1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Glassey) -
That leave of absence for the rest of the session be granted to Senator Ferguson on account of urgent private business.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Charleston) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice-
– The Minister for Defence has no information on the subject.
Bill presented by Senator O’Connor, and read a first time.
In Committee: - (Consideration of message of House of Representatives resumed from 3rd April, vide page 11328.)
Any officer in the general division who shall have served for three years, and shallhaveat- tained the age of 21 years, shall be paid a salary of not less than £110. per annum, provided that he satisfies the commissioner that he is capable of doing the work of an office to which such salary isattached.
– In consequence of the ruling of the Chairman, which was confirmed by the President, that it is not competent lor us at this stage to effect the object desired in the way we proposed, I intend to move an amendment which I think will have practically the same effect. It will be more favorable to the officers than the proposal which was ruled out oforder last night. I propose to ask the committee to insist upon its amendment with the following amendments : to omit the words “ he satisfies “ and to insert after “commissioner.’’ the word “ certifies,” and then after the word “attached” to add the following words : -
But any such officer who shall have served for five years, and shall have attained the age of 21. yearsshall be paid a salary of not less than £110- per annum without any such certificate.
If the clause is amended in that way an officer who is 31 years of age and who has been in the service for five years, will be absolutely entitled to got the minimum salary of £110 without any examination or certificate, but in the case of an officer who has been less than five years in the service, and who has attained the age of 21 years, it will be necessary to obtain the certificate of the Commissioner. I think that this is a very fair compromise to suggest to the other House. In the first instance I move -
That the amendment of the Senate to which the HouseofRepresentatives has disagreed be insisted on with the following amendment, viz. - to omit “ he satisfies,” and insert after “commissioner “ the word “ certifies.’’
SenatorMILLEN (New South Wales).This new development suggests a “straining at the gnat and swallowing tile camel.” Yesterday the Postmaster-General was quite content to have a somewhat similar proviso struck out with regard to the clerical division, If the committee is content to yield to the views of the other House so far as the clerical division is concerned, and to adopt a minimum wage without any proviso, surely in the general division the reasons for doing that are very much stronger. .
– In the clerical division we have the provision still - if hesatisfies the commissioner.
– It was struck out
– He has to satisfy the commissioner by passing an examination.
– The examination becomes an absolute farce. It simply means that we give the minimum wage without any effective restriction. Surely in the general division, so far as I understand the character of the work to be performed, there is still less necessity for any restriction on the minimum wage. I propose to vote for the retention of our amendment, but if it is not retained, I prefer that we should adopt the suggestion of the other House rather than the further proposal of Senator Drake, which 1 regard as an attempt to retain the shadow while we have lost the substance.
– Under no circumstances could I vote for leaving the clause without any qualification. It is hardly faircriticism for Senator Millen to say that in the clerical division there is practically no restriction. The difference between passing an examination and satisfying the commissioner is the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. Which is the more favorable to the officer I hardly know ; it all depends on how it is administered. I can quite understand that the prescribed examination can be made so high that it may be almost better than to require the officer to satisfy the commissioner.
– An examination so framed would never be allowed to stand, judging by the speeches we have heard on the point.
– That to some extent is true, but at the same time in the clerical division the prescribed examination might be made something more than nominal to a man who was not an arithmetician. The other House insisted so far as it could upon retaining the examination. I shall follow the example of Senator Millen and vote for being loyal to our amendment, but if we are beaten in that respect, I think that Senator Drake has suggested a way out of the difficulty. To some extent his proposal is loyal to the determination of the committee to have some restriction, and, on the other band, it goes a considerable distance towards meeting the view of another place. If we are beaten in the effort to retain our amendment, I should prefer ‘the term ‘to be fixed at seven years rather than five years. The members of the labour party want a minimum wage pure and simple without any qualification, whereas the Senate by a majority has said that it wants a minimum wage with some reasonable amount of efficiency. Which is the fair and right thing towards the taxpayers, the civil service, and the States we are here to protect 1 Is it to be a high minimum wage pure and simple, without regard to anything except that the officer is a man or a woman who is 31 years of age and has served for a certain term, or iti it to be & generous minimum wage with a reasonable amount of efficiency 1 I was rather amused at what fell from Senator Glassey last night. He seems to regard himself as counsel for the plaintiff. He has taken under his wing the civil servants, including the young ladies in the poet - office, and he is their most strenuous and able advocate. But he quite forgot while he was arguing the case for the plaintiff that there are defendants. The defendants are the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. My honorable friend Senator Glassey had such a bad case that he did nothing but abuse the other side. He said that our treatment of the civil service was unfair, unjust, inequitable, and monstrous. I contend that he had no right to use any such language. No State has been in the habit of treating its civil service in the manner so ably but so erroneously described by my honorable friend.
