1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Major GOULD presented a petition from the President of the Synod of the diocese of Goulburn, in the State of New South Wales, praying the Senate to reject the Matrimonial Causes Bill.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising do adjourn until to-morrow at 10.30 a.m.
The matter of public importance I wish to bring before the Senate is the administration of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, which concerns Queensland very directly. In the Melbourne Argus of yesterday there appeared the following statement : -
Mr. Ewing (N.S.W.), M.H.R., informed the Prime Minister last week that it was alleged that there were from 50 to 150 kanakas whose agreements with sugar planters had expired, in the neighbourhood of Cudgea, in the Tweed River district, who were without means of subsistence. Mr. Barton was asked if the Commonwealth would make arrangements to remove these Pacific islanders to Queensland, where they might obtain work on the plantations ; or else deport them to the islands from which they came. The Prime Minister telegraphed to Mr. See, Premier of New South Wales, asking for confirmation of ‘the statements, and that gentleman replied that there -were about 50 kanakas unemployed in the Tweed River district ; that they were time-expired men ; that there was a prospect of their finding employment on local plantations shortly ; that none .of them were destitute ; that they were very orderly, and that no disturbance was expected. Mr. Barton about the same time received a letter from a Rev. Mr. Lamont, of Sydney, stating that, owing to the operation of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and the inducement given to planters by the differential sugar excise duties to substitute white for black labour, a fairly large number of kanakas had been thrown out of employment, and were practically starving. Mr. Barton has, therefore, telegraphed to the Premier of Queensland, asking if work can be found for any New South Wales time-expired men in that State.
The Prime Minister does not anticipate that it will be necessary to deport the kanakas referred to. “ No doubt if it became necessary we would deport them.” he said, yesterday, “ but I take it that these men will readily obtain employment.” It appears that Queensland planters importing Pacific islanders enter into a bond of £5 to cover the cost of returning them to their homes at the expiration of their contracts, but no sucharrangement has, it is -understood, been made in respect to the kanakas employed in New South Wales. Mr. Barton, however, prefers to wait until a definite case occurs before considering who will have to defray the cost of deporting these labourers - the planters or the Common wealth.
The Prime ‘ Minister has taken a very inadequate view of his responsibility in connexion with the administration of the Act. “We need not dwell at any length on the reasons advanced for the passing of the Act. It was unanimously agreed in the Senate, and I think in another place, that the introduction of the kanakas into this country was a grievous mistake. But, having got them here, we decided upon certain terms on which they might be allowed to remain. Section 8 of the Act empowers the Government to deport these kanakas if they are found to be without an agreement.. It says -
An officer authorized in that behalf may bring before a court of summary jurisdiction a Pacific island labourer found in Australia before the 31st day of December, 1906, whom he reasonably supposes not to be employed under an agreement, and the court, if satisfied that he is not and 30 i 2 has not during the preceding month been so employed, shall order him to De deported from Australia, and he shall.be deported accordingly.
We know that, not only in New South Wales but also in Queensland, sugar-growers desirous of producing sugar by white labour have desired to terminate the agreements with the kanakas. The Prime Minister, we have been informed, has -received letters from Queensland planters wishing to terminate such agreements at the earliest possible date, and he has found it necessary to complain to the State Premier, Mr. Philp, that objections were being offered to the termination of the agreements. Mr. Philp of course -replied that, provided the kanakas understood what -was being required of them, and that their agreements were to be terminated, the Queensland Government had no objection. We find that the employers are dispensing with kanakas in New South Wales, and in Queensland, too. What is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament under these circumstances 1 I take it that it is not, in the case of kanakas discharged in New South Wales, to endeavour to find room for them in Queensland. We are hoping to get rid of the kanakas in Queensland as soon as ,possible, and the Prime Minister should not encourage the planters to continue the employment of black labour by thrusting upon ‘them a number of time expired kanakas from New South Wales. If a question as to the power of the Commonwealth to deport these kanakas is raised, we may -well ask who will interfere with the .Government, if they undertake to pay the black - labour vessels a certain sum per head to -take back to their islands the kanakas who are out of employment. As the Rev. Mr. Lamont says, some of them are in a very poor way, and have not sufficient to live upon. Who would complain if these kanakas were taken back to their islands 1 Kanakas of the type of the time-expired boy, as he is called, rare probably the worst class that we have to put up with in Queensland. These are kanakas who leave the plantations and hang about towns like Bundaberg, where they are known as “ walk-about “ ^kanakas ; they -walk about for about six months in the year, and during the remaining months get employment at from 10s. to 15s. per week from planters in the neighbourhood. It was the walk-about kanaka who was responsible as much as any one for the great agitation against the employment of black labour in Queensland. I hope that the Prime Minister will alter his views regarding the treatment of those who are thrown out of work by the planters who wish to go in for white labour only. I am satisfied that the Commonwealth will not object to pay the expense that is necessary to send these men back to their islands, even if the fund to which the planters have contributed in the past is not sufficient to meet the expenditure. The Pacific Island Labourers Act contains sections which enable the Government to deal with these kanakas in a prompt and speedy manner. The kanaka has no right to be in Australia at all, excepting as one who is willing to be employed at field work on the sugar plantations. He is supposed not to be required for any other purpose in Queensland, and I take it that, in future, kanakas who came here prior to the passage of the Act will have to abide by its provisions. According to the law, a kanaka must be employed under an agreement for a term, and if he is found working without sin agreement he may be sent back to the islands, and any planter or other person employing a kanaka except under an agreement is liable, on summary conviction before a magistrate, to a penalty not exceeding £100. It is in the power of the Government not only to send away those boys not under agreement, who are walking about - a nuisance to the general community - but to ask an employer to produce the agreement under which ‘he engages a kanaka. If it is not produced the kanaka may be taken away and sent to his island, and the- employer punished. I think that Mr. Barton has been too generous in his view. Probably owing to the agitation on behalf of the planters of Queensland, or owing to the statement that labour is not obtainable, he has taken the view that when 50 or 100 men are thrown out of employment on the plantations in New South Wales, they might as well be sent to Queensland, whereby every one would be satisfied. But those of us who have taken part in the agitation for a white Australia are dissatisfied to find that Queensland is to be made the dumping ground for any unemployed kanaka labour in New South Wales, or for Chinese coolies and others whom it is said will be attracted to the sugar districts in consequence of the passing of the Pacific Island
Labourers Act. I hope that the representative of the Government in the Senate will bring under the notice of the Cabinet the views of those who represent Queensland, and will urge that the Prime Minister is taking too lenient a view of his responsibilities in connexion with the administration of the Act.
– Senator Higgs has raised a very important question indeed, and I regret that I am not in a position to answer what he has said in as definite a manner as I could wish. The honorable senator informed me, something like half-an-hour before the Senate met, that he intended to move this motion, but since I obtained that information I have not had an opportunity of communicating with the Prime Minister. I may tell the honorable senator this, however - that the statement in the paragraph in the Argus as to the contents of Mr. Barton’s telegram is incorrect. It is not a fact that Mr. Barton asked if work could be found in Queensland for the time-expired kanakas. The actual contents of the telegram I have not here before me. The question is a difficult one for this reason : It is quite true that there is legally a power under section 8 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, to which Senator Higgs has referred, to go to a court, or a magistrate, and obtain an order for the deportation of kanakas. But that would also be the case even if the men were employed in New South Wales j because under the Act an agreement is defined to be an agreement under the Queensland Act. The only agreement that will protect a kanaka from deportation is an agreement under the Queensland Act ; so that a kanaka employed whether under an agreement or not in any other part of Australia but Queensland is open to have an order for deportation made against him. In the interpretation of the Act we are brought by Senator Higgs’ reference right up to this point : Is it a proper policy to follow to deport every kanaka whose time has expired, and who is out of an agreement, whether in New South Wales or Queensland ; or is it right to follow out what has been said in some quarters to be the spirit of the Act - that is to say, to consider the convenience, to a certain extent, of the kanakas and those employing them, and not be too urgent in their deportation unless they are in destitute circumstances, or the time for the conclusion of the agreement has come to an end ? This is a very important question of policy about which I am not prepared to say anything at the present time. It is not perhaps necessary for me to say that I shall represent to the Prime Minister what has been said by Senator Higgs. I can assure him that the matter he has referred to is not really ripe for action. It has been considered, and I have no doubt that a conclusion will be arrived at, and action taken, which will be in accordance with the faithful carrying out of the provisions of the Act. Of course, the admin”istration of an Act of this sort necessarily implies hardship on the kanakas as well as on the persons employing them. On the other hand, if we wish to obtain the objects aimed at by the Act, there must be a firm administration of it. Exactly where the point of wise administration is arrived at regarding both the considerations I have mentioned is a matter to bo determined in each case. I have not sufficient facts to enable me to say here exactly what will be done, and what the Prime Minister intends to do ; but I thought it right to say what I have said now lest it should be supposed that I was consenting to the proposition that under all circumstances, and without any regard to local conditions or personal considerations whatever, immediately a kanaka was out of employment he should be deported.
– I have from time to time noticed paragraphs in the public prints which would indicate that there was some looseness with regard to the administration of the Pacific Island Labourers Act. But I am not here in a critical mood to condemn too strongly the action of the Government without having sufficient information at my command to enable me to arrive at a definite and just conclusion. I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Act must be administered with firmness. It must also be administered with tact and judgment, and care. Every consideration should be given to the sentiments so widely held and firmly expressed by the people of Australia that the employment of kanaka labour must come to an end at a reasonable period, which has been stipulated in the Act. I also join in the remarks made by Senator O’Connor that we have not sufficient data to proceed upon. That is one of our weaknesses, and it would be well for the Government to pay a little attention to the matter. I would respectfully suggest to Senator O’Connor - and, if he thinks the suggestion worthy of consideration, he might mention it to his colleagues, as I have no doubt he will - that if a small commission were appointed to inquire into each individual case, there would be no chance of injustice being done. I do not mean that there should be appointed a Royal commission, with all the paraphernalia that usually attaches to such bodies ; but it would be wise for the Prime Minister to appoint a small commission to inquire carefully and accurately into every individual case of every kanaka in Queensland, with a view of getting the data which is lacking, and which is most wanted at the present time. We should not be “groping in the dark, but should know exactly what we are doing. Some honorable senators may think that the work- of such a commission would be gigantic. Nothing of the sort. The kanakas, as a rule, are employed in large numbers, and in large centres. There are, of course, a number who are scattered here and there, but they are . not numerous. The bulk are employed in large groups in particular districts. If the commission I have suggested were to visit the districts where the kanakas are employed, they could ascertain from the Government, the official returns, and the books of the various Polynesian inspectors, the position of each individual, how long he had been in the country, what was his condition, what was the condition of his tribe and family in his own island, and all other “necessary facts concerning him. I have no doubt it would be found that some kanakas have been a long time in the country - so long that the tribe to which they belong may have disappeared.
– Or been eaten. .
– The tribe may have been scattered by tribal wars or internal feuds and strife, or by a hundred and one causes. The families of some of the kanakas may have disappeared. I can conceive of nothing that would be more harsh or cruel than to attempt to send some of these men who have been a long time in Queensland back to their islands. Anxious as I am to see the employment of this class of labour brought to a termination at the earliest possible moment, I have sufficient humanity to desire to safeguard individuals from anydire hardship to which they might he exposed by taking them back to the islands from which they came, under some conditions. I yield to no man in my desire to see the employment of kanaka labour terminated. My career in politics during the last fourteen or fifteen years will convince honorable senators of my sincerity in that” respect. I have no desire whatever to keep any kanakas in this country if they can be deported with safety to themselves. But unless we have the data to which I have alluded, we shall not know whether some men may not- be. deported to islands where they will be friendless, homeless, and tribeless, if I may use that term. It is for the Government to take action in the most humane way to see that these people are not injured by deporting them without that consideration which is necessary for their protection. I have given some consideration to the question of dealing with this matter in a practical way, and I know of no way whereby we ave likely to get accurate information, except by the appointment of some body such as I have suggested to visit the various localities where this class of labour is employed, and inquire minutely into each individual case. I do not think there would be many cases in which’ hardship would be done by deporting kanakas, but there would be some, and in those cases I trust that the Government will be imbued with the highest instincts of humanity in regard to their protection. No doubt devices will be used by the employers of this class of labour with a view of retaining the kanakas as long as they can, and with the object of confusing the issue and throwing dust in the eyes of the people of Australia who do not understand the question. But if the course I suggest be taken, and the necessary inquiries made, we shall know where we are. It will be for the Government and Parliament, on having these papers before them, to insist upon a reasonable and firm interpretation of the law, and upon the return of the overwhelming portion of this class of labour to the islands from whence it came. I regret that I had not the pleasure of hearing the whole of Senator Higgs’ remarks, but I thought it desirable to supplement what had been said as to the fact that the people of Queensland will insist on this law being administered in such a way that no confusion will arise by-and-by; that it shall be carried out in its entirety, and for the well-being of a number of individuals, whom it would be unwise, if not inhuman, to deport. In the second instance, I have made these observations with a view of enlightening Parliament as to the details of this’ question.
– The absence of information to which I referred, was in this particular case, and not in. regard to the question generally.
– I have lived in Queensland many years, and have taken a great interest in this question, but I have not that detailed information in regard to individual cases which I should like to possess. It will be wise for the Government to see to the firm, and in some instances rigid, deportation of these individuals when the time for that action arrives under the Act.
– It seems to me that a very clear cut issue has been raised by Senator Higgs, and that we need not go into questions as to the inhumanity of deporting kanakas and other matters which were debated fully when the Bill was before us. The issue seems to be that according to the report, if we may take it as accurate, there are a number of kanakas in New South Wales who are unemployed, and it is asserted, destitute; although that assertion is not supported by the Premier of New South Wales. A proposal has been made to deport them to Queensland. That certainly seems to me to raise the question of whether it was the intention of the Legislature, in passing the Pacific Island Labourers Bill, that such a course should be followed or whether it was intended that if these kanakas were dealt with at all they should be deported to places outside the Commonwealth.
– There is no power to deport from one State to another. Deportation must be to places outside Australia.
– Still it seems to me as if there was something contemplated-
– The terms of the telegram are mistakenly reported.
– As one who voted for the Act I hope it will be administered in the spirit in which it was passed, which was that it should prevent the increase of kanakas in Australia, and provide for the deportation of those already here to the islands from whence they came. I hope that the Government intend, and I believe they do, to administer the law in that spirit. We have to remember that its administration depends to a large extent on the careful watch kept on it by members of this Legislature. We know that another measure of this character - the Immigration Restriction Act - is passing through a very fiery trial at the present time, and not altogether with very satisfactory results. A new departure is taking place by which persons who prior to the passing of the Act were called passengers are now designated members of a ship’s crew, and escape from their vessels on arrival at these ports. In consequence the Act is being nullified to a certain extent. If the customs officials can prevent these men from landing as passengers, they should be able to prevent their escape as members of a ship’s crew. I hope the Government are watching this new departure as I am sure they are. They have full power to deal with the matter very effectually, and I trust they will make such an object lesson of any case that comes up that a recurrence of the trouble will be prevented. If the two Acts to which I have referred are administered in the spirit in which they were passed, there will be no such thing as the deporting of kanakas from one district where they are unable to find employment to another in the Commonwealth where work is available. They will be deported to the islands from whence they came. That was the intention of the Legislature, and I am sure that the Government will carry out the law in that way. The Senate will insist upon the law being administered in the spirit in which it was passed.
Senator HIGGS (In reply). - In asking leaveto withdraw my motion, I wish to state that my only desire is to induce the Government to carry out the Act as speedily as possible. I know that there are difficulties in the way, but I desire to show also that whilst we recognise those difficulties we feel that every effort should be made by the Government to carry out the law. I am sure that when members of the Government get away from their generous mood, and come back to the letter of the law, the intention of the Act will be carried out.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator DRAKE laid on the table the following paper : -
Transcontinental Railway : Report on Preliminary Examination of Country Between Kalgoorlie and Eucla.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 28th February, 1902 (vide page 10527), on motion by Senator
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which, Senator Sir Josiah Symon had moved by way of amendment -
That after theword “That” the following words be inserted “having regard to theadvanced period of the session, and to the fact that Parliament has not yet dealt with the question of a uniform franchise for all the States, it is not expedient to proceed further with the consideration of this Bill.”
– I do not propose to occupy more than a few minutes of the time of the Senate, because it appears to me from the debate that the points that are really contested are points which could be tested and dealt with more suitably in committee than in the Senate. I think it is generally admitted that it is necessary that some measure of this kind should be passed at the earliest possible period. It is true that it is connected very intimately with the Franchise Bill now before another place. In fact, this Bill appears to me to be complementary of the other. In any case, even although the Franchise Bill should not be passed during this session, it is very desirable that this measure should be dealt with. Seeing that they are two Bills, both of very great importance and connected one with the other, and that this is a machinery measure, which necessarily requires the expenditure of a great deal more time upon it than does the other, it is a very fair and proper arrangement that it should be dealt with by the Senate, seeing that we have plenty of time on our hands, and that the shorter Bill should be taken first by the House of Representatives. That is the present arrangement. The two are very intimately connected with each other, because, while the Bill now before the House of Representatives fixes the franchise which is to be exercised in future by the citizens of Australia, this Bill is designed to provide the method of voting, and, we say, to give the utmost possible value to the franchise. I think it should be borne in mind, in the discussion of this Bill, that its object is to give the greatest possible value to the franchise. Reference has been made to what is known in Queensland as the contingent vote - a system called sometimes the advance vote - which was introduced in Queensland, I think, before being tried in any other part of Australia. I should like to say a few words as to the circumstances in which it was introduced, and the way in. which it has worked in Queensland, more particularly because it has been stated by interjection during the course of the debate that it has been a failure there. It has not been a failure in the true sense of the word. It would be more correct to say that the privilege of giving an advance or contingent vote has not been availed of to any great extent. Perhaps the only perfect example we could have of an election would be one for the return of a single member, and only two candidates standing. I would say we should have perfection of election in that way if it were not that some of those who have spoken during this debate seem to think that, when a voter casts a vote for a candidate who is not elected, his vote is wasted.
– Not at all.
