10th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
TheClerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the GovernorGeneral for the opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the . Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath entered the chamber.
The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Right Honorable Isaac Alfred Isaacs, P.C., a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by. members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk announced that he had received returns to the 75 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives held on the 14th November, 1925.
The following honorable” members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
Abbott, Charles Lydiard Aubrey, Esquire, Gwydir, New South Wales. “
Anstey, Frank, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.
Atkinson, Hon. Llewelyn, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Bayley, James Garfield, Esquire, Oxley, Queensland.
Bell, George John, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., Darwin, Tasmania.
Blakeley, Arthur, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales.
Bowden, Hon. Eric Kendall, Parramatta, New ‘South Wales.
Brennan, Frank, Esquire, Batman, Victoria.
Bruce, Right Hon. Stanley Melbourne, P.C., M.C., Flinders, Victoria.
Cameron, Donald Charles, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., Brisbane, Queensland.
Cameron, Malcolm Duncan, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.
Charlton, Matthew, Esquire, Hunter, New South Wales.
Coleman, Percy Edmund, Esquire, Reid, New South Wales.
Cook, Robert, Esquire, Indi, Victoria.
Corser, Edward Bernard Cresset, Esquire, Wide Bay, Queensland.
Duncan-Hughes, John Grant, Esquire, M.V.O., M.C., Boothhy, South Australia.
Fenton, James Edward, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Forde, Francis Michael, Esquire, Capricornia, Queensland.
Foster, Hon. Richard Witty, Wakefield, South Australia.
Francis, Grosvenor Arundell, Esquire, Kennedy, Queensland.
Francis, Josiah, Esquire, Moreton, Queensland.
Gardner, Sydney Lane, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.
Gellibrand, Sir John, K.C.B., D.S.O., Denison, Tasmania.
Gibson, Hon. William Gerrand, Corangamite, Victoria.
Green, Albert Ernest, Esquire, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Green, Roland Frederick Herbert, Esquire, Richmond, New South Wales.
Groom, Hon. Sir Littleton Ernest, K.C.M.G., K.C., Darling Downs, Queensland.
Gullett, Henry Somer, Esquire, Henty, Victoria.
Hill, Hon. William Caldwell, Echuca, Victoria.
Howse, Hon. Sir Neville Reginald, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., Calare, New South Wales.
Hughes, Right Hon. William Morris, P.O., K.C., North Sydney, New South Wales.
Hunter, James Aitchieson Johnston, Esquire, Maranoa, Queensland.
Hurry, Geoffry, Esquire, D.S.O., V.D., Bendigo, Victoria.
Jackson, David Sydney, Esquire, Bass, Tasmania
Johnson, Hon. Sir Elliot, K.C.M.G., Lang, New South Wales.
Killen, William Wilson, Esquire, Riverina, New South Wales.
Lacey, Andrew William, Esquire, Grey, South Australia.
Lambert, William Henry, Esquire, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Latham, John Greig, Esquire, C.M.G., K.C., Kooyong, Victoria.
Lazzarini, Hubert Peter, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Listor, John Henry, Esquire, Corio, Victoria.
Mackay, George Hugh, Esquire, Lilley, Queensland.
Mahony, William George, Esquire, Dalley, New’ South Wales. .
Makin, Norman John Oswald, Esquire, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Maloney, William, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.
Mann, Edward Alexander, Esquire, Perth, Western Australia.
Manning, Arthur Gibson, Esquire, Macquaric, New South Wales.
Marks, Walter Moffit, Esquire, Wentworth, New South Wales.
Marr, Hon. Charles William Clanan, D.S.O., M.C., Parkes, New South Wales.
Mathews, James, Esquire, Melbourne Ports, Victoria,
Maxwell, George Arnot, Esquire, Fawkner, Victoria.
McGrath, David Charles, Esquire, Ballarat, Victoria.
Moloney, Parker J ohn, Esquire, Hume, New South Wales.
Nott, Lewis Windermere, Esquire, Herbert, Queensland.
Page, Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New South. Wales.
Parsons, Walter Langdori, Esquire, Angas, South Australia.
Paterson, Thomas, Esquire, Gippsland, Victoria.
Pratten, Hon. Herbert Edward, Martin, New South Wales.
Prowse, John Henry, Esquire, Forrest, Western Australia.
Riley, Edward, Esquire, South Sydney, New South Wales.
Riley, Edward Charles, Esquire, Cook, Now South Wales.
Rodgers, Hon. Arthur Stanislaus, Wannon,. Victoria.
