come to hand later only bears out the fact that what I said at the time was fully justified. The Administrator says -
To one like myself, accustomed for many years to the well-ordered processes of a State Public Service, the position I found in the Service here was somewhat astonishing, not to say dismaying. To begin with, the Service was permeated with the doctrines of extremist unionism, vigorously inculcated toy the local union leaders (extremists of the extreme), and enforced by every subtle tyrannical device their none too scrupulous minds could conceive, until the more or less depressed and bewildered civil servants had arrived at a stage where they seemed to doubt to .whom their first allegiance was really due, whether to their country, as represented by the Government which employed them, or to the truculent terrorists who,_ in the much-abused name of unionism, and without much let or hindrance from higher authority, had arrogantly claimed a right of control over them.
Honorable members will surely agree tbat I had some justification for my comments.
– There are two other reports which the Honorary Minister might draw upon. One is from Mr. Justice Ewing, of Tasmania, and the other is from another Administrator, written in quite a different tenor from that which has just been quoted.
– I shall conclude with the following additional extract from the report of Mr. Urquhart : -
Socially the Darwin community , was as a house divided against itself, and the consequence assigned in Scripture to such a state has not failed to ensue. Onthe one hand were the extremists, who talked of “ Soviets “ and kindred nonsense, and on the other (unfortunately in a minority) were the few who struggled and protested bravely against the blatant and shameless tyranny exercised by the extremists in the misused names of “ Labour “ and” Unionism,” while striving to keep the lamp of freedom, as known to the law and the Constitution, still burning. And so the House of Darwin’s and the Northern Territory’s prosperityfell, and fell upon evil days indeed. Production stopped, industry ceased, shipping disappeared, no capital came into the Territory for investment, and unemployment immediately presented an ugly problemto be dealt iwith.
Itwas not easy to discover what actual or tangible grievances couldbe pleaded by way of justification for the attitude of the extremists. Wages were high, cost of living, though high, was not excessive, conditions as good as the disadvantages of a tropical climate permitted, every concession demanded by the unions seemed to have been readily accorded by employers, while “ go slow,” “ job control,” and all things dear to the heart of the extremist werein full and unobstructed operation.
So I think I was justified in calling these men extremists. In that same report the Administrator said, also, that one of the greatest causes of complaint in the Territory was taxation without representation. I agree that the people should have representation in this Parliament, but I cannot see that they are entitled to have a vote. I quote the following extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 30th August, 1922, as having an instructive bearing upon this question: -
A Parliamentary Delegate withoutavote.
In deciding to give the inhabitants of the Northern Territory a representative in the Federal Parliament, with the right to speak, but not to vote, the Ministry is following the example of the United States of America. From its inception the National Government of America possessed a vast area of land outside the limits of the several States, the larger part of which remained wild and inhabited only by Indian tribes. When, with the westward march of the whites, any particular region became sufficiently settled to require a regular Government, its boundaries were set and it was made into a territory.
Most of -the 48 States of the Union which were added to the original 13 were for a time territories, and became States when they had reached a certain population. The process went on until almost all the continental area of the United States was distributed into States, and there now remains in that area only one region, Alaska, still called a territory. There are others, however, in the island possessions. The territories send neither senators nor representatives to Congress; neither do they take part in presidential elections. The House of Representatives, however, admits a delegate from each one of them to sit and speak, but not, of course, to vote.
The position there disclosed is analogous to that of the Northern Territory, and this Parliament will be doing nothing singular if it concedes representation without a vote. The extract continues -
The position of a territory is, therefore, that of a rudimentary State. This is the Northern Territory’s position to-day. One day, if it is developed, it will become a State. The delegate from the Territory will really be a person whom the House of Representatives, under a Statute, admits to its floor and permits to address it.
The lateViscount Bryce, in his well-known work,TheAmerican Commonwealth, pointed out the peculiar position of a citizen of the American territories, and his remarks apply with almost equal force to the residents of the Northern Territory. “ It may seem inconsistent with principle that citizens should be taxed by a Government in whose Legislature they were not represented,” said Viscount Bryce, “ but the practical objections to giving the full rights of States to these comparatively rude communities outweighed any such theoretical difficulties.”
The honorable member for Batman referred to my lack of knowledge of the Constitution. I am not a constitutional lawyer, and perhaps the honorable member’s comment was justified. But there are many subjects in regard to which I could make him appear foolish, and perhaps very much more ignorant than I am of constitutional law. I hope the Committee will not agree to the amendment.
.- I did not seek in any pedantic way to find fault with the Honorary Minister for his lack of knowledge of the Constitution. What I did say was that the Minister intrusted with the conduct of this measure had given the House his view of the constitutional position, but had not supported that view with any argument. Any objection he raised was brushed aside by quotations from the Constitution which were open to all, and which were readily and aptly applied by the Leader of the Opposition, who may be presumed to have no more expert knowledge of the Constitution than has the Minister himself.
– Both the honorable member and the Leader of the Opposition merely quoted section 122 of the Constitution.
– It rested with the Minister to make an answer to our interpretation of the plain terms of section 122. The Minister does not claim to have any special knowledge of constitutional law, nor do I; but I presumed that, having made his declaration as to the limitations which the Constitution imposes, he would have backed it by the opinion of the Attorney-General or some other authority. But that he did not do. On the contrary, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) entered the chamber, and, lolling back in his seat, declared, in the most off-hand way, that there was nothing whatever in the view put forward by the Minister in charge of the Bill, and that this Parliament has power to give to the representative of the Northern Territory a vote as well as a voice in the deliberations of this Chamber. Action of that kind on the part of the Government does invite criticism and condemnation.
– Evidently the Ministerial house is divided against itself.
– Not only that, but Ministers are treating this Committee in a very contemptuous way. The contradictory statements of Ministers satisfy me that the Honorary Minister gave the House his own impression of the Constitution, which he could not support by any authority, and that neither he nor his colleague who interjected had taken the trouble to verify the divergent views they expressed. I was very much interested in the competition in superlatives between the Minister himself and a Mr. Urquhart, who’ went to the Northern Territory, took a casual glance at the conditions there,, and came back and published political propaganda of an exceedingly objectionable and provocative character.
– Mr. Urquhart has not come back yet.
– It is time he did come back, and if he did not know his job in Queensland any better than . he understands the work of administering the Northern Territory it was unwise to send him there or to reinstate him elsewhere.
– He brought those Bolsheviks to their senses, anyhow.
– He may have done so. The Honorary Minister characterized as grotesque the proposal to allow a representative of the Northern Territory to exercise a vote in. this Chamber. I can only reply that it is infinitely more grotesque to invite a representative to sit and apeak in this Chamber, and to hear members of the Government speak upon the Territory he is presumed to represent, and then to deny him the only effective means a man can have of making his view operative.
– If votes only are effective, why does the honorable member speak? Is it not for the purpose of influencing members ? Of course, he will not influence thom.
– The Minister should not make me feel my position more acutely than I already do. I realize that my remarks have no influence upon him, but my vote may have an effect. If the honorable gentleman will recollect the anxious face of the Government Whip at times as he runs about the precincts of the chamber counting heads and marshalling his forces, he will admit that my vote is infinitely more effective than my speeches. And that illustrates the point I am making in regard to the Territory. The right to speak may have little or no influence. The really potent thing is the right to record a vote.
I rose particularly to reply to an argument advanced- by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt). He said it was almost unthinkable, and unquestionably improper, that a representative of a mere 1,700 people should possibly have the power of making or unmaking Governments in this, the people’s, House. I do not know that it would be very shocking, because that representative would not be able to make or unmake the Government ( except when parties were almost evenly divided. When parties are in that state I cannot think for a moment that the fact of the member for the Northern Territory tipping the balance one -way or the other would be repugnant to democratic forms of Government. The honorable member for Balaclava spoke also of Papua. . We are not here to deny to Papua any rights that may be claimed for the Northern Territory. It may even be practicable to make the representative of the Northern Territory representative of Papua also. At all events, Papua, no doubt, feels that it should be represented in this Parliament, and I agree with that view. The honorable member for Balaclava suggested that with the growth of the new States movement and the possible creation of new States, the whole question of represent tion would require to be recon- sidered, and possibly the evolution of new States would take the form of the creation of new Territories. I venture to say that in the development of Australia there never can be circumstances parallel with the existence of the great area called the Northern Territory. The honorable member could hardly have considered she area and extent of this, the first and greatest of Commonwealth Territories, when he suggested that the possible breaking up of existing States into . smaller areas would proceed on a territorial basis. There can be no parallel. This is geographically a tremendous part of the Commonwealth, and it has come into being comparatively early in the history of the Commonwealth. Its facts and circumstances are unique. They stand alone. For that reason we are in no danger of setting a dangerous precedent for the future. We could safely extend to the representative of the Territory the right to a vote in this Chamber. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava that possibly the residents of the Territory feel, and I would agree with them, that more important even than their representation here, would be a wise system of local government. They are more concerned possibly with the control of their own affairs in their own Territory than with representation in this Chamber; but my answer to that point is that, while local government is pre-eminently a most important matter, the Territory is, unfortunately, dependent on this Parlia-ment, and upon a Minister who is responsible to this Parliament, and in all the greater and more important matters relating to the Territory their interests are swayed this way and that by Ordinances approved by an absentee Minister, who knows very. little about their local conditions. When the representative of the Territory speaks here, and, .as I should hope, votes here, he will be a very important means for helping to establish sane local government in the Territory. At all events, he will help to remove the shackles which this Parliament imposes on local government. Of course, local government is in existence there at the present time, but it is hampered largely by the actions of absentee administrators. That is the reason why the representation of the Territory in this Parlianient becomes important. It will fashion a useful link between the administration in Melbourne and the - administration in Darwin. There is no reason . why we should limit the rights of the representative here because local government is necessary. Certainly, that matter is of first importance, but, unfortunately, it is rendered largely abortive by the mischievous interference of Ministers in Melbourne, who know very little about conditions in the Territory, and hamper them in every way, creating disaffection and dissatisfaction which, instead of being understood and removed, are merely made the subject of a jesting and ill-considered comment, such as that of which the Honorary Minister has frankly acknowledged himself ‘to have been guilty.
.- If the Bill goes through, giving the people of the Territory a representative here, who, however., will have no vote in this House, the date fixed for the proclamation of the Act should be the 1st April next. It is an absolute farce to give people a representative who will not have the right to vote in Parliament. I cannot imagine anything more undignified than that a representative of portion of Australia should speak in this House and yet be continually getting up and leaving the chamber when divisions are taken. The position is very much the same as that of giving . a man a . gun and preventing him from having cartridges. If it be deemed desirable that the Northern Territory should have a representative in this Parliament, he should carry all the weight of any other representative here.
