1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorDRAKE presented a petition from five persons representing the Women’s. Christian Temperance. Union in Western Australia, praying the Senate to rejectthe Matrimonial CausesBill.
Senator DRAKE presented a petition from five persons representing the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Western Australia, praying the Senate to adopt the principle of local option in the federal capital.
Petition received and read.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and, on the motion of Senator O’Connor, read a first time.
Motion by Senator O’Connor agreed to, ‘ with concurrence -
That so much of the standing orders be suspended us would prevent the Supply Bill from passing through all its stages during the same ! sitting of the Senate.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, when the report of Mr. Muir, the surveyor of the railway line between Western Australia and the Eastern States, will be furnished to the Senate, as promised by the Government.
– I s I shall make inquiry, and have the report laid on the table as soon as possible.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Regulations respecting public moneys.
Selection of Site
– Before the business of the day is called upon, I desire to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss the very important question of selecting a site for the federal capital. :I move -
That the .Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 a.m. to-morrow.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that it is a matter of pressing public importance ?
– It is a matter of importance.
– Is it a matter of pressing public importance t
– I think it is. If it is to be discussed at all, as I think it should be for the reasons I shall give, it should be discussed while people’s minds are full of the subject. The reason why I am taking this course is not because certain Criticisms have been made as to the rushing senatorial trip which has just been finished, or as to the idea that it was simply a picnic. All those criticisms appear to me to be unworthy of notice. I am taking this action in order that I may do what I can, in my humble way, to correct gross misstatements by some of the public men of New South Wales, which, if not contradicted, may tend to injuriously prejudice the selection of a site for the capital. The statements to which I refer are, first, that there has been delay ; secondly, that the State of Victoria desires, and has all along desired to retain the seat of Government within its own borders ; thirdly, that the spirit of the Constitution requires that the site shall be selected within a short distance of the 100-mile radius from Sydney ; and fourthly, that the selection should be made forthwith, or without delay. It is important that some of us should say a few words as to what I, at least, conceive to be the gross’ inaccuracy and ungenerousness of the assertions which have been made.
– I r I rise to order. I do not wish to interfere unduly with the right of any honorable senator to bring any matter in its proper course before the Senate, but I ask you, sir, as a question of order* whether this motion can be moved 1 I did not object at first, because I wished to know what was its scope and its purport. It appears that the honorable and learned senator wishes to raise a question which will involve very important considerations as to which there are differences of opinion between the States, and which appear to me to contain no element contemplated in standing order 48 which says : -
A motion without notice that the House, at its rising, adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the House, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency, oan only be made after petitions have been presented and notices of questions and motions given, and before the business of the da3’ is proceeded with ; and such motion can be made notwithstanding there be on the paper a motion for adjournment to a time other than that of the next ordinary meeting ; but only the matter in respect of which such motion is made can be debated. If any member object thereto, the business of the House must be at once proceeded with.
– If the Minister objects he can put a stop to the discussion.
– The time for taking an objection is gone.
– N - No. I do not wish to take advantage of the standing order to object, because I think it my duty to call attention on another ground altogether to this motion. It is not contemplated that the forms of the Senate should be used in this way to discuss any matter. It has to be a matter of such urgency that there is no time to allow for the giving of notice of motion in the ordinary way. I submit that there is nothing in what the honorable and learned senator has said which makes this a matter of urgency.
– It is too late to take that point.
– I - It is not too late. The honorable and learned senator did not disclose what his subject was at first, and immediately he did I took an objection. And I take it, sir, that the right to object can be exercised at any time. I submit that the question of urgency should not be left altogether to an honorable senator to decide. If on the face of it, sir, you come to the conclusion that it is not a question of urgency, you have to see that the standing order is observed.
– There can be no doubt that the standing order is not intended to be made use of in order to raise general debates on matters which are not of pressing importance, and of course with the view to preserve the privileges of individual senators, it gives to any honorable senator the right at any moment during the discussion, if it seems to be wandering from the point of importance, even in the middle of a speech, to object to it proceeding any further. Safeguarded in that way, it is very unusual that the powers - which are exceedingly useful - conferred by the standing order, are exercised. But I would point out in considering the question raised by my honorable and learned friend opposite that I am not very much in favour of going into the matter of the capital site any more than I was in favour of the excursion which has taken place.
– I do npt think that the honorable and learned senator should discuss that. The question before the Chair is a point of order.
– I am not .viewing the matter from a standpoint favorable to the motion of Senator Dobson, so that what I am urging may commend itself as . coining from one who takes rather an impartial, or even an unfavorable, view of what he desires ‘ to do. But what I wish to say is that my honorable and learned friend has astonished me by raising an indictment of very considerable urgency. If false statements have been put in circulation - I do not- know whether it is so or not, but it is one of the statements which Senator Dobson has made - it surely is a matter that should be set at rest at the earliest possible moment. I do not want to discuss whether it is so or not. Senator Dobson has alleged that certain other statements have been made which are distinctly and immediately offensive - if I may use the expression - to the community amongst whom we are now assembled.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think he is addressing himself to the point of order, which is : “Who is to decide what is a matter of urgency ?
– There is no doubt as to who would have to decide that. It is yourself, sir. But the point is whether the subject-matter of the motion for the adjournment is a matter of urgency. The Vice-President of the Executive Council asserts that it is not, but I submit that, as ‘ presented by Senator Dobson, it is a matter of urgency. Every one of the charges he has mentioned is of a serious kind, and if there is anything in these charges they should be disposed of at the earliest opportunity. It seems to me, therefore, that undoubtedly the view of the honorable and learned senator that this is a matter of urgency should be accepted.
– The question, it appears to me, resolves itself into this : Who is to decide whether a question of this kind, brought forward in this manner, is a matter of urgency or not? Is it for the President to decide, or for the Senate? I am going to follow the practice adopted in South Australia, under the standing orders in force here, and not decide the matter at all. A question might not appear at first sight to be a matter of urgency, but after it was debated it might appear to be very urgent. Therefore the rule is so framed as to enable any honorable senator at any time to stop a debate of the kind. I do not think that it is within my province to decide until I have heard the arguments ; but any honorable senator who chooses to do so can object.
– Although the point as to the urgency of my motion has so far been decided in my favour, I think I can make my case stronger than I did when I first spoke. I have been engaged with all the earnestness I possess in inspecting proposed sites for the federal capital. After having done that, I read that certain leading men in the neighbouring State of New South Wales have made various statements in reference to the question. Almost all of the important statements made by them are, I think, contrary to the fact, misinterpret the Constitution, and are calculated to draw away the mass of the statesmen of the Commonwealth, and the mass of the citizens, in an entirely wrong direction in reference to this most important matter of the selection of the federal capital. Reading also certain articles and letters in the press of the mother State, and feeling that those statements were most incorrect and erroneous, the question struck me : what was the use of the members of the Senate, at considerable expense, inspecting the fourteen suggested sites, when the leading men of the mother State, both in and out of Parliament - for I read the debate which took place in another place last week - have an opinion of what their rights are under the Constitution different from that we hold ? Therefore I venture to think that my motion is essentially one of urgency and importance. Discussions have taken place in another Chamber as to when another excursion to inspect the proposed sites shall take place. Before that tour is made I should like to clear the atmosphere, and to have the assistance of my brother senators -whether they have inspected the proposed sites or not - in answering the question of whether there is any ground whatever for the allegations to which I am going to call attention. First of all I would allude to remarks made by some of the leading men in New South Wales, which were, I think, calculated todrag down this important question into the sea of party politics. I believe that all of us want to treat it as a non-party question - as a great national question with which the success and prosperity of the Commonwealth are intimately wrapped up. I am no thick-and-thin supporter of the Government. I have never been asked to support them. I am simply supporting them because I have confidence in the men who form the Cabinet. But the Government of the Commonwealth, in a matter of this sort, are absolutely accused of delaying the settlement of the question, and to some extent of almost wilfully delaying it. I regard it as my duty to say, speaking for myself, that there is no ground whatever for such an unjust and ungenerous accusation. It must be apparent to every one that this session cannot close until about the end of May. We shall then have been sitting continuously for twelve months, during which time most of us will have been away from our homes and businesses, with the exception of a three weeks’ adjournment at Christmas. The very fact that the Government have found time, and that a few honorable senators have found time, to make one inspection of some fourteen sites, proves that there has been no delay, but rather, as [ think, undue haste. Then a more important ground for the action I have taken is that it is stated that Victoria desires to retain the seat of Government in her own territory. Many men in New South Wales have distinctly said this, and brought forward arguments in favour of their contention. It is a matter of the utmost urgency that the people of New South Wales should not be allowed to remain under so false an impression. Of course honorable senators know that in addressing public meetings we are all apt perhaps to make statements which are somewhat wide of the mark, and to speak in directions that are calculated to please our audiences. In so doing we may make statements that - quite unintentionally - are most erroneous and damaging. But on this point I think I can speak with some little authority, because I had the honour of being a member of the Federal Convention by which this question of the capital site was fully debated. It was distinctly recognised in the convention that the mother State had claims, and all that the oratory and earnestness of the public men representing New South Wales could urge was adduced in support of those claims. But I state without fear of contradiction that the representatives of “Victoria, feeling that they were not going to have the capital site in Melbourne or within their own territory, acted generously and in a spirit of patriotism and unselfishness in the matter. Without making any charge against the people of New South Wales, let me say that it would have been better if some of the- leaders of that State had acted in the same spirit as did the leading men in
Victoria. I pass to the third question - that the spirit of the Constitution requires that the site should be near the 100-mile limit. That statement, also, I desire to contradict. I say, first of all, that the settlement of the capitalquestion as between Melbourne and Sydney was absolutely and essentially a compromise, and nothing less than a compromise. It was recognised that the capital could not be situated in Melbourne, because Victoria is not the mother State. It was recognised that the mother State was entitled to have the capital within her territory. Then it became a question of compromise purely and absolutely, and in that spirit the Constitution was framed in the way we now have it.
– That was done by the Premiers, and not by the Convention.
– The Convention refused by a considerable majority - I forget whether we went to a division, but I know there wasa majority - to implant in the Constitution any fettering of the Federal Parliament in reference to the selection of a capital. But when the people of New South Wales, at the first referendum, decided that they would not join the Federation, the Premiers of the States patched up a kind of compromise, under which there was conceded to the people of the mother State what the Convention refused to give to them, and there was implanted in the Constitution the provision that the site should be in New South Wales, but should not be within 100 miles of Sydney. I desire to point out that every one of us is a judge in this matter. It rests with us to select the capital site when the time comes ; and I object to being told, and to the people of the Commonwealth being told, that the spirit of the Constitution is that the site should be selected as near to the 100-mile limit as it possibly can be. I say without fear of contradiction that the whole of New South Wales from the border of Victoria upon the Murray at Albury down to Bathurst is open to us, and that there is nothing in the Constitution, or in the spirit of the compromise which led to the provision being inserted, which demands that the site shall be as near to Sydney as we can get it. The fourth matter, which appears to me to be a most urgent one, is that it is stated that the capital site should be selected forthwith. I have seen that stated several times - sometimes in one form, sometimes in another. It appears to me to be a most dangerous doctrine. The state of public business is such that we have not even had time to establish a J udiciary, or to pass the Defence Bill, or to put a Tariff as finally revised into operation. The Tariff will not be completed for the next three months. To say that with this work unfinished, and with the federation barely started, there is any undue haste in the matter of the selection of the capital site appears to me to be absurd. At one moment public men in New South Wales tell us that the question ought to be settled forthwith, and in the next breath they say that it is so important that it must not be rushed, but must be decided without undue haste. If ever there was a matter upon which we should go slowly and obtain expert evidence before we decide, this is one.
– And yet the honorable and learned senator has already suggested that Bombala should be the site.
– I am coming to that in a moment. I have now mentioned the four misstatements which ought to be corrected. I further desire to point out that if the leading men in the mother State continue to make such statements, and if they agitate the question in the narrow way in which they have done, it appears to me that they themselves will delay a settlement and will prevent the question being discussed in the calm and judicial way in which it ought to be discussed. Another reason why this question is urgent is that we have just finished a fortnight’s journey, during which we have inspected fourteen sites. Though some of the representatives of New South Wales stated before the tour commenced that it was not possible for us to carry out the programme, my honorable and learned’ friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council assured me that it could be done. I found that my honorable and learned friend was right, as he is generally right, and that we carried out our time-table almost to the hour, inspecting every site presented to us. I personally saw everything I was asked to see, and went everywhere I was asked to go.
– Did the party visit the Lake George site?
– We did ; and I was of opinion that that site would be a white elephant. A far better site, in my view, is Queanbeyan - which is a magnificent place - that is if we are to have a capital without a port. But the Lake George site appeared to me - though I must say I did not go to the water’s edge, as the people did not take us down there - to be quite unsuitable. We have made this inspection, and now another inspection is to take place - very properly so - when a convenient time can be arranged for it. . Are we to derive jio benefit from the journey we have made, and from the experience we have gained ? Is the Commonwealth to pay the piper for as many inspections as members of the State Parliament desire 1 Are we to go on inspecting these fourteen sites, and increasing the number subsequently to twenty, when we know perfectly well that only two or three of them can have any chance in the final selection? I desire, while honorable members of another place are discussing this question, to say that I think that honorable senators who have not yet visited the sites, as well as the members of another place, might very well be asked to say which of the sites they desire to see after reading Mr. Oliver’s report, and having regard to their own knowledge of the geographical features of the country. They may want to see the fourteen sites, but to my mind it would be useless for them to do so. I cannot agree for one moment with the contention put forward, I think, by Senator Neild, that in this matter we are acting as a jury, and therefore that we should keep our opinions to ourselves, until we have seen all the sites. There are hundreds of juries who have said, in the middle of a case, that they have heard quite enough ; and when they are the judges in a case the hearing is stopped on such an announcement being made. ‘
– It is unusual for part of a jury to make such an announcement.
– I contend that to spend £2,000,000’ or £5,000,000 in building a capital just outside the 100 miles limit ‘ from Sydney or at Albury - which in one case would make it a suburb .of Sydney and in the other a suburb of Melbourne^ - would be almost wicked. I shall not vote for any site unless, it has a port and possesses some compensating advantages for the enormous, amount of money which will have to be spent upon it. I think that the sections in the Constitution which deal with this matter were inserted without discussion.
29 0 2
The matter was not .sufficiently- ventilated, because it was thought that we must follow on the. lines of the American Constitution, and have a capital which would be. only a political centre, far removed from the influence of the man in the street - or the Press - in Sydney and Melbourne. That could be the only reason for the expenditure, and it is proposed to spend two or three millions in order to rid Parliament of that objection. Before I vote for such an expenditure I desire tosee if I cannot obtain something betterAlthough I saw a- good site at Albury and a capital site at Yass, and although I wasdelighted with the beauty of the very good sites at Tumut and Orange, , all desirable places, from the point of view of the man who does not think the capital should have a port, I contend that we must’ have a port, and from that stand-point I contend that those places are not worth visiting. If we cannot obtain a port I should like to see a conference of both Houses of Parliament convened to decide whether we cannot have the capital in Sydney with some compensating advantages to Melbourne. I absolutely shrink from the idea of throwing away the taxpayers’ money in building a capital between Melbourne” and Sydney. The only result would be to add to the congestion of population in large towns which is already a source of trouble to us. I fail to see any compensating advantages. At Bombala I found thevery thing I wanted. I discovered that there was a magnificent portthere which could be developed; thatthere was a large tract of country available, a good climate, and a magnificent watersupply. But even with all these advantages. I am not very much in love with the idea of building a new capital. I almost think that a new capital will be unnecessary if we can only compromise between Melbourne and Sydney. If that cannot be done, then Bombala is the only site worth discussing. If honorable senators agree with me in that respect, I would suggest that all possible information should be obtained about that site. I did my best to make myself acquainted with the character of the climate there, and I do not think it is as good as has been represented, although judging from the healthiness of the people, and the appearance of the children, one would say that it was one of the healthiest places on earth. Instead of dissipating our strength and our time and employing our experts on a dozen sites I should like to see our attention concentrated on two or three. If there are honorable senators who will vote for a capital without a port, I should like to see Tumut, or Orange, or Yass, or some other of the most favorable sites selected for our attention. Let us devote our consideration to these instead of giving our time and energy to a number of sites which can never be chosen. I wish to uplift this great question, to make it a national and not a party one. My desire is that we should all blend together, put aside all party prejudice; that we should endeavour to give effect to the spirit of compromise in the Constitution, and that whatever we do we should do wisely and well. But supposing that the capital is not constructed for the next ten or fifteen years, would my honorable friends opposite say that it would be unfair for Melbourne to remain the seat of government during that time, when thereafter the seat of government must for all time be in New Sou th Wales?
– We say that if Melbourne is the seat of government for ten years New South Wales will never have the federal capital.
– I disagree with the honorable senator. If Bombala, for example, were selected it would be necessary for the Government to negotiate with the State for taking over the necessary land. Rail ways would have to besurveyed. Questions of water supply and other matters would have to be considered. In the interests of the labour market alone, it wouldbe madness to rush on with the expenditure. I join issue at once with my honorable friend. It is the right of Victoria that she should have theseat of Government here until the federal capital is in readiness for us. I deny that because that right is given to Victoria - and it is a small concession compared with giving the federal capital to New South Wales for all time - the Government of New South Wales have any reason to insist upon the seat of Government being dragged away from Melbourne as soon as possible. The spirit of the Constitution is that we should go slowly, in the interests of Victoria, apart altogether from the desirability of acting wisely and well in the selection of the capital. The Argus suggests - and on the ground of expense I am absolutely in favour of as much delay as possible - that, in the event of considerable delay in providing the capital, Parliament might meet for five years in Melbourne, and then for five years in Sydney. That shows that Victoria is again ready to act in a generous manner ; it indicates that she is prepared to give away some of her rights under the Constitution. No one could complain if the Parliament sat here for the next ten or fifteen years. As soon as the capital is ready, the mother State will have it within her boundaries for all time. This is the principal reason for which I rose to speak to this question. I find that the people of New South Wales have utterly misread their rights ; not content with the fact that the Constitution safeguards them in every possible way, they desire to take from Victoria the small right given to her.
– What is the right which the honorable and learned senator says has been misread by the people of New South Wales ?
– They seem to think that the capital should be established at the earliest possible moment.
– Quite right, too !
– That idea is based on the feeling that as long as the seat of Government remains in Melbourne, the less likely are they to secure it.
– They contend that they are entitled to the federal capital under the Constitution.
– The Constitution should be observed.
– It will be observed. I see no indication of any desire on the part of the people of Victoria to deprive the mother State of her rights under the Constitution, or to lessen them in any way. I am here to protest against the aggressive attitude taken up by the people of the mother State, and the desire to enforce their rights too hurriedly. Whenever I see them showing that desire I shall protest. It is not the way in which to secure a settlement of this question on national lines.
– The honorable and learned senator desires to introduce into the Constitution a provision that Melbourne shall be the capital for fifteen years?
– Nothing of the kind. I want things to go on in the ordinary course. I do not wish to be told, after I have been working here for nearly twelve months, that unless I join in inspecting all these sites I shall be helping the Government to delay the settlement of the question. Let me remind Senator Millen that the leading men of the United States of America commenced to search for a site for the capital in 1783, and that it was exactly ten years afterwards - namely, September 1793 - when they laid the foundation stone. Would Senator Millen be surprised to hear that Washington, 60 years afterwards, was described by Bryce as a collection of mud huts and negroes with a few fine residences scattered about the blocks. As bearing on the question of expense, I would say also that when Washington determined to add wings to the capital, the cost of those wings was exactly three times the amount of the’ original estimate. There is no Member of Parliament who does not desire to see the federal capital vie with the other capitals of the world. With these notions in our heads, and with the pride and the belief which Australians have in their own country, I hold that when the capital is being erected money will flow like water. If we are going to build a federal capital let us do it wisely. To build it on substantial lines will cost an enormous sum. It is on behalf of the taxpayers, and in the interests of the Commonwealth generally that I protest against any undue haste in this matter, and against the statements made in the mother State as to the rights of New South Wales under the Constitution. The people of New South Wales have misunderstood their rights, and if what they desire should take place it will be a grave injustice to all the other States and to the Commonwealth as a whole.
. the earliest opportunity of speaking to this matter, because I wish to point out to the Senate that no possible good can come at the present time from the discussion initiated by Senator Dobson.
– Tell us what harm will come from it.
– I s I shall do so in a moment. I appreciate the motives of Senator Dobson. I am certain that in his mind the matter has assumed such a complexion that he regards it as necessary to place his views before the Senate at the present time. I would point out that we are here for the purpose of transacting some very important business, and that the question of the capital cannot be advanced in any way by a discussion such as that which has just been initiated.
– Senator Dobson said that his object was to delay the settlement of the question. This motion will have that effect.
