1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he can give us any information about a schedule which has been distributed amongst the parliamentary papers this morning? It looks very much like another Supply Bill. It came as a great shock to me, and I shall be very glad if the honorable and learned senator can tell us what it means.
– It is the schedule of a new Supply Bill. That is all I can say.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th June, vide page 13917).
Division V. - Apparel and textiles.
Item 68. - Socks and stockings, cotton, ad valorem, 10 per cent
Upon which Senator Sir Josiah Symon had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 68, on and after 1st July, 1902, by omitting the word “cotton.”
– I desire to amend the motion so as to make it read as follows : -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 68, on and after 1st July, 1902, by omitting the word “cotton “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “except silk or containing silk.”
Motion amended accordingly.
– As the item stands, cotton socks and stockings are charged with a duty of 10 per cent. Woollen and silk stockings would come in under item 58, the committee has suggested that the duty should be 20 per cent. The effect of my motion would be to leave silk goods at the higher- rate of 20 per cent. and to allow woollen goods to be imported at the rate of 10 per cent. That is the rate which prevailed in South Australia on all kinds of hosiery of that description, and as it was an ad valorem rate it was found excellent for purposes of revenue and did not add unnecessarily to the cost of the articles. There is no reason why articles of this kind, made of wool, should not be kept at as low a rate of duty as possible, so as to encourage the use of them in preference to cotton, which is not so good an article of wear, especially in the winter time. People who want to wear silk hosiery may very well be called upon to pay a higher rate of duty, and 20 per cent. upon that class of goods is not too much. But there is no reason why these articles when made of wool should not be taxed at as low a rate as cotton goods.
. -I trust that the committee will not accept the motion. As the Tariff stands now, woollen piece goods are charged at 15 per cent., and woollen apparel at 20 per cent. It is under the heading of apparel that woollen socks and stockings as well as silk socks and stockings would come in. Why should they not remain in that position ? This is a special line for socks and stockings, cotton, 10 per cent. It is put in the Tariff for the same reason that cotton piece goods are put in at 5 per cent., because the raw material is not manufacturedhere, and cottons are the raw material of other manufactures. But that consideration does not apply to woollen socks and stockings. What is the use of imposing a duty of 15 per cent. on raw woollen material, and giving a protection to the manufacturer by charging 20 per cent. on made-up goods, if we admit woollen socks and stockings at the lower rate of 10 per cent.? Senator Symon admits that silk socks and stockings must come in at the higher rate. A further objection to the motion is that if it is carried we shall lose revenue.
– The alteration proposed seems to me to be one that it is desirable to make, because socks and stockings are clearly articles which, in their cheaper form, ought not be made dearer to the masses of the people.
Question put. The committe divided -
Ayes … … … 12
Noes … … … 10
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 69 (Tents. &c.) and 70 (Trimmings, &c.) agreed to.
Item 71. - Yarns, partly or wholly of wool, ad valorem, 10 per cent.
– I move-
That, the House of Representatives be requestedto amend item 71 by adding the words ; - “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, 5 per cent.”
When I first proposed to take this action, it was my desire that yarns which came in unmanufactured, and were in the grease, should be admitted free. Since giving notice of this motion I have found that there are other interests affected. A good many of the yarns imported at the present time are manufactured and ready for the weavers, who knit stockings, and I do not think that it is our duty to admit articles of that description free. Therefore, I propose that there shall be an all round duty of 5 per cent. Yarns were previously admitted free in Victoria, New South Wales, and Canada. I find that hosiery yarns cannot be made here profitably owing to the small quantity and the many varieties used. Another difficulty is that a great deal of machinery is required in their manufacture, eight or ten different varities of yarns being used in the making of hosiery, apart altogether from those employed in the manufacture of cloth. There are practically three trades connected with the manufacture of worsted yarns, and there is a good deal of spepializing in the work. In the first place, there is the top maker who buys the wool and sells it to the spinner. The buying of the wool and its proper classification for hosiery purposes is practically a business in itself, considerable skill being necessary in making a selection. After the top maker has classified the yarns he sends them on to the dyer, whose business is also a delicate one, and in the old country is practically a separate trade. After the yarns have been dyed they are sent on to the spinner, who turns them into the manufactured article for the hosiery maker. The position in regard to yarns required for the manufacture of cloth is the same. If the duty is reduced as proposed, the local manufacturers of cloth will be benefited. At present there are nine woollen mills in Victoria, in addition to a number in other States ; but, so far as I can ascertain, the Ballarat Woollen Mills Company is the only one which spins yarns. It uses these yarns for its own purposes, and the machinery with which it makes them was paid for out of bonuses given by the Government for the manufacture of cloth. The remaining woollen mills which are producing cloth in Victoria desire that yarns shall be admitted free, but there are other interests involved, and in view of the large proportion which are imported in a manufactured state, I consider that, from the stand-point of revenue, the Government are entitled to some consideration. It was particularly on behalf of those engaged in the making of hosiery that I was led to table this motion. I have here a hosiery yarn which was imported in the grease, and is not dyed. One or two manufacturers, including the Victorian Hosiery Company at Richmond, dye these yarns and sell them to the trade. In Victoria the hosiery trade was protected for some time by a duty of 35 per cent., and subsequently by differential duties, ranging from 25 per cent. to 20 per cent. In 1900, according to the Victorian factory returns, there were nine factories here, employing 231 people; while in 1901 there were twelve factories, employing 273 persons. This does not show the total number or persons engaged in the industry, for many people work at home, and, as four employes are not engaged in their establishments, they cannot be classified as factories under the Victorian Act. From inquiries made from warehousemen, as well as firms who dye yarns, I learn that there are something like 250 people who buy yarns imported in the grease and dyed here. A new knitting machine, which is being sold at prices ranging from £8 upwards, has recently been brought into extensive use in Victoria. The makers of hosiery sell direct to the consumers, as well as to shopkeepers and warehousemen, and these knittingmachines are to be seen at work in small shops in the suburbs, as well as in large towns in Victoria. The tendency here, as in England, seems to be to return from the factory to the primitive system of home manufacture, and as some of these knittingmachines are small, they are generally worked by women. Socks, jerseys, and combinations - as well as underwear for men and women - are made by them, and in view of the position of the industry, as well as of its probable expansion, we should give it some consideration. I have ascertained that the two or three local firms which import yarns in the grease, and convert them into the manufactured article for the trade, cannot supply the demand, and, consequently, a large quantity are brought in in a manufactured state, and supplied direct to the knitter. Therefore, the question of revenue deserves some consideration from me as well as from other honorable senators, and I think that a duty of 5 per cent. should be imposed on all yarns. The industry provides a great deal of agreeable employment for women, and is capable of much expansion. In these circumstances I hope that the committee will agree to the motion.
– There is no doubt that this duty was imposed for the purpose of giving proper protection to local makers of yarns. I can realize, however, that there is a good deal in what the honorable senator has said from one point of view. It may be that small manufacturers are placed in a difficult position. There is only one local factory which can supply them with yarns, and it might supply them with what it pleased, or with an insufficient variety. For these reasons, as yarns are the raw material of the industry, I think there is a good deal to be said in favour of the honorable senator’s motion, although I do not propose to consent to it.
– I should like to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether I shall have an opportunity of moving that yarns be free?
– If the motion is negatived the honorable and learned senator will have an opportunity of doing so.
– I shall do the best I can to obtain the remission of the duty ; but of course if I do not succeed I shall have to accept the proposed reduction to 5 per cent. As to the revenue aspect of the item I would point out that the figures for the last two months show that it is utterly unimportant. There were no estimates supplied in regard to this item by the Government ; but if any one looks up the revenue collected from it during the last two months, he will find that it is ridiculously small. We have always been told that honorable senators of the Opposition are not particularly concerned about the welfare of any industry in theCommonwealth. In dealing with this item an opportunity is given me to show that I am anxious to help one of the chief industries in the Commonwealth. Irefer to the woollen industry. If we make yarns free, we shall do more to help that industry, than by adding 10 per cent. to the 15 per cent. of so-called protection which it receives already. I have been informed by those who can speak with authority, that one of the chief obstacles to the woollen industry in Australia is that it cannot turn out a variety of materials, because those engaged in the trade are short of proper yarns. A further important consideration is that although a certain quantity of yarns is manufactured locally, there has always been a deficiency in regard to the dyeing of them.When these yarns are used in the manufacture of socks or stockings, it is invariably found that the quality of the made-up article is inferior, because the dye is bad. For these reasons I am prepared to do my utmost to secure the free admission of yarns. I believe that every woollen industry will be advantaged if we do so, and as we have reduced the duty on woollen socks and stockings to 10 per cent., we should show our anxiety to help an industry which is worthy of help by remitting this duty. I am extremely sorry that I have not had an opportunity of moving in the direction I have indicated.
Motion agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Item 72. - Ammunition, namely, shot, bullets, and slugs, per cwt.,5s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 72, by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, Shot free.”
My reason for the motion is one which will commend itself to the judgment of honorable senators. In division 16, item 136, I find that ammunition and cartridges are made free of duty, and as shot is the raw material of the cartridge industry, by imposing a duty upon shot we shall be penalizing a very extensive industry for the benefit of what is only a small industry. There are only one or two factories making shot, while the business of the manufacture of cartridges is a widespread and important one employing a good many people. It is simply ludicrous that those engaged in making cartridges in Australia should be subjected to a duty of £5 per ton upon shot, whilstcartridges manufactured abroad may be imported free. I make the following extract from a letter addressed by a a manufacturer in Adelaide to a member of the Senate : -
I wish to draw your attention to the fact that serious injury will be done to a business that I have conducted for the past 28 years if loaded shot gun cartridges are allowed to remain on the free list, and if at the same time on one of the principal component parts, namely, shot, a customs duty of £5 is to be levied. Under existing circumstances I may import any quantity of shot in loaded cartridges free of duty, but to secure the shot to load the cartridges here, I must pay £5 per ton. To put the position more vividly, I may import, say, 1,000 tons of foreign shot in foreign loaded cartridges, and yet should have to pay £5,000 for the liberty to land the same quantity of shot here to load the cartridges locally.
For many reasons, I think it is desirable that we should continue to import cartridges free, but if we are to have free cartridges it is manifestly clear that we must have free shot. Cartridges are used largely by farmers and settlers for the destruction of vermin, and, in addition to that, every one desires that there shall be no obstacles placed in the way of opportunities being afforded for the practice of shooting. I trust that the committee will consider these substantial reasons in support of the motion.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - In discussing the question of the dutyupon shot we are bound to have consideration for item 136, under which cartridges are admitted free. Considering the two items together, it is evident that we may make an improvement in this Tariff in one of two ways : either as Senator Pulsford has suggested, by making shot free ; or, as I personally would prefer, by putting a duty upon cartridges. I recognise that there is a certain amount of force in the contention that cartridges are used for the purpose of killing vermin, but I think that vermin, and other pests, are more generally ‘destroyed by poisoning and trapping, than by shooting, and I cannot help recognising the fact that by admitting cartridges free, we are exempting sportsmen from taxation. If Senator O’Connor will indicate that, if the duty of 5s. per cwt. is allowed to remain upon shot, he will put a fair revenue duty upon cartridges, I should be prepared to accept item 72 as it stands. I prefer that to making shot free.
– I take the same view of this matter as Senator Clemons, and I am prepared to resist the motion that shot’ be made free, with a view of moving for the imposition of a duty upon cartridges when we get to item 136. I know that Senator O’Connor has signified his intention of adhering to the Tariff as it stands, but the honorable and learned senator must admit that, if there is an anomaly in the Tariff, this is it ; because whilst the finished article is being admitted free> a duty is being imposed on the raw material. In addition to that, sporting material is certainly a fair subject for duty. As one who has had some experience in using all kinds of cartridges, I can say that a very small proportion of the cartridges imported are used for the purpose of destroying vermin. If there is a section of the community who can afford to pay a little extra taxation it is’ the sportsmen, who are always prepared to buy any new kind of sporting powder directly it comes out. “We have now ballastite cannonite, and amberite taking the place of the white powders, which, a few years ago, took the place of the old black powders. I would point out that it is not the expensive powders which are used in the manufacture of cartridges that ave usually employed for the destruction of vermin, but the very cheapest kind of powder, and it would be possible to make a distinction between cartridges made of black powder, and of powder other than black powder.