– On all questions 1
– Certainly. I cannot conceive of a question affecting any part of Australia which does not equally concern the people of the Northern Territory. They are interested just as much as are the residents of any other portion of Australia in every measure on the business-paper to-day. Surely we can afford to be generous to the residents of the Northern Territory, and do the decent thing by them. With many other honorable members I believe that if they are given selfadministration their Territory will develop more speedily and with considerable advantage to the pockets of the general taxpayers of Australia. Instead of the incredible folly of a proposal to make the railway gauges uniform, I think it is far better to set out upon a programme of connecting this outlying Territory by railway communication with the larger centres of population. I shall vote for the amendment, with which I am in entire agreement.
.- I shall vote for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). It may suit the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) to go to America for an example to bolster up his argument, but he will not follow that country’s example in its method of electing representatives to Parliament, namely, the population basis only. Why are the people in the district in which Washington is situated disfranchised 1 The reason was given to me by Dr. Bell, the inventor of the telephone. He told me that it was because there was such a large proportion of blacks in Washington that they dominated the Legislature and made it corrupt. I can imagine the Honorary Minister saying in regard to the recent trouble at Darwin, “ A whiff of grape shot would also settle that trouble.” The little corporal who used those famous words was not so great in bulk as is the Honorary Minister in charge of this Bill, but his mental qualities were much greater than those of any honorable member of this Parliament, and he would not have suggested the use of a whiff of grape shot at Darwin. Let me tell the Honorary Minister that if similar trouble had occurred in some of the western States of America, the men administering the affairs of the Territory would have been shot or hanged, and I am not sure that the vote of the people of Australia would not have justified their action, so infamous was the control at Darwin as exercised by the officials there from Judge Bevan down to the least of them. The Honorary Minister has quoted from the report of the present Administrator. I cannot forget that he is an ex-policeman who was fined in a paltry Police Court. Fancy the Governor of “Victoria or the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth being fined in a Police Court ! The Colonial Office would recall him at once. I discount Mr. Urquhart’s report, and I am content to quote from the report of his predecessor, Mr. Staniforth Smith, whose experience of Australia is probably as vast as that of any other man in this country. Mr. Staniforth Smith speaks of the Prime Minister’s promise to give representation to the people of the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister has made many promises, many of which he has not kept, but I welcome this Bill as an earnest of his intention to keep at least one of them. Mr. Staniforth Smith, in his annual report on the administration of the Territory of which ho was Acting-Administrator, said -
The Northern Territory is the last province of Australia to claim the toga of citizenship.
The promise of the Prime Minister of Australia that a Bill would be introduced -to give the people of the Northern Territory a representative in the National Parliament was received throughout the Territory with the keenest pleasure.
The history of the struggles of tho people of the various colonics of Australia for the right to make the laws that they are called upon to obey is interesting and instructive.
In 1842, the Imperial “Act for tho Government of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land” gave the colony “representative”, government creating a new Council consisting of twelve nominated members - six official and six non-official - and twenty-four elected members.
The Imperial Act of 1850 allowed New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia to recommend the form of government they preferred, although tho population of those four colonies numbered at that time no less than 750,000.
Here I express my appreciation of the democratic State of South Australia in the early days of its settlement. Mr. Staniforth Smith’s report proceeds -
The province of South Australia gave a vote to all men who had lived six months in the- colony tor the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly to be triennial. This constitution came into force in 1856, three years before
Queensland became a colony. This was probably the first manhood suffrage Assembly in the Empire.
I call tie attention of the Honorary Minister to this. He speaks of the people in the Northern Territory as Bolsheviks, but, as a matter of fact, they have not done one-half of what the English reformers did. Before the Reform Act was passed one hundred men lost their lives, Bristol was set oh fire; and mud was thrown in the face of the King in the streets of London. The report which I am quoting continues -
In other ways South Australia led the way towards modern Democracy. She was the first of the Australian colonies to pay her members of Parliament, and the first to give women a vote.
In conformity with the liberal traditions of the South Australian people, it was natural that at a very early date (1890) a full and liberal franchise should be conferred upon the European settlers of the Northern Territory, who at that date numbered only 1,144 white people and 3,754 coloured aliens.
I would like the Honorary Minister to get some of his officers to search “the archives in South Australia in order to ascertain whether one voice was raised against giving these men a vote. The report continues -
The South Australian Government allowed the white people of the Territory, on an adult suffrage franchise, to elect two members to sit in the South Australian Legislative Assembly, and on the 18th April, 1890, Mr. V. L. Solomon and the Hon. J. L. Parsons were elected to represent the Northern Territory in the South Australian Parliament.
In addition to these two members, the people of the Northern Territory were allowed to vote for the election of a member for the Legislative Council by being included in that member’s electorate.
They were also privileged to take their full part in the great decision as to whether the Australian colonies should form a federated nation.
The residents of the Territory were fit to vote on the question as to whether or not there should be an Australian Commonwealth, but, according to the Bill, their representative is not fit to vote in this House -
At the first Federal elections in 1901, a further privilege was exercised by the white residents of the Northern Territory, as they were granted full voting rights both in the election of the Federal senators and a member of the House of Representatives for South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The people then had power to elect a representative who was not prevented from voting in Parliament. In the name of logic. why should the Government make a half gift? No gift is so valuable as that which comes freely from a full heart. Why give a bit, and draw it back ? To do so is to talk like a lion and to act like a cat -
All adult white residents of the Northern Territory had exactly the same right as the people of South Australia in voting for senators and members of the House of Representatives, as South Australia was not at first divided into electorates for the purposes of electing members of the House of Representatives.
Subsequently the people of the Northern Territory voted for the election of the member for Grey in the House of Representatives, and continued the privilege of voting for all senators elected from South Australia.
For twenty years the people of the Northern Territory, thanks to South Australia, enjoyed the fullest franchise, and could proudly claim both State and Federal representation.
On the 1st January, 1911, the Commonwealth assumed the control of the Territory, and all citizenship and voting power was taken from them, and this condition has continued up to the present, although section 122 of the Commonwealth Constitution expressly provides that
The .Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory surrendered by any State . . . and may allow the representation of such Territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.”
A new era is dawning for the Territory; there is now a definite prospect of the early introduction of legislation to give the people of the Northern Territory a representative in the Federal Parliament, and this has given general satisfaction.
During the Boer war I was on their side, and I must say I never dreamt that England, having conquered, would act so nobly as to give the Boers the rights and privileges of a free community under the British flag. But that is what England did, and the Boers responded nobly when Botha led them against the German West African possessions during the late war. The Minister, as a soldier and as a comrade of that great man, will agree that that was a noble return for a noble act. I now ask that Australian men and women, for the sake of their children, shall exercise all the rights and privileges of citizenship throughout this country. I have no desire to unduly criticise the American Constitution and its working, owing to my regard and affection for that great country; but I may point out that that part of it which deals with Territories is old, pertaining to the last century. Wa are now living in a new era, and we ought to realize that a man who is fit to voice the rights and claims of his fellowmen is entitled to a vote in regard to those rights and claims. The late Mr. Duncan Gillies, a one-time Premier and leader of Conservative thought in Victoria, once said that while a man could sometimes explain away a speech, it waa a very awkward business to explain away a vote, and certainly the casting of a vote is a most important duty.
Having made my appeal, I now wish to say a few words in regard to the health of the Northern Territory, especially in view of Sir Henry Barwell’s yelping for black labour there. Perhaps it was for this that that gentleman obtained a title, but, if so, it isa very “black” title. However, on the authority of Knibbs, the Northern Territory presents possibly the healthiest community in the world. Contrary to statements that have been made to the effect that women cannot live there, and so forth, I find that amongst the women there is really a lower death rate than amongst the men. Taking the years from 1914 to 1920, the average male death rate was 3.33 per cent.
– The honorable member is making a speech more appropriate to the second -reading stage. He will have an opportunity to deal with the health phase at a later stage.
Question - That the word “not,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause - put. TheCommittee divided.
Ayes . . . . . . 25
Noes . . . . . . 11
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.-I wish to register a final protest against this legislation. The Committee have decided against the proposal to give a vote to the representative of the Northern Territory, and I now call the attention of honorable members to the sub-paragraphs of clause 5 -
From this it would appear that the representative will really have no rights at all beyond the right to speak occasionally.
– There is nothing in the clause about the representative speaking “ occasionally “ ; he may speak as often as he chooses.
Mr.CHARLTON. - But he is not even to be counted, and, for all practical purposes, he will be a nonentity. What is this representative going to do?
– Put the views of the people of the Northern Territory before Parliament.
– Really he will have to sit here and suffer indignity after indignity. He will be here as a member, but whenever there is a vote or count he will be supposed to be absent - the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees will not see him. He will not count in the constitution of a quorum.
– Not even on a motion to suspend a member for disorderly conduct ?
-He will have no vote; although, of course, if he himself is guilty of disorderly conduct he must take the risk.
– Is it not an important function to inform the mind of the House in regard to matters affecting the Northern Territory ?
-It is; and that is the only point in favour of this legislation.
– It is all-important.
– The representative may, on matters affecting the Northern Territory, voice the views of his constituents, but he will have no vote. Outside of that he will count for little here. What inducement will there be for a man to come to the Seat of Government, and sit in the House for hour after hour and day after day, waiting for some question affecting the Northern Territory to arise? He will not be expected to take part in the discussion of the ordinary business of the House, having no vote, but, should he do so, I imagine that an occasion will arise when he will be told to mind his own concerns. I hope that the day will come when we shall have an opportunity to reconsider this matter, and that we shall then give to the representative of the Northern Territory the full rights that we ourselves possess.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Privileges, &c., of member).
.- This clause enacts that the provisions of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1920 shall apply in relation to the member representing tho Northern Territory, and seems to place him. in a highly favorable position, because later there may be an amendment of that Act. Therefore, I suggested to the Attorney-General that the clause should be amended to read,. “ the Parliamentary Allowances Act for the time being.” I was informed by the honorable and learned gentleman that there is a Statute in force which declares that, should an Act which is quoted in another Act be amended, the reference to it is to be read as a reference to the amended Act.
– I think that is the effect of the Acts Interpretation Act.
– In any case, it seems to me that it would have been better to make this clause more definite by inserting the words “ for the timebeing.”