– A vote cast in those circumstances has been spoken of several times as a wasted vote. If that is so there cannot be anything like a perfect election in any circumstances, because if we are not going to have two candidates for one, or three for two seats, there can be no polling. If we take it as admitted that where we have only two candidates standing for one seat we have a perfect method, then we say the difficulties increase when we have first of all a multiplicity of candidates, and then double or treble electorates - electorates requiring to be represented by more than one member. In consequence of votes being split amongst candidates representing one party, it happens sometimes that a candidate who has ‘ only a distinct minority of votes is elected, and, therefore, cannot be said to properly represent the constituency. That difficulty has been overcome in France, Italy, and Germany, as honorable senators know, by means of the double ballot. That is to say, an election takes place first of all in which there may be a multiplicity of candidates, and then a second election is held - after an interval - in which only twice the number of candidates to be elected are allowed to stand. By that means they obtain a ballot at which the person or persons elected represent an absolute majority of the voters. The evil of having a constituency represented occasionally by a person who distinctly represents only a minority of the voters struck several of the politicians of Queensland in 1891, and when the Bill was introduced in the State Legislature in that year, a proposal was made by Mr. Barlow that the system of the double ballot, as known in the countries to which I have referred, should be adopted. It was pointed out at once, in answer to his proposal, that on account of the vast distances in Queensland the double ballot would involve a delay of weeks or months. It would have taken five or six weeks to ascertain what had been the result of the first ballot. Then a day would have had to be fixed for the second ballot, and the electors would have had to come to the poll again, some of them travelling as far as 100 miles. It was made perfectly clear that that system could not possibly work in Queensland, and was suitable only for small and thickly populated countries. Mr. Barlow then proposed as a substitute a series of motions providing for the contingent vote, so that the voter would only have to go to the poll once, and would be allowed to note upon his ballotpaper how he would desire to vote, supposing it became necessary to institute a second count - the second count being substituted in this way for a second ballot. Various objections to these motions, as proposed by Mr. Barlow in 1S91, were pointed out. He then withdrew them, and in 1892 brought forward amended proposals which were adopted. I have briefly explained that with regard to single electorates this system practically has the same effect as a double ballot, and at the same time it avoids the great inconvenience and expense of bringing the voters up to the poll a second time. In Queensland we have 60 single electorates and twelve double electorates, and when we came to apply the principle of the contingent vote to double electorates we found it would not work so well. Some honorable senators in speaking on the system proposed in this Bill have said it will be necessary first for honorable senators to learn the system, and then to instruct the voters. Well, if it is necessary that the voters should be instructed upon the details of a system of this kind, I do not see why that should not be done. I may say that that is exactly what I did myself in 1892 before the general election. Knowing the difficulty which would arise in connexion with the double electorates and contingent votes, I held a meeting in one of the largest halls in Brisbane, and with the help of two blackboards and an easel I demonstrated, I think, satisfactorily beforehand that the system would not work in double electorates. I showed that it did not give what the resolutions providing for the contingent, vote were aimed at. It did not insure that the person elected would have an absolute majority of the votes. It also had this very unsatisfactory feature, that it was possible under it that a voter by his contingent vote might succeed in putting out the man to whom he had given one of his primary votes. I think these objections were clearly seen after the Act was passed, and the advice of all parties was not to use the contingent vote in the case of double electorates, and in a very great number of cases the advice given by the parties was not to use it at all. It is, for that reason, that that system of voting has not been largely availed of in Queensland. I mention incidentally that the exercise of the contingent vote is purely optional. It would be wrong, however, to say that it has had no effect, because in one instance it certainly did have the effect of altering the result of an election.
– In two instances. In the Lockyer, and in the Burrum at the last election.
– I was thinking of the instance of the Lockyer which occurred some years ago. There were two candidates representing the same side - one a Minister of the Crown, and another a Ministerial supporter - and as the result of the first count the Minister had a majority of a few votes, but on the second count he was in a minority. Seeing that he was a member of the Ministry who sanctioned the introduction of the system, there was a good deal of quiet chuckling over it. The general discouragement given in Queensland to the use of the contingent vote was mainly on account of the unsatisfactory way in which it may work in double electorates, and it has hardly ever been used. I cannot see at the present time how, with regard to single electorates, we could get a better system than that of the contingent vote. It will not work satisfactorily in the case of double electorates, and I do not know what would have happened in connexion with the election for the Senate in Queensland if the Government had not introduced a short measure, providing that the local law embodying the contingent vote should not apply to constituencies where more than one member had to be elected. If the contingent vote had been applied to an electorate for which six persons might be elected the result would have been most confusing, and it was on that account that the Bill I refer to was passed.
– When was that done?
– Just before the federal election took place. I introduced the Bill myself in the Legislative Council of Queensland. I need hardly say anything with regard to the different methods adopted under this Bill in connexion with the election of members of the House of Representatives and of members of the Senate. I think we are all agreed that there are reasons, quite apart from the method of voting, why a different method of election of members of the two Houses should be adopted. What method can we adopt which will procure simplicity so far as the act of the voter is concerned, and at the same time assure that the wishes of the electorate are given effect to 1 This, I admit, is a matter of grave controversy. It has been engaging the attention of leading men for a number of years, and, perhaps, we have not yet arrived at finality. It seems that some objection can be urged against every method so far proposed. What we say is that up to the present time, in the light of our knowledge upon the subject, nothing better has been devised than the system contained in this Bill. If it is capable of improvement, let us get into committee upon the Bill, and see in what way it can be improved. But at the present time it appears to me that it is more free from objection than any system of proportional representation that has yet been devised. Other methods have been proposed, and I confess that in 1892 1 was very much taken with the idea of giving a proportional value to every vote, and thus counting up all the votes given for all the candidates, believing that those who came out on top under such a system must be the persons who on the average enjoyed the fullest confidence of the electors.
– How long would that calculation take ?
– It would not take long. That is not the objection to the system. “We have, for instance, six candidates. Wetake one as the unit of value for the primary vote j five-sixths will be the value of the next, then four-sixths, three-sixths, twosixths, and one-sixth. It would not take long to work it out.
– Remember there were 50 candidates in New South Wales !
– That would not make much difference.
– Should we require two blackboards at every polling place 1
– No, we should require no blackboards at all. The mathematical work of taking out the result would be done behind the scenes with mathematical accuracy and in the presence of the scrutineers. I have said that is not the objection to the proposal. The objection is that it does not provide for the votes wasted by being given to candidates who have already received sufficient votes to secure their election. It is in order to provide against that that the quota has been introduced. I desire to say here that I do not agree with Senator Clemons and others who followed him in speaking of the Hare quota as the “ true quota “ and of the Droop quota as the “false quota.” Senator Clemo’ns said that for the sake of argument he would call one the true quota and the others a false quota, and throughout his speech he assumed that one quota was true and the other, false. It appears to me that the one which the honorable and learned senator calls “ the false quota “ is really “ the true quota” - the quota that is scientifically accurate. I do not desire to repeat what other honorable’ senators have perhaps said better before, but, taking the instance of a constituency of 42,000 voters with six seats to be filled, what is the quota ? We say that the quota is 6,001 votes, for the simple reason that if a candidate gets 6,001 votes he must be elected, because there are not enough votes left to enable six others to be elected. If he only got 5,999, it would be possible for six others to get 6,000 each, and he would not be elected. Surely we can get no nearer to scientific accuracy than that. The true quota is then the lowest number necessary to insure the election of a candidate. It has been mentioned as an objection that when all the votes are reckoned there must be some number of voters unrepresented, but does not that happen at elections under any other system of voting. There are some votes cast always for candidates who do not get in, and we can claim for this system, that under it the number of votes cast for candidates who do not get in is smaller than under any other system. If this is an evil, then the evil is minimized under this system, and it would be worse under the block system.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that Hare’s quota is defective in itself.
– I think so, certainly, because it is not necessary to get that number. In the instance I have used ‘oneseventh, and one of the total number of votes is sufficient to secure the election of a candidate. I can easily imagine how Hare fell into the mistake. He finds out his quota by dividing the total number of votes by the number of candidates who can be elected, but if only the number who can be elected stand, there is no contested election.
– He had a different object in view - that every vote should be represented; whereas, under the system proposed by the Government, a certain quota are unrepresented.
– -But there must be some unrepresented. If we take the block vote system, and there is an election of one man from two candidates, there must be a minority of votes unrepresented.
– Certainly, but Hare had a different object in view. That is the reason for his quota.
– I cannot see what was the use of it. According to Hare, given a constituency of 42,000, 7,000 would be the quota, and he would distribute no surplus votes until a candidate got 7,000 votes. It is perfectly certain, that as soon as a candidate gets 6,001 votes, he is elected, and Hare’s quota would only cause a larger number of votes to be wasted, because if you make the quota 7,000 when 6,001 are sufficient to insure his election, you give to that candidate 999 votes more than are necessary. These are utterly wasted votes, and the whole system of the quota is devised in order to insure that votes shall not be wasted by being cast for a candidate who does not need them. That seems to me to be acircumstance which makes this proposal very much better than a proposal I was inclined to favour at one time, years ago, and that was to count all the votes primary and contingent, and declare elected those who had the largest aggregate. If that happened, a very great number of votes might be given for the leading candidates which would be wasted, and which would not be cast if the voter knew that those persons did not need any assistance. After a certain number of the candidates have got their quotas, and been declared elected, we adopt the same principle here as we do with regard to the contingent vote. We commence to cut out as defeated candidates those who are down at the bottom, and distribute their votes upwards until as many as can have got he quota. And then, if in consequence of some not having exercised their full r ights, there are not sufficient votes left for the full quota to be obtained by the remaining candidates, they are elected on this system in very much the same way as on the contingent vote system. Some confusion was endeavoured to be made by some honorable senators with regard to that provision, but it seems to be exceedingly simple. You are trying to elect six ; you have elected four because they have each got the quota, and since the remaining votes are not sufficient to enable others to get the quota, you open the ballot-papers again and make it practically an election between the candidates who are unelected. A great deal was made of changing the numbers. All it means is that if a voter has voted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and the returning officer finds that 1, 2, 3 are already elected, he alters the 4, 5, 6, into 1, 2, 3. This plan was spoken of by one honorable senator as though it meant that the returning officer would have the right in a most capricious manner to alter aman’s ballot-paper. Itmeans nothing of the sort ; it is reason and common sense. When we get into committee to considertheactualmethod of voting, someof those who have told us about mathematical puzzles and so on will be inclined to think that they have underrated their own intelligence. I am sure that when we come to discuss the actual details, especially after having had the advantage of this debate, we shall find that there is common sense embodied in this system, and that the ruling principle is simply that of making the voting as simple as possible for the voter. What could be more simple when a voter gets his ballotpaper with the number of candidates than to number them exactly in the order in which he would desire to see them placed ? If there is a man to whom he strongly objects, he can strike out his name.
– I do not see the object of striking it out.
– It is probably much the same as not putting a number against the name. If the voter’s mind is just even with regard to two or three candidates, and he does not care which of them is elected, he can bracket them, and thevote will go to whichever candidate may need it in preference to a candidate whom he has placed lower down on the list. It looks complicated, but it is really very simple. In each case the returning officer considers simply what is the wish of the elector, and then gives the best effect to it.
– If there is no surplus he does not consider the second and third preferences.
– He considers the second and third preferences as against the third and fourth whenever the vote is used. He does not use it always.
– Not if it is a bare quota.
– Yes for the quota. When a candidate gets the exact quota, there is no surplus.
– His papers are all thrown aside, and they take no further part in the election ?
– That is right. In discussing a Bill to provide for the method of voting, we ought not to concern ourselves about what is going to be the result. Some speeches have been made about there being so many thousands of free-traders, so many thousands of protectionists, and so many thousands of this, that, and the other, and what result will come about under a system of this kind, but those considerations ought not to weigh at all.
– Those are the principal considerations.
-No ; it is not the function of Parliament to try to bring about some particular result, but to insure that the duty of the voter to vote for the man he wants shall be made as clear as possible, and to provide a system which will insure that the will of the elector shall be given effect to. To the extent to which we succeed in doing that, we give the highest possible value to the franchise.
– At a later stage, should the Bill pass its second reading, I shall take an opportunity to deal more with its details than I propose to do now. Some of the details, in my opinion, are admirable, and have been selected with great care, and evidently represent the fruits of the experience of the several States. Other details I am afraid I shall have to denominate by some other term, and these, I think, have been selected without a due regard to the (main principles which the Bill seeks to enforce. They may have been admirable as details in the existing electoral system, but they are not at all applicable to the system which is sought to be set up. I cannot help thinking that their presence in this Bill, side by side with a system to which they do not properly fit, is due to the fact that that system is being put forward by those who have not carefully digested it, who have accepted it possibly at a somewhat late hour, and without a full recognition of all it means and all it contains. It is not, however, the details which will determine the fate of the measure. Following the line of previous speakers, I propose to deal particularly with the great innovation which it introduces. I attack the principle for two main reasons. First of all I shall endeavour to show that the system is bad in itself, and utterly unsuited to our political institutions. I shall endeavour to show then that, whether good or bad, it is utterly unsuited to the election of a House constituted as the Senate is. I can quite understand that this system - I do not know whether its advocates have agreed to call it minority representation or proportional representation - has an attractiveness to those who approach it for the first time. The evils of the present system are recognised, and there is a natural tendency to adopt some system that will cure those evils, and an equally natural tendency to overlook those which may spring from the new system. I think I can say that even if this proportional system does in some way or other modify the evils of the existing system it will bring in its train evils more serious than those.which it can cure. Another reason why I think it is probable that this system appeals to many persons is because of its apparent mathematical accuracy. It looks so absolutely fair and just when you figure it out as the mathematicians do, and show how by a simple set of figures absolute results must follow as they are intended to follow. I recognise all that, but I shall endeavour to show that it is not as mathematically accurate - I am speaking of the proposal contained- in the Bill, and not of the original scheme - as those who support it would have us believe. I shall state another reason why I think that this proposal for proportional representation attracts a great number of persons. With the exception of those who have the honour to be members of the Senate I have not the slightest doubt that there is a tinge of vanity in everybody, and I can understand that under this system an ordinary individual will say - “I, at least, can get the quota.” We all know from personal experience that there was never a defeated candidate who could not satisfactorily show that he ought to have been elected.
– He was defeated, but not disgraced.
– Just so; although under this system we may have the reverse of that - a man elected and yet disgraced. Under our existing system a defeated candidate can show that he ought to have been elected, and that same tinge of human nature which induces him to take that view, impels a number of persons who have not a possible chance of being elected under any fair system where the majority decide, to become advocates of a Bill under which they think they will at least secure election. That is one- of the reasons why I am inclined .to believe that this system has managed to multiply its advocates even to the small extent it has done.
– Most of the men who are proposing this system have been elected.
– -And from my knowledge of them, they are anxious for reelection. I do not accuse any honorable senator of adopting this system to further his own political ends, but we are all subject to unconscious bias, and it is quite probable that many persons who have taken up the Bill, either before or after an election, consider themselves sufficiently secure in political life to be able to get the quota. For that reason they have deliberately set to work to support this system.
– All the opponents of the system are not biased in that way.
– No ; because, if it is only a matter of getting the quota, the opponents of the Bill will have just as good a chance as its friends. I come now to a somewhat closer consideration of the principles involved in this Bill. I should like to ask, first of all, what is wanted in the provisions of an Electoral Bill 1 I suppose no one will dispute the answer I give to that question - that what is wanted is some machinery which will register the public opinion of the constituencies with the view of that public opinion being crystallized in the legislation of1 the country! That, I take it, is the object we all have in view. According- to the character of the machinery we have, will be the particular opinions which we register. We, therefore, have to be careful that we do not adopt machinery the effect of which will be not to register the broad current of public opinion, but all the little eddies of the. current, which to my mind have no right to be called public opinion at all. It is claimed for this system that each section of thought and of political ideas will obtain its representation if it be sufficiently strong. It is claimed for the system that it enables every group of electors - that is, a number of electors formed into a group by reason of the sympathy of their ideas - to obtain their share of representation. I do not wish to be misunderstood when I say that therefore this system leads to sectional representation. I believe the advocates of the Bill are absolutely correct - just as I believe they are honest when they advocate it - when they say that that will be- its effect. I oppose the proportional representation system - discriminating between that and the other provisions of the Bill - because I believe it will lead to sectional representation, and because sectional representation would not only be bad in itself, but would sound the death-knell of responsible government: Senator Charleston laughs. I venture to say that what I have said in that respect is beyond controversy.
– I smiled in approval of the sentiment.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator admit it, because it is no idle fear that I express when I say that the adoption of this proportional representation system sounds the death-knell of responsible Government. Those who put it forward say plainly that they aim at the destruction of responsible government. Our political system, whether good or bad, is at least one with which we are familiar. It is founded upon the organization of the electors into two main bodies, and it has as its coping stone, and in my mind its chief glory, what we know as responsible government. It may have its faults, as all things human must have, until we can eliminate that most human of all things, human nature itself. But at any rate, it is the best system of which we have any knowledge. It is the best system of government which has been devised so far. It has proved sufficiently elastic for all the developments of our race, with its instinct for self-government, and it has proved strong enough to stand the strain of turmoil during many a political crisis. What is more, it is a system which, both in itself and in its results, need shrink from no comparison with any other system that has been adopted by any other nation. For these reasons, I am not prepared to do away with this system, or to adopt any other which may be put forward, more particularly when it is inconsistent with the system of responsible government which we know, and when put forward with the avowed object of destroying that system. I mentioned just now that our political institutions were based on the origanization of the electors into two parties. Under that system it follows that only great issues can be submitted to the people, and as a matter of practice only one at a time. That may of course have its disadvantages, but on the other hand it has this great advantage - that it tends to the destruction of all factional or class interests. There is one great difference between a party and a faction. A party can only exist for any length of time when it take* as its vital character and political object something which appeals to a large section of the people as being in the national interest.
– But even then it may be composed of sections.
– It may be composed of all sections who may be prepared, because of their attachment to one plank of the party - the plank which can command all sections of the party - to put on one side for the time being other matters which would divide the party.
– It would be the same under any other system.
– I will show how differently it works in practice and in theory. A party can Only exist by having adopted as the purpose of its political existence some principle or programme which may be defended on the ground of the public interest. But a faction or a class is entirely different from that. It may have no basis in political principle. We are seeking for something which is for the good of the country apart from class Olfaction. Of course no faction would be foolish enough to make the admission publicly that it existed in the interest of a few, but there is no doubt about the fact that the difference between a party, and a faction is that one is seeking for the national good, and only exists as long as it pursues that end, and the Other is seeking for the good of its own class, and even for the good of its own class as incompatible with the national good. Having pointed out that our system, as it exists, recognises two great parties, and that if we do anything to encourage or establish .the division of those parties, we are necessarily -taking a step towards the destruction of responsible government, and tending to bring confusion into the work of legislation, as is proved by the experience of Continental countries. I want to buttress my opinion in this respect by a quotation. It is this -
By the very circumstances of the case the Tariff issue cannot but dominate the first election, and the fate of the first Ministry of the Commonwealth. There will be no time for second’ thoughts, or for the suspense of judgment. The first choice of the people will be final on this head. The first Parliament must be either protectionist or anti-protectionist, and its first great work an Australian Tariff. That is .the clear-cut issue. The risk is -
And here is the point to which I wish to direct attention - that a proportion of the representatives may be returned upon other grounds, as the electors, as a whole, may not realize all that is at stake, or make the necessary sacrifices of opinions and preferences to express themselves emphatically on this point.