Ryrie, Hon. Sir Granville de Laune, K.C.M.G., C.B., V.D., Warringah, New South Wales.
Scullin, James Henry, Esquire, Yarra, Victoria.
Seabrook, Alfred Charles, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.
Stewart, Hon. Percy Gerald, Wimmera, Victoria.
Thompson, Victor Charles, Esquire, New England, New South Wales.
Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Watson, William, Esquire, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Watt, Right Hon. William Alexander, P.C., Balaclava, Victoria.
West, John Edward, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Yates, George Edwin, Esquire, Adelaide, South Australia.
The Deputy retired.
SirGRANVILLERYRIE (Warringah) [11.6]. - I move -
That the honorable member for Darling Downs Sir Littleton Groom do take the Chair of the House us Speaker.
Those who have been for many years members, of this House are well aware of the qualifications of the honorable member for Darling Downs, but I remind those honorable members who are new. to the House that he has been a member of this Parliament ever since its’ first session. He has held many and various portfolios in many and various Ministries, and never at any time in his long career has there been the slightest whisper of suspicion about. or reflection upon his honour and integrity as a public man. His extended experience has given him, perhaps, a wider knowledge of the rules and procedure of Parliament than is possessed by any other member of this House. He possesses a judicial mind and will, I am confident, discharge the duties of presiding officer with strict impartiality. I think I am justified in saying that he is the ideal man for the position of Speaker.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the nomination of the honorable member for Darling Downs for the position of Speaker of this House.
.- I rise to enter my protest against the nomination of the honorable member for Darling Downs for the position of Speaker. The present personnel of this House is the result of an appeal to the country upon certain legislation and Ministerial acts which were based upon the Government’s interpretation of the Constitution. The Government acted upon the advice of men occupying high positions, who were supposed to understand the Constitution. Upon the issue placed before them by the Government, in accordance with the legal advice of these gentlemen, the people voted ; but after the election the High . Court declared that the legislation passed by the last Parliament, at the instance of the Government, and the acts of Ministers thereunder, were ultra vires. The Government then found it necessary to shift from the position of the AttorneyGeneral the Minister who had given the misleading advice, and to appoint another lawyer to do the job in the hope that a second mistake would be avoided. To elevate the disrated man to .the position of Speaker of this Parliament will be to do an injustice to the community. To some extent, I concur in what was said by the honorable member for Warringah regarding the qualifications of the aspirant to this office, but those qualifications do npt give him a right to the position. Technically, the
Speaker is elected by the House, but actually the election has been cut and dried in caucus in accordance with the terms of the pact between the parties supporting the Ministry, and at the right time something may well be said about- the honour of pacts. The honorable member for Darling Downs has been nominated by a Nationalist, and. the nomination, has been seconded by a member of the Country party, so we may regard his election as assured. The point I am emphasizing is that no sooner . was the election over, and the constitutional position in regard to deportation declared by the High Court, than the honorable member for Darling Downs retired from the position of Attorney-General, in which he had made such a mess of things.
– That is not accurate.
– I leave the public to judge whether my statement is accurate or not. The judgment of the High Court that the Deportation Act is ultra vires, and cannot fulfil the purposes for which it was passed, justifies my statement.
– I think the honorable member desires to be fair, and I assure him he. is making a mistake.
– I do desire to be fair in all circumstances, and to see the same treatment meted out to men in all spheres of society. If an ordinary working man made such a mistake as was made by the ex-Attorney-General in regard to the deportation legislation, he would not be transferred to another job, but would be “ fired.”
– His union would not allow him to be “ fired.”
– The honorable member, who is so obsessed with thoughts of bolshevism and communism, and can see nothing but those forces- overwhelming the Commonwealth, and dismembering the Empire, had a duty as a legal member of this Parliament to point out to the Government the mistake it was making in connexion with the deportation proceedings. He has legal knowledge and experience, and draws a high fee from the country for making his knowledge available to this Parliament, but when the Government was in need of some advice, the honorable member was found wanting. I voice the view of the class I represent, and I know well that if a man working at Canberra, or on the north-south line, made a huge blunder, he would be “fired” immediately instead of being transferred to a sheltered position. The nomination of the honorable member for Darling Downs for the position of Speaker is an affront to the community; it is immoral. After his long years of office, I should have thought that the honorable member would have been content to retire to the back benches, and there ponder over the mistake which led to a lowering of his political status. His resignation from the Ministry was not unexpected by me. I have been waiting for the resignation of another gentleman who was concerned in that bungle; it has not occurred yet, but in future when we quote the Annotated Constitution, we shall not refer to the authors of it as “Quick. and Garran,” but as “ Quick and the dead.” I object to the nomination, and shall vote against the motion.