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Application of Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1922)
– I again draw the attention of tile Minister to the subject of postal voting, and remind him that it willbe impossible to transmit votes in the ordinary way over the vast area of the Northern Territory. I ask him to give consideration to this matter.
– I shall do so. Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 and 9 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (by leave) read a, third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure is one for discussion in Committee rather than at this stage. It amends the original Act, altering the electoral machinery with a view to safeguarding and facilitating the conduct of elections. The first amendment is contained in clause 2, and is an amendment of section 39 of the principal Act. At the present time a person who has resided in a division for one month is entitled to be enrolled for that division, and sometimes his name remains on the divisional roll after he has removed to another division. It is proposed to add a proviso to section 39, providing that an elector whose real place of living is not in the division for which he is enrolled, shall not be entitled to vote for that division if, since his enrolment, he has at any time before the commencement of the period of twenty-one days before the issue of a writ for an election become entitled to be enrolled for another division.
– Is that to prevent double voting?
– It is to prevent men from voting for divisions for which they are no longer entitled to be enrolled. Of course, a person who is only temporarily absent from his division, and has the fixed intention of returning to live in it, is not affected by this provision. In Australia many men are nomadic, wandering from place to place in earning their livelihood, and so long as a man’s permanent home is in the division for which he is enrolled, he is entitled to vote for that division.
– If a man were absent for a month from his division, would his name be automatically struck off the divisional roll?
– No; but when a man removes from the division for which he is enrolled, and makes a home in another division, it is his duty to get himself enrolled for the new division. To give full effect to this alteration of the law,clause 14 repeals section 115 of the principal Act, and inserts another section in ‘its stead. This new section contains the list of questions which the presiding officer shall put to every person claiming to vote. It adds to the questions provided for in the principal Act these questions: -
Is your real place of living within the division of- ?
If that question is answered in the negative, the claimant is asked -
Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the division of- , with a fixed intention of returning to your place of living in that division for the purpose of continuing to live therein?
If that question is answered in the negative, the claimant is asked -
Did you at any time, since securing the enrolment for the division of- , in respect of which you claim to vote and before- the date of the commencement of the period of twenty-one days before the issue of the writ for the election - become entitled to be enrolled in respect of another division?
If a person refuses to answer fully any question put to him by the presiding officer under the proposed new section, his claim to vote is to be rejected ; but if he answers the questions put to him, and the presiding officer is of opinion that he is not entitled to vote, he must be informed that his claim is rejected, and he can protest against the decision of the presiding officer.
– The presiding officer is given a great deal of discretionary power.
– No. If he decides against a claimant, the latter may make a declaration in the prescribed form as to the grounds of his allegation that his claim to vote should not be rejected, and he is then permitted to vote, marking and folding his ballot-paper in the manner prescribed.
The next important amendment made in the existing law is contained in clause 3, which inserts in the principal Act a new section, 72a, providing that candidates nominated for election to the Senate may claim to have their names grouped in the ballot-papers in the manner prescribed. The object of this amendment is to assist the electors in voting. The number of names on a Senate voting paper is often very large, and the candidates are not so intimately known to the electors as are the candidates for seats in this House. The desire is to inform the electors that certain candidates belong to certain groups.
– Will a voter have to place a number against each name ?
– Yes; the preferential system of voting is not interfered with.
– Will any candidate for the Senate be entitled to have his name put into any group? Will there be a group for independents?
– An independentcandidate constitutes a group in himself.
– Who will determine the grouping?
– The candidates themselves will make the notification. Proposed sub-section 2 of the new section 72a reads -
A group shall include the names of those candidates only who notify the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State in the prescribed manner after they have been nominated, and not later than 12 o’clock noon on the day of nomination, that they desire to have their names included in that group with the names of the other candidates in that proposed group, and with those names only.
– Suppose that there wereseven Labour candidates grouped, and that only three were to be elected, and that electors had to mark seven candidates - being twice the number to be returned, plus one. “Would it not be a case of the first three “ past the post “ being elected ?
– The grouping on the ballot-paper would not affect the counting of the votes at all.
– .What, if a candidate does not place his name in any group ?
– The’ name will appear on the ballot-paper as that of an independent candidate. I invite honorable members to study the sample ballot-paper prepared on the back of the Bill. They will see that it is arranged to show the position of various groups which may be formed. There arc groups “ A,” “ B,” and “C”; but there may be as many more as the various candidates require, as well as individual, candidates. The proposed new section 72 provides, in sub-section 3, that -
A candidate shall not bc entitled to have Ms name included in more than one group.
Proposed sub-section 4. states -
A notification, pursuant to this section, shall not he rejected by reason of any formal defect or error therein if the Commonwealth electoral officer who receives the notification is satisfied that the provisions of this Act and the regulations have boon substantially complied with.
Proposed sub-section 5 provides that -
Upon the receipt of notifications in accordance with this section from all the candidates in any proposed group, the Commonwealth electoral officer shall include the names of those candidates in a. group, and shall notify each member of the group of the fact that he has included his name in a group, and of the names of the other candidates included in the group.
Another new section, 105a, provides the machinery for determining the order in which various groups are to be placed on a ballot-paper. The object is to assist electors, so that they may be able to cast their votes more easily than under the existing- system.
Clause 4 proposes to amend section 76, which deals with the forfeiture of deposits in certain circumstances. This amendment is for the specific purpose of overcoming an existing anomaly in respect of a Senate election. A proposed new para graph states that a .candidate’s deposit shall be returned1 -
in the case of a Senate election -
– Why should not votes 1, 2, and 3 be of equal value when electorsare required to elect three men?
– I am dealing with thesystem as it is ; and the necessity for this amendment is. created because of a present defect.
Clause 5 has to do with applications for postal vote certificates and postal ballot-papers. It amends section S5 of the principal Act by adding a provisoto the following effect: -
Provided that the application shall not be deemed to have been duly made unless it reaches the Divisional Returning Officer to whom it is addressed before 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the clay immediately preceding the polling day. for the election.
At present an application for a postal vote certificate and ballot-paper may bereceived up to and upon the very day of an election. Applications are sometimes received much too late to vender it possible for the officers concerned to supply certificates and postal voting papers. Hence the reason for the proviso.
The amendment proposed in clause G is to get over a difficulty which exists on polling days on the East- West railway. Instances have occurred of men. desiring to vote in places where there are at the time no authorized witnesses within themeaning of the Act. This clause proposes to include in the lists of authorized witnesses, “all permanent-way inspectors and road-masters employed in the railway service of the Commonwealth.” Tha effect will be to broaden the opportunities of those railway workers who desire to exercise their franchise.
Clause S covers a proposed new section 91a.. and has to do with persons claiming, to vote whose names are noted, under section 91, in respect of the issue of postal vote certificates and. ballot-papers. It deals particularly with the case of an elector whose name has been noted on the certified list of voters at a polling place prescribed for the subdivision. The proposed new section states -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding section, where a person, whose name has been noted on the certified list of voters used at a polling place prescribed for the subdivision for which he is enrolled, as an elector to whom a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper have been issued, claims to vote in an election at that polling place and states, when requested to deliver to the Presiding Officer for cancellation his postal vote certificate and ballot-paper, that he neither applied for nor received a postal vote certificate or a postal- ballot-paper, he may, subject to section 115 and the regulations, be permitted to vote, if he makes a declaration in the prescribed form before the Presiding Officer at the polling place.
The ballot-paper of such a voter is then dealt with in the manner prescribed by the regulations -
Provided that no such ballot-paper shall be scrutinized unless the Divisional Returning Officer is satisfied that the voter is entitled to vote in the election, and that a postal vote certificate or postal ballot-paper has not been issued to him.
The next amending clause, 9, proposes to insert two new sections - the one providing for a penalty for unlawfully marking a postal ballot-paper, and the other for unlawfully opening such a paper. The first, No. 93a, states -
No person other than -
the elector to whom the postal ballotpaper has been issued, or
an authorized witness . . . assist ing an elector whose sight is so impaired that he cannot vote without assistance, shall mark a vote upon the ballot-paper.
The second new section, 93b, provides that -
No person other than the Returning Officer for the division in respect of which a postal ballot-paper has been issued, or. an officer acting under his directions, shall open the envelope in which the postal ballot-paper has been placed . . and which has been fastened by an authorized witness . . .
I have already indicated that the proposed new section 105, as set out in clause 10, simply provides machinery for the printing of Senate ballot-papers and the determination of the order of groups and names within a group.
In the Bill as introduced in the Senate, certain clauses were included to provide for the marking of individual ballotpapers after the manner adopted in Queensland, the purpose being to enable the Court of Disputed Returns to identify, where necessary, any particular vote. The means of doing so is by attaching a number to the ballot-paper. Certain safeguards were inserted, but the Government have reconsidered the point, and have decided not to include this numbering of ballot-papers in the measure. The Senate will be asked to agree to the omission of those proposed new sections covered by clause 12.
Clause 13 seeks to amend section 113, which deals with the places at which absent voting electors may vote. The section states -
On polling day, an elector shall be entitled to vote at any prescribed polling place for the subdivision for which he is enrolled, or he shall be permitted to vote at any other polling place within the Commonwealth at which a polling booth is open. . . .
The purpose of the proposed amendment is to substitute the word “may” for “shall,” second occurring above. The necessity arose out of a specific recent case of absent Voting. Australia is a very large country; its electors are widely scattered, and it is very difficult to make legal provision against every contingency. But every elector is entitled to vote at any polling place in respect ef the electorate in which he is enrolled. In the matter of absent voting, however, this substitution of the word “may” for “shall” will prevent an election from being declared invalid in the event of the discovery of a shortage of one or more ballot-papers for absent voters.
Clause 15 purposes the addition of a new sub-section to section 121. It has to do with the voting claim of a person whose name is not on the certified list, or has been struck out. The proposed addition states -
Where the claim of any person to vote under thissection is refused the Presiding Officer sholl make a note in writing of the fact of the claim and the reasons for the refusal thereof, and the Presiding Officer and a poll clerk shall sign the note in the presence ofsuch scrutineers as are present. Any of those scrutineers may also sign the note.
A person may make application for a vote: but in a recent case difficulty arose in establishing proof as to whether the claimant had or had not claimed the right to vote. The Presiding Officer might say that he could not remember whether or not that person had claimed.