– What about the letter canners in New South Wales?
– If my honorable friend will dissect the return, it will be found to be very misleading. Some of the civil servants of that State are doing very inferior work, which, if it is worth a little more than £30 or £40 a year,, is certainly not worth £2 3s. a week. In the clerical division there are scores of posts which are not and never will be worth £2 2s. a week. Do we not in all the relationships of life meet men and women who have to serve in the humblest possible capacity, and is it contended that £3 2s. a week, which is more than is earned by one-half of the bread-winners in the island State, is not too much to pay to them 1
– An Arbitration Act is needed in Tasmania, evidently.
– Honorable senators talk of men getting £90 a’ year, after’ having been many years in the service, bat I dare say that if we went to their homes it would be found that many of them are ‘ a credit to their occupants, who do not gamble or drink, are content with the low’ salaries they receive, and have been retained at such salaries, year after year, at their; own request. We have heard of messengers who ought to have retired at the age of eighteen, but who have been retained as -a favour, thinking perhaps that they were not capable of getting on in life, or being too indolent to get on.
– Does Hie honorable and learned senator know that that is what has occurred in New South Wales 1 The inhumanity of turning these lads out of the service was urged during the discussions in the State Parliament.
– Quite so. Theseboys ought to go about their business, because there is no more room for them ; but because they have not got the courage, or have not the aptitude, or because they have wives, and cannot afford the risk, they ask tol be kept on in inferior positions. I deny the right of my honorable friends to say that these men have been treated with injustice and unfairness. We have broken our rules in order to keep them in their positions where they ought not to have been kept, out of nothing bub kindness and generosity to th©_3 I deny that sweating exists in the service. I also deny that £2 3a. a week is a minimum wage. It is a very fair and a generous wage, ind in some cases absolutely an extravagant and unjustifiable wage for the work done. Iff we have work to be done which is worth £1 or 80s., or 85s. a week, why should we throwoverboard the interests of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and economic laws, and say that every mau and woman” shall get the £2 2s. a week 1 A minimum wage on this principle is absolutely opposed to all economic law and to the finest principles of human nature. Honorable senators are trying to drag all civil servants up to a general levels and to one uniform standard. They are trying to turn them all into machines by means of an Act which Bays that every young man or woman, no matter whether they get on well or ill in the service, or whether they are efficient, or lazy and inefficient, shall get £2 2s. a week. I honestly believe that we are making a terrible blunder, and that honorable senators opposite are only acting as counsel for the plaintiff, and shutting their eyes to the fact that there are other people in the community besides civil servants, and that there are economic laws. If we ignore those laws our .sins will come home to roost some day. It is because these conditions tire being absolutely ignored that I feel deeply on the subject. I believe that by this provision we shall rob our young people of their individuality, and their desire to get on. Unfortunately the Government are too apt to regard a majority in another place as final upon any question, and when we desire to do justice to all classes of the community, we find that the opportunity of doing as we ought to do is gone. I shall vote for our own amendment, and if that is defeated, for the amendment of the Postmaster-General.