Now, Mr. President, there is the fact pointed out : that at a time of great national crisis - -tor it was a crisis in the history of the Commonwealth - the electors were called upon to give a clear decision on the issue submitted to the country, and they were asked not to show preferences in other respects. They were asked to ignore all but the matter of vital importance which was before them, and to sink minor matters in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– It would be a calamity.
– I know that the honorable senator would not regard the abolition of .party government as a calamity ; but I should.
– I should not regard the abolition of the fiscal issue as a calamity.
– Unfortunately the writer of the passage I have read did so regard it. I leave honorable senators to choose between Senator Pearce and the Honorable Alfred Deakin, the present Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, who is the writer of the passage I have quoted. I have said, and I want to make this clear, as the first reason for my opposition to this proposal, that it means, whether we recognise it or -not, -the destruction of responsible government. In order to support that proposition I crave the indulgence of the Senate while -I read one or two passages from authors of recognised authority upon political affairs. Honorable members are .perfectly well aware - whether they care to admit it or not is another matter - that the multiplicity of parties always tends towards the destruction of permanent and stable government. Mr. Bryce, who is the first authority whom I will quote, says this, speaking of the system of government which exists in Great Britain : -
It is a system whose successful working presupposes the existence of two great parties and no -more, parties strong enough to restrain the violence of the other, yet one of them steadily predominant in any given House of Commons. Where a third party, perhaps a fourth, appears the conditions are changed. The scales of Parliament oscillate as the weight of this detached group is thrown on one side or the other ; dissolutions may fail to restore stability. The recent history of the French Republic has shown the difficulties of working a Chamber composed of groups, nor is the same source of difficulty unknown in England.
Another writer, Professor Paul S. Reinsch, in his World Politics says this, speaking of the same matter : -
The political experience of the last two centuries has proved that free Government and party Government are almost convertible terms. It is still true as when Burke wrote his famous defence of party in his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, that, for the realization o political freedom, the organization of the electorate into regular and permanent parties is necessary. Parliamentary Government has attained its highest success only in those countries where political power is held alternately by two great national parties. As soon as factional interests become predominant ; as soon as the stability of Government dependsupon the artificial grouping of minor conflicting interests ; as soon as the nation lacks the tonic effect of the mutual criticisms of great organizations, the highest formof free Government becomes unattainable.
I also desire to quote this passage from Professor Freeman Snow in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science -
In the countries of continental Europe parties, if, indeed, they may be said to exist, are broken up into groups, no two ormore of which ever act together for any considerable length of time ; and Mi nistries are without a moment’s notice confronted at brief intervals with opposing majorities, and must give place to others whose tenure of office is, however, equallyunstableandephemeral. There is no alternative; one of the two great parties must yield to any friction which becomes strong enough to hold the balance of power between them, or suffer the inevitable consequences - instability and impotence of Government.
In Lessons of Popular Government by Bradford appears this shortand very pertinentpassage -
New parties cannot be formed on constantly changing issues since to have any strength, they must have a certain degree of permanence. The only two nations which have succeeded in forming great national parties are Great Britain and the United States. In other European countries the splitting into groups hasalmostmade representative Government impossible.
I could multiply these quotations.
– In America the individual is lost in the organization.
– Is he not lost inall organizations? A man cannot become a member of an organization without losing his individuality. I could multiply quotations to the same effect from men ‘whose authority would entitle their remarks to be received with respect in regard to anything they say upon political matters. I think I can safely challengeany honorable senator to produce any competent authority to answer those which I have cited. There are a number of eminent and able men who advocate the proportional representation system, but they recognise that it is inconsistent with our existing political system. Not only can that be affirmed, but it ispractically admitted by the advocates of this system. They must admit that their system would favour the representation of little cliques, minorities, and faddists ; they must admit this, for the reason that they have never had the courage to apply the system in a wholesale way. Hare stood appalled at the prospect of applying it to the United Kingdom, with its 654 members of the House of Commons, as one ‘electorate. It is said that the system isfirst of all to give us a perfect photograph of the country ; but when the photographer gets to work, and is about to photograph the country truly, with all its light and shade, the supporters of this scheme shrink from it and say - “ We must have a limit to it.” We are told that this is a system which will give every section of the community an opportunity of having its views represented in the Legislature, But it will notallow every school of thought to be represented. Its advocates turn round and say - “ We are frightened by the creation of our own handiwork “ ; they are so appalled at the prospect of so many schools of thought and sections being represented that they place an arbitrary limit on the number which shall be represented. The chief claim for this system is that it will allow all schools of thought to be represented. How can that take place when the number is to be limited ? For instance, if they cut down a constituency, they allow only three or four groups to be represented, although there may be 40 groups of opinion there. They do not believe in their own physic.
– How could we have more than six groups in each State represented in the Senate?
– Iadmit that we could not ; but this method could be carried out more logically in the House of Representatives.
– That is a very different thing.
– I know it is, and I shall deal with it presently. The advocates of this system always shrink from applying it to large constituencies.
-On the ground of unweildyness.
– To prove that that has nothing to do with it we have only to compare Western Australia and Victoria. If it has, then the honorable senator should advocate the subdivision of the States into electorates for the Senate. The very fact that the advocates of this system admit, as Hare and all of his successors have done, that there must be a limit to the number of members to be returned under this scheme - that it is not desirable to carry the subdivision of the people into various sections to any great extent - shows that they do not want a thorough and effective representation of the various ideas of the community. Why should they limit the number 1 Under the present system the two main sections of thought obtain representation.
– There is no Parliament in British dominions in which there are only two parties.
– I shall come to that directly. I have not overlooked what is going on, and I shall attempt to draw from it a great deal of additional strength for my opposition to anything which carries further forward the process of disintegration. Under the system which has come down to us we have had hitherto representation of the two main parties. The advocates of this scheme say that is wrong, that provision ought to be made for the representation of other parties. Task - “Why limit that provision 1 “ If it is to be proportional representation we ought to go to thefullest extent which the numbers at our disposal will admit. There is absolutely no reason why the system should not have been applied to the 654 members in the House of Commons, if the system was sound and good. It is useless to pretend that the advocates of this system do not desire to cut down the extent of representation. They say it is applicable to constituencies returning from six to twelve members. Why should they limit the number to twelve, for example, if there are fifteen schools of thought 1 It is for the advocates of the scheme to show why they should arbitrarily shut out any one when they come forward with the plea that there should be representation for every one. .
– Representation for the quota.
– And the question of the quota depends upon the size of the electorate. You can make it higher or lower.
– According to the number of members t
– Exactly. If the system is sound and good it ought to be applicable either to the Senate, the House of Representatives, or any other legislative body. If it is suitable only to one set of circumstances ‘there must be something wrong with it.
– Did Hare advocate its application to the House of Lords ?
– If the House of Lords were an elective chamber it ought to be possible to elect the members of it under this system, if it is a good one. There is one effect - an unde’sirable effect in itself - which I cannot help thinking would flow from the natural division of the electors into sections as contemplated by this Bill, and that is that, apart from the subdivision of Parliament into parties, the character of the individual representatives would change very much. At present we can say, and, I think, honestly and fairly, and with a measure of justifiable pride, that we are representatives here. But if we adopt this system the character of our representation will be lost; it will become a mere matter of delegation. What is more, the delegates who come here elected by these sections and schools of thought, each seeking its own interests, will be extremists. I do not believe that the character of Parliament or of its work would be improved if instead of representatives, as we understand the term to-day, we had delegates and extremists j and surely that would be the consequence of this system 1 Let us take any of the smaller sections into which the community is divided. I shall take one as an illustration, without wishing to cast any reflection upon the members of it, namely, the licensed victuallers. If they could command a quota, and return a member pledged to look after their interests here, he would put those interests before anything else. He would necessarily bean extremist, because, unless he pushed his views on every suitable occasion, he would not command the confidence of his quota. He would became a delegate. He would know that his chances of re-election depended upon satisfying his quota. He would become absolutely the delegate of the particular section that returned him, and not a representative of the people.
– What about subjects other than those affecting his own section ]
– He would be willing to ignore them, provided that he was able to look after the matter for which he was elected.
– Might not such a thing happen under the existing system 1
– No man would be a member of the Senate if his sole desire was to represent a section. That is what makes a seat in this chamber a source of pride to an honorable senator. He is proud to know that he has been elected on the broad principle of State representation. Now I come to the main accusation against the proposal, and it is, disguise it how they will, those who support it are consciously or unconsciously advocating something which must mean not only minority representation, but minority rule. I shall endeavour to show that that will be the effect of the system. I propose to take, as an illustration, a constituency consisting of 10,000 voters, and returning ten members. Every 1,000 voters would be entitled to return a man under the Hare quota, while the number would be something less than that under the Droop quota. The advocates of this Bill say that because each of these members would have behind him the voice of 1,000 electors, therefore he would be a representative of the people. They object at the same time to the position of a man in a single constituency who obtains 501 votes out of 1,000, and they point out what a monstrous injustice it is that the other 499 should be without any representation. Let us take the first case. A man who received 1,000 out of 10,000 votes would be elected. He might, and would, absolutely misrepresent the other 9,000 voters, and to that extent he would be the representative of a minority. There is nothing more frequent than to find honorable senators pointing out that where three contest a seat the man elected very often does not command a majority of the votes, because, although he obtained more than did either of the others, the aggregate number of votes polled by his opponents was greater than the number of votes polled by himself. But is not that position intensified a thousand fold under the Hare-Nanson system? Under that system, and in a constituency such as I have named, we have a man elected by 1,000 votes, while 9,000 of the electors would regard him as absolutely distasteful to them. In proportion as he represented the section who returned him, he would misrepresent the 9,000 opposed to him. Surely that is worse than the position of the man who wins his seat by a majority of one.
– The other sections have their representatives.
– Yes, each section has its representatives ; but that the men they return are minority representatives is proved by the fact that not one of them could ever win a single-handed seat in the electorate. Therefore, each would represent 1,000, while he misrepresented 9,000. I much prefer a system which may, on certain occasions, leave a minority without representation to one which would leave ‘ not only a majority but an absolute majority without representation: In futherance of that argument I contend that this system does violence to the accepted principle of democratic government, because it enables a minority to exercise the influence of a majority. I have contended that it tends to secure the election of representatives of minorities. Two minorities, having nothingin common, cannot make a majority, any morethan two wrongs can make a right. All the representatives of these minority sections put together have not the right to say that they represent a majority. The effect in Parliament of the representation of these various sections will undoubtedly be to give to these various minority representatives undue weight. I use a well-known term when I say it would mean that the road would be open for the adoption of the balance system, and, as the result of that, we should have very much the same state of affairs as has existed in Continental Europe, of the larger parties being dominated by the smaller ones which, instead of having their fair proportional weight in the legislation of the country, have an undue weight. These fears of mine as to this effect, as I pointed out just now in reply to an interjection by Senator Charleston, are practically admitted. “We have, first of all, the instance of the labour party in New South Wales. They may have revised their programme since, but some time ago they adopted, as one of their planks, the abolition of party government. We have had Senator Charleston admitting that he also looks in that direction. Professor Nanson, the sponsor or author of this proposal, also advocates it, and says that this proposal being adopted will hasten the time when party government will disappear. I do not desire now to discuss the advisability or otherwise of the presence of a third party here, but the effect of the presence of a third party in politics in Australia, not only in the Federal Parliament, but in the various State Parliaments, has been that that third party has been able to exercise an influence much beyond that to which its numbers have entitled it. I can say that, I hope, without giving any offence, and I intend to give none to the members of that party. The multiplication of these small parties will only intensify that evil, if it is an evil, and it is not a democratic principle that a minority should be capable of exercising the influence properly belonging to a majority. This minority has been able to do so because, being a small detached party, it has been able to transfer its allegiance from one side to the other. Without wishing to say anything to which exception can be taken, we all know what its history is, and that it lias made no secret of the methods which it pro- poses to adopt of transferring its allegiance from time to time.
– How euphemistic the honorable and learned senator is !
– I have discovered that it is necessary to be so. I have discovered a supersensitiveness in this Chamber of late.
– We all know that the honorable and learned senator would like to get rid of the third party.
– I do not desire to get rid of the third party ; but I think it will be very much better for politics in Australia when that party obtains the position of a constitutional Opposition, which it has obtained in Queensland. I do not desire to see a third party here, whether it be the labour party or any other party, because I say that with the presence of such a minority our political institutions are endangered, and they cannot exist if we have more than two parties.
– So long as there is a third party outside of Parliament, there must be a third party in Parliament.
– And if there is a fourth party there must be a fourth party inside.
– Yes; but when it came to 40 parties, honorable senators would limit them. Whether it is good or bad to have a multiplication of these parties - and with a multiplication of these parties there is a multiplication of those immoral alliances which can only come from them - I desire those who oppose this Bill to understand where we are going. The advocates of proportional representation know what they mean and where they are travelling, and it is equally incumbent upon us who believe in our political institutions to, so far as lies in our power, resist all attempts to introduce measures which can only have the result of undermining those political institutions. I wish to pass on to the consideration of the question of whether this system is applicable to a House having the special functions and constituted as this Senate is. I suppose it is not necessary or me to do more than say that, at the time the Constitution was being framed, and during the controversies that took place when the Bill was before the various States for consideration, it was laid down as a fundamental principle of federation that every law should, have the assent of a majority of the people and of a majority of the States. The principle was put in very clear words by Mr. Barton, in moving a general resolution at the opening of the Convention in Adelaide. He said -
The two Chambers must be constituted in such’ a way as to have the basic principle of federation conserved in that Chamber which is representative of the rights of the States. That is, that each law of the federation shall have the assent of the States as well as of the federated people.
He further said -
The States Council or Senate will represent, so to speak, one State, one vote. If the principle of equality be adopted, I believe we should form this colony into one constituency, as the very idea of locality in the elections to a body which is to represent the States as separate entities in the States Council is a total abnegation of the motive principle.
You, Mr. President, at that time, put the matter in very terse words. You said -
The House of Representatives represents the people as a nation. The Senate represents the people grouped as States.
I would like to point out that we have recognised the State entity, not only by having adopted a Constitution which requires the assent of the majority of the people, and of a majority of a State, but also in the method proposed for dealing with amendments of the Constitution. If we were not prepared to regard the States as separate and distinct entities indivisible in any way, but as separate parties to the contract, there would be absolutely no justification for giving equal representation in this, or in any other Chamber. If honorable senators deny that a State does speak here as a separate entity, then I ask them to defend the principle of equal representation.
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean that the representatives of a State should vote in one block upon all matters ?
– I will deal with that point directly. I repeat here, in the words of Mr. Barton -
I believe we should form this colony into one constituency, as the very idea of locality in an election to a body which is to represent the States as separate entities in the States’ Council is a total abnegation of the motive principle.
In the same way I say that, unless we do regard each State as a separate entity, we have absolutely struck the ground from under the principle of equal State representation. I desire to know, if the State is to be regarded as a distinct entity, how can each State speak in any other way than with one voice ? How can an entity speak with two, three, four, five or six voices equally contradictory ? Following my argument through, we have admitted equal representation because we have regarded the State as an entity ; and now I ask how can a State entity speak unless it be with one voice, and that the voice of the majority ?
– The majority of the representatives of the State t
– The majority of the electors. The only way in which we can ascertain the views of a State is by appealing to the majority of the electors.
– According to the honorable and learned senator’s view, there should be nobody but free-traders here from New South Wales.
– Well, I would make an exception in the case of the honorable and learned senator.
– There must be an exception in every case.
– Exactly ; and I say that Senator O’Connor is here as a representative of the majority in New South Wales as much as I am. He obtained his votes in the same way.
– Where is the representative of the labour party in New South Wales 1
– I would ask the honorable -senator where the representatives of the labour party will be if we apply this system to a federal election t
– One of them will be here.
– Then the figures will need to be manipulated in some way, because the figures given by Senator O’Connor were 75,000, 60,000, and 30,000. 30 k 2
– A labour candidate would require to get 45,400 votes under this improved system.
– And .he could get them.
– No doubt they could get them ; but they did not get them, and. that is sufficient for me.
– Because they gaveother people votes they did not want.
– They knew sufficiently well how to vote, and they had a ticket issued showing the electors how to vote. The labour organizations in New South Wales issued a ticket asking labour voters to vote “ for two labour men and four wasters.” The proof that that advice and that ticket were adopted is that an enormous number of votes were given to men who were absolutely unknown. I was pointing out that the principle of equal representation was admitted because the State was regarded as an entity, and the only way iri which the State could speak was by being polled as one constituency, and allowing the voice of the majority to prevail. As supporting, that view, I should like briefly to refer to a remark made by Senator Best. When Senator Symon was speaking, he said -
My honorable and learned friend, Senator Best, says that the Senate is supposed to speak with one voice, and then he wishes every man to speak with only one-sixth of a voice.
To that Senator Best replied “ I mean as one electorate.” If Senator Best did mean that a State should speak as one electorate, I wish to know from the honorable and learned senator how it is to speak with two voices 1 There can only be one voice from one electorate. This is the interjection of an honorable and learned senator who has given careful thought ‘to this matter, and he says that the State can only speak as one electorate. What does this proposal do ? It is true that under it the States will be polled as one electorate ; but the effect of the operation of this Bill will be just as much a division of the State of New South Wales into electorates as if the different electorates were laid down upon geographical lines, the only difference being that in the one case there would be geographical lines, and in the other there will be political ideas. It is equally a division of the State into electorates. Senator Charleston asked me whether we would have representatives of the States giving a block vote, in the belief that if ray argument on the subject is correct that is what would happen. On big questions I dare say that it is exactly what senators do in all federations which have existed a sufficiently long time to enable parties to develop, and it is what would follow here.
– Upon questions which merely concern State rights.
– Not merely upon questions concerning State rights. Take the fiscal question in America. Will the honorable senator tell me that senators returned for different States there, except in the case of men who have proved traitors to their party, have not given a solid block vote upon that question ? Let honorable senators read what has happened -in other federations. In America the recognition of State entity is carried even - further than it is here. There the State Legislatures have their own members elected not infrequently upon a promise as to whom (they will vote for as senator. Is there any splitting of votes in that case t In Germany they all vote in one direction, and the -full vote is cast, although there may be only one of the delegation present. We recognise the State entity here, and we are disloyal to the Constitution if we turn round and say that the State is not an entity, but a mere accidental grouping of people.
– We would not have got the Commonwealth Bill accepted without it.