– I - I do not read the honorable and learned senator’s observations in that way. The business on the notice-paper is of great urgency. The Senate has pledged itself to proceed with it without delay, and it is for that reason that I would urge that now that the honorable’ and learned senator has made his statement no good can be gained, and that there will be a great delay of public business, by continuing the discussion at any length. As something has been said about the question of the capital, I should like to put, in a very few words, what I think it is necessary to say at the present time on behalf of the Government. The honorable and learned senator has complained of some assertions made at a public meeting in Sydney. I should like to know whether it is not the absolute right of the citizens of every portion of the Commonwealth to express themselves as strongly as they think fit in public meeting. Surely it is particularly the right of New South Wales, which is to have the federal capital in some portion of its territory, to urge Parliament, in any terms it thinks fit, to proceed to the consideration of the business at the earliest possible moment? We have nothing to do with extravagance of expression. A number of statements made at the meeting referred to were quite unwarrantable, exactly in the same way that statements made in newspapers all over Australia are absolutely without warrant. But” if we are to allow our business to be interrupted every time some person at a public meeting, or some newspaper, indulges in an extravagant statement, I should like to know how we are to make any progress at all. Our business here is to make up our minds as to the right course to pursue, and to pursue that course. I take it that there are two or three propositions in connexion with this matter which are beyond dispute. In the first place it is the right of New South Wales under the Constitution to have the capital somewhere within its territory ; and it would not only be an impracticable proposal”, but a proposal which would be fraught with the grossest breach of faith to New South Wales, to attempt at this time to alter the Constitution in the direction suggested by individuals and by the press. I am not going to discuss that now, because do not think it is necessary. If it were necessary to discuss it, my own view would be that the suggestions put forward in the alternative are absolutely impracticable. I do not intend to discuss that, and I say that the Government are determined to see that the Constitution is carried out so far aswe can carry it out, whether it is New South Wales or any other State that is interested in having it carried out in a particular way. We are determined to use our utmost endeavours, at the earliest possible moment, to induce Parliament to fix the site in some portion of New South Wales, and, further, to make the fixing of the site a reality by seeing that arrangements are made for the carrying on of parliamentary business there as soon as possible. I do not blame New South Wales, or any person in New South Wales who desires to see faith properly observed with that State, for urging that those steps should be taken at the earliest possible moment. But I say, also, that it is most unreasonable to accuse the Government of not having used the utmost expedition in the matter. With all the work before them, and all the matters of immediate urgency which they have had to put before Parliament in statutory form during the present session, it would have been absolutely impossible for the Government to do anything more than they have done. What have they done ? They have gone on with the collection of information, they have enabled a portion of the members of the Parliament to view the proposed sites, and they will take the earliest opportunity of allowing the members of the other House of Parliament to view those sites. They have determined that as soon as possible in next session this question shall be brought before Parliament for its final and absolute solution, They cannot do anything more than that. I have nothing more to say about the matter except this : We cannot decide this question by any amount of talk in a discussion such as is taking place now. Such discussions will not only not advance the matter in any way, but they may lead to mischievous consequences by raising controversies upon side-issues, and invoking, perhaps, dissension or ill-feeling where there is no necessity for it. Such things very often arise through the raising of these discussions at inopportune times. Next session there will be abundant opportunity for discussing the matter at a time when discussion can be profitable, and can immediately lead to action.
– As one of the representatives of New South Wales I feel bound to repudiate the idea that there is in New South Wales any wish to unduly urge the rights which the Constitution has given to that State. I am free to admit that at a meeting held in Sydney a few days ago some assertions were made which erred somewhat on the side of extravagance of expression. I will also admit that while I have been in Melbourne. I have not detected amongst the public men in either of the Federal Houses of Parliament any latent or expressed intention of infringing upon the rights constitutionally conferred upon New South Wales. I believe that the rights which have been granted to New South Wales by the Constitution will be faithfully carried out by both Houses of the Federal Parliament. There have been several statements made to which attention might be drawn, but I think New South Wales would have been wholly satisfied if the statement which has this afternoon been made by theVice-President of the Executive Council had been made at an earlier date. For the making of that statement we are indebted to Senator Dobson, and to that extent, at least, the action of the honorable and learned senator in moving the adjournment has proved a gain. Senator O’Connor has stated that one of the early acts of next session will be the introduction of a measure to finally deal with the question of the capital. If it is finally carried out, as I presume it will be, New South Wales will be fairly dealt with, and will be satisfied. I regret that the Government have been so slow to show their hands, and the public meeting held in Sydney has not altogether failed of its object if it has to some extent expedited the movements of the Government in this matter.
– T - The same, statement has been made time after time during the last three months.
– We are all ready to admit that the pressure on the Government has been, and still is, very great, but that is no reason why any section of the
Commonwealth should remain absolutely quiescent upon any point upon which the people feel perhaps a little too acutely, and the citizens of Sydney have given vent to some expressions o”f opinion which, to say the least, have done no harm. As a representative of New South Wales, I shall be no party to any attempt to drag the Commonwealth into extravagant expenditure. Everything that has occurred in our public life for some time past points to the necessity for care in expenditure, and I shall be found with all those who are wishful to safeguard the expenditure of the Commonwealth in the matter of the capital. But that has nothing to do with the question of the decision as to the site of the capital and the making of the necessary preparations for starting the building of it. Senator Dobson stated that every part of New South Wales was open to inspection, but I believe the honorable and learned senator is slightly in error there. I believe the Commonwealth have to choose their site from various sites which will be offered by the State of New South Wales.
Honorable Senators. - No, not necessarily.
– I think that is so, and that at all events the Commonwealth cannot take possession of a site against the will of New South Wales. However, I do not think that this is a point which need be discussed, because I am quite sure that the New South Wales State Parliament and the Commonwealth Parliament will be able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement upon it. Then Senator Dobson rather fears that we are moving in New South Wales to make this a party question. I hope that the honorable and learned senator will disabuse his mind on that point, and that other honorable senators will not be led into feeling that the people of New South Wales desire to do anything of the sort. Speaking for myself, and I believe I can speak also for the other honorable senators representing New South Wales, we will be no parties to any such idea. With regard to the question of Melbourne and the capital, I believe it is agreed by the leading constitutional authorities that what the Constitution bestows upon Melbourne, is the right to have the Federal Parliament sitting in Melbourne whilst the selection and preparation of the capital in New South Wales are taking place. I believe that Senator O’Connor, if he touched upon that point, would admit that
Melbourne cannot under any circumstances be looked upon as the capital, and no one, strictly speaking,, regards it as the capital of the Commonwealth to-day. These are points which really need not have been raised, but on behalf of New South Wales I assure the Senate, and I think the majority of honorable senators are quite well aware, that we only ask for what is right and fair, and we expect and believe that what is right and fair will be freely given to us.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).It has been recognised for some considerable time that there is in New South Wales a feeling of some uneasiness upon the question of the selection of the capital site. Whether it is indorsed or not, we must all admit that that feeling is manifest. I feel certain that the statement of the “Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon in connexion with this matter will be heartily appreciated in New South Wales. It will go a long way to allay the feeling of uneasiness to which I have referred, and will be accepted by the people of New South Wales as an assurance that the Government intend, as the honorable and learned senator has said, to carry out the Constitution in this matter to the letter. I should like to say in regard to some remarks which fell from Senator Dobson that, while I believe the unfairness was quite unintentional, he appeared to me to have not quite fairly stated .the case with reference to these public complaints. The honorable and learned senator has spoken of a statement made by one of the public men of New South Wales, Mr. Carruthers, who urged that- this matter should be made a party question. The honorable and learned senator might have made a complete statement in the matter, and he mighthave informed the House that a day or two after that statement was made by Mr. Carruthers one of the leading morning journals of Sydney took that gentleman to task for it, and absolutely declared that that would be the very worst thing to do. If it is fair to point out that one of the public men in New South Wales said that this should be made a party question, it is equally fair to point out that an important public journal in New South Wales has repudiated that course of action. With regard to the statement made about the feeling over there that Victoria desires to retain the capital, I do not wish to pretend that that feeling does not exist, but does not Senator Dobson recognise that what is strengthening that feeling is his own action, and that one of the morning papers here discussing the matter points to the fact that whatever may be the reason advanced the desire is to delay the carrying out of the Constitution.
– Certainly not.
– The honorable and learned senator said here to-day, and this is not his first appearance in the guise of anapostle of delay, that it might take fifteen years to deal with the matter, and on a previous occasion I remember that he limited himself to ten years. The probabilities are that in another fortnight he will make it twenty years, and it is this pathetic appeal for delay which is very largely responsible for the feeling in New South Wales to which I have referred.
– The suggestion of the Argus, and the statement by the honorable senator, have only been made during the last few days.
– Just so. Whatever the Government has done has not been made public, and therefore in the absence of any distinct action on its part the people of New South Wales are inclined to be a little suspicious on the point.
– - - -Statements similar to mine to-day have been made on several occasions by the Minister for Home Affairs and the Prime Minister.
– I do not wish to press the point, and I wish Senator O’Connor to understand that I am not making an affiirmation of delay against the Government. The feeling is believed to exist there, and this suggestion of the Argus, and its advocacy by Senator Dobson, did tend to confirm it in the minds of the people of New South Wales. I think that most persons there, who wish to consider the matter free from bias, do not ask for any undue haste, but they do ask that the provision in the Constitution shall be carried out as early as it can reasonably be done, having regard to other public business.
– How was it that all the senators for New South Wales did not inspect the sites ?
– The answer was given by Senator Dobson, who pointed out how utterly ridiculous it was to visit sites which are entirely unsuitable. The reason why I did not go was because I was not prepared to waste time looking at sites which I know are not suitable, and cannot be selected.
– Why did not the honorable and learned senator look at sites which are suitable?
– Because I happen to know them, as Senator O’Connor does. On behalf of New South Wales I wish to repudiate the statements which have been made here, that we are trying in some way or other to gain more, than we are entitled to. New South Wales was induced to enter the Commonwealth largely by reason of that provision in the Constitution, and all we ask is that ib shall be loyally obeyed, and as soon as possible fulfilled.
– I wish to thank Senator Dobson and Senator Pulsford for their vindication of Victoria.
– It wants it.
– I do not think it does. The Convention refused to state in the Constitution Bill in what State the capital should be placed but at a meeting afterwards, without any authority from the people, the Premiers decided in this building that it would be a good thing to have the federal capital in the mother State. The people of New South Wales heartily concurred in that decision, and I am not aware that any objection was raised when the matter came before the people of the other States. Victoria, as well as the other four States, has loyally abided by what was done by the Premiers without any warrant from the people. I do nob recollect any objection being raised in Victoria to the capital being fixed in New South Wales.
– They had no opportunity.
– It is true that we had either to adopt the Bill or to reject it. It must be admitted that all round, apart perhaps from an odd man here and there, the people of Victoria are anxious to abide by the terms of the Constitution with respect to the capital. The location of the capital is another matter. For months past a section of the people and the press, especially in New South Wales, have been nagging at the Government because they have not taken some steps with a view to decide on a site. But immediately the Government did take steps these people began to nag at them because they had done so. I notice that in most cases these cavillers are opponents of the
Barton Government. The secret of a lot of this nagging, so far as I am able to judge, is a wish to belittle the Government at every opportunity. Perhaps it is quite right in political warfare that they should administer little pin-pricks to Ministers. It all helps in the long run, 1 suppose. But there is another aspect of this matter which these cavillers have not taken into consideration so far as I have observed in the press, and that is, that if the Government had not given an opportunity to the members of the Senate, and of the other House, to visit the various sites, when it came to a question of giving a vote, a number of honorable senators, at all events, I would either have voted against every site submitted, or have walked out of the Chamber. I feel that there are a great many members of each House who would act in that way, and, in my opinion, they would be quite warranted in so doing. Instead of having done harm, this discussion has done much good. It has cleared away a lot of misunderstanding, and the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council will go forth as an authoritative statement made in his capacity as leader of the Senate. I cannot recollect having heard or read such a statement before, but, having been made here to-day, it will no doubt put the minds of the people of New South Wales somewhat at rest. I am very glad that Senator .Dobson has moved the adjournment of the Senate, and I desire to thank him and others for the way they have spoken of the State I have the honour to represent.
– I do not think there has been in the Senate up to the present time - I shall not answer for the oilier House - the slightest disposition to depart from the Constitution on any point. I have heard no whispering of an attempt to alter the Constitution, so as to shift the capital ultimately from New South Wales, and I do not believe there has been any serious or even casual thought on the part of any honorable senator not to be strictly true to the Constitution. We have had no time to consider this question. We have not the experience; but whilst the Senate representing all the States, most of which appear to be regarded as provinces of Victoria and New South Wales, was fairly unanimous in its desire to carry out the Constitution, we had the difficulty of a species of civil war almost going on in the senior State as to the particular place which should be the site of the capital. One would have thought that, as it was a matter of such great urgency, the least we could have done was to say to the senior State - “ Do put your wits together, satisfy your rival claims, and go on voting until you have got down to one site, and tell us what your united opinion is.” The Government, which is not in the least in fault, has been reproached for not pushing on the matter. The State that blames the Government is very careful to offer them no assistance except that which comes from their utter disintegration on this question, on which they urged that the Government should hurriedly arrive at a conclusion. I do not think that this discussion will do any injury. I do not believe that there ever was any strong opinion in New South Wales that this Parliament had any disposition not to carry out the provision of the Constitution. That feeling was due to their internal conflicts as to where the capital should bo rather than to our conduct. I do not blame the Premier of New South Wales. When he was -asked what position the Government tool* and what site they would recommend, I can very well understand that he did not want to get amongst the Kilkenny cats, and make himself unpopular by supporting one site as against another.
– He ought to take the responsibility of the matter.
– (* That lias nothing to do with me,” he said. “Fight that out amongst yourselves.” But it does not come with a very good grace from those who complain to say - “ We expect you, with your imperfect information, to rapidly arrive at a conclusion, which with our perfect information and wide experience we are unable to do.” There has been no delay in this matter, because there has been no opportunity to consider it, even if New South Wales had been unanimous. Had there been such an opportunity we might very well ask when reproached by that State - Why have you not assisted us t “ We agree that the capital should be in New South Wales. The Constitution Bill, as it left the Convention and before it was altered by the Premier’s agreement, left the Parliament to decide this point, and I have very little doubt that it would have decided that it should be in Sydney. But the Premiers put in the provision that the site should not be within 100 miles of Sydney, and hence all the trouble. Instead of being free we are left with this limitation which creates all the difficulties we are in. We all agree, I think, that we must stand by the Constitution and carry out this provision, and we earnestly ask the mother State, which made it a condition that the capital should be at least 100 miles from Sydney to respect the Constitution, and give us all the assistance it can to put the capital where it thinks it ought to be placed.
– I feel somewhat disappointed that Senator Dobson has not exactly substantiated what I felt was his only claim to avail himself of the standing order, namely, that there were some very serious and urgent matters requiring the immediate consideration and interposition of the Senate in regard to some of the points he raised.
– It has practically been admitted bv Senators Pulsford and Millen.
– I think that his motion, although scarcely coming within the scope of the standing order has done good, inasmuch as it has enabled us to see that all our friends who went on the excursion to the capital sites have returned fit and well, and has elicited from Senator O’Connor an authoritative statement which ought to allay any feeling that may exist in New South Wales - that the selection of a site will not be one of the first matters to be dealt with by Parliament during next session. That, I think, is a great advantage. I can see no evidence of any attempt to make this in any sense of the term a party question. It may be that it is being made a New South Wales question, and that is a very proper thing to do. I think no one could have expressed more strongly, and with greater propriety, the situation than Senator O’Connor has done in pointing out that New South Wales is vitally interested, if she cares about the provision in the Constitution, in seeing that it is carried into literal effect at the earliest possible moment. Even if extravagant language is used, we may take it with a certain discount, but we have no right to complain, if feelings are strongly aroused, that they are expressed in strong language. There are two points I wish to call attention to. Senator Styles referred to the fact that this provision was inserted in the Constitution at the conference of Premiers. That undoubtedly was so. At the Convention, I should have been glad - and I expressed that view at the time - if we could have settled the question of the capital, and, to speak frankly, I should have gladly voted for Sydney. It is the capital of Australia, and we cannot change it in any respect. I do not want to have any misunderstanding on that point so far as my individual feelings are concerned. With a view to getting over some of the difficulties, and securing the passage of this great instrument of union the Premiers made a compromise to avoid all friction between the two great cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and provided that the capital should be in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney. Although that was not done with the direct authority of the people of Australia it was ratified by them at the referendum. We cannot give too much effect to that position. It stands as a provision in the Constitution, and was adopted with the free consent of the people of Australia. The other point is that, in justice to New South Wales, it should be pointed out to Senator Downer that in his exceedingly clear speech he did a slight injustice to that State. So far as I am aware New South Wales has assisted the Commonwealth Government in supplying this Parliament with the fullest information in its power, to enable us to arrive at a conclusion after personal inspection, and as a result of that inspection.
– A - And also by reserving land around the capital sites.
– I do not think we ought to have this kind of scarifying taking place with respect to New South Wales. She has done everything she has been called upon to do, and has done nothing to forfeit or minimise in the slightest degree the rights to which she is entitled under the Constitution. She has not misread those rights, but is fully entitled to them, and is entitled to insist upon their being carried out at the earliest possible moment. The only information I am acquainted with upon this question is that which has been furnished - I suppose at great expense - by the State Government . of New South Wales, through the Home Office, to the members of the Federal Parliament. We must- not forget that. Then again, I take exception to the view that it is the function of New South Wales to go through an exhaustive process, and arrive at one site which is to be offered to the Federal Government for accceptance or rejection. It is not for New South Wales to select a site to be the seat of the Federal Government. I repudiate that view. While we desire to preserve the rights of New South Wales, we are not called upon to give her any new rights.
– The New South Wales Government was only asked to recommend.
– I saw the other day that it was suggested that no assistance had been given by New South Wales, and that there should be an exhaustive process of the kind I have suggested. I repudiate the idea. If the Federal Parliament has thirteen or fifteen sites offered by the State Government it is the duty of this Parliament, not of the New South Wales Government, to arrive at a conclusion as to any one of them, or to make what is called a short list, with a view of finally determining where the seat of Government shall be. It is only fair, in the interests of New South Wales, that that should be said. New South Wales has reason to be satisfied with the declaration we have had as to the expedition which will be used, and with the statement that at the earliest possible opportunity namely, next session, this question will be dealt with. I do not want to use a word that might be offensive, though it is quite applicable to a debate of this sort, by saying that such a discussion is more mischievous than advantageous. I am delighted to see Senator Dobson back again, looking so well after the tour, and the only thing I am sorry for is that he has not come back with a more judicial mind, and has not refrained from expressing a final judgment as to the best site available. He commits himself, in the absence of other arguments, to Bombala. I do not know whether that is owing to the musical advantages of the place, or because of the acoustic properties of the hall there at which a certain entertainment took place ! He says he approves of it owing to its proximity to a port. I protest against the idea that a port is necessary. The district of Columbia, in which Washington - the federal capital of the United States - is situated, has no port, and a port is in no sense an essential element in relation to a site for a federal capital, although the capital’s proximity to the sea might be an advantage to those who like a sea- faring life, and might wish to enjoy the opportunities available to them in that respect. Apart from that we do not require any port. My honorable friend, Senator Dobson, has also protested against the expense. He went on to say that for the next twenty years he would not have a capital fixed, but would have a kind of peripatetic seat of Government. I protest against that idea. In the interests of the smaller States, we want this question settled. We want definitely to know where the Commonwealth Parliament is to be housed, and where the seat of the Government is to be.
– And yet the honorable and learned senator objects when Senator Dobson tells him !
– I am delighted to hear the suggestion made ; but I think that my honorable and learned friend departed a little from his own position as to the question of urgency in opening up a discussion on .the site, and in giving us a final judgment as to where the capital should be.
– I think that honorable senators generally have great reason to complain of the reception they received in New South Wales from a section of the public men, and a section of the senators representing that State. In the majority of cases the people of New South Wales I believe were very well pleased to find that the Senate was making a tour of inspection ; but certain public men, and a certain section of the members of this Senate regarded the tour as a very fine opportunity for making party capital. They tried their very best to ridicule the whole proceedings. I think that New South Welshmen who want to have the federal capital site selected ought to be very glad to see action taken on the part of the Federal Government towards the selection of a site. They should be very glad to have the matter advertised and kept prominently before the public. I, for one, do not join with Senator Dobson when, he says we ought to sit here for another fifteen years. I am very anxious as one of the first Federal Parliament - as one who has had his photograph taken on several occasions, and has had his picture painted as a very prominent individual, whose face will be handed down to posterity - to do something to show I am deserving of that public notice. I, for one, am anxious that we should have an opportunity of selecting the capital site, and of putting into practical operation what some of us think will be a very important social experiment, which, however, we need not go into now. If we are to wait for fifteen years is it likely that our constituents will put up with us for so long a period 1 I venture to say that at the end of fifteen years some of us will have retired - I will not say into obscurity, but for a long period of political rest.
– Some of us may be high commissioners.
– Perhaps, if the honorable senator’s party is in office. I do not know that any of those who sit in this corner will have a high commissionership offered to him, although perhaps he could fill the position as well as any one. I do not think it is wise to prolong the discussion. I am sorry that Senator Dobson committed himself to any particular site, after stating that we should wait and consider all the extra evidence that is to be obtained. On the top of that statement he practically said - “ My mind is made up; Bombala is to be the site.” If I may be permitted to express my opinion I do not think that Bombala is in it.
– The honorable senator surely has not made up his mind.