– I would remind my honorable and learned friend, Senator Dobson, that we are now at a crucial stage of this question, and that unless we settle it in n practical manner, we may lose a Bill without which the public service throughout Australia must remain in a very unsatisfactory condition. It is impossible to have that uniformity and to do that justice to officers in the different States occupying similar positions, which we aH admit ought to be brought about, without the passage of this Bill. As a net result of the discussions which have taken place elsewhere,, the House of Representatives has agreed to 47 of our amendments, has agreed to four with amendments, and disagreed with ten. Unless both Houses are brought into agreement, this legislation must fall to the ground. How are we to bring about an agreement? The Government have fought as hard as possible to make the giving of the minimum wage a matter within the discretion of the commissioner. Wo have been defeated on that. But we carried a proviso, which was a fair compromise, to the effect that the commissioner should be satisfied that the officer was capable of doing the work. The House of Representatives however insisted upon the clause as it come up to us. It is clear that if we go on insisting upon our view, and they go on insisting upon theirs, the Bill must drop. There are cases in which no matter what the consequences may be, it is the duty of the Senate to stand out for its particular view. The question is whether this is one of those cases, and whether it is right for us in the public interest, and in the interest of the civil servants throughout the Commonwealth, who have rights which cannot be adjusted until this Bill is passed, to take up any such position. I say we should not do so. Our objection to the clause as carried by another place, was that it would involve a very large expenditure almost immediately. If we can extend the period from three years to five, the financial strain will be very much minimized. I therefore urge the committee to adopt the course suggested by the Postmaster-General. Senator Dobson is a man of practical affairs, who has hod the responsibility of conducting the government of a State. I appeal to him to realize that we have to deal with a practical piece of work, and that the time has gone by for discussing this matter as one of principle. I trust that the compromise suggested will be accepted, as this is the only question which is likely to stand in the way of an absolute agreement between the two Houses.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the fallowing words be added to the Senate’s amendment : - “ but any such officer who shall have served for five years, and shall have attained the ago of 21 years, shall be pud a salary of not less than £110 per annum without any such certificate.”
– I wish to point out that we have now an opportunity of making a final attempt to obtain what I certainly should have voted for if I had been able to do so when the Bill was first discussed, and that is a minimum wage pure and simple, without any of the restrictions insisted upon when the Bill was previously in committee. We can either vote now for the amended amendment, or decide that the amendment of the Senate be not insisted upon. If the latter course be adopted, the clause will stand in the form in which it reached us originally, and an officer in the general division who attains the age of 21 years, and has served three years, will be entitled to receive a salary of £110 without any restriction whatever. A good deal has been said on the question of a man’s capacity to perform his work, and the reluctance of the officer in charge of his department to dispense with his services if they are unsatisfactory. That reluctance would exist with equal strength even if a certificate were required. I do not suppose that a commissioner would feel the least inclination to refuse any certificate for which he was asked unless there was some grave reason for doing so. It is not my intention to discuss the matter at length, having regard to the fact that it lias already been fully debated ; but I must say that I cannot see that any very great saving, such as that suggested by Senator O’Connor, would arise from the substitution of a five years’ term for a three years’ term of service. It would simply defer for two years an expenditure which must inevitably be incurred. I am not prepared to put off for a further term of two years a payment which I think these officers are entitled to claim at the end of three years’ service.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I cannot see that the insertion of the additional proviso will make any difference in the financial aspect of this question. Senator O’Connor has implied that, as the result of the extension of the requisite term of service from three to five years, there is going to be a saving of some portion of the increased cost involved in this clause. That can only take place on the assumption that a man who cannot obtain a certificate at the end of three years’ service will be retained and will secure it by force of law and not by merit after he has served for five years. Unless any saving is going to be effected it seems to me that the additional words proposed are unnecessary. If a man has been in the service for three years he can only receive the minimum wage as the clause now stands on the certificate of the commissioner. If he receives that certificate no saving can be effected, and he will receive it in any event at the end of a further period of two years. The question is whether or not an officer is entitled to the minimum wage ; if he is the commissioner should issue his certificate; and when lie does so there can be no saving. I propose to vote against the retention of our amendment.