It is therefor© proposed to alter the law to provide that where the claim of amy person to vote under section- 121 is refused, the Presiding Officer shall make a note in writing of the fact of the claim and the reasons for the refusal thereof; and that the Presiding Officer and the poll clerk shall sign the note in the presence of such scrutineers as are present. Any of those scrutineers may also sign the note. That will provide evidence of the claim. It is proposed to add also a new section, to be called section 121a. According to section 118, immediately upon handing the ballotpaper to the person claiming the vote, the Presiding Officer or a poll clerk must place a mark against the person’s name on the certified last of voters, if his name is on that list. We are now proposing to add this new section -
Provided that no such ballot-paper shall be scrutinized or counted unless a Divisional Heturning Officer is satisfied that the voter is entitled to vote in the election.
In other words, the applicant’s vote may be taken, and the matter can then be inquired into. Of course, if the man is entitled to vote it is right that he should do so. Sometimes mistakes happen, and a. wrong name on the list is marked off.
Clause 25 is necessary, following upon a decision given by Mr. Justice Barton in the case of Hedges versus Burchell. In that case application had been made to the Court of Disputed Returns on behalf of the petitioner Hedges for an order entitling him. to inspect and take extracts from the rolls and certain other documents used at or in connexion with the Fremantle election, and also that a certain roll in the possession of a divisional officer should be delivered to the petitioner for inspection. The Judge held that he had no power to make that order, and said -
The result is that no section of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, nor any rule under that Act, has been discovered which can be held to give this Court of Disputed Returns the power to make such an order as is sought on behalf of the petitioner. It may be that such a power is highly necessary, and that the ends of- justice are frustrated by its absence. It seems strange that in a proceeding which involves the question of the proper conduct of an election, when information is sought which exists only in the rolls and other documents in the custody of public officers, a petitioner is not entitled to the discovery that is here sought. But the remedy is in the hands of the Legislature, not those -of the Court.
It is now proposed to give the Court increased power in that regard. Further powers are being conferred by clause 26 with regard to the production of certain ballot-papers and postal certificates.
Clause 27 embodies another important amendment. The point with which it deals arose in the disputed Ballarat election. The principal Act provides -
No election shall be avoided on account of any delay in the’ declaration of nominations, the polling, or the return of the writ, or on account or the absence or error of an officer which shall not be proved to have affected the result of the election.
Mr. Justice Isaacs, in his judgment in the case of Sean versus Kerby, said -
The Australian Act differs very considerably from the English legislation in several respects relevant to this case. Particularly I refer to the duty of the Court in the case of official errors. In England it is enacted that no election shall be declared invalid by reason of noncompliance with the election rule or mistake in the use of the forms, if it appears to the tribunal (1) that the election was conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the body of the Act, and (2) that such noncompliance or mistake did not affect the result of the election. In other words, if the matter is left so that the mistake may have affected the result, the election may be declared invalid. Under our Act it is different. By section 194 it is provided that “ no election shall be avoided … on account of the . . . error of any officer which shall not be proved to have affected the result of the election.” The “ result “ means the return of the particular candidate, and not the number of his majority.
Honorable members will observe the difference between the two Statutes. The Commonwealth electoral . law provides that no election shall be avoided/ on account of an error which shall not be proved to have affected the result of the election,, whereas the English law provides that no election shall be invalid by reason of any mistake if it appears to the tribunal that- the mistake did not affect the result of the election. Clause 27 proposes to apply the wording of the English law, and do away with the necessity for admitting evidence as to how a voter intended te vote. The Bill also proposes to continue as a permanent measure that provision in the War-time Electoral Act which prevents the States from taking a referendum on Federal election day. The High Court has established our power to do that in the Queensland appeal case, Ex parte Daniell. We are, therefore, inserting this new clause - 218a. On the day appointed as polling day for an election of the Senate or a general election of the House of Representatives or the day fixed for the taking of the votes of electors for the purposes of a referendum held under the provisions of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1919, no election or referendum or vote of the electors of any State or part of a State shall, without the authority of the Governor-General, be held or taken under the law of a State.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (upon motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8.20 p.m.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move-
That in lieu of the rates of tax imposed by the Entertainments Tax Act 1916-1919 upon payments for admission to entertainments there be imposed upon such payments as from the second day of October, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, a tas at the following rates, namely: -
This motion involves an alteration of the basis upon which the tax upon entertainments is imposed, and carries out the Budget indication that it was proposed to remove the tax upon tickets of admission to entertainments of the value of under ls. The entertainments tax was imposed during the war purely as a war measure, so far as the Commonwealth Government was concerned, and the receipts from that source, which have been very substantial, were of the greatest value during the period of the war, when the whole of the financial resources of the Commonwealth were stretched to the very furthest point. The actual amounts received were -
Without the remission of the tax now suggested, it was estimated that the revenue from this source during the present financial year would be £650,000. The amount involved in the remission is approximately £100,000.
The war is now over, and we are endeavouring to make a very real and sincere effort to get back to a normal basis; in fact, the Budget gave some indication of this. The reduction in our expenditure from revenue this year is £3,000,000, and one hopes that, in due course, the revenue will follow the same lines as the expenditure has followed in the Estimates for the present year. At any rate, taxation is being remitted this year, and it is hoped that, as the years go by, it will be further remitted. The relief given on the present occasion is, of necessity, limited, and in arriving at its extent consideration has been given to the object of enabling all classes to share in it. I have heard the suggestion made outside, and even in this chamber, that the Budget is an electioneering Budget.
– That is true.
– I regret that that suggestion has been made, because it shows a fundamental misconception of that for which the National party and the NationalGovernment stand. We are in the unique and enviable position in this House of representing all classes of the community, and of necessity, in our endeavours to do justice to all, our remissions of taxation have fallen upon all classes. The suggestion that ours is an electioneering Budget is nothing less than an outrage and a gross misconception of the whole position.
– I hope that the Treasurer will not prevent the humble supporters of the Government in this corner from saying that.
– No one would prevent the honorable member from saying anything. …. is only natural that one who propounds Nationalist doctrines and Nationalist principles should take every opportunity of pointing out how the Government are applying them.
But while we are endeavouring to help every class, we are, in the first place, giving relief so that it may aid and assist in development and production. This, I believe, we are doing in our present proposal, because we realize that the best production is secured when those who are primarily concerned in producing get what I may describe as invigorating relaxation. If the industrial classes, who are those most concerned, have an opportunity for that relaxation which is so necessary if they are going to give us of their best, we should get the maximum of production. The other side of the picture, of course, is that the remission of this taxation will help m providing opportunities for education to those of small means and to the children of this country.. We have had many great scientific developments of recent years, and the removal of the tax upon low-priced tickets should offer more abundant facilities for education to those who are best able to profit by them. The remission of the tax as proposed will benefit those who are least able to bear the charge upon the tickets which they have to purchase for entertainment which may be either relaxation or education to them.
– If the picture-show proprietors still refuse to reduce the prices of admission, will the Treasurer take notice of the fact?
– I should certainly take notice of it, but I would be in a considerable difficulty as to how I could cope with it, though no doubt I should make a great endeavour to do so.
These, broadly, are the reasons that have actuated the Government in submitting this motion. In my opinion, an entertainments tax’ is one of those things in which a Federal Government, with a broad national policy, should not be concerned, and it was nothing but the obligations of the war that brought the Commonwealth Government into thi3 field of taxation.
– Why do they not get out of it?
– I regret that at this moment we cannot get out of it com pletely. We cannot give more than a certain measure of relief at the present moment, but so far as we have been able to shed this form of taxation we have done so. When opportunity offers, I hope that the Federal Government will leave this particular field entirely to other Administrations. It is not a natural field in which we should gather revenue.
The measure of relief now to be afforded is the fullest that we can give, having regard to the keeping of a fair balance among all the classes entitled to benefit by a relaxation of the taxation burden out of the amount that we have at our disposal. Suggestions have been made that we should have exempted the ls. ticket also, but, as that would involve a loss of revenue to the extent of another £130,000, we could not contemplate a relaxation to that extent at this moment. The relief proposed to be given will be of direct benefit to the public, because the entertainments tax has always been paid by the community in addition to the price of admission. A suggestion that this is not so has been raised since I have been speaking, but the facts are that the tax has been added to the price of admission,, so that the relief proposed to be given will- go to the community itself, and not to the proprietors of picture shows or promoters df other forms of entertainment. The Government are moving in this direction because they believe that it will be conferring a benefit upon the community, and not because, as has been suggested, it will be a sop to a particular class. I have endeavoured to show what a direct bearing this remission will have upon the whole of our national life. I recommend the motion to the Committee in the hope that it will be accepted by all sides, and passed through with little discussion. It is a measure of relief that is almost overdue, and I think that in applying it now we are only doing something that is just and proper, and which will prove to be of considerable benefit to the whole community.
.- The Committee will agree that the Government’s proposal is a step in- the right direction; but when the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) reminds us that it is not a political sop for electioneering purposes, and claims that any one who says that it is is guilty of an outrage, I take the opportunity of assuring him that it has been brought forward for no other pur- pose. When my late Leader (Mr. Tudor) was fighting with the object of securing the reduction now proposed, and even a greater measure of relief, the Government were very obstinate. They stood then for gathering all they possibly could under the entertainments tax, but, as in other cases, they adopt a different attitude now that au election is within easy distance.
– What does the honorable member regard as being “ within easy distance “ ?
– I should say that the 9th December would be within easy distance. The Treasurer is at great pains to assure us that this remission of taxation is for the benefit of the people as a whole; but it is well known that it is for the benefit of people who are attending picture-shows and similar entertainments where they are charged up to ls. I think the Treasurer would only be doing justice, in view of his own statement as to this field of taxation being left to the States, if he were to wipe it out altogether; or apply it only to the higherpriced seats at theatres.
– That is what we are doing.
– A charge of1s. is very low, and I think that the Treasurer might start his taxation at 3s., as more reasonable, taking all the circumstances into account.
– The taxation would not be worth collecting.
– Then leave it to the States.
– The sum of 3s. would be a low one for theatres.
– Tha t is quite true, for there are very few seats in theatres at 3s.
– The honorable member’s suggestion would mean a loss of £391,000 a year.
– The Treasurer has told us that this taxation was imposed with the idea of raising additional revenue for financing the war. In 1919 the revenue collected was £355,000, in 1920 it was £551,000, in 1921 it was £641,000, and in 1922 it is estimated to be £675,000. It will be seen that under his present proposals the Treasurer will get considerably more than he did in 1920, when the war was over.
– The paying for the war was not over.
– And I am sorry it will not be over for a long time to come. The poorer people of the community, who made the most sacrifices in the prosecution of the war, should not be called upon to pay for it. What is the wealth of the country doing towards paying for the war? Why is it not taxed to a greater extent?
– What rot!