– That would only lead to complications.
– Personally, I cannot see where the complications would come in, because the duty would be an ad valorem duty, and cartridges made of black powder might be placed upon the free list. It would be a simple matter for a Customs officer to open a cartridge, and persons endeavouring to import the expensive cartridges free could be penalized for their attempted fraud. I hope the committee will allow the duty upon shot to remain, and will impose a duty upon ammunition and cartridges in item 136.
– It is quite true that, in the Tariff as it stands, in connexion with these items, there is an anomaly, but it did not exist in the Tariff as originally introduced. There are two ways of removing the anomaly : by putting shot on the free list, as Senator Pulsford proposes, or by removing ammunition and cartridges, in item 136 from the free list. I understand that the reason given for putting ammunition and cartridges on the exemption list, was that it would .be a great tax upon settlers to have to pay duty upon cartridges used in the destruction of vermin. I understand also that the exemption was carried in another place by an overwhelming majority. If, therefore, we want a practical way out of the difficulty, which will meet the wish of the majority in both Houses, Senator Pulsford’s suggestion should be accepted. But, if that suggestion is accepted, we shall deprive the manufacturers of shot of a certain amount of protection which they get now.
– There are fifteen of them, all told.
– Under the circumstances there is no reason why the matter should not be settled in this way. I feel that as there are interests involved on both sides, and as the interests of the shot manufacturers have been considered in the alterations made in the Tariff in another place, it is my duty to stand by the Tariff as it is. But if the committee should decide that item 72 shall remain as it is, I shall move, when we come to item 1 36, that the exemption, covering ammunition and cartridges, be struck out. On the other hand, if the committee decide to put shot on the free .list, I shall not interfere with the later item. So far as I am concerned, for the present, I stand by the Tariff as it is.
– I hope the item we are now discussing will be carwed as it stands, and that when we come to item 136 a small duty will be placed upon ammunition and cartridges. A number of persons have had investments in the industry for the manufacture of cartridges f or ti very long time, and there is a considerable number of persons employed in the industry. I may also say that I understand that the price of cartridges has not been increased since the establishment of the local industry. As far as the destruction of vermin is concerned, we do not now use the gun to kill rabbits in Queensland, Victoria, or Kew South Wales. Rabbits are shot for sport, but the numbers are kept down in Victoria by trapping, which is a profitable industry. In Queensland and New South Wales they are destroyed by poison, and by digging over the ground and swamping the rabbits in their holes. So far as I can judge, there is no necessity to consider the item from the point of view of the destruction of rabbits. I shall vote for a small duty on cartridges because I will not assist in doing injury to an industry if I can avoid it. ‘ ‘
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- I cannot vote for Senator Pulsford’s proposal because it would be unfair. Senator Sargood has said, by way of interjection, that there are only fifteen makers of shot in the Commonwealth. I think there must be more than that, because there are two shot makers in Victoria alone. I saw a letter a day or two ago from the firm of Mcllwraith and Company, Little Collinsstreet, Melbourne, wherein a statement was made to a member of the State Legislature that if the duty on shot was satisfactorily settled, they would erect a shot tower in Sydney, having all the necessary plant. The firm in question are manufacturers of lead goods. It would be unwise, from a protective point of view, to remove the duty upon shot. Another aspect of the matter is the labour point of view. It is an anomaly to allow shot to be imported in cartridges, and give no protection to the hundreds of people who, are employed in cartridge making throughout the .Commonwealth. Every storekeeper and ironmonger is engaged to some extent in putting up cartridges containing shot. We ought to protect them, and not .allow sporting cartridges to come in free of duty from other parts of the world. The best way out of the difficulty would be to retain the duty on shot, and when we come to sporting cartridges to carry out Senator Eraser’s suggestion and put a small duty on them.
– A point of view to which I have not heard reference made is that the raw material of this industry is produced in. New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia. A considerable number of men are employed in producing lead in a variety of forms, shot being one. Suppose also that we protected the unfortunate people who meet with accidents because they “ didn’t know it was loaded “ 1 There would be no harm in putting a stiff duty on cartridges and shot. If boys who are not big enough to handle guns had difficulties put in their way there would be fewer accidents. We need not import one single farthing’s worth of shot. In addition to that consideration, all the lead made into shot is carried over the State railways, and the industry gives employments our people and keeps money in the country.
– I have been waited upon by representatives of the trade who informed me that there are only fifteen persons employed in shot manufacture, although, as Senator Barrett has very properly observed, there are hundreds all over the country who are engaged in filling cartridges at odd times. The makers inform me that if shot is allowed to come in free they will be able to hold their own against the imported article. Some of the largest gun-makers assure me that they will be perfectly satisfied’ if shot be made duty free.
– I am much astonished that the only military expert present, Senator Sargood, should wish to place the Commonwealth in such a position that in time of war ‘.its supplies of ammunition might be cut off.
– Military ammunition is specially exempt from duty.
– We have here the material upon which the shot-making industry depends ; and there are shot factories in Melbourne, Hobart, and Sydney. It may be that only a few people are employed in the shot factories ; but we should not lose sight of the fact that a large quantity of machinery and plant has been put lip, and that costly buildings have been erected, in the construction of which a certain quantity of labour has been employed. I am in favour of leaving the duty as it is; and when we come to cartridges, I shall vote for the imposition of a duty upon them, to protect the local shot-producer and the maker of cartridges. There is something in the contention that the scalpers in Queensland, who use cartridges, should get their material as cheap as possible ; but I am looking forward to the time when the scalpers will be able to find employment in some other business. They are only engaged in scalping now, because our land system is such that large areas are held by a few people, and closer settlement is prevented. While there are a few who may be inconvenienced by a duty on cartridges, there is a larger class who will be inconvenienced and injured if these goods are admitted free. I do not think we ought to consider the people who use cartridges for that very elevating sport, the wounding of pigeons. The duty on shot only amounts to about 5d. per hundred cartridges, and that is not a very considerable protection. Therevenue is a small amount - only about £588. The tax will not be a large one on those who use shot. The chief points which appeal to me are that we should place ourselves as far as possible beyond dependence upon the cartridge makers of other parts of the world, and should deal with every industry on its merits even though there be only one or two persons employed in it. We should try to make ourselves a self contained community producing everything for our own requirements, and set an example to the world as an industrious people. Now that the Boer war is over we may hope for a period of prolonged peace, which will perhaps last for a quarter of a century. If citizens wish to’ learn to shoot - and I believe they should be taught - there are other methods thatmight be found than the extravagant use of cartridges.
– Would the honorable senator have them use bows and arrows?
– No, there is the Morris tube, with which great skill can be acquired.
– It cannot be used with the modern rifle.
– The ordinary pea rifle will afford good practice, and when it comes to serious business, a Lee-Metford can be used. Any one who is expert with the pea rifle can take a Lee-Metford and make very good practice at a rifle range. I speak from personal experience. I never shot out of a Lee-Metford rifle until I came to Melbourne, but when I went to the butts I found that I could score bullseyes at 500 yards, thanks to some amount of practice with the pea rifle. I am in favour of leaving the duty as it is.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - The revenue involved is only a small sum, and it is not necessary to reimpose this duty for the sake of the money that will be derived from it. According to the original estimates of the Government, the total amount which it was calculated would be obtained from this item, not with the duty as it stands at 5s., but with a duty of 7s. 6d., was £588. Certainly the Government recognise that the duty would be almost prohibitive. Lead being a natural product of Australia it is a very simple thing to produce shot here, and a duty of £5 per ton is, I believe, equal to about 25 or 30 per cent. protection. The probability is that without any Customs duty, shot can be profitably made here. We are not likely to get anything substantial inthe way of revenue, and therefore as the most simple and natural way of ending the anomaly, I trust that the committee will agree to the proposal I have made.
– Those who are desirous of doing justice to the cartridge makers, should agree to Senator Pulsford’s motion, and when we come to item 136 if they desire to impose a duty on ammunition and cartridges, the matter can be considered. It has been clearly shown that a large number of people are engaged in making cartridges. If a duty be imposed on shot their trade will be gone. Therefore I certainly think that those who desire to do that justice to the cartridgemakers ought to vote for the motion.
– Like the last speaker, I hope that the committee will agree to the motion that shot be admitted free. In this connexion I should like to draw Senator Styles’ attention to his own argument, and when he examines it, I think he will express contrition for his failure to vote with Senator Pulsford. At present there is a duty of £5 per ton on shot, in order to protect fifteen people who are engaged in the shot-making industry. Senator Styles holds that that duty is absolutely necessary, giving as his chief reason for that view that the raw material is produced in Australia. He seems to forget that if we produce the raw material here, the shot manufactured locally has a large natural protection, inasmuch as in the case of the imported article lead has to be sent from here to the old country, and brought back in its manufactured state.
– It comes out as ballast.
– The lead has to be shipped home and back again, and that should be sufficient protection for the fifteen persons engaged in the industry. Both sides of the committee appear to be agreed that a -certain system should be adopted in dealing with the Tariff. Last evening there seemed to be a concensus of opinion that a margin of 5 per cent, in favour of the local maker of clothing should be allowed between the duties imposed on piece goods and apparel. If that is a reasonable line of action to pursue in regard to textiles - and I contend that it is - why should it not be adopted in connexion with this item? why should we not admit shot free, and place a small duty upon cartridges? Sporting cartridges are high priced articles manufactured in other countries, but cartridges used by the farmer and the man in the back blocks are either made by them or by the local storekeeper. I think a very good case can be made out for some little protection being given to the cartridge maker ‘in Australia. That, how ever, does not apply to the maker of shot.
– I shall not be able to support the motion, because I do not regard this as a protective duty. We are taxing practically every one, and therefore we should tax the sportsman. Shot, as well as cartridges, is largely used by sportsmen who carry muzzle-loading guns. If we are going to tax cartridges - and it is said by honorable senators of the Opposition that they should be taxed - we should also tax shot. I shall support the item as it stands.
– I must say that my sympathies are entirely opposed to Senator Pulsford’s proposal, but when I consider the practical result that can be obtained by voting for the motion I feel bound to support it. We have not the remotest chance ofgetting a motion in relation to a duty on cartridges confirmed by the House of Representatives. The records of the division in, another place show that 27 votes were cast in favour of- making cartridges free, while there were only seventeen in favour of a duty. As there is undoubtedly an anomaly to be corrected, I shall vote for free shot, because that is the easiest way of making the Tariff intelligibly consistent. I think cartridges ought to be dutiable, but it is obviously impossible to make them dutiable, as another place will not support such a proposal.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - I am very much surprised at the line of argument adopted by Senator Matheson, that simply because he has come to the conclusion that a suggestion made by the Senate in regard to cartridges would not be accepted by another place, therefore the suggestion should not be made. That is a very dangerous doctrine to adopt, and is one which Senator Matheson has indignantly repudiated times out of number during the discussion of the Tariff. The same line of conduct has repeatedly been urged by Senator. O’Connor, but it has been invariably repudiated by Senator Matheson. If the honorable senator is now a convert to Senator O’Connor’s doctrine, let him say so. There can be no doubt that, in dealing with cartridges, honorable members of another place were under a misapprehension. I believe that even the honorable member who moved the imposition of the duty on cartridges in another place was under the impression that he was dealing with the fifteen individuals who are engaged, not in the making of cartridges, but in the manufacture of shot. There was a confusion of ideas, and if the mistake is pointed .out, I am satisfied that the House of Representatives will be thankful to the committee, and rectify “the error. At all events, it is to be hoped that we shall not have the House of Representatives held up to us as a danger signal throughout the discussion on the Tariff. Senator Pearce has spoken of a number of sportsmen who use muzzle-loading guns. I thought I knew a good deal about the sportsmen of Australia, but I do not know that muzzle-loaders are used by them to any extent. I believe some people, who call themselves sportsmen, have a small cannon on the Gippsland Lakes, and certainly they use shot, but members of sporting clubs, who observe rules which do honour to sportsmen, do not use muzzle-loaders. They use imported cartridges from which we ought to obtain some revenue and which are not affected by the duty on shot.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - In reply to Senator Dawson, I must point out that he has rather misunderstood me. When a great principle is involved I do not think we ought to consider how it is likely to be received by another place. In this instance, however, no great principle is at stake, and there is an alternative course of obtaining an adjustment. I prefer to take up the line of least resistance. We are here, not to raise a conflict with the other House, but to adjust this Tariff in the best way, and I am certainly in favour of taking what, in this case, will be the easier course.