– I am not raising the question in any way. However much I was opposed to the principle of equal State representation at the time, it is embodied in the Constitution, and there is only one way in which it can be amended, and I am not prepared to allow it to be amended merely to suit the exigencies of any political party. I am going loyally to abide by the principle of State entity, and so far as I Ban to resent any entrenchment upon it. In other federations this principle of the State block vote is in active operation, and I venture to predict that as soon as party organization is more complete, as soon as the parties in the States come to under- stand and know one another better, the :same thing will happen here, and whenever » big question is submitted to the constituencies you will find that, without any law directing it, a block vote will be cast. The return of the senators for the two larger States - that is in population - is rather an instance of that kind. Unconsciously what has been the effect ? With the exception of Senator O’Connor, New South Wales has practically sent in a block vote, and on the big question on which we were elected I think honorable members will find a block vote cast. It is the same with the representation of Victoria. So when honorable senators turn round and say that if my theory is correct, there ought to be a block vote, my answer is that on all big questions there will be. It is admitted that the effect of this Bill is to divide the group of electors into a number of natural quotas. If there is no objection to dividing the electors of a State into groups by means of the Hare-Spence system, there can be no objection to dividing it into geographical districts. Yet Senator O’Connor, when introducing his Bill, said that each State for the purpose of the Senate could have been divided, but that it had not been, and that he saw no reason for departing from that principle. He has departed from the principle, although he is doing it by a different method. The effect of this Bill - and it is claimed to be its advantage - is that it permits a natural division of the electors in accord with their political ideas and sympathies. The result will be to divide each State into three or four electorates, as they are called in all the books on the system, according to the number of representatives to be returned. If a proposition were made to divide a State into ordinary geographical districts it would not meet with a decent reception. Yet hore is a proposition to do it all the same, but by another way. For the reasons I have given, I am entirely opposed to anything which in any way weakens the position of the States, or tends to weaken the voice of the States for the purpose of the Senate elections. I have overlooked one matter in dealing with the fact that under this system minorities do obtain undue representation. Senator Best put forward some extremely interesting and rather cleverly-compiled figures when he instanced the case of an election with two parties contesting three seats and each party so overcome with modesty that it was running only two candidates - a most unlikely position. I wish to submit a position which I think is very much more likely. I shall take the case of Victoria, with 140,000 voters, and with six members to be returned. Under the Bill system the quota will be 20,001. If honorable senators will allow me to drop the odd numbers they will see what I mean. There are 60,000 electors on one side, and 80,000 on the other, the latter minus three, and the former plus three. What is the state of the representation when that election is over % Three members would be returned by each party, so that 60,000 electors in Victoria would return the same number of representatives as SO, 000.
– And what would happen under a block vote 1
– Under the block vote the SO, 000 would with proper organization secure the whole of the representation. In that case the 80,000 override the 60,000. I. see nothing very wrong in that, nothing half so wrong as the fact that 60,000 can nullify the vote given by 80,000. Supposing that position to exist in all the States, what is the effect 1 Whilst a third of the electors of the whole Commonwealth are demanding a measure their votes can be absolutely frustrated by a number of electors who are in the proportion of 60 to 80. Senator Best said he was prepared to give his vote against the Bill if we could show him that a minority could in any way rule. I ask him either to refute my figures or to do as I feel certain he will - come over to this side when the division is taken. In the case I mentioned there is a difference of 334 per cent, in the electors. In other words, throughout the States the minority, standing in relation to the majority as 60 to 80, could absolutely negative all legislation which the vast majority of the people wanted. Yet we are told that this is a system which is to give proportional representation. I now come to some of the mathematical problems, and I must discriminate between the proposal in the Bill and the system in its integrity. The criticism I have to direct against the Bill does not apply to the system when adopted thoroughly’, but there have been one or two alterations made, and one of those has been adopted, no doubt because it will save a lot of work ; it will remove some of the complications, but will, nevertheless, destroy the claim of this proposal to be regarded as mathematically accurate, and as having eliminated from it the element of chance. If a candidate polls a bare quota, there is an end to his voting papers.
– Pardon me, the VicePresident of the Executive Council said that it did not necessarily end there.
– My honorable friend must have misunderstood Senator O’Connor, because I do not think any one will dispute this fact - indeed, it is one of the few portions of the Bill which are absolutely clear, and therefore I have not overlooked it.
– There is an exception, although the Postmaster-General has to-day told us there is not to the provision that the whole of those votes should be put aside.
– I repeat that if a candidate polls the exact quota, he becomes elected, and his votes from that out are-
– They may be used in a. supplementary process.
– I am not speaking of that, but contrasting that with what happenswhen a surplus exists. I leave out the supplementary process and all the other conditions of the thing. Where a candidatepolls the exact quota - unless the supplementary process is resorted to - there is an 0 end to those votes. If that candidate, instead of having the bare quota, has something additional there is a further effect: given to the first votes which elected him - those which constitute his quota. Let us take 1,000 as the quota. One thousand votes . cast for A would give him the bare quota. Every one of the second preferences on his . papers will be for C or D. If the measure of A’s popularity is only enough to give him the quota there is no effect given to the second preferences on his papers. But if A happens to get 100 more - 1,100 votes - although every one of that second hundred’ does not give C or D the second preference, what is the effect? The first 1,000’ men who elected A, and not the last 1,000 who voted for him, are the men who maydetermine the election of one man or the rejection of another.
– It is the order in which, they are counted, not the order in which’ they vote.
– It is not the order’ in which they are counted. I shall put some figures before honorable senators, and1 let them, if they can, show me where I am wrong. I shall take four candidates, of whom A and B are running in the interests of one party, and C and D in the interests of another. A polls his quota of 1,000 votes, and B is marked second on all those papers. B has 930 votes, or 70 less than the quota. C has 570 votes, and D has 500 votes, a total of 3,000 votes. On D’s 500 votes C is marked second. A having got the quota only, and there being no surplus to distribute,, you would strike out D, the lowest on the list. The result in that case would be the election of C as against B. But if A had 1,100 votes cast for him, the first 1,.0O0- would give B the preference-; the last 100 would give C the preference. But because there are not 1,100 votes, they take the whole parcel, and the effect of doing so would be that B out of that parcel would get 90 and C would get 9, that being their- proportion of the surplus. The result would be that B would be elected;, whereas if A had only received his bare quota under that system C would have been elected. It will be seen that in. that case it is the measure of A’s popularity which determines whether B or- C gets elected. It was not the votes cast primarily or the second votes given, but the effect of A’s ;popularity, which gave the surplus which determimed the election or rejection of B.
– It is because- of the division’ of the balance. If there had not been two quotas, two could not have been returned.
– They can- still have those votes.
– Not unless they have the quotas.
– But so far as A is concerned, it may be- a question of the man’s individual popularity which determines whether another man is elected.
– He must have attracted some first votes from C and ©..
– But I want to- point -out that the electors did not require B and D before somebody else-. They required A and C as their first men before somebody else. What is the result ? That the election absolutely turns, not upon A and C, the men the electors want before any one else, “hut upon B and D-.
– Still, the electors’ wishes were considered in all that.
– I do not see how they were considered, if my figures are correct. If the honorable senator can show that they are wrong,, well and good. Now I want to pass on to the method of distributing the surplus. Senator 0’Conn(or was particularly clear, when dealing with the matter, when he pointed out that if the quota was LOGO,, and a candidate had 1,500 votes, it would be unfair to take any particular batch of votes as representing the surplus ; and he said that the principle adopted was to take the whole 1,500 votes and distribute the surplus by a simple rule-of-three. That principle wild appeal to honorable senators as being sound and fair ; but why did not the Government carry it out in regard to the second surplus 1 If it is sound and fair in regard to the first surplus, why not as to the second ? The effect of the Bill in this respect is serious, and brings in* the very element of chance which the Government profess to eliminate. I invite the attention of honorable senators; to paragraph 7a on page 3 of the marvellous schedule which has been circulated in connexion with the Bill. They will’ see that it is there provided1 that -
Where a candidate is raised up to or above the quota by the- receipt of a sub-parcel, he shall thereupon be declared’ elected, and- no further sub-parcel shall be transferred to him. Where a candidate is raised above the quota by the receipt of a sub-parcel, all’ the ballot- pipers in such subparcel shall be transferred, and no others.
That is exactly the principle which Senator O’Connor said would’ be monstrously unfair. Take the case of an election in which 1,000 is the quota. Say a candidate has 800 primary votes, and his surplus would come to 199. That would be 999 votes - still one short of his quota. The whole of those votes will give a- second preference to C. But not having, the quota it is necessary to distribute a further surplus in favour of the imaginary candidate. The next batch of papers would give him 190 votes, making his total 1S9 more than he wants. I ask honorable senators to remember that the first 199 votes he had gave second preferences, to one’ man. Then the last batch, which gave him a majority of 189 votes, would give a preference to some one else. But it is only the last parcel that is distributed. There you have the three parcels in the same position as Senator O’Connor spoke of. You have the man’s 800 votes, a surplus of 199 votes with their second preferences for B’, and also 190 votes with their second preferences for C. But you do not take the vote value of the second parcel at all. You only take the last parcel of 190 votes going to C, while you have 999 votes with second preferences to other candidates, from which they get no benefit whatever.
– That is not correct.
– It is perfectly true.
– It is perfectly true. I am afraid that the Postmaster-General does not understand the Government Bill yet. Let me read this paragraph from the schedule again -
Where a candidate is raised up to or. above the quota by the receipt of a sub-parcel, he shall thereupon be declared elected,, and no further sub-parcel shall be transferred to him.
I am absolutely with the Vice-President of the Executive Council when he says that it would be an iniquity to make an arbitrary selection of any papers in the parcels. But the Government themselves have adopted that principle. Why do they not carry out the same plan of distribution where the second distribution is necessary as well as where the first is necessary 1
– The honorable and learned senator has not read paragraphs B and C.
– They do not affect the point. What does the paragraph I have quoted mean, when it says -
Such sub-parcel shall be transferred and no others.
– Bead paragraph B in connexion with that.
– If I do I shall have to point out that the paragraphs so confuse the term “ sub-parcel “ - which comes with alarming frequency - that I defy any one to say what it means. But while there may be reason to doubt the meaning of paragraphs B and C there can be no doubt about the meaning of the words - “Such sub-parcel shall be transferred and no others.” I take it that with the exception of the Postmaster-General honorable senators have generally gripped my meaning, and it would be rather unfair for the benefit of the Postmaster-General alone that I should belabour this point any longer.
– I think that the honorable senator has overlooked paragraphs B and C.
– There is no modification of the words - “ Such sub-parcel shall be transferred and no others.” If the Postmaster-General knew more of the principle of proportional representation he would be aware that the principle of which I complain is advocated by publicists dealing favorably with this matter. They say - “ We know it is not right, but for the convenience of working we are going to do it.” But every word which the VicePresident of the Executive Council urged in condemnation of any other principle than that adopted with regard to the distribution of first surpluses, applies with equal force against the method adopted here for the distribution of the second surplus.
– That is true.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who ought to know his Bill, and I believe does know it, whether or not the second surplus is distributed in the same way as the first surplus is distributed ?
– I will answer the honorable and learned senator when .1 speak in reply.
– The system of distributing the surplus votes adopted with regard to the first distribution is one method ; that method being that the distribution takes place with regard to all the votes in the parcel. But when it comes to the distribution of the second surplus, the Government have adopted another system of distribution, under which the votes in that parcel constitute a surplus. There need be no doubt as to what the Bill means, or as to what Professor Nanson says on the point. He advocates what I am contending for - that the same principle with regard to the first distribution should also apply with regard to the second distribution. But that principle has been discarded, because the Government recognise that the system is so cumbrous that if they carried it out logically and properly, so as to secure the mathematical accuracy which they claim for it, long before they ascertained the results of one election the time would have arrived for another one. This method of distributing the second surplus is just as unfair and as inequitable as is the process of elimination. When Senator Best was speaking in favour of the principle of striking out the last man, I interjected that not only did Hare denounce the principle, but that Professor Nanson had also done so. Senator Best questioned my statement, but if he turns to page 154 of that very useful work from which we have all drawn largely, he will find the exact quotation given from Professor Nanson with regard to this principle of elimination. He said -
The process of elimination is not satisfactory. I do not know a scientific solution of the difficulty.
Therefore it is idle for those who advocate this Bill to claim for it a degree of excellence which its mathematical sponsors shrink from affirming. In view of the statement which has been made here, and not contradicted, that in spite of its alluring invitations to electors to mark their graduated preferences, they may decline to do it, I ask, if such is the case, and the Bill is narrowed down to the principle of plumping, what is the use of adopting this elaborate machinery if the electors will not use it when it is set up?
– “What does the honorable senator mean when he says that it has been admitted that they will not use it ?
– They have not used it in Tasmania.
– In Tasmania voting for three was compulsory.
– The net result was that single plumping would have produced the same position of affairs.
– The honorable and learned senator shrinks from compelling the elector to vote for three, therefore the elector will be left open to plump, and it has been shown by the Tasmanian experiment that he will plump. If in spite of the assurance the elector has received, that this is the system for him, he will not have it, what is the use of proposing this complicated machinery upon which even the Government cannot agree? As a practical objection to the adoption of this scheme, might I point out that it took some weeks to ascertain the results of the election for the Senate in New South “Wales under the old system. Weeks elapsed before the actual position of the candidates on the poll was known, and if that was the case, how long would it take in South Australia, Queensland,- Western Australia, and New South Wales, to get all the ballot papers brought to a common centre, and redrafted and sorted in the way in which it is necessary under this Bill. If this measure were adopted - not that I have any fear of the kind - one experiment would be quite sufficient to satisfy the electors; if they did have a taste of it, we should hear no more of the Hare or of any kindred system of voting. I would point out now rather a striking confusion of ideas which seemed to run through the speech of the VicePresident of the Executive Council in dealing with the two systems proposed for the Houses of the Federal Parliament. In speaking of the House of Representatives, at one stage he became distinctly eloquent in his advocacy of the principle of majority representation, and so logical, that I think his arguments must pass unchallenged.
Almost on the same page of Hansard, in which that part of his speech is reported, we find another passage in which he denounced the block -system of voting, because it aims at majority representation. It is instructive to find this anomaly. Whilst, on the one hand, the leader of the Government here advocates majority representation in the House of Representatives, he becomes an opponent of it as applied to this House. I have been seeking to show that the system proposed is not suitable to the Senate.
– It has no particular value as’ applied to three seats.
– As one of the oldest and warmest advocates of the system admits, it has no particular value when applied to three seats. That is the only view I can take of it. Miss Spence, who is a warm advocate of what she calls “ effective voting,” felt that the system would be so ineffective as applied to the Senate that she addressed a letter to one of the members of the Convention, in which she said that the Hare system, as applied to the return of three members for a State, would be just as ineffective as would the block system. I would ask Senator Pearce how, according to the figures given by Senator O’Connor relative to the Senate elections in New South Wales, any representation would be given to his party there ? I do not affirm Senator O’Connor’s figures, but they are sufficiently close to enable us to consider them. Under this system what would happen ? The particular party to’ which Senator Pearce belongs, if you admit proportional representation at all, is fairly entitled to a voice in the Legislature, but where would it come in ? As applied to an election of three representatives of a State the system would do no good. It could not secure the objects which its advocates have iri view, and, therefore, even if it were adopted under these circumstances it could do very little harm.
– The last elections in New South Wales for the State Parliament showed whether or not we should have a quota under this new system.
– I do not wish to discount the efficiency which members of the honorable senator’s party have shown in looking after local interests. But the honorable senator cannot get away from the figures for the federal elections in New South Wales. Passing from the fact that the system, as I view it, is inapplicable to the Senate, T would point out the inconsistency of the Government in seeking to apply it to a House to which it is not suited, while failing to apply it to the House of Representatives, which, if the system is once admitted, lends itself to it. If it is admitted that it is desirable to divide the State into electorates for the House of Representatives as the result of a great deal of time and trouble and cost, I would point out that under this system the electorates would shape themselves automatically. Not only would the electorates shape themselves, but they would be absolutely natural electorates. Community of political ideas would be secured without any other modifying influences. With regard to the subdivision of the States into electorates, do honorable senators recognise that there will have to be a fresh delimitation with every fresh census? That would not be necessary if the system were applied to the House of Representatives ; instead of having to divide the States into electorates in accordance with the number of members to which it was entitled under every fresh census, all that would be necessary would be to declare the number of members to which each State was entitled, and the electorates would form themselves into shape. Another reason is that, if it is desired to have a parliamentary photograph of the political thought of the country, the attempt should be made in the House where the number of the members is numerically larger.
– The honorable senator objects to sections being represented in the picture 1
– I am not advocating the application of the system to the other House. I am opposed to it all through, but if the advocates of it believe it is desirable, they should show their faith in it by applying it to the House to which it would be more suitable. Under the proposal, in regard to the House of Representatives, it would be possible for a minority of the electors - and here I would invite Senator Best’s attention - to secure a majority of representatives. Take New South Wales, with 26 electorates. It would be possible for fourteen of those electorates to return the candidates of one political party with small majorities, while in the other twelve electorates the majorities the other way about might be very much greater ; so that you could have a majority of candidates returned by a minority of voters. Under this system if applied to the other House that result could not follow ; yet while seeking to bring about a system which would tend, so they say, to give undue representation to the minority, they pass over the opportunity for ‘giving fair effect to the views in which they believe in the other House. I should like to make one short quotation from a speech made by Senator Best when introducing a Bill in the Victorian Parliament to carry out this or a similar scheme.
– It was substantially this scheme.
– In moving the second reading of that Bill, on the 2Sth August, 1900, Senator Best said -
Now, I ask honorable members to note the results that must follow the operation of the scheme provided for in this Bill. The first result is that all the voters are divided up into natural, unanimous, and equal electorates.
Is not that the best commendation one could have for applying this proposal to the election of members of the House of Representatives? Senator Best continued -
Now, in the Federal Electorates Bill we have been engaged in struggling to divide the country into 23 artificial electorates, and it will be remembered that community of interest was the leading principle which guided us in the fixing of those electorates ; but we have discovered, as experience in this colony from time to time has enabled us to discover, that, by reason of geographical and other physical difficulties, our efforts are extremely faulty and imperfect in that regard, and have resulted in many respects in utter failure. I need only refer to one case which I have reason to feel sore about, namely, Northern Melbourne, where poor Fitzroy has suffered in the manner I have previously referred to.