– I intend to vote that the Senate’s amendment be not insisted on. I feel that the attitude taken up by the Ministry in connexion with the minimum wage proposal has been most extraordinary. When the proposal was first made in another place the Ministry adopted it immediately without any restriction. Then the Bill came up to this Chamber, and we were informed that when the Ministry agreed to the provision for a minimum wage in clauses 21 and 25 it was not aware of the enormous expenditure which would be involved, otherwise it would have strenuously opposed its insertion without some qualifying clause. After fighting for a couple of days in the Senate the Government succeeded by a majority of one vote in carrying an amendment, but when the Bill was returned to the House of Representatives it was unanimously decided that the amendment of the Senate should not be- agreed to. We have a Ministry which has practically two policies - a Ministry which seems to follow one school of political thought in one House and another in the other. It is distinctly more liberal in another place than it is in this Chamber, as exemplified by its action in connexion with this very clause. If when the Bill came before us the Ministry had followed the attitude taken up by it in the House of Representatives, this minimum wage clause would have been agreed to, and it is only because of its change of policy that the trouble has occurred. Finding that their original proposal is likely to be lost, Ministers now come forward with afresh proposition to allow the minimum wage to officers who have served five years without any other restriction. It is only by doing away with restrictions that the true principle of the minimum wage can be observed. There can be no minimum wage when the giving of it is subject to the restriction that officers claiming it sholl first satisfy the commissioner. The objection to this liberal clause comes from the Senate, the reason being that here the Ministry is fighting on the conservative side, while in another place we find it on the liberal side.
– The honorable senator has already stated the reasons why the Government changed its position here.
– I am stating the fact that they have adopted a different attitude in this Chamber. I intend to vote that the amendment of the Senate be not insisted on, and if that is lost, I shall vote for the proposal of the Ministry as the better of two propositions. I hope the committee will not insist on the amendment made previously at the instance of the Government, but that they will vote for a minimum wage being granted without any restriction.
– I wish to make a few observations in reply to
Senator Dobson, who seems to take all the States under his wing. I have not the slightest objection to the honorable and learned senator adopting that course so far’ as Tasmania is concerned, seeing that that State lias taken him under its wing for a number of years in a very reasonable and successful way. He says that we have no regard for the taxpayers, when .we propose to take this step of liberality and justice. We have regard for the taxpayers, from whom we are hove with a mandate to insist on the State employes throughout the Commonwealth receiving a fair wage. The question is whether, after having served the reasonable apprenticeship of three years, an employ k of 21 years of age shall receive £110 per annum.
– Whether worth that wage or not ?
– The very fact of the employes performing the work and continuing in their positions, is some proof of their being worth the wage, because, if they were inefficient, -they would not be retained. I shall vote for the minimum being paid after three years service, and if that proposal be defeated, I shall, of course, vote with the Ministry, making the best of the position. It is not wise for the two Houses to come into conflict on matters which cannot be described as of immense moment, and it would be much better if an amicable arrangement could be arrived at. A great number of these men should have received higher salaries years ago. The other day I came across a splendid specimen of manhood in the person of a letter carrier about 24 years of age, and, I believe, a married man, who, after some years service, is receiving the paltry wage of £90 a year. There ore 8001*88 of letter carriers in the different States who are not receiving salaries of £100 or£1 10 ; and I do not think it is fair, in return for the work done, to pay those paltry sums to men and women, the bulk of whom have been in the service for a certain length of time, and are over 21 years of age. It is not unreasonable on the part of the Senate, which represents the whole of the States, to say that the time has arrived when these employes shall receive reasonable remuneration for services performed.
– The amendment of the PostmasterGenera], at first sight, appears to be reasonable in the interest of a redaction in the expenditure, but after all does it not practically mean that at the end of three years we sholl have a certain number of employes who will necessarily want this £110 a year) Those who succeed in, getting the certificate of the commissioner will be paid £110; those who do not succeed, although they have practically been branded as not worth the money, will remain in the service for two years more, und then, without any certificate, will be paid the increment. The financial saving will only be at the cost of retaining for two years more men who are not worth retailing.
– If there is not some amendment, the increments will be paid at the -end of the three years.
– That is why I am in favour of the amendment as originally passed in the House.