– Senator Pulsford has found out a new industry other than the great importing industry which he wishes to support. He is now an advocate of the great sporting industry. This is the most nonsensical part that he has played in connexion with the discussion on the Tariff. I hope the committee will stand by the duty, and, as has been indicated, make an adjustment in another direction. I am pleased that Senator Matheson considers that, as far as possible, we should avoid creating any conflict between this and another place, and I hope he will always adhere to that principle. With respect to Senator Dawson’s contention, that shot should come in free because it is the raw material of the cartridge manufacturer and is very seldom used by the sportsman, I have not the least doubt that Senator Pearce and myself have nothad the same opportunity of associating with great sporting clubs as has the honorable senator. Our associations are of a more humble character, and we have found among them hundreds of people who still use muzzle-loading guns and shot when they go out for a day’s sport. Whether a man is a humble sportsman or a member of an aristocratic gun club, he has a right to pay for his sport. It is said that there are only fifteen persons engaged in the manufacture of shot here, but with the maintenance of the duty and the advantage of Inter State free-trade it is probable that the number may be increased to 30, or perhaps 300. Although shot may be the raw material of another industry, it is a manufactured article in itself, and consequently I hope that the duty will be carried. I would support the duty even if there was only one person engaged in the manufacture of shot, in the hope that that one would be increased one hundredfold by the action of Parliament. We have a right to impose this duty if it is possible to obtain any revenue from the sporting community, for I have no sympathy with those who go out simply for amusement to slaughter dumb animals and birds that have never done them any harm.
– I shall support the motion, not because I think the claims of any one who has undertaken the manufacture of shot should be overlooked, but because whilst that particular form of giant industry is only in its infancy, there are hundreds of people engaged in making up cartridges which, in a subsequent line, are free of duty. I shall assist in imposing a duty upon cartridges, because I do not see why the sporting community should escape taxation. If we could discriminate between the shot used for killing sparrows and other destructive birds it would be a good thing, but it is impossible to discriminate in that way. Even if we are to put a duty upon cartridges we shall still have to consider at how much less the raw material of cartridges might be admitted so as to allow a margin for the manufacturer upon the principle already laid down, and which we on this side have conceded. At present I shall vote to have shot admitted free, and I shall subsequently assist inputting a duty upon cartridges. If that duty is considered too high, we can afterwards recommit the Tariff with a view of putting a reasonable duty upon shot to provide a fair margin so that those engaged in the making of cartridges shall not be without some share of protection.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 72 by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, Shot, free”- put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … .. … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 73 (Arms) agreed to.
Item 74. . . . Iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet, per ton, los.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 74 by adding to the duty, “ Iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet, per ton, los.,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1002, free.”
We come now to deal not with luxuries, but with what is really a necessity to a great many people. In the past in Victoria galvanized iron was free. In South Australia the plain iron was free, and the duty on the corrugated iron was 30s. a ton. The plain iron was free in Tasmania, and the duty on corrugated iron 40s. a ton. Plain iron was free in Western Australia, and there was a duty of 20s. per ton upon the corrugated iron. Every one will admit that if we desire to assist the primary industries the best time to do so is in their initial stages, and in those stages they require to use galvanized iron. The miner requires to use it after he has passed the hessian and tent stage, and the farmer also requires it. We have here a duty proposed which amounts to 5 per cent, on the best brands of galvanized iron, and to about 15 per cent, on the cheaper brands. The best brand of galvanized used is the “Orb” brand, and the price runs to £18 per ton ; but there are some brands used, the price of -which does not amount to half that sum. It is idle to say that this duty is necessary for protective purposes, because in New South Wales, under absolute free-trade, there have been nearly 300 persons employed in the industry.
– It has had a much bigger protection than this, in the shape of differential railway rates, which cannot be given after the establishment of uniform duties.
– I remind the honorable and learned senator that they can be given at the present time, because there is no law of the Commonwealth to interfere with differential rates, and I know we have differential rates on the Western Australian railways.
– That can be stopped.
– It can only be stopped when we have an Inter-State Commission and the Government do not seem eager to establish an Inter-State Commission. We must deal with the facts as they exist, and whatever protection has been given to this industry in New South Wales can still, be given to it until the Inter-State Commission takes it away. . There is therefore shown to be no necessity for protection to this industry. We must remember that we cannot assist our mining industry by duties, and that we have taken off the duty upon wheat. Here it is proposed to impose a duty which will cause the miner and the farmer to pay an extra 15s. per ton upon all the galvanized iron they use, and something more, because we know that the importer will add his 10 per cent, profit on the 15s. We were asked, when dealing with the grain duties, how we proposed to assist the primary producer. This is one way of assisting him, and I am prepared to assist him by giving him his galvanized iron free of duty. I hope I shall get sufficient support in the committee to cany the proposal.
– The honorable senator’s speech is an illustration of the extent to which the following out of a theory may take a man. I can hardly understand a free-trader of the intelligence and general knowledge of Senator Pearce taking such a stand upon this question. This is an industry which at the present time in New South- Wales employs some 400 men. It is an industry which will, I hope, be established in many of the States if not in all of them, and whenever it it is established it will give regular employment to a large number of persons. What is the duty ? It is a duty of 5 per cent.
– On the dearest brand.
– On the brands ordinarily used. No doubt it runs to something higher upon the cheaper brands, and we may put it down at something like 7£ per cent. All through the Tariff, duties extending to 20, 30, and 40 per cent, upon different lines have been assented to without objection by Senator Pearce and other- senators. We have imposed very high duties upon some of the products of the farmer, and yet honorable senators tell us that because cheap galvanized iron is required for the farmer we are not to give this small measure of protection, which will also yield revenue, in order to enable this industry to be placed upon a reasonably safe and prosperous footing. It may be instructive to briefly state the history of the industry in New South Wales. For upwards of twenty years there was a duty of £2 per ton on galvanized iron. Some years ago, before the advent of the free-trade policy, which swept away all these duties, there was a duty of £2 per ton for revenue, purposes, and while that duty existed the establishment at Lithgow was started, and the Lithgow Ironworks began manufacturing. Just when they had got fairly started the duty was taken off, and the industry was in such a position, that there was no alternative but to close it up, unless something was done.
– What was the industry 1
– The industry was the making of iron. The corrugation is a very small matter, and that industry is of very small dimensions. The main thing is the making of this galvanized iron out of pig iron or scrap iron. When it became apparent that the industry must go down because of the removal of the duty, the New South Wales Railway Commissioners, who knew as well as any one what amount of traffic there was on their lines by reason of the operations at these works, entered into an arrangement with the proprietors to give them differential rates - that is to say, they quoted a much cheaper rate of freight upon iron sent out of these works than upon imported iron. Inasmuch as this iron was very largely used throughout the country districts of New South Wales, that concession, of course, gave the industry an immense advantage. They sold delivered at the local railway station, and got the benefit in their prices of the differential railway rate. I give some illustrations to show how the’ differential rates operated. For instance, from Lithgow to Cobar, the usual rate of freight for imported iron was £2 7s. per ton, and the railway commissioners carried the iron produced by this company at £1 7s. 6d. per ton.
– The rate on the imported iron was from Sydney to Cobar, and the other rate was for a. shorter distance.
– That really does riot affect the matter, because, in any case, the Sydney importer would have to* send his iron the extra distance to Lithgow. The rate on imported iron to Bourke was£2 7s. per ton, and on Lithgow iron, £1 10s. To Forbes the rate was £2 ls. lid. upon imported iron, and £l ls. upon Lithgrow iron. The rate to Mudgee was £1 0s. 6d. on imported iron and 10s. 5d. upon Lithgow iron. With a protection of that kind, which really amounted to something like £1 per ton, the industry was enabled to carry on. It has been carried on, but instead of enlarging the establishment and manufacturing to any very great extent from iron ores, as they might have done, the company have been obliged to practically restrict their operations to the making of this sheet and galvanized iron from scrap iron. That is the position of the industry at the present time, and it would have been absolutely impossible for it to have continued to exist if it had not been for the concessions to which I have .referred. The contention of the honorable and learned senator seems to have no foundation whatever, that this industry has been flourishing under free-trade in New South Wales. It has not been flourishing. It would have gone down under free-trade : and it only continued owing to the businesslike policy of the Railways Commissioners That policy was initiated by the late Mr. Eddy, who was one of the most far-sighted men of business we have ever had in this country, and who saw the advantage of keeping employed a large number of men who otherwise would have drifted into other occupations. This is an industry that belongs not only to New South Wales, but to the Commonwealth ; and considering that we are not asked to impose a heavy duty, but simply one which amounts to not more than 7 or 8 per cent., it does seem to me to be a most extraordinary position to take up to say that galvanized iron ought to be admitted free. I hope the committee will realize that, whether looked at from the point of view of free-trade or of revenue, galvanized iron is an article which ought to be subject to some duty. I have been dealing with the protectionist aspect of the proposal. Now let me say a few words as to the revenue aspect. The estimate for galvanized iron - with a duty of 30s. per ton on corrugated iron, and 15s. a ton on plain iron- is £27,000 from the plain iron and £13,000 from the corrugated, making £40,000 altogether. It is now al) under the one duty of 15s. a ton, so that the estimate from corrugated iron will have to be cut down considerably. But even if the estimate be cut down, the estimate for a normal year is something like £30,000 or £35,000. The actual receipts for six months are not a very good guide, because the duty has ‘ been altered from time to time. Up till the 10th December there was a duty of 15 per cent, on plain iron. After the 10th December this article was free, and remained so until the 9th .April, when a duty of 15s. a ton was imposed on iron, galvanized, plain and sheet. The revenue for three months was £6,260. If we take that as anything like an average, the normal revenue will be something like £20,000 a year. I do not put that forward as a safe guide, but, at the same time, any honorable senator who looks over the figures will admit that a substantial amount of duty will be recoverable. As it is probable that £20,000 or £30,000 a year will be derived from the item, the1 amount is one we cannot afford to give up. Therefore, both from the point of view of revenue and of protection, the duty ought to remain as it is.
– As my honorable and learned friend has pointed out, from the revenue aspect, there is no doubt that the figures before us are by no means reliable, though, of course, they are the best that could possibly have been presented under the circumstances. But if we take them as a guide, it is quite evident that the estimate of revenue, £40,800, is infinitely greater than the amount which it is possible, to collect. The period represented by the revenue collected was from the 9th October until these goods were made free on the 10th December. Therefore the period is only about two months. This represents roughly about £30,000 for the year, which is about £10,000 less than the Treasurer’s estimate for a normal year. But it must always be remembered that these collections were altogether abnormal. For instance, a very large quantity of dutiable iron must have been on the water coming to the several States, where previous to the introduction of the Tariff these goods were admitted free. Plain galvanized iron was free in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. So that there are four States which admitted galvanized iron free, and therefore the conditions which existed while large quantities of these. goods were upon the water, and before the fact that there was to be any protective duty was known, must be taken into consideration. - Corrugated iron was previously free in Victoria and New South Wales. There cannot be any doubt that it is very largely used not only in the towns but also in the country districts. From the revenue point of view, it must be admitted that very small results are likely to be obtained from a protective duty. I am glad to see that the protection on - the corrugating industry has been put an end to altogether. It was a great vice in the South Australian Tariff that it admitted plain iron free, and put a duty on corrugated iron of 30s. a ton. Corrugating is a very simple process, and employs only about two men and a boy in a big establishment. I am glad that uniformity has been brought about, inasmuch as a duty of 15 per cent, is now imposed both on plain and corrugated iron. Senator O’Connor urges that there should be a protective duty in order to enable, the galvanizing to be done in Australia, and to assist the industry in New South Wales. I was glad to hear what my honorable and learned friend said about the late Railways Commissioner of New South Wales, Mr. Eddy, desiring to prevent a number of men who were employed in this industry drifting into other occupations. That was a very valuable admission for Senator O’Connor to make. Honorable senators on this side of the Chamber fully believe that if there is no employment in one industry, people are likely to find employment in another ; and it is’ idle to talk of people being reduced to penury and bare feet, simply because a few of them, instead of being employed in boot-making or corrugating iron, find some other occupation which pays them better. For two months there was a duty of 15s. on plain iron, and 30s. on corrugated iron ; but 15s. on both goods is the duty that now remains. At the end of two months the House of Representatives, by a large majority, as the records show, made the goods free of duty, and it was only subsequently, in accordance with the arrangement under which the Government proposed to introduce a Bonus Bill, dealing generally with the iron industry, that the House of Representatives was led, on the 9th April, to reimpose the duty of 15s. a ton, which had been knocked off on the 15th December. But I find from the public press - I hope it is true - that the Bonus Bill has been killed.