I am pleased to see Senator Best present, and I take this opportunity of thanking him for the fund of information which I have obtained from his informing speech, from which I have quoted, and which has enabled me to strengthen my opposition to the Bill now before us. Every argument which the honorable and learned senator used in that speech could be used in support of the application of this system to the House of Representatives. It would give natural electorates, without any of the expense attendant upon the subdivision of the States, and the constantly recurring expense of doing so with every fresh census. Another reason why it could have been applied with good effect to the House of Representatives - if the principle is admitted - is this : We all believe in the*. principle of one-adult-one-vote and onevoteonevalue. That could be obtained absolutely by the application of the system of proportional voting for members of the House of Representatives. Under the system of proportional representation as applied to an electorate such as a State returning many members it must pass without question that every vote there would have, with the exception of the disfranchisement difficulty, equal weight. But, under the system proposed to be applied to the House of Representatives, the electorates could be so unequal that one of them might be 67 per cent, larger than another. That is an evil, if we contend that one vote should have equal weight with another ; but it is an evil which the Bill seeks to perpetuate. That evil could have been avoided by the application of proportional representation to the House of Representatives. When, with alii these inducements for its application to that House, the Government have failed to apply it, it only shows that they have no faith in the political nostrums which they ask u3 to adopt. Now, a word as to the contingent vote. It is contended that it secures the dominance of the majority, and the return of the representative of the majority.
– On paper.
– Quite right. Senator Dawson speaks with some experience of the system, and he says “ On paper.” In reply to Senator Harney I take a ease which is likely to occur. The honorable and learned senator took the case of a protectionist, a free-trader, and a revenue tariffist seeking election. Under this system what would happen would be this : - I take the instance of 60 votes polled ; we could make the number 600 or 6,000 ; but I use the smaller figure for the sake of simplicity. I assume that the protectionist polls 21, the freetrader 20, and the revenue tariffist 19. The first main to be struck out would be the revenue tariffist, being at the bottom with nineteen votes, but I venture to say that he would beat either of the other two if he went to the poll with him single-handed. We know the free-trader would give his second vote to the revenue tariffist rather than to the protectionist ; we know that the protectionist would sooner give his second vote to the revenue tariffist than to the free-trader ; and, taking the second votes into account, it is clear that the revenue tariffist gets the majority of general support in the constituency, and could beat either of the other two, if opposed to him in a single-handed contest. Under this system, the man who is first struck out is the one man who has the largest measure of general support.
– It would be the same under the present system, but this minimizes the evil.
– I desire to show the honorable and learned senator that it intensifies it. I take it from his interjection that he will admit that, under the circumstances I have stated, the man who would get the largest measure of support in a single-handed contest is struck out. He says that that would occur under the existing system.
– But with the figures the honorable and learned senator has given the protectionist with 21 votes would be elected.
– No, because he has not an absolute majority of the votes - that is 30.
– The honorable and learned senator is dealing with the contingent vote.
– I am dealing with the process of elimination. Senator Best says that this would occur under the existing system, but I point out to the honorable and learned senator that there is always this restraining influence under the present system : Voters know what may happen if they split their votes, and although occasionally a seat may be lost, the number lost on that account is numerically 60 small that the fate of a party, or a party measure, has never been determined by a seat lost or won in- that way. A particular constituency may have failed occasionally to secure a correct expression of its opinion, but this has never had a serious effect either upon the country or upon the course of legislation. Iri the case of an election contested by three candidates, I have shown that a majority of the votes may be polled by the candidate who is first struck out.
– Suppose the honorable and learned senator were to take an instance of five candidates instead of three.
– I might take an instance of nine candidates, and let us see what would occur.
– Then I will ask the honorable and learned senator if the lowest candidate suffers an injustice, will not greater justice be done to all the intermediate candidates between the highest and the lowest under the scheme proposed in the Bill?
– If the honorable and learned senator will allow me, I was pointing out that under the existing systemthe injustice he fears, theoretically may exist, but it does not exist in practice.
– Has the honorable and learned senator the electors or the candidates in mind 1
– I am thinking of the electors and not of the candidates. The more opportunities of this kind are afforded to different sections of the community to run a candidate, the more splitting of yotes will take place when each body of electors think they have an opportunity of readjusting or correcting any mistakes upon the second votes. But under the system in force to-day, if there are four or five candidates running for one constituency, every elector knows the ‘ risk he runs of losing a representative of the ideas to. which he desires to give effect if he allows his vote and those of electors agreeing with him t© be split up. The result is that party organization and the common sense of the electors come in,, and there is no splitting of votes and no: return of the representative of a minority. Speaking of the experience in New South Wales, I repeat the affirmation that the position of a Ministry or the fate of a measure has never in any way been affected by a seat lost or won under the existing system by a splitting of votes. We have had several seats contested by a number of candidates, and one remarkable instance of the free-trade constituency of Marrackville being fought by eleven candidates. In that case, the party organization explained that to give each of the eight or nine candidates running on the free-trade ticket a share of the votes would be to put in a protectionist. Having examined the claims of the candidates, they put the party stamp on one. The party vote has always followed,, because the common sense of the electors tells them that unless they do that; they practically disfranchise themselves, and allow the representative- of a minority to’ get in. Under this system there is no safeguard of that kind, and. no eheck upon electors. On the other hand there is an invitation to as many men as choose to come forward, with the result I have given in the case to which I have referred, that the revenue tariffist, who could win in a singlehanded contest, has not a possible chance of winning under this system.
– Bat his seeond vote will retain a free-trader.
– That is sq, but I say that the majority of the electors in that constituency would prefer the revenue tariffist.
– The honorable senator is supporting party government.
– I have said that my chief objection to this proposal is that it aims at the abolition of party government. There are certain details of the Bill which show that the authors of it have not thoroughly digested the new principles they are proposing for our adoption. I mention one with regard to fines, but there are others which could be mentioned. I point out in passing that the proposal for a fine in connexion with this system is illogical. It is an invitation to as many men as choose to come forward. It is admitted, on behalf of the advocates of the1 system, that, one of, its advantages is that as many men as choose can come forward as candidates. Under this Bill we invite as many candidates as choose to- come forward,, and then we say to them - “ If you do come forward and do not happen tc> be successful, we propose to fine you.” I entirely agree with the principle of a fine, as applied to the ordinary system with which we are familiar, but it is entirely out of place as applied to this system, and it is introduced in a way which makes it absolutely iniquitous and- ridiculous. The proposal is, that if an unsuccessful candidate does not secure one-fourth of the votes of the lowest successful candidate he is fined, and under the Bill it will be possible for a man to be fined who may be only three or four votes below the success ful candidate, because the 2:5 per cent, is calculated, not upon the total votes polled, hut upon the primary votes only. I put this position to the- Vice-President of the Executive Council. A has 950 votes and B 2.10. These are primary votes which are to determine whether they should be fined or not.. The other candidates, C, D, and F secure a. smaller number of votes down to 100’. On these figures, although the whole of the other candidates by a process of elimination would record their1 preference for B, and bring him up to 920 or 930 votes, or only 20 or 30 below A, he would be fined, because in primary votes he would not get 25 per cent, of the votes polled for A. This difficulty arises because the authors of the Bill have not thoroughly digested the provision. They have found it applicable to another system, and they have applied it to an entirely different system. Now, as to my action with regard to this Bill, honorable members will have seen that I am entirely opposed to the principle of proportional representation, and for that reasonIshallvotefortheamendmentproposed by Senator Symon. At the same time, if the the portion of the Bill providing for proportional representation were struck out, I should have no objection to going on with the balance of the Bill. My chief objection to the Bill is to the principle of proportional representation, and I shall vote for Senator Symon’s amendment, not because I should hesitate to go on with the consideration of an Electoral Bill which did not provide for proportional representation, but with a view to enabling some delay to occur so that, if we are to have this Hare system, the electors may at least have some opportunity of knowing what we are doing. I say that the electors have had no opportunity to understand this Bill, and so far as Australia is concerned, there has been no demand for it. Where is the evidence of any demand for it ? Did the Vice-President of the Executive Council ever advocate the principle in New South Wales? Was he ever heard to say a word about it there? It has never been in demand in New South Wales, and neither the Prime Minister nor the Vice-President of the Executive Council have ever opened their lips upon a public platform in support of it, or given the slightest idea to the electors that they were in favour of this proposal, or would, if placed in a position to do so, seek to give legislative effect to it.
– The Prime Minister favorably referred to it at the Convention.
– I beg to differ from the honorable and learned senator. The debate to which I have referred seems to me to indicate a clear recognition by Mr. Barton that it wasnot desirable to place any unnecessary obstacle in the way of carrying out the political wishes of the electors ; but I see nothing in that debate to show that he pledged himself to this principle. Even if he did, it in no way answers my contention that neither Mr. Barton nor any other public man in New South Wales’, has ever publicly advocated the principle. There is no demand for it except on the part of the few who have taken the matter up as their political object. The experiment in Tasmania has been referred to, and an attempt has been made to explain why the system has been abandoned there. I think Senator O’Keefe said that it was because the members themselves were frightened of their chances of re-election that they destroyed the Act. But, whatever were the causes leading to its abandonment, will it be denied that the electors of Tasmania have acquiesced in it ? If Senator O’Keefe is correct when he says that the Hare system was abandoned in Tasmania by Members of Parliament because of selfish reasons, how is it that the electors of Tasmania have not shown that it was done without their consent ? There has been no voice of protest from them. If it had been done against their wish, it would have been an act of political treachery.
– Wait until they exercise their voice.
– So far as a man in one State can gauge the expression of public opinion in another, in Tasmania there has been no voice which is entitled to be designated as a public protest ; no evidence of any indignation on the part of the electors whose representatives have proved false to them. On the other hand, there has been a silent acquiescence in the act of destruction to which I have referred.
– They have not had an opportunity yet.
– If it were whispered here that you were going to do something to destroy the principle of one person one vote, you would soon know how public opinion felt in Australia. Similarly in Tasmania ; if there had been any strong feeling on this point it would have been expressed.
– The honorable senator knows the apathy of the public there.
– I have never discovered that the public is apathetic when its mind is made up. I have looked in vain for any evidence that this system has been called for by theelectors of the States. It should be a cardinal principle with all who are charged with the responsibility of legislation, that there should be no attempt to force on the country a system which it does not require, and as to which it has not disclosed its opinion. It is for the advocates of this Bill to show what measure of public opinion is behind it. I invite any honorable .senator to say that there was any general expression of opinion on this matter at the federal elections in any State.
– Yes, in our State.
– Not a general expression, but a sectional expression of opinion, which was beaten dead at the poll.
– In New South “Wales it has never been considered to be within the region of practical politics, and I think that is the position in most of the States.
– The result of the senatorial elections settled it.
– If there were an election to-morrow on the same point the same result would come about. I have not heard a word since that time to show that the people are dissatisfied with the single electorate system. I have heard a great deal to show that they view this measure with some degree of apprehension and alarm.
– They have not studied it.
– No wonder, and they are not likely to study it. Let me summarize my objections to the Bill. I oppose proportional representation because, if adopted and carried out in its entirety, it must tend to kill responsible government. My second objection is that so far as the distribution of the second surplus is concerned, it is not sound, and not fair, and it does violence to the principles which are adopted for the distribution of the first surplus. My third objection is that the Bill has never been asked for, and has never been approved by the people. But my main objection is the one I gave first. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that responsible government is the best which has yet been devised. Political purity has maintained a higher and a brighter aspect under that system than under any other system of which history gives us any information. I admit that there are defects in the system, as there will be in all systems, but until honorable senators can show me that, under the proposed system, they will have an aggregate of advantage over the present one, I am not prepared to support it. Even if it did cure some of the defects which undoubtedly ‘ exist in the present system, I still venture to say that the price we should pay for the entirely problematical advantage of proportional representation would be altogether inadequate to the enormous loss which would be occasioned if we sacrificed that which I regard as the keystone of our political system - responsible government.
– I do not intend to speak at any length, but, as this is a very important measure, it is well that every honorable senator should indicate his views. There is no question that a Bill of this nature is extremely important. The whole trend of our legislation might very well be traced to the character of our electoral laws. We ought to try to bring our electoral laws as much as possible into conformity with our Constitution. It would- be a great stretch of imagination for any one to say that the electoral laws, which may or may not suit State Governments, are in a satisfactory condition. The single electorate system, with one man one vote, suits New South Wales very well, and as a State law, perhaps, is equally as good as the law of any other State in the union. But it is not equally suitable for federal purposes. I have only to point to the result of the senatorial elections in New South Wales as a proof of my assertion. In ho State was there so much dissatisfaction ‘ with the result of the senatorial elections as in New South Wales. The minority of the electors of that great State get nearly the whole of the representation. At the State elections, which immediately followed the federal elections, the free-trade party proved themselves to be in a minority to the other two great parties, producing a condition of affairs that very few anticipated, and only aggravating the feeling that the senatorial elections were a blunder, owing to the state of the electoral laws. Senator Millen has said that, taking Senator O’Connor’s figures as a basis, the labour party in New South Wales would not have secured a representative in the Senate. I do not altogether agree with him in that view. Senator O’Connor estimated that 75,000 votes were cast for free-trade, 60,000 votes for protection, and 30,000 votes for labour. I do not suppose that he is prepared to stand by those figures, because it is difficult to ascertain how each elector cast his vote when he had to deal with 50 candidates on one ticket, and especially when so many votes were wasted. Senator Millen has said th’at the labour voters were advised to vote for Wo labour candidates, and to give four wasters. To the existence of so many wasters, and such a large ticket, is due the fact that it is impossible to say what fiscal policy the electors Voted for.
– Those figures were only an estimate, and they could not be anything more than that.
– Whilst over 200,000 electors went to the poll, not more than 30,000 voted for the labour candidates.
– I can only attribute that state of affairs to the fact that the free-traders in all the parties made a particular point of raising the fiscal question.
– Not the labour party.
– No; in New South Wales the labour party always tries to sink that issue. At the State elections, which immediately followed the federal elections, the electors returned 39 freetraders, 36 protectionists, and 26 labour candidates. Speaking from that basis, I think that the labour party, with a proper voting system, would have - a -very good show of getting two representatives returned. Taking the figures given by Senator O’Connor, there can be no doubt that they would have returned one of the six senators, and the protectionists two, and it would have been as much as the free-traders could do to return three representatives. I think that is a much fairer allotment of what the representation would be under a system of voting such as is outlined in this Bill. But let the position of New South Wales be what it may, it is admitted that there must be an electoral law on a uniform basis. We cannot have our elections conducted in the slipshod way in which the last ones were. It produces results which it is very hard to explain away. I do not agree with a great deal of the criticism to which the Bill has been subjected. It has been said that in the Senate the States ought to speak with one voice. I hold that it is utterly impossible for any State, unless its people are altogether of one way of thinking on fiscalism, and -a host of other things, to speak with one voice in the Senate or in the other Chamber. So long as there are various lines of political economy there will always be as many representatives in Parliament, provided that they can obtain the quota. And as it is with the other House so it is with the Senate. I think I am fairly stating the case when I say that in the Senate the free-trade element is somewhat stronger than the protectionist. If that is so, I should like to know how it is possible that the voice of the electors can favour free-trade in the Senate and at the same time have a good substantial majority in favour of protection in the other House. I can only attribute that result to the fact that the electoral systems which may be suitable for State purposes are not suitable for federal purposes. I must admit that I have had much difficulty in grasping the full intent of the proposed electoral system for the Senate. I have not yet thoroughly satisfied myself that the best possible system has been adopted, although I must say that in a general way I am in favour of the Hare system. I think it could be improved upon by allowing three or six primary votes as the case may be, and letting the preferential votes go into operation after that.
– That is a great improvement.
– I do not pose as a Nanson or Hare, or as one who has a new scheme to fling at the Chamber. Instead of diminishing the voting power of the electors, we ought at least to try to maintain its present value. Every elector should have a vote for every vacancy that has to be filled. If this could be done on somewhat the same lines as the cumulative vote, which was in use for a long time in the old country, it would be a more satisfactory system of voting than the present proposal. Of course, we may have a better demonstration than has yet been given of the easy working of the system, which has been referred to as the HareNansonDroopO’Connor system. I do not see why we should indulge in any cheap sarcasm about the system because it has got so many names.
– Except that they are all inconsistent with each other.
– I do not think so. We can more accurately speak of each system as being an improvement on the other. That this should be so is not a matter for bewilderment, but is just what we might expect in electoral reform, as in any kind of reform.
– The schemes are all based on the one principle.
Senator DE LARGIE.^ They are all based on the Hare system, and each one is an attempt to improve the others. The present age has not devised all possible improvements in regard to law-making. We must attribute some good to past ages. To use a pregnant phrase, we may regard ourselves as being “ the heirs of all the ages and in electoral reform, as in every other science, we must learn from the investigators of bygone times. The fact that the Government have been willing to recognise this* to act upon it, and to take what is good from the works of previous electoral reformers, is very wise on their part. They need not be ashamed of it. If the Government had brought in this Bill and presented it to us as a brand new discovery of their own, I think that some honorable senators sitting in opposition would have been inclined to hurl all kinds of hard names at them for claiming credit which they were not entitled to. For the Government to have claimed that they were the authors of this system would have been very wrong indeed. As regards the system applied to the House of Representatives, I think, it is about as good as we could possibly expect. The preferential vote for the House of Representatives is of such a kind that I think we can all agree with regard to it. I am aware that it means that a very significant minority may be put out of representation in single electorates where there are various candidates running, but the system of voting proposed in the Bill will mean that no candidate can win a seat unless he obtains an absolute majority of votes in an electorate. That is a proposal that the majority of honorable senators will agree to without any demur. As regards some of the criticisms that have been piled on the heads of those who have introduced the measure, a word or two may be said. It has been asserted that because this system is not to be met with in England it necessarily cannot be very good. I altogether disagree with that view. If there is one matter in which England is behind the times it is in regard to its electoral system. I know of no country making any pretence to be progressive that has so conservative an electoral system as England has. The two old political parties have had the running of the political machine for so long that it would seem to be impossible for any party holding different ‘ ideas to theirs to obtain any adequate representation in the politics of the country. The two parties have had a monopoly of power in England for so long, that no other party has had a chance. Surely that is not a good example for us to follow.
– If the honorable senator says that he will be regarded as disloyal !
– If it is disloyal for one to speak in condemnation of a system in one’s own country when one believes it to be bad, then I am.
– The electoral laws of England are better than those of the United States.