– Unfortunately we can.not get that amendment.
– At the same time ib was a reasonable proposal which I regret the other place has not accepted. Under the circumstances I shall fall back with reluctance on the amendment of the Postmaster- General. The. question of a minimum wage has been discussed for a long time, and I cannot agree with Senator Glassey that a man, merely because he has been in a certain position for three years and has attained the age of 21 years, should receive £2 a week. I have always been in favour of employing good men and paying them well, but we all know that there are men who are not worth, and cannot be made worth, £2 a week. We have had the minimum wage in Victoria foi’ some time, and in New Zealand foi’ a great deal longer. I speak from personal knowledge when I say that only a certain amount of expense can be incurred in connexion with the manufacture of any article, and if the wages of the indifferent workman be raised to £2 a week, the better man, who ought to. be earning a good deal more, has to have his wages reduced in order to maintain the average. That is what is happening now, and will continue to happen ; and if the compulsory minimum wage goes on much longer, it will have very serious effects on the manufacturing interests in “Victoria and the other States, and instead of an increase, there will be a elimination of labour. There is a danger that the indifferent workman will not get any employment, because employers will not pay £2 a week to a man who isonly worth from 30s. to 36s., and who may be quite willing to take the latter wage. Then, the indifferent workman has no incentive to do better work, and the better class man, who in the past has earned a good deal more, feels disappointed and disheartened, and the value of the product is decreased. In the interests of the workmen themselves we should deal with this question with very great care. I acknowledge that “ a living wage “ is a taking cry ; but what is a living wage for one man is a good deal more than a living wage for another.
– In my opinion the original amendment should have been insisted on. The position at present is that we have either to agree with the Government proposal for what it is worth, or accept the view of the other House. I deeply regret that we were not successful with our original amendment. I do not agree that the Government have been guilty of inconsistency, because throughout they have supported the principle of the minimum wage. By a narrow majority the proposal of the other House was struck out, and, according to my recollection, the Government made their proposal, which was accepted by this Chamber, but dissented from elsewhere.
– There was only one amendment - that of the Government - which was carried by a majority of seven Id this Chamber.
– The amendment was mine, and it was adopted by the Government.
– I understand that the original proposal of the other House was rejected, and thata modus vivendi was agreed to by a considerable majority. However, it is a matter of small consequence how the present position arose. We have to say whether we shall agree to what the other House has done, or agree to such qualifications as the Ministry seek to impose. As I have said, I foil to see any inconsistency on the part of the Government, and I only wish the Ministry had always taken the view that in the long run the minimum wage would work out badly. By a majority of seven this Chamber left it, not as a matter of law, but as a matter of choice on the part of the Government, whether the minimum wage be paid or not. We hove heard many references to clause 46, or some other clause which gives power to control and limit the number of incompetent men employed.
– The clause gives power only to dismiss incompetent men when the incompetency is within their own control; the natural fool cannot be dismissed.
– The question is whether the minimum wage will work out in the interests of the employe’. No doubt the application of the principle will depend on the financial position -from time to time. If there be plenty of money, we shall probably find that by the combined operation of the two provisions theresults will be pretty much what they areat present. All legislation of this kind gives an invitation to the general public to prefer Government service to any other. It never can work in the long run. Ultimately all these regulations to make astupid man as clever as an able man, and a lazy man as industrious as a hard-working man, will, by the mere process of human nature, be thrown adrift, and we shall go back to the good, common sense of the people which, after all, is superior to all statutes. I make this final protest against a line of legislation which, if carried out in the letter of the statute, will be just another aggravation of the wrongs which federation threatens to do, and which, if not so carried out, will be a reproach to those who passed a provision which never can be enforced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Further amendment of amendment agreed to.
Question - That the amendment of the Senate as amended be insisted on - put. The committee divided -
Noes……… … 14
Majority … … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment, as amended, not insisted on.
New clause 35a. (Persons in naval or military service eligible for appointment to general division).
– The other House has disagreed to our amendment inserting this new clause, because it -
Wouldgive an undue preference to persons in naval or military service over the general public.