– If the honorable and learned senator finds that, he finds something which is not true.
– I was beginning to regret that we should not have an opportunity of assisting in the burial of that Bill without hope of resurrection.
– The honorable and learned senator will have an opportunity of expressing his opinion about it in this Chamber.
– That revives my hopes, because I was fearing that the measure might pass into oblivion. What Senator Pearce desires is to restore the position that existed at the time when the question of the duty was not complicated by the bonus consideration. Certainly I shall be found supporting his motion.
– Senator Pearce has stated that he desires to relieve the miner and the pioneer. But the pioneer as a rule finds it necessary to live in a bark hut or a tent. He does not use galvanized iron except when he becomes no longer a pioneer, but a resident of a place like Kalgoorlie, which possesses all the advantages of civilization. He then lives in a building which costs £200 or £300, and the owner of which can well afford to pay 1 5s. a ton on his galvanized roofing iron. We have taxed some of the food-stuffs of the people to the extent of 25 per cent. in the interest of the farmer, and why should not we tax galvanized iron? It is not the miner and the pioneer who will benefit from this article being free. The stages of evolution in the matter of buildings are, first of all, that the pioneer lives in a tent ; then we find the bark covering being used ; afterwards shingle is employed, and as conditions approach nearer to civilization, galvanized iron is used for roofing, and, later on, slates are used. That is the process of evolution. According to the Maitland pronunciamento, the Tariff is designed to give revenue without destruction of existing industries, and we have to consider the item from that stand-point. If the duty is reduced it will destroy a certain amount of revenue, just as I believe other reductions which have been made will do, and will interfere with the existing industries throughout the Commonwealth.
– It appears to me that a duty of 15s. a ton is a very moderate one, and I do not feel inclined to help to disturb it. It is a question of revenue ; and, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out, the duty affords a most moderate modicum of protection to any one who carries on the making of galvanized or corrugated iron. I find that, in 1900, Tasmania imported from the United Kingdom 1,041 tons of this iron, valued at £17,477; from Victoria, 656 tons, valued at £12,368; and from New South Wales, 136 tons, valued at £2,438. The total revenue collected was £3,669, the duty being £2 per ton. A reduction from £2 to 15s. per ton is an enormous one, and in the interests of my State I do not feel justified in supporting any further reduction. Some 349 tons of iron galvanized in plain sheet iron were also imported into Tasmania during the year named, but that class appears to have been exempt. I listened to Senator Pearce’s argument, and cannot help saying that I often think some honorable senators from Western Australia unconsciously make a little too much of the miner and the primary producer. My notion is that when a farmer begins to put a new iron roof over his house or his barn, he is in a fair way of doing well. Acting as an agent for landlords, I have had to repair many a farmhouse in Tasmania, and I do not know why this import duty should not be paid. It amounts to about 5 per cent. I cannot understand any one who wants to help the primary producer, as we all do, objecting to it, nor can I understand why a free-trader can object to give what amounts only to 5 per cent. of protection.
– Before replying to certain statements made by Senator Higgs, I should like to refer briefly to a remark which has just been made by Senator Dobson. That honorable and learned senator complains of a tendency on the part of some honorable senators to make too much of the miner. As one who knows the miner intimately, and who has represented a mining constituency, I must enter my protest against the many unworthy sneers which have been hurled at the miner in this Chamber.
– The honorable senator does not think that I sneered. All that I say is that the miner is a richer man than the cockatoo farmer.
– The miner is the best friend of Australia. There is no Government which has not benefited by his enterprise, and no one deserves more consideration. The energy and enterprise of the miner has saved more than one State, and may yet have to come to the rescue of the Commonwealth. Senator O’Connor said, in the first instance, that this duty amounted only to 5 per cent., but when it was pointed out to him that it amounted to 5 per cent, on the dearest brands of galvanized iron, he said that, bunching all qualities, it would come out at about 7-i per cent. I challenge that ‘statement. The reckless bunching of duties is a most unfair way of conducting an argument, and if it were possible to ascertain the exact figures from the Customhouse,! do not think-that Senator O’Connor’s contention would be found to be right. The gentleman from the Customs department who is in attendance here told me that he had no information on the subject, and if Senator O’Connor has any, he has not put it before the committee. I should like to know what quantity of “ ORB “ galvanized iron - which represents the higher-priced article - is imported and used in Australia as compared with the low-priced article, on which”, of course, the duty is greater. I believe the figures would work out in the proportion of 20 to 1.
– The value, as entered in the Customs House at Western Australia, is £11 10s. per ton, bunching all brands together.
– I wish to get at the proper proportion. There may be only one ton of ORB galvanized iron represented in the entry. In the central, western, and northern parts of Queensland, nothing but low-priced iron is used. I do not think that Senator Higgs has any desire to injure the poorer classes of the community, for his tongue betrays a good mind. He has referred to the position of the miners iu Kalgoorlie, and what is true of the miner in Kalgoorlie to-day is true of the miner in Northern Queensland. The honorable senator pointed out that in Kalgoorlie miners ire able to cover their four-roomed cottages with galvanized iron roofs, and because they are rich enough to do that, they are considered to be fair game for the tax gatherer. Unless Senator Higgs can show that a miner’s four-roomed house, with a galvanized roof, is a luxury, the miners should not be called upon to pa)’ this duty.
– If the honorable senator will permit me to interrupt him I wish -to ask that progress be reported, with a view of sitting again at a later portion of the day upon motion, because it has become absolutely necessary to ask the Senate to deal this afternoon with a temporary Supply Bill.
Ordered (on motion bv Senator 0’CONNOR -
That the committee have leave to sit again at a later hour this day on motion made.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and read a first time.
– I move -
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill from passing through all its stages during the same sitting of the Senate.
I move this motion in exceptional circumstances. I think it is known to the Senate that another place will adjourn to-day for several weeks, while the Senate will adjourn for a shorter period. It, therefore, becomes necessary to ask for supply before both Houses rise. The Treasurer intended to inform me yesterday that it would be necessary to introduce a Supply Bill so that I might give notice for the suspension of the standing orders ; but owing to an inadvertence that was not done. The Bill asks for an amount estimated for two months’ supply at £587,219. The amount is based upon the Estimates for the years 1901-02, and there are only three items to which I think it desirable specially to refer. There is an item of £1,000 relating to the federal capital sites, which has no reference to the recent inspection made by both Houses of Parliament, but . is to provide for a committee of experts, such as has been premised by the Government, to report upon the desirability of the various sites. Then there is an amount of £7,500 for railway passes for honorable members for the financial year, dating from the 1st Julynext. This sum will cover the passes for the year, and it is in accordance with the agreement to which I have referred on a previous occasion. There is also an item of £400 in connexion with the expenses of publishing what is usually known as * Coghlan’s Seven Colonies,* but which will be called henceforth Tlie Six States of Australia. This is only a re-vote. The amount voted in the last Supply Bill will lapse, as the payment cannot be made before the 30th inst. Part of the amount which has been asked for, namely, £500 for the publication of this work, and £120 for compiling Customs statistics, has already been paid, leaving £400 to be paid in the next financial year. Therefore, although £400 is asked for in this Bill, it makes no difference whatever in the amount which will be paid to Mr. Coghlan. These are the only three items with regard to which it cannot be said that supply is simply asked for two months on the basis of the Estimates for the year terminating on the 30th inst.Under these circumstances,I trust I shall not fail to secure the indulgence of the Senate.
– I regret very much that circumstances have arisen which compel the Government to ask for this consideration. On the last occasion that a similar motion was tabled there was considerable objection to it, and I support the motion now only because I believe that if we refuse this request honorable members of another place will be put to very great inconvenience. I know that they have been dragging through a long and weary session, and propose to enjoy a brief holiday while we are engaged in a certain way.
– One can readily understand the great inconvenience which will be occasioned to honorable senators, and especially to members of the House of Representatives, if the suspension of the standing orders is refused. But we should also bear in mind that, if that inconvenience is occasioned, members of both Houses will have nobody to thank for it but the Government. Only the other day the Government asked the Senate to suspend the standing orders for the same purpose. Honorable senators refused to do so, and the Government were obliged to proceed with the Supply Bill in the ordinary parliamentary way. Yet, after the lesson given to them, the Government have the effrontery to again attempt to force this motion upon us by pleading that, unless we agree to the suspension of the standing orders to enable this Bill to be passed, members of the House of Representatives will lose a holiday, which we believe they have earned, and which we hope they will thoroughly enjoy. The Government have been well aware that it was intended that both Houses should rise at the close of this week for a short adjournment, and they have taken no steps to bring the Supply Bill before Parliament in the ordinary way. I understand that the other Chamber was asked to pass this Supply Bill in less than half -an-h our, andwe are being asked at the fag end of the Friday afternoon sitting to complete the work. The Parliament has been sitting for thirteen or fourteen months, and we have had Supply Bill after Supply Bill submitted to us, with a statement that we can find out the particulars of the supply proposed to be granted by referring to the Estimates which have never yet received the approbation of Parliament. Now we are being asked to enter upon the second twelve months under the same conditions as before, and to pass Supply Bills upon the basis of those Estimates. I say that it is a public scandal, and a disgrace that the Government should drag the finances of the country through the mud and the mire in the way they are doing. If we were to refuse to suspend the standing orders in this instance it would be for honorable members in another place to take steps to vindicate their own rights, and the rights of the country. I believe we should be justified in taking that action, whatever trouble it might cause to members of the House of Representatives, because the position is to some extent due to their own supineness in not insisting upon the Government dealing with these matters of finance in the way in which they should be dealt with. The Postmaster-General has said that this Bill is based upon the Estimates, with the exception of three or four items which he has specially mentioned, and to which, ‘as they appear to be necessary, I do not think any exception is likely to be taken. Still I raisemy protest against rushing the Supply Bill upon us in this unfair and unjustifiable manner, and I do desire that the Government shall realize that the steps taken by the Senate to protect the interests of this Chamber, and of the country itself, were earnestly taken, with the intention of securing that the finances of the country should be treated in a proper manner. A Supply Bill is brought down about the 30th of the month, and we are told that if it is not passed at once the public servants will not be paid. Is it not time to end this sort of thing ? No one feels more loth than I do to take up this position, because I do not like the idea of asking members of the House of Representatives to come back here next week if it can be avoided. The question is what are we to do ? We have made up our minds that a stop should be put to this sort of thing, and that the Government should treat both Houses of the Federal Parliament with fair consideration in matters of finance. This is one of the most unpardonable offences a Government could be guilty of. The Government show that they have no respect for themselves, nor for the Parliament when they attempt to put us in such a position, and honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives will display a lack of self-respect if they continue to allow the Government to proceed in this way. I should have thought that one lesson would have been sufficient for the Government, and we have now to consider whether we should not administer another, which will make them more careful in future, and which will lead honorable members in another place to take good care that the Government do not treat them in a similar way in the future.