– I have considered Bombala in various aspects. I admit that it is a very beautiful place. I do not think that a more beautiful place in the summer time could be selected on the face of this continent.
– But what is it like in the winter?
– As my brother Queenslander says, what is it like in the winter? We came from Bombala to Eden, which some people consider is a good port. On the run down we descended a hill that was something like 5 miles long. I ask Senator Dobson and others : Where is the money to come from to build a railway to take us to Bombala? Where is the money to come from which is to create Eden into a safe port for vessels ? However, I do not think we should at this stage go into the question of the site. When the members of the House of Representatives make their tour of inspection they ought to be able to avoid many of the inconveniences that members of the Senate had to put up with. They ought to have more time to inspect certain sites. I do not think they should go to the whole fourteen sites. If they consult members of the Senate they should be able to form an opinion as to which places they could leave out. There are some which have no possible hope whatever, and it is only a waste of time to visit them. It would be better to devote the time that could thus be saved to giving greater consideration to the half-dozen sites which are in the running for the capital.
– I should like to say a word or two, not with respect to the merits of any of the sites that have been visited by honorable senators who took the trouble to go to see them, but as to what Senator Millen said about the action of the New South Wales senators. He said - “We have seen all these sites.”
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– He said they were not worth seeing, I understood.
– Senator Millen said that a great many of them were not worth seeing, and that those which were worth seeing he had visited. I would say to the New South Wales senators, as I would say to the South Australian senators if they were placed in the same position, that there are thirty members of this Senate who do not represent New South Wales, and as they may not all be capable of going over the country without leadership, it would have been very good taste on the part of the New South Wales senators if they had accompanied the party, and shown which were the most eligible sites. Honorable senators should not have been taken to sites which have no chance of being selected.
– The Government were responsible.
– Apart from organizing the trip, they had no more to do with it than with any other undertaking. It is the duty of the representatives of New South Wales in both Houses of Parliament to assist honorable members, who are strangers to that State, in their efforts to discover the most eligible sites. That is what they should have done in connexion with the Senatorial inspection, instead of complaining that we did not visit certain sites, that we did not half inspect others, and that we did something else which was reprehensible. I hope that in the future these honorable members will not say-“ We know all about it ; let other honorable Members of Parliament go and find out for themselves which is the most eligible site.” That is all I have to say on this subject, because we shall have another opportunity of expressing our opinions in regard to the merits of the different sites. I hope that when complaints are made in future they will be made in a generous manner, and that those who consider they know best, and take the least part in the work of inspection, will have the least to say.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Unfortunately by reason of the length of the session it has become necessary to ask for a further advance on account of the supply required up to the 30th of June next. The amount asked for is £320,955, and it is in reality less than the amount which has been sought upon other occasions. The form of the Bill is that which is familiar to honorable senators. The amounts are set out in schedules in the form which has always been adopted, and honorable senators will be able to see the services to which they are to be applied. The amount and the rates are upon the same basis as that upon which advances have been voted already on three different occasions - they are on the basis of the Estimates. In some cases there is an increase, because it has been found necessary to provide for contingencies, such as stores and supplies, and matters of that sort, for certain departments in which provision for salaries only had been made. As time has gone on it has been found necessary to renew supplies in some of the departments, and that has led to an apparent increase in some of the amounts. So far the total asked ‘for has been very little more than the proper proportion of the vote for the whole year. I therefore take it that, as this is really’ an advance of money to be voted on principles which have . already been approved by the Senate, it is not necessary for me to do more on this occasion than to move the second reading of the Bill. The urgency of the Bill is that, if it does not leave the Senate to-day, it will be impossible to make the necessary payments on the first of the month to the public creditor and public servants all over Australia.
– - I may be told that the proper time to bring forward the matters to which I am about to refer will be when the Estimates are before us. My reason for referring to them now is that I hope to spur on the proper authorities and induce them to bring about a fair system of payments in the public service, so that we shall be able to deal with them under the Estimates. When the Commonwealth was established, it was understood by every one who voted for federation that as nearly as possible the servants of the Commonwealth in each State would receive equal treatment. I am very sorry to say that that has not been done. In Tasmania a very grievous condition of affairs exists. In the Customs and Post and Telegraph departments, if not in the three transferred departments there, the majority of the officers are receiving very much less than the salaries paid to servants of the Commonwealth who are doing the same class of work in other States. Such a condition of affairs should not be allowed to continue ; and I do not think that it is at the desire of Parliament that it does exist. Fifteen months have elapsed since the inauguration of federation, and the transferred departments have now been taken over for twelve months. I.think, therefore, that sufficient time has elapsed to enable the authorities to make at least some attempt to place the transferred officers on something like an equal footing. Officers in the Customs departmental Tasmaniaare receiving very much less than officers in the same department in Victoria.
– They are receiving what the Tasmanian Government gave them.
– I - I knew I should be met with that argument. We are not dealing with the State service now, but with the services of the Commonwealth. Some of the Commonwealth officers in Victoria are receiving nearly double the salaries paid for similar work in Tasmania.
– There may be twice as much work to be done.
– T - The honorable and learned senator would not think so if he was in possession of all the facts. I assert that for the same class and quantity of work very many of the officers in Tasmania are receiving at least one-third less than the salaries paid in the other States.
– The Public Service Bill will deal with that matter.
– I - I supported the Public Service Bill because I believed it would sweep away these anomalies. A sufficient time must elapse, however, before grievances can be righted under that measure. The commissioner and inspectors have to be appointed, and the latter will have a gigantic task to perform in travelling over the States and preparing their reports for the commissioner. Many months must elapse before these reports can be acted upon. In the meantime an attempt should be made to smooth down the rough edges of some of the anomalies that exist in the service. The servants of the Commonwealth in one State are supposed to be as reliable, as accurate, and as prompt as are those in another. I know that Commonwealth officers in Tasmania will compare favorably with those in the other States, and I think it is very unfair that they should be expected to possess those qualifications and do their work for one-third the remuneration received by officers in the other States. If the salaries of all the public servants in Tasmania were advanced all round by 33 per cent., they would still be behind the average rate of payment in the other States. That may be considered a sweeping statement to make, but a comparison of the salaries paid in the different States will support my contention. While we are waiting for the appointment of the commissioner and inspectors under the Public Service Bill, the Government might well make an attempt to adjust these anomalies and provide for them under the Estimates.
– That is a big order.
– I - If it is, the Government are quite equal to it and they should carry it out. Before the Customs department ‘ in Tasmania was transferred to the Commonwealth the boast was made annually that the revenue was collected there at a considerably less cost per cent, than it was in any other State. The Tasmanian Government may have considered that was something to be proud of, but I do not think it was. I admit that the cost was less, but the end was achieved by miserably underpaying the service. My honorable colleagues from Tasmania can bear me out in the statement that the officers in that department have been receiving wretched salaries. I have brought these matters forward in the hope that the heads of departments will seek to remedy these grievous anomalies immediately, that they will try to act in accordance with the spirit of the Federation, and that an attempt will be made to equalize salaries in the transferred departments. J ust as the work has been equalized, and just as officers in the several departments throughout the Commonwealth are expected to be equally capable, so should their salaries be equal.
– It is somewhat regrettable that the Senate has not had an opportunity of dealing with the Estimates before, because appointments are being made and the work of re-organization is being undertaken in several departments and we are debarred from giving expression to any views as to the manner in which that work should be carried out unless we take the opportunity of doing so when a Supply Bill comes before us. The Defence department, for example, is being re-organized practically. By the time that the Estimates come before us the new system will have been established ; appointments will have been made, and it will be practically toolate for the Senate to make any protest, or to indicate the lines on which we think these appointments should be made.’ As we all know, General Hutton has been appointed Federal Commandant, and we see in the press statements to the effect that officers are being appointed to the command of the forces in the different States. The general impression throughout the Commonwealth was that if there was any department in which economies could be exercised as the. result of federation, it was the Defence department. It was thought that we could have one commandant, for the Commonwealth and one central department, and that the burdens of’ the people would not be increased. There is nothing in this document to show in what way that has been done. At page 7 dealing with other expenditure in connexion with the department of Defence, I find a total of £3,599 of new expenditure ; but whether tin amount equal to that sum has been saved by utilizing defence officers transferred from the States departments to the federal head-quarters’ staff, or whether it is the amount of increased cost added to what, in my opinion, is already an excessive cost of militarism in Australia, there is nothing in the document to show us. That, therefore, is an item upon which, I think, we should have some explanation from the Government.
– We could get that in committee.
– We could get it in committee, but if I raised the question in committee on the first item, it would be explained that the Minister for Defence must have his secretary and his office staff. A full explanation of the item could be given ; but when we come to deal with the head-quarters’ staff, there is nothing to indicate whether this total of £3,599 is due to new appointments, or whether although there may have been new appointments made, they have been made without increased cost to the Commonwealth by the transfer of officers from the States. I suppose that Senator O’Connor will have an opportunity to reply, and I raise the point now that we may have more light thrown upon it than we can gather from the press. If we are to take notice of what appears in the press, we must come to the conclusion that a system of reorganization is going on in the Defence department, and the lines are being laid down upon which the department will be administered in the future. The only possible chance we have of making our voices heard in connexion with the administration of this department is upon the Supply Bill. We have no hope of dealing with the Defence Bill this session, and once lines of organization are laid down it will be a very difficult matter to tamper with them, afterwards. I desire to express the opinion that we have already sufficient material in the head-quarters staffs in the different States to carry out the work of efficiently administering the Defence department without making fresh appointments from outside the existing Commonwealth service. With the exception, perhaps, of General Hutton, I desire to express the opinion that no fresh appointments should be made to . the administrative branch of the Defence department. If additional officers are required, the centralization of the administration should make it possible to appoint to the federal staff officers who can be transferred from the head-quarters staffs in the different States without additional cost to the Commonwealth. Another matter which may cause some comment is an item of £3,000 for other expenditure under the heading of works and buildings; and we might very well ask for some explanation of that item. A sum of £17,000 represents the expenditure necessary for the upkeep of the department, as taken over from the States, and, sq far as I know, there has been no great expenditure upon new buildings since the department was taken over. I should therefore like some explanation of this item of £3,000 in connexion with repairs, maintenance, fittings, furniture, electric lighting and telephonic communication. I quite recognise that the proper time to raise the question of the administration of the Defence department is upon the consideration of the Estimates, but by the time we come to consider the Estimates, it is possible that all the appointments will have been made, and the lines of administration laid down, and it will then be said that it is too late to interfere in the matter.
– Probably the Postmaster-General may find it necessary to reply to the remarks of some of the honorable senators who have preceded me. There is one matter at present exciting the interest of a substantial section of the public service, and particularly of those engaged in the Post-office. Some sixteen or eighteen months ago, an Act of the State of Victoria was passed, the effect of which was to give to a certain section of employes the highest salary in connexion with particular offices prevailing in any of the States. This particularly affected some letter-carriers engaged in Victoria. Although the Commonwealth has now been going full spead ahead for some twelve or fourteen months, it appears that no effect has been- given to the terms and provisions under which those particular officers were handed over to the Commonwealth. I would like to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has given full consideration to the claims of those officers. When we bear in mind that the cost is chargeable to the several States, I do not think there should be any undue delay on his part in giving effect to the very reasonable provision embodied, as I have already explained, in an. Act of the State Parliament of Victoria, passed with this specific object in view. .1! would urge my honorable and learned friend, if he has not already dealt with the matter to some extent, to give it his very prompt consideration, and to give us the advantage of some explanation of the very considerable delay which has already taken place.
– I desire to take advantage of the motion far the second reading of the Supply Bill to make a few remarks with reference to certain circumstances in connexion with officers of the transferred departments in the State of Tasmania. I notice that provision is made here under the department of Defence for various amounts, including expenditure solely for the maintenance or continuance of the department at the time of its transfer to the Commonwealth, and for other expenditure, and I should like to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether it is correct that since the department of Defence was taken over some variations have been made by the Commonwealth authorities in the matter of the rates of pay previously prevailing for those serving in the militia in the various States. I am informed on very good authority that -in the .State of Tasmania members of the infantry, when taken away from their ordinary employment and called out for service, have, since the department has been transferred to the Commonwealth, received less pay than they previously received from the State Government. In Tasmania, under the State regime, when a guard of honour or anything of a similar character was required the men who left their ordinary duties and turned out on behalf of the Government received what they considered then was but moderate pay - 6s. for a day, and 3s. for a half day. I am given to understand that since the Commonwealth took over the Defence department those rates have been lowered to is. 6d. and 2s. 3d. respectively. We cannot expect men who are earning 7s. or Ss. a day, or probably more, to leave their ordinary work to perform such duties for these rates of pay. I am given to understand also that in other respects the emoluments they receive have been to a certain extent lowered. We might reasonably have expected that under the new regime if any alteration were made it would have been in the direction of increasing rather than reducing the amount paid. My honorable friend and colleague, Senater O’Keefe, has made some reference to the rates of pay prevailing in the transferred departments in the State of Tasmania, and the necessity for levelling them up to the rates prevailing in the State of Victoria. I need not enter into that matter again, because I think there is no member of the Commonwealth Parliament who can gainsay the statement that the officers in the transferred departments in the State of Tasmania are quite as capable of discharging the duties allotted to them, or that they do just as much work per man, as corresponding officials in the State of Victoria, and the rates of pay they receive are considerably less. I know that the State of Tasmania is responsible for this circumstance, because the Commonwealth is simply paying at the present time what the State of Tasmania would have been paying had it still controlled these officers. But I would like to point out that it is commonly stated that prior to the Commonwealth taking over the transferred departments in more than one of the States, the Treasurer or the Parliament, or some other authority having the power, took care to raise the salaries of officers of the departments to be transferred to something higher than they had been receiving in the past. And the Commonwealth therefore took them over, not in fact as they had been conducted for two, three, five, or ten years prior to federal control, but with salaries which had purposely been made higher at that particular juncture.
– They must be at the cost of the State now.
– It may be at the cost of the State, and so far as the State of Tasmania is concerned, I may say that an attempt was made to follow a practice similar to that adopted in Victoria, but the Treasurer of that State was too conscientious to take such a course. Honorable senators may laugh at my applying that epithet to his attitude, but the fact remains that he refused to do it, and I . attribute the refusal to his conscientiousness. That explains the unfortunate position in which the civil servants in the transferred departments in Tasmania find themselves. Their salaries under ordinary circumstances were lowerthan those being paid in other States to officers doing similar work under similar conditions ; but by the circumstances to which I have referred the inequality has been intensified. I should like Ministers representing the Government in this Chamber to know that a considerable amount of dissatisfaction exists in the State I have the honour of representing with reference to the way in which the officers of the Customsdepartment have been treated since the Commonwealth took over that service. In addition to the grievance which officers in that department in Tasmania have in respect of the low rates of salary they receive, that they have been literally worked day and night for months. I cannot say whether that is going on at present, but from personal knowledge I know that for weeks and months nearly every officer in the department in the port of Launceston, and at the other ports in Tasmania, has been working, not merely during the ordinary hours from nine o’clock until half-past four, but often until midnight.
– The new Tariff explains that, but they have mastered it now and that is done away with.
– I recognise that. The people of Tasmania and the officers themselves recognise that the complications arising from the alteration of the Tariff and the transfer of the department to another control necessitated extra work on their part ; but I should like to know from theVice-President of the Executive Council whether it is intended that these particular officers shall receive some consideration for the extra work they have been called upon to do during the last three months? Many of the officers are comparatively young, and have been unaccustomed to have to direct their energy and attention to matters so complicated for such a length of time continuously, not merely upon one day, but practically upon every day of the week.
– Those are some of the blessings of protection which they are now enjoying.
– My honorable friend can never see anything bad, unless he can attribute it to protection, but I may tell the honorable senator that in Tasmania, for many years, we have had a very much higher Tariff than the Tariff which the Customs department there is now called upon to administer.
– But not so complicated.
– It was quite as complicated. There is provision made in the Estimates for the payment of a certain sum - in the case of Tasmania, £504 - not as increases to salaries, but as honoraria to what are known as the deserving officers. I hope that the Postmaster-General will give us an opportunity of expressing our opinions as to the merit or demerit of the officers to whom the money is to be given before it is paid. No doubt he will take the course of asking the heads of the departments to state who are the deserving officers. The heads of ‘ departments are exceedingly human, and it is very freely stated that they have allotted these amounts, and have considered with wonderful unanimity that they are the most deserving officers! The Postmaster-General might well devise some other way of rewarding deserving officers than allowing those who are so directly and pecuniarily interested to determine for themselves to whom any little prize of that character should be awarded.
– The time is opportune for calling the attention of the Government to the large provision which is made in this Supply Bill for the department of Defence. Out of a gross total of £320,995, the Government are asking for £85,392 to be allocated for the purpose of defence. The Bill is quite silent as to the length of time for which this money is required. I presume that it is only required for the interim period.
-Fo -For the month of February.
– That is an alarming state of affairs for the Government to confront. Does Senator O’Connor think it right in a Supply Bill to put down such large sums in different items for contingencies 1 If honorable senators will follow me, they will see that the enormous sum asked for under the head of contingencies is such as no deliberative assembly ought to grant a Government without being furnished with the particulars. For the New South Wales Regiment of Royal Australian Artillery a sum of £3,000 is put down for contingencies, in addition to a sum of £1,000 for salaries. For infantry regiments a lump sum of £5,000 is put down for salaries. We are asked to vote £1,000 for “volunteer general contingencies,” £1,300 for “miscellaneousservices,” and £1,000 for contingencies for the Victorian Regiment of Royal Australian Artillery. These are all sums which, I presume, may be drawn by the Treasurer to recoup his department. The items should not be stated in this bald way unless there is some information given to Parliament. Under the. head of rifle clubs we are asked to vote £37 for salaries, and £5,000 for contingencies. We are also asked to vote £1,000 as contingencies for the militia, £1,400 as contingencies for the war vessels, £2,000 as contingencies for the Naval Brigade, £1,000 as contingencies for the infantry, and - as if this had never been done before - £10,000 for general contingencies, without a word of explanation. Then we find an item of £2,000 as contingencies for the South Australian military forces, and an item of £2,000 as contingencies for the Western Australian military forces. These items aggregate an alarming sum, and if the Bill represents the expenditure for one month, consider what an appalling position we are drifting into when we constitute a defence force which must be entirely beyond the requirements of the Commonwealth. There is no one in the Chamber who is more desirous than I am of seeing an efficient force for military and naval defence. Parliament should generously vote money to the Government for that purpose. But it is wrong to ask for such huge sums without an explanation. I ask the Senate to pause before it votes such a large sum. It is the duty of the Ministers to give some details of this enormous expenditure.
– I have taken out the various votes for contingencies, and I find that they amount to the sum of £60,600.
– I find that the contingencies for the Defence department amount to £25,000. I had hoped that Senator O’Connor, when he introduced the Bill, would have given some explanation with regard to these items for contingencies. I went over and discussed the subject with the Postmaster-General, and I saw that the contingencies were provided for in the Estimates, and that we are now asked to vote the money in anticipation of the Appropriation Bill.
– Senator O’Keefe has complained about the low pay that has been given to some public servants, particularly in the Customs and Postal departments in Tasmania. I have in my mind the instance of a young man in South Australia who has been three years in the service, and is on the eve of attaining his majority. He has been found by the Postal department reliable enough to go into various parts of the country and relieve people, and although no fault has ever been found with his work, he is getting the handsome salary of £39 a year. When some matters of this kind were brought under my notice some time ago I asked the Postmaster-General one or two questions. One question was in regard to increases that were given by Act of Parliament, and increases that were allowed by regulation. I was given to understand that the men were allowed the increases they were entitled to both under Act of Parliament and under regulations. Then I asked the Minister had they been paid, and of course the answer to that question was rather indefinite. I have a list of a very large number of public servants in the Postal department of the model State who ore entitled to increases under the regulations. According to the answer given by Senator Drake, the increases have been allowed, but the men have not got them yet.
– They are put on the Estimates.
– Let the Estimates be hurried along so that these men may not be further harassed by having to. inquire after their increases. I wish to complain of some military appointments which have been made. I have information to the effect that some of the appointments made to the ninth contingent were of such a character that if known to the public they would scarcely be suffered. I shall take the case of a quartermaster sergeant who went with the first contingent and fought through the greater part of the campaign. No complaint was ever made against him, he stood the work in an admirable manner, and on his return he expected some consideration to be shown to him. But when the ninth contingent was sent away he was passed over in the appointment of lieutenantsby a couple of young fellows–
– Does the honorable senator think that this has anything to do with the Bill?
– Most decidedly it has to do with the administration of the Government.
– This Bill is for the payment of salaries.
– An honorable senator can always discuss grievances upon a Supply Bill.
– No ; it can be done on the motion to go into Committee of Supply, but not on the Supply Bill.
– I only wish to express the opinion that a very great injustice has been done to this man. I hope that the officers who were responsible for such appointments will discover that the public eye is upon them, and that they will not be allowed to do these things without getting some censure from the public ultimately. I wish to refer to the list of officers in the Postal department who have not yet. received their increases. I could give numerous instances where they are very inadequately paid, even in the model State of South Australia. I hope that the Postmaster-General and Parliament will give consideration to these things - if not now, when the Estimates are before us.