When it was proposed by Senator Sargood I expressed the opinion that it was a very good provision. If we are going to have a citizen defence force it is desirable that some preference should be given to men who serve their country in that capacity. Seeing that throughout the Bill we recognise that a man who is in the service of the Commonwealth shall have a preference over those who are not in its service, it is only reasonable that we should extend that principle to those men who serve their country ina military capacity. At all events something should be done to encourage young men to enlist for the defence of Australia. I have read the debates on the subject in the other House, and I do not think that any strong case was made out to show that any undue preference was being shown towards these men. The new clause was inserted here by a considerable majority, and I think it should be sent back to the other House so ‘that it may be reconsidered. I move -
That the amendment of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed, be insisted on.
Question - That the amendment of the Senate be insisted on - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 10
Noes … … … 11
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment not insisted on.
Clause 50 (Appeals).
– As this clause stood originally, any officer who felt dissatisfied with any report or recommendation affecting his position or pay or any promotion or transfer had an appeal to the commissioner. Some dissatisfaction was expressed with that provision, and a proposal was made that an appeal should be had to a board consisting of certain persons who were to be appointed in some way which was not defined. All the words of the clause excepting the first two words “ any officer “ were struck out, and on recommital a clause beginning with those two words was inserted to provide for an appeal board, consisting of three persons, to take appeals in certain cases. The other House has disagreed to our amendment because it -
Is unnecessary, and interferesunduly with the power of the commissioner.
Although the Government took action in the direction of having this amendment drafted, in order to meet the views expressed by the majority of honorable senators, I still hold to the opinions I entertained in the first place, that the proposal is extremely cumbersome and unnecessary. I believe in the appeal to the commissioner as originally proposed. I move -
That the amendment of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed be not insisted on.
– I hope that the committee will insist upon this amendment. I am rather surprised at the attitude of the Government, considering that they drafted the amendment in question and voted for it in the Senate,* If this provision is struck out there will be no board to which an officer who feels aggrieved by the attitude towards him of the chief officer of the department, can appeal. It is true that he can appeal to the commissioner, but what we desire is that the commissioner shall have before him proper evidence taken locally. One of the first works to be done if this Bill is passed will be to reclassify the service As there are 11,000 employes of the Commonwealth it is absolutely impossible, however carefully the commissioner and his inspectors may do their work, that some injustices will not be perpetrated. An appeal board such as this will be able to collect evidence on the spot and transmit it to the commissioner, who will then have an opportunity of determining whether or not an injustice has been done. One of the strong arguments in favour of the amendment is that injustices are often done to public servants in regard to exchanges from one locality to another. In Western Australia thereare cases of officers who have been five or ten years in out-of-the-way places, hundreds of miles from the nearest railway station, and who have not tasted fresh milk and fresh vegetables during the whole of that time. The conditions of life at these places ore so hard that officers situated in the metropolis have preferred to leave the service than be sent there. If officers are treated unfairly in being kept for an undue time at such places they should be able to appeal, and have evidence taken locally and sent to the commissioner, who would then be able to give a fair and impartial decision. I know of a case in Western Australia, of a postmaster who was sent to one of these back-block places shortly after he was married. His wife and children are ill on account of the rigours of the climate, but he has been left there for five or seven years, 200 miles from the nearest railway station. He is desirous of having an exchange, but there is very little chance of that being effected. Then, if a civil servant thought he was entitled to an increase of pay, and that an injustice had been done to him, he would be able to avail himself of the appeal board, and have the evidence transmitted to the commissioner. There are also cases of wrongful dismissal. One case came under my notice where a man was alleged to have been dismissed for purely personal reasons by the head of his department. An officer was sent up to inquire. I heard from the man’s brother officers, who thought his dismissal was an outrage, that they dare not give evidence, that was hostile to the head of the department, to the inspector. One man particularly told me that if he had given such evidence, he was absolutely certain that he would either have been dismissed on a flimsy pretext, or would have been shifted to one of these out-back places which may be described as the Western Australian Siberia, where he would have had to live for the rest of his life. He desired to give truthful evidence, but he had a wife and family to consider, and he said that he recognised that it would be necessary for him either to withhold the evidence he could have given, or to give false evidence, if he wished to retain his position. Such cases have been brought under my own personal observation. An appeal board such as I desire would be able to elicit the full facts, and the head of the department would not be able to give a garbled account to the commissioner, knowing that the final decision would depend upon that account. The amendment was not fairly discussed in the House of Representatives. The House was exhausted after a prolonged debate on another matter at the time it was dealt with. I believe that if honorable members there had read the debates in Hansard, and had taken the trouble to inquire why the amendment was inserted by the Senate, they would not have disagreed with it. The board I desire to have appointed would not interfere with the working of the service, but would facilitate information being collected locally. I, therefore, hope that the Senate will recognise the reasonableness of the amendment, and insist upon its retention.