– I do not know that there is any need for us to work ourselves up into a state of righteous indignation on this occasion, because we are asked to suspend the standing orders. Senator Gould has shown a great deal of apparent indignation, but when it comes to a vote the honorable and learned senator will be found voting with us to get the Government out of a dilemma in which they are placed. The Government, upon this occasion are simply the victims of circumstances. We have not been dealing in a regular way with these financial” matters for the last twelve months, but Senator Gould knows the reason for that perfectly well, and he knows that in future we hope that the difficulty will be remedied. If Senator Gould is in earnest, he should assume the position which apparently he desires the Senate to take up, and which he apparently shirks himself. He should vote against the suspension of the standing orders. If he were successful the members of the other branch of the Legislature would be inconvenienced. On a previous occasion I cast a vote in order to show my disapproval of’ the action of the Government, but the circumstances in this case are different. We know that there are no new items in this Supply Bill, but those to which the Postmaster-General has specially referred, and instead of wasting time working ourselves up into a state of indignation, which is only assumed, we might as well agreeto the suspension of the standing orders, and help the Government out of a difficulty, for which they are not responsible.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The dangerous consequences of condoning the negligence of .the Government are well revealed in the speech we have just heard from Senator Barrett. A month ago the honorable senator was as indignant as anybody else when the Government came forward with a proposal of this kind, and he followed up his protest by voting against them. Now, we find him absolutely supporting a course of action, against which he registered his protest about a fortnight ago. I have no doubt that, if this practice is allowed to continue, we shall have the Government justifying future conduct of this kind, on the ground that it has been condoned in the past. It is not as if this were an usual circumstance. It has become a regular practice during the last twelve months. On nearly every occasion we have had the Supply Bill submitted under an absolute threat from the Government. This time we are told that unless it is passed the members of the other branch of the Legislature will have to. come here next week, over which they propose to adjourn. Threats of this kind are distinctly indecent and unparliamentary. I do not dispute the readiness of the- Government in finding excuses for their own negligence, but I’ decline to condone or support it. So far as I can see it is idle for us to protest, if we are at the same time to condone the action to which we object. Therefore, great as may be the inconvenience caused, I propose to go further than a verbal protest by following that up with a vote in opposition to the motion proposed by the Postmaster-General.
– I ask the Postmaster-General, if he can, to satisfy us that there is any necessity for this haste. I speak subject to correction, but I understand that it is not absolutely necessary that this Supply Bill should be passed until within two or three days of the end of July. So far as I am aware, the members of the House of Representatives do not propose to adjourn for more than a month, and it is evident that they must meet before the end of July, because I think we are justified in hoping that we shall have disposed of the Tariff by that time. It is now the 20th June, and a full four weeks’ adjournment of the House of Representatives will bring us to the 19th of July, and there will be nearly a fortnight left in that month in which members in another place will be in a position to deal with this Supply Bill, and receive the message from the Senate. In these circumstances I see no justification for dealing with this Bill in any special manner. We are given no opportunity of examining these Bills before we pass them, and it is merely playing at constitutional government to have them submitted as they are being submitted by the Government, simply to throw the responsibility of the expenditure upon the shoulders of Parliament, by obtaining our acquiescence in matters upon which we have no information. There may be many items in these Bills which would provide topics for debate if we had an opportunity to examine them. Division No. 20 of this Bill probably contains a provision for the maintenance of Government House, Sydney, and many of us are of opinion that expenditure in that direction ought to cease. What opportunity have we of debating these matters when Supply Bills are rushed through in this way ? I appeal to the Postmaster-General to reconsider the decision at which he has arrived in some arbitrary fashion, and admit that it is not necessary that this Bill should be rushed through to-day. I am so satisfied that I am right in my contention that I shall support Senator Millen in an active protest by voting against the suspension of the standing orders.
– I have come to the conclusion that there is a good deal of unnecessary expenditure going on, and that unless we are given time to look into these Supply Bills we can serve no useful purpose. It is useless to submit a Supply Bill to us within an hour or two of the time at which we rise for the week, and expect us to go through the form of assenting to it. That is not the function of the Senate. The function of the Senate is to prevent improper expenditure where it can be pointed out. The electors of the Commonwealth will not stand unnecessaryexpenditure in whatever form it appears inthese Bills, and the extravagance going on all round is sure to bring trouble upon the Federal Parliamentand upon the Government. There are over 100 contingency votes provided for in this short Bill. What is the use of bringing a Supply Bill before us in this way, and expecting us to look through it carefully and express a judgment upon it ? If the Billhad been brought in at an earlier period of the week, honorable senators could have criticised it, and obtained any necessary explanation. But nothing can be explained now. There is not sufficient time to discuss the measure. I hope that this is the last time that a Bill like this will be brought up at so late a stage. We are entitled to have consideration shown to us, and we ought to insist upon it.
SenatorD AWSON (Queensland).-While re-echoing the wish of Senator Fraser that this will be the last time that we shall be called upon to agree to a measure brought up in this way, I would remind the Senate that we said, on a previous occasion, that we would not deal with a Supply Bill upon such short notice. I intend to support Senator Millen if he calls for a division on the motion. This continual suspension of the standing orders to allow Supply Bills to be pushed through is one of the most dangerous practices we can possibly allow to grow up. Our standing orders provide for a very easy method, by means of which the Government may get over similar difficulties. There is a standing order providing for extraordinary emergencies - assuming that this is an extraordinary emergency. But we should not suspend the standing orders for an ordinary Supply Bill, which the Government must have known about long before they introduced it. If we adopt this practice it will be a weapon which may be used by a majority, to the great disadvantage of a minority in the Senate, and, on many occasions, to the serious disadvantage of the country. Honorable senators, of all shades of politics, should be very careful not to encourage the Government to ask for suspensions of the standing orders with regard to such measures. We have not been assured by the honorable and learned senator in charge of the Bill that it is a measure of extreme urgency. Do the Government want the money now? Is there not time for proper notice to be given before it is required? I understand that the Government have funds sufficient to carry on until the 1st August ?
– We cannot spend a penny after the 30th J une.
– A very effective protest ought to be made against the suspension of the standing orders under such circumstances, and I hope that similar requests will be continually refused.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to one item ; that is, the final amount of the Treasurer’s balance, £50,000. I understood the honorable and learned senator to say that there was nothing new in the Bill, but that everything in it was based upon the Estimates. In the last Supply Bill we had before us, I find that a sum of £5,000 was advanced to the Treasurer. Here, however, we have the large sum of £50,000, which certainly seems a very considerable amount, and one calling for some explanation. Unless the Government can give us better evidence of the necessity for a suspension of the standing orders, and for dealing with the measure promptly, I shall be compelled to vote against the suspension.
– There seems to be some misapprehension in the minds of honorable senators as to the necessity for the suspension of the standing orders. Let me state how matters stand. The existing Supply Bills authorize payments up to the 30th June, and immediately after the expiration of that date no further moneys can be paid under any authority that the Government now have. It is true that the salaries authorized may be paid on the 30th June. But in addition to the salaries, there are a large number of payments to be made on account of mail contracts, and so on. A number of these payments are due to persons who can ill afford to wait for their money. The payments ought to be made in J uly, but unless this Bill is passed the money cannot be paid in July. No previous authorities in existence will authorize the payment of moneys in July. The 30th June is a hard and fast line. We have other things to consider here besides payments to public servants. There are payments to the public creditor, and to the hundreds of persons who are dependent for a living upon the money they receive from the Government, whether for mail contracts or for work of other kinds. The position is that, unless this Bill is passed, those payments cannot be made. The Bill deals with payments to be made in July and August. There is very little doubt that some time during August the Estimates will be completed, and will be in a position to be dealt with by Parliament finally. So that there is every reason to suppose that this will be the last of the Supply Bills which it will be necessary to bring before Parliament. As to the necessity for introducing the measure at the present time, it was anticipated that the other House would sit until next week - that is, until near Coronation Day - and would then pass any financial measure that might be necessary. But when it was found that the Senate would probably adjourn this week, and that the business in the other place could be completed this week, it seemed hardly worth while to bring back honorable members - who certainly have earned their holiday - merely for the sake of the notice which, under our standing orders, has to be given in order to carry out the ordinary procedure in regard to Bills. Therefore, owing to the sudden emergency that has arisen, this Bill has been introduced to-day. I am entitled to point out, and I do not do it by way of threat - there isno threat in stating facts and circumstances - that if this Bill does not pass to-day, but is adjourned until next week, we shall have to meet next week, and the House of Representatives will have to meet also to deal with it.
– Not necessarily.
– If we do not meet again until after the Coronation, the 30th June will be passed, and the other House will have to be brought back then.
– They can come back two or three weeks afterwards.
– Monday week will be the 30th June.
– And up to that date the Government have supply.
– It is true that we have supply up to the 30th June, and that will enable payments to be made up to that date, but it will not enable payments to be made in July. Therefore all the Government creditors will have to wait for their money.
– How did the Government make payments before ?
– Payments have never been made unless authorized. There is an Auditor-General whose duty it is to make sure that these payments are made according to law. A payment cannot be made unless it is authorized. It is unanswerable that unless this measure is passed before the end of June payments cannot be made in July. Is it worth while to bring the other House back next week, or after the Coronation, merely for the sake of the notice which, under our standing orders, usually has to given here? It would be very hard, indeed, to do so, considering that the other House - which putting it on as low a ground as possible has just as much control over finances as the Senate - has found it necessary in the public interest to pass this Bill in a very short time. We ought to consider the public creditor, and the inconvenience that will take place unless we are willing to forego the form with regard to the usual introduction of Bills.
– The Bill might have been sent up yesterday.
– It was not passed by the other House yesterday. It was not passed earlier in the other House, because it was anticipated that the other House would be sitting next week. I have put the position plainly before the Senate. If the Senate insists upon the right of having full notice of this Bill, it can do so, but it will cause great inconvenience to those who are interested.
– The statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is only partially correct. I am afraid that some of us who have been in the habit of dealing with State finances will have running in our minds that there are two months in which the Treasurer can still pay liabilities incurred in the past year. But it is not so, because, under the Constitution, on the 30th June a line is drawn, and not a penny can be paid after that date - even though it may have been voted before. If money has already been voted and has not been paid, it must under the terms of the Constitution be revoted in the following financial year. This Bill is really to pay for work done from the 1st July. Senator O’Connor, of course, is perfectly right in stating that none of those liabilities can be met unless this Supply Bill is passed. But he was not correct in stating that it is necessary to pass this Bill now in order to pay those liabilities during July. If he had said that these liabilities could not be met until the other place came back - say on the 20th July - he would have been absolutely correct. But to say that they cannot be met during July is not strictly correct. The other House will come back on the 20th July.
-Will they ? I do not know that.
– Will the honorable and learned senator deny it? I think we are justified in saying that the House of Representatives will come back in a month ; and if this Bill passes on the 22nd July, it will be in time to meet the J uly and August liabilities. But then comes the important point that the creditors of the State will have to wait for their money for 20 or 22 days, whereas the payments ought to be made to them earlier.
– Why cannot they be paid this month?
– Because on the 30th June absolutely every payment on account of supply already voted absolutely stops, and not a cent can be paid after that date, even though the liability was incurred during the present month. The money we have already voted absolutely lapses. Even small amounts cannot be paid, such as are ordinarily defrayed out of the advance to the Treasurer - that is to say out of what is technically . called “till money.” The whole point for the Senate to decideis, whether it is advisable under the circumstances to abstain from giving power to the Government to pay the liabilities of the State for twenty days. I do not think it is. I sympathize greatly with those honorable senators who complain of the way in which these Supply Bills have been introduced. We have every reason to complain. I almost wish the Treasurer were present to hear what has been said. I am afraid that this practice is the result of a bad habit he has got into in times past. As an old member of the Victorian Legislative Council, I can remember how the Treasurer used to send up Supply Bills to us at the last moment. He seemed to recognise that we had nothing whatever to do with finance. But now times have altered, and I do hope that in future the Treasurer will see his way clear to send Supply Bills to us in a reasonable time, so that we may be able to discharge the duty that has been imposed upon us by the Constitution of taking part in the practical voting of public money. I cannot support the opposition to the motion for the suspension of the standing orders because I feel that it is important that we should pay the public creditor in time.