– I agree with a good deal that the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) has said respecting the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom). He is respected by every honorable member of the House. He has always been courteous and obliging, and has shown himself anxious to give the best advice possible on all matters submitted to him. But he has my sympathy this morning. It is not right that the Government should seek to shelter itself behind him, nor that it should try tq. hide its mistakes by displacing him from the AttorneyGeneralship. He gave certain advice, which the Government accepted. If the advice was wrong, the Government made a mistake in accepting it. It is not an elevation of Sir Littleton Groom to take him from the Attorney-Generalship and make him Speaker. I look upon what is proposed as a slight put upon him. The honorable gentleman who took Sir Littleton Groom’s place in the Ministry gave the Government exactly the same advice as his predecessor. I well remember him doing so from his place on the cross benches opposite. He went as far as Sir Littleton Groom, if not farther. He said that the Deportation Bill was quite con stitutional, and quoted statutes and precedents in support of his contention. If Sir Littleton Groom made a mistake, so did the present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham). I do not suggest that any Minister is infallible.
– Does the honorable member think that the High Court is infallible?
– I do not. In this case the High Court has given a liberal interpretation of the Constitution, whereas the advisers of the Government gave it a narrow interpretation. When the life and liberty of the subject are at stake, the Constitution should be interpreted liberally. In the past we have complained of decisions of the High Court. We have contended that it should have been more liberal in its interpretations. The freest and widest possible interpretation of the Constitution should be given when the liberty of the subject is at stake. If the men who were arrested, under the Deportation Act committed a crime, surely our ordinary legal machinery is adequate to deal with them. It ought not to be necessary to pass a special act and to stretch the provisions of the Constitution to punish their offence. This was done simply to give the Government an election cry. We know that very well. The party to which I belong is suffering for it at present, and we believe that the whole country will suffer for it later on; but we shall bear our sufferings cheerfully, for we know that ultimately our time will come. In agreeing to take the Speakership, Sir Littleton Groom is saving the face of the Government. If I had been in his place and had been asked to retire from the AttorneyGeneralship - the next position in the Cabinet to that of the Prime Minister - and to accept the Speakership, I should certainly have declined. Speak1 ing personally, I look upon Sir Littleton Groom as a friend. I believe that he has the friendship of every honorable member. He will have difficulty in fulfilling” the duties of Speaker with the dignity and success of the last Speaker, but I believe that he will do his utmost to be courteous and kind to honorable members generally. It has been stated that he isin ill health, and that for this reason he retired from the AttorneyGeneralship. I trust that his health may improve, and that we may have the pleasure of seeing him smiling at us with his usual cordiality from Mr. Speaker’s chair. Seeing that the Government has seen fit to remove Sir Littleton Groom from the AttorneyGeneralship, I should like to know whether it proposes to re-organize the Attorney-General’s Department. The officers of the department have given the Government bad advice. It cannot be expected that the Attorney-General shall devote the whole of his time to preparing legal opinions for the Government. If there was* anything wrong with the constitutionality of the Deportation Act, there is something wrong with the department. If there was anything wrong with thi drafting of the bill, there is something wrong with the department. What has Sir Robert Garran to say about the matter ? He is the public servant who should be the guiding star of the Cabinet >n constitutional matters. Every bill thai, has come from the Attorney-General’s Department lately, especially those dealing with taxation matters, has needed amending, in consequence of faulty drafting, a month or two after Parliament has passed it. This is the fault of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The department should be thoroughly overhauled, so that we might be able to place SOme reliance on its work. I regret very much that the ex-Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) has been slighted by the Government, and I regard this proposal as a sop. The Government, by offering him the Speakership, is trying to heal the wound that it has inflicted by removing him from the AttorneyGeneralship.