– The explanation as to why the officers in the “ model State “ have not received the increases that have been provided for either by regulation or by law is recognised in that State. It is that the increases cannot be paid until they are voted. I wish to call attention to the fact that we ought not to have these numerous Supply Bills coming before us. The Estimates ought to be passed earlier in the year. Although there are exceptional circumstances in the present case, I tell the Government frankly that if next year they do not bring forward their Estimates within a reasonable time, they will find me strongly in opposition to them. The trouble that is caused to the officers referred to is due to the fact that we have not passed the Estimates which we ought to have passed. The financial year is rapidly drawing to a close, and we are inflicting hardships on the number of public servants who ought to have received their increments as provided by law. This state of things should not exist. The Estimates should always be passed considerably before Christmas every year. Besides, we really do not know what we are voting. Look at the enormous “ contingencies.” We have no particulars concerning them, and no explanation is made. The word “ contingencies “ can cover almost everything. In South Australia we reduced contingencies to a minimum. Our Parliament has always insisted that as far as possible Governments should distinctly state what the money is voted for. Parliament should not be asked to vote large sums of money in such a way that power to control the expenditure is taken away from it.
– I think it will be seen at once that the matters referred to by honorable senators having reference to certain increments due to officers of the various States cannot very well be dealt with under a temporary Supply Bill. It has been truly pointed out that many of the difficulties referred to by honorable senators arise from the fact that there has been an extraordinary delay in the passing of the Estimates this year. The Senate will see, however, that the circumstances have been entirely exceptional. It would have been impossible for the Government to proceed with the Estimates without delaying the Tariff, which is universally admitted to be of the first importance. Seeing that the circumstances are exceptional, and are not likely to occur again, the Senate is bound to see that the delay in proceeding with the Estimates is also exceptional, and will not occur again. With regard to the salaries and increments alluded to, we are administering affairs in the separate States upon the lines on which they were administered previous to federation. It is not possible for the Government, in administering departments, to increase the salaries of officers at its own will, especially seeing that we have had under consideration for a number of months a Bill that is nearly completed for dealing with the public service. Under the Public Service Bill, a commissioner will be appointed, who, with the aid of inspectors, will do the very work that honorable senators have been alluding to this afternoon. It will be the business and duty of the commissioner to go through the offices, in the various States, see what salaries are being paid, and, if necessary, regrade the officers. I hope and believe that that will tend in the direction of putting the officers of corresponding grades, in the different States in a similar position. The anomalies have been increased in consequence of the action of three States just, previous to federation. In New South Wales a Reclassification Board was appointed, which went through the service, and to a certain extent altered the status of certain officers ; the alterations in many cases carrying an increase of salary. In the State of Victoria, to which Senator Best has drawn my attention, an Act of Parliament was passed (Act No. 1721) providing, in section 19, that every officer of the transferred departments - shall be entitled to receive a salary equal to the highest salary then payable to an officer in a corresponding position in any Australian colony.
This was to apply to officers receiving not more than £150 per annum. That appears to me to refer more particularly, in the case of the Postal and Telegraph department, to officers occupying various positions up to the position of letter-carrier. It was the case of the letter-carriers that was referred to pointedly by Senator Best. I think it will clearly be seen that in carrying out the proprovisions of that Act we must have the assistance of the Public Service Commissioner to decide what is the particular grade of any particular officer ; or else we cannot make a comparison. We cannot give effect to that statute until we know the position a particular letter-carrier occupies, because the letter-carriers are not all in one grade. At the present time the letter-carriers in Victoria are receiving as high salaries as the letter-carriers in New South Wales, or any other State ; but they are differently classified. In New South Wales we have lettercarriers receiving the following salaries : - Six at £150; forty-eight at £144; two at £140. I will not weary the Senate by going through the whole list ; it comes down to one at £26. There are for the year 1 901-2 503 letter-carriers whose remuneration ranges from £150 to £26.
– Very few of them get £150.
-I gave the exact number - six. In Victoria there are 466 letter-carriers receiving from £90 per annum to 57s. per week. It is rather hard to say from a list of that sort exactly whether the average payment is higher or lower in one State than in another. It depends upon the grade, and it is almost impossible for anyone to give effect to the Act of Parlialiament I have quoted until there is some authority to decide what is the grade occupied by each letter-carrier individually. That must be left to the Public Service Commissioner ; but we have, as far as possible, framed the Estimates on the lines upon which they would have been framed if no federation had taken place. Where increases are payable by statute they are given effect to at once ; where increases are payable accordingto thepracticeobtaining in the different States before federation those increases are given. They will be received by the officers when the Estimates are passed, as from the 1st of July. But it must clearly be seen that the Minister administering a department cannot give increases to individuals in anticipation of their being approved by Parliament. Where there are increases which are insured by statute they are paid, but the officers cannot receive them until they have been passed by Parliament.
– Will they be made retrospective ?
– They are on the Estimates as from the 1st of July last. With regard to the £504 for Tasmania, I can assure Senator Keating that the money will not be distributed according to the will of the officers in Tasmania. The particulars will be submitted to the PostmasterGeneral, and 1 trust that Senator Keating will take my assurance that every effort will be made to see that the money is distributed in such a way as to reach those officers who have shown exceptional merit, and who deserve it. As to the contingencies referred to by Senator Zeal, and more particularly with regard to the defence contingencies, it must be remembered that this Bill merely asks for one month’s supply on the basis of the Estimates. If honorable senators refer to the Estimates, which have been distributed, they will see what the money is for. The contingencies are not a lump sum, but can be divided. The subjects are clearly shown on the Estimates. I will take any instance the honorable senator likes.
– Take page 16, division 110. - General contingencies, £10,000.
– If Senator Zeal will turn to page 85 of the Estimates he will find these particulars : - Stores and equipment, £4,000 ; camp equipment, £2,500 ; medical and surgical equipment, £1,000 ; loss on sale of ammunition, £3,000 ; artillery and submarine mining stores and ammunition, £2,000 ; small arms ammunition, £11,275. These are the Estimates for the year. We are asking for £320,955 for a month’s supply.
– A contingency vote of £10,000 is at the rate of £120,000 a year.
– But sometimes heavier payments have to be made in one month than in another. I will go on reading. Wages for storemen, armourers, &c, £1,000 ; travelling expenses, £2,000 ; camp and classes of instruction, £3,500 ; Queensland Rifle Association, £700 ; Northern Rifle Association, £300 ; Central Rifle Association, £175 ; Mackay Rifle Association, £75 ; Western Queensland Rifle Association, £75 ; and so on. All that is asked foi’ now is one month’s supply on account.
– And it may be a more expensive month than some others.
– In some months the amount would be less than one-twelfth part of the whole-
– Are all those votes for Queensland 1
– No. There are special grants to rifle associations, and they will be debited to Queensland. I think I have answered Senator McGregor’s complaint with regard to an officer who is receiving only £39 per annum. No doubt in the particular case to which he refers the officer is receiving what would have been paid to him if there had been no federation. If he is entitled to an increase it will be for the Public Service Commissioner to recommend him for it, and, no doubt, he will obtain it. There are certain cases in which officers are receiving very low salaries, and we all hope that when the Public Service Commissioner is appointed, and looks through the service, he will see, at all events, that these officers are looked after just as much as are those who receive higher salaries. So far as Senator McGregor’s remarks as to the ninth contingent are concerned, he will recognise that it is impossible for any One to deal with complaints that are made in such general terms. If he can supply the defence authorities with a particular case in which an officer has not received his due reward, or in which an officer is not doing his duty, the authorities will attend to the matter ; but a general complaint without the specification of names or details is almost impossible to follow.
– I - In reply.- J purpose saying a few words, in order to answer some questions which have been put during the debate. No one can sympathize more heartily than I do with the view put forward by Senator Playford, that the circumstance that it should be necessary for supply to be asked for in this way puts
Parliament in the position of giving up to a certain extent its function of criticising its expenditure. I think it is admitted, however, that it was impossible that anything else could have been done in the present circumstances.
– It could not be avoided.
– T - That will be generally recognised. We agree with the principle laid down- by Senator Playford, but I think we all agree that it was impossible to follow it in this particular instance. Senator O’Keefe has dealt with the question of uniformity of salaries, which is undoubtedly a very important matter. The Postmaster-General has already given what I consider a complete answer j but I would remind Senator O’Keefe that one of the grounds on which he very properly, if I may say so, supported the Public Service Bill so warmly was that it would enable the Government to’ bring about, without delay, uniformity of salaries throughout the Commonwealth where the same class of work had to be done. That, however, cannot be carried out in a haphazard way. It must be done under a system ; inquiries must be made, and everything that is necessary must be done in order to have a fair adjustment which will be uniform, but will not be extravagant, while it will do justice to every public servant, even in the remotest parts of the Commonwealth. That is our desire, and we have no doubt that the machinery of the Public Service Bill will carry it out. We have every reason to suppose that during this session, and at a very early date, the Public Service Bill will become law, and that there will be no need for delay in creating the department and setting in motion the machinery necessary to bring about what is the desire of every member of the Federal Parliament. Some complaints have been made in regard to the military expenditure. In addition to what Senator Drake has said on the subject, I should like to remind Senator Zeal that the word “contingencies,” as used in the Bill, has not the meaning which may be given to it sometimes in estimates of expenditure. Very often in estimates of expenditure, after describing by name every kind of expenditure which is usually set forth in detail, you lump under the general heading of “ contingencies “ all miscellaneous expenditure. As we cannot have that kind of particularity in a
Bill such as this, and as it is never expected, the word “ contingencies “ is used practically to express everything but salaries. The honorable senator will find, on looking at the Supply Bills which have been passed already by the Senate, that the word “ contingencies “ is used. For instance, in the very last Bill that we passed, provision was made for very large amounts in respect of contingencies. In regard to the Postmaster-General’s department, for example, it provides for “ salaries “ £12,500; “contingencies,” £19,100.
– The word “ contingencies “ is wrongly chosen.
– I d I do not think it is. If the honorable senator will suggest some better word I shall be very much obliged to him. It seems to me that the word is properly chosen, and that it has always been properly used in this respect. Senator Zeal will recognise that the large amountforcontingencies, to whichheref erred, relates to the transferred services. There is no new expenditure. They are simply contingencies for carrying on the services as they were when the military forces were taken over by the Commonwealth.
– Then it is time a reform took place.
– R - Reform is taking place, but it cannot be carried out at once. The honorable senator will recognise that, as we have to describe these items in the short way in which they must be defined in a Bill of this kind, nothing more can be done. Still, the honorable senator is entitled to ask for this information, and I am very glad to give it. Another matter regarding these contingencies is this : The salaries provided for are for the month of February, but a number of the contingencies cover supplies for a very much longer period. In several of these items the military supplies relate to ammunition and other things covering, probably, six months, or at all events a very much longer period than one month. If honorable senators will look at the Supply Bills which have been passed already, they will find that in several of them there is no provision for contingencies. Now we have to lump together some of these large amounts covering contingencies for all these periods. As a matter of fact, it happens that we have now to provide for contingencies which have been used for months, and will be used for months to come. In other words, we have to deal with these things, not on thebare details of these Supply Bills, but to look at the general result. If we turn to the general figures we find that the amounts now asked for and those which have already been voted are well within twothirds of the expenditure provided for on the Estimates. The total expenditure provided for, according to the Estimates, is £4,024,106. The proportion for eight months - that is, two-thirds of the year - is £2,682,770. The amount asked for up to the present time, including the amount named in this Bill, is £2,670,776 ; therefore we are something like £10,000 within the proportion that it may be said we are entitled to ask for. The same result will be found if we take the military vote. Senator Pearce referred to an amount of £3,000 which appears in the schedule. It appears under “new expenditure,” but Senator Pearce will find that it involves the expenditure attendant upon the appointment of the new commandant.
– What is the commandant’s salary ?
– I t I think it is £2,500 per annum. The amount referred to by Senator Pearce comprises the proportion of the commandant’s salary, as well as travelling expenses and other matters of that kind. The commandant’s staff were already members of the different State services. Their salaries are paid and charged to the States in the ordinary way. The honorablesenator hasasked whether that necessarily means any reduction in State expenditure. Undoubtedly it does. It does not mean any reduction directly traceable upon these particular Estimates, but when we remember the reduction of expenditure which must be brought about by proper centralization and organization, the salaries of the commandant, and all expenses attendant on his staff, will be compensated for over and over again by the reduction in general expenditure.
– No other appointment has been made except that of the commandant?
– Non None have been made from outside the service except that of the commandant. Of course, officers have been appointed to his staff, but they were already in the service of the States, and now they are transferable to the central department.
– There may be some officers in the various States who should not be there.
– Und Undoubtedly that is so, but I am not speaking of matters of that kind. I am sure the honorable senator will recognise that the organization of the military forces in Australia is a very great and important work - a work which we believe is in proper hands, and which we feel will be carried out fairly and fearlessly. I hope we shall remember also that, if we want to have an efficient staff and an efficient force, we must be prepared to pay something for them. I think I am in accord with those who say that we should not have any rampant militarism - that we should not have any extravagant expenditure - but we must remember that if we ave to have a force which is to be anything more than
*i mere toy, a mere plaything, we must be prepared to pay for it. The whole matter will be open for discussion when the Appropriation Bill is before the Senate at the end of the session, and I have no doubt honorable senators will find then that the principles laid down by the Government at the outset have been adhered to ; that every economy consistent with efficiency has been exercised. I have caused inquiry to be made into the complaint put forward by Senator Keating that the pay given to partially-paid militiamen for acting as guards of honour and doing other duty of that kind has been reduced from 6s. to 4s. 6d. in one case, and from 3s. to 2s. 3d. in another. I have made inquiries from the accountant of the department, and I am assured that if any reduction has taken place it has been made entirely without authority ; that the military authorities at head-quarters know nothing about it, and that it ought not to have been made. As the honorable senator has made the statement here, I take it that he has some foundation for it ; and it will be inquired into immediately. If there is any ground for supposing that this has been done without authority, steps will be taken to remedy it. I do not think there is anything else of importance which it is incumbent upon me to answer at the present time. I hope that the Senate will be satisfied with the explanations given, and that we shall be able to make this Supply Bill law at the earliest possible moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the President leave the Chair, and the House resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider the Bill.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - You will recollect, sir, that when speaking on the second reading of this Bill, I desired to refer to a little matter, and I thought I would save time by doing so then. Of course I was out of order, and I was rightly called to order.
– I think the honorable senator did refer to it.
– Yes, I did ; but I did not proceed with it. I did not fully explain the matter, and the PostmasterGeneral, in reply, said that on account of the very vague statement I made it was impossible for &ny inquiry to be made. I now desire to make a plain statement, so that some inquiry may be made, and if this is the proper time I will proceed.
– This shows the inadvisability of departing from the rule that discussion ought to be relevant to the subjectmatter of a Bill. A question relating to the conduct of officers in South Africa can have nothing to do with the payment of civil servants. I permitted the PostmasterGeneral to make a general reply to a general statement. I think the matter ought to end there at present, and that Senator McGregor should take some other opportunity of bringing it forward. Because, if the honorable senator is permitted to discuss a matter which is really not involved in this Bill, other honorable senators may upon other occasions take other opportunities of discussing matters which have no relation whatever to the Bill at the time before the Senate. I think it will be better . for Senator McGregor to take some other opportunity, which he can do by giving notice of a motion, of dealing with the matter which he desires to bring forward.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I always understood that at this stage matters of this description could be referred to. I may state that it is not the conduct of officers in South Africa to which I wish to refer. Seeing that this Bill involves the payment of officers, it involves also the appointment of officers. I desire to refer to the appointment of officers, but if I am out of order in doing so now, I will certainly take another opportunity.
– Of course, I do not know anything about the details of the matter the honorable senator wishes to bring forward, but I understand, from the remarks he previously made, that the gentleman to whom he referred is not in the civil service, and is not paid under this Bill, because he has not been appointed. I therefore do not see how his case can be brought up for discussion upon this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
The Schedule -
– We are dealing now with division 1 of the schedule, referring to Parliament, and I desire to bring forward amatterI have had in my mind for a considerable time. I have been very much dissatisfied with the treatment the Senate has received in the matter of the number of paid Ministers by whom the Cabinet is represented here. If I am wrong in raising the question at this time I shall take another opportunity of doing so, but inasmuch as we have 36 members, and the House of Representatives 72 members, and seeing that there are six paid Ministers in the House of Rrepresentatives and only one in the Senate, I say, and I believe honorable senators will agree with me, that the amount of Cabinet representation in this House is altogether inadequate. I have been waiting and hoping that some announcement would be made in this Chamber by some responsible Minister of an intention to remedy that inadequacy. I must confess that I have been somewhat disappointed with the action of a Government which I respect, and am prepared to support, and to which I have already given a general and hearty support in most instances. I say that even at this late hour the Senate should take a stand and claim a fair share of Cabinet representation. The representation we have is altogether inadequate for the amount of work to be done, and to meet the requirements of the Senate.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable senator, but while he has beendiscussing the question I have given it some little attention. I think this is hardly a matter that can be discussed upon a Supply Bill. What the honorable senator proposes would practically involve an alteration of the Constitution. The honorable senator is aware that the number of Ministers is prescribed by Chapter II. of the Constitution Act, and the salaries of Ministers form a specific appropriation in accordance with the terms of section 66.
– Howmany Ministers should there be?
– Section 65 provides -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Ministers of State shall not exceed seven in number, and shall hold such offices as the Parliament prescribes, or, in the absence of provisions, as the Governor-General directs.
– The point Senator Glassey is raising is that we are not supplied with sufficient Cabinet Ministers in the Senate.
– The point I am dealing with is that the question of Cabinet Ministers does not come under the Supply Bill at all.
– In connection with Division 7, dealing with the department of Defence, I should like to have some explanation of the item, “ Royal reception - Military and naval demonstration, £1499.” It seems to me rather late in the day for such an item to appear in a Supply Bill.
– Thi This is a portion of the expenditure incurred at the time of the Federal demonstrations in Melbourne and Sydney. It represents accounts which had not come in at thetime the other accounts were settled. It is a part of the same expenditure which has already been authorized.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - The Commonwealth Government have appointed a new commandant, and are paying him a very reasonable salary. I believe he is a very capable and able man, and New South Wales has had some experience of his ability, covering a period of some few years. I take it that the appointment is a fairly popular one, not merely from an amiable standpoint, but because of the standing, position, and ability of the new commandant. I think we have arrived at a time in connexion with our military and naval defence when there must be a considerable amount of latitude given to the gentleman intrusted with the organization of these departments. , He will have to be permitted, and ought to be permitted to organize the staff under his authority in as efficient a manner as possible. If in doing so he finds it necessary to transfer officers from the different States of the Commonwealth he shouldbe the best judge of the matter, and should be permitted to organize his staff in such a way as will give most satisfaction to the department, and to the Commonwealth as a whole. During the discussion of the second reading of the Bill some reference was made to new appointments, and I gathered from the remarks of some honorable senators that they considered it was altogether wrong to make new appointments, and that the persons already holding offices in the department should be continued in them. It may happen that there are other officers whose claims have not been sufficiently recognised, for various reasons, and there may be officers having greater military experience outside of the department, and these circumstances should not be allowed to prevent their appointment. I would resent any such proposition as that the commandant is bound to select officers who are already holding positions in the service, despite the fact that he may be able to secure abler men with better military experience by going outside the service. If our forces are to be properly organizedand equipped, the commandant should have a free hand in their organization. If it is found that he is too extravagant, that will be a matter for Parment to deal with. But for Parliament to interfere with the appointment of this or that officer by the commandant, unless it be shown that a gross injustice has been done, would be a very great mistake. I have on many occasions freely and forcibly criticised military expenditure in my own State, and I will take opportunities of doing so under the Commonwealth ; but the time has come when, without consenting to the creation of a military caste in the Commonwealth, the commandant should be allowed to organize our military forces as efficiently as possible with reasonable expenditure. Parliament would make a great mistake if it merely said thatthe officers were good enough under the old regime, and they ought to be good enough under the new regime. There are officers who should not be there at all. They have been a bar to progress for some considerable, time in Queensland, and, doubtless, in other States. Men have been refused admission into the service not because they were incompetent, but for other reasons. It would be manifestly unjust to these persons to say that simply because they have not been employed, new appointments should not be made. I strongly protest against any curtailment of the operations of the new Commandant in organizing his force, and making it as complete as possible.
– Who has proposed to curtail his operations ? I have not heard any one make such a proposal.
– I heard Senator Pearce make some objections to new appointments.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood what I was driving at. I was objecting to overloading the defence forces.
– I also object very strongly to the defence forces being overloaded, but, in the interests of the Commonwealth, we should give the Commandant a free hand to organize his staff in the most efficient manner.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Debate resumed from 6th February (vide page 9770), on motion by Senator O’Connor-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I am sorry that this Bill, of much vaster importance than anything we have been discussing this afternoon, has had its position on the paper shiftedso that it is called on at a time when so few honorable senators are present. The discussion of the capital was at the present stage absolutely out of consideration, when we had a Bill of this importance to consider. This Bill, which was introduced in a facile, pleasant speech as substantially a mere machinery Bill, invades the Constitution in several particulars, and is bad, lock, stock, and barrel. I am entirely opposed to the Bill.