– If the two countries are to be compared in regard to electoral and industrial laws, then. I am with the United Kingdom all the time. There is no doubt in my mind that the industrial laws of America are a disgrace to that country, and are far more defective than are those of the United Kingdom. In an old country like England perhaps we can hardly expect democratic ideas to be so prevalent as in a new country, but we do expect better things from America. The proposed system of voting for the Senate ought to be amended in the way I have indicated, and if that were done the Bill would be improved. I intend, however, to vote for the second reading of the measure and assist it to get into committee ; and then, if it can be improved in the way I have suggested, all the better.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I find some difficulty in addressing myself to the motion for the second reading of this Bill at the present stage, because of the very able speeches which have been delivered in regard to it. There is surely very little left to be said upon the merits or demerits of the Bill as a whole, or the various parts of it. But after all that has been advanced, I must say, as a convinced follower of the Hare system of voting, that this Bill cannot be regarded as adequate by those who think as I do, though we should be compelled to accept it if the third reading of it were passed as it stands now. I believe in the Hare system, because it gives a fair chance for an idea that has come into the minds of a large section of the people to be represented in the Legislature of the country. Those who hold that idea are sufficiently numerous to be able, by their primary votes, to obtain a representative. We have been told during the discussion that the supporters of the Hare system “ used to say that they supported it because they believed in minority representation, and that we have now changed our ground, and say that we support it because it will give majority rule. If we .have used the expression, “ majority rule “ lately, more frequently than we formerly did, we are only expressing what we meant in the first place. We have not said that we would give minorities the power of ruling, but that we would give them an opportunity of being heard in the legislative halls. The people were inclined to construe what we said about the representation of minorities as though we meant minority government, which we never contended for. To prevent people falling into that error we were obliged to say that the Hare system gave majority rule in every case. We are now asked to give an expression of opinion as to what is_ beneficial for this new nation, and we must remember that as a Federal Parliament we have to deal only with national questions, and not with the merely local aspect of things. It is because we are anxious to give effect to that principle that we contend that, instead of the various States being divided into single electorates, it would be better to divide them into three or four electorates. By that means we should get an expression of the opinions of the people on national subjects, which would enable us to voice those opinions in the Legislature in a way that would be effective in every particular. In the Senate each State is represented by six members. Onehalf of that number must retire every three years. Therefore, the application of the Hare system to the Senate would not be nearly as effective as its application would be to the House of Representatives, as has clearly been shown by Senator Millen. Under our present system, a minority have a chance of being directly represented in the Senate. As three senators have to be elected at once, there is a chance for minorities. In fact, minorities under our present system often have the control of legislation because of the splitting of votes, in many instances a greater number of votes having been given for those candidates who have been rejected than for those who have been elected. The Hare system removes -the element of chance which we find under the present conditions ; but in limiting it to three, its full virtues and effect are not displayed as much as they would be if there were five or six members. In preparing the notes and illustrations on the Hare-Nanson, or the Hare-Droop system, they have taken five members to be elected for the Senate. It would have been very much better if they had taken three to illustrate the system, because that will be the ordinary number to be elected for the Senate. I am not going to quarrel on the point as to whether the Hare or the Droop quota is the best. The principle is the same, and if the Bill should get into committee, I shall do all that I possibly can to secure for the electors of Australia the Hare-Droop system. I shall also do all I can to destroy that part of the Bill which is destructive of the Hare system. I allude to the proposal for single electorates for the House of Representatives. I cannot understand why the Government should introduce these two systems which are diametrically opposed to each other in the one Bill. All the arguments that were advanced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in favour of the Hare system of voting for the Senate would apply with equal force to its application to the House of Representatives. I see no reason why the framers of this Bill, when they were convinced - if they were convinced - that the Hare system was good in its application to every election throughout the Commonwealth, should have yielded to a desire in some quarters to have this twofold system in the one Bill. We know that under the present method a large number of votes are wasted at every election. We are anxious, as a democratic community, that every vote given by the people shall represent the wishes of the people. We cannot have a true democracy unless we know what the true wishes of the people are in respect to the laws under which they have to live. If the Government were anxious to establish this system, there was no reason why they should not have had it argued out. If they were desirous of ascertaining the feeling of the Senate with regard to the Hare system, they ought to have given Senator M’Gregor an opportunity of bringing on his motion in regard to it, so that we might have discussed the question apart from other considerations which influence us in dealing with this Bill. We could have readily voted aye or nay on that motion, whereas matters are now very complicated. Although honorable senators may be in favour of the Hare system, they may be opposed - as they must be if they are consistent - to the provision in the Bill as to single electorates ; and yet if they vote against the second reading they will be voting apparently against some of their own convictions, because the Bill contains one principle of which they approve. There are many other matters of great importance in the machinery portions of the Bill, with which honorable senators from South Australia are familiar. There will probably be surprises, as has been stated, in elections conducted under the Hare system. Why? Because under the present system we have no real means of ascertaining the true wishes of the people upon subjects of national importance. There are those who favour the single-electorate system who argue that under it an absolute majority will always rule. Even in that belief I think that they will be disappointed, because they have been counting heads rather than the thoughts which those heads contain. They have split States into electorates containing a certain number of electors, quite regardless of the interests which may dominate in each division. If we adopted single electorates for the House of Representatives we should be dealing simply with the individuals living in the constituency, and not with the opinions held by them. In one district there might be concentrated a large number of working men holding certain views on industrial and social questions, while in another views of a more general character might predominate. By dividing the States so as to have one representative for one district, instead of being able to elect men according to the opinions which generally prevailed in the country, we should have each member elected according to the opinions that prevailed in the particular constituency for which he was returned. One result of the system would probably be a tremendous waste of voting power, whereas a greater economy of voting power might disturb the whole arrangement. May I give an illustration ? We will suppose that the metropolitanarea of Adelaide is divided into four districts - Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Sturt, and Torrens. The election we will say is fought out on the fiscal issue. In the Adelaide division, 6,800 vote for freetrade, whilst 5,200 vote for protection. In Port Adelaide, 4,000 vote for free-trade, and 8,000 for protection; in Sturt, 6,200 for free-trade, and 5,300 for protection ; while in Torrens 6,100 vote for free-trade, and 5,900 for protection. The protectionists throughout the metropolitan area thus total 24,900, whereas the free-traders number only 23,100 ; but although in the aggregate the free-traders are in a minority, they elect three members to the House, whereas the protectionists elect only one. That is what might take place under the singleelectorate system. The working classes being concentrated, a tremendous portion of their voting power might be wasted in some districts, whilst if the metropolitan area were polled as a whole, their voting power, instead of being wasted in districts where they predominate, would be made effective over a greater area, and would probably give them a majority. The arguments which have been brought forward against the Hare system by honorable senators have, to my mind, very little force. We have been contending for the adoption of that system for many years. Miss Spence has travelled not only throughout the various States of the Commonwealth, but through America, England, and various parts of the Continent of Europe, advocating the adoption of the Hare system of voting. We all know that, as the result of her advocacy, considerable attention has been given to the system ; so much so that in South Australia I do not think that any of us dared to say during the elections for the Senate that we were opposed to it in any way.
– But South Australia has not adopted it.
– No. That is one reason why I shall vote for the amendment proposing that the consideration of the Bill be deferred until next session. If that is done we shall be able to stir up South Australia. South Australia has always opposed single electorates. At first we had the double-electorate system. Now we have reduced the number of members, and cut up the State into five, four, and three member constituencies. Public opinion in South Australia is strongly opposed to single electorates.
– Therefore, the honorable senator is going to oppose voting by post, and the limitation of election expenses ?
– -We have it.
– It exists only in three out of the six States.
– We have guarded the secrecy of the ballot under voting by post very much better than is done in this Bill. It was proposed that South Australia should be divided into single electorates for the House of Representatives. That proposition was lost. During the last .session of the State Parliament, an effort was made to divide the State into single electorates for the local Legislature. That proposition was also lost ; with the result that the State has been divided into five, four, and three member constituencies. The system of single districts in force in the United States of America has failed to realize the expectations of the citizens of that country. So much so that the United States Senate, in 1869, appointed a select committee to inquire into the electoral system. The Government, in this Bill, ask us to ignore entirely the electorates of the House of Representatives, and they submit the Bill in such a form as will leave the division of the districts to be represented in that House entirely in their hands. The United States Senate did not view the matter in that way. They considered that, as representing the States as a whole, they had a very .great interest in the manner in which the States were subdivided. In order that they might see how the system was working, they appointed a select committee to make inquiries. That committee brought up a report, a .portion of which I .propose to read. They emphatically condemn the system of single seats, which they say -
Has not secured fair -representation of political interests, and it has continued in existence in a somewhat mitigated form the evils of the plan of election by general ticket which it superseded. Still one body of organized electors in a district vote down another. Electoral corruption is not effectually checked, and the general result is an unfair representation of political interests in a popular House of Congress. Besides the single district plan has called into existence inconveniences peculiar to itself, and which do not attach to the former plan. It excludes from Congress men of ability and merit, whose election was possible before, and this exercises a baneful influence on the constitution of the House.
I wish to emphasize that statement.
Two causes operate to this end. In the first place no man who adheres to a minority in any particular district can be returned. And next, great rapidity of change is produced by the fluctuation of party power in the district. Single districts will almost always be unfairly made. They will be formed in the interests ‘Of party.
I know from the speech delivered by Senator Millen this afternoon, that he favours party government and party politics entirely. As one who has taken some part in various reform movements during the last ten or twelve years, I am not so much enamoured I of party politics. I quite see that there must be a party in power, and a party in “opposition, but I do not wish that every elector should vote merely on a party ticket like a machine. That is how the system has failed in the United States, by leading up to such an organization that the individual is completely lost and controlled by the boss of the political machine. What I desire, and what the Hare system will give us, is an opportunity for those who hold views perhaps in advance of the rest of the community, and who think that the time has come when we should change some of our methods, and make some improvement in our social, industrial, or’ commercial life, to test the growth of their opinions in the community. They will be in a minority at first, but as they keep on preaching their doctrines, agitating and -working, and as the people begin to think more of these things, they will be able, under the Hare system, to test the strength of the influence of their ideas upon the community, by doing that which Senator Millen condemns, namely, by advocating their views in contesting an election.
– I do mot condemn any party running a candidate in advocacy of its views.
– I thought the honorable and learned senator spoke so strongly in favour of party government that he wished every election to be run upon the programme placed before the country as a great issue’ between the party in power and the party in opposition. What I am advocating is that people should have an opportunity to test the growth of their opinions by contesting -an election. The number of primary votes given for a candidate holding their views will indicate the strength of those views,- though it may be years before they are able to make any very great advance. As an illustration, a man who believes in taxing land values, and has preached that doctrine for years, ought to have an opportunity of testing the strength of public opinion upon that policy. He would never have such an opportunity if he had to contest an election in a single electorate, in which he would have every reason to suppose that there would not be an absolute majority with him. Under this other system he could speak boldly upon the platform in support of what he believed in, and by so doing he would gather round him all who believed as he did, that there should be taxation upon land values, or taxation to a greater extent than exists at the present time. Men might advocate reforms in the same way in our educational system or in our land laws, and why should not those people have an opportunity by contesting an election to test the growth of their opinions? Under the system provided for in this Bill they would have no such opportunity, and I am therefore “opposed to it in the interests of reform movements, and in the interests of progress. I assure honorable senators that no democracy can exist for long, unless it be progressive. Progress is as essential to the national and social life of democratic communities as the circulation of blood is ‘ necessary to sustain animal life. At the present time we are supposed to. have a majority in favour of protection, in favour of raising the large amount of revenue required through the Custom-house ; and .are not those who believe in direct taxation -to have an opportunity during the existence of the Commonwealth of advocating their views, and of testing from time to time the advance they have made 1 The single-electorate system will and must tend to the degradation of the candidates, because all they will have to look to is the local interest of a particular district. Their ideas will be narrowed down to those of the people for whom they will have to act. If it were only to prevent that evil, we should oppose the single-electorate system. We require larger constituencies in which there will be a greater diversity of opinion, and in contesting such constituencies the mind of a candidate will be broadened. The committee appointed by the American Congress to inquire into the working of the electoral system brought out very prominently the tendency to degrade the member by diverting his thoughts from national to local affairs, and in their report they state that if the members were carried away by their surroundings in Congress to think of national affairs more than local affairs, the result would be that they would lose their seats at the next election, and that fact must, I think, appeal to Senator Millen. The passage in the report reads as follows : -
In brief, his time, as his efforts, instead of being expended for the public, must .be expended ou personal objects if he desires to remain for any considerable time a representative of the people. Undoubtedly many of the best men of the country must fie deterred from entering upon a 30 l z
Congressional career, continuance in which requires such sacrifices to an evil system, so much of unpleasant effort attended with uncertainty, and probable mortification.
Look at the single-electorate method as we may, in every sense it appeal’s to be working against the interests of the people as a whole, and against the member himself, and as Senator Millen very ably pointed out, if we adopt that method with the changes in population we shall require to be continually altering our boundaries. In the United States it is said there is scarcely a district in which there has not been more or. less gerrymandering done. If we are desirous of attaining to a high national standard in the Commonwealth, we must frame our electoral system so as to enable the best men to come forward in its interests. The experience of the people of the United States has been in the opposite direction. Many of their ablest and best men have declined to stand for the House of Representatives on that account. Hence the committee, whose report I have quoted, state -
It is on admitted fact that in the American, democracy, which is constructed on this faulty model, the highly cultivated members of the community, except such as are willing to sacrifice their judgment and conscience to the behests of .party and become the servile echo of those w.ho are their inferiors in knowledge, do not allow their names as candidates for Congress or the Legislatures, so certain it is they would be defeated.
Under this single-electorate system, especially with the contingent vote applied, there would be scarcely a possibility of getting men of the stamp we should like to contest the elections, because they would be compelled to become mere echoes of one party or the other, and the vote of the unintelligent ill-informed elector would count of equal value to that which the more thoughtful and considerate elector had given. Those who take a deep interest in national life are inclined to throw up politics entirely, to say that they will not be bothered either to vote or to take any notice of those who offer themselves, because every vote that is given after due deliberation has no more value than a vote which is thrown in without any consideration. In a great Commonwealth where every adult, I presume, will have a vote, it is highly essential that the people should be able to record their votes and give effect to their desires in the direction they wish, and what can be more effectual for that purpose than the Hare system ? I do not know of any better system. I am sure that the single-electorate system does not meet the requirements of the House of Representatives. One of the blots in the history of the United States is the civil war. It has been said by the committee I have referred to that if proportional voting had been in existence in the Southern States that war would not have taken place. Party feeling ran high, and the minority could get no chance of being heard in the Congress.
– Does not this Bill give the minority an opportunity of being heard?
– In the fSenate it may, but in the House of Representatives it cannot possibly do so. In America, the solid party gained the seats in the House of Representatives, and the voices of those who were opposed to i secession could not be heard, with the result that the power they exerted in the
House was so disastrous as to bring on -that war. In their report the committee state -
The’ absence of proportional representation in the states of the South, when rebellion was plotted, and when open steps were taken to break the Union, was unfortunate, for it would have held the Union men of those states together, and would have given them voice in the electoral colleges and in Congress. The President is not electe’d by the people, but by the men who are sent to the electoral colleges to vote for him. During those elections for members of the -electoral colleges, the voice of those in favour of union could not be heard. Those who were favorable to disunion had the control of the electoral colleges, and chose men accordingly.
– The unionists returned Lincoln. The voice of the unionists brought on the civil war.
– L am quoting from the report presented to Congress by a committee appointed by the United ! States Senate to inquire into the working of the electoral law. I will begin again -
The absence of proportional representation in the states of the South when rebellion was plotted, and when open steps were taken to break the Union, was unfortunate, for it would have “held the union men of those states together, and would have given them voice in the electoral colleges and in Congress. But they were fearf fullY overborne by the plurality rule of elections, and were swept forward by the course of events into impotency or open hostility to our cause. By that rule they were largely deprived of representation in Congress. By that rule they were shut out of the electoral colleges. Dispersed, unorganized, unrepresented, without due voice and power, they could interpose no effectual resistance to secession and civil war.
– That is only the opinion of the committee.
– It was the opinion of the committee after serious inquiry into the matter.
– Congress never adopted it.
– It is true that Congress never gave effect to it. Perhaps those men -who had seats in Congress were not prepared to introduce an electoral system which might entirely change the representation of the people. But we are now starting the Commonwealth, and it is our duty to look around the world and see what experience other nations have “had, so that we may benefit to the extent of forsaking what is ill, and accepting what is good. In a democracy like ours, it is every person’s duty to go to the poll and record his or her vote. Our forefathers fought for the right to vote. When we think of the great struggles that took place in the land of our birth, we can hardly overvalue the benefits they have conferred upon us. It is because the gift has come to us from our forefathers, without our having to fight for it ourselves, that, .1 fear, we value it so little. Hence it is our duty, not only to vote, but to see that we vote in such a way as will tend to the general good. It is the duty, as well as the right, of every elector to vote. It is the elector’s duty to cast his vote, first according to what he or she thinks to be the best proposition suggested for the good of the Commonwealth and its government ; secondly, for what will best conserve the interests of the citizens in their individual capacity as distinguised from their communal relationship ; and thirdly, upon his or her preference respecting the candidates most suitable for legislative work. Those are the reasons which should influence the elector in voting. If we lay down those propositions it certainly behoves us so to frame our electoral laws, so that every elector may register his vote accordingly. The singleelectorate system does not enable the elector to give effect to his vote in the direction I have indicated, because; if a candidate comes forward who really gives expression to the thoughts of a number of electors, and they would like to vote for him, they feel that their votes would he absolutely lost, and non-effective, as he could not possibly win the election. Why should that be so ? It is our duty to enable the electors to record their votes according to their thoughts. If some candidates are faddists - that is to say, if there are only a comparatively small number of people holding their views - the few cannot injure the many in the slightest degree. In the case supposed, if a certain number of electors voted for the candidate in whom they believed, and lie did not get in, the votes so cast would not be lost, but would be recorded for some one else - perhaps for a candidate holding advanced views, though not perhaps advanced to the extent of those held by the man for whom they cast their first votes. With regard to there being sections of opinion in a House of Legislature, I ask : Is not that a good thing 1 If we are to know what the feeling of the country is, and what the opinions of the people are, is it not our duty to see that the Legislature mirrors the views of those people ?
– Holding those views, why does not the honorable senator vote for the second reading t
– If the amendment for the postponement is lost, I shall certainly vote for the second reading. I have not yet said that I shall vote against the second reading. I cannot do that, because the Bill contains some provisions that on principle I desire to see carried. But I shall vote for the amendment.
– That is voting against the second reading.
– No, it is not, because it does not oppose the principle of the Bill. I know that we are merely marking time. I do not think that the VicePresident of the Executive Council himself has any idea that the Bill will become an Act this session.
– If the honorable senator’s vote carries the amendment, how can there be a vote on the second reading 1
– If my vote carries the amendment, we shall be able to take the Bill before the electors of South Australia and the other States, explain its provisions, and show the people how the single-electorate method suggested for the House . of Representatives is in direct violation of what I have been contending for. But if the Bill passes through committee as it stands, I shall even then be bound to vote against the third reading because of the vicious principles underlying some portions of it.