– I very much regret that certain things have been said this morning. Our present business is to determine which of our number shall hold during this Parliament the high and dignified office of Speaker. I had no intention of speaking on the matter, but I feel that I must do so in justice to Sir Littleton Groom. It is quite obvious that two honorable members who have spoken this morning are under a misapprehension. U has been suggested that Sir Littleton Groom was asked to retire from the Government because of a certain decision of the High
Court. I endeavoured to correct that mistake while the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) was speaking, but I was not able to do so. The honorable member said that he desired to be fair, and I, therefore, ask him to call to mind the exact facts of the case. Sir Littleton Groom intimated to me on the 5th December, six days before the High Court judgment had been delivered, that he wished to be relieved of his portfolio. This fact has been published, and is public knowledge. Sir Littleton Groom had held office in various Ministries for a longer period, probably, than any other Minister with one exception. His desire to retire had nothing whatever to do with any judgment of the High Court. I should like honorable members to bear in mind that later on there will be ample opportunity to discuss the High Court judgment and the very wide constitutional questions that are associated with it. In determining this question, however, I hope that all opinions as to whether the Government acted wisely or not in connexion with the deportation legislation will be put on one side. To-day we are electing a Speaker, and the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has intimated that he is prepared to accept the position. Honorable members should, in considering the question before them, pay no regard to any opinions they may have as to how far the legal advisers of the Government - were wrong in connexion with the Deportation Act, and how far the decision of the High Court in this matter was a reversal of its previous decisions. I ask the House to accept my assurance that Sir Littleton Groom’s retirement had nothing to do with the decision of the High Court
– I cannot blame the Prime Minister for defending the proposal, or others for criticizing it. On many occasions in the past I have defined my attitude to the Speakership. Instead of the Speaker being elected and removed from the turmoil of politics for three years, he should be elected every session. The constituents of an honorable member who is elected Speaker ought not to be deprived of his services for as long as three years. I welcome the ex-Speaker (Mr. Watt) back to the political arena. He will no doubt recollect that I objected to his taking the Speakership, and that I said that the subsequent political history of those who became Speakers reminded me of the words, Hie jacet so often found upon tombstones. I am glad that he did not write the end of bis political career in accepting the Speakership, and I hope that he will add another to the only exception that we have had in Victoria to the general rule. Only one Speaker in this State - Sir Thomas Bent - afterwards rose to political greatness. From AttorneyGeneral to Speaker is certainly a descent. A Speaker is required to hold the scales fairly, and I am certain that Sir Littleton Groom will, do so. I have always found him a courteous, studious gentleman in every sense of the word, and I regret that he is leaving the turmoil ‘.f politics. The Prime Minister stated, correctly, that his resignation was received before the decision of the High Court was announced, but the Prime Minister knows that what the decision would be was common knowledge throughout Australia at that time.
– That statement is not correct.
– If, however, Sir Littleton Groom has decided to write Hie jacet upon his political career, I promise him that while he occupies the chair, and while I remain in this House, I will behave to him as courteously as he has behaved to me, and will obey any orders he may give. I hope that the record made by Sir Thomas Bent will be equalled by the retiring Speaker, for I should like to see two exceptions to the general rule. In public, as I have already done in private, I welcome the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) back to the floor of the House, although we shall still sit in opposition to each other. I support the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley). No matter what the Prime Minister may say, the world will think that he has removed from the position of Attorney-General a very able, studious, and clever gentleman, to make room, perhaps, for another. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), who advanced the present Attorney-General, did not receive many thanks from him when he entered this House. The public will think that Sir Littleton Groom has been made a scapegoat. Be that as it may,
Sir Robert Garran at least’ should be taken to task. I would dare the Prime Minister, or any other honorable member, to support publicly the gift of £1,000 to that gentleman and other officers of the Attorney-General’s Department. That gift was authorized by the Prime Minister, and notified in the Commonwealth Gazette. Who on earth reads the Commonwealth Gazette ? The voice of the man who drew public , attention to it cannot now. be raised here; he has been silenced by the vituperative, slanderous, and lying efforts of the press, supported by the moneypower of this country. I have never had any time for Johnson, Walsh, and Garden, whom the Government has used as bogies to frighten the people. Honorable members opposite have come back m their numbers, but I cannot believe that they all accept the lies that the press and the wealthy section of the community uttered during the election. If this Government will bring about one desirable reform, namely, the establishment of the initiative, referendum, and recall, I shall be glad to leave politics. I should like to put to the country the question, “ Which is right, the High Court judgment, or the mean, contemptible attacks on the liberty of men who, at all events, are British 1 “ Would any member of the Ministry care to face the electors and say, “ I support all the lies that have been uttered about these three men ? “ In my 37 years’ experience of political life I have not seen a Government placed in a more despicable position by a judgment of. the High Court, and I thank Heaven that there is a High Court. It is said that the Prime Minister intends to go forward with his deportation policy, but if he will take the advice of one who, at all events, tries to be an honest opponent, he will now drop the subject, and regard the rights of citizenship as sacred. At present fie is proposing to build on a foundation that may be used by his successors, and then it may be his turn to thank Heaven that there is a High Court.
, - I thank the honorable members who have moved and seconded my nomination for this important position, and respectfully submit myself to this honorable House.