– T - Tothe whole of the Bill?
– I think I may say to the whole of the Bill, without any exception. It consists of three parts. I am entirely opposed to the method of subdivision of districts, to the single member districts, and to the introduction of the new system of voting, and when I have mentioned those things I think I have mentioned the substance of the Bill, to which I am entirely opposed. I think I shall be able to satisfy the Senate before 1” have finished that we ought not to go any further. The creation of single member districts is a matter which I believe is within the power of either House, and which will have to be considered on its merits. I wish to express my regret that, in addition to all the vastly important things which have been thrust upon us in this first Parliament, we should have had questions of no urgency brought before us which we certainly shall have no opportunity of properly and thoroughly considering, and which at all events could equally well be disposed of a little later on. It is rather a pity that just now, when we are waiting for the Tariff to come up, we should embark on the discussion of a question which for the last 50 years the whole English-speaking public have been hopelessly divided upon, which has been tried by only one English-speaking country - a most intelligent country, composed of an old settled population, all politicians, all knowing exactly what they were doing - and repealed almost as soon as it had been tried. It is a pity that we should have those things hurled at us unnecessarily at this stage of the session, and that, if the Government thought there was a necessity to deal with the subdivision of districts for the purpose of the House of Representatives this session, they did not confine their Bill to that one subject without dealing with this great and debatable question, which, I venture to say, none of us properly understand. I do not pretend to understand it. I spent a week over the Bill while my honorable friends were travelling about, and I understand entirely what is a matter of history - that every person, including Hare, who has devoted himself, and I may say herself, to close and exclusive study of this subject, has always ended in something like idiocy. That is inevitable.
– F - For instance, Mr. Justice Inglis Clark, of Tasmania. He is a good, long way from idiocy, I should think.
– Mr. Justice Inglis Clark, who is a warm personal friend of mine, was in office, and, no doubt, like the present Ministry, he had to do what he was told. I suppose that my friend, being forced to do it, did the best he could. He passed the best Bill that has ever been, passed. What was the result 1 It worked splendidly the first time, when no one knew how it would work. But when they understood the tricks, and the party managers got to work at the next election, it worked so abominably that the candidates who were not intended to be returned got returned to a man. My honorable friends in the labour corner side are terribly mistaken about this Bill, for it will work against no one worse than it will against them. If we wish to ascertain how these theories are worked out, let us turn to the smallest, and I should say the most intelligent State in Australia - composed of men long settled, largely interested in all public concerns, led by most able men, as we know from the excellent representatives we meet here - let us turn to Tasmania and ask ourselves what they did with this system. They did not even try it in all Tasmania ; they only tried it in two towns, Hobart and Launceston, to see how it worked. There ought not to be the slightest trouble in working it properly. I expected Senator Clemons, who made a most able speech, to tell us why it had failed so badly in Tasmania, but he did not tell us anything about it.
– Because he could not. He was wise not to try.
– I have a book here ; it may be all lies, as many of these books are.
– The honorable and learned senator means those in defence of proportional representation 1
– The whole thing may be absolutely untrue. This book may be a combination of falsehoods, and every statement in reference to what has occurred may be untrue. But the author certainly does devote himself to some small extent to the Tasmanian experience, and shows how the scheme in force there has worked.
– Who is the author 1
– His name is Ashworth. I do not know him, but he is an exceedingly able man. This is the most admirable book I have seen on thesubject, and I have devoted a week to reading everything I could about it.
– The honorable and learned senator stated distinctly just now that every one who studied the subject became an idiot !
– Give a man time ! It all depends on the amount of brain possessed at the beginning. Some people become idiots sooner than others !
– W - What is the name of the book ?
– Ashworth on Proportional Representation. I do not say that Mr. Ashworth has found out anything particularly new, but at all events he puts his arguments with admirable perspicuity, and into the shortest compass in which I have seen the case put. For a long while this question was in the clouds. Nobody bothered much about it. It was started by Mr. Hare some 50 years ago - rather more, but we will say 50 years. Mr. Hare proposed a scheme which was mathematically perfect, and it is the only scheme to cany out the views of the supporters of proportional representation which can be described as mathematically perfect. But it was so absolutely impossible and ridiculous that it never took hold. It was condemned by every one who dealt with it - by Gladstone, by Disraeli, by every public man, no matter on what side of politics he sat.
– Except by John Stuart Mill.
– I mean that it was condemned by every practical politician. The principle of Hare’s Bill was logical. He said : Divide the whole of England into districts ; make everybody vote for as many candidates as there are places to be filled. Plumping, of course, was absolutely inconsistent with this system. The Bill introduced by the Government is a regular olla podrida - it is neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. Hare’s system was that there should be returned, according to the population of England, 654 members to the House of Commons, and that they should be elected by the whole of the electors of England. He would have given the whole votingpower of England the right to exercise the franchise in the way he suggested. The scheme was called at the time one to insure the representation of minorities. It was condemned as a scheme for the representation of minorities, and not majorities. But now they have altered it. They have dropped the original description of the scheme and altered the nature of it.
– I - I thought the honorable and learned senator said that this was not Hare’s scheme.
– Did I? I said that Hare’s scheme was the only scheme of the kind which involved a logical principle. While keeping to the general contour of the ‘scheme so far as they could, the framers of this Bill have emasculated it, taking out of it the whole of its principles. Yet they profess to be running under a divinity of the same name. The object of Hare was undoubtedly to insure the representation of minorities ; and supposing that human nature had been a mathematical quantity, and not human nature, his scheme would have done it. But others, finding that the unfortunate factor of human nature would have to come into competition with the most astute results of the mathematician, have altered his plan. Thus we get the schemes of Gregory, Droop, Clark, Nansen, and so on. Each one of these in altering the scheme has gradually diminished the value of the Hare system by trying to make something practical out of it, which will, as the result of their own showing, operate in a directly opposite way to which Hare intended. Whilst his intention was to insure minorities being represented, they say that their schemes are for enabling majorities to be properly represented. The results will be the same, only in this case more strongly than under Hare’s principle the results will be, when it is all done, that we shall not have majorities represented, but minorities, and majorities will have to go to the wall. I intend to devote a little time before I finish to proving that statement, but before I begin to do so, I want to say a word or two as to other parts of the Bill, and something in limine about this part of the Bill also. As far as concerns the first part of the measure, it is a proposal that we should authorize the Government to appoint a commission to inquire into the manner in which it is most advisable to divide the districts for the purpose of returning members to the House of Representatives.
– App Appoint a commission in each State, for the purpose of dividing the electorates.
– Exactly. That commission, when appointed, is to report the results of its investigations and conclusions, not to the Parliament, but to one House; and that House alone is to determine what the divisions shall be. To my mind that is a direct invasion of the Constitution. I will not say that it is the most direct invasion that could have been made, but it is stronger than could have been expected. The great fight we had in establishing the position of the smaller States, and in providing for their equal representation in the Senate, was over the principle that one House should represent the States and the other should represent population. The principle also was that the legislation of the Parliament had to be passed by both Houses. Now, however, it is proposed that we should legislate in the direction of authorizing the Government to appoint a commission of this kind. We do not know who they will be ; we do not know anything about them. But we are asked to delegate our authority to the Government, who may appoint A commission, which commission is to do something else which the Government do not know anything about ; and when the commission has done that, or rather when the different commissions have done it, because there is to be one in each State, they are’ to report, not to the Parliament, but to one House, what they have done, and that House is to decide whether to adopt their recommendations or not. If we can do what the Government now propose to do we could equally well refer all legislation that comes before uh to a commission to be appointed by the Government. If we can do it in one case wo can do it in any case. But the Constitution is plain enough. It says that “until the Parliament otherwise provides,” and in the absence of other provision, a State shall be treated as one constituency for the purpose of the elections to the House of Representatives. “ Until the- Parliament otherwise provides.” How should we provide it 1 By passing a Bill saying that the States si lal 1 not be treated as ohe constituency. But instead of doing that in this case we are asked to send it to a commission, putting ourselves slavishly in the hands of the Government. I am not referring to this particular Government. It might be any Government. I am talking of the Constitutional position, and my remark has no reference to the Government which happens to be on the Treasury benches. This is a big question of our rights, and I am talking about handing over to the Government which happens to be in office the sacred duty which our Constitution imposes upon ourselves. The one question insisted upon at the Convention was that the States should have a voice in the Parliament as States, and that they should sit here equally represented as States, with an equal voice. Yet one of the first important Bills we are asked to pass is a Bill which says that we abrogate that position, without which the smaller States would never have agreed to come into the Commonwealth. We are asked to deny ourselves that right on the most serious matter of all - leaving to the other House alone the right of deciding what the districts are to bc from which its various members shall come. We have been insisting all along upon the co-equal position of the two Houses. Apart from what may be necessary for reasons of finance, we insist upon our co-equality. Yet we are asked to admit our palpable inferiority on this most vital question of all. to us - the manner in which the other House shall be returned, which is alleged to be the superior House to ourselves, though we deny it to be superior to ourselves. We are asked to say that we shall have no voice in that matter, but sholl simply leave it to the Government which happens to be in office, backed up by the commissions they appoint at their discretion, backed up again by the House of Representatives. This power might be used to divide the districts so as to deprive us of the power we have at present.
– How could that be done ?
– Has it not been done in other cases ? What was the complaint in America, where they left the division entirely to the States? What does gerrymandering mean?
– I - It was left to the Parliaments of the States in America.
– That is the State, I should imagine.
– We We propose that the commissions shall deal with the matter.
– The commissions will be in the hands of the Government. I am not talking of this Government, in which I have great confidence, but of the constitutional position. The matter will be left to commissions appointed by the Government, which will report to a House of Parliament to which the Government holds itself responsible. If that is permitted, how can we expect the power of the Senate to be co-equal with that of the other House? If, in this most serious matter of all–
– We abrogate the functions of the Senate–
– Yes, we shall be absolutely false to every State that returns us ; we shall go back upon all the work clone by members of the Convention who stood behind the smaller States, and the good results they believed they had brought about. I cannot understand why this proposal has been made. There seems to be no call for it. I have never heard of any wish on the part of the other House to unduly intrude upon our prerogatives ; I have never heard of any desire on the part of New South Wales to invade our privileges, nor have I heard that Victoria has any disposition in that direction. Why should a proposal be launched upon us which, if it had been carried on the Vice-President of the Executive Council’s speech in introducing the Bill, would have deprived us of the greatest safeguard under the Constitution for preventing the Federation from becoming an amalgamation practically of all the States into one. That is what it might come to if this power - which ought not to be given - were allowed, and happened to be abused. We should only have to say to our constituents “ The two Houses were established as a check upon each other, so as to prevent the rights of the majority from overruling and destroying the rights of. the States as entities ; but all we can say for ourselves is that we have abandoned our position ; that we handed over the authority to the Government in office ; that we gave them leave to hand it over to commissions, and to give the commissions leave to report, and be responsible only to the other House.”
– The honorable and learned senator is now arguing strongly for minority representation.
– My honorable friend was always for amalgamation. He was never a State rights man. I was. I believe that the majority of honorable senators will agree with me, in thinking that the end of all this is not that we should have only one House, is not that we should do away with the Senate, and have one House returned by the whole of the people, and have it governed merely by a majority. I believe that we mean to preserve the individual liberties of the different States, subject only to the powers which they have handed over to the Federation. The first proposal made in the Bill is an invasion of the Constitution, and even if we desired to carry it out we could not do so.
– The Constitution merely says - “Until the Parliament otherwise provides.”
– Parliament must provide in a proper way.
– And Parliament consists of two Houses.
– Yes. In regard to this matter, everything is until the Parliament provides. The Constitution provides in regard to other matters that the Parliament may provide. Here the provision is that Parliament must do so. Parliament consists of the representatives of all the States, and not of the representatives of one only. Parliament must exercise its intelligence. This proposal might easily be brought down to the reductio ad absurdum. If we can carry out the proposal made in this particular instance, then in regard to every Act of legislation which requires the approbation of Parliament, we could authorise the Government to appoint a commission whose reports should be made to the other House only, that House having the right to reject or adopt them as it pleased. I need not argue the question whether that would be constitutional. I only put this extreme case as an illustration of what this proposal might come to. This is one of the mostmischievous instances in which this departure from our strict rights could possibly arise. Before dealing with the question of expediency in regard to single electorates for the House of Representatives, I should like to say a word or two with reference to the proposed new system of voting. I suggest to the Senate that to pass that part of the Bill which limits each elector to a single transferable vote, is to invade the Constitution. The electors and the Parliaments never authorized the Commonwealth to interfere with the voting basis. In section 8 of the Constitution, provision is made for the abolition of plural voting which existed here, but not I think in New South Wales, at the time that the Act was passed.
– I - It existed in Victoria at that time, but I do not think it existed in New South Wales.
– Yes. We provided in section 8 of the Constitution that plurality of voting should be “abolished in respect of the Commonwealth Parliament. The words in which the Convention phrased that provision are as follows : -
The qualification of electors of senators shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives, but in the choosing of senators each elector shall vote only once.
We then authorized the Parliament of the Commonwealth to determine the method in which the elections should be conducted. We provided that until the Parliament made laws with respect to the subdivision of districts, the electors in each State should vote as one body ; and that the method of voting should be according to the State laws. Then we expressly gave the Parliament power to alter the method, but we never gave it power to interfere with the voting. We provided in section 41, which it will be remembered, was very much discussed, that -
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State, shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That was a positive enactment, which we inserted in the Constitution advisedly, and after much consideration. I will show the Senate presently that the proposal in this Bill is that, in certain circumstances, an elector shall lose two-thirds of his votes in regard to the Senate, that is where there are three members to be elected. The Commonwealth Parliament has no right to interfere with the voting power given by any State. Any adult authorized by the law at the time of the enactment of the Constitution to vote for the House of Assembly of any State has the right to vote for both Houses of our Legislature. We took care to make that provision in order to prevent any possible interference at subsequent dates, either because of local influences or other causes. We inserted it in the Constitution in order to prevent tricks being played with the Constitution; to prevent persons from being disallowed the full votes to which they were entitled. Now, what is going to be done 1 We have to look at this matter in relation to the law which existed at the time of the enactment of the Constitution. The Commonwealth can divide the States into districts for the purpose of elections either for the Senate or the House
I of Representatives. The Government pro pose to adopt that practice in regard to elections for the House of Representatives, but not for the Senate. The vote of an elector will be for the candidates who are seeking to represent a State br the subdivision of a State. But this Bill proposes, in the case of the House of Representatives, to subdivide the States, in which a man has his own vote, and certain other tricks are played.
– A - An elector has a right to vote for one person only.
– I am talking about the number of men to be elected. There can be no difficulty in relation to the House of Representatives, for each State has to be divided into single electorates. One person has to be returned for each electorate, and therefore only one person can be voted for. When the Government come to deal with the Senate they propose to treat a whole State as one constituency, but to destroy two-thirds, or five-sixths, as the case mav be, of the voting power of an elector. The very principle of this scheme is that an elector shall vote only for one man. The term is a “single transferable vote.”
– Only to be used for one man.
– Only to be effective for one man. If there are three candidates to be elected, A, B, and C, and an elector votes “ 1 “ for A, and A is put in, his voting paper is gone. He has no other vote for the other two seats. It will be so throughout. Supposing A fails, and so the elector’s second vote is taken over to B, and B gets in, then his vote, having become effective, is exhausted. It can never be effective more than once. Therefore, instead of being able to vote for as many persons as there are seats to be filled, -the elector will have only the right to vote for one. It is really a preferential vote. In the case of the House of Representatives the Government say straightforwardly, “ We divide the States into districts.” In the case of the Senate they say disingenuously that the States will not be divided into districts, when in reality they will be. There can be no mistake about the House of Representatives. There will be only one candidate to be elected in each case, and the elector will vote only for one. In the case of the Senate the elector will think that he is voting for the lot ; that he is applying the same principle, for, underlying the calculation, is ‘the division of the districts-
– Districts of opinion but not territorial districts.
– Exactly; but still districts. They are unascertained districts ; they are districts which have no limitations and might possess the very worst principles of gerrymandering, because the very principle of gerrymandering was that a block was put here and connected in some way with a block two or three miles off, in which there were some voters which it was desired to secure. At any rate, if we are going to make a distinction between the elections for the two Houses and make one the vote of the whole of the people, let us carry out that principle. If the Commonwealth can play fast and loose with a vote which ought to be a vote for every candidate by reducing it to a vote for one candidate, what is to prevent us making it half a vote? What is to prevent us reducing it to fractions in any way we may think fit 1 The potentialities of our interference with that right which we intended most sacredly to preserve by section 41 of the Constitution become absolutely limitless. The only possible way in which we can maintain section 41 is by maintaining it according to the status quo at the time when it was passed, when every man had a right to vote for as many candidates as stood to represent him - not for all the candidates - and not that he should elect one or alternately another, and practically get but one vote. Where a district was large enough to return two members he was entitled to two votes, and where it was large enough to return three members he was entitled to three votes - that is a vote for each member, not a plurality of votes, which would mean more than one vote for each member. He was entitled to as many votes as there were members to be returned whether the number happened to be one, two, or three. Our Constitution endeavours industrially to secure us that right, and it does secure it. This is an endeavour in an indirect way to sneak round the Constitution to alter its whole basis, and to do what I am perfectly certain the States would never have agreed to - to sacrifice the very first principles upon which they were acting.
– D - Does the honorable and learned senator mean that we arc tied down to the block system for ever, and can make no amendment of it ?
– I mean to say that we are tied down to the system that existed when we were established as a Commonwealth. That is not the block system, but we need not quarrel about terms. We are tied down to the system in existence at that time. It is a terrible state of things and my honorable and learned friend seems to be shocked. I thought he would have been delighted.
– I - I would indeed be shocked if I thought we had bound ourselves to a Constitution such as that.
– I would not be in the least degree shocked In view of the tendency exhibited by some honorable senators, I am very glad we did bind ourselves to such a Constitution, because it just shows the tricks that might be played if we had not taken very good care, looking at the dangers ahead, to make provision that there should be no emasculation of the voting power given in any State.
– Tell us some of the dangers.
– I will deal with the dangers presently. The first objection is this : I say we are entitled under the very letter of our Constitution to vote for as many candidates as there are seats to be filled. That means that we are not to be limited to one candidate, but that we are to have an active and effective vote in the choice of more than one candidate, and that is the principle of every Constitution at the present time. Because that is so, it does not follow that it is right, but it is the principle, and the principle of the Constitutions under which we lived at the time the Commonwealth Constitution was passed, and under which that Constitution was passed. The alteration proposed to be made is this : Instead of voting for, say, six members, we are to vote for one. Instead of members requiring to get a majority of votes, they are to get something else which has no reference to the majority of the whole votes.
– That might be under our present system of voting.
– And must be under the proposed system.
– But whatever the effect of dividing a district up into so many voting powers, the adoption of the Droop system will entitle a man to be elected’ without reference to any majority, so long as he has got what is called “ the quota.” That is a direct alteration of principle, vastly important. The advocates of this system ask - “Why should our votes be thrown away? They say - “ This is the way we wish to have them dealt with, and we are the judges, not you.” In fact, this Bill most carefully provides that the votes may be thrown away, because a voter need not vote for more than one candidate unless he likes.
– It facilitates the wasting of votes.
– Of course. I am submitting first of all, as a question of law, that we have not the power to do it ; that we are sacrificing the charter of our Constitution; and that we are giving up conditions upon which the States came into federation. The States only came in on the condition that their voting power should be preserved, and one of the first acts we are trying to do is to take away two-thirds of their voting power in the case before us. I have given the matter much consideration, and though I may be wrong, I submit the opinion for what it is worth. To me it is quite conclusive that if we interfere with the present system - and I accept it exactly as Senator O’Connor put it - so as to provide that a vote shall have less power than it has at the present time, to emasculate it by the smallest fraction, we invade the Constitution, and, of course, the more we take away the greater the invasion we shall be perpetrating. That is the point I state as a matter of law, which we ought to stand by under the Constitution, and which, if there were a tribunal to vindicate it, ought to be vindicated by that tribunal, if appealed to. I have been dealing with this Bill from the point of view that the right to do this was negatived. I am now going to suggest that it is not necessary that it should be negatived, that the power we seek to exercise has to be conferred. This Parliament has no common law powers ; it is the creature of a statute. It has just identically and exactly the powers that the statute gives it, it has no more and no less. I ask Ministers to follow me, and by interjection or otherwise, if they will be so good to tell me where the power is conferred to do what they seek to do. The only section of the Constitution that deals with it substantially that I know of is section 7, which provides that -
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State directly chosen by the people of the State-
That is absolute. voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.
There is the qualification. All the power given to Parliament is to divide the State into as many districts as it likes, but it cannot interfere beyond that so far as that section is concerned. Section 9, the only section under which the power can be claimed, says -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that the method shall be uniform for all the States. Subject to any such law, the Parliament of each State may make laws prescribing the method of choosing the senators for that State.