– It is always “ rot “ when we are about to go to the country to tell the people the truth. This remission of taxation is for the purpose of rote catching, and for no other. The Government are remitting the taxation of companies, and of people with large incomes; and then we are told we are talking “rot” if we state the facts of the position. But these facts cannot be hidden from the public; indeed, it is our business to let the public know them. The Treasurer will not admit the accuracy of what I am now saying, but we can all read betweenthe lines of his statement, and he is candid enough not to deny that there is some reason for the impression. Other Ministers, however, do not like the truth to be told, but the truth will out - it cannot be camouflaged. It is well known that a number of measures are being introduced herebecause the Government are going to the country, and for no other reason. The Treasurer told us that after the election the Government hope to remit more taxation.
– Oh, no; he did not.
– What the Treasurer, said was that this remission was as much as the Government could afford at the present juncture, but he hoped the day would come when this class of taxation would be abolished and left to the States.
– That is not quite the same as saying that the taxation would be remitted after the elections.
– I may be permitted to put my own construction on the words of the Treasurer. If the Government are in power after the elections, and should be called upon later to again face the people, no doubt they will remit this and also other taxation.
I have no opposition to offer to a measure which will reduce the burden which the poorer classes of the country are carrying at the present time. This taxation, as I say, was imposed to assist in paying the cost of the war, and it should be removed as quickly as possible from the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it. The people who attend picture shows, and pay taxation charges up to ls. admission, can ill afford, generally speaking, such charges, small as they are, out of their scanty earnings. I regret the Bill does not go further, and begin the taxation at admission charges of 3s.
– There was a saying of Pitt, in speaking of taxation, that the Goat might be taxed off a man’s back so long as he did not know how it was done, because then he was not in a position to place his finger on those who took it. From, what I can gather, that seems to be the method favoured by the Government and the Opposition in the collection of taxation; they prefer indirect means, so thafc those who have to pay do not know how it is done, or whom to blame. This is a direct tax, and because of that, and because it is felt to be onerous, it is to be removed. But in view of the position of the country, how can we remove taxation in this way ? The Government, in carefully graded doses, are removing taxation, and in the case of the entertainments tax are exempting all admission fees up to ls. We are told by the Treasurer that this remission will mean such an increase in “ invigorating relaxation,” to use his own words, that the production of the country will be enormously increased. The policy and attitude of the Treasurer reminds me - I suppose this is the influence of the pictures we have just seen in the Queen’s Hall - of the medicine-man of a savage tribe who carefully puts a pinch of this here, and a pinch of that there, in order to work his charm.. That is the method adopted by the Treasurer in his remissions of taxation. However, I think the public will, without difficulty, see through these devices. Disguise it as we may, the position is that, if these remissions of taxation take place, the revenue of the Commonwealth for the ensuing twelve months will be £2,700,000 less than the expenditure. The Treasurer speaks lightheartedly about further remissions, but he cannot see further than another year ahead, from that point of view, unless there is some definite alteration made in regard to the expenditure. Under the circumstances, I cannot be a party to the remission of taxation on what I regard as a luxury, because luxuries should, in my opinion, be utilized in this way to assist in paying our indebtedness incurred by the war. The Treasurer, as I say, draws a beautiful picture of the “ invigorating relaxation “ that will result from this remission of taxation. If the honorable gentleman were a member of my profession he would know that eye damage may be done to young children who attend too frequently at picture shows, owing, in many cases, to the continuous flickering on the screen. I can scarcely see where the “invigorating relaxation” comes in, except that perhapsafforded by the eating of peanuts during the entertainments.
– Surely proper relaxation always invigorates?
– There are numerous forms of relaxation that cannot be said to be invigorating. In my opinion, this tax on amusements should be retained. I should agree with the Treasurer if he said we were going to leave this field of taxation completely to the States, but, at the present time, the proposal is one made merely to improve the position of the Government in the electorates. No attempt has been made to bring the expenditure within the revenue, and I see no reason why this taxation, which is a tax on luxury, should be remitted under the circumstances.
.- I am in accord with the views expressed by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce); but there is one matter to which I should like to draw his attention, and that is the way in which the tax is collected. When this legislation was introduced some years ago, the proprietors of picture shows and other entertainments were required to provide their own printed matter. Where they were working under bond, they weregiven tickets by the Department instead of their having to stamp thom, and they had to supply a yearly or half-yearly audited account. I have had some little experience in running picture shows, and I can assure honorable members that the collection of the tax is not a simple matter. There is a large amount of clerical work, and this, with the necessary audit, has all to be paid for by the entertainment proprietor. 1 suggest that the Treasurer might intimate that the Department is prepared to have this auditing done by Government auditors, who are to be found in each of the States, so that the charge may not fall on the proprietors of the houses of entertainment. Many people think that those proprietors are making “ a mint of money,” but, as a fact, those who are making the money are those who sell the films. If the Government are looking for extra revenue, they might, as I suggested some time ago, impose on the films an ad valorem duty instead of the 1½d. per foot as at present. However, I trust that, at any rate, the other suggestions I have made will receive attention.
.- I do not think it is of much use arguing the question at length. The Government and the party supporting them have evidently made up their minds to hurry to an election picnic.
– You are speaking as if you were not a member of the party.
– I am not. The Government are getting ready its election pabulum beforehand. But. as I said recently in ‘ my few remarks on the Budget, -I do not altogether regard that as unusual. Governments have a tendency to do that sort of thing. However, I should not have risen but for two observations, one by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) and another by the Leader of the On-position (Mr. Charlton). The Treasurer disclaimed the idea that his ds an election Budget, and that this proposal is a sop to a certain class of voters - he claimed that it arose out of an idea of helping development and production. The Treasurer did it very neatly and humourously, but the manner in which he advanced the argument convinced me that he, like an accomplished Lothario, is throwing the “ glad eye “ at the elector. He did not give us the serious reason behind the proposal. There is no possible connexion, I take leave to say, between this gift and the increase of production and development in this country. We would be sinners if we acknowledged the force of the honorable gentleman’s contention, and children if we believed it. We know that there is a desire to give back something to the people. Whether that be right or wrong is another matter. The Treasurer told us that the imposition of the tax was a war measure, which, during the six years of its operation, has earned us £2,500,000; and that now it is proposed to ease down the tax in order to give the taxpayers relief. This is the first measure of relief that is the outcome of the Budget proposals. It has been hurried on, whereas we have merely had notice of the land tax and income-tax reductions. This is the drum-major in the advance of taxation relief.
– The Farmers party got its gift yesterday.
– That gift was to still the wicked tongues, of that party, and it has not done so. Those of us who were in the House at the time will remember the introduction of this tax. It was to. aid war finance, and as soon as we can take off taxation which was imposed deliberately to finance the continuous cost of the war, we should do so. I agree, too, that this is a more appropriate form of taxation for the provincial legislatures than for the national legislature to impose. But although the war is over, a- burden of debt of about £400,000,000 rests on us, together with the cost of war pensions and repatriation charges. Although the war is finished, and peace theoretically with us, we must keep a considerable lump of the war taxation in force until our war debt has entirely disappeared. I do not object to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) arguing as he did, seeing that an election is at hand; because it is the duty of an Opposition to be patriotically indignant about everything that a Government do; but when he searched in the well of truth, and dug up from it a few real gems, he dug up some mud with them. It is not fair to say, either here or in the constituencies, that the cost of the war is still bearing more heavily than it should upon the poorer people in the community.
– I think that it is, and I have always said so. I do not believe in the poor people paying it ‘ at all; I believe in the wealth of the coun-try paying for the war. I have always said that.
– That is another matter. I have heard members sitting on the same side as the honorable member say that they believed in equality of sacrifice; that you should not put all the burden on riches because they are riches, but that you should adjust the load to the shoulders of the people as they are able to bear it. In a democratic community that seems the fairest of the many canons of taxations.
– On this side we have always contended that income taxation and other taxation should commence at a certain standard of wealth, which should be high enough not to tax the ordinary workers’ wages.
– That has been a frequent contention; but if the figures are analyzed it will be seen that very fewbear the burden of income taxation. Comparing the number of adult wageearners with the number of persons who pay income tax, the latter appear very few indeed, and the Treasurer proposes to increase the exemption and make them fewer still. Then, if you go further, and see how small a part of the income tax revenue is contributed by the small taxpayers, and how few are the rich who bear the greater part of the burden, you get another disproportion. Broadly speaking, this is the position : that 4 per cent. of the taxpayers contribute 80 per cent. of the income tax revenue.
– But it isthey who have the wealth.
– They have reproductive forces in their wealth, and that is why the taxation is levied on them. They have to pay heavily, because we grade so steeply with our system of curves.
– If you put a stiff income tax on property owners, they pass it on to their tenants.
– It is not only property owners who are taxed, but income earners as well. Among these are professional men, whose contributions on the personal exertion curve rise very high. We tax highly not only wealth but exertion, and exertion of the best type and of the utmost service to the community. The most eminent surgeon, who enjoys the most lucrative practice, confers inestimable benefits on his fellow men, rich and poor, in both his private practice and his hospital work, and we levy on such a man a rate which is too steep.
– Fees for operations are nearly double what they were ten years ago. Dr. Earle Page knows that.
– Luckily I cannot speak on the subject from personal experience, and the more the time that Dr. Earle
Page spends in this arena, the less he will know on the subject of fees. Let us admit in regard to the proposal under discussion that the underlying reason for it is our desire to give a concession to the people that we think they should receive.
.- In view of the financial position of the country, as shown in the Budget, there is no urgent call for the removal of this tax, and I do not think that the Treasurer should have proposed its repeal. A tax on entertainments is not like a tax on food or clothing or other necessaries. If one visits the picture theatres in the great cities of the Commonwealth, he will find that they are crowded both day and night. Young men and young women frequent these stuffy halls constantly, paying prices ranging from1s.to 3s. and 4s. for admission. So great is the demand for places that often, unless one books seats beforehand, it is difficult to get into a house of entertainment. The rush to places of amusement is inordinate.
– Did I not see the honorable member at Spangles the other night?
– I do not wish it to be thought that I do not go to places of amusement. My contention is that excessive indulgence in this pleasure is not conducive to the health or the morals of the people, so far as the greater part of the entertainments is concerned. The pictures which were shown to us in the Queen’s Hall to-night were highly informative, but, as a rule, it is not pictures of that type that are shown in the picture theatres. The financial position of the country makes it necessary for us to increase our production and to develop our latent resources, the natural potentialities of our land being beyond question. But why should the Government propose relief to those who are engaged in an unrestrained search for pleasure which is conducive to neither health nor character. This is not a statesmanlike proposal. Those who objectto the tax need not pay it unless they like. There is no need for any one to go to the pictures every night in the week, as many do. With some picture habitués the practice is beginning to undermine their physique, and itis a very expensive one, having regard to what is paid for admission and in train and tram fares.