.- I do not propose to oppose the election of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) as the Speaker of this House, my main reason being that I feel certain that any such opposition would not be effective. Although the honorable member is at the present moment seated among us in sartorial simplicity,- I am confident that the upholsterers are already actively engaged in preparing the garniture which we shall shortly see adorning him, and which will contribute so much to his dignity and beauty, as well as to his material warmth and general comfort during the months of January and February in which the House will be in session. I can only hope that when he assumes the robes of his high’ office he will succeed in looking a little less ferocious than his immediate predecessor. Of his predecessors it is perhaps fitting that I should say a word or two. I shall go no farther back than to my amiable and honorable friend, the member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), who has pursued the path of greatness, from the throne to the bathroom, at the behest of the Nationalist party. Referring to Sir Littleton Groom’s immediate predecessor, . I must say that in following him Sir Littleton Groom will be required to live up to a very high standard of excellence. The Speaker of the last Parliament, the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), was nearly always fair, and, when he could not see his way to be fair, he was entertaining. I am very glad that he finds himself impelled to resume his position in the fighting ranks of Parliament to give effect to the emphatic mandate which he has recently received from the pawnbrokers of St. Kilda. It has been suggested that Sir Littleton Groom will not be elevated by his election to the position of Speaker, but that he will be - to quote an honorable colleague and coin a word - “delevated” to that high office. With that view I do not agree, because I can see no reason why the Government should penalize Sir Littleton Groom for having given advice which, though bad from the legal point of view, helped it to win the election. It would be an act of base ingrati tude - and, in this connexion, I can appreciate the indignation of the Prime Minister - for one who had rendered such distinguished service to the. Government in its hour of trial to be disrated after the Government had gathered the fruits of his advice. And, in any case, why should one honorable member be displaced by another whose advice was equally bad? It must be consoling to Sir Littleton Groom to cast his eye along the brilliant phalanx of legal talent on his side of the Chamber, and to know that, without exception, they concurred in the unsound advice which he gave to the Government. I have always made it a matter of duty to defend, to the best of my ability, that profession of which I am an inconspicuous member, even, though the darts and arrows have been thrown sometimes by honorable members on this side of the House, and I regret that recent occurrences- in Federal politics have not made my task any easier in this respect. The present circumstances remind me strongly of an analogous case in which a person consulted an eminent surgeon regarding the state of his health, only to be told that his case was not one for a surgeon, but for a plumber. Among the members of the Labour party in this House, we have some tradesmen, and, in future, when intricate and involved constitutional questions arise, I shall be very deferential to any views which they may express regarding them. Having no desire to further delay the proceedings, I repeat that L do not agree with those who have suggested that Sir Littleton Groom, by his election to the Speaker’s chair, is to be disrated or relegated to the place of general ablutions; rather do I hold that he is about to be honoured and given a well deserved reward for his services. It has been stated that his elevation will enable him to enjoy a rest from the more strenuous duties of a ministerial position, but in this connexion I utter a word of warning. If Sir Littleton Groom seeks a rest, it is possible that he will not obtain it while occupying the Speaker’s chair. I regretfully admit that we on this side . are somewhat short-handed, but I assure honorable members that, notwithstanding that handicap, our output during the coming session will be not less than heretofore. I do not think I need add anything further, except to pay my tribute to the personal qualities of Sir Littleton Groom. I have known him for many years, during which we have both been members of this House, and I have a very high opinion of him personally. Indeed, I have not so poor an opinion of him as a lawyer as have some members on the other side of the chamber. Sir Littleton Groom is a genial and friendly man; he does not easily make enemies, and, in the discharge of the responsible duties of his high office as Speaker of this House, I am sure that he will be absolutely fair to all honorable members. When I said just now that i did not offer any opposition to his election as Speaker, only because any opposition on my part would not be effective, I must be understood to mean that I regarded this matter as having been already settled elsewhere - although a pretence is now made of consulting honorable members on this side - and that, therefore, it would be useless for us to oppose the nomination. I hope that in the discharge of his high office he will enjoy sustained good health. So far as I am concerned, I shall lend him all the help I can, consistent with the performance of my distinguished and onerous duties as one of the members of a reduced Opposition.
Members of the House then unanimously calling Sir Littleton Groom to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Sir Granville Ryrie and Mr. Paterson, and conducted to the chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER ELECT - standing on the upper step, said - I thank honorable members very much indeed for the great honour they have conferred upon me in selecting me as Speaker of this honorable House. I am conscious of the high traditions attaching to the position, traditions which have been worthily sustained by a long line of predecessors, whom, with the help of honorable members, I shall try to emulate. I shall do ray best to be an impartial Speaker, and I know that I can rely upon the .assistance of members of all parties in the discharge of my important duties.