There is the power. In fact, what we very industriously did in framing the Constitution was to leave the States alone as much as we could. It was the only condition on which we could have induced the States to enter the Federation, and leaving the States alone as much as we could, we left them the absolute power of deciding amongst themselves the method in which their representatives should be chosen. They could make divisions if they liked, or they could leave it alone if they liked. In seeking to establish the Federation we began primarily on the basis that we did not wish to interfere with any State more than was necessary in respect to the particular subject-matters over which the Federation had control ; but we said, “ As far as your method of selecting your senators and your representatives is concerned, we allow you not only to use your present methods, but to legislate for other methods, and, of course, we reserve to the Federal Parliament the power to override your legislation in some degree where the occasion arises.” I want to consider first of all the cases in which the Constitution gives an overriding power, and if the question has arisen yet. The only overriding power it gives to this Parliament is to make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that it shall be uniform for all the States.
– That is to say, providing the machinery.
– Under that provision they might say that it was to be open voting, or voting by ballot.
Those are not questions which relate to the franchise, but questions which relate to the method in which it may be exercised.
– And that method may be the Hare method.
– It is not the Hare method, because I have been endeavouring, very indifferently probably, to show that that is not a method at all, but a great constitutional principle not interfering, because, thank God, it has never been established yet, and, where it has been established, it has been abandoned, but proposing to interfere with the original right of the elector to vote for as many persons as there are candidates. The Hare system is not a method, but a great political principle. Adopt it if you like, but do not call it a method. I would say to Senator Charleston it is not a question of method, if I have six votes, and he methodises me out of five of them, so that I have only one. He may call it a method as much as he likes, but that is a deprivation of my rights, supposing that I had them.
– There is not much force in that. I thought there was at first.
– T - That is the advantage of an explanation.
– I have a strong opinion, and, I hope, enough friendliness about me to admit that I am wrong if any one can reassonably show me that I am. But, in the meantime, I happen to be in company with the greatest statesmen of the world ever since this system was started, 50 years ago. I happen to be in the company of the Tasmanians, who have made a mess of it, and whose intelligence I still insist upon, in spite of efforts which may be made to discount them. If I am erring it is in the company of every eminent statesman that England has had, omitting one man, and a very good man, too, who retired from politics because his party did not agree with him. I do not think I can be accused of arriving at hurried conclusions. Where is the power given in the Constitution ?
– I - It is given in section 7, section 9, and sub-sections (36) and (39) of section 51.
– God forbid that we should be in the hands of people who are going to take away our liberties against the express words of the
Constitution by the exercise of such a legislative power as this -
Matters in respect, of which this Constitution makes provision until the Parliament otherwise provides.
If my argument is any good at all, we have in the Constitution a well-considered, well thoughtout provision that this Parliament shall not do this, that, and the other thing, and now I am referred to sub-section (36) of section 51. What I am talking about here is that this is not a matter of making provision until the Parliament otherwise provides. Sub-section (39), I understand from Senator O’Connor, deals with the question -
Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof or in the Government of the Commonwealth or in the Federal Judicature or in any department or officer of the Common wealth.
That takes us no further at.all.
-What a pity.
– It is not a pity but a fact. I hope that we are dealing with this question not as a jocose subject to be fooled about by people who have not considered it very much or who have made up their minds before they have considered ‘it, but with a desire to assist each other in arriving at sound and reasonable conclusions. I say that sub-section (39) refers to matters not specifically provided for, but incidental and necessary to the working of the Constitution, and therefore in respect to which we ought to have the implied power - and it is given to us - to make laws if necessary to fill up gaps in the Constitution. What I am talking about now is no gap in the Constitution, if I am right. It is a carefullyconsidered, wellthoughtout scheme, the very basis of which was that we would not allow the people to be deprived of their suffrage. This undoubtedly is ascheme to deprive persons of the suffrage which now exists. We have no common law authority ; it is all statutory authority that we have. Section 7 gives us no authority to do this thing. Section 9 does give us some authority, but the only authority it gives us is to prescribe the method of choosing senators, but so that it shall be uniform for all the States.
– Is not that against the honorable and learned senator’s argument ? Section 9 seems to me to upset it.
– It is as clear as the day that it is not inconsistent in the smallest degree. Method has nothing to do with the franchise. Method is the manner. It may be that you are to vote openly or by ballot or that you are to vote in this way or in that way. It can only mean the manner in which you are to conduct your election, and you are not by a term likethat to deprive the people of the vote which the Commonwealth Constitution carefully preserves to them. That is my contention about it:I say that we have first of all provided in section 7 that senators are to be chosen by the people. Section 9 provides the only power that is given of prescribing the method. There is no other power for the Parliament to interfere with the right that each man has to vote for each candidate to be elected. We have carefully preserved the right of each elector of a State to have the full benefit of his franchise. To have it in respect of what? In respect of the candidates who are to be elected. But now it is proposed to take that right away, and to give the elector an infinitesimal portion of that right.
– Still, he has the right to vote.
– There are none so technical as laymen on questions of law ! I say unhesitatingly, that the very object of these sections was to prevent tricks like this being played upon the Constitution. Let any one read the debates of the Convention with regard to maintaining the full right of voting, and not giving Parliament any power to interfere with it. Yet we are now asked to pass a law which will interfere with it most viciously.
– In theConvention an amendment was adopted giving each elector a vote for every candidate to be elected, but that was afterwards struck out.
– I do not recollect it. It mayhave been struck out because it was already provided for.
– I do not remember an amendment of that kind.
– I have no recollection of anything of the kind. What Ido say unhesitatingly is that at the Convention there was never any suggestion of frittering away the vote in this style, or we should never have agreed to it. If there was such an amendment perhaps it was struck out, because the section was broad enough, and there was no necessity to put it in ; though I have no recollection of any such question cropping up.
– I make the statement, and I will look up the debates.
– Many things cropped up of which I have no recollection ; but I am talking of what was adopted.
– In South Australia the whole State was one electorate for the Houseof Representatives, and every elector had sevenvotes. If we divide the State into single electorates, an elector will have only one vote, and we deprive him of six votes.
– That is exactly the scheme.
– The Constitution says Parliament may do that.
– So they can if they do it in a proper way. If Parliament chooses to divide a State, for the purpose of electing the members of the House of Representatives, into districts each represented by one member, then each elector will have a vote for one man. If the Parliament divides the States into two-member electorates, each elector will have a vote for two members ; if into three-member electorates, each elector will have a vote for three members. The Constitution has carefully given the powers which the Convention intended should be exercised.
– Can Cannot that power be exercised with regard to the Senate also ? Could we not divide the States into single electorates?
– Undoubtedly ; I would not contest that for a second. That is the point I am at. Undoubtedly the electors are to vote for the members ofthe Senate as one body, “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.” The electors for the House of Representatives are to vote for the representatives as one electorate “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.” The powers are identical in both instances. The Parliament can dividea State if it chooses ; but when a State is so dividedthe electorswill have to vote for as many members as have to be returned for each division. If they are single electorates each voter will vote for one ; if they are double the elector will vote for two ; if they are treble the elector will votefor three, and so on. That is one very strong point of my argument. We first of all save the right of the elector to vote for as many persons as there are seats ; then we have given the power to subdivide intosmaller electorates ifthe Legislature pleases. Let the Legislature divide them into smaller electorates, and then the voting will be according to the number of members to beelected. But to make a State one electorate and to say that the elector shall have one vote or two is not authorized in any way by the Constitution, but is negatived in every section dealing with the subject. As to sub-sections (36) and (39) of section 51 which have been referred to, I venture to say, with great respect, that they have nothing to do with the question. Sub-section (36) simply deals with cases that arise throughout the Constitution, and the words are used “until the Parliament otherwise provides,” Parliament may provide ; and I venture to say that we did. not need that sub-section to tell us so much, because it was of necessity implied that every section which said “ until the Parliament otherwise provides” gave the Parliament power to provide otherwise.
– Will the honorable and learned senator read sections 30 and 31?
– I will read section 30 -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of electors of members of the House of Representatives shall be in each State that which is prescribed by the law of the State as the qualification of electors of the more numerous House of Parliament of the State ; but in the choosing of members each elector shall vote only once.
Is that the point - “only once”? I expected thatmy special-pleading friends would say something about that phrase “ only once.” That provision was put in both in the section relating to the House of Representatives and in that relating to the Senate, simply for the purpose of preventing plurality of voting. Ichallenge any honorable senator to say that there was any other object. That isall it does. It does not say “only once” in the sense that if there are six members to be elected, the elector shall vote for only one, but that he shall only vote on one , occasion.
– I - It secures one man one vote - that is the intention.
– Undoubtedly ; and it has no reference to the point ait issue.
– The elector is not compelled to vote for six.
-Oh, no. As far as that question is concerned, it merely provides that one man shall only have one vote.
– That is “until the Parliament otherwise provides.” We can provide anything else than that.
– I will take myhonorable friend on that point. The sectionis dead against him. It gives no power, says the honorable senator, of enabling the elector to vote more than once. I will concede that for the purpose of argument.
– I did not say that.
– That is the inference, is it not ?
– No ; that is the condition which is to exist “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.”
– The honorable senator says that the Parliament has a right under that section to reduce the qualification or to increase it ; is that so ?
– No ; the Parliament can only increase it.
– That is what I thought my honorable friend meant. If the Parliament has only the power to increase it, there is no implied power to takeaway that right winch already exists ; it is a power to extend. But, in my opinion, it is a power neither to increase nor toextend,but is merely intended to deal with the simple question that there shall be no plurality of voting. That was the intention, and that, I believe, as the construction which should be placed upon the section. Butsuppose it does give a power ofextending -that wouldbe no argument against what I am contending for. This legislation seeks to limit, not toextend and even if the section does give a power to extend,it does not give a power to limit. Thismatter is in importance far beyond any question which we have had before us during this Parliament. The Bill was broughtf orward as a simple machinery Bill, apleasant, easy Bill that we could get through as comfortably as possible; but upon examination it is discovered that people who have three votes now, in future will have only one. The Senate consists of six members for each State. Three of them retire at a certain time. The Constitution intends that there shall be three votes for every elector.
– Every voter has three votes cut into three parts.
– That is funny ! Is it contended that every voter has a third of a vote ? Every voter at present has a vote for as many candidates as there are seats vacant. There being three seats to be filled up he will have a vote for three as the law stands at present. This is a proposal to give him a vote for one.
– His vote can only be counted for one.
Senator Sir JOHN DOWNERExactly ; his vote can only be effective once. We will say there are three members to be elected and ten candidates. The ten candidates have 500 votes each. I vote for three. That puts them in. But under this proposal I could vote for only one, and it would put him in, and not interfere with the others.
– Why should one be compelled to vote for a man whom he does not like?
– He need not ; but that has nothing to do with the question. Under the present system we can plump for a man or please ourselves about the matter. We can vote for one, two, or three candidates, according to the extent of our voting power ; but wehave the vote. This Bill takes it away. It says in effect - “In no circumstances shall you have more than one effective vote.” In any case I can return only one, while under the existing system I might vote for three.
– Under the ticket system one might not get a man in.
– I am trying to deal with the constitutional question ; the question of whether we have any power to deprive the electors of the votes they now possess.As, the law stands at present each elector has to vote for as many candidates as there are seats to be filled. Under the system proposed in this Bill I shall have a vote for one and no more. That is the important provision worked with great subtlety into this Bill. A great many did not understand it at first. The scheme has been talked about for 50 years, and I think it will be discussed for another 50 years before it is adopted. However that may be, I am dealing at present with the short and simple point, that we have no power to deprive the people of the suffrage which is carefully preserved to them in the Constitution.
– T - The Hare-Spence system was in force in Tasmania when the Constitution was passed. Have we the power to alter the Hare-Spence system of voting for the Senate in Tasmania ?
– Probably not ; but whether we have or not, we have not the power to do so under the term “method.” It may be the fault of the Constitution that we have not the power ; but this is begging the question.
– O - Oh, no. I only desire the honorable and learned senator to answer my question.
– I have answered it. We can alter the method.
– B - But can we alter the Hare-Spence system of voting for the Senate in Tasmania?
– We cannot do so if the method is a matter of substance.
– A - And the honorable and learned senator says that it is.
– Therefore we cannot alter it.
– A - And we cannot have uniformity for that reason ?
– We can have uniformity of method, but we cannot have a method which establishes a principle.
– We may enlarge, but we cannot deprive.
Senator Sir JOHN DOWNER.Exactly. We may give the electors more, but not less.
– And that is the answer to Senator O’Connor’s question.
– We have to return to the words of the Constitution in order to find out what our powers are. We find that the rights of the electors are most carefully preserved. There is no question as to “ until Parliament otherwise provides” or anything of that sort. The only power that there is in Parliament in this respect is to make a uniform rule in regard to the method of election. I have suggested that the method might be by ballot or by open voting, but that would have nothing to do with the principle. If the principle in Tasmania was the HareSpence system then the elections would have to be conducted in that way. Parliament can merely define the ‘methods by which the result may be obtained ; but when we have taken every possible means in the Constitution to save the suffrage so that no trick on the part of any Commonwealth Parliament should ever interfere with any State rights - because that was at the bottom of our decision to insert this provision - are we to alter it now ? The provision in the Constitution to which I refer represents the determination on the part of every State that their rights shall not be interfered with j that every person who by their laws is entitled to have a vote for the House of Representatives shall continue to have a vote ; and that every person who by any future law, not merely of the State but of the Commonwealth, has acquired the right to vote for the more numerous State House, shall have a vote for both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– That was the State assertion of right. It had nothing to do with the question of uniformity. Section 41 of the Constitution was inserted deliberately, after long discussion, to prevent the very trick that is being tried now ; to prevent the rights of the electors of the States from being frittered away in the manner in which this Bill endeavours to do. That is what I am fighting for. I am fighting for the Constitution which many of us assisted in passing, and which I mean to uphold to the bitter end. Does the Senate believe that if the various States had understood that the franchise could be altered according to the whim of the moment of every transitory Parliament of the Commonwealth that they would have come under the Constitution 1 Not a bit of it ! They desired something fixed and certain, and they said - “ Having the basis of election fixed and certain, we shall be able to get the true will of the people according to the manner in which we understand that that will can be properly obtained, and not according to the methods of some outside dreamer and faddist who has no practical experience, or of some clique or party who might always be depended upon to vote solidly.”
– Galileo was called a dreamer.
– Do not let us discuss Galileo now. . The States did not desire to adopt the method of some party which might always be depended upon to vote solidly, and which might think that, in addition to its own solid vote, it might by the shaking up of ballot-papers in relation to the order in which they may be taken, obtain advantages which no legitimate vote would give it ; that it might obtain advantages not by means of a legitimate contest of parties, but through the accident of a division of parties giving an opportunity for factions and cliques and sections to get in, and a minority of the people, as a result, to secure the election. I shall have other opportunities of dealing with this matter further when we go into committee - if we ever get there.
– We shall get there if we have to stop here for twelve months.
– In the course of revolving years probably we shall get into committee, so I shall have a further opportunity of discussing this matter. Meantime I hope that I have been discussing it not unfairly. Although I speak strongly, I assure honorable senators that I mean every, word I say ; they can rest assured that they have heard my views, whether they agree with them ornot.
– Does the honorable and learned senator favour the system of-‘ single electorates?
– I shall deal with that matter later on. I want to discuss further the question of this Hare system - I refer to it in that way for the sake of brevity. Leaving questions as to. the construction of the Constitution Act that I have raised, coming to the substance of the proposal contained in this Bill, and assuming for the purpose of argument that we have the power to deal with it, I contend that the only logical way of carrying out the Hare system is that in which Mr. Hare himself proposed that it should be carried out. That it is an impossible way, every one is agreed.
– The Senate has not tried it.
– -The Government knew that it was impracticable, although it is the only correct mathematical way of carrying out the system.
– The honorable and learned senator says in the one breath that it is possible and impossible.
– I thought I was perfectly clear. I said that it was the only theoretically correct principle, but that, as it was impracticable and ridiculous, it could not be carried into effect. There are many things which are mathematically possible but are nevertheless practically impossible. It would be mathematically possible, supposing that we had a lot of marionettes which moved at the touch of some master boss, and would act as they were told. They might be absolutely irresponsible, and then they would move entirely by choice or accident. In either event it would not be satisfactory.
– They might not move at all.
– That is what I think, would occur. With 654 persons to be returned, and a probable candidature of several thousands,, the public mind would either be in a complete state of chaos or else would be subject to the influence of the bosses, who would do with them as they pleased. The Hare system was before the public for many years, and was agreed to be impracticable. I think that Mr. Hare himself came to that conclusion later on, and then came various modifications. I beg the special attention of my honorable friends, to this, because I am not talking haphazard, and I say that in every modification that was made it was always agreed that there had to be a considerable number of seats in each electorate, or else the system would be inapplicable. They agreed to a man that three was too few. Mr. Hare; of course, wanted it to apply to the lot, but I challenge my honorable friends to run down the whole list of authorities who have taken up Hare’s views, and worked them out scientifically or otherwise, down to Professor Nanson, and say whether they can find anybody who asserts that with a three-membered constituency the system can be worked properly. You would have a representation of minorities with a vengeance: You would have to have a majority of two to one to secure majority representation under the system, and you would have in addition a lot of incidental outside votes which might come in and upset the symmetry of the system, and prevent the parties working out what they desired at all. I said I would refer to a statement in this book on “Proportional Representation “ for the purpose of being contradicted. I do not vouch for the truth of this statement. There are plenty of honorable senators who can explain’ it, if it is capable of explanation. The only thing that strikes one at the start is, that when this book is published directly against the Tasmanian method, it would seem to be rather a daring thing if the author, in circulating it, began with a tissue of falsehoods about the system. I suppose everybody will agree with- Professor Commens that- it is very inexpedient to adopt any method unless we are sure it is practicable and workable.
– And better than the one we are using.
– And better than the one we are using. I say unhesitatingly that with a threes-member district worked under this system it will not substantially alter the results as at present, or it will alter them disadvantageously as compared with tine present system. As at present advised, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am in favour of the present system. I wish that there should be no mistake about it. I know of no other worthy to supplant it at the- present time. I admit that there are many difficulties about it. There are difficulties in the working of all human institutions, but so long as we act on the principle,, which is the only principle upon which we cam- act, that the majority must rule, this is the only way in which, in my opinion, we can1 practically obtain that result. The quota I reject altogether, whether it be the true quota of Mr. Hare . or the assumed1 quota of ‘Droop and Nanson. I say that if we take the electorate as one constituency, we have no business to divide it up by a mere intellectual effort, and not a practical effort, such as dividing it into districts, into numbers spread all over the place, to compose amongst them, what we are pleased to call “ at quota.” Still more I object to what I say is the1 untrue quota, started by Droop, and supported since by many authorities, but started, in my opinion!,, only to make a bad scheme seem practicable. I do not see, if the contention is right, why we should not reduce the required majorities further. I do not see why we should stop at saying that it should be one more than a certain number. I noticed when Senator Clemons wass talking, and talking very well, that he said he could not see anything against that, but I say I see everything against it. I object to the quota entirely. I say that the whole of the electors ought to vote for the candidates as a whole, and. the only way that can he done is to have no quota, and just adopt the method of a majority adopted now. If that, does not work well, the only logical alternative by which we can get anything like an approximately true insult, although it will not be an absolutely true resale, is by dividing each State up into the largest possible number of districts, so as to get each represented by only one person It is a choice between these two courses in my opinion. We have on the face of this Bill, two methods which are absolutely inconsistent with each other. We have one method in which it is divided up, and it is entirely against Hare, Nanson, Gregory, Droop, and against the principle of every authority ; whilst, we have another which appears to be established in this form, one would think, principally, though I suggest it with diffidence, so as to enable this scheme to be tried. I only read this statement because there are a number of honorable senators who ought to be able to explain it if it is not true. I do not choose to assume that it is not true. A statement published in this way, and circulated in the light of day, I assume to be true unless some reason is given for assuming the contrary. This is what Ashworth says about the Tasmanian experiment -
Despite the fact that it has been advocated for over 40 years, the trial now being made of the Hare system in Tasmania is the first application of the “representative principle” to any assembly modelled on, the English plan of party Government, and:, therefore, deserves more than passing notice. But the experiment is on such a small scale, and has been conducted for such a short time, that the result can hardly be expected to. be conclusive us yet. The objection against the Hare system is not so much that it is not suitable to present conditions as that it will speedily bring about altered conditions. It is interesting to find that this is exactly what is taking place. The system is applied in two electorates only, at Hobart and Launceston, the former returning six members, and the latter four. At the first election in 1897. the possibilities of the system were not appreciated, and electors voted on the old lines ; and although the results were rather erratic and unexpected they were considered satisfactory. But the second election, held early in the present year proved a great blow to the system. No less than three of the successful candidates were intensely unpopular and one of them an ex-Minister had recently been banished from public life on the report of a select committee of the House. His re-instatement aroused astormof indignation throughout the colony, and he was forced to retire again before Parliament met. It will be as well to take the evidence of a strong advocate of the system - the Argus correspondent. Of one candidate he writes - “Judging from all available definite evidence it seems that five-sixths of the electors of Hobart were directly in favour of the construction of the railway by the present Great Western Railway Syndicate ; while those of the remaining six were variously opposed to the company, or to the project of constructing such a railway by private enterprise at all. The sixth is represented by Mr. R. C. Patterson, who headed the poll.” Of another candidate we learn that “Mr. Mulcahy had fought a hard fight, and it is a fair assumption that on the list of elected he represents the Roman Catholic vote. As a member of a generally popular Government, the extent of Mr. Mulcahy’s personal unpopularity was remarkable and probably unique.” But it was over the return of Mr. Miles that the storm raged most. The excuse is made that “ the fault of Mr. Miles’ return (assuming that it is a fault), lies with the electors who returned him and not the system under which his return was accomplished,” Once grant that a section of Hobart electors have the right to select for their representatives whom they choose, and it would seem that the Hare system must be held free of all responsibility for the return of Mr. Miles. But this is precisely what cannothe granted for a moment as we have endeavoured to show. The assertion is made that Mr Miles would have been returned as easily under the old system, but this is not a fact. He polled only one-eighth of the votes, so that even supposing that his supporters were twice as strong in a single electorate, he would have had only one-fourth of the votes. It is safe to say, from the small proportion of second and third preferences which he secured, that if the block vote had been adopted he would, have been at the bottom of the poll.