– There is one aspect of this question which seems to have been overlooked. The Senate must remember that we have had several adjournments for a few weeks at a time since the session commenced. I understand that the chief reason for wishing this Bill to be put through to-day is that the members of the House of Representatives may adjourn for three or four weeks, or until such time as the state of business in the Senate calls them back again. It would be a selfish attitude for us to take up to refuse to allow the other House that privilege. It is probable that the House of Representatives will not consider it necessary to re-assemble until the Senate has dealt with the Tariff, and it is quite possible that this House may not have done with the Tariff by the 20th of July. I trust that we shall not take up this selfish attitude. Having in view the fact that we have had several opportunities of enjoying a holiday similar to that which honorable members of another place are now seeking, I do not think we ought to adopt a course which would compel them to return next week.
– I am placed in rather a more difficult position than usual. As honorable senators know, I am opposed to Supply Bills being allowed to pass without due consideration ; but in the present circumstances I am actuated by a desire to allow honorable members of another place to have a well-earned holiday. That is to me a most important factor ; but there is another aspect which I am not very sure ought not to outweigh even that. It appears to me that, comparing the schedule in my hand with the last Supply Bill, the Government have not enough money in hand to pay salaries for the current year, and is therefore drawing upon next year’s Estimates for that purpose. For the Postal department in the State of New South Wales the amount voted for salaries for the last month of the financial year now closing was £2,646. The amount which the Government are asking in this Supply Bill is £73,500. The addition to the Postal items in the schedule of this Bill, as compared with those of last month, is about £120,000. Therefore, unless some explanation is given, I shall be driven to the conclusion that the Government has outrun the constable, and will not be able to pay salaries for this month without drawing on next year’s Estimates.
– The difficulty is that the honorable senator is comparing a Supply
Bill for one month with the present Bill, which asks for two months’ Supply.
– Why is two months’ supply asked for ? Is it not the intention of the Government to meet before August?
– The Estimates for next year will be ready about August.
– Have the Government sufficient money to pay all liabilities in hand up to the end of June?
– Yes. The honorable senator has been looking at the items in respect of arrears.
– That explains it. In the circumstances I shall not oppose the motion, although in any other circumstances I certainly should do so.
Question put. The Senate divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Some time ago I asked that a return might be prepared showing thecostof providing honorable senators with desks similar to those erected in the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of South Australia. Every member ofthat Parliament has a desk opposite his seat, so that when he is not listening to the eloquence of other honorable members he may write letters, make notes, or study. The return showed that it would cost something like £3 to do what I desired. The only opposition to the proposal was that as we were likely to be here but for a limited time, members of the Victorian Legislative Council might object to any material alterations being made in the Chamber. An alternative proposal that I wish to make is that writing desks similar to those which have been put into position in the House of Representatives should be erected in the Chamber. It is a great inconvenience for honorable ‘senators to be compelled to leave the Chamber when they wish to attend to their correspondence. On occasions honorable senators can avail themselves at a seat at the table, but the accommodation there is really taken up by Ministers, the leader of the Opposition, and the reporters of the Hansard staff. There is really only one seat available at the table for some thirty honorable senators.
– I would suggest that desks might very well be erected in front of the back Government bench just as has been done in another place. It seems to me that the House Committee exists solely for the convenience of the House of Representatives; our House Committee, if we have one, certainly does not seem to study our convenience. If desks were erected on the back Government bench no one would be inconvenienced, and I think there would be a larger attendance of honorable senators.
– In common with other honorable senators, I have experienced great difficulty in this matter. It is very troublesome to be compelled to leave the Chamber whenever it is necessary to attend to urgent correspondence, and more especially when some- business is before the Senate, to which one desires to pay special attention. Our desire is, of course, that the difficulty should be overcome in an inexpensive way, and that nothing should be done materially to alter the fittings of the Chamber. I would suggest,” therefore, that the seats in the front row of the President’s gallery, which are now occupied by press representatives, might very well be used for the convenience of honorable senators, and that provision similar to that made for the representatives of the Age and Argus could be provided for the members of the press who now use them. If you could see your way clear, Mr. President, to carry out this suggestion, honorable senators who desire to write, would not find it necessary to leave the Chamber, while the two or three members of the press who occupy the place set apart for twelve or thirteen persons would not be inconvenienced.
– No doubt it would be a great convenience to honorable senators if provision such as that which has been suggested could be made, but honorable senators are hardly expected to use the Chamber as a writing room at all times ; it is expected rather that they will spend their time here in listening to the words of wisdom which are uttered in debate. With regard to the schedule, I observe - as the Postmaster-General has pointed out - that the sum of £1,000 is provided for expenses in connexion with the selection of a site for the federal capital. I hope that the Government will take steps as speedily as possible to settle this vexed question. A great many misunderstandings which have occurred from time to time amongst honorable senators in regard to expenses would be avoided if the capital’ site were chosen and arrangements made for Parliament to meet there as speedily as possible. It has been regarded by a great many people as really a vital part of the compact entered into by the various States on joining the Federation that this should be done, and it is very unpleasant to hear it asserted that there are certain Members of Parliament who will place all sorts of obstacles in the way of the selection of the federal capital, as they do not wish the Parliament to leave Melbourne. I prefer to believe that members of both Houses are prepared to give a loyal and generous adherence to the Constitution, which provides for the selection of a federal capital.
– But there is no need for any hurry.
– There is no need for any delay. The matter ought to be settled quickly in order that we may get rid of the charges to which I have referred that are made from time to time. I congratulate the Government upon having taken steps to appoint a committee of experts, which I hope will soon be crowned with success. I should like to direct the attention of - the Postmaster-General to the very large sum of £50,000 proposed to be advanced to the Treasurer. We are aware that this is a Supply Bill for a period of two months, and I find that the Treasurer anticipates that he will require a sum amounting to £50,000 on account of the advances which must necessarily be made to him during the course of the year. If the advance is to be at the rate of £50,000 for two months, that will amount to something like £300,000 a year, and I cannot believe that there is any intention on the part of the Government to ask for so large a sum. The explanation will probably be made that not more than £100,000 will be required during the whole of the twelve months to meet unforeseen contingencies not provided for upon the Estimates. The amount should be kept at a low figure, because as these Supply Bills are being submitted from time to time, there is ample opportunity for the Government to make provision in them for payments which otherwise would require to be met out of the Treasurer’s advance, and at the same time give honorable senators an opportunity of expressing an opinion as to whether the expenditure is justifiable. We must bear in mind that once we give an advance of £50,000 to the Treasurer he has the right to spend that money without the direct supervision of Parliament. It is true that he comes down to Parliament afterwards and says that he has spent the money in a particular way, but it is then too late to make any complaint as to how the money has been expended. However much confidence we may have in our Treasurer - and it is pleasing to know that Sir George Turner has the reputation of being one of the most careful and reliable Treasurers the State of Victoria has ever known - he is liable to make mistakes as well as other men, and it is right that we should have an opportunity of checking mistakes and preventing their continuance.
– And he may not be there for ever.
– As the honorable senator says, he may not be there for ever, and as we have the opportunity now in the early days of the Commonwealth of laying down the course of action which we desire to see followed, no matter who may beTreasurer, it is just as well that we should have matters arranged in such a way that there may be no complaints hereafter, when there will be no means of obtaining substantial redress in the interests of the country.
– The suggestion that there should be some more accommodation for writing provided for. honorable senators is a very reasonable one, and I have no doubt the President will give the matter due consideration. It appears to me that the suggestion to utilize the Inter-State press gallery for the purpose is one which might very well be adopted.
– The honorable senator does not desire to interfere with the Hansard reporters.
– So far as the Hansard reporters are concerned we shall always be glad to have them on the floor of the Chamber, and the InterState press reporters can be accommodated in the gallery which was occupied by the State Hansard staff for many years.
– I indorse the opinions expressed with regard to the necessity for some belter accommodation for writing. One is frightfully hampered by having to go outside of the Chamber to write the smallest note because there is no room at the central table. Some time ago there was an order for two stands for files of newspapers in the club room, but they have not yet been supplied. We also require books of reference. The only book of reference we have in the club room at present is the Postal Guide, but there are some dozen ordinary works of reference which we should have, and which are to be found in almost every club room. There is only one othersubject to which I wish to address myself, and that is the question of the federal site. I find an impression prevails that I have some hostility towards New South Wales. That view is absolutely erroneous. I am anxious only for economy in every direction of the public service. I believe with Senator Gould that it is most desirable that the federal site should be selected with the least possible delay, as the best solution of the difficulty in which we. now find ourselves. We find senators from New South Wales gravely laying claim to Sydney as the seat of government. Inmy opinion, after reading the Constitution, there can be no doubt that Sydney is the one capital in the whole of Australia which is distinctly barred from laying any claim to the seat of government. The Constitution is explicit that the seat of government must be at least 100 miles from Sydney. Theonewayoutof the difficulty is to select the federal capital site and transfer the officers of the Commonwealth to that site. The sooner that is done the sooner the whole country will be satisfied.
– As the President will be guided by the wishes of honorable senators expressed here, I may say that with other honorable senators I have frequently found the accommodation at the table so insufficient that I have had to leave the Chamber, if only to pencil an answer to’ a telegram. I desire to refer briefly to the vote of £7,500 for the conveyance of Members of Parliament on the railways. Ihave no objection to the vote, but there is a point which I have already brought under the notice of the Senate, and to which I desire to direct attention again. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech some few months ago, pointed out that there were services rendered by the Commonwealth to the States to the value of about £80,000, but for which no charge has been made. I admit that during the bookkeeping period, it may make no difference whether those services are charged for or not, but I do say it will place the federal accounts in a much better light before the electors, and after the termination of the bookkeeping period it will have a distinct bearing upon the accounts, if we do make a charge for services rendered to the States in exactly the same way as the States make a charge for services rendered to the Commonwealth. The matter derives importance from the fact that upon all hands the Federation is being charged with extravagance by representatives of the States Governments. Under these circumstances, and without in any way labouring the point, I trust the Government will set to work to arrange that the services which the Federation renders to the States shall be charged for upon a fair basis and in exactly the same way as the States debit the Federation with the value of services rendered to it.
– There are two or three matters in addition to those which have already been mentioned which deserve consideration. There are various books which might be placed in the club-room for the convenience of honorable senators, and amongst them the Convention debates for 1891, and the debates of the Convention that sat in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney.I point out also that there is no dictionary supplied to the room, and when I have had occasion to consult a dictionary, I have been obliged to go to the library for it. A number of books of reference might very well be supplied, and certainly there should be a file for newspapers. With regard to the writing accommodation,
I agree with what has been said upon the subject, but I hope that, in whatever is done in that matter the convenience of honorable senators who have already taken up certain positions in the Chamber will be consulted. It is all very well to suggest that a little gate might be provided at the end of the Inter-State gallery, close to the seat which I occupy, for the admission of honorable senators to thatgallery, butI do not want anything of the kind. I think the entrance should be at the other end. I do not desire to havemy seat interfered with, and I do not wish to lose the services of my devoted friend the stove, which I so much enjoy during the winter season. That might not be a matter of much consequence to honorable senators coming from other States, but I come from Queensland. I trust that whatever is done to provide better accommodation for writing, the convenience of honorable senators who have taken up certain seats in this Chamber will be interfered with as little as possible.
– With regard to the remarks which have been made as to better accommodation for writing and a supply of books of reference to the club-room, that is a matter to which I have no doubt the President will attend. I was asked why a vote of £50,000 is asked for by the Treasurer in this Bill. There are some special reasons for asking for a larger advance than usual. As Senator Gould has correctly stated, the amount generally advanced is about £100,000 in the year. This amount is now asked for, because, though the Treasurer is endeavouring to get all the accounts in before the 30th J une next, there are some payments winch will have to be made after that date.
– And all these votes lapse after the 30th June.
– I, perhaps, should have explained that these votes will lapse, and nothing can be paid fromthem after the 30th June, and we shall therefore be in the position after that date of being unable to pay any amount, even although it may have been voted in the Supply Bills. The Treasurer informs me that he anticipates that there will be several payments to be made early in J uly, payments, for instance, to contractors in some of the States, who have completed their contracts, and are anxious to be paid. And there will be some cases also in which payments will have to be made in respect of salaries for work being carried out in some of the States on loan account. These salaries, of course, will have to be met, and will be matters for future adjustment. I was glad to hear Senator Gould state that he has entire confidence in the present Treasurer. I arn sure that that is the feeling which is held, not only by representative men in’ Victoria, but by the people throughout the Commonwealth. Honorable members Of the Senate know that they can rely absolutely upon the Treasurer with regard to the expenditure of the proposed advance. T am entirely in accord with Senator Millen in the remarks which he has made about the services performed by the Commonwealth for the States. I think the only sound and business-like principle upon which we can act is to see that all services performed by the States for Federal departments shall be paid for, and all services performed by the Federal departments .for the States shall also be paid for. I am glad that I shall always be able to rely on the support of Senator “Millen in abolishing anything in the way of free postage of letters.