What I am saying may not help me in my constituency, where there are many picture theatres, hut I speak in the interests of the country. We often see a pack of people at the doors of theatres waiting far them to be opened, and they seem willing to pay present prices. The censorship over the picture films is a recognition by the Government of a certain moral danger connected with their exhibition, and in the newspapers we rend accounts of boy desperadoes holding up trains and the like in real American style. The Treasurer would have done better had he made a proposal for the development of the country. The Prime Minister, before ‘ the last election, stated that what we need is production, and still more production. The farmer was caught in wire-netting entanglements, and last night he was given relief; but this Bill is a sop to the frequenters of picture shows who could really do without it. I shall oppose the measure. I concur in the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), when he indicated that the collection of taxes from the source under review should be a function of the States, and not of the Commonwealth. However, while the Commonwealth continues to levy this form of taxation I object to the remission ‘of any part of it.
.- I am glad that some little measure of relief, in respect of the cheaper form of amusement, is to be given. I regret that it was not afforded long ago. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) was not altogether convincing when he said that the proposal before the Committee had nothing to do with the elections; indeed, the manner in which he imparted his information suggested that he himself was far from convinced in that direction. I will go further and say that the Treasurer gave me the impression that he considered that the proposed remissions, from beginning to end, were in the nature of a sop to one class or another of the electors. The proposition under review is one which the Labour party has urged for many months past. My sole criticism is that it does not go far enough. I do not see why there should be a tax collected upon any form of entertainment to which the price of admission is ls., that amount being practically the minimum at which people nowadays can look for amusement. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) waxed indignant against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and charged him with unfairness in asserting that the poor pay more than their fair share of the country’s taxes.
– I said that it was not correct to make such an assertion. That is all.
– It is correct to say so; I repeat what my leader has said.” The workers of Australia are compelled to pay taxes upon incomes which are considerably below the’ basic wage. Is it right that many wage-earners, whose families are actually living below the bread-line, should be made to contribute large aggregate sunns by way of income taxation to the revenue of a country in which many thousands of people are able to indulge in luxurious extravagances, to the extent, indeed, of millions of pounds? I go further than the Leader of the Opposition, and will say that it is the workers who really pay the whole of the taxation of this country. I invite honorable members to examine the balancesheets of the wealthy companies of this land. Investigation will reveal that, for every £1 of taxation paid by the welltodo, another £1 has been put into their pockets after it has been drawn from those of the working people. Those in receipt of humble incomes should be favoured with even more far-reaching remissions than have beeen proposed. When the honorable member for Balaclava speaks of 4 per cent, of the taxpayers contributing SO per cent, of the total of income taxation, I would remind him that he is merely emphasizing the disparity existing to-day between the workers and the wealthy. If the aggregate of taxation appears to bear heavily upon the rich it is only because they have possessed themselves of an inordinate share of this world’s goods. I support the proposed remission, but I emphasize that it is not sufficiently farreaching. I have no time, however, for the “kill- joy” attitude of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse). . Apparently, he would not have any one seek any degree of relaxation by way of entertainment, in picture form or otherwise. The great objection raised against picture shows is that they are a form of amusement in which the poor can afford to indulge. I have never heard the honorable member for Swan and his like make any criticism of the huge aggregate of money spent upon luxuries in Australia. Millions of pounds are annually wasted by people who live in the lap of luxury ; but because the working man takes his wife and children along to a picture show once a week, and so crowds all these forms of entertainment by reason of sheer numbers, the “ killjoys “ hold up their hands in holy horror that there should be any means of amusement and relaxation open to the toiler after his hours of hard work day by day. “ I trust that before another election looms ahead - so providing further opportunity to throw out sops to various classes of electors - the Government will extend these remissions of taxation.
.- I would not have risen to speak but for what I may term the dreadful appeal to class hatred which has just been indulged in.. I understand that the proposal before the Committee, which I support, will involve a remission of taxation to the extent of about £100,000 per annum. I fail to see that this proposal affords any reasonable opportunity or excuse for stirring up class hatred. It should not raise the question of the taxation of any one specific class in the community as compared with any other class. There is, in the proposal itself, no suggestion that one class is taxed too heavily while another is taxed too lightly. My own opinion is that all classes in this country are taxed too severely, and that there should be all-round remissions and relaxations. The release from taxation of the admission ticket under ls. for picture shows will afford relief to many of the people who are least able to pay taxes. However, there are other classes of entertainment beside moving pictures. While I am not personally concerned in taxation imposed upon this form of entertainment, there are varieties of relaxation in which I am deeply interested, and which, in my view, are of infinitely greater national importance. I refer to a class of entertainment to which the terms “ exhilarating “ and “ invigorating” can be much more appropriately applied than to picture shows.
– Tell us of a few of them.
– It will, perhaps, satisfy the consistent yearning of the honorable member for information if I mention one intellectual relaxation which has never received adequate consideration from this House. I have on other occasions raised my voice in favour of the exemption of all forms of country dancing from the entertainments tax. On the first occasion, when I spoke of this matter, my words fell on rather unsympathetic ears. I can only hope that in the light of wider experience, especially that which I understand some honorable members have hadat a place known as Dixieland, where, in my opinion, the Federal Capital should be situated, I shall receive a better measure of support on this occasion. I do not think enough is done in this country to encourage a most enjoyable and social form of relaxation, namely, modern dancing. In my own electorate I have done my best to cultivate and spread the light in regard to this matter, not only by precept, but also, in a humble way, by example.
– To the honorable member it may be calisthenics, but I call it dancing. I have received correspondence from people who have organized country dances, andwho have found their efforts in behalf of charity circumscribed by this tax ; some of them have even been out of pocket. In other countries much more is done to encourage that most delightful and sociable form of relaxation - dancing. In America a commencement has been made with community dancing. We have introduced into Australia community singing; I hope we shall soon have community dancing also. In one American city the people enjoy block dancing. The inhabitantswithin a particular city block apply to the municipality to be allowed to hold a dance. If permission is granted, the municipality provides the band, the police keep all forms of vehicular traffic away from that area, and the people dance on the footpaths and roads for two or three hours in the afternoon or evening.
– Is it compulsory for people in that area to dance?
– Everybody in the area does dance, and compulsion is not necessary. The municipalities in this country should provide band music for the public much more freely than they do at pre- sent. Whilst supporting this resolution, I shall, whenever I have the opportunity, recommend that ‘ both the Government and the municipalities do more than they are doing now to encourage and cultivate all forms of those delightful, useful, and intellectual entertainments I have indicated.
– I give somewhat reluctant support to the proposal made by the Treasurer. My reluctance is due to two reasons - One, that the £100,000 proposed to be remitted will be taken, not from savings made by the Government, but from the accumulated surplus; and, two, because I think the Treasurer has missed an opportunity of, at all events, endeavouring to make the class of entertainments which have been the subject of discussion a little more intellectual than they are. The Treasurer stated, amongst other things, that the remission of the tax upon tickets on pictures would encourage the education of young Australians.
– I did not say that.
– At all events, the word “ educational “ was used in addition to the phrase “ exhilarating relaxation.”
– Yes; but I did not mention picture shows only.
– I think the Treasurer made a general remark that the reduction of the tax on lower-priced tickets would afford some ‘ encouragement to the education of the children. Some honorable members will recollect that about two years ago a proposal was made for the remission of the entertainments tax on tickets of under 3s. In view of our knowledge of Commonwealth finance since that proposal was made, honorable members will agree that it was well that another place rejected it, because by so doing it enabled the Treasurer and his predecessor to collect a sum of about £500,000 which otherwise would not have been collected, but which the people have paid freely. It would be better for the young people in the Commonwealth if the Government were to exercise a little more rigid control over the films that are shown. We know to our sorrow that our picture entertainments are . practically Americanized. What with American pictures, American books, American methods, and American slang, it is about time that a little more control was exercised by the powers that be. In connexion with this remission of £100,000 of entertainments taxation, I should have liked to see the Treasurer discriminate and differentiate, if possible, between that which is educational and that which is not. Coming to the House tonight I passed a picture show where the piece de resistance was entitled. “ Is the Lady legally Married?” If the Treasurer thinks that subject is educational, I do not. Of course, it may be educational in regard to the divorce laws, but I would give no sort of encouragement to young Australians to see pictures of that sort. I believe it would have been possible, if careful thought had been given to the proposals now before the Committee, to afford some relief in respect of entertainments that are purely educational. I would have preferred some alternative proposals that would give a little more consideration in respect of tickets up to ls., or ls. 6d. if you like, to entertainments in the form of music, art, or literature. If care and thought had been given to the consideration of how best to remit £100,000 worth of entertainments tax, the Government could have given some stimulus and aid to the betterment of the character of the young community, instead of producing the slapdash proposal that is now before us. This remission of taxation could have been done in a better way. Picture shows as they are run to-day, with exclusively American films, in the interests of an American Combine, are not educational in any way, and I believe that even now the Government could make some regulations whereby the young people of Australia could see with greater freedom, some of the very high-class educations! films that are being produced in England and other parts of Europe.
– I wish that we could see a few of them in Australia.
– I wish we could; but, unfortunately, we are not able to get them. If, however, thought had been given to the subject, the interests of education could have been furthered by encouraging the exhibition of some of the best industrial, scientific and travel pictures which are being produced in parts of the world other than America. I repeat, that I give a most reluctantsupport to the proposal now “before the Committee.