This is not an argument ; I am merely quoting it as a statement of facts which I desire to give Tasmanian senators an opportunity of dealing with.
Commenting on these results, the Argus declares that the Hare System does not pretend to reform or guide the people. Verylikely not! But is it not quite evident that it has the opposite effect?
That is what this writer says, and I do not ask anybody to contradict that.
Is it too much to say that if the Hobart experiment be persevered with, the ultimate, tendency will be the return of six members, each acceptable to one-sixth of the electors, and obnoxious to the other five-sixths? It is quite obvious already that the usual party lines are entirely disregarded.
– S - Surely that was not the result of the elections in Tasmania to this Senate under the Hare-Spence system ?
– The result would have been the same under the block vote.
-I have no doubt it would. With the exception of the last -passage expressive of the writer’s opinion;, with which I cordially agree, I use the quotation only as a? statement of facts, which, if true, is overwhelmingly against the system.
– But it is not true. It cannot be true. It is impossible.
– I - It is true.
– Senator McGregor says it is not true, and it is impossible because he does not know anything about it, and Senator. O’Keefe says it is true because he knows all about it. I hope the gentleman referred to in the quotation will not suppose I” have any feeling about them one way or the other? Mr. Miles might have been the most popular man there for what I know and the other gentlemen the most worthy. But as we have some Tasmanian senators here who strongly support this system, I simply ask them out of the font of their knowledge to tell me whether the statement is true or not 1 I ask them to admit that Tasmania is a long-settled community. That country is in a small compass, and it is peculiarly in a position in which an experiment of this kind might be tried successfully if it could be successful at all. If this statement is true, I should like those honorable senators to say how they can support such a system ?
– It is true, and the proof of-it is that they repealed the Act.
– As Senator Playford says, the proof that the statement is true is that they repealed the Act. What did they put in place’ of it? Perhaps Senator McGregor who knows all about it “can tell us what they substituted for it ? The honorable senator does not reply, and I inform him that what they substituted was the old system. What they did was simply to repeal the measure out and out.
– B - But they did not repeal it because of the instances mentioned by the honorable and learned senator.
– They did not like to mention the reason.
– What did they repeal it for 1
– B - Because many of the members were afraid they would lose their seats under it.
– They repealed it because they did not like it, and because it had given extraordinary results. If this statement be true, whilst it was in force the system produced, not the return of the majority, but the return of the minority, and I say that would inevitably be the result with a three-membered constituency. With a four-membered constituency it would be a failure, because it would practically require a majority of three to one to secure a majority, representation in such a constituency at all ; with a fivemem.bered constituency it might be used, but it would be very difficult to use it. With six and seven it would perhaps be a little better ; but just as you go on and approach more nearly to the only true ideal, which is that of Mr. Hare, you get the mathematical precision of your system fairer and fairer, and the practical possibility of carrying it out more and more remote. We are dealing like children, in my opinion, with a method which has been dealt with in the abstract by men who did not understand it, but which the great practical minds who have to do with men and methods- every great leader of public thought in England - all condemn as a method which will almost invariably produce results identically opposite to those intended. I admit that I have had great trouble in making my mind up on this subject. I had no feeling against the system. There is every reason why I should have a friendly feeling to anything that persons friendly to me propose. I think that I have always a tendency, so far as my friends are concerned, to say “yes” to any proposition rather than to say “ no.” I approached this question with no hostile feeling. I got all the books I could to ascertain how the thing would work out, and after reading all those books, and devoting all the thought I could to the subject, I can only say that the present system is much -better than this one. It may not be the best, I do not know. I understand thoroughly the inconveniences that must inevitably result, but the straightforward way of going to the people, and deciding by majorities as we do in every concern in life, is the better. This method, which has existed so long, and which in my opinion is the only method yet discovered by which public opinion can in any way be approximately got at, should not be departed from without reasons so strong and convincing that’ you feel that *they are irresistible. I object, and always did object to one member districts. If there is one method which would assist the minority to get more representation, it is the establishment of one member districts, where the numbers might be almost exactly equal, and practically one-half go utterly unrepresented. With two member districts it would not be so bad, because there is a chance for the great section of the minority to get some sort of show. But with single member districts, if there is any argument in the minority question, you have the majority argument strongest on your side, and strongest against this principle. I shall now indicate the line I intend to take. There are an immense number of other matters that I do not intend to go into now. I wish to deal here with big principles. In committee, I shall show Senator O’Connor that the Bill needs an immense amount of amendment as regards machinery, quite apart from, principles, to make it at all’ workable. I shall be very glad to move some amendments when the time comes, but I do not propose to deal with them in a second-reading speech. So far as those clauses relating to single electorates are concerned, I see no objection to referring the matter to a commission to reinquire into and report upon, but its report,” I am sure the Senate will say, must be to both Houses. We must not refuse to exercise the duties which the Constitution and our constituents have cast upon us, but must deal with all questions relating to subdivisions, as we have to deal with the substance of the Bill. I shall move that all clauses relating to single member electorates be struck out, and that a commission be appointed to report what they think are the best divisions, having regard to those matters which are mentioned in the Bill, and having regard also to population. I am satisfied to leave the appointment of the commission to the Government, but with an absolutely free hand to inquire and report as to the best way of dividing the districts, whether single or otherwise, and to give their reasons. With their report in»; our hands we shall have all the machinery necessary to enable us to perform the duty which the Constitution Act casts upon us, and to decide what is the proper course to adopt. I suppose I ought to apologize for having kept the Senate so long. I can only say in extenuation that I could talk a great deal longer. This, I think every honorable senator will agree, is a Bill which we cannot consider too much, so long us we consider it intelligently and wisely. It is the duty of all of us not merely to have impressions which are more or less well founded, but to devote the best of our ability to making every inquiry, and having done that lo come here and give our considered conclusions, whether they happen to recommend themselves to the Senate or not. I think honorable senators and the Senate will understand by inference I think from what I have said that I am not in favour of the Bill.
– I congratulate the Government on the introduction of what I conceive to be at least a very comprehensive measure, and one which deals with the highly unsatisfactory condition of the electoral law in the several States. I venture to think that the experience of honorable senators - essentially Australian from every stand-point - should enable us to deal with the question of electoral reform on an advanced basis. The form of our electoral law is practically the form of the electoral law of the old country, where vastly different conditions exist. In the old country the electoral law is adapted to density of population, but when we come to legislate for scattered communities there is room for us to consider whether those principles that we have borrowed from the old country are the best that can be adopted. The conjoint experience of honorable senators should enable us to have an advanced electoral reform equal, if not superior, to anything extant. It so happens that I have taken a very deep interest in three of the most important matters dealt with in this Bill-the limitation of electoral expenses, the contingent vote with the object of securing an absolute majority, and proportional representation. Probably Senator O’Connor is not aware that a very substantial portion of the Bill, so far as the absolute majority vote and proportional representation are concerned, has been taken from a measure which I had the honour to prepare and submit to the State Parliament. I do not for a moment contend that as regards the machinery it was an original scheme, so far as I was concerned. I simply put into legislative form a scheme which had been formulated by many eminent and able men, and it might be referred to, as it has been, as a combination of the Hare, Clark, Droop, and Nanson schemes. Before dealing with the only three features of the Bill I propose to discuss, I wish to refer to the two preliminary objections - technical objections, if I may so term them - which have been made by Senator Downer. His first protest, made with earnestness and declamation, which even surprised most of his friends, was that in his opinion the Bill deprives the people of their suffrages, and in some instances is calculated to destroy five-sixths of the voting power. He went on to say that its proposals in that direction are absolutely unconstitutional. He is a gentleman of such great experience, and with such an intimate knowledge of the preparation of the Constitution, that we are obliged to listen to anything he says with a great amount of respect. I cannot possibly agree with him in his contentions. His constitutional objections appear to be two. First of all he contends that it is proposed to delegate certain of the powers of the Senate to the other Chamber. Even if that to some extent may be taken to be correct, following as it does the precedent of New South Wales, and following moreover what is recognised as a principle in most of the States, that in matters affecting one House of a Parliament, the other does not attempt undue interference.
– They always pass the law ; it is in the Act.
– They do; but as a matter of practice wherever proposals are made essentially affecting the first branch of the Legislature, the second branch does not attempt to interfere with them.
– But these concern both branches of the Legislature.
– I think they do not concern both branches of the Legislature. Let us look at the section which deals with it. It is section 29 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act -
Until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides-
– Not the House of Representatives.
– That is true.
The Parliament of any State may make laws for determining the divisions in each State for which members of the House of Representatives may be chosen. “For determining the divisions in each State.”
– The Parliament, not the House of Representatives.
– By the Bill now before the Senate, we as a Parliament are making provision for determining the divisions for the other Chamber.
– By handing it over to the House of Representatives.
– We simply say by the Bill now before the Chamber that these divisions shall be determined in a particular way. We provide the machinery whereby those divisions shall be ascertained. Suppose we determined that the States should be divided into particular divisions by, say, the Surveyor-General. I venture to submit that that would be a perfectly legitimate mode for us as a Parliament to provide.
– Certainly, but we should be fools to do it.
– That is not the point. I am only seeking to illustrate that the terms of the section are that the Parliament shall prescribe the means of determining how the divisions shall be ascertained ; and what we are attempting to do is to say that those divisions shall be ascertained not by the Surveyor-General, but by a commission to be appointed. The principle involved is identical in both cases. When once the mechanical work is so ascertained, the divisions are to be adopted by the other branch of the Legislature to which those divisions are to apply.
– And we are to give up our functions as a Senate !
– We do nothing of the kind. What I submit, with great respect, is that we are essentially carrying out our duty in determining how these divisions shall be ascertained when we say that they shall be ascertained by this expert commission specially appointed for the purpose.
– We have a perfect right to do that.
– It is, a very bad precedent, though.
– The matter of policy or expediency is one for the Senate to determine, but I am now dealing with the strictly constitutional aspect of the question. My honorable and learned friend who has just resumed his seat has urged that we are asked to do an unconstitutional thing. In my opinion his objection is not sound. That is the way he put it. The second constitutional objection he has taken is that the Senate particularly has no power whatever to introduce the system provided for in the Bill, because as it is claimed, according to certain sections which were quoted, it disfranchises to some extent the electors of the Commonwealth. Senator Downer referred us to two or three sections. The first was section 8, and it says that -
The qualification of electors of senators shall’ be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution or by the Parliament as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives, but in the choosing- of senators each elector shall vote only once.
My honorable and learned friend seeks to make this Chamber believe that that section bears only one construction, and that is that every elector of the community shall have one vote only.
– Doing away with plural voting.
– Of course it was intended to do away with plural voting, but it was also intended to adopt an equality of franchise.
– Male as well as female.
– My honorable friend does not follow the point. The idea was to put every elector of the community upon an equal base. Equality of voting power was what was aimed at by that section. Then Senator Downer quotes section 9. He claims that under section 9 there is no power to- alter the existing system of election.
– The existing principle h’e means.
– The existing principle if the honorable senator lilies. The words of the section arc -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that the method shall be uniform for all the States.
The whole question devolves upon the meaning of the word “method.” Senator Downer- argues that “method” does not mean an alteration of principle or an alteration of system.
– System is very different from principle.
– I can only take up the honorable and. learned senator’s arguments, and deal with them as he urged them. What he says is, therefore, that “ method “ does not involve or include an alteration of principle or system. Fortunately we are enabled to ascertain from the reports of the Federal Convention what was intended by the introduction, of the word “method.” I have no’ possible doubt whatever, apart from the debates,, that the word “ method “ most clearly and conclusively enables us to introduce the HareNanson system, as now proposed. But w-hen we refer to the debates, we ascertain what was actually in the minds of those who introduced the words. The- section, as it originally read, had in it the word “ manner,” and it was objected that the word “ manner “ was not wide enough, but that the word “method” would be more comprehensive, and would enable to be done exactly what is proposed to be done by this Bill. Mr. Barton said -
There is a difference between manner and method, because method more reasonably describes a system. It came therefore more nearly to the expressed wish of the committee that there should be no prevention of the Parliament of thu Commonwealth legislating, if they so pleased, for some system of representation which might snit the progrsssive tendency of the Commonwealth.
Mr. Higgins The Hare system for instance.
Mr. Barton It might be Hare’s system, or some other of the many systems which have been’ suggested.
So that the very point was actually raised at that time. Later on,. Mr. Barton goes on to say -
I think the Hare system is a system for securing the proper representation, of the people;
– We did not all believe that.
– But my honorable and learned friend was a party to the passage of this Constitution, and I say that it is clear that the object of the introduction of the word “method” was that the Hare system might be introduced under it if Parliament thought proper. Apart, therefore, from the obvious meaning, of the word “ method “ in the section, we have the advantage of seeing exactly what was in the minds of the framers of the Constitution.
– It is not- the expression ; it is the- meaning put upon the word.
– Precisely. The second portion of the 9 th section says -
Subject to any such law the Parliament of each State may make laws prescribing the method of choosing the Senators for that State.
What has taken place 1 The several States have made their State laws, and - cannot alter them. Tasmania provided for the adoption of the Hare-Clark system’; the laws of New South Wales and .Victoria provided a system whereby there should be no plumping. The other States made other provisions. My honorable and learned friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, interjected that if the contention of Senator Downer were correct it would be impossible for Tasmania to alter the Hare-Clark .system ; and I further contend that the effect would be to prevent either the Commonwealth or State Parliaments making uniform electoral laws which are clearly contemplated by the Constitution, and are an essential feature of it. I repeat itf would be impossible, attaching my honorable and learned friend’s meaning to the word “method,” for the several States to. alter their existing laws.
– I never said that. I said the word “ method “ covered the question of open voting and ballot voting.
– I know my honorable and learned friend said that, but he also said that it did not cover the enacting by Parliament of the provisions of this Bill.
– I say so still.
– My honorable and learned friend has not been in the chamber during the whole time I have been attempting to deal with his argument. Those are the two constitutional objections that have been advanced by him, and I have already said that, with the greatest respect, I do not think they are sound, and that, notwithstanding, the Senate is fully justified in dealing to the fullest extent with the provisions of the Bill. Apart from the twu constitutional objections which occupied at least two-thirds of my honorable and learned friend’s speech, he contented himself merely with some wild and fierce denunciations of the provisions embodied in the measure before the Senate, but he did not attempt for a solitary moment to refute any of the arguments which have been adduced in favour of these provisions, nor did he attempt to disprove what it was contended that they would achieve.
– He will do that in committee.
– “We are now dealing with general principles.
– AVe are destroying principles.
– My honorable and learned friend urges that the Bill is destroying principles, but I say that it only does so by way of reform ; and I venture to hope that ultimately he will recognise that. Before dealing with the provisions of the Bill with reference to proportional representation, may I be permitted in a very few remarks to deal with two or three features in which I feel somewhat interested, and which to my mind are very important. Part 14 deals with the limitation of election expenses. I venture to say that that principle is of the greatest moment to the liberal democratic party of this community j because if our Victorian experience can be taken as any guide, there is not the slightest doubt that the power and influence of wealth have been somewhat too potent in regard to our parliamentary elections. I submit that undue expenditure in election expenses is not only subversive of the Constitution itself, but a direct menace to the freedom of election. To illustrate what I mean I would point out that in one of the Houses of the Victorian Legislature there were some 48 members, many of whom to my knowledge were elected at an expense of £4,000 or £5,000. It is alleged that the election expenses of one member amounted to something like £10,000. The effect of that expenditure, however, was this, that once a man secured a seat in that Chamber he was never disturbed. Practically it amounted to a life estate. On the 27th June, 1900, a return was prepared which showed that out of 48 members of that Chamber there were only four who had gone through neontest in order to secure election. That was the condition of affairs that had thus been arrived at. The very design and object of the limitation of election expenses- is the substitution of voluntary effort for paid labour. The matter has occupied the attention of the old country for many years. In the early portion of the last century not only were votes purchased, but whole boroughs were bought. In one case a borough was purchased at a cost of something like £200,000, while various sums, ranging from £60,000 to £80,000, were frequently spent in connexion with an election. In 1854 an attempt was made to deal with the crying bribery and corruption which obtained at elections. In 1863 a further effort was made by the appointment of election auditors, and then the great effort upon which legislation has been based by various other communities was made. To show the extent of the bribery and corruption which took place at the parliamentary elections in 1880, no less than 9,000 persons were arraigned for corrupt practices in connexion with them. The result was that Sir Henry, now Lord, James, introduced a Bill in that year, having for its object comprehensive dealing with bribery, treating, undue influence or intimidation, personation, aiding and abetting personation, and illegal practices generally. After three years of vigorous lighting that measure was passed. We are attempting no new experiment. New Zealand, South Australia, Canada, and one or two other communities have already adopted this important . principle, and at the outset of the Commonwealth so highly advantageous a scheme as this for the limitation of election expenses, and for shutting out from elections the undue potentialities of wealth, is an essential step towards the freedom of elections. As has been mentioned by Lord James, the effect of such a provision is that popularity secures its due reward, and cannot be counteracted by. money expenditure. The second feature of the Bill consists of the provisions relating to the House of Representatives, to be found in clauses 157 to 162. They provide a scheme for a contingent absolute majority vote in conjunction with single electorates. So far as the House of Representatives is concerned, I approve of the system of single electorates.
– How can the honorable and learned senator do so when he believes in the Hare system t
– Very consistently indeed. I repeat that so far as the House of Representatives is concerned I most cordially agree with the system of single electorates in conjunction, of course, with the contingent vote, which has for its object the securing of an absolute majority. Our existing law is a grotesque distortion of representation. No doubt honorable senators can recall to their minds innumerable instances in which Members of Parliament do not represent the majority in ‘their respective constituencies. It has been stated that, in connexion with a recent general election for the Parliament of New South Wales, a calculation of the numbers con.clusively established the fact that that Parliament represents a minority of the people instead of the majority.
– That was proved conclusively to the satisfaction of those who compiled the figures.
– I can only say that I read of those figures, and understood them to be authoritative. As honorable senators know, various schemes have been adopted on the Continent for the purpose of dealing with this very important feature. In France, Italy, and Germany a system known as the second ballot is adopted, under which the two highest on the poll have, in the case of a single electorate, to fight out the contest again on a subsequent date, all the other candidates being struck out. I wish to point out to the Senate that that system is attended with most objectionable delay and expense, and is also defective. If honorable senators will allow me to introduce a few very simple figures I shall be able to concretely illustrate what I mean. Then I propose to contrast the proposal in the Bill in order to show how it corrects the difficulty which was mentioned by Senator Dawson a little while ago. Let us take a constituency of 100 voters. There are 55 liberals, and they put up three candidates. A receives 20 votes, B 20, acId. (J 15. The conservatives have 45 votes. They put up two candidates : D, who gets 21 votes, and E, who obtains 24. According to the Continental system to which I have referred, the only two candidates who would ultimately fight out the contest to a finish would be the two conservatives, D and E, who actually represented a minority of the electorate.
– There would not be much party organization where such a thing as that took place.
– My honorable friend with his wide experience must be aware that notwithstanding every effort at party organization, misfortunes constantly occur owing to a plethora of candidates.
– They occur occasionally.
– The Queensland system is a decided improvement upon the continental scheme, from the stand-point that the objection as to the delay and expense of an election on a subsequent date does not obtain, because of the exercise of the contingent vote, but the defect, which I have just pointed out in the case of the continental system, actually applies to it. If we take the example that I have given, under the Queensland system you would strike out the three lowest on the poll and distribute their votes amongst the two highest. It so happens, however, that the two conservative candidates are the two highest on the poll, and consequently one of them is bound to be elected, instead of a candidate representing the majority of the electors. Now I wish do show how the defects of the Continental and the Queensland system are met by” the Government proposal. I do not suggest that the scheme contained in the Bill is perfect, but it is a vast improvement upon both the Continental and the ‘Queensland systems. Let us contrast the systems by applying the example which I have used before to an election under this Bill. It would work out in this way : There are 100 votes in the constituency, 55 being liberals and 45 conservatives. There are three liberal candidates standing. A receives 20 votes, B obtains 20, and C secures fifteen. There are two conservative candidates - D, who obtains 21, and E, who obtains 24 votes. On the first round, C being the lowest on the poll, has his name struck out, and his votes are divided between the other two liberals.
– But in Queensland the great majority of the electors never mark their papers in full.
– Thousands of them do not.