– The honorable senator will be rejecting more than the principle of proportional representation by voting for the amendment. 0
– I shall vote for the postponement, to give an opportunity to the people to consider the matter. The electors of South Australia are distinctly opposed to the single-electorate system as contained in this Bill. Why do I say that ? Because the Houses of Legislature refused to adopt that principle on two occasions, and there was no demand from the people in favour of it. It is because the Bill includes the vicious principle of single electorates that I shall feel bound to vote against the third reading.
– .The honorable senator is running with the Hare and hunting with the Opposition.
– I am not doing anything of the sort. I feel that we shall accomplish a great deal more by postponing the Bill than by passing it now. I have no hope of the Bill passing through Parliament this session. When we look at the work before the House of Representatives, the number of hours they have worked, and the diligence they have devoted to what they have in hand, is it likely that they are going to deal with this great measure, involving as it does two opposing principles 1
– Why not give them the opportunity, at any rate ?
– Because I do not wish to waste the time of the Senate and the House of Representatives in attempting to deal with a measure to which effect cannot be given.
– That is no answer.
– The honorable senator can have his own opinion on that. The other portions of the Bill are very familiar to us in South Australia.
– We are tired of South Australia. We are constantly hearing of South Australia in this Senate.
– I cannot help that. The honorable senator will find, if he looks through the Bill, that it follows lines and methods that practically make it a South Australian measure.
– The “model State” again !
– The “model State “ is able to supply models for the other States to follow.
– But not good enough to accept, if the honorable senator is going to vote against the Bill !
– I am going to vote against those principles of the Bill which are opposed to all the true principles of democracy, and which will prevent the attainment of what those honorable senators in the labour corner are desirous of securing - namely, social, commercial, and industrial reform. We find that under the singleelectorate system of the United States, which this Bill copies, although the electors have the franchise, and nominally enjoy manhood suffrage, the workers are hot able to bring about any reforms. Their votes are a mockery to them, because they are not able to use them effectively in consequence of the electoral laws not being framed as they should be. The electors have become mere wheels in the machine, to be turned just as the bosses of the political parties desire.
– We want this Bill to prevent that in Australia.
– If I thought that the true principle of democracy was embodied in this Bill I should vo te against the amendment. The Bill contains a provision that is fatal to all progress ; fatal to the true progress of democracy. Surely my honorable friends do not think that democracy means simply the block vote of the majority, and that the thoughts of- the people who are in a minority cannot be represented? If that is their view, they cannot help to make any advance in our social or industrial laws.
– Do not misrepresent us.
– If my honorable friends of the labour corner, with the experience of the United States before us, insist upon having single electorates and the majority vote, they will, by their vote in this Chamber, block the way for those who come after us to obtain any reform. I point to the country where the people are supposed to rule, but in no part of the world do they rule less than in the United States. Do these honorable senators intend to fetter the coming generation in the way in which the citizens of the United States are fettered ? If so, let them go on, but I shall be no party to it whilst I hold a seat in the Senate. In the interests of all concerned, I say it is infinitely better that, at this late period of the session, and with the great work of the session still to be performed, instead of proceeding with this Bill, we should adjourn until the Tariff is ready for us, and devote our time meanwhile to the stud)’ of all its details.
– The same old fetish.
– If the honorable senator were only trying to understand the requirements of the Commonwealth, I am sure he would not interject in that way. The ‘ whole commercial life of the Commonwealth is disturbed to-day owing to a feeling of uncertainty as to what the Tariff is going to be. Therefore, instead of wasting time upon a measure to which effect cannot be given this session, it is far better for us to’ devote the time between this and the introduction of the Tariff in the Senate to its study, so that wo may be in a position to deal effectively with it when it comes before us. I have endeavoured to show that if we turn to the country that has been observing the principle of single electorates, we shall find that the system has not tended to the progress but rather to the degradation of the masses. t What do we see taking place in England, from whence we have received so much ? We hear a great deal about classes. When there were rotten boroughs, when there were only a few interests concerned, it was a question between two great sections ; but as the franchise was extended, so it was clearly understood that something more must be done to enable those who were enfranchised to give full effect to their wishes by their votes. This is no new thing. Honorable senators must know that with the extension of the franchise in Great Britain there has been a constant and growing demand for a change in the electoral system there. Lord Aberdeen and others have grappled with it, and proposals such as the accumulative vote and others have been made. None of those proposals, however, which have been tried have had anything like the effect which we may expect from the system proposed by Mr. Hare, harristeratlaw, in meeting the wishes of the people. Under it every person who is agreed with others in the advocacy of some great principle is enabled to indicate on his ballot-paper the direction that his wishes take. How beautifully it works out. No votes are lost, inasmuch as every person who takes full advantage of the system is bound to have a representative in the House. Under the system here provided, we find that out of 1,000 voters, say 501 persons could elect a representative; and 499 go unrepresented. With such a loss’, how could the people take that interest in politics that they would take if they knew that they had some one to represent them in the Legislature; either as their full choice or as their choice to a lesser extent? Thus it appears that the Hare system gives to every man t>he chance of saying, “ I have in the House a person who represents my ideas,” instead of 499 out of 1,000 in one electorate saying, “ We have no one there to speak for us.” We contend that men should have opportunities, if there are a sufficient number of them holding certain views in common, to form a. quota to send a representative into the House to voice their views. The educational result must also be considered. Other people would read the remarks of such represenatives, and, if they contained the germs of truth, would gradually adopt their views, until they came no longer to be regarded as the views of extremists, but live questions which the Government would fee prepared to take up. What do we find.now? Any person who is desirous of advocating, a reform has to labour for years on public platforms without having a chance of having his views voiced in the halls of the Legislature, because he would have to convert more than half of the people to his way of thinking before that result could be obtained. To say that the system would return nothing but sectional parties into the Senate is absurd. What does it do ? Supposing, as has been suggested today, its adoption resulted in the return of a representative of the licensed victuallers, and also of a representative of the prohibitionists to this Chamber. When the liquor laws came up for discussion, why should not those two great parties have representatives here to place their views before the people? In dealing with such a question they would speak as strongly as, they could according to their opposite views, but on all other questions the representative of the licensed victuallers and the member representing the prohibitionists might vote in unison. It is said that this is not a deliberative assembly; that this is a mere law-making assembly. We do require deliberation here, but the time comes when we want decision, when we must record our votes no matter what our views may be on any particular subject.
Under the proposed new system the Government would be- compelled to study not only one matter ; they would be educated by the speeches of those who are said to be extremists, and whose views could not possibly do any harm, because they would not have the power of control. There is a vast difference between mere representation and power of control in Parliament.
– These -are the principles which the honorable senator has advocated for years.
– I have advocated proportional representation.
– Now, at the first chance of carrying, into effect what the honorable senator desires, he runs away from it.
– If the Bill gets into committee I shall be found advocating the effective vote; because it is the only principle that can give true representation, and which can lead to -the government of the country in an honest and ‘ just manner. But, because I say that, am I to go on with a measure that will not be given effect to this session, and that embodies a most- vicious principle that I am anxious the electors shall be made aware of before they are bound by it ? It has been clearly shown that before we pass this Bill we ought to pass the Franchise Bill. The Government” introduced the Franchise Bill in the other House first, and the Electoral Bill provides the machinery for carrying that measure into operation. It is our duty to pass, first of all, the. Franchise Bill, and then to pass the machinery to give effect to it. Why could not that Bill be withdrawn from the other House and sent here ? Let us deal with it first in the order in which it should come before us. Even if we pass this Bill it cannot take effect,, for in clause 5 it is provided that -
This Act shall not apply to the election of a new member to fill any vacancy happening in the House of Representatives during the continuance of the present House of Representatives.
– The rolls have to be compiled.
– That cannot be done unless we pass the Franchise Bill.
– We are going to have it before us.
– We should deal with it first, and in postponing this Bill we should be doing no injustice to any one. I care not whether we have the Droop quota or the Hare quota. Although I prefer the latter, I am indifferent, because the principle is there all the same. So long as we can elect our representatives on that principle, the country is absolutely safe; but under the Commonwealth, singleelectorate system, the Commonwealth is in danger. Where wasFrance ? By an excited block vote did not Napoleon destroy the Republic and establish himself Emperor ? How do we know but that under this system some may seek to overthrow by a vote our glorious Constitution?
– I can assure the honorable senator that we do not contemplate any coup d ‘ etat.
– I hope the honorable and learned senator does not, but so far as I am concerned, I will give him no chance of putting into an Electoral Bill that which may give another an opportunity to accomplish it. In this Bill we have two opposing principles, and how this came about I do not know. I thought the Government had been consulting with Professor Nanson on the matter, but I am quite sure that that gentleman would never have agreed to the single-electorate system, because in his pamphlets and in his letters to the press he has always been strongly against it. Some may say that there is a concession in the direction of the Hare system in this Bill, inasmuch as there is a preferential vote by figures provided for in single electorates, but there is a very great difference between preferential voting and proportional voting. While one would enable the majority to sweep everything before it, the other makes room for minority representation. There is, I am sure, no better system for the Commonwealth to adopt than the Hare system of proportional representation.
SenatorPlayford. - The people do not want it.
– I think they do, and if the consideration of this Bill is deferred to a time when we can effectively deal with it, we shall be able, during the short recess we shall have, to go before our constituents and advocate the application of the Hare system, not only to the Senate, but to the House of Representatives. As Senator Millen so well put it this afternoon, if the system has any virtue at all - and I claim that it has much - that virtue can be given effect to if we apply it to elections for the House of Representatives.
Unless, in the event of a dissolution, which I presume will scarcely ever occur, there will be only three senators for each State to be elected, and in their election we cannot prove to the people the virtues of the system nearly so well as we could if it were applied to the election of members of the House of Representatives. For that purpose, as has been suggested, the districts there represented could be arranged as sixmember districts. Honorable senators will see how automatically the Hare system works. Under it, it is unnecessary that there should be organization. Under it a man living at Oodnadatta, holding the same views as I do upon the question of taxation, and whom I may not know at all, will record his vote in the same direction as myself.’ In the same way, people all over the State, holding similar views, will form themselves automatically into a party having the same objects in view, and that without any special organization. I say that no elector should be driven by any organization.
– The honorable senator did not always think that.
– The honorable senator will admit that I have always supported effective voting, and while I say that an organization can and ought;to assist an elector in making his decision, no organization should be enabled to control an elector as though he were a mere automaton. I say that under the Hare system people holding similar views, no matter how they may be scatterred, will be able to give effect to those views, and unless some such system is adopted, I say that in this Commonwealth we will risk the dangers which have been experienced in the United States. With the adoption of the Hare system ideas can be ventilated, the people can be educated up to what is passing in our legislative halls, and we shall find that there is safety even in numbers. There may be 10,000 electors in a largeelectorate holding the same views, andthey may know nothing of each other, and yet under the Hare system there is some chance that their views will be given effect to by representation. Another provision of the Bill has occurredto me which I say is pernicious and directly opposed to the principle of the Hare system. That is the provision that if a candidate does not obtain a certain number of votes he is to be fined £25. Under this system we invite all those who think there is a quota, or nearly a quota of voters holding similar views to their own to come forward as candidates. If men are anxious to get up on a public platform at election times, when they can do a great deal of educational work, why should they be debarred from doing so because of the fear of losing £25 t Is there any democracy in that provision 1 I say it is foreign to the principle of the Hare portion of the Bill to impose a penalty of this kind. In the case of an election for South Australia for the Senate, unless a candidate got 73 000 primary votes he would have to lose his deposit.
– Surely there must be some penalty for the ridiculous candidates 1
– We need not trouble about the ridiculous candidates. Let the public, who are the best judges, decide between the candidates, and let us not impose a fine upon any. We have in this Commonwealth people scattered over a very large area, but political literature is to-day widely distributed, and under the Hare system people holding advanced views will be given an opportunity to have their voice heard in our legislative halls, and to have their desires given effect to. This measure is too vastly important to be rushed. For some reason which I do not know, my honorable friends in the labour corner appear to be determined to push the Bill through this session at all costs. It introduces two new principles into our electoral laws, one of which is to be admired, though its application in the Bill is so limited as to make it almost ineffective, but the other will impose upon the people an electoral system that may tend to the destruction even of this great Commonwealth. I say, therefore, that we should not deal hastily with such a measure. We should take time to consider how it will work out. If the Bill does not pass this session, there will still be an opportunity to deal with it before the general election for the Senate or the House of Representatives. By delaying now we shall give the people an opportunity to think over the matter and decide which of these two systems is the better.
– Why delay the. passing of the machinery clauses ?
– Because the whole Bill is founded upon the two principles to which I have referred. If we struck out the provision for the single electorate system, I very much question whether the Government would not withdraw the Bill.
– That would suit the honorable senator’s purpose just as well.
– That maybe, but if we had time to put these two principles before the people, I am satisfied that they would,demand the Hare system, and not the single-electorate system.
– The honorable senator wishes to wait until the next general election.
– There will be plenty of time in the short recess I presume the Government will give us.
– What opportunity will the people have of expressing an opinion upon iti
– At public meetings.
– Is that likely ?
– Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council mean to tell me that the people have no interest in this measure t I say that when they wake up to what is underlying this Bill, they will be aroused to such a degree that public meetings will be held, at which the people will give expression to their views. There will, therefore, be no harm in delaying the consideration of the measure, and the people will be given an opportunity of knowing the electoral system they are being asked to adopt. So far as my own State is concerned, I may say that the feeling in favour of the Hare system is growing more and more every year.
– No fear !
– Let me tell ‘ the honorable senator, and let me warn him in time, that unless he takes an interest in this movement, he may find it will rise up to injure the progress of his federal career. What has the Parliament of South Australia done 1 It has divided South Australia into electorates in such a way that the Hare system can be applied to them. A little more pressure upon the Government there, a few more public meetings, and a little more agitation at the poll, and they will be prepared to accept the Hare system. The desire to adopt that system is growing rapidly in South Australia, and the electorates have been formed with that object in view. I am satisfied that we shall gain most materially for our cause if we delay the passage of the Bill, and stir up the people more. When we have shown them what the single-electorate system means, I. am satisfied that they will rally round our banner, and Miss Spence, Professor Nanson, Mr. Justice Clark and all those who have taken a prominent part in this great movement will find their labours crowned with success. And they will be able to say that they have lived to some great purpose, that they have accomplished a great good, inasmuch as they have emancipated the people from the mere force of numbers, and established a system which will give them representation according to the views they hold.
– I intend to support the second reading of the Bill. Speaking generally, I think it is an admirable measure. It is conceived on broad and liberal lines, and gives every facility for people to exercise their franchise. It inaugurates a uniform electoral law for the Commonwealth, and I contend that we cannot have satisfactory representation unless we get that uniformity. I was surprised to hear a number of so-called liberals say that they intend to vote against the second reading, and many of their reasons were, I think, very illogical. We are told by some honorable senators that we must reject this Bill because the Franchise Bill is not passed. It must be obvious to every one that both Bills will be brought into operation at the same time. We cannot pass them simultaneously hi the Senate, and therefore it is necessary that one should take precedence of the other. If it is a question of which Bill should be introduced first, I’ would > certainly say the Electoral Bill, because a great deal of necessary machinery work can be accomplished before the other is passed. It will take a long time for the commissioners to mark out the electorates, and to get things properly in train, before we start to put the people on the roll. We are told that there is no chance of getting this Bill passed, and, therefore, certain honorable senators will vote against the second reading. I believe we shall have a month’s discussion on the measure. , I am glad to see that the Government have asked for an additional sitting day, and with four sittings a week - and I hope, if necessary, we shall be able to sit late at night - it will be passed before the Tariff is received. Another reason brought forward against the second reading of the Bill - a reason that is advanced by many members - -is that because it contains certain objectionable clauses it should be thrown out. That is the most illogical reason which has been advanced. It contains 206 clauses, and during the debate I have not heard one word spoken against the majority of them. The Bill deals with administration, the division of States into electorates, polling places, electoral rolls, revision courts, and many other things.; but it also contains certain clauses which have the effect of limiting the voting, power of the people, and of rendering it impossible for any person to know for certain to whom his vote will be credited. These clauses I believe are excrescences on the Bill, but the proper place to remove them is in committee. I believe that the adoption of the Hare-Clark system will bring us no nearer to that ideal towards which we are striving, and that is_ that the opinion of every man and every woman, as expressed by vote, shall have equal weight in the election of the people’s representative. Senator O’Connor has told us that there is a confusion of thought in believing that the representatives in Parliament should be the representatives of majorities only. And instancing the case of Athens, which furnished, I suppose, the purest example of a democracy, he pointed out that every citizen of Hellenic descent directly and individually voted at the Agora, or National Assembly. I should like to draw a distinction between such a community and one which has become so numerous and expansive that delegated representation has to be resorted to. In the latter case, although the delegates may represent every section of the community on certain points, it is perfectly obvious that they can represent those sections on only one or at most two points, and very possibly those points are not matters so much of national concern as of domestic or parochial interest. But there is a more serious phase than that of delegated representation. If we had a Parliament representing the champions of sections instead of the political thought of the people, each section being in a minority would find that it was impossible for them to carry the measures for which they were returned, and there would be a very great temptation for those members to resort to combination and logrolling in order to attain that which they considered as paramount. If they did not succeed in carrying the measure for which they were sent in, then their mission would bea failure, and the people on whom they were relying to re-elect them would not be satisfied with what they had done. It is obvious that unless they resorted to logrolling their particular whims or fads could not be carried out. No Ministry would be able to command a majority in such an Assembly unless it obtained the support of two or more parties, and therefore it would have to introduce the principle of log-rolling in order to gain a majority for its measures. I venture to think that there is a very great difference between the delegated representation we have and that of the pure Athenian democracy. Instead of its being a reflex of the will of the people, it would be more likely to be a caricature. We are told that it would be a mirror of political thought, but I am inclined to think that it would be more like that grotesque representation of an object which we see in a concave or convex mirror. We should have a Parliament that would represent the foibles of the people rather than- their national aspirations. Most writers on representative government, from the time of Burke to the present day, have very clearly seen the danger of having a number of different parties in a Parliament. Speaking of, the Commonwealth Constitution, in his Studies in ‘History (Mid Jurisprudence, just publisher], Professor Bryce says -
The Australian scheme, contemplates a party system to work it. But what sort of a party system ? Obviously one in which there are two parties only, each cohesive, each prepared to replace its antagonist in the Executive. Such was the party system of England till the present generation. Such has been the party system of the United States. But in France there have been, and are, several parliamentary groups, which frequently change their attitude towards one another, sometimes combining to support a Ministry, sometimes falling asunder and leaving it to perish, because one group alone was not sufficient to sustain it. Hence the lives of the Ministries have been short.