.- I enter my protest against this proposal. I do not desire to attack picture0 shows or other amusements in any way. If the poor people could be given free entertainments, I would be well pleased. But the huge Budget presented by the Treasurer shows that during the current year the Commonwealth is to incur a heavy loss. Only a few nights ago we passed a Loan Bill for twelve million pounds. If we are in a position to remit taxation to the amount of £100,000 in this particular sphere, it should be remitted in respect to items that would be of very much greater benefit to the community as a whole. The Commonwealth has a multiplicity of very serious liabilities. The amount of relief that will be given per capita by this remission is so small as to be not worth while, especially when we take into consideration that the great war for our freedom has placed upon our people a debt of £380,000,090. Having regard to the purpose for which that expenditure was incurred, and the advantage it has conferred upon Australia, people should be prepared to contribute to the funds of the Commonwealth in any such reasonable form as the tax upon entertainments. So far as income, tax is concerned, the Government are proposing to increase the exemption to single men of £104 to £200. That will relieve single men who can well afford to contribute toward the expenditure of the Commonwealth, and it is their bounden duty to so contribute, in view of our enormous war conun.itnien.ts and all that- has been done for Australia. The liabilities of the Australian people include a national debt of approximately £800,000,000, an annual war pensions bill of approximately £7,000,000, and other recurring amounts of £5,000,000 for old-age and invalid pensions, and £700,000 foi- the maternity allowance. Those commitments are very large; and when we take into consideration the small amount of relief that this remission of £100,000 on amusements means to the individual, but how great is the need for revenue in the aggregate, I feel that it would be false economy to do as the Treasurer proposes. On those grounds. I protest against this motion.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in his Budget originally intended to show a surplus of £500,000, and to that extent I am willing to reduce taxation, because I consider that a reduction of taxation generally is most necessary for the pro gress of the country, but I cannot support the resolution submitted to-day or any other proposal for a reduction of taxation without a corresponding reduction in our expenditure, when the Budget actually proposes to show a deficit of something like £2,800,000. That is not my idea of finance. It has been said that the entertainments tax was imposed as a war measure, but we must also remember that since the war stopped we. have added about £140,000,000 to our Commonwealth debt. In any case, the first remission of taxation should.be a reduction of the income tax of the lower grade of taxpayers who have large families. I would vote for such a reduction with pleasure to the extent of £500,000, but I am not in favour of the remissions proposed by the Treasurer to-day without the equally necessary reductions in our expenditure.
– When this matter was discussed last session I was one- of those who gave every assistance I could render to the Government to enable them to retain this tax. On that occasion the Opposition took exactly the same position as they are talking now, namely,’ that the tax on amusements should not be levied on the lower-priced tickets. What has. happened since the Government fought so vigorously to retain the tax on the lower-priced tickets? Has the position of the finances improved? My opinion is that it is far better to tax luxuries and amusements than to tax the necessaries of life or poverty. If we are prepared to throw away a certain amount of revenue there are other avenues in which it can be done - notably, that which has just been mentioned by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt).
– Does the honorable member regard entertainments as a luxury ?
– Any form of amusement tax is a tax on luxury as compared with the taxation which presses so heavily on men with large families, particularly the Customs Tariff, and the income tax. I often wonder how these men manage to get along as well as they do on a small wage. These are the people to whom we should give our first relief if we are to remit any form of taxation. We are commencing at the wrong end by reducing the tax upon amusements.
Every shilling which is taken from a man with a large family deprives him and his family of some necessary of life, and I trust that when we are dealing, at a later stage, with the income tax proposals of the Government, greater discrimination will be made as between single men and those with large families. But again I repeat: What has happened since this matter was last before us, when the Government fought the Opposition with all the strength they could assemble in order to prevent giving the remission which is now proposed? The Senate refused to reduce thetax, and the Government accepted their verdict gleefully, and, when asked by the Opposition to adhere to their first proposal to remit the tax on lowerpriced tickets, fought for its retention. I think that the amount of revenue they have secured in that way has helped to keep the national ledger straight. This is not the time for the remission of any taxation on amusements. Any relief we can afford to give should be extended to those with large families who are now burdened by Customs duties upon the necessaries of life and by the income tax. Apart altogether from the question of proposing duties for the protection of Australian industry there are items in the Customs Tariff schedule which do not afford protection to any industry, and yet press very heavily on the class of the community in whose interests I a,m now speaking. If we are to give relief , it should be in the direction where it is most needed, that is to say, on necessaries of life rather than upon amusements. In the circumstances, I cannot support the Government’s proposal.
Question - That the motion be agreed to -put. The Committee divided.
Majority .. 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 2269).
.- This is really a machinery Bill, and one chiefly for consideration in Committee. There are, however, two or three matters which,perhaps, call for some little discussion. Provision is made by the Bill against a vote being recorded in more than tone electorate, for the grouping system, and for the prevention of impersonation. These are the chief objects of the Bill. As to the grouping, I do not know that it will not be an improvement on the existing method. It will permit parties to have their respective candidates grouped, and in this way the voters will be assisted at the polling booth. At any rate, the system may tend to reduce the large number of informal votes that were discovered at the last election.
– It will very much increase the power of the machine.
– It may do something in that direction; but the party on this side of the House stands to lose more under this Bill than any party in the chamber.
– Not under the grouping system.
– I am referring to the interjection by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) in regard te the. power of the machine. In electoral matters the party on this side stand in a much worse position than any party in the Chamber, and that fact is responsible, to a large extent,for the poor showing we made in the Senate elections on. the last occasion. Whether candidates be grouped or not, the factremains that when voters are compelled to vote for up to seven candidates, a’ good deal of confusion must arise. Seven candidates must be voted for, and in cases where four candidates are to be elected, as will exist in two States on this occasion, it will mean that nine candidates must be voted for, the Act providing that there must be double the number to be elected, plus one. Inasmuch as we on this side generally run three candidates only, there may. on the other side, be two groups, with, probably, an independent candidate, and a voter who favours the candidates who are against Labour naturally votes so as to leave the Labour candidates out. whether there be grouping or not. That is the disadvantage we on this side suffer under the Act as it was amended previously. The Bill before us may reduce the number of informal votes to an extent, but it will not do justice to us on this side of the House. We run three candidates, but Labour electors are compelled to record seven votes, thus giving four votes to our opponents: and I admit frankly that Labour supporters are very reluctant to vote for those whose principles they do not approve of. On the other side, there may be three Country party candidates and three Nationalist candidates, with an independent, and those opposed to Labour vote for the whole lot.
– At the last election in New South Wales, the Country party ran only one candidate.
– But there were several other candidates who were not Labour candidates, and the result was that the votes were given to the seven men outside Labour, who did not, in those cases, get a vote. This Bill gives no relief to this side of the House. I cannot see how, even if the electors showed by a majority that they favoured Labour at the next appeal to the country for this House, we can hope to have the decision reflected in another place under this Bill. To me that appears absolutely impossible. Although we may have a majority of the votes in Australia, we cannot get that fact reflected in the elections for the Senate.
– None of those votes for your political opponents are counted until, your candidates aredefeated.
– That all depends on circumstances at a later stage. No party is likely to get its candidates elected at the first count. A candidate for the Senate at the last election forfeited his deposit on the first count, and yet, when the counting was completed, he was returned.
– It was farcical.
– Of course it was, and the legislation was intended to be a farce; it was passed for a political purpose. The Labour party has now two members in another place; and, even if we succeed in regard to this House at the forthcoming election, we cannot hope for a majority there. The electors may approve of certain principles of a party - either the Country party or the Labour party - but the fact remains that, while members are returned to give effect to those principles here, there is, because of the electoral law, a majority in another place which can prevent them being given effect to.
– There were worse results under the old system.
Mr.CHARLTON. - I do not know that that is so. There may have been some objection to the old system, but, anyhow, it was a case of “ first past the post “ ; there was, at the least, a decision by the majority of the people, and the party dominant here was also dominant in the Senate. To-day, however, the party dominant in this House find their opponents dealing with their legislation in the Senate; and it is not to the credit of the Government or of Parliament that what was done some few years ago has not been undone.
– There ought to be proportional representation for the Senate.
– I do not know; but the present method of election is very unsatisfactory, and every fair-minded man knows that it does not do justice
– A majority of one gets the whole of the seats.
– And what is the position in consequence? A party which is in the majority in the country will be in a minority in the Senate, and that is because of legislation passed specially to bring about that result.
– You would have got eighteen members under the old system.
– I doubt that very much. The Bill also deals with the matter of the deposit, to which I have already referred. Personally, I am opposed to the system that requires a deposit at all, and since I have been in this House I have attempted on many occasions to have that provision eliminated from the Act. There should be no impediment in the way of any candidate. If the electors nominate a man he should be entitled to go to the poll without the risk of losing his deposit if he fails to secure a certain number of votes. When the Bill is in Committee it will be necessary to give very careful consideration to clause 14, which provides that certain questions shall be put to a voter. The effect ofthis provision will, I believe, be to cause serious congestion in pollingbooths, especially in thickly-populated areas, between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening, when, as a rule, large numbers of electors are rushing to record their votes.
– It will not be necessary to put all those questions.
– If only the first two questions, namely, as to whether an elector has voted at the polling-place or elsewhere in the election, or if his place of living is within the division, are put to every person wishing ito record a vote, considerable time must be occupied. It is highly probable that the congestion in the booth before the hour of closing will prevent other electors from gaining admission, and thus they will be prevented from exercising the franchise. It is doubtful whether, in its application, the clause will not do more harm than good. Generally speaking, the provisions dealing with impersonation will be acceptable to honorable members, but it is undesirable to have such a long list of questions. Many people, especially womenfolk, have some diffidence about approaching the polling-booth, because of the nature of certain questions that may be asked them. The provision requiring an elector to indicate the order of his preference up tothe seventh candidate is likely to lead to a good deal of informality in the voting. Most of the clauses are, I think, necessary to remedy certain shortcomings that have been disclosed in the working of our election machinery.
I trust, however, that when the Bill is in Committee we shall have ample time for the consideration of these new proposals. This is not a party measure. It is designed to insure the conduct of elections in the best possible manner, and we ought to be able to put our heads together and make the measure as perfect as possible. We shall have no opportunity of touching the main principle of the Bill. The Government are responsible for that, and will, no doubt, stand to the Bill; but I hope that in other respects they will be prepared to accept whatever amendments may be deemed necessary.
.- The Bill raises questions of the most vital importance, and, therefore, it requires full and adequate discussion. I appeal to the Minister; in charge (Mr. Groom.) to adjourn the debate.
-This is a Bill for the Committee stage chiefly.
– There is much to be said both for and against its provisions.
– It is essentially a Committee Bill, and we ought to reach the Committee stage to-night.
Mr. Hector Lamond interjecting,
– My honorable friend the Minister now suggests that we can sit all night. Of course we can. This is one of the privileges which we enjoy.
– It is one of the things for which we raised our salaries.
– It is one of the advantages we enjoy under the present Government. The moment an attempt is made to discuss any question of importance, no matter how vital, we are told that we can sit all night.
– Or else be “gagged.”
– It is a vulgar threat of brute force.
– I protest against these frequent threats. If any discussion is likely to take place on any of the multitudinous measures that come before us the Minister indicates that we can sit all’ night, or else be “ gagged” It is not reasonable that discussion should be prolonged at this late hour. However, if the Minister is adamant-
– It is only 10 o’clock.