– I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your election to the high office that you - are now called upon to fill. I speak, I think, for all honorable members in expressing confidence that its great traditions will ever be maintained by you. Every member of this House appreciates the services that you have rendered to the Commonwealth in the past. I think you must have gathered from the speeches that have been made that you have earned during your long parliamentary career the confidence, the respect, the good will, and also the affection of those with whom you have been associated. As the head of the Government I congratulate you, and I assure you that in the position which you now occupy you will have the support not only of the Government but also of all other honorable members, because we recognize that you are now the custodian of our rights and privileges.
.- I, too, congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election to the highest position within the gift of honorable members. I feel sure that you will discharge your high and honorable duties in an impartial manner, that you will do your best to maintain the dignity of this chamber, and to carry out your duties with credit not only to yourself but also to the assembly over which you will preside. So far as honorable members on this side of the House are concerned we shall do everything possible to assist you in the discharge of your high and honorable duties.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), ‘ and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) for their kind congratulations, which I greatly appreciate. One looks back over the 25 years of our national life with feelings of gratification. During that period we have done our part in the building up of Australia as a nation, and I think that no other Federation has, during a similar period, done its work more effectually, nor with the maintenance of greater good will between the federal and state authorities. I regret the absence of some faces that we saw in this chamber last Parliament. Three of those who are no longer with us were members when the first Commonwealth Parliament met 25 years ago. One of them did not seek re-election; two of them have died, and our sympathies are with their families and relatives.
I welcome the new members to this House, and assure them that they will receive every assistance from me, and from the officers of the House, in the performance of their high duties.
– I have ascertained that it will be His Excellency’s pleasure to receive Mr. Speaker in the North Library, this day, at 2.45 p.m.
– Prior. to my presentation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, the bells will ring for several minutes, so that honorable members who desire may attend in the chamber and accompany me to the Library, when they may, if they so desire, be introduced to His Excellency.
Sitting suspended from 11.53 a.m. to 2.43 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having re-assembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of Parliament, and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough, to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber forthwith. Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended . accordingly, and having returned,
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission authorizing me to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to members of the House. I now lay the commission on the table.
The Hon. Henry Gregory made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the electoral division of Swan, Western Australia.
Mr. Thomas John Ley made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the electoral division of Barton, New South Wales.
– I desire toinform the House that, on the 5th December, 1925, the Hon. Sir Littleton Groom, K.C.M.G., K.C., who had been Attorney-General of the Commonwealth for manyyears, tendered his resignation. His resignation was accepted by the Governor-General on the 18th December, and the Hon. John Greig Latham, C.M.G., K.C., was sworn in as Attorney-General on the same date.
.- I desire to inform the House that I have been re-elected Leader of the Opposition, and that Mr. Anstey has been elected Assistant Leader of the Opposition in this House.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend section 3 of the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate Chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. (Vide page 6.) As honorable members have copies of the speech in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me, formally, to read’ it.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That a Committee, consisting of Mr. Gullett, Mr. Abbott, and the mover, be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the Committee do report at the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– (By leave) - With deep regret I have to announce to the House the death of Her Majesty Queen Alexandra on the 20th November, 1925, and I move -
That the following address to His Majesty the King be agreed to : - to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty: Most Gracious Sovereign -
We, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, have received with heartfelt sorrow the news of the death of Your August Mother, Her Majesty Queen Alexandra.
We are confident that we give expression to the deep sympathy which Your subjects throughout this Commonwealth feel for Your Majesty in the great loss which has befallen you, and we assure you that our words accord with the loyal affection for Your Majesty which animates the people of Australia.
There is nothing I could say of Queen Alexandra and her life which is not already known with appreciation by all the people of the Empire. From the day when she landed in Great Britain to become the bride of King Edward VII., she endeared herself to the people of Britain and.the Empire by her kindliness, generosity, and sympathy with every class and section of the community. We remember with gratitude the wonderful work of Queen Alexandra during the tragic years of the Great War. In every endeavour in every walk of life for the elevation, help, and encouragement of the people, she played a foremost part, and throughout her life she was accorded the heartfelt homage of all the people of the British Empire. To His Majesty the King and to all the other members of the Royal Family we desire to extend our sincere sympathy. We trust that the knowledge that the memory of the late Queen is so dearly enshrined in the hearts of the Australian nation may help to assuage the bitter sorrow which they must feel in their sad loss.