– I regret that the Government have decided to accept the decision of the House of Representatives upon this point. If the matter had been fairly discussed in another place the House would have come to a different conclusion. I am anxious that the commissioner shall be able to discharge his duties with a perfectly free hand ; but, at the same time, it is necessary that any civil servant who feels himself aggrieved shall have an opportunity of appealing to a fair tribunal. As the Bill stands, without this amendment, if a mistake occurs, there con only be an appeal from the commissioner to the commissioner. On the face of it, the commissioner is not likely to reverse his own decisions. It is a reasonable and fair proposal that an aggrieved officer shall be able to appeal to a body which, after due deliberation and investigation, will be able to transmit its evidence and conclusions to the commissioner. If we leave 11,000 persons, scattered over the enormous area of the Commonwealth, many of them residing in distant parts of the country, without such a body as this to appeal to, we shall leave opportunities for grave injustice to be done. It is unjust to place such a number of persons entirely at the mercy of the commissioner and to allow his decision to be final, when it is quite possible that one-sided evidence may be tendered to him. No man has a better knowledge of the extensive territory of New South Wales than has Senator Millen, and knowing, as he does, the remote places in which officers ore situated there, it must appear to him that if justice is to be obtained there must be some appeal board which will have ears to hear, and, in some instances, a sympathetic heart for persons who must and will feel aggrieved in consequence of wrong evidence being tendered against them to the commissioner. I sincerely hope that the committee will adhere to its amendment. If another place takes a little time to discuss the matter, I feel certain that it will come to the decision that our proposal is a reasonable one.
Question - That the amendment of the Senate be not insisted on - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … …. 8
Noes … … … 15
Majority … … 7
The Governor-General may make after or repeal regulations…..
– I move-
That the amendment of the Semite to omit the words “owing to their situation” be not insisted on.
This is a matter that is hardly worth fighting over. When we were dealing with clause 79 a difference of opinion arose as to the expressions which were used in paragraph (g) in regard to places in respect of which higher rates or allowances should be given. We amended the paragraph by substituting the words “localities where the climatic conditions are severe “ for the words “or near the tropics, or in mountainous localities.” We also struck out the words “owing to their situation,” and substituted the word “exceptionally” for the word “necessarily.” The House of Representatives have not disagreed with any of our amendments in the paragraph, with the exception of the omission of the words “owing, to their situation,” which they have re-inserted. I cannot see that the omission by us of these words affects the meaning of the clause in the slightest, and if the House of Representatives desires to re-insert them we may well allow them to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment not insisted on.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday,9th April.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).May I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he is yet in a position to give us any idea when the Tariff is likely to be presented here? It would be a convenience for honorable senators to have some information in advance on the point.
. - I think the honorable senator will realize that it is impossible for me to give him any indication of the date on which the Tariff will be received here that is likely to be of much service. I have already attempted to prophesy in regard to this matter, and I have met the usual fate of prophets. I do not intend to repeat the experiment. All I can say is that I hope we shall have the Tariff before us within a fortnight.