– Are we to be compelled to sit all night in order to discuss this Bill ? It proposes to introduce into the law vital innovations which, I am glad to say, are absolutely unknown and foreign to the history of Democracy in Australia. One proposal to which I take the strongest objection is that for the adoption of what is known as the grouping system. I have read with the greatest care all that has been said recently in another place in favour of that system, and the reasons given appear to me absolutely inadequate. As a matter of fact, the only explanation of the proposal is that an election is approaching, and a certain party finds itself in extremis.
– - The honorable member should not despair of his prospects.
– I have been taunted before concerning my prospects.
– Therefore, you should be the less ready to taunt others.
– I apologize if I have uttered any taunt.
– Ministers should keep order.
– It seems impossible for Ministers to refrain from interjecting when a member tries to throw light on the methods by which they propose to conduct public affairs. If they could show any reason whatever why the system of marking the Senate ballot-papers in the ordinary way should be altered; if that system had failed, or had caused confusion, or had brought about an unusual number of invalid papers, there might be some justification for changing it. The implication of the proposal in the Bill is that the electors of Australia are so ignorant that unless the names of Senate candidates are grouped in a fashion that has been adopted in some foreign countries, they cannot mark the ballot-papers intelligently. There is not the slightest warrant for that implication. The experience of the last election proves that where people are reasonably educated, as they are in Australia, they can without the slightest difficulty mark the list of candidates from which they have to choose. The only thing to be said in favour of the grouping system is that it gives to the nominees of the machines of the various parties an enormous advantage over candidates who may not be well known, and who have not curried favour with those running party organizations. The grouping system is not only foreign to’ the ideas of the Australian people, but permits the electors to be influenced unfairly by the organiza tions responsible for the grouping. This leads to the exclusion of men as suitable as, and often much more suitable than, those who have the party support. The matter is one to be discussed more fully in Committee; but as the second -reading stage provides the opportunity for criticising the vital principles of the measure, it is not improper to draw attention now to the exceedingly vicious, unfair, and repressive character of this proposal. One must admit that there is some disadvantage attached to the alphabetical arrangement of the names of candidates on a ballot-paper, but there are other ways of getting over it besides the adoption of the grouping system.
– What does the honorable member suggest T
– When names are printed in alphabetical order, the candidates who are not well known, and whose names appear about the middle or towards the end of a list, are at a disadvantage. A name so well known as that of the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) can appear towards the end of a list on a ballot-paper without injury to its owner, but where the names of candidates are not well known the owner of that which first strikes the eye has a considerable advantage.
– My name would appear early.
– Were my honorable friend unknown, he would be at a great advantage under the present system; but he is so well’ known that it would not make the slightest difference to his chances whether his name appeared first, last, or in the middle of a list. Wherever it might be, it would be eagerly sought by those who hold the same views as he does, and look upon him as the most ardent and eloquent advocate of them. The difficulty upon which I am dwelling might be got over by not having the list of names printed in the same order on all the ballot-papers.
– Is it your suggestion that the names of candidates should be arranged in a different manner for different divisions?
– Suppose, for the sake of my argument, that 1,000,000 ballotpapers were to be printed for a. State in which there were ten candidates for the Senate, it would be easy to print 100,000 ballot-papers in v alphabetical order, another 100,000 with the second name at the top and the first name at the bottom, and so on until every candidate’s name had appeared once on the top and once in every other position in the list. Each would then have the same chance. I do not propose to move an amendment to give effect to that suggestion, because I do not consider that at the present moment the public are sufficiently educated in this matter; but what I propose would provide a solution of the present difficulty. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has, with great force, indicated the enormous disadvantage of the present electoral law. I think it was interjected by the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hector Lamond) that the present system is not as bad as that which preceded it. There is very little doubt upon that point. The peculiar feature of the present system is that it provides, in a most efficient manner, for the whole of the senators, as far as possible, to be elected by the party that happens to possess a slight numerical majority. If, for instance, one party is supported by 51 per cent, of the electors, and the other party is supported by only 49 per cent., provided the voters are so well organized by the party machine that they will vote as directed, the party with the slight majority returns the whole of the members of the Senate. We have seen this travesty of representative government in the fact that, prior to the death of Senator Adamson, there was only one Labour member in the Senate, although the Labour vote at the last election represented about 45 .per cent, of the people. Although this form of election is highly efficient for the purpose for which it was designed, it is fundamentally opposed to the principle of representative government. Seeing that we shall have an opportunity to discuss this matter further when the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I do not now intend to go exhaustively into the question of proportional representation. Our present method of election is almost unknown throughout the world, except as regards our Senate, and it was devised for the purpose of excluding any representation at all of the party not in a minority. There is a better method that could be employed, and one that would only involve an alteration in regard to the system of counting the votes. I refer to proportional representation, which has been in practice for many years in Tasmania, and has since been adopted in New South Wales.
– New South Wales is tired of it already.
– The honorable member and those whom he represents may be, but the people of New South Wales have given no evidence of being tired of it. On the other hand, they have returned members in support of proportional representation with a larger majority than they had when that principle was first introduced. Party organizers may be tired of it, because it enables the electors to be represented adequately by the men whom they desire to represent them. The people should have a chance of casting their votes, and of having them counted, under an efficient and enlightened system. This is not possible under the present law, and I regret to notice that the Government are endeavouring, by this Bill, to continue to impose upon the people the present inequitable electoral system.
– I agree with the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) as to the principles that should underlie an Electoral Bill. Our present system is obsolete. In 1910, Labour secured eighteen seats, and the opponents of Labour none, in the Senate. In 1919, .the Labour party obtained one seat out of eighteen. Such a system does not secure the representation of the electors proportionately, and we should try to give representation on the basis of the strength of the great sections of the electors. To do what is required would mean defeating the Government and sending the Bill back, and there is little hope of outvoting the Ministerial party, so the best course is to try to improve the measure as we have it.
I have one or two suggestions to offer. The Bill certainly does improve the existing Act, but only in a machinery way. There is a good deal of difficulty in connexion with the postal vote, considering the results we have obtained from. it. I do not see why it is necessary to have, an authorized witness to sign an application. This is not required in the States, and it provides no check. All the check . required would be given if the voter had his ballot-paper signed by an authorized witness. This could be checked by the Returning Officer, with the application form, but to require an authorized witness to sign both papers is putting people to a lot of extra trouble. In a case where there is illness in a family, it means bringing an authorized witness on two occasions to a sick person, and that causes unnecessary worry. I certainly think the postal vote should be safeguarded. It is a dangerous vote, and I have never liked it. I urge the Minster (Mr. Groom) to reconsider the clause, and to have it amended so that the one authorized witness may be sufficient, both in respect of the application form and of the other.
I have a more serious objection to raise in connexion with clause 13, which deals with the important principle of absent voting. The proposed substitution of the word “may” for “shall” is likely to have the effect of robbing certain electors who desire to exercise the right of absent voting of their opportunity to do so owing to the withholding of the necessary papers. Absentee voting comprises one of the advantages of our electoralsystem, but much of the advantage will be withdrawn if the proposed amendment is adopted. The last Ballarat election afforded an experience of the refusal, or inability,of electoral officials to provide electors with voting papers. It was the lack of provision for absent voting at one particular polling place which amongst other things caused the election to be upset. If the amendment indicated in clause 13 is agreed to, the effect will be to allow such an incident to occur again, but without any penalties accruing. No doubt, it was the Ballarat dispute which has occasioned the proposed amendment. Under the existing law any elector may enter any polling booth and cast his vote in respect of the division of which he is an elector.
– If the amendment is agreed to, an elector may attend a polling booth without any certainty whether he will be given a vote or not.
– That is so. The Minister (Mr. Groom) may ask how the Electoral Department can be expected to provide in every small polling booth throughout the land against the contingency of hundreds of electors demanding absent voting papers. Ample provision can always be made. No contingency could be so unexpected as to catch a Returning Officer unprepared. I may relate the incident which occurred at the Duverney polling booth, in the Division of Ballarat. A number of men were employed as navvies on the construction of a railway fairly near to the booth. Naturally, upon leaving work, they went to the nearest polling place in order to cast their votes, but a majority of them were unable to secure papers because the Presiding Officer had not made the necessary provision. He should have foreseen, however, that in respect of this railway work, which had been going on for some time, there would be numbers of men who would be likely to call at the booth in order to vote as absentees. The inability of the officer at the Duverney polling place to provide sufficient absent voting papers was one of the causes for the upsetting of the Ballarat election. The intention behind the amendment, I repeat, is to obviate the possibility of such a penalty in future. It is only right that such a cause should be deemed to be sufficient and ample for declaring an election void where the number is sufficient to affect the result. I cannot conceive of any emergency which should catch a Returning Officer unprepared for the attendance of at least a reasonable number of absent voters.
I have only a few words to say upon the grouping proposals. I do not see much objection to them while, at the same time, I am not greatly enamoured of them. The grouping system is claimed to be a recognition of parties. Under this measure, however, there will be not so much a recognition of parties as of individual candidates. I shall cite a hypothetical case to illustrate my point. I suggest that three candidates are selected to represent the Labour party. These are to be grouped. Our party nominates them as our group. There is nothing in this measure, however, which will prevent a dozen other candidates from describing themselves also as Labour nominees, and from being included in our group.
– All the candidates whose names are in a group must agree to the inclusion of all those who desire to have their names placed in that group.
– If that is distinctly provided for, I shall refrain from further criticism until the measure is discussed in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Earle
Bill returned from the Senate, with requests.
Bill presented by Mr. Rodgers, and read a first time.
– (By leave). - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a mere formality to give effect to the resolutions approved of in Committee yesterday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I heard the Minister say that this Bill was a purely formal measure to confirm the resolutions approved of in Committee yesterday. I desire to inquire when the Minister proposes to bring in the Bounty Bill, which will he substituted for these duties, and whether ‘ there will he any interregnum between the date of the abolition of the duties, as decided upon by this House yesterday, and the payment of the bounties which the Minister has promised in substitution therefor. Obviously, if there is an interregnum or any doubt about what Parliament will do, at least three important industries will be entirely sacrificed.
.- The Bounties Bill, I hope, willbe submitted to the House on Wednesday next. Provision will he made for the bounties to operate immediately the duties cease. There willbe no deprivation of the benefits of Protection, and manufacturers may proceed in the conduct of their businesses with the knowledge that the effects of the remission of the duties will be compensated for by the bounties, and that there will be no interval between the two.
Bill agreed to, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
Order of the Day (on motion by Mr. Bruce) discharged; Bill withdrawn.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
House adjourned at 10.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220914_reps_8_100c1/>.