.- I desire to associate myself and honorable members on this side of the House with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister. The late Queen Alexandra was esteemed by all people throughout the Commonwealth for her many good qualities. She -was a good wife and mother, and we do not forget that she frequently visited the East-end of London in order to offer sympathy and help to those who were in poor circumstances. Her fine qualities appealed to the people of Australia, and the sympathy of honorable members on this side extends to His Majesty the King and the other members of the Royal Family in their great bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places. deathofthehon.charles Mcdonald.
– (By leave) - Since the last Parliament was prorogued three of its members - the Hon. Charles McDonald, the Hon. Sir Austin Chapman, , and Senator O’Loghlin - have passed away. I propose to move motions of sympathy in regard to the two first-named, both of whom were members of the House. In regard to Senator O’Loghlin, a similar motion will be moved in another place. I now move -
That this House records its sincere regret in the death of the Hon. Charles McDonald, who was a member of the House from the inauguration of the Parliament until the recent dissolution, and who for many years held the office of Speaker; and this House expresses appreciation of the energy and ability with which he devoted himself to his public duties, and tenders its profound ‘ sympathy to his bereaved wife and daughter in their great sorrow.
On far too many occasions since I have been Prime Minister it has been my painful task to submit motions recording our regret in the death of members of this
Parliament, and our sympathy with those whom they have left behind. The frequency of these occasions emphasizes the trials of the service rendered in the Parliament of this country, and the great strain which political life places upon those who undertake it. For a considerable time the honorable gentleman whose death we mourn to-day had not been in robust health, but the announcement of his death on the eve of the general election came as a shock to all of us. It was a matter of particular sorrow to those who had been associated with him in this Parliament; but even amongst the outside public, who knew him only by reputation, there was general regret. The late Mr. McDonald had a very long and honorable career in the public life of Australia, commencing in 1893 when he first entered the Parliament of Queensland. At the advent of federation he entered federal politics, and at the time of his death he was one of the few remaining members of the first Commonwealth Parliament. “With his passing, another link with that historic assembly has gone. Throughout’ his parliamentary career he played a very active part. He was a Temporary Chairman of Committees in the first Commonwealth Parliament- from 1901 to 1904. During the years 1905 and 1906 he served on a select committee and also on a royal commission. In 1906 he was elected Chairman of Committees, a position he held until 1910, when he became Speaker. That high position he occupied for a total period of six years - first from 1910 to 1913, and then from 1914 to 1917. During his occupancy of that high office he did much to add to its dignity and honour. He upheld the great traditions pf British Parliaments, and earned the respect and regard of h’onorable members on all sides of the House. Those brief facts show how strenuous was his public career. His was a continuous record of honorable service of which any man might well be proud, bub the continuity and strenuousness of his service probably hastened his death. This House feels deeply his loss, and desires to express to his widow and daughter its deep sympathy. I hope that the knowledge of the extent to which his public services were appreciated will help to comfort them in the period of sorrow through which they are now passing.
– I join with the Prime Minister in deploring that so often in recent years occasion has arisen for motions of this description. Two gentlemen who were members of the first Federal Parliament, .both of whom were nominated at the recent election, and one of whom was returned, have been prevented by death from taking part in the proceedings of the House to-day. The death-roll of this Parliament during the last eleven or twelve years has been very heavy. To-day we are mourning the loss of one who was a colleague and personal friend of mine. He was a member of this House from its inception, and throughout his long public life gave of his best in the interests of his country. All honorable members will agree that the late Charles McDonald, worked strenuously. He had strong convictions, and was unwavering in ohern, but withal he was kind and considerate, and allowed to every other honorable member the right to differ from him. He ‘ held many positions in this House, and as presiding officer for six years discharged his duties in a wholly satisfactory and efficient manner. For a considerable period he experienced bad. health, and no greater testimony to his worth could be found than the fact that although his physical disabilities prevented him from taking as active a part in parliamentary life as he had formerly done, the electors continued faithful to him. I hope that the knowledge that the deceased gentleman lived a useful life, and was respected by every member of the House and the community generally, will be of some consolation to his sorrowing widow and daughter, and the other members of his family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members, standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That Mr’. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. McDonald the foregoing resolution, and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon
– (By leave) - It is my melancholy duty to move -
That this House records its sincere regret in the death of the Honorable Sir Austin
Chapman, who was a member of the House of Representatives since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and who for many years held office as a Minister of the Crown; and this House expresses its appreciation of the energy and ability with which he devoted himself to his public duties, and tenders its profound sympathy to his wife and family in their great bereavement.