– -The Government are working in entirely the opposite direction now.
– I have not got the Bill through yet, but so far as postal matters are concerned I have been endeavouring to introduce the principle which Senator Millen thinks is the correct one, and I have no doubt the same principle will be adopted by other departments. I think I have answered all the observations which have been made.
– Before putting the question, I think it is right that I -should make some remarks concerning the various matters brought before the Senate in reference to the accommodation of honorable senators. With respect to an arrangement by which honorable senators may be given some place to write letters, that has been under consideration for a very long time, and a great many schemes have been suggested. One scheme was that the Ilansard reporters should be removed to the gallery where the Inter-State press reporters now sit. Experiments have been tried over a week by various Mansard reporters, who have sat there to ascertain whether or not they could hear as clearly as they do now the speeches of honorable senators. The report from Mr. “Friend to myself is that they cannot do so. It was then suggested that a similar ,gallery should be erected on the left-hand side of the Chair for the Mansard reporters, but that was also objected to upon similar grounds, namely, that the reporters .could not hear so well there. Another suggestion was to place a - gallery between the pillars on the right-hand side of the Chair, but that would be. awkward, and would, involve alterations .in the Chamber, and there were objections to .it on those .grounds. Another suggestion, .and I think it is the best which has been made, is that one of the Inter-State .galleries should be .utilized by ..having, a door made between it and this Chamber, so -that honorable senators could .enter it and write their letters there. So .far as I can ascertain, that suggestion meets with the approval of honorable senators. It will be not only my duty, but my pleasure, to .do .that if the Senate requires it. .The matter is.not one.f or my consideration, but for .that of .the Senate. 1 am the servant of the Senate in this regard. I shall do whatever .the Senate wishes, but I do. not care to do something and to find afterwards :that .it is not what honorable senators desire. I know that it is .impossible to please -everybody, and if Senator Glassey has to sacrifice himself upon the altar of the Senate by .giving up the portion of ‘” .Queensland” in which he .now sits, I shall be very sorry, but the honorable senator must bow to the majority. The details will, of course, be inquired into. So far as I can ascertain, the wish of the Senate is in favour of the plan, which .-has only been suggested to-day, and which seems to be the best plan. I see no reason why the .representatives of the Inter-State press should mot.go up into the former State Ilansard gallery. They will have the same accommodation there as the representatives of the Age and the Argus. As to the stands mentioned in connexion with the .club-room, some three or four months .ago, J .gave instructions, at the suggestion of .Senator Sargood, to Mr. Marsden, the architect of the State, to have those stands made, because at that time it was suggested that they should be fixtures. By the agreement between the State .and the Commonwealth all alterations to the fabric of the building have to be carried out by the State authorities. I thought that this work was being done, but I found. much to my astonishment, that, owing to the attitude taken up by one of the Commonwealth Ministers, ithadnot beenactually commenced. There seems tohave been an idea that the Senate was underthe control of the department of the Minister in question. When I ascertained that, of course I was rather indignant, andgave instructions at once that the work should be done without consultation with anybody. It was after investigation that it appeared that the pieces of furniture referred to, which are not fixtures, but are removable, wouldsuit the circumstances quite as well, of not better. They are now complete, I think, and will at once be placed inposition. As to thebooks of reference, theLibrary Committeehas ordered a large number of referencebooks. There are to be three copies of eachvolume - one for use in the library itself, one for the Senate, and one for the House of Representatives. Mostof these books have been purchased, and are now being bound. After they are bound,itwill be a matter tobe determined which isthe most convenientplace to keep them.I think thatthe convenience and comfort of the Senate, whichwillalways bemystudy, will be met in the ways Ihavementioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Billreada second time.
Clauses 1, 2, and 3 agreed to.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General a questionwhichI had not an opportunity of mentioning during the second reading discussion. The matter is with regard to the itemon page 6 “Conveyanceof Members of Parliament and others,£7,500.” Earlyin the session, I drew the attentionof the Senate to the singular circumstancesaffecting the representatives of those States whohave to travel toand froby other means thanbyrail, andthat the passes held by thosehonorable Senators were not of equal value with those held by representatives ofStates connected with Melbourne by rail. As the resultofthe action I took then, arrangements weremade by the department of Home Affairs, by which members of the House of Representatives and honorable senators, living in those States when desirous of proceeding to and from Melbourne, were enabled to obtain an order from the Home Affairs department upon one of the steamship companies controlling the means of communication. That system was introduced, I understand, for the purpose of enabling the Minister for Home Affairs to ascertain about how much would berequired to be paid to the respective companies in Order to enable the representatives not merely of the twoStates affected but of theParliament generally to travel to those States on theirrailway passes. The present system has been in vogue for some fourteen months. It is very inconvenient, and Ibring itup again with the object of ascertaining whether an alteration in the system cannot be made. An honorable member or an honorable senatorwho wishes for a steamship pass in order to go home hasto apply atthe Home Affairs department. He then obtains an order, which he takes to the Office ofoneof the steam-ship companies -which may besituated in a distant partof the city - and gets a ticket. When he is at the other end during recess and desires to return tothe seat of government, he is not in a position to go to the Department of Home Affairs to obtainan order. I hope that thePostmaster-General will be able, before theEstimates for next year are brought forward,to give honorable senators information that arrangements have been made with the companies controlling the communication between Melbourne and Tasmania and Western Australia, so as to enable all the rnembers oftheCommonwealth Parliamentatany time to avail themselves of their railwaypasses, sothat thosepasses may receive recognition by the companieswhen presentedby any member of either House. The Minister for Home Affairs some time ago endeavoured to obtain informationby actual experiment as tohow much would be required to bepaid to eachof the companies for recognising the railwaypassesofmembersof this Parliament.Ishould now like to ask the Postmaster-General whether anything definite has been done in the matter, and if so, when it is likely that an arrangement will bemade with the companies affected, that will enable honorable senators and members of the Houseof Representatives to usetheir passes in the method in which it was intended that they should be used when they were originally issued?
– I am sure that honorable senators will have the fullest sympathy with the desire of the representatives of States connected with Melbourne only by water to obtain the means of travelling to and from the States they represent in the most convenient and expeditious manner ; but I am afraid that if the plan suggested by Senator Keating were adopted - that the steamship companies should be paid a certain sum of money for carrying honorable members and honorable senators on their passes - the system would be found to be unduly expensive. There are a large number of Members of Parliament who seldom or never take advantage of their opportunities for travelling by steamer, and if the railway passes were used in this way and the companies charged as though travelling facilities were taken advantage of hy members generally, the expense would be very great. I would suggest that books of passes should be issued to Members of Parliament available between Melbourne and Tasmania and Melbourne and Western Australia, When a member desired to travel he could present a pass to the steam-ship company concerned and sign it, and the pass would afterwards be presented to the Commonwealth Government for payment. There would be a record kept of the signature.
– With the member’s name on it.
– Quite so. If the book of passes were lost, it would, of course, be the duty of the member to give notice so that the passes in the book - which might be numbered - could be cancelled. By that means the convenience of members might be suited and the Commonwealth Government would only pay for the advantages received.
– Why would not the railway pass itself do 1 An honorable senator who travels by rail has to give a receipt for the berth he occupies. What is to prevent a steam-ship company recognising a Member of the Federal Parliament upon his railway pass, just as the pass is recognised when he asks for a berth on a railway train?
– I understood that it was suggested that a lump sum should be paid to the companies.
– That would be expensive, because the company would take care to be on the right side in the charge it made. But if the companies were paid for the actual number of trips travelled by the Members of Parliament, who would give a receipt on I the vessel, that ought to be sufficient. The receipt would afterwards be presented to the Federal Government, and payment would be made. It seems to me that the companies ought to allow a discount on account of the travelling of Members of Parliament.
– It is usually done in the case of theatrical companies.
– If the plan I suggest were adopted, all that a member would have to do would be to take care to secure his berth beforehand. Nothing more than a member’s pass is required. No other persons but members of the Federal Parliament hold these passes, and the companies’ officials would understand at once that a man presenting one of these passes was a member of one or other of the two Houses of this Parliament.
– This 1 seems to me to be a very simple matter. For my own part I do not find the present arrangement particularly inconvenient. If members of this Parliament are to have the advantage of a steamer ticket, the least thuy can do is to go and get it. Probably the simplest plan would be for the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the House of Representatives to have an order book, and for a member who wanted to travel to ask for an order upon one of the steam-ship companies. I “do not know what all this trouble is about. The whole thing can be managed very ‘readily. But I do not think we have a right to ask the steam-ship companies to recognise our railway passes. They know nothing about them. This is purely a concession, and should be accepted by Members .of Parliament in a reasonable and business-like way. I think that if these order books were left in charge of the Usher and the Sergeantatarms, respectively, the convenience of Members of Parliament would be met.
– I really do not understand the attitude of Senator Dobson in regard to this matter. He says that, the railway pass is a concession to Members of Parliament.
– So it is.
– I should like the honorable and learned senator to state clearly what is in his mind.
– That the Constitution grants us £400 a year to pay all our expenses.
– If the Commonwealth expects me to travel from one end of Australia to the other and pay my own expenses out of £400 a year, it will have to get some one else,- because I am not going to do it. I should like Senator Dobson to remember that some of us are poor men. Many of us are not as wealthy as he is probably. We are not able to travel up and down the continent, getting a knowledge of the matters that affect Australia, and to pay our own expenses. If the honorable and learned senator came over from Hobart to Melbourne on .’legal business, would he not expect his client to pay his expenses % If he came as the agent for ‘. a client, would he expect to have to pay his own expenses t If he were a commercial traveller, his firm would not expect him. to pay his own travelling expenses. We are here as agents for . the Commonwealth, and ought not to be expected to pay our own expenses. While I have as little sympathy with bleeding the Commonwealth as any person can have, I object to Senator Dobson’s attitude on this question. I think the Commonwealth is quite willing, not only to pay its representatives for their time and work, but also for their travelling expenses to and from the seat of Government.
– Has the honorable senator ever sent a cable that cost £15 “ on service “ 1
– I have not sent a cable that cost fifteen pence “ on service.” So far as the Queensland representatives are concerned, our railway passes bring us no further down than Rockhampton. As honorable senators know, that is only a very short distance in our immense territory. We are expected by our constituents to go all along the coast, to Bowen, Mackay, Townsville, ‘ Normanton, Cairns, Cooktown, Thursday Island, and other places.
– Surely passes can be obtained for those journeys?
– Our constituents want us to visit them at those places. I have been asked to go and see them there, and if I have to pay my own expenses on such long journeys the cost of travelling will swallow up my parliamentary allowance for ‘ a long time to “come. I wish the PostmasterGeneral would look into thi? matter, as well as into the- matter affecting steam-., ship travelling.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania).- I wish to say, in reply to Senator Dobson, that there is nothing in the nature of a concession in regard to these passes. As I pointed out in my opening remarks, there is at present a singular anomaly in regard to the position of those who represent States connected with Melbourne by rail, as compared with those who represent States to which journeys have to be made by water. I take it that the idea of a member’s railway pass is that every member of this Parliament should be able to travel to and from any State at the expense of the Commonwealth. When travelling is done by rail, the States are paid by the Commonwealth Government. The Railway departments of the States receive a certain amount for bringing members of this Parliament backward and forward. There is nothing whatever in the nature of a concession. If a member of this Parliament is travelling; from Melbourne to Sydney, or to Adelaide,, he simply has to notify that he desires tohave a berth, and one is reserved for him, and when he gets on the train he is asked to sign a receipt for the berth. At the end of the month, or other period, these receipts are sent to the Treasury, and money is collected on account of them. My opinion is that a somewhat similar arrangement should be carried out in the case of those Members of Parliament who travel by steamer. The present arrangement is certainly inconvenient. For instance, I have an order from the HomeAffairs department in my pocket at thepresent moment. When I obtained it I intended to go to Tasmania to-day. But I shall be unable to go till Monday. I shall therefore have to obtain a freshorder upon the company which conducts the service. This inconvenience and trouble is not experienced by those Members, of Parliament who can avail themselves of their railway passes. I therefore trust that the Postmaster-General will take steps tosee that the representatives of Tasmania and Western Australia are placed on a similar footing with the representatives of the other States.