– I think that it is utterly unnecessary for us to meet next week. The only business which we shall have before us will be the Franchise Sill. I have looked carefully through that measure, and practically I shall support every word of it. It will take very little time to deal with it, and it is a pity that we should be put to inconvenience and expense by being asked to travel 1,000 miles next week for the sake of transacting a few hours’ business. There is no chance of the Tariff reaching the Senate next week, and we might as well adjourn until next Wednesday week.
– If the
Senate has any time at its disposal next week after passing the Franchise Bill, which is a measure of much importance, I think it should devote that time to the consideration of private members’ business.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will agree to the adjournment of the Senate until next Wednesday week. The Government would thus meet the con venience of honorable senators who have to travel from the neighbouring States, and on being brought here we should have some definite work to fully occupy our time.
– Senators other than those who come from the neighbouring States of New South Wales and South Australia have to be considered. There is private members’ business to be dealt with, and also the question of the standing orders ; and any time wasted now will only unduly prolong the session. Senators from Western Australia have been here for twelve months, and it would be unfair to take any course which would have the effect of keeping them from their homes longer than is absolutely necessary.
– To adjourn over next week will not in any way prolong the session.
– It is the intention of the Government to deal with the question of the standing orders.
– Not this session.
– I shall wail to hear the Government’s determination on that point. There is a notice of motion to adopt standing orders temporarily, seeing that the standing orders of the South Australian Parliament have not been found suitable for the different circumstances of this Chamber. There will no doubt be a number of second-reading speeches on the Franchise Bill; and these frequent adjournments oan only tend to. lessen the dignity and prestige of the Senate.
– The adjournments are a protest against the delay in another place.
– We are only “marking time” until the Tariff comes up.
– Nothing of the sort. When the Tariff comes up for consideration, the standing orders will be frequently called into requisition ; and the Senate ought to be afforded an opportunity of considering the adoption of temporary standing orders, in place of those under which weare now working.
– I hope the Government will adhere to their proposal to adjourn until Wednesday next. If the Franchise Bill had been left on the notice-paper of the other House, it would probably have been amongst the “slaughtered innocents,” and its introduction at the present time shows the anxiety of the Government to pass this important legislation. I quite sympathize with the objections which have been raised by Senator Playford, because, no doubt, it is a hardship for that honorable senator and others to have to travel to Adelaide or Sydney, or, as an alternative, to remain in Melbourne three or four days. It would seem, however, that it is not regarded as a hardship that Western Australian senators should have to remain in Melbourne for twelve months.
– We should have been just as far ahead if we had not met this
– I have avery vivid recollection nf members saying, when the Electoral Bill was before us, that that measure had no possible chance of being passed this session. The opponents of the Electoral Bill, if they had . not the capacity, had the desire to prevent its passing.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the Electoral Bill.
– I am only referring to it as an analogy. The
Tariff may reach this House a few days after the proposed extended adjournment, and that would give the obstructionists of the Franchise Bill the opportunity they desire of talking the measure out. This is a measure of great importance, which practically enfranchises one-half of the people of Australia, and some little exertion is warranted in placing it on the statute-book.
Senator O’CONNOR (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council). - No one sympathizes more heartily than myself with the position taken up by Senator Playford, who is one of the most regular attenders, and is always anxious to further the public business. If I could see any possibility, consistently with our duty here, of helping my honorable friend and others similarly circumstanced, I should be very glad. The decision to meet next week was not arrived at on the spur of the moment, but was carefully considered with my colleagues in the other House. We have taken the course I propose for the reason that the Franchise Bill is necessary to complete the electoral legislation, which it is felt can be dealt with in this Chamber. We want to run no risk of the measure not passing this session ; and our only course is to meet next week, and continue until we finish the Bill. It is within the bounds of probability that we shall have the Tariff before us in the following week, and I hope that may be so. The Senate would be in a very serious position if we adjourned until the week after next, and found that, owing to the introduction of the Tariff, we were not able to deal with the Franchise Bill. On the other hand, if the Tariff is not here by that time, it cannot be much longer delayed, and there is other public business which can. very well occupy our time. I am sorry that, however inconvenient it may he to certain honorable senators, I must adhere to the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020404_senate_1_9/>.