The late Sir Austin Chapman was another of the few remaining members of the first Commonwealth Parliament. He had been a member of this House continuously from the time of its inception until the hour of his death. On this, the first, day of the first session of the tenth Parliament, we are assembled under a very real cloud of gloom, because only last night Sir Austin Chapman passed . away. In ordinary circumstances he would have been with us to-day ; instead, we have the knowledge that he is no more. His death is so recent that it is difficult to say all that one feels in regard to him. For some time a Ministerial colleague of mine, he was a man for whom I had the greatest possible respect, and even affection. He had made for himself, in some respects, an almost unique position in this House. Although for many years he had suffered from serious physical infirmities, he bore them heroically, and never allowed them to interfere with his work in this Parliament. His courage evoked the admiration of all honorable members, and created in our hearts a very great affection for him. His passing has also ended a very long and continuous career in the public life of Australia. He was first elected to the Parliament of New South Wales, in 1891-. He remained a member of that assembly until he became a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament on the inception of Federation. Early in that Parliament he attained Ministerial rank, as Minister for Defence, which position he held in the years 1903 - and 1904. Other Ministerial offices which he held were : PostmasterGeneral, from 1905 to 1907; Minister for Trade and Customs in 1907 and 1908, and again in 1923. He retained his last portfolio .until his retirement, on account of ill health, in May, 1924. Sir Austin Chapman’s name will always be associated in our minds with certain great reforms which he continually strove to achieve. He was a very keen advocate of progress in our postal service generally. His name will always be associated with the advocacy of penny postage for Australia. He also rendered great service in connexion with the provision of old-age and invalid pensions, for which a great many indigent men and women have had, and many still have, cause to bless his name, and thank him. He was a notably vigorous advocate of the early removal of the Seat of the Commonwealth Government from Melbourne to Canberra, for which he worked strenuously and continuously. It is a matter of very great regret to all of us that, although we are so close to the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra, he was not spared to see the accomplishment of the project, and to join us in our new home there. We all have the feeling that, through the death of Sir Austin Chapman, we have lost a sincere friend and a loyal comrade, and we sorrow because he is no longer among us to take the active part which he formerly took in the public affairs of Australia. We trust that the appreciation and honour in which he waa held by those who were associated with him in this Parliament, by all who knew him in public life, and by many who never met him personally, may do something to temper the grief of his wife and family during the sad time through which they are passing.
.- I endorse the sentiments expressed by the right honorable the Prime Minister. I have followed the public career of Sir Austin Chapman for a very long time - long before I entered poltical life. T well remember when he was first elected to the Parliament of New South Wales. At that time - before the Labour party was formed - I was a very strong protectionist. I was much attracted by the politics of Sir Austin Chapman, though then I had not met him. Some years later, I had the privilege of meeting him, and ever after we were the best of personal friends. I differed a good deal with Sir Austin Chapman in politics, but I always admired him as a man. He never permitted political differences to interfere with the administration of the various departments which he controlled. He was uniformly fair and just. That, I consider to be a fine tribute to be able to pay to a mau who was for so long in public life. He played a prominent part in the affairs of this country, and as the Prune Minister stated, ho was a keen advocate of the early removal of the seat of the Federal Government to Canberra. I sincerely regret that he was not spared to participate in that event, but I suggest that when the Government is established at Canberra, it should do something to commemorate his memory. My sympathy, and 1 believe the sympathy of every honorable member of this House, goes out to his wife and family in their sad bereavement. I trust that it will be some consulation to them to know that their husband and father had the good wishes and respect of every member of this Parliament and of the people of Australia. That he was highly respected in his own district was eloquently shown by the majorities with which he was returned at each election.
.- I should like to add my personal tribute, to the memory of Sir Austin Chapman. It was with great sorrow that I learned of his passing. I had been personally associated with him in many public matters for many years. He was always actuated by the highest motives, and he had a sincere love for Australia, and desired to see it progress. He was at heart a thorough, straight-going democrat. Through his death the public life of Australia is indeed the poorer. . No man could have worked more unselfishly than he did for the establishment of the Federal Parliament at Canberra, and I express my appreciation of his sen ices in that regard: I hope that the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) for honouring his memory at Canberra will be adopted by the Government. He carried out his public duties with energy and ability, and his memory deserves to be perpetuated. His work here is clone, but he will be remembered for it;
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Lady Chapman the foregoing resolution and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
House adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260113_reps_10_112/>.