– I wish to ask a question, but before I do so I have a word or two to say about the use of passes by Members of Parliament. From time immemorial, so far as Parliament is concerned, it’ has bee11 admitted that, in the interests of a particular State, Members of Parliament should be allowed to travel throughout that State without charge, in order to acquaint themselves with its resources and the necessities of the community. Now that we have established the Commonwealth, the same rule applies throughout Australia. Who could expect Members of this Parliament to pay their own railway and steamship fare in travelling, for example, from Queensland to Western Australia to see what the people of that State want in order that they may be treated fairly here ? While willing to vote thousands of pounds in connexion with the Governor-General’s establishment,Senator Dobson begrudges to honorable senators from Tasmania, who do not possess a rentroll like that which he enjoys, an allowance to cover the steamship fare to and from that State. I would ask Senator Dobson and the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that an “On service” cablegram, costing £15, was sent to the old country by Senator Dobson ?
– I have never sent one.
– I am glad to hear it. I would ask the Postmaster-General whether any member of the Federal Parliament availed himself of the privilege of sending “ On service” telegrams to transmit a cablegram to England, involving an expenditure of £15 ?
– With regard to the passages of honorable senators, travelling, between Melbourne and Tasmania, no arrangement has yet been made, and consequently the suggestions which have been offered will be of value. It is a question, really, as to the best way of carryingout the arrangement. I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Home Affairs, as well as the suggestion made by Senator Stewart and Senator Higgs, that the privilegeof travelling by boat to those parts ofthe Commonwealth which cannot be reached by rail should also be accorded to honorable senators. I do not know whether Senator Higgs put the question seriously in regard to the sending of cablegrams, but- the practice isfor honorable members of both..Houses to send their telegrams to the Library where they are stamped and sent on. The charges are debited againsta fund which is voted for Parliament.
– Are members allowed to send cablegrams “ On service “?
– I do not know anything of the arrangement. The money is paid out of the fund which is voted for Parliament, and I do not inquire into the details.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I am sorry that Senator Higgs should think that there is anything improper in the remarks which I made. I was thinking only of the Constitution, which provides that-
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shallreceive an allowance of £400 a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.
The payment of our travelling expenses - and I, in common with others, have availed myself of that privilege - is, I believe, something outside the Constitution to which we are not entitled. I believe that the railway passes themselves are absolutely outside our rights “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.” I am just as anxious to have as many privileges as possible, as is any other honorable senator, but we should proceed in these matters just as we would do if we were controlling our own businesses. As the representatives of the people we are controlling their business, and if we go on voting ourselves perquisites which are not warranted by the Constitution, we shall get ourselves into bad repute. If Parliament provides that we are to have free railway passes, and that those who have to travel by. steamer to the State they represent, shall have their fares paid, well and good, but let it be done in a proper manner. Unless Parliament otherwise provides, the Auditor-General, will pull us up with a round turn, if. we grant ourselves privileges which are outside the Constitution.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- In reply to Senator Dobson, I would pointout that in passing these SupplyBills, Parliament has “ otherwise provided.” The honorable and learned senator did not quote the section in the Constitution which fixes the GovernorGeneral’s salary until his. successor shall have been appointed. There is nothing said in that section about allowances for the upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishments, but Senator Dobson, while prepared to, vote £5,000 or £6,000 allowances for one man, objects to an allowance of£2 10s. in respect of the steamshipfarepaid by an honorable senator who has to travel to and from Tasmania. I am sure that the electorsdo not expect honorable senators to pay for their fares by rail, or by steamer where travelling by steamer is necessary. Some honorable senators, like Senator Dobson, seem to think that it is a luxury to travel, but those who have to do so realize that it is a very undesirable experience. It is only a sense of duty that makes them undertake these long journeys. The railway fares are not the only expense to which honorable members areput. When travelling, a Member of Parliament has to pay for his meals and so forth, and the very fact that he is a Member of Parliament very often causes people to expect him to pay more than a private individual would do.
SenatorKEATING (Tasmania). - I would point out to the Postmaster-General that in the division relating to the Department for Defence provision is made for “ expenditure solely for the maintenance or continuance of the department as at the time of transfer to the Commonwealth, “ of a number of defence bodies in Tasmania. The amounts put down are very small, and I would ask the Postmaster-General, and, through him, the Minister for Defence, if, before framingthe Estimates for next year, steps will be taken to ascertain what is the real status of the different branches of the defence forces in Tasmania. When the department was taken over by the Commonmonwealth there were certain branches of the defence forces in Tasmania which were legally militia, but which, I understand, have now been classified by the general officer commanding as volunteers, simply because for some years they were content to do service without receiving any pay. They were dependent absolutely upon an annual vote of Parliament, and in a period of retrenchment Parliament refused to pass any moneysave for a few branches of the defence forces. Notwithstanding that fact, these men loyally continued to carry out the conditions on which they entered the service, holding the legal status of militia, but, in fact, receiving no pay. I believe they have now been classified as volunteers rather than militia, a circumstance which will certainly discourage them, and tend to deter a great number of others from joining these forces in the future. I merely mention this matter so that before: framing the Estimates for the next year the Minister will be able to give consideration toit, and ascertain the legal status of these forces, so that they may be placed upon a proper footing.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- It seems to me that there is something seriously wrong either with the telephone instruments or with the operators, because when I have to use the telephone it takesme about twenty minutes to communicate with anyone. To-day I wished to telephone to a party in Collins-street, and it took me nearly half-an-hour to convey my message. I could have walked down to the office and back during the time that I was worrying myself and the instrument. That sort of thing did not happen in Queensland. If the general public here experience the same trouble as I do in regard to the telephone service, they are asked to pay very much more than it is worth. The Postmaster- General ought to see if the service cannot be improved.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania).- In the Estimates for the Postmaster-General’s department that were circulated some months ago, the following item relating to expenditure in the department in Tasmania appeared -
To provide for increases to salaries of deserving officers in receipt of £160 per annum and over that amount, in accordance with the practice at time of transfer, £504.
I have drawn the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to this item once or twice before, and have endeavoured to ascertain how the £504 would be distributed, what officers would participate in the honoraria, and upon whose recommendation they would be granted. We are now practically at the end of the financial year, and I should like to ask whether, in anticipation of the Estimates being passed as they stand, that sum has been distributed ; or if not, is it intended to distribute it before the end of the financial year? Will the PostmasterGeneral also tell us the names of the officers and the particular amounts which they have received or will receive?
– I do not know whether Senator Stewart’s trouble in regard to the telephone was thathe was unable to get his call answered, or whether he could not get switched on to the person with whom he wished to communicate.
– I got switched on and switched offagain.
– The line may have been engaged. Probably the person to whom Senator Stewart desired to speak over the telephone was using the instrument at the time. That is frequently a cause of delay. As to Senator Keating’s question, I believe that the increases in pay of officers in the Postal department in Tasmania will be paid up to the end of the financial year. The amount is small, and the recommendation that it should be paid was made by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral.
– Has it been decided to whom this money shall go ?
– I believe not. The, matter has not yet come under my notice, and I anticipate that it will not be distributed until the end of the financial year.
– Will the Minister make inquiry?
– I will.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I wish to make a complaint similar to that made by Senator Stewart in regard to the telephone system, not because I wish to get any one into trouble, but because, knowing that many people are anxious that the system should be in private hands, I desire to see it carried out as well as possible by the State. It is really in the interests of the officers of the service that any mistakes should be pointed out. When at Middle Brighton recently, I had occasion to telephone to a doctor. I was switched on after trouble, and we were cut off twice during the course of our conversation. On another occasion, jocular remarks were passed by the officials while we were speaking over the telephone. If there are any officials who are in the habit of indulging in jocular remarks, I wish they would reserve them for some other time, in order that the public may receive the best attention possible.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I wish to ask leave of the Senate to move a motion without notice, and I presume that there will not be a dissentient voice. My desire is to move a motion expressing our regret at the approaching departure of His Excellency the Governor-General, and recording our high appreciation ofthe manner in which he has fulfilled the duties of his office. The reason why the motion is necessary is this : As the Senate knows, the House of Representatives wishes to adjourn this week and will not meet again until after the Governor-General’s departure from the Commonwealth. That being so, they have passed to-day an address to His Excellency in words similar to that which I shall move. They propose to present the address to His Excellency, through Mr. Speaker, at the levée to be held on Thursday next, Coronation Day, and it would seem desirable that we should present our address through the President at the same time. I move -
That the standing orders be suspended, toenable a motion to be moved without notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That this House expresses its great regret at the approaching departure of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and records its high appreciation of the manner in which he has fulfilled the duties of His Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth.
The expressions of individual members of the Senate on several occasions have been so strong in commendation of His Excellency’s conduct in the discharge of his high office, that I do not think it necessary to say very much in support of this motion, but I may say that our appreciation of His Excellency’s conduct of the duties of his high office has perhaps been strengthened by the circumstances under which unfortunately he has found it necessary to sever his connexion with Australia. Undoubtedly he entered upon the dischargeof the duties of his office with a very deep sense of their importance. He esteemed it a very high honour to be connected with the early days of the Commonwealth as Governor-General, and I feel that it would have been impossible for any man in the position to have given more earnest thought or more devotion to the duties of his office. I am sure I am expressing the feeling of every honorable senator present, when I say that we regret his departure, and that we wish him many years of usefulness in high offices in the Empire. May I add to that that we express also our appreciation of the conduct of his gracious wife in her place, and that we wish them both many years of happiness.
– In the absence of Senator Symon, for which I have been requested to apologize to the Senate, I rise with very great pleasure to second the motion made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. It is, I am sure, a motion in which we all most heartily concur. We regret the loss of a. man whose services have undoubtedly teen of great assistance in the carrying on of the business of the Commonwealth so for. We know that this gentleman occupied the position of Governor of the State of Victoria for many years. His services in that position were of a most acceptable character, and were recognised not. only by the people of hisown State, but by the people of the whole of the States. When the news of his appointment to the high office he was called upon to fill was made known throughout the Commonwealth, I believe there was not a single State in which it was not recognised that the choice of the GovernorGeneral had been worthily made, and that no better selection was possible. It is in common with others that I express very deep regret that His Excellency should have deemed it necessary to sever his connexion with the Commonwealth. Whatever may have been the circumstances which have given rise to his decision, we can all fully recognise the fact that His Excellency has acted in the way -which he thought conducive to the dignity of the position he believed ought to be occupied by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth. I joininthehope that His Excellency may in future be called upon to fill many other positions of dignity and honour in connexion with the Empire. Further, I recognise that in him we shall have one on the other side of the world whose interests in the success and prosperity of the Commonwealth will be as keen as can be the interest of any individual residing here or elsewhere. Senator Symon wished me to say that he very much regretted that he had not the opportunity of being in his place at this late period of the afternoon. We can all join heartily in the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council with reference to His Excellency’s wife. While we regret deeply the loss of His Excellency, we hope our loss will be his gain in other high and important positions that he may be called upon to occupy.
SenatorMcGREGOR (South Australia). - I also wish to join in the general expression of regret at the departure of His Excellency the Governor-General. With others, I sincerely hope that in his future career he may never occupy a less important position than that of Governor-General of the Commonwealth. I am sure that when, in the days to come, Lord Hopetoun will hear of the prosperity and progress made by the Commonwealth of Australia, it will give him as much pleasure as he now feels pain at departing from Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Con- nor) -
That the Customs Tariff Bill be further considered in committee on Monday, 30th June.
Besotted (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Monday, 30th June.
The Senate adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020620_senate_1_11/>.