– At all events, C drops out, and his votes are divided between the two other liberals. A obtains eight of them, and B seven. The result is that on the first round, A secures 20- votes, plus eight, and B 20, pins seven. In the second round the conservative candidate, D, is the lowest on the poll,’ ‘having only 21 votes. His name is struck out, and his votes are given to E, who in this way obtains 45 votes. Then the third round takes place. B is the lowest on the list ; his name is struck out, and his votes go to A, who thus obtains 2S votes, plus 27, which is equal to 55. Thus the liberal candidate, A, representing the majority, must be elected, instead of the representative of the .minority, who ‘would be returned ‘under the Queensland and Continental schemes.
– I thought the honorable and learned senator objected to majority representation 1
– If my honorable , amc learned friend seriously thinks so, I can assure him that lie is utterly mistaken. My chief reason for supporting the Bill is that I arn absolutely certain that it will secure majority rule. Not for one moment would I advocate it had I the remotest doubt upon the subject. “What is move, if my honorable and learned friend can convince me that the scheme in this Bill means minori ty domination, and not majority domination, then he will find une one of the first to vote against the Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator can come over here straight away.
– I shall do so if Senator Symon can prove it. That is a fair challenge. I am going to lay down certain .principles, amd I intend to challenge my honorable friends opposite to refute them if they can. I am disposed to think that the proposal for .the contingent majority vote will meet with ready acceptance, but I am aware that the voter and returning officer have to some extent to do precisely the same under this scheme as he would have to do under a system of proportional representation. Senator Clemons has raised the objection that it is most improper and unfair to strike out the name of the candidate who is lowest on the poll. That was one of his strongest arguments.
– Then Senator Clemons is in agreement with Nanson.
– I do not agree with Senator Millen on that point.
– Hare said it was a most inequitable proceeding.
– But Nanson does not.
– If my honorable and learned friend doubts my statement, I will produce the authority for it.
– Nanson said it was inevitable.
– Yes. But it is the minimum of evil. The reason why the lowest man should be struck out is that, first of all, he really is the weakest man.
– He has the least number of first votes.
– If my honorable friend will allow me, I shall come to that presently. In the first place, the man lowest on the list is the weakest. Secondly, his partyhas, so .far- as their primary votes are concerned, deliberately placed him at the bottom ©f the poll ; and, thirdly, I would say that this exclusive system is a familiar one. It is adopted by .many Australian, as well as British, institutions, and well known and fairly well understood in this community. Then I would say that if, in order to secure certain advantages, it is necessary that some one should be struck out, he, to my -mind, is ‘the person who, as against the others, ought to be struck out.
– Would the ‘honorable and learned senator quote Professor Nanson’s remark upon that point ?
– Senator Millen will have an opportunity of doing that presently. It hardly lies on the lips of my honorable friends who are supporting the existing system, to object to the striking out of the lowest man on the poll, because under the existing system if there are five men standing, four men are at once struck out and one man is elected. If under this system the lowest on the poll is struck out, at all events the other four have a fair contest between them, and justice is done to them. If, taking the example I have used, we find that under the existing system an injustice is done to four people, it is a decided advance that under this system an injustice should be done to one instead of to four, if there be any injustice at all, and, consequently, I submit with great confidence, that the striking out of the lowest man on the poll is minimizing the evil which has been complained about and objected to.
– The objection to striking out the lowest man, because he has the smallest number of first votes, is that he may be the most popular candidate, if his second and third votes are taken into account.
-That is extremely improbable. I point out to my honorable and learned friend that if five candidates are standing, it may happen that the second, third, and fourth are the most popular of the candidates, and according to the existing system, they are swept away at once, and only the first candidate is elected. While under the system of the Bill,if it so happens that the second, third, or fourth candidate has the highest aggregate vote, he has a chance of election, which he could not possibly have under the existing system. I now come to the subject of proportional representation as applicable to the Senate. I am submitting the views I have formed after some little consideration, and I feel it is the bounden dutyofevery honorable senator to give the Senate the benefit of his own experience and advice, in the formulation of electoral reform, as it affects ourown House, particularly. While there may be very much to object to in at, my contention is that the proposals in theBill are certainly a very substantial advance upon existing conditions. I read an article in an English newspaper called The Speaker some little time ago, which fortunately I happen to have by me, and it struck me that in that article, written I think by Mr. Courtney, the object of proportional representation was correctly described.
– He isa very old supporter of proportional representation.
– He has got a mania about it.
– The object is described as being -
To secure in Parliament as near as possible the representation inminiature, in accordance with their strength, of the political forces making up the national life.
– And he thought that should apply to the House of Commons.
– So far as I am concerned, I do not think this should apply to the House of Representatives.
– I do.
– I think it is a wise scheme, under existing constitutional conditions, to apply to the Senate. If that is the object and design of proportional representation - and I think honorable senators will agree that it represents ideal representation, and is best calculated to secure the truest form of representative government - if we agree on that as a principle then we must see how far we can go towards securing that ideal. Let us discuss it as a matter of principle.
– Why not divide the country into single electorates for the Senate ?
– I will try to deal with, that afterwards, if the honorable and learned senator will remind me. I have made this, quotation to show that the object of proportional representation is tosecure the representation in Parliament of the political forces of thecountry according to their numerical strength, and what I claim is that this Bill makes a substantial advance in that direction. The machinery ofthis Bill is practically themachinery of the measure to which I have referred, and which was introduced by myself. My only reason for mentioning it is, that on that occasion I consulted all theleading mathematicians of Victoria, in order to ascertain whether the machinery carried out the principles aimedat in the Bill. It reallyresolves itself ultimately into a mathematical calculation, and these gentlemen, who were representatives of Cambridge, Oxford, and our own Universities, came to the unanimous conclusion that they could mathematically demonstrate that the machinery of the Bill did cany out what was claimed for it.
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean by that, that the element of chance is eliminated t
– The element of chance is eliminated.
– Then I join issue with the honorable and learned senator.
– The element of chance is largely eliminated. I may refer” honorable senators to the letters published in the Victorian Ilansard on the subject, which speak for themselves. I claim that what this Senate has to concern itself about are principles. While it is interesting to have the mathematical aspect of the question explained to us, yet the principles are what we should aim at, leaving it to mathematicians to demonstrate clearly that those principles are carried out by the machinery submitted to us in the Bill. Senator Clemons argued very strongly that the majority should return all the representatives, and that the minority has no right to be heard on the floor of this House. Senators Ewing and Harney dealt with that argument very fully, but let me introduce a concrete example in order to show the gross unfairness of a proposition of the kind. Take a State of 1,000 voters comprising 501 liberals, and 499 conservatives, and returning six senators. Is it ‘fair or just that the 501 liberals ‘should return the whole of the six senators to this House ? That is what the argument of Senator Clemons practically comes to.
– That is what might happen with the proposed one-member districts for the House of Representatives.
– I am dealing with this aspect of the question for the present. I contend that the logical conclusion of Senator Clemon’s idea of representation is not only that the whole of the six senators should be returned by the majority, but that they should vote in this Chamber at all times in the same way. I would point out that the position into which Senator Clemon’s argument would lead him would be that this Senate, which is intended to represent the whole of the several States, would, under such circumstances, really represent little more than one-half of the people of the several States. Take the case, for instance, of South Australia. It is recognised, I think, that South Australia is essentially a protectionist
State. We will say,, if you like, that only 55 per cent, of the electors are protectionists. Suppose that the people there had organized, at the last federal election, for the purpose of dealing with the fiscal issue ; the result of course would have been the absence from this Senate of the honorable the President and of Senator Symon and other distinguished members of the Senate. The same thing would apply to New South Wales, and the result of such an organization there would have been the absence from the Senate of my honorable and learned friend Senator O’Connor.
– Proving that the minority is not* without representation !
– But let us altogether eliminate the personal element, and from the fiscal aspect, at all events, I ask honorable senators whether it is not desirable that we should have the protectionist opinion in New South Wales from such a representative of that; State as Senator O’Connor. In the case of South Australia, which is stated to be a protectionist State, is it not of value to .the Senate that we should have the free-trade opinion there submitted from the stand-point of my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon ?
– But a great many protectionists voted for me, and just as many free-traders voted for Senator O’Connor.
– I am very glad to hear it ; but my honorable friend will see that that does not affect the argument at all, because I am dealing with the argument used by Senator Clemons, and I am endeavouring to show that if the majority is organized for the purpose of securing representation, and that the majority alone is entitled to representation, as argued by him, a serious injustice may be done to a substantial minority. Senator Millen has interjected that according to the existing system we have minorities represented in this Chamber. Assuming that that is so, I contend that it is only in a haphazard and uncertain way that the minority is represented here, and I ask the honorable” and learned senator whether it would not be very much better to adopt some accurate system under which minorities would be represented according to their political power and numerical force ?
– Not when we run the risk of giving minorities undue representation.
– If my honorable and learned friend can demonstrate that it will give minorities undue representation, I shall be one of the first to turn round and oppose the Bill. If is admitted that minorities should be represented, why should it be left to chance and uncertainty ? If the Bill provides for an accurate proportional representation of minorities, as I claim it does, I think I have the right to expect the support of Senator Millen for it. We are acquainted with the single electorate system, and I claim that it is an excellent system as applied to the House of Representatives. The object of it, of course, is to secure the widest possible representation from every stand-point throughout the Commonwealth. The object is not, as SenatorClemons urged, to secure solely the representation of the majority, but that every substantial class in the community shall be represented. It is competent, of course, for this Senate to divide the several States into six separate electorates. But I do not think that that would be satisfactory. I feel that the constituencies would be so large that they would be very impracticable, and decidedly expensive to attempt to deal with, and the same complete representation would not be obtained. The other system that we are accustomed to is the block system, and I think honorable senators will coincide with me when I say that it is full of danger, doubt, and uncertainty. The will of the majority at times is absolutely thwarted by the block vote.
– Was the view of the constituency thwarted in sending the honorable and learned senator here ?
– That is not so. I trust the result would have been the same under the scheme of the Bill. I am talking about party organization, and what can be done under the block system. I hold that it results sometimes in minority rule or domination, and at other times in minority extermination.
– And of course, minority rule is represented ?
– Of course it is represented under the existing system, and I am one of the first to denounce it. I could quote innumerable concrete instances to prove that the block system results sometimes in minority rule and domination, and, at other times, in minority extermination, but I shall content myself by referring honorable senators to the authorities where they can be seen. The striking instances I have referred to are categorically set out by Professor Commens in his book on proportional representation, at page 87, and a number of important instances are given in Sir John Lubbock’s book.
– Do they relate to three-member districts, though ?
– What I say is that it is by the merest chance, if political forces are proportionally represented according to the existing block system. I shall submit three or four contentions, which I ask honorable senators, if they can, to answer. My first contention is that the Bill provides for the representation in the Senate of several great parties throughout the country, according to their numerical strength ; that is fair and equitable in every respect. My second contention is that it makes absolutely certain the rule of the majority, and there is no such guarantee under the existing system. The third proposition I make puts the last one in another way - that it is absolutely impossible for a minority to win a majority of seats, because the minority of voters cannot secure a majority of quotas. My fourth contention is that it gives the minority a right to be heard and notto rule, and that it provides for fair representation of minorities and no more. My fifth contention is that each great party in the State can run as many candidates as it chooses, so as to give the electors the fullest and freest choice, and, assuming party fidelity, the strongest and most popular men only can succeed, and no disasters through the splitting of votes can happen. I challenge my honorable friends to take up these propositions one after the other and refute them concretely if they can. What I claim is that these principles, if they are carried out in the Bill, are fair, just, and equitable, and a very substantial advance on the existing electoral law. The central principle of proportional representation is the quota. As my honorable friendsare aware it is ascertained by dividing the number of votes recorded by the number of members to be elected plus one and adding one to the quotient, and this isknown as the Droop system. May I give a concrete example as an illustration. Supposing that thereare 1 , 000 votersand that one member has to be elected. You divide the 1,000 by 2, and then add one to the 500, and thereby you secure a quota. In other words, this, which appears a difficult mathematical means of stating the question, is the method which is adopted every day by honorable senatorsfor the purpose of ascertaining absolute majorities. Let me introduce another concrete example. In Victoria 189,000 electors voted at the Federal Convention elections. Assuming that there are six senators to be elected, you have to divide the 189,000votes by seven, and add one to the quotient. The quota, therefore) is 27,001.
– What difference does it make to adopt the Hare quota ?
– I am very glad that Senator Downer has asked that question. I do not believe in the Hare system, because minorities can obtain an undue domination. That, I contend, is impossible under the Droop system. The reason for the adoption of the Droop system is that a candidate can be elected by the least number of votes. As there are only six senators to be elected, according to the Hare system there would be only six quotas. According to the Droop system you get the absolute majority principle, and as a result, you get an additional quotato come and go upon. Of course, honorable senators may ask, if it is good enough to add one in orderto secure quotas; why not add two? If you added two, you would have eight quotas; and seven candidates would be returned, instead of six.
– Surely you canreject the last two. The whole thing is arbitrary.
– No ; if you had eight quotas, seven candidates might secure quotas. In some instances, of course, that would be the case; and consequently you have the advantage of the seventh quota on which you can come and go.
– I - It is just less than a quota.
– The seventh will, be just less than a quota, becausethe six votes have to come out ofit,and if you added another quota probably more candidates would be decked than wererequired. The advantage and the benefit of the Droop quota is that you canhave a man elected by the least number of votes.
– And you disfranchise the 27,000.
– I shall take the instance which SenatorClemons introduced for the purposeof illustrating the enormity of the proposals of the Droop system. He said - “ Take a constituency of 4,200 electors. Divide that numberby seven, and the quotient, plus one, becomes the quota. Six times 601 is3,606. Now look at the enormity of 594 persons notbeing represented.” Take the same example. According to Senator Clemons, the majority only inthe constituency has the right torepresentation. Dividing 4,202 electorsby two, we have 2,101 electors asthe majority, so that, according to hisown much admired system, 2,099 electorsare disfranchised or nonrepresented in theconstituency.
– That is, if youassume that only 2,101 would vote.
– Yes; butI am taking the argument of Senator Clemons, who is horrified to think that under the Droop system 594 personscanbe unrepresented in the Senate. He said - “We do not want representation of minorities.”
– What hewas contending forthen was not in favour of theunrepresented, but in favour of one quotaover the other. Hewas not speaking on behalf of the unrepresentedminority atall.
– I can assure myhonorable friend thatSenator Clemons made a strong pointof the injustice of 594 persons being unrepresented; but I turn round upon him and showhis charminginconsistency. He said - “ We do not want representation of minorities. Various shades of opinion should not be represented inthe Senate ; “ and according to his own proposals, and the existing system which he so much admires, 2,099 persons would be unrepresented.
– That is quite consistent. He does not want them to be represented.
– I would also urge that the Droop system issubstantially very superior tothe Hare system. It is possible, under the Hare system for minorities to dominate. In thesematters wecanalways more conclusively demonstrate their meaning by definite instances. Takea constituency of 120,000 electors, with three seats to be filled, and assume that the electors comprise 65,000 protectionists and55,000 freetraders. Of the two protectionist candidates A gets 40,000 votes and B 25,000 votes; while of the two free-traders X gets 28,000 votes and Y 27,000 votes, making a total of 120,000 votes. The
Hare quota is 40,000 ; that is tosay three into 120,000. The Droopquotais 30,001. According to the Hare quota, A would beejected with his 40,000 votes; and Xand Y, representing,minorities,would be elected- X by his 28,000 votes, and Y by his 27,000 vote’s. According to the Droop quota, however; the verdict would be that A would be elected, and B, who gets A’s surplus of 9,999 would be elected be the vote of 34,999 ; and X with his 28,000 wouldalsoheelected, because, of course, he would get the 27,000 votes of Y. So the result of that election would be, if it took place according to the Hare system, that the two free-traders representing the minority would be returned, and only one protectionist ; whereas, according to the Droopsystem, the two protectionists would be returned, and only one free-trader.
– Is not the result the same either way?
– No; if that appears, to be so I have made myself misunderstood. I will give the illustration again. I assume three seats. Thetotal number of voters is 120,000. There are 65,000 protectionists; and thereare 55,000 free-traders.
– They all vote ?
– Yes. The protectionists are - A, who gets 40,000 votes, and B, who gets 25,000. The free-traders are - X, who gets 28,000, and Y, who gets 27,000. That makes up the 55,000 free-traders. The Hare quota is 40,000. The Droop quota is 30,001, the difference between the two being, of course; 9,999. According to the Hare system, A, with his 40,000 votes, would be elected. Then the next two highest on the roll would be elected, that is to say X, with 28,000, andY, with 27,000.
– Although they had not the quota?
– Although without the quota.
Senator Sir Josiah Symon. Notnecessarily. The honorable and learned senator is assuming that only file numberone votes are taunted. It all depends on thedistribution ofthe second preferences.
– I am speaking of the Hare-Clark system.
– The return of memberswith less than, the quota, only, comes into play after you have exhausted all the preference votes. The honorable and learned senator has not done that.
– That is according to the Hare-Clark system ; but; according, to the Hare system, what I have explained would be the result.
-Hare finally advocated theelimination of those candidates who had not received the quota.
– I think the posi tion is correct as I have, explained it. But, according to theDroop system, the result would be that A would be elected, and B, the second protectionist, would also be elected, because B would get the benefit of the surplus votes, 9,9,99, given to A. Consequently I claim that, according to the Hare system, minority domination is possible;but, according to the system provided in the Bill, sucha thing is not possible.
SenatorPearce. - Nor according to the block, system.
– Clearly according to the block system either result could take place.
SenatorMillen. - With two seat’s the honorable and learned senator only imagines two candidates for each party. That is a very, imaginary state of things, It is a record instance.
-Our object is to discover the weaknesses of the position, and I choose this illustration for the purpose of contrasting the proposals of the Bill with the Hare system, and showing their greater certainty. I deal with the two quotas; because, as honorable senators know, they have been very, much canvassed in the speeches that havebeen delivered in this debate. I submit that the quota as provided in the Bill, and which hasbeen denounced by SenatorDownerwho claimed that the Hare system, is superior - is in reality superior to the Hare system. I have not attempted, to elaborate all these points, but I desire togivewhat I conceivetobeatrue outline ofthescheme as proposed by the Bill. The effect of theseproposals is, first of. all, thatthevotersare divided into natural, unanimous,and equal electorates. Secondly everymember will be returned by a quota. Thirdly, everymember is thus elected, not by a mereabsolute majority, but unanimously, by, the whole of thevoters in the several natural electorates groups, which we call quotas. Fourthly aswe know, in cutting up, a State into single electorates wehave alwaysaimed at community, of interest. I say that, according to the scheme of the Billembodying proportional representation the voters themselves automatically divide themselves into natural electorates by this very motive power of community of interest.
-A splendid thing for the House of Representatives.
– Time will not permit me to elaborate these points, but I give them as the general results to be adduced from the provisions of the Bill. Fifthly I say that every man counts for one vote, and no man for more than one. That is, every vote has an equal value. Honorable senators know that according to the existing system notwithstanding the principle of one man one vote, in adjoining electorates votes bear different values. The first objection raised to the scheme of the Bill is that the chief object of proportional representation is to secure minority representation. I deny that. My chief object is to secure the domination of a majority, and only a right to be heard by the minority. Let me in this connexion quote two or three words which put the point stronger and more conclusively thanI could do. The passage is taken from Sir John Lubbock’s book. He says -
Mr. Fawcett again, in his last speech to his constituents at Hackney, truly pointed out that- “Far from those who advocated proportional representation wishing to give to the minority the power which properly belongs to the majority, I think I shall have no difficulty in showing that one of the chief dangers which the advocates of proportional representation desire to guard against; is the minority obtaining a preponderance ofrepresentation which ought to belong to the majority.” Nay, so far from this, a true system of proportional representation is, in the words of Mill, “not only the most complete application of the democratic principle that has yet been made, but its greatest safegaurd.”
That puts the point, in a nut shell. The second objection made is that this scheme will result in the return of faddists. That is a most unfair and untenable argument. Take the instance I have already given. I have mentioned that the quota in the Convention election would be 27,001. Of course, if women were voting, the probability is that it would be double that number. The population of Victoria is 1,280,000, or thereabouts. Roughly, oneseventh of the population is 1 80,000. I ask honorable senators - would not that substantial section of the community have a right to be represented in the Federal Parliament? If by any stretch of imagination those people could be denominated faddists, I say they are entitled to be represented by one sharing their opinions. The third objection is that the State should speak with one voice. I ask honorable senators which voice it is that they desire should speak - the voice of the majority or the voice of the minority ? Either is possible, according to the existing system. The fourth objection taken is that the proposals contained in the Bill are too complicated. I venture to say that that objection is untenable so far as concerns the voter. His duty is of the simplest character. He simply has to record his preferences - one, two, three , four, five, six, as the case may be. So far as the machinery is concerned, it is a matter purely and solely for the returning officers,, whose duty it is to make themselves acquainted with the provisions of the Bill. I regret having detained the Senate a little unduly in relation to the measure, but the subject is one that is entitled to our fullest consideration. I venture to say that honorable senators are animated with only one anxiety, and that is to do their very best to secure electoral reform in connexion with the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 February 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020226_senate_1_8/>.