We read in the cables some time ago that the Chancellor of Germany, in order to secure sufficient support to carry his Tariff Bill, was endeavouring to get the clerical party to vote for him, by promising them certain concessions. We find that it is necessary when there are a number of parties for the Government to promise to carry out certain measures in which they do not believe, in order to get sufficient support to carry the measures on their own programme. In Austria the position is very much the same. The National Parliament is broken up into a number of sections, and it is admitted by all writers that the system of representation there is certainly not the best. In many cases it is hardly workable. This system of proportional representation will divide the States up into electorates. These will be electorates of sentiment or thought, instead of territorial divisions, but the effect from the constitutional point of .view, I contend, will be exactly the same. The object of the framers of our Constitution in giving equal representation to the States was, whilst legislating in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, to conserve the individual rights of the States, and create a safeguard against encroachments by the Federal Government on the States, as otherwise there was a danger of the Federation gradually drifting towards a unification. How can that intention of the framers of the Constitution be carried out if, instead of representing States, we represent mere sections of the people? This will not be as it is now, a States House, but it will have very much the constitutional significance of the House of Representatives. Senator Matheson spoke of my election as an illustration. He pointed out that as I refused to ally myself with any party and decided to stand or fall merely on my political opinions, although elected at the head of the poll ‘under the block vote system, I should not have had the same chance under a system of proportional voting, because the faddists would not have given me their first preference votes. But there was an element which he did not recognise, and that is what I may call the local or parochial vote. I venture to say that if I had to rely on only the votes of the people on the, gold-fields of Kalgoorlie, my seat would be as safe as any seat in the Commonwealth. That is the place where I am best known, and that is the most democratic portion of Western Australia.
– That shows that they recognise merit.
– The gold-fields are quite capable of producing- a quota, and therefore, if I stood for election again, it would not be necessary for me to go outside the four corners of the gold-fields. But while that might be personally advantageous to myself, could I then be said to be a representative of Western Australia, or merely of a certain portion of it ? From the representative point of view, and also from the constitutional point of view, the Hare-Clark system must he condemned; but if it is to be adopted it will be necessary for us to deprive the electors of Australia of five-sixths of their voting rights. While the object of liberals is to place the fullest voting power in the hands of the people the effect of the Hare-Clark system is to reduce that power to a minimum ! Were I to vote for this system I should be in the position of saying to my constituents that, while I promised on the hustings that I would support measures to establish liberal electoral laws, I had carried out my pledges in such “a way that in the first session of Parliament I was instrumental in depriving them of five-sixths of their voting rights. I can understand conservatives supporting this system, because it would reduce the voting power of the people ; and in progressive communities conservatives are generally in a minority. This gives them minority representation. But I cannot understand liberals, who have looked into the effects of this proposed system, deliberately reducing the power of the people in respect of their representation. I intend to vote for the fullest franchise possible, and not to restrict it. The question first’ to be decided is - Is plumping superior to voting for the number of candidates to be returned ? If we decide that it is, it is problematical whether even the Hare-Clark system is the best means to carry out plumping to the best advantage. In the first place, except in the unlikely event of a dissolution, in the elections for the Senate there will be three-seat electorates. All these proportional voting systems - Mr. Hare’s and every modification of it - are not applicable to three-seat electorates, as all those who have spoken strongly in favour of proportional representation admit. Dr. Commons, in his book on “ Proportional Representation,”which has been largely quoted, cites the opinion of the American Proportional Representation League, of which he was a member. He says-
The number of candidates on any ticket ought ordinarily not to exceed fifteen, and they may be as small as five.
Mr. Hare, the author of this system, Professor Nanson, Miss Spence, the secretary of the South Australian League, and others, have all said that the minimum number of seats to -which this system could be applied is five. I do not think that we need go further than that. These people - who are authorities on the subject, who look upon the Hare-Spence system almost as a fetish, and a panacea for all electoral evils - say that it is not applicable, and should not be used for the Senate elections. Surely that is the most damning condemnation the system could have as applied to a Senate election ? I do not intend to go into any details regarding the HareSpence system. In the first place, it has been very fully discussed from that point of view, and in the> second place, I think the time for going into details is when we get into committee. It is beyond question that under this system votes are only credited to one candidate, except in the case of surplus preference votes, in which two candidates each get a fraction. Experience shows that in about five cases out of six the candidates are returned according to the count of the first preference votes. Therefore, all this cumbrous legislation would only be effective in very rare cases. In fact, the authors of this Bill so fully recognise this that they have given electors the alternative right of plumping if they wish to do so. In order to provide for plumping they have had to introduce the Droop quota. In a threeseat electorate it is quite possible under the Droop quota for about one-third of the electors to be disfranchised at every election. It is the intention of this Bill that no candidate shall be elected unless he obtains a quota. But how is a quota to be obtained if the majority of the electors plump 1 It will be impossible. If one-half of the electors plump - and that is a very possible contingency, judging from experience- and if there are a number of candidates standing, two out of three will not receive a quota. What are the Government going to do in such a case? There is also the instance quoted by Senator Matheson : In the event of an election of a single senator, is the Hare-Clark system applicable 1 Apparently it is, because, under this Bill, there is no alternative ; but if it is applicable for the election of one senator, why should not the Hare-Spence system be used for the House of Representatives in the single-seat electorates ? I do not believe that the majority of the people of the Commonwealth even understand the measure, and I arn convinced that the majority of those who do understand it do not approve of it. Our practical knowledge of proportional representation is very small. In South Australia, where the subject has been discussed with great vigour during a number of years, and has been explained from every platform throughout the State, we find that, of the six senators returned, the four who strongly opposed the system were elected at the head of the poll, whilst the two who favoured it were fifth and sixth. I do not contend that that is conclusive evidence. The election may have been decided according to the popularity or standing of the candidates. But, in the absence of any other evidence, the inference is that the people of South Australia did not approve of the Hare-Clark system or the Hare-Spence system, as they call it in that State. In Tasmania the system has had a fair trial. Three large elections have been fought under it - two for the State, and one for the Federal Parliament. After that experience the Legislatures of Tasmania deliberately decided to drop the system. I utterly refuse to believe that those legislators thought it was the best system in the interests of Tasmania, and yet dropped it for their own private ends. I am inclined to believe that after a full trial they found that it did not carry out the expectations of those who advocated it, and therefore decided to discontinue it. I am not one of those who can see no faults in the present block vote system ; because not only can a majority return all the senators, but it is even possible for a minority, by splitting votes, to return them. But it is not impossible to improve the block system. I believe that a modification of the HareClark system could be applied to threeseat electorates without restricting the votes of the people in any way. If three members are to be returned, increase the quota threefold and give each elector three first preference votes, letting them number the other candidates 2, 3, 4, 5, &c. 1
– That is simply the block system with an additional complication.
– It is the block vote system, with an alteration which would obviate the possibility of a minority returning a member. It is practically the same in effect as the application of the contingent vote to elections for the House of Representatives. If that system could be carried out, it would insure the majority in every election returning the member. Exactly ‘ the same principle is embodied in the referendum, which most honorable senators in the labour corner strongly favour. In the referendum one or a number of questions can be placed before the people. Under the block vote system, instead of voting for certain questions, the electors will vote for people who will promise to advocate those planks. I believe that the block vote system could be improved by insuring that the members could only be elected by a majority.
– But the honorable senator would not compel the electors to vote for the whole three candidates ?
– I am not going to enter into details with regard to the system. The question of proportional representation was hardly mentioned in four out of the six States at the last election. It was only mentioned in the two States where the population is small. The people do not understand the question, and have been given no opportunity whatever up to the present time of arriving at any conclusion about it. Yet we are proposing to make this drastic change, depriving the people of five-sixths of their voting rights, saying that they can only vote for one candidate, and are not to know who that person is until after the election is over, and that they cannot vote for the full number of members representing their State We are asked to “pass this measure without the people understanding the question or having an opportunity of expressing any opinion upon it. Surely if we are sent here to represent the people they should understand what we propose to inflict upon them, and should have an opportunity of saying whether they approve of this principle of voting or not. I sincerely hope that both the Franchise Bill and the Electoral Bill will be passed this session. The Franchise Bill gives every man and woman in the Commonwealth the right to vote ; every person has under it equal voting rights. Speaking generally, the Electoral Bill is a measure cast on very liberal lines, which will give every facility to those people to exercise that franchise. I think that when we have enacted legislation like that we shall have done quite enough, without adding on the Hare-Clark system ; that it is premature for us to discuss the system before the people know anything about it. If we pass this’ session the Franchise and Electoral Bills we shall have passed legislation which will be a credit to this Parliament and an example to the world ; and I think we shall show by doing so that we have the fullest confidence and trust in the people of Australia as a whole.
– I do not know whether, at this late stage of the discussion, I can throw any new light on the subject which we have been debating for a considerable time. But if it were for no other purpose than to indicate one’s attitude upon the amendment as well as on the Bill, I think it is necessary that some of us should speak on the motion for the second reading. A good deal has been said during this discussion in relation to the various electoral systems not only of Australia, but of other parts of the world. I may say at the outset that I have had some difficulty in making up my mind with regard to the attitude that I should adopt upon this Bill. I am totally opposed to the system ‘of proportional representation, and if I thought that the proposals relating to it, which are contained in the Bill, would be carried in committee, I should certainly vote against the second reading. But believing, like some other honorable senators, that there are good provisions in the Bill, that many of the machinery clauses are not only good, but absolutely necessary, I am prepared, although very much opposed to the principle of proportional voting, to vote for the second reading of the measure. In committee I shall try, so far as I can, to eliminate those principles to which I am opposed ; and, if I think that a majority is against them, I reserve to myself the right, on the third reading of the Bill, to vote against it, because I think that the principle of proportional voting, as we now understand it, is destructive of representative government, and that we should pause before we pass it into law. Every honorable senator who has spoken has said much as to the difficulty of explaining a Bill of this character. I also hold, with several honorable senators who have preceded me, that that portion of the Bill which deals with proportional voting is not required. I cannot understand why, at this stage, the Government, without any desire for it being expressed by ‘the people of the Commonwealth, are prepared to import into the measure such a contentious subject as proportional voting. And with what result? We have had a great deal of discussion upon it, but there is not one honorable senator who agrees with another upon it. We have had certain statements advanced by those who profess to know something about the Bill j and, on the other hand, we have had other honorable senators, who profess to have an equal knowledge of it, denying the premises that have been laid down. There are no two honorable senators who are prepared unreservedly to .give their adhesion to the Bill. Under these circumstances what are we to- do 1 I think our course is very plain ; that at present, atall events, we should be prepared to pass the machinery clauses of the Bill, which give some relief in respect of our electoral systems ; and to wait until a later stage before we attempt to deal with the other proposals. There are some good points in the Bill. For instance, there is the proposal for the registration of voters, the question of electoral districts, and the principle of voting by post ; and I think we ought to strive for uniformity in our electoral system. There is also the proposed limitation of election expenses, in respect of which there should be radical reforms. We know that vast sums of money have been expended in the past under our electoral system, not so much in connexion with the federal elections, but in relation to the electoral laws of the various States, in regard to which there has been a great deal of abuse. Any reform in that direction should be welcomed by all parties. I think, however, that the Bill will have to be hedged round with safeguards, because although you may limit election expenses, you do not eliminate a good deal of the expenditure which can take place under any law that may be enacted here. So far only the question of proportional voting has been discussed. I think that, to a large extent, we have lost sight of the principles contained in the amendment moved by Senator Symon. We find that one of the reasons that induced Senator Symon to move his amendment is that- he thinks the Bill is unnecessary, owing to the “advanced period of the session.” I do not know that we have reached . an advanced stage of the session. It seems to me that we are only at an early period of it. For instance, there are some honorable senators who are not only thirsting for this Bill to be passed into law, but who want to see passed the measure relating to a uniform franchise. Then there is Senator Smith, who has urged the Government several times to bring in an Arbitration Bill ; and if I am to believe the statements which are repeated from day to day we are to pass a Defence Bill, a Bill dealing with the Constitution of the High Court of Australia, and several measures of very small moment.
– The Divorce Bill.
– We have a contentious measure relating to divorce, which some honorable senators believe will be passed before Parliament is prorogued. There is also the Tariff, the consideration of which will occupy a considerable time. We are not here to say that this is an advanced period of the session, and it seems to me that we do not know what will take place. I have been endeavouring for the “last fortnight to obtain some light upon this system of proportional voting. I have honestly striven to go through the mazes of the schedules to the Bill. I have looked particularly at Schedule 2, which has been referred to by several honorable senators.I must honestly confess - and I think there are other honorable senators who must do likewise - that after a careful study of it I have not mastered its details. Speaking of the people who do know, and who profess to know something about the system, I may say that I have had narrated to me an incident which occurred to a gentleman who was lecturing upon this important question, and who was supposed to know something of it, because he was one of the authors of a system of proportional representation. In the course of hip lecture he had written down a number of figures on a black-board, with the object of explaining a certain position under the system, when a well-known statistician who was in the audience, said - “All those figuresare wrong. If you will allow me I will show you the proper way in which to deal with this important question.” The incident shows that even among those who advocate this system, not two of them are agreed. If they cannot agree upon it, how is it possible for us, who perhaps have not the knowledge that some of these gentlemen profess, to come to a conclusion upon it? Where do these proposals come from? I have always had a suspicion that, so far as this State is concerned, they come from a section of voters who are always crying in the political wilderness, and always trying to give us some better electoral system than the one wehave, although they have so far failed. But it seems to me that those who have contended that this system will give minority, and not majority, representation, are correct, and because it will upset the principle of the representation of the majority, with which, I think, we all agree, we certainly should not pass this Bill in its present form. By that statement, I do not wish to infer that the present system is an ideal one. There are, no doubt, many things connected with the block vote system which do not tend to give us the best results, but before we part with a system which we know, and which we feel is perfectly safe, we should be convinced of the advantages of any other system we are asked to substitute for it. A point which has already been touched upon, but which will bear repeating, is that there is, at the present time, no British community in which this system of proportional voting is in existence. The only instance we have of its adoption by a British community, is that of Tasmania, and it has been frequently pointed out during this discussion that Tasmania has discarded the system.
– It was a success there all the same.
-If we are to believe the evidence presented to us, I do not think it was a success. If it was, we may suppose that the people of Tasmania, having had experience of a good thing, would insist that the law should not be changed.
– They have done so through the press.
– While we have Senator O’Keefe saying that it was a success, we have Senator Clemons saying that it was not, and has therefore been changed. In view of the fact that no other British community has adopted this system, we should be careful before engrafting it upon our electoral law. I do not mean that the Senate should infer from that that because a system is new it is therefore bad. If that were the principle adopted, not only with regard to this measure,but with regard to other matters, there would be no progression in the world at all.
– There would be no ballot.
– The question of the ballot is altogether different from this question of proportional voting. The advantage of the ballot was not arguable, and there was no difficulty about its adoption, but Senator Sargood cannot say the same with respect to proportional voting, upon which even the advocates of the system are not agreed. Only this afternoon the PostmasterGeneral made a statement with regard to this Bill, which was subsequently referred to by Senator Millen, who showed that the Postmaster-General was wrong, and when an appeal” was made to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, that honorable and learned senator said that Senator Millen was right.
– Senator O’Connor had not heard what Senator Millen was saying.
– Then if I may be pardoned for saying so, the Vice-President of the Executive Council was very foolish to make such a statement without reserve when he did not know what Senator Millen was speaking about. I have said that the Bill is a very complicated one. We have in it a system that gives an elector one vote, and five preferences where there are six members to be elected, and one vote and two preferences where there are three members to be elected. That is altogether opposed to the electoral system as we know it. I believe it to be a destructive proposal, and one which will not work out in the way some honorable senators think it will. We are told that we ought not to look at it from a selfish point of view, but that we ought to look at it broadly. No doubt these exhortations are very good ; but we must admit that we look at these things from our own particular stand-point, and if we do not fully understand the purport of a Bill of this character, which it is admitted may be improved by further discussion, and if members of the Senate are not prepared to take this leap in the dark, they cannot be blamed for asking that there shall be further discussion upon it. Although the friends of the Bill have said a great deal in favour of proportional voting we find that the Bill itself destroys its own system. I could understand that if the Bill carried out in its entirety the principle of proportional voting, as advocated by Professor Nanson, Mr. Hare, and the other authorities upon this question, there would not be so much to cavil at, but the very principle advocated by these authorities is destroyed in the Bill which is presented to us. We are told that under this system electors can plump, but what will be the effect of that ? If sections of the electors do plump, as they naturally will, to secure the return of their own particular candidate, what will be the value of the proportional system under these circumstances ? The same objection will apply to the, proposal for the contingent vote.
– The schedule provides for that contingency.
– It provides for that, and for a good deal more, which I think honorable senators do not entirely follow. I admit that I do not follow a good deal which is in the schedule, because it is too complicated. I was pointing out that the Bill destroys the principle to which it proposes to give effect. If we allow plumping for candidates under this Bill, the result will be that each particular section” will vote for its own candidate, and all the fine theories advanced with regard to proportional voting will not be demonstrated, because the various sections will be sure that their own man is safe before they vote for any one else. The result will be what it has been in connexion with contingent voting in Queensland, and so far as proportional voting is concerned the Bill will remain a dead letter ; we shall have made no advance in our electoral system, and we shall find that it would have been better to have left it alone. Then we are told, in respect to its operation, that there is no heed for the average voter to understand the principles that underlie it so far as proportional representation is concerned. We are told that he has simply to take his ballotpaper, mark his straight-out preference for the candidate he thinks most suitable, and then his second, third, fourth, and fifth preference, and the matter ends so far as he is “concerned, and the returning officer and those under him will finish the election. I think it would be unwise to pass a Bill of this character, because every elector, when called upon to exercise his vote, should, understand what he is doing. I again repeat that there is no call for this Bill from the .State of Victoria. There are a number of enthusiasts in this community who have advocated a measure of this description for many years, but the fact that a similar Bill was once before the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and did not become law, is a proof that such a Bill is not required here. While this Bill is not required for the purpose of securing proportional Voting, I admit that there are in it many improvements upon the machinery of our existing electoral law.We have varying electoral systems in operation in the Commonwealth, and it should, be the desire of members of this Federal Parliament to secure a uniform electoral system. I am prepared to do what I can to bring the machinery of our electoral laws up to date. I think it necessary that that should be done before the next federal election, and as this Bill, apart from the provisions with respect to proportional voting, is strictly a Bill for consideration in committee, I shall be prepared to do my part in endeavouring to make it a workable measure.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcgregor) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020305_senate_1